Saturday, April 04, 2015

Afraid of what they wouldn't find

Another Iraq war anniversary season brings another Iraq defence, this time from Judith Miller (in the Wall Street Journal), she being a key media conduit for incorrect intelligence about Iraq's weapons programs --

One could argue, however, that Hans Blix, the former chief of the international weapons inspectors, bears some responsibility. Though he personally opposed an invasion, Mr. Blix told the U.N. in January 2003 that despite America’s ultimatum, Saddam was still not complying fully with his U.N. pledges. In February, he said “many proscribed weapons and items,” including 1,000 tons of chemical agent, were still “not accounted for.”

From the George Bush de facto declaration of war, 17 March 2003 --

All the decades of deceit and cruelty have now reached an end. Saddam Hussein and his sons must leave Iraq within 48 hours. Their refusal to do so will result in military conflict, commenced at a time of our choosing. For their own safety, all foreign nationals -- including journalists and inspectors -- should leave Iraq immediately. 

Like others looking back at the buildup to war from the perspective of its supporters, Miller focuses on the quality of pre-war intelligence and the extent to which it permitted conclusions like those George Bush and Dick Cheney presented to the public.

But as the essence of Bush's statement makes clear, the logic of war had metastasized into the belief that Saddam himself was the problem. Note that Bush's statement demands that the UN inspectors leave Iraq, dismissing the only mechanism that could have clarified the WMD situation without another war. Once the war was defined as being about Saddam, it could only end with getting rid of Saddam. It's therefore specious to present Robb-Silberman type parsing of intelligence vagueness as a justification for that logic and decision. 

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