Memory Lane

While searching for a cite to back up the bold assertions in my rant about Andrew Sullivan – i had pangs of guilt that the blog entry I linked to did not support my boldest assertions (still looking) – I came across this at The Daily Howler. Taking it at face value, it shows how, even back in 2002, the conservative cheerleaders for the war were dismissing anyone who councilled caution. Not by addressing their arguments head-on, but by constructing grotesque charicatures of their arguments and addressing those instead.

This bit (from 2002, remember) stood out for me :

KRAUTHAMMER: But, ah, there is a third way. It is the position of Democratic Party elders Al Gore, Ted Kennedy (both of whom delivered impassioned speeches attacking the president’s policy) and, as far as can be determined, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle. This third way accepts all the premises of the antiwar camp. It gives us all the reasons why war could be catastrophic: chemical or bio-weapon attacks, door-to-door fighting in Baghdad, alienating allies, destroying the worldwide coalition of the war on terror, encouraging the recruitment of new terrorists, etc.

Moreover, they argue, deterrence works. “I have seen no persuasive evidence,” said Kennedy, “that Saddam would not be deterred from attacking U.S. interests by America’s overwhelming military superiority.” So far, so good. But then these senior Democratic critics, having eviscerated the president’s premises, proceed to enthusiastically endorse his conclusion—that Saddam Hussein’s weapons facilities must be subjected to the most intrusive and far-reaching inspection, and that if he cheats and refuses to cooperate, we must go to war against him.

“This is utterly incoherent,” Krauthammer rails. After all, if deterrence works, why would you need to conduct inspections? Why would you ever need war?

It is jarring to note that most of the opinions that Krauthammer was so quick to ridicule back in 2002 – in the no-one-could-have-predicted era – have come to pass. It turns out that deterrence and inspections did work. If we had continued with the inspections – as Kennedy and Chirac and Blix among oh-so-many-others were arguing back then we would have discovered that, in fact, deterrence and inspections had worked and Saddam did not have weapons of mass destruction. We might also have less alienated allies, recruited less new terrorists, lost less coalition soldiers to door-to-door fighting and we might still have a worldwide coalition in the War on Terror. I am not brave enough to predict what might have happened in Gaza, Lebanon, North Korea, Afghanistan and Iran had an intact coalition with the full force of the pre-emasculation United Nations been behind the War on Terror. Remember the pre-war support for America ?

If this sounds like a big I-told-you-so, I half-heartedly apologize for that.

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Ragged Clown

Based in San Jose, California

5 thoughts on “Memory Lane”

  1. The problem is that the UN was being actively emasculated at the time by Saddam. The games he played with the UN weapons inspectors should be a case study in how to turn an authority figure into a laughingstock. And I don’t mean Saddam. It’s disingenuous to claim that we knew he didn’t have any weapons of mass destruction at the time, because he was ignoring UN instpection demands. How long should it take to determine whether inspections and sanctions work to avoid an “I told you so”?

  2. Among the mainstream anti-war opinion of the time, the most prominent memes were that a) the inspections were being successful b) they should continue and c) if the USA/CIA had any evidence to the contrary they should pass it on to Hans Blix and catch Saddam with a smoking gun. If that (c) had happened, the coalition against Saddam would have been overwhelming. The provisional opinion of the UN Inspectors was that there seemed to be NO weapons of mass destruction (because the previous round of inspections in the mid-90s were successful) and that if they were allowed to continue they would have conclusive proof one way or another.

    You may remember that Bush&Co claimed ‘Material Breach’ as the causus belli meaning that while Saddam may not actually have any WMD per-se, he failed to file form UN1139Subsection E which is justification for any-damn-thing-whatsoever.

    We couldn’t prove for certain that he did not have WMD but if Bush&Co had one tiny iota of the evidence that they claimed to have had it would have been game, set and match.

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