This morning’s Boston Globe has an opinion column by H. D. S. Greenway that discusses the war in Iraq, and cites some rather remarkable historical parallels. Greenway puts together a thorough list of prior wars, ones started under false pretenses. Citing the new book of a historian who seems to have a rather leftist bent, Greenway talks about conflicts as long ago as 1893 where the war was arranged by the alleged “aggrieved” nation, and brings it up to 1954 and Israel’s conflict with Egypt.
It’s a shame Mr. Greenway seems to have a political version of Alzheimer’s, where he can recall long-ago events with crystal clarity, but much more recent events escape him.
The two foundations of his argument are the Downing Street memo and the imminent threat of Iraq possessing weapons of mass destruction. And both are very fragile reeds for him to hang his argument upon.
First up, the Downing Street memo. Its authenticity is still highly questionable, but for the sake of this argument I’ll grant it’s authentic. It simply doesn’t say what people seem to want it to say.
First of all, their obsession with the term “fixed.” The term has multiple meanings, and one must look at the context to determine what it means. In the Memo, it’s pretty clear to me (and I like to think I have a pretty good mastery of the English language) that in this context, the meaning of “fixed” is “attached” or “focused,” and not “rigged.”
So, it says that the Bush administration was attached to the idea of removing Saddam. Big whoop. That was the official US government policy, as ratified by Congress and the President in 1998. The great revelation here? That the Bush Administration was continuing the policy authorized by the Clinton Administration, and endorsed by an Act Of Congress.
As far as the “paint a US plane in UN markings” bit, I have nothing to add beyond what I wrote over a month ago. Several commenters with far more experience than I (exactly zero) added quite a bit to the argument, but I stand by my original thoughts: if it was brought up at all, then it was done strictly to eliminate it as a possibility and point out its grotesque stupidity.
As far as Greenway’s second point, the “imminent WMD threat” element. This one is one I used to enjoy going after, but I’m starting to burn out on it.
I challenge anyone — anyone — to actually go back into official records, statements, transcripts, or other documents and show ONE INSTANCE where Bush or any high-ranking member of his administration actually SAID that Saddam posed an imminent threat to the United States, or conclusively possessed WMDs. I was watching the news closely at the time, and they way I recall it, they repeatedly stressed that Saddam was a MOUNTING threat, but NOT imminent — the whole idea was to stop him once it was clear that he wanted to pose such a threat, but before he could.
It was, to me, a sound policy: we’ve spent way too much of our history of waiting and hoping for threats to diminish on their own, and then paying the butcher’s bill when we couldn’t avoid the conflict. Saddam clearly wanted WMDs and to attack the US, and was taking strides towards being able to do just that; had the Bush administration simply waited until he did attack, then there would be loud cries of condemnation for him not stopping Saddam when it could have been done much more easily — and I would have been one of them.
And as far as Saddam’s WMDs — we never said he had them, but that he hadn’t proven that he didn’t. If he was bluffing, hoping to tap-dance around and say he didn’t, but hinting that he might, demanding that we simply trust him, that was as good as finding a bunch of nukes, a couple hundred vials of Ebola, and mountains of Sarin shells. I hate to keep repeating myself, but this is such a non-starter — I took it apart over a year ago, and even then I only did it because I was sick of the intellectual dishonesty behind it.
I really, really hate to use the old saying about how if you repeat a lie often enough, eventually people will believe it’s true — but that seems to be the only rational explanation for Greenway’s piece in the Globe. The only question is whether he’s so stupid he’s bought into the lies, or is he deliberately trying to perpetuate it.
(For the record: I wrote this early this morning, long before Lorie posted this piece. I did NOT crib from her, nor did she crib from me — just an odd coincidence, or perhaps evidence of how pervasive the false meme is becoming.)
Update: a few weeks ago, I busted a critic of mine for sock-puppetry (posting critical, mutually supporting comments under different names). At the time, I said I did not care for it and would expose it when it happens. In that spirit, I have to disclose that “John Kerry,” “Bill Clinton,” “Harry Reid,” “Al Gore,” “Ted Kennedy”, and “Jay Rockefeller” are all posting from the same IP, and it is NOT one that traces back to the US Senate. In fact, it actually corresponds with another regular commenter.
At the time I busted “viet vet,” another regular detractor, “lee,” said that he suspected some of Wizbang’s regular supporters might also be sock puppets. I asked him to pass along names, and I would investigate. He accepted that offer, but has yet to send me a single name.