Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Iraq Isn't An Oreo (For Either Side)

(Okay, if nothing else, that title has to be in the running for Most Cryptic On This Site)

An AP article today mentions that - once again - the search for WMDs in Iraq has ended. It actually ended around January 12th, but now Charles Duelfer has finished inspecting the remaining documents and the like. What did he find?

Nothing. None of the Iraqi drones that were poised to attack the U.S., none of the "mobile biological labs", not even any of the weapons Rumsfeld pinpointed with stunning accuracy via map dowsing, apparently. No real evidence of the last hope for the "one-armed WMD" people, that the missing weapons were transported to Syria before the war. In other words, the whole WMD issue was, at the least, seriously overblown. Like a force 5 hurricane is, at the least, a reason to cancel a picnic.

That doesn't matter to many people, who say that the Iraqi war was justified for other reasons, namely Saddam's brutal dictatorship. This may be true - however, this was not how Bush and the war's supporters pitched it. In the Joint Resolution, the main issue is Saddam's supposed weapons buildup, with human rights and UN sanctions being a distant second and third. In speeches again and again, the weapon issue was hit hard and often, with abuse stories playing the roles of understudies. The truth is America knew Saddam was a bastard and an inhuman man who made Caligula seem like Mr. Rogers since at least 1991, if not before - and mostly didn't think this reason was enough to go to war. It was after 9/11, and after the President and his staff began saying Saddam was armed to the teeth (and not incidentally implying over and over that Iraq/Hussein was also involved in 9/11, something completely unproven) that the invasion became palatable to the public.

Simply put - the WMD issue is what the Iraqi war was mainly about, and now that's it's been shown to be wrong, there should be consequences. You don't treat argument for going to war like an Oreo cookie, splitting apart the wrong facts and only ingesting the right ones. If nothing else, the intelligence failures must make us very nervous about Iran and North Korea, vis-a-vis nuclear power. Do we have the right information, do we have the wrong information, can we just say that they're dictators and therefore it doesn't matter about anything else? It does. I have no doubt that Saddam's evilness was on the minds of Bush and company. But if you're told your house is infested with termites and must be destroyed, and after you find it wasn't, you wouldn't accept an excuse of, "Well, the home's value was going down anyway."

Again, Bush and company cannot dodge the blame for the mistakes they made on the grounds that they did some good things. However, Bush and company shouldn't be condemned for the good they did because they made some mistakes.

The elections in Iraq were an inspiring time - and it should shame us that people here kvetch about bad weather and skip voting while Iraqis risked attacks to do so. The fact that Iraq may - and I do emphasize may - became a democracy should be hoped for and encouraged. And Bush and company should get the credit for that. Again, you don't just take the parts of the argument YOU agree with, like the cream in an Oreo, and ignore those annoying other parts you don't prefer. Accept it all - there were mistakes made and there were successes done. People who demand total exoneration or total excoriation are completely wrong.

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