Why, oh why does it really matter if some folks got their pretzels bent out of shape because the they are laboring under the horrific misapprehension that the administration "lied" to them about WMD's? Why, I ask? Because willful reinvention and revision of history simply feeds future misconceptions and misunderstandings that fuel future conflict (howsoever described). Mutual comprehension goes a long way to avoiding future strife, and the kind of violent misunderstanding of basic issues that I see on the fringes of the anti-war movement provides a fertile breeding ground for the kind of activism that will needlessly introduce wayward youth to pepper spray for generations to come.
First, we have the allegations that the administration just magically decided that Iraq had WMD, and the entire rest of the world just decided to believe us (because Bush, of course, is gifted
with such a silver toungue.) I would post links to the allegations, but I leave that as an exercise to the reader (and due to the fact that the allegations are uninteresting, tedious and fatuous, and I'm afraid my mouse will rebel on me if I try to post such links.)
Secondly, we have the rebuttals
to and commentaries
on both the WMD deception argument, as well as various
discussions about the related charge
that the war was about OOIIILLLL!!!!! Never mind the fact that I have yet to hear a single, solitary explanation of how that was supposed to work mechanically or economically. Presumably the president was supposed to hide several million barrels of oil per day underneath his hat or something and sidle through the diplomatic channels at customs in Houston, where he would drop off the oil at Haliburton on his commute to the White House. Or something. Seriously, if there's a soul alive who can supposedly "explain" how Bush is personally taking advantage of the oil for him and his "buddies" (without using some discredited dependency theory/world systems gibberish) I would most certainly welcome and explanation.
All that nattering aside, Mean Mr. Mustard hits
on one of the more subtle, but much more significant elements of the debate regarding the Iraq War. Namely that some of the most compelling arguments
for the war are essentially unrelated to the misunderstanding of the WMD issue. When the US was busy crafting it's war policy, (see links related to Wolfowitz's Vanity Fair interview
and quote manipulation), the decision was made to let WMDs headline the show, since it was believed that the US public were too damn dense to support the idea of putting paid to clearly recognizable evil. Now that we've noticed things like mass graves
with 15,000 Iraqis, we've started to take a bit different view on the moral use of force in US foreign policy. We've now started (for the first time in decades) to view the US military as a force for good in a world that's become all too Hobbesean with the current conflict
in the Congo
, or the junta that's doing to human rights
in Burma what the Romans did to the Christian in the coliseum with lions.
Now the easy thing to do would be to duly note that conflict has become globalized
and we are presented with a unique situation in which all likely foes are also, by odd coincidence, regimes that are both morally beyond defense and isolated economically and politically from the world community. It is becoming increasingly apparent
that the regimes that are the most problematic
are also the ones which now demand regime change. There are now cries from those who opposed the war in Iraq asking
that we now send troops and money to fight in the Congo. Sadly, though, the military cutbacks have cut deep enough that we really don't have
the military wherewithal to go be a global peacekeeper. Some have suggested
the use of Private Military Companies (PMCs), given their successful
use in places like Sierra Leone.
Predictably, there are those who are opposed to the use of PMC's, because they are just so darned capitalist:
"Although, an op-ed in today's Washington Post promotes the godawful idea of using a for-profit army (I suppose you could call the piece an ad rather than an op-ed, since it was written by the president of "an organization founded to promote greater use of private firms in international peacekeeping," which "is funded by companies involved in peace operations.") -- as if profit hadn't already caused enough problems in the Congo." SOURCE
I think it would be safe to suppose that the folks who
still don't think that globalization itself is inevitable and must be harnessed successfully still probably cling to the notion that money and corporations are icky and any attempt to use armies, private or otherwise, in the places like the Congo will simply be an attempt for Big Corporations to go exploit the poor, noble brown people of the world. Never mind that there are 3.5 million dead Congolese who might argue that they've managed to be pretty terrible to each other without the help of Evil Corporate America, thankyouverymuch.
Notably, they can be predicted to reject the notion out of hand - not because their rejection has merit, but rather that they labor under the same, discredited apprehensions that encourage people today to clamor over inordinately insane notions that Bush somehow managed to convince the entire world that Iraq had WMD, years before he was even in office. So, in the end it doesn't hurt me if the nut-jobs
with the oh-so clever placards
and drum circles for peace continue to wallow in self-delusion. It does, however, matter to the people in the gulags, being chopped to death, or killed and eaten by the hundreds, because the vehemently anti-war folks (the mouthbreathing fuckwits who can't seem to post without throwing in a gratuitous "AmeriKKKa" and "U$") will raise a great cry and hue which will ultimately prevent (or at the very least delay) the deployment of the most effective, cheapest and possibly only realistic means of stopping the ongoing slaughter that characterizes so much of the disconnected third world.
It may be that the greatest good and strongest argument for invading Iraq did happen to be the fact that it stopped the ongoing bloodbath that may have claimed a million
victims. But that simple fact, in and of itself, isn't sufficient to recast future debates on use of force in terms that at least permit the use of force (nationally or otherwise) for the greater moral good. In order to at allow the largest possible freedom of action, the thinking that has driven so much anti-war sentiment must, itself, be attacked, undermined and defeated. Without this freedom of action, the very people the anti-war protestors were supposedly protesting on behalf of will do untold and unimaginable harm to those very same poor, benighted masses they held all those teach-ins to protect.
UPDATE: Glen Reynolds puts together a rather good collection
of excerpts and links on the whole "Bush Lied on WMD" and responses.