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April 27th, 2003 · No Comments

Tacitus writes that the anti-war side shouldn’t feel vindicated by this ABC News story, which quotes administration officials acknowledging that they didn’t particularly think Iraq was such a threat, but the WMD rationale was played up in order to get allies (and the domestic population) to play along with a bit of “muscle flexing.” (Link via Radley.) He writes:

You were right all along only if you argued that Iraq had no WMD, or that those WMD were no threat and hence no casus belli. As I recall, the proportion of anti-war individuals advancing the former argument was rather small; and the proportion advancing the latter wasn’t much larger. Most of the anti-war crowd implicitly acknowledged Iraqi WMD possession as fact, but said that containment would work; or that it would be a “quagmire”; or that we could fight them later; or that war was ethically improper for unrelated reasons; or that it was just a cover to get the oil, etc. In short, finding out that the WMD line was a ruse to pursue a plan of regional democratization — which observant people knew or suspected anyway — vindicates very few people indeed.

Ok, first of all… huh? Granted, most of us assumed that the administration was at least right about Hussein having WMDs (though even that may prove to have been false), but my recollection is that a message you heard over and over and over on the antiwar side was precisely that Iraq didn’t pose a threat. The only way someone could have missed this is if they were utterly ignoring thoughtful critiques of the war, and assuming that opposition consisted exclusively of idiots with giant puppets and Tim Robbins. Also, what’s with this attempt to separate the “containment” argument from the idea that Iraq isn’t a threat? If you grant that the weapons are there, then saying they don’t constitute a threat amounts to saying that the use of those weapons is unlikely because containment would’ve worked.

Also, I’m delighted that Tacitus knew all along that the administration was lying through its teeth when it argued that invasion was justified by a security threat. But then why were all the “observant” people on the pro-war side talking up that very same security threat with such vigor? Why was so much scorn heaped on anyone who dared to suggest that ulterior motives might be at work? And isn’t there perhaps something amiss if the less-observant bulk of the American population was willing to support this war precisely because they trusted the President on the extent of the threat?

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