The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Monday, June 02, 2003  

They're Spinning as Fast as They Can

Thanks for all the talking points faxes, guys, but you can relax, at least a little bit. The word is getting out, and it coincides nicely with your outlines. Our guardians of virtue and rectitude, including, today, William Safire and the gang at The Wall Street Journal, are already spinning as fast as they can.

Here's Safire, ("'You Lied to Us'," New York Times, June 2), that nattering nabob of necromancy, raising the ghosts of Nixon and Agnew:

Turn now to the charge heard ever more stridently that U.S. and British leaders, in their eagerness to overthrow Saddam and to turn the tide of terror in the Middle East, "hyped" the intelligence that Iraq possessed germ and poison-gas weapons.

"Hype" means "exaggerate." As used by those who were prepared to let Saddam remain in power, it is prelude to a harsh accusation: "You lied to us. You pretended to have evidence that you never had; you twisted dubious intelligence to suit your imperialistic ends, so we were morally right and you were morally wrong."

Never mind the mass graves now being unearthed of an estimated 300,000 victims, which together with the million deaths in his wars make Saddam the biggest mass murderer of Muslims in all history. Never mind his undisputed financing of suicide bombers and harboring of terrorists, from Al Qaeda's Abu Musaab al-Zarqawi to the veteran killer Abu Nidal (the only "suicide" with three bullets in his head, dispatched in Baghdad probably because he knew too much[])[.]

And never mind our discovery of two mobile laboratories designed to produce biological and chemical agents capable of causing mass hysteria and death in any city in the world. Future discoveries will be dismissed as "dual use" or planted by us.

No; the opponents of this genocidal maniac's removal now accuse President Bush and Prime Minister Blair of a colossal hoax. Because Saddam didn't use germs or gas on our troops, they say, that proves Iraq never had them. If we cannot find them right away, they don't exist. They believe Saddam sacrificed tens of billions in oil revenues for no reason at all.

A strong majority of Americans believe he did have a dangerous program running, as he did before.

I like that last bit. As if the opinion of the proverbial man on the street mattered in this regard. "Hey, Joe, you think Saddam had WMD?" "Hell yeah, Bill!" "Okay by me then."

Safire continues:

When weighing the murky evidence of an aggressive tyranny's weapons, President Bush and Prime Minister Blair were obliged to take no chances. The burden on proof was on Saddam. By his contempt, he invited invasion; by its response, the coalition established the credibility of its resolve. There was no "intelligence hoax."

Well, there you have it.

Meanwhile, downtown, the boys at the Journal's editorial page contribute their own calumnies, misrepresentations, and straw men ("Weapons of Mass Distortion," The Wall Street Journal," June 2):

To certain critics of U.S. policy in Iraq, the only thing worse than going to war with Saddam Hussein is the fact that we won. This they can never forgive -- which is why they are now trying to make a war crime out of the fact that the allies haven't yet found caches of weapons of mass destruction.

For these opponents of war, it isn't enough that a tyrant and his psychopath sons have been deposed. It doesn't count that mass graves have been uncovered, that torture chambers have been exposed, or that Saddam's victims can speak freely for the first time in 30 years. The critics are now claiming the war was illegitimate because no one has yet found a pile of anthrax in downtown Baghdad.

What seems to be going on here is an attempt to damage the credibility of Mr. Blair, President Bush and other war supporters. If their backing for the war is morally vindicated, they will emerge as even larger forces on the world stage, and so they must be tarnished after the fact as dissemblers….

As to the undiscovered WMD, Iraq is larger than Germany and much of it remains unsearched. As Mr. Bush noted in Poland this weekend, the U.S. has already found two of the mobile biological labs that Colin Powell fingered before the war. Yesterday Mr. Blair added that he's seen more evidence that he will soon make public. But it is also possible that Saddam destroyed much of it, or that some was taken out of the country.

Whether or not WMD is found takes nothing away from the Iraq war victory. The allies liberated a country of 22 million people, rid the world of a terrorist ally and have begun a process that may well create a more stable and prosperous Arab world. The credibility gap lies with those who were opposed to achieving all of that.

They were destroyed, moved, hidden beyond conceivable discovery, we need more time, Iraq is larger than Germany, Iraq is larger than California, they weren't really why we went in to Iraq, you people are never happy, everybody hates George Bush, the left loves dictators. All the major talking points are in there. The only thing missing is the old saw about the CIA being filled with "Ivy League liberals." Too dated, that one.

But Safire and the WSJ's editors miss -- or rather, deliberately obfuscate -- the point entirely. Truth matters. Credibility counts. Deceit destroys. The full truth of the matter, and it's a serious matter, is not known. Why is asking for it being cast as something akin to treason?

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