Attacking the intelligence used to justify invading Iraq is by no means the only basis for critique of the war in Iraq. Reasonable objections can be had about the success of the war itself as a part of the overall war on terror and our own stated goals of establishing democracy in the Middle East. However, we should not confuse unforseen and negative consequences (endemic to war in general) as specific critiques of the Iraq war. These critiques are not unique to this conflict. To be sure, incidences of torture, US soldier and Iraqi civilian casualty, and continued unrest, are regrettable. However, they are general critiques of war and must be weighed against justifiable reason for going to war.
In my Modern Germany class I have recently focused my reading and study on post-WWII Germany. De-Nazification (like de-Baathification) was a difficult proposition. Millions of German citizens were given surveys to determine their level of commitment to the Nazi party–it was a nearly impossible effort to separate the sheep from the goats. From these surveys came thousands of trials including the famous Nuremberg trials. US officials were left with difficult decisions–many of those with ties to the Nazi party were the highly trained officials needed to help rebuild war-torn Germany. That, combined with the threat of Communism curtailed many of the trials and led to widespread amnesty for former Nazi collaborators. It seems that history has repeated itself at least in this instance. Eventually the common threat of communism brought the US and Germany into a tight alliance. Germany embraced free-market and democratic principles and eschewed the Marxist elements of German society. Founded on these principles they experienced miraculous growth and recovery–in large part due to the successes of the Marshall Plan–and became a strong ally in the Cold War where they had previously been our greatest enemy. There is potential for the same thing to occur in Iraq. We are betting that free-market principles will bring prosperity and that democratic ideals will foster resistance of islami-fascism.
Now, the second part of “Who Is Lying About Iraq” by NORMAN PODHORETZ
The main “lie” that George W. Bush is accused of telling us is that Saddam Hussein possessed an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction, or WMD as they have invariably come to be called. From this followed the subsidiary “lie” that Iraq under Saddam’s regime posed a two-edged mortal threat. On the one hand, we were informed, there was a distinct (or even “imminent”) possibility that Saddam himself would use these weapons against us or our allies; and on the other hand, there was the still more dangerous possibility that he would supply them to terrorists like those who had already attacked us on 9/11 and to whom he was linked.
This entire scenario of purported deceit was given a new lease on life by the indictment in late October of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, then chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney. Mr. Libby stands accused of making false statements to the FBI and of committing perjury in testifying before a grand jury that had been convened to find out who in the Bush administration had “outed” Valerie Plame, a CIA agent married to the retired ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV. The supposed purpose of leaking this classified information to the press was to retaliate against Mr. Wilson for having “debunked” (in his words) “the lies that led to war.”
Now, as it happens, Mr. Libby was not charged with having outed Ms. Plame but only with having lied about when and from whom he first learned that she worked for the CIA. Moreover, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor who brought the indictment against him, made a point of emphasizing that “this indictment is not about the war”:
This indictment is not about the propriety of the war. And people who believe fervently in the war effort, people who oppose it, people who have mixed feelings about it should not look to this indictment for any resolution of how they feel or any vindication of how they feel.
This is simply an indictment that says, in a national-security investigation about the compromise of a CIA officer’s identity that may have taken place in the context of a very heated debate over the war, whether some person–a person, Mr. Libby–lied or not. No matter. Harry Reid, the Democratic leader in the Senate, spoke for a host of other opponents of the war in insisting:
This case is bigger than the leak of classified information. It is about how the Bush White House manufactured and manipulated intelligence in order to bolster its case for the war in Iraq and to discredit anyone who dared to challenge the president.
Yet even stipulating–which I do only for the sake of argument–that no weapons of mass destruction existed in Iraq in the period leading up to the invasion, it defies all reason to think that Mr. Bush was lying when he asserted that they did. To lie means to say something one knows to be false. But it is as close to certainty as we can get that Mr. Bush believed in the truth of what he was saying about WMD in Iraq.
How indeed could it have been otherwise? George Tenet, his own CIA director, assured him that the case was “a slam dunk.” This phrase would later become notorious, but in using it, Mr. Tenet had the backing of all 15 agencies involved in gathering intelligence for the United States. In the National Intelligence Estimate of 2002, where their collective views were summarized, one of the conclusions offered with “high confidence” was that “Iraq is continuing, and in some areas expanding its chemical, biological, nuclear, and missile programs contrary to UN resolutions.”
The intelligence agencies of Britain, Germany, Russia, China, Israel and–yes–France all agreed with this judgment. And even Hans Blix–who headed the U.N. team of inspectors trying to determine whether Saddam had complied with the demands of the Security Council that he get rid of the weapons of mass destruction he was known to have had in the past–lent further credibility to the case in a report he issued only a few months before the invasion:
The discovery of a number of 122-mm chemical rocket warheads in a bunker at a storage depot 170 km [105 miles] southwest of Baghdad was much publicized. This was a relatively new bunker, and therefore the rockets must have been moved there in the past few years, at a time when Iraq should not have had such munitions. . . . They could also be the tip of a submerged iceberg. The discovery of a few rockets does not resolve but rather points to the issue of several thousands of chemical rockets that are unaccounted for.
Mr. Blix now claims that he was only being “cautious” here, but if, as he now also adds, the Bush administration “misled itself” in interpreting the evidence before it, he at the very least lent it a helping hand.