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March 24, 2004

More Dreams of the Path Not Taken

The President and his supporters are finding themselves required to address an ever-shifting field of what-ifs — as there has been no shortage of pundits to note. Clifford May makes a great point in this vein:

By contrast, what could President Bush have done between January and September of 2001? By that point, the terrorists had made their plans and were living in the U.S. Even if President Bush had launched a unilateral, preemptive attack against the Taliban and al Qaeda, the 9/11 suicide terrorists might have proceeded to fulfill their missions. Indeed, some would have said that 9/11 was in reprisal for the assaults on al Qaeda and the Taliban.

Moreover, the entire anti-preemption brigade, from journalists to Jesuits, would have swung into action, just as they did when it came to Iraq. In fact, the Taliban had the additional advantage that it didn't have a globally recognized history of border-state invasion and internal WMD attacks, and their culture was sufficiently foreign to cloak its tyranny. (Pious-looking robes are much more conducive to a palatable international image than a military uniform is.)

Of course, we now know that one coal-shoveler for the what-if flames, Richard Clarke, preempted his current assault by making contradictory claims in the past. I can't be alone in my complete astonishment that somebody would publish a book, tour the national media, and testify to Congress as Clarke has done in full knowledge of potential landmines that he himself set years ago. It brings to mind something from a post by Demosophia Scott to which I linked yesterday:

As someone with a fairly good grasp of the situation recently observed, after noting that both Lieberman and Biden had disavowed Clarke's allegations as false and devoid of fact: "Wow, these guys seem like suicide bombers. They destroy their own reputation in an attempt to be part of the angry left."
Posted by Justin Katz at March 24, 2004 3:05 PM