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October 22, 2004

If Only the West Wanted the West to Win

I first became aware of Cliff May when he was the Republican on a show that pitted hyperpartisans against each other. The hyperpartisan Democrat — some former politician or other — ran out of arguments against the point that May was making and resorted to the weasel's undermining strategy of complimenting his opponent on how well he "does his job." The implication being, of course, that May's arguments didn't count, that they couldn't be sincerely offered, because his job was to spin, and he was spinning.

So, yes, there are such considerations to be made when reading a piece that he recently wrote about the confirmed case for war in Iraq, including the insistence that we can't yet discount the possibility of WMDs:

For another, because no one — including opponents of the war — knew that Saddam no longer had WMD stockpiles.

And Gen. Michael DeLong, former Deputy Commander of the US Central Command, is among those who still do not believe it. "There was WMD in Iraq before and during the war," he says. "You have multiple-source intelligence. Also, from other Arab leaders -- as Tommy Franks [the general who led the U.S. operation to liberate Iraq] says in his book -- King Abdullah said Saddam has WMD. President Mubarek of Egypt said ... Saddam has weapons of mass destruction. Other leaders who have chosen not to be named said the same thing. We had technical intelligence that saw the same thing."

What happened to those weapons? General DeLong recalls: "Two days before March 19, 2003, we saw quite a number of vehicles going into Syria. We could not go after them because we said we'd give Saddam 48 hours. A lot of (Iraqi) leaders went into Syria, and a lot of WMD went into Syria. We've gotten indications some went into Lebanon, and probably some went into Iran. ...We've done calculations that you could probably bury 16 Eiffel Towers or Empire State Buildings and never find them in the desert."

Still, the question isn't whether May has ulterior motives for writing such a column; it's whether he makes any valid points. It has become a cliché to refer to "experiencing history in the making," but I don't think I've ever felt the truth of the phrase more than in the post-war argument over WMDs. Don't ever forget how quickly the storyline became that none existed. For a variety of reasons, analysis of the world as-is isn't often performed with an emphasis on exhausting all possible explanations, as well as others that might negate them.

At the very least, history will vindicate George W. Bush's decision, I'm confident. And it's hardly a stretch to hold that history may prove that we were wrong to declare ourselves wrong about some of its justifications.

Posted by Justin Katz at October 22, 2004 8:04 AM
International Affairs

If (and I truly believe that is the correct qualifier) GWB's decision is vindicated (more than the Duelfer report has already done so), I am worried at the method of that vindication being death on a massive scale. Assuming the WMD are now being hosted in Syrian territory, what is keeping the Syrian's in check in its usage? Or have they already developed a plan for clandestine use and sit awaiting completion of logistics?

Posted by: smmtheory at October 22, 2004 3:07 PM