Clinton and Hussein - parallel defense
Posted by aogSaturday, 10 May 2003 at 23:11 TrackBack Ping URL
I realize that the blogosphere has done this to death, but I just have to vent about the obsession with finding WMD in Iraq because it came up in conversation this evening. Let's assume that, contrary to an enormous amount of evidence, that the Ba'ath neither had such weapons nor were trying to build them. So what? If that turns out to be true, does that mean we have to give back Iraq to the Ba'ath so they can continue their reign of terror?

Suppose President Bush just flat out lied about the WMD, that it was all just a cover for invading Iraq. This would be completely different from FDR's cirumlocutions to cover his gettting us involved in the European theater of WWII.

But I do see a parallel with the defense of Clinton (not too strangely since it's to a large extent the same people). In both cases the focus is on the basic act (bonking the intern or trying to build WMD) while completely ignoring the open defiance of law and comity. I just heard part of an interview with Senator Bumpers and he still maintains that the issue was the physical deed with Lewinsky, not the lieing, the perjury or the abuse of power (such as using the Cabinet as a propaganda tool in what was effectively a private legal matter). In the same way the focus on WMD is the same kind of narrow focus with the same purpose — to excuse and disregard the other crimes committed in conjunction with the basic infraction. If one just asks “were WMD found in Iraq” one can evade the question of whether the Ba'ath had any obligation to cooperate with the UN and the US in looking for WMD or to comply with the terms of the ceasefire. The logic is that if no WMD are found then any crime committed with regard to WMD is irrelevant. It's all about political battles in the US.

It's the new isolationism, not ignorance of foreign affairs but their complete subordination to domestic political agendas and perforce a complete lack of concern about what is going on in the world outside of the US. Is that not the essence of isolationism?

Comments — Formatting by Textile
barney gumble Monday, 12 May 2003 at 21:33

“Let’s assume that, contrary to an enormous amount of evidence, that the Ba’ath neither had such weapons nor were trying to build them. So what?”

What “enormous amount of evidence”?

Annoying Old Guy Monday, 12 May 2003 at 21:42

I suppose we could start with Halabja where the Ba’ath regime used poison gas which is generally considered a WMD. The actual use of something is fairly strong evidence of possessing that something. It was known that there were much larger stockpiles of these materials, very little of which was ever accounted for.

We could also look at Saddam Hussein’s behaviour from 1991 until the present, when he made very strenuous efforts to disrupt, disable and ultimate disband the UN weapon inspectors. Or we could consider the capture of Ba’ath scientists who were working on biological weapons.

We could consider the testimony of refugees and defectors who described in detail efforts to create chemical, biological and nuclear weapons in Iraq.

We could ask, why was the Osirak reactor built? The need for energy in the country with second largest oil reserves on the planet?

barney gumble Tuesday, 13 May 2003 at 11:57

I didn’t make it clear I was talking about post 1991- UN resolutions 592, 619 & 620 (if I recall the numbers correctly) make it clear they were using chemical weapons.

Saddam’s behavior: The co-operation vanished once it was clear that the goal was regime change (public statement by Clinton, 1994, but made obvious by departing Bush admin officials before then). Asking Saddam to participate in his own downfall is a little much of his good will.

testimony of refugees and defectors: The one who left Iraq before 1991? The admin has now scraped the bottom of the barrel of credibility and is claiming the scientists are ‘afraid to come forward’-and this is after we occupy the place. Ri-ight.

Osirak reactor: Again, pre 1991.

Annoying Old Guy Tuesday, 13 May 2003 at 13:38

What cooperation? Saddam Hussein never cooperated. He obstructed the process from day one. The efforts to which the Ba’ath went constitute for me “enormous evidence” all by themselves.

I also don’t see what difference it makes whether things are pre or post 1991. What happened in 1991 that would have eliminated any WMD programs in place before 1991? Did we occupy the country and conduct a thorough search that I missed? Was a free press put in place? Did the UN inspectors get unfettered access to search?

As for asking Saddam Hussein to participate in his own downfall, I agree that that was silly. Note that had we done the job right in 1991 that would not have been necessary. Clearly President Bush has learned from that because we won’t be needing to ask Saddam Hussein or the Ba’ath for anything ever again.

End of Discussion