Dohiyi Mir
    In Which NTodd Says His Peace

Sunday, June 22, 2003
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No WMD? No Problem!

It's old news by now, but still a burr in my saddle: people think we've found WMD in Iraq. One-third believe it. Small wonder, given all the breathless accounts of finding weapons. Sure, they're accompanyed by caveats such as "initial tests indicate", but it all leads to an impression that we have in fact found the WMD that justified this war--especially when there are no retractions/corrections when yet another "find" is shown to be fertilizer or a truck built for something else.

What's heartening to me is that more people are now more skeptical about all this. Would that they had a healthy dose of skepticism before the war, rather than deriding those of us who argued against it. But I will not cry over spilt milk; rather, I am happy to see that 58% of Americans say it matters that we find the weapons--there's an excellent post over at DailyKos that provides 8 reasons why WMD does in fact matter. According to a recent Gallup Poll, 51% also support the idea of congressional hearings to figure out what the government knew about Iraq's WMD before the war:

Because only a third of Americans feel the administration misled the public about Iraq's possession of WMD before the war began, we might estimate that no more than a third would support holding congressional hearings into what the government knew. But the idea of holding such congressional hearings is supported by slightly more than half of the public...

[The question], it should be noted, asked respondents about the concept of hearings concerning what the "government" -- not the Bush administration -- knew about Iraq's capabilities to produce WMD when the United States went to war with Iraq. This suggests a little less partisan response to the question, a hypothesis supported by the fact that a third of Republicans say such hearings should be held (still less, of course, than the 57% of independents and 61% of Democrats who support congressional hearings).

It is also possible that some Americans support the idea of looking into what the intelligence community knew or didn't know about the WMD issue regardless of whether they believe the information was skewed or "spun" by the Bush administration. Faulty information is faulty information regardless of how it is used.

Very interesting how the formulation of questions impacts results. I also find the last para to be quite insightful. Well, let's go find out what we knew, and when we knew it.

I was completely against this war, as I am against all war, on moral grounds so none of the justifications for invasion wash with me. But here's the reason I want hearings on WMD: we need to uphold our democratic principles. You know, the principles now being trotted out as the ex post facto reason for the invasion, now that the WMD has gone AWOL.

Our democracy (I'm using the word in its colloquial sense, so spare me the lectures about our being a "republic") requires transparency. Our democracy requires the people to be able to make informed decisions. Our democracy requires accountability.

I've heard people say "well, lots of people, including Clinton, thought Iraq had WMD". Indeed, intelligence is not perfect. I don't expect anybody in the government to know exactly what's going on in other countries. We overestimated the Soviet threat for decades, so why should our messing up on Iraq be a surprise? However, we didn't invade the Soviet Union based on our imperfect knowledge. Nor did Clinton (or anybody else) invade Iraq based on faulty intelligence.

In contrast, Bush did invade Iraq. Did he lie to do so? I'll reserve judgement for now. Many stories suggest that the US and UK governments did try to massage information to put things in the best (or worst) possible light to garner support for invasion. But I honestly don't know, which is why we need an investigation of some sort. This isn't about a president evading irrelevant questions about sex. This is about why we went to war, and we need to know how we were lead to it.

At best, the situation is that somebody just screwed up on reading the available intelligence. If so, that's troubling in its own right because we still don't have a real idea of what threatens our security, and we will be a threat to world peace, as we lash out at perceived dangers without international support. At worst, we were lied to. If so, our democracy itself is at risk, and the threat is from within.



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A non-violent, counter-dominant, left-liberal, possibly charismatic, quasi anarcho-libertarian Quaker's take on politics, volleyball, and other esoterica.

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