ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Another Weekend Reading Assignment

In addition to this post at the Mudville Gazette, this Victor Davis Hanson (My Favorite Democrat!) article is a must read:

War & Reconstruction
For Bush’s critics, even hindsight is cloudy.

This is the mantra of the extreme Left: "Bush lied, thousands died." A softer version from politicians now often follows: "If I knew then what I know now, I would never have supported the war."

These sentiments are intellectually dishonest and morally reprehensible for a variety of reasons beyond the obvious consideration that you do not hang out to dry some 150,000 brave Americans on the field of battle while you in-fight over whether they should have ever been sent there in the first place.

[...]If the Dean notion is that the president had mysterious auxiliary information, then the case was probably even stronger for war, since no one has yet produced any stealth document that (a) warned there was no WMDs, and (b) was knowingly withheld from the Congress.

A bewildered visitor from Mars would tell Washingtonians something like: "For twelve years you occupied Saddam's airspace, since he refused to abide by the peace accords and you were afraid that he would activate his WMD arsenal again against the Kurds or his neighbors. Now that he is gone and for the first time you can confirm that his weapons program is finally defunct, you are mad about this new precedent that you have established: Given the gravity of WMD arsenals, the onus is now on suspect rogue nations to prove that they do not have weapons of mass destruction, rather than for civilization to establish beyond a responsible doubt that they do?"

Even more importantly, the U.S. Senate voted to authorize the removal of Saddam Hussein for 22 reasons other than just his possession of dangerous weapons. We seem to have forgotten that entirely.

If the Bush administration erred in privileging the dangers of Iraqi WMDs, then the Congress in its wisdom used a far broader approach (as Sen. Robert Byrd complained at the time), and went well beyond George Bush in making a more far-reaching case for war — genocide, violation of U.N. agreements, breaking of the 1991 armistice accords, attempts to kill a former U.S. president, and firing on American aerial patrols. It was the U.S. Senate — a majority of Democrats included — not Paul Wolfowitz, that legislated a war to reform and restore the wider Middle East: "...whereas it is in the national security of the United States to restore international peace and security to the Persian Gulf region".

So read the senators' October 2002 resolution. It is a model of sobriety and judiciousness in authorizing a war. There are facts cited such as the violation of agreements; moral considerations such as genocide; real worries about al Qaeda's ties to Saddam (e.g., "...whereas members of al-Qaida, an organization bearing responsibility for attacks on the United States, its citizens, and interests, including the attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, are known to be in Iraq"); fears of terrorism (" ...whereas Iraq continues to aid and harbor other international terrorist organizations, including organizations that threaten the lives and safety of American citizens."

No doubt many Democrats in the Senate who voted to authorize the war took their cue from Bill Clinton's own November 1998 indictment of bin Laden (still, how does one indict an enemy that has declared war on you?) that explicitly stressed the connection between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein: "In addition, al Qaeda reached an understanding with the government of Iraq that al Qaeda would not work against that government and that on particular projects, specifically including weapons development, al Qaeda would work cooperatively with the government of Iraq."

Thus the honest and moral argument for the now contrite would be something like: "I know now that Saddam did not try to kill a former president, did not commit genocide, did not attack four of his neighbors, did not harbor anti-American terrorists, did not ignore U.N. and 1991 peace accords, and did not attack Americans enforcing U.N.-mandated no-fly zones — and so I regret my vote."

Or if the former supporters of the war had character, they would be more honest still: "Yes, Saddam was guilty of those other 22 writs, but none of them justified the war that I voted for, and I should not have included them in the resolution."

Or they could be more truthful still: "I didn't really want a war, and only threw in the bit about al Qaeda and Saddam. So I just voted for the authorization in case some crisis emerged and the President had to act swiftly."

I doubt any will ever say, "I voted to cover myself: If the war proved swift and relatively low-cost like Bosnia or Afghanistan, I was on record for it; if it got bad like Mogadishu or Lebanon, then I wasn't the commander-in-chief who conducted it."

I've only excerpted a small portion and certainly not the best parts... read the whole thing.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler