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November 21, 2005

Progress Toward Further Dimensions of Yet More Intense Shrill Bush-Hatred

Robert Moomaw directs us to the extremely sharp-eyed James Fallows, whose shrill screeds of Bush-hatred redefine the genre:

The Blog | James Fallows: What Bush Isn't Addressing on Iraq | The Huffington Post : It would be nice if, even once, the Bush administration addressed the strongest version of the case against its Iraq-and-terrorism policy, rather than relying on bromides ("fight them there, so we don't have to fight them here") and knocking down straw men ("some say Iraqis don't deserve freedom...").... On available evidence, the President himself has not grasped the essential criticism of moving against Iraq when he did: that a war in Iraq undercut the broader and longer term war against Islamic terrorism. Not in one speech, not in one interview or off-hand remark, not in one insider account of White House deliberation has there been the slightest indication that President Bush recognizes this concept sufficiently to offer a rebuttal to it.

Someone who does recognize that distinction is Donald Rumsfeld, who raised exactly this concern... that the United States might be creating terrorists even faster than it was killing them.... Paul Wolfowitz's answer would also be fascinating to hear -- but he is off to other projects now.... As for an answer from Dick Cheney, dream on. So when the President decided on Friday to "respond to the critics" of his Iraq policy, naturally he did nothing of the kind. For the record, here are the three biggest, most obvious points not even addressed in his speech:

1) Everybody was not, in fact, working from the same misleading information. The administration's line about WMD these days is: OK, we might have been wrong -- but everybody was wrong.... [A]t the time, [however,] Administration officials were most emphasically NOT saying "hey, we're all operating in the dark here." The implied message of every briefing for reporters, every speech to the public, and every background session with legislators, was: If you knew what we knew, then you'd be as alarmed as we are. That was the message of Dick Cheney's statement that "there can be no doubt" that Iraq "now" had weapons of mass destruction, of Condi Rice's warning about the mushroom cloud, and of Colin Powell's presentation to the UN....

2) To say that Saddam Hussein might have been a threat is not to say that we had to invade when we did. The Administration had two responses when asked in 2003 "what's the rush?"... the troops were in place, they couldn't wait forever, soon it would be hot.... This obviously is a "Guns of August" style of reasoning: the trains are moving toward the front, so we might as well start World War I. The other response was: we've waited 12 years, why wait any more? The answer to that was, first, that Iraq was now crawling with weapons inspectors... and, second, that beginning a war could touch off a lot of messy complications left out of the optimistic war scenarios.

This is the crucial point: Every aspect about managing occupied Iraq could have turned out better with more time... line up Arabic-speaking or Islamic allies... get adequate U.S. troops on the scene... protecting the power system, the hospitals... the public infrastructure....

3) As for managing Iraq after the fall of Baghdad, there is no shared blame at all. The Bush Administration owns every aspect of this disastrously bungled situation. The failure to stop the looting; the deliberately low-ball on the number of occupying troops; the rash decision to disband the Iraqi army; the inattention to how quickly American "liberators" would become "occupiers"; the lassitude about recruiting or training enough Arabic speakers or getting serious about developing an Iraqi force -- on these and a dozen other familiar points, the Administration cannot possibly say, "Hey, everybody was wrong." These were the decisions of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, in many cases bulldozing or ignoring contrary views from within the military and other parts of the government. Or, I guess the reality is: the Administration could "possibly" say this. They just couldn't say it honestly.

Impeach George W. Bush. Impeach Richard Cheney. Do it now.

Posted by DeLong at November 21, 2005 08:13 PM