Friday, August 26, 2005


Saddam's WMD Reconsidered: Bush Unfairly Attacked

Many people are saying Bush lied about Saddam's WMDs. This is patently unfair.

Don't get me wrong. Like the emerging majority of Americans, I feel the war was a mistake. But I also know we cannot leave the Iraq in it's present condition.

I am no fan of George W. Bush. He is a disaster as president, and his policies run deeply counter to my convictions. (He's an avowed Methodist, but opposes many of the Methodist's social principles.)

Still, many intelligent and reasonable people (dare I count myself among them?) concluded that Saddam had WMD. We did not think this because George W. Bush said so; our opinions were based on credible evidence.

NPR (that bastion of rabid right-wingers) ran a story a few months after the fall of Baghdad, reporting on interviews of Iraqi generals conducted by the US military. Many of them said that, although they did not posses WMD in their units, they knew that another unit did. That is, they believed, along with everybody else, that Saddam had WMDs. I remember listening to the story and thinking it was no wonder we all thought Saddam had WMDs. If the Iraqi military believed it, how could we think otherwise?

It turns out Saddam didn't have them. Much hand-wringing and vitriol has flowed since that fact became established.

We owe it to ourselves as well as to the rest of the world to accurately assess the history of the last four years. If we pretend that we knew all along that Saddam didn't own WMDs, we perpetuate a lie. This lie clouding our minds will render genuine dialog much more difficult.

We must understand the actual situation as well as we can before we can progress to solutions. We must share in the guilt of this war if we are to find ways to end it.

WMDs are, literally and figuratively, the Doomsday Device from Dr. Strangelove. So, of course Iraqis thought he had them.

I think it's partly about the difference between 'excuse' and 'justification', which doesn't get distinguished enough. With a policy of 'no excuses', any wrong action taken by a government or a body like a police force because action-forming. That is, they justify it instead of regretting it.

An excuse says 'This shouldn't have happened but under the circustances, it was understandable'; a justification says 'This was and is the right thing to do, and we should continue to do things like this in the future'.
*becomes action forming, not because.
I agree that we too often confuse history with moral justification.
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