Comments by Stephen J.
and Ronald N. Neff
Stephen J. Sniegoski:
In his column for May 7, "Where are they, Mr. President?", Pat Buchanan addresses the lie about Saddam's WMDs that served as the rationale for the U.S. invasion and conquest of Iraq. He writes:
For there is something strange here. If Saddam had these weapons, why did he not surrender them to save himself? If he did not give them up because he intended to use them on us, why did he not use them on us? And if they were destroyed before the war, why did he not simply show us where, and thereby save himself, his family and his regime?Buchanan points out that for "good wars," such as World War II, lies don't matter virtually no one today really knows how the United States entered World War II. Most people think it had to do with the Jewish Holocaust. However, if things go bad in the Iraq occupation, Buchanan maintains, the lie could come back to haunt Bush: "But if our victory turns to ashes in our mouths, and we discover that we have inherited our own West Bank in Mesopotamia, the White House will have to explain again why we went there."
I question the likelihood of that, because if lies worked to get the United States into the war in the first place, further deception can be used in the postwar period to deflect the public's attention away from the original lie. And it seems virtually impossible that Bush would ever acknowledge the lie.
Moreover, Buchanan is much too quick to absolve Bush and Colin Powell:
Both the president and Powell are honorable men. If they misled us, surely it is because they themselves were misled. It is impossible to believe either man would deliberately state as fact what he knew to be false. But the president must find these weapons or find the men who told him, with such certitude, that Iraq had them.
I think Powell understands how the world works and I think he understands the neocons' modus operandi. Many of the weapons claims were questioned all along, even by the CIA. Since Powell does not appear to be a dunce, we may conclude that he thought it in his interest to go along with the neocon deception. Perhaps he even believed the war was in the interest of the United States or that it was inevitable no matter what he did. Perhaps he regarded himself as a team player who had to articulate the administration's position.
George W. Bush is another matter. He lacks both the interest and the ability required to deal dispassionately with the question of whether or not Saddam had WMDs. Bush "knows" simply (I use the adverb advisedly) that:
Saddam was a totally evil man. And that
A totally evil man would have weapons of mass destruction. And that
If those weapons can't be found then evil Saddam must have destroyed them.
And just as Saddam was Evil, Bush believes that his own neocon advisers who sought to eliminate Saddam, and who concocted the stories of Saddam's WMDs, must be Good.
Bush's neocon advisers are already coming up with those other stories I alluded to earlier, in an attempt to deflect attention from the fact that there are no physical WMDs around. The emphasis will shift to finding weapons precursors, obtaining confessions by alleged Iraqi weapons scientists about weapons programs, claiming that Saddam deliberately destroyed the physical evidence of WMDs, and peddling tales of looters running off with dismantled weapons.
Furthermore, continued sensational coverage of Saddam's brutality, buttressed by eyewitness accounts and personal testimonies, is already helping the liberation aspect of the war emerge as a post facto rationale, in much the same way the liberation aspects of World War II distracted the populace from the imperial economic and strategic maneuvering that led to Pearl Harbor.
In short, the lack of physical evidence of WMDs should not cause much political harm for Bush or even for liberal Democrats, who may criticize the administration for lying but who will still not claim that the war was wrong.
May 14, 2003
Ronald N. Neff:
Patrick Buchanan's betrayals of the "patriot movement" are as loathsome in their way as the Bushes' are in theirs:
In the wake of 9/11, Buchanan called for "Ashcroft raids" paralleling the Palmer raids (column of November 12, 2001).
He took money from the Central Government to run his own presidential campaign.
He said he was proud of Bush, in the context of that functionary's parading about on the aircraft carrier (interview on Fox News, May 2, 2003).
He said that once the fighting started we had to support the troops.
He picked an obscure black woman with no accomplishments on the national scene to be his running mate, which in terms of racial-pandering and "gender"-pandering put him in the same league as master panderer George W. Bush. (The most senior spot Bush filled with a black female affirmative-action drone was that of national-security advisor.)
And now Buchanan says that Bush and Colin Powell are honorable?
Our natural allies have got to stop thinking that because a man talks favorably about his idea of "Western civilization" he's a good guy.
Considering that Limbaugh has been on the air for 14 years now and that Buchanan ran against Bush in 1988, everyone younger than about 28 has to think that Limbaugh's and Buchanan's voices are the voices of true conservatism (or that one or the other is). Theirs are certainly the most audible voices. And if the voices of true conservatism, then the true voices against liberalism as well.
Another morsel of evidence that conservatives do not know what they are supposed to stand for (or what each other stands for, for that matter) is that in the 2000 election, when Howard Phillips ran for president on his Constitution Party ticket and Buchanan ran on the Reform Party ticket, there were voters who so admired each man that they could not decide between them. But virtually the only thing the two had in common was their opposition to abortion and a concern about Chinese control of the Panama Canal.
May 14, 2003
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