War and Crime
February 5, 2004
took us ten months to find Saddam
Hussein, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told the Senate
Armed Services Committee. The reality is that the hole he was
found hiding in was large enough to hold enough biological weapons to kill
thousands of human beings.
Yes, and so is my basement, if it
comes to that. So until weve found and searched every last cavity
in Iraq, the preemptive war must be assumed to be
What we have learned so
far has not proven Saddam Hussein had what intelligence indicated and
what we believed he had, Rumsfeld added, but it has also
not proven the opposite.
And what would Rumsfeld accept
as proving the opposite? We are left to wonder. He is setting up the
administrations case so that its pretty well unfalsifiable.
Its an old trick.
CIA director George Tenet
likewise says that intelligence is rarely 100 per cent right or 100 per
cent wrong. All right, but the CIA has made some notable goofs: it failed
to predict the Iranian Revolution, which toppled the shah, and it was still
grossly overrating the economic and military strength of the Soviet Union
when Communism collapsed. Yet these people, like astrologers, keep
expecting the public to take them seriously, no matter how many blunders
The great Irish satirist Jonathan
Swift once exposed an astrologer by prophesying his death on a certain
date. When the date passed and the astrologer protested that he was still
alive, Swift, refusing to take his word for it, puckishly accused his
survivors of perpetrating a hoax. The public roared with laughter.
one way to deal with a fraud. So how do we deal with the Bush administration, whose
war on terror has descended to quibbles about where
Saddam Hussein has stuffed away his mythical arsenal? Rush Limbaugh,
George W. Bushs own dittohead, still parrots the official line and
says only liberals can doubt it. Hes out of touch.
Plenty of us nonliberals dont believe it either.
In fact, many of the
neoconservative war nerds who demanded military action against Iraq,
Iran, Syria, and other rogue nations (some were licking
their chops at the prospect of World War IV) were griping
that the CIA was full of mushy libs who rejected clear evidence of
Saddams world-class arsenal. Today they insist that arms
inspector David Kays conclusion that that arsenal was nonexistent
somehow vindicates the case for the war! Ones head spins.
It wasnt the CIA that was
pushing for war. The Bush crowd and the neocons had hungered for it long
before the 9/11 attacks gave them an excuse and a receptive public. Bush
cited the phantom arsenal as the urgent reason for war, and he
wasnt tentative about it; he never suggested that his intelligence
was less than 100 per cent certain. On the contrary, he maintained that
there was no doubt at all.
Now that everyone but the
dittoheads knows better, even Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell
have toned down their hysterical claims about the arsenal, without
admitting that the whole war was misconceived. After all, their jobs and
reputations are at stake.
Not that they face any severe
penalty for deceiving the public and waging aggressive war. One little
irony of the drama is that Saddam is the only one facing a
Nuremberg-style trial, when hes the only one who may have been telling the
truth about those weapons of mass destruction.
For once the modus operandi of
the modern state has been starkly exposed. The Iraq war may join Vietnam
and Watergate in the liberal litany of government corruption. In a way that
would be a pity, because the recitation of Vietnam and
Watergate has, for a generation, invited us to suppose that these
were abnormal occurrences, when they are quite typical, except that the
machinations of the perpetrators were eventually found out and put in
Its naive to assume that
the crimes that are detected are the only ones committed. The lawless
modern state is a gigantic criminal operation, and any private firm that
was found to be running like the state would be not only driven out of
business, but prosecuted on many counts. Bush & Co. should be grateful
that they face nothing worse than political embarrassment for their