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 War and Crime 

February 5, 2004

“It 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 we’ve found and searched every last cavity in Iraq, the “preemptive” war must be assumed to be justified?

“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 administration’s case so that it’s pretty well unfalsifiable. It’s 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 they commit.

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.

[Breaker quote: It figures: Only Saddam will be prosecuted.]That’s 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. Bush’s own dittohead, still parrots the official line and says only “liberals” can doubt it. He’s out of touch. Plenty of us nonliberals don’t 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 Saddam’s world-class arsenal. Today they insist that arms inspector David Kay’s conclusion that that arsenal was nonexistent somehow vindicates the case for the war! One’s head spins.

It wasn’t 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 wasn’t 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 he’s 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 plain view.

It’s 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 crimes.

Joseph Sobran

Copyright © 2004 by the Griffin Internet Syndicate,
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