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 Faulty Intelligence 

February 10, 2004

In his interview with Tim Russert on NBC’s Meet the Press, President Bush tried doggedly to justify the Iraq war even though it was predicated on what he now acknowledges as “faulty intelligence.” But the war wasn’t waged because of intelligence; it was waged as a matter of policy, decided before the Central Intelligence Agency had even been consulted.

In his own self-exculpating speech, CIA director George Tenet did a tightrope act, blaming neither the agency nor the Bush administration for the huge snafu. Like Bush, he avoided mentioning the big scare: the repeated heavy suggestions that Saddam Hussein was plotting nuclear war against the United States.

Remember “reconstituted nuclear weapons” and “the smoking gun that might take the form of a mushroom cloud”? Just the stuff to make a jumpy country go berserk. But that was the point: as usual, the warmongers were adroit fearmongers.

The inquiry into pre-war intelligence shouldn’t focus exclusively on the CIA. The Bush administration also relied on other sources: what were called “intelligence exchanges with our allies,” chiefly Britain and Israel. Did the Mossad-neoconservative crowd feed Bush disinformation? Don’t expect the panel Bush has appointed to go into this one, even though Mossad’s motto is “By way of deception you shall make war.”

Bush may also have been guided by other “intelligence”: the Book of Revelation and other prophetic Biblical books, which many evangelical Protestants believe predict current events in the Middle East, notably the great battle of Armageddon. This angle too may be off-limits to the inquiry, though we deserve to know if the war had roots in Bush’s theology. A bizarre misapplication of Scripture would certainly be a new departure in faulty intelligence. Easier to blame the CIA than Holy Writ.

Meanwhile, Paul Wolfowitz, Bush’s top neocon advisor, has big plans for Iraq. He has announced that equal rights for women will be a top priority for the new democracy.

[Breaker quote: The real culprit: a faulty policy]Now there’s a winning issue. If you think the supreme court of Massachusetts is riling up conservatives in this country, wait until you see how Muslims react to having Americans revise their traditional sex roles.

Wolfowitz vividly illustrates the difference between a conservative and a neoconservative. No conservative would dream of imposing such a radical cultural change on a volatile country. But for neoconservatives, it’s second nature to goad Muslims to fury.

Feminism, alias “equal rights for women,” is the sort of political fad Americans are used to. Its aim is to disrupt traditional sex roles, no matter what social damage ensues. Exporting it to the Muslim world may prove as ill-advised as the Iraq war itself.

Feminists aren’t widely credited with humor, but you have to admire the one who titled her book Getting in Touch with Your Inner Bitch. Well, picture putting millions of Muslim women in touch with their inner bitches. Is this going to endear us to people who already hate us? If Bush thinks so, his intelligence may be even faultier than we thought — in more ways than one.

The predictable result — you don’t need Biblical prophecies to tell you this — will be an upsurge in armed resistance, “terrorism” if you will, by Muslim men. Will American troops remain in Iraq to make sure sexual equality becomes a lasting reality? If so, the U.S. occupation will be far longer than anyone has contemplated.

What we Americans lightly call “sex roles” are the very fabric of a society, prior to any political constitution. You tamper with them at your risk, because they are inseparable from a society’s future and even its survival. Muslims don’t regard America’s sexual experimentation as a model for themselves; they dread what it might do to their next generation. They can see what it’s done to ours.

Deposing Saddam Hussein, it turns out, was only the beginning of an ambitious, destructive, and dangerous American policy in Iraq; and democracy, it also turns out, means a lot more than holding elections. We are embarked on what communists used to call “building a new society,” which has always meant, in practice, leaving an old society in ruins.

So this is what the “war on terrorism” has come to. The Bush administration’s real problem isn’t bad information; it’s colossal imprudence. Its historical epitaph may be a pun: “faulty intelligence.”

Joseph Sobran

Copyright © 2004 by the Griffin Internet Syndicate,
a division of Griffin Communications
This column may not be reprinted in print or
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