Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 17, 2003
By: Kevin Drum

DAY 64: STILL NO WMDs....Here are a few touchstones for determining if someone is an intellectual crank: belief in astrology, creationism, or the gold standard.

And here's one for intellectual consistency and honesty: believing that between Bill Clinton (Lewinskygate) and Ronald Reagan (Iran/Contra), either both or neither deserved to be impeached.

And now we have another one: were Iraq's WMDs important? I note, for example, that Glenn Reynolds has been gleefully covering the misreporting of the looted antiquities at the Baghdad Museum ("The academic community -- antiwar all along, and a bit too obviously looking for a way to make Bush and the war look bad -- shot itself in the foot, and will command much less respect on such topics in the future") but still declines to view the far more serious nonexistence of WMDs as anything more than a trivial matter.

I think this is a fundamental issue of credibility for pro-war partisans. Even if you believe that there were other good reasons to invade Iraq, the fact remains that WMDs were the primary reason put forward by both the president of the United States and the prime minister of Great Britain before the war started. As time goes by, it's beginning to look more and more like what happened was not just spin or exaggeration, but either deliberate misrepresentation or else a massive intelligence breakdown, and this has serious consequences. Does North Korea really have nuclear weapons? Is Iran working on a nuclear program? Does Syria have chemical weapons? Will anyone believe us again if we say so?

There are times when even partisans have to break ranks if they want to maintain credibility, and this is one of them. Whether or not Bush knowingly lied about Iraq's WMDs, committing the United States to war on at best shaky intelligence and false pretenses is something that should be taken seriously by everyone. So far, it hasn't been.

Kevin Drum 12:11 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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