Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 23, 2003
By: Kevin Drum

BUSH AT WAR....As I was writing the post below, I began musing once again about whether Bush and his advisors are in trouble over Iraq these days simply because they miscalculated about making the case for war way back in 2002. The reason I wonder about this is that there was a perfectly sensible case for war. In its most stripped down version, it goes like this:

  • We can't keep up sanctions forever, and they're hurting the Iraqi people anyway.

  • Saddam's past history is pretty unambiguous, and if we lift sanctions there's not much doubt that he will begin developing WMDs again and might very well use them in a regional war.

  • Therefore, the only reasonable course of action is to forcibly remove him from power.

This says nothing about current WMD programs, nothing about al-Qaeda or 9/11 connections, and nothing about grand neocon plans for remaking the Arab world even if that remained around as a whispered subtext.

So what I wonder is, would it have worked? Would the UN eventually have come on board? Would the American public have supported it?

I can't say for sure, of course, but I can't help but think that the UN might have supported this (eventually...) and the American public definitely would have. After all, I think most Americans supported the war simply because they realized Saddam was a brutal and untrustworthy thug and trusted Bush's judgment in the matter. What's more, it wouldn't have turned off people (like me) who eventually ended up opposing the war simply because the ever shifting reasons for it became less and less tenable over time.

So in the end, things would have ended up no worse than they did, and probably a lot better. In the worst case (from Bush's perspective), we still would have gone to war, and we still would have won, but there wouldn't now be so much questioning about why we went to war.

Still, who knows? It's possible that this wouldn't have been enough to gain public support for the war.

But I suspect it would have been. Perhaps this time the Bushies were just a little too smart for their own good.

Kevin Drum 4:27 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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