Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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November 8, 2003
By: Kevin Drum

BACK TO IRAQ....You just have to love these NRO types. Rich Lowry, in a post that was probably written through clenched teeth, credits Wes Clark with a good idea:

Given the internal Pentagon debate over whether to devote intelligence resources to hunt for WMD or the hunt for guerrilla/terrorists in Iraq, this is a Wes Clark idea that could make some sense. From the New York Times: "He proposed asking international inspectors to take over the search for unconventional weapons, which would free American linguists and intelligence specialists to work on efforts 'to find the people who are killing our soldiers.'"

An hour later, repenting of his apostasy, he runs the following email from a fan:

Rich, I would not be surprised if the Bush administration is already pursuing this course of action. However, given all of the hurt feelings of the international inspector community after the Blix affair, I suspect that a lot of back-room Mandarin-like negotiation is required to get them back into Iraq, which could be currently in-process. In other words, Clark got wind of this though his still in-the-loop military sources, and wanted to take credit for pushing Bush in this direction, even though it is possibly a fait accompli.

Yeah, I have no doubt that Bush is keenly interested in getting UN inspectors back on the ground and Clark is deviously trying to steal credit for the idea, but let's just run this theory through the news archives to make sure, OK?

Let's see....here's Mohamed ElBaradei on April 27, a few days before the war was even officially over, saying UN inspectors should be allowed back in. "We have been in Iraq for over 10 years, we know the people, we know the infrastructure, we know where to go," he said, and Senator Carl Levin agreed. George Bush apparently didn't.

And here's Hans Blix on June 5, urging Bush to allow his team back into Iraq. Sadly, as CNN reports, "The U.S. is resisting calls to allow U.N. weapons inspectors back into Iraq."

Oh, and look here: it's Mohamed ElBaradei again just a couple of weeks ago. "It is time for U.N. inspectors to go back to Iraq to complete their work," he said. Apparently George Bush still doesn't agree.

In other words, there's zero evidence that George Bush has the slightest interest in this, and Wes Clark probably got the idea from reading the daily paper something that we all know Bush doesn't do.

Maybe he should start. And maybe Lowry should too.

Kevin Drum 9:27 AM Permalink | Trackbacks

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