the Iraq operation are leaning hard on theoretical arguments,
as for instance Gen. Brent Scowcroft. He was speaking to Jeffrey
Goldberg of The New Yorker and seemed eager to depict,
and perhaps even to dramatize, his differences with the Bush administration,
all the more difficult because, historically, Bush GHW is Scowcroft's
closest friend, and the object of current dissatisfaction is Bush
has had no exchanges with Condoleezza Rice, he says, since a dinner
nearly two years ago. They argued about Iraq. "She says we're
going to democratize Iraq, and I said, 'Condi, you're not going
to democratize Iraq,' and she said, 'You know, you're just stuck
in the old days,' and she comes back to this thing that we've
tolerated an autocratic Middle East for 50 years and so on and
so forth." Goldberg reports, "Then a barely perceptible
note of satisfaction entered his voice, and he said, 'But we've
had 50 years of peace.'"
A White House
spokesman, called to comment on this assertion, said it was "odd."
"If you consider (a) America's 1991 war against Iraq (which
General Scowcroft favored); (b) the Iraq-Iran war (in which there
were a million casualties); (c) the conflict in the early 1970s
between Jordan and the Palestinians; (d) the civil war in Lebanon;
(e) the four wars between Iraq and Arab nations; and (f) the attacks
of Sept. 11, 2001 (which were carried out by Islamic radicals
who emerged from the broader Middle East)" -- that's something
less than 50 years of peace.
uses intemperate language. You don't have to believe that Iraq
is ready to pass Good Housekeeping tests of political and civic
virtue, but we should weigh that some changes have simply been
made. Saddam Hussein is not sitting in one of his many palaces;
he is being tried in a little courtroom for his life. The transition
was effected without mammoth effort -- what was difficult came
later. But critics generalize, and General Scowcroft advised that
"the bad guys" always win out.
assessment provoked from the White House dissenter a calm demurral,
and a little banner of historical hope for the democratic forces.
"In fact in many elections, in Spain and Portugal, Nicaragua
and El Salvador, the Czech Republic and Romania, South Africa
and the Philippines, Indonesia and Ukraine, Afghanistan -- and
Iraq," progress would appear to have been made toward freedom.
face also a problem that goes widely unnoticed, and to which so
much is traceable. Consider the furor over our agent in Niger.
president is informed that agents of Saddam Hussein are looking
in Niger for "yellowcake" useful in the manufacture
of nuclear weapons.
We need to
brace ourselves to follow the critical narrative here. (A) An
investigation proves there was no uranium mischief going on. (B)
This grievously disappoints the Cheney go-to-war clique, so much
so that they disrobe the lady diplomat, revealing that she was
really an agent of the CIA. (C) Which in fact proves -- nothing,
and is interpreted as bureaucratic retaliation to the carrier
of unwelcome news. (D) But the no-yellowcake news does not arrest
the rhetorical momentum. The president and his ideological establishment
are (the critics insist) determined to find a casus belli to move
militarily against Iraq.
What is unexplained
is, Why? Why should it be the ultimate ambition of the president
and his team to go to war in Iraq? The evil of Saddam Hussein
could, after all, have been bottled up in greater Mesopotamia.
Messrs. Bush and Cheney did believe that Iraq was acquiring weapons
of mass destruction, and they did plead this position in getting
congressional and public sanction for the war.
Let us feel
free to be angry and resentful at the misinformation from our
intelligence agencies. But what is it that caused them to generate
charges about the military menace of Iraq? When the U.N. detachments
and then the invading forces looked about behind the apple trees
for evidence of weapons of mass destruction, was that search purely
cynical? Did they know that they were looking for things that
weren't there? How do you explain that? Because they were so eager
to prove that Iraq was a regional menace?
-- why set out to prove the unprovable?
need to submit to the discipline of reasonable logic.