it's official update
I haven't said much about the Iraqi Al Samoud 2 missile controversy, largely because it's seemed to be just a repetition of the same old song and dance: no matter what the Iraqis say or do, the Administration cites it as another justification for attack. But this development reveals the US government as utterly indifferent to whatever steps the Iraqis take to disarm, belies the claim that Saddam can prevent the war, and depicts Bush as totally focused on attacking regardless of circumstances: Iraq has actually begun the destruction of the missiles, destroying several of them with a bulldozer. And once again, the White House reads from the "deception and lies" script. "President Bush has always predicted that Iraq would destroy Al Samoud 2 missiles as part of their games of deception," a spokesperson said. That kind of doublespeak truly bends the mind, as it reveals the Administration's bent on conquest no matter what Iraq does. How mangling the missiles--which I'm sure Saddam must have been loath to part with--with a bulldozed constitutes a "deception" is utterly beyond me. Do they plan to tow them to a body shop? Was it all a hologram? What's the deal here?
I wonder, would it hurt to acknowledge that Iraq is actually taking steps to disarm? Actually, yes, it would; the vexing problem for the Administration is that, while Iraq is probably not cooperating 100% fully, it is taking steps, and that doesn't fit into the Administration's script. Would it hurt to welcome the devlopment as an example of what Saddam must do to disarm? Actually, yes, it would, because, tellingly, White House spokesperson Ari Fleisher has moved the goalposts: He was cited in the Indianapolis Star story as declaring that that to avoid a war, Iraq needed not only to disarm, but also to change its leadership.
There you have it, folks: It isn't about disarmament. It has never been about disarmament. It's about--always has been about--regime change. The Bush Administration is intent on launching an unprovoked war to depose the government of a sovereign nation--however loathsome that regime may be--while utterly failing to demonstrate that nation either poses an imminent threat or has a solid connection to al Qaeda.
(Spare me the "this guy got medical treatment" or "that cell operates in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq" claims--for starters, as I've said, if this case really held water, Bush has all the causus belli he needs, with no UN or even Congressional resolution necessary. The mere fact that he hasn't pressed it the hardest amongst his galaxy of pretexts suggests there's no there there. And even if these vague insinuations were true, the standard they set, if applied universally, would force the US to attack not only a number of Muslim countries but much of Europe as well. Indeed, the double standard they reveal once again simply tarnishes the US's international credibility and reveals the Bush Administration's desire to sieze any pretext to justify its pretrermined policy.)
Update: The original citation of Fleischer's quote in the local paper suffered from link rot already, but I found another in the Chicago Tribune, which also has this key follow-up:
Fleischer said that to escape military action, Iraq must "completely and totally" disarm and Hussein and his top leaders must agree to "go into exile."
That combination of events, he said, looked highly unlikely.
Pressed on the point, Fleischer said that both would be necessary conditions because disarmament was the UN's goal and changing Iraq's government was the president's. [Emphasis added]
The Adminsitration seems to be publicly backing off this position since the weekend, but that basically leaves the question of deciding which position more accurately reflects the Administration's intentions.