comments ipse dixit way
As I mentioned, I've been participating in a comment thread over at Dodd's blog, and my most recent entry was, I thought, a pretty good summary of why I reject the so-called case for Operation Inigo Montoya, so I'm reproducing it here.
What it all boils down to is whether you're seeking a compelling, irrefutable reason to attack or merely a pretext. While no one credible disputes that the removal of Saddam Hussein is a Good Thing all by itself, I also dont' doubt that if Bush had gone on TV the day after telling Condi Rice "f___ Saddam, we're taking him out" a year ago and told the American public that he was committing America's armed forces to an unprovoked war against Iraq to remove Saddam and "liberate the Iraqi people," he would have recieved little public support.
Bush and Rove no doubt knew that, so Bush spent a year making claiming that Iraq was simply oozing chemical and biological weapons, and making laughable attempts to imply that a nuclear threat existed as well. Many, myself included, questioned the evidence on which such a claim was based, and were roundly criticized here for daring to dispute the President's claim that he simply knew about it. Yes there's been no finds so far, and if our knowledge was as certain as the President and his supporters here claimed it was, there should have been. Period.
Furthermore, to whatever extent Iraq may have posessed chem or bio weapons, his neighbors in the Gulf were clearly none too concerned. Many, myself included, pointed out that saddam has been contained and deterred for a decade, and challenged the evidence that such situation had changed. (And need I add that even if such weapons existed, Saddam was deterred from using them even in extremis? He knew that had he gassed the invading forces, he'd be unwelcome in exile anywhere.) Bush hypothesized that Saddam might provide WMDs to terrorists, a prospect I considered highly doubtful indeed, and one that utterly ignores the far more active support for terrorism by Saudi Arabia and Syria, which acknowledges a chemical arsenal as a deterrent against Israel.
Not even Bush has the stones to claim that Iraq posed the "clear and present danger" that's the widely accepted standard for a preemptive defensive strike.
(continued in the next post)