Jonah Goldberg tries to defend the President on Iraq:
When Paul Wolfowitz told Vanity Fair in May 2003 that the administration settled on the WMD issue for bureaucratic reasons, opponents of the war cynically distorted the interview to make it sound like the administration wasn’t convinced about the WMD threat. What Wolfowitz was actually saying, very clearly, was that the WMD threat was the most palpable threat – the one that all the professionals could agree on it.
But that doesn’t mean that Bush didn’t offer numerous other rationales before and after the war. In major speeches he touted the importance of democratizing the Middle East. Administration officials pointed out that Saddam was the only world leader to applaud 9/11, and that he was a major source of funding for suicide bombers in Israel. They argued that removing Saddam would have a positive impact on the peace process. President Bush made a masterful case to the United Nations that, in the post-9/11 world, the world body could not afford to let a dictator – one who had gassed his own people and invaded a neighbor – flout its countless resolutions with impunity.
These rationales don’t add up to 23, but who cares if they do? What important decisions have you ever made in your life that have depended on a single variable. We don’t buy cars for a single reason. (Oh, it’s blue! I’ll take it!) Why should we launch a preemptive war for a single reason?
1. WMD: They haven’t been found, they aren’t in Iraq. There’s no indication that Hussein was planning to use them against anyone, much less somehow strike the USA with them without missiles or long-range bombers. Given that many other countries have them, this is looking more and more ridiculous every day, which is no doubt why the administration is in active retreat on the issue and its defenders are trying desperately to point at other justifications.
2. Democracy in the Middle East: The administration is not advancing the freedom of self-determination, but is actively working to suppress it. It is forcibly keeping a fundamentally divided Iraq together, while attempting to install the same fraudulent system of vote-legitimization that is present in the USA, which is neither democracy nor Constitutional republicanism. Furthermore, the history of Algeria, Indonesia and Turkey demonstrate that even this mutated form of “democracy” has intrinsic conflicts with Islamic law.
3. Hussein was a major source of funding for suicide bombers in Israel: So is Saudi Arabia. The administration itself is funding Yasser Arafat, who sends out the suicide bombers; by this reasoning we should invade Washington DC. Not a bad idea, really, perhaps we could restore Constitutional government.
4. Removing Hussein would have a positive impact on the peace process: Yes, Israel and the Palestinians appear to be closer to peace than ever, don’t they. That’s just stupid.
5. The UN could not permit a dictator to flout its resolutions: So much for the notion that Bush is not a globalist lackey. This is not only a terrible justification that has nothing to do with America’s national interest, but is in fact directly contrary to the long-term interest of American national sovereignty. To hear this expressed by a so-called conservative is troubling indeed.
There is only one reason that justifies preemptive action. A serious, imminent and direct threat to American national security. Iraq didn’t even come close to meeting that requirement; one could have made a far better case for Saudi Arabia, Iran or North Korea. Interestingly enough, Goldberg says that those who criticize this president must also assert that Lincoln was wrong… with great pleasure, Jonah, with great pleasure.
Goldberg is one of my favorite writers on NRO, but it’s been disappointing to see that he is more interested in defending a Republican president than sticking to the principles he expounded while Bill Clinton was in office.