Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Of Liars, Removals & Replacements

Via Juan Cole, I learn that by now 50% of Americans think the Bush admin lied on Iraqi WMD, possibly related to the slowly dripping info from the CIA weapons-hunting team led by Duelfer - the latest juicy bit being the deconstruction of the WMDs-smuggled-to-Syria myth (of course, still not without weasen word 'caveats'). Meanwhile, I'm catching this story a bit late, the more people point to a US origin of the forged Niger documents[*], but Vincent Cannistaro suggests it was the neocons themselves, not the CIA[+]. Meanwhile in Britain, the infamous legal advice on the war was leaked, it contained 'caveats' that nicely destroyed the legality of the war. (The link is to a superb analysis by Chicken Yoghurt; The Guardian's Richard Norton-Taylor has more.)

Unfortunately, the next line of rhetorical defense still has an effect on many (involving even opponents of the war): to insist that "removing" Saddam was a good thing. So I feel like exposing this trick again.

First, those who claim Saddam is the issue are the last perpetrators of Saddam's personality cult.

Do you see him as a cartoon villain, as larger-than-life as he wanted to be seen? Do you care more about the fate of a single individual than the millions of others affected by the war? The pro-war spinners exploit the fact that this single individual has a name and a face known to the public, versus the faceless masses.

Next, to the weasel word: there is no such thing as "removing" a regime. What an intervention achieves is replacing a regime - and the value of deposing a dictator should never be judged without the other half of the equation, should always be seen in the light of what came after.

In this case, a weakened and contained absolutist dictature was replaced by an anarchy of reckless foreign occupation forces that beyond doing destruction with arms and environmental pollution also destroyed public services by neglect and the economy by 'reconstruction', even more reckless mercenaries, scheming clerics and occupation-approved exile political parties whom the occupiers let gain nominal power in a thoroughly corrupted political process, Saddam's henchmen continuing the torture and police brutality but now in the occupier-organised forces, reckless resistance fighters and terrorists, uncontrolled criminals, uncontrolled tribal and party militias, tribesmen pursuing vendettas, and religious male chauvinists from all factions who made the majority - women - captives in their homes again.

So the chief problem with the Iraq war is that it managed to replace Saddam's regime with something even worse - not that the war's perpetrators lied about their motives. (On the other hand, their recklessness in dealing with the facts pretty much foretold their recklessness with Iraqi lives and fates, so the defense of the bandwagon-hopping liberal interventionists - from John Kerry to recently deservedly trashed NYT columnist Thomas Friedman -, that the war was right but fought the wrong way, is still hogwash.)

P.S.: read This Is Our Guernica, Dahr Jamail's and Jonathan Steele's article on Falluja.

[*] To recap: Josh Marshall tracked it to Italian intelligence, while a German documentary tracked it to disgruntled CIA employees who wanted to 'burn' their neocon rivals in the Pentagon with an obvious fake, an operation that backfired.

[+] BTW, kudos for GNN for remembering that the German handlers of 'Curveball', the Chalabi-related perpetrator of the infamous mobile bioweapons lab story, already warned the DIA and the CIA upon informing them that 'Curveball' is untrustworthy (something the US mainstream media always forgets to mention - in line with the "they too believed Iraq had WMD" spin).


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