Sleepwalking toward Baghdad

Gary Kamiya in Salon:

I propose the following axiom: Those who did not believe and publicly state before Sept. 11 that Saddam Hussein represented an unacceptable threat to the United States have no credibility when they now argue that he does.

The reasoning behind this axiom is simple: The events of Sept. 11 have no relevance to the threat posed by Iraq, nor has any new information been unearthed since then about Iraqi threats. Therefore, all those who are only now calling for the U.S. to invade Iraq are basing their change of heart purely on an emotional reaction to Sept. 11, not a reasoned analysis of risk factors. This is an argument made in bad faith. For 10 years they were not afraid of Saddam Hussein. What changed their mind? The fiery spectacle of Sept. 11, they claim. Bush has invoked the date repeatedly as he has tried to scare Americans into supporting his war. But try as they might, none of these hawks in or out of the Bush government has been able to prove a connection between Osama bin Laden’s spectacular assaults and the Baghdad regime.

That this obvious point has scarcely been raised indicates the extent to which emotion, not argument, has come to dominate public discussion of this issue. The patriotic intimidation, the groupthink, the shunning and shaming of those who dared to raise unpopular perspectives — these reflexes still govern the national dialogue on Iraq.

There’s more, and it’s good, so stop whining and go get a day pass.

Of course, if the administration were honest, if they treated us like growups, they’d acknowledge that most of the key players here — Rumsfeld, Cheney, Perle, Wolfowitz, et al — actually have been clamoring for a second gulf war since the mid nineties. But then they’d have to admit that this isn’t a response to 9/11, abandon the useful emotional argument. Because arguing that the Saudis are an untrustworthy ally and we really need a more secure foothold in the region to ensure control over certain vital resources of which Iraq has a plentiful supply — well, somehow that sort of strategic geopolitical gamesmanship may not be quite enough to convince Americans to send their loved ones off to kill and die.