Friday, March 24, 2006

Goldberg on Why Invading Is Still Right

The indispensable Jonah Goldberg today provides a timely reminder of recent history, largely forgotten in the incessant drumbeat of "no WMD" and "no ties to al Qaida." His reflections include Bush's recent press conference dust-up with "thespian carbuncle of bile" Helen Thomas and the "revelations" (better, "reminders") contained in Iraqi documents slowly being released to the public.

Here's the guts of the column for those disinclined to follow the link:

But what these documents--as well as other after-action intelligence gathering--demonstrate is that given what he knew at the time, George W. Bush was right to invade Iraq. We now know that the CIA bureaucracy was simply wrong to insist that "secular" Iraq would never work with Islamist terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda and Abu Sayyaf. We know that Iraq harbored and very likely supported Abdul Rahman Yasin, one of the suspected bomb makers involved in the first World Trade Center attack in 1993.

According to the Pentagon's definitive postmortem on the invasion, some of which was leaked to the New York Times, even many Iraqi generals were stunned to discover that Hussein didn't have WMD. Hussein practiced a strategy that one Republican Guard commander called "deterrence by doubt," in which he hoped to bluff the world into believing he had WMD in order to deter Iran and keep his rep as an Arab strongman with serious mojo.

And that's the point Thomas et al don't want to understand. For reasons that still baffle me, the WMD threat--never the sole reason to invade Iraq--not only became the only argument, it became a thoroughly legalistic one, as if foreign policy has rules of evidence and procedural due process. After 9/11, that kind of foreign policy by lawyers looked ridiculous, and rightly so.

The fact that Hussein turned out to be bluffing about WMD isn't a mark against Bush's decision. If you're a cop and a man pulls out a gun and points it at you, you're within your rights to shoot him, particularly if the man in question is a known criminal who's shot people before. If it turns out afterward that the gun wasn't loaded, that's not the cop's fault.

To this we can only respond, with apologies to Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Weber:

Go, go, go, Jonah, you know what they say.

Hang on now, Jonah, you'll make it some day.

Don't give up, Jonah, fight till you drop.

We've read the book and you come at on top.

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