Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Thou Good and Faithful Servant 

Our esteemed colleague Joe Cannon of Cannonfire has unearthed a fascinating column from just after 9/11 in which noisome toady Robert Novak aired the current intelligence on Iraq, in hopes, perhaps, that Mr. Bush & cronies might yet be warned off the disastrous campaign they had already decided to undertake. Once the war began Mr. Novak, as you surely know, was only too happy to promulgate the Noble Lie of the Threat of Saddam; in fact, he served as point man in the smear campaign against Joseph Wilson, who ran afoul of the White House by confirming, in June of 2003, everything that Robert Novak had reported in October of 2001:
Lord Robertson, NATO's secretary general, on his visit to Washington last week privately and individually briefed U.S. senators he has known since his days as British defense minister during the Kosovo war. He told them there is no evidence -- "not a scintilla," as quoted by one senator -- linking Iraq with the Sept. 11 attack on America.

That confirms what intelligence sources have told me. The relentless investigation of the terrorist assault has developed massive evidence pointing to Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda organization. No comparable links to Iraq have been found. The Iraqi connection, say these sources, is a matter of speculation. If nothing has been uncovered now, it is unlikely there ever will be compelling proof.

The long-range implications are profound. A few Bush administration policymakers argue that now is the time to complete unfinished business and get rid of Saddam Hussein. Lacking a tie to Sept. 11, however, a military assault on Iraq imperils the global coalition laboriously constructed by President Bush. Only Israel might remain at America's side . . . .

The principal justification for assaulting Iraq is the need to prevent Saddam from wielding weapons of mass destruction. Since Iraq does not have nuclear capacity and chemical weapons are not a threat, the concern is biological warfare. Here, too, there is no evidence.

"I don't see Iraq being able to do high quality production on a large scale of bio-weapons," former UN arms inspector Scott Ritter told Fox News Network last Tuesday. Larry Johnson, former State Department deputy director of counter-terrorism, on Thursday told CNN that the U.S. since 1990 has destroyed Iraq's chemical and biological weapons and Saddam has "not built back up to the levels he had prior to the Gulf War" . . . .

The real reason why hawks inside and outside the government want to assault Iraq is the nature of Saddam Hussein's regime: tyrannical, anti-democratic, brutal to its own citizens, menacing to its neighbors, intransigent against Israel's existence. President Bush would be acting against Saddam not as part of a war against terror but as a superpower avenger against governments of the world that fail to meet minimum standards of human decency.

That role would isolate the United States as lone-ranger global protector, accompanied occasionally by Israel. In his press conference last Thursday night, Bush called Saddam an "evil man," adding: "We're watching him very carefully." Sober officials inside the administration believe the president should do no more than watch Iraq, unless and until it is clearly implicated in the murderous events of Sept. 11.
In the last two (fanciful) paragraphs, you will note, Novak anticipates one of the evanescent justifications for war that the Bush administration threw up against the wall when numerous others had failed to stick. Who was that masked humanitarian? Why, it's America, the Lone Ranger of Democracy, and Israel, the Tonto of Freedom, avenging the weak and the oppressed against those despicable regimes that "fail to meet minimum standards of human decency."

In the event, alas, it was not to be.

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