As I said to Jim Henley and Patrick when we were down in DC for that antiwar march, our European semi-allies aren’t going to back us up on a war with Iraq if the UN weapons inspectors don’t find anything. Our guys are committed to the idea that they’re going to find something in Iraq, whether they find anything or not. This doesn’t wash with the rest of the world, which thinks that finding something means finding something.
Forgotten, bird-doody-covered boxes of old shells don’t make it. Did you ever see such a PR fiasco? It was pathetic. Portentously suggesting that those might constitute “a smoking gun” just told the rest of the world that some dusty old boxes of shells were the biggest thing the inspectors had found.
Still and all, it’s clear that our guys really have expected to find something. You could hear it in their voices, all up and down the line. John McCain absolutely thought so; and while the Bushies lie so habitually that it takes an effort for them to do anything else, McCain doesn’t do their lying for them.
Tony Blair, that sly sleek bouncy political animal, has just as clearly been expecting that UN inspectors would find something in Iraq. He wouldn’t have committed himself this thoroughly for anything less. The Brits might go to war on our side if UN inspectors found weapons of mass destruction but we didn’t get a UN resolution out of it, or vice-versa; but they won’t do it if they don’t have something to go on.
Besides, it’s not like Dubya to keep upping his bets if he doesn’t think he’s onto a sure thing. He’s never been a risk-taker. He obviously wants a war with Iraq because he wants one, just because; but it’s not like him to put himself in a position where he’ll be personally, objectively shown up as wrong—no excuses, no spin, no safety net—if some real-world development doesn’t come through.
So, what’s the difference between Blair and Britain, on the one hand, and the rest of our Western European semi-allies on the other? The obvious one is that we share more intelligence with them. This doesn’t necessarily mean that Blair knows more than the other European leaders, but it may mean that he thinks he does.
As you know, Bob, the Bush clan has close, deep connections to the CIA, and to a lesser extent with the rest of the intelligence community. Bush Sr. was basically a career spook who became Ronald Reagan’s Vice President, where he built up enough momentum to carry him forward into a single-term Presidency. GHWB’s intelligence background has been a godsend to Dubya, whose earlier career and habits left the kind of stains that require the attention of professional cleaners.
For some years now, giving Dubya what he wants has been a real good career move. And he really does want that war. I’m just wondering now whether somewhere along the line, someone in the intelligence community foolishly decided to give him what he wants. Dubya would believe it without a second thought, of course; and since he’d figure he had a sure thing with this inside information, he’d bet heavily on it. Other leaders to whom he passed on the intelligence, such as Tony Blair, and Congressional leaders like McCain, would believe it too. It would explain a lot.
I’m just asking.
Here’s more on the developing fiasco from Tim Dunlop, proprietor of The Road to Surfdom. Go and read, it’s good stuff.
More and more, Bush & Co. remind me of Jim Macdonald’s definition of the difference between a goat-roping and a clusterfuck—those being occasions of complete fiasco, transcending all degrees of snafu—which is that one is fun to watch, and the other isn’t.