of who emerges as the Democratic presidential
nominee, the race has already served its greater
democratic purpose: It has blown away George W.
Bush's wartime aura of patriotic infallibility.
only Howard Dean, the passionate truth-teller
about Iraq, but Senator John Kerry, Gen. Wesley
Clark and others have found their voices to question
almost all aspects of Bush's post-Sept. 11 performance.
are bringing home to Americans the worldwide debates
about their president's penchant for exploiting
and fanning fears by exaggerating dangers, taking
unilateral actions abroad, and squandering U.S.
U.S. is facing a crisis of international legitimacy,"
writes Robert Kagan, the respected analyst at
the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace,
in the upcoming spring issue of Foreign Affairs
Serge Schmemann, editorial page editor of the
Paris-based International Herald Tribune and a
former writer for the New York Times: "I've
been living in France for the past six months
and I often wonder whether Americans are aware
of the depth of the dread and revulsion in which
Bush's United States is held by many foreigners."
thanks to the debates in the Democratic primaries
and other developments, Americans are catching
a week goes by without new evidence of how Bush
launched the war on Iraq on false pretences. The
latest source of embarrassment is America's own
chief weapons hunter in Iraq.
Kay has declared that:
Iraq had no stockpiles of chemical or biological
It did not, as claimed by Washington, ship out
such weapons to Syria. It had none to ship.
Iraq had no weapons programs to speak of after
Iraq did not get any nuclear cake from Niger.
The mobile weapons lab that Dick Cheney and
Colin Powell portrayed as death on wheels, were
carriers of hydrogen for weather balloons.
conclusions are the same as those of Scott Ritter,
a member of the first United Nations weapons inspections
team that was withdrawn in 1998. And of Hans Blix,
head of the reconstituted U.N. inspections team.
And of Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International
Atomic Energy Agency.
made two more telling points, in interviews and
at Congressional hearings yesterday.
administration's exaggerations aside, the Central
Intelligence Agency's intelligence gathering in
Iraq was flawed, he said.
CIA had infiltrated the U.N. Special Commission
weapons inspection teams to spy on Iraqi weapons
capabilities (just as Saddam Hussein had charged).
"UNSCOM was like crack cocaine for the CIA,"
Kay told the New York Times. Once withdrawn, the
CIA was adrift and missed a key development in
had lost touch with reality. He was approving
every major decision himself. Scientists were
running scams. They would present him with big
schemes for weapons. He would grant huge sums
of money. But not much would be done.
were the same con artists, you will recall, whom
Washington wanted interviewed by Blix and whisked
out of Iraq so they could spill the beans on Saddam's
Kay's devastating indictment, Bush and the boys
are refusing to blink.
no longer insisting, as they were until last week,
that weapons would eventually be found, Bush,
Cheney and others have slipped into their secondary
argument: Saddam was evil and needed to be removed
that was not their chosen tool to scare Americans
into supporting their war. Rather, it was that
Saddam could attack America with his deadly weapons,
using missiles or terrorists.
get around that blatant inconsistency, the White
House is now trying a new tack: that Bush had
never characterized Saddam's danger as "imminent,"
only as "grave and growing."
is a difference?
last time the White House tried such hair-splitting
was when Bill Clinton argued it was not "sex"
that he had had with Monica Lewinsky.
difference in this case, of course, is that more
than 500 Americans and nearly 15,000 Iraqi soldiers
and civilians are dead.
for the policy of toppling bad guys, of whom there
are many, Human Rights Watch had something to
say this week in a major report.
interventions, it said, are best reserved for
stopping ongoing or imminent slaughters, as in
Rwanda (where no one intervened in time) or in
Iraq in 1988 when Saddam was gassing Kurds (and
Washington winked). And such actions are best
lone sheriff tableau is exclusively American ÷
an outdated one at that, resurrected nonetheless
in times of trouble for comforting reassurance.
But if a Newsweek poll is any indication ÷
Kerry leading Bush, 49 per cent to 46 per cent
÷ the president may have overstayed his
welcome in that role as well.
Posted: January 31, 2004