Friday, August 10, 2007

Katha Pollitt delivers a righteous smackdown

To Michael Ignatieff and all the other Iraq war proponents
Once, just once, I'd like to see a repentant war proponent acknowledge in a straightforward, non-weaselly way that Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky, Scott Ritter, Code Pink and, yes, The Nation--to say nothing of the millions around the world who demonstrated so ardently against the war--got it right. But no: "Many of those who correctly anticipated catastrophe did so not by exercising judgment but by indulging in ideology," Ignatieff writes. "They opposed the invasion because they believed the President was only after the oil or because they believed America is always and in every situation wrong."

Excuse me while I set myself on fire. I remember the run-up to the invasion very well, and "It's all about oil" and "America is always wrong" were hardly the major arguments on the table. Since Ignatieff must know this--surely he listened to Mark Danner and Robert Scheer when he teamed with Hitchens to debate them at UCLA--his calumny is not only self-serving, it's disingenuous.

Let's review. You wouldn't know it from Ignatieff's piece, but Bush's stated reason for war was not the liberation of the Iraqi people; it was that Saddam Hussein promoted terrorism, colluded with Al Qaeda, possessed WMDs and presented an immediate threat to the United States. Long before the war there was quite a bit of evidence that none of this was true. Were Hans Blix and Mohammed ElBaradei ideologues who hated America? Remember the yellowcake, the aluminum tubes, the Niger documents the International Atomic Energy Agency determined were forgeries? It was possible to say, and many did, that Saddam was a murderous tyrant but that unilateral pre-emptive war against a country that presented no threat was a dangerous upending of settled international law.

Thank you Katha.