Friday, June 13, 2003

Robert Kagan Does DaDa

Noted foreign policy surrealist, defender and promotor of the Bush Doctrine, Robert Kagan thinks there's something "surreal about the charges flying that President Bush lied when he claimed Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.".

And he knows whereof he speaks. What could be more surreal than Mr. Kagan's use of the word, "discrepancy" in the following passage:

Yesterday The Post continued the barrage, reporting that Defense Intelligence Agency analysts claimed last September merely that Iraq "probably" possessed "chemical agent in chemical munitions" and "probably" possessed "bulk chemical stockpiles, primarily containing precursors, but that also could consist of some mustard agent and VX," a deadly nerve agent.

This kind of "discrepancy" qualifies as front-page news these days. Why? Not because the Bush administration may have -- repeat, may have -- exaggerated the extent of knowledge about what Hussein had in his WMD arsenal. No, the critics' real aim is to prove that, as a New York Times reporter recently put it, "the failure so far to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq may mean that there never were any in the first place."

Kagan provides us with an impressive list of all the people besides members of the Bush administration who have said Saddam had those WMD - everyone from Jacque Chirac to Al Gore, and BTW, suddenly Hans Blitz's opinion matters, hey, so does Bill Clinton's.

And if you'd like to see a master surrealist doing his dadaistic best to boggle your mind, check out this last paragraph:

So if you like a good conspiracy, this one's a doozy. And the best thing about it is that if all these people are lying, there's only one person who ever told the truth: Saddam Hussein....

Objectively speaking, that is.

Trust Josh Marshall not to let his mind get boggled:

The president's defenders want to frame the argument like this: the president said there was WMD; his critics said there was WMD. If he's wrong, everybody was wrong. If there was a 'plot' to deceive the American people, as Kagan would have it, even the president's critics were in on the plot. So what kind of plot would that be?

This is just a head-fake with an advanced degree and it's deeply dishonest.

Josh reads the head-fake, stops Kagan at the scrimage line and scores something of a rhetorical touchdown himself:

It does Kagan no credit to tar critics as conspiracy theorists or muddy up the water enough so that the debate can't be had.

The fact is that the administration and its advocates are now doing everything they can to run away from a year's worth of arguments about the imminent threat posed by Saddam Hussein.... conservatives are often fond of saying that 'ideas have consequences.'

Lies do too.

Let's hope.