I’m getting inundated with very snide email from folks who think that I should apologize, recant or otherwise grovel because of the Duelfer (ISG) Report or Bremer statements. I’m going to write one response here so I can send a link to all future such emails.
These are really two different things, so let me be very clear.
As for the Bremer comments, fair enough. I don’t know anyone who disputes that the post-war planning has gone swimmingly. To the extent that Bremer’s comments about not enough troops go to legitimate criticism of the postwar efforts, that’s fair game, even if smart people may dispute Bremer’s account.
But, as for the ISG report: so what? I don’t mean that the report’s not important or that the failure to find WMDs isn’t a huge failure. How many times do I need to write that it constitutes the biggest intelligence blunder since Pearl Harbor for people to think I mean it?
No, when I say So What? I mean who’s surprised? What does it change? Nothing in this report — from what I’ve seen — changes the argument of the last year at all. All of these asinine emails saying this proves Bush lied could have been — and were — written after the Interim ISG report. They could have been — and were — written after the failure to find WMDs the first month after the fall of Baghdad. I’ve written countless times that I don’t think you can make a credible argument that Bush lied to get us into war, because I don’t think you can make a credible argument that he wasn’t positive the WMDs were there. Obviously he was wrong, but so were France, Germany, Russia, the Clinton Administration and the United Nations. To say that now, because we are sure there are no WMDs, that we have the proof Bush lied is an intellectual stolen base. For him to have truly lied he’d have to have known something that his CIA Director, Defense Secretary and those holding similar offices in Europe and in the previous administration thought not to be the case. And then he would have to have been such a brilliant liar that he could have concealed that he knew Saddam had no WMDs from his whole cabinet and the world. These emailers who think Bush is a moron are in effect saying he’s the greatest genius in the world.
Moreover, I never, ever, made the WMDs to be my central case for why Saddam needed to go. You might say as countless emailers have in the past, “Who cares what your rationale for war was, you aren’t the Commander-in-Chief!” That’s fair enough. Except all of these name-calling bozos are insisting that I recant my position because there are no WMDs. Well, since WMDs were only a small part of my case and I think I was perfectly intelligent for thinking there were WMDs I see no reason why the ISG report should cause me to change my position at all.
The problems we’ve faced since the war, as I said, are a different issue. But that has nothing to do with the ISG report and nothing to do with the childish taunts from these emailers.