The Corner

Wrong Emphasis

From a reader in academia:

Dear Mr. Goldberg:

I agree very much with your Corner posting on how emphasizing WMD’s over the goal of changing the Middle East was tactically a bad idea, one provoked by the need to have a “legal” (i.e. UN-pleasing) argument. But note another implication. In his axis of evil speech President Bush argued for a doctrine of preemption. In reality, however, the Bush administration went after not the most terrorist and most WMD-friendly government (that would have to be either Iran or N. Korea), but the one with which they had a plausible casus belli under international law. In short, the Bush administration itself didn’t really act according to its pre-emption doctrine. Given the demonstrated uncertainties of intelligence, I don’t know whether that’s a good thing or not, but it has to be acknowledged if we want to understand the situation we’re in right now.

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