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October 12, 2003

Sunday Cartoon

Steve Bell

It states the case well. Few WMD's have been found. The initial justification for going to war with Iraq---that Iraq constituted an imminent threat to the national interest---looks threadbare.

So a reworking is needed to manage a sceptical public opinion. How does that go? In the US Condoleezza Rice now talks in terms of possibilities and might haves:

"We have no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved in the September 11th attacks. Yet the possibility remained that he might use his weapons of mass destruction or that terrorists might acquire such weapons from his regime, to mount a future attack far beyond the scale of 9/11. This terrible prospect could not be ignored or wished away."

That "might" is a reworking of the old justification that Saddam Hussein posed a substantive threat to the US national interest, hence the pressing need for a pre-emptive strike to take his regime out.

The response by the Bush administration to the WMD cupboard is bare criticisms is this: a counter offensive. Dick Cheney attacks the critics by ridiculing their arguments against the war as nave and dangerous. Cheney's speech to the Heritage Foundation can be found here. The quick comments by Abu Aardvark are worth reading.

Cheney's speech can be read as part of a counter-offensive by Team Bush that is directed at both the liberal elite and the softening of public opinion as reflected in the declining President poll ratings. The credibility of the Bush administration is now on the line, given the controversy over the administration's leak of the identity of a CIA operative who is married to a critic of Bush's Iraq policy. And international opinion? That, it seems, has been put to one side.

Bush's speeches in the publicity counter-offensive shift the emphasis from Hussein's alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction to Hussein's desire for such weapons and the general evil he represented. As I said it's a reworking.

Bush is now blaming the news media for the public's negative impression of current events in Iraq. I presume he means the liberal media?
The counter-offensive in Australia is being conducted by Andrew Bolt. He re-reads the Statement by David Kay on the Interim Progress Report on the Activities of the Iraq Survey Group (ISG) before the US Congress. (Bolt mistakenly says that it is the Report.) He picks the bits that indicate that show "the pattern of Saddam's deception and evil intent is absolutely clear."

In Bolt's reworking "evil intent" now does the work for the old WMD's constituting an imminent threat (for the UK), a substantive threat for the US and a sufficent threat to Australia's national interest to justify going to war.

Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at October 12, 2003 10:49 AM

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