I gave up on the Bush press conference about halfway through. "As far as I can tell, it's all about war, war, war," Kos says. "And God tells him war is okay. And he's using a yoga voice -- perhaps to counter the 'foaming-at-the-mouth war-crazed' persona he's cultivated. But he sounds sedated." That basically sums it up.
Instead, I decided to fisk Fred Barnes. I don't usually do this sort of thing, but Fred just made it so damn easy. He published a list of ten "peacenik" objections to Bush's war. He thinks he's got them well and truly debunked. I don't think so....
(1) Rush to war. ...President Bush has taken all the steps asked of him before going to war: getting the approval of Congress, getting another U.N. resolution (with perhaps yet another on the way), and building a coalition of supporters. He's hardly rushing.
“All the steps asked of him”? Did he actually obtain that second UN resolution finding Saddam in material breach while I wasn’t looking?
(2) It's a war for oil. The United States could buy all the oil it wants from Iraq by lifting the sanctions and helping to reconstruct the Iraqi oilfields. It's the French and Russians who have oil deals with Saddam and thus are fixated on that issue. They don't want a war that would upset those deals.
Right -- obtaining oil from a country run by your own puppet regime is just as difficult as buying it from a megalomaniac dictator whose country you’ve bombed for a dozen years.
(3) War with Iraq will bring more terrorism. This is a hardy perennial. It was claimed before the Gulf war and the Afghanistan campaign--and when bombs fell on al Qaeda and the Taliban during Ramadan....
The first Gulf War was followed by the first World Trade Center bombing, the attacks on the Khobar Towers and Cole, the African embassy bombings, the second World Trade Center bombing....
Rather than more terrorism, removing Saddam will bring more respect for the United States. Terrorists will be increasingly fearful.
Right -- just like after the Afghan war. That disco in Bali? It bombed itself.
(4) The Arab street will erupt. Another perennial. This is often predicted but rarely happens. A swift, decisive victory over Saddam will quiet the Arab street....
Sure -- just the way every swift, decisive Israeli retaliation for suicide bombings brings peace and harmony to the Palestinian street.
(5) Bush is doing it for his dad. ... consider the source of this charge: Martin Sheen.
No, Fred, you consider the source: George W. Bush.
(6) Attacking Iraq would be unprovoked aggression. No, it wouldn't. Andrew Sullivan has pointed out a significant fact: There was no peace treaty, only the truce, so the state of war resumes when the conditions are violated....
There was no peace treaty after the Korean War, either. So if North Korea nukes Seoul in the next few months, shall we assume you’ll say it wasn’t unprovoked aggression, Fred?
(7) Containment is working. The problem is the right threat is not being contained: the spread of weapons of mass destruction. Sure, with U.S. troops and U.N. inspectors in the area, Saddam won't attack Jordan or Syria or other neighbors. But he could slip chemical or biological agents to terrorists without anyone knowing. And that's the threat.
Anyone with chem, bio, or nuclear weapons, or the capacity to make them, could slip them to terrorists. But what evidence do we have that this is Saddam’s M.O.? Why would a guy who is sitting on a fixed plot of land -- unlike bin Laden -- do that and risk a massive, possibly nuclear, retaliation? And by the way, when did all the GOP dictionaries start to redefine “could” and “might” and “almost certainly will”?
(8) America doesn't have enough allies. What? Forty or so isn't enough? Is the case for war weakened in the slightest by the absence of the French or the Angolans? ...
That’s not the question. The question is: In the post-Cold War world, is the case for a war to uphold the international order weakened by the absence of the French, the Germans, the Russians, the Chinese, and the Japanese -- for starters?
(9) Win without war. That's a nice goal. Unfortunately, it's Saddam's goal. With no war, he wins and emerges as the new strongman in the Middle East, forcing people to come to terms with him.
Ringed by troops, dogged by inspectors, reined in by sanctions, able to control only the half of his own country that’s outside the no-fly zones -- this would make him a “strongman”?
(10) Bush is seeking a new American empire. ... I'll let Secretary of State Colin Powell answer this one. When hectored by a former archbishop of Canterbury on this subject recently, he said: "We have gone forth from our shores repeatedly over the last 100 years . . . and put wonderful young men and women at risk, many of whom have lost their lives, and we have asked for nothing except enough ground to bury them in." Well said.
All that was before we had a president named George W. Bush.