Sunday, July 01, 2007

War and Reason: Why We Fight in Iraq

Over at FrontPage Magazine, David Horowitz dissects Al Gore's attacks on the administration's Iraq policy, found in the former vice-president's new book, The Assualt on Reason:

Like his Democratic colleagues, Gore sees himself as a restorer of “reason” to an America that is on its way to perdition thanks to the serpent in the Rose Garden. According to Gore, Bush is the arch deceiver: “Five years after President Bush made his case for an invasion of Iraq, it is now clear that virtually all the arguments he made were based on falsehoods.”

The First Big Bush Lie, according to Gore, is that the Bush administration went to war to remove Saddam Hussein’s WMDs or, as he puts it: “The first rationale presented for the war was to destroy Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction.” This familiar Democratic claim is itself probably the biggest lie of the Iraq War, rather than anything the president or his administration has said. In fact, the first – and last – rationale presented for the war by the Bush administration in every formal government statement about the war was not the destruction of WMDs but the removal of Saddam Hussein, or regime change.

This regime change was necessary because Saddam was an international outlaw. He had violated the 1991 Gulf War truce and all the arms control agreements it embodied, including UN resolutions 687 and 689, and the 15 subsequent UN resolutions designed to enforce them. The last of these, UN Security Council Resolution 1441, was itself a war ultimatum to Saddam giving him “one final opportunity” to disarm – or else. The ultimatum expired on December 7, 2002, and America went to war three months later.

Contrary to everything that Al Gore and other Democrats have said for the last four years, Saddam’s violation of the arms control agreements that made up the Gulf War truce – and not the alleged existence of Iraqi WMDs – was the legal, moral and actual basis for sending American troops to Iraq.
Horowitz notes further:

Ignoring – and distorting – the facts about how and why his country went to war, Gore repeats the slanders of the president – and therefore his country – that have become a familiar aspect of our political life. The charges are transparently designed to destroy the authority of America’s commander-in-chief, while his troops are in harm’s way – an unprecedented sabotage of a war in progress. In the course of repeating these charges, Gore adds one of his own, indicting Bush as a tool of the American ruling class who has manipulated the facts about Iraq in order to serve their hidden agendas: “It was as if the Bush White House had adopted Walter Lippmann’s recommendation to decide in advance what policies it wanted to follow and then to construct a propagandistic mass persuasion campaign to ‘manufacture’ the consent of the people to do what the ‘specialized governing class’ had already made up its mind to do.”

Of course Walter Lippmann never recommended any such thing. This is a gross misrepresentation of a Lippmann argument, which can be traced to Noam Chomsky and his Marxist screed, Manufacturing Consent. According to Chomsky, the term “manufactured consent” refers to a conspiracy of the ruling class to snooker Americans into war. This is a malicious misreading of Lippmann’s text.

In his book, Public Opinion, Lippmann observed that modern society had become so complex that only specialized experts were in a position to understand the implications of a given national policy. Because of this complexity, informed policy debates could not be conducted by the voting public but necessarily took place between specialized experts who were then supported by constituencies on both sides of the argument. In other words, Lippmann was already recognizing the role of what we now call “special interest” and “public interest” groups in shaping the national policy debate. It was in this sense that Lippmann wrote that democratic consent was inevitably “manufactured.” Lippmann never recommended that rulers should organize a “propagandistic mass persuasion campaign” to deceive the public and manipulate the result. This is Chomsky’s perversion of Lippmann’s idea, which Gore merely repeats.

Even so, the argument that Bush manipulated the facts about Iraqi WMDs to pursue a war policy that was aggressive and unfounded is demonstrably false. Bush acted on the consensus of every major intelligence agency – including the British, the French, the Russian, the German and the Jordanian – all of whom believed that Saddam had WMDs. In other words, he cannot reasonably be accused of inventing the existence of Saddam’s WMDs, although that is precisely what Gore and other demagogues on the left do on an almost daily basis. Since every Democratic Senator who voted for the war was provided by the administration with a copy the intelligence data on Saddam’s WMDs, the charge made by Gore and other Democratic senators that they were deceived is both cynical and hypocritical as well as false.
Read the whole thing. Horowitz goes on at considerable length to debunk Gore's leftist campaign against the administration and its war policy:

For Gore and the president’s Democratic critics, all these facts [on the administration's effort at gaining international support for war] count for nothing. In their place is the great American Satan, George Bush. According to Gore and the Democrats America went to war for reasons that are either illegitimate or immoral or both. According to Gore, the sending of American troops to Iraq was an imperial aggression, orchestrated by the president and his advisors who manipulated the evidence, deceived the people, and ignored the UN to carry out their malign intent: “The pursuit of ‘dominance’ in foreign policy led the Bush administration to ignore the United Nations,” writes Gore, showing his utter contempt for the facts. What Bush actually ignored was the French, who built Saddam’s nuclear reactor, collaborated with Saddam’s theft of the “Oil for Food” billions, and threatened to veto any attempt to enforce international law or the UN ultimatum. Bush also ignored the Russians, who supplied two-thirds of Saddam’s weapons, helped him sabotage the UN sanctions, and refused to enforce the UN ultimatum. What Bush did not ignore were the 17 UN resolutions designed to keep the Middle East peace and protect the world from the consequences of its failure. Al Gore did that.
Praise goes to Horowitz for taking the time to clarify the American case for war in 2003. Unfortunately, Horowitz is essentially fighting a losing battle. American public opinion is not supportive of deep and costly military operations over the long-term, unless unambiguous success in evident. Liberals, of course, are apparently embodened by U.S. difficulty in Iraq, and President Bush has even lost support among many conservatives. This political environment is perfect for America-bashers like Al Gore, who themselves are quick to dismiss reason and evidence to score political points favoring appeasement and retreat.

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