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Thursday, March 25, 2004

Clarke Again 

My buddy Jeff Hahn has a great post on Clarke that is quite cogent and not of the blind praise or vicious smear variety, which is refreshing.

On Clarke's allegation that Bush was obsessed with Iraq immediately after 9/11 and finding some way to blame it on Hussein, Jeff says:

...if it's the case that Bush told Clarke to concoct an Iraq/al qaeda connection, that's one thing. But I don't think he's saying that. What he is saying is that Bush officials harped on Iraq in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, intensely probing a possible connection. While one could argue that the focus was misplaced, it was certainly logical to look into Iraq. And Bush never asserted that Iraq was responsible for 9/11, so any claim or implication that he wanted to concoct a connection is pure conjecture.

First, it's true that Bush never said 9/11 was perpetrated by Iraq. Those around him, however, managed to imply it so heavily that a vast majority of Americans, when polled at the time, felt that Iraq was responsible. This didn't happen by itself. It was the constant focus on Iraq as part of the War on Terror that led to it, and to think otherwise is to wear blinders.

As to the "fucus" being "misplaced," I would argue that the focus has been misplaced all along and that several hundred billion dollars and over 500 American lives have been "misplaced" with it. I think we'd have Bin Laden in a sack hanging from a pole if we had all (or half) the troops that we have in Iraq right now out there looking for him, and had them doing so from the minute we knew it was Al Qaeda that perpetrated 9/11. THAT should be the focus on the war on terror. What the focus should NOT be is invading countries with tenuous at best ties to terrorism on bunk intelligence hyperbolically amped by ideologues hell-bent on invasion for years in order to unilaterally enter into a near-impossible (though i hope for the best) nation building adventure while simultaneously fomenting hate and dispair amongst those we are supposedly trying to win over, thereby creating MORE terrorists and giving them some good targets to try and kill just miles from their homes!

That's the anti-war (in Iraq) statement that nobody will give credence to as they set up straw-man peaceniks to hurl tree-hugging jokes at.

Of course, all of that is completely scattershot, which doesn't do justice to Jeff's post, which is cogent and on point. I think what he is missing, however, is that the response to Clarke has as much to do with Bush Co.'s attitude (smear and/or fire and/or expose undercover wives of all naysayers and never admit a wrong) and what it implies about their priorities (even before the commission, politics above all else) and how that contrasted with Clarke's approach (admit his share of fault and apologize to those harmed by it). That is the key here, both substantively and politically. What may have seemed like "Strong Leadership in Times of Change" (tm) right after 9/11 is starting to look (to some at least) alot like a pungent blend of pettiness and arrogance.

I'll continue this post in a bit when I have more time...in the meantime, go read Jeff's blog, which is one of my favorites even though I disagree with him regularly.

(Edited to remove mild retardation...really will continue it later)

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