Tuesday, August 05, 2003

A lot of hawks, in and out of the blogsphere, are now arguing that even if the road to Dubya's war in Iraq was paved with lies, that's OK, because it served a true, higher purpose. A few weeks ago, Matthew Yglesias noted a problem with these arguments:

...once we concede that the road to war was paved with deception, there's no way to know that we're not the chumps. I mean, a smart deceiver would understand that the sort of crude methods that fool the hoi polloi won't work on news junkies and political webloggers, so there's a different deception for us.

Let's say that you believe that the WMD story was fake, but the real purpose of the invasion was to introduce Western Democracy to the Arabs. (Forcibly imposing democracy? Never mind...). How can you be sure that that isn't yet another story, designed to mask, say, good old-fashioned imperialism, perhaps à la Laurent Murawiec?

Which brings me to an interesting quote from Tom Friedman. Friedman recall, was arguing even before the war, in the pages of the New York Times, that the WMD case was essentially fraudulent, but might be useful to gain support from the project from our reluctant allies. (He seems to be of the view that no one in their foriegn ministries reads the New York Times). And Oliver Burkeman quotes him as saying that Dubya's hinting at connections between Iraq and al-Qaeda were likewise "just a lie". The story he presented in the Times as the true justification for the project was that if we just got control of the territory in Iraq, we could light a beacon of democracy and reshape the culture of Muslims the world over, or something like that. But Burkeman finds a hint at something else lurking in Friedman's writing. Says Friedman:

"Saudi Arabia would have been fine; Pakistan would have been fine. We did Iraq because we could... My motto here to my liberal friends is that some things are true even if George Bush believes them. It's very Machiavellian, and very hard to sell. [But] a Roman emperor would have understood it perfectly."

Michael Parenti to the contrary, Roman emperors are not usually noted for their support of democracy...


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