Check out this remarkable bit of rationalization by conservative blogger Glenn Reynolds (aka Instapundit) explaining why the fact that we have now officially concluded that Saddam had no WMDs actually doesn’t mean the justification for the war was a mistake:
I think that the whole “the war was all about weapons of mass destruction” meme is a bit dishonest. First, it’s worth remembering (here’s a list of resolutions on Iraq) that the burden was on Saddam to prove that he didn’t have the weapons, and nobody thought he’d done that. Second, and more important from my standpoint, was that the war was about remaking the Middle East, helping to establish a democracy in a vital spot, neutralizing a longtime, and still-dangerous foe with ties to terrorists, and putting the U.S. in a position to threaten Syria, Iran, and Saudi Arabia, not simply about getting rid of WMD stockpiles. (This was no secret. Even John Kerry said that he would have gone to war even knowing that there were no WMD stockpiles.)
The biggest criticism of the Bush Administration here is that (1) it made the mistake of listening to George “slam dunk” Tenet and the CIA on this issue; and — bigger mistake — (2) it made the mistake of trying to go through the United Nations, which required it to make more of the WMD business than was otherwise necessary.
Yes! He actually has the nerve to claim that it’s not that Bush got it wrong, it’s that the United Nations forced poor George Bush to make up a bunch of WMD nonsense to try and win them over!
Jesus. Spin, Glenn, spin.
Are we really supposed to believe this? Does he not remember Bush also using the WMD claim in the 2003 State of the Union address (“Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa”)? Are we to believe that poor widdle George was so cowed by the big bad UN he had to use his State of the Union to try and win them over, too?
Why can’t these guys just admit their man made a mistake?
Reynolds prints some mail from his readers on the subject, too — unsurprisingly, they turn out to be as dense as he is:
The persons who are all jumping up and down in glee because no WMD were found in Iraq (thereby, in their opinions, vindicating their position) conveniently omit one inconvenient bit of information. Those same people argued that Iraq should not be invaded and Saddam should not be removed even if Iraq possessed WMD. Thus, the full argument is that the U.S should not have invaded Iraq and toppled Saddam regardless of whether it had WMD.
Want to test this? Ask any anti-war type or Bush-hater whether he or she would support the war or Bush if WMD were found in Iraq tomorrow.
Now, this guy is absolutely right. I argued as far back as 2002 that we shouldn’t invade Iraq, regardless of its WMD status.
But he says that like it’s somehow a bad thing!
My point — and the point that a lot of thoughtful people were trying to make at the time — was that the risk from the Hussein regime had to be viewed in context, as one of many risks we were confronting with limited resources around the world. We were already in a shooting war in Afghanistan; North Korea was seeking WMDs, and had an unstable dictator; Pakistan and Saudi Arabia were exporting Islamic fundamentalism; and so on.
Compared to these threats the threat from Saddam was relatively minor. He wasn’t going to be invading his neighbors anytime soon; he was a secular tyrant uninterested in Islamism; unlike Pervez Musharraf (our good buddy, mind you), he wasn’t selling nuke parts to the North Koreans or anyone else with a wad of cash.
In short, he was a bad man, but he was like Problem Number Eleven on the to-do list. So why the hell did we jump him to the head of the line?
The worst part is, by choosing to jump him up like that, we’ve actually made ourselves less able to deal with the more important challenges that were higher up. Our Army is tied down and shot to hell, so our credibility in trying to face down North Korea militarily is dramatically lower than it used to be. We’ve had to outsource the hunt for al Qaeda to Pakistan, which has resulted in a spectacular lack of success (and which puts us deeper in Musharraf’s pocket, rather than helping us develop alternatives). We’re stuck in a spiraling web of violence that now looks like it might spill over into Iran (!). And al Qaeda is free to take a shot at overthrowing the House of Saud — and does anybody believe that we have a plan for what to do if that were to happen?
So yeah, blockhead, some of us were willing to put Iraq on the back burner for a little while while we worked on the real problems!
Spin, spin, spin, Instapundit. There was a time when I thought Reynolds was a conservative blogger with some intellectual integrity, but he’s pretty clearly decided there’s more of a future in just being a shill for the administration. I’m sure he’ll let us know how that works out.