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George Weigel Cannot Leave the Bubble

February 19, 2009

I found Weigel’s analysis of the last election quite stupefying:

“Given an unpopular war that had been misreported from the beginning, plus President Bush’s unwillingness to use the presidential bully pulpit to help the American people comprehend the stakes in Iraq, plus conservative aggravation over a spendthrift Republican Congress and administration, plus that administration’s failure to enforce discipline on its putative congressional allies, plus public exhaustion with a familiar cast of characters after seven years in office, plus an economic meltdown—well, given all that, it seems unlikely that any Republican candidate could have beaten any Democrat in 2008.

…………

Still, I would argue that the basic dynamics of the 2008 campaign, evident in the passions that drove Obama supporters to seize control of the Democratic party and then of the presidency, were not set in motion by the failures and missed opportunities of the previous seven years but by Bush Derangement Syndrome.”

(Hat tip to John Henry for this; the original is behind a subscription firewall)

So, according to Weigel, the massive Republican  rout had nothing to do with the previous regime’s incompetence, corruption, and crony capitalism. It had nothing to do with an economic meltdown that can be traced to the very free market ideology lauded by that administration. It had nothing to do with torture and human rights violations. It had nothing to do with turning the United States into a global pariah and emboldening millions of anti-Americans, some of whom follow the route of terrorism. No, it was because George Bush did not do a good enough job in persuading people of the virtues of the Iraq war. Truly incredible.

Is it not high time for Weigel and his fellow Catholic pro-war supporters to show just an inkling of humility and admit they were wrong? After all, this is the man who embarrassed himself by endowing George Bush with the “charism of political discernment”, thus making it fine to ignore what the Church had to say on the Iraq war.

Let’s review this a little. Many Catholics who supported the Iraq war did so on a number of assumptions. First, they assumed that Saddam Hussein presented an imminent threat based on his notorious WMDs, and was planning on deploying them soon. Second, they assumed that because of the hatred felt by Iraqis against the brutal regime, the war would play out smoothly, fast and relatively costless. For those who take the just war teachings seriously, the first assumption dealt with the “last resort” criterion while the second pertained the “disproportionate evils”. Now, there are serious problems with this interpretation of the just war teachings, but if we assume the validity of these two points, there was at least the semblance of a case.

But, as we all know, these two assumptions did not hold. There were no WMDs, and certainly no imminent threat. Far from being costless, the war unleashed horrors that led to the deaths of possibly a million Iraqis and the displacement of a quarter of the population, while sowing the seeds for further instability and terrorism. In other words, there is really no way anybody who takes the just war teachings seriously can possibly still think that the “last resort” and “disproportionate evils” criteria are still valid for this particular war.

Now, there were plenty of people who argued all along that there were no WMDs and an invasion would lead to disaster (the Vatican among them), but I can certainly understand how people at least initially bought the WMD story. After all, we were not accustomed to such audacious lies coming from the executive branch. But with the benefit of hindsight, it would be nice if Mr. Weigel could simply admit he was wrong, and re-assess the situation. It would be nice if people like him who still wanted to support Republicans would do not in spite of, not because of, policies that go directly against Catholic teaching. After all, Weigel is perfectly capable of wagging the finger at other Catholic public figures who take such contradictory stances. It would be nice to see a little consistency. But that would mean first leaving the warm embrace of the bubble.

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62 Comments
  1. February 19, 2009 3:02 pm

    Lies from the executive branch?

    “Saddam Hussein has spent the better part of this decade and much of his nation’s wealth not on providing for the Iraqi people but on developing nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and the missiles to deliver them….I know I speak for everyone in this chamber, Republicans and Democrats, when I say to Saddam Hussein, “You cannot defy the will of the world,” and when I say to him, “You have used weapons of mass destruction before. We are determined to deny you the capacity to use them again.”

    Bill Clinton 1998

  2. February 19, 2009 3:04 pm

    More Where did the WMD Intel come from? here

    http://theanchoressonline.com/2005/11/02/where-did-the-wmd-intel-come-from/

    • February 19, 2009 3:23 pm

      JH

      Two things. 1) Clinton was wrong, but 2) even if he were right in his time, it doesn’t mean in 2001 the situation was the same. And one could ask where did Clinton get his notions of Iraq’s WMD from? I suspect we could look back to before his presidency as well. It will become never-ending. But you are right, Clinton did much which was wrong, and I don’t think the people on VN have said differently.

  3. Chris permalink
    February 19, 2009 3:06 pm

    If people like George Weigel are so out of touch with political reality, then why should anyone believe him theologically? This is alway the problem when Catholics revel in extreme political views.

  4. phosphorious permalink
    February 19, 2009 3:37 pm

    And Clinton’s word is a s good as gold to republicans, right?

    If he said so, then there was no need to double check or even update the information, right?

    The mental energy spent defending Bush from all and every criticism is quite astonishing.

  5. February 19, 2009 3:39 pm

    JH, look up Curveball.

  6. February 19, 2009 3:55 pm

    Weigel just continues to amaze/disappoint me. I am upset that our Archdiocesan paper just started running his column. Thanks for this piece MM.

    peace to all
    <>

  7. February 19, 2009 4:17 pm

    Phosohorious

    I am not defending Bush on whehter he was right or wrong.For I supported out entry into Iraq. I am defending him from the charge he was lying!! Big difference that people wish to blur at times. The fact is this view was held by many intelligent agencies and some espcially good ones.

    People focus on several things. MM focuces ont the war for instance. But somehow misses the fact that the war was not going great in 2004 and I think people realized before Bush was up for relection that there was no WMDs. Still Bush got back in

    FOr other it was Katrina ( a subject I was not nearly as critical of Bush on) or immigration reform in which he used political captial Twicee or SS reform or his contoversial policy on the Dubai Port Deal or Harriet Myers etc etc.

    In other words if we are asking people to “get otside their Bubble” than perhaps they should try to do that and see the full picture of what Bush was up against and caused an exhaustion of this Second term.

    In effect it was a perfect storm that not only included issues of Iraq but varous other things that even got him much grief from his base.

  8. February 19, 2009 4:34 pm

    Interestingly – and counter-intuitively – “Bush Derangement Syndrome” does not denote Bush’s derangement.

    George Weigel could co-author a blog with me. I’d call it “I was a Bush War Whore.”

    Well, make that present tense for Weigel.

  9. Knuckle Dragger permalink
    February 19, 2009 4:36 pm

    What proof do you have that Bush lied? It was an intelligence failure by the U.S. and other countries. No one would lie like that just to go to war – even that devil George Bush.

  10. phosphorious permalink
    February 19, 2009 4:44 pm

    “What proof do you have that Bush lied?”

    According to Paul O’Neill’s book, just hours after 9/11, Bush’s people were figuring out how it could be used to justify an invasion of Iraq. As far as i know that claim was never denied. The Bush adminstration chided O’Neill for his “disloyalty” but (unless I missed it) no one clamed he was wrong.

    There are many kinds of lies. Cherry-picking intel to fit a foregone conclusion is one of the sneakier ones.

  11. February 19, 2009 4:54 pm

    “No one would lie like that just to go to war”
    Priceless. In a way, assuming that Bush really thought Iraq was about to attack the USA after more than a decade, may even be scarier. Iraq was on the list and the climate was fortuitous in a country that “don’t know the difference between Iraq and Iran.”

    As far as Bush is concerned, his mass murder is based in lunacy and lies. To which degree he deceived vs. being deceived, who knows. Lying lunatic or lunatic liar ? It matters little to the hundreds of thousands killed and maimed and widowed and orphaned at his behest.

    The USA, or, rather, the red state mentality people, will likely never stop being out for blood. It’d probably take a Dresden, or Hiroshima, like fate to ween people off the war teat.

  12. Knuckle Dragger permalink
    February 19, 2009 4:55 pm

    phosphorious,

    What do you think his motivation was?

    KD

  13. February 19, 2009 4:59 pm

    [Morning's Minion]: After all, this is the man who embarrassed himself by endowing George Bush with the “charism of political discernment”, thus making it fine to ignore what the Church had to say on the Iraq war.

    I think “Morning’s Minion” has his favorite Weigel quotes that he likes to keep on hand like a cudgel to bludgeon him with. =) I’ll remind him that Rowan Williams responded to this bit in an exchange with Weigel in First Things, to which Weigel clarified his remark:

    I gladly accept Dr. Williams’ proposal that “virtue” (with specific reference to the virtue of prudence) is the apt word for getting at the distinctive habitus to be desired in public authorities, while assuring him that, in using “charism,” I was not suggesting that the presidential oath of office (or its British parliamentary equivalent) involves an infusion of any particular gift of the Holy Spirit. And we are quite agreed that public authorities ought to consult widely in developing their own moral clarity in this time of war. It is certainly true that those outside the halls of power can sometimes see things that those inside have difficulty discerning. From my own experience with the present U.S. administration, I can say with some assurance that this point is well understood in the White House, the National Security Council, and the Department of Defense.

    These things happen differently in the United States than in Great Britain, where the policy debate (at least as I observe it) is conducted within far more confined circles; the Archbishop rightly cautions against drawing that circle of consultation too narrowly. By the same token, as a distinguished theologian, he surely agrees that public authorities will be more willing to learn from theology’s distinctive perspective on national and international security issues when theologians and clergymen demonstrate that their perceptions are informed by a clear view of the just war tradition as part of a responsible Christian theory of statecraft.

    I readily agree that it’s a sloppy phrase and Weigel shouldn’t have used it, but since Weigel has owned up to it, and having notified MM of this already, I figure the least he could do out of charity is acknowledge it.

  14. LCB permalink
    February 19, 2009 5:04 pm

    MM,

    I believe you have seriously misread what Weigel is saying. Your personal emotional reaction to him is impacting your interpertation.

    Weigel says, “… [the dynamics of change] were not set in motion by the failures and missed opportunities of the previous seven years but by Bush Derangement Syndrome.”

    I think that’s a pretty fair assessment with a bit of tongue-in-check verbage. America was not rallied behind Obama because of missed opportunities or specific failures over the last 7 years (which should read 3 years, since Bush was re-elected), but more by a specific cult of anti-personality against Bush, that had multiple facets. One was that the Bush administration stank at communication. The other was a very specific and consistent scape-goating and bashing by the media.

    Let’s try objectivity and reasonability, for a change.

  15. David Nickol permalink
    February 19, 2009 5:25 pm

    jh,

    Many seemed to believe Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. However, how many believed that at the time Bush ordered the attack, Iraq was an immanent threat to the United States?

    I remember at the time asking, “If there are WMDs in Iraq, why aren’t the weapons inspectors finding anything?”

    There simply was no justification for war. None at all.

  16. phosphorious permalink
    February 19, 2009 5:32 pm

    What do you think his motivation was?

    I honestly have no idea.

    It may be as simple as that, after 9/11, one arab was as good as another, so they attacked the one that was already on their mind.

    That’s harsh, but it fits the available evidence as well as anything.

  17. February 19, 2009 5:35 pm

    Fine, Christopher, but we’re all still waiting for Weigel to admit that he was wrong about Iraq, and to stop blaming Republican ills on George Bush’s inability to convince people how virtuous the war actually was– especially since he is the first to poing fingers at Catholic public figures who go against Church teaching.

  18. David Nickol permalink
    February 19, 2009 5:36 pm

    No one would lie like that just to go to war – even that devil George Bush.

    Knuckle Dragger,

    Cheney definitely lied to Dick Armey to get him to support the war. I am surprised this story got so little attention:

    A GOP congressional leader who was wavering on giving President Bush the authority to wage war in late 2002 said Vice President Dick Cheney misled him by saying that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had direct personal ties to Al Qaeda terrorists and was making rapid progress toward a suitcase nuclear weapon, according to a new book by Washington Post reporter Barton Gellman.

    Cheney’s accusations, described by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey of Texas, came in a classified one-on-one briefing in the vice president’s office in the Capitol.

    The threat Cheney described went far beyond public statements that have been criticized for relying on “cherry-picked” intelligence of unknown reliability. There was no intelligence to support the vice president’s private assertions, Gellman reports.

    Armey had spoken out against the coming war, and his opposition gave cover to Democrats who feared the political costs of appearing weak. Armey reversed his position after Cheney told him, he said, that the threat from Iraq was “more imminent than we want to portray to the public at large.”

    Cheney said, according to Armey, that Iraq’s “ability to miniaturize weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear,” had been “substantially refined since the first Gulf War.”

    Cheney linked that threat to Hussein’s alleged ties to Al Qaeda, Armey said, explaining “we now know they have the ability to develop these weapons in a very portable fashion, and they have a delivery system in their relationship with organizations such as Al Qaeda.”

    “Did Dick Cheney … purposely tell me things he knew to be untrue?” Armey said. “I seriously feel that may be the case… . Had I known or believed then what I believe now, I would have publicly opposed [the war] resolution right to the bitter end.”

  19. phosphorious permalink
    February 19, 2009 5:38 pm

    Also, more evidence that the WMD was a genuine lie:

    During the buildup to the Iraqi invasion, North Korea suddenly and loudly declared that it was pursuing WMD. Nukes to be exact.

    If WMD were the issue, why didn’t we invade North Korea?

    Because Bush REALLY, REALLY wanted to invade Iraq.

  20. phosphorious permalink
    February 19, 2009 5:40 pm

    Also:

    When Obama said during the campaign that he would be willing to chase OBL into Pakistan, republicans said that it was reckles to invade Pakistan. . . because they have WMD.

    That wasn’t an issue when Iraq was the subject.

  21. Knuckle Dragger permalink
    February 19, 2009 5:41 pm

    phosphorious,

    So you have no idea what is motivation was, but you know for certain that he lied? How can you know either one?

  22. Knuckle Dragger permalink
    February 19, 2009 5:46 pm

    David,

    Still could have been faulty intelligence. I’ll pose the same question to you: Why did Bush lie?

  23. phosphorious permalink
    February 19, 2009 5:52 pm

    So you have no idea what is motivation was, but you know for certain that he lied? How can you know either one?

    1) I’m not sure what knowing why he lied has anything to do with knowing that he lied. The two questions can be answered seperately.

    2) I am not a kind reader, but behavior is a strong signal. As I say, there is (unrefuted) testimony that Bush was looking for a reason to invade Iraq.

  24. FOF permalink
    February 19, 2009 5:52 pm

    If one is to call oneself a Catholic and discuss/debate right and wrong as it pertains to war, then you must look at the “Just War Theory” which was asserted as an authoritative Catholic Church teaching by the United States Catholic Bishops in their pastoral letter, The Challenge of Peace: God’s Promise and Our Response, issued in 1983. More recently, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, in paragraph 2309, lists four (4) strict conditions for “legitimate defense by military force”:
    * the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain;
    * all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective;
    * there must be serious prospects of success;
    * the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. The power of modern means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition.

    You can quibble over what Presient (D) or (R) knew what when, but when it comes down to it, walking into Iraq was wrong, it doesn’t equate with basic Catholic teachings; and who did that…George W. Bush (R).

    If you want to delve into “Just War Theory” even deeper one can read Cicero, Augustine of Hippo, Thomas Aquinas, and Hugo Grotius.

    As Joseph Cardinal Bernardin stated, “Some people have mistakenly said that the “just war” teaching is intended to find justification for violence or war. Actually it developed for the opposite reason. It developed because the church wanted to restrict violence, to restrict war, but in an imperfect world, there are times when some force must be used, but only under certain conditions, restricted as much as possible.According to the “just war” teaching, there are two principles that must be kept in mind. First of all “the principle of discrimination.” It’s always wrong to attack innocent people. Therefore, you cannot bomb or attack civilian centers of the population. In addition to that, there is another principle that is very important, and it’s called “the principle of proportionality”. It’s true that, under certain circumstances, that according to the “just war” teaching you may resort to force because there’s no other way of correcting the situation. However, what is done must be proportionate to what is accomplished.”

  25. February 19, 2009 6:00 pm

    It is of no consequence what Bush thought. It’s not like there could ANY favorable explanation.

    Some of you think ‘purity’ of motivation counts for something. Nobody starts a war he’d think bad for his country or himself. Hitler wanted to benefit his idea of Aryans. Stalin, Mao et al. murdered millions because they thought it’d be for the greater good. You don’t have to be a sociopath to be a murderer.

    Maybe Bush thought “Well *smirk* I reckon we don’t have all the proof but in my heart my favorite philosopher, Jesus Christ, tells me this war is the right thing to do.”

    Do bear in mind that he believes Jesus to be “Lord.” This means he believes Jesus thinks starting wars can be a great idea – and not just that – Jesus also told him this war was a great idea. Why would he have ANY need for actual proof ? To which degree his gang shared his god-of-war delusion, who knows.

    Lastly, there usually isn’t just one reason for an act.

    After he’d been proven wrong regarding Iraq, he STILL said “No one can now doubt the word of America.”

    He may well be a ‘true believer’, the most dangerous – q.e.d – kind of politician. A ‘true believer’ will stop at nothing. After all, god is on his side.

  26. February 19, 2009 6:05 pm

    FOF

    Good post though I would disagree with your assertion that One can not see the Iraq war through the prism of Just war theory and agree with the intervention. I suppose I am not ready to come too such an infalliable conclusion as you

    Again I see the problem as too many people that try to justify a view of absoulte pacifism and try to justify it throught the just war theory.

    Such a view of pacifism is indeed a legitimate avenue of Catholic thought. But the just war thought is a bad avenue to advance it

    Better to be honest and I advocate what people like Michael Infrate on here advocate than try to use JWT as a vehicle

    Lastly as I have stated before on here I don’t think there is a Religous doctrine of the “fruit of the posionous tree” in Catholic theology or Just war doctrine. The fact the concerns of the second Bishops Statement on Iraq were totally ignored by the anti war contiognent was telling. The fact that the Bishops said there were more leeway and needed discussion on the new moral questions of US involvement in Iraq was very telling to me.

  27. phosphorious permalink
    February 19, 2009 6:06 pm

    One final point:

    You can claim that I don’t know that Bush lied. But given what evidence there is, can the belief that he lied only be explained by “Bush Derangement Syndrome”? It’s literally insane to think he lied?

    Legions of republicans. . . and catholics. . . seem to think so.

  28. February 19, 2009 6:06 pm

    Phosporhous

    We did not invade North Korea

    Because we did not have the troops , the SOuth Koreans our allies would not sign on to it, and oh yes North Korea could have at the very least destoryed the State of Hawaii through a nuclear bomb and their delivery system

  29. Knuckle Dragger permalink
    February 19, 2009 6:13 pm

    phosphorious,

    To me, if there is no good explanation for why he would lie, it is very questionable that he did in fact lie.

    Since we are all just guessing, here is my theory: The U.S., Russia, Germany, and other countries thought that Iraq either had or was working on a nuke. Given the fact that we had just been attacked by a terrorist group, and Saddam’s prior radical behavior, we could not take the chance that the terrorists would end up with that nuke. It would have been irresponsible for the President to just let that slide. Now, it turns out that our intelligence was wrong, but at the time Bush had to act.

    I’m not arguing that this was the right course from a just war theory, I’m just saying that I don’t think he deliberately lied.

  30. February 19, 2009 6:14 pm

    Hell, Joe the Plumber has his own derangement syndrome. The problem is not the naked, murderous emperor but the people pointing out those attributes.

    George Weigel was apparently listening to Limbaugh when John Paul II. shouted “No more war!” It’s bad enough to fall for a lie in the first place, but to be the last idiot defending it, that’s a special degree of pathetic.

  31. February 19, 2009 6:16 pm

    Phosphorious

    I am not sure “Legions” are correct

    But I must say I gave encounter “leg=ons” are so they appear on the net that believe immigration reform was just a ruse by the Bush adminstration to bring in the New World Order and the infamous North Americia Union that would take our rights away and steal our precious bodily fluids I suppose.

    “Derenagement” ion politics among the people and subgroups knows no party or demographic it appears

    It appears that sadly “Legions” of Democrats and Republicans and various nut jobs think Bush lied and he was behind 9/11

    Of course we have seen how “legions” of people taking their history of the JFK murder off the history channel and the horrid movies JFK think the tGovt killed Kennedy

    That was part II of poltical intrigue of a huge belief in parts of this country that the Jesuits killed Lincoln

  32. Knuckle Dragger permalink
    February 19, 2009 6:21 pm

    Gerald,

    So now Bush can be likened to Hitler, Stalin, and Mao. I think you’re way out of line here. Pres. Bush is a good Christian man who did what he thought was best for America, but made some big mistakes. It is very unfair to compare him to these people.

  33. February 19, 2009 6:22 pm

    Since Gerald referenced it, it’s worth quoting John Paul in full:

    Never again war!”. No, never again war, which destroys the lives of innocent people, teaches how to kill, throws into upheaval even the lives of those who do the killing and leaves behind a trail of resentment and hatred, thus making it all the more difficult to find a just solution of the very problems which provoked the war. Just as the time has finally come when in individual States a system of private vendetta and reprisal has given way to the rule of law, so too a similar step forward is now urgently needed in the international community. Furthermore, it must not be forgotten that at the root of war there are usually real and serious grievances: injustices suffered, legitimate aspirations frustrated, poverty, and the exploitation of multitudes of desperate people who see no real possibility of improving their lot by peaceful means.”

    George Weigel is far from the anthropology that underpins this wonderful quotation.

  34. February 19, 2009 6:23 pm

    “Since we are all just guessing, here is my theory: The U.S., Russia, Germany, and other countries thought that Iraq either had or was working on a nuke. Given the fact that we had just been attacked by a terrorist group, and Saddam’s prior radical behavior, we could not take the chance that the terrorists would end up with that nuke. It would have been irresponsible for the President to just let that slide. Now, it turns out that our intelligence was wrong, but at the time Bush had to act.”

    This is still complete lunacy. Bush “had” to act ? Hussein had had WMDs for decades. He didn’t use them in round one nor during the embargo. Anyone with an ounce of common sense knew he’d never attack the USA. He loved power, unlike Bush he wasn’t on a mission from god. Saddamn was a sociopath, Bush on the other hand is a psychopath. Sadly, the latter will not meet the fate of the former.

    I think it’s become abundantly clear that the one country that should be stripped of WMDs is the USA. This whole phony case made against Iraq could be made against the US by a first year law student.

    The USA has
    – been stockpiling WMDs
    – used WMDs on civilians
    – started countless wars

    While Bush and Saddam hung out separately, they certainly would merit hanging together.

  35. February 19, 2009 6:32 pm

    Once more the common mistake here is to not go far enough

    Only an idiot would believe Saddam was minutes away from attacking the USA, but that’s really not the relevant issue – It’s not even a question whether Iraq had WMDs but why it’s wrong for Iraq to have them but a-ok for the USA to have them. Last I checked, the USA dropped two nukes on civilians, something no other country has done.

    The fact that some countries would have waged wars much more brutally than the USA if they had its military power is really not something one’d get a merit badge for. “Well, when we shock and awe someone, we do it carefully !”

  36. Knuckle Dragger permalink
    February 19, 2009 6:35 pm

    “Bush on the other hand is a psychopath”

    Could be an example of Bush Derangement Syndrome.

  37. February 19, 2009 6:41 pm

    Psychosis as a disease not as a generic insult. Clearly, he is delusional. Let’s even say we grant that there is a god who’s chosen to talk to Bush. Now, according to Bush, that person is the Christian god. How would thinking Jesus approves of the Iraq war not be psychotic ?

    Now if this doesn’t fit Bush, nothing does:

    psychosis: a mental state often described as involving a “loss of contact with reality”.

    People experiencing psychosis may report hallucinations or delusional beliefs, and may exhibit personality changes and disorganized thinking. This may be accompanied by unusual or bizarre behavior, as well as difficulty with social interaction and impairment in carrying out the activities of daily living.

  38. February 19, 2009 6:44 pm

    ….of course Bush may simply be a victim or erroneous exegesis. When Jesus said Blessed are the peacemakers, Bush may have thought he was referring to the gun by that name and simply extrapolated from there.

  39. Knuckle Dragger permalink
    February 19, 2009 6:47 pm

    Gerald,

    I thought so.

  40. February 19, 2009 6:47 pm

    Good to see you here, FOF!

  41. phosphorious permalink
    February 19, 2009 6:52 pm

    Phosporhous

    We did not invade North Korea

    Because we did not have the troops , the SOuth Koreans our allies would not sign on to it, and oh yes North Korea could have at the very least destoryed the State of Hawaii through a nuclear bomb and their delivery system

    Exactly. . . when we know for a FACT that there are WMD present, or have REALLY GOOD evidence for their presence, we act VERY differently tha we did with Iraq.

    We went in cavalierly. . . not what you would expect if we REALLY believed there WMD.

  42. phosphorious permalink
    February 19, 2009 6:54 pm

    To me, if there is no good explanation for why he would lie, it is very questionable that he did in fact lie.

    Then here’s one, although it will open me up to a charge of BDS: Bush was very unpopular, and a war would make him popular. A war DID make him popular, it got him re-elected.

    I am not one of those nutjobs who think that Bush planned 9/11.

    But it couldn’t have worked out better for him if he had.

  43. February 19, 2009 7:22 pm

    I honestly have no idea.

    It may be as simple as that, after 9/11, one arab was as good as another, so they attacked the one that was already on their mind.

    Well, you could continue with that line of speculation, or you could be innovative and try reading one of two books: Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq
    or Doug Feith’s War and Decision: Inside the Pentagon at the Dawn of the War on Terrorism
    , both of which I’ve found rather helpful in knowing exactly what key figures inside the Bush Administration were thinking at the time.

  44. phosphorious permalink
    February 19, 2009 8:01 pm

    Well, you could continue with that line of speculation, or you could be innovative and try reading one of two books:

    And these are the last word?

    Feith, in particular, was criticized by George “Slam Dunk” Tenet himself as being biased towards invasion.

    I repeat: it is NOT insane to think that Bush lied in order to drum up support for an invasion. The peddlers of “Bush Derangement Syndrome” would have us believe that it is.

  45. February 19, 2009 8:27 pm

    A combination of lies and delusion. Grandiosity, feeling in a position of bringing peace and good will to men (via shock & awe), greed, plain thirst for power, you name it.

    I don’t think Bush is a cartoon villain, he doesn’t cackle when American soldiers come home dead (He just didn’t want you to see them). He is a vicious power-hungry man who likes those who like him. Goebbels liked his children (well, until he killed them), I am sure he was polite to Aryans. “But he meant well” doesn’t count for anything. He felt he was on a mission and nothing and no one would get in the way of that.

    I bring up Goebbels on purpose, for the propaganda machine of the Bush admin would have made him jealous. To equate patriotism with war support, to equate “supporting our troops” with keeping them dying and killing, you name it. Those were truly, truly sinister days even for a country already predisposed to slaughter, both foreign and domestic.

    Meaning well while being willing to kill and maim hundreds of thousands does not exculpate in any way shape or form. See also: road to hell & good intentions.

    Not to mention that people tend to judge whether intentions were “good” based on the person’s standards. How is the Iraq war justified EVEN if Saddam had been in possession of WMDs ? Many countries are, and the most dangerous, by far, of them is the USA.

  46. February 19, 2009 9:32 pm

    And these are the last word?

    No, but common sense might dictate that if you want to investigate what actually happened within the walls of the Pentagon and the various offices of the Bush administration leading up to the war, you would examine two histories supplemented by documentation and eyewitness accounts by those who were present at the time.

    Or you can speculate.

    Feith, in particular, was criticized by George “Slam Dunk” Tenet himself as being biased towards invasion.

    And you might actually have to read the books in question to determine for yourself the validity of the charge. Imagine that!

  47. February 19, 2009 9:56 pm

    to show just an inkling of humility and admit they were wrong?

    In the interests of fair play & coming clean, MM, is there anything you’d like to admit that you were wrong about? Anything at all? I am honestly not thinking of anything in particular… it’s that you are so often to call out those you disagree with that I wanted to provide you with an opportunity to exercise the same virtues.

    We were wrong about WMDs (as were the French, Germans, UN, etc. etc. etc.). In hindsight, I don’t think we should have gone to war in Iraq. But at the time, for the assumptions you list, I thought it was justified, not because I’m a neocon (I sided with Schindler in his debates with NNW, and I tend more paleo among the cons), but because I thought there was a legitimate, grave threat to thousands & thousands of Americans, one which — thanks to the analysis of several people, including non-con Kenneth Pollack — I thought needed to be addressed militarily before it was too late.

  48. TeutonicTim permalink
    February 19, 2009 10:13 pm

    MM – In case you haven’t noticed, Bush isn’t in office anymore. Obama is. He hasn’t made ANY changes in Iraq, and is only talking of expansion in Afghanistan.

  49. February 20, 2009 3:27 am

    No threat. No way. No how. Unless one was paranoid, of course. Over night, Saddam
    Became an imminent threat, because people could be fooled into it because of 9/11.

    Re: 9/11, it’d be advisable to stop screwing with the whole world and to stop filling the ranks of one’s own enemies.

    As I said, by its own standards, the country that warrants disarmament the most is the USA.

    Of course Obama isn’t completely different. He’s not president of Canada.

  50. digbydolben permalink
    February 20, 2009 6:24 am

    Let’s try objectivity and reasonability, for a change.

    LCB, I think you mean “reasonableness, for a change.”

    It may be as simple as that, after 9/11, one arab was as good as another, so they attacked the one that was already on their mind.
    That’s harsh, but it fits the available evidence as well as anything.

    In fact, this is what I believe; I believe, in other words, that the Bush Administration’s act was one of frustration and racist, xenophobic lashing out at any enemy who could be made tangible, rather than the real CAUSES of the “blowback” that had been created by American foreign policy vis-à-vis the Muslim world for a generation (as Ron Paul, a REAL “conservative” has been trying to tell the the folks who nowadays pass for “conservatives” in America).

    I think the racist, colonialist condescension shown to the Muslims of the world shows itself most in the failure to apply lessons learned from Western nations’ own history to the predicament the modern Muslim Arab peoples find themselves in. Consider this observation by MM:

    Second, they assumed that because of the hatred felt by Iraqis against the brutal regime, the war would play out smoothly, fast and relatively costless. For those who take the just war teachings seriously, the first assumption dealt with the “last resort” criterion while the second pertained the “disproportionate evils”.

    It is recorded that, in the American Civil War, journalists of the Northern States asked poor “rebel” soldiers whose families had nothing to do with the slavocracy of the Antebellum South what they were doing fighting for a class of exploiters whose preference for an economic system based on chattel slavery actually HURT the working white poor of the South. The response of these “crackers” fighting for the Confederacy?

    “Because you’re HERE!

    Why could it not have been assumed, from the beginning, that Iraqis would not struggle to keep the “invader,” the “infidel,” out of their homeland, no matter how evil their indigenous regime was, just as every people have resisted their interloping “liberators” throughout history?

  51. digbydolben permalink
    February 20, 2009 7:38 am

    Above, I meant:

    “Why could it not have been assumed, from the beginning, that Iraqis WOULD struggle…,etc.?”

  52. David Raber permalink
    February 20, 2009 7:49 am

    To me the case of Mr. Weigel is not all that complicated: Mr. Weigel is a rock-ribbed Republican first and foremost who then goes back and reverse-engineers his Catholicism to support that Republicanism–whether the issue be war, economics, or whatever.

  53. anon for now permalink
    February 20, 2009 9:14 am

    Or, Christopher, you could read ALL the books published on the subject (e.g., Packer, Ricks, Chandrasekaran), not just ones you can cherry-pick for quotes to support your “fair and balanced” position of simply taking after the fact justifications (e.g., Feith) at face value. In my own case, through family and friends, I know a former DOD political appointee who essentially staffed the CPA; he’s a decent man, who introduced one of my friends to his future wife among other kind things he’s done for people. Unfortunately, after reading these books and talking with him, it’s pretty clear that millions of Iraqis suffered for his partisanship.

    Re: Weigel, I’ve never been a big fan, but his latest turn (as indicated in other post-election writings) is very troubling. He’s glad to trumpet democracy when things go his way, but when he doesn’t he just denounces it all as irrational. I think Weigel’s narrative from the late Clinton years until now is suggestive and probably on the mark, but otherwise, he’s perilously close to going off the deep end.

    That said, MM, you could help put this in the past by moving on to current events (like the person who is actually in the White House) and letting the Catholic neocons remain in the fever swamps, unless, of course, you want to join them there.

  54. phosphorious permalink
    February 20, 2009 9:36 am

    MM – In case you haven’t noticed, Bush isn’t in office anymore. Obama is.

    That said, MM, you could help put this in the past by moving on to current events (like the person who is actually in the White House). . .

    When Bush was in office it was inappropriate, even vaguely treasonable to criticize the president during wartime.

    Now that he’s out of office, any criticism is just crying over spilt milk.

    I wonder if conservatives realize how much of their motivation is to protect Bush from criticism.

    And I wonder if they think they can learn from past mistakes without actually trying to figure out what those mistakes were. . . or without even admitting that mistakes were made (“given the info at the time. . . “)

  55. c matt permalink
    February 20, 2009 10:58 am

    I don’t recall much of blackout on Bush criticism while he was in office?!!? But yes, he was wrong on Iraq, and I don’t understand why Weigel even bothers to keep defending it.

    Don’t worry, Obama has plenty for which to be criticized.

  56. Liam permalink
    February 20, 2009 12:06 pm

    Lurking inside Weigel is a decent and reasonably informed Catholic commentator and essayist – but it’s heavily burdened with, and distorted by, an attachment to an ideological viewpoint on foreign affairs and economics that is not Catholic as such.

    He needs a time out from punditry on foreign affairs and economics. For at least 2 years, I would venture.

  57. phosphorious permalink
    February 20, 2009 12:09 pm

    Not a blackout. . . it’s just that every legitimate, even mild, criticism of Bush was met with cries of “Bush Derangement Syndrome!” or “Treason!”.

    Obama has plenty to be criticized for, and conservatives ahve wasted no time. The website obamaimpeachemtn.org was up before he had even won the election.

    So don’t worry, there will be plenty of payback for all the mean things that were said about Bush.

  58. David Nickol permalink
    February 20, 2009 12:40 pm

    What is beginning to fascinate me is the scientific research on how people think and how they maintain their own self-image and their biases. Quite often, the conviction or decision comes first (showing up in brain scans), in an emotional part of the brain, followed by manufactured reasons to prop it up coming from the logical, rational part of the brain (the frontal cortex).

    I am sure it would be fascinating to get scans of Weigel’s brain under certain circumstances, but of course we all have the same brain structure and the same general thought processes.

  59. Knuckle Dragger permalink
    February 20, 2009 1:01 pm

    phosphorious,

    Oh no, we can’t have criticism of Our Almighty Leader Barack. The “Fairness Doctrine” will quiet those traitors.

  60. phosphorious permalink
    February 20, 2009 1:27 pm

    Oh no, we can’t have criticism of Our Almighty Leader Barack.

    Be that as it may, I insist, as a matter of logical and temporal correctness, that demands for Obama’s impeachment come after some impeachable offense.

    Bush had very high popularity ratings. . . until he went into Iraq.

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