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The Flag of the World

-G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

This here blog is a glimpse or two or three at the condition of the 'fortress of our family' through the eyes Timothy Goddard, a Christian writer with an unhealthy interest in politics living in the Puget Sound area.

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Saturday, February 08, 2003


All smoking guns are equal, but some are more equal than others
Robert Wright at Slate argues that, while he was certainly convinced by Powell's evidence, the people who count weren't. And who are those people who count? Angry young muslim men:
Various terrorist groups—and not just al-Qaida—will try to use the war to boost recruiting, and I'd like to make their job as hard as possible.

I don't know if I believe him. If he really wants to make terrorists' jobs harder, then lets take away their top haven, benefactor, and potential supplier of WMDs.
In parts of the Muslim world, needless to say, the United States faces credibility problems. So, an American official isn't as convincing as a U.N. official. And, for that matter, a photograph in New York that in theory could have been doctored by anyone with a computer isn't as convincing as tons of chemical weapons sitting in Iraq, being videotaped by the world's press corps while Iraqi officials stammer that the existence of this particular stockpile had slipped their mind.

First off, I seriously doubt that a UN official is going to be all that much more convincing than an American official. I don't think the Muslim world looks up to the UN as some sort of awe-inspiring infallible organization, like too many in the West tend to do. Secondly, in case you missed this rather important point, Mr. Wright, the main evidence shown by Powell was how inspections aren't working Is there any reason to think that they will suddenly start? That the 300 inspectors will somehow be able to stumble across Saddams's weapon cache, hidden somewhere in the vastness of the Iraqi desert? Don't be absurd. It's a nice picture, but 'taint going to happen. There would be some sort of diversion, some sort of slowdown before even one member of the "world press corps" came within 30 miles of any of Saddam's caches. And then, mysteriously, they would be gone again. If there were even a chance that inspections would work, then you might be right. But there isn't, and you're not.
He goes on, blah blah-ing away about how a war will increase terrorist recruitment (which won't mean much if the recruiters are dead), and how we can get our work done through the UN (again, the esteemable UN--what was the last thing the UN actually got done? Let alone something of this magnitude.)
And then he says this:
It's depressing that, so far as I can tell, none of the many pro-war op-eds written since the Powell speech have acknowledged, even in passing, this simple point: that there are various kinds of "smoking guns"—the kind that convince Americans and America's friends and the kind that convince the various other constituencies on the planet. If there's a single lesson we should have learned from Sept. 11, it's that, like it or not, the court of world opinion matters to America as never before.

If you think that's the most important lesson we should have learned from September 11, perhaps you watched a different tragedy than I did. September 11 had nothing to do with "the court of world opinion," and everything to do with the opinions of a group of people who now happen to be scattered and/or dead. And the fact is, if you weren't convinced by Powell's evidence, you either a) are so distrustful of the US government that it wouldn't matter what he put out there, or b) are so intent on not going to war that it wouldn't matter what he put out there. Either way, you're not reasoning clearly. This is something Mr. Wright seems unable to grasp.
After the Powell presentation, the hawkish Washington Post editorial page said, "it is hard to imagine how anyone could doubt that Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction." Talk about a failure of imagination.

I think he missed the implied "anyone being even remotely reasonable" part of that sentence.
But, of course, Wright would contest that it doesn't matter what we think is reasonable, it matters what they think is reasonable. Which is, of course, impossible to meet. This would be fine if it were, as Wright insists, possible to do this through the UN, but it is not. And that, of course, is the main disagreement that he and I (and the rest of the hawks) have, not anything about how smoking is a smoking gun, or anything he wrote in that article.
Agree, disagree, have more information on the topic? Please, feel free to leave a comment. No profanity!

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