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Thesis & Antithesis

A critical perspective on energy, international politics & current affairs

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Location: Washington, D.C.

greekdefaultwatch@gmail.com Natural gas consultant by day, blogger on the Greek economy by night. Trained as an economist and political scientist. I believe in common sense and in data, and my aim is to offer insight written in language that is clear and convincing.

02 November 2005

The elusive debate on WMD

The New York Times editorial page asks this question about the Bush Administration’s case for invading Iraq: “If the intelligence was so bad and so moldy, why was it presented to the world as what Mr. Tenet, then the director of central intelligence, famously called "a slam-dunk" case? Were officials fooled by bad intelligence, or knowingly hyping it? Certainly, the administration erased caveats, dissents and doubts from the intelligence reports before showing them to the public. And there was never credible intelligence about a working relationship between Iraq and Al Qaeda” (1).

Maybe this is a debate to have one day. It is certainly less useful in conducting the war than it would be in reflecting on it in the future. But I have one more sobering thought: that foreign policy debates are so devoid of nuance. When we ask the question, why did the administration take out caveats and dissent, we should be asking another question as well: how would the public digest that? Can the public absorb a sustained discussion about meticulous evidence?

I remember when Saddam Hussein made his disclosure under Resolution 1441 the media showed images of a table-full of documents and CDs. Could we have had a discussion based on nuance, based on competing hypotheses? This is another question to ponder, one that is just as serious as the intentions of an administration.

References:
(1) “Remember that mushroom cloud?” New York Times, 2 Nov 05 (link)

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