Monday, June 02, 2003

This means war

Paul Krugman is through pussy-footing around. He's been trying for three years to point out the obvious fact to both the public and his colleagues in the journalistic profession that the Bushies are nothing but liars through and through. He first did it by trying to talk sense and coaching his words in euphemisms. But they just wouldn't listen. Well, it looks like he is through pulling his punches. He has declared war on the Bush administration, its sycophants in the media and the Democrats who provide the Republicans cover by their feckless performance as the opposition party. It is a beautiful thing to behold.
It's long past time for this administration to be held accountable. Over the last two years we've become accustomed to the pattern. Each time the administration comes up with another whopper, partisan supporters — a group that includes a large segment of the news media — obediently insist that black is white and up is down. Meanwhile the "liberal" media report only that some people say that black is black and up is up. And some Democratic politicians offer the administration invaluable cover by making excuses and playing down the extent of the lies. If this same lack of accountability extends to matters of war and peace, we're in very deep trouble. The British seem to understand this: Max Hastings, the veteran war correspondent — who supported Britain's participation in the war — writes that "the prime minister committed British troops and sacrificed British lives on the basis of a deceit, and it stinks." It's no answer to say that Saddam was a murderous tyrant. I could point out that many of the neoconservatives who fomented this war were nonchalant, or worse, about mass murders by Central American death squads in the 1980's. But the important point is that this isn't about Saddam: it's about us. The public was told that Saddam posed an imminent threat. If that claim was fraudulent, the selling of the war is arguably the worst scandal in American political history — worse than Watergate, worse than Iran-contra. Indeed, the idea that we were deceived into war makes many commentators so uncomfortable that they refuse to admit the possibility. But here's the thought that should make those commentators really uncomfortable. Suppose that this administration did con us into war. And suppose that it is not held accountable for its deceptions, so Mr. Bush can fight what Mr. Hastings calls a "khaki election" next year. In that case, our political system has become utterly, and perhaps irrevocably, corrupted.
I think Mr. Krugman has put his finger on it when he suggests that the idea that we were deliberately deceived into this war is so disturbing to some commentators that they would just rather not consider the possibility. That rather continue to believe in some kindergarten myth about how American leaders are somehow incapable of that kind of gross deception. Oh sure, tinpot dictators in the third world may gin up these kinds of schemes. But not Americans! No, our leaders would NEVER do that! Would they Mr. Broder?

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