Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Thomas Sowell on the intelligence issue

Tom Sowell, always a good read, writes in today's Town Hall about the apparent intelligence failures that are now being used to try and make the point that the Iraq war was a mistake.

He makes an extremely cogent point as to why this is extremely important:

Having a President of the United States lie us into a war is not only a disaster when it happens, it is a lasting catastrophe for future presidents and for the country, because a president's credibility is a whole nation's credibility in the world. We have still not recovered from President Lyndon Johnson's lying us into the Vietnam war.

I think those of us in favor of the war make a mistake by underestimating the fact that we haven't found the WMD. I never thought the WMD was the reason to go to war, but by the same token, it was the reported presence of WMD that was used to silence critics (for whom the fact that Saddam Hussein tortured his own people was somehow not a valid reason to remove him from power). And I think, unfortunately, that the public emphasis on the WMD has come back to bite Bush on the butt (alliterative though that clause might be).

I also think an examination of the intelligence capacities of the US is overdue. But as Sowell notes:
[M]any, if not most, of those in Congress who are now complaining loudly about intelligence failures are people who voted repeatedly to cut the budgets of the intelligence agencies and to restrict their operations. Senator John Kerry is just one of those who crippled these agencies and now complain that they were not effective enough.

Intelligence is a dirty business. War is a dirty business. And both are necessary so that good people can go on and live their lives.

Sowell's final point?

Among the things that we know now is that you get cooperation in the Middle East after you have demonstrated your willingness to use force. Would Libya have revealed and dismantled its weapons of mass destruction if the Qaddafi regime had not seen what happened in Iraq? Would Syria and Iran have taken a more conciliatory attitude if they had not seen what happened in Iraq?

Negotiations are not a substitute for force. When international negotiations work, often it is because aggressors know what is going to happen if it doesn't work.


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