Saddam’s Army Falls. Mission Accomplished?

So Saddam’s military is defeated, more-or-less, and in a cakewalk the very idea of which everyone was ridiculing last week.

So now the hawks are on parade to insist that the critics of the war have been proven wrong by the fact of the military victory. Which is pretty much an admission of guilt to the charge of adhering to the Might Makes Right principle.

I guess if your criticism of the war was based on the theory that Saddam’s military was a massive threat to the U.S. that we had reason to fear would deal us a crushing blow, then you’ve been proven wrong and ought to work on your meek look.

But if memory serves, that wasn’t the argument of the doves but the argument of the hawks. Wasn’t the reason we got into this war in the first place that Saddam had horrible weapons of mass destruction that he wouldn’t hesitate to use on the U.S. at the drop of a hat? Now it turns out that he didn’t even have anything impressive enough to use to help his regime hold out for a month against invaders determined to topple him.

Faced with a determined, capable enemy that had declared that it would grant him no quarter, and that had marched through most of the country, brushing opposition aside, Saddam Hussein, who had shown no scruples in the past over using chemical weapons in his own country, launched nothing biological, chemical, or nuclear.

This is pretty compelling evidence for the suggestion that maybe he really never had any to launch, and puts a pretty heavy burden of proof on Bush & co.

That said, it’s nice to know that Saddam is gone. WMDs or no WMDs. It looks like we’re only beginning to hear about the horror that was the Ba’athist regime. The chief news executive at CNN published an op-ed in the New York Times about how he’d been unwilling to report the truth he knew about the tortures and atrocities in Iraq, both because he knew the regime would track down and torture his sources (and his staff in Baghdad) and because he wanted the regime to continue to give CNN access to the country.

CNN is catching a lot of hell over this. It’s a tough call — do you allow your journalism to be censored by government threats in order to maintain your status as a witness to its crimes? Do you protect your sources if that means also protecting their persecutors? I wonder how much of this is still going on — plenty, I suppose. Journalists often offer soft-pedaling in return for access. This is the first I’ve seen it happen on the scale of an entire news network and an entire country.


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