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Revisionist Victory
June 18, 2003
By Mike Shannon

If this isn't a case of the snowman calling the polar bear white, I don't know what is. For George Bush to accuse people of "revisionist history" while sitting at the apex of an organization that has lifted the remaking of reality to an art form is the very height of hubristic hypocrisy.

That the President of the United States is being forced to repeat the same inane talking point which was first wielded by Colin Powell and Condaleeza Rice shows precisely how desperate the administration is to keep the truth at bay. They know that if they do not keep up a fevered offensive they are in mortal danger of being squeezed by two very unpleasant pincers. The first, regarding the severity and credibility of the threat prior to the invasion of Iraq and the second, whether the United States has bitten off more than we care to chew.

Addressing the latter point first: As this is being written, the United States Central Command has released more information on the latest series of attacks on American soldiers in Iraq. In the past 24 hours 10 American have been wounded by grenade and small arms fire. Although this is the largest single day casualty count to date, from a strictly militarily perspective it is not much of a concern. The Iraqis are completely incapable of defeating the American military on a face to face encounter; every time they make a stand and, either now or during "major combat operations", try to go toe to toe with the American army, they get annihilated. Unfortunately for both parties, they do not appear to be getting the message that their cause is futile.

Donald Rumsfeld - a man you don't hear as much from now that things have gotten a little more "untidy" than he expected - gave an interview on his swing through Europe this past week which if it was meant to put a best case view on the current situation it certainly fell short. Mr Rumsfeld, in that incredibly annoying way of his, both asked the question and answered it. "Will the situation on the ground in Iraq improve in the next one, two or three months? Probably not. Will it improve with the addition of one, two, three divisions? Not necessarily." Perhaps the Secretary was suffering from a rather advanced case of jet lag when he made those comments, but we gladly accept such moments of candor regardless of the motivation.

In spite of his dire assessment, the main message from the administration remains; not to worry. We are constantly being reassured that the men who are continuing to take up arms against the US are relegated to Baathist loyalists, criminal elements and maybe even some rogue foreign fighters. While this all may be true, it belies the underlying dynamic. Every day that United States is forced to exert its will at the point of a gun the resentment of the Iraqi people will grow. If one half of one percent of the Iraqi population decides to actively resist the American occupation, that will mean our troops will be faced with an enemy totaling approximately 125,000 people. If that many people come to believe that "those who fear not the death of a thousand cuts will dare to unhorse the emperor," we have a problem.

As for the primary point under discussion these days, the evidence is piling up on a daily basis that the Bush administration, at best, grotesquely exaggerated the threat posed by the Iraqi regime. At the root of their strategy, they have chosen to counterattack their critics by dismissing the claim that Saddam never had WMD as preposterous. In a legalistic parsing of the claim they are technically correct. And they know it.

Jay Leno told a joke in the weeks leading up to Iraq II which makes that point very nicely, "Of course we know Saddam has weapons of mass destruction. We have the receipts."

The following lengthy quote from an article by Robert Novak, published on September 26, 2002 on the CNN website, is not nearly as witty but makes the very same point. The setting is Mr Rumsfeld testifying before a Senate sub-committee concerning Iraqi chemical and biological weapons and boldly denying any knowledge of American participation in supplying said toxins:

That suggests Rumsfeld also has not read the sole surviving copy of a May 25, 1994, Senate Banking Committee report. In 1985 (five years after the Iraq-Iran war started) and succeeding years, said the report, "pathogenic (meaning 'disease producing'), toxigenic (meaning 'poisonous') and other biological research materials were exported to Iraq, pursuant to application and licensing by the U.S. Department of Commerce." It added:

"These exported biological materials were not attenuated or weakened and were capable of reproduction."

The report then details 70 shipments (including anthrax bacillus) from the United States to Iraqi government agencies over three years, concluding, "It was later learned that these microorganisms exported by the United States were identical to those the United Nations inspectors found and recovered from the Iraqi biological warfare program."

If this report - by a Cabinet level agency of the United States Government - is this damning, one can only imagine what was contained in the 4,000 pages of the Iraqi arms disclosure which were edited out before even Congress got to see them.

Every time another such document reaches the light of day, every time another disgruntled insider takes a stand, and most importantly, every time another American soldier takes a bullet, the truth is going to be harder and harder to ignore.

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