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Godot Has Left the Building
October 16, 2003
By The Plaid Adder

So all right. Now that Kay's report is out and all they can come up with was "he wished he could have been more of a threat to the U.S. than he actually was," can we all finally agree that we are never going to find Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq?

Many of us, of course, never believed they existed in the first place. But one of the things people kept saying, in response to "Why aren't the Democrats hammering the Bush administration about this?" was, "Well, they will get hung out to dry if they go out there and say there are no WMDs, and then suddenly someone turns up a whole cache of them."

I watched this, and I thought, how long are they going to wait before they decide it's safe to say there were no WMDs over there in the first place? How much evidence do they need? Are they just going to sit there waiting by that dead tree until Godot shows up to tell them he's been over there and checked and they've got nothin'?


Well, that's not going to happen. But with the publication of the Kay report, it ought to finally be clear to everyone (hopelessly self-deluded administration officials/booster/donors/propped up puppet governors of Iraq excepted) that this administration's attempts to find Saddam Hussein's Weapons of Mass Destruction are about as convincing as O.J. Simpson's search for the real killer - and just as likely to come up with credible evidence.

So can we use the issue now? Can we make this about more than sixteen words in the State of the Union address? Can our elected representatives finally start saying what the rest of us have known all along? Which is that we are at war in Iraq for one reason, and one reason only: because the Bush administration wanted us to be.

The WMD issue is one of those things that we are constantly being advised to 'get over.' Americans have forgotten; they don't care; it's all about liberating the Iraqi people now. I agree that in a country where Jesse Ventura and Arnold Schwarzenegger are considered gubernatorial material, it is always a risk to ask people to think. But really, we ought to be able to make this simple enough. The Bush administration wanted a war with Iraq. They lied to us to get us into one. Now, they have discovered that it is a lot easier to lie your way into a war than to lie your way out of one. And now, we're all paying for their mistake.

If we're going to make that argument, we cannot be afraid of the word 'lie.' I appreciate the effort MoveOn has made with the "mis-leader" campaign; but the problem with phrasing it that way is that it obscures the question of intent. In fact, the Bush administration has been using the same tactic to try to get themselves off the hook: no, we didn't lie, we were misled by bad intelligence. This line has been taken up and repeated in the New York Times and other mainstream media.

What we have to make people understand is that the Bush administration did not happen across this 'bad intelligence' by chance. They went looking for it. Aggressively and insatiably. They were eating bad intelligence with a spoon, greedily, two-fisted. And when the CIA said, "Well, look, the only bad intelligence we had left was SO bad it had started to stink the place up, so we threw it out," they went around back to the dumpster where it was rotting and got down on their hands and knees to lap that bad intelligence out of a puddle.

Why? Because they needed bad intelligence to get their war started - because there was no legitimate reason to fight it.

This is what people have to understand. This administration was not "misled" into war with Saddam Hussein. They wanted this war. They wanted it so badly they were willing to alienate the entire international community, squander the goodwill that the world felt toward us after 9/11, kill thousands of Iraqis and hundreds of American soldiers, make America an even bigger and more attractive target for international terrorism than it ever had been before, and guarantee that for an indefinite amount of time, we will be sinking so much of our tax revenue into rebuilding Iraq that we will not be able to pay for anything at home. And if they wanted the war badly to risk all of this, of course they wanted it badly enough to lie.

And that is why we have to find a way to use the WMD issue. Because if we 'let it go,' we are letting go of the best and clearest example we have of the deep, deep corruption at the heart of this administration. If we let it go, if we decide we can't make it matter, then we are letting go of the only explanation that can explain why the Iraq war, no matter how well the administration may tell us it's going, is a disaster for this country and the world. We are glossing over the incredible fact that our soldiers are killing and dying in Iraq simply because our government wanted this war - and for no other reason.

This, incidentally, is one of the reasons that I feel a twinge when people compare Iraq to Vietnam. Yes, they are both quagmires. Vietnam was a quagmire that we entered into gradually, as each successive administration made a number of decisions that drew us further and further into the swamp. Iraq is a different story. This is a quagmire that Team Bush jumped into all at once, with both feet, gleefully, because - why? Because they thought there was gold at the bottom of it? Because they thought it would be fun? Who knows; but the fact is that if you go back and look at the months leading up to the war, you see a dialogue between a chorus of voices saying, "Don't go in there, that's a quagmire," and Bush, Wolfowitz et al. yelling, "Quagmire, quagmire, I want my quagmire! I'm going into that quagmire right now and you can't stop me!"

It's not surprising that most Americans don't get this. Because after all, it's tremendously counterintuitive. What kind of lunatic wants a war, if he can avoid it? Especially when he is already committed to a campaign in Afghanistan that was not over when we invaded Iraq, and is certainly not over now? Certainly not the kind of lunatic you'd want running your country.

But we have to take the risk and try to make the argument, because it's something our fellow Americans need to know. The Bush administration started this war because they damn well wanted to. They didn't care what it would cost in either money or lives. And if we let them get away with the lying they did to make this war happen, there is no reason to believe that they will not be able to lie themselves into the next war, and the next, and the next. How many wars does this crowd want to start? How many people will die for the lies they have already told? How many will die for the lies that they are telling now? How many for the lies that they will tell in 2004, in 2005, in 2007?

So. This is it. We do not move on, we do not get over it, we do not accept the idea that Americans cannot be made to care. I have heard a lot lately about how dumb the electorate is; I have ranted at length about that myself. But you know what, one of the things that gets me through the day is my belief that everyone who wants to learn can be taught. The administration's many foreign and domestic failures have generated a national willingness to learn that was not there in the months after 9/11. We cannot just write our fellow-Americans off. It is up to us to work out a way of teaching this lesson. It will be hard and it will be risky but it has got to be done.

We have waited long enough. The WMDs are not going to make a surprise appearance in the fifth act. Godot has left the building. If we want a happy ending - or indeed any ending at all - then we get out there and write it now, while Rove and the rest of the stage managers are huddled in the promptbox frantically revising the script. Now is the time to say it loud.

I'll start.

There were, are, will be no WMDs in Iraq.

Every reason the Bush administration has given us for going to war in Iraq has turned out to be a lie.

That is because the Bush team cannot tell us the real reason: that they invaded Iraq because they wanted to.

The Bush team may eventually come up with more plausible lies about why we are in Iraq but they will never admit the truth and we must stop waiting for them to do that.

This war is their fault, it is their shame, it is their failure, and it is their responsibility.

Unfortunately, the fact that we are in Iraq at all is signal proof of this administration's massive irresponsibility.

Bush will never solve this problem. That is why we must elect someone else who will.

The Plaid Adder's demented ravings have been delighting an equally demented online audience since 1996. More of the same can be found at the Adder's Lair.

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