Richard Cohen writes in today’s Washington Post:
For example, the insistence that Hussein was somehow linked to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 — a leitmotif of Bush administration geopolitical fantasy — tells you much more than whether this or that fact was right. It tells you that to Bush and his people, the facts did not matter.
But of course the Bush administration did not link Hussein to the 9/11 attack. Liberals have run around for almost four years screaming, “Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11!” as if that settled the issue of whether Iraq was a threat, had WMD, and supported terrorists. That may have led some to believe those in favor of invading Iraq were making the opposite argument, that Iraq was behind 9/11, but they were not. But to opponents of the liberation of Iraq, like Cohen, the facts do not matter.
It did not matter that Mohamed Atta, the leader of the Sept. 11 terrorists, never met with Iraqis in Prague, as high-level Bush officials claimed. It did not matter that Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, was finding no evidence of an Iraqi nuclear weapons program. None of that mattered to Vice President Cheney, who warned of a “reconstituted” nuclear weapons program, promoted the nonexistent Prague meeting and went after legitimate critics with a zealousness that Tony Soprano would have admired: “We will not hesitate to discredit you,” Cheney told ElBaradei and Hans Blix, the other important U.N. inspector. ElBaradei recently won the Nobel Peace Prize. Cheney’s gonna have to wait for his.
But the facts are that there is disagreement about whether Atta met with Iraqi agents in Prague, and the consensus view was that Iraq had a nuclear weapons program. From where do President Bush’s opponents get such certainty involving intelligence information? The CIA said so? The CIA also said there were WMD in Iraq.
But Richard Cohen and other opponents of the liberation of Iraq don’t care about facts. They want to engage in cherry-picking of hundreds of administration statements and pieces of intelligence data, when the bottom line is this: there was consensus that Iraq was a threat, that Iraq had WMD, and Iraq was a state sponsor of terrorism. Cohen’s note that ElBaredei received the Nobel prize – so did former PLO terrorist Yasser Arafat – is irrelevant.
What’s more, there’s evidence aplenty that the sloppy thinking, false analogies and bad history that led to the Iraq war remain the cultural style of the White House. The president’s recent speech, for instance, conflates all sorts of terrorist incidents — from Israel to Chechnya — neglecting that they are specific to their regions and have nothing to do with al Qaeda. Every bombing somehow becomes an attack on Western values “because we stand for democracy and peace.” Oh, stop it!
Cohen doesn’t explain why he thinks it’s incorrect to draw parallels between terrorist Islamists in different regions. He seems to just be stamping his foot and proclaiming it’s true, “because I said so!” Deep thinker Cohen doesn’t seem to realize that there can be connections and regional distinctions at the same time. He probably doesn’t think any parallels could be drawn 30 years ago between communists in different countries. Since he offers nothing to back up his assertion, it’s impossible to know what he means.
More Cohen ignoring facts:
Almost three years into the war, the world is not safer, the Middle East is less stable, and Americans and others die for a mission that is not what it once was and cannot be what it now is called: a fight for democracy.
That would be news to the Iraqis, who have now voted twice in democratic national elections, and will hold parliamentary elections in December. Does Cohen not consider all that voting to be democracy?
Again, the fact remains there was a consensus about Iraq – it was a threat, had WMD, and was a state sponsor of terrorism – going back to before George W. Bush was president. All the spinning and disingenuous nitpicking now being perpetrated by the Democrats and their MSM allies will not change that basic fact, it will only undermine the road to victory.