Either I can not

October 29, 2003


Either I can not read, or a lot of other people can not read. I am not sure which scares me more.

Greg Easterbrook has tried once again to be controversial. This time he has tried to frame the American intervention in Iraq in such a way as to force the Bush 43 administration to either change their actions or change their rhetoric. It is a false premise - the misplaced rhetoric about the presence of WMD and an active WMD program was important but not everything during the run-up to war. Or, to be more precise, the causus belli was Saddam Hussein's refusal to comply with the monitoring process. Evidence of WMD was presented to suggest that Hussein was hiding something when he refused to cooperate. Easterbrook, like many anti-war commentators, has merged the extra evidence with the causis belli. By doing so he loses the opportunity to make more valuable criticisms of the Bush adminstration's earlier decision to force a confrontation over WMD. Invading Iraq was probably a good thing to do, but was it the best way to advance the war on terror?

Back on topic (it is tired and I am late), Easterbrook argues that if the invasion was really about WMD, and we have not found any WMD, then we should leave. If the invasion was not really about WMD we can stay, but the Bush administration has to come clean about its "real" reasons for starting the war. He is attempting to use the threat of withdrawal as a bludgeon to force the Bush administration to confess to its ulterior motives. It is a clumsy bit of rhetoric.

Even clumsier are the editorial decisions made by Glenn Reynolds, Eugene Volokh and some other pretty smart guys who read Easterbook as calling for an immediate and unconditional withdrawal from Iraq. They then condemn that option.

Rhetorically, they are calling Easterbook's bluff. As they do so, they are missing the point he was trying to make. As I read Easterbrook, he was assuming that withdrawal was not an option, and thus that the only logical response if you did not want to withdraw is to 'fess up. It was a re-iteration of the "Bush lies" theme. By simply saying that withdrawal is a bad idea, Reynolds, Volokh and the cast of thousands are ignoring Easterbrook's real point. That might be good stump tactics, but it is a heck of a bad way to engage the issues.

Between this and the whole Kill Bill goof, I wonder if Easterbrook might want to get copy editing from the folks who do the Dick and Jane readers for kids. His ideas are better than his ability to express them, and now that he has stumbled a couple of times he has sharks circling every time he goes to post.

Ted K.

Posted by Red Ted at October 29, 2003 12:24 PM | TrackBack