Posted on May 27, 2015
“What We Know Now”
Iraq revisionism is not knowledge
“Knowing what we know now, would you have authorized the invasion?” That was the question that Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly put to Jeb Bush about Iraq. The Florida governor’s answer, and his subsequent attempts at clarification, have since been roundly criticized. Little has been said, however, about the awfulness of Kelly’s question.
Bush should have challenged Kelly’s premise, by asking her what it is “we know now” that should produce a different answer than he would have given in 2003. When critics of the Iraq War refer to “what we know now,” they’re really only talking about the prevailing narrative, which contains no actual knowledge whatsoever.
“We know now” that there were no weapons of mass destruction, but in order to learn that, we’ve had to disregard all the genuine knowledge that exists on the subject. From the very beginning, every chemical weapons find in Iraq was met with a declaration by Hans Blix, or some equally unserious person, that it was “not a smoking gun.” This did not mean that the weapons didn’t exist; it only meant that a determination had been made to dismiss them. Large quantities of deadly chemicals and other WMD components have likewise been dismissed, along with an extensive paper trail of evidence, and dual-use equipment being kept under circumstances that precluded any innocent purpose.
We’ve even got one of Saddam Hussein’s secret recordings in which his son-in-law, who was in charge of his chemical weapons program, boasts about how thoroughly they had deceived the inspectors. Not that we needed it, because Saddam’s treatment of the inspectors was itself damning enough to justify the invasion. Iraqi officials physically impeded them at every turn, and repeatedly tried to bribe them. Whereas a rational person would have accepted that as proof of an active WMD program, “what we know now” is that there was none.
“We know now” that Saddam had no terrorist ties, even though a 2006 Senate Intelligence Committee report concluded that he’d given massive amounts of aid to Islamic terrorists, including precursors to and affiliates of al-Qaeda. Saddam’s paramilitary irregulars, known as the Fedayeen, acted as a conduit between the Iraqi military and foreign jihadists, and Saddam himself admitted that his intelligence service held direct talks with al-Qaeda.
Another thing “we know now” that goes largely unspoken but is constantly implied is that Saddam posed no threat, therefore we could have left him in power without any significant consequence. If Jeb and the other Jellyphants from the GOP had the fortitude to resist this campaign of media-driven ignorance, they’d point out that what interviewers like Kelly are really asking is whether we should have tolerated the following circumstances:
* Iraq would remain the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, with the possible exception of Iran. Not only would Saddam still be surreptitiously funding al-Qaeda, but he’d also still be paying Palestinian families to turn their children into suicide bombers.
* Saddam would continue to operate multiple training camps for foreign jihadists, one of them basically being a hijacking school. He would retain the ability to deploy his terrorist trainees to coordinate “martyrdom operations” in the Middle East and in Europe, as in the case of his apparently unrealized “Blessed July” project.
* Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s terror group, whose creation was directly financed by Osama bin Laden, would have continued operating in Northern Iraq until achieving its goal of toppling the government of Jordan.
* The mobile chemical labs that “we know now” didn’t exist would still be functioning, just as they did throughout the 90s, according to the Duelfer Report. The poisons manufactured there could still be passed on to al-Qaeda for an attack against the USA or England, much like Saddam had mused about in another of his secret recordings.
* Those 500 tons of uranium our soldiers whisked out of the country would still be there. Saddam’s secret recordings, including one of a 2000 meeting he had with two scientists about a new method of uranium enrichment, would never have been discovered. Not only would those efforts have continued to this day, but they would now be driven into high gear by the nuclear arms race that would exist between Iraq and Iran.
* Libya would not have given up its nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs as it did in December 2003, when Moammar Khadafy admitted to CNN that the invasion of Iraq had forced his hand.
* Our good friends the Kurds, who serve as an example of what the rest of the Middle East should strive to become, would have continued to be pulverized under Saddam’s iron fist for another 12 years and counting.
* Saddam would have concluded by now that there is no price to be paid for trying to kill an American ex-president. His assassination squads would thus be encouraged to seek out other high-value American targets.
* Not only would Saddam still be alive, but so would his sadistic sons Uday and Qusay, who would carry on his atrocious legacy for the foreseeable future.
Remembering these and other factors, it’s plain to see that the Iraq War is totally vindicated. It’s only after we’ve expunged from our memories all that we knew about Saddam in 2003, and all that we’ve learned about him since, that we arrive at the point of “what we know now.”
Revisionists will glibly concede that Saddam was “a bad guy,” but as political figures go, they seem to perceive him as somewhat less menacing than Trent Lott. They must imagine that Iraq, minus American intervention, would have been the placid land of kites that was depicted in Michael Moore’s movie. The Iraqi dictator’s terrorist ties and WMDs have been made to disappear, simply by uttering the magic words “no smoking gun.” The vacuum that remains is what suffices for “what we know now.”
If it’s true that what somebody doesn’t know can’t hurt him, then the “we” that Kelly talks about have surely rendered themselves invincible.
The Shinbone: The Frontier of the Free Press