Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Implied preemption?
Andrew Sullivan and his band of merry neocon warriors are now arguing that since Bush never said Iraq was an imminent threat, the Kay report actually vindicates the administration. Let me get this straight -- a war that was openly and repeatedly called "preemptive" by the president and other senior officials was not sold as preemptive? Bull-shit.

Sullivan, who gets more unreadable by the day, quotes Richard Perle talking about Israeli's 1981 strike on Iraq's nuclear reactor as a preemptive strike against a threat that wasn't imminent. The reason it wasn't imminent? Here's Perle:

In 1981, the Israelis, after a long and, I gather, a heated cabinet debate, decided to destroy the reactor that Chirac had sent to Osirak, not because it was about to produce nuclear weapons. It wasn't. It was about to produce plutonium and it was under IAEA safeguards so the Iraqis would have had to siphon off small, undetectable quantities of plutonium and it would have taken them time to build a nuclear weapon based on what they would get from the Osirak reactor. But, nevertheless, the Israelis decided to strike some years in advance of the production of the nuclear weapon that they were concerned about.

This, friends and neighbors, is not a preemptive, but rather a preventive strike. The word "preemption" does not merely imply an imminent threat, it's included in the definition! It's like saying that "pro-choice" merely implies being in favor of abortion.

The issue here is quite simple. Whether or not George W. Bush actually used the words "imminent threat" with regard to Iraq is immaterial. The administration sold the war as preemptive (when if fact it was very much a preventive war). This rhetorical distinction was not merely an accident -- it was deliberate. Since the Bushies knew they couldn't sell a preventive war to the public, they packaged it as a preemptive war and created the unmistakable impression that Iraq posed an imminent threat the safety of every American. The neocons can't get out of this one by redefining the word "preemptive" and then throwing the ball back to the antiwar crowd. That's called dirty pool, and we've already seen too much of it from this administration and its apologists.


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