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July 21, 2004
Sense From The NYT's Op-Ed Section

Now that the "Bush Lied!" meme has been thoroughly debunked and its proponents running for the hills, Stephen Sestanovich, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, injects a little reality into the debate about going to war with Iraq. He uses an experience from his State Department days to show the imperfection of intelligence and how to use it strategically:

When policymakers have imperfect information about a serious problem (which is almost always), what should they do? The answer, then as now, is to shift the burden of proof to the other guy. If we had been denied that meeting with Mr. Yeltsin, it would hardly have proved that he was dead. But we would have canceled the trip all the same. Russian uncooperativeness - not our poor intelligence - would have left us no choice.

Going to war and canceling a trip are vastly different matters, but what the Bush administration did with Saddam Hussein in the run-up to war followed the same rule: it challenged him to prove that American intelligence was wrong, so that the responsibility for war was his, not ours. ...

Some may object that this approach treated Saddam Hussein as guilty until proved innocent. They're right. But the Bush administration did not invent this logic. When Saddam Hussein forced out United Nations inspectors in 1998, President Clinton responded with days of bombings - not because he knew what weapons Iraq had, but because Iraq's actions kept us from finding out.

Read the whole thing. It reminds readers why we could not afford to let Saddam fester in the region, and why waiting risked our credibility not only regionally, but globally.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at July 21, 2004 6:56 AM

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