Friday, March 14, 2003
In search of a little name-dropping: New York Times columnist Paul Krugman's latest anti-Bush screed can be found here. It should come as no surprise that in his latest piece, Krugman reveals to us that President Bush is arrogant, a compulsive liar and completely nuts. No surprise there really, but Krugman does dig up a bit of news that I wasn't aware of before.
Over the past few weeks there has been an epidemic of epiphanies. There's a long list of pundits who previously supported Bush's policy on Iraq but have publicly changed their minds. None of them quarrel with the goal; who wouldn't want to see Saddam Hussein overthrown? But they are finally realizing that Mr. Bush is the wrong man to do the job.
A long list, huh? I want names. The only name I could come up with that might fit Krugman's description is Washington Post columnist Mary McGrory. On Feb. 6, McGrory wrote a column entitled "I'm Persuaded" after Secretary of State Colin Powell made a presentation to the U.N. Security Council. A month later, after apparently receiving an avalanche of "How could YOU!?" letters, McGrory wrote an apology piece. But I'm not really sure that McGrory is one of the pundits mentioned, because of the following explanation in her second column:
You have declared yourselves to be shocked, appalled, startled, puzzled and above all disappointed by what you thought was a defection to the hawk side. "I'm Persuaded," said the headline, which went a little beyond the story.
But it was my fault. I did not make it clear enough that while I believed what Colin Powell told me about Saddam Hussein's poison collection, I was not convinced that war was the answer. I guess I took it for granted that you would know what I meant.
A google search of "changed my mind" and "War" "Iraq" turned up a bunch of garbage and this May 28, 2002 entry from Josh Marshall's "Talking Points Memo." Unfortunately, this entry, though dated, doesn't support Krugman's thesis either.
A little more than a month ago I set to work on an article about how attacking Iraq -- once a hobbyhorse of right-wing think tank intellectuals -- had moved to the center of the American foreign policy debate. Clearly, President Bush's election and 9/11 had a lot to do with the change. But neither development completely explained the shift to my satisfaction. So I launched into the project eager to skewer the various propagandists and ideologues who've used all manner of underhanded methods and cheap media ploys to hustle the country into a second war against Saddam Hussein.
But along the way I came to an unexpected and for me troubling conclusion. I decided that the hawks were right. By that I mean that containment isn't working and that what the right-wingers like to call 'regime change' really should be our national policy. And, if necessary, we should do it by overwhelming military force.
Of course, the liberal Marshall goes on to say that the Iraq hawks are "reckless, ignorant about key issues about the Middle East, and -- not that infrequently -- indifferent to the truth. They have been underhanded and they have used cheap media ploys." But, even despite this, he believes that the hawks' argument holds up better than that of the doves.
I thought about checking out some of the liberal bloggers like Atrios and Hesiod, to see if they might fit Krugman's storyline, but I'd be shocked (SHOCKED, I tell you!) if they were ever for war in the first place -- at least during the Bush administration. (Clinton likely could do no wrong in their eyes.)
Krugman also brings up the "North Korea is more of a threat" line and says that Bush is ignoring the problem.
Need I point out that North Korea, not Iraq, is the clear and present danger? Kim Jong Il's nuclear program isn't a rumor or a forgery; it's an incipient bomb assembly line. Yet the administration insists that it's a mere "regional" crisis, and refuses even to talk to Mr. Kim.
Does Krugman propose a solution to the North Korean problem? Nope. Exactly what have we got to talk about with a regime that's broken every nonproliferation agreement, both international and multilateral, that it's ever signed? Yes, please "Mr." Kim, I'd like to meet with you so you can lie to me some more.
Krugman also makes a prediction that the war will start before next Tuesday (the date of his next column -- unless he's taking a vacation). I doubt it. The pieces aren't all in place yet.
However, if I am wrong I will come here and admit it. If Krugman is wrong...