Thursday, July 01, 2004

Useful Idiots 

Bob Somerby points us to Richard Cohen's latest contribution to the Liberal Hall of Stupidity, following hard on the heels of Nick Kristof's offering from yesterday. I'm not going to quote either, for fear of causing Blogger to crash with a NULL pointer exception. Suffice it to say that Cohen finds Moore's movie to say nothing new, while simultaneously being full of conspiracy theories, an interesting feat in its own right. Said conspiacies include suggesting that the Administration's stated motives for going to war in Afghanistan and Iraq are at variance with the truth.

Really? Moore implies that the Bush people only attacked the Taliban reluctantly, letting Osama get away in a rush to carry the war to Iraq. How crazy is that?

Relying on little more than the unchallenged testimony of Richard Clarke and the public record, a brief timeline of Bush Administration policy goes something like this: Upon assuming office, the Bush people immediately set about figuring out how to overthrow Saddam Hussein by force; they were unable to make the case publicly at first; 9/11 provided a longed-for pretext. In fact, Rumsfeld and others didn't want to attack Afghanistan at all in the wake of 9/11, preferring Iraq, despite a lack of evidence, because it was "target rich." The ulimate rationale for war, WMDs, was settled upon not because it was proven, but because it was the one that made the easiest sell to the public. Diplomatic overtures were nothing but a pro forma sham. Once Saddam was overthrown, the Administration made no immediate search for WMDs and protected only one Iraq ministry, the oil ministry, while the rest of its public infrastructure was looted. Since then, contracts have gone almost exclusively to Bush cronies and contributors.

Ironically, few if any of these details are in Fahrenheit 9/11, even though they support its account. Apparently for Cohen it's not enough to partially document Bush's lies and evasions about his reasons for going to war, you have to arrive at the approved actual motivations. Basically his outrage takes this form:

Moore: "Bush lied! He took us to war over oil!"
Cohen: "He lied, but you can't say why, since they refuse to tell the truth. You are bad person for arriving at this unwarranted conclusion!"

This sudden scrupulosity is especially rich coming from a "liberal" columnist who credulously repeated endless lies about Clinton and Gore for 8 solid years. Any time Cohen wants to grow a spine and give us the Rosetta stone that decodes the Administration lies of the last 3 1/2 years, he is welcome to do so. But until then, he can go Cheney himself.

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