Sunday, April 29, 2007

I think it’s a complete misreading of how, certainly, I read the slam dunk comment


Condi hit a bunch of talk shows this morning: CNN, ABC, and CBS. I’ll mix & match quotes.

On the decision to invade Iraq:

BLITZER: But did it represent an imminent threat, the fact that he was violating the oil-for-food?

RICE: The question with imminence is, are you in a situation whether you’re better to act now, or are you going to be in a worse situation later? That’s the question that you have to ask in policy.

(And along the same lines on ABC: “George, the question of imminence isn’t whether or not somebody is going to strike tomorrow.”)

Obviously, that is not “the question with imminence.” Arguably, she is just repeating the outline of the old “smoking gun in the form of a mushroom cloud” line with the WMD content removed, humming it instead of singing it, if you will.

We’re talking about this again, of course, because of George Tenet’s book. She generously forgave him for the “slam dunk” wording: “I certainly don’t blame George for the slam dunk comment having the sense that that was the reason we went to war. I think it’s a complete misreading of how, certainly, I read the slam dunk comment.” Indeed, “To the degree that there was an intelligence problem here... It was an intelligence problem worldwide. We all thought -- including U.N. inspectors -- that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. So there’s no blame here of anyone.” Everyone’s to blame so no one’s to blame. Isn’t that conveeeeenient? Especially since one of the people she is absolving of blame is the national security adviser at the time, who was herself.

I’m not sure what to make of this, but she refers to Clinton’s bombing of Iraq in “Operation Desert Fox” thus: “we had gone to war against him in 1998 to try to deal with his weapons of mass destruction.”

On benchmarks in the Iraq spending bill: “But the problem is, why tie our own hands in using the means that we have to help get the right outcomes in Iraq? And that’s the problem with having so-called consequences for missing the benchmarks.” That “so-called” literally makes no sense: they’re not so-called consequences, they’re actual consequences. She just doesn’t think consequences for failure are a good idea (and if you had her record, neither would you). Indeed, the threat of withdrawal would be “to tie our own hands, [which] doesn’t allow us the flexibility and the creativity that we need to move this forward.” But enough about your sex life, Condi.

What? You weren’t thinking the same thing?


Speaking of flexibility and creativity, the two attributes the Bush administration is best known for, here is how Condi says the Iraqis will be punished if they fail to complete the oil-revenue-sharing law: “If they don’t, then they’re not going to be making the kind of progress on national reconciliation that gives the Iraqis a view of a future together.” Way to light a fire under their asses, Condi!

But, again, enough about Condi’s sex life.


Not that this refusal of timetables means our patience is unlimited, oh no, it just can’t be measured in time, or something. “We are telling them all of the time that their national reconciliation is moving too slowly, needs to move more quickly.” She’d make a great marriage counselor, wouldn’t she? But actually what I think you can see in that sentence is that the Bushies are coming to define reconciliation in Iraq not as actual, you know, reconciliation, but as the passage of a few legislative measures: oil revenues, local elections, un-de-Baathification. If and when those measures go through, the Bushies plan to declare reconciliation complete.

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