The whole front-page controversy is, in my opinion, not only diversionary but a real tribute to the success of indoctrination. There is a simple point that seems obvious to Iraqis, but is unmentionable here in the mainstream: the conquest of Iraq, if successful, is a tremendous achievement for US power.
As pretext after pretext for the war has collapsed, commentators have had to scurry to take the next one seriously. The latest, after the collapse of all others, is that the US goal was to establish democracy in Iraq, indeed the whole Middle East. The assumption is taken for granted in news reporting, and accepted even by the harshest critics, who laud the noble vision but think it is beyond our means, etc. Only Iraqis seem to reject it; in recent polls, 1% of people in Baghdad think the US invaded to defend democracy, 5% to help Iraqis, while most of the rest assume that the goal was to take control of Iraq’s resources and to reorganize the region for US power interests — an option that is virtually inexpressible here, though it sounds pretty simple and obvious.
Surely Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, etc., understand the significance of obtaining the first secure military base in a dependable client state at the heart of the world’s main energy reserves, a tremendous lever of world control. By any rational calculation, within their framework, that vastly outweighs the possibility that thousands of Americans might be killed by terror — a prospect that has clearly been understood since 1993. We know perfectly well from other evidence that their priorities are ranked this way: the invasion of Iraq, for example, was expected to increase the threat of terror, and did. Therefore, it is only natural that they should have downgraded terror in favor of invading Iraq, from the start, and that Wolfowitz and the rest should have hounded the CIA to provide them with some shred of evidence — WMD, connections with terror, whatever — to use as a pretext for the real goal. The revelations of Clarke, the memos, etc., tell us virtually nothing that was not clear enough before. The hullabaloo about them derives primarily from our inability to say, even to think, what seems obvious to Iraqis — for good reason.
Seems to me worth thinking about all of this rather carefully.