Thursday, March 18, 2004

One of my leftist friends (she's an artist) in Boston just sent me this:

> OK. I'm sending this out far and wide, knowing it will annoy some, and interest many. I wanna do something about this, and I think it's time to figure out what. Another exhibition? Performances at the DNC this summer convenient for many of us here in Boston? Ideas?
>
> Am working on idea for a new show-- will send that and more substantial update before April Fools.
>
> As for the video, This is too good and it's true. Pass it on.
>
> Peace,
>
> http://www.moveon.org/censure/caughtonvideo/

Here's what I wrote:

Maybe I should be emailing MoveOn.org, instead of you, but honestly, this is kind of weak. The first citation from Rummy is an expression of uncertainty, which was pretty accurate for the time it was uttered - there was a perceived threat. Some dismissed it out of hand, and others like Rummy thought there was enough to consider it within the realm of possiblity - 5-7 years down the road.

The second quotation is potentionally more troublesome, but there it's a comparative claim. Of nations on the Earth, he claimed Iraq was a more imminant threat than any other; not that it was an imminent threat simpliciter. Indeed, in the run-up before the war, Bush actually specifically said that the threat from Iraq was not imminent, and that we should go to war with them before the threat became imminent. (If you'd like, I could track that quotation down). I think the logic was basically - hit them now, pre-emptively, while it's still a cakewalk, instead of waiting 5-10 years when Iraq turns into an intractable Middle Eastern North Korea.

That said, Rummy was a little off - I'd consider North Korea more dangerous, but then, he probably could have argued that the Koreans could be contained, and that they hadn't engaged in violence since 1953. They had more potential for trouble, but they were more predictable than Iraq. I don't think I would've agreed, but there was certainly a lot of ground for that kind of argument.

So I think MoveOn needs a little sense of proportion. Using those quotations to justify "censuring", much less "impeachment," is totally myopic. Worse of all, it undermines the impact of more level-headed analyses that would argue that, on balance, the war wasn't such a hot idea. (And this is probably an issue of taste, but I was mildly offended that they ended the clip right before Rummy had a chance to explain himself. I would've liked to have seen what he said.) I mean, I have ideological issues about the role of gov't, and whether it should play Superman whenever a tin-pot dictator arises somewhere, but I have to give the people behind this war credit - I expected a bloodbath, but they handled this way better than I considered possible.

Anyway. All that said, I'd still love to see what you and your partners in crime craft in response. If any photos or anything from your proposed show end up online, please let me know.

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