October 16, 2006

Why We Know

In her pre-war New York Times column “Why We Know Iraq is Lying” Condoleezza Rice wrote that she knew Saddam had not “disarmed” because as an expert on the former Soviet Union, she knew what disarming looked like, and Iraq wasn’t doing it.  (Of course, we now know why Saddam wasn’t disarming.)

This week, the administration is trying some real diplomacy with North Korea, albeit with limited success. This effort gives us a chance, finally, to see what “exhausting diplomatic alternatives” looks like in the Bush Administration. The coordinated efforts of government officials at all levels demonstrate that Bush really wants diplomacy to work with North Korea. Plus, our country doesn’t seem to have a choice.

Yet just this past week, Bush said at a press conference,

I thought you were going to ask the question… 'how come you don't use military action now [against North Korea]...' And my answer is, is that I believe the commander in chief must try all diplomatic measures before we commit our military. And I believe that diplomacy is—you know, we're making progress when we've got others at the table.

I will ask myself a follow-up. If that's the case, why did you use military action in Iraq? [Chuckles.] And the reason why is because we tried the diplomacy. Matter of fact, we tried resolution after resolution after resolution.

Let’s put aside for a moment that many of those resolutions called on Saddam to “disarm.” The diplomacy on North Korea is very different from the half-hearted, diluted version we saw leading up to the Iraq invasion. That contrast is yet another reason why we know Bush is lying on Iraq when he continues to claim his administration exhausted diplomatic alternatives.

By Will Friedman in Foreign Affairs | Permalink  | 


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