13th July 01:17
Look Who's Unpatriotic Now
July 22, 2003
Who's Unpatriotic Now?
By PAUL KRUGMAN
Some nonrevisionist history: On Oct. 8, 2002, Knight Ridder newspapers
reported on intelligence officials who "charge that the administration
squelches dissenting views, and that intelligence ****ysts are under intense
pressure to produce reports supporting the White House's argument that
Saddam poses such an immediate threat to the United States that pre-emptive
military action is necessary." One official accused the administration of
pressuring ****ysts to "cook the intelligence books"; none of the dozen
other officials the reporters spoke to disagreed.
The skepticism of these officials has been vindicated. So have the concerns
expressed before the war by military professionals like Gen. Eric Shinseki,
the Army chief of staff, about the resources required for postwar
occupation. But as the bad news comes in, those who promoted this war have
responded with a concerted effort to smear the messengers.
Issues of principle aside, the invasion of a country that hadn't attacked us
and didn't pose an imminent threat has seriously weakened our military
position. Of the Army's 33 combat brigades, 16 are in Iraq; this leaves us
ill prepared to cope with genuine threats. Moreover, military experts say
that with almost two-thirds of its brigades deployed overseas, mainly in
Iraq, the Army's readiness is eroding: normal doctrine calls for only one
brigade in three to be deployed abroad, while the other two retrain and
And the war will have devastating effects on future recruiting by the
reserves. A widely circulated photo from Iraq shows a sign in the windshield
of a military truck that reads, "One weekend a month, my ass."
To top it all off, our insistence on launching a war without U.N. approval
has deprived us of useful allies. George Bush claims to have a "huge
coalition," but only 7 percent of the coalition soldiers in Iraq are
non-American - and administration pleas for more help are sounding
How serious is the strain on our military? The Brookings Institution
military ****yst Michael O'Hanlon, who describes our volunteer military as
"one of the best military institutions in human history," warns that "the
Bush administration will risk destroying that accomplishment if they keep on
the current path."
But instead of explaining what happened to the Al Qaeda link and the nuclear
program, in the last few days a series of hawkish pundits have accused those
who ask such questions of aiding the enemy. Here's Frank Gaffney Jr. in The
National Post: "Somewhere, probably in Iraq, Saddam Hussein is gloating. He
can only be gratified by the feeding frenzy of recriminations,
second-guessing and political power plays. . . . Signs of declining popular
appreciation of the legitimacy and necessity of the efforts of America's
armed forces will erode their morale. Similarly, the enemy will be
Well, if we're going to talk about aiding the enemy: By cooking intelligence
to promote a war that wasn't urgent, the administration has squandered our
military strength. This provides a lot of aid and comfort to Osama bin
Laden - who really did attack America - and Kim Jong Il - who really is
And while we're on the subject of patriotism, let's talk about the affair of
Joseph Wilson's wife. Mr. Wilson is the former ambassador who was sent to
Niger by the C.I.A. to investigate reports of attempted Iraqi uranium
purchases and who recently went public with his findings. Since then
administration allies have sought to discredit him - it's unpleasant stuff.
But here's the kicker: both the columnist Robert Novak and Time magazine say
that administration officials told them that they believed that Mr. Wilson
had been chosen through the influence of his wife, whom they identified as a
Think about that: if their characterization of Mr. Wilson's wife is true (he
refuses to confirm or deny it), Bush administration officials have exposed
the identity of a covert operative. That happens to be a criminal act; it's
also definitely unpatriotic.
So why would they do such a thing? Partly, perhaps, to punish Mr. Wilson,
but also to send a message.
And that should alarm us. We've just seen how politicized, cooked
intelligence can damage our national interest. Yet the Wilson affair
suggests that the administration intends to continue pressuring ****ysts to
tell it what it wants to hear.
Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company
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"If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier, just so
long as I'm the dictator." - GW Bush 12/18/2000.
"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that
we are to stand by the president right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic
and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public."
---George W. Bush on the Brink of Declaring War on Iraq.