Friday, August 26, 2005

Hooray for Patrick Lang!

On Wednesday night, Hardball led off with a substantive discussion of Iraq with former Defense Intelligence Agency official Patrick Lang. The discussion made clear that while the insurgency in Iraq is primarily homegrown, and is led by Baathists and former military officers. The Bush administration likes to emphasize the non-Iraqi, jihadi, elements of the insurgency, the better to tie the war in Iraq with the war on global terror.

Lang noted that the Iraqi military leadership understood from the beginning that they couldn't defeat the United States in a conventional military battle, and that they showed considerable savvy in planning a guerrilla resistance. Then Chris Matthews lowered the quality of the discussion with this question:
MATTHEWS: Why do you think they stood up to us and refused to participate in all the demands made by President Bush and the other allies if they couldn‘t beat us and they were that smart?
LANG: I‘m not sure they...
MATTHEWS: And they may still be smart, but they weren‘t smart enough not to avoid this war.

The question constains the dubious assumption that "they," the leaders of the insurgency, had the ability to control Iraq's actions prior to the U.S. invasion. Citizen Cain thinks that the one guy who had this ability is now in a Baghdad prison. But the real howler in Matthews' question is the assertion that Iraq "refused to participate in all the demands made by President Bush and the other allies." Right up until just prior to the war, the demand made by President Bush and "the other allies" was that Iraq disarm, and that they cooperate with U.N. inspectors. Just prior to the war, President Bush added the requirement that Saddam Hussein must step down because:

Today, no nation can possibly claim that Iraq has disarmed. And it will not disarm so long as Saddam Hussein holds power.

And since then, Bush and other conservative politicians have continued to state falsely, with the acquiescense of the liberal media, that Saddam Hussein refused to cooperate with U.N. inspectors. See Citizen Cain's report on how Jean Schmidt got away with spreading this falsehood on Hardball. Now Matthews seems to be spreading it himself.

But hooray for Patrick Lang! Here's how he responded to Matthews bogus question.

LANG: Yes. Yes. I know that.

But I‘m not so sure that, in fact, that they saw it exactly that way, because if you look at the records of what the international inspectors were doing on the ground in there, they were—they encountered some delays and things of that kind. But, in general, if they asked to go someplace, they ended up going there.

As we know, in fact, the Iraqis didn‘t have anything to hide in the way of WMD things, because we looked all over the country for it and we couldn‘t find it. You know, it is really difficult to prove a negative, isn‘t it?


LANG: If you‘re going to try to prove you don‘t have a nuclear weapons program and you don‘t have one, it is pretty hard to prove that.

So, contrary to Matthews' question, Iraq actually did what the international community demanded of it-- it ended its WMD programs, and it cooperated with U.N. inspectors. Well done Mr. Lang.