What to call it? The Iraq war lie mutual embrace?
Let me explain.
I've been asked by many people recently how John Kerry will manage to explain his vote for the Iraq war resolution and subsequent criticism of the war itself. For myself I don't find the explanation or rather the position one of great difficulty since it so closely mirrors my own position.
I was a contingent supporter of this war. I believed we had to deal permanently with Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs, and that we had to be willing to threaten war and if need be go to war to do it.
That's why after the White House had made a sufficient hash of the international diplomatic situation and after the inspections made it clear that Saddam really didn't have any serious nuclear weapons program, that I withdrew my support for any invasion.
So, again, I don't find this rationale problematic because it is a) my rationale and b) I think a good rationale.
But Kerry's critics -- on both the right and the left -- say, well, fine but it was clear in late 2002 that President Bush was going to war no matter what. And those critics have a very good point. I don't think it quite obviates the first argument. And I wrestle with this myself. But it's a very good point.
The problem is that this is an argument the president and really his partisans really just can't make. Because what it amounts to is saying is that Kerry's position doesn't hold up because the president is a liar.
Right? Isn't that the idea?
The president's argument at the time was that he needed to be empowered by the congress to go to the UN with a credible threat of force and a united congress behind him. That was the best way to assure that Iraq would be disarmed and in fact the best way to avoid war.
The resolution was intended to give the president full authority to go to war if the our vital security needs -- namely, resolving the weapons issue -- could not be solved by means short of war.
Kerry's argument is only the president's argument read back to him.
People don't think it adds up because they think the president was lying -- that he had already decided to go to war no matter what -- and that Kerry must have known.