A few comments on

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January 28, 2003 9:10 p.m.

A few comments on the speech. Up until the Iraq stuff, it seemed well-delivered but lackluster. It was actually weaker than I’d expected. Not bad, just uninspired.

The Iraq stuff was different. And in the early portions, I thought it was quite good. (The line contrasting ‘process’ and ‘result’ was powerful, even if I thought the point he was trying to make was a partly flawed one.) The president made an excellent point: the UN is on record cataloguing great quantities of chemical and biological weapons in Iraq’s possession. What happened to it all? The Iraqis say they don’t have it. And they’ve provided no evidence that they destroyed it. Where is it?

The point here, the point of US policy, the point of the UN resolutions, is that Iraq has to disarm. That lack of an accounting means, pretty much by definition, that Iraq’s not disarming. The onus is on them.

Having said that, the hard evidence the president was able to set forth was focused on pretty garden variety chemical and biological weapons. Scary stuff, to be sure. But nothing much about nuclear weapons.

And after that good beginning, to my mind, he slid into questionable assertions and hyperbole. The failure to disarm is probably a casus belli. But what we’re looking for isn’t a pretext for war, but a rationale for going to war now. On that count I don’t think things look much different than they did few hours ago.

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