Bill Quick isn’t impressed with the Powell speech and has some typically glass-half-empty views about what the media has had to say about it thus far. Bill, for the last several months, could always be counted on to provide the pessimistic view of things regarding the WOT, and I generally think he provides a valuable service in doing so, but I also think he’s wrong when he now writes,


One can make the point that there is nothing at all earth-shaking in Powell’s presentation, nothing that could resemble a smoking gun, and really not much that all the major powers involved have not already discovered on their own. Hell, some of them, like France and Germany, may have helped build these facilities and weapons. 

Why do we bother with dumbshows like this? In the end, I doubt that this has changed a thing.


Of course we can’t yet tell, but I would venture the guess that Powell’s speech, while not providing any “smoking guns” of the variety that would satisfy the above usual suspects (but then, what ever would, really?), will signal an important shift of decision in the UN. It’s not surprising that Russia’s foreign minister would, right after the speech, suggest that the inspections were working and we should thus give them more time, but it’s telling how resoundingly pathetic that sounds now . The blogosphere could hear the silly, dishonest undertones of those statements weeks ago, but now I think the rest of the world will be catching up.

True, Powell didn’t reveal any news of the “Here’s a picture of a nuclear missile being built” variety, but he did present some new information. However, much more important than that was the systematic, relentless character of the presentation, in which he assembled all the hundreds of small pieces of information coherently and drove them home one after another. It’s one thing when small pieces of intelligence are linked one by one over the course of weeks. It’s another when they come in the packaged deal with the bright red bow tied around them.

The diplo-journo mind is one that operates (often deliberately) in a series of ephemeral moments, highly fickle and prone to forget any inconvenient fact that hasn’t been pounded into its head in the last 5 minutes . What have you found for me recently?

One more small article of illegal weapons, one more sign of danger from Saddam… No worries. Just make the point that whatever single piece of evidence that has come to light isn’t enough by itself to justify war, and conveniently ignore the fact that it’s just the most recent addition to a gigantic pyramid that has been steadily built over the last 12 years.

For this reason, up until now it’s been easy to discard the wealth of data and arguments that cry out for ousting Saddam, bits of information that gradually but unceasingly come to light . It’s frustrating and infuriating that people who are supposed to be intelligent enough to guide the fate of nations could be so willfully obtuse, but it’s a situation we have to deal with.

The good news is that (I think, at least) the Bush administration has dealt with it handily in the form of Powell’s speech. True, it didn’t much change the substance of the sum total of known information concerning Saddam’s misbehavior, but it has the distinct potential of drastically changing the perception (or at least the publicly acknowledged perception) of that material in the minds of the UN nations.

A dripping faucet, while annoying, can be ignored. Powell just turned that faucet into a gushing water main, and I think nations like France and Germany are going to start feeling their toes getting wet.

last update : 23-5-2018

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