Framing the issue


Douglas Feith was Under Secretary of Defense for Policy from July 2001 to August 2005. His new book, War and Decision, quotes extensively from previously classified documents, memos, and meetings, to refute the popular wisdom that the driving force of the invasion of Iraq was warmongering, intelligence-politicizing neocons in the Oval Office.

It was a full year after 9/11 that Bush sought U. N. pressure on Saddam Hussein to accomplish the disarmament of Iraq ---who had started wars; who had flouted 16 U.N. Security Resolutions; who was shooting pilots patrolling no-fly zones; who had slaughtered his people; who was thick with terrorists; who, after his overthrow, was found to be in a position where he could manufacture chemical and biological weapons within 3 to 5 weeks --- without going to war. The hope was that Iraq would respond the way Libya would months later.

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Feith argues that when people say we should have given the Inspections a few more months to work, they misunderstand: The Inspections would have worked only if Hussein had wanted to cooperate; in that case, Inspectors could have been valuable as verifying that Saddam was not hiding materials and capability.

Where the Bush administration went wrong, says Feith, was in allowing its critics "to frame the issue around the fact that stockpiles of weapons weren't found," and "not defending the main rationale for invasion --- protecting Americans from a genuine threat" (Michael Barone, U.S. News).

Reframing is rethinking. Reconceptualizing. Jesus practiced it in Matthew 12. His wily opponents asked, "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?" Jesus replied with a question about how they treat their own animals. Then he reframed the question to put it in a clearer light: "Therefore, it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath."

Andrée Seu
Andrée Seu

Andrée is the author of three books: Won't Let You Go Unless You Bless Me, Normal Kingdom Business, and We Shall Have Spring Again.


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