One of the luxuries of a sabbatical: time to read long and interesting articles.
This morning, I read Lawrence Freedman's "War in Iraq: Selling the Threat," which was published in Survival, Summer 2004 (pp. 7-50). The author is a Professor of War Studies at King's College, London. Back in graduate school, I read his Evolution of Nuclear Strategy, which is still in print.
Freedman provides a thorough overview of the Iraq war debate and makes several important points worth preserving.
For example, Freedman notes (p. 27) that the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate was produced after various Bush administration officials already made definitive statements about the Iraqi WMD threat in August and September 2002. Indeed, to be technical, they made these statements before the NIE was even requested.
Senators Rockefeller, Levin and Durbin offered the same criticism in their "Additional Views" to the Senate Intelligence Committee report, but it hasn't really made a political splash. Maybe when that followup report comes out? We'll see.
Freedman also points out that the Pentagon prepared for a wartime humanitarian emergency in Iraq (p. 36). Though it never materialized, this was a huge concern of human rights NGOs prior to the war. Thus, even though the administration is criticized for its secrecy and aloof decision-making, it actually listened to the views of NGOs in this case.
Have they listened to other NGOs on other issues? That's a question for another time and post.