...it seems to me more confirmation of my essential position: that the war was right, but that the execution came close to undermining it. But it's also true that you cannot both lament the plundering of al Qaqaa and other sites and insist that there were no WMDs in Iraq before the war. Both sides have some reckoning to do.
Both Sullivan and Hitchens, as well as the broader conservative community, persist in eliding the difference between actual WMD and the potential for WMD programs. While it's true that Saddam possessed material that put him in clear violation of disarmament agreements, it's simply no good to pretend that we went to war to war over potential WMD programs. President Bush and his crew made their case for war on the assumption that Saddam was in posession of WMD, pure and simple.Thus it's entirely reasonable and consistent to lament the plundering of al Qaqaa and other sites as well as insist that there were no WMDs in Iraq before the war.
Sullivan's attempt here to play one argument off the other is characteristic of his tendency to try and set himself up as objective critic of both the left and the right, but it's a charade. In this case, there is no splitting the difference. The blame for misunderstanding and/or misrepresenting the threat posed by Saddam lies with the Bush administration and U.S. intelligence, as does the blame for failing to secure known weapons sites.