Will they get away with it?

Following hot on the heels of Paul Krugman’s June 3 piece in the New York Times, I was heartened to hear, on ABC radio this morning, US Congressmen seriously questioning the integrity of US intelligence reports on Iraq’s WMD.

Could the ground be shifting within the US domestic political economy? The Krugman article (entitled Standard operating procedure) did surprise me, I have to say, to the extent that I now think I may have been a little harsh in judgement of him in the past! He certainly didn’t pull any punches in his denunciation of the Bush administration and ‘the mystery of Iraq’s missing weapons of mass destruction’. Anyone who talks about an “intelligence failure”, he says is ‘missing the point’. The Bush and Blair administrations wanted a war, ‘so they demanded reports supporting their case, while dismissing contrary evidence’. According to Krugman, for the Bush administration ‘misrepresentation and deception are standard operating procedure’ and that ‘to an extent never before seen in US history’ it ‘systematically and brazenly distorts the facts’. The important point, he notes, is that the public was told that ‘Saddam posed an imminent threat. If that claim was fraudulent, the selling of the war is arguably the worst scandal in American political history — worse than Watergate, worse than Iran-contra.’ Stirring stuff, indeed, which gives me some cause for optimism that the Bush administration may be called to account by domestic interests. While world opinion would appear largely unsupportive of the US intervention in Iraq, it is opinion within the US, of course, that really matters. As Krugman concludes (rather dismally), if the Bush administration did con the US public into war, and it is not held accountable for its deceptions, it is possible that George W. could fight a “khaki election” campaign next year, in which case, the US political system would have become ‘utterly, and perhaps irrevocably, corrupted’.