Monday, June 16, 2003

Dear Mr. Krauthammer:

In response to your article Iraq Doves Must Wake Up (Daily News, June 15, 2003), where you complain that the Baghdad Museum was not looted after all, and the left has not apologized for getting it wrong, and has now changed the subject to the “hyping of the weapons of mass destruction.” You also set up a Frank Rich article in the April 27 New York Times as indicative of an attitude that you despise.

No one hawked the war against Saddam Hussein more than I did, and no one cares less about whether they find WMDs or not. There were plenty of other good reasons to fight the war.

However, I think you misrepresented the point that Mr. Rich was making, and it had nothing to do with WMDs, or about whatever Mr. Rich’s position on the war happens to be. The point Mr. Rich is making, I believe, is that if you contend that you have to go into Iraq to save the Iraqi people, and then do nothing to protect their national treasures (but do everything to protect their oil), you may be inadvertently tipping your hand about what you truly value.

The Pentagon did not help matters at all by reacting as if the sacking of the museum was not important, and protecting the museum’s treasures was (to paraphrase) sissy work, and unworthy of a great army. You don’t have to be opposed to the war to find that attitude troubling. I don’t remember reading that anyone in the Administration has had a change of heart. If the Museum was not sacked, it was just a question of luck. I don’t remember anyone in the administration trusting the protection of the oil fields to luck.

It really troubles me that you would try to reach so far as to attempt to tie complaints about the sacking of the Museum with the problems we are having finding WMDs. If there is any connection that could possibly be made, it would have to be that it is impossible to trust any information coming out of Iraq.

There were never so many Iraqi doves as you pretend there are. My own view is that people who are looking to find “doves” and “fellow travelers” under the bed are trying to collapse a foreign policy disagreement into a domestic policy dispute to make it easier to cut taxes, impose an ever stricter PATRIOT Act, etc. I have been reading your columns since I first discovered them in The New Republic, and I am deeply disappointed to find you sounding so shrill.