Steven Den Beste's analogy between the necessary and critical deception of the public by FDR during WWII and the "marketing" of the Iraq war to the American people strains credulity and is a transparent attempt to rationalize the behavior of Bush according to a historical precedent. People who argued along similar lines during the Clinton era were called "apologists."
What's more, the fact that the Grand Neocon Plan to Remake The World (otherwise known as the Project for a New American Century / PNAC) is hardly secret. Steven has been repeatedly writing about it. Perle and Wolfowitz have been going on television boating about it. Laurent Murawiec gave a 24-slide presentation to the Defense Policy Board in the Pentagon which echoed Fareed Zakaria's boilerplate neocon explanantion of Arab anger at the US, which ends with a slide titled "Grand strategy for the Middle East", calling Iraq the "tactical pivot", Saudi Arabia the "strategic pivot", and most bizarrely Egypt "the prize". There's a full writeup in Slate.
So we have the Secret Plan reprinted in Newsweek, MSNBC, Slate, on television, on radio, on USS Clueless. Not to mention its emphastic support by conservative magazines like The Weekly Standard and National Review. In fact you can't go a single day without being browbeaten by the (shhh!) Secret Plan from somewhere within the media universe.
Steven lays out a grim tale of how, had the Big Secret Plan been revealed, that we wouldn't have had staging areas for our Iraq buildup. It seems highly selective to suggest that Kuwait and Qatar were falling all over themselves to help us remove the psychotic Saddam threat because they were completely Clueless about our real intentions. And had Bush spilled the beans, they'd have shut the door?
The bottom line is that there is no justifiable and defensible rationale for secrecy about the NOT VERY SECRET ANYWAY Plan to remake the Middle East.
And suggesting that its just about yellowcake is disingenious. The 9-11 commission report will show that there was ZERO evidence of a link between Al Qaeda and Iraq, another lodestone of the President's case for war on Iraq.
The reason the yellowcake story is significant is because it's part of a larger pattern, where the Administration deliberately misled the public about why we went to war. Joshua Marshall puts it all into context:
But over time after 9/11 one overriding theory of the war did take shape: it was to get America irrevocably on the ground in the center of the Middle East (thus fundamentally reordering the strategic balance in the region), bring to a head the country's simmering conflict with its enemies in the region, and kick off a democratic transformation of the region which would over time dissipate the root causes of anti-American terrorism and violence: autocracy, poverty and fanaticism.
That is why we are in Iraq today. That is the theory of this war. I have little doubt that many in the administration and in certain think-tanks in DC who really don't like much of what they've been reading on this website recently will have little to disagree with in that description.
It's much more complicated, much more complex, and vastly more difficult to achieve. It's not that the main war-hawks didn't believe there were WMD or that rooting them out wouldn't have been a great coup for US national security. But it is almost as if administration war-hawks told the public a vastly simplified, fairy-tale version of the Iraq war's connection to stopping terrorism and justified this benign deception because the story contained a deeper truth, almost in the way we tell children similar stories because their minds aren't advanced enough to grasp or process all the factual details connected to the lessons or messages we're trying to convey. Got all that? Good.
Of course, one might also say that the public might have intuited that fighting this sort of war was too risky, improbable and costly than anything it wanted to get involved in.
(also see Marshall's article from early March and the first week of the war)
I disagree with Steven - I think the American Public should have been leveled with. I think that we the public have a right to decide whether or not we will embark upon a risky THEORY that will take decades to play out. I don't think that the Administration has the right to pretend that their plan is a Big Secret for the good of the dumb masses. And ultimately I agree with Marshall:
So, why is this little matter of the uranium statements such a big deal? Because it is a concrete, demonstrable example of the administration's bad faith in how it led the country to war. To date that bad-faith has been all too apparent on many fronts. But the administration has cowed much of the press into remaining silent or simply not scrutinizing various of the administration's arguments for the war. And success makes up for many sins. No doubt it's painful for the president's partisans to see this stuff dug into. And it produces glee for Democrats who think -- rightly or wrongly -- that it gives them a potent issue to use against the president in the 2004 elections. But quite apart from partisan considerations on either side, we're never going to figure out what we're doing in Iraq, do it well, or accomplish anything good for the future security of the United States unless and until we start talking straight about why we're there, what we need to accomplish, and how we're going to do it.