Sunday, November 13, 2005


Credibility is an evanescent quality, Bush. Once you've compromised it, it's gone. Completely. No half measures. No way to bring it back. Once you've lied and been exposed to the whole world as a liar, there's no way anyone's going to believe you any more. Once you've raised the alarm and the alarm has been unmasked as demonstrably false, who's going to be there for you the next time, when the danger might be real? Like the little boy who cried Wolf, you're learning this the hard way. Trouble is, it's not just your personal credibility you've squandered, Bush. That would be your problem. No, it's America's credibility. Which makes it our problem.

These thoughts prompted by the piece in today's New York Times about the efforts of American intelligence officials to persuade the international community that Iran is in serious pursuit of nuclear weaponry. They have a stolen Iranian laptop to prove it, with huge amounts of corroborating data. Still, some say--remembering the hue and cry over Saddam's WMD--that the incriminating data would be easy enough to fake. Some say, too, persuasively, the Iran was the real threat all along. And now, if they indeed develop nuclear weapons to arm existing missiles that can easily reach Israel, and given their new President's declared belief that Israel should be wiped off the face of the map, where does that leave us, Bush? Unable to persuade others of the seriousness of the problem because we're working from a history of distortions and lies.

All of which leaves the world a lot less safe for all of us. Your hubris and intemperate rush to war have significantly destabilized the least stable region of the world, and the loud, now transparently false claims that supported your action have deprived you and your administration of the credibility that might be needed in a new, more threatening context in the very near future. Not a comforting scenario, Bush. And you ran for office on the strength of your much-touted integrity... Funny, how things turn out. Well, not so funny, really.

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