January 21, 2003


NO TRUTH IN ADVERTISING, PART I: A new advertisement opposing the potential war in Iraq, sponsored by a website called MoveOn.org, reprises the classic "Daisy Girl" ad from the 1964 presidential race, arguing that if we go to war in Iraq, there's a possibility that it will result in a nuclear holocaust.
Now if "MoveOn.org" sounds familiar, it's because they surfaced during the Clinton impeachment drama in 1998, believing that the country should "move on" from the allegations against the president and pay attention to other, more important issues. What this has to do with war in Iraq I'll never know (as I didn't often check the site in the intervening four years). Back in the impeachment days, not only was "Move On" a noble cause with which I agreed, but the very phrase, "move on," was used correctly both logically and grammatically. Not so four years later.
I don't say so only because the first thing President Clinton did after his 1999 acquittal was bomb Iraq. Nor do I believe this because, in using Lyndon Johnson's 1964 ad, the anti-war movement is suddenly on the same side as LBJ (maybe it's a result of the rapturous reaction by elites last year to the Robert Caro biography). The ad is faulty because it juxtaposes footage of a nuclear blast with a call to "move on." Why? Is a nuclear threat something that we should just will away and forget about? Most of the anti-war movement believes war is not justified because Saddam does not have weapons of mass destruction. By depicting hypothetical nuclear devastation, the ad seems to concede that he does have them. But if he does, then why in the world would we move on? Even if we don't go to war, shouldn't the incidence of a sworn enemy of the United States possessing such weapons at least be cause for alarm, if not cause for fear? I don't remember there being a "move on" movement during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
The truth is (as Kenneth Pollack's excellent book "The Threatening Storm" articulates), every single piece of intelligence we have tells us that while Saddam Hussein doesn't yet have nuclear weapons, he's working to get them and may have the capability very soon. Therefore, there's a greater threat of nuclear holocaust if we don't invade Iraq than if we do. Regardless of what happens, just about the worst option imaginable is "moving on."

Posted by Stephen Silver at January 21, 2003 12:42 AM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?