Alpine Summit

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Hitchens on Occam's Razor

Christopher Hitchens has a great rhetorical question about the left in America still shouting the "Bush lied" meme: "What do you have to believe in order to keep alive your conviction that the Bush administration conspired to launch a lie-based war?"

A few little strokes of Occam's razor are enough to dispose of this whole accumulation of fantasy. Suppose that every single Iraqi defector or informant, funneled out of a closed and terrified society by the INC, had been a dedicated and conscious fabricator. How could they persuade a vast organization, equipped with satellite surveillance that can almost read a license plate from orbit, of a plain untruth? (Leave to one side the useful intelligence that was provided by the INC and that has been acknowledged.) Well, what was the likelihood that ambiguous moves made by Saddam's agents were also innocuous moves? After decades in which the Baathists had been caught cheating and concealing, what room was there for the presumption of innocence? Hans Blix, the see-no-evil expert who had managed to certify Iraq and North Korea as kosher in his time, has said in print that he fully expected a coalition intervention to uncover hidden weaponry.

And this, of course, it actually has done. We did not know and could not know, until after the invasion, of Saddam's plan to buy long-range missiles off the shelf from Pyongyang, or of the centrifuge components buried on the property of his chief scientist, Dr. Mahdi Obeidi. The Duelfer report disclosed large latent facilities that were only waiting for the collapse of sanctions to resume activity. Ah, but that's not what you said you were looking for. … Could pedantry be pushed any further?

He makes several great points like this and it's definitely worth the read. I forgot about the Duelfer report as well as the numerous things we found that Saddam wasn't supposed to have (many of them French in origin by the way). Certainly good to remember when I'm having head-to-heads with liberals in the future.

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