Ezra Klein is a national treasure. Kenneth Pollack is not. He’s not because of gems like this (which, I’m sorry to say, E.K. brought into)
I supported Kenneth Pollack’s Iraq war.
In 2002, Pollack, a Persian Gulf expert who’d worked at the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Council, published “The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq.” Pollack’s argument, in short, was that Saddam Hussein was an unusually reckless, cruel and self-deluded dictator who either had weapons of mass destruction or was very close to attaining them. His past, which included catastrophic wars with Iran and Kuwait, murderous rampages against his own people, erratic personal behavior and a clear aspiration toward regional hegemony, suggested that he wasn’t the sort of tyrant who could be contained or reasoned with, and so Pollack’s reluctant, unhappy conclusion was that he was the sort of tyrant who must be stopped before the right weaponry made him unstoppable.
But Pollack was clear-eyed about the task ahead. Iraq, he said, shouldn’t be America’s top priority. We should first focus on destroying al-Qaeda. We should then work on the Israeli- Palestinian conflict. Only then should we turn to Hussein.
So Hussein was uniquely dangerous, but we should wait to go after him until 1) we dealt with Al-Qaeda, a process likely to take a decade if not decades and 2) we “work[ed]” on an issue that had been irresolvable for half a century? That’s some imminent threat, that is.
Could we have put “getting a pony” in the middle of this?