James Fallows was (and may still be, for all I know) in town last night to talk about Iraq, Iran, the U.S. attempt to deal with global terrorism and the way forward for the United States and the Islamic world. The talk lasted less than 90 minutes and was therefore overly broad for my taste.
I would have preferred he spend the hour-plus just talking about Iran, but I guess that wouldn't have been far-reaching enough for the fairly partisan crowd (I'll let you surmise which side of the fence the crowd that came to Whitman College on a school night fell on).
If you read The Atlantic regularly, you already know the bulk of the talk, which did include some pretty funny lines from Fallows.
The only real revelation of the evening came in the Q&A period, when a guy tried to draw an analogy between the war in Iraq and the grieving process. The analogy failed, but the guy said something interesting: that at the outset of the war, everyone supported the idea because of the prewar intelligence.
Until Thursday night, I don't think I'd heard any non-politician actually say that aloud. Politicians, sure: How else can they flipflop on the war without looking like they're only following public opinion? But regular people?
Hey, I've been fooled before, but never in hell did I believe for one moment that Iraq: a) had weapons of mass destruction that could be deployed in a meaningful manner; b) that Saddam Hussein was actively involved in nuclear weapons research and production (I'd easily believe, however, that his masturbatory dreamland included an A-bomb or two); or c) that any of the above posed a threat to anybody outside of Iraq.
On the flip side, Saddam Hussein is an asshole, but I'm not sure that's in the Reasons To Go To War playbook.
Look: The Intelligence Community couldn't predict the fall of communism (most of it, anyway) or whack Castro. Why should anyone take their word - handed down by the president - about anything else?