Eric H. from the Dave pointed me toward this bit of apparent sense by Andrew Sullivan at the New Republic:

Equally, his presidency can and should be judged on its most fateful decision: to go to war against Iraq without final U.N. approval on the basis of Saddam’s stockpiles of weapons and his violation of countless U.N. resolutions. I still believe that his decision was the right one. The only reason we know that Saddam was indeed bereft of such weaponry is because we removed him; we were going to have to deal with the crumbling mafia-run state in the heart of the Middle East at some point; and the objections of the French and Germans and Russians were a function primarily of mischief and corruption. And what we discovered in Iraq–from mass graves to children’s prisons to the devastating effect of sanctions on the lives of ordinary Iraqis–only solidifies the moral case for removing the tyrant. The scandal of the U.N. oil-for-food program seals the argument.

But Sullivan immediately forgets what he’d just written and proceeds to toe the Kerry line, global test and all:

At the same time, the collapse of the casus belli and the incompetent conduct of the war since the liberation point in an opposite direction. If you are going to do what the Bush administration did in putting all your chips on one big gamble; if you are going to send your secretary of state to the United
Nations claiming solid “proof” of Saddam’s WMDs; if you are going to engage in a major war of liberation without the cover of international consensus–then you’d better well get all your ducks in a row. Bush–amazingly–didn’t. The lack of stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq remains one of the biggest blows to America’s international credibility in a generation.

Is this anything more than an effort to vitiate what has proven at least partial justification for the war effort?
It still surprises me, though it probably shouldn’t, that people continue to confuse pre-war intelligence and post-war findings, and that there are still those who claim that Bush lied about WMDs in order to go to war (which Sullivan implies by saying that Bush sent Colin Powell to the UN ‘claiming solid “proof” of Saddam’s WMDs’) when it was pre-war intelligence — the same intelligence presented to Kerry as he sat on the Senate intelligence committee, the same intelligence with which Kerry agreed at the time, the same intelligence that fueled his support for the war until Howard dominated early — when it was pre-war intelligence that indicated the threat of WMDs.
The fact that the intelligence–which at the time all parties (including Kerry) counted as proof–was faulty does not mean that Bush lied or that he used WMDs as a pretext with some other goal in mind. The fact that the war hasn’t followed a hollywood script means that it’s a real war, in the real world. Sullivan seems to want to fault the President for the intangibles, but nowhere in his less than ringing endorsement prayer for John Kerry does he indicate why he believes those intangibles would not have arisen under another President.
Post-war findings, as Sullivan noted, clarified our understanding of the state of weapons programs in Iraq, and it was post-war findings which also showed us the existence of a vast network of corruption implicating the UN itself and individuals, officials, and corporations from a number of nations which opposed the war, corruption aimed to lift UN sanctions and resume unhindered Hussein’s weapons programs.
It simply defies logic for Sullivan to acknowledge this and then fault the President for the aftermath claiming that ‘the lack of stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq remains one of the biggest blows to America’s international credibility in a generation.’
On the contrary, post-war findings of Saddam’s masterful manipulation of the UN as well as his plans to rebuild his weapons programs, coupled with the fact that al Zarqawi’s al Qaeda is the Iraqi ‘insurgency’, indicates that pre-emptive strike was fully justified here.
The Sullivan piece is meshed together from fiercely polemical anti-Bush strands of dubious interpretation.
On Abu Ghraib he claims that “[i]n one gut-wrenching moment, the moral integrity of the war was delivered an almost fatal blow,” which is nonsense. A handful of jackasses embarrassing a few prisoners? People who make so much out of Abu Ghraib should learn what torture was under Saddam Hussein. It’s insulting on countless levels to suggest that what a few rogue guards did either constituted an atrocity or invalidated the moral integrity of the war. (It’s equally insulting to suggest, as many do, that not showing the greatest outrage at the events implies complicity or suggests that one finds nothing wrong with the actions. It happens, and it’s being dealt with. It’s not Auschwitz.)
Ultimately all that Sullivan says is that Kerry isn’t Bush, which we knew. But Bush isn’t Kerry, and I’m far more comfortable with that.
There’s more, but I’ve got work to do. Check out James Lileks whom I’m sure has made a better argument.
MORE: Just spotted this bit from Lileks, quoting and answering Sullivan, which would make a good candidate for my sporadic ‘Classical Reference Watch’:

Kerry has said again and again that he will not hesitate to defend this country and go on the offensive against Al Qaeda. I see no reason whatsoever why he shouldn’t.
This would be a reasonable statement if Sen. Kerry had just popped fully-formed from Zeus? brow, howling for justice, but there?s the inconvenient matter of three decades of public pronouncements that makes one wonder how he defines ?defend(ing) this country,? and what he consider to be an offensive. No? Or am I being unfair? Perhaps.

Here’s hoping Kerry never bears the aegis.