If a man says he has a gun, acts like he has a gun, and convinces everyone around him he has a gun, and starts waving it around and behaving recklessly, the police are justified in shooting him (even if it turns out later he just had a black bar of soap). Similarly, according to the Duelfer report, Saddam seems to have intentionally convinced other countries, and his own generals, that he had WMDs. He also convinced much of the U.S. government. If we reacted accordingly and he turns out not to have had WMDs, whose fault is that?The problem with this analogy is that Saddam stopped waving the black bar of soap around.
In September 2002, Bush received authority to wage war in Iraq, and he used that authority to force Saddam to issue a detailed report and to come clean on where and whether he had any WMD's.
That report Saddam issued claimed Iraq had no WMD's, but it was a negative that Saddam could not prove to Bush's satisfaction, nor the U.N.'s for that matter. Still, Saddam dropped the black soap and put up his hands. Inspectors were let back into Iraq, avenues of investigation had been opened. Meanwhile, Bush shaded his intelligence evidence by ignoring the conflicting estimates in it, and presented to the American people the spector of nuclear weapons and biological bombs being unleashed in America by Al Qaeda operatives supplied by Saddam Hussein.
At the same time, the UN Security Council wasn't convinced by PowerPoint Colin Powell has since recanted "proving" Saddam had WMD. The U.N. said in February and March 2003 let's give this inspection process more time and didn't Bush couldn't get his war resolution.
Bush had a choice. He could use the threat of force to investigate further, to allow renewed inspections more time, or, to invade.
So Bush assembled a coalition outside of both UN and NATO auspices, a coaltion where American troops made up 5 times the force of all the other coalition troops combined, a coalition where many members were rewarded for joining via US foreign aide, and rushed into Iraq, changing plans at the last minute because Turkey's parliament elected not to let Bush base operations for invading northern Iraq there.
Bush made the wrong choice, and carried it out in stunningly incompetent fashion. He made a bigger mess of the decision and now Iraq's a hornets nest of pissed off Jihadist and Muslim extremests taking potshots at American troops and any Iraqi's doing anything normal, let alone those signing up to policemen.
Given that Bush could have taken the time to look closer to see whether the gun was real or soap since Saddam had stopped waving it, Bush is in no position to use the Kaus defense. So he's left with something even more desperate now: Bush is saying that the war was still justified, despite how wrong he's been in his most fundamental reasons for going, because Saddam allegedly tried to bribe officials to divert U.N. oil-for-food money into his own pockets.