As Jean-Paul Sartre said in another context: no exit. But David Kay, the arms inspector, has just handed the Democrats what they hope will be a WMD to use against President Bush in the fall campaign and to bring about a hasty exit from Iraq. But what did Kay actually say?

Kay did not accuse the Bush administration of pressuring intelligence agencies to provide justification for the war. Instead he offers, as columnist Charles Krauthammer puts it, “the most novel and convincing” explanation of why the U.S. misjudged Saddam’s arsenal.

“It was a combination of Iraqi bluff, deceit and corruption,” writes Krauthammer, “far more bizarre than heretofore expected. Kay discovered that an increasingly erratic Saddam Husein had taken over personal direction of the WMD program. But because there was no real oversight, the scientists would go to Hussein, exaggerate or invent their activities, then pocket funds. Scientists were bluffing Hussein. Hussein was bluffing the world.”

Serves him right, and the world is better without him. He was overawing a region with his bluff, and he was evading telling the truth to the U.N. The U.S. invasion was meet and right, if anything is meet and right.  

I will admit this, the anti-war types who said we were going into Iraq because we could might have been right. It was a Stalinist regime, but it was one we could more likely take out than a lot of awful regimes. Sure, we liberated the people easiest to liberate. Why would we do otherwise?

Nevertheless, the Kay testimony has scared me. Not because the war was wrong, but because of the propaganda took it gives to the exit at any price crowd. We can’t leave until we’ve helped change Iraq. America’s foreign policy since 1983, when our Marines were killed in Lebanon, has been one big exit strategy. These often hasty retreats led, in my opinion, to the horror of Sept. 11. Talk of “getting us out of Iraq” indicates a return to the policy of retreat.