OK Joe, finished the Hersh article. Interesting resonance between the business about Plato & Strauss ("the noble lie"), and your earlier remarks on Joseph Conrad. Plato didn't care much for democracy, did he?
But again, it seems to me that Hersh is sidestepping the factor of Saddam in this whole game. It's my guess that before they went to the UN, the Pentagon people & others in the Admin. had assessed a number of different outcomes very carefully. & the decision to overstate the WMD issue, the decision to seemingly deliberately waffle in their presentation to the UN of rationales for going to war (I'm saying it seemed almost deliberately weak, in shuffling from one justification to another) - these were messages designed not to persuade the US public in favor of war, so much as a disinformation strategy directed at Saddam himself. This was the trap they laid : allow the UN to fibrillate; present obviously weak & sloppy evidence (the British stuff drawn from magazine articles, etc.); waffle in your rationales; let Saddam think he was getting away with it, encourage him in his intransigence. It worked like a charm, both with the French & Germans & Russians, and with Saddam. As I say, he fell right into it. We have to remember there was something of a precedent for this, in the lead-up to the Gulf War. Whether or not the US ambassador was deliberately leading him on, in that fateful meeting just before the invasion of Kuwait, it was an obvious example of Saddam's tendency to read ambivalence or signs of weakness as a go-ahead to follow his own grandiose schemes.
Did they have to do it that way? Well, Saddam was given his chance. He could have come clean starting with the massive report on his weapons programs in December 2002, which Blix declared far from complete or accurate. But he remained in character. And it may be ironic, if my scenario here is accurate, that this psychotic master of deceit was himself finally brought down by a Venus fly-trap of diplomatic illusions.