Michael Brendan Dougherty doesn’t get Andrew Sullivan’s take on the Pope, torture, and Bush — the former king of the war-bloggers seems to be implying that Benedict XVI is a modernday Borgia — but what I want to know is why anyone continues to take Senor Sullivan seriously. As he waffles on about the sheer awfulness of the Bush administration’s interrogation techniques, why doesn’t anyone remember Sullivan’s October 1, 2001 proclamation that the US must commit mass murder in Iraq?

No, I’m not talking about his support for the war, but his clarion call to commit genocide, to wit:

THE COMING CONFLICT: The sophisticated form of anthrax delivered to Tom Daschle’s office forces us to ask a simple question. What are these people trying to do? I think they’re testing the waters. They want to know how we will respond to what is still a minor biological threat, as a softener to a major biological threat in the coming weeks. They must be encouraged by the panic-mongering of the tabloids, Hollywood and hoaxsters. They must also be encouraged by the fact that some elements in the administration already seem to be saying we need to keep our coalition together rather than destroy the many-headed enemy. So the terrorists are pondering their next move. The chilling aspect of the news in the New York Times today is that the terrorists clearly have access to the kind of anthrax that could be used against large numbers of civilians. My hopes yesterday that this was a minor attack seem absurdly naïve in retrospect. So they are warning us and testing us. At this point, it seems to me that a refusal to extend the war to Iraq is not even an option. We have to extend it to Iraq. It is by far the most likely source of this weapon; it is clearly willing to use such weapons in the future; and no war against terrorism of this kind can be won without dealing decisively with the Iraqi threat. We no longer have any choice in the matter. Slowly, incrementally, a Rubicon has been crossed. The terrorists have launched a biological weapon against the United States. They have therefore made biological warfare thinkable and thus repeatable. We once had a doctrine that such a Rubicon would be answered with a nuclear response. We backed down on that threat in the Gulf War but Saddam didn’t dare use biological weapons then. Someone has dared to use them now. Our response must be as grave as this new threat. I know that this means that this conflict is deepening and widening beyond its initial phony stage. But what choice do we have? Inaction in the face of biological warfare is an invitation for more in a world where that is now thinkable. Appropriate response will no doubt inflame an already inflamed region, as people seek solace through the usual ideological fire. Either way the war will grow and I feel nothing but dread in my heart. But we didn’t seek this conflict. It has sought us. If we do not wage war now, we may have to wage an even bloodier war in the very near future. These are bleak choices, but what else do we have?”

You can’t get much more explicit than that: Sullivan wanted the US to nuke Iraq. If he’d had his way, Iraq would be a glassy crater today. And he’s passing judgement on the Pope? As he might put it: Puh-leeeeeze!

In all his curiously exculpatory self-flagellation, his apologies, his self-analysis of why he was taken in by the War Party, he has never mentioned — or apologized for — this particular bout of war hysteria, during which he advocated mass murder.

“We once had a doctrine that such a Rubicon would be answered with a nuclear response.” Here is the essence of the Sullivan Doctrine, the credo of a man without a moral compass: for him, every rivulet is a Rubicon. While Sullivan may claim to be a conservative, and may occasionally voice conservative and even libertarian sentiments, surely his temperament is anything but.