May 2008

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Comments

Richard

It is indisputable that had we not attacked then the nuclear weapons would have been developed. It is a mature technology that, while it takes a huge effort and resources, does not require a great and risky research effort.

So the case stands. Saddam did not have extant weapons, but he did have a very much extant weapons programme. The difference is in the timing of the risk, not the risk itself. Had we waited, then Iraq would have been in the position Scott puts North Korea. So we actually attacked at exactly the right time.

Jeremy

Apologies for not reading through the other comments first, but you forgot one big reason: it kept the fighting off of American soil.

That said, I still think it was stupid. And, in light of that reason, even cowardly.

Sam Davis

The neocons were the drumbeaters for the Iraq War, part of their larger strategy, developed well before 9/11, for an American "virtual" empire or worldwide hegemony. Think Pax Romana renamed Pax Americana except that neither deserve the Pax part.

Imperialism is foreign to the original and continuing basic cultural impulse of people in America, which is "Please leave me alone and I'll do the same for you and yours."

At home, that means a tiny federal government that doesn't dictate how much transfat we eat, what our domestic arrangements are, etc. Abroad, that means a tiny federal government that doesn't try to police every troublespot on the globe and that is truly limited to defending Americans.

The Iraq War was neocon imperialist adventurism at its most naked and egregious. It was not good for Iraqis, not good for Americans, and not good for anyone else. And, by the way, the Iraqis, most of whom are Shia, already did not like al-Qaeda, most of whom are fanatic Sunnis. The Kurds already did not like al-Qaeda, since the Kurds are moderate Sunnis.

And recent relevations show that the Bush administration had enough reason to seriously doubt intelligence about Saddam's WMD to refrain from going to war, just on a practical basis, forgetting the ethical and moral issue of launching wars anytime you feel the least bit threatened by something.

Chugga

You sir, are an imbecile. Disclaimers prevent dancing!

DF

The poor army guys who showed up in Baghdad, knocking on the door of 140 Durka Street, looking for the WMDs, only to find an abandoned building. Someone has to tell Bush that the address his daddy delivered the WMDs to is now empty.

Scott, you must have been on the debate team in school, because you do a really good convincing job of shovelling.

E

Scott,

Interesting post. Here's my two cents. I don't think history will judge "W" nearly as harshly as he is being judged currently.

I don't know the details, but I assume that we have some sort of review / confirmation process for the intelligence that we gather. In terms of credibility, it has to be all over the map. From almost certain, to extremely shaky, and everything in between in terms of, "is the information we have true or not?"

At some point, someone decides the evidence is good enough to act upon. Cross "this line", and we go in with guns.

In a post 9/11 world, I have to think that line moved (maybe a lot) towards acting more quickly, with shakier intelligence, versus not acting to risk watching another 9/11 unfold.

Remember that Saddam didn't just "have a history of seeking WMD", he had actually acquired and USED them, on his own people in a couple of well documented cases. When that guy refuses the UN inspections and starts making noise - you have to respond.

In this context, post 9/11, Saddam with a proven record of crazy violence, saying and doing the things he was doing - how can you not respond?

If we had not gone and Iraq had launched a nuclear device or chemical weapons into Israel - we would all be blasting Bush for not stepping up. Congress, the intelligence agencies and a lot of smart people thought we should go at the time, and it did seem to make sense.

I would have preferred a "bus boy with a silencer" response, instead of the full blown army thing, but there are issues with that as well. We're almost in a very weird "you broke it, you bought it" cycle here in terms of responsibility.

Have the last four years been a lot harder than anyone anticipated? 1000 times yes. Is it getting better? Maybe.

Given the terrible cost in lives and resources, was it worth it? I don't know. The current situation is a clear "no". But if I imagine a stable and strong ally in Iraq 10 years from now - that could be a very good thing.

This is a very complicated and messy situation and hate Bush all you want, but I wouldn't want to trade places with him, then or now... he's had a sh*t sandwich to eat with this one from the very beginning.

dedhed52

Read the book, "Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq" by Thomas Ricks. It traces the root causes of the war and explains EVERYTHING and is based on quotations and analysis of what the key players said and when they said it.

Bush had no clue whether or not Saddam had WMD because US intelligence had no HUMINT assets on the ground to either confirm or deny their existence. Turns out that Operation Desert Fox under the Clinton administration effectively ended Saddam's quest for WMD.

But it also caused us to lose our HUMINT assets there. So with no way to accurately determine if there was any WMD, Bush went along with the war hawks like Paul Wolfowitz and decided to invade.

BIG mistake! But it's too long to write about here. Read the book!

Sing

Did anyone else see the video of the UN weapons inspectors where the inspectors were demanding to be let into a suspected weapons factory while tanker trucks were being hastily loaded and sent away? The inspectors demanded to be let in, but were delayed until the last tanker truck was gone. I believe this was aired on PBS. Maybe all the WMD were already out of the country by the time the war started.

charles

@ Steven McDaniel

"It has not even been proven yet that Bush was wrong about WMDs."

What will it take to prove it, then? In a 100 years you'd say the same thing. The "just because there's no evidence doesn't mean it didn't happen" argument begins to lose steam after a while. Don't you think after all this time, scrutinizing every bit of paper, interviewing anyone who could have been involved, and inspecting every square inch of the country that we've spent billions to occupy in the past few years, don't you think we'd have found some shred of them? However, that is not the point.

Saddam's misinformation campaign (wanting the world to think he had them) blew up in his face. The coalition countries believed it, and invaded because of it. It was the right decision at the time.

Let's be clear about one thing: Just because there were no physical WMD's found doesn't change the validity of decision. Bush and Clinton believed they were there. The difference is Bush showed a bias for action. Given the stakes in this game, that was the correct decision. (How they've prosecuted things since - I'm in less agreement.)

Dilbert's Rabbi

Scott says, "I think attacking Iraq was a huge mistake. So today I will make my best argument for the other side."

The better way to approach this is to put yourself in the place of someone DIRECTLY affected. The question is, "If I were an Iraqi under the rule of Saddam Hussein, would I WANT the US military to come and 'rescue' me?"

For what it's worth, my answer would be "yes".

Charlie on the PA Turnpike

Given the following:

- Bush doctrine after Sept 11 the stated anyone who supports/condones terrorists will be a target our the US

- Official US position was regime change in Iraq (pre-dated Bush administration)

- 16 UN resolutions later, Iraq did what it pleased.

- Iraq continued its practice of firing on our planes patrolling no-fly zone (act of war)

- Iraq continued to violate the cease fire agreement (act of war)


Given these circumstances - all facts - the US could not enforce its doctrine against terrorism IF they didn't clean out Hussain & Co.

You may disagree with the Bush Doctrine (no one in Congress has yet to do so, mind you), but that is where it all started.

Drew Weaver

[First I would propose to help you with your reading comprehension. -- Scott]


BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. I think that should your disclaimer at the begining of every single post, scott.

Dan

Trying to get WMD? How to folks forget "Chemical Ali"? Saddam gas attacked Kurdish villages. Nerve gas is considered a WMD. He had them in the past, used them in the past, and seemed like he was going to use them again. As far as WMD goes, the joke is on Saddam. He didn't have anymore, but since he wanted to act big - his history. Jusst far as justification for the war consider the murder and torture (a bit more than water boarding) Saddam used to do. I'm sure the death rate is lower now than when he was in charge. Hey, who would know that the Iraqs would use their new found freedom to settle old scores. Seems a common thread in the middle east. Look at Gaza - give a Palenstinians some self autonomy and what yo uthey do? Set up businesses and farms. No settle old scores and rocket Isreal.....

Neo

Scott-
This post was a little too political for me this morning... More lighthearted jocularity and less Bush-bashing and Iraqi politics =]

Nick

Isnt it funny that even though it seems that every 2 bit country out there has Nukes now we havent had a single instance of them being used. Is this because once you have WMDs it puts you into the big league and suddenly you are treated by a different set of rules ? Say Iran gets the bomb and then stupidly uses it on Tel Aviv, the result of this would be instant retaliation by Israel, USA etc and Tehran would become a very large radioactive hole. Actually when you think about it once Iran has the bomb then anyone anywhere using one on USA or any of its allies would be an excuse to level Tehran. The result is that countries with Nukes cannot play stupid games any more ? Maybe the safest thing would be to give everyone a single Nuke ? just a thought

George

But wasn't Saddam a bad bad man?

If Hitler hadn't attacked other countries and had instead limited his killing of Jews to ones already in Germany, should WW2 not have been fought?

Unfortunately, I don't know how many Iraqi citizens were killed under Saddam's reign.

Raza Khan

Wobber makes a good point. Why should you assume that democracy for iraq is the best? And i certainly think that democracy isnt always the best solution.

Like here, in pakistan, I dont think there should be a democracy, at least not at the moment.democracy gives power to the people. In pakistan the majority of people are illiterate. I dont want my country's govt. to be chosen by people who cant read or write and are easily manipulated by political parties.

Raza Khan

a good post about the situation in a really long time.

Mike

I would possibly argue that 1%. I would say it was based on a general feeling and belief by the administration that was apparently not backed up by any current facts. I think there was plenty of reason to think that Iraq might be developing nuclear weapons - until the weapons inspectors went in and found no reasonable evidence of him doing so. Evidence that was completely ignored in the justifications the White House gave for invading.

There was a very good special on Bill Moyers Journal called "Buying the War" on the actual evidence versus the media coverage of it. It's very interesting. I was originally willing to believe that there was a very decent chance of Saddam having nuclear weapons - you know he wanted them. But apparently we had no evidence indicating that he had any chance of getting them, and we decided to go on that "he wanted them" hunch anyway. I wouldn't call that even a legitimate 1% chance.

Mark

[First I would propose to help you with your reading comprehension. -- Scott]

Well, I would propose to help you with your resoning.

A while back you were complaining that people were disagreeing about your statements on evolution and this was unfair because you were trying to show that a completely different way fo thinking was possible.

OK, but your response to someone's question about why you keep using evolution was something like "but which gives me the most attention?"

Look if you post about evolution to get the hits you can't complain that people complain about you baning on about evolution all the time. If you were honestly trying to show different modes of thought, you can't choose evolution to bump the hit rate up because that breaks what you are trying to impress.

You need to think things through or stop complaining about being misunderstood. Pick one.

A Wart

Don't forget the other positives out of this.

1. Stock in Defence companies are up.
2. Donald and Bush have good retirement funds.
3. US military has it live training ground.
4. Oil prices are always up another good one for Bush and the Bin Ladin's.
5. New weapons need to be created and stock goes up again.

It'd Win Win for the Bush administration, and the War president.

Steven McDaniel

"A compelling argument for what you don't believe.
We have the luxury of hindsight about the WMD thing. Your post does not take into account the hindsight factor, and that's a good thing. Too often people argue with what is known know, as if we knew it in advance. They also think Bush lied.
Bush didn't lie. He was just wrong. To lie would involve collusion of too many people, like Colin Powell"

It has not even been proven yet that Bush was wrong about WMDs. I state that simply as an objective verity, not as conservative dogma. That there were no WMDs just happens to be liberal doctrine, now virtually established as a public paradigm with the help of the media (surprise, surprise). [Incidentally the media have also established the paradigm that the Clintons' have never continually committed rampant fraud - go Hillary!] Saddam's Air Force General Georges Sada has asserted he knew Saddam moved the WMDs to Syria in his best selling book 'Saddam's Secrets' . The media didn't even show healthy curiosity about this book (all but Fox News - you can start to see why they're loved by the public (ratings!) and hated by liberal pundits so much). Also recently a chemical warhead being installed on a scud missile just recently killed a bunch of North Koreans and Iranian scientists in Syria www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/middle_east/article2489930.ece
Again the media are not really even curious about this. I am not a conservative, but I have not been initiated into liberal dogma either. Scott was telling more of the truth than he realised when he said, 'If you say you KNEW there were no WMD in Iraq, you’re either a liar or an idiot.' You are also a liar, an idiot or a liberal if you say you know even now that there were none. They just didn't find any. Are you also saying there is actually no Bin Laden because the US hasn't found him? Wake up and get a clue. I know I will be branded as a rampant right wing fascist for not saying, 'There were never any WMDs world without end, amen.' So I apologise to liberals ahead of time for being fully conscious.

Mark

[Kent said "That's the wrong question. The question should be 'Is there any solid reason to think there are WMD in Iraq that Saddam might use against us?'"

Yes. Absolutely 100%.

Posted by: Catbert]

Well, you knew he had WMD's BECAUSE YOU STILL HAD THE RECEIPTS!

YOU sold them to him.

That was why, despite all this "really nasty stuff" he was done for killing an insurrection. Uh, it's treason here in the west, guys, and still frowned upon.

Why wasn't he done for gassing the kurds? Because then Saddam's defense would have called to the stand a US company that sold them to him. the charge was picked carefully so that the defense would not be able to show incriminating information from the west.

Andrew

I got the same feeling reading your blog today as I did when I first saw a map of the UK in the Tate gallery, London, where the locations had been cut and pasted all over the place – putting my home from the north of Scotland to somewhere close to London (except London was now where Manchester is/was). I wasn’t expecting the feeling – I remember looking at it with a string of expletives leaping forth uncontrollably from my foaming mouth. It made me reflect on what it meant to be me, my self-image and sense of history, and how that all got rolled up into geography. You did a post a while back asking if the Holy Lands would still be holly if you dug them up and dumped them in Mexico or somewhere. What I felt would probably answer that question.

But anyway – surprising, provocative, excellent post!

Isn’t a weapon of mass destruction a weapons system that kills or disables indiscriminately over a relatively large area of ground, with or without a specific target (like a bunker)? Chemical, biological and nuclear are the normal ones, showing that the effect doesn’t have to be instant. Isn’t an army which doesn’t discriminate very well its targets, just another WMD? Are not the phases of a war very much analogous to the phases of a nuclear strike or a lingering biological attack? WMD is too emotive and misused a word to use intelligently any more, as is terror and freedom.

Jamie

It was a good idea for the globalists. It helps them to achieve their goal of "Balkanizing" the middle east, by assuring that warring pseudo-religious factions prohibit any cultural, technological, educational, or economic progress in that region for the forseeable future. Billions of dollars were made in no bid military weapons deals and tons of innocent people, including U.S. soldiers, have now been continually exposed to whopping doses of depleted uranium that was used to make all types of munitions. Can you say Order out of Chaos? Well done globalists. You believe we can be knocked into stupidity with the left right paradigm, bread and circus and the corporate controlled media gatekeepers calling us names so we will sit down and shut up and you were right. Next in line: a global feudalistic society.

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