December 17, 2003

A Strange Paragraph from Alan Murray

The Wall Street Journal's Alan Murray writes a strange paragraph:

WSJ.com - Political Capital: George W. Bush's decision to invade Iraq was neither an exercise of brute power to revenge his father, nor an effort to win booty for Texas corporate cronies. It was the act of a president who feels the heavy burden of leading the world's only superpower; who was profoundly moved by the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001; who sees the world in terms of good and evil and is committed to using his position to ensure the former triumphs. As he said in his news conference Monday: "This job is a magnificent job, because you have a chance to use the position of the United States to achieve peace and freedom."...

"Profoundly affected" by 911. What does that mean, exactly? Does it mean that he thereafter made the capture or killing of Osama bin Laden and those who have funded and supported Al Qaeda the principal security policy task of the United States? No--the focus of American security policy today is on Iraq, which gave infinitely less support to Osama bin Laden than did Saudi Arabia, and which posed no threat to the United States.

Alan Murray cannot explain anymore than anybody else what processes of logical reasoning would lead one from 911 to attacking Saddam Hussein--hence "profoundly affected."

He goes on:

Saddam's capture provides Mr. Bush an opportunity to try again. At his news conference Monday, the president sounded more subdued but continued to insist that rebuilding contracts shouldn't go to French or German contractors. "The idea of spending taxpayers' money on contracts to firms that didn't participate in the initial thrust -- that's not something I'm going to do," he said....

Which leaves one scratching one's head. "Firms... participat[ing] in the initial thrust" into Iraq? I was unaware that the 3rd Infantry and 101st Airmobile divisions were subsidiaries of Bechtel or Halliburton. This is damned weird. Yet Murray passes over it without comment. In fact, up above he had asserted that Bush had not invaded Iraq "to win booty for Texas corporate cronies." But if you wanted a sentence to support a claim that that was first on Bush's mind, could there be a better sentence than the one in which Bush asserts that taxpayers' money should be given to firms that took part in the initial push into Iraq? How does Murray wish us to read this--truly bizarre--statement by Bush? I cannot tell.

And then we come to Alan Murray's punchline:

With Saddam out of the way, attention will turn back to Osama bin Laden, and the terrorists he spawned. Unlike Saddam, bin Laden's power involves more than fear and greed. His followers believe in their cause. Success in the battle against them can't be won by having the most weapons or the biggest treasury. Ultimately, it must be won by convincing the world that there is a clear line between good and evil, and that the U.S. is on the right side of the line. To do that, the Bush administration needs to pay more attention to the symbols that the world is watching...

I think this means "the invasion of Iraq was a big mistake that has undermined our progress in the real War on Terror." But I'm in California--the column is written too much in elliptical Washingtonese for me to be sure.

Posted by DeLong at December 17, 2003 08:56 AM | TrackBack

Comments

Alan Murray seems to think that succumbing to the court of public opinion is a greater tool in fighting terrorism than the military arsenal that the U.S. possesses. But OBL and his ilk will always hate us just as they hate all modernity.

Our military might has kept Al Quaeda relatively quiet, especially in this country.
It has shown that to attack the U.S. is done at one's own peril.


Posted by: Jack on December 17, 2003 09:20 AM

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Alan Murray seems to think that succumbing to the court of public opinion is a greater tool in fighting terrorism than the military arsenal that the U.S. possesses. But OBL and his ilk will always hate us just as they hate all modernity.

Our military might has kept Al Quaeda relatively quiet, especially in this country.
It has shown that to attack the U.S. is done at one's own peril.


Posted by: Jack on December 17, 2003 09:21 AM

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Alan Murray seems to think that succumbing to the court of public opinion is a greater tool in fighting terrorism than the military arsenal that the U.S. possesses. But OBL and his ilk will always hate us just as they hate all modernity.

Our military might has kept Al Quaeda relatively quiet, especially in this country.
It has shown that to attack the U.S. is done at one's own peril.


Posted by: Jack on December 17, 2003 09:21 AM

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Funny how with some pundits every conclusion and every theory can be fielded other than simply W does not know what he is doing, and his trusted underlings have a) run amok and b) warring with each other.

In other words, any explanation other than W is at fault in any way will be put out there no matter how tortured the logic.

It is all so tiresome.

Posted by: Alan on December 17, 2003 09:46 AM

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TV show hosts suffer from a conflict of interest of sorts: they must be seen as "balanced" in order to retain the ability to attract "important" guests from both parties, otherwise ratings suffer. This presents a problem when the truth of the moment happens to be one-sided. TV hosts do not live or die by the sharpness of their analysis (like op-ed writers) but by the draw of VIPs they can bring on their show.

Posted by: Arun Garg on December 17, 2003 09:59 AM

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I take Murray's column at face value. He says Bush needs to pay more attention to public relations efforts in other countries. I don't see where his column took a position for or against the Iraq war.

Bush has already explained how he was moved by 9/11. He has re-emphasized that 9/11 demonstrated the enormous risk from far-off terrorists, because of the combination of their hatred and the horrifying power of modern weapons. Bush says concerns about the Saddam's potential WMD programs made it urgent to overthrow him. One doesn't have to agree with Bush to understand his point.

Perhaps this reasoning seems odd to Kevin because Bush is focusing on avoiding future attacks, not just punishing the perpetrators of past attacks.

Posted by: David on December 17, 2003 10:26 AM

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"With Saddam out of the way, attention..." will turn to establishing a new government in Baghdad. The out with the old portion of regime change is a much easier task than in with the new. Osama done been forgotten.

""It was the act of a president who feels the heavy burden of leading the world's only superpower;" Knowing that thousands died and he the president bore the ultimate responsiblity for protection. The burden of that failure was great.

"who was profoundly moved by the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001." Quite frankly, they scared the bejeezus out of him. In his fright he turned to his anger and unleashed the wrath of the US military to settle an old score against his long time foe, Goddam Saddam.

"Unlike Saddam, bin Laden's power involves more than fear and greed..." But Murray is wrong. The fear is not the American fear of death or injury in a risk-free society. The greed is not the greed of the Bush cronies for gold. Bin Laden followers fear humiliation. The same fear and humiliation that drove Mr. Bush after 9/11, the same fear and humiliation that drove the tragedy at Columbine drives the Quaeda. Their greed is not for the gold but for the power. They are engaged in a greedy pursuit to restore false pride by humiliating the humiliators. They long for revenge and will stop at nothing until their greed is ended.

"Ultimately, it must be won by convincing the world that there is a clear line between good and evil, and.." The endless cycle of humiliating the humiliators is the true self perpetuating evil that is so difficult to stop.

The world sees "the U.S. is on the right side of the line" when it stands for peace. When it acts to stop the cycle of endless retaliations- in N Ireland, in Kosovo and once upon a time in Israel. But that was another administration.....

Posted by: bakho on December 17, 2003 11:12 AM

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"Bush says concerns about the Saddam's potential WMD programs made it urgent to overthrow him. One doesn't have to agree with Bush to understand his point."

Huh. There were no WMDs in Iraq. Iraq was completely and utterly contained, and there were inspectors in Iraq. It is not conceivable that Iraq could have threatened America. Ninety billion dollars spent and 544 lives lost by coalition soldiers and 2600 American soldiers wounded. The war's cost was needless. We were lied to over and over about the threat of WMDs from Iraq.

Posted by: emma on December 17, 2003 11:13 AM

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David says: Perhaps this reasoning seems odd to Kevin because Bush is focusing on avoiding future attacks, not just punishing the perpetrators of past attacks.

My question is, who are you talking to? Who is Kevin?

Posted by: halle on December 17, 2003 11:20 AM

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I'm also mad at Shrub for ignoring Afghanistan (and Pakistan, for that matter.) HOWEVER, it seems to me that part of the problem is that Shrub, who is proud of his abilities as a delegator, delegated Afghanistan off to NATO. Which large multilateral Euro-centric body has been dealing with the day to day challenges of the place about as well as the EU deals with their member-states' deficits, efforts to draft a constitution, (For the EU, not for Afghanistan) and securing religious liberty for all -- Muslims and Jews in particular. Were Shrub as good a CEO as he'd like to think, he'd hve fired the NATO bunch in Afghanistan and turned the job over to somebody else.

I'm not sure who. This is why I'm not running for the office...

HOWEVER, the problems with getting three measly NATO helicopters to troops in Afghanistan, the problems with moving out of Kabul and into the country-side, the problems of offering up a good model constitution to the Karzai team ... makes me wonder about Kerry and others who would invite the UN/EU/NATO bunch into Iraq to "help" with reconstruction there.

SEATO, now... Given the Aussie experience in East Timor I wouldn't mind having THEM and THAT bunch as part of the coalition. Oh. Wait a minute...

Posted by: Pouncer on December 17, 2003 11:30 AM

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Jack wrote "Our military might has kept Al Quaeda relatively quiet, especially in this country.
It has shown that to attack the U.S. is done at one's own peril."

Utter bullshit.

Al Quaeda's medium-term operational capability was crippled by the excellent work of a number of secret police forces, in Europe as well as the US.

The US military has helped by supporting the Northern Alliance defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan, who by providing a safe base area for training recruits, but if you look at the number of al-Quaeda captured by secret police vs number captured by the army, I think the secret police win.

As well "relatively quiet" ... as compared to when ?

On the other hand, a possibly apocryphal phrase keeps running in my mind from a JI-type in Indonesia 'I'm a jihadi, and I encourage people towards Jihad against the Americans. I knew about Osama bin Laden, but before September 11, I had never heard of Al Quaeda'.

The problem is a bunch of Islamist networks who are prepared to use terror - groups who are loosely affiliated, but dont have the sort of direct command-and-control links that are easy to disrupt and track back.

All in all, it's much easier to just attack a State you dont like, rather than do the spook-intensive grunt work in Riyadh and on the old North-West Frontier.


Posted by: Ian Whitchurch on December 17, 2003 11:34 AM

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Of course Mr. Murray can't explain what "profoundly affected" means in this context. We can't look for reasoned arguments where they do not exist; emotional judgements are always made in a vacuum of logic.

The sophomoric statement: "This job is a magnificent job, because you have a chance to use the position of the United States to achieve peace and freedom," reveals how innapropriately personal Mr. Bush can be.

By phrasing his views in a "me, my job" context, Mr Bush has once again revealed his predisposition toward leading (or as he would have us believe, managing) the nation based on his own personal agenda.

The President of The United States does not have a "chance" to use the position of the nation - this isn't an opportunity to prove something. The President has the very serious responsibility of directing our nation's unique power and influence.

Posted by: rsb on December 17, 2003 11:56 AM

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Excellent. Especially on the fact that Halliburton et al. did not fight the war - soldiers did. But then maybe we should pass a special tax on the profits received from these Iraqi contracts with the proceeds going to the families who lost their loved ones and the soldiers who were wounded. You think Bush might propose that soon?

Posted by: Harold McClure on December 17, 2003 12:02 PM

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http://www.nytimes.com/2003/12/16/opinion/16KRUG.html

Patriots and Profits
By PAUL KRUGMAN

Last week there were major news stories about possible profiteering by Halliburton and other American contractors in Iraq. These stories have, inevitably and appropriately, been pushed temporarily into the background by the news of Saddam's capture. But the questions remain. In fact, the more you look into this issue, the more you worry that we have entered a new era of excess for the military-industrial complex.

The story about Halliburton's strangely expensive gasoline imports into Iraq gets curiouser and curiouser. High-priced gasoline was purchased from a supplier whose name is unfamiliar to industry experts, but that appears to be run by a prominent Kuwaiti family (no doubt still grateful for the 1991 liberation). U.S. Army Corps of Engineers documents seen by The Wall Street Journal refer to "political pressures" from Kuwait's government and the U.S. embassy in Kuwait to deal only with that firm. I wonder where that trail leads.

Meanwhile, NBC News has obtained Pentagon inspection reports of unsanitary conditions at mess halls run by Halliburton in Iraq: "Blood all over the floors of refrigerators, dirty pans, dirty grills, dirty salad bars, rotting meat and vegetables." An October report complains that Halliburton had promised to fix the problem but didn't.

And more detail has been emerging about Bechtel's much-touted school repairs. Again, a Pentagon report found "horrible" work: dangerous debris left in playground areas, sloppy paint jobs and broken toilets.

Are these isolated bad examples, or part of a pattern? It's impossible to be sure without a broad, scrupulously independent investigation. Yet such an inquiry is hard to imagine in the current political environment — which is precisely why one can't help suspecting the worst....

Posted by: jd on December 17, 2003 12:15 PM

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Fatalities

American soldiers 320
British soldiers 20
Coalition soldiers 32
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372 Since May 2

American 459
British 53
Coalition 32
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544 Since March 20

Wounded

American soldiers ~2622 Since March 20

Note: American forces have fallen to 130,000
British forces have risen to 12,000
Coalition forces have risen to 12,000

Posted by: lise on December 17, 2003 01:34 PM

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http://costofwar.com/

Cost of War in Iraq:

$90,700,000,000

Posted by: lise on December 17, 2003 01:36 PM

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Huh. There were no WMDs in Iraq. Iraq was completely and utterly contained, and there were inspectors in Iraq. It is not conceivable that Iraq could have threatened America. Ninety billion dollars spent and 544 lives lost by coalition soldiers and 2600 American soldiers wounded. The war's cost was needless. We were lied to over and over about the threat of WMDs from Iraq.

Posted by: emma on December 17, 2003 11:13 AM

Emma, I'm surpised you know that there aren't any WMDs in Iraq. Our intelligence community believed Saddam had them and those UN weapons inspectors you point to also believed that Saddam likely had WMD. I am very glad that you've been able to establish that we were all hoodwinked.

I'm also relieved to know that we had Iraq totally contained. I'm glad that nobody could carry anything in and out of Iraq without our explicit knowledge. Your abilities must be the reason Brad is claiming that going after Saddam was such a bad idea.

Saddam did have tons of money and if he did have WMD and a way to get them out of the country, he might actually have been able to take advantage of Bin Laden. Bin Laden probably does enjoy us going into Iraq for its short term implications, but it might well put a crimp on things if we actually leave a better Iraq behind. But, hey what does this all matter! Saddam had no WMD and we had him under complete control.

Posted by: Stan on December 17, 2003 02:36 PM

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Well, we're partway there. We have certainly convinced al Qaeda that "there is a clear line between good and evil."

Posted by: Zizka on December 17, 2003 02:37 PM

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He said in his news conference Monday: "This job is a magnificent job, because you have a chance to use the position of the United States to..." payback your friends with deals and tax cuts.

Posted by: bakho on December 17, 2003 03:11 PM

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Stan - you observed that our Intel community told us that they believed Saddam had WMDs that Saddam might use against us. Did they really believe that - or were they told by their superiors to tell us that they believed that? Or then again - did we hear from their superiors that the patriotic Americans in the Intel community believed that? All I know is that Gen. Zinni claimed his bombing raids in late 1998 took out much of Saddam's WMDs and the the forces under Gen. Franks have yet to prove him wrong.

Posted by: Harold McClure on December 17, 2003 03:21 PM

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"Emma, I'm surpised you know that there aren't any WMDs in Iraq. Our intelligence community believed Saddam had them and those UN weapons inspectors you point to also believed that Saddam likely had WMD."

Interesting switch to the past tense there.

Posted by: Anno-nymous on December 17, 2003 05:47 PM

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Stan, just about everyone believed -- at the time we went in -- that Saddam did at least have chemical and biological weapons, although he might not be as close to acquring the Bomb as the Bushites kept insisting. So why the hell did the US military, afer sweeping over the country, drag its feet for literally WEEKS in sequestering and checking out the sites where such WMDs were though likely to be -- especially since the CIA had warned Bush 6 months before that Saddam's most likely action when we invaded would be either to use his CBWs against us or to give them (or threaten to give them) to Al-Qaida? (His failure to do either was the first hint I had that he had been bluffing and actually didn't have CBWs anymore.)

The US military's failure to move as fast as possible against possible Iraqi WMD sites -- indeed, to move AT ALL for weeks -- is just another manifestation of the really appalling incompetence of this administration, and at some point during the continuing worldwide war against megaterrorism it is going to get us in very, very serious trouble. (My guess is in either Iran or Pakistan, and quite possibly this year.)

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on December 17, 2003 06:38 PM

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The Bush administration may have hard intelligence supporting the use of Iraqi WMDs being readied for al-Queda or for Iraqi intelligence masquerading as al-Queda. And they might also have hard intel of the 9/11 attack as coming from Iraq. But if so, they haven't shared that information with us. So it's a question of who do you believe.

But we're not reduced to sheer emotionalism and left-right prejudice. There is plenty of evidence that Saddam had worked on getting WMDs, including nukes, for over 20 years, that he was making progress, that Iraq had chemical weapons and some missile delivery systems, and most importantly, that Saddam would actually use WMDs on real live humans if he ever got his hands on a complete system.

Furthermore, there is plenty of evidence that the enormous amount of oil money would continue to be available to fund the weapons efforts, and that the sanctions were falling apart due to violations by Syria and European countries (including Germany and Russia) and also due to a worldwide anti-sanctions movement that was getting away with making absurd claims about half a million dead Iraqi children having been starved to death. (Where are the millions of skinny children that were supposed to be on the verge of starvation?)

And we also had plenty of evidence that Saddam supported and funded Terrorism in the West Bank and Gaza and kept Abu Nidal in good shape for a long time.

So it was painfully obvious that Saddam was going to attack somebody in a big way in the near or middle term future. We didn't know whether it would be Kuwait, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Israel or the US. But Saddam was headed toward potent and portable WMDs and had proved that he would use them on civilian populations.

What's "imminent" anyway? If you're talking about massive civilian casualties and the disruption of the entire mideast (meaning the disruption of world oil supplies and the world economy) then you want to give yourself more lead time than for smaller cataclysms.

All this was brought into stark clarity by the example of 9/11 showing how the US and indeed the world was vulnerable to a small band of terrorists. Would Saddam be so bold and crazy and evil that he would provide a planeload of WMD's for some terrorist group to fly into Riyadh, Tel Aviv, Washington, or Tehran? You bet he would.

It became abundantly clear to anyone with a brain that Saddam had to be taken down in the near future. The regime of sanctions and no-fly zones and inspections was not going to hold much longer. And certainly would not hold indefinitely.

George Bush clearly said that the lesson he learned from his fathers Presidency was that you should use your "Political Capital" when you have it, as it will not last. So once it became clear that Iraq had to be taken down, the best time might be now.

Now I don't understand why the Bush Administration decided to piss off the entire UN and insult almost all of Europe and take the unilateralist road. I suspect that the French, Germans, and Russians were so tied in to Iraq financially that they could never decide to take it down; but that's just me.

So I think we can see the "Real reasons" for the invasion of Iraq, even if the public statements of the Bush administration don't quite add up to a coherent explanation.

The claims that Saddam was "Contained" are simplistic even though there is a grain of truth to them. The grain of truth just wasn't big enough. When Saddam got out of his cage, his container, there would be hell to pay. And we couldn't just wait until he died, as his sons would carry on after him.

Much has been made of the fact that "The inspections were working". Well, it's clear now that the inspections would have been extended indefinitely as the inspectors just wouldn't have found much. And the only reason they were allowed to inspect at all is that the USA had a large Army stationed in Kuwait acting as a gun held to Saddams head. Without that gun to his head, Saddam reliably stonewalled and evaded.

Much has also been made of the fact that the WMD's just don't exist. But we don't know that. We know we haven't found them yet. And we do know they did exist. And we also know that Saddams claim that he destroyed them secretly is completely absurd, as he could have stopped the sanctions and no-fly zones by destroying them in front of those inspectors. Is Saddam crazy enough to have destroyed them in secret anyway, I suppose so, but who's life should we have bet on this?

The invasion of Iraq could have been put off a year or two, and the diplomatic environment could have been oh so much smoother, but Congress might not have agreed in a year or two.

It must be admitted that there is a real loss to the USA in creating the impression that the USA has left the community of nations and has decided to ignore the consensus of the developed world and completely disdains world opinion and the views of the undeveloped world. And I don't think a lot of Americans understand the depth of this alienation, yet.

On the other hand, if all goes well in Iraq, which is by no means certain, the most amazing result will not be that democracy has been introduced to an Arab country that used to be a dictatorship, nor that peace and prosperity reign in the middle east, but that George W. Bush will go down in history as a courageous world statesman who risked all to stand alone (or nearly alone) to save the world. A Napoleon of Peace from Texas.

Posted by: Warren on December 17, 2003 06:44 PM

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Some posters said that the UN inspectors (and did they mean also the IAEA inspectors?) believed that Irq had WMD. I do not beleive that this assertion is much too strong. Hans Blix of the UN, and the IAEA, did not make such unequivocal assertions. The main question, as I remember, on biological and chemical WMD was the absence of Iraqi documentation of destruction of existing stocks. The stocks didn't seem to be there, but there was inadequate documentation of their destruction.

There was also significant controversy among the WMD community. Scott Ritter was an ex-inspector who said that the claims of WMD were groundless.

Posted by: jml on December 17, 2003 07:06 PM

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Scott Ritter is a flake.

Richard Butler believed Saddam had WMD stockpiles.

David Kelly believed that Saddam had WMD stockpiles and that invasion was justified.

Rolf Ekeus believed that Saddam could at least regenerate CB weapons rapidly, and that the invasion was justified.

Posted by: me on December 17, 2003 08:20 PM

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Warren wrote: "There is plenty of evidence that Saddam had worked on getting WMDs, including nukes, for over 20 years, that he was making progress, that Iraq had chemical weapons and some missile delivery systems"

No, Warren. We had no such evidence. Nobody did. Saddam was not "making progress" in accumulating any chemical, biological or nuclear weapons, and he had not for years.

"So it was painfully obvious that Saddam was going to attack somebody in a big way in the near or middle term future"

Nonsense. He had nothing to attack with, something that was becoming increasinly clear at the time we went to war. The rest of your post was equally suspect. There is not one shred of evidence to support any of your assertions.

Saddam was not a danger to us or to anyone in the region. The war has been nothing but a distraction from the real war on terror, which still remains to be fought.

Posted by: PaulB on December 17, 2003 08:53 PM

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I second PaulB's comments.

In addition, it must be pointed out that chemical weapons aren't truly weapons of mass destruction. I wrote a brief review of an article on this here:
http://www.truthandpolitics.org/cgi-bin/html_gen?entryId=77

Posted by: Stephen J Fromm on December 18, 2003 12:50 AM

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Paulb wrote that there is no evidence to support my assertions. Take a look at the fas.org web site.

A summary: http://www.fas.org/irp/cia/product/dci081103.html

On the role of sanctions:
http://www.fas.org/news/iraq/1998/05/980524-in.htm

One of many descriptions of Iraqi nuclear development programs:
http://www.fas.org/nuke/guide/iraq/facility/tarmiya.htm

For a list of the weapons that the world knew Saddam had, see UNSC resolution 687 of 1991, especially points 6 through 9:
http://www.fas.org/news/un/iraq/sres/sres0687.htm

I'll let you find SC resolution 1441 of 2002 on your own.

You can also study the links on page:
http://fas.org/nuke/guide/iraq/
especially
http://fas.org/nuke/guide/iraq/deception.htm.

For an overview of Iraqs nuclear programs over time:
http://fas.org/nuke/guide/iraq/nuke/program.htm

I also especially recommend this UN report which describes both some successes in destroying prohibited materials (of an unstable and dangerous nature) but goes on to describe the endless games of lying and obstruction that Saddam was playing with the UN inspection teams in the mid-1990's. Obviously, something was going on that Saddam knew he had to hide. And some of that was discovered:
http://fas.org/news/un/iraq/s/s1996-848.htm.
The report contains details of blocking of inspections and interviews, of destruction of materials found, but not of the things that Saddam successfully hid (how could it?).

A Richard Butler talk of 1999 indicates Saddams continued rejection of inspections and the role that various outsiders played in protecting Saddams WMD programs:
http://www.fas.org/news/iraq/1999/08/990817-in1.htm

Remember, I'm not arguing Iraq had nukes on a 45-minute standby, I don't know where that idea came from. I'm arguing Saddam spent decade after decade and billion after billion to create the whole panopoly of WMD capability, and that this was going to eventually come to fruition, resulting in massive human casualties. 'Cause if he had 'em, he'd use 'em.

The only ways to prevent the acquisition and use of WMDs by Saddam were 1) invade or 2) keep the sanctions and no-fly zones and inspections going for the next 50 years, which also means keeping a US army in Kuwait for the same amount of time.

The bulk of the evidence of repeated instances of deception uncovered and numerous blockages of inspection can only mean that the current lack of discovery of WMDs is almost certainly a failure to find them, not that they do not exist. While some of the best evidence of WMD programs points to activities before the 1991 Gulf War, the extended 12-year effort by Saddam to thwart the inspections and weapons-destructions from 1991 to 2003 clearly point to ongoing efforts to develop WMDs and their delivery mechanisms.

Further, if Paulb wanted to support his claim of "no shred" of evidence of any of my assertions, he'd also have to argue that Saddam didn't support Palestinian Terrorism.


Posted by: Warren on December 18, 2003 02:12 AM

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To Ian:

If these police are so "secret," how do you know about them?

There have been no terrorist attacks on U.S. soil since 9/11.

When the U.S. responds with force, especially in the Middle East, (Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq) the U.S. is by and large safer.

Jack

Posted by: Jack on December 18, 2003 06:58 AM

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The only ways to prevent the acquisition and use of WMDs by Saddam were 1) invade or 2) keep the sanctions and no-fly zones and inspections going for the next 50 years, which also means keeping a US army in Kuwait for the same amount of time.

Posted by: Warren on December 18, 2003 02:12 AM

Warren, this is the place where the German,French, Russian, and Chinese claims that we were in too much of a rush lose all of their luster. Those troops were sitting targets for Bin Laden's pathologies, and were just as effective in Bin Laden's recruitment campaign as an actual invasion. (Of course, so were the sanctions.) The costs of maintaining the troops in readiness were very high and large numbers of sitting troops don't exactly make tons of friends. Any historian worth a grain of salt knows this very well. The strains on Kuwait would have been very hard to sustain.

Saddam knew very well that we couldn't stay in that position for very long. The French, Germans, Russians, and Chinese knew the same thing. Everybody working on this knew that we were setting tight deadlines because of the problems remaining in that position would create. It still appears that we were not concilitory enough toward the Security Council holdouts. My impression is that some in the Administration underestimated how high the costs were going to be. Our attempts to exclude them from contracting may be an an indication that we offered a ton and the holdouts remained too tied into Iraq to ever take it down as you suggest.

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Some posters said that the UN inspectors (and did they mean also the IAEA inspectors?) believed that Irq had WMD. I do not beleive that this assertion is much too strong. Hans Blix of the UN, and the IAEA, did not make such unequivocal assertions. The main question, as I remember, on biological and chemical WMD was the absence of Iraqi documentation of destruction of existing stocks. The stocks didn't seem to be there, but there was inadequate documentation of their destruction.

There was also significant controversy among the WMD community. Scott Ritter was an ex-inspector who said that the claims of WMD were groundless.

Posted by: jml on December 17, 2003 07:06 PM

jml, as "me" pointed out most of the various inspectors believed Saddam still had CBWs. We know for a fact that Saddam did have them as late as 1998. I believe most people following the issue were scepticle of nuclear claims since nuclear development is so much harder to hide. This fact totally undermines claims that the inspections were working or that anybody following them (i.e., the Security Council holdouts) really thought they were.

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Stan, just about everyone believed -- at the time we went in -- that Saddam did at least have chemical and biological weapons, although he might not be as close to acquring the Bomb as the Bushites kept insisting. So why the hell did the US military, afer sweeping over the country, drag its feet for literally WEEKS in sequestering and checking out the sites where such WMDs were though likely to be -- especially since the CIA had warned Bush 6 months before that Saddam's most likely action when we invaded would be either to use his CBWs against us or to give them (or threaten to give them) to Al-Qaida? (His failure to do either was the first hint I had that he had been bluffing and actually didn't have CBWs anymore.)

The US military's failure to move as fast as possible against possible Iraqi WMD sites -- indeed, to move AT ALL for weeks -- is just another manifestation of the really appalling incompetence of this administration, and at some point during the continuing worldwide war against megaterrorism it is going to get us in very, very serious trouble. (My guess is in either Iran or Pakistan, and quite possibly this year.)

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on December 17, 2003 06:38 PM

Bruce, we went in very light. There were complaints about the size of the command when we invaded. The light units appeared to work very well at cutting through the Iraqi military. It appears that they were not so good at securing the area once we got through. This fact appears to have been made worse by command mistakes. Having multiple conflicting goals with lower than normal manpower would tend to make it hard to fulfill all of those goals effectively. This doesn't prove that the Administration didn't believe there were CBWs. It does suggest that preparations could have been better as you have stated.

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Nonsense. He had nothing to attack with, something that was becoming increasinly clear at the time we went to war. The rest of your post was equally suspect. There is not one shred of evidence to support any of your assertions.

Saddam was not a danger to us or to anyone in the region. The war has been nothing but a distraction from the real war on terror, which still remains to be fought.

Posted by: PaulB on December 17, 2003 08:53 PM

PaulB, your post is nonsense. It does not take a lot of anthrax to cause a lot of problems. There was no indication that Saddam had gotten rid of the weapons we knew he had. The inspections were not working and your assertion that we or anybody else thought they were is totally false. It is contracticted entirely by THE FACT that the inspectors themselves have stated publically that they believed Saddam had CBWs.

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Emma, I'm sorry for the nature of my post. I hope I did not offend you. I did not intend my response to read so poorly. My apologies.

Posted by: Stan on December 18, 2003 07:31 AM

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To believe Saddam was a threat you have to argue that the sanctions were not working and that is obviously incorrect.

Saddam was a toothless tiger that had no ability to project his power beyond his own borders. He was not even powerful enough to control all of his own country as the Kurds were an independent country for all pratical purposes.

What about the latest statement by Bush, that it does not make any difference whether or not Sadam had WMD?

I still have to go with the case that the invasion of Iraq was a massive misdirection of
limited military resources that could have done much more good if they had been used in Afghanistan and other places. The question still remains of whether the occupation of Iraq makes the US more secure or otherwise improves us interest. I expected the type of warfare we are now seeing in Iraq, and that was one reason I opposed the war. The argument about WMD seem irrelevant now. The argument is has the war made the US better off or more secure-- and I think the answer is no.

Posted by: spencer on December 18, 2003 09:51 AM

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Jack, we are only 2 years past 9/11. How many years went after the first WTC attentate without a clear OBL inspired attack in the USA?

DSW

Posted by: Antoni Jaume on December 18, 2003 11:51 AM

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Stan wrote: "PaulB, your post is nonsense."

Sorry, Stan, but my post was accurate.

"It does not take a lot of anthrax to cause a lot of problems."

The operative words here are "danger" and "threat," Stan. Our little anthrax poisoner caused us quite a bit of inconvenience and a couple of deaths. That was not a danger or a threat to the United States. Neither was Saddam.

"There was no indication that Saddam had gotten rid of the weapons we knew he had."

Actually, there was. We had the testimony of our own inspectors and the testimony of an Iraqi whom we trusted. We also had such things as shelf life, the difficulty of weaponization, etc., working in our favor.

"The inspections were not working"

To the contrary, the inspections, both earlier in the 1990s and later in 2002-3, were working precisely as we had hoped they would.

"and your assertion that we or anybody else thought they were is totally false."

I'm sorry, but you are simply factually incorrect. Our own CIA department said that Saddam Hussein was not a threat. The assessment of the foreign intelligence agencies was that Saddam was not a threat. The assessment of just about everyone except the U.S. and the British, both of whom "sexed up" their dossiers, was that Saddam was nowhere near the development of a nuclear weapons program. And on and on.

"It is contracticted entirely by THE FACT that the inspectors themselves have stated publically that they believed Saddam had CBWs."

No, Stan, that isn't what they said. They said that Saddam had not provided sufficient proof that he had completely destroyed them. There is an enormous difference.

Posted by: PaulB on December 18, 2003 12:22 PM

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Warren wrote: "The bulk of the evidence of repeated instances of deception uncovered and numerous blockages of inspection can only mean that the current lack of discovery of WMDs is almost certainly a failure to find them, not that they do not exist."

Oh, nonsense. You could get away with crap like that six months ago. That line of thinking is no longer operative. We've been there too long, interviewed too many people, all of whom have consistently stated the same things, investigated too many sites, invested too much time. If they were there, we'd have found *something*. Face it, Warren, there's nothing there. And we knew that was the case prior to the war.

"Further, if Paulb wanted to support his claim of "no shred" of evidence of any of my assertions, he'd also have to argue that Saddam didn't support Palestinian Terrorism."

Sigh...this comment alone reveals your lack of understanding. It isn't worth the time to debate with you. I leave you to this fantasy world you've created.

Posted by: PaulB on December 18, 2003 12:30 PM

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Warren wrote: "The bulk of the evidence of repeated instances of deception uncovered and numerous blockages of inspection can only mean that the current lack of discovery of WMDs is almost certainly a failure to find them, not that they do not exist."

Oh, nonsense. You could get away with crap like that six months ago. That line of thinking is no longer operative. We've been there too long, interviewed too many people, all of whom have consistently stated the same things, investigated too many sites, invested too much time. If they were there, we'd have found *something*. Face it, Warren, there's nothing there. And we knew that was the case prior to the war.

"Further, if Paulb wanted to support his claim of "no shred" of evidence of any of my assertions, he'd also have to argue that Saddam didn't support Palestinian Terrorism."

Sigh...this comment alone reveals your lack of understanding. It isn't worth the time to debate with you. I leave you to this fantasy world you've created.

Posted by: PaulB on December 18, 2003 12:31 PM

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Brad, you’re really being silly here. The logical threat of a terrorist supporting state, developing and getting WMDs and distributing them to terrorist groups, is extremely strong. Especially after 9/11. Iraq was such a state, it was already in violation of prior agreements as of 98 when Saddam booted inspectors but Clinton wimped out of enforcement (certainly afraid of no-action Reps). You don’t add it here, but Bush has stated that supporting dictators, in order to maintain some (immoral) stability, has not kept America safe. This is the biggest, most profound shift of any president since FDR, at least.

If you disagree with the logic of using force, your disagreement basically means accepting terrorist supporting states developing WMDs (like No. Korea & Iran & Iraq). Plus, either (a) claiming that Evil state possession is no additional threat to the US. Or, (b) that even if there is a greater threat, there is no legal way to stop it, and that obedience to such UN international law is more important than reducing risks by force. Like the Dem ostrich dwarves, believing somebody other than Bush can use jaw, not waw, to stop WMD development. Despite strong evidence to the contrary.

I do NOT believe that brand of snake oil. I do NOT believe (a)—I think that Evil state possession IS a bigger threat. I think (b) is more nuanced, and that current UN law does say there is no (UN) legal way to stop threats for which there is no UNSC resolution; thus, no No. Korea or Iran invasion due to a lack of UNSC resolutions. But Iraq has been violating UNSC resolutions, and did, illegally, attack Kuwait—this seems a pretty strong (UN) legal justification for the idea that going after Iraq is not (UN) illegal.

I also don’t think it good that if WMDs in a dictatorship are a big threat to a democracy, there is no legal recourse other than UNSC approval of using force. This seems so obvious to me that I get upset at the Angry Left on Iraq.

PaulB, you basically claim Iraq was not a threat, and was contained. Do you also claim so for No.Korea and Iran? What will it take for you to change your mind?

I claim they ARE threats. I would change my mind if they had free speech (I don't require elections).

Posted by: Tom Grey on December 19, 2003 09:16 AM

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No, Stan, that isn't what they said. They said that Saddam had not provided sufficient proof that he had completely destroyed them. There is an enormous difference.

Posted by: PaulB on December 18, 2003 12:22 PM

PaulB, that is NOT correct. The official report stated that Saddam had provided insufficient evidence to prove destruction of WMDs. In this way the report basically said there is no reason to think he actually got rid of any. Contrary to your continued assertions however, most of the former inspectors did in fact personally state that they felt Saddam had WMDs. They, and most of the world paying any attention, certainly believed he had them. That FACT is totally contrary to everything you've written.

Warren provided a long list of links to information supporting what he has written. The information contradicts everything you've written. For instance, you state:

"To the contrary, the inspections, both earlier in the 1990s and later in 2002-3, were working precisely as we had hoped they would."

CIA Director, George Tenet in his defense of the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) posted by Warren above states:

"Building upon ten years of analysis, intelligence reporting, and inspections that had to fight through Iraq’s aggressive denial and deception efforts, including phony and incomplete data declarations to the UN and programs explicitly designed with built-in cover stories, the Intelligence Community prepared the NIE on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. In it we judged that the entire body of information over that ten years made clear that Saddam had never abandoned his pursuit of weapons of mass destruction." http://www.fas.org/irp/cia/product/dci081103.html

The resolution initially creating UNSCOM states:

"The Commission's mandate is the following: to carry out immediate on-site inspections of Iraq's biological, chemical and missile capabilities; to take possession for destruction, removal or rendering harmless of all chemical and biological weapons and all stocks of agents and all related sub-systems and components and all research, development, support and manufacturing facilities; to supervise the destruction by Iraq of all its ballistic missiles with a range greater than 150 km and related major parts, and repair and production facilities; and to monitor and verify Iraq's compliance with its undertaking not to use, develop, construct or acquire any of the items specified above. The Commission is also requested to assist the Director General of IAEA, which, under resolution 687, has been requested to undertake activities similar to those of the Commission but specifically in the nuclear field. Further, the Commission is entrusted to designate for inspection any additional site necessary for ensuring the fulfillment of the mandates given to the Commission and IAEA." http://www.un.org/Depts/unscom/unscom.htm

Thus, as far as anybody following it at the time knew the inspections designed to verify Saddam's compliance were not working. I doubt seriously that anybody following the inspection regimes could have believed that they were actually working. We might find that Saddam may have actually gotten rid of his WMDs. This doesn't change the situation we faced in making a decision about Saddam's plans and potential for harm. It is an amazing irony that Bin Laden isn't a threat under the definition of threat that you are trying to impose on Saddam. I believe that Warren has accurately represented the facts regarding our position with Iraq. I have tried to do so as well.

Posted by: Stan on December 19, 2003 12:55 PM

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Antoni:

The WTC was attacked a second time because OBL and Co. were led to believe that they could strike the U.S. and its interests with impunity. They attacked the U.S.S. Cole and various embassies around the world and we did virtually nothing.

Whether he had WMD or not is irrelevent. Isn't it important that we liberated 20 million people from a brutal dictator that broke a plethora of U.N. resolutions. (That in itself should be reason enough to attack). Who really knows how many hundreds of thousands of deaths he ordered over the years. As the world's only superpower, we have a moral obligation to help when the opportunity presents itself. Those opposed to the war ask why not invade North Korea or Iran. Iran may topple under its own weight and if we did attack N. Korea, those that wondered why we didn't attack would be the first to scream that the attack is illegal.

As far as Iraq not being a danger to it's neighbors, to deny that Israel would disagree with that assertion is to deny reality.

Jack

Posted by: Jack on December 19, 2003 05:38 PM

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