March 08, 2004

The Strange Survival of Ansar al-Islam's Base in Northern Iraq

I'm going to be literally, physically sick. From Kevin Drum:

TOUGH ON TERROR?... A year ago Dan Drezner asked a question: since we knew at the time that (a) Abu Musab Zarqawi and the terrorist group Ansar al-Islam was connected to al-Qaeda, (b) they had camps in the Halabja Valley in northern Iraq, and (c) the area in question was in the American-patrolled no-fly zone and not under Saddam Hussein's control, why not mount an attack on it?

Given the obvious link between achieving this objective and the war on terror, and given the assertions by France and others that credible evidence of a link between Iraq and Al Qaeda would justify use of force, would the Security Council be willing to approve U.S. military action in this area?... This would be an excellent test of where exactly the French and Germans stand. Is their opposition to Iraq based on a blind determination to counter U.S. power, or is there some nuance to their stance?

Unfortunately, it turns out it wasn't France and Germany we had to worry about. It was George Bush:

In June 2002... the Pentagon quickly drafted plans to attack the camp [but]... the plan was debated to death in the National Security Council.... The Pentagon drew up a second strike plan, and the White House again killed it.... The Pentagon drew up still another attack plan, and for the third time, the National Security Council killed it.

Military officials insist their case for attacking Zarqawi's operation was airtight, but the administration feared destroying the terrorist camp in Iraq could undercut its case for war against Saddam.

Unlike Saddam, Zarqawi really was developing poisons such as ricin and cyanide for use in terrorist attacks in the West and elsewhere. But we hesitated to take action because destroying the Ansar al-Islam camps might have been inconvenient for George Bush's speechwriters.

Zarqawi has reportedly killed at least 700 people since then. But it might be many more. We will probably never know for sure how many people died at his hands because of George Bush's uncertainty in the face of danger.

Excuse me. Back from the toilet.

"[B]ut the administration feared destroying the terrorist camp in Iraq could undercut its case for war against Saddam."

If this is true.... Impeach George W. Bush. Impeach Richard Cheney. Try the Bush National Security Council principals for high treason. Do it now.

Posted by DeLong at March 8, 2004 12:23 AM | TrackBack | | Other weblogs commenting on this post
Comments

As we have zero information as to why this decision was made, all we can do is to resort to Internet-style speculation and conspiracy-mongering.

Please proceed.

Posted by: person on March 7, 2004 08:35 PM

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Time for Helen to start asking questions.

Over to you, Helen.

D

Posted by: Dano on March 7, 2004 08:50 PM

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One source is former National Security Council staff member Roger Cressey. There are other, anonymous sources: "military officials."

Posted by: Brad DeLong on March 7, 2004 08:52 PM

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also Michael O’Hanlon, military analyst with the Brookings Institution, treats it as fact. unlike AEI (who employs John Lott with a straight face), Brookings does not like its employees to treat fiction as fact in public. as a result and while we cannot prove anything at this remove, I assume this story is well-sourced.

as to why, who cares? we were already bombing military targets in the north and south of Iraq around that time. if you're already bombing Iraq's military, and it's after 9/11, the idea of not adding an Al Qaeda camp to your bombing runs does sound perilously close to giving aid and comfort to the country's enemies in time of war.

I hear they have an ugly word for that. I seem to remember the principals involved in this putative act spent most of 2002 throwing it around like candy -- mostly at their domestic opposition.

I think that latter behavior is called "projection".

Posted by: wcw on March 7, 2004 09:05 PM

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I repeat: we have no information as to why this decision was made (if indeed it was made, but that appears most probable).

OK, the MSNBC article quotes what appears to be speculation on behalf of unnamed military officials and a defence/security official who was not present at the NSC meetings.

The only responsible reaction to this report is to press for more infomation, not to leap, as an act of bad faith and as a first option, to the most lurid and hyperbolical speculation as Brad and other commenters have done.

Posted by: person on March 7, 2004 09:19 PM

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Seems a bit naive to get sick from this. When haven't these guys behaved incredibly cynically?

Posted by: MattS on March 7, 2004 09:24 PM

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Okay, let me get this straight now:

- George W. Bush is a bastard for failing to kill or capture someone who has taken out 700 people.

At the same time, according to the exact same people:

- George W. Bush is a bastard for taking out Saddam Hussein and Sons, who have dumped 300,000 people into mass graves, and is responsible for the deaths by murder and war of over a million.

Huh?

Anyone else confused here?

And until I hear from the "military officials" themselves on that conclusion, I just see another media smear.

By the way, the Left needs to get its story straight on whether or not Zarqawi is an ally of al-Qaeda or not. Just a couple weeks ago, during the flap where the Left was dismissing that intercepted letter, the same people were insisting that Zarqawi had no al-Qaeda connections, and was just looking for their help.

Posted by: tbrosz on March 7, 2004 09:25 PM

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"Person@place.com": Bush has a track record of lying and opportunism, so the leap required is small. Everything we know tells us that since 9/11 everything he has done with regard to either WMD or terrorism was bent to support his pre-existing plans to attack Iraq while cutting taxes.

Please don't talk about "the only responsible" blah blah blah. In Brad's estimation, based on the evidence, the situation is as he has said, and I agree with him. You presumably have your reasons for thinking the way you do -- -- and so do we.

I think we have an indictment here. No one's convicting anyone. Funny how touchy conservatives have gotten about the rights of defendants recently. Not just Rush "Junkie" Limbaugh.


Posted by: Zizka on March 7, 2004 09:34 PM

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No, Tbrosz, you're the only confused person here, and you're really good at being confused. Kudos.

As I was about to say before "person@place" caught my attention, everything the Bush administration does is geared toward people who don't pay much attention.

I think that the recent resurgence of vigorous trolls here and at Calpundit, though, is a function of the fact that the wheels seem to be coming off Rove's cart. For the first time Bush seems vulnerable. The dam might be bursting.

Posted by: Zizka on March 7, 2004 09:40 PM

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Person

Pressing for more information is a great idea - unfortunately, it seems rather difficult to do with this administration. They have been so remarkably forthcoming in the Plame matter, the "memogate" matter, the Energy Task Force, etc., etc, etc.

Posted by: TexasToast on March 7, 2004 09:45 PM

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I agree with Brad that this would be grounds for impeachment, etc... but mustn't there be more to the story? This is the sort of thing they could have used to precipitate a war in the first place; why, once they had this information, did it take them months of wrangling over WMD before they finally went in?

Posted by: paul on March 7, 2004 09:56 PM

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Exactly why, pray tell, didn't Bush bomb Zarqawi's camp and THEN go on pushing Congress to go to war with Iraq? Well, because that would have been the honest way -- and this administration's attitude toward the honest way bears a close resemblance to the Kingfish's in "Amos and Andy": consider it for about five seconds, and then get into an area they're more familiar with.

But then, this is also why the White House -- after discovering that North Korea had restarted its own very real Bomb program -- deliberately concealed that little fact from Congress for three straight weeks until it had passed the Iraq war resolution, and then revealed it to them within a few hours. Once again, this news would have distracted those silly people in Congress from the obvious fact that we should invade Iraq because we could occupy it, successfully reform it and then leave it again in just a few months for just a few tens of billions of dollars -- and if they couldn't understand that obvious fact, why confuse them with the truth?

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on March 7, 2004 09:57 PM

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Paul, that camp was in the part of Iraq that WE controlled militarily -- NOT SADDAM. Thus, bombing it would not have strengthened the case for war against Saddam at all -- indeed, the nitwits currently in charge of our military destiny apparently decided that it would weaken it.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on March 7, 2004 10:01 PM

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Professor,

Impeachment? Really? Where's the high crime or misdemeanor? Foreign policy dictated by political concerns are fairly commonplace. That this bungle in foreign policy results in deaths

Tbroz, there's no need to be confused. You must know that Zarqawi is Bush's new public enemy No. 1, so, as President, if he fingers a culprit, and it turns out that he could have taken that culprit out but didn't because of ineptitude, then he should held accountable (at the polls). The only connection Powell or the others ever really tried to make between Saddam and OBL was through Zarqawi and those hospital stays in Baghdad that Saddam 'must have known about.' The Saddam connection is suspect, so we've been left with no WMD's and no al Qaeda justification. If Bush is to be believed, with Zarqawi we've got WMD's, al Qaeda plots, Iraqi suicide bomber carnage. At the least, he was and is more of a terrorist threat, and that's what this "war" is all about, right? So, it makes the most sense that taking Saddam but not Zarqawi out was an epic stupid blunder. Hopefully you are confused no more.

Posted by: calvin on March 7, 2004 10:02 PM

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Calvin, I don't think you are helping the confusion issue.

Posted by: tbrosz on March 7, 2004 10:09 PM

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Folks, we should lighten up here. We are not doing anything more harmful (or fraudulent) than FoxNews does every day. We are speculating, sifting information, until something becomes clear. The speculated motives for the administration's inaction about this camp make a lot of sense, but we need more evidence.
Disbelief of official statements is always a healthy thing to do.

Posted by: bobw on March 7, 2004 10:42 PM

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Listen,
Anyone who is read-up on Ansar al Islam can connect the dots for themselves.
1) The existence of the camp was known in 2002
2) The connection with Al Qaeda was accepted as fact by all parties
3) Al Qaeda was our sworn enemy
4)Bush did not act against our sworn enemy
5) The reason does not matter---there is no good reason. If in fact Brad is correct, then the only proper course is to hang Bush for treason.

Posted by: marky on March 7, 2004 11:41 PM

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"Person" does not fall under the heading
'read-up on Ansar al Islam', incidentally.
Saddam was not in control of the area, so he could not have used the site for propaganda purposes.
Just one of many holes in your argument.

Posted by: marky on March 7, 2004 11:44 PM

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The simple truth in life is that one has to have priorities. Apparently getting Musharaff's compliance in going after binLadin is more important than making him twist Khaan in the wind for unleashing with State knowledge nuclear technology on the black market. One can disagree with this, but at least it's a fairly transparent realpolitick and a demonstration of a choice of priorities that Americans could find cause to agree with.

However, failing to go after an Alqueda bad guy because it might momentarily weaken a case for war against Saddam Hussein is a choice that clearly puts the priority of Iraq over the priority of some three thousand Americans crushed and burnt to death in the rubble of the Trade towers on 911. Again, this shows a clear and deliberate choice of priorities. This is not a choice I believe that Americans are willing to support. If the war on terror is the greatest current national priority, then alqueda is public enemy number one. Failing to take action like this outranks the previously monumental blunders of the Clinton Administration by far.

This was a clear cut calculated coldly made decision to devalue the lives of the September 11 victims over the geopolitical foreign policy priorities of the principals involved. At a time when Bush is deciding to run as a war President, I think Americans deserve the right to know what he really cares about - protecting us or protecting his agenda. Apparently it's the latter.

Posted by: Oldman on March 8, 2004 12:37 AM

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"By the way, the Left needs to get its story straight on whether or not Zarqawi is an ally of al-Qaeda or not."

Tbrosz... does this really matter? If Zarqawi posed a threat, there was little cause to wait. Otherwise the administration's procrastination undermines their case for war. Hypocrisy either way.

That being said, I think you're right that there are two arguments conflated here. It will be interesting to see which one gets picked-up by critics of the administration.

Posted by: trevelyan on March 8, 2004 12:37 AM

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Well, person,
you're an idiot.
I could just leave it at that.
As a matter of fact.. *yawn*.
I will.
The crux of the issue was whether
Zarqawi was an agent for SADDAM, not whether he was allied with Al Qaeda or associated with Ansar al Islam.
Get it?
Didn't think so.

Posted by: marky on March 8, 2004 01:13 AM

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person, a part of Bush's case to invade Iraq involved the base in question - see Powell's UN presentation. If we had taken out Ansar, opponents might have said, You've severed the main link you claim to exist between al Qaeda and Saddam - so why invade?

I should note that in the discussion at Tacitus's blog, people who claim relevant military experience argue that a raid on the Ansar base was neither tactically simple, given the usual inaccessible territory; nor politically easy, because the support of the Peshmerga wasn't lined up at the time; nor guaranteed to take out Zarqawi, given the fact that in the 2003 raid some of the militants escaped. One might well argue that the Kurds would have been uninterested in helping to destroy the base in 2002 because it would increase the chance Saddam would survive.

If the article cited is correct, then it calls into question the administration's probity or its responsibility. There's no proof here (yet?), but the possibility is as disturbing as Brad describes.

Posted by: rilkefan on March 8, 2004 01:28 AM

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Powell's speech to the UN - http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2003/17300.htm - he claims Zarqawi is "an associate and collaborator" of OBL and says Saddam has an agent in the upper levels of Ansar. He says Zarqawi is directing a terror network (of which 116 members had been arrested) throughout the Middle East and beyond, with offices in Baghdad - that Iraq is "harboring Zarqawi and his subordinates".

After the speech a European diplomat asked, If the base in question is so dangerous, why don't you take it out? Perhaps we now know why.

Posted by: rilkefan on March 8, 2004 01:38 AM

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The good news is that the FBI is about to make an arrest in the anthrax terror attack:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-0403020250mar02,1,5923469.story?coll=chi-newsnationworld-hed

And the Bush administration is doing everything it can to ensure the mail system is safe from such attacks in the future:

http://www.nj.com/news/times/index.ssf?/base/news-1/1076582159123491.xml

Posted by: Michael Robinson on March 8, 2004 02:42 AM

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The first legitimate cause for impeachment was revealed last May 11 in the Washington Post.

You recall our justification for war was that (a) Saddam had WMDs, and (b) we were afraid they might fall into the hands of terrorists who would use them against us.

What the Washington Post exposed was that Rumsfeld's war plan left no resources for guarding expected WMD sites once our front lines advanced past them, chasing Saddam's soldiers away. As a result, when our special WMD units arrived days later to find out whether WMDs had indeed been present at these sites, they found that the sites had been looted to the ground in the interim.

If WMDs had actually been present, our failure to protect these sites once they were under our theoretical control would have been treasonous. As it is, it's just a major piece of evidence that Bush, Rumsfeld & Co. never believed in the WMDs to begin with, and were simply using that story to scare the rest of us into supporting his war.

If the war had been about WMDs and terrorists, guarding the WMD sites would have been treated as far more important than pushing towards Baghdad.

Here's a link to the Post story: http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&node=&contentId=A40212-2003May10¬Found=true

Posted by: RT on March 8, 2004 03:25 AM

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"As we have zero information as to why this decision was made, all we can do is to resort to Internet-style speculation and conspiracy-mongering."

That military people are willing to go on background is information.

This is at least worth an investigation.

Posted by: Stirling Newberry on March 8, 2004 04:56 AM

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I assume that everyone here who is angry at Bush for not getting rid of Zarqawi is in full agreement that we should immediately bomb targets in North Korea?

What a waste of time: people getting angry when a politician acts like a politician...

Posted by: EcoDude on March 8, 2004 05:19 AM

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Oh please! Haven't we already restored honor and dignity to the White House? How can you possible question the motives of the president? And let's have one more cheer for Old Shoe while we're at it.

Posted by: SW on March 8, 2004 05:38 AM

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EcoDude: so we should just accept total dishonesty and opportunism as just the way politics works? Should we also accept rape and theft as just the way people work? How about accepting the bubonic plague as just the way rats and fleas work?

Posted by: citizen k on March 8, 2004 05:41 AM

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If Ansar Al-Islam was so closely tied to Saddam's regime, then what was it doing outside the part of Iraq beyond Saddam's protection?

Posted by: Bob H on March 8, 2004 05:43 AM

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EcoDude writes:
>
> I assume that everyone here who is angry at Bush for not
> getting rid of Zarqawi is in full agreement that we should
> immediately bomb targets in North Korea?

Why would you think that? A cleanly identified terrorist camp in northern (non-Saddam-controlled) Iraq could be attacked with relatifve impunity and with high chance of success. Such a camp could be made to resemble a greasy grey smudge on the map within hours. Al Qaeda could (of course) then attempt revenge at other places and times of their choosing, and that should be considered, but given that this would just be a continuation of our (then ongoing) campaign to run them out of every harbor they enjoyed in Afghanistan and elsewere, I don't see much additional risk in that move.

Now let's consider North Korea. We can bomb selected nuclear sites in North Korea, but we then stand an excellent chance of rendering much of the Korean peninsula into the same kind of greasy smudge and cost us and our allies thousands (or even more) lives. That's because attacking North Korea is likely to provoke a powerful response from the North Korean military, huge numbers of which are posted thousands of feet of South Korea and US forces on the peninsula.

Shorter argument: if you attack Zarqawi in northern Iraq, your risk is fairly small; if you attack North Koreans in Korea, your risk is absolutely huge and includes the poosiblity of general freaking nuclear war. I can draw a bright line between these scenarios in my mind. Can you?

Posted by: Jonathan King on March 8, 2004 05:48 AM

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This is clearly a bombshell. But will it go off?

Posted by: tstreet on March 8, 2004 06:48 AM

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I am starting to wonder if the committe to re-elect the president has full time "Web Watchers" on contract from now until Nov 4th.
Every comment thread in recent days start off with a super nasty far right screed and degenerates from there.
UG.

Posted by: Scott McArthur on March 8, 2004 07:12 AM

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Why the surprise and indignation? This is just another iteration on a Giovannian list of wholly political responses to problems that required at least a dollop of pragmatism for a solution. 9/11 will not define this administration for the future. Rather, it will be the total monocular politization of governance at every level and with total disregard for the apolitical consequences. Certainly we have amassed enough evidence to date to show this response was almost a given...

Posted by: jim in austin on March 8, 2004 07:37 AM

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It would be terrible if a tacticle decision gave way to a strategic one. By the way, did ya hear the Iraqi's have agreed on constitution. It would be unfortunate if the oil wealth of that nation actually went to Iraqi citezens instead of paying protection money to the UN and Europeans. I love how this blog exposes the left. They are partisan to the core. Logic, outcome, justice, and ideals be damned.

By the way, did you hear the one about Bush and the Israelis getting together on an operation to bring down the towers. They got 19 arabs together ....

Posted by: Brian on March 8, 2004 07:39 AM

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Here we go again.

There are all kinds of contingency plans drawn up, most don't get acted upon. Bush reportedly said he had no intention of firing a two million dollar cruise missile at a $50 tent and hitting a camel in the ass. To take out a terrorist camp you have to put troops on the ground, preferably immediately after bombing them senseless (see Omar Bradley on Operation Cobra). I doubt we had the troops--they don't have to be Americans, as they weren't in Kosovo and Afghanistan.

Besides, aren't all you guys supposed to be angry at Bush for his "rush to war"?

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on March 8, 2004 07:47 AM

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By the way, I think one point about sources should be underscored. The assertion that "the administration feared destroying the terrorist camp in Iraq could undercut its case for war against Saddam" is not Kevin Drum's, not Brad's, but in Miklaszewski's story for NBC News, apparently attributed to unnamed "military officials." That's why the stuff about "Internet-style... conspiracy mongering," "lurid and hyperbolical speculation," and North Korea seems so utterly off point. Brad just quoted a news story and said, "If this is true...." Crazy man, quoting the news. Why does he hate America?

On the other hand, I'm not yet prepared to hang Bush for treason. See? fair and balanced.

Posted by: Mark Lindeman1 on March 8, 2004 07:55 AM

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Scott may be right. There's a guy named keiser at Kevin Drum who hijacks half the threads single-handed. He makes the old trolls with fake names (e.g. "al" @ "none@none.com") look feeble.

"person@place.com", "dude@dude.com", "none@none.com", "a@b.com" -- isn't there a pattern there?

NEW REPUBLICAN TALKING POINTS

1. The Democrats are just as bad.
2. We're not evil, just incompetent.
3. John Kerry was a draft-dodging coward and war criminal who ate other people's pizzas and has lots of evil money.

Posted by: Zizka on March 8, 2004 08:02 AM

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"It would be terrible if a tacticle decision gave way to a strategic one."

If we were talking about a tactical opportunity being declined in favor of an overriding MILITARY strategy you might have a leg to stand on...

Posted by: jim in austin on March 8, 2004 08:02 AM

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Why does Bush have this phobia about camels? Is it really true that he's not willing to do ANYTHING that Clinton ever did?

Posted by: Zizka on March 8, 2004 08:05 AM

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Bush's comment about the missile and the camel was his synopsis of his own position on OBL before 9-11. Somehow, Bush apologists trumpet this with pride - "Our guy didn't care about taking out Osama until he killed 3000 Americans!"

Anyway, I don't think that this flip comment really qualifies as official admin policy, but if it did, that's no defense. In case neither Patrick nor Bush is intelligent enough to comprehend this, the target of the missile in question was neither the tent nor the camel. It was the man most responsible for killing 3000 Americans. Is that not worth a $2 million missile? As for those troops on the ground, Patrick, I seem to recall a lot of self-congratulation by the White House when Predators took out terrorists in Yemen, without a soldier within 100 miles. Care to get your ignorant, defensive spin internally consistent?

Your last sentence, btw, is beneath contempt. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the matter at hand, and only shows how either stupid or desperate you are. A non sequitur from a non-thinker.

Posted by: JRoth on March 8, 2004 08:06 AM

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The rationale for removal is already clear.
http://www.tomfairlie.com/home/2004/03/impeachment_may.html

Posted by: Tom Fairlie on March 8, 2004 08:15 AM

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"so we should just accept total dishonesty and opportunism as just the way politics works?" -- citizen k

Citizen K makes a good point. Usually, arguments that politicians are utility-maximizing agents go unheeded or are outright denigrated, so it's nice to see some recognition that it is indeed a possible phenomenon (without having to accept all the tenents of any particular school of thought, e.g. public choice).

Jonathan King makes a very good point about arguing the costs and benefits of invading North Korea. My point was that if Presiden Bush is a warmonger (and the possibility exists) then why haven't we invaded to date?

Posted by: EcoDude on March 8, 2004 08:24 AM

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"Calvin, I don't think you are helping the confusion issue."

Undoubtedly, tbrozs. The Lord willing, Bush will go down flaming in utter ignominy, ridicule, and defeat, and you'll be there, confused the whole way about why anyone would question the judgment of the man whom the right wing has christened as some sort of lower apostle. (Thanks to J. Conrad for that turn of phrase.)

I see no hypocrisy here. Very few of us opponents of the trumped-up invasion of Iraq--I refuse to call this aggression a "war"--I daresay have any problem with an honest prosecution of the so-called War on Terror, with force if necessary, so long as it is effective and directed against the correct targets. If this accusation is true, Bush squelched a potential focussed assault on a known terrorist in favor of a hamfisted, messy, and completely irrelevant grudge match years in the planning against the man who tried to kill his Daddy. Do you, seriously, not know the difference? I lay long odds that you do but hold on to your rhetorical confusion because, well, that's what apologists like you do.

I choose to apply Ockham's Razor here: the most concise explanation of a detailed accusation of fecklessness proffered by at least one credible witness against a President with a history of deceit and incompetence is that Bush indeed did this thing. On the other hand "person" offers nothing but the blind faith that Bush must have had a good reason, because Bush is a lower sort of apostle &c. Of course this charge needs corroboration, but the apologists assume without basis that none must exist. It doesn't wash, I fear.

Posted by: Ernest Tomlinson on March 8, 2004 08:24 AM

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Ernest:

"The Lord willing, Bush will go down flaming in utter ignominy, ridicule, and defeat, and you'll be there, confused the whole way about why anyone would question the judgment of the man whom the right wing has christened as some sort of lower apostle."

Bookmark this one, good buddy, and save it for November. The link is right there at the bottom of the main posting.

Posted by: tbrosz on March 8, 2004 08:42 AM

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"My point was that if Presiden Bush is a warmonger (and the possibility exists) then why haven't we invaded to date?"

Well, currently a sizable portion of our migrant military low-fruit pickers are busy with the Mesopotamian cash crop. Secondly, almost every scenario I've seen projects hundreds of thousands, if not millions of casualties within the first few days of a full conflict. Given the current and future levels of North Korean oil production, even our Preznit can calculate this ROI...

Posted by: jim in austin on March 8, 2004 09:04 AM

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Don't you people have any historical memory whatsoever? This was less than two years ago.

What was happening in June of 2002?

Democrats were complaining loudly that Bush was rushing them into war against Iraq--without 'sufficient debate'.

We were beginning the long process of finding out that the French would resist a war even though they believed that Saddam had WMD.

So, at this very sensitive diplomatic moment, at the very time when Democrats were complaining about being pushed into war, you wanted a major attack inside Iraq?

Or perhaps you think bombing would have been enough, because you don't realize that this 'camp' was a small city? Come-on guys.
And upthread comments to the contrary, this area of Iraq was not controlled by the US. It was a no-flight zone, so Saddam couldn't fly aircraft through it to attack nearby Kurds, but we did not control the area. I typically don't like to link to my own site, but I do have a rather long discussion of concerns surrounding the decision at the time here .

Posted by: Sebastian Holsclaw on March 8, 2004 09:04 AM

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I think that the hypothesis that the RNC is or will place trolls on sites such as this is quite plausible, given that it is so low cost. It is difficult, however, to see what the benefit would be, since the readership is largely self-selected and can discriminate between hacks and purveyors of honest disgreement. This isn't television. The only problem here is occasional onslaughts of reactionary spam.

Posted by: knut wicksell on March 8, 2004 09:25 AM

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" Patrick, I seem to recall a lot of self-congratulation by the White House when Predators took out terrorists in Yemen, without a soldier within 100 miles. Care to get your ignorant, defensive spin internally consistent?"

We missed Saddam at least twice, with human intelligence on the ground. We missed Osama at least once. Who knows, we might have had drones looking for this guy too, and just didn't find him. Or the drone could have been shot down (they're slow).

However, you apparently haven't read very carefully: "The Strange Survival of Ansar al-Islam's Base" and: "In June 2002... the Pentagon quickly drafted plans to attack the camp "

Not, "try to assassinate" an individual.

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on March 8, 2004 09:25 AM

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I am glad that my weak words / Have struck but thus much show of fire from tbrosz. At least you don't seem as confused. And I agree with your implicit point: George W. Bush has too few scruples to allow himself to lose an election.

Posted by: Ernest Tomlinson on March 8, 2004 09:26 AM

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I don't understand the logic that supposedly was operating here. How would destroying a terrorist camp in Iraq have undercut the case for war against Saddam? Do we really think that if we had destroyed Zarqawi's camp, people would have said, "Well, that's done, so there's no reason to take out Saddam?" Surely the Bushies could have made a convincing argument that terrorists are like roaches -- if you see a few, you can be sure that there are many.

In any case, opponents of the war have always argued that there was no meaningful connection between Saddam and anti-American terrorists. So again, how would demolishing an anti-American terrorist camp in Iraq (even if it was in the no-flight zone) have made the case for war weaker?

Posted by: Steve Carr on March 8, 2004 09:45 AM

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Sebastian- you are really, really, REALLY missing the point.

We were bombing Hussein's defenses in the no-fly zones months before one 'coalition' soldier crossed into Iraq.

We had the capability to strike that camp. We didn't do it.

Now suddenly, the guy who directed that camp is our new boogyman.

Posted by: Demise on March 8, 2004 10:07 AM

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I think that a lot of people, including people in the military and intelligence services, have reached the tipping point with Bush. (Or for traditionalists, the straw that broke the camel's back, or the horseshoe nail that lost the battle). He's just lost the benefit of the doubt.

What that means is that people leap to negative conclusions quicker, and make a big deal about things that might not really be that big a deal.

Is that irrational? No. Earlier people had been giving him the benefit of the doubt, so they were letting things slide that they probably shouldn't have let slide, and minimizing things that really were pretty important. That's how politics works.

In other words, people are changing thier default settings. There's no rigorous algorithm for when it is rational to change your default settings. That's pretty much by definition -- when you're sure about everything, you don't need default settings. You just set things to the correct value.

To me the people who are embarassing themselves are the ones who are refusing to change their settings. We've had plenty of time to figure Bush out, and a lot of moderate Republicans, libertarians, and responsible conservatives are giving up on the guy.

The motives of Bush loyalists these day seem to be limited to blind partisanship (which has perhaps been bought) and free-floating, unexamined anger directed at liberals, homosexuals, feminists, environmentalists, and Muslims. It often coexists with misinformation and ignorance.

Posted by: Zizka on March 8, 2004 10:37 AM

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No Demise, you are working under the assumption that this was a little installation that could be secured from the air. It wasn't. It would require an invasion.

Posted by: Sebastian Holsclaw on March 8, 2004 10:59 AM

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Sebastian, as you say this wasn't a little installation - but as subsequent events showed, we were able to take out the camp with special forces and the locals.

Imagine for a moment the occupation of Iraq without the bloody attacks on the UN headquarters in Baghdad and the Imam Ali Mosque in Najaf.

Posted by: rilkefan on March 8, 2004 11:21 AM

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Couldn't use locals before the war. They were Kurds, and we were in negotiation with Turkey at the time.

Posted by: Sebastian Holsclaw on March 8, 2004 11:26 AM

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The Gipper would have bombed that base... 'course, compared to Reagan, Bush Jr. is a wimp.

Posted by: Unseelie on March 8, 2004 12:17 PM

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"Ansar al-Islam was officially created on September 1, 2001. Taking control of a mountainous enclave of villages near the town of Halabja, the group resides not far from the Iranian border in the northeast of the country. Estimated to have roughly 200 men, the band of fighters have expressed their desire to impose an Islamic state in the Kurdish territories of northern Iraq. Their disdain for and armed conflict with secular Kurdish parties in these parts is only slightly surpassed by their fierce hatred for Saddam and his years of anti-Kurdish (and secular) policies in the area."
http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/EB15Ak01.html

Alleged connections to al-Qaeda are still pretty flimsy, the connections to Washington (http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/CHO302B.html) would appear to hold as much or more water, and there was reason to be skeptical of claims that they were producing chemical weapons, little evidence was offered at the time, but cyanide and ricin production are simple operations that don't have much of a footprint.

Ansar al Islam is fighting for an Islamic Kurdish state in Northern Iraq, they've been involved in heavy fighting with the PUK in Kurdish controlled areas. At the same time the USG did use this as evidence that Saddam was harboring terrorists, an absurd claim on the face of it because the organization was Kurdish and hated Saddam.

There was no public talk about attacking a terrorist enclave that was essentially an island amongst hostile powers - that is, except for the protection they recieved under the US/UK no-fly zones and possible assistance from Iran, it's logical ally. The US could have wiped this enclave out with little trouble: the PUK and KDP would have been happy to cooperate against their mutual enemy; we had military stationed in Northern Iraq long before the war; Turkey doesn't enter into the equation, as obviously the US had been backing the autonomous Kurdish governments for over a decade already and this would have been little more than an extension of that; and it was apparent long before we invaded and while the administration was still using this as "evidence" that Turkey wasn't coming along for the ride.

Should we have attacked the camp? I don't know, if there really was CW production going on - and apparently there was - it would have taken little effort on our part to shut it down. Without CW production it was an Islamist terrorist group attacking our secular allies in Northern Iraq, and it still might have made sense to assist in shutting down the organization. A low risk enterprise with immediate payoff, unlike, say, the wholesale occupation of the entire country.

Posted by: buermann on March 8, 2004 12:23 PM

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A follow up on Ziska's point about blind partisanship and Tbroz's vague statements about the left. It is easy to combine statements or points made by different people into contradictory positions. I don't know that any one "leftie" held all of those posisitions of Tbroz's at once. It is easy however to find people on the right, like Mark Racicot, of the Republican National Committee, who can combine mutually contradictory positions often in one sentence. For example when he characterizes Kerry as an extreme liberal who flip flops on the issues.

Obviously one characteristic of an extremist, and an idealogue, is that they are always, absolutely, blindly consistent . No matter what the circumstance they say the same thing. So to be both an extreme liberal and one who flip flops on the issues is a mutually contradictory statement. One could say Kerry is a pragmatic liberal who flip flops on the issues but then he could not be characterized as "out of touch."

The problem is deeper than blind partisanship. It is the spread of extremism, or the sort of idealogical blinders that prevents any form of rational thought or any connection to reality. And this, I believe is the real weakness of the Bush campaign. They have trouble connecting to reality, and this is why their supporters sound so shrill and out of touch. They appear to be people willing to believe anything, and to say anything, no matter how limited their knowledge base.

Wasn't it Lincoln who said you could fool some of the people all of the time, all of the people some of the time, but that you can't fool all of the people all of the time. Lincoln, by the way, is someone who is a joy to read in that as a politician he was both incredibly logical and one who "flip flopped" on the issues. (As in his position on slavery).

Posted by: Lawrence Boyd on March 8, 2004 12:32 PM

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Couldn't use locals before the war. They were Kurds, and we were in negotiation with Turkey at the time.

Sebastian, you may have hit on a further point of explanation. While it would have been quite easy to hit the base in alliance with Kurdish troops, and without Turkish consent, to do so might well have killed the negotiations over bringing Turkey into the war - of course, they failed in the end anyway, but Bush didn't know that at the time.

Posted by: John on March 8, 2004 12:39 PM

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Brad, please ignore all morons and impeach away. As for me, I like the hanging thing.

Posted by: John H. Farr on March 8, 2004 01:23 PM

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Someone mentioned something about the Gipper having the courage to hit the camp. Unfortunately, that's not the case. In a very familiar scenario, Reagan had the opportunity to hit a Hezbollah camp in Lebanon which trained the very terrorists that hit the Marine base in Beirut, but chickened out.

See the "Frontline" episode "Target America," about the war on terror in the 80s. It's very interesting. After a U.S.-sponsored act of terrorism succeeded in killing 80 civilians, but not the Shiite mullah we were targeting, Reagan took another strategy: appeasement. That is, selling arms to the terror masters in Iran in exchange for the release of hostages.

Ah, those tough Republicans.

Posted by: Amitava Mazumdar on March 8, 2004 01:26 PM

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Hey Amitava!

The Reagan adminstration didn't commit any acts of terrorism. When we arm terrorists, mine harbors and blow up a nightclub or two, it's "geopolitical pragmatism."

if it was terrorism, Reagan, Ollie North, Elliot Abrams, Robert McFarlane, et al would be in prison. Terrorism is against the law here, ya know.

Posted by: Odin on March 8, 2004 05:55 PM

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Sullivan: "Here we go again. There are all kinds of contingency plans drawn up, most don't get acted upon. Bush reportedly said he had no intention of firing a two million dollar cruise missile at a $50 tent and hitting a camel in the ass. To take out a terrorist camp you have to put troops on the ground, preferably immediately after bombing them senseless (see Omar Bradley on Operation Cobra). I doubt we had the troops--they don't have to be Americans, as they weren't in Kosovo and Afghanistan.

"Besides, aren't all you guys supposed to be angry at Bush for his 'rush to war'?"

Christ, there he goes again:

(1) Most of us are angry only at Bush's rush to this particular war -- namely, the one against Saddam, at a time when it was actually a distraction and a resource bleed from the more crucial theaters of the larger worldwide war against megaterrorism. (Starting, I may add, with Iran.)

(2) Let me see if I understand this: because we couldn't both bomb AND invade Zarqawi's camp, we should refrain from bombing it. Right. Much better instead to put off even bombing it until Zarqawi and his followers had folded their tents and silently slipped away completely to other unknown environs (along with God knows what poisons they had managed to whip up there in the meantime).

(3) Those unnamed "military officials" in the NBC report said that the White House decided to refrain from bombing it precisely because such an attack might actually SUCCEED in destroying Zarqawi's efforts there, thereby removing one rationale for invading Iraq by demolishing a very large chunk of Al Qaeda's work within Iraqi territory without even having to attack Saddam. (Incidentally, I remain awestruck by the extent to which this administration has managed to alienate the US military, at a time when the military and the GOP had seemed to be as closely and irreversibly joined politically as a pair of Siamese twins.)

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on March 9, 2004 02:02 AM

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Sullivan (again):

'However, you apparently haven't read very carefully: 'The Strange Survival of Ansar al-Islam's Base' and: 'In June 2002... the Pentagon quickly drafted plans to attack the camp.'

Not, 'try to assassinate' an individual."

True. It is, of course, tremendously easier to flatten a camp via bombing than to assassinate one specific individual. Which makes it even weirder that the White House kept refusing Pentagon requests to do the latter.

In short, Custer Sullivan has now also managed to shoot himself in the OTHER foot before the Indians even arrive.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on March 9, 2004 02:09 AM

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And, to quote Sullivan yet again:

"To take out a terrorist camp you have to put troops on the ground, preferably immediately after bombing them senseless (see Omar Bradley on Operation Cobra). I doubt we had the troops--they don't have to be Americans, as they weren't in Kosovo and Afghanistan."

In that case, why the hell didn't we acquire the troops? We had 10 months to do it; and we had complete control of Iraqi airspace in that area -- which means that we could very easily have annihilated any attempt by the Iraqi army or any other local military forces to interfere with such a raid. (On the one previous attempt by the Iraqi Army to carry out military operations in that area when the US didn't want them, we used our control of the air to force that army unit into surrender almost instantly, and with almost no shooting.) One can readily understand why those "military officials" are described in the article as thinking that the White House's failure to carry out any action whatsoever against Zarqawi's camp was just plain dotty.

Not that it's any dottier than the extremely well-documented failure of the US to occupy and inspect the various sites in Iraq where WMDs were likely to be stored, for WEEKS after the Iraqi army had collapsed -- although those WMDs were supposedly the entire reason for the war. Or, for that matter, that it's any dottier than Rumsfeld's personal behavior during the war and its aftermath; he would have made Captain Queeg uneasy.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on March 9, 2004 02:20 AM

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Some here have speculated that action to eliminate the camp would have alienated Turkey and others. I am curious, though, if it is truly a War on Terror, why this matters. Bush said in his State of the Union that we "will not ask for a permission slip to defend ourselves." If that this is what everything hinges upon, why didn't we act upon the only real piece that could be reliably linked to the war on terror? This is especially troubling given the aforementioned lack of military support to guard the imaginary stockpiles of WMD upon taking over the country. Their own NIE report in 2002 said that it was doubtful that Hussein had any WMD, and that the only risk of sending any weapons to terrorists was if he felt an imminent regime change invasion. Thus, it seems we not only brought about the very conditions for the possibility of passing along WMD to terrorists, but that we seemed ill-prepared to stop it upon assuming control of the country. This seems like a bad way of doing things.

It seems that the two biggest reasons for invading were the two weakest, and that the administration is trying to blame intelligence failures and to shift the argument to one of "liberation." I want to give them the benefit of the doubt, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to do so, unless I truly am missing something. What is the ultimate goal here? Is this truly PNAC ideology becoming manifest? Yikes.

Posted by: killthebuddha on March 9, 2004 06:46 AM

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> I assume that everyone here who is angry at Bush for not getting rid of Zarqawi is in full agreement that we should immediately bomb targets in North Korea?

Yeah, because apples are especially orangey these days.

Posted by: ahem on March 9, 2004 06:47 AM

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Actually, DeLong didn't quote the parts of Dan Drezner's original message that most back up DeLong's comments about the idiocy of the Bushites for opposing an attack on the Ansar Al-Islam camp:

"Now, this piece makes two things clear. First, contrary to many skeptics' assertions, there is an Al Qaeda presence in Iraq. Second, it's also clear that Saddam Hussein has little to do with this presence. At worst, Hussein's policy on Al Qaeda might be characterized as benign neglect -- he's not helping them but he doesn't mind them being in parts of Iraq he can't control. There might be other reasons to support regime change in Iraq, but the Al Qaeda connection is a weak reed.

"However, there's military action short of regime change. At a minimum, the Post story would seem to justify an offensive to knock out Ansar al-Islam and retake the Halabja Valley. This leads to an intriguing question. Given the obvious link between achieving this objective and the war on terror, and given the assertions by France and others that credible evidence of a link between Iraq and Al Qaeda would justify use of force, would the Security Council be willing to approve U.S. military action in this area? [So you think this would be an acceptable substitute to a whole-scale invasion?--ed. No, I still support an invasion. But securing Security Council support for this phase of operations might be an good stop-gap proposal].

"This would be an excellent test of where exactly the French and Germans stand. Is their opposition to Iraq based on a blind determination to counter U.S. power, or is there some nuance to their stance?"

RETAKE THE HALABJA VALLEY. So Drezner wasn't proposing just a bombing run against the camp -- he was proposing a troop attack to "retake the valley" and keep Ansar al-Islam from ever reentering it. That is, he thought there was no practical military reason why such a troop attack was impossible (as I keep saying) -- and that therefore any French and German opposition to this would prove their bad motives. But, instead, the White House itself refused any such attack for 10 straight months -- for reasons apparently having nothing to do with any belief on its own part that such a troop operation was unworkable.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on March 9, 2004 10:48 AM

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I hope this Time Magazine interview inspires confidence in Field Marshall von Moomaw:

----------quote----------
Kerry: I think George Bush rushed to war without exhausting the remedies available to him, without exhausting the diplomacy necessary to put the U.S. in the strongest position possible, without pulling together the logistics and the plan to shore up Iraq immediately and effectively.

Time: And you as Commander in Chief would not have made these mistakes but would have gone to war?

Kerry: I didn't say that.

Time: I'm asking.

Kerry: I can't tell you. . . .

Time: Obviously it's good that Saddam is out of power. Was bringing him down worth the cost?

Kerry: If there are no weapons of mass destruction--and we may yet find some--then this is a war that was fought on false pretenses, because that was the justification to the American people, to the Congress, to the world, and that was clearly the frame of my vote of consent. I said it as clearly as you can in my speech. I suggested that all the evils of Saddam Hussein alone were not a cause to go to war.

Time: So, if we don't find WMD, the war wasn't worth the costs? That's a yes?

Kerry: No, I think you can still--wait, no. You can't--that's not a fair question....

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on March 9, 2004 01:54 PM

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Yep -- he has a tendency to hem and haw and equivocate. (As also noted by Eric Alterman.) Which, of course, still leaves us -- as I've said -- with the question of whether a certain president who stubbornly and constantly ignores all the facts in order to follow his prejudices is better.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on March 9, 2004 08:11 PM

____

Turns out that, when you actually read that "Time" interview, Kerry hems and haws in it much less than he's done on some previous occasions. Now, let's look at the parts of the interview that Patrick mysteriously left out:

TIME: And you as Commander in Chief would not have made these mistakes but would have gone to war?
KERRY: I didn't say that.

TIME: I'm asking.
KERRY: I can't tell you.

TIME: Might the war have been avoided?
KERRY: Yes.

TIME: Through inspections?
KERRY: It's possible. It's not a certainty, but it's possible. I'm not going to tell you hypothetically when you've reached the point of exhaustion that you have to [use force] and your intelligence is good enough that it tells you you've reached that moment. But I can tell you this: I would have asked a lot of questions they didn't. I would have tried to do a lot of diplomacy they didn't.

TIME: You would have asked more questions about the quality of the intelligence?
KERRY: Yes. If I had known that [Iraqi exile leader Ahmed] Chalabi was somebody they were relying on, I would have had serious doubts. And the fact that we learn after the fact that that is one of their sources disturbs me enormously.

TIME: As a Senator, could you not have asked that question?
KERRY: We asked. They said, Well, we can't tell you who the sources are. They give you this gobbledygook. I went over to the Pentagon. I saw the photographs. They told us specifically what was happening in certain buildings. It wasn't.

TIME: You were misled?
KERRY: Certainly by somebody. The intelligence clearly was wrong, fundamentally flawed. Look, the British were able to do a two-month analysis of what happened to their intelligence. This Administration wants to put it off to 2005. It's a national-security issue to know what happened to our intelligence. We ought to know now.

TIME: Obviously it's good that Saddam is out of power. Was bringing him down worth the cost?
KERRY: If there are no weapons of mass destruction— and we may yet find some—then this is a war that was fought on false pretenses, because that was the justification to the American people, to the Congress, to the world, and that was clearly the frame of my vote of consent. I said it as clearly as you can in my speech. I suggested that all the evils of Saddam Hussein alone were not a cause to go to war.

TIME: So, if we don't find WMD, the war wasn't worth the costs? That's a yes?
KERRY: No, I think you can still—wait, no. You can't—that's not a fair question, and I'll tell you why. You can wind up successful in transforming Iraq and changing the dynamics, and that may make it worth it, but that doesn't mean [transforming Iraq] was the cause [that provided the] legitimacy to go. You have to have that distinction.
________________________

By that last comment, he was saying, of course, that the fact that you may occasionally win a stupidly chosen battle through sheer luck does not mean that it was not a stupidly chosen battle. (I presume most of you can understand what Kerry was saying without an explanation, but with Patrick you never know.)


Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on March 9, 2004 08:22 PM

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A note from Prof. Mark Kleiman (complete with links):
http://www.markarkleiman.com/archives/george_bush_and_campaign_2004_/2004/03/politics_starts_at_the_waters_edge.php

"When Kevin Drum pointed to the NBC News story about the Bushites having passed up a chance to bag a major terrorist group in the fall of 2002, appparently in order to avoid weakening political support for the eventual invasion of Iraq, I didn't comment because I didn't have anything to say that wasn't obvious, and expected to see an avalanche of commentary from people more knowledgeable than I am.

"But aside from Fabius at Tacitus, who thinks there is no longer any reason, after this story, for War on Terror hawks to vote for Bush, I've seen virtually no mention of what I would have expected to be a major scandal.

"Another story Kevin noticed that no one else seems to have picked up: the Bush team is asking the Sharon government to stall on withdrawing from Gaza until after the elections, because they're worried that violence unleashed by the withdrawal might be bad for Bush's popularity."

(That second story, by the way, comes originally from CBS.)

As Kleiman says, after awhile you just get numb to this stuff, because the extent of this administration's perfidy and incompetence seems unbelievable to anyone who didn't live through either the Nixon or the Harding Administration. Personally, I'm beginning to seriously consider the possibility that Bush is working for the Illuminati.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on March 9, 2004 10:39 PM

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Bruce, I agree. You are numb.

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on March 10, 2004 08:17 AM

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Bruce, I agree. You are numb to this stuff:

" he was saying, of course, that the fact that you may occasionally win a stupidly chosen battle through sheer luck does not mean that it was not a stupidly chosen battle."

We defeated Saddam "through sheer luck"! Our military strength--which we wouldn't have had if Kerry had had his way during his Senatorial career--had nothing to do with it.

Keep up the good work.

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on March 10, 2004 08:20 AM

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Long John in 1997:

http://justoneminute.typepad.com/main/2004/03/get_your_kerry_.html

------------quote-------------
Kerry praised the Clinton White House for thumbing its nose at our European allies.

"Clearly the allies may not like it," said the top Democrat, before suggesting that France and Russia were spineless.

"Where's the backbone of Russia, where's the backbone of France, where are they in expressing their condemnation of such clearly illegal activity?" he railed.

Kerry also praised the White House for giving the United Nations the brush-off.

"The [Clinton] administration is leading. The administration is making it clear that they don't believe that they even need the U.N. Security Council to sign off on a material breach because the finding of material breach was made by [U.S. weapons inspector Richard] Butler."
------------endquoote---------

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on March 10, 2004 08:25 AM

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"Bruce, I agree. You are numb to this stuff:

" 'he was saying, of course, that the fact that you may occasionally win a stupidly chosen battle through sheer luck does not mean that it was not a stupidly chosen battle.'

"We defeated Saddam 'through sheer luck'! Our military strength--which we wouldn't have had if Kerry had had his way during his Senatorial career--had nothing to do with it.

"Keep up the good work."

Er, Patrick (again): What he was saying (and I was afraid I'd have to explain this to you) is that the fact that we may possibly, through sheer luck (and despite the Bush Administration's frantic efforts to massively underspend on this) succeed in reforming Iraq politically -- and that Saddam was a mass-murdering bastard -- is hardly adequate justification in itself for expending such a massive share of our military strength (and prestige) on this war. Particularly, I may add, when there is an excellent chance that we really WILL need to fight elsewhere in the very near future -- which we now can't, thanks to what might be called the Iraq Pollyannas in the Bush Administration. (See Fred Kaplan in "Slate": http://slate.msn.com/id/2095671 .)

The official reason, and the only reason, that the Bushites gave us for launching the war was that they knew beyond any doubt whatsoever that Iraq was awash in ready-to-use biological and chemical weapons -- when in reality it had virtually no such weapons of any type -- and that Saddam had a very active nuclear program (on which they were flatly and deliberately lying, as George Tenet confirmed again yesterday in his Congressional testimony on how Cheney's little group "pipelined" misleading information past the CIA to influence White House policy-making). Like DeLong, I was dumb enough to believe them at the time, which was why I supported the war at the beginning. Live and learn. My first suspicions arose when, after crushing the Iraqi army, the US spent weeks dawdling around without even bothering to occupy and inspect most of the places in Iraq where CBWs might be stored (see the series of Washington Post articles on the subject).

As for the literally absolute dishonesty and idiocy of Bush's charge two days ago that Kerry voted to "sap the strength of our intelligence services": see Fred Kaplan's piece yesterday in "Slate" ( http://slate.msn.com/id/2096874/ ).


Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on March 10, 2004 01:23 PM

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Typo on my part: the first of those two Slate pieces is by Timonthy Noah, not Kaplan.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on March 10, 2004 01:25 PM

____

Incidentally, Patrick, do you have any actual response to Kleiman, "Fabius" and company? I'm waiting...

And, regarding Kerry's support of Clinton for giving the UN Security Council "the brushoff" (for which there is an excellent case): in that speech of Kerry's a few days ago on his overall defense strategy that I recommended you read (did you ever get around to it?), he expressly does not say that the US should have waited for permission from the UN Security Council -- or from France -- before attacking Iraq. What he DOES say is that the Bush Administration is now stupidly resisting attempts to get the UN involved in the reconstruction of Iraq -- on which point the decidedly non-dovish Fareed Zakaria is in full agreeement with him. (See Zakaria's recent Newsweek column.)

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on March 10, 2004 02:02 PM

____

He who gives up freedom for security deserves neither.

Posted by: StoweBerns Lindsey on May 2, 2004 05:46 PM

____

He who has a thousand friends has not a friend to spare,And he who has one enemy will meet him everywhere.

Posted by: Ruta Domenica on May 3, 2004 04:36 AM

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He who gives up freedom for security deserves neither.

Posted by: Powers Dave on May 20, 2004 04:22 PM

____

The best solution against abortions is education, not snipers.

Posted by: Klein Sarah on June 3, 2004 10:08 AM

____

I do not fear computers. I fear lack of them.

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