October 30, 2005

Quote of the Day

The mistake on the question of WMD in Iraq has led many to complain that the United States was drawn into the war under false pretenses, that what began as self-defense has morphed into nation building. Welcome to the reality of war. It is neither predictable nor tidy. This generation of Americans was spoiled by the quick-and-clean Operation Desert Storm, in 1991, when the first President Bush adhered to the mission, freed Kuwait, and brought home the troops. How would Iraq look today if George H.W. Bush had changed that mission on the fly and ordered a march to Baghdad and the overthrow of Saddam? The truth is, wars are fluid things and missions change. This is more the rule than the exception. It was true in Vietnam, and it is true in Iraq today.

The early U.S. objective in Southeast Asia was to stop the spread of communism. With changes in the relationship between the Soviet Union and China and the 1965 suppression of the communist movement in Indonesia, the threat of a communist empire diminished. Unwilling to abandon South Vietnam, the United States changed its mission to self-determination for Vietnam.

The current President Bush was persuaded that we would find WMD in Iraq and did what he felt he had to do with the information he was given. When we did not find the smoking gun, it would have been unconscionable to pack up our tanks and go home. Thus, there is now a new mission, to transform Iraq, and it is not a bad plan. Bush sees Iraq as the frontline in the war on terror -- not because terrorists dominate there, but because of the opportunity to displace militant extremists' Islamist rule throughout the region. Bush's greatest strength is that terrorists believe he is in this fight to the end. I have no patience for those who can't see that big picture and who continue to view Iraq as a failed attempt to find WMD. Now, because Iraq has been set on a new course, Bush has an opportunity to reshape the region. "Nation building" is not an epithet or a slogan. After the attacks of September 11, 2001, it is our duty...The stakes could not be higher for the continued existence of our own democracy and, yes, for the significant matter of oil. We are not the only nation dependent on Persian Gulf oil. We share that dependency with every industrialized nation on the planet. Picture those oil reserves in the hands of religious extremists whose idea of utopia is to knock the world economy and culture back more than a millennium to the dawn of Islam.

Bush's belief that he can replace repression with democracy is not some neoconservative fantasy. Our support of democracy dates from the founding of our nation. Democracies are simply better for the planet. Witness the courage of the Iraqi people who shocked the world and defied all the pessimists by showing up to vote in January 2005, even with guns pointed at their heads. The enemies of freedom in Iraq know what a powerful message that was to the rest of the Arab world, otherwise they would not have responded by escalating the violence.

--Richard Nixon's SecDef, Mel Laird, writing in F.A, well explicating the stakes at play and the hollowness of the 'No WMD!' cries of outrage.

Posted by Gregory at October 30, 2005 10:44 AM | TrackBack (0)

"...'No WMD!' cries of outrage....."

I think you miss the point, at least as far as I am concerned. Lying the American people into war - or anything else for that matter - is a gross miscairage of the responsibilities and duties that come with being the POTUS.

And given revelations regarding "those sixteen words" and Wilson/Plame and the generally skimpy - patheticly skimpy - evidence presented pre-war that Saddam had possession of threatening weapons, I concluded long ago that we were indeed lied into war. Of course it is possible that the Bush team is a pack of deaf and blind drooling clinically paranoid idiots and that they actually did fear Saddam and did believe that crap about "mobile germ labs". However, as incompetent as the team is, I still see lying as the most likely answer.

So that is one issue; the damage done to this democracy when its elected officials lie to the people about the most serious decisions that the country can make.

That issue becomes melded with the "democracy building in Iraq" issue - at least in my mind - because people like you bend over an take the lying because the vasoline of "democracy building" makes you sort of enjoy the experience.

I think Bush and friends need to be called to account for their actions leading up to the invasion of a sovereign nation that was not attacking us or our interests.

I am more concerned with building a better democracy here in the United States. Building one in Iraq does nothing to impact our domestic situation. And it is costly and uncertain process that could fail miserably just as probably as it might result in something vaguely positive.

Posted by: avedis at October 30, 2005 12:56 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

So, if I understand this correctly, it is a fact of war, and not the people behind the war, that a war's rationale changes over time. And it would be "unconscionable" to stop the war we're engaged in when we find out that the reason we went into war is non-existent. Why? Because war is this metaphysical thing that magically morphs itself, without any external influence, into having a new raison d'etre.

Mr. Laird may well be able to use a freshman's course in logic and deductive reasoning...

Posted by: dm at October 30, 2005 01:31 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

No, he knows what he's doing. Just like all of those Republicans I've met, who'd never, in a thousand years, support any large-scale war for human rights. A small, short, sweet Marine in-and-out, perhaps, but nothing beyond that. As demonstrated by the fact that there was no outpouring of GOP demands for a Rwandan intervention, and that the GOP opposed the Kosovo/Bosnia interventions. And that the GOP, and Republicans individually, were always comfortable with supporting 'our SOB' in so many countries, and would argue for the necessity of, shall we say, 'stern measures' - can't make a client state without mass murder and torture, after all.

But now, they'll look you in the eye and **swear** that the reason is democracy and human rights. That they couldn't bear the thought of a dictator commiting human rights violations

Posted by: Barry at October 30, 2005 05:19 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"Our support of democracy dates from the founding of our nation. Democracies are simply better for the planet. "

Too bad we've been so inconsistent over the last 100 years or so, toppling democracies that we didn't particularly like.

Posted by: Jon H at October 30, 2005 11:28 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I Love how this conversation brings out the pedantic stereotypes people allow themselves to use in order to explain why others don't agree with them. It takes heroic levels of asininity to convince yourself that blanket statements such as have been expressed in the prior posts actually have merit. Regardless of what the administration said or how what was said has been perceived and or mischaracterized by its detractors. Many, if not most people had arrived at the conclusion that Saddam needed to go long before any of the current debate began. I think its safe to say that the argument for regime change put forth by the previous administration went a long way towards convincing many of us that we were going to have to deal with Saddam. In fact, many of us came to the conclusion that in leaving Saddam in power in '91. We as a free people had betrayed our own principles and in the process, millions of Iraqis. Many of us are painfully aware or the inconsistencies of our past foreign policy decisions. And looked to removing Saddam and establishing a situation where Iraqis can choose their own government as a way to begin to address those past inconsistencies. Sure, some were totally motivated by the wmd aspect of the administrations justification for the war. But a whole lot of us were fully motivated by reasons we had come to prior to any wmd debate. And in fact were comforted by the fact the administration included those reasons, along with wmd, while laying out the reasons to remove Saddam.

An unfortunate outcome of that debate that myself and many others have come to realize is this. It's hard to say what's a more damning example of the degeneration of a significant segment of our society. Their deliberate mischaracterization of the WMD issue as the only reason given and or accepted as reason to remove Saddams fascist regime. Or the fact that of the approximately 20 reason given to take the Ba'athists out.. The administration felt that it had to emphasize WMD. Because the same crowd making such an issue of WMD now, couldn't be convinced Iraq was worth doing out of any commitment to humanitarian or democratic ideals. There's a sad irony created when these people project their own moral and ethical decay on the rest of us while making their stereotypical accusations pertaining to our motives or lack of.


Posted by: mike at October 31, 2005 01:25 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"..Their deliberate mischaracterization of the WMD issue as the only reason given and or accepted as reason to remove Saddams fascist regime..."

Hmmmm, ok, Mike, can you point to specific examples where Bush, Cheney, Rice or Powell spoke directly to the American people - pre-invasion - making the case for war on a casus belli other than WMD?

Yes, it is true that in certain circles like the neocon cabal (their self labeling, not my "stereotyping) other - more grandiose (or "lofty" - depending on your POV ) reasons for invasion were put forth. However, those manifestos were generally unknown to the general public. Again, when was a case for invasion based on those alternative reasons made to the American public?

Oh, "The administration felt that it had to emphasize WMD. Because the same crowd making such an issue of WMD now, couldn't be convinced Iraq was worth doing out of any commitment to humanitarian or democratic ideals"

So I see. The American people are too craven and degenerate to be engaged in open debate by their elected officials.

Excuse me if I don't take your stated commitment to democracy promotion too seriously.

Some stereotypes just write themselves.

Posted by: avedis at October 31, 2005 02:14 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Maybe your memory is selective. But along with the justified emphasis on WMD. We were reminded of the total lack of adherence to the 1991 cease-fire agreements. 10 years of subsequent UN resolutions demanding those agreements be honored. As well as the humanitarian nightmare that was life under the Ba'athists. Further exasperated by a UN sanctions regime that was having its clause designed to funnel food and medicine to Iraqi civilians exploited and corrupted. Done so by the very people who were supposed to be monitoring its integrity.
As (I’m assuming) you well know - the administration made regime change a central part of their proposal. And here's the part that lays bare the blatant dishonesty of those who currently claim the administrations emphasis on nation building is some new twist put on the operation upon not finding the whole weapons systems they expected. The administration didn’t just call for regime change and leave it at that. They made no bones about replacing it with a democratically elected government. And through that, seeing to it that democratic change spread. Ridding us of the thugs we'd previously propped up. The dysfunctional societies such regimes perpetuate. As well as the repellant "real-politic" the world uses to justify its acceptance of the existence of such situations. All of this was part of the conversation that occurred leading up to the invasion. Even on WMD the wars detractors are not being honest. Relying on the public’s perception of WMD as being fully constituted systems such as bombs, warheads, missiles etc. The final report on WMD stated that indeed systems existed but had been disassembled and scattered about the country. Claiming that to be not having WMD is like me disassembling an illegally owned AK 47, scattering the parts around my house and property. Then claiming to the police that I don’t own an AK47. Christ they remove tons of the insecticide like liquid primer used to mix with the active ingredient in a binary warhead - creating the desired chemical agent the warhead is meant to deliver. Not to mention removed over the course of this past summer a half-ton of refined yellow cake. (Whoops there goes Wilson’s story) And people like you not only refuse to acknowledge the obvious implications. But rely on the public’s ignorance of such things to keep you from having to.

And of course you'll refuse to accept any humanitarian or egalitarian motivations your opponents have for supporting the war. Doing so would fundamentally undermine your own mythology. Which of course attributes any such motivations to you.
In the end you can insulate yourself in all the myth, nuance and grey you want. It'll never change the fact that in response to the black and white proposition at the heart of this matter - Are we to support fascism or freedom? You chose fascism.
And its a choice I think will have much larger and farther reaching consequences for this country than any of the turbulence that came as a result of the Vietnam war.

Posted by: Mike at October 31, 2005 06:16 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I thought you were talking about the Saddam and the Iraq on planet *earth*.

Based on what you present as facts (above) I have to conclude that there is an Iraq in some semi-parellel universe. Obviously you have internet service out there. Could you provide some links to reputable sources. I am interested in learning more about your universe.

Posted by: avedis at October 31, 2005 12:57 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


Of course regime change was the central part of the Bush proposal. But the reasons for the regime change were because

1. Saddam was tied to Al Qaeda and other terrorists.
2. Saddam had WMD and would give these weapons to terrorists.

Without 1 and 2 (remember Colin Powell's U.N. speech?), Six-Pack American Joes like me wouldn't approve of sending U.S. troops and invading another country human-rights be damned. We didn't seem to be too up in arms about Rwanda, Zaire, Darfur, etc.

Invading Iraq because of WMD was a canard.

From the March 13, 2005 article in the NY Times (“Looting at Weapons Plants Was Systematic”):

"In the weeks after Baghdad fell in April 2003, looters systematically dismantled and removed tons of machinery from Saddam Hussein's most important weapons installations, including some with high-precision equipment capable of making parts for nuclear arms, . . . . "

"The threat posed by these types of facilities was cited by the Bush administration as a reason for invading Iraq, but the installations were left largely unguarded by allied forces in the chaotic months after the invasion."

"American military officials in Baghdad did not respond to repeated requests for comment on the findings. But American officials have said in the past that while they were aware of the importance of some of the installations, there was not enough military personnel to guard all of them during and after the invasion."

"As examples of the most important sites that were looted, Dr. Araji cited the Nida Factory, the Badr General Establishment, Al Ameer, Al Radwan, Al Hatteen, Al Qadisiya and Al Qaqaa."

Mike, you should remember Al Qaqaa. That site was in the news quite frequently because of the large amount of conventional weapons stored there.

Mike, if WMD were SOOOO important to Bush, why were these sites not secured after the invasion? Because WMD were not the primary reason for going into Iraq. Oddly enough, I'm sure all of the oil rigs and pipelines were secured.

If SECURING WMD-making equipment (already known to exist from IAEA, etc. inspections) was PART of the point of going into Iraq, the war effectively insured that they were NOT secured.

Posted by: jpsagen at October 31, 2005 07:06 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

There were six differnt reasons we went to war. In addition, Saddam ignored 19 UN resolutions, the world was misled by the Oil-for-Food scandel and CNN was going soft on reporting Saddam's misdeeds for access to the government. The info about the WMD's was believed accurate by every government on the planet, including a significant number of Iraqi officals.

Now have Iran and Syrian surrounded by countries that oppose them. We have Libyas WMD program under contol and Lebannon is free of Syria's yoke. Iraq and Afghanistan have free elections and are quickly learing to take care of themselves.

And in America, the liberals, socialists, communists and anarchists cannot get a majority of people to believe, without any proof, that the President based the entire decision to go to war on a lie.

To them I say:
Give up your blind hatred, oh followers of Howard Dean.

Posted by: tyree at November 2, 2005 12:27 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

the thought that we went to Iraq over WMD rings hollow.

Before we can have a legitimate debate about the merits of this war, we must take the pr reasons for going off the table.
-There was no threat of WMD from Iraq
-There was no threat of SH colluding with terrorists to threaten the US
_We did not go to Iraq to steal their oil
-The war was not pay back for "trying to kill my daddy."

Those were the reasons given to get the US populace to go along, and the reasons given by the far left. This is not a 'they lied' comment. That can be looked at independently of the question of the war.

Posted by: Gratefulcub at November 2, 2005 08:22 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Typical Republican revisionist history. Since WMD and Saddam links to terrorism have not been found, we really invaded a country for humanitarian reasons and to spread democracy.

So we invaded Iraq because . . . what?. . . they ignore UN resolutions? A number of countries do that - Israel anybody?
Because the world was misled on the Oil-for-Food program? Please. The oil program was a failure on inception. Turkey and Jordan were illicitly sold lots of oil because neither the United States nor Britain objected to these sales to staunch Middle East allies. Yes! We knew about these oil sales! Because Saddam is such a mean, bad dictator? Please! To fight the war in Afghanistan, we have air force bases in Uzbekistan where government forces fired on and killed pro-Democracy demonstrators. How does that jive? To support democracy in one nation, we support a dictator in another. Nice. The US is so altruistic.

Again, if WMD was not one of the overriding reasons to go into Iraq, what was the reason for the Powell dog-and-pony show speech at the UN?

Last time I checked, Powell was part of the Bush administration. And his recent 20/20 interview indicated that he regreted his presentation.

Gratefulcub, I am not sure where you get that the WMD = PR provided by the left? Remember, for example, Bush's October 7, 2002 Cincinnat speech? As follows are his first couple of statements:

"Tonight I want to take a few minutes to discuss a grave threat to peace, and America's determination to lead the world in confronting that threat.

The threat comes from Iraq. It arises directly from the Iraqi regime's own actions -- its history of aggression, and its drive toward an arsenal of terror. Eleven years ago, as a condition for ending the Persian Gulf War, the Iraqi regime was required to destroy its weapons of mass destruction, to cease all development of such weapons, and to stop all support for terrorist groups. The Iraqi regime has violated all of those obligations. It possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons. It is seeking nuclear weapons. It has given shelter and support to terrorism, and practices terror against its own people. The entire world has witnessed Iraq's eleven-year history of defiance, deception and bad faith."

Some PR commercial. I didn't realize that Bush was a liberal.

Posted by: jpsagen at November 2, 2005 02:55 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
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