Ten Years from Iraq

Last week marked the tenth anniversary of the Iraq War. I’ve been reading a lot of commentary reflecting on the near decade of conflict. While I think it may be decades before the full wisdom or folly of the war is understood, I had a few thoughts I’ve been spinning around on the subject.

Why We Fight:

I won’t try to pretend I didn’t support the war. I absolutely did. Remembering why exactly I supported the war is a bit more difficult. There were various reasons. But, in the end, I supported the war because I thought that Saddam’s fall was inevitable. If we could effect a relatively peaceful transition, it was possible we could create an ally in the region, something to balance out our “ally” Saudi Arabia, especially if the Iranian regime fell. We had the ability. We had a target nation that was isolated, fractious, vulnerable and supported terrorism. Toppling its vile malicious dictator and transitioning to a better if imperfect government seemed like something we could do.

In retrospect, I’m not sure what I was smoking. I spent too much time listening to starry-eyed idealists who thought the world could be changed through military force. Moreover, I was ignoring the reality that Iraq was never a country in a traditional sense. It was a country carved out of a bunch of tribes so that Faisal would have a place to rule. The nation of Shiites, Sunni and Kurds was only held together by the iron fist of Saddam. It is still possible that, in the end, a stable Iraq will emerge. But that’s a tenuous thread of hope on which to commit so much blood and treasure.

I was also persuaded by frankly flimsy arguments that we didn’t have to finish Afghanistan before we got into Iraq. After all, we fought on two fronts in World War II, didn’t we? But we didn’t have a World War-sized military or a World War-sized budget. And, as it turned out, not only was Iraq a much bigger task than we anticipated, Afghanistan was too. At the end of World War II, we were occupying two countries that had an interest in rebuilding and moving on (in Ambrose’s Band of Brothers, the men of Easy Company remember Germans cleaning bombed out cities and stacking up bricks for use in rebuilding). Many Afghanis and Iraqis wanted peace and prosperity. But the countries were dominated by those who gloried in chaos and destruction.

I also ignored the danger of realigning the regional powers. Before our invasion, the “Axis of Evil” consisted of two countries that hated each other and a backward country on the other side of the world. Now, as Malou Innocent has pointed out, Iran’s influence in Iraq is waxing — an utterly predictable development given Maliki’s association with Iran and the link between Shiite populations. Saddam counterbalanced Iran. Maliki is practically joining forces with them. Was this was what we wanted? Was this not inevitable no matter what happened?

But while I remain concerned about the region and worried that the long-term impact will be negative, I still can not descend into the depths of pure cynicism. The Left likes to think the War was all about seizing oil, enriching Haliburton and portraying the Democrats as cowards. Even if you assume that kind of thinking was in our leadership, the soldiers weren’t thinking that way. Our generals weren’t. Our State Department wasn’t. These people honestly believed they could save Iraq from itself. In the end, the problem of Iraq was not created by our supposed imperial ambitions being blunted; it was created by an idealistic view of what was possible.

You’ll notice I haven’t mentioned Weapons of Mass Destruction. I never really bought that as a justification for the war. Saddam had them for decades and never gave them to terrorists. He was not so stupid as to think we wouldn’t be able to trace it. I warned conservatives at the time that playing the WMD angle — while good politically — was dangerous because it would blow up if we didn’t find any actual weapons. When it turned out that all Iraq had was a few stale sarin shells, that gave rise to the tiresome “Bush lied, people died” mantra. (One residual question I’m always asked is why Saddam didn’t allow inspections if he didn’t have the weapons. Cobra II answers this: he was relying on the uncertainty to keep his own people from rebelling and Iran from attacking). And there is plenty of evidence that our leadership at least suspected that the WMD’s did not exist. But I never bought it; I always saw it as a narrative to justify a war that was being fought for other reasons. But I don’t think those “other reasons” were a lust for oil and war profits. Those other reasons were a belief that we could fundamentally transform the region.

In that vein, I think that the war critics want to ignore something important: as bad as Iraq is now, it was worse under Hussein. To pretend that Iraq, as problematic as it is, isn’t better off than it was under Saddam is to ignore history. His torture chambers are gone. His brutal prisons are gone. He’s no longer paying blood money to the families of Palestinian terrorists who blow themselves up. People are in far less danger of being gassed, shot or starved to death. And there is still an outside chance that Iraq will eventually stabilize and become a fully functional nation. To suggest that Iraq would be better off or that the world be better off with Saddam still in power is a bit ridiculous.

(And let’s not ignore that Libya quickly got rid of their WMD program as a result of the war. Imagine the recent Libyan civil war had been fought with chemical weapons. Imagine those weapons on the loose, perhaps used at Benghazi.)

The war was not a total failure. Saddam is gone. That’s not a bad thing.

But the price. Was it worth the price? The cost is simply staggering: 4500 American troops dead, over 30,000 wounded and God knows how many with trauma that is driving them to horrifying rates of suicide and depression. Long-term costs, including care of veterans, estimated between $4 and $6 trillion. Over 100,000 Iraqi civilians dead. Had those numbers been placed in front of us in March of 2003 as the future outcome of the Iraq War, would we have done it? Was getting rid of that vile slime worth the price we paid?

The Failure of “No Blood for Oil”

No discussion of Iraq is complete without finding someone to blame for the problems we had. War supporters, neocons and the Bush Administration are the obvious targets and I agree that the lion’s share of responsibility falls on us. I’ll get to that in a moment. But there is one group that tries to pretend no responsibility falls upon them.

I know the Left bristles at any blame being thrown at them for the war. After all, they opposed it didn’t they? But the Iraq War illustrates a point that I have often made, in recent years, against Obama’s critics: mindless opposition is worse than no opposition. Had the anti-war protesters questioned the WMD intelligence, had they talked about the difficulty of nation building, had they talked about the ability to contain Saddam, it might have slowed the pace of invasion. And, to be fair, many smart anti-war people did make these points. But they were drowned in the “no blood for oil” and “Bushitler” campaigns that tried to make this out to be an expansion of America’s racist empire.

That didn’t persuade anybody. On the contrary, it solidified the determination of those of us who supported the war. And when thing began to go wrong, the Bush Administration and their supporters used the pre-war hysteria to dismiss legitimate concerns. People who tried to point out that the violence was escalating, that our methods were strengthening AQI, that we didn’t have enough troops were immediately thrown into the heap with those who though Bush was seizing Iraq’s oil. Legitimate reporting was dismissed as media bias. Human rights concerns were just another attempt to criticize our troops.

When you play tribal politics, you can’t pretend to be surprised when the other side responds in a tribal fashion. The Left tried to make the political side of the war an “us versus them” thing and then were surprised when it became … an “us versus them” thing. I don’t thing a smarter opposition would have stopped the war. But it might have gotten us to address the growing problem earlier and more effectively than we eventually did.

Mismanagement

It’s hard to remember now but the initial stages of the war actually went extremely well. After some delays, our military broke through and overran Iraq with speed and determination. Saddam and his sons driven were underground (literally), a relative calm was established, elections were held. Remember everyone dipping their fingers in blue ink? For a time, it looked like we had done it: we had deposed a vile and evil dictator and established a democracy. A successful nation building!

And then, the pieces began to fall apart. The violence in Iraq never quite died out. Al-Qaeda established a presence in Iraq and terrorist attacks proliferated. A unified government could not be created.

And then it suddenly blew up, literally, with the Golden Mosque.

I do not think this was inevitable. We have chewed over these points before, but it’s worth talking about again. As documented in the must-read Cobra II, both the State Department and General Shinseki tried desperately to warn Rumsfeld that he didn’t have enough troops to control the country. But Rummy was determined to try out his long-haired theories about the military. At one point, he planned to invade with about 10,000 troops. He only agreed to more troops on the condition that the invasion start while some were still at sea so they could be turned around if not needed. The inner circles of power were almost entirely concerned with showing how easy it was to knock over a dictator. Managing the country afterward? Meh.

Bremer mismanaged Iraq as badly as could be imagined. Reconstruction, as documented by Rajiv Chandrasekaran, was oriented around giving contracts to Bush supporters and their children instead of those with experience in reconstruction (or knowledge of the region). Our response to the growing insurgency included torture authorized at the highest levels, which David Petraeus described as AQI’s most effective recruiting tool.

In that light, the collapse of Iraq after al-Askari bombing was not unexpected; it was inevitable. The success in Iraq was illusory, resting on a foundation of … well, sand. If it hadn’t been al-Askari, it would have been something that plunged Iraq into the abyss.

What followed was probably the most frustrating part of the entire affair. Iraq exploded in violence and it became obvious that we didn’t have enough troops to control the situation (actually, it had been obvious we didn’t have enough troops in 2003; 2006 just drove the point home). Throughout 2006, as violence rose, the need for more troops became obvious. McCain, to his credit, was among the first to call for a surge. But the President and his defenders insisted that everything was fine, that the problems in Iraq were simply a liberal media creation. They would ignore the growing horrific death toll and tout some school that had been built. No matter what was happening in reality, the bulk of the GOP and almost all of the conservative commentariat were committed to the pravda that all was well.

(Part of this was a Guns of August thing: fighting the political battle over the last war. Many war supporters — particularly the ones in the Bush Administration — had bitter memories of Vietnam and how the Tet Offensive was a disaster for North Vietnam but portrayed as a success by our media. But Iraq, even this respect, was not Vietnam. The collapse of the country was not a media creation.)

It was only after the Republicans got hammered in the 2006 election that the President decided to change course. Rumsfeld was canned, the surge was authorized and the situation improved. If you want to pinpoint when I finally broke from the Republican Party, that was it. That was the moment. When not just the President but every GOP commentator in the punditsphere suddenly turned a 180 and said, “Of course we need a surge! It’s obvious we need more troops! Why do you oppose more troops! Do you hate America?!” The sudden reversal of everything they had been saying for years without blinking an eye or even acknowledging how wrong they had been told me this was no longer a group of principled people, but an organization that was purely political.

That plays into another point. Several pundits have claimed that the Iraq War, in effect, gave us Obamacare. The idea is that the blazing incompetence shown by the GOP soured the public on them and gave us a Democratic President and enough of a Democratic Congress to get Obamacare passed. Like Doug Mataconis, I find that a bit glib. It’s yet another effort to hammer Iraq into a Vietnam-shaped mold to which it is ill-suited. The economic collapse was a much more important factor in the election (and re-election) of Barack Obama.

But it is true that Iraq played a big role in the 2006 election and it is true that the GOP’s foreign policy credentials were permanently damaged by the war. And those credentials remain damaged as long as many of the architects and supporters of that war remain in positions of authority and respect. Many of the same people who clamored loudest for Iraq and still insist it was a good idea are now clamoring for us to get involved in Syria. After the last ten years, it would be ridiculous to take them seriously. And as long as those jokers linger around the halls of power, we should still be skeptical of the GOP on foreign policy.

Dereliction of Duty

We’ve gone over the responsibility that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, etc. bear for both the war and its progress. And it’s been frustrating to see them evade that responsibility and insist that anything that went wrong was somebody else’s fault. But there is one body that I don’t think has ever really been held to account for their role in Iraq: Congress.

Our Constitution is very clear: only Congress has the authority to start a war. And on the eve of the Iraq War, our Congress … couldn’t be bothered. They essentially punted that decision to President Bush. In a decision involving — even in foresight — hundreds of billions of dollars and a risk to tens of thousands of American lives, Congress couldn’t be bothered to examine the case for war. Healey:

In 2002, very few of our elected representatives were interested in doing basic due diligence before exercising the solemn responsibility that the Constitution gives Congress in the power “to declare War.” From late September 2002 on, copies of the 92-page National Intelligence Estimate on the Iraq threat were available to any member of the House or Senate who wanted to review it. Only a handful even bothered. Then-Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.)—our current secretary of state and his predecessor—weren’t among the six senators who took the time to read the report before voting for war. Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) explained that getting away to the secure room to read the NIE—a short walk away across the Capitol grounds—is “not easy to do” and that NIEs make for “extremely dense reading.”

Robert Byrd was an idiot but he did make one important observation. When the vote came up, there was almost no debate. There were very few comments made. Congress just shrugged and said, “um, OK”. They passed the law within a week by massive margins in both houses.

Congress didn’t want to take responsibility. They didn’t want to oppose the war because it was popular. But they didn’t want to actually declare war so that they would be held responsible if it went wrong. So they passed an “authorization” that essentially gave their war-making power to the President.

I won’t let them off. Giving up responsibility is the same as declaring war, as far as I’m concerned. There are 374 members of Congress who voted for the Iraq War. Every single one of them bears responsibility for what happened — for good or ill.

The Future

In the end, the Iraq War is the past. It officially ended in December 2011. Chewing the bones is an exercise for historians. The reason I wrote this post is to think what lessons we should learn going forward. What we do now?

First, we have to make sure we take care of those who were wounded, widowed or orphaned. It will be expensive — estimated by some as $3-5 trillion over the long term. But we owe it to them. Soldiers do not decide policy; they follow orders. We can never allow our disagreements over the war to impugn the honor of those who went or to cancel the tremendous debt we owe them. Regardless of the politics, they went there. Many of them went multiple times. And many bear the physical and emotional scars of one of America’s longest wars. The veterans of Iraq are just as deserving of our respect and support as all other veterans. And they’re not getting it.

Second, we can be more cautious about our future engagements. Both the President and Congress must take their war-making ability with the seriousness and solemnity it deserves. We can not go to war without a clear singular and doable objective. If you look at the successful wars in our time — Panama, Grenada, the Gulf War – these were carried out with a single and concrete objective. If you look at the unsuccessful ones — Iraq, Somalia — the objectives were nebulous. We can not build nations. We can not bring democracy to places that don’t want it. The purpose of the military is to kill people and break things, not to be a guidance councilor to a nation of thirty million people.

And if Congress and the President can not take this responsibility seriously; if they insist on starting wars (or punting on wars) that are nebulous in their objectives, we must fire their asses. Republican or Democrat, any politician who can’t be bothered to think about whether or not we send our soldiers into harm’s way should be drummed out of office.

Third, we must return to the Powell Doctrine. If we go, we go all in. We send in more troops than we think we’ll need, more planes, more ships, more missiles. None of this “proportionality” bullshit. No more experiments to see how few troops we can use to accomplish a given mission. We overwhelm the enemy with sheer numbers. Completely overwhelming an enemy is not some blood-thirsty macho thing. It is the surest way for a rapid victory and minimal casualties … on both sides.

In my heart, I still think the Iraq War could have been as successful or more successful than it was if we had more competent management and a hell of lot more troops. Iraq might still be chaotic, but it would be a lot less so and have cost a lost less blood and treasure.

And, in the end, that is the greatest tragedy of the Iraq War: it didn’t have to go this way.

Comments are closed.

  1. AlexInCT

    Hindsight is always 20-20. The reality is that at the time, based on the intelligence everyone had, this was a good idea. The propaganda off the last 8 years to allow the same callous and evil assholes that were hoping to make the US military fail in Iraq and to push the casualty counts up, for political gain of all reasons, notwithstanding, reality was that at the time everybody believe Iraq was the top terror exporter, had WMDs, and had just been shown by al Qaeda how to go about perpetrating high casualty count terror attacks while hiding their involvement in them. I think we were a victim of our own success. Iraqi resistance collapsed too fast and the necessary casualty count to break the enemy’s desire to keep fighting a losing battle, like we did with Japan & Germany, never materialized. Hence the shitty occupation that followed.

    I do find it quite impressive that our military managed to score what even the left has not to admit was a decent result, if you want to avoid saying victory, and that they did it with the left actively and seditiously undermining their every effort for years until a team Blue guy that tried his best at first to cement the loss, took over. Go figure. Now we have even more conflicts, and we expanded our war efforts under far less threathning circumstances (Libya and so on).

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  2. salinger

    But the price. Was it worth the price? The cost is simply staggering: 4500 American troops dead, over 30,000 wounded and God knows how many with trauma that is driving them to horrifying rates of suicide and depression. Long-term costs, including care of veterans, estimated between $4 and $6 trillion. Over 100,000 Iraqi civilians dead. Had those numbers been placed in front of us in March of 2003 as the future outcome of the Iraq War, would we have done it? Was getting rid of that vile slime worth the price we paid?

    Yet one never hears these facts enumerated by the right during their deficit ululations.

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  3. AlexInCT

    Yet one never hears these facts enumerated by the right during their deficit ululations.

    That’s because the constitution allows the feds to spend on defense, unlike the crap the left does to buy votes.

    BTW, in case you are wondering, I still think the cost was not that big a deal in the grand scheme of things. What’s the price up to now? $1 trillion? We have been spent that much every year for the last 4 years, with that extra spending going on indefinitely, and here you are trying to pretend that the problem is something that cost $1 trillion over a decade, but not the $1 trillion we don’t have getting pissed away social engineering and buying votes each year for the foreseeable future. Talk about dyslexia.

    Even at its worse, defense spending does not come to a fraction of the projected spending on things like Medicare, SS, and now Obamacare, but people like you can keep pretending that the problem is that spending. The total unfunded liabilities in just those three items are project to be over $100 trillion in the next few decades. Yes, I said trillions. Pretending the cost of Iraq is a big deal when we have this out of control social spending is like blaming the mosquito bite for the death of the guy that got mauled by lions. It’s a blatantly obvious and disingenuous argument to shift blame from the real problems.

    If Iraq had not happened, we would only be $15 trillion in debt with that debt projected at $25 trillion by the time Team Obama sets sail. In the grand scheme of things that extra trillion, which the constitution allows our government to actually spend on unlike the other crap that is drowing us in debt, is not a big deal at all.

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  4. Mook

    Over 100,000 Iraqi civilians dead

    Is this another trumped up “fact” regurgitated by leftist idiots who make no attempt to distinguish between terrorists and “civilians” and no attempt to distinguish the number of civilian deaths caused by Al Queda terrorists and Saddam loyalists vs collateral damage from US/UK troops? Of course, the number of innocents murdered by Saddam before eevill Bush invaded is never mentioned or considered.

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  5. CM

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  6. Hal_10000 *

    Is this another trumped up “fact” regurgitated by leftist idiots who make no attempt to distinguish between terrorists and “civilians” and no attempt to distinguish the number of civilian deaths caused by Al Queda terrorists and Saddam loyalists vs collateral damage from US/UK troops? Of course, the number of innocents murdered by Saddam before eevill Bush invaded is never mentioned or considered.

    You’re thinking of the Lancet study. 100k is pretty much agreed upon by everyone. And people who die from AQI or Saddam loyalists are no less dead than people shot by US troops. We unleashed that. But you do have a point that the death poll before Saddam was deposed was very high (although a lot of that was from sanctions and Saddam stealing the oil for food stuff).

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  7. CM

    Had the anti-war protesters questioned the WMD intelligence, had they talked about the difficulty of nation building, had they talked about the ability to contain Saddam, it might have slowed the pace of invasion. And, to be fair, many smart anti-war people did make these points. But they were drowned in the “no blood for oil” and “Bushitler” campaigns that tried to make this out to be an expansion of America’s racist empire.

    Although the idiots on the left did annoy me and I do agree that many of them were counter-productive, I do think this is somewhat disingenous. People taking this seriously should have been be able to look past the “no blood for oil” and “Bushitler” crowd and assess the actual arguments. But they didn’t. They didn’t want to. They wanted to go to war and there was a logistical timetable involved. IMO those wanting war simply failed to make the case. But it didn’t matter, they did it anyway.
    Suggesting “Oh, yeah, I know you made some good points but I didn’t hear them because I was too busy listening to idiots” is pretty weak.

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  8. Mook

    100k is pretty much agreed upon by everyone

    http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wikileaks-109000-deaths-iraq-war/story?id=11949670#.UVNUurko6TM” target=”_blank”>Wikileaks info says 66,000 not 100k, and it makes a helluva big difference whether or not the civilians were killed by terrorists and Saddam loyalists or coalition troops, even though the civilians are dead either way. Culpability matters a lot, especially when leftist scumbags lay trumped up body count numbers all on the feet of George W. Bush and America.

    Saddam is estimated to have murdered 50,000 – 100,000 Kurds alone (Kurds claim much more) + 30,000 – 60,000 Marsh arabs + mass murder of Shias during various uprisings, and day to day death squad activities murdering civilians.

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  9. ilovecress

    Had the anti-war protesters questioned the WMD intelligence, had they talked about the difficulty of nation building, had they talked about the ability to contain Saddam, it might have slowed the pace of invasion. And, to be fair, many smart anti-war people did make these points. But they were drowned in the “no blood for oil” and “Bushitler” campaigns that tried to make this out to be an expansion of America’s racist empire.

    Which begs the question, why the administration didn’t listen to the smart anti-war people? Did they think it was better to take advice from idiots with signs? Or did they use those idiots with signs to dismiss any viewpoints that challenged their own preconceived ideas?

    One thing that I think gets lost a lot in blog-commentary, is the difference between opposition and direct action. It’s similar with the Earth Hour thing (although the irony kind of kills the point). The point of any direct action – like turning out your lights, marching on Washington, sitting next to a lunch counter, or reading the constitution on the senate floor – isn’t meant to solve the problem – it’s meant to reveal the problem.

    Discussion of the justification of the war was how I found my way to this blog (and Moorewatch) – so to act as if the idea that the war wasn’t an amazing idea is a complete surprise to you is disingenuous. Over 50 countries officially condemned the war. The secretary general of the UN was in opposition. Popular support outside the US was around 11%. The fricking pope was against it. I’m sure the Bush administration was aware of the smart anti-war arguments.

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  10. Mook

    What utter utter nonsense. The case for war simply wasn’t made.

    There were over a dozen solid reasons given for going in to topple Saddam, many of them explicitly spelled out in the Iraq War Resolution which was voted on by Congress after a year of debate. All of those justifications and reasons were stated by the President and numerous other administration officials, discussed extensively by Americans all over the country including the press, television news, blogs and other media.

    Although WMDs were not the only reason for taking out Saddam, they were a serious concern as he had developed and used them before, and had bio weapons development program. Saddam had openly and proudly supported terrorists

    You can argue that you don’t like those reasons, but they were good reasons which built a solid case for taking out Saddam. It’s fair to examine whether that decision was worth the cost, but justification was definitely made.

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  11. Mook

    Over 50 countries officially condemned the war.

    And at least that many countries don’t believe Israel has the right to exist. “World opinion” is often crap and weak justification for your argument.

    Obama was considered one of the preeminent smart anti-war people and he’s proven himself an idiot on that point (he opposed the surge which was a pivotal turning point) and an idiot and a hypocrite in other foreign policy matters.

    Remind me, what were the “smart” arguments coming from the anti-war side at the time? I don’t recall any persuasive rational arguments being made against it at the time.. just whining from those who oppose all military actions no matter what, and a bunch of America-haters within our borders and outside our country (many of whom were/are ingrates for all that the US did for their countries over the years) whose arguments boiled down to America = evil fascist baby killers.

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  12. Miguelito

    I just read this NPR report the other day. Very interesting. Note the basically inverted changes in people on welfare vs people on disability. Basically shows the whole “getting people off welfare” turned out to be complete bullshit. They just moved from state welfare to federal disability.

    Money paragraph..

    A person on welfare costs a state money. That same resident on disability doesn’t cost the state a cent, because the federal government covers the entire bill for people on disability. So states can save money by shifting people from welfare to disability. And the Public Consulting Group is glad to help.

    My father has a tale of when he was working for AT&T (from the early 70’s until about 1990) when he was working on the phones in the CA welfare office. They were people hired to sit there and call people on the welfare rolls in other states to entice them to move to CA and live on the welfare here instead.

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  13. CM

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  14. AlexInCT

    Which begs the question, why the administration didn’t listen to the smart anti-war people?

    Because they were about as real as the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, and the Tooth Fairy? If you can get past the revisionist history you would remember that pretty much everyone believed the WEMDs where there. Those that didn’t want the war never made the argument there where no WMDs until the historic rewrite happened and they started pretending they never believed. The anti war people where nothing but a bunch of marxist America and Boosh haters. Practically ALL the opposition in the US to the war was because they left still pretended that it was Boosh and not Gore that had tried to steal an election and got twarted, while those outsider the US all were agaisnt the war because they didn’t want to lose the lucrative deals they ahd with Saddam. The fucking French & Russians guaranteed Saddam they would block any action in the UN, so they could keep their big contracts, and Saddam basically played through his bluff until the bitter end. That’s the truth about the anti-war crowd, they where the dispicable scumbags.

    All the smart liberals, including the ones most vocally against the war today – from Bill Clinton to the shriek he is married to, and other people like Kerry, Murtha, and so on – every single one of them, believed the WMDs where there. Practically every one of them that had a vote cast a yes vote. Without a doubt every vote against the war was done for some other reason than today’s bullshit “”there were now WMDs” or “It will cost too much” lies cress.

    Like I said: hindsight is 20-20, and anyone saying they thought Iraq didn’t have WMDs or was going to cost too much is full of shit.

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  15. CM

    Because they were about as real as the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, and the Tooth Fairy?

    Utter nonsense. They were very real. In the UK there were resignations from senior MPs in the Labour government before the invasion (including Clare Short, who was appalled at how inept the post-invasion planning was). You and others just chose to ignore them.

    If you can get past the revisionist history you would remember that pretty much everyone believed the WEMDs where there.

    Nonsense. Which is why Powell’s presentation was so very weak. The intellgence was all over the shop. Hindsight isn’t required here. To start a pre-emptive war you must (at a minimum) prove your case, not simply try to cobble together bits and pieces of unsubtantiated evidence (like forged documents) and base it all on speculative theory.

    Those that didn’t want the war never made the argument there where no WMDs until the historic rewrite happened and they started pretending they never believed.

    It wasn’t up to them to prove why the war shouldn’t take place. The onus is firmly on the prosecutors to prove their case. They failed, but went ahead anyway. It was a classic case of “who is going to stop us?”.
    Irrespective of that, people who didn’t support the war put up plenty of argument at the time. The media certainly did a horrible job of reporting it because they decided to abdicate all responsibility and tow the establishment line.

    The anti war people where nothing but a bunch of marxist America and Boosh haters.

    Classic avoidance tactic. Call them all marxists and you avoid having to discuss anything. YAWN. Boring.

    Practically ALL the opposition in the US to the war was because they left still pretended that it was Boosh and not Gore that had tried to steal an election and got twarted,

    Avoidance.

    while those outsider the US all were agaisnt the war because they didn’t want to lose the lucrative deals they ahd with Saddam. The fucking French & Russians guaranteed Saddam they would block any action in the UN, so they could keep their big contracts, and Saddam basically played through his bluff until the bitter end. That’s the truth about the anti-war crowd, they where the dispicable scumbags.

    Riiiiiiiiiiiiight, tens of millions (many of whom who had never protested anything in their lives) marched in the streets around the world to protect French & Russian deals. That makes sense.

    Like I said: hindsight is 20-20, and anyone saying they thought Iraq didn’t have WMDs or was going to cost too much is full of shit.

    Nonsense. No hindsight is required. I was personally involved in plenty of detailed discussion about these and other issues well before the invasion took place.

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  16. CM

    Yet again Alex you undermine your own arguments by not even properly considering what you’re trying to argue against. It’s like you’re looking at a 10 storey office building and complaining that it’s the worst bridge you’ve ever seen.

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  17. Mississippi Yankee

    Like I said: hindsight is 20-20, and anyone saying they thought Iraq didn’t have WMDs or was going to cost too much is full of shit.

    What I’d like to know is what did we all see when literally hundreds of trucks crossed the Iraqi desert into Syria?

    And aren’t the chattering class all worried about Syria’s chemical and biological weapons right at this moment?

    Where do you suppose Syria got those WMDs? Or are they fictitious too?
    hint: see first sentence of this comment.

    Why oh why do some of you folks insist on these long-winded circle jerks?

    Thumb up 2

  18. CM

    Where are Syria’s WMDs that they got from Saddam? Why have they not been unleashed?
    MY at some stage you need to give up on conspiracy theories and return to reality.

    Thumb up 2

  19. West Virginia Rebel

    One of the few positive things I think Obama has done is the withdrawal. The war is now officially over and I think that’s to his credit (on Bush’s timetable, yes, but still).

    What irritates me are those commentators and pundits who still seem to think we are at war, or should be, or who think that Iraq is a model for how to deal with Iran. Yeah, let’s just invade a possibly nuclear-armed country; surely that will bring peace, prosperity and American-style democracy to the Middle East.

    The war may be over, unfortunately the mentality that wants to keep fighting it is still there. I suppose that’s what happens when armchair generals want to pontificate on conflicts with ambiguous results.

    As far as Syria goes, it seems like something is brewing behind the scenes, so we’ll see.

    Thumb up 1

  20. CM

    For people that are otherwise skeptical of every single sentence that comes from your government on pretty much every single topic under the sun, many of you sure took their word for a lot of this, even though it failed to accurately represent the intelligence.

    Thumb up 2

  21. Mississippi Yankee

    Where are Syria’s WMDs that they got from Saddam? Why have they not been unleashed?
    MY at some stage you need to give up on conspiracy theories and return to reality.

    CM, hardly a day goes by without someone in the international media accusing Assad of gassing his opponents already. I’m not saying he is only that HIS back isn’t against the wall just yet.

    Are you claiming that he has none? Because the Israelis bombed the bejusus out of what they claimed was a chemical plant and storage facility about four years ago. Yet Assad had little to say after they breached his border and bombed HIS property.

    Nice, but cowardly Alinsky attempt tho…

    Thumb up 4

  22. CM

    Alinsky? Where?
    They followed up on the speculation and found nothing.
    As I say, why the 180 degree switch to putting blind faith in your Govt?

    Thumb up 1

  23. Mississippi Yankee

    As I say, why the 180 degree switch to putting blind faith in your Govt?

    Where did I say that?
    Never mind Begone Troll (and not in a nice Hobbit way)

    Thumb up 6

  24. AlexInCT

    As I say, why the 180 degree switch to putting blind faith in your Govt?

    What a pile of shit. My support for the war in Iraq had abso-fucking-lutely nothing to do with faith in my government. I supported it because based on the available facts, from everyone, not just my government, that was not biased or worried about keeping their own lucrative scams going, Iraq was a threat that had to be dealt with. In fact, I disagreed with the way they wanted to fight the war, and still feel today that had they gone in with any plan other than the one to limit casualties so the LSM and the left would not have a tool to bludgeon them with, that things would have worked out better. Not killing off as many Baathists and anyone that got in the way until these people realized that if they didn’t stand down they would all be wiped out, for whatever reason, was stupid. If you are going to rebuild a country, you first have to destroy the enemy and its will to fight you.

    As I already pointed out: the war with Iraq was unavoidable, not as the liberals claim because the evil Boosh regime decided they were going to war and would not be dissuaded, but because fucking Russia and France, motivated by their lucrative arms & oil deals, or their other money making scams like the “Oil for food” program the UN ran that fed no Iraqis but instead served to help Saddam circumvent sanctions in return for bribes, told that idiot they would block any action in the UN. Their idiotic stonewalling gave him a false sense of security that basically kept him from seeing he was going to get creamed unless he cooperated, and that was that. And yes, that Boosh ignored the fucking corrupt an evil UN and the dictator loving assholes that make up its core, was a bonus to me.

    The Boosh and/or America haters, and let’s be honest, those where the only people against the war at that time, told us that the only reason Boosh wanted the war was to steal Iraqi oil or because of daddy issues. In fact, the largest block expressing concern or objection to the war, used the pretense that they opposed military action – and this is the kicker- because it would cost hundreds of thousands of people, including those baby eating rapist soldiers, their lives, when Saddam used his WMDs. You know, those WMDs they now all tell us they knew back then didn’t exist. Not one fucking credible person EVER, not once, said that Saddam didn’t have WMDs. In fact the few people that tried to make that argument where first dismissed as insane, or discovered to be paid by Saddam to say these things.

    But you leftists can keep trying to act like you had a legitimate concern at the time, and that the war was either unjustified or done for nefarious/evil purposes, sold based on lies and blatantly obvious subterfuge, or even that you had legitimate faux concerns, so you can fool yourself into thinking you had principled motives rather than just the fact that your kind is driven by the usual base emotions and in general only feel war is good when it is one of their own doing it or to advance socialist paradises. If you need proof I am right, just take a look how the “principled anti-war left” has reacted to Obama doing far worse than Boosh could ever dream of having done or how the left still wants to defend collectivism despite its history of mass murder and oppresssion. Ask Cindy Sheehan how she is doing these days.

    Thumb up 6

  25. grady

    To start a pre-emptive war you must (at a minimum) prove your case

    Prove your case to who? The UN? The world in general? Sadaam didn’t believe in this philosophy when he invaded Kuwait. And Americans were not going to believe in this either in following 9-11.

    Sadaam thought the UN would protect him while at the same time making Iran & other neighbors believe that he was a strong military power that was not to be provoked. It was easy to believe that he had weapons programs going on in secret (lots of UN weapons inspectors’ frustration in the years leading up to that war). MY already pointed out the “trucks to Syria” incident. Even the Clintons have admitted that they believed he was holding WMD (John Edwards even made this a campaign point when running against Hillary in the primaries).

    Bush got Congressional approval for this war. It was easy to believe in protecting American lives over placating the UN in those days, even for moderate Americans. To say the arguments were weak isn’t much of an argument now considering the number of Democrats that voted “yes”. Apparently they didn’t think the arguments were weak.

    Thumb up 9

  26. AlexInCT

    To say the arguments were weak isn’t much of an argument now considering the number of Democrats that voted “yes”. Apparently they didn’t think the arguments were weak.

    They voted under duress and because Boosh lied!

    /sarc off

    Thumb up 5

  27. Mook

    I certainly disagree. The case was not made. It was put up as a laundry-list, which is what you do when each reason doesn’t stand up on it’s own. But on each point there was an excellent (and often better) counter-argument.

    Oh really? Let’s take just one of the many justifications – Iraq had repeatedly violated its terms of surrender from the 1991 Gulf war by shooting at US planes and blocking/ejecting weapons inspectors forcing them to leave Iraq in 1998. Terms of surrender were agreed upon in 1991 in order that US-led coalition forces would stop decimating Iraqi troops.

    Violation of terms of surrender = Full Justification to resume hostilities in ANY book, and that’s been the case throughout history. You can pretend that repeated violation of terms of surrender is simply an unimportant “laundry-list” item, but that would be a lie, wouldn’t it? It’s clear justification whether you admit it or not, and it’s one of MANY valid reasons given for toppling Saddam. Whether the cost in blood and treasure was worth it is a separate question.

    The Iraq body count organization CM cites seems to have credibility problems

    Thumb up 5

  28. CM

    What a pile of shit. My support for the war in Iraq had abso-fucking-lutely nothing to do with faith in my government. I supported it because based on the available facts, from everyone, not just my government, that was not biased or worried about keeping their own lucrative scams going, Iraq was a threat that had to be dealt with.

    Iraq wasn’t doing anything different, there was no clear or present danger. The available ‘facts’ were few and far between. What you had was an administration implying things that simply weren’t true. But because you supported the war, you didn’t care. The UK and US government’s dishonestly presented the situation by placing heavy reliance on unreliable intelligence and dismissing what didn’t suit.

    As I already pointed out: the war with Iraq was unavoidable,

    Utter nonsense.

    not as the liberals claim because the evil Boosh regime decided they were going to war and would not be dissuaded, but because fucking Russia and France, motivated by their lucrative arms & oil deals, or their other money making scams like the “Oil for food” program the UN ran that fed no Iraqis but instead served to help Saddam circumvent sanctions in return for bribes, told that idiot they would block any action in the UN.

    That in no way makes war unavoidable. The US had been well aware of what was going on as well and turned a blind eye (Jordan, a key ally, was a beneficiary).
    The Bushadministration would not be dissuaded, not because they are ‘evil’, but because of their ideology. It was an ideological decision.

    Their idiotic stonewalling gave him a false sense of security that basically kept him from seeing he was going to get creamed unless he cooperated, and that was that.

    Their stonewalling is irrelevant to the fact that the case was not even remotely persuasive. The vast majority of countries and people opposed to the war had nothing to gain from Saddam remaining in power. So that’s a straw man.

    And yes, that Boosh ignored the fucking corrupt an evil UN and the dictator loving assholes that make up its core, was a bonus to me.

    The main world wars last century were fought against preemptive invasions. The UN and 50 years of international norms/laws were built upon the concept that preemptive invasions are to be avoided. Bush and Blair shit all over that.

    The Boosh and/or America haters, and let’s be honest, those where the only people against the war at that time,

    Wow, you really were living in a bubble then weren’t you. That’s not even remotely the case. Again, you certainly undermine anything you say buy demonstrating such utter cluelessness.

    told us that the only reason Boosh wanted the war was to steal Iraqi oil or because of daddy issues.

    No, the smart opposition to the war (which was everywhere) had nothing whatsoever to do with those issues. That you had your fingers in your ears and seemingly believed everything Bush was serving up t try and justify a pre-emptive invasion is irrelevant.

    In fact, the largest block expressing concern or objection to the war, used the pretense that they opposed military action – and this is the kicker- because it would cost hundreds of thousands of people, including those baby eating rapist soldiers, their lives, when Saddam used his WMDs. You know, those WMDs they now all tell us they knew back then didn’t exist.

    The arguments against the war didn’t rely on that.

    Not one fucking credible person EVER, not once, said that Saddam didn’t have WMDs.

    Of course they did. Right before the invasion there were high-level officials in Saddam’s reigeme who were providing intelligence and both said there were none. The evidence for WMDs was cobbled together vagueness. Again, look at how pathetic Powell’s presentation to the UN was – that was the best they could do and it was embarrassingly empty.

    In fact the few people that tried to make that argument where first dismissed as insane, or discovered to be paid by Saddam to say these things.

    Nonsense.

    But you leftists can keep trying to act like you had a legitimate concern at the time,

    I don’t have to ‘act’. You further undermine anything you say by trying to claim that I do.

    and that the war was either unjustified or done for nefarious/evil purposes, sold based on lies and blatantly obvious subterfuge,

    It was. That’s what all the investigations have confirmed. But it was blatantly obvious at the time (that the US and UK governments were cherry-picking intelligence and not presenting an accurate picture, and could not support their claims).

    or even that you had legitimate faux concerns,

    Why would you want to undermine your own comments with this nonsense?

    so you can fool yourself into thinking you had principled motives

    You’re so very desperate that you need to sink to this level already?

    rather than just the fact that your kind is driven by the usual base emotions and in general only feel war is good when it is one of their own doing it or to advance socialist paradises

    Oh that’s right, socialist paradises like NZ ;-)
    Clueless much?

    If you need proof I am right, just take a look how the “principled anti-war left” has reacted to Obama doing far worse than Boosh could ever dream of having done or how the left still wants to defend collectivism despite its history of mass murder and oppresssion. Ask Cindy Sheehan how she is doing these days.

    I can’t speak for people that aren’t me or groups I don’t belong to. Weak tactic Alex.

    Thumb up 2

  29. CM

    Prove your case to who? The UN? The world in general?

    Generally, if you want public support (which is always important in war). But yeah, to the UN specifically. Like it or not, that’s the international system we have.

    Sadaam didn’t believe in this philosophy when he invaded Kuwait. And Americans were not going to believe in this either in following 9-11.

    Right, it was about how Bush and Blair viewed the world post-9/11, not anything Iraq/Saddam was doing differently. This was an ideological decision. It was about regime change. But that’s not adequate justification for a pre-emptive invasion (which is why Blair faced 27 out o 27 lawyers at the Foreign Office telling him that the war was illegal) when there is no present danger, so they had to push the weak WMD angle by cherry-picking the intelligence and placing great weight on forged or clearly unreliable material.

    Sadaam thought the UN would protect him while at the same time making Iran & other neighbors believe that he was a strong military power that was not to be provoked. It was easy to believe that he had weapons programs going on in secret (lots of UN weapons inspectors’ frustration in the years leading up to that war).

    Frustration over blocked inspections is no proof that a program exists. As you point out, NOT having a program is a strong incentive to block inspections, to keep people guessing and wondering.

    MY already pointed out the “trucks to Syria” incident.

    And I already pointed out that this was nothing but speculation. You don’t unleash war based on speculation. Or a collection of speculations. You need to have solid reasons. There is a good reason the UN was set up and international law on this was developed.

    Even the Clintons have admitted that they believed he was holding WMD (John Edwards even made this a campaign point when running against Hillary in the primaries).

    I can’t speak for the motivations of politicians at particular times. But he was record wanting regime change, so presumably he had no problems with cherry-picked intelligence being used to sell the idea.

    Bush got Congressional approval for this war

    No question. It was a shameful event for both main parties.

    It was easy to believe in protecting American lives over placating the UN in those days, even for moderate Americans.

    No doubt partly because the UN is continually demonised in the US, at least by the right.
    The whole idea that the UN required “placating” when it was the US trying to bully their way into a pre-emptive aggressive war is just bizarre.

    To say the arguments were weak isn’t much of an argument now considering the number of Democrats that voted “yes”. Apparently they didn’t think the arguments were weak.

    That the Dems were on board doesn’t mean the arguments weren’t weak. They were. The Dems who voted for the war should be ashamed. If they did so because they were duped then they should be doing all they can to force those who duped them to take responsibility.

    Thumb up 2

  30. CM

    Oh really? Let’s take just one of the many justifications – Iraq had repeatedly violated its terms of surrender from the 1991 Gulf war by shooting at US planes and blocking/ejecting weapons inspectors forcing them to leave Iraq in 1998. Terms of surrender were agreed upon in 1991 in order that US-led coalition forces would stop decimating Iraqi troops.

    The no-fly zone wasn’t UN authorised, it was something applied by the UK and the US.
    If the US believed they were authorised to invade because of the terms of surrender in 1991 (Resolution 687), then why the need for Resolution 1441 (which was only agreed to be because it did not contain a trigger)?

    Violation of terms of surrender = Full Justification to resume hostilities in ANY book, and that’s been the case throughout history.

    Resolution 687 and the following related resolutions were superseded by 1441. If not, then those agreeing to 1441 were intentionally duped.

    You can pretend that repeated violation of terms of surrender is simply an unimportant “laundry-list” item, but that would be a lie, wouldn’t it?

    See above.

    It’s clear justification whether you admit it or not, and it’s one of MANY valid reasons given for toppling Saddam.

    I strongly disagree.

    Whether the cost in blood and treasure was worth it is a separate question.

    Agreed.

    The Iraq body count organization CM cites seems to have credibility problems

    That possibility is why I gave a link to a variety of assessments.

    Thumb up 1

  31. AlexInCT

    The no-fly zone wasn’t UN authorised

    Fuck the UN. Hitler has less blood and gore on his hands than most of these fuckers that make up that den of thieves. With so few rare examples they can be considered statistical outliers, if the UN is for something, I am by default against it. It’s a safe bet I will be on the side of right.

    Thumb up 3

  32. CM

    Fuck the UN. Hitler has less blood and gore on his hands than most of these fuckers that make up that den of thieves. With so few rare examples they can be considered statistical outliers, if the UN is for something, I am by default against it. It’s a safe bet I will be on the side of right.

    That’s all very nice (and unsurprisingly no less binary than usual), but the fact is that the US operates within the UN system. You don’t get to just throw your toys out when you don’t like something. That’s kind of the POINT of the whole thing. Again, what you’re railing against was established in the wake of what happened in the two world wars. The UN charter, which the US and UK shat on, was established to try and avoid pre-emptive invasions (which can/will ALWAYS be ‘justified’ within the country looking to do the invading).

    Thumb up 1

  33. Mook

    No question. It was a shameful event for both main parties.

    So voting for military actions that overthrew a mass murdering dictator are “shameful”? How so? Saddam violated Iraq’s terms of surrender and hostilities resumed. Nothing shameful about that, even if not everyone at the UN agreed (47 nations sent their citizens to take part in the coalition supporting the US, 37 of those sending troops).

    Just curious, did you similarly find it shameful that the US invaded Afghanistan to topple the Taliban? There was no UN authorization that for US military action in Afghanistan.

    Democrats weren’t duped in either instance. They were the ones giving warnings about Saddam throughout the 90’s and later.. even Obama supported invading Afghanistan.

    Thumb up 4

  34. CM

    So voting for military actions that overthrew a mass murdering dictator are “shameful”? How so?

    No, unquestionably accepting a misrepresentation of the intelligence on Iraq and voting accordingly was shameful. I was in the British Parliament to watch their vote, it was shameful and the arguments Blair etc was making was all so blatantly weak. The overthrow of a dictator is a good thing in principle, but there is a right way and wrong way to go about that, and that’s no small thing. Having legitimacy will usually make things far less difficult in the aftermath.

    Saddam violated Iraq’s terms of surrender and hostilities resumed.

    That ignores the process, including Resolutions, in the middle. Did the US rely on Resolution 1441 or not? You can’t just pick and choose. With the intelligence you want to rely on, or what Resolutions you want to rely on and which you want to discard.

    Nothing shameful about that,

    There was, because it was all done in such bad faith and so cynically. It was all so transparent and flimsy. Again, the Powell presentation was a perfect example. It was meant to be the showstopper. Instead it was garbage and laughable.

    ….even if not everyone at the UN agreed (47 nations sent their citizens to take part in the coalition supporting the US, 37 of those sending troops).

    The US didn’t have the numbers that mattered in the UN (they couldn’t even convince UNSC members that weren’t benefiting from the Oil for Food sham), and even in the nations that joined in the opposition was significant (often the majority).

    Just curious, did you similarly find it shameful that the US invaded Afghanistan to topple the Taliban? There was no UN authorization that for US military action in Afghanistan.

    That’s an excellent question. You’re right, there was no authorisation. However this was a far more complex situation, there was greater legitimacy (despite no authorisation) given 9-11 and the Taliban/AQ situation and the “inherent right” of “collective self-defence”. Which is why there was little worldwide opposition.
    Discussion about this issue here:
    http://www.echecalaguerre.org/index.php?id=187

    Democrats weren’t duped in either instance.

    They were either duped or they were actively happy to vote for war despite the weakness of the case, and the clear international legal ramifications. It’s either one or the other. I think it was very likely the latter.

    They were the ones giving warnings about Saddam throughout the 90′s and later.. even Obama supported invading Afghanistan.

    Sure, but they didn’t launch a pre-emptive invasion when nothing had changed.

    Thumb up 1

  35. AlexInCT

    That’s all very nice (and unsurprisingly no less binary than usual),

    There is nothing binary about it. The UN is a den of thieves. You may want to alter reality, but I remember how these fuckers always get caught causing trouble. Since we are discussing Iraq I can point you to at least 3 issues.

    1) The “Oil for food” program which really was a scam where some connected UN personnel made oodles of cash selling oil – illegally – for Saddam in retrun for kickbacks under the guise of allowing Iraq to make money to help feed the people. Of course Saddam spent most if not all of the money on his military, secret services, his palaces, and Viagra, while the people died and assholes like you blamed the US.

    2) The war in Iraq can directly be attributed to France & Russia’s actions in the UN that encouraged Saddam to not cooperate. Had they told Saddam to back the fuck off, Boosh would have not been able to go to war. But the greedy fucks thought they could use that corrupt den of thieves to keep the US from doing anything so they could wrangle even more lucrative oil and arms deals from Saddam. France even went so far as to run special operations intended to make the US intelligence community look bad at behest of their politicians whom stood to lose double if the UN’s “Oil for food” program and the oil and arms contracts with Saddam went away.

    3) The UN demanded to be there to run Iraq, pissed on everybody’s leg and called it warm rain, then bailed out as soon as some of the scumbags got killed. Lucky for the Iraqis the UN bailing out prevented us from having to deal with another scandal where UN personnel where caught fucking little boys & girls as seems to be the standard perk with foreign postings for those scumbags.

    Anyone that doesn’t see the anti-Semitic bunch of cocksuckers in the UN as anything but the embodiment of evil is not just a fool, but complicit. The few programs where they vaccinate kids don’t make up for the mountain of evil these fuckers do on a daily basis.

    I certainly agree that the UN has many fundamental problems.

    That’s like saying Pol Pot was just misunderstood but meant well.

    Thumb up 6

  36. CM

    ….assholes like you….

    I’ll leave it there then. None of what else you posted (above and otherwise) provides anything like justification for an invasion anyway.

    Thumb up 2

  37. Iconoclast

    Same old tired arguments. Saddam could have come clean but he didn’t, and he did violate UN resolutions. Even his people thought he had WMD.

    And the UN was/is an utterly corrupt body that was rigged against the USA. France vowed to veto ANY resolution the USA submitted, because France had sweetheart deals with Iraq, deals that an invasion would have threatened.

    That mistakes were made is obvious, and part of the Human Condition, but at the time, Saddam did indeed appear to be a threat. His kite-flying Paradise was invaded by the Evil USA while Ground Zero was still a smouldering pile of wreckage.

    One of the main points of the various overseas engagements was to engage the enemy OVER THERE and NOT OVER HERE.

    I am sick and tired of armchair quarterbacking made with the benefit of 20-20 hindsight.

    Thumb up 11

  38. Iconoclast

    Here is the speech that Bush gave to the Joint Session of Congress and
    the American People just nine days after 9/11 (September 20, 2001 — Emphasis added):

    “Our war on terror begins with al Qaeda, but it does not end there. It
    will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been
    found, stopped and defeated
    .”

    “This war will not be like the war against Iraq a decade ago, with a
    decisive liberation of territory and a swift conclusion. It will not
    look like the air war above Kosovo two years ago, where no ground
    troops were used and not a single American was lost in combat.

    “Our response involves far more than instant retaliation and isolated
    strikes. Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy
    campaign, unlike any other we have ever seen.
    It may include dramatic
    strikes, visible on TV, and covert operations, secret even in success.
    We will starve terrorists of funding, turn them one against another,
    drive them from place to place, until there is no refuge or no rest.
    And we will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism.
    Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you
    are with us, or you are with the terrorists.
    (Applause.) From this
    day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism
    will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.

    Thumb up 11

  39. Dave D

    Nice downvote of a repost of a presidential speech to a joint session that was received with a standing ovation by BOTH SIDES. Partisan hack……

    Thumb up 4

  40. Iconoclast

    The same can be said for all of yours.

    Irrelevant. Given that we were attacked on 9/11 and you weren’t, our arguments intrinsically carry more weight than yours. That you will inevitably disagree is likewise irrelevant.

    And it remains a fact of life that the UN is an utterly corrupt and useless body.

    Although “the wars” (little “w”, referring to the engagements in Afghanistan and Iraq) will wind down and end, “the War” (big “W”, refering to the war being waged by Islamic “extremism”) continues, even if our leadership, such as it is, refuses to realize that.

    Thumb up 8

  41. CM

    Irrelevant. Given that we were attacked on 9/11 and you weren’t, our arguments intrinsically carry more weight than yours. That you will inevitably disagree is likewise irrelevant.

    Regime change become a top priority as soon as 9/11 occured. That’s on record. It’s beyond argument. The great problem was trying to dress it up in some kind of legitimacy – to make it look like anything other than pre-emptive war, thus trashing 50+ years of international law and norms. The Bush Administration tried and failed, but went ahead and did it anyway. Blair was fully on board because he shared the same “post 9/11 prism” ideology. Because at the end of the day, ideology trumps anything else.
    You are totally right that I disagree that you get to dismiss inconvenient arguments because of emotion. I could point out that I was minutes from being blown up on a train and the bombers acknowledged the Iraq War as being a key motiviation, so can I say that whatever I say is far more relevant than what you say? Yeah, didn’t think so.

    And it remains a fact of life that the UN is an utterly corrupt and useless body.

    The vast majority of the work the UN does is non-political. Almost all of it.

    You said France “vowed to veto ANY resolution the USA submitted”, but they didn’t veto 1441 (which was unanimous. We’ll never know if they would have vetoed any others, because no other resolutions were put up for voting (because the US knew it didn’t have sufficient support – because they couldn’t prove their case wasn’t simply about regime change, and UN and IAEA inspectors starting getting access). .Canada (though not on the Security Council) circulated a memo that advocated setting specific timetables and deadlines for disarmament. The US was not interested. The French, German, and Russian foreign ministers offered a separate plan for obtaining Iraq’s “full and effective disarmament”. Went nowhere, even though Blix was behind it (he even drew up a list of 29 “clusters” of issues that Iraq must resolve, and started to figure out the order in which it must do so).
    None of this exonerates the Iraqis, who clearly lied, cheated, and deceived the rest of the world at every chance. Nor does it excuse the French, who exploited every loophole to evade the fundamental questions of how to deal effectively with Iraq’s misbehaviour. But a whole lot of wrongs don’t make a right. And being dishonest about what happened (the whole ‘there were no options’ nonsense) is equally as unhelpful.

    Thumb up 2

  42. ilovecress

    Irrelevant. Given that we were attacked on 9/11 and you weren’t.

    I was working 100 yeards from Russell Square ion 7/7 and saw the blood splattered on the side of the BMI building. You can’t call it the Globval War on Terror and then deny the global nature of it’s influence.

    Thumb up 6

  43. CM

    I was working 100 yeards from Russell Square ion 7/7 and saw the blood splattered on the side of the BMI building.

    Gross.
    My wife was working on Tottenham Court Road (a few blocks away) and heard the explosion but thankfully didn’t see anything.

    You can’t call it the Globval War on Terror and then deny the global nature of it’s influence.

    Indeed.

    Thumb up 1

  44. AlexInCT

    One of the few positive things I think Obama has done is the withdrawal.

    The sad fact most people will never get to know because the LSM wants Obama to get credit for this, is that the entire timetable/plan for this withdrawal was completely laid out under evil emperor Boosh, and all Obama did was follow it. I understand that for some it is a miracle Obama didn’t fuck it up, but come on.

    Thumb up 4

  45. Iconoclast

    Regime change become a top priority as soon as 9/11 occured. That’s on record. It’s beyond argument.

    The problem is that you’re trying to pretend that it was regime change just for the sake of regime change, but Hussein had a history of violating UN Resolutions, he was perceived as a threat to the region, and he was a sponsor of terrorism.

    It was regime change for the purpose of eliminating a terrorism-sponsoring state. In the speech I quoted, Bush made it clear that it was not a war against al Qaeda, but against all states that sponsored terrorism, which would include Iraq.

    You said France “vowed to veto ANY resolution the USA submitted”, but they didn’t veto 1441 (which was unanimous. We’ll never know if they would have vetoed any others, because no other resolutions were put up for voting (because the US knew it didn’t have sufficient support – because they couldn’t prove their case wasn’t simply about regime change, and UN and IAEA inspectors starting getting access).

    You’re getting the cart before the horse; I didn’t claim that Chirac vowed to veto any US proposal prior to 1441. The reason the USA didn’t bother to put up any resolutions after 1441 was because Chirac had vowed to veto any resolution that would lead to war “whatever the circumstances”, and I have already explained the sweetheart deals between France and Iraq. You didn’t listen then, and there is no reason to expect you will listen now.

    Iraq was in violation of UN Resolution 1441, said Resolution being a response to Hussein’s violating UN Resolution 687 and a host of others.

    It wasn’t about “dressing things up” as you so cynically phrase it. It was about dealing with perceived threats in spite of myopia and corruption on the part of the UN.

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  46. Iconoclast

    I could point out that I was minutes from being blown up on a train and the bombers acknowledged the Iraq War as being a key motiviation, so can I say that whatever I say is far more relevant than what you say?

    On a purely personal level, sure, why not? But we aren’t discussing purely personal, anecdotal stuff. We’re discussing national policy, and while you did narrowly escape being a victim of terrorism, 3000 of my countrymen did not. And by “countrymen”, I mean men, women and children. The purpose of Bush’s ‘War on Terror” was to prevent another 9/11 from happening on US soil by systematically getting rid of terrorism-sponsoring states and strongholds. Unfortunately, it’s a project that is far too ambitious for one Administration to take on, so it was doomed from the start. As a consequence, I fear that another disaster ten times worse than 9/11 awaits us. Just a matter of time, as we become complacent and fall asleep at the switch, while bellyaching over past mistakes. Our current leadership seems more interested in appeasement and cover up than engagement, drone strikes notwithstanding (cough-BENGHAZI-cough). And many of us fear that drones may be used against American Citizens at some point. No due process. No trial by jury. Just oblivion at the hand of our CIC, for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

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  47. CM

    The problem is that you’re trying to pretend that it was regime change just for the sake of regime change, but Hussein had a history of violating UN Resolutions, he was perceived as a threat to the region, and he was a sponsor of terrorism.

    Nothing had changed in terms of his behaviour which required an invasion, the most serious of all options and surely last resort. It’s an extremely low bar to set if that constitutes the required justification to invade a country. In the end the US invaded at the point where more progress than ever was being made. Blic etc had obtained unqualified and unrestricted access. Yes, that was clearly because of the immense pressure Saddam had been put under. But because regime change was the only satisfactory outcome to Bush and Blair, it didn’t matter. It was therefore demonstrated that ‘weapons inspections’ was simply an angle.

    It was regime change for the purpose of eliminating a terrorism-sponsoring state. In the speech I quoted, Bush made it clear that it was not a war against al Qaeda, but against all states that sponsored terrorism, which would include Iraq.

    But nothing in international law permits a country or collection of countries to pre-emptively invade another. And for good reason. You don’t just invade a country because you’ve decided on a new policy. Sovereignty isn’t just for the US. Does Iran get to invade Israel on the basis that Israel is a “terrorism-sponsoring state” (in their eyes)? This is the problem – what sort of precedent does it set for nations to decide to take action that they see as justified?
    That’s notwithstanding the lack of link between Iraq and al Qaeda, despite Bush etc doing their best (which was still extremely poor) to link it all together.

    You’re getting the cart before the horse; I didn’t claim that Chirac vowed to veto any US proposal prior to 1441.

    You said “France vowed to veto ANY resolution the USA submitted, because France had sweetheart deals with Iraq, deals that an invasion would have threatened”. There was no qualification. But if you’re clarifying now, that’s cool.

    The reason the USA didn’t bother to put up any resolutions after 1441 was because Chirac had vowed to veto any resolution that would lead to war “whatever the circumstances”, and I have already explained the sweetheart deals between France and Iraq. You didn’t listen then, and there is no reason to expect you will listen now.

    War wasn’t the only obvious way to reach an agreement. But the US didn’t want to entertain any of the other options (as I noted, but which you didn’t listen to, so there is no reason to expect you’d listen now) even though there had been breakthroughs in terms of inspections (which is what Chirac was responding to with his talk of veto). The pressure was working, but apparently that didn’t matter. As Chirac noted, the US had already effectively won. As much as a despise Chirac, and he had clear motive to take a position that would keep deals in place, he was still right.
    There is also the matter of whether a French (or Russian) veto was even relevant – it’s likely that the US wouldn’t have had the votes necessary anyway. (because they hadn’t made their case, and were looking to throw the inspectors under the bus).

    Iraq was in violation of UN Resolution 1441, said Resolution being a response to Hussein’s violating UN Resolution 687 and a host of others.

    Absolutely. But 1441 did not provide the automatic trigger for war. It provided the basis for an additional resolution, which could then authorise war. Which is why it said “serious consequences” and not …all necessary means…”.

    It wasn’t about “dressing things up” as you so cynically phrase it.

    Calling me cynical on this issue is the height of hypocrisy. The whole endeavour was the very definiution of cynical.

    It was about dealing with perceived threats in spite of myopia and corruption on the part of the UN.

    There are “perceived threats” everywhere that also pose no clear and present danger. Perceived myopia and actual corruption at the UN doesn’t excuse dramatising the threat of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and trashing 50+ years of international law/norms with a clear breach of the UN Charter. Blix etc were gettting the most progress they’d ever had when the US told them to leave because an invasion was going to take place three days later.
    The Bush administration certainly wanted to go to war, and it advanced eradication of weapons of mass destruction as the main reason. As Wolfowitz has since explained, it was the only rationale that was acceptable to all parts of the U.S. administration, and which would carry sufficient weight with the public and with the U.S. Congress.

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  48. CM

    Bush got Congressional approval for this war. It was easy to believe in protecting American lives over placating the UN in those days, even for moderate Americans. To say the arguments were weak isn’t much of an argument now considering the number of Democrats that voted “yes”. Apparently they didn’t think the arguments were weak.

    Democrats weren’t duped in either instance.

    …the Administration’s statements about Iraq’s nuclear capabilities had a large impact on congressional and public perceptions about the threat posed by Iraq. Many members of Congress were more influenced by the Administration’s nuclear a ssertions than by any other piece of evidence. Rep. Waxman, for example, wrote to President Bu sh in June 2003 that in voting for the
    Iraq war resolution: “Like other members, I was particularly influenced by your views about Iraq’s nuclear intentions. Although chemical and biological weapons can inflict casualties, no threat is greater than the threat of nuclear weapons.”

    Numerous members of Congress stressed Iraq’s nuclear threat in their floor statements explaining their support of the resolution. Despite the significance of the nuclear issue, President Bush, Vice PresidentCheney, Secretary Powell, Secretary Rumsfeld, and National Security Advisor Rice repeatedly misrepresented the nuclear threat posed by Iraq. The five officials made 49 separate public appearances in which they made misleading statements about Iraq’s nuclear threat. In
    these appearances, they made a total of 81 misleading statements regarding Iraq’s nuclear activities.

    The 30-day period with the greatest number of misleading statements was the period before the congressional vote on the Iraq war resolution. Congress voted on the measure on October 10 and October 11, 2002. From September 8 through October 8, 2002, the five officials made 64 misleading statements in 16 public appearances.

    On October 7, 2002, three days before the congressional votes on the Iraqi war resolution, resident Bush gave a speech in Cincinnati, Ohio, with 11 misleading statements, the most by any of the five officials in a single appearance.

    http://downingstreetmemo.com/docs/iraq_on_the_record.pdf

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  49. Iconoclast

    Nothing had changed in terms of his behaviour…

    Exactly — he was still sponsoring terrorism and was still violating UN Resolutions.

    Nothing had changed in terms of his behaviour which required an invasion…

    Opinion noted.

    In the end the US invaded at the point where more progress than ever was being made. Blic etc had obtained unqualified and unrestricted access…

    Yes, Mr. Hans Blix, who headed the IAEA during the period Saddam Hussein was building a nuclear program right under the IAEA’s nose, and who was selected by none other than France and Russia to head up UNMOVIC in January 2000, after they vetoed the USA’s choice, Rolf Ekeus, who was deemed “too aggressive”… Nobody at the UN wanted to hurt Mr. Hussein’s feelings, I guess, and Blix had a history of being rather chummy with Iraq.

    From the USA’s perspective, it appeared that the UN was simply coddling Hussein.

    But nothing in international law permits a country or collection of countries to pre-emptively invade another.

    By dressing up your argument with “preemptively invade” rhetoric, you are ignoring, perhaps deliberately, the fact that Iraq was in continued, ongoing violation of UN Resolutions, and that Iraq was an ongoing sponsor of terrorism, some of which was indeed aimed at the USA. Iraq harbored Ramzi Yousef, who was responsible for the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993. Also, for the record, Yousef was the nephew of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who masterminded 9/11, the point being that “preemptive” is somewhat misleading. Also, Hussein did hire out an attempt to assassinate George H. W. Bush. It isn’t as if Hussein’s Iraq was just some innocent, podunk little country that the USA decided to kick around for no reason.

    …what sort of precedent does it set for nations to decide to take action that they see as justified?

    What sort of precedent did 9/11 itself set?

    You said “France vowed to veto ANY resolution the USA submitted, because France had sweetheart deals with Iraq, deals that an invasion would have threatened”. There was no qualification.

    And so you immediately jumped to the conclusion that I was including 1441? On what basis? You yourself said that it was unanimously passed, so why would it be included? Why would I need “qualification” if context were applied? I was under the impression that you were already somewhat knowledgeable and familiar with the sequence of events. Perhaps I should avoid making such mistakes going forward.

    But the US didn’t want to entertain any of the other options (as I noted, but which you didn’t listen to, so there is no reason to expect you’d listen now)…

    Yeah, time-tables and clusters — unlike you, I do listen. But those were simply more delay tactics, which wouldn’t have been necessary had Hussein been forthcoming up front. And as I have already mentioned, Blix had a history of being rather generous to Iraq when it came to compliance, so his “29 clusters” didn’t necessarily mean much.

    You can go on and on until the universe burns out, but Ground Zero was still a smoldering mess when all this haggling was going on, and it bought time for Hussein to make any contingencies he deemed necessary. Did he relocate his WMD? You claim that there is “no evidence” that he did, but lack of evidence is not evidence of lack. Meanwhile, the Duelfer report concluded that Hussein had every intention of rebuilding his WMD programs once UN sanctions were lifted:

    • Saddam’s primary goal from 1991 to 2003 was to have UN sanctions lifted, while maintaining the security of the Regime. He sought to balance the need to cooperate with UN inspections -— to gain support for lifting sanctions —- with his intention to preserve Iraq’s intellectual capital for WMD with a minimum of foreign intrusiveness and loss of face. Indeed, this remained the goal to the end of the Regime, as the starting of any WMD program, conspicuous or otherwise, risked undoing the progress achieved in eroding sanctions and jeopardizing a political end to the embargo and international monitoring.

    • The introduction of the Oil-For-Food program (OFF) in late 1996 was a key turning point for the Regime. OFF rescued Baghdad’s economy from a terminal decline created by sanctions. The Regime quickly came to see that OFF could be corrupted to acquire foreign exchange both to further undermine sanctions and to provide the means to enhance dual-use infrastructure and potential WMD-related development.

    • By 2000-2001, Saddam had managed to mitigate many of the effects of sanctions and undermine their international support. Iraq was within striking distance of a de facto end to the sanctions regime, both in terms of oil exports and the trade embargo, by the end of 1999.

    Saddam wanted to recreate Iraq’s WMD capability —- which was essentially destroyed in 1991 —- after sanctions were removed and Iraq’s economy stabilized, but probably with a different mix of capabilities to that which previously existed. Saddam aspired to develop a nuclear capability —- in an incremental fashion, irrespective of international pressure and the resulting economic risks —- but he intended to focus on ballistic missile and tactical chemical warfare (CW) capabilities.

    If the report is accurate (and there is no real reason to think it isn’t), it arguably provides justification for “preemptively” invading Hussein’s Iraq, even if we dismiss Iraq’s general violation of UN Resolutions, history of sponsoring terrorism, harboring of a terrorist who did attack the USA, and the attempt on a President’s life. Even if the UN disagrees.

    Calling me cynical on this issue is the height of hypocrisy. The whole endeavour was the very definiution of cynical.

    Nope. Nothing “cynical” about protecting the American people from another terrorist attack and seeking justice, nor in being supportive of the effort. Quite the contrary, actually. It was all of the opposition to bringing Hussein to justice — in order to protect financial gain, no less — that is “the very definition of cynical”.

    Thumb up 9

  50. AlexInCT

    Nope. Nothing “cynical” about protecting the American people from another terrorist attack and seeking justice, nor in being supportive of the effort. Quite the contrary, actually. It was all of the opposition to bringing Hussein to justice — in order to protect financial gain, no less — that is “the very definition of cynical”.

    If the people pretending there was no moral reason for the Iraqi invasion, or claiming it was done to steal oil, because Boosh had daddy issues, or because the US military needed some blood to feed its baby eaters, had an ounce of consistency and decency, these facts would have by now turned them sour on the whole UN den of thieves and the idiotic assertion that after the lessons of 9/11 Saddam could be contained indefinitely (at great cost to the US and GB, with no skin off their fucking backs).

    Shorter CM: I don’t think Iraq was a threat because he was killing you people and those blood drinking evil Jews, and since I don’t like either of you anyway, the invasion was unjustified.

    You can pretend otherwise CM, but I am now convinced that is your logic.

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  51. Xetrov

    Regime change become a top priority as soon as 9/11 occured. That’s on record.

    We’ve had this discussion previously on Moorewatch, apparently you’ve forgotten the “Iraq Liberation Act of 1998″ again. It was official US Foreign policy to have regime change in Iraq since the sitting President signed it into law. Let’s see, 1998, that had to have been Bush, right?

    Thumb up 3

  52. CM

    Exactly — he was still sponsoring terrorism and was still violating UN Resolutions.

    There was nothing that justified an invasion, which is clearly the most serious of all measures.

    Opinion noted.

    No, that’s established international law. For good reason. That you have some UN Derangement Syndrome doesn’t change that. Neither does the actual corruption and sham Oil For Food programme that should have been addressed long before 2003.

    Yes, Mr. Hans Blix, who headed the IAEA during the period Saddam Hussein was building a nuclear program right under the IAEA’s nose, and who was selected by none other than France and Russia to head up UNMOVIC in January 2000, after they vetoed the USA’s choice, Rolf Ekeus, who was deemed “too aggressive”… Nobody at the UN wanted to hurt Mr. Hussein’s feelings, I guess, and Blix had a history of being rather chummy with Iraq.

    Right, and Biix had accepted responsibility for that failure, but the system of inspections had been vastly improved since then.

    “Cosmetic inspection is worse than no inspection at all, because it can lull people into a false sense of security,” he allowed. IAEA practiced a weak form of inspection until 1991, he explained, one that had been designed in the 1970s to check countries like Germany for compliance with nonproliferation laws, not for totalitarian regimes trying to build weapons in secrecy. As a result of the 1991 failure in Iraq, the IAEA had launched a systematic change in its protocols that were formally adopted in 1997.

    http://berkeley.edu/news/media/releases/2004/03/18_blix.shtml

    How was that relevant to the fact that the US built up pressure to the point that real progress was being reported, and that stage the US told the inspectors to get out because an invasion was 3 days away?

    From the USA’s perspective, it appeared that the UN was simply coddling Hussein.

    That’s fine, but the answer doesn’t have to be an unauthorised invasion.

    By dressing up your argument with “preemptively invade” rhetoric, you are ignoring, perhaps deliberately, the fact that Iraq was in continued, ongoing violation of UN Resolutions, and that Iraq was an ongoing sponsor of terrorism, some of which was indeed aimed at the USA.

    WTF are you talking about? This isn’t a matter of ‘dressing anything up’ – It’s very clear international law. There was a process in place. How is describing a process “dressing something up”?
    Yes, there were ongoing violations of UN Resolutions. Yes, Saddam was a minor player on thw world terrorism circuit, but certainly nothing more than minor and no greater a threat with respect to terrorism than the leadership of Iran, North Korea, or Libya.
    Enough with the ‘rhetoric’ nonsense Iconoclast, it’s just silly. Referring to the invasion as pre-emptive isn’t evenly remotely ‘rhetoric’. It’s unquestionably a fact.

    Iraq harbored Ramzi Yousef, who was responsible for the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993. Also, for the record, Yousef was the nephew of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who masterminded 9/11, the point being that “preemptive” is somewhat misleading.

    No, it’s not misleading at all. You don’t invade a country because you suspect a sovereign state is providing support to a terrorist. Nothing in international law provides that authority. And you can criticise international law all you like, but the US is a member of the UN and a signatory to the UN Charter.

    Also, Hussein did hire out an attempt to assassinate George H. W. Bush.

    “This is the guy who tried to kill my dad” isn’t in the UN Charter either.

    It isn’t as if Hussein’s Iraq was just some innocent, podunk little country that the USA decided to kick around for no reason.

    Nobody was or is claiming he was remotely ‘innocent’, or that Iraq wasn’t an issue. That’s just silly.

    What sort of precedent did 9/11 itself set?

    In terms of international law? Certainly nothing related to the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
    Iraq was about as close to irrelevant to 9/11 as it’s possible to be. A whole lot of other countries with dictators in charge were about as relevant, some more so.

    And so you immediately jumped to the conclusion that I was including 1441? On what basis?

    On the basis of your clear and unqualified statement.

    You yourself said that it was unanimously passed, so why would it be included? Why would I need “qualification” if context were applied? I was under the impression that you were already somewhat knowledgeable and familiar with the sequence of events. Perhaps I should avoid making such mistakes going forward.

    I already said: “But if you’re clarifying now, that’s cool”, so that could (should) have been the end of it. But if you want to be a dick about it, go ahead.

    Yeah, time-tables and clusters — unlike you, I do listen.

    Clusters?
    The US had an important seasonal timetable. There was serious logistical considerations.

    But those were simply more delay tactics,which wouldn’t have been necessary had Hussein been forthcoming up front.

    Your opinion is noted. But Saddam had completely run out of delaying tactics. There had been a breakthrough, as reported by Blic on 7 March.
    http://www.un.org/Depts/unmovic/SC7asdelivered.htm
    Which substantially lessened the likelihood that the UN was going to authorise a war. Which is why the US informed Blix and his team, who were charging ahead like never before, to get out.

    And as I have already mentioned, Blix had a history of being rather generous to Iraq when it came to compliance, so his “29 clusters” didn’t necessarily mean much.

    Ah I see. It doesn’t matter what Blix said because he wasn’t actually a professional doing his job- he was biased. Nice. How unsurprisingly convenient. Just like with climate scientists – just because they determine something you don’t like, they’re inherently corrupt. Or at least it’s ok to speculate that they might be (because you have standards, right).

    You can go on and on until the universe burns out,

    No, I think I’ll be well dead by then. But I do appreciate the generous invitation.

    but Ground Zero was still a smoldering mess when all this haggling was going on,

    Yes, I’m aware of the extent of the emotion and how the US Government did their best to play on it to get public support for an invasion of Iraq. I’ve already linked to the specifics of all the dishonesty, and most of it involves emotional appeal.
    If I was one of the families of 9/11 I would have been incensed by how the death of my loved one and so many others was being cynically manipulated to generate support for an invasion of Iraq and the forseeable deaths of so many people.

    and it bought time for Hussein to make any contingencies he deemed necessary. Did he relocate his WMD? You claim that there is “no evidence” that he did, but lack of evidence is not evidence of lack.

    The claims made by the Administration (and Blair) were unequivocal, even though the intelligence didn’t support them (and there were insiders providing intelligence about there being no WMDs). You don’t go to war on guesswork, and especially not when you have intelligence which suggests your guesswork may be wrong. Not lawfully anyway. Not without trashing international law.

    If the report is accurate (and there is no real reason to think it isn’t), it arguably provides justification for “preemptively” invading Hussein’s Iraq, even if we dismiss Iraq’s general violation of UN Resolutions, history of sponsoring terrorism, harboring of a terrorist who did attack the USA, and the attempt on a President’s life. Even if the UN disagrees.

    Absoutely not in international law (there are only three legitimate triggers and your list meets none of them). Your arguments about “justification” all require setting international law aside. But when you do that, it doesn’t really matter how ‘strong’ your arguments are. So long as you believe them, even if they’re a complete pile of lies, the existence of them is all that matters.
    I like how you say that it’s “my claim” about the lack of evidence about the movement of WMDs, even though it’s not my claim, it’s what the assessments found. But it comes to something you like, all of a sudden “here is no real reason to think it isn’t” accurate.

    Nope.

    Yep, it a was a transparent sham from start to finish.

    Nothing “cynical” about protecting the American people from another terrorist attack

    When there is no intelligence of any, it sure is cynical to invade a country on the (partial) basis that there could be one. Blair was doing it too with his “45 minutes” nonsense.
    What you’re saying is vague enough to justify a whole of invasions around the world by a number of players.

    and seeking justice,

    Justice for whom? How exactly was justice served?

    nor in being supportive of the effort. Quite the contrary, actually.

    Being supportive of the effort was just a matter of not being interested enough, not being inteligent enough, or straight-out cognitive dissonance.

    It was all of the opposition to bringing Hussein to justice — in order to protect financial gain, no less — that is “the very definition of cynical”.

    Yeah, all I really wanted to do was to protect the French deals. And I certainly didn’t want Saddam to account for his crimes.
    If that’s what you believe then you’re discussing this with someone you invented.

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  53. CM

    If the people pretending there was no moral reason for the Iraqi invasion, or claiming it was done to steal oil, because Boosh had daddy issues, or because the US military needed some blood to feed its baby eaters, had an ounce of consistency and decency, these facts would have by now turned them sour on the whole UN den of thieves and the idiotic assertion that after the lessons of 9/11 Saddam could be contained indefinitely (at great cost to the US and GB, with no skin off their fucking backs).

    Are you talking about individuals or some sort of collective opposition?
    This is one of your main tactics Alex – you attribute any argument made within a larger group to an individual. It’s ridiculous.
    Why would I “turn sour” on the “whole UN den of thieves” when almost evrything the UN does is behind the scenes (because it’s not controversal) and not political.
    In order to be able to respond you first need to make sense.

    Shorter CM: I don’t think Iraq was a threat because he was killing you people and those blood drinking evil Jews, and since I don’t like either of you anyway, the invasion was unjustified.

    You can pretend otherwise CM, but I am now convinced that is your logic.

    That comes as absolutely no surprise to me, it’s just you being you. You continually demonstrate that you’re simply unwilling to consider an opposite viewpoint as legitimate or rational or reasonable. It always must be retarded or evil. You ALWAYS do what you just did – completely mangle it (to the point where it’s completely unrecognisable) so you can justify your opposition to it. You don’t seem to have the ability to simply accept and disagree. The far weirder thing is that you don’t seem to see how obvious it is.

    We’ve had this discussion previously on Moorewatch, apparently you’ve forgotten the “Iraq Liberation Act of 1998″ again. It was official US Foreign policy to have regime change in Iraq since the sitting President signed it into law. Let’s see, 1998, that had to have been Bush, right?

    What gave you the impression that I’d “forgotten” it?
    We discussed it here in 2007.
    http://moorewatch.right-thinking.com/index.php/forums/viewthread/2670/P50/#57314
    I said: “I can’t see anything were Clinton creates a pretext for invading Iraq.”
    You replied: “Who said anything about an invasion or other actual plan to remove Saddam from power?”

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  54. Iconoclast

    No, that”s established international law.

    Where exactly is it stipulated in “international law” that ongoing defiance of UN Resolutions, harboring of terrorists and sponsorship of terrorism is not grounds for military intervention?

    That you have some UN Derangement Syndrome doesn”t change that.

    This coming from someone who called Hamas “a social welfare organisation” while ignoring/downplaying the fact that they”re a terrorist organization. Viewing organizations such as Hamas or the UN through rose-colored glasses is your prerogative, of course. But try to be less disappointed when others choose to discard the glasses.
    Is The UN The Root Cause Of Global Terrorism?

    The Resolution, in effect, gave Palestinians the right to savagely butcher people for the slightest provocation, and restrained a victimized party from defending itself no matter how brutal the attacks against her. With the gist of this Resolution expressed repeatedly throughout the years of the intifada, the Resolution became a downright sanction of terrorism.

    What”s worse, Israel”s use of force to defend its citizens from deadly violence is referred to in the Resolution as “excessive” and is, in the UN”s view, worthy of condemnation. This is like telling Columbine security personnel that their use of force against would-be mass killers is excessive. Exactly how much force is excessive when you”re defending yourself against being killed?

    One thing is for sure, it made an impression on the Palestinians. In the 12 months after Resolution 1322 was passed there were, according to the most conservative estimates, over 100 Palestinian terrorist attacks against Israel (the previous 12 months, less than a dozen).

    On September 20, 2006, at the 61st UN General Assembly, Kofi Annan had the audacity to make this insulting understatement: “supporters of Israel feel that it is harshly judged by standards that are not applied to its enemies, and too often this is true, particularly in some UN bodies.” In an honest and contrite speech, he would have said, “I feel shame and regret for unjustly vilifying Israel and the United States in the eyes of the world, and unleashing global terrorism for the foreseeable future.”

    The phoniness of Annan”s statement became apparent only two months later at the annual “Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People,” by the screening of a film encouraging children to glorify death and murder. In one scene, small children in a classroom shout, “Jerusalem, I sacrifice myself to you, land of my grandfather, we will return.” (The previous year, they had a moment of silence to honor suicide murderers.) This was not a Hamas training camp — this was the UN!

    The UN Is NOT Your Friend

    Many other prominent figures have insisted that the United States must surrender its sovereignty to the United Nations in order to protect its citizens from terrorism. Writing in the September 24th New York Times, Robert Wright, a visiting scholar at the University of Pennsylvania, declared that only by abandoning our national independence can we prevent a terrorist attack involving biological or nuclear weapons. According to Wright, “the extreme devotion of … conservatives to national sovereignty” has thwarted UN efforts to control the spread of weapons of mass destruction, since those efforts require “giving the world more control over your own behavior.”

    “Clinging to American sovereignty at all costs isn”t just wrong. It”s impossible,” contends Wright. “If governments don”t respond with new forms of international organization, civilization as we”ve come to know it could truly be over. So the question isn”t whether to surrender national sovereignty. The question is how – carefully or systematically, or chaotically and catastrophically?”

    The fundamental principle of our constitutional system is that individual rights come from God. To protect those rights, governments are given specific and limited powers that are exercised by officials who are accountable to the governed. To create such a political system, our Founding Fathers recognized the need to withdraw from a globe-spanning empire. They later wrote a Constitution that specifically enumerated the powers of government, and by listing those powers the Framers limited them.

    Under the UN”s concept of government, it is individual “rights,” rather than government powers, that are enumerated. This means that those “rights” are actually government-granted privileges that can be revoked at any time. In Article 29 of the UN”s “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” we read that none of the “rights” supposedly granted therein can be used in a fashion “contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.” Under the UN”s formula, the powers of government are completely unaccountable and can be expanded at whim – and individual “rights” are just as easily dispensed with.

    There is nothing “deranged” about recognizing that the UN is corrupt, and is a threat to our sovereignty. Trying to dismiss said recognition as some sort of “derangement syndrome” is itself deranged.

    Neither does the actual corruption and sham Oil For Food programme that should have been addressed long before 2003.

    Why should we trust the judgement of an admittedly corrupt body when it comes to adjudicating “international law”?

    On one level, I get it. France and Russia were indeed looking out for their own best interests, as all sovereign nations must do. But that does call their judgement into question, especially when Chirac uses the phrase, “whatever the circumstances”. That tells me that France would veto even if massive stockpiles of WMD were found and Hussein publicly defied the UN to do anything about it. “Whatever the circumstances” means “whatever the circumstances”.

    Right, and Biix had accepted responsibility for that failure…

    Good for him, but he was still overly friendly toward Hussein”s regime.

    How was that relevant to the fact that the US built up pressure to the point that real progress was being reported…

    “Real” according to whom?

    That”s fine, but the answer doesn”t have to be an unauthorised invasion.

    It does if authorization is to be denied “whatever the circumstances”. Chirac”s veto would provide said denial, regardless of whether other countries supported the USA or not. Chirac”s vow to use the veto “whatever the circumstances” effectively derailed any momentum the USA had.

    How is describing a process “dressing something up”?

    Nice moving of goal posts, there. “Dressing it up” did not refer to your “describing a process”. It referred to your use of “preemptive” when the issue was Hussein”s prior and ongoing behavior. The reasons for the invasion were many, but you pretend it was solely WMD when you use the term “preemptive”. Yes, there was some preemption involved, but that”s far from the whole story, and your rhetoric ignores that.

    It”s unquestionably a fact.

    Only if you pretend that WMD was the only issue.

    You don”t invade a country because you suspect a sovereign state is providing support to a terrorist.

    This isn”t about “suspicion”, and it isn”t about single issues in a vacuum. It”s about a collection of issues.

    And you can criticise international law all you like, but the US is a member of the UN and a signatory to the UN Charter.

    Yes, that is a real problem. The USA should withdraw, reclaim Turtle Bay, and let the UN go it”s merry way elsewhere. The USA should be capable of providing humanitarian aid to the world, with or without the UN”s help, without having to be a member.

    “This is the guy who tried to kill my dad” isn’t in the UN Charter either.

    It isn”t about “someone”s dad”. It”s about an ex-US President who led a coalition in a previous military engagement against Iraq. Nice try at trivializing, though. Well done.

    Yes, I”m aware of the extent of the emotion…

    More attempts to trivialize. Nice. Perhaps Charles Duelfer can explain it better, not that it will ever sink in, of course. This is primarily for the benefit of lurkers (emphasis added):
    No Books Were Cooked

    U.S. understanding of Iraq was also hindered by the fact that it had contacts with very few people who understood Saddam’s regime. The embassy had been closed for a decade. The number of Americans who had any contact with regime officials was very small so opportunities to understand regime perspectives were limited — much as they are today with Tehran and Pyongyang.

    None of this is President Bush’s fault, however. In the context of the days after the 9/11 attacks, when concern over the next attack on the U.S. homeland was palpable, America’s tolerance for risk was dramatically lowered. There was no appetite for minimizing any threat that could repeat the trauma of the 9/11 attacks. Saddam was one of those threats.

    The byline of this article is (emphasis added):

    Mistakes were made in the lead-up to war in Iraq ten years ago. But fabricating intelligence on weapons of mass destruction to serve policy wasn’t one of them.

    Your forthcoming disagreement is as irrelevant as it is inevitable.

    How exactly was justice served?

    Hussein was put on trial, found guilty, and hanged.

    Sometimes you can be really, really thick. And I am sure you will sit there on your high horse and explain that this still would have happened had there been no invasion, if we continued to acquiesce to the UN’s machinations.

    Yeah, all I really wanted to do was to protect the French deals

    You really think this is All About You, don’t you?

    And I certainly didn’t want Saddam to account for his crimes.

    For all I know, you didn’t.

    Being supportive of the effort was just a matter of not being interested enough, not being inteligent enough, or straight-out cognitive dissonance.

    Your unbridled arrogance is utterly palpable.

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  55. balthazar

    And you can criticise international law all you like, but the US is a member of the UN and a signatory to the UN Charter.

    And that means dick squat, anything the UN passes, from a treaty down to a fart, even if we “approve” it, needs to be ratified by congress. Untill then (and sometimes even after) its shitpaper.

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  56. Iconoclast

    Being supportive of the effort was just a matter of not being interested enough, not being inteligent enough, or straight-out cognitive dissonance.

    Seriously, how does one respond to this? Basically, CM is asserting that if we disagree with him/her, we are either stupid, disinterested/ignorant, or suffering some kind of mental dysfunction.

    So much for any pretense toward being objective, and merely interested in discussion. CM is obviously here to browbeat those who hold views different from his/hers. Perhaps that is the reason CM prefers to be here rather than left-leaning blogs. There, CM would be just another pea in the pod. Since the majority there lean left, that majority would all have superior intellects, so CM’s superior intellect wouldn’t be as noticeable. No, being here amongst conservatives and libertarians, where there is so much darkness from so many dim bulbs, that is where CM’s superior intellect can truly shine forth.

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  57. Mississippi Yankee

    So much for any pretense toward being objective, and merely interested in discussion. CM is obviously here to browbeat those who hold views different from his/hers.

    I’ve been saying this for about a year now. Although you were much kinder in your assessment .

    He’s an attention seeking masochist that would love to silence this forum. And not even the extraordinary type, just the common whiny leftist kind.

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