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Casus Belli

Recently, I mentioned that I had been considering spelling out just why I thought the war in Iraq was justified, and what good has come from it so far. In light of last night's Oscars (which, darn it, I missed) and yet more "the war was wrong" schlock from Hollywood, I figured I'd dust it off and toss it out.

The main justification for the war is simple -- Saddam Hussein had repeatedly violated the terms of his surrender during the first Gulf War. When a nation signs an agreement to end a war, those terms are binding. And when the surrendering nation violates those terms, the victors are entirely justified in imposing sanctions, performing selected attacks, or restarting the war entirely -- the peace agreement is null and void.

(Trying to avoid Godwinizing myself here...) Here's a concrete example from history. In the early 1930's, Germany began flagrantly violating the terms of the Treaty of Versailles that ended World War I. At that point, the allies would have been justified (and, in my opinion, well advised) to act forcefully, even to the point of attacking Germany, to force their compliance with their treaty. Instead, that failure of resolve directly led to the European, African, Mediterranean, and Atlantic portions of World War II.

(Phew, that was close...)

1) Iraq had many obligations under the terms of surrender from the first Gulf War. And they repeatedly, willfully, violated those terms.

A) Iraq had to renounce the possession and development of weapons of mass destruction. Further, they had to publicly destroy all their stockpiles and research, and cooperate with inspectors to guarantee their compliance. Iraq repeatedly blocked inspectors, harassed them, stonewalled demands for documentation, and on several occasions kicked them out of the country.

B) Iraq agreed to abide by certain economic sanctions until such time as the allies agreed it was ready to rejoin the community of nations. It repeatedly violated those sanctions, both overtly and covertly.

C) Iraq agreed to cooperate with a full accounting of prisoners taken during the war. To this day, many Kuwaitis have absolutely no idea what happened to family members who were taken during Iraq's invasion and occupation.

2) Iraq sought to assassinate former president George H. W. Bush during a visit to Kuwait. Let's skip the fact that he is the father of the current president, and look at the facts: Iraq attempted to kill a former President of the United States in retaliation for actions he had taken while carrying out his duties as President.

If we were to let that go by, then every president from now on will always have to bear in mind that once they leave office, they may be targets for retaliation. It would cripple their effectiveness, as they would likely be swayed not by principle or the good of the nation, but simple self-preservation when dealing with other nations. Irritating other nations is part and parcel of the job of being president. We simply can not allow that to happen. The message must be loud and clear: attempting to assassinate our presidents -- past and present -- constitutes an act of war against the United States, and will not be tolerated.

3) Iraq repeatedly attacked our aircraft enforcing the no-fly zone, another condition of the surrender. Firing on United States Air Force and Navy aircraft is an act of war.

4) Iraq continued its support of terrorism. They provided training, money, and material support to many terrorist groups -- including Al Qaeda. One Al Qaeda leader (I forget his name) wounded in Afghanistan fled to Iraq for medical treatment, where he was given a quiet hero's welcome. (No, I don't think Iraq was involved or knew about 9/11, but I chalk that up to operational security on Al Qaeda's behalf -- Iraq had no need to know about it in advance, so they weren't told. Likewise, I don't believe Japan informed Germany about their planned attack on Pearl Harbor -- there was no reason to tell them, and plenty of reasons not to.) Iraq was paying the families of suicide bombers $25,000 after each attack. That had to be stopped.

I've dismantled the "Bush lied about WMDs" canard previously, but I want to bring it back to call people's attention to Al's comment. I don't know who Al is of if he really has the qualifications he seems to possess, or even if he's telling the truth, but he sure as hell seems to know what he's talking about. And he gives even more weight to the WMD issue.

In my followup piece, I'll be looking at the under-reported good developments from the war in Iraq.

J.


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Comments (43)

The wounded Al Queda member... (Below threshold)
Faith+1:

The wounded Al Queda member you couldn't remember was none other than the Z-Man...

But this isn't the type of ... (Below threshold)
LJD:

But this isn't the type of material that is suitable for things like, oh I don't know, jokes at an event where rich and famous people pat themselves on the back for being such good rich and famous people, and stuff.

You also forgot another rea... (Below threshold)

You also forgot another reason: we helped to create Saddamn and build up the miserable son-of-a-bitch therefore we had a responsibility to kill him and clean up the mess. Same story for Afghanistan and bin-goat-fornicating Laden.

Ok, this is somewhat off to... (Below threshold)
mantis:

Ok, this is somewhat off topic, but still WOT. I'm wondering what people think about a recent speech Rep. Sam Johnson made at a church in Texas:

Speaking at a veterans' celebration at Suncreek United Methodist Church in Allen, Texas, on Feb. 19, Johnson told the crowd that he explained his theory to President Bush and Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas) on the porch of the White House one night.

Johnson said he told the president that night, "Syria is the problem. Syria is where those weapons of mass destruction are, in my view. You know, I can fly an F-15, put two nukes on 'em and I'll make one pass. We won't have to worry about Syria anymore."

The crowd roared with applause.

This apparently comes from the subscription only rollcall.com, which I don't subscribe to. I wonder what the president's response to Johnson's "plan".

I beg to differ. We went in... (Below threshold)
Roy Lofquist:

I beg to differ. We went into Iraq for exactly the same reason we dropped the second bomb on Nagasaki: y'all pay attention, ya hear?

Mantis, nuking Syria is a b... (Below threshold)

Mantis, nuking Syria is a bit over the top right now. I don't really have a problem with it, except that the regime might well fall of its own accord. I wouldn't mind seeing a couple of tac nukes (sub 100 kT) on the staging areas where the 'insurgents' are gathering. Or maybe a micronuke (say a B61 Mk 10 dialled all the way down to 0.3 kT) right on the Boy Optometrist's house. Dropping a strategic warhead on Damascus isn't really necessary at the moment, although I suppose we shouldn't rule it out. Slagging down a Muslim city or fifty might well happen before this thing is over, but right now we're not there.

Oh, dear. The above commen... (Below threshold)
Palmateer:

Oh, dear. The above comments are going to seem SO DISTRESSING to the Left-Wing trolls who come here!

I wonder what the presid... (Below threshold)

I wonder what the president's response to Johnson's "plan".

Probably something along the lines of, "Sam who?"

Probably something along... (Below threshold)
mantis:

Probably something along the lines of, "Sam who?"

That would be an interesting response since Johnson recounting something he told to the president in person (on the White House porch no less). Plus he's a congressman from Texas, so I bet Bush is familiar with him.

OH NO!! Mantis, what are w... (Below threshold)
J.R.:

OH NO!! Mantis, what are we going to do now?? Someone told Chimp McHitler he should nuke Syria, that obviously means he is going to do it. It's just a question of when now, right?? /sarcasm

Give us break Mantis. I'm sure the President hears a number of ridiculous plans everyday, what makes you think this one deserves our particular attention?

BTW Jay, great post. Looking forward to the follow-up piece.

I'm sure the President h... (Below threshold)
mantis:

I'm sure the President hears a number of ridiculous plans everyday, what makes you think this one deserves our particular attention?

I'm not trying to put anything on the president here. I'm quite sure he hears ridiculous plans often. It is something a congressman said and I was curious what people thought. And then I responded when McGehee misread the post, as you have done. Btw why do you call him Chimp McHitler? Doesn't seem very respectful.

Wonderful post, great summa... (Below threshold)
Gene K:

Wonderful post, great summary, couldn't agree with you more!!!
There is an old saying that “a persons intelligence can be measured by how much he agrees with you.” It appears that we’re both brilliant. This post is very similar to a “discussion” that I was having at http://proudliberaldem.proboards43.com/index.cgi?board=general&action=display&num=1107224950 with a flaming, out-of-control, rabid, liberal regarding the legality of the war. Apparently I made my point too well as I was banned from the site.

That's a good writeup of a ... (Below threshold)
Brian:

That's a good writeup of a justification for war. It's too bad Bush couldn't state this position as succinctly. If he did, he might have gotten a lot more of the country on board with him. (Please... no blather about why that's not important.)

Instead, as we know, his justification was WMD, the imminent threat to the United States, and Iraq's ties to Al Qaeda. When these turned out to be bogus, he changed it to freeing the Iraqis from the oppression of Hussein. (Actually, this, too, would have been a more popular justification for war, if honestly stated.)

Let's take another look at your drug parolee example. If the convicted felon refused drug testing, then yeah, technically the authorities would be justified in storming his apartment and re-arresting him. But suppose it turned out that he actually didn't have any drugs and he was just a big blowhard... putting on a big show for his neighbors. Well, no big deal, and the felon would be back in jail.

Now suppose 10 cops died in that raid. There would be an outcry... why did we sacrifice 10 cops when there were no drugs to be found? Now you start listing the small infractions committed by the parolee, in an attempt to show that the home invasion was justified, even though there were no drugs. And even though no felon had ever before been invaded based on those same infractions.

So, I'm afraid that although your justification might have been convincing prior to the war, afterwards it just comes off sounding like rationalization and an attempt to obfuscate the reasons that were actually given. And should not the reasons actually given before the war count for something?

I believe this is the source of a huge divide between the right and the left. The left opposed the reasons for initiating the war. Giving the benefit of the doubt that they weren't based on lies, they were at least based on misinformation. Now, after the fact, there are some positive results coming from the war. But the right has never let go of the left's opposition, and is wholly unable to separate the two concepts. God forbid someone on the left acknowledges a success of the war, and the right pounces on them and beats them to death with their hypocrisy sticks. The right believes that in order to celebrate success of the result, you must be a fervent supporter of the justification. Case in point, you're still trying to justify the war! (It's not that easy, is it?)

Is it not possible both to be skeptical of the initial justifications, and also to recognize the good that has come from the war? And to also acknowledge the bad that has come from it? To recognize good from the war, why is it necessary to pretend that Bush was convincing in the run-up? Must one be 100% and completely single-minded?

Some very excellent points,... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

Some very excellent points, Brian, and not a bad analogy with the police raid. I have some quibbles with it, but I respect your efforts.

But I have one rhetorical question for you: where do you think I heard most of those arguments spelled out? Administration officials. The only one I didn't hear them make was the assassination attempt on Bush '41, and I suspect that was because they were afraid if making it look "personal." That's not a concern for me.

Everyone else focused on the big, sexy reasons, but the others were out there too -- for anyone paying close attention. I was, and I seriously doubt I was the only one.

J.

Brian:"Instead, as w... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

Brian:
"Instead, as we know, his justification was WMD, the imminent threat to the United States,.."

Didn't the President specifically say we were going in * BEFORE * Iraq became an imminent threat?

Why do some people keep reporting that the Prez said 'imminent'?

"The only one I didn't hear... (Below threshold)
Just John:

"The only one I didn't hear them make was the assassination attempt on Bush '41"

He said it.

http://archives.cnn.com/2002/ALLPOLITICS/09/27/bush.war.talk/

Bush said: "After all, this is the guy who tried to kill my dad."

"The only one I didn't hear... (Below threshold)
Just John:

"The only one I didn't hear them make was the assassination attempt on Bush '41"

He said it.

Bush said: "After all, this is the guy who tried to kill my dad."

I agree with Brian's first ... (Below threshold)

I agree with Brian's first paragraph. (Sorry, Brian, but I just skimmed the rest.) I will never entirely forgive the administration for so dramatically blowing the message. But now that Iraq is free and Lebanon's a-comin' and the election is over and so forth and so on, all it really means is that I've got a future as a speechwriter after all.

Didn't the President spe... (Below threshold)
mantis:

Didn't the President specifically say we were going in * BEFORE * Iraq became an imminent threat?

Why do some people keep reporting that the Prez said 'imminent'?

Probably because even though he may have not used the word imminent, almost everyone else at the White House did, including Fleischer, McClellan, Bartlett, and Rumsfeld. But I guess we should have ignored them, right?

Mantis, don't you know that... (Below threshold)

Mantis, don't you know that that silly "American Progress" list has been debunked long ago? Take the oh-so-damning quote from Scott dated 2/10/03. He wasn't even talking about Iraq. He was talking about Turkey. Read the transcript for yourself.

In many of the other quotes, the President or somebody in his administration is quoted as saying that Saddam was a threat. Does anybody argue that he wasn't a threat? A threat to peace in the region, a threat to stability, and through his ties to terrorism and his weapons aspirations, a direct and serious threat to the United States. Imminent? No. A threat? Yes.

Everything else on that list is a similar example of either taking words out of context — wildly out of context — in order to try to find instances of the word "imminent," or simply making up the implication of "imminent" where there was none.

Try harder, huh?

RE: Les Nessman's post (Feb... (Below threshold)
AnonymousDrivel:

RE: Les Nessman's post (February 28, 2005 09:08 PM)
Why do some people keep reporting that the Prez said 'imminent'?

In Goebbelspeak if you repeat a lie over and over again, it eventually comes to be regarded as truth.

In Oceania control the past and you control the future, and the Left coast of Oceania is particularly persistent.

Pick your poison.

Mantis, don't you know t... (Below threshold)
mantis:

Mantis, don't you know that that silly "American Progress" list has been debunked long ago?

No, I actually didn't know that, but it does seem that I've fallen for the repeated lie that AD speaks of. Please disregard my previous post. I sit corrected. And having looked around a bit what has convinced me most is not whether or not those people specifically said or confirmed "imminent" in regards to Iraq, but some occasions when Bush specifically addressed the issue, saying that the threat was not imminent, but we need to take care of it before it becomes imminent, as Les noted. So never mind me, I'll go sit and face the corner now.

Didn't the President spe... (Below threshold)
Brian:

Didn't the President specifically say we were going in * BEFORE * Iraq became an imminent threat? Why do some people keep reporting that the Prez said 'imminent'?

I wasn't representing my statement as a direct quote, so if you say he never used the word "imminent" in that way then I'll believe you. But it doesn't matter. Still -- and you've heard the argument before -- there are lots of countries that were and are a threat to us. So justifying the invasion by saying Iraq's a threat rings hollow. By that reasoning, we should have been in North Korea a year ago. Also, Bush gave specific reasons why Iraq was a threat, which turned out not to be as compelling as he represented.

- mantis - you're like a st... (Below threshold)

- mantis - you're like a starving dog with a bone.... At this point all of this feckless jabber about the whys and wherefores is the stuff for the history books. Its moot. We did what we did. That phase is over. Pugnaciously arguing it over and over as you do is begging the issue. What is going on in the here and now is whats important. But just to humor you I think you're not completely right when you argue "there were no WMD's"....

I've debunked your whole premise elsewhere. But the WMD I am reffering to is Saddams gaming of the OFF sanctions, which in colaboration with our good friends and allies the Fwench and the Germbums, he was able to drain off some 21 billion. Money that was intended as food and medical supplies for his people. The ICCU estimates that thousands of woman and children died every month that was going on. If that asshole LurchKerry had of been in power we'd be 4 years down the road, needing to do exactly the same thing we did anyway, but under much much harder conditions, and how many more mass graves would we be uncovering....

- I don't mind if you just have a viceral dislike of Bush. But the ideas of the Liberal AssHats were, are, and unless they change radically, always will be a load of total horse shit. they wouldn't accomplish a thing except insure even more people ended up dead......

RE: Brian's post (February ... (Below threshold)
AnonymousDrivel:

RE: Brian's post (February 28, 2005 11:44 PM)
...there are lots of countries that were and are a threat to us. So justifying the invasion by saying Iraq's a threat rings hollow. By that reasoning, we should have been in North Korea a year ago. Also, Bush gave specific reasons why Iraq was a threat, which turned out not to be as compelling as he represented.

Here's the thing, Brian. Some would argue, and I would be one, that it would not have mattered which threat Bush took on first. His political opponents, domestic and foreign, were going to criticize his position no matter what. Secondly, and I think I may have posted this before, even a hyperpower cannot take on every threat at once much as we might wish it to be possible. A responsible government expends massive energies to strike the most timely and reasonable response. There is strategy and logistics among thousands of other considerations when waging war. Thirdly, from a militarily tactical point of view, I sure wouldn't send in a hundred thousand plus troops into a thermonuclear kill zone since we believed North Korea had at least a handful of nukes. Do we know for sure if Kim's weaponry is viable? No, but what President would be foolish enough to test that unknown?

I found and still find the administration's motives for action in Iraq as compelling today as they were two years ago and not much different from the motives 6 years ago when it was agreed by even patron saint Clinton that Saddam was a dangerous man with evil intent. I find the current tectonic shift there as vindication of my support. 20/20 hindsight provides many with an unfair perspective of the unknowable. But what is universally knowable is that Saddam's regime was a destabilizing threat to the region and, by extension, the world. In due course purple thumbs will leave the imprint that signifies to the world that Iraqi stabilization has returned and Saddam's bloody hands have been vanquished. Soon thereafter ME masses will be grateful for Coalition, American, and Bush administration ink.

Bush is a murderous lunatic... (Below threshold)

Bush is a murderous lunatic. Not unlike Hitler. Now before you get all wacked out about my comparison of Bush with Hitler, understand that there have been survivors of the actual holocaust that have made those comparisons...I just like to remind people of them. He's a tyrant, terrorist, murdering lunatic who needs to be impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors and put into the same jails as he has created for "enemy combantants". Maybe then his idea of torture may be a bit more clear. Gives new creedence to the quote "Do unto others as you'd have done to you."

Oh The Bill: Ugliest Web si... (Below threshold)

Oh The Bill: Ugliest Web site ever.

Besides, what does "oh the bill" mean, anyway? Unless I'm missing something, it's not even English. Is it some kind of pop-culture reference to which I'm not privy? Is it street slang? Kind of like "on the down low?" Does it refer to the practice of straight men engaging in clandestine prison sex?

It just bugs the hell out of me when an idiot uses an expression I've never heard before. Call it a personal weakness on my part.

RE: OhTheBill's post (March... (Below threshold)
AnonymousDrivel:

RE: OhTheBill's post (March 1, 2005 12:18 AM)
Bush is a murderous lunatic. Not unlike Hitler.

I declare Godwin's Law in effect; it took but a sentence and a half. Congratulations.

Move along. Nothing to see here.

- OTB ... better known loca... (Below threshold)

- OTB ... better known locally as "Off Topic Butthead" gives trolling a bad name. He's triggered the Godwin rule so many times some have suggested we change it to the "OTB rule". At least counter voices like mantis debate with intellectual honesty, and except for one occassion, refrain from personal attacks.... and Jeff I think you would characterize the nick as "bad Liberal" rather than poor english......

BBH, I have no idea what yo... (Below threshold)
mantis:

BBH, I have no idea what you are talking about. You must be responding to a thread in a parallel universe, as nothing I have posted here is addressed in your post at all. You say you humor me when I argue "there were no WMDs" which I did not argue, and your quote is from nowhere. I was responding to a question someone posed, not "begging the issue" as you said (whatever that means). That question was regarding the specific utterance of a word by Bush or the WH, nothing to do with WMDs, Kerry, or any of the other crap you talk about in your "response". Not only that, but I admitted I was wrong and bowed out. What is your problem? Voices in your head getting too loud?

Ow. My irony gland just exp... (Below threshold)

Ow. My irony gland just exploded.

BBH: At least counter voices like mantis debate with intellectual honesty, and except for one occassion, refrain from personal attacks

Mantis: What is your problem? Voices in your head getting too loud?

Somebody e-mail me two aspirins and an all-Rush mix tape, please. I'm gonna go have me a little lie-down and wait for my melon to quit spinning from all this irony.

This is a very good post, b... (Below threshold)
McCain:

This is a very good post, but I think it would have been more relevant some months ago. The tied has turned in Iraq, and the questions are now about what is beyond Iraq. Those of us who supported the war, but harbored some lingering doubts about the long-term outcome, are finding those doubts unfounded. Iraq WILL be successful, and not just because it must be successful. It WILL be successful, and not just because of what happens in Iraq. We are seeing the consequences play our before our eyes, in Iraq, Libya, Lebonon, Saudia Arabia, Syria. Small things are happeing already, with little doubt of what lies ahead. So I am all for explaining the Iraq war in terms of UN resolutions, etc., but the good news is that it isn't really necessary anymore. Success provides its own explanation.

- Well Jeff.... certainly s... (Below threshold)

- Well Jeff.... certainly sorry I triggered the headache by trying to be magnanomous.....I guess contrarian is the best description as you said.....Always leave it to a liberal to snatch "petty" from the jaws of "generosity"....

Salright, Bang. It's my own... (Below threshold)

Salright, Bang. It's my own damn fault for coming in here without my irony guard strapped firmly in place over all my sensitive bits.

it would not have matter... (Below threshold)
Brian:

it would not have mattered which threat Bush took on first. His political opponents, domestic and foreign, were going to criticize his position no matter what.

I disagree. I think Bush completely bumbled the justification for this war. Note that I didn't say "the war", I said "the justification" for it. There are things he could have said that would have made me, at least, more comfortable. Just because there are some good signs coming from the result doesn't mean that the justification was sufficient. If I shoot a neighbor who yells at me all the time, and it turns out he was a serial killer, I can't suddenly claim my justification was correct. And anyone who supported me cannot suddenly feel vindicated for that support.

But what is universally knowable is that Saddam's regime was a destabilizing threat to the region and, by extension, the world.

Saddam was contained, with no active weapons programs. At the time of the invasion, he wasn't destabilizing nobody.

even a hyperpower cannot take on every threat at once

Fair enough from the threat angle. But what about Bush's spin that the war was to liberate the Iraqi people from brutality? If that's the case, when are we invading Rwanda? There's no thermonuclear kill zone there.

Which demonstrates my initial point. If Bush were to announce that he can't sleep at night because of the abuses in Rwanda, and it was the moral responsibility of the US to go in and save those people, Bush would have a lot of support. Even from "political opponents, domestic and foreign".

So, Brian, we may co... (Below threshold)

So, Brian, we may confidently look forward to bipartisan support for the upcoming wars again Syria and Iran?

One of the complaints I've ... (Below threshold)
Scott H:

One of the complaints I've had with the Bush approach is not so much with their reason/rational or objectives. Instead it is with their tactics.

I find it perfectly reasonable to say that Saddam deserved to go for all the reasons Jay Tea mention. I find it also reasonable that the Bushies believed that WMD were a real threat.

But why does the only solution to the Iraqi problem have to be a unilateral invasion and occupation? Clearly the USA has/had many options open to it: Iran and North Korea are examples of where we are exercising those options. We could have done the same with Iraq. My larger point is that we had many options besides unilateral invasion.

My concern is that by only exercising that option we've done our nation serious damage. First we've overstretched our military. Second we've spent billions that could be better spent on other strategic issues. Finally, while we've casued some democratice blossoms to open in the mid-east; we've also created new terrorists and their sympathizers.

Because I feel the Bushies wanted to prove a neocon point and Rummy wanted to prove he knows more about war fighting and the military than the generals; this administration chose a path that has left us weaker, rather than stronger in our war against islamofascism.

Of course for some of the moonbats on the right, arguing for anything less than the "Kill them all and let God sort it out" solution is unpatriotic, if not downright French. And for the moonbats on the left anything that involves taking any action is bloodlust. But for those of us who live in the real world, we need as rigourous a debate about potential solutions as we do about potential justifications.

But why does the only so... (Below threshold)

But why does the only solution to the Iraqi problem have to be a unilateral invasion and occupation?

Because it needed to be done. Saddam was entrenched. He wasn't going anywhere voluntarily. And he couldn't be allowed to stay around. That's axiomatic: Saddam had to go. Since France was unwilling to give up its lucrative contracts, our piddly little 30-plus-nation coalition had to do it "unilaterally."

And given that, according to those stats that came out last year, fewer people died during 2003 than were murdered at Saddam's hands in 2002, I'd say the "occupation" was the best thing to happen to Iraq in 20 years.

Scott, it wasn't unilateral... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

Scott, it wasn't unilateral. We had (and still have) numerous other nations with us. The primary reason we don't have more "traditional allies" like France, Germany, and Russia with us is they let themselves be bought off by Oil For Food money.

Second, I give you the old phrase: "when your only tool is a hammer, after a while all your problems look like nails." The military is the hammer in Bush's toolbox, but he also has diplomacy, economics, politics, and a host of other tools in there. You use what works best for the job. Invading Iraq was doable, and had the best chance for solving the problem (instead of postponing it, as had been done under the previous administration). Iran and North Korea aren't the kinds of problems to be likely solved by invasion, so other tactics (mostly diplomatic and economic) should be tried first. But those tactics are largely meaningless if the hammer isn't being kept ready at hand.

J.

Jeff: I don't disagree that... (Below threshold)
Scott H:

Jeff: I don't disagree that Saddam needed to go.
Don't misunderstand me, I wasn't suggesting leaving him there. I was suggesting that we had other military options, covert action, targeted strikes, assasination. And whether these might have been better chocies.

My only issue is how we got rid of him; and did we do it the way we did because it was the best option...or because it was to prove some theoretical point (e.g., we don't need anyone, military force restructuring).

Jay: I won't quibble about our coalition forces; however based on numbers and dollars I would argue that it was a de facto unilateral action.

I understand your point about using the right tool for the job. But that's my exact concern. I've seen and read many debates about why we went to war. I've seen very few about why we chose the "tool" we did. And even less debate about why we used that version of the military option.

Summing up, I have no problem getting rid of Saddam. I have no problem with using force to do it. I do question whether we used the right kind of force.

It would be a tragedy if we went into war with an army designed to prove some bureaucrats idea of how a modern military, or superpower, should look and act. For me, the case is still out on this question.


I think that a power vacuum... (Below threshold)

I think that a power vacuum would have been even worse than the status quo, Scott. We had to remove Saddam, but we couldn't just leave a big hole. We had to replace him with a sovereign, legitimate government. And we did that the best, fastest, most effective way we knew how.

I don't know what "de facto unilateral" means, unless you just want to apply the word "unilateral" as a pejorative term. The invasion was not unilateral; it was, in fact, highly multilateral. So I don't know why one would go back to the "unilateral" thing if not to be dismissive.

As to your "prove some bureaucrat's idea" thing, I'm gonna file that under the same kinds of totally unfounded conspiracy theories that gave us the anti-fluoridation movement.

Jeff: Your point about the ... (Below threshold)
Scott H:

Jeff: Your point about the potential for leaving a power vacuum is well taken. My point is that we never discussed the how, only the why up to, and after, the invasion. My concern is that it's the "hows" that determine the costs.

My use of "de facto unilateral" is based on the idea that while the coalition was indeed made up of many nations; America was in all practical purposes alone on this one. I fully acknowledge the contributions of the Brits, Spanish, Poles, and the rest. But to the world, and certainly to the homefront, this was seen as an American War.

So yes, I do mean unilateral in a dismissive sense. It was our war, we wanted it, we fought it, we're paying for it and we will take the credit if it works out.

Finally, my comment about "proving some bureacrats idea" was a shorthanded attempt to raise the larger issue of restructuring of the American military.

Clearly the structure of the force we sent into Iraq reflected a desire to prove the validity of "revolution in military affairs" concept by Rumsfeld and those who supported this concept.

RMA is a serious, reasonable attempt to understand how war should be fought in the information age. And it is the subject of serious debate and discussion among military and defense analysts.

But was it correct to use Iraq as a field test for the "RMA" that Rumsfeld and others advocate?

I would argue that to the extent that we limited the number of troops, in order to prove technology trumps boots on the ground, we weakened and endangered our occupation.

And I could very well be wrong.That is why I would like to see us begin to discuss these "how best to" issues; rather than rehashing the "why did we".

So what do you think?

RE: Brian's post (March 1, ... (Below threshold)
AnonymousDrivel:

RE: Brian's post (March 1, 2005 02:28 AM)

There are things he could have said that would have made me, at least, more comfortable [with the justification for this war].
Such as? I know the "no WMD" semantics but do you have anything more substantively different in mind?

If I shoot a neighbor who yells at me all the time, and it turns out he was a serial killer, I can't suddenly claim my justification was correct. And anyone who supported me cannot suddenly feel vindicated for that support.
The weakness in this argument is that Saddam was known by everyone to be a "serial killer" already and not some overly boisterous neighbor innocently celebrating his own majesty with rifle shots in the air. That he was suspected of gearing up for another slaughter gave anyone ready to cuff him all the justification they needed to kill the monster if necessary. One cannot ignore the history of the convict since decisions had to be made on what was known, what was thought, and what was expected. I still feel vindicated despite some of the more recent ME developments.

Saddam was contained, with no active weapons programs. At the time of the invasion, he wasn't destabilizing nobody.
Saddam was semi-"contained" despite the persistent struggle of nobler nations against ignoble ones undermining the effort. That was part of Saddam's calculus... to buy time and influence (along with foreign mouthpieces in France, Germany, and Russia, et. al.) to maintain a nascent infrastructure and the intellectual capacity to expand it for future exploits. His constant violations of the surrender terms of the Gulf War and refusals to comply with the U.N. paper and personnel undermined peaceful efforts to restrict his aggression and contributed further to the region's destabilization. Saddam always had and always would lash out at any opportunity to expand his sphere of influence and he stated the desire to be the authority figure of the ME repeatedly.

Saddam was doing a fine job destabilizing, for starters, Kurds, Sunnis, and Shia domestically (is tyranny stabilizing?), Iranians and Kuwaitis perpetually, Palestinians and Israelis by proxy, and the entire world via oil markets and open intransigence. Some may argue that we should have left the people of Iraq to suffer from Saddam's devices. These are typically the liberal Left so I'm sure you appreciate the irony of that; nevertheless, it's an honest though distressing thought that would be supportable under our Constitution. Meddling in other nations for humanitarian motivations is not, as far as I know, something our forefathers envisioned. Moving on, I suspect the initial reason for Iran's pursuit of nukes was in reponse to Iraq's pursuit though they certainly have other motivations. Iran and Iraq were still at war though they were both on hiatus. However, Saddam's external exploits, both historical and contemporaneous, did threaten Americans directly and indirectly. That is a threat that must be addressed and is Constitutionally mandated by our government. That it happens on foreign soil is immaterial considering the technological advances of man. These are top of the head considerations and millions of words have been written for the invasion's justification. I'll not even try to address them all but only remind you that Saddam was hardly "contained".

If Bush were to announce that he can't sleep at night because of the abuses in Rwanda, and it was the moral responsibility of the US to go in and save those people, Bush would have a lot of support. Even from "political opponents, domestic and foreign".
That is not a Constitutionally defensible position though we might endeavor to support such action. Rwanda is not a threat to America at this point; if it becomes one, then I expect the President to act with any tool at his disposal. Further, we do act upon such nations through other means, notably the U.N. The fact that this dysfunctional embarrassment cannot perform its basic duties should not impugn American inaction or integrity. Were we to skirt official channels of this most supreme authority (ha!), America would catch Hell. Oh wait, we do already. All righty then. Full steam ahead! Let's invade Rwanda. Get U.N.S. Dinghy captained by K. Annan out of our wake... it might ding our anchor. But I challenge your assertion that more direct action in Rwanda, or elsewhere, by the U.S. would engender support or sympathy. Most of the reflexive response, again particularly from the Left, is that American hegemony is taking over the world. Since that seems to be the current political paradigm, we must temper more humanitarian efforts where military force might be required.




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