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The Memory Hole

I don't have the world's best memory. In fact, often I find that I forget a lot of details that I really should remember. And sometimes I have crystal-clear memories of things that just didn't happen the way I thought they did.

But some things I remember so clearly, I am absolutely certain that I have it right. And it amazes me when it seems that I'm the only one who remembers them.

Back in 1991, during the first Iraq war, I remember perfectly how rapidly we utterly crushed and destroyed Saddam's military. We spent a month pounding them from the air, using every weapon at our disposal, from the tiny Stealth fighters with their one or two bombs to massive carpet-bombing of their front lines by B-52s to streams of cruise missiles. We destroyed their command and control facilties, shredded their supply lines, devastated their vaunted forces until they were crouched, helpless, in their trenches and bunkers, dreading the bombs they knew were coming to destroy them.

And then I remember General Schwarzkopf's brilliant ground campaign, where he drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait and pushed deep into Iraq proper, defeating them in a scant 100 hours. I remember General Colin Powell describing our intentions towards the feared Republican Guard -- "we intend to cut it off, and then kill it."

I remember the hordes of fleeing Iraqis, laden down with their pillage from Kuwait, racing up the highway, and US forces attacking and bombing them, turning it into the "Highway of Death" until our own pilots, sickened at the carnage, simply refused to continue the attacks. (Which were perfectly legal, by the way -- fleeing enemies are legitimate targets; only surrendering enemies are protected.)

I remember the great argument at the time -- with Saddam's forces demoralized, dispersed, and scattered to the four winds, the road to Baghdad was wide open. Should the US press on and depose Saddam?

The far right said "yes." They said that if Saddam was allowed to retain power, he would simply regroup, rebuild, and once again pose a threat to the region. He had already invaded Iran, invaded and conquered Kuwait, and had invaded Saudi Arabia. He posed a grave threat to the world's stability and oil supply, and he would do so again.

The left said "no." They said that we had won a great victory by uniting a large portion of the Arab world with us against one of their own. (The only group not with us was the Palestinians, who apparently feared ruining their record for backing losers, and Iran, who sat back and said "a pox on both your houses" while they scooped up a good chunk of Iraq's air force.) We could count on them being with us in liberating Kuwait, but they balked at helping a Western nation supplant an Arab ruler.

Further, our mandate from the United Nations stopped short of instituting regime change in Iraq. We were empowered to liberate Kuwait and secure it from further aggression -- no more.

President Bush followed the latter course, and I backed him at the time. I thought it was the right decision at the time, and I still think so today.

Let's fast-forward a few years. In the aftermath of the war, the United Nations imposed harsh sanctions on Iraq for its invasion of Kuwait. The United States took the lead in enforcing them, to the point of using bombs and missiles to remind Iraq that those sanctions were the only thing holding further war in abeyence. But as the years dragged on and Saddam played round after round of "cheat and retreat," fatigue seemed to settle in. People started calling for an end to the sanctions, saying that Saddam had been "punished enough." They cited statistic after statistic about how tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of Iraqi babies had died as a consequence of the sanctions. It's been long enough, Saddam's done enough, it's time to let Iraq take a few steps back towards rejoining the community of nations.

Then 9/11 happened, and that whole movement evaporated like the morning mist.

And on the Korean peninsula, I recall that it was in the 1990's that North Korea started seriously working on nuclear weapons. It was a major concern of President Clinton's, and he (with the able assistance of former President Carter) ultimately brokered a deal that gave North Korea cash, food, and a nuclear reactor. In fact, in 1998, top Clinton aide Paul Begala testified before Congress that North Korea had abandoned its ballistic-missile program.

But maybe I'm wrong. Maybe my short-term memory issues are starting to cloud my long-term memories. Because whenever I get into debates about the war in Iraq, those who oppose the war seem to recall events differently.

They say that we wouldn't be in this mess if the first President Bush had simply "finished the job" and toppled Saddam back in 1991. They say that President Clinton had a firm handle on Iraq. They don't recall that a week after Paul Begala gave Clinton's reassurances to Congress, North Korea fired a test missile that landed just off Alaska. They say that the sanctions and inspections against Iraq were working, and we should have given them more time instead of invading.

I probably should discuss this with my doctor, because every single one of those statements clashes with how I remember things.


Comments (57)

"I remember the hordes of f... (Below threshold)
Faith+1:

"I remember the hordes of fleeing Iraqis, laden down with their pillage from Kuwait, racing up the highway, and US forces attacking and bombing them, turning it into the "Highway of Death" until our own pilots, sickened at the carnage, simply refused to continue the attacks."

Sorry, but this former USAF Viper driver who was actually there is calling bullshit on this one. This is a folklore legend. No pilot refused to fly missions. In fact, just the opposite, many of us were disgusted that so many were allowed to escape because the higher ups got antsy when they saw the pictures.

The "Highway Of Death" looked horrible to the civlilian world, but that's what war looks like. It was no worse or better than a million other scenes of combat throughout history.

"...refused to continue the attacks" my ass. I don't know of a single Hog driver or Viper driver (and the communities aren't that large) that "refused to continue". That's an insult to the professionalism of those warriors.

Sorry Jay, but you usually do a better job than this.

Faith+1 is correct. In the... (Below threshold)
Steve L.:

Faith+1 is correct. In the immediate aftermath of the war, the criticism was that we failed to close the door at Basra because we eased up. This allowed the remaining Iraqi armor to escape up the "Highway of Death." This also lead to the famous incident during the initial cease fire where Barry McCaffrey's division fired on "retreating" Iraqi tanks. They were attempting to escape and they fired on U.S. forces, so McCaffrey had his boys fire back. Had we not gone soft and closed the door like we should have, this wouldn't have happened and Faith+1's brothers in the air could have finished the job they were trying to do.

Damn, Faith, you're right. ... (Below threshold)

Damn, Faith, you're right. It was the public outcry, not the pilots.

I gotta watch that. I get my main point across, but get sloppy on the supporting details. And that's where I usually get hung.

My apologies, and my thanks for the correction.

J.

Damn, Faith, you're right. ... (Below threshold)

Damn, Faith, you're right. It was the public outcry, not the pilots.

I gotta watch that. I get my main point across, but get sloppy on the supporting details. And that's where I usually get hung.

My apologies, and my thanks for the correction.

J.

I remember being ticked tha... (Below threshold)
AnonymousDrivel:

I remember being ticked that Bush did not finish the job at the urging of Schwarzkopf (at least I think he urged Bush). Yes, the U.N. tied Bush's hands at the time since, presumably, it was the only way to form that vast coalition. I'm still ticked at Bush Sr. for not insisting for regime change way back when. We might have avoided some of the mess we have today. Admittedly, we might have a different mess and it's impossible to know what blowback might have occurred. Still, it's hard to imagine a worse outcome from what this country has had to endure to pay for the correction. Don't think Bush Sr. doesn't have regrets over that strategic decision.

I saw Schwarzkopf speak a y... (Below threshold)

I saw Schwarzkopf speak a year or so after the first Iraq war. He said then that one and only reason we didn't continue on into Baghdad and depose Saddam then was because the invasion force was a strong coalition force and they would not have supported invading Baghdad. If we’d have continued on, we would have been on our own and risking upsetting many of our Muslim allies.

Wow, even JT gets double po... (Below threshold)
epador:

Wow, even JT gets double posts sometime.

As your doctor, I am going to have to remind you to take your Aricept and Namenda more regularly.

At the time I supported the... (Below threshold)

At the time I supported the position that we shouldn't/couldn't take down Iraq. And I still understand why it was like that in 1991.

But we should have continued to take the fight to them for another few days, at least, to knock down Saddam's military further and to increase the odds that internal forces could overthrow him. Another week of combined ops would have done wonders for the situation.

If he gets deposed, it's good. If he doesn't, he's weaker. Instead, he came out looking pretty strong in the end, and that gave him (and many others) the impression that standing up the US might not be such a bad thing to try. And look what that got us.

Jay Tea. Really! Could this... (Below threshold)
Conor:

Jay Tea. Really! Could this be the onset of senility, dementia or amnesia, or worse, spin? We need to be told! Who can I trust if I cant trust the blogs?

As for Bush Sr. not insisti... (Below threshold)

As for Bush Sr. not insisting on regime change, wasn't it Margaret Thatcher that really put the backbone in him to do as much as we did do?

I know that looking back today a lot of us are all going "we should have done more" but there was a very real possibility that we might have done very little at all.

It was a far different world in 1991.

"Don't get wobbly", I think... (Below threshold)

"Don't get wobbly", I think Thatcher said. Or is that just part of the legend?

Aside from the "Highway of ... (Below threshold)
wolfwalker:

Aside from the "Highway of Death" item, that's how I remember it too.

I remember a battle at a town on the Kuwait-Saudi border where American units fought alongside Saudi mech-infantry troops against Iraqi army forces. At the time the press dismissed it as a minor skirmish, but it involved a total of several thousand Coalition troops and became an important piece of the puzzle because it gave our side a look at both our own deficiencies and Iraqi tactics.

I remember that during the six months between the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and Operation Desert Storm, the liberals were saying we shouldn't get involved, that we should let the Saudis defend themselves against an army that outnumbered theirs by ten to one.

I remember a few things that were never widely reported about the strategy and tactics used by Schwarzkopf, like Special Forces setting up logistics bases in the Kuwaiti desert before the big ground attack, and a massive deception aimed at making the Iraqis believe we were going to hit them with an amphibious assault along with a direct ground attack.

I remember how utterly screwed-up and unreliable the mainstream media reports were about the entire operation.

Finally, I remember how the Coalition troops, technology, and tactics worked far better against the Soviet-made Iraqi equipment than many had expected. Yet no one on the political left gave any credit to the military for this. Instead, without missing a step they began yammering in unison about how the ease of the victory made it obvious that Saddam was never a serious threat at all. The more moonbattish ones extended this line of thought into the wacko-conspiracy theory that Bush Senior secretly orchestrated the whole thing for his own nefarious purposes, first giving Saddam a green light to invade Kuwait, then using the invasion as an excuse to launch an unjustified war of aggression against Iraq.

I also recall Bush 41 encou... (Below threshold)
MikeB:

I also recall Bush 41 encouraging the Iraqi's to rise up and overthrow Saddam. Unfortunately, those who did rebel were met with overwhelming force and killed in the thousand's by Saddam while we sat and watched unable (politically) to aid them.

I believe that this particular folly of Bush 41 caused Operation Iraqi Freedom to be harder win that it would have been otherwise. The Iraqis who saw what happened to those that followed the American's in '91 were much more relunctant to put their necks on the line this time around.

- MikeB

Jay Tea: Your memo... (Below threshold)
Lurking Observer:

Jay Tea:

Your memory's a little faulty.

You're forgetting that before the beginning of combat operations back in 1990-1991, the Left was busily screaming that "sanctions should be given a chance to work." You forget that the Left refused to approve the use of force (to the point that the Senatorial vote was quite close, enough to have Al Gore putting his support out for bid, looking for prime-time coverage of his speech).

You forget that, throughout that short war, both the air and the ground campaign, the Left constantly chanted "No blood for oil!" (sound familiar?), and argued that Saddam ruling Kuwait was no different than the Kuwaitis ruling Kuwait, especially since the Kuwaitis were not prepared to fight for their own territory. (What is it about the Left that apparently believes that only dictators are fit to rule the people, even if it's foreign dictators?)

The anti-war folks that I remember claimed that we had bombed baby-milk factories (complete w/ Iraqi workers in uniforms that said "baby milk factory" in English), and an air raid shelter (which just happened to be built over a communications center).

Somehow, they remember the abuse meted out by the likes of Lyddie England, but never remember COL Rhonda Cornum, who was assaulted by Iraqi soldiers:

http://www.usnews.com/usnews/doubleissue/heroes/cornum.htm

Then, when the war was over, the same people who said sanctions would have worked, immediately started screaming for an end to those same sanctions---and of course later claimed that those same baby-killing sanctions would keep Saddam in check.

So, Jay Tea, I think your memory's still a little faulty.

I with you here Jay. I've ... (Below threshold)

I with you here Jay. I've been debating at school since I returned last semester, yet every time I begin to debate a "lefty" about the Gulf War I and the current war in Iraq, they always say that Bush 41 should have "finished the job", yet when I remind them (and I carry a laptop to pull up the only weapon that causes them problems, PROOF) that their wonderful leader, the UN, said we could not do that, they devolve into histerics. Basically, I hear them saying that "we should do what the UN says, unless you can see into the future and it won't work, then don't do what they say, and we'll carp over it no matter what."

One piece of advice for "the left", SHUT YOUR FRIGGIN PIE HOLES!

RE: Murdoc's reference (Sep... (Below threshold)
AnonymousDrivel:

RE: Murdoc's reference (September 29, 2005 08:57 AM)
"Don't get wobbly", I think Thatcher said. Or is that just part of the legend?

Great quote. Almost Churchillian. I believe you're right and it isn't lore.


RE: MikeB's post (September 29, 2005 09:04 AM)
I believe that this particular folly of Bush 41 caused Operation Iraqi Freedom to be harder win that it would have been otherwise. The Iraqis who saw what happened to those that followed the American's in '91 were much more relunctant to put their necks on the line this time around.

Yup. Put yourself in their shoes for round two. Bitter memories not forgotten and dead ancestors not yet dust. No one should wonder why the parades in the street were not as large as expected in the early days of military victory. That is a legacy we need to have seared in our minds to further motivate us to finish this long slog. I'm certain our military has the head and stomach for it. I know our political leadership doesn't ... at least a not insignificant minority. You'd think they'd all remember.

the fault was on Schwarzkop... (Below threshold)
r:

the fault was on Schwarzkopf allowing Saddam to keep his helicopters in the air - presumably to get his injured, dead, clean up, etc. Of course, he used them to continue his evil against his enemies. Big mistake on our part.

I have a DVD of the first s... (Below threshold)
jc:

I have a DVD of the first season of Micheal Moore's TV show (only because he did a thing on the corrupt public defenders in my hometown, who held 1 jury trial out of 700 felony convictions). In one episode I remember he says we've flown hundreds of thousands of sorties over Iraq during peacetime that and children are dying of hunger from the sanctions. That was 1999.

Then in 2004 I remember John Kerry saying flat out, "the sanctions were working." I also remember Clinton on several occasions saying that Iran is a model of democracy, and then Hillary saying that the USSR was just trying to bring "women's rights" to Afghanistan (by running their legs over with tanks to get info about their husbands' hideouts?). So much for intellectual foreign policy thinkers.

All kinds of off-topic, but... (Below threshold)

All kinds of off-topic, but Jay Tea: Did you receive your assignment from me?

--|PW|--

Considering the topic was "... (Below threshold)

Considering the topic was "my shoddy memory, Penny, not that O/T at all.

Yes, I did, and it's proving a bit of a challenge. Will a crude caricature count for one?

J.

Hm[email protected] Jay Tea</p... (Below threshold)
ed:

Hmmmm.

@ Jay Tea

"I probably should discuss this with my doctor, because every single one of those statements clashes with how I remember things."

Which is why I now have a Wiki dedicated to storing information, links and entire articles on specific subjects.

If you're not doing this already, then I suggest you start. It helps manage the information overload.

And yeah, I know you're being sarcastic, but the idea for using a Wiki as a library tool is a pretty good one anyways.

pennywit's right: This is a... (Below threshold)
Peter F.:

pennywit's right: This is all kinds of off-topic. The larger issue is being missed.

I believe what Jay is getting or hinting at is that our "collective memory" as a nation is more than just faulty and shaky at times, it's downright forgetful. We all too often forget to place today's events and issues into proper historical context. We forget that this lead to that and that to this and this and this and this and on and on. In short, a historical timeline of events is not at the forefront of far too many minds.

At times, too, that memory is selective in what it chooses to remember and address. And while what is being remembered may be factually correct, a conscious ommission of historical context often takes place. For instance, liberals often like to say "We supported Saddam in the early 80s! We gave him weapons!" All of which is factually true. However, what is often not said is WHY we supported Saddam in the 80s. The correct and factual historical context would be that Iran, not Iraq, was our mortal enemy and that's why Iraq received our support. To consciously omit that information is, in my mind, is to be purposefully misleading and presents a false argument in the end.

Now we can get into why or why not it was good idea to support Saddam until the cows come home. But I don't believe that is Jay's ultimate point, and it's not mine either. My point is this: The left's collective memory in the U.S. far too often consciously omits, ignores or just plain avoids placing present events and situations into historical context in order to fulfill and promote its agenda.

And, in this case, that is the present Iraq War.

Jay Tea:Depends on... (Below threshold)

Jay Tea:

Depends on the caricature, but sure.

--|PW|--

What an interesting straw m... (Below threshold)
mantis:

What an interesting straw man, "people against the Iraq war have bad memories". Sure, if you're arguing with people from ANSWER or other such nuts. By confining the debate to "me against all these idiots" and ignoring all of the intelligent and attentive people who opposed this war, you get nowhere. I remember why Bush didn't invade Baghdad in '91, and I thought he was right. The reason he didn't invade Baghdad, however, was not not only because of the UN (and it wasn't because of the left at all), but because he knew we would, well, let's let Cheney tell it:

And the question in my mind is how many additional American casualties is Saddam worth? And the answer is not very damned many. So I think we got it right… and we were not going to go get bogged down in the problems of trying to take over and govern Iraq.” -1992

This was also my objection to the current Iraq war, or one of them anyway. The others were I don't think we should be invading soveriegn nations that have not attacked or threatened us, and I believed the weapons inspectors that the war was not justified, at least not on WMD grounds. Further, I understood the ethnic and religious makeup in Iraq, and was worried that all we would do was set up a battleground for civil war, which it seems we have.

By the way another straw man:

People started calling for an end to the sanctions, saying that Saddam had been "punished enough."

What people? I seem to remember those who opposed the sanctions did so because of all the due to lack of food and medical supplies brought on by the sanctions, as you noted. Of course, our invasion only made that worse. I don't remember anyone saying Saddam had suffered enough, or at all for that matter. Care to refresh my memory with an actual quote?

In any case, Jay, this seems only the latest in a series of posts where you ignore the reality on the ground in Iraq, proclaim that we are winning, and denigrate anyone who opposes the war as stupid and forgetful. Care to comment on the fact that there is only one capable battalion in the Iraqi army (brought down from three since June), and how that jibes with your stance? It's hard work, maybe?

Or please, just refresh my memory, why was this war a good idea?

mantis,I think the... (Below threshold)
jc:

mantis,

I think the reason the sanctions were starving children was because of corruption in the Oil-for-Food program (of course, only after the program was initiated, but that's why it was initiated).

I also don't agree with the characterization that we suddenly attacked a sovereign nation. Saddam lost his sovereignty by not complying with weapons inspections. We also were bombing them in the 11 years between the two wars, and they were shooting at our planes. So it's not like in March 2003 we suddenly went from peace to no peace.

Well, mantis, it would seem... (Below threshold)
Lurking Observer:

Well, mantis, it would seem that David Adesnik at Oxblog addressed many of the points that were raised in the Washington Post article (which was reprinted in "The Age").

http://www.eyeonthepost.org/2004/11/oxblog-shows-compost-iraq-malnutrition.html

The most important, of course, being that the statistics used to show that malnutrition is worsening (and this is a year ago) depends on believing Saddam's figures (or that of his mouthpieces, such as "Voices in the Wilderness").

Now, the funny thing about that is that the same folks who argue that malnutrition is worsening are the ones who believed that 5000 Iraqi children were dying every month of malnutrition and lack of vaccines under Saddam.

And, of course, are the same ones who mention nary a word about the Oil-for-Food scandal in the first place.

Who were the same ones who demanded sanctions in 1990, and were demanding them (again!) in 2003.


As for the number of battalions of Iraqis able to fight without US support (kinda different from what you wrote, nu?), perhaps one of the reasons that they've dropped is because they've been in combat?

http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/nm/20050911/ts_nm/iraq_dc

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4841895

But I'm sure that cutting and running, abandoning the Iraqis to the jihadis, is a familiar policy for the Left. It worked so well in Vietnam and Cambodia, after all.

I remember the dying childr... (Below threshold)
Synova:

I remember the dying children bit. It wasn't even a small thing, it was HUGE. I recall long debates about how the evil US was callously allowing Iraqi children to die because we refused to let Saddam have the oh-so-innocent chlorine he needed for the water treatment plants. Every bit of it was Our Fault. I recall detailed explanations about how water treatment works and how that kind of chlorine wasn't necessary at all, that Saddam was more than able to treat water and save Iraqi children's lives while complying with the sanctions.

It wasn't about saving children, obviously, (we really had no idea about the food-for-oil corruption at that point, at least it never made the news and public consciousness,) it was about proving that the US was the evil one and Saddam the victim. Sanctions sure as heck weren't working in *our* favor.

Didn't Bin Laden specifically cite the dying children who couldn't even get clean water because of the Americans thing... probably more than once? The evil Americans killing Iraqi children played very *very* well, and now we get "should have given the sanctions more time to work."

*snort*

So how many battalio... (Below threshold)
B Moe:


So how many battalions do the opposition have, Mantis? How much territory do they control? How many public utilities have they restored? How many clinics have they set up? How many schools have they built? What kind of poll numbers are they getting with the Iraqi people? Regale us with heroic tales of the brave resistance.


What's your point, B? That... (Below threshold)
mantis:

What's your point, B? That I support terrorists? You're wrong, friend.

My point, which would be obvious to you if you weren't trying to pidgeonhole me, is that the Iraqis are far from ready to take control of their own country, the sectarian struggles are getting worse and the upcoming constitution referendum could very well send the whole country into civil war (with the added benefit of foreign terrorists who have migrated in to fight us, double trouble!). I understand you feel safer in your black and white ideological world of "US versus Terrorists", but on the ground it isn't quite that simple. What I am concerned with is what we do next. How can we prevent the country from descending into absolute chaos, and if we can't, what will we do then? Side with the Shiites and Kurds (if they stick) and obliterate the Sunnis? Withdraw? Freedom will sure be on the march in either case.

But you're right, the opposition, as you call them (please define the opposition, by the way), doesn't set up schools and clinics. Hats off to you on that observation. Who said they did?

Hmmm...is this thing workin... (Below threshold)
Ryan A:

Hmmm...is this thing working? I'm not able to post for some reason.

Another thing I recall from... (Below threshold)
Synova:

Another thing I recall from the build up to Desert Storm was report after report after report about the psychological trauma that would result from the inevitable drawn out war that was on the horizon. Over and Over and Over.

mantis, we've heard the pessimists crying civil war and social break down and citing each setback or bomb or assassination as proof of the downward spiral and it just *never* *happens*. Why is it so much more legitimate to speculate about what could go wrong instead of what could go right? Why is looking at all the bad news intellegent and looking at the good news not?

So far the doom sayers have been consistently wrong. Up until the day before the first Iraqi elections our media was reporting about all of the bad things that were going to render the elections anywhere from a blood bath to illegitimate. Other than a few isolated incidents it went just fine. All that bad stuff we were supposed to be so sure was just around the corner *never* *happened*.

People who chose to look at the good news and chose to anticipate more good news are not operating without an historical reason for their optimism.

My point is there is... (Below threshold)
B Moe:


My point is there is a huge fucking difference between "this isn't going to be quick and easy" and "OMG we are losing". My point is that unless you think the Iraqi's are complete retards they are going to notice that we are a force for good in their country, and the alternatives pretty much suck. My point is that rather than wallow in the negative and obsess on things that aren't happening overnight, you could put what we are trying to accomplish over there in proper perspective, realize the massive scope, and give it a chance to work on a reasonable time frame.

We are winning, maybe not as decisively as you would like, but to look at what has happened over there as a failure and a mistake is ridiculous.

It is so easy to talk about... (Below threshold)
A Evans:

It is so easy to talk about "the left did this..." and "the right did this...". If only the world was really so simple - and perhaps some in the USA really believe the world is so exactly dipolar. Unfortunately, no matter what good points people have they are diluted by this strange labelling.

A friend of mine was on the front line in 1991 and was told clearly that a political deal had been made with regional governments not to go to Baghdad. Now whether he made this up or not, I don't know, but it would fit the geopolitics of the moment. There are many reasons ... and I am not sure it would have made a difference who was in the Presidents seat in the USA.

In my opinion Mantis does b... (Below threshold)
Ryan A:

In my opinion Mantis does bring up a good point regarding Bush 41 not taking Baghdad. As I remember it, Bush was not at all interested in getting stuck with the power vacuum that would ensue after taking out Hussein. Bush 41 knew it would have been a pretty difficult ordeal, and the decision was made not to continue. The Statement by Cheney sums that thinking up pretty well.

And as far as children dying in Iraq due to sanctions and all that: Look, Saddam was a dictator, and a murderer. We, as the U.S., knew that way before he decided to invade Kuwait. We knew that he was a criminal when we had diplomatic relations with him in the 80s. He was another in a long line of dictators who did what we said, so we tolerated the guy. Somoza anyone?

Sure, sanctions were imposed. Not surprisingly, the corrupt regime didnt give a sh*t what happened to it's own citizenry, and people died. It was a bad situation having someone like Hussein in control of the Iraqi people's destiny--the sanctions simply reduced the number of resources coming in. Saddam wasn’t affected that greatly; the people of Iraq paid the real price. Why should we expect a corrupt dictator to somehow be fair to the people of his country when sanctions are imposed? Of course he let them starve. Maybe the sanctions would have worked if they continued for years and years, but I'm pretty sure that Hussein would have allowed millions to die before he did a damn thing or started cooperating. And that would have been atrocious.

If I really believed that we went into Iraq as some kind of mission to save the people there and establish democracy, I would have been more into the idea. But in my honest opinion we went into Iraq for reasons that were not humanitarian, at least not in regards to the people of Iraq. I still think that we went in there for primarily for economic and political reasons. Our primary concerns were not with the people of Iraq, IMO.

Basically I think we went there because our little stooge, Hussein, was getting way out of line in a region that's EXTREMELY important to the U.S. in an economic and strategic sense. He stopped toeing the line, we reacted. I still think that if Hussein had been a good little dictator, like others we deal with, we wouldn’t have ever sent a single soldier into that country. Thats what I think at least.

Ryan A said:"If I ... (Below threshold)
B Moe:

Ryan A said:

"If I really believed that we went into Iraq as some kind of mission to save the people there and establish democracy, I would have been more into the idea. But in my honest opinion we went into Iraq for reasons that were not humanitarian, at least not in regards to the people of Iraq. I still think that we went in there for primarily for economic and political reasons. Our primary concerns were not with the people of Iraq, IMO."

If I really believed the welfare and future of the Iraqi people were your primary concern I might give some credence to your position. But in my honest opinion your objections are not humanitarian but political and economic, in that I suspect if the Republicans take a dive and the Democrats were to regain power you would benefit economically. Your primary concerns are not the best interest of the USA or the Iraqi people, IMO.

mantis:(I know thi... (Below threshold)
Peter F.:

mantis:

(I know this post is late, and it's likely you might not ever see this, but I'm going to address it all the same.)

"The others were I don't think we should be invading sovereign nations that have not attacked or threatened us..."

I take issue with that Iraq was a sovereign nation. By the strictest of M-W.com definitions, Iraq was indeed "an autonomous state". It was also, by definition, exerting a "supreme power especially over a body politic." The obsolete definition of sovereignty is "supreme excellence or an example of it (sovereignty)." And clearly, most people would agree that Iraq under Hussein was not a very good example of "supreme excellence".

However, there is a ill-applied, modern connotation for sovereignty which liberals use when speaking of countries such as Iraq, and that is the connotation of "peaceful". I think several more connotations could apply as well: nonbelligerent, yielding and submissive. All of which, in Iraq's case, are demonstrably false connotations of sovereignty. In short, this is a misleading and grossly inaccurate way of describing the state of Iraq under Saddam Hussein.

Yet why do liberals use the word? Quite simple, really. To create the false impression that America is indeed attacking a legitimate, peaceful and non-aggressive country. And that is simply not based on any historical facts or context.

"that have not threatened or attacked us..."

Since when? The last year in leading up to the war? How about two years? Three? This again is false. If firing on U.S. planes in Iraq's No-Fly Zone or attempted assassination of Bush 1 isn't threatening or attacking, then there's not much that is. So, if you ask me, we showed remarkable restraint for 12+ years without doing a thing.

But the larger and more important issue is this: If Iraq had overtly threatened or attacked or proved itself to be a "imminent threat" (another quote routinely and mistakenly attributed to Bush; he never once said Iraq was an 'imminent threat') to us there would be no need for the President to go before the nation during his 2002 SOTU and present the case for war. The case would already be settled.

Now we can discuss the validity of preemptive strikes and war, and that's a very good argument and opposing position to take. However, these two issues that you bring up are at best red herrings that only serve to detract from a potential legitimate argument.

I'm not sure where you get ... (Below threshold)
mantis:

I'm not sure where you get the idea that a nation must be peaceful in order to be sovereign. We have just engaged in two wars of aggression (I'm not necessarily saying they were unjustified, but we were clearly the aggressors) in the past four years; does that mean the U.S. is not a sovereign nation? Is China not a sovereign nation because it threatens Taiwan? Sovereign in the Amer. Heritage dictionary is defined first as "Self-governing; independent." The "supreme" angle you're talking about refers to the sovereign, as in a king or emperor, who wields "supreme" power. I don't think Pres. Bush demonstrates "supreme excellence", but that doesn't mean he isn't president, or that the U.S. isn't a sovereign nation. Iraq was a sovereign nation before we invaded by any definition; I've yet to hear an argument to the contrary that has any basis other than "Saddam was bad, therefore Iraq was not sovereign". Sorry, doesn't wash. The country had a functioning government that controlled the territory (except the Kurdish north), therefore it was sovereign. If you don't believe that invading sovereign nations is a big deal, or if you do and are saying that Iraq was not sovereign in order to justify your desire to invade, I could give you a historical rundown of nations that either did not recognize the sovereignty of other nations or did not care when they invaded. China '50 and Germany '39 immediately come to mind.

On to threats and attacks. I do not consider attacks on our planes above Iraq an attack on the U.S. per se, or at least not one justifying invasion. I don't recall anyone actually using that as a primary reason for the war either (or even a significant one). I don't really believe the assassination attempt on Bush 41 was more than just a cooked up charge. In any case we had already responded to that with missile attacks in '93 under Clinton. If a dubious (and pathetic, if real) assassination attempt from 8 years previous that had already been responded to was the justification for invasion and protracted occupation, well it seems a little late and a lot extreme, no? So basically your justification is that they took potshots at planes above their country and shot down a few unmanned drones. Sounds like we were all in danger!

Ok, i'll amend my statement: Iraq had not threatened or attacked us in any way that presented a real danger to the U.S., its citizens, or its military.

(also, look into the legality of those Iraqi "no-fly zones" while you're looking up sovereign again).

B Moe:Well, that's... (Below threshold)
Ryan A:

B Moe:

Well, that's a neat theory you have, but you're wrong. In no way would I benefit economically or politically if the Republicans were to lose power. You seem to think that I'm looking to defame Repubs and endorse Dems, and that's not the case.

How could you pretend to know what my primary concerns are? That's pretty bold. I can venture guesses as to what the primary motivations of our government are, because they basically tell us. It's really not to hard to figure out why we are in Iraq, especially if you do a little reading. Now, dont take that as meaning that I am some kind of Bush basher; I'm not. To me, the reasons why we are in Iraq are basically the same reasons why other nations, throughout history, have gone to war time and time again. It's all about the maintenance of economic and political power. That's what the term "U.S. interests" is all about. Ever hear that in a speech by Bush, or Clinton, or Reagan, or Carter? Well, that's what they were talking about: Economic, strategic, and political interests.

Hussein was a challenge to US power in that region. He had one of the few militaries that could acutally cause some problems for us. He was acting up, and going against what we wanted to be happening over there, so we went in. Not that complicated. We didnt want Saddam Hussein to be going around taking over countries in the middle east and creating havoc. The region is way to crucial to our economy to allow some psychotic dictator to go around doing that sort of thing.

Rome went to war to maintain it's power, or to expand it, so did England, China, Japan, Russia, Germany, etc. You think that we are somehow outside or above history? Do you think that we are somehow different or morally superior to all other nation states that have gone to war before us?

So why do you think we're there? Do you think that we went into Iraq primarily in the interests of Iraqi people? If so, then why didn't we go into the Sudan, or even Rwanda a decade ago?

I'm honestly asking you what you think, not trying to bait you or anything.


Mantis:Iraq had... (Below threshold)
Ryan A:

Mantis:

Iraq had not threatened or attacked us in any way that presented a real danger to the U.S., its citizens, or its military.

I understand the argument that you're making, and I basically agree with you. Hussein did NOT have the ability to really threaten US citizens in a military sense. It wasnt like he was planning some attack on the United States, or even if he was, it's not like he had a navy or airforce or WMDS that could actually carry that out. Hussein was a localized threat and problem.

The US didnt want him in power anymore, because he wasn't doing what we wanted. That's why we went there. I'm not trying to justify it, I'm just expressing what I think is the real reason we went there. We wanted control there, and he challenged our control.

I would say that Hussein was, from a US perspective, a danger or threat to OUR future interests, since he was sitting in the middle of a very volatile, yet extremely important, piece of real estate. I still honestly think that the interests of the Iraqi people were secondary at BEST, and mention of them in the whole scheme is a more political/PR move.

I feel that I have a basic understanding of why we're there, but that doesnt mean that I agree with the whole rationale.

Peter F:I take ... (Below threshold)
Ryan A:

Peter F:

I take issue with that Iraq was a sovereign nation.

So are you saying that Iraq was not an independent and self-governing nation? Because that's what the term means. Mantis did a nice job of explaining that one.

In no way does the term connotate "peaceful", or have anything to do with the merit or quality of a nation's government. Pakistan is a sovereign nation, even though Mushareff is a military dictator who took over by coup a few years back. Russia was sovereign under Stalin. Germany under Hitler was sovereign.

Liberals use the word, generally, in a correct fashion, meaning that the US did attack a sovereign nation...one that was indepedent and self-governing. We did. Generally we don't like doing that unless there is some imminent threat, or unless we declare war first. The basic argument is over whether that threat existed, not whether Iraq was sovereign or not.

Ryan,Regarding why... (Below threshold)
mantis:

Ryan,

Regarding why we went to war I agree with you, for the most part. I was just expaining my reasons for opposing the war (of which the "threatening or attacking" bit was one), and re-explaining them, and re-expaining them.

When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, we justifiably went to war with that country. When Al-Qaeda attacked the WTC, we justifiably invaded the country where those terrorists had bases and trained. I do not think we were justified in invading Iraq on such grounds. There are other grounds on which to intervene militarily, though none have been convincingly demonstrated to me regarding Iraq.

Ryan A.Did you eve... (Below threshold)
Peter F.:

Ryan A.

Did you even bother to read what I wrote? I said "By the strictest of M-W.com definitions, Iraq was indeed "an autonomous state". I do not disagree with mantis on that statement at all. How or why would I?

You entirely miss my point regarding the "ill-applied modern connotation" that liberals have placed on it, giving it a false and misleading connotation. Ryan, ALL nations are sovereign. Yet, in the context that liberals denounce the Iraq War saying we "attacked a sovereign nation", the automatic and correct response is "so what? All nations are sovereign by definition". How does that rule-out Iraq from being attacked? Well, it doesn't. By your logic, that in attacking Germany during WW II we were attacking sovereign nation. Again, so what? It means nothing; it is an irrelevant point.

Moreover, and to address your point, yes, Pakistan, the Old Russia. And you walk right into my point again. By using the word sovereign, the far-left liberals are using the word "sovereign" to connote "peaceful" or "unbelligerent" or "unaggressive", choose your word, it doesn't really matter. The point is, they are mischaracterizing a word to make some vacous point about "sovereignty" that is grossly irrelevant.

mantis:Now you're ... (Below threshold)
Peter F.:

mantis:

Now you're getting to the larger and biggest sticking point between the Left and Right in this country: Who or what are we fighting against?

The left, in my ever-to-brief opinion, believes it is al Qaeda or the people who attacked us. And to some degree, terrorism at large.

The right, again, ever-so briefly, believe that is was MORE than just a group that attacked us on 9/11, it was an ideology. And that, specifically, is Islamofascism — the kind that is born, bred and encouraged in nearly all of the Middle East.

(Crud! I just noticed the time and I've gotta scoot off to doctor's appt. (Yup, I plan them for Friday afternoon. Sneaky, huh?) but I really think we get down to the crux of the difference between us when we start discussing this issue. And I'd really like to expand on some thoughts that you had in previous posts. Perhaps, if weekend plans allow, I'll get that opportunity.)

Sorry...

Peter:You seem to ... (Below threshold)
Ryan A:

Peter:

You seem to have a much more clear understanding of the word in this last comment. In the previous one you were using definitions from both the noun and adjective use of the word "sovereign."

You wrote that you took issue with Iraq being referred to as a sovereign nation, and that's what I responded to.

You seem to be reading a lot into what "Liberals" mean when they use that word. Generally, from what you have written, the uses that you disagree with seem to be pretty correct. I mean, Iraq WAS a sovereign nation. That doesnt connotate "peaceful" or "benevolent", but it does have certain political and legal meanings, i.e. the idea that sovereign nations are not supposed to be attacked unless there is a direct threat of war, etc.

Ryan, ALL nations are sovereign. Yet, in the context that liberals denounce the Iraq War saying we "attacked a sovereign nation", the automatic and correct response is "so what? All nations are sovereign by definition". How does that rule-out Iraq from being attacked? Well, it doesn't.

Well, when a nation is sovereign, there are certain rules that we are supposed to follow, and it appears that those "Liberals" question whether or not we were following those rules. Iraq's sovereignty, if recognized by other nations, means that it shouldn't be attacked unless it poses some kind of threat to another nation. THAT'S how it can be ruled out. The question is whether they posed the threat or not. In 1990 they did. And in 2002? Well, that's what everyone is arguing about.

By using the word sovereign, the far-left liberals are using the word "sovereign" to connote "peaceful" or "unbelligerent" or "unaggressive", choose your word, it doesn't really matter. The point is, they are mischaracterizing a word to make some vacous point about "sovereignty" that is grossly irrelevant.

Are they? Seriously, I can understand how you would interpret things that way, especially when someone puts an emphasis on the word in a sentence. "They attacked a SOVEREIGN nation." But still, that doesnt imply "peaceful" or "unbelligerent". It implies certain rights and international laws.

In a nutshell: I thi... (Below threshold)
B Moe:


In a nutshell: I think the best interests of the Iraqi people and our economic and strategic best interests are the same. I think a free, both politically and economically, Iraq as a trading partner and an ally in that area is in everyone's best interest, except the Islamist extremists. I think there is a huge list of reasons we took out Saddam, alot of which we can't know for security reasons. Bush was riding high after Afghanistan, Iraq was a domestic land mine from the outset, there had to be some pretty compelling reasons to put the 2004 election at risk like that.

I personally think the primary reason was a fear of Hussein pulling a Armageddon move on Israel, and the whole sub-continent exploding. I just think it is important we try to make something good happen over there, reconstruction is never quick or easy.


B Moe:I think t... (Below threshold)
Ryan A:

B Moe:

I think the best interests of the Iraqi people and our economic and strategic best interests are the same.

I see what you're saying, and understand your thinking. My question, however, was: Do you think that we went to war in Iraq primarily in the interest of the Iraqi people? Why did we go there? Was it to protect them, or was it for our own national interests? Do you think it was both?

Were the people of Iraq a major concern to us in the 1980s when we had ties with Hussein (since we pretty much knew he was a murderer then)? How about in 1991 when Bush 41 encouraged the Shia to uprise, then left, and they got massacred by Hussein?

For me personally, I can understand why Iraqi people might be unsure where they fit in the whole scheme of priorities.

From what I've read and understand, 9/11 provided the possibility for war. The American public was more receptive to the idea, and people like Cheney and Wolfowitz seized the opportunity. I'm not laying any kind of judgement, I'm just saying how I see it. I don't think there were a lot a secret reasons why we removed Saddam. He was defying us in a region that we consider very important, so we took him out when certain people felt the American public would get behind the action to a reasonable extent.

I personally think the primary reason was a fear of Hussein pulling a Armageddon move on Israel, and the whole sub-continent exploding.

Ya, I agree with that. But what gets some people upset is the fact that the pre-war rhetoric was all about the imminent threat to us here in the United States, WMDs and all that--like Hussein was going to attack us anyday. Do you remember that??? It was alot of bullshit, and that angered many people I think. Personally, I feel that Bush and Co. should have dropped all the scare tactic shit and stuck to the real concerns and issues, such as you mention here.

I just think it is important we try to make something good happen over there, reconstruction is never quick or easy.

Agreed. Regardless of how we got there, now we're in, and it's important that we don't leave the place before it's secure and relatively stable--otherwise things could get even worse. Like you, I do think that something positive can ultimately (hopefully) come out of this. Hopefully it will be a democratic Iraq that's fairly strong and stable.

RE: Ryan A's post (Septembe... (Below threshold)
AnonymousDrivel:

RE: Ryan A's post (September 30, 2005 08:52 PM)
...the pre-war rhetoric was all about the imminent threat to us here in the United States, WMDs and all that--like Hussein was going to attack us anyday. Do you remember that???

You bring up many good points in this extended debate. This one is not one of them.

This sentiment, which conveniently fits very well into the thesis of this original post's intent, is repeatedly misrepresented and is erroneous. The rationale explicitly stated was that an appropriate response was needed before imminent since imminent with a fear of WMD's from a vindictive, masochistic, and brutal man via proxy warriors could have risked large scale annihilation of American (and allied) lands. President Bush made this abundantly clear in his SOTU speech, yet it is continuously and not unintentionally ignored. NO President could have allowed such a development to evolve. Some comfortably critique that sentiment now with the benefit of hindsight. How disingenuous indeed. It is imperative that we remember that this was not an international assault due to imminent threat but the conscientious intervention to deter catastrophe when the risk-reward to action versus inaction became an untenable position.

AnonD:Look, I unde... (Below threshold)
Ryan A:

AnonD:

Look, I understand the point that you are making here completely. Basically your argument is that we had to go in there in 2003. You seem to be asserting that all of a sudden there was a critical need to attack Iraq right then, but there was no imminent threat. You're saying we had to go in BEFORE he became a threat. So if Hussein was not an immediate threat, what made March 2003 such a crucial time to invade?

I argue that he wasnt an immediate threat, but certain people decided it was time to take care of old business, and so--the threat of Hussein was made a little more dramatic, if you will, in order to persuade the American public into accepting the idea of another war. I think 9/11 opened up the possibility for another war, because Americans were pretty scared (and with good reason). I was freaked out as all hell after 9/11.

And there were speeches given in which it was stated that the threat was imminent:

No terrorist state poses a greater or more immediate threat to the security of our people and the stability of the world than the regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq.- Donald Rumsfeld, testimony to Congress, Sept. 19, 2002

The world is also uniting to answer the unique and urgent threat posed by Iraq.- George W. Bush, Nov. 23, 2002

Hell, I could go fish out quotes all night, and then you could counter me in the same way. Look AnonymousD, we were both there. I am not completely stupid, and I do remember the whole ordeal pretty well. As I recall it, there was a definite and clear PR aspect to the whole thing, where the threat of Hussein was really emphasized, and we were made to feel like we had to go to war immediately. Maybe that kind of thing has to happen, otherwise the American people just wouldnt get behind such an extensive effort.

Personally, I would have rather heard this: "Ok people, that region is incredibly valuable to us as a nation, period. You guys like driving big cars all over the place, well listen up. We need to have a middle east that is peaceful, for the stability of our nation's economic future. It's not pretty, but it's true. Saddam Hussein is a challenge to that stability, and we have decided that it's time for him to go."

You see--all this stuff about how evil Hussein was--what was the deal in the 1980s then? Like we didnt know he was a brutal dictator then! And we were willing to work with that bastard, just like we do with Mushareff today. Hussein was just as nasty back then, but then difference was we thought he might be a good little dictator and do what we ordered him to do. But he did the opposite and became a challenge to us by invading Kuwait, among other things. We hoped that with the sanctions and pressure after Gulf War I he would change his tune and start toeing the line, but he didnt. He stayed indignant toward us. Finally in 2003 GW and Co. thought it was time to smash him. So they did the whole "Saddam is a big threat now" act, and then invaded.

I still really think that had Hussein cooperated with us, we wouldnt have done a damn thing to him-Brutual murderous dictator or not. That still doesnt sit well with me, but I do understand that sometimes there arent many alternatives, and we end up associating with pretty shitty governments out of convenience. I'd rather see us get away from that practice personally, but what the hell do I know?

By the way AnonD, I'm not sitting here trying to say that you're wrong. I appreciate your perspective--it makes me think about all this--and my own stance. I may see some things a little differently, but then thats why we post here maybe--to learn and broaden our perspectives.

RE: Ryan A's consideration ... (Below threshold)
AnonymousDrivel:

RE: Ryan A's consideration (September 30, 2005 11:28 PM)

Again, very reasonable assessment in most regards and I agree with much of it.

However, and you knew there would be one, the timing was one of logistics and geopolitics in a new age, an age that needed to signal a paradigm shift in how affairs in that region would be broached.

Afghanistan was the nexus but the region was still contaminated with Islamofascist ideology. Hussein welcomed enemies of America as long as he and his Baathists did not feel threatened by them. Result? A new nexus with more support, assets, and motivation - a marriage of convenience against Western infidels even if transient. Pakistan, because of its cooperation in the early stages of 9/11 retribution, became a contemporary ally so we focused on the next most immediate threat - Hussein's Iraq.

Hussein was on the verge of having sanctions lifted, was financing terror to destabilize the region, was thumbing his nose at international law, and was just plain evil. His legacy was abhorrent and his offspring, even more sadistic, were maturing. We could not turn our back on that situation because it threatened both our safety and the stability of an important region because of its singular most valuable asset. I know I've not presented anything new here.

However, there's an unending excoriation of this government because Bush was "dishonest" with Americans. I don't agree that he was but let's assume that his main reason was not the most valid. Does it really matter in the grand scheme of things? Would it matter if 4 of 5 motivations were legitimate but since not every reason was universally approved that the entire process is subsequently unjustified? Or that the wrong emphasis was placed on any particular rationale and, due to such misappropriation, the entire endeavor must be abandoned?

As I've stated previously, Bush had American interests first, Western freedom second, and humanitarian concerns last (but not least). These motivations are all intertwined to produce a mode of action, its entire assemblage necessary when debating the ethic of war. I find the cherry-picking of the particular hierarchy of rationales unfair inasmuch as dishonest antagonists use any of the collection to emphasize or deemphasize a given position. If the US intercedes for Western ideals and humanitarian concerns, the response is that we should only act when America is "imminently" threatened. If the US intercedes due to American and Western self-interest, then America doesn't give a damn about the local flora. If America acts in its own self-interest and the humanitarian concerns of the subjugated, then America is hegemonic. These are talking points of a political nature that power brokers promote for selfish ideals.

I happen to think that American intervention was a compilation of provable and non-provable but likely themes that, taken collectively, provided the most reasonable justification for action in an imperfect world. It's unfair to opine that it is simple dishonesty that produces the antagonism and that if the administration was "honest", that support will inevitably follow. Those who opposed the administration were itching for reasons to state that opposition publicly without suffering the branding of being unpatriotic. That is an unpricipled position and is transparently shallow partisanship... and contemptible.

I think we share considerable common ground of the assessment of the geopolitics but differ pointedly on the appropriate response. Whatever our disagreement, I feel much safer in our current situation than I did pre-Desert Storm. That tells me that the administration is succeeding despite the unbalanced reportage of events. I still have confidence that in 20 years, we'll be able to look back at today and make parallels between Reagan's "defeat of Communism" and Bush's "defeat of terrorism". Simplistic summary I know, but if we don't go wobbly this time, it'll be a historic legacy of which this country can be proud... and the Middle East thankful. I'll let historians debate the ethic, honesty, and esoteric of intervention while they sip tea, eat scones, and wallow by the pool in a non-Fundamental milieu. Maybe they'll recognize the irony too.

Actually, Anonymous, it fit... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

Actually, Anonymous, it fits in just as well with my "perfect as the enemy of the good" piece. We had many, many reasons why invading Iraq was the right decision at that time. One has proven to be faulty -- the WMD thing. (Actually it wasn't -- the burden was on Saddam to prove he no longer had them, not on us that he did, and he was running a massive bluff to keep Iran and others at bay, but happened to fool us as well -- but for the sake of argument, let's say it was.) So, because our reasoning was 80% rather than 100% correct, the left argues that it was all wrong.

It's sloppy, lazy thinking.

J.

AnonynousD:I th... (Below threshold)
Ryan A:

AnonynousD:

I think we share considerable common ground of the assessment of the geopolitics but differ pointedly on the appropriate response.

Ya, I think we do have quite a lot of common ground in the overall assessment. And honestly, we might not differ as much as you might think in our ideas of the appropriate response, but thats for another day...

Your points are well stated, and well taken, by the way.

However, there's an unending excoriation of this government because Bush was "dishonest" with Americans. I don't agree that he was but let's assume that his main reason was not the most valid. Does it really matter in the grand scheme of things?

Well, yes. If we make the assumption that the main reason wasnt valid, then that does matter in the grand scheme of things. This is my point exactly...I feel that GW and co. should have just stuck to the solid and valid reasons, and steered clear of the conjecture. For me, that would have been better at least. They had plenty of reasons, valid ones, to intervene in Iraq...I dont think it was wise to make such a big deal about WMDs, imminent threats, etc. when those werent as substantial. I think Bush gave his detractors alot of fodder with those red herrings, you know?

It's fun to make it into some kind of percentage thing saying that they were still 80 percent truthful...but to be fair the percentages have to be weighted in some way to reflect their relative importance, or at least how they were presented. Does that make sense?

In all this I'm not taking away from the fact that there were plenty of solid reasons to go deal with Hussein. The problem is that Bush and Co. kinda built their case on something that wasnt there, and suffered the consequences. Instead, why not build your case on the solid evidence? (20/20 I know). I think they made a gamble with the WMDs and all that because it was alot more immediate and scary and dramatic. When those weapons didnt surface, well, there was alot of room for bipartisan attacks, IMO. The case for war that they'd built lost its star witness.

Simplistic summary I know, but if we don't go wobbly this time, it'll be a historic legacy of which this country can be proud... and the Middle East thankful.

It COULD work, you're right. It would be nice too. Sometimes I try to imagine how things would be with a democratic Iraq, you know surrounded by Iran and Syria and Jordan. Is it going to be a struggle like what Israel has had? Will there be constant attacks for decades, or will it start to turn the tide?

I'll let historians debate the ethic, honesty, and esoteric of intervention while they sip tea, eat scones, and wallow by the pool in a non-Fundamental milieu. Maybe they'll recognize the irony too.

lol

Oh dont worry...they get paid to recognize such ironies while they eat scones and sip tea.

And where will the Creation Scientits be in that future non-Fundamental milieu? ;)

One more thing about the "G... (Below threshold)
Ryan A:

One more thing about the "Grand Scheme":

The only real reason that any of this matters in the big picture is the fact that this whole ordeal has divided this country so much. I dont think that needed to happen, and I do think it could have been avoided.

As far as the reasons for war though, no, in the end it doesnt matter. There were legit reasons, and anyway we're there now.

The whole red/blue split drove me crazy though. It still pisses me off.

So, Ryan, you're saying tha... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

So, Ryan, you're saying that it's wrong to do the right thing if one bumbles the reasons? That sounds a variation of the "shoot the messenger" bit -- denouncing the cause over the spokesman's ineptitude. I've always supported the invasion of Iraq, and not given two figs about the talk -- the action was right and needed to be done. I'm not going to let quibbling over technicalities and fine nuances and "just the right wording" gum up the works.

J.

Jay:So, because... (Below threshold)
Ryan A:

Jay:

So, because our reasoning was 80% rather than 100% correct, the left argues that it was all wrong.

Look, Bush and Co. took a gamble with that WMD thing. I wouldnt even say that I think they were being dishonest; I dont. I think they believed the sources they had, and made the WMDs the big issue. It fell flat. Some Americans felt lied to. That was the gamble. I personally would have preferred it if they stuck to the solid reasons when making the case for war. The whole preclude to war/heightened fear thing didnt work well for me at all.

I agree that people on the left go overboard. They really do. The whole Bush as Hitler thing, and the whole blaming Bush for everything that has gone wrong under the sun--it's out of control. I mean, don't they realize that this country is run by more than one person? Don't they realize that Democrats are also a part of governing this country, and responsible as well? Can't they remember that Clinton was saying the same things about Iraq, and about WMDs and all that? Well, he was.

Hussein was a problem, in a region that anyone who reads anything about geopolitics understands is prime real estate. And it's going to get more precious in the future. Everyone knew that he would have to be dealt with, because you cant have some unwieldy murderous dictator running rampant in one of the most politically and economically valuable regions in the world. Not good. So yes, of course the reasons for intervention were not all wrong. It would be nice to see some people on the left edge come back to the table.

Jay:So, Ryan, y... (Below threshold)
Ryan A:

Jay:

So, Ryan, you're saying that it's wrong to do the right thing if one bumbles the reasons?

No. I'm saying that Bush and Co. kinda shot themselves in the foot politically with the WMD thing.

I'm not meaning to imply that I think the action was wrong. I think that Hussein had to be dealt with, and sanctions weren't going to do anything beside cause millions of Iraqis to starve. I disagree with some of the ways that we went about things, but I did think we had to deal with him.

It was the job of Bush and his people to make the case for war, just like all political leaders have to do. They had a good case, but added things that they felt potentially could break the thing wide open. The WMD stuff scared quite a lot of Americans, really scared the shit out of them. Now, when it turned out that they didn't exist, and that the evidence for them wasnt as solid as had been promulgated, many people were angry and turned that toward Bush. Maybe not the best reaction of all time, but I can see where they were coming from.

I'm not going to let quibbling over technicalities and fine nuances and "just the right wording" gum up the works.

Well, we might differ on this then. If "just the right wording" means the truth, then I'll quibble over it anyday.

Ryan A."But still,... (Below threshold)
Peter F.:

Ryan A.

"But still, that doesnt imply "peaceful" or "unbelligerent". It implies certain rights and international laws."

By definition, you're absolutely right. But I'm not talking about definitions here, I'm talking the ill-applied connotation of a word in use by the anti-war protestors. They are using the word to connote something that it does NOT nor was it ever intended to connote: "peaceful" and "unbelligerent". And I think putting emphasis on the word is important because it is precisely what the anti-war crowed is doing. They are trying to give a word more meaning than it rigthfully deserves.

On this matter, I think we agree and disagree.

While I'm no lawyer and would have a great deal of difficulty in speaking to international laws and rights, I could certainly go into the numerous, nay countless, violations Saddam's Iraq committed after 1990, beginning with violating Resolution 667. I believe the whole issue of whether or not the war was illegal or legal is best summed up here.

Ryan A.:"It would ... (Below threshold)
Peter F.:

Ryan A.:

"It would be nice to see some people on the left edge come back to the table."

Wow! I couldn't agree more. Less carping and more real-world problem solving would be a welcome respite from the "Bush is Hitler" rantings now. You're very right, it's completely out of control.

All I keep thinking about is how our intelligence community failed us on 9/11 and on WMD. That, more than anything, should have Dems and Reps alike worried as hell. We should all pray that Porter Goss is straightening things out.




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