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The White Man's Burden, Part III: You Go To War With The Geopolitical Reality You Have, Not The One You Want

There is a truism that states that "Nature abhors a vacuum." And it is a truism because it is more often true than not, especially in geopolitics. Nothing occurs in a vacuum. No nation is an island, entire of itself. And no event has no repercussions. The Butterfly Effect is environmental theory, but political fact.

The invasion of Afghanistan was a given. The Taliban not only gave shelter, aid, and comfort to Al Qaeda, but they persisted in doing so after 9/11. They wanted concrete, irrefutable proof before they would turn them over to us - and under their legal system, Al Qaeda's testimony as Muslims was absolutely irrefutable against that of the secular government of the United States. And there was a legal cover for the invasion; the United Nations had never formally recognized the Taliban as the legitimate government, but preferred the Northern Alliance. We backed them in their fight (to a degree that it would be almost fair to call them a "fig leaf" to cover our own attack) and overthrew the Taliban in record time, sending them and Al Qaeda fleeing.

But the war was never against Al Qaeda. They were merely one faction - and so far, the most successful faction -- of the overall enemy, one part of the big picture. The war did not begin with their first attack on us, it had been going for some time, and even if every single Al Qaeda member were to be killed or arrested, the war would continue.

The toppling of the Taliban deprived Al Qaeda of their sanctuary, and put them on the defensive for the first time. Since that day, the vast majority of their leadership is dead or imprisoned. True, Bin Laden himself is still missing, but the 9/11 attacks represented the singular high point of their campaign against America - and the dropoff from that peak has been tremendous.

After the immediacy of Al Qaeda had been dealt with, then what? It would have been easy to declare victory and hang it up. But as I said, Al Qaeda was only one facet of the problem. There are numerous other terrorist threats in the world, and to stop at Al Qaeda would be to only leave the question of who would be the next terrorist group to try to top them. And there is no shortage of likely candidates. For example, as of September 10, 2001, Hezbollah ("Party Of Allah") had killed more Americans than any other terrorist group. Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the Palestinian Liberation Organization also had the blood of many Americans on their hands. And that's just four off the top of my head - a perusal of the State Department's official list has over 40 groups.

So, now that the immediate threat from Al Qaeda has been neutralized, what do we do next? The first part is to look at a map, and see just where the terrorists tend to come from. After all, it's better to fight them over there than back here.

We already had a sizable force in Afghanistan, as well as many more around the Persian Gulf. They were there as a consequence of the 1991 Persian Gulf War, when we forcibly ejected Saddam Hussein and his Iraqi forces from Kuwait. Saddam surrendered in that war, and the terms and circumstances of that surrender required a hefty presence to remind him that we were watching - and wanted to make sure he kept his word.

So, why Saddam? Because he represented a unique confluence of circumstances, all of which made him the logical target for the next campaign in the War On Terror.

First, the legal justification: Saddam had agreed to repeatedly, deliberately, and willfully violated many of those terms. When the losing side of a war refuses to keep up its end of the bargain, than a resumption of hostilities is not only allowed, but arguably is required to remind others in the future the price of not keeping one's word.

Next, the linkage of Saddam to terrorism. Despite the best efforts of some war critics to rewrite history, no one in the Bush administration linked Saddam to the 9/11 attacks. Personally, I never thought there was much of a chance of it, purely on the basis of pragmatism. This was Al Qaeda's biggest play yet, and they had to keep knowledge of it as closely held as possible. Saddam was pushing to have the sanctions against him lifted; it very well might have suited his purpose to unmask the plan (possibly through proxies), then use that as leverage to win points with the West.

But the links between Saddam and Al Qaeda, in general, are much more tangible. Christopher Hitchens recently reminded us that President Clinton defended the 1998 cruise missile attack on the Sudan by arguing that the pharmaceutical plant struck was owned by Osama Bin Laden - and was being used to perform chemical weapon research and development on Saddam's behalf. (There are numerous other examples, but that one will suffice for now.)

But let's not forget that our war is not with Al Qaeda, but terrorists in general. They are a part of the threat, but hardly the whole threat. Saddam's support for other terrorist groups is indisputable. He gave shelter to Abu Nidal. He was funding suicide bombers against Israel. He hosted terrorist training camps. So in the simple "us or them" calculus, he was quite firmly with terrorists.

So there, we have a solid case for starting a campaign in Iraq - if we chose to start one. The question remains, should we? In the long run, would such a campaign put us closer to our goal, or serve as a diversion?

Judged solely on its own merits, the issue of Iraq is a simple one. Was is absolutely necessary to invade it? Was it, as many critics say, a "war of choice?" In a vacuum, the answer is simple: yes. The problems with Iraq were not a grave, imminent threat to the United States or our interests, and did not need such a forceful, immediate solution. Hell, even President Bush said so.

But the Iraq situation was not occurring in a vacuum. There were many, many other factors in play, and those factors made it not only the wise choice, but the wisest choice from a broad slate of bad options.

Let's look at the benefits of removing Saddam's regime and replacing it with one more compatible with such notions as respect for human rights, the rights of their citizens, their neighbors, and a willingness to become a valued member of the community of nations:

First off, since democracies tend to not be very tolerant of terrorism, we would remove a source of support for that scourge.

Secondly, we would gain access to all the records and documents that Saddam would not have time to destroy that would detail his dealings with terrorists.

Thirdly, we would have the opportunity to test whether or not democracy and Islam were compatible, something that is often called into question. A successful, democratic Iraq could serve as an inspiration for oppressed people throughout the Muslim world - and that's a LOT of people.

Fourthly, a strong US presence in Iraq - along with our forces in Afghanistan, the Persian Gulf, and in several Gulf states - would serve as a constant reminder to other terrorist-sponsoring nations that we have had no problems in overthrowing two hostile governments, and are right there should we decide to keep going. (Yes, Iran and Syria, I'm talking to you.)

So the potential benefits of overthrowing Saddam were exceptional. That only leaves a couple other troubling questions:

1) While winning the war would be easy, can we win the peace?
2) If winning the peace is possible, is it worth the price?

Those are tough questions, and I don't have ready answers. Instead, I look at it slightly differently: can we afford to not try?

We've tried numerous other approaches to fighting terrorism, and they've all worked roughly equally well - that is to say, not at all. We've tried negotiations. We've tried law enforcement. We've tried a bunch of other approaches, and the end result has pretty much been the same: more terrorism. The notion of "virally marketing" democracy in the heart of global terrorism has the advantage of never having been tried before, and is in keeping with our ethics and principles and beliefs.

And if that means we go it alone, or with only a few staunch allies, so what? The majority is not always right. And in the world of international diplomacy, it can be argued that it is wrong at least as long as it is right. The United Nations General Assembly is the closest thing to pure democracy on the global stage, and look at how well that works out: tyrants and petty despots stand beside democratic nations, with each nation having equal voice, regardless of their policies, how they achieve and maintain their power, how they treat their people, and countless other criteria by which sensible, reasonable people judge governments. To the UN, that is all irrelevant.

It also overlooks the brutal element of pragmatism: just how many nations could actually contribute to our cause? The case of Lebanon is providing a real-time example of that problem. Many nations have let their military atrophy to the point where such power projection is far beyond their capabilities. Many of the traditional great powers have "let themselves go" in terms of military might, and simply can't honor their commitments. Their protestations of principle provide a slender fig leaf for their impotence.

Great Britain and the Anglosphere have proven to be good friends. Tony Blair is paying the price for his agreement with President Bush on Iraq, but Australia still stands strong with us. And while the days when Canadians stormed the beaches of Normandy are long past, they have come through for us when the chips were down. Personally, I will never forget Canadians helping Americans escape Iran after the fall of the Shah, at great personal risk and with the full support of their government, and how Canada opened her arms to tens of thousands of airline passengers on 9/11, when the United States took the unprecedented step of completely shutting down all air travel. And Canada has offered its own soldiers for many peacekeeping missions around the world - while I often disagree with the advisability of such missions, the courage and honor of those Canadians has been amply proven.

The Bible says, in Luke 12:48, "From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded," and Stan Lee paraphrased that for the core principle of Spider-Man: "with great power comes great responsibility." The essential truth of both is the same: when one possesses power or influence, that carries with it the burden to use it responsibly. Even refusing to use it is a decision in and of itself, with its own sets of consequences.

The United States, for better or for worse, is the most powerful nation on earth. Every single action or inaction of ours carries with it tremendous consequences. We must use that power responsibly, fairly, and justly. And equally important, we must use at least as much care and thought when we decline to use it. Each choice to act or not to act must be weighed carefully and on its own merits; neither option should be the default. We simply cannot tread lightly on this world.

No, the fighting in Iraq has not gone ideally. But nor has it been anywhere near the disaster the nay-sayers predicted. There were no tens of thousands of US casualties in the toppling of Saddam's regime. Iraq has a fledgling government, chosen through two well-conducted and highly-successful elections. And the Iraqi military is slowly coming into its own, resuming its pre-war responsibilities - but under a government that it can respect and trust, and not fear.

In the meantime, the United States has a very healthy military presence right in the heart of the terrorist world. Those that seek to kill Americans are presented with a whole lot of them readily at hand - but they are those Americans who are the best-equipped to take the attacks and fight back, often inflicting casualties in whole orders of magnitude greater than they suffer. Further, they are the ones who have chosen to place themselves in harm's way, to stand between the American people and those who wish us harm.

The so-called "strategy" being espoused by the Democratic leadership, it seems to me, is precisely the worst possible solution. They are pushing for hard deadlines for solid withdrawal from Iraq, telling the enemy just how long they have to hang on until they can claim victory for having "driven" us out of Iraq. The path to victory, as I have said before, is not marked on a calendar, but a checklist.


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Comments (60)

The only problem here is, t... (Below threshold)
Publicus:

The only problem here is, the Bush administration has gone to war against reality...

The only problem here is... (Below threshold)
VagaBond:

The only problem here is, the Bush administration has gone to war against reality...

Posted by: Publicus

said the pot to the kettle....

"Clinton said,..."... (Below threshold)
Robert:

"Clinton said,..."

We're taking his word now?
You know, he got a blow job from an intern don't you?

Can't you come up with somebody else (who dosen't commit the ultimate sin of getting a blowe job from an adult) to support your conjecture?

"The United States, for bet... (Below threshold)
Robert:

"The United States, for better or for worse, is the most powerful nation on earth. Every single action or inaction of ours carries with it tremendous consequences. We must use that power responsibly, fairly, and justly."

How does this quote jibe with your call for torture? What influence do "the beheaders" have on the world at large?

As for the war in Iraq; Ira... (Below threshold)
Robert:

As for the war in Iraq; Iran thanks you very, very much.

They couldn't have done it without you.

I hope Kevin is going to ad... (Below threshold)
a4g:

I hope Kevin is going to add an "ignore" feature for comments in the site redesign. The comments section here at Wizbang used to be fun to read. Now, after a long post full of ideas to be debated, we're treated to the mindless repetitive blathering of morons.

Either ban these imbicile trolls or give us some way to never have to inadvertantly waste our time reading them.

They're hurting the brand.

I agree with a4g..By the wa... (Below threshold)
914:

I agree with a4g..By the way Chavez calls Bush the Devil at the UN today.

He parrots the democrats.

The war in Iraq is not abou... (Below threshold)
Robert:

The war in Iraq is not about controlling their oil.

As far as you know.

On the topic of truisms, Sh... (Below threshold)
Malibu Stacy:

On the topic of truisms, Shakespeare put some very apt words in the mouth of Polonius in Hamlet, Act II, Scene II. See if you can guess.

Nice piece, Jay.(S... (Below threshold)
Mike:

Nice piece, Jay.

(Someone get Robert his meds. He's freaking out again. 4 out of the first 8 post??)

Jay Tea,I like your ... (Below threshold)

Jay Tea,
I like your work so far this week, but you really need to proofread it better. For example:

"First, the legal justification: Saddam had agreed to repeatedly, deliberately, and willfully violated many of those terms."

The ideas which you present here deserve perfect grammar. ;)

I wish this war was for oil... (Below threshold)
cubanbob:

I wish this war was for oil. then we could dispense with the hearts and minds and Islam is a religion of peace crap. Take the oil fields, expel the locals from the oil fields and make the rest of the world dance to our tune. If we are going to called imperialists, lets be the best imperialist we can be. Oil is indispensable. Arab oil ticks are entirely dispensable. the mistake is in conflating the two.

For all of you 'Bush wants ... (Below threshold)
Chuckg:

For all of you 'Bush wants torture!' aficinados -- have you actually *read* the list of techniques that the CIA wanted to use? Sleep deprivation? Bright lights? Harsh language? Slappings that don't even leave bruises?

Sheesh. With the exception of the dope slapping, I underwent all of those myself -- in basic training. My father, back when he was in basic training, got all of those /plus/ the dope slapping. I can think of harsher college fraternity initiations. Hell, I can think of harsher high school sports team initiations.

And spare me the !#%[email protected]%! about 'waterboarding'. That *wasn't* on the list of things the CIA was asking permission for. Indeed, none of you can prove it's been done.

A couple other points.... (Below threshold)
yetanotherjohn:

A couple other points.

A case could be made for several other places to "stick our oar in" other than Iraq. Saudi Arabia is the birthplace of Whabbism. While Iraq has helped draw the poisons out of the middle east, it would have been nothing like Mecca. Further, Mecca in the hands of the "crusaders" would have made a strong argument that somebody had miscalculated which side Allah was on. The down side of course is that Saudia Arabia is in some respects an ally of the US. They made a faustian bargain with radical islam to keep the lid on the internal problems. The bills are now coming do for that. Further, unless we wanted to use the nationality of the hijackers, it would have been hard to make a "legitimate" claim for war against Saudi Arabia. The war against Iraq got bipartisan support because it deserved bipartisan support. Finally, a war against Saudi Arabia would have sent world oil prices rocketing up. Iraq's oil was pretty much off the market due to sanctions, so a war there would have had a much lower impact.

You could also make the case for a war in Pakistan and/or Iran as part of sealing off Afghanistan. Like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan has aspects of being an allie (and aspects of not being an allie). But going to war there would have raised doubts in the mind of every other allie as to who we would decide is next. For Iran, we didn't have the multiple legitimate cases for war. We owed them for the hostages, but the longer you don't act, the harder it is to justify a war based on something that happened over 20 years ago. Pakistan was further ahead than Iraq in the WMD arena and Iran was thought to be further behind.

You could also say that England and France would make appropriate targets. They were harboring radical muslims which pose an ongoing recruitment source for terrorists. But these countries are our allies (even if France keeps forgetting). In a machavelian way, premptively taking out Londonstan might make sense, but it would have been us against the world (probably literally).

We could also have gone into a couple of the more active fronts that had fighting before 9/11, Chechnya and Israel/Palestine. Chechnya would have required cooperating with the Russians, a dubious allie in the long run. It also would not likely have struck at the core of the problem, but the periphery. The Israeli/Palestinian war would have been more fertile ground, but it has so much more history in it. It is also more on the periphery. Short of genocide, there isn't a whole lot more the US could have done that the Israelis aren't doing.

There are also a couple of additional reasons why Iraq made sense besides the ones you raise. It has a decent chance of succeeding economically as the prototype arab democracy. It has historically been one of the fulcrums for islamic culture and thought, so it isn't on the periphery. Troops in Iraq also are well positioned for the future against Syria and Iran if needed.

We are losing about 1/3 the troops per year in combat in Iraq that we were losing per year in peacetime under Carter. So the question is not can we sustain our war in Iraq. The question is if we have the will to sustain it. The ignorance shown by Robert above about why we went into Iraq is a good part of why it is a legitimate question as to if we can win in Iraq. Its not a question of manpower, tactics, material or the enemy. Its a question about will and the perspective of those whose hatred of Bush is so great they can not acknowledge the realities of this world.

Robert has what will be kno... (Below threshold)
Scrapiron:

Robert has what will be know as 'Chavez Syndrome', Funtionally literate, but totally insane.

What did the LA Times, Chri... (Below threshold)
George:

What did the LA Times, Christian Science Monitor, Reuters, San Francisco Chronicle, CNN, ABC News, USA Today and the Boston Globe all get wrong? It will come as little surprise to most folks here.

Despite their reports to the contrary, the Iraq War is actually an increasingly popular war with more than half of Americas actually supporting it.

Robert:Ca... (Below threshold)
Heralder:

Robert:

Can't you come up with somebody else (who dosen't commit the ultimate sin of getting a blowe job from an adult) to support your conjecture?

It's not the blowjob...it's that pesky lying under oath thing.

The blowjob is ok too, promiscuity and infidelity make for great character traits, don't you think Robert?

"The Butterfly Effect is en... (Below threshold)
Jay:

"The Butterfly Effect is environmental theory"

No. It's a mathematical theory expressed with an environmental analogy.

Other than that stopping me cold and making it hard to read on without commenting first, great post.

All true, good post Jay.</p... (Below threshold)
another robert:

All true, good post Jay.

As the US maintains is presence in Iraq, with a lower profile and lower risk over time, it occurs to me that Iran and Syria can't help but notice this force on their border.

My bet is that Teddy Roosevelt would not have had it any other way.

"As for the war in Iraq; I... (Below threshold)
hvywgt:

"As for the war in Iraq; Iran thanks you very, very much."

Robert, look at a map. U.S. troops are on two sides if Iran three counting the Gulf.

The biggest problem with ta... (Below threshold)

The biggest problem with targeting Saudi Arabia first (well, second) instead of Iraq (or anything else) is the fact that pretty much all Muslims would flip. You may think they have now, but trust me when I say they have not.

Think about it. Attacking the country with the holiest city in Islam is not the way to win Muslims to our side. Bombed Mecca = every Muslim in the world out for blood = oh shit. It's a bit like trying to remove a hornet's nest before you take care the outlying hornets.

Oh, and Robert...C... (Below threshold)

Oh, and Robert...

Clinton is my favorite example of hypocrisy on the Left. Everything he said about Iraq and Sadaam pretty much lines up with what Bush is doing. Clinton liked to talk a lot, but Bush is the one stuck with actually putting in some effort.

However, the Democrats who supported Clinton's beliefs are now tearing into Bush for implimenting said beliefs. I'd laugh if it wasn't so serious and so pathetic.

You're right. I can't prov... (Below threshold)
Robert:

You're right. I can't prove anything bad the most secretive administration in the history of this country has ever done.

Too bad, Bush doesn't work for the people of the United States. Too bad he's not a public servant.
Too bad we live in a country where we don't know what our leaders are doing in our name.
Too bad we don't live in an open democracy like the one our founding fathers had set up.

Too bad about the United States.
Such a shame.

President Bush recently inv... (Below threshold)
Robert:

President Bush recently invited a few columnists to the White House and showcased his "visionary" thinking. He asked the columnists, reported one who was there, "to think about what the world could look like 50 years from now, with Islamic radicals either controlling the world's oil supply or not."

Apologies now being accepted by Robert at:
Sorry Robert
c/o Come to find out it was about oil
Plain as the nose on my face, NV 89654


"But the war was neve... (Below threshold)
Herman:

"But the war was never against Al Qaeda." -- Jay Tea

Mr. Tea has after all these years finally been able to grasp what the problem is.

There is a truism that stat... (Below threshold)
muirgeo:

There is a truism that states that “Nature abhors a vacuum.

Jay Tea

That's silly right from the start. Almost the whole universe is a vacuum.

"When the losing side of a ... (Below threshold)
Herman:

"When the losing side of a war refuses to keep up its end of the bargain, than a resumption of hostilities is not only allowed, but arguably is required to remind others in the future the price of not keeping one’s word." -- Jay Tea

Was Saddam in breech of U.N. Resolutions, in March 2003, when the invasion began? After all, the UN Weapons Inspectors had returned the previous fall. In any case, it is not up to a few member states of the UN to alone determine what the consequences of any alleged breech of UN Resolutions should be. It is up to the UN Security Council itself. And Bush and Blair never let the Security Council vote on whether these consequences entailed "pre-emptive" war, for they knew they would lose! (Russia and France voting "no!" and possibly China too)

Robert:Yo... (Below threshold)
Heralder:

Robert:

You're right. I can't prove anything bad the most secretive administration in the history of this country has ever done.

Including that it's the most secretive administration in the history of this country.

I'll just disregard the rest of your post.

Was Saddam in breech of ... (Below threshold)
Peter F.:

Was Saddam in breech of U.N. Resolutions, in March 2003, when the invasion began?

Yes, 17 of them in fact, including 1441 and the original resolution 678. Saddamn had to account for all his weapons. He couldn't and chalked it up to poor paperwork. Not acceptable when one is working when CW, BW and nuclear materials.

And let's try a little context when it comes to those "no" votes. Russia and China were the key arms suppliers to Iraq (and are to Iran, too). The French government and French businesses wer knee-deep in the Oil-For-Food Scandal and hardly wanted to be exposed to their nefarious and now revealed undertakings.

muirego:T... (Below threshold)
Heralder:

muirego:

That's silly right from the start. Almost the whole universe is a vacuum.

Not according to physicists.

Jay,Again, as with... (Below threshold)
Frenchhater:

Jay,

Again, as with Part 1, you begin with a false assumption, in this case that the immediate threat of Al Qaeda has been "neutralized" (In Part one, you started by asserting that only after WWII did the US enter the world arena as a major player which is patently false). The bombings in Spain, Jakarta, Casablanca, kenya and Bali prove the Al Qaeda statement wrong. The fact thet they haven't attacked on US soil is also irrelevant and not an indicator of their diminished strength. They had hurt US interests elsewhere before 9/11.

For such an ambitious endeavor that is trying, by your own admission, to change minds about the War effort, you should not leave such gaping holes in your reasoning.


That's silly right from ... (Below threshold)
VagaBond:

That's silly right from the start. Almost the whole universe is a vacuum.

Well....that sucks...

Frenchhater:The... (Below threshold)
Peter F.:

Frenchhater:

The bombings in Spain, Jakarta, Casablanca, kenya and Bali prove the Al Qaeda statement (the immediate threat) wrong.

Well, no, not really. Many of AQ's leaders (like KSM and others) and key operational leaders have either been killed or captured. (I did a brief search for the complete list of AQ leaders and operatives captured since 9/11. I saw on CNN I believe, but was unable to find a like to share.)

Their funds have been frozen and their ability to mount any other 9/11-style attack has been greatly diminished to the point of neutralizing the immediate threat. Yes, some terrorists wishing to become famous have done terrorist acts like Bali in the name of AQ but they aren't necessarily and directly affiliated with OBL and AQ. They might be recognized by AQ, but that's the extent of that. Like AQ in Iraq. Zarqawi used the name because it was recognizable and induced fear (sort of like corproate branding, if you will). But philosophically there was great tension between Zarqawi and the OBL's AQ as evidence by Zawhiri's letters to Zarqawi which often scolded Zarqawi and his tactics.

Perhaps to be clear Jay could have used the word "largely" as a qualifier, but that's really a nit.

Unfortunately the Bush adm... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

Unfortunately the Bush administration still doesn't understand the Geopoliitical reality you go to war with or as Army Gen. John P. Abizaid, chief of the U.S. Central Command said yesterday".. Asked point-blank whether the United States is winning in Iraq, Abizaid replied: "Given unlimited time and unlimited support, we're winning the war".. however, given limited time and with limited support we are screwed...This is the geopolitical reality of Iraq, and always was. America as Bush admitted recently didn't want to be cut out of the second largest oil reserve country in the world. .. And Jay's checkpoints which seem as if they would lead to a interminal war of ten to twenty years, where American soldiers continue to die daily is not part of the American psyche. . While winning the war would be easy, can we win the peace? MY ANSWER IN A WORD IS NO. 'Politics is the art of the possible 'and this is mission impossible. Iraq afterall is in the heartland of Islam fundamentalism.

OMFG, What moonbat wrote al... (Below threshold)
Joey:

OMFG, What moonbat wrote all of this?

Jay Tea starts off this pie... (Below threshold)
Monkey Faced Liberal:

Jay Tea starts off this piece writing:

"There is a truism that states that “Nature abhors a vacuum.”"

The "truism" he refers is a idea used by Aristotle to explain why lever-operatered water pumps work.

It is interesting that Jay begins this piece mentioning this "truism", since, as most of us who took High School Physics remember, IT ISN'T ACTUALLY TRUE.

Nature DOES NOT abhor a vacuum. The reason that lever-operated water pumps work is atmospheric pressure. You can read more about it here. here.http://www.everything2.com/index.pl?node_id=539847

That said, it DOES make sense that he started this piece describing as "true" an idea which is actually false.

After all, that is what he does throughout the rest of the piece as well -- try to portray as true ideas which are clearly false.

You can't fault him for not being consistent.

Peace

Robert blathered:... (Below threshold)
Patrick Chester:

Robert blathered:
You're right. I can't prove anything bad the most secretive administration in the history of this country has ever done.

FDR's WW2 administration?

"Not acceptable when one is... (Below threshold)
Herman:

"Not acceptable when one is working when CW, BW and nuclear materials." -- Peter F

And just what specific "nuclear materials" are we talking about, Peter??? Got an answer dude?? You don't mean that phantom uranium from Niger now, do you???

Let's turn our attention to just who on the Security Council would have voted for Bush's War. This is what Wikipedia has to say:

"In the leadup to the meeting, it became apparent that a majority of UNSC members would oppose any resolution leading to war."

Well, that makes sense now doesn't it? In 2003 you had such countries as Syria, Germany, and Pakistan on the Security Council, in addition to China, Russia, and France. Having a shred of respect for international law, Blair cares a little bit about UNSC approval, but not Bushie. After all, we've known since the 2000 election that The Chimp doesn't care which side has the most votes.

Say, Peter F., do those "re... (Below threshold)
Herman:

Say, Peter F., do those "reconstituted nuclear weapons" that Dick Cheney indicated Iraq had (Meet the Press, March 16, 2003) constitute the "nuclear materials" that you speak of? You're not still believing Dick Cheney at this late stage, are you now, Peter???

"The Chimp" knows what the ... (Below threshold)
Patrick Chester:

"The Chimp" knows what the electoral college is, which I guess would make him brighter than Herman.

Herman:OK, fine. P... (Below threshold)
Peter F.:

Herman:

OK, fine. Perhaps I should have stated "CW and BW materials and nuclear ambitions" to be more clear. It still doesn't negate the fact that Saddam was, yes, actively seeking to revive his nucelar programs which was without doubt or question against ALL 17 U.N. Resolutions. And Herman, in case you forgot, as it turns out Joe Wilson did indeed find that Iraq was seeking uranium from Niger. Did Iraq buy it? No. Did they seek it? Yes. Why? For shits and giggles?

The rest of your post, I'm sorry to say, does not a whit to prove whatever point you're attempting to make.

Finally, a war against S... (Below threshold)
Neo:

Finally, a war against Saudi Arabia would have set the entire ME on fire.

Any attack on Saudi Arabia, not done by Muslims, would have been seen as an attack on Islam (i.e. Mecca, Medina, etc). The US could not have fielded an army that could have held it for 6 months, without huge loss of life (think 100,000+).

Malibu Stacy:On... (Below threshold)
astigafa:

Malibu Stacy:

On the topic of truisms, Shakespeare put some very apt words in the mouth of Polonius in Hamlet, Act II, Scene II. See if you can guess.

Okay, I got it: "This is too long." Hamlet read this post too: "Words, words, words," he says. Freakin' A, bubba. As to that,

Dear a4g:

I hope Kevin is going to add an "ignore" feature for comments in the site redesign.

...and all the trolls, etc., yeah. Now are we talking about the jhow66-type trolls who pop up and agree with whatever fascistic blathering the "editors" have offered, and who abuse dissenters in the most obscene and illiterate manner, or those trolls who try to "speak sense to stupidity," so to speak, like Lee?

Either way, if the trolls are banned, you will have a really boring site, K.

Well, there's a difference ... (Below threshold)
Thrush:

Well, there's a difference between putting forth your views in an intelligent manner, and ignoring the other side's point and spewing the same tired old lines at them endlessly.

We've had some good discussions in the past with Mantis, and (gasp) even Lee, to name a few. Having a different view isn't the problem. That's fine.

Spewing idiocy is the problem. "no blood for oil!", "No uranium in Niger", "The Chimp", "9/11 was an inside job!", etc.

It must be a full moon or something.

Nice try Jay, but as some p... (Below threshold)
fi:

Nice try Jay, but as some posters above have previously stated, your post contained numerous fallacies and false assumptions. For instance, you imply that Al Qaeda was immedialtely dealt with. They were not. And Al Qaeda, as any security expert will tell you, is not some organized army or group that we can put a handle on. Al Qaeda is the 18 year old Saudi who all of a suden decides he wants to take out a bunch of devils, by blowing himself up, so that he can meet 76 [or whatever the number is] virgins in paradise. It's a bunch of people sending out videos from a cave, to anyone who will listen to attack the infidels. How do you attack that type of loose rhetoric? Certainly not by invading a secular country who has nothing to do with those extremists in the first place. I know we believe we are superior to everyone else, but people in the Middle East aren't stupid. They see what at least 51% of the people in this country see. And that is that this war is unjust.

So in essence, frat boy, and his useless war,is creating more terrorist not less. How many of the 45,000 Iraqis that have been killed as a result of this war blame frat boy? I am going to guess quite a few. See Jay, those are terrorist in the making. And one day, they will be back to blow up your children and mine.

I love your pretzel logic to justify this war, but most reasonable people are starting to see that this war is wrong. In one sentence you declare that "..no nation is an Island of itself..",but in the next sentence you say,-and I am paraphrasing here- and if it means we go alone screw them. The scary thing is,that at least 40% of Americans agree with you. Although I suppose that's not so surprising given the echo chamber that most people on the right choose to live their lives in.

BTW, it's been five years since 911. One thing people who follow Al Qaeda has proven, is that they are very patient. So frat boy shouldn't gloat about stopping attacks in our country-lord knows they have been attacking everywhere else-. Bottom line, this war was a disaster, and history will prove that those of us who opposed this war was right.

"The invasion of Afghanistan was a given. The Taliban not only gave shelter, aid, and comfort to Al Qaeda, but they persisted in doing so after 9/11. They wanted concrete, irrefutable proof before they would turn them over to us – and under their legal system,"

Sadly, that's the only true thing you said. So again I ask you Jay; why are we in Iraq?

I am sorry Jay, that was me... (Below threshold)

I am sorry Jay, that was me your friend Field-Negro posting above ;)

I'll add fifthly and sixthl... (Below threshold)
NewEnglandDevil:

I'll add fifthly and sixthly to your list above:

5) because Saddam was a menace and required constant "supervision" to the tune of ~100,000 troops constantly watching him, taking him out clears our flank and in the long run (say, three-four years down the road) allows us to redeploy with full strategic flexibility. Taking Saddam out "honors the threat".

6) And just as the strong US presence in Iraq is a constant reminder of what we're willing to do, a non-presence in Iraq ad infinitum is a constant reminder to those same people of what we're not willing to do.

NED

I absolutely cannot abide b... (Below threshold)
Nilan:

I absolutely cannot abide by the opinions here.

What is this "war on terror"? Is it a war on Al-Qaida, a war on terrorists, or a war on Islamic extremism? PICK ONE, already. If it's against Al-Qaida only, why go after Saddam? Saddam was not an Islamic extremist. He was not a terrorist. The terror groups he funded did not target America, but Israel, and Iraq was hardly the only nation to support them in the regard he did: if you looked into the issue, you'd no doubt find Hamas and Hezbollah not just supported in Iraq, Syria and Iran but Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Egypt and Libya, not to mention by strong sectors of the population in Turkey and Jordan.

The War on terror is being used as an excuse to persue foreign policy goals that are dictated more by where the world stood at the end of the Cold War than the needs of any new war.

Also, the notion of "fight them over here rather than over here" SOUNDS all nice and safe, but makes no sense. First of all, what does that mean? That you're, say, using the Iraqi people as BAIT? Wow, feel the humanity. Secondly, by going to fight them over there, aren't you just making more of them? Kill one terrorist by sending soldiers to the Middle East, two to three take his place. The only way that ends is if you're willing to kill all Muslims everywhere. It makes NO sense as a strategy. It's hard enough to rebuild nations when you're seen as an outsider. It's absolutely impossible when you're already seen as the main ally to the greatest enemy of those people (Israel) for at least 20 years before you even set foot in the country. What, did you think the Iraqis were somehow different from most Muslims in that respect? Did you think they'd just all of a sudden forget that? Why did you think Bush's father, the much wiser George Herbert Walker Bush (wiser than Clinton as well, but wiser than his son by miles and miles) chose not to invade? He knew all this was going to happen if he did and that it made no sense.

For you Robert:<a ... (Below threshold)
azredneck:
Thanks azredneck.B... (Below threshold)
Robert:

Thanks azredneck.

But I already knew Clinton was a terrible President (roaming wiretaps? please).
Plus he got a blowjob from an adult!!!

Lucky for him he was proceeded by GW.
Wow. Talk about your legacy getting a break.
Imagine: You're a terrible President, and then the guy right after you has the opposite of the midas touch.
Everything he touches turns to shit.
The ridiculous thing about it is, GW's track record showed he would be President Trainwreck.

Ahh well.
Nice break for that closet Republican, Clinton.

When do you want to deconstruct Reagan?

Well I see that old astigaf... (Below threshold)
jhow66:

Well I see that old astigafa can't handle it when someone can see right thru his BS. Tsk Tsk Won't sleep a wink tonight. Now if they had something new to add the topic we might have something to discuss but it is always "Bush lied-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- on and on and on------"

Yeah thanks assredneck! For... (Below threshold)

Yeah thanks assredneck! For a few minutes there I was having a great time reminiscing about the good old days when our government actually worked. And we weren't losing a young American life a day in Bushdad for politicl expediency.

Oh for those BJ days again with the fat intern.

He didn't lie. He didn't ha... (Below threshold)
Nilan:

He didn't lie. He didn't have to. All kinds of crummy leaders don't have to lie (and he is one CRUMMY leader).

He just a fool. It's as simple and as profound as that. Not evil, not racist, not even stupid. Just a fool. Like many people (many here, even) he's been sold on the thoughtless school of macho action. The kind people say "It would've saved uz from teh Nazis!" (which isn't really true) and forget it was the same thing that started WWI and started the path that ended with the Nazis to begin with.

Lets see, what is it you ca... (Below threshold)
epador:

Lets see, what is it you catch more of with honey than with vinegar?

Was Saddam in breech of ... (Below threshold)
MikeSC:

Was Saddam in breech of U.N. Resolutions, in March 2003, when the invasion began?

Yes. Very much so.

After all, the UN Weapons Inspectors had returned the previous fall.

Them being tossed out alone was justifiable for a war.

In any case, it is not up to a few member states of the UN to alone determine what the consequences of any alleged breech of UN Resolutions should be.

Nope. He violated the ceasefire. If ANY of the countries he signed a ceasefire with have a problem, there is a legal right to attack.

It is up to the UN Security Council itself. And Bush and Blair never let the Security Council vote on whether these consequences entailed "pre-emptive" war, for they knew they would lose! (Russia and France voting "no!" and possibly China too)

The power of bribery is great, ain't it?

America as Bush admitted recently didn't want to be cut out of the second largest oil reserve country in the world.

Which makes our decision to boycott it baffling, huh? We could've gotten the oil for virtually nothing if we wished.

So in essence, frat boy, and his useless war,is creating more terrorist not less. How many of the 45,000 Iraqis that have been killed as a result of this war blame frat boy? I am going to guess quite a few. See Jay, those are terrorist in the making. And one day, they will be back to blow up your children and mine.

Using that logic, the Civil War was a bad idea.

World WAr II was a bad idea.

After all, if you kill enemies, you only spawn more, right?

Right?

I love when people who seem to think diplomacy works in all situations try to come up with "clever" analogies to explain it.
-=Mike

*Them (weapons inspectors) ... (Below threshold)
Nilan:

*Them (weapons inspectors) being tossed out alone was justifiable for a war.*

This is actually a misconception. They were not thrown out, they chose to leave.


*Nope. He violated the ceasefire. If ANY of the countries he signed a ceasefire with have a problem, there is a legal right to attack.*

Uh, why? Just because you say so? That's absolutely FALSE! Where does international law say anything like that? What, are UN treaties like some free-form Rorshach ink-blots or something? "Oh, well, it looks like a violation to me so I can invade without any oversight to my actions." Gee, maybe I think South Africa hasn't gotten rid of Apartheid 'enough' -- guess I can invade whenever I like! UN treaties are not there for the administering countries to abuse. Only the UN has the power to give explicit authority to enforce them. If any single country had the sort of authority you refer to it would have been Kuwait, which didn't excatly insist on the 2003 invasion taking place.


*The power of bribery is great, ain't it?*

Oh, what a CRAP argument. You seriously think a THIRD WORLD COUNTRY has a greater pull than the United States because it can shell out a few bucks? The US can shell out heaps of money! The UN is headquartered in New York! Nobody sane is going to protect Iraq before addressing the concerns of the world's lone superpower because they can get some cash under the table -- that's career suicide! If they want to be bribed, why don't they just get thier money from a country the US hasn't targeted, like some African or South American country? This is just a rediculous argument. "They wuz bribed, theyz like teh sneaky car salesmen!" Yeah, right. The UN's all corrput but the Bush administration just HAPPENS to be cleaner.


*Using that logic, the Civil War was a bad idea.

World WAr II was a bad idea.

After all, if you kill enemies, you only spawn more, right?

Right?*

Yeah, and by that logic WWI was a bad idea --

Oh wait, that war WAS a bad idea, and created more German enemies. Nice of you to pick and choose your battles, but it was the PEACE after the war that decided how these conflicts were ended. It was tenuous for a long time on how the south re-integrated back into the US, and the real reasons the Germans ceased to be a problem was because of the two facts that they were scared as hell of the Soviets (considering they had just butchered so many of them), and the fact that unlike in Iraq if you were a member of the Nazi party the allies would not prosecute you -- they were only interested in prosecuting the top leadership. Most "Nazis" were able to simply walk away.

And it HAD to be that way otherwise there would have been no reconciliation and the entire country would have ceased to function with reams of people under arrest.

You deride analogies but your own match up just as badly. WWII was like WWII. The Civil war was like the Civil War. None of them bear any resemblance to Iraq. Vietnam bears far more resemblance to it than any of these conflicts. I'm tired of this little war being compared to the conflict that changed the lives of hundreds of millions and shaped the modern world. It's totally absurd.

Nilan:Saddam signe... (Below threshold)

Nilan:

Saddam signed his surrender with US. When he violated his agreement (note: "WHEN," not "IF"), it was our right to deal with that as we see fit. We had no obligation to take it to any sort of authority for mediation or determination; it was solely our right and duty to address it.

As far as World War I was, yeah, it probably was a mistake. But the "created more German enemies" was not the fault of the war, but the peace. More specifically, it was the punitive, crushing terms of the Treaty of Versailles that led to the rise of the Nazis. If you look at the end of World War II by comparison (which was far more punishing for Germany than the first World War), it didn't "create new enemies" because the peace was handled better.

Yes, the US has more money available for bribery, but we have a bit of a handicap: laws against it, and a tendency to actually enforce those laws. We do it with a wink and a nod (often called "foreign aid," but we tend not to engage in such clear, sub rosa quid pro quo arrangements, we are at a disadvantage.

But more to the point, are you advocating bribery as a foreign policy? A new "Golden Rule" -- them with the gold makes the rules? Should the side with the bigger checkbook and freer bribing hand prevail? 'Cuz that sounds like what you're endorsing there...

J.

*Saddam signed his surrende... (Below threshold)
Nilan:

*Saddam signed his surrender with US. When he violated his agreement (note: "WHEN," not "IF"), it was our right to deal with that as we see fit. We had no obligation to take it to any sort of authority for mediation or determination; it was solely our right and duty to address it.*

If the US is the arbiter of who judges when the treaty has been violated, why did they even bother with the UN at all? That's a total lie. It was NOT the US's right. What, because it ponies up the forces? International law is not the US being that Dad saying "if you live under my roof you abide by my rules". The US was not at threat by Saddam in 1991, it played the role of enforcing the will of Kuwait, the UN and the international community. There is no basis for any of the legal arguments you make. The treaty was NOT signed by the US, it was signed by Americans acting under UN authority. Therefore it was a treaty with the UN, not with the US. Period. Do not pass go. Do not collect 200 dollars.

Let's suppose the other argument is correct -- which it isn't -- and that the UN and Kuwait are somehow corrupt, being paid off by debilitated Iraq to the degree that they somehow have more influence than the United States (which is absurd). Well then they're the ones that pay the price, aren't they? It certainly isn't paid by the US. All the US ever has to do is pack up everything and go home, and that will be the end of thier stake in the matter. It's the UN's credibility that takes the hit in such a scenario, not America's. If America made a promise to protect the people of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia and those countries are saying "don't invade Iraq", then that completely absolves the US of its obligations.

But to invade without the approval of the UN and these countries? To undertake it without thier request? That is nothing more than using thier regional problems to your own ends. They're the ones who have the problems with Saddam and you do these things supposedly on thier behalf... but suddenly YOU own the problem? That's bull. If you're there on behalf of other nations be there on behalf of other nations. Don't go there in 1991 saying "we're here to defend kuwait" and then turn around years later and say "whether they like it or not".


*As far as World War I was, yeah, it probably was a mistake. But the "created more German enemies" was not the fault of the war, but the peace. More specifically, it was the punitive, crushing terms of the Treaty of Versailles that led to the rise of the Nazis. If you look at the end of World War II by comparison (which was far more punishing for Germany than the first World War), it didn't "create new enemies" because the peace was handled better.*

Sure -- and the peace with Iraq was handled MUCH better than the peace of Versailles. Becuase while neither peace could dictate who remained in control of the agressor nation (becuase they were not unconditional surrenders), Versailles was powerless to stop the Germans from regaining power because the power dispairity was so close. Gemany had more population and more resources than its most vitriolic and ardent foe, France. The only thing keeping Germany tied to Versailles was German decisions to abide by the treaty. This was not the case in Iraq. Iraq could continue indefinately under sanctions, which is precisely what worked in the US's favor. Yes, many Iraqis would die but invasion saved no lives (45,000 dead Iraqis, right -- believe that and I've got a bridge company to sell you -- it's much closer to 100,000-150,000. At minimum 80,000 have died and the 45,000 number only comes from IBC, who take thier tallies from the media who do not record deaths for the purpose of statistics), and if sanctions had been lifted it might have only meant Iraq might have continued where it had left off. Dont you see -- Iraq could never be allowed to meet the WMD stipulations of the treaty because if they ever did, the jig was up! Imagine if Saddam had given a full accounting... and he gave a 95% accouting with the remaining weapons mostly haveing a shelf-life that made them probably useless anyway... but if Saddam makes a full 100% accounting of every trace of WMDS, it's all over! The sanctions have to be lifted! And then Saddam can rebuild his army and start buying WMDs all over again -- because there's nothing in the treaty about Saddam never buying new WMDs after he's made a full acounting and destroyed the ones he has. Plus now the American troops have to recourse to stay if the Saudis tell them to leave.

It's not just Saddam who kept everything going for 12 years, it was the US itself! How could it not be? It was the only way, and the right way, for them to keep everything in check. If the treaty was ever met Saddam was set free with no legal recourse to stop him getting to where he was before. If Saddam was ever invaded Iran was automatically strengthened. The reason the sanctions continued for so long was because it benefitted everyone except Iraq and Iran. The US suffered increased terrorism, but that was all eminating from Pakistan and certain extremist Saudis who could have been dealt with much more effectively than invading IRaq.

*Yes, the US has more money available for bribery, but we have a bit of a handicap: laws against it, and a tendency to actually enforce those laws. We do it with a wink and a nod (often called "foreign aid," but we tend not to engage in such clear, sub rosa quid pro quo arrangements, we are at a disadvantage.*

The US has a trumping argument over all of this. It has the bombs. It has the military. That will always trump any cash from any third world country, first of all. Second of all, Iraq only has such a bribary advantage in the UN by your own statement if the UN officials -- all of them university grads at the least -- are stupid enough not to understand a wink and a nod from a US official! Oh, Saddam's giving you cash from his oil? My, how can we possibly counter that? Oh wait, what if I slip you this piece of paper to a Swiss account with five TIMES the money Saddam ever offered you? If anyone asks, I don't know how you got that information.

Yeah, there are US laws against bribary. As well there should be. That doesn't mean the US is ever seriously going to be impeded by them if that's what's going to need to happen. Not becuase the US is inherently evil or anything -- but becuase bribery laws are incredibly hard to enforce.

*But more to the point, are you advocating bribery as a foreign policy? A new "Golden Rule" -- them with the gold makes the rules? Should the side with the bigger checkbook and freer bribing hand prevail? 'Cuz that sounds like what you're endorsing there...*

I'm not endorsing bribery, I'm saying that you need to do what you need to do. Them with the gold does NOT make the rules -- but to quote an otherwise pedestrian Hollywood movie "sometimes you do what you want to do, the rest of the time, you do what you have to".

If Iraq is bribing, and that's the only thing the UN is listening to, then you make a note of it, put it in the memos and make sure its well known that's the situation you're facing and do what has to be done under the table. Becuase you don't really have a choice, do you?

The main terrorist group ba... (Below threshold)
R:

The main terrorist group backed by Saddam was the MEK, supported also by the United States Congress. I suppose that the Congress too must be bombed in order to show disagreement with terrorism.

The real reason Saddam had to be overthrown. Part one, something he said on April 1 1990: "If they attack us, fire will eat half of Israel", and as we all know, "He who blesses Them shall be blessed and he who curses Them shall be cursed".

Part two: SCUD missiles land in Tel Aviv and Haifa. Now he has offended God that much more. Now he is beyond saving. God's will must be done and as he Curses he who curses Them so the US must do the Lord's work and curse he.

Remember that 911 was ordered by God to punish the US for insufficient devotion to Israel, as Senator Inhofe so helpfully told us. Thus, it became necessary to get back in God's good favour to destroy an enemy of Holy Israel. Amen.

Saddam signed his surren... (Below threshold)
R:

Saddam signed his surrender with US. When he violated his agreement (note: "WHEN," not "IF"), it was our right to deal with that as we see fit. We had no obligation to take it to any sort of authority for mediation or determination; it was solely our right and duty...

That is the worst nonsense I have ever heard. The sole legal basis of any action against Iraq was the UN Charter, which allowed the Security Council, though it is also a rogue organisation, to presecribe remedies in the event of international law violations and threats to international peace and security.

The so-called surrender was not agreed to by Saddam. It was a Security Council resolution that called for specific remedies for specific problems. Just as the resolution under which the attack on Iraq was executed also was for one specific end, and that was the end of the occupation of Kuwait, and nothing else.

Never was the US given carte blanche to run Iraq or to attack it at will. In fact, Security Council resolutions said otherwise, as the sovereignty and territorial integrity and political independence of Iraq was always re-affirmed.

It is true that a ceasefire was signed and this was mostly a matter of how to deal with the post-war, how to get American troops out, etc. I don't know if Saddam ever committed himself in writing to the things that were ordered through the Security Council resolution, specifically to respect Israel's regional WMD monopoly (the main reason for the war), but such agreements never did give the US the right to own Iraq. If you sign a contract with someone, they don't have the right to kill you if you don't follow the agreement. Particularly when there's a law on the books against murder.




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