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An Inconvenient Truth: Bill Clinton Was Right

For a lot of people, the "Y2K" bug turned out to be much ado about nothing. Despite the dire warnings of catastrophes and disasters and mayhem when the calendar moved from 1999 to 2000, not a heck of a lot happened.

But I think I've discovered one lasting effect from that time.

While the wholesale rewriting of computers' memory might have been avoided, it seems to have struck a lot of people's memory.

Every single time the debate over whether or not the invasion of Iraq was appropriate, whole chunks of actual, real history seem to vanish, to be replaced with fantasies and false memories and outright lies.

Inconvenient Truth #1: in 1998, it was declared that the official policy of the United States government -- as overwhelmingly passed by Congress and signed by President Bill Clinton -- to seek "regime change" in Iraq. That's a fancy euphemism for "get rid of Saddam and his cronies."

Inconvenient Truth #2: By 2003, Saddam had spent over a decade perfecting his "cheat and retreat" game with regards to UN weapons inspections. He would pick a fight with the inspectors, fight it tooth and nail right up to the limit, then "back down" a little, winning concessions and conditions from the allied nations.

Inconvenient Truth #3: The sanctions against Iraq, which so many people now say were working and kept Saddam contained, were under bitter attack by many of those same people for years. We had reports of how many thousands of Iraqi children were dying each month from the brutal, cruel, oppressive, crushing sanctions, and we were told how we should end them and find "other ways" to bring Saddam to heel.

(I can't help but contrast this with the calls for sanctions on South Africa during its apartheid days, which I opposed at the time, citing many of the same arguments. But I was wrong about that -- the sanctions against South Africa did work, and it is now a free nation. I blame my youth and naivete at the time. What's the excuse for those who now desperately try to erase their arguments on Iraqi sanctions?)

Inconvenient Truth #4: The "international community's" resolve on Iraq was weakening day by day. Saddam's perversion of the humanitarian-inspired Oil For Food program was well documented, as he turned it into his personal cash cow. Some of the money he lavished on himself and his supporters; some went into well-placed bribes of people who had considerable influence over the program itself, as well as key members of the United Nations Security Council. Moneys intended for the Iraqi people found its way into the pockets of key individuals and organizations within the UN, Russia, Germany, France, the UK, and the United States.

Inconvenient Truth #5: Despite its wholesale surrender at the end of the first Gulf War, Iraq continued to commit acts of war and aggression. It fired on US planes flying over the UN-sanctioned No-Fly Zones. It tried to assassinate former President Bush in revenge. It refused to account for Kuwaitis who were "disappeared" during the invasion and occupation. And it continued to aid, abet, and sponsor terrorism around the world -- most flagrantly by paying the families of suicide bombers who struck at Israel.

Inconvenient Truth #6: It never fully complied with the provisions of the 1991 surrender regarding weapons of mass destruction. Under those terms, Iraq agreed to provide a full accounting of all its WMDs, WMD material, WMD research, and WMD equipment, then destroy them all in fully-verifiable ways. Instead, Iraq lied, cheated, evaded, concealed, blustered, and did everything it could to keep some weapons, equipment, and other materials so it could reconstruct its arsenal after the sanctions were lifted.

I've repeated this metaphor many, many times, but I'm going to bring it up yet again because it holds so true: Iraq was like a convicted criminal on probation. One of the conditions of that probation was that it remain "clean" of WMDs, and regularly submit proof of its innocence. There was no presumption of innocence. Iraq had already been found guilty, and it was obligated to continue to prove its ongoing innocence for the duration of its probation. And Iraq did pretty much everything it could to get out of that obligation.

No, we haven't found massive stockpiles of WMDs in Iraq. That is utterly irrelevant. We found quite a few WMDs that Iraq failed to properly account for (largely poison gas shells, in various states of senescence -- but still lethal), but that, again, is irrelevant. The onus was on Iraq to account for these weapons, and it did not do so. Period. End of discussion.

("But officer, that's old weed! I forgot it was there! I stashed it under the couch years ago!" "Sorry, pal, it's still your pot, in your house. You're going back in the clink.")

The fact is simple: by 2001, Iraq had repeatedly, deliberately, willingly violated many of the terms of his 1991 surrender, and was on the verge of getting away with it as the sanctions were under severe attack. The whole situation was put on hold with the 9/11 attacks, as suddenly the United States (and the rest of the world) found itself with far more pressing concerns, but their efforts continued largely unchecked.

The sanctions, the attempts at containment, were crumbling under Iraq's determined efforts to undermine them. The crisis point was rapidly approaching, when the pressure to remove them, to certify that Iraq had fully complied with the terms of its 1991 surrender and was ready to move towards rejoining the community of nations (when in reality it had done no such thing) would become overwhelming. The choice was simple: act now, or let Iraq's bribery, bluster, and outright bullying triumph.

At the time, I thought that removing Saddam and his cronies was the right choice -- indeed, the only choice. For all of the above reasons, as well as a host more, that I've spelled out on numerous occasions. And, to this day, I still believe so.

Maybe I shouldn't have taken that Y2K fix that let me remember just what things were like vis-a-vis Iraq from 1991 to 2003. Perhaps I should have simply subsumed my own recollections to the collective revisionism of the anti-war crowd, who so fervently wish to recast events to their own satisfaction. It'd make life a hell of a lot simpler.


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Comments (65)

As Tongsen Park, Saddam's b... (Below threshold)
Robert the original:

As Tongsen Park, Saddam's bag man, was sentenced last week, Claudia Rosett noted that 2.5 million given him by Iraq was unaccounted for. (Someone got bags of money, we don't know who).

We do know that France, Russia, and Canada were bribed to oppose anything against Iraq. In the case of Russia and France many billions were at stake in future oil contracts.

Sanctions were completely evaded through oil-for-food - Saddam could get what he wanted - the UNSC was toothless and bribed.

Anyone who thinks Iraq was "contained" is nuts.

Oh but Jay -- Bush lied and... (Below threshold)

Oh but Jay -- Bush lied and people died.
Cue the vitriol....

Inconvenient Truth #7: Bush... (Below threshold)
Hugh:

Inconvenient Truth #7: Bush and Company have lied to us and deceived us from the beginning and continue to do so on an almost daily basis.

Inconvenient Truth #8: We're fighting the wrong war in the wrong place as the Taliban regenerates, rearms, rests and prepares to wreak havoc once against in Afghanistan.

Inconvenient Truth #9. OBL continues to guide and direct the real terrorists and has been conveniently forgotten by the war cabal in the White House.

Dont forget more soldiers h... (Below threshold)
Gianni:

Dont forget more soldiers have died under Klinton in 'peacetime, than under W.

Lets not forget he still ha... (Below threshold)
marc:

Lets not forget he still had al-shmoud misles that far exceeded U.N. restrictions. (term "restrictions" used VERY loosely).

Hans Blix states in his book "Disarming Iraq" aid quoteds on page 112 of the Butler report says, "My gut feelings, which I kept to myself, suggested to me that Iraq still engaged in prohibited activities and retained prohibited items, and that it had the documents to prove it."

Gee, wonder why he never told the UN about his concerns?

Hugh:nconvenie... (Below threshold)
marc:

Hugh:

nconvenient Truth #8: We're fighting the wrong war in the wrong place as the Taliban regenerates, rearms, rests and prepares to wreak havoc once against in Afghanistan.

Inconvenient Truth #9. OBL continues to guide and direct the real terrorists and has been conveniently forgotten by the war cabal in the White House.
Posted by: Hugh at February 26, 2007 06:52 AM

OK, I'll bite.

Just when will Rep[rehensible] Murtha and his ilk recommend pulling all troops out of Iraq and redeploy them to Afghanistan (vice Okinawa) track down OBL (as if that will magically stop the jihadist-cut-throat) and string him up from the nearest tree.

Oh wait, the ACLU will file suit, we better arraign him before the 9th circuit court. That will ensure he gets a speedy get out of jail free card.

<a href="http://terryfrank.... (Below threshold)
GotcherTruth:
Gee, Hugh, thanks for confi... (Below threshold)

Gee, Hugh, thanks for confirming my point that for some people, history began the day George W. Bush became president. Everything prior to that is irrelevant, it seems.

J.

It's 5+ years now Jay for g... (Below threshold)
Hugh:

It's 5+ years now Jay for god's sake. It's a freaking mess and it isn't getting better and the right's hero cowboy president has completely f***** it up. At some point in time you war warriors (god frobid we should label you a republican so this will have to do) have to start holding this cabal responsible. Oh I forgot, you folks only want to hold Bill Clinton responsible.

Jay, the left will never ag... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

Jay, the left will never agree with your points, truth and all. Their hatred for GW and the military is greater then their ability to reason. Hugh is a great example. Great post. ww

Hugh,The difference ... (Below threshold)
DaveD:

Hugh,
The difference is that people hold Clinton accountable for doing nothing. People hold Bush accountable for doing something. Even if you don't like the way Bush has handled things, there is still a better chance that a problem can be resolved if somebody is doing something. Please review Lorie's post below on "The Day in the Life of a Leftist".

Funny, Hugh, I thought the ... (Below threshold)

Funny, Hugh, I thought the point I was making was that Bill Clinton was RIGHT on Iraq -- at least as far as his words and some of his deeds. I'm not blaming him for it in the least.

You are also fixated on a point I'm not arguing here. You're saying you don't like HOW it's been done. I'm talking WHETHER it should have been done.

Or are you just trying to pull your standard schtick of changing the subject?

J.

I still think several well ... (Below threshold)
Allen:

I still think several well placed bullets could have done the same job as invasion did.

The extreme lefties will never acknowledge what happen before the shrub became president. Same as to the extreme righties, they would rather blame Clinton as that is easier than thinking.

Fact remains we are in a war that is unlike any type of warfare most people have seen before. I don't like the way this administration has gone about fighting it, but the fact remains, we have a President who is fighting it. Not someone who would kiss the terrorists ass.

Granted 63% of Americans want our troops home from Iraq, and I am one of the 63%. However, we need to win this war, we just need better leadership on how to do so.

This so called surge, why in the hell didn't they surge at the beginning? As every military leader will tell you, you go with over whelming power, kick ass, and leave. After that the dipo's can sit down and do their job. But our poor leadership does not understand that not only Iraq but the majority of the middle east is tribes, they have been fighting amongst them selves for many years. And they will still be fighting amongst themselves after we leave.

Overwhelming power, you me... (Below threshold)
Gianni:

Overwhelming power, you mean like in Mogadishu? Oops, the only thing overwhelming there was the cut n run strategy.

Gianni,I mean the ... (Below threshold)
Allen:

Gianni,

I mean the 500 to 600K troops Shinski (sp) who at the time was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, said what was needed for the job.

Well, for speaking up against the poor leadership, he was cast aside. The other generals then shut up and did what they were told to do.

If you read my post again, where did I say about cutting and running? I said we need to win this war, and the lousey leadership we now have is unable to do it.

And as I stated, we don't need a president who is going to kiss the terrorist ass either. From your comments it sounds like your still blaming Clinton instead of thinking.

And as all good righties really support the troops, the military need people between the ages of 18 to 42. What is stopping you from further supporting the troops?

Why didn't our present leadership think about the wounded vets that would be returning home, and make sure the support for them would be up and running? Oh I know, blame Clinton for that also, right!

People keep harping we shou... (Below threshold)
Scrapiron:

People keep harping we should have put 5-600,000 troops in Iraq. You forget that Peeeloshi's drain the swamp tactic has been used with success except it was Slick who used it to drain the military. Over 40% reduction which put America in great danger. We didn't and don't have that many troops to hit the battle field. Slicks drain the military worked to the advantage of every country in the world except the U.S. Peeeloshi's drain the swamp is working backwards, she's filling the swamp with known criminals in high places.

I still have the picture of... (Below threshold)
bill:

I still have the picture of Hans Blix sitting at the UN trying to squirm out of why his report said Saddam still had all those unaccounted for chemicals. You don't hear much about Hans Blix talking about Iraq's nukes and how those programs were coming right along.

So I assume Hans Blix lied, he was at the center of the whole truth. And everybody knows the UN wouldn't lie, would they?

The point is obviously ABOV... (Below threshold)
Gianni:

The point is obviously ABOVE your capabilities. Even when cons try to give Klinton credit, libnuts will disagree.

BTW, do you think there was overwhelming force in Mogadishu in 10-93? How many libs spoke out against that the summer fall fiasco in 93, when more equipment, etc was requested? NONE! See, its easy to Monday morning QB, and thats ALL the libs have, well, besides the cut n run strategy.

Still waiting for some great libs ideas. Bush sucks is not just your primary idea, seems to me it is the only one. 50+ days in office, and all we have is more BS in congress, Dems being more corrupt or vile than anything GOP lately, while many of them seem more interested in campaigning, then doing what they are paid to do.

This so called su... (Below threshold)
_Mike_:
This so called surge, why in the hell didn't they surge at the beginning? As every military leader will tell you, you go with over whelming power, kick ass, and leave. After that the dipo's can sit down and do their job. But our poor leadership does not understand that not only Iraq but the majority of the middle east is tribes, they have been fighting amongst them selves for many years. And they will still be fighting amongst themselves after we leave.

I agree to get control of a situation.. the force required grows with time - come early and come strong. Don't allow the enemy any hope of winning and you reduce their numbers quickly.

OT:
Congress confirmed General Petraeus. The General believes that a troop surge is required to get the situation in Baghdad under control. He's also stated that he believes that we should know whether or not the surge is going to work by the end of summer. (Note knowing whether it is going to work is not the same is having everything done - it's a direction not a destination).

If you were unhappy prior to the election with the conduct of the war, fine. There's a new General running the show and he's given you a rough point a few months out where we can re-evaluate the progress. Just give the new man and his new plan the few months he's requested.

Inconvenient Truth-Revisite... (Below threshold)
BarneyG2000:

Inconvenient Truth-Revisited, The brilliant Clinton operation "Desert Fox" effectively removed Saddam as a treat as of 1999.

When you get to blaming Bil... (Below threshold)
Blue Neponset:

When you get to blaming Bill Clinton for disbanding the Iraqi Army, wholesale de-baathification, and not committing enough troops to securing the country then wake me up because those things actually have something to do with what is going on in Iraq today.

It never ceases to amaze me how far Bush apologists will go to absolve him of any blame for the awful situation in Iraq.

another inconvienent Truth:... (Below threshold)
jp:

another inconvienent Truth:

http://www.cnn.com/WORLD/meast/9902/13/afghan.binladen/

Saddam Hussein offered asylum

Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has offered asylum to bin Laden, who openly supports Iraq against the Western powers.

Despite repeated demands from Washington, the Taliban refused to hand over bin Laden after the August 7 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, demanding proof of his involvement in terrorist activities.

Jay:Another way ... (Below threshold)
Hugh:

Jay:

Another way to put this:the point is you have no point unless this is just a history lesson. You can choose to live in the past all you want. It's the present that the cowboy president has f***** up more than is even imaginable. Since you war warriors have nothing but a disaster to defend you change the subject Jay. Why don't you folks get just a tad honest and talk about today's mess?

Another way to put this:... (Below threshold)
John Irving:

Another way to put this:the point is you have no point unless this is just a history lesson.

Unintended truth, I'm sure.

Shinseki, who came to his p... (Below threshold)
Robert the original:

Shinseki, who came to his position under Clinton, clashed with Rumsfeld over several things including a new expensive artillery system Rumsfeld cancelled.

Rumsfeld thought Shinseki to be an old army officer not in line with his plans to greatly reform the military to fight the coming wars, not the past wars.

Much later, Shinseki made his estimate to Senator Levin of "several hundred thousand troops" needed in Iraq. Talking about a number of 200,000, Abizaid later said that Shinseki had been right.

The number of 600,000 was taken from an early staff report about an existing strategy that was abandoned as impossible as Scrapiron points out. I'm sure this was in some way a holdover from the 1991 war, as was Powell and Shinseki.

In 1991 we had the troops, of course, and Powell also had Japan and the Saudi's to pay for it. This was an easy decision at the time.

We have to say that Shinseki was right about 200,000 needed in Iraq but wrong about the artillery. Sometimes we should listen to those old army officers and sometimes we can't.

Be that as it may, reform was and is greatly needed in the military - a large organization that has always been resistant to change. Artillery is not used much any more.

The change Rumsfeld made to fly sailors in and out to carriers - rather than sail home - almost doubled the "time on station" for those vary expensive groups and greatly increased our effective force at less cost.

But the gap between Shinseki's estimate and the force that went was not nearly as large as some would have us believe.

Had we gone in through Turkey, the total number of troops would have been about two thirds of Shinseki's estimate, from the start.

Personally, I doubt Clinton... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

Personally, I doubt Clinton would have gone to war with Saddam in 2003. It would have been more of tooing and froing, brinkmanship tactics s and an additional UN resolution, As Saddam knew he didn't have any WMD, he would have ultimately backed down using one of the back channels that Bush/Cheney would have none of..The difference is that even though Clinton supported Bush on the invasion, he really didn't want to go to war.. Bush/ Cheney did..

Barney:In... (Below threshold)
Heralder:

Barney:

Inconvenient Truth-Revisited, The brilliant Clinton operation "Desert Fox" effectively removed Saddam as a treat as of 1999.

The Pentagon says:

To strike military and security targets in Iraq that contribute to Iraq's ability to produce, store, maintain and deliver weapons of mass destruction.

What weapons of mass destruction? I thought Bush lied about this? Right?

Madeline Albright:

The weapons of mass destruction are the threat of the future. I think the president explained very clearly to the American people that this is the threat of the 21st century.

I'm confused.

I remember us all questioning the timing of this event...you know, when impeachment hearings began against Clinton.

Nonetheless, it did go well, except:

Apart from apparently degrading Iraq's missile programs, the air attacks did little to affect Baghdad's other WMD programs. For example, General Zinni remarked after the operation concluded that the ease with which chemical and biological agents could be manufactured, particularly for use by terrorists, made bombing dual-use facilities a waste of time. Degrading such a capability was virtually impossible, according to General Zinni, if "they're that easy to . . . establish."
Yet when DESERT FOX ended a mere 70 hours after it began, Saddam remained firmly in power--minus some of his infrastructure--and the Iraqi dictator could claim to his people and to the world that once again, he had withstood an onslaught from the most powerful form of America's and the West's armed might--airpower. The status of Iraq's WMD programs would remain a mystery and these programs were now beyond the scrutiny of the UN. Moreover, DESERT FOX lacked clear political goals, an omission for which no amount of firepower could compensate. Despite the militarily effective, if brief, application of airpower, Saddam Hussein not only survived, he succeeded in ending UN inspections and retained both the intent and capability to restart his WMD programs once sanctions either collapsed or were lifted. Only the fall of Baghdad in 2003 to coalition forces ended once and for all the threat from Saddam's murderous regime and his quest for weapons of mass destruction.

Most of my information on this inconvenient truth came from here.

So, what is Bush's excuse n... (Below threshold)
BarneyG2000:

So, what is Bush's excuse now? Why hasn't this administration finished the job in Afghanistan?


WASHINGTON, Feb. 25 -- President Bush has decided to send an unusually tough message to one of his most important allies, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, the president of Pakistan, warning him that the newly Democratic Congress could cut aid to his country unless his forces become far more aggressive in hunting down operatives with Al Qaeda, senior administration officials say.


Are you telling me that it took a change in power (the Dems) to force Bush to get tough on terrorism?

"Dont forget more soldie... (Below threshold)

"Dont forget more soldiers have died under Klinton in 'peacetime, than under W."

That's actually a convenient falsehood if you add up every active duty military that died under Clinton (any cause), the number is 7,500 (1,213 + 1,075 + 1,040 + 974 + 817 + 827 + 796 + 758). With Bush, just through 2005 it's 6,966 (891 + 999 + 1228 + 1897 + 1951). In 2006, only counting US military deaths in Iraq, the number is 821, so that's 7,787, and it probably undercounts total deaths by at least 1000 (all causes) for 2006. Clinton's tally for the comparable time period is 5,946.

Also, note the trends. Fewer soldiers died each year under Clinton with the exception of 1998. With Bush, it's just the opposite. More soldiers die every successive year.

Barney: "Why hasn't this ad... (Below threshold)

Barney: "Why hasn't this administration finished the job in Afghanistan?"

Make up your mind Barney. Be a hawk, be a dove. But your embarrassing yourself.

Joe,The decreasing... (Below threshold)
Sheik Yur Bouty:

Joe,

The decreasing death rate under Clinton can easily be explained by his consistent reduction in force size. Law of Averages and all that.

The point remains that Clinton's whole time in office was during 'peace time' and we've been at war for most of Bush's time in office.

It still puts Clinton in a pretty bad light and/or Bush in a pretty good light. Take your pick.

"Are you telling me that it... (Below threshold)
yo:

"Are you telling me that it took a change in power (the Dems) to force Bush to get tough on terrorism?"

Not really. It took a change in power to prove to the world that the democrats aren't tough on terrorism.


"So, what is Bush's excuse now? Why hasn't this administration finished the job in Afghanistan?"

Geesh. Dude, seriously. Your anal-rectal inversion on the reality of how things work is terribly apparent, here.

Why didn't FDR finish off the Germans in time for Xmas '44?

Heck, why didn't FDR take out Hirohito in 42? They attacked us, the Germans didn't, right? Who should we have focused on?

Why didn't LBJ finish off the No. Vietnamese?

Why didn't US Grant knock off the Rebs in 1863?

Why? Shit takes time. In your plastic-fantastic, fault Bush for everything, insta-solution world, do you not understand, or do you totally and completely ignore the fact that as history progresses, as the world becomes more complicated, we can't gauge current success on the the rate of success from the past?

When people say that Iraq/Afghanistan has lasted longer than WWII they completely ignore/overlook that fact that we don't have a specific nation-state to target. Were there an Al-Qaeda-stan, we more than likely would have had this over and done with by now. But that ain't the way it is. It's a different kind of warfare, here, champ.

Or, haven't you and your knuckledheaded idological compadre, Hugh, figured that out, yet?

But hey ... why dwell on reality when your delusions and petty go-nowhere arguments serve your point so much better, right?

We would not be in Iraq if ... (Below threshold)
Brew:

We would not be in Iraq if the inspectors were not thrown out. The darkness of four years without the eyes of UN weapons inspectors precipitated the use of force. Nothing was done by our administration to replace or to install new inspectors for four years! Four years to hide the weapons of mass destruction.
So on a last ditch effort inspectors return, stockpiles are missing or destroyed, and a report is made. We can say anything we want, but the darkness occurred because of a lack of strength, and force to put back the inspectors.

"... but the darkness occur... (Below threshold)
yo:

"... but the darkness occurred because of a lack of strength, and force to put back the inspectors"

Are you blaming the US for this, or the UN (who was the body employing the inspectors, as well as the body tasked with enforcing the sanctions which resulted from the '91 cease-fire)?

Hugh is a exhibit A of the ... (Below threshold)
Richard Romano:

Hugh is a exhibit A of the failure of our educational system--it's no longer the facts that matter, but pure emotionalism and outright obfuscation.

The facts are laid bare for him to clearly see--but he refuses to believe. Incredible--the kind of foolishness that leads the blind to lead the blinder.

Should we give a rat's arse if people like Hugh fall into a ditch? Imagine--the evil and cruel Saddam is given far more credit than the democratically elected President of the United States--amazing, sad, and pathetic.

Make-up my mind?I ... (Below threshold)
BarneyG2000:

Make-up my mind?

I have been very consistent, along with the majority of Democrats, the fight is and always has been in Afghanistan.

That is not the same with Bush. First it was "dead or alive". Then it was "I don't think about him that much". Now we have Gen. Shoemaker saying: I don't know if we will find him (OBL) and I don't know if it's that important".

Tell that to the 9/11 windows.

Now the only way to get the Prez off his ass is to threaten to cut off funding unless Pakistan gets serious.

Yo: Thanks ... (Below threshold)
Hugh:

Yo:

Thanks for the utterly irrelevant history lesson. You must be a Jay disciple.

It isn't about whether we should be at war; it's about whom. You war warriors can carry on all you want attempting to justify Bush's Folly but it doesn't hold water anymore. Rationalizing and attempting to justify the Iraq disaster doesn't change the facts.

The real enemy is and has always been in Afghanistan and Pakistan and while we divert resources to Bush's Folly they grow stronger in those two countries. That's the point - the one the war warriors don't like to talk about.

Hugh, for one, "war warrior... (Below threshold)
John Irving:

Hugh, for one, "war warrior" makes you sound fairly juvenile. Not sure if it's your pet phrase or you picked it up from elsewhere, but you're the only one I see using that particularly clumsy construction.

Also, you once again declare that you don't wish to know the history of the Iraqi war, and instead wish to place it squarely at the feet of Bush, tabula rasa. This shows a weakness in your arguments, as you are incapable of addressing the facts that Saddam was a declared enemy of the U.S. and had repeatedly violated terms of a cease-fire with us through a remainder of one four-year administration and all eight years of the following Presidency.

Hugh,now it's with... (Below threshold)
yo:

Hugh,

now it's with whom we should be at war?

The fact that you raise that as a point clearly demonstrates you haven't a clue as to the complexities of the (poorly named) GWOT.

It's not about a) Afghanistan, or b) Iraq ... or, looking forward, c) Iran.

It's cumulative. The left just refuses to acknowledge that fact.


I'll agree Pakistan is part of the problem, so is Saudi Arabia. But, we don't live in a foo-foo fairly land that affords us all of the options we'd like to have.

And, honestly, there is no such thing as an irrelevant history lesson. many would be well served if they actually looked at the history of the last 5, 10, 15, 50, 100 ..., years instead of simply the last 5.

B'google how many 9/11 "win... (Below threshold)
jhow66:

B'google how many 9/11 "windows" were there?

WHAT DID CLINTON AND GORE D... (Below threshold)
Mitchell:

WHAT DID CLINTON AND GORE DO ABOUT GLOBAL WARMING IN THEIR TERM OF OFFICE?

THEY KNEW THIS HAD BEEN GOING ON FOR DECADES.

It's not about a) Afghan... (Below threshold)
hansel2:

It's not about a) Afghanistan, or b) Iraq ... or, looking forward, c) Iran. It's cumulative. The left just refuses to acknowledge that fact.

I agree. This war is not purely about one country but about a movement. However, that kind of acknowledgement doesn't mean that this President is managing it properly - or for that matter going after the right people.

Big pictures are deceptive unless you understand what the details mean. This administration has spent the good part of 4 years trying to hide the details and emphasizing the large, black and white mantra.

And, simply, you can't declare war on the entire middle-east, whether you think it's right or not. Part of our power in this country is knowing how to play our cards - who to go after and who we can succeed at - and this president has shown his hand one too many times. He's charged in like a bull, mismanaged, created lost opportunities at every turn and, as a result, exposed our weaknesses.

No one's suggesting there's not a larger war here. All those on the other side of the argument are suggesting is that standing behind a hollow leader who's failed at every turn is not patriotism or strategic shrewdness - it's just simple-minded and unproductive.

All those on the other s... (Below threshold)
John Irving:

All those on the other side of the argument are suggesting is that standing behind a hollow leader who's failed at every turn

And that's the problem. No matter how much you insist on complete failure, it just ain't so. Bush has made a lot of mistakes, but the majority of them aren't ones his opposition would acknowledge as mistakes at all, whereas they utterly fail to recognize success where it occurs.

That this is aided somewhat by "if it bleeds it leads" media is no excuse, not for a political side that claims to favor "question authority," but instead chooses to blindly accept authoritaritive declarations from those on their particular side.

For failure to have occured "at every turn," many of the following would have had to have happened:
1) The Taliban remaining in control of Afghanistan, rather than reduced to a remnant fighting a lost cause.
2) Saddam would still be alive and in power in Iraq.
3) The effort to uproot Saddam would have been perfomed totally unilaterally, without the aid of numerous allies.
4) Iraqi elections would have been boycotted by a majority of the country, rather than the minority that did so.
5) al Qaeda would have launched and succeeded in another attack on the U.S. mainland.

That's just for starters. It exposes a willfull ignorance of the history of conflict to presume "failure at every turn," when the opposite is in effect. If you wonder why so many completely disregard your arguments no matter how much effort and volume you put into them, there you go. And yet, it moves.

"He's charged in like a bul... (Below threshold)
yo:

"He's charged in like a bull, mismanaged, created lost opportunities at every turn and, as a result, exposed our weaknesses."

Now, I'm not saying Bush has handled this, perfectly, however:

1 - Would a different policy have worked better/worse?

2 - Who is properly informed to make such claims of (in)effectiveness?

3 - How can anyone claim to KNOW what's right and what's wrong? Really? Honestly?

War sucks, sure. No one likes it, but, just because we, as Americans, should be above war doesn't mean that our enemies will do the same. And if our enemies want to go to war, what're we supposed to do? Talk to them? Return their vollys of suicide bombs with harshly worded memorandums? We've tried that. Guess what? Didn't work.

"...standing behind a hollow leader who's failed at every turn is not patriotism or strategic shrewdness"


That's your opinion, and that's all well and cool; but, I don't agree. And, my disagreement doesn't mean you're wrong. What matters is that a comprehensive argument be brought to the table.

That's where the anti-war folk fail, miserably. Hell, I'd appreciate RATIONAL arguments if comprehensive isn't available, but you're hard pressed to get even that.

I'd also appreciate some consideration that my opinions and beliefs don't make me a "chickenhawk" or some "war warrior" or some other such silliness.


The out of hand condemnation of the opinions of others, as well as the president (any president) during a time of war is not only ignorant and short-sighted, it's dangerous.

Just because you don't agree with it, and/or think Bush has fumbled along, and/or we're losing this war, or it's another Vietnam or whatever is said, doesn't necessarily make such claims true.

People need ot stop acting like it does.

John:Is the Taliba... (Below threshold)
Hugh:

John:

Is the Taliban you refer to as a "remnant" the same one CHeyney is concerned plans a Spring offensive? Is it the same one he just took a trip to Pakistan about?

http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2007-02-26-cheney-pakistan_x.htm?POE=NEWISVA

An inconvenient truth #7 Bi... (Below threshold)
914:

An inconvenient truth #7 Bill Clinton and Algore are and were every bit the lying cheating maninipulating money grubbers that Saddam and Kofi are/were!

Hugh, yes, and yet, still a... (Below threshold)
John Irving:

Hugh, yes, and yet, still a remnant.

John:You are indee... (Below threshold)
Hugh:

John:

You are indeed a true believer. Bush/Cheyney must be grateful for folks like you.

Even if we accept all this ... (Below threshold)

Even if we accept all this Jay, it doesn't change the fact that the invasion and occupation of Iraq have become a strategic disaster for the US. We've given Al Qaeda a sanctuary and base of operations in the heart of the Middle East in Anbar province. Volunteers from across the Arab world continue to pour into Iraq to receive jihadist training that they will ultimately make use of in their homelands.

We have opened the door for Iran to greatly expand its sphere of influence in the area. We have a pro-Iranian regime in Baghdad run by Shiites who are largely committed to the establishment of a repressive Islamic state in Iraq along the lines of Iran. For the first time, Iran has a Shiite-dominated Arab government (Iraq) as an ally in the region. The Sunni Arab gulf states and Saudi Arabia are terrified at the prospect of Iranian expansionism and rebellion among their Shiite populations.

Taking all these considerations into account, the prior situation isn't looking too bad anymore. Think of it this way: would you trade today's current situation to install a strong, secular, anti-Iranian regime in Baghdad that was capable of defending its borders? I think most of us would.

President Bush has decid... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

President Bush has decided to send an unusually tough message to one of his most important allies, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, the president of Pakistan, warning him that the newly Democratic Congress could cut aid to his country unless his forces become far more aggressive in hunting down operatives with Al Qaeda, senior administration officials say.

I wonder why Bush fels he has to´put pressure on Misharraf now...Could it be that the formerly pliant and convenient Republican Congress could be relied on not to put too much pressure on Bush and Musharrraf to hunt down Al Queda operatives?

That's just for starter... (Below threshold)
marc:

That's just for starters. Posted by: John Irving at

Lets not forget rolling up the A.Q. Kahn network and the about face Colonel Muammar Gaddafi performed when faced with thousands of U.S. troops so near his boarder. Suddenly he decided to take the "S. Africa option" by handing over all his WMD's

Maritime security cooperation in the Straits of Malaaca has increased significantly under Bush to protect a vital area and counters Al Qaeda's presence in Southeast Asia.

But none of this matters does it Hugh?

"Every single time the deba... (Below threshold)
jaymaster:

"Every single time the debate over whether or not the invasion of Iraq was appropriate, whole chunks of actual, real history seem to vanish, to be replaced with fantasies and false memories and outright lies."

And every single time the folks who propagate the fantasies and lies are challenged with the truth, they change the topic....

Proven 11 times in these comments alone!

The notion that we... (Below threshold)
Brian:
The notion that we ought to now go to Baghdad and somehow take control of the country strikes me as an extremely serious one in terms of what we'd have to do once we got there. You'd probably have to put some new government in place. It's not clear what kind of government that would be, how long you'd have to stay. For the U.S. to get involved militarily in determining the outcome of the struggle over who's going to govern in Iraq strikes me as a classic definition of a quagmire.

--Dick Cheney, 1991

12... (Below threshold)
jaymaster:

12

Disingenuous at best Brian.... (Below threshold)
marc:

Disingenuous at best Brian. For that quote to have any relevance you have to believe nothing changes in political and strategic circumstances of a country or countries.

Moreover the Cheney quote was spoken in the context of the U.S. not taking out Saddam in 1991 when to do so would have been against the U.N. mandate in place for that war.

Keep on counting those inco... (Below threshold)
Hugh:

Keep on counting those inconvenient truths jaymaster. You only solidify our points. Thanks .

You libs drive me crazy. Y... (Below threshold)
rocketman:

You libs drive me crazy. You always point out another war that we really should be fighting. In the beginning of the Iraq war every lib was crying that we should really be worried about Iran and North Korea. Now the threat of Iran being taken care of everyone is screaming no war in Iran. I thought the Iranians were really the threat, but now it is the Taliban.

Why don't you anti-war moonbats just admit that no war is a good war and dig a big hole in the sand to put your heads in....

13... (Below threshold)
jaymaster:

13

Oh, and by the way, I am NO... (Below threshold)
jaymaster:

Oh, and by the way, I am NOT counting inconvenient truths.

I am counting the number of times commentors switch the subject to another topic, and avoid Jay's points entirely.

Not that there's anything wrong with that, as they say. That practice typically makes the blog world go round.

But many folks here seem to think that by making such comments, they are debating, scoring points, being clever, and in their wildest dreams, maybe even being persuasive.

But in reality, all they are doing is avoiding the topic at hand.

And by making this post, I am forced to count myself as number 14.

Sheik,The decre... (Below threshold)

Sheik,

The decreasing death rate under Clinton can easily be explained by his consistent reduction in force size. Law of Averages and all that.

I'm glad you mentioned averages. If you look back at the spreadsheet that I originally referenced, one of the rows is "Deaths Per 100,000 of Troop Strength". That would actually be the exact figure that you seem to be looking for to see if Clinton's performance can be "explained by a reduction in force size". Clinton's average (93-00) is 57.175 deaths per 100,000 troops per year. The trend is still pretty impressive, starting at 65.6/year and ending with 49.5/year.

Bush(01-05), on the other hand, has an average of 83.54 deaths per 100,000 troops. Naturally, as pointed out before, his trend goes in entirely the opposite direction. The longer the war goes on, the worse Bush does measured in deaths per 100,000 troops. I'm sure he's very proud of his record.

By the way, try comparing Clinton to Bush I or Reagan. His average is significantly better than either in just about every year. His single year of 49.5 bests non-war Reagan by double in a few years. So, should Reagan be ashamed or Clinton be proud?

Joe, here's an alternative ... (Below threshold)

Joe, here's an alternative theory (and it's just a theory, mind you) that might explain a little of that number trend.

Observers have said about Americans soldiers that "their training is bloodless battles, and their battles are bloody training exercises," meaning that our training is as close to actual combat as we can make it. It's very, very tough, because "the more you sweat in training, the less you bleed on the battlefield."

In fact, sometimes the training is fatal. More than a few troops die each year in "training accidents."

Could the Clinton cuts in defense (remember the "peace dividend?") have affected training to the point where they sweated less in training, and now are bleeding more in combat? Could the training have been toned down, made less realistic?

I don't know. But I think it's a possibility, and could be a factor in those numbers.

But let's also not forget that, as your compeers keep pointing out, Bill Clinton had "eight years of peace." (This overlooks Mogadishu, the Balkans, Haiti, and at least five Al Qaeda attacks on US territory, but why confuse the point with facts?) Bush had eight MONTHS of that kind of "peace," and war since. Does it really come as a great surprise to you that soldiers die more frequently during wartime than peace?

Sounds like someone needs to brush up on Henry Blake's First Rule of War.

J.

(For those who don't recall their M*A*S*H,) Henry Blake once famously said of war: "Rule Number One is, young men die. Rule Number Two is, doctors can't change Rule Number One.")

In the beginning of the ... (Below threshold)
hansel2:

In the beginning of the Iraq war every lib was crying that we should really be worried about Iran and North Korea. Now the threat of Iran being taken care of everyone is screaming no war in Iran. I thought the Iranians were really the threat, but now it is the Taliban

Leave it to a true believer to take a nuanced issue and make it black and white. I can't speak for anyone but myself, but for me it's not one or the other - and I don't see anyone saying we should pull out of EVERY war we get involved in. It's an easy way for someone like you to end a discussion and push your partisan points, but it's not based on the truth of the discussion.

We've had several opportunities over the years to engage the Iranians in some form of diplomacy, but the Bush administrations hard line was to not speak to anyone - ever - unless they conformed to our rules completely. Nice talking point, but hardly realistic.

Every President has engaged in conversations with their enemy. It's the only way to keep the diplomatic lines open. The Cuban missle crisis would not have been solved had it not been for the willingness of Kennedy to find back door solutions - and the willingness of the Soviets to comply. Had Kennedy decided not to talk to the Soviets unless they turned the ships around we would have a very different world today.

Reagan continuously engaged with our enemies. This is what smart Presidents do. We do not have a smart President. We have an idiot who sees the world in black and white and responds as such. That is why we are in a world now where our options with NK and Iran are more limited than they were 6 years ago - and, NO, the future we live in now was NOT inevitable.

Nobody with a clear mind is saying we should pull out of every conflict and hide. All the smart folks are saying is there is a balance to diplomacy and force that this President has never exhibited (and this is not a Democratic ideal - even his father's administration had the smarts for this approach). His bull in a China shop approach to foreign policy and his willful ignorance (what other President of consequence has displayed a complete lack of curiousity about the world around him and an obvious negative attitude toward learning) have given us the world today that is worse than it was 6 years ago. There is no strategy to his strategy. If there were, and it were far more nuanced and intelligent, the outcomes wouldn't be so lousy.

And if Clinton had Bush's record for the last 6 years, you people would be chasing him down with torches.

I read the dopey posts of t... (Below threshold)
moseby:

I read the dopey posts of the leftist trolls and thank God that they are as significant in this world as the Cheerio that just rolled under my stove.

Jay,That's all wel... (Below threshold)

Jay,

That's all well and good, including your interesing theory about troop readiness. A counter theory would be as recruiting standards go down, casualties go up. Both are probably unprovable. It's kind of like your article on re-enlistment rates. It could be because of the soldiers' desire to stay and complete their mission. It could be because of higher cash bonuses for re-enlistment (something strangely left out of your analysis). It's hard to quantify the relative effect of each.

If you've been following this thread, I have mainly been responsing to two different provably false assertions and providing the data to show that they were incorrect:

1) Don't forget more soldiers have died under Klinton in 'peacetime, than under W. -- Gianni
(It doesn't surprise me that soldiers die more in wartime than peacetime -- apparently big news to Gianni, though.)

2) The decreasing death rate under Clinton can easily be explained by his consistent reduction in force size. -- Sheik Yur Bouty

If you feel that these assertions were factually correct, then I'm certainly interested in hearing the support for them. As for speculation, we could do that all day, and have little to show for it.

Jay, read this:<a ... (Below threshold)
Oleg:

Jay, read this:

http://www.commondreams.org/headlines03/1030-06.htm

Don't forget, the President himself declared that the mission has been accomplished. So, what are we doing there ?




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