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I Question The Timing, Part II

Recently, I had reason to revisit a certain resolution passed by Congress -- the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998. This was passed by a vote of 360-38 in the House, by unanimous consent in the Senate, and signed by President Bill Clinton.

I found myself drawn to Section II, the Findings part, that spelled out why the Act was pushed forward. It cites 12 distinct points.

The first four outline Saddam's acts that provoked the world's condemnation:

(1) On September 22, 1980, Iraq invaded Iran, starting an 8 year war in which Iraq employed chemical weapons against Iranian troops and ballistic missiles against Iranian cities.

(2) In February 1988, Iraq forcibly relocated Kurdish civilians from their home villages in the Anfal campaign, killing an estimated 50,000 to 180,000 Kurds.

(3) On March 16, 1988, Iraq used chemical weapons against Iraqi Kurdish civilian opponents in the town of Halabja, killing an estimated 5,000 Kurds and causing numerous birth defects that affect the town today.

(4) On August 2, 1990, Iraq invaded and began a 7 month occupation of Kuwait, killing and committing numerous abuses against Kuwaiti civilians, and setting Kuwait's oil wells ablaze upon retreat.

That condemnation came about in a most strenuous form:

(5) Hostilities in Operation Desert Storm ended on February 28, 1991, and Iraq subsequently accepted the ceasefire conditions specified in United Nations Security Council Resolution 687 (April 3, 1991) requiring Iraq, among other things, to disclose fully and permit the dismantlement of its weapons of mass destruction programs and submit to long-term monitoring and verification of such dismantlement.

After Iraq's surrender, Saddam continued to push the limits and provoke the US and the world:

(6) In April 1993, Iraq orchestrated a failed plot to assassinate former President George Bush during his April 14-16, 1993, visit to Kuwait.

(7) In October 1994, Iraq moved 80,000 troops to areas near the border with Kuwait, posing an imminent threat of a renewed invasion of or attack against Kuwait.

(8) On August 31, 1996, Iraq suppressed many of its opponents by helping one Kurdish faction capture Irbil, the seat of the Kurdish regional government.

(9) Since March 1996, Iraq has systematically sought to deny weapons inspectors from the United Nations Special Commission on Iraq (UNSCOM) access to key facilities and documents, has on several occasions endangered the safe operation of UNSCOM helicopters transporting UNSCOM personnel in Iraq, and has persisted in a pattern of deception and concealment regarding the history of its weapons of mass destruction programs.

(10) On August 5, 1998, Iraq ceased all cooperation with UNSCOM, and subsequently threatened to end long-term monitoring activities by the International Atomic Energy Agency and UNSCOM.

(11) On August 14, 1998, President Clinton signed Public Law 105-235, which declared that `the Government of Iraq is in material and unacceptable breach of its international obligations' and urged the President `to take appropriate action, in accordance with the Constitution and relevant laws of the United States, to bring Iraq into compliance with its international obligations.'.

(12) On May 1, 1998, President Clinton signed Public Law 105-174, which made $5,000,000 available for assistance to the Iraqi democratic opposition for such activities as organization, training, communication and dissemination of information, developing and implementing agreements among opposition groups, compiling information to support the indictment of Iraqi officials for war crimes, and for related purposes.

And the conclusion of this:

It should be the policy of the United States to support efforts to remove the regime headed by Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq and to promote the emergence of a democratic government to replace that regime.

The rest of the Act spells out just how the US should seek that goal -- outlining what we should do. And it ends with one caveat, one line we should not cross:

Nothing in this Act shall be construed to authorize or otherwise speak to the use of United States Armed Forces (except as provided in section 4(a)(2)) in carrying out this Act.

That last part was superseded four years later, with the Authorization for Military Force In Iraq, passed 296-133 by the House, 77-23 in the Senate, and signed by President Bush.

So, what changed in those four years?

For one, the president. Bill Clinton wanted Saddam removed, he just didn't want to dirty his hands by doing it himself. George W. Bush had no such compunctions.

For another, Saddam was on the verge of getting the sanctions lifted -- without being bothered to comly with the demands behind them. He'd turned the "Oil For Food" program into a way to funnel literally billions in bribes to key figures among the Security Council member nations, and had a ready supply of propagandists, apologists, and useful idiots ("the sanctions are killing thousands of Iraqi babies EVERY DAY!!!!!!!") who were clamoring for their end. We were looking at going right back to the way things were right before Saddam invaded Kuwait back in 1990 -- or worse.

Finally, though, the biggest one: 9/11.

No, Saddam was not involved in 9/11. Despite his thoroughly-established connections with Al Qaeda, there is no evidence he was aware of that plot. Indeed, it is highly unlikely that he was -- Al Qaeda was pretty damned good at operaional security, and there was absolutely no compelling reason why they should tell him, and plenty of reasons why they shouldn't. Had Saddam known about it beforehand, he could have bartered that information for some sanction relief.

But 9/11 changed our perception of our war on terror. It woke us up to its true nature.

And in that light, Saddam had to go.

Taking out Saddam would achieve a great many things. It would open up a second front with the terrorists bent on attacking America, forcing them to divide their efforts between Afghanistan and Iraq. It would get rid of a major sponsor of terrorism. It would give us a major force in the heart of the Middle East. It would get millions of people out from under a tyrant's jackboot. And, potentially, it would be a major blow to the Islamist ideology if we could help Iraq become an actual, functional representative democracy, and show that Islam and democracy are NOT incompatible.

Look back at the causes listed in the 1998 Act. How many of those concerns had been resolved in four years? Or even addressed?

Saddam's attempt to assassinate former President Bush? Unresolved.

Threatening to re-invade Kuwait or suppressing the Kurds? He'd backed off, but could resume either at a moment's notice.

Continuing the "cheat and retreat" game with weapons inspectors? Ongoing.

Under the terms of Saddam's 1991 surrender, he not only had to destroy all his WMDs and WMD material, he was to prove he did so. While everyone talks about how we never "proved" he had WMDs, very few people choose to mention that he also didn't prove he'd gotten rid of them.

In simpler terms:

He had them at one point. That is indisputable. But we have no proof of what happened to those weapons. They just disappeared, and Saddam told us "we destroyed them, but we lost the paperwork that proves it. Also, we forgot to invite you to see them being destroyed. But they're gone, trust me."

That the weapons inspectors were repeatedly unable to find Saddam's WMDs or other forbidden materials means nothing. As the saying goes, "absence of proof is not proof of absence." The significant thing is that Saddam would not account for his known pre-Kuwait invasion stockpiles, and neither could the inspectors.

So what the hell happened to those stockpiles of nerve agents, those research materials into biological and nuclear weapons, those delivery systems?

The anti-war crowd argues that since we didn't find them, then they apparently didn't exist. Or were destroyed without documentation. Either way, BUSH LIED!!!!!

The first argument is utterly ludicrous. We KNOW they existed.

The second is utterly specious. With Saddam's long history, we were supposed to just TRUST him when he said they were gone? I think not.

Saddam was not entitled to any "presumption of innocence." He was like a parolee after the first Gulf War. The burden of proof was not on us to show he was guilty of possessing WMDs; it was on him to prove he wasn't.

Let's extend that analogy. A known drug dealer is busted, then out on bail. One of the conditions of his release is that he not possess any guns. While he's out, he swaggers through the neighborhood, issuing veiled threats, patting suspicious bulges under his jacket, and bragging that anyone who crosses him "will regret it." And when he's stopped by cops, he's belligerent and defiant, but they never catch him actually carrying a weapon.

Finally, the cops get fed up and do a surprise raid of his house. They don't find what they're looking for, but they do find an old, forgotten gun hidden away. It's fairly obvious that the dealer had forgotten it was there, and it's in really lousy shape, but it's still a violation. And the guy raises a hell of a stink when the cops show up, so he gets hauled off anyway.

That falls under the category of "sometimes, bad things happen to bad people."

I have never doubted the rightness of the decision to invade Iraq and topple Saddam. The war was carried out virtually flawlessly, and was an absolute victory, an almost-textbook example of how to invade a nation and remove the government in minimal time, with minimal fuss.

Where the problems fell were in properly explaining the full rationales for the actions to the American people, and in handling the post-war occupation and reconstruction.

My support for the war has never been based solely on the Bush administration's public statements. Their "selling" of the war was less than stellar, and that weakness was jumped on by its critics. They put their message in the hands of a string of semi-competent spokespeople (including Bush himself, rarely accused of a stellar speaking ability, and Scott McClellan), and paid a great price for not putting forth the arguments for the war -- arguments I found persuasive with almost no help from those who should been pushing the case.

But back to the crux of this piece: what happened between 1998 and 2002? More specifically, what happened to the unaccounted-for WMDs and other forbidden material?

We may never know what happened to them, but one thing we do know for sure:

They won't be used by Saddam, who had freely used them in the past.

I think that's a good thing.


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Comments (31)

Jay, Thank you for that his... (Below threshold)

Jay, Thank you for that history! Bravo!
David

This is what we need to hea... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

This is what we need to hear more of, perspective and context. JT, we need our leaders to constantly repeat this to the people of this country. The liberal lefties had successfully sold the lie that this is Bush's war. ww

Re WMDs - there's a lot of ... (Below threshold)

Re WMDs - there's a lot of desert in Iraq (duh) and it's fairly easy to bulldoze a trench, put in a half-dozen 40' containers, and bury them for later retrieval. (Heck, Saddam was burying MIGs for later use.) All you need is a map with all the locations - and if it looks like your country's about to be overrun, you burn the map. Presto! No evidence of WMDs!

If you don't need to burn the map, and manage to get sanctions lifted - you dig them up and then they're ready for use. Poison gasses have a long shelf life - just look at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal and how they had to burn stuff that was made for WW1 and WW2 in the '90s.

Good perspective, JT - something we need badly...

"Bill Clinton wanted Sad... (Below threshold)
Oyster:

"Bill Clinton wanted Saddam removed, he just didn't want to dirty his hands by doing it himself."

And neither did anyone else. They were content to wring their hands, type up accounts of human rights abuses and hope a few bags of rice and some penicillin actually got through. All the while they're really hoping someone actually did something about the situation -- just someone else.

The whole WMD thing is ridiculous. The suspicion of WMD was part of the many reasons for the invasion. Yet WMD was almost exclusively the media's focus. That is the point they brought up more often than anything, so that is the point the administration answered to most often. It quickly became the sole focus and all other reasons, just as valid, were nearly ignored.

Iraqi defectors who spoke of WMD, confirming its existence, were either ignored or called liars with agendas. Every bit of suspect equipment or substance found (often in great quantities) was deemed "dual use" and perfectly innocuous. Terror training camps were called anti-terror training camps. Any WMD actually found was downplayed as "old" and they just forgot it was there. They forgot they buried Russian Migs in the sand too.

Yet, the UN had Iraq slated to chair the disarmament committee in the very month they were invaded - and just as funny, Libya was slated to chair the Human Rights commission. And who could possibly question the Olympic Committee's vociferous objection to Uday's treatment of Iraq's Olympic hopefuls? Oh, that's right. There was none. No one had any objection to Chirac's infatuation with Saddam. So much so that he saw that Saddam got 93% weapons grade uranium for his Osirak plant. And those chemicals and materials that were so innocuous? If that's true, why is the US lambasted for supplying any of it? Especially since it was a mere fraction of what China and Russia supplied.

No one seems to want to acknowledge what would have happened when Saddam got sanctions lifted though. And yes, it was imminent. We would have been back to square one and everyone would have been happy to wring their hands again wishing someone would do something about it.

And don't forget, our plane... (Below threshold)
Sara:

And don't forget, our planes patrolling the no-fly zone were taking anti-aircraft fire.

This article sheds light on... (Below threshold)

This article sheds light on the real problem: an admission by Saddam of the use of WMD, the intent to produce them and the maens of doing so.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120182537976533691.html

Here are the Key Findings o... (Below threshold)
Eric:

Here are the Key Findings of the Comprehensive Report of the Special Advisor to the DCI on Iraq's WMD aka the Duelfer Report)

{Emphasis Mine}

Saddam Husayn so dominated the Iraqi Regime that its strategic intent was his alone. He wanted to end sanctions while preserving the capability to reconstitute his weapons of mass destruction (WMD) when sanctions were lifted. • Saddam totally dominated the Regime's strategic decision making. He initiated most of the strategic thinking upon which decisions were made, whether in matters of war and peace (such as invading Kuwait), maintaining WMD as a national strategic goal, or on how Iraq was to position itself in the international community. Loyal dissent was discouraged and constructive variations to the implementation of his wishes on strategic issues were rare. Saddam was the Regime in a strategic sense and his intent became Iraq's strategic policy. • Saddam's primary goal from 1991 to 2003 was to have UN sanctions lifted, while maintaining the security of the Regime. He sought to balance the need to cooperate with UN inspections--to gain support for lifting sanctions--with his intention to preserve Iraq's intellectual capital for WMD with a minimum of foreign intrusiveness and loss of face. Indeed, this remained the goal to the end of the Regime, as the starting of any WMD program, conspicuous or otherwise, risked undoing the progress achieved in eroding sanctions and jeopardizing a political end to the embargo and international monitoring. • The introduction of the Oil-For-Food program (OFF) in late 1996 was a key turning point for the Regime. OFF rescued Baghdad's economy from a terminal decline created by sanctions. The Regime quickly came to see that OFF could be corrupted to acquire foreign exchange both to further undermine sanctions and to provide the means to enhance dual-use infrastructure and potential WMD-related development.By 2000-2001, Saddam had managed to mitigate many of the effects of sanctions and undermine their international support. Iraq was within striking distance of a de facto end to the sanctions regime, both in terms of oil exports and the trade embargo, by the end of 1999. Saddam wanted to recreate Iraq's WMD capability--which was essentially destroyed in 1991--after sanctions were removed and Iraq's economy stabilized, but probably with a different mix of capabilities to that which previously existed. Saddam aspired to develop a nuclear capability--in an incremental fashion, irrespective of international pressure and the resulting economic risks--but he intended to focus on ballistic missile and tactical chemical warfare (CW) capabilities. • Iran was the pre-eminent motivator of this policy. All senior level Iraqi officials considered Iran to be Iraq's principal enemy in the region. The wish to balance Israel and acquire status and influence in the Arab world were also considerations, but secondary. • Iraq Survey Group (ISG) judges that events in the 1980s and early 1990s shaped Saddam's belief in the value of WMD. In Saddam's view, WMD helped to save the Regime multiple times. He believed that during the Iran-Iraq war chemical weapons had halted Iranian ground offensives and that ballistic missile attacks on Tehran had broken its political will. Similarly, during Desert Storm, Saddam believed WMD had deterred Coalition Forces from pressing their attack beyond the goal of freeing Kuwait. WMD had even played a role in crushing the Shi'a revolt in the south following the 1991 cease-fire. • The former Regime had no formal written strategy or plan for the revival of WMD after sanctions. Neither was there an identifiable group of WMD policy makers or planners separate from Saddam. Instead, his lieutenants understood WMD revival was his goal from their long association with Saddam and his infrequent, but firm, verbal comments and directions to them.

Before Bush even took office there was an international push to end sanctions in Iraq. Doesn't everyone remember the reports about the millions of Iraqi children dying because of the cruel sanctions.

My favorite was Mike Farrell from MASH who before the first Gulf War argued for sanctions not war, then in the late '90s argued that the sanctions were cruel and inhuman and needed to be lifted, then before the current war argued that sanctions were working so we shouldn't go to war.

Saddam wanted sanctions lifted so he could get right back to work on his WMD programs.

JohnThank you for ta... (Below threshold)
Razorgirl:

John
Thank you for taking the time to research this subject. I, like many others, knew these things in the back of my mind but needed the information compiled and organized chronologically for clarification. It is too bad today's MSM doesn't have the research and critical thinking skills required to write something of this caliber. I have designated this post as a "Keeper" and printed it out for future argumentation amo, with credit to you, of course. Great job!

Jay Tea,Excellent ... (Below threshold)
BPG:

Jay Tea,

Excellent post & well-argued. (I agreed anyway, but that's not the point) Unfortunately, those in the "Bush lied" crowd have their own facts and their own narrative and this will be lost on those who need to understand it most.

-BPG

Ahh...still trying to excus... (Below threshold)
jp2:

Ahh...still trying to excuse your mistake. Keep it up! You'll pull through soon enough!

"Despite his thoroughly-established connections with Al Qaeda, there is no evidence he was aware of that plot."

I could call BS on a lot of this, but this one in particular. SOURCE please. And just so know, there are plenty in the opposite direction...

"The Sept. 11 commission reported yesterday that it has found no "collaborative relationship" between Iraq and al Qaeda, challenging one of the Bush administration's main justifications for the war in Iraq."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A47812-2004Jun16.html

Again, source.

"Finally, the cops get f... (Below threshold)
Oyster:

"Finally, the cops get fed up and do a surprise raid of his house. They don't find what they're looking for, but they do find an old, forgotten gun hidden away. It's fairly obvious that the dealer had forgotten it was there, and it's in really lousy shape, but it's still a violation. And the guy raises a hell of a stink when the cops show up, so he gets hauled off anyway."

After giving it some thought, I would take that analogy just one step further.

They find the gun tucked away in a closet and in bad shape. Yet they find a brush in the kitchen designed for the barrel of a gun, but also could be used to clean a water line in the house and a can of silicone-based oil in the same drawer that could be used to clean a gun, but could oil squeaky hinges too. They find a few stray bullets in a bedroom drawer, but they were at the other end of the house. Then they find, bundled together in a box in the garage, all the household items necessary for making a homemade silencer. But they have other purposes as well.

And his probation period is just about up.

Great post, Jay. I will co... (Below threshold)
moseby:

Great post, Jay. I will come back and read it often. It is too bad that our liberal "comrades" will be unable to wrap their tiny brains around it. In their world, 2 plus 2 does not always equal 4....

Hey JP2 if you are going to... (Below threshold)
Eric:

Hey JP2 if you are going to use the 9/11 Commission Report as a source why don't you actually quote from the 9/11 Commission Report instead of from a Dowdified analysis of the report from the media.

Here let me help you out with a more complete sample of what the report said about the relationship between Iraq and bin Laden, then tell me how what Jay Tea said is still BS.

{emphasis mine}

There is also evidence that around this time Bin Ladin sent out a number of feelers to the Iraqi regime, offering some cooperation. None are reported to have received a significant response. According to one report, Saddam Hussein's efforts at this time to rebuild relations with the Saudis and other Middle Eastern regimes led him to stay clear of Bin Ladin.
In mid-1998,the situation reversed; it was Iraq that reportedly took the initiative. In March 1998, after Bin Ladin's public fatwa against the United States, two al Qaeda members reportedly went to Iraq to meet with Iraqi intelligence.
In July, an Iraqi delegation traveled to Afghanistan to meet first with the Taliban and then with Bin Ladin. Sources reported that one, or perhaps both, of these meetings was apparently arranged through Bin Ladin's Egyptian deputy, Zawahiri, who had ties of his own to the Iraqis. In 1998, Iraq was under intensifying U.S. pressure, which culminated in a series of large air attacks in December.
Similar meetings between Iraqi officials and Bin Ladin or his aides may have occurred in 1999 during a period of some reported strains with the Taliban. According to the reporting, Iraqi officials offered Bin Ladin a safe haven in Iraq. Bin Ladin declined, apparently judging that his circumstances in Afghanistan remained more favorable than the Iraqi alternative. The reports describe friendly contacts and indicate some common themes in both sides' hatred of the United States. But to date we have seen no evidence that these or the earlier contacts ever developed into a collaborative operational relationship. Nor have we seen evidence indicating that Iraq cooperated with al Qaeda in developing or carrying out any attacks against the United States.

Now close your eyes, put your hands over your ears and go back to chanting "Bush Lied! People Died!"

Jay Tea, I still have a few... (Below threshold)
allen:

Jay Tea, I still have a few questions regarding a possible Saddam connection to 9/11. December 2003, Con Coughlin wrote an article in the UK Telegraph about a document he saw that he thought was legitimate written by the head of the Iraqi intelligence(Habbush al Tikriti?) stating that Mohammed Atta was in Baghdad meeting with Abu Nidal for 3 days. Is it not interesting that Abu Nidal was killed by Saddam months before the invasion of Iraq? Also, about the same time Edward Jay Epstein(The only man I know of who interviewed the top levels of the Czech intelligence, the BIS) wrote in Slate magazine that the Czech intelligence was not backing down about the possible meeting in Prague between Atta and the Iraqi intelligence man Samir al Ani. The FBI says they have evidence that Atta was in Virginia and Florida during this time frame and that he could not have been in Prague. Mr. Epstein disagrees and says that no such evidence or records exist(Mohammed Atta did not have a Florida drivers liscence at the time among other things). Your thoughts.

So no "collaborative relati... (Below threshold)
jp2:

So no "collaborative relationship", but "friendly contacts..." Or as the Post states, "contacts, not no cooperation."

If you consider this "thoroughly-established connections with Al Qaeda" then I'm afraid we'll just have to disagree. (Also, keep in mind that the United States had friendly contacts and delegations that hosted the Taliban. I wouldn't call our relationship with the Taliban as "thoroughly established")

I sure appreciate you coming back with a source. Thanks.

After giving it some tho... (Below threshold)
Brian:

After giving it some thought, I would take that analogy just one step further.

Let's keep going, shall we? And then while the police are hauling the guy away, the gang from down the street starts looting the other apartments. In an effort to stop them, the police blow up a few apartments, killing mostly the residents, and leaving the gang largely intact. Dispatch calls to report a murder around the corner, but the police are too busy dealing with the guy who maybe coulda had a gun. Then the police find another guy living in the basement, so they put him in charge of the whole building. Turns out he's a slumlord. People start moving out of the building. The gangs move in. But it's all worth it, because the guy who swaggered through the neighborhood and patted suspicious bulges under his jacket is gone.

Jay--I've used the... (Below threshold)
Joe Miller:

Jay--

I've used the parole analogy frequently myself. You have a man on parole and part of that parole is occasional inspections. If the parole officer turns up at the door and is refused access, that violates the parole and force can be used to take the parolee into custody. It doesn't matter what the man isn't supposed to have on his premises or whether it's there or not.

On another item, I believe Saddam could have avoided the war at any time by throwing the doors open and inviting inspectors in. He'd been dealing with the "international community" for so long, he simply couldn't conceive of anyone attacking him.

--Joe Miller

JP2, the connections are es... (Below threshold)
Eric:

JP2, the connections are established by the 9/11 Commission, a source that YOU cited. When both parties, Bin Laden and Saddam, are willing to cooperate together at different times, then yes I call that a connection. Also what does it mean if Bin Laden's right hand man and the founder of his own terror group has ties to Iraq?

Either way, the real story of Saddam's and Bin Laden's relationship was much more complex than the simplistic soundbite that you used. Do you seriously want to make the argument that Saddam had no ties with terrorists?

Read this from the Council on Foreign Relations. The CFR is NOT a right wing shill, read who makes up the Board of Directors.

The facts are Saddam had ties with terrorists, Saddam had WMDs at one time and he wanted to have them again.

Frankly, whether we should have invaded Iraq boiled down to whether or not Saddam would have eventually partnered up with terrorist organizations and provided them with WMDs to use against the U.S. or someone else. That was always the TRILLION dollar question. Some of the smartest foreign policy experts in the world disagree on that basic point.

Forget about what we know now, given what we knew then, the possibility of a 9/11 with WMDs would be a bad thing.

Eric: "JP2, the connections... (Below threshold)
jp2:

Eric: "JP2, the connections are established by the 9/11 Commission, a source that YOU cited. When both parties, Bin Laden and Saddam, are willing to cooperate together at different times, then yes I call that a connection.

me: Ummm, yes, that is a (possible) connection, much like Americans had connections to the Taliban. But as I stated and quoted, a connection is not cooperation. You try to tie both together and it just doesn't work like that. Again - "contacts, not no cooperation."

From YOUR source:

"Did Iraq cooperate with al-Qaeda?

This is a subject of heated debate. U.S. intelligence officials say they have reports of links, and President Bush has cited Iraqi ties to al-Qaeda as a reason for confronting Iraq. Still, many of the alleged connections remain tenuous, and because U.S. intelligence agencies must protect their sources and methods of intelligence gathering, few specifics have been offered publicly. Most intelligence on Iraq and al-Qaeda draws on sources of unknown reliability, including al-Qaeda detainees."

We don't have any concrete evidence of cooperation between Iraq and al-Qaeda as the 9/11 Commission states. And the CFR states the evidence that does exist is of "unknown reliability."

Trying to spin this as "thoroughly-established connections" is still BS. It's disinformation like this that leads our less intelligent Americans to thoughts such as these:

"Twenty-two percent (22%) of adults believe that Saddam Hussein "helped plan and support the hijackers who attacked the United States on September 11."

" Forty-one percent (41%) of U.S. adults believe that Saddam Hussein had "strong links to Al Qaeda."

http://sev.prnewswire.com/computer-electronics/20051229/NYTH02529122005-1.html

JayGreat article!!... (Below threshold)
Corky Boyd:

Jay

Great article!!!

So many on the left are totally unaware Pres. Clinton was given the authority to go to war in 1998. It was for almost precisely the same reasons Pres. Bush used four years later. In fact, many Bush advisors said he could have used the old authorization, but he decided it should be renewed.

Please help me out on this. I recall reading Clinton claimed Saddam retained WMDs, specifically chemical weapons to justify the Congressional authority. But I can't source the comments (no lexis nexis). Please publish the coments and dates, etc.

I have often wondered why the administration didn't try to use Public Law 105-235 to counter "Bush lied, people died." I have often thought it was being saved in case impeachment became a reality.

Thanks
Corky Boyd

Contacts do not equal coope... (Below threshold)
Eric:

Contacts do not equal cooperation, but for God's Sake JP2 Saddam and Bin Laden were not sharing cookie recipes!

The former 2nd in command g... (Below threshold)

The former 2nd in command general for the Iraqi Air Force has addressed where the WMD material went to in a book. General Georges Sada in his book, SADDAM's SECRETS noted that the WMD materials were either sold or transfered to Syria in civilian aircraft in drums with the seats removed.

However, it is very important to note that WMD materials were very low tech in nature, usually just pesticide based toxic chemicals which were far less lethal even comparable explosive shells. Chemical warfare masy be dirty warfare, and certainly sounds frightening, however for the most part WMDs tend to be such low tech weapons that they represent weapons of a lower quality than many quality explosives. Even mustard gas is not always lethal except to those very close to the shells actual impact area, compared to a much larger area of destruction caused by a strong conventional shell.

It sounded dramatic enough for the Bush Administration officials to ramp up fear in 2003 by using the loaded term, "WMDs", however even some of most backward and poorly equiped armies in the African continent have low grade pesticide based WMD weapons, which in military reality are mostly useless weapons. It is only the biological weapons such as anthrax that should really be greatly feared. However, it generally only states like the U.S. and Russia that have done research into such fearsome biological weapons, and not backward states with third rate armies.

Saddam did play into his own downfall by wanting rivals like the United States and Iran to believe that he had fearsome WMDs as a way to self-protect his grip on Iraq. But this certainly did not deter the U.S. as Saddam had hoped.

Paul, your understanding of... (Below threshold)
SPQR:

Paul, your understanding of chemical weapons' effectiveness is a joke. And not a funny one. Properly dispersed chemical weapons do not have a less effective radius of destruction than conventional shells - especially against unprepared civilians.

The quality of this post is... (Below threshold)

The quality of this post is highlighted by the puny counterarguments by our regular dissenters, Brian, JP2 and Paul Hoosen.

Keep in mind that the primary source material is from a Resolution passed during the vaunted Clinton Watch.

This article should be saved and reviewed every time the Bush Lied BS comes up.

"Contacts do not equal coop... (Below threshold)
jp2:

"Contacts do not equal cooperation, but for God's Sake JP2 Saddam and Bin Laden were not sharing (alleged) cookie recipes!"

"The first argument is utte... (Below threshold)
Herman:

"The first argument is utterly ludicrous. We KNOW they [the WMD] existed." -- Mr. Tea

Definitely not at the time (March 2003) when Bush invaded we don't.

Okay, Mr. Tea, you are so sure that S. Hussein had WMD, then go ahead and name what EXACTLY he had and when he had it and where he had it. Come on, I DARE YOU. Before you do, why don't you read what one former Marine and former UN Weapons Inspector, Scott Ritter, has to say on the subject. And if you are able anything specific (e.g., "Saddam had thirty kilos of sarin in Tikrit in February 2003") don't you thing the UN Weapons inspectors would have known of this allegation too?

"The burden of proof was not on us to show he was guilty of possessing WMDs; it was on him to prove he wasn't." -- Mr. Tea

Other than allowing inspectors to examine your domicile, Mr. Tea, how would you be able to prove that YOU DON'T HAVE ANY WMD? WELL??? Would you proceed to manufacture some anthrax, and then film yourself destroying the anthrax, do you think that would work?

Chimpy himself shows the complete stupidity of Mr. Tea's argument: NOT ONCE did the Moron King speak to the American people, declaring "We're going to invade because Saddam has failed to prove that he does not have what he claims he does not have." Evidently, such an argument was TOO IDIOTIC EVEN FOR CHIMPY!!!

Jay Tea,You provid... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

Jay Tea,

You provide a balanced and well-argued account of your position on the war. I completely agree with you that the Clinton Administration pushed for many of the same things that Bush eventually undertook. So, it is not a fair assessment to pretend that GW Bush crafted the US foreign policy once he was elected. In fact, that's far from the case as you point out.

I think your analogy makes sense, but I also think that Brian's addition (while not perfect) is a useful extension to complete it. This whole problem was not due to one man, and removing that man was hardly going to solve the problem. There are millions of people in Iraq with differing cultural and political histories, and divergent ideals about what they want for themselves and for their country. We took out Saddam, who has been a criminal since he took power in 79 (and earlier), but that was just the beginning. There were rival factions, deep historical enmities between groups, incredibly impoverished populations, and competing interests looking in from the outside. Hussein, as the parolee, was just the tip of the iceberg. There was also the fact that while many Iraqis reviled Hussein, they still did not necessarily want a foreign army to come in and remove him. But then, some did. Nice and complicated, and hardly about just one man.

Once we invaded, Rumsfeld had too much confidence in the superiority of the American military, and that really showed AFTER Saddam was gone. Once the head was taken off of the Iraqi power structure, things got really messy, and difficult, for US troops. This has little to do with the strength of the US military, or the courage of its troops. They were sent right into the middle of a three-way conflict in which all of the sides did not even have a clear idea of what the hell they wanted--it was pretty chaotic. Many factions were grabbing for power, and the US (and its allies) were supposed to make everything better.

As Vietnam showed us, even the strongest military in the world cannot solve deeply entrenched guerrilla forces. Also, when the enemy looks just like civilians in many cases, things get even more complicated. Add to that the fact that the "enemy" of the US troops was hardly this constant, definable entity.

Taking out Saddam would achieve a great many things. It would open up a second front with the terrorists bent on attacking America, forcing them to divide their efforts between Afghanistan and Iraq. It would get rid of a major sponsor of terrorism. It would give us a major force in the heart of the Middle East. It would get millions of people out from under a tyrant's jackboot. And, potentially, it would be a major blow to the Islamist ideology if we could help Iraq become an actual, functional representative democracy, and show that Islam and democracy are NOT incompatible.

While this war was sold as being all about terrorism, I still tend to think it was much less about "terrorism" per se than it was about giving the US a major force in the Middle East," something that had been a goal of US foreign policy since the mid 70s.

In reading the 9/11 report, my impression was that both Wolfowitz and Cheney knew that it was a kind of "now or never" situation after the attacks. It was tactical, and something that the seemed to have to talk Bush into. He was not sure, but then he finally agreed. The latest Woodward book went into that as well. Foreing policy and war were by no means Bush's strongest areas.

If the US really wanted to expend resources on removing dictators and fighting for human rights, there are plenty of other places in the world where we could have accomplished quite a bit more in the human rights department. If human rights was the main concern of US foreign policy, we would have done something about Rwanda in 1995 (Clinton), or Sudan in the past few years. But, like most states that have ever existed, human rights issues in fellow nation states are usually not of the highest priority.

We went into Iraq because it is an immensely critical region that is highly valuable, economically, politically, and strategically. The US did not spend billions of dollars for the sake of human rights; that is not why countries undertake large invasions of this kind, IMO.

Now, when Bush and everyone else was talking about invading Iraq, they tended to couch things in terms of terrorism, WMDs, and human rights. I have never felt that those were the main reasons why we invaded. Those were the selling points that the admin. used, but that is different from the actual reasons. Considering the location of Iraq, the nations that surround it, and the resources that exist in that region, the reasons why we entered Iraq seem pretty clear cut to me.

Countries generally do not go to war unless they are either attacked, or there is an expected benefit of some kind--whether political, economic, strategic, or whatever.

Where the problems fell were in properly explaining the full rationales for the actions to the American people, and in handling the post-war occupation and reconstruction.

I definitely agree with you here, especially with the latter half. The Bush admin explanations were all over the place, insufficient, and inconsistent. They changed over time. A more direct presentation of the argument for war would have at least given the American public a decent sense of what was really on the table. The whole post-war thing, as you note, was a disaster...and a lot of that was because Rumsfeld and Cheney were less interested in the details of post war than in the initial invasion. The State Dept was almost completely snowballed in many cases, and they were the ones who were supposed to build the whole post-war plan (that's how I have read it as of now).

My support for the war has never been based solely on the Bush administration's public statements. Their "selling" of the war was less than stellar, and that weakness was jumped on by its critics. They put their message in the hands of a string of semi-competent spokespeople (including Bush himself, rarely accused of a stellar speaking ability, and Scott McClellan), and paid a great price for not putting forth the arguments for the war -- arguments I found persuasive with almost no help from those who should been pushing the case.

Again, I think you present your perspective well. And I appreciate that, definitely, in this age of polemic rant-fests. All in all, I still do not think that a full-on invasion of Iraq was the correct path to go down for the US. I understand the reasons why it was done, but I do not think it was the right choice. I was never under the impression that the US was exactly welcome in Iraq, in the way that we were in France in WWII. Were seemed to be, in my view, another competing power in the middle of an old old struggle.

But then, there's the saying about spilled milk. At this point, what's the use? We are in Iraq, and cannot change the way that we got there. Maybe this is something that both sides of the spectrum can agree upon. We're in, and we have to work to resolve the conflict that we stepped into because we're a part of it. The solution lies not in demonizing our troops, or demonizing the opposing political party, but in paying attention to the reality of the war, the pragmatics of our predicament, and making the best decisions possible from this point on.

It's never simple, and it's never just about the supposed good guys versus the supposed bad guys. I would be happy if more of the American public--Republican and Democrat and everyone else--would consider that, for starters.

When both parties, Bin L... (Below threshold)
Brian:

When both parties, Bin Laden and Saddam, are willing to cooperate together at different times, then yes I call that a connection.
...
Contacts do not equal cooperation, but for God's Sake JP2 Saddam and Bin Laden were not sharing cookie recipes!

Care to revise your arguments, Eric?

So many on the left are ... (Below threshold)
Brian:

So many on the left are totally unaware Pres. Clinton was given the authority to go to war in 1998.

Gee, I wonder why.

Nothing in this Act shall be construed to authorize or otherwise speak to the use of United States Armed Forces

Oh yeah.

I mean, c'mon, geez! Even Jay acknowledged that in the original post!

Nothing in this Act shall b... (Below threshold)
Bullwinkle:

Nothing in this Act shall be construed to authorize or otherwise speak to the use of United States Armed Forces (except as provided in section 4(a)(2)) in carrying out this Act.


Nice try lefty, try posting it all next time or risk looking like scum again. Still wondering why?

Brian, Donald Rumsfeld was ... (Below threshold)
Eric:

Brian, Donald Rumsfeld was meeting Hussein on behalf of the United States government, Osama Bin Laden is a terrorist. According to the 9/11 Commission

Iraqi officials offered Bin Ladin a safe haven in Iraq. Bin Ladin declined, apparently judging that his circumstances in Afghanistan remained more favorable than the Iraqi alternative. The reports describe friendly contacts and indicate some common themes in both sides' hatred of the United States.

According to the 9/10 Commission

In 1999, Saddam Hussein sent a missive to bin Laden explaining how chocolate chip cookies are his favorite fresh made cookies. But he loves Oreos and can't resist breaking them apart and eating the creme filling. Bin Laden responded with, "Damn straight Homey!"

Analysts are split over the meaning of discussion.




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