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November 2, 2002

Substantive arguments: Joshua Micah Marshall reviews Kenneth Pollack’s The Threatening Storm here, discussing (and pretty much agreeing with) what Marshall calls “the skeptical case for regime change in Iraq.” Important reading for those who (like this weblog) regard the Administration’s arguments for war as incoherent. Pollack and Marshall present the arguments that aren’t incoherent. They should be read.

Max Sawicky, on his own weblog and on Stand Down/No War Blog, discusses the idea that it’s improper for liberals and left-wingers to ally themselves with the “so-called isolationists of the right.” Observes Sawicky:

This canard is a clear violation of Godwin’s Law, since it harkens back to American Nazi sympathizers of the 1930s. It’s bad analysis, bad history, bad politics, and a steaming pile of monkey crap. […]

Isolationism connotes at best a selfish indifference to events outside the homeland. At worst, it implies a failure to recognizing looming threats that form at a distance. In other words, you are immoral for failing to empathize with the downtrodden Iraqi people, and foolish for not seeing that Saddam is coming to get us.

By contrast, the objection of both left and right regarding Iraq stems to an important extent from doubts of the power of any government to construct a peaceable society from the outside with force. In other words, it derives from inherent skepticism as to the efficacy of state power in this endeavor. There is no implied disregard for the well-being of the Iraqi people’s tribulations under the Hussein dictatorship. To the contrary, I take a general apprehension to stem from aversion to destroying villages in order to save them.

You may not agree with either Marshall’s or Sawicky’s central points, but both of them are playing at a higher level than most of blogland. [12:59 PM]
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Hard-Hitting Moderator: Teresa Nielsen Hayden.

Comments on Substantive arguments::

Simon Shoedecker ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2002, 10:30 PM:

Marshall does present some cogent concerns about Iraq, and they are indeed worth reading. They're not new arguments; they've been seen even from some anti-war people who lay out the opposition case prior to rebutting it.

The main problems as I see them are two:

1) If all these concerns about Saddam and the bomb are true, and as urgent as we're told, they were just as true, almost as urgent, and more capable of being dealt with, back before the current war proposal was mooted. Why weren't the same people who are urging a take-out of Saddam now urging it then? What's changed? If we're to trust their wisdom today, why were they so distinctly unwise not very long ago?

2) Marshall himself points out his and Pollack's concerns about follow-up. From the anti-war perspective, we have no reason to trust that Saddam won't be succeeded by something worse, and large reason for concern that he will be.

Those are the questions I want answers for, and the usual offered answers, 1) "It doesn't matter what they said then, only what they say now," and 2) "Trust the US government," do not satisfy.

Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2002, 07:16 PM:

That Something Must Be Done about Saddam I've agreed since I read the Jeffrey Goldber's New Yorker article making a much briefer version of the case made by Pollack. I have serious doubts, though, that an invasion is the best thing at this time. My concerns focus on: (1) the possibility that the war will go wide, unexpectedly involving other nations; (2) the likelyhood that we will win the war but lose the peace, as we are losing the peace in Afghanistan; and (3) that the administration's Iraq hawks are still fighting the last war, and do not know what 21st century war is, and may get a very bitter lesson in Iraq.

Tough problem. I wish I saw signs of a solid grasp of strategy in W. Bush and his inner circle of advisors.

Thomas Nephew ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2002, 03:34 PM:

Re Mr. Shoedecker's first question: Pollack identifies at least two things that have changed. First, 9/11 made more Americans willing to go to war against enemies -- and not necessarily just Al Qaeda -- who had been or might be ruthlessly lethal. Bush is arguably following that sentiment as much he's leading it.

Second, Pollack argues that the alternative to war, namely sanctions plus inspections, has steadily become weaker and weaker, as Iraq and other governments have found ways around the sanctions and ways to blunt or avoid inspections. This isn't a change that's easy to pinpoint at any one time; to turn a Bush phrase on its head, it takes the 'patient accumulation of failures' for a reasonable person to decide that a strategy like sanctions/inspections/containment is just not going to work.

Matt McIrvin ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2002, 06:12 PM:

From what little I've read on the subject, the people in the Pentagon who are currently advocating invasion *were* advocating it even before September 2001. It just wasn't politically feasible.

Some of these same people did decide to refrain from toppling him in 1991, and have regretted the decision ever since it became clear that his regime wasn't going to collapse on its own and would continue to be at least a regional danger.

I'm pretty much in Marshall's corner at the moment, but I can't conjure up much enthusiasm for any possible course of action. All options suck pretty hard. The most intelligent pro-war and anti-war commentators all acknowledge more or less the same points; it's just a question of which dangers you think are worse.

I will note that Bush seems to have more tolerance for multilateral consultation than many give him credit for, and that's a good sign. But I continue to be amazed by commentators to the right of him who seem to want the US to antagonize the UN *even if it is not necessary*, mostly because they hate the French.

John Farrell ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2002, 08:43 PM:

But I continue to be amazed by commentators to the right of him who seem to want the US to antagonize the UN *even if it is not necessary*, mostly because they hate the French.

Yeah. What's missed in a lot of the 'coverage' of the French is that, behind the scenes, of their media and elites, the French and German police and courts have been diligent in cracking down and detaining suspected terrorists etc. I saw a piece on this a few weeks back in the Weekly Standard.

Andrew Northrup ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2002, 10:39 PM:

I think a lot of people, both "pro-war" and anti, acknowledge that there is a compelling reason to go into Iraq if (when) the new round of inspections fail, and it is the reason Marshall lays out. The problem is that it is impossible to determine if this reason is really the Bush adminstration's only reason for wanting to go in, or if the shopping list that they have laid out is closer to the truth. It is impossible to determine if there even is an underlying philosophy at work, or if the various factions have different rationales for reaching the same conclusion. The problem is that no one is really sure where incompetence ends and dishonesty begins.

Matt McIrvin ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2002, 12:00 AM:

Around the time that I was writing that, the administration announced and/or leaked that they believe there are secret smallpox weapon stocks belonging to Russia, Iraq, North Korea, and France.

Now, on the one hand I have little difficulty actually believing that statement. But I admit to having a moment of obligatory liberal paranoia: "Dan Perkins was right. Bush really is building a casus belli to bomb France,"

I am sure I am already behind the Internet curve on this one.

Andrew Brown ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2002, 06:06 AM:

But the alternative to war is not just sanctions and inspections. It's sanctions and inspections and deterrence. Dropping deterrence is the aspect to the that I still don't understand.

I see in this morning's (London) Times that Sharon is calling for an invasion of Iran once Iraq has been occupied. One of his arguments is that Hezbollah has "10,000 missile launchers aimed at Israel". So why haven't they been used? Assuming they exist, the answer is for fear of the consequences, a fear which Sharon has done his best to instill into the Lebanese (at a cost of God knows how many civilian casualties) for the last 20 years.

If deterrence works on Hizbollah, why won't it work on Saddam? I know it is not a universally effective defence. It doesn't seem to work well in the occupied territories any more. But Saddam is not a suicide bomber. He still has a lot to lose. Why is it so smart to put him in a corner where he has no longer anything whatever to lose?

Barry ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2002, 09:49 AM:

Because that would play into the interests of certain factions - the hawks in the US and Israel. Setting the middle east on fire could be useful. It would allow both governments to do things that they couldn't otherwise get away with. It would also shore up their political bases. Sharon and Bush both profit from war and suffer from peace.

Derek James ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2002, 11:31 AM:

Andrew Brown wrote: "If deterrence works on Hizbollah, why won't it work on Saddam?"

Cold War strategy just isn't gonna work in the 21st century, for a lot of reasons. The only worry of Saddam with nukes isn't him launching an attack on mainland America.

There are the additional threats that he could:

1) Share the technology with others (e.g. Syria), or even more dangerously, with non-state entities. People counter with, "If Saddam had nukes, why would he give them away?" One simple answer is, to avoid the consequences. I admit not being completely clear on the technology here. If a nuke went off in Chicago tomorrow (not delivered from an ICBM or dropped from a plane, but presumably a suitcase nuke), would there be any way to tell where it came from?

2) Iraq could resume its aggressive stance with renewed power. What happens with the following scenario: Iraq announces it has nukes. Then it reinvades Kuwait. The formulation changes quite a bit from the Gulf War then, doesn't it?

You get the idea. The only danger of Iraq achieving nuclear power isn't a direct, imminent threat to the US. There are very real regional dangers and ramifications to long-term proliferation.

And Barry writes: "Setting the middle east on fire could be useful."

You mean it isn't already? I'm being a bit flip of course, but the point is, the Middle East isn't exactly an oasis of peace and tranquility.

Matt McIrvin ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2002, 12:19 AM:

As I see it, about the best outcome that could arise from inspections plus sanctions plus deterrence is a less dangerous version of the status quo, arbitrarily prolonged: Hussein stays in power, no longer much of a threat to his neighbors. There is no large regional war; we don't have to blow up anyone except maybe in the no-fly zones. And the population of Iraq continue to starve in large numbers under Hussein's manipulation of the sanctions.

This is far from the worst thing that could happen with Iraq. It might even be the best option we can manage. It wouldn't involve *directly* visiting any more destruction on Iraq, which is a major advantage from a moral standpoint. The proximate responsibility for the suffering of the Iraqi people would continue to rest on Saddam Hussein.

But I guarantee that great suffering and death would continue to result from the situation, Hussein would continue to exaggerate it even beyond the reality, and (however unfairly) the United States would continue to be accused of genocide. The current situation is already used as a grievance by anti-American terrorists and demagogues, and this would continue unchanged, both in the Middle East and in the European left.

We might consider ourselves to have done the right thing, but nobody else will. (The most visible American antiwar movement seems to have grown out of a movement to end the sanctions altogether, which in my opinion would be much more dangerous.)

I'm not even convinced that there *is* a course of action that will get us in international good graces at this point, other than dying some more so we can be noble victims.

Andrew Brown ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2002, 03:41 PM:

The point about deterrence is that it's not just, or primarily, a cold war strategy. Tt's a universal principle of social relations, among animals as much as human beings. Any animal capable of thinking about the future is capable of being frightened by foreseeable consequences. This was true long before nukes, and will continue to be true in all sorts of situations where they are irrelevant. It's not infallible. People do misjudge the consequences of their actions; or they gamble and lose. But there are some consequences so catastrophic that people will do almost anything to avoid them, and the American nuclear arsenal (probably the Israeli one too) guarantees truly catastrophic consequences to Iraq, or to Saddam, if he starts anything nuclear.

There is no course of action at present which is obviously or certainly right. None will avoid death and suffering. I think that the worst possible outcome of the present situation is a long, slow war, with tens of thousands of civilians killed along with a sufficient number of American troops to dishearten opinion in the USA, and enhearten its enemies. More imaginative people could come up with worse outcomes, most of them involving Israel.

You (we) have gotten away with Afghanistan so far, by having no troops on the ground to attack, leaving Karzai to twist in the wind, and handing everything outside our armed bases over to the gangsters who ran it before. But -- assuming victory in Iraq, that's not going to be an option there. Not only will the war be fought on the ground by American troops and not by proxies. they will also have to occupy the country and maintain order there for the next ?five ?ten years. Who are the alternatives? Turks?

I don't have any sense — though I may be quite wrong — that the American people are prepared, psychologically, to become the occupying power in larger and larger parts of the Middle East. But I see nothing and no one which can save them from that role if this war goes ahead.

Derek James ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2002, 04:11 PM:

Yeah, Andrew...I understand what deterrence is, and how it works.

My point is, it only works under the following assumptions:

1) Both parties are rational and interested in self-survival
2) The source of the attack is verifiable

You didn't answer any of the points made in my post above. If Iraq shares nukes with a non-state entity that doesn't adhere to principle number one, deterrence doesn't work. If Iraq is able to smuggle a nuke into the US (via Iraqi intelligence or a third party) and detonate it, there ain't gonna be much evidence to sift through. There's going to be one big-ass nuclear slag heap instead of a city full of people. What are we going to do then, nuke every country we suspect?

Mutually Assured Destruction falls apart as weapons become more prolific, dispersing to more and more state and non-state actors, some of which aren't especially interested in individual self-preservation.

Andrew Brown ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2002, 04:40 AM:

Well, assumption (1) seems to me to hold in the case of Saddam. I don't know about rationality, but no one without a keen interest in survival could possibly have survived in his position. The simple fact that he will agree to the latest UN resolution shows he is not suicidal.

(2) I think that for the moment Iraq is the one country which remains deterred by the prospect of anyone nuking America, even though it has no nukes of its own, and hence cannot be responsible if a bomb takes out Detroit tomorrow. Everyone will blame Saddam anyway, because he has become the focus of all American's anger and fear about terrorism.
But the real danger for that sort of thing comes from — I'd have thought — the Ukraine, Pakistan, and North Korea. I agree it is a very serious problem. But I don't see that invading Iraq will make it less serious. On the contrary, the moral I would draw, were I the military dictator of Luxembourg, would be that I must at all costs get my own nukes quickly. Iraq will shortly be invaded because it has no nukes. North Korea will not be invaded — despite being a regime every bit as obnoxious — because it does have a couple. It doesn't have enough to manage a policy of mutually asured destruction: that is the special limiting case of deterrence. But it does have enough to deter.

Deterrence isn't an absolute condition, but a relative one. A man who has nothing to lose can't be deterred: that's the basic argument for not backing mad dictators into a corner, unless you are absolutely certain that Scott Ritter is right, and Iraq has no means of unconventional retaliation.

I do agree with you about the importance and the urgency of keeping nukes out of the hands of terrorist. I don't know, though, that an invasion of Iraq will make that easier or more likely. In the long run, that can't be done by force alone (nor without any force whatever). No power can treat the whole world the way the Israelis treat the West Bank. Behaving as the US did in Germany or Japan post 1945 seems to me a different and much more admirable matter. But you're not doing that in Afghanistan and I don't feel very confident that this will happen in Iraq. How big an empire can America afford? I don't know the answer either, but I'm worried that we're all going to find out that the answer, as for all previous empires, will be "one rather smaller than what we have taken on".

Simon Shoedecker ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2002, 07:01 PM:

To Thomas Nephew and Matt McIrvin: If these folks were advocating going to war against Iraq before 9/11, I didn't hear it. Citations would be nice, if it's not too much trouble.

I rather think that if they'd been advocating it loudly and urgently, they would have gotten attention, at least as much attention as the last UN inspector got when he, after leaving Iraq under protest for the last time several years ago, claimed that Iraq was very close to getting nukes. (A claim he has since rescinded, but apparently refuses to explain why, and yes, I've read the long Washington Post interview with him.)

At any rate, they'd better have been crying out for this loudly and urgently, at least since the UN inspectors left, because if the Cheney-types believe that Saddam is as close to bomb-making as they are now saying, and if they believe getting rid of him is so vital a world interest and actively urgent a need, to have not been crying out loudly and urgently for a long time amounts to criminal negligence.

In that case, to have been selling him equipment after the Gulf War also amounts to criminal negligence. Mr. Cheney, please call your criminal defense attorney.

Derek James ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2002, 10:38 AM:

Here you go, Simon. Plenty of Bush and Cheney rhetoric from the 2000 campaign trail, calling for the forcible removal of Hussein:


Gore defended the administration's handling of Iraq's Saddam Hussein. Bush, whose father was president during the Persian Gulf War, declared that the "coalition against Saddam is unraveling ... sanctions are being violated." If Saddam is developing weapons of mass destruction, he said, "There are going to be consequences if I'm president."


But Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush -
- whose father put together the international
coalition that drove Iraqi troops from Kuwait nine
years ago -- has advocated a more aggressive stand
against Baghdad, with Bush campaign advisors wondering
why more was not done during the Clinton/Gore years to
oust the Iraqi leader. The Bush team has called the
Clinton/Gore policy toward Iraq a debacle.


Responding to a question about the stalemate with Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, Cheney -- who was defense secretary during the 1991 Gulf War that ousted Iraq from Kuwait -- said a Bush administration might "have to take military action to forcibly remove Saddam from power."

and from the same article:

On Iraq, Cheney said the United States should seriously consider a military attack on Iraq if there was evidence that it was developing weapons of mass destruction.

He noted the coalition which defeated Iraq in 1991 was weaker today, with Arab states reopening diplomatic ties with Baghdad and U.N. inspectors no longer in Iraq to monitor its arms program.

"If in fact Saddam Hussein were taking steps to try to rebuild nuclear capability or weapons of mass destruction you'd have to give very serious consideration to military action to stop that activity," said Cheney.

"I don't think you can afford to have a man like Saddam Hussein with nuclear weapons in the Middle East," he added.

Thomas Nephew ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2002, 12:01 PM:

Mr. Shoedecker,

The Bush administration was initially as divided on Iraq as the Clinton one before it. Looking back on the summer, they stayed fairly divided for a while there. As Mr. James shows, there were pre-election, on the record, Iraq-hawk statements from Bush and Cheney; there are probably ones by Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld, too. But just like the Clinton administration, there were and are voices who've supported a go-slow, "dove" approach of more or less aggressive containment and sanctions.

Prominent Clinton administration hawks were Gore, Indyk, Albright; Berger "saw both sides" according to Pollack. On the theory that actions speak louder than words, here are some "citations" from the Clinton years:

--Oct 1994: Op. Vigilant Warrior: ~45000 troops, beaucoup ships rushed to Kuwait to counter Iraqi buildup.
--Sept 1996: Cruise missile attacks, expanded no-fly zone responding to anti-Kurdish campaign
--Dec 1998: Op. Desert Fox: 4 day bombardment of Iraqi security forces installations. Inspections remain blocked after bombardment.
--Dec 1998: Clinton announces "regime change" objective; Iraqi National Congress supported.

Pollack claims the Kosovo campaign took the wind out of the "Iraqi National Congress + air strikes" plan -- the plan Republicans wanted, and may still incorrectly wish for. But Kosovo almost didn't work, and people had no enthusiasm for repeating the process. Needless to say, there were plenty of other political fires to put out throughout the 90s: Bosnia in the early 90s, the 94 election, the impeachment proceedings, embassy bombings in Tanzania and Kenya. Otherwise the Iraq issue may have come to a head sooner.

All this is to say, in all too roundabout a way: not only were Bush people considering this course of action before the election, I think it's not unlikely Gore people would be considering the same actions now if they had been elected.

In general, Pollack writes that US officials (principally in the Bush I administration) wrongly believed (or perhaps simply hoped) that Saddam would fall without much US effort after 1991, and Saddam wrongly believed the US would give up on inspections and containment after 1991. This seems about right to me. But I don't have a citation for it.

Derek James ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2002, 12:23 PM:

Thomas is absolutely right. Bush and Cheney weren't the only side hawkish on Iraq well before 9/11:

BBC (June 2000): "Gore: Saddam Must Go"

There can be no peace for the Middle East so long as Saddam is in a position to brutalise his people and threaten his neighbours.

And from this article from the Washington Post:

There are now signs that Vice President Gore is trying to distance himself from the administration's Iraq policy. He has agreed to meet with INC representatives in Washington on June 26 and recently told an audience of the America Israel Public Affairs Committee, "It is our policy to see Saddam Hussein gone."

An adviser to the Gore campaign, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the Democratic candidate is eager to communicate that "although there may be hesitations" within the administration about the wisdom of aggressively backing the Iraqi opposition, "he doesn't share these."

The adviser emphasized, however, that Gore is under no illusions about the difficulty of dislodging Saddam Hussein and regards the opposition plan as but one of a number of potential avenues for doing so. "It's important to create . . . many elements in the equation," the adviser said. "Some elements may be more viable than others, but there's no way of knowing that until they're tested."

Simon Shoedecker ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2002, 06:18 PM:

Those are very interesting, but most of them sound remarkably cautious and judicious, compared to the inflated rhetoric of more recent times.

And if this is so - that these folks have always been calling for Saddam's removal (his immediate removal? some of them, from this; but some of them not) - then why did Rumsfeld claim, in testimony before Congress, that 9/11 "changed everything" in this matter?

Derek James ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2002, 10:41 PM:

Simon, in the spirit of reciprocation, can you cite a few instances of this "inflated rhetoric" you're talking about?

Because it seems to me that the Bush Administration's rhetoric has been remarkably consistent and measured on this issue.

Simon Shoedecker ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2002, 01:18 AM:

If you want to call me rude names for not being willing to scour the web for this, go ahead. (Notice, though, that I didn't demand sources from anybody else.) But I find googling for things whose wording I'm not sure of (like exact quotes that I don't know) or specific needles in very broad haystacks (like "bush iraq") to be a very tiresome process.

But from what I recall reading in the news at the time, here's what I'd call inflated rhetoric:

1) The use of the concept delicately termed "regime change" as the minimum acceptable solution for a problem which previous rhetoric (including much of what's quoted above) found solvable less drastically, and which even the latest UN resolution (endorsed by Bush!) falls short of demanding;

2) The claim, made not by Bushies but by commenters on various weblogs, that only the perversity of France was stopping the entire world from forming a posse to go get Saddam;

3) The statement by Rumsfeld before Congress, when asked why the sudden change in policy, sneeringly asking the Congressional questioner if he was aware of what happened on 9/11, as if that had anything to do with Iraq;

4) The desperate and failed attempts by the administration to tie Iraq to 9/11;

5) Various statements, made by Cheney and others, to the effect that Saddam is very close to getting nuclear weapons, so close that he must have been working on this for years (which indeed the US has known and publicly stated), which comport very oddly with the relative lack of urgency even in the above-posted quotes (yes, if the danger is that near, even the above-posted quotes sound non-urgent); not to mention widely-circulated quotes, allegedly from Cheney circa 1996, to the effect that removing Saddam would be a solution worse than the problem; not to mention that Cheney was selling things to Saddam not too many years before that;

6) The absolutely appalling comment by GWB to the effect that he's gonna get the guy who tried to kill his dad. (I appreciate your desire for private vengeance, sir, but would you mind not putting the US at war, and maybe risking blowing up the entire world, in the process?)

Derek James ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2002, 01:56 PM:

You mean I have permission to call you bad names now? Cool.

You find Googling tiresome. Well yeah, it is tiresome. But when you level accusations, particularly regarding people's rhetoric, it never hurts to actually give examples of what you're talking about.

It's pretty clear from the citations above that as candidates, Bush and Cheney (and Gore) were all calling for a harder line on Saddam Hussein, saying that compliance with UN resolutions was necessary or military force would be used to oust him.

Your "examples" of "inflated rhetoric" are quite honestly ridiculous. Various weblogs are commenting on the perversity of France? Huh? Are you holding Bush and Cheney accountable for blogger commentary now, too?

You seem to want to think the Bush Administration fabricated this position out of whole cloth after 9/11. They didn't. You're flat-out wrong in suggesting that they have.

Simon Shoedecker ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2002, 10:51 PM:

Derek: Well, I gave examples. I didn't give citations. You can find them yourself if you're so eager. I view this as an informal discussion, akin to one we might have in person, rather than an exchange of articles for Foreign Affairs.

And I didn't blame Bush for what the bloggers say. I attributed that to the bloggers. That's what I wrote.

Most importantly, I'm not claiming, and never claimed, that the whole position of putting additional pressure on Saddam was invented whole cloth by Bush post-9/11.

What I claimed was, first, that the "we must destroy Saddam right now! right this minute! he's gonna drop a bomb on us tomorrow if we don't!" position suddenly popped up with no warning post-9/11. Your and others' citations have done something, but not very much, to counter this;

Second, that the unilateralist position is entirely new;

Third, that previous commentators on this problem were aware of the difficulty of reconstructing Iraq afterwards, and of the likelihood that solving this problem will only lead to worse problems, but that the Bush administration is entirely ignoring this in its commentary, and reinforcing that by its complete lack of interest in cleaning up the last mess it left behind, in Afghanistan.

Derek James ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2002, 11:46 AM:

Simon writes: "What I claimed was, first, that the "we must destroy Saddam right now! right this minute! he's gonna drop a bomb on us tomorrow if we don't!" position suddenly popped up with no warning post-9/11."

Gee, is this a direct quote? Who's been saying this sort of thing, or anything even remotely close to it?

"Second, that the unilateralist position is entirely new;"

Unilateralist? I've seen the Bush Administration do nothing but work within the framework of international diplomacy.

"Third, that previous commentators on this problem were aware of the difficulty of reconstructing Iraq afterwards, and of the likelihood that solving this problem will only lead to worse problems, but that the Bush administration is entirely ignoring this in its commentary..."

From the Washington Times:

"Clearly there are a lot of senior people in this administration who are focused on what a post-Saddam Hussein Iraq would be like," said Clarke at a press conference. "But it's too soon to say what the specific tasks might be."
"To get to that situation will take time. It will be very hard. It will clearly involve a multinational effort."

Doesn't sound to me like they're ignoring the pitfalls and difficulties of rebuilding Iraq and dealing with the consequences of using force.

Simon Shoedecker ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2002, 05:10 PM:

Derek: Oh, come on. Are you really pretending these positions haven't been occupied?

Derek James ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2002, 06:16 PM:

1) Yes.
2) I'm not pretending.

Bush has consistently maintained, well before 9/11, that Iraq, and the rest of the world, would be better off without Saddam Hussein. He's likewise stated that we might have to be the one's to accomplish this if Hussein continues to fail to comply with international will. And that's exactly what's happened.

Point me to some of the hoot-and-hollerin', chicken little rhetoric you're so determined to put in the mouths of the Bush Administration or simply admit that there's absolutely no merit to your misrepresentations.