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June 3, 2003

Paul Krugman:
It’s no answer to say that Saddam was a murderous tyrant. I could point out that many of the neoconservatives who fomented this war were nonchalant, or worse, about mass murders by Central American death squads in the 1980s. But the important point is that this isn’t about Saddam: it’s about us. The public was told that Saddam posed an imminent threat. If that claim was fraudulent, the selling of the war is arguably the worst scandal in American political history—worse than Watergate, worse than Iran-contra. Indeed, the idea that we were deceived into war makes many commentators so uncomfortable that they refuse to admit the possibility.

But here’s the thought that should make those commentators really uncomfortable. Suppose that this administration did con us into war. And suppose that it is not held accountable for its deceptions, so Mr. Bush can fight what Mr. Hastings calls a “khaki election” next year. In that case, our political system has become utterly, and perhaps irrevocably, corrupted.a0

Feeling uncomfortable? Find yourself wanting to immediately dismiss this as partisan extremism? In the words of South Knox Bubba: Well, then. [12:30 AM]
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Hard-Hitting Moderator: Teresa Nielsen Hayden.

Comments on Paul Krugman::

Hal O'Brien ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2003, 02:35 AM:

Since Krugman is saying pretty much what I've said all along, no, I don't think this is either extreme or partisan.

I predicted back in March we wouldn't find any WMD, because there were none to be found. The tendency of Los Amigos Arbusto to stall, cajole, and completely deny any obligation to provide evidence during the long build up to the war ("The burden is on Iraq to prove they've disarmed." -- a "Have you stopped beating your wife yet?" question if ever there was one.) was hardly reassuring. A battle plan where our soldiers good and true were dangled in front of the Iraqis to be burned by WMD if they genuinely existed -- but, of course, were completely safe because we knew they didn't -- was also more than a hint of how real the Administration thought the threat was.

I think John McCain had it right in South Carolina: Bush consistently "twists the truth" to what suits him. I think he does that more than any president since Harding... and, yes, I know there's some stiff competition between here and there. From both parties.

Somehow, George has risen to the challenge, he said ruefully.

Andrew Brown ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2003, 04:40 AM:

It;s worth noticing that Hastings is himself an old-fashioned conservative imperialist, who made his name reporting in the Falklands and who escued the Daily Telegraph, as editor. His complaints can't be dismissed as pinko bleatings.

Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2003, 07:48 AM:

I never really thought there were WMD (and I happen to hate that term, the only WMD out there is The Bomb. The others may be weapons of mass killing, but they tend t be area denial weapons. I digress).

I have said for at least a year, that were I Hussein, I would've both destroyed the weapons, and the programs and screwed with the inspectors.

His claim to glory, in the Arab World came from taunting and beating the Great Satan. If he could make a legitimate claim to having fulfiled the criteria, and still show he was a target of The West, he could be a Saladin, fighting us off.

And if we attacked him for real, then he could point to our unwillingness to believe him, say it was all an imperial plot.

Terry

Nicholas Weininger ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2003, 11:10 AM:

While I basically agree with Krugman's point here, I think he's writing as if this sort of corruption and lying were new in American politics, and this strikes me as clearly wrong. Lying us into war is a very old game, and often not a Republican game. Two words: Tonkin Gulf. (I might add "Pearl Harbor", too, but then I'm a kooky radical revisionist anarchist).

Now, depending on your temperament, you can take this as heartening-- look, this sort of thing has been happening for decades and we've survived, Bush is just giving us more of the same; or you can take it as depressing-- damn, we've been going down this rotten road for decades, it'll take decades more to reverse course. I tend to oscillate back and forth.

Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2003, 11:43 AM:

None of the conspiracy theories ever sugguest that FDR made up the threat from Imperial Japan.

Similarly, the Gulf of Tonkin incident took place well after the US was deeply embroiled in a real shooting war in Vietnam.

This thing gives ever sign of having an agressive, shooting war against the US's long term policy interests to serve the short term domestic political agenda of a particular party. That's novel, and I think Mr. Krugman has understated the severity of the matter.

Sinboy ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2003, 11:55 AM:

Well, Rumsfeld tells us that the real reason was that our parking meter was running out in S.A. , and no one nearby would let us park our troops. So we invaded Iraq in order to find a new place to house the US occupying forces in Arabia.

I can't imagine why he didn't try selling that to the US public, can you?

Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2003, 12:18 PM:

"And suppose that it is not held accountable for its deceptions."

Big war news on CBS's morning show: Returning soldier is allowed to take his German shepherd, Fluffy, home with him.

"Suppose"?!?!?!?!?!!!

Alex Steffen ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2003, 01:10 PM:

Gee, and do you think that the FCC ruling to allow the media equivilant of a one-party-state will help bring any of the Administration's lies and manipulations to the fore?

I think the 2004 election will ("if held", my cynical side pipes up) be the most important in our nation's history. I think we're all going to have to put aside a big chunk of whatever else we had planned to do in 2004 and help replace this unelected, hereditary ruler the Republican supremes put over us.

But you know what makes me angriest, as a good progressive? That rhetoric like this (which I don't like, as a rule) is a completely appropriate and accurate assessment of the situation. It's that dire.

Ikram Saeed ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2003, 11:46 PM:

Krugman better watch it. He's in danger of becoming our era's Mark Twain. (1898 proved Americans are willing to fight war on false pretenses.) Becoming Mark Twain might produce good writing, but its torture for the soul. Twain was so bitter when he died.

Krugman should take a break and renew his faith in Americans and humanity.

Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2003, 09:04 AM:

You seem to have managed to leave out how very, very right Twain was, about slavery, about the costs of stupid policies in the Phillipines, and about the general human willingness for self delusion.

You have also managed to leave out his personal circumstances, which might well have made a minor saint bitter; few parents would pass lightly over having a child so cruelly pre-decease them.

So, basically, you've come up with a plausible sounding and totally vaccous way to say 'Paul Krugman complains to much, it's bad for him, he should stop.'

Duty is duty, especially when it has costs.

Ulrika O'Brien ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2003, 10:54 AM:

You go, Graydon. I thank heaven for Krugman on an almost daily basis. He's continually pointing out the Emperor has no clothes, and that is voice that we need. Especially in the major media.

Nicholas Weininger ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2003, 11:00 AM:

Points taken on Tonkin and Pearl Harbor-- but Ikram gave an even better example with his reference to the Spanish-American War. I think that one meets the standard of "an aggressive, shooting war against the US's long term policy interests to serve the short term domestic political agenda of a particular party." Some, indeed, would argue that the Spanish-American war was the Big Turning Point between republic and empire.

So: not just decades worth of course to reverse, but an entire century. Whee.

PDM ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2003, 11:10 AM:

Actually, it goes back to the first Euro settelers........

Alan Bostick ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2003, 02:02 PM:

My favorite "Bush is stupid" joke:

The reason for the invasion was that George W. Bush is so clueless about geography that he thought that Iraq is in Central America.

yehudit ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2003, 10:32 PM:

"put aside a big chunk of whatever else we had planned to do in 2004 and help replace this unelected, hereditary ruler the Republican supremes put over us."

I voted for Gore. I followed the post-election brouhaha closely and it seemed to me that Gore won.

However. Whether Gore or Bush "won" Florida, it was with a few hundred votes. That means for all intents and purposes half the people who voted, voted for Bush. It's not like he was an unpopular candidate who staged a coup. He was just as popular as the guy who "won."

So "unelected, hereditary ruler the Republican supremes put over us" is ridiculous. But par for the rhetoric at this site.

I've written reams on the WMD argument and I won't repeat here, except to say that there were always 4-5 reasons to depose Saddam, all those reasons were public for the past year and a half, and when you add them all up it makes a compelling case. And that the UN believed Saddam still had WMDs, or they wouldn't have sent inspectors back in.

I understand why the antiwar movement wants to make as much hay out of the WMDs as possible, but there isn't much hay to be made, and the American public knows that.

yehudit ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2003, 10:48 PM:

about the Wolfowitz misquote: You're late to the party, Patrick - this one's been thoroughly debunked. Many links here:

http://hobbsonline.blogspot.com/2003_06_01_hobbsonline_archive.html#95297402

yehudit ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2003, 10:53 PM:

This one too:
http://www.townhall.com/columnists/richlowry/rl20030603.shtml

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2003, 12:26 AM:

"About the Wolfowitz misquote: You're late to the party, Patrick"

I realize that Yehudit is on a personal crusade to prove what a terrible person I am, but this is a bit much, since I have in fact said more or less nothing about the various controversial Wolfowitz quotes emerging lately in the world press. (Okay, I did remark to a friend in AIM this afternoon that the Administration may want to put a muzzle on that boy, but I don't believe I was addressing Yehudit at the time.)

Anyway, anyone silly enough to be intimidated by Yehudit, who posts links to her favored ranters as if they constitute proof of anything, should certainly check out Josh Marshall's reportage before taking the "Pentagon transcript" of the Wolfowitz interview at face value. Executive summary: Liar, liar, pants on fire.

Barry ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2003, 09:26 AM:

From Nicholas Weininger (re: falsehoods as reasons for wars):

Now, depending on your temperament, you can take this as heartening-- look, this sort of thing has been happening for decades and we've survived, Bush is just giving us more of the same; or you can take it as depressing-- damn, we've been going down this rotten road for decades, it'll take decades more to reverse course. I tend to oscillate back and forth.


The biggest reason for dismay, IMHO, is that the time from start of war to causus belli debunked was really short - from March to the present. It's customary to have a full-fledged, months-to-years-long war in between, with another breather between end-of-war and the time that the facts come to light.

But it still doesn't matter.

James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2003, 09:32 AM:

"mass murders by Central American death squads in the 1980s"

Oh, give me this. I was there, on the ground, talking directly with the people running the death squads (at least some of them) in CentAm, 1984-1988.

Mass murders?

Nah, those were one-at-a-time murders. None of the Round Up Everyone In Town And Machinegun Them Then Bury the Bodies In Trenches Dug With Bulldozers mass murders that Krugman wants to compare them to. The biggest one that I personally recall was six at once.

It was also difficult to tell the difference between the murders committed by the death squads, the murders committed by the rebels, the murders committed by the bandits, and the murders committed by the narcotraficantes. People trying to make political points often roll them all together. (Those four groups could and did overlap and ally in various ways, too, sort of like the Wehrmacht, the Partisans, the Ustachi, and the Chetniks in Yugoslavia during WWII. The scene was -- confused.) It's also ignoring the difference between murders committed by Army personnel as a matter of state policy and murders committed by Army personnel because they were bored, drunk, or angry and knew that they were exempt from prosecution.

During all of which the US government (at least my little part of it) was busily doing its best to put a stop to the death squads.

David Moles ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2003, 09:45 AM:

Jim, that's actually one of the most cheering things I've heard about US foreign policy in several years. Thanks.

Phil ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2003, 01:22 PM:

The tendency of Los Amigos Arbusto to stall, cajole, and completely deny any obligation to provide evidence during the long build up to the war ("The burden is on Iraq to prove they've disarmed." -- a "Have you stopped beating your wife yet?" question if ever there was one.)

Without comment on the larger question, it should be noted that the requirement that Iraq show evidence of its disarmament was a requirement of the United Nations, not the Bush Administration, which is why Blix was there in the first place.

Copeland Morris ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2003, 12:25 AM:

James Macdonald is minimalizing the horrors that took place in El Salvador and elsewhere in Central America. Bodies were regularly dumped in ravines and left in San Salvador as calling cards. The Death Squads regularly pulled workers of buses, and disappeared them. Villages were razed. And DEAR GOD!, that comment about the U.S. government doing its best to stop it. The military and para-military were schooled in the USA.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2003, 09:18 AM:

James Macdonald is talking about his own experience; his post was demonstrably careful to specify when and what he was talking about.

Jim is a close friend of mine. We've had several conversations about the 1980s in Central America, in none of which could he be said to be trying to "minimize" the ugliness of those various entanglements. Quite the contrary. To put it mildly.

Just because someone remarks that a particular generalization doesn't match their experience doesn't mean that they're taking a "line" or pursuing an agenda ("minimizing the horrors that took place in El Salvador and elsewhere in Central America"). If we want our political perceptions to be sharp and useful, we need to pay attention to first-hand reports, even if those first-hand reports do make our sweeping generalizations a little harder.

MadJayhawk ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2003, 01:57 AM:

The "finding WMD" controversy is just another political football that has been kicked into the air by those who seem to totally ignorant of the fact that Clinton (both of them), Daschle, and a whole lot more distinguished Democratic members of Congess said many times that Iraq had WMD and that the 15 members of the UN Security Council voted to send inspection teams into Iraq, not to find WMD, but supervise their destruction. This is just another attempt to smear the President. It is a risky attempt because there is about a year and a half that can be used to find out what happened to the WMD. If they are found or an pausible explanation as to where they went is given, those that are joyfully smearing the President now might find that the egg they are trying to apply to President Bush's face may blow back into theirs.

Was there anyone (a country or their intelligence community for example), besides the first poster above, who seriously said Iraq did not have WMD prior to the war?

Assuming that all these people and countries, except for the first poster above, were right, what happened to the WMDs? That is the central question that really should be asked.

We might have a serious problem if the WMDs were given, as were Iraq's air force was, to another country or group. If the WMDs were buried or hidden they need to be found and properly destroyed. That takes time. If they were destroyed by Iraq, where are the records that demonstrate this?

In my mind, there is no question that Iraq had WMD and had the capabilities to develop and produce WMD. Hussein needed such weapons to balance the fact that his military was totally incapable of modern military operations. He needed them to use against or to threaten the rebellious elements within Iraq as well. The fact that he had them or could easily develop them is a threat to the US or its allies given the fact that the man and his sons were madmen.

MadJayhawk ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2003, 02:17 AM:

I voted for Gore. I followed the post-election brouhaha closely and it seemed to me that Gore won.

However. Whether Gore or Bush "won" Florida, it was with a few hundred votes. That means for all intents and purposes half the people who voted, voted for Bush. It's not like he was an unpopular candidate who staged a coup. He was just as popular as the guy who "won."

So "unelected, hereditary ruler the Republican supremes put over us" is ridiculous. But par for the rhetoric at this site.
==================================
Denial is not just a river in Egypt. Many people on the extreme left have a serious case of it.

Most of them also have a total ignorance of basic civics. Presidents are elected, not by popular vote, but by the Electoral College. President Bush received the majority of votes in the Electoral College as called for in our constitution. Gore did not even receive a majority of the popular vote. Clinton didn't either in both of his elections. Gore should have won but didn't because he ran the 2nd worst political campaign in presidental election history (GB 41 ran the worst IMO). He didn't win because he couldn't carry his home state of Tennessee. The Florida electoral votes would have been icing on the cake for him if he had won Tennessee. Most presidential candidates carry their home states even in lopsided landslides. Gore is a suberb debater but got beat 2 out of 3 times by someone who can't string 2 conherent sentences in a row together. Gore was administratively outgunned and outlawyered in Florida when the chips were down. Gore foolishly micromanaged a team of people he barely knew from Washington DC while Bush turned his army of local lawyers over to an experienced team of leaders that he personally knew that got the job done for him. Gore only won one major court battle I believe. The Democratic FL Supreme Court tried to change FL election laws for him. Its rulings were rightfully found to be unconstitutional. Bush won. It has been 3 years. Democrats should get over it.

Ulrika O'Brien ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2003, 02:40 AM:

Was there anyone (a country or their intelligence community for example), besides the first poster above, who seriously said Iraq did not have WMD prior to the war?

Scott Ritter. Especially if by WMD you mean the only real ones, i.e. nukes. Not that he was in a position to know, or anything.

Bryant ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2003, 07:34 AM:

Was there anyone (a country or their intelligence community for example), besides the first poster above, who seriously said Iraq did not have WMD prior to the war?

Seems to me that Hans Blix spent a lot of time saying that he needed more time to investigate before coming to a conclusion. I'm still waiting for any of the warhawks to apologize for the mockery directed at him.

Dennis Slater ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2003, 10:18 PM:

Was there anyone (a country or their intelligence community for example), besides the first poster above, who seriously said Iraq did not have WMD prior to the war?

Scott Ritter. Especially if by WMD you mean the only real ones, i.e. nukes. Not that he was in a position to know, or anything.

Scott Ritter has some serious credibility problems. He has become the poster boy for the anti-war left and is making a good living doing that. I do not regard him as an authority on Iraq's WMD capabilities and he is not a member of the intelligence community and has not been a part of the inspection process for over 5 years.

Seems to me that Hans Blix spent a lot of time saying that he needed more time to investigate before coming to a conclusion. I'm still waiting for any of the warhawks to apologize for the mockery directed at him.

Let me see if I can understand this. At one point in 2001, Blix said Iraq had WMD (http://www.iraqwatch.org/un/unmovic/unmovic-blix-2-19-01.htm) and then, at another point, he publicaly backed off from that and asked that sanctions be removed.

It seems strange to me that he accepted the post as chief UN inspector to verify the destruction of the WMD he said Iraq did not have. Is there a problem here or is it just my skeptical nature to think that this man has a credibility problem too? The mockery directed at him could be well deserved.

Scott Ritter, Hans Blix, France, and a high ranking British MP named Galloway called for the UN to remove the sanctions against Iraq. These people all came to believe Iraq's claim that Iraq did not have WMD after insisting at one point that Iraq did. Only Galloway and France have been found to have received money or promises of contracts from Iraq in exhange for support of removal of sanctions. Paralepsis at work here?