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July 14, 2003

Don’t bother me with the facts: Kevin Drum is on fire today, responding to the Wall Street Journal’s claim that “intelligence is supposed to be a tool of policy, not a determiner of it”:
It’s hard to understand the mindset of someone who would write something like this. To be sure, policymakers are the ones who direct intelligence agencies, but that’s not what’s at issue here. The question is, once they’ve been directed, and once they’ve come back with a judgment, and once they’ve thrashed everything out time and again and nonetheless stuck to their guns on that judgment97should policymakers then override them? Because that’s what happened in this case.

It’s almost beyond belief that the WSJ pretends that it’s the Bush administration critics who are politicizing intelligence in this case. That is, it would be beyond belief to anyone who’s unfamiliar with the daily assaults on intellectual honesty that make up the WSJ editorial page. After all, today’s editorial finishes up with this:

Especially after 9/11 and in a world of WMD, the U.S. needs intelligence analysts willing to question their own assumptions, as well as policy makers willing to help them do it.
How much plainer can they be? Policymakers unhappy with the truth need to be willing to “help” intelligence analysts question their assumptions. The Orwellian overtones are hard to miss.
UPDATE: Or, in the words of Busy, Busy, Busy’s Shorter Wall Street Journal Editorial, “The task of America’s intelligence agencies is not to provide policy makers with reliable data but to fabricate evidence in support of administration policies which the public would reject if it knew the truth.” [02:26 PM]
Welcome to Electrolite's comments section.
Hard-Hitting Moderator: Teresa Nielsen Hayden.

Comments on Don't bother me with the facts::

Paul Riddell ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2003, 04:45 PM:

Shame on you all. How DARE you suggest that truth shouldn't be fluid. Admittedly, I used to think the same way as you, before I was abducted, put in this quaint Welsh resort villa, and renamed "Number Nine", but that doesn't affect my attitude in the slightest.

Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2003, 06:21 PM:

A perfectly reasonable case could be made for intelligence being a tool of policy:

If you're an arrogant, self-righteous ideologue who already knows what is true and what must be done -- perhaps because God told you -- then the product of your intelligence service is an important form of propaganda. Convincing intelligence is necessary to get your legislature to rubber stamp authorizations to use military force, and to provide pundits with talking points.

Also: Gas prices are falling *again*, the chocolate ration has been raised to 20 grams, and the real danger to world peace is Iran, especially after the discovery of that new oil field.

Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2003, 06:43 PM:

Bush's response today:

I think the intelligence I get is darn good intelligence.

And Ari Fleischer:

We don't know if it's true but nobody 97 but nobody 97 can say it was wrong.

You just can't make this stuff up . . .

the talking dog ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2003, 09:22 PM:

War is peace.
Ignorance is strength.

Shall we go for the trifecta?

MadJayhawk ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2003, 10:30 PM:

I cannot believe this. We have a President who takes bold, decisive action and gets rid of a tyrant who was a threat to his own countrymen, his neighbors, and to the world. The previous administration's policy was one of containment and while containment is not a bad policy in some situations containment in this case was not working. Oil for Food was a joke. Inspections were a joke.

If you do not view Iraq with a madman at the controls in Baghdad as a threat then you might consider what well-placed munitions in the oil fields and/or production facilities of Saudi Arabia would do to the world's economy and the stability in the Middle East. Was Saddam capable and willing to attack the Saudis? Where were the Republican Guard Divisions immediately after they took Kuwait in 1991? Defensive positions? I do not think so.

UN Resolution 1441 called for Saddam to unconditionally disarm. Those 14 other members of the UN that voted for that resolution thought that Saddam has WMD. If Saddam did not have WMD why didn't he just demonstrate that he destroyed them since the last inspection process that showed that he did have them? He was never serious about disarming and thought that he could deceive and bluster as he had for the previous 12 years. He had bluffed Clinton for 8 years and was on his way with France and Russia's help to getting sanctions lifted. Without sanctions he could rebuild his arsenal, his oil fields, his armies and again be a significant threat.

If our current intelligence concerning WMD was bad, so was the intel during the Clinton years, and so was the intel of many other countries. Not one country, Senator, Representative, anti-war group, or former President protested the war in Iraq because they thought Saddam did not have WMD. They all were convinced he did. Did Bush alone convince them of that? No.

I think that history will show that Bush made a courageous decision to rid the Middle East of a destabilizing factor. Iraq was a threat to its neighbors and was sponsoring terrorism. Is it a coincidence that there is a chance for peace between Isreal and the Palestinis? Is it a coincidence that Iran is moving towards a regime change? Is it a coincidence that there are significant changes occuring in Saudi Arabia, and Syria? Without the threat posed by the madman in Iraq's armies and WMD there had to be changes. Hopefully these changes will benefit the people in the region. There were dire predictions about what was going to happen in the Arab world as a result of our removing Saddam from power. Have any of them come to pass?

I think Bush took a huge gamble and it remains to be seen if it pays off. If any place in the world threatened world peace and world economic stability it was the middle east. To ignore it or to continue to try to contain it would be a risky solution. I think Clinton did a decent job in the ME, however what he was doing was not solving the problem on a long term basis. Bush 41 did a lousy job in the ME.

All the quibbling about lying, etc. is just that - quibbling. Petty , political, self-serving quibbling. The long term results are what counts. The jury is still out on that. Three or four months is too early to assess the success or failure of the war in Iraq. Grownups know that sometimes the ends justify the means.

Democrats would be better off to lie and wait while supporting the President and if the war creates a mess, they would have something worthwhile to run on. If the war helps the ME the Democrats do not have a chance in 2004.

RKB ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2003, 12:00 AM:

Sigh.

14 other members of the UN voted to resume inspections and then, depending on the results of those inspections, determine an appropriate course of action. The inspectors said they were finding no evidence of WMD, and would need more time. The administration disagreed with this appraisal.

Please do not forget that significantly fewer than 14 nations would have concurred, had the administration actually had the courage to put the "go to war" resolution to a vote. Instead, Bush chose to "boldly" bypass the UN and just go ahead and invade anyway; hence a certain reluctance from other countries (India, recently) to help clean up the mess. Did Bush alone convince them that war was the best solution? Obviously not.

So you don't get to invade Iraq if inspections go on forever, and you don't invade on old intelligence. You've don't actually have to declare war or anything, but you still need to present a case for sending American troops to invade a sovereign nation. Nobody disputes the fact that Hussein was a very bad man who did very bad things. There are many such leaders in the world, but you can't start a war with that argument.

The case that was most compelling -- and that was punctuated by the possiblity of a nuclear attack -- was that Hussein was poised on the brink with his weapons. Not that, given time, he "he could rebuild his arsenal," but that if we didn't take him out now he'd take us out. This was the approach taken by this administration and no other. Read the STOTU again -- he talks repeatedly about "defending the peace." This was sold as a war to protect America, not to stabilize the Middle East.

One could consider this all to be "quibbling" only if there was actually even the merest shred of evidence that there were ANY actual weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The fact that there haven't been any discoveries, coupled with the urgent pre-invasion rhetoric from the administration ("we can't wait for the inspectors to look EVERYWHERE because we KNOW he's got them and MIGHT USE THEM any minute now") makes this a valid point of contention.

In other words, if the intelligence was so flawless, where are the WMD? And if, as recent debate suggests, the intelligence maybe wasn't so perfectly accurate on this one "minor" point, perhaps it's worth investigating whether or not any of the other points were equally flawed.

edub ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2003, 12:01 AM:

OK, Madjayhawk, you've said a mouthful. Let's just take one sentence that stood out:

Iraq was a threat to its neighbors and was sponsoring terrorism.

Give me evidence of this, and I'll admit you have an argument.

Paul Riddell ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2003, 02:53 AM:

Of COURSE the intelligence Bush got was "pretty darn good"; God told him Himself. And if God is wrong on Iraq, then He could be wrong on His advice on the Israeli/Palestinian accords, and on Liberia, and on massive tax cuts stimulating the economy...sounds like it's the same God who was talking to Ronald Reagan.

Back ten years ago, Molly Ivins decried the number of God impersonators running around. She brought up a particular case in which Texas state troopers pulled over a station wagon blasting due east at 95 miles per hour. The station wagon was literally packed solid with naked men, women, and children: all were part of a millennialist Christian cult whose leader (in the car) said that God had told him that the End was coming soon. They were speeding because God said that Louisiana would be the only place spared in the coming Tribulations, and that they had to get there early to get a good spot, and they were naked because God said clothing was sinful.

Ivins' comment? "This was obviously the work of a God impersonator. God would never tell anyone to go to Louisiana."

MadJayhawk ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2003, 11:39 AM:

edub: I am going to have to better organize my list of links for those who do not know how to use Google. If I have the time and inclination today I will dig some information out for you today. Or I could, with a wink and a nod, ask for you to give me evidence he was not a threat to his neighbors.

Iraq had close to 750,000 regular army troops and reservists. It had large numbers of artillery and tanks. It had missiles in its arsenal or in development capable of reaching almost point in the middle east. Iraq had the capability and technological know-how to produce and weaponize chemical weapons. In the hands of a madman these forces are real threats since he had attacked two of his neighbors in the past. One of the reasons most of the countries in the region refused to allow the US to base troops in their countries prior to the war because they were afraid that they would be attacked by Iraq. Iraq was a serious destabilizing force in the Middle East.

Here's one link you can sink your teeth into - http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/world/iraq/deception.htm to get you started. Global Security has a ton of information and after reading all this information you can back into other interesting reports concerning Iraq's military, intelligence operations, etc. Once you see the extent of Iraq's military it is hard not to come to the conclusion it was a threat to its region.

And this is an interesting article that you may have missed: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2002/09/27/60minutes/main523604.shtml

MadJayhawk ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2003, 11:51 AM:

Ivins' comment? "This was obviously the work of a God impersonator. God would never tell anyone to go to Louisiana."

That is funny. I almost got fired by a god impersonator that I worked for at one time for saying something mean-spirited, degrading, and funny about people from Arkansas. I lived in Kansas at the time and the company was having an outbreak of acute political correctness.

In Kansas it is always open season on the poor folks unlucky enough to live in Arkansas or, worst, Oklahoma. It eases the pain of having to live in Kansas to be able to make fun of people living below you. They understand. I hope.

Dennis Slater ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2003, 12:30 PM:

RKB: Under the inspectors were not there to search for WMD. They were there to verify that the WMD that were there at one time had been destroyed.

By asking over and over and over again where are the WMD leads me to believe that the people asking this believe that Iraq did not have WMD. If that is the case two questions arise: (1) where did they go? (2) Why were they continuing to resist fully complying with Resolution 1441? Simply, if you are innocent why act guilty? If someone breaks into my house and holds a gun to my head and asks me "Where are the Oreo's?" I will quickly take them to my secret hiding place and show them where they are.

Let me say this. I live in the desert. Give me a bulldozer and 8 hours I can hide 40,000 pounds in a truck so no one will ever find it. In five years, I could dig it up and the truck and what is inside of it would be in perfect condition. It is not hard. The key to finding WMD is to find the people who know where it is. Iraq is a master of activities.

MadJayhawk ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2003, 12:36 PM:

I unsucessfully tried inserting some HTML in my last post to link to some information.

Here's a do-over:

RKB: Under UN Resolution 1441 (http://www.un.int/usa/sres-iraq.htm) the inspectors were not there to search for WMD. They were there to verify that the WMD that were there at one time had been destroyed.

By asking over and over and over again where are the WMD leads me to believe that the people asking this believe that Iraq did not have WMD. If that is the case two questions arise: (1) where did they go? (2) Why were they continuing to resist fully complying with Resolution 1441? Simply, if you are innocent why act guilty? If someone breaks into my house and holds a gun to my head and asks me "Where are the Oreo's?" I will quickly take them to my secret hiding place and show them where they are.

Let me say this. I live in the desert. Give me a bulldozer and 8 hours I can hide 40,000 pounds in a truck so no one will ever find it. In five years, I could dig it up and the truck and what is inside of it would be in perfect condition. It is not hard. The key to finding WMD is to find the people who know where it is. Iraq is a master of deception activities. http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/world/iraq/deception.htm

Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2003, 12:38 PM:

In a sense, the pro-war people are right: quibbling about the lies Bush told is a waste of time. Yes, he lied. Yes, it's kind of evident that he lied. And yes, sooner or later, the most pro-war of right-wing ideologues will have to acknowledge that Bush lied. (Admittedly, it may take twenty years.)

But that's not the big issue. The big issue is this: The invasion of Iraq set as a point of principle that the US has the right to invade any country it chooses, on any pretext it likes, without any reference to international law. And other countries can do nothing except refuse to cooperate, and be vilified for refusing: or cooperate, and get a pat on the head but no other reward.

The other big issue, related to the first: Camp Delta, aka Camp X-Ray, is a disturbing creation. It disturbs me, a non-American, but I feel strongly that it ought to disturb Americans, too: its existence declares to the rest of the world that so far as the US is concerned, no one but a citizen of the US is deemed to have the right to a fair trial in an open justice system.

Faced with those two big issues, I'm not really interested in quibbling over the lies Bush told.

Jon Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2003, 12:40 PM:

Small comment, MJH: the number you have for Iraq's standing army was the case in 1991, during Gulf War I. At the time of Gulf War II, the Iraqi army was actually roughly half that (around 380,000).

Sorry. It's the reference librarian in me. Carry on.

Adam Rice ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2003, 02:00 PM:

"It92s almost beyond belief that the WSJ pretends that it92s the Bush administration critics who are politicizing intelligence in this case "

On the contrary, it makes perfect sense. As they did with accusing their critics of "revisionist history", they are taking the stickiest accusation against them and pre-emptively flinging it in the faces of their accusers. This is roughly equivalent to the Johnny Cochrane's Chewbacca defense, as seen on South Park.

Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2003, 02:10 PM:

Dennis -- only if you happen to be very, very good at tunneling instead of excavating with that bulldozer, as well as a have a good place to put the spoil that is not in view of overhead surveillance. If (as is the case in Iraq) you have a high quality baseline set of imagery before you bury the trailer, it is almost impossible to hide that you did something there if you dig and fill. A significant change in the contour would be picked up by photogrammetry from U2 while both the change in contour and surface would be picked up (usually on the next pass) by orbital imagery. If you combine that with the charateristic patterns that show up on infrared imagery (especially shots taken right after sunset -- works really well in deserts) it is usually quite easy to detect that something has been buried there.

And this just doesn't cover technologies such as various forms of aerial radar and ground based technologies. All of which we have been using intensively for more than three months, in combination with a rich baseline based on years of arms inspections and overhead surveilance.

I would suggest the Purloined Letter as an alternative . . .

Yehudit ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2003, 03:27 PM:

I've been working on a post for my blog on just this topic - here's a sneak preview.

Whitewater redux. MoveOn has launched a serious media campaign and petition

asking Congress to create an independent commission to investigate whether the Bush Administration manipulated and distorted evidence to take the country to war in Iraq.
This is turning out to be the Bush administration's version of Whitewater: millions of taxpayer dollars spent for an investigation into nothing, just another attempt to harass the sitting administration. There is nothing Bush has said about Saddam's WMD capability that is not believed to be true by most international leaders, including UN officials, more UN officials, yet more UN officials, EU members, and current and former US and British officials including former president Clinton. (longest list of "we are worried about Saddam's WMDs" quotes.)

There is no way to make a case that "Bush lied." No one knows for sure what stage of WMD destruction or development Saddam was at when the war started, mostly because Saddam wasn't forthcoming. The war proceeded based on Saddam's repeated violation of UNSC Section 7 resolutions, thereby also breaching the 1991 ceasefire. If he didn't have them, why didn't he fully comply with the inspectors (as other nations have done) and avoid the war?

The "Bush lied" faction thinks we should have found the WMDs only 3 months after the end of the war, but the same people wanted to keep extending the deadlines for the UN inspectors to find them. Plus the fact that that we spent a year building a coalition and trying to place the war under the auspices of the UN, during which time Saddam knew we were coming and had plenty of time to hide or destroy the WMDs.

And although every administration has a propensity to give extra weight to information that supports its prejudices, you can't make a case that someone is "lying" based on a few intelligence sources not panning out. And critics of the administration have axes of their own to grind.

Then there's the selective memory of those who think the war was all about WMDs in the first place. As a commenter at Tacitus points out:

The Congressional resolution begins with 23 93whereas94es. Weapons of mass destruction are mentioned in nine of the clauses; terrorism is mentioned in six; enforcing UN resolutions is mentioned in five; no other cause of war is mentioned more than twice.

Some of the 93whereases94 list two or three rationales, some only one. If you do a sort of 93Most Valuable Argument94 breakdown, with full points if the casus belli is the only argument listed in the paragraph, and partial points if it shares the stage with one or two others, the results (in my tally at least) would be:

WMD: 50 points
Terrorism: 36 points
Enforcing UN resolutions: 19 points
Promoting regional security: 8 points
Enforcing past Congressional resolutions: 6 points
Iraq92s repression of civilians: 6 points
Promoting democracy: 3 points
Iraq92s attempt to assassinate former President Bush: 3 points
Iraq92s firing on Coalition forces enforcing no-fly zones: 3 points
Iraq92s wrongful detention of non-Iraqis (including Americans*): 2
Iraq92s failure to return seized Kuwaiti property: 2

So there's no question that WMD and terrorism were, overwhelmingly, the bases on which war was justified; human rights and democracy, combined, seem barely one tenth as significant.

However, "WMD" does not have a majority of points, and this list illustrates that Congress made its decision fully aware of a multiplicity of reasons to invade Iraq. Nor were these multiple reasons kept from the public. As a congressman points out:

. . . What makes the left's "find WMDs or else" argument even more curious is that for months we were told that the president was constantly changing his rationale for war, going from WMDs to Iraq's link to 9/11 and terrorism to human rights to regime change to introducing democracy into the Arab Middle East and back to WMDs again. The fact is, it was all those reasons, and yet the critics can now remember only one.

. . . The Bush administration understood that even if Saddam completely and verifiably disarmed, he would immediately restart his chemical, biological, and nuclear programs once U.S. forces departed the region and the world turned its attention to other matters. And within a few years, Saddam would likely have a nuclear bomb, which is precisely why President Bush was right to equate disarmament in any permanent sense with regime change. The inspections regime pushed by France, Germany, and Russia, on the other hand, would at best have led only to a temporary disarmament.

Not to mention that France, Germany, and Russia have had their own agendas and prejudices. Their stances may or may not be reasonable, but it can't be claimed that the Iraq war was unjustified solely because the majority of the UNSC didn't sign on.

More Iraq/WMD/terrorist links, just haven't worked them in yet:
latest on Al Qeda link.
Iraq ties to terrorism.
Global strategic reasons for invading Iraq.
FAQ about Iraq.
Saddam92s Disinformation and Propaganda 1990-2003.
Good rebuttal of some of the claims of "lies."
Interesting comparison of Bush's war doctrine to Lincoln's.
Saddam links to Al Qeda.

Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2003, 04:12 PM:

Bush lied: that's a given. Iraq did not represent a threat to its neighbours and certainly not to the US. Rather than quibbling with the pro-war right-wingers who seek to control the discourse on this thread by making it all about the mythical WoMD, let's not forget:

The WoMD were not the main issue: they were merely the issue that Bush most blatantly lied about. As Paul Wolfowitz said, the administration picked WoMD as the public reason for the war on Iraq.

The real reason for invading Iraq was in part the oil - nobody doubts that if Iraq were not sitting on top of the world's second-largest oil reserves, the US would never have bothered to invade - but primarily power. The US wants to establish a powerbase in the Middle East. To do so, the US administration lied about WoMD, defied the UN, and broke international law. That's the real issue: the US is behaving like a rogue nation. What can the rest of the world do about it? What should Americans do about it?

And what about those prisoners unjustly and illegally held in Guantanamo Bay?

Andrew Brown ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2003, 05:02 PM:

There is a difference, I think, between Bush lying and Blair lying. The American public would probably have supported a war whatever the trumped up excuses. The British public would not have done. I know that I believed that Iraq must have WMDs simply because the consequences of lying about it would be so catastrophic for the people who lied. Perhas they won't be for Bush. But in Britain we have this quaint tradition that parliament must approve wars, and if parliament had known then what we know now -- and the intelligenece services seem then to have believed -- it would not have voted for the war.

Saddam was not a threat to Britain. This was not a war of self-defence. He had no significant links with Al-Qaeda. We invaded his country, and are now committed to garrisoning it for five years or more, on the basis of lies. By doing so, we ripped up the last shreds of the world order that the Labour Party -- and most Brits generally -- still believe in: one based around treaties and the rule of the law. Someone is going to pay for this. Since it can't be Bush, it will be Blair. He lied to us, his electorate, and we will have his balls for it.

Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2003, 07:08 PM:

Please take Bush's while you're at it.

James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2003, 08:02 PM:

"Or I could, with a wink and a nod, ask for you to give me evidence he was not a threat to his neighbors."

Iraq is bordered by Turkey, Iran, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait.

Of those, only Kuwait was a member of the "Coalition of the Willing."

Since the others did not join the "Coaltion of the Willing," we can conclude that they did not feel threatened by Iraq.

Was Kuwait threatened by Iraq? In 1991, certainly. (And in 1991, others of Iraq's neighbors felt threatened -- we know this because they sent troops.) But this year, with a major Anglo-American military presence in Kuwait, was Kuwait truly threatened?

Okay, so Iraq wasn't a threat to its neighbors. There's your evidence.

Ray ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2003, 05:54 AM:

reasons for war:
WMD: 50 points

Remember, these were such an urgent threat to the rest of the world that UN inspections were just too slow. We couldn't afford to wait another month or two for the inspections to continue, or else the anthrax would be raining down on Cyprus, the nukes would be falling on Jerusalem, and we'd all be dead, dead, dead.
If Saddam didn't have WMD's ready to use, then there was no 'clear and present danger'. There was no need to go in without the support of the security council, or to call off the inspections. But if he did have WMD's ready to go, they would have been found by now. Buried paperwork is not an immediate threat to anybody.

Terrorism: 36 points

The reason none of the anti-war people bring this up any more, is that even before the war had started this was a non-issue. Despite Bush's constant attempts to link Saddam to 9-11, there was never any evidence of a connection.

Enforcing UN resolutions: 19 points

Yeah, this is a major priority for the Bush administration. What's next, going to war to enforce World Court judgements?

Promoting regional security: 8 points

This is a real reason, providing you read it as 'demonstrating who's boss'.

Enforcing past Congressional resolutions: 6 points

"We said we'd get him, so by golly we will!"

Iraq92s repression of civilians: 6 points

Sorry, I just can't stop laughing enough to deal with this one...

Promoting democracy: 3 points

Yeah, the US has such a great record on this one...

Iraq92s attempt to assassinate former President Bush: 3 points

This was actually in the resolution passed by Congress? You're taking the piss, right?

Iraq92s firing on Coalition forces enforcing no-fly zones: 3 points

Number of planes shot down by this fire? 0
Does Canada get to invade the US for troops killed in friendly-fire incidents?

Iraq92s wrongful detention of non-Iraqis (including Americans*): 2

Coming up, the rest of the world's invasion of Guantanamo Bay...

Iraq92s failure to return seized Kuwaiti property: 2

Still unaccounted for: 20 baby incubators

Arthur D. Hlavaty ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2003, 04:04 PM:

We've already taken a similar approach to medical marijuana: Medicine is supposed to be a tool of policy, not a determiner of it.

MadJayhawk ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2003, 01:17 AM:

Since the others did not join the "Coaltion of the Willing," we can conclude that they did not feel threatened by Iraq.

That is not evidence that Iraq's neighbors did not feel threatened.

Saddam had missiles that could reach major population centers in all those countries. He had chemical and biological weapons. The neighbors were afraid of his capabilities but also of the pro-Saddam groups within their own borders. Saddam had the largest army in the region except for perhaps Iran and Israel so all those countries had good reason to be afraid of him.

Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2003, 01:31 AM:

So, MadJayHawk, if Iraq's neighbors fear of Iraq kept them from sending troops, why didn't it stop them from sending troops in 1991?

James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2003, 02:21 AM:

The only country with major population centers in range of Iraq's 2003 missiles was Kuwait. The biological and chemical weapons turned out not to exist.

In 1990, when Iraq did have chemical and biological weapons, and did have missiles which could hit major population centers of several countries, and had an army twice as large as it was this spring, Turkey and Saudi Arabia sent troops and provided support. This time around, even with the promise of a substantial bribe, Turkey refused to play ball, while Saudi Arabia closed its airfields (though it did promise to defend Kuwait if Kuwait were to be attacked).

I'm sorry, but Iraq's neighbors just weren't acting like people who felt threatened.

As for the rest of the world feeling threatened, compare the 1991 Gulf War with the 2003 Gulf War:

In the Gulf War of 1991, at least 33 countries sent forces to the campaign against Iraq, and 16 of those provided combat forces, including a large number of Arab countries. Countries other than the United States pledged more than $50 billion of the $61 billion cost. Only Cuba, Yemen, Jordan and the Palestinians openly condemned a war that the UN Security Council voted to authorize.

In the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the only fighting forces were from the United States, Britain, Australia, and Poland. Ten other countries are known to have offered small numbers of noncombat forces, mostly medical teams or decontamination specialists, for a total of about 13 countries. The United States is expected to be responsible for essentially the entire cost of the war.

Dennis Slater ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2003, 11:17 PM:

The only country with major population centers in range of Iraq's 2003 missiles was Kuwait. The biological and chemical weapons turned out not to exist.

Please view this map. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/world/daily/graphics/iraq_101802.html

I believe both of these missiles can be launched from mobile platforms. The map shows ranges from Baghdad. If the missiles are fired from Iraq's borders then they would be able to reach most every part of Iraq's neighbors.

I do not want to go over old ground on the WMD issue. I will just ask a couple simple questions.
Did they ever have WMD?

If they did were they all destroyed at some point?

If they weren't destroyed where are they?

This is interesting as well: http://63.123.226.152/02conf-kay.shtml

James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2003, 05:45 AM:

Please view this map. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/world/daily/graphics/iraq_101802.html

I believe both of these missiles can be launched from mobile platforms. The map shows ranges from Baghdad. If the missiles are fired from Iraq's borders then they would be able to reach most every part of Iraq's neighbors.

As I'm sure you're aware, the Al Samoud missile achieved the 125 mile range in test firings by stripping off the warhead and guidance package; with those on board, the range would be under 100 miles. Even with the 125 mile range, major population centers (other than in Kuwait) were still out of range. Iraq had no Al Hussein missiles in inventory. BTW,the map shows ranges from Iraq's borders, not from Baghdad.

I do not want to go over old ground on the WMD issue. I will just ask a couple simple questions.
Did they ever have WMD?

Yes. They never did have nuclear capability.

If they did were they all destroyed at some point?

Yes.

If they weren't destroyed where are they?

That's the question Bush and Blair have been trying to answer with greater and greater desperation for months now, isn't it? They've been gone for over a decade.

This is interesting as well: http://63.123.226.152/02conf-kay.shtml


The gent says, among other things, "Saddam Hussein?s regime has an arsenal of ?Scud-B? short-range ballistic missiles that it has modified into what is known as the ?Al-Hussein? variant, which has roughly a 650-kilometer range and about a 500-kilogram payload."

As we know, none of these have been found, either by the UN inspectors before the war, nor by the US military afterward. I believe we can safely discard the entirely of his remarks as out of touch with reality.

David Moles ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2003, 12:31 AM:

After a while this starts to sound like a cop asking a suspect: “If you didn’t kill him, then where’s the gun?”

(Or possibly even: “If he’s not dead, then where’s the gun?”)

Dennis Slater ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2003, 02:29 PM:

James:

http://www.fas.org/nuke/guide/iraq/missile/al_hussein.htm writes:

"As of 1996 UNSCOM maintained that Iraq was still concealing six to sixteen enhanced Scud missiles, potentially able to deliver chemical or biological warheads. These Al Hussein missiles eluded UNSCOM inspectors, along with as many as 20 long-range missile warheads produced before 1991 specifically to carry biological weapons. By 1996 UNSCOM concluded that Iraq had produced 80 Scud-like missiles indigenously -- thereby placing in doubt UNSCOM's initial overall count of Iraq's original missile inventories. UNSCOM teams visiting in 1996 were unable to locate hidden missiles but UNSCOM continued to investigate Iraq's methods of concealment.

In mid-1996, a general officer defector from Iraq said that he believed Saddam Hussein had retained some 40 Scud-type missiles. After UNSCOM unwillingly withdrew from Iraq in 1998, some estimated that Iraq could resume production of Al Hussein missiles within one year. According to a United States government white paper in 1998, Iraq maintained a small force of Scud-type missiles and may have pieced together Scuds by integrating original guidance and control systems it concealed from UNSCOM with parts produced in Iraq.

In February 2000 Uzi Rubin, a member of Israel's National Security Council and former head of Israel's Homa anti-missile defence program, aserted that Iraq had 50 Al Hussein missiles. He told the Israel Annual Conference on Aerospace Sciences on 24 February that the Iraqi regime had managed to conceal the missiles, which could be deployed at short notice. [Jane92s Defence Weekly, March 1, 2000]"

I do not want to go over old ground on the WMD issue. I will just ask a couple simple questions.
Did they ever have WMD?

Yes. They never did have nuclear capability.

If they did were they all destroyed at some point?

Yes.

If they weren't destroyed where are they?

That's the question Bush and Blair have been trying to answer with greater and greater desperation for months now, isn't it? They've been gone for over a decade.

The term WMD usually includes chemcial and biological weapons not just nuclear. I see no signs of desperation. Exasperation, but not desperation. I think if no evidence of their whereabouts is found between now and Nov 2004 that the president should apologize to the American people, the Iraqi people and Saddam Hussein. We should allow Saddam to rightfully resume power and leave the country immediately. The President should then get a group of 3 ministers, headed up by Jesse Jackson, to come to the White House on a regular basis to counsel him on not telling the truth. Until then we should continue to investigate either if they exist, if they have been removed from the country, or if they have been destroyed.

As we know, none of these have been found, either by the UN inspectors before the war, nor by the US military afterward. I believe we can safely discard the entirely of his remarks as out of touch with reality.

In Gulf War I, Iraqis were firing missiles at the Isreali and Saudi capital cities from mobile launchers on a regular basis. We were looking everywhere for these. I do not recall where the military actually found and destroyed a missile launcher. The Iraqis also had a stockpile of missiles remaining after the war. Surely our forces would have found and destroyed those during that war if they could locate them. Where were they?

I think we should keep looking for them or for evidence that they have been destroyed. After 100 days there are those that want to "safely discard" any notion that WMD exist or existed so that they can stamp Bush with the label of liar in permanent ink. We are ocupied with many problems in Iraq at the present time. Food, water, and security outweigh finding WMD or what happen to them for right now though I am sure there are people working on that problem as well. It probably is not a prioirity to our commanders who are getting their men killed.

Let's wait at least until the dust settles over there until we get the political buzzards circling in the air looking for something to feast on.

Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2003, 02:40 PM:

"Let's wait at least until the dust settles over there until we get the political buzzards circling in the air looking for something to feast on."

In other words, if the Bush administration can manage to keep throwing dust in the air, they can keep lying for as long as they feel like it.

"[the search for WMD] probably is not a prioirity to our commanders who are getting their men killed." Well, I thought one major justification for the invasion was to keep WMDs out of the hands of terrorists. So one _reason_ our men are over there getting killed is to secure the WMD, right? Or are you arguing that we're losing the war, and at this point the commanders' priorities are to forget their initial objectives, and just try to save the lives of their men?

I'm not arguing that I want Saddam back; I think I first heard about his human rights violations around the time of the Iraq hostage crisis. But I don't want a president lying to the country to manipulate us into going to war, even if the cause was 100% good. We can wait until everything is over, all the participants are long dead, and ask the historians to count up just how many of Bush's words in the SOTU address were lies, or we can address the fact that a significant portion of what he said was demonstrably false.

Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2003, 03:32 PM:

I can't bear to watch this any more. Dennis Slater/MJH, your argumentive position is a stiff. It's not pining, it's passed on. If you hadn't nailed it to the perch, it would be pushing up the daisies. It's rung down the curtain and joined the choir invisible. It is an ex-argument.

I'm sure it's wrong and uncharitable of me to think this, but I keep finding myself wondering how closely you've looked at your evidence before tendering it. A datum is not a lightweight plastic brick, modular and stackable but otherwise inert. Real information is specific, it's interactive, and it's not all created equal.

James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2003, 01:25 PM:

The Jane's Defence story has been Overcome By Events (OBE). It can be safely discounted. No Scuds or Al Hussein missiles were found by inspectors before the war, were expended during the war, or have been located by troops after the war. This despite substantial cash rewards for information and complete access to the whole country. Nor is a Scud particularly easy to conceal. They're twenty feet long, weigh several tons, and are fueled by hydrazine and red fuming nitric acid.

And, once again, when Iraq demonstrably had missiles -- they fired sixty of them during Gulf War I -- they weren't sufficient to deter Iraq's neighbors from joining the coalition and sending combat troops. In Gulf War II, those same neighbors didn't join the coalition. The conclusion is the same -- the neighbors didn't feel threatened.

As to where and when the missiles and launchers were destroyed in Gulf War I, I recommend you read GEN Schwartzkopf's book. He goes into some detail on the subject. Whether Iraq still had a stock after that war is highly questionable.

You might want to check this link: http://www.globeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20030718.wmass0718/BNStory/International/

A conference of top-level military analysts was told that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction months before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks ? a message that later fell on deaf ears in the U.S. capital, analysts say.

Okay, you say that 100 days is too early to tell that Iraq didn't have a WMD capability, either the materials themselves or the means of delivery. When would you put the point? Two hundred days? Two years? Ten years? Recall that the specialized troops sent to Iraq after the war to look for those weapons have already completed their mission and been reassigned, without producing even one.

See, for example, http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/news/breaking_news/6049444.htm:

U.S. military units assigned to track down Iraqi weapons of mass destruction have run out of places to look and are getting time off or being assigned to other duties, even as pressure mounts on President Bush to explain why no banned arms have been found.

As to your other suggestions, about ministers visiting Bush starting in November 2004 and such, it doesn't matter to me if they have tag-teams praying over him for the rest of his natural life wherever he might be, whether in Crawford, Texas, or Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas.

Look, bottom line: Bush lied in order to start an aggressive war. The uranium thing is just the first hint. More information will come up as more mid-level people tell their stories rather than fall on their swords for the President. Bush wrote checks with his mouth that American soldiers are having to cash every day with their lives. He squandered American's international credibility for nothing. If that doesn't bother you ... it should.

Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2003, 10:22 AM:


From where I was I am willing to say

1: When we invaded he had no weapons of mass destruction

2: He hadn't had any for quite some time.

On a more vague note, I can say that, for the most part, the Intel community in the war zone was not worried about WMD, because we didn't believe he had them.

What we did think he might have (and yes, it was that vague a postulate) was some Mustard, and some Sarin, and no good way to deliver either.

As for MJH's comment on the threat posed to Iraq's immediate neighbors, he has taken a positive challenge (i.e. what threat was there) and asked his detractors to prove a negative (i.e. how do you know he wasn't a threat).

Not cricket.

Terry K.

Dennis Slater ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2003, 02:32 AM:

James: I will work Gen Schwartzkopf's book into my reading schedule. It will be right behind Traitor.

Some food for thought.

I have been contending that at some time WMD (Biological, chemical and nuclear weapons) at one time existed in Iraq. The Iraqis have said for years that they have destroyed them all in pursuent to the UN Resolutions requiring them to do so. Since they refused to provide an adequate accounting of what became of these weapons (actual weapons and the parts to make them) that they said they destroyed, not many people believed them with the exception of perhaps those unidentified military analysts mentioned in the Globe (the Toronto Globe, not the tabloid Globe found in supermarkets) article by a college professor. That is why the UN inspectors were to return Iraq: to verify that Iraq actually destroyed them. When the inspectors were thrown out of the country in 1998 by Iraq our former President thought the existence of WMD was serious enough problem to spend millions of dollars to bomb Baghdad for 3 days.

The weapons that were previously there were never adequately accounted for by Iraq. Where are they? If they were destroyed, Iraq had plenty of motivation for coming up with some documentation of their destruction - the lifting of sanctions and prevention of military action - so where is the documentation that they were destroyed? Again, if the WMD were not destroyed by Iraq, where are they now or where is the documentation that shows that they were destroyed?

A few articles on WMD. There are more.

http://cns.miis.edu/research/wmdme/iraq.htm#fn5

http://www.fas.org/nuke/guide/iraq/missile/scud_info/scud_info_s09.htm#X.a0%20SUMMARY%20OF%20OBSERVATIONS

http://www.cdiss.org/iraq_b.htm

http://cns.miis.edu/research/wmdme/capable.htm#12

http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/watch/Policywatch/policywatch1998/301.htm

http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB80/wmd09.pdf

http://www.iraqwatch.org/perspectives/isis-nichols-6-14-01.htm

http://www.iraqwatch.org/wmd/iraqarticle2pg1.pdf

http://www.iraqwatch.org/wmd/iraqarticle2pg2.pdf

http://www.iraqwatch.org/wmd/iraq-bomb.html

http://www.iraqwatch.org/un/IAEA/iaea-blixbaradei-121902.htm

http://www.iraqwatch.org/un/unmovic/unmovic-disarmquestions-030603.pdf

There are also many speeches given by President Clinton and others in his administration and congress in the late 1990s that say that Iraq had WMD. President Bush and his advisors obviously were aware of these articles and others like them. In addition I am sure there was additional intelligence information from our own and other countries' intelligence operations about the existence of WMD that hasn't been published. To me all this information presents a pretty convincing picture that WMD existed. Was the President supposed to ignore all this information about the existence of WMD? Is all of this untrue?

Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2003, 06:10 AM:

When the inspectors were thrown out of the country in 1998 by Iraq our former President thought the existence of WMD was serious enough problem to spend millions of dollars to bomb Baghdad for 3 days.

Dennis, you have your facts backward. If you check contemporary accounts - that is, from 1998 - it was because the US was planning to bomb Iraq that the UN had to withdraw the weapons inspectors.

Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2003, 09:33 AM:

What Clinton said before 1998 (when his 'dog-wagging' bombing may have taken out Iraq's nuclear capacity) is no proof that Saddam had nukes in 2003. If Bush hadn't chased those inspectors out we might have some fresh intel now, instead of relying on five-year-old reports and self-serving defector's tales that didn't pass the CIA's smell test.

Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2003, 11:12 AM:


What I seem to recall (and this is memory) is that a lot of people said that they had not accounted for all the weapons we thought they had.

This is a delicate distinction, but not without difference.


Terry K.

Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2003, 11:35 AM:

This is kind of off the wall, but I just thought of a completely different way of looking at the question of why Saddam was so resistant to inspections, if he really didn't have WMDs.

It occurs to me that perhaps we have it backwards. Perhaps Saddam actually had _less_ WMDs than we had evidence for, and was trying to avoid exposing his bluff? Perhaps he was trying hard to scare the rest of the world cheaply, by making motions resembling the development of WMDs? He'd buy some raw materials, build and equip some "factories", but not really invest the money needed to create an effective threat. We and the rest of his enemies, unsure just how successful his efforts were, would have to be cautious, and treat him more seriously than if he were just another vicious dictator with grandiose dreams.

Let's face it, most of his _use_ of WMDs in the past were either against relatively defenseless civilians, or rather unsuccessful.

Then, when faced with having to _prove_ he'd destroyed his weapons, he couldn't, because the only way to do that would be to _prove_ that he'd never really had most of them! Not only would he lose face, he'd lose a lot of leverage. A dictator who once had WMDs might get hold of them again, and so would still be taken seriously when he made threats; a dictator who _pretended_ to have WMDs would probably never be viewed as a threat again.

I'm not saying that's what happened, and I don't know enough of the detailed history of the inspections etc. to know if it's even a plausible alternate history, but it's an interesting idea.

Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2003, 11:50 AM:

From Jeremy Leader,
"This is kind of off the wall, but I just thought of a completely different way of looking at the question of why Saddam was so resistant to inspections, if he really didn't have WMDs."

I've said, for quite some time, the having, or not, of Weapons was not the point. The refusing to be inspected was the point.

By screwing with inspections he was proving that he (an Arab) was able to thumb his nose (with relative) impunity, at the Great Satan.

Terry K.

James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2003, 02:16 PM:

When the inspectors were thrown out of the country in 1998 by Iraq our former President thought the existence of WMD was serious enough problem to spend millions of dollars to bomb Baghdad for 3 days.

Recall that the inspectors were removed from Iraq by the UN to keep them out of harm's way when our former President bombarded Iraq for four days.

See this: http://www.irak.be/ned/archief/exit_UN_%20weapons_%20inspectors_1998.htm as well as many other sources that you can get by Googling on Iraq 1998 inspectors withdrawn.

See also UNSCOM's own timeline entry for 16 December 1998: The Special Commission withdraws its staff from Iraq.

As I'm sure you recall, Clinton launched Operation Desert Fox the day before his impeachment referendum was scheduled, and called it off two hours after the vote. Are you saying that concern about Iraq's WMD program and a deep regard for the truth was 100% of his motivation for those strikes?

You've provided a long list of references. Once one removes the highly speculative items (e.g."With sufficient black-market uranium or plutonium, Iraq probably could fabricate a nuclear weapon"), the discredited information (e.g. "The Iraqi military are able to deploy these [chemical and biological] weapons within 45 minutes of a decision to do so"), and pre-1991 items (everyone agrees that prior to the first Gulf War, Iraq had WMD materials and programs), what's left points at Iraq not having WMD materials or systems post 1995, probably not post 1993. It's true that Iraq still had scientists who had knowledge about how to produce nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. Short of standing them all up against a wall there's little that Saddam could have done about that. Those scientists, now, given substantial financial incentives and free from concern about Saddam's security service, are telling the coalition forces that Iraq hasn't had any WMD programs since the mid-nineties. We've come up with parts of a centrifuge buried under a rose bush since 1991. Reality, as I keep saying, has a way of trumping wishful thinking.

Much of the documentation on the destruction of Iraq's WMD was, according to Iraq, itself destroyed in the rioting in Basra during the uprising that the US encouraged but did not support. Chemical Ali's headquarters was burned, as I'm sure you're aware. This claim about why there were holes in the records was laughed to scorn by columnist George Will in a Newsweek commentary, where he called it "the dog ate Saddam's homework" excuse. I'm sure you recall that uprising -- it's the source of a goodly number of those mass graves.

Tell me -- if those dead Shiites were a cause for war here in 2003, why weren't they a cause for war in 1993, when there was a chance of saving some of them?

Further on the lack of documention: In some cases the reason the documentation was said to be incomplete was because it failed to address non-existant events. For example, the documentation provided by Iraq did not include Iraq's attempt to buy uranium oxide in Niger because, as we know, Iraq hadn't tried to buy uranium oxide from Niger. A defector in 1996 claimed that Iraq had 40 Scuds. The documentation did not list those Scuds. As we now know, Iraq didn't have any Scuds at that time.

If you were interested in making a case on WMD, http://www.official-documents.co.uk/document/reps/iraq/part02.htm would go a long way toward making it. However, it also supports the conclusion that as of 2002/2003 Iraq did not have WMD. Note, for example, that the destruction of the 11 Al Hussein launchers is 100% of those launchers -- we know this because they were bought from the ex-USSR, and Iraq lacked the capabilty to make them on its own. (Iraq didn't have the capability to print its own money. The dinar was printed in the UK.)

Everyone also agrees that Iraq wasn't completely cooperative with the weapons inspections, even if the extent of that non-cooperation has been overstated. If I can indulge in a little speculation myself:

Saddam was a dictator. Cooperation has never been a dictator's strong suit. Further, Iraq saw itself surrounded by enemies -- Turkey, Iran, and US forces based in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Saddam did not want to appear to be weak or unarmed in the face of what he perceived as outside threats. What other than a strong deterent would keep Turkey from using the headwaters of the Tigris and Euphrates to irrigate Anatolia or take the Kurdish regions? What would keep Iran from overrunning Shiite southern Iraq? His gamble was that absent proof of WMD (which proof would never be found since there wasn't any) the US wouldn't attack, while absent proof that the items were destroyed Turkey and Iran wouldn't attack, which proof they would never get thanks to his fan-dance with the UN inspectors.

He guessed wrong. The US did attack absent proof.

He was partly right -- the US public would never support an aggressive war without proof of WMD. What he didn't expect was that the US president would lie to the US public to get his war.

Now a little history, and a slightly different subject.

For roughly forty years, from 1949 to 1991, the US faced a foreign power which admitted -- boasted -- about its nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. That power had missiles capable of reaching the US heartland with nuclear bombs aimed at American cities. That power, under a succession of leaders who varied from creepy to psychotic, had openly dedicated itself to the destruction of America and our way of life. Further, that power had an absolutely abominable human rights record.

Do you think that the United States should have started a preemptive war against the Soviet Union?

Why or why not? Be specific. Use examples.

Dennis Slater ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2003, 02:44 PM:

James, great post. You are burying me. I, a simple old math major, can't keep up. You make a lot of good points and bring many thoughtful, good pieces of information to the table. I would love to research them all and respond intelligently. With other things to do I find it hard to do. I want to be accurate and complete, however within the time constraints I have it is difficult to provide line by line footnotes for each comment I make. Some might say then, well, old boy, you should shut up.

Your courtesy, respect, and lack of personal animosity is appreciated. It is hard to reign in the dogs of partisanship at times. There is little evidence of common courtesy or individual respect anymore on many blogs, even from the blog's owners.

My last salvo is that there was a lot of intelligence, information, and disinformation about Iraq's WMD and its programs prior to the war. The president and his advisors probably looked at all of this and decided disarming Iraq was one of the reasons that could be used for removing Saddam from power. His removal has been US policy for over 5 years. The decision to remove Saddam Hussein from power was the right one: for the region, for the Iraqi people and for the US. The decision to emphasize the removal WMD of as the main reason to do so may, in retrospect, been a bad decision. It was not the only reason Saddam Hussein should have been removed. President Bush is paying a huge political price for that decision. However deceptive it might appear, it does not detract, in my opinion, from the correct decision he made to remove Saddam Hussein from power. The region will undoubtedly benefit from the Hussein's removal.

(side note: the removal of SH has an interesting parallel in the US involving viligente justice that took place in Skidmore, MO. If you have time: http://www.lewrockwell.com/anderson/anderson6.html. There is a book and a movie about this incident too. McElroy was Skidmore's Saddam Hussein. People should give careful thought about what they would have done if they lived in Skidmore at that time.)

"Do you think that the United States should have started a preemptive war against the Soviet Union?"

The US did start a preemptive war - an economic war that the Soviet Union lost. A conventional or nuclear war at the time would have been a disaster. We would have lost a conventional war because the Soviets had larger armies, more ships, more aircraft, and more missiles than we did. The Soviets at the time were not afraid of aggressively using them. Their troops practiced offensive maneuvers, not defensive ones. They could have easily overrun Europe within a month and flattened Japan thus isolating us or forcing us to use nuclear weapons at a huge cost in lives here and in the USSR.

Nixon's reapproachment with China saved the US from becoming a 2nd rate world power if we weren't already. China realized how the military balance had sifted in favor of the USSR and how it was a danger to them. The Soviets had to position over 100 divisions on the Chinese border at a huge cost to neutralize the threat from China. Nixon's action only bought the US time. At the rate the USSR was adding to its forces we were in serious danger. Fortunately the president from CA moved the US away from the outdated mutual assured destruction (MAD) and containment policies of the past and began SDI development which meant that the balance of power inherent in the MAD would shift to favor the US. The Soviets were faced with tough choices. The president from CA knew that the Soviets were extremely vunerable economically at that time because of their tremendous military build up and could not possibly afford to keep up with SDI and trying to do so would drain their economy at a time of severe economic problems within the USSR. The President at that time also worked to economically and politically destabilize the USSR and the Soviet block countries from within. The decisions that were made at that time were monumental and risky.

This is all detailed in an interesting book called Nagear's War by Peter Schweitzer.

James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2003, 09:00 PM:

By the "president from CA" do you mean Ronald Reagan? Let's not be overly cute about all this.

Okay, on economic warfare. That isn't the same as men with rifles lying in the dirt and blowing one another's heads off. A confusion in terms doesn't help anyone.

I've long maintained that under some circumstances war is necessary or inevitable -- attack by a foreign power, for example. (How about Japan's preemptive war against the USA in 1941? Or North Korea's preemptive war against South Korea? Or Germany's preemptive war against Poland? Preemptive war has a lousy history.)

War is so terrible that it must only be used when there is no other choice. I am not convinced that that situation existed in Iraq.

How about those economic means, though? According to the CIA world fact book, Iraq's GDP in 2002 was $58 billion. http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/iz.html

The FY 2002 US DOD budget was $329 billion. http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Jun2001/b06272001_bt287-01.html That is to say, the US could have bought Iraq with less that 20% of the DoD budget. I see no compelling reason to believe warfare, the bullets-and-bayonets kind, was the only or best choice.

Now the economic boycott and "sanctions" were a bad choice too. As Rocky used to say to Bullwinkle, "That trick never works." Forty years of sanctions have hardly removed Castro from power. But Castro was a young man when he took control of Cuba. Saddam was 65 this year -- and the Iraqi life expectancy is 67 years. How long could he hold out, especially if his sons got ambitious? And when he died, two men can't sit on the throne at once. The vile Uday and the unspeakable Qusay might have fought one another, leading to a chance to overthrow the entire government.

But rather than use our true strength in Iraq, we've taken another path. We just lost two more soldiers killed today. That makes twenty-eight just since this discussion thread started. And we're standing virtually alone in the world, our alliances strained, our foreign support tarnished, our government's reputation under question everywhere. For what? What was so important that we couldn't wait to forge the diplomatic ties to solve the Iraq problem?

For that matter, how did Saddam, who didn't attack or pose a threat to the US, take priority over Osama, who both attacked us and poses a continuing threat? I see from the news that we're being warned of more suicide airline hijackings. I see that a "Parliamentary Committee Says War May Have Helped Bin Laden's Terror Group" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A7299-2003Jul31.html)

"LONDON -- The war in Iraq failed to reduce security threats against Britain and may have harmed efforts to tackle the al Qaida terror network, a parliamentary committee said Thursday.
"In a report, the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee said the war may have helped the terror group led by Osama bin Laden to recruit new members."

I seem to remember several people warning of just this happening before the war. What have we gained? I don't see a net victory here. I don't see a victory in the future.


What I do see is this: Osama bin Laden came up with a plan to start a war between the West and Islam, much as Charlie Manson tried to start a war between the Blacks and Whites with his "Helter Skelter" plan. While the war is raging, Osama will hide out in the hills somewhere (it doesn't matter to him if Mullah Omar lives or dies -- what's Omar to him?) like Charlie planned to live in the desert with his "family.". When the fighting is over between the West and Islam, both sides will be reduced to ruin. Osama will return from the hills in triumph to rule over the smoking remnants of civilization, like Charlie planned to return to rule over the wreckage of America.

A mad scheme, perhaps. It didn't work when Manson tried.

But George W. Bush was dumb enough to go for it.
Now we're on the rollercoaster, and I don't see any way to get off.

Or maybe one. We have to vote Bush out of office, attempt to mend our alliances with our traditional friends, then root out terrorists using our strengths -- international cooperation, the rule of law, fair trials (universally seen to be fair), and our very seductive lifestyle. This is a police matter, not a military one. Using the wrong tool doesn't help us.

James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2003, 05:04 PM:

In the two months since that last comment, several things have happened:

The Valerie Plame affair has exploded.

Bush's job approval has plummeted.

The latest round of WMD inspections has ended -- with no WMD found.

Bush has gone to the UN to beg for help, and not gotten it.

The Israeli/Palestinian "road map" has collapsed.

And we've had 73 more US troops killed in Iraq.

Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2003, 11:18 AM:

Jim, I know you've got too many demands on your time to do a weblog, but I could wish this last series of posts of yours could get more exposure.

James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2003, 05:33 PM:

Since my post yesterday...

In Iraq:

One US trooper
One Spanish diplomat
Two Iraqi police officers
Eight civilians

All dead through unconventional warfare.


"Bring 'em on."

James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2003, 10:32 AM:

Two more US troopers dead.

Bush failed to mention "Osama bin Laden" during his campaign appearances in New Hampshire.

James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2003, 11:45 AM:

Since my last post:

One US trooper killed.
Six US troopers wounded.
Eight Iraqis killed.
Thirty-two wounded.

"He [Saddam Hussein] has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors."
-- Colin Powell, February 2001

"We are able to keep his [Saddam Hussein's] arms from him. His military forces have not been rebuilt."
-- Condoleeza Rice, April 2001

"Bring 'em on!"
-- George W. Bush, July 2003

flojin ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2003, 12:21 PM:

Jim,
A lot has happened!

The Turks have been invited in. I can't wait to see how the US's only real allies in Iraq, the Kurds, will react to their arch enemies running the show.

Iran is playing with nukes, having learned from this whole debacle that Axis of Evil nations with the bomb don't get invaded.

Natural Baathist enemy, Al-Qaeda. is actually operating within Iraq for the first time. The bogus threat of Iraqi ties to Bin Laden has been made real.

If you want to read more about Iraq, I have an interview on my website with a Japanese journalist who just returned from Baghdad. There are pictures too.

James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2003, 07:57 PM:

Since my last post:

Pfc Stephen E Wyatt 9
Spc Donald L Wheeler 9
Spc Douglas J Weismantle
Pfc Jose Casanova 9
Lt Col Kim S Orlando 9
Cpl 9Sean R Grilley 9
Staff Sgt Joseph P Bellavia 9
Spc Michael L Williams 9
Pfc John D Hart 9
1st Lt David R Bernstein 9
Staff Sgt Paul J Johnson 9
Pfc Paul J Bueche 9
Pvt Jason M Ward 9
Spc John P Johnson 9
Capt John R Teal 9
Spc Jose L Mora 9
Sgt Michael S Hancock 9
Spc Artimus D Brassfield 9
Staff Sgt Jamie L Huggins 9
Pvt Joseph R Guerrera 9
Lt Col Charles H Buehring 9
Pfc Rachel K Bosveld 9
Pfc Steven Acosta 9
Pvt Jonathan L Falaniko 9
Sgt Aubrey D Bell 9
Spc Isaac Campoy 9
Sgt Michael Paul Barrera 9
Pvt Algernon Adams
Staff Sgt Joe N Wilson
Staff Sgt Paul A Velazquez
Spc Frances M Vega
1st Lt Brian D Slavenas
Sgt Ross A Pennanen
Sgt Keelan L Moss
Pfc Karina S Lau
Pfc Anthony D Dagostino
Sgt Ernest G Bucklew

Died in Iraq.

In other news: One of the FBI's top counterterrorism officials, in an exclusive television interview with CNN, said al Qaeda remains strong and intent on striking in the United States. We've heard another tape from Osama.

Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2003, 12:32 PM:

That is a disturbingly non-random looking rank distribution.

Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2003, 01:00 PM:

Graydon, yes, it is. But recall that there are always more of the lower ranks, and that they are out and about more.

But even so.

Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2003, 01:56 PM:

Xopher --

I think you're misunderstanding my unease.

21 Spc, Pvt, Pfc, Cpl
11 Sgt. and up?

That's a very odd ratio. Have two (2!) light colonels, a captain, and two first lieutenants dead out of 37 is odd, too, especially when we know the casualties are distributed over many small attacks. (In a line unit, there's probably something like 50 other-ranks per captain (counting the guys on staff), and a couple hundred per light colonel. This is not something that looks like a random distribution.)

Classic casualty patterns are to lose a lot of junior troops and new officers; the US trains ferociously to avoid that sort of pattern, but you don't expect that kind of disproportionate loss of senior NCOs.

Vietnam enlisted casualties were about 3:1 split at E4/E5 -- up to Cpl/Spc., and Sgt. and above.

This short list is 2:1, which is a big change.

That's not a pattern of casualties associated with increasing control of the situation; it looks like a successful insurgency, one with at least some ability to target leaders in the forces opposing them.

Jon ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2003, 03:58 PM:

I seem to recall this is why in battlefield conditions soldiers don't salute officers, as it signals to snipers and other unfriendlies that this person is a target of value. And in a place where there's a civilian population to hide in, it would make it that much easier to find higher ups. Might be as simple as that.

Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2003, 05:03 PM:

You don't salute, and you don't say sir, and you don't wear rank insignia, and these days the radio can be way less obvious, sure.

What I'm struck by is not so much that there are disproportionate casualties in higher ranks by historical measures, but by the implications. A trend toward an increasing proportion of higher ranks in the casualty figures is an indication that you're losing.

Anyone got the casualty figures broken down by rank and week, say?

Kris Hasson-Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2003, 10:53 PM:

But, aren't those mostly the soldiers lost in the helicopter attack? They were being sent home for a leave; it makes sense that it would be an unusual assortment of ranks, to me.

Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2003, 08:52 AM:

Those can't be the full list of casulaties from the shootdown, because all of those names are not yet released.

At least, from the list at lunaville, there are still unreleased names.

And yes, I think that's probably providing a certain amount of skew but I would still be very interested in a time series breakdown of casualties by seniority. (Lunaville has one of the most unhelpful helpful interfaces I've hit in awhile, so I'm hoping someone else has already done this.)

James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2003, 11:52 AM:

Week of 2 November:
[Staff Sgt 9Sgt Spc Pfc Spc Pfc Sgt Spc Sgt Sgt 1st Lt Chief Warrant Officer Spc Staff Sgt Staff Sgt] Helicopter crash
Week of 26 Oct:
2nd Lt 1st Lt Spc Corporal Pvt Sgt Spc Pvt Pfc Sgt Lt Col Pfc Pvt Staff Sgt
Week of 19 October:
Spc Sgt Spc
Week of 12 October:
Capt Spc Pvt Pfc 9Staff Sgt 1st Lt Pfc Spc Staff Sgt Cpl Lt Col Pfc Pvt 9Spc Spc Pfc Spc
Week of 5 October:
Spc Pvt Staff Sgt Spc Pfc 2nd Lt

Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2003, 12:14 PM:

Thanks, Jim.

That's medium disturbing.

Anyone know of a good public source for all coalition casualties in Iraq?

James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2003, 12:31 PM:

Since my last posting: 61 more coalition military dead in Iraq, from the US, Italy, and Ukraine.

Today's news includes simultaneous multiple rocket attacks in Baghdad against the Oil Ministry and the downtown hotels used by US journalists and contractors.

Yesterday we saw bombings in Turkey; the casualty list included the British Consul-General.

Weapons of mass destruction still have not appeared. The Roadmap to Peace in Palestine has deadended. The most surprising development: Richard Pearle has admitted that the invasion of Iraq violated international law.

David Moles ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2003, 07:18 PM:

Now see if you can get Richard Perle to admit that violating international law is a vice rather than a virtue.

James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2003, 11:32 AM:

This morning's news is that Saddam was captured in Iraq. (At least he wasn't "shot trying to escape," regardless of how convenient that would have been for Donald Rumsfeld.)

Let's see if now a) WMD are found, and b) the insurgent attacks on US troops stop.

My public bets: a) They won't be, and b) they won't.

Oh, yes, since my last post: Thirty more troops (counting Spanish National Army) dead in Iraq.

Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2003, 03:16 PM:

So now the big question is, what's to be done with Saddam?

How can we get him tried for crimes against humanity, without causing him to reveal embarrassing info about his sometime suppliers and supporters?

Maybe he can arrange a plea bargain, in which he tells us where the WMDs and Osama bin Laden are, in exchange for a slap on the wrist?

Oh well, at least we kept him underground long enough to keep him out of the race for governer of California.

James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2003, 02:16 PM:

Still no weapons of mass destruction; David Kay is quitting.

Since Saddam's capture:

Spc Christopher J. Holland
Spc Nathan Nakis
Pfc Kenneth C. Souslin


James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2004, 11:19 AM:

Since 14DEC03, the date of Saddam's capture, we have lost 24 more troops in Iraq; the Terror Alert has been raised to Orange; jet fighters are escorting some foreign passenger aircraft in US airspace, yet others have been turned back or not allowed to leave their countries of origin; we are insisting that foreign carriers now use armed marshals on board their aircraft; we have seen "reverse screening" of passengers on board aircraft that already arrived; no weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq.

Let's see: The war in Iraq was to lower the threat of terrorism to the US, and to find and destroy Saddam's weapons of mass destruction, right?

Mission accomplished, Georgie-boy. Mission accomplished.

James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2004, 12:37 AM:

In the month since my last post we've lost 45 more troopers (that's over one a day), and a great many more civilians in Iraq.

George Bush delivered a State of the Union address remarkable in its fatuousness, one in which he didn't even mention the proposed Man-on-Mars program he'd floated the previous week. Perhaps Bush was trying to avoid another "sixteen words" problem by keeping his entire speech devoid of statements of fact liable to checking.

To the surprise of no one but the Neocons, no weapons of mass destruction (the reason that we had to go to war right now rather than build an international coalition, obtain the blessing of the UN, get allies, or have some sense) have turned up yet, despite our having Saddam himself in custody since early December.

The military lawyers assigned to defend the prisoners held illegally at Gitmo have refused to play by the rules George & company want since they worry that they might be disbarred for ethics violations. Good news from Gitmo: Suicide attempts among the prisoners are way down. Bad news from Gitmo: "Manipulative Self-Injurious Behavior" among the prisoners is way up.

Back to those weapons of mass destruction: From CNN today:

Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Massachusetts, and other Democrats on the committee reminded Rumsfeld that in September 2002 he said "we know" where weapons of mass destruction are stored in Iraq.

Explaining that remark, Rumsfeld told the panel that he was referring to suspected weapons sites, but he acknowledged that he had made it sound like he was talking about actual weapons.

Thank you, Donnie Rumsfeld. A real Profile-in-Courage moment.

Let's see, what else? Record-breaking federal deficit, not counting the fifty billion dollars in new military spending in Iraq that isn't being counted in the budget. More job losses than any time since 1929.

Exciting times to be alive, folks. Don't forget to vote.

James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2004, 11:32 AM:

In the month since my last post we've lost 45 more troopers (that's over one a day), and a great many more civilians in Iraq.

George Bush delivered a State of the Union address remarkable in its fatuousness, one in which he didn't even mention the proposed Man-on-Mars program he'd floated the previous week. Perhaps Bush was trying to avoid another "sixteen words" problem by keeping his entire speech devoid of statements of fact liable to checking.

To the surprise of no one but the Neocons, no weapons of mass destruction (the reason that we had to go to war right now rather than build an international coalition, obtain the blessing of the UN, get allies, or have some sense) have turned up yet, despite our having Saddam himself in custody since early December.

The military lawyers assigned to defend the prisoners held illegally at Gitmo have refused to play by the rules George & company want since they worry that they might be disbarred for ethics violations. Good news from Gitmo: Suicide attempts among the prisoners are way down. Bad news from Gitmo: "Manipulative Self-Injurious Behavior" among the prisoners is way up.

Back to those weapons of mass destruction: From CNN today:

Democrats on the committee reminded Rumsfeld that in September 2002 he said "we know" where weapons of mass destruction are stored in Iraq.

Explaining that remark, Rumsfeld told the panel that he was referring to suspected weapons sites, but he acknowledged that he had made it sound like he was talking about actual weapons.

Thank you, Donnie Rumsfeld. A real Profile-in-Courage moment.

Let's see, what else? Record-breaking federal deficit, not counting the fifty billion dollars in new military spending in Iraq that isn't being counted in the budget. More job losses than any time since 1929.

Exciting times to be alive, folks. Don't forget to vote.

===========

First posted in Open Thread 5 on 04FEB04.

James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2004, 07:55 PM:

Two months -- more than two months -- since I've posted here.

Heartbreaking numbers of casualties, of course, and what might be a full-blown insurgency in progress. Shi'ite agents from Iran are active in Shi'ite areas of Iraq, which are adjacent to Shi'ite areas of Saudia Arabia. Yeah, that looks like it's going to have a good outcome for anyone.

Still no weapons of mass destruction, through the one-year mark since the Toppling of Saddam's Statute has passed. Four months since Saddam was captured. Now ... either some of those "dead-enders" failed to get the memo that it's time to give it up, or maybe some folks are getting really tired of foreign troops on their soil and are doing something about it. Who needs WMD when you have an RPG?

It's getting more and more obvious that the post-invasion plan was "Then a miracle happens." We're seeing now what happens when wishful-thinking meets reality.

Is there any reason to think that any of the neo-cons' plans are more than wishful thinking?

We're coming up on the one-year anniversary of "Mission Accomplished." 634 military personnel have died since then.

563 from US, 26 from UK, 17 from Italy, 11 from Spain, 6 from Bulgaria, 4 from Ukraine, 2 from Poland, 2 from Thailand, 1 from Denmark, 1 from Estonia, 1 from El Salvador.

Plus an unknown/uncounted number of civilians, and Iraqis.

"Bring it on," right?

Meanwhile, in today's headlines, we see "Sharon says he told Bush that Arafat pledge is off." Blowing up Arafat with a helicopter-launched missile will certainly produce a stable, peaceful Middle East, favorably disposed toward Israel. Tell me again about that Roadmap For Peace?

Nuclear material looted from Iraq has turned up at a scrap metal dealer in the Netherlands. Good thing it didn't fall into the hands of terrorists. Since the war was supposedly to keep nuclear material out of the hands of terrorists, I'm glad to see we're right on top of that. (The other reason for going to war, to keep Iraqi civilians from being killed, seems to be going just as well.)

Does anyone have an idea how to continue from this point?

Two choices: Declare victory and get out, leaving a hardline Islamic fundamentalist country in our wake, bitterly opposed to the US and Israel, controlling major oil reserves and supporting anti-western terrorism, or wait ten years and fifty thousand dead before declaring victory and getting out, leaving a hardline Islamic fundamentalist country in our wake, bitterly opposed to the US and Israel, controlling major oil reserves and supporting anti-western terrorism.

Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2004, 11:51 PM:

Isn't there an alternative to that dichotomy that consists of supporting a United Nations peace force and a transition government overseen by the U.N. Security Council? (I know some people are very skeptical about the U.N's ability to accomplish anything; but, at the least, having the U.N. be the peace-keeping backup force might diffuse some of the anger currently being directed exclusively at the U.S.)

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2004, 12:38 AM:

Lenny, please explain just who the fuck such a "United Nations peace force" would consist of. Martians? Futurians? Infantry from the 47th Chorp Dimension? It had better be. Nobody else on the planet has any reason to volunteer to be shot at on behalf of Richard Perle's foreign policy.

The idea that "the U.N." constitutes some great metaphysical fallback is lovely, but it's a fantasy. The U.N. is nothing more than a bigger instantiation of the basic fact that, at the end of the day, it's up to us.

Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2004, 01:49 AM:

Um, great. Snap at me.

You're saying that I'm naive if I believe the U.N. would be suckered into making such a commitment, right? Or are you saying that a U.N. peacekeeping force would consist primarily of American soldiers, who'd get shot at and killed, all the same, no matter what flag is on their uniform?

You're not saying that the U.N. *can't* send a multinational peace keeping force to Iraq if we request it in the Security Council? Isn't a multinational U.N. Security Force already active in Haiti, as the result of a Security Council emergency resolution?

Negroponte is already on record as being open to the possibility of asking the Security Council to send a security force to Iraq.

What I said is that this might not be a bad idea. I'm not as up, as you apparently are, on internal U.N. politics that would prevent them from going through with it. Obviously, Bush would have to do some backpedalling and make some promises that he hasn't shown any evidence of being willing to make. And the U.S. would have to relinquish its nominal control of the country. I don't think the Security Council is likely to vote to send in peacekeepers acting under United States command. But my suggestion was, as an alternative to simply cutting and running or continuing to go it alone, to request the U.N. coalition that Bush was too bullheaded to ask for when he started the war. Ask the U.N. (including the hated France and Germany) to administer Iraq until legitimate elections can take place.

My second sentence was the suggestion that even if the United States wound up providing most of the bodies in an International peacekeeping force, having them there under the U.N. might defuse the Iraqi anger that's currently specifically focused on the United States. Maybe there would be fewer bombings and less armed resistance.

I'm sorry if I'm overlooking something that's blatantly obvious to you -- like the Security Council making a unanimous statement that Bush can go to hell, as far as they're concerned.

James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2004, 02:02 PM:

Hi, Lenny.

Before we discuss the UN, let's look at today's news. Since the time I posted yesterday:

Five US troops killed, six wounded (three critical, three serious). A Marine wounded last week has died.

Twelve Iraqi civilians killed, 25 wounded in Baghdad.

Two Iraqi police, two civilians killed in Tikrit, 16 others wounded.

Five insurgents killed in Karbala.

Rocket attack in Taji, no casualties.

Fallujah continues in an armed stand-off. Who knows when whose patience will be exhausted there?

Meanwhile, al-Sadr (who, whatever else he is, isn't a left-over Baathist) is threatening suicide attacks if the US conducts military operations in Najaf or Karbala. When we see that five insurgents were killed in Karbala, that doesn't add up to Good News for Anyone.

Five folks have been arrested in Iraq, connected with the bombings in Basra, who supposedly have al Qaeda links. If al Qaeda wasn't there before (and it wasn't), it sure is now.

Bremer has announced that whatever government is installed in Iraq on 30 June, it won't have a legislature.

No weapons of mass destruction have been found, but who really expects to find any now?

So....

Things aren't really going swimmingly.

Now, as to the UN -- I seem to recall Bush et al. telling the UN that they were irrelevant, and starting this war without UN permission. While we all know the argument that the US don't need no stinkin' permission to start a war, in fact we (or any other nation) do need the broad consensus of nations that a war in necessary in order to carry one out. Note that the war in Afghanistan had world-wide approval, as did Gulf War I. War is so terrible that it should only happen for the very best of reasons.

So, Colin Powell lied to the UN (perhaps he himself had been misled), and Bush/Rumsfeld/Cheney told the UN they were irrelevant. That's not going to give the UN a lot of incentive to pull our steaks out of the fire.

Is it likely that the UN member nations in general will want to send troops to support the Bush Doctrine (that the US can start a war anywhere in response to a possible potential future threat)? That's a lousy precedent. The Preemptive Defense of Germany against Poland, of Japan against the US, of Germany against the Soviet Union, of North Korea against South Korea, have given the entire idea a bad name.

Yeah, I know, the Illuminati conspired to start WWII. "Preemptive Defense" is virutally indistinguishable from unprovoked aggression, and a real step backward in the history of civilization.

But suppose the UN does take over Iraq. I expect that it'll primarily be US troops and US money that will pay for and wear the blue helmets.

Nor do I imagine that Iraqis will be thrilled to have continued foreign occupation of their soil. I expect continued casualties. Whether either a US force or a UN force, we're still looking at thousands more dead, primarily Americans.

(Recall that the US didn't fight alone in Vietnam, either. Y'all have heard of the FWMAF (Free World Military Assistance Forces), what they were calling the "Coalition of the Willing" back thirty years ago. Australia, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand, the Philippines, and Thailand combined put 68,000 troops on the ground. Thirty-four other nations participated with non-military support.)

So, I'm not seeing a happy outcome, and I'm seeing UN/Not-UN as equivalent. Continued warfare, and at the end (whenever it comes) a radical-fundamentalist Iraq hostile to the Western democracies.

When Caesar crossed the Rubicon, he said "The die is cast." Bush should have known that sometimes you roll boxcars ... and sometimes you roll snake eyes. Enough people said that very thing -- on this very web log, among other places -- enough people stood in the streets in peaceful demonstration -- our topic hosts among them -- before the war that ignorance can not be made an excuse for Mr. Bush's conduct.

James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2004, 03:53 PM:

This just in:

Three boats exploded, one after being board by coalition personnel, near oil tankers docked at an Iraqi oil terminal, a British military spokesman said. Details soon.

Meanwhile, we've had people imprisoned at GITMO, never charged with a crime, unable to contact a lawyer, for two years. Is this the example we want the world to follow?

Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2004, 05:42 PM:

Hey Jim:

It might be helpful if your "as you know, Bob" preface omitted the unnecessary stuff about the Illuminati and pre-emptive war. You don't need that to continue hitting on the point that the situation over there is grim, more American soldiers are getting killed every day, and none of us is happy about it.

I gather that's where you want this thread to go -- grief about unavoidable tragedy -- with venting on the side about the inherent evil of the non-elected Administration that got us into this. And then what? A general strike against the U.S. government? Or just more active Kerry campaigning, (which most of us are already convinced is a moral responsibility)?

I asked whether requesting the U.N. to take over administrative control, *now,* might be an alternative to cutting and running on June 30th, or simply keeping troops there for 10 years to protect American interest in a hostile theocracy.

OK, it might not be.

1) The Bush Administration isn't likely to reverse itself, apologize, and ask them to do it.

2) The Security Council might not accept the responsibility even if the Bush administration did ask them.

3) If the Security Council did accept the responsibility for overseeing transition to an elected government, or preventing wholesale anarchy in Iraq, most of the money and manpower would probably still come from the United States.

Those are all reasonable objections to a proposal that U.N. intervention in Iraq would offer a magic solution with a happy ending.

I didn't say it would. I suggested that that it might make the situation better than it is now -- and that it seems, to me, to be preferable to a simple cut-and-run withdrawal of all U.S. presence from the country.

1) At least Negroponte, in the Bush administration, has expressed willingness to look at the advantages of requesting the Security Council to take over interim administration of Iraq. You have realistic pessimism (backed up by Juan Cole) about the Iraqis hating *any* outside presence. But it seems to me that the United States might deflect some of the moral outrage of the rest of the world by acknowledging that it bit off more than it could chew and asking the Security Council to intervene in Iraq as a disaster area -- in the same way the U.N. might be asked to intervene in any unstable disaster area.

2) Would the Security Council do it? I don't know. There have been consistent statements from the French, German, and Russian governments that they would favor sending in troops *if* the United States granted full control of Iraq to the United Nations. This has been the principal condition of other Security Council members for the last six months for volunteering to send troops to the U.N. for the purpose of peacekeeping in Iraq.

Has the recent escalation of violence changed that situation? I wouldn't sell the willingness of member U.N. nations to volunteer short, if they thought it might actually mitigate the suffering and violence currently going on in the country. Kofi Annan is still making statements to that effect.

It is clear that other Security Council members aren't going to vote to let Bush have his cake and eat it, too. You seem to be objecting that we've permanently burned the option of asking the Security Council for help, because any action on their part would be seen as an affirmation of the policies of Richard Perle.

Maybe I'm naive in having a shred of belief that the Security Council might intervene, if Bush admitted, publicly, that it's beyond our ability to control and we need help. But you haven't offered evidence for that, yet, other than the restatement of something we all agree on -- that what Bush has done so far is a stupid and criminal disaster.

Google around for statements from Security Council members. I don't have a killer link for you, but I've found pages full of statements that member nations would be willing to support U.N. intervention if the U.S. relinquished control of the country.

3) What if the Security Council did intervene? How much good would it do?

The message I get from you is "none." It would just be U.S. soldiers getting killed wearing different colored helmets.

I made the tentative suggestion that having a multinational force in there instead of Rumsfeld's "coalition" might partially defuse Iraqi anger at the U.S., possibly reducing the intensity of the current bombing and armed resistance.

We have Juan Cole's analysis that the Iraquis want all foreigners out, asap. Is that going to happen? Are we actually going to reduce our troop presence there? If we're screwed whether we do or don't, I think there might be some small mitigation in changing the issue to what a multinational U.N. force is going to do, rather than to what Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld are going to do.

I have a stronger belief that relinquishing Iraq to the U.N. might be a good public relations move for the United States. It might reduce the fuel for terrorists to "justify" acts of terrorism within our borders. (The justification would be false, in any event -- but if we're talking about psychopaths, reducing the fuel they can use to manufacture hatred and support from bitter, disenfranchised people is all to the good.)

My impression is that a number of other governments and private citizens in the world would like to see the U.N. take over administrative and peace keeping functions in Iraq because it's the right thing to do.

Is this actually likely to happen? Not if you try to estimate it within the context of current Bush/Cheney public statements.

If this thread is reserved for expression of grief and venting at the horror Bush and Cheney have brought into the world, then I apologize for trying trying to think of a way out of it.

But I still have the impression that there are citizens and governments in the world that would like to try to mitigate the horror, if we'd let them.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2004, 07:06 PM:

Sorry to have snapped at you, Lenny. I've been unreasonably snappish online lately.

I do still wonder what good the U.N. can do, and whether it wouldn't just serve to give the current clusterfuck an unearned imprimatur of international consensus, to the distinct long-term disadvantage of the U.N. But maybe it'll happen and maybe I'm wrong.

James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2004, 07:27 PM:

Lenny, I'd like to mitigate the grief and horror of this war.

Right now, whether it's the US declaring victory tomorrow or the UN declaring victory ten years from now, I really don't see a way for anything to remain in Iraq other than an Islamic-fundamentalist state. I have serious doubts that democracy can be installed on the point of a bayonet.

If we're in the land of might-have-been, it might have been clever to wait for Saddam to die of natural causes, for Uday and Qusai to fight over the crown, for the Shi'ites, Kurds, and Sunnis to go three different ways, and for the UN to then come in to restore peace, provide security, and establish a stable, democratic, secular government.

That's an option that's not open any more. Options are closing on a daily basis.

This isn't the Gloom-and-Doom thread, no. But other than a new President handing over the entire mess to the UN without our participation on the ground, and at the same time handing over Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld to the International Court of Justice to explain themselves, I'm not seeing a happy ending for that country, for ours, or for lots of other people and places.

It doesn't take a lot of people to make a country ungovernable by foreigners.

There's another path, of course. To return with massive military force, to remove the velvet glove, to make a desolation and call it peace. That's been done before, with greater success than we're currently enjoying.

Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2004, 01:21 PM:

FWIW, I've just been listening to Howard Dean telling a KPFA reporter at the March for Women's Lives in Washington D.C., that he believes the interim administration of Iraq should be turned over to the U.N., asap. The reporter tried several times to get him to agree that Kerry is now echoing many of Bush's International policy statements (sending more troops to Iraq, supporting Ariel Sharon), but Dean wasn't going for it.

Instead, Dean stressed the differences between Kerry and Bush and urged the reporter to look at the whole picture of choosing between the two candidates.

James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2004, 03:33 PM:

Handing over Iraq to the UN might work, but I think only if the US recuses itself from the UN forces/administration in Iraq.

James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2004, 12:20 AM:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- L. Paul Bremer, the U.S. administrator in Iraq, said in a speech six months before the September 11, 2001 attacks that the Bush administration was "paying no attention" to terrorism.

"What they will do is stagger along until there's a major incident and then suddenly say, 'Oh my God, shouldn't we be organized to deal with this,"' said Bremer at McCormick Tribune Foundation conference on terrorism on February 26, 2001.

Bremer spoke at the conference shortly after he chaired the National Commission on Terrorism, a bipartisan body formed by the Clinton administration to examine U.S. counterterrorism policies.

...

That's from CNN today.

Let's see ... since the last time I posted, the Marines have repositioned themselves outside Fallujah, handing over the city to an ex-Republican Guard commander.

We've lost 28 more troopers.

No weapons of mass destruction have been found.

No links between Saddam and al Qaeda have been found.

Photographs of US and British guards abusing Iraqi prisoners have made front-page news all over the world.

Nine out of the Army's ten divisions are currently in Iraq or have just returned from Iraq.

Today is the one-year anniversary of "Mission Accomplished."


James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2004, 01:52 AM:

Since my last post: Thirty-three more coaltion troops dead in Iraq.

One US civilian killed by al Qaeda.

The prison-abuse scandal has blown even higher, with calls for Secretary Rumsfeld to resign coming from The Army Times, among many others.

No sign of weapons of mass destruction.

We're about six weeks from the scheduled hand-over of Iraq to Iraqi authority, and we're seeing the first glimmer of a Declare Victory and Get Out strategy:

...


Powell Says Troops Would Leave Iraq if New Leaders Asked

By Glenn Kessler
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, May 15, 2004; Page A01

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, joined by the foreign ministers of nations making key contributions of military forces in Iraq, emphatically said yesterday that if the incoming Iraqi interim government ordered the departure of foreign troops after July 1, they would pack up without protest.

"We would leave," Powell said, noting that he was "not ducking the hypothetical, which I usually do," to avoid confusion on the extent of the new government's authority.

Looks like that's going to be the exit strategy, and hope that the Islamic Republic of Iraq doesn't fund any suicide terror inside the US until after the presidential elections.

This will decrease the number of US troops who are being killed on a daily basis, for a while, anyway, but I'm not certain that a destabilized, radicalized Iraq is really in our best long-term interest.

James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2004, 02:42 PM:

Since my last post... is there a point in posting casualty figures?

We're stripping training cadre and South Korea to find troops to send to Iraq.

Torture for prisoners was ordered at the very highest levels of the US government.



Bush administration lawyers contended last year that the president wasn't bound by laws prohibiting torture and that government agents who might torture prisoners at his direction couldn't be prosecuted by the Justice Department.


And Ahmed Chalabi turned out to be an Iranian agent, passing disinformation to the US (including those stories about weapons of mass destruction, and how the people of Iraq would greet us with flowers and sweets) while simultaneously passing classified and sensitive information back to Teheran.

President Bush has consulted with a private lawyer over the Plame case.

We shot to pieces a wedding party out in the western desert of Iraq.

And a couple of artillery shells showed up in roadside bombs, one with a residue of mustard gas, another with components of sarin. Remember Terry Karney saying in this very thread back on 29JUL03 "What we did think he might have (and yes, it was that vague a postulate) was some Mustard, and some Sarin, and no good way to deliver either"? Well, that's what turned out to be.

Other than those two shells, nothing else. All that existed? Possibly. Fallen into the hands of terrorists? Definitely. Good job, Bush. Good job, Rumsfeld. Why haven't you guys been impeached yet?

Only a traitor, only someone who hates America, could possibly vote for Bush now.

James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2004, 04:24 PM:

"We feel right now that we have, as I mentioned, broken the back of the insurgency and we've taken away the safe haven."

-- Lieutenant General John Sattler, November 18th, 2004

"They couldn't hit an elephant at this distance."

-- General John Sedgwick, May 8th, 1864