...it's not dark yet, but it's gettin' there...

July 16, 2004

He Said What i Been Saying, Only Better

If i might be allowed to boast a little, in a blog post yesterday, Steven Den Beste articulates what i've been trying to tell people about the Iraq War for two years now. Summed up in my most pithy way: "It's the regime change, stupid!"

At the risk of sounding like a "me-tooer" (i really have been making this point all along, but never as clearly, alas, than Mr. Den Beste) here is the relevant stuff, quoted at length:

WMDs were never the real purpose of the invasion. WMDs were the focus of the spotlight, however, because of serious diplomatic efforts to gain [United Nations Security Council] approval for an invasion. Within the context of the UNSC, the only way to justify an invasion was to claim that Iraq had not fully cooperated with UN inspectors. Which, . . . Saddam's government had not, even as late as March 2003.

But the public justification made in the UN had nothing to do with the real purpose, the real strategic goal which required the invasion. [Washington Monthly blogger Kevin Drum] makes casual reference to that, when he says, Facts on the ground have never been allowed to interfere with George Bush's worldview, and he wasn't about to take the chance that they might interfere with his war.

Except that 'facts on the ground' did not interfere or contradict the real purpose, which was to depose a corrupt dictator and to 'nation build' so as to make one core Arab nation a better place for the people living there. By so doing, the goal was to infect the imaginations and aspirations of the citizens in other nations in the region, to 'destabilize' the corrupt dictatorships in charge and to try to bring about long term change to the whole region. And that could not be publicly proclaimed at the time without deeply imperiling the strategy for the overall war.

So why were we at the UN? Mainly because Tony Blair needed to fulfill a promise made to the more leftist MPs in his party that he would not take the UK to war without a UNSC resolution or an 'unreasonable veto'. There were other reasons as well, but that was the most important one.

So we went to the UNSC to seek permission for something we actually had the capability of doing. (The only permission Bush actually required was granted to him by Congress in October of 2002.) And when it finally became clear that permission would not be forthcoming, we went ahead and did it anyway.

. . .

For some, that made it an 'illegal war'. It was a 'war of choice', not a 'war of necessity'. It was a 'violation of international law'.

None of those distinctions actually matter. . . . They're also all matters of opinion, subject to considerable dispute. . . .

. . . I happen to think that the invasion was necessary. But it wasn't necessary in order to gain revenge for direct Iraqi involvement in the 9/11 attack (there's no significant evidence that Saddam's government was directly implicated in that) or to prevent 'imminent danger'. It was necessary in order to prevent significant non-imminent danger.

Aha! There you go.

In my view, anti-war people have been too focused on the past. The war was illegal, they insist. There were no WMDs. Saddam and Al Qaeda didn't cooperate.

Neocons, of which i count myself one, always focused on the future. They said: After 9/11, we can no longer afford to trust that Saddam will not create and provide WMDs to the terrorists. WMDs which they intend to use against American civilians.

The existence or non-existence of WMDs in Iraq at the time of the war does not change the fact that Saddam . . . had . . . to . . . go.

Link props to David Boxenhorn, who has a slightly different take on justification and priorities.

Posted by annika, Jul. 16, 2004 |
Rubric: annikapunditry


what about iran and kim mentally ill.

Posted by: Dex on Jul. 16, 2004


Cable companies have been given the green light to begin carrying the legendary and respected Arab based news channel.

Canadian viewers will soon be able to watch the Arabic Al-Jazeera network, after the federal broadcast regulator on Thursday approved the network's distribution by cable companies.
Cable companies have been eager to pick up the network, known as the more credible CNN of the Arab world, which was already being watched by some Canadians using "grey-market" technology that the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission considers illegal.

A regard, at which point it takes a long time the kingdom in Whingers at the beginning which foams on this one. As I knew, not too a long time: * von our expensive rube small Katie death entendement. *

Brought zu with you by approving it the body, which of the Canadian before that propogandist FoxNews to protect.

I declare you , why it this control and not fox guthiessen, rube. Canada has already an access to the dozen and the led dozen the corporative United States ReichWhinge. Us not however to have an access to Arabic. C-with-D. if it offers a diversity and the truth to Canadians.

It female ignorant.

[Editorial comments translated into frog for the benefit of the French-speaking. an.]

Posted by: Robert Mc-Clelland on Jul. 17, 2004

Methinks brother Mc-Clelland may have erroneously landed in the wrong blogland.

This here is Bush County; if you want sand, move to the Mideast.

Fallujah Delenda Est.

Posted by: shelly s. on Jul. 17, 2004

The existence or non-existence of WMDs in Iraq at the time of war does not change the fact that Saddam had to go

Perhaps, but it does not change the fact that the President of the United States got on television and told bald faced lies (whether or not you believe he knew they were lies, they WERE lies nontheless). So now that the dust has settled and the voting public can look back at that decision with some perspective, can we punish a president for lying? I think we can. If we can punish a president for lying about a blowjob, then certainly we can punish a president for lying that caused the deaths of nearly 1000 US soldiers. This fact is not lost on those who support the military in so called red states. I am heartened when I talk to some family members back in Colorado (a red state) who voted for Bush in 2000 and are now thinking that the war wasn't such a hot idea and are seriously considering voting for Kerry. I think Bush has a real credibility problem that goes beyond flip-flopping. It is the lying and the company he keeps... Ken Lay, Prince Bandar, the Bin Ladin family... etc. I love his comments about Ken Lay after he was indicted. "He was an acquaintance from years ago. I really haven't had much contact with him..." Oh yeah, except that I flew around in his Enron jets during the 2000 presidential campaign. Hmmm.

Posted by: Graham on Jul. 21, 2004

Graham - The community of nations may see more and more of the very kind of threat Iraq poses now: a rogue state with weapons of mass destruction, ready to use them or provide them to terrorists," the president of the United States warned. "If we fail to respond today, Saddam and all those who would follow in his footsteps will be emboldened tomorrow." The President was Bill Clinton. Was he a liar too?

The difference between GWB and BC is that BC relied on ineffectual, precision strike missiles with limited effects and thus minimal casualities while GWB relied on the one of the truest cliches in war - You may fly over a land forever; you may bomb it, atomize it, pulverize it and wipe it clean of life—but if you desire to defend it, protect it, and keep it for civilization, you must do this on the ground, the way the Roman legions did, by putting your young men into the mud.”

If the voters think GWB's approach was wrong - ok. Or that he, like BC, should have cleaned up the culture and stovepiped nature of the Intel Community - ok too.

But for lying?

JF Kerry said he was supporting the resolution “to disarm Saddam Hussein because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a real and grave threat to our security.”

That was on Oct. 9, 2002. As the prospect of war rose, so did Kerry’s rhetoric. On Jan. 2003, Kerry said, “Without question, we need to disarm Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal, murderous dictator, leading an oppressive regime. He presents a particularly grievous threat because he is so consistently prone to miscalculation….And now he is miscalculating America’s response to his continued deceit and his consistent grasp for weapons of mass destruction…So the threat of Saddam Hussein with weapons of mass destruction is real.”

Umm..Kerry voted to give the President authority to use force against Iraq - but he along with the 76 other senators bear no responsibility for the resulting consequences?

Dex - We don't invade NK because our conflict is with China and we'd prefer it to go the route of the old Cold War where we either beat the economically or the impact of economic expansion causes an internal regime change..Why do you think China doesn't invade Taiwan? Neither of us want to start a major conflict..yet.

Iran - the geography makes it a little harder..also, there are reasons to hope the internal political dynamics within Iran may give rise to a more secular, (relatively) moderate state..especially with a Shia majority model next door in Iraq..and now they are squeezed between (hopefully) pro-US Iraq and Afghanistan..

Annika - You're partially right..but you can't forget the US is the global guarantor of oil for the world economy..if the House of Saud falls, which seemed (and still does) probable given their failure to deal with the radical elements in their own country, then either Iraq or Iran would likely make a move to protect the minority and poorly treated Shia in the NE where the oil fields are..and guess what would happen to the world economy then? It's a very complex campaign that could produce stunning impacts on the global security environment or become a protracted quagmire..the plan was good, but as they say, most plans are useless once the shooting starts..

Posted by: Col Steve on Jul. 22, 2004

Unfortunately Col Steve, it sounds like your argument is that since Kerry and Bill Clinton also thought Saddam was a threat then they are may also be liars therefore Bush is not alone. Not a very convincing argument. A key phrase regarding the Kerry comment on Saddam is "I believe" why do you think Kerry would believe that Saddam was a grave threat? Perhaps bad intelligence that was not vetted and properly analyzed and not based on human intelligence other than disgruntled Iraqis like Ahmed Chalabi who has been shown to be a fraud. I can't blame Kerry for voting for a resoution authorizing force under such circumstances (also timed right before an election). I can't really blame 70% of Americans who think that Saddam was behind 9/11 attacks. However, I (and a majority of Americans will as well) blame the purveyors of both of those frauds who include Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Donald Rumsfeld, George Tenet and George Bush. They did not present any contradictory evidence or convey proper levels of uncertainty of their data. The public statements made by those people were very clear with out doubt or any sort of caveats. Letting the UN continue inspections might have revealed much more information. Do you remember what UNSCOM was doing right before the US/UK decided to invade? I do. They were destroying Al Samoud missiles that violated UN sanctions. The timing of the attack was a lie as well. Cynically, one might say it was to get the fighting and dying over with before Nov 2004 elections since that doesn't play well on TV during an election. Where are the cheering crowds and rose petal greetings that were mentioned? Sorry, I don't think you can drag down Kerry and Clinton on this one. Bush is the commander in chief, Bush made the call and told specific lies in the SoTU. The buck stops where???

Posted by: Graham on Jul. 22, 2004

This says it all about how the election might go:

From a CBS News poll

Telling entire truth 18%
Hiding something 59%
Mostly lying 20%

A scientific poll with a +-3% error. NOT a web poll.

Posted by: Graham on Jul. 22, 2004

Graham -
I was pointing out the inconsistency in your post. You wrote:

"Perhaps, but it does not change the fact that the President of the United States got on television and told bald faced lies (whether or not you believe he knew they were lies, they WERE lies nontheless)"

The key phrase you wrote was "(whether or not you believe he knew they were lies)."

If he KNEW the intelligence was falsified (and let Colin Powell go before the UN just like BC let his defenders did on Monica), then I would support your assertion we can "punish a president for lying."

You leave room for the possibility (personally you seem to have reach the conclusion GWB and others knew the intel was false) though that people took the intel community's products and analysis as reliable.

You let the Senators who voted to authorize (and continue to fund) operations in Iraq off the hook because they acted in good faith based on the intelligence -

"Perhaps bad intelligence that was not vetted and properly analyzed and not based on human intelligence other than disgruntled Iraqis like Ahmed Chalabi who has been shown to be a fraud."

I am challenging your inconsistency that if the President acted based on the same understanding of intelligence that the Senators received, then he can be held accountable for "lying" while the Senators cannot.

I acknowledge the President made decisions based on the intelligence and the voters should judge him for those decisions as well as the execution of those policies. But unless you believe he was lying (and where's the proof - I've worked in both the NSC and DOD since 98 and personally think that while there's been a lot of incompentent people from both adminstrations working in those orgs, I have never seen any indication or actions to falsify intelligence), the standards should be the same for both Congress and the President.

And if we're going to blame GWB for failure to challenge the intel community (after only 1 yr in office and it took 9/11 to get this administration to start getting its act together in the NSC and DOD), you have to ask what those House and Senate members on the Intelligence Oversight committees were doing for a decade as they handed out tens of billions of dollars and why folks in the last administration such as Sandy Berger and Bill Cohen reached the same conclusions as the Bush folks.

Oh, please stop the timing of the war was based on the election. If you've been to that region of the world and understand the influences of weather on basic military operations, you would reach the same conclusion that military planners did - you had to start operations before April or wait another 6 months. There was no "lie" - it was based on the optimal conditions to conduct operations - which I believe is a rational and sound position assuming you have decided to go to war.

Granted, you may have opted to wait and let the UN do its thing and that's was a feasible course of action. However, as Annika's original posting indicated, this whole campaign has a much greater endstate in mind. You may disagree with that endstate or may believe there are different policies to achieve it - we'll see what folks say in November.

As for your poll, the results don't seem to translate into how people are stating they'll vote. Also, if asked that question, I'd answer in the middle category. I work in this area and even I know I'm not privy nor should I be to all the information. But it's a false choice because "hiding something" is not qualified - does it mean hiding information he thinks should not get out because our enemies would also know it? or does it mean he's hiding secret memos where he told George Tenet to start making stuff up?

As for the Rose petal comment, I agree with you to an extent. The civilian leadership overruled the military planners (as is their right) based on bad assumptions (influence no doubt by Iraqi exiles) in terms of the amount of resources we should have had immediately after major combat operations in order to set the conditions for the post-hostilities stabilization and reconstruction operations. I think we learned a hard lesson at the cost of both time and human lives. I personally felt GWB should have fired some of the 2d tier Pentagon folks.

We'll see what the voter say in Nov.

Posted by: Col Steve on Jul. 22, 2004