Why we fought

by Ted on May 2, 2005

After reading Kevin Drum, Julian Sanchez, and Glenn Reynolds, I’ve come to the following conclusions:

1. It is too much to say that “democratization of the Middle East” argument was only seized upon by the Administration after the failure to find WMDs. It’s not hard to find pre-war quotes from Bush where he pitches the benefits of a democratic Iraq. So there’s a reasonable argument that the quote which arouses Reynolds’ ire (“The only plausible reason for keeping American troops in Iraq is to protect the democratic transformation that President Bush seized upon as a rationale for the invasion after his claims about weapons of mass destruction turned out to be fictitious.”) is misleading, if you interpret “after” as “only after”.

2. However, it’s impossible to make a straight-faced argument that democratization was the main argument, or even an important argument, behind the Bush Administration’s case for war.

Over and over again, Bush insisted that we were giving Saddam the chance to avoid war. He assured his audiences that Saddam could prevent an invasion by disarming. Not by democratizing, not by ceasing his brutal tactics, and (until hours before the invasion) not by leaving power. In fact, Bush makes this promise in just about every speech linked in Reynolds’ “link-rich refutation.”

If the U.S. was willing to cancel the overthrow of Saddam’s brutal, undemocratic goverment in the event that he could show proof of disarmament, then neither democracy promotion nor human rights could have been the reason for the invasion. I can’t see any way to square this circle.

October 2, 2002

Joint Resolution to Authorize the Use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq. The preamble decried Saddam’s brutality, but the authorization was based on the President’s assesment of the threat from Iraq, and its compliance with Security Council resolutions to disarm.

In connection with the exercise of the authority granted in subsection (a) to use force the President shall, prior to such exercise or as soon there after as may be feasible, but no later than 48 hours after exercising such authority, make available to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President pro tempore of the Senate his determination that

(1) reliance by the United States on further diplomatic or other peaceful means alone either (A) will not adequately protect the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq or (B) is not likely to lead to enforcement of all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq, and

(2) acting pursuant to this resolution is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations or persons who planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorists attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.

January 29, 2003
State of the Union

We have called on the United Nations to fulfill its charter and stand by its demand that Iraq disarm. We are strongly supporting the International Atomic Energy Agency in its mission to track and control nuclear materials around the world. We are working with other governments to secure nuclear materials in the former Soviet Union and to strengthen global treaties banning the production and shipment of missile technologies and weapons of mass destruction.

In all of these efforts, however, America’s purpose is more than to follow a process. It is to achieve a result: the end of terrible threats to the civilized world….

We will consult, but let there be no misunderstanding: If Saddam Hussein does not fully disarm for the safety of our people, and for the peace of the world, we will lead a coalition to disarm him….

And if war is forced upon us, we will fight with the full force and might of the United States military, and we will prevail.

February 6, 2003
President Bush: “World Can Rise to This Moment”

This is the situation as we find it. Twelve years after Saddam Hussein agreed to disarm, and 90 days after the Security Council passed Resolution 1441 by a unanimous vote, Saddam Hussein was required to make a full declaration of his weapons programs. He has not done so. Saddam Hussein was required to fully cooperate in the disarmament of his regime; he has not done so. Saddam Hussein was given a final chance; he is throwing that chance away.

February 9, 2003
Remarks by the President at the 2003 “Congress of Tomorrow” Republican Retreat Reception

Therefore, when we hear of stories about weapons of mass destruction in the hands of a brutal dictator, who hates America, we need to take that seriously, and we are. And when we find out there’s links between Baghdad and a killer who actually ordered the killing of one of our fellow citizens, we’ve got to realize the—what that means to our future.

And that’s why this administration and this country is holding the U.N. Security Council and the world to its demands that Saddam Hussein disarm. It is important for the country to realize that Saddam Hussein has fooled the world for 12 years, is used to fooling the world, is confident he can fool the world. He is—wants the world to think that hide and seek is a game that we should play. And it’s over….

But one thing is certain, for the sake of peace and for the sake of security, the United States and our friends and allies, we will disarm Saddam Hussein if he will not disarm himself. (Applause.)

February 26, 2003

In Iraq, a dictator is building and hiding weapons that could enable him to dominate the Middle East and intimidate the civilized world—and we will not allow it. (Applause.) This same tyrant has close ties to terrorist organizations, and could supply them with the terrible means to strike this country—and America will not permit it. The danger posed by Saddam Hussein and his weapons cannot be ignored or wished away. The danger must be confronted. We hope that the Iraqi regime will meet the demands of the United Nations and disarm, fully and peacefully. If it does not, we are prepared to disarm Iraq by force. Either way, this danger will be removed. (Applause.)

March 8, 2003
President’s Radio Address

The attacks of September the 11, 2001 showed what the enemies of America did with four airplanes. We will not wait to see what terrorists or terror states could do with weapons of mass destruction. We are determined to confront threats wherever they arise. And, as a last resort, we must be willing to use military force. We are doing everything we can to avoid war in Iraq. But if Saddam Hussein does not disarm peacefully, he will be disarmed by force.

March 15, 2003
President’s Radio Address

There is little reason to hope that Saddam Hussein will disarm. If force is required to disarm him, the American people can know that our armed forces have been given every tool and every resource to achieve victory. The people of Iraq can know that every effort will be made to spare innocent life, and to help Iraq recover from three decades of totalitarian rule. And plans are in place to provide Iraqis with massive amounts of food, as well as medicine and other essential supplies, in the event of hostilities.

March 16, 2003

President Bush: Monday “Moment of Truth” for World on Iraq

Saddam Hussein has a history of mass murder. He possesses the weapons of mass murder. He agrees—he agreed to disarm Iraq of these weapons as a condition for ending the Gulf War over a decade ago. The United Nations Security Council, in Resolution 1441, has declared Iraq in material breach of its longstanding obligations, demanding once again Iraq’s full and immediate disarmament, and promised serious consequences if the regime refused to comply. That resolution was passed unanimously and its logic is inescapable; the Iraqi regime will disarm itself, or the Iraqi regime will be disarmed by force. And the regime has not disarmed itself.

March 17, 2003
Remarks by the President in Address to the Nation

In recent days, some governments in the Middle East have been doing their part. They have delivered public and private messages urging the dictator to leave Iraq, so that disarmament can proceed peacefully. He has thus far refused. All the decades of deceit and cruelty have now reached an end. Saddam Hussein and his sons must leave Iraq within 48 hours. Their refusal to do so will result in military conflict, commenced at a time of our choosing. For their own safety, all foreign nationals—including journalists and inspectors—should leave Iraq immediately.

This was the first time that Bush stated that there would be war unless Saddam (and his sons) stepped down from power in Iraq.

{ 104 comments }

1

Eric 05.02.05 at 2:27 pm

Damn you.. bringing fact to the discussion.. how dare you :-P

2

P ONeill 05.02.05 at 2:37 pm

Congratulations on wading through this stuff. The bottom line is that the White House was lying then or it’s lying now. Either it was democracy promotion all along, in which case the WMD process was a charade — invasion was coming even with compliance. Or it really was WMD, in which case they were severely incompetent then, and are lying now. And of course, note that the entire UK debate running into election has been predicated on the notion that regime change, per se is not a valid basis for invasion.

3

Detlef 05.02.05 at 2:41 pm

Did you read the “The secret Downing Street memo” from July 2002?
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2087-1593607,00.html

“C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime’s record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.

The Foreign Secretary said he would discuss this with Colin Powell this week. It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided. But the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran. We should work up a plan for an ultimatum to Saddam to allow back in the UN weapons inspectors. This would also help with the legal justification for the use of force.

The Attorney-General said that the desire for regime change was not a legal base for military action. There were three possible legal bases: self-defence, humanitarian intervention, or UNSC authorisation. The first and second could not be the base in this case. Relying on UNSCR 1205 of three years ago would be difficult. The situation might of course change.”

I found especially interesting:
“…the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.”
“…no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime’s record.”
“…little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.”
“…his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran.”

4

tad brennan 05.02.05 at 2:46 pm

To make the quote non-misleading I do not think we need to read “after” as “only after”.

Instead, we simply need to stress the phrased “seized upon as a rationale”.

Bush may have mentioned democratization as an ancillary benefit before the the discovery that there were no WMD.

But he never seized upon it as a rationale, i.e. he never built his case for war around it, nor even made it the second or third most important rationale.

I think the quote is perfectly accurate as it stands.

5

RSL 05.02.05 at 2:51 pm

The neocons articulated their reasons for attacking Iraq very clearly (and openly) in the late 1990s. Some relevant documents dating well before 9/11 include:

http://www.newamericancentury.org/iraqletter1998.htm

http://www.newamericancentury.org/iraqclintonletter.htm

http://www.israeleconomy.org/strat1.htm

September 11 was merely an excuse for implementing a long-sought-after policy of the neocons. As Paul Wolfowitz has already admitted, keeping WMDs out of the hands of terrorists was emphasized as the reason for the war primarily because it was the only reason they thought they could sell to the American people and Congress. Democratization of the Arab world was an expressed goal, but (from the documents above) it seems to me like a secondary goal and less important than creating an American/Israeli hegemony in the Middle East.

6

Daniel 05.02.05 at 2:52 pm

It’s a real shame that Bernie Ebbers didn’t think of this defence; after all, the WorldCom accounts were by this standard substantially accurate, and he certainly mentioned at every stage that they weren’t cash-positive.

7

P ONeill 05.02.05 at 3:13 pm

Reynolds and the other White House spinners could even update their terminology to the new Andrew Card standard as applied to social security: the different rationales for invading Iraq are all “directionally consistent” with each other even if they contain significant differences.

8

Mario 05.02.05 at 3:32 pm

Actually it’s very easy to square this circle.

It was obvious enough that Saddam was not going to disarm, and even if he did, Bush still would have invaded. US troops were amassed all along the Gulf. Saddam even tried at the last minute to prevent invasion. But it didn’t matter then, as it wouldn’t have ever mattered. WMD was a good reason to SELL to the public; just because Bush SOLD it that way doesn’t mean that’s the reason we went to war.

9

Greg 05.02.05 at 3:42 pm

WMD looked like a pretext even before the invasion, though. After all, the evidence being presented for their existence wasn’t good enough to convince, well, us. Was it really good enough to convince the likes of Powell or even Rice, Cheney, and Rumsfeld?

I reckon the real reason lies in a combination of Wolfowitz’s domino theory on the democratization of the Middle East and simple power politics – Iraq was publicly sticking two fingers up the US and that couldn’t be allowed. Prestige and credibility were at stake.

10

Barry 05.02.05 at 3:58 pm

Mario, UN inspectors were roaming Iraq pretty freely. IIRC, Hans Blix said that they had run into no obstruction of practical importance.

Which wasn’t good enough for Bush.

11

C.J.Colucci 05.02.05 at 4:00 pm

Whatever may have been in the secret hearts of various administration figures (if I live long enough for the documents to be declassified and historians to pore over them I’ll be fascinated to find out), W made one public demand and one only in the run-up to war: disarm. I never thought they’d take “yes” for an answer, and they didn’t. But that was just my hunch. Something else was going on, as the results show, and I wish I knew what it was.

12

Mario 05.02.05 at 4:25 pm

Barry, I understand your point, but that wasn’t what I was getting at. What I’m saying is that even if Saddam had disarmed, Bush still would have invaded. Bush’s quotes above were empty sound bites, employed because WMD makes for a much better pitch for war than any other reason.

Anyway, why are people being so instrumental about this? The reasons for war are always many and varied. Henry’s point makes no sense. Here’s an analogy. Suppose I want to clean my room because having it messy gives me a headache, but I’m not getting around to it. And I have a pet dog who continually relieves himself on the carpet of said room. I can claim that if my dog fails to quit this behavior, I will clean my room. Then, if my dog continues to relieve himself on the carpet, and I clean my room, it is not the case that my headache had NOTHING to do with my cleaning my room (as Henry is implying). Reasons come in packages; sometimes it takes one to catalyze the rest.

I can put myself into a contract, for example, whereby I will do A only if B

13

Mario 05.02.05 at 4:26 pm

Correction: I meant Ted’s point makes no sense above, not Henry’s (mixed up the original poster)

14

mpowell 05.02.05 at 4:31 pm

I made this comment at the end of a thread posted a few days ago on Blair so it didn’t get much discussion- I’d like to make this point again:

This is not the first administration to mislead the american public in the runup to war. Wilson did it by allowing arms shipment on passenger ships to England while the US was still officially neutral. FDR did it by enacting an oil embargo against the Japanese that could not but lead to war. Both presidents created a public rationale for war after they had already made the decision.

As for this administration, its hard to say what its ‘true rationale’ was as the decision to go to war was influenced by different actors, all w/ different motivations. I believe that, in essence, the administration lied or at least misled the public about their motivation to go to war in Iraq. The issue was patently not simply WMDs. But I think WMDs did form the heart of the administration’s legal justification for the war, which is why there are so many quotes about how if SH would only disarm, we wouldn’t invade. I don’t feel misled b/c I’d already read some of the documents at newamericancentury.com. But the administration certainly misled the general public. However, I don’t think it is an open and shut case that the president should never do that- it would require a severe re-evaluation of FDR’s entire presidency. I’d like to see some discussion of the issue of when deception is or isn’t justified, b/c I’m pretty curious myself.

15

Barry 05.02.05 at 4:46 pm

Sorry about the confusion, Mario. Here’s my reasoning – if Bush had (truthfully) said that Saddam was a very bad, man, who oppressed his people, the US public wouldn’t have backed the war. If Bush had claimed that Iraq would start a wave of democratization across the middle east (even if he left out the idea of Iraq being merely the first war in a series of wars), the US public wouldn’t have supported it.

Saddam’s complicity in 9/11 would have gotten the US public to support the war (again, IMHO), but Bush could never make the case.

In the end Bush had to drum up a threat of WMD’s to get the US public to support a war. He did this by browbeating the intel guys until they said what he wanted. And since we don’t have access to the intelligence, we had to accept the assurances of the administration. Which were lies.

In the end, the war rested on those lies – there was no other reason that would have worked.

16

e sciaroni 05.02.05 at 5:07 pm

I have come to believe that the real reason for invading Iraq was discussed by Cheney’s Energy Task Force.

Operation Iraqi Liberation ( OIL )

17

Kieran Healy 05.02.05 at 5:10 pm

_WMD was a good reason to SELL to the public; just because Bush SOLD it that way doesn’t mean that’s the reason we went to war._

He’s the President, not a used car dealer; and it was a war, not a 1995 Honda Accord. Historians will adjudicate on the _explanation_ for why Iraq was invaded. But Bush & Co were offering _justifications_ for going to war, and their main justification turns out to have been bogus. It’s not complicated. American citizens should not have to settle for the idea that the administration had its (secret, accessible only to the illuminati) reasons for committing people to war, but the public could only expect to be “sold” the justification — or pretext — most likely to persuade them. The point also works in reverse. If you personally thought the war was justified because of the potential for democratization, that’s nice but it really doesn’t matter because you weren’t making the decision. What matters is the justification offered by the President, and clearly WMDs were right at the top of that list — so much so that, as Ted said, disarming was presented as a way for Saddam to avoid war.

18

KCinDC 05.02.05 at 5:24 pm

Saddam’s complicity in 9/11 would have gotten the US public to support the war (again, IMHO), but Bush could never make the case.

Nevertheless, he (with a lot of help from Cheney) did manage to make that point to a substantial fraction of the US public, and I think that did help a lot with selling the war.

19

neil 05.02.05 at 5:29 pm

There was good evidence at the time that Saddam was sitting on WMD and that was reason enough to have the guy overthrown. That evidence turned out to be wrong and we now know Saddam was playing a game – trying to get the sanctions removed but at the same time hinting (to his neighbours) he still had WMD. So the evidence turned out to be wrong. That does not make Bush’s case for war based on WMD wrong at the time, only in hindsight.

But we do no know that once Saddam had maneuvered to have the sanctions removed he would have restarted his WMD programmes. So the WMD argument still makes sense – stopping a madman getting such weapons.

That in terms of the international legal system an argument for removing Saddam could NOT be made on the basis of the nature of his rule just goes to show the limitations of international law. Things have changed now; national sovereignty is no longer absolute.

Those who opposed the war, and there were good reasons to do so, tend not to give any account of how ultimate Saddam should have been dealt with. No invasion would have just delayed the inevitable armed showdown.

20

John Quiggin 05.02.05 at 5:34 pm

A critical point in all this is that the justification for the war determined the nature of the war.

The war that was fought made sense on the assumption that Saddam had large stocks of missiles and chemical weapons, a 45-minute launch capability and a nuclear program on the verge of success. On those assumptions, the crucial requirement was to occupy Iraq as quickly as possible and destroy Saddam’s military machine.

If the object was to get a democratic government, it would have been sensible to spend a lot of time beforehand establishing an alternative provisional government, ensuring it would get at least some international recognition, and so on. It would also have been sensible to spend a lot more time planning the reconstruction effort, early elections and a clear stance on things like war crimes trials. As it is, these things were made up as the occupation went along.

21

e sciaroni 05.02.05 at 5:37 pm

“inevitable armed showdown” ?

Sadam was a threat to no one outside of Iraq, as events proved.

22

Uncle Kvetch 05.02.05 at 5:40 pm

There was good evidence at the time that Saddam was sitting on WMD and that was reason enough to have the guy overthrown.

Not quite.

First, while there was a smattering “good” evidence, there were also veritable mountains of half-baked bullshit from unreliable sources (e.g., the Niger yellowcake). The administration made no distinction, pushing all of the evidence as solid and irrefutable.

Second, you fail to mention that the UN inspectors were in the process of verifying that there were, in fact, no WMD. For whatever reasons, Bush chose not to allow them to finish their job.

23

neil 05.02.05 at 5:47 pm

I find it amazing that liberals can come out with statements such as “Sadam was a threat to no one outside of Iraq, as events proved.” Well, that’s OK then. He’s no problem for us, let the Iarqi’s rot. And when the Iarqi’s last tried to overthrow Saddam, directly after the 1st Gulf war – when the US provided no assistance, they were masacred. But then wasn’t it supposed to have been wrong for the US NOT to interveve? So when such a revolt happned the next time it would have been wrong for the US to intervene?

24

RSL 05.02.05 at 7:17 pm

“. . .when the US provided no assistance, they were masacred . . . “

And what’s happening now that the U.S. is providing assistance?

25

roger 05.02.05 at 7:51 pm

The story of the war, as all sides like to tell it, is of a president who acts as an executive agent, has reasons, foresees events, and takes decisions based on his knowledge.

But I’d guess that that is the wrong narrative — that this is a case where the push for war did not originate with Bush, that Bush navigated between different reasons, that he enjoyed the political advantages given him by the war mood in 2002, and that the invasion marked a point at which his — as opposed to people in his administration’s — major reasons for the war changed. Democracy is a pavlovian reaction of American presidents, describing wars, since Woodrow Wilson. The oddity isn’t really the democracy explanation, but the almost criminal neglect of weapons dumps, and the negligence with which WMD were searched for by Rumsfeld’s army — implying that WMD was not so feared by the administration as they proclaimed.

A.J.P. Taylor once blamed WWI on railroad schedules. The point being that the causes of wars are difficult to weight, and some causes are unobserved. I think the major cause of the invasion of Iraq was Bush’s inability to win a majority of the popular vote in 2000, and his need to conduct a war campaign in 2002 that would reflect 9/11 without threatening any sacrifice to the American middle class voter. So, in a sense, democracy was to blame.

26

KCinDC 05.02.05 at 7:59 pm

Neil, after the first Gulf War, the US encouraged a rebellion and then failed to help. In the current war, there was no rebellion, and the US had no more reason to invade than it has to invade a dozen other countries suffering under dictatorships. Despite their new-found concern for human rights and democracy, I haven’t heard any Bush supporters stating that the US should now invade every dictatorship on the planet, so I’m a little confused about what the new rules are.

27

KCinDC 05.02.05 at 8:07 pm

Roger, Bush was carrying on about Saddam Hussein before he was president. I remember wondering what his father thought of his frequent references to it during the 2000 campaign.

28

RSL 05.02.05 at 8:08 pm

Maybe we fought the war because Bush was looking for some way to spend another $300 billion of our hard-earned tax dollars (rather than wasting the money on something dumb like bolstering the Social Security trust fund, for instance)?

29

am 05.02.05 at 8:18 pm

“However, it’s impossible to make as straight-faced argument that democratization was the main argument,”

Straw man – nobody is making this argument.

” or even an important argument, behind the Bush Administration’s case for war.”

False. It was important to many people, including people in the Administration.

Feith and Hitchens come to mind immediately.

30

Blixa 05.02.05 at 8:23 pm

Analyses of “reasons for the war” which fail to take into account or even acknowledge that the political drive for war was a two stage process are inherently shallow and fatuous.

Let us stipulate the oh so sinister accusation that Bush et al decided upon war long earlier than they found wise to publicly admit. Here is what came next: They pitched war to (1) the US Congress and then, having succeeded there, to (2) the UN Security Council (unsuccessfully, note).

If the focus of the arguments were different in stages (1) and (2) this would neither be surprising nor particularly noteworthy, seeing as how these (the US Congress, and the UN Security Council) are, technically speaking, two different venues with two different sets of interests and jurisdictions. Failing to understand this, or insisting on ignoring it, is just stupid.

All of the above quotes that “prove Bush focused on WMDs” (except for the War Powers text, which proves the opposite of course) are from stage (2). Do you honestly not understand, even now, what it is Bush was attempting to accomplish during stage (2)? The pretense here seems to be that when he made these quotes he was still “arguing for war”. This is false as there was no need. Bush already had approval for war (by the US Congress) all that time. He was arguing for the UN Security Council to endorse the war with a resolution. Thus, he had to couch the argument in terms that would put his request in the most favorable light in said venue.

The UN Security Council by construction is not particularly disposed to care about Saddam Hussein being a bad man, or the need to democratize, or the wisdom of creating a “terrorist flytrap”, or the “face”/geostrategic/power-struggle need for the US to Finally Win the Gulf War, even if some or all of those things may indeed have played a role to some extent in why the Administration wanted to invade. But the UNSC does, at least in theory, care about “WMD proliferation”, or that’s the polite fiction anyway. Therefore that was the “charge” against Saddam Hussein before the UNSC.

It was not “the reason for the war”, however. The only solid, tangible list of official “reasons for the war”is to be found in the text of the War Powers resolution.

Among other things, it specifically cites Public Law 105-338.

Why is this so hard to understand? Two venues, two pitches. Second pitch failed anyway. Why is the second pitch extrapolated so as to pretend that it was the entire pitch?

The best analogy was, and remains, Capone. Tax evasion was the charge against Capone. It was not, however, “the reason” that the FBI wanted Capone to be incarcerated. They tailored their charge against him for the venue and based on what they thought would have the best chance of success.

And there is nothing wrong with that in the slightest.

31

Blixa 05.02.05 at 8:28 pm

One more thing. It is quite often confidently stated in passing, as if it goes without saying, that “if Bush had (truthfully) said that Saddam was a very bad, man, who oppressed his people, the US public wouldn’t have backed the war.”

I don’t know what this sort of belief is based on as there seems to be no objective basis for believing in it. The frequency with which this sort of “humanitarian arguments are never enough” is repeated, however, may create the conditions for a self fulfilling prophecy. Which, if true, is regrettable.

32

Matt 05.02.05 at 8:53 pm

Blixa,

One your second note, did Saddam somehow become worse in 2002-03? If so, it wasn’t very clear. But if he didn’t become worse, but the US people would have supported the war “becuase Saddam was a ver bad man, who oppressed his people”, why didn’t they suppport such as war in, say, ’98? Or 2000? They didn’t, of course. Now, you can say that Sept. 11th changed, this, but it didn’t make Saddam any worse, or more of a threat, so there must have been something else going on, like obviously false claims that Saddam has something to do with Sept. 11th, or that he had WMD. Now, those things were claimed, weren’t they? And were they not untrue? And given the results so far (see the Lancet study, for example) is it so clear that our ham-fisted approach was such a good thing for the Iraqi people, as opposed to some other approach?

As for your first approach, at least Al Capone was in fact guitly of tax evasion, and there was pretty good evidence that this was the case, which puts something of a strain on your analogy.

33

roger 05.02.05 at 8:55 pm

KCINDC, I didn’t know that about Bush in 2000. Tell you the truth, I was an idiot in 2000. I thought Bush and Gore were interchangeable, and mainly paid attention to the campaign as a source of jokes — like Gore trying to trick Bush into pronouncing the name of the capital of Montenegro in the debates. I do have a vague recollection of Bush being against nation building, however.

So what did he say about Saddam H.? Did he talk about him in the debates?

34

markus 05.02.05 at 9:00 pm

@blixa
doesn’t your distinction among others rely on interpreting speeches given to the American public as being “really” directed at the UNSC? If so, how is one supposed to tell them apart?
Concerning the “humantarian grounds are not enough” is, among other things based on Wolfowitz say so in the Vanity Fair interview (who ought to have access to the best polling data on the subject) and past Republican arguments along these very lines against interventions e.g. in Kosovo.

35

RSL 05.02.05 at 9:02 pm

“I find it amazing that liberals can come out with statements such as “Sadam was a threat to no one outside of Iraq, as events proved.” Well, that’s OK then. He’s no problem for us, let the Iarqi’s rot.”

Neil, here’s what I find amazing: After those contractors were murdered in Fallujah, I actually heard the conservative talking heads on FOX arguing for the U.S. going in and levelling all of Fallujah to teach the people there a lesson about supporting the Sunni insurgents (a tactic we actually adopted to some degree eventually). This is right after the same conservatives condemned Saddam for using similarly brutal tactics to put down the Shia insurgency. So for conservatives, I guess, it’s okay when the U.S. does it, but it’s evil when others do it? Kinda like torture, I guess. And, by the way, which country actually used nuclear weapons against a civilian population–Iraq or the U.S.? Hmmm. . . . just something to think about.

36

ArC 05.02.05 at 9:03 pm

Neil, after the first Gulf War, the US encouraged a rebellion and then failed to help. In the current war, there was no rebellion

Well, there is now, or an insurgency at least, and the US has in fact been helpful by, oh, say, leaving Al Qaqaa and other depots unguarded. Man, can’t win for losing.

37

Brackdurf 05.02.05 at 9:11 pm

Picking up on John Quiggin’s point, since we all know the Bush Administration will lie or dissemble when needed (“Healthy Forests”!), to understand what they are really thinking we need to watch what they do.

From a moral point of view, I’m not sure it matters what they were thinking: whether WMD’s were a lie or just a phenomenal self-deception doesn’t change the moral equation (any more than–Godwin alert–it matters morally whether Eichmann believed his own shit or just had deceived himself). But we may still like to know their thoughts, especially since the political war at home rages on with at least 3 years left.

Quiggin is right that the phenomenal lack of post-war planning certainly shows that the administration lied about having cared about democracy, or was criminally ignorant about how to build it. But I’m not sure the form of the attack shows that they were acting on a belief that WMDs were there. Famously, weapons depots were not secured, and the search for WMDs grew half-assed awfully quickly. But the attack itself was over-determined for a whole bunch of strategic reasons which, while possibly inconsistent with long-term democracy building, were based on a variety of goals (decapitation, minimizing US losses, TV glamour, etc) besides preventing the use of WMDs.

It seems to me that their actions were consistent neither with a belief in WMDs (which as someone points out, may have been ginned up largely for the UN) nor in democracy building. So what’s left? As others have pointed out, probably a network of rationales. Revenge, mid-east power, oil, domestic politics, glory, and apparently the believe that the mess would clean up quickly and a nice neo-con democracy would bloom.

But in terms of what they said, it was criminal deception–whether of us or of themselves makes no difference.

38

Nicholas Weininger 05.02.05 at 9:35 pm

In fact, Blixa, the Capone analogy works much better for anti-war folks than pro-war ones. Suppose Capone had, in fact, been innocent of tax evasion, but guilty of a bunch of other stuff. Suppose further that the Feds, unable to prove the other charges, had hauled him in on a trumped-up tax evasion charge, subjected him to an obviously rigged show trial with no proper standards of evidence, and brought in a conviction despite greviously failing to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt.

This would have been unjust, no matter what other stuff he was guilty of. Right?

39

KCinDC 05.02.05 at 9:40 pm

Roger, here’s a couple of examples from the October 11, 2000 debate:

BUSH: […] The coalition against Saddam has fallen apart or it’s unraveling, let’s put it that way. The sanctions are being violated. We don’t know whether he’s developing weapons of mass destruction. He better not be or there’s going to be a consequence should I be the president.
[…]
MODERATOR: People watching here tonight are very interested in Middle East policy, and they are so interested they want to base their vote on differences between the two of you as president how you would handle Middle East policy. Is there any difference?
GORE: I haven’t heard a big difference in the last few exchanges.
BUSH: That’s hard to tell. I think that, you know, I would hope to be able to convince people I could handle the Iraqi situation better.
MODERATOR: Saddam Hussein, you mean, get him out of there?
BUSH: I would like to, of course, and I presume this administration would as well. We don’t know — there are no inspectors now in Iraq, the coalition that was in place isn’t as strong as it used to be. He is a danger. We don’t want him fishing in troubled waters in the Middle East. And it’s going to be hard, it’s going to be important to rebuild that coalition to keep the pressure on him.

40

Blixa 05.02.05 at 10:45 pm

matt,

Correct me if I’m wrong but no one in an executive position proposed such a war in 1998. You know, because it goes with saying that “the American people would never support it on those grounds alone”. This is precisely what I mean by self-fulfilling; leaders and legislators buy into the “humanitarian not enough” assumption and act on that assumption and so therefore the assumption becomes true by default. As for Al Capone being guilty – correct, he was convicted (the charge succeeded), whereas the UNSC did not pass a resolution (the charge failed). But it is unclear why you think that means the analogy breaks down. I was merely noting that they are both cases of specific charges tailored to venue that need not necessarily represent the entirety of the “real reason” for the effort. All you’ve pointed out is that in one case the charge succeeded whereas in the other it failed, but this was never in dispute.

markus,

I don’t pretend to know who Bush’s speeches are “really aimed at”. I merely note that it is nonsensical to imagine that in early 2003, the President was engaged in some sort of spurious time-travelling political effort to get a War Powers Resolution passed, seeing as how this resolution had already passed in October 2002. So, the political effort – the PR campaign he was waging – however you want to phrase it – must have been directed toward some other aim. What aim might that have been? As for Wolfy, I do not dispute that Paul Wolfowitz holds the sincere belief that “humanitarian arguments are never enough”. That does not, however, make it true unless I missed something and Wolfowitz is now suddenly considered infallible. If Wolfy believes it then add him to the list of what I lament. As for Kosovo, the (R) opposition on the basis that it goes without saying that humanitarian arguments aren’t enough is, indeed, yet another example of what I was lamenting. Thanks.

nicholas weininger,

Whether you realize it or not you’ve set up a hypothetical that would be analogous to the US (for reasons of their own) erroneously “charging” Saddam with having such and such proscribed materials before the UNSC, and the UNSC finding him “guilty”. But that is not what happened. Or did you forget that the UN effort failed and no such resolution was passed? So, therefore, the “charges” were withdrawn, and the US made war without UN cover, on the basis of the Congressional War Powers resolution alone.

Which mentions a lot of stuff (not just WMD), including democratizing Iraq.

41

Blixa 05.02.05 at 10:46 pm

(R) = ( R ) = Republican

42

Matt 05.02.05 at 11:14 pm

Blixa,

You’ve got a strangly instrumentalist idea charges going on in the Capone analogy, it seems. The difference is not that in one case the charges stuck while in the other case they didn’t- the difference is that it seems pretty clear that Capone _was guilty_ of tax evasion, not in some instrumentalist sense, but in the sense that he actually violated the tax laws. But, Saddam _Did not have_ WMD. And, there were quite good reasons, even before the war, to think that he did not have them.

And, I don’t see you point about “self-fulfilling proficies”. I’m claiming that _there was no support_ for an invasion of Iraq in ’98, and there would have been none if Clinton had proposed one on the grounds that Saddam was very bad and should be done in. That might be wrong, but I see no reason (and you’ve certainly given none) to think so. It seems pretty clear to me that there also would have been very little support for invading Iraq in ’02-03 w/o the phony stories about WMD and ties to Sept. 11th. Again, it’s a factual claim that might be wrong, but I see no evidence at all to support your view, and the fact that there was no popular call to invade Iraq before these phoney stories were put forward despite Saddam being just as bad seems to indicate that the support for invading Iraq came from the phoney stories, not a general support for removing dictators.

43

Joe 05.03.05 at 12:07 am

Blixa, your 2 stage analysis is dead on. The Capone analogy doesn’t hold though.

I fail to see the importance that liberals see in this discussion. The U.S. is in Iraq. The U.S. will continue to be in Iraq. A myriad of things will continue to go wrong that quite possibly could have been avoided. A myriad of good things have gone right, some attirbutable tangentially to the U.S. moving into Iraq. The discussion changes nothing and impacts nothing. The time is better spent studying the situation as it currently exists and proffering policy suggestions and discussion on what should be done now.

44

nick 05.03.05 at 12:23 am

The time is better spent studying the situation as it currently exists and proffering policy suggestions and discussion on what should be done now.

Thanks for the dispassionate advice. If someone knocks down your house, make sure you remember it.

45

John Quiggin 05.03.05 at 12:39 am

“The time is better spent studying the situation as it currently exists and proffering policy suggestions and discussion on what should be done now.”

But the Administration, and supporters of the war more generally, have shown a remarkable unwillingness to listen to such suggestions in the period since the invasion, apparently believing that their earlier judgements have been vindicated by events.

The big remaining issue is whether, as promised by the UIA in its campaign, a program for US withdrawal should be announced. At this point, the Administration hasn’t, AFAIK, even accepted the objective of a complete withdrawal, let alone a timetable.

Only when it is generally accepted that the war was launched on false premises, and run in a way that greatly weakened the chances of successful democratic government emerging are we likely to see any movement on this point.

46

wbb 05.03.05 at 12:41 am

CT is not a forum which encourages ad hominem unfortunately. My comment will go to the character of people like blixa.

They tailored their charge against him for the venue and based on what they thought would have the best chance of success. And there is nothing wrong with that in the slightest

The preening vanity of authors of such comments, the world-weary wise able to understand the matters cooly and rationally, blinds them to their moral error.

Pleased to think that only they can see the facts under the welter of emotion, they confuse explanation for justification. When the act they excuse is large-scale military invasion of a country that leads to untold death, then such self-regard is a serious fault.

47

wbb 05.03.05 at 12:45 am

Joe is unable to see the importance that liberals see in this discussion.

What’s the statute of limitations on war crimes, Joe?

48

Scott Free 05.03.05 at 1:53 am

KCinDC wrote

“Neil, after the first Gulf War, the US encouraged a rebellion and then failed to help.”

If we had helped and the rebellion had succeded, they would have forever been tarred as puppets.

Had we helped and the rebellion failed, we would be seen as failures.

Had we stood aside and let the rebellion be crushed, we would (and were) seen as cynical bastards.

Had we stood aside and let the Iraquis retake their own country, we would have been seen as judicious and wise.

This was the only “win” scenario possible for us, but it did not pan out. Cest le vie.

Bush 1 and his administration probably thought (and with good reason at the time) that Saddam would go the way of General Leopoldo Galtieri (Argentina) – lose a war, lose face, lose power. A reasonable expectation, but one that unfortunately did not come to pass.

“In the current war, there was no rebellion, and the US had no more reason to invade than it has to invade a dozen other countries suffering under dictatorships.”

Violating a cease-fire agreement has been a legitimate casus belli since the treaty of Westphalia, if I recall correctly. The only other country that might fall into that category would be North Korea (for numerous border and naval violations) – but strategic considerations (Seoul in range of massive artillery concentrations, etc.) keep the invasion option off the table at the moment.

“Despite their new-found concern for human rights and democracy, I haven’t heard any Bush supporters stating that the US should now invade every dictatorship on the planet, so I’m a little confused about what the new rules are.”

In any chess game, you take one piece at a time, based upon tactical necessity. The Neocons have long recognized that the Middle East must be democratized if the threat of Islamo-facism is to be defused. Saddam was the logical target for the opening move, and 9-11 jarred us into the realization that we have been at war for at least a decade.

Question: If Winston Churchill and F.D.R. had conspired to declare war on Germany when they re-occupied the Rhineland (on false or trumped-up charges) and therefore averted WW II with the cost of ten thousand allied lives, would they have been wrong? How would history have remembered them?

Scott

49

yabonn 05.03.05 at 3:49 am

I fail to see the importance that liberals see in this discussion.

Dear Joe Schmoe,

Ok, your were lied to, and we herded to war. But it was for your own good. So no worries.

With love,

Bushco

50

ghostofRFK 05.03.05 at 4:24 am

When they make the miniseries of “Operation Iraqi Freedom” I wonder what they will use for the rational for why we fought. Toward the end of the miniseries “Band of Brothers” after the men of Easy Company have been shot, stabbed and shelled relentlessly by the Nazis, after countless numbers of their friends and comrades have been killed and maimed, the soldiers are asking themselves why the hell am I still here fighting Germans and wondering was the war worth it. The episode that answers this question is entitled ‘Why we fight.’ In this episode the men liberate a Nazi concentration camp. All the men of Easy Company then realize they had to fight to stop the evil that was Hitler and the Nazis regardless of the duration or the cost in lives. When they make that climatic episode fot the Iraq War miniseries what will they show for the ‘why we fight’? There were no WMDs and no ties to Al Q which was supposedly why we had to go to war when we did.
While some of the posters here seem to think it is okay that the new rationale for war was a mere nice side effect back in 2002, the men of Easy Company wouldn’t have bought that line. I wonder in ten or twenty years from now when the men of today’s 101st look back on the war will they think it was all worth it.

51

RSL 05.03.05 at 7:10 am

Joe, in terms of what to do now, john guiggin’s post really got to the crux of the problem. We went into Iraq without any real (indigenous) allies on the ground who could take control of the situation and build a workable government as soon as Saddam was deposed. And by doing this, we’ve put ourselves in a rather untenable position. The best we can do now is bumble along and hope for the best.

What amazes me about conservatives, is that they seem so unconcerned that the government bumbled things so badly and no one is being held accountable. I guess conservatives don’t mind big, dumb government that much afterall . . . and blowing billions of the people’s tax dollars is okay too?

I really don’t consider myself either liberal or conservative, but I do think the liberals are right to question. I think the conservatives should be questioning more too. An executive branch out of control, lying to the people, wasting money and lives with bad planning, and generally acting without accountability isn’t exactly what conservatives were trying to achieve were they? Yet that seems to be what the (distinctly unconservative) Bush administration has brought us.

52

Barry 05.03.05 at 8:19 am

rsl, not billions, but *hundreds* of billions of tax dollars.

That we know of – considering this administration, I imagine that they’re sweeping a few hundred billion more under the rug.

If the direct cost of this war (to the US alone) exceeds $1 trillion, it wouldn’t surprise me.

53

RSL 05.03.05 at 8:41 am

“If the direct cost of this war (to the US alone) exceeds $1 trillion, it wouldn’t surprise me.”

Not to mention the absurd amount we spend on the defense budget in general. Also, if we chuck in the huge cost of the “homeland security” bureaucracy, both conservative and liberal Americans should be asking whether the cost of Bush’s war against terrorism is really proportionate to the risk. After all, deaths from terrorism in the U.S. over the last decade amount to about 3,000. Deaths from traffic accidents over the same period exceed 400,000. Worldwide, terrorism kills a few 1,000 a year. Accordiing to the World Health Organization, traffic accidents kill about 1.2 million per year worldwide. Maybe a war against traffic accidents would be a better investment? It might even help solve other problems like global climate change, dependence on fossil fuels, need to be in bed with Middle Eastern dictators and thereby fueling terrorism . . .

I don’t know, just seems like someone should be asking these questions . . . liberal, conservative . . . doesn’t matter to me.

54

Blixa 05.03.05 at 9:18 am

matt,

Sigh. Ok, so let’s stipulate that Saddam “was not guilty” of having WMDs. Rightly, then, the UNSC did not pass such a resolution. Meanwhile, he was guilty of some of the other stuff listed in the (earlier, different) War Powers text, which did pass (in a different deliberating body, with differenet interests, concerns, and jurisdiction). As well as Resolution 1441, of which he was undeniably in violation (WMD or no WMD). So, not sure what the problem is.

I can see that you are claiming there was no support for ousting Hussein in 1998 to be had. Claim away. It’s based on nothing. For the record I’m not asserting it’s “wrong” – indeed it might be right – just that there’s no solid objective basis for thinking it right. To be clear here, I’m not saying that polls on “should we invade Iraq?” would necessarily have come back or did come back Yes. I’m not talking about polls, period, or “public opinion” as some kind of static unchangeable monolith. I’m talking about if a leader had proposed it and spent political capital pushing it (you know, with “leadership”?), would he have been able to garner the needed support? I don’t know, and you don’t either, but an awful lot of people assume without basis the answer is uniformly, perpetually, No. Based perhaps on polls taken absent said leadership. That’s what I mean by self fulfilling. They take a poll, it seems to say “no”, so they’re not willing to expend political capital exercising leadership, so it doesn’t happen.

Same thing, now, in Darfur, presumably. Is that not lamentable, at least in some cases?

joe,

You’re absolutely right that this discussion changes nothing and impacts nothing.

wbb,

Your comment contains so much substance that I am unable to respond. It would take literally an entire thesis to respond to all of the myriad substantive points that you made. So, touche!

55

Nicholas Weininger 05.03.05 at 10:09 am

blixa,

The problem is that the other stuff Saddam was guilty of constituted neither a legitimate nor a popular case for war. If the case for war had been pressed based only on what Saddam was actually guilty of, it would never have satisfied the UN, Congress, or public opinion; nor should it have done so.

Moreover, the fact that the US, upon failing to prove before the UN its false case for WMD possession, went to war anyway makes them look worse, not better.

56

Blixa 05.03.05 at 10:16 am

nicholas,

Our representatives in Congress authorized the text of the War Powers resolution. What is in that text is, by definition, the case for war. All of it. In the face of that I don’t know on what basis you pick out this or that part of the text and assert that it was not a “popular case for war”. Says who?

You simply intone the “it would never have satisfied Congress or public opinion” theorem as if it is self-evident. It is not.

Your point about such and such making the US “look worse” is irrelevant and does not interest me in the slightest.

57

RSL 05.03.05 at 10:42 am

Blixa,

You’re being a bit naive here. What’s written in the war powers resolution wasn’t actually as relevant as the arguments that were used to sway Senators (like that flipflopper Kerry) who were straddling the fence during the debate about the war resolution. Those arguments did focus on WMDs and most of the fence sitters who ended up voting for the resolution did so (or at least claimed to do so) because of the WMD issue.

All that said, the war powers resolution does focus pretty heavily on WMDs anyway (or at least WMDs getting into the hands of Al-Quaida and/or other terrorists via Saddam Hussein.)

I agree in a broader sense, however, that the real reasons we went to war were broader than WMDs. See the links in my earlier post (#5 above) for the evidence. WMDs slipping into terrorist hands(as Wolfowitz has admitted) was just the most effective sales pitch for the broader policy.

And . . . by the way . . . if you read the documents in my post #5, you’ll learn that the neocons actually did try to pitch overthrowing Hussein to both Clinton and Congress in 1998 and no one bought the pitch then. But they (the neocons) did manage to get Congress to pass and Clinton to sign the Iraqi Liberation Act, which is referenced in the war powers resolution. In 1998, Congress and the President were willing to make a symbolic gesture (passing a resolution that expressed a desire to see Saddam out of power), but they weren’t about to move troops to Iraq.

58

yabonn 05.03.05 at 10:52 am

As well as Resolution 1441, of which he was undeniably in violation (WMD or no WMD).

I’m not sure i get it. Are you trying to use the 1441 resolution as an argument going for the u.s. invasion?

1441 states that if saddam doesn’t comply (and he was late, yes) the case is evaluated by the u.n. (including “serious consequences”, yes). And the u.n. said “more inspections, no war”.

Not the shadow of a support for the war here, then.

Your comment contains so much substance that I am unable to respond.

For me it’s because i don’t get them (apart of the factual bit) that i can’t respond to your points. Some kind of blurry thing where bush lying is a-ok, because al capone and the darfur, too.

Please let me know if it amounts in the end to something else that “So you’d prefer saddam in power? Huh? Huh? Huh?”

59

yabonn 05.03.05 at 10:53 am

Damn tag.

60

Joe 05.03.05 at 11:14 am

Mr. Weininger:

“If the case for war had been pressed based only on what Saddam was actually guilty of, it would never have satisfied the UN, Congress, or public opinion; nor should it have done so.”

So that I am clear, what specifically do you believe that the Iraqi regime was guilty of, and why would this have fallen short?

Mr. Barlow:

Is your interest in this discussion really as wbb suggested, that the President should be convicted of war crimes?

RSL:

I would agree with your assessment that there was very poor pre-war planning about what to do once the regime was deposed. Personally, I think Rumsfield should have fired. Unfortunately, that was not the case.

That aside, I think the cost of not succeeding is incalculable it would be so high. For that reason, I believe the focus should be on how to move forward in a way that befefits the Iraqi population, the U.S., the Middle East, and the world at large.

61

Nash 05.03.05 at 11:16 am

It is not accurate to maintain that the US Senate, via the War Powers resolution, and the UN, via the unsuccessful resolution(s), were the exclusive nor entirely distinguishable targets of argumentation as to the US going to war.

In addition, though the US Senate authorized the text of the War Powers resolution, the Administration continued to make the case for war to the American public in the ensuing months. Pointing to the text of the War Powers resolution as ex post facto legalistic support for how all bases were covered in the runup to war misses the point that the Bush Administration did not itself miss–in a democracy , support for war must be created and maintained with the public. Promotion of democracy in Iraq was *not* a top list argument that the administration used in those intervening months. WMDs were.

Point: The Bush Adminstration did its duty in preparing the American public for the war, but they screwed up royally in the rationale they chose to do this. And if they had chosen democracy promotion as their “lede”, the job of selling the war may have been much more difficult, which may have made the start of a war unworkable. There is nothing wrong, and everything proper, in continuing to point this out in the face of current revisionism.

62

Anthony 05.03.05 at 12:49 pm

Barry, you remember incorrectly.

As we know, the twin operation ‘declare and verify’, which was prescribed in resolution 687 (1991), too often turned into a game of ‘hide and seek’. Rather than just verifying declarations and supporting evidence, the two inspecting organizations found themselves engaged in efforts to map the weapons programmes and to search for evidence through inspections, interviews, seminars, inquiries with suppliers and intelligence organizations.

Paragraph 9 of resolution 1441 (2002) states that this cooperation shall be “active”. It is not enough to open doors. Inspection is not a game of “catch as catch can”. Rather, as I noted, it is a process of verification for the purpose of creating confidence. It is not built upon the premise of trust. Rather, it is designed to lead to trust, if there is both openness to the inspectors and action to present them with items to destroy or credible evidence about the absence of any such items.

Iraq has declared that it only produced VX on a pilot scale, just a few tonnes and that the quality was poor and the product unstable. Consequently, it was said, that the agent was never weaponised. Iraq said that the small quantity of agent remaining after the Gulf War was unilaterally destroyed in the summer of 1991.

UNMOVIC, however, has information that conflicts with this account. There are indications that Iraq had worked on the problem of purity and stabilization and that more had been achieved than has been declared. Indeed, even one of the documents provided by Iraq indicates that the purity of the agent, at least in laboratory production, was higher than declared.

The document indicates that 13,000 chemical bombs were dropped by the Iraqi Air Force between 1983 and 1988, while Iraq has declared that 19,500 bombs were consumed during this period. Thus, there is a discrepancy of 6,500 bombs. The amount of chemical agent in these bombs would be in the order of about 1,000 tonnes. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, we must assume that these quantities are now unaccounted for.

The discovery of a number of 122 mm chemical rocket warheads in a bunker at a storage depot 170 km southwest of Baghdad was much publicized. This was a relatively new bunker and therefore the rockets must have been moved there in the past few years, at a time when Iraq should not have had such munitions.

The investigation of these rockets is still proceeding. Iraq states that they were overlooked from 1991 from a batch of some 2,000 that were stored there during the Gulf War. This could be the case. They could also be the tip of a submerged iceberg. The discovery of a few rockets does not resolve but rather points to the issue of several thousands of chemical rockets that are unaccounted for.

The finding of the rockets shows that Iraq needs to make more effort to ensure that its declaration is currently accurate. During my recent discussions in Baghdad, Iraq declared that it would make new efforts in this regard and had set up a committee of investigation. Since then it has reported that it has found a further 4 chemical rockets at a storage depot in Al Taji.

I might further mention that inspectors have found at another site a laboratory quantity of thiodiglycol, a mustard gas precursor.

Iraq also declared the recent import of chemicals used in propellants, test instrumentation and, guidance and control systems. These items may well be for proscribed purposes. That is yet to be determined. What is clear is that they were illegally brought into Iraq, that is, Iraq or some company in Iraq, circumvented the restrictions imposed by various resolutions.

The recent inspection find in the private home of a scientist of a box of some 3,000 pages of documents, much of it relating to the laser enrichment of uranium support a concern that has long existed that documents might be distributed to the homes of private individuals. This interpretation is refuted by the Iraqi side, which claims that research staff sometimes may bring home papers from their work places. On our side, we cannot help but think that the case might not be isolated and that such placements of documents is deliberate to make discovery difficult and to seek to shield documents by placing them in private homes.

In the past, much valuable information came from interviews. There were also cases in which the interviewee was clearly intimidated by the presence of and interruption by Iraqi officials. This was the background of resolution 1441’s provision for a right for UNMOVIC and the IAEA to hold private interviews “in the mode or location” of our choice, in Baghdad or even abroad.

To date, 11 individuals were asked for interviews in Baghdad by us. The replies have invariably been that the individual will only speak at Iraq’s monitoring directorate or, at any rate, in the presence of an Iraqi official. This could be due to a wish on the part of the invited to have evidence that they have not said anything that the authorities did not wish them to say. At our recent talks in Baghdad, the Iraqi side committed itself to encourage persons to accept interviews “in private”, that is to say alone with us. Despite this, the pattern has not changed.

63

Blixa 05.03.05 at 1:00 pm

rsl,

“What’s written in the war powers resolution wasn’t actually as relevant as the arguments that were used to sway Senators (like that flipflopper Kerry) who were straddling the fence”

A decent point, but if you can make a complete and accurate accounting and weighing of Which Arguments Swayed Straddlers, And To What Extent, you’re smarter than all of us, and a mind-reader :) Obviously you could claim, and seem to indeed be claiming, that “WMDs” alone was the decisive factor in swaying the Straddlers. I don’t know. Who can say?

(Side note: as you semi-acknowledged, what Senators claim sways their vote is not necessarily what actually sways their vote.)

“the neocons actually did try to pitch overthrowing Hussein to both Clinton and Congress in 1998 and no one bought the pitch then.”

That is more or less how I recall it as well, yes. How would it have gone if, oh, the President had thrown his weight behind the pitch? We cannot know. Which is my only point there. I think what’s going on is that your sort of analysis takes Public Opinion as some kind of static thing. Ironically, this often comes from the same people who never stop talking about how Bush And The Neocons massaged/manipulated Public Opinion.

Does leadership (even, yes, Machiavellian leadership) exist or doesn’t it?

yabonn,

“Are you trying to use the 1441 resolution as an argument going for the u.s. invasion?”

No. At least, I don’t think so (your English is difficult to parse, sorry). All I did was mention that Saddam was in violation of it. The War Powers resolution authorized Bush to “use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to… enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions regarding Iraq”. Well, evidently, he considered 1441 a “relevant” UNSC resolution regarding Iraq, and on that basis used the Armed Forces.

You could claim in response, I suppose – I can’t tell whether you are – that Bush’s use of the military was illegal under US law: that he was not in compliance with the text or intent of the War Powers resolution because 1441 itself wasn’t, or shouldn’t have been, “enough”. That might be an interesting discussion, and perhaps I could even be persuaded. Short of that, however, it makes little sense to stand there and insist that 1441 “didn’t count” or “wasn’t enough” when, self-evidently, it did, and was. We did invaded Iraq, after all, in spite of no “second” UNSC resolution. So, evidently, such a “second” resolution wasn’t necessary, at least if you approach things from a “reality-based” point of view.

Our Congress could have nipped such thorny issues in the bud by being less cowardly and passing (or rejecting) a more sensible, less passing-the-buck-to-the-UN type of straightforward declaration of war. Alas, they chose to be passive-aggressive about it, and gave Bush all the authority he needed, while trying to pretend that wasn’t what they were doing (“we’re just kicking the issue to the UN”). For the record, I highly dislike the way the war was authorized for this and many other reasons.

64

Scott Free 05.03.05 at 1:06 pm

ghostfrfk wrote:

“When they make the miniseries of “Operation Iraqi Freedom” I wonder what they will use for the rational for why we fought. Toward the end of the miniseries “Band of Brothers” after the men of Easy Company have been shot, stabbed and shelled relentlessly by the Nazis, after countless numbers of their friends and comrades have been killed and maimed, the soldiers are asking themselves why the hell am I still here fighting Germans and wondering was the war worth it. The episode that answers this question is entitled ‘Why we fight.’ In this episode the men liberate a Nazi concentration camp. All the men of Easy Company then realize they had to fight to stop the evil that was Hitler and the Nazis regardless of the duration or the cost in lives. When they make that climatic episode fot the Iraq War miniseries what will they show for the ‘why we fight’?”

How about this, from Iraq the Model:

“Our friend Al-Witwity has a 1st hand report about the mass grave that was discovered two days ago near Diwaniyah.

He met a Kurdish woman who miraculously survived the execution process.
The woman who’s originally from the “Seeti” suburb near Erbil said that she was brought along with 9 other members of her family and larger numbers of other Kurds in buses and were all executed later in this area.

Eye witnesses from the area said that back in the middle of 1980s, buses and bulldozers used to come to this valley twice a week but no one dared to question what was happening.

This woman after she someway managed to escape got lost in the desert for 5 days until some shepherd found her and kept her safe away from the eyes of the security services that kept searching for her for years until they knew that she had officially lost her mind.
The woman expressed her gratitude for the locals who were kind to her and allowed her to live in a room attached to a mosque for the past 21 years after she lost all her family and had nowhere else to go.

Al-Witwity had also talked to the chief of the “Humanitarian association for defending the rights of the mass graves’ martyrs” who confirmed that there are 19 other mass graves to be revealed soon, each one is supposed to contain the remains of approximately 2000 Iraqis.”

65

RSL 05.03.05 at 1:25 pm

Joe,

Your instinct to move forward and make things right for the Iraqis is noble and correct. I just am very skeptical about the capability of the people who got us into this mess to get us out of it now. That’s why questioning what they did in the past (and holding them accountable) isn’t in my opinion a waste of time and energy.

What strikes me as most disturbing about the WMD argument that Bush made is that is was used to sell a policy to Congress when what we really needed was an open debate about the policy itself. If Congress had discussed all the reasons for the war . . . and had focused more on the plans for carrying out the war once it started, then we might have avoided some of the problems we’ve gotten ourselves into now. The administration, however, had already made up its mind and really didn’t want anyone else’s opinions. So they focused only on the sale of the policy . . . and they should now be held responsible for selling a bad policy deceptively. The administration’s tactics were designed to kill the open, democratic discussion we should have had (and should have anytime we go to war) and therefore I think it’s particularly important that these anti-democrats now be held accountable for their Straussian hubris.

Conservatives should not want the executive branch making war policy on its own. The Constitution gives that responsibility to Congress and therefore to the people. That’s what democracy is all about. The executive branch is running amuck right now, and it surprises me that conservatives don’t seem to care.

66

RSL 05.03.05 at 1:49 pm

Blixa . . .

I can’t do the complete accounting, but as a resident of Massachusetts, Senator Kerry’s office did tell me at the time that it was the WMD argument that swayed him . . .

Of course, as you know and I know, his real motivation was what vote was safer for his Presidential campaign. Guess he guessed wrong!

67

Nicholas Weininger 05.03.05 at 1:50 pm

joe,

under “what else he was guilty of”, I refer to

(a) technical violations of UN resolutions
(b) violations of Iraqis’ human rights

which fall short on both legitimacy and popularity grounds because they don’t add up to any sort of serious threat to the US.

Of course it is theoretically possible, as blixa keeps insisting, that the public might have been convinced to go to war if the case for war were restricted to the above grounds alone. But it’s very unlikely. The Iraq war was known, even before the post-invasion disasters, to be a vastly bigger undertaking than previous humanitarian interventions like Kosovo. Do the pro-warriors really think that the public could have been persuaded to support such a costly undertaking on humanitarian and legalistic grounds alone, without any of the evidence-free scaremongering speculation about Saddam passing WMDs to terrorists and having “links” to al Qaeda?

68

Blixa 05.03.05 at 2:20 pm

nicholas writes that violations of UN resolutions + human rights violations…

“fall short on both legitimacy and popularity grounds because they don’t add up to any sort of serious threat to the US.”

…which begs the question. He assumes that anything short of a “serious threat to the US” falls short, in order to reach the conclusion that those arguments would fall short.

I hasten to add that by these criteria, the US action regarding Serbia/Kosovo would also have to be said to “fall short”. At least if one is consistent. There wasn’t even a scaremongery, fabricated case that Milosevic “add[ed] up to any sort of serious threat to the US”.

He then asks:

“Do the pro-warriors really think that the public could have been persuaded to support such a costly undertaking on humanitarian and legalistic grounds alone”

We’ll never know, will we?

Anyway, the public was (more or less) convinced on Kosovo. I gather you think what would be the deal-breaker on Iraq is that it’s “more costly”. I’m not so sure that the public perceives such a strict bifurcation between “costly” wars and “not very costly” wars to the extent that they’ll reject war 2 on grounds by which they accepted war 1 simply because war 2 is “more costly”. Where is the crossover point? How costly does a war have to be before humanitarian arguments fail to be sufficient? I ask you Nicholas… because you seem to think that you know.

By the way, I don’t “insist” the contrary. I am just saying we don’t know. Only one of us is pretending to know these unknowable things.

69

Nicholas Weininger 05.03.05 at 3:30 pm

blixa: on legitimacy, I’m assuming the validity of an admittedly debatable but quite simple and traditional doctrine: that war is only justified in response to actual attack or genuine imminent threat thereof. Certainly, as you say, Kosovo fails to meet this standard. Why do you assume that I supported the Kosovo war?

On popularity, of course Kosovo was popular. I don’t know where the line is either between costly and not-so-costly wars; but there’s an order of magnitude difference between the cost of Kosovo and that of Iraq, and that’s just the monetary cost– the difference in lives lost is far greater still. So we don’t have to split hairs finding the line.

To clarify, I’m asserting that the balance of historical evidence concerning Americans’ willingness or unwillingness to go to war suggests that it is unlikely (not impossible!) that they would have supported the Iraq war on humanitarian grounds alone. In particular, the Iraq war has been, and was known to be, a lot more costly than any previously-supported humanitarian intervention; and humanitarian interventions have been undertaken rarely and reluctantly even when the cost was much lower, and ended swiftly when they looked likely to create significant casualties (see e.g. Somalia).

Do you think the balance of the evidence tilts the other way? Do you think it likely that Americans would have supported the Iraq war with only the humanitarian justification? If so, why?

70

abb1 05.03.05 at 4:24 pm

Scott Free, so what’s your point with that quote you posted? Do ‘we’ fight because the Iraqi government under Saddam has been slacking off since the middle of 1980s when all those mass graves got filled up and ‘we’ really liked the guy? Not nearly enough mass graves since the 80s, huh? You’re right, nowdays if you want something done you just have to do it yourself.

71

yabonn 05.03.05 at 4:24 pm

The War Powers resolution authorized Bush to “use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to… enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions regarding Iraq”

But there was nothing to enforce, as 1441 resolution states that it’s the u.n. that decides what happens if saddam doesn’t comply (art 12). And the u.n. didn’t want war.

However i see better now why war apologists insist so much on that unicorn of the u.s. enforcing the u.n. resolution against the will of the u.n. It seems to have legal consequences in the u.s., trough the “irak resolution”. A rather funny sight seeing them defending this, in its own weirdo way.

Besides, my freshly googled knowledge of the war powers thingie tell me it was used as a reference for the irak resolution, and that it stresses the importance of “clear” and “imminent” danger.

So i don’t really claim that 1441 was “not enough” : rather that it was not at all. It’s something unsuccessfully trying to be a fig leaf, and for u.s. consumption only.

Too that the clear and imminent danger thing is rather funny. As there wasn’t such danger, only bollocks to herd people to war. It’s that lying thing, y’know.

72

Scott Free 05.03.05 at 4:45 pm

abb1

And your point? If a previous administration coddled an evil bastard, all subsequent administrations must do the same?

Given the choice, I would much rather do the right thing and live with the label of “hypocrite” than be known as a consistent and reliable friend of evil bastards.

73

e sciaroni 05.03.05 at 5:03 pm

We need to face up to the facts. The invasion of Iraq was a clear violation of international law. The Bush Doctrine of preemption can be used to attack anyone we want; in this case there was no threat to preempt from Iraq.

The only reason to ever fight a war is because we (or one of our allies) have already been attacked. This was the reason for the war in Afghanistan.

War should always be avoided if at all possible. This is why no other nation stood up to stop the our aggression.

74

Blixa 05.03.05 at 5:53 pm

yabonn,

So in effect your charge is indeed that since by your reading (note: article 12 does not actually say what you seem to think it says) resolution 1441 was “not at all”, Bush was therefore not authorized by the War Powers “thingie” to use the military force that he did. That is an interesting charge, but few that I have ever seen seem to be getting behind that POV, and anyway it’s something of a non-starter given that he did, in the event, successfully use military force and (as far as I can tell) this seemed to have passed all muster under the US legal/governmental system. (I suppose if Ds regain the Congress in 2006 they could try to initiate impeachment over it… we’ll see.)

As for it being for “US consumption only”, I don’t know about that, but so what if it was for “US consumption only”? That doesn’t affect anything I’m saying.

Indeed, I suppose it could be argued that the main effect of 1441 seems to have been to kick in Bush’s War Powers authorization, to use military force, under US law only. If you are looking at 1441 and trying to discover in it the Global Justification For The War, then I certainly don’t blame you for not seeing it there. Because 1441 alone certainly *wasn’t* a “justification”. However, it remains true that (for better or worse) 1441 – combined with the US War Powers resolution – gave Bush all the authority he would need to use the US military to invade Iraq. Which is all I was saying. Best,

75

Blixa 05.03.05 at 5:55 pm

e sciaroni,

Since “The only reason to ever fight a war is because we (or one of our allies) have already been attacked”, may I presume that you opposed our government’s actions re: Serbia?

76

David All 05.03.05 at 6:40 pm

Nice one, Blixa.
As somebody who did support the Kosovo War, I have to say that morally, removing a mass murder like Saddam has been emmiently justified by the continuing discovery of mass graves in Iraq. Questions of whether the US invasion of Iraq was justified politically are extremely iffy, to put it mildly.

77

e sciaroni 05.03.05 at 7:11 pm

The break up of Yugoslavia had lasted for years. We intervened in the Kosovo War to bring it to an end. People were being attacked.

The Iraq War didn’t stop Saddam from continueing mass murder. The No Fly Zone, sanctions and arms inspectors had Saddam pinned down. The brutal Saddam was old news; made new again for reasons that remain unclear.

78

Blixa 05.03.05 at 7:43 pm

Yes “people” were being attacked, but not “We”, or “one of our allies”. So, you are (rightly!) backing away from your earlier stated principle.

79

ry 05.03.05 at 9:31 pm

I think people need to remember something when making the point that’s raised in comment #75: was there serious efforts to end the sanctions on Iraq or not?
I pose that there was. Look at the reports about the number of children and elderly dying because of sanctions and done by the UN. The Lancet study posted here about 100K deaths cited what I’m refering to.

I pose that sanctions were an untenable situation given the human cost. Maintaining the sanctions to prevent an NBC armed Iraq was just not viable.
Now, this doesn’t speak to the point that’s constantly raised by Ted, et al about the specific claims of the Blair and Bush administrations. It’s just a plea to keep matters in context and a reminder of the very real costs of the sanctions.

80

ry 05.03.05 at 10:02 pm

e scaroni in post #21 puts up an airball.
No threat to anyone? YOu sure? Then why were the Iranians still planning against Iraqi actions, and worrying about Iraq doing the same?
Kuwait had no worries about Iraq? Neither did Saudi? Why has everyone from the BBC to the Washington Times noted that Iran is tickled pink at the US taking out a major threat to Iran?

Please. They most nations that bordered Iraq had serious concerns and viewed Iraq as a threat. That’s why they cheered the US/UK enforced no fly zones and airstrikes.
Iraq as direct threat to the US? No. A problem for the region? Yes. So don’t say that Iraq posed no problem to anyone outside of Iraq. ONce the will to enforce the no-fly zones and sanctions withered there was a very serious problem about to erupt in that part of the world.

81

ry 05.03.05 at 10:18 pm

John Q in post #20 said something that I feel compelled to call him on.
On what operational analysis are you basing such a claim that the case for the war dictated the manner in which it was carried out?
I think if you actually studied what’s known as ‘The Operational Art’ you’d find that such a claim is inherently silly. I know net-centric warfare is something that’s made the rounds, but look into ‘Entropy Bases Warfare’ as well–as that actually explains what happened to the vaunted Republican Guard. It’s the pursuit of wars that produce the least friendly casualties. Has nothing to do with ‘the case presented to justify the war’. Has everything to do with avoiding costly set peice, seige type warfare(stellungskrieg), and nothing to do moral/legal case presented for the war.
In fact, if the 45min NBC weapons were trully a concern the over riding principle of the Operational Plan there’d have been a long air war preceding ground forces(and the plumes would prove or disprove the existence of nbc at the site). Not just the targeting of C4ISR, as did happen, but anything that remotely resembled a launch site or storehouse of NBC weapons. You’d have had something closer akin to the WW2 bombing missions to destroy as much of the suspected weapons as possible than ‘Shock and Awe’ which went after almost exclusively command and control nodes.

The way the war went down had far more to do with John Boyd and his OODA loop than belief in wmd.

82

John Quiggin 05.03.05 at 11:37 pm

I agree with ry, and also brackdurf at #37, that the actual conduct of the invasion indicated that WMDs were little more than a pretext by the time the war was launched. By the time of Bush’s SOTU speech, it was already clear that any military threat posed by Saddam’s hypothetical weapons was very modest. There was a reasonable attempt to find weapons, and thereby justify the invasion, as indicated by the numerous ‘discoveries’ reported by Judith Miller, but very little effort to secure likely sites or guard against shipments overseas.

But in broader terms the rush to go to war, and the absence of planning for the postwar aftermath were consistent with a WMD rationale and inconsistent with a democratization rationalisation

83

abb1 05.04.05 at 1:05 am

Given the choice, I would much rather do the right thing and live with the label of “hypocrite” than be known as a consistent and reliable friend of evil bastards.

Scott, it didn’t work: before, you were already known as both a hypocrite and a friend of evil bastards. Now you’re known as a hypocrite, friend of evil bastards and an evil bastard.

84

yabonn 05.04.05 at 3:20 am

(note: article 12 does not actually say what you seem to think it says)

I may have misread, then. Here goes :


12. Decides to convene immediately upon receipt of a report in accordance with paragraphs 4 or 11 above, in order to consider the situation and the need for full compliance with all of the relevant Council resolutions in order to secure international peace and security;

I’m basing my understanding of this on the french official version, don’t worry. I understand it like “if the informations are false (art 4) , or if the inspectors activity is hindered (art 11), then we, the u.n., meet. The consequences may then be “serious” for irak (that’s in paragraph 13).

I don’t see what here support
resolution 1441 was “not at all”,

There was a resolution 1441, but with nothing in it to support bush’ grand adventure. As a fig leaf, 1441 doesn’t even work.

but few that I have ever seen seem to be getting behind that POV, […] this seemed to have passed all muster under the US legal/governmental system. […] As for it being for “US consumption only”, I don’t know about that,

I do. “The u.s. enforced the u.n. resolution against the will of the u.n.”. One simply can’t say that with a straight face, apart some u.s. war apologists.

but so what if it was for “US consumption only”? That doesn’t affect anything I’m saying.

If we are talking about the u.s. law it doesn’t, i suppose. But if we’re talking about international law, the u.s.-rescuing-resolution-1441 simply doesn’t fly. Not enough kool aid in the world.

Because 1441 alone certainly wasn’t a “justification”.

Happy we agree at last. I nevertheless left above in this posts my answer to some you points. Probably i misread, but some of them looked like you were arguing the case of 1441 being relevant, legally, somehow.


However, it remains true that (for better or worse) 1441 – combined with the US War Powers resolution – gave Bush all the authority he would need to use the US military to invade Iraq.

If by authority you mean “legal authority”, we disagree again.

1441 “gave” nothing to Bush : it’s mentionned in the “use of force against iraq resolution”, and that’s it. It’s not even a legal veneer, just a war apologist’ empty talking point.

Bush may have had authority, according to the u.s. law, but for other reasons than the 1441, and not deriving from the u.n.

Besides, as there was no clear danger, the fact that the “use of force against iraq resolution” expressly places itself under the “war powers resolution” should be a problem for the national law too. The lying part, once again.

85

Functional 05.04.05 at 8:44 am

Fact: The neo-cons, stretching back to the Clinton years, have been convinced that democratizing Iraq would be a stabilizing force in the Middle Eastern region, which has been a hotbed of extremism and terrorism for several decades.

Fact: When 9/11 happened, the powers-that-be in the Bush administration started to believe in the neo-con view.

Fact: It was easier, so they thought, to argue for the Iraq war on grounds of WMD. They thought that this was a “slam dunk” case, to quote the CIA head at the time.

Fact: Even so, they still mentioned the value of creating democracy. And did so often. See the War Powers Resolution linked in the main post.

Fact: They also believed that the Iraq war would allow the U.S. to withdraw troops from Saudi Arabia, which it did. See Wolfowitz’s remarks on this:

There are a lot of things that are different now, and one that has gone by almost unnoticed–but it’s huge–is that by complete mutual agreement between the U.S. and the Saudi government we can now remove almost all of our forces from Saudi Arabia. Their presence there over the last 12 years has been a source of enormous difficulty for a friendly government. It’s been a huge recruiting device for al Qaeda. In fact if you look at bin Laden, one of his principle grievances was the presence of so-called crusader forces on the holy land, Mecca and Medina. I think just lifting that burden from the Saudis is itself going to open the door to other positive things.

Fact: The neo-cons, for all their faults, are taking a more humanitarian and long-term view than the short-sighted folks who can’t see beyond the WMD issue. They believe sincerely that radical and fundamental change was needed in the Middle East. I think they’re a lot closer to being correct than their isolationist, head-in-the-sand opponents.

86

ry 05.04.05 at 10:40 am

SOrry John Q. It seems I’m a bit unclear in my writting.
If you look at what was carried by the assualt echelons of American forces you’ll see that they carried gear for MOP-4 and MOP-2(MOP-4 beaing the ‘space suit gear’ for NBC environs, and MOP-2 being standard gear you see every day). Look at, if you can tolerate it, John Keegan’s book on the IRaq war–who cares about his politics it’s the facts of what was carried that’s key here.

I was largely trying to make the point that your understanding of operational level warfare seems to be be a bit lacking(tactical, operational, and strategic being the three levels of military operations. Tactical being for battalion sized units and smaller. Operatinal level being for battalion through army group(collection of divisions). And strategic being largely the political/economic goals of the conflict.) and because of that you can’t really say what the operational plan for the invasion of Iraq indicated. Neither can I for that matter for that matter.
One of the problems noted by Tom Barnett is that the US military fights wars out of context of everything else. AMerican mil doctrine posits that you win a war by destroying the enemy and his means to make war(his troops, his logistics, his means to control communicate). You’re looking at what could very well be a problem of ‘corporate culture’ for something far bigger.

Your larger point(we were promised WMD but none showed up; ergo war was based on false premise) is a fair one and honestly made. I just don’t think you’ve shown sufficient knowledge of the subject(operational level of combat) to be making some of the statements you’re making. If I’m wrong, and you’ve got something to show, other than just a sharp mind, then I’ll appoligize. Military affairs is actually a serious subject, and like other serious subjects(like philosophy for instance) it requires study to understand it or speak knowledgeably about it.

87

ry 05.04.05 at 10:46 am

Functional,
Your cynical reasoning is exactly what John Q and Ted have been arguing against with the various threads they’ve started on the topic of the IRaq War in the last few days.
So what if that is the real reasons why the Bush admin took us to war? That’s not what they told us they took us to war over. Your argument is a shifting of rationales, and that’s exactly what has been complained about here.

88

Functional 05.04.05 at 10:53 am

Pardon me, but I think you don’t know the meaning of the word “cynical.” My reasoning was not “cynical” in any way. YOU are the one who is “cynical.” My reasoning may make you feel cynical, but that doesn’t mean that my reasoning is itself cynical. (E.g,. the weather might make you feel depressed, but that doesn’t mean that the weather itself is “depressed.”)

89

Nabakov 05.04.05 at 11:18 am

“…they believe sincerely that radical and fundamental change was needed in the Middle East”

I sincerely believe you believe they are sincere, albeit well lubricated. But regardless of motivation, they are bloody useless at actually making it work.

As the Great Game, (the control of Central Asia) enters a new chapter, the US is discovering it’s only got one string left to its bow – overwhelming military might – which is now being stretched thiinnnn. And also re-discovering that foreign adventures driven by domestic political imperatives always backfire.

90

Blixa 05.04.05 at 1:29 pm

yabonn, if still reading,

“The u.s. enforced the u.n. resolution against the will of the u.n.”. One simply can’t say that with a straight face, apart some u.s. war apologists.

Au contraire it is perfectly logical and possible for entity 1 to issue a “resolution” but then not enforce it, and then for entity 2 to enforce it in its stead. There is no contradiction here.

I understand that the UN thought they had written the resolution in such a way that authorized them to declare, for themselves, that “only WE get to decide” whether 1441 had been obeyed or not and thus, whether military force may be used to enforce it.

Evidently, the government of the United States (as well as that of Britain, Australia, etc) disagreed with that.

If we are talking about the u.s. law it doesn’t, i suppose. But if we’re talking about international law,…

I was, indeed, talking about US law. I don’t believe the notion of “international law” has any tenable, coherent meaning to speak of, at least at present. So if that’s what your focus was you’ve been talking to the wrong person because I care not one whit about “international law” per se.

Probably i misread, but some of them looked like you were arguing the case of 1441 being relevant, legally, somehow.

And it was, under US law, which is what is relevant. You’ve implicitly revealed that US law not what you were talking or care about, so we simply had crossed signals. Sorry about that.

1441 “gave” nothing to Bush : it’s mentionned in the “use of force against iraq resolution”, and that’s it. It’s not even a legal veneer, just a war apologist’ empty talking point.

Why can’t it be both? The two are not mutually exclusive ;-)

Bush may have had authority, according to the u.s. law, but for other reasons than the 1441, and not deriving from the u.n.

Correction: He had authority under US law (proof? uh well, the invasion occurred didn’t it?), and (you can’t seriously be denying that) 1441 was part of (but not entirely) the basis for that authority. Which is all I was saying.

Besides, as there was no clear danger, the fact that the “use of force against iraq resolution” expressly places itself under the “war powers resolution” should be a problem for the national law too. The lying part, once again.

Come again? I’m not following you. Since when does Congressional authorizations of force under the War Powers act require “clear danger”, whatever that might mean?

Has this standard ever actually been met when using the War Powers act?

best,

91

Scott Free 05.04.05 at 1:34 pm

And your point? If a previous administration coddled an evil bastard, all subsequent administrations must do the same?

Given the choice, I would much rather do the right thing and live with the label of “hypocrite” than be known as a consistent and reliable friend of evil bastards.

abb1 responds:
“Scott, it didn’t work: before, you were already known as both a hypocrite and a friend of evil bastards. Now you’re known as a hypocrite, friend of evil bastards and an evil bastard.”

Ah, so there we have it. The U.S. is damned if we do and damned if we don’t in the court of international liberal opinion. Well, what a suprise.

Given the fact that we will be condemned no matter what we do, why not do the right thing and take down one of the most odious dictators of modern times and try to spread democracy through the middle east?

92

yabonn 05.04.05 at 3:48 pm

Au contraire it is perfectly logical and possible for entity 1 to issue a “resolution” but then not enforce it, and then for entity 2 to enforce it in its stead. There is no contradiction here.

Past “iraq was enforcing the un”, past the explanation on art 12, i see we have reached the point of absurdity. I let you there on that matter : the irak war deserves, after all, this kind of tortured (ha, ha, no pun intended, ha, ha) liturgy.

1441 was part of (but not entirely) the basis for that authority. Which is all I was saying.

If your point is that Dear Leader took pretext, to declare war on irak, of u.n. resolutions that said “no war”, fine by me. For the next one, i propose bush declares iran not respecting the european directives on the size and curvature of bananas, do the rubberstamp congress thing, and proceed.

As someone above noted : it’s all a matter of lubricant anyways. So why not add bananas?

Lastly, a few rectifications for the sake of the poor reader who digged till here, and i’ll let you go “u.s. to the rescue of the u.n.” all you want.

– war powers 73, reference for iraq resolution 02, does not epxressly require clear and imminent danger. For some reason, i’m pretty sure the lying to the people and the congress thing is not a-ok, though.

– Too, it’s more about the 67* and 68* u.n. resolutions (“the un expresses concern about the situation etc” type of things, except for the 678, about kuwait). 1441 was kept out of iraq resolution 02 itself, though it served for the rah-rah around it. “Iraq was enforcing u.n.” is still useless without lubricants.

93

ry 05.04.05 at 4:21 pm

No, it is entirely self-serving, and hence cynical, Functional. Shift the focus to be able to maintain a feel good ‘principled’ position about supporting the Iraq war.
Has nothing to do with me ‘feeling’ anything, and everything to do with you playing along with the ‘ends justifies the means’ crowd. YOu personally may have said that the reasons you listed were why we should have gone. But that’s not why the admin went or the reason it claimed(or entirely claimed. The Senate resolution listed 23 reasons.). That’s what this argument has been about from the begining.

94

Blixa 05.04.05 at 6:52 pm

If your point is that Dear Leader took pretext, to declare war on irak, of u.n. resolutions that said “no war”,

Hmm, show me where 1441 said “no war”.

Meanwhile, the US War Powers resolution (which is what matters, remember?) gave Bush broad powers to “war”. Which he did.

Your implicit position in this type of complaint, if it means anything, still amounts to an assertion that Bush’s action was in fact illegal under US law, which is an interesting charge but a non-starter in reality. It’s also a charge made by no serious observer that I have seen. Why didn’t John Kerry complain that the way Bush used the War Powers resolution Kerry voted for, was illegal?

Alternatively, if you’re not asserting that Bush’s action was illegal under US law, then your complaint is meaningless. You can call 1441 “lubricant” all you want but if it meets the War Powers resolution’s requirements then that’s all that matters. And, evidently, it did.

(But again, I don’t know about “international law”, if that’s what you’re thinking of. I don’t know what “international law” is, exactly.)

For the next one, i propose bush declares iran not respecting the european directives on the size and curvature of bananas, do the rubberstamp congress thing, and proceed. As someone above noted : it’s all a matter of lubricant anyways. So why not add bananas?

Look, let me explain why I don’t care about your analogy, however humorous.

Suppose (for whatever reason) I were in favor of a US invasion of Iran. If Bush were too (for whatever reason – not nec. the same as mine), and if he asked the US Congress to give him authorization to do so, I’d want the US Congress to authorize a US invasion of Iran. (This should neither surprise nor shock you. People generally want the policies they favor, to be implemented.)

Now, if US Congress were to choose to do so by the extremely stupid method of drafting a War Powers resolution stating that Bush is authorized to attack Iran “if Iran doesn’t comply with Euro-banana-curvature”, well heck, that would be better than nothing. So at that point if Iran had the wrong kind of bananas, and Bush were to say “attack”, guess what? Fine by me.

Yes, I would prefer if the US Congress would declare its wars in a more straightforward, less stupid manner, mind you. And, the same was true in the case of Iraq! As I said, I dislike the way Congress kinda-sorta passed the buck to the UN. I think it was a lousy, cowardly way to declare war. But that’s how they chose to do it, like it or not. The fact remains that they gave Bush the authority – or loopholes, if you prefer to think of it that way – he needed to make war. And so, he did.

If you dislike the way that the War Powers resolution combined with 1441 to empower Bush’s War Powers, blame the US Congress for their irresponsibility, like I do! Blame them for not having faced the issue more head-on and declared (or not declared) war in a more straightforward manner.

1441 was kept out of iraq resolution 02 itself,

That can be chalked up to arrow of time and the impossibility of time travel. Resolution 1441 (November 8, 2002) was adopted after the War Powers resolution was passed (October 10-11, 2002), so it would have been a neat trick indeed for the latter to have mentioned the former explicitly.

(You start to lose me after this point with your unparseable English and talk of “lubricants”, so… bye)

95

John Quiggin 05.05.05 at 12:45 am

ry, I wasn’t trying to make an argument at the tactical or operational level and I admit to being pretty thoroughly ignorant about US doctrine on such matters. My point was entirely to do with the strategic level – when do you go to war, with what stated objectives, and what policies do you implement afterwards.

96

Kevin Donoghue 05.05.05 at 3:44 am

[Yabonn’s] implicit position in this type of complaint, if it means anything, still amounts to an assertion that Bush’s action was in fact illegal under US law, which is an interesting charge but a non-starter in reality. It’s also a charge made by no serious observer that I have seen.

Blixa,

IANAL, but if misleading Congress in order to win support for war isn’t illegal then US law is even more of an ass than I had supposed. Of course that’s entirely possible and in any case the only remedy is impeachment, which isn’t going to happen. I don’t know if John Dean counts as a serious observer in your eyes, but I believe he knows a bit about what’s legal. He believes Bush committed an impeachable offence or two while selling the war.

But as his former boss memorably remarked, “legal schmegal.”

97

abb1 05.05.05 at 4:16 am

The U.S. is damned if we do and damned if we don’t in the court of international liberal opinion.

There’s one more thing left to try: don’t install and prop murderers and don’t be a murderer yourself. Maybe this one will work.

Learn from these guys:

At the age of fifteen Doug and Dinsdale started attending the Ernest Pythagoras Primary School in Clerkenwell. When the Piranhas left school they were called up but were found by an Army Board to be too unstable even for National Service. Denied the opportunity to use their talents in the service of their country, they began to operate what they called ‘The Operation’… They would select a victim and then threaten to beat him up if he paid the so-called protection money. Four months later they started another operation which the called ‘The Other Operation’. In this racket they selected another victim and threatened not to beat him up if he didn’t pay them. One month later they hit upon ‘The Other Other Operation’. In this the victim was threatened that if he didn’t pay them, they would beat him up. This for the Piranha brothers was the turning point.

98

Blixa 05.05.05 at 9:58 am

kevin donoghue,

Heh. Well, to be perfectly frank I rather doubt that “misleading” the US Congress prior to a War Powers vote (or any other kind of vote) is “illegal under US law”. Congressmen “mislead” each other virtually every time they take the floor to bloviate about the necessity or evilness of some bill; politicians in general “mislead” people with virtually every speech. Why/how would it be “illegal” for the President to do it? (Unless he were under oath or something.)

Now, certainly if they believe they were “misled” by a President, on anything, Congress could get *mad* about it and, as Dean says, decide to impeach the President over it. But that’s not saying very much. If they believe the President has an ugly tie and were mad enough about it they could decide to impeach him over it. An “impeachable” offense is whatever Congress decides it is. But like you said, it isn’t going to happen, probably not even if Dems were to have an amazing 2006 election-wise.

I also have very little sympathy for Congressmen/Senators who claim they were “misled” in the first place. Members of the general public feeling misled? Sure, I don’t blame them at all.

But don’t tell me that John Kerry or Hillary Clinton voted for War Powers “because” they Believed The Things That George Bush Was Saying (and thus were “misled” into voting how they did). I don’t believe that for a millisecond. They voted War Powers because (regardless of the truth of whatever Bush said at any given time, or whether they “believed” it) they believed the vote necessary to their political survival/ambitions.

I doubt that very many pro-war powers Dem senators at all “believed” a single thing Bush was saying in the first place. Do you know otherwise?

99

Kevin Donoghue 05.05.05 at 10:40 am

Well, to be perfectly frank I rather doubt that “misleading” the US Congress prior to a War Powers vote (or any other kind of vote) is “illegal under US law”.

John Poindexter, Elliot Abrams, Robert McFarlane and Oliver North all learned that it is. And it doesn’t have to be prior to a vote; it’s illegal at any time.

100

Functional 05.05.05 at 11:16 am

RY: No, it is entirely self-serving, and hence cynical, Functional.

This is quibbling over a grammatical point, I know, but you are just wrong. You think my reasoning is “self-serving.” Yes. Fine. But YOU are the one who is “cynical” [i.e., distrustful, suspicious, etc] about my reasoning. I am NOT the one who is “cynical” [i.e., distrustful, suspicious] here.

Use the word correctly, is all I’m saying.

101

Scott 05.05.05 at 12:06 pm

http://www.newsreview.com/issues/sacto/2005-05-05/news.asp?Print=1

Al Eaton was all set to toss Dan Lungren’s letter in the trash when he noticed something that amazed him. The Rio Vista resident already had no idea why Sacramento’s Republican congressman would be sending him a “reply” for “contacting” his office, given that Eaton had never written to him in the first place. But apparently, Lungren had something to say to the retired high-school teacher and liberal Democrat.

The letter, dated April 4, 2005, starts off by defending the Republican Congress’ push of House Resolution 6, energy legislation that allows drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). While critics say the oil in ANWR would last only six months, Lungren argues that it could last 25 years by being used to “supplement rather than replace our need for foreign oil.” (Congress passed the bill on April 21.)

But it’s what comes next that caught Eaton’s attention. While discussing the nation’s dependency on foreign oil, Lungren writes, “I feel quite strongly that as long as we have our military in the Middle East fighting so that we can continue to purchase oil from that region, we have an obligation to find alternatives to foreign oil. It is difficult to justify the death of even one soldier when we are not doing everything in our power to explore options for oil within our country.”

“I had to read it two or three more times before I actually believed what I read,” said Eaton. “I kept saying to myself, ‘Am I making a mistake here?’”

Being a consistent donator to political organizations, Eaton discards a lot of political solicitations. But this time, Eaton “read the whole damn thing.”

As it turns out, Lungren’s letter is a mass-mailer response to a petition that Eaton signed from the Natural Resources Defense Council. According to Lungren’s staff, Lungren received around 600 letters on the topic of the ANWR, including the petition. A staff aide, Sandra Wiseman, prepared the response that would be sent to all 600 of these concerned citizens. Before Wiseman sent off the letter, Lungren reviewed it while he was on a trip to China and OK’d it.

Last week, when questioned by phone about the letter, Wiseman asked to have the part about soldiers fighting for oil read to her. Afterward, she told SN&R that “[Lungren] does feel this way.”

Asked if Lungren really feels that U.S. forces are over in Iraq fighting for oil, Wiseman denied that the letter actually says that. While admitting that the paragraph could be taken that way, Wiseman said Lungren’s position is that soldiers weren’t sent to the Middle East to secure oil for the United States, but to oust Saddam Hussein. Having done that, they now need to protect the oil supplies.

“As long as this political unrest is [in the Middle East], and [the insurgents] continue to manipulate the oil, there is a problem,” said Wiseman.

But was this really a slip in judgment or a sign that Republican leaders are shifting the rhetoric on Iraq one more time? …

102

ry 05.05.05 at 12:13 pm

John Q,
I think I got that you were making a larger point. That’s what I meant by ‘your larger point is fair and honestly made.’ I do think it very big of you to make the admission you did.

YOur larger issue is ‘why’. I don’t know if I agree with it 100%, because like Functional my reasons for support had nothing to do with WMD, but that’s beside the point.
But, this is why I think you made a mistake in post 20 and continue to do so: when, with what, and how long to take doing it are all operational issues. Destroying the enemy is a tactical and operational concern–just good, common sense in a war zone– in that you have to worry about blue force security(good guys are blue, bad guys are red). That’s a concern no matter what the political objectives are. Becuase of that concern all assault forces seek to destroy/incapitate opponents quickly. It’s totally divorced from political goals.
Having the ‘second half team’, the public affairs/reconstruction units is, and that’s what you’re really talking about(though you might wish to be a bit more careful when talking about this). It’s really the second paragraph of post #20 that’s giving me fits. I’m having trouble juxtaposing it with what is written in post #95.

Even the post conflict part isn’t that cut and dry. Look at the way NATO is structured. Stealing from TOm Barnett, since he’s written about it in a very accesable manner, the US was the LEviathan first half team with the rest of NATO being geared toward post conflict matters and specific specialites(like the Brits having the speciality of anti-sub/ant-mine warfare, Norway being really good at public affairs). The US military is built to fight and win wars. The Euros were the ones to wage and win peace. This fact is why you’re simultaneously right and wrong John. Right in that the decision to go forward garaunteed that those forces really good at post conflict work weren’t available, but wrong that any real planning at any level would’ve altered the case, except if it was forestalle for 20 years to allow the US mil to reorganize itself entirely.

103

Blixa 05.05.05 at 1:55 pm

Kevin, um yeah, and they were (oh what’s the phrase) “under oath” right? Anyway, I do wish you guys all the best in your campaign to get Bush impeached on a perjury charge. Short of that, this has been a rather pointless discussion…. bye,

104

Kevin Donoghue 05.05.05 at 2:10 pm

Kevin, um yeah, and they were (oh what’s the phrase) “under oath” right?

Irrelevant. From John Dean’s article on the subject:

“Later, one of McFarlane’s lawyers, Peter W. Morgan, wrote a law journal article about using the false statements statute to prosecute executive officials appearing before Congress. Morgan was troubled by the breadth of the law. It does not require a specific intent to deceive the Congress. It does not require that statements be written, or that they be sworn. Congress is aware of the law’s breadth and has chosen not to change it.

“Maybe presciently, Morgan noted that the false statements statute even reaches ‘misrepresentations in a president’s state of the union address.’”

Short of that, this has been a rather pointless discussion .

Perhaps if you had a better point to make it wouldn’t have been?

Comments on this entry are closed.