Krautmas came two weeks early this year

by Henry on April 22, 2015

Today is Charles Krauthammer day, the twelfth anniversary of the day when Charles Krauthammer opined:

Hans Blix had five months to find weapons. He found nothing. We’ve had five weeks. Come back to me in five months. If we haven’t found any, we will have a credibility problem.

We’ve had five months and five months and five months and five months and five months and five months and five months and five months and five months and five months and five months and five months and five months and five months and five months and five months and five months and five months and five months and five months and five months and five months and five months and five months and five months and five months and five months and five months and another four months on top since then. But still no nuclear weapons. Some time in the last twelve months, the transcript of Krauthammer’s remarks finally slipped into the AEI’s memory hole; fortunately, the remarks are preserved for posterity at the Internet Archive.

Unfortunately, Charles Krauthammer is still writing pieces like this one on the proposed Iran deal, from April 9. Krauthammer complains of Obama:

You set out to prevent proliferation and you trigger it. You set out to prevent an Iranian nuclear capability and you legitimize it. You set out to constrain the world’s greatest exporter of terror threatening every one of our allies in the Middle East and you’re on the verge of making it the region’s economic and military hegemon.

This is a … remarkably un-self-aware … set of fulminations coming from a pundit who advocated invading Iraq as the second stage of a Grand Master Plan which would precipitate regime change in Iran by demonstrating “the fragility of dictatorship” next door. How exactly did that work out? Right. And I think we’ve already touched on Charles Krauthammer’s magisterial grasp of anti-proliferation issues – the man who confidently opined that we needed to go into Iraq, because Saddam “is working on nuclear weapons [and] … has every incentive to pass them on to terrorists who will use them against us,” should really just shut up. Forever. And not only shut up, but devote the rest of his life to doing whatever pathetically inadequate things he can to make up for the strategic and humanitarian catastrophe that he helped cheer-lead. Of course, Charles Krauthammer has no intention of shutting up. Which is why I’m marking this squalid anniversary yet again.

{ 154 comments }

1

MPAVictoria 04.22.15 at 2:52 pm

Henry I really appreciate you marking this occasion. It matters. They should know that we haven’t forgotten.

2

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© 04.22.15 at 2:56 pm

Thanks to Fred Hiatt and Jackson Diehl, The War Criminal Post remains a wretched hive of scum and villainy.

In fact, it’s actually worse now, with the additions of Michael Gerson, Marc Thiessen, and Jenghazi Rubin. (Not to mention all the guest war-criminaltorials from the likes of Elliott Abrams and Dick Cheney since 2003.)
~

3

P O'Neill 04.22.15 at 3:33 pm

Krautmas has been bringing us nasty presents for a long time. From a recent conversation with Billy Kristol

And then I said [at New Republic editorial meetings, early 1980s], there’s an interesting counter-development, we have anti-communist guerillas in Nicaragua, Angola, Afghanistan – of course, this was the Mujahedeen, and we’re backing it – I wonder what it means? And one of the people at the meetings said, “Well, you ought to write that.” I wasn’t actually thinking of doing it. So I put that together. And I basically came to the conclusion is what had happened, the Soviets had overextended their empire, and they were getting what the West had gotten with its overextended empire decades before a reaction, they got a rebellion, they got resistance. And the Soviets were now beginning to feel it, and the genius of Reagan, although I don’t think they had a plan in doing this is he instinctively realized that one of the ways to go after the Soviets was indirect, and that is you go after their proxies, you go after their allies, you go after their clients, or even in Afghanistan you go after them directly.

4

Cervantes 04.22.15 at 3:34 pm

Yeah well he obviously isn’t going to shut up but that’s no excuse for the WaPo to publish his toxic drivel.

5

someguy88 04.22.15 at 4:00 pm

What about the people who told me the US was going to rob Iraq’s oil? A lot of people told me that. Do they also need to shut up and never ever talk again?

6

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© 04.22.15 at 4:12 pm

No, someguy88.
~

7

mds 04.22.15 at 4:51 pm

Do they also need to shut up and never ever talk again?

At the very least, we could strip them of their regular Washington Post opinion columns, their automatic television pundit status, or their high political offices … if any of the people who told you that had any of those things, which they don’t.

(You know, back in my day, people put a little work into their false equivalence. What happened to pride of craftmanship? “Yeah? Well, political leaders and commentators with major national platforms may have lied us into the Iraq War, but some powerless kooks were wrong about one of the possible reasons why our leaders were lying. So there!” Good grief.)

8

Tiny Tim 04.22.15 at 4:56 pm

Besides, taking control of the oil was part of the plan. It was just another thing which they screwed up royally.

9

Omega Centauri 04.22.15 at 5:34 pm

“Get back to me in five months” is a pretty effective evasion. By then nobody but us former hippies cared.

10

mattski 04.22.15 at 5:51 pm

but some powerless kooks were wrong about one of the possible reasons why our leaders were lying.

I think Tiny Tim clearly is on the right track. It was part of the plan. But the planners had some difficulties with execution. “Any Jackass can kick down a barn, but it takes a carpenter to build one.”

Thanks to Fred Hiatt and Jackson Diehl, The War Criminal Post remains a wretched hive of scum and villainy.

I agree. And here’s some notable background.

11

Dr. Hilarius 04.22.15 at 5:51 pm

No surprise that hacks like Krauthammer keep opining without shame. I keep hoping that a near-perfect record of being wrong about important things might discourage the media from giving him a platform. Then I pick up the NYT and see another stream-of-demented-conscious column by David Brooks (or John Bolton or George Will or …) and am reminded that making sense is not a job requirement for punditry.

12

Friend and Retaliation 04.22.15 at 5:55 pm

Krautmas comes but two and two-fifths times a year!

13

Ogden Wernstrom 04.22.15 at 6:14 pm

I’m considering switching my fermented-vegetable-fest to Kimchimas, hoping for less anosagnosia and more joy.

14

AcademicLurker 04.22.15 at 6:41 pm

People have lost sight of the true meaning of Krautmas since it got all commercial. It’s a shame.

15

doubtthat 04.22.15 at 6:42 pm

Nuh-uh, it was the spies. They weren’t good.

As we all know, the default position is that anyone we don’t like is on the brink of developing nuclear weapons. The burden is on the spies to prove that this isn’t happening, otherwise war must happen. Of course, when such evidence is given – Joe Wilson – then the party-poopers need to be destroyed.

See, it was totally the intelligence community, not Jolly Old St. Chuck.

16

LFC 04.22.15 at 7:53 pm

mattski @10
I skimmed through some of that two-part piece that you link by James DiEugenio. I’d like to single out something that jumped out at me from part 2 of the piece, namely DiEugenio’s attack on Walter Pincus.

I don’t know much about Pincus’s history and perhaps it does contain all the bad things that DiEugenio lists, but DiEugenio fails to mention that Pincus is one of the most knowledgeable reporters, if not the most knowledgeable, about the ins-and-outs of the defense budget and he’s certainly not an uncritical booster of the Pentagon. I don’t read him very often but whenever on the rare occasions I have looked at Pincus’s writing in WaPo in recent years I’ve been quite impressed. Specifically I’m thinking at the moment of a piece from some months ago in which he criticized the Pentagon’s huge budget allocations for its already-excessive (in terms of overkill) nuclear sub fleet. It wasn’t written in the language of Counterpunch or TomDispatch etc. but it was effective criticism, buried unfortunately on a back page of the paper. Yeah, Pincus is an ‘insider’ but he also happens to be a good reporter.

I sometimes wonder if people who go on about WaPo as “a hive of scum and villainy” have ever read any of the WaPo except for the editorial page and certain of its op-ed columnists. There is more to the paper than that. (Of course like perhaps a few other topics, this is something that it’s almost impossible to have a rational conversation about at this blog.)

17

Barry 04.22.15 at 7:56 pm

Dr. Hilarius 04.22.15 at 5:51 pm

“No surprise that hacks like Krauthammer keep opining without shame. I keep hoping that a near-perfect record of being wrong about important things might discourage the media from giving him a platform. Then I pick up the NYT and see another stream-of-demented-conscious column by David Brooks (or John Bolton or George Will or …) and am reminded that making sense is not a job requirement for punditry.”

He did his job, which was to lie is into war, to lie during the war, and to lie after the war.

Honestly – is there a single honest columnist at WaPo?

18

T 04.22.15 at 7:57 pm

The opinions of Krauthhammer and Bolton matter because K&B are public voices of certain segments of the Republican party, Jeb in particular given his announced foreign policy team. No one in DC is ever convinced by anything they say — people that mattered bought into the positions, if not the professed reasons, long before the columns appeared. But it does indicate the priorities of the neocons and acts a a first test of potential Republican talking points. These columns are stalking horses for future arguments to be made by their benefactors.

To the extent there were any open issues regarding the effects of neocon policies, they have been settled. Similarly, to the extent that there were open issues regarding the effects of fiscal austerity and expansionary monetary policy, they’ve been settled as well. That won’t stop the neocons and inflationistas from re-parsing the same failed arguments. But what you’re hearing from Krauthammer is what you’ll hear from Jeb if it rocks the supporters and passes the centrist laugh test (and not if it doesn’t.)

Finally, the most recent John Bates Clark Award, given to the best economists under 40, went in part for research into the political orientation of newspapers. They found that the editorial pages reflect the biases of the readers, not the publishers. You’re selling papers and you don’t want to piss off the customers.

19

rea 04.22.15 at 8:13 pm

What about the people who told me the US was going to rob Iraq’s oil? A lot of people told me that. Do they also need to shut up and never ever talk again?

That was certainly the plan–it just turned out that those charged with the execution of the plan turned out to be incapable of doing it–and maybe it was undoable. As to whether the people who said that should shut up, it depends on whether they were for or against robbing Iraq’s oil.

20

LFC 04.22.15 at 8:17 pm

@Barry

is there a single honest columnist at WaPo?

Yes. For starters, Harold Meyerson, E.J. Dionne, Eugene Robinson. Taking “honest” in this question primarily to mean “people we are likely to agree with more often than not.” (Not to defend Krauthammer, of course, who is everything the OP says.)

Btw, Barry, are you aware that The Monkey Cage, a blog with which the author of the OP here is associated, is hosted by WaPo? (Just thought I’d ask.)

21

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© 04.22.15 at 8:21 pm

I sometimes wonder if people who go on about WaPo as “a hive of scum and villainy” have ever read any of the WaPo except for the editorial page and certain of its op-ed columnists.

Who, moi? Actually, I agree with you, re: Walter Pincus. (And Dana Priest, for that matter.) Please note where that article appeared in the paper, and consider what was on the front page and the editorial pages. Fred Hiatt’s opinion is important to Our President. Yours and mine, not so much.

Walter did not distinguish himself with regards to Snowden.

BTW, I grew up in D.C. , and it wasn’t because my dad spent most of his life reporting for the government. I went from reading Dr. Seuss to reading the WaPo.
~

22

LFC 04.22.15 at 8:29 pm

@ifthethunderdon’tgetya…

ok, it appears we agree on some things.

23

M. Bouffant 04.22.15 at 8:32 pm

24

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© 04.22.15 at 8:55 pm

On CNBC right now:

Larry Kudlow telling Judy Miller how brave she is, and can she put to bed the myth, “George Bush lied about Iraq.”

Judy: That’s what my book is about!
~

25

rea 04.22.15 at 8:58 pm

So, Ms. Miller and Mr. Kudlow, it turns out that Saddam really had nukes?

26

Niall McAuley 04.22.15 at 9:12 pm

rea, Saddam didn’t have nukes, but he was working on a weapon to disperse clouds of toxic fungus spores. That’s what Condeleeza Rice was talking about, that’s what was really in the vial at the UN.

Indeed, if you look at a picture of Powell at the UN, the vial is not full. It is clearly false to say that there is not mushroom in there.

27

Guano 04.22.15 at 9:19 pm

“So, Ms. Miller and Mr. Kudlow, it turns out that Saddam really had nukes?”

No, I think that they are saying that Bush didn’t lie because he really and truly believed all those things that he was saying. To me that means that Bush was delusional, but to Miller and Kudlow it appears to mean that it was a mistake anyone could make.

28

MPAVictoria 04.22.15 at 9:20 pm

“To me that means that Bush was delusional, but to Miller and Kudlow it appears to mean that it was a mistake anyone could make.”

The old stupid vs evil debate. At the end of the day it was probably both.

29

Collin Street 04.22.15 at 9:23 pm

> No surprise that hacks like Krauthammer keep opining without shame.

The evidence is compatible with “genuine organic cognitive problem”.

30

someguy88 04.22.15 at 9:32 pm

And there you have it. People you disagree with must be silenced/held accountable because they are always wrong. People you agree with are always right even when they were wrong.

31

Happy Jack 04.22.15 at 9:47 pm

the genius of Reagan, although I don’t think they had a plan in doing this is he instinctively realized that one of the ways to go after the Soviets was indirect, and that is you go after their proxies, you go after their allies, you go after their clients, or even in Afghanistan you go after them directly.

Apparently he didn’t have an editor at the New Republic correcting him when he was starting out. That was Zbig’s idea to fund the mujahideen. Whether that was a genius idea to turn that country into the ITT Tech of jihadists I’ll leave to history.

32

Donald Johnson 04.22.15 at 10:20 pm

Someguy88–

You may not have noticed, but you made an assertion in your first post, it was refuted by several people, and rather than come back with a counterargument you make some vague comment about how unnamed people are censoring other unnamed people because the first group doesn’t agree with the second. It’s almost like you have nothing substantive to say.

33

Donald Johnson 04.22.15 at 10:22 pm

Forgot to ask, someguy–So what makes you think the desire to control of Iraq’s oil didn’t play a role in motivating our invasion? If Iraq’s chief export were bananas, would we have invaded? (Might have had the CIA overthrow the government, but that’s a lot cheaper).

34

Ogden Wernstrom 04.22.15 at 11:00 pm

Collin Street 04.22.15 at 9:23 pm:

The evidence is compatible with “genuine organic cognitive problem”.

IANAD. “Anosagnosia” was just a guess.

35

Theophylact 04.23.15 at 12:19 am

Given that Krauthammer is actually a (nonpracticing) psychiatrist, his lack of introspection is amazing. But I’d refrain from diagnosis at a distance when other explanations suffice.

36

Tom Slee 04.23.15 at 12:58 am

12 Krauthammers = 60 months = one Deca Friedman Unit?

37

floopmeister 04.23.15 at 1:10 am

I’d ignore anyone who decides to use the moniker .

Just saying.

38

Main Street Muse 04.23.15 at 1:11 am

Has political discourse in America always been this shitty? I don’t remember it… but then I remember Watergate, Vietnam, Ollie North, etc.

I can’t stand Krauthammer. But he has a very big audience of fans (I’m related to some.)

39

Bill Murray 04.23.15 at 1:25 am

3/27/03 testimony before a Senate Appropriations Hearing
Rumsfeld:

“I don’t believe that the United States has the responsibility for reconstruction, in a sense…[Reconstruction] funds can come from those various sources I mentioned: frozen assets, oil revenues and a variety of other things, including the Oil for Food, which has a very substantial number of billions of dollars in it.”

so the plan seems to have been to fund the post-war effort (which was IMO basically funding Republican-connected groups) with Iraqi oil money

40

William Berry 04.23.15 at 1:43 am

@Tom Slee: Awesome!

@floopmeister: Yeah, I was puzzled about that on another thread. Someone suggested it was his birth-year. That would be consistent with the quality of his posts– I’m an old fart, so 27 yoa seems young and green to me.

But, if not age-related– well, there you go.

41

Omega Centauri 04.23.15 at 2:08 am

Bill @37.
Yes, I recall the idea wasn’t to steal the oil outright, but Iraqi oil revenues would be available so that politically well connected corps could overcharge for reconstruction.

42

Uncle Jeffy 04.23.15 at 3:28 am

As a comment on this blog many long Kraphammers ago noted, “When all you have is a Kraphammer, every problem looks like a fail.”

43

bad Jim 04.23.15 at 7:06 am

Economic zombies. Foreign policy zombies. String theory zombies: “Branes. Branes.”

44

David 04.23.15 at 9:52 am

It’s worth mentioning that the nuclear-weapons-passed-to-terrorists meme is one of the most venerable journalistic and media standbys of modern times. I personally recall it from the 1970s, when it was being seriously suggested, even in government, that the IRA might hijack tactical nukes and use them. There was a massive wave of panic at the end of the Cold War when it was alleged that thousands of mini nuclear weapons were circulating in the former Soviet Union, and would eventually find their way into the hands of “terrorists”. Then of course Iraq, then of course Iran, and even panic about factions in the Pakistan Armed Forces passing nuclear weapons to “terrorists” so that they could …. well, we’ll get back to you on that. I’m not an expert on nuclear weapons, but I have met some who are, and they tell me that just arming a weapon correctly takes a long period of training by specialists.
Why the is this a particularly American thing? I think that’s obvious – a deep seated fear of punishment for Hiroshima, mixed with a guilty feeling that such punishment would actually be just if it happened. It’s therefore necessary to conjure up dark forces bent on revenge, even if they don’t have any real existence.
Incidentally, does this guy Krauthammer actually exist? I ask because I’ve heard the name in the past, and always assumed it was a nom de plume of some kind: “hammer of the Krauts” – come on, sounds like a WW II super-hero. I thought it might be a collective, or even a piece of software of some kind.

45

Guano 04.23.15 at 12:57 pm

There is probably some risk that terrorists could get hold of unusual weapons (WMD) and use them. It is probably true that Al Qaida sought WMD, though their contacts were with the Kahn network of Pakistan in 2001, and not with Iraq. It is probably true that concerted international action is required to reduce that risk. How the Cabbage Hammer Man and Judith Miller convinced themselves that this risk meant that we had to invade Iraq is a complete mystery. Judith Miller’s recent article in the WSJ is the usual collection of talking points of the bitter-end supporters of the invasion, that avoids acknowledging that
– it was known in March 2003 that Iraq did not have operational links with Al Qaida
– Iraq was under intrusive weapons’ inspections in March 2003 that could have clarified what WMD Iraq had, if they had been allowed to continue
– there was a risk that an invasion of Iraq would divert attention and money from other means of controlling the WMD risks
– there was a risk that an invasion of Iraq would create a vacuum, a space that terrorists could occupy.

If the Cabbage Hammer Man and Judith Miller believe that our inspection regimes are not good enough, they should argue that. That could be the only reason why inspections were abandoned in March 2003 (if WMD were the reason and not a pretext). The alternative though would be to invade every country that might have WMD, which would be risky and expensive. We have been forced to find this out in practice, even though it could have been foreseen in March 2003.

46

LFC 04.23.15 at 1:19 pm

David @44
There was a massive wave of panic at the end of the Cold War when it was alleged that thousands of mini nuclear weapons were circulating in the former Soviet Union, and would eventually find their way into the hands of “terrorists”.

The bigger concern, I think, of the US FP establishment at the end of the Cold War was not “mini” nuclear weapons in the former USSR but the strategic nuclear weapons formerly belonging to the USSR and subsequently ‘inherited’ by its successor states. Under the Nunn-Lugar program, coupled w/ the Megatons to Megawatts program, and by agreements among the US, Russia, and the relevant Soviet successor states, the nuclear weapons of Kazakhstan, Belarus, and Ukraine were dismantled and the highly-enriched uranium converted to low-enriched uranium and sold to the US to fuel nuclear power plants. As Graham Allison wrote five years ago: “Few Americans are aware that, thanks to the Megatons to Megawatts program, half of all the electricity produced by nuclear power plants in the United States over the past decade has been fueled by enriched uranium blended down from the cores of nuclear warheads originally designed to destroy American cities.” (G. Allison, “Nuclear Disorder,” Foreign Affairs, Jan/Feb 2010, pp.82-3) Whether, in retrospect, Ukraine would have been better advised to keep some of its nuclear arsenal is a separate question, rather off-topic here.

As for the guilt-feelings-for-Hiroshima issue that David raises, I’m not sure. For one thing, the U.S. firebombing of Japanese cities, with ‘conventional’ not nuclear bombs, killed more people than did the Hiroshima and Nagasaki explosions, so I’m not sure why there wouldn’t be equal or greater guilt feelings for that. Actually, at the current remove of 70 years, I think most Americans (rightly or wrongly) see both Hiroshima and the firebombing of Tokyo as ancient history. Historical memory, esp. for things one might prefer to forget, is not usually a strong point of American culture, though there is a certain amount of variation depending on the event(s) in question.

47

kidneystones 04.23.15 at 1:26 pm

Thank you for this and the link, Henry. Your celebratory ejaculation “But still no nuclear weapons.” relied entirely on a dubious misreading of the original quote, a quote you carefully avoid repeating in context. ‘But still no nuclear weapons’ gives gullible readers the very clear impression that Krauthammer was challenged to provide evidence of nuclear weapons. In fact, the questioner asks Krauthammer a much broader question. Here’s the quote in context.

“A question over there from this gentleman.

MR. : [?], visiting Austrian journalist. I am most impressed by the quality of discussion and also by some degree of naivete concerning the future.

Credibility gap. Number one, the weapons of mass destruction haven’t yet been found.

Number two, the contacts between Saddam and al Qaeda haven’t yet been proven. This is also criticized in the European and the American press.

Number two, credibility gap. I believe, Mr. Krauthammer, that he wants values, no question about that, but there are people who also want money. And if you look at the situation in awarding contracts, major contracts without a tender to major companies, Halliburton, Bechtel, which are direct or indirectly connected with major political figures, I don’t want to mention names, it also doesn’t help the credibility gap.

DR. KRAUTHAMMER: Hans Blix had five months to find weapons. He found nothing. We’ve had five weeks. Come back to me in five months. If we haven’t found any, we will have a credibility problem. I don’t have any doubt that we will locate them. I think it takes time. They’ve obviously been deeply hidden, and it will require that we get the information from people who know where they are.

If you’re looking for anthrax and VX gas, which can be hidden in a basement or a closet, in a country the size of Germany, you can understand how in five weeks we might not have stumbled across them.”

I won’t bother to bold or highlight the relevant text. The questioner challenges Krauthammer over WMD, not nuclear weapons. WMD generally refers to CBN weapons, chemical, biological, and nuclear. Krauthammer’s answer in full fairly clearly refers to chemical weapons “anthrax and VX gas.” I’ll leave it to other readers to judge whether your omissions are accidental or intentional.

As a strident opponent of western invasions of the Middle East dating back to Desert Storm I find Henry’s sloppy argumentation faux celebration depressing and unseemly, at best. The European and American left learned nothing from the Iraq experience and permitted President Drone Strike I Never Said That and his pals in Paris in London to do to Libya what Franks, Cheney, and Rumsfeld did in Iraq. The Iraq debacle spawned enough outright lies of the ‘if you like your plan, you can keep your plan’ variety that we do not need to suggest Krauthammer was saying something he clearly isn’t.

As for Iran, I find it frankly astonishing that CR readers would believe that religious cranks in despots in Tehran possess greater integrity than religious cranks and elitists closer to home. Oh, and btw, here’s what the NYT (October 14, 2014, By C. J. CHIVERS) has to say about Krauthammer’s response to the questioner’s challenge about evidence presence of WMD:

“From 2004 to 2011, American and American-trained Iraqi troops repeatedly encountered, and on at least six occasions were wounded by, chemical weapons remaining from years earlier in Saddam Hussein’s rule.

In all, American troops secretly reported finding roughly 5,000 chemical warheads, shells or aviation bombs, according to interviews with dozens of participants, Iraqi and American officials, and heavily redacted intelligence documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

The United States had gone to war declaring it must destroy an active weapons of mass destruction program. Instead, American troops gradually found and ultimately suffered from the remnants of long-abandoned programs, built in close collaboration with the West.”

Perhaps it’s time for Henry to stop clapping or at least provide the quote in full.

48

someguy88 04.23.15 at 2:31 pm

Donald Johnson,

Are assertions questions? I, say, mostly not. By refute do you mean pathetically assert an unfalsifiable counterfactual?

You answered your own question. F******ing bananas! Any pretext will do. We got poked. He was a convenient villain. We threw his shitty little country up against a wall. Oil schmoil.

49

someguy88 04.23.15 at 2:54 pm

Donald Johnson,

Also there is no reason to doubt that Bush and Cheney honestly believed that he had WMD, the best lies are the ones you believe, and that they could make Iraq into a big happy Democracy! ( Maybe not Cheney but Bush believed in the happy Democracy stuff) There really isn’t any need to resort to conspiracy theories regarding oil.

Sometimes people aren’t evil they are just stupid.

50

mattski 04.23.15 at 3:09 pm

51

Map Maker 04.23.15 at 3:27 pm

Kidney,

Myth-making in action. Henry’s narrative is comfortable and easy for the western left to digest.

The Iran-Iraq war is a tough one that a lot on the left and right in the west should ask themselves more questions about, but don’t. That war was far more costly than the 1990 & 2003 wars in terms of lives. WMD used with impunity from both sides? check! Atrocities, war crimes by both sides? check!

52

mattski 04.23.15 at 3:29 pm

@ LFC

I appreciate your reply. I’d like to respond at greater length later on as I’ve only read pt. 1 of Jim D’s piece. But a couple of comments:

One of the lessons, I believe, of closely studying how power propagates in our country is that many people play very mixed roles. They do good work in certain areas, they get compromised in other areas. I think it is vital to understand the power of “Sinclair’s Law.” People–I’m talking mostly about journalists–often face a choice between digging for the truth and advancing their career. Or merely protecting their career from damage.

In part 1 of the piece on Ben Bradlee we hear about Operation Mockingbird, which is CIA efforts to influence the news media both overseas and domestically. Henry Luce, for example, worked closely with the intelligence services. (If you read Gaeton Fonzi’s, The Last Investigation, which I highly recommend in any case, you’ll be treated to a tale of Claire Booth Luce deliberately sending Fonzi on a wild goose chase in order to stymie his investigations on behalf of the HSCA.)

If you read Jim DiEugenio’s, Destiny Betrayed (2nd edition) you’ll get huge insight into CIA’s massive covert attack on Jim Garrison’s lawsuit against Clay Shaw. And you’ll see examples of people acting on the agency’s behalf offering witnesses plush jobs/careers in order to dissuade them from testifying at the trial.

So, it’s entirely plausible that Walter Pincus–for example–can do much good journalism while at the same time have some blemishes on his record in the form of buckling to pressure from some fairly powerful and intimidating people/agencies.

53

Guano 04.23.15 at 3:39 pm

Map Maker – the Iran/Iraq war was indeed horrendous. Why does that lead you to say that “Henry’s narrative is comfortable and easy for the western left to digest”? What is the connection?

54

Maya 04.23.15 at 3:48 pm

Don’t care much about Krauthammer and what he has to hasn’t to say. But that care about what’s happening in the Middle East, and not just settling their domestic political resentments, maybe wish to take such comments seriously: “….Hezbollah—an organization sponsored and directed by America’s new Iranian partner—has repeatedly used force to block every effort toward democracy or reform [in Lebanon]. Assassinations, bombings, and military invasions were some of the tools that the Party of God employed to intimidate the pro-Western March 14 political camp into surrendering the state…..”

http://tabletmag.com/jewish-news-and-politics/189809/obamas-harvest-of-violence

and about WMDs: don’t know what the real reason for the invasion of Iraq was. The fact is that the Ba’ath regime had chemical weapons and used them against Iraq’s own citizens in 1988. What happened to rest of this arsenal? Nobody knows for sure. Not even CT’s bloggers. The fact is that the Ba’ath regime in Syria has used chemical agents in its current war on its population.

But westerners don’t care, do they? They use the Middle East to score some useless points in their domestic political debates. Criticize Krauthammer all you like. I for one, couldn’t care less about him and have nothing to say in his favour. But is it too much to ask for a little of empathy for the victims of the murderous dictatorships in Iran and formerly in Iraq, in the process?

55

Guano 04.23.15 at 3:53 pm

someguy88

Cheney said, in August 2002, that there was no doubt that Iraq had WMD. Just over a year later, when no WMD had been found, the intelligence services in the USA and UK started talking about how difficult it was to know what was happening in Iraq, how little information they could get out, how many uncertainties there were etc etc. In short Cheney was not transmitting what his intelligence services were saying.

Whether he was lying, or whether he was so deluded that he thought that there was no doubt, is beside the point. And it isn’t stupidity: it’s a question of not being part of the reality-based community.

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Guano 04.23.15 at 3:56 pm

Maya. “They use the Middle East to score some useless points in their domestic political debates.”

No. I am simply appalled at the use by my government of erroneous facts and twisted logic to make decisions.

57

The Temporary Name 04.23.15 at 4:09 pm

Well played Niall.

58

LFC 04.23.15 at 4:14 pm

mattski @52
many people play very mixed roles

I’m sure that’s true in general, and could well be true of Pincus specifically. I haven’t read the Jim D. piece carefully. I was just looking through it rather quickly. (Perhaps I’ll return to it at some point.)

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The Temporary Name 04.23.15 at 4:19 pm

And there you have it. People you disagree with must be silenced/held accountable because they are always wrong. People you agree with are always right even when they were wrong.

Sometimes strong feeling are warranted when considering the deaths of uncountable innocents.

60

LFC 04.23.15 at 4:37 pm

@kidneystones

Your own quote from Chivers in the NYT makes the key point:

The United States had gone to war declaring it must destroy an active weapons of mass destruction program. Instead, American troops gradually found and ultimately suffered from the remnants of long-abandoned programs, built in close collaboration with the West.

The distinction between “active” and “long-abandoned” programs, clearly made by Chivers here, is crucial.

As for your comments about the 2011 intervention in Libya, it would take too long to respond. But suffice to say that most of the US and European left did not seem too enthusiastic about it, contrary to your suggestion.

61

Glen Tomkins 04.23.15 at 4:38 pm

Dr. Merkwuerdigliebe

There’s no sense at all to ridiculing Krauthammer at this point. He burst onto whatever sort of world stage the TV news talk shows are, several decades after Kubrick had already filmed the ultimate parody of Dr. Krauthammer.

62

LFC 04.23.15 at 4:49 pm

Maya @54
The fact is that the Ba’ath regime had chemical weapons and used them against Iraq’s own citizens in 1988. What happened to rest of this arsenal? Nobody knows for sure.

The issue is whether there was an active WMD (chemical/bio/etc) program in Iraq in ’03, as claimed by the GW Bush admin and its supporters. There wasn’t. This is not a matter of “settling domestic political scores,” as you assert. It’s a matter of getting the historical record right.

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MPAVictoria 04.23.15 at 5:44 pm

“Sometimes strong feeling are warranted when considering the deaths of uncountable innocents.”

Typical bloody leftist….

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Roger Gathmann 04.23.15 at 5:59 pm

Maya @54 As well as we can know what the US did with its chemical weapons, we know what Saddam H. did with his. The latter was forced to host several visits of inspectors, and they did a very ace job – Hans Blix showing more competence in his brief spotlight in the media than Geroge Bush has shown in his entire life. In fact, some of the discarded weaponry was discovered, as the NYT has recently reported, in various weapons dumps in Iraq. It was not weapons grade material – the inspector regime had forced the Iraqis to dispose of it. Yet it was still toxic to handle. One of the ace incompetencies of the whole Bush Rumsfeld disaster was the idea that you could occupy Iraq with a minimum force of American soldiers – something that was preposterous, according to General Shinseki, who made that point before the invasion and was punished for it. No Washington Post Op ed position for him! Given the initial mistake and the evident fear among the Bushies that calling up 500,000 soldiers for an indefinite occupation of Iraq would screw the re-election vibe, they simply didn’t guard the dumps. It was like, free weapons for insurgents day every day for years and years.

As to the oil…
It is true that those who said the US was going to steal Iraq’s oil were deluded about the power and intelligence of the American military and political establishment. Among that group was Paul Wolfowitz, of course, who testified blithely before the war that the whole thing would be paid for by the grateful Iraqis – which is a mushmouthed way of saying we will take their oil. Oopsy – off the mark by about a trillion dollars there, Paul! No sweat though, you’ll still be called on to write thought pieces in the media until you die. As it turned out, the US, in its five years in Iraq, couldn’t even get the electricity to work as it did under Saddam even with the sanction regime. But you can look back, if you want, to discussions in Business week and elsewhere in the runup to the war about how good it was all going to be, with the cheap oil and the imposition of a Chile like regime of laissez faire on Iraq. Alan Greenspan has said that he thought the main reason for the war was oil. So I guess the choice comes down between was it robbery or was it vandalism motivated the krewe of crooks. I still think robbery – I don’t think they were cartoon evil characters. More like your standard corporate Mafiosi.
By the way, Krauthammer was one who obviously thought the US would control Iraq’s oil after the invasion. Here’s what he wrote on February 27,2003:

“First, as soon as the dust settles in Iraq, we should push for an expansion of the Security Council — with India and Japan as new permanent members — to dilute France’s disproportionate and anachronistic influence.

Second, there should be no role for France in Iraq, either during the war, should France change its mind, or after it. No peacekeeping. No oil contracts. And France should be last in line for loan repayment, after Russia. Russia, after all, simply has opposed our policy. It did not try to mobilize the world against us.”

No oil contracts! ah, that does say it all.

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David Coombs 04.23.15 at 6:00 pm

It’s so heartwarming to see the old “if you criticize our invasion plans, you must support Saddam and the terrorists” lines trotted out again. They have the nostalgic power to take me back to the kinder, simpler time of boot-cut jeans and Nelly’s “Hot in Herre.”

66

Seth 04.23.15 at 6:45 pm

@Maya @54

“But is it too much to ask for a little of empathy for the victims of the murderous dictatorships in Iran and formerly in Iraq, in the process?”

Not at all. That was my own primary reason for considering the invasion foolish and a disaster in the making. It was obvious in advance that the war would make most Iraqi’s FAR worse off. This is precisely what happened. Saddam was nasty to his enemies, and a wicked man, but people knew his rules and could avoid trouble with him. What they have had since is anarchy, tribal violence, and often the need to flee homes to survive.

Bush Sr. and his defense secretary, none other than Dick Cheney, understood what would happen, and wisely stopped short of ousting Saddam in 1991. There is a great video if Sec. Cheney explaining this back in 1991 which absolutely nailed it. I am quite troubled by the fact that he changed his view so dramatically for the worse.

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Donald Johnson 04.23.15 at 6:51 pm

Someguy, do you really think that a few lines in a blog comment constitute an argument about why the Bush Administration went into Iraq? I think it was for multiple reasons, including oil–mattski supplied one link. I’m not going to try to settle the issue, but it’s a little insane to imagine that our long involvement in the Middle East, including our invasion of Iraq, has nothing to do with oil. And the “conspiracy theory” label applied here is silly namecalling.

As for what Bush and Cheney believed, they pretend to believe what is convenient, as politicians tend to do. I don’t read much about the prewar debate anymore and my memory is fading, but I recall reading some things Colin Powell said in early 2001 which amounted to saying that the sanctions had kept Saddam in a box. It was 9/11 when the Bushies suddenly discovered the danger that Saddam allegedly posed to the world–it was so obvious that they were using the post 9/11 panic to boost support for going into Iraq that I think people had to be stupid not to see it. And many Democrats went along, so as not to be accused of being Neville Chamberlain.

And I doubt that Cheney in particular cares a fig about creating big happy democracies. Maybe Bush fooled himself in that fashion.

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Donald Johnson 04.23.15 at 7:00 pm

Maya–That is one weird link you posted. The writer seems to think that American military action to depose Assad would be the way to help Arab liberals. Maybe Arab liberals had better think of some better ideas, because America has deposed dictators in Iraq and Libya and it didn’t work out too well in either case. And all snark aside, I can’t fathom how someone could write such a piece with the catastrophic example of Iraq (and on a lesser scale Libya) just a few years behind us.

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mattski 04.23.15 at 7:07 pm

And many Democrats went along, so as not to be accused of being Neville Chamberlain.

As did the MSM. Because the wind was blowing–the wind that matters–inside the beltway.

My rough view is that Krauthammer is employed by the WaPo to do a certain job, essentially to hold down the Right post of the Overton Window and see that no one moves it.

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T 04.23.15 at 9:50 pm

Henry — Not sure why I was caught in moderation but it seems to happen to others on a random basis as well. Hope you (CT) can fix the problem. A moderated and released comment that finally appears after 20 or 30 other new posts just isn’t read. Kinda defeats the purpose…

71

LFC 04.23.15 at 11:09 pm

@T
I read your earlier post (@18). Yr pt about K’s columns as stalking horses or trial balloons for campaign speeches may be right.

The supreme confidence with which you assure us that “no one” is convinced by K & B because the “someones” have all made up their minds in advance bothers me a little, however. It’s probably true as a general proposition, but in the particular case one never knows who might read a given column and who might be influenced. Though in a polarized environment, it’s probably true that op-ed columnists, wherever they are on the political spectrum, mostly preach to the choir. I had a bit more to say but I think I’ll leave it at that.

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kidneystones 04.23.15 at 11:43 pm

#60
Thank you for reminding us that Henry is not alone in producing questionable claims about easily checked facts. My remark re: the European and American left:

“The European and American left learned nothing from the Iraq experience and permitted President Drone Strike I Never Said That and his pals in Paris in London to do to Libya what Franks, Cheney, and Rumsfeld did in Iraq. “

Your response:” most of the US and European left did not seem too enthusiastic about it, contrary to your suggestion.” There is absolutely nothing in my remark about enthusiasm.

Your remarks re: active/inactive programs as ‘the point.’The transcript confirms unequivocally that the questioner is challenging Krauthammer about the presence of weapons of mass destruction.

MR. : [?], visiting Austrian journalist. I am most impressed by the quality of discussion and also by some degree of naivete concerning the future.

Credibility gap. Number one, the weapons of mass destruction haven’t yet been found.

Number two, the contacts between Saddam and al Qaeda haven’t yet been proven. This is also criticized in the European and the American press.

Number two, credibility gap. I believe, Mr. Krauthammer, that he wants values, no question about that, but there are people who also want money. And if you look at the situation in awarding contracts, major contracts without a tender to major companies, Halliburton, Bechtel, which are direct or indirectly connected with major political figures, I don’t want to mention names, it also doesn’t help the credibility gap.

DR. KRAUTHAMMER: Hans Blix had five months to find weapons. He found nothing. We’ve had five weeks. Come back to me in five months. If we haven’t found any, we will have a credibility problem. I don’t have any doubt that we will locate them. I think it takes time. They’ve obviously been deeply hidden, and it will require that we get the information from people who know where they are.

If you’re looking for anthrax and VX gas, which can be hidden in a basement or a closet, in a country the size of Germany, you can understand how in five weeks we might not have stumbled across them.”

The questioner does not even mention WMD programs, active or otherwise. Nor does Krauthammer in his response. Whatever point you wish to make, it has nothing to do with the questions posed Krauthammer or Krauthammer’s response. As for the Childers reference, I’ll break it down for you: the NYT piece clearly confirms the presence of WMD in Iraq “5000” chemical weapons. That’s the question the questioner asked. In his response Krauthammer claimed that chemical weapons would be found. Chemical weapons were found.

That’s the ‘point’ the questioner and Krauthammer are discussing. Not nuclear weapons alone, as Henry clearly implies, and not active or inactive WMD programs.

You can understand that much, I’m sure.

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Asteele 04.24.15 at 12:21 am

Literally no one at the time was talking about a handful of non-functional 25 year old warheads.

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Earwig 04.24.15 at 12:59 am

“If you’re looking for anthrax and VX gas, which can be hidden in a basement or a closet”

Does this not suggest to you, as it suggests to me — as I am sure it was meant to suggest — that Krauthammer was implying that we would be hunting and finding nefariously hidden WMDs Blix & co. had failed to uncover?

That didn’t happen. The credibility problem remains quite real.

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Happy Jack 04.24.15 at 1:43 am

I’ll break it down for you: the NYT piece clearly confirms the presence of WMD in Iraq “5000” chemical weapons. That’s the question the questioner asked. In his response Krauthammer claimed that chemical weapons would be found. Chemical weapons were found.

I’d suggest reading this before commenting further.

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LFC 04.24.15 at 1:46 am

@kidneystones 72

The NYT excerpt you quote begins: “From 2004 to 2011, American and American-trained Iraqi troops repeatedly encountered, and on at least six occasions were wounded by, chemical weapons remaining from years earlier in Saddam Hussein’s rule.” The justification for the invasion was not there were 5,000 old chemical weapons lying around somewhere in Iraq left over from years earlier. The claim, as I recall, was that there were current weapons, and that Saddam was deliberately concealing them from inspectors.

You write that “In his response Krauthammer claimed that chemical weapons would be found. Chemical weapons were found.” When Krauthammer said
“Hans Blix had five months to find weapons. He found nothing. We’ve had five weeks,” do you think Krauthammer was referring to old chemical weapons lying around in places the regime probably no longer even knew about? Or was he referring to carefully hidden caches of weapons that were in a condition to be used and with means of delivery?

According to Chivers, over the course of seven years (2004-11), soldiers found 5000 chemical warheads, shells, or aviation bombs. Where were they found? In how many separate locations? What sort of condition were they in? What kind of threat did they pose? Did Saddam’s regime have operational delivery systems for them? Did the key people in the regime know where these weapons were, or had they been randomly dumped in various places by lower-level people? I assume the Chivers article takes a stab at answering these questions, which would seem highly pertinent.

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LFC 04.24.15 at 1:54 am

This from the piece linked by commenter Happy Jack @75:

…to locate all of Iraq’s old chemical ordnance was an impossible task. As Duelfer’s report predicted in 2004, the U.S. would continue to find chemical shells — not because the Saddam Hussein regime had been hiding them, but because they had been “abandoned, forgotten and lost during the Iran-Iraq war [since] tens of thousands of CW munitions were forward deployed along the frequently and rapidly shifting battle lines.”

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Cranky Observer 04.24.15 at 2:07 am

= = = LFC 04.24.15 at 1:54 am
This from the piece linked by commenter Happy Jack @75:
…to locate all of Iraq’s old chemical ordnance was an impossible task. As Duelfer’s report predicted in 2004, the U.S. would continue to find chemical shells — not because the Saddam Hussein regime had been hiding them, but because they had been “abandoned, forgotten and lost during the Iran-Iraq war [since] tens of thousands of CW munitions were forward deployed along the frequently and rapidly shifting battle lines.”= = =

Note that France has a government entity that specializes in digging up and disposing of artillery shells and other munitions, primarily from WWI but some from WWII, and that they find hundreds of chemical weapons per year.

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Rich Puchalsky 04.24.15 at 2:08 am

What you’re seeing is the birth of a new denialism. Some people will never accept that the U.S. killed hundreds of thousands of people under false pretenses. For centuries to come, people will purport to find documents that say the WMD existed, or carefully list all of the 5,000 shells, or examine purported hidden sites that they say show evidence of having been used as chemical weapons depots 100 years ago. The denialism will probably outlive the U.S.

80

Donald johnson 04.24.15 at 12:04 pm

“What you’re seeing is the birth of a new denialism.”

Yes. I’m a little surprised to see so much of it in a CT comment thread, but much of the Right never concedes anything on any subject.

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T 04.24.15 at 2:09 pm

LFC 71
See Henninger’s WSJ column on 4/23 and Krauthammer’s 4/24 column. They’re both on the same issue (Iran) and both have the same take. They’re testing a potential Jeb meme on the foreign policy fecklessness of the dems with Iran as the case in point. Note that almost all of the neocons that were in the W administration are signed up as foreign policy advisers to Jeb. Bolton recently wrote an oped advocating the bombing of Iran. I suggest reading Krauthammer in this way if you bother to read him at all.
As to the polarization, just read this thread. Krauthammer was plainly speaking about ongoing WMD activities. He was wrong. Nonetheless, you have folks on this thread saying otherwise. These people will never be convinced. So good for Henry. Maybe the yearly reminder will slow the repub rush towards a war with Iran.

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Earwig 04.24.15 at 2:34 pm

Response from deniers: [running off, tails between legs]

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Trader Joe 04.24.15 at 2:51 pm

Any time I’m tempted to buy into an argument about supposed WMD finds I’m always reminded of the dog that didn’t bark.

Had there been an actual find, the true thing “we” were looking for – it would have been all over the air and run wall-to-wall on Fox News for a month with every possible pundit speculating on what the find would mean. There would probably have been a parade driving the cannister and all its related rusty bits down Pennsylvania Avenue and a speech given on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Everyone would remember where they were “the day we found the WMD.”

That didn’t happen. It means we didn’t find any. End of discussion.

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Earwig 04.24.15 at 3:50 pm

Trader Joe, you are right but still understate things significantly.

Had Saddam’s supposed covert WMDs been found the astounding vindication of Bush/Cheney/Powell/Rice/Wolfowitz would not only have dominated Fox News, but all the networks and print media. The told-you-so-ing even from quite a few Democrats would have been deafening.

85

Bruce Wilder 04.24.15 at 4:06 pm

Instead we had Bush parodying himself and his supposed search for WMD for the Washington press corps — a laugh riot.

That the professional Right, like Charles Krauthammer, never has to acknowledge reality is a privilege they are handed by the sans souci of mainstream journalism.

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Donald Johnson 04.24.15 at 4:06 pm

“Had Saddam’s supposed covert WMDs been found the astounding vindication of Bush/Cheney/Powell/Rice/Wolfowitz would not only have dominated Fox News, but all the networks and print media. The told-you-so-ing even from quite a few Democrats would have been deafening.”

True. There’s a certain type of centrist liberal that loves to hippy punch and if Saddam had been shown to pose any genuine WMD threat, the antiwar left would never be allowed to hear the end of it. The war pushers might even feel they could now retire the Chamberlain/Munich meme and replace it with all the naysayers who doubted our glorious cause in Iraq.

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Rich Puchalsky 04.24.15 at 5:12 pm

BW: “That the professional Right, like Charles Krauthammer, never has to acknowledge reality is a privilege they are handed by the sans souci of mainstream journalism.”

Let’s face it: no one learned anything. The people who opposed the war from the start still oppose future wars; the people who approved of it throughout still approve of future wars; the people who approved of it then changed their minds don’t generalize from that experience and their judgement will be just as bad the next time.

The Libya intervention discussion here on CT had no people who I remember saying “Hmm, I like the idea of humanitarian intervention, but am I just being a sucker for war again?” The recent discussion here on CT of Russian planes buzzing the UK was similarly devoid of any lessons learned. Both of those were conducted in the same bad faith that marked the Iraq war public discussions, with dissenters from war labelled as crazy people who basically had to be shut up.

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William Timberman 04.24.15 at 5:37 pm

The Libya intervention discussion here on CT had no people who I remember saying “Hmm, I like the idea of humanitarian intervention, but am I just being a sucker for war again?”

Not so, or at least not exactly so:

Here is a link to one of my comments from March 22, 2011 on Conor Foley’s The case for Intervention. I think it fulfilled most, if not all, of your requirements.

89

mattski 04.24.15 at 6:16 pm

The people who opposed the war from the start still oppose future wars; the people who approved of it throughout still approve of future wars; the people who approved of it then changed their minds don’t generalize from that experience and their judgement will be just as bad the next time.

Predictions are hard, especially about the future. And it’s not as simple as pro-war or anti-war. I thought we needed to go into Afghanistan. I thought the invasion of Iraq was complete madness. There are nuances that deserve our attention here.

90

R Cottrell 04.24.15 at 6:25 pm

Krauthammer is a weapon of mass destruction……..of facts.
Richard Cottrell

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adam.smith 04.24.15 at 6:29 pm

The people who opposed the war from the start still oppose future wars; the people who approved of it throughout still approve of future wars;

FWIW this is manifestly false. The two are correlated, of course, but you have a lot of people who opposed Iraq (a lot of the European center-left, e.g.) and was at a minimum not opposed to Lybia and you had several prominent proponents of Iraq who opposed Lybia (notably Sullivan and Douthat).
Iraq was a very easy war to oppose. It was a dumb war on false pretenses. Comparatively, I think even Afghanistan was relatively easy to oppose (and I participated in protests against both).
Libya was a much harder case. Yes, it’s worse now than it was under the stable rule of Qaddafi, but let’s remember that–different from Iraq–there was an ongoing civil war with Qaddafi threatening to massacre his opponents. I think the better counterfactual to Libya is Syria, where there was no intervention. I’m not sure I want to decide which is worse. I certainly was glad that I didn’t really need to take any position on the Libya intervention.

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Bruce Wilder 04.24.15 at 6:47 pm

. . . but let’s remember that . . .

There are certain phrases I think I would be utterly embarrassed to reproduce in a comment on this subject, but other people are apparently not that circumspect.

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The Temporary Name 04.24.15 at 6:49 pm

Any time I’m tempted to buy into an argument about supposed WMD finds I’m always reminded of the dog that didn’t bark.

And of course, over two Krautmases later there were some famous jokes made at the Radio and Television Correspondents Dinner.

94

Roger Gathmann 04.24.15 at 7:04 pm

I certainly have a baseline anti-war attitude. Unapologetically so. My sense is that the collective violence of war should be a very rare thing. The wikipedia timeline of U.S. military interventions (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_United_States_military_operations#1960.E2.80.931969)is, to my mind, shocking. Similarly, I think the number of uses of forces numbs one to the use of force and creates a militaristic atmosphere that is bad for all kinds of things I believe are good. For example, why is the US so suddenly insistent that it has to “counter” China? That’s just pure power lust.
Libya is a perfect case, to my mind, of the vast problems of military intervention. For one thing, the intervention is irresponsibly scaled, so that a system is destroyed and no new system is put in its place – myself, I think if the US bombs a place, it owes that place an unlimited amount of money to establish security and remake its quotidien life.
I count as miltary intervention something that isn’t mentioned on the Wikipedia timeline: the massive selling of arms. The category of Weapons of Mass Destruction is, of course, fucked from the beginning, especially as the imperialist powers have no intention of giving up theirs. But one of the most fucked things about it is that it is drawn so that the sale of weapons of mass destruction can still go on. What are the saudis bombing yemen with, if not the wmd sold to them by the US? Like all double standards systems, this one promotes a violence that it will, eventually, not be able to overcome.
I’m not a pacifist. But I am extremely sceptical of any military intervention, especially when it is neither preceded nor followed by more straightforward aid interventions or changes in policies that are obviously not working. Iraq is a good case. Saddam had posed no threat to the breakaway kurds for more than a decade. What was needed was a push – for instance, abandoning the double sanction regime, recognizing Iran, and sending large amounts of aid to Northern Iraq. This, I think, would have shaken the Baathist establishment so badly that Saddam Hussein would not have survived for long. I might be wrong about that, but there was no attempt at all to operate along these or similar lines.

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Rich Puchalsky 04.24.15 at 7:25 pm

WT: “Here is a link to one of my comments from March 22, 2011 on Conor Foley’s The case for Intervention. I think it fulfilled most, if not all, of your requirements.”

Sorry, I assumed that you were against the war from the beginning and that this therefore fell into the “unchanging” case.

mattski: “There are nuances that deserve our attention here.”
adam.smith: “Libya was a much harder case.”

Like I wrote above: nothing learned. I don’t mean that in the sense that either of the two commenters above are pro-war, I mean that in the sense that they still think that there are subtle judgements to be made about whether we should load up the bombers again. This shows no understanding about how contemporary wars actually work — probably the first thing to consider is that it is not in fact you who will be providing the strategic goals or tactical guidelines for the war.

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William Timberman 04.24.15 at 7:56 pm

Sorry, I assumed that you were against the war from the beginning and that this therefore fell into the “unchanging” case.

No, you’re largely right in your assumption, so the misunderstanding may have been mine. The crux of the issue probably hinges on the meaning of humanitarian. Like you, I reject the idea that we can afford to leave the definition of the word in the tender care of the Ministry of Truth, and I likewise refuse to concede that hellfire missiles could possibly have any humanitarian uses. On the other hand, non-military interventions of one kind or another seem more consistent with our concerns and our principles than turning our backs on situations such as Ruanda, the Balkan conflicts, or, yes, Libya.

Even so, non-military intervention itself is tricky. Consider the scenario we saw not so long ago in Somalia: the UN flies in food to prevent a widespread famine. The local warlords attack the UN warehouses, take the food and distribute it according to their own patronage systems. The US sends in troops to defend the food distribution principles of the UN. Then, perhaps predictably, we get Blackhawk Down, and before long, we’re bribing the Ethiopians and Kenyans to invade Somalia.

The first principle to establish, it seems to me, is that we shouldn’t presume to be the masters of other people’s destinies. If that puts a hitch in Hillary Clinton’s gitalong, or gives John McCain dyspepsia, so be it. If sticking to that first principle ends in genocide, then I suppose I should expect to be taken to the woodshed. At this point, though, I doubt very much that what we’re pleased to call genocide can be laid at the feet of people who opposed bombing Belgrade, Benghazi, Kirkuk, or Sana’a.

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mattski 04.24.15 at 8:04 pm

I count as miltary intervention something that isn’t mentioned on the Wikipedia timeline: the massive selling of arms.

This is an important point. We are the worlds largest pusher of military hardware. It is an obscene business and it has a life of its own. It would take an extremely popular president, istm, to take on the arms industry and the military budget.

But the way I read what Rich is saying, we have a military but we shouldn’t use it because it is going to be manipulated by the elite. That’s true, but there are cases where military action is warranted and in those instances we mostly need to act rather than hold back because the plutocrats are going to use the opportunity to enrich themselves, etc.

It’s not an ideal situation but what is?

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TM 04.24.15 at 8:17 pm

I don’t think the anti-war left had any difficulty agreeing that bombing Libya wasn’t going to be a good idea. It is true however that few political actors are consistently pro- or anti-war. Regarding the European center-left, most of them learned to love the bomb in 1999 when NATO started a clear-cut war of aggression against Serbia, in the process committing various clear-cut war crimes, including the intentional bombing of civilian media outlets (specifically banned under the Geneva conventions). All of this was done just to show that “we” could and nobody could prevent “us”, and former pacifists including the German Green party flocked to the opportunity to unapologetically embrace war, with the added bonus that the victim had been bombed by the Wehrmacht 55 years prior.

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Val 04.24.15 at 9:08 pm

The problem is that if you try to make the discussion about the rightness or wrongness of war in relation to particular wars, there will always be argument. We need an honest international discussion about how you resolve conflict without using war.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=dpWmlRNfLck

Also, as ever, I have to make the point that war is not a given in history, it is the product of a certain kind of patriarchal society. Ok, that society obviously imposed itself pretty successfully as the dominant model, which is why the question about how to change it is so hard, but it’s a discussion that we need to have.

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Val 04.24.15 at 9:14 pm

Oops – sorry about the ad on the link above! That’s what you get for linking u tube without checking it :)

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Rich Puchalsky 04.24.15 at 9:17 pm

mattski: “That’s true, but there are cases where military action is warranted”

I’m too tired for this, but there’s basically one criterion for whether military action is warranted: is your country being invaded?

Sadly this criterion does not lend itself to lots of complicated discussions about whether the wars post WW II were warranted. Defensive alliances do complicate matters in theory, but not really in recent practice.

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T 04.24.15 at 9:24 pm

The thread begins the WMDs of Chucky K and moves to

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Bruce Wilder 04.24.15 at 9:50 pm

RP: the first thing to consider is that it is not in fact you who will be providing the strategic goals or tactical guidelines for the war.

Political policy choice shouldn’t be regarded as a multiple choice quiz on one’s individual moral priors, either.

As the various flavors of the Left gradually accommodate themselves by increments to ever greater irrelevance, maybe it seems that way: we just puzzle out the morally “right” answer, while more centrist (and also irrelevant) “thinkers” follow a parallel course, reconciling themselves to tales of inevitability.

I suppose I have ideas about what I think my country should do in the world, but my country’s actual policy is now so at odds with that vision that it scarcely seems worthwhile to articulate those idle notions. The (second) Iraq War was the moment when American policy lost all the moorings that tied it to something I would recognize as either practically sensible or morally defensible (let alone anything remotely in the neighborhood of my personal preferences).

I would put the second Iraq War into the category Marx so memorably created, of history repeated as farce, that is to say, of people who do not understand the past, using its precedents to create a ritualized re-enactment utterly hollow, practically and morally. The Project for a New American Century types, who surrounded Bush absolutely loved (for all the wrong reasons imaginable) the vision of world power created by the outcome of WWII and the American policy of reconstruction in Japan and West Germany, and self-consciously hoped to repeat that result in Iraq (and elsewhere), pushing back the frontiers of American Empire into the Middle East (and central Asia).

The policy of isolation, economic sanctions and no-fly zones that had been inflicted on Iraq after the first Iraq War was regarded as a failure, and it had little to recommend it morally, and not much of an interest group lobby that I know of. It is not a policy approach that has been abandoned mind you; it’s been applied to Iran and North Korea thru subsequent years without much pushback. But, as the default status quo ante, it had few defenders with regard to Iraq.

Bush & Co. re-enacted the drama of the late 1930s, complete with Churchillian rhetoric and ultimatums. I doubt that most Americans or Europeans even recognized the source of the tropes, let alone felt much resonance from them. (It was just too long ago — just as Louis-Napoleon’s appeals to Bonapartism were too far from their sources to make much sense to most contemporaries, their vacuity a path to proto-fascism, the irony that Bush proposed his charade as justification for an unprovoked war of aggression was completely lost on his audience). The Bushite “vision” such as it was, entailed an Occupation and Reconstruction. There wasn’t much enthusiasm on the Right, but more than $18 billion was appropriated, in addition to vague plans to “use” oil revenues.

Neither the Occupation nor the Reconstruction was anything, but a catastrophe. It was in the execution of the policies of occupation and reconstruction that Bush’s Iraq policy turned to shite. The Occupation was far too undermanned to accomplish any of the tasks of pacification. For all of the loose talk of WMD, the Bush Administration showed no will or capacity for an effective policy for locating and retiring the fantastic arsenal of weaponry Saddam had accumulated — none of which remotely qualified as WMD; it was just a massive quantity of less dramatic munitions — nor of preventing the breakdown of society into the looting, and later the terror bombing. Personnel, who might have known what to do, at least in part, were shoved aside for the absurd Bremer and a Reconstruction team of Keystone Cops, recruited from the Republican base of true believers and grifters. The result was totally destructive: corrupt and stupid. And, when the blowback came, from Fallujah to ISIS, the only response from Right and the Center has been vicious Manichean bullshit, designed to erase responsibility and complicity.

I mention all of this, not as the irrelevant discursion it may appear to be, but to illustrate the simple point that a policy isn’t a binary moral choice, it is a course of action, that must be managed throughout, through time, confronting one damn thing after another, including most especially the consequences of the policy itself.

Realistic policy formation, including practically and deeply moral policy formation would favor expertise — actually knowing about the situations and careful, circumspect, responsible action and feedback. Our pundit class — whether center or right; let’s not even pretend that any liberals or socialists are allowed on teevee or on the NYT or WaPo op-ed pages — is fundamentally hostile to actual knowledge. The opinionating of a Krauthammer is premised on the notion that no one has to know anything to have an opinion — it is all about adopting the right pose, a pose that can be mimicked by those playing at home or at the water cooler in the morning at work, or on-line in relict blog comments and twitterstorms. The policy issues have to be re-framed to be empty not just of knowledge, but of any obvious place for, or requirement for knowledge.

Krautmas, I suppose, is an anniversary when we can mourn the moment when popular understanding of policy ceased to have any root appreciation that policy — actual policy — might require responsible expertise and knowledge to execute.

I do not imagine, even in my ideal universe, that I myself would have much interest in learning about the political history of Libya, Syria or Ukraine. I’m not likely to become a partisan of Israeli Zionists or Irish Republicans, memorizing a catechism and litany of grievances and justifications. That’s not the kind of expertise I’m thinking of, in any case. As a citizen, that’s not my political duty anyway. In a best case scenario, when my opinion would matter if only as a blade of grass bending in the wind together with a hundred million others, it would be as a jury’s verdict on moral values and intentions and also execution, a check on power’s corruption and self-deception.

I don’t see the Left doing that job. The moral case for blanket non-intervention, or for general pacifism, on a go/no-go basis suffers from the pundit’s disease: it seems driven by a sense that the important thing is to economize on information, while maximizing the display of moral dudgeon. People want to find the moral pose that will win the water cooler wars, or the twitterstorm, with the best comeback or slogan.

Sometimes, I think of that scene in The Princess Bride where Vizzini, played by the incomparable Wallace Shawn, opines: You only think I guessed wrong! That’s what’s so funny! I switched glasses when your back was turned! Ha ha! You fool! You fell victim to one of the classic blunders – The most famous of which is “never get involved in a land war in Asia” – . . .

I appreciate the case against wars of unprovoked aggression, but we do not live in a world of independent states, where that general principle can be spun out into a coherent philosophy. The waves of globalization that have swept the world since WWII have left no basis for imagining that the community of nations bears no responsibility for the internal affairs of individual states. If neoliberal policy has demolished the economic basis for a decent life in Libya, Syria, Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, it does neither Center nor Left credit to babble incoherently about color revolutions and Arab Springs.

If military intervention is offered as an option and the only option in response to a social collapse brought on by decades of bad policy, and the Left is left scrambling about for first principles, that might be because the Left has no idea what is going on, let alone any political leverage or influence, because it stopped having aspirations to shape the world system decades ago. If some critique of policy is to be offered, it should not, imho, be premised on economizing on decision-theoretic information; it ought to be about noting the corrupt and cruel irresponsibility driving policy from disaster to catastrophe. Simple and basic principles have a place, as a way of indicating how far actual policy has departed from any basis in good will or sense, but I would be shy of any denial that the problems are not complex and difficult, let alone the notion that total disengagement is an option.

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William Timberman 04.24.15 at 10:29 pm

RP, just so’s you’ll know, there’s a reply to you in moderation somewhere up about #96 or so. Not as specific, or as detailed as BW’s 103 above, but along roughly similar lines.

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LFC 04.24.15 at 10:32 pm

B Wilder

I would be shy of any denial that the problems are not complex and difficult, let alone the notion that total disengagement is an option.

I assume, taking out the negatives, that the net statement is: problems are complex and difficult and total disengagement is not an option. To which, as generalities go, yeah. (Not that generalities in themselves are useful except as responses to other generalities.)

If neoliberal policy has demolished the economic basis for a decent life in Libya, Syria, Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain

Might want to consider the possibility that it’s a combination of int’l forces and the flaws of the regimes in question, not just one or the other. (Tunisia is the one country that seems to have emerged from the Arab Spring upheavals somewhat improved.)

Btw, there’s an interesting article in the March 2015 ‘Perspectives on Politics’ about selective liberalizing reforms-from-above (e.g. in education) in the United Arab Emirates and their connection to the ruling elites’ personal experiences in the West. Not directly relevant to this discussion but does address some aspects of how and why an oil-rich regime in the region that was not directly challenged by the Arab Spring is embracing aspects of ‘liberalism’ without fundamentally changing the political system or relinquishing elites’ hold on power.

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LFC 04.24.15 at 10:49 pm

Wilder

I appreciate the case against wars of unprovoked aggression, but we do not live in a world of independent states, where that general principle can be spun out into a coherent philosophy.

Imo, you’re confusing two different meanings of “independence” here. States are obvs not economically ‘independent’ (self-sufficient), and w a few exceptions like N Korea they are very affected by global economic forces. But states are juridically independent, and the basic rule is still that govts can do pretty much what they want inside their countries (w/ some, inconsistently applied, exceptions).

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Rich Puchalsky 04.24.15 at 10:50 pm

BW: “I don’t see the Left doing that job. The moral case for blanket non-intervention, or for general pacifism, on a go/no-go basis suffers from the pundit’s disease: it seems driven by a sense that the important thing is to economize on information”

It’s not that we’re economizing on information: information is being economized away from us. In addition to not being in control of strategy or tactics, we also don’t take reports from ambassadors and spies. But that’s understating the case, because that was always true. What’s newly true is that it has been demonstrated that our leaders will lie us into war and that nothing bad will happen to them as a result. In game-theoretic terms, I don’t see how that allows for anything but blanket opposition to all wars of choice, insofar as public opposition still means anything.

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Asteele 04.24.15 at 11:00 pm

My view is that the American military like seemingly every other public institution has become primarily a vehicle for moving tax-payer money into the pockets of politically connected white people. Hence we can fight a war for over a decade in Afghanistan, and yet still be almost completely dependent on local translators.

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The Temporary Name 04.24.15 at 11:08 pm

It might be that the only subsidies on offer EVER will be in the paranoia-dependent industries. I try to remember that in airports as a zillion busybodies mill about: at least they have jobs.

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MD 04.24.15 at 11:26 pm

Bruce Wilder says “The (second) Iraq War was the moment when American policy lost all the moorings that tied it to something I would recognize as either practically sensible or morally defensible (let alone anything remotely in the neighborhood of my personal preferences).” and “Krautmas, I suppose, is an anniversary when we can mourn the moment when popular understanding of policy ceased to have any root appreciation that policy — actual policy — might require responsible expertise and knowledge to execute.”

I would be interested in hearing about this ??-2003 golden age when American policy was moored to something practically and/or morally defensible and when it was the now lost ‘popular understanding’ that policy requires responsible expertise and knowledge to execute.

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Val 04.25.15 at 12:10 am

Bruce Wilder – as often, your comment @ 102 is so long and heavily qualified that it’s difficult to be sure about what you are actually saying. But if – as I think – you are at least in part suggesting that the left is ineffectual because people on the left make broad morally based statements about what should and shouldn’t happen, let me take issue with that.

As someone who once, for a very short time and in a very small way, was an adviser to a (supposedly) centre left political party, I don’t think it’s the propensity of the left wing public to take moral positions that’s the problem. I think it’s more that they don’t.

The left, at least the educated white male middle class left that I think is largely represented here, doesn’t tend to take ostensibly moral positions. Indeed, some people on the other thread about refugees are deploring that possibility right now.

That vocal white male middle class left tends to be ‘realistic’, ‘pragmatic’ and so on. They will use the language of their supposed neo-liberal enemies, the language of rationality and econo-speak, quite freely, but they won’t often use the language of morality, priciple or ethics. To talk about fairness, even on CT, is to risk being derided (pace mattski, I know your position is more complex than that, but your initial response to my talk of fairness on another thread certainly looked close to derision).

That’s one of the reasons why people like me, people in politics who try to make the left take left positions, probably don’t tend to make much progress. Because we’re unrealistic, we’re bleeding hearts, we’re fairies at the bottom of the garden (especially of course if we happen to be women).

If there were public discourse – on blogs or wherever – that clearly endorsed the values of fairness, of peace and of international cooperation, people advising the so-called left parties would have a much easier job. Because when you offer policy advice to a politician, no matter how well-meaning that person, a large part of their response will always be ‘how will this wash with the voting public?”. And if, as far as they can see, the voting public (at least that section of it that engages in public discussion), even on their side, regards those values as unrealistic, then they will too.

As for the fact that my feminist critique of war seems to be ignored in this context, as so often – well the silence speaks for itself, I guess.

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Abbe Faria 04.25.15 at 1:02 am

Only three European countries invaded Iraq: Denmark, Poland and the UK. (By my count 2 left, 1 right). 11 intervened in Libya in what was a rightwing Sarkozy-Cameron-Berlusconi project. Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Spain, and the UK (By my count 3 left 8 right). You’ve got strange decisions by individual leaders – notably the UK 2003 and Spain 2011 – but I’m not sure the Left actually has that bad a record.

The main problem now is this sort of self-rightousness and fetishising of 2003 era anti-war sentiment made the world bail on Iraq earlier than was responsible, and did enormous harm. Perhaps we should be memorialising that:

“Now, Iraq is not a perfect place. It has many challenges ahead. But we’re leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq, with a representative government that was elected by its people.”

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ZM 04.25.15 at 1:10 am

Val,

“That vocal white male middle class left tends to be ‘realistic’, ‘pragmatic’ and so on. They will use the language of their supposed neo-liberal enemies, the language of rationality and econo-speak, quite freely, but they won’t often use the language of morality, priciple or ethics. “

A bit off topic, but – I am slowly reading Miles Franklin’s Some Everyday Folk And Dawn (1909) at the moment, and this was an issue at that time too. A number of suffragettes wanted women to vote according to principle not party, with Rose Scott saying in 1903 before the federal election if women voted according to their consciences not along party lines

“even upon our first election day, [we would] have done something to elevate public opinion, something to purify our political life, something to exalt our nation”

but The Sydney Morning Herald and other newspapers tried to convince women that voting according to their household’s economic interests was the right way of voting:

“The true test of politics is in the home. The touchstone is the purse.” (3/8/1904)

The introduction says the novel is a counterpoint in some ways to Anne Summer’s Damned Whores And God’s Police since the women characters are not so confined to these stereotypes and go to lots of lively meetings.

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john c. halasz 04.25.15 at 1:40 am

To the extent possible, try and figure out matters of fact and function first, then try and figure the normative implications, whether rationalizing the former or opposing. Otherwise, you might end up espousing an absurd, unmoored and self-referential idealism, which just ends up re-enforcing the status quo, taken as given, rather than trying to find a path through and beyond what might be taken as given.

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Bruce Wilder 04.25.15 at 1:42 am

RP @ 107: What’s newly true is that it has been demonstrated that our leaders will lie us into war and that nothing bad will happen to them as a result. In game-theoretic terms, I don’t see how that allows for anything but blanket opposition to all wars of choice, insofar as public opposition still means anything.

LBJ lied us into Vietnam — the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution was obtained by means of a complete fabrication. McNamara lied about the escalating cost of the War in Vietnam. Westmoreland lied about the strategic situation. Reagan’s people lied about Iran and the Contras. So, not exactly new.

But, I take your point. And, it is at the core of the Left’s impotence. It is pointless to oppose any thing, as long as you demand nothing from your leaders. You just end up with the ripe horrorshow that is Obama, babbling to yourself incoherently, “what’s the alternative?”

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Bruce Wilder 04.25.15 at 1:47 am

Abbe Faria @ 112: Perhaps we should be memorialising that: “Now, Iraq is not a perfect place. . . . “

Excuse me while I vomit.

Perhaps we should be memorializing: America used to be a free country. . . . So glad that’s over.

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Rich Puchalsky 04.25.15 at 1:54 am

Yes, I knew as soon as I hit Submit that that “newly true” bit was not, in fact, true. Let me rephrase that a bit. The lies about Vietnam didn’t have no consequence — they contributed to severe public loss of trust, protest, draft evasion, and “Vietnam Syndrome”. So they were not costless to the political elite. Iran / Contra was pretty costless to the American elite, but they at least had to apply plausible deniability and say that an underling exceeded his authority, etc. But as with torture, Bush pioneered a fresh new idiom of non denial.

Knowing that our leaders will lie, suffer no consequence from lying, and not even bother to deny that they lied after the fact, I don’t see how anyone can bother to carefully parse out justifications for war and try to not economize on information. There is no information. All we’re left with is what should be a basic sense that we should not go to war without a very good reason. There definitionally can not be a good reason, because anything that looks like a good reason may just as well be a lie.

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Bruce Wilder 04.25.15 at 2:29 am

RP @ 117:

fresh idiom — yes.

Of course, they lie about everything, and war is hardly the only policy decision entrusted.

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Bruce Wilder 04.25.15 at 3:00 am

MD @ 110: I would be interested in hearing about this ??-2003 golden age when American policy was moored . . .

I don’t think there was a golden age, ever.

I think the elder Bush’s conduct of the first Gulf War or Clinton’s policy with regard to Kosovo and Yugoslavia both showed considerable respect for reality, the limits of power, the possibility of blowback and unintended consequences, a weighing of conflicting costs and benefits, etc.

I mostly credit the immediate causes of concern as genuine and legitimate motivations of policy: in Bush’s case, the concern about the precedent of Saddam’s aggression; in Clinton’s case, concern about Yugoslavia’s disintegration metastasizing into neighboring countries.

I’m not saying either was a perfect policy, perfectly arrived at, but they seemed well-grounded enough, in comparison to the lunatic policy of ill-considered bombing and wasting that Bush II pursued in Iraq. George W Bush took “evil or stupid” to a whole ‘nother level.

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Bruce Wilder 04.25.15 at 3:09 am

Val @ 111

In my experience, it’s not so much that the Leftists have no sense of fairness, it is that they have no sense of how to focus their righteousness constructively. It isn’t that some people are idealistic and others are practical; it is that in any group, different people of Left sentiments, will choose to champion different elements and different combos of idealism and pragmatics, willy nilly. So, either you get circular arguments — a kind of argumentative conga line, in which each person talks into the next person’s posterior. Or, social norms emerge in some Left fragment, that deny inconvenient facts about political structures on the one hand, or morally inconvenient truths on the other.

When I was very young, older Left-leaning people had fairly elaborate ideas or theories of how the world worked, of what gave the political world structures, and how those structures might be usefully reformed, to make a structured world better — not a utopia, but a practical improvement. There were a variety of such theories, of course, then as now. The more socialist Left had Marx, syndicalism and some other ideas; the center-left had institutionalist ideas (some of which I sorta subscribe to), represented in America by the then rapidly fading vision of Galbraith, but with more vigor in Europe by the ordo-liberalism of the European project and the social welfare state. Foreign policy opinion in the light of day was still guided by notions about the United Nations, multilateralism, a common good realized in cooperative free-trade, and democratic institution-building, even if the “secret” underside of foreign policy was rotten thru and thru. (People should read those links mattski provides on who killed JFK and why.)

One of the most remarkable political developments during my lifetime has been the fading away of any political agenda for the center-left. I think neoliberalism is empty and foolish — almost completely a product synthesized by cynics and PR experts, in which no one but useful fools really believe — but it’s power is preserved in the face of near-complete discrediting, because centrists can conceive of “no alternative” and the Left has nothing coherent to offer. “Just say no” sometimes works out, at least as a temporary expedient and rallying cry, as in the defense of Social Security, but it’s not that effective in shaping policy in general, when the agenda is entirely in the hands of conservatives and neoliberals.

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Peter T 04.25.15 at 3:25 am

Leaving the idiot Krauthammer aside, I think not enough attention is paid to BW’s point that policy “might require responsible expertise and knowledge to execute”. Wars are about relative power, and assessing power requires careful, detailed attention to the assets, liabilities, mindsets and intentions of all the parties. Great imbalances of power tend to obscure the need for this: it is telling that the US, in the Cold War, devoted considerable resources to building up a cadre of people with good knowledge of the Russian language, politics and history and of the Soviet system. It has never, AFAICT, built up a comparable base of expertise on the Middle East (or on Southeast Asia). The default assumption has been that US power is relatively so great that local opinions did not matter.

But, of course, the locals were and are not happy with this situation, and devote their ingenuity to finding ways to circumvent, counter or render irrelevant US power. With increasing success. Iraq II and its aftermath marked a point where the shift in relative power became very obvious (although I don’t expect the US imperial system to acknowledge the shift openly for some time). To give Obama his due, I think he may have a sense that the US cannot now afford very many enemies.

I would add that the outcome of careful, detailed attention would, 90% or more of the time, result in a policy that avoided war if at all possible. This may be another reason why it is so often neglected.

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LFC 04.25.15 at 5:59 am

Peter T
it is telling that the US, in the Cold War, devoted considerable resources to building up a cadre of people with good knowledge of the Russian language, politics and history and of the Soviet system. It has never, AFAICT, built up a comparable base of expertise on the Middle East

Probably not in as focused a way; but there are M.E. experts and Arabic speakers in the State Dept (and to some extent prob. elsewhere in the govt). But the top policymakers have to call upon them and listen, and GWBush et al, in the run-up to the Iraq invasion and after, were in no mood to do that.

Deep regional expertise is very necessary but not always sufficient. It helps if it’s joined to the kinds of things that (thoughtful) ‘generalists’ sometimes know. But above all, the top policymakers have to call on and use the available expertise, whether it’s in or out of the govt. There were Southeast Asian specialists who could have been consulted in the early days of the Vietnam War; by McNamara’s retrospective testimony, they usually weren’t. In the case of Iraq, at least one or two of the top people, like R. Crocker, had regional expertise, but when the overall policy’s misguided, that usu. won’t be enough.

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Peter T 04.25.15 at 6:32 am

LFC

Fair points. My core point is that power commands respect, emulation, close inspection (as in the old joke: what do you call a seven foot black man with an axe? Sir!). When the Soviet Union was a power, it was studied. When it was not, it was fair game for a bunch of clueless twerps from the IMF.

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kidneystones 04.25.15 at 8:58 am

The fundamental fact is that the invasion of Iraq had nothing whatsoever to do with WMD. A host of real politic factors drove shaped the decision, notably how to continue sanctions, their efficacy, bringing Iraq’s oil to market, and getting US troops out of Saudi Arabia. The trigger, of course, was 9/11. Bush was in over his head from the very beginning of his tenure. Recall the Chinese forcing down a US AWAC and parading the parts, and crew, if memory serves me. When elected Bush was more an isolationist than a neocon. Unfortunately for us all, he was also a confirmed born-again Christian. Like many Americans, he regarded the 9/11 as an attack on the American way of life, which it most certainly was. However, for the born-again right this American way of life has a distinctly Christian character. The shining city on the hill and manifest destiny are not the stuff of fiction for these folks. Bush saw himself called by God like so many biblical figures before him – the unwilling warrior forced to respond to a divine command, all for some greater good.

Scary, especially when we consider that there are just as many lunatics in the Middle east who hold equally loopy beliefs. What made the volotile mix truly terrifying is America’s horrifying sense of retribution. Pause to consider how many US civilians died during WW II. Practically none. Yet, the two Democratic presidents helped obliterate millions of civilians on two continents because Germany and Japan ‘refused’ to surrender.

As Duncan Black constantly reminded us at the time: the reason for the invasion was simple, after 9/11 a whole lot of brown people were going to have to suffer and die, emphasis on the suffering part. Remember Silly Sully baying for blood for years in a state of permanent delirium. He wasn’t alone. That was the tiger Bush was riding. Kill them all.

The miracle is how few Iraqis and folks in the Middle East actually lost their lives, given America’s disproportionate sense of ‘justice.’ Did Bush lie America into Iraq? Damn right. If enraged Americans in 2003 understood what the real cost of the Iraq invasion was going to be, what percentage do you think would have said: ‘F$ck it. Nuke them all.’ Bush understood that much, to his credit. Today, Bush displays a sense of real responsibility for his actions, unlike his Dem enablers, although I expect few here are willing to acknowledge as much.

Hope and Change. How the bile rises tapping out that piece of quackery. An Australian friend, upon seeing Drone-Strike Peace Prize I Never Said That elected, observed that he hadn’t seen so many American clapping since the bombs started falling on Baghdad. It’s mind-boggling to recall how many lapped up the peace-prize rhetoric, ‘usher in a new way of doing things’ blah-blah-blah.

By 2006, I realized that if Bush didn’t exist, Dems would have had to invent him. The same goes for Krauthammer now. He’s a tool, in the purest sense. Henry brings out his little Krauthammer doll and the Moral Minority here line up to stick pins in it. Frightening stuff to say the least and more than a little pathetic.

I stand by my original comment. Henry’s post is unseemly, especially in light of the hundreds of children’s bodies being pulled this week from that ship carrying refugees fleeing the impact of our new ‘smart diplomacy.’ What do we have now? Hope and Change, drone strikes, and red-lines? If this is victory, I’d hate to see defeat.

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Rich Puchalsky 04.25.15 at 12:24 pm

kidneystones: “Did Bush lie America into Iraq? Damn right. If enraged Americans in 2003 understood what the real cost of the Iraq invasion was going to be, what percentage do you think would have said: ‘F$ck it. Nuke them all.’ Bush understood that much, to his credit. “

I guess that kidneystones ‘forgot’ that the connection between 9/11 and Iraq was fabricated too. You can hardly congratulate Bush for holding America back from nuking Iraq when the whole reason why people connected Iraq with 9/11 was a another lie that Bush had circulated.

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Rich Puchalsky 04.25.15 at 12:36 pm

BW: “Of course, they lie about everything, and war is hardly the only policy decision entrusted.”

Sure, but war lies are among the most damaging. More people die because of them than the number of people that die because of most political lies. They are the most difficult to contradict with personal experience: if a politician lies about the nature of the Syrian rebellion, I’m less likely to know anything about it than if the politician lies about the U.S. health care system. They are lies about justification rather than about policies — if a politician lies about policy, it’s probable that there is some document describing the policy that can be analyzed, while a lie that gets us into war has no contradiction except later events. Finally, they commit the whole country to a course of action due to executive branch adventurism in a way that legislative branch graft doesn’t commit us — later legislators can revoke a policy, but you can’t bring people back to life.

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Layman 04.25.15 at 1:50 pm

“Today, Bush displays a sense of real responsibility for his actions, unlike his Dem enablers, although I expect few here are willing to acknowledge as much.”

Good grief. Please offer some examples of Bush displaying a real sense of responsibility for his actions. Perhaps a speech by him denouncing his cadre of advisors? A statement repudiating the PNAC? An apology to the Iraqi people? A call for criminal proceedings against the architects of the torture regime, including himself? Anything other than words to the effect that, given another chance, he would do it all again…?

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kidneystones 04.25.15 at 2:08 pm

Hi Rich. You’re missing the point. Most Americans didn’t know or care whether Saddam had any clear link to 9/11. Brown people had to suffer and die. Get it?

In all of WWII about 2500 US civilians died. Around the same number died on 9/11. The war against Japan was all but won when the US launched 1500 fire bombings of Japanese cities in the spring of 1945 before the US dropped two atomic weapons. On the first day, U.S. warplanes dropped 2,000 tons of incendiary bombs on Tokyo over the course of the next 48 hours. Almost 16 square miles in and around the Japanese capital were incinerated, and between 80,000 and 130,000 Japanese civilians were killed in the worst single firestorm in recorded history.” That was just the first day. Many, many followed, all before the big event: mushroom clouds over Hiroshima and then Nagasaki.
Do you seriously think most Americans, Democrats and Republicans, wanted restraint in the days/months after 9/11, or kill them all? The invasion of a Iraq was a policy decision, one I strongly opposed, and an exercise in restraint given the US record of disproportionate responses. Indeed, you’ll find a number of analysts ready to argue that the Iraq war failed because it wasn’t violent enough. Carthage delenda est.

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kidneystones 04.25.15 at 2:24 pm

I can see heads are exploding at the very prospect of treating Bush/Hitler as a human being. The example would be not running away from the policy. The decision to invade Iraq was bi-partisan. It was a stupid decision and we’re living with the consequences. Making Bush the fall guy for a policy that made most American hearts sing with joy is both convenient and easy. Americans wanted blood and the world to know the cost in pain and death of attacking the bastion of freedom and democracy. You think Clinton, Biden, or Drone Strike would have offered the olive branch and not been lynched? It’s a miracle American Muslims weren’t rounded up and put into camps. Bush gets credit for that, too. Cause just about nobody would have stood up in the months after 9/11 to defend the rights of Muslims. I have no expectation that the US practice of bombing the hell out folks they don’t like is going to end. The record shows that Americans are none too fussy about the guilt or innocence of those on the receiving end of American ‘justice.’ Of course, maybe the Koch brothers traveled back in time to organize the whole mess? Could be true!

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Rich Puchalsky 04.25.15 at 2:28 pm

kidneystones: “Most Americans didn’t know or care whether Saddam had any clear link to 9/11. Brown people had to suffer and die.”

And we had already gone to war with a country, Afghanistan, that had a much more credible connection to the 9/11 attacks. If people simply needed to see others suffering and dying, they were. The whole “Bush gets credit for restraint in a war that he created” line has no connection to reality that I can see.

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Layman 04.25.15 at 2:32 pm

@ kidneystones

No examples of Bush displaying a real sense of responsibility for his actions? None?

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kidneystones 04.25.15 at 2:53 pm

@Layman. I’ve cited what I consider to the most important – namely accepting the responsibility for making the decision, rather than pulling a Pelosi. I suspect, however, that you mean ‘apologize.’ Bush didn’t invent torture, or war crimes. The US record of atrocities is long and well-documented, as is that of France, Germany, Japan, and Great Britain. I find the willingness of Bush and of Cheney to accept the responsibility for their actions, actions I consider quite wrong on just about every level, commendable and refreshing when compared with excuses, lies, blame dodging, and generally contemptible behavior of leading Democrats. Any notion that Obama would not have voted to invade Iraq had he been in office has been laid to rest. Bush has done a lot of good since he left office, just ask Bono or any of the folks involved with AIDS relief in Africa. He goes there to paint schools. He also regularly spends his free time with the people who ended up losing limbs and friends because of his decision to invade Iraq. That takes a form I don’t see often. I don’t believe he’s collected a fraction of the speaking fees of Clinton, not that he could command the same figures. When Bush was in office I wrote a lot of very unpleasant and unfair things about him. Compared to Drone Strike and HRC, Bush is a portrait of integrity. Stick a pin in your Bush doll if that makes you feel better.

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mattski 04.25.15 at 3:09 pm

Couple quick hits, hopefully more later:

Bruce @ 120

(People should read those links mattski provides on who killed JFK and why.)

Thank you, brother!

Rich @ 101

I’m too tired for this, but there’s basically one criterion for whether military action is warranted: is your country being invaded?

I hear about being too tired, believe me. But as you acknowledge, simple rules of thumb are useful but not decisive. The world is complicated.

kidneystones

The invasion of a Iraq was a policy decision, one I strongly opposed, and an exercise in restraint given the US record of disproportionate responses.

Woah. Hitting a neutral party is an exercise in restraint? I think you’re projecting a rationality on the Bush/Cheney/neo-con regime which wasn’t at all there. Bush & Co didn’t have the cojones to pursue Bin Laden as he fled to Pakistan!

LFC @ 122

But above all, the top policymakers have to call on and use the available expertise, whether it’s in or out of the govt. There were Southeast Asian specialists who could have been consulted in the early days of the Vietnam War

Yes, Edmond Gullion, for example. See here:

http://www.ctka.net/2014/JFKForeignPolicy.html

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Layman 04.25.15 at 3:17 pm

“I’ve cited what I consider to the most important – namely accepting the responsibility for making the decision, rather than pulling a Pelosi.”

I’m afraid I don’t find that compelling. To the extent that matters, Bush adopts the same position as Pelosi, that he acted on the basis of wrong information. He blames the faulty intelligence, which is to say, those responsible for producing it. As recently as last year, he has said he doesn’t regret the decision, and would clearly do the same thing again. If his position is, first, that it was not a mistake, and second, that if it was, it was someone else’s mistake, what can it possibly mean to say that he displays a real sense of responsibility?

Maybe I don’t understand what you mean about responsibility. To help me understand, give an example (any example ) of a person (any person) displaying a sense of responsibility for their actions without admitting they were a mistake or apologizing for them or otherwise engaging in some form of penance for them.

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mattski 04.25.15 at 3:31 pm

Compared to Drone Strike and HRC, Bush is a portrait of integrity.

I agree with you that voting to invade Iraq is a huge black mark on HRC. She went along with the ‘beltway winds.’ How you rank GWB ahead of her in the integrity department is a mystery to me I confess.

Did you think GWB gave plausible reasons to the nation for invading Iraq? Were the reasons he offered the nation his bona fide reasons? If not, how does that affect his integrity in your eyes? Were the reasons he offered for attempting to privatize Social Security his real reasons?

Have you looked into his evasion of military service in Vietnam? His accounts thereof? Portrait of integrity?

Hilary is no angel. But it takes balls to come to Washington and try to make changes that would improve the lives of average Americans. Her efforts in the 90’s for health care required a courage that I don’t think Bush could ever aspire to.

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Cranky Observer 04.25.15 at 3:52 pm

= = = kidneystones @ 2:24 “The decision to invade Iraq was bi-partisan. It was a stupid decision and we’re living with the consequences. Making Bush the fall guy for a policy that made most American hearts sing with joy is both convenient and easy. Americans wanted blood and the world to know the cost in pain and death of attacking the bastion of freedom and democracy. “= = =

This conveniently leaves out the 14 month campaign to convince the DC Village that attacking Iraq was good and necessary, and to market/sell the invasion to the general public. The close correlation between the people at the heart of that marketing program plus the people responsible for collecting and stovepiping the intelligence and the graduates of the Project for a New American Century (PNAC), with its infamous “stir the beehive” strategy paper, indicates that invasion of Iraq was intended or at least desired before 9/11 and the that even was simply used as an excuse.

Yes, HRC should have seen through Cheney and the PNAC gang of chickenhawk warmongers. Then again even Colin Powell now admits he was deceived and manipulated by that bunch, and if in a large-scale representative democracy we cannot trust people with Powell’s level of experience and knowledge to make sound decisions we have a serious problem that cuts across 80% of the polity.

kideystones also leaves out the vicious program of counterattack against anyone who did question the run-up to the unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Iraq, but he would probably counter that powerful members of the Democratic Party and neoliberals participated in that campaign of vilification and hippie punching and he would not be wrong in that.

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Donald johnson 04.25.15 at 3:56 pm

Kidneystone–

Most of what you say about America is standard boilerplate Chomsky-style leftism and many or most of us here agree–I do anyway and wonder who it is you imagine you are arguing with here. The weird part is the credit you give Bush, though I also agree that if he had wanted to go further and kill a great many more Iraqis, many Americans would have cheered him on. But I don’t give people credit for not being as evil as they possibly could have been.

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David Coombs 04.25.15 at 4:54 pm

Kidneystones, this is pretty much a Rovian response (in the sense of politically attacking your opponent’s strengths) to the argument that voting for a Democratic candidate like Obama or HRC is voting for a lesser evil. There are a lot of just critiques that can be made of our supposed moral imperative to vote for the lesser evil, including parsing just how much lesser that evil is. But making someone like Bush *into* the lesser evil is not one of them.

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Abbe Faria 04.25.15 at 7:25 pm

GWB was quite open about Bush Doctrine: pre-emption, democratisation, and targeting of rogue states. The problem is that wouldn’t convince anyone who didn’t already believe in the need for action – so the argument became centred around WMD, which could potentially change minds. The speech declaring war, for instance, doesn’t explicitly mention WMD.

http://edition.cnn.com/2003/US/03/19/sprj.irq.int.bush.transcript/

He also was very engaged with Iraq post-invasion, as opposed to Obama’s interest in golf, and aware of the risk of withdrawing troops – for instance in 2007:

“To begin withdrawing before our commanders tell us we are ready … would mean surrendering the future of Iraq to al Qaeda. It would mean that we’d be risking mass killings on a horrific scale. It would mean we’d allow the terrorists to establish a safe haven in Iraq to replace the one they lost in Afghanistan. It would mean increasing the probability that American troops would have to return at some later date to confront an enemy that is even more dangerous.”

He has also actively worked to get Iraqis political support in Washington against ISIS.

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/02/george-w-bush-iraq-anbar-115155.html

In contrast, Obama’s pandering to anti-war sentiment meant he refused Iraq’s request for support airstrikes against ISIS in mid-2004 which directly resulted in the conquest of NE Iraq. GWB would never have allowed ISIS to launch a ground invasion of Iraq.

GWBs post-2003 actions have been mostly admirable. The anti-war sentiment which has been nurtured by the media/leftists bitter and fixated about 2003 has had disastrous consequences for Iraq. We are turning our backs on people who we can do a lot to help.

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Cranky Observer 04.25.15 at 7:35 pm

= = = Abbe Faria 04.25.15 at 7:25 pm

GWB was quite open about Bush Doctrine: pre-emption, democratisation, and targeting of rogue states. The problem is that wouldn’t convince anyone who didn’t already believe in the need for action – so the argument became centred around WMD, which could potentially change minds.= = =

It is unusual to find neocons openly admitting W Bush lied to justify the unprovoked invasion of Iraq in support of a PNAC preemption strategy, but I’m glad Abbe Faria finally came clean about it. First steps.

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The Temporary Name 04.25.15 at 7:40 pm

GWBs post-2003 actions have been mostly admirable.

Relative restraint – relative to Saddam Hussein I guess – in bloodletting, torture and corruption is exactly what people think of as admirable.

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Cranky Observer 04.25.15 at 7:42 pm

= = = Donald johnson 04.25.15 at 3:56 pm
Kidneystone–
Most of what you say about America is standard boilerplate Chomsky-style leftism and many or most of us here agree– […]= = =

Blaming Nancy Pelosi for the colossal sin of serving as a very effective Speaker in a parliamentarian system of government [1] and applying the word “refreshing” to the most obscene acts of the neoconservative faction are tropes of the brietbart faction of the Radical Right. I suppose you could draw links between Chomsky and breitbart.com, just as Chomsky draws links between things that aren’t apparent at first glance (although in Chomsky’s case, with considerable more intellectual depth), but claiming that kidneystone speaks for “the left” (all 7 remaining members of the US left that is) and the average CT reader/commentator is pushing things a bit.

[1] and of course ignoring that even with majorities in both houses the Republican leadership has had to turn repeatedly to Pelosi and Reid for help in getting its own bills passed.

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ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© 04.25.15 at 9:54 pm

144

LFC 04.25.15 at 11:03 pm

@Abbe Faria

In contrast, Obama’s pandering to anti-war sentiment meant he refused Iraq’s request for support airstrikes against ISIS in mid-2004 [you mean mid-2014] which directly resulted in the conquest of NE Iraq. GWB would never have allowed ISIS to launch a ground invasion of Iraq.

GWBs post-2003 actions have been mostly admirable. The anti-war sentiment which has been nurtured by the media/leftists bitter and fixated about 2003 has had disastrous consequences for Iraq.

I disagree w all of this. The notion that US airstrikes in mid-2014 wd have prevented ISIS from establishing strongholds in NEIraq is v. dubious.

There is a tangled ideological/political as well as military struggle going on in this part of the Arab/Muslim world, and its outcomes are likely (v. unfortunately for those directly in the path of the violence) to take a while to work themselves out (see John Owen’s piece in current F.Affairs). The idea that US airstrikes can determine the result is erroneous.

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mattski 04.26.15 at 12:08 am

Abbe Faria,

as opposed to Obama’s interest in golf

In May of 2006 GWB was asked to name the best moment of his presidency:

http://news.sky.com/story/424543/best-bush-moment-was-catching-fish

In October or November of 2010 GWB was asked to name the worst moment of his presidency:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/11/02/george-bush-kanye-racist_n_777967.html

As you can see, this is a man whose view of Statesmanship was selfless, somber and far reaching. As opposed to Obama’s interest in golf.

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Roger Gathmann 04.26.15 at 12:24 am

af at 144: He {bush} also was very engaged with Iraq post-invasion, as opposed to Obama’s interest in golf. So you are saying that the disaster of Bush’s foreign policy could have been averted if someone had gotten him interested in golf?
An interesting counterfactual. Alas, the only sucessful thing Bush did in his entire life was cheerlead for the Rangers, which friends of his fathers arranged for him to buy a share of, so his heart was already torn away from golf.

I also like the image of Bush the resolute, who would never have allowed that ISIS to get a head start in Iraq. This is Bush the resolute who allowed al qaeda to deliver a devastating attack on the US on september 11, 2001. Perhaps you remember? The Bush who told his CIA handlers in august of 2001, when they informed him that al qaeda was going to attack the US, that they had now “covered their asses” and went back to cleaning cedar on his ranch. If only he’d learned golf, maybe he would have had a bit more time for those CIA boys. They could have played 18 holes and he could have said, my maybe I oughta tell some of my cabinet about this. Get Rice involved. Maybe the transportation secretary, heck, what with the plan to hijack planes in the Philippines that you told me we uncovered.
We will never know what we lost when Bush opted for cedar cleaning instead of golf.

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Roger Gathmann 04.26.15 at 12:56 am

The idea that Bush was showing restraint by ordering the invasion and occupation of Iraq is a new excuse that I’d never heard before. Chapeau! In fact, one could expand this. He showed brilliance in keeping US anger from getting us to war with Saudi arabia, merely due to the fact that 16 of the hijackers were Saudi and zero were Iraqi. It would have meant violating the trust of a truly democratic ally, one that has done so much for the world and that has instituted a very progressve policy when it comes to rooting out and getting rid of witchcraft.
I suppose I should expect no less of the defenders of the war in terms of sheer nonsense now, when their view is, to say the least, unpopular, than back in 2002, when they were making a 24/7 attempt at a snowjob. Since black is white, we should consider other amazing things we owe to George Bush. For instance, when Wolfowitz told the congress that the war would cost nothing, he was really prescient, knowing that it would cost more than a trillion dollars. By tying it to a zero cost he kept us from spending 2 trilliondollars on it. It was all a plan, see. The dissing of Shinseki and the invasion that was gravely understaffed from the beginning? This, too, was Bush’s way of bringing into the open are enemies… ooops, that excuse for criminal incompetence was already used back in the day.
This makes me so nostalgic, in a sick, sick way.

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David J. Littleboy 04.26.15 at 1:04 am

LFC @ 122
“But above all, the top policymakers have to call on and use the available expertise, whether it’s in or out of the govt. There were Southeast Asian specialists who could have been consulted in the early days of the Vietnam War”

But the US knew exactly what was going on in Vietnam. We refused to hold the Geneva Accord stipulated elections specifically because we knew that the nationalists would have won a smashing victory. There was no lack of knowledge as to which side had the majority support of the population.

We were on the morally wrong (by our own claimed democratic ideals) side of that fight from the very beginning, and we knew it. We decided that we preferred a corrupt military dictatorship (that made pro-western noises) to a popular nationalist government (that made communist noises). Our decision, our bad. The only thing we didn’t know was that it wasn’t possible to bomb the nationalists into submission. But that’s hubris and stupidity, not lack of knowledge.

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ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© 04.26.15 at 1:25 am

We were on the morally wrong (by our own claimed democratic ideals) side of that fight from the very beginning, and we knew it.

Same as Operation Ajax in 1953.

Same as Libya in 2011.
~

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LFC 04.26.15 at 2:49 am

@D Littleboy

Don’t think I ever thanked you for your ref. to Operation Praying Mantis on another blog comment thread. (Haven’t looked it up yet, but will.)

Re Vietnam: I agree w certain aspects of your comment (though the North Vietnamese and the NLF were both Communists and nationalists, and, w.r.t their leaders at any rate, I see no reason to pretend that they “made communist noises” only as a sort of afterthought). I do think one (not the only one, but one) of the roots of the US’s errors was what S. Hoffmann summed up, in Primacy or World Order (1978), as “the neglect of local circumstances” (p.23). I suppose that’s not exactly the same as “lack of knowledge,” but it’s related. Hubris also played a role.

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Donald johnson 04.26.15 at 2:49 am

Cranky Observer–I’m not sure what kidney stones is trying to argue. Much of it is the standard leftist claim that America has a long history of massive violence and the blame extends far past convenient scapegoats like Bush. That’s what I am referring to. I’m not going to cut and paste, as you can go back and see all the harsh criticism of America for yourself. Where it gets weird is in the attempt to give credit to Bush. So I don’t know where K stones is coming from, but he/ she apparently thinks we are going to be shocked by a criticism of America’s mass firebombing campaign in WW II.

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LFC 04.26.15 at 3:09 am

p.s. Let me recommend the entire first chapter (“The Burdens of Containment”) of Hoffmann’s Primacy or World Order. Published 37 years ago, it still repays reading, incl. by those who locate themselves, as many commenters here probably would, somewhere to the left of the author.

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mattski 04.26.15 at 2:20 pm

154

LFC 04.27.15 at 12:42 pm

@mattski
Thank you for the linked article @153.

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