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October 07, 2004

What - Another Final Word?

The press is awash with the declaration: "THE FINAL WORD: NO WMD!"

And yet, buried farther down in the report is the exact thing we on the right have been warning about:

But Duelfer also supports Bush’s argument that Saddam remained a threat. Interviews with the toppled leader and other former Iraqi officials made clear that Saddam had not lost his ambition to pursue weapons of mass destruction and hoped to revive his weapons program if U.N. sanctions were lifted, his report said.

“What is clear is that Saddam retained his notions of use of force, and had experiences that demonstrated the utility of WMD,” Duelfer told Congress.

Here's a quote that sums up many of the reasons the left can not be trusted with power:
a top Democrat in Congress, Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, said Duelfer’s findings undercut the two main arguments for war: that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction and that he would share them with terrorists like al-Qaida.

“We did not go to war because Saddam had future intentions to obtain weapons of mass destruction,” said Levin, ranking Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee

Aaaah. Well, that crunches it, then.

Levin's wrong, of course, on many counts. The threat of WMD is little better than their existence; once you have the knowledge and the material, building a new nuke is just a matter of craftsmanship, not genius.

And there were four reasons to go to war; the WMDs, the link to terror (which existed, and existed with Al Quaeda although not in terms of cooperating on attacks - hence the 9/11 commission's "No Operational Link" quote, from which so many on the left have dropped the "operational" to create a misleadingly blanket statement - the defiance of the UN, and his human rights abuses. Any one of them was sufficient to depose Hussein; by my count, we got two completely right, and two of them halfway.

I postulated "Berg's Law of Liberal Iraq Commentary" two years ago:

No liberal commentator can simultaneously address more than one of the justifications for war; it'd make their point untenable
. I still stand by it.

Posted by Mitch at October 7, 2004 07:16 AM | TrackBack
Comments

Right on, Mitch. I have a friend who despises Bush but we can converse (he was best man at my wedding). He comes the closest to believing the Iraq War is justified when I ask him to defend the notion that Iraq was stable and harmless under Saddam. What would have happened if they'd actually managed to shoot down one of those planes in the no-fly zone? Or one had to land in Saddam's territory because of mechanical problems? Since the late 90's the only members of the Security Council still holding the line on sanctions were us and the Brits -- what if Blair lost an election to a dove? Didn't Saddam violate the cease fire agreement many, many times? If the sanctions were removed how long do you think it would be before Saddam started building WMD? and so on and so forth.
These would have been perfectly acceptable reasons for the left to support the war if the president had been Gore instead of Bush.
So we're back to Bush Hatred again.

Posted by: Terry at October 7, 2004 07:58 AM

Warflogger selective reading continues!

"Interviews with the toppled leader and other former Iraqi officials made clear that Saddam had not lost his ambition to pursue weapons of mass destruction and hoped to revive his weapons program IF U.N. SANTIONS WERE LIFTED, his report said." (empahasis mine)

Who suggested doing that?

Oh, that's right: NO ONE.

Saddam was contained and getting weaker because of the sanctions. The inspections were working, and in time would've proved what we now no: he had no weapons of mass destruction and especially no nuclear weapons program. The same report indicated his nuclear program was "decaying" not "reconstituted".

In respect to your "Law" the reason why liberal commentators hone in on WMDs is because that's how the war was sold. We would not be in Iraq today if people knew then what they know today. Even then, 40% of the people opposed the war. If we knew then what we know now, Tony Blair almost certainly wouldn't have supported us, and I doubt even Bush would've gone to war without one major ally.

Now, allow me to disprove your "Law" by taking on all four of your reasons at the same time:

1. WMDs: didn't exist, inspections would've found that and sanctions would've prevented their re

2. Link to Al Qaeda: didn't exist the way it was sold, if at all (I'm still waiting for that proof, by the way)

3. Defiance of the UN: Could've been addressed without full scale war. Besides, when are you going to advocate invading Israel for violation of long standing UN resolutions? Which other countries are we planning on invading for flouting the UN?

4. Humanitarian reasons: The one half-way decent reason for deposing any dictator. But as our efforts have shown, imposing democracy by force of arms doesn't work very well. We've taken Iraq from repression to lawless anarchy. And again, which other countries will we invade to topple dictators?

The truth is, reasons #3 and #4 only worked in conjunction with reasons #1 and #2. By themselves, #3 and #4 would've never motivated the American people to accept a war. Combined with #1 and #2, which were overblown by the Administration AT BEST, #3 and #4 became supporting arguments, not the main reasons.

Posted by: Luke Francl at October 7, 2004 10:36 AM

"IF U.N. SANTIONS WERE LIFTED, his report said." (empahasis mine)

Who suggested doing that?

Oh, that's right: NO ONE."

Huh?

The sanctions were on life support - largely due to the Oil for Graft program, which was funneling money to the people who could eventually vote to drop them completely. And when you say "NO ONE", you need to except the American left, many of whom actively attacked the sanctions' humanitarian impact (while remaining silent about Hussein's humanitarian impact, per usual...)

"Saddam was contained and getting weaker because of the sanctions. The inspections were working, and in time would've proved what we now no: he had no weapons of mass destruction and especially no nuclear weapons program. The same report indicated his nuclear program was "decaying" not "reconstituted"."

I'm not sure if you're misreading things wholesale, or just don't know any better. Nobody has said his WMD program was "reconstituted"; merely that it was capable of BEING reconstituted. All the info you need to build a bomb fits on a single CD. All the material? A couple of semis. "Decay" is irrelevant - it could be completely dismantled. All it takes is knowledge and material - and acquiring both is just a matter of time and money.

As to saying "and in time, they'd have proved" what we now know - er, sure. And in time, Marisa Tomei will see that I am, indeed, her destiny; the question is, how much time?

Remembering, of course, that either way, Hussein had immense motivation to maintain the shell game; deterring the Iranians.

"In respect to your "Law" the reason why liberal commentators hone in on WMDs is because that's how the war was sold. We would not be in Iraq today if people knew then what they know today."

And if I could just cut 20 seconds off my time in the 100 yard dash, I'd have made the Olympic team.

But we - and by that, I mean you, I, John Kerry, Bill Clinton, Nina Totenberg AND George W. Bush - had to go by what we knew *then*. Which was that he had a nuke program, that he'd used poison gas on several occasions, and that he had had a bioweapons program. Everyone knew it then.

" Even then, 40% of the people opposed the war. If we knew then what we know now, Tony Blair almost certainly wouldn't have supported us, and I doubt even Bush would've gone to war without one major ally."

Maybe, maybe not. Diverting as the question is, it's really irrelevant.

"Now, allow me to disprove your "Law" by taking on all four of your reasons at the same time:"

And I'll debunk your disproof.

"1. WMDs: didn't exist, inspections would've found that and sanctions would've prevented their re"

Hussein would have kept the inspectors guessing, as he did for most of his last decade in power; the sanctions were going to end sooner than later.

"2. Link to Al Qaeda: didn't exist the way it was sold, if at all (I'm still waiting for that proof, by the way)"

Want proof? ZARQUAWI. More later. And discounting all links BUT Al Quaeda is intellectually specious; Hamas, Jamiyat-e-Islamiya and the PLO are no better than Al Quaeda, and all recieved direct support from Hussein.

"3. Defiance of the UN: Could've been addressed without full scale war."

Really? Do tell?

"4. Humanitarian reasons: The one half-way decent reason for deposing any dictator. But as our efforts have shown, imposing democracy by force of arms doesn't work very well."

We've "shown" no such thing. Imposing democracy works fine; it doesn't mean that democracy's enemies, and those with everything to lose by democracy's imposition, won't have something to try to say about it. Which is what we're seeing now.

" We've taken Iraq from repression to lawless anarchy. "

WE did that? Hmmm.

"The truth is, reasons #3 and #4 only worked in conjunction with reasons #1 and #2. By themselves, #3 and #4 would've never motivated the American people to accept a war. Combined with #1 and #2, which were overblown by the Administration AT BEST, #3 and #4 became supporting arguments, not the main reasons"

Right. But even Bill Clinton supported both #1 and #2, to say nothing of every one of the world's intelligence services. The conclusions were all reasonable, unless you completely abjure the use of force.

Posted by: mitch at October 7, 2004 11:13 AM

Interesting that over TEN years of failed diplomacy, wishful thinking, and belief that the U.N. could (by threatening to 'gum' them to death I guess) influence anyone, especially a country who seems to have them in its pocket (or should that be pocketbook), to do anything; is held up in the same argument which expects us to rebuild, stabilize, and democratize that same country (which was ground nearly into the stone-age by its own leader) in a year!!!

If I can ask everyone to step back from the upcoming elections for a moment, I would like to point out that the GLOBAL war on terror is bigger than Afgahnistan-Iraq and that, though the bean counters don't have "enemy ears" to show for it, we are winning! I deal with this every day and, while I can't promise there will be no more attacks, I can say, with confidence, that we have significantly crippled the terrorist network and continue to do so.
If people feel "duped" by our leadership (Kerry and Edwards included) who all saw the same intelligence and decided Iraq needed thumping, they must be sadly ignorant of the Global picture which would have seen nothing less than a continued proliferation of terrorist events had we not started taking down the 'national' supporters of these 'trans-national' organizations (am I implying we're not done yet? Bingo. Any leader that would broadcast the fact that we are, is a pinhead). If, on the other hand, people are saying they were "duped" knowing full well that extreme measures were required to halt further emboldenment of these global jackals, it is sad that we put our country's safety behind political expedience.

Posted by: fingers at October 7, 2004 11:25 AM

Administration figures said Saddam had an active and accelerating nuclear weapons program:

"And we believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons."

-- Dick Cheney on Meet the Press, March 16, 2003 (He meant "nuclear weapons programs").

Zarquawi was NOT in a Saddam-controlled area; his camp was in northern Iraq. The Bush administration repeatedly turned down missions to bomb that camp because it diminished the case for war. See http://slacktivist.typepad.com/slacktivist/2004/10/where_in_the_wo.html for more on that.

The terrorists that Saddam supported, via stipends for "martyrs" did not threaten the US. And Saudi Arabia was a much bigger source of funds for the "martyrs". It was a specious reason for war.

Bush blew Iraq.

He had Saddam bending over to agree to the inspectors demands because Bush put troops on his border. A brilliant move to get Saddam to comply with the inspections regime he'd flouted.

Then, when the inspections were working, Bush attacked. Look, many thought Saddam had these weapons. Instead of taking us to war, Bush had a chance to find out if it was true. He decided to rush to war instead.

Posted by: Luke Francl at October 7, 2004 12:04 PM

The left (Mr. Fanci?) needs to answer one simply question, HONESTLY: If Al Gore had been president and had done precisely what Bush has done, would they still be opposed? With a couple of drinks in 'em 90% would say no, they would have supported him. They would have said that Gore had liberated a country from a demon that the right helped create and that Bush 41 incorrectly left in power. (I would dispute both claims, but that's what they would have said.) It's all about Bush. Bush is a moron. Bush is a religous zealot. Bush is all about oil. Therefore everything Bush does is stupid, a crusade, and all about oil.
I'm sick of it, and this is why the left lost me 3 years ago: They would rather hammer on the right than do the Right thing. The new WMD report and the spin & reaction is just another case in point.
It is 2001/2002/2003. You are president. Every intelligence agency in the world believes Saddam has WMDs in defiance of UN mandates. Remember: he only needs to have a very small amount of something such as chemical weapons in a country the size of California in order to inflict massive damage. You know he has links to terror. Richard Clark, darling of the left, said that following the invasion of Afghanistan al Qaeda would likely 'boogie to Baghdad.' He is one of the most likely sources of WMD for terrorists. You know that under the Oil for Food scam he is getting richer and stronger, not weaker. You know that old Europe is hoping for an end to sanctions (and telling falsehoods, echoed by CNN in order to maintain their exclusive broadcase rights in Baghdad, about 500,000 children dying every year due to sanctions) so that they can consummate sweetheart oil deals that will make Saddam richer and stronger. You know that the only way to truly defeat Islamofacism (which is what we are fighting, not just al Qaeda) is to establish democracies within the Arab/Muslim world.
Now, what do you do?
a) Nothing, hoping to God that the WMD everything believes he has somehow, some way don't find their way into the hands of terrorists in into a major US city? Meanwhile hoping to God that the UN (an organization that couldn't stop a genocide or the building of a nuclear weapon in their own freaking lobby, let alone Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Rwanda, etc.) inspections will give the world 100% confidence that Saddam has no weapons?
b) Take him out.
If you are 1) sane, 2) responsible and 3) every politician from Clinton to Gore to Kerry to Edwards, you would have chosen b.
But how?
In retrospect I wish Bush would have said, "Screw the UN. If he has one vial of ricin it could kill thousands of our people. If he doesn't have it now, he will. He's got to go, we'll do it ourselves, and we'll do it right."
But Bush would have been crucified. So he decided to do things the "right" way, which means the UN. It meant emphasizing the WMD angle, which was only one of the several legitimate reasons for the invasion. It meant relying on intelligence, which is always risky when precision is required. It meant a potential trap: If no WMDs were found (after months of diplomatic wrangling that allowed Saddam to stash any stockpiles anywhere in Syria, the sand, etc.) your "sole reason" for going to war would be undermined.
Bush did the right thing by invading Iraq. It was the responsible thing to do.
Here's what pisses me off: The democrats know this. All of the prominent dem's have talked for years about what a threat Saddam was, and most advocated regime change (which was at one time called The Clinton Doctrine).
The flip side: What if Bush hadn't invaded Iraq? What if three years later Saddam was still playing UN weapons inspectors like a violin? Bush would be getting hammered for being weak on terrorism, and we'd be living in daily, mortal fear of his weapons in the wrong (his) hands.
The hypocricy of the left on this issue is sickening. So sickening I left the party. For good.
They are using the issue to score cheap political points at the expense of countless lives. It's shameful beyond words.
As Zell Miller said, where are statesmen like Wendell Wilkie today? He wouldn't have used the WMD report to score cheap points. The report vindicates Bush.

Posted by: chris at October 7, 2004 12:09 PM

I'm puzzled. It is claimed that there was no need to go to war because sanctions would have worked if "we would have just given them more time." At the same time those voices blame the US for the "500,000 dead Iraqi children" the sanctions supposedly caused.

Posted by: Bobby Ray at October 7, 2004 12:20 PM

I believe that is called 'having your cake and eating it too.'

Posted by: fingers at October 7, 2004 01:41 PM

I believe Bobby is conflating the pacifist left with the anti-Iraq War and responsible foreign policy people.

Here's a clue: Edwards and Kerry (along with virtually every other foreign policy professional) are in the second camp. The pacifist left has no power.

Posted by: Luke Francl at October 7, 2004 01:50 PM

Responsible foreign policy professionals? No, No, No, and again NO!!!
Responsible foreign policy professionals do not:
1) Vote against Gulf War '91 (Kerry).
2) Spend the rest of the 90's talking about what a terrible threat Saddam is and advocate preemptive regime change (Kerry).
3) Call Saddam an imminent threat, the greatest threat (Edwards).
3) Vote to authorize the war. Run as hawkish dem's. Trash fellow candidates who disagree. (Kerry and Edwards).
4) Get behind in the polls, decide to be anti-war. (Kerry and Edwards)
5) Vote against the bill to properly fund the operation. (Ditto)
6) Trash the president for not involving countries that are being bribed by Saddam, and who would never help no matter who was president.
7) Trash the countries and the brave people of Iraq who are helping, and call the Iraqi prime minister a puppet (yes, Lockhart did this but Kerry didn't denounce the statement and basically said the same thing).
8) Call it the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time when our brave men and women are on the ground fighting an insurgency whose only hope of victory is for America to lose its will and elect some jerk who calls it the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Foreign policy professionals do not support the war up until the time it is fought and then say it shouldn't have been fought, that it's a diversion. It's craven and sick. It literally gives aid and comfort to our enemies, it literally gets our people killed by encouraging the enemy.
You can be a principled critic of the administration. Paul Wellstone would have been. He was responsible and ethical, as much as I disagreed with him. He was a man of good faith and integrity. This is not the case with the Johns.
Kerry and Edwards BELIEVE (insomuch as the seem to believe anything) that the war was the right thing to do. Now they would rather be in the White House than achieve victory (the only logical conclusion I can draw from their change of heart from pro- to anti- and their willingness to embrace a position that strengthens the enemy).

I still say:
1) If Gore had been president he would have done the same thing, and the left would have been behind him
2) If Bush had not invaded Iraq, he would be getting blasted by Kerry for putting the U.S. at risk -- and rightfully so.

Kerry and Edwards are not responsible. They are taking the only position Kerry once said that government, in good conscience, can never take: They are asking a man to be the last man to die for a mistake.

It is not a mistake. They once thought so too before ambition got the better of them.

Posted by: chris at October 7, 2004 02:33 PM

Even if Gore had done what Bush did (which I doubt -- he would've focused on GETTING AL ADAEDA!), Gore would've have been surrounded by incompetent neocon ideologues with no plan to win the peace, rebuild the country, or secure an exit strategy.

Actually, before the war, The Economist (which was for the war, at least then) had an amusing article about the alternative present where Gore was president and had done much the same as Bush had done, to great acclaim.

Posted by: Luke Francl at October 7, 2004 02:39 PM

Luke,

Precisely. Myopic focus on GETTING AL QUAEDA is exactly the problem on the left - as if putting Bin Laden on a slab will even *affect* the larger war, in and of itself. Focusing on GETTING AL QUAEDA is cripplingly short-sighted.

Yet another reason the Democrats really shouldn't be allowed near power.

Posted by: mitch at October 7, 2004 03:00 PM

Yes, why bother attacking the people who attacked us. Let's get the guy who didn't!

Notice I didn't say "get bin Laden" -- though surely, if he is still alive, no effort should be spared to bring him to justice. I said "Al Qaeda". Al Qaeda and its spinnoffs are the threat to us.

Terrorists with nuclear weapons, as Kerry said in the debate, is the nightmare senario. With Bush's terrible record on controlling nuclear proliferation, it's time to get the grown ups back in charge.

Posted by: Luke Francl at October 7, 2004 04:15 PM

Mitch your point is absolutely correct and I would like to add:

"Exit Strategy" was a buzz word post Vietnam that was used by DOD to appease waffley politicians (and remember many senior military leaders are very political themselves--Clarke, McPeak to name two that were very much so while in uniform) who could only remember the difficulties faced by our drafted-Armed Forces.

Frankly, it is (and this is the reason the professional military no longer uses it) a defeatest term that implies to ones enemies that we will cut-and-run when the going gets tough. I know the original concept to the military was a point where expected gain was outweighed by probable risk. However, and I truly believe that, enough of our political leaders would gladly move to calling for the 'exit strategy' the minute the political winds of their district indicated a shift. (Somewhat like the way the stock market gains and loses on the most bizarre of circumstances) There is only one acceptable 'exit strategy' and that is victory (granted, victory may be defined as many things short of "all the enemy are dead"). Everything else is merely a branch or a sequel on the road to victory. I know this will set off all the intellectual alarms out there, but in the war on terror, the only exit strategy is VICTORY.

Posted by: fingers at October 7, 2004 04:33 PM

Wow, good stuff here. I am going to send this exchange out to people who need some clue about things...it spells out the right and left positions very well. Left loses, BTW.....

Posted by: Colleen at October 7, 2004 04:34 PM

"HONESTLY: If Al Gore had been president and had done precisely what Bush has done, would they still be opposed?"

If Al Gore had lied his way into war, then yes, I would've turned on Al Gore long ago. I'd be voting cheerfully for John McCain right now, and probably working for him to boot.

Turn it around: if Al Gore had been president and had done precisely what Bush has done, would you still be in support?

I doubt it.

Posted by: Jeff Fecke at October 7, 2004 08:34 PM

Jeff,

Yes. If Al Gore were president and had done exactly what President Bush did I, and damn near everyone I know, would have supported him. Why? Because we understand that sometimes a good hard smack in the face is what it takes to stop someone (in this case 'the trans-national terrorist') from hurting you even if you are bigger and can take it. In this case we tore off the terrorists head (Taliban) and 'punched' his supporting buddy in the breadbasket!

Posted by: fingers at October 7, 2004 08:43 PM

Oh, and for what it's worth--my post today is the second time I've "violated" Berg's Law. Sorry, Mitch.

Posted by: Jeff Fecke at October 7, 2004 10:16 PM

Bear with me, I do have a point. By the time Lance Armstrong was diagnosed with testicular cancer, it had already spread to his lungs and his brain. The brain lesions were removed by surgery, the rest attacked with chemotherapy. Doing one or the other would not have successfully treated the disease. Armstrong had been sick for a long time, but in denial. It took a fit of coughing up metallic tasting blood to get him to the doctor for diagnosis.
Pan Islamic Fascism & Terrorism is a cancer that was in an advanced stage before it was diagnosed and addressed. The symptoms were there but we treated them singly and half-heartedly, hoping they would go away. It took the disaster of 9/11 for us to fully understand the scope of the disease.
Al Qaeda is like the lesions on Armstrong's brain - a potentially deadly part of the disease, but not source of the disease. Invading Afghanistan was like surgery on those lesions; it was necessary in order to win the war, but is not the only part of winning the war. Indeed focusing only on al Qaeda ignores the cause of the cancer, the original mutation: the death cult of Islamic fascism. Focusing only on al Qaeda does nothing to cure the cancer elsewhere, and nothing to prevent its return.
Invading Iraq is a critical part of the chemotherapy treatment needed to thoroughly defeat the disease. Iraq was clearly a mutation capable of infecting surrounding cells and transporting cancer cells throughout the body (it only takes one mutated cell to start a new tumor somewhere in the body).
In chemotherapy the patient of feels worse before he feels better. But he'll never get completely better without it.

Focusing only on al Qaeda ignores the scope of the threat and is only one part of making us safer. Al Qaeda is not the cause of the disease, it is one of many manifestations. Eliminate al Qaeda only and the disease simply spreads elsewhere.

Other points: Bush did not lie. One vial of ricin in Saddam's hands could have killed thousands. He harbored known terrorists. Richard Clark believed Zarqawi and others would boogie to Baghdad after the topping of the Taliban. It would have been recklessly irresponsible NOT to attack Iraq and topple Saddam. I believe Gore would have done it; if not he would rightly have been blasted by John McCain or any other Rep. candidate for putting our security in the hands of the corrupt/bribed UN.
Bush's only mistake was going to the UN in the first place, which forced him to emphasize the WMD intelligence while de-emphasizing the other equally valid reasons for invasion. No one at the UN believed Saddam didn't have WMD, they just wanted more time for inspections so they could continue getting their Oil For Food bribes.

The invasion of Iraq has eliminated the threat of Libyan WMDs (which unlike Iraq were in a much more advanced state of development than most world intelligence agencies thought), and has served notice to the rest of the world about the high cost of state sponsored terrorism.

Bush has a poor record on nuclear profileration? Please. Clinton gave millions to N. Korea while they were happily developing their nuke program right under our nose. Bush has:
1) Eliminated Saddam so he can't pursue the WMD program that the new report said would take him just 'months' to reconstitute upon the lifting of sanctions.
2) Taken WMDs out of Qaddafi's hands.
3) Shut down the rogue Nukes R Us bazaar under Khan in Pakistan.
4) Embarked in a far more promising and realistic multi-lateral approach to N. Korea (and given Kimmy an idea of what happens to state sponsors of terrorism).
5) 35 million people, half (presumably, unless a higher proportion were stoned to death or killed by Saddam's sons) of them women are living with a degree of freedom unimaginable a few years ago. They understand that liberty is worth fighting for, even if many Americans have forgotten.
Not a bad 4 years work.

The grown ups are in the White House. The opportunistic, un-statesmanlike and morally bankrupt kids are trying to beat them. It must not happen.

Posted by: chris at October 8, 2004 03:27 AM
hi