Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Revising History - Operation Iraqi Freedom

The people who prefer peace with genocide over taking risks for freedom have told themselves their spin about President Bush's decision to free Iraq so many times that now they believe it. Preventing Saddam Hussein from using the weapons of mass destruction he had was one of the prime reasons for the war against Saddam. And it wasn't fiction; it was based on the intelligence available. And it wasn't the only reason. Hyperactive Glen Reynolds, the Instapundit, did a review on April 14 of the broader case for freeing Iraq. OK... it required an invasion to do it.
Must've missed the 2003 State of the Union address, where Bush said: Different threats require different strategies. In Iran we continue to see a government that represses its people, pursues weapons of mass destruction and supports terror. And tonight I have a message for the brave and oppressed people of Iraq: Your enemy is not surrounding your country, your enemy is ruling your country. And the day he and his regime are removed from power will be the day of your liberation. . . .
... these remarks by President Bush to the U.N. General Assembly from 2002: The United States has no quarrel with the Iraqi people; they've suffered too long in silent captivity. Liberty for the Iraqi people is a great moral cause, and a great strategic goal. The people of Iraq deserve it; the security of all nations requires it. Free societies do not intimidate through cruelty and conquest, and open societies do not threaten the world with mass murder. The United States supports political and economic liberty in a unified Iraq.
And Bush titled it "Operation Iraqi Freedom." Remember? Reynolds has much more.


DarkSyde said...

Ron I think the problem a lot of folks like myself have with the war is that it was sold on two major premises. 1) Iraq was a threat because they had WMD's, particularly an active nuclear program, and 2) It would be an asset in fighting terrorism, although exactly how was never explicitly spelled out.
There were additional premises or implications made which turned out to be absolutely wrong, among them the idea that Iraqi's would welcome us, or that oil revenues would significantly ease the cost of invasion and reconstruction.

It's reasonable to now question the utility of this war. There is no lost chapter in Sun Tzu's "The Art of War" which counsels us to cease pursuing the known and stated primary agent of Islamic terrorism, Osama bin Laden and Aymen Al Zarouwi, and pour massive resources into a conflict with an enemy which played no part in the initial attacks-in fact it's somewhat hard to swallow that any sane individual would argue it's a good idea to take the heat off you ssworn enemy and let him regroup while you grind your own forces into hamburger.

Well we know the WMD answer. Iraq poised no threat the US. On the latter terrorism angle, the assumption seems to be that somehow, magically, creating a representative government in Iraq was going to reduce Islamic terrorism. That was always a dicey claim and one I personally never bought, but it seems that in the absence of WMDs some folks are clinging to it now more than ever.
Democracies are no more immune to terrorism than any other form of government, and one could argue that terrorists have an easier time operating in countries where they are afforded protection under due process and restrictions on government intrusiveness. Russia for example is now a democracy, but incidents of Islamic terrorism have skyrocketed nevertheless. Being democratic didn't stop home grown Islamic terrorists in Spain from linking up with external elements and bombing the Madrid train stations.

Regardless if one felt the argument that invading Iraq would reduce global Islamic terrorism was worth a shot, the empirical data so far is not encouraging. Incident of Islamic terrorism have climbed alarmingly all over the world in the last two years. I think it's a reasonable question, considering the outlay of what may well end up topping half a trillion dollars and 50,000 MIA/KIA US citizens, what exactly is a metric for measuring success or failure? Ron what could conceivably happen that give you cause to reconsider your support for this conflict? If you cannot name a single realistic criteria by which to measure success or failure, then I posit your position is not based on rational analysis, but rather emotional and ideological attachment; and if so, frankly we as a nation can't afford to humor such idiosyncrasies forever if we see no tangible benefit to our national security.

Ron said...

Major premise (3) Free Iraq from Saddam Hussein. I gave a couple of quotes. Glen Reynolds has several more.

Too bad we couldn't use the information we got in 2004 when we had to make decisions in 2002 and 03. Monday morning quarterbacks make all the right calls.
Every intelligence service in the world thought Saddam had them. Even he thought so.

"Democracies are no more immune to terrorism than any other form of government,"

Wrong. The record is there for all to see. Democracies don't fight each other and seldom start wars. If there is a counterexample there is only one. Democracies are attacked by dictators. And this democracy decided to end the genocide on his own people by Saddam Hussein. But the record is - more democracies means fewer wars. And the seedbed of terrorism in 2005 is the governments that don't allow their people any participation. Remove Iraq from that category.

"Incident of Islamic terrorism have climbed alarmingly all over the world in the last two years. "

We invited them to Iraq instead of the US. I like having them there. They went there because they know this is the Big One. If they lose there they are out for a generation. No other country has invited them in. This is it.

Criteria for Success: (1) Hussein killed thousands of his own people. The number of mass graves is huge - can't remember - hundreds of mass graves. He is out of business.

(2) Watch the chain reaction. Libya volunteered to end their nuclear weapon program. After Saddam fell.

Yesterday the army of Syria left Lebanon after 29 years occupation.

Mubarak of Egypt ordered the constitution to be changed so someone can run against him.

That is success. It wouldn't have happened if Saddam were allowed to sit in his palaces. Some people have even given Bush some credit!

DarkSyde said...

WMDs Too bad we couldn't use the information we got in 2004 when we had to make decisions in 2002 and 03. Monday morning quarterbacks make all the right calls.
Every intelligence service in the world thought Saddam had them. Even he thought so.

It's become a common myth among some that everyone agreed Iraq was a threat to the world. That's simply not the case. In fact our own people in the WH plainly said it wasn't the case prior to 9-11, ref available on request if you disagree.
Now get me wrong, I think reasonable people can differ on whether the WMD angle was an intentional deception or an honest mistake, or more likely somewhere in between, and I don't want to get bogged down in that. It was exacerbated by the WH tactic of smugly asserting their opinion was above question and sneering condescension to those who disagreed. But it could have been an honest mistake. Note that honest mistakes are still mistakes, and have consequences. If they count in a football game, they count in war. If someone made a half a trillion dollar mistake at NASA, which cost 1500 lives and injured 30,000, no matter how honest, odds are they would be fired.
You haven't been able to explain how making Iraq democracy will limit global terrorism, only a suggestion that democracies do not attack each other... terrorists operate outside the government Ron, as the residents of Oklahoma City can testify to. We're not talking about nations attacking each other, we're talking about terrorists attacking others.

I find getting rid of Saddam somewhat satisfying. But if someone came up to me and said "Hey, let's invade a state that presents no threat to us, pay for it all to the tune of half a trillion dollars, and maybe lose 30,000 KIA/WIA in the process, completely rebuild their nation, for no other reason than it's the right thing to do" ... I might go along with it if we had no other pressing concerns and if others in the world agreed to shoulder some of the burden. But that's not something I'd ever expect a respectable conservative to suggest Ron! It sounds like something a kid wearing a bandana sporting a goatee would say while he's handing out flyers to a Greenpeace Rally in the parking lot of Whole Foods! And you know damn well few in the country would have gone along with that tripe.

All the above I feel reasonable people can differ on, although it's getting harder and harder to justify the war or defend the judgment of those who got us into it Imo.

But most important is the paradigm you avoided ... The incidents of global Islamic terrorism are way up not counting Iraq or Afghanistan! OBL and crew are resting up and probably consolidating their power in Pakistan, a state that truly has WMDs including nukes. So again Ron, how do you measure success in the WoT? Specifically, what criteria do you suggest we use to measure success or failure? And what events could unfold which would give you cause to reconsider you support for the war?

Steven said...


Unfortunately, you fell for Instapundit's dishonest use of quotes as well. Go read the 2003 State of the Union. Between those paragraphs you and he quote are 18 paragraphs talking about the presence of WMD in Iraq and the danger they pose to the US and the world.

I'm not arguing that taking down Saddam was bad or that once we broke it we should have left. I am saying that the only reason for an invasion of Iraq that could have gotten the public and political support that was needed for an invasion of Iraq was WMD. If Bush thought otherwise, those 18 paragraphs in the State of Union would have talked about our obligation to free Iraqis from their brutal dictator and establish democracy in Iraq.

The real point is that it is Bush that is engaging in revisionism and his critics are not wrong for pointing that out.

Ron said...


Bush said in the 2003 State of the Union that there reasons to take out Saddam.
(1) He had used chemical weapons in the past, was developing them and intended to use them.
(2) To free the people of Iraq.

It is an honest quote to say that Bush spoke about #2. That fact that he spoke at length about #1 does not mean he didn't say #2.

True, he emphasized the WMD situation. But Just to make sure you would notice Bush named the military engagement "Operation Iraqu Freedom."

DarkSyde said...

emphasized the WMD situation

ROFL Ron! Emphasized the WMD 'situation'? Let's look at just afew of those cases of emphasis ...

Dick Cheney, mid nineties "The question in my mind is: How many additional American casualties is Saddam worth? And the answer is: Not very damned many."

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

CIA report 2/01 "We do not have any direct evidence that Iraq has used the period since Desert Fox to reconstitute its weapons of mass destruction programs."

Condoleezza Rice 4/01 "We are able to keep his [Saddam's] arms from him. His military forces have not been rebuilt."

Then, a sudden sea change ...

President Bush after 9-11 "Iraq is a threat of unique urgency ... there is no doubt the Iraqi regime continues to possess the most lethal weapons ever devised."

President, in the State of the Union Address, say that Iraq was hiding 25,000 liters of anthrax, 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin, and 500 tons of sarin, mustard, and nerve gas. President says that Iraq had attempted to purchase uranium-later specified as "yellowcake" uranium oxide from Niger-and thousands of aluminum tubes "suitable for nuclear weapons production." ""The danger to our country is grave. The danger to our country is growing. The regime is seeking a nuclear bomb, and with fissile material, could build one within a year."

Colin Powell before the UN ""Every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources. These are not assertions. What we're giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence. ... They can produce enough dry biological agent in a single month to kill thousands upon thousands of people. Saddam Hussein has never accounted for vast amounts of chemical weaponry: 550 artillery shells with mustard gas, 30,000 empty munitions, and enough precursors to increase his stockpile to as much as 500 tons of chemical agents. Our conservative estimate is that Iraq today has a stockpile of between 100 and 500 tons of chemical-weapons agent. Even the low end of 100 tons of agent would enable Saddam Hussein to cause mass casualties across more than 100 square miles of territory, an area nearly five times the size of Manhattan."

President Busht "Iraq has a growing fleet of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to disperse chemical or biological weapons across broad areas. ... [Iraq] could launch a biological or chemical attack in as little as forty-five minutes after the order is given."

President to television evangelist Pat Robertson: "Oh, we're not going to have any casualties."

President Bush "We'll find them [Weapons of Mass destruction]. It'll be a matter of time to do so."

Richard Perle 5/03 "Next year at about this time, I expect there will be a really thriving trade in the region, and we will see rapid economic development. And a year from now, I'll be very surprised if there is not some grand square in Baghdad named after President Bush."

President Bush " ... for those who say we haven't found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they're wrong, we found them."

General Myers "Given time, given the number of prisoners now that we're interrogating, I'm confident that we're going to find weapons of mass destruction."

Donald Rumsfeld "We never believed that we'd just tumble over weapons of mass destruction."

President Bush " ... of course, I want to know why we haven't found a weapon yet."

Condoleezza Rice "We never expected we were going to open garages and find them."

Donald Rumsfeld "They may have had time to destroy them, and I don't know the answer."

Richard Perle "We don't know where to look for them and we never did know where to look for them. I hope this will take less than 200 years."

Rumsfeld "You and a few other critics [reporters] are the only people I've heard use the phrase 'immediate threat [describing Iraq].' It's become a kind of folklore that that's what happened. If you have any citations, I'd like to see them."

He was dead wrong Ron. Dead ass balls to the wall wrong to the tune of three-hundred billion dollars, 20,000 KIA/WIA and counting, and the loss of the sympathy of the world in a few short months. Yes I undersatnd some feel they must cling tightly to the delusion that 'freeing the Iraqis' is what it was all about. Speak for yourself on that pal. I'm a conservative. I don't blow that kind of money and cred on a liberal pipe dream.

Now again, setting aside the liberal soundbite pleasentries concerning how worried you are for the poor down trodden people of Iraq (As opposed to the men and women in Uzbekistan or Saudi::wink wink::) how is installing a democracy going to lead to a reduction in terrorism? Spell it out Ron? And given the vastly increasing number of terrorist incidents over the last two years, at what point do you admit it's not working?

Ron said...

There is evidence that Russia helped get rid of weapons in early 2003. Top Russians were in Iraq then.

And we did find some WMD. Well, you might say they found us. For example on May 17, 2004: "BAGHDAD, Iraq — A roadside bomb containing sarin nerve agent (search) recently exploded near a U.S. military convoy, the U.S. military said Monday.

"Bush administration officials told Fox News that mustard gas (search) was also recently discovered."

Number of terrorist attacks - I read the news every day and have never seen an account that the world-wide total was increasing and you don't give a source. But my first concern is the United States. Today the Washington Post said that there is improvement.

--quote-- U.S. Sees Drop in Terrorist Threats
Al Qaeda Focusing Attacks in Iraq and Europe, Officials Say

By Dana Priest and Spencer Hsu
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, May 1, 2005; A01

Reports of credible terrorist threats against the United States are at their lowest level since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, according to U.S. intelligence officials and federal and state law enforcement authorities.

The intelligence community's daily threat assessment, developed after the terrorist attacks to keep policymakers informed, currently lists, on average, 25 to 50 percent fewer threats against domestic targets than it typically did over the past two years, said one senior counterterrorism official. -- end quote --

Don't you agree that the protecting the US is our first priority?