Karl Gallagher (selenite) wrote,
Karl Gallagher

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Debating JFoxDavis

In a post-election post firedrake_mor said "I firmly believe that there is sufficient evidence to hound him from office for the lies that he told about WMDs and Iraqi connections to Al-Qaeda." I replied "I'll stand by the WMDs and terrorist connections, and cheerfully produce evidence for it." Over IM a few days later we discussed it.

JFoxDavis: Speaking of which, I'd like to see that evidence you mentioned. Feel free to forward links and evaluations. I'd like to see evidence that Cheney did -not- badger the CIA to come up with the conclusions that there were WMDs of immediate threat, evidence that there were WMDs where we thought they were (or elsewhere), and solid evidence that there was a connections between Hussein's -government-, not just "someone in Iraq" and Al-Qaeda. I'd also like to see any evaluations of Saudi involvement.

Selenite: Hmmm. Well, that I'm not going to have, at least on Cheney. And W was very clear on there not being an imminent threat

JFoxDavis: That's what I've been looking for -- as for W -- then why did he say, repeatedly, that there WAS an imminent threat?

Selenite: He didn't. He said there wasn't. He said he didn't want to wait for it to be one.
Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike? If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words, and all recriminations would come too late. Trusting in the sanity and restraint of Saddam Hussein is not a strategy, and it is not an option.

This one annoys me, actually. 2002 and 2003 was a constant refrain of "you shouldn't invade unless it's an imminent danger!" Then he invaded anyway saying it wasn't one. Then 2004 was all "you lied about it being imminent!" Nope.

Al Qaeda links: http://www.nationalreview.com/york/york200407230835.asp

JFoxDavis: I have the commission report as a PDF. I'm going to go take a look later.

"Saddam Hussein is a threat to America."
* President Bush, 11/3/02

"I see a significant threat to the security of the United States in Iraq."
* President Bush, 11/1/02

"There is real threat, in my judgment, a real and dangerous threat to American in Iraq in the form of Saddam Hussein."
* President Bush, 10/28/02

"The Iraqi regime is a serious and growing threat to peace."
* President Bush, 10/16/02

"There are many dangers in the world, the threat from Iraq stands alone because it gathers the most serious dangers of our age in one place. Iraq could decide on any given day to provide a biological or chemical weapon to a terrorist group or individual terrorists."
* President Bush, 10/7/02

"The Iraqi regime is a threat of unique urgency."
* President Bush, 10/2/02

"There's a grave threat in Iraq. There just is."
* President Bush, 10/2/02

"This man poses a much graver threat than anybody could have possibly imagined."
* President Bush, 9/26/02

"No terrorist state poses a greater or more immediate threat to the security of our people and the stability of the world than the regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq."
* Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, 9/19/02

"Some have argued that the nuclear threat from Iraq is not imminent - that Saddam is at least 5-7 years away from having nuclear weapons. I would not be so certain. And we should be just as concerned about the immediate threat from biological weapons. Iraq has these weapons."
* Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, 9/18/02

Selenite: So? Clinton said it was a threat. Kerry said it was one in 1998, for that matter.

JFoxDavis: So, where were the WMDs? Did the Republican Guard take them as they "melted away"?

Selenite: on WMD:
short form: he was bluffing, but wanted to rebuild after sanctions collapsed. Note that he'd convinced Clinton, France, Germany of WMD possession as well. Also a lot of trucks were running from Iraq to syria before the invasion, they may have had WMDs in them (http://cshink.com/weapons_syria.htm). And this is another place they may've wound up http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/04/27/world/main613915.shtml

Gist on WMDs: there'd been some CW, used to kill thousands. He'd done a lot of cheating on the sanctions. He hadn't proved what happened to the old stuff, it just vanished. So the cautious assumption was to bet that he had them. Hence the troops got rubber-suited for the invasion. And the UN resolutions put the burden of proof on Saddam, FWIW

JFoxDavis: Fair enough, but how were those an imminent threat to the continental US?

Selenite: They weren't. But someday they could've been handed over to terrorists and used on Israel, or Spain, or us.

JFoxDavis: Was that not one of the presented rationales for the pre-emptive strike?

Selenite: Nope. "not waiting for it be imminent" was the point of the SOTU quote above. It was something that someday could become a threat.

JFoxDavis: So could North Korea and Iran's nuclear programs, and missing materials in Russia. What did that do for nailing binLaden?

Selenite: Nothing. It was aimed at draining the swamp he was recruiting from. But tanks weren't useful for chasing him anyway. It did allow the US to take the strategic initiative, so AQ has been limited in what the can do elsewhere. Their free resources are getting diverted to Iraq. NK and Iran are threats. But Iraq was the easiest one to knock off first. We were already bombing it, after all. Plus if you want to go after Iran you want a good logistics base. Iraq's perfect for that.

JFoxDavis: I am concerned about the assertions that our actions in Iraq have actually increased AQ's membership, as our presence in Saudi Arabia originally incited Osama to be pissed at us.

Selenite: Unfortunately that can't be quantified currently.

JFoxDavis: No.

Selenite: But what's the motivation of terrorists? Part of it is thinking they can win. Beating up on Iraq removes the "look at Somalia and Lebanon, hit the Yanks and they'll run away" meme Osama was using to recruit.

JFoxDavis: Fair enough

Selenite: I've written about this before

JFoxDavis: I'm still of the mind that the immediate threat was exaggerated by the administration to get others' buy-in.

Selenite: I'm not going to defend every bit of political rhetoric. "A politician exaggerated to get his way!" provokes a "yeah--so?" response from me.

JFoxDavis: I have to say that in this case, I feel they crossed the line into fear mongering.

Selenite: Basic facts I'll talk to. Also the grounds for a decision. All the flaming, pass. Life's too short. Fear mongering is basic MO all over. cf our domestics politics discussion earlier. Don't like it, but I'm not going to get worked up about it.

That's as far as we got on the discussion in the time available. I'm not claiming the Administration was completely honest, and I'm not claiming they didn't make any mistakes. But I look at the evidence and see good reasons to believe Iraq was a threat as both a source of WMD and a supporter of terrorism. A lot of the disagreement comes down to a dispute between "if we have to do it sooner or later then let's get it over with now" and "we should avoid this as long as we can avoid it." I don't think coming down on one side versus the other of that can be an impeachable offense. But I'll be reading firedrake_mor's arguments on the other side, so we'll see if he convinces me.
Tags: iraq, politics, war
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