Skip to comments.Those seeking a 'smoking gun' had better hope they don't get it
Posted on 02/03/2003 12:44:26 PM PST by GailA
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Iraq is working hard to produce those wildcards even as we speak. Are we going to let them?
Ultimately you have to decide what course of action is going to have the highest probability of leading to a desirable result.
IMHO, doing nothing in Iraq has a zero probability of leading to a desirable result. They will continue their efforts and eventually get to the point where they cannot be dealt with without massive loss of life on both sides. It is inevitable that left to his own devices Iraq would have the bomb, and the will to use it, as they have demonstrated time and again.
On the other hand, war has a fair probability of leading to a stable post-Saddam regime in Iraq, provided it is handled carefully and thoroughly. A post-Saddam Iraq, reconstructed under US control to a US design, can be the cornerstone of a more modern, less radicalized Islamic world. Much as or former enemy Japan is now the strongest bulwark of liberal democracy in the Far East, and Germany is the democratic heart of Europe.
This will be hard work, and it will be expensive in both blood and treasure. But I don't see how we have any choice. Unless we are willing to resign ourselves to 500 years of increasing Jihadi violence, armed with ever increasingly powerful WMDs, we have to act to change the course of the Islamic world now.
The way to change the course of the Islamic world is to plant the seed of liberal democracy in the sandy soil of the Middle East, and nurture it while it grows. But before you can plant, you have to turn up the weeds that are in the field. Saddam's regime is the weed. The US Military is the harrow.
Then what are we worried about?
Secondly, please explain to the rest of us how it is Bush would have been politically or logistically prepared to launch a war in Iraq last January. I'd like to hear that one. The fact is, he is always going to have advance warning because we have to deploy, deploy, deploy in order to have enough men and material in place for a mass attack halfway around the world.
We're the world's only superpower, remember?
We had forces in place in the region, in Afghanistan, in Saudi Arabia, in Turkey...hitting him while he wasn't looking would have been much easier than it will be now. And he wouldn't have had a chance to position his WMDs for use against our troops (although that apparently doesn't worry you).
We have forces that are trained to be on the ground and mobilized with 48-96 hours. We could have had the full-scale everyone is clamoring for within a week.
One of the greatest factors in any war is surprise, and that is gone.
I would rather have a president like we have who is willing to take risks to do what is right and in our interests than one who is willing (even eager) to sign agreements with despots that aren't worth the paper they're written on just to avoid doing something potentially damagin to his precious legacy.
You mean like the useless one we are negotiating with North Korea?
I'm worried about him giving them to the fanatics like Hezbollah and Al Qaeda. They have no problem disseminating them anywhere. His generals have been duly warned not to launch any WMD. I don't think they're one and the same. Do You?
Yes, that one. Of course, President Bush is now negotiating with Pyongyang to build them some new nuke plants as long as they promise not to use them for weapons manufacture. Sounds like Sister Carter and Bubba all over again.
But the GOP lemming crowd will accept it; after all, Bush is a Republican.
You're right. Maybe thermonuclear war with China is the way to go.
No, Saddam is not a fanatic, and neither are his generals. As for the other whackos...since Saddam got them from the US, and China, and Russia, and France, and North Korea...why can't the others? Are we going after them next, or are we just concerned with the middleman?
And I don't share your lack of concern over Saddam's likelihood to use his WMD when the US invades. He's been in power for 30 years, in a rough place to stay in power for such a long time, and will not go down quietly. Since he has no real conventional forces to speak of, and he IS going to get invaded, he and his generals (all family members from what I understand) have nothing to lose by using them. We have put him in such a position where he has no choice.
Well, the threat of thermonuclear (or thermonukular if you're President of the US) war certainly kept the Soviet Union in check, until they collapsed of their own weight.
And exactly how are Seoul and Tokyo going to handle a nuclear-armed North Korea?
Maybe we want to give the Japanese nukes?! Oh yeah, that's a good idea.
If we let North Korea go nuclear, the Japanese are not going to just sit on their hands. They will not wait for nuclear protection from the US. They will build it themselves.
In the last war we took the soldiers that Iraq gave to us.
Iraq had too many conscript soldiers under arms. The war with Iran was over, and it was either use them or let them out of the army and back on the street.
Saddam's problem was that with a million former military men on the street, his lifetime would be best measured in days, not years. Most people don't realize that the preciptating event of the Somalia imbroglio was the end of the long-standing Somali/Ethiopian war, and the return of the Somali conscripts from the front. As soon as those troops hit Mog, it was over for Barre.
So what to do?
You can't just shoot them. There are some things even Saddam cannot do.
But you can have your enemies shoot them. You can line them up like bowling pins in the desert and let your enemy's tanks run over them.
Saddam had a conscript army he needed to kill. The US was happy to oblige.
But he kept the Republican Guards in reserve. These loyal troops serve him still.
Don't know. Don't much care. It's their problem not ours, and when forced to face the issue, they will do what they have to do. There is not one thing in the far east that is worth the life of a single American soldier.
I think you are awfully naive, but I hope I am proved wrong.
What would the US do then?
Fortress America it is then. Well, at least you're consistent.
Might I venture to say that a four-way nuclear-armed standoff between China, South Korea, Japan and North Korea might not be an optimal outcome?
Radioactive dust drifts even into the Fortress, don'tcha know...
But none of this has anything to do with Iraq.
You remember Iraq.
This song's about Iraq!
And we got twenty-four 8x10 color glossy photographs with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one explaining what it is...
Radioactive dust drifts even into the Fortress, don'tcha know...
Technically, in a standoff, no one fires.
Right, Iraq...what happens after Iraq? How long are American troops going to be stationed there? A month? A year? Forever? I'd put my money on the last.
And of course, we still have two-thirds of the Axis of Evil; how are we going to deal with them?
THAT's my whole problem with this (and it was my problem with Clinton's efforts in the Balkans): the goals are ill-defined, there is no exit strategy and there are only vague long-term plans. It's an open-ended war.
I don't know if I would count on that in this particular case.
It's an open-ended war.
That is unfortunate but true.
But it is open-ended war whether we fight it here or there.
If we do nothing, the Jihadis are not going to leave us alone.
So if the war must be fought, we should fight it in a way that makes sense, and in a way that can lead to a positive outcome.
Plowing the Iraq (or some other) regime under and planting a liberal democracy in the Middle East is the only way there is going to be an alternative to the current Islamo-fascist dictatorships that occupy every square inch of that part of the world (excepting Israel). Since we have a pre-standing agreement that allows us to invade Iraq, they get to go first.
Who knows. Maybe they will be the last. Maybe they will be the first domino in the chain that topples the ME dictatorships and leads to a new birth of freedom in this part of the world. I wouldn't count on it, but it could happen.
And if not, there's always Syria. Or Iran. Or Yemen. But eventually, critical mass will be reached and that part of the world will change for the better.
It's hard, brutal, bloody work. But it's not as if we have any choice. If you want to view the huge smoking crater in lower Manhattan, you can stay in my guest room.
Actually, yes he has...
Saddam murdered his son-in-law, Lt. Gen. Hussein Kamel al-Majid, who revealed Saddam's chemical and biological warfare plans in late 1995. From CNN:
Lt. Gen. Hussein Kamel al-Majid and his brother Saddam, defected to Jordan and then returned to Iraq last February (1996). They were murdered by members of Saddam's extended clan, and pronounced traitors by Saddam himself. CNN story
Now you are starting to make sense.
If I read you correctly, you are advocating ridding the world of the radical ragheads -- the Jihadists -- because, among other things, their culture and values irreconcilably clash with our (Western) culture and values. Or if we don't rid the world of them, at least keep them squashed.
That's fine. I have no problem with that. I have no love for any of them. That would be an effort with a clearly defined goal, and a quantifiable endpoint. If that's the case, drive on.
But that is not what we are doing. If that were the case, we wouldn't be screwing around with this UN inspection process BS, we wouldn't be trying to cozy up to all the other Arab nations...we would bomb until we are done. This whole nonsense of a "War on Terror" would not apply. We wouldn't be concerned with "terrorists", a bunch that includes Arabs, Irishmen, South Americans, American eco-terrorist tree-hugger sorts, a bunch of whackoes throughout the far east...an endless (and that's the problem) list of unfriendlies.
We would be concerned with Arabs, a far more finite set. And easy to identify.
This nonsense about establishing "democracy" in a region that is stuck in the 6th Century, and that cannot -- religiously, culturally or mentally-- handle anything like self-rule is doomed. So the way to do it is to eradicate the culture. Fine by me.
But we won't do that. Our leaders are tied to political correctness and the UN, and lack the cojones to break away (and I mean every leader since Woodrow Wilson, with the possible exception of Reagan, and draw no distinction in the parties).
It's funny: even those claiming to be Conservatives, and who rightly scorn the UN, are using the very processes by the very organization they scorn as the hammer. Where is the consistency?
In other words, we don't know why we are fighting, who we are fighting, or when we will be done. Kinda like Vietnam.
Another acceptable reason is to get "stuff"--oil, the water rights that Iraq controls for the region...things to increase our wealth. I would have no problem with that. But we're not doing that either.
One other reason: Israel.
"We" do recognize that. Bush does, I'm sure. You think he doesn't? Based on what, exactly? This is that haughty ignorant arrogance I keep talking about. You, to Bush, on the internet: "You don't have a plan!!!!" Laugh-out-loud funny.
War needs to be avoided for the simple reason that it has unpredictable consequences.
Quite the turnaround in the span of one message. The previous sentence contains: "I didn't say we had to predict them or plan for them all before we could start a war". But now, in this sentence, it turns out that we can't start the war after all ("war needs to be avoided") precisely because "it has unpredictable consequences".
This is exactly what I was talking about. Hate to break it to you, but all wars have unpredictable consequences. In fact all human endeavors have unpredictable consequences. That's life. Yours is an argument for never, ever starting any wars. You either don't know it or you're trying to pretend otherwise.
Boxing Saddam in with sanctions has drawbacks, but it doesn't add wildcards.
Because the sanctions work, and actually prevent him from making WMDs? Uh, Saddam possessing WMDs is a "wildcard". It's the one we'd like to avoid, thanks very much.
SOME of them were. (I already SAID this way back in an early message.) But not all of them, or, I'll warrant, even a majority.
you fail to make the distinction between the democrap leftist politicians in congress backing Clinton for political reasons and the anti-war left.
That's because the "anti-war left" (MOST of them, NOT ALL of them, okay?) also backed Clinton for political reasons. Birds of a feather. So, of course I fail to make a distinction where there is none to speak of.
I believe there were more of them against the Yugoslavian invasion than Iraq.
I believe you are wrong; we saw nothing like the recent protest in San Francisco, for example. College campuses, sure.
Also keep in mind that you are trying to mentally compare the Number Of Protests which took place during the Yugoslavia war with the Number Of Protests we have seen regarding a mere potential war with Iraq. For pete's sake, the frickin' war hasn't even started yet and we've already seen "protests" against this (nonexistent) war.
That was never the case with Yugoslavia.
Why not let's just wait till the bombs start dropping on Iraq, shall we, and then you can try to make your little comparison. At least then you'll be comparing apples to apples.
Holy cow, you've got some nerve. You made this charge a zillion messages ago, I challenged you on it, you NEVER backed it up, and you're still doing it. I guess I overestimated you.
What does this mean? Just let me know when you're ready to back down from your irresponsible statement, ok?
What proof do you want?
"Proof" of what? I just want you to admit that you can't support your irresponsible statement, which (if you were reasonably honorable) you would have by now.
If you are having trouble understanding this, then I would kindly suggest you remove your GOP blinders.
You're full of it, and I'm through with you.
Should we be concerned about the reprecussions to Israel of our actions?
P.S. I should also remind you that the lefties' problems with Albright were multiple and complex and did not boil down to simply They Disagreed With The Yugoslavia War.
In fact, most of the leftist ire directed at Albright was due to her "it's worth it" statement regarding the... sanctions against Iraq (you know, the ones which have "killed 500,000 Iraqi children"). In short, the leftist outrage against Albright may have actually had everything to do with Iraq, a lot to do with personal/psychological issues regarding her personality (and, perhaps, her looks), and in the end, very little to do with Serbia at all.
I'm sorry but I can't really chalk up the anti-Albright vitriol as a simple matter of "leftists against the Yugo war". It was much more complicated, personal, and even Iraq-related than that.
Should we? I'm personally not concerned with Israel or any country that doesn't fly the Stars and Stripes, but I've been called an extremist for these views.
I wouldn't consider it impossible that Saddam, in his last few days of shooting chem- and bio-loaded scuds at US forcees, would also lob a few at Tel Aviv. Again, he has nothing to lose.
Say it isn't so!
I would agree with you that America has to come first, but sometimes it is to our advantage to take care of problems overseas before they come back to bite us in some painful place.
The trick is to figure out which missions are worth it and which are not. To me, Iraq (and the subsequent missions) are worth it. Kosovo was not.
I've been trying to tell you that. And you keep saying that Bush has a plan to deal with unpredictable consequences which is impossible. You need to look up the definition of unpredictable.
I never said we shouldn't start wars, we just need to realize that unpredictable consequences make wars much more risky than other courses of action (e.g. boxing Saddam in, encouraging opposition, etc). You think that risk is outweighed by the benefits of successful war and nation building. I'm not too worried about the war, but I am worried about another futile exercise in nation-building similar to Bosnia. At best we might find some third party to take our place preventing civil war, but more likely we will be stuck doing that ourselves.
We certainly aren't doing nothing: sanctions, weapons material embargo, overflights, etc.
On the other hand, war has a fair probability of leading to a stable post-Saddam regime in Iraq, provided it is handled carefully and thoroughly.
Not likely IMO. Between Kurds, Shiites, Iran and Turkey, there are too many parties who will want the new state to fail for their own gain. We can try to give everyone a piece like in Bosnia, but then we will be stuck there forever keeping the peace in an artificial country. Both Japan nor Germany had single unified cultures.
don't see how we have any choice. Unless we are willing to resign ourselves to 500 years of increasing Jihadi violence, armed with ever increasingly powerful WMDs, we have to act to change the course of the Islamic world now.
History teaches us that the bad guys get all weapons sooner or later. We can't uninvent NBC weapons, but we can reduce the number of bad guys. Saddam and his supporters are bad guys, but their replacements will probably end up being worse in the long run and wars are a surefire way to create more bad guys. That is the other lesson of history: in each war we fight, we ally ourselves with guys who end up being bad guys. Bin Laden and Saddam are just two examples.
The way to change the course of the Islamic world is to plant the seed of liberal democracy in the sandy soil of the Middle East, and nurture it while it grows.
Don't think that will happen; Algeria is a good example of a more likely result.
Um, ok, then we, uh... agree.
And you keep saying that Bush has a plan to deal with unpredictable consequences which is impossible.
I don't think I said that "Bush has a plan", as much as I said that you don't know that he doesn't. Which you don't. And by "plan", I don't mean, "plan to deal with ANY AND ALL POSSIBLE UNFORESEEN CIRCUMSTANCES (asteroid falls, Second Coming, Canadian surprise attack, etc.)". I just mean "plan". I hope you understand now.
I agree with you that he does not and can not possibly have a Plan To Deal With Any And All Unforeseen Circumstances. That would be, well, impossible, and only a fool would expect him to have such a plan, or chastise him for not having such a plan, in the first place. Right?
we just need to realize that unpredictable consequences make wars much more risky than other courses of action
And just what the heck makes you think that "we" don't realize that? Sheesh, again you're back to the "if they disagree with me, they all just haven't thought about it as deeply as I have" line.
You insist Iraq has been thought about, but I hear lots of war propaganda which doesn't give me confidence in that. WMD in terrorists hands are a real potential problem. Has Saddam had contacts with terrorists? No hard evidence so far, maybe Colin will have some today. Will it turn out ok? I sincerely hope so, but I wouldn't bet on it.
No, Vietnam was not thought about at all. Nobody in the world thought about it. (What kind of fool question is this?)
Anyway, why are you changing the subject? (Iraq)
You insist Iraq has been thought about,
I'm quite sure it has. You, in your lofty position, are quite sure that it hasn't. "Bush hasn't thought about it at all!" says you, on the internet.
but I hear lots of war propaganda which doesn't give me confidence in that.
I'm sorry to hear that. Your lack of confidence is a personal issue for you to work through on your own. Good luck with that.
WMD in terrorists hands are a real potential problem. Has Saddam had contacts with terrorists? No hard evidence so far,
What you mean is, YOU HAVEN'T SEEN any hard evidence so far. As in, if they have hard evidence (which they may), they haven't sent it to Newsweek.
People keep making this mistake of thinking that they are important intelligence figures. To many people, if they haven't seen any evidence, then, why, there's no evidence! (Here's a hint: Look up the word "classified" in the dictionary.)
Will it turn out ok? I sincerely hope so, but I wouldn't bet on it.
I'll take that bet. I bet the US wins this war, you bet otherwise. Million bucks. Deal?
I have always said we would win the war but could lose in the longer run once we are tied down in the country. The military threats posed by civil war, Kurdish independence, Iran's and Turkey's possible involvement is enough to convince me that there could be very unpredictable outcomes. Not to mention Islamic takeover, chaotic uncontrolled areas that can harbor terrorists, threats to the oil supply, etc.
It "wasn't imaginable"? Sure it was. Anyway, we didn't "lose" that war.
I'm not changing the subject, just pointing out that there are consequences to going to war versus the alternatives.
Wow, thanks professor. I DIDN'T KNOW THAT!
Talk about condescending. Nobody BESIDES YOU has given this any thought. Nobody BESIDES YOU knows that there are consequences to going to war versus the alternatives. Don't you know how condescending you are being? Truly irritating; you don't even grant your opponents the common courtesy of assuming they've thought this through. If they disagree with you, they haven't thought it through - QED. That's your story and you're sticking to it, right?
Get real. Other people besides you have brains, in case you didn't know.
We could have done nothing in Vietnam and had the same result with a lot less tragedy.
I'm really not interested in discussing counterfactual alternative histories here. It really is an attempt to change the subject on your part. You do seem a little hung up about Vietnam, and perhaps that is coloring your view here, I don't know....
I have always said we would win the war but could lose in the longer run once we are tied down in the country.
I see. That's your opinion, and it's duly noted. Thanks for sharing. We'll see what happens.
... is enough to convince me that there could be very unpredictable outcomes.
Argh. OF COURSE there "could be" "unpredictable outcomes". Even the most hawkish of hawks would agree with this. After all, just exactly when is this not true? No war, no foreign policy move, and indeed no human endeavor is completely free from the possibility of unpredictable outcomes. That's life.
Again: yours ("let's not fight a war if there could be unpredictable outcomes") is an argument for never, ever fighting a war. Whether you know it or not.
I'm not being condescending, I fully admit there are good possible outcomes to war with Iraq and that there are probably lots of things I'm not aware of that would make war very urgent. But what I'm trying to point out to you in particular is it is useful to look back at the 20th century and be cautious about going to war instead of only pointing out the potential benefits of this war as you do.
I was very nervous, for example, about going to war against Yugoslavia, specifically Serbia. There was a potential for the war to destabilize the Balkans, draw in Russia, restart war between Greece and Turkey, or other possibilities. In the end we accomplished almost nothing except aiding some Islamic groups who are becoming our future enemies.
Again, I'm not trying to change the subject, just pointing out an example of how that war antagonized a potential ally, brought undesirable people into power, and still has the possibility of spilling over into Macedonia and elsewhere. The Iraq war has all those possibilities and is in a much more dangerous and critical area of the world.
And that, my friend, is the condescending part. I don't need this to be "pointed out" by you, or anyone else, thank you very much. Why, exactly, do you assume that I do? Think about it.
instead of only pointing out the potential benefits of this war as you do.
Big fat lie, right here. I most certainly do not "only" point out the potential benefits of this war. There are many potential drawbacks, and I am fully aware of that. Here's one potential drawback: a chemical or biological terrorist attack on mainland U.S. in retaliation, with thousands of lives lost. It's a possibility, and a very real one. I'm very apprehensive about it. Happy? I still think that war is necessary though. (Of course, you can't understand this part; if I support war, I simply must not be aware of any potential drawbacks whatsoever, and their existence needs to be endlessly "pointed out" to me, as if I am a child. The reason for this, of course, is that ONLY YOU have a brain. None of the rest of us do - how can we, if we disagree with you?)
[Yugoslavia history lesson deleted] Again, I'm not trying to change the subject,
Not trying to, perhaps, but you did.
just pointing out an example of how that war antagonized a potential ally, brought undesirable people into power, and still has the possibility of spilling over into Macedonia and elsewhere.
I disagreed with the Yugoslavia bombing too, for what it's worth. Happy?
The Iraq war has all those possibilities and is in a much more dangerous and critical area of the world.
I have no argument with this. Taking this and everything else into account, I still come out thinking that war is probably necessary. Ok?
Of course, you cannot conceive of that: someone who has thought about all the things you've thought about, and yet, come to a different conclusion. How can such a thing be possible? So, I'm sure you'll think of something that (you assume) I haven't "thought through", and then "point it out" to me. Looking forward to it....
I on the other hand don't see much reward in the best case: another Arab puppet dictactor or an experiment in controlled democracy instead of Saddam and his much hyped WMD programs. The worst case is that we will end up worse off with chaos leading to more terrorism and our withdrawal from the region. I gave some examples from history of bad war outcomes.
My examples don't apply directly (what you call changing the subject) because there are no direct analogies between those situations. I only use them to point out the various ways that strategies can fail in the long run. I agree that the administration has thought through tactical contingencies and has plans for them. But when a strategy fails (e.g. the Kurds decide they want a country, Iran decides to arm Shiites, Turkey turns fundamentalist, etc) we won't have military options.
The essential problem with war is that it greatly increases the chances of those outcomes because it gets people stirred up, opens old wounds, and creates opportunities for evil such as retribution against innocents which causes even more war. You call that an argument against all war but it's not. War is sometimes inevitable, we were attacked on 9/11 and went to war against the Islamic terrorists who attacked us. War against Iraq, even assuming there's a terrorist connection, is not inevitable.
You admit to substantial risks, but only tactical not strategic.
No, I certainly admit to "strategic" risks too. I admit to all risks.
I on the other hand don't see much reward in the best case:
I gave some examples from history of bad war outcomes.
That you did. Well, sort of. Yugoslavia's outcome (despite your dire warnings) cannot actually be considered "bad" at all, and even Vietnam's could be considered "good" in the larger context of the Cold War. But yes, you certainly did discuss some historical wars.
But when a strategy fails (e.g. the Kurds decide they want a country, Iran decides to arm Shiites, Turkey turns fundamentalist, etc) we won't have military options.
How do you know? Based on what do you say this? Are you privy to military leadership briefings which the rest of us are not?
You don't know jack squat about what our military is prepared to do and which contingencies they've planned for.
The essential problem with war is that it greatly increases the chances of those outcomes because it gets people stirred up, opens old wounds, and creates opportunities for evil such as retribution against innocents which causes even more war. You call that an argument against all war but it's not.
Ok fine, it's not an argument against all war. I go you one better: it's not an argument against any wars. Not this one, not any. In fact it's not even an argument at all. For anything.
War against Iraq, even assuming there's a terrorist connection, is not inevitable.
Actually, given the rhetorical and diplomatic and military buildup, I happen to think it is. But I could be wrong. We'll see. Best,