77 thoughts on “Hilzoy’s 10 Lessons From Iraq”

  1. _”For every case like Munich, in which failing to confront a dictator more forcefully led to disaster, there is a Cuban Missile Crisis, in which a leader’s unwillingness to make the most hawkish response to a dictator’s provocation averted disaster.”_

    Is the lesson of Munich really that every provocation must be confronted with the most hawkish response? I’d say the Cuban Missile Crisis is anything but a good counterexample- it was very hawkish and tough by all accounts while being sane.

    Regardless, as admirable as it is to figure out our mistakes (myriad), that shouldnt be confused with figuring out what to do going forwards. One thing doesnt necessarilly have much to do with the other.

    Timothy Ash in particular should be scolded for incoherance. I tend to think this is the position Democrats are evolving to- that withdrawing is a disaster, but that we are going to do it anyway. And then blame the American people for insisting on it. Now there’s a new definition of Leadership- ‘hey, we know The People are demanding a disasterous course of action, but who are we to suggest differently?’

  2. Regardless of the details of Munich and the Cuban Missile Crisis, isn’t it true that for each case history where we lose by failing to confront an enemy forcefully enough, there’s one where we lose by confronting too forcefully?

    We propped up the USSR by decades of unremitting hostility. It was our threat that got them public support despite their excessive military spending, permanent draft, secrecy, closed borders, beriozka shops, etc. The doctrine of peaceful coexistence did a lot more toward their collapse than Reagan’s renewed threats.

    Similarly, our hostility to the cuban regime has kept them in power. Without our threats they would have a harder time suppressing opposition parties with alternate policies. When we do economic warfare we are their *excuse* for their economic failures.

  3. J Thomas, that’s an interesting revisionist view of the Cold War. I just finished Gaddis’ book on it which doesn’t agree too closely with your views – can you offer some support for them?

    A.L.

  4. Maybe but that doesnt account for all the regimes we arent opposing that manage their grip quite nicely- Egypt, Jordan, SA, China. In general i suspect we are simply overestimating our ability to affect regimes short of violent overthrow- which as we have learned is more equivalent to reshuffling the deck than installing our preferrence.

    Seems to me to be one of those intractible problems that historical examples tend to harm more than help by instilling confidence in a course that is probably undeserved (a black swan waiting to happen). Ive come to think historical analogies are extremely dangerous things. Because something happens once doesnt mean there is a reason for it we can understand or break down, much less replicate. Causality and history are a dangerous combination, and geopolitics seems MUCH more subject to postdiction than prediction, no matter how much data we assemble and analyze.

  5. I am conservative. I think that this article points out what any true conservative feels about the American Foreign Policy under this administration, i.e., it was hijacked by a particularly arrogant, ignorant, ill-informed, and dangerous clique called the Neo-Cons.

    It will take 20 years and we could reap tens of millions of lives to correct what these fools have sown. All of this was foreseeable. All of this was foreseen. These imperious and clueless fools dressed U.S. foreign policy up in Imperial Purple, a fact that infuriates me every time I think about it and led the country into possible the greatest foreign policy blunder we have ever committed.

    The Snowcroft policy analysis was completely correct as was the Sinsheki military analysis. Instead of listening to these men of substance, the Adminsitration chose to follow the simplistic visions and policies of know-nothing posers and bullies like Cheney and Rumsfeld and their sycophants. It makes my blood boil.

  6. TOC, I’ll strongly disagree with you as well – the ‘establishment’ thinking in Washington has been failing us for 30 years; Gaddis also talks about that – hmmm…maybe there’s a post there.

    A.L.

  7. Mark, you have a good point there. I tend to believe that our opposition tends to help autocratic regimes far more than our support does, but still we support egypt, jordan, and saudi arabia and that support hasn’t destroyed any of them yet.

    Our support for the Shah clearly hurt him, but he got a lot of credit in iraq for the 1973 oil embargo, where he hurt us badly and got a lot of money for it, and we couldn’t do anything back to him. He didn’t fall until 1979.

    Duvalier, Somoza, Batista, etc survived our support for quite a long time.

    For that matter, the Vichy regime in france and the Quisling regime in norway both survived quite awhile with little popular support, as collaborationist puppets for the nazis. I suppose part of the reason no one bothered to overthrow them was that the result would only be further nazi attacks.

    So people vary a lot in their reaction to puppet governments perceived to be controlled by foreigners. sometimes they oppose them and sometimes they just wait. But governments with strong foreign enemies tend to get a lot more support. The USSR was pretty divided — people still running around afraid of purges — when the nazis attacked. Suddenly people were joining the communist party who never would have before, and a whole lot of patriots supported the government because however bad it was, the nazis were worse.

    So — while it’s predictable that governments or political parties that appear to be puppets of foreigners tend not to do well, and governments that have imminent threats from foreign governments do tend to get support, this isn’t principle you can depend on every time. It depends on additional circumstances and a simple application of the rule is not reliable.

  8. bq. _Before we went to war, there were people who were trying to shut debate down by marginalizing or slandering or, in some cases, threatening those who disagreed with them. (Dixie Chicks, anyone?) This is, of course, a hateful thing to do to those people. But it should now be obvious that it is also a profound disservice to our country. We would have been a lot better off if we had stayed true to our ideals of open debate and free speech._

    Give me a break. The Dixie Chicks? Is that how history is to be written? “After the Dixie Chicks said they were ashamed of the President, a pall of fear fell over the Nation. Comics stopped making fun of the President. Michael Moore registered as a Republican. The blogosphere bussied itself with catblogging . . ..”

    Debate was and is available for those with a taste for it. I would say any unmet expectations arise from two circumstances: (1) Many Democratic leaders, including the previous administration, had made statements and taken policy positions regarding Iraq that did not make them ideal counterpoints to the President’s case; (2) One of the most important issues, the extent of Iraq’s unreported WMD, was not one which lay people could readily debate.

  9. #6 from Armed Liberal at 7:38 pm on Jul 25, 2007

    TOC, I’ll strongly disagree with you as well – the ‘establishment’ thinking in Washington has been failing us for 30 years; Gaddis also talks about that – hmmm…maybe there’s a post there.
    ********************************

    How do you take my post and come up with a reply like this. I didn’t mention “establishment thinking”, whatever YOU mean by that.

    I spoke about a completely idiotic policy promulgated by a clique aptly described in point number 5 in the article and then I refer to Snowcroft and Shinseki.

    (5) Beware of movements built on contempt. Many of the people who pushed for war had spent decades expressing their contempt for what you might call standard foreign policy — the kind in which diplomacy is taken to be a useful instrument, not a snare for the weak-minded, and force is a last resort, not an all-purpose tool. Their own views had never been seriously tested (and no, Reagan doesn’t count), and many of their spokesmen lacked any serious experience conducting foreign policy. Sometimes, groups of people who spend years muttering about how different things would be if they were in charge are right. Often, however, they are not. Absent a real track record on which to evaluate them, they should be approached with caution.

    So you comment doesn’t seem to make any sense in terms of my post nor the paragraph I quoted that appears in the article.

    I also have no idea what you mean fy things being done badly for the lat 30 years in FP. Is this meant to be the Carter/ Reagan/Bush 1/Clinton foreign policy? If it does, it is such a scattershot definition, it has no meaning. I would expect better from you.

  10. _Beware of movements built on contempt._

    Is Hilzoy practicing what he preaches here? Reasoned discourse; open debate; not treating people with whom one disagrees with contempt?

    I would say no. I would say Hilzoy is engaged in the activity he preaches against earlier.

  11. #8 from PD Shaw at 8:49 pm on Jul 25, 2007

    First, I agree with you about the Dixie Chicks.

    Secondly, I really don’t care about what the Democrats did and I don’t think their actions are that relevant in terms the blunder committed by this administration’s blunder in going to war in Iraq.

    I expect Republicans to be more circumspect, sober and deliberate. They not only failed in this miserably, but fell for a weak minded and wrong-headed argument from the Neo-Cons as a basis for going to War. I expect more than that from Republicans.

    Thirdly,

    “(2) One of the most important issues, the extent of Iraq’s unreported WMD, was not one which lay people could readily debate.”

    This may or may not be true, but I am always skeptical of it. It is incumbent upon our leaders to present debates in a form in which the citizenry can understand. I think that our leadership not only failed miserably in this regard, but compounded that failure by presenting a pitifully weak case to the United Nations that Powell delivered.

  12. #10 from PD Shaw at 9:39 pm on Jul 25, 2007

    Beware of movements built on contempt.

    Is Hilzoy practicing what he preaches here? Reasoned discourse; open debate; not treating people with whom one disagrees with contempt?

    I would say no. I would say Hilzoy is engaged in the activity he preaches against earlier.
    _________________________________________________________________

    No, he isn’t. But his point in relation to the disdain and contempt shown by the Neo-Cons to anyone that might question their ideas, was palpable throughout the build up to war.

    I remember asking myself, “Who the hell do these guys think they are? They turned out to be a paticulatly inept strain of Jacobins. But we still might have to suffer through a Terror of widespread Middle Eastern War that they have engendered.

  13. _Was Hilzoy practicing what he preaches here?_

    I have read what Hilzoy writes for some time now, and I say that yes, she does with good consistency practice what she preaches.

    This week was the first time I noticed her treating any third party with marked disrespect.

    About Jonah Goldberg:

    bq. This is deviant brilliance: every bit as much a classic as Bill Kristol’s recent attempt to divine the future by sticking his head up his ass and reading his own entrails. Only someone who had shaken off the tyranny of rational thought and fearlessly cut himself loose from the tentacles of his intellectual conscience could write lines like ….

    The links really do deserve that response, though. The particular pundits were behaving contemptibly, in ways that no reasonable person should respect.

  14. TOC: I had thought about writing an alterntaive point (1) in your honor:

    (1) The President had adopted a liberal foreign policy and the conservatives in his party were unwilling to stand up to voice an opposing policy.

    As to the second point, I don’t want to re-argue the war. I’m simply saying that as far as public policy debates, we can get into a robust debate about medical care because it involve issues that we all have some deep personal knowledge. Whether Saddam was hiding WMDs involves facts on the ground in a foreign country, derived from confidential sources. I think Hilzoy is “overselling” the expectations of debate, particularly in light of the first point.

  15. _I have read what Hilzoy writes for some time now, and I say that yes, *she* does with good consistency practice what she preaches._

    Oops, didn’t realize he was a she. My apologies.

    Her point five doesn’t follow point three. Civil discourse for me, but not for thee.

  16. #14 from PD Shaw at 9:59 pm on Jul 25, 2007

    TOC: I had thought about writing an alterntaive point (1) in your honor:

    (1) The President had adopted a liberal foreign policy and the conservatives in his party were unwilling to stand up to voice an opposing policy.

    As to the second point, I don’t want to re-argue the war. I’m simply saying that as far as public policy debates, we can get into a robust debate about medical care because it involve issues that we all have some deep personal knowledge. Whether Saddam was hiding WMDs involves facts on the ground in a foreign country, derived from confidential sources. I think Hilzoy is “overselling” the expectations of debate, particularly in light of the first point.

    If I read you correctly, then, Fair Enough.

  17. I’d also like to address how Hilzoy depicted both the opposition to the war (such as it was) and the pro-war approach to selling the war.

    This is the area that I really disagree with him in particular. First of all, the opposition seemed to be the only ones trotting out the ‘nonpatriotic card’, mainly to claim it was being aimed at them. Rarely if ever was this done, and certainly not by legitimate leaders of the party. Arguing that someone’s policy and tendencies are dangerous or foolish is not equivalent to attacking their patriotism. I think this was less of a red herring than a legitimate sore spot for a lot of Democrats. Thou dost protest too much.

    Secondly, I really feel that Congressional oversight, and opposition leadership in particular was horrifically lazy in the run up to the war. Protestations to the contrary, Congressional leaders have remarkable power over and access to intelligence and analysis of intelligence. Claiming to be misled by the President is essentially hiding from the ‘couldnt be bothered to research the subject’ charge by embracing the ‘im a gullible moron who couldnt bother to research the intelligence’ stance. Obviously this only applies to the leaders on the intelligence committies, but they also bear the responsibility for not being able to provide leadership to the rest of their caucus by being the experts they are supposed to be.

    I really dont feel that Republicans being effective at backing Dems into a political corner that they were too cowardly to plant an unpopular flag and break out of is somehow underhanded. Thats what politics is. If you believe strongly in a course, you _should_ be trying to get the opposition to either agree with you or showcase their different opinion.

    Dems tried to have their cake and eat it too and ended up with a belly ache. I at least respect a guy like Kucinich who is consistant and not afraid to embrace an unpopular policy. When was the last time a Democratic leader took an unpopular stance on something important, particularly in foriegn policy? This windsock business is not good for anyone involved.

  18. PD Shaw, Hilzoy’s #3 says to allow free speech.

    Hilzoy’s #5 says to be cautious about radical strategies promoted by people who have no track record, who’re contemptuous of other experts.

    I don’t see a contradiction here. She isn’t saying to censor them, she’s saying to be cautious about them.

    About the WMDs, I tended to trust the media. The media reported that CIA guys they trusted were saying the evidence for iraqi WMDs was not good quality. I trusted the media to know whether their secret sources were really CIA guys who’d know what they were talking about, or not. Were the CIA guys lying? What would it get them to leak lies about that? I was ready to believe that the data was bad, and then the data that actually got released was bad.

    I thought Saddam probably did have a secret nuclear program. He’d tried before and gotten caught. Why wouldn’t he try again? Just, neither our competent CIA guys or our incompetent OSP found out about it. I figured we’d find out after the invasion. I was wrong.

    It was more like, some university physics professors had gone to Saddam to ask him for money for their physics departments, and they said “Give us funding and someday maybe we can make a nuke” and Saddam said, “Yeah, sure, tell me another one. But here’s the money, I like physics.” And then the israelis bombed the Osirak reactor which was entirely a civilian operation, and the news was full of stuff about how easy it would be for Saddam to have a bomb, and he called them back. “How much money do you need and when will it be ready?” He gave them more than 6 times as much money as before. But what with one thing and another it didn’t work out. One failure after another. They made mistakes, they got bombed, they made more mistakes, they got bombed some more, we found out about the secret program and imposed stiffer sanctions and harder inspections. Saddam just gave up.

    I thought they were lying, but I thought it would turn out they were right anyway by accident. They weren’t. They were just lying.

    We weren’t in any position to know what Saddam had, but we were in good position to know that the Bush administrations data about it was BS.

  19. _First of all, the opposition seemed to be the only ones trotting out the ‘nonpatriotic card’, mainly to claim it was being aimed at them. Rarely if ever was this done, and certainly not by legitimate leaders of the party._

    It got done to me a lot, but not by legitimate leaders of the GOP. The usual approach went “If you’re against liberating iraq you must want the terrorists to win.”. Sometimes all the commenters on a blog would agree about that except me.

    Then there were the radio talk shows. Rush, Hannity, Savage, etc. They certainly weren’t legitimate leaders of anything whatsoever, but they seemed to have a lot of influence.

    _I think this was less of a red herring than a legitimate sore spot for a lot of Democrats._

    I agree, A legitimate sore spot, not a red herring. But anyway I’m not a democrat except I registered democrat to vote in their primaries.

    _Secondly, I really feel that Congressional oversight, and opposition leadership in particular was horrifically lazy in the run up to the war._

    Could be. I can’t see that opposition leadership showed less oversight than GOP leadership. They were both responsible for figuring out what was going on and stopping it, and the democrats in particular could not stop it without GOP aid. So it was particularly republican responsibility to notice the problems and handle them.

    _I really dont feel that Republicans being effective at backing Dems into a political corner that they were too cowardly to plant an unpopular flag and break out of is somehow underhanded. Thats what politics is._

    In that case you surely won’t mind democrats pinning every failure of the war on republican legislators, from now until the elections. They can take full responsibility for preventing pay raises for the troops, and for allowing troops to go to war with inadequate training, and for, well, everything they block.

    This failing war is entirely their responsibility, and they should wear that proudly going into the elections. Ideally every GOP officeholder or candidate will speak aloud a pledge for You-Tube. Something like:

    bq. I unconditionally support the war in iraq. I accept full responsibility for everything that has happened in this war and everything that will happen. If we lose 50,000 casualties, if we need a draft, if it costs a trillion dollars a year for the next twenty years, if we must kill ten million iraqis, still I support the war. There is no substitute for victory.

    Every GOP candidate for anything. There’s no substitute for victory. Ah, the sweet smell of victory is in the air.

  20. Folks in these comments often disagree. That’s fine. Can we agree, please, that Hilzoy is a she?

    Two other points:

    Mark Buehner (17)
    bq. Secondly, I really feel that Congressional oversight, and opposition leadership in particular was horrifically lazy in the run up to the war. Protestations to the contrary, Congressional leaders have remarkable power over and access to intelligence and analysis of intelligence. Claiming to be misled by the President is essentially hiding from the ‘couldnt be bothered to research the subject’ charge by embracing the ‘im a gullible moron who couldnt bother to research the intelligence’ stance. Obviously this only applies to the leaders on the intelligence committies, but they also bear the responsibility for not being able to provide leadership to the rest of their caucus by being the experts they are supposed to be.

    Yes, there was some of laziness. But there was also a fair degree of vilification of those–in the CIA, for example, or from outside the government–who attempted to present an alternative view. This is old ground, but worth remembering anyway. More specifically, though, there was a fair amount of outright manipulation of information by the congressional leadership of the time, and later–particularly by the Senate Intelligence Committee. There have been charges by Democrats on the committee (and I don’t really know where all this stands at the moment, sorry) that Sen. Roberts actively withheld information from them. I have no idea if this was indeed the case–but given the aggressiveness with which the administration, particularly the Vice President, was prepared to circumvent traditional intelligence channels during this period, it’s at least plausible. Folks at “Raw Story”:http://rawstory.com/news/2005/HowSenate_Intelligence_chairman_fixed_intelligence_and_diverted_blame_fromWhite_House__0811.html did a piece on whether Roberts actively manipulated intelligence in the run-up to the war (they say yes, of course, but that doesn’t mean they’re wrong). In addition, eriposte over at The Left Coaster has done a pretty thorough “deconstruction”:http://http://www.theleftcoaster.com/archives/005001.php of the Senate Intelligence Committee report on the Niger Yellowcake fiasco which shows that it was pretty much a stitch-up. So while there was some laziness, there was also a fairly determined effort by some of the congressional leadership, particularly Sen. Roberts, to push the administration’s agenda very aggressively. And, apparently, to actively limit what intelligence actually got disseminated to committee members, which was the administration’s intention.

    J Thomas (18)
    bq. About the WMDs, I tended to trust the media. The media reported that CIA guys they trusted were saying the evidence for iraqi WMDs was not good quality. I trusted the media to know whether their secret sources were really CIA guys who’d know what they were talking about, or not. Were the CIA guys lying? What would it get them to leak lies about that? I was ready to believe that the data was bad, and then the data that actually got released was bad.

    Well, let’s not let the media off the hook that easily here. Yes, there was some of this, particularly in the WAPO. And a whole lot more in the blogosphere, but we’re all dirty hippies with no credibility. But it was certainly overwhelmed by the Judy Millers and Michael Gordons (still at it!) and Andrea Mitchells and David Broders of the media, who not only were supremely uncritical, but also (certainly in the case of Miller) were involved (wittingly or not) in disseminating the administration’s slanted intelligence, if that’s the right word. Probably not, as I think about it.

  21. So #3 is about protecting the free speech of the Dixie Chicks and #5 is about eternal vigilance against people without a track record on foreign affairs.

    Sorry, way too snarky given my gripe.

    Flash back:

    bq. _Secretary of State Colin Powell’s briefing to the U.N. Security Council was far more powerful than anyone had predicted. Not all his points were equally compelling: Some, as he admitted, were open to interpretation; some were vaguely sourced (if understandably so). But contrary to his own (clearly low-balling) remarks of recent days, Powell did produce the proverbial “smoking gun.” And, while his evidence may not have been quite as shattering as Adlai Stevenson’s U-2 photos of Soviet missiles in Cuba, it came remarkably close—so much so that, if the Security Council does not now take action against Iraq, it might as well disband._

    “Fred Kaplan”:http://www.slate.com/id/2078196/

  22. Mark#1, “I’d say the Cuban Missile Crisis is anything but a good counterexample- it was very hawkish and tough by all accounts while being sane.”

    I just don’t see it that way. We traded our missiles aimed at Russia (in Turkey) for theirs aimed at us in Cuba. How is that “Hawkish”?

    Mark#4, “Maybe but that doesnt account for all the regimes we arent opposing that manage their grip quite nicely- Egypt, Jordan, SA, China.”

    But China is becoming more progressive over time. Capitalism is encourages there. Freedoms are expanding. Egypt is cooperative as is Jordan. So, again, I fail to see your point. In fact, your examples can easily be seen as counter the point I think you were trying to make.

    “Seems to me to be one of those intractible problems that historical examples tend to harm more than help by instilling confidence in a course that is probably undeserved (a black swan waiting to happen). Ive come to think historical analogies are extremely dangerous things. Because something happens once doesnt mean there is a reason for it we can understand or break down, much less replicate. Causality and history are a dangerous combination, and geopolitics seems MUCH more subject to postdiction than prediction, no matter how much data we assemble and analyze.”

    I agree with this, but remember….it cuts both ways; applying as much to all of these CHamberlain/MUnich examples as it does to the main thesis under scrutiny.

    More importantly, in the natural sciences, it is extremely rare to find single variable causality. Most often one experiences situations that are better analyzed by a multiple variable regression model. Historic outcomes are most definitely of this order. So, in other words, there are multiple variables that all interact with each other to produce a predictable outcome and all of these variables would have to be accurately captured and then included in the analysis. A simple Hawkish versus Dovish dicothomy simply won’t cut it.

  23. _”I just don’t see it that way. We traded our missiles aimed at Russia (in Turkey) for theirs aimed at us in Cuba. How is that “Hawkish”?”_

    Well, we traded outdated missiles that we had no use for (except perhaps politically) for missiles in Cuba that had an actual tactical advantage the USSR couldnt get anywhere else at that moment- and more importantly we did it in a way that made Kruschev appear to back down to us. In the crazy Cold War game, appearance is about equal to reality. Moreover we forced the issue by pushing the world to the brink of war. Russia blinked, not us, thats about as Hawkish as you could ask for short of actually starting a nuclear war.

    _”But China is becoming more progressive over time. Capitalism is encourages there. Freedoms are expanding. Egypt is cooperative as is Jordan. So, again, I fail to see your point. In fact, your examples can easily be seen as counter the point I think you were trying to make.”_

    Well, lets seperate Freedom from cooperation. They are obviously different goals. China may be loosening up to a degree, but its been 50 years of totalitarian slavery in the making. Meanwhile there are plenty of regimes like Egypt that show few if any signs of improvement. So my point is, some regimes we oppose like NK or Cuba and they remain unfree. Others we support like Egypt or SA and they remain unfree. Some we have very little to do with (African nations mainly) and they remain unfree. So just perhaps, we arent the epicenter of good and bad in the world, and maybe a nations level of freedom doesnt have the US to blame of thank for it as much as our discourse would suggest.

    _”I agree with this, but remember….it cuts both ways; applying as much to all of these CHamberlain/MUnich examples as it does to the main thesis under scrutiny.”_

    Agreed. I think Munich is a better example of human nature, which unlike the more complex geopolitics does indeed seem to be fairly predictable- giving a bully what he wants doesnt make him go away. This is one of those human lessons (some of us) learn as kids, and seems to carry over to nations, especially cults of personality. Professionals are predictable, but the world is full of amateurs.

    _”A simple Hawkish versus Dovish dicothomy simply won’t cut it.”_

    Yeh, i think we are getting at the same point, and I agree. If there is one thing i’d like us all to take away from the last few years- the law of unintended consequences is sacrosanct, no matter right or left, learned or unlettered, amateur or experienced.

  24. JT – the media folks talking to the CIA doubted that there were WMD? Back then, I seem to recall that pretty much everyone – media, Democrat & Republican – was pretty sure Saddam had WMD…cites are welcome, tho…

    A.L.

  25. AL, I’m not saying the media doubted Saddam had WMDs. I’m saying the media reported that the CIA leaked that the administration’s *evidence* for WMDs was bogus.

    As it turned out, it was indeed bogus. The evidence was made up, it was lies. And there wasn’t even a secret program they didn’t know about that sort of fit the description.

    We didn’t find the WMDs. Some people said they got shipped to syria. We didn’t find the WMD programs or the people. Maybe they got shipped to syria too, or killed? But we had iraq’s top people, the ones who should have known about it, in gitmo etc for 2 years and they never cracked. We got Saddam and he didn’t crack either. We found no records. The iraqi government didn’t pay for a WMD program.

    So if there was a WMD program in iraq, it was privately funded, operated by scientists and technicians the iraqi government didn’t know about, and the iraqi government didn’t get the reports or the products. If there was a WMD program in iraq it was done by terrorists that Saddam didn’t know about.

    I thought Saddam had a WMD program too. When all the evidence looked bogus, when Powell presented obviously bogus evidence to the UN, when the media reported the CIA saying the evidence was bogus, I thought he really had them and he was successfully keeping them secret from our spies. I think a lot of honest people thought that. The evidence for it was BS but we believed it was true anyway, without evidence.

    We were wrong.

  26. I never believed that Iraq had substantially reconstituted it’s WMD programs. The suspicious timing of the presentation of the evidence which seemingly reached a crescendo right on queue from a group of people who wanted to depose Saddam forcefully long before 9/11, coupled to multiple negative reports from the UN inspectors, made it seem very very unlikely to me.

    So I think it’s a misrepresentation to say that “pretty much everybody” believed that Saddam had WMD. Many many people did not, even those in the government who hedged their bets when speaking in public as politicans must do. This does not constitute evidence in support of this view in my mind, just human nature under such circumstances.

    Furthermore, I think J Thomas is correct in pointing out that there were numerous credlble contemporaneous sources of skepticism, official and otherwise, about the escalating and inflammatory WMD claims, but these were generally pushed aside, dismissed or sneered at by both the administration and it’s PR effort reaching right into the heart of the complicit media.

    What we should really be asking ourselves how we allowed the situation to evolve into such a dangerously one-sided affair to begin with, in the hopes that it can be avoided in the future. Too many lives have been lost and for what?

  27. Alan, the record was pretty clear…I’ll go dig and put some links up but al through the period ’99 – 01, the political and media leadership was pretty sure Saddam had _something_. It’s a relevant question to ask whether that ‘thought’ was accurate. But let’s stick to the historical record. Scott Ritter was pretty much the only guy who was right, and having taken cash from Iraq (and had a sudden and unexplained reversal of views) he wasn’t hard to ignore.

    My own views on the issue “are here”:http://www.windsofchange.net/archives/003555.php .

  28. #27 from Armed Liberal at 4:55 am on Jul 26, 2007
    the political and media leadership was pretty sure Saddam had something.

    Not much of a burden of proof.
    ___________________________________________________________________

    It’s a relevant question to ask whether that ‘thought’ was accurate.

    There is a great difference between “think” and “know”. The administration, most especially Dick Cheney said they KNEW Saddam had WMDs.

    That was pure, unadulterated BS. If an employee of mine told me that he KNEW a certain situation existed that proved not to be the case and his excuse was that he THOUGH it was true, then compounded this incompetence by saying others who had access to the same information THOUGHT the same thing, he or she would be fired.

    The incompetence shown by this administration in going to war and in the continued incompetence demonstrated in their conduct of the war and Foreign Policy in general, defies description.

    As far as I can see, the Administration has no coherent policy. It has slogans, but can anyone find a link to what the administration’s Policy, militarily and diplomatically is vis-a-vis Iraq, in particular and the Middle East in General?

    Please spare me the Pollyanna excuse that we are bringing democracy to the heathens

  29. _”There is a great difference between “think” and “know”. The administration, most especially Dick Cheney said they KNEW Saddam had WMDs.”_

    Isnt that such a high (impossible?) burden of proof in the real world that it pretty much guarantees we will never act, and hence accept the consquences of _that_ flawed policy? I’ll find you Clinton adminstration and Congressional quotes being just as definitive- the point is what we _know_ in the world of intelligence is virtually nothing. Our enemies (and friends as oft as not) are actively working to decieve us. We can only go with our best estimates and our best analysts, and despite what is being said in hindsight the vast preponderance of the evidence pointed to Saddam having those weapons.

    This is largely because he acted exactly like he had them. Intentionally. Is this really any different than the mugger with a hand in his pocket pointing it at someones head and demanding money? Worse- this particular mugger has the longest rap sheet imaginable.

    As far as the CIA- over the past 50 years you could do quite well for yourself betting exactly opposite everything the CIA has concluded. Moreover- there is ALWAYS contray evidence in intelligence. And there will ALWAYS be beurocrats that trot it out in retrospect as though they knew it all along. Its like the hopeless gambler that holds onto his bet on the Browns winning the Superbowl year after year (losing money always) and triumphantly pulls it out 30 years later as though he knows something we dont.

  30. “(10) Just because we’re going to war doesn’t mean we don’t need diplomacy. In the specific case of Iraq, negotiations with Iran and Syria could have been very useful, if only because, had we been smart about it, we could have made clear to those countries that we had no plans to invade them, thereby depriving them of any reason to keep us bogged down in Iraq. (Obviously, we would first have had to get rid of any such plans. If we were going to invade Iraq, we should have: giving neighbors a reason to keep us bogged down is not a good thing.) We could probably have done a lot more, for instance to get their cooperation in securing their borders; but just removing their obvious interest in our having to stay in Iraq indefinitely would have helped immensely.”

    There was lots and lots of pre-war diplomacy.

    The implications that Iran and Syria had no internal reasons for intending harm to us, that any hostile actions by them them would have been driven by fear of our aggression, and that reassuring them on this score would have made them friendly are unfounded and ignore the nature of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Ba’athist Syrian regime.

  31. “(9) In wars, there are very few do-overs, and in occupations there are almost none. Occupations, in particular, are not like, say, Photoshop, where the handy “Undo” feature covers a multitude of sins. They are more like relationships. When I used to work at the battered women’s shelter, I heard a lot of stories about husbands who apparently believed that it was possible to undo the past: that having (for instance) cracked a woman’s skull against a concrete wall, it was possible to “just start over.” (Similarly, many believed that it was possible to cancel out such episodes with a sufficiently large quantity of gifts, romantic dinners, diamonds, and so forth, as though a relationship was like a sum, and breaking your partner’s bones was just a very large negative number that required a lot of positive numbers to make up for it.)”

    Iraq is a hostile state, not our wife.

  32. “(8) Never underestimate the value of an exit strategy. By an exit strategy I do not mean the military plans for how, exactly, we might extricate our troops from Iraq, but a way of disengaging without seeming to have been beaten. (In this case, without allowing bin Laden and the Iraqi insurgents to claim victory.) […] This administration should have avoided it when it was avoidable, either by not invading in the first place or by moving heaven and earth to make our invasion successful. Bush was not sufficiently worried about this prospect when he could have prevented it. He did not seem to notice that we had no plan for the occupation, or that we didn’t even have enough troops to guard the WMD sites that the war was supposedly all about, let alone to provide basic security for the Iraqis. He didn’t bother to ask whether we were finding the very best people we had to staff the CPA, rather than raiding the Heritage intern pool. That can only mean that he never bothered to ask the most basic questions a President has to ask when success matters so much, both to us and to the Iraqis. Not having bothered to take the most elementary steps to secure success when he might have had it, I find his present insistence on the horrific consequences of defeat galling; and I think that everyone who hears them should think: Mr. President, this is your failure.”

    It is reasonable to say that if there are sufficiently compelling reasons to fight a war even though there is no obvious exit strategy on offer, we should make a strong effort to see that we win, so we don’t need an “exit strategy”.

    It’s not reasonable to characterize George W. Bush as not having gotten that, as not bothering. He has “bothered” a lot. He has struggled with immense and diligent determination. He struggles still.

    It hasn’t worked, because he’s set a task that would be possible in Muslims and Methodists were interchangeable, but that can’t be achieved if they aren’t; and it turns out they aren’t.

    But that’s not “not bothering”. That’s the American President’s own religiously driven version of political correctness at work.

  33. “(7) Be very wary of extrapolating from the last few wars.”

    I honestly think Donald Rumsfeld knew that one, since from day one he was about building unprecedented armed forces to do new things.

  34. “(6) Think very hard about the lessons of history. For every case like Munich, in which failing to confront a dictator more forcefully led to disaster, there is a Cuban Missile Crisis, in which a leader’s unwillingness to make the most hawkish response to a dictator’s provocation averted disaster. Trotting out Munich at every possible opportunity only ensures that the next time you find yourself in a Cuban Missile Crisis, your country will be turned to radioactive glass.”

    I’m all for thinking about the lessons of history.

  35. “(5) Beware of movements built on contempt. Many of the people who pushed for war had spent decades expressing their contempt for what you might call standard foreign policy — the kind in which diplomacy is taken to be a useful instrument, not a snare for the weak-minded, and force is a last resort, not an all-purpose tool. Their own views had never been seriously tested (and no, Reagan doesn’t count), and many of their spokesmen lacked any serious experience conducting foreign policy. Sometimes, groups of people who spend years muttering about how different things would be if they were in charge are right. Often, however, they are not. Absent a real track record on which to evaluate them, they should be approached with caution.”

    “Beware of movements built on contempt” is not much more useful than saying “beware of people you dislike enough to mis-characterize their intellectual foundations.”

    A mere sentiment of “contempt” was never the basis for George W. Bush’s key foreign policy and war decisions, or for the wider movement that supported them.

    Bernard Lewis was a or the key influence on George W. Bush’s approach to Islam, and on his cure for all of Islam’s woes, that he democracy. (Bernard Lewis has said “either we give them freedom or they destroy us” – meaning that Islamic democracy now is the cure for all our prospective future woes too.) “Contempt” is not a word I would associate with him.

    Is it “contempt” to assume that Muslims have the same passion for freedom we do? Only if it is can you reasonably accuse Bernard Lewis and George W. Bush of intellectually and politically leading a movement based on “contempt”.

  36. “(4) When the rest of the world thinks you’re crazy, it’s worth entertaining the possibility that they might be right. We should not defer to their judgment mindlessly, but we should have what Jefferson called “a decent respect to the opinions of mankind.””

    We should be decent and not mindless, OK.

    I should point of that deferring to the opinions of the world is becoming a worse idea as the world becomes more Muslim. Especially for leaders of the Great Satan and the Little Satan.

  37. “(3) One of the greatest strengths of our country is the fact that we allow debate and dissent. This means that if we choose to do so, we can debate policies before we adopt them, rather than first adopting them and only then, when it is too late, discovering the problems that a real debate might have made apparent. Before we went to war, there were people who were trying to shut debate down by marginalizing or slandering or, in some cases, threatening those who disagreed with them. (Dixie Chicks, anyone?) This is, of course, a hateful thing to do to those people. But it should now be obvious that it is also a profound disservice to our country. We would have been a lot better off if we had stayed true to our ideals of open debate and free speech.”

    I’m all for free speech. Repeal McCain-Feingold now! (And by all means give George W. Bush a black mark for signing it.)

    But the free speech of anti-war critics was not shut down before either the invasion of Afghanistan or the invasion of Iraq. Rather, it was ineffective, that is, the anti-war left did not win those debates.

    I don’t think much would have been learned from paying more attention to the allegations of anti-war leftists like Noan Chomsky – or the Dixie Chicks for that matter. There, where the only argument made or needed was hostility to George W. Bush, we can talk about at least part of a movement being based on “contempt”.

  38. “(2) Never substitute impugning someone’s character for impugning his or her argument. This was, if memory serves, a pretty standard move back in 2002: the fact of someone’s opposition to the war was taken to be conclusive evidence that that person was not serious about the war on terror, and their supposed lack of seriousness meant that their arguments did not have to be taken seriously.”

    I don’t think memory serves well in this case.

    For one thing, it leaves out of account Afghanistan. On the issue of the possible and then the actual invasion of Afghanistan, a lot of people, including nearly all my own friends had shown that they were willing to see even that jihadist state as a victim of our insufficiently warranted aggression, and that it wasn’t possible to be on good terms any more while being a “warmonger” a “neocon” and so on. Personal attacks were the first not the last resort, and if the large anti-war movement that already sprang into existence then (and only solidified later over Iraq) was serious about “national security” it had such different assumptions about what “national security” required that not much useful conversation was possible on the basis of that as a shared value.

  39. “(1) It seems to me that our country went slightly crazy after 9/11, and one of the manifestations of that craziness was a tendency to say, about anyone who suggested stopping to think about much of anything, that that person just hadn’t absorbed the lessons of 9/11, hadn’t been there, hadn’t fully grasped how horrific it was. Anyone who has even the slightest iota of this tendency should, I think, engrave on his or her forehead: When something truly awful happens, and you find yourself in the presence of real danger, it is more important than ever to stop and think clearly about what you are about to do. The temptations to do something stupid are much greater than usual, and the risks are much higher. Going with the flow and doing what comes naturally might be winning strategies at a party; they are profoundly dangerous when considering going to war. Since the people who do stop and think are likely to be rarer than usual, in moments of national crisis they should be cherished, not abused or slandered.”

    George W. Bush might agree. After 11 September, 2001, he was more concerned to calm the country down than to lead it, and his first speech, which was a reassuring speech, not a war speech, reflect that priority. He went on to reassure us that Islam was a religion of peace, that the best we could do was be kindly neigbors and go shopping, and many other things.

    He never did wind up engaging the people, or rousing his nation to the state of will that would be needed to win a war, unless that war would be won quickly and at low cost by professionals having little to do with a nation that would remain at peace, unwanted in a sense, and thus uninvolved.

  40. It seems to me that George W. Bush is Islamophiliac to a bewildering degree.

    If he had not explained his religious beliefs, his actions would be very hard to understand.

    But, he thought from the start that Islam could only be a force for good, while he has showed from early on and from time to time in his terms as American President that he thinks American conservatives may be bigoted – against Muslims (as over the ports deal), against Hispanics (as over the big illegal immigration bill), against women (as over Harriet Miers), and so on.

    So, his advice to potential anti-Islamic bigots has been from the first to be calm, to be kind and go shopping while professionals took care of the war.

    Given that Islam was friendly, the war would not be too awkward a problem for the professionals to deal with while not getting the potentially bigoted public involved.

    Provided of course the professionals exhibited dutiful self-discipline and worked hard. But that was fine – from the first George W. Bush had a justified confidence in his own self-discipline, and in America’s warriors and government experts. Loyal supporters such as Donald Rumsfeld did indeed work hard.

    It should all have worked out much better than it somehow has.

  41. AL#27, “Alan, the record was pretty clear…I’ll go dig and put some links up but al through the period ’99 – 01, the political and media leadership was pretty sure Saddam had something.”

    Whatever the validity is contained in this statement is rendered moot by the fact that the inspectors went in, searched for months, and found nothing. This after Rumsfeld publicly stated (lied) that “We know exactly where the WMD are…”

  42. Avedia, the media was pretty sure Saddam had something. They just didn’t have any credible evidence to back up that belief.

    The basic argument was “Saddam’s an evil dictator. Of *course* he has secret weapons.” That’s it.

    We had no proof. We had nothing particularly believable. We had a lot of known lies that would tend to cast doubt on credible evidence if we had even gotten some. After the number of times we cried wolf, if we had gotten real evidence there would be reason to think it was a better fake than usual.

    But we believed anyway, and the media kept pushing it anyway. The same newspapers that published reports on page 10 about how worthless the data were, put stuff on page 1 quoting without comment US officials assuming the WMDs were there, and they published op-eds that didn’t question the WMDs were there. A whole lot of people didn’t notice that there was absolutely no evidence, and some evidence against. Some people haven’t noticed that to this day.

    And a whole lot of people who should have noticed, went right on talking like there was no doubt. The people who pointed out there was no proof got told, repeatedly, “We can’t afford to wait for absolute iron-clad proof! By the time we get absolute proof Saddam will have the Bomb! We have to stop him now!”

    I thought he had a nuclear program even though I had no evidence. Saddam was an evil dictator, so of course he had a nuclear program. But I also thought if we couldn’t find it, it had to be years from completion.

    I wanted to believe that Bush was threatening Saddam to get Saddam to back down. But a military guy on a blog set me straight. He said (not a direct quote) “We’ve moved a million tons of ordnance to kuwait getting ready for this war. We’re not going to just move it out again.” That had the ring of truth. When have we ever spent 6 months getting ready to invade someplace, and then not gone through with it? Never.

  43. #29 from Mark Buehner at 5:38 am on Jul 26, 2007

    “There is a great difference between “think” and “know”. The administration, most especially Dick Cheney said they KNEW Saddam had WMDs.”

    Isnt that such a high (impossible?) burden of proof in the real world that it pretty much guarantees we will never act, and hence accept the consequences of that flawed policy?

    Mark, these guys were not even close. They had a plan to go to war in Iraq and started to believe their own BS. Their Burden of Proof consisted of what? Their eagerness to test the Neo-Con hypothesis that America could bring democracy and peace to the Middle East by a moral exercise of its military might? This is the basis of a Foreign Policy.

    For a group of characters that put themselves up as tough guys and hardcore thinkers, this is hilarious, except for the fact that they have led the country down a completely disastrous path.

    What would be your burden of proof? A lot of people thought that Saddam had WMD’s? That is not a burden of proof. It is an excuse. And the Neo-Cons should be called to task on it.

    We should act on credible intelligence, not on flawed geopolitical theories, or is this too to ask, as well?.

  44. One other thing. I remember watching Rumsfeld’s TV performances throughout the War, the build-up and the aftermath and could not help thinking that this guy was like an gloating adolescent, with his witty one liners and the dismissive, simplistic zingers he used to answer not very simple questions. He was an extremely facile loose cannon, not very bright, full of himself and completely out of control. And worse, seemingly in control of our Foreign Policy.

  45. _”What would be your burden of proof? A lot of people thought that Saddam had WMD’s? That is not a burden of proof.”_

    You are totally mischaracterizing both the amount of intelligence, foriegn and domestic, that pointed to Iraq having WMDs, and the level of belief in such across all party lines. Were all the Democrats with access to intelligence total idiots? Including former members of the Clinton administration? Were the Brits somehow snared in this neo-con plot as well, including their traditionally excellent intelligence service?

    This is totally rewriting history. There were mounds of data pointing to the conclusion that was reached. Now you want to grab the vastly outnumbered negative indicators and act like they were somehow obvious, much less unusual in an intelligence estimate (countervailing data is _always_ present). Like AL said, there were VERY few voices, including intel, analysists, diplomats, military, journalists, politicians, and all kinds of experts that were arguing Hussein had NO WMDs. Few enough that I also can only think of Ritter (who indeed had a peculiar past). Again- Hussein ACTIVELY led the world to believe he had WMDs, it was his policy.

  46. And btw, im pretty certain we have _significantly_ less hard evidence that Iran is developing nuclear weapons. Are we to assume they arent because we dont have smoking gun, definitive, incontravertable evidence (whatever that would look like)?

  47. #45 from Mark Buehner at 2:17 pm on Jul 26, 2007

    “What would be your burden of proof? A lot of people thought that Saddam had WMD’s? That is not a burden of proof.”

    You are totally mischaracterizing both the amount of intelligence, foriegn and domestic, that pointed to Iraq having WMDs, and the level of belief in such across all party lines.
    _________________________________________________________________
    No, I am not. The fact that the Democrats got caught up in the rush to War is irrelevant. There was plenty of intelligence from the U.N. weapons inspectors that was shouted down in this rush to War. Lets look at this. The Yellow cake story was fraudulent. The nuclear program touted by Iraqi exiles was fraudulent. Rumsfeld, because he wanted to believe his own Neo-Con view of the world put great faith in Chalabi, who was, at the time a convicted fraud. Why is it so hard to accept that the American public was duped by what can charitable be called the Administrations self delusions..
    *****************************************************************

    Were all the Democrats with access to intelligence total idiots? Including former members of the Clinton administration? Were the Brits somehow snared in this neo-con plot as well, including their traditionally excellent intelligence service?
    _________________________________________________________________

    Here it is again, the old “You can’t blame me for my blunder because other people blundered as well.” routine. I call it blame shifting. I also think that there are higher standards to be held to than other guys made the same mistake.

    I might also add that three members of the Security Council did not think that the evidence presented was credible enough to go to War. The coalition of the willing in comparison to the coalition built by Bush 1 for the First Gulf War was a joke. No credible threat was established, unless you were caught up in a War Hysteria that the Neo Cons created long before they came to power in Washington.

    Look, I am a conservative and a republican, but I cannot, in good conscience make excuse for a particularly inept group of advisors that pushed for this war. I am also willing to take responsibility for the blunder without resorting to excuses like “Everybody else thought so, So why blame me.” We were wrong. The Neo-Cons were wrong. why not admit that and stop wasting precious energy trying to defend these fools.
    *****************************************************************

    This is totally rewriting history. There were mounds of data pointing to the conclusion that was reached. Now you want to grab the vastly outnumbered negative indicators and act like they were somehow obvious, much less unusual in an intelligence estimate (countervailing data is always present). Like AL said, there were VERY few voices, including intel, analysists, diplomats, military, journalists, politicians, and all kinds of experts that were arguing Hussein had NO WMDs. Few enough that I also can only think of Ritter (who indeed had a peculiar past). Again- Hussein ACTIVELY led the world to believe he had WMDs, it was his policy.
    __________________________________________________________________

    Did he have them. NO. Were weapons inspectors in Iraq at the time. YES. Rumsfeld said he New where the WMDs were. Did he? NO. The Intelligence community has said that it was under pressure to produce evidence to back the Administrations thinking. The CIA thought Chalabi was a bad guy and had no credibility. Snowcroft and other wise men in the Republican party warned against what is happening right now. Is this re-writing history?

    The decision to invade Iraq was made in 1998 and earlier. Just read the Neo-Con’s writings of the period. The please have AL explain to me how our FP had done us a disservice over the past 30 years and how this bunch of naive bunch of Innocents Abroad that call themselves the Neo-Cons served us better.
    ******************************************************************

  48. #46 from Mark Buehner at 2:20 pm on Jul 26, 2007

    And btw, im pretty certain we have significantly less hard evidence that Iran is developing nuclear weapons. Are we to assume they arent because we dont have smoking gun, definitive, incontravertable evidence (whatever that would look like)?
    ***********************************************************************

    Well, if that is the case, maybe we ought to think twice about throwing ideas around like a pre-emptive strike, a limited nuclear strike and regime change. Maybe we should take a little more time to think through situations and not go off half cocked as we did in Iraq.

    Wouldn’t you think that would be prudent in light of the fiasco that our involvement in Iraq has become?

    Would I support the actions I mentioned above. Yes, under the right circumstances and under a better burden of proof than what was more than we thought this based on faulty intelligence from guys like Chalabi.

    I would also think that it is not in the interest of India, Pakistan, the the Gulf States, Turkey, Egypt, Europe, Russia, et al, as well as Israel and the United States for Iran to get nuclear weapons. Hopefully we will take their opinions and avail ourselves of their intelligence before we embark upon another Iraq-like mis-adventure.

    Tomorrow a documentary called “No End in Sight” opens. I ran across it on the net yesterday. By the looks of it, it is nothing like a Micheal Moore documentary. And also by the looks of it, it does not paint a very pretty picture of the Neo/Cons and the administration.

    Let’s see.

    Here is the Google list of sites. The trailer can be seen on the first posted link.

    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=No+end+in+sight&btnG=Search

  49. TOC, lets put it this way- what kind of bullet proof intelligence are you looking for?

    Inside information-defectors is very common and inherintly open to the charge of being unreliable (by definition they are either disgruntled or greedy). So ‘sources’, though the most popular and historically the best intel can alway be pointed at as unreliable.

    Signals intelligence is easy to fake, and always open to intepretation.

    Satellite pictures, though wonderful, will very rarely yield you the Cuban Missile type smoking gun. When it comes to a lab buried deep under ground making nasty things, they arent going to produce that. So again, you are stuck with only circumstancial evidence.

    Basically everything Colin Powell presented to the UN falls under these headings.

    I’m not sure exactly what kind of intelligence you would consider ironclad- short of 007 sneaking into a nuclear weapons lab with his hightech gadgets and escaping in a speedboat. That just isnt the nature of intelligence gathering.

    So lets talk about reality. _Hussein_ was required to actively prove he had disposed of known quantities of WMD- the burden of proof was on him by UN mandate. That didnt happen. _Hussein_ actively gave the run around to UN inspectors in defiances of the ceasefire and UN mandate. _Hussein_ TOLD his generals that he DID have WMDs. _Hussein_ was sneaking agents around the world on nefarious endeavors- and in fact the Nigerian evidence absolutely points to the fact that Iraq approached Nigeria for Uranium (a fact intentionally concealed/spun by Joe Wilson). Add to that all the defectors, signals intel, etc that _indicated_ Hussein was up to something fishy. Add to that Hussein’s record of having used WMDs in the past. Add to that his defiance.

    Like it or not, the preponderance of the evidence made a powerful circumstancial case, which is _the best you can hope for_ in a case like this.

    The director of the CIA called the evidence a ‘slam dunk’. So lets stop pretending this was a ginned up accusation. Sometimes in intelligence 2+2=5. Thats just a reality. Sometimes the USSR looks like a mighty evil empire posed to bring ruin to the West, and then unexpectedly they collapse in a matter of months. Either you trust your analysts (they will disagree, so you trust who you trust) and go where logic leads you, or you play the Zen philosopher and refuse to make the smallest assumption, and lets the tide of history pull your strings instead of attempting to be proactive. Sometimes you _should_ do that, but the fact that we are snakebit in this case doesnt mean we werent logical and methodical at the time. Sometimes your best guess is wrong. Thats life.

  50. Mark, the guys who should have known — the CIA analysts, leaked that the data was bogus. They had no credible reason to lie about that.

    So do you believe the second string who says they have great evidence, except everything that actually shows up turns out to be garbage? Or do you believe the professionals? I believed the professionals. It turned out I was right and you were wrong.

    _Basically everything Colin Powell presented to the UN falls under these headings._

    The heading Wrong. That’s the heading you need. A lot of it got discredited right then and there. So why do you want to still believe it?

    _… in fact the Nigerian evidence absolutely points to the fact that Iraq approached Nigeria for Uranium_

    No, the nigerien evidence shows that iran approached nigeria and got nowhere. Iraq did not. There’s a lot of disinformation floating around, though.

    _I’m not sure exactly what kind of intelligence you would consider ironclad-_

    I didn’t need ironclad. I just wanted some real evidence, and what I kept getting was forgeries and lies.

    _Like it or not, the preponderance of the evidence made a powerful circumstancial case, which is the best you can hope for in a case like this._

    Since mere citizens don’t get to look at the evidence, use the things the professionals are willing to stake their careers over, and leave off the things the professionals say are garbage but the partisan hacks push anyway.

    Then when you actually get to look at evidence, see how good that is. Nigerien forgery? Aluminum tubes? Directions to the inspection teams that led to basements in buildings that didn’t exist? If the info they release is real bad, how likely is it the secret info is better?

    _Like it or not, the preponderance of the evidence made a powerful circumstancial case, which is the best you can hope for in a case like this._

    It would have, if there hadn’t been so much evidence at the time that it was mostly lies.

    _The director of the CIA called the evidence a ‘slam dunk’._

    He later denied that.

    _So lets stop pretending this was a ginned up accusation._

    Do you have any reason whatsoever to think it wasn’t? Any token bit of evidence that it wasn’t all lies? I can imagine arguing that it was entirely due to incompetence, but what are the odds?

    _Sometimes the USSR looks like a mighty evil empire posed to bring ruin to the West, and then unexpectedly they collapse in a matter of months._

    The competent CIA guys had been saying for years that the USSR was in trouble. There was a wacko sideshow that claimed all the bad indicators for the USSR were faked by the USSR to fool us into thinking they were collapsing. Guess who was right.

    _… the fact that we are snakebit in this case doesnt mean we werent logical and methodical at the time._

    The trouble is, we weren’t logical or methodical at the time. Or rather, some of us were but those guys weren’t the one the administration chose to trust. They chose to trust the guys who told them what they wanted to hear.

    There’s an old DIA slogan that goes, “If you want it _real bad_, you can get it *real bad*.” The administration wanted evidence against Saddam. They wanted it _real bad_. And the evidence they wound up with was *real bad*.

  51. _”Mark, the guys who should have known — the CIA analysts, leaked that the data was bogus. They had no credible reason to lie about that.”_

    Nooo, the people who looked the worst leaked some CYA counter evidence _after the fact_. It wasnt a lie. Every piece of intelligence you can imagine will have reason to doubt it. And they had plenty of reasons to leak those.

    _”So do you believe the second string who says they have great evidence, except everything that actually shows up turns out to be garbage? Or do you believe the professionals? I believed the professionals.”_

    Which professionals?! First of all, i’m REAL uncomfortable considering the CIA as anything like ‘the authority’ considering their record over the past 50 years. Secondly you act like the entire CIA was against this intelligence analysis, when in fact it is exactly the opposite- most were in agreement, some (of course) werent. And they are the voices you hear from now. The freaking DIRECTOR OF THE CIA CALLED IT A SLAM DUNK? Was he a professional? The Clinton appointed director? Upon who’s intel President Clinton had already launched one attack on Iraq?

    _”No, the nigerien evidence shows that iran approached nigeria and got nowhere. Iraq did not. There’s a lot of disinformation floating around, though.”_

    Wrong. Simply untrue. I think well-known hyper-conservative Christopher Hitchens explains things nicely “here”:http://www.slate.com/id/2139609/

    _”I didn’t need ironclad. I just wanted some real evidence, and what I kept getting was forgeries and lies.”_

    Oh for goodness sakes- then stay the heck out of the intelligence analizing business because it is awash with forgeries and lies. Im utterly shocked that you are pointing to the CIA as the upholder of great intelligence gathering and analysis, that alone speaks volumes. You present this ridiculous possibility that good clean intelligence can be magically bestowed by the CIA to the WH and, presto, we can make policy. It never works like that. You also pretend every American president hasnt had to make similar calls based on similar evidence- including Bill Clinton who ALSO went to war with Iraq based on THE SAME intelligence given to him by THE SAME people.

    Speaking of the Chalabi connection, here’s what a former CIA division chief had to say about the CIA leadership ‘we didnt know’ defense (which is scary in itself, considering they are in INTELLIGENCE AGENCY).

    _”Everyone in the chain of command knew exactly what was happening,” said Drumheller, who retired in November after 25 years at the CIA. He said he never met personally with Tenet, but “did talk to McLaughlin and everybody else.”_
    _”Drumheller scoffed at claims by Tenet and McLauglin that they were unaware of concerns about Curveball’s credibility. He said he was disappointed that the two former CIA leaders would resort to a “bureaucratic defense” that they never got a formal memo expressing doubts about the defector.”_

    _”They can say whatever they want,” Drumheller said. “They know what the truth is …. I did not lie.” Drumheller said the CIA had “lots of documentation” to show suspicions about Curveball were disseminated widely within the agency. He said they included warnings to McLaughlin’s office and to the Weapons Intelligence Non Proliferation and Arms Control Center, known as WINPAC, the group responsible for many of the flawed prewar assessments on Iraq._”

    _”Believe me, there are literally inches and inches of documentation” including “dozens and dozens of e-mails and memos and things like that detailing meetings” where officials sharply questioned Curveball’s credibility, Drumheller said._”

    “source”:http://www.commondreams.org/headlines05/0402-01.htm

  52. _”The competent CIA guys had been saying for years that the USSR was in trouble.”_

    Uh-huh.

    Look, first of all the ‘competant guys’ are only visable in retrospect. The CIA in particular is exactly like a bunch of futures traders. Every possible prediction has been made, and when something actually happens the guy who happened to make the right bet looks like a genius. But you ignore the other hundred guys who got it wrong.

    Thats exactly what is happening here. In an analysis as big and important as the Iraq runup, OF COURSE you are going to have people with just about any opinion you can think of. So OF COURSE somebody ended up being ‘right’. Does that mean they were the ‘right’ people? Or that there is any way we could have known they were ‘right’ at the time? Not any more likely than the guy at the rou-lette wheel who ‘knew’ #15 was coming up. Thats what our CIA has come to these days.

    This idea that the CIA was just teeming with doubt and disagreement is ass covering BS. That wasnt the case. But buearocrats sure know how to cover their tails in case their predictions go wrong. We could have found an alien spacecraft in Saddams secret warehouse and SOMEBODY would have put pen to paper predicting it.

  53. #49 from Mark Buehner at 4:16 pm on Jul 26, 2007

    Mark,

    J Thomas’s post suffices as my reply to your post. He summed up things better than I could.

    I do want to say this. The debate on Iraq, like the whole political debate in the states is not about getting at truth, it is about whether or not one side’s opinion wins out over the other.

    Notice that I did not say ideas. I said opinions. And we no what opinions are like since everyone has one.

    The Neo Cons had bad ideas. There ideas, when put to the test failed miserably. We got jobbed into a lousy War based on their theories, which, as far as I can see amounted to not much more than Woodrow Wilson with six aircraft carriers mixed with scenes of our soldiers being welcomed in Iraq as liberators throwing chocolates and nylons off the tanks to cheering crowds. Well, it doesn’t look like it worked out that way.

    They were wrong. Pure and simple. And when things began to unravel they Threw the president and Rumsfeld to the dogs by saying our ideas were right, but the execution of our ideas were wrong. They are half right here Their ideas were wrong as well.

    I think the republican party is too wrapped up in trying to prove the paries opinions correct at this point. I think it would be better if they admit that this War was a mistake. We now have an expeditionary force adrift in the middle of a civil war and insurgency. Neither of which it is trained to cope with, with NO END IN SIGHT. This is criminal.

    At the very least, we should be in the process of retrenchment. Using our forces to secure oil supplies and putting ourselves in position to be effective in a regional war. Iraq is now irrelevant and we are irrelevant in terms of Iraq’s Civil War.

    The game has changed. Representatives of the Arab League have visited Israel. Their are reports that he Isrealis are close to having direct talks with the Saudis. The lines are being drawn with the Sunni seemingly wanting to secure their rear in confronting the Shia from Iran to Lebanon, and Islamic fundamentalists, read Hizbollah and Hamas.

    Iraq was a blunder. Don’t waste your time defending it. It did nothing other than to destabilize a region and create a power vacuum that we not only cannot, but would not want to fill. It is time to stop throwing good money after bad. Time to stop listening to the nonsense coming out of the administration about democracy coming out of a Jefferson Davis – Abraham Lincoln like coalition in Iraq and stop throwing good treasure after bad.

    Foreign policy should be based on our interests and it is not in our interest to be democracy missionaries in the Middle East. That must be apparent by now.

  54. Mark Buehner– I’m going to suggest (again) that you check out the links I suggested back in my earlier post, so that the Niger yellowcake situation becomes a little clearer. And I’m curious about your comment about Bill Clinton–just when, exactly, did he go to war against Iraq?

  55. bq. The “slam dunk” issue arose last September, the fifth anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Vice President Dick Cheney told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that before the U.S.-led invasion, President Bush asked Tenet how good the case was against Saddam Hussein involving weapons of mass destruction.

    bq. “It’s a slam dunk, Mr. President,” Tenet responded.

    bq. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Sunday said the administration did not use former CIA Director George Tenet’s “slam dunk” comment as the reason to invade Iraq, disputing his complaints.

    bq. Former Deputy CIA Director John McLaughlin, now CNN’s national security adviser, was at that 2002 meeting. “What he meant was that it’s a slam dunk that we can put more information into the mix to make it clearer why analysts believe there are WMD in Iraq,” McLaughlin said.

    bq. In his new book, “At the Center of the Storm,” Tenet writes that the remark was taken out of context.

    ….

    bq. When asked whether Tenet deserves an apology, Rice did not respond, but said there “was an intelligence problem worldwide. … So there’s no blame here of anyone.”

    bq. “Look, not everything went right,” Rice said. “This is a very difficult circumstance. There were some things that went right and some things that went wrong. And you know what? We will have a chance to look at that in history.

    “quote”:http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/04/29/rice.tenet/index.html

    bq. Then, after U.S. forces failed to find Iraq’s WMD stockpiles, administration sources told author Bob Woodward that Tenet had assured them on the eve of the war that finding such weapons would be a “slam dunk.”

    bq. Tenet says he believed Iraq had WMDs but never considered the intelligence to be a “slam dunk.” Tenet says he used that description to show how easy it would be to build a public case for war, given that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein had used chemical weapons and had performed nuclear-weapons research in the past.

    “quote”:http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2007-04-26-tenet-interview_N.htm

    Tenet claims he never said the evidence was good. He said it would be easy to make the US public believe the evidence was good. A very different thing.

    I hope Mark Buehner will consider this before ever again using the false “slam dunk” argument.

  56. Lol! Amazing how years later when the CIA director who managed to preside over perhaps the worst series of intelligence failures in American can simply claim he was taken out of context and just like that J Thomas etc believe him. Brilliant. Startling how at the time he didnt seem to concerned with putting the record straight.

    Tenant is a career beurocrat (fitting for the modern CIA) who is about universally agreed was always in over his head. I cant believe how easily his CYA justifications are swallowed by the same people claiming to be the poster boys for critical thinking. Has Tenant produced any documentation indicating his supposed doubts? Any correspondence? Tenant is a self-serving disgrace whos book was full of factual errors that make you gravely wonder about his ability to honestly look at his own record.

    I think _at best_ former CIA chief Michael F. Scheuer “sums up”: Tenant very well:http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/27/AR2007042702052.html

    _”Of course, it’s good to finally have Tenet’s side of the Iraq and 9/11 stories. But whatever his book says, he was not much of a CIA chief. Still, he may have been the ideal CIA leader for Clinton and Bush — denigrating good intelligence to sate the former’s cowardly pacifism and accepting bad intelligence to please the latter’s Wilsonian militarism. Sadly but fittingly, “At the Center of the Storm” is likely to remind us that sometimes what lies at the center of a storm is a deafening silence.”_

    Thats assuming he actually believed what he is now claiming, which is doubtful. He’s either incompetant or a moral coward, and either way a total nightmare as an intelligence officer.

  57. _”Mark Buehner– I’m going to suggest (again) that you check out the links I suggested back in my earlier post, so that the Niger yellowcake situation becomes a little clearer. And I’m curious about your comment about Bill Clinton–just when, exactly, did he go to war against Iraq?”_

    First- your link doesnt work. Second, if it doesnt explain why Saddams chief nuclear weapons guy was in Nigeria it doesnt explain anything. Thirdly, it was called Desert Fox and up to 2000 Iraqis died in it.

    President Clinton:
    _”Earlier today, I ordered America’s armed forces to strike military and security targets in Iraq. They are joined by British forces. Their mission is to attack Iraq’s nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs and its military capacity to threaten its neighbors.”_

    Programs that didnt exist. Crazy neocon.

    Madeline Albright, on President Clinton bombing a WMD infastructure that didnt exist:
    _””I don’t think we’re pretending that we can get everything, so this is – I think – we are being very honest about what our ability is. We are lessening, degrading his ability to use this. The weapons of mass destruction are the threat of the future. I think the president explained very clearly to the American people that this is the threat of the 21st century. “I don’t think we’re pretending that we can get everything, so this is – I think – we are being very honest about what our ability is. We are lessening, degrading his ability to use this. The weapons of mass destruction are the threat of the future. I think the president explained very clearly to the American people that this is the threat of the 21st century._”

    Man those neocons are good. Seemed to have invented a time machine to advance their dastardly lies.

  58. _Startling how at the time he didnt seem to concerned with putting the record straight._

    At the time, he had a job under Bush. He was expected to sacrifice his own reputation for Bush and Cheney’s.

    _Has Tenant produced any documentation indicating his supposed doubts? Any correspondence? Tenant is a self-serving disgrace whos book was full of factual errors that make you gravely wonder about his ability to honestly look at his own record._

    Nobody has produced any documentation whatsoever for the “slam dunk” remark. Somebody told it to a journalist 2 years later, and Tenet saw it when the book came out.

    McLaughlin backs up Tenet’s claim. Rice says the comment did not influence the decision to invade. You say that Tenet was worthless. So if you want to think his remark got Bush etc to invade, is it that they didn’t know how incompetent he was, or was it that they did know but they let him influence them anyway? If it’s a choice between believing Tenet and believing Cheney, would you believe either of them?

    Any way you slice it, the claim that Tenet said the evidence was a “slam dunk” and that convinced Bush that the evidence was adequate, is bogus. Please stop making that claim.

    _The freaking DIRECTOR OF THE CIA CALLED IT A SLAM DUNK?_

    Whether he said that or not, whether you believe the liar who said 2 years later that he said it or whether you believe the man himself, or whether you don’t believe either one, it’s a worthless talking point. Please quit repeating it.

  59. I never cease to be amazed at how the responsibility for the disterous invasion of Iraq is always shifted somewhere other than where it squarely belongs.

    1. The Democrats thought the same thing.
    2. Tenet said it was a slam dunk.
    3. The Neo-cons: Our vision was correct but Bush did not implement it correctly.

    Etc. and so forth.

    Where is the administrations responsibility in this? Where is Cheney’s, Rumsfeld’s and the rest of that clique’s? How can they explain getting us slammed dunked into the middle of a domestic?

    They should face up to their errors and maybe open their minds to divergent opinions within their own party and from their older, more sober and wiser colleagues. Is this too much to ask?

    It is not a crime to admit that you made a mistake. It is also not a crime to change direction. We are verging on a revolt within the Republican Party against a blind adherence by the administration to the remnants of a totally bankrupt Neo-Con world view. It is well past the time that we should step back from it.

    There are calls for Benchmarks. How about the Administration making benchmarks for itself in Iraq starting with a clear delineation of the reasons why we are there?

    Again, we are irrelevant in an Iraq Hell bent on Civil War. We would do well to accept this and act accordingly.

  60. _”Any way you slice it, the claim that Tenet said the evidence was a “slam dunk” and that convinced Bush that the evidence was adequate, is bogus. Please stop making that claim.”_

    No, I think not, as much as it bothers you. Known neo-con Bob Woodward published the quote in his book Plan of Attack. THAT is documented. Tenet never ever objected to the term, nor distanced himself from the intelligence estimates HE signed off on, and certainly never went public to announce he was being bullied into lying by the WH in order to start a war. THAT might have made an interesting story.

    All we do know is when Tenet started to take heat after no WMDs were found and his career was over, all the sudden he remembers the context of his remarks (slimy, slimy remarks about misleading the American people if you accept his own account). The ONLY way Tenets recollection makes sense is if ‘selling the war’ to the American people was the subject of a meeting between the head of our intelligence apparatus and the president of the US and his advisors. Which is ludicrious if Tenet actually believed there was nothing to sell. So the guy is either wrong/misleading now, or he was a scumbag who didnt deserve the office then. Either way I dont intend to stop using that quote. If nother else the President deserved a better advisor.

    And btw, its pretty pathetic to expect the head of the CIA to do whatever the president tells him, including misleading Congress which is a felony. But im well aware of your view of our government and military.

  61. Folks,

    The matter of WMD isn’t just about the difficulty of perfect intelligence. Sadaam had an obligation to divest himself of WMD, and rather than doing so in a clear, open manner (as South Africa and the Ukraine had done) he played foolish games with the inspection regime. For that alone, he warranted being deposed.

  62. _If nother else the President deserved a better advisor._

    Yes, exactly. Bush could have replaced him with somebody more competent at any time, and didn’t. So who’s responsible for that?

    If I’m right about Tenet he was a sleazy sycophant who repeated what Cheney told him to and who — under orders — tried to sell the US public a pack of lies.

    If you’re right about Tenet he was a sleazy sycophant who did bad things that were a little bit different in detail. If Bush looked into Tenet’s heart and knew how bad he was, Bush should have replaced him before he did more harm. If he foold Bush….

    Any way you look at it, talking Slam Dunk doesn’t give Bush an excuse. It was Bush’s mistake, and it was a whopper.

  63. #60 from TOC:

    “Etc. and so forth.”

    “I never cease to be amazed at how the responsibility for the disterous invasion of Iraq is always shifted somewhere other than where it squarely belongs.”

    “Etc. and so forth.”

    1. The Democrats thought the same thing.
    2. Tenet said it was a slam dunk.
    3. The Neo-cons: Our vision was correct but Bush did not implement it correctly.

    “Etc. and so forth.”

    But, the invasion was a brilliant success. Swiftly and with little bloodshed in relation to the aims achieved, Saddam Hussein was removed from power, the Ba’athist regime in Iraq was permanently undone, and it became possible to disarm Iraq or as it turned our verify that Iraq had not rearmed.

    “Where is the administrations responsibility in this? Where is Cheney’s, Rumsfeld’s and the rest of that clique’s? How can they explain getting us slammed dunked into the middle of a domestic?

    George W. Bush (supported by Dick Cheney and others) was responsible for the fact that there was an invasion, and Donald Rumsfeld had a lot to do with its success.

    There’s no need for them to say anything – and I hope Donald Rumsfeld will not wrote a book.

    “They should face up to their errors and maybe open their minds to divergent opinions within their own party and from their older, more sober and wiser colleagues. Is this too much to ask?

    Yes. Donald Rumsfeld did his job and has moved on. There’s no need for him to say anything further. George W. Bush is still the American President. It’s his job to run things and not defer to others – such as who, anyway?

    “It is not a crime to admit that you made a mistake. It is also not a crime to change direction. We are verging on a revolt within the Republican Party against a blind adherence by the administration to the remnants of a totally bankrupt Neo-Con world view. It is well past the time that we should step back from it.”

    There’s a time when “admitting a mistake” can have more to do with putting your own popularity ahead of your former colleagues still in government, and I think we have gotten to that time.

    I think that Donald Rumsfeld is doing the right thing, and George Tenet and Colin Powell have done a wrong thing. Having clung to power without offering their resignations, after they moved out of the top rank they revealed that they had been skeptics opposed all along to policies that has subsequently become unpopular. I think that was disloyal, and they’ve said what was convenient for them all along. If they had been as opposed as they now say, apparently so opposed that they should not be blamed for whatever went wrong, they could have resigned.

    According to rumor, Donald Rumsefeld wanted to invade then get out fast, which I think would have been the best course. But he doesn’t say so, because that would not help his loyal former boss, George W. Bush. That’s loyalty. And I respect that.

    I think the war to democratize post-Saddam Iraq is horribly unwise and it should end. But, George W. Bush sees his duty differently.

    This is not the petty affair that the Bush-deranged make it out to be, with evil “neocons” conspiring to do ridiculous things because they are evil and stupid. It is a genuine tragedy, with good men doing their best, and making honest mistakes as we all do, but with big consequences.

    The main lesson I see in it this all that for the rest of the jihad wars it won’t be enough to elect leaders who are “tough” and “pro-war” or “pro-military” while consistently they misidentify who our enemies are, and consequently who we should trust, who we should be tough on, who we should make war on, and how we need to make war to beat this kind of enemy. That has just has led us into protracted bloody futility.

    We are running foul of Sun Tzu by refusing to know our enemy, even as he identifies himself with every “Allah hu akhbar!”

    “There are calls for Benchmarks. How about the Administration making benchmarks for itself in Iraq starting with a clear delineation of the reasons why we are there?

    George W. Bush has been perfectly clear on what he wants for Iraq: full democracy, peace and prosperity. And he’s strongly implied that anyone who thought that the people he was dreaming these benevolent dreams about were not in line with his aspirations for them are bigots and racists.

    The only problem is, for his plans to work and his vision to come to fruition his assumptions have to be true, and they’re wrong.

    “Again, we are irrelevant in an Iraq Hell bent on Civil War. We would do well to accept this and act accordingly.”

    Well yes, but both sides in politics have the basics hopelessly wrong now, so we have to be resigned to unfortunate events for a while.

  64. Mark Buehner–

    “bq.” First- your link doesnt work. Second, if it doesnt explain why Saddams chief nuclear weapons guy was in Nigeria it doesnt explain anything. Thirdly, it was called Desert Fox and up to 2000 Iraqis died in it.

    Sorry, didn’t realize the link didn’t work. Try this one–it works fine:

    http://www.theleftcoaster.com/archives/005001.php

    I assume you mean Niger, not Nigeria. Different countries. Uranium in Africa (and hence the ability to produce yellowcake) is largely confined to South Africa, Niger, Namibia and Gabon.

    “bq.” President Clinton:
    “Earlier today, I ordered America’s armed forces to strike military and security targets in Iraq. They are joined by British forces. Their mission is to attack Iraq’s nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs and its military capacity to threaten its neighbors.”

    Um, no. Not quite the same as saying he “went to war with Iraq,” your earlier statement. Clinton ordered a selective military strike on the basis of (in retrospect) uncertain intelligence–but it’s also fairly clear in retrospect that that intelligence had not been massaged or manipulated in any material way. But the downside was limited. And, given the purposes of the strike (to take out certain targets), it was a successful effort.

    Bush took the world (or much of it, anyway) to war on the basis of (in retrospect) uncertain intelligence. In retrospect (and even at the time) it was clear that some, indeed much, of the intelligence basis for this was being actively manipulated by members the Bush administration. Downside risks were large to begin with, and keep growing. And given the nebulousness of varied and changing rationales for the war, it’s not clear what constitutes a successful effort. The fact that Iraqi civilians and US forces cointinue to die at alraming rates suggests that any claims to success are tenuous at best, to be generous. Saying “Clinton went to war with Iraq” is incorrect, and somehow trying to imply that it’s the functional equivalent of what Bush initiated is misleading.

  65. #62 from Kirk Parker at 6:27 am on Jul 27, 2007

    “George W. Bush has been perfectly clear on what he wants for Iraq: full democracy, peace and prosperity.”

    There you have it. If this is the core of our policy in Iraq, it is a suicidal policy.

    1. It is naive and self defeating.
    2. It ties up our resources and diverts them from being used effectively against our enemies.
    3. It weakens our friends in the area.
    4. It strengthens our adversaries.
    5. It diverts us away from effectively facing up to threats throughout the reason and worldwide.

    What I am arguing is not that we should surrender, nor “lose” the war in Iraq, but rather stop following a ridiculous policy. I, for one do not care whether or not Iraq is democratic or prosperous. This may be an by-product of our policy, but it should never be our objective.

    Our policy should be based on what effectively serves our interests, period. The policy we are pursuing now, does not.

    If the above policy is the reason we are in Iraq, I seriously doubt that the American people would be willing to back it. The above quote appears to point out that there is no clearly delineated goal in Iraq. One day it is to defeat Al Queda, the next as you put it to bring peace and prosperity to Iraq.

    Tell me that it is to insure the industrialized access to oil supplies from the Gulf and you have me on board. Give me a hard headed Geopolitical strategy in the area, not Wilsonian pie-in the-sky nonsense.

  66. #64 from David Blue at 7:53 am on Jul 27, 2007

    But, the invasion was a brilliant success. Swiftly and with little bloodshed in relation to the aims achieved, Saddam Hussein was removed from power, the Ba’athist regime in Iraq was permanently undone, and it became possible to disarm Iraq or as it turned our verify that Iraq had not rearmed.
    *****************************************************************************

    I totally agree. Our Armed Forces performed flawlessly and should be commended for it. When I speak of the invasion, I meant the strategic policy behind the invasion (which was wrong headed), not to its tactical implementation (which was brilliant).

    By the way, Iraq was not disarmed as the ongoing Civil War and insurgency indicates.

  67. I think that Donald Rumsfeld is doing the right thing, and George Tenet and Colin Powell have done a wrong thing. Having clung to power without offering their resignations, after they moved out of the top rank they revealed that they had been skeptics opposed all along to policies that has subsequently become unpopular. I think that was disloyal, and they’ve said what was convenient for them all along. If they had been as opposed as they now say, apparently so opposed that they should not be blamed for whatever went wrong, they could have resigned.

    I fully agree with you about Tenet and Powell. They should have resigned in 2002 and presented their side of it then. The nation would be better off and possibly they’d be better off too.

    I’m not clear about Rumsfeld. I consider him a tragic figure. He wanted to transform the military, and it isn’t clear whether he knew how.

    The way that we know *works* is you start out making little experimental units for special purposes, and if htey work you expand them more, and if they keep working you keep expanding them, and eventually you start shrinking the traditional units. And if you get in a big war and the traditional stuff is no good, then you convert everything over. That’s how we got rid of battleships. That’s how we got rid of wooden warships. That’s how we started the air force. And it’s how we’re tending toward all-mechanised infantry. You can dump mechanised infantry on the ground to dig in while you move the transport away if that’s what you need, but you’re also likely to need infantry that’s more mobile than they get by walking or crawling.

    Ideally we’d slowly expand the special forces, and in the process a lot of the units wouldn’t be as “special” because we can’t find that many guys with so many skills. But the things we could train regular people to do, would get done by regular people under the special forces CoC and we’d eventually start shrinking the regular army stuff down to the size we needed. It would take a long time, but with a little luck we’d find out about our mistakes before they were giant mistakes.

    Rumsfeld wanted to do it quick and he wanted everybody to do it all his way. He assumed he knew how to do it and that he wasn’t making any mistakes. In a crisis that gets you quick results, and if you don’t have anything that works there isn’t much choice. But we had an army that worked and Rumsfeld wanted to quickly replace it with something he assumed would work, and he didn’t listen to people with experience, and maybe he didn’t listen to people who were trying out his ideas and running into problems. And then we had iraq come up, and Rumsfeld wanted to use it to showcase his new stuff — like Mitchell bombing the german ships to prove that planes could sink warships.

    He wasn’t interested in occupation at all, he was only interested in proving his theories. I don’t know whether he proved them or not. I heard the story that he didn’t, that he got into trouble and the regular army had to get him out. That might be true or it might be a story they put out to discredit him. Then the occupation started that he had no interest whatsoever in, and he was responsible for something he’d refused to plan for.

    _According to rumor, Donald Rumsefeld wanted to invade then get out fast, which I think would have been the best course. But he doesn’t say so, because that would not help his loyal former boss, George W. Bush. That’s loyalty. And I respect that._

    He’d have been a better SoD if he’d gotten his way, or if he’d come up with a plan, or even if he came up with some sort of workable plan now and suggested it to Bush. I hate it that Bush has dug us into a hole and is still digging, and loyalty to Bush has turned into disloyalty to the USA. I can’t respect that.

  68. #68 from Kirk Parker at 4:47 pm on Jul 27, 2007

    Point of order, TOC, your #66 references me but the quote is actually from someone else (#64).

    My apologies. I do not know how to edit it, or if I can.

  69. #64 from David Blue at 7:53 am on Jul 27, 2007

    “George W. Bush has been perfectly clear on what he wants for Iraq: full democracy, peace and prosperity.”

    There you have it. If this is the core of our policy in Iraq, it is a suicidal policy.

    1. It is naive and self defeating.
    2. It ties up our resources and diverts them from being used effectively against our enemies.
    3. It weakens our friends in the area.
    4. It strengthens our adversaries.
    5. It diverts us away from effectively facing up to threats throughout the reason and worldwide.

    What I am arguing is not that we should surrender, nor “lose” the war in Iraq, but rather stop following a ridiculous policy. I, for one do not care whether or not Iraq is democratic or prosperous. This may be an by-product of our policy, but it should never be our objective.

    Our policy should be based on what effectively serves our interests, period. The policy we are pursuing now, does not.

    If the above policy is the reason we are in Iraq, I seriously doubt that the American people would be willing to back it. The above quote appears to point out that there is no clearly delineated goal in Iraq. One day it is to defeat Al Queda, the next as you put it to bring peace and prosperity to Iraq.

    Tell me that it is to insure the industrialized access to oil supplies from the Gulf and you have me on board. Give me a hard headed Geopolitical strategy in the area, not Wilsonian pie-in the-sky nonsense.
    *********************************************************************************
    #69 from J Thomas at 5:56 pm on Jul 27, 2007

    I was smack in the middle of the tech boom and bust in the late ’90s and early ’00s. the portrait that you paint of Rumsfeld actions vis-a-vis the “New Army” parallels the mistakes that tons of companies made during the Dot.com period by rushing their products to market. Possibly great idea were buried by too rapid a rush to deployment.

    “I hate it that Bush has dug us into a hole and is still digging, and loyalty to Bush has turned into disloyalty to the USA. I can’t respect that.”

    This expresses my sentiments, as well.

  70. #73 from Nortius Maximus at 3:40 am on Jul 29, 2007

    I didn’t think that it was a crime for innicc, to poke some fun at our bunch of armchair generals, secretaries of Defense, Secretaries of State and Presidents at the end of a very involved and intense debate.

    I thought that point was not too difficult to infer. innicc was poking fun at everyone who posted in the thread, including myself. Did you look at where his links led?

  71. #73 from Nortius Maximus at 3:40 am on Jul 29, 2007

    TOC, I’m fresh out of Kleenex.

    I suggest you do some deep breathing and consider what points, if any, you actually want to make… and then make them. Please.

    ***********************************************************************************

    What points are you trying to make. If you need some more Kleenex, I will send you some.

    As far as I can see you have yet to make a comment on this thread. Has the cat got your tongue?

  72. TOC:

    bq. Did you look at where his links led?

    I can’t determine if you, or this other person, read and understood the WoC “comments policy.”:http://www.windsofchange.net/archives/003367.php

    As near as I can determine, this other person’s post was a dump of bare URLs.

    Sp*m is deprecated here, as are bare URLs. Deleting the post was the entry author’s (AL’s) call. I can’t speak for AL, but my view is: WoC has as a predicate the presentation of plain text substantive content. If it looks like spamdexing and smells like spamdexing, it’s “spamdexing.”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spamexing

    [ Amendation: Corrected jargon –NM ]

  73. TOC:

    bq. As far as I can see you have yet to make a comment on this thread. Has the cat got your tongue?

    Yes. Exactly!

    Being a Winds Marshal, I’d prefer to take the rest of this sort of discussion offline. That pesky old cat. Please contact me at

    nortius dot maximus at windsofchange dot net

    Yours for better cat herding,

    Nort

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