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November 04, 2003

WHY ARE WE IN IRAQ?....OK, I'm going to struggle through some stuff here, but I'm pretty sure I have a point to make. Maybe.

Yesterday Gregg Easterbrook repeated an argument that he's made before about our occupation of Iraq:

Why are we in Iraq? If the reason really, truly was that we really, truly believed Saddam Hussein possessed banned weapons, then our assault on Iraq was justified, but now we must leave immediately, as no banned weapons have been found.

....Either the Bush aministration must admit that it was wrong about weapons of mass destruction and articulate different--possibly valid--reasons for the occupation of Iraq, or we must leave immediately.

When I first read this I just shook my head. Was he deliberately pretending to be naive? Or does he really not know why we're in Iraq? Or what? After all, the underlying motivations have been extensively debated in the blogosphere, and you gotta figure that if bloggers have figured this stuff out, so has Gregg.

Then I see the evening news, and there's Bush solemnly telling us that America will never cut and run. There's too much at stake. And in the New York Times today, there's a good example of the kind of thing he's been saying for the past few months:

"A peaceful and free Iraq is essential to the security of the United States," Mr. Bush said. "This will help change the world in a positive way so that years from now, people will sit back and say, 'Thank goodness America stayed the course and did what was necessary to win this battle in the war on terror.' "

...."[Saddam is] no longer running the country," Mr. Bush said. "He's no longer got rape rooms; no longer raping young girls or having young girls raped," he said, continuing, "He's no longer torturing people; he's no longer developing mass graves."

Do you see the problem? Although bloggers and the political media have been talking for a while about the allegedly real reasons we're in Iraq — drain the swamp, war of civilizations, reduce pressure on Israel's flank, the domino theory of bringing democracy to the Middle East, etc. etc. — it's true that George Bush has not once put his name to any of this stuff, has he?

Nobody talks about WMD anymore, of course, and Cheney's the only one who still pushes the al-Qaeda nonsense (although a bit half-heartedly even in his case). So what's left? Saddam was a bad man and we're obligated to finish the reconstruction job now that we've gone in there and blown the place up. But that's not exactly a message to stir the blood, is it? After all, if the only public reason for going to war is limited to changing the governance of one particular odious patch of desert in the Middle East out of dozens, how many Americans are really likely to stay interested over the long haul?

So here's what I'm getting at: maybe Easterbrook has a point. Why doesn't Bush tell us why it's important to stay in Iraq? I mean really tell us. Not just in negative terms ("we won't be scared away") but in positive terms of what his goal is. What does he really, truly want to accomplish?

And why are his conservative supporters letting him get away with staying silent? Surely they must know that America's willingness to expend hundreds of lives and billions of dollars depends on believing that our goal is worth it. The longer that Bush avoids talking about it, the more likely it is that public support will decline and the cherished goals of the national greatness conservatives will go up in smoke.

It's a dangerous game they're playing. The neocons, who seem like they're still the strongest faction among the policy elite, have their own set of reasons for wanting to occupy Iraq, but they're afraid to push them at a mass level because they know perfectly well that the American public won't buy them. This means that the booster-in-chief is limited to lame explanations that are long on emotional heartstrings but short on substance — explanations that over time are becoming less and less satisfying to Joe and Jane Sixpack.

So the public won't buy their real reasons, and increasingly they aren't buying the smokescreen either. It's quite a pickle they have themselves in, isn't it?

Posted by Kevin Drum at November 4, 2003 05:27 PM | TrackBack


Comments

What IS "the course"???

Define that. Otherwise what the hell are we sticking to?

Posted by: spoon at November 4, 2003 05:33 PM | PERMALINK

"What does he really, truly want to accomplish?"

He wants to get elected in 2004. That's all.

Iraq doesn't matter.


"It's quite a pickle they have themselves in, isn't it?"

No. It's quite a pickle they have put all of us in. It's going to be hell on the person who cleans up after them.

Posted by: tristero at November 4, 2003 05:35 PM | PERMALINK

Meanwhile the friendly dictator in Uzbekistan has our full unqualified support. Hypocrites.

Posted by: Troy at November 4, 2003 05:37 PM | PERMALINK

Why is this so hard to understand?

You went into Iraq because it was judged that the risk of Saddam providing chem/bio weapons for use against continental USA was too high.

Turns out the risk wasn't that high. But nobody knew that at the time.

Now you're into full-scale political recrimination and historical revisionism on both sides. Both sides spinning stuff like crazy because of '04.

It's transparent, and pathetic.

This blog is typical (OK, it's avowedly partisan, but...). I really don't know why I read it actually.

Posted by: am at November 4, 2003 05:46 PM | PERMALINK

IMO not having a plan is the strategy. Notice how Bush went to the UN after the Dems had urged that course for weeks, and got the credit as well (which was partly the Dems fault, louder praise for Bush upon finally seeing the light would have been appropriate).
Staying the course is so obviously right, that a response is almost impossible. If Bush stated the reasons clearly, the Dems could over an alternative, but as it is they can only criticise, and IMO the strategy is to paint them as "Bad News Bears" (term by Pandagon). Same think for the plan in post-war Iraq. It isn't there, so one can't criticise it.

Posted by: markus at November 4, 2003 05:47 PM | PERMALINK

How uncivil of you to point out the truth. Don't you have any manners?

And Ron is sure to complain that since you fail to offer a solution to the huge mess bushco has created, you have no right at all to criticize him.

In fact, your criticism is the reason why things are going so badly. You only focus on the negative and now the enemy is emboldened and starting the war up again.

The truth is, things are not so bad. We've had a few bad days, but we will never run. We will Iraqify instead and troops will commence withdrawing just in time for the election. But we will never run. Maybe slink and crawl. But never cut and run.

Posted by: obe at November 4, 2003 05:48 PM | PERMALINK

"am", I don't think it's that obvious why we went in given that most of our intelligence indicated that there were, in fact, no hard data showing that Saddam had WMD. Also, there were no data indicating Saddam had intentions to disseminate weapons. Projections based on pre-1998 data? Yep, if you're going to go pre-emptive, there's nothing like flying blind.

The only "intelligence" group that suggested these things was the Team B operation set up within the Pentagon by Rumsfeld and run by Feith and Wolfowitz.

So, the administration single-sourced its intelligence, and surprise!, they got it wrong.

You're right; "Why is this so hard to understand?"

Posted by: Jeff Boatright at November 4, 2003 05:56 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,
At what point isn't it worth asking these questions anymore?

Posted by: MattB at November 4, 2003 05:57 PM | PERMALINK

You guys went in Iraq:
#1 "we have proof of wmds": this is what Dubbya told the world
#2 "we have proof of terrorist links"
Iraq was not a threat. Meanwhile OBL is on the loose, and the US got a memory hole.


Posted by: Frenchy at November 4, 2003 05:57 PM | PERMALINK

Paraphrasing newspaper man Steve Martin (from the movie "Godzilla 1985"): Rhetoric, logic and reason will only confuse and antagonize the neo-cons. We've got to learn how to deal with them, like a hurricane or an earthquake."
--ventura county, ca

Posted by: Darryl Pearce at November 4, 2003 06:00 PM | PERMALINK

"You went into Iraq because it was judged that the risk of Saddam providing chem/bio weapons for use against continental USA was too high."

Wrong - *Bush* put us into Iraq. After pressuring the experts to get what the reports that he wanted.

"Turns out the risk wasn't that high. But nobody knew that at the time."

Which is why Cheney had to go to the CIA to pressure analysts, why Rumsfield had to set up a book-cooking intel shop in the Pentagon, why 8,000 pages of Iraqi documents needed to be censored, et cetera ad nauseum.

"Now you're into full-scale political recrimination and historical revisionism on both sides. Both sides spinning stuff like crazy because of '04.

It's transparent, and pathetic.

This blog is typical (OK, it's avowedly partisan, but...). I really don't know why I read it actually."

Ah, right-wing projection - accuse the left of doing what the right is doing. Plus the faux neutrality ('...on both sides'). Right-wingers pretending to be neutrals.

Posted by: Barry at November 4, 2003 06:03 PM | PERMALINK

I seem to remember that Bush gave a speech last fall or winter in which he did state the idea that creating a stable Democracy in Iraq would make the middle east or something like that. I don't have time to search for it now, but I do think he did at least put his name to the idea before the war started.

I am not defending Bush, and there is no doubt that he and the rest of the gang deceived the country into a war it would not have wanted had people not been told that Iraq had WMDs.

Posted by: David Perlman at November 4, 2003 06:04 PM | PERMALINK

am: Turns out the risk wasn't that high. But nobody knew that at the time.

You're kidding, right? There was plenty of skepticism at the time, and very little evidence to the contrary. We had U.N. weapons inspectors that had uncovered nothing significant. We had statements from defectors (including Saddam's son-in-law) that the old weapons programs were dead and the weapons destroyed. We had twelve years of sanctions and import/export controls.

Rebutting this we had, what? A few ambiguous scraps of questionable intelligence and a lot of suspicion.

While it wasn't certain that there was no threat (or no potential threat), there clearly wasn't enough to justify a full-scale war and a price tag of almost $200 billion (so far) and thousands of ruined lives.

This isn't to say that there was no risk. Of course, there was some risk posed by Saddam. But we live in a risky world and we can't launch a war every time we get nervous.

Posted by: scottd at November 4, 2003 06:06 PM | PERMALINK

Jeff, you're spinning again.

Of *course* there was doubt about the status of his weapons, and of *course* there was doubt about his preparedness to hand them over to terrorists (althought Saddam's admiration for the 9/11 attacks reduces the latter).

The question is: how much certainty do you want? Bear in mind that the cost of being wrong is masses of Americans dying a horrid death. All it takes is a couple of Jihadis, a Cessna and can of anthrax powder.

So you tell me at what level of probability do you decide to rely upon Saddam Hussein's goodwill for the safety of American civilians? 10%? 40%?

Posted by: am at November 4, 2003 06:06 PM | PERMALINK

Locker room speeches are much easier than game plans. Maybe Markus is on to something about the no-plan plan, but is anyone in Bushco that clever?

Posted by: C.J.Colucci at November 4, 2003 06:11 PM | PERMALINK

a can of anthrax powder

which Saddam couldn't provide, since the stuff we gave him in the 80's hadn't been weaponized and has a short shelf-life anyway.

Where is the tonnes of anthrax now, btw? Before the war, people like me were saying the surest way for any existing stocks of unconventional munitions to fall into the hands of terrorists would be to try to "take Saddam out" like we did...

Posted by: Troy at November 4, 2003 06:14 PM | PERMALINK

Coincidentally, I decided to agree with Easterbrook yesterday evening. Until Bush gives a plausible goddamn reason to stick around and get soldiers killed, with a reasonable map of how we'll eventually get out, my official position is to turn it all over to the UN and get out.

Posted by: Jason McCullough at November 4, 2003 06:19 PM | PERMALINK

am: the problem is that as the inspections continued, it became more and more clear that Saddam probably didn't have any WMD. So if WMD was truly the reason for war, Bush would have been OK with further inspections and probably would have supported the French plan for making them even more intrusive.

What's more, the postwar behavior was very odd. They just didn't act as if they thought there was WMD there.

In other words, there are pretty good reasons to doubt that WMD was the real underlying motivation for war. Which naturally leads one to wonder: what was?

Posted by: Kevin Drum at November 4, 2003 06:19 PM | PERMALINK

377 known american dead x 10 seconds/name = over an hour to read aloud all the dead in this war, so far.

Posted by: Troy at November 4, 2003 06:19 PM | PERMALINK

Of *course* there was doubt about the status of his weapons, and of *course* there was doubt about his preparedness to hand them over to terrorists (althought Saddam's admiration for the 9/11 attacks reduces the latter).

All the more reason then to have given the U.N. inspections room to play out before assuming the worst and going to war. Don't forget the claims made before the war either about mobile bio-chem labs that turned out to be utterly bogus, and which weren't even accepted at face value at the time they were made.

The question is: how much certainty do you want? Bear in mind that the cost of being wrong is masses of Americans dying a horrid death. All it takes is a couple of Jihadis, a Cessna and can of anthrax powder.

When it comes to making war, the bar should be high. There are plenty of countries in the world who don't like us much and even pose a greater threat than Iraq ever did, but we don't go making war on them for no good reason.

So you tell me at what level of probability do you decide to rely upon Saddam Hussein's goodwill for the safety of American civilians? 10%? 40%?

As I recall, Saddam Hussein was deterred from using his chemical weapons in the Gulf War when he had the opportunity to use them, even on Israel. There was no advantage for him to give such weapons to terrorists either, and keep in mind that Saddam Hussein was despised by Osama bin Laden.

Posted by: David W. at November 4, 2003 06:20 PM | PERMALINK

"So you tell me at what level of probability do you decide to rely upon Saddam Hussein's goodwill for the safety of American civilians? 10%? 40%?"

AM, for the appropriate response to your query, see:

http://www.mnftiu.cc/mnftiu.cc/war27.html

Posted by: obe at November 4, 2003 06:23 PM | PERMALINK

Well, to quote Buddha: The evil done by the selfish crushes them as a diamond breaks a hard gem. As a vine overpowers a tree, evil overpowers the evil-doer, trapping him in a situation only his enemy would wish him in.

Then there's Edgar Allen Poe with the same sort of image: trapped in a room, with the walls closing in, about to crush you.

Here's what I wish: for everyone in the world except Bush and his gaggle of empire-dreamers, I wish mercy; for the gaggle and the gaggle-in-chief, I wish justice.

Posted by: Raenelle at November 4, 2003 06:24 PM | PERMALINK

You know, I just got finished reading the pages in Blumenthal's Clinton Wars about Kosovo, and the contrast between true horror being inflicted on a population and Saddam the Tyrant are breathtaking. I am not arguing that Saddam aint no bad man, but nothing was surely acute. On the other hand, faced with some genuine evil in action, the Delay's wanted to do jack.

Posted by: Vital Information at November 4, 2003 06:32 PM | PERMALINK

I am not arguing that Saddam aint no bad man

The difference is liberation and invasion. Liberated peoples welcome you and essentially "have your back".

Iraq is a mix of liberated and invaded peoples. Plus the political power bases of the situation are very unclear -- just like Afghanistan. Underscoring everything is our occupation, which while Macarthurian in character is overstepping its mandate and rightful powers.

Posted by: Troy at November 4, 2003 06:38 PM | PERMALINK

Um when did Saddam rape little girls? Is this new?

Posted by: Wellbasically at November 4, 2003 06:42 PM | PERMALINK

Shut up and eat your chocolate ration.

Posted by: Troy at November 4, 2003 06:43 PM | PERMALINK

Troy, Saddam's own generals are reported to believe that he had WMD's.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A55022-2003Nov2?language=printer

So it is quite reasonable that the US government feared the same thing.

Posted by: am at November 4, 2003 06:46 PM | PERMALINK

No justifiable reason remains explaining why we went there. No clear explanation how we are going to get out of there. Is there a trend here?

The only "policy" behind the mess that got us to this point was neocon fantasies about remaking the Middle East in our image, as espoused most clearly by Wolfowitz. We know how much credibility that policy still has -- see Kevin's earlier post "Wishful Thinking." That policy predicted near trouble free post war with troops mostly gone in 6 months and Iraqi oil and goodwill for our invasion solving remaining problems.

Given that this White House basically has no policy for anything -- only constituents to please or voters to manipulate -- why expect that to change now that all pretense of policy has been stripped from this activity?

Expect the most craven and manipulative plan to save the Shrub's ass on this one -- that's the policy of this administration and its experts.

I'm starting to believe in the likelihood of the "March surprise" scenario, or as "obe" puts it even better, the slink and crawl strategy (since we can't cut and run).

After all, if Rove is calling the policy shots when it threatens Bush politically (as he reportedly does), wouldn't his best scenario be a slow pull out in months immediately before election and another phony declaration of "Mission Accomplished?" What better way to avoid answering these policy questions, preteneding to win, and avoiding political consequences of failures?

Posted by: DMBeaster at November 4, 2003 06:47 PM | PERMALINK

Barry, every intelligence service in the western world believed that Saddam probably had stockpiles.

And stockpiles are fairly irrelevant here, we're mainly talking capability, and we know he had capability. It comes down to risk of intent, and, rightly or wrongly, that was judged too high.

Interesting that you accuse me of deceit becasue I disagree with you, and see fit to correct you.

Would you be talking this way if it was President Clinton who went into Iraq? And he would have done so - he has said as much.


Posted by: am at November 4, 2003 06:50 PM | PERMALINK

I assume we know what he had (at one time) because we had the receipts of sale.

The linked article is rather long. Is there a particular quote that stands out to you?

Note that chemical weapons, while nasty, are not effective WMD's.

Posted by: Troy at November 4, 2003 06:51 PM | PERMALINK

scottd:

"This isn't to say that there was no risk. Of course, there was some risk posed by Saddam. But we live in a risky world and we can't launch a war every time we get nervous."

yes, this is very true. And a judgement call was made, and we would be intellectually dishonest to evaluate that judgement call in light of information which became available later on.

Was it right? Was the risk high enough? Hard to say, but it is *far* from an open and shut case.

Posted by: am at November 4, 2003 06:52 PM | PERMALINK

Here's why we're in Iraq, according to the PNAC:

The removal of the present Iraqi regime from power will lay the foundation for achieving three vital goals: disarming Iraq of all its weapons of mass destruction stocks and production capabilities; establishing a peaceful, stable, democratic government in Iraq; and contributing to the democratic development of the wider Middle East.

1. Oops! SH WAS disarmed, CIA's bad.

2. Best achieved at gunpoint.

3. Iran, Syria, you're next.

Posted by: Sovok at November 4, 2003 06:53 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin:

yeah, I think your Gov't was just scared shitless about losing thousands more civilians on their watch. Maybe they overreacted. We shall never know.

But they could tell themselves "hey, if there's nothing there, we at least give the Iraqis a shot at a decent live". I suspect that if Saddam's human rights record was similar to (say) Syria's, the invasion would not have happened.

Posted by: am at November 4, 2003 06:56 PM | PERMALINK

As long as Bush has the humanitarian issue, he will have enough to justify. They humanitarian issue splits the antiwar left from the prowar left. The antiwar left is asking the prowar side to give up its humanitarian ideals. I was against the war and I can see that they will win this argument every time.

I happen to know of a public document from the Bush administration that demolishes the humanitarian argument, but nobody has ever used it. Maybe it's too mindbending.

Posted by: wellbasically at November 4, 2003 06:57 PM | PERMALINK

So you still didn't finish this Kevin.

So the public won't buy their real reasons, and increasingly they aren't buying the smokescreen either. It's quite a pickle they have themselves in, isn't it?

Are you that saying Iraqi liberation is another smokescreen? Why is Bush in Iraq? I wonder when the US is going to get around to that answer. What are all those military trooper dying for? Hey maybe it's oil and gas control ya think-but I'm just asking.

Posted by: Cheryl at November 4, 2003 06:59 PM | PERMALINK

David:

"As I recall, Saddam Hussein was deterred from using his chemical weapons in the Gulf War when he had the opportunity to use them, even on Israel."

Yes. But in that case it was known where the attack came from. With a sneak terrorist attack there is deniability.

OK, anthrax is to some extent traceable; depends where the seed stocks come from; I don't believe it's too hard to get them. The hard part is the weaponisation, and Saddam had the people and the knowhow.

Posted by: am at November 4, 2003 07:00 PM | PERMALINK

Would you be talking this way if it was President Clinton who went into Iraq?

Of course. ~400 US dead and counting, thousands maimed, tens of thousands of Iraqi dead, dehoused, orphaned, $100B+ appropriated away, and all for a severely de-stabilized Iraq and Middle East.

Not a successful enterprise.

Posted by: Troy at November 4, 2003 07:01 PM | PERMALINK

AM said it. The importance of this cannot be overstated.

Bush is responsble for protecting Americans from a terrorist attack. Sadaam is a homicidal madman known to have amassed huge stockpiles of chemical weapons. Someone has attacked the United States with anthrax. We still don't know who was behind it.

It's easy for us to second-guess Bush's judgment call, and his evaluation of the intelligence. But we're not sitting behind the desk in the Oval Office. I submit that Sadaam's weapons would look far more menacing if we were in Bush's shoes.

As it happened, the overwhelming consensus of the intelligence community may have been wrong. Perhaps Bush was mistaken. But he acted in good faith. He was only trying to protect us.

Posted by: Joe Schmoe at November 4, 2003 07:02 PM | PERMALINK

Troy:

"The linked article is rather long. Is there a particular quote that stands out to you?"

yup:


"The only consistent pattern we've gotten -- 100 percent consistent -- is that each commander says, 'My unit didn't have WMD, but the one to my right or left did,' " said the senior U.S. official involved. This has led some American interrogators to theorize that Hussein may have bluffed not only neighboring governments and the United States, but his own restive generals.

Posted by: am at November 4, 2003 07:02 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah yeah yeah... that's all nice, but why live in the past? howsabout the future??


What I want to know is: WHAT IS THE COURSE???


Push that question instead of this persecution y'all are running. Can't change the past. Even harder to use it. Work with the future. It's all you've got.

Posted by: spoon at November 4, 2003 07:03 PM | PERMALINK

The hard part is the weaponisation, and Saddam had the people and the knowhow.

This I agree with, but think/thought the case for continued engagement (ie inspections) was the better of two options.

Sending in the marines should be the last resort.

Posted by: Troy at November 4, 2003 07:03 PM | PERMALINK

Why are we arguing this? It's irrelevant either way.

Posted by: wellbasically at November 4, 2003 07:03 PM | PERMALINK

One word for AM...

TUWAITHA! The nuclear waste storage facility at Tuwaitha in Iraq was known, monitored, and supervised by the IAEA - and known to the world. We knew that those tons of radioactive waste would make a great terrorist's dirty bomb. Yet, when the war was underway, and we passed the facility, we failed to secure or guard it. We were busy guarding the Ministry of Oil and destroying monuments.

When we finally got to Tuwaitha, we found the place ransacked. Moste of the waste was gone, the locals were dying from radiation poisoning, and people were using radioactive drums to hold drinking water.

If we were interested in keeping radioactive materrials or other toxic agents out of the hands of terrorists, shouldn't we have secured the ONE KNOWN PLACE IN IRAQ THAT WE KNEW TO CONTAIN NUCLEAR MATERIAL?!?!?!?! WTF?

Why is it so hard for the conservative true believers to understand? The same guy with the same rape rooms was our FRIEND 13 years ago! Hell, THERE ARE PICTURES OF OUR SECRETARY OF DEFENSE SHAKING HIS HAND!!!! We were giving Saddam weapons and aid while he was raping, pillaging, and gassing the people of Halabja. We still support cruel dictators around the world.

The reason has nothing to do with the shiny happy "Ding-Dong, Saddam is Gone!" picture the administration is trying to display. It is an insult to the thousands of people that died in this war to lie about our ultimate reasons for this preemptive strike.

I think that a Democratic Iraq will be a great thing, but I seriously doubt that the people in charge have the will to stick it out. The cost will be enourmous, and their goal of having an American vassal state may not work as well as they hope. I hope they don't simply bug out - kick out the journalists, and let a different Iraqi strongman be our enforcer. Eventually Iraq will fall down the memory hole, and people will simply assume that everything is hunky-dory. Amnesty International will still document the human rights abuses, but the public will be conveniently ignorant of all of that.

Republican dishonesty makes me sick.

Posted by: Scott at November 4, 2003 07:03 PM | PERMALINK

The whole "WMD as threat to U.S." argument never made sense to me.

First, the term "WMD" seems more like propaganda than a meaningful descriptive category. Lumping chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons together makes it easier to invoke fear by failing to discriminate between a mustard gas shell and a hydrogen bomb. Mustard gas is a horrible weapon, but so is a cluster bomb (non-WMD). Neither of them approaches the carnage of a 10 MTon H-bomb.

We had no evidence of a credible nuclear threat last year -- but the status of biological and chemical weapons was more ambiguous. However, even allowing that Saddam may have possessed bio/chem weapons, what exactly was the threat to the U.S.?

Chemical weapons are notoriously difficult to use in a tactical offensive way. Weather conditions make their efficacy uncertain, countermeasures are readily available, and they can cause problems for the attackers. Using them in open warfare is a good way to rally support for your opponent. Using them against U.S. forces is a good way to invite indiscriminant destruction. There are good reasons why these weapons have been rarely used since WWI -- and they don't include an inordinant respect for international treaties on the part of the bad guys. Saddam's best use for these weapons was to control his internal enemies (where he would have more control over the battlefield) or as a deterrent to his neighbors. The idea that he would somehow attack the U.S. with them was ludicrous.

The possibility that he would slip a few shells (or vials) to malicious third-parties also seemed remote. The risks of doing so would be huge because he would no longer control those weapons. They could wind up in his enemies' hands. If they were used against the U.S., they might be traced back to him and now we would really have a reason for a war that he would surely lose. That seems like a high cost, what benefit would justify that cost in Saddam's mind?

I'm not asserting that the WMD threat was zero, but it's hard to see how it stood out against the myriad threads we face everyday. If our response to every nonzero threat is to launch a war, we're going to be very busy, very lonely, and very broke.

Posted by: scottd at November 4, 2003 07:07 PM | PERMALINK

First question to Bush in the first Presidential debate next fall should be: "Please explain why we invaded Iraq?"

Well, maybe second. Maybe the first should be, "Who blew Valerie Plame's CIA cover?"

Posted by: alias at November 4, 2003 07:08 PM | PERMALINK

Scottd, you are right about chemical weapons, but biological weapons represent a very serious danger.

A little vial of anthrax really can kill out 200,00 - 400,000 people. It's that lethal. A contagious disease like smallpox can infect almost a million people within a few weeks.

The New Yorker had a really good article on this six or seven years ago. Both the US and the Russians did a number of tests back in the 50's (the Russians were still doing them through the 80's) which involved the spraying of anthrax over civillian populations. The death estimates were in the hundreds of thousands.

These weapons don't lead to Armageddon or anything -- even a contagious disease such as smallpox will die out evntually, that's just one of the facts of epidemieology. We're not talking the bubonic plague here. Nonetheless, we are talking about hundreds of thousands of deaths. That's very frightening. If the intelligence is ambiguous, sometimes you have to act anyway. The potential for disaster is too great to sit on your hands.

Posted by: Joe Schmoe at November 4, 2003 07:12 PM | PERMALINK

oops meant the "simulated spraying of anthrax." I know the Russians actually sprayed some once. I believe the British did, too, during WWII. The island was off-limits to humans for years thereafter.

Posted by: Joe Schmoe at November 4, 2003 07:13 PM | PERMALINK

Sadaam is a homicidal madman known to have amassed huge stockpiles of chemical weapons

1. Sadaam[sic] is a homicidal madman.

BUT

known to have amassed huge stockpiles of chemical weapons

Do you know something we don't? If you know this PLEASE give your info to GWB - he desperately needs it!

Be a patriot! Don't keep it to yourself!

Posted by: Sovok at November 4, 2003 07:14 PM | PERMALINK

Sovok, this isn't funny. It isn't a game of political "gotcha." "Where is the WMD" and "where is Osama," do not equal "where is the middle-class tax cut," or "where are the Whitewater billing records?" These are very serious questions and deserve to be treated as such.

The consensus of every major international intelligence agency, and every single Clinton administration intelligence offical, was that that Iraq had failed to account for its weapons and continued to evade the UN inspections process. This consensus may have been wrong. But it wasn't just made up.

Posted by: Joe Schmoe at November 4, 2003 07:18 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, I'm just cynical enough to think that markus is right. Bush won't commit to a goal for invading Iraq because as soon as he does, he opens himself up to assessment of how well he's meeting that goal. Then we can actually judge whether his Iraq policy is failing or succeeding.

(It reminds me of the way that Don Rumsfeld tap-dances around the question of how many troops were necessary for Iraq, how long are they going to be there, etc., etc. He knows that as soon as he gives a figure, he's vulnerable to possibly being mistaken, and moreover the public may not like it if they knew the truth.)

However, the worse alternative is that Bush himself doesn't really know why he invaded Iraq. After all, it was just something God (and no, I don't mean Dick Cheney) told him to do (according to Ha'aretz); and who questions God?

Added to that is that Bush prides himself on not being introspective. It may be no more than that Bush felt like doing it, so he did.

Anyway, I wish the media would start pushing the point harder that there is no defined mission in Iraq at this point. Instead of letting Bush get away with IMPLYING what our mission is, as he does in Kevin's quote, they should get him to be specific -- and if he doesn't, report that he refuses to answer the question.

Posted by: DanM at November 4, 2003 07:21 PM | PERMALINK

I think the evidence showed that the Iraqis never managed to weaponize Anthrax.

In any case, why are my friends on the antiwar side arguing this? Do these guys write like people who couldn't find some other reason? It's irrelevant. A lot of Iraqis died for a mistake, but who cares?

Posted by: wellbasically at November 4, 2003 07:24 PM | PERMALINK

I think that the Democratic campaign theme for 2004 should be "He screwed it up -- we're going to have to fix it". Dems should not be expected to make everything wonderful and shouldn't promise to. The message should just be -- don't let him screw up any more stuff.

Posted by: Zizka at November 4, 2003 07:26 PM | PERMALINK

Joe: I read the New Yorker article, too. No doubt about it, biological weapons are scary, but you still need a credible threat before you launch a war. The fear that someone might do something is not enough. You need some evidence that someone has the capability and motivation to do so -- and that motivation has to go beyond "they hate us". There has to be some way that the net effect is going to benefit the attacker. You also need some evidence that they are at least moving into an attack posture.

I know that's not a very satisfying rebuttal. It leaves a lot of uncertainty and opportunity for miscalculation (welcome to the real world). But what's the alternative? Do we lay waste every time we get nervous? If everyone adopts that policy, the world is going to be much more dangerous.

Posted by: scottd at November 4, 2003 07:26 PM | PERMALINK

Joe Schmoe:

The consensus of every major international intelligence agency, and every single Clinton administration intelligence offical, was that that Iraq had failed to account for its weapons and continued to evade the UN inspections process.

This is a logical fallacy repeated by admin. supporters every day. Every gov't in the world agreed that Saddam still had not accounted for all his stockpiles, and therefore assumed he still had some. This does not logically lead to a decision to unilaterally occupy Iraq, thus risking our own prestige and economic well-being, greater terrorism, and greater instability.

Whether he had accounted for stockpiles is a different question from how old the stockpiles would be, whether the were weaponized or had delivery systems, whether there was ongoing production, etc. A sound analysis could have led us to a range of actions: greater sanctions, military-backed sanctions, surgical strikes, blockades, covert action, etc.

Just because the UN and the Clinton administration agreed that stocks were unaccounted for doesn't prove your case. They chose other remedies. W. chose the one that actually cost American lives.

Posted by: Amitava Mazumdar at November 4, 2003 07:29 PM | PERMALINK

Troy writes: 377 known american dead x 10 seconds/name = over an hour to read aloud all the dead in this war, so far.

I can't believe the sorts of distortions of the facts perpetrated by liberals, to try to make things look much worse than they actually are. In fact, the average American name can be read in less that two seconds, meaning that your estimate is off by a factor of 5, at least.

Posted by: Daryl McCullough at November 4, 2003 07:30 PM | PERMALINK

I know Daryl. It's up to us on the antiwar side to be responsible and sober in our arguments. Throwing around such assertions is unwise and indefensible.

Posted by: wellbasically at November 4, 2003 07:32 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, there was a consensus that all of SH's known stocks were unaccounted for - except for the nuclear.

The unaccounted for stocks were "several tonnes" of VX left over from the 1983-88 Iraq war (when he was our "friend"), and 8,500 liters of anthrax, from the same period.

SH declared that he destroyed them in 1991, but could not produce evidence - he was attempting to quatify the amount of material destroyed using soil sample assays at the dump sites, a process which was ended by the invasion.

This was the "evidence".

Here's how GWB exaggerated it:

"The Iraqi regime . . . possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons. It is seeking nuclear weapons. We know that the regime has produced thousands of tons of chemical agents, including mustard gas, sarin nerve gas, VX nerve gas. " GWB 10/7/2002

"We've also discovered through intelligence that Iraq has a growing fleet of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to disperse chemical or biological weapons across broad areas" - GWB 10/7/2002

"I am absolutely convinced, based on the information that’s been given to me, that the weapon of mass destruction which can kill more people than an atomic bomb -- that is, biological weapons -- is in the hands of the leadership of Iraq." - Bill Frist 1/10/2003

"There can be no doubt that Saddam Hussein has biological weapons and the capability to rapidly produce more, many more. And he has the ability to dispense these lethal poisons and diseases in ways that can cause massive death and destruction. If biological weapons seem too terrible to contemplate, chemical weapons are equally chilling" -Colin Powell 2/5/2003

Get the point?

Posted by: Sovok at November 4, 2003 07:35 PM | PERMALINK

Okay, how's this for a reason for invading Iraq:

1. Saddam Hussein is clearly an evil tyrant.

2. Nobody will be sorry to see him go.

3. Crushing him serves as a demonstration of American power and resolve (more specifically, of George W. Bush's power and resolve).

Perhaps there is nothing more to it than that.

Posted by: Daryl McCullough at November 4, 2003 07:36 PM | PERMALINK

Amitava, OK, but the methods Clinton and the UN chose led to Sept 11. The hijackers believed they had a justification because the US had been killing Iraqis all that time.

Wolfowitz etc believed that the US was already in a quagmire, that the sanctions were the quagmire (forget for a minute that they did everything they could to develop and prolong the sanctions). Sept 11 was unfortunate collateral damage to them. So this was their method out.

Posted by: Wellbasically at November 4, 2003 07:38 PM | PERMALINK

scott:

"Why is it so hard for the conservative true believers to understand?"

I am not a CTB.

"The same guy with the same rape rooms was our FRIEND 13 years ago!"

He was a Soviet Client fercrissakes. Please go and research the relationship between Iraw and the US. Once you've done that you will stop using this piece of misleading propaganda.

"Hell, THERE ARE PICTURES OF OUR SECRETARY OF DEFENSE SHAKING HIS HAND!!!!"

He went there to help grease the wheels of a (Bechtel?) pipeline bid. Said bid was not contrary to any UN or Commerce Department rulings.

This is all you have, isn't it?

Posted by: am at November 4, 2003 07:38 PM | PERMALINK

I can't believe the sorts of distortions of the facts perpetrated by liberals, to try to make things look much worse than they actually are. In fact, the average American name can be read in less that two seconds, meaning that your estimate is off by a factor of 5, at least.

Speed reading the dead?

If all 377 coffins were placed end to end, that line of coffins would be 377 coffins long. There, what do you think of that?

Not to mention the thousands of wounded, and our wounded never die. If you're wounded in Iraq and die here, you don't count.

Posted by: MillionthMonkey at November 4, 2003 07:41 PM | PERMALINK

I disagree with my antiwar friends, Rumsfeld etc and even Bush 1 had defensible reasons for hanging out with Saddam.

Posted by: wellbasically at November 4, 2003 07:41 PM | PERMALINK

"He went there to help grease the wheels of a (Bechtel?) pipeline bid. Said bid was not contrary to any UN or Commerce Department rulings."

Oh, well that's okay then. As long as no Commerce Dept. rules were broken...

Posted by: JakeV at November 4, 2003 07:42 PM | PERMALINK

He was a Soviet Client fercrissakes. Please go and research the relationship between Iraw and the US. Once you've done that you will stop using this piece of misleading propaganda.

I don't generally comment on spelling mistakes, but you really can't afford to screw that letter up there...

Posted by: Anarch at November 4, 2003 07:43 PM | PERMALINK

This is all you have, isn't it?

Unfortunately, yes, GWB is blocking the release of all of the relevent documents from the Reagan years.

We'll have more - AFTER GWB is removed from office in 2004.

Posted by: Sovok at November 4, 2003 07:45 PM | PERMALINK

This is all you have, isn't it?

that vial of anthrax Kay reported finding... made in Virginia.

Posted by: ChrisL at November 4, 2003 07:52 PM | PERMALINK

Here's a document from the National Security Archives effectively debunking AM's "Soviet Client" argument.

AM, please stop using this misleading piece of propaganda.

Posted by: Sovok at November 4, 2003 07:57 PM | PERMALINK

Paul Wolfowitz effectively slammed two students who made this major antiwar argument, that Bush 1 was for Saddam etc. It's a loser, why do people cling to it?

Posted by: Wellbasically at November 4, 2003 08:01 PM | PERMALINK

Anyway, I wish the media would start pushing the point harder that there is no defined mission in Iraq at this point. Instead of letting Bush get away with IMPLYING what our mission is, as he does in Kevin's quote, they should get him to be specific -- and if he doesn't, report that he refuses to answer the question.


THANK YOU DanM (and Markus)!!

This is the only relevant point in the entire thread. What's done is done. Now whatcha gonna do about it?

Sheesh.. wonder why W gets away with so much... it's cos you chimps are chasing your tails. Go after the meat.

Posted by: spoon at November 4, 2003 08:03 PM | PERMALINK

ChrisL:

"That vial of anthrax Kay reported finding... made in Virginia."

Kay found botulism actually.

Saddam's bio seedstocks were legally exported by a US nonprofit which provides these things for medical research, so other countries can prevent diseases. The fact that the US provides this service to the world is wonderful - thanks!

The fact that Saddam, unbeknownst to the providers, used it to make weapons is a real shit. It is a really sad thing.

It is also sad that some people use this to paint the US as evil-providers-of-WMD-to-dictators. This is not fair.


Posted by: am at November 4, 2003 08:03 PM | PERMALINK

am: You might consider not pointing out every country or individual who doesn't hear violins when you fart as being an infidel to *your* jihad. You don't need 40 hours, a check flight and an arab name to do bad things, my friend. Theoretically, American jihadi's with names like McVeigh can load a truck full with ANFO and blow up people at will. Ahh, that's not theory anymore is it?

An angry young Arab man does not, in the current climate, get less angry because he lives in Yemen or the Sudan--countries, up to now, unmolested by the so-called Bush doctrine. We could turn the Asian subcontinent into a glazed, antiseptic parking lot and you know what--they'd keep coming at us. And they'd bring new friends.

Saddam was a soviet client? Him and the rest of the third world garden club. We bombing at discount now and making it up in volume? How 'bout them russkies: Putin was KGB/NKVD, probably actively approved the deaths of US cold war operatives. We gonna whack pooty-poot too? Am: I have bad dreams about clowns, they make me afeared something terrible. Lets blow up McDonalds.

Dude, that rubble everywhere... Collateral damage. It's the remains of the house that fell on your delusion. Snap out of it.

Posted by: fouro at November 4, 2003 08:07 PM | PERMALINK

"The fact that Saddam, unbeknownst to the providers, used it to make weapons is a real shit. It is a really sad thing"

Botulinum toxin has never effectively been weaponized, too unstable, but Saddam WAS trying: 12 years ago.

That's why we had sanctions, and they were working.

Saddam had NO WMDs, get over it.

Next rationale, please, maybe you'll hit on something that is remotely convincing.

Posted by: Sovok at November 4, 2003 08:09 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not sure how to respond to a set of questions that are pretty much of a strawman. The best reason for being skittish about this war would perhaps be a preference that the Clinton administration carry out its own policy, especially in a post 9/11 context, rather than the Bush administration. But I don't find that compelling. The "Bush lied" meme is more dishonest than the exaggerations that can actually be attributed to the Bush administration. There should be no trouble finding the statements of a near unanimous Democratic Party, foreign intelligence services and UN officials regarding the presumption of the existence of WMD that Saddam Hussein had quite intentionally encouraged. (I scarcely have the time to track down all of those statements, nor do I wish to clog the bandwidth here.)

As for the mass graves, rapes, political terror, etc., let me leave it to my fellow Democrats to articulate the policy of droit d'ingérance and support for human rights, for which they have traditionally stood. (Those who opposed the invasion of Afghanistan may stop reading.)

The policy of bringing stability and Democratic government to Iraq cannot be bad in and of itself, can it? It may be too expensive as an investment, but I'll let the isolationist Republicans and hardcore pacifists make that argument as is their wont. Not the liberals and centrists in the traditional party of human rights. For the time being, I support (even with current costs) the stated goals of the warmongering Hillary Clinton, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, etc. Let's put our money where our mouths are.

As for supporting "the cherished goals of national greatness", this is frankly just not serious Kevin.

Posted by: Gabriel Gonzalez at November 4, 2003 08:13 PM | PERMALINK

"It's a loser, why do people cling to it?"

Probably because it's true:

Former Reagan administration National Security Council staff member Howard Teicher says that after Ronald Reagan signed a national security decision directive calling for the U.S. to do whatever was necessary to prevent Iraq's defeat in the Iran-Iraq war, Director of Central Intelligence William Casey personally led efforts to ensure that Iraq had sufficient weapons, including cluster bombs, and that the U.S. provided Iraq with financial credits, intelligence, and strategic military advice. The CIA also provided Iraq, through third parties that included Israel and Egypt, with military hardware compatible with its Soviet-origin weaponry.

Posted by: Sovok at November 4, 2003 08:14 PM | PERMALINK

"As I recall, Saddam Hussein was deterred from using his chemical weapons in the Gulf War when he had the opportunity to use them, even on Israel."

Yes. But in that case it was known where the attack came from. With a sneak terrorist attack there is deniability.

It's a pretty short list of suspects though, so responsibility can be traced back eventually. Which is what was done about the Lockerbie bombing that was linked to Libya in the end, for example.

Regarding the question of deniability, the denial of the Bush administration about the known links to Saudi Arabia that the 9/11 terrorists had would seem to be a real dilemma for your case for making war, since I doubt you think we should have attacked the Saudis. I don't think we should have attacked them either, or attacked Iraq on the basis of nothing more than unsupported allegations about their capabilities and motives.

Posted by: David W. at November 4, 2003 08:20 PM | PERMALINK

"AM, please stop using this misleading piece of propaganda."

Damn wingnuts, can't even do a simple google search. just spewing the same packaged crap they got from some blog. I've always found Shrub's apologists to be sophists or liars.

Hey WINGNUTS ! If you want to chat with grown-ups, take logic 101, history 101, and english 101 and drop the book on creationism ! Oh, and you have to pass the courses.

Posted by: ch2 at November 4, 2003 08:21 PM | PERMALINK

So no one cares what happens next?

Posted by: spoon at November 4, 2003 08:21 PM | PERMALINK

Sovok: Well would it have been better for Iran to win?

Also: look how Gabriel Gonzalez plays you like a piano, guys.

Saddam was a ruthless leader who fought many wars, but the truth is that this is a tough region, where every country, including every country we invaded from, including Israel, uses state-sanctioned torture and murder.

I think there is a case for reforming the middle east through US involvement. I don't think war was the place to start. But as long as the lefty criticism is one of "don't associate with dictators" then Bush's approach will be preferable. He won't reform anything of course, but he will put the clamp on those people harder than Clinton did, and the troops will take more of the bullets than we would here at home.

Posted by: wellbasically at November 4, 2003 08:23 PM | PERMALINK

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought that vial was the bacteria and not the toxin. If so, bad home canners all over America are also making WMD's.

Posted by: M. at November 4, 2003 08:26 PM | PERMALINK

Next will have to wait 'til 2004. Then a democrat will get the UN involved, open a real transparent bidding process for reconstruction contracts, put off or rescind any privatization of Iraki industries, enticing donor countries to provide troops, money...

We reduce our troop levels, the Irakis write a constitution based on moderate Islam and we can leave them at the tender mercies of a Pakistan-style democracy, as they deal with insurgent Baathists for the next decades (a bit like Shri Lanka).

Posted by: ch2 at November 4, 2003 08:27 PM | PERMALINK

He was a Soviet Client fercrissakes. Please go and research the relationship between Iraw and the US. Once you've done that you will stop using this piece of misleading propaganda.

If you're going to merely assert something, and chide us for not researching it, at least make sure that your assertion is not bullshit easily refuted by the slightest bit of research.

Iraq was considered a counterweight to Iran, which was a greater concern for the United States in the region than the Soviet Union. When the U.S.S. Stark was hit by a missile fired by an Iraqi fighter in 1987, we accepted Iraq's apology and made nothing of it.

"Hell, THERE ARE PICTURES OF OUR SECRETARY OF DEFENSE SHAKING HIS HAND!!!!"

He went there to help grease the wheels of a (Bechtel?) pipeline bid. Said bid was not contrary to any UN or Commerce Department rulings.

How is that relevant to anything?

This is all you have, isn't it?

No, but we are the ones who should be asking you that question. Because the burden of proof was never on us. It was on you. If you're going to argue that we should unilaterally invade another country, you'd better come up with very good evidence supporting a war. Because historically, this is not typical behavior for the United States. And in the way of evidence to justify this misadventure, your side has produced nothing.

The question of whether the nation should go to war was somehow perverted into one of whether Saddam Hussein is a swell guy. "Unaccounted-for weapons" is one thing, but nobody has never demonstrated how unaccounted-for weapons automatically translates into a cause for a long, bitter, expensive, and fruitless war.

Posted by: MillionthMonkey at November 4, 2003 08:29 PM | PERMALINK

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought that vial was the bacteria and not the toxin. If so, bad home canners all over America are also making WMD's.

You're correct M. - it was the bacterium, not the toxin. My grandmother took great care when canning her beans too, BTW!

Posted by: David W. at November 4, 2003 08:30 PM | PERMALINK

The rationale of danger, imminent or otherwise, to the US was never honest. To hurt us you need the weapons and the delivery system.

Allegedly the weapons were:
1) Nuclear--this was just made up by the Administration, which is why George Tenet had references to it removed from two speeches given by Bush. No, he didn't have it removed from every speech, but once the White House had their nose rubbed in its fictionality they...well, they went right back to the same story.
2) Biological--there was no evidence that Saddam was making any, and the old stuff couldn't have been any good.
3) Chemical--there was some reason to believe that these existed, although Hussein Kamal's swearing they were gone should have counted for something--probably for a lot.

So, weapons: maybe a 50/50 shot of chemical weapons (the least dangerous of the three).

Delivery systems--
1) Al Qaeda--the evidence here was that some guy from an Islamic terrorist organization (based in Kurdistan) once got his broken leg set in Baghdad. That's it. That's all. Really.
2) Drones, missiles, and winged fairies--just made up by the Administration.

So, delivery systems: none.

This is the threat assessment from before the war. Sure, a lot of people bought in to the Bush/Powell/Cheney/Rice bullshit. But they themselves didn't. So why did we go to war?

Why?

Posted by: Social Scientist at November 4, 2003 08:30 PM | PERMALINK

If you look at the pro-war bloggers it is all very clear. This is "War on Terror" and Sadaam H. was and is a terrorist.

And if the neo-cons want to go on some other foreign policy adventure then they will expand the definition of "Terrorism" to suit their position.

The "War on Terror" is becoming an amorphous and every changing excuse for whatever jag U.S. foreign policy goes off on.

Posted by: ESP at November 4, 2003 08:33 PM | PERMALINK

"Sovok: Well would it have been better for Iran to win?"

What the hell does that have to do with anything? You said the US wasn't supporting Saddam in the 1980's - you were wrong, don't try to change the subject.

But OK, I'll play, maybe Iran should have won. Where would we be today?

Posted by: Sovok at November 4, 2003 08:36 PM | PERMALINK

We're in Iraq to win.

I couldn't figure out what had happened to the democratic party. And, then it dawned on me. Sure,Reagan took the blue collar workers, which in its own right, hit he unions hard. Because the unions can't get clout if the membership doesn't listen.

So, the party keeps shedding voters.

And, what's left? Elites. THe democratic party is now home to the affirmative action, PC, elite 'crowds,' that populate certain east coast and west coast establishments.

But it's no longer the party of the people.

GONE.

While you're here congratulating each other, the world's gonna pass ya by.

We're in Iraq because Bush has support of a majority of voters. Even now, with low numbers, he has at least 51% of the 'voters' saying yes. While the democrats muster 44% (not even knowing which head and body will get to fill the presidential slot.)

WIll it matter? How often to the democrats have to see outcomes like LBJ's race home to Texas, not wanting to run and lose in 1968. Humphrey's loss at the polls. McCarthy's. McGovern's. Dukakis. And, Jimmy Carter's second run. Topped off with whipped cream by the abysmal showing Algore got.

Algore, IF the country was in full swing behind the democrats should have been a blowout against this Bush! THe guy barely kept his head above water. And, then said he really, really won, because he had more voters; but less states. ANd, he bedecked himself in orange paint, and stood outside of Clinton's White House trying to brace his troops to perform "outrage."

Well, here you do get some opinions in lock step with the elites. Too bad elites NEVER DID WELL in American politics. Great material for comedians though.

ANd, probable losses ahead.

I really hope that at one time or another, this being a democratic board, you get some of the democratic honchos looking in. (Of course, they expect to see their adoring children reflecting luv back at them.) And, sure enough. Most of the elites deliver. Just as the affirmative action crowd, notoriously poor work performers, still turn out for Rosie O'Donnell and Oprah.

Well, the west coast has its entertainment geniuses. And, the group really gets mad when people tell them their theories may not be working.

But what happened to the old democratic party that I once knew? Gone. Lost on fashions in politics that contained too much idealism without any practicality. SAD.

Posted by: Carol in California at November 4, 2003 08:45 PM | PERMALINK

>Why doesn't Bush tell us why it's important to stay in Iraq?

A few days ago Tony Blair told us.
From the CBC:
Blair said in an interview that the war in Iraq was justified because of its impact on global security. He says if they had not dealt with Saddam Hussein in Iraq, then "there was no way we could have dealt with any other nation in a similar position."
"Why do you think Iran is now willing to co-operate with the (International) Atomic Energy Agency for the first time in years? Precisely because people now know we are serious about these issues," said the British prime minister.
--
In other words, it's neocon strategy. The links are at my blog: dalairoundabout.blogspot.com

Posted by: dalai at November 4, 2003 08:48 PM | PERMALINK

Carol, you're not in California. You are even be Carol.

You're Alice in Wonderland.

Or rather one of the Wonderland inhabitants. Spewing common-sensical non-sense. About elites and people, random numbers and virtual history. Some junky on methadone trying to cope.

This here is not the democratic party.

It's not even just coastal people,
or elite
or "affirmative action crowd (whatever the fuck that means)".

So either engage the subject,
or
drop out.

hope your rehab works out.

Posted by: ch2 at November 4, 2003 08:52 PM | PERMALINK

Blair said in an interview that the war in Iraq was justified because of its impact on global security. He says if they had not dealt with Saddam Hussein in Iraq, then "there was no way we could have dealt with any other nation in a similar position."

That's pretty self-serving on Blair's part, given that Saddam Hussein's WMDs were effectively dealt with before the war ever started, as the U.N. inspections were in the process of finding out.

Posted by: David W. at November 4, 2003 08:53 PM | PERMALINK

ch2, it's best to not reply to someone just to complain about them. Bandwidth is cheap nowadays and if someone wants to vent, free associate, have LSD flashbacks, whatever, well, it's a free weblog thanks to Kevin D. I imagine Kevin will deal with whatever he thinks is a problem.

Posted by: David W. at November 4, 2003 08:58 PM | PERMALINK

"explanations that over time are becoming less and less satisfying to Joe and Jane Sixpack."
How can Joe and jane Sixpack possibly tire of the rape rooms? Bush is even getting more graphic these days, as with the "young girls" repetition. I'm betting that by next summer he'll be describing the rapes for us. That should be one for the history books.

Posted by: John Isbell at November 4, 2003 09:00 PM | PERMALINK

If we really, truly, hope to die believed they had WMDs we wouldn't have invaded.

What I'm looking for years from now is waiting with eager anticipation for the former president's annual message from whatever hell hole the Hague sends him to.

Posted by: M.Tullius at November 4, 2003 09:01 PM | PERMALINK

David W,
I was going more for the sarcasm than the attack. If at least Carol made some sense. I am not trying to strong-arm her out, just giving her the equivalent of a cold verbal shower so she comes back to the planet Earth.

But... since you really think it's bad etiquette. I'll just drop it.

Posted by: ch2 at November 4, 2003 09:04 PM | PERMALINK

Social Scientist:

"Delivery systems--"

Man in light plane shoving fistfuls of powder out of the window.

Posted by: am at November 4, 2003 09:05 PM | PERMALINK

Why doesn't Bush tell you?

Are you expecting personal phone calls? Letters? Food drives?

The best presidents we have had are men of action. They don't call up the newspapers to report they want to do something, and please, pretty please can they get permission.

Bush is one type of politician. SHort on speech. But very clear on where he wants to go.

Gray Davis, on the other hand, is a typical democrat. He'll read a poll first. Then, if he's paid the right amount of money, he may have an 'opinion.'

Of course, some people think the recall and its aftermath is just a fluke.

Others see that even though Bush got a weak start as president he's pulled himself up in stature.

Truman, too, by the way, was one of the men much 'mis-under-estimated, in his time. When he won his race in 1948 the elites were absent!

It's a funny thing about voters. You'd think politicans would own an instinctual response on what chords need to be struck to attract voters.

But why not now? Has Hollywood so stacked the deck that the elites fool themselves into believing they can win "if they just try hard enough?"

One thing about the old democratic party. It was fractious. Worse than a dysfunctional family with more kids than you could fit into a staton wagon.

The old fights are gone. JFK was once young blood coming into an old system. He was also 'elite.' Well educated. Bostonian. The feared Catholic. But he had charisma. And, once he got the nod to run against Nixon the democratic party came alive with hope. Sure, the win was close. (Or as comedians said, Jack got a telegram from his dad: "I'm only going to buy enough votes for you to win. I'm not going to buy a landslide.") And, the democratic crowd roared with laughter. Not elites. Real people. Real humor. A cross section of America. The democrats were a powerhouse, then. And, it's all slipped away.

The democratic party is now the home to the NY Times. As if you can fit what was once great, now onto a postage stamp. WIth a headline banner written for masochists: The Hate America, First, crowd. When respect is not forthcoming, a wiser party system would have already begun to wonder why.

Don't compare yourselves to the right. Their team is winning. I never thought I'd say this. I've been voting since 1960. And, I NEVER votec for a republican candidate for president. (Wasn't even swept up by Nixon.)

But now? For America's future Bush seems to have the appropriate goals in mind. And, he's not afraid of the Europeans. He's not looking for 'friends,' any more than today's American is rushing to buy French products. Or German cars. But the elites don't notice. They stare into the limelight. And, you know, from the stage you can never really see the audience. The audience just sits in the dark. If the democrats limit themselves to Broadway, yeah, sure, they can fill a theater or two with their voters. And, they can get others from soup kitchens. If you think that's gonna win ya political power back, I just do not think so.

Even the democratic convention in Massachusetts may be an albatross. (I know people think Bush is nuts to be heading into NY for the republican convention). But New Yorkers are at least on planet earth. Massachusetts voters, however, can come out strong for some of the biggest losers. Should make for interesting entertainment. Like a circus.

Posted by: Carol in California at November 4, 2003 09:05 PM | PERMALINK

A little vial of anthrax really can kill out 200,00 - 400,000 people. It's that lethal.

You have a cite for this, Joe? Because in order for a "little vial" to kill that many people they'd have to line up and snort the stuff, and they'd be on short rations.

In accessing 2001 emergency response Wein, Kaplan, and Craft projected 120,000 possible deaths from the release of one kilogram of weaponized anthrax in a densely populated urban area such as NYC. In practical terms that rate of infection is probably impossibly high.

Anthrax is seriously deadly, to be sure, but the difficulty of effective distribution and the efficacy of quick medical treatment (not to mention vaccination) makes it a reasonably inefficient weapon.

Posted by: D. Case at November 4, 2003 09:07 PM | PERMALINK

"But now? For America's future Bush seems to have the appropriate goals in mind. And, he's not afraid of the Europeans."

Oh, Clinton was scared of them Europeans. So was Poppy Bush, and Ronnie, and Carter and...

I'm so glad, Shrub is not afraid of 'em.

lol.

Posted by: ch2 at November 4, 2003 09:10 PM | PERMALINK

Just one teaspoon of semen can impregnate all the women in China. Think of that semen arriving in a crate, or a boat, or a package. Or a missile. Can you imagine the price of not acting to counter that threat? We don't want the proof to be a mushroom cloud of babies. It all makes sense through the prism of our experience with 9/11 and our shiny brand new everlasting war on terror.

Posted by: MillionthMonkey at November 4, 2003 09:12 PM | PERMALINK

But... since you really think it's bad etiquette. I'll just drop it.

Sorry if I came across like a schoolmarm, really. Feel free to complain about whatever it is that Carol posts about if you like! (It won't do any good, but feel free anyway... ;-)

Posted by: David W. at November 4, 2003 09:12 PM | PERMALINK

Insults, guys and girls, means you're running scared.

The affirmative action crowd, are the PC folk who took over the schools, and who offer socialist pablum to honest to goodness citizens of this country. Idealism that doesn't translate to anything that works.

But what kind of a shrunken mind thinks that California, as a location doesn't exist, but the delightful Alice in Wonderland is out there waiting to be touched?

Get real. The democrats are set to lose. And, nothing, but nothing is going to stop this train from colliding with reality. The very elites (or whomever it is that's willing to call themselves democrats today), usually hide in holes when the going gets tough.

That's why you don't hear a peep out of Hillary. If he road to the white house in 2004 was an easy push to get rid of Bush she'd have hopped on and taken on the big Kahuna. Not doing it.

Nor did Feinstein want the 'pleasure' of running on the recall measure as governor of California. So Gray Davis just embarrassed himself and his party. IN CALIFORNIA! Go figure tht California was sitting there like low lying fruit to grab.

Florida has a republican governor. Texas does, too. And, New York. Big station stops once upon a time for the democratic party. HOME COURT.

Of course, I know all of you want to keep your hopes up. Why should De Nile just be a river in Eygpt? Why not dream? And name call anyone you don't like. No one is in charge of this party anymore. It's been reduced to this. Yeah. It's SAD.

Posted by: Carol in California at November 4, 2003 09:13 PM | PERMALINK

Millionthmonkey,

please warn us so we don't piss in our pants...
lol

Posted by: ch2 at November 4, 2003 09:13 PM | PERMALINK

MillionthMonkey, I'll sleep better tonight knowing you are protecting us from millions of sperm. I only hope you have all the latex you need to do the job right.

Posted by: David W. at November 4, 2003 09:17 PM | PERMALINK

MillionthMonkey:

"No, but we are the ones who should be asking you that question. Because the burden of proof was never on us. It was on you."

Well, I'm just a guy who is trying to understand why your Government made the decision which it did. And yes, based on what I believe they knew at the time, I think I would have made the same decision in their place.

"If you're going to argue that we should unilaterally invade another country, you'd better come up with very good evidence supporting a war. Because historically, this is not typical behavior for the United States."

Well that's the point, isn't it? The 2002 NSS explicitly extended the reasons for which the US would go to war. Because the requirement that there be an "imminent threat" (a term which has special meaning in international law, apparently) was not deemed appropriate for the ways in which a second attack could form.

The 2002 NSS is a *scary* document. It is really worth reading. It is certainly bold and radical. Reading it takes an hour or so, and does help one understand the thinking.

Is it good, and appropriate policy? Or is it an overreaction? I don't know really and probably historians will argue for ever over it.

The bottom line is: "did it prevent another massacre"? We'll only know the answer to that if there is another massacre.

Posted by: am at November 4, 2003 09:19 PM | PERMALINK

"but now we must leave immediately, as no banned weapons have been found."

Not the most outlandish statement I have ever seen, but in the top 10.

Why must we do anything unlkess we feel it is in our national interest?

Posted by: Jim at November 4, 2003 09:20 PM | PERMALINK

Carol, since by your own admission you are no longer a democrat (or elite, or whatever other non-sense you call it), how could you possibly know today's democrats ?

Many of us here (dems, independent, green, liberal, libertarian, unaffiliated and maybe even republican) are concerned or alarmed about where Bush is taking this country. We are generally smart and have a computer.
Is that your definition of elite ?

In any case, what's clear is that there is a lot brewing. Have you followed Dean's campaign ? Do you really think that there is not no strong discontent rising in this country over the corruption, dishonesty, war and death coming out of our current policies ?

Stand back, Carol. Because the tides of change are coming, strong !

Posted by: ch2 at November 4, 2003 09:25 PM | PERMALINK

"We've also discovered through intelligence that Iraq has a growing fleet of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to disperse hot man-juice across broad areas"

"I am absolutely convinced, based on the information that’s been given to me, that the weapon of mass destruction which can kill more people than an atomic bomb -- that is, creamy jism-- is in the hands of the leadership of Iraq"

"Our intelligence officials estimate that Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of semen, ejaculate and baby batter"

We're in BIG trouble...

Posted by: Sovok at November 4, 2003 09:25 PM | PERMALINK

Sovak: All I'm saying is that Reagan and Bush 1 had a defensible case for supporting Saddam, given all the existing conditions in the Middle East.

It would have been better to change those conditions that is true.

Posted by: wellbasically at November 4, 2003 09:26 PM | PERMALINK

Jim it's in our national interest to have America be a respected leader of the world. America gave the world the finger to get into this war, at some point the costs are not going to be worth the benefits for them. Then they're going to shake us off.

It would be better for us and better for the world if the USA is a good leader, not a mean scary insane one.

Posted by: wellbasically at November 4, 2003 09:29 PM | PERMALINK

"All I'm saying is that Reagan and Bush 1 had a defensible case for supporting Saddam, given all the existing conditions in the Middle East."

Defensible, maybe/maybe not, I really don't have an opinion - I just wanted to point out to the wingnuts that Reagan/Bush DID support Saddam, not matter how much "revisionist history" they habitually engage in.

Posted by: Sovok at November 4, 2003 09:32 PM | PERMALINK

Insults, guys and girls, means you're running scared.

Hahaha! Nobody is scared of you, Carol. We know you too well. Your mind is an open page and we have scrolled over it many times.

Posted by: MillionthMonkey at November 4, 2003 09:34 PM | PERMALINK

"Man in light plane shoving fistfuls of powder out of the window."

Delivering it in such a crude way would be nearly impossible. It would require near perfect weather conditions, allowing for the agent to sufficiently mix into the air without diluting. It would have to take place at an exact height, and it would take about five hours to blanket one square mile effectively. You'd also need several hundred pounds of it. The mechanics of this makes delivering it in highly-populated areas next to impossible. Those living in rural areas better watch out for those fists full of powder, though!

Posted by: kormal at November 4, 2003 09:37 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry guys, I'm not buying it. I read all 110 previous posts and not one addressed the real reason we Invaded Iraq!

We did it because Carl Rove said we could. This was and still remains a politically inspired war. The justifications were manufactured and timed to achieve maximum panic amongst the voters just before an election. The President himself campaigned tirelessly for those Senate seats that were vulnerable by wrapping himself and the Republican party in the American flag and loudly claiming that the country was in immediate danger from Saddam Hussein (that and getting the right wing slime machine to call into questions the patriotism of anyone who asked an honest question). The theory was that if the President lied loud enough and long enough that most people would believe him. Afterall, this was OUR President talking, the President of all Americans, right? Wrong, this President is the President of the fundamentalists, the neoconservatives, the corporate elite, and the very wealthy. No one else was wanted, except for those working class families who breed such fine cannon fodder.

Once the Senate was in his grip, there simply was no opposition left. The Democrats were shocked and awed into total disarray. The media was still laboring under the delusion that Bush was some sort of humble aw-shucks kind of countryfied everyman. No, this war wasn't about Saddam's WMDs or Iraqi terrorists, or even human rights and democracy, it was about the absolute power to dictate a radical agenda.

Posted by: James Emerson at November 4, 2003 09:38 PM | PERMALINK

James E,

the dems were pathetic in their opposition and deserve some blame for not even being an "opposition" party.

Posted by: ch2 at November 4, 2003 09:42 PM | PERMALINK

Why must we do anything unlkess we feel it is in our national interest?

Demonstrating a respect for international law is in our national interest. So is providing a good example for other nations to follow. What is probably not in our national interest is fostering the notion in the minds of the world's population that the U.S. has become a rogue state.

When a country starts to imagine its very name is synonymous with freedom, it gets the idea it's doing other countries a favor by invading them.

Posted by: MillionthMonkey at November 4, 2003 09:42 PM | PERMALINK

James

As much fun as I have dusting up with the wingnuts over this, you are exactly right - that's really all that needs to be said.

Posted by: Sovok at November 4, 2003 09:44 PM | PERMALINK

kormal:

"Delivering it in such a crude way would be nearly impossible. It would require near perfect weather conditions, allowing for the agent to sufficiently mix into the air without diluting"

Really? At 100ft over a busy city street or a packed football stadium? I'd expect a large number of people would inhale some spores?

Posted by: am at November 4, 2003 09:46 PM | PERMALINK

Why did we invade Iraq?

Well, whatever:

We had fed the heart on fantasies
The heart's grown brutal from the fare

Posted by: Thersites at November 4, 2003 09:48 PM | PERMALINK

Final comment: Please. Let's ban the word "wingnut". It's sort of lost its punch.

Posted by: Gabriel Gonzalez at November 4, 2003 09:49 PM | PERMALINK

The real mess of where the democrats are can be found here. It's not a blue collar site. It's not the rank and file that used to make up the democratic party. And, to those that ask if "I've followed" Dean's campaign, or other minutia, actually I tend to do that stuff.

What I couldn't figure out was why the democratic party has imploded. I came of age in 1960. When Kennedy mounted that stage and got the nomination (I think there were three rounds beforehand; and Eleanor Roosevelt had interviewed Kennedy and approved), what burst forth was enormous energy.

Once, there was a place called Camelot.

There was a New Frontier. There was a time that the democrats couldn't lose. JFK got shot. LBJ got to be president. And, then he won in his own right in 1964. Goldwater suffered one of those losses that he hardly carried a single state. (But at that point the republican party was trying to birth it's conservative agenda.) Anyway, in 1968, with lots of people marching on Washington protesting the escalation in Vietnam, LBJ "chose" not to make his second run for president. And, he retired to his ranch in Texas.

Robert Kennedy, getting a slow start (since he really hesitated about running), decided to go for the nomination. He was shot in a hotel in Los Angeles. And, Hubert Humphrey, a democratic hack on the order of Truman, men you don't see in the party anymore, anyway), took on the race, against the republican Nixon. Nixon won. Twice.

Politics got very messy. Nixon had Agnew as his VEEP. And, he sent his VEEP packing, picking, instead, Gerald Ford. Some said he was the dumbest man in the House of Representatives. And, others said that Nelson Rockefeller, governor of NY, had wanted that slot, and got turned down inside the power circles of the republican party.

Ford then went on to lose to Jimmy Carter. (And, if Jimmy Carter wasn't an outrage as president it would be hard to find someone his equal. He listened to his wife. And, his inner callings. At some point he said he was talking to Jesus nine times a day from the Oval Office. And, Mort Sahl said the problem was that he was really annoying God.)

Jimmy Carter got turned out on his second run by Ronald Reagan. And, for many people (though not me), Reagan represented that Kennedy-esque enthusiams. Reagan was able to attract voters from across the board.

And, in the process of selecting presidents, not only did America undergo some sort of cultural revolution in the 1960's, it's also been one of those things that had more acceptance on one side, than the other. And, it's here that the republicans capitalized their strengths.

When I say I'm not enthused with where the democratic party is heading, this is true. It's as if its a minority party. Run by women. And, really mismanaged. Run by women in the sense that Pelosi sits as the minority leader in the House. And, she can't seem to find her way out of paper bags.

Lots of 'idealisms' (for want of a better word) have been thrown at voters. But's it's been a sagging proposition. Paul Wellstone lost his life. And, then the democrats forgot how to run campaigns (there's no other explanation I can think of for what happened in Minnesota), and ex-presidental candidate Mondale, thrown in at the last minute, managed to lose! Name recognition didn't amount to a hill of beans. When Americans talk in the voting booth it's strange to see that no one notices what they're doing.

You'd think the democratic party would be interested in getting serious. Maybe, the old days can never be recaptured. But when I was young people were proud to be democrats. Ordinary people. Not necessarily college educated. But the backbone of this country. Where did that all go?

Sure, elites doesn't cover it for many of this site's readers ... but something sure did happen on the way to the White House. Blue collar guys are gone. White guys are gone. Whole segments of the country are now converts to the republican party. Others, who aren't quite there are claiming independent status.

In the future another critical area will be in raising money. If the Saudi cash machine gets shut off; and I don't doubt Bush's resolve, here, then where will the democrats go to get the sums of money needed to run their war rooms? No war chest of significance, no war room.

To answer the question about Dean, asked above; one of Dean's strengths was in bypassing how money got collected. He found real grass roots on the Net.

But the Clintons, themselves, are intervening with their candidate, Clark. And, the Clinton's do have the money. No question that MacAuliff can raise funds with the best of them. But that can change in the future. It would be a good thing if it wasn't so easy to buy politicians. Let alone politicians who do nothing for their entire political lives than shake the donor's trees.

It's a new day. America is at war. And, America is not in the anti-war mode it was in back in the 1960's. And, I've said this: That anti-war mode was part of the reason the republicans began to climb in popularity.

People here have asked "why doesn't Bush come to us and tell us what he wants to do." And, there's nothing to say except that Bush has the backing of most of the people who prefer he not go to the anti-war, anti-American crowd and ask them for the time of day. Let alone 'permission to proceed.'

The democratic party has got it all arse-backwards.

Posted by: Carol in California at November 4, 2003 09:53 PM | PERMALINK

1) How do you fly slowly at 100' over a busy street or stadium !?!

2) Remember that dispersal occurs in 3D. At 100' distance, the concentration of spores at ground level would be 1 billion less than that found in 1 inch square.

Trust me AM. it doesn't work. Anthrax can scare people, but it doesn't kill that many. Al-Qaeda is better served for its money to get 10 snipers in the DC area.

Posted by: ch2 at November 4, 2003 09:58 PM | PERMALINK

Carol, I think the problem is that your posts are just really, really too long.

May I respectfully suggest, you focus less on historical details and more on the point you want to make.

Regards,

Posted by: ch2 at November 4, 2003 10:00 PM | PERMALINK

The democratic party lost its bearings.

Posted by: Carol in California at November 4, 2003 10:01 PM | PERMALINK

Carol,

I only have your word that the American people are behind Bush. I think you're wrong.

RE: Clark as Clinton establishment candidate. You are probably right.

RE: No blue collar in dem party. Bullshit. There are many union members proud to be democratic. You seem to be rehashing the GOP's mantra that the dems are out-of-touch liberal elites, bla bla bla. The truth is the Dems were way disorganized recently.

RE: Saudi machine to Democrats ? You are kidding me, right ? The Bin Ladens are Bush's friend !!! The monarchy does business with companies close to the republicans... Go do a google search, and read.

Also, there maybe lot's less blue-collar worker because our economy changed.

Not because they all migrated to the Republican party.

have a good night

Posted by: ch2 at November 4, 2003 10:10 PM | PERMALINK

Anyway, in 1968, with lots of people marching on Washington protesting the escalation in Vietnam, LBJ "chose" not to make his second run for president. And, he retired to his ranch in Texas.

Gene McCarthy's close second-place finish in New Hampshire against LBJ also has a lot to do with his decision to not seek re-election, as I recall.

Robert Kennedy, getting a slow start (since he really hesitated about running), decided to go for the nomination.

After he'd noted LBJ's weakness against McCarthy, yes he did. Bobby very much wanted to be President, actually.

He was shot in a hotel in Los Angeles. And, Hubert Humphrey, a democratic hack on the order of Truman, men you don't see in the party anymore, anyway), took on the race, against the republican Nixon.

Calling Hubert Humphrey a hack is an insult to an honorable man's memory, Carol. And Truman has been treated very kindly by history, given his post-war role in doing what it took to revive Europe via the Marshall Plan and putting George F. Kennan's policy of containment into place against the Soviet Union.

Nixon won. Twice.

You got that right at least!

Politics got very messy. Nixon had Agnew as his VEEP. And, he sent his VEEP packing, picking, instead, Gerald Ford.

Heh as I clearly recall, Agnew was convicted of bribery that occured while he was governor of Maryland. Nixon didn't send him packing for the hell of it, Agnew had to resign for being convicted of that crime.

Posted by: David W. at November 4, 2003 10:14 PM | PERMALINK

Well, I'm just a guy who is trying to understand why your Government made the decision which it did. And yes, based on what I believe they knew at the time, I think I would have made the same decision in their place.

Are you talking about what they actually knew or what they just pretended to know? Because they're making a lot of noises about "flawed intelligence", but it was they who flew it. They treated intelligence not as a basis for making foreign policy decisions, but as a possible source of political cover- for those decisions had already been made. They leaned on intelligence, treated the vetting prcess as a form of disloyalty, constructed parallel routes for unverified information to reach their offices, and systematically cherry picked intelligence for any information which might be politically leverageable when arguing for war. There was a vast gulf between what they knew and what they pretended to know, and how that difference breaks down between lying and mere wishful thinking is irrelevant at this point. They have demonstrated their utter incompetence and so would you if you had chosen to start a war based on the data they had, and plan for it so ineptly given how many times they were warned this could happen.

The 2002 NSS explicitly extended the reasons for which the US would go to war. Because the requirement that there be an "imminent threat" (a term which has special meaning in international law, apparently) was not deemed appropriate for the ways in which a second attack could form.

The 2002 NSS was tailor-made for a war in Iraq.

Is it good, and appropriate policy? Or is it an overreaction? I don't know really and probably historians will argue for ever over it.

I don't think historians can argue too much about this. It's clearly beyond the pale, the situation is rapidly deteriorating, and the judgement of history is shaping up to be pretty obvious.

The bottom line is: "did it prevent another massacre"? We'll only know the answer to that if there is another massacre.

There will be another massacre. This is how you ensure it.

Posted by: MillionthMonkey at November 4, 2003 10:15 PM | PERMALINK

Out of curiosity, and I know there was torture and stuff, but can someone provide an authoritative source on where these Rape Rooms were documented?

Posted by: John G at November 4, 2003 10:27 PM | PERMALINK

My wife and I are thinking of adding a Rape Room onto the house, near the foyer. The neighbors across the street have a Rape Room and theirs is just fabulous.

Posted by: MillionthMonkey at November 4, 2003 10:33 PM | PERMALINK

The reason I have always been proud to call myself a liberal is becuase liberals are tolerant and compassionate.

Not any more, they're not. Not where Iraq is concerned. The Iraqi people? Screw 'em. They're not worth $87 billion. Arabs? A bunch of savages who aren't capable of democracy. Those superstitious primitives fools all crave theocracy. (Does that go for the women, too?)

The liberation of Iraq is the most liberal undertaking of the last 50 years. We should all be proud to support it.

Have you seen those videotapes? Sadaam's thugs were beheading people, for God's sake. Throwing them off of buildings. Doesn't this move you at all? Doesn't it? And don't respond by claiming that President Bush doesn't care. That's not the issue. The issue is whether you care.

How can people joke about the rape rooms? How? I fail to see the humor in that.

Does anyone get those mailings from Amnesty International? The ones that urge you to write a letter to some colonel in a third-world country urging him to free some prisoner of conscience? Amnesty members all around the world participate in these campaigns and write thousands of letters. All to free just one prisioner, who may then be re-arrested at any moment.

The war in Iraq freed tens of thousands of prisoners of conscience. It put and end to torture and state-sanctioned murder. It ended mutilation and rape.

Did you ever give money to one of those food drives? You know, the ones which provide cornmeal and blankets to some African country? These are wonderful things, but in the great scheme of things, they don't mean much. We feed the people of Ethopia. As a result, they live. But it's not much of a life. They get to live so that they can be oppressed by warlords and strongmen. The children don't die of starvation, but they don't learn to read and write, either. The women have clitrodectomies. Basic medical care is nonexistent; if you You get cancer, You are going to die, even if it would be treatable here in the US.

Refugees in Africa are cared for until they can be shipped back to the war-torn hellhole from whence they came.

Iraq dwarfs all of these liberal causes. We are talking about the transformation of an entire society here. We aren't just passing out blankets and sacks of grain. We are fixing everything -- the government, the judiciary, the press, the economy.

How can people be so blase about this? Why are we spending our time complaining about it and assessing the political costs and benefits? We should be directing our collective energy to helping the people of Iraq and the Middle East.

Posted by: Joe Schmoe at November 4, 2003 10:57 PM | PERMALINK

MillionthMonkey:

"Are you talking about what they actually knew or what they just pretended to know?"

[ snip formulaic Cheney-as-Darth-Vader script ]

If the things which you allege are true then of course their actions are beyond the pale. But that is an extremely tendentious interpretation and it fails to address vast tracts of wee little facts. There are so many I hardly know where to start. Umm, how about "why did David Kelly believe that Saddam had WMDs and that an invasion was necessary to get them off him"?

And sure, other inspectors were more sceptical. That's my point. Again. There was doubt, and a judgement call was made.

Posted by: am at November 4, 2003 11:05 PM | PERMALINK

"Kevin,
At what point isn't it worth asking these questions anymore?"

At about the same point that we realize we shouldn't be in Iraq anymore, I personally think that this point came and went about two months ago.

Posted by: Another Bruce at November 4, 2003 11:06 PM | PERMALINK

By the way, is it time to rattle the chains of the Powell doctrine? Does Powell himself believe it anymore, or is he too much of a cowardly lion to stand up and admit that he is working for a bunch of goons who would not heed his wisdom?

Posted by: Another Bruce at November 4, 2003 11:11 PM | PERMALINK


If you're redecorating, look to the future, not the past. Rape rooms certainly had their place in the 80s and 90s. Oh, I can remember watching Princess Di's wedding in the rape room. What an extravagant event, oh!

But, sadly, rape rooms are slipping into the past like so much smegma on the wind.

Today's hip homeowners are now installing Pedophilia Pantries and the occasional Brainwash Bar.

Posted by: RightOrWrong at November 4, 2003 11:11 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know what is more amusing.

Carol's rants that people are actually taking the time to read and respond to

or

AM's pretense of even caring what you have to say.

Ever hear a kid keep asking "why? why?"

They're not serious. Don't take them seriously...

Posted by: tbogg at November 4, 2003 11:15 PM | PERMALINK

The war in Iraq freed tens of thousands of prisoners of conscience.

And freed tens of thousands from their corporal bodies, roofs overhead, jobs, parents, children, and/or limbs.

It put and end to torture and state-sanctioned murder. It ended mutilation and rape.

wrong-o buddy-boy. There has been more rape now in Baghdad since the liberation than all times under Saddam, most likely.

The philosophy is simple: Iraq belongs to the Iraqis.

They don't like their government, it's can be a moral duty to help them overthrow it, just like the french assisted us in overthrowing our semi-tyranny.

But once we're talking hundreds of billions of dollars and thousands of US lives, American money and American blood belongs in service of America first.

Where is your liberal outrage for our current support for the monster despot in Uzbekistan, Joe?

Posted by: Troy at November 4, 2003 11:24 PM | PERMALINK


Some of us liberals are very happy to see the end of the Hussein regime. I'd also love to buy the world a Coke and teach everybody how to sing.

There is an inherent problem with the idea of forcing democracy onto the people of Iraq. Democracy rarely succeeds unless it is an organic social process created within a society that can support a true democracy. I have heard political science teachers say that democracy is built by the hands of the middle class.

What does "One Man, One Vote" mean to the average unemployed Iraqi? Who cares about voting when your family is starving and there is no work?

Not much.

Who are we liberating the Iraqis from? An army of Saddam clones? No. We are basically liberating the Iraqis from the Iraqis. The people who were in the death squads and in the rape rooms were committing these atrocities to their own people. What the hell are we really supposed to do about that?

If this is just an issue about liberating an oppressed group of people, then I would prefer to have left them alone. If the Arab community was offended by the Hussein regime and wanted to liberate the Iraqis, then they have more than enough manpower to do the job.

If Bush isn't compassionate enough to open up more public schools in the USA and take care of the jobless Americans, I don't want to hear about him doing it for the Iraqis.


(Oh, and rape rooms? Let's shut down all of the rape/pedophilia rings here in the United States.)

Posted by: Frugal Liberal at November 4, 2003 11:31 PM | PERMALINK

Hey Schmoe, I'm sorry that you are so disappointed in liberals, but I seriously think that 9-11 drove conservatives completely around the bend. I mean, they discovered that we are vulnerable to attack, so now they're going to kill anyone who even looks at us sideways.

Its so great that you discovered that the middle east is a hellhole, and its also great that you are not willing to sacrifice obscene tax cuts to the wealthy to pay for the 87 billion for the conveniently created slush fund for "Boots and Coots". But I cannot help but notice that your compassion for the Iraqi people isn't quite deep enough to put your own ass in a sling and park it over in Iraq to support our troops.

In three words, fuck you, idiot. You are a tool for this administration, and the blood of the troops is on your hands. Don't talk to me about what the liberals should or should not have done. We were trying to tell anybody that would listen that this was the wrong enemy and the wrong war. Liberals made the same mistake in the 1960s in VietNam, but apparantly we were willing to learn from history. Bush and his pack of neo-con fools were not.

Posted by: Another Bruce at November 4, 2003 11:33 PM | PERMALINK

The liberation of Iraq is the most liberal undertaking of the last 50 years. We should all be proud to support it.

I'll say it again. When a country starts to imagine its very name is synonymous with freedom, it gets the idea it's doing other countries a favor by invading them. Don't try to convince me that this war has anything to do with freedom. If it does, it's completely by accident.

Have you seen those videotapes? Sadaam's thugs were beheading people, for God's sake. Throwing them off of buildings. Doesn't this move you at all? Doesn't it? And don't respond by claiming that President Bush doesn't care. That's not the issue. The issue is whether you care.

No, the issue is whether President Bush doesn't care. I don't believe for a second that those tapes had anything to do with this war. You could make similar tapes in dozens of countries, but for some reason we chose to invade this one. Why is that?

How can people joke about the rape rooms? How? I fail to see the humor in that.

Because it's a crass attempt at propaganda! Are you a fool?

The war in Iraq freed tens of thousands of prisoners of conscience. It put and end to torture and state-sanctioned murder. It ended mutilation and rape.

By accident, and conveniently too. But remember. This was sold as a WMD war. Not a humanitarian war. And its motives were not humanitarian as far as Bush was concerned. Bush may be fortunate in finding "rape rooms" to justify this fiasco but this war had nothing to do with political torture and he is lying when he insinuates that it did. He only cares about "rape rooms" as far as they can be politically exploited.

Iraq dwarfs all of these liberal causes. We are talking about the transformation of an entire society here. We aren't just passing out blankets and sacks of grain. We are fixing everything -- the government, the judiciary, the press, the economy.

We are fixing none of these things. But we certainly are privatizing them, aren't we? And the situation continues to deteriorate. This whole operation was a corporate welfare scam from the start. from the oil to the sweet reconstruction contracts. Bush is merely exploiting the rape rooms. They have become standard administration talking points, useful for clobbering skeptics with accusations of not caring about rape and torture. That's as far as his concern goes. If you think Bush isn't overjoyed every time they uncover a mass grave you're crazy.

How can people be so blase about this? Why are we spending our time complaining about it and assessing the political costs and benefits? We should be directing our collective energy to helping the people of Iraq and the Middle East.

You live in Freedom-and-Democracy Land and can't understand why anyone would ever choose not to trust you or your country. But these people have spoken loud and clear. They don't want your help. They don't believe you came there to help them. You are assuming you know better than they do. And you are wrong.

Posted by: MillionthMonkey at November 4, 2003 11:47 PM | PERMALINK

Hi,
I don't have any idea why America went to war in Iraq. At first I thought it was oil interests, but I noticed that the big oil companies were not exactly in favor of it because they like "stability" and didn't think a US invasion would provide it. Right now all I can see is that Halliburton and Bechtel are getting money. As big and powerful as they are, it is hard to believe that the entire US would go to war so 2 companies could make some money off of US taxpayers. Obviously it is not the WMDs nor is it the non-existent connection to Al Qaida. So what is it?

I am disturbed by the rhetoric about whether or not Iraq is ready for democracy. Democracy, it is true, is a middle class thing and does not come by foreigners imposing it. But what makes you all think that Iraq didn't have a middle class? Iraq had a huge middle class. Though they have largely become very poor and desperate through the sanctions and Saddam's misrule, they are still people with middle class values and higher education. Before the Gulf War 1991, Iraq had the best education and health care and social services in the middle east and it had a huge middle class. This is not a defense of Saddam, of course. You can have a horrible police state that tortures political opponents and rapes their wives and assassinates people overseas and gasses minorities but still provides social services that support a big middle class. It is annoying to hear Americans talk about Iraq as if this 5,000 year old civilization didn't exist and as if they are all tribal nomads living in tents or something. Damn it. Iraq was a modern country, pre-1991. Its people are still modern. If left to themselves, they could be democratic. In the 1950s they were democratic, in fact, but their chosen leader was seen as being too independent and forced out and then later Saddam took over in a coup. And for those who don't want to discuss the past, how the hell can you do anything useful in the future if you have no clue what happened in the past?

Sorry this is so long and on too many different topics at once.

Posted by: A in Cairo at November 5, 2003 12:11 AM | PERMALINK

It's nice to hear a voice from someone from the region. A in Cairo is correct; US involvement in Iraq doesn't being in 1991. Hell, it doesn't even begin with US support for Saddam against Iran in the 1980s. Are any of you aware of the role the US government, through the CIA, actively played in establishing Saddam as ruler in Iraq? This is something the American people don't know too much about, but Iraqis certainly do. Americans have NO IDEA how much influence the US, through the Army, State dept., and the CIA, has had on the ordinary lives of people in the third world over the last 5 decades--most of it, negative. And Americans think that "they hate us because of our freedom"?!?!?!

Posted by: steviewurker at November 5, 2003 01:03 AM | PERMALINK

If they had doubts about the threat or only suspected programmes, why not wait a year for the inspectors to have a good look? If nothing else it sould have denied the French wriggle room.

It is not just the fact but the timing and diplomatic cost which must be justified.

Also what about ending the punitive sanctions as a justification "The sanction regime must not go on indefinitely and Saddam Hussein is clearly not safe to free. What can we do?". It would force other people to come up with an answer.

Posted by: Jack at November 5, 2003 01:13 AM | PERMALINK

Scottd, you are right about chemical weapons, but biological weapons represent a very serious danger.

As has been repeatedly pointed out, this is bullshit. All the biological agents have been known for 100 years, and all the classes of chemical agents for 70 years. Yet they have been used on few occasions. The reason is that militarily they aren't very effective. The expense and risk of preparation and delivery, and the unpredictable results make them inferior to ordinary explosives.

A little vial of anthrax really can kill out 200,00 - 400,000 people. It's that lethal.

Yes, if you engage in the intellectual dishonesty of taking a minimal lethal dose and multiplying by population, a task requiring junior high math skills. This assumes that your targets cooperate by sitting down and breathing through an inhaler so that none of your anthrax goes to waste.


A contagious disease like smallpox can infect almost a million people within a few weeks.

This is imbecilic. It "can" infect the entire planet. The choice of "almost a milion people" is arbitrary.

The New Yorker had a really good article on this six or seven years ago. Both the US and the Russians did a number of tests back in the 50's (the Russians were still doing them through the 80's) which involved the spraying of anthrax over civillian populations. The death estimates were in the hundreds of thousands.

IIRC, the Russian experience was an accidental escape. The "estimates" were extrapolations.

These weapons don't lead to Armageddon or anything -- even a contagious disease such as smallpox will die out evntually, that's just one of the facts of epidemieology.

Wrong again. Smallpox didn't "die out" and there's no indication that it would have. It was eradicated by a massive public health effort. And it could cause a worldwide pandemic with mortality possibility as high as 20-30%, which is why it's unlikely that anyone would make it. Aside from the possibility that no samples are available, the expense and hassle of running a big virology lab and the danger of an accidental release.

We're not talking the bubonic plague here.

No, it's worse. Plague is susceptible to several cheap, safe antibiotics like tetracyclines. After the first case is diagnosed, there would be few others. The same is effectively true of anthrax, although the biology of the infection is more complicated.

Nonetheless, we are talking about hundreds of thousands of deaths. That's very frightening. If the intelligence is ambiguous, sometimes you have to act anyway. The potential for disaster is too great to sit on your hands.

This is pathetically ignorant. We expect it of your posts, but the adinistration potentially has the informed input of experts. They are effectively lying in their claims, because they have the responsibility to provide honest leadership.

Posted by: Roger Bigod at November 5, 2003 02:57 AM | PERMALINK

At 100ft over a busy city street or a packed football stadium? I'd expect a large number of people would inhale some spores?

This is garbage. Someone would notice the crop-duster flying over the stadium and recognize the exposure. Anthrax is susceptible to cheap, safe antibiotics. The number of expected deaths, or even clinical infections, is zero. If you calculate the amount of anthrax necessary to infect a residential area from a high altitude, it's many kilograms. This would be expensive and dangerous to produce in weaponized form. For military purposes, it's cheaper and easier to use conventional explosives.

Posted by: Roger Bigod at November 5, 2003 03:23 AM | PERMALINK

I know I´m very much OT, but Anthrax and WMD are so passé...

Remember Greg Palast's article on the secret deal between Arnold and Ken Lay?

Here's a follow up:

"The Yurica Report has learned that only three days after Mr. Schwarzenegger won his victory in California, an aide announced that the governor-elect intends to settle pending energy fraud lawsuits. This apparently includes the suit filed by Cruz Bustamante under the California statute, Civil Code section 17200 ,of the Unfair Practices Act."

Posted by: R.Mutt at November 5, 2003 03:44 AM | PERMALINK

To answer Kevin's question, there are several layers of dishonesty in all this. We were told that we were going to war because of the threat of WMD and Saddam's connections with terrorist organizations, in particular Al-Qaeda. this turns out to be false. Ab worst, the administration lied. Ab best, they were self-deluded and abused intelligence services for the purpose of suppporting a war they had already decided on. In either case, it violates the clear guidance of the Constitution that war should be declared by congress on honest information and discussion. There is a certain irony in subverting the basis of our government in order to introduce democracy to Iraq.

Behind that layer of mendacity is the humanitarian justification. This comes in two forms. One is that we should be happy to improve the lot of the Iraqis. This has no justification in international law, and there are obviously populations living in worse conditions than Iraq under Saddam. The scare pretext is that invading Iraq is part of the War on Terror. this has the social-workerish slogan that conditions of poverty and hopelessness produce terrorists and that some kind of social uplift program will prevent events like those of 9/11. The impirical problem here is that none of the perps of 9/11 came from conditions of poverty and hopelessness, or from Iraq.

The humanitarian argument is also suspect in light of the lack of planning for rebuilding the infastructure or political system. We are in violation of several provisions of international law regarding occupying powers, including the use of collective punishment and rearranging the Iraqi economy to our benefit. It appears that very little of the appropriated money will go to ordinary Iraqis. One of the NY Times columnists has warned us to be mentally prepared for the atrocities we will have to commit in Iraq, and more bluntly, Trent Lott has suggested we may have to "mow them down". This isn't in the highest tradition of liberal compassion.

The closest thing we have for a reason are the writings of the neocons in the PNAC and the work of the AEI. The agenda for years before 9/11was the serial invasion and occupation of several Islamic countries in the Middle East. Clark was shown a list of 7 countries. The intellectual inspiration for this derives from the thinking of Leo Strauss, with elements of Trotsky. There is a strange alliance here of ideology and corporate greed. If things unravel to the extent that the decision makers have to choose between them, we may have an answer to Kevin's question.

Posted by: Roger Bigod at November 5, 2003 03:58 AM | PERMALINK

We are in violation of several provisions of international law regarding occupying powers, including the use of collective punishment and rearranging the Iraqi economy to our benefit.

I assume you're correct, but could you tell me which laws or treaties are being violated? Geneva Convention? UN Charter? Forcing the local puppet government to borrow money is probably illegal too, but under which laws?

The intellectual inspiration for this derives from the thinking of Leo Strauss, with elements of Trotsky. There is a strange alliance here of ideology and corporate greed.

I don´t think there is any ideology at all. Neoconservatism, imo, can best be compared to supply-side economics. It's not that a model, or ideas about the economy lead to certain conclusions, but rather the other way round. First there was the desire to have lower taxes (except for lucky duckies), and only then, as an afterthought, came an ideological motivation.

Posted by: R.Mutt at November 5, 2003 04:16 AM | PERMALINK

The invasion of Iraq was illegal under the UN Charter, as Iraq was not a current threat to the US or the UK, and it seems clear that Bush and Co, and Blair, were aware that it wasn't (or at least, had access to information showing them that it wasn't).

The Fourth Geneva Convention sets out rules "aimed at safeguarding the dignity and
physical integrity of persons living under occupation". The ICRC website has the full text of the Geneva Conventions, plus much more: I've linked to the section on "International humanitarian law in brief".

Posted by: Jesurgislac at November 5, 2003 04:34 AM | PERMALINK

I assume you're correct, but could you tell me which laws or treaties are being violated?

One of the Geneva Conventions says the occupying power has to respect previous economic arrangements. This means that the flat tax and privatizing infrastructure are wrong. Juan Cole has written this up in the past few days. We destroyed palm orchards around one town to punish the villagers for not informing on the resistance. This is collective punishment and is illegal, although if the reason was that snipers were using the orchards, that would be licit. It's really stupid if we want to win hearts and minds, though.

I don´t think there is any ideology at all. Neoconservatism, imo, can best be compared to supply-side economics.

It depends on the definition, obviously. If you mean the movement that started with Irving Kristol and others around 1970 and evolved into the PNAC, the ideology was important. Kristol believes in promoting Creationism, for example, because that promotes belief in the supernatural, hence religion, hence social order. He's said that there are different truths for different people, i.e. it's good to lie to the masses. This is an explicit rejection of the Enlightenment ideal of universal education. obviously, if you think the general public should be lied to about matters of science, you have no problem lying about the reasons for a war. These attitudes have little to do with economics.

Posted by: Roger Bigod at November 5, 2003 04:50 AM | PERMALINK

Thx for the comments re: international law, Jesurgislac & Roger.

As for neoconservatism, I didn´t mean to say that it has anything to do with economics, but only that, like supply-side economics, it seemed like an ideology that was only constructed after it had been decided what conclusions it should reach. Just my impression.

Kristol's ideas on education and the social order are quite interesting. I´ll have a look at that. Thanks.

Posted by: R.Mutt at November 5, 2003 05:11 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin, Bush went into Iraq because War is a Force that gives Life Meaning. Read: a bump in the polls.

I agree with the above poster who says that the humanitarian argument will always have a lot of sway. To me, though, it just shows the lie. How much humanitarian good could have been done with $100-200 billion?

"Bush is responsble for protecting Americans from a terrorist attack."

Operation: Ignore
Iran
North Korea
Loose Russian nukes
Not to mention that there were inspectors on the ground, and "TUWAITHA!"

Posted by: MattB at November 5, 2003 05:18 AM | PERMALINK

It is documented that the neocons had wanted to get Saddam for 10 years.

The 2000 election and 9/11 made it possible.

The constant hyping of the 'imminent threat' theme added to the fear that 9/11 triggered.

That's the "we'll go to war because we can" part.

The unbelievable incompetence, the breathtaking disregard of elementary precautions to protect suspected weapon sites and arms dumps -- these demonstrate unequivocally that they didn't care what happened afterwards.

All this talk of 'freedom' for Iraq when the U.S. has put the Iraqi economy up for sale -- and Bush et al claim not to understand why there might be opposition?

It is unbelievably bizarre and our children and grandchildren will be paying for it long after Bush is gone.,

Posted by: Joe Betsin at November 5, 2003 05:29 AM | PERMALINK

I am always dismayed by the argument that the liberation of Iraq was wrong because it violated international law. According to this way of thinking, it is wrong to liberate the oppressed if the UN does not sanction it. They should be left to suffer in bondage. Conversly, if hideously brutal Chinese and Syrian dictatorships approve of the liberation, it is morally acceptable.

Look, a lot of people are believers in the UN. It is a highly flawed institution, but international cooperation is a good idea. We can all hope that one day nations will settle their dfferences through diplomacy and international agreements rather than war.

But are you really willing to sacrifice the Iraqi people just to uphold the pipe dream of international law? Sadaam was regularly murdering innocent Iraqis. Are you really willing to condemn then to DEATH just becuase the French don't agree with our policy?

Posted by: Joe Schmoe at November 5, 2003 05:36 AM | PERMALINK

>The ICRC website has the full text of the Geneva Conventions

The Univ. Minnesota Human Rights Library also has the full text (along with ratification information) of "International Human Rights Instruments"

http://www1.umn.edu/humanrts/instree/ainstls1.htm

Posted by: raj at November 5, 2003 05:41 AM | PERMALINK

But are you really willing to sacrifice the Iraqi people just to uphold the pipe dream of international law? Sadaam was regularly murdering innocent Iraqis. Are you really willing to condemn then to DEATH just becuase the French don't agree with our policy?

yes, because I strongly suspected that without real international involvement it was very likely the cure would prove most costly & fatal than the disease.

and I was fucking right.

Posted by: Troy at November 5, 2003 05:58 AM | PERMALINK

Joe, you're and ardent apologist, answer me this:

Isn't it the defining characteristic of "bad judgement" not to be able to revisit past decisions and say, "knowing then what I know now, I would make the same decision."

Little, if anything this administration has done this past year w/r/t meets this criterion of good judgement.

Posted by: Troy at November 5, 2003 06:03 AM | PERMALINK

Sadaam was regularly murdering innocent Iraqis.

and we just killed many thousands of them with bombs and falling concrete. and now Bush has literally invited a third party into Iraq to fight an entirely different war, irrelevant to the invasion, which will kill even more innocent Iraqis.

imagine what that must be like: imagine that a gang moves into your neighborhood, kills a bunch of your friends and family, then challenges another gang to come over to have a big Battle Royale, right in your motherfuckin front yard. for your trouble, you get the honor of catching any stray bullets or bombs.

it is simply stunning to me that all you pro-war people refuse to even consider that Bush's Way was the only way to get rid of Saddam.

Posted by: ChrisL at November 5, 2003 06:07 AM | PERMALINK

"w/r/t Iraq"

Posted by: Troy at November 5, 2003 06:08 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin, Kevin, Kevin. Come on dude! Jane and Joe sixpack know what it's about. Didn't you ever see one of those "Kick Their Ass and Get Their Gas" signs at pro-war rallies? I'm not making this up.

You have to understand the hypocritical conservative mentality. Sunday it's Chruch, Monday it's "I get whatever I can, because I'm competitive." They know it's all code. They've been voting for race-baiting Republicans for years using code such as "welfare = blacks". This is just more code. They get it.

Sure, there might be a clueless mushy middle that actually believes the words bush utters, and part of the media fight is about them. There is also a semi-honest conservative intellectual elite that needs to twist itself into pretzels to coherently justify bush's policies. But the 35% core conservative vote knows exactly what it's getting, and likes it.

Posted by: M. Aurelius at November 5, 2003 06:08 AM | PERMALINK

s/was/wasn't in that last sentence.

Posted by: ChrisL at November 5, 2003 06:08 AM | PERMALINK

obe says
And Ron is sure to complain that since you fail to offer a solution to the huge mess bushco has created, you have no right at all to criticize him.

I went off to have some other fun before this got posted, and while it looks like a fine topic I'm not going to wade through 150 posts. But anyway obe, it's good to see I was missed :)

And I promise to only complain about your lack of plan when you're complaining about Bush's lack of plan. As far as this post goes (no stated reason for being in Iraq since the WMDs didn't pan out), I can't complain about that.

I wonder though, if the reason for being in Iraq is the domino theory, or the cover Israel's flank, or many of the other really good reasons, could we announce that to the world? How would other Arab countries take this?

I am not in favor of withdrawing, but I understand what Kevin D is saying.

Posted by: Ron at November 5, 2003 06:11 AM | PERMALINK

Long, but this item from Juan Cole (www.juancole.com) is spot on:

CBS Cancels Reagan Miniseries

For further proof that the First Amendment only protects free speech from the US government (mostly), but not from the large corporations, CBS has caved to rightwing pressure to shelve their miniseries on Ronald Reagan. It was a relatively negative portrayal. But the presidents don't belong to the right wing, they belong to all Americans, and we can all be critical of any of them when we choose.

In fact, of course, Ronald Reagan bears substantial responsibility for September 11. He and his administration were so gung ho to roll back Communism that they funneled billions of dollars to scruffy far rightwing radical Muslim mujahidin in Pakistan and Afghanistan to fight the Soviets. Orrin Hatch even flew to Beijing for Reagan in 1985 to ask the Chinese to pressure Pakistan to allow the US to provide the Mujahidin with ever more sophisticated weaponry. Even the Pakistani military had initially balked at this crazy idea, knowing who the Gulbuddin Hikmatyars and Usama Bin Ladens really were (unlike clueless Reagan, who called them freedom fighters). But the US twisted the Pakistanis' arms, and they gave in. Likewise, Reagan forced the timid Saudis to match US contributions to the Mujahidin. (And then after Sept. 11 the former Reagan officials who had twisted the arms of the Saudis, like Richard Perle, turned around and blamed Riyadh for spreading radical Muslim ideas!!) It was the CIA that first established terrorist training camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan, to hit the leftist government in Kabul. I wouldn't be surprised if some of the camps used by al-Qaeda had been built originally by the Reagan administration.

Then after the Reagan administration contributed to the destruction of Afghanistan with this proxy war, its successor, the Bush administration, made a deal with the Soviets for a US withdrawal from Afghanistan once the Soviets were gone. The US just walked away, leaving the country in chaos. The right often tries to blame Clinton for this, but it was Bush senior that agreed to the deal and walked away, before Clinton ever got in.

The Christian Coalition and other rightwing religious groups supporting Reagan even had a "biblical checklist" by which they wanted all senators and congressmen to be judged. And one of the items in the "biblical checklist" was "support for the Afghan 'freedom fighters.' The rightwing Christians were saying in the 1980s that if you didn't support al-Qaeda and its Mujahidin allies, you didn't deserve to be in Congress! They wanted representatives tossed out for this crime. And now the same groups are droning on about how the Prophet Muhammad was a terrorist, cashing in on Sept. 11 to spread religious bigotry. But the Prophet Muhammad opposed terrorism. Who promoted al-Qaeda and kindred groups? Jerry Falwell and Ronald Reagan.

Why did CBS cave? Maybe some advertisers threatened to pull out, in the face of threatened boycotts by special interest advocacy groups. The US has the oddest system. Technically, the airwaves belong to the US public. But the unelected Federal Communications Commission gives away the right to broadcast on them virtually for free to large corporations. Initially the corporations were supposed to broadcast some socially useful programs in return, and were supposed to maintain some sort of political balance. But now they don't do either. (People who watched CBS news were as likely as people who watched Fox Cable News to believe falsehoods such as that Saddam was mixed up in 9/11 or that Iraq was close to having a nuke.)

Then once the people's airwaves have been given away to the corporations, they rent them to other corporations to sell us their products, thus paying for the programs we see. Programming is subsidiary to the advertisements that pay for it. If advertisers won't support programming, it gets pulled, so that they have a veto on what the people can watch. Of course, there is a double corporate veto, since the networks themselves censor what can be seen to begin with. Television execs active in the 1960s remember being told to avoid showing labor activists in their programs, e.g. When's the last time you saw a character on t.v. who was explicitly active in a union?

Michael Powell (Colin's son who is far more rightwing than his father) was even going to let a handful of corporations control all programming, but that was too much even for Congress.

So the US is becoming Berlusconi-ized, with a few fabulously wealthy men deciding what appears in our media, and with Bush's tax giveaways to the super-rich giving them the wherewithal to buy up even more of the country's media.

And we can't even point out on television, with the people's airwaves, that Reagan went off the deep end on Afghanistan, or that he shredded the Constitution with Iran-Contra.

Posted by: David W. at November 5, 2003 06:16 AM | PERMALINK

David W

Ya, a company caving to consumer demand. A new and terrible concept likely to rend the very fabric of our society.

Posted by: Ron at November 5, 2003 06:21 AM | PERMALINK

But are you really willing to sacrifice the Iraqi people just to uphold the pipe dream of international law? Sadaam was regularly murdering innocent Iraqis. Are you really willing to condemn then to DEATH just becuase the French don't agree with our policy?

Gee, golly! Now the Republicans are concerned about innocent Iraqis? They spent the 1980's giving Iran and Iraq weapons and intelligence, and for Iraq even tactical analysis, all to make sure neither side would win and the war would go on and on, resulting in thousands of casualties year after year. And in my book, and 18-year-old Iraqi (or Iranian) conscript is just as innocent as a civilian. We are not talking about Baathists or the Republican guard here.

And where, exactly, was the Republican concern for Afghan civilians? They fed a war there for 10 years, to spite the Russians (just like they fed the Viet-Nam war to spite us). Neither side ever gave a damn about Afghan or Vietnamese civilians, abstractions in the "big picture" of Cold-War politics. What's one or two million dead towelheads or gooks between friends?

Face it, the US (or England, or France for that matter, as well as Russia, the Japanese, and any other present or former World Power), has exactly zero credibility with this argument. I mean the British actually used chemical weapons against Iraq in the 1930's. And they pretend now to be the people who have the right to invade (again) the country they so mistreated?

The innocent Iraqi concern argument might fly in places where they get their history from Fox News, but not a single educated person in the rest of the world believes it, even if they favored the war.

Posted by: M. Aurelius at November 5, 2003 06:27 AM | PERMALINK

Joe Schmoe is really Ahmed Chalabi. Really.

Posted by: Paul at November 5, 2003 06:35 AM | PERMALINK

Senate Democrats discuss plan to intentionally sabotage investigation of pre-War intelligence for political benefit:

http://www.cjonline.com/stories/110503/kan_roberts.shtml

Lets see how this gets spun by the " Bush is Hitler/ Repugs are evil " segment of the internet acivist crowd

Posted by: mark safranski at November 5, 2003 06:35 AM | PERMALINK

"Staying the course is so obviously right, that a response is almost impossible."

Staying the course isn't obviously right, it isn't even right. The US presence is the CAUSE of the violence, not the means to its end. The US gets out and yes there will still be violence for a while, probably even really bad, but eventually the Iraqis will work out what they may. With the US staying in the middle of it, there will only escalating violence with no end.

Posted by: danuube at November 5, 2003 06:36 AM | PERMALINK

Joe, try this one:

"I am always dismayed by the argument that lynching accused murderers and rapists was wrong because it violated the law. According to this way of thinking, it is wrong to punish criminals if the court does not sanction it. Their victims should be left to suffer. "

There are reasons we have structures of law and institutions built to enforce them, rather than just gathering a posse every time a crime is alleged to have happened. Going through an institutional procedure slows down the delivery of justice, but it also can prevent hideous mistakes by making law enforcement work hard to prove its case.

Iraq is, if nothing else, a textbook example of why rushing into invasions without UN sanction is a horrible idea. Nearly all of our stated reasons for doing it were mistaken, and the aftermath is becoming a fiasco.

Posted by: jimBOB at November 5, 2003 06:39 AM | PERMALINK

I'm still a little unclear about Greg's point, though. I think Kevin makes a better argument, but Easterbrook seems to be saying that if the administration suddenly found a stock of WMD tomorrow, we definitely need to stay but that if don't, we definitely need to leave. This seems like an odd construction: aren't we interested in the security of the region? Wasn't WMD a large part of that, mainly to bolster our claims that Hussein would attack again? If Hussein was never a threat, surely Iraq is a threat (I'd argue, more of a threat) now, right?

Posted by: Reed at November 5, 2003 06:39 AM | PERMALINK

There's a little cult in Japan that's been performing bioterrorism for years.

Fortunately, none of their attacks worked at all. They had the dread botulism (more than the single vial that Saddam had, and didn't weaponize) - not a single person hurt. They sprayed anthrax for HOURS from a skyscraper onto a city street. Not a single person hurt.

"Aum was not your typical terrorist group. It had at least four years of undetected activity, unlimited funds, a reasonable pool of people, and all the right equipment--and still it failed."

I'm not saying it couldn't happen - but the cost to benefit ratio of a biochem attack is so damned low, especially in terrorist methods of delivery, that we need more than a decade-old stockpile (supposedly) to justify a war.

This is, at its core, about what it means to be a liberal democracy. We are a model to other nations, and the fact that we have essentially declared that the bar for going to war is saying that the other nation is bad and might do something wrong - great news for India, Pakistan, China, Taiwan, and numerous other hot spots around the world.

Iraq could have been a great liberalizing mission. It could have shown to the world a commitment to promoting democracy in the Middle East through international coalition building and tough stances. What it showed, however, is that we're willing to do anything to get the wars we want, with the belief that liberal democracy will come along just as soon as the media stops reporting bad stuff. This was a mission that, as undertaken, was not in our national interest - the greater threats around the world require such responses, and an aggressive, democratizing, diplomatic, humanitarian, international push would have done much more not only to have an actual coalition of nations (rather than the ragtag group of us, Britain, Australia, and 30 countries which are donating scant amounts of supplies), but also to democratize Iraq while gaining a fuller assessment of Saddam's actual threat. It's not that Bush went to war - it's that he made virtually no effort to make a real case, and instead created a fantasy world where Saddam could magically meld tubes into nuclear production facilities and where hydrogen trailers produce biological weapons.

What Bush did was a mockery of what a leader should do. It's not that he went to war because he weighed the pros against the cons - he already decided that there were no cons, and jumped right in. The problem with the "liberal action" argument is that liberal action can't simply be taken willy-nilly, throwing a few hundred billion dollars wherever it's most convenient. Bush is in a war, and he legitimately took what he thought would be the path of least resistance. That's not leadership.

Posted by: jesse at November 5, 2003 06:45 AM | PERMALINK

Senate Democrats discuss plan to intentionally sabotage investigation of pre-War intelligence for political benefit:

We're calling you axis, you're spinning so fast.

A memo that was never circulated, that wasn't given to the committee, that doesn't appear to be their plan at all...right. At least we got a "helping the terrorists" mention thrown in.

You might want to get on your President for obstructing the present, Republican-led committee. If obstructing a committee designed to investigate intelligence failures is wrong when it's insinuated in a discarded, unpublished memo, then I'd think it was also wrong when it is actually done by the White House.

Now, do you want to fight the War on Terror, or do you want to keep on the LGF/FR train of "Democrats' (utterly misrepresented) thoughts alone keep us from fighting terrorism! The power of their minds is fearsome!"

Posted by: jesse at November 5, 2003 06:52 AM | PERMALINK

OT, but I can't find another place to post this (sorry):

In San Francisco, the mayoral runoff will be between a middle-road Democrat from the Willie Brown/Dianne Feinstein camp, and a progressive Green!

I know many/most here hate when Greens run for office, 'cause they can't possibly win and can only throw the election to the GOP.

But here's a race where that's ABSOLUTELY not true.

I hope we can all agree to support the Green, Matt Gonzales, or else stop pretending we're progressives (who stand against the acceptance of corporate donations/bribes, stand against capital punishment, stand against those who marginalize the poor to cadge some votes from the priviledged, stand for rent stabilization measures that will allow affordable housing for ALL, stand for universal health care).

Matt Gonzales can win! It's a one-on-one runoff! Finally, there is no "spoiler" issue!

Let's be true progressives and support this guy!

www.mattgonzales.com

Posted by: Patrick Meighan at November 5, 2003 07:00 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin, it's not all that mysterious to me why we are where we are. We got in because Bush's neocon handlers wanted to do their imperialist hopscotching through the middle east, taking out one anti-american government after another with high-tech lighting strikes, and planting pro-american democracies in each case before moving on. (Insane, but that was the plan.) They had this guy Chalabi who they could install in Iraq, who also was telling them it would be a cakewalk and that Saddam had WDM.

Bush agreed with the project for a whole rat's nest of reasons. In addition to buying into the neocon fantasy, he wanted to cast down his father's main nemesis (who was, in W's mind, also responsible for an assasination attempt against Poppy), get revenge against some towel-heads, secure some middle eastern oil, get a non-saudi basing option for U.S. forces in the region, reward important constituencies like Bechtel and Halliburton, and get a war on to raise his poll numbers and distract from the tanking economy.

Once the course of action was decided upon, they followed standard Bush MO and justified it with any lies that were convenient. Now, like all other Dubya policies, it's self-destructing as they try to execute. If the right didn't own the media they'd be in much worse trouble politically.

Posted by: jimBOB at November 5, 2003 07:02 AM | PERMALINK

The canard that the U.S. invasion of Iraq is "just as bad" as life under Saddam is farcical and distorts the truth. During Saddam's 35-year reign, an estimated 1 million Iraqis were killed by their own government. This excludes the Iranian deaths from the Iran-Iraq war and the invasion of Kuwait. Four million Iraqis fled the country during that time. In percentage terms, in the U.S. it would be as if 11.2 million people were murdered by the U.S. government, and 44.8 million (one-fifth of the population) went into exile. There are 272 mass grave sites already discovered in Iraq, one filled with the bodies of 1200 children under 3 years of age. There are acres of conventional armaments purchased very recently in explicit contravention to U.N. sanctions. Virtually every family in Iraq has suffered daths or imprisonment at the hands of the regime, even Saddam's own family members. Saying that the U.S. actions, whether you agree with them or not, are morally equivalent to Saddam's regime is ridiculous.

Tony Blair, for one, made the humanitarian argument repeatedly well before the war; it's easy enough to check this by simply reading his pre-war speeches. WMD was clearly the Bush administration's main selling point for the war, so critique away, but it's stunning to me that so many would accuse the Presidnet of deliberate lying and bad faith--I don't think any President, Democrat or Republican, goes to war on a lark. You may say it was a terrible move, ill-advised, poorly planned. But to claim that Bush "lied" ex post facto is highly speculative--the WMD situation in Iraq was a highly opaque one, and most Western governments (as well as Iraqi generals) believed Saddam had actual WMD's or could manufacture them in very short order.

Just as ridiculous and offensive is saying "fuck you" to Joe Schmoe because he disagrees with you and argues his points. It's crude, ad hominem, and totally uncalled-for. If your case against Bush is so compelling, whay not simply argue it point by point? The vitriol in evidence among a number of posters here is a very big turn-off; Politics is the art of persuasion, not cursing insults hurled against anyone who disagrees with you; and yes, Republicans do it too, and it's just as unpleasant.

Posted by: Daniel Calto at November 5, 2003 07:13 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin writes: Not just in negative terms ("we won't be scared away") but in positive terms of what his goal is. What does he really, truly want to accomplish?

Duh.

It's answered in the first line of your own Bush quote:

"A peaceful and free Iraq is essential to the security of the United States," Mr. Bush said. "This will help change the world in a positive way so that years from now, people will sit back and say, 'Thank goodness America stayed the course and did what was necessary to win this battle in the war on terror.' "

Hmm..."peaceful", "free", and changing the world "in a positive way". Those sound like pretty positive terms of what his goals are. Did you even read the quotation before you copied and pasted it, then asked "What, oh what, does he want to accomplish?"?

It would be funny if it weren't sad.

Posted by: Derek James at November 5, 2003 07:16 AM | PERMALINK

Ya, a company caving to consumer demand. A new and terrible concept likely to rend the very fabric of our society.

Ron, it wasn't consumer demand that led CBS to cancel the series on Reagan, it was political pressure from the RNC led by Ed Gillespie. As such, it's not the end of the earth as much as a sign of the times.

Posted by: David W. at November 5, 2003 07:20 AM | PERMALINK

Nope, Daniel. Bush and his cronies lied.

What else can you call it when he uses itelligence that has been discredited by his own intelligence agencies as a rationale to go to war?

What else can you call it when he cites an IAEA report that doesn't say what he claimed?

Of course, this doesn't address the many instances Bush elected to believe intelligence estimates that were deemed to be least likely or of the lowest probable credibility.

Posted by: JadeGold at November 5, 2003 07:29 AM | PERMALINK

Another sign of the times now:

Shedding a Shirt and Some Rights - (Washington Post, Letter to the Editor, 11-1-2003)

On Oct. 25, the current erosion of civil liberties in the United States affected me personally. After attending the antiwar rally on the Mall, my daughter, granddaughter and I decided to go to the food court at the Ronald Reagan Building. As we passed through the security checkpoint at the building entrance, a guard politely informed me that I'd have to put away my poster, which read, "End the Occupation of Iraq." I had no problem with that, so I rolled up the poster and stashed it in my tote bag.

I also happened to be wearing a T-shirt over a turtleneck. The shirt is red, with "Unite to Fight Imperialist War" printed in 3/4-inch black letters, arranged in a seven-inch circle around an image of two clasped hands -- one white and one black. On the back, it says "No Imperialist War" in 19 languages. It was when the guard informed me that I'd have to remove my T-shirt that the exhilaration of the day faded. I explained that, in wearing the shirt, I was exercising my right to freedom of speech as guaranteed to U.S. citizens under the Constitution. He said he understood that, but that I had to remove my shirt before he could allow me to enter the building. Not wanting to involve my daughter and granddaughter in a scene, feeling sickened, I removed my shirt.

I instantly regretted my decision to comply with this violation of my civil rights, and I regret it still. The fact that I went to the nearest restroom and put the shirt on again didn't make me feel any better.

The Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center is a federal property -- it is owned by me and every other citizen. That I acquiesced to a requirement to doff one of our most treasured constitutional rights along with my shirt in order to enter a federal building has left me with feelings of outrage and shame: outrage that the land of the free is no such thing, and shame that I didn't have the presence of mind to protest this injustice loudly enough to get hauled off to jail.

SHIREEN PARSONS

Posted by: David W. at November 5, 2003 07:30 AM | PERMALINK

Just as ridiculous and offensive is saying "fuck you" to Joe Schmoe because he disagrees with you and argues his points. It's crude, ad hominem, and totally uncalled-for. If your case against Bush is so compelling, whay not simply argue it point by point?

because for the most part, our opponents are intellectually dishonest, and are not interesting in arguing the points.

Posted by: danelectro at November 5, 2003 07:33 AM | PERMALINK

because for the most part, our opponents are intellectually dishonest, and are not interesting in arguing the points.

Trust me, most readers are able to tell if that's the case. By all means, feel free point out a bogus argument and thanks to all those here who do so. But judging the character of your opponent(s) is an exercise which is best left to the individual reader.

Posted by: David W. at November 5, 2003 07:37 AM | PERMALINK

David W

I might add that AFAIK the RNC had not even seen the film.

Reagan is sacrosanct, a living saint, maybe they'll eventually build a tomb in front of the Capitol and put his body on permanent disply, like Lenin.

Posted by: Sovok at November 5, 2003 07:38 AM | PERMALINK

Tony Blair, for one, made the humanitarian argument repeatedly well before the war

He did. But Tony Blair isn't President. And the UK isn't picking up the check. Most people here--at least I wouldn't and I'm pretty sure Kevin Drum isn't either--aren't arguing that a moral case for the military removal of Hussein couldn't have been made, we're arguing that Bush didn't make it, or only made it in the most cursory, cover-your-ass way. For good and bad the state of Iraq today is the result of that.

Heh. Re: Carol: We're not the only ones who haven't a clue what she's on about.

Posted by: Paul at November 5, 2003 07:44 AM | PERMALINK

Trust me, most readers are able to tell if that's the case. By all means, feel free point out a bogus argument and thanks to all those here who do so. But judging the character of your opponent(s) is an exercise which is best left to the individual reader.

i'd like to clarify that i was making a general point about this blog, and not joe schmoe in particular. i haven't paid enough attention to his posts to say one way or another.

Posted by: danelectro at November 5, 2003 07:44 AM | PERMALINK

"Really? At 100ft over a busy city street or a packed football stadium? I'd expect a large number of people would inhale some spores?"

Heh. Wow.

As others have said, people would notice, which would make immediate treatment fairly easy, and risk of death or severe infection essentially zero.

And the infection area is too small. It's REALLY hard to manually distribute the dust (cause the fantasy that crop dusting technology could do it is just that -- a fantasy) WHILE FLYING over such a tiny area. Even if you could dump several gallons of it and manage to hit the stadium or the street, it wouldn't have enough time to spread in the air. It would hit a few people who would probably feel the dust being dumped on them. That, in combination with the fact that a few keen observers would notice the plane flying 100 ft above them, would mean that those who happened to get infected could be treated quickly.

Delivering anthrax via plane simply isn't practical.

Posted by: kormal at November 5, 2003 07:58 AM | PERMALINK

>Just as ridiculous and offensive is saying "fuck you" to Joe Schmoe because he disagrees with you and argues his points. It's crude, ad hominem, and totally uncalled-for

It may be crude and uncalled-for, but saying "fuck you" is not ad hominem.

Consider it a curt dismissal of his points. That is different than ad hominem

Posted by: raj at November 5, 2003 07:59 AM | PERMALINK

Saying that the U.S. actions, whether you agree with them or not, are morally equivalent to Saddam's regime is ridiculous.

It's not about "moral equivalence", a canard if there ever was one. It's simpler than that: Saddam was an Iraqi, the US has no business there. Nobody assigned the US the task of defending human rights around the planet, and as I noted above, no World Power has, by itself rather than through multinational institutions, sufficient moral credbility, when it comes to human rights in the third world, to invade and occupy a sovereign country that is not a threat to it.

But actually, things are a little worse than that. The US and the UK are directly responsible for having toppled a democratic regime in Iran in 1953, which they replaced by a tyranical Shah, whose 25 year US-supported regime was responsible for an estimated 300,000 deaths, millions of exiles, torture, suppression of all basic freedoms, and so forth. US support was active and direct, in full knowledge of what was going on. Further, by systematically killing off the secular opposition, we led Iran down the path of fundamentalism because the clergy was relatively protected, leading to Khomeni and the Iran/Iraq war, which the Reagan administration encouraged, leading to a further one million dead Iranians and about 250,000 dead Iraqis.

Not to put too fine a point on it, we, or rather the Esienhower administration, are responsible for having esentially destroyed the hope and dreams of three generations of Iraninans, and that basically to assure cheap oil.

Only in your PNAC dreams is the US in a moral position to do absolutely anything by force to any country in the Middle East. We represent nothing but blood and tears to these people, which is why they cheer when our soldiers die.

Posted by: M. Aurelius at November 5, 2003 08:10 AM | PERMALINK

"Uncalled-for?"

Under certain circumstances, profanity provides a relief denied even to prayer. - Mark Twain

Sometimes, nothing says it like the "f"-word.

Posted by: Sovok at November 5, 2003 08:12 AM | PERMALINK

The Geneva conventions have an out clause. 1) if the other side is not a signaturary, or 2) the other side violates the convention. Storing weapons in hospitals, using red crescent vehicles for military purposes, and the fadayeen are all violations of the conventions.

The US had a cease fire with Iraq, which Iraq broke on several occasions. Even under UN rules, this would qualify as a legal resumption of war.

The UN is a political organization. Its members are subject to the desires of the rulers they represent. I fail to see why it and its members are granted any more creditability than any other large group of politicians.

This of coarse has nothing to do with a justification for invading Iraq.

Posted by: james at November 5, 2003 08:15 AM | PERMALINK

Saying fuck you to someone is certainly appropriate at times--like if he's called you an ignorant moron or said you're happy that U.S. troops are dying or has accused you of being treasonous in the Ann Coulter fashion. Fire away. But saying "fuck you" to dismiss someone else's argument, whether you think it's a good one or not, is simply intellectual laziness and failure to engage in argument, not a "curt dismissal of someone's points."

Posted by: Daniel Calto at November 5, 2003 08:20 AM | PERMALINK

Here’s something interesting, from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists – everyone’s favorite quick read in the waiting room at the dentist’s office. (Isn’t there always a copy lying around?) And any author who starts out “one was reminded of Cato the Elder” is grabbing Joe Six-Pack’s attention right there.

Well, a lot of this is a review of the history of the policy of “mutually assured destruction” and how that way of thinking about scary weapons, and about death and destruction, and about safety, was worked out down the street from where I now sit at the Rand Corporation in Santa Monica. When I first moved to California and rented a place on the sand in Manhattan Beach I used to chat with my landlord, one of the Rand guys with his two or three PhD’s who said he spent his days calculating kill ratios and who’d be left alive but glowing should we or the Soviets get really ticked off. One of his PhD’s was in mathematics – game theory. I was working for the defense contractors at the time – Northrop and then Hughes – and these chats were always a tad unsettling. Then I married the daughter of one of the Assistant Secretaries of Defense for Reagan. Ah, those were the days.

But this guy here draws it all back to Iraq. He says we’re suffering from the remnants of that way of looking at conflict. He says back then “even the smallest chance of vulnerability was unacceptable, given the catastrophic consequences involved in nuclear war. This made it imperative to anticipate the enemy's every move.” And he says we’re still thinking that way. He traces “strategic thought” at Rand in the sixties down though the years directly to Paul Wolfowitz. Cool.

Seems that Wolfowitz did his PhD dissertation at the University of Chicago for an ex-Rand theorist – on nuclear proliferation in the Middle East. Wolfowitz argued that the United States needed to look beyond simply defending traditional allies against the communist bloc. Areas with natural resources vital to our economy ought to be as much a part of a “strategic defense umbrella,” and anybody with the capability to threaten those areas must be “regarded with concern” – and suggested that “even the hint of nuclear weapons in the Middle East would be a matter of the gravest concern.” This was the late sixties. Then Wolfowitz and Richard Perle went on to work for “Scoop” Jackson and the rest is history.

Key conclusions regarding the current war?

"Why was the war necessary in the first place? In the eyes of those who pressed for war, the United States was already in a quagmire following the indeterminate outcome of the first Gulf War. According to Wolfowitz, leaving Saddam Hussein in power was a big mistake. The way he saw it, there was no way to readmit Iraq under Saddam Hussein back into the community of nations, because it would then be impossible to suppress his ambitions to acquire weapons of mass destruction. Given the zero margin of error that weapons of mass destruction allow, and the strategic significance of the Middle East, such an ambition could not be tolerated. The sanctions, for their part, could not be maintained indefinitely, either. The status quo was the quagmire, and regime change was the only way out. And the sooner it was carried out, the lower the cost of the operation and rebuilding would be.

"The quest for an impregnable defense and military supremacy over the rest of the world has brought America to a perilous moment of truth. …The application of counterforce ideas to a guerrilla war pulled the United States into a colossal quagmire in Vietnam. But the doctrine of preemptive action turns the iron law of necessity in nuclear strategy into foreign policy. This time the quagmire will not be an unwinnable war in one country, but endless war across a vast stretch of the Earth—a war from which extrication will be next to impossible."

A fascinating history all laid out here. Ten points if you read the whole thing. And a bonus of five more points if you read the footnotes.

- Alan


The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists - November/December 2003, Volume 59, No. 6, pp. 62–71
URL: http://www.thebulletin.org/issues/2003/nd03/nd03husain.html
Neocons: The men behind the curtain
By Khurram Husain

Posted by: Alan at November 5, 2003 08:24 AM | PERMALINK

Kudos to jesse for one of the best-made arguments against the war that I have read recently. He didn't diminish the nastiness of Hussein; he didn't say it was a war for oil, or call Bush a fascist; he didn't impugn the motives of those who might disagree with him; and most of all, he laid out a credible alternative to actually confront Saddam's regime rather than simply evading the question of it. It's too bad his sensibility isn't too widespread in this particular thread.

Posted by: Daniel Calto at November 5, 2003 08:34 AM | PERMALINK

I liked Jesse's argument, but I don't think there were pros and cons to weigh. I think that war in the Middle East was inevitable. The only questions were: at what time and at what place. We selected the time and place, the only reasonable thing to do.

My reasoning:
The Middle East is a breeding ground for terrorists. There are socio-economic reasons for discontent, but the Middle East is not the only place on Earth where these conditions exist. They do, however, have the spare change to fund terrorists.

The US has made itself a target. Some amount of this is due to actions of the US (support for Israel, spread of our culture, etc), but that is not a sufficient condition for being a target. Witness the amount of aid and support that we send to the Middle East, if these things were being weighed as some being good and some being bad we would not stand out so much.

The reason we are a target is our limited response. And when we did respond it tended to be from high altitude and/or long range (this was not limited to any one administration, it was the American way of tolerance).

Now, in order for heads of terrorist groups to motivate followers, an evil to fight is needed. What better evil than one that is fairly safe to attack? That is why we are a target.

As for why Iraq? There were some reasons: maltreatment of Iraqi people by Hussein, Hussein's desire to obtain WMDs, the rest of the Middle East "looking up" to Hussein for standing up to the US, etc. And the transition to a democratic-like government is probably easier (not easy) in Iraq than most other Middle East countries due to it's relatively secular society, and the economic history of the place.

Were these reasons sufficient for going to war? No, but since a war was inevitable, they were sufficient reasons to pick Iraq.

So I guess I don't have a problem with a lack of stated reason to be there, since we didn't have a choice (other than time and place).

And I will ask a question: If we had sat back to endure attack after attack until we were fed up, do you think our response would have been as gentle?

Posted by: Ron at November 5, 2003 09:15 AM | PERMALINK

So let me get this straight, The U.S. started a war that has cost thousands of lives, and a couple hundred BILLION dollars, its status in the world, etc. all just to get ONE guy (whom, by the way, they haven't even got yet)?

I don't know but it sure seems like a .50c 22 caliber bullet would have been a lot better answer to me.

Hmmm.

Posted by: a at November 5, 2003 09:22 AM | PERMALINK

If the question (Why are we in Iraq) still needs to be asked, then we have no business being there, i.e., the presence of the question answers the question.

Posted by: danuube at November 5, 2003 09:35 AM | PERMALINK

All those people complaining about Saddam's regime's involvement in rape, have you been paying attention to the news? Cause it sounds like there's a whole lot more rape going on now in Iraq than before.

I'm not objectively pro-Saddam, I'm just saying that talking about "rape rooms" won't get you anywhere, not when every other barn and abandoned building in Iraq has been effectively turned into a "rape room."

Posted by: Librul at November 5, 2003 11:03 AM | PERMALINK

Bush good. Evil bad.

Posted by: SqueakyRat at November 5, 2003 11:21 AM | PERMALINK

I am glad that some people are finally talking sense about the biological weapons. So many people seem to think that there is some magic 'star trek' dust that causes instant death upon contact.

How many people even know that there is effective treatment for smallpox, even after exposure?

So what if a madman dropped 5 pounds of it flying over the Metrodome? For one, the roof would stop it, and the way the Vikings have been playing there wouldn't be many fans to infect. Those that got sick would get treatment and that would be that.

Posted by: Tripp at November 5, 2003 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

Tripp
There was somebody a while back (around the anthrax thing) that was explaining that chem/biological were primarily area-denial weapons. Not especially good for killing.

He said if you suspect you have been exposed, walk upwind out of the area.

Posted by: Ron at November 5, 2003 12:16 PM | PERMALINK

Ya know Tripp, I've been sitting here wondering, if the turnout at Viking's games is already low, why would there be any use of area-denial weapons there?

Posted by: Ron at November 5, 2003 12:27 PM | PERMALINK

It was good to see the Packers humble the Vikings at home. Championships are not won in September, as they say... ;-)

Posted by: David W. at November 5, 2003 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

Tripp: Your casual attitude toward bioweapons is seriously misplaced.

I agree that chemical weapons are not mass killing agents. This is not necessarily the case for biological weapons.

Sprinkling weaponized anthrax around a public area is likely to be lethal to at least a few people, and as seen two years ago minute amounts can spread widely with serious consequences.

Far more ominous is the possibility of creating a contagious bioweapon from a bacterium or virus. There are many candidates to choose from--Ebola viruses, genetically modified drug-resistant stapholococcus aureus, hemorrhagic fever, . As demonstrated by the rapid spread of SARS globally by only a few carriers just ten months ago, such a bioweapon could have devastating consequences, and the medical infrastructure of the U.S. would have a very limited ability to counteract such an infection were it to break out.

You can be sanguine about bioweapons if you wish, but you're being seriously shortsighted to do so. Even routine multiple drug-resistant bacteria cause thousands of deaths per year in the U.S. despite the multiple antibiotics we have--imagine the devastation of drug-resistant smallpox in a poor country, where even basic antibiotics are often not readily available. Or imagine a genetically-altered polio virus which no longer responded to vaccine-induced antibodies.

Think I'm exagerrating? Read this article:

http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99994318

Posted by: Daniel Calto at November 5, 2003 01:08 PM | PERMALINK

The failures of the democrats are due to its leadership. For those here that think the democrats still hold the blue collar worker inside the party, they're fooling themselves.

It's true the GOVERNMENT UNIONS are inside the party. But if you check outside the DONKS home court, you'll see most people are not enamored of "postal people," and their ilk.

How did the democrats get this way? I think they took the idealistic head trip messages of the PC crowd very seriously.

Too bad that even on campuses, where this drivel is taught, and the students forced to regurgiate it for grades, the kids have walked away disgusted. And, are no longer democratic voters, the way they used to drift into the DONKS.

In a sense, this gives hopes to the Muslims, who can't seem to get out from under all the hateful crap they are told by their propagandists.

The money's coming from the same source. Stuff deflected from the Saudi's purse. And, the slobs on the take at the UN, and across Old Europe.

Does it matter? Nah. Not here. No one's counting that the democrats have no candidate that can live, breathe, and collect votes across this nation.

Anyway, keep it up, folks. You're only making re-electing Bush in 2004 that much easier.

It's interesting that the fury the California voters just delivered at a democratic 'home-base' didn't register.

Well, I live in earthquake country. And, it's surprising to me that the earth can shake, and the buildings stand. 6.7? Felt. Not forgotten. But didn't think it would represent the democratic party.

Well, you can't teach politics to leaders who live in Hide-E-Holes.

Posted by: Carol in California at November 5, 2003 01:09 PM | PERMALINK

Bush has given positive reasons for building a free and democratic Iraq, both before and after the war. Here are three other examples pulled from major speeches. They're what I could find in 10 minutes. There are undoubtedly any number of others:

September 2002, at the UN:
If we meet our responsibilities, if we overcome this danger, we can arrive at a very different future. The people of Iraq can shake off their captivity. They can one day join a democratic Afghanistan and a democratic Palestine, inspiring reforms throughout the Muslim world. These nations can show by their example that honest government, and respect for women, and the great Islamic tradition of learning can triumph in the Middle East and beyond.

May 2003, on USS Abraham Lincoln
We are committed to freedom in Afghanistan, in Iraq, and in a peaceful Palestine. The advance of freedom is the surest strategy to undermine the appeal of terror in the world. Where freedom takes hold, hatred gives way to hope. When freedom takes hold, men and women turn to the peaceful pursuit of a better life. American values and American interests lead in the same direction: We stand for human liberty.

September 2003, at the UN:
First, we must stand with the people of Afghanistan and Iraq as they build free and stable countries. The terrorists and their allies fear and fight this progress above all, because free people embrace hope over resentment, and choose peace over violence.

The success of a free Iraq will be watched and noted throughout the region. Millions will see that freedom, equality, and material progress are possible at the heart of the Middle East. Leaders in the region will face the clearest evidence that free institutions and open societies are the only path to long-term national success and dignity. And a transformed Middle East would benefit the entire world, by undermining the ideologies that export violence to other lands.

Posted by: rd at November 5, 2003 01:47 PM | PERMALINK

I find the naivete of the "transformation" commentators here strangely touching.

I suppose, when one is blissfully ignorant of the history in the region, of its past, of the colonial era, never mind the current barriers and the counter ideology in place, one can prattle on about 'transforming' the society. And even, in a fit of deluged optimism, imagine some spreading transformation of the region.

Why I am sure that it makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Rather the Easter Bunny once did, and similar tales.

Ah well, the gullible will, I suppose, always fall for the rhetoric of "la mission civilisatrice" - and why not, when one knows little to nothing about the target society, it is easy to come up with these visions. Easy to imagine their application. Easy.

But then, the same visions had a different reception for US forces than actually was the case.

Ah, well, aggressive ignorance of the past has its paybacks I suppose. But's there's a phrase here, in the Levant for these visions, "haki faadi"

Posted by: collounsbury at November 5, 2003 02:03 PM | PERMALINK

Sprinkling weaponized anthrax around a public area is likely to be lethal to at least a few people, and as seen two years ago minute amounts can spread widely with serious consequences.

If it's caught early, it wouldn't necessarily make anyone sick, much less cause death. Anthrax is susceptible to several readily available antibiotics. If there's a known exposure, everyone in the neighborhood is given antigiotics for a few weeks. The nasty feature of anthrax is that it isn't rapidly lethal. Bacteria are carried out of the lung into lymph nodes in the chest, where they make the toxin that causes clinical illness. If treatment is started late, there may be a lethal dose of toxin sitting in the lymph nodes. The molecular biology of this has been worked out in the past few years, and therapy is possible. Also, rapid diagnostic equipment that detects tiny amounts of bacterial DNA is commercially available. This could be deployed in ER's in major urban areas, and may have been already. Peole have discussed deploying environmental detectors for several bioweapons in cities as well.

The example of 10 months ago showed that a great deal of disruption and panic is possible from a small amount of anthrax. But it was hardly significant as a military measure.

Far more ominous is the possibility of creating a contagious bioweapon from a bacterium or virus. There are many candidates to choose from--Ebola viruses, genetically modified drug-resistant stapholococcus aureus, hemorrhagic fever, .

And they all have various drawbacks, or one would have been employed. They've been known for a century in most cases.

imagine the devastation of drug-resistant smallpox in a poor country, where even basic antibiotics are often not readily available.

Smallpox is a virus, so it's resistant to all antibiotics. It's correct that smallpox would be worse in a poor country. I've never seen a study on hechanisms of death, but it looks like there are several, such as dehydration, superimposed bacterial pneummonia, encephalitis. I speculate that if you just put a case on an ICU and provide meticulous care, the death rate would be greatly diminished. Additionally, vaccination after exposure provides some protection. Poor countries lack ICU care and public health support for vaccination. If someone like SH set off an epidemic, it could produce a worldwide pandemic. But that person would have the odium of all the deaths, and his own people would suffer more.

Producing a genetically modified ortanism is possible, as the link points out. But for starters, this would take some expensive facilities and trained people. One guess is tens of millions. A big drawback would be testing without an accidental release. If you want to protect your own people with a vaccine, that's more testing. If it's communicable, it's another smallpox, with all those problems. Even something like SARS isn't a very good bioweapon because of all the unintended spread. If it's not, it's another anthrax, nasty but not a doomsday weapon.

And none of this speculation provides the slightest justification for invading Iraq. It's a measure of the eagerness to accept the administrations fraud that ithe subject is brought up in this connection.

Posted by: Roger Bigod at November 5, 2003 02:13 PM | PERMALINK

The Middle East is a breeding ground for terrorists. There are socio-economic reasons for discontent, but the Middle East is not the only place on Earth where these conditions exist.

The Tamil Tigers arguably invented modern terrorism. [They also seem to have accomplished their aims rather successfully, a truly disturbing thought.] I'm sure one could claim that some of the guerilla and paramilitary organizations of South America and South-East Asia are functionally terrorist organizations. It happens to show up more in the Middle East because (IMO, and massively boiled-down) there's more at stake there -- and because, well, we actually care about the Middle East -- but it's utterly foolish to claim that the Middle East is the only place in the world where such things happen.

[You might, however, be able to argue that the Middle East is the only place where such things happen on such a large scale. That would be harder but, IMO, a much more legitimate argument.]

Posted by: Anarch at November 5, 2003 05:34 PM | PERMALINK

I love the appeal to the “inevitable” war in the Middle East. Yep, that’s right. War was just going to happen so we might as well sit down with a few darts, some handy “he tried to kill my fatherisms,” a callous disregard for human life, and let’s start creating some of those inevitable casualties.

On another thread Ron claimed to have given his excuses for war and I thought he was referring to that thread. Now that I've seen it in this one all I can say is "that’s the single dumbest reason for going to war I have ever seen."

Posted by: Lori Thantos at November 5, 2003 06:35 PM | PERMALINK

Roger B:

I never claimed that bioweapons were a good justification for invading Iraq, only pointing out that they were potentially deadly. Many of these infections have been around for centuries, as you point out. What has changed is the ability to genetically manipulate bacteria and particularly viruses, which after all are bits of genetic material encased in protein shells.

Manipulating material genetically takes trained people, to be sure, but it does not take tens of millions of dollars. Just visit any medical school and ask the researchers there. The technology is far cheaper than it has ever been. It is true that the "blowback" potential is extreme, and may deter siginifcant numbers of people from working on such materials, but it cannot be ruled out. I believe that this will be a long-term challenge to all in the biomedical community, because these manipulations are getting easier and cheaper to undertake as the technology advances.

Posted by: Daniel Calto at November 5, 2003 07:29 PM | PERMALINK

Daniel Caltro:

I have the impression that you're exaggerating the dangers of bioweapons in order to justify actions like invading Iraq.

As you point out, the novel biological techniques allow the production of novel organisms relatively cheaply. Techniques are improved and simplified and more sequences of genes of interest are published. But the paper you cite illustrates some of the problems. The investigators introduced a gene into a virus, expecting a certain result based on conventional theory. But the new organism had two novel features. It was much more lethal to the host and it wasn't transmitted host-to-host. Both features are contrary to the prediction of theory. The only way to determine those features was empirical observation. This tells us nothing about the species range of the organism, which we'd want to know if it was considered for any general use, including bioweapons. The mix-and-match construction of a novel organism isn't expensive, but the containment facilities for large-scale testing and production certainly are.

It is realistic to think that an individual or a small group might attempt to genetically manipulate organisms. But a serious effort requires the resources of a government. And the final product has the well-known drawbacks. If it's infectious (smallpox), there's the risk of a world-wide pandemmic. If it isn't (anthrax), it can be better targeted, but there are faster and more reliable ways to kill people.

Posted by: Roger Bigod at November 6, 2003 01:18 AM | PERMALINK

anarch says
but it's utterly foolish to claim that the Middle East is the only place in the world where such things happen.

You make very good points before this statement, I agree with all of them. And that is why I wrote ...the Middle East is not the only place on Earth...

You might, however, be able to argue that the Middle East is the only place where such things happen on such a large scale.
I believe it happens on a larger scale in the Middle East because they have the spare change. I was possibly not clear here.

Posted by: Ron at November 6, 2003 07:10 AM | PERMALINK

Lori

Please don't waste any neurons trying to understand what I'm saying.

Posted by: Ron at November 6, 2003 07:12 AM | PERMALINK

I think that war in the Middle East was inevitable

Well, it is now at least. Thanks Ralph.

Posted by: Troy at November 6, 2003 07:23 AM | PERMALINK

Ron,
I think you are correct in that the way the Vikings are playing, they are their own area-denial weapon for their fans. Worse yet, they are not able to deny the endzone area to their opponents.

As for being flip about bioweapons - c'mon. If anything I think the public has been scared into thinking Pussy Galore can fly over with a small canister of magic gas and all the civilians will fall instantly to their death.

I traveled to Toronto when the SARS scare was going on, and that was clearly overhyped in the US.

I also lived through the awful Y2K era when all the computers failed simultaneously, and the planes fell like stones from the sky.

So I'm a little skeptical of doomsday scenarios involving lone scientists working with bottles of chemicals stoppered with rags.

Posted by: Tripp at November 6, 2003 07:47 AM | PERMALINK

Tripp

I'm with you, the impact of chem/biological weapons is not the first order stuff (people dying in the attack) but second order (people worrried about dying in the attack).

I reconize that they have the potential to be devastating, but the big variable is the delivery. They are extraordinarily hard to deliver in a widely lethal configuration.

Do you remember the sarin gas attack in the Tokyo subway? Ideal circumstances (enclosed, packed with people, relatively little air movement, etc.) and very few people died. It takes more research than most governments can afford to get a widely lethal deployment of this stuff.

But back to the Vikings, there isn't any talk of charging them under Homeland Security for this area-denial stuff is there?

Posted by: Ron at November 6, 2003 08:09 AM | PERMALINK

Roger:

I don't think I'm exagerrating, merely saying that the sentiment that bioweapons are really no big deal is shortsighted. Yes, there are easier ways to kill huge numbers of people--most prominently nuclear fission or fusion--but that doesn't make the bioweapons threat insignificant.

Given the rapid strides in sequencing technology and genetic engineering, and advances in genomics and proteomics, it is difficult to predict with any certainty whether bioweapons will be a serious threat now, or in ten or twenty years. My feeling is that they will be a threat of some magnitude, and at the very least we should continue research and come up with contingency plans.

I don't think this point has anything to do with Iraq per se. Yes, to build a BSL4 (Biosafety Level 4) facility to handle such agents is expensive, but not inordinately so. Any developed country could certainly do so easily, as could China, India, Pakistan, and probably NK as well. Any number of countries would have biochemists and molecular biologists with the requisite training to genetically alter bioagents, including those listed above.

As you say, the first trick would be to develop such an agent without killing oneself, and figuring out a targeted delivery system, but those too are potentially surmountable obstacles.

As demonstrated by both the anthrax incidents and the SARS epidemic, bioweapons need not kill large numbers of people to have huge economic and psychological impacts on the populations they infect.

By their very nature, the invisible and insidious threats that bioweapons potentially pose inspire fear and panic. I certainly don't recommend fear and panic as a basis for public policy on this issue, but think cautious attentiveness to this potential threat is in order. Maybe I'm oversensitized given that I'm a New Yorker who works at a major medical research center, but it's clear to me that our public health system would be almost completely overwhelmed by any significant pandemic condition, even if it were treatable. Heck, we have a very difficult time handling even naturally-occurring mutations of flu and coronaviruses.

Posted by: Daniel Calto at November 6, 2003 09:21 AM | PERMALINK

As demonstrated by both the anthrax incidents and the SARS epidemic, bioweapons need not kill large numbers of people to have huge economic and psychological impacts on the populations they infect.By their very nature, the invisible and insidious threats that bioweapons potentially pose inspire fear and panic.

Like I said, the second order effects are worse than the first order effects. And building a facility where this stuff can be "safely" handled is considerably different than weaponizing it.

You say you worked for a medical research center, and I'm glad there are people doing work like that. I like being prepared. My point is not that it should be ignored, but if the perceived threat is much larger than the actual threat, then the second order impact is magnified. There lies the biggest danger.

Posted by: Ron at November 6, 2003 10:51 AM | PERMALINK

Daniel:

The topic of the thread concerns Iraq. I don't think bioweapons are a military concern, and much of the discussion on blogs and in the real world consists of whipping up panic and channeling ito into support for the neocon cause.

I agree it's a public health problem, and effort should go into study and planning. OTOH, I don't see it as making a big difference, in the way that nuclear weapons do. It's easy to get worried by the advances in sequencing and synthesis. The large number of sequenced genomes and genes do provide a huge menu of nasty choices. But the basic requirements of safety are a hurdle for anything but a government. And the testing requirements have ethical problems that narrow it down further. Even a madman might want to be reassured that a weapon wouldn't wipe out a important domestic species.

Assuming ample resources, there are only two general nasties. One is the anthrax model, whiich is non-contagious but highly lethal. Engineering anthrax for multiple antibiotic resistance is an obvious possibility. But this has a delivery problem. You get one shot at the football stadium or one mailing. And last thing I heard, there were plans to irradiate all mailings. The other possibility is a contagious agent like smallpox, SARS or a hemorrhagic fever. This has an obvious backblow problem. The only way around the that is to immunize one's own population, but this has secrecy and testing problems.

I agree that SARS and the deliberate release of anthrax had a huge economic and psychological effect. It's just difficult to see how to use the agents for a military purpose. Even if Saddam Hussein had produced some, they don't realistically constitute enough of a threat to make a traditional casus belli, in the way tht one nuclear weapon would.

Posted by: Roger Bigod at November 6, 2003 10:53 AM | PERMALINK

SARS wasn't a deliberate release. In China, there are no social controls on how farming gets done. They're operations are huge. And, careless.

SARS was a jump from a virus bred in captivity of such farming operations. Either with pigs. Or fowl.

Then, the Chinese tried to hide it. While infected people got on planes and traveled about the world.

This is not terrorism. It is just that the sciences are slow to catch up to what humans do. And, China is very greedy in how it farms.

After this goes around, like AIDS before it, you just can't put the genie back in the bottle.

THe terrorists, by the way, are headline hunters. Whatever they do, it's worthless to them if it doesn't splash into the news cycle. Our journalists prop up the terrorists. Not the other way around.

The big media giants are finally coming to terms with the numbers of viewers and readers they have lost. More important, they also seem to be losing influence. Maybe, you don't think they're concerned about this fallout today. But in time it will change some of the lousy stuff we see passing to us from the 'elites.' THey can't stand it when they lose influence.

What do those fights look like, when there's really a little bit at stake? Like those fights academics have over stupid stuff. Room assignments. And, seating arrangements. And, parking spaces. And, tenure.

Will tenure's strength be broken? Will unions find it hard to get people to sign up and give them money? Why are the biggest unions, now, only the ones that 'protect' school teachers and government workers?

Posted by: Carol in California at November 6, 2003 11:31 AM | PERMALINK

Roger:

I agree with much of what you say above, though I am still less sanguine than you are about the possible use of such agents in a military/terror operation than you are.

The second-order effects are potent. It was very weird for me to see NYC react so courageously to the 9/11 attacks and suddenly become so panicked during the (relatively minor) anthrax scares. While some of this may be the aftershock effect, I don't think all of it was. Most people don't know much about medicine, don't even know the difference between bacteria and viruses, and infectious diseases give a lot of otherwise level-headed people the willies.

Something close to panic was palpable among many people here at the height of the anthrax scare-- wiping down surfaces, closing train stations for hours because someone saw white powder somewhere. New Yorkers, not normally known for their excitability, shunned Chinese restaurants in huge numbers, even avoided getting medical care at the (Chinese-speaking) clinic where my wife works. It was nuts, and to my mind a terrible overreaction, but it happened nonetheless. I agree with Ron that it's important not to exagerrate the perception of the threat of bioweapons to the general public, because it's a bad idea to traffic in fearmongering images and statements, whether on the local crime news or in a political speech.

The only other thing I would point out is that in my first and subsequent posts I meant to make no link between bioweapons and the invasion of Iraq. I don't think bioweapons capabilities would make a very good casus belli in isolation either--if that were the case, there would be a lot of countries to invade (including our own). My original post was off-topic, in response to another poster, who said bioweapons were basically no big deal, something which I disagree with. In the interest of getting back on-topic, I won't post anymore on this side issue.

Posted by: Daniel Calto at November 6, 2003 12:01 PM | PERMALINK

Why are we in Iraq? Because of Bushs' Hate of the Arab's and Love of the Jew's. During the Gulf War in 1991 we all saw Saddam in Iraq sending missles into Israel , his only way to retaliate against us. The final straw was when Saddam started sending money to the PLO and had telethons in the Arab world to help the PLO rebuild their homes, etc.! Has it ever dawned on anyone that this Help had nothing to do with with the radical Islamic Jihad groups, Hamas, etc. as we have been "led" to believe...they were Not even IN the PLO...were outlaw groups from Syria and Lebanon. In other words, THESE terrorist groups Should have been attacked by the US leading to a peaceful Middle East. Now these groups are the Same Ones coming over the border into Iraq carrying on Our war.

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Posted by: G_d at November 7, 2003 11:36 AM | PERMALINK

I doubt that chemical or biological weaponry is really very useful, except to threaten people with. Sending letters through the mail is probably the most effective way to kill people with Anthrax, and that killed fewer than ten people. Compare that to a bus bomb in Israel.

Nowadays, if you want to kill a bunch of people on the cheap, explosives are the way to go. That's why they're using car bombs in Iraq. Hell, throwing nail bombs at orphanages is more efficient than researching biological weaponry. Lots of small attacks at once can be just as terrorizing as one big one, as Israel shows. If terrorists were able to do daily attacks like that here, people would probably be in a much more sour mood concerning the war on terrorism.

Here's hoping that the terrorists never do a feasibility study.

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