November 17, 2005


WMD not only reason (J.D. Crouch, 11/15/05, USA Today)

• Addressing Congress after 9/11, President Bush declared that those who harbor terrorists are as guilty as the terrorists themselves. Iraq was a state sponsor of terror and openly supported suicide bombers.

• In 2002, the U.N. Security Council unanimously found Iraq in violation of 16 prior resolutions about disarming. Iraq repeatedly fired on U.S. and coalition planes patrolling the "No Fly Zones" that protected Iraqis from Saddam. The president acted only when it became clear that the U.N. would not pass another resolution or take action to enforce previous resolutions supported by the past three U.S. presidents.

• President Bush often cited Saddam's murder of hundreds of thousands. Saddam used WMD against Iraq's Kurds and invaded Kuwait.

In February 2003, before troops set foot in Iraq, the president stated: "A liberated Iraq can show the power of freedom to transform that vital region, by bringing hope and progress into the lives of millions."

Moreover, the joint resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq — which 77 senators of both parties voted for — explicitly cited Saddam's support for terrorism, his repeated violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions, his brutality against his own people, and the promotion of democracy as justifications for the use of military force.

It's almost possible to excuse the Left their WMD obsession. They, of course, would not have deposed Saddam for any but selfish reasons--not because he was committing genocide, not because he sponsored terror against Israel, not because he was violating the cease-fire agreements that paused the Gulf War, not to vindicate the UN, not because he was a totalitarian oppressing his people, not for any reason but the obscure chance that he might pose some risk to us here at home. It hardly seems fair to expect such secular Realists to understand the moral case for war.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 17, 2005 10:30 AM

The non-situational anti-war crowd is suicidially wrong, but at the very least they're consistent in their beliefs, no matter who occupies the White House. Had there been a Gore Administration, after the Sept. 11 attacks and with the 2002 elections looming, most of the people using the there-were-no-WMD crutch right now would have not only been calling for Saddam's head -- just as they did before the '02 vote -- but they'd still be defending that vote today on human rights grounds while citing the previous U.N. resolutions, and putting the blame for not getting rid of Saddam when we should have on Bush 41, Scowcroft and the State Department's realist contingent.

Posted by: John at November 17, 2005 11:06 AM

Even a realist should be able to figure out that the Ba'athist regime posed dangers to American security interests beyond WMD (such as, for instance, invading nearby nations with valuable to the USA resources). It might not be existential danger, but who lives their life considering only things that could kill them to be dangerous?

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at November 17, 2005 12:14 PM

"It's all about me" is such a stirring (non)battle cry.

Posted by: Mikey at November 17, 2005 1:09 PM


Most seculars.

Posted by: oj at November 17, 2005 1:18 PM

Had there been a Gore administration:

"Secretary of State Madeline Albright today renewed her call for the Security Council to impose tougher economic sanctions against the Taliban government of Afghanistan in reprisal for their failure to extradite Osama Bin Laden. China and France have threatened to veto the resolution, citing humanitarian grounds.

"In other diplomatic news, Iraq and North Korea have been named to the UN Human Rights Commission. Former President Jimmy Carter praised the move as 'inclusive.'

"In Tel Aviv, hazmat crews began cleaning up in the wake of last week's deadly chemical attack . . . ."

Posted by: Mike Morley at November 17, 2005 2:05 PM

It might not be existential danger, but who lives their life considering only things that could kill them to be dangerous?

Bungee jumping, base jumping, wilderness adventure vacations, extreme anything, eco-tourism, and so on....

There are whole industries out there that sanitize and wrap dangerous activities in the veneer of safety in order to market it to bored rubes with too much time and money on their hands.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at November 17, 2005 2:23 PM

I actually have more faith in the Gore Administration, Mike, because if they had done that, the mid-term wreckage for the Democrats in 2002 due to voter anger would have made the Republican election debacle of 1964 look like a ticker tape parade down Broadway, and the few bloody survivors would have crawled out of the wreckage and told President Al to bomb the Talaban, and Saddam, and anyone else in the area back into the Stone Age if he expected to be renominated in 2004.

Posted by: John at November 17, 2005 3:48 PM

It is highly unlikely that Al Gore, generally a consistent hawk on foreign policy issues like Kosovo during the Clinton administration, would not have done the exact same thing as Bush in Afghanistan.

On Iraq, the issue is less clear as no doubt some of his actual anti-war posturing was due to politics. He probably would not have entered an Iraq war as Bush did, but it cannot be completely ruled out. If he did think it was necessary, the lead up to the war would have been entirely different - for good or ill.

I find the larger issue is not that there are political opportunists abandoning the Iraq war, but that Bush played his political hand very poorly and has generated his opposition to be much larger than it would otherwise be. He is a very divisive President. I do not think John McCain (or certain other individuals) would have divided the country or the world had he been President yet also taken the decision to eliminate Saddam.

While OJ is perfectly content with admitting that WMD's were a ruse to win support, but a successful one because we went to war, most people are horrified to hear logic like that. If Bush did that on purpose, it was a huge miscalculation. Relying on legal shennangians (look, here in subparagraph 12 on the resolution, I said then what I'm saying now. Just ignore what I actually emphasized then) is not leadership. Bush should have been able to articulate a better case then. Doing it now is not good enough.

Also, the administration totally downplayed any possible difficulties that might occur. Now that they have happened, it makes his initial arguments weaker. I posit that people are not so upset about the level of casaulties as the sense that there is no strategy to win and that the occupation could be unending. Not only does it seem like Bush did not anticipate the problems of the occupation (and I would agree to that), he has constantly offered various "turning points" that were not decisive. While I see them as positive steps, his language generated expectations of quick resolution which did not happen. In short, he has lost much credibility in terms of framing the war and having the public believe it. He has lost control of the narrative.

These problems were not created by the anti-war opposition, but stem from weaknesses inside the White House. They only exploited them.

Many of us who supported the war, and I count myself among them, are very disappointed in his performance. LBJ's poor handling of Vietnam lead to enough demoralization that we jettisoned victory just as it might have been in our grasp. Bush might very well do the same. Even if we hold on long enough to secure victory there; we are unlikely to have enough morale left to stare down the Iranians.

Posted by: Chris Durnell at November 17, 2005 6:06 PM

Chris sez: "He is a very divisive President."

Sigh. He is divisive because his opponents hate him. Other than perhaps the past few days, can you give an example of Bush himself actually going after his political opponents?

You are right that the WH has massive problems with communication in general, as does Bush in particular. But you have to go to war with the President you have, not the President you wish you had, to paraphrase a brilliant man. If Jeb had won his first run for Florida gov, he would have been President. He certainly has none of his brother's communications problems, but one wonders whether his Catholicism would have motivated him to go crusading (a fine word that we should reclaim as perfectly legitimate & acceptable) the way W's born-again evangelism has.

I don't understand your point about LBJ & Vietnam. LBJ left office in '68. The war was all but won by '73. Watergate gave the Dems the opening they needed to kill South Vietnam.

Posted by: b at November 17, 2005 6:34 PM

The attack on the USS Stark was enough for me.

Bush: 'Our national security demands that some people be made free.'

The realists like Scowcroft: 'Our national security demands that some people be kept enslaved'. This is slightly different than the Clintons' national security position, which was--and is--'What's in it for me?'

They had it their way for years...and failed. Miserably. But even if you think its all "WMDs...or Bust!", why couldn't we say that in 1998, only because he was facing impeachment, Bill Clinton butched-up on Iraq, virtually pre-determing that any future grown-up administration would have to clean up the mess.

Clinton did this on advice from CIA WMD analysts like, I dunno, Valerie Plame. Ergo;

"Clinton and Plame--they Lied us into Peace...and War!"

Posted by: Noel at November 18, 2005 7:24 AM