Answering The War's Big Questions

Time to revisit the questions we asked at the start of this debate:

1. Did the administration know more than it chose to reveal?

Little of the intelligence supporting the decision to go to war was definitive, and much of it was open to challenge from other, more reliable intelligence. The administration failed to reveal those important qualifications to the case it was making.

In a speech in March of 2004, Sen. Kent Conrad of North Dakota noted, "All the evidence we have now shows the administration knew at the time the statements were made that its own intelligence undercut the statements it was making." That might not technically qualify as lying, but omitting those key facts and findings that cast great doubt on the case for war at least counts as dishonest.

Richard Cohen writes that none of those pesky facts "mattered to Vice President Cheney, who warned of a 'reconstituted' nuclear weapons program, promoted the nonexistent Prague meeting and went after legitimate critics with a zealousness that Tony Soprano would have admired: 'We will not hesitate to discredit you,' Cheney told ElBaradei and Hans Blix, the other important U.N. inspector. ElBaradei recently won the Nobel Peace Prize. Cheney's gonna have to wait for his."

Intelligence reports issued before the Iraq war began did contain important findings that ran contrary to the administration's case. Though we don't know exactly when or if those reports ever made it to the president's of vice president's desk, the information was available to them but went largely unmentioned by the administration.

As Washington Monthly blogger Kevin Drum notes, the contradictory information became increasingly prevalent in the months and weeks leading up to the invasion.

It's true that virtually everyone believed in 2002 that Saddam had an active WMD program or, at the very least, large stockpiles of existing WMD. But the Bush administration was repeating the exact same arguments about Saddam's WMD even in March 2003, when UN inspectors had been combing Iraq with the help of U.S. intelligence for three months and had found nothing. The evidence by that time suggested just the opposite of what we originally believed, but that prompted nothing from Bush supporters except heaps of abuse aimed at Hans Blix. The invasion went off as scheduled."

2. How much of the case for war was based on an exaggeration of the threat?

It seems to me that it's not easy to prove that the administration exaggerated particular claims, since it's likely that each of those claims was in an intelligence report somewhere at some time. The bigger problem was the tendency to select bits of information for public consumption based more on whether they bolstered the administration's case than on the actual reliability of the intelligence. So the real issue was less an exaggeration of the threat than it was an exaggeration of the inevitability of the threat. Key doubts and caveats were downplayed and omitted by the administration as it pushed for the removal of Saddam Hussein.

The Chicago Tribune argues that the war could have been sold without relying on the least reliable intelligence -- the wmd claims -- but would the American people and U.S. allies have supported the war without an imminent threat? Would Bush's idea that tyrants don't "politely [put] us on notice" before an attack been enough on its own to convince Americans that a real threat existed, if not necessarily an immediate one?

And if it had not been enough, would a war solely to spread democracy have passed muster with the American people? If a good outcome were guaranteed, perhaps. But Debater ErrinF offers a comment echoing what many of us have been arguing since this democracy seeding idea entered the fray as one of the main rationales for war: True democracy cannot be forced upon a people. A democracy is a precious and delicate institution -- if a people aren't willing or aren't able to be meticulous guards of their freedom, they could lose it. This simple idea was not accepted by the Bush administration.

"Bush omitted that establishing a democracy by inciting this war had a high probability of not working," ErrinF argues. "It is painfully obvious now that what ever Iraq becomes, it will NOT be becoming in any way an America-like democracy. I agree with the noble intentions of the war, but now recognize those intentions for what they were: noble, but not feasible. You cannot impose democracy on others; rather, they must create it for themselves."

3.Were such omissions and exaggerations a result of carelessness or irresponsibility, or were they intentional?

It's tough to say with what top Bush administration figures intended. Further investigation might answer that question -- or we might never know for sure.

It is instructive, however, to look back at what then-House Majority Whip Tom DeLay was saying at the time. DeLay played a big role in Republican campaigns -- and in trying to squash Democratic candidates -- and from his hard-charging rhetoric, it's reasonable to conclude that his bullying on the Iraq issue was politically motivated. Less than two months before the midterm elections in 2002, he said on CNN's Inside Politics that Congressional Dems against the war "don't want to protect the American people ... they will do anything, spend all the time and resources they can, to avoid confronting evil."

DeLay also said, "No one is playing politics with this war; the war that started in 9/11 is an ongoing war that we have to deal with. But at the same time, we have campaigns in this country, and what would you have the vice president do: get on the campaign trail and give a silent speech?"

No, Mr. DeLay. What I expect is for the president to do what his father did: Wait until after the midterm elections to debate going to war. It was obvious then -- and is even more painfully obvious now -- that a productive and honest debate about taking the country to war cannot take place in the politicized atmosphere that prevails in the month and a half before an election. It's just not fair to anyone involved, especially the American people.

Even if you buy what DeLay said, from an objective post-911 American point of view, the evil bin Laden was infinitely more deserving of an invasion and concentrated manhunt than was Saddam Hussein. Democratic Sen. Bob Graham was very much in favor of protecting the American people; he just felt it would best be done by maintaining adequate forces in Afghanistan to secure the whole country (not just parts of it) and to hunt down Al Qaeda.

Perhaps more legislators felt these nagging doubts, but also felt they coluldn't listen to those doubts because they were being pressured to vote on the resolution immediately before an election and couldn't afford to be pegged as soft on terrorism.

4. What role did the media play in the administration's case for war?

The two widespread criticisms of the media regarding Iraq have been that a) journalists didn't look closely enough into the administration's pre-war claims; and b) journalists never report on the good news in Iraq. I'll leave the second item alone for now, because although I have a lot to say on it, it's not properly part of this week's topic. On the first criticism, though, I find it tough to say whether the media really could have effectively debunked the claims without access to classified information. Assuming journalists would have needed to see the intelligence in order to cast doubt on the case for war, could they have gotten those documents?

The Media Education Foundation posits that by and large, initial media coverage of the war didn't bother to dig up the relevant facts because it was too busy jumping on the traditional bandwagon. That is, when the military goes to war, the press goes, too.

AmeriPundit says it was a matter of ownership consolidation, and points to this fascinating op-ed in the Seattle Times.

I'm inclined to think that while both those factors probably played a role, it was the post-9/11 paralysis of criticism that most stifled the Iraq debate. That said, there were actually a fair number of pre-war news stories in the big papers (including the Post) that cast doubt on particular claims, but they tended not to end up on the front page; when they did, they didn't capture as much attention as perhaps they should have. (I'll leave futher comment on this to the ombudsmen.)

Still, I don't think this was a concerted effort by the media to launch the country into war. The media are powerful, but we should resist the temptation to shoot the messenger and instead continue to investigate the origin of the messages that sent us to war.

By Emily Messner |  December 9, 2005; 11:11 AM ET  | Category:  Conclusions
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If the administration wasn't full of people from the "Project For A New American Century" it would be a lot easier to believe it was just fouled-up. (www.newamericancentury.org)

As it is, these people advocated this war for years, 9/11 just gave them cover to "market" it to the public.

As for the media, I still can't understand why no one was able to point out that logically-speaking you can't prove a negative (i.e. prove you've never had WMD in your house), and no one considered the possibility he was bluffing to save face in the Arab world.

These were my conclusions at the time, and it seems I was correct. Obviously I have no access to secret intel, it's just simple reasoning.

Don't any of these people play poker?

Posted by: asdg | December 9, 2005 02:51 PM

We invaded Iraq to establish a permanent, "muscular" military presence in the Middle East; we invaded Iraq to take control of their petroleum reserves for the next hundred years, a pretty little piggy bank in a world where oil is becoming harder to find; we invaded Iraq so we could use our military presence there to attack and invade several other countries in the region; we invaded Iraq to establish strategic positioning for any economic and/or resource struggles with China and Russia; we invaded Iraq because administration officials who think they are members of the Likud Party believed this war would serve to protect and defend the Zionist Fascist Hoodlums in Israel; we invaded Iraq so a bunch of military contractors with umbilical ties to the administration could get paid.

All of this is enshrined in the codicils of the Project for a New American Century, the organization whose membership rolls include Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Abrams, Libby and a pile of others who have crafted our insane foreign policy and thrown us into this mess. This is what they wanted. They've been planning it for years, well before they ever got into the White House with Bush. For them, victory had nothing to do with defeating Hussein or fighting terrorism or establishing democracy. Victory means we stay in Iraq forever.

Posted by: Maldoror | December 9, 2005 03:32 PM

MoveOn.org should run a 30 second commercial showing Bush, Cheney etc talking about "mushroom clouds", aluminum tubes, mobile bio labs, ocean-flying drones and so forth. It would be obvious to all that they cherry-picked and hyped the danger.

Posted by: pb | December 9, 2005 03:38 PM

Emily Messner writes:

"No, Mr. DeLay. What I expect is for the president to do what his father did: Wait until after the midterm elections to debate going to war. It was obvious then -- and is even more painfully obvious now -- that a productive and honest debate about taking the country to war cannot take place in the politicized atmosphere that prevails in the month and a half before an election. It's just not fair to anyone involved, especially the American people."

Emily, sorry, that's ridiculous.

World events don't wait on the American election cycle.

What if the unlawful combatant attacks of Al Qaeda, then the anthrax attacks, had waited a year and happened on Sept 11th, 2002 and afterwards? Would you have counseled waiting on the election and the seating of a new Congress before crafting a response?

In the case of Iraq, we had waited 11 years through 17 UN resolutions and had already committed to regime change with Bill Clinton's "Iraq Liberation Act" of 1998. Since 1998, what to do with forcefully changing leadership in Iraq was frequently debated, after Clintons massive bombing campaign in 1998's Desert Fox (done solely on Presidential authority). Serious debate on war with Iraq began in October of 2001. Arguing that it should have been off the table throughout 2002 in deference to politicians campaigns is a bit much. After all, the next biennial election cycle would have the Presidential election, so perhaps we should wait until after 2004?

In the case of the Gulf War, we began our armed forces buildup right after Saddam's Aug 2nd invasion, initially to protect KSA and the world's oil supplies, then to supplement the diplomacy James Baker III was running. As in 2003, Saddam rejected all ultimatums of the UN, and a vote was taken in Congress in 1990, before the new Congress was seated. The difference was we didn't have Euroweenies fearful of crossing Islamists, there was little "unprovoked attack or just war" crap coming from the Lefties fearful of the Global Hegemon or a senile Pope who had become an apologist for Islam's grievances. And quite importantly, France was not yet the bribed, corrupt whore it became with Oil for Food. Nor Saddam's other bought whores.

And, in the Iraq invasion - Bush II led in a way that really rubbed the Euros wrong. They simply disliked his personality as much as they disliked Reagans, but no longer had the Red Army to be concerned about. Bush I and Clinton were better liked as Yale sophisticates and perceived Europhiles. And they were already pissed about the missile defense they have since embraced, and the now all but dead Kyoto treaty rejected in the Senate 95-0 under Clinton, but blamed on Dubya, the *sneer" Texas religious bumpkin....Far better that a brillant man like Noble Algore or Jean Kerry had been elected...ooops...one flunked out of Grad school, the other had worse grades at Yale than Bush...

BTW, if you want a Blast From the Past treat, you should read Kerry's "agonized" ruminations in a speech he made before voting against dislodging Saddam from Kuwait - about how the Gulf War would be another endless quagmire and how he couldn't get the horrors he had personally seen in Vietnam out of his mind...

Posted by: Chris Ford | December 9, 2005 03:48 PM

No one inthese debates ever mentions Bush's "He tried to kill my dad" speech. Does no one bu a few in the midwest remember him saying that? Do you think there is any other reason to go to war for Mr. Bush?

Posted by: Earl46214 | December 9, 2005 03:49 PM

3.Were such omissions and exaggerations a result of carelessness or irresponsibility, or were they intentional?
Sorry, the "aluminum tube" controversy, and their puported use as putative centrifuge rotors for enrichment of weapons grade material rates as a blatent case of irresponsibility. As the NYT pointed in a long and detailed story that probably only wonks like me went through, the contention that said tubes were actually centrifuge was the conclusion of a junior grade analysis with a master's degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Kentucky. in contrast, the opinion that the tubes were likely components of standard rockets was held by all senior Ph.D.s in the Department of Energy from places like Oak Ridge where they know a few things about enriching uranium. If a working, professional scientist were to publish regularly on the basis of such flimsy evidence, his career would probably last no longer than a nanosecond.

Posted by: Chris Francklyn | December 9, 2005 03:52 PM

"The administration failed to reveal those important qualifications to the case it was making."

Of course it did! This administration is very good at campaigning - they sold the war like they sold George W. Now they're campaigning that they're winning the war.

Buyer's remorse anyone?

Posted by: Turnabout | December 9, 2005 04:02 PM

Very good article. Perhaps you should do an investigation that the GOP is supposed to have done on the war!! That way maybe they would speed it up.

Also, wasn't that report supposed to have been produced by now?

I still say that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfield, Rice, Wolfowitz, et al. should be brought up on criminal charges, impeachment, or whatever is the heaviest kind of punishment for their past lies and continued lying!

Wanda Hawkins
PO Box 42
Chase Mills, NY 13621

Posted by: Wanda Hawkins | December 9, 2005 04:24 PM

Chris,

First off I woudl like to point out the the "Euro Weenies" have fought 2 World Wars, and in the last one around 20 million Western Eurpoeans died. I suggest the Europeans know something about war that Americans after Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq have yet to learn.

Secondly, all the terrorist attacks you mention have nothing to do with Iraq. There was no Al Quada in Iraq before we invaded. Almost everyone including the Euro weenies are fighting Al Quada. they are in Afghanistan hunting them even as we debate. They are even rounding them up in Europe, they just aren't torturing them, since they believe in democracy, and human rights.

The invasion of Iraq is Osama Bin Ladan's dream come true. We have removed one of his greatest enemies, Sadam, we have turned world opinion agianst us, and we have turned Arab opinion agianst us. We have increased his recruitment base for terrorists, we are spending 100's of Billions of dollars fighting, Iraq nationalists who are anti Al Quada, instead of hunting down Al Quada in Pakistan southern Russa and South East Asia.

I find it hard to belive that Osama could be much happier with the turn of events. The Bush Adminstration is in office for three more years and there is a lot Osam cna do to consilidate in that time before U.S. Policy will be able to recognize the facts on the ground.

Even Democracy in Iraq doesn't necessarily set Ossam back, he just needs to make sure religous conservatives win a majority rule.

Posted by: David | December 9, 2005 04:32 PM

WHY can't you guys say what you mean...

Ignoring "evidence that undercuts the administration's position" is called "CHERRY PICKING INTELLIGENCE" in the english language of our time.

Please state directly what it is that you mean to say in the future.

Posted by: Plainly Stated, Please | December 9, 2005 05:13 PM

First: There was plenty of time to hold debate on Iraq until after the 2002 election. Hussein hadn't attacked us, and the UN wasn't voting to lift sanctions. So Chris' assertions that we needed to invade immediately are full of BS

Second: The Democrats are just as guilty as the Republicans for rushing the vote for political reasons. I remember several discussions about the Democrats wanting to get the Iraq vote behind them so they could get back to beating up the administration over economic issues.

My conclusion is both parties grossly failed this country in the fall of 2002.

After the vote, the public was very supportive of the war in Afghanistan but still equally suspicious of the need for a war in Iraq. That's when the administration started a full court press of marketing to sell the war to the public. "He has biological weapons." "We know he has them because we know where they are." "I don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud." They are as guilty of 'lying' as Coors is by suggesting if you drink enough Coors light you'll be surrounded by hotties. The question isn't whether or not the administration lied, mislead or what ever. It's how wise is it to start a war that has been marketed to the public with no mention of sacrifice or possible hardships. We were to be greeted as liberators, and Iraq's oil revenues would pay for the war . So there would be no war dead or maimed and taxes wouldn't need to be raised. If the average American wanted to do anything to help they should just go shopping. It was totally irresponsible, and the lack of current support for the war reflects nothing more than buyer's remorse on the part of the public.

Posted by: Norm | December 9, 2005 05:40 PM

What I don't get is that we are constantly told that everyone believed Saddam had WMDs but the truth is right there in black and white documents and color film footage. Does everyone have amnesia, don't you remember all the footage of documented destruction of Saddams WMDs right after the first Gulf war and thru the 90s. I saw the footage many times on TV of the UN delegation blowing up weapons, cutting ordinance with saws, and using other methods to depose of Saddams weapons. Scott Ritter was there for years verifying the destruction, but still the media keeps telling us, "everyone believed Saddam had WMDs" well quite frankly everyone must therefore be either ignorant, blind or just plain old incompetent. I wish we still had investigative reporters in this country, perhaps all they have to do is go to the UN and ask for copies of the documents and film footage of the WMDs being destroyed and present the proof to the world, but then again it is cold outside and the reporters are more comfortable sitting in their cubicles just mouthing over and over the Bush administrations lies.

Posted by: Bryce | December 9, 2005 05:48 PM

Chris Ford: "As in 2003, Saddam rejected all ultimatums of the UN, and a vote was taken in Congress in 1990, before the new Congress was seated. The difference was we didn't have Euroweenies fearful of crossing Islamists, there was little "unprovoked attack or just war" crap coming from the Lefties fearful of the Global Hegemon or a senile Pope who had become an apologist for Islam's grievances. And quite importantly, France was not yet the bribed, corrupt whore it became with Oil for Food. Nor Saddam's other bought whores."

A) No Chris, the difference in 1990 was that Saddam had actually attacked someone.

B) No-one was afraid of crossing Islamists, since the Islamists plainly wanted America to rage around the Middle East like a bull in a china shop. That's why they launched 9/11. The Republican position on this fails the most basic test of logic. Republicans argue that Islamists seek to drive the US into isolation and passivity. Throughout the nineties, the story goes, AQ kept attacking but the US did nothing. But if the US was doing nothing and that's what AQ wanted, why did they keep attacking? Because they didn't want the US to do nothing. They wanted to provoke it into an overreaction that would radicalise Moslem opinion, thus enabling AQ to make headway against the Arab regimes they actually want to overthrow. The reasoning behind this strategy, the standard terrorist "politique du pire" is all too obvious today.

C) As for oil-for-food, the latest figures from the investigation show that the US was the major profiteer, with 52% of the funds that made it out of Iraq going to American companies. And the US Navy was instructed to turn a blind eye to oil smuggling.

Posted by: OD | December 9, 2005 05:56 PM

Maldoro,

The only reasons for the U.S. invasion of Iraq you didn't include were:

1. In 2001, the oil people (Cheney, Bush, etc.) knew that world oil production had peaked.

2. Iraq sits on the second largest reserve in the world.

3. Iraq ranked at the bottom of the oil supplier production list.

4. Iraq was contracting with Russia and France for oil development, leaving the U.S. out of the game.

Posted by: smooth | December 9, 2005 07:12 PM

I feel sorry for Chris Ford. I also feel sorry for the U.S. because some many people like Chris Ford vote for the criminals that are looting the U.S. Treasury.

Posted by: Smooth | December 9, 2005 07:23 PM

The very fact that we are still conducting a debate on whether the administration led us into this war of choice through deception and lie or whether the administration itself was misled shows how we have missed the point altogether.

Bush wanted to be a war president. The war in Afghanistan was not really a war because the Taliban were a bunch of ragtags and they could not really matter for this President to define his legacy. So he set his eyes on Iraq. Of course, he was aided in this by his puppet master Dick Cheney and the muscular Rummy who were only too glad to oblige. Paul Wolfowitz was at least honest (although only for a brief moment)when he spoke the TRUTH for once. He proclaimed that the administration kept harping on the lie that Saddam was hiding WMD with which to harm the US and its allies (read: Israel)BECAUSE that was the only way the administration thought it could convince the world body. The most unanticipated aspect of this deception was that the world refused to play along. Even tiny African nations chose to think for themselves rather than give in to the bullying of the administration that wanted their YES vote to go to war. In the end Bush went it alone and today we are in this chaotic mess, totally isolated except for the goodwill of a handful of "allies" including a "poodle" across the ocean.

So, Emily, why don't we put a stop to this debate and discuss worthwhile stuff like...how to get out of the Iraqi quagmire and take our armed forces out of harm's way?

Posted by: Mark | December 9, 2005 08:04 PM

The very fact that we are still conducting a debate on whether the administration led us into this war of choice through deception and lie or whether the administration itself was misled shows how we have missed the point altogether.

Bush wanted to be a war president. The war in Afghanistan was not really a war because the Taliban were a bunch of ragtags and they could not really matter for this President to define his legacy. So he set his eyes on Iraq. Of course, he was aided in this by his puppet master Dick Cheney and the muscular Rummy who were only too glad to oblige. Paul Wolfowitz was at least honest (although only for a brief moment)when he spoke the TRUTH for once. He proclaimed that the administration kept harping on the lie that Saddam was hiding WMD with which to harm the US and its allies (read: Israel)BECAUSE that was the only way the administration thought it could convince the world body. The most unanticipated aspect of this deception was that the world refused to play along. Even tiny African nations chose to think for themselves rather than give in to the bullying of the administration that wanted their YES vote to go to war. In the end Bush went it alone and today we are in this chaotic mess, totally isolated except for the goodwill of a handful of "allies" including a "poodle" across the ocean.

So, Emily, why don't we put a stop to this debate and discuss worthwhile stuff like...how to get out of the Iraqi quagmire and take our armed forces out of harm's way?

Posted by: Mark | December 9, 2005 08:07 PM

Horm argues - "First: There was plenty of time to hold debate on Iraq until after the 2002 election. Hussein hadn't attacked us, and the UN wasn't voting to lift sanctions. So Chris' assertions that we needed to invade immediately are full of BS."

No, there comes a time for decisions to be made. That is what leaders do, they do not put them off so as to gravely harm their business, their family, their nation through endless procrastination.

After 11 years and the lesson of 9/11 that we paid dearly for ignoring the gathering danger of radical Islamists - and 17 UN resolutions - it was long past time to cease putting up with Saddam's bullshit. And the only reason he allowed UN inspectors in was we had an invasion force on his Border equipped to either attack or withdraw - not stay in a remote patch of desert far away from water supply sources - indefinitely.

Ironically, this is exactly what the two-faced POS Kerry and Harkin argued. Comply or face the consequences, because we won't leave our invasion force to just sit in some foreign desert indefinitely. It must be used or withdrawn to reequip and retrain. Saddam would not be allowed to wait us out...now matter how the Lefties bawled and whimpered about the innocent brown babies we might kill accidentally (Saddam did them wonders!).

Smooth writes: "I feel sorry for Chris Ford. I also feel sorry for the U.S. because some many people like Chris Ford vote for the criminals that are looting the U.S. Treasury."

I write that I feel sorry for Smooth and others so deep in bed with the enemy and giving them aid and comfort that the average American sees them as quasi-traitors and will never trust them to lead - despite their generally correct observations that the Republicans have become even more corrupt and free-spending than the Dems themselves.

David writes: " I woudl like to point out the the "Euro Weenies" have fought 2 World Wars, and in the last one around 20 million Western Eurpoeans died. I suggest the Europeans know something about war that Americans after Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq have yet to learn."

All the Euroweenies proved was they had a cluster-fuck in WWI and having learned nothing, had WWII. Which on the Continent, only Holland and Poland emerged with their honor intact, IMO. WWII (Germany) was won not by the Euroweenies, but by the Soviets, with considerable Brit and N. American help.

Frankly "old Europe" - the Euroweenies -
are pretty pathetic. The French and Belgians have retreated from every challenge they have faced since WWII and have such a weak national defense force that the French now have to rely on America to fly their forces elsewhere. They even lacked the will to lead on the Bosnian and Kosovo crisis in their backyard. Clinton had to step in and lead. At least the Germans are slowly recovering their ethnic arrogance again, calling the French, Belgians, and Spaniards weak and cowardly peoples.

What the Euroweenies have learned after WWII and all their embarassments since is to keep their heads low and hold the moral high ground and preach it voiciferously as other more powerful countries somehow bail their asses out.

What America has learned since WWII is to silently conclude "fuck what the Euroweenie Left thinks" except when we had so much cultural crossover in the late 60's that the media and liberal Democrats, emulating the Euroweenies they loved, caused our defeat in Vietnam.

And of course, David, the usual refrains the Left makes of any counterterrorism op, starting with our attack against who the Left called "the invincible Mujahadeen Warrior" in their panty-pissing mode - as "playing right into Bin Laden's hands" -- is crap. Binnie is a hunted dog afraid to communicate (last word from him was Oct 2004), Ayman al-Zawahiri is begging Iraqi insurgents for funds.

It's just the usual Pacifist gibberish recycled for another war. Attacking and killing any enemy only makes them stronger - and the REAL way to fight a war is to sit safely on the sideline and cluck and chirp against the moral deficiencies of those actually on the battlefield. If only the world would listen to the Higher Moral Authority of the Pacifist, they bleat....Same old shit from the same old crowd in every war since WWI.

Posted by: Chris Ford | December 9, 2005 08:53 PM

Mark, there is no honest way to get out of the Iraq quagmire either given its history so far. What will happen is Bush will find some cover to declare victory and then pull out slowly before the 2006 election. And then the next president will complete it by Jan 2009 no matter how Iraq turns out.

1. The war was started dishonestly - WMD, Saddam was linked to 9/11, etc.

2. The war was and still is fought dishonestly - not enough troops, complete lack of realistic planning, utterly false assumptions, etc.

Look if Bush really believed Iraq is the CENTRAL front in the war on terror. A war we cannot afford to lose. A war we must win at all cost. Then he would throw everything we've got into it. Start the draft. Mobilize the nation. Put the country on a war footing ala WW II. He's done no such thing because nobody including himself believes his claim.

3. All this talk about not setting a deadline so we won't encourage the terrorists to wait us out is more dishonesty. No leader, no organization in any field of any endeavor has the luxury of an open ended task. Without a deadline there is no goal post, no pressure to get the job done. It's a shame most of the democrats, including Bill and Hillary, buy into this argument which goes to show how empty headed they are. One should argue instead that a deadline and a guarantee of a fair share of the oil wealth will give the Sunni insurgents reasons to break from the imported terrorists and start to cooperate. Once the Sunnis believe they will get a fair shake and if they want to they will liquidate the foreign terrorists. These guys know how to 'run' Iraq.

So you have it, a dishonest start, an ongoing dishonest conduct of the war will lead to an inevitable dishonest end.

Posted by: Tom | December 9, 2005 09:22 PM

Mulitpe choice quiz for the historically-challenged Chris Ford

1. On August 4, 1914, the Germans invaded Belgium. Since Belgium was neutral, no country was bound to her by treaty. Nevertheless a large number of countries came to her aid by declaring war on Germany. Which one of the following countries did NOT come to Belgium's aid?

A) France
B) Russia
C) Britain
D) Australia
E) Canada
F) New Zealand
G) The United States of America

2. When the Panzers crossed the Polish frontier on September 1, 1939, Hitler crossed the line set by a group of nations who were determined to prevent further aggression whatever the cost. Which one of the following countries did NOT come to Poland's aid?

A) France
B) Britain
C) Canada
D) Australia
E) New Zealand
F) The United States of America

3. On Dec 7, 1941, Japan launched a sneak attack on Pearl Harbour, the Philippines, Hong Kong and Malaya. Britain and the US immediately declared war on Japan. What did America do to support its new ally?

A) Declare war against Nazi Germany as Britain had done against Japan
B) Declare war against Nazi Germany because Hitler was allied to Japan
C) Declare war against Nazi Germany because it menaced the existence of Britain and the free world
D) Declare war against Nazi Germany because it was evil, strangled US trade and sank US ships
E) CRAVENLY CONTINUE TO SHY AWAY FROM WAR AGAINST GERMANY, LEAVING BRITAIN TO FACE THE NAZIS ALONE, UNTIL A BEMUSED AND CONTEMPTUOUS HITLER GOT BORED OF WAITING AND DECLARED WAR ON THE UNITED STATES

You appear to have been reading your history book upside down mate. By the way, did you know that Precott Bush and George Walker, Dubya's grandpa and great-grandpa, had their assets seized by Congress in 1942 under the Trading with the Enemy Act, for running Nazi front companies and laundering money from industries using slave labour in Occupied Europe?

So you can add Adolf to the Bin Ladens, among the list of Bush family business partners.

Posted by: English Patient | December 9, 2005 09:29 PM

I'm pleased to see that a number of people here have raised the obviously relevant question of PNAC - the Project for a New American Century. This is actually the first time I've seen references to PNAC in a major US media source - though still not by journalists, sadly. But PNAC's existence is widely known around the world.

When the Cold War ended, Europeans expected both sides to pull back and stand down. And the Russians seemed willing to play along.

But the Americans reacted to the end of the Cold War in an unpredicted manner. They kept arming. By the mid-1990s their armed forces were growing again. And they started advancing into central Asia. They built bases inside the former Soviet Union itself. They started trying to provoke China into an arms race. They appeared to believe that the Gulf belongs to them.

By 2000 the gap in arms between the US and rest of the world was huge for the simple reason that America had rejected the peace dividend.

They then apparently decided that they were above the law, and worse, were going to use force to dominate the new century.

We have signed confessions to this effect from the entire Republican leadership, on their PNAC website. Those papers are full of choice tidbits like: "We must discourage advanced industrial nations from challenging our leadership or even aspiring to a larger regional or global role." (Libby and Wolfowitz)

Referring to the US troops now present in 132 of 190 countries around the world, and specifically to their plans for new bases across Asia, PNAC called these overseas forces "the cavalry on the new American frontier."

And what about Iraq? Here's what PNAC had to say about Iraq in 1997: "While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein."

The purpose of this "force presence" was simple: to ensure American dominance in the 21st century, particularly by sitting on China's oil supply.

Has anyone in America actually read the 2002 "National Security Strategy of the United States"? It announces an intention to seize sole armed control of outer space, which apparently belongs to America.

It also declares a willingness to 'preemptively' attack non-nuclear states with nuclear weapons. Such preemptive wars will be aimed at anyone who approaches military parity with the US, the country's policy says: "The United States will never again allow its military supremacy to be challenged."

Leaving aside momentarily the question of Iraq, how can we sum up great-power politics in the last fifteen years? Basically, the Soviets disbanded their empire, withdrew from Eastern Europe, abolished communism and detargeted their missiles. And America responded by moving troops up to the borders of historic Russia itself, complete with large airbases and nuclear weapons.

America is an aggressive expansionist power on course to destabilise the world. Why are there US troops in places like Mongolia and Kazakhstan? Show me the Russian military advisors in Honduras, the Chinese carrier fleet off San Diego. The map says it all.

I don't actually fear that the US is going to take over the world. In fact I'm certain it will fail - it's already failing. In the long run, the US can't hope to compete with the alliances it will stir up against itself. But I fear that in trying, they will bring us to World War Three, wiping out my family in the process.

When I see the invasion of Iraq, I am reminded of Mussolini's invasion of Abyssinia, which broke the League of Nations. The invasion of Iraq was a similar attempt by a militaristic power to shatter international law. The 2003 invasion was, first and foremost, a deliberate attack on the United Nations and the articles banning aggressive war.

We know this because the war's architects have admitted it.
"Saddam Hussein...will go quickly, but not alone: in a parting irony, he will take the UN down with him. Well, not the whole UN. The 'good works' part will survive, the low-risk peacekeeping bureaucracies will remain, the chatterbox on the Hudson will continue to bleat. What will die is the fantasy of the UN as the foundation of a new world order. As we sift the debris, it will be important to preserve, the better to understand, the intellectual wreckage of the liberal conceit of safety through international law administered by international institutions...."
Richard Perle, Asst Sec'y Defense 1981-87
Chairman Defense Policy Review Board 2003
Leading Iraq warplanner
March 2003, Spectator Magazine (British)

Posted by: OD | December 9, 2005 10:57 PM

Why is PNAC never mentioned in the US media? It's not a black-helicopter conspiracy theory, or even a secret organisation. They've got a bloody website.

The whole question of whether/how intelligence was abused is completely absurd. Regarding WMD, we have proven forgeries backing up statements made in the State of the Union Address. Regarding the mythical al Qaeda-Iraq link, the men who run the government today already planned to seize Iraq before 911 even happened. This is not a debatable issue.

So...who are PNAC?

Well, here are some names from among the signatories of PNAC's statement of principles and their famous letter to Clinton, plus a few other PNAC papers.

Some leading PNACers:

Dick Cheney (Vice-president)
Donald Rumsfeld (Sec of 'Defense')
Zalmay Khalilzad (Current US ambassador to Iraq)
Richard Perle (Iraq warplanner and frmr Dep Sec of Def)
Paul Wolfowitz (Iraq warplanner and frmr Dep Sec of Def)
I. Lewis ("Scooter") Libby (Indicted VP chief of staff)
John Bolton (US ambassador to UN)

Some other prominent PNAC signatories:

Jeb Bush
William Kristol (Intellectual godfather of the 'neo-cons')
James Woolsey (former CIA director)
Frank Carlucci (Chairman, Carlyle Group)
Dan Quayle
Francis Fukuyama
Frank Gaffney
Norman Podhoretz
Elliott Abrams
Gary Bauer
William J. (Bill) Bennett
Richard L. (Dick) Armitage
Max Boot

I leave you with this final thought from PNAC themselves:

"While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein." (PNAC 1997)

http://www.newamericancentury.org

Posted by: OD | December 9, 2005 10:58 PM

Emily asks: Did the administration know more than it chose to reveal?

Republius: You could have asked: Did the administration know more than it revealed? The inclusion of the word 'chose' creates the impression of bias on your part. You would think the Dan Rather fiasco would make you a little more sensitive to that sort of thing. But I guess some people never learn. Or are you, Emily even asking the question? Or is asking the question in that particular way what your boss told you to do in his zeal to mold public opinion to shadow his own.

If the administration were to reveal all that it knows about any policy matter I doubt that you would have the attention span to consider the implications of any of it. I always thought that the attention paid to the 16 words was more than they warranted. It seemed to me that the Democrats were looking for anything that they could cling to for a reason to be disagreeable. And for Ted Kennedy of all people to be the one to say "Lie after lie after lie after lie" is enough to make a righteous man's head explode. Let's ask Ted if he chose to reveal all that he knew about Chappaquiddick. It just goes to show that you can be guilty of manslaughter and never have to answer tough questions if you have friends that can use you like a puppet later on.

The whole ridiculous stretch of the implication of those 16 words reminds me of Gene Hackman's dialogue in "The French Connection" where he busts some poor slob who cries that he wasn't doing anything wrong and that Hackman had nothing to arrest him for. Hackman effectively convinced the guy that he didn't have to have anything on him and proceeded to make him confess to picking his toes in Poughkeepsie.

If you have the power, if in the case of the Bush haters, you get paid to use ink by the barrel, you can make a mountain out of less than a molehill.

Posted by: republius | December 9, 2005 11:15 PM

Another day, another piece of duplicity by ths Administration:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/12/09/AR2005120902037.html
U.S. Is Dissenter On Global Warming
Kyoto Parties Near Deal on New Talks
Wash Post, Dec 10
...At one point Bush's deputies threatened to boycott the meetings if Clinton, who was invited by Montreal's mayor and the Canadian Sierra Club, spoke. Clinton offered not to come, said sources close to the former president, but the Canadians stood by the invitation.
Publicly, however, Paula Dobriansky, the U.S. undersecretary of state for democracy and global affairs, welcomed Clinton, saying in a statement that "public events in connection with the U.N. climate change conference, such as the one involving former President Clinton, are useful opportunities to hear a wide range of views on global climate change."

...You'd think with all that practice at lying, they'd get better at it.

Paula Dobriansky, incidentally, is another PNAC signatory. The government is riddled with them.

Posted by: OD | December 10, 2005 12:14 AM

1. Apparantly our Lefty Loon English patient (do they give you a butterfly net where you are, chap?) is unaware of the Franco-Russian Pact of 1904, the UK-Russia Entente, the Entente Cordiale, the 1839 Belgium Neutrality Guarantee signed by Britain (Treaty of London), and what nations he lists were subject to the British Crown. Nor is our English patient evidently aware of how those treaties and entangling alliances bound up all nations into war ---- all but for the United States.

2. Our English Patients historical knowledge doesn't get any better with respect to WWII, where once again, nations he listed as British Empire subjects dutifully rushed to the UK's defense and France and England initially declared war because both had "guaranteed" Poland on 30 March 1939, unaware that Hitler and Stalin had decided to cut a deal on partitioning Poland.

3. The poor Limey becomes even more confused about the support America gave the UK under Lend Lease starting back in 1940 and it's open Naval Warfare against Nazi Germany that was publicly admitted to as early as 11 Sept 1941. He doesn't realize that Japan declared war against Britain the same time as it went to war aginst the US, not does he realize that 3 days later, the US declared war on Germany and Italy, and they on us.

4. The Prescott Bush smear is just another partisan conspiracy charge with as little validity as the other side saying Joe Kennedy was Hitler's secret agent in Britain, FDR had industrialists like Harriman and even some Jews like Morgenthau with fingers in German investments...Welcome to the world of multinationals, which have actually existed for a long, long time even before WWII.

With one of my undergraduate degrees in History, I know the subject quite well in the outline as well as knowing how to dig into details when a subject comes up. English Patient just pulls it out of his ass. There is no obligation for us to be with the Limeys in all they do. Nor they with us. They took a pass on Vietnam, we passed on the Falklands, and the Brits have bunkered down in relative safety in Southern Iraq for the last 24 months. And the Brits are still trying to live down a reputation of using their colonials as cannon fodder, such as at Gallipoli.

Here's a little joke for you, English Patient.

"How many British Leftists does it take to pick up the body parts from the London Tunnel Bombings?"

Answer: Its irrelevant. Because:

A. 1/3rd of British Lefties are too busy trying to understand more about the just grievances and root causes of the rage and anger that motivate radical Muslims.
2. Another 1/3rd are busy apologizing to the Mullahs and activists at Finsbury and elsewhere of the Infidel evils and root causes they already understand that compel Jihad - racism, classism, Crusades, homophobia, feminism....oops...strike the last two...
3. The last 3rd are far too preoccupied trying to elevate the World's "Moral Mind" by writing pleading letters to World Ruler Kofi Himself to lead them to enlightenment and peace, actively seeking arrest and trial of Blair and the Bush-Hitler in the Sacred International Court once the Slobbo Trial is over (est. 18 years from now at it's current pace) - or showing how energized and important they are by marching and protesting.

Posted by: Chris Ford | December 10, 2005 12:36 AM

OD, you speack of all those wonderful things about the PNAC as if they are bad. I think America should be the new Roman Emprire. Rome was awsome! What the hell, let's give a century or two and then talk about it again.

Posted by: johnnyg in NE DC | December 10, 2005 01:02 AM

My spelling sucks!

Posted by: johnnyg in NE DC | December 10, 2005 01:05 AM

Ahh, the impetuousity of youth!

I fear the Romans were made of sterner stuff than today's Americans, Johnny.

The people of empires must be willing to die at a fairly high steady rate, and to spend, spend, spend.

The Romans could lose 50,000 men -- their whole navy -- in a single storm at sea in the Punic Wars and shrug it off. The American people, vastly more numerous, have turned against the Iraq War after losing 2000 soldiers.

They fled Lebanon after losing 240, and quit Somalia after losing 19.

When Cyrus the Great conquered the territory that became the Persian Empire, his nobles wanted to build palaces down in the great plain, ironically modern-day Iraq, which was then considered a rich, bountiful land.

But Cyrus warned them, do that if you will, but prepare to become the slaves of other men yourselves, for soft lands breed soft men, and their empires do not last.

Well you won't find a softer, fatter land than the United States of America.

I don't wish to be rude but quite apart from the silliness of the WMD claims and the illegality, one reason people around the world shook their heads in disbelief at the Iraq war and the wider PNAC plan was because it was so obvious that the American people was not going to stay interested, and would soon be looking for a way back to the sofa.

Beyond that, times have changed militarily. America was born too late to play Alexander the Great. The potential booty of war remains about the same, but the potential cost is now far greater. The destructiveness of weapons has outstripped everything else, throwing the equation completely out of whack. How can America hope to be master of Russia or China, when these countries could launch a devastating nuclear attack on the US tomorrow? Your missile defence system doesn't even claim to be able to stop or mitigate such an attack.

You're just going to have to accept that Britain was probably the last successful military empire, and that you're never going to get your turn. The fuzzie-wuzzies just don't want to play along anymore.

It's not muskets vs spears nowadays. As soon as you occupy their countries, you become vulnerable to asymmetric warfare. Combine that with a casualty-shy population at home and you have a recipe for defeat.

The US Armed Forces can't even subdue a country of 26 million people. What are you going to do about the other four billion Asians? Attempts to bully and isolate China and Russia have simply driven them into each other's arms. They held their first joint military exercises about three months back.

America's position is far weaker now than it was five years ago. And in the long run, it's only going to get worse. America was 40% of the world's economy in 1945. It's 20% today, and the proportion is shrinking. China is going to surpass America and everyone knows it.

History is full of examples of powerful countries going militarily bananas just as they enter terminal decline. I wonder if today's American behaviour isn't a reaction to the inevitable - all this time America has been fairly responsible with power but, seeing that their time is drawing to a close, they want to try one really naughty bender before they lose the opportunity forever.

Perhaps Bush was looking for tips from the Mongolians the other day. But his empire will be even shorter-lived than theirs. In fact it's already fallen at the first hurdle: Iraq - stage one of the PNAC plan. Nothing has gone as planned. Cheney and Rumsfeld expected to be in Tehran by now.

Posted by: OD | December 10, 2005 03:27 AM

Since this is a revisit of the week, I'd like to repeat what I wrote at the "case for war". It was the very last post and there were already other blogs by Emily, so I suppose not many people read it.
It is about the reason why in Europe people feel b e t r a y e d by the US government. Yes, it is even the main reason why the USA is disliked so much in Europe.)

As a dutch man, living in Switzerland, knowing people well in NL, B, CH, BRD, A and F, I'd like to say how in Europe the g e n e r a l feeling about the start of the Iraq war was.

The Bush administration tried (during the whole period) to convince the world that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. That goal wasn't reached in Europe. Most of the people weren't convinced, only a part of the european goverments were (again partly) convinced.

A war scenario looked close, everyone was afraid for war, but then the Bush administration brought in the UN - and the Iraq allowed the inspections. Pffff, that was a close call. Happily they found a diplomatic solution: the USA gave the problem in the hands of the inspectors - war is unlikely again.

Before the inspections were finished, the president of the USA gave the order to go to war.

Posted by: rockmysoul67 | December 10, 2005 07:28 AM

The decision to go to war is of such momentous importance that it should be cautiously and carefully considered and debated by leaders and citizens in a democracy. People in non-democratic countries don't have that luxury. In their rush to war, the republicans denied the American people the right to debate their predetermined decision. Anyone who questioned their decision was attacked and reviled as cowards or traitors. They shouted, "You are either for us, or against us."

That is not how Democracy is supposed to work.

The truth is, Republicans don't believe in Democracy, they prefer Plutocracy and social Darwinism.

Posted by: rabblerowzer | December 10, 2005 08:18 AM

Constant, nagging question: Why do we have to wait until 2008 for a change in admin, congress, etc.?? So much more damage could be done by that time--at home and abroad. Impeachment is highly unlikely considering the make-up of current congress & the power the WH yeilds. I read recently a suggestion of a possible grassroots movement to have a recall election. Petitions and signatures would be needed. I guess it took 12% of the number who voted in the previous California election to accomplish that re-vote revolt. This could be done through various means--internet, door-to-door, media. What's needed is serious ORGANIZATION AND COORDINATION. Is there anybody out there? I'll sign and I'll vote!

Posted by: MO | December 10, 2005 09:06 AM

The Chris character and others of his ilk seem to overlook the fact that occupiers rarely succeed against organized armed insurgencies. In fact as a history student,as Chirs claims; I would appreciate it if he would point out where this is not the case. Excuse the typos...I am a disabled WWII vet and age has its own agenda. I do find his arguments laced with vendictives which diminish his "scholarship."

Posted by: ipujon | December 10, 2005 10:29 AM

I admire Ms. Messner articles. They are very articulate and comprehensive.

Posted by: Jorge Moreno | December 10, 2005 10:39 AM

I suppose that George W. Bush and his sycophants could make some sort of technical case that he didn't actually lie in is 2003 State-of-the-Union address. He merely acknowledged that "British intelligence sources have learned..." that Sadaam sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa. I suppose that could also make a case that everyone else on the planet believed that Sadaam had weapons of mass destruction.

But for me, the fact that Bush was extraordinarily cautious in how he used his words is worse than outright lying. It indicates a sort of consciousness of guilt. It indicates that he probably did not really believe the flimsy intelligence he was getting.

Evidence for this view can be found in Bob Woodward's book wherein he describes Bush's reaction when George Tenet presents him with the case for WMD. It makes unmistakably clear that Bush was disappointed with that case when he responds: "This is the best you've got?" It was at the point that Tenet puts his arm around Bush's shoulder and in what can only be that moment when a loyal subject gives his King plausible deniability states deadpan: "Its a slamdunk Mr. President."

It wasn't a slamdunk and they both knew it. Tenet was knowingly giveing Bush a false impression and Bush was knowingly accepting that false impression. That is how badly Bush wanted this war. It was Tenet himself who tolds his staff to pass the word that if President Bush wants to go to war with Iraq, then it is our responsibility to give him the intelligence to justify it.

Look. I could care less about whether Bush "technically" lied. The war was justified with a lie however you look at it. People died because of this lie. And someone needs to be held accountably both legally and politically.

Posted by: jaxas | December 10, 2005 11:02 AM

I didn't believe there was a solid case for WMD's at the time, I told everyone in earshot...most of the media's looking backward excercise is clouding the fact that many, many, in fact a majority of the world did not believe that the Cheney Administration had made a solid or even a
decent case for WMD's, moreover a reciew of how they lawyered the statements at the time indicates they knew they had squat
evidence. From Woodward's book it seems that the decision to go to war was made prior to any review of what threat Iraq constituted, my sense is that we will never lnow exactly why the decision was made other than Dubya wanted to do it.

Posted by: Don Wade | December 10, 2005 12:14 PM

To MO:

Count me in for a signature on that petition. I've been writing for some time now that the issue we seem reluctant to address openly in the nation is that of three more years with Mr. Bush and his cronies at the helm. It should be painfully obvious to all but the staunchest Bush apologists that the greatest danger to the U.S. would be to allow this Administration to finish the run of its contratct, and continue with the inept foreign and domestic policies that have left us reviled throughout the world, and less secure at home.

Just HOW we organize a demand for a special recall referendum in 2006 is the answer that escapes me, however. Those with the visibility and political clout to organize such a movement have so far proven to be reluctant to even raise the topic. Who can we turn to?

The fact remains that Mr. Bush has had more than enough time to demonstrate his qualification (or lack thereof) to run the show. Sitting by and waiting three more years while he "stays the course" will only worsen the disasters his Administration has initiated both at home and abroad. And that is something we citizens simply cannot afford to do.

www.thehueandcry.com

Posted by: The Hue and Cry | December 10, 2005 12:26 PM

Does it really matter about who did what or who said what (Republican or Democrat) we're in this for the long haul. Even if the Dems. take over power, they can no sooner leave this mess, than those who are in power now.

So I say all that to say...it's just another fact of life, like the WTC bombings that we now have to deal with and both parties should work together to solve it rather than use it as a political stepping stone.

Posted by: http:bonniescalhoun.blogspot.com | December 10, 2005 01:07 PM

Does it really matter about who did what or who said what (Republican or Democrat) we're in this for the long haul. Even if the Dems. take over power, they can no sooner leave this mess, than those who are in power now.

So I say all that to say...it's just another fact of life, like the WTC bombings that we now have to deal with and both parties should work together to solve it rather than use it as a political stepping stone.

Posted by: http://bonniescalhoun.blogspot.com | December 10, 2005 01:09 PM

Firstly, I want to start with my thanks to Emily Wessner and the openhearted people in this column.

I try to read this newspaper, especially Emily's column. I find it worthy to read and also the comments... As a Turkish guy who is closed to the region in war, I can say that you are missing an important point. How people in that region regard America as... Are they welcome here, in Middle East? US officials claim that they are here to spread "democracy". Is this real? Before Iraq war, the primitive country for human rights in Middle East is Saudi Arabia (SA). A woman can't travel alone, for example. But they are not invaded for democracy. I have an answer for this. US (the people in government) have strong relations with SA. Those Arabs invest a lot of money in US. They sell their oil without making any trouble. So, democracy should wait till another century. Knowing this statement, Iraqi people or the people in the region don't believe any argument about democracy. Besides, these people don't know what democracy is. US came and invade their country. They did not make any trouble at first. Because, at that time the war was not their war. It was a war between Saddam and Bush. When the torture (even in this newspaper a lot of claims are stated about "nonexistent" prisons) was revealed, people started to fight with US troops seriously. You are calling those people insurgents. Haven't you seen the torture applied on women in Iraq prisons? You don't know how women's honor is important for Muslims. Some of you (I don't mean in this debate, in general I meant) think that, most of those insurgents come from neighboring countries. This doesn't show the whole picture. Yes, there are some people from neighboring countries. But, what can suggest a person to a battlefield? I have read in one newspaper; a man wrote a message to his family. It is like this: "My mom and dad, I am here to save the honors of our women. I will take the revenge of them from Americans." Do you see how US forces are regarded as?

US don't realize the mud they are in. Actually they are very well aware of this. The worst, they don't mention about this to US people. I believe in OD's claim here. I have some additions to his. We know that a leader is not a single person. He has a team around of him. The team of president is very influential to Bush as you have seen. They are consisted of very cunning men. I think, there was a comment "The intelligence is same, but the decisions taken may differ" in the previous column of Emily. This is an excellent point. Bush can't read thousands of documents. He just gets diminished information. So, it is easy to manipulate such a man. The people around Bush (as you see their intentions in PNAC pages) don't have very clean ideas on Iraq. They don't mind the people in Iraq.

As a result, this war will not give any gain to any country except Israel. Please check the connections of people around Bush with Jews/Israel. I am not an anti-Semitist; but, I am not an idiot either.

Special thanks to OD, Maldoro, Smooth, Tom and the other openhearted people that I haven't mentioned.

Posted by: homeless | December 10, 2005 01:22 PM

Emily: Your conclusions are based on suppositions. For example, you write, "It seems to me that it's not easy to prove that the administration exaggerated particular claims, since it's likely that each of those claims was in an intelligence report somewhere at some time."
Although it may be "likely" the administration's claims existed somewhere, there's no proof, and given the administration's many "misleading" statements, any hard-copy proof would be suspect.
Kevin Drum and others who state that almost everyone believed Saddam had WMD overlook the many experienced analysts and professionals who did NOT believe in the
WMD myths, but who were (and still are) largely ignored by the MSM.
dg

Posted by: Doug Giebel | December 10, 2005 01:25 PM

Emily Messner wrote:
"The two widespread criticisms of the media regarding Iraq have been that a) journalists didn't look closely enough into the administration's pre-war claims; . . . On the first criticism, though, I find it tough to say whether the media really could have effectively debunked the claims without access to classified information. "

On the contrary! Several journalists DID in fact debunk Bush's claims. The question is, why did Len Downie bury the Post's coverage on pA28 and A34? This is no compliment to the media, but individual journalists did come up with stories that put the lie to Bush's claims. Blair's 28-page dossier was a ludicrous stunt -- on the face of it. He relied on grad-student thesis to pad the thing.

The question is -- why didn't the Post (Woodward) and the NYTs (Miller) give even remotely adequate coverage to the most important story of decade? It was obvious as hell. The editors had to know. Why?

Bush's case was notable precisely for its lack of factual evidence. If there WAS a case to be made, he would surely have laid it out in detail.

Of the weak 'evidence' -- rather, the claims that Bush DID put forth, various newspapers, magazines, reporters DID debunk Bush's assertions! The aluminum tubes were debunked as evidence by Greg Thielman and Houghton Woods -- our two American experts on nuclear-WMD issues. Where was the Washington Post in giving that bit of news due and proporational coverage?

Nowhere.

Expecially of interest to you, Ms. Messner, would be the two administration-run 'investigations' into whatever-could-have-happened-to-our-intelligence. This is post-invasion and post-David Kay (& Co.) MI6 investigated itself -- and promptly absolved itself of any wrongdoing -- because it claimed to have relied on American intelligence, the veracity of which it could not have verified.

Whereupon the CIA investigated itself -- and promptly absolved itself of any wrongdoing -- because it claimed to have relied on British intelligence, the veracity of which it could not be expected to have verified.

How very convenient!

But the same applies to Emily Messner and the Washington Post. It was all very secret! We relied on what the Bush administration told us! So we're not culpable!

Of course you're culpable! The newspapers and media were FULL of facts and stories that put the lie to Bush's WMD claims. Minimal investigation and coverage proporational to the story's importance would have made a difference to the 2100 dead American neighbors and friends, and would have improved the national security of America.

In short, if I can open up Newsweek and read about Thielmann and Woods debunking the aluminum tubes story, why can't Judith Iscariot Miller or Len Downie pick up the phone and give em a call? Or Bob Woodward?

BTW, the blogs are full of stories (was it Jay Rosen?) about how Woodward never even asked dissenting parties or minority viewpoints for their take on Bush, etc., for his books on that topic.

So who is it that pays Judith Miller's and Bob Woodward's salaries? The NYTs is not the only payroll Miller's on, and I'd suggest -- assert -- that Woody's loyalties aren't with the book royalties -- or with the Washington Post.

Watching his comments on the Fitzgerald-Plame investigation made it clear how a) out of touch with reality he is, because his comments were clearly and wholly at odds with the import of the facts at hand, and b) that he was aiming to have an impact on the process as an actor, not as a observer. His agenda was not that of a reporter.

So why does Bob Woodward still have a job? He sure isn't fulfilling his job as a reporter -- he is actively misleading the public as a pundit. And he clearly had betrayed his obligations as a reporter -- and betrayed the Post's readership and American interests in the process.

Posted by: RichFelsing | December 10, 2005 01:56 PM

Dear readers,

Today is a sad for our country, the democratic country we thought we where living does no exist any more, they have already taken control of the radio and television networks, and don't forget the newspapers. Mr. Arkin has arranged that I will be blocked from this site in the future(I mean, how can some links to independent news sites hurt Mr. Arkin so much?, what are you afraid of Mr. Arkin? is it so hard to get some real facts?(from trustfully news organizations) and not just corporate media news propaganda, the only spectrum you give is that of, I go for the Republicans,but if they push it too far on the economic warfare level then we go for the funny Democrats, that are all the possible possibilities, nothing more!(I understand that you are trying to make a career at the Washington Post, but do you have to sell yourself for so little?

For the readers who are interested in the real news, I will like to ask you to bookmark the following sites:

otherside123.blogspot.com
www.onlinejournal.com
www.takingaim.info/audio
www.globalresearch.ca
www.counterpunch.org

I will like to end with a quote from the father of our current president:

"The truth will get you poor or dead"

That's all folkes, take care.

Che

Posted by: Che | December 10, 2005 01:58 PM

Removing Fox News from the equation, the mainstream media are not so much malicious as they are lazy - viz. Miller and Woodward and other examples beyond number, who want their news leaked from high government officials instead of doing the scut work of interviewing the middle- to lower-level government grunts who can tell the truth. Additionally, there was a shocking failure to cross-check bald assertions before publishing them as fact. I know not what is being taught in the journalism schools these days, but you can't get a good story without sweat equity and the major players are more interested in star quality. By the way, the Post should be congratulated on its recent stories concerning torture and reliance on bogus intelligence.

The second problem with our media is common to the reporters and the editorial staff: the tendency to color a story to remove any possible criticism of liberal bias. Put another way, the media is so sensitive to the stigmatic label of "liberalism" that stories are deliberately slanted in the opposite direction. Question the basis for an invasion? Never think it! That might be seen as unpatriotic. Show some carnage on the screen? Nope, we'd be pilloried by the general public, to say nothing of the administration. The concept of "fair and balanced" does not presuppose that there are two legitimate sides to every factual report.

Finally, there's the problem of the news cycle, and the seeming failure to pick up on noteworthy developments in a timely manner. The Plame case is one of the more glaring examples of this, in that the story broke, then months of silence passed before it reappeared, having since grown to monolithic proportions. The Press Corps didn't begin to seriously question the White House on it until McClellan's famous press conference following the revelation that Rove had, indeed, talked to reporters. The Press Corps realized it had been conned, and grew some backbone. Why, though, had it been so easy to con the Press Corps? Because they weren't paying attention, is why.

The concentrated ownership of outlets is a concern, sure, but only one of several. It's attractive as a quick fix, but most often the quick fix is akin to treating the symptoms, not the disease.

Posted by: Eric Sowers | December 10, 2005 03:09 PM

I read the piece in the Seattle Times that you referenced in talking about the role of the journalists and media in the run-up to the Iraq war. Two comments: 1) the Times piece looks at media consolidation as the way that the news became a cheerleader for the war. I would beg to differ: the news media became interested in cheerleading at all when the news became a for profit enterprise. The Goodmans,who wrote the article, are therefore wrong. The worst FCC director wasn't Michael Powell, it was Mark Fowler, who by deregulating advertising minutes, dumping the fairness doctrine, getting rid of the soliciting of viewer opinion to renew licenses, and starting the consolidation of the media, turned the news into something about making money, instead of fulfilling a public obligation.

2) As for the way journalists see themselves, on Bernard Kalb's CNN program "Reliable Sources" in 2003, Christopher Hitchens was asked what role the media played in the run-up to the war. He responded that it was the job of the American media to prepare the public for war, by which he meant get them onboard. Funny, that was supposed to be the President's job. The media worked for the President in the run-up to the war, and they knew it. They had written that into their social role after 9/11.

Posted by: Ondelette | December 10, 2005 03:19 PM

C) As for oil-for-food, the latest figures from the investigation show that the US was the major profiteer, with 52% of the funds that made it out of Iraq going to American companies. And the US Navy was instructed to turn a blind eye to oil smuggling. OD-Where did you get these facts(?)? Every study I Have seen has shown the French,Russians and even the Chinese accounted for the majority of Sadamsillegal purchases.

Posted by: rusty | December 10, 2005 06:18 PM

There is a deployment of US resources and citizens by the feudal rulers to contain a resource that they need. Making sure that their deals and those of their partners don't fall thru....and that their friends can depend on getting their deliveries and preferences met. You are serfs, and are treated and perhaps deserve to treated as such. Apparently you'uns don't know any better 'cause you certainly can't look past the hype and see that you're being treated poorly....your husband doesn't love you, hitting you in the face and knocking you down the stairs is not the same as loving you....you're in an abusive relationship....get rid of them.

When a question like, did they know that blah blah blah was true or not is asked it's like asking if the Pope is trying to keep you from looking at the fact that he uses fear to control his pension fund.....against condoms in Africa, and that's even given legitimacy as a question given the level of aids?

Do US citizens look like they are being taken care of? Ask any Veteran about current benefit levels if you want to really see someone pissed off.

What about the obvious? Is the National Guard being in Iraq affecting our home land security, as in natural disaster response....as in why the National Gaurd was formed...as in why GWbush joined it in the first place to avoid going overseas and fighting. How many people died because they didn't take the gaurd combat training seriously?

Ask some Galludet students whether they think Bush, Cheney, Rumsfield, Rover et al are consistently lying. Deaf people are very good at reading body language....try it, you'll be surprised....who needs a lie detector?

Posted by: There is no war. | December 10, 2005 09:28 PM

Using emotional isms to sway you is the sign of not having any content to convince you.

Patriotissm, Motherhood, babies, they-will-infect-you-with-weird-sex, taking-your-penisguns-away, they-attatcked-you'uns, they-are-different-than-you.

The above are used to control people with low brain cell counts....be careful....do not use with people that have IQ's less than 120, the ressults can be unpredickable.

Posted by: You are the client not the one that gets left overs act like it | December 10, 2005 09:38 PM

Regarding this by OD:

"The Romans could lose 50,000 men -- their whole navy -- in a single storm at sea in the Punic Wars and shrug it off. The American people, vastly more numerous, have turned against the Iraq War after losing 2000 soldiers."

Maybe Rome did not turn its back on its own citizens quite as the top leadership of the United States has done. We get illegal, pointless wars for which we are expected to sacrifice blood and treasure. At the same time, taxes are cut for the ultra-rich and every protection and benefit for the working poor and middle class is on the chopping block. In the 1980s, the elites opted to chastise an uppity working class by immersing the country in the world economy and opening the borders to immigration. Unions went into decline, real wages stagnated, and inequality skyrocketed. They broke their part of the deal. But they want us to continue to hold up our end. The American people know they are getting a raw deal. So when the Bush class ask for sacrifice, we say, what the F for? When does your turn come? In light of the House vote on making the tax cuts permanent for the top income brackets while we cannot even rebuild an American city, it's obvious their turn never comes. So why fight for them?

Posted by: johnuw | December 10, 2005 10:14 PM

Happy to help, Rusty.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,1485546,00.html

The United States administration turned a blind eye to extensive sanctions-busting in the prewar sale of Iraqi oil, according to a new Senate investigation.

A report released last night by Democratic staff on a Senate investigations committee presents documentary evidence that the Bush administration was made aware of illegal oil sales and kickbacks paid to the Saddam Hussein regime but did nothing to stop them.

The scale of the shipments involved dwarfs those previously alleged by the Senate committee against UN staff and European politicians like the British MP, George Galloway, and the former French minister, Charles Pasqua.

In fact, the Senate report found that US oil purchases accounted for 52% of the kickbacks paid to the regime in return for sales of cheap oil - more than the rest of the world put together.

... Yesterday's report makes two principal allegations against the Bush administration. Firstly, it found the US treasury failed to take action against a Texas oil company, Bayoil, which facilitated payment of "at least $37m in illegal surcharges to the Hussein regime".

...In its second main finding, the report said the US military and the state department gave a tacit green light for shipments of nearly 8m barrels of oil bought by Jordan, a vital American ally, entirely outside the UN-monitored Oil For Food system. Jordan was permitted to buy some oil directly under strict conditions but these purchases appeared to be under the counter.

The report details a series of efforts by UN monitors to obtain information about Bayoil's oil shipments in 2001 and 2002, and the lack of help provided by the US treasury.

...Bayoil's owner, David Chalmers, has been charged over the company's activities.

...Investigators found correspondence showing that Odin Marine Inc, the US company chartering the seven huge tankers which picked up the oil at Khor al-Amaya, repeatedly sought and received approval from US military and civilian officials that the ships would not be confiscated by US Navy vessels in the Maritime Interdiction Force (MIF) enforcing the embargo.

Odin was reassured by a state department official that the US "was aware of the shipments and has determined not to take action".

The company's vice president, David Young, told investigators that a US naval officer at MIF told him that he "had no objections" to the shipments. "He said that he was sorry he could not say anything more. I told him I completely understood and did not expect him to say anything more," Mr Young said.

An executive at Odin Maritime confirmed the senate account of the oil shipments as "correct" but declined to comment further.

...The Pentagon declined to comment. The US representative's office at the UN referred inquiries to the state department, which fail to return calls.

NOTE: These are just excerpts I'm giving you. There's a UN webpage that gives much more detail but I've lost the address and can't find it.

Posted by: OD | December 10, 2005 10:24 PM

Here's another tidbit, Rusty, on the even more extensive oil smuggling that took place outside the oil-for-food programme.

Treasury's Role in Illicit Iraq Oil Sales Cited
Senator Releases E-Mail From Parties Involved in Shipments Banned by U.N.

By Colum Lynch
Washington Post
February 17, 2005

The Treasury Department provided assurances that the United States would not obstruct two companies' plans to import millions of barrels of oil from Iraq in March 2003 in violation of U.N. sanctions, according to an e-mail from one of the companies. Diplomats and oil brokers have recently said that the United States had long turned a blind eye to illicit shipments of Iraqi oil by its allies Jordan and Turkey. The United States acknowledged this week that it had acquiesced in the trade to ensure that crucial allies would not suffer economic hardships.

But the e-mail, along with others released this week by Sen. Carl M. Levin (Mich.), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Governmental Affairs panel's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, provides evidence that the Bush administration directly abetted Jordan's efforts to build up its strategic reserves with smuggled Iraqi oil in the weeks before the United States invaded Iraq in March 2003.

The illicit oil exports took place outside the Iraq oil-for-food program, which the United Nations administered from 1996 to 2003. While allegations of corruption and mismanagement in that program are under investigation by five congressional committees, the Justice Department and a U.N.-appointed panel, the illicit oil exports outside the program have received less scrutiny. According to investigators, Iraq received more revenue from those exports than from the alleged oil-for-food kickbacks.

http://www.globalpolicy.org/security/sanction/iraq1/oilforfood/2005/0217treasury.htm

I'd be curious to hear your reaction.

Posted by: OD | December 10, 2005 10:28 PM

johnuw, I hope I didn't come across as criticising Americans for their softness.

Aversion to casualties is a common feature of all rich, modern western-style democracies. I don't think it's a bad thing. As you say, why should people fight for these phony causes?

And who needs empires? They only bring happiness to the megalomaniacs at the top.

History shows clearly that America does a hell of lot better exercising 'soft power'.

Soft power is what got the US to where it is today. Or I should say, to where it was five years ago, before this idiotic adventure in hard power threw so many of those gains away.

Posted by: OD | December 10, 2005 10:39 PM

Emily,
You wrote:
"The two widespread criticisms of the media regarding Iraq have been that a) journalists didn't look closely enough into the administration's pre-war claims; and b) journalists never report on the good news in Iraq. I'll leave the second item alone for now, because although I have a lot to say on it, it's not properly part of this week's topic. On the first criticism, though, I find it tough to say whether the media really could have effectively debunked the claims without access to classified information. Assuming journalists would have needed to see the intelligence in order to cast doubt on the case for war, could they have gotten those documents?"

This implies that the case against the war relies on the falsehood of those documents.
This is not necessarily the case. A perfectly respectable case could be and could have been made against this war solely on the basis of our historical values and principles, and our current long-term security interests. This fellow OD touches on the nature of that case in the two posts identified as follows:
OD | Dec 9, 2005 5:56:26 PM
"A) No Chris, the difference in 1990 was that Saddam had actually attacked someone"
OD | Dec 9, 2005 10:57:36 PM

The President justified our attack on Iraq on the basis of preempting a future threat, specifically excluding a requirement of imminence. This is one of the basic things that gives the rest of the world pause, as one can see in the picture OD paints in the second post identified above. We need to re-examine the role we have assigned to ourselves within this world by this large expansion of justification for military action in light of what we might have learned from the Iraq experience. We need to do that because there are cases, in particular North Korea and Iran, that are both more imminent and larger threats to us than Iraq has ever been since the first Gulf War.

So no, I do not agree with Mark that this debate should be dispensed with. On the contrary, it should be expanded. Under the so-called Bush Doctrine more cases for war are already lined up and waiting. We very much need to re-examine our framework within which they will be considered, and most especially whether the Bush Doctrine actually enhances our long-term security interests or threatens them.

Posted by: Cayambe | December 10, 2005 11:34 PM

We've lost a great deal because of the misguided leadership running the US.

Saddam wasn't an immediate threat.

Osama is still at large.

VP Cheney is still leading the looting of the treasury, as Mr Delay keeps a lower profile while formally indicted.

The President is still firm in his misconvictions.

The Republican controlled House votes - during war time - to amplify the federal deficit with tax cuts, although they felt it necessary to cut programs for the needy in our own country because ... the poor have too much money?

US conduct relating to torture, detaining people without due process, rendition, and utter incompetence in managing the occupation of a country we invaded has alienated internation friends we really need. This is a country that wasn't, but has become, a major source of terrorist threat to the US and our allies.

Congratulations to Mr. Ford and those of his believer bretheren. "Helluva job" your President is doing - very Brownie like.

Did they mislead the US into a war that wasn't justified?

Well, we had Mr Hussein boxed in, patrolled northern and southern parts of Iraq preventing him from invading anyone. He didn't have anything but palace rebuilding going on. The corruption in oil-for-food included US companies - why do we hear virtually nothing about that - call Sen. Coleman of MN who heads Senate Investigative Committee, ask his wazzup.

How is it that Saddam was a threat to the US or Israel, when the US could turn Iraq into a sea of radioactive glass if they struck us or our allies?

How is it that the current chickensh_t US leaders caused the American public to fear 3-d rate powers like Iraq, Iran and North Korea, when many of us lived strong in the face of the Soviet Union threat - which was at least a real menace to our interests?

It's too bad there's not a parliamentary structure in the US -we could rid ourselves of the current President and VP. Instead, more misrepresentation for the next couple of years, to the detriment of our national interest and well-being.

very sad.

the President was up in Mn recently, shaking down fat-cats for a cool million to support a right-wing Republican named Kennedy to run for the Senate. Can't imagine what suckers would write checks for anyone based on anything this President says. talk about blind faith.

Posted by: Mill_of_Mn | December 11, 2005 12:15 AM

There really was no lack of information in the media questioning the Bush administration and its plan for war, the problem was most of that information was available from non-American news sources. If American's openned up their eyes to international media sources, rather then always focusing on their parocial press, they would have seen the questions. American's were very quick to jump on the "Blame France and Old Europe" bandwagon without ever understanding why there was a difference of opinion. Was war really on the only way to deal with Saddam?

Changing your reading habits now won't help with Iraq, but it will help understand just how deeply America's once proud image has been tarnished by the Iraq and torture issues. Iraq was an international paria before the war, but if a major change in American foreign policy is not forth coming soon, America will find itself the next paria.

Posted by: jm | December 11, 2005 12:16 AM

bonniescalhoun asks: "Does it really matter about who did what or who said what (Republican or Democrat) we're in this for the long haul. ... and both parties should work together to solve it rather than use it as a political stepping stone."

It matters whether the war was based on lies, because if so, the liars are still in charge. If Bush had sacked all the architects of this war and installed a new set of advisors, they'd be within their rights to make the it's-all-ancient-history argument. But as long as all the same people are still running things -- and quite possibly still lying -- it's not ancient history.

Posted by: Doug Muder | December 11, 2005 12:19 AM

If it weren't so damned discouraging, it would be an interesting lesson in geopolitics and current history to map the Bush administration's dance into a second term. It is difficult to see all the steps, the many, many elements put into the elaborate choreography, but it is unmistakable. To ask if the George W. Bush's deceit is intentional is really an acceptable misdirection. It fits in with the true intentions of this administration and the real powers behind it.
All who are concerned need to begin to understand that this is not a presidency of a man who gives orders and is obeyed in the common sense of "top down" management. There are behind the Bush II White House many powerful and driven players, most of whom are content to remain in the shadowy background of the main stage. These are people who despise the populist ideas of F. D. Rooseveldt and who have made it their lives' work to dismantle every possible vestige of those years. However devious, however damaging to the "average" American, these plans move forward to more empower those who possess power and money.
Is it not clear who supports the insanity of the current administration? Who benefits from the changes to tax and corporate law, from the addition of more conservative "justices" to the federal benches, from engagement in unwinable foreign wars? Talk about a "liberal" elite directs attention from a truly conservative (and dangerously growing) elite which 1% owns 90% of the nations's wealth. And is doing all it can to protect it.
This movement takes advantage of Americans who wear their religion on their sleeves. It has formed an unlikely and unholy alliance of through Christian "leaders" who themselves are merely other power-seekers - albeit ones who know how to profess their "faith" to pursuade followers to paths that contradict their own true self-interest. Otherwise, why would millions of poor and lower middle-class people vote for an administration that is dedicated to dismantling virtually all of the structures that made possible the growth of the middle class and rise of real standards of living in this country after World War II?
While "they" have reasonable people arguing the petty points of 'did "he" lie or simply mislead?' we miss the bigger picture that shows that the great democratic experiment of this country is being methodically and hastily torn down. At the moment, we still have the power of the vote, but the last national election showed clearly that posturing, misdirection, personal attacks, partisan redistricting, and false advertising can sway even the American electorate. There isn't a whole lot of time to make changes, and that time will be gone before the small and meaningless distinctions are resolved. Leave that to historians to figure out.
I think it interesting that several writers above thought of Rome, and that the views differed. Rome got in the business of growing its strength through conquest and forgot that it was ever a republic. The complexities of that course were Rome's downfall; it is not a path a modern enlightened nation should attempt to emulate. Look at our Congress, the lobbyists who seek to control it for their narrow interests and look at the history of the Roman empire in the years after Augustus. Those parallels should unsettle all but the most cynical among us.
The writing is again on the wall, my fellow citizens. I'd hate to be the one to have to tell Jefferson, Washington, Franklin, Adams, and Hamilton I was on the team that dropped the ball.
The neo-con game is not up, but it's pretty clear where it intends to take the nation (and, we must suppose, the world). It's not a good picture. Everone who cares must work tirelessly to expose the hypocrisy of these people. I'm proud of all you who are doing your best.
Jazzman

Posted by: Jazzman | December 11, 2005 12:24 AM

OD:

I did not take you to be criticizing Americans for failing to maintain their martial attitudes. I merely used your comment to go off on my own tangent.

Someone above said 'everyone thought Iraq had WMD in 2002,' before the inspectors were in. Nonsense. It was clear that the Bush admin had made up its mind for war and the propaganda frame followed from the war plan. For me, the final blow to the admin's case was Powell's laughable UN presentation. If they had had any real evidence, they would have shown it. Instead, we get cartoons, ambiguous aerial photos, and cryptic radio transmissions. I was not in the US at the time, but I hear that the US media portrayed Powell's comical case as persuasive, damning.

The news about the oil smuggling has been out for a while. It far overwhelms OFF fraud, from what I understand. As usual, once the OFF scandal had served its purpose, it was dropped as a topic of polite conversation, much like the gay marriage amendment to the Constitution.

Posted by: johnuw | December 11, 2005 01:38 AM

The sad thing is, the war in Iraq will end up killing more citizens and residents of the US than the Saudi-based terrorist attacks of 9-11. I think, perhaps, the Adminstration's intentions were good, they just did not know any better. How much precious resources of our Republic are being spent on a foreign land, never to be regained? How much of our freedoms have we given up, all in the name of "staying the course"?

For those who oppose this misadventure in Iraq, there is much speculation on the Adminstration's true intentions and interpretations of intelligence data, but the blame for this fiasco is equally shared by Democrats who feared being labeled "un-patriotic" if they did not vote to approve actions in Iraq. To this day, most Democrats can, at most, bluster about how the way was right, but simply not execute properly. The Democrats don't get it: the war was never right, whether the intelligence was good, or as bad as it turned out to be, the Republic does not have enough money or treasure to blindly spend in foreign lands, while it's citizens suffer without adequate healthcare. No intelligence in the world should have allowed the US to enter into Iraq, because if history has taught us anything, it is that nothing is as good or as bad as it ever first appears to be; once we realize that, we can decide on whether a concept is inherently good or bad. The concept of invading and molding a foreign country is a bad one--at the very most, the US should have bombed facilities from afar and kept all troops at home. Yes, that's what supporting the troops really is-keeping them out of harms way and making sure their VA benefits are well funded!

Posted by: citizen G | December 11, 2005 01:52 AM

RE: "Congratulations to Mr. Ford and those of his believer bretheren. "Helluva job" your President is doing - very Brownie like."

Mr. Ford seems not to have any bretheren remaining. Around here, he's a minority of one, or close to it.

In his mind, the debate is framed as Bush versus 'the left,' encompassing Europeans, Democrats, Air America, etc. Yet, Mr. Ford overlooks the fact that American Conservative magazine, Senator Hagel, John Murtha, and even William F-ing Buckley have speculated that perhaps this war was a mistake, to put it mildly. When the Pope is found on 'the left,' as defined by Mr. Ford, one must suspect conceptual confusion. Ample evidence is available, beyond that issue.

Posted by: johnuw | December 11, 2005 01:52 AM

Cayambe says: "Under the so-called Bush Doctrine more cases for war are already lined up and waiting. We very much need to re-examine our framework within which they will be considered, and most especially whether the Bush Doctrine actually enhances our long-term security interests or threatens them."

I'd say the best measure of the US' true isolation is this: all its NATO allies, including the British and Australian governments, are secretly relieved that America's military overstretch, its fatigue, equipment wear and yes even its casualties make its armed forces temporarily indisposed for further large deployments.

Posted by: OD | December 11, 2005 03:06 AM

Mill_of_Mn says: 'How is it that the current chickensh_t US leaders caused the American public to fear 3-d rate powers like Iraq, Iran and North Korea, when many of us lived strong in the face of the Soviet Union threat - which was at least a real menace to our interests?'

I don't know how they do it either. It's quite a trick, considering that Iraq's military budget in 2003 was 160 times smaller than America's.

The neocons themselves seem to realise that terrorists and third-rate powers are unconvincing bogeymen, poor long-term substitutes for the Soviet Union. Moreover, the Navy feels left out and they have huge clout in the Pentagon. Many 'defense' hawks seem desperate to get on with the Chinese Cold War and see Islamists as an annoying distraction. Rummy in particular appears to feel this way: thoroughly bored with Iraq, he spends all his time playing with next-generation death-star procurement stuff and is constantly trying to provoke China. His "concerns" about the pace of their arms spending are particularly funny when he's spending eight times as much per year (or 40 times as much in per capita terms).

But I think we all know one reason WHY the permanent US state is naturally inclined to go along with such deception. They've been overstating foreign threats and armaments for decades. The living institution itself thrives on domestic and global insecurity. Murray Rothbard said: "It is in war that the State really comes into its own: swelling in power, in number, in pride, in absolute dominion over the economy and society." Under Bush, the US state has grown faster than a lung tumour.

And millions of government employees and private sector workers have powerful economic reasons to fear an outbreak of world peace. These people have become dependent on permanent Cold War for jobs, money, power, prestige, not to mention that addictive buzz Americans get from being "The indispensable nation", as Madelaine Albright called it.

The US state will always find a deadly enemy threatening the life of the nation. They'll pick on Luxembourg or Nepal if they have to. To deny that reality is to envisage the following scenario: Pentagon threat assessors concluding: Ok, there's no threat, you can give us early retirement now.

"The powers in charge keep us in a perpetual state of fear: Keep us in a continuous stampede of patriotic fervor with the cry of grave national emergency. Always there has been some terrible evil to gobble us up if we did not blindly rally behind it by furnishing the exorbitant sums demanded. Yet, in retrospect, these disasters seem never to have happened, seem never to have been quite real."
General Douglas MacArthur, 1957

Posted by: OD | December 11, 2005 04:27 AM

"In the counsels of Government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the Military Industrial Complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals so that security and liberty may prosper together."
Dwight D. Eisenhower, Presidential farewell address, January 1961

Rummy's Pentagon war cabinet, March 2003:

Secretary of Defense
Donald H. Rumsfeld
Formerly: Made $11 million when his company became a subsidiary of defense contractor General Dynamics in 1999.

Deputy secretary of Defense
Paul Wolfowitz
Formerly: Consultant, Northrop Grumman

Secretary of the Army
Thomas E. White
Formerly: Vice chairman, Enron Energy Services, which had extensive Army contracts

Secretary of the Navy
Gordon R. England
Formerly: Executive vice president, General Dynamics

Secretary of the Air Force
James G. Roche
Formerly: President, Northrop Grumman electronic sensors and systems

Under secretary for Defense Policy
Douglas J. Feith
Formerly: Lawyer for Northrop Grumman.

Under secretary for Defense, Comptroller
Dov Zakheim
Formerly: Vice president, the System Planning Corporation, defence consultancy firm

Under secretary for Defense Personnel and Readiness
David S. C. Chu
Formerly: Vice president, the Rand Corporation, defence consultancy firm

Under secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics
Edward C. Aldridge Jr.
Formerly: Chief executive, the Aerospace Corporation, a military industry research firm

Under secretary of Defense
Michael W. Wynne
Formerly: Senior vice president, General Dynamics. Also worked at Martin Marietta, which makes nuclear weapon parts, and Lockheed Martin

Director, Operational test and evaluation, DoD
Thomas Christie
Formerly: Director, Institute for Defense Analysis, an industry consulting firm

Assistant secretary for installations, environment and logistics, Air Force Dept
Nelson F. Gibbs
Formerly: Controller, Northrop Grumman

Undersecretary of the Air Force
Peter B. Teets
Formerly: President, Lockheed Martin

...America should have listened to Eisenhower.

Posted by: OD | December 11, 2005 04:33 AM

Sorry to drag on, but I also have a question for "homeless" the Turk.
What are people there saying about the possibility of a breakaway Kurdish state?

Posted by: OD | December 11, 2005 04:40 AM

At the time the US was beating the drums of war, I found it hard to believe that Saddam could be developing anything, let alone nuclear weapons.

It seemed like everytime I read the paper we were shooting down one of his airplanes or bombing a suspected laboratory. This was not enough according to the administration because Iraq was a country the size of California with lots of places to hide chemical weapons and nuclear labs.

I was being assured by everyone, including our leaders, that Iraq was a grave threat to our country. I thought President Bush was a genius for taking advantage of the circumstances after 9/11 to find out once and for all what Saddam was up to. I thought he was bluffing Saddam by sending our troops to collect on Iraq's borders to let him know that we would come in to dismantle his weapons if he didn't allow UN inspectors to come in.

As the inspections progressed and no weapons were being found, I continued to be impressed by the thoroughness of the President's bluff. Even when Colin Powell went before the UN, I thought the administration was perfecting their bluff in order to get Saddam to be more cooperative in order to speed up the search. The Washington Post wrote an editorial entitled "Irrefutable" that said Powell's presentation proved that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction.

Although, Powell's presentation seemed more smoke and mirrors than proof to me at the time, I still thought we were on track to dismantle Saddam's arsenal without going to war. I thought it was the President's way of reassuring the business community. Wall Street was floundering and many analysts were saying that we needed to get the Iraq situation straightened out, one way or the other. This worried me a little, but I still thought we would remain poised for war, but without going in, until the inspections were complete. It seemed to me that Saddam was hamstrung, and backing down everytime he was confronted. At least presented no threat to us while the inspections were going on.

I became concerned in the days and weeks after Secretary Powell's presentation. The provocative words being spoken and the posturing became more intense.

It soon became a real concern to me when all the pundits, such as Charles Krauthammer, who had access to the President started saying that war was a foregone conclusion. I believed that we would snatch deafeat from the jaws of victory if we were too impatient to give the inspections a chance to find the weapons, or find that there were none.

Whether their motives were pure or not, it turns out that everyone (France, Russia, China, Mexico, Chile, brazil, Canada, etc.) except us, Great Britain, Australia, Spain, and Portugal were right that there was no reason to go to war when we did. Turns out that 50 million Frenchmen can't be wrong.

President Bush sure fooled me. My only solace is that, according to the polls, he fooled 70% of the American people and 100% of the newspapers.

If I could ask President Bush one question, it would be, "Knowing what you know now, if you had it to do over, would you have given the UN the time to complete their inspections regime?"

Although I now wish we had never gone into Iraq in the first place, I think we have done grievous harm to them. It us up to us to do whatever it takes, for as long as it takes, and for our children to do whatever it takes for as long as it takes to try to alleviate as much suffering as possible for those we've harmed.

Posted by: trace | December 11, 2005 05:45 AM

trace said: "Although I now wish we had never gone into Iraq in the first place, I think we have done grievous harm to them. It us up to us to do whatever it takes, for as long as it takes, and for our children to do whatever it takes for as long as it takes to try to alleviate as much suffering as possible for those we've harmed."
More succinct than I could have made it. What a comment to have to contemplate about a country that was recently looked to as a leader in freedom and democracy.

Posted by: Jazzman | December 11, 2005 07:30 AM

I don't know how much you are interested in Middle East. But, I will give some common thoughts on "a possible Kurdish state". This state can never give stability to anyone, even Kurds. Why?

1. I am not a nationalist; however, this must be said that Kurds haven't had any state in history. They don't have any culture in order to establish a state (I mean a political culture, for example Iran has a serious political culture). How would they rule a state in a chaos? US are a powerful state economically and in army. However, we show US's succeed in Middle East!! I am being sarcastic in this statement. In such a chaos, it is very hard to rule this country. If you think the inexperience of Kurds, it is not so difficult to say it is impossible. As Talabani (leader of Kurds) said, an independent Kurdish state is a dream now. It is unfeasible!

An independent Kurdish state may be established just for a deeper chaos. As the people said in this debate, if the purpose of this war is the US existence in Middle East, then a Kurdish state will serve for that purpose.

2. A Kurdish state is unacceptable for the neighboring states. Because, as you know we have a terrorist group in Turkey called PKK. They claim that they serve for the Kurdish people killing people in that region. Who lives in that region? It is such a stupidity to call, killing ethnically your own people, serving for them. Besides, the people in that region are generally religious. However, PKK calls itself a communist party! You see how PKK will be dangerous for the Kurds there. They can even kill those Kurds in case they will not get any help from the "new possible state".

Also, Iran and Syria never want a state like that. They would have some problems with their Kurds in that case.

3. "New possible state" would not have any ports in the sea. How they will establish their economy if these neighboring countries don't recognize it? Will they eat oil? But, I guess this is the concealed strategy of US. They want a weak state, which owes US too much, on the oil.

Knowing above, a Kurdish state is a nightmare for everyone in this area.

Posted by: homeless | December 11, 2005 09:27 AM

OD,
The previous post was for you.

Posted by: homeless | December 11, 2005 09:29 AM

Here is what needs to be considered now that our troops are up to their necks and stuck in the Iraqi war.

Our troops just could be training, equipping, and arming an Iraqi army that will out number our military and just may turn those arms and supplies against our military.

Everyone seems to have forgotten Saddam Hussain's 200,000 very loyal Republican Guard that stipped off their uniforms, went mufti and easily blended in with, and look just like any other, Iraqi citizen.

By the way those 200,000 Republican Guardsmen didn't just melt into the sand.

They still exist, and not one Iraqi citizen has ratted on them or pointed a single one of them out to U S authorities.

So folks I think we will see one of three things happen.

A. We will see open war between U S soldiers and the new Iraqi army.

B. The Iraqi army will be a farce and our military is going to be stuck there for 50+ years and longer just like our U S troops in Korea.

C. The new Iraqi government that doesn't even want us there right now, will have their new army either escort out, or kick out by force an entrapped out numbered U S military establishment.

Think about it. For any army expected to defend a country from foreign invasion it must have not just rifles and bullets, it must have transport trucks, artillary, tanks, and perhaps even an airforce and at least a small navy, for surely Iran, Syria, and Lebanon are going to take a dim view of an independent democracy in their midst. So the Iraqi's must have all the aformentioned military arms, equipment and supplies if the U S is expected to withdraw and Iraq to be totally and self substanablly independent. And any weapons that can be used by anyone for defence can be used as an offense...which could be used by Iraqi's on our people at anytime prior to, or during egress from Iraq which would initiate re-invasion with an even bigger U S Military force, more death, more expense, and a permanent U S establishment in Iraq.

Since the make war screw up bush has already made the first big mistake, and since bush obviously wants to rule the whole damned middle east and rattles his sabre(s), even proposing the development of nuclear bunker buster bombs to prove it, if I were the U S president I would consider the arbitrary making of Iraq the 51st state and then dare anyone else to invade and smirkingly say "bring em on" again. Then bush would surely have the world war he wants. bush "select" has done everything else arbitrarily so why not.

I say if you just have to make war mr. bush you should at least know how to prosecute one which you and your cronies do not know how to do.

We who have served in combat have a word for the way inexperienced fumblers like you and your cronies make war...FUBAR...and this Iraqi war is one major FUBAR that can only be made worse!!

bush's own daddy said in his book that that if Iraq was invaded "there is no viable way to exit."

Any arguments or comments?

Posted by: Tom | December 11, 2005 11:54 AM

Whether or not bush lied, withheld, or deceived is not longer even moot.

bush da man with the stack of pre-signed fill in the blank pardons, can and will pass the responsibliity buck all the way back to Harry Truman.

Even Senator Joe Biden and other wise congressional insiders are saying "we" are stuck with bush for the next three years.

What "we" must do is A. Ensure that each local voter place has an honest vote count, then B. Kick out every republican and a bunch of democratic traitors out of the congress next year, and C. Elect a real non-elitist president in 2008 and make him or her responsible to the U S citzenry first, and accountable to U S citizens only.

By the way, if A. isn't done...you people can forget the rest of it in politics.

Posted by: Tom | December 11, 2005 12:23 PM

Gosh OD, again you lay out an impressive list of individuals who, from their above stated backgrounds, seem very qualified to serve in our defense department.

Additionally, aside from the cronyism and apparently rigged bidding for defense contracts, what is so wrong with making a buck off _selling_ things or providing _services_ to the US government. I worked for the Federal Govt. for years. We certainly paid contractors for products and services, which the govt. could not efficiently supply.

America's business is business. Until alternatives for lubricating our economy are mandated and developed, we _must_ continue to keep the oil flowing. If this would require the US to play the puppeteer, then so be it.

Posted by: johnnyg in NE DC | December 11, 2005 01:06 PM

Thanks, homeless, I'm always interested in everything concerning Turkey, as I lived in Istanbul for a few years when I was a kid, so I've always felt a tiny bit Turkish myself. I still visit when I can.

I drove out east to Nemrut Dag in summer 2003, and many ordinary people I talked to in Malatya and Adiyaman actually worried about a US invasion of Turkey!

I agree that a Kurdish state would be a big mistake for the Kurds themselves. Perhaps even more dangerous than the attitude of Turkey, Iran and Syria would be the hostility from rump Iraq itself.

What I wonder about Turkey, though, is would their reaction be limited to economic strangulation, or would they go further? Frankly, I'm not sure the Turkish Army could resist the temptation to cross the border, at least covertly. In fact they already have.

As you know, there's still plenty of room for this mess to get a whole lot bigger.

Posted by: OD | December 11, 2005 02:58 PM

johnnyg, 'what's wrong with it apart from the cronyism and corruption?' You set the bar pretty low.

These people are qualified to run the Pentagon in the same way that foxes are qualified to supervise a henhouse.

You seem pretty comfortable with the current level of corruption and conflict of interest in Washington, but instead of persuading me it's all ok, try it on your fellow citizens. I think you'll find it a hard sell.

But anyway, there is something else wrong with the Pentagon being run by executives from Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics, and Lockheed Martin. These people are guiding policy, and conflict is literally in their interest.

For example, the current Army/Marine helicopter fleets have seen their projected life expectancies halved since the Iraq War began. Who benefits?

But, in fact, I don't believe they operate on such a crass level. I accept that these men consider themselves true patriots. Many could get richer working elsewhere. But long years spent at the top of any business leads the captains of those industries to subconsciously associate the good of the industry with the good of the country.

My point is that these people will always favour a world where the US faces off militarily against ostensibly deadly foreign threats. If they can't find a real one, they'll make one up.

That has just actually happened. Telling me everything is OK at the Pentagon isn't going to fly. We've seen a string of appallingly bad decisions that have benefitted nobody except - surprise, surprise - the arms industry.

One group that has suffered particularly is the Army itself. You delude yourself if you think their interests are always aligned with those of the 'defense' industry.

Today's Pentagon has it backwards. It's serving the wrong client.
"I worked for the Federal Govt. for years."

So did Eisenhower, and he seems to disagree rather strongly with you, as my quote above showed. I'm with him.

"America's business is business."

The business of arms is not like other businesses. There is no economic multiplier effect like with consumer goods. Every asset bought depreciates to near zero value instantly. It's a black hole for money.

I don't see how American conservatives can deny this when they themselves continually boast of having broken the Soviet economy by forcing it to overspend on arms.

In fact true conservatives, in my opinion, know it. To quote Eisenhower again:

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."

The opportunity cost of a militaristic policy is incalculable. How many people around the world are boycotting US goods? Nobody knows.

And what happens when this blind policy drives powerful countries to unite against America? When we lurch back into a Cold War? Have you factored the potential effect of a 2000-ICBM shower into your economic forecasts?

Posted by: OD | December 11, 2005 03:33 PM

OD,
It is so interesting. You can be regarded as a Turk. :))

I don't want to think there would be an independent Kurdish state. Not due to nationalism, but due to this stupidity and the harm would be given after the establishment of this state. So, i am afraid, I am not replying your question. Because, I am afraid of WW3. This is not only the war of Muslims/Arabs/middle eastern people, but also this war is China's and Russian's war. Because, obviously US thinks to have the oil that China needs. As you know, China is a fast developing country nearly with a rate of 10%. They need the oil in a low prize. Because, their economy depends on a low prize production. This war and US's existence in Middle East are obstacles for both Russia and China.

I beat my fear and I am saying "my thought". Turkey would invade north Iraq, in that case. Even now, Turkey says that US doesn't treat willingly when the PKK issue comes up. Such an invasion opens Pandora's Box. Actually, it has already been opened.

Posted by: homeless | December 11, 2005 04:47 PM

No OD, I am not comfortable with any corruption and cronyism. That was an exception I stated. If illegal behavior exists on the part of those profiting, I would hope those involved are punished.

I find your statement incredible. Why would these standards be considered setting a bar low? I also find incredible your statement that defense-related contractors are seeking to conduct war at any convenient opportunity. I am not saying that they are not happy when it occurs because, to put it simply, that is what they do.

As to blackhawks, I guess they are seeing a good amount of use now, compared with their use in a non-wartime environment. I am not sure what the life expectancy actuation you stated involves, so I can't answer this.

Ike's speech, which was reprinted in part in the Post today, sounded pretty good then and it still does now. But in the context of our current situation, which involves numerous factors of equal or perhaps greater complexity, and involving different priorities, it is not appropriate.

"Overspending" on arms may be your opinion, but it certainly did help break the Soviets. Now, and as I stated previously, the problem here is mainly world access to oil, and added to that, absolutely real problems related to terrorism. If you remember, the US was attacked, an act of war.

Living in DC all my life, I have always feared annihilation by nuclear bombs. I worked a few blocks from the White House on 9/11. Evacuation of that area was a surreal experience. I guess the inevitable outcome of many radical ME countries having nukes is okay with you. I would prefer that the US prevent it for as long as possible, at least until reasonable powers are in control of these regions. I agree mistakes certainly have been made, but this happens in every war.

I would like to hear how you believe we should prosecute this (instead of crying we need to pull out as most do here). That is, how this war should be conducted, and if no war, how we should deal with these problems in a longer time frame.

I find that most posting here are hypocrites when it comes to importing oil and our approaches to keeping supplies stable. I would venture to say that 99.9% of you use a great deal of oil and are first to complain when oil prices soar upwards.

Posted by: johnnyg in NE DC | December 11, 2005 05:07 PM

Pandora's Box indeed. I agree, this goes way beyond the MidEast. Terrorism is going to be the least of our worries in the days to come.

The developing alliance between China and Russia, and their growing hostility towards the US, seems to have passed unnoticed by most Americans.

What do they expect when they are busy surrounding both countries with menacing bases? When their government is run by men who want to build a world empire?

The world's future looked pretty bright ten years ago. But Rumsfeld and Cheney are setting us back on course for Armageddon.
Those of us who can see the disaster coming have a duty to do something about it.

In the meantime, here's hoping that Turkey, at least, can get through the next couple of years ok. I will never forgive America if they harm Turkey.

Posted by: OD | December 11, 2005 05:19 PM

johnnyg, regarding my info about choppers, it comes from the Govt Accounting Office and from statements made by the just-retired head of Army Materiels Command, Gen Paul Kern, which I read in a very enlightening Army War College report just published. I mentioned choppers because we were talking about aerospace companies, but in fact the wear and tear on ground vehicles in Iraq is far worse.

I would be happy to give my two cents on what I think America should do in Iraq and why. But I've already taken up a lot of space and it's not really on topic.

In any case, it's difficult when your war aims are so nebulous that you yourself seem unsure what you hope to achieve. You mention terrorism, Mideast WMD and oil. Which is it?

The Iraq war has been a disaster in terms of keeping oil supplies stable. Iraqi production hasn't improved, world prices have gone up.

It's a Washington myth that hostile MidEast govts would refuse to sell oil. Iran sold oil to the US during the embassy hostage crisis. Gaddafi sold oil to the US while his navy skirmished with theirs in the Gulf of Sidra. Even Saddam sold oil to the US as they built up the Desert Storm force across the border to attack him. And he did it again, illegally, in 2002-3. There is no need to invade countries to secure America's oil supply. The real purpose was to make China's oil supply INSECURE.

In terms of WMD, this policy has bombed even worse. Iraq had none, as the US govt knew. The war has sent the clear signal to Iran, N.Korea and everyone else that unarmed countries get preyed on by the US, while those with nukes stay safe. It has also laid bare to the whole world the ineffectiveness of America's military power as a tool of diplomacy. If any Iranians did fear invasion, you can be sure they know better now.

There are no cases of a muscular US presence deterring WMD development. Quite the opposite, it encourages it. North Korea flagrantly boasted of building nukes while about 40,000 US troops sat on their frontier. Iran has 155,000 troops next door and is also undeterred.

Finally terrorism. Frankly, I am very tired of this intellectually dishonest formulation: "we were attacked". Why always the passive voice? To gloss over the fact that you avenged yourselves on innocent people. Do I need to waste words describing the disastrous failure of this policy in reducing terrorism? You see it as clearly as I do.

So oil prices are up, terrorism is up, WMD is up. Not much of a policy.

Do you really want my opinion on military options in Iraq? I did write something on this the other day, after reading the War College report, but it's quite long. I fear I'm already talking too much. And I know you won't like what I have to say on the matter.

Posted by: OD | December 11, 2005 06:05 PM

Yeah, I suspect you have no answers. From your comments, I also suspect you are not a US citizen.

However, you are right, because the US policy, however flawed, is forward thinking, we want to make sure that we retain steady oil supply regardless of China's and India's emerging and growing demands. Were are currently at war, so your opinions about what is happenning now are premature.

And for choosing between oil WMD and terrorists, I never made such a statement. As I stated, the problems are very complex and obviously involve all three.

The desire of Iran and North Korea WMD existed before this war. Additionally, Iraq pursued nuclear ambitions years before this, and the previous Gulf war.

You don't like passive voice? Okay, how about, "Terrorists attacked the US. This was an act of war."

Please report back with your findings of fact, analysis, and above all, your solutions.

Posted by: | December 11, 2005 06:34 PM

"Yeah, I suspect you have no answers. From your comments, I also suspect you are not a US citizen."

No, I'm not, but my country is in Iraq too. My taxes are helping pay for this war. And I did my time in NATO. So I have my place in this debate. In fact, anyone does, wherever they come from.

"And for choosing between oil WMD and terrorists, I never made such a statement. As I stated, the problems are very complex and obviously involve all three."

Fair enough.

"The desire of Iran and North Korea WMD existed before this war."

Yes, but your point was that the war is the best plan going for stopping them. It hasn't worked.

"You don't like passive voice? Okay, how about, 'Terrorists attacked the US. This was an act of war.'"

I see no improvement. There is still no logical bridge that leads from 911 to Iraq. It still sounds like a semantic trick. There is no way around the fact that your attackers and your victims are completely different people. If I were criticising the invasion of Afghanistan, this would be a sound argument. But I'm not.

"Please report back with your findings of fact, analysis, and above all, your solutions."

I think I'll leave my 'stay or go' analysis till the Debate addresses that question.

Posted by: OD | December 11, 2005 06:50 PM

johnnyg in NE DC :-
'The problem here is mainly world access to oil, and added to that, absolutely real problems related to terrorism. If you remember, the US was attacked, an act of war.'

911 killed 2900 people. How many have died in this prolonged revenge? Even the SS stopped their civilian reprisals at a ratio of ten to one.

How many Americans have been murdered by their own countrymen since 911? About 80,000.

Why are you turning the world upside down and shaking it? Turn your own country upside down. Torture each other. Quit kidnapping our citizens. Quit building secret prisons in our countries. Quit attacking countries that haven't attacked you.

And what about oil? Listen to yourself. We were attacked, you say, so we went to war (against the wrong country)...and while we're at it we're going to seize control of their oil industry.

It never seems to occur to you that what you call "our approaches to keeping supplies stable" is simply pillage, armed robbery.

Let me put it this way: I find computers rather overpriced at the moment, largely because there is instability in the supply of semiconductor components. Does that give me the right to bomb San Bernadino and occupy Silicon Valley?

No? Because these supposedly justifiable measures you talk about are actually only justifiable when carried out by Americans. One rule for the US, another for everyone else.

Let's get something straight. The oil is in their countries. It belongs to them. If they ever did refuse to sell it -- which they never have -- you have no more right to attack them than I would to attack America if Kansas refused to export corn.

American capitalists are supposed to understand the concept of property. But not, it seems, when that property belongs to poorly-armed foreigners.

Posted by: Brian | December 11, 2005 10:11 PM

---US policy, however flawed, is forward thinking, we want to make sure that we retain steady oil supply regardless of China's and India's emerging and growing demands.---

So you accept that the Administration lied to us, at least about its reasons for war. cause it sure as hell never mentioned that one in public.

And you also accept that the war was illegal. Or are you going to argue that oil wars are permitted under international law?

Posted by: B. Kaufmann | December 11, 2005 11:54 PM

No, the war was justifiable based on the intelligence at the time, and the Iraq regime's flaunting of UN resolutions. However, I accept do that the goals of the men behind the curtain are to project American influence proactively in this and other areas of immense strategic interest to this country.

Obviously, things did not turn out like they had expected. Also, I don't believe the US ever had any intention of "looting" Iraq of its oil, and that the mess presently going on there was not seriously considered by "president's men." Iraq was a soft target, relatively, and one that they successfully sold to the public, myself included with regard to goals of the PNAC.

The basis for the problems in this war was manpower and money. These problems remain.

Also, I never stated that 911 was a justifiable cause for war with Iraq. I clearly stated this in a previous blog here. We are, however, presently fighting an incredible number of terrorists in Iraq. I doubt this effect was appreciated, but it is a reality.

I see it as a multi-faceted entity that cannot be explained with simple answers. I am asking for solutions because in hindsight I certainly do not know what approach the US should have taken, and what it should do now. I do not, however, retreat from my belief that the underlying reasons why we are there are oil-related, and that it is vital to US interests to keep it flowing for many years to come.

Posted by: johnnyg in NE DC | December 12, 2005 01:32 AM

"the war was justifiable based on the intelligence at the time, and the Iraq regime's flaunting of UN resolutions."

The war was certainly not justifiable by the intellegance at the time. Even if Iraq was armed with to the teeth with Chemical weapons (that several countries thought he had). The reason it wasn't justifiable is that those weapons posed absolutely no threat to the US (territory or citizens).

For those who understand Chemical weapons, the claims being made about the threat they pose was completely over-rated. It was also pretty clear that the biological programs, if they existed, were no more a threat then the chemical ones. And it was also pretty certain, based on the inspections, that Iraq had not done any new work in the Nuclear field since 1991.

Even without the caveats on the evidence being made public, it was very clear that most of the evidence was coming from unreliable sources (ex-pats, prisoners, etc). Ex-pats are considered unreliable simply because they are likely supplying "intellegence" to advance their own political agenda.

As for the supposed "flaunting of UN resolutions", the UN imposed the sanctions and resolutions, only it had the authority to determine the consequences based on those resoultions. American's were complaining that France and other Security council members did not support the idea of war (typically adding many supposed motives for this stance), but America chose to attack anyway. From my perspective, that makes Bush far, far more guilty then Saddam.

Posted by: jm | December 12, 2005 10:57 AM

jm, I did state, "intellegence at the time." I did not mention whether it was correct intellegence. Obviously, there were major flaws with it.

But go ahead and beat on me some more. I am the US whipping boy, at your service, sir!

Posted by: johnnyg in NE DC | December 12, 2005 01:24 PM

Once again, it wasn't the intelligence that was bad, it was the conclusions drawn from it. Read the senate intel report, the mantra is "(war claim)...overstated or was not supported by the underlying intelligence". Its time to stop this "the intelligence was bad" crapola.

But while we're on truth telling, no one has mention the Luntz memo. Luntz wrote a memo spelling out how to sell the war. Interestingly every pdf file I could find in a google search has disappeared. I printed a copy a while ago but that pdf is now gone too. But you can put together bits and pieces from a google search. It begins with these instructions:
"9/11 changed everything" is the context by which everything follows. No speech about homeland security or Iraq should being without a reference to 9/11. "

Posted by: patriot1957 | December 12, 2005 03:01 PM

We had a "War on Drugs" and a "War on Terror", now the Republicans want a "War on Christmas". What's so bad about Christmas?

Posted by: Turnabout | December 12, 2005 03:12 PM

I remember when Bush was beginning his lies to justify invading Iraq, he said it was because they were accumulating illegal military parts and yellow cake to create a nuclear bomb. As soon as he made that announcement, Korea announced that they were doing the same thing. Bush ignored it, completely focused on Iraq. From that point on the lie was obvious. If it was about nuclear buildup he would have had some interest in Korea, but he ignored them completely. He is not even a good liar, but you don't have to be in the US, just wave a flag and the people believe.

Posted by: G | December 13, 2005 01:33 PM

Um, I believe it's the Democrats who want a "War on Christmas."
I just saw on Tucker Carlson the other night (let the jokes begin) how a middle school in Somehwere, USA had banned songs like "Silent Night" and "Joy to the World" while allowing all the Jewish songs to remain. Now how does that make sense?
We sure as hell don't want to offend any of you all's delicate sensibilities.

Posted by: Alex Ham - America's Hero | December 13, 2005 04:19 PM

Why do we give this administration the benefit of the doubt. Call a spade a spade and quit beating around the bush. They wanted a war so they gleaned what information they could use, disregarded the rest, and sold it to the American people. Iraq is the first step in attempting to democratize the world in Bush's vision. It was a good starting point:
-Saddam was defiant and noncompliant.
-Saddam curs'd hi' daddy.
-They felt sure they could "win."
-AND, there is oil. Bush, Cheney, and the rest of the ideologues feel as though, he who has oil, has power. Iraq has lots of it. They want it. Money, money, money; and what they believe is security if we get it.

JW

Posted by: JW | December 13, 2005 07:52 PM

Why do we give this administration the benefit of the doubt. Call a spade a spade and quit beating around the bush. They wanted a war so they gleaned what information they could use, disregarded the rest, and sold it to the American people. Iraq is the first step in attempting to democratize the world in Bush's vision. It was a good starting point:
-Saddam was defiant and noncompliant.
-Saddam curs'd hi' daddy.
-They felt sure they could "win."
-AND, there is oil. Bush, Cheney, and the rest of the ideologues feel as though, he who has oil, has power. Iraq has lots of it. They want it. Money, money, money; and what they believe is security if we get it.

JW

Posted by: JW | December 13, 2005 07:53 PM

Over 4 years after 9/11, the Democrats still have not developed a serious policy for fighting terrorism. For that matter, they haven't developed a coherent policy on fighting terrorism.

This failing should make them ashamed to criticize whatever mistakes President Bush has made in his prosecution of the war against radical Islamic terrorists, and in his efforts to create free societies across the Middle East.

The President has indeed made mistakes, and he is not beyond criticism, but criticism, to be credible, will have to come from another quarter than the Democratic Party. Once the Democrats discover a strategy to defend America, they will have the right to find fault with the strategy of President Bush.

Posted by: Gideon | December 16, 2005 10:49 PM

Feingold said it was "absurd" that Bush said he relied on his inherent power as president to authorize the wiretaps.

"If that's true, he doesn't need the Patriot Act because he can just make it up as he goes along. I tell you, he's President George Bush, not King George Bush. This is not the system of government we have and that we fought for," Feingold told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

Posted by: Concerned American | December 17, 2005 01:53 PM

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