(Sigh)

Skepticism is no doubt a quality the Bush administration has unintentionally (and legitimately) provoked in many a journalist angry at being suckered by false pre-Iraq war intelligence (though why Ahmad Chalabi should somehow still be regarded by the New York Times as avatar of its own journalistic shortcomings is beyond me).

However, the selfsame skepticism has also served to cast doubt where very little doubt is merited. Recently, for example, Seymour Hersh had this to say on Syria at a conference organized by Washington's Middle East Institute:

I'm exceedingly skeptical, and I have been all along, of the point of view of what happened to Hariri. The American point of view is that it was Syria with the aid of some people in Lebanon. Despite all the back and forth about how the American press corps was totally manipulated, to its embarrassment, about WMD, I would still argue, we're still being totally manipulated by this administration about Syria and Lebanese involvement.

This was disingenuous at best, and at worse showed how Hersh frequently does himself in by confusing healthy doubt and obdurate dislike. In fact, it's not just the American view that Syria was involved in Hariri's death; the argument was first given credibility by Detlev Mehlis, the United Nations investigator, who, it's fair to say, does not speak for the Bush administration, has evidence, and knows more about the matter than Hersh. It's also the view of everyone to whom I've spoken here in Beirut -- politicians, diplomats, security officials, and more -- most of whom also have a better idea of Hariri's murder than Hersh. Admittedly, though, I may be as credulous when it comes to my sources as Hersh has sometimes been with his in recent years.

The fact is, as Hersh indirectly proves by offering zilch in the way of proof for his doubts, no serious alternative theory explaining the crime has ever been floated, whether by Syria, its peons in Lebanon, or anybody who has followed the investigation.

Hersh has apparently caught a rampaging malady among those reflecting on American behavior in the Middle East; it is now fair game, it seems, to interpret any regional news story through the parochial prism of a "wag the dog" scenario, so that the Katrina and Harriet Miers debacles, or George W. Bush's wilting ratings, have become perfectly good explanations for U.S. policy toward Syria, Iran, Iraq, or anything you might want to shoehorn into a preposterous narrative. (The fact is that U.S. policy toward Syria was shaped months before Bush won the 2004 election, at a time when he was doing very well, and this was encouraged by, of all people, French President Jacques Chirac.)

In recent years, Hersh has been peddling the argument that Syria was a useful ally of the United States in the war on terrorism, before Bush and the goddamn neocons screwed it up. He wrote about this in The New Yorker in July 2003, and even quoted a "Syrian foreign ministry official" (whom I would guess was Buthaina Shaaban, now Syria's minister of emigrant affairs) as saying: "It saddens us as much as it saddens you. We could give you information on organizations that we don't think should exist. If we help you on Al Qaeda, we are helping ourselves."

Maybe Sy should sadly reread that line the next time he travels through Damascus airport, from where Islamists, many from Saudi Arabia, have been steadily making their way to Iraq to collaborate in the great adventure of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

(Thanks to Chuck Freund for the VOA link)

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  • R C Dean||

    I am getting good and sick of the meme that the American and international intelligence community's majority view on Iraq WMD capabilities was somehow "false pre-Iraq War intelligence," or that relatively straightforward statements of the majority view amount to the "manipulation" of the media.

    Some parts of the majority were inaccurate, no doubt at all, which should generate hard questions being directed at the intelligence community (which questions do not seem forthcoming, as it is more convenient for political/partisan reasons to blame the administration officials who served as a conduit for the majority view).

    Did the administration go into agonizing detail about the minority view that Saddam had no WMD at this moment, and that his program was so deeply mothballed it would take years to revive? No. Should they have? Hindsight, 20/20, blah blah, but at the time you have to make decisions, you back-burner the losing faction's opinions and go with what you believe. Why spend a lot of valuable time and energy broadcasting an intelligence assessment you disagree with?

    "How and why did everyone get it so wrong" should be the question of the day. Glossing over this issue and going straight to the assumption that Bush et al lied to us may feel good, but it leaves us wide open to another colossal intelligence failure in the future, one that may have effects of an even greater magnitude than this one.

  • ||

    Normally, I am closer to Hersh than Michael Young on issues like this, but this is true -- the probability of Syrian involvement is strong and obvious, credible alternative theories are lacking, or lacking in evidence.

  • M1EK||

    RC Dean, you're a loathsome sack of crap. Downplaying the "mushroom cloud" talk in such a way is really, really, really, repellent.

  • ||

    M1EK, you need to tone down the insults a little if you want to step into joe's shoes. "Loathsome sack of crap" should not be the first thing you say in a thread.

  • M1EK||

    thoreau,

    I don't want to step into joe's shoes if it means not being able to call a loathsome sack of crap a loathsome sack of crap. RC Dean gets away with too much talking-point nonsense around here, and some readers undoubtedly fall for it.

  • ||

    M1EK - you mean this (from Bush's speech in Cincinnati)?

    Knowing these realities, America must not ignore the threat gathering against us. Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof -- the smoking gun -- that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.

    Scandalous.

  • ||

    Doctor:

    Remember, this is about the same poster who claimed to never insult first, rather only when insulted. We are not dealing with much credibility.

  • ||

    Considering some of the intelligence documents were known to be forgeries at the time the administration used them to justify the war, I'm not sure what term besides "lie" applies.

  • ||

    Talking points:

    We cannot wait for the knowledge. We must ACT NOW. DO SOMETHING. Are you willing to wait and take that chance?

    -- Paraphrase from Global Warming Thread.

    -- Resolution: It takes a talking points blowhard to recognize another.

  • ||

    I should point out my previous comment should not be read to mean I agree with Hersh on the assassination of Hariri. There is plenty of reliable evidence that Syrian officials were involved, and using past Bush administration behavior to claim otherwise is absurd.

  • ||

    Do we elect the CIA? Does the NSA make policy?

    Regardless of one's opinion on Iraq involvement, it's an easy and cheap way to make an argument to transfer excess responsibility from Bush to the US intelligence apparatus:

    for example:

    1) Con: Hans Blix interpreted the intelligence differently!! El Baradei was unconvinced!! Richard Clarke looked at the intelligence and said Iraq was no threat!!....Therefore, Bush must have lied!!!

    2) Pro: KerryFrenchGermansHillaryRussians all agreed that Iraq had WMD!! Bush is nearly absolved!!

    Personally, I'm only marginally excited by the prewar intelligence blame game.

    From my relatively uninformed view, unless the Sunnis decide to get on board and sweep Zarqawi aside, (because you know certain sunnis are fucking harboring the guy) the insurgency continues until public opinion in the US runs out of gas.

  • ||

    I'd agree that Hersh is using poor logic, and more than that, is probably wrong on Hairiri. He's reflecting a popular sentiment that everything the Bush admin does in foreign policy now is suspect.

    Then again, this is also evidence of the iron clad law of unintended consequences: the Bush admin clearly thought that "massaging" the facts to reach the result they wanted (popular support for the invasion) was worth it. The problem is, people really do care about credibility. Public relations experts talk about it all the time. They advise their clients to do everything they can to maintain a squeaky clean image with regard to what they say, because they know that once you lose credibility in the market, it all goes to pot quickly.

    Credibility is a shorthand method for evaluating assertions. Most people don't have time to research every subject or topic that is relevant to politics, so they rely on what people they trust say. The Bush admin is reaping what it sowed with respect to the unjustified opposition it receives on certain subjects now.

  • ||

    I agree with the general article, but I have to confess; while I assumed that the Syrians were responsible for the Hariri assassination, when I heard the same claim coming from the Bush administration I had a momentary twinge of doubt.

    Right now, if I was outside on a sunny day and I heard Bush say the weather was fine, my first instinct would be to reach for an umbrella. Irrational as that may be.

    RC Dean - the one question I want answered is this; if the evidence for taking out Saddam was so compelling, why did Rumsfeld bother to instate the Office of Strategic Plans to "find" more evidence that would reinforce the administration's views?

  • ||

    M1EK, you need to tone down the insults a little if you want to step into joe's shoes. "Loathsome sack of crap" should not be the first thing you say in a thread.

    Yeah. joe would wait at least five posts before saying something like that.

  • ||

    Here's the main problem, from a Stars and Stripes article on clearing Husaybah of Syrian-backed influence:

    "The Marines, along with a local Iraqi Army battalion, plan to set up a permanent presence in the city to prevent insurgents from returning.

    �This is not a problem you solve; this is an issue you manage,� said Col. Stephen Davis, commander of Regimental Combat Team 2, which is overseeing the sweep."

    God bless the Marines, but "managing issues" is one of their core competencies.

  • ||

    'Scuse me...is NOT one of their core competencies.

  • ||

    The only way to determine if Saddam had WMD was to get inspectors on the ground with unhindered access to every facility in Iraq. This unhindered access was not granted so in my opinion the only way to make sure Hussein did not have WMD and would not attempt to acquire or manufacture WMD in the future was to invade Iraq.

    The CIA missed the Indian nuclear program, missed the Pakistan's proliferation of nuclear weapons technology, missed the economic collapse of the Soviet Union and consistently overestimated the Soviet Unions technological capabilities. Without having people on the ground to do a physical inspection I would have little faith in any intelligence agencies capabilities to detect a covert WMD program.

  • ||

    The thing that angered me about the WMD rhetoric before the war was that while the administration swore it had tons of "compelling" evidence, they never quite got around to showing us any. Well, besides that smudgy picture Powell had of two pickup trucks out on blocks in someone's front yard.

    Now, I don't expect the government to disclose all its little secrets (this isn't a democracy, y'know) before throwing us into a war, but if they had the evidence, and they believed in it, and if they were fixated on invading anyway, then letting us see some of it wouldn't have jeapordized anything.

    I'm tired of being treated like a mushroom and I don't feel sorry for this administration one bit. Sure, Saddam was a bastard, but if we've decided to save the world, we have almost all of Africa and lots of South America left to invade. Oh, and France, because we KNOW they have nuclear weapons and they don't like us.

  • ||

    What led me to believe that there was a certain amount of fiction about the WMD issue in Iraq was that from a military point of view, it is insanity to attack a WMD-armed country without knowledge of where the weapons are located and a plan to disable or capture them.

    On the other hand, one of the dangerous things about the Hersh perspective is the inclination towards conspiracy theories (even when they totally lack plausibility - such as a conspiracy between the Bush neocons and a German prosecutor working for the UN) rather than acknowledging that most nations in the Middle East were disasters long before the U.S. went in and mucked it up further.

  • M1EK||

    "The only way to determine if Saddam had WMD was to get inspectors on the ground with unhindered access to every facility in Iraq. This unhindered access was not granted"

    A lie. Hans Blix said he got everywhere he needed to get. Got any more Corner talking points for us?

  • ||

    What led me to believe that there was a certain amount of fiction about the WMD issue in Iraq was that from a military point of view, it is insanity to attack a WMD-armed country without knowledge of where the weapons are located and a plan to disable or capture them.

    That's a good point. However, do we know that there was no plan? I thought that they were preparing troops with NBC suits and whatnot.

  • M1EK||

    I apologize for opening with an insult. I should have just declared the truth - which is that RC Dean is a liar, pure and simple. Then, had he continued, I could have pulled out the crapsack. I'm short today.

  • ||

    M1EK:

    In your world, is anyone ever just wrong? Because if so, you never seem to respond to those comments.

  • Jay Cline||

    Ultimately, skepticism is the responsibility of the individual.

    For those of us who knew the global dangers inherent in the Middle East before 9/11, for those of us who heard the clarion call of the 2002 Axis of Evil Speech, long before WMD became the reason for action, for those of us who knew the Iraqi WMD issue as being fundamentally relevant, but only in the context to the larger dangers of the Middle East; for us, when we heard the arguments of Iraqi WMD, we knew it for what is was: a sales pitch, and ultimately, a successful sales pitch.

    That is what democratic leaders do, they persuade. Even dumb up an issue, if necessary.

    Iraq had to be dealt with. That was evident after 12 years of defiant resistance to world pressure. After 12 years the world, from Saddam's point of view, was irrelevant.

    WMD has not been found. But it is an easy argument, given Saddam's past activities and predilections, that he got rid of the material until only for as long as it took for the heat to die down. What does a drug dealer do when the DEA raids his house? Down the toilet, boys. We can get more after we get bailed out of jail. And it has been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that Saddam previously did have, and use, WMD material and WMD programs.

    Restocking his WMD hordes, reviving his WMD programs would have been, in my humble opinion, his first priority once the attention of fickle and faint of heart democracies been distracted or just tired out. It is no secret that Saddam thought himself a stronger man than any American leader, given that he "outlasted" nearly a half-dozen presidencies. The successful Selling of the Iraqi War is not something I would be ashamed of, if I were in Dubya's shoes. And I don't hold it against him, if only because I have my own cognitive ability to rely upon.

    Now, I am not trying to be an Apologist for Machiavellian politics, but it is an oft quoted statement that we get the politics we ask for.

  • M1EK||

    "In your world, is anyone ever just wrong? Because if so, you never seem to respond to those comments."

    Oh, bullcrap. I post in five or ten threads a day, and the vast majority of them never see the word "lie".

    But insisting that we all pretend that RC Dean honestly believes that the Bush team didn't misrepresent intelligence - that's just a waste of everyone's time (at BEST) - more likely it's just going to misinform the reader population into thinking he might have a point, when he's just, goddammit, lying.

  • ||

    thoreau:

    While they did have a plan for how to deal with an attack using WMDs on US troops, nothing I have seen in the press, nor anything my friends who were in service at the time leads me to believe that they had any intelligence as to where they believed the stockpiles were.

    What we should have seen, based on my own military experience, would have been airstrikes on suspected depots, followed by Special Forces drops to secure those sites before major operations began. Doesn't it strike you as a little insane that the plan seems to have been "we'll track down the chemical weapons after we've finished with the war"?

  • M1EK||

    "Iraq had to be dealt with."

    See, here's a statement which is not a lie, but nevertheless, I disagree with. In a sense, Iraq WAS being dealt with - we were bombing the crap out of him every time he stuck his head above the earth. As it turns out, and as the people who actually knew were TELLING US, this was effectively preventing him from being able to do anything but survive. No WMD programs. No wars against his neighbors. No real funding of terrorism. Etc.

    Some say that was too expensive to continue, but for what we've now spent on this misbegotten war of choice, we could have funded thousands of years of bombing Saddam. And I doubt even he, as wily as he is, could have lasted that long.

  • ||

    James-

    OK, point taken. I, for one, am completely convinced that Iraq neither possessed nor handed off any usable WMD in the period from 2002 until the invasion. If Hussein's regime had either had the stuff or given it to terrorists, we'd know by now. And probably in the hardest way possible.

    That doesn't necessarily undermine the case for war. As I said a month or so ago, there are many issues to consider (include risks in situations where you aren't sure what's happening), but I am completely convinced that there were no usable WMD in Iraq in 2002 or 2003. Otherwise we'd know about it by now. In the hardest way possible.

  • ||

    "A petulant child should be ignored or, if necessary, isolated. It should never be engaged."

    I can't recall where I heard that advice before--possibly from my parents--but all of a sudden, for some reason, I am reminded of it.

  • M1EK||

    The other false dilemna presented by the more truthful members of the President's dwindling gang of supporters is this one:

    - Everybody (well, a lot of people anyways) said Saddam had WMD. Clinton said he did. Senators said he did. They voted for regime change. Therefore, obviously, we were right to attack.

    Well, it's true that many people (including me!) THOUGHT he had WMD programs. Many of us (including me!) were sure enough to support bombing Iraq from time to time and keeping a close eye on them.

    But the level of proof required to commit US troops to a ground war ought to be higher than "we think".

    And the problem is that during the run-up to war, the BEST interpretation of the administration's actions is that they took an honest belief that he PROABALY had WMDs, and turned it into "we're sure he has them and we know where they are" when they went before the public (and, embarassingly for Colin Powell, the UN).

    That's a lie. Turning WE THINK into WE'RE POSITIVE is a lie. If I think that my neighbor MIGHT be launching dog poop over his fence at night into my yard, and I tell the cops that I have PROOF that he's been doing it, and that I've seen it, that's a lie. Even if it turns out he really WAS doing it.

  • ||

    Mr. Feldman:

    Part of the problem was that Saddam kept deceiving everyone, and even when you knew that was his plan it didn't tell you what the truth was. He told all his military commanders that there were chemical weapons ready for use, but each one was told that others had them. We had intercepts of the messages, but not enough underlying intel to figure out the truth. Thus we had a fair amount of evidence there were chemical weapons, but nothing indicating where they were. You're probably right that it would be nuts to invade if they were nukes rather than chem, but they weren't, and we could protect fairly well against localized chem weapons.

    M1EK:
    The whole bombing-and-sanctions thing was crumbling. The Russians and Germans made crystal-clear that they were fed up and were gonna go in and do business with Iraq, and the US could go to hell. The domestic consensus to continue was also rapidly eroding, in part due to reports about the widespread suffering of ordinary Iraqis. The complete corruption of Oil-for-Food was not yet widespread knowledge, so its evident failure was blamed on the sanctioners (i.e. the US). The whole arrangement was about to end, and within a year or at most two Saddam would have been free to act like a normal Middle East despot.

  • ||

    thoreau-

    I definitely agree. The case(s) for war could have been made on any number of serious and legitimate arguments. However, I do find a lot of reason to be concerned that the government considers us all to be children incapable of rational understanding and chooses to scare us with boogeymen instead.

  • M1EK||

    Shelby,

    The crumbling consensus around containment is a useful post-war-debacle fiction; and the US could easily have continued absent international support. Hell, we were willing to invade without that support; what makes you think we would have lacked the guts to continue bombing him?

  • ||

    Its quite funny actually, that almost 2 years after the first chemical weapon was found as an IED wired to a telephone pole, and now that the 4th ID has found 55 gallon drums of chemicals, that when mixed together form a nerve agent, parked next to rockets with warheads designed to carry a liquid payload, that the "no WMD/NBC agents have been found" line persists.
    And yeah, Syria is still looking for the "real killer".
    Smells of OJ lol.

  • M1EK||

    Rob,

    It's quite funny that you're equating (A) IMPORTED WMDs brought in by the terrorists who we invited into Iraq with our ham-handed invasion with (B) the PRE-WAR WMDs that we claimed Saddam had.

    Not funny makes you think. Funny kind of the taste of expired milk.

  • ||

    Shelby-

    I agree with your assessment of what the problem was; it was why I reluctantly supported the invasion at the time. However, while the NBC suits are decent short-term protection, there has been no real test of the ability to deal with the long-term effects of chemical and biological attacks.

    As a former infantry guy, I'm appalled by the casual attention paid to force protection. On the one hand, it stinks to me like they knew or suspected that the WMD threat wasn't real, since otherwise they were quite casual about the risks of losing thousands of American troops and tens of thousands of civilians. Of course, the attitude they have taken to force protection since the insurgency began leads me to believe that it is quite possible that these commanders would take those risks.

  • ||

    To be fair, one could argue that when the subject is WMD then the burden of proof should be on the evil dictator, and so uncertainty is actually a good enough reason to go to war. Of course, there is always uncertainty, so you have to set a threshold, and we can debate what the threshold should be and whether it was met in this case.

    But I stand by my statement that at the time of the invasion the Iraqi army had no usable WMD, and that the Iraqi government had not given any usable WMD to terrorists in the year prior to the invasion. Otherewise we'd know about it, and probably the hardest way possible.

    Rob-

    Any links?

  • ||

    M1EK says:
    "Hans Blix said he got everywhere he needed to get. Got any more Corner talking points for us?"

    Hey genius, you may want to get your facts straight before you accuse others of using "talking points."

    Hans Blix speaking at the UN in June 2002.

    "They cheated, they retreated, they changed figures, they denied access, etc. Why was that if they didn't have anything really to conceal?

  • ||

    James,

    There are other ways of protecting troops from WMDs. For example using your advanced weapons and total air superiority to destroy the enemies ability to deploy them. That kind of thing. I don't think there was much of a threat of the Iraqis putting up much of a contiuing chemical attack.

  • ||

    m1ek, it's clear that you are a wannabe talking head who gets no respect outside of like minded discussion board posters, but god man, insults from a cock who spews the same shit that can be found on any lib blog over and over and over while claiming others get their points from the corner may make you loose even the like minded.

  • M1EK||

    ironizedyeast:

    Get better talking points.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iraq_and_weapons_of_mass_destruction#UNMOVIC_search_2003

    "All inspections were performed without notice, and access was in virtually all cases provided promptly. In no case have the inspectors seen convincing evidence that the Iraqi side knew in advance of their impending arrival."

    "More than 200 chemical and more than 100 biological samples have collected at different sites. ... The results to date have been consistent with Iraq's declarations."

    "UNMOVIC has identified and started the destruction of approximately 50 litres of mustard declared by Iraq... This process will continue. A laboratory quantity of (1 litre) of thiodiglycol, a mustard precursor, ... has also been destroyed."

    "[I]t was concluded that all variants of the Al Samoud 2 missile were inherently capable of ranges more than 150 kilometres and were therefore proscribed weapons systems."

    "UNMOVIC has reported that, in general, Iraq has been helpful on "process", meaning, first of all, that Iraq has from the outset satisfied the demand for prompt access to any site, whether or not it had been previously declared or inspected. ... While such cooperation should be a matter of course, it must be recalled that UNSCOM frequently met with a different Iraqi attitude."

    "During the period of time covered by the present report, Iraq could have made greater efforts to find any remaining proscribed items or provide credible evidence showing the absence of such items."

  • M1EK||

    mkay,

    Which "lib blog" do you think I read? Put up or shut up.

  • ||

    M1EK

    Wow, I presented a quote that completely pulled the rug out from under something you said (showing that what you said was inherently incorrect), then you presented a lot of quotes which do nothing to my contention that you're initial statement was incorrect. I guess it was quantity over quality. Nice try, though!

    I'm sorry, I'm new here, is your schtick that when you can't logically debate something you call it a "talking point" and then move on to a different issue? Well, sweetheart, you're going to have to try something different with me. Blind political ideology makes me want to vomit. I have no talking points.

  • ||

    JDM-

    I don't think that Iraq could have maintained a sustained chemical or biological attack either. But you can't destroy many chemical and biological agents simply by bombing. Using an ordinary HMX-based bomb on many agents will simply spread them, another significant risk posed by not knowing more about their location. And the weapons that the US does use for that sort of thing (thermite, for example) are not munitions that can be used indiscriminately.

  • ||

    You cats seem to be debating this in a vacuum, without introducing the higher "preceived threat" level of post 9/11.

    To me, the most compelling case to remove Saddam was: He's using funds from oil-for-food for God knows what. One of those uses could be to procure bad things and giving them to Al Q. The prospect of this post 9/11 is scary, because we were caught totally flat footed. (leaving aside for a moment peripheral things like Richard Clarke's claims and Able Danger)

    So the minimum criteria for military action seems to be inversely proportional to the perceived threat level.

    I was willing to cut W. a lot of slack, but as I said earlier, if Sunnis don't wholeheartedly (vs. their current kinda/sorta acceptance) embrace the process soon, I don't see how we can continue to be deplyed there.

  • ||

    Yeah, that crazy, unpredictable, out-of-control Saddam guy...if I remember correctly we had a little war with him in, oh, '91 or so. He didn't use any WMD's. Then we starved and bombed his country for 10 or 12 years. He didn't use any WMD's. Then we invaded his country, killed his kids...he didn't use any WMD's. Rather strange behavior for someone psychotically fixated on destroying America.

  • M1EK||

    ironizedyeast,

    You are so utterly full of crap. The quotes I posted were AFTER Iraq had fully opened up the country to Blix, and included these gems:

    "UNMOVIC has reported that, in general, Iraq has been helpful on "process", meaning, first of all, that Iraq has from the outset satisfied the demand for prompt access to any site, whether or not it had been previously declared or inspected. ..."

    That DIRECTLY contradicts the point you tried to make with the quote of Blix from EARLIER.

    As a matter of fact, we have a pretty good idea why Saddam would conceal - he was scared of the other countries in the region and us. And as it turns out, for good reason.

  • M1EK||

    Oh, and ironizedyeast: the claim I made which you thought was so unsupported:

    "Hans Blix said he got everywhere he needed to get."

    From his report in 2003:

    'UNMOVIC has reported that, in general, Iraq has been helpful on "process", meaning, first of all, that Iraq has from the outset satisfied the demand for prompt access to any site, whether or not it had been previously declared or inspected. ..."'

  • ||

    um,
    About attacking a country that has WMDs. We did it in '91 with little problems. The thing about Chemical weapons is that they are not that effective against a well prepared, highly mobile modern military like ours.

    However they could be devastating when used in surprise attack mode. Either smuggled into our shores, or used against Israel or Saudi Arabia.

    As mentioned above, our embargo was flailing, and inevitably they would have learned to work around our bombings. Humans do.

    Also, despite m1ek and other liberal talking points. I don't think that the embargo which was starving Iraqi kids and helping keep the strongman in power, was more humaine than the invasion. Even with all the flaws collateral damage and misery that acompanied the invasion.

  • ||

    Johnny Clark,
    Saddam did use WMD's in gulf war one, just not too effectively.

  • ||

    yeast writes: "Wow, I presented a quote that completely pulled the rug out from under something you said"

    You quote Blix from mid 2002. Which is irrelevant because soon after Blix did get to go everywhere he wanted.

    And he found SQUAT. And by March of 2003, it was obvious there was squat.

  • ||

    M1EK:
    The crumbling consensus around containment is a useful post-war-debacle fiction;

    No, it's a solid fact. Your denial of it does not change that; it just makes you... um, what's the term you were using earlier for willful denial of the truth?

    and the US could easily have continued absent international support. Hell, we were willing to invade without that support; what makes you think we would have lacked the guts to continue bombing him?

    You seem a little vague on the concept of "embargo" versus "war". And the, what, 25 or so nations that joined in the war would be surprised to hear they're American subjects. You also ignore the fact that the DOMESTIC consensus was rapidly eroding as well.

  • ||

    m1eek: "Which "lib blog" do you think I read? Put up or shut up."

    Gee, its not so much where you can read as where you can go. You add little light, only useless heat here. There must be some site that will better appreciate your incessant belching of hatred.

  • ||

    kwais writes: "However they could be devastating when used in surprise attack mode. Either smuggled into our shores, or used against Israel or Saudi Arabia."

    So, naturally, we'd want to invade, creating chaos in which any such weapons could disperse around the region and the world, untracked.

    Why, we might even allow looters to dismantle old WMD facilities and sell the parts on the world market.

    Genius!

  • ||

    "However, while the NBC suits are decent short-term protection, there has been no real test of the ability to deal with the long-term effects of chemical and biological attacks."

    I read this as saying that the suits aren't good for dealing with ongoing attacks. I guess you meant the long term effects of short term attacks.

    I'd think that they could figure out the dosage that reaches the soldiers, and interpret the long term effects of an attack from that.

    "But you can't destroy many chemical and biological agents simply by bombing."

    No, but you can destroy the ability of the enemy to use them, which helps protect against them.

    I'm just saying that they may have had good reason to think that the chemical weapons weren't much of a threat even if they believed that the weapons were there.

    How much conventional shelling or air attack did our troops come under during the attack? My (possibly wrong) sense is that it wasn't very much. I guess my thought here (not supported by real life knowledge about what the doctrine actually is) is that you can stop chemical attacks the same way you stop conventional ones.

  • M1EK||

    "No, it's a solid fact."

    Bullshit.

    'You seem a little vague on the concept of "embargo" versus "war"'

    You seem a little vague on the concept of "if we're willing to go to war without international support, we certainly would have been willing to continue bombing Iraq every so often without international support". And the bombing was working great, even though the embargo arguably wasn't.

    "And the, what, 25 or so nations that joined in the war would be surprised to hear they're American subjects."

    YOU FORGOT POLAND!

    "You also ignore the fact that the DOMESTIC consensus was rapidly eroding as well."

    I ignore it because it's not a fact. The consensus for continuing to bomb Iraq was strong in this country.

  • ||

    So, naturally, we'd want to invade, creating chaos in which any such weapons could disperse around the region and the world, untracked.

    Or we could do nothing, confirm to all our enemies that we are not willing to fight, and wait for Saddam to build effective nuclear weapons while state training AlQ guys, and dedicating resources to undermining our efforts in Afghanistan.

    I believe Saddam was involved in the 1st world trade center attack.

    I'm sure hiding our heads in the sand would not have backfired in any way.

  • ||

    M1EK

    I'm not denying those quotes from UNMOVIC.

    I see where the confusion was in my post above. The quote I give from Blix above is from June 2003, even after the report that you quote from.

    "That DIRECTLY contradicts the point you tried to make with the quote of Blix from EARLIER."

    Okay, if you believe thats a direct contradiction, when do you think Blix was lying? In his quarterly report or in his speech at the UN? Just curious.

  • ||

    I dunno, Kwais, on November 1, 1996 the Director of the CIA said:

    "On the basis of a comprehensive review of intelligence, we continue to conclude that Iraq did not use chemical or biological weapons during the Gulf War. In addition, our analysis indicates chemical agents released by aerial bombing of chemical warfare facilities did not reach US troops in Saudi Arabia."

    Of course, it's the CIA, so they were probably wrong about that, too.

  • ||

    This is why America cannot solve a problem concerning Syria. Iraq overshadows everything else.

    Syria whacked Hariri. I expect one of the contributing factors of this decision was that the killing would be lost in the flood of news on Iraq.

  • M1EK||

    "Okay, if you believe thats a direct contradiction, when do you think Blix was lying? In his quarterly report or in his speech at the UN? Just curious."

    In 2002, they weren't letting him go everywhere he wanted. In 2003, they clearly did. Why is this so hard for you to understand (or simply come to terms with)?

  • Jay Cline||

    Jose,

    Valid point.

    So, what do we do with Syria? Assuming Young is correct and Hersh isn't, does anyone believe that Syria might not yield to UN pressure. If they do, do we pat them on the head and say, good boy, or do we push for meaningful justice? And what might that mean, if it involves bringing senior Syrian governmental officials up on charges, whether they be prosecuted in a Lebanese court or an international one?

    If Syria remains intransigent, do we take the Saddam 12 year walk of life with Assad?

  • ||

    Of course, it's the CIA, so they were probably wrong about that, too.

    You know, I don't know. I wasn't in the first gulf war. I have heard people say there were were chemical weapons used. But that is unreliable anecdotal evidence. It might have just been a conventional weapon that didn't work properly, and thus gave all the indications of chemical weapons.

    I also remember reading something about Saddams failed attemt at using said weapons, but I can't site it.

    And further validating the CIA's tale is that from everything I have heard Gulf War syndrome is a result of having given the troops antidotes and vaxines against stuff that the troops were never exposed to.

    Sometimes the CIA is so spot on and awesome, and so amazing, and sometimes they are so pathetic it is amazing.

  • Jay Cline||

    I kept in touch with a buddy of mine after I got out of the service. We were both airplane mechanics. He was stationed at a base deep in Saudi Arabia, far from the fighting. He cam eback with GW syndrome. Fatigue, nausea, etc. The story he was given was some disease from desert flies or something. He hasn't heard anything since, and the "syndrome" went away.

  • ||

    The speech WAS from 2003. What don't you understand? Inspections didn't start until the very end of November of 2002. What are you suggesting, they were only denied any access for those 4 weeks in 2002?

    Come on, Blix Lied Who Died? That's what I say.

    Or maybe, just maybe, Blix never lied. Maybe, while it's true Iraq "cheated, retreated, changed figures, and denied access." It's still possible that they were also helpful "in general" in regards to process ("in process" as opposed to "in substance" which is a differentiation they make in that report).

    Maybe the only person who is wrong here is you.

  • ||

    Desert flies huh? Could be. I wonder why no one is getting it now? I don't remember getting a desert fly vaxination.

  • M1EK||

    "The speech WAS from 2003. What don't you understand? Inspections didn't start until the very end of November of 2002. What are you suggesting, they were only denied any access for those 4 weeks in 2002?"

    You left out the next couple of lines in his interview, and the only reasonable interpretation of his words and actions are that FOR A LONG TIME, Iraq DID hide, obstruct, interfere, and otherwise fail to comply, but that AT THE END, IN 2003, Hans Blix got to look at everything he wanted to look at.

  • M1EK||

    The REST of that interview:



    "I have speculations, one could be pride," he said.

    "Saddam Hussein regarded himself as an emperor of Mesopotamia, some said, and he regarded inspectors as impostors," Blix said.

    Nonetheless, he said, U.N. inspectors could not jump to conclusions - and the Bush administration shouldn't have either.

    "I think they should remember that in the future, too, that the international inspection that is not on a leash is the inspection that has the greatest credibility," Blix said. "It might even be right."

  • ||

    kwais and Jay Cline

    I read a story some time ago about some kind of desert lice that have a really nasty bite that flairs up really badly as a result of some virus it carries.

    This isn't the article, but some info here.

    http://www.veteransforpeace.org/Sand_flies_active_111703.htm

    http://www.pdhealth.mil/deployments/gulfwar/sandfly.asp

    I wonder why no one is getting it now? I don't remember getting a desert fly vaxination.

    If the story I read is accurate they are getting it now. And there is no vaccination.

  • ||

    M1EK you're adorable!

    Actually, you're ridiculous. I wasn't arguing whether Iraq actually had weapons or not, so the inclusion of the rest of that quote doesn't change what I was saying at all.

    I suggest you read the report you're pulling quotes off of Wikipedia from and you can put Iraq's cooperation in context. (I also suggest you read your quotes more closely, "During the period of time covered by the present report, Iraq COULD have made greater efforts to find any remaining proscribed items or provide credible evidence showing the absence of such items." That quote doesn't support your thesis.)

    You may say, "Iraq only denied access and lied during the UNSCOM inspections, not the UNMOVIC inspections." That would be incorrect, but even if it were true, what good would the inspections do us at that point? It would be akin to a mother inspecting her 15-year-old's room for marijuana. The son says, "You can look everywhere except under my bed, in my closet, in my dresser and behind my tv." The mother gives up, exasperated. Then, four years later the kid, under mounting pressure, let's his mom in and says, "Okay, now you're free to examine the room almost anywhere you'd like." Your conclusion: The kid never had any marijuana. Does that seem logical to you?

    Listen, I'll let you have the last word here. Unfortunately you're not someone who's very fun to debate because when you're mistaken about something.

  • M1EK||

    "Your conclusion: The kid never had any marijuana. Does that seem logical to you?"

    No, but that's not at all what happened with Saddam, you incredible asshole.

    BLIX HIMSELF SAYS HE DOESN'T THINK THEY HAD THE STUFF EVEN WHEN THEY WEREN'T LETTING HIM LOOK EVERYWHERE.

  • Jay Cline||

    Why is Blix being given such godlike omniscient authority? All he can unequivocally say is whether he and his people found something and how much interference they got on the ground.

    Anything else is conjecture.

    But neither of those points seems to be in dispute here...

  • M1EK||

    "But neither of those points seems to be in dispute here..."

    ironizedyeast disputed the "how much interference" point repeatedly.

  • ||

    M1EK regarding Blix you said "HE DOESN'T THINK THEY HAD THE STUFF EVEN WHEN THEY WEREN'T LETTING HIM LOOK EVERYWHERE."

    In an issue like Iraq's possesion of WMD thinking they did not have something is not an acceptable level of certainty. Especially when combined with "WEREN'T LETTING HIM LOOK EVERYWHERE."

    Explain why

    1. When Bush et al thought Saddam had WMD it was a lie.

    2. When Blix thought Saddam did not have WMD it is proof Bush lied.

    How does that work?

    The final answer on who was correct was only determined after unimpeded searches occurred when Saddam was removed from power.

    Hindsight is always 20/20

  • ||

    BLIX HIMSELF SAYS HE DOESN'T THINK THEY HAD THE STUFF EVEN WHEN THEY WEREN'T LETTING HIM LOOK EVERYWHERE.

    Two things are not in dispute:

    1) There is no evidence that Iraq had the weapons that they were feared to have pre-invasion.

    2) M1EK is willing to claim that Blix, due to his position with UNSCOM, had been granted omniscience, which makes his hunch a scientific fact.

  • ||

    jf,

    "Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof."

    What clear evidence would that be? I don't recall seeing a single piece of such evidence. What I do recall is that every alleged piece of evidence was quickly discredited.

    When you claim you have clear evidence, and you don't, you are lying.

  • ||

    kwais, "Or we could do nothing"

    Or we could carry out Operation Desert Fox-type operations, and engage in sufficient sword rattling to get coercive inspections on the ground. Kind of irony - if Bush had "called" in early 2003, and continued to use the threat of force to keep the inspections going, we would be talking about the great genius Bush, who restored inspections and kept us safe, without a single American casualty. National Review would be writing about the bold and brilliant team that managed to do what Clinton couldn't. Too bad about the whole "We're so fucking great, this couldn't possibly go wrong" thing.

  • M1EK||

    1. When Bush et al thought Saddam had WMD it was a lie.

    Bush and pals claimed to KNOW (remember "we know where they are"?). That was a lie. He didn't know. The intelligence he had access to was clearly mixed.

    2. When Blix thought Saddam did not have WMD it is proof Bush lied.

    Blix was careful to stay within the bounds of the evidence; and not state that he was certain of things he could not possibly be sure of.

  • ||

    Getting back to Young's original point, this corrosive, easy, thoughtless cynicism is indeed dangerous to our soiety and an obstacle to effective governance.

    Which is why the president can't be engaging in the type of dishonest manipulation of the public that he used to "sell" this "product." No matter how good he thinks the cause, and no matter how certain he is that the inevitable success of his mission will make everyone forget about his corruption.

    The deficits left behind by Bush's self-serving irresponsibility aren't just fiscal. We're going to be paying this one off for generations, too.

  • ||

    I'm currently reading a biography of George C. Marshall. I just finished the period immediately before Pearl Harbor. Two things really struck me about the behavior of our government during that period.

    The first was the absolute commitment to the fact that the United States would not start a war. It was considered a violation of our honor as a decent, democratic nation.

    Second, and more relevantly, was the determination of the president and military leadership not to lie to the public, nor to go to war without gaining the genuine, informed consent of the people. Roosevelt was smart enough to realize the danger of taking a divided nation to war - the danger that support for the effort, even among the troops in the field, would collapse, which would inevitably happen at the worst possible moment, when our military fortunes were at their ebb. He looked back to the revolts in the French, Russian, and German armies in World War One, and knew that the cheap patriotism of the "rally 'round the flag" response to the beginning of war was no foundation on which to support a "long, hard slog." He even made decisions that, in the short term, were harmful to military readiness and necessity, because he knew of the much greater harm that would be done had he acted, well, had he acted like our current, dishonorable, foolish, unfit Commander in Chief.

  • ||

    And let me get this straight - after 9/11, after Afghanistan, we wouldn't have been able to maintain the consensus necessary to keep military forces at the ready, and inspectors in the field, among the American people?

    Are you freaking kidding me?

  • ||

    ironizedyeast,

    A little simple math for you:

    Saddam is not being entirely cooperative != Our inspection teams are unable to do their jobs

  • ||

    "Your conclusion: The kid never had any marijuana. Does that seem logical to you?"

    Psst. ironizedyeast. C'mere. I want to let you in on a little secret...

    There were not WMDs in Iraq.

  • ||

    Joe,

    Only about 12,000 dead Kurds in Halabja would disagree with you. I guess that was all just a Neocon lie.

  • Davd Rossie||

    "Hindsight is always 20/20 "

    No it's not. Have you paid attention to these arguments? =)

  • Jay Cline||

    Joe,

    Can the president engage in honest manipulation?

    That fact that you made the qualification indicates you would accept such a thing exists. Which I would agree to.

    To present a case favorable to a desired outcome is not inherently dishonest.

    Nothing wrong when the car salesman tries to sell me a car and tells me the babes love red.

    It all gets back to our individual responsibility to be our own skeptics. Politicians have to deal with mass psychology to sell their agendas. To hold someone to a standard that effectively castrates their ability to do their job in the first place is not a realistic standard. To expect otherwise, one would have to be a practicing Utopian.

  • ||

    Well, John, about 500,000 Persiand from 300 BCE would agree that there were, indeed, no WMDs in the region.

    Did you ever think you would be reduced to such stupid arguments when this war began?

  • ||

    Jay Cline,

    "Babes love red" is just fine. Rolling back the odometer is not.

  • Jay Cline||

    "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

    -- Presidential Oath of Office

    Yeah, Bush has kept true to his vows.

  • ||

    thoreau,

    You better put the collar back on your dogs. They are getting out of control and poisoning the debate.

    _______________________

    In light of all the circumstances, weighing everything in favor and against, etc. its likely that invading Iraq was the second best of several bad options. The best option would have been to get the UNSC to authorize an armed and fairly large international inspection force that could force their way past the regime's efforts. Of course, one has to ask, would that have been possible?

  • ||

    Jay Cline,
    Not that two wrongs make a right or anything, but when was the last president that did keep those vows?

    Hell, you can probably count on your fingers the Senators and Judges that have.

  • ||

    To be fair, kwais, the oath does say "to the best of my ability."

  • ||

    I guess that you could argue that Bush, unlike Clinton knows the difference between right and wrong as far as the constitution.

    Or perhaps Joe is arguing the contrary as a defense of Bush's behavior.

  • ||

    I suppose you could argue that.

    If you set aside searches without warrants, denial of habeus corpus, use of cruel and unusual punishment, lack of due process, restrictions on the press, and lack of equal protection for gay people, Bush is a regular James Monroe.

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