Next Stop, Kurdistan?

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Now Colin Powell has me really confused.

If the most direct link to al Qaida can be found in Kurd-controlled areas outside Saddam's control—and a poison making outfit at that—why can't the US simply roll in from Turkey and take care of that little issue? Or maybe I'm misreading something about Powell's Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi tale:

Iraq today harbors a deadly terrorist network headed by Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, an associated in collaborator of Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaida lieutenants.

Zarqawi, a Palestinian born in Jordan, fought in the Afghan war more than a decade ago. Returning to Afghanistan in 2000, he oversaw a terrorist training camp. One of his specialties and one of the specialties of this camp is poisons. When our coalition ousted the Taliban, the Zarqawi network helped establish another poison and explosive training center camp. And this camp is located in northeastern Iraq.

…Those helping to run this camp are Zarqawi lieutenants operating in northern Kurdish areas outside Saddam Hussein's controlled Iraq. But Baghdad has an agent in the most senior levels of the radical organization, Ansar al-Islam, that controls this corner of Iraq. In 2000 this agent offered Al Qaida safe haven in the region. After we swept Al Qaida from Afghanistan, some of its members accepted this safe haven. They remain their today.

So a single "Baghdad agent" mandates the invasion and occupation of the entire country? Why can't we try the easy way first? Like I said, I don't get it.

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  1. You still don’t get it?
    We want Saddam’s oil, so we are going to take it. The whole ‘weapons of mass destruction’ and ‘links to terrorism’ business is an essential component of our invasion/occupation/pillaging plan. The technical term is, they are a pretext for military action.

  2. “So a single “Baghdad agent” mandates the invasion and occupation of the entire country?”

    Do you actually believe that that is the extent of the US case for war? I find it hard to believe, but since you are presumably a libertarian, and work for “Reason,” you must understand that honest dialog is the best recourse for people to use reason to arrive at their best approximation of the truth, and value a reasoned focus on reality as the central goal of ethical and political interaction. I therefore surmise that you suffer from extraordinarily poor memory, and would like to advance to your editors the idea that this disqualifies you from being a useful contributor to a publication about political and social issues. They really ought to think about letting you go. I imagine your impairment would qualify you for some sort of government assistance. I doubt you would accept it, afterall, you are a principled libertarian.

    If I were a cynic, however, I would say that you are another empty headed pundit, advancing another pointless straw man argument, without the intellectual discipline to provide useful commentary.

  3. “I find it hard to believe, but since you are presumably a libertarian, and work for “Reason,” you must understand that honest dialog is the best recourse for people to use reason to arrive at their best approximation of the truth, and value a reasoned focus on reality as the central goal of ethical and political interaction. ”

    Not exactly sure what your point was, but the above was the worst sentence I have ever read. Maybe you can get some sort of award. Remember always think before you speak Steve.

  4. If we wanted Saddam’s oil, wouldn’t it be a hell of a lot easier just to lift the sanctions? I also find interesting the number of people who want to have the final say on what it means to be ‘libertarian’. Libertarians have to follow the principle religiously no matter what the consequences? No room for pragmatic libertarians who understand the need to occasionally deviate from principles to solve real problems like WMD proliferation, rogue states, and terrorism?

    I don’t see why libertarianism has to be a black and white issue; that either you are, or aren’t. I think you can be a moderate libertarian just like you can be a moderate with any other ideology.

  5. James. Please point me to the Libertarian bible so I can get in lockstep with acceptable thought, too.

  6. James,

    I have to agree with our anonymous friend: that is perhaps the worst sentence that I’ve ever read. If one of my future Marines or naval aviators submitted a sentence like that to me, I’d fail them. And by the way, you want to say “conjecture,” not “surmise”. “Surmise” is what the Iraq-Al Qaeda connection is based on.

    Go look it up.

  7. Lefty – presumably, as a reader of “Reason” magazine, you believe that the application of rational thought leads to the discovery of knowable truth. That sentence, in and of itself, contains the “libertarian bible”, as I understand the word “libertarian”.

    If you agree with that sentence, then you don’t require any further “bible” – libertarians will all come to the same conclusions about each issue, after a reasonable discourse.

    This, I believe, is what James has objected to – Reason magazine at one time reflected clear and intelligent thinking regarding a range of issues, but it has recently begun to spiral into a morasse of specious and muddled, knee-jerk and thoughtlessly arranged a-priori statements.

    The website, at least, should certainly change the name “Reason”, if the editors wish to remain honest about their predilictions – perhaps a more apt name would be “Selfishness” or maybe, “Pot for Everyone!”.

    The arguments regarding Iraq are merely the latest indication of the lack of reasonable libertarian principles at this website.

  8. Paul,

    “a morass of specious, muddled, knee-jerk, and thoughtlessly arranged…”

    I guess that membership in the Ayn Rand Death Cult doesn’t guarantee the ability to communicate clearly either.

  9. Surmise: a thought or idea based on scanty evidence.

    That’s exactly what I meant.

    I admit that sentence is difficult to parse. It does make sense, however. Perhaps I’ll hire and editor.

    I’m not sure if I can locate a libertarian bible, but I would bet dollars to donuts that “Thou shalt not make sraw man arguments is part of it.”

  10. I for one will give Mr. Taylor the benefit of the doubt and assume that he’s well aware that there have been other arguments put forward to justify our looming invastion of Iraq. My guess is that his prose was an abbreviation of his belief that demonstrating that there is or has been support for al-Qaeda by Hussein would provide by far and away the most powerful argument for this invasion, particularly for those who believe that attacking a nation is not something you do unless that country has attacked you first or has shown that they are about to.

  11. Oh, I’m sorry. I assumed that anyone who writes a sentence with a comma splice and then claims it’s just difficult to parse wouldn’t be bright enough to grasp irony.

    Bonus points for cleverness, but poor marks for syntax and clarity.

  12. >

    Just to let you know, you are the only person in the universe with that definition of the word.

  13. Obviously, the al-Qaeda link is not the only reason to attack Iraq. But I think that’s the point here: if the other arguments are so compelling, why throw something so flimsy into the mix? Maybe because the other reasons aren’t getting Americans excited about going to war. Sounds like Bush is hurling a lot of shit against the wall just to see what sticks.

  14. Jason:

    Do you actually have anything to add to the argument here, or are merely content with dim-witted insults?

    It does seem strange to question the intelligence of another after highlighting your own ignorance. “Conjecture” and “Surmise” are synonymous.

    Dictionary.com – you can “go look it up”.

  15. Taylor also ignores the rest of Powell’s case for Iraq’s link to al Qaeda. Powell gave several more examples in his presentation, anyone reading the speech can see them. To posit that a “single ‘Baghdad agent'” is the extent of the al Qaeda-Iraq link, and then to say that is the extent of the U.S. case is doubly disingenuous.

  16. Let’s see… someone has something I want. I can either buy it from him OR I can beat him up. Think I’ll choose “beat him up”. Even though that will cost me more money and I don’t really want what he has, I just don’t want him to have it.

  17. Speaking of strawman arguments, James…

  18. George,
    It only costs more it you’re paying for it.
    The Bush administration is using our money (and the blood of patriotic volunteers) to seize Iraqi oil reserves, so (administration friendly) oil merchants can get fat selling it to us.

  19. Wouldn’t ‘rolling in from Turkey’ to take care of that ‘little issue’ involve ‘invading’ the country?

    Is the problem with the invasion that it goes all the way to Baghdad, and doesn’t stop somewhere on the outskirts?

  20. I don’t know how prudent it is to invade half a country without understanding that it is pretty much certain that you will end up fighting the whole thing.

    Would it have made any sense to simply destroy the terrorist camps in Afghanistan and leave the Taliban in power?

  21. Invading Iraq, as opposed to just lifting the sanctions; also has the beneficial effect of putting several hundred thousand Blacks, Latinos, poor Whites and other Democratic-Prone voters in harm’s way.

    Yes, I know it’s 2003 and not 1963 and no, minorites are not overrepresented in the Combat Arms branches. But let’s see how long that lasts as Bush implodes our economy.

    And the poor guys that bought it on the USS Cole and in the Khobar Towers were not Combat Arms either.

  22. Warren-

    Time and again I read/hear the assertion that the Bush administration is out to fatten their friends wallets with Iraqi oil. How callous would a individual need to be to start a war in the name of profit? I’m not saying it ain’t so but how about a little supporting evidence. Powell’s meager attempt was a lot more convincing than what you’ve proffered.

  23. And on this topic of profiting from Iraqi oil: might not flooding the world with cheap Iraqi oil drive the price down so low as to put some of GW’s Texas oil buddies out of business? It’s hard to see how he’s going to gain from plummeting oil prices.

    Bush isn’t Caesar going to Gaul for plunder. He obviously sincerely believes that the security of this country demands Iraq be disarmed. That’s the point to argue about.

  24. It’s not that we must go to war with Iraq, it’s that we need to fight someone and no one else seems willing except Saddam.

    I mean, we got all these weapons and armaments, how do know if this stuff is really gonna work? A few minor skirmishes in Africa and Chechnya are a good low-volume, low-stress test, but I’d really want a high-stress, high volume test before I sign off on buying all this stuff.

    And what about the defense contractors? It’s kinda hard to justify buying new stuff if we have all this other stuff stockpiled. I suppose we could just dump the stuff in the ocean, but who’s to say some creepy Moslems won’t go diving for the stuff and use it against us. No, we really need to detonate the stuff to get rid of it and there’s no sense doing it on US soil, it could harm someone. And it’ll be good for defense company stock prices, too, get their factories rolling to capacity for a while.

    I mean, we need to rid the world of these dictators who violate human rights and torture their citizens. We could go into Cuba, but that won’t really do much, most of the people there would be on our side and the whole thing would take, what, 3 days tops? How much war materiel can you get rid of in 3 days? Besides, we’ve kinda blown it now with the terorrists sitting over in Guantanamo, some of ’em might get away and start up a few cells.

    And those Moslems are pussies anyway. Geez, if Iraq and Iran really do have a bunch of nukes, why don’t they just put their differences aside for a few months and just bomb the shit out of Israel? Ya know, pay off Hezbollah or sumthin’ to take “credit” for it so there’s no US-led retaliation. It’s for the “Palestinians”, for Allah’s sake. Oh yeah, the Israelis got nukes, they might not wait to just bomb back willy-nilly.

    I suppose we could just sell off our old stuff. Pakistan and India might be looking to buy some scratch-and-dent specials. Come to think of it, al Qaeda might actually make a pretty good customer. Sell them our old stuff, they’d have so much, they wouldn’t waste their time on this ding-dong-ditch shit, they’d go right into Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Lebanon… who knows what the hell other ones over there. They’d probably leave Israel alone, they know there’s no point in totally wiping out the enemy, gotta have a devil around to whip the citizens into a frenzy so they’d be willing to die or at least give up some money for “the cause”.

    So some fundys take over the oil, it don’t do them no good sitting in the ground, they’d keep pumpin’ and dumpin’ for us anyway.

    Really, we need to get goin’. I mean, have you seen how lame these reality shows on TV are? Where the hell is “Survivor: Afghanistan”, for Chrissakes? Seems like a missed opportunity. Maybe we can get CBS to pay up a bit for “Survivor: Iraq”. “Sorry, Saddam, we’re votin’ you off!”

  25. “I guess that membership in the Ayn Rand Death Cult doesn’t guarantee the ability to communicate clearly either.”

    This insult was actually worth reading. ARDC is an irritating appendage that needs to be lopped off of the libertarian movement.

  26. Nice rant. I’m shocked and awed.

  27. Pathetic. A stream of abuse and insult spewed forth by people too pullisanimous to post with their own names.

    These posters have done nothing else but vomit the same doctrinaire conspiratical paranoid fantasies repeated ad infinitum by cesspools like the Democratic Underground. Not a word of truth in any of them.

    There may be legitimate arguments against the war, but I haven’t heard a single one from any of these anonymous or pseudonymous scribblers. I’ve heard very few from the Reason writers lately, and this last by Mr. Taylor isn’t very well argued.

    I suppose it all boils down to whether you believe Saddam Hussein, or George Bush. Or, whether you are desperate to avoid a war. Any war.

  28. “I suppose it all boils down to whether you believe Saddam Hussein, or George Bush. Or, whether you are desperate to avoid a war. Any war.”

    I believe neither. And I should hope any sane man is desperate to avoid a war, any war.

  29. Matt et. al.,
    Point taken. I don’t know what is motivating the administration. History tells me that money is the most likely culprit. I connected the dots of Iraqi oil reserves with Bush’s close ties to Texas oil. What I do know is that the stated reasons for waging war on Iraq don’t hold water. For extensive, well reasoned, compelling arguments against the war, I recommend these:
    http://cato.org/current/iraq/index.html

  30. The “war over oil” theory does’t make any sense to me, either. Every corporation in the history of the world prefers stability to chaos, even in the case of dictatorships. Witness all the companies running to set up shop in China. Plus, there won’t be any big payoff from opening the country up to U.S. investment. The infrastructure is so crappy it will take more than a decade and billions of dollars of capital spending before any money could be made. And wouldn’t opening up the oil spigots boost supply and therefore drive prices down? This is so much flimsy conjecture, just like those who are certain Bush assassinated Sen. Paul Wellstone to remove opposition to a possible war. Or those who think Bush had the shuttle destroyed so he could divert NASA funding into the defense budget. I mean, they just connected the dots, man, isn’t it obvious?!?!

    How about this for a credible theory about why Saddam needs to be taken out: Radical Muslims killed 2,000 Americans and 1,000 foreigners on our soil, wiped out a major financial center and managed to strike the heart of our military. The real enemy isn’t “terrorism”, it’s radical Islam. Sure, Iraq is a secular state, but anyone who thinks that would stop Saddam from teaming up with the al Qaeda nutjobs and supplying them with anthrax, VX, whatever, is out to lunch. Check out this piece from the New Yorker. http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content/?030210fa_fact

    Iraq is the first step towards wiping this ideological threat to liberty. Iran is a threat, as is Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. But Iraq is just the low-hanging fruit.

  31. Just in case anyone happens to check back with this link (my system was out), “conjecture” doesn’t usually contain the sense of dubious information usually associated with surmise, which suggests a guess based on really shoddy evidence. At least that’s what a lot of dead tree readers would tell you.

    Books–a nice alternative to a dictionary website every now and again. And noting a badly phrased argument is not just an insult.

    As for my lack of an argument, anyone who noticed the “USNA” address in my postings might guess that I’m just a little tired of these exchanges.

  32. So now Bin Laden is threatening to attack again if we attack Iraq. And us common Americans are asking..could we please just arrest the bastards directly involved rather than piss off yet more muslims? Still, gotta love the idea of the UN being rendered irrelevant.

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