The News From Baghdad


From the San Jose Mercury News coverage of the government's interim report re: weapons of mass destruction:

The head of a CIA team hunting for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq told Congress on Thursday that he had not found any stockpiles of the chemical or biological arms that President Bush cited as the primary reason to invade Iraq in March.

But David Kay, a former U.N. weapons inspector, cautioned the House and Senate intelligence committees that his report was an interim one and that it was still possible weapons would be found. He said he found evidence that Iraq continued weapons development in violation of U.N. strictures.
Whole story here.

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  1. but under WIFO, wouldn’t your inventory be overvalued, your cost of goods sold be undervalued, and your income tax liability be higher?

    how about a weighted average approach:

    number of times country was an asshole
    divided by
    number of possibilities in world to be an asshole

    then we could come up with “asshole turnover ratios”, etc.

    IMS health could track the numbers for us…


  2. I suggest that hit & run readers go directly to the source document:

    There’s something for everybody in it. Both Bush supporters and bashers can point to things in the report that bolster their claims.

    What’s most interesting is how some media outlets report what was in the report. The NY Times sounds like Democratic talking points. What I saw on the network news last night and read in the papers this morning barely resembled what the report said.

  3. WHAT? I thought Bush said there would be thousands of bombs, labeled “Chemical Warhead, Made in France, Handle With Care.” He obviously lied!

    That is what I heard anyway.

  4. Stockpiles of proscribed arms were just one of the reasons the President gave. A history of deceving the inspectors whom, by the terms of the ceasefire ending the Gulf War, Saddam was required to cooperate, was another one. The nature of Saddam’s government was another–nobody cares that France has large stockpiles of WMD. The “imminent threat” argument was not used–as I tire of pointing out the RPesident went out of his way to say that the threat was NOT imminent.

    As far as proving the existence of proscribed, clandestine weapons programs, the report is quite satisfactory. Look at what sanctions and inspections utterly failed to stop. Tell me how more sanctions and inspections, or less, as some were advocating, were going to put a stop to it.

  5. You call them WMD, I call it a National Defence Policy.

  6. saddam

    When I have them it’s a National Defence Policy when you have them they’re WMD.

  7. Gabriel Hanna,

    Well, some people do not find those reasons to go to war – to be frank, the fact that the UN inspections frustrated Saddam’s regime that much, and that they did not reconstitute said programs from 1998-2003 (as the report appears to indicate) even when inspectors were not in Iraq undermines the notion, at least in my eyes, that the regime was all that dangerous. Now go back to the Command Post and spout your ad hominems.

  8. BTW, I have noticed that all the Murdoch stories about French passports, weapons, etc., in Iraq have come to nothing.

  9. ad hominem

    Ad hom”i*nem [L., to the man.] A phrase applied to an appeal or argument addressed to the principles, interests, or passions of a man.

    Jean Bart,

    Where’s the ad hominem in Gabriel Hanna’s argument?

  10. Source Document,

    Well, if you were to visit the Command Post, you would find that Gabriel Hanna is a devoted use of said argumentative device.

  11. “While there are many dangers in the world, the threat from Iraq stands alone because it gathers the most serious dangers of our age in one place. Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction are controlled by a murderous tyrant [Hussein] who has already used chemical weapons to kill thousands of people.” – Bush, Speech in Cinninati in Oct. 2002

    If that’s dancing around the idea of Saddam as an imminent threat, then I don’t know what is. Notice Bush also states that Iraq has WMDs, and that they are controlled by Saddam – a claim that despite months of effort has yet to be verified.

  12. I have not been reading your stuff that long, JB, so I have to ask. Did you think that Bush was exagerating the threat of chemical and biological weapons BEFORE the war as well?

  13. Jean Barl, if it is “ad hominem” to say that Saddam was evil and not to be trusted, then yes, it is an “ad hominem” arguement.

    Your arguemtn against me is entirely “ad hominem”, as you refer to things I am supposed to have said eleswhere rather than respond to my point.

    As far as “dancing around imminence” goes, there is nothing in the piece you cited that says or implies imminence of the threat. Whereas, in the State of the Union Address, we find this:

    Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike? If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words, and all recriminations would come too late. Trusting in the sanity and restraint of Saddam Hussein is not a strategy, and it is not an option.

    Thus you have it; the President said, specifically, that the threat was NOT imminent, but that action to counter it was justified anyway. This is far more to the point than the bit you quoted, which contained no reference to “imminence” or any synonym thereof.

  14. Incidentally, Jean Barl, I find your tactic of trying to turn the argument from one about Iraq, to one about whether or not I habitually engage in ad hominem arguments on some other blog, to be reprehensible and intellectually dishonest.

    I do not say that this behavior you demonstrate now invalidates anything you might say that actually IS relewveant to the subject we are discussing.

  15. well frankly Jean Bart has a PHd and you don’t so shut the fuck up. also, nice straw man argument on Jean Bart.

  16. Gabriel Hanna,

    I don’t like you. Get over it. I’ve seen what you do on the Command Post blog. If you are pissed because you’ve been outted, tough.

  17. Saddam’s existance has yet to be verified by indepenant experts. If he didn’t get 100% of the vote in the last election, I wouldn’t believe he existed either.

  18. Would all participants who do not have phd’s please leave the message board. You’re opinions are not valid.

  19. “If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words, and all recriminations would come too late.”

    Well that’s hardly a case for war; in fact, what this report has demonstrated is that efforts short of war were adequate to the task, which is why inspections, while not perfect in their findings, seem to have adequately kept Saddam’s regime in check.

  20. bennett,

    I think that one could come to that conclusion, yes. Of course the problem with all these debates is a lack of knowledge on both sides. However, given the lack of evidence of actual production of WMDs, I grow extremely skeptical of the Bush administration.

  21. Well, the solution is simple, Jean Barl; we should have kep the inspections going forever and hoped they always worked.

    How quickly you have forgotten that there were no inspections for five years and only the threat of war brought about their resumption. Threats of war at some point have to be made good, else they do not threaten.

    On an irrelevant subject, unsubstantiated accusations are not a “outing”.

  22. again with Gabrial attacks a strawman. Will you stop this ad hominem? Dr. Jean Bart holds several PhDs and is French, so he know more than you. deal with it.

  23. Gabriel Hanna,

    All people have to do is visit the Command Post and my claims will be verified. In fact, to be frank, its people like you, who are so willing to trade in vicious personal attacks, that made the Command Post the swamp of vapidness and inanity that it is today.

    As to the issue of forgetting, since I’ve stated here several times that despite the five year hiatus, the program was NOT re-constituted, your point is severely undermined. Are you going to start the lies here as well? *chuckle*

  24. Forgive me for misunderstanding you, Jean Bart. You are saying, it seems, that not even inspections were necessary because Saddam was not able to get the programs as far along as he’d had them before?

    So, all we had to do was nothing, and he would never have got anywhere? That seems an awful lot of faith in either Saddam’s goodwill or incompetence.

    The Kay report clearly shows that Saddam was doing his damnedest to reconstitute his programs. The programs he was forbidden to attempt to reconstitute.
    As for the other subject one of us seems bound and determined to keep bringing up–well, you can say aything you want about me, and you can charatcerize things I have said elsewhere anyway you want. It is not a substitute for argument and only makes you look bad. I’m not ashamed of anything I’ve put up elsewhere. It seems to me, that if it’s so obvious what I say at CP that a casual inspection would reveal my propensity for argument ad hominem, then it would not troubleyou to produce a quote. Rather than unsubstantiated smears.

    I would like to think that this is the last time you attack my personality. I think I will be disappointed.

  25. Iraq was/is an unjust war. US defense should be should only be used for, oh gee what was it?… raping third world nations, no… Muscling foreign countries into support US policy, no… Oh right I remember: DEFENDING THE US

    Whatever Saddam was amassing or whomever he was torturing does not justify going to war with Iraq. The lack of WMD/Nukes/Al Qaeda in Iraq demonstrates that there is no lie too reprehensible, no consequence too bloody for this administration. There is an axis of evil and it runs through 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

  26. “Forgive me for misunderstanding you, Jean Bart. You are saying, it seems, that not even inspections were necessary because Saddam was not able to get the programs as far along as he’d had them before?”

    No, I am not saying that. But I do appreciate your love for spin though. I am saying that even without the inspections, but with the embargo and other pressure put on Saddam’s regime, that his efforts had not led to anything fruitful.

    Sure it states that his regime made said efforts, but the equally valid point is that despite this the report indicates nothing had come of them, even without the inspectors. The most damning thing it can say is that Saddam had a “cadre” of individuals who could reconstitute such a program, not that such a program actually existed and was pumping out bio-weapons.

    Of course all of this ignores the basic issue of whether Iraq would have used these weapons against the US, or the West in general. Which is of course the leap of faith the Bush administration wanted everyone to adopt. That no ties have been found between Saddam and Al Qaeda, or any other terrorist organization that I know of, except the funneling of money to the families of suicide-bombers who have attacked Israel, i think further illustrates the leap of faith Bush wanted us to make.

    What you have here is a series of coulds and shoulds that lead to shaky syllogism to justify this war. Now people can accept the syllogism and be honest about it; I however do not accept it.

  27. VOTE: Is Warren a real person (A) or just a robot posting’s talking points (B)?

    My vote is for B.

  28. Jack of Shadows,

    Nor more of a bot than Ray. 🙂

  29. Jean,

    “inspections, while not perfect in their findings, seem to have adequately kept Saddam’s regime in check”

    Are you saying Saddam did not compensate the families of suicide terrorists in Israel? Or is that your definition of “in check” or “adequate”?

    and your next post:

    “However, given the lack of evidence of actual production of WMDs”

    Evidence of hiding the programs isn’t enough? You need to see PRODUCTION results? Isn’t that like saying the finding of 200 pot plants in an attic isn’t evidence of production of marijuanna because it isn’t in little plastic bags yet? (not that I would object to that particular activity…)

    Full discolsure: I do not have a Phd and am not a BMF besides either.

  30. hey jack troll,

    are you suggesting that doubts about the war are simple parroting? both sides seem pretty good at that. just look at all the people who think that iraq caused/ actively participated in 9.11.

    for non-true believers in the 1998 letter to clinton, the case for war was important. The President was unsuccessful in convincing me of his case for war, for example. Had WMDs been found, however, i would reconsider. Because they’re not found yet, and if they’re never found, i do worry about the legitimacy of the war. Naked aggression without cause is pretty much anti-american.

    all the while, the reality is that we’re in there, like it or not, and that we have to deal with everything that comes. i hope that we do well. my cousin Ben is over there now (he sent a cool pic of his team in some ornate room somewhere in baghdad), and i want him to come home safely and successfully to a proud welcoming home (even though he’s a packers fan…)

    clearly the entire western power structure believed that iraq was hiding or trying to acquire WMDs. That is a big point. Not finding them raises serious questions about the ability to gather intelligence. It is also, for future situations, a fair question to wonder if pre-emption was the best strategy.

    we made some pretty big mistakes after the first war. i hope we don’t muck about and screw things up this time, too.

    on that note, what are some courses of action you think we should do to facilitate the successful transition of power (note the “PhD style of writing there, grin)? how can we accomplish our goals?

    ‘cuz either way, we’re there, and i want to see our side successful. if it turns out that there are hidden WMDs, great! if we don’t find them, the WMD was a huge component of the case for war. that’s all the more reason to do a great job with the reconstruction!

    but to suggest that the concerns about the justification for war, or at least the part that was based on the actual physical WMDs, are mindless — that’s a bit robotish, too.

    (bracing for the flames)

  31. Well color me piqued.
    For the record, I am a real person (albeit of the neo-zoom-max-dweebie stripe). I don’t read and only post on H&R. I’ve posted on any number of topics. Sometimes I’m even insightful and well received. This Iraq thing is a bugger though. I’m so bent out of shape about it that I can’t seem to manage either constructive contribution or silence.

  32. “Are you saying Saddam did not compensate the families of suicide terrorists in Israel? Or is that your definition of “in check” or “adequate”?”

    You are going to have to explain how this is a serious threat to France. Because it isn’t; in fact, it is no threat at all (and please don’t spout John Donne at me). The fact that he did such things has never seemed to me an action which would be a point in favor of war, except for Israel that is.

    “Isn’t that like saying the finding of 200 pot plants in an attic isn’t evidence of production of marijuanna because it isn’t in little plastic bags yet?”

    Unfortunately your analogy doesn’t work; as there is not even evidence of the production of WMDs (which is what your pot plants represent), much less the placement of them in shells or other devices (the bags).

  33. Warren,

    That’s ok; righteous indignation has its own merits. 🙂

  34. China has nukes. Why don’t we attack them?

  35. Dear Warren and David: I get annoyed by the cliched mindless rhetoric, that is all.

    I visted this site because I read Reason magazine, which I find to be very intellegent and hoped to find similar discussion here. I didn’t say anything about my position on the War and WMDs but my opinion on Libertarians using braindead propaganda like the Leftists do is that it really gets me annoyed!

    Have wonderful Friday.

  36. hi jack of Shadows,

    how is questioning the war mindless rhetoric?

    how is calling warren an antiwar robot contributing to any intelligent debate? instead of doing that, you came off like a heil-bush robot. that’s not what warren’s about, that’s not what you’re about. c’mon in and discuss. i’ll pour the beers, and we can maybe figure this out.

    the use of braindead propaganda, as i noted earlier, comes flying from all sides. the knee-jerk noam chomsky sides and the all hail bush sides are equally guilty. and equally annoying.

    that’s why the question about the “gassing his own people” comment i find to be a particularly bad rationalization: the kurds are not “his people”.

    it’s the same as the knee-jerk anti yugoslavia people: “it’s a civil war” that totally disregards the facts of the area. (for the record: i was against that action by the us)

    yes, the “war is bad mmm-kay” is annoying, but the “bush is a god fearing man, so i believe everything he says” is frighteningly robotic, too.

    discussing whether the war was just based on certain parameters (we were given them by the President) and then removing or questioning the parameters is fine — as long as we remember that we ARE there. But that’s all part of discussing. saying “okay, since there are actual, physical WMDs are there, i support this”. well, until they’re found, that justification is under a questionmark (which Dr Evil’s dad invented, of course).

    are you suggesting that any questioning of the war or having doubts of its justification because one of the main reasons is not verified yet, is brainless? as i understood the justifications, terror was one, WMDs was another. The iraq-al kaida link i never believed. that seems like pure bullshit. but what, 70% of the population believed iraq/9.11. What happens if no WMDs are found? yes we’re there. that doesn’t change. what does change, however, is the credibility of the administration. that is important. I am an american. i don’t want the credibility of the country to go to shit because of some sort of peverse neocon fantasy gone awry. so, yes i do hope, since we’re there, we do confirm our justifications.

    but what if we don’t? i had expected to find WMDs already, and i had expected SH to use them as the last act of a desparate man (or the first act of henry the fifth). the spiteful europeans won’t let us forget this. all of the “i told you sos” we’re gonna get. do you want that? i don’t either.

    basaically, i don’t understand how you would want intelligent commentary on the war without questioning it or without discussing what steps are going on now. Accepting the war just cuz is most certainly not an intelligent starting point.

    have a great friday and GO CUBS!

    please share some thoughts on this!!!


  37. “I’m absolutely sure that there are weapons of mass destruction there and the evidence will be forthcoming. We’re just getting it just now.” -Colin Powell

  38. I would say, Jean Bart, that your faith in Saddam being too incompetent to reconstitute WMD programs that were working once, or in his having the goodwill not to use WMD when he had them, as he had in the past, is a rather unacceptable leap of faith.

    I wonder, if French troops had invaded the Rhineland when the Germans went back there, in violation of their post-war obligations, would we be hearing the same sort of talk about “would’ves and should’ves” not being enough to justify war? Probably. The menace you avert can always be characterized as not being a real menace. After all, it was averted, was it not? Of course, such a chracterization relies exculisvely on hindsight.

    The fact is, Saddam was not allowed to even HAVE weapons programs and he was certainly not allowed to conceal them or deceive inspectors. On that ground alone, the war was justified, as Saddam’s abandonment of these programs and cooperation with inspectors was required by the terms of the ceasefire, as a cursory inspection of the relevant UN resolutions shows. Whether the Security Council had the will to actually enforce the resolutions it enacted doesn’t detract from that. If people want the UN to end up like the League of Nations, I suppose it will end up that way, but those who profess to believe that the UN should be an effective international organization should be glad, I think, that someone who defied the UN for twelve years was brought to heel.

    Whatever. What is most important, I think, is that Saddam’s tyrrany is ended. That is unquestionably a moral good. The world is a better, cleaner place without him. It would be nice if we could get all the tyrants, but we have to start somewhere and the worst should have priority…

  39. Dear David: You are presuming too much. I don’t know Warren and his poistions (which is really my point). My post was a snarky response to his post. “Raping 3rd world countries”? Gimme a break, you sound like some High Schooler who is reading Chomsky.

    “There is an axis of evil and it runs through 1600 Pennsylvania Ave” – almost sinks to parody. I see these type of posts all the time and wonder if they are practical jokes or robots. Either way they taint any thoughtful discussions. I just thought Libertarians were above that (and I am just assuming you are or have interest since you are here).

  40. hi gabriel!

    one thing about the rhineland — certainly the french should have moved. i don’t see the analogy holding (if there were physical weapons, i do, but i see what you’re talking about is a suspicion that the germans would take the rhineland being justification enough).

    now, i appreciate that you feel that the violation of the cease fire was justification enough to stop the cease fire. fine. why now? why feed the rumors about al kaida? why not simply use that? why all the other games? why wasn’t that a campaign issue? why weren’t there more clamorings apart from the now infamous 1998 letter to clinton during the inbetween years? why were many republicans skeptical about the potential feb 1998 war?

    i totally agree that iraq violated the UN resolutions, and the, what was it the 9.20.2002 resolution by the security council saying “last chance”. however, the UN basically backed down. the US was acting on behalf of the UN last time. the un, a democratic organization on paper (EMPHASIZE ON PAPER), voted not to use force. and we choose to go against that this time.

    we played with the un once, but not again? there are some leaps of faith here that i don’t follow. as for “moral justification”, well, i’m not a conservative, so the “moral equivalence” and “government enforces morality” don’t really resonate too well with me. Why now? why wasn’t it a campaign point? if this were so dangerous and what you’re saying is true, why wasn’t it a campaign point? why wasn’t the President moving in this direction earlier? those are problems with this line — it’s inconsistent with the administration’s behavior until post 9.11.


  41. hi Jack of S.


    and presuming too much was…?

    either way, i see. thanks. yes an interest in discussing the issues from a libertarian point of view is of course why i suscribe to the magazine and read stuff here. the choamsky robotic response bothers me just as much as the “i believe everything the president says because he’s religious” school. as a cato-institute style libertarian, i do question the motivation of the adminstrations. i do not feel pre-emption without good justification is appropriate. i do wonder about the justifications for this war. i do wonder about the timing. i do wonder about the trustworthiness of this administration. man oh man. the previous administration was another example of one that needed watching all the time, too.

    all too often this debate turns to catch phrases such as “axis of evil in america” (there’s a car across the street with a bumper sticker saying basically that) to “gassed his own people” or “babies thrown out of incubators”.

    i don’t trust clinton supporters to give the President a fair shake on issues, but i trust the blind president supporters to be equally closed minded and narrow. putting a questionmark by major foreign policy decisions and demanding a reasonable level of proof or argumentation for the position is not too much to ask. i happen to feel that the current administration’s case has not been proven out yet. for the sake of the country’s future ability to lead the world, i hope something good happens in post war iraq.


  42. Grabriel Hanna,

    Its always nice to trot out the “only if the French had invaded the Rhineland” trope, but unfortunately it doesn’t meet up very well with the history of what actually happened. The reason France did not invade was simple: the British would not back them in this endeavour, and there was no international support for it. Without these things, France had very little hope of acting – as was the case in WWI, France, because she was dwarfed by Germany in population and war-making capacity (you’ll find that France and Britain together only equalled Germany’s war-making capacity – I can point you to scholarly works on this issue if you would like), and din’t have a moat surrounding her as Britain did, had to keep in step with her her allies – primarily with Britain.

    As to Saddam being another Hitler, which is essentially what this trope is supposed to illustrate, and being as dangerous as Hitler was, Saddam’s regime had neither the economic or the technical ability to be such a threat – nor the natural resources or the industrial capacity to be so either.

    As to Saddam’s incompetence, I would say that the stories we hear about scientists faking results for continued funding is fairly illustrative of such.

    Sure Saddam was not allowed to have such equipment by UN mandate; but that in itself is hardly a justification for a pre-emptive (or preventative) war. In fact, if it had been a justification, then the delays and stalling in the first year of the inspections regime should have brought a war on. Violating UN mandates are no justification by themselves for action; partly because UN mandates by themselves are often show pieces of inaction. And to be frank, when right-wingers start justifying their ideas via some ideal of the UN as a world peacekeeper, I can’t help but laugh, given their tendency to be hostile to the UN in other circumstances.

    As to the whole “the world is better place now, please don’t question us anymore” line of argument, I would argue that this at best a cop-out, and at worst an effort to bullshit people. in fact, its a bit like Blair’s “history will vindicate us” line of reasoning – which is itself a cop-out – because while that may be the case, I’m not going to be so foolish as to trust as a lamb to slaughter that this will be the case.

  43. BTW, France mobilized forces several times during the 1930s when it seemed like a good time to invade Germany; but as we could never get our partner Britain to go along, and as we could not go it alone against the Germans, we didn’t invade. In fact, in 1938, Britain’s Chamberlain not only fucked the Czechs, but also France; our alliance with the Czechs was undermined by Chamberlain because Britain would not support our 1938 mobilization efforts – France was committed to going to war at that point if the British had joined with us.

  44. hey Jean Bart, probably everybody else has gone home for the day.

    thank you (merci!), Gabriel Hanna, Jack of S., Warren, Ruthless, Trainwreck, Stephen F, et al for very interesting, stimulating discussions today. all have a great weekend!

    and GO CUBS!


  45. drf,

    I am writing an article for a journal; I never go home. Well, that and I am drinking a nice merlot – Mommessin from France.

  46. Shit, this is like going to a tittie bar with a bunch of blind guys and then listening to them play is-she-hot-or-not when they get a pat on the head.

    Saddam’s connection with 9-11 is indirect, unintentional, and utterly obvious to anyone who bothers to step back and look for a second.

    Iraq invades Kuwait, and threatens to invade Saudi. OBL says, “I will save you Saudi Arabia. I have many muhajadeen fighters with nothing to do after they kicked the ass of the Great Russian Satan out of Afghanistan.” Failing to mention the crucial role of the US and its stinger missile in this victory, OBL is turned away by the Saudiis, who then turn to the US for help. The US, with approval and even a little bit of help from the UN, goes and kicks Iraq out of Kuwait.

    The US begins to plan a move on Iraq, to get rid of Saddam, using air support and in-house ground troops. The UN whines, Bush’s balls shrivel and the opposition gets slaughtered. Even better, we now have to set up shop in Saudi to keep an eye on this nutcase, as Saddam begins his decade long game of hide the salami-of-mass-destruction with the UN inspectors. Off in a corner we see OBL, his pride hurt (she picked Uncle Sam over me) and his religious indignation peaked (infidels? in the holy land? something must be done).

    So OBL starts up a club and gets lots of members, they declare war on the US (in ’93) and begin a series of deadly yet scattered and sometimes incompetent attacks. Finally, eight years later, they hit paydirt and pull off the big one. So ask yourself these questions. If Saddam hadn’t invaded Kuwait, would the towers have come down? If Saddam, had left when the UN/US amassed troops in the region and told him to, would the Pentagon have gotten that big hole? If Saddam hadn’t played dick,dick,goose with the UN inspectors for years, neccesitating US troops set up babysit-the-nutjob duty in the Holy Land would there have been a big burnt patch in a field in PA?

    Any kindergarten teacher will tell you, if you have a class full of rowdy kids, there’s bound to be a few who are the instigators. If little Johnny instigates trouble and he’s clear across the room when the trouble results in little Mary getting her nose bloodied, should he be in any trouble? Now what if he continues?

  47. very nice.



    bon-fin-de la semaine… (“un” ou “une” semaine?)

    Tu sais: Bon week-end.


  48. Yes, Saddam’s links to 9/11 are clear.

    Even clearer though are the links of the Reagan administration that funded Bin Laden and helped im to become a hero. Far clearer links (albeit unitentional). We must invade Reagan’s ranch in California !!!

  49. Jean Bart, you make my point for me.

    OF COURSE France was not backed by the international community when she should have been. Neither was the US now. And I never said Saddam was another Hitler or going to be one. However, my point remains: in hindsight, had Hitler been thrown out of the Rhineland there would be people who would say it was unjustified and a war of aggression. In hindsight, we know better. Had we done what we should have done, we would not know better. That is my point exactly.

    As for the Al Qaeda connection, Saddam is unquestionably linked with Al Qaeda. Was there operational cooperation? Probably not. The Administration never said there was. But Saddam was an accessory before and after the fact.

    Regardless of whether or not you accept that Saddam and Al Qaeda aided each other, Saddam’s aid to Hamas and Hezbollah and Ansar al-Aqsa is well-established fact.

    In regard to your question, “why Iraq, why now,” the answer is obvious. Until 3,000 dead showed us state-supported terrorists could strike our home soil, the problem of terror-funding states never seemed particularly urgent to most of us. Now it does. Since Iraq already had all these “outstanding warrants” so to speak, why not close it down? Some, of course, think differently. The UN, of course, likes to talk but doesn’t like to act. As goes the UN, went the League of Nations.

    As for the moral thing, I didn’t say you should stop questioning the war because Saddam’s tyranny is over. Why don’t you respond to the things I say, not the words you put in my mouth? All I ask is for an acknowledgement that

    world – Saddam > world + Saddam

    I don’t think it’s too much to ask. The people of Iraq are unquestionably better off. US Marines will not shoot Kurdish children by the hundred and throw their bones in holes. There is no US government functionary whose job description includes “violator of women’s honor”. There are no prisons for the children, aged 2 and up, whose parents have committed thoughtcrime.

    Jean Bart, are you willing to say the world is a better place with Saddam ruling Iraq? If you are, I will cease trying to argue with you, as there will be no common ground for argument.

  50. Saddam was an “accessory before and after the fact” to Al Qaeda. What proof of that is there ? Zero.

    Saddam aided Hamas and Hezbollah. True. Musharraf aids terrorists in KAshmir, and Pakistan midwifed the Taliban. Are we throwing him out ? No, we’re giving him $3B.

    Of course the world is a better place without Saddam. But war, which is the gravest decision a president can make, should not be fought on the basis of lies. War with Iraq was fought on the basis of a lie (links to Al Qaeda) and a gross exaggeration (imminent threat of WMDs). Turns out there are no WMDs. There is no justification for an American President lying to the people on matters as important as war. It wasn’t excusable for the Gulf of Tonkin, its not excusable now.

  51. Gabrield Hanna,

    Essentially you argument boils down to the world is better without Saddam. The problem with that argument is that world world mighte better off without a lot of people, yet no one is going to use that as a cassus belli all the same.

    As to the Rhineland issue, again it is not comparable. You have no special foresight which allows you to know what Saddam would have done as far as being an international threat is concerned. And to be frank, its foresight that’s really the issue here, not hindsight. There are innumberable examples of tinpot dictators being left to their own devices who did not rain catastrophe upon the world, yet Saddam is supposed to be the one who breaks the mold? If its hindsight that you want, then there is plenty of hindsight that demonstrates that you are wrong.

    “As for the Al Qaeda connection, Saddam is unquestionably linked with Al Qaeda.”

    In what dreamworld would that be? Regarding Hamas, and Hizbollah, those organizations don’t sponsor terrorism in France or the US as far I know; they are Israel’s problem. If Israel wants to fight Iraq over that issue, fine by me. Regarding Ansar al-Aqsa, whatever connection Saddam’s regime had to them is unclear, and at best not very substantial given Iraq’s inability to control the region they were in.

    “Until 3,000 dead showed us state-supported terrorists could strike our home soil, the problem of terror-funding states never seemed particularly urgent to most of us.”

    Of course the problem is that there has yet to be evidence that Iraq actually funded terrorism in the last decade; the CIA (which admittedly is an error-prone agency, especially regarding claims of actual WMDs in Iraq) said this was the case. If that is your aim, well your targetting abilities suck.

    With regard to the UN, again I repeat my comments: when American conservatives start to use UN resolutions as means to support their positions, I am know they are being duplicitous.

    The implication was that all debate should stop; just as Blair’s statement implied such – which is essentially a way of ducking hard questions.

    I don’t know if the world is a better place with Saddam out of power – it could be that America’s actions could make matters worse in the short and long term – and to be frank, given what are at best conflicting reports out of Iraq, whether the situation is better or worse there at this point is a muddled picture. Yes, no state security agency exists anymore to slaughter Iraqi citizens, but unemployment continues to climb and other social issues fester. Also, given America’s generally poor record at nation-building in places where there wasn’t something to work with to start with, I think its reasonable to state that simply because the US intervenes does not mean that everything will turn up roses.

  52. Jean Bart-

    You say “I don’t know if the world is a better place with Saddam out of power”.

    Of course it is. The removal of Saddam Hussein is an unqualified positive. Don’t discredit the antiwar position by claiming otherwise.

    Now, the net effect of the war may be negative, nonetheless, due to other complications. Argue that all you want. In fact, you do argue that the complications are the sticky aspect of it. But don’t give the pro-war side any ammunition with clumsy statements like “I don’t know if the world is a better place with Saddam out of power”. Because if the only outcome of the war were the removal of Saddam it would be an unqualified good. The problem is that there are other effects as well.

  53. Actually, I have to take back some of what I said.

    It could very well be that 10 years from now we’ll look back and see that whatever complications arise from this war turned out to be minor in the long run. It could very well be that 10 years from now we’ll be able to say with the benefit of full hindsight that the war was a good thing.

    But the decision to go to war has to be made based on information available before the war. And going into the war it was not at all clear that the complications would be minor. There were very grave concerns going in, there may still be grave concerns now, and our leaders didn’t give careful thought to those concerns.

    They did this just because they wanted to, not because duty compelled them to. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I think governments should only fight wars when they have to, not when they want to.

  54. one thing about the WMD “controversy” in iraq is that in the 90s, everybody believed that iraq had them. all of a sudden, they’ve disappeared? how did they get destroyed? where’s the evidence that these weapons 1) existed and 2) were or weren’t destroyed?

    how about this (hopefully) dead former dictator made it all up as a way of protecting himself? i didn’t say he was a smart (hopefully) dead former dictator. but did he make this up?

    citing the article: “Kay said interviews with Iraqi scientists confirmed that the Iraqi leader remained committed to acquiring atomic arms, perhaps after U.N. sanctions were lifted”

    that seems like a good premise from which to start. and everybody believed it at some point.

    going back through the years, even the cato institute cites the potential threat to the region of a WMD powerful iraq. and we all know their stance on the war, now.

    Sec of State Albright and Prez klinton (sic) also kept that dialogue going. hell, in feb 1998 WMD threat and un inspections almost got us involved in a war back then. Old news, sure. but the clinton administration’s role in this (maybe) myth of WMDs seems forgotten in the pages of the ny times.

    if the WMD issue were indeed a red herring, it most certainly is not the current administration’s lie — they were continuing it, to be sure, but so was the rest of the western world, including germany — the FAZ article from last summer about the “piefkes” being worried about quantities of smallpox potentially in the hands of the iraqis.

    the seeming about-face taken by the dems and WMD as told the clinton administration is one of the most maddening parts of this whole affair.

    happy friday,

  55. Like a recipient at the Academy Awards I don’t know where to start:

    First, as someone who opposed GWI on the grounds that; (we = the USA or the american people: not me personally, see reference to Lone Ranger joke elsewhere)

    1) We did not have a dog in that fight. What differerence did it make which tyrant we purchased “our” oil from?

    2) If the invasion of Kuwait was a problem, why was it not primarily a problem for the Kuwaitis or the Saudis (and for that matter the Jordanians and the Syrians, and Turks?).

    3) The involvement of the US would be seen as an hostile action towards Arabs that needed an hostile response, including terrosist responses in the USA. (I was not shocked by the WTC (9/11) attacks, only surprised, by when they happened. If you stir up a hornet’s nest long enough, they will sting you).

    Second, as someone who opposed GWII on the grounds that;

    1)See no 1 above.

    2) see no 2 above; If So Damn Insane represented such a threat to his neighbours then why the hell didn’t they deal with it?

    All the pre-WWII questions I leave for the rest of y’all,{(except for M. Bart who I would like to hear from some more, that deal about the betrayal of the Czechs??)}.

  56. WMD never should have been a justification for war.
    WMD control is no different from gun control.
    The issue should have been avoiding provoking those with WMD. Instead our “foreign policy” consists primarily of painting a target on the back of every American.

  57. >>WMD control is no different from gun control.

    Of course it is libertarian to not be concerned of Murder-Statists owning weapons that will kill millions of individuals. Disarming Saddam is no different that preventing a battered women from owning a handgun.

    And besides, Saddam OWNED Iraq right? it was his property. We had no business trespassing on his legally homesteaded property and freeing his legally owned slaves. Anyone who disagrees is a neocon.

  58. “The issue should have been avoiding provoking those with WMD. Instead our “foreign policy” consists primarily of painting a target on the back of every American”

    Heavens to Betsy, Ruthless. We wouldn?t want to go provoking those folks with WMDs. I?m with you on that one.

    Perhaps you?d be kind enough to tell me how we ought to go about sucking up to insane, bloodthirsty lunatics with nukes, like Kim Jong Il, to ensure our own safety. We wouldn?t want to do anything that could make him think poorly of us.

    Perhaps if we give him the West Coast. Or offer to donate some missiles so his warheads can reach targets past Seoul and Tokyo. Do you reckon that would make him happy, and keep us from becoming a target?

  59. There’s a big difference between sucking up to somebody and not provoking him.

    It’s “Hello Mrs. Cleaver, that’s a lovely outfit you’re wearing!” vs. “I’m going to stay far away from Mrs. Cleaver.”

  60. Stephen F
    I’m reminded of the old joke about the Lone Ranger and Tonto:
    It’s this “we” way of thinking that’s painting the target.
    You’re speaking to a lone (peaceful) anarchist here.

  61. ruthless may be the type of (“peaceful”) anarhicst that thinks it is libertarian to look away when someone is raping the shit out of helpless women.

    believe it or not but I thought libertarianism was about preventing agression, not ignoring it.

  62. DRF I agree that the corridors of power have been obsessed with Iraq for far too long. But the question last winter came down to this: continue to work with the UN to undermine Iraq, or start a war now.

    This administration is responsible for presenting the issue as an urgent threat that could *only* be dealt with through regime change. Remember, Iraq was wiley, deceptive, and the size of California. The UN was incapable and irrelevant, full of people who use words like “nuance”, thus a coalition of the willing was necessary to save the world from the evil dictator, “before the smoking gun becomes a mushroom cloud”. That was their story, and they are still sticking to it. Problem is, it’s not true.

  63. Hey, I don’t label myself “ruthless” for nothing. I’d lead the charge to rid the world of every steenking “bad” guy.
    All I’m looking for is a workable plan to do it, and I would assume the plan would have called for ridding the worst first?
    “WIFO” Worst in; First out”

  64. JB

    What I meant in the clumsy last sentence of my post was that I am weary of WWII comparisons (Saddam=Hitler etc)to the current situation. Especially when those making them seem to know no more than the popular histories of the various court historians and PBS documentaries. It seems that you actually know what was in the Treaty of Versailles and something about the efforts made in the 20s & 30s to enforce its terms. Therefore I usually find your posts instructive either in the sense of new info or a new take on a subject.

    If anything I am inclined to agree with the German Foreign Minister who compared Bush to Hitler. Hyperbole perhaps, but I think the parallel, attempting to impose one’s notion of a world order, is there.

    I found your reference to the czechs interesting because I understand that the Munich agreement didn’t just say “we will stand by while Germany occupies Czechoslovakia” but threatened military action if the czechs resisted. I did not know that France had actually actively opposed the appeasement.

    BTW does anyone know what became of the ambassador who told Saddam that the US didn’t care if he invaded Kuwait. At least, that’s how he took it.

  65. I would have been surprised if actual WMD turned up. If there really were WMD the government would not have had to concoct such whoppers, like one of Powell’s at the UN: (“valuable intelligence” that turned out to be just a plagiarized grad student thesis. It would have been funny if it hadn’t led to war). For a perspective on how this all could catch up with Bush in the form of the Plame scandal, see Raimondo’s Oct. 3rd column at

  66. The best evidence that Hussein had no usable WMD is simple: He didn’t use them in his final desperate hours of power.

    Now, the only way to know whether they were on the verge of getting usable WMD or if they were light years away is to do the tedious work of searching for the remains of WMD development programs. And searching takes time.

    But we claimed to know a hell of a lot before we went into this. Powell didn’q quite say “We have the exact GPS coordinates of every lab and every piece of suspect equipment.” But he implied that we knew a whole lot from defectors and the case was pretty clear. It seems strange that nothing concrete has materialized yet.

    Of course, the absence of WMD programs doesn’t undermine any of the other reasons for war, which include:

    1) Hussein sponsored Al Qaeda
    2) Hussein was an evil tyrant
    3) Hussein might some day be able to use WMD
    4) Iraq has oil
    5) Hussein tried to kill Bush’s Daddy!
    6) The US government is perfectly capable of reshaping an entire region of the world into a model of peace, freedom, market economics, and tolerance. All it will take is more money for government programs to overhaul the region. After all, look how successful we were in transforming American inner cities!
    7) Bush needed to keep his approval ratings high

    All of the above are ample justifications for a government to use force, and anybody who claims that those assertions are either factually false or wrong on principle is just some sort of leftist who hates America and believes in Big Government. Go back to France Ron Paul!

  67. arjay,

    Well, Britain, and I don’t think this can be emphasized enough, had the ability to make or break a French decision to go to war. In 1938 an offensive by France against the Germans would have been a farce; France neither had the population or the industrial strength to go “toe to toe” as the phrase goes with Germany. In fact, this had been known since the military disaster of the Franco-Prussian war in 1870-1871. This is why all throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries France continued to pursue military alliances with Britain and Russia – it needed these allies to fight the war it knew was to come against the Germans. During the 1930s France attempted to ally itself with several of the eastern European nations, including the USSR – France being the first nation in the “West” to try to do so as I recall. Unfortunately these efforts failed, and by 1936, France was falling back on its old alliance with Britain – and hoping to strike an accord again with the US. France was simply not strong enough to deal with Germany on its own; and given the British willingness to parlay with Hitler in 1938, France could not meet its agreement to defend the Czechs, and rely Britain at the same time, so France folded on the matter. Now I am not excusing French behavior; we should have invaded Germany anyway, because we should have realized how foolish it was to wait on the Britons to make up their minds. But they were playing within the rules of the game at the time, and the rules stated that France couldn’t move against the Germans without British support.

    I think our general weakness against the Germans, and our reliance on static lines of defense, are what cost us in the end.

  68. JB, Indeed, Monsieur,

    The events leading up to WWII are complicated indeed.

    We have the English agreeing to invade CZ to enforce the Munich agreement, the French unable to mobilize a sufficient force, either itself or with it’s allies who have betrayed them, to enforce the terms of the Treaty of Versailles (which was probably excessively punitive in the beginning), the Dutch not knowing what to do, the Belgians (does anyone remember the Monty Python sketch about why we didn’t have a derogatory term for the Belgians), denying the french and british permission to mobilize troops along the Belgian frontier with Germany for fear this would provoke Hitler (my God by 1940 couldn’t everyone figure out what Adolph H. was up to?).

    Of course, we are then left with the confused borders of Europe. I remember crossing from Italy into France on the train and taking some time to realize I was in a different country. One might say Nice is an Italian town rather than a French town (Garibaldi was born there you know), (either way it is one of my favorite places). Also I remember a story on NPR(?) about a WWI memorial ceremony in a town in France (Alsace-Lorraine?) commememorating those who had died for the fatherland (le patrenomie) except (whoa!) these guys were in the German army! because this part of France was in 1914 part of Germany.

    Of course, France (& GB) should have “done something” in 1936-9 to resist Hitler/Nazism/Prussia, but what? You and I have the advantage of 20/20 hindsight and we still cannot be sure of the correct response.

    In the late 1930’s my father was an officer in the US Navy and knew exactly what was in the nation’s and the world’s best interest, by 1945 he was not so sure.

    None of this deals with why the Swedes and the Swiss were able to remain neutral in the face of such evil. That is another story altogether.

  69. I know I strayed far from the subject of Iraq, but I was not the one who started the WWII parellels. I just wanted to square the circle.

  70. I know you cannot square a circle, but I keep trying.

    The trouble is that George “W(Woodrow Wilson)” makes it tough for any one to understand what’s happening.

    I at least I am not a republicon, seeing the leader of my party turn “democrat lite”,(less taxing, more law and order)

  71. Jean Bart

    BTW, I for one am glad that Marshal Petain was not executed, people have to make tough choices, and the old general had to make one more for the republic: after all his friends had deserted him he did what was necessary the for survival of the nation. It is all very well for “young bucks” like de Gaulle to be stirring up trouble in London and Casablanca (and I’m glad they did), it is entirely another for a young machinist trying to support a wife and a baby to be resisting the forces of fascism in his home town somewhere in the interior of France. I for one am not willing to condemn him for “going along to get along” for the sake of his loved ones.

  72. arjay,

    Well, to be frank, short of a guerilla style war as fomented by Franco & co. in Yugoslavia, I don’t know what Frenchmen could do; when there were major efforts at resistance prior to the allies getting close enough to link up with them (resistance fighters liberated much of Britanny this way), they got slaughtered. They simply lacked the weapons and training to go head to head with the Germans (this was partly a result of poor allied unitlization of the French resistance – they never dropped nearly the amount of material to the French resistance as they did to Tito et. al). What they could do is blow up communication and transportation lines in the days before allied assaults, etc., as they did the day prior to D-Day. As I recall something like 1,000 actions were put to the resistance fighters in the interior of Normandy, and there was a 95% success rate. These were mostly sabotaging rail lines and the like; but still deadly, as the bulk of the 30,000 resistance fighters killed in WWII were after June 1944.

    Really what de Gaulle did was what was suggested in the first week of 1940; carry the war to the empire. A large portion of the French Senate and Assembly in fact tried to go along with this plan, but their ship was intercepted out of Marseille by Vichy navy and returned to port. Some of them eventually made their way to London to make up the government in exile there.

    The problem with carrying the war to the empire is that it proved to be monsterously far more difficult to do than de Gaulle I think ever expected; partly because many colonies supported Vichy (mostly African colonies – the colonies in the South Pacific deposed Vichy leaders without support from the Free French) and partly because de Gaulle had a very hard time getting the US after 1941 to deal with him as the leader of Free France – Roosevelt well into 1944 tried to get Petain to switch sides for example. It was only in the weeks after the June 1944 landings, when de Gaulle went liberated France (specifically Bayeuax, France) and Eisenhower recognized de Gaulle as the provisional leader of liberated France that Roosevelt eventually relented. To be frank, one of the reasons de Gaulle always looked warily at the US was Roosevelt’s effort to fuck him over, and de Gaulle was never able to come to some understanding with Roosevelt as he was Churchill in the early 1960s, because Roosevelt died before that was ever possible.

  73. One more comment on de Gaulle, and I will shut up; as I noted above de Gaulle had a very good working relationship with Eisenhower, which is interesting considering that Roosevelt hated de Gaulle. De Gaulle always appreciated this fact, and always liked Eisenhower. The strength of this relationship was demonstrated in May 1960 when the U2 spy flight fiasco was undermining the US position at an international summit in Paris. According to Ike, as qouted in John Eisenhower’s “General Ike,” at this low-point in the conference, de Gaulle whispered to Eisenhower “Whatever happens France is with you.”

  74. Shorter Bush Reply: We didn’t invade Iraq because it had a stockpile of dangerous weapons that threatened the welfare of our citizens. We invaded Iraq because Saddam didn’t fill out for 1826D Subsection S properly.

  75. My point was that other than collaberation which I do condemn I can’t really fault anyone who just kept his head down and minded his own business. I know some Vichy officials did some really nasty things, but I gather that Petain tried to get the best deal he could and keep the peace.

    I got far off topic here, which was denying the parallel with the current situation. Hitler was a real threat to all of Europe and needed to be dealt with. The appeasemnet was shameful. Saddam on the other hand appears to have long since ceased to be a threat to even his neighbors and I think inspections by the UN should have continued and I think everyone on the SC would have gone along. In fact I think Bush made a serious error not going along with Chirac’s plan for armed backup for inspectors.

    Like you I think we’ve worn this one out. I look forward to your comments in future.

  76. EMAIL:
    DATE: 01/19/2004 08:21:16
    What’s on your mind, if you will allow the overstatement?

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