Case Closed?

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Does the much-ballyhooed Weekly Standard piece alleging proof of Iraq–Al Qaeda links provide the definitive evidence hawks have always believed was out there? Nick Confessore at TAPped says there's no there there.

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  1. That’s nice, but he would, wouldn’t he? Julian, I’m more interested in hearing what YOU have to say about it, after examining the evidence, such as it is.

  2. The whole intelligence establishment is rotten as Denmark is the lesson here: From the Joe Wilsons to the Pentagon Hawks, it’s primarily career & agenda driven.

    There’s zero relevance to this memo/story anyway, because the mainstream media has moved on to the “US-in-potential-quagmire” theme, soon to be followed by the “If-it’s-not-a-Jeffersonian-utopia-then-it’s-a-failure” theme.

  3. What constitutes “ballyhoo?” Cheerleading in the libertarian/conservative blogosphere? And what, for Pete’s sake, does it matter whether the article is “ballyhooed” or not?

    I don’t give a good goddamn what the people at TAP think. What’s significant is the deafening silence from the mainstream news media that won’t come anywhere near this story.

    What’s going on here is further evidence of the Clintonian/lawyerian grip on the issue of national self-defense: For the Democrats, it’s all about what’s provable in a prosecution, where the burden of proof is whether the evidence shows someone did something “beyond a reasonable doubt,” or, to plagiarize a phrase, “what the meaning of ‘is’ is.”

    For people who actually believe in self-defense, it’s a matter of whether, in the view of a reasonable person and considering all the attendant circumstances, action was immediately necessary to prevent (“pre-empt”)harm. In most U.S. jurisidictions of which I’m aware, a reasonable doubt on the question of self-defense requires a jury verdict in favor of the person who acted in self-defense.

    The Carl Levins of the world accuse the administration of “cherry-picking” the facts. The facts speak for themselves. Which facts are salient is merely a function of philosophy. Either you believe in self-defense or you don’t. And the Democrats don’t.

  4. If there was such evidence, wouldn’t the Bush administration use it?

    I’ve asked this on Command Post, and tended to get rather moronic and snarky non-answers to my query.

  5. “For people who actually believe in self-defense, it’s a matter of whether, in the view of a reasonable person and considering all the attendant circumstances, action was immediately necessary to prevent (“pre-empt”)harm.”

    So, Steve… you believe that Iraq was an immediate threat to the US? You actually think that is reasonable? More of a threat than Iran or North Korea? Some of us who actually believe in self defense feel like a bogus war against a country that had no ability or reason to attack us is a waste of resources. Look at Afghanistan now… We are losing Afghanistan so that Bush can put on a show in Iraq. Every GI and dollar in Iraq is one NOT fighting the real enemy.

  6. Out of curiosity, Jean Bart, did you actually read the memo that the Weekly Standard published?

    The evidence is there and pretty much speaks for itself. It’s circumstantial, and obviously doesn’t *prove* anything, but it’s certainly strong enough to rebut the people (Garry Trudeau comes to mind) who have insisted that it’s “Case Closed” with the opposite conclusion.

    My best two guesses as to why Bush didn’t use any of the contents of that memo:

    1. For whatever bureaucratic reason, the contents of the memo didn’t actually reach him. (Remember the evidence/suspicions that lower-level FBI people had about the September 11 hijackers…)

    2. Going public with the contents of that memo would have jeopardized an ongoing undercover investigation.

    Both are just speculation but neither would surprise.

  7. If “Democrats don’t support self-defense,” then why solid majorities support the invasion of Afghanistan?

  8. What Nick at TAP says is this is the same stuff we’ve seen before. I agree–we’ve seen extremely strong proof of the AL-Qaeda/Iraq connection before and here it is again. Nick et al have no explanations why it’s wrong. Their only arguments is “since we’ve seen it before it’s old news so who cares.” Worse are arguments like The Merovingian’s (why hasn’t Bush used it if it’s any good?) which rely on the circumstantial and completely avoid taking on the actual evidence. Until someone can refute these corroborated claims, I’d say rational people have to admit there’s probably a strong connection.

  9. “The evidence is there and pretty much speaks for itself.”

    Very little in this world “speaks for itself.” And people that claim that something “speaks for itself” are in my opinion either liars or idiots.

    Yes I did read it; I didn’t find it convincing. And I can by conjecture assume that the Bush administration didn’t find it convincing either, because they didn’t use the information contained inside the “secret memo.”

    My metric is fairly sound; if the Bush administration didn’t use the information contained in the memo, then it is likely either untrue or at least unconfirmable.

  10. That has to be one of the most substanceless “debunkings” I’ve ever read, more substanceless than the Pentagon’s non-denial. He’s relying on Marshall’s analysis, which especially as of late, has been severely lacking.

  11. Or the pentagon could just be outright lying. Like that’s never happened before. I mean, we’re expected to believe that the Weekly Standard, of all publications, managed to get this “top secret” memo before everybody else, and it all just happens to be true? Too good to be true is more like it.

  12. Nick et al have no explanations why it’s wrong.

    Go here and here and (pre-Standard report, but pretty devastating) here for that.

    Meanwhile, I have to curse John Hood now for preempting two of the chief points of the column I’m working on for tomorrow. Obviously, it’s not impossible that Bin Laden would work with a natural enemy like Saddam — because obviously, he was willing to work with the U.S. when he was in Afghanistan. (Really, that’s the exact comparison I planned to make. Curse you, John Hood!) The trouble is that there really isn’t credible evidence, according to most intelligence analysts, that there were substantial “links” between Iraq and Al Qaeda that were more serious than communication — certainly nothing to indicate that Iraq was involved in the 9/11 plot.

    More to the point, the only thing that could make anti-American allies out of such natural foes is U.S. policy towards Iraq, which turned a dictator with regional ambitions into a national enemy. Al Qaeda has ideological reasons to hate the United States. Saddam had no more reason than the folks who run Burma or Moldova or Eritrea.

  13. So Bush is right because the evidence here backs him up but Bush is wrong because he didn’t use all this specific evidence in his public statements. Ay-yi-yi…

  14. “I mean, we’re expected to believe that the Weekly Standard, of all publications, managed to get this ‘top secret’ memo before everybody else, and it all just happens to be true?”

    Yeah and Sean Hannity “just happened” to get some memo that’s obviously a lie… I’m sure Jay Rockefeller denied it… oh wait…

  15. Hood – Sorry if I am not as sophisticated as you. The link is weak. Ideological and religious differences have something to do with it. bin Laden did volunteer his base to fight Saddam. Grow up and blow me.

  16. jesse, why don’t you accepet that his regional ambitions (lets lay aside his genocide) is what turned him into a national enemy of the US?

  17. Drum and Yglesias’ posts are rather weak, attacking Feith instead of the info itself.

  18. “lets lay aside his genocide”

    Are you trying to become a self-parody?

  19. Oop, think I misunderstood. Scratch that last post.

  20. Drum and Yglesias put the Feith memo in the stovepiping context. The Monthly article gives some very valuable background on larger effort to tie Osama and Saddam together. Obviously I can’t refute the Feith memo (or declare it conclusively refuted) without knowing a lot more about the intelligence he’s relying on; just as obviously, I can’t declare, as the Standard did, that the case is closed.

    As for Saddam’s regional ambitions — well duh, of course that’s what turned him into an enemy of the US, but only because both parties are dominated by people who think it is the US’s duty to micromanage the balance of power in the Middle East. Some of us, on the other hand, think that project’s been more trouble than it’s worth.

  21. Kinda hard to criticize Hayes for saying “case closed” when you’re hearing it everywhere else on the other side. Nonetheless, Drum, Yglesias, et al.’s “analyses” just don’t amount to much of a refutation at all.

  22. >>Some of us, on the other hand, think that project’s been more trouble than it’s worth.

    sure, if your car runs on water, you don’t give a shit about mass murder of people by a dictator, not give a fuck if that dicatator develops weapons to sell to terrrorists, is you think it is spanking cool for a dictator to threaten its neighbors……

  23. Kinda hard to criticize Hayes for saying “case closed” when you’re hearing it everywhere else on the other side.

    Why? Do you limit your criticisms based on what “side” people are on? what does that make you?

  24. OBL once offered to protect Saudi Arabia. Therefore it is impossible that al qaeda would attack Saudi.

    OBL once offered to fight Saddam. Therefore it is impossible that al qaeda would work with Saddam.

  25. Is it just a coincidence that Fox News and the ‘Standard,’ are both owned by the same outfit?

    What does Murdoch personally hope to gain by furthering the careers of those currently in the White House?

  26. Mindy, So using your logic OBL could one day be a US ally? That is realistic to you?


  27. OBL once offered to protect Saudi Arabia. Therefore it is impossible that al qaeda would attack Saudi.


    OBL once offered to fight Saddam. Therefore it is impossible that al qaeda would work with Saddam.

    OBL once worked with the US to fight the Soviets. Therefore it is impossible that al queda would attack the US.

    Yeah, that makes sense

  28. “Some of us who actually believe in self defense feel like a bogus war against a country that had no ability or reason to attack us is a waste of resources.”

    “No ability”? You mean that Saddam Hussein isn’t a clever enough man to get, say 5 pounds of anthrax into the United States?

    Well, according to former Secretary of Defense William Cohen, a 5 pound bag of anthrax powder could be used to kill up to half of the population of Washington, DC:

    http://www.tacda.org/resources/ptw/AnthraxFaqSheet-8.html

    I’d say that Saddam Hussein *did* have the ability to sneak a 5 pound bag of anthrax into the United States…given the fact that literally tons of cocaine powder come into the United States every year.

    So I’m wondering how you think Saddam Hussein did NOT have the “ability” to attack the United States?

  29. Mark, In that case we need to wipe out every nation on earth. Of course anyone can sneak in a bag of anthrax. So why not get busy taking out hundreds of nations? Why stop at nations? Individuals could do the same thing. My point is that Saddam was relatively contained. He did not control the airspace of his own country. He was far less of a risk than say North Korea. If he supported any terrorism, it was far less than that of Iran. His link to al-Qaeda was weak to non-existent. If he had had been involved in 9/11 or another terror attack on the US I would support taking him out. But that is not the case. So why Iraq? Because they could sneak in a bag of Anthrax?

  30. Mark,
    Well for one thing a 5 pound bag of anthrax is no threat to the United States. No matter what he did with it he certainly couldn’t have killed as many people as Al-Qaeda did with 4 passenger jet planes.

    Ossama and Saddam were enemies and would have killed each other given half a chance.

    Iraq had no nuclear program and no mean of delivering and WMDs they might have possessed

    Invading Iraq has boosted support for fanatical Islam and put all Americans at GREATER RISK than before.

    The Iraq war was a bad idea.

    Every day it is getting worse.

    C A S E C L O S E D

  31. Warren, please make a single point that makes sense–otherwise you’re not even worth refuting.

  32. “Do you limit your criticisms based on what ‘side’ people are on? what does that make you?”

    Huh? There has been almost no criticism on the left to the many on their sides who have stated as FACT that Saddam was not with al Qaeda. So if Hayes believes the info he received is enough to “close the case,” it’s a bit absurd to attack him for that and ignore the other side, plus it’s rather beside the point (like attacking Feith for instance).

  33. “Warren, please make a single point that makes sense–otherwise you’re not even worth refuting.”

    Warren’s points all make sense. Save your fire for the guy who was talking about cars running on water.

  34. I wish people would understand that the war against Iraq was an optional war; I think that would help both sides a lot.

  35. A few myths about Mohammed Atta and Prague are exploded here too…

  36. JeanBart,

    Please elaborate. I understand it was optional, but how does that help both sides?

  37. “If there was such evidence, wouldn’t the Bush administration use it?” –The Merovingian

    What the heck does “use it” mean? How does one “use” evidence in this context? This ain’t a court of law. You mean, talk about it in speeches? But if they did that certain people would jump all over them (for “lying”). What’s this got to do with whether there’s a connection or not? The fact that Bush doesn’t “use” (i.e. say) “there’s a connection between Saddam-AlQaeda” in speeches doesn’t tell us anything in that regard, unless of course you believe that Bush says every single thing which is True. My guess is they simply have nothing to gain (the war already took place, see? they don’t need a War Powers vote anymore, get it?) and everything to lose (sniping from critics, charges of “lying”, “sexing up” things..) if they “use” (say) these things. But who knows?

    you believe that Iraq was an immediate threat to the US? You actually think that is reasonable? More of a threat than Iran or North Korea? –mork

    Since when did “more of a threat than Iran or North Korea” become the test? For one thing, I don’t know how one measures the Threatness of a country. But assuming that you’ve got a Threatness Measuring Device, and thus you’re right that Iran and North Korea were More-of-threats than Iraq, that doesn’t by itself prove that invading Iraq was a bad idea. There’s also that whole which-country-is-easier-to-invade thing to take into account. It’s not a simple matter of calculating Threatness!

    We are losing Afghanistan so that Bush can put on a show in Iraq. Every GI and dollar in Iraq is one NOT fighting the real enemy. –mork

    Such criticisms would seem more constructive and less disingenuous if they were followed by an explanation of who “the real enemy” *is*. Who are you saying we should invade with the troops we pull from Iraq, mork? Nobody, right?

    He driven by ideology, not alliances of convenience. –mork

    It’s great that you know so much and have so much insight into Osama Bin Laden’s personal motivations and thought processes. Can you explain to the rest of the class, then, why he accepted the help of our CIA back in the ’80s?

    Why would Saddam work with someone who wanted to destroy him? –mork

    Partially, because they wanted to destroy him. Same reason the Saudis (as rumor has it) fund “Al Qaeda”. Or does that confuse you too? Please note the item in the memo about how part of the agreement between Iraq and “Al Qaeda” was that the latter would leave the former alone. Haven’t you ever heard of protection rackets?

    Perhaps some folks from both sides met and talked at some point. Hardly “case closed” on a strategic alliance. –mork

    Maybe not, but that *would* be “case closed” on the question of “whether Saddam Hussein’s Iraq worked with Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda to plot against Americans” (which is what the article actually alleges). Unless of course they were talking about soccer and movies in those talks…?

    My metric is fairly sound; if the Bush administration didn’t use the information contained in the memo, then it is likely either untrue or at least unconfirmable [sic] [unconfirmed?]. –Merovingian, again

    Indeed, the mostly likely answer being the latter (unconfirmed). All agree that this evidence pointing to a linkage is unconfirmed and is not PROOF of a link. But the fact that something is uncomfirmed doesn’t make it false.

    The trouble is that there really isn’t credible evidence, according to most intelligence analysts, that there were substantial “links” between Iraq and Al Qaeda that were more serious than communication — certainly nothing to indicate that Iraq was involved in the 9/11 plot. –Jesse Walker

    Those goalposts just keep moving! Apparently now all of a sudden it’s not enough for there to be links, they have to be “substantial”. One man’s “meaningless links” are another man’s “substantial links”, of course, and which one a person claims seems to depend on which conclusion they prefer. And then all of a sudden even “substantial links” aren’t enough, “Iraq” has to have been involved in the 9/11 plot for us to even care whether they work with an army which has declared war against us! Who writes these rules?

    the only thing that could make anti-American allies out of such natural foes is U.S. policy towards Iraq –Jesse Walker

    “Even if there ARE links, it’s all our fault!” Fascinating.

    Saddam had no more reason [to hate the US] than the folks who run Burma or Moldova or Eritrea. –Jesse Walker

    Except for the fact that we fought a war to drive him out of Kuwait and then proceeded to bomb his country and violate its airspace for 12 years. This point is as dumb as it gets. You’re saying that if the last 12 years of history hadn’t occurred, Saddam wouldn’t have tried to help Islamofascists to kill Americans. Probably not! Good “point”! (rolls eyes)

    If he supported any terrorism, it was far less than that of Iran. –mork

    That’s right, move those goalposts some more… by now does anyone remember what the original issue was? Saddam Hussein’s Iraq worked with Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda to plot against Americans (yes/no)? Of course not.. that’s the point.


    His link to al-Qaeda was weak to non-existent. –mork

    Saying this doesn’t make it true. There is, for example, the evidence presented in the article, most of which hasn’t been refuted at all.

    If he had had been involved in 9/11 or another terror attack on the US I would support taking him out. But that is not the case. –mork

    Ok, so you don’t support our having taken him out. What the hell does this have to do with anything? The issue raised in the Hayes article (“Case Closed”) was “whether Saddam Hussein’s Iraq worked with Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda to plot against Americans”, not whether you support our having taken him out. Can you tell the diff?

    It seems to be a kind of law of nature that this kind of discussion nowadays inevitably, eventually descends into a raw, boneheaded “was the war worth it” back-and-forth. Isn’t anyone interested in whether there was an Iraq/Al Qaeda connection, as a topic in its own right, regardless of whether it “justifies” the Iraq war or not? Besides me, I mean.

  38. One thing which seems to be ovelooked often is that “links with al Qaeda” is not a very well-defined notion. If there were 50 pieces of data about alleged contacts between Iraqis and Qaedians, how many hundreds, or thousands, of data are there about Saudi Arabia, or Pakistan, or Sudan?

    In the absence of evidence that Iraq was actually working to attack the US, the relevant question is not whether there were “links” in some metaphysical or moral sense (as the President seems to feel), but of how substantial and dangerous any such links were.

    And regardless of how many Iraqis met how many Qaedians in the 90s, the file on Iraq is certainly much less impressive than the comparable file on many other countries, including some of our Arab allies.

    This is why it was hypocritical for the hawks to use said links as a pretext for the invasion.

  39. In the absence of evidence that Iraq was actually working to attack the US, the relevant question is not whether there were “links” in some metaphysical or moral sense (as the President seems to feel), but of how substantial and dangerous any such links were. –alma hadayn

    It’s a reasonable enough point, but speaking for myself, I’m interested in whether there were *links*, thank you very much. I hope that’s OK with you.

    Your saying what the “relevant question” is begs the question: Relevant, to what? I assume you mean, “relevant to whether we should have invaded Iraq”. But whether we should have invaded Iraq is not the issue on the table (though it seems to dominate everyone’s thinking), the issue is whether Iraq worked with Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda to plot against Americans. Don’t tell me I don’t have the right to think *that* is the “relevant question”. That question is most certainly relevant, to me (if not to you). Ok?

  40. I certainly don’t begrudge anyone the right to deem “relevant” any question they see fit.

    As for why us America-hatin’ antiwarmongers are so obssessive about rehashing the case for/against the invasion, the reason is simple:

    In my view, the Bush administration’s public case for war was a massive fraud for which there has yet to be accountability in the court of public opinion. I don’t consider the issue dead.

  41. [Iraq war right or wrong]
    I don’t consider the issue dead.

    That’s swell and everything, and is your right, but what the heck does it have to do with the veracity of the contents of the Hayes article?

    That was, you will recall, what this post was about.

    People seem to have a very difficult time separating “were there links and if so what were they” from “Iraq war right or wrong”. This is very troubling. It makes it all the more difficult for the truth to out if so many people can’t even see that those are, in fact, two separate issues.

  42. Since I have never claimed that there are no “links” at all between Saddam and Al Qaeda, Mr. Name’s comments about moving goalposts don’t really apply. I’ve been skeptical about hunts for poorly defined “links” ever since the mid-’90s effort to “link” property rights groups to militias to domestic terrorists, and I have habitually put the word “substantial” before “links” whenever I talk about the alleged Saddam-Osama connection.

    What makes a link “substantial”? As far as I’m concerned, the issue is whether Saddam aided and abetted attacks on American civilians, and whether he was planning to aid future attacks. The most substantial such link, of course, would be involvement in 9/11, which is far from proven. (To point this out is not, pace Mr. Name’s remarks about goalposts, to assert that involvement in 9/11 is the only possible link of substance.) When it comes time to justify a war, mere communication and low-level overlap don’t cut it.

    You’re saying that if the last 12 years of history hadn’t occurred, Saddam wouldn’t have tried to help Islamofascists to kill Americans. Probably not! Good “point”! (rolls eyes)

    Well, those of us who spent the last 12 years criticizing those policies think it’s a significant point. Not because history can be undone, but because the same policymakers are rambunctiously creating yet more enemies.

    People seem to have a very difficult time separating “were there links and if so what were they” from “Iraq war right or wrong”. This is very troubling. It makes it all the more difficult for the truth to out if so many people can’t even see that those are, in fact, two separate issues.

    Just because people are debating both issues here does not mean they cannot tell the two apart.

    A somewhat more complete and hopefully more cogent statement of what I have been attempting to express in this thread will appear on the Reason site tomorrow. Rather than continue this argument now, I invite you to jump on me then.

  43. I can’t speak for Julian, but I don’t think the post attacked the veracity of Hayes’ article; it was directed at the use of the Hayes article in a “See I told you so” fashion by one side in the ongoing war good/bad debate.

  44. Wow, this debate has pretty much gone the way I feared earlier in the day. Lots of semantics, lots of irrelevancies, and lots and lots of “I think I’ll kick up some rhetorical dust so no one notices the inadequacy of my months-long insistence that Saddam and bin Laden could never have worked together.”

    As the anonymous poster has pointed out, you can recognize the significance of the Weekly Standard report without having to conclude that the war was justifed. But because such recognition would constitute at least partial admission of past rhetorical excess, some can’t bring themselves to do it.

    Oh, and Merovingian: all wars are optional. An option commonly taken by some is surrender. I’m not taking a cheap shot: some countries have quite successfully “surrendered” to militarily superior foes and absorbed them over time through cultural and economic hegemony. China and India, for starters. But this strategy is costly, too, as is the option of staying on the sidelines while tyrannical and expansionist states threaten valuable allies, resources, trade, and other interests. You often ending up fighting them, anyway, but at terms far less advantageous than would have been necessary at an earlier point.

    This requires judgments calls. This requires taking risks based on incomplete information. This requires leaders who don’t give a rat’s ass what a bunch of poorly informed rabble shriek at the top of their lungs as they stomp around in foreign capitals that would have suffered mightily over the past century if Americans had not spilled their blood and treasure in what were certainly some “optional” wars.

  45. Since I have never claimed that there are no “links” at all between Saddam and Al Qaeda, Mr. Name’s comments about moving goalposts don’t really apply. –Jesse Walker

    Obviously if what you’re saying is that you concede the basic veracity of the Hayes article, or at least the plausibility of its thesis then my comments don’t really apply. Indeed. It would mean you were changing-the-subject (to “Iraq war right or wrong”), not moving-goalposts.

    When it comes time to justify a war, mere communication and low-level overlap don’t cut it.

    You commit the same error here as alma hadayn. Who was speaking about “justifying a war”? I thought the article was about whether Saddam Hussein’s Iraq worked with Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda to plot against Americans.

    [You’re saying that if the last 12 years of history hadn’t occurred, Saddam wouldn’t have tried to help Islamofascists to kill Americans. Probably not! Good “point”! (rolls eyes)] Well, those of us who spent the last 12 years criticizing those policies think it’s a significant point. Not because history can be undone, but because the same policymakers are rambunctiously creating yet more enemies.

    Great, but if I’m going to listen to a lecture from you about how we’ve “created enemies” and put these people in bed together, it sure would be nice to see a more explicit acknowledgment from you that, you know, these people are in bed together. What you’re trying to do, seemingly, is jump directly to “if they are in bed together, it’s our fault!” without even passing through that whole “acknowledgment that they’re in bed together” phase. But whether they are in bed together is the actual issue under discussion, and the actual issue raised in the article, and some people may actually find it to be relevant in its own right, independent of partisan war-justification or I-told-you-so speechifying.

    [“links” vs. “Iraq war right or wrong”] Just because people are debating both issues here does not mean they cannot tell the two apart.

    When people shift fuzzily back and forth between the two issues depending on which one proves more convenient to their argument at a given time, one can be forgiven for coming to this conclusion.

    Rather than continue this argument now, I invite you to jump on me then.

    🙂 Well, I’ve basically had my say; I don’t see people being able to separate out the “are there links” issue from the “war right or wrong” issue anytime soon. But I do look forward to the article…

  46. Name,

    You very well know what “use” means, as is evidenced by your comments after the query. And your criticisms only illustrated my point; if the Bush administration, which tried for over a year to create such a linkage, doesn’t feel this information is credible enough to use as a means to demonstrate the rightness of their actions, which is you demonstrated, is a plausible inference, then I think it also a plausible inference that one should not put much faith in the accuracy of these claims. Again, you have yet to disprove the adequacy of this metric.

    The Carolingian,

    No, not all wars are optional; one can define some wars as neccessary. But that is a semantical debate.

    “I’m not taking a cheap shot: some countries have quite successfully “surrendered” to militarily superior foes and absorbed them over time through cultural and economic hegemony. China and India, for starters.”

    Hmm, care to give me some more specific historical examples? Regarding India, are you writing about the Europeans or the Mughals? BTW, there was really never an “India” until Britain made one. It was largely the Mughal empire prior to the invasion of the Europeans starting with the Portugese in the 15th century. Re: China – Do you mean the Mongols? Because if that is the case, it was better to fight another day, when the Mongol grip on China had weakened. The same is true for the Russians and their Mongolian “occupiers” (the Mongols never occupied the Kievan, etc. Rus; they merely treated them as vassal states and demand tribute for two-hundred years). So your observation that they have to fight them again is not as much of a criticism as you think it is; since fighting them again can come from a decided position of strength.

    “This requires leaders who don’t give a rat’s ass what a bunch of poorly informed rabble shriek at the top of their lungs as they stomp around in foreign capitals that would have suffered mightily over the past century if Americans had not spilled their blood and treasure in what were certainly some ‘optional’ wars.”

    Let’s take this argument apart piece by piece. First, most European capitals did not suffer mightly in WWI. In fact, there was relatively little devastation to physical structures in WWI outside of the rather narrow warzones. This is especially true on the Eastern front during WWI, which saw no aid or troops from the US during that war anyway. Nor did the US “liberate” Eastern Europe during the peace; countries like Poland did that on their own from 1918-1920 (Poland defeating the USSR in the 1919-1920 war, nearly marching on St. Petersburgh in the process before the Soviets sued for peace). In fact, the drawing up of Eastern Europe was largely after the fait accompli created by the Eastern European nations. The break-up of Hungary, for example, was long these lines; though the Hungarians still falsely blame the Trianon treaty for this, it was in nationalistic fervor of the subject ethnicties of their kingdom that caused such.

    What the US did during WWI was to help France and the UK defeat the Germans on the Western front. However, given that during the main German offensives of 1918, the vast bulk of the soldiers, pilots and and quipment that the Germans still faced were French and British, you can see that it was not so much material support that the US provided, but moral support. And France lost between 1.5-2 million lives during that war. If you are ever in France you should visit the ossuary at Verdun; it is filled with thousands upon thousand of bones of men who could never be identified.

    Now, regarding WWII, the pride of place in that war, if one is to look at national sacrifice, belongs to the Russians, and not to the US. And as far as financial sacrifice is concerned, well, Britain spent an entire empire fighting WWII, permanently emasculating itself as a world power. Thanks America, but you hardly fought the war on your own; in fact, the historically innaccurate claim that the Soviets made in the past about fighting the war on its own has more merit than that American myth does.

    One statistic I’ve always found useful in conveying that is message is the nationality of the men landed during the D-Day. ~85,000 of them were Canadians and Britons (with a few hundred Frenchmen thrown in); ~55,000 were Americans.

    And of course the claim that European capitals would have suffered mightily without US intervention in WWII is a bit of joke; with US intervention they suffered mightly. Warsaw was levelled in 1944 for example, as was Berlin in 1945. London suffered horribly during the Blitz. And there are other examples.

  47. “No matter what he did with it he certainly couldn’t have killed as many people as Al-Qaeda did with 4 passenger jet planes.”

    According to William Cohen, a 5-lb bag of anthrax could kill half of the population of Washington DC. That’s considerably more than Al Qaeda killed with 4 passenger jet planes.

    “Ossama and Saddam were enemies and would have killed each other given half a chance.”

    Yeah, Stalin and Hitler weren’t good friends either. But that didn’t stop them from enslaving or killing a helluva lot of eastern Europeans.

    “Iraq had no…no mean of delivering and WMDs they might have possessed.”

    No means of delivering a 5 lb bag of anthrax? Ever heard of Federal Express? It stuns me when people talk about Saddam Hussein having “no means of delivering” WMD! You truly can’t think of any way in the world to get 5 lb…or 50 lb, or 500 lb…of anthrax from Iraq to the U.S.?! How do you think literally tons of cocaine get into the United States every single year from Columbia? You think they’re using ICBMs?

    “Invading Iraq has boosted support for fanatical Islam and put all Americans at GREATER RISK than before.”

    If that were true (that the invasion “put all Americans at GREATER RISK than before”) then the invasion very clearly would have been a bad idea. But I don’t think the invasion of Iraq has clearly put all Americans at greater risk than before. A key question is whether Iraq will revert back to brutal tyranny. If it does, I would agree that Americans indeed might be at more risk. If Iraq can be turned into a halfway decent democracy–even a country with a free press–I think Americans probably will be safer than before the invasion.

    If you think that radical Islamists are more popular now than they were 6 months or a year ago, I think you’re quite mistaken.

  48. Merovingian:

    Sure went to a lot of trouble not to disprove the content of my little, admittedly snarky, paragraph. Pretty much what I was hoping to provoke. If the neocon conspiracy had set you up as a paid agent to pretend to be a “haughty Frenchman” in web posts, I can’t say I’d be surprised.

    Concisely, on India and China you seem intent on doing little more than smugly asserting your grasp of history. Well, I’d recommend getting a little tighter hold. I wasn’t talking about the Mughals, who as you may know won their regime by repeated feats of arms (Babur’s cannonade and all that), and I wasn’t talking about the Mongols. There is an entire literature in Chinese historical analysis about how China has repeatedly conquered its conquerors, be they the Khitan Lao, the Jurchets (sort of), or various Hsiang Nu incursions. In India (meaning the subcontinent, not the country), the mechanism was a bit different in that the conquering powers (such as the Epthalites, Kara-Khitai and Ghaznavids in portions of the north) kept their language and religion but adapted and blended in other ways.

    Also, if you think “India” was primarily the “Mughal” empire until the Europeans showed up in the “15th century,” you are in desperately need of a map and a timeline. Babur’s conquest of India didn’t even begin until the 1520s, after he had been pushed out of Transoxiana.

    On my remark about “European capitals,” let me be clearer. I wasn’t talking about Prague or Warsaw. I was talking about London and Paris. Both were at risk in WWI and WWII. Come to think of it, one was actually conquered way back then, right? I’m admittedly a little fuzzy about these things.

    Look, if you think that all the U.S. did in WWI was offer “moral support” to Allies already destined for victory, you have a different understanding of the final months of the war than I do. At the very least the eventual peace treaty would likely have been struck on radically different terms. Similarly, if you are in any way suggesting that the American intervention in WWII wasn’t critical in how it ultimately concluded, we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

    Neither was my central point. It was, rather, that Americans on their own soil were never in real danger in WWI and that, if we had wanted, America could likely have avoided involvement in WWII long before American soil (in Hawaii) was struck. But our leaders chose another option. As it happens, I’m kind of sympathetic to the idea that the WWI decision was an unwise one. WWII was a different matter.

    And of course the claim that European capitals would have suffered mightily without US intervention in WWII is a bit of joke; with US intervention they suffered mightly. Warsaw was levelled in 1944 for example, as was Berlin in 1945. London suffered horribly during the Blitz.

    Unless you are being willfully obtuse or worse here, I will take responsibility for not making myself clearer. What I meant to say was that the English and French, not to mention others, would have lived in slavery for many years, or had to shed even more blood than was shed to avoid such a fate, if the U.S. had not intervened. I wasn’t talking about ordinance and craters. I was talking about human lives and freedom — even the freedom to build and maintain a society so decadent and backward that thousands of its elderly citizens could perish in a summer’s heat.

    Oh, and didn’t the Battle of Britain occur before the U.S. intervention?

  49. Mark Bahner,

    “Yeah, Stalin and Hitler weren’t good friends either. But that didn’t stop them from enslaving or killing a helluva lot of eastern Europeans.”

    Well, the plan, or at least as it was envisioned by the Nazi-Soviet pact, was to carve up Eastern Europe between – the Germans not to interfere with Soviet military actions, and vice versa. Until 1941, it went rather smoothly. In fact, the Nazis were the Soviet’s largest trading partner oil wise through that period; and the Germans even sold to the Soviets a portion of the newly conquered Poland in 1940.

  50. “In that case we need to wipe out every nation on earth.”

    Have a bit of accuracy and honesty in your posting. We did not “wipe out” the nation of Iraq. The U.S. government removed Saddam Hussein’s government from power. In the process, thousands and possibly 10s of thousands of Iraqi soldiers were killed. Several thousand innocent civilians apparently were killed. Damage to structures and property were incredibly light. We are *not* talking about anything even close to what happened to Japan or Germany in WWII…or even what happened to Vietnam.

    “Of course anyone can sneak in a bag of anthrax. So why not get busy taking out hundreds of nations?”

    Again, stop with the inaccurate/dishonest word, “nations.” We did NOT take out the “nation” of Iraq. We took out the completely illegitimate totalitarian government of a murdering tyrant.

    As far as other governments…take North Korea (please!). Unfortunately, now that North Korea actually has nuclear weapons, we’re sort of SOL. Maybe we were even before, since Seoul is so close to the North Korean border. No two governments or countries are the same.

    Yes, Saddam Hussein was contained EXACTLY like the Taliban were contained in Afghanistan. Saddan Hussein was protecting one of the 1993 WTC bombers EXACTLY like the Taliban were protecting Osama bin Laden. Except that the difference between Saddam Hussein and the Taliban was that Saddam Hussein had many more billions of dollars of revenue coming in, and much more talented scientists to serve him.

    “He was far less of a risk than say North Korea.”

    That is very debatable. Saddam Hussein had much more money coming in than the government of North Korea. But like I wrote above, we’re screwed on North Korea, because they now have atomic bombs. Saddam Hussein and his sons will not get the chance to develop such weapons. That sounds pretty good to me.

    “If he had had been involved in 9/11 or another terror attack on the US I would support taking him out. But that is not the case.”

    Perhaps you ought to read some Internet news sources. Saddam Hussein protected Abdul Yahman Rasin after Rasin was involved in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing:

    http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/iraq/2003-09-17-iraq-wtc_x.htm

    Does that change your mind?

  51. The Carolingian,

    Your central point was that America won WWI and WWII on its own; that was the tone your statement implied. You just keep backpedaling though; it will make for much amusement. 🙂

    “I was talking about human lives and freedom — even the freedom to build and maintain a society so decadent and backward that thousands of its elderly citizens could perish in a summer’s heat.”

    Well if you are talking about human lives and freedom, why do you leave people to guess at your meaning? Your lack of clarity is not my fault.

    As to the slight against France, one can only wonder how an American could accuse France of being decadant and backward when it is well known that your society allows hundreds of its citizens to roast alive every year in clubs and discos, such as occurred in Rhode Island less than a year ago. And what can we say of a society so decadant and backward that it did not stop terrorists from murdering thousands of its citizens by flying planes into some of its most important business and governmental structures, as was the case on 9/11?

    If you want to say nasty things about France, fine. But I can find equally nasty things to say about the US.

    As to “haughtiness,” well, given that this exchange started with haughty remarks from yourself, let me say one thing – pot kettle: black.

  52. Doesn’t this thread’s evolution into a debate on the history of the first half of the twentieth century take Godwin’s Law to whole new level?

  53. The Carolingian,

    In other words, you are a troll.

    You know what your statements implied; and it is exactly what I said they implied. A liar and a troll. Keep backpedaling.

    “The slight against France was basically another successful attempt to provoke you to confirm your role in this discussion as an odious stereotype. You did so by drawing ridiculous comparisons (to a nightclub accident?) and by blaming America for the 9/11 attacks.”

    Well, if you want to revel in the deaths of Frenchmen, why am I not prevented in reveling in the deaths of Americans? It was you celebrating the deaths of Frenchmen; I merely called you out on that. And how are the comparisons ridiculous? They are no more ridiculous than your statements regarding the deaths of the elderly in France during the heatwave of 2003. If these are to blamed on all Frenchmen and French culture in general, as you appear to imply, why cannot I not blame all the deaths that occurred on 9/11 on all Americans and American culture? The problem is that you are too much of a coward to face up to the logic of your statements.

  54. Let’s compare the Carolingian’s statements:

    This is his original statement on US intervention in Europe during the 20th century: “This requires leaders who don’t give a rat’s ass what a bunch of poorly informed rabble shriek at the top of their lungs as they stomp around in foreign capitals that would have suffered mightily over the past century if Americans had not spilled their blood and treasure in what were certainly some ‘optional’ wars.”

    This is his re-casting of his argument: “No, it did not. It did imply that without the US intervention, each war would either have gone on far longer, been far more destructive of lives and property, and possibly lost by the good guys. These statements are correct and unrefuted.”

  55. John Tabin,

    Yes; so I win. 🙂

    The Carolingian,

    I suspect your reading of European history is analogous to those who that US history boils down to slavery, genocide against Native Americans, Jim Crow laws, and Viet Nam debacle. 🙂

  56. After reading all the anti-memo references given in this Hit & Run, I must say, to quote Julian one level above, there’s no there there. Looks more like people with fingers in their ears humming loudly.

  57. Well, if you want to revel in the deaths of Frenchmen, why am I not prevented in reveling in the deaths of Americans? It was you celebrating the deaths of Frenchmen; I merely called you out on that.

    I never reveled in the deaths of the French. Quite the opposite, The deaths were ghastly and tragic. What the hell are you talking about?

    The problem is that you are too much of a coward to face up to the logic of your statements.

    I stand by the meaning of everything I wrote. What I did do was to avoid spelling it out, which led you to “imply” all sorts of things that aren’t there and then respond with a seemingly erudite but in fact uninformed list of historical facts, most irrelevant to the point I was making. I have noticed that you have a tendency to do this, to try to overwhelm your rhetoric opponents with what is, presumably, your vocation or avocation (history), but I have also noticed that the facts you cite are often erroneous, or just conjecture, or tortured beyond their appropriate context. I think we discovered in this exchange that you cannot, upon challenge, actually defend much of this drivel. You try to change the subject, or to invent “implied” arguments and then answer them, and so on.

    You might think I dislike you or your participation here, but I don’t. You have often offered some interesting perspectives and effectively challenged others. I think, for example, that you are on to something when you note that the Bush administration has not trumpeted the al Qaeda/Saddam linkages lately, at least not in detail, which may reflect some of the administration officials’ lack of confidence in the intelligence. It’s a possibility, it seems to be, though not necessarily the most likely one.

    Back to the point. The point about the deaths in the summer heat reflects what was, at the time, a fairly extensive inquiry (surely you saw it and/or participated in it) about why so many elderly citizens of Paris died in grotesque situations that were entirely avoidable. I was persuaded that among the factors was the nature of French government and society, in which families are no longer considered directly and personally responsible for taking care of their elders. It is a symptom of what I would argue is a larger problem with welfare states, with how they tend to sunder the natural bonds between parents and children, families and elders, etc. If you like, we could debate this issue further by email, but I suspect it is far too off-topic to inflict on whatever diminishing body of readers remains on this thread.

    As to your reference to a “troll,” I must confess that I have never understood exactly what that means in this context. Or, at least, there appear to be several different definitions of an online troll. Are you saying that I was pretending or something? I wasn’t, but I did have a rhetorical purpose in mind — one that I believe was fufillled.

  58. See above. I forgot to use the appropriate moniker for this discussion.

  59. Just noticed the Merovingian’s other post. Sorry, but there is absolutely no contradiction between my two statements. American involvement was a necessary but not sufficient condition for the historical outcomes in WWI and WWII. That is, without American involvement, things would have gone far more horribly awry. But America by itself did not win either war. Lots of heroic Brits, and Canadians, and Aussies, and Russians, and, yes, French had to lay down their lives, too.

    So it is true that America’s decision to engage in two “optional” wars was critical to their outcome, and thus to saving lots of European lives and freedom. It is also true that America acting alone saved neither. Necessary but not sufficient.

    Which takes us back to my original point about your original point: in a certain sense, all wars are optional. You can choose to surrender, to stand by, or to fight. In Iraq, I consider the U.S. to have chosen the correct, third option.

  60. Presumably in response to my 11/18 posts (e.g. @11:16 PM), Joe asks:

    “Wait a minute, what ‘5 pound bag of anthrax?’ Has anyone found a five pound bag of anthrax? A one pound bag? A teaspoon?”

    Let’s review:

    1) After Gulf War I (1991), Saddam Hussein’s (SH’s) regime was required to report all WMD in Iraq, and destroy all WMD in the presence of UNMOVIC inspectors. Concerning biological weapons, SH said that wasn’t a problem as his regime had no biological weapons.

    2) This statement turned out to be (surprise) a lie:

    “Iraq’s offensive BW programme was among the most secretive of its programmes of weapons of mass destruction. Its existence was not acknowledged until July 1995. During the period from 1991 to 1995 Iraq categorically denied it had a biological weapons programme and it took active steps to conceal the programme from the Special Commission. These included fraudulent statements, false and forged documents, misrepresentation of the roles of people and facilities and other specific acts of deception.”

    http://www.isis-online.org/publications/iraq/leitenberg.html

    3) The lie was exposed in 1995 when defector Hussein Kamel (the presently murdered brother-in-law of Saddam Hussein) acknowledged that he had personally been responsible for the production of over 8000 liters of anthrax. Assuming a density equavalent to water, that represents 8000 kg of anthrax. That’s equivalent to 17,600 pounds of anthrax…or 3520 5-lb bags of anthrax.

    http://bulletin.ninemsn.com.au/bulletin/EdDesk.nsf/0/de59e3b6f123de4aca256c830010ee1b?OpenDocument

    3) Upon this revelation, SH admitted that, well, his regime had produced vast quantities of anthrax, but insisted that every single teaspoon of it had been destroyed–unilaterally!–at the end of Gulf War I. (Quite interestingly, Hussein Kamel said the same thing.)

    4) SH’s government quite literally played “shell games” with UNMOVIC. From a webpage describing a 1999 UNMOVIC report:

    “The tables include detailed comments by UNSCOM which clearly establish the inadequacy or untruth of Iraqi submissions in each category. To take one single example, Iraq reported that it had filled sixteen missile warheads with Botulinum toxin (after altering the number between 15, 13 and 16 in various submissions or statements), five with anthrax spores, and four with aflatoxin. However, after UNSCOM found evidence for additional missile warheads filled with anthrax, Iraqi officials suggested that perhaps the numbers of warheads that they had reported as being filled with Botulinum toxin and anthrax had accidentally been switched. After saying, ‘Oh, we must have confused the Botulinum toxin and anthrax numbers; just switch the two [the 16 and the five],’ an Iraqi official then added, ‘Just put down whatever [numbers] you like.'”

    Now, Joe, considering that SH himself admitted that his regime produced over 8000 liters of anthrax…that’s 3520 5-lb bags of the stuff…are you REALLY willing to gamble that SH (and Hussein Kamel) were telling the truth when they said that ALL the anthrax in Iraq had been destroyed?

    So that’s the answer to your question: Other than anthrax found by UNMOVIC in artillery shells, very little of the 8000+ liters that Saddam Hussein *admitted* producing have ever been found. If you trust Saddam Hussein, all of it was destroyed in 1991 when no one was watching.

    Again, given that it’s been estimated that a 5-lb bag of anthrax can kill half the population of Washington DC, do you really want to trust that Saddam Hussein destroyed the 3520+ 5-lb bags that he had? AND that he never produced any more, after he destroyed what he had?

    Do you feel lucky, Joe?

  61. The reference for that 1999 UNMOVIC report (the one with the priceless lines, “Oh, we must have confused the Botulinum toxin and anthrax numbers; just switch the two [the 16 and the five],” and “Just put down whatever [numbers] you like”) was:

    http://www.isis-online.org/publications/iraq/leitenberg.html

  62. That’s a bold statement anonymous

  63. The Merovingian,

    “I suspect your reading of European history is analogous to those who that US history boils down to slavery, genocide against Native Americans, Jim Crow laws, and Viet Nam debacle. :)” Yes. that summs up my American History experience, too. We took the genocide for granted, furthermore. Finally, we ignored the small countries’ share in the trade (Denmark, Portugal). Was that your experience, too? The one I hear from public school people in America is that “it is springtime, and we are at the Gret Depression. No time for the 50s”
    E TK A

  64. Merovingian:

    You should be kidding. But, alas, you are not.

    Your central point was that America won WWI and WWII on its own; that was the tone your statement implied.

    No, it did not. It did imply that without the US intervention, each war would either have gone on far longer, been far more destructive of lives and property, and possibly lost by the good guys. These statements are correct and unrefuted.

    I suspect your reading of European history is analogous to those who that US history boils down to slavery, genocide against Native Americans, Jim Crow laws, and Viet Nam debacle.

    This is a simple case of projection.

    The slight against France was basically another successful attempt to provoke you to confirm your role in this discussion as an odious stereotype. You did so by drawing ridiculous comparisons (to a nightclub accident?) and by blaming America for the 9/11 attacks.

    Your pretensions as a fount of historical wisdom notwithstanding, you are hereby exposed as someone loose with historical facts and easily toyed with. Kinda like the children (not necessarily in terms of age) who are protesting in London right now.

  65. Carolingian,

    You are such an arrogant cock. Your condescension and know-it-all attitude could use a little adjustment. This might come as a shock to you… but I doubt you are the smartest man on the planet. I recommend you take a deep breath, have some ‘que at Don Murray’s, and take the “I’m better than you” chip of your shoulder.

  66. Sir Walter:

    Nice reference to Don Murray’s, but we’re more of a Cooper’s Barbeque shop here. I prefer the latter’s pork rinds.

    Please re-read the series of posts here, and I think you’ll get a better idea of what I was seeking to reveal. The chip had long been on another’s shoulder.

  67. Wait a minute, what “5 pound bag of anthrax?” Has anyone found a five pound bag of anthrax? A one pound bag? A teaspoon?

    Hello?

  68. I’m sure the sources on Iraq and Al Qaeda are every bit as reliable as the ones that put the WMD beyond doubt.

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