The Vague, the Daft and the Ugly

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Reading presidential candidates on foreign policy is like wearing a counterfeit Rolex: It looks nice, and you can flash it at the girls, but you?d better be sure no one asks you the time. So, John Kerry on Iraq and the war on terrorism, two Leviathans that will end up shoving a prospective President Kerry around far more than the reverse. But campaigns are never exercises in modesty.

Three things struck me in Kerry?s compendium of foreign policy promises. The first was that he was too coy on the Bush administration?s doctrine of preemptive strikes against perceived threats. ?Any attack will be met with a swift response,? he said, adding that the ?United States of America never goes to war because we want to, we only go to war because we have to?; however, nowhere did Kerry actually say he would not strike out first if the U.S. actually ?had to.?

Is this important? It is, because it is another example of Kerry trying to put an imaginary distance between his foreign policy and that of the Bush administration. The fact is that the preemptive strike is one of those foreign policy instruments everyone likes to complain about, but that no one who can afford the luxury would willingly give up.

Second, Kerry was all over the place on how much he would spend on defense. After complaining that the Rumsfeld Pentagon had fought Iraq ?on the cheap? he promised to ?reduce the cost [of the war] to American taxpayers.? How? ?By adding 40,000 active duty troops?not in Iraq, but to strengthen American forces that are now overstretched, overextended and under pressure.? Plus, Kerry played the demagoguery card (for which Christopher Hitchens rightly horsewhipped him in Slate), when he said: ?And we shouldn?t be opening firehouses in Baghdad and shutting them in the United States of America.?

So, let?s see: Kerry will reduce costs for the American taxpayer in Iraq (where, outrageously, not enough was paid on prosecuting the war and the postwar campaign by the Bush administration?though too much was paid for those goddamned firehouses); but he will spend more on troops elsewhere, even adding 40,000 new faces, who will help troops who are overstretched, overextended and under pressure, but not in Iraq, where they are most overstretched, overextended and under pressure.

Hell, even Vietnam was fought on better foundations than that.

Third, I noticed that Kerry mentioned not once democracy in the Middle East. In fact, his only mention of democracy came in the rather mildewed context of Berlin, where his father was once stationed, and where, Kerry noted, ?it and the world were divided between democracy and communism.? There, he added, ?I saw the fear in the eyes of people who were not free.?

Evidently, however, Kerry didn?t have the balls to take the extra step and argue that a similar grand global dividing line today exists in the Middle East, where fear and the absence of freedom are rampant, but also where autocratic regimes have never been as weak, illegitimate or scared; and where the U.S. would do well to take advantage of this situation before the inevitable hurried scramble home.

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  1. Michael Young,

    When are you signing up for the Army or Marines? I would like you to put your money where your mouth is boy.

  2. ‘however, nowhere did Kerry actually say he would not strike out first if the U.S. actually ?had to.?’

    Nor did he say he’d continue the policy of issue $10 bills. This is because there is no actual debate on the issue. There is no President or major party candidate in history – McGovern included – who didn’t believe in genuine pre-emptive attacks. The Bush admin. has scored a major Newspeak coup in conflating pre-emptive war with preventive war. In the first case, there is an actual existing threat, and we are pre-empting that threat’s ability to harm us. In the second, there might at some future point be a threat, and we are attacking something that is not currently a threat, but might become a threat at some point in the future. So now preventative is gone, and both terms are referred to as “pre-emptive.” Did you know that Newspeak is the only language that is actually getting smaller?

    And Mr. Young, you can play dumb all you want, but you know damn well that mobilizing National Guard and Reserve units for long periods costs more than maintaining the same number of active duty troops, during the period of their activation.

    Kerry also proposed helping the overextended troops in Iraq, and taking some of the cost off American taxpayers, by getting allies to help us out. Perhaps the writer missed that part of the speech.

    “…outrageously, not enough was paid on prosecuting the war and the postwar campaign by the Bush administration?though too much was paid for those goddamned firehouses” Had Mr. Young had some experience with public projects, he would have known that trying to do them on the cheap ends up costing more, because things go wrong, and you end up doing the same work more than once. Yes, Mr. Young, trying to do Iraq on the cheap has been very costly.

    It’s interesting to see a Reasonoid refer to the struggle against the Soviets as “mildewed.”

    Lastly, Mr. Young seems to feel it’s terribly unfair that Sen. Kerry doesn’t have to put forward an affirmative case about what’s he would do on Iraq, but Pres. Bush does. Boo-fuckity-hoo, welcome to incumbancy.

    Frankly, I’m glad John Kerry isn’t making promises he can’t keep about Arab democracy.

  3. ?…United States of America never goes to war because we want to, we only go to war because we have to?; however, nowhere did Kerry actually say he would not strike out first if the U.S. actually ?had to.?

    Is this important? It is, because it is another example of Kerry trying to put an imaginary distance between his foreign policy and that of the Bush administration. The fact is that the preemptive strike is one of those foreign policy instruments everyone likes to complain about, but that no one who can afford the luxury would willingly give up.”

    When Kerry said that, “The United States never goes to war because we want to…”, I heard it as an indictment of the Bush Administration’s record specificly. Just as a refresher, there was no Al Qaeda collaboration, there were no weapons of mass destruction and, under containment, Iraq with Saddam Hussein may have been less of a threat to the United States than Iraq without Saddam Hussein is now. Taking such things into consideration, it can be argued that we went to war in Iraq not because we had to but because the Bush Administration wanted to. That’s a legitimate campaign issue.

    In fact, as I’ve posted elsewhere, it?s one of the few spots in Kerry’s speech that I found compelling.

  4. Mabye I should restate that.

    There was nothing preemptive about the Iraq war.

  5. Ken Schultz,

    Don’t deflate Young’s grand schemes of America riding to the middle east’s rescue.

    What’s especially pathetic about the middle east is that they aren’t under the thumb of some oppressive super-power – they live in a depraved state largely of their own accord.

  6. I’m waiting for Young to tell us that “Gawd!” wants us to do “mighty works!” in the middle east.

  7. If Kerry believes that the “United States of America never goes to war because we want to, we only go to war because we have to”, that flatly contradicts the support he’s expressed for combat in Kosovo, Somalia and Serbia. Those were far more “wars of choice” because no one ever suggested any of them posed even an indirect threat to the US.

    More plausibly, he doesn’t like any wars not launched by his party.

  8. Shelby,

    I can see that argument.

    You could make an easy argument for a lot of America’s wars not having been fought because we had to fight them, numerous attacks on Native Americans, the Spanish American War and the Mexican American War included, but, apparently unlike Mr. Young, I don’t think Kerry was making any grand policy pronouncements.

    I think he was attacking the Bush Administration’s claims about Iraqi WMD and suggestions of Al Qaeda collaboration. Indeed, If the President leads the United States into invading a foreign country on false pretenses, and the opposition doesn?t bring it up during the election, then there?s something seriously wrong with the loyal opposition.

  9. Gary,
    “When are you signing up for the Army or Marines? I would like you to put your money where your mouth is boy.”
    So, what you’re saying is that unless you’ve done it you can have no SAY on it? Just wanted to know. So, if you don’t have children I won’t hear you talk about them? If you don’t pay taxes you won’t talk about them? If you’re not involved with or a woman you won’t discuss abortion?
    I think you need to file a biography with us so we can know if you can talk about a given subject. See that’s the draw back of the Chicken Hawk Theory.
    O and UNLESS you’ve served (and you just need to give me your name, your SSN, place of birth, branch of service, and date of service so I can confirm that INDEED YOU DID SERVE) YOU can’t talk about the war either. After all, only enlistees can discuss it… So show me YOU put up or YOU shut up as well.
    And one last problem with the Chicken Hawk Theory, I’m willing to bet that MOST veterans and current service members SUPPORT the war, so even if they are the only ones that can talk, I don’t think you’re going to like what they’re going to have to say.
    Nothing personal, I’m just saying, and the theory you advance is seriously flawed and I’m extremely tired of seeing it. So let’s retire it around here, how about it? You can keep objecting to the war, there is a case to be made against it, but this approach to SILENCING one’s opponents has run its course.

  10. Young’s point – I take it – is that Kerry has solidly and stolidly positioned himself as “Me Too!” on Iraq…and that appears to be true.

    Kerry even has little to say about bringing in NATO allies or Moslem countries anymore…as the administration has already accomplished about as much as anyone could reasonably expect along those lines…and it isn’t going to take much pressure off our troops, short-term, anyway.

    (BTW, it makes little sense to argue the administration neglected alliances – most of our diplomatic problems leading up to the war were born of a desire to please our oldest and most important ally: the UK.)

    Kerry is also an incumbent…with nearly 20 years in the Senate. His rather mediocre and spotty record indicates that he would have been a nay-sayer on nearly all the things now deemed important in the War on Terror. He certainly was no military preparedness buff!

    Adding 40,000 troopers to the regular Army may or may not be a good idea – but it has little relevance short term…it will take months if not years.

    I did a stint in the Army when I was young enough to still do so ’79 – ’82. Whenever I complained, my sergeants said “You volunteered”.

    A society that cannot absorb a thousand or so casualties over the course of a year, for what is otherwise deemed to be an important foreign-policy interest should consider DEVOLVING its ground forces, not increasing them.

    We don’t need infantry divisions to defend the American continent. What will Kerry do with 40,000 extra swinging dicks, if he is never willing to send them over the top?

  11. Maybe — like Clinton, like George H.W. Bush, like Reagan, like Carter, like Ford and Nixon and Johnson — Kerry doesn’t think there’s an easy, pat way to remake the Mideast in the image of the world’s Western democracies so he doesn’t propose one.

    The current administration, perhaps hoping to hasten the Apocalypse, thought it could remake the Mideast in a democratic mold by invading Iraq. That hasn’t worked. In fact, it’s turned an effectively-contained nasty police state into a lawless patchwork of unstable ministates wracked by terror and guerrilla insurgencies. So yes, it’s incumbent on Bush to come up with a plan that he thinks will make Iraq at least as stable as it was pre-invasion, since he still seems wedded to the idea of a US-led transformation of the region. Kerry’s refusal to go beyond saying he’d relinquish some control over reconstruction and command of the occupation in exchange for getting a broader coalition of countries involved on the ground isn’t visionary, isn’t inspiring, and isn’t a path to remaking the Mideast. Who says there is a way for the US to remake the Mideast? A vision for doing what’s possible to keep it from becoming worse would be nice.

    As Mr. Boyle up there said, boo-fuckity-hoo.

  12. And Mr. Young, you can play dumb all you want, but you know damn well that mobilizing National Guard and Reserve units for long periods costs more than maintaining the same number of active duty troops, during the period of their activation.

    Outside of that period, though… um… help me out, joe.

    Kerry also proposed helping the overextended troops in Iraq, and taking some of the cost off American taxpayers, by getting allies to help us out. Perhaps the writer missed that part of the speech.

    Or perhaps the writer, having bashed Kerry enough, gave him the benefit of the doubt that those were just platitudes, and decided not to beat up on so easy a target.

  13. Maybe — like Clinton, like George H.W. Bush, like Reagan, like Carter, like Ford and Nixon and Johnson — Kerry doesn’t think there’s an easy, pat way to remake the Mideast in the image of the world’s Western democracies so he doesn’t propose one.

    Given that it’s one of the biggest problems facing the country today, it would have been nice of him to acknowledge at least. Right?

  14. Just repeating over and over again, like a matra, that Saddam Hussein’s regime posed no threat to the U.S. does not make it true. The evidence that has come out since the invasion, if actually read (rather than gleaned from secondary sources), supports the proposition that Iraq was a danger to the U.S., to our citizens and our freedom. Weapons programs remained, even if stockpiles have not been found. Saddam’s regime was trying to acquire nuclear material in Africa, almost certainly to continue weapons development. Connections to al Qaeda and other anti-American terrorist groups abounded. On that point, the least-scary reading of the latest review is that 1) Iraq was acting as a facilitator before and an accessory after the fact of the 9/11 attacks, though there is no evidence it knew of the attacks themselves or participated in them; 2) Richard Clarke himself linked Iraq and al Qaeda and stated the likelihood that bin Laden might relocate to Iraq in the late 1990s; and 3) on separate occasions both al Qaeda and Saddam offered to take their collaboration to a higher level, but the other balked. That last is a danger sign, not a reassuring one, if your goal is to head off lethal attacks on America rather than simply responding to them afterwards.

    David Kay’s report underlines the existence of a danger to us, even as it questions some of the pre-war intelligence. The same is true for most of the subsequent governmental reports.

    I have zero interest in debating the Iraq war again and again in this space. One can still make reasonable, prudential or ideological arguments against the policy the Bush administration chose, or its competence in carrying it out, but y’all should really stop making things up — and read the actual source material, not the inane press coverage of it.

    At least the propogators of these myths aren’t all, or even mostly, libertarians and thus no further damage is being done to the cause.

  15. When are you signing up for the Army or Marines? I would like you to put your money where your mouth is boy.

    He does put his money where his mouth is. He pays taxes.

    We have a salaried volunteer military. They fight wherever, whenever, and whoever we want them to fight. If they don’t like it, they can choose another line of work.

    Just as a refresher, there was no Al Qaeda collaboration

    Are you lying, or merely ignorant of reality? Al Qaeda terrorists were living in Iraq when we captured it. Hussein knew they were there, because we told him. In what freakish sense of the phrase “Al Qaeda collaboration” does “giving refuge to Al Qaeda terrorists” not qualify?

    there were no weapons of mass destruction

    So the actual chemical weapons which have been found thus far in Iraq were, presumably, planted there by the American government?

    Iraq with Saddam Hussein may have been less of a threat to the United States than Iraq without Saddam Hussein is now

    What an amazingly dumb idea. The former had chemical weapons (and plans to develop nuclear weapons), alliances with terrorist groups, and a public policy of opposition to the United States. The latter relies on us for support, has no WMD plans, and has no alliances with terrorists. Grow a brain, please.

  16. All of the talk of putting democracy in the Middle East reminds me of Hunter S. Thompson National Observer articles back in the early 60’s, on the state of democracy in South America.

    “If there is one profound reality in Peruvian politics it is the fact that this country has absolutely no democratic tradition…if the Peruvian people were as concerned about democracy as President Kennedy this country would right now be in the throes of a violent civil war”

    The simple fact is that you can’t “install” democracy into any country, it has to grow out a natural yearning for it. The way to do this is not run rough shod into these countries and proclaim them democracies and call it a day, but to simply stand as a beacon to it, and be an inspiration to those who want it.

  17. “I thought Gary was a French Marine in the first Gulf War.

    Just kidding! :)”

    man – you beat me to the punch. while i like GG/JB’s contributions very much, i do think that him passing himself off as “knowing europe” and as “living in germany” (something like 6 weeks) are silly. plus, i’d rather have more GG’s than those conservative or “anti trade” jackasses. yet gg, who does really know lots of stuff gets dumped on, while those blowhards don’t. oh the humanity.

  18. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A26141-2004Jul29.html

    Apparently it is possible for an outside source to inculcate democratic values in a society that hasn’t had them before.

  19. Getting people to vote in an impoverished, undereducated society that has little history of the practice usually isn’t hard. Getting them to vote for someone who doesn’t wind up becoming an authoritarian strongman and/or isn’t a promoter of one ugly -ism or another tends to be much harder.

  20. When are you signing up for the Army or Marines? I would like you to put your money where your mouth is boy.

    […]

    I’m waiting for Young to tell us that “Gawd!” wants us to do “mighty works!” in the middle east.

    Heh. Know what I’m waiting for? I’m waiting for Gary Gunnels to attack the actual points presented in Young’s post. Instead we’re treated with vague renditions of tired old ad hominem arguements heavily laced with unimaginative canards.

    It’s all quite telling, isn’t it?

  21. “Almost two-thirds of Afghans have gained some idea of the meaning of democracy; most mention freedom or rights. A solid consensus (more than 80 percent) supports equal rights under law — regardless of religion, tribe or gender — and the right to peaceably oppose government. Two in three now favor separating religious and political leadership, while less than 10 percent think democracy and Islam are incompatible. ”

    So is this what’s so impossibly hard to achieve?

  22. I have no problems with Gunnels playing the Hit and Run sourpuss, and even his manly reference to me as “boy” leaves me indifferent.

    However, no, I’m not about to yell “Gawd!” wants the US to do “mighty works!” in the Middle East. Gunnels and others forget that on 9/11 the Middle East reached well into the United States–and what made this possible was that the region had become a very large fount of frustration thanks to a plethora of autocratic regimes, which, to preserve themselves, had no trouble allowing their populations to direct their anger outwards. This need not harm the US all the time, but how many 9/11s can a country afford?

    In that sense, it makes perfect sense to push the region toward more pluralistic systems that would, in all probability, make for less volatile and frustrated societies.

    Sean S. protests, “you can’t ‘install’ democracy into any country, it has to grow out a natural yearning for it.” I’m not quite sure what he means by a “natural yearning,? but I can guess that the Iraqis, Palestinians, Syrians, Egyptians, Lebanese, etc have it, as would anybody under a stifling regime. I’m also not sure that most Eastern European countries had much of a democratic tradition when they overthrew communist governments in the 1980s. It just happened, and Sean is right in saying:

    “The way to do this is not run roughshod into these countries and proclaim them democracies and call it a day, but to simply stand as a beacon to it, and be an inspiration to those who want it.”

    The West was such an inspiration in Eastern Europe, and can be in the Middle East, if the US doesn’t screw up, as it has done in Iraq. However, the US shouldn’t make the mistake of calling it a day in Iraq or elsewhere; it should stick it out, be an inspiration, reach its objectives. The Arabs will welcome true American success if it means more freedom for them. Iraq has been a poor example of that, granted, though I still believe it’s salvageable, if only because most Iraqis themselves seek an open system in all can participate.

  23. drf, thoreau, etc.

    My name is not Jean.

    All of these polls are great and good, but until the Afghanis actually implement these grand notions they count for nothing. What this situation reminds me of is Latin American “democracies” in the 19th century – many of which had rather grand constitutions that weren’t worth they paper they written on.

  24. Ken Shultz,

    “The first sentence in the article cited below, reads, ?The Sept. 11 commission reported yesterday that it has found no “collaborative relationship” between Iraq and al Qaeda, challenging one of the Bush administration’s main justifications for the war in Iraq.?

    You have been suckered by advocacy journalism. This article chopped up one paragraph of report to make it read the way the author wanted it to. The actual report says something quite different. Most damning, the supposedly quoted phrase “collaborative relationship” is in fact elided to remove the adjective “operational”.

    The original report reads on page 66:

    “The reports describe friendly contacts and indicate some common themes in both sides?hatred of the United States.But to date we have seen no evidence that these or the earlier contacts ever developed into a collaborative operational relationship. Nor have we seen evidence indicating that Iraq cooperated with al Qaeda in developing or carrying out any attacks against the United States.76 ” [Bolding added]

    In this context, “operational” is a term of art within the intelligence community indicating the two parties were carrying out training , planning, and attacks in cooperation with each other. Intentionally removing “operational” changes the entire meaning of the paragraph.

    The previous paragraphs and other places in the report (page 61) document multiple contacts between Bin Laden and Saddam throughout the 90’s and up until the invasion. They were definitely talking to each other just as the Bush administration repeatedly claimed.

    The anti-war movement used a rhetorical trick of trying to make the war in Iraq appear to be what HAD happened leading up to 9/11 instead of, as Bush argued, what COULD happen in the future.

    The anti-war movement erected their own strawman by repeatedly saying variants of “Bush keeps saying that Saddam was behind 9/11 and that just not true!” This got repeated by so many sources that people accepted the first clause “Bush keeps saying that Saddam was behind 9/11.” and instead argued over the second clause. Of course they can now factually claim that there is no evidence that Saddam was behind 9/11 and brand Bush a liar when the only lie was their construction of the strawman in the first place.

    Rather brilliant in a dishonest, warped kind of way.

  25. Your comments strike me as a load of overly wishful thinking and hucksterism. As to the issue “Gawd’s” commands, well that’s your boy’s thoughts on the matter – one can only assume that you agree with him.

    Put your blood where your mouth is.

    […]

    Again, I ain’t the guy arguing for a re-ordering of the middle east here via U.S. military might; so it doesn’t fall upon me to prove anything. And again, my comments were not directed to the “war,” but to Young’s nutbar foreign policy. Finally, I am not telling Young to shut up; I am telling him to buck up and join the U.S. military as a means to validate his faith in his position.

    Once again, apparently overloaded by reasoned argument, Gary Gunnels attempts not to address points raised, but goes immediately for the logically invalid cheap shots.

    For all the graciousness and reason presented in GG’s rebuttal, one might as well inquire as to why, if Mr. Gunnels disproves of the US efforts in the ME so vehemently, he is not “over there” protesting the war? After all, if it’s fair to ask one who is pro-war and pro-ME intervention why he/she has not placed their “blood on the line”, it’s certainly as fair to ask why GG has not undertaken similar actions as proportional to his views?

    Is it just me, or do I sense hypocrisy along with a sickening sense of closed-mindedness and self-righteousness in the air? It?s enough to make one wonder if Gary Gunnels fancies himself to be a politician of sorts?

  26. Shannon Love,

    No “operational collaborative relationship” v. “collaborative relationship” means pretty much the same thing to me. Both clearly imply that there was some chatter between the parties, but that both parties have not entered into any fruitful or otherwise meaingful relationship – and certainly not a relationship where they are collaborating in efforts to attack the U.S. Sorry, but you’re trying to create a distinction that really doesn’t exist.

    “They were definitely talking to each other just as the Bush administration repeatedly claimed.”

    They claimed a hell of lot more than “talking.”

    “[Iraq is] the geographic base of the terrorists who have had us under assault now for many years, but most especially on 9/11.” – Dick Cheney

  27. Anti-Gunnels,

    “Once again, apparently overloaded by reasoned argument, Gary Gunnels attempts not to address points raised, but goes immediately for the logically invalid cheap shots.”

    What points would those be? There are none. So far my point has raised none; indeed, his comments have brought issues which I made no claim to, just as you are doing below.

    “For all the graciousness and reason presented in GG’s rebuttal, one might as well inquire as to why, if Mr. Gunnels disproves of the US efforts in the ME so vehemently, he is not ‘over there’ protesting the war?”

    My comments with regard to Young’s original post were not directed to the “war.” My comments were directed toward Young’s nutbar foreign policy. Can you see the distinction?

    “…it’s certainly as fair to ask why GG has not undertaken similar actions as proportional to his views?”

    Again, I’m not advocating any action; as such, your argument seems rather odd.

    “Is it just me, or do I sense hypocrisy along with a sickening sense of closed-mindedness and self-righteousness in the air?”

    Is it me, or have you now descended in psycho-babble and pop psychology? Maybe you ought to write a self-help book. 🙂

    “It?s enough to make one wonder if Gary Gunnels fancies himself to be a politician of sorts?”

    No, I don’t fancy myself to be a politician.

  28. Shannon-

    OK, so “operational” has a very specific meaning that seems to entail, well, actually doing stuff together. If they weren’t actually doing stuff together, I’m not sure how that’s anything to get upset about.

    Does the 9/11 report say that the relationship did entail? I haven’t gotten my copy of it yet (my wife is supposed to pick one up today at the bookstore where she works).

  29. > Reading presidential candidates on foreign policy is like wearing a counterfeit Rolex: It looks nice, and you can flash it at the girls, but you?d better be sure no one asks you the time.

    Why wouldn’t a counterfeit Rolex tell time? And if somebody asks, how would they know even if it were wrong? The analogy needs a time expert on the scene; and even then, Rolex’s are supposed to be flashy, not accurate. Accurate is easy.

    Kerry on foreign policy is like a broken Rolex : flashy and right twice a day.

    If he ran backwards, he’d be right four times a day.

  30. We have two (2) options here, Me Old Son:
    1) You have NEVER served and by your OWN theorem need now to shut up on the issue of Iraq and the war. After all, I don’t believe you said you have any service that would grant YOU the right to speak, as you have never put YOUR money where your mouth is or,
    2) You have served. In which case I only need your name, DoB, and branch of service, and date of service, or your home town. Your military recvords are NOT private. I can make a FOIA request from your service to see the public portions of your record, the enlistment dates, the termination dates, the cause of termination, Hornourable, General, Dishonourable Discharges, your MOS, schools attended, units/vessels served on, that sort of thing. All this from J. D. Burkett’s “Stolen Valor.”
    So here it is Gary, either ditch the Chicken Hawk Theory, or show that YOU have done something. Otherwise you just need to shut up asking about the war, IF this is going to be your plan of attack.

  31. Hey, stop attacking my alter ego!

  32. thoreau,

    You can download the report in pdf at http://www.9-11commission.gov/ or a searchable version is online at vivisimo.com/911

    The practical significance is that opened the possibility that in the FUTURE Saddam might have used Al-Quaeda as the delivery system for a mass causality chemical or biological attack. (He could have used other terrorist networks as well or created a custom one himself.)

    The anti-war movement always sought to make the response to terrorism exclusively about Al-Quaeda and 9/11. Anything else did not matter. Since it did not matter to them they assumed that it did not matter to anyone else. They ignored or distorted any argument that could not be crammed into that mold.

    That a major US newspaper would go to such lengths as to intentionally misquote the 9/11 report is really disturbing. That so many people would just gulliblably swallow the distortion without checking the source text on such a key point is even more so.

  33. Zoot aloors! My time in zee French Foreign Legoin has allowed me to take any pro or anti war position!

    Vive le Reason, you merde-tetes!!

  34. Shannon Love,

    The pagination likely won’t be the same as the published work.

    “The practical significance is that opened the possibility that in the FUTURE Saddam might have used Al-Quaeda as the delivery system for a mass causality chemical or biological attack. (He could have used other terrorist networks as well or created a custom one himself.)”

    And in the future all sorts of shit might happen.

    “The anti-war movement always sought to make the response to terrorism exclusively about Al-Quaeda and 9/11. Anything else did not matter. Since it did not matter to them they assumed that it did not matter to anyone else. They ignored or distorted any argument that could not be crammed into that mold.”

    Would you stop the silly, broad brush, reductionist arguments please? Honestly, you’re smarter than that.

    “That a major US newspaper would go to such lengths as to intentionally misquote the 9/11 report is really disturbing.”

    They didn’t intentionally misqoute the 9/11 report; they did not quote the commission erroneously or incorrectly. Your beef is that they did not use every term that the commission did, however, your criticism even there is unfounded, since your attempt to create some distinction here falls flat on its face (as I demonstrate above).

  35. What points would those be? There are none. So far my point has raised none; indeed, his comments have brought issues which I made no claim to, just as you are doing below.

    Do you actually lack the mental fortitude to recognize the points of argument Young has raised? I can?t believe that that is the case, so I can only assume that you?re choosing to (once again) feign ignorance because you have little in the way of logical rebut.

    My comments with regard to Young’s original post were not directed to the “war.” My comments were directed toward Young’s nutbar foreign policy. Can you see the distinction?

    Are you familiar with the phrase ?distinction without a difference?? Young condones the establishment of representative government in Iraq (see “foreign policy”), which is the stated aim of the war in Iraq ? I?m not sure as to the cause of your apparent confusion, but hopefully I?ve helped you comprehend an additional level of understanding. Perhaps you could enlighten the throbbing masses as to why you describe Young?s foreign policy as ?nutbar?? Heck, perhaps you could even attempt to do so without the constant employment of the logical fallacies of distraction?

    Again, I’m not advocating any action; as such, your argument seems rather odd.

    By implying that Young?s support for the war is wrong-headed, the implication is that you do not support the war. (If I?m mistaken and you do, in fact, support the war, please correct my assumption.) Or perhaps you merely mean that Young?s support is not in and of itself wrong, but his reasons for doing so?

    Methinks you?d do well to make clear your position on the war. Then the rest of us may feel free to advocate a (admittedly caveman-like) course of action for you to follow based upon your support or non-support of US foreign policy.

    Is it me, or have you now descended in psycho-babble and pop psychology? Maybe you ought to write a self-help book. 🙂

    Touche, Gunnels, touche. Tell me, Gary, if I were to write a self-help book describing how one might avoid descending into self-righteous political arguments to the detriment of logical, reasoned analysis, would you read it?

    No, I don’t fancy myself to be a politician.

    And we the readers may all thank our deity of choice for small miracles.

  36. thoreau,

    At best there was some chit chat between al Qaeda and Saddam’s regime; there were no deals made, no joint operations committed, etc. And this over the period what, seven to eight years?

  37. “Do you actually lack the mental fortitude to recognize the points of argument Young has raised?”

    I was referring to Joe L.’s comments.

    “Young condones the establishment of representative government in Iraq (see ‘foreign policy’), which is the stated aim of the war in Iraq…”

    Nevertheless, my comments were not directed towards the war itself but to Young’s broader, interventionist goals. I suggest you get over that.

    “Heck, perhaps you could even attempt to do so without the constant employment of the logical fallacies of distraction?”

    I have committed no logical fallacies.

    “By implying that Young?s support for the war is wrong-headed, the implication is that you do not support the war. (If I?m mistaken and you do, in fact, support the war, please correct my assumption.) Or perhaps you merely mean that Young?s support is not in and of itself wrong, but his reasons for doing so?”

    I didn’t imply his support for the war was right or wrong; I stated that if he wants to re-make the middle east, then he should be the first to volunteer for the job.

    “Methinks you?d do well to make clear your position on the war.”

    I don’t really have to, since the war itself is easily distinguished from an overall inteventionist policy. Yours is a fallacy of definition (its too broad in other words).

    “Touche, Gunnels, touche. Tell me, Gary, if I were to write a self-help book describing how one might avoid descending into self-righteous political arguments to the detriment of logical, reasoned analysis, would you read it?”

    Well, before writing such, you’d have to escape the use of self-righteous political arguments yourself.

  38. most of our diplomatic problems leading up to the war were born of a desire to please our oldest and most important ally: the UK

    Actually, given that we came into being by fighting against the UK in our war for independence, our oldest ally would in fact be the country that aided us in that fight.

  39. Mr. Young, maybe you’re right that “Iraqis, Palestinians, Syrians, Egyptians, Lebanese, etc have [a natural yearning for democracy]”. But maybe they have a yearning for something else, like the way Iranians in the late 1970s yearned more for either theocracy or a populist leftist regime, since the American and Western European democracies were not som much shining beacons as the nations propping up their brutal oppressors.

    I don’t doubt there are millions of Arabs and others in the region who want what we’d recognize as democracy and freedom, and I don’t think there’s anything uniquely “Arab” about the fact that such people nevertheless seem to be a minority in most of those countries. After all, in 1917, Russians overthrew their nasty monarch in favor of a short-lived democracy dominated by undemocratic far-left movements. Mao’s and Fidel Castro’s rebel movements had strong popular support but weren’t democratic. The Nazis came to power mostly through elections and orderly parliamentary processes.

    Maybe Mr. Kerry isn’t running into the breach with a vision of unleashing the will of the Mideast’s oppressed peoples because there’s a concern that what the majority of active citizens wants is worse.

    Maybe I’m behind the curve, but could it be that the region isn’t really in the mood for western-style democracy at the moment? Much as it may feel like inaction or a cop-out, a hearts-and-minds campaign may be the only positive thing the US could do right now, and the wildly underfunded, ineptly run reconstruction of Iraq and the ham-handed occupation of same aren’t moving things forward on that front.

  40. Gary Gunnels,

    “The pagination likely won’t be the same as the published work.”

    The page numbers I sited where the physical pages and not the logical pages so you should be able to find the pages I referenced in the print version. The logical pages are offset by +17.

    “And in the future all sorts of shit might happen.”

    Yes and the substantive debate was over whether we act only after an attack has been launched or whether we target regimes that actively support terrorism and destroy them before they do something stupid. This however, was not the debate that the “Bush said Saddam was behind 9/11” crowd took.

    “They didn’t intentionally misqoute the 9/11 report; they did not quote the commission erroneously or incorrectly.”

    You are simple incorrect in this. Journalism 101 says use of quotation marks indicates a verbatim reproduction of the phrase within the quotes. If you look at the referenced article you will see that the phrase, “collaborative relationship” is clearly in quotations marks in the first sentence of the article.

    If you do a search for “collaborative relationship” on either the PDF or the vivisimo.com you will see that the phrase occurs in the report exactly once on physical page 62:

    “He had to make other adjustments as well,for some al Qaeda members viewed Bin Ladin?s return to Afghanistan as occasion to go off in their own directions.Some maintained collaborative relationships with al Qaeda,but many disengaged entirely.70 “

    I suppose the Post could plead incompetence but since they make a similar error a couple of paragraphs down I think this likely.

    Have you actually read the report at all, even in part, or have you relied on the interpretations of others?

    *Sigh* I miss Jean-Bart.

  41. I liked how Kerry said using national reservists was “a backdoor draft”.

    Thank goodness I didn’t get drafted into the reserves!

    Does Mr. Kerry view the reserves as simple another government works program?

  42. Poor Gary Gunnels. He’s been exposed as yet another internet boob who’s more than content to sit idly by and snipe at others, yet feels no inclination whatsoever to either develop a position of his own nor defend his snarky compositions.

    Gunnels, I pity thee of such puny mental ability and lack of both wit and foresight.

    Suffer, Gary Gunnels, suffer. Suffer as you cry yourself to sleep at night, while finding solace in your gloom and ho-hum existance the only way you can: intellectual dishonesty and moral depravity.

    Suffer, Gary Gunnels, suffer.

  43. thoreau and Shannon

    I don’t miss “Jean Bart” at all. The “Jewish wife” part of the persona was intensely distasteful and offensive.
    Unforgiveable…really.

  44. Andrew,

    Come on! You don’t miss the man who once proclaimed that he “had earned the right to be arrogant and condescending” or whom I once successfully convinced I thought that the word “forte” meant a type of pastry?

    He was Frenchman straight from central casting! I do truly miss him. He’s probably of building nuclear reactors for some 3rd world regime right now. *Sigh*

  45. Michael Young,

    Your comments strike me as a load of overly wishful thinking and hucksterism. As to the issue “Gawd’s” commands, well that’s your boy’s thoughts on the matter – one can only assume that you agree with him.

    Put your blood where your mouth is.

    Joe L.,

    Again, I ain’t the guy arguing for a re-ordering of the middle east here via U.S. military might; so it doesn’t fall upon me to prove anything. And again, my comments were not directed to the “war,” but to Young’s nutbar foreign policy. Finally, I am not telling Young to shut up; I am telling him to buck up and join the U.S. military as a means to validate his faith in his position.

  46. I thought Gary was a French Marine in the first Gulf War.

    Just kidding! 🙂

  47. ?Are you lying, or merely ignorant of reality? Al Qaeda terrorists were living in Iraq when we captured it. Hussein knew they were there, because we told him. In what freakish sense of the phrase “Al Qaeda collaboration” does “giving refuge to Al Qaeda terrorists” not qualify?

    I?m neither lying nor ignorant of reality. The first sentence in the article cited below, reads, ?The Sept. 11 commission reported yesterday that it has found no “collaborative relationship” between Iraq and al Qaeda, challenging one of the Bush administration’s main justifications for the war in Iraq.?

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A47812-2004Jun16.html

    It?s true that Saddam Hussein openly encouraged terrorism in Israel by giving money to the families of suicide bombers, but that?s not collaborating with Al Qaeda. While Saddam Hussein did give refuge to Carlos the Jackal, Abu Nidal and other infamous terrorists of the Seventies and Eighties, I haven?t seen any evidence that, prior to the invasion, Iraq collaborated with Al Qaeda. Maybe you can provide a link to a credible source citing Iraqi collaboration? Maybe you can forward it to September 11 Commission as well?

    ? So the actual chemical weapons which have been found thus far in Iraq were, presumably, planted there by the American government?

    By all the reports I?ve seen, the people who rigged the Mustard Gas shell and the Sarin shell as an IED, didn?t know they contained chemical weapons when they rigged them.

    No one in the Bush Administration is citing these two shells as sufficient justification for killing thousands of civilians, suffering hundreds of U.S. casualties and possibly bringing Iraq to the doorstep of civil war. Are you?

    ? What an amazingly dumb idea. The former had chemical weapons (and plans to develop nuclear weapons), alliances with terrorist groups, and a public policy of opposition to the United States. The latter relies on us for support, has no WMD plans, and has no alliances with terrorists. Grow a brain, please.

    You?ve got a lot of faith in that new government. I don?t. I still think it likely that there will be a civil war in Iraq, and, please, notice the word ?may? in the statement, ?Iraq with Saddam Hussein may have been less of a threat to the United States than Iraq without Saddam Hussein is now?

    I?m not comparing the threat to the United States from the Saddam Hussein regime to the threat to the United States from the Iraqi Governing Council. I?m comparing the threat that the Saddam Hussein regime posed to the United States when he was effectively contained with the help of our allies to the potential threat of an entire region engulfed in civil war, a war in which U.S. troops are likely to be caught in the middle, a war in which the parties are likely to be groups from the Sunni Triangle, the Kurds, who have demonstrable ties to Al Qaeda, and Shia factions loosely affiliated with Iran. If such a battle is every fought, who do we want to win that battle?

    Anyway, such a conflagration is a much greater threat to the United States than Saddam Hussein was when he was effectively contained.

    I don?t think you?ll have to jog your memory much to realize that I?ve spelled all of this out for you before. Still you snipe for points of semantics and cite widely held beliefs as if they were facts. Pull your fingers out of your ears, open your eyes and see.

  48. John Hood & Dan,

    You see, the point is that many of us don’t see these vague potentialities – and they are vague and rather amorphous – as serious threats.

    John Hood,

    Now you need to stop making things up.

    Dan,

    Young needs to put his ass where his mouth his.

    Joe L.,

    With regard to my comment on Young’s statement, I’m not talking about the “war,” I’m talking about Young’s screwy foreign policy. Like I would give a total stranger my social security number.

  49. Ken Shultz,

    “When the Bush Administration was selling us on the war, if they had made the same distinctions that you are, maybe so many Americans wouldn?t be so confused now.”

    They did. That is rather my main complaint. If you read the prepared speeches and policy statements of the Bush Administration directly yourself you will see they made exactly the same case for war against Saddam as I laid out above. The anti-war movement and an incompetent or biased media kept altering the terms and grounds of the debate. They projected their criteria onto the Bush Administration’s statements and then declared Bush’s case inadequate before the war and then dishonest afterward.

    The Bush doctrine is about striking out at terrorist threats before they strike at us. It is a preventative doctrine but the anti-war movement only believed in preemptive (interrupting an attack in progress) or in a retaliatory (striking back after an attack) doctrine. Thus we had arguments over whether the Bush Admin had proven that the threat from Saddam was “imminent” and thus requiring a preemptive attack or whether Saddam was involved in 9/11 and thus requiring a retaliatory attack when the Bush Admin had never based it’s case for the war on either premise.

    The anti-war movement and the major media were in effect having a raging debate against themselves. They mistook the effigy of the Bush doctrine they themselves created for the Bush doctrine itself. They blamed the Bush Admin for the effigies failure to make the case for war. They blamed the Bush Admin for the effigies lies.

    “When the report states that, “…Some maintained collaborative relationships with al Qaeda, but many disengaged entirely.”, the “some” that’s being referred to doesn’t include Iraqi agents.”

    Exactly my point. The Post fraudulently portrayed “collaborative relationship” as a verbatim phrase in regard to Iraq when it only occurs in regard to certain Al-Quaeda affiliates. It just another piece of straw stuffed into the effigy.

  50. M. Simon-

    Even if Kerry does have a lot of skeletons in his military closet, I don’t think Bush has any desire to enter a game of “I know what you did last war!” (OK, bad phrasing, but I feel like a whimsical movie analogy right now.) Bush might in fact win that game, if everything you say is true, but only at a high price.

    Shannon-

    OK, preventive vs. pre-emptive. I really think it comes down to how much credit you give the gov’t and how much weight you attach to unintended consequences. In pre-emption you attack the enemy as he’s about to move. You go after the Al Qaeda cell with plane tickets and box cutters really. You shoot the suicide bomber has he prepares his explosives. You attack the troops mustering along a border area before they cross.

    In these cases you have a pretty good idea of what the consequences of not acting will most definitely be.

    In prevention, you need more prognostication. You have some pretty horrific ideas of what MIGHT happen if you don’t act AT SOME POINT. The question is whether or not today is the best time to act. The time frame before negative repercussions from in action is fairly long, and there are no guarantees that the threat will ultimately materialize. Meanwhile, the possible negative consequences of acting now also have to be weighed.

    I know we’ll just have to agree to disagree because this forum has gone around in circles over this for a year and a half, but I think we can all agree on at least the differences between prevention and pre-emption, even if we disagree on the merits.

    I think a good summary would be this:

    Prevention: Act right now before the relationship becomes operational.

    Pre-emption: Act once the relationship is operational but before operation has gone too far.

    Straw-man anti-war stance that preventive folks like to attack: Act only after the mushroom cloud.

  51. Ken Shultz,

    Here’s the full paragraph of the Cheney quote you posted above.

    “In the post-9/11 era, certain risks are unacceptable. The United States made our position clear: We could not accept the grave danger of Saddam Hussein and his terrorist allies turning weapons of mass destruction against us or our friends and allies.
    [Bold added]

    A succinct statement of the Bush doctrine unless you project the anti-war assumption that “all terrorist = Al-Quaeda” on to it then it becomes, in effigy, a dishonest statement.

  52. Whoops, I left out the link to the transcript of the Cheney speech above.

  53. Suffer, Gunnels, suffer!

  54. thoreau,

    I agree with most of what you say except that in your definitions you fall prey to the “terrorist=Al-Quaeda” fallacy. Al-Quaeda is just one on many terrorist organizations in the Islamic world. The existence of Al-Quaeda was largely ill-relevant to threat poised by Saddam. If he wished to carry out an anonymous mass causality attack he could have used his own pet PLA, contracted out to one of the numerous Islamist networks (“Al-Quaeda affiliates”) or created a sham group using Iraq world wide espionage system based out their embassies.

    The link between Al-Quaeda, 9/11 and Saddam was in our own internal psychology. 9/11 changed our apprehension of the level of acceptable risk. Prior to 9/11 we judged that the cost of a preventative war in Iraq outweighed the benefits. We would leave Saddam in place an hope he would not miscalculate. Post-9/11, with thousands of Americans dead, we decided that the cost of preventative war were acceptable.

    The Bush admin repeated this theme ad nauseam but it was seldom reported. Instead, the critics and media kept saying that the Bush admin had not made it case for a preemptive or retaliatory war.

  55. Shannon Love,

    When the Bush Administration was selling us on the war, if they had made the same distinctions that you are, maybe so many Americans wouldn?t be so confused now.

    “…al Qaeda affiliates, based in Baghdad, now coordinate the movement of people, money and supplies into and throughout Iraq for his network, and they’ve been operating freely in the capital for more than eight months.”

    Colin Powell before the UN in February of 2003

    “Iraq has, in the past, provided training in document forgery and bomb-making to al Qaeda. It has also provided training in poisons and gases to two al Qaeda associates.”

    George Tenet before the Senate Intelligence Committee in February of 2003

    “We could not accept the grave danger of Saddam Hussein and his allies turning weapons of mass destruction against us or our friends and allies.”

    Dick Cheney before the Heritage Foundation in October of 2003.

    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/10/13/politics/main577787.shtml

    “Bullshit!”

    Ken Shultz on Hit & Run August 2004

    ?and, once again, if there were no WMD and there was no Iraqi/Al Qaeda collaboration, then what, exactly, did we preempt by invading Iraq?

    If your answer is Iraqi/Al Qaeda collaboration, may I assume you believe the region is less rather than more likely to become a base for Al Qaeda operations now?

    Also, out of curiosity, do you support the invasion of the Sudan?

    P.S.

    “I suppose the Post could plead incompetence but since they make a similar error a couple of paragraphs down I think this likely.”

    When the report states that, “…Some maintained collaborative relationships with al Qaeda, but many disengaged entirely.”, the “some” that’s being referred to doesn’t include Iraqi agents.

  56. People automatically dismiss the link between Saddam and Al Quada out of hand. This is not true. We don’t know whether there was a link or not. Its impossible to prove a negative and absent love letters from Saddam to Osama I doubt knucleheads like Mr. Gunnels will ever be convinced. That said, the circumstancial case is actually quite strong. Bin Laden was bankrupt and homeless in 1998 after he was kicked out of the Sudan. At the same, Saddam was able to start his oil for food scam and kick out UN weapons inspectors. Shortly thereafter, Bin Laden shows up in Afganistan flush with enough cash to buy off the Taliban and start training thousands of terrorists and begin planing 9-11. Where did Bin Laden get his money? We don’t know and may never know, but Saddam is certainly a top suspect. Saddam had made no secret of his desire to attack the US in revenge for the first gulf war but had no way to do so, but as of 1998 had lots of cash again. Bin Laden had terrorists and the ability to attack the US but no cash. They were both evil enough and practical enough to have seen the confluence of their interests. In addition, Bin Laden issued his famous war on America Fatwa in 1998 and mentioned, curiously enough, Iraq for the first time. Why does Iraq all of the sudden become such a concern for Bin Laden when it hadn’t been before then? The timing to say the least suspicious. In short, I do not believe that we can dismiss the Saddam Al Quada link as easily as most who post on the website would like.

  57. To Gary:

    Afghanis=money
    Afghans=people

  58. The soft pitter-patter of Gary Gunnels’s tears striking the ground sound like… VICTORY.

    Blah, blah, suffer, Gunnels, suffer.

  59. It is all moot.

    When Bush gets done tatooing Winter Soldier over Kerry’s face only the die hard Dems will vote for him.

    Kerry is going to work hard establishing his Vietnam record. Once Kerry has it well established Bush is going to destroy it.

    Bush in a landslide.

  60. Ken,

    The confusion will have dissipated by 03 Nov 04.

    It is my estimation that a majority of the American people are not confused. The anti-Bush crowd is confused. I expect that while whatever general confusion there is will subside post 02 Nov., the confusion of the anti-Bush crowd will increase.

  61. The report that will turn this election is Winter Soldier.

    The 9/11 commission is a useful distraction.

  62. Ken,

    The Native American bit was not all one sided. The Indians often attacked without provocation, also. Blamed on renegades from official authority of course.

    Do you suppose Arafat reads American history?

    If he does he missed the last chapter.

  63. Gary Gunnels,

    “”[Iraq is] the geographic base of the terrorists who have had us under assault now for many years, but most especially on 9/11.” – Dick Cheney”

    You know, I looked this up just because I didn’t remember it. (None can match my google-fu). Like the other items it’s misquote. The original transcript clearly shows that Cheney was talking about generic terrorism and not Al-Quadea but I saw numerous misquotes in major media from “professional journalist” It appears that somebody sucked the quote out of context then shot it around the internet. Those inclined to think the worst of Cheney repeated it with double-checking and another internet myth is born.

    Jebus, you would think somebody would have at least asked why he used the phrase “geographic base” instead of just “base.” There’s those adjectives again.

  64. http://fistfulofeuros.net/archives/000656.php

    I would love to see the Olympics in Paris; the marathon would be partly run along the Champs Elysees I am sure; etc. Just the sports in relationship to all the beautiful scenery in the city is worth it; plus there is the excuse of travelling to the Central Massif and the Cote d?Azur afterwards. Ahh yes, living like a God in France.

    Posted by: Gary Gunnels at May 25, 2004 11:42 PM

  65. Mr. Young, I agree that demoracy promotion in the Middle East is an important aim. But it isn’t enough for a government to want its policies to turn out a certain way. Unlike individual morality (in which the level of self-sacrifice and the seeming hopelessness of the attempt might make an action MORE honorable), for a government’s actions, when killing and sending others to be killed, must have a good chance of actually succeeding. There were reasons stacked to the ceiling why the invasion of Iraq had a poor chance of resulting in a liberal democracy. There were military and diplomatic experts stacked to the ceiling who pointed out repeatedly that the way the lack of planning and strategic decisions were making that outcome even more remote. And yet the administration assumed that success was inevitable, refused to do the hard work necessary to give their preferred outcome a fighting chance, and went off half cocked.

    You bring up the Iraqis yearning for freedom and responsible government. Are these the Iraqis who, when they offered to fight beside our troops and watch over liberated areas, were told that they would be treated as hostile if they appeared armed in an area in which the US was operating? Some liberation. This isn’t Ken Pollack’s war, Mr. Young. It’s George Bush’s war, Don Rumsfeld’s war – at it was obvious six months before the fact that that’s exactly the war we were going to get.

    Finally, you bring up Eastern Europe, and the shining beacon America served as, to guide people like union leader Lech Walesa. Remind me, how many Warsaw Pact countries did we invade? For someone who wishes to argue that opposing invasion = supporting the continuation of the dictatorship, Eastern Europe is a very poor example to bring up.

    Gary, you need to get through your head the difference between neocons and theocons, and the different reasons each supported this war. Mr. Young is making a neocon argument, and pointing out the silliness of invoking “Gawd” is irrelevant to the issues at hand.

  66. Rather than getting your point, Shannon, I keep getting the feeling that we’re talking past each other.

    The Administration repeatedly used Al Qaeda collaboration and WMD to justify the invasion of Iraq. But the extent of Al Qaeda’s relationship with Iraq was greatly exaggerated, and the extent of Iraq’s WMD program was greatly exaggerated too. Remember when Colin Powell showed us photographs of mobile, Iraqi WMD labs?

    Indeed, both the WMD and the Al Qaeda collaboration were non-existent. Using the word “preemptive” or “preventative” to describe the Iraq War ignores the fact that there was no WMD or Al Qaeda collaboration to preempt or prevent. Do you have another example of a nonexistent threat that should be prevented or preempted in such a way?

    If you were arguing that Saddam Hussein had to be removed from power because he was an enemy in a critical part of the world, I would be more understanding. But, effectively contained, Saddam Hussein wasn?t much of a danger to America, and, having destabilized the region, the danger posed to America by Iraq may have been made all that much greater.

    If America is going to have a debate about whether or not we should remove everyone from power who might become a threat in the future, then we should do it soon. In the meantime, there?s a lot of confusion over the facts. Have you seen the polls from a few months ago showing a majority of Americans believing that Iraq was complicit in 9/11?

  67. Karin,

    In the future, if you have a point of interest, a point you disagree on, a question or, indeed, a denunciation, please feel free to mail it to me. It’s certainly your prerogative not to post in public if you don’t want to. I’d love to get an e-mail about where and why you disagree with me, but if you’re just going to send a simple statement of disagreement, I’d appreciate it if you would lace it with lots of profanity. That way, I can show it to my friends, and we can all have a good laugh.

    Thank you.

    P.S. Me thinks thou protesteth too much.

  68. Ken Shultz,

    “Have you seen the polls from a few months ago showing a majority of Americans believing that Iraq was complicit in 9/11?”

    Yes, but again how is that the fault of the Bush administration? The Bush administration answered truthfully every time they were ask that they had no evidence that Saddam was behind 9/11. The public confusion came from other sources than the Bush administration.

    There are three cases for war.

    (A) Saddam attacked us and now we must retaliate.
    (B) Saddam is planning to attack us so we must attack him before he attacks us.
    (C) Saddam could attack us at some point in the future. We have little ability to foresee or to interrupt the attack so we should remove Saddam now before he does something stupid.

    Bush argued only (C) but many people, supporters and critics alike, assumed he must be arguing from (A) or (B). If you look at the original source material you will see that most of the administration’s statements about Al-Quaeda are in response to questions from others. When repeatedly asked point blank at virtually every news conference whether Saddam was connected to 9/11 they said no. What else exactly were they to do?

    I believe that both the media and the anti-war movement are more to blame for the confusion than the war supporters. They elentlessly harped on cases (A) and (B) to such an extent that many thought one of the cases must be the primary driver for the war.

    The anti-war movement did not want to address case (C) because it put them in the position of advocating “trusting in the sanity and restraint of Saddam Hussein” in Bush’s formulation.

    The fundamental problem with the war debate is that the Left saw it a part of larger cultural war within American and Western culture itself. For them, the urge for war came purely from the political pathology of America itself not from the any external threat. For them, the details of Saddam’s capabilities and intentions were far less relevant than the fact that Cheney once work for Haliburton.

    In sum, you are holding the Bush administration solely responsible for all the confusion surrounding the war when an equal if not greater share of blame lays with those that opposed it.

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