Straw Man

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London's Daily Telegraph has published a piece, based on government documents shown to the newspaper, alleging that Tony Blair "was warned a year before invading Iraq that a stable post-war government would be impossible without keeping large numbers of troops there for 'many years.'"

The article goes on to note: "The documents, seen by The Telegraph, show more clearly than ever the grave reservations expressed by Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, over the consequences of a second Gulf war and how prescient his Foreign Office officials were in predicting the ensuing chaos."

It is probable that Straw had something to do with the leaked documents, as his relations with Blair have reportedly deteriorated of late and the situation in Iraq gets worse. The information shows that Straw and his people were unconvinced of the charge that Saddam Hussein's regime controlled WMD. Peter Ricketts, the Foreign Office policy director, noted there were "real problems" with the weapons threat and wrote: "Even the best survey of Iraq's WMD programmes will not show much advance in recent years. Military operations need clear and compelling military objectives. For Iraq, 'regime change' does not stack up. It sounds like a grudge match between Bush and Saddam."

Indeed, but that sounds a trifle too convenient, doesn't it? Straw may have been doubtful, but he also backed the government line on Iraqi WMD, and supported his soul mate Colin Powell when the U.S. secretary of state defended the Iraq WMD claims before the UN Security Council in early 2003. (Straw's sympathetic ear was even on the other end of the phone when Powell referred to Bush administration hawks as "fucking crazies.")

There is also the question of how long the U.S. and Britain would remain in Iraq. It was obvious for some time before the U.S. attacked the country that American forces would be there for years, so that anyone in Britain who was following the debate across the Atlantic could have guessed that a British commitment probably meant going in for the long haul as well.

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  1. So, let me get this straight, and enlighten me if I am reading the ?Daily Telegraph? article incorrectly: With the war in Afghanistan in progress, ?Dead or Alive? Osama still on the loose, the US had already decided to invade Iraq, with or without allies? Is that what the article, if factual, indicates?
    And if it does indicate that the war in Iraq was a foregone conclusion how does that jibe with the Presidents, somewhat contradictory, remarks to reporters on December 31, 2002?

    ?And we hope to resolve all the situations in which we find ourselves in a peaceful way. And so that’s my commitment, to try to do so peacefully. But I want to remind people that, Saddam Hussein, the choice is his to make as to whether or not the Iraqi situation is resolved peacefully. You said we’re headed to war in Iraq — I don’t know why you say that. I hope we’re not headed to war in Iraq. I’m the person who gets to decide, not you. I hope this can be done peacefully.? http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2002/12/20021231-1.html

    In addition does this comment from the same article seem more in line with the realities? “Even the best survey of Iraq’s WMD programmes will not show much advance in recent years. Military operations need clear and compelling military objectives. For Iraq, ‘regime change’ does not stack up. It sounds like a grudge match between Bush and Saddam.”

  2. All of a sudden, we’re bombarded with a whole lot of reports and documents suggesting that there were never any WMD in Iraq to worry about.

    If Kerry’s stupid enough to put his foot in this potential trap, he’s too stupid to be president of the U.S.

  3. Speaking of potential traps: as one of Justin Raimondo’s unpaid stringers, I’m nervous about venturing into a set-up here by Michael Young.
    But, Yep, how come we went to war in the first place over WMD?
    Where was Dan Rather when we really needed him?
    He could have been talking about some really, really crazy and untrustworthy folks already known to have WMD.
    So, is it official US policy to go after the craziest of the crazy or just to go after the sort of crazies who are on the cusp of making some WMD?
    Whichever, it seems a far cry from the Monroe Doctrine, eh?

  4. Ruthless, from what I can tell, it seems to be US policy to go after the ones we think we can beat.
    m

  5. michael,
    In the paraphrased words of Benjamin Frankin Bache:
    “The US standing army should take a load off.”

  6. Benjamin FRANKLIN Bache.
    Not to be confused with Al Franken Bache.

    Jews… you gotta love ’em.

  7. How long can Britain stay in theatre? As I understand it, they have 50% of their military personnel overseas at this point (not all of them in Iraq by any means). When will supporting “boots on the ground” start to leach away from Britain’s ability to allocate money for R&D, the carriers it is developing with France (Alstom), etc.?

  8. Yep,

    Have you really been asleep for the past one year? You do realize there were no signifcant WMDS found in Iraq right? That this now official as declared by the cheif US weapons inspector in Iraq.

    Micheal,

    Maybe anyone with half-a-brain realized that troops would be in Iraq for years to come — but if you were chugging the neo-con kool-aid, you stated there would be 30,000 troops in Iraq by Dec ’03. Google is your friend. It really is amazing that the people running this country are this incredibly incompetent. But thats life.

  9. Michael:

    “Ruthless, from what I can tell, it seems to be US policy to go after the ones we think we can beat. ”

    and it doesn’t hurt if they are setting on top of the world’s second largest oil reserves.

  10. The “Goodbye, Mr. Blair?” topic above isn’t working, so I’m posting here as it’s pretty much the same topic anyway.
    I’m old enough to recall quite a few elections, but this one is the most like Perils of Pauline, the silent movie–was it a series?–with Pauline tied to railroad track.
    Pauline is Kerry. Will the more and more obvious disaster in Iraq divert or halt the Bush train in time?
    Tune in tomorrow.

    Right now, I’m thinking no, as Kerry and Edwards are still talking about “winning” the war against terrorists.
    Who writes their material?

  11. Has anyone considered the possibility that Mr. Straw is trying to distance himself from Mr. Blair, in order to save his political future? I do recall him being quite confident that Iraq did have WMDs at the time…

  12. The documents, seen by The Telegraph,

    I’m thinking I’d like to check the kerning.

  13. Well, looks like Kerry just stuck his foot in this potential trap. If it snaps shut, Kerry is toast.

    Blair has remained consistently, adamantly confident that the WMD rationale was legit, Jack Straw’s documents notwithstanding. Maybe Kerry missed Blair’s face on C-Span a few months ago when a Conservative Party leader pressed him hard to finally admit that there simply were no WMDs to be found in Iraq. Tony started to say something, then he bit his tongue, gave a wry smile, tipped his head and said, “Well. . .”

    I only wonder if the trap is most likely to go off next week, or at some other moment when the crushing sounds of the steel jaws will drown out ANYTHING that Kerry can hope to throw at Bush.

  14. Well, looks like Kerry just stuck his foot in this potential trap. If it snaps shut, Kerry is toast.

    Blair has remained consistently, adamantly confident that the WMD rationale was legit, Jack Straw’s documents notwithstanding. Maybe Kerry missed Blair’s face on C-Span a few months ago when a Conservative Party leader pressed him hard to finally admit that there simply were no WMDs to be found in Iraq. Tony started to say something, then he bit his tongue, gave a wry smile, tipped his head and said, “Well. . .”

    I only wonder if the trap is most likely to go off next week, or at some other moment when the crushing sounds of the steel jaws will drown out ANYTHING that Kerry can hope to throw at Bush.

  15. Well, looks like Kerry just stuck his foot in this potential trap. If it snaps shut, Kerry is toast.

    Blair has remained consistently, adamantly confident that the WMD rationale was legit, Jack Straw’s documents notwithstanding. Maybe Kerry missed Blair’s face on C-Span a few months ago when a Conservative Party leader pressed him hard to finally admit that there simply were no WMDs to be found in Iraq. Tony started to say something, then he bit his tongue, gave a wry smile, tipped his head and said, “Well. . .”

    I only wonder if the trap is most likely to go off next week, or at some other moment when the crushing sounds of the steel jaws will drown out ANYTHING that Kerry can hope to throw at Bush.

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