Meanwhile, Back in Iraq…

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With 10 days to go before the big vote on Iraq's constitution, surveys show:

…recent polling shows widespread support for a new Iraqi constitution to be voted on Oct. 15, even in strongholds of Sunni Arab groups that are fighting to derail the charter….

The poll of 3,625 Iraqis, conducted Sept. 14 to 19, showed 79 percent in favor of the draft constitution and 8 percent opposed. The remainder did not respond.

A high percentage of respondents said they intended to vote and that the level of violence likely would be reduced after the referendum….

Whole Reuters account, via Wash Times, here.

One possible outcome of a big vote in favor of the constitution: A quicker U.S. troop withdrawal. Or not.

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  1. HOW DARE YOU bring up Iraq. Like that was so akkomlisched last yeaaaar. Ohmagod, like, we have Katrina and her waves to deal with. And The Supremes’ Court. And we’re on the verge of San Diego’s great comback against St. Louis.

    This is like, totally, unCanadian. oh. American.

  2. A poll was just taken in the ‘hood here in Sinincincinnati. It showed 80 percent didn’t know the difference between the Pledge of Allegiance and the Declaration of Independence.

  3. While today’s Washington Times talks about how Iraqis are happy with the proposed constitution, today’s Washington Post reports that Iraqi lawmakers had to make it easier for Iraqis to reject the constitution, since many voters, including most Sunnis, threatened to boycott the election. I’ll suspend judgment until after the election–too many stories keep changing from day to day.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/10/05/AR2005100500256.html

  4. What’s the plus/minus margin of error for Iraqi pollsters?

  5. Don’t count those chickens just yet, Shannon.

  6. Survey SAYS!

  7. there will be no comeback.

  8. joe,

    “Don’t count those chickens just yet, Shannon.”

    one…
    two…
    three…

  9. today’s Washington Post reports that Iraqi lawmakers had to make it easier for Iraqis to reject the constitution, since many voters, including most Sunnis, threatened to boycott the election.

    Actually, Iraqi lawmakers didn’t have to make it easier to reject the constitution. They simple reversed an earlier decision (last Sunday) that made it harder to reject the constitution. They only reversed it after pressure from the UN.

  10. Iraqi lawmakers didn’t have to make it easier to reject the constitution. They simple reversed an earlier decision (last Sunday) that made it harder to reject the constitution

    Make it easier. . .make it less hard. . . unless you’re a porn star, they’re the same fucking thing.

    Though it’s too early to tell yet, I notice that many of the people who insist this Wash-Times story is a good thing were also the ones who insisted that those purple-finger photographs heralded a new era of Iraqi peace and prosperity. And we’ve all seen how well that turned out.

    (Though in all fairness, maybe “peace and prosperity” is how you say “rampant carbombings and general lawlessness combined with the rise of Islamic theocracy” in Farsi.)

  11. um, Jennifer, Farsi isn’t the deJure language in Iraq.

    (even more “um” – [easier] [less hard] can be the same, but from the pragmatics pov, to differentiate from Linguist’s, to make something “easier” as opposed to make something “less hard” speaks to the starting point of the task. a very hard task can be made less hard or easier, while you wouldn’t necessarily say that about an easy task made easier (an easy task made “less hard”) – it’s one of those “wonderful” things Grice gave us)

  12. Mona,
    What will they dip in the purple ink after all fingers and toes have been blown off over there?

  13. I hope that Shannon is right. I hope this turns out well.

  14. If I may be allowed a moment of cynicism, I don’t think this will hasten the U.S. pull out of troops. My guess is that long ago the administration decided to pull troops out before elections next year in order to lighten the mood and help Republican congress members get re-elected. If they don’t pull out significant numbers by midway through next year, then that will be a story.

  15. Joe, you sound almost as if you want the iraqi referendum to fail, as if to score political points. That’s pretty low.

  16. Before we get too excited about a survey of 3,000 people:

    The interim president (Kurd) called for the resignation of the interim prime minister (Shiite) over the issue of “re-Kurdification” of oil rich cities.

    The story was well buried by U.S. media, and the CPA quickly got the principals to assure the public that there was no “serious” rift here, but…

    I predict the Constitution will be ratified, by a huge margin (as they say in Philly, the winner of the election is never in question, it’s just a matter of how many crooks need to be employed) and that absolutely nothing else will change regarding day to day life over there.

  17. the ones who insisted that those purple-finger photographs heralded a new era of Iraqi peace and prosperity

    Because everyone knows that, like, the day after a country holds its first elections everything is all puppies and kittens.

    Viewed on a historical time scale, the ones who insisted this still have a pretty good shot at being right.

  18. It would be nice to see the referendum pass with this kind of support, but the December elections are the real key.

    It doesn’t look like Jaafari and his party will be in power after the December elections; his rule has not been particularly popular and his coalition is splitting.

    Remember, Iraq really is a democracy now, with real elections, raucous dissent, and a thriving free press. Bloggers and newspapers are reporting many Iraqis are very unhappy with the sectarianism of the current parties and secularists are expected to make big gains — including a big chunk of Sunnis who didn’t vote last time.

    The current gov’t just isn’t very representative of what Iraqis want. They were elected because they were all Iraq had to offer last year. This year, there will be real campaigns, real debates, and real choices about the future of Iraq.

    It occurs to me the upcoming Iraqi election is arguably more important than the last. The sad history of nascent democracies has too often gone the road marked “one man, one vote, one time.” An orderly, peaceful, democratic transfer of power, something we very much take for granted in the West, is quite a novelty for an Arab country. Also, unlike the last election this one shows every sign of being much more than a vote by ethnicity or region; the real divide is shaping up as secularism vs. sectarianism.

    For the first time in Iraq, the will of the people matters.

  19. 79% support? Hey, that’s pretty good. That’s a price tag of only 1000.269 dead civilians per percentage point. I guess it’s true what they say–you save when you buy in bulk.

  20. Because everyone knows that, like, the day after a country holds its first elections everything is all puppies and kittens. Viewed on a historical time scale, the ones who insisted this still have a pretty good shot at being right.

    Hope so. However, I’m more interested in human than historical time scales–if Iraq becomes a decent country in fifty years that’s nothing from a historical perspective, but long enough to ensure plenty of misery for those who have to live there now.

    I especially feel for the poor women of Iraq, whose secular hellhole of a country is now a theocratic hellhole of a country.

  21. Yeah Jennifer, remember the good old days of women being raped in front of their families because someone criticized Saddam?

    Now THAT was a gov’t that respected women’s rights!

  22. Yeah Jennifer, remember the good old days of women being raped in front of their families because someone criticized Saddam?

    As opposed to women being raped for not wearing a burka?

    I’m not saying Saddam was good–I’m just saying that for most Iraqi women, things have gotten worse. Kind of like a black guy moving from 1938 Alabama to 1938 Germany–Alabama was a horrible place for black people, no doubt of that, but it still wasn’t the worst the world had to offer.

  23. Yeah, I’m sure if someone was going to rape a woman for not wearing a buhrka, Saddam’s goons were right there to make sure the woman was protected. Sheesh.

    Here’s the kind of horrible oppression women can expect now:

    Article 12.

    All Iraqis are equal in their rights without regard to gender, sect, opinion, belief, nationality, religion, or origin, and they are equal before the law. Discrimination against an Iraqi citizen on the basis of his gender, nationality, religion, or origin is prohibited. Everyone has the right to life, liberty, and the security of his person.

  24. “Don’t count those chickens just yet, Shannon.”

    Weren’t those chickens counted before we invaded?

    …and God bless the Constitutional vote–I’d hate to think what it would take to write another one. …and I imagine most people will support the Constitution under the anything would have to be better than this theory. …but even if it passes, that doesn’t mean we’re out of the woods.

    …don’t forget, national politics is driven by the extremists–even in America.

  25. TallDave has a point. The Iraqi Constitution says that everyone is equal. And hey, if it’s in a founding document, a country HAS TO live up to it, right? Oh wait….

  26. TallDave, what’s the difference between a government that throws acid in a woman’s face, and a government that does nothing to punish those who DO throw acid in a woman’s face? Nothing, from the woman’s perspective. Hell, the old Soviet Union had a kick-ass Constitution that promised all sorts of wonderful freedoms–but the country was still a hellhole.

    Again–not saying Saddam’s Iraq was a paradise for women; just saying that what’s happening now is in many ways worse.

    Or, to go back to my Alabama analogy–the law in the South never explicitly allowed whites to lynch blacks. Should we assume from this that black people didn’t have it so bad?

  27. “Joe, you sound almost as if you want the iraqi referendum to fail, as if to score political points. That’s pretty low.”

    yeah yeah yeah, clap louder or Tinkerbell will die.

    I’m not going to put on a happy face and pretend everything’s going well just so you can feel better, rafuzo.

    TallDave, you seem to have trouble with the concept of “cost.” Let’s put it this way: would you rather have a nickel in your pocket, or would you rather have me punch you in the mouth and give you a dime?

    Pointing out that a dime is worth more than a nickel doesn’t answer the question.

  28. I’m just saying that for most Iraqi women, things have gotten worse.

    Tell that to the women still digging their families out of mass graves.

    Or maybe the women of Halabja would appreciate being told how life was better with a gov’t that attacked them with WMD.

  29. joe, you seem to have a problem with the concept of “opportunity cost,” no to mention “common sense.” Saddam already killed around 2 million people; what’s the cost of leaving his regime in power?

    Let me put it this way: would you rather live under a mass murdering maniac who mutilates you and tortures your family for criticizing him, or an elected gov’t that may actually let you live in freedom?

  30. TallDave, I think you should re-read Joe’s post–I am not sure you caught the gist of it.

  31. Yeah, well, tell that to the women picking up pieces of their husbands after a carbombing. Tell them that they’re better off now that there are terrorists slaughtering people in the street all over their country.

    Anybody can play that dishonest game, ToolDave. Come on, TRY to make a valid argument. Think positive! You can do it!

  32. I’m pretty sure I did.

  33. Ethan, I’m predicting, “Yeah, well, it wouldn’t even hurt if a liberal f*g like joe hit me, ha ha.”

  34. Joe,

    The gov’t didn’t set off the carbomb, did they?

  35. Joe, your choice makes no sense. Living under Saddam isn’t a free nickel. It’s a choice between getting punched in the face every day buy Saddam, or once by the U.S. and adfter that being free.

  36. “The gov’t didn’t set off the carbomb, did they?” I don’t imagine the guy watching his own arm burning across the street knows, or even cares, very much.

    Seems like there are a lot of faces getting punched right now. Not “once” by the United States, but over and over, by at least three warring factions, with no end in sight. But you don’t seem to care very much about that.

  37. I don’t imagine the guy watching his own arm burning across the street knows, or even cares, very much

    The Shiites, targets of most of the car bombs, don’t seem to be clamoring for the good old days were they were put in mass graves.

    I care about the violence, but I’m smart enough to know this is already far better than Saddam’s rule, and offers real hope of a peaceful, democratic future.

  38. It must be very comforting to live in TallDave’s world, where all is black and white, with no shades of gray. And all choices are between “good” and “bad” rather than the lesser of two evils.

  39. Look, I agree it’s unfortunate that sharia law may be used in some family court decisions. I think it’s terrible that some miscreants with sticks are going around beating women who don’t dress the way they’re “supposed” to.

    But to say things are worse overall is to ignore the mass murder and state-sanctioned rape that happened under Saddam. It also ignore the fact that women can vote now, a right they were about a billion years away from getting under Saddam, a right that means they can get the law changed in regards to the above issues.

  40. TallDave,

    For you to even begin to make a rational assessment of whether things are worse or better in Iraq now than they were under Saddam, you would HAVE TO let go of the notion that you can point to a single bad situation (such as a woman finding her husband in a mass grave or a woman being raped), determine that it was the fault of the Saddam regime, and then conclude that things are better now. One needs to take a broader view. Can’t you see that your logic must be faulty, since it can be used equally “well” AGAINST your position?

  41. I’m just saying that for most Iraqi women, things have gotten worse.

    Wow, I never realised that Saddam was such a champion of womens rights, protecting them with an iron fist from the backward, opressive religion of his country folk.

  42. a single bad situation (such as a woman finding her husband in a mass grave

    How about a couple hundred thousand?

    a woman being raped… determine that it was the fault of the Saddam regime

    Rape was their official policy.

    . One needs to take a broader view.

    Of course, and in the broad view things are far better. The only gov’t-sanctioned violence is against terrorists and those opposing freedom and democracy for Iraqis.

  43. I’m going to have to say that living in Iraq sucked under Saddam and still sucks bad now.

    Were women beaten and raped, people totured, etc under Saddam every day? Possibly, I don’t know the details, but for the sake of argument, let’s say “yes”.

    Are women being beaten and raped, people blown up, etc, under American occupation, every day? Possibly, I don’t know the details, but for the sake of argument, let’s say “yes”.

    Ok, TallDave, so women can vote. That’s great. But that might not help them right this second. It may take a few months or even a few years for the country to stabalise enough for it to matter.

    So are things all rosey over there with all that in mind?

    Maybe, just maybe, I can agree with you that Iraq right now is “better” (although that would have to ignore the fact that more terrorist attacks have occured worldwide since our invasion than before).

    But to see it as much better is silly.

    Or as Jennifer said in another post (and I’m paraphrasing here): “Is getting gang-raped by 10 biker scumbags better than being gang-raped by 12 biker scumbags? Yes, but they both suck.”

  44. So are things all rosey over there with all that in mind?

    I don’t know about “rosey.” Things are certainly difficult.

    Is it silly to say having elections, free speech, a free press, an end to sanctions, a gov’t that won’t pursue WMD, put its own people in mass graves, or invade neighboring countries is far better than having Saddam’s regime in power?

    Or as Jennifer said in another post (and I’m paraphrasing here): “Is getting gang-raped by 10 biker scumbags better than being gang-raped by 12 biker scumbags? Yes, but they both suck.”

    Well, the hope is that freedom and democracy will lead to a better life, one where you aren’t getting raped by any bikers. There was little to no hope of such improvement under Saddam.

  45. Jennifer,

    You never fail to amaze me how easily you buy into the Suni propaganda that all Shias are koran toting religous fanatics. Its amazing how racist you really are on these posts. Day after day, your main argument seems to be that the Shia are too backward and stupid to have a say in their own government and that they were better off being oppressed and murdered under Saddam. Don’t you understand how hated and oppressed the Shia are and have been in the middle east? Racist Sunis and their enablers in the State Department and middle-eastern studies departments accross the West have created the myth that all Shia Muslims are fanatics unfit to have a say in their own lives. Its not true. If it were, Moqta Al Sadr would be the most popular man in Iraq, rather than the pyriah that he is. If the Shias are going to create an Islamic state, why does Sistani, their most respected leader cleric say otherwise? Oh, I know, he is one of those lying Shia who will say anything to get into power and can’t be trusted. Is that it?

    Iraq is seeing the two neglected stepchildren of the middle east, the Kurds and the Shia, step up and take their rightful place at the table. A lot of Sunis who view themselves as innately superior are very upset about that. Most of the lies about the Shia are from this sentiment, not reality.

  46. Good points John. Sistani pushed for elections, didn’t run himself, and even told all the parties they couldn’t use his name from now on.

    I guess all I’m really saying is… give freedom and democracy a chance.

    I’m out.

  47. TallDave,

    You say that the rapes number 100,000, and consider this not “looking at a single situation.” But the rape situation IS a single situation. That’s the point (which, again, you missed). It is interesting that you bring up the number 100,000. After all, if we are going to play this single-trend, tit for tat game, then my royal flush 100,000 dead civilians as a result of the US Invasion beats your full house 100,000 raped woman, on the grounds that being killed is worse than being raped–since being dead can’t be overcome in any way.

    Again, to prove that things are better now, it is not sufficient to claim that there were some bad trends that now are better, since the possibility exists that there exist some bad trends now that didn’t exist before. It is the totality of these that are to be compared.

    An example of an argument that uses your logic but argues against your position: things must be worse now; I mean, think about it: “Great, I can vote for dogcatcher now, but 2 of my 3 sons have been killed by bombs.” Convincing? God, I hope not.

  48. then my royal flush 100,000 dead civilians as a result of the US Invasion beats your full house 100,000 raped woman

    How many people did Saddam murder again?

  49. Jim,

    In his whole tenure, about 100,000. So we got him beat, in terms of killings per year.

  50. Look, if libertarian doves want to argue with libertarian hawks, there’s no point in talking about sissy liberal concerns like casualties and civil liberties and whatnot. Let’s get hard-core here:

    Won’t somebody think about all the private property that’s been destroyed?

  51. I wonder if TallDave even noticed when his argument turned from “it’s a lot better now” to “there is hope it could get better.”

  52. Whenever I see someone ask whether the outcome of the war to date is “worth the cost” I have to wonder what price they would find acceptable for their own chance at freedom.

    The golden rule is an imperfect moral guide but it is best real world one available for most circumstances. Applying the rule to Iraq, we would have to ask where the situations reversed would we have wanted the Iraqi to invade us? Perhaps we could frame the question more realistically by asking what we would have wanted to happen if ourselves and our loved ones had been ordinary Iraqi citizens?

    It seems to me that most opponents of the war are tacitly making the argument that they would have preferred life under Saddam for themselves and their loved ones rather than take a chance on fighting for something better. They look at contemporary Iraq and think, “If that was me I would rather live under Saddam. Being able to vote, having a free press and at least the chance of democratic future just isn’t worth the risk of getting killed in the struggle for those freedoms.”

    I find that attitude more than a little disturbing.

  53. Whenever I see someone ask whether the outcome of the war to date is “worth the cost” I have to wonder what price they would find acceptable for their own chance at freedom.

    Had the Iraqis themselves made the choice to struggle, more power to them. But we’re talking about after-the-fact justifications for an invasion committed under false pretenses and then framed as a bold fight for democracy. I find that attitude more than a little disturbing.

  54. And just to clarify: I DO hope things somehow work out over there; I hate the idea of people being miserable, and especially hate the idea of women being under what amounts to lifelong house arrest just because they’re women. Problem is, I don’t see anything to sustain that hope. Think of all the things we’ve heard already: “Oh, the insurgency will die down once Saddam is caught!” But we found Saddam and nothing changed. “Oh, things will get better once the elections are held!” But the elections went through and nothing changed. “Things will get better once Paul Bremer leaves!” And so forth.

  55. Applying the rule to Iraq, we would have to ask where the situations reversed would we have wanted the Iraqi to invade us? Perhaps we could frame the question more realistically by asking what we would have wanted to happen if ourselves and our loved ones had been ordinary Iraqi citizens?,

    Shannon Love,

    I don’t remember an organized Iraqi resistance group petitioning the U.S. for aid in overthrowing Saddam being the reason that we are involved in this war. If there were Iraqis fighting for freedom, and our forced simply joined their efforts, this argument might be more convincing. If it’s simply a matter of promoting freedom, wouldn’t we intervene in every society that isn’t a free democratic republic?

  56. Look, if libertarian doves want to argue with libertarian hawks,

    Huh? Did joe and others get replaced by Maxwell-brand libertarian posters? (I think I’d notice the difference…)

    Won’t somebody think about all the private property that’s been destroyed?

    “Our myth for today is ‘Constant repetition removes all the smugness from a remark or set of remarks and imbues it with humor’.”

    “…Let’s just call that ‘busted’ and find one where we can blow something up.”

    “Works for me.”

  57. Whenever I see someone ask whether the outcome of the war to date is “worth the cost” I have to wonder what price they would find acceptable for their own chance at freedom.

    …I’m with Jennifer. If someone had asked the American people if freedom for the people of Iraq was worth the sacrifice of thousands of American lives–not to mention Iraqi civilians–that would have been one thing. …but the American people were victims of a bait and switch–at best. …and if anyone did happen to mention that we were making these huge sacrifices for someone else, it was lost under all the loud bullshit about terrorism and WMD.

    The golden rule is an imperfect moral guide but it is best real world one available for most circumstances.

    You mean the one about how other people’s rights end where mine begin and visa versa? …Please elaborate. …What’s imperfect about that?

    Applying the rule to Iraq, we would have to ask where the situations reversed would we have wanted the Iraqi to invade us? Perhaps we could frame the question more realistically by asking what we would have wanted to happen if ourselves and our loved ones had been ordinary Iraqi citizens?

    I suspect I would object to having bombs dropped with me and my loved ones on the ground. …and being invaded and occupied too.

    …Adenauer’s farewell address–that’s the only example I can think of where someone seemed to thank another power for bombing, invading and occupying their country. Do you know of any Japanese people who thanked us for dropping the A-bomb?

    …If the people of Iraq someday thank us for bombing, invading and occupying them, that’ll be just peachy. …but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

    It seems to me that most opponents of the war are tacitly making the argument that they would have preferred life under Saddam for themselves and their loved ones rather than take a chance on fighting for something better. They look at contemporary Iraq and think, “If that was me I would rather live under Saddam. Being able to vote, having a free press and at least the chance of democratic future just isn’t worth the risk of getting killed in the struggle for those freedoms.”

    Isn’t this just another version of one of those “objectively” pro-Saddam arguments?

    I find that attitude more than a little disturbing.

    I find the willingness to sacrifice the lives of American troops for the benefit of someone else more than just a little disturbing. …and to think, I used to rail against the liberals for wanting to spend our money that way!

  58. Eric-

    I thought I’d been rather sparing with that remark. I didn’t realize I’d already over-used it.

    Back to the drawing board for another non-clever one-liner!

  59. David, Jennifer – I’m with the two of you in your response to Shannon’s question.

    And while I do think Jennifer is probably too pessimistic when it comes to how many women are being persecuted when it comes to burka wearing, the apologists like TallDave and John are delusional in their views of the “new” Iraq. Seriously, there have been more terrorist attacks the world over, that have killed more people, since the invasion than before. Yes, that’s mostly all the insurgent bombings and whatnot in Iraq, but also it has had an effect elsewhere. And while I also hope for the best in Iraq, to look at it now and say, “but they’re holding elections” without looking at the massive violence still ongoing is completely dishonest or (I’ll use the word again) delusional.

    “Better fighting them over there than over here”. That’s bullshit, too, because I seriously doubt anywhere near the number that are “over there” would have come “over here”. We’ve created new terrorists with our little pre-emptive strike. Do I know this for sure? Of course not, but I’d be willing to bet on it.

    Finally, to answer Shannon’s question, personally: I would hope that I would have done whatever little thing I could to oppose Saddam, even if that meant I were killed or tortured. So I really wish you wouldn’t make assumptions about what I would be willing to fight for.

  60. “I don’t remember an organized Iraqi resistance group petitioning the U.S. for aid in overthrowing Saddam being the reason that we are involved in this war.”

    Actually this is exactly why we are in this war…Chalabi anyone, Kurds anyone…come the fuck on..you have had to pay at least a little attention.

  61. Tom Crick,

    “.I’m with Jennifer. If someone had asked the American people if freedom for the people of Iraq was worth the sacrifice…”

    We were asked, you just have selective memory.

    Want to prove me wrong? Its easy, just link to a major pre-war policy speech or paper that did not mention democracy building as a primary goal of the war. Don’t you remember all the sneering directed at “neo-conservatives” for their belief that democracy could be planted in the Middle East?

    The contention that democracy building was a post hoc rationalization is dishonest and easily refuted by even a casual perusal of policy statements of the pre-war period.

    “I find the willingness to sacrifice the lives of American troops for the benefit of someone else more than just a little disturbing.”

    Well, it is what I would hope somebody would do for me if the situation was reversed. Moreover, I think I have less of a sense of “somebody else” than you do. The fact that other human beings are part of another political entity than me does not in my view alter my ethical obligations towards them.

    Actually, I do think the people of Iraq will thank us. Remember, whether we acted or not, things were going to be bad for the people of the Iraq. By acting we have created the possibility of a substantially better future. If we succeed, I think the majority of Iraqi will judge that we acted justly and honestly.

  62. “Whenever I see someone ask whether the outcome of the war to date is “worth the cost” I have to wonder what price they would find acceptable for their own chance at freedom.”

    I suppose that would depend on the size of that chance. Where this one is almost nonexistant, no, I don’t consider the approaching 100,000 lives ended, and many more ruined, to be worth it.

    I second (third?) the comment about the difference between invading a country and taking its government over vs supporting, even militarily, its native resistance movements. In fact, when Shiites offered their military support to the coalition back in March 2003, they were told that they would be treated as hostile forces if our troops encountered them armed on the battlefield.

    joshua, re: Chalabi – ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha (gasp) ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Stop it! You’re killing me! Why don’t you look through some news sites archives, and remind yourself what happened when he arrived with his band of US-equipped followers and tried at playing DeGaulle. Come the fuck on yourself, deluded one.

  63. “If we succeed, I think the majority of Iraqi will judge that we acted justly and honestly.”

    And if we fail, YOU will continue to judge that we acted justly and honestly, and like Tom Friedman, declare that the ungrateful natives brought the bloodbath on themselves.

  64. Shannon-

    Freedom and democracy for the Iraqi people was indeed frequently mentioned as a benefit of going to war prior to the invasion. But the ultimatum laid down was “Submit to weapons inspections, cooperate 100%, or we go in.” Not “Hold an election or we go in.” Not “Release political prisoners or we go in.” Nope. The condition laid down was 100% cooperation with weapons inspections. That’s what was told to Iraq, and that’s what was told to the American people: Whether or not we go to war depends on whether or not Hussein gets rid of his WMD.

    I know Jason Ligon gets upset when somebody insists that a war must have only one justification. Fine. Maybe wars can have more than one justification. Maybe a lot of things can add up. But We The People were told that the question of war or peace hinged on WMD. And when WMD didn’t pan out, then everybody started insisting that it was never really about that.

    It’s hard to see that as anything other than a bait-and-switch.

    And yes, I know, it doesn’t really matter how it started, what matters is that we’re there and we need to deal with that situation And for the present moment that is true. But we should not forget the bait and switch. We should remember it, and learn from it, and as time goes on and we observe how things unfold (for good or for ill) we should ask ourselves how that reflects on the bait-and-switch: Was it a “Noble Lie” told to make sure that Good Things could happen? Or was it an act of treachery that led us down a dark road? We can’t know for sure until time passes. But we should remember that there was indeed a bait-and-switch, we should evaluate it with the value of hindsight, and whatever lessons we learn we should keep them in mind until the next time the politicians call for war. And then decide in accordance with those lessons.

    If you’re right, then you have nothing to fear from that test of time. Things will happen as you predict, you will be vindicated, and the bait-and-switch will be seen as a Noble Lie used to rouse a nation to do Great Things.

    How confident are you?

  65. Joshua,

    I didn’t say there was no Iraqi resistance(even an exagerrated one like INC), only that it was not the selling point. The public was told we were going to fight because Saddam had WMD, and alledged Al-Qaida/Saddam links meant that he may supply weapons for an attack as the U.S. or its allies.

  66. The contention that democracy building was a post hoc rationalization is dishonest and easily refuted by even a casual perusal of policy statements of the pre-war period.

    I don’t remember arguing that “democracy” wasn’t mentioned in the run up to the war–the Bush Administration threw everything in that basket but the kitchen sink.

    …That doesn’t mean the American people signed on to spread Democracy. …Indeed, I remember the Democracy argument even required qualification as a function of self-defense. Aren’t you buying that line anymore?

    As I recall, the whole thing was supposed to be a big self-defense war. Remember the poll that came out a year after we invaded showing that a majority of Americans believed that Saddam Hussein was complicit in 9/11? I don’t have to drag up the phony pictures of mobile WMD labs and baloney tales of terrorist collaboration from in front of the UN, do I? …The State of the Union?

    The Iraq War was sold as a war of self-defense. …but it wasn’t a war of self-defense. …and if the American people had been sold the war solely as a function of helping the Iraqi people, we wouldn’t be there today. …or rather, Saddam Hussein would probably still be under the watchful eye of the coalition.

    The fact that other human beings are part of another political entity than me does not in my view alter my ethical obligations towards them.

    Well now that the President has offered them the lives of our soldiers, tell me, how do we get the Iraqi people involved in our budget process? …and do such feelings of ethical obligation make you support politically mandated welfare for Americans who are less well off than you. …may I ask?

    Actually, I do think the people of Iraq will thank us. Remember, whether we acted or not, things were going to be bad for the people of the Iraq. By acting we have created the possibility of a substantially better future. If we succeed, I think the majority of Iraqi will judge that we acted justly and honestly.

    Maybe they will, and maybe they won’t. …Either way, it’s not for you to decide.

    Maybe the people of Japan are grateful that we dropped the A-Bomb on them, and maybe–along with the people of Germany–they’re positively giddy about the firebombing. …but I doubt that, don’t you?

  67. The golden rule is an imperfect moral guide but it is best real world one available for most circumstances. Applying the rule to Iraq, we would have to ask where the situations reversed would we have wanted the Iraqi to invade us?

    Absolutely not!

  68. Another terrorist bombing in Iraq.

    But hey, they’re gonna hold another election soon. Who’s going to enforce it? Why the US military, of course. So you can see that they’re obviously very free.

  69. joe and david,

    “joshua, re: Chalabi – ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha (gasp) ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Stop it! You’re killing me! Why don’t you look through some news sites archives, and remind yourself what happened when he arrived with his band of US-equipped followers and tried at playing DeGaulle. Come the fuck on yourself, deluded one.”

    and

    “I didn’t say there was no Iraqi resistance(even an exagerrated one like INC), only that it was not the selling point. The public was told we were going to fight because Saddam had WMD, and alledged Al-Qaida/Saddam links meant that he may supply weapons for an attack as the U.S. or its allies”

    You boys need some help…who the hell was it that kept telling the US that Iraq had WMD and a nuclear program….Chalalibi did influance the US in regards to WMD and it was his intent to get the US to over throw Saddam

  70. So our gov’t got duped by some dude trying to make a power play? Or is Chalabi a good guy that only has the Iraqi people in mind?

    If it’s the former, you’re not helping your case any.

  71. I thought I’d been rather sparing with that remark. I didn’t realize I’d already over-used it.

    Well, not that literal remark, but the theme that the other libertarians here only care about taxes and property is one you’ve used for a while.

  72. Hak, don’t forget that without me there wouldn’t be any GPS guidance on your plane.

    And the laser in your portable DVD player? I did that theory in my spare time.

  73. Sorry, wrong thread.

    Us dead guys are easily confused.

  74. And to try to be topical…

    I only supported the Iraq invasion to shut down their efforts towards attaining WMDs. Whoops, Bush, the UN, and Clinton had been exaggerating the threat all these years. My bad. I thought freeing Iraqis from a dictatorship would have been a nice byproduct, but not something remotely worth going to war over.

  75. thoreau,,

    There was no bait-and-switch. The war was always sold on the basis of three contentions.

    (1) Saddam could produce WMDs: This was true. As the Deufllier report made clear, Saddam CHOSE not to keep active weapons so he could evade sanctions. At any time up until the invasion, he could have resumed production of chemical weapons in a matter of days. He could have produced enough nerve gas to pull off a terrorist attack killing tens of thousands within a few weeks at most. The consensus of every intelligence agencies in the developed world that he had active weapons was largely based on the known ease with which he could produce them.

    As long as he had a technical cadre who knew how to produce the weapons and the resources of nation state to fund their production, he could produce those weapons in short order. The invasion ended this threat.

    (2) Saddam would be willing and capable of using terrorist networks to deploy WMDs. This was obviously true to anybody who was paying the least attention. Even for those who believe that “All terrorist anywhere and at anytime” = Al-Quada and only al-Quada, the development of the close ties between Al-Quada and the Baathist in post-invasion Iraq proved that he would have allied with Al-Qauda if he saw an advantage in doing so.

    The fact that he could conceivable strike with “leaving fingerprints” made him even more dangerous.

    (3) The long term security of the US and world depends on changing the political dynamic of the mid-east: Terrorism grows out of oppressive societies. Replacing them with democracies or even proto-democracies will provide the only hope for lasting peace.

    These core concepts were repeated continuously by the Bush administration and other supporters of the war. Your belief that there was a bait-and-switch arises because your view of the pro-war argument come from secondary or even tertiary sources. Your relying on what others, many of them hostile to the war, told you the arguments were. If you go to the primary sources and look at what members of the administration actually said, the rational for the war never changed.

    What did over time is the amount of attention that the different rationales have received at different points in time. Trying to get the UN signed on, for example, meant emphasizing the WMD issue but that does not mean that democratization suddenly ceased to be goal and it is dishonest to pretend that it did.

    This whole argument is based on a sound-bite driven gotcha mentality that pounces on single sentences or phrases while ignoring the reams and reams of detailed materials produced in the run up to the war.

  76. Shannon, I’m not relying on tertiary sources. All of the things that you mentioned were mentioned in the State of the Union address.

    But……….
    In that same speech I distinctly remember him saying that ending the WMD program/capabilities/insert-preferred-term-here was the condition for avoiding war.

    WMD weren’t just on the same list as the long-term benefits of liberalization. WMD were articulated as the pivotal issue that would decide war or peace. When somebody says that war or peace hinges on a specific issue, and then later we’re told that the allegedly pivotal issue was never all that important, there’s no escaping the fact that some sort of deception was perpetuated. Call it bait-and-switch, call it a lie, call it a Noble Lie, call it whatever you want. It was a deception of the people who vote and pay taxes.

    Of course, I guess you could say that Bush is just a tertiary source, if you believe that somebody is pulling his strings….

  77. State of the Union Address, 2003:

    We will consult, but let there be no misunderstanding: If Saddam Hussein does not fully disarm for the safety of our people, and for the peace of the world, we will lead a coalition to disarm him.

    http://www.cnn.com/2003/ALLPOLITICS/01/28/sotu.transcript/

    WMD were the pivotal matter, the matter that would decide between peace and war. The long-term benefits of liberalization and the humanitarian benefit of liberating the Iraqis were not ignored, but they were not presented to the American people as being sufficient to decide between peace and war. WMD were pivotal.

    But now we’re told that, well, those factors alone were enough.

    We were lied to. If you want to believe the lie, if you want to believe that we have always been at war with Eurasia and East Asia has always been our ally, if the cognitive dissonance would be too much, so be it. Do what you have to do to protect yourself from shame.

    Me, I have nothing but outrage.

  78. “So our gov’t got duped by some dude trying to make a power play? Or is Chalabi a good guy that only has the Iraqi people in mind?

    If it’s the former, you’re not helping your case any.”

    fuck if i care if chalabi is a godd or bad guy…oh yeah my argument…where was my argument in all this?

    Oh yeah here it is!!!

    “”I don’t remember an organized Iraqi resistance group petitioning the U.S. for aid in overthrowing Saddam being the reason that we are involved in this war.”

    Actually this is exactly why we are in this war…Chalabi anyone, Kurds anyone…come the fuck on..you have had to pay at least a little attention.”

  79. “if you want to believe that we have always been at war with Eurasia ”

    Well I think it would be safe to say we have been at war with Iraq for about 14 years…clinton just wanted it cooler then the two bushes did…or at least he saw little help in keeping it warm with a republican house breathing down his neck.

  80. joshua, Ahmed Chalabi is not the legitimate representative of the Iraqi people. He’s not even an organized resistance group. He’s a wealthy scam artist who thought he could use our soldiers’ blood and our people’s treasure to set himself up as the King of Mesopotamia.

    Shannon, someone, choose the correct answer: Saddam Hussein is a terrible tyrant. He gassed his own people. We cannot let the world’s most dangerous dictators________________________.

    A. Wear white shoes after Labor Day

    B. Be all undemocratic and shit.

    C. Threaten us with the world’s most dangerous weapons.

    D. Walk around with a cop mustache like he’s all that.

  81. Now, one could argue that actually the case could be made without WMD. Fine. But that was not the public debate. That was not what was told to us before the election. That was not the angle put on it when the Congress voted. That was not the thesis of the debate.

    If you think that the “consent of the governed” has ANY significance at all, then the case made to the American people must be what we go by.

  82. thoreau, if Shannon was honest, she(? – could be an Irish dude) would state that the WMD lie was a great evil, and a great danger to our nation.

    IF you believe that regime change in Iraq is essential for our safety, and the moral thing to do for the Iraqi people, and

    IF you believe that only a loss of political will by American can endanger the ability for this mission to achieve those noble ends, and

    IF the dishonest use of WMDs as a cassus belli, an the subsequent collapse of that case caused support for the war to similarly collapse

    THEN lying the public about the case for war was a betrayel the president’s responsibility to keep us safe, and of the Iraqi people.

  83. Shannon, it’s clear that, to you, the justification for this war was the benefits of regime change, regardless of the WMD and Al Qaeda connection claims. This was the position of a great deal of “liberal hawks,” such as Juan Cole and the editors of The New Republic.

    But that was not the justification provided by the White House. If it were, they would have rolled with the punches as their evidence of WMD programs collapsed (both before and after the war), and the public’s support would have held. But it wasn’t, they didn’t, and it did.

  84. Eric, “Whoops, Bush, the UN, and Clinton had been exaggerating the threat all these years.”

    Actually, not so much with the UN and Clinton. Iraq actually had WMDs, and even an ongoing program, during the 1990s. But it was systematically dismantled by UN inspectors. When Saddam tried to shut down this process, Clinton ordered Operation Desert Fox, which destroyed almost all of the rest. Thereafter, the Iraqi military (with or without Saddam’s knowledge – this is still a little unclear) scrapped the program entirely.

  85. Shannon:

    “Al-Quada and only al-Quada, the development of the close ties between Al-Quada and the Baathist in post-invasion Iraq proved that he would have allied with Al-Qauda if he saw an advantage in doing so.”

    This doesn’t follow at all. If North Korea invaded the United States, and the Ku Klux Klan proved to be a major resistance group, I’d be willing to cooperate with them – but I certainly don’t want anything to do with them now.

  86. “Ku Klux Klan proved to be a major resistance group, I’d be willing to cooperate with them – but I certainly don’t want anything to do with them now.”

    Really?

  87. Ted’s right. Why do you think so many people joined up with Communist groups in occupied Europe during WW2? Because Marx’s exposition on dialectics was particularly poigniant in Serbo-Croation?

  88. Ted-

    I’d rather join an insurgency that wears dark colors during nocturnal raids.

  89. Eric, “Whoops, Bush, the UN, and Clinton had been exaggerating the threat all these years.”

    Actually, not so much with the UN and Clinton. Iraq actually had WMDs, and even an ongoing program, during the 1990s. But it was systematically dismantled by UN inspectors. When Saddam tried to shut down this process, Clinton ordered Operation Desert Fox, which destroyed almost all of the rest. Thereafter, the Iraqi military (with or without Saddam’s knowledge – this is still a little unclear) scrapped the program entirely.

    The problem for me being, of course, is that after mostly destroying Iraq’s WMD program, Clinton and the UN (who were not exaggerating in any way, of course) maintained that Iraq was still a threat that had to be monitored and contained just like it had been through the entire 90s. And, to all outward signs, Iraq still appeared to be pursuing something and trying to evade UN observation.

    Another problem being that, of course, whether or not they mentioned it to their boss, the Iraqi military certainly didn’t feel like filling me on their scrapping of what they had left.

    The evidence available from invading and investigating bears out that Iraq’s WMD program was neutralized before the invasion. The information beforehand didn’t make that point obvious or even convincing, unless one was a true believer in Clinton and/or the UN.

  90. I’d rather join an insurgency that wears dark colors during nocturnal raids.

    Just FYI, I died laughing at that and had to explain my amusement to others, who also laughed…

  91. I should think libertarians would agree that market based measures of a countries well-being, such as real estate prices, stock market valuations, election participation, and vote distribution are the most valid and should trump the perceptions retailed by the media. By those measures the liberation of Iraq has been a huge success for the Iraqi people.

    While elections and constitutions are no guarantee of free and perfect society (which will never exist), there is a big difference between the constitution the Iraqis are about to adopt or reject and, say the Soviet constitution. The Iraqi parliament and constitution are being voted on in elections that are way, way freer than anything done in USSR, Baathist Iraq, Cuba or any of their many equivalents. The number of parties that are competing, the diversity of their opinions, the vote distribution among the parties and the maneuver before the election all show that Iraq is, at the moment, an acting democracy .

    The only reason this has happened is the commitment of Bush Admin. to the war, the bravery and skill of the US military and their coalition partners and now the commitment of the Iraqi security forces to securing their countries freedom.

  92. thoreau,

    The critical problem with conspiracy theories is that they usually require some kind of altruistic or nonsensical behavior on the part of the conspirators. So in your case I have to believe all the following:

    (1) Even though it was the consensus of the US intelligence agencies, the UN weapons inspectors and the intelligence agencies of every developed country that Saddam continued to pursue WMDs and in fact had chemical and biological weapons on hand, somehow Bush with his amazing psychic powers knew that was all hogwash.

    (2) He built a war rational around WMD’s even though he knew before hand that none existed and that after the war we would find no weapons to justify his claim.

    (3) He was so profoundly immoral and capable as to create a war based on a fraud purely for his own economic or political benefit yet not so immoral or capable that he couldn’t plant WMDs in Iraq to justify the whole scam.

    That is what you are arguing?

    Face it. Nobody lied about WMDs. Clinton didn’t lie. Gore didn’t lie. Kerry didn’t lie. Blair didn’t lie. Chirac didn’t lie. Bush didn’t lie. Saddam elected, chose, volunteered, (insert synonym of choice) to run the risky game of disposing of the active weapons while maintaining the fiction internally that he still had them. All the senior Iraqi military officers believed the weapons existed. (See the Duefflier report) He maintained the two things he needed to reconstitute the weapons on short notice, his technical cadre i.e. the scientist and engineers who made the weapons the first time and great gobs of cash. It was this pattern of behavior combined with the known ease of recreating the weapons that caused everyone to believe he still had active weapons.

    The big lie here is that Saddam was as harmless as a box of kittens. It would have been great if we could have got Saddam in his secret underground base stroking a persian cat while sitting in front of big throbbing orb labeled “WMD” but the real world doesn’t work that way.

    Deal with it.

  93. But that was not the justification provided by the White House. If it were, they would have rolled with the punches as their evidence of WMD programs collapsed (both before and after the war), and the public’s support would have held. But it wasn’t, they didn’t, and it did.”

    Indeed, my big point wasn’t even what the White House argued per se. …It’s what the American people believed and why they supported the War.

    Face it. Nobody lied about WMDs. Clinton didn’t lie. Gore didn’t lie. Kerry didn’t lie. Blair didn’t lie. Chirac didn’t lie. Bush didn’t lie.

    Somebody showed pictures of mobile WMD labs to the UN and the American people and used them to justify the Iraq War in the wake of an Anthrax attack.

    There was a lot of controversy about Bolton’s actions in regards to those WMD labs (among other things), wasn’t there? What was that controversy about again?

    The big lie here is that Saddam was as harmless as a box of kittens.

    Who has argued this?

  94. It’s one thing for everybody to suspect/assume something. But when deciding whether to do something drastic (like go to war), it’s important to take a second look. And if that second look shows that the popular assumptions aren’t as sound as they seem, that there’s a lot more uncertainty than anybody realized, it is irresponsible to going around talking about “slam dunks”.

    The most honest way to approach the WMD issue would have been to say that with the stakes this high, any uncertainty is simply unacceptable, and so the burden must be on the dictator to provide proof.

    They didn’t give us an honest appraisal of the uncertainties and then ask us to decide. They lied to us before the 2002 elections, they lied to the Congress after the 2002 elections, and they didn’t give the inspections time to work in 2003. They wanted to go to war. They wanted war. I can’t repeat that enough: These barbarians wanted a war!

    There’s nothing more awful than war. War should only be used sparingly, when absolutely necessary, never just because somebody feels like it. The people who conduct a war should be held to the highest standards of conduct.

    You were lied to. You can’t accept it.

  95. Saddam was as harmless as a box of kittens.

  96. The big lie here is that Saddam was as harmless as a box of kittens.

    Actually, when you think about it, the Iraqi military under Saddam didn’t put up might of a fight. Then he hid, until he was dragged out and forced to “take his medicine”, much like my cat does.

    On the other hand, it’s been some of the people who should be eternally grateful for their freedom who’ve put us in a position to be in Iraq for 10+ years. Sometimes referred to as “the terrorists”. What were they before?

  97. Actually, boxes can have sharp corners sometimes. Saddam was as harmless as a big, fluffy pillow of kittens.

  98. Eric, ” Iraq was still a threat that had to be monitored and contained just like it had been through the entire 90s.” Indeed it was. The Baathists didn’t have a change of heart – they clearly would have loved to restart their programs and have some WMD sabres to rattle. It was the containment that prevented this from happening – quite successfully, as we all no know. Except maybe Laurie Mylroie.

    “The evidence available from invading and investigating bears out that Iraq’s WMD program was neutralized before the invasion. The information beforehand didn’t make that point obvious or even convincing, unless one was a true believer in Clinton and/or the UN.” I’m certainly neither. Yet, while I didn’t know for certain that the program had been so thoroughly eliminated, I managed to conclude, correctly, that it certainly didn’t pose a threat to us under the status quo.

    Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Blair, and Powell stated that Iraq posed a threat to us, and that we needed to defend ourselves from that threat right away. Lots of people took them at their word. Others didn’t. I don’t think it will do for you to be accusing those who were skeptical of these claims of True Believerism.

  99. One possibility that people seem to overlook in the debate over the Bush administration’s motivation for the war is that the “liberation of Iraq” justification may have been added to the mix to provide an additional reason for the war in case the WMD thing fell flat. That would explain why that particular justification was so late to the party (far, far later than the WMD talk).

    Also, I have noticed some (!) lack of clarity on the part of the pro-Bush crowd here and elsewhere on the nature of what was actually going on in Iraq before the war and what we knew about it. Sometimes it’s that Saddam actually had WMDs and we had good evidence that this was the case and other times it’s that Saddam was trying to get WMDs and we knew about it. This is not surprising, though, since the Bush administration itself went through a similar transformation: at first we were told that Saddam had all sorts of WMDs and by the end of the run-up to the war it was the claim the we had uncovered evidence that Saddam was engaged in WMD program-related activities–it is likely that this major shift in language meant that the Bush administration no longer felt as confident in its case and felt it could no longer get away with saying the things it had said earlier. It was just as the WMD case began to slip that the “democratization” argument made it’s strongest showing. This correlation does not prove that one caused the other, though, since “liberalization” arguments and arguments demonizing the enemy are very commonly made in the final run-up to a war. The Spanish-American War, for instance, was for the American people ostensibly about freeing the oppressed Cubans from those vicious Spanish apes who had blown up the Maine, but the conduct of the war revealed it was nothing of the kind.

    In the case of Iraq, it is important to remember that the Bush administration was in a different position with respect to the intelligence data than anyone else. It is not like they just sat back twiddling their thumbs waiting for what the intelligence community was going to come up with–“Gee, I wonder what them boys are findin’ out!” They placed trememdous pressure on the intelligence agencies to arrive at particular conclusions. Those persons who did not were ignored/discredited or told to go back and look at the evidence again until the “proper” conclusion was produced. In the end, this process, this imposition of groupthink, acted like a filter through which only those analyses of intelligence favorable to the view that Iraq was a grave threat (the Bush administration was careful to avoid claiming that the threat was “imminent”–see the spinsanity article on this point). Whether all this is “lying” might be mere semantics, but it is certainly quite dishonest and an immoral approach when used to make life-and-death decisions.

    I am interested a larger issue though: Even if we KNEW beyond all doubt that Saddam possessed stockpiles of banned weapons, would this have justified the massive attack we unleashed on Iraq? Would we be justified in killing tens of thousands (the obvious result of our battle plan) on the grounds that Saddam MIGHT give some of these weapons to a terrist group at some point in the future? Should it not be required that we have some evidence that Saddam has done such a thing or is about to? We didn’t even have good evidence that the stuff existed, much less evidence of its travels or likely destinations. So all the claims by the pro-war crowd that Saddam had this or Saddam had that are doubly sad–they are untrue and not adequate even if they were true.

  100. joe,

    “It was the containment that prevented this from happening – quite successfully, as we all no know”

    This is the fatal flaw in your argument. Containment, such as it was did not physically prevent Saddam from recreating the weapons (at least as far a chemical weapons were concerned). It merely provided a political incentive for him not to do so. He could have, at any time of his choosing, restarted the chemical weapons production within a matter of days. You cannot refute this assertion because it is based on technology, not political rhetoric.

    It appears that France and Russia had convinced him that they could get the sanctions lifted in a 2-5 years if he played nice. After his son-in-laws defection in ’96 he no longer believed he could had enough internal security to hide the facilities so he destroyed them covertly. He was merely waiting for one of two things to happen before reconstituting the weapons; (1) The sanctions regime was lifted giving him a free hand or (2) he decided the advantage of having or using the weapons outweighed the risk.

    You and I think about this problem from opposite poles. I start with the technology. I try to figure out what Saddam could have physically done had he chosen to and then try to deduce the best course from that. You, I believe, begin with the internal political outcome you desire for America and then reason backwards from there to conclude that Saddam poised no threat.

    We are never going to agree because the physical realities of the technology involved simply are of absolutely no concern to you. We might as well be debating whether Saddam had caches of Styrofoam shipping popcorn for the all difference it would make to your arguments. You didn’t want to have to deal with the consequences of Saddam being a threat so you simply declared him not to be one. I am never going to do that.

    You are never going to convince me of your viewpoint until you make at least the tiniest of attempts to change my mind about the physical realities.

  101. Shannon writes–“He could have, at any time of his choosing, restarted the chemical weapons production within a matter of days. You cannot refute this assertion because it is based on technology, not political rhetoric.”

    I am not sure what it means to base an assertion on “technology,” but let’s look at the assertion: Saddam “could have” restarted the chemical weapons production within a matter of days. To justify a massive invasion of a country, resulting in thousands upon thousands of dead Iraqis (not to mention the outrageous cost for us both in terms dollars and lives and in terms of our status in the world), based on the claim that Saddam might choose to “restart” a chemical weapons program is just plain wild-eyed. Even if what you say is true, Shannon, Joe is right: the policy of containment had reduced Saddam to the point where all he could do on the weapons front was to start up a chemical weapons program AND (as you admit!) he had a political reason NOT TO DO SO. Where is the threat?? What about this situation justifies the tremendous cost we and the Iraqis have paid?

  102. Shannon,

    Here is where – where this an eminent domain argument – joe would tell us all that only an expert can truly have an informed, reasoned opinion.

    Since expertise in WMD capabilities is more of a hard science than say, city planning, I would think that even more expertise would be required.

    Somehow, I don’t think joe will be arguing that, tho…

  103. I think Ethan said just about everything that needs to be said in response to Shannon.

  104. Joe

    “Ahmed Chalabi is not the legitimate representative of the Iraqi people. He’s not even an organized resistance group. He’s a wealthy scam artist who thought he could use our soldiers’ blood and our people’s treasure to set himself up as the King of Mesopotamia.”

    Bullshit man, just becouse you don’t like him doesn’t mean you get to choose…Chalabi was one of many Iraqi’s who were activly lobbying the US government to overthrow Saddam, he just happened to be the most visable…sorry, that happened and no amount of denial from you will change that. The statment was that there was no Iraqi resistance…i proved that wrong. The US did take Chalabi seriously and it did invade Iraq.

    nah nah nah..poop on your shoes.

  105. Ethan – The fact that Saddam wouldn’t conform to the requirements mean that he could have been up to all sorts of evil stuff. Not being able to tell that he wasn’t up to all kinds of evil led to the invasion. Ultimately, his failure to follow UN inspection protocol led to his being invaded.

  106. Rob,

    Sadly, I think that’s pretty much true. We went to war to find the evidence to support the war–but it wasn’t there. Joke’s on us, I guess. Oh, yeah, and some people died.

  107. Ethan – Yep. In a perfect world we’d have found out that this was entirely justified because Saddam was preparing the dirty neutron chem-bomb or something equally harsh sounding. Now we’re there, because it was the only alternative to waiting for the other shoe to drop, and we’re going to have to do right by the country we invaded based on the historical precedent we set with Japan and Germany.

    The alternative, I suppose, was simply to nuke Iraq and go our merry way – allowing us to skip the unpleasantries of conventional warfare and the horrors of war that I hear so much complaining about.

    Frankly, I find that option to be more barbaric than conventional warfare, but it’s cleaner in the sense that if we wipe out everyone indiscriminately we have no responsibility to them because there are no survivors. I think the sitation we’re in is preferable, despite it’s untidiness. Bonus for hard-core libertarians is that it’s also the cheapest solution available…

  108. The physical reality, Shannon, is that the hopeless, unworkable system worked. Maybe you should begin with that, and not worry so much about France, and Saddam’s feelings.

    “Containment, such as it was did not physically prevent Saddam from recreating the weapons (at least as far a chemical weapons were concerned). It merely provided a political incentive for him not to do so. He could have, at any time of his choosing, restarted the chemical weapons production within a matter of days. You cannot refute this assertion because it is based on technology, not political rhetoric” At which point, the threat of force inherent in the containment policy is acted on, and the bombings begin. Now we see the violence inherent in the system. Come see the violence inherent in the system!

    BTW, you can’t contradict the success of this strategy, because whether you care to refer to it as “physical” or “political” – it worked.

    “You, I believe, begin with the internal political outcome you desire for America and then reason backwards from there to conclude that Saddam poised no threat.” Uh, no, Shannon. I begin with the facts on the ground – the ones that demonstrate, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the policy had worked and continued to work – right up until Bush threw away the coercive inspections, and with them, several tens of thousands of people’s lives. To remove a threat that wasn’t there, that many of us realized wasn’t there, and that even he would have realized wasn’t there, had he not been so eager to see stuff blow up.

  109. I just read rob’s prediction of what my argument would be: “Here is where – where this an eminent domain argument – joe would tell us all that only an expert can truly have an informed, reasoned opinion.”

    In your face, Flanders! Ha ha.

    BTW, that’s not what would have happened in a perfect world. In a perfect world, the faith based imperialists would have had the analytical and intellectual capacities of their liberal betters, and concluded, as we did, that there was no WMD threat that justified an invasion.

    You two can declare the superiority of your reasoning all you want, but one side of this debate got it right, and it wasn’t yours. An honest thinker would reflect on that and draw some conclusions.

  110. Joe

    “that there was no WMD threat that justified an invasion.”

    Saddam had the will and the capacity and had used them in the past. In the world after 9/11 what more do you need?

    besides genocide, harboring Terrorists, threatining neighbors, funding terrorists, opression of iraqis, and defying the UN.

    By the way why was Blair lobbying Clinton first and Bush second to do this very thing BEFORE 9/11?

  111. Saddam had the will and the capacity and had used them in the past. In the world after 9/11 what more do you need?

    What if a terrorist Sunni quasi-state arises in the midst of the mess we’ve made of Iraq? …What if the Shiite extremists with the closest ties to Iran, a state sponsor of terror, find the will and the capacity to use WMD against us?

    …Reasonable justification is only the first step. (..and I don’t think the Bush Administration got that far.) The next step is figuring out whether what you want to do is the smart thing to do. …Just because a strategy is legal or justifiable doesn’t mean it’s the smart thing to do.

    As bad as things have been for the Iraqi people, they could get worse. As much of a potential threat to the American people as Saddam Hussein might have posed, we may have created an even greater threat.

    You probably think central planning fails for the same reasons I do. …It’s not that the people aren’t adequately represented on the central planning committee, it’s that there are too many freakin’ variables. …What the Bush Administration tried to do by occupying Iraq was much, much more complicated than just trying to run the economy. He wanted to remake their society and culture too! …Many, many more variables.

    That’s why so many imperialistic ventures fail. Central planning doesn’t improve across borders. …and we want Iraq run in a way that’s favorable to us on top of it all! …of course! …it’s a fool’s errand.

  112. ?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????God bless.

  113. Joshua offers: “Saddam had the will and the capacity and had used them in the past. In the world after 9/11 what more do you need?”

    Regarding the first sentence: “In the past”–are you referring to Saddam’s only significant use of WMDs, against the Kurds in the 1980s? Twenty years ago?! So let me get the principle right here–if someone does something bad decades ago they can be attacked with an invasion that kills tens of thousands of the citizens in that person’s country. “Had the will”–Really? I don’t think that this was established. It was never established that the reasons Saddam had to refrain from using WMDs were not the reasons guiding him. Wouldn’t we have to establish such things before bombing the hell out of those folks who happen to live in the same country Saddam does? “Had…the capacity”–This one is ambiguous. Does it mean “had the weapons” or “had the means to establish the infrastructure and programs necessary to create the weapons at some future date”? If the former, the claim is false; if the latter, the claim does not justify the assault that occurred. It is interesting that you chose the word “capacity.” There is a difference between a capacity and an ability. I have the “capacity” to play the piano since I have ten working fingers and a brain that is up to the task; however, I lack the “ability” to play the piano–I don’t know how. So Saddam did in fact have the “capacity” to use WMDs, in the sense that he could have created them someday, maybe, if he wanted. Wow, what a case you have made.

    Regarding the second sentence: I think you need more. What if the police here made the same argument? Suppose there has been a recent grisly murder recently (hey, there has been! that works out). Suppose also that there are plenty of people who own guns and who have the will and the capacity to use them (also true). Does this justify the police going in and killing those folks? No, of course not. What “more” is required? Well, at the very least, the cops would have to establish for any particular person that that person has some actual plan to use the gun for violence. Similarly, the mere fact that someone has WMDs and could use them (again, such claims were NOT established with respect to Saddam) does not justify a full-scale military assault. You also need to establish that there is an actual plan afoot that constitutes a threat and that this threat could be realized sometime in the near future (if you were to establish that Saddam could have a biological weapons factory up and running and distribute such weapons to terrorists 6 or 7 years from now, how does that justify an attack NOW?). Nothing even remotely like this was ever established. We attacked another country without justification, in the name of making ourselves safer, and all we have done is to make ourselves less safe and in the process kill thousands and thousands of people in the most horrific ways imaginable.

  114. “In a perfect world, the faith based imperialists would have had the analytical and intellectual capacities of their liberal betters, and concluded, as we did, that there was no WMD threat that justified an invasion.” – joe

    I guess the problem here is that I don’t see either side as having particularly brilliant analytical and intellectual capabilities. That’s what makes you a partisan hack and allows me the insight that you’ve devolved into a a partisan hack. I used to have some respect for you, because you seemed capable of seeing that both sides tend to be full of BS, but you’re rapidly pissing that away…

    “You two can declare the superiority of your reasoning all you want, but one side of this debate got it right, and it wasn’t yours. An honest thinker would reflect on that and draw some conclusions.” – joe

    That remains to be seen, joe. And nothing yo’ve said here makes me think that your answer is right – so blustering and proclaiming victory is more than premature on your part.

  115. Rob writes–“In a perfect world we’d have found out that this was entirely justified because Saddam was preparing the dirty neutron chem-bomb or something equally harsh sounding. Now we’re there, because it was the only alternative to waiting for the other shoe to drop.”

    I would modify the first sentence slightly:

    “In a…world (in which our leaders made rational and morally proper decisions) we’d have found (the justification for the war prior to the war)…or something equally…(commonsensical).

    With regard to the second sentence, I am not sure that this “other shoe” even existed, and if it didn’t it certainly would have a hard time dropping. Oh, and I don’t think that war was the only alternative to this dropped ghost shoe. Whether you think war was justified or not (I don’t), I think we can all agree that the particular approach we took to the war was not the only alternative.

  116. Tom,

    “You probably think central planning fails for the same reasons I do. …It’s not that the people aren’t adequately represented on the central planning committee, it’s that there are too many freakin’ variables. …What the Bush Administration tried to do by occupying Iraq was much, much more complicated than just trying to run the economy. He wanted to remake their society and culture too! …Many, many more variables.

    That’s why so many imperialistic ventures fail. Central planning doesn’t improve across borders. …and we want Iraq run in a way that’s favorable to us on top of it all! …of course! …it’s a fool’s errand.”

    jesus christ fuck an “a”…we finnally get a libertarian argument about the war. And how many god damn posts from lefties like joe before this one?? to answer my own question: to many.

    anyway i will fully admit my support of the war is an anti-libertarian stance…my only real defence is a *gasp* democrat interventionist one…ie it worked in europe and it worked in japan and it work (well 50% worked) in korea..thats it. my whole fucking argument.

    Thank you Tom for actually saying what needed to be said.

  117. Ethan,

    “Does it mean “had the weapons” or “had the means to establish the infrastructure and programs necessary to create the weapons at some future date”? If the former, the claim is false; if the latter, the claim does not justify the assault that occurred. It is interesting that you chose the word “capacity.””

    latter. and by capacity i mean he had 10 fingers and knew how to play…and although he didn’t have a piano he knew where to get one cheap and fast.

    “What if the police here made the same argument? Suppose there has been a recent grisly murder recently (hey, there has been! that works out). Suppose also that there are plenty of people who own guns and who have the will and the capacity to use them (also true).”

    In my post to tom I fully admitted that my stance was an anti-libertarian one. But in my last sentance I did mention 9/11. The equation had changed. and i have to give some credit to christefer hitchens…libertarianism does have the requrement of highly technical sociaty with a history and intitutions of a libreral democracy. Libertarianism is an end of history utopian ideal…it is safe to say that the world out side the US does not meet this criteria. Forign policy cannot be put the same standard as our internal law enforcement.

  118. Joshua writes–“we finally get a libertarian argument about the war. And how many god damn posts from lefties like joe before this one?? to answer my own question: too many.”

    Gee, you don’t consider my posts to be non-libertarian, or worse, “lefty,” do you Josh? A person who is a lefty could make them, I suppose (so could a conservative), but MY motivation for them derives from my belief in governmental restraint, which seems like a basic libertarian notion. I think (roughly speaking) that government power should be wielded rarely and then only with adequate justification once all other alternatives are exhausted. And I don’t think the Iraq war met this measure.

    –“my support of the war is an anti-libertarian stance…my only real defence is a *gasp* democrat interventionist one…ie it worked in europe and it worked in japan and it work (well 50% worked) in korea..thats it. my whole fucking argument.” Well, that something will “work” is not much of a defense. Killing everyone east of the Mississippi would “work” to minimize effects of overpopulation, but that doesn’t justify it. Germany and Japan were imperial threats–Iraq wasn’t. Surely that is a morally relevant difference, right?

  119. Joshua,

    You write “But in my last sentance I did mention 9/11. The equation had changed.” In my police analogy, the recent grisly murder is the part that is analogous to 9/11. And, by the way, it was just an analogy–I don’t think that every standard to which we hold police officers applies to the military. However, I do think that, like the police, the commander in chief must obtain proper evidence and moral justification before using deadly force. Just because a foreign leader might be able to get the means to do something bad sometime does not justify a full-scale military assault. See my earlier posts for the details.

    Also, I do not think it is enough to simply say “things have changed” or “the equation has changed” since 9/11 to justify the war. You need to explain the nature of this change, and why it allows us to throw out the window the principle that says that before we start killing people we have to make sure they pose an actual threat to us (as opposed to merely a potential or imagined or invented threat). The principle still seems like an important one, despite the fact that a bunch of (non-Iraqi) fundamentalists were able to fly some planes into some of our buildings (an attack that Saddam had nothing to do with and could not have contributed anything of value too even if he wanted to).

  120. “Killing everyone east of the Mississippi would “work” to minimize effects of overpopulation, but that doesn’t justify it. Germany and Japan were imperial threats–Iraq wasn’t. Surely that is a morally relevant difference, right?”

    I would first say the US did more for European liberal democrocy then just help get rid of the Nazis…it also included the Marshell plan, Nato and the Cold War. Also I would classify Iraq under saddam as an imperial threat…the difference being that durring ww2 there wasn’t a super power like the US is today.

    “Gee, you don’t consider my posts to be non-libertarian, or worse, “lefty,” do you Josh? A person who is a lefty could make them, I suppose (so could a conservative), but MY motivation for them derives from my belief in governmental restraint, which seems like a basic libertarian notion.”

    the derivative motivation of tom’s argument was not what motivated me to label his comments as “libertarian”. It was his actual argument. Perhaps others have made similar comments perhaps you have, but his was the first instance in which I noticed it. Sorry if proper kudos were not given out at the proper time.

    One thing to note is that I am taking what i think is a “lefty” possision…and Joe and other “lefties” are taking is what i think of as libertarian possition (although i don’t think they argue it as such) Which is that big government intervention works. I am actually suprised no one here has explored deeper into this subject.

  121. Yes, I think I misunderstood you on the whole “lefty” thing. Thanks for the explainin’

    –“the US did more for European liberal democrocy then just help get rid of the Nazis.”

    True.

    –“I would classify Iraq under saddam as an imperial threat…the difference being that durring ww2 there wasn’t a super power like the US is today.”

    It is true that there was no superpower in WW2 like the US, I suppose, but I really don’t think that Iraq ever constituted an imperial threat. On the other hand, there is that famous saying “the sun never sets on Iraq and Kuwait”.

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