July 22, 2003

A thought

I have just had an evil thought. While in an argument with a troll in this post, I mentioned that the shriekers in the press and in antiwar groups and so on used as one of their antiwar arguments the idea that Saddam Hussein would loose his WMDs at the coalition forces and the result would be millions of soldiers killed by nukes and poisonous gas and anthrax and, I don't know, armies of undead zombies and such. Well, as we all know this didn't happen, and so far it seems that it will not happen, either because Saddam's WMD capabilities were overestimated (which I am certainly willing to believe, considering what an egotistical blowhard he was, and how difficult it is to get clear intelligence out of that area) or the remaining loyalist forces can't get their hands on wherever these things have been stashed.

The evil thought I had was this: of all the people who seemed most to believe in the Imminent Threat of Weapons of Mass Destruction coming from Iraq, it seemed to be the antiwar groups (leftwing, rightwing, and wingnut) who were the most fervent in their fear -- well, their stated fear -- that these horrors would be unleashed upon the world due to the rash actions of the United States. All of the war supporters I have read all were of the opinion that the Iraqi forces would prove to be more bark than bite, though there was the chance that WMDs could be used. Guess who turned out to be right? So I think that the antiwar forces are miffed at the lack of the piles of corpses on our side. I think that they are pissed that they were so gullible -- they are the ones who sucked down the government's spin on the "imminent threat" (or misunderstood just what the administration meant by "imminent threat" -- I doubt they thought it meant that Saddam had nukes primed and ready to fire at Washington). So they are snarling and snapping now about the WMDs and the "sixteen words" and waving around the corpses of soldiers killed in "guerilla war" and shoving reports of grumpy soldiers (as if the normal state of military personnel is some sort of happy Disneyland in fatigues) and stuff like that because they can't stand how they have consistently been proved wrong.

Posted by Andrea Harris at July 22, 2003 09:59 AM

The hype about Saddam using WMD against American troops came from the Pentagon. Remember the reason why we had to start the war in March? Because the troops can't function in hot weather with those CBW protective suits on. Remember the famous "red circle" around Baghdad, the crossing of which would trigger the salvos of nerve gas, anthrax, ... ? That warning came straight from Rummy's office, via CentCom.

There was a reason for this: the danger to our troops reinforced the myth that Iraq was armed to the teeth with that stuff, a claim for which UNMOVIC found no evidence in their truncated inspection effort. The Americans won't find evidence either, no matter how long they keep up the search.

I had to smile at your use of "underestimated". Nice understatement there, very artful.

Posted by: Michael at July 22, 2003 at 10:17 AM

Sorry, "overestimated" not "underestimated".

Posted by: Michael at July 22, 2003 at 10:19 AM

Just wondering...after 9/11 some people claimed that Bush et al, did not do enough to prevent such a thing from happening, their guard was down, they were remiss, etc...now, after taking out Saddam and finding it difficult to find the WMDs that Saddam himself bragged about having, the same people proclaim just as loudly that Bush moved too precipitately...well, which is it? You're unhappy with Bush when third world lunatics destroy a sizable section of Manhattan and kill 3000 people; you're unhappy with Bush when he moves to prevent something similar being developed in a country run by a known murderous madman.
The only consistency in these comments is that they dislike Bush. I'm not a fan of the man either, but to use that dislike as the sole means of deciding an issue is remarkably counter-productive; it precludes engaging in any meaningful discussion of these important issues. I would suggest that you need to put aside personal hatred for Mr. Bush and try to discuss the salient and important points of the war in Iraq, the long term prospects for the region. The war is a done deal now, and cannot simply be wished away. We should be talking about what US policy should be now and long term. We cannot just leave, having found no WMDs. That would have far worse consequences. So, climb down off your crosses and get started thinking about what has to be done, not what should have been done...unless you're Mr. Peabody and you have a Wayback Machine.

Posted by: kevin at July 22, 2003 at 10:36 AM

If we go after every country against which we have the kind of evidence that we had against Iraq, we will squander out national treasure in no time at all and find our national defenses dispersed around the world when we need them most.

I have no idea whether Bush and Co. could have prevented 9/11 and didn't. (Maybe you know more about that than I do -- did you read the just-released report?)

I do know that Bush took us to war to avert an imminent threat and destroy a state-terrorist connection. Neither of those seem to have been borne out by what we found. Many people also questioned those claims at the time, apparently with good reason. For you to interpret my criticism of that war as somehow personal to Bush totally misses the point.

The US is not invulnerable. We have finite resources just like any other country. We must use them wisely, or we will certainly lose our status as the world's only superpower.

Do you honestly think our intervention in Iraq was a wise use of resources? Where should we go next, Syria? Iran? Are you willing to support those adventures on the basis of the kind of evidence they offered up for the Iraq war?

I'm not. It's nothing personal against Bush.

I'd like to suggest that these little wars actually make matters worse on the terrorism front. Killing innocent people and trashing their infrastructure only feeds the hatred that drove 9/11.

Posted by: Michael at July 22, 2003 at 10:51 AM

most of the argument, it seems to me, is in the past tense, we shouldn't have gone into Iraq given the evidence, etc. That's unproductive. The US is in Iraq now and for the foreseeable future. So, the discussion should be concentrated on that. What is our policy there? What will be our policy; and how will it serve US strategic interests?
Prior to Pearl Harbor, a large number of people did not see any benefit in allowing ourselves to be drawn into the European conflict. Yet, when it came, debate pretty much ended on that issue, and thought turned to how we must proceed. I think that's where we are right now.
As to Iran and Syria...Syria looks to be getting the message without any necessity of invasion. Iran is in turmoil internally, and perhaps with an American army next door, the mullahs will fall from power naturally. I think it could be argued that Bush struck at the festering problem of the middle east in a genuinely strategic manner by striking at Iraq and splitting them down the middle, placing American forces between two states that are known to support terrorism.
Having done very little to actively strike at terrorism for decades, I don't see that inaction had much success in preventing the growth of terrorism, and perhaps it might have abetted it.

Posted by: kevin at July 22, 2003 at 11:06 AM

The hatred that drove 9/11, Michael, was that of fanatics against an infidel who has the temerity to be rich, powerful, AND AN INFIDEL, rather than hatred "for those mean things the US did to our infrastructure". Reading the statements from al Quaeda made that abundantly clear, at least to me. Their critique of "us" is not the same as "our" critiques.

Do you have any evidence that wars like these Do More Harm Than Good? Especially, mind you, taking into account all the long-term and indirect goods of action (cultural respect for a "winner", the effects of utter defeat on forces claiming to have God on their side) and the similar harms of inaction (lack of respect for perceived weakness, etc.)...

(As for a lack of state-terrorist connections, I cannot imagine what world you live in, given the copious evidence of Iraq's involvement with international terror.)

Posted by: Sigivald at July 22, 2003 at 01:46 PM


Your argument seems to be the Left's typical schizoid line.

"Iraq had nothing to do w/ 9-11!" we are constantly reminded.

Fair enough. The hijackers, iirc, were mostly Saudi (15 of 19?), w/ a coupla Kuwaitis and possibly an Egyptian thrown in.

How did the US trash the infrastructure of any of these countries? We send >$2B in aid to Egypt. We spend billions on infrastructure in Saudi, run their oilfields. We liberated Kuwait from the Iraqis. Which infrastructure did we pulverize to alienate them again?

Posted by: Dean at July 22, 2003 at 01:53 PM

Interesting thoughts, I profess to be a moderate myself, somewhat right of center, however I have to wonder just what it is exactly that all the Bush apologists seem to think the word "imminent" means?

After all that word wasn't uttered by the left or the right, but by the President himself. I voted for George, but on the basis of what I'm hearing from the left, and the counter spin from an administration that contradicts itself almost every other day, I wonder if Bush really is nothing more than a mouthpiece for the neocons.

It's becoming more and more obvious that he has little idea about what he has said or when he said it, and with 93 American GI's killed since "the end" (his words not mine) of the major fighting one has to wonder what is really going on. It's very troublesome.

Posted by: Scott at July 22, 2003 at 03:07 PM

I always took it to mean an ongoing, constant threat--mostly to the region, and to our long-term security, one that would constantly be there until we took care of it.

If one simply reads the congressional authorization for the President to go to war with Iraq, you can see what all our reasons were. It was the product of more than a year of debate.

This is the biggest bit of historical revisionism that bothers me about the "Bush Lied" folks. Most of the quotes they use--save one or two--were things the President said after the congressional debate ended, and the country had authorized him to go to war. Then the administration's arguments shifted to the U.N., where WMDs became a much greater focus, and most of the focus was on proving that there was good evidence he had them and that he definitely wasn't cooperating.

I feel infinitely safer with that regime toppled. Since it toppled, terrorism has gone down, not up, and we now have a much greater position with other terror-sponsoring regimes in the area. It was the right thing to do.

Personally? I think Saddam went ahead and destroyed some WMDs but didn't want to admit it publicly since it would hurt his power. He also gave some to the Syrians, and some to some terrorist groups. And if we'd backed down and not invaded, he would have had his victory and created more WMDs.

It's what I think. I could be wrong but I don't care, because WMDs were never my primary reason for wanting to go. Nor, for that matter, were WMDs the primary reason the administration gave to the American public, they were merely one of over a dozen arguments.

I wish the Bush critics would at least acknowledge that much: yes, WMDs were only one reason among many. Cherry-picking a few quotes here and there isn't good enough. Read that congressional resolution of force again--it'll make you remember all the other stuff we debated about for over a year.

Posted by: Dean Esmay at July 22, 2003 at 04:38 PM


It is absolutely crucial that we, as a nation, examine our policy mistakes and try to avoid repeating them. I agree completely that we need to think very hard about where to go from here in Iraq, but that does not need to be at the expense of debating whether we had a solid basis for war. Absent that debate, we will do this again and again, and the resulting world will be a utopia for terrorists.


I never said we trashed the infrastructure of Egypt or Saudi Arabia, nor did I mean to imply that the aftermath of our ill-concieved wars were the only driver for terrorism. But they are a driver for, not against, the ability of al Qaeda similar organisations to recruit new members.

Dean Esmay,

The cogressional authorisation you're talking about was passes in a climate of credulity toward Bush and Cheney. In light of what we now know, even about what they were saying then, it's quite beside the point.

But, as you said, the whole ostensible rationale of the war is beside the point for many Bush partisans. It wasn't about WMD or the terrorist connection, but abut getting rid of a horrendous tyrant.

In a democracy, the policy is about what was debated, not what was in the mind of the president pushing the policy. There is a reason why Bush sexed-up the threat posed by Saddam: he new that the other reasons wouldn't have come close to winning the debate. 180 senators and representatives who voted for the war later acknowleged doing so in large part because of the Iraqi nuclear threat.

The rest may have been enough for you and Bush, but without the hype and lies, we would not have fought that war.


It's always easier to question someone else's grip on the facts than to present some yourself, isn't it? Go ahead, cite a piece of credible evidence of a Saddam - al Qaeda connection.

Posted by: Michael at July 22, 2003 at 05:53 PM


Unlike Michael, who I believe will be proven wrong, albeit with intelligent arguments, I have zero respect for you. You sir, are either a LIAR or an idiot. I put that in caps because, unlike many on the right and left, I consider that a serious allegation and I don't use that term lightly. First let's deal with your misinformed (I'm assuming, unless these too are part of your lie) "facts". Bush did not use the word "imminent" to describe the Iraqi threat. Yes, he uttered the word but, in fact, to describe why we can't wait for the threat to be imminent. "The end" (your words, not Bush, he said "Major combat operations in Iraq have ended") were of MAJOR COMBAT OPERATIONS. Only 46 soldiers (Sh*t, I hate having to use that word ONLY, when it comes to our fighting men and women, but you forced me into it) have been killed in hostile actions, not bad considering the length of the Hussien rule and the lingering after effects.

Okay, let's cut to the chase. I call you a liar (or an idiot, your choice) because no moderate, right of center, Bush voter could come up with your "Bush is a puppet of the neocons", "Bush is an idiot who doesn't know what he's saying" meme. I don't buy it. At any of the service academies, an accusation of an honor offense is very serious. Therefore, I'm gonna back up this seriousness with my wallet. 50 bucks goes to the charity of your choice if you can give me evidence that I'm wrong (or you can admit you're an idiot, which I doubt, real right/left of center moderates are too educated to spew the claptrap you did). An additional 50 bucks goes to you.....

Ready for the challenge? Note that I'm not asking anything from you if I'm right.

Posted by: JFH at July 22, 2003 at 07:35 PM

Michael – could you please explain your theory about how war can spontaneously generate terrorists? Do you really believe it’s an act of desperation, motivated by a desire for revenge?

Since there is no example of this occurring in the real world, and since most research has shown that terrorism is a military tactic funded and used by the middle and upper class to gain power (ie: the 9/11 attacks, which were funded and carried out by wealthy Saudis), and since the use of military force against the states that support terrorism has been shown to reduce the occurrence of terrorist attacks, I’d appreciate if you’d explain how your theory is supposed to work.

Scott –LOL – JFH said it so well – you say you voted for Bush, you say you’re a moderate, but you think Bush just isn’t that bright and the left has a lot of important points to make - and you’re concerned about the neocon conspiracy? Tell me, how do you define neocons? Do they tend to have a lot in common with, say, Perle and Wolfowitz? Do they tend to be Jews? Are they part of a cabal?

If you’re a moderate who voted for Bush, then I’m Susan Sarandon.

Posted by: mary at July 22, 2003 at 08:51 PM


There's nothing "spontaneous" about it. Are you familiar with the concept of "collateral damage"? What happens is, bombs go off target a little bit and kill a bunch of innocent civilians, or the targeting information is slightly incorrect and the bombs are delivered as intended, but kill a bunch of innocent civilians anyway.

These deaths of non-combatants make people angry. They also make them easy marks for the propoganda of extremists who are recruiting for terrorist cells. It all feeds into a cycle of hopelessless and despair that breeds the hatred that populates al Qaeda with fresh combatants.

I can't prove this scientifically, but it makes intuitive sense, don't you think? Certainly, the massacres at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods by the USS New Jersey during the war in Lebanon proved a boon to Hizbollah and the Islamic Jihad.

If this isn't an underlying dynamic, then I'd put the question to you: why is al Qaeda lousy with new joiners at the moment? And why do you think deposing a secular regime that was as much an enemy of radical Islam as the US is, and killing thousands of innocent bystanders in the process, would help the war on terrorism?

I think it's fair to put the burden on those who advocate such an unfocused exercise of raw military power, don't you?

Posted by: Michael at July 22, 2003 at 09:33 PM

Michael - Oh, the cycle of violence theory. That must explain why thousands of people (mostly Saudis) joined al Qaeda before 9/11. That’s why most of the prisoners in Guantanamo are Saudis - because of the war we waged against their country, and all of those innocent people we killed.

Maybe the increase in al Qaeda membership has something to do with the fact that some extremist Wahhabis (ie. al Qaeda, Abdul Aziz) would like to grab power away from other extremist Wahhabis (Abdullah). We’re in the process of withdrawing our troops from the region – a sign of hope for some.

Saudi Arabia is extremely unstable, and Iraqi oil will help keep the world market stable in the event that something happens there. That’s one of many reasons for the war.

More oil on the market could also lower prices. Al Qaeda depends on that oil for their income. Maybe that explains the presence of so many ‘Arab fighters’ in Iraq. Who do you think is sabotaging Iraqi oilfields, anyway – the Iraqis? I don’t think even the Baathists are crazy enough to try to destroy their own economy. Without oil, what would they live on?

Maybe your theory could explain why so many Palestinian suicide bombers are from the middle class, or why the leadership of Hamas looks so well-fed and happy. They’re not fighting oppression, they’re trying to establish it.

The Taliban had a habit of slaughtering their people by the thousands. That slaughter has stopped, and al Qaeda was seriously damaged. If we hadn’t gone to war in Afghanistan, there would have been many more Afghans dead, and many more terror attacks. Saddam Hussein was giving 20% of his oil-for-food money to the Palestinians. Without that money, terrorist thugs have begun to steal from their own patrons, the Palestinian upper class. That’s not going to win them any hearts and minds.

Your theory of spontaneous generation is a myth, but thanks for explaining it.

Posted by: mary at July 22, 2003 at 11:01 PM


There is a convergence of forces that lead to terrorism. Islamic fundamentalism is clearly one of these, no argument there. Another is the sense of hopelessness that pervades many Arab countries. Tom Friedman has written extensively on the lack of modernity as a force driving people to extreme measures.

The despair in that part of the world did not begin with the Iraq war, obviously, but I can't escape the idea that it has been exacerbated.

One must also distinguish between the leaders and the rank-and-file of terrorist organisations like al Qaeda. Bin Laden came from a wealthy famly and is worth more than the GDP of Afghanistan (Mullah Omar was probably his guest as much as the reverse.) But that is certainly not typical of his lower-level people, particularly those willing to carry out suicide missions.

By the way, anger at injustice cuts across class boundaries.

I don't understand your point about oil, but it sounds as if you think one of the reasons we went in was to insure lower, more stable prices in the future. I doubt you intended to play into the hands of the looney left "it's all about oil" crowd like that, so I suspect I missed your core point.

I'd like to know why you're so sure that al Qaeda has been badly damaged, or that they haven't repaired the known damage. Several recent reports have indicated that they have done just that.

I'm also curious why you think Iraq was connected to terrorism in a significant way. The Bush administration's case was certainly less than convincing. Did they fail to point out something you're aware of? They might appreciate hearing from you. :)

Posted by: Michael at July 22, 2003 at 11:35 PM

When I referred to "anger at injustice" I didn't mean to imply that I necessarily agree with the assessment. Much anger in the Arab world is misdirected, and that is a large part of the problem we face. Perhaps "anger at perceived injustice" would have been more precise.

Posted by: Michael at July 22, 2003 at 11:38 PM

This is precious, it's more important to call people names than to argue points, great. I may well be misinformed on some points, however it would appear that the man I voted for President of this country has equally misinformed an awful lot of people.

Go ahead, continue to drink the koolaid and continue to unflinchingly toe the party line. The only idiots I see are those too hell bent assured of themselves not to question what is really going on here and in Iraq right now.

Do you all think if Liberia had the oil resources that Iraq has we would be debating action there? Sadaam Hussein was an evil bastard there is no question on that and the fact that the administration had to over state its case for war with Iraq should trouble all of you as there was never any need to.

So I'm a liar for having said I'm a moderate republican and did in fact vote for Bush? The reality is I voted for Bush, because I believe in states rights, I believe in fiscal responsibility, and I believe in honor and integrity, in other words I believed what he said. Right now between administrative spin doctoring and flip flopping on who said what it looks like the only thing that was left of what the man I voted for was the integrity, and I'm wondering about that now.

There can be no question that states rights have taken a backseat, and check that deficit for fiscal responsibility.

You all can continue to drink the koolaid as much as you want, I'm gonna let the ice melt in mine and watch for awhile.

Oh and as for that 43 dead since the end of major hostilities, you're absolutely right it doesn't sound like much. Especially if you're a calous moron who doesn't think those killed had mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers,wives and children. Of course if you are one of the 43 then it truly sucks, especially if there was no valid reason for you to have been there in the first place. This war was never billed as bringing humanitarian relief to a down trodden Iraqie populous no matter how some of you want to argue it. To argue now that it was is indeed idiotic.

Posted by: Scott at July 22, 2003 at 11:43 PM


States' rights have not been the same since Bush v. Gore, when the Supreme Court intervened in the process by which Florida was choosing electors. Must have been a tough start for someone who voted for Bush because of states' rights!

Fiscal responsibility tasted it soon afterward.

My condolences.

Re: name calling: that's to be expected on the internet. What's unusual on this site is the extent to which the blogger herself resorts to that in lieu of responding with substance. Best to just ignore it and put forth your strongest case on the merits.

Posted by: Michael at July 22, 2003 at 11:57 PM

Dear JFH,

Imminent threat dude, North Korea prior to last October, still imminent.... I know, let's take out the maybe imminent one day Iraq. Good argument.

Here's the part where you need to check your reading comprehension. See the part where I said "I wonder". Show me how that says "Bush is acting as a puppet of the neocons"? Although I must admit that's a nice tagline and with current appearances I would say you obviously have given that some thought yourself.

Regardless, it's obvious with your strident rhetoric and name calling that you're not really interested in influencing anyone else's opinion you just want to see if you can shout louder.

Not much of a debate, I guess I was looking for some reassurances that I was looking at things wrong and might be given some different thoughts on what's currently in the news. Thanks for helping JFH and Mary. Oh by the way Mary, you do bear an uncanny resemblence to Susan Sarandon.

Posted by: Scott at July 23, 2003 at 12:02 AM

My point about the oil is that different groups of extremist Wahhabis are fighting to keep the price of Saudi oil stable, and they’re also fighting for the control of that Saudi oil. Why would bin Laden have been so upset about ‘infidels on the holy land’ when infidels had been in the holy land for many years? He just objected to our military presence because we were in his way. Saudi Arabia seems to be heading towards a civil war.

About Saddam’s support of terrorism. There is this link: "With the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq, the flow of millions of dollars that the Iraqi leader sent to support the Palestinian intifada has abruptly ended."

..and the resulting attacks against wealthy Palestinians: Palestinians in Nablus Fed Up With Crime Posing as Jihad

Scott - Thanks, I think. She is a little older than me. We are both from Jersey though.

Posted by: mary at July 23, 2003 at 12:22 AM

"States' rights have not been the same since Bush v. Gore, when the Supreme Court intervened in the process by which Florida was choosing electors"


The Supremes overrode the Florida Court because they violated federal election laws as well as violating the Florida constitution. And the vote was 7-2, which means that two of the liberals voted with the so-called conservatives.

Beyond which, the idea of the "cycle of violence" has been proven to be a load of crap. If it were true, we would still be fighting the Germans and the Japanese. For that matter, why are so many of the same people who opposed the war in Iraq willing to risk American lives in Liberia? Why doesn't the vaunted "cycle of violence" apply there? Or in the Ivory Coast (invaded by France just this year)?

"If we go after every country against which we have the kind of evidence that we had against Iraq, we will squander out national treasure in no time at all and find our national defenses dispersed around the world when we need them most"

Yes, we will spend treasure. Call it a capital investment in a better future, one in which the fanatics have been exterminated, and the almost-fanatics have learned that they can't murder people with impunity. And I hope the people in power realize that the road to this future goes through the heart of islamofascist territory. Iraq just happens to be a convenient staging ground.

Posted by: Ken Summers at July 23, 2003 at 12:32 AM

Oh, and about the "imminent" threat from North Korea? No shit. That's why we took out Hussein before he actually acquired nukes. It's much harder to do after. We should have stopped North Korea years ago instead of giving them bribes.

Posted by: Ken Summers at July 23, 2003 at 12:34 AM


Saddam's $25,000 payments to families of suicide bombers attacking Israel has been known for a while, and having that cut off is definitely a good thing. (Whether it was worth it, on balance, is another matter.) But is that what you meant by his support for terrorists? I thought perhaps you had the goods on a Saddam - al Qaeda connection, as Bush alleges.

The Palestinian thing is a bit different: it is a struggle for national liberation by an oppressed group of people against a highly militarized state (to put it in the languange of the Palestinians). In contrast, bin Laden's agenda is something else, to re-establish the glory days of Islam, circa 1400 or so.

I suspect most Americans would be surprised to learn that, in the Iraq war, we weren't fighting terrorism directed at the Unites States. I'm a little taken aback by this myself, having listened to Colin Powell at the UN.

Thanks for clarifying that, and for putting the oil-driven motive in an honest context. "Iraqi oil will help keep the world market stable in the event that something happens there." speaks volumes. And you make is sound much more credible than, say, International ANSWER. But it's the same basic idea. It was about oil!

Posted by: Michael at July 23, 2003 at 12:42 AM

Ken Summers,

When any Federal court interprets a state constitution, the relevant concept is "trampling on states' rights."

Posted by: Michael at July 23, 2003 at 12:52 AM

Michael: Incorrect. Sorry, but the Federal Constitution specifically calls on the state legislature to decide how electors are chosen, not state courts. There was no trampling of states' rights, because that's not a right granted to the state government as a whole, but the legislature. And the Florida Supreme Court was clearly trampling on the Constitution. Bush v. Gore was the correct decision even from a firm states' rights position. Because in this rather unique case, the Constitution protects a specific right to the state legislature, and not any other body in that state--leaving the SCOTUS the only appropriate body to really determine the Florida legislature's will. A unique case, but hardly a threat to states' rights.

As for the rest: you seem to be one who starts with the axiomatic, a priori assumption that "Bush lied," and to work all reasoning from there. To me, he gets the benefit of the doubt, and I find the arguments that he lied lacking in credibility. I also find several of your assertions rather weak, starting with the notion that all other arguments for war would have failed.

But, whatever. It's clear neither of us will convince the other. You find my reasoning wanting, and I find yours wanting. Oh well.

Posted by: Dean Esmay at July 23, 2003 at 02:04 AM

Dean Esmay, I heard that argument at the time, and was skeptical on two grounds:

1) Judicial review: no legislative system can function without courts to determine the state and federal constitutionality of the laws they pass. The suggestion that the framers intended to nullify the state courts' right of judicial review was not credible.

2) Timing of the intervention: the Supreme Court could well have let the Florida process run it's course and ruled on any issues afterward. (The likely outcome apparently would have been to elect Bush anyway, and all the strife could have been completely avoided.) Instead, they jumped in prematurely, for explicitly political reasons (Remember Scalia's bold statement that the urgency was dictated by the real risk of harm to one party to the lawsuit? The contemplated harm was that Bush might lose the election!)

On Bush, I didn't start with the assumption that he was lying, I was led there by the evidence.

Can you name one instance in connection with Iraq where he told the truth on a significant issue? (I doubt it.)

Posted by: Michael at July 23, 2003 at 05:02 AM


Sorry, one last comment.

You mentioned that you're not convinced that all other arguments for war would have failed. That's fair enough -- who knows for sure? I think they would have failed because without the grave threat assertion, Saddam would be in a category with about a half-dozen other tyrants, and why attack him and not the others? But we can disagree on that.

What offends me and should offend you is the argument that "we had many other compelling reasons for the war, so the fact that the nuclear thereat one was suspect doesn't matter in the end." That attitude makes a mockery of the democratic process, because congress considered all the arguments that were presented and apparently were persuaded by the nuclear threat claim.

I'm not saying you're saying that. But Condi Rice made exactly that argument soon after the Niger uranium hoax was exposed.

Posted by: Michael at July 23, 2003 at 05:24 AM


Re-reading what I wrote about moving on to what should happen now and into the future, I can see that it might appear that I implied that debate over what we did and how we got to that point should be curtailed.
And so it should...right now. But after things have settled down, I agree with you completely that the discussion should return to whether or not it was justified.
Arguing that now, however, reduces the focus of the discussion on what should be our policy in the immediate future.


Posted by: kevin at July 23, 2003 at 09:20 AM

Michael, once again: The Florida Supreme Court violated Federal Law in a Federal election. The Florida court overturned specific plain language to allow cherry picking of votes in four overwhelmingly Democratic counties. That makes it not only a violation of the Florida Constitution and the US Constitution (on Dean's point), but it violates the Equal Protection clause of the 14th Amendment (I should think it obvious that anything less than a statewide recount does so).

Also, I can't understand why you think it's okay for the Florida court to jump into it so quickly but not the US court. Surely the finality of a Presidential election is reason enough for the Court to review it (and judicial review must certainly include the US Supreme Court).

And to get back to the original discussion, military action in Iraq was authorized by Congress three months before Bush mentioned "the 16 words".

Posted by: Ken Summers at July 23, 2003 at 09:49 AM

As I re-read my response and read your rebutals:

I apologize for using the word "idiot". I should have said that the alternate explanation for your views is that you are ignorant. Hopefully, this should help you understand that I did not intend to be merely spout "strident rhetoric" and "name-calling". The "LIAR" part I will not retract, nor apologize, as this was a genuine accussation.

At this point, you have done a poor job at convincing me you are not ignorant or a liar. If you truly wanted a "debate" or were looking for "reassurances that I was looking at things wrong" (which I believe is another lie), your response would have been different, in my opinion.

For example, you quickly dismissed your misquotes, which should have helped you reassure you that maybe Bush isn't "misinforming" a lot of us. In addition, you defend your post by insulting my reading comprehension because you preface a phrase with the words "I wonder". Good reading comprehension relies on understanding the theme of someone's written word and reading between the lines. Your initial post, I believe, was intended to sound like you were very troubled with the Bush administration, but I saw through that. You subsequent posts did nothing but re-inforce my opinion. BTW, the humanitarian angle WAS sited as ONE of many reasons for the war (no matter how YOU want to argue it, to argue that it wasn't means you weren't listening and are ignorant of the justifications to go to war). Finally, my bet still stands: come on change my mind on your political stance (it's gonna be a lot easier than changing my mind on the issues you find very "troublesome")

Posted by: JFH at July 23, 2003 at 10:32 AM

Michael - you say that it was all about the ooiiill, you say the palestinians are an oppressed people who are fighting a highly militarized state - you have a whole lefty agenda to promote here, don't you?

The most convincing argument in favor of the war that I ever heard was from an anti-war activist. She said that the sanctions would work against Iraq because they worked so well in North Korea. I was also in favor of ending an oppressive regime that tortured and murdered thousands of it's own people. There were many arguments in favor of the war - ending the sanctions was also a good one. Remember those UN sanctions, the ones that the left called 'US sanctions', the ones that they used to blame America for the starvation of five hundred thousand, no one million, no, three million Iraqi babies.

Of course, Saddam was stealing the money and giving the rest to the Palestinians, those poor oppressed Palestinians. Did you know that Iraqis were attacking Palestinians after the war, that they kicked some of them out of the country? Those poor oppressed Palestinians. How come the left isn't screaming about the Iraqi children anymore. Why are they ignoring that issue?

Speaking of poor oppressed Palestinians, what do you know about Hamas? Do you know that the wealthy leaders of Hamas are the Islamist version of the KKK, that their goal is to eliminate the state of Israel and establish an Islamist state similar to the one bin Laden envisioned?

About the oil - oil is neccessary to the functioning of the world's economy. How did ANSWER transport themselves to Washington for their protests, did they walk? If you don't like the fact that oil is essential to the world's economy, I suggest you boycott it. Fill your car's tank with used french fry oil, like they do in England. Show Dick Cheney and the Carlyle group that they can't push you around. Do something useful instead of wasting our time promoting these old lefty arguments.

Posted by: mary at July 23, 2003 at 11:06 AM

Interesting that the State Supreme Court neglected to find the law unconstitutional at the time of passing. Nor did they find it unconstitutional during the election, IIRC. Instead, they just directed the superintendents of election to recount in a manner of their own choosing. It's not clear to me how this is not an attempt to circumvent the Florida Legislature.

Posted by: David Perron at July 23, 2003 at 05:21 PM

David, it went beyond that. They not only decided to ignore the date written into the law, they imposed an arbitrary new date then ignored that one.

BTW, they were slapped down by SCOTUS twice. The first one they ignored, which is why SCOTUS stepped in and slapped them again.

Posted by: Ken Summers at July 23, 2003 at 07:25 PM

Mary, You said it was about oil (three times now), not me. I just complimented you on the clarity and coherence of your presentation. It doesn't mean I agree with you.

As for Hamas, etc. I've tried (apparently without success) to distinguish between the leadership, which certainly does have all the motives and resources you attribute to them, and the rank-and-file, who are recruited out of a climate of misery and hopelessness.

Rather than bringing up straw men and mindless labels like "lefty", how about giving us your view of why al Qaeda is rife with new joiners at the moment?

Posted by: Michael at July 23, 2003 at 08:14 PM

Michael - I put so much effort into writing this, and you don't read it. I already explained why al Qaeda membership could be up - al Qaeda is primarily a Saudi operation opposed to the current government, we're withdrawing our troops from SA, they see an opportunity.

Terrorism is a military tactic fueled by hope and large sums of cash. They're not trying to stop misery and oppression, they're trying to establish it. Their actions prove it.

Here is one of many links that describes how suicide bombers are recruited from the upper and middle class, written by my favorite columnist, Joel Mowbray, who is the only journalist to have been genuinely oppressed by the US government..


"Blowing one’s self up for the honor of “Palestine” is such a privilege that recruiters are able to pluck most of their human cruise missiles from stable, middle- and upper-middle-class families—-the very people who are least likely to fully suffer from the indignities endured by other Palestinians."

Posted by: mary at July 23, 2003 at 09:17 PM

Mary, Maybe I'm thick, but I re-read your posts again and don't see where you said that before.

I'm quite skeptical of the idea that cash alone is pulling in hundreds or thousands of people who are willing to die for Islam.

We've gone pretty far for another point of this exchange: whether it makes sense to attack countries like Iraq in the war on terror. You tacitly agreed with me by citing only the connection with Palestinian terrorist, and not any groups targetting the US. UPI is now reporting that the joint congressional inquiry into 9/11 found no evidence of an Iraq connection either to those attacks or to al Qaeda generally.

Posted by: Michael at July 23, 2003 at 10:03 PM

Okay, Michael, document for us when Bush ever stated that there was a connection between Saddam and Al Qaeda. I don't recall that he ever did. What he stated was that there was a clear and present connection between Saddam and terror, which constituted a reasonable and sufficient cause for action.

The claim of a connection between Saddam and Al Qaeda has however been made, first by the Czechs, who reported shortly after 9/11 that there had been a meeting in Prague between an Iraqi intelligence officer and Mohammed Atta. The most signicant evidence to turn up in Iraq so far was brought to light by Judge Merritt, Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, who reported:

"The document shows that an Iraqi intelligence officer, Abid Al-Karim Muhamed Aswod, assigned to the Iraq embassy in Pakistan, is ''responsible for the coordination of activities with the Osama bin Laden group.''

The document shows that it was written over the signature of Uday Saddam Hussein, the son of Saddam Hussein. . . ."

Posted by: triticale at July 23, 2003 at 10:09 PM


Are you joking? Go back and read Colin Powell's presentation to the UN on February 5. He speaks at length about the Iraq - al Qaeda connection. All rubbish, in retrospect, which is probably why it slippedd your mind.

The Czech claim was subsequently withdrawn in light of proof that Atta was somewhere else on the purported meeting date.

As for Judge Merritt's claims, is he an expert on Iraqi government documents in Arabic? It's a subtle area, and lots of forgeries are floating around, e.g. the papers implicting George Galloway that were obtained by the Christian Science Monitor. Have the documents' authenticity been confirmed by experts? (By the way, your quote marks don't pair up, so it's hard to tell whether your quoting Merritt or the documents themselves. I guess it would be Merrit, since the documents were in Arabic. If not who did the translation?)

Posted by: Michael at July 23, 2003 at 10:30 PM

Michael – did you read the Mowbray article? Terrorism is motivated by a combination of hope, brainwashing and large sums of cash. Islamists may be way behind us in technology, but they have made a science of the technique of using religion and nationalism to convince people to do stupid things. It has nothing to do with poverty, revenge or desperation. We should do what we can to eliminate poverty, because that’s a good thing to do. It’s not going to stop terrorism.

There’s not much of a point in debating whether we should invade ‘countries like Iraq’. We’re in Iraq, it’s done. In the future, different tactics can be used to solve different problems. Oppressive homicidal regimes are like snowflakes, no two are exactly alike.

When it comes to fighting terrorism, why should we only be concerned with al Qaeda? Al Qaeda is part of a larger problem. Islamic fundamentalism is responsible for the deaths of millions of people around the world. That’s a larger problem.

Posted by: mary at July 24, 2003 at 12:46 PM

We better debate whether invading uninvolved countries is a good idea, otherwise we'll keep making that mistake.

Posted by: Michael at July 24, 2003 at 04:34 PM

What mistake? Not debating or not invading? And what "uninvolved" country did we invade? We didn't invade Thailand or Nauru; we invaded 1) Afghanistan, whose totalitarian theocratic government was harboring a terrorist organization whose members had infiltrated and attacked our country; and 2) Iraq, whose head of state had been openly flouting UN directives (you know what they were) which had been put in place as the price for allowing this same head of state to remain in power after he had invaded a neighboring country, had been harboring and/or sponsoring a variety of terrorist groups (some of whom had been involved even if only indirectly in the World Trade Center attack), was extremely unstable due to the expansionist and imperialist ambitions of the aforementioned head of state, and yes, was a major source of the one substance, oil, without which the economy of the world would collapse and we would fall into a dark ages.

Believe me, I'll be as mad as the next person if our government decides to invade Chile or Laos or New Zealand. But I am not mad that the government dedided to invade Iraq because of some naive idea that it was totally "uninvolved" in the current crisis. If you have a problem with invading Iraq, let it be for some reason that isn't so silly.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at July 24, 2003 at 06:15 PM

That should be "what mistake, not debating or invading?" It's been a long day.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at July 24, 2003 at 06:18 PM

I was referring to Iraq, in the context of the war on terrorism.

I'm still interested in any evidence that you have showing Iraqi support for terrorists. OK, Mary made a good point about the Paestinian terrorist connection, but what about terrorists targetting the US?

One component of that case must be willful involvement. Otherwise, I guess you could say Germany harbored terrorists prior to 9/11. (You're not saying that, are you?)

Posted by: Michael at July 24, 2003 at 07:35 PM

Christ Almighty, Michael, no that is not what I am saying. Now you are being deliberately disingenuous, and that really pisses me off, because I don't think that even you believe that a country that unwittingly harbors terrorists (as in, they moved to said country under false pretenses -- you know, they lied on their immigrant ap?), or a country that is at least trying to dislodge the terrorist groups that have developed within its borders (such as the Phillipines and Indonesia) is the same thing as a country whose head of state knowingly harbors terrorist groups and trains them and gives their families money. And I am sorry to burst your bubble, but Al Qaeda is not the only terrorist group that has America as its target. We are the ultimate target for all these people; we aren't called the "Great Satan" for nothing.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at July 24, 2003 at 08:55 PM


We're in violent agreement: a country should not be held responsible for terrorist cells operating in their territory unbeknownst to them. That's what I was trying to say. Glad we're both clear on that.

What's missing from your argument is evidence. I conceded the point about Saddam's payments to Palestinian suicide bombers (twice now). Is that all you have? Do you have some information that supports the knowing harboring charge or the training charge? Do you have any evidence that relates to non-Palestinian groups, or groups that are targetting the US?

I agree that al Qaeda is not the only terrorist group that would like to hit the US. Al Qaeda is in the spotlight because Bush and Powell alleged a connection between Iraq and al Qaeda. Maybe you're not asserting that, but it was a major pillar of the case for attacking Iraq. Now it appears that claim was as bogus as the WMD threat. Anyway, if Iraq wasn't supporting al Qaeda, which group(s) targeting the US were they supporting? And how do you know?

Posted by: Michael at July 24, 2003 at 09:24 PM

Oh good god. Gee, uh, I dunno, I'm on this internet thingy, and I've heard they have this -- this search capability. Hey! I've got it! Go to Google.com and look it up yourself. I mean -- I thought that it was at least common knowledge by now that Saddam Hussein had been deeply involved with all sorts of terrorist groups. While the link to Al Qaeda might be tenuous, how about Hamas? Oh all right, here, here is a link. And here's a brief timeline. And even more links! Have fun.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at July 24, 2003 at 09:44 PM

OK, no evidence. (Unsupported assertions are not evidence. A huge collection of links is not evidence. Unverified documents are not evidence.)

Thanks for the links, though. If you have time to go through them and mention something you find convincing, I'll be happy to pursue it.

By the way, Powell made a serious attempt to present evidence of an al Qaeda connection to the UN, but it has all been discredited. The main part was the known presence of al Zaqari (probably misspelled) on Iraqi territory. That's why I brought up the Hamburg cell -- to illustrate that presence in country is not enough. It turned out that this guy was known to be in Kurdish-controlled areas, and now there are questions about whether he was connected to al Qaeda at all.

Can you see why I'm not prepared to believe any old website with an ax to grind? Hell, if I were willing to do that, I'd just believe .... you!

Posted by: Michael at July 24, 2003 at 10:14 PM

Okay, that's it. I am closing this comment section, and banning you for the time being. I politely asked you to drop this discussion. You didn't. You demanded I furnish you with "proof," as if I was a one-woman fucking CIA. I sent you to sites with links so you could do some reading on your own and quit bugging me. You said I hadn't given you what you wanted. And by the way -- you totally took over this comment section and took it in the direction you wanted it to go. You kept repeating the same thing over and over... Good bye. Like I said, I don't mind "disagreement," what I mind is being hectored and harangued. I have too many other things to do.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at July 24, 2003 at 11:05 PM