We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Borne on the wings of a lie?

I came across this article, via Jim Henley, and the piece does raise some uncomfortable – to put it mildly – questions about how advocates of the recent Iraq war should feel if it turns out that Bush and Blair told untruths (perish the thought) about the existence and scale of WMDs in Iraq.

If Bush, Powell and the Rest lied deliberately to us to boost the case for war, then that is baaaaaad news, in my view. For starters, pro-war folk like me who took the stance we did on proactive self defence will feel betrayed. We have been made to look like twerps. Yes, I know that you might argue that we should not have been so naive in the first place (ever trust a politician?), but the WMD threat seemed to be pretty genuine, if only because of what happened under Saddam’s rule these past two decades or more. And of course the onus was on him, not us, to comply with the terms laid down by United Nations weapons inspectors. He didn’t as even Hans Blix’s report made clear shortly before hostilities commenced. Even so, the feeling of betrayal will be immense if turns out that Bush and Blair seriously exaggerated the evidence.

Which may suggest that our whole approach to self defence needs a major rethink. It suggests to me that the CIA and other intelligence services in the west require a massive overhaul, if not outright abolition. I haven’t seen any examples in the media of such folk getting the sack. Far too many of them have been allowed to stay in their cushy jobs despite manifestly screwing up. If it turns out that they gave false info to gin up the case for war, that is very bad.

And in case any warbloggers’ blood pressure is rising dangerously about the above two paragraphs, no, I am of course thrilled we stiffed the Ba’ath regime in Iraq, but forgive me, that wasn’t the original reason why we committed blood and treasure to deal with Saddam.

66 comments to Borne on the wings of a lie?

  • I really don’t know why it matters so much to you. Saddam Hussain gave them more than adequate reason to believe the WMD were there (they probably are), and anyway, so what? The Ba’athist in Iraq are toast and I find it hard to care what reasons our home grown statists gave for toasting them, given that I liked the result… I will leave it to Scott to fret about the state’s reputation

  • Johnathan

    Perry, Perry, I think the WMD issue matters quite a lot, since if they cannot be found for a long while then it does make me wonder about the actual reasons for the war. And I am saying this from the vantage point of one who supports the war, just about. Actually, I think that Saddam’s track record, his sponsorship of terror, failure to fully comply with the UN etc pretty much makes the case against him. But perhaps I feel that Blair and Bush have handed a propoganda prize to the peacenics if it transpires that they exaggerated the threat, since it makes it harder for the West to conduct similar operations in future.

    Like everything else, impressions do actually count.

    Mind you, I am waiting for Scott’s take on this with baited breath.

  • “The government lied to me and I like it”. If you don’t think that the peons deserve the truth, as long as they are led to the “right” conclusion, then you’re no better than Hillary. Sorry.

  • Malcolm

    Credibility does matter. If we are being told outright lies does matter.

    There are probably dozens of reasons why telling lies is wrong – both morally and pragmatically. Here are four.

    1) If Bush and Blair had said “Saddam is an evil tyrant, common humanity motivates our desire to remove him, oil means it is in our national interest rather than just our personal beliefs, and 9/11 provides the political opportunity to take action again evil in the world” then I would have cheered all the louder. Personally, I don’t know why they didn’t admit openly that WMD was merely the politico-legal pretext, and the obscenity of the Ba’athist regime was the real reason. Failing to do so risks being found out, and thereby losing political capital both for yourselves and your supporters.

    2) If there are no WMD, the Axis of Weasels, the BBC-Network News axis, and the rabble-rousers that are the real so-called “Arab Street” will be able to portray this as naked American aggression with much more credibility. Amongst other problems, that will make achieving a free, stable, capitalist Iraq that much harder.

    3) Perry, you are on record as hoping for a whole series of evil dictatorships to get the Iraq treatment. The chances of that happening would certainly be reduced if it turns out that Saddam never had WMD, and Bush knew that that was likely the case.

    4) Proof (or general acceptance) that the WMD issue was a deliberate lie would give aid and succor to one group that does pose a clear and present threat to our personal liberty and national self-governance – namely the Franco-German EU hegemony.

    That said, it remains possible that proof of a WMD programme will be uncovered – either in the next few weeks and months, or maybe even years later when bulldozers digging out foundations for the Baghdad branch of Walmart literally uncover it. But I’ve always had an uncomfortable feeling that, had the proof been available, we would have seen it in January.

  • Patrick

    The WMDs were the original *legal* reason why we committed blood and treasure, but they were far from the only *de facto* reason. If our leaders knowingly exaggerated the extent of the WMD problem, that is a bad thing in itself because our leaders are supposed to be responsible to us. Such conduct would indeed make me feel quite betrayed, but it would not make me feel embarrassed to have supported the war nor ashamed to look my antiwar friends in the eye and tell them we have done a good thing that was worth doing. As you note, the onus was on Saddam to produce information about his WMDs or lack thereof; he had the best access to the best information on the subject, and he did not come forward to meet his obligation despite being given plenty of time to do so. The justification for the war came down to that failure, regardless of whether coalition leaders received bad intelligence or even themselves engaged in blameworthy conduct.

  • Its sad that one of the major objections to government lies about Iraqi WMDs (if they did outright lie) on a libertarian site like this is that it hurts the government. IMHO, if some people stop believing the State because of some WMD lie, its the only good thing to come out of this war (pending what actually happens in Iraq – I’m not convinced that somebody dancing in the streets last week is proof Iraq will become the next Minnesota).

    Thing is, if libertarians want the people who lied us into this war removed from office (however unlikely that is to actually happen), and the left want the people who led us into this war removed from office, they y’all wind up agreeing with each other more than either side would be comfortable with.

  • MLD

    The thing that is so odd here is that if Bush and Blair ‘lied’ or exaggerated, so did everyone else, including Bill Clinton and his administration. I mean, everyone except Scott Ritter basically said he had ‘em, just that the timing for war wasn’t right. Even the French conceded Saddam had some nasty WMD, they just didn’t think he was enough of a threat to justify war.

    Scott Ritter, the voice of reason? Urg, pain behind eyes and throbbing in head.

    I do care if we find them, I don’t like being lied to and I will remember come time to cast my ballot. Oh, off track I know, but could Bush quit signing every bill that comes across his desk with a gigantic price tag? Please? A little fiscal conservatism, along with tax cuts, thank you very much.

  • Fred Boness

    The WMDs are going to turn out to be like everything else Saddam. From the intrepid Republican Guards to Fortress Baghdad it was all a sham and a lie. Recognize that it was Saddam’s lie.

    If someone tells you he has a gun and threatens you then believe he has a gun until proven otherwise. What does it mean if the Police who shoot him find no gun?

  • Just for the record, I’m not coming at this as a Democrat. I’ve never been a Democrat (“I am not now, nor have I ever been a member…”). Clinton is scum and only bombed Iraq to get Monica off the front pages. I believe Juanita.

  • Richard Aubrey

    Actually, we know beyond a doubt S had WMD.
    The UN said so. Blix&Co. were faulted for not finding them.
    There were two UN reports, both based on Iraqi disclosures. The earlier one listed humongous quanties of various chemical and biological agents, weapons, warheads, bombs, and precursors.
    The second report did not refer to these items.
    That means the Iraqis lied about them. We know they existed since, in part, the original UN inspection effort found them. Their absence in the second report meant the Iraqis didn’t want them messed with.
    There was not even a reference to their destruction (mandated by the UN), nor their location, or even existence.
    Thus, the UN said in the strongest terms that the Iraqis had WMD. All they couldn’t say was where the stuff was.
    So Bush and Blair could be faulted for taking the UN’s word for something? Yeah, I guess so, but in this case, the UN looked pretty solid and taking their word for the existence of WMD is not at all devious.
    We added details, but did not originate the initial body of evidence. The UN did that.
    So if we find them or if we don’t…. Too bad if we don’t, but the UN said they’re there.
    Besides, the anti-war folks will take the discovery in stride and think of something else.

  • Dan

    My feeling is that if we fail to find Iraq’s chemical and biological weapons, that’s because somebody else got their hands on them first. I mean, let’s be realistic here — we know with absolute certainty that Iraq had biological and chemical weapons in the early 90s. I suppose they might have secretly destroyed them, but doesn’t it make more sense that they’d have sold them or given them away, instead?

    Personally, I wouldn’t mind if Bush had lied about this (side note — how on Earth would anyone demonstrate that he’d lied, short of a memo written by him to that effect?). To me the key issue wasn’t whether or not Hussein currently had WMD — it was that he had the capacity and will to develop them and use them, and was entirely too cozy with the anti-American forces in the world.

  • Fred, “I thought he had a gun, honest” is how cops have justified bad shootings ever since the flintlock was invented. You also ignore the possibility that the police knew he was lying about the gun and just used that as an excuse to shoot him.

  • Scott. Needs. a. Blog.

    Something I’ve been wondering lately: hawks now fall back on “It was up to Saddam to prove he had disarmed.” On its face, this is a demand to prove a negative. To avoid acknowledging this, the hawks cite – the despised Hans Blix! as proof that Saddam was “not cooperating.”

    My question is, how much of Blix’s avowals of “noncooperation” was trimming to provide at least minimal satisfaction to the not-to-be-ignored USG?

  • Dan, you cannot limit government if you don’t even care if they lie.

  • “If someone tells you he has a gun and threatens you then believe he has a gun until proven otherwise.” -Fred

    The whole Iraq situation has often been described in simple, interpersonal terms. This is, unfortunately, a gross oversimplification of the situation, which serves to justify military intervention but does not serve the truth.

    Two points:

    1) If somebody says he has a gun, prudence demands that you take him at his word and treat him CAREFULLY, not attack him outright.

    2) If somebody threatens you with a gun, is that threat a defensive one or an offensive one? That is to say, if somebody displays a gun in the holster says, “nobody come any closer, or I’ll use this,” when he feels he is under seige, that is a far different situation from someone pulling a gun on you and telling you to do his bidding or he will shoot you (or worse yet, simply pulling the gun and blasting you with no warning).

    Like all rulers, especially all dictators, Sadaam rattled his saber. If that were a sufficient pretext for war, nearly all of the human race would be at war, all the time. The invasion of Iraq was, ostensibly, predicated on his actually drawing his sabers of mass destruction with intent to hack at us.

    If there was no saber, if there was no serious intent to attack us, if there was no attack, then we don’t have a credible self-defense justification for the war, much less a justification for a preemptive strike. The way it is looking to me now, we were needing to leave Saudi Arabia, yet wanted to keep a stronghold in the middle east, so saw Saddam and Iraq as the most convenient point of re-entry and potential place of encampment. Now, the bully boy we supported and built-up has been knocked down and, absent a mass popular uprising against us, we are in a very good strategic position, whether as the occupying force or the invited guest of the new Iraq. Since we are leaving Saudi Arabia, the masses who support Osama and his ilk no longer have the same, strong beef against us: we are not stationing the troops of empire in their homeland and we are no longer “defiling” their holy sites. Al Qaida and other groups may call for us to leave Iraq, but their demands won’t carry the same weight or visceral appeal to the average moslem middle easterner on the street.

    Perhaps 9-11 was an eviction notice, of sorts, telling us to get out of Saudi Arabia. But as someone in Washington felt it was important for us to stay in the neighborhood, we had to find somewhere safe to go, quickly, and Iraq was elected. I will be paying keen attention to events in the months ahead, to see if there are any clues to disprove or confirm that idea.

    In the meantime, we are right to raise questions about the control that the US and UK people have over their governments — or don’t have — given the possible incompetence or outright untruthfulness of our leaders in making the case for war. Here in the US, we have a republic: the people vote for the decisionmakers; at least on the federal level, the people almost never make decisions directly. On the other hand, the terms of office and scheduling of elections are such that the people regularly have the opportunity to turn out officials who are shown to be incompetent or dishonest. Another such opportunity arrives in 2004. I think we really MUST have some answers to the questions surrounding our invasion of Iraq before then. I also think that anyone who won’t help get to the truth, or who appears to have been involved in lying or covering up, needs to be fired by the voters. It doesn’t matter how good a representative or bureaucrat someone has been, people on all sides died in Iraq. That’s as serious as it gets. If lying or incompetence led to those deaths, then those responsible should AT LEAST be dismissed from Washington. To do any less would be for the people to confirm that they have lost control of their government and can’t be bothered to reclaim it.

  • Larry

    Let’s get used to this: The French Were Right (on info avail so far).

    We had a straight up/down debate. Did Saddam pose a threat: army, WMD?

    No signs of the fierce army. No WMD (yet).

    Don’t Libertarians value the truth? Liberating the Iraq people did not figure in the US/GB-French debate.

    We’re playing a long game. If we lied, that makes our credibility in the next innings much less.

    I find it strange that so many Libertarians do not see the link between liberating people around the world and bigger-stronger gov’t (less liberty) for us. Shall we pay for others freedom with our own?

  • Sandy P.

    The real question would have been, who was lying in the first place?

    Who fed us the info?

    Why would they do that? Did we obtain the info on our own or by “allies?”

  • Scott and Jim, please, in the interest of historical accuracy and just plain straight dealing, refer to Richard Aubrey’s point above. You’re arguing a moot point.

  • Shall we pay for others freedom with our own?

    Particularly since the same Arab terrorist threat is being used to justify both the war and the Patriot Act. They’re hardly unrelated.

  • Shana, the US Govt has backed off even looking for the WMDs.

    Where Have All the WMD-Hunters Gone?

    …The US military certainly has been looking for chemical and biological weapons as well as evidence of a nuclear bomb program (Iraq was never said to be in possession of nuclear weapons). But what is surprising–if not scandalous–is that two weeks after US troops moved into Baghdad the Bush Pentagon has not yet mounted a full sweep of Iraq for WMD, or even dispatched a sufficient amount of trained troops and specialists to conduct such a mission. It’s as if the Bush administration and the Pentagon had not bothered to listen to their own rhetoric about Iraq’s purported weapons of mass destruction while planning the invasion and occupation. Shouldn’t a mess of these units have been scrambling across Iraq–using all that prewar intelligence that allowed administration officials to declare without pause that Saddam Hussein controlled enough of these dangerous weapons to be a direct threat to the United States–within days, if not hours, of the collapse of Hussein’s murderous regime? Perhaps they should even have been among the forward-deployed troops. Yet while some US WMD-hunters are hard at work, the Pentagon acknowledges that nothing close to a full detachment has been sent to Iraq. As The Los Angeles Times reported on April 20, the Defense Department is still preparing to send “hundreds of additional investigators to speed up the search” for WMD and remains in the process of “assembling a ‘survey group’ with more than 1,000 experts to interrogate Iraqi scientists and sift through recovered documents to broaden the search for weapons of mass destruction.”

    Is it dumb to ask, why wasn’t all this ready to go when the war started?

    If Bush won’t act like the WMDs existed, why should we?

  • The terrorist threat is being USED to JUSTIFY the war & the patriot act?

    You talk like the plans to conduct this war existed before the terrorist threat did. And please, when considering the situation, don’t date the beginning of the threat at Sept 11. That wasn’t the start of the threat but a climax of it. The patriot act, misguided, ineffective and stupid as it may be, is a response to a legitimate threat. The war is a much better focused, more effective, and just plain common-sensical approach, and even now is having much the desired effect in surrounding countries as they look once again at just who they are attacking.

    I address this to Scott in particular, but in broad fashion to everyone else who thinks America bears the responsibility for the terrorism committed against us. You should spend less time comparing America to your perfect ideal and more time comparing it to the realities of the world we live in and the conflicts which existed before we did as a country. Should we tread lightly in a world in which it is assumed we, latecoming children, have no right to protect our interest? I think not. America is the expression of all these peoples, from Europe, Asia, Africa — every unfree place which was or is now — the expression of their need for freedom. That’s why they came here and started the place up. Our blood is their blood; our culture came from their cultures; but we have the best of that blood and those cultures combined together into the culture we all live in today. Strange as it may seem we are not foreigners to the world, but the one place where the world’s peoples have come together. They hate us as their children come here to live. Perhaps, Scott and company, the fault for this war lies within these age old conflicts, and not with men who have tried to protect us from them, in however misguided a fashion.

  • You talk like the plans to conduct this war existed before the terrorist threat did.

    The plans to conduct this war did exist before the terrorist threat:

    In the near term, this means a willingness to undertake military action as diplomacy is clearly failing. In the long term, it means removing Saddam Hussein and his regime from power. That now needs to become the aim of American foreign policy.

    You should spend less time comparing America to your perfect ideal and more time comparing it to the realities of the world.

    “Its a free country”, the former rallying cry of the American people, is now “what the Hell, its freer than Syria, at least”.

    Perhaps, Scott and company, the fault for this war lies within these age old conflicts, and not with men who have tried to protect us from them, in however misguided a fashion.

    The fault for this war lies in our sticking our noses in age-old conflicts that don’t concern us. We didn’t start the age old conflicts, and we cannot end them.

  • Our blood is their blood; our culture came from their cultures

    We are the world…..we are the children….we are the ones who make a brighter day, so lets start giving….

  • Byron

    Bush & Co. sold the war disingeniously, but toppling Saddam on the basis of the long-term WMD threat was correct. I wasn’t sure of this until I did some research on what the UNSCOM inspectors had to say about Iraq’s WMDs. Basically, all the major UNSCOM inspectors agree on several things:

    1) After Gulf War 1, Iraq was 6 months away from fielding nuclear weapons.

    2) From 1991 to 1998, UNSCOM successfully removed >90% of Iraq’s WMD and WMD manufacturing capability.

    3) During that time, Hussein’s regime were as deceitful and deceptive as possible. UNSCOM will never know if they got rid of all of Hussein’s WMD.

    4) UNSCOM failed to rid Iraq of the nuclear plans, documents, blueprints, and scientists it had accumulated during Saddam’s rule. With that material, Iraq could completely rebuild its nuclear program within 3-4 years after UN sanctions are lifted. Further, if Iraq was able to acquire weapons-grade uranium or plutonium from the black market, they have the knowledge and capability to field a nuclear weapon within 1 year.

    Here are a few links, and plenty more can be found by Googling “David Albright Bulletin of Atomic Scientists”, “Scott Ritter PBS interview”, “Rolf Ekeus”, “Hans Blix”, “Richard Butler PBS interview”.

    http://www.thebulletin.org/issues/1998/mj98/mj98albright.html

    http://www.thebulletin.org/research/collections/iraq.html

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/unscom/interviews/ritter.html

    http://www.nuclearfiles.org/hinonproliferationtreaty/index.html

    This war was never specifically about ridding Iraq of actual WMD, UNSCOM already did that. This war was about reinstating the failing policy of nonproliferation. Nonproliferation became a driving force in global diplomacy immediately after the USSR disintegrated, but languished in the 90s. During the 90s, India and Pakistan went nuclear, Iraq almost went nuclear, North Korea is essentially nuclear, Iran is on the way, Al Quaeda was working on it, and who knows what other rogue nations or groups are seeking WMD capability in the black market.

    9/11 showed the US that our traditional deterrents can’t work. MAD – Mutually Assured Destruction – does not deter religious fanatics intent on dying anyway, and taking as many people as possible with them. Add to that mix nukes or chem/bio weapons in the hands of terrorists or loonies like Kim Jong Il and it should be obvious that America only has two choices in the matter: Either allow non-proliferation to fail, retreat into fortress America, and sacrifice more and more of our freedoms, civil rights, and way of life for security against WMD; or give nonproliferation policy some teeth, take out Saddam, reform Iraq, and use that as leverage to apply nonproliferation more strongly to Iran, North Korea, and any other states trying to get WMD.

    It’s unfortunate that Bush didn’t actually sell the war with that reasoning, as it is sound and backed by UNSCOM itself. Instead he resorted to simplistic arguments of “liberation”, which was a lie b/c America doesn’t go to war to liberate a mere 24 million people, rather that was just a nice fringe benefit. And it wasn’t about ridding Iraq of current WMD’s, as Bush also claimed, as UNSCOM made it clear that they had already ridded Iraq of nearly all weapons and manufacturing capability. Why he couldn’t just explain the truth of the matter I don’t know, but it’s done now and most likely for the better. Nonproliferation policy now has the full diplomatic and military support of the US, and not a day too soon.

  • The rallying cry has always been “It’s freer than ______, at least”. Fill in the blank. In the beginning the country compared to was Britain. Now? Just about everyone.

    Once again you act as though terrorism just lately began. The letter you link to is from 4 years ago; and this is far from a war plan, but rather a cry to the sitting president to do SOMETHING — anything at all effective, including possible military action — about a terrorist threat that already existed and had existed for nigh on 20 years. This was not a war for war’s sake, but a war for the sake of those being targeted. It is wholly within Bush’s stated objectives to go after a state which is linked with terrorism. If you will go back and read the text of that speech, you will see that he made no exception for states, but specifically said that states which sponsored terrorism were now targets, and they should divest themselves of such policies immediately to avoid action being taken against them.

    The fault for this war does not lie with us in any fashion, whether we stuck our nose in conflicts that don’t concern us or whether we didn’t. As I recall, the worst of America’s intrusions into other countries’ business occurred in South America, which is most definitely not the origin for terrorism as a whole. These men bear the responsibility for their own actions, Scott; we don’t. Libertarianism, as I understand it, requires that each person bear responsibility for themselves. Does your libertarian code require that of American citizenry and politicians, but not of those committing state-justified murder in the Middle East?

  • You’re right Shana, nobody ever said “its a free country” instead of comparing it to someplace else. What was I thinking?

    This war was sold based on 9/11, images from 9/11 are used whenever the state or the media wants to fan emotions, and you cannot directly link Iraq to 9/11 (you can indirectly link anyone to anything). We would not have invaded Iraq w/o 9/11. No, there was no plan to invade Iraq 20 years ago, when you date the terrorist threat, because we were supporting Saddam at the time. I’m not sure that history gives you want you want for your argument.

    Shana, do you thing gun control leads to high crime rates? If so, are you absolving criminals or pointing out the government’s role in crime running rampant? The argument about terrorism is exactly the same (terrorists are criminals, but the govt is responsible for its own actions, too).

  • UNSCOM failed to rid Iraq of the nuclear plans, documents, blueprints, and scientists it had accumulated during Saddam’s rule. With that material, Iraq could completely rebuild its nuclear program within 3-4 years after UN sanctions are lifted. Further, if Iraq was able to acquire weapons-grade uranium or plutonium from the black market, they have the knowledge and capability to field a nuclear weapon within 1 year.

    So if they could build a bomb, then they could build a bomb. Somewhat circular. BTW, how was Iraq supposed to rid itself of its scientists? Death camps?

  • You’re talking like a lefty, Scott. America did it all, it’s America’s fault, America supported Saddam, ad nauseam. (And thanks for the earlier sarcasm. That was an adroit use of the “belittle it and it will go away” method of debate.)

    You are arguing against a point the President & Cabinet never made. It was not claimed that Iraq was linked to 9/11. It was stated that any state supporting terrorist organizations would be seen as a target; and we have now seen that policy put into action. If individual Americans believe that Iraq was linked to 9/11, it isn’t the fault of the government but of the media, and of Americans’ own lack of research. Since the media in this country is not under the control of any governmental arm, one should not assume that any use of 9/11 in media programming is automatically an attempt by the government to brainwash the public. Such an assumption brings to mind Chomsky and his benighted associates.

    You said: “there was no plan to invade Iraq 20 years ago, when you date the terrorist threat, because we were supporting Saddam at the time.” Good luck finding an industrialized country that WASN’T selling weapons to Saddam at that time, first of all; and secondly, you completely ignore the fact that the government has gone through several complete changes of staff, from both parties. A government which is not in agreement with itself cannot agree on a common conspiracy. (Even if it were, a conspiracy to do what? Free the Iraqis? It couldn’t have been the Bush-oil-grab crap; the threat existed before the first Bush was even in office.) Your assumption that this war was planned from the start and the stupid public were all lied to in order to rope us into supporting it just doesn’t wash.

    And regarding gun control: I do think it leads to high crime rates, but not because of any reason you set out for me. I think that happens because in a disarmed society, criminals know that they are free from any consequence for their crime as long as the cops aren’t in front of them. That, too, is an issue of personal liberty, because crime at its root is committed by a person against person/s, and defense against it takes place between persons, criminal and victim/s. (Paul Harvey yesterday talked about a young woman who was approached at a stop light by a potential carjacker pretending to threaten her with a gun. He demanded all her money, at which time she opened her purse, pulled out a loaded 9 millimeter and pointed it at his head. That’s one statistic struck off the crime rate sheet.)

  • Tatyana

    Dan,
    I’d like to point to an interested party (as to “who’d done it”- meaning- somebody got WMD before we could). Do you remember the story about a Russian diplomatic convoy leaving the city and being shot at in Bahgdad suburb around April 6 or 7, when Russians were the only diplomats still in Bahgdad? I was able to follow it on Russian sites, and I’ve got the hint (among the usual histeria about “imperialist-American provocation) that convoy was carrying “important documents” on russian-Iraqi business and commercial documentarion. I think I know what sort of documentation it was. If you also piece together recent Putin’ stance, overall bullying (that’s not the right word, I’d rather say it in Russian – sorry, don’t know English equivalent) – you would agree with me.
    Of course,there could be my paranoid confidence that “all roads lead to Lyubyanka” ,but I think it’s definitely a strong stink

  • Tatyana

    Dan,
    I’d like to point to an interested party (as to “who’d done it”- meaning- somebody got WMD before we could). Do you remember the story about a Russian diplomatic convoy leaving the city and being shot at in Bahgdad suburb around April 6 or 7, when Russians were the only diplomats still in Bahgdad? I was able to follow it on Russian sites, and I’ve got the hint (among the usual histeria about “imperialist-American provocation) that convoy was carrying “important documents” on russian-Iraqi business and commercial documentarion. I think I know what sort of documentation it was. If you also piece together recent Putin’ stance, overall bullying (that’s not the right word, I’d rather say it in Russian – sorry, don’t know English equivalent) – you would agree with me.
    Of course,there could be my paranoid confidence that “all roads lead to Lyubyanka” ,but I think it’s definitely a strong stink

  • No. I do not want them removed from office… I could not care less actually. I want the office removed, which is quite different.

  • Let’s get used to this: The French Were Right (on info avail so far).

    Now there is a meme with legs of marshmellow!

    We had a straight up/down debate. Did Saddam pose a threat: army, WMD?

    No signs of the fierce army. No WMD (yet)..

    Oh pleeeeease. No one thought that Saddam’s army was a threat to the UK or USA, that is such a straw man. When it came to threats, it was Saddam’s attempts to acquire nukes, bio and chemical weapons… and then pass them on to Al Qaeda, that was the ‘threat’ that was talked about. To suggest otherwise, or that the Elf Aquitaine French government was somehow ‘right’ is bizzare. Are you suggesting the Ba’athists were not trying to get nukes, bio and chem weapons?

  • Bent

    If there are no WMDs Saddam was even more inapt at foreign politics than leading the war.

    Saddam didn’t cooperate, even Blixe said so, Saddam got what he had coming.

    Personally I’m sure that WMDs will show up, and I think it will be a blow if they don’t show up but that is very unlikely,

  • No “America” didn’t support Saddam, the Republican Party did. They sent Rumsfeld (the envoy to Iraq then, and the Sec Def now – you act as if there is no continuity between GOP administrations and each one is a clean slate). Holding our government accountable for its own actions isn’t a “lefty” thing to do, even when its God’s Own Party in charge.

    And no, the Democrats aren’t/weren’t any better.

    And I don’t remember setting out a reason for gun control causing high crime rates. Actually, we agree on how gun control results in high crime rates. My point was that

    A. Pointing to the negative result of a government action doesn’t let criminals off the moral hook,

    B. People who vote for gun control don’t “deserve” to be victims of crime, so you cannot claim that saying our government makes the terrorist problem worse is the same as saying we deserve it.

    C. Gun control leads to crime, which leads to more calls for government control, to fight crime. Govt actions lead to terrorist retaliation, which leads to more calls for government control, to fight terrorism. The first part of that doesn’t raise an eyebrow on a libertarian site, the second is evidently considered treason by some, despite the fact that they’re both the same argument.

  • Russ Goble

    As the French loved to say, the inspectors need more time.

  • Bent

    If there are no WMDs Saddam was even more inapt at foreign politics than leading the war.

    Saddam didn’t cooperate, even Blixe said so, Saddam got what he had coming.

    Personally I’m sure that WMDs will show up, and I think it will be a blow if they don’t show up but that is very unlikely,

  • Bent

    If there are no WMDs Saddam was even more inapt at foreign politics than leading the war.

    Saddam didn’t cooperate, even Blixe said so, Saddam got what he had coming.

    Personally I’m sure that WMDs will show up, and I think it will be a blow if they don’t show up but that is very unlikely,

  • Bent

    If there are no WMDs Saddam was even more inapt at foreign politics than leading the war.

    Saddam didn’t cooperate, even Blixe said so, Saddam got what he had coming.

    Personally I’m sure that WMDs will show up, and I think it will be a blow if they don’t show up but that is very unlikely,

  • When it came to threats, it was Saddam’s attempts to acquire nukes, bio and chemical weapons… and then pass them on to Al Qaeda, that was the ‘threat’ that was talked about.

    And you have no evidence of that level of cooperation (other than a self fulfilling prophesy of Bin Ladin’s enemy’s enemy being his friend) and no answer to the question of why would a control freak tyrant hand off a nuke to someone else (i.e. they use it for their goals and it might get traced back to you for retaliation, and you don’t have it available to protect yourself).

  • Russ Goble

    First off, didn’t we have this debate just a few days ago?

    If no WMDs are found, there will be hell to pay for Bush. That’s the politics of it. And its because he will be perceived to have lied. But, the world will still be better off without Saddam Hussein in power. That you can’t change.

    But, as I’ve said before, those of you who believe “of course, their were no WMDs”, I ask you why would Saddam have destroyed them between 98 (when the U.N. had catalogued tons of WMDs that had not been destroyed) and now. Why did he not produce evidence that he destroyed them?

    As Bush DID say, to believe he has no WMDs is to bet against all available evidence. As Blair reportedly told a meeting of EU ministers “everyone at this table knows he has WMDs.” It wasn’t just the U.S. and British intel that believed he had them.

    And, will you be satisfied if the coalition produces evidence that he had them very recently and that he destroyed them right before the war (as one Iraqi scientists apparently stated) or had some transferred to Syria (as another has said)? Will this satisfy you? Are you satisfied with the numerous evidence that HAS been discovered that they had lots of equipment ready for the use of WMD, specifically chemical weapons? Are you satisfied that they have found lots of documentation of a WMD weapons program, even if they haven’t found the actual WMDs? Also, as another Iraqi expert reportedly has noted that the chemical weapons and some of the bio weapons could easily be destroyed and then remanufactured. If evidence corroborates that, will you be satisfied? Or is the “smoking gun” only what will satisfy you? Otherwise, you’ll shout, “they LIED!” And even then, will you question that they planted it? Or is this another the U.S. is damned if they do and damned if they don’t? Just curious.

    Given that we know the French and Russians (not to mention Saddam’s own leautinents) were telling Saddam, that all he had to do was hold out in Baghdad and as long as he doesn’t use WMDs the U.N. can broker a deal that keeps him in power. Isn’t it possible he bought into that? So, he destroyed what he knew could be easily found and waited to be freed by the U.N. as happend in 1991? Could this not explain all of this? Just a thought.

  • Russ, how tough is it to buy or build something that qualifies in your mind as a WMD, even if its not the best WMD? Isn’t anyone w/ a BA in Chemistry and a gift certificate at Home Depot a threat to develop “chemical weapons”?

    You’re also ignoring the article I posted above, about how the Bush administration isn’t looking very hard for the WMDs they are sure are there, despite the supposed threat of them falling into the wrong hands. Like I asked, if the Pentagon isn’t acting like there are lots of WMDs to find, why should I?

  • MLD

    Actually, both Russ and Byron make a lot of sense. The ‘so what if we don’t find them’ thing kind of rattled me. Debriefing that deck of cards is key, I guess.

    Patience is a virtue. I am now back on message :).

  • Scott said: “People who vote for gun control don’t “deserve” to be victims of crime, so you cannot claim that saying our government makes the terrorist problem worse is the same as saying we deserve it.”

    I didn’t claim that. In fact if you will reread my posts I have not made any statements about whether we deserved it, except possibly to deny it. I do claim that America’s past interventionism is NOT the cause of terrorism. Not to say that we didn’t poke around where we weren’t wanted; we did. But the fact that we did so does not lead to terrorism. It becomes an excuse to continue terroristic tendencies which already existed. Please note my earlier point about the difference between South America and the Middle East. We muddled around much more in S.A. than we did anywhere else, and while they don’t particularly like us, they aren’t trying to blow us up. They protest us; they go through governmental channels; they do many things to stop America from taking actions that they see as harmful to their sovereignty — but they are not criminals (on the whole), and they work through accepted channels (on the whole), or at least they are not violent against our citizens (on the whole). This war is the expression of America’s will to rip out this terroristic cancer at the source.

    My point is that while America does need to take responsibility for its actions and for the destination of our dollars, so too do the Middle Eastern nations need to take responsibility for their actions and the path of their own money. America was willing, as a whole, to allow the situation to continue status quo before 9/11; we believed that we were safe and an aggressive defense was not required, nor indeed even moral. Now we are no longer so stupid. Iraq didn’t need to be linked to 9/11 in order to be a target in the war on terror. All they needed was to be linked to a terrorist organization — not even necessarily to the one which committed that act, though it seems to be the case that they were after all linked to Al-Qaeda.

    Further quote: “No “America” didn’t support Saddam, the Republican Party did. They sent Rumsfeld (the envoy to Iraq then, and the Sec Def now – you act as if there is no continuity between GOP administrations and each one is a clean slate).”

    I recognize that there is continuity, but you must also recognize that the entire world situation at that time was different. Much of the world fight was focused against the Soviet Union, and to a lesser degree was focused toward the attempt to nip terrorism in the bud — an example of the continuity you mention. Saddam at that time was a minor dictator; he had not aggressed against his neighbors, had not used chem or bio weapons, and took a backseat to Moammar Qaddafi on the world stage. The only reason you think today that the GOP was involved in some great conspiracy is that you are able to see perfectly in hindsight. No one could have predicted that events would turn out this way; if they could, I guarantee you that Rumsfeld never would have shaken Saddam’s hand! As pointed out to me by a friend, that few seconds of video will make it impossible for him to make a successful Presidential bid, should his ambitions lie in that direction.

    I would ask you to remember one fact, also, which is that America ceased providing weapons and support to Saddam shortly before the first Gulf war, which the EU members did not do. This ‘support for Saddam’ which you set up as such a monster is nothing of the sort; or rather, a monster of the same size as the monsters under every other country’s bed. Let us, if you please, assign equal responsibility; and in the case of France/Germany/Russia, assign much more responsibility for this mess than we assign to the US, as we were the only country with the will to put a stop to it.

  • Shana, our government’s actions don’t lead to terrorism (which existed before us and will continue long after we’re gone), but our government’s actions can paint a nice, big target on our backs. Crime has always existed, but you can still make yourself a target of it.

    As far as everyone being focused on the Soviets during the 80s, yep. Tomorrow’s monster is always created while fighting today’s monster (we allied w/ the Soviets to fight Hitler – which obviously didn’t create them, but did help them quite a bit). I don’t trust Bush (or Gore or Hillary) not to create a monster for 2010 while fighting today’s demon.

  • Johan

    Spot on there Russ Goble.

    Imagine this. You put a chocolate bar in an empty room. You let in a little child in there, leave and close there door. Now, you are not able to watch the little child, so after about 10 minutes, you go in. What you see is the chocolate wrap paper on the floor with no chocolate in, and chocolate all over the childs face, especially around the mouth. You ask, “did you eat the chocolate?”, the child says no. There’s no possibility for the child to hide it anywhere, since the room is empty. You have 2 pieces of evidence the child did eat the chocolate. One; the empty chocolate wrap paper and Two; the chocolate all over the childs face, and especially around the mouth. So, would you argue that the child did not eat the chocolate, or that s/he did? You have the evidence s/he did eat it, but you can’t prove it’s in the childs stomach, so does that mean the child did not eat it?

    (Do some thinking and you’ll get the connection between chocolate and WMD)

  • Thing is, if libertarians want the people who lied us into this war removed from office…

    Not really, because the people who repace them will be no different. I would rather remove offices that the people who are in them.

  • John F

    I’d be peeved at being lied to.
    I’d be pleased with the result.
    I’d say there was casus belli even without WMD.
    I’m not going to even BEGIN to worry about it for a month or two.

    My dream scenario is they don’t get located for a month or so.
    (And/or publicised, if Bush and Blair are that sneaky AND leak-proof – I doubt the latter).
    Imagine the screeching among the anti-war types by then. And then it goes wrong, again.
    *Evil cackle*

    I live in hope.

  • Johan, the world isn’t a closed, featureless room, and you don’t have enough evidence to justify killing the kid.

  • So John F lives in hope the the government will basically lie to us some more. Thanks, John.

  • Quote from Scott: “I don’t trust Bush (or Gore or Hillary) not to create a monster for 2010 while fighting today’s demon.”

    I don’t trust ANYONE not to do that. The only way to even come close to avoiding it is to deal only with people who have never besmirched themselves, which on the world stage is not achievable. (Honestly, I think Bush has come closer to it than any other leader I can think of. I admittedly lack information on that subject however.) The reason it can’t be avoided is that the monsters are the ones in charge in a country not equipped by its judicial and legislative system to deal with them (and sometimes in those that are), and the president necessarily deals with the person in charge of the country he’s concerned with. You’ll ask, why support that potential monster if you know he’s a dictatorial bastard? Because the dictatorial bastard in the next country is even worse than he is.

    Such is the dilemma of any government, Donk, Phant or Libby. The good thing about this particular government is that for these people, some stenches put out too much reek to be borne. Economical and personal liberty concerns aside, there is that, at least.

  • Mike Kerner

    We should all know that governments lie with regularity. That is what they do!

    What should come out of this fiasco is a lesson for the people that governments lie and should NEVER be believed absent 100% corroboration. Any subject, any motive, they will lie.

    For now, I will suggest that they look for the WMDs in the Gulf of Tonkin.

  • Larry

    Perry,

    “…No one thought that Saddam’s army was a threat to the UK or USA, that is such a straw man. When it came to threats, it was Saddam’s attempts to acquire nukes, bio and chemical weapons… and then pass them on to Al Qaeda, that was the ‘threat’ that was talked about. …”

    The whole UN resolution gig that we invaded Iraq to enforce resulted from Gulf War I, & was to prevent another Iraq invasion of a neighbor.

    Re: Byron’s post
    “…This war was about reinstating the failing policy of nonproliferation. …”

    We may have just ignited the mother of all nuc proliferation races. With Iraq & Korea we’ve demonstrated that only nucs provide national security from the American Empire. Job security in the 21st century for atomic scientists & engineers.

  • Thing is, if libertarians want the people who lied us into this war removed from office…

    Not really, because the people who repace them will be no different. I would rather remove offices that the people who are in them.

    Sooooo…….

    Removing Saddam has the benefit of putting the fear of God into other dictators (if Perry himself hasn’t made that claim, others have), but removing Bush and/or Blair won’t put the fear of God into other politicians about lying. Sounds like Mideast dictators are smarter and have a better grasp of reality than western elected officials.

    A defensible point, but not probably not the one Perry intended to make. :-) He may just have overdone the world-weary sophistication.

  • John Thacker

    Larry, surely you’re not so naive as to think that every other government didn’t already know that nuclear weapons were the only effective deterrent of the US military already?

    That’s been obvious to anyone whose either thought for a moment or paid attention to world politics. Note that the DPRK, Iraq, and plenty of other countries have been racing madly to develop nuclear weapons long before this incident. It’s obvious why, and I and everyone I’ve read or talked to that followed world politics know that countries have been seeking nuclear proliferation for just that reason.

    The US, UK, and other countries have, of course, been trying to stop them for the same reason.

    “Ignited?” Surely not. Perhaps made the already existing rules of the game and the players more obvious to those that weren’t paying attention before, I suppose. But the dictators have always known this, and have always sought nuclear weapons for this reason.

  • I think our invasion of Iraq may have given the rush for nukes a special urgency it lacked before (i.e. get them by the end of the year or you’re dead).

  • John Schweitzer

    1) Evidence of WMD was only one of several reasons given for toppling the regime. 2) Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

  • 1. WMDs were the basis the fear mongering that drove public acceptance of the war, before it was a done deal.
    2. Absense of evidence means an unproven assertion, which cannot justify govt action. Its not up to us to disprove a govt claim or else accept their actions.

  • Byron

    Scott: So if they could build a bomb, then they could build a bomb.

    Not anymore.

    BTW, how was Iraq supposed to rid itself of its scientists? Death camps?

    I wrote that in a hurry, was simply observing that the nuclear scientists were key to Saddam’s ability to reconstruct his nuke program, as you well understand. No need for the petulant sarcasm. And you can’t rid the country of the scientists unless you offer them all asylum and they accept, hardly a likely outcome. But you can rid the political leadership of its motivation to use those scientists to develop nukes. And we did.

  • Julian Morrison

    Those who say “well at least we got rid of Hussein” are making the logical mistake of “false dilemma”. The choice was not just (1) hands off, do nothing, let the suffering continue (2) lie and propagandize, call everone who disagrees a traitor, storm in, kill innocent people, topple saddam, colonialize Iraq. There are other alternatives.

    For example, would he have have been “culturally imperialized” out of power if sanctions had been lifted? How hard would it really have been to sneak in an assassin with a high powered rifle? Would the locals have overthrown him in a few years time? Solid looking dictatorships can vanish overnight, compare the former soviet bloc.

  • Julian Morrison

    Those who say “well at least we got rid of Hussein” are making the logical mistake of “false dilemma”. The choice was not just (1) hands off, do nothing, let the suffering continue (2) lie and propagandize, call everone who disagrees a traitor, storm in, kill innocent people, topple saddam, colonialize Iraq. There are other alternatives.

    For example, would he have have been “culturally imperialized” out of power if sanctions had been lifted? How hard would it really have been to sneak in an assassin with a high powered rifle? Would the locals have overthrown him in a few years time? Solid looking dictatorships can vanish overnight, compare the former soviet bloc.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Quick one – Scott, take Jim Henley’s advice and get a blog of your own. Seriously. We like your comments but man, you are so prolific you should set one up of your own.

    Thanks for the comments above. I am, as I said, still in favour of the war. I think Saddams failure to show he had fully complied with the UN inspectors, plus his appalling track record and clear breach of the 1991 ceasefire terms, gave the coalition the legal as well as practical justification for taking him down. Not to mention evidence, admittedly circumstantial, that he was in league with terror groups.

    But to repeat – I think impressions are important. A major, credible discovery of WMDs would seriously bolster the pro-war case.

    Right, let’s move on to something else.

    Thanks again,
    JP

  • Scott, you really need to try and read what I write and not what you want me to write. Get. rid. of. offices.

    That means get rid of functions of the state, not who runs them. You know, like not just replacing who runs the Iraqi Mukhabarat, actually getting rid of the Iraqi Mukhabarat… and to use a more local example, not just ‘throwing the rascals out’ and thereby replacing who runs the Department (or Ministry) of Education, but actually abolishing it outright and replacing it with… nothing.

  • You said two things, get rid of the offices (which I agree with) and that throwing liars out won’t affect the behavior of others, given the continued existance of their political offices. I didn’t ignore what you said; I simply commented where we didn’t quite agree and didn’t say anything about the part where we did.

  • h0mi

    Scott-

    The first Bush was removed for breaking a promise. Did that have any effect on the 2nd Bush or Clinton from breaking a promise? And as far as the whole “remove presidents for lying to us” I’d much rather remove presidents for infringing upon our rights; lying to us is something most of us expect from government and members of the same… find a politician who hasn’t lied about something and you’ve got a rare find.

  • h0mi

    Scott-

    The first Bush was removed for breaking a promise. Did that have any effect on the 2nd Bush or Clinton from breaking a promise? And as far as the whole “remove presidents for lying to us” I’d much rather remove presidents for infringing upon our rights; lying to us is something most of us expect from government and members of the same… find a politician who hasn’t lied about something and you’ve got a rare find.

  • h0mi

    Crap … I double posted but didn’t mean to … wtf.

    I had 1 other comment. The issue WRT WMD, inspections and the war has become grotesquely muddled IMO.

    If inspectors had found WMD, that’d be proof that that Saddam was not complying with the UN sanctions, which would justify the war… and would simultaneously be cited as an example of where inspections “worked”.

    Saddam’s obfucsations and refusals to cooperate should never have been tolerated to the extent that they were. I don’t think we were justified in granting him as much extra time as he received. And IMO, if he did destroy them before the war started, that means inspections DIDN’T work and that the war WAS justified (since he didn’t destroy them until the war started). I’m more concerned about a transfer of WMD, especially to Al Qaeda or to whomever.