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A prediction…

Now that it seems Saddam Hussain may not in fact have any weapons of mass destruction, Dubya and Blair are being pilloried for having gone to war to oust that particular mass murderous fascist regime.

Sometime in the not too distant future, when it looks like war with North Korea’s mass murderous regime is inevitable, Dubya and Blair (or their successors) will be pilloried for threatening war because the North Koreans have weapons of mass destruction.

And it will be the same people doing the pillorying in both cases.

27 comments to A prediction…

  • Brian Micklethwait


    I can’t quote chapter and verse, but I’d bet you anything that actually this has already happened. The idea of war with North Korea has been mentioned, and condemned. The notion that Saddam had no WMDs has been around for some while …

  • A_t

    As someone utterly detached from the whole statist thing, it’s too easy for you to go “hey, who cares what they said? At the end of the day, we got rid of a fascist dictator”, but the issue of honest presentation to your own people still stands, & for any of us who believe in some kind of a state, it’s important that crucial decisions such as whether to support a war or not are based somewhat on reality, not “the version of reality our leaders find it convenient that we believe” which is what this whole WMD farce seems to have been about.

    In your opinion, did Blair & Bush know all along Saddam had no WMD, or do you think they believed he did & are now genuinely surprised? (ie. were they deceitful or simply misinformed?)

    The basic issue for me is not that it’s wrong to go to war to depose tyrants; i’m heartily in favour of that where other options are unlikely to succeed, & had the whole thing been presented as “evil man.. no other way to depose.. let’s get him”, I might well have been much more supportive. The issue is whether it’s right to take a country to war on false pretences. I personally think it’s very much not.

  • Antoine Clarke

    I do pillory the Messers Bush and Blair (the Bs) for fabricating excuses over Iraq, given that there were at least two good causes: 1 overthrow tyranny, 2 well documented use of chemical weapons against the Iranians and the Kurds. It is the 45 minute threat to the UK that seemed OTT at the time. We know that had Saddam not ordered an assassination attempt on the president’s father and wife in 1992, Iraq would not have been above Iran on the ‘things to do’ list.

    When the Bs say that there is ‘proof’ that country X has a nuclear capability, I shall be less convinced than I would have been if an assembly line for making bio or nuclear weapons had been found in Iraq.

    However, I should not oppose a massive, precise and decisive military assault on North Korea, provided only that it is well planned and executed. It may not be possible to do this without a nuclear strike by North Korea, which most South Koreans and are Japanese rightly worried about. I do not think it would be fine to trade off the people of Seoul and Tokyo for the regime in Pyonyang.

  • A_t,

    You are right except for the last para. The only proper basis for this or any other war is national interest. It is not our business to help other nations govern themselves better from some over-developed sense of altruism.

    While Saddam might have been able to attack Britons in Cyprus within 45 minutes with WMD’s there was a sliver-thin basis in national interest. Cooke, Hoon and the JIS, however, knew that claim to be false. Blair must now claim ignorance over deceit but it isn’t really a very dignified posture for a British Prime Minister.

    The fact is he went to war because Bush was going anyway, and he wanted Britain – and Blair – to profit from being America’s one true ally. For his part, Bush was going anyway because his cabinet and advisors saw advantage in it for Israel. Yes, I know lots of folk don’t like to hear that. But what else is one to conclude? Bush’s decision had nothing to do with the War on Terrorism, quite the reverse – the Iraq invasion was a distraction. And I have never found the Haliburton excuse remotely convincing.

    Either way, though, Britain had no national interest at stake. British soldiers have died for the wrong reasons.

  • toolkien

    In your opinion, did Blair & Bush know all along Saddam had no WMD, or do you think they believed he did & are now genuinely surprised? (ie. were they deceitful or simply misinformed?)

    From what I recollect of the timeline the issue of stockpiles of WMD did not hit the front burner until new persuasion was necessary in front of the United Nations to legitimize going to war, following through on old resolutions deemed to have been unnecessary. I think there was a good enough case for going to war without stating that imminent danger was at hand due to WMD. Iraq had certainly not been forthcoming since the end of the Gulf War I and those who felt it necessary to pursue Saddam’s overthrow then had the right to proceed with what they halted conditionally in 1991. But you are right. The administrations hung their hats on the WMD argument almost exclusively and, if nothing else, allowed themselves to painted into the corner logically by those who opposed ramping up hostilities. So in many ways I view it in some cases as poor statesmanship versus attempts at blinkering the public.

    As for overthrowing tyrants, I don’t support doing so unless there is an economic need to do so. We don’t go into smaller countries, especially those not positioned over oil regions, simply because there is a murderous dictator there. But when trading partners are at risk, I am willing to have part of government’s role to be protecting vital resources for which we trade. Specifically with Iraq there is still questions as to whether the US and UK really had anything to worry about if Saddam gathered the region under his control with the likes of the CATO Institute largely against a war based on preserving oil supplies as being inconsequential to the GDP/GNP if Saddam were to have taken over the supplies and tried to fiddle with the prices of oil. But this assumes he would have been a logical trading partner which is a large assumption to make in my opinion. So I don’t support feeling obligated in overthrowing tyrants on somebody else’s behalf. I’m willing to protect trading partners who cannot protect themselves to preserve markets and at that only a very few like oil.

  • limberwulf

    I would agree that it is wrong to go to war over a lie and misinformation must be closely inspected. I would like to point out, however, that WMD’s were not the only reason to go to war, in fact it was not a very notable argument for me to start with. The other big reasons were: 1) support of terrorist activity, this isnt jsut the war on Al-Qaeda, its the war on terror. 2) removal of a criminal government, in violation of multiple UN resolutions.

    The process by which government does things is certainly important, it is the basis of dislike for government actions like the patriot act. No matter the intended results, the government needs to be held accountable for its means. OTOH, arguments have to be consistent. That applies to governments, libertatrians, and anti-war people. The issue in the post is that people who are anti-any-war will use ANY argument, skewing and spinning to support an agenda.

  • Quentin

    Saddam made us think he had WMD in the expectation that we wouldn’t attack. So he got hoist on his own petard.

  • These same people who laud it now as a model of “multilateral, principled” diplomacy, pilloried France a few years back for its Nuclear tests. Remember the French wine ban?

  • Britain had no national interest at stake.

    If you can’t see the national interest in removing Saddam from the Middle East, then you have the long term strategic vision of a French goldfish.

  • Jacob

    You assumption that Israel was a major factor in this war is false. It wasn’t Israel that was invaded in 1990.
    It was this invasion of Kuwait that turned the US-Iraq relations sour, and caused the two subsequent wars.

    It has been a long term policy of the US, at least since WW2, to maintain some stability in the ME, to prevent the dissruption of the oil supply. It doesn’t particularly matter who controls the oil fields, as long as oil gets pumped and sold. But if a state on instability is created, with frequent wars – the flow of oil is in danger. Saddam was threatening the stability. That was one of the main reasons for this war. (The other reasons were mentioned by other commenters).

  • Mick Mints

    Like A_t above my issue is not whether it was right to go to war in Iraq. (The allies should have finished the job the first time round when our trading partners were actually invaded. There are plenty of murdering tyrants around but in the end you do not free slaves they have to free themselves – Heinlein I think.)

    I feel angry that the political leadership cynically chose to lie in order to justify their decision. Even more cynically they then (in the UK) set up inquirys for which they set the terms of reference and appoint the “independent” judge to oversee everything. I just know that the intelligence services will be the scapegoats. Some people will be fired but not the right ones.

    It makes me even angrier that many people say the ends justify the means. I do not think that being lied to by ones elected representatives is ever acceptable even if you applaud the ends.

  • I don’t really believe that the US and British adminstrations lied about believing that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. I think that they genuinely believed there were, and I am still not entirely convinved that they were wrong. (“Weapons of mass destruction” includes such things as nerve gases, and Saddam certainly had these at one point and it still wouldn’t surprise me if stockpiles of these are found). If they were wrong, I believe this was an intelligence failure and not a lie. (There is also the question of the legal justification for war. Saddam Hussein was certainly in violation of the terms of the 1991 ceasefire with respect of weapons inspections, regardless of whether there were weapons there or not).

    As for the reason for war, it was a variety of factors. Fundamentally, though, the reason for war was that our attitudes had changed. Whereas we could tolerate a regime such as Saddam’s in the middle east with the world view we had before September 11, we couldn’t with the world view we had afterwards. The change was in our attitudes to our own vulnerabilities, and in our attitudes to the other powers of the middle east (most notably Saudi Arabia).

    But as for the war itself, one of the most tyrannical regimes on the face of the earth was removed from power. And I cannot but rejoice in that. If I could be sure that we could overthrow the hermit kingdom with a similar level of risk, I would certainly support such an operation. The problem is that both Seoul and Tokyo are as close as they are.

  • What Michael said… Absolutely. I also think that it is by no means a forgone conclusion that Iraq did not have WMDs.

  • Mike Mints: I do not think that being lied to by ones elected representatives is ever acceptable even if you applaud the ends.

    Do you seriously think a single day goes by in which your elected representatives do not tell a public lie? What makes this special? In fact I think Blair et al actually did think Saddam had WMDs… it is the only rational explaination of his behaviour (which only proves the folly of using that standard to explain the actions of tyrants)… but in any case, as I expect at best ‘half-truth’ as the default position of governments everywhere, I cannot say it would bother me all that much if they did lie (in the sense that I expect nothing less). When the government says “We will fix the NHS!”, do you seriously think they actually believe they will be able to do that? And do you think they are so stupid not to actually know that what they are saying is actually not what is really going to happen?

    If being lied to by the government is so shocking to you, maybe your shock has more to do with your flawed understanding of what all governments are really about. Being shocked a government lies is like being shocked prostitutes have sex. Well, yeah.

  • Katherine

    Beautiful, Perry! Just beautiful.

    And what Michael said.

  • Yes, Perry, politicians lie.

    But their lies seldom result in over 500 dead Aerican service members, countless dead Iraqi non-combatant civilians, et al, etc.

    And yes, Saddam was a nasty piece of work, yes he gassed people and did all sorts of bad things.

    But that’s NOT why the US invaded Iraq.

    “WMD!” “Al Queida!” “911” and all that other bullshit that was served up daily from the White House and #10 Downing St., THOSE were the reasons we were all told.

    Rumsfeld declaring exact weigts of nerve gases and bioweapons and claiming to know exactly where they were. And yet, somehow, he never got around to telling the UN Inspectors on the ground in Iraq the locations of all thise terrible stuff.

    Perry, face it, you got snookered by GWB and his pet poodle Tony. There are no WMD. There wsa no capibility to deploy WMD “on 45 minutes notice”. There were no Al Queida ties, there was no connection to 9/11.

    If lying about a tawdry affair and oral sex in the oval office is grounds for impeachment, seriously, shouldn’t the lies told by Bush, et al be equally good grounds for impeachment?

    Clinton lied. No One Died.

    Bush cannot make that same claim.

  • Ass Milkshake

    But their lies seldom result in over 500 dead American service members

    Chris, you don’t give a damn about American service members, and you’re a goddamn hypocrite for implying you do.

  • Mick Mints


    I did not say I was shocked that politicians lie. I said I was angry about it. Any reasonably intelligent person knows when a politician is lying – its everytime his mouth is open.

    On this particular issue of WMDs though, the reports they were citing had to be lies because they were so detailed and so wrong. The question is did the politicians alter the reports so the emphasis was changed from “we think this…” to “we know this…” I think they did. I think they did this because they wanted to make the case for war so overwhelming that any opposition to the war would be insignificant in comparison. Going to war with Iraq for the right reasons – and there were plenty of those – would have taken a lot more persuasion.

  • Chris Tucker: Yes, Perry, politicians lie. But their lies seldom result in over 500 dead American service members, countless dead Iraqi non-combatant civilians, et al, etc. […] Clinton lied. No One Died. Bush cannot make that same claim.

    Oh please…. the “what about the poor Iraqis” shtick rings very hollow indeed. As you play the “countless dead Iraqi non-combatant civilians” card, what about the death of “countless dead Iraqi non-combatant civilians” killed by the Ba’athists, and the fact such deaths would still be going on today if your desired ends has prevailed (i.e. that the Ba’athist regime was still in power now)? What about that? Before the US/UK attacked, Iraq was not at peace. Tyrannies are never at peace.

    And why should 500 tax funded US servicemen, who volunteered to go in harms way and sadly paid the price for their admirable decision to do so, matter more to me that 500 Iraqis who are alive to day because Saddam Hussain is not in power now? Although you clearly think they died pointlessly, for me those US volunteers did not throw their lives away worthlessly at all, the tangible benefits being a murderous tyrant overthrown and other people remaining alive.

    As for me, the notion he had WMD’s were a reason to take him out, for sure, but if you cruise the Samizdata.net archives you will see that was never my main reason for supporting the armed ouster of Iraqi Ba’athism. For me it is never wrong to shoot at tyrants if the outcome is pretty sure. On to North Korea!

  • Ironchef

    countless dead Iraqi non-combatant civilians

    Clinton’s lies were “not harming anyone”

    He’s played all the cards.

  • Ass Milkshake lives up to it’s name by saying:

    “Chris, you don’t give a damn about American service members, and you’re a goddamn hypocrite for implying you do.”

    And you know this because…?

  • Yes, Perry, politicians lie.

    But their lies seldom result in over 500 dead Aerican service members, countless dead Iraqi non-combatant civilians, et al, etc.

    Well, since Perry’s mention of the NHS triggered that fairly worn out argument (“countless” dead Iraqis seems particularly out of the loop) on the lethal difference of “this” lie compared to the “usual” lies, I shall point out that the French government tells the French – as well as the rest of the world – that the French social and healthcare system is the best to be found on this side of the universe (“That’s why it’s so expensive, stupid!” sez ze Prime.)

    Last summer, this lie caused the death of 15 000 French non-combatants civilians. An awful lot more in one month under a rather trivial reason (heat wave), than the total death of American soldiers since 9/11 (30 times more I believe) in the essential fight against Islamofascists, and still a lot more than the total Iraqi casualties for the liberation of Iraq.

    Yet no dictator removed, no terrorists terminated, no successful action taken against rogues states. Hell, even air-conditioning is still not installed (but they’re thinking about it. They may even contemplate legislating before summer 2036 – for the next generation of grilled oldsters.)

    I understand Mr. Tucker is searching for innocent victims who died in vain because of the state’s lies.

    I would say he’s probably not looking in the right direction…

  • ableiter

    Very amusing comments. All wars have a least two things in common. They are started with lies and BOTH sides think they will win.
    There could be nothing greater as far as self interest then for the United States of America to set about removing ALL Tyranny from this planet. I am not being Idealist, but pragmatic. It is the best way to ensure the safty of our nation. Terrorism is a strategic weapon used by despots. Armed with nuclear weapons, it could be a very effective strategy. It is not availble to any sort of representative government (I’m using that term to define a nation state where the majority of the population having a say in the govenment of their nation state. I am excluding those states that restrict empowerment to a small percentage of the citizens). So the best way to end terrorism is to cut it off at the source. Kill the Tyrants!
    The USA has the technological advantage that would allow us to do this with a reasonably low cost in human life. All we need is a leader with the balls to go for it. B2’s and JDAM’s will do most of the work. The ones we miss can try running a nation from their spider hole, while waiting for the Marines to show up. We can get the UN on board by restricting membership to those states that practice universal sufferage and putting the UN in charge of developing representative government in the nations once ruled by despots.

  • A_t

    ableiter, you’ve swallowed this whole war on terrorism thing whole!

    “Terrorism is a strategic weapon used by despots.”

    mmm… that’ll be right. So which despot crashed the planes into the twin towers then? Which despot funded the IRA? Terrorism doesn’t operate on a simple nation-state basis like normal war… & it’s perfectly possible for small numbers of people with relatively insignificant financial backing to inflict death & terror without the support of any particular nation-state. Even if such actions required powerful backing, only a fool would think that national governments are the only powerful figures on the world stage.

    Tyranny may spawn terrorism, but I’d suggest that tyrannies which use terror are in a very small minority; why use terrorism when you could just openly use the army? Similarly, why are democracies exempt from using terrorism? Why, for instance, would the French secret service (or British, American, Indian whatever) *not* resort to terrorist-looking actions if they served their purposes?

  • Scott Cattanach

    I see Perry is still playing his “I’m too sophisticated a European to care if B&B lied, only you barnyard American rubes think that matters. I’m wise and mature enough to support govt action even as I say no govt is honest enough to ever be trusted.” Evidently, a superior attitude only bothers neocons when the French do it.

    Perry gives a false choice – our options aren’t limited to invade anyone at will vs. let them build nukes and ICBMs w/ total impunity. He also ignores how difficult it will be for B&B to go after the next bad guy they think has WMD, because nobody will believe them, even if those claims may happen to be true (unlike in Iraq).

  • limberwulf

    ok then Scott,
    its all well and good to make a statement discrediting Perry by pointing out that he left something out. Now would you care to tell us in your infinite wisdom the other option that would have been effective in solving this situation? I try not to point at false choices without offering an example of what was left out.

    The US spent 12 years trying “other options”, is there something we didnt think of? Or are your “other options” just extensions of things that have yet to be effective?

  • Scott Cattanach

    Considering that Iraq evidently didn’t have WMD, the “other options” seem to have actually worked.