Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Is This War Necessary?

Lately, I’ve been thinking maybe the war in Iraq really is unnecessary. Maybe the left’s arguments are starting to make sense to me.

So why don’t we just leave and let them have Iraq? What do we owe the Iraqi people? Do you think they would do the same for us if we were the nation under the oppression of a ruthless dictator and they were the leaders of the free world? Are we supposed to care if the Muslim extremists make a shambles of Iraq?

They are not Americans. We are not obligated to free them, or help to bring about a Democracy.

Right?

Are the terrorists really only in Iraq because we’re there? I believe they are.

You read me right. I believe they are there because we are there.

But not because they want us out of Iraq. Quite the contrary, I believe they want us there. We are the terrorists excuse to commit acts of terrorism. True Islam does not condone random acts of violence, nor does it condone suicide. True Islam has more in common with Christianity than we, as non-Muslims think. The main difference is that they deny the deity of Christ, that Jesus is the son of God. They believe that God has no son and no father. True Islam is indeed a religion of peace, the way Mohammed envisioned .

But the terrorists are not devotees of “true” Islam.

The only way the terrorists can continue to terrorize without incurring the wrath of Muslim nations is to have an enemy. We serve that purpose. If we were not considered enemies, the terrorists would not have an excuse to attack us, and our intervention to assist in the toppling of Saddam’s regime gives them the perfect excuse to invade and terrorize.

Am I saying that we should pull out of Iraq? Not at all. If we were to pull out of Iraq, the terrorists would most certainly follow us to America’s shores and attack us over here. Or, if we were to send troops into Iran, or North Korea, or North Africa, or Northern Ireland, or North Dakota, they would be there to attack and terrorize.

The Muslim extremists want to kill and maim. That is all they want. Even if all America were to convert to Islam, they would still want us dead. We represent to them everything they want but do not have, and they are envious. This is not about religious differences, it is about power.

Whether we are there for a good reason or not, we cannot pull out. We have no choice but to stay and fight. And to see this through to it’s conclusion, whatever and whenever that will be. As President Bush has stated, It’s better to fight them over there than at home.

We can choose to be reactive or we can choose to be pro-active. Either way, we will have to fight, and we will have to win.

So. Is the war necessary?

You bet it is. America’s survival depends on it.

38 comments:

A.T. said...

Mark,

You make a good argument about the necessity of the war here. The only thing I don't understand is that you determine that this war is necessary ... but yet you called it "evil" ("necessary evil") yesterday. Granted, "necessary evil" is a common characterization; my only point is that we ought not to think of it as such a thing. In fact, if a war is both just and necessary, then only failing to go to war would be evil. In fact, CS Lewis argued that if a war is just and necessary, the loving and righteous thing to do is in fact to go to war. I think that's clearly correct.

Good post,

AT

Jaymeister said...

From what I read, Mark, it looks like you believe that the decision to go to war may not have been warranted, but the consequences of that decision are what are making it necessary to continue fighting it. You may be right - the situation might be so far gone that there's no way to get out. If so, do the leaders who made that decision have the moral authority to see it through to its conclusion? There is a significant segment of the population who would argue that the Bush administration calculated into their decision that there would come a time when they'd be so entrenched in the war that questioning its purpose and the dubious reasons for entering it would be futile. I believe that this war has given the terrorists a rallying cause for their recruitment, and that you are correct when you say they want the U.S. to stay there. I'm not sold on the idea that they would follow the troops back to North Dakota. The flypaper theory didn't work in Madrid or London.

Mark said...

I don't know. I wrote this piece late at night, which may explain away parts of it. It started with a germ of an idea, but I couldn't come up with a way to adequately articulate what I was trying to say.

I mean the initial reason(s) we are in Iraq are still unexplained to many people's satisfaction. (And I'm not talking about the looney left, who would say that regardless of the reason there is no reason to be there.)

I still am of the opinion that the President is privy to a lot more information than we know, and that he has definite justification for the war. I just wish he could define the lines a little more clearly for us poor schmucks who are still feeling our way around in the dark.

In any case, We are there, and I believe we need to stay there and keep fighting until we wipe the terrorists out completely or surrender, whichever comes first.

It may take a long, long time.

BRUISER said...

The terrorist rightwingers of this country can't even figure out why they went to war...this is f'ing rediculous. And before you jump down my throat for calling you the T-word look up the def. thanx

Mark said...

OK, Bruiser. So now I'm the spokesman for "terrorist right wingers" everywhere.

You give me much too much credit.

Saying "I don't know" is a far cry from saying nobody knows.

Mark said...

ter·ror·ist ( P ) Pronunciation Key (trr-st)
n.
One that engages in acts or an act of terrorism.

adj.
Of or relating to terrorism.

terrorist

adj : characteristic of someone who employs terrorism (especially as a political weapon); "terrorist activity"; "terrorist state" n : a radical who employs terror as a political weapon; usually organizes with other terrorists in small cells; often uses religion as a cover for terrorist activities

Ok. I looked it up. How do either of the two apply to me?

Lone Ranger said...

OK, let's say you are the police chief of a small city. You get intelligence from ALL your sources -- informants, undercover agents, citizens, etc -- that there is a crack house operating at a certain address in a bad part of town. So you order a raid on the address, the SWAT team breaks in and -- no crack. What they find instead is a child porn operation and three missing children. Do you order your people to back out of the house, apologizing profusely, or do you arrest everyone and seize everything in sight?

That's pretty obvious. If you shut the place down and rescued those children, nobody would be stupid enough to criticize you because you went in to find crack and instead broke up a child porn operation.

George Bush invaded Iraq because ALL his intelligence sources told him there were WMDs there. He didn't find them. What he found was prisons filled with children, rape rooms, torture chambers, mass graves, evidence of the worst atrocities since the time of Hitler. Should he have backed out profusely apologizing or should he have arrested everyone and seized everything in sight?

Obvious again. Yet nobody hails Bush as a hero. There is an abundance of people stupid enough to criticize him for rescuing children. I never cease to be amazed at how the left can turn a blind eye to the worst human suffering so long as it isn't they who suffer. To them, mass murder, torture, rape, etc are just some abstracts to toss around in their pseudointellectual discussions.


By the way, why didn't we find WMD's? Because George Bush listened to the whiny left and allowed the corrupt, incompetant UN to waste 18 months playing hide and seek with Saddam. It wouldn't take a magician to hide a country full of WMDs in 18 months. Mr. Bush has the same character flaw that his father has. He continues to compromise with the left, and when things go south, shameless liberals blame HIM for it.

ANY war against tyranny is justified. People aren't starving in North Korea because of a lack of food. People aren't dying of bird flu in China and Vietnam because of a lack of medical treatment. People aren't living in the worst of conditions in Africa because of a lack of foreign aid. These people are suffering because they live under repressive regimes that are so corrupt, even when aid is given, it is sucked up by criminal leaders.

And why is that any of our business? Why should we be the world police? Because we are the only superpower in the world. We are the only country that has the wealth, the know-how, the compassion and the COURAGE to deal with these tinhorn dictators. We are the only nation in the world that actually CARES. These liberals can hug trees all the do da day and it won't bring peace to the world. Never in human history has a bloodthirsty dictator been sweet-talked through diplomacy into changing his ways. You can't ignore evil. You can't bargain with evil. You can't reason with evil. Evil must be destroyed. And the tree huggers on the left will never see the world of rainbows and hugs all around until every last evil dictator has been wiped from the face of the earth. We are the only country willing and able to do that.

George Orwell said, “People sleep peaceably in their bed at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.” Liberals sleep UNDER their bed for fear they'll be called upon to sacrifice something for their country. I wish they'd just stay there, shut up, and let real men change the world for the better, one dictator at a time. I really don't care that they're selfish and cowardly. All I ask is that they stop undermining the efforts of those who are noble and courageous.

If a single repressive regime survives the 21st century, all of mankind should be ashamed.

Liam said...

Mark I agree that now we are in Iraq we have to see it through, although I understand the object of us being there is to achieve a viable democratic Iraqi state, rather than eliminate all terrorists. (The former will be difficult enough; the latter would be a task for Sisyphus!)
I think you should perhaps review the reasoning in your original post though. Al Qaeda is a fundamentalist religious organisation; I don’t think envy enters into their thinking. If anything, I imagine they pity us for not having seen the light and converted to their brand of Islam. Their stated reasons for action are to oppose US Foreign Policy; I don’t think they much care what goes on within US borders, the problem they have is with interference in the affairs of other, particularly Muslim, nations.
…And when I hear talk about the Flypaper Strategy, I have to say that the American position looks increasingly hypocritical to me. Fighting terrorists in a foreign land so that they don’t threaten us at home is all very well if that foreign land is unoccupied. However, if you are attracting terrorists to a place where civilians live, aren’t you implicitly offering up the civilian population of that nation as cannon-fodder? You said that we have to keep fighting in Iraq because if we didn’t the terrorists would start attacking us on our shores. Doesn’t that statement imply that it is better to have Iraqi civilians die rather than American civilians? Isn’t that the basis of the flypaper strategy; fight them over there so we don’t have to fight them over here? Think about that from an Iraqi civilian’s point of view (and indeed a Christian charity point of view!) and ask yourself why Al Qaeda might have issues with American Foreign Policy.

BRUISER said...

Why haven't we invaded Saudi Arabia yet Mark thats all I am asking?

Have you watched the news lately Afghanistan is complete chaos ...why did Bush choose to cut and run there and why did you support that decision by voting for his Dumb-ss?

Jaymeister said...

Lone Ranger,
You don't exactly have a perfect analogy there. The "prisons filled with children, rape rooms, torture chambers, mass graves", etc. were not just found after the occupation, they were well known for a long time, including when the U.S. was supporting Saddam's regime. If you want to argue that these were reasons enough to start this war, that's a strong argument - but it's NOT what Bush was selling to the people. He only sold the war in the context of 9/11 and the threat to the U.S. in the form of WMD's. If the president felt so strongly about his rationale for the war he should have felt confident enough to express it openly to the public. Since he didn't, people question his agenda. If you want to fight tyrrany and protect your population, start with Saudi Arabia where 15 of the 9/11 highjackers came from.

As for the faulty intelligence, I agree that we all fell vicitm to that. But I would argue that Bush went a step beyond just reporting bad intelligence - he even reported intelligence that was known AT THE TIME to be false. There was a lot of hyperbole in his case for war. Certainly, when Iraq was surrounded on all sides and under the world's microscope, no WMD shenanigans were going to occur. A more thorough inspection could have been done. There was no need to rush into an invasion, unless you had other reasons to do so. You may think those other reasons were noble, and others might think that they were for oil and business. Either way, you agree that it was a hidden agenda. So, do you think the end always justifies the means, or are you repulsed at the idea of playing political games to muster support for a war? (And would you have felt the same way about it if Clinton had gone into this same war in the same way? I definitely would have felt exactly the same way.)

jgaoehals14962 said...

Mark,
I agree with you mostly... except the part about Islam being a religion of peace. I believe Jesus would refer to them as ravenous wolves... whether they are the terrorist kind, or the peaceful kind. I've written more extensively at my blog site... but please, I'm not taking you to task, but trying to clarify as a brother in Christ.
God bless

Lone Ranger said...

jaymeister, I'm not arguing that was reason enough to start this war. This war was started for exactly the reasons George Bush gave. And calling him a liar doesn't mean he is one. There WERE WMDs in Iraq -- period. You tell us where the went in the 18 months the UN was piddling around. As for allying ourselves with evil, well, there are times when the enemy of our enemy is our friend. We did the same in WWII with one of the most evil men of all time -- Stalin. Where we keep making our mistake is that we honor our alliances with evil after there's no reason to. We should have heeded Patton and just kept right on rolling into Moscow after the fall of Berlin. We should have kept right on rolling into Iraq after we toppled the Taliban. Factions within Saudia Arabia might be working against us, but elements of the government are the enemy of our enemy. And don't tell me you wouldn't be squealing just as loudly if we had invaded Saudi Arabia rather than Iraq. The two greatest evils ever unleashed on this world are Communism and Islam. They'v both spread across the world like a cancer. Communism has murdered more than 100 million people and counting. Islam wouldn't hesitate to murder countless more. Like it or not, this world is engaged in a war between good and evil. It's up to you with which side you want to ally yourself.

The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

I started the following before lone ranger's last post....

jaymeister,

wmds were not the only case for war. This article sums up the case for war quite nicely, before we went in:

from the New Yorker

In the Congressional resolution authorizing the war in Iraq, Congress listed the following as justification: repeated violation of cease-fire agreements. (2)human rights violations (c'mon, bleeding heart libs! Where's your compassion for his victims?! The mass graves? Seen some of the videos? Sick!) (3)his support for international terrorism (Saddam is part of the problem in the GWOT) (4)capabilities and willingness to use wmds (read the rest of what Charles Duelfer and David Kay actually say)and other weapons violations (5)and his continued obstruction of UN weapons inspectors. It was a running joke.

The president and Congress decided that Saddam's numerous violations of binding UN Security Council resolutions - those filed under Chapter 7 of the U.N. charter - threatened to destabilize the world more than a war to remove him would. We will never really know, "What if...?" What if he were left in power? Think if he died and left power to his sons, the world would still be safer?

For those who were opposed to the war even when so many of our leaders all over the world also were convinced of wmds and the dangers they posed, and yet were still opposed to the war, it's a disengenous argument to use, to say we shouldn't have gone in because "where are the wmds"? Those pre-war pacifists, no matter what the threat level, were opposed anyway. For the rest of us, the question, which Mark poses, is: "What do we do NOW?" To keep whining about "no wmds, we shouldn't have gone to war anyway" is what is meant by the tired-out phrase, "stuck on stupid".

In my estimation, the difference between Saddam's regime and just taking out any random dictator who is in violation of human rights abuses, is that we had legal authority to do so. We never signed a peace treaty. Saddam was in constant violation of cease-fire agreements. Why should he take any threats of enforcement of UN resolutions seriously, when all the UN was capable of doing was creating another resolution? 12 years of snubbing his nose at the UN. What's the point of threatening action when Saddam knows that the UN doesn't have the plums to carry out action? Not to mention the kickbacks and pay-offs through the UN Food-for-Oil scandal since we were blamed for starving his people through sanctions; funny how the blame is on us and not on Saddam for starving his own people by not abiding by the cease-fire agreements, and filling his coffers with UN money and building lavish palaces for himself. Swell guy, that Saddam. Yup, the world and the Iraqis were much better off.

And it's a bogus argument to say "we used to support Saddam." Throughout history, alliances, pacts, friendships, are made and broken. In your own personal life, if you make a new friend....learn more about that friend over the years, or have a falling out...are you still bound by that initial handshake to remain friends for life? It's ridiculous! I lived with a girlfriend who I loved with all my heart and now I can't stand her ass! Am I wrong now to think ill of her because at one time I "supported her"? No way. Britain and France and many countries have formed alliances and have squared off. What of it?

[/rant]

I have to go to work.

Liam said...

Pastor Timothy I am curious about why you think Jesus would have referred to peaceful Muslims as ravening wolves. It strikes me that Christ set out to break down the ‘us and them’ mentality by preaching about the Good Samaritan, turning the other cheek to your enemy and by sending his religion out to the gentiles. Isn’t it a fundamental tenet of Christianity to “live and let live”? Aren’t you pre-judging a large, peaceful segment of the world’s population just because they don’t believe in your version of God?

Lone Ranger, I’m afraid the US Government’s own investigation disagrees with you about the WMDs. There were none there when the US invaded Iraq and the head of the inspection team doesn’t think it was likely that any were moved out in advance of the war. (See http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/4484237.stm) And when you say “Islam wouldn’t hesitate to murder countless more” do you mean that every Muslim in the world is ready to slit your throat or are you grossly generalising about a tiny group of suicidal fanatics and tarring a fifth of the world’s population with that brush?

Jaymeister said...

Wordsmith,
There is so much that you wrote which I can dispute, and it would take too much time and be very longwinded - and I have to get back to work too. But I must challenge something you said near the end:

In your own personal life, if you make a new friend....learn more about that friend over the years, or have a falling out...are you still bound by that initial handshake to remain friends for life?

That's a strawman. It didn't happen like that in this case. There was nothing more "learned" about Saddam - all the ugly human rights violations were happening at the time when the U.S. supported him. He was even supplied with and encouraged to use WMD's, at least on Iran. Then he got out of control and invaded Kuwait, which wasn't part of the gameplan, so the U.S. and international forces justifiably put an end to that. But, once again, Dr. Frankenstein has to deal with the monster he created.

I don't think anybody was taking Saddam lightly - I shed no tears over him being brought to justice. He was a brutal dictator, and I wish there were none of those. But there's more than one way to skin a cat. And, obviously the threats on him were working because the WMD's are gone. Would you at least agree that, in the future, the U.S. should refuse to do business with such tyrants? In answer to Lone Ranger's question, fighting tyrrany doesn't necessarily mean invading a country in the case of Saudi Arabia. It means saying that we will no longer do business as usual until you do something about the terrorists you are harbouring.

jgaoehals14962 said...

Liam
No, I'm doing what any pastor worth his weight in salt is to do. Point out the truth of the gospel and what Jesus said, that He is the way, the truth, the life and no one comes to the Father except by Him. Just looking at what He says about Himself in the book of John alone, rules out any hope of the Father's acceptance apart from Christ. If He is the only way, which the evidence of the Bible says that He is, then we must proclaim that truth out of love for our fellow mankind. Otherwise, to hide such rich truth, would be the most cruel.

On the other hand, if there are other ways of acceptance into God's presence, then why on earth would He require His Son to die on the cross? That would be most cruel if it wasn't a requirement.

BTW, we might want to take this line of thought to my blog, it is a bit off subject.
God bless

William said...

I am arguing that rape rooms, mass graves, etc. were reason enough to start the war. Obviously, such were not the only reasons. However, I think a very strong case can be made that the civilian mistreatment compelled the US to go to war with Iraq.

Let's journey back in time when for years Nazi work camps were established before the start of WWII. News of these camps surfaced, and yet our hands were tied as Americans.

What was the catalyst for our involvement in WWII? The Attack on Pearl Harbor. Could we have chosen to become involved prior to the attacks? Absolutely. I personally think we should have intervened once Hitler became Supreme Chancellor of Germany in 1933. BUT! I can only say that in hindsight.

We cannot allow the War in Iraq to be placed in a historical vacuum. There are historical lessons that can aid us in preventing future catastrophes.

Regarding WMD, let's be logical. ANY rational president would have taken the advice of his high military adivisors regarding WMD. That's just logical. Otherwise, what's the purpose of having advisors?

In Bush's case, what if we would have found WMD ten year's down the road? Then Bush would have been hanged for being hesitant to investigate. Honestly. Nuclear warfare is not fun, and I'd rather err on the safe side. So yes, let's check the back pockets of Saudi Arabia, North Korea, and China and even Fickle France if they begin to seem suspicious.

Liam said...

At a risk of diverting this thread again, can I just point out that the intelligence regarding WMD was nowhere near as convincing as some here seem to believe.

The British Government believed some eight months before the war, that the US administration was planning war and arranging the facts (the intelligence) to support that policy. See here for information on that.

Similarly, the UK Parliament’s later investigation into the decision to go to war reported weak intelligence about WMD being talked-up to its ‘outer limits’ in order to support the decision. See here, particularly under the headings The Weapons Dossier and The War Decision.

The decision to go to war was not taken because of human rights abuses – they had long been known about. Iraq was not involved in 9/11. The situation in Iraq had not changed substantially in the run-up to the war. The decision to go to war was not taken because of WMD.

I am not sure we will ever know the real reason beyond ‘because George Bush wanted to.’

Fitch said...

Perhaps it's because I'm such a right wing nut job, but my understanding of the argument for invading Iraq is as such:

Iraq borders on Iran, as does Afghanistan. Iran is one of the biggest most threatening enemies we could dream of having. To invade Iran without stratefic bases of operation would be patently stupid.

We have justifiable pretexts for invasion of two countries that border Iran. Both ruled by opressive regimes, guilty of atrocities. One harbors the individual that claims responsibility for 9/11, and Iraq is a country with which war never ended. We were in a state of cease fire agreement. This agreement was not being upheld by Saddam. So we now have justifiable pretexts for invasion of each country.

We are now in the process of establishing friendly nations on the borders of Iran. Hopefully this will also help lead an INTERNAL revolution against the Ruling regime in Iran. If not, we have the needed strategic placement of Military bases, and Allied armed forces.

If you couldn't see the difference between propaganda and reality before the whole thing started, too bad. Yes, this is the way I've seen things since talk started of sending military into the middle east. No re-writes on my reasoning, and I still firmly believe in the cause.

Lone Ranger is right, we should be the world's police, because we can. For the same reason that, if I were to step outside and see my neighbor being raped, it would be wrong to think, "Well that sucks," turn around and go back inside, that would be wrong. I must take action, because I can. We obviously need to be strategic about where and when we participate in our world policing, just as the local PD is strategic in selecting how to get rid of the drug dealers, and gangs.

The fact of the matter is, Bush's plan to restructure the middle east is absolutely brilliant. I understood the point from the start. Sorry so many of you were bent on the propaganda spin of the day. It was necessary. How do you sell the idea that we are about to engage in a decades long restructuring of the entire Middle East. You don't. You can't.

rich bachelor said...

On the other hand, one could say that being the world's police force at least partially got us into this.
And as to the "because we can" part, not only is that not especially compelling reasoning, but pretty soon, we won't be able to afford it. Then where will we be?
Alone, hated and broke.

Jaymeister said...

Fitch,
Congratulations. You are SO CLOSE to the truth. And for that, I'm going to give you both a carrot and a stick.

You are the first right-winger I have seen on blogs to acknowledge the following:

1. WMD and the other arguments put forward are just pretexts. (Your word. Check the dictionary if you don't know what it means.)

2. Bush couldn't sell the public on his real reasons for invading Iraq.

3. Bush doesn't intend to ever withdraw the military from Iraq, regardless of what happens in that country, for better or worse.

You have acknowledged that there is a hidden agenda. But in your blind loyalty, did you ever consider the possibility that oil and defense contractor interests might be part of the big picture too? Is that any more farfetched than the idea that all of this was a charade to neutralize Iran?

What I find most troubling is the matter-of-fact manner in which you dismiss the Bush "propaganda" as necessary. Does your Constitution mean anything to you? The war was supported by the public, via their elected representatives, based on the information presented to them. You have said, in effect, that the people can't handle the truth. What you mean is that they will disagree with you. I find it sad that you condone the subversion of democracy by your executive branch.

Erudite Redneck said...

Wow. This is the most intelligrent thread I've ever seen here, Mark.

I'll limit my response thusly: I agree with about the first third or half of Lone Ranger's first comment. Everything above "By the way, why didn't we find WMD's?" Then he gets a little ranty -- but that's OK, I do, too.

My only other point is this: Regardless of what the congressional resolution said, and, well, regardless of anything else, the SOLE reason I supported the war in Iraq was because the government led me to believe that not only did Saddam have WMDs, but that he had them locked and loaded, and was ready to use them against us. The strong implication was that it was nukes.

So, of course, I'm pissed.

But I'm for seeing it through -- because leaving now would be a greater wrong than going in under weak pretenses in the first place.

--ER

Erudite Redneck said...

Oh, and it amuses me to see some people acting surprised that Bush intended to go into Iraq well before 9/11. Bob Woodward's book, "Bush at War," made that clear a long time ago. And the White House approved of that book, recall.

--ER

Jaymeister said...

Questionalbe election? Well, why argue over it now? It's over, and we have to move the country forward and make the best of it.

False pretenses for going to war? Well, why argue over it now? We're there, and we have to make the best of it.

There's a pattern here, don't you think? Do something suspect now, and make the questions later irrelevant.

Fitch said...

I wouldn't say that it was planned before 9/11. That's a bogus claim. 9/11 was the factor that placed urgency on the issue of terrorism. It's not just something that happens in other countries.

I don't understand why you would get the impression that WMD's were "locked and loaded, and... ready to use them against us. I never got any impression other than buereaucratic BS that Saddam was not complying with the cease fire agreement. This BS, by the way lasted ridiculously long. Which probably is the reason so much emphasis was placed on the Issue of WMD's. It was 1 1/2 years worth of wasting time.

Jay - My point is that we built a case for justification. I don't think that people can't handle the truth. I think people have a hard time grasping large, complex ideas in soundbite form. How can you build a two page long rallying cry. You need something a little more simplified. I don't think any false information was presented. In fact the full and complete case I made WAS presented regularly. Read any of the speeches in their entirety. You'll see what I mean. It does put all the pieces together. People just tend not to keep all the pieces together. It's common in all things. People just latch on to one element that catches their attention and don't see the big picture. I saw the big picture. Look back and see how many times the President refers to bringing change to the greater middle east. It's there from the very first speech. You just forgot it was there because you latched on to WMD's. Then when we found no WMD's and the President speaks of changing the middle east people said, "that's not what it was about." Which is false. That's precisely what it was about. That's just not the part you and everyone else focused on. From the very first speech he acknowledged it would take maybe generations to complete the task. You just focused on "mission accomplshed," and said, "what went wrong here?" Well a 50 year war has more than one mission. Do some research on the speeches. The focus on WMD's was the result of what people bother to listen to, then talk about, then debate about. It wasn't the main reason. It was the most talked about reason.

Jaymeister said...

I seem to have missed the part when Bush talked to the UN about the need to pass a resolution in order to "change the Middle East". I don't reall Tony Blair talking about that either. I DO recall Colin Powell presenting a load of falsities about WMD. It was the centrepiece of the case for war, and very compelling. Even Al Franken supported the war after seeing Powell's presentation. International law might allow you to wage war to avert an imminent threat, but not to "change" a region.

Erudite Redneck said...

Re, "I wouldn't say that it was planned before 9/11. That's a bogus claim."

Nope. Read "Bush at War," which, again, was approved by the White House. But I didn't say "planned." I said that the book makes clear that "Bush intended to go into Iraq well before 9/11." 9/11 put it on a frotn burner.

Re, "I don't understand why you would get the impression that WMD's were 'locked and loaded' and... ready to use them against us."

Well, I don't understand what you don't understand. I did not regard any of the other things as legitimizing a preemptive war. I did accept the WMD argument -- and it turned out to be a weak argument.

--ER

The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

International law might allow you to wage war to avert an imminent threat, but not to "change" a region.

I think that's part of the beauty of it. Iraq is part of the GWOT; and it was a perfect candidate to go after. This has been a gamble from the very beginning; and it's a story that might not have a happy ending. But making a concerted effort to plant the seeds of democracy in a region of the world that is already unstable and dangerous to us (that honestly, when has the Middle East ever been stable?) is bold and if successful, can in the longterm have a domino effect and ultimately make the world safer. The status quo of the 90's certainly didn't avert 9/11.

I don't find it farfetched to caricaturize libs as wanting therapy and more understanding and blaming our foreign policy for terrorism. And this isn't to say that all liberals and all democrats think like this; but it is a liberal position to take. Well, the strategy to effect "change" in the region strikes right at the heart and source of the problem. Killing terrorists is mopping up; planting the seed of democracy and protecting it to grow and flourish is the act of turning off the faucet that is breeding this perversity upon the world.

Please: no moral relativistic nonsense about "who are we to push democracy upon people?" Go read some of the Iraqi bloggers who can't understand why the anti-war protestors are so cruel as to not wish freedom to succeed for Iraqis.




Whoo! Way too much to respond to, let alone read. Apologies, as I know there are thoughtful posts here, but I mostly skimmed through. Just to answer Jay on his challenge to me:

My analogy might have been imperfect, but I still reject the notion that because we've had former diplomatic and political ties to other nations in the past, that those "friendships/alliances" must somehow be forever binding, and that when situations change, we must do nothing but wring our hands and navel-gaze and blame ourselves for choosing the lesser evil of two alliances, making that guilt hinder us from acting and taking the appropriate measures in the present. And you'd think that if we "helped Saddam into power" (*insert rolleyes emoticon here*), then we are the ones who have the greater responsibility to take him back out.
So you're Frankenstein monster comment makes no sense to me.

Actually, this sums up my feelings pretty accurately.

And there's a Swedish article that indicates that something like 98% of Saddam's weapons arsenal was supplied by other foreign powers, like the Russians and the Germans; not the U.S.



I don't think anybody was taking Saddam lightly - I shed no tears over him being brought to justice. He was a brutal dictator, and I wish there were none of those. But there's more than one way to skin a cat. And, obviously the threats on him were working because the WMD's are gone.

No, the UN method of impotence and moral cowardice and profiting along with Saddam from the Food for Oil program was not working. France would never have agreed to war under any circumstance. "More time, more time, more time" was all a sham. The French stood to lose $100 billion in oil arrangements with Saddam if war were to happen. So don't think for one minute that they occupied any moral high ground. In their 7-year deal with Saddam in which they did stand to profit $100 billion, there was a condition placed upon the French to work toward lifting the sanctions.

Why do people on the Left of this issue, many of them anyway, always say, "Saddam was evil and a butcher and I'm glad he's gone, BUT..."

If we listened to the French obstructionists, Saddam would still be in power and does anyone really think that would make the future of the world safer? Saddam has no one but himself to blame for the way things went down. He could have easily cooperated, but for 12 years, he didn't. Everytime we threatened to bomb him, inspectors were let in; then kicked out...then we'd go through this whole diplomatic rigmarole all over again, and eventually he'd back down, let inspectors in, then play a game of hide and seek and kick 'em back out. It's a farce. And he thought he could get away with it all over again with THIS President.


Would you at least agree that, in the future, the U.S. should refuse to do business with such tyrants?

jay, I wish I could give you an easy "yes". Unfortunately, I have no experience as a world leader or ambassador or diplomat or anything at all for that matter; I'm just an arm-chair political junkie. If we were to cut off ties to everyone who ever offended or who we deemed morally corrupt, how will this make for a better world? Both sides would suffer greatly from free trade and the global economy market would be sorely impoverished. Maybe if we did live up to our ideals and remained pure from shady dealings, who knows? Relationships between other nations is vastly complex, and I think we can be critical of allies such as Saudi Arabia, and still work toward mutual self-interest and goals that help both our countries.

In answer to Lone Ranger's question, fighting tyrrany doesn't necessarily mean invading a country in the case of Saudi Arabia. It means saying that we will no longer do business as usual until you do something about the terrorists you are harbouring.

If only it were that simple.
We are constantly seeking diplomatic solutions to problems that interfere with our national self-interests, and our sense of decency. Saddam had his chance, and diplomacy didn't work. Time to enforce UN Resolution 1441.

I saw liam link to the downing st memo. It's not the smoking gun you think it is, and I think it helps exonerate Bush and Blair; not hurt 'em. I read the entire thing, but don't remember the specifics anymore.

And why do people keep saying "no connection between Iraq and 9/11" when that's a twisted mischaracterizing of what the Administration had said? I was never led into believing that Saddam had somehow had a hand in orchestrating 9/11.

Jaymeister said...

France would never have agreed to war under any circumstance. "More time, more time, more time" was all a sham. The French stood to lose $100 billion in oil arrangements with Saddam if war were to happen.

I don't doubt a word of that. France's position was dictated purely by its economic interests. But is it impossible for you to step outside the box and consider that maybe, just maybe, that had a role in the U.S. position as well?

BRUISER said...

ummmm... Republicans the culture of corruption

The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

jay, absolutely! But it's not as simplistic as the "no blood for oil" crowd who thinks we are somehow stealing Iraqi oil and that President Bush is getting his greedy rich friends richer, and holler "Halliburton" like an evil 12-letter word at every turn.

It'd be disastrous for America to craft its foreign policy around the idea of helping other nations out of pure altruism.

We didn't liberate Iraq simply out of humanitarian reasons. It was out of our own national self-interest that we did so. But that self-interest goes hand-in-hand with helping others. The better off other countries are, politically, economically, socially, etc, the better off we are. A free and democratic Iraq, ultimately, would indeed make us safer.

There are many variables that could insure our victory or our defeat in the attempt to democratize Iraq. It was a big gamble all along.

What I don't understand, is how anyone could not be pro-victory, and work toward helping democracy succeed in Iraq; rather than talking up a defeatist strategy and be so politically-hateful of President Bush, that they can't behave in a manner that does not insure bringing about our own ruin. Almost like an "I told you so"-mentality, every set-back, big and small, gets magnified in such a way, that I'd think we had a fifth column in our midst, working toward our defeat. Just because they couldn't bare the notion that President Bush would be credited with success in Iraq.

Jaymeister said...

Wordsmith, if things had gone the way Bush said it would I'd have been first in line to applaud him for it. The facts are that a.) he was less than forthcoming about the reasons for this action. And if you re-read and deconstruct what you wrote above, you will come to the conclusion that there was no real urgency for this invasion. We'll probably never find agreement on this point, so I'll just leave it at that. More importantly there's b.) which is that the planning and execution of the occupation and democratization has been horrid. For example, General George Casey is now saying that only one Iraqi battalion is now rated as capable of fighting without U.S. help, when in June there were three. Huh? (See here.) So there's a major question of competence here. Are you saying that the U.S. should just stay the course like this? I think that Bush either needs to come up with a better way to make it work, or find a way to get others to make it work.

It isn't all about oil, but the likelihood of a "gamble" like this taking place where no oil exist is virtually nil. There are plenty of people reaping big profits from this war. And nobody is making sacrifices for this "great cause" except the troops, their families and the Iraqi people. If I'm wrong about this, I apologize. Even still, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

Wordsmith, if things had gone the way Bush said it would I'd have been first in line to applaud him for it. The facts are that a.) he was less than forthcoming about the reasons for this action. And if you re-read and deconstruct what you wrote above, you will come to the conclusion that there was no real urgency for this invasion. We'll probably never find agreement on this point, so I'll just leave it at that.

One of the oft misquotes of President Bush is that he said the threat was imminent, when in fact, he said we must act before the threat is imminent. It might sound like semantic hairsplitting; but I think the distinction is an important one to make. At what point do we take action to protect ourselves? At what point is it too late? If a cancer is allowed to metastacized, at a certain point, it will be too late to do anything. In the age of nuclear weapons, waiting until a threat is imminent, is waiting too late. Saddam is someone who made no secrets about his desires and intentions upon the world; some machinations of which had already been carried out; he openly threatened the U.S. and openly supported terrorist activities. If the status quo remained, is there any doubt that he would not eventually attain a nuclear arsenal? At that point, we have no real alternative other than appeasement and concessions. Our leverage is gone, and that's bad for the world, in my opinion, because I do see the U.S. as a just nation.

As President Roosevelt put it, "if you hold your fire until you see the whites of his eyes, you will never know what hit you"


I haven't picked up the books by Woodward and Richard Clarke; I remember their interviews on 60 Minutes during election year (as well as that other guy who came out with a book; forget his name...was he secretary of treasury? Think he still voted for Bush, even though the interview made him look bitter at the Administration. Oh, Paul O'Neil is who I'm thinking of..I think), and I vaguely remember some articles by conservatives disputing their claims and credibility. I guess it never weighed heavy on my mind.

Historically, intelligence has never been "spot on" and more often than not, has underestimated the magnitude of the enemy's strength.

More importantly there's b.) which is that the planning and execution of the occupation and democratization has been horrid. For example, General George Casey is now saying that only one Iraqi battalion is now rated as capable of fighting without U.S. help, when in June there were three. Huh? (See here.) So there's a major question of competence here.

On whose part? Our generals in the field? The Iraqi soldiers being trained? You can't magically "wish" these soldiers to be trained faster. Do we want them trained right, or give them a 2 week crash course? General Meyers disputes the significance of General Casey's claim about the single battalion. I think there's something like 86 battalions and they have made huge progress in the past year. Some are more ready than others, but progress is happening. They're either ready or they aren't; and if they aren't, they aren't. You keep training them. Not give up. There is a lot of good news and good progress coming out of Iraq.


Are you saying that the U.S. should just stay the course like this? I think that Bush either needs to come up with a better way to make it work, or find a way to get others to make it work.

By "staying the course", does not mean you keep doing the same things you've been doing. It means you show some intestinal fortitude and see this through to the end. Not waver, not falter, not cave in.

Have things gone wrong? Yes. Could there have been more planning? Yes. Yes, Yes, and Yes. Much, due to hindsight Monday morning quarterbacking. You have a plan before the game, you plan before each play in the huddle, then you go out and it works, or it doesn't. No plan ever survives the first contact. There are variables and contingencies that you just can't fully plan for, until they happen. Then you learn and adapt. The key to any armed conflict is the ability to flow and adapt. The enemy is doing the same thing, changing their tactics and figuring out what works and what is to be abandoned. The question is: are we learning and adapting tactics? And I think we are. Humvees weren't originally designed to deal with IEDs. That's new. So now we've been outfitting humvees with plating below.

The nature of conflict is that things go wrong. More things went wrong than went right during the Revolutionary War and WWII. George Washington was losing miserably, one battle after another, up until the moment we won the war. Look at how many things went wrong during the Normandy Invasion; the waste of life from poor planning mistakes. So who did we fire back then? Did the media call for Roosevelt's resignation?

You can't magically "plan" for everything and anything. Post-war planning probably wasn't planned well enough. Well, now we know. But even without the Insurgency still going on, the process of democratization is not an easy one and won't happen over night. President Bush himself in that Mission Accomplish speech knew it and said it. How long did it take to reconstruct Japan and Germany? And we want timetables today? An itemized budget? It's ridiculous and dangerous. We should be worried about getting the job done right, rather than expediency because we are losing political ground back home. That's why any anit-victory movement such as the Cindy Sheehans and the Ted Kennedys threaten to derail success, and consequently, might even drag the insurgency out even longer.

Anything bad that happens is not always the fault of the leaders for not "planning" it just right. Some things are. We all make mistakes and we hold our leaders under a microscope of scrutiny where anything negative that occurs, suddenly gets magnified by the press. It's the point where we're almost scared of our own shadow, and are quick to jump to shouting out "quagmire!" and cut and running.

Why didn't anyone ask FDR why he didn't plan for the surprise German counter-attack that led us to the Battle of the Bulge?

It isn't all about oil, but the likelihood of a "gamble" like this taking place where no oil exist is virtually nil. There are plenty of people reaping big profits from this war. And nobody is making sacrifices for this "great cause" except the troops, their families and the Iraqi people. If I'm wrong about this, I apologize. Even still, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Iraq is a very strategic region, because of their oil fields. But I believe that Saddam's threat was real; if not then, certainly his cancerous presence on the planet would be free to metasticize. If that happened, it would be harder to remove him from power. Think, if we hadn't gone to war, what would have happened? Eventually, Saddam's allies in the UN, stealing from the UN Food for Oil sham, would have helped him in removing sanctions; then what did Charles Duelfer report? Wasn't it that once those sanctions had been lifted, that Saddam had labs and weapons factory in place to reconstitute his chemical/biological and nuclear programs, at the drop of a hat?

If we wanted Iraqi oil, it would have been cheaper to buy it from Saddam. It wasn't about stealing Iraqi oil, as some believe.


It's sad that our soldiers don't get paid as much as these celebrity blowhards; but that's why they are much to be admired and are true patriots of this nation.

The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

I think it might be 36 battalions; not 86. Of course, here it says 40:

http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110007274

The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

Another interesting piece:

http://www.strategypage.com/qnd/iraq/articles/20050930.aspx

Jaymeister said...

Wordsmith,

Thank you for your detailed response. You certainly left a lot to chew on, but I'll try to be brief.

I should mention first that my point regarding General Casey wasn't to criticize that there is only one battalion ready, but rather that the number mysteriously dropped from three to one without explanation, so there are still questions about the quality of information coming out.

I'll let you in on a little secret: I'm not in favour of a "cut-and-run" strategy. If troops are going to be pulled out, something or somebody has to take their place. I am in total agreement that once the war started, it can't be totally abandoned. That's why I mentioned earlier that there seemed to be a strategy of invade now, and make the questions later moot - and that it was an inherently dishonest way to go to war. Now that it has happened, I don't think Iraq will be without a foreign military presence for a long, long time. Maybe it's time to pass the torch to others. Yes, adjustments have to be made according to the conditions on the ground. But upon whose advice are Bush and Rumsfeld going to make those adjustments? They ignored plenty of reports before the war (from the Army War College among others)that predicted precisely what has come to pass. Even if you totally buy into Bush's vision and grand plan (which I am skeptical about), you have to admit that the execution has been lacking. For me, it's not about politics. I'm not a Democrat - I'm not even American (but I have plenty of family who are. My mom just became a citizen.) Like I said, if Bush were to contribute to a more peaceful world he would have my admiration. My question to you is at what point would you begin to consider him a failure as commander-in-chief?

It's sad that our soldiers don't get paid as much as these celebrity blowhards; but that's why they are much to be admired and are true patriots of this nation.

I will add that it's sad that the soldiers don't get paid as much as the civilian contractors whom they are protecting.

I do see the U.S. as a just nation.

I see the U.S. as a nation of just and good and generous people. It's the government and power elite that haven't always been just toward their fellow world citizens abroad. Sometimes they have indeed been very generous (Marshall Plan, reconstruction of Japan, etc.), and other times, not so much (Guatemala, Shah of Iran, etc.)This isn't a partisan thing - it happened under Carter as much as under Bush. I am hopeful that Bush's vision to change the way the world operates includes changing the way America operates.

The WordSmith from Nantucket said...


I should mention first that my point regarding General Casey wasn't to criticize that there is only one battalion ready, but rather that the number mysteriously dropped from three to one without explanation, so there are still questions about the quality of information coming out.


I agree. It's confusing. I hear contradictory information all the time.

I'll let you in on a little secret: I'm not in favour of a "cut-and-run" strategy.

Yes, I got that impression from you. If I go into a rant, it usually means I've drifted from the point and topic, and am airing my own grievances against your general liberal opinion. Not you specifically.

If troops are going to be pulled out, something or somebody has to take their place. I am in total agreement that once the war started, it can't be totally abandoned. That's why I mentioned earlier that there seemed to be a strategy of invade now, and make the questions later moot - and that it was an inherently dishonest way to go to war.

I entertain the possibility that you might be right. I, however, do believe in the character of this President. I just don't know how an Administration could purposefully lie, and expect to get away with it. I probably hear the good stories about President Bush more than you. And of course, I hear the bad things said about him as well. That's hard to escape. What's hard, is to sift through the partisan slander and caricaturizations of him, and determine what might be valid stories on his character. I love this President, but know he's not above human flaws.

Perhaps it'll be left up to historians decades from now to piece everything together, and paint an accurate picture of how it all went down.

Now that it has happened, I don't think Iraq will be without a foreign military presence for a long, long time. Maybe it's time to pass the torch to others. Yes, adjustments have to be made according to the conditions on the ground. But upon whose advice are Bush and Rumsfeld going to make those adjustments? They ignored plenty of reports before the war (from the Army War College among others)that predicted precisely what has come to pass. Even if you totally buy into Bush's vision and grand plan (which I am skeptical about), you have to admit that the execution has been lacking.

what's obvious in retrospect is anything other than what is obvious in real-time.

It's easy to be critical when after the fact, it becomes clear what could have been done better to avert the tragedies that occured. We saw it with Katrina and all the arm-chair first responders weighing in. Where were they all, before the disaster struck?

Anyway, yes there are things that the Administration can be criticized over, in execution of this war. But I'm not going to call for their heads on a platter; part of the reason for our casualties and losses is because the opposition is smart and resourceful enough to make this war a costly one. The terrorists deserve credit for how they've engaged us, as much as the Administration deserves blame for it. You can do all the planning in the world, and your enemy might still one-up you. Poor planning on our part? Or superior planning on theirs?

Like I said, if Bush were to contribute to a more peaceful world he would have my admiration.

It's way too early to tell what kind of a legacy President Bush will leave. He's a risk-taker and has gambled big. He could have made the right decision, and yet things can still turn out wrong. Life is full of variables, and the story's end will be written by the actions of the many.

Personally, I think President Bush will go down in history as one of our greatest Presidents. Especially, if all turns out well in the end and Iraq becomes a stable, flourishing democracy. It may be 50 years or 100 down the road, but I think the history books will remember George W. Bush as a great leader for the free world who made decisions not because they were the popular ones to make; but because they were the right ones.

My question to you is at what point would you begin to consider him a failure as commander-in-chief?

If he kowtows to his political opponents for political reasons. I'm sure that even though there is no 3rd term for him to serve, he feels enormous pressures to make decisions based on political reasons by his fellow Republicans who do have to survive future elections around the corner. And right now, the polls don't look too promising for the Republicans. I think it's because of weak leadership on their part, in the Senate. They are in the majority, and yet don't act like it. It's like they are letting themselves get bullied, trying to appease and pacify their angry Democrat rivals.

It's frustrating that neither Party appears to have a workable solution for the illegal immigration problem, or that the Republicans even seem to be trying hard at coming up with one. The Democrats might end up running to the right of Republicans on this issue, because I see it as a big-time political point. I think many Democrats and Republicans are in agreement that we need to gain control of the borders issue; and in a post-9/11 world it's a matter of life or death.

jay, I can't answer your question at this point, because so far, I think he's led us in the right direction. I'll confess, that I actually did have reservations about the timing for the war; but the regime change drawn up during the Clinton Administration and carried out by this one, I think needed to happen. And I do believe that Iraq is a part of the GWOT.

Republicans come off to some as warmongerers. That's a shame, as much as Democrats are sacked with the label of being weak on defense. Growing up, I'd say my natural bent is that of a pacifist; but my maturation process has led me to firmly believe in peace through strength and the morality of war. I don't take lightly, the loss of innocent lives on either side.

But if we hadn't engaged in this War on Terror with as much aggression as we have, then we'd just be repeating the same mistakes that we made throughout the 90's in how we approached the problem of terrorism. Osama thought of America as weak, and labeled us a paper tiger. He made this assessment from the weak response we made in going after terrorists. Even though we haven't captured him, he certainly doesn't seem to be living so well anymore; and reports seem to indicate that he is rather impotent in any ability to carry out terror plans against the U.S.



I will add that it's sad that the soldiers don't get paid as much as the civilian contractors whom they are protecting.

I hate the show, "Over There", but watch it anyway. Almost like the way I watch any show that has liberal overtones and undertones. They had an episode that also touched upon that same fact.

It's also upsetting to hear reports that troops are still improperly equipped and soldiers not being properly reimbursed for purchases of their own body armor.



I see the U.S. as a nation of just and good and generous people. It's the government and power elite that haven't always been just toward their fellow world citizens abroad. Sometimes they have indeed been very generous (Marshall Plan, reconstruction of Japan, etc.), and other times, not so much (Guatemala, Shah of Iran, etc.)This isn't a partisan thing - it happened under Carter as much as under Bush. I am hopeful that Bush's vision to change the way the world operates includes changing the way America operates.

I'm not one of the ones who is troubled by anti-Americanism. Those sentiments leading people to harm America; sure that bothers me. But after reading Jean Francois Revel's "Anti-Americanism", I just don't feel the deep navel-gazing, self-hatred, self-loathing, and guilt that many of my fellow Americans do. I'm as critical of my country as anyone, I think; but not in the same way that so many people are critical of America.

I do hope that the world does continue to move in a direction that takes us forward. Maybe one day we will live in a utopian society where we're all truly one people of many nations.

Finally, jay, I really appreciate the civil discourse you've given me. Yours is the kind of voice that makes me take pause, think and listen.

Jaymeister said...

Wordsmith, the pleasure is all mine. I enjoy that kind of give and take. If nothing else, it proves to us on each side that not everybody on the other side is a raging lunatic. The media (both MSM and new media) like to sensationalize the extreme. Most regular people with liberal or conservative beliefs aren't like the personalities that allegedly represent them on TV.

I hope we can have more civil exchanges, because that's the only way to turn the tide of the awful polarization going on. It's best to recognize who the trolls are on both sides and ignore them. Because I don't like to read wild generalizations about my belief system any more than you do. The media (including us blggers) love red meat. But I find that a strict diet of red meat turns one into a vegetable.

Talk to you later, my friend.