Wednesday, January 14, 2004

previous entry | main | next entry | TrackBack (8)

White House intimidation.... or Paul O'Neill's nature?

Josh Marshall suggests -- with tongue partially in cheek -- that Paul O'Neill's backtracking must be due to Karl Rove's bullying, echoing the John DiIulio experience of last year.

Paul O'Neill being intimidated by Karl Rove? That dog won't hunt.

Unlike John DiIulio, Paul O'Neill is too senior to desire another cabinet-level position, and has what is referred to in DC lexicon as "f**k-you money" -- i.e., O'Neill doesn't have to play nice in oreder to guarantee a future revenue stream. Plus, as the original Time story points out, O'Neill refused to go along with Cheney's direct suggestion that he say he resigned:

Cheney called. "Paul, the President has decided to make some changes in the economic team. And you're part of the change," he told O'Neill. The bloodless way he was cut loose by his old chum shocked O'Neill, Suskind writes, but what came after was even more shocking. Cheney asked him to announce that it was O'Neill's decision to leave Washington to return to private life. O'Neill refused, saying "I'm too old to begin telling lies now."

Paul O'Neill is old, rich, secure in himself, and previously refused a direct request from Dick Cheney. A year later, what could Karl Rove possibly do that would intimidate him? [Compromising pictures of O'Neill with Jillian Barberie?--ed. Hell, that would have helped him!]

Instead of intimidation, let's consider another possibility, one based on O'Neill's track record as Treasury Secretary. When I was working there, the following would happen like clockwork every two weeks:

a) O'Neill say something that he thought meant X, when in fact it could be interpreted as either X or Y -- and Y is either controversial or wrong;
b) The financial press would seize on the statement as suggestive of Y;
c) O'Neill would have to issue a clarifying statement that he really meant X and not Y

The same thing is going on here. O'Neill said on the Today Show:

People are trying to say that I said the president was planning war in Iraq early in the administration. Actually there was a continuation of work that had been going on in the Clinton administration with the notion that there needed to be a regime change in Iraq.

In this case, O'Neill's predeliction for foot-in-mouth disease is compounded by the fact that much of what O'Neill said comes indirectly through Ron Suskind's book.

Finally, it's worth noting that the many of the usual suspects aren't biting on this non-story. Spencer Ackerman, who's co-authored a lot of TNR's more damaging assessments of the Bush team's invade-at-all-costs mentality, is quite clear that the O'Neill charge is bogus:

Contrary to much of the hype surrounding it ( headlined its story on the book, "O'Neill: Bush planned Iraq invasion before 9/11") it doesn't really answer the question of whether Bush was planning war from day one or just regime change by other means.

At the first meeting of Bush's National Security Council--held January 30, 2001--Condoleezza Rice set the tone by announcing that "Iraq is destabilizing the region." Bush clearly favored some kind of action against Saddam Hussein, but the shape of the action appeared to be undetermined at this point. O'Neill's notes quote Bush ordering Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Joint Chiefs Chairman Hugh Shelton to "examine our military options," including "how it might look" to use U.S. troops in support of an insurrection. Yet, at the same meeting, he also ordered Secretary of State Colin Powell to plan a new sanctions regime--a course of action that administration hawks believed would inhibit, rather than engender, Saddam's downfall. It appears that Bush was indicating his preference for a more aggressive approach than the Clinton administration took against Saddam, but that he was still casting about for options as to what that might entail....

[I]t appears from O'Neill's notes that Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz was the only high-level official who was advocating "sending in U.S. troops to support and defend [an Iraqi opposition] insurgency." Clearly Bush's desire to have Rumsfeld and Shelton review military options for Iraq created a new policy menu, but O'Neill never indicates Bush's actual preference among these options--and certainly not so early in the administration....

[I]t is a valuable addition to the historical record to know that the president was determined to topple Saddam long before September 11. But that's not the same thing as a president who had already decided to go to war. Ironically, a book written to condemn the administration's lack of straight talk on the Iraq issue has produced even less straight talk itself.

[But what about Brad DeLong's claim that what Bush said yesterday contradicted your earlier post?--ed.] Hmmm.... Brad quotes Bush as follows:

The stated policy of my administration toward Saddam Hussein was very clear -- like the previous administration, we were for regime change.

A touch, a touch, I do confe-- oh, wait a minute, let's put that quote in context, shall we?:

"The stated policy of my administration toward Saddam Hussein was very clear -- like the previous administration, we were for regime change," Bush told a joint news conference in Monterrey, Mexico, with Mexican President Vicente Fox. "And in the initial stages of the administration, as you might remember, we were dealing with (enforcing a no-fly zone over Iraq) and so we were fashioning policy along those lines."

Bush said al-Qaida's surprise Sept. 11 attacks on the United States put him on a hair trigger to take pre-emptive action against Iraq rather than await evidence of a new threat to Americans.

"September the 11th made me realize that America was no longer protected by oceans and we had to take threats very seriously no matter where they may be materializing," Bush said.

Let's also go to this January 2003 statement from Bush:

Actually, prior to September 11, we were discussing smart sanctions. We were trying to fashion a sanction regime that would make it more likely to be able to contain somebody like Saddam Hussein. After September 11, the doctrine of containment just doesn’t hold any water.

I said two things in my previous O'Neill post -- that Bush had given Colin Powell the lead on Iraq prior to 9/11, and that he changed his mind after that date. Nothing Bush said contradicts that. [But Brad also links to this ABC report saying Bush wanted a review of military policy options!--ed.] A review of options -- particularly in the first months of an administration -- is nothing new. But there's a big difference between evaluating policy options and acting on them. The key question, as Ackerman notes, is whether the administration moved forward on these options. The evidence says no. Until 9/11, Powell had the lead on Iraq and Rumsfeld seemed close to leaving the administration (though not because of Iraq).

Sure, Bush wanted to get rid of Hussein, but so did Clinton and all of Congress. The question was, what was Bush prepared to do to change the regime? And there is no evidence to support the charge that prior to 9/11, Bush was planning to invade Iraq.

posted by Dan on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM


Just wanted to say i love your blog - (i'm a law clerk who just started one re: law and politics, from a left of center perspective). check it out - hope you like it.

posted by: Legalfiction on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

This seems basically persuasive, if a bit overstated. But isn't the question not when Bush himself decided to go to war but when certain members within his administration did? The evidence you provide here (mostly via Ackerman) of early meetings suggests that on Iraq as, apparently, on much else, Bush himself is a less pivotal player than some of those around him. It has always seemed to me that September 11 enabled a complex logroll between various players (or teams) on Iraq, with Bush not playing a particularly significant role. The relevant teams -- what a friend of mine calls the messianic realists (Wolfowitz the most prominent), the conservative ideologues (Cheney, probably Rumsfield), and the more old-fashioned moderate realists (led by Powell) -- all ended up having reasons to support a war in Iraq after September 11, and only some had reasons before. I'm not sure where Rice is on this. But it's just not clear to me that Bush himself had much of a role in driving the policy.

posted by: Jeff L. on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

Yes Jeff L., Bush had a role: President of the United States. He's our Commander in Chief and makes all such final decisions on the use of our military forces.

Sorry, but I'm a little tired of the argument that Bush is some kind of puppet. I think he's proved time and again what a strong and decisive leader he is.

Every executive decision of these past 3 years has Bush's unmistakable fingerprints all over them. This has been a unique administration that has surprised people from both the left and the right of the political spectrum. The common thread is Bush. Clearly, he is driving the policy and making the decisions.

posted by: Daniel on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

Josh Marshall and Brad DeLong are humiliating themselves. Their contempt for President George W. Bush is blinding them to reality. Why is this occurring? Both of these men wish to curry favor with the intellectual Left. I have never forgiven Marshall for his ridiculous reasoning why we should not use military force against Saddam: he didn’t want to upset our relationship with the Old Europeans and other anti-American types! I rarely visit Marshall’s website. He simply has little to say. Brad DeLong, though, can be quite insightful when he’s not trying to compete with Paul Krugman for goof ball of the week honors.

I agree completely with Dan Drezner. President Bush originally was inclined towards isolationism. There’s simply no evidence whatsoever that the Bush administration was planning a definite military invasion of Iraq before 9/11. Contingency planning is not the same thing as actually taking steps to insure Saddam’s removal.

posted by: David Thomson on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

It appears that Andrew Sullivan agrees at least partly with my assessment of Josh Marshall:

"WATCH JOSH SPIN: I can't do any better than the original, so just take a look at Josh Marshall's attempt to distinguish between good "unilateralism" under Clinton and bad "unilateralism" under Bush. Sometimes, Marshall's rabid partisanship gets the better of his intellectual honesty. It's just that he's usually better at disguising it."

How can Andrew Sullivan still be halfway sensible after having attended Harvard University? This must be one of the greatest existential mysteries of the universe. Normally, one can take it for granted that a Harvard liberal arts degree is a guarantee of mediocrity. Oh well, miracles do indeed occasionally occur.

posted by: David Thomson on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

Paul O'Neill being intimidated by Karl Rove? That dog won't hunt

Have to disagree here. Paul's backtracking happened *only after* that investigation was launched.

The Treasury Department said Monday it is looking into how a government document from the very early days of the Bush administration -- marked "secret" and outlining plans for a post-Saddam Iraq -- became part of a CBS "60 Minutes" broadcast Sunday night.

Even if it turns up nothing, I'm sure the government could harass him for years over the documents he took, whether they were secret or not. In 19000 pages you can find a technicality. And given the alacrity with which this investigation was launched relative to the Plame thing, it's almost certainly politically motivated.

Jonah Goldberg agrees

Tim - I saw it. Two-thirds into it I turned to my wife and said, "Man, who put a horse head in Paul O'Neill's bed last night?" Astounding back-tracking.

PS - I'm not a reflexive Bush hater, but I think it's clear that there was some intimidation going on.

posted by: godlesscapitalist on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

The Treasury Department’s investigation of Paul O’Neall will be a very boring affair. Criminal prosecution is highly unlikely. At most, there may be further restrictions on what somebody can remove after leaving the government. I find it humorous that anyone refers to the “Plame thing.” In both cases, the relevant laws were written to discourage prosecution unless the alleged violation was deliberate and malicious. A petty 55 1/8 miles per hour infraction in a 55 mile per hour zone isn’t going to hack it.

Why is Paul O’Neall changing his tune? I strongly believe that he is embarrassed by “co-author” Ron Suskind’s over the top attacks on President Bush. Treasury Secretary probably paid little attention to the book until it was released. Please note that he claims that this is Suskind’s project! Loyalty is considered a nonnegotiable virtue in the executive ranks. One does not want to be perceived as a back-stabber. O’Neall currently comes across as an embittered man wanting to exact revenge. This is not the image that he desires to project to the world.

posted by: David Thomson on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]


I thought the relevant conclusion from O'Neill's comments was that the Bushies had decided that getting rid of Hussein was a bigger priority than it was for Clinton which explains, in many people's minds, why the WMD charges were so exaggerated.

posted by: GT on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

The "Bush considered invasion before 9/11" story is just a total nothing to me as well...and I have come to hate Bush for all variety of reasons (if you really care why you can read through my blog...but I don't encourage it).

However, for David Thomson to say that Josh Marshall and Brad DeLong are trying to curry favor with the "intellectual left" is the most absurd dismissal of reasoning ever. By that rationale I could say that everything Drezner writes is just about trying to prove his conservative credentials.

And I am curious, is there a difference between a Harvard Liberal Arts degree and a Harvard Business Degree? What about between a Harvard Liberal Arts degree and a Yale Liberal Arts Degree? Should someone's ideas be dismissed (as absurd as this sounds) just because they were educated at one of the most competitive academic institutions in the world? And please go ahead and attack me for saying this just because I attended Williams College...really, I want that to happen...I am daring you to use your reasoning to state that everything I say is because I was brainwashed by some liberal, politically correct doctorine that you think is handed out like candy in the dining halls.

posted by: Rich on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]


David Thomson seems misplaced. His posts read like something out of the Freerepublic but for some reason he prefers to post in places like this.

posted by: GT on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

"...the doctrine of containment just doesn’t hold any water." -G. W. Bush

Is this a mixed metaphor or not? I don't seem to understand anything anymore.

posted by: brent on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

I've got to agree with Godless Capitalist. I'm on record on my blog saying that I don't have a problem with the Treasury Department investigating the documents that O'Neill gave to Suskind. In fact, I think it's a good idea; the guy did hand over 19,000 documents, after all.

But the investigation clearly gives the feds coersive power over O'Neill.

posted by: Ted Barlow on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

Well, there is a pronounced difference between the Clinton-Powell "close our eyes and wish Saddam Hussein would go away" type of "regime change" and the Cheney-Rumsfeld advocacy of "regime change." You seem to be arguing that without 911 Powell would have been able to be the leading voice in foreign policy. I think that's unlikely: Cheney and Rumsfeld are very good at what they do...

posted by: Brad DeLong on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

A question: would we have gone to war with and now be occupying Iraq if 911 had not happened? Cheney and Rumsfeld and Perle and company certainly wished to from long before inauguration day.

I find myself going back and forth on this question...

posted by: Brad DeLong on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

Hey, another Drezner - DeLong smackdown! Great... I'm popping the popcorn as I type this!

(Since this issue essentially has to do with politicial science, I'll be eagerly watching for Mark Kleiman to take your side, Dan, since you're the expert and Brad is just an amateur here!)

posted by: Al on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

Dan --

I completely agree, and I think many of the best bloggers are seeing too much of what they want to see in Suskind's book and O'Neill's statements.

posted by: Mike on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

Well, you just knew the Demomcrats were going to try to say that Bush was silencing a Whistle-Blower, rather than they'd overstated their case, and stretched O'Neill's intent, didn't you, really?

Think about it; what else are they going to say? They've been trying to say all along that Bush made up the whole Iraq conflict... and nothing else they could have said in this O'Neill situation would have aided their larger case. In fact, saying anything else...anything, exposes them to how badly overstated the left's case on this point really is.

To further the point of how intergal this attempted 'he made it up' story is to the Democrats, and how overstated it is, look at Kennedy's speech of yesterday... and then I'll suggest the reader do some research on the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998, which Kennedy Voted for.

If we are to trust the package they're trying to sell, Bush is able to enact regime change in Iraq two years before he was elected and four years before the actual war.

Thing is, O'Neill backfired on them, which I found amusing. He's not backtracking. He's simply telling the truth.. somehtingwhich apparently Suskind wouldn't let him do in the book, for reasons of his own.

And Teddy the K is simply an idiot and is defeated on the point by his own voting record, which I find somewhat discouraging, given that he still gets elected.

These revelations on how far the left and the press are willing to go, away from the truth, to regain heir hold on American politics should put to rest the question of who is telling the truth on Iraq and a number of other matters.... but it won't. The reason's simple enough, and clearly seen by their actions over the last several months...; The Democrats clearly don't have anything but their anger and their lies to offer as reasons for their being elected.

posted by: Bithead on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]


You seem to be confusing politics with political science.

posted by: GT on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

Brad -- you wrote:

You seem to be arguing that without 911 Powell would have been able to be the leading voice in foreign policy. I think that's unlikely

No, I'm arguing that without 9/11 Powell would still have had the lead on Iraq. Post-invasion, it looks huge -- pre-9/11, it was less important.

No official -- not even Robert Rubin in his prime -- has the lead on every single dimension/area of foreign policy.

One last point -- your description of Powell's policy as the "'close our eyes and wish Saddam Hussein would go away' type of 'regime change'" isn't fair to Powell (or Clinton, for all I know). The logic behind the move to "smart sanctions" was that the sanctions regime as it existed was killing any chance the U.S. had of mobilizing support among Arab states and Old Europe of taking more aggressive action on Iraq -- like holding war crimes tribunals of Saddam & cronies in absentia.

You can argue whether that would have worked (I said at the time I thought it a non-starter) but for Powell, there was a connection between smart sanctions and regime change.

posted by: Dan Drezner on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

Our limited response to terrorism prior to 9/11 was rational. The analogy is getting slapped around at your neighbor's house. The proper response is to leave.

But if the neighbor comes over to my house to slap me around, then that changes the context of how I evaluate the threat from my neighbor. Now, I cannot ignore it, or avoid it, or tolerate it.

9/11 changed the parameters of evaluating threats. The actual threat Iraq posed may not have changed. But our understanding of and evaluation of that threat changed.

Why is this so hard to understand?

posted by: Scott Harris on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]


I think a lot of people,l ike myself, agree with you but fail to see what Iraq and Saddam had to with it. OBL and Al Qaeda attacked us. SO it made sense to go into Afghanistan. Maybe you can include Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. But Iraq?

posted by: GT on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

That's exactly right, GT, but conservatives must get that. Why do they pretend not to?

Scott Harris - you say, that our "understanding and evaluation of that [iraqi] threat changed", which would justify the war, but how in the world did it change? There was almost no threat before 9/11 and still almost no threat (and I use 'almost' very generously) after 9/11. How could our understanding of 'no threat' change? Doesn't it seem completely feasible that Bush saw 'no threat' as 'sufficient threat to do what I wanted to do anyway?' Shouldn't that real possibility at least be investigated?

All of which is a little besides the point anyway, because Bush almost certainly lied to the American people about the imminence of whatever threat did exist - an impeachable offense. The lack of a smoking gun doesn't (shouldn't) magically allow Republicans to act as though the ton of circumstantial evidence doesn't exist.

posted by: sebastien on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

Great analysis. I think what all this hoopla is most indicative of is the left's lack of a real strategy to attack the President on Iraq. All their other options ("Where are the WMDs?", "Saddam and Osama hate each other!") have not had the public resonance I think they expected, so now there's a big move to stir up paranoia in everyone by somehow trying to implicate Bush in planning this whole thing even before he was President.....which is interesting because before we were hearing about a quagmire that we had obviously done little planning in preparation for.

In essence, all we are seeing is the exposure of a strategy by the left that abandons real criticism and lacks any real direction. You can legitimately disagree with the Iraq war in any number of ways. I think the problem is that most of the public sees there was some need for this to be done. So the left now has to work the paranoia card. But what does it really implicate Bush in? What conclusion should be drawn from "Bush planned it all along"? What conclusion does the left want people to draw? That Bush is forward thinking? Would you rather have a President who comes into power and says "OK, Iraq has been on the radar for ten years, we've been patrolling no-fly zones for most of that time, etc etc etc...are we going to do this forever or are we going to finally persue some real policy?" or " Eye-rack thing...ummm...what's the deal with that anyway?"

posted by: Brian on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

“You (Dan Drezner) seem to be arguing that without 911 Powell would have been able to be the leading voice in foreign policy.”

President Bush did not seem particularly interested in foreign policy when he took office. Colin Powell with his “we will talk until the cows come home and suck up to the Old Europeans” philosophy was perfectly suited for the pre-9/11 era. He is not a serious man and only useful as a good cop after the bad cop gets their attention.

“And I am curious, is there a difference between a Harvard Liberal Arts degree and a Harvard Business Degree? What about between a Harvard Liberal Arts degree and a Yale Liberal Arts Degree?”

Harvard University’s liberal arts graduates appear mostly mediocre and vastly overrated. They are of course extremely bright. I am sure that their native intelligence and SAT scores are among the highest in the world. Still, they are not taught to primarily think and follow a logical argument. The Harvard culture demands that one be a liberal. Thus, these folks usually put their wet finger into the air and see which ways the liberal zeitgeist is blowing. I am currently reading Richard Pipes’ excellent work,-VIXI-Memoirs of a Non-Belonger.- He has a two whole chapters devoted to his years teaching at Harvard. Pipes says the following on page 234:

“I have often been asked, both before and after the collapse of the Soviet Union, how someone with my views on communism and the USSR could survive at ‘liberal Harvard.’ My answer, only partly playful, was as follows: Imagine yourself living five hundred years ago, in the fifteenth century. The vast majority of people believe that the earth is flat. You, through your studies and observations, have concluded that it is round. Now no matter how idiosyncratic, indeed, how inane, your view may strike others, you know that sooner or later it will be vindicated. So you patiently wait for time to do its work.”

posted by: David Thomson on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

I listened to the Terry Gross interview with ONeill and Suskind yesterday afternoon--I think David Thompson's remarks are on target--I think O'Neill had a ghostwriter problem! As a former strategic planner in the Organization of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, I can assure you there are contingency plans for almost any region of the world--and it is completely normal for an incoming administration to review those plans when they take office--especially given Sec Rumsfeld's views on changing the nature of the force structure and how those changes would affect the plans. I do enjoy your blog, BTW--

posted by: RogerA on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

When Bush became president I thought that Bush was just going to continue the Iraq policies of his predecessors.

When he was campaigning he talked about the need for a more "humble" foreign policy and not using the US military for "nation building". That led me to believe that the US would be more isolationist while he was in office. Which, to be frank, was one of the reasons why I hoped he wouldnt win.

He might have looked at Iraq and what to do about Saddam, but I dont believe he made any real long term plans for regime change. Some of the cabinet might have wanted to use force in Iraq, but I think Bush was going more with Powell's "smart sanctions" up until 9-11.

posted by: sam on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

GT: I suppose the fact that Hussein funded people blowing themselves up in an allied nation, and trained international Islamist terrorists at a camp with an airliner fuselage indicates he couldn't be any sort of threat to the US in any sort of timeline that makes it reasonable to remove him? (Notwithstanding all the pre-Bush talk about his threat to the US, and the decision by Congress to make his removal US policy in 1998.)

I don't recall the "War on Terrorism" being cast by the Administration as the "War on Al Quaeda And Nobody Else Because Nobody Else Could Hurt Us And Only Al Quaeda Is Dangerous". Do you? I seem to recall a much broader conception of who was being fought, and I'm quite happy with that.

(And, oddly, we keep hearing - and not just from the Evil Bushies - that Iraq had plenty of links to Al Quaeda, too. If that, combined with acknowledged support for other terror, and attempts to assassinate a US president, don't suffice... one has to ask, why not?)

You suggest that Saudi Arabia would be a valid target... and how do you suggest the US invade Saudi Arabia (assuming that's a good idea) with a hostile Iraq next door? Put all our forces in Kuwait? Or "back-stab" them from our bases in their country? I submit that none of those is an especially effective policy move, wheras invading Iraq not only satisfies Congress' 1998 decision and culminates Pres. Clinton's policy, it also (as we've seen) intimidates every terrorist regime in the region and gives us a place to, if necessary, invade others.

I confess I don't see any problems here, either in policy, in morals/ethics, or in reconciling the administration's stated goals with its actions.

posted by: Sigivald on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]


But Iraq had a great deal to do w/ Al-Qaeda. NOT because there was necessarily a direct link between Saddam and ObL, but because the Hussein regime was providing the fodder for al-Qaeda recruitment.

Think about the justifications that Osama bin Laden gave for the 9-11 attacks. It's not a matter of whether Osama was telling the truth, but rather, that Osama listed three issues that, I suspect, resonate in the Arab/Muslim world. (Whatever else one might think of ObL, he clearly knows how to generate popular support in that part of the world.)

1. American presence in the Land of the Holy Places (i.e., Saudi Arabia, keeper of Mecca and Medina). Why were we there? Saddam Hussein. Whatever you might think about WMD, the reality is that we were worried that Saddam might, in the future, try to invade Saudi (and Kuwait) again. So, we kept a lot of forces in the area---infidel forces in the eyes of the truly devout (and forces that sapped at the legitimacy of the Saudi gov't who allowed/invited us there).

If there is anything that we have done that has alienated the Muslims of the world, it's the presence of American troops in Saudi. More than poverty, more than supporting Israel, the presence of infidel troops in the Keeper of the Holies arguably alienated more Muslims (incl., in all likelihood, the 9-11 hijackers) and destabilized Saudi than anything else. This was IN YOUR FACE.

Now, they're there for perfectly good reasons (and you can argue we should do something about the Saudi regime), but removing Saddam removes that thorn promptly. (And, no surprise, right after Saddam was toppled, we announced we were leaving.)

2. The Iraq sanctions. Put in place to prevent Saddam from getting access to WMD-related materials (and who knows, it might well have worked?!), the reality was that the sanctions regime was disintegrating. Pre-9-11, even the US (under Powell) was moving towards "smart sanctions." But those same sanctions would've still been manipulated by Saddam into appearing as though we were responsible for the deaths of thousands of Iraqi children and elderly. Never mind that he had the option of getting them removed. (See the stuff from "Voices in the Wilderness" to see how well he played off the liberals/Left pre-war.)

Again, an issue that alienated much of the Muslim world against us. And, as w/ Saudi, powerful recruiting tools.

And, again not surprisingly, as soon as the war was over, the sanctions ended. Well, not quite, since the FRENCH opposed lifting them, but they're gone. No more "thousands of kids dying from sanctions" trope. No more photogenic mass burials. (BTW, if you opposed keeping the sanctions on, surely removing Saddam crossed one's minds somewhere along the line?)

3. Saddam's funding of Palestinian terror groups. The third issue that alienates much of the Muslim world from us is our support for Israel. Something which I don't think we are (or should) end. But, as other web-sites can tell you, much of the Muslim world supports the Palestinians when they're suicide bombing.

And while Saddam couldn't necessarily foment the intifada on his own, his financial support for the families helped with recruiting. If you're a father, you MIGHT hesitate in doing a bombing if it'll leave your family destitute. Conversely, you might hesitate LESS, if you know your family is going to be taken care of. And $25K (where did that come from, given the sanctions?) is a LOT of American dollars, esp. on the West Bank---even more when converted into local currency.

And, oddly, w/ the end of the Hussein regime, the PA is now indicating that its resources for continuing the fighting are declining. I'd venture that that's a good thing, but YMMV.

So, removing Saddam pulls two thorns in the paw of the Muslim world, and reduces some of the incentives for a third.

THAT is how, IMHO, Iraq is directly related to 9-11 and the larger war on terror.

posted by: Dean on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

GT wrote: "I thought the relevant conclusion from O'Neill's comments was that the Bushies had decided that getting rid of Hussein was a bigger priority than it was for Clinton which explains, in many people's minds, why the WMD charges were so exaggerated."

Well, the WMD charges WEREN'T so exaggerated, and the sooner some of you stop floating this canard, the sooner you'll stopping looking really silly. Funny how, prior to Bush taking the Oath of Office, everyone -- including many of the "antiwar" Dems -- insisted that Saddam had WMD and was trying to get more. The Euro-weenies said the same thing. Strange how certain people now want to claim that Bush was "lying" for restating what had been common knowledge for years.

posted by: Ben on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

My personal (and unfounded, to be honest, but what the hell; everyone else is doing it) opinion on the O'Neill investigation is this:

It'll come to a crashing halt once it becomes crystal clear that Suskind never had a classified document, only a classified document cover sheet to wave around in for the purpose of promoting the book. Since he claimed to have classified documents, though, they're going to have to look through all of what O'Neill has. And that's going to take time.

posted by: Slartibartfast on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

Also, NOT investigating, post-Plame, etc., is probably a non-starter.

It's also worth noting that not every investigation, even of clear violations, necessarily leads to punishment.

Witness the case of John Deutsch....

posted by: Dean on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

O'Neill backtracked after an investigation HE HIMSELF said he would launch... sorry, that dog won't hunt either.

posted by: HH on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

"But Iraq?"

Let's skip the long story, which descends into long analysis that if you want to start the process of converting the entire Middle East from a region of threat to the USA into a region of stability, and jump to the short story.

Saddam gave big $$ to the Palestinian suicide bombers.

If this guy ever got out from under the sanctions, do you dispute that he would readily reconstitute his WMD programs and feed orgs like Al Quaeda with the goods to murder Americans?

Good. I knew you could make the leap.

posted by: paul a'barge on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

O'Neill cartoon here.

posted by: CERDIP on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

sebastian: I don't think an impeachment would get too far given that Bush specifically suggested in his State of the Union address that the threat was not yet imminent. Whatever else he said or did, I think that gets him off the hook. Or did you not pay attention to what he was saying?

"Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike? If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words, and all recriminations would come too late. Trusting in the sanity and restraint of Saddam Hussein is not a strategy, and it is not an option."

posted by: jj on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

"...because I was brainwashed by some liberal, politically correct doctorine that you think is handed out like candy in the dining halls."

Actually, Rich, I've heard they slip it into the soup.

posted by: Dick Eagleson on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]


I would add to what you said to Sebastian by noting that if Bush is to be impeached for "lying" about the threat posed by Iraq, then we will also have to impeach or otherwise deal with former President Clinton and the ENTIRE Democratic leadership in Congress for telling the same exact "lies" during Clinton's time in the White House.

posted by: Ben on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]


Didn't you mean to say the Kool-Aid?

posted by: Ben on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

Agreed--I think O'Neill had no idea his recount of his tenure to Suskind would be used as a hit job by Suskind that would in turn be turned into an even bigger hit job by much of the media, eager for a new story.

He wakes up to find he's become Michael Moore, and that's enough to scare anyone straight.

By the way, thanks Daniel Drezner. I don't know if I agree or disagree with you but Marshall and De Long, on Bush, start with the premise--he did something wrong, illegal, or sneaky--and then twist their logic to fit the premise. It's absurd.

posted by: Lee Kane on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

It's hard to believe that Paul O'Neill was intimidated by this Treasury Dept. investigation. It's a routine matter that he himself thought should be looked into.

I believe that the document that had SECRET stamped on it WAS a cover sheet that had the classified material attached to it but from a document control standpoint we really have to go a little deeper than taking David Suskind's word for it, don't you think.

posted by: Bill on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

There are many reasons to get rid of Saddam. I agree with many of them.

It's just that 9/11 was not one of them. Saddam posed no threat to us. The terrorists he was funding were attacking Israel, not us. Saudi Arabia was (and probably still is) funding the people that target us. Pakistan, not Iraq, is providing WMD to our potential enemies.

And Ben I have no idea what you talk about when you claim that the WMD was not exaggerated.

posted by: GT on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]


And the presence of American troops in Saudi Arabia had nothing to do w/ alienating Saudis (and other Muslims) from us?? And that had nothing to do w/ al-Qaeda?

Poverty is regularly touted as the "root cause" for terrorism. This, despite the fact that the terrorists are often (in the case of 9-11, all, iirc) from middle-class or even upper-class backgrounds. But infidel presence in the Holy Land, THAT is irrelevant?

Ah, you might say, but where does Saddam fit in? WHY THE HELL WERE WE IN SAUDI ARABIA?? You might notice that we didn't have troops there prior to 1990?

And the idea of simply deterring him by keeping MORE troops there (as was proposed post-UNSCR 1441) would EXACERBATE, not improve, that situation?

And if you don't think that funding Palestinian terrorists to conduct attacks that, in turn, draw down Israeli response doesn't get the region ticked at the US (which supports Israel), I'd refer you to press coverage and commentary from folks ranging from Saeb Erekat to Edward Said (when he was alive).

posted by: Dean on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

Dean asks:

"You might notice that we didn't have troops there prior to 1990?"

Well, you might notice that we were attacked, repeatedly, by Islamists prior to 1990.

So if X (US attacked by Islamists) happens whether Y (US in SA) happens or not that tells you that chances are Y is NOT causing X.

posted by: GT on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

9/11 didn't motivate us to remove Hussein. It caused us to reevaluate the reasons we already had. We had motive to remove him back in 1991. We just felt that we were safer not doing so. 9/11 removed the perception that these were things far removed from us. It gave things urgency they didn't have before.

posted by: rvman on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]


I would use the same argument with the Palestinian terrorists.

You'll notice that Palestinian attacks continue despite the fact that Saddam was taken out. Pretty clear he had no impact on the terrorism situation in Israel.

posted by: GT on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

The current US administration believed it, the previous US administration believed it, the combined intelligence agencies of every country on the Security Council believed it, the UN believed it as did almost every country on the face of the earth. Saddam Hussein had WMDs. If he didn't have them, if his obstruction and ouster of the UN weapon's inspection team was a big charade to project a show a strength to the world then he fucked up. We believed him.

posted by: Bill on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

Fine. Let's say I agree that the "I wanna start a war now" idea is wrong - that leaves an awful lot of shit stirred up in the book that we are now distracted from.

posted by: Andrew | BYTE BACK on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]


Since by "exaggerated" you imply "deliberately so with the intention of deceiving," then no, the threat was not exaggerated. It may well be that our intelligence was incorrect, but that is often the case with intelligence.

My point is that the leading Democrats, including President Clinton, and Senators Kennedy, Kerry Leahy, and Daschle have all described in recent years the threat that Saddam and his WMD posed to this country. It is only when Bush started talking about actually doing something about it that the Dems magically discovered that there was actually no threat at all. Amazing how that happens.

posted by: Ben on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

There are some very sophisticated arguments being made here for why invading Iraq and removing Sadaam was the right thing to do. And while I don't talk for all Democrats, I know that these make sense to me. Which is why a year ago I was not marching in the streets against the war, but rather getting in fights with people who were against America's choice to invade Iraq.

But I was putting my trust in President Bush that he was correct in his justification for invasion. It might make sense based on a lot of things, but the one that was chosen to "sell" the war to America and the world was the argument that Iraq possessed Weapons of Mass Destruction. I was curious that there was little very compelling evidence of this, but I trusted that keeping this information close to the vest was justified by a need to not disclose what we knew about his weapons before we were in a position to remove them.

However, the fact that no weapons turned up violated my trust. I feel like a fool for trusting the President to make sure that everything he said to justify an invasion of another nation was certifiably true.

Now, all this would not be as big an issue if things were going great in Iraq. If we had a great plan for post-invasion that would really turn around the Mid-east, make Israel safe, and reduce the threat of terror against the US, I would probably be more forgiving of an overstatement of what he (and many others) believed to be true. But that was not the case. Taking over Iraq has presented the US with a huge set of problems, it has stretched our military forces, it has cost many lives, and it has not endeared us to the rest of the world.

All this does not mean that I think he should be impeached, but it does mean that I will not be voting for him. Now, many people will say that Bush is popular and is going to be re-elected so he was right to invade Iraq. While popularity means that he deserves to be President, it does not make all his actions right. Many times in history popular actions have been shown to be misguided.

Finally, and I am not sure why I bother with this...but...David Thomson explained why people with Harvard Liberal Arts degrees are mediocre. But my question remains...are things different at HBS or Yale? And you know why I am using those two as examples.

posted by: Rich on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

godlesscapitalist wrote:

Even if it turns up nothing, I'm sure the government could harass him for years over the documents he took, whether they were secret or not. In 19000 pages you can find a technicality.

Technicality, my ass. We know there was at least one classified document because we all saw it on 60 Minutes. Classified data handling is a very serious business. If you have a clearance, you are responsible for the proper handling of any classified docs that fall into your baliwhack, regardless of how they got there. "The general counsel failed to stop me from breaking the law" is no excuse. Many people have been fired or worse from classified programs for procedural mis-handling of classified data. It isn't necessary for the government to prove any itent or actual harm, only that you had classified docs in your vicinity and you didn't handle them according to procedure. I know two people who lost their jobs and had to pay fines because they failed to follow procedures that they didn't know existed (because the security officer didn't train them properly).

When it comes to handling classified data, there is no such thing as a "technical" violation. This isn't lying about sex, people. It's a grown-up game and it's deadly serious. Why does being a Washington fat-cat and a liberal darling excuse one from the laws that the rest of us have to obey?

posted by: Cousin Dave on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]


You're wrong on the Palestinians. Yes, attacks continue, but Hamas leaders have been quoted in recent months saying that they are having difficulty raising the funds they once did. Hmmm . . . wonder why. And certainly, the families of suicide bombers are no longer getting huge payouts from Baghdad. That has got to have an impact.

No one was silly enough to believe that taking out Saddam would turn Palestine into Switzerland overnight. But removing him was an important part of the overall effort to choke out wide scale terrorism in that region. More must be done, but getting rid of Saddam was a start.

posted by: Ben on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]


Actually, no, GT, I didn't notice a whole lot of attacks against us prior to 1990. The two that come to mind, one is the series of attacks on us in Lebanon. Not sure if they were Islamist (not every Middle Eastern terrorist group is "Islamist"), and even if it was, it goes towards the point that maintaining a presence in-country tends to produce a nasty reaction.

Other than that? I suppose one might count the Iranian take-over of the US Embassy (but then, that was hardly a terrorist attack, when it was conducted w/ the approval of the local government).

So, I'm curious, prior to 1990, what attacks were mounted by "Islamists"? (And please define what you mean by "Islamist," since I'm assuming you don't simply mean "people who are Muslim".)

As for the Palestinians, it will be interesting to see the impact of the loss of money to the grassroots level will have.

But, you know, eliminating Saddam was not going to turn off the spigot, any more than injecting a drug IMMEDIATELY cures a tumor or even an infection.

posted by: Dean on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]


I'm curious as to what qualifies as compelling evidence for you. Have you read or even looked at Resolution 1441... passed unanimously in the UN Security Council 15-0. It stated unequivocably that Iraq was ALREADY in material breach and was being given one last chance to come clean.

And by the way, how hard is it to dig a whole in the desert, bury some 55 gallon drums, cover it up with sand and mark it with a GPS locator... or how about this ... you discreetly, and in small shipments move any WMDs into Syria in small trucks as part of the normal traffic flow.

posted by: Bill on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

GT, you are arguing against a straw man -- namely, that the line of thinking went like this:

Al-Qaeda attacked us! The bastards! Invade Iraq!

The link between Iraq and the 9/11 attacks wasn't claimed to be direct, and the invasion of Iraq was not some form of retribution for 9/11.

The key quote, the meaning of which you don't fully appreciate, is here:

"September the 11th made me realize that America was no longer protected by oceans and we had to take threats very seriously no matter where they may be materializing," Bush said.

Before 9/11, Iraq was viewed as a long-term threat, but not one to be dealt with immediately. 9/11 brought home the idea that faraway threats weren't really that far away, and the Administration no longer wished to play the waiting game with Hussein, especially if they believed that he had WMD or an advanced program for creating such. (Before you bring in the Bush Lied trope, please remember that no one really believed to the contrary, not even the UN. The disagreement was over what to do about it.)

The rest of the arguments -- what Hussein really had, whether he'd be willing to use it against the U.S. or Europe, what's his threat to a region with so much oil -- were really pointless hypotheticals. (Suffice it to say that Hussein had already started two wars with long odds, and openly supported terror against a nuclear nation next door, so counting on him to always do the rational thing was not the smartest option.) The Bush administration was not willing to put up with uncertainty over what threat to the region, the U.S., and the world Hussein might pose in the short- or medium-term; the very possibility had to be removed, as 9/11 made us far less tolerant martial Middle Eastern dictators in general, and Hussein in particular. The destruction of the WTC was not the immediate cause of the invasion of Iraq; rather, it led to a change in premises, under which the continued existence of Hussein's regime was no longer considered acceptable by the Bush administration and supporters of this war.

posted by: E. Nough on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

When assessing possible connections between al-Qaeda (AQ) and Iraq, it is also necessary to look beyond the Middle East. As a political scientist who has done some research for the government on terrorism in the Philippines, I have found various examples of coordination of policies between AQ and Iraq aimed at American interests. This is why the US government has declared the Philippines, and Southeast Asia in general, one of the major fronts in the war against terrorism. Since the 2002 Bali bombing aimed at Westerners (mostly Australian) vacationing in Indonesia, we have received pretty good cooperation from Asian nations, including China. Bali was Southeast Asia's 9/11.

I will give two examples of AQ-Iraqi coordination of policies, although I could give more. First, both have been funding terrorist groups in the region, and in the Philippines especially the murderous kidnap Islamist gang Abu Sayyaf. Abu Sayyaf has kidnapped and murdered Americans in the Philippines and is solidly aligned with both AQ and the old Iraq in both their declaratory and actual policies. While I was visiting the Philippines in February-March, 2003 they declared war against the US in anticipation of its war in Iraq. In March, they blew up a provincial airport in Davao and killed 19, including two American missionaries. Just prior to that incident, an Iraqi diplomat was expelled by the Filipino government for supporting Abu Sayyaf (they intercepted cell phone calls that proved it) and for funding anti-US demonstrations in Manila. Some of Abu Sayyaf's leading members were organized and funded at its founding by AQ cadres. An AQ-Iraqi connection? In my view, yes.

A second area is the setting up of an Islamist cell in Manila in the early 1990s by OBL's son-in-law under AQ auspices. (There are some unconfirmed reports that OBL himself visited Manila in the period.) This cell, which was eventually scattered by the Filipino authorities, had plans to blow up 12 US planes simultaneously, assassinate the pope, and to assassinate President Bill Clinton. In a Filipino capture of an AQ computer, there were plans mentioned of skyjacking planes and crashing them into the WTC and Pentagon.

In 1993, the leader of this cell, Ramzi Youssef, was the mastermind behind the first bombing of the WTC. Following the bombing, he escaped to Pakistan, where he was later arrested and is now in prison. His co-mastermind, a man named Yasin I believe, escaped to Iraq, where recently captured documents make clear he was given a house, placed on the governmental payroll, and protected by the Iraqi government. Now, because the Iraqis helped Yasin, a member of an AQ cell headed by Youssef, following the bombing does prove that they helped him prior to the bombing. But it is a curious thing for Iraq to do if there was not some deeper connection, especially since they allegedly hated AQ. An AQ-Iraqi connection? In my view, yes.

Anyone interested in reading an account that argues a clear connection between Iraq and the two bombings of the WTC can find a pretty good one in Laurie Mylroie, *The War Against America: Saddam Hussein and the World Trade Center Attacks: A Study of Revenge.* The thesis is in the title. This is a book that reportedly influenced both Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle. I find that she makes a pretty good circumstantial case on the first bombing, but is less convincing on 9/11. Worth a read though.

AQ and Iraq under Hussein may or may not have been allies. But surely they were fellow travelers that worked against everything this country stands for. Attacking them both, in my view, is part and parcel of the same war against terrorism.

posted by: DMacdonald on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]


In my posting of a few moments ago there is a mistake due to leaving out a very important word: "not."

The following paragraph should read as follows:

"In 1993, the leader of this cell, Ramzi Youssef, was the mastermind behind the first bombing of the WTC. Following the bombing, he escaped to Pakistan, where he was later arrested and is now in prison. His co-mastermind, a man named Yasin I believe, escaped to Iraq, where recently captured documents make clear he was given a house, placed on the governmental payroll, and protected by the Iraqi government. Now, because the Iraqis helped Yasin, a member of an AQ cell headed by Youssef, following the bombing does *NOT* prove that they helped him prior to the bombing. But it is a curious thing for Iraq to do if there was not some deeper connection, especially since they allegedly hated AQ. An AQ-Iraqi connection? In my view, yes."

Sorry for any confusion.

posted by: DMacdonald on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

I just had to respond to GT’s comment that: "You'll notice that Palestinian attacks continue despite the fact that Saddam was taken out. Pretty clear he had no impact on the terrorism situation in Israel." That is truly an atrocious bit of reasoning...perhaps your blinding partisanship prevents you from seeing that in the particular given context, so I will provide context for you:

1) The US Govt. believed Al Capone was the leader of an organized crime racket operating all across the US.

2) The US Govt. had Al Capone prosecuted and imprisoned in Alcatraz where he could not longer coordinate operations with outside mafia members.

3) Organized crime continued across the US despite Capone's incarceration.


4) Al Capone had no impact on organized crime in the US.

If you don't see the logical fallacy in you're argument now, then you need to enroll at the nearest community college and get you some book learnin'!

posted by: Jason on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

So do I take a class in the proper uses of your and you're.

posted by: Jason on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

Allow me to explain why I think the "document" in question was only a cover sheet:

1) O'Neill has not yet been arrested.
2) O'Neill had to account for every classified document he had checked out when he left.

Let's be clear on this. You can lose your job and even be subject to criminal penalties if you merely make it possible for a classified document to find its way out of government control. To actually remove a document from government control, and then hand it over to your ghostwriter is going to land you in deep guacamole. If you accidentally walk out with it, you're going to be in some trouble. If you accidentally walk out with it, then instead of fessing up, you give someone a peek at it, you're going to land in the clink.

posted by: Slartibartfast on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]


Yes, for the peasantry.

Senior political advisors and Cabinet officials? Only if there were a TRUE vendetta. (Or, if we got REALLY serious about security---if only, if only.)

The fact that John Deutsch is still out and about, when he was one of the senior officials at the CIA and showed remarkably low concern about security, suggests that while all clearance-holders are culpable, some are more culpable than others.

posted by: Dean on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

Paul O'Neill is old, rich, secure in himself, and previously refused a direct request from Dick Cheney. A year later, what could Karl Rove possibly do that would intimidate him?

A campaign of legal harrassment, starting with an investigation into purportedly leaked documents? Or perhaps the promise to f*ck with someone close to him, ala the way they threatened Nick Smith's son.

C'mon, Dan. Don't be so naieve. They threw a horse head into his bed, and he jumped. Not as high as DiIluio or Smith, but the pattern's clear.

posted by: uh_clem on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]


This might surprise you, but in September 2002, I emailed the White House opposing the War in Iraq. After studying the issue, in December 2002, I emailed the White House to indicate my reluctant support.

What happened in those 3 months was I began to look at the threat from a strategic viewpoint. Al Queda is just a symptom of the problem. Hussein was one of (not the only) causes of the problem.

You'll need about an hour, but go read this article on the Saudi culture.

The Arabs in the Middle East have a failed culture. It is the breeding ground for terror. This has to be honestly acknowledged and directly addressed.

Like I implied in my first post: You can ignore, tolerate, and avoid your neighbors problems as long as they stay in his house. Once they export their problems to your house, this is no longer a wise option. If the Arabs will not voluntarily address the failures of their culture, then we must.

But neither Reagan, Bush senior, Clinton, or Dubya can be reasonably blamed for taking a more passive view of terrorism prior to 9/11. But to continue in that passive view after 9/11 would have been a deriliction of duty.

posted by: Scott Harris on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

I get a kick out of this discussion. The Paul O’Neill story is already yesterday’s news. He is so five minutes ago. Nobody else gives a damn. The liberals are already pushing it into the background---and searching for the next slander against the Bush administration. Who is Paul O’Neill? To many Americans, especially those living in New York City, he used to play for the Yankees.

posted by: David Thomson on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]


If you have the time, also read this article about the proper rationale for war. (I just found this article recently, but it accurately explains my reasoning for changing my mind about War in Iraq between September and December of 2002.)

Then go read this recent article by John Derbyshire about the exhaustive and tedious nature of the War in which we are currently engaged.

For liberals who don't understand why conservatives support the War in Iraq, I think these articles will give you an insight into our thinking, even if you disagree. The point is we HAVE seriously considered the issue, and we HAVE made what we believe are the proper moral and practical decisions.

Revenge, oil, personal maliciousness, imperialism, partisanship, etc. are NOT our reasons for supporting Bush. Our support is well thought out, and not based on mindlessly following our "exalted leader."

Begin to debate on the substantive issues, and we will take you seriously. But trying to invalidate our reasoning with ad hominem attacks is not going to win you any arguments. It will only will you the accolades of those who already agree with you.

posted by: Scott Harris on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]


I (generally) agree with the war. I have some reservations about Bush's commitement to finish the job but otherwise I think it can turn out to be a good idea.

I just don't see the 9/11 connection. To be more precise, I do see it but I think it is much, much stronger in other nations.


If you didn't notice many attacks maybe you should look more carefully? You have the Beirut bombing s(remember, there were 2), the 1985 Abu Nidal ship hijacking, 1986 West Berlin disco bombing, and Pan Am 10. I'm probably mising some. If my numbers are right more Americans died in pre 1990 terrorist aqtackes than did after 1990 (excluding 9/11).


I have seen no one argue that getting rid of Saddam has made an iota of difference in the terrorism problem in Israel. If you have any other information or link I'd be happy to read it.

posted by: GT on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

This really is a remarkable discussion. The former head of the government's largest department concerned with the economy sources a book in which he discusses the recklessness of the Bush administration's fiscal policy, and everyone wants to debate his comments on Iraq, a subject never within his field of responsibility at all.

I don't blame the media, or bloggers, or posters for this. I blame Paul O'Neill. Why he felt it necessary to say anything at all about Iraq in the book or on 60 Minutes is just beyond me. He is just as clueless about why his remarks stirred so much controversy as one would expect.

posted by: Zathras on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

Dan Drezner began this thread yesterday at at 04:21 PM. This story was of high interest at that time. However, less than 24 hours later---it is old news and considered boring by the producers of the mania media outlets. Do you think otherwise? If so, then you merely need to turn on your TV set and visit Fox News, CNN, CNBC, and the three majors. Paul O’Neill is barely even on their radar screen.

posted by: David Thomson on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

"Mania media outlets" should read "diverse media outlets."

posted by: David Thomson on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]



If you didn't notice many attacks maybe you should look more carefully? You have the Beirut bombing s(remember, there were 2), the 1985 Abu Nidal ship hijacking, 1986 West Berlin disco bombing, and Pan Am 10. I'm probably mising some. If my numbers are right more Americans died in pre 1990 terrorist aqtackes than did after 1990 (excluding 9/11).

So, let me get this straight, any attack by an Arab is to be counted as Islamist? Do you really want to suggest that Mu'ammar Qaddafi is an Islamist?!???

If that's the case, then, s***, so was Saddam Hussein, and nailing him just made more sense (you forgot to list the casualties from the attack on the Stark, if that's your definition).

If not, there goes Pan Am 103 and the Berlin bombing as evidence of ISLAMIST attacks.

Abu Nidal? Hey, didn't he get killed somewhere? Why, wasn't that in Iraq?? Where he'd been hiding out for years? I thought that Saddam had little to do w/ terrorism?

More to the point, he was not exactly motivated by Islam. AFAIK, he was a pro-Palestinian terrorist. Again, if you're going to use the Arab=Islamist terrorist argument, then be consistent and throw in every airline hijacking that had casualties.

But, in that case, we should be blasting the crap outta the Palestinians. Why do I doubt you'd support that?

Which leaves the Beirut bombings. Yes, there were two, one at the Embassy (first), then at the USMC compound. The latter suggesting, again, that being present doesn't engender friendship. (I noted that in the previous comments, btw.)

Seems to me that there were far more casualties, even with YOUR expanded count post-1990 (the two embassy bombings in Tanzania and Kenya were >200 people, then there was Khobar Towers) than prior.

posted by: Dean on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

One more thought on Arab Culture. It is not necessary to be overtly hostile or bigotted against Arab Culture to conclude that Arab Culture is our enemy.

It is not we who have identified Arab culture as our enemy. It is they who have identified us as their enemy - ignoring the fact that we buy their goods, offer them charitable support, and have even gone to War to defend them in their internecine conflicts.

To ignore a threat is not sophisticated or noble. We are not threatening the Arab world. We are responding to their threats. That is an important distinction.

And to those who suggest we are responsible because we have dealt with them in the past, would you also argue that you are responsible for a man beating his wife because you bought something from his store?

We have enriched the Arabs. Those who run their countries have hoarded and squandered those riches. That is not our fault. Our money may have exposed the problem, maybe even exascerbated the problem, but it did not cause the problem.

If we were truly imperialists, we would have just taken the oil in the first place, and not enriched any of them at all. We certainly had the power to do so. That we did not is evidence of our good intentions, not our evil.

posted by: Scott Harris on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

I'll agree with you there, Dean. That Deutsch never, ever served time (he actually continued to hold his clearance for three years after it was known to what extent he - extremely stupidly - exposed classified materials) is a crime. That Tenet allowed him to continue working at CIA is something that perhaps ought to have gotten Tenet sacked, too.

The story the CIA provided DoJ is rather...involved, and the parties in question feckless, assuming there's no deliberate coverup. Frightening to think that these people are supposed to be safeguarding information that, if exposed, could get people killed. And here's an update.

In my experience, in order to get off the hook, there needs to be a convincing case for no compromise. In Deutch's case, it only needed to be no evidence of compromise, which is hardly the same thing. IOW, if you, for instance, neglected to secure a closed area, but the motion detectors were set and their proper operation revalidated, you'd get off with a handslap. If you'd just left the door unlocked and hadn't done anything else, rather more severe penalties would apply.

posted by: Slartibartfast on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]


Yes, I do count Lybia's attack as part of that. It was part of Islamist terrorism at the time, aterrorism that has gone throuigh different phases.

IIRC the African embassy bombings killed a lot of people but only a small number were americans (the point we are arguing here).

Islamic Jihad, on the other hand, just with the Lebanon attacks, killed over 300 americans.

As for the Palestinians we should have attacked them way back when. Not much use now. They don't apear to pose a threat to us anymore.

My point to you remains. Your claim that we have been attacked because we have soldiers in SA (and that due to Hussein) is not supported by the facts. To be more precise, the evidence is clear that we have been attacked even without soldiers in SA. So that does not seem to be a determining factor.

I suspect over time, once we get our men out of SA, we will still be attacked.

posted by: GT on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

Above GT engages in something that I think typifies the response of partisans to the Bush administration policy. In discussing the relationship to 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq, he states that he doesn't see the connection even after it is explained to him. If he merely stated that he didn't agree with the conclusion, that would be a rational response. But claiming not to "see" the connection allows one to then go from mere disagreement to concluding that the failure to "see" alone is evidence of fundamental dishonesty.

posted by: Robin Roberts on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

>C'mon, Dan. Don't be so naieve. They threw a
>horse head into his bed, and he jumped. Not as
>high as DiIluio or Smith, but the pattern's

I find your variable standards of proof used, to be interesting.

posted by: Bithead on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]


The only 9/11 connection required is that 9/11 caused a reevaluation of existing threats. Iraq had been a festering sore for 12 years.

Bush and his entire administration has consistently downplayed any direct link. It is his opponents who 1) first demand a direct link, and then 2) accuse him of deceiving us into war because there is no link. This exposes the thinking of Bush's opponents. But it is not an accurate presentation of Bush's arguments for going to war in Iraq.

And the WMD argument was just the legal excuse for war in the United Nations. It was played up to get some international support. But it was never the rationale for the war. I certainly never used it as my rationale, and I have supported the war for over a year.

The only reason 9/11 is even mentioned during Iraq war discussions is to provide the justification for the change in the way we consider threats. Even if a direct link is eventually found, so what? That will still not mean that we have concluded the war on terror.

It is not enough in this case to just punish the perpetrators of the crime of 9/11. Terrorism has been growing for 30 years. And it is now being belatedly but directly addressed. Those who want to stop at Al Queda, or stop in Iraq are taking a law enforcement approach to a specific crime. But that, I believe, is the wrong approach.

Bush's speech in London is a clear view into his thinking. I think that speech should be taken at face value. Disagree if you will, but Bush is being very plain spoken about his philosophy and his intentions. "Bush Lied" or "Bush is an Incompetent Puppet" are non-starters. "Bush is wrong" and here is why might be reasonable, but I think he is right.

posted by: Scott Harris on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]


Please define "Islamist". That you would consider Libyan attacks "Islamist" in nature, when Libya, far more than Saddam Hussein's Iraq, typifies a non-Islamic state suggests that you are using a definition that is not congruent w/ what the rest of us are using.

I mean, the "Little Green Book" is more Marxist than anything else, there is no shar'ia in Libya, Qaddafi himself faces an Islamic opposition. By what definition, other than that his population is majority Muslim, do you consider his activities "Islamist"?

The same applies to Palestinian actions prior to 1990, including the ones you cite. Were the Palestinian attacks against Israelis in Munich "Islamist"?? What is your basis for labeling Abu Nidal's take-over of the Achille Lauro "Islamist"?

By that analysis, one would have to presume that the creation of a Palestinian state, motivated by Islamist tendencies, would presumably receive little support from you?

Finally, yes, there will still be attacks on the US after we leave Saudi. There will still be attacks on the US, so long as we exist. But whether the recruitment will be as easy, the broader populace as irritated is the question.

Just as the collapse of the USSR didn't eliminate EVERY Communist state (North Korea, Vietnam, Cuba, take note), so too leaving Saudi won't solve EVERY problem. But just as ending the USSR has reduced the virulence of Communism in most places (universities aside), so too removing that irritant will reduce SOME of the anti-US sentiment and Islamist fervor out there. See Jason's comparison w/ Al Capone.

posted by: Dean on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

"But it was never the rationale for the war."

I think millions of people would disagree with you. Myself included.

In fact WMD was THE reason given for the war. I know there were other reasons and many supported the war independent of WMD. But the administration's public case for war was based on WMD.

posted by: GT on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

"Jonah Goldberg agrees"

Yeah, I'm sure Goldberg, who tells three jokes for every serious point, ACTUALLY MEANT Bush intimidated him by quoting his wife. Yessir.

posted by: HH on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]


We had been playing the WMD game in Iraq for 12 years. The demand to disarm was part of the 1991 cease frie agreement. So WMD could not have been the rationale for war in Iraq. Nothing there had changed.

What had changed was the evaluation of the threat of terrorism. That threat includes WAY more than Al Queda and Iraq, and it is being addressed in multiple ways. Among those ways are diplomatic pressure in Arabia, Syria, Egypt, Iran, and North Korea; financial pressure throughout the world including severe pressure in Switzerland and their banks; and armed conflict in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, Indonesia, and the Phillipines.

Open your eyes man. This is a Global War, not some piddly regional conflict.

posted by: Scott Harris on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

"that leaves an awful lot of shit stirred up in the book that we are now distracted from."

Much of which has also been credibly disputed at the very least (such as the notes from Conda showing tax cuts weren't even on the agenda in a meeting where Bush supposedly said we shouldn't give cuts to the rich)...

posted by: HH on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

O'Neill may be "off the radar screens," but as far as Dan Rather and Peter Jennings' viewers know, Paul O'Neill never backtracked at all. This is "dereliction of duty" by the mainstream press IMO.

posted by: HH on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

Back to the O'Neill discussion:

I really couldn't care less what O'Neill says now. He provides Suskind with thousands of documents; presumably gives Suskind hours of interview time, saying things like the Bush people are "nasty" and have "long memories," not to mention the "blind-deaf" remark; goes and book tours with Suskind; goes on 60 minutes; reveals that both he and Greenspan thought the tax cuts were a bad idea; and I'm supposed to believe now, after these "retractions" that he was hasty or taken out of context?


posted by: Amitava Mazumdar on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]


I found Jason's comparison silly which is why I didn't respond to it. The fact is that going after Mafia honchos has had an effect (showing that there is a link) while going after Saddam appears to have had no effect on terrorism.

Let's try to backtrack.

You claimed that one reason we had to go after Saddam was that Saddam in power required us to stay in SA and that was what was motivating the attacks against us, or at least one of the reasons.

I submit that this is wrong. ME terrorists have been attacking the US for several decades and there were more attacks and killings prior to us being in SA than after (excepting 9/11 of course). What I draw from this is that Islamic terrorists will attack us no matter what.

By Islamic terrorists I mean Muslims who commit acts of terror against us motivated to a great extent, if not exclusively, by hatred to the US due to religious differences. Kaddafi may not be OLB but his people certainly are motivated by their faith and the attack on Pan Am 103 was part of a pattern of ME terrorists.

posted by: GT on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]


Here's an unrelated example that might help you understand how I can say WMD were not the rationale for invading Iraq.

Al Capone was prosecuted and jailed for tax evasion. But tax evasion was not the rationale for investigating Capone. Organized crime, murder etc. was the rationale for going after him. Tax evasion was just the legal hook we snagged him on. Anyone who would suggest that the only reason the G-men had for going after Capone would have been laughed out of the room.

Similarly, WMD was our legal reason in the court of the United Nations for war in Iraq, but not our rationale.

posted by: Scott Harris on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

As the wife of a former military officer, I can tell you the military spends a great deal of time making "plans" to attack other countries. No doubt there are plans sitting on a dusty shelf somewhere to nuke Paris and Pittsburgh, no matter how unlikely the threat. I think most of us would agree, the military - and by extension the president - would be remiss otherwise. The problem is one of semantics,plans as opposed to planning to attack Iraq. Bush's opponents know better, but it makes for a great show of outrage on their part.

posted by: EZ Writer on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]


I would suggest that you have made Islam a sidelight to your argument. If Qaddafi's terrorists are Islamist terrorists, and Palestinian terrorists are Islamist terrorists, then al-Qaeda is no different from the Palestinians or the Libyans.

Now, if you believe that to be the case, then taking on ANY Middle Eastern terrorist supporter becomes fair game---and that would include Saddam Hussein who was supporting Palestinian terrorists who, by your definition, are Islamist terrorists.

If you disagree w/ that (and I suspect you do), then what differentiates al-Qaeda from any other terrorist group who happens to come from the Middle East??

posted by: Dean on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

In response to Bill, who wrote (I am paraphrasing): the war in Iraq was not illegal, was justified by UN resolution 1441, and that the WMD's could easily be hidden in the desert or shipped out to Syria.

I never said invading Iraq was illegal, and I think that Bush was legally justified based on UN resolutions. But I think the strength of the UN is not what is passed officially, but what the concensus of nations is. And the consensus was against us invading. You can say that doesn't matter, and I respect that, in a situation where we were under threat I would also say f**k the UN.

Thus my support for invading was based on a real threat to the US. I would agree that Sadaam could have been a threat, but it sure doesn't seem that way based on what we learned since the invasion. Now, assuming your scenario of what happenend to the WMD is true then I would still say invading was not the answer. If we forced the WMD to be buried and essentially lost (which I have to assume they are since we have most of the Iraqi leadership in custody and still have not found any WMD) then I don't think they were much of a threat. And if they ended up in Syria, then I would say that invading actually made these weapons more dangerous, since they are that much closer to Israel and not under the control of an identified leader.

Bottom line for me is that I am not a fan of invading countries unless neccesary (Afganistan meets my definition of neccesary), and in retrospect (hindsight being 20/20) invading Iraq was not neccesary. I don't think Bush should be impeached or put on trial, but I do think that he (and his adminstration) made a HUGE error in judgement. We should hold him accountable for that error by electing a new leader, and hold that new President to the same standard of trust and judgement I am holding Bush to.

posted by: Rich on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

BTW, it would appear that the number of terrorist incidents in Israel is down:

Is this due to the war in Iraq? Almost certainly not (and the article actually argues it's more about the wall that's going up), but you suggested GT that there's been NO evidence of declining terrorism there, and that's simply incorrect.

posted by: Dean on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]


That GT refuses to admit he has been 'spanked hard' by you and others, is all well and good for his ego - But mother wonders why he prefers not to sit with the rest of us just yet...

But, by all means, continue.

posted by: TommyG on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

As to the rest of the neverland players...

Rich: "Invading is not the answer"?
Ok. But IT DID HAPPEN. YOu get that much, right?You know, Post-tense?

So what in the world are you going on about?

posted by: Tommy G on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]


To expand, if WMD were the rationale for invading Iraq, then we should invade Pakistan, and India as well.

The rationale was WMD COMBINED WITH

1) Saddam's motive for revenge for his 1991 defeat
2) His demonstrated willingness to use them on his own people
3) His financial support of terrorists in Palestine
4) His failure to abide by signed agreements
5) His previous attempts to assasinate Pappa Bush
6) His approval of the 9/11 attack
7) The probability that the 9/11 attack would at least inspire him to similar acts
8) The probability that he might provide arms and financial support to surrogate terrorists groups who would attack us.
9) The certainty that such support would result in further attacks on US soil
10) The fact that his cease fire violations gave us a legal excuse to invade
11) The tactical need for a Middle East base of operations from which to prosecute the war on terror
12) The hope that armed conflict in Iraq would draw terrorist fighter to Iraq, and away from direct attacks on US soil.
13) Focusing on WMD might get additional international support, thereby lowering our direct costs in prosecuting the war. (Which in fact occurred.)

Need I go on. The rationale for invading Iraq was strategic. And I believe it was correct - whatever legal reasons were used. Maybe this "ends justify the means" rationale is too blunt or cynical for you, but it worked for me.

posted by: Scott Harris on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

Well said, Scott.

Not to mention the fact that we gave some small sense of credibility to the ridiculous UN Organization. Hell, it was their resolutions that we, at least, had the moral courage to enforce. Greater involvement? Hell, they ougth to be cutting *US* a check.

posted by: TommyG on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

Robin Roberts,

Good point! That perfectly describes liberals when it comes to the Iraq war. It's the intellectual equivalent of sticking your fingers in your eyes and humming trying not to hear what's being said.

posted by: Bill on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

The question on whether or not 9/11 is sufficient reason to invade Iraq has two answers, both of which can be argued pretty well.

The trouble is, supporters of those that don't see the connection or justification for the war, don't seem to believe that people can genuinely believe otherwise, and must therefore be lying about it (ie, for oil, for Haliburton, for the Zionists, for crashed UFOs, etc).

But in truth, we really think that getting rid of Saddam was necessary for the war on terror. Really. Maybe we're wrong - history will have to judge it, but we're not lying about it.

posted by: Jeremy on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

Tommy G writes:

As to the rest of the neverland players...

Rich: "Invading is not the answer"?
Ok. But IT DID HAPPEN. YOu get that much, right?You know, Post-tense?

So what in the world are you going on about?

I get slightly annoyed when people respond to me without reading what I actually wrote. First, I have three posts in this thread, and none have that quote. The closest I found was this, "Now, assuming your scenario of what happenend to the WMD is true then I would still say invading was not the answer." which does seem to convey the fact that this did happen (I am no English major, but I think "was" still is the past tense). In fact everything I have written is about what DID happen, I did go back and check.

I won't go into detail what I think should happen next, but you can sleep easy knowing my views take into account that Iraq is now our problem, and we have the responsiblity to fix it...regardless of how stupid it was to invade in the first place. (try to follow the tenses in that paragraph)

Sometimes I wonder why I even bother writing any of this because clearly people just see what they want to. The assumption is if I am opposed to Bush everything I think must fit into your vision of what someone "anti-war" thinks. I thank the people who post here who actually do respond to others views, rather than assume and attack, there are enough of you to make this interesting most of the time.

posted by: Rich on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

That's ears, not eyes, obviously.

posted by: Bill on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

"He provides Suskind with thousands of documents"... some of which, at least, are now known to be distorted beyond recognition by Suskind (and CBS). So, yeah, it is totally believable that he was taken out of context and regrets some things he said.

It's even more appalling that CBS never mentioned his backpedal...

posted by: HH on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

>So, let me get this straight, any attack by an Arab is to be counted as Islamist? Do you really want to suggest that Mu'ammar Qaddafi is an Islamist?!???

Le'ts not forget Sirhan Sirhan. You remember: the guy whose release the PLO demanded (eventually killing their American diplomat hostages).

Robert Kennedy: the first American victim of islamofascism?

posted by: Mick McMick on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]


Man, your Monday morning quarterback approach to your foreign policy judgments seems a little unfair to me. You can't judge President Bush on what we know now but on what we knew then. In the runup to the war the debate wasn't about whether or not he was a threat but what to do about it. The verdict isn't in on anything yet ... WMDs, connections to Al Queda or connections to 9-11 so any judgment about who is right or wrong on these issues smacks of ideological wishful thinking.

posted by: Bill on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

>I would agree that Saddam could have been a threat, but it sure doesn't seem that way based on what we learned since the invasion.

That was Hussein's responsibility to prove, but thanks to our "allies," he didn't feel he had to come clean. And just assuming the best, which you would have us do, would be suicide.

You'll remember just after 9/11, many expected a nuclear device to come sailing into NY harbor on a cargo ship. And we all knew where AQ would go shopping for the high-end stuff. Hint: not Afghanistan. For the President to risk even one WMD attack, for the sake of respecting the sovereignty of Saddam, would be total dereliction of duty.

But it's just as well Saddam thumbed his nose one last time, because he had to go any way, just based on humanitarian grounds. To allow the suffering in Iraq to continue would be indefensible.

And that goes for other genocidal tyrants as well. Korean Kim has to go. Even if he didn't have nukes and long-range missiles (which he does), it falls to us to work towards his downfall. Nobody else is going to do it.

Iraq's liberation was a just war, and the cleanest-fought war in history. The net gain in lives saved by the war grows every day that Iraqis aren't being thrown into plastic-shredders feet first.

To play Monday-morning quarterback every step of the way is what has destroyed the Democrats' chances of any gains in November '04. It's a thin veil of disappointment that their boy didn't have the balls to pull it off.

And by concocting idiotic conspiracy theories, Kennedy and his ilk are painting themselves into smaller and smaller corners. Next, he'll be blaming Bush for Chappaquiddick.

posted by: Mick McMick on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

The reasons for the Iraq War:

1) Because a Sunni group killed 3000 Americans on American soil...we deliberately reversed more than 1000 years of Sunni dominance in the Muslim world. Saddam was, more than Al Qaeda, an energizing force for the Nazi-like dream of the Sunni Arab world to dominate the world's oil supply and destroy Israel. Now...Sunnis face the permanent reality of Shiite Muslim dominance in the Middle East WITH or WITHOUT democracy. So the Sunnis now have no choice but to want democracy and, when they wake up, want America to protect them from Shiite expansionism.

2) Bush knew that Iraq's nuke program was in Libya. But the important thing was to cut off the oil funding for that program. Likewise, Bush knew that the chemical weapons had already been moved to Syria before the war started. But what was he supposed to do: say "Whoops, we have to get UN and Congressional authority to attack Syria instead of Iraq now"? We would have been playing musical target countries if we played by the enemy's rules. Of course Bush lied and called their bluff. Were our enemies (including leftists in our own country)then going to say "You lied because we know the weapons are in Syria". They wanted to say that, but they knew they could not. So Bush called their bluff. Now the idiots are saying "The WMDs never existed!" This almost begs Bush to go into Syria to get them. But Bush can't attack Syria because Syria is hostage to Israel at the moment. Notice how there have been no serious Palestinian terror incidents inside Israel since Israel made it a policy 4 months ago to go to war with Syria if another such attack happens?

To be continued...

posted by: Jim Peterson on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]


No, I said there was no evidence that Saddam's ouster had led to reduced terrorism in Israel.

And you have provided none.

And you didn't pay attention to what I wrote. I agree that Palestinians terrorists are one of the many Islamic terrorists. It just so happens that they no longer are attacking the US. The time to have gone after them would have been in the 1980s.

I think the Iraq war may turn out to be a good idea from a US security perspective. It's already a good idea for Iraqis but I don't think the US should be in the business of fixing other people's problems at the cost of our soldier's lives.

Whether it will be good for US security will depend on how the situation there evolves. If, for example, some sort of Anti-western Islamic republic (headed by Sistani, say) is installed it will not be good news. Hopefully that won't happen.

My point is that if what you are concerned is with Al Qaeda going after Iraq makes little sense. If you have a broader worry (muslim terrorism in general) going after Iraq only makes sense if you are willing to follow through and make sure that Iraq does tur out to be an example for the rest of the arab nations. Personally I don't trust Bush to follow through.


I agree with the reasons you provide. I'm just pointing out that that is not what the Bush administartion emphasized.

posted by: GT on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]


Are you high?

posted by: Bill on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

My Al Capone analogy is silly eh? You say: "The fact is that going after Mafia honchos has had an effect (showing that there is a link) while going after Saddam appears to have had no effect on terrorism." That's great, but you are only restating the initial presupposition of what you were trying to prove with your ridiculous argument in the first place. Even if removing Saddam has had no effect on terrorism (which I would disagree with) the point remains that your argument is still a complete logical fallacy. Just admit will do you good.

posted by: Jason on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

Jason, if you don't get it I really can't help you.

posted by: GT on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

Dear Daniel and Scott Harris,

Yes Jeff L., Bush had a role: President of the United States. He's our Commander in Chief and makes all such final decisions on the use of our military forces. [emphasis added]


Al Capone was prosecuted and jailed for tax evasion. But tax evasion was not the rationale for investigating Capone. Organized crime, murder etc. was the rationale for going after him. Tax evasion was just the legal hook we snagged him on. Anyone who would suggest that the only reason the G-men had for going after Capone would have been laughed out of the room.

Dear Daniel,

As a matter of fact, history, and law President Bush does not have the final decision about whether or not to use military force. The Constitution specifically states that Congress and Congress alone can declare war (armed hostilities) with other nations.

Dear Scott Harris,

Your argument is a perfect illustration of how pro-war supporters such as myself could condemn the actions of President Bush. We hated Saddam, but misrepresenting the cause for war is not a neglicable act. It is a clear perjury that undermines the Constitutional power of Congress to declare war. If a President lies in order to secure a war vote, then he has commited a high crime or misdemeanour against the State. If Bush had simply said Saddam has to go whether or not WMD exist there, that would have been okay.

So while it is laughable that anyone would want Saddam to still be around, plenty of people willing to support war because of Constitutional separation of powers grounds would not support President Bush's actions. I supported the impeachment of Clinton over lying about a personal sex affair in a personal lawsuit because it was under oath. It is ridiculous to propose that because the "ends justifies the means" that any President is allowed to lie to Congress in order to convince them to go to war. That is treason against the Constitution, and Bush must be replaced by election, resignation, or by impeachment. My position on Johnson for the record was the same, and he did the smart thing and stepped down. It should be remembered that 'Credibility Gap' was introduced as a term in his Administration.

posted by: Oldman on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

BTW Jason the "take Logic 101" line of argument is the intellectual equivalent of saying "My dad can beat up your dad".

That type of argument is common in and I'm sure there your arguments would be considered witty and intelligent.

Dan's blog normally has a higher level of debate.

posted by: GT on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

If I don't get deny that you argument is logically corrupt when it clearly is. Your claiming that the occurance of the conclusion proves your premises, but that is just not good reasoning.

Try checking this link out:

posted by: Jason on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

If a "higher level of debate" involves shoddy reasoning then maybe I've come to the wrong place.

posted by: Jason on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

Please, spare us the 'you don't understand logic' posts.

posted by: GT on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]


Actually, I read your last post a little closer and kind of agree with some of the general themes. When you started claiming to know for sure what President Bush was thinking or presenting as facts things that are probably unknown outside the National Security Council I wrote you off as a crackpot. Sorry.

posted by: Bill on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

I'm just trying to show you why your reasoning is off base. If you would rather not know then talk to a will always echo back what you want to hear.

posted by: Jason on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

If you had an argument I'd respond to it.

But you don't.

posted by: GT on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

No is you that lacks an argument, you just refuse to understand why. You may be right about Saddam no having that much impact on terrorism...I will admit that. Will you at least admit that the argument you use to derive that conclusion was bad?

posted by: Jason on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

I'm afraid that it is you that lacks the argument just refuse to see it. I'm willing to admit that you might be right that Saddam had little effect on terrorism...but will you at least admit that the argument you used to derive that conclusion is bunk?

posted by: Jason on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

Bah...stupid IE

posted by: Jason on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]


I disagree with you. Most Americans accept the reality that secrets are necessary to preserve national security. And deception is acceptable to some degree as well.

The President is tasked with protecting the nations from enemies within and without. It is his first and most important duty of office. Most Americans accept that some deception may be required in order to fulfill that duty. And since we are an open society, it is impossible for the President to deceive the enemy without also deceiving us.

To change analogies, consider the game of football. To Moral Absolutists, the play-action pass is a sin. The entire purpose of faking the hand-off is to deceive the other team, and trick them into believing you are running the football. To make matters worse, it is done in order to gain an unfair advantage over the other team. Furthermore, individuals who are exceptionally proficient at this deception are given personal rewards in praise and compensation.

But to argue that the play-action pass is sinful is irrational. It is part of the game. It is an acceptable deception, and noone cries foul. In fact, the other team is found deficient if they fail to see through the deception.

So expecting President Bush to absolutely forthright is unrealistic, and actually counterproductive to fulfilling his main duty of protecting us from our enemies.

On the issue of Congressional Authority, the President did get Congressional Authority to go to War with Iraq.

Finally, WMD were a part of the rationale for war with Iraq. But the were not the rationale by themselves. I thought I made this clear in my list of things that made potential WMD more dangerous in Iraq than actual WMD in India or Pakistan.

To be more clear, the possession of WMD by Saddam Hussein was not the justification for war in Iraq. It was the near certainty of him USING them against us, either directly or through some proxy, that was the rationale for war in Iraq. This belief that he would use them was rational based on 1) he had already used them against internal enemies, and 2) He clearly identified the USA as his external enemy.

Also, go back and look at Bush's speeches. There were many other reasons Bush gave for war in Iraq other than WMD when speaking to the American people. The exclusive focus on WMD was only made in addressing the UN. WMD never was the exclusive argument presented to the American people.

posted by: Scott Harris on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]


Congress does not have the sole authority to declare war. Our enemies can make war on us.

A certain G.Washington, presiding at a convention, made one of his rare interventions in the substance of the proceedings when a delegate proposed an amendment limiting the size of the army to 5000 men. Washington proposed a second amendment forbidding any enemy from invading "with a greater force."

The Constitution's DOW provision at best pertains to the initiation of hostilities by us in a time of peace. It in no way limits the President's ability to wage war in conflicts initiated by our enemies. Ask President Lincoln.

You statement here is fair evidence of the most common blind spot of Bush haters - that 9/11 never happened.

posted by: Tom Holsinger on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

You are right that only Congress has the right to declare war, but the President a Commander-in-Chief is in charge of the armed forces. That means any action by the military (officially) must have the Presidents blessing. This is the reason for the War Powers Act, to keep the President from deploying troops in a combat role without Congressional approval. It has been argued the War Powers Act is unconstitutional but this has not been tried.

Back on topic, did anybody listen to O'Neill and Suskind on NPR yesterday? It was the interviewer asking O'Neill questions, O'Neill answering in a couple of sentences and then Suskind explaining for five minutes on what O'Neill meant, how this applied to the Bush White House, and how this was different from any other White House. O'Neill even corrected him once. I kind of get the feeling Suskind interviewed O'Neill, got thousands of documents, and then only picked the pieces of information that supported Suskind's viewpoint.

Richard Swan

posted by: Richard Swan on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]


I'm going to chime in here on your side. I think you're right on every point. The deception argument, man that's a slam dunk ... Just look at D-Day or the Manhattan Project. I remember in the summer and fall of last year how the Bush administration was being ridiculed in the press and on all the late-night talk shows for all the different reasons that were given as justification for the war ... Well, which is it? Are we going to war because of WMDs or to free the Iraqi people, or because of the mass graves or because we want to establish a democracy in the Middle East, blah, blah, blah. The administration decided for clarity and simplicity to try to coalesce the argument around one central idea although there were many. It was their judgment that WMD case was the strongest.

posted by: Bill on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

Dear Scott Harris,

You say some factually true things, such as.

So expecting President Bush to absolutely forthright is unrealistic, and actually counterproductive to fulfilling his main duty of protecting us from our enemies.

And something partly true,

It was the near certainty of him USING them against us, either directly or through some proxy,

I agree with you that Saddam having WMD was not the point. The point is that if he did have them, and given enough time and the increasing holes in sanctions, that he would have used them. I supported invasion on those grounds.

The problem is that the Administration gave heavy weight to the argument that Saddam had WMD and that this was a reason to go to war. Remember, Cheney saying Iraq had reconstituted its nuclear weapons programme?

This is problem because:

On the issue of Congressional Authority, the President did get Congressional Authority to go to War with Iraq.

Yes, that's true. But it was done on false pretenses. Nothing in the Constitution says that you only have to follow the declaration of war policy when it's convenient. I think everybody understands that if we were attacked, that the President responds first and we declare war later as a nicety. But this was not that situation.

To get that authorization to go to war, Bush relied heavily on presumptions that he did not have secret information in order to back up of any credible value. Other assertions were purposely exaggerated or misrepresented.

Purposefully lying to obtain a declaration of war is against the Constitution of the United States, and is a high crime and misdemeanor.

Now you can argue that most people don't care, or that you think doing it was right anyway, or that nobody really thinks about the Constitution anymore anyway. Since it was a document written by dead white men, some of whom were slave owners.

But the matter of the fact is that it's still unConstitutional, and it was still treason. I don't expect Bush to ever get impeached for it, I'd settle for an election '04 loss, but it was still treason. And no dancing or prettying it up is going to work.

Besides your football analogy is a little flawed:
The entire purpose of faking the hand-off is to deceive the other team,

Lying to enemy nations is acceptable. Lying in order to get support for policy isn't being for "our side". And even if it were perfectly apt, what is acceptable in football is NOT acceptable in Constitutional representative governance in the Republic. This is like saying if it's okay to say a white lie to get out of an inconvenient dinner invitation, then it's okay to lie in order to get out of an inconvenient lawsuit. The latter got Clinton impeached, which I supported mind you. The idea that we should turn around and say lying to the American people and Congress to get support for a war is laughable. You can disagree, but whether or not you agree it's still unConstitutional. Sorry.

Just as I'm sorry that no matter how unConstitutional it is, people don't seem to want to care or admit that it is. I'm sorry that this is what my nation has come to, excusing the lies of the powerful.

posted by: Oldman on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

No, my argument is not incorrect. It's your analogy that makes no sense.

Getting rid of Saddam made no difference in terrorism.

Getting rid of Al Capone DID make a difference in crime (read a litle history). Others took Capone's place but taking him out made a measurable difference at the time.

posted by: GT on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

I'm sure it's too late, but anyway: in response to your response, all I will say is that you make assertions about Bush's decisiveness and so on, but don't provide any evidence, as far as I can see. My initial suggestion was that Dan Drezner's post (perhaps inadvertently) provided more evidence corroborating what other evidence seems to suggest: that despite Bush's very powerful reputation as a decisive leader, he is not sometimes, perhaps often, overshadowed in the decision-making process by others. O'Neill's book provides evidence of this on a number of policy issues, and there is more evidence out there. On Iraq, for instance, James Fallows' recent piece appears (from what I've read so far) to provide more evidence to this effect. Of course, Bush is President; but you provide no evidence of his decisiveness, only reassertions of the kind one hears quite frequently.

posted by: Jeff L. on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

I wonder how people come to the conclusion that Bush was lying about WMD in Iraq. For one thing, do we really know anything about the intelligence we had before the war? Come on, that stuff must be classified.
Also, how do we know that Saddam didn't just bury the WMD in a hole similar to the one he was hiding in (except without ventilation), or, for that matter, ship them off to the sympathetic regime of Syria (I won't go into that now)?

posted by: David V on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

Maybe that is true GT...but that is not the point. You said: "You'll notice that Palestinian attacks continue despite the fact that Saddam was taken out. Pretty clear he had no impact on the terrorism situation in Israel." You are making an argument claiming that the lack of a reduction in terrorism proves that Saddam had "had no impact on the terrorism situation in Israel" My analogy was given merely to show you the problem with this type of reasoning. It dosen't matter even if terrorism triples after Saddams still cannot take that fact and use it to prove that Saddam "had no impact on the terrorism situation in Israel" without commiting a logical fallacy, and the Al Capone analogy shows why...even if it represents oversimplified history.

posted by: Jason on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]


This is an interesting argument that you and Jason have been having. What documentation or sources can you cite that can substantiate the claim you are making about Saddam and the level of terrorism in Israel that is not open to subjective interpretation? If your only standard of measurement is the number of attacks since he was captured the calculation is pretty straightforward ... either it has or it hasn't made a difference but surely there are more variables to consider here than just that.

posted by: Bill on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]


I have two problems with your response.

1) We were attacked. Your argument reveals that you do not agree that the War in Iraq is part of some overall Global war against terror. You see Iraq as discrete and separate from our efforts in Afghanistan, the Phillipines, Pakistan. This is a premise that I reject. I see Iraq more as a campaign in a larger war on terror that will probably take decades to resolve.

2) Emphasizing WMD while including other arguments as well is not lying. And it is even possible to be mistaken without lying. Being proven wrong is not equivalent to being proven a liar.

As far as the deception goes, here it is plainly. The source and heart of our enemy lies in Saudi Arabia. 15 of the 19 highjackers were Saudi's. The ultimate enemy is that collapse and utter failure of Arab Nationalism and what used to be the Muslim Empire.

To explicitly call out our enemy in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 would have been both politically unfeasible, and tactically irresponsible. The Saudi's day is coming. We hope that by constructing a liberal democracy on its borders, we can foment enough internal rebellion to overthrow the dispicable regime they have in place. But if additional armed conflict is required, we will do it.

It would have been, and probably still is, foolhardy to explicitly tell the Arabs that we are coming after them all. But we are. Not necessarily through war, but war if necessary.

And Lybia's capitulation illustrates that they are beginning to get the message. In actuality, we would prefer to convince them to change (for their good as well as ours) without armed intervention. But their diseased culture highly values raw power. And we had to demonstrate our willingness and ability to use force to establish credibility.

Hopefully, we have now established enough credibility to accomplish the remaining tasks with minimal armed conflict. I wouldn't bet on it. But one can hope.

I highly encourage you to read the articles I referenced above.

posted by: Scott Harris on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]


It occurs to me that your assertion that Bush is lying rests on two things. 1) The WMD argument was the particular argument that you personally found persuasive in going to war in Iraq. 2) You believe that the fact that large quantities of weapons and/or weapons facilities have not yet been found means both that the weapons do not and have never existed, and that Bush knew this ahead of time.

On the first point, I will just flatly state that the WMD argument was not the argument that I found to be persuasive. Other arguments were being made that I thought were more persuasive than WMD. In retrospect, the failure to find WMD so far in Iraq leaves you feeling deceived. Since the WMD was not the persuasive argument for me, I don't feel deceived.

On the second point, since you feel deceived, you are casting about for someone in particular to blame. It is not enough for you to believe that there might have been a catastrophic intelligence failure. You want to personally blame Bush.

My question would be Why blame Bush? Many others here have highlighted the fact that previous administrations, and many other governments also believed the WMD were real. Could it be that your anger at feeling deceived is misplaced, or perhaps even premature?

Obviously, the WMD argument was both sufficient AND necessary in convincing you war with Iraq was justified. Since the WMD argument was neither sufficient NOR necessary for me, I do not share your anger.

If it turns out that you are correct, and the Bush knew he was using bogus information in order to obtain authorization to go to war in Iraq, I will be standing right next to you calling not only for his impeachment, but his criminal prosecution and imprisonment. But right now, I find the allegation of intentional deception to be extremely implausible.

posted by: Scott Harris on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]


You make no sense.

posted by: GT on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

Oldman, the Congressional was in October and WMD's were only one of a number of things - the emphasis came a couple of months later, because the UN could care less about some of the things which related to US rather than world interests. This has been hashed over for a year now, how the heck did you miss it?

Now then: I did not see the program, was "Secret" the total stamp? If so, please note that it is the lowest possible classification, can be de-classified akmost at whim, and may even have an automatic de-classification much shorter than the usual fifty years.

posted by: John Anderson on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]


Maybe John Anderson has hit on it. I was convinced of the need to invade Iraq in the Fall of 2002, when multiple arguments, including but not limited to WMD, were being made to Congress based on US security interests. Perhaps, you were convinced in early 2003, when the US case was being presented to the UN and was recalibrated according to worldwide security interests.

posted by: Scott Harris on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

Please excuse me, but I had to comment that GT seems to enjoy being ignorant. Carry on!

posted by: bro on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]


Breaking news. Yellowcake Uranium from Iraq found in shipment of scrap metal to the Netherlands. Go here for the story.,2933,108583,00.html

posted by: Scott Harris on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

That is the conclusion I've drawn bro...I tried to show him but he just refuses to understand. It doesn't seem like a terrible complex principle I am pointing out. For example:

1) It is widely believed that smallpox causes death in human beings.

2) World disease prevention agencies inoculated millions of people against the disease and eradicated it from nature.

3) Death rates from infectious diseases have not dropped since the eradication of smallpox.


4) Smallpox had no impact on the death of human beings.

GT, I know you are going to say that my analogies are stupid and crazy, but just look at the argument I set up. It is not supposed to be a serious argument, but rather it is supposed to show you the problem with the argument you gave for why Saddam had no impact on terrorism in Israel.

This type of fallacy is a subtle form of affirming the consequent. In the above case, you have no logical justification for asserting 4 because there are many things that could prevent infectious death rates from falling, such as the spread of other diseases. Likewise in the Saddam example, there are all sorts of reasons why terrorism would not abate after the capture of Saddam outside the reason you gave (i.e. that he “had no impact on the terrorism situation in Israel"). When we capture a senior Al Quada figure and terrorists attacks continue despite his capture, we do not concluded that "well he must have had nothing to do with terrorism". That is horrible reasoning. You state that continuing terrorism in Israel is a proof that Saddam no impact on it to begin with...but there is just no logical entailment that justifies that assertion. Even if it is true, the argument is STILL a logical fallacy because the truth must be considered only coincidental. Get it?

posted by: Jason on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

Mr Scott Harris,

According to the FOXnews source you cited:

But the finding of an estimated two pounds of uranium oxide is odd, Van der Weegen said.

Experts said that around 2 pounds of yellowcake, the amount found, would not be useful for either a bomb or fuel.

Dr. Alan Ketering, a researcher at the nuclear research plant at the University of Missouri-Columbia, said yellowcake contains less than 1 percent of U-235 used in nuclear weapons. He said it would need to be refined many times with sophisticated technology before it was dangerous -- and the amount found in Rotterdam would not be nearly enough.

It's well known that Iraq was building a (French supplied) nuclear plant (bombed by Isreal), and that it had (UN tagged) stores of uranium. As FOXnews cannot be accused of being a liberal source and downplaying the find to spite Bush, I think we can safely say that finding a few pounds of non-weapons-grade material is not very exciting. I'm not convinced that a trivial sample of non-weapons material that for all we know may have been literally scrap metal from the bombed nuclear plant or looted post-war from the UN catalogged stores is evidence at all for the Administration's claims. Unless allot more is found or it's weapons grade then this is just a non-starter.

You seem like a sincere person Scott, even if I think you are terribly wrong about your Constitutional law arguments. If you go to court and testify about 100 things, and you only lie about 1 important one in order to influence the outcome, it's still perjury. The separation of powers means that while it is less familiar, lying to Congress in order to get a declaration of war even if it is only one lie amidst some truths is still a crime against the state. Congress like the judiciary is a "co-equal" branch of government to the executive. If the Administration lies in court to get a favorable ruling, that's clearly perjury. If the Administration lies to Congress to secure a vote for war, even if it's not their only rationale, it's still a high crime and misdemeanour. Given that Republicans have set the precendent in modern times that a single lie in the midst of a personal lawsuit is grounds for impeachment, I don't think you have any room to run on this. I don't expect anything to happen on it, but it's still unconstitutional and it's still formally treason. History, law, and the Constitution leave us no other conclusion.

The only possible defense is that they were mistaken, and not lying. But that's not what you were arguing before. You were arguing that deceiving the Legislative branch was okay because it was for a "good" reason.

And finally, to be dead honest I was open to the possibility of finding WMD in Iraq but to be frank "crying wolf" like this by jumping the gun and not even reading your own cited sources is the exact kind of crap that has made me totally cynical about Admin war claims.

You seem like a nice person Scott Harris and can argue allot better than many defenders of the Admin or their critics for that matter, and I don't think you would ever do something to hurt your country, but you really don't have a leg to stand on here. Sorry.

posted by: Oldman on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

Mr. Scott Harris,

I'd like you to know, from what I've seen of your argumentation and writing so far under different circumstances I'd be proud and pleased to work alongside you. You clearly have a creative mind worthy of respect. However, on this matter I'm afraid you are wrong on clear formal and factual grounds. You should know that I do not use the word treason lightly.

The oath which I've taken requires me to protect and defend the Constitution from all enemies both foreign and domestic. We as a people have been unique because our loyalty as Americans is not to a person, or a group, or to even Americans at large foremost, but first and above all else to the principles within the Constitution of the United States of America.

Therefore this act if it was at all intentional, and I find it increasingly hard to believe that so many well-educated people could come to so wrong a conclusion in the face of publicly known evidence, would in fact be treasonous because it was a betrayal of that Constitution.

Now you can say it was a mistake. Maybe it was. My response is to work within the legal and Constitutional framework of politics to bring about a change of President peacefully. That is how I am choosing to defend the Constitution. However, the more is revealed the less likely this all seems like an innocent mistake. Even if they didn't know, at some point they should have. Sorry, Scott I know you really believe in this ... but the facts are totally against you.

posted by: Oldman on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]


You keep making the same mistake.

In fact death rates DROPPED with the eradication of smallpox. There was a MEASURABLE DIFFERENCE.

Do you understand that?

Doctors could say, see there used to be XXX people dying of small pox every year. Now there are none. Therefore we saved XXX lives.

Same with Capone. There too there was a MEASURABLE DIFFERENCE.

That's where your analogy falls apart. I submit that there was no measurable diference in the terrorism in Israel due to Saddam falling.

You, or anyone else, could have counterargued by showing me that I had the facts wrong. That there was a measurable evidence. But you didn't.

Instead you tried to make this an issue of logic and came up with a false analogy.

If you truly understood logic you could have argued, correctly, that even if there was no measurable difference right not it did not PROVE that Saddam was not behind it. That we needed more data.

But, again, you didn't.

posted by: GT on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]


If you read this article from September, 2002, which was prior to Congress' vote to authorize the Iraq invasion, then you will see that other rather detailed arguments were being made prior to Congress' vote.

What the administration did not officially do was present arguments that might be perceived as bigotted or racists because the baggage they carried, even if true, was politically unfeasable, and tactically irresponsible. Also, the above article makes the case that we needed to invade Iraq even if Saddam backed down. I don't think the administration would have been able to do that. They had made too many commitments both domestically, and internationally.

As for the Yellowcake story, I prematurely copied the link before reading the story. My bad. But a little hear, and a little there can add up. I find the fact that it was found in a shipment of scrap metal to be more revealing than the actual quantity.

Ask yourself this question. Why not just turn the Yellowcake over to UN inspectors? The very fact that it was disposed of surreptitiously makes one suspicious that other things were also disposed of that way. Certainly, I agree that this report is not conclusive. But I am not so quick to dismiss it completely, either.

Finally, I do find it plausible that either Saddam faked his programs in order to maintain face, or perhaps his scientists gave him false reports exaggerating their progress in order to avoid torture and punishment. In that case, Iraq would be the deceiver, not Bush.

Bottom Line, I believe Bush is an essentially honest man - more honest than many politicians. I live in Arlington, Texas, the home of the Texas Rangers team he owned, and the state which he governed for 6 years. I never saw evidence of the dishonesty of which he is being accused.

Certainly, I don't like everything he has done. I was against his tax cut. I was against the prescription drug bill, and I don't like the size of our deficit. Going to the airport really pisses me off, because I so highly value our individual freedoms. I don't care for his moon/Mars initiative. And I'm sure there are other things I could find I don't like.

But dishonesty is not one of the traits I have seen. So I need more proof. As far as WMD, there is an old saying. "The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence."

posted by: Scott Harris on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]


a) that's not an article, that's a blog.

b)even if it were an article, so what? That's only the opinion of one individual, not what the administration said. Since when does that blog act as a Bush spokesman?

posted by: GT on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

If it's too small an amount of Yellowcake, then does it stand to reason that's all Iraq would have obtained?

No. Makes more sense that they had more... FAR more... and this small amount was shipped out with the scrap metal shipment, to disguise it's disbursment, which was undertaken by Iraq when it was clear the gig was up.

posted by: Bithead on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]


Web loggers write articles. This is a new form of journalism. Articles written by web loggers are just as valid as any other journalism. Also, that particular author has been published multiple times in the Wall Street Journal, so dismissing his well-thought our article is not valid to me. Also, I pointed to this article because it accurately described my thinking at the time, even though I didn't find this article until last week. Bias against legitimate web log journalism is no different than the historical bias newspapers had against TV and radio journalism when it was new.

Discuss the ideas or not - your choice. But casually dismissing ideas because of form or format is invalid.

posted by: Scott Harris on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]


I am not dismissing his ideas.


His opinions are just that, his opinions.

The debate is not whether some people had non-WMD reasons for going to war with Iraq.

The debate is about what were the reasons the Bush administration used to sell the war.

posted by: GT on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]


By the way. The other two articles I referenced were published this month in the New Yorker magazine

and the National Review

So if you are inclined to give more weight to "professional" journalism, go read these.

posted by: Scott Harris on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]


I was trying to show my personal reasoning. The point is that these ideas were being openly discussed prior to the Congressional vote. In politics, you stress whatever ideas are needed to win the vote of others. But it doesn't mean that those ideas are most important to you, or even most important overall.

Since historical calendars get compressed in our memories, and since the WMD emphasis was clear before the UN, it is easy to forget that other arguments were being made just as forcefully. There was a lot of emphasis throughout 2002 on "root causes" by the administration and its opponents.

The article I pointed to was an example of the "root causes" justification for invading Iraq, which was much more persuasive to me than WMD. To wit, without the context of the overall War on Terror, I would not have supported invading Iraq. We had Saddam boxed in, and he was fairly impotent.

Only in the context of addressing "root causes" and the reevaluation of threats in the light of 9/11 made invading Iraq reasonable. Outside of that context, containment was a more reasonable policy. Go back. Do the research. There were at least a year's worth of articles about "root causes" before Congress voted approval to invade Iraq.

I linked one article which effectively illustrates my personal reasoning. But this was a big discussion. WMD was a part of the equation. But the extreme emphasis on WMD only occured in early 2003, not 2002.

posted by: Scott Harris on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

Look GT, you seem to think that the whole thing is a statistical matter that can be reconciled by simply looking at the facts or outcome. That is ususlly a sensible method of investigation, but it misses the point that I am trying to convince you of. My analogies are irrelevant to the issue...they are given only to try and show you how the type of reasoning you engaged in can go wrong. I could just as easily use logical symbols if you would like, but I doubt that would be very convincing to you. The point that I'm making to you is that it does not matter even if there is no measurable difference between terrorist attack rates before and after Saddam's still cannot make the inference from that to the conclusion that Saddam had no impact on terrorism. That is a straight up logical fallacy and if you would stop nitpicking the analogies and just look at their logical structure, you would see that.

posted by: Jason on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

>"It's well known that Iraq was building a (French supplied) nuclear plant (bombed by Isreal), and that it had (UN tagged) stores of uranium."

Yellow cake has NO use outside of building a bomb. Come on, you remember! Yellow cake was the stuff everybody denied up and down that Saddam had been trying to obtain from Africa. The stuff that treasonous Wilson jerk insisted never existed.

I guess it turns out Saddam was having it smuggled from Africa through Jordan hidden in shipments of pipes or something, and OOPS somebody got greedy and sold the pipes as scrap.

Joe Wilson and his wife VALERIE PLAME, that's right VALERIE PLAME, both of whose careers are now thankfully over, should be investigated for treason for denying the yellowcake purchase just for the sake of smearing Bush.

But they have no sense of duty. They don't care if New York is nuked, as long as it embarrasses the President. And people like you are just as bad, scrambling for excuses for Saddam or wacky explanations for every scrap of evidence that dribbles out, all because of your obsessive hatred of one man.

Inexplicable really.

posted by: Mick McMick on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

>without the context of the overall War on Terror, I would not have supported invading Iraq. We had Saddam boxed in, and he was fairly impotent.


The so-called sanctions were a joke, violated in a million ways. Even our phony allies were violating them, selling Saddam hi-tech weapons, sneaking oil over the Syrian border, etc. And as soon as the sanctions were lifted, which would have happened eventually, Iraq had everything it needed to start cranking up the nuclear bomb factories again.

Just how long do you think we could have maintained the no-fly zones, in which we were shot at every day? How long should we have looked on as Saddam allowed his people to starve and go without medical care, not to mention the countless thousands he tortured and murdered and raped?

You're a pretty heartless robot if you still think it's okay to look the other way when you are in the position to help.

And by the way, Bush did not lie about WMD. Unless you have some proof that (1) Saddam did not have WMD, and (2) that Bush knew it.

You, my friend, are the liar here. But I guess you think lying is okay since you are doing it for good, and Bush is evil.

But you and your "peace" marcher friends are making historical fools of yourselves. You will be remembered as fondly as those who made excuses for the Third Reich and insisted we should mind our own business.

posted by: Mick McMick on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]


Are you aware of how we became aware of North Korea's nuclear reprocessing?

Back in '93 or so, the IAEA, as per North Korea's membership in the NPT, tested what North Korea claimed was its sum total of plutonium---less than a gram.

Such an amount, of course, is useless for nuclear weapons, and even as a "dirty bomb," would not go very far.

Yet, it WAS sufficient to indicate that North Korea had, in fact, conducted three reprocessings of nuclear fuel.

To presume that the discovered two pounds of yellowcake are somehow not indicative of a weapons program, when you don't know if that is, in fact, the full extent of all the yellowcake out there, is incorrect---more to the point, it in fact suggests that there may well BE more out there. (It'll be interesting to see what tests are conducted on it, and what those tests reveal.)

posted by: Dean on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]


To take you step by step, here it is.

1) Iraq was believed to have WMD. In fact, they had actually used WMD in the 90's on internal political opponents, so we KNEW they had WMD. Even if they destroyed them, they could not satisfactorily account for their destruction to a pacifist Swede.

2) Iraq was a nuisance but not a serious threat, so containment had been working.

3) If Iraq could find a way to use them on us which did not result in their own destruction, we could be reasonable certain they would because they had demonstrated their willingnes to use them in the Iran/Iraq War, and on the Kurds in the 90's. So they had no moral qualms about using them.

4) Since Al Queda had successfully attacked us, it was reasonable to assume that it might occur to Saddam that giving WMD to a third party terrorist group might allow him to attack us, and still deny it.

5) They key question was, "Why are these people so willing to attack us?" Certainly, they cannot win. Our nation's survival is not seriously threatened. The answer is the failure of their culture which extends throughout the Arab world, (though not necessarily the entire Muslim world.)

6) In order to solve the problem, we have to address the root causes. A) their culture only respects power. B) they believed we were wimps. C) we couldn't just take over any country willy-nilly.

7) Since we were still technically at war with Iraq (a cease-fire agreement is not an end to war), and since Iraq was violating their cease fire agreement, we had a legal excuse to take over their country.

8) If we did this, we had to "nation-build" in a really serious way. Our commitment had to be long-term and open-ended. Iraq was not the real problem. Eliminating the dangerous parts of Arab Culture (and only those parts) was required, which is at least a two generation project.

I concluded this was necessary, and using Iraq's violations of the cease fire agreement (which included firing on our jets in the no-fly zones) was a reasonable first step.

This is the important thing. It is only the first step. We will be in Iraq 60 years from now, the same way we are still in Germany. It is the only acceptable solution. Other possible solutions are 1) Nuke the whole area. 2) Surrender and convert to theocratic Muslim societies, or 3) accept the idea that one of our cities was going to go up in smoke one day.

I think Bush made the reasonable decision. The ends do not always justify the means. But in this case, I think they do. Feel free to disagree.

posted by: Scott Harris on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]


Yeah, I'm a heartless robot. I think we should only act militarily when it is in our national defense interests. Hell, we could invade and liberate Cuba in a week if we wanted to. But we won't because they aren't a threat.

The military is for eliminating threats. REAL threats.

posted by: Scott Harris on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]


Opponents of the War in Iraq are correct in one thing. In isolation, Saddam was not a REAL threat. Only in the context of the overall War on Terror does he become a REAL threat.

The problem anti-war folks have is they insist on isolating the Iraq situation. They refuse to consider it in the proper context.

posted by: Scott Harris on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]


To expound. Guns aren't the issue. Its the willingness to use guns maliciously that is the issue. If everyone in the world could be trusted to use WMD only in true self-defense, I'd say let everybody have them.

But you and I both know that is not the case. So possession of WMD while troubling, is not particularly dangerous. It is the willingness to use them aggressively that causes problems.

posted by: Scott Harris on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]


Here is why Saddam was impotent. He was too narcissistic to attack us directly. He was smart enough to know it would mean his personal destruction. And he was more interested in his personal survival than martyrdom.

But, in the context of the War on Terror, he might be able to help someone else do it (who knows, maybe he already did), and that is why he was a threat.

So again, outside the context of the overall War on Terror, he was not a threat.

posted by: Scott Harris on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

Before anyone makes any conclusions about just what the Yellowcake find means, we should wait for the results of tests being made on the find in order to determine its origins.

If it turns out to be from the Yellowcake store looted after Baghdad fell, then the case for a reconstituted WMD program remains unproven. Though we should be glad that this particular load has been found. Even if it isn't enough to make a bomb, the less of it floating around on the open market the better.

However, if this sample came from somewhere else then we have an entirely new set of issues to deal with. Finding the people who put it in with the shipment of scrap should be a top priority.

I am curious as to why it was being shipped to the Netherlands, probably to be transferred onto another boat and sent elsewhere.

posted by: sam on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

If "Liar, Liar, pants on fire" , "We was robbed" , and the advocation of Socialism is the best the Democrats can do here's my prediction :

The Republicans are going to hand you your ass in November.

posted by: Bill on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

I'd say this thread has run its course. Thanks to all for the comments!

posted by: Dan Drezner on 01.14.04 at 04:21 PM [permalink]

Post a Comment:


Email Address:



Remember your info?