If I recall, in the months preceding our decision to go to war in Iraq, you said this would happen. Perhaps now would be a good time for you to borrow the words of Ian Malcolm from Jurrasic Park I -

God, I hate being right all the time.
The thoughts of Daniel Leatherwood on 1 March 2005 - 22:13 Central
+ + + + +

Now I admit that I have not read all your posts on this very subject, but I have read a few. If I make an assumption of your position, please correct me. This is just my general take of the situation and is not necessarily to disprove what you have been saying. Who knows? You might even agree with me.

You can’t have your cake and eat it too. The world is a complex system and is very rarely is there ever a clear cut answer to any problem or correct answer for that matter. It is often choices between two evils.

I think that we honestly have to agree that all evidence leading up to the invasion implied that Iraq did have WMDs. This information was agreed to by NATO members, France, England, and Germany as well as none NATO countries like Russia. Saudi Arabia a fellow Arab Muslim nation even agreed. Israeli intelligence, the best in that region, agreed. As a leader it was Bush’s job to make decisions with this information. For all he new the information had to be assumed correct until proven false. The word of a pathological liar, Saddam, does not count.

I think we could also agree that WMDs in Saddam’s hands are a bad idea. Doing nothing is not an option. If Saddam did have WMDs and Bush did nothing he would be labled one of the worst presidents ever. So Bush tried the UN. It curiously failed. Later we learn that the Oil for Food Program is corrupt. France gets caught with its hand in the cookie jar. Oops. While we didn’t go to Iraq for oil, France did oppose the war to keep their side dealings alive. France certainly doesn’t have “moral” authority. But I digress, what to do? Invasion was the only legitimate option. True, I didn’t want war. I don’t see how any Christian would want war. Bush had to make the decision based on limited information that more long term good would come from military action then bad.

I believe that more good has happened because of the invasion then anyone could have imagined. Even the usually anti-Bush editorial section of the NYT agrees. Lebanon, Egypt, Iraq, and even Saudi Arabia to some extent are becoming more democratic. This is important because of the oil hungry and aggressive red dragon that is appearing on the horizon.

Did bad things happen because of the invasion? Yes! Will more long-term good then bad come of it? Yes! The Sudan situation is not over. The right thing can still be done. Attacks of our “moral” authority will happen no matter what we do. Democracy is growing in the Middle East. That will be our legacy. Attacks of our moral authority will happen flippantly but attacks on our military might will not be made lightly.

Sry. That got a little long.

The thoughts of Joecrazy on 2 March 2005 - 0:39 Central
+ + + + +

I think that we honestly have to agree that all evidence leading up to the invasion implied that Iraq did have WMDs.

I believed very strongly at the time that Iraq had everything the Bush administration said it did. The fact that it did not reflects badly upon the competence of the Bush administration (hence this post), but actually had very little to do with my original opposition to the invasion.

I think we could also agree that WMDs in Saddam’s hands are a bad idea. Doing nothing is not an option. If Saddam did have WMDs and Bush did nothing he would be labled one of the worst presidents ever.

Nonsense. Worse dictators than Saddam have had nuclear ICBMs at their disposal. The United States has a lot of experience with deterrence. The basic idea of deterrence is this: "Saddam, if you nuke anybody or give nukes to anybody, we nuke you." It's not a pretty policy, but with most states (not organizations like Al Qaeda, which are much different), the policy works very well. By the way, North Korea has probably acquired nuclear arms since Bush took office, and North Korea is probably a worse regime than Iraq was. Yet there is no chance on earth that we will invade North Korea.

Bush had to make the decision based on limited information that more long term good would come from military action then bad.

War is not like the construction of public parks, in which we weigh costs and benefits and then decide what to do. War is life and death. By starting a war with Iraq, Bush decided that the life of thousands of Iraqis was worth less than America's goals are. So, were we justified?

Generally speaking, the only just goal for war is peace; since we were already at peace with Iraq and no Iraqi strike of any kind was imminent, war was not justified. (I am making an oversimplification, but we are already discussing this in simplistic terms.)

Democracy is growing in the Middle East. That will be our legacy. Attacks of our moral authority will happen flippantly but attacks on our military might will not be made lightly.

No one doubts American military power. That's why terrorist use the tactics they use--a direct confrontation with US military might is impossible. The problem is that the US started a battle that had very little relevance to the war (that is, Iraq had little to do with the war on terror).

So, with regards to Darfur (since that's what I was discussing), where is American military might? Where is the omnipotent US military when the people of Darfur need it?

The answer: Because of Iraq, it is politically, diplomatically, and physically impossible for US armed forces to intervene in Sudan. Diplomacy and politics aside, we have 140,000 troops and hundreds of billions of dollars tied down in Iraq; there's no way we can afford to commit a reasonable force to Darfur. Therefore, we have to work with other governments to get anything done in Sudan.

But even governments that agreed to invade Iraq with us cannot help us in other places. The hands of our friends are tied, because their own people resent their cooperation with the US in the invasion of Iraq. The moral authority you so easily toss aside is vital in a democratic world; only dictators can afford to act against the convictions of their people.

The thoughts of Wilson on 2 March 2005 - 1:36 Central
+ + + + +

In the 90s, when we had a lot more international prestige, theoretically, we did nothing in Rwanda. At least Bush is making the right noises about the Sudan. Time will tell - people keep doubting this president, and they keep being proved wrong. I believe that those who longingly look back at the status quo are missing out on the unbelievable changes that are occurring now. I have no doubt that your opposition to the war in Iraq is principled, and I do respect that.

I think blaming UN inaction in the Sudan on the Iraq war is a stretch - a large stretch. Do you believe that if we hadn't invaded Iraq the UN would be in the Sudan taking care of the situation?

Just an observation, Wilson (which will probably make me less popular in your comments thread than ever, if that's possible) - you have a take-no-prisoners approach to debate which probably serves you well in your activities at the university but can be a bit hard to take - I've seen it both here and when I had the misfortune to post something you disagreed with at Thinklings. I've never seen you give an inch - I think the commenter above had some decent points, don't you? Doesn't mean you'll "lose" this thread (it's your thread, I'm sure you'll win it :-) if you acknowledge that.

I don't mean this as an attack on you - like I said, it's just an observation. Maybe just because I'm older and learned a long time ago , often the hard way, that my paradigm wasn't always the correct one.

If I've offended you please forgive - this is meant as a helpful comment, but I use the language inexpertly, quite often. Plus I don't know you so who the heck do I think I am?

I realize that the topic of the war in Iraq is an emotionally charged one (as it should be). And I respect your position on it, while disagreeing.

The thoughts of Bill on 2 March 2005 - 10:00 Central
+ + + + +

If my approach to debate seems a bit harsh, Bill, it is probably due to a desire for economy more than a desire for victory. I wrote my response to Joe quickly (probably more quickly than I should have, granted), responding only to main points--because my response would have been of unreasonable length otherwise. The only pejorative expression I used, as far as I can tell, is "nonsense."

The more times I write out my position on these things, you see, the terser and more direct my wording gets. In this case, I originally linked an article that addressed only one aspect of the current position of the US in world affairs; I think it unreasonable to try to address the entire Iraq war in the comments. I could have ignored Joe's comment or made a friendly reply, but I'm not sure that would have been any more helpful than what I ended up doing.

You have done a good job, I think, of addressing the concerns mentioned in the article at hand. The question of whether the UN would be acting decisively in Darfur if the US had not invaded Iraq is a good one.

I think blaming UN inaction in the Sudan on the Iraq war is a stretch - a large stretch. Do you believe that if we hadn't invaded Iraq the UN would be in the Sudan taking care of the situation?

The answer is a qualified yes. The US had little difficulty organizing international military action against Serbia in 1999, even though Serbia had friends on the Security Council. The UN, also, has a very uneasy conscience after Rwanda; if it were not for more recent (perceived) fiascoes, the US could probably have organized a reasonable response to Darfur simply by invoking the specter of Rwanda. This response would not be a full-scale invasion of Sudan, but it would be something far more effective than 1800 troops from impoverished nations trying to protect 2 million people.

Back to Joe's comment, which you believe included some valid points. Here is the main point that I think I could have addressed:

I believe that more good has happened because of the invasion then anyone could have imagined. Even the usually anti-Bush editorial section of the NYT agrees. Lebanon, Egypt, Iraq, and even Saudi Arabia to some extent are becoming more democratic.

I disagree with this assessment because I think most of the current positive trends in the Middle East began before the invasion of Iraq. Although Joe has not mentioned Iran, Iran is one of the democratizing nations; its reform movements go back years (even while its government seems to be pursuing nuclear weapons). Libya, also, was bowing to international pressure years before the invasion of Iraq. Lebanon, meanwhile, is reacting to Syria the same way it reacted to Israel a few years ago; Lebanon simply wants independence. In Egypt, America will oppose any drastic changes; Mubarak has been very friendly to us, and the leading voices for reform in Egypt have not, historically (a lot of Egyptian dissidents are now members of Al Qaeda). Saudi Arabia is responding slowly to its own people, just as Iran is. I see no reason to identify the invasion of Iraq as trigger for any of these movements, since most of them were very clearly in motion before the invasion. It is possible that the elections in Iraq will be inspiring to other nations, but I think it's a bit early to tell that.

The thoughts of Wilson on 2 March 2005 - 11:20 Central
+ + + + +

Nonsense. Worse dictators than Saddam have had nuclear ICBMs at their disposal. The United States has a lot of experience with deterrence. The basic idea of deterrence is this: "Saddam, if you nuke anybody or give nukes to anybody, we nuke you.”

How could this be a legitimate long term approach to nuclear arms? Eventually every nation would have nukes. Are we to threaten every nation with Armageddon? Deterrence is not cheap. We did win the cold war but it cost thousands of lives and a sizable portion of our GDP over several decades. The N. Korea situation was botched. N. Korea got a nuke, mission failed. In hind sight, would have a proactive military approach solved the NK problem? No. Military action there would not have been possible because of China. Even if the war in Iraq didn’t happen we still couldn’t fight in Korea. Since, military action was not possible Bush fell back on the more risky plan of diplomancy and deterrence. Is the deterrence of NK costing us money? Yes. It’s most visible application is the Ballistic Missile Defense Shield.

War is not like the construction of public parks, in which we weigh costs and benefits and then decide what to do. War is life and death. By starting a war with Iraq, Bush decided that the life of thousands of Iraqis was worth less than America's goals are.

Ok, so war is not about costs and benefits, but then you judge Bush’s decision based on the costs and benefits of that war. Life does have its price. Calling life priceless is no more then romantic foolishness. Everyday engineers, politicians, city workers and business people determine if spending more money to save more lives or prevent more injuries is worth it. Do you drive the safest model car there is on the market? Most people do not, because the safest cars are expensive. By not driving the safest car possible you have essentially decided what your own life and the life of any passengers are worth. Now, don’t put words in my mouth. Life is extremely valuable. One death is one too many. Is a life worth freedom? is a life worth safty? how about stabilization of a region? Bush did not come to the decision to go to war over night. Hundreds of advisers wrote risk assessments of the situation so that Bush could weigh the cost and benefits of going to war.

Generally speaking, the only just goal for war is peace; since we were already at peace with Iraq and no Iraqi strike of any kind was imminent, war was not justified.

So I guess our own Revolutionary War was unjust. Or even war against Germany in WWI or WWII who was not imminently going to attack us was unjust.

The problem is that the US started a battle that had very little relevance to the war (that is, Iraq had little to do with the war on terror).

I think there are a great number of people that would disagree with you. Specifically I can think of the Israelis.

So, with regards to Darfur (since that's what I was discussing), where is American military might? Where is the omnipotent US military when the people of Darfur need it?

Since when have we ever gone on a mercy mission and not been under the UN flag? You assume that we would step in by ourselves under the American flag alone if Iraq war had not happened. I can not think of precedence for your assumption.

The thoughts of Joecrazy on 2 March 2005 - 11:26 Central
+ + + + +

OH, darn. I didn't refresh. I read your post before class and replied after class. Wilson you need to have an edit function. Now my post is way off topic. Bahh. Sry.

The thoughts of Joecrazy on 2 March 2005 - 11:38 Central
+ + + + +

Thanks.

The thoughts of Bill on 2 March 2005 - 11:52 Central
+ + + + +

Now my post is way off topic. Bahh. Sry.

No problem. It isn't really off-topic at all, since you're responding to the remarks I made to you.

How could this be a legitimate long term approach to nuclear arms? Eventually every nation would have nukes. Are we to threaten every nation with Armageddon?

Every nation that has nuclear arms, yes. That's why we still keep nuclear arms even after the fall of the Soviet Union. It's not a pretty prospect at all, I agree; that's why we do take steps to limit proliferation. In general, however, I do not believe that proliferation can be prevented by invading nations that already have WMD (which is what we believed was the case in Iraq); when we invade a nation that is not actually preparing to attack, we make it very likely that it will use its WMD in desperation or that its weapons will disappear onto the black market somewhere (if Saddam had WMD after all, it is quite likely that some of this weaponry is now in the hands of independent terrorists).

Ok, so war is not about costs and benefits, but then you judge Bush’s decision based on the costs and benefits of that war. Life does have its price. Calling life priceless is no more then romantic foolishness.

I apologize if I seemed to call your respect for life into question; I did not intend to do so. I merely meant to observe that when a nation initiates a war, that nation must be prepared to justify its aggression in terms other than its own "interests." If we had been responding to aggression by Iraq, the situation would have been different; if we had found a way under international law to invade Iraq for humanitarian reasons, it would also have been different.

So I guess our own Revolutionary War was unjust. Or even war against Germany in WWI or WWII who was not imminently going to attack us was unjust.

Not at all. In the case of the American War for Independence, there is a case to be made for the idea that Britain declared war on us first. Even apart from that, the US did not simply go to war; it established a legitimate government through legitimate means and then defended that government against attack. In World War I, the United States went to war as an ally of nations that had already been attacked by other nations. In World War II, the United States went to war only after being attacked by Japan and after Germany also declared war on us. (Some people still debate whether or not we would have attacked Germany after the bombing of Pearl Harbor if Germany had not joined Japan in declaring war on us, even though Germany was an ally of Japan.)

The US did not make a legal case for invading Iraq on the basis of Saddam's human rights abuses; the US made a legal case for the invasion on the basis of banned weapons (and Saddam's refusal to cooperate with UN mandates regarding inspections). Unfortunately for our legal case, however, UN weapons inspectors were actually in Iraq, and were asking the US to give them more time to search for WMD, when the US invaded. The fact that US inspection teams have failed to find WMD even with the entire country under US control is evidence that the US should have waited. Saddam was not being especially cooperative, but the US decision to invade was still unwise, given the fact that UN inspectors were still active within the country at the time.

I think there are a great number of people that would disagree with you [about Iraq's relevence to the war on terror]. Specifically I can think of the Israelis.

Iraqi connections with international terrorism have been slight for several years. Even where Israel is concerned, Iraq did nothing that some of our allies did not. Meanwhile, as I argue in this post (based on the statements of the CIA director, actually), Iraq is far more likely to be a source of terrorism today than it was before the invasion.

You assume that we would step in [to Darfur] by ourselves under the American flag alone if Iraq war had not happened. I can not think of precedence for your assumption.

I think you misinterpret my remarks. I do not mean to suggest anything of the kind; actually, I am suggesting the opposite. In contrast to your statement that "attacks on our military might will not be made lightly," I was trying to point out that American military might does not enable our government to do everything we would like. Specifically, the exercise of American military power in Iraq has actually made it difficult for us to do anything (diplomatically or militarily) in Darfur; in other words, "moral" authority can be even more important than military authority in accomplishing our goals around the world.

The thoughts of Wilson on 2 March 2005 - 14:23 Central
+ + + + +

current positive trends in the Middle East began before the invasion of Iraq.

True Middle Eastern people have heard of democracy before invasion of Iraq. The recent success in Iraqi elections has acted as a catalyst to these other nations. Is it coincidental that peaceful public demonstrations have happened in these nations only after the recent Iraqi elections? Traditionally Middle Eastern nations have played by the Hama rules. Why didn’t they forcefully put down these uprisings? I don’t think the situation in Iraq created the urge for democracy but it did embolden it.

The US did not make a legal case for invading Iraq on the basis of Saddam's human rights abuses;

That is not exactly true. The legal case made to the UN focused on WMDs but also included Iraq’s shooting at UN forces (American) that enforced the no-fly zone and humanitarian issues among other things. The case did not fail in the UN because of its validity. Any one of these issues alone would be enough for “legal” war. The problem was that the case made to the general public to garner support for the war was exclusively WMDs.


UN weapons inspectors were actually in Iraq, and were asking the US to give them more time to search for WMD, when the US invaded.

Inspectors had over a decade to find these weapons. They were not going to get any new information by delaying another month/year/decade.

The fact that US inspection teams have failed to find WMD even with the entire country under US control is evidence that the US should have waited.

Actually I think that is quite the opposite. I think Bush waited too long. Last week I spoke to maintenance guy that worked on the Global Hawk leading up to and after the invasion took place. He said that they were hiding things all over the place in Iraq. I ask did they have WMDs. He said why not there wasn’t a covered truck left in Iraq because they all went to Syria and Iran. I think that if we invaded faster, some of those trucks could have been caught.

I would have to agree that it is not all peaches and cream because the US invaded Iraq. Iraq has a long way to go before I consider it a success. I just think that the good that has already happened should be considered before rendering a verdict of thumbs up or thumbs down on Bush’s decision.

The thoughts of Joecrazy on 2 March 2005 - 17:03 Central
+ + + + +

The recent success in Iraqi elections has acted as a catalyst to these other nations. Is it coincidental that peaceful public demonstrations have happened in these nations only after the recent Iraqi elections? Traditionally Middle Eastern nations have played by the Hama rules. Why didn’t they forcefully put down these uprisings?

Considering that "Hama rules" is Thomas Friedman's description of the recent (possibly Syrian) assassination of a Lebanese statesman, it seems premature to speak of peacefulness. Furthermore, authoritarian governments often decide, after a certain point, that violent supression of dissent is too dangerous for them; the USSR made that decision in the 1980s, China made that decision a couple of years ago when 100,000 people took to the streets of Hong Kong, and Syria may be doing it now. So yes, unless there is specific evidence that Syria is holding back because of the elections in Iraq, it could easily be a coincidence.

The legal case made to the UN focused on WMDs but also included Iraq’s shooting at UN forces (American) that enforced the no-fly zone and humanitarian issues among other things. The case did not fail in the UN because of its validity.

But the determination that invasion should actually occur was not made because of pot shots at American planes or killings of Kurds. The legal trigger for the invasion was Saddam's slowness in allowing access to his facilities.

Inspectors had over a decade to find these weapons. They were not going to get any new information by delaying another month/year/decade.

The inspectors knew where Saddam's weapons were for years. Then they were expelled from the country. Then, under threat of invasion, they were readmitted to examine Saddam's facilities for signs of banned weapons development. They were still there, examining Saddam's facilities according to their mandate, when Bush announced that they should leave because the invasion was going to occur.

I think Bush waited too long. Last week I spoke to maintenance guy that worked on the Global Hawk leading up to and after the invasion took place. He said that they were hiding things all over the place in Iraq. I ask did they have WMDs. He said why not there wasn’t a covered truck left in Iraq because they all went to Syria and Iran. I think that if we invaded faster, some of those trucks could have been caught.

First, if Saddam had the weapons we claimed, why didn't he use any of them when we invaded? Why would anyone hide his most powerful weapons during an invasion? Second, the Iraq Survey Group did not merely look for weapons; it interviewed scientists and examined factories and storage sites for evidence of WMD production. The group's findings indicate that the WMD programs we said were in operation had been dormant or dismantled for years; according to the key findings of the group's final report, "Saddam wanted to recreate Iraq's WMD capability--which was essentially destroyed in 1991--after sanctions were removed and Iraq's economy stabilized, but probably with a different mix of capabilities to that which previously existed."

Even if Saddam had WMD but got rid of it instead of using it, though, your point--that WMD could have been transported out of the country--reinforces my belief that invasion is generally not a wise way to prevent proliferation.

I just think that the good that has already happened should be considered before rendering a verdict of thumbs up or thumbs down on Bush’s decision.

I agree that there is a lot we won't know for sure for several more years. However, I think it is appropriate to track the consequences of the invasion as they become clear. For example, I noted in the post I linked that DCI Goss has warned that Iraq is currently a terrorism petri dish: "Those jihadists who survive will leave Iraq experienced in and focused on acts of urban terrorism. They represent a potential pool of contacts to build transnational terrorist cells, groups and networks." I think it was legitimate for me to note that this has occurred. Likewise, it was legitimate to note that some observers believe the US is currently in a much worse position to exercise authority in the Darfur situation than it would be if the Iraq invasion had not occurred.

The thoughts of Wilson on 2 March 2005 - 18:19 Central
+ + + + +