Sunday, December 11, 2005

The Case For War I: So It Wasn't WMDs? 

Normally I don't respond to comments, but this one set me off because I see it repeated all the time and as far as I'm concerned it's a crock:

"...when you go to war under shady circumstances..."

The persistence of this tired meme is testimony to the heroic efforts of men like Kedwards, who never met an idea that they weren't wholeheartedly foregainst. Who else but the Fab Hair Duo could, in what David Brooks once called an astonishing display of Post-Cartesian Multivariate Co-directionality, number themselves amongst the only 4 Senators who voted for the Congressional Resolution to authorize the use of force, but against the $87 Billion Appropriations Bill to equip the troops. That Kerry followed up this amazing volte-face by accusing the President of not supplying the troops adequately during the campaign only made his behavior more despicable.

Sadly, neither yoga classes, nor liberal quantities of the admirable fume blanc the Spousal Unit generally tries to anaesthatize me with, have managed to inure me to the steady stream of Rampant DimWittery emanating from my TV screen as this, that, and the other Democratic Senator or Representative takes a page out of Sally Jessy Raphael and comes clean on national television with a hand-wringing declaration of how they were tragically led down the primrose path to war. But there is no morning-after pill for regrettable votes taken in the heat of passion and repented in the unforgiving light of dawn, when Dick Cheney doesn't return your phone calls and the cold-hearted putz doesn't even have the grace to send you flowers.

Since it's been about six months since I ranted on this issue, it's about time for another round. Let's take another look at the reasons Congress found sufficient for authorizing the use of force. In light of the statements by all too many Democrats saying that the adminstration's case relied too heavily on the "imminent threat" of WMDs, on faulty or even intentionally manipulated intelligence (a charge, by the way, that is contradicted by the Senate's own investigation into this very question), or that the administration failed to make other arguments for going to war, I think you might find this little document extremely enlightening:

Congressional Resolution on Iraq (Passed by House and Senate October 2002)
Joint Resolution to Authorize the use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq.

Whereas in 1990 in response to Iraq's war of aggression against and illegal occupation of Kuwait, the United States forged a coalition of nations to liberate Kuwait and its people in order to defend the national security of the United States and enforce United Nations Security Council resolutions relating to Iraq;

Whereas after the liberation of Kuwait in 1991, Iraq entered into a United Nations sponsored cease-fire agreement pursuant to which Iraq unequivocally agreed, among other things, to eliminate its nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons programs and the means to deliver and develop them, and to end its support for international terrorism;

Whereas Iraq, in direct and flagrant violation of the cease-fire, attempted to thwart the efforts of weapons inspectors to identify and destroy Iraq's weapons of mass destruction stockpiles and development capabilities, which finally resulted in the withdrawal of inspectors from Iraq on October 31, 1998;

Whereas in 1998 Congress concluded that Iraq's continuing weapons of mass destruction programs threatened vital United States interests and international peace and security, declared Iraq to be in `material and unacceptable breach of its international obligations' and urged the President `to take appropriate action, in accordance with the Constitution and relevant laws of the United States, to bring Iraq into compliance with its international obligations' (Public Law 105-235);

Whereas Iraq both poses a continuing threat to the national security of the United States and international peace and security in the Persian Gulf region and remains in material an unacceptable breach of its international obligations by, among other things, continuing to possess and develop a significant chemical and biological weapons capability, actively seeking a nuclear weapons capability, and supporting and harboring terrorist organizations;

Whereas Iraq persists in violating resolutions of the United Nations Security Council by continuing to engage in brutal repression of its civilian population thereby threatening international peace and security in the region, by refusing to release, repatriate, or account for non-Iraqi citizens wrongfully detained by Iraq, including an American serviceman, and by failing to return property wrongfully seized by Iraq from Kuwait;

Whereas the current Iraqi regime has demonstrated its capability and willingness to use weapons of mass destruction against other nations and its own people;

Whereas the current Iraqi regime has demonstrated its continuing hostility toward, and willingness to attack, the United States, including by attempting in 1993 to assassinate former President Bush and by firing on many thousands of occasions on United States and Coalition Armed Forces engaged in enforcing the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council;

Whereas members of al-Qaida, an organization bearing responsibility for attacks on the United States, its citizens, and interests, including the attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, are known to be in Iraq;

Whereas Iraq continues to aid and harbor other international terrorist organizations, including organizations that threaten the lives and safety of American citizens;

Whereas the attacks on the United States of September 11, 2001, underscored the gravity of the threat posed by the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction by international terrorist organizations;

Whereas Iraq's demonstrated capability and willingness to use weapons of mass destruction, the risk that the current Iraqi regime will either employ those weapons to launch a surprise attack against the United States or its Armed Forces or provide them to international terrorists who would do so, and the extreme magnitude of harm that would result to the United States and its citizens from such an attack, combine to justify action by the United States to defend itself;

Whereas United Nations Security Council Resolution 678 authorizes the use of all necessary means to enforce United Nations Security Council Resolution 660 and subsequent relevant resolutions and to compel Iraq to cease certain activities that threaten international peace and security, including the development of weapons of mass destruction and refusal or obstruction of United Nations weapons inspections in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 687, repression of its civilian population in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 688, and threatening its neighbors or United Nations operations in Iraq in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 949;

Whereas Congress in the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution (Public Law 102-1) has authorized the President `to use United States Armed Forces pursuant to United Nations Security Council Resolution 678 (1990) in order to achieve implementation of Security Council Resolutions 660, 661, 662, 664, 665, 666, 667, 669, 670, 674, and 677'

Whereas in December 1991, Congress expressed its sense that it `supports the use of all necessary means to achieve the goals of United Nations Security Council Resolution 687 as being consistent with the Authorization of Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution (Public Law 102-1),' that Iraq's repression of its civilian population violates United Nations Security Council Resolution 688 and `constitutes a continuing threat to the peace, security, and stability of the Persian Gulf region,' and that Congress, `supports the use of all necessary means to achieve the goals of United Nations Security Council Resolution 688';

Whereas the Iraq Liberation Act (Public Law 105-338) expressed the sense of Congress that it should be the policy of the United States to support efforts to remove from power the current Iraqi regime and promote the emergence of a democratic government to replace that regime;

Whereas the United States is determined to prosecute the war on terrorism and Iraq's ongoing support for international terrorist groups combined with its development of weapons of mass destruction in direct violation of its obligations under the 1991 cease-fire and other United Nations Security Council resolutions make clear that it is in the national security interests of the United States and in furtherance of the war on terrorism that all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions be enforced, including through the use of force if necessary;

Whereas Congress has taken steps to pursue vigorously the war on terrorism through the provision of authorities and funding requested by the President to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations or persons who planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such persons or organizations;

Whereas the President and Congress are determined to continue to take all appropriate actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations or persons who planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such persons or organizations;

Whereas the President has authority under the Constitution to take action in order to deter and prevent acts of international terrorism against the United States, as Congress recognized in the joint resolution on Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40); and

Whereas it is in the national security of the United States to restore international peace and security to the Persian Gulf region: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled

Congressional Democrats who regret their votes and claim they were "misled" into voting to use force should be confronted with what they actually voted on: Saddam Hussein's damning 12-year history of willful defiance of UN resolutions, repeated aggression against his neighbors, two-time use of weapons of mass destruction against Iran and Halabja, repeated firing on planes enforcing the no-fly zone, ejection of UN weapons inspectors, and refusal to confirm that he had, in fact, disarmed as required under the terms of the 1991 cease-fire agreement.

How long was the world required to wait? How many times was Saddam allowed to fire on American planes? How many terrorists was Saddam allowed to fund and harbor, for men like John Kerry to conclude that the threat he posed was "contained"?

I suppose, if you are John Kerry (who voted against the resolution to defend Kuwait in 1991) or John Edwards, your infinitely flexible moral compass finds the prospect of mass graves, so long as they do not spill across Iraq's borders, to be a threat which is sufficiently "contained". We know this because they now tell us they regret their votes.

I believe they think most of the American public is too apathetic to read the Congressional Resolution and find out that the vast majority of the reasoning in it had more to do with Iraq's past human rights violations, aggression against its neighbors, documented use of WMDs, and continuing defiance of the 1991 cease fire and multiple UN resolutions than it did with the issue of WMDs.

Given the comments I keep seeing on this and other forums, I believe they are correct in that assessment. And that says a lot about us as a nation.

[UPDATE by TigerHawk: Moved to the top for Sunday]


By Blogger TigerHawk, at Sun Dec 11, 11:49:00 AM:

Well. You obviously put your morning to much better use than I did!

Great work, though. The Cold Feet Democrats have never yet taken a principled position on the question of Iraq. Each time, they have carefully voted in accordance to their own estimation of the impact their vote will have on their political fortunes. There is not a shred of evidence that they actually think about American grand strategy, or care about its substance. They care only about pandering to the constituency that they think is most important at the moment. In this regard, the Cold Feet Democrats -- while useful if you can get them to vote your way -- are more despicable than the persistent doves (Dean and Kennedy) who have at least been saying the same thing all along. In the case of Dean, this has not been without a willingness to take political risks. That does not make him any less wrong, but at least he seems to believe in his position.  

By Blogger sirius_sir, at Sun Dec 11, 01:19:00 PM:

I must confess that I had never before seen (and so, obviously, had never read) the 2002 Congressional Resolution to Authorize force in Iraq.

Thank you, Cassandra. This posting is a great service to me and, I'm sure, others.  

By Blogger Catchy Pseudonym, at Sun Dec 11, 02:29:00 PM:

Wow, I wish I had the time to write something like that and work so hard at being clever. Well done. But I'll sum up my response, blah blah blah... I've heard this before.

I find it funny that the one thing that Bush used to really pimp his war to the America public is so casually dismissed by war supporters as unimportant now. Do you think he could have sold this war to America with a UN resolution. I don't. Yea, the big question is "Where is the WMDs?" Don't avoid it. Answer it. What happened to the showboat of his war justifications? With Powell holding up a bottle of Anthrax. Very dramatic, very convincing. Where the hell are the WMDs? Since we couldn't find them, it makes me wonder why Bush rushed so fast to war and wouldn't let the inspectors time to convince the rest of the world of the existence or non-existence of these weapons? Did he know we wouldn't find them? Why did Bush changed the ways he references the reasons for going to war? Was it to stop an immediate threat to the US or to spread the democracy? Why has there been such a stink over the quality of intelligence. Why has it been so hard to prove an Al Qaeda link to Iraq.

A justification for war shouldn't read like legal papers for tax fraud. People want a straight-forward reasons and WMD was that reason and it ended up being a pile of crap. The mmajority of the American public supported Afganistan, why not Iraq? I don't care if Democrats senators voted for the war or not, Bush used WMD to sell it to the American public. If you don't see why people are suspicious of the reasons for this war, you're making a concerted effort not to see it.

But I'm sure my words will have the same level of impact on your opinion as yours did on mine.  

By Blogger Final Historian, at Sun Dec 11, 03:34:00 PM:

We rused to war because we wanted to avoid the Iraqi summer heat.

As for the WMDs... well, pretty much every nation except Russia agreed that Iraq had something. And I haven't trusted Russia since Putin came to power.  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Sun Dec 11, 04:26:00 PM:

*sighs* I hate it when this happens. Since I can't just tell people what I want to tell them, I'll reference open source items and use a socratic method to try to get the idea across. If you're smart enough to figure it out from what I say here, hurray. If not, well, you're not going to be satisfied for a LONG time till this stuff is declassified.

The intelligence on Iraqi WMD was accurate. It was also wrong. If that seems oxymoronic, it's because it is. Paradoxical, really, since it made some sense in retrospect.

The President may have ignored evidence that there were no WMDs because they had a top-level source with top-level access that spoke with absolute certainty who said otherwise.

Remember the Army being nervous about a Red Zone around Baghdad where the Iraqis were ordered to begin using chemical weapons on them?

Remember the huge quantities of atropine and other anti-chemical warfare gear discovered by US personnel in Iraqi depots shown on TV by embedded reporters?

Fact: The pre-war US Intelligence was persuasive enough to convince even the French of its authenticity. This implies high level Signals or Human Intelligence, probably also with supporting physical and evidence and imagery.

The knee-jerk leftist reaction to this ("Bush lied to them!") doesn't hold water for this reason: You think that the foreign heads of state and intelligence agencies who heard it never took that possibility into account? You think they didn't check facts, compare voice tracks, and cross-reference with other sources? Do you think that WE would just accept at face value a Chinese claim that Taiwan had chemical weapons to justify an invasion there?

Fact: That so-called Red Zone zone existed, and that order to bombard the US Forces with chemical weaponry was given.

Fact: The Iraqi Army was distributed proper equipment to carry on operations in a chemical environment.

Fact: The Iraqi state was highly dysfunctional.

Why would the Iraqis be ordered to use chemical weapons against us, and given the proper equipment to do so safely, if they didn't have any chemical weapons?

Since I have no intention of being arrested, I'll stop there. I hope some of you get it.  

By Blogger TigerHawk, at Sun Dec 11, 04:29:00 PM:

Final H: We rused to war? Isn't that exactly what Catchy argued? ;)

Catchy: Sigh. In more than a year of reading TigerHawk, have we not absorbed a thing? There were many reasons why it was in our interests to take down Saddam's regime, some (but not all) of which were articulated in the Congressional resolution authorizing the war. As you well know, there were other reasons for invading Iraq that were not articulated by the United States government but which were widely discussed among policy wonks and have been set forth here in countless posts. You might argue that these reasons were not valid or well thought through, but you cannot deny them.

Now, if your point is that the Bush administration rested its legal case in Iraq's violations of UNSC resolutions, primarily with regard to WMD, I would agree with you. Generally speaking, that legal case was valid and remains valid. It has been discredited among the shallow and the disingenuous by the post-war failure to discover "stockpiles" of WMD, but it is crystal clear that Saddam remained in violation of UNSC resolutions and that, therefore, a casis belli existed (as Cassandra so ably demonstrates).

Now, why did Bush emphasize the WMD in his legal case for the war? Was it, as you suggest, to "pimp his war to the American public," or do you think there was a better motivation? Surely, if as you suggest, the whole reason was to dupe the American public, he had to know it would be politically costly once the jig was up. Don't you think it more likely that Bush emphasized this point because Tony Blair needed UN approval (or an "unreasonable veto") for domestic political reasons? Post 9/11, the American public would have accepted any number of rationales for the war, including irrefutable ones. Bush offered those. However, he also had to build a legal case because he needed Blair and Blair needed at least the acquiescence of the British center-left. The British center-left was not going to support the war without UN support, so Bush had to go to the UN. Had there been a convenient way to whisper to the American public that "this UNSC resolution stuff is just bullshit, we need to take out Saddam for deeper geopolitical reasons," and not suffer blowback in Britain and elsewhere, I'm sure that Bush would have done it. In fact, considering the amount of conservative commentary to that effect both before the war and since, one need not be too nuanced to see that in fact the Bush White House was doing exactly that.  

By Blogger Cassandra, at Sun Dec 11, 05:46:00 PM:

Catchy, you missed the entire point of my post.

First of all, I happen to be one of those who don't believe it has been proved that "there are no WMDs".

The amount of WMDs we're talking about can easily have been manufactured in a facility the size of a meth lab.

Iraq is about the size of California.

Now I have a few questions for you:

1. How many undiscovered meth labs do you think there are in the state of California?

2. If even ONE meth lab goes undiscovered, does that mean there is no such thing as methamphetamine in California?

3. Unless the answer to #2 is absolutely and unequivocally YES (and it defies all logic that it would be) then how can you possibly maintain that it has been "proven" that there were no WMDs, especially in light of the link I cited (which you obviously did not click on) from the Duelfer Report which said he could not rule out the possibility that there WERE WMDs and they were simply taken out of the country?

I, too, do not expect an answer because I never get an answer to this question when I ask it. That is the difference between me and you.

I will admit there is a possibility I am wrong. You, on the other hand, on a lack of evidence, will not admit that there is a possibility that you are wrong.

If I cannot locate my housekeys, that is not "proof" that they have ceased to exist. It is suggestive, but it is not "proof". Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

And sometimes life isn't "straightforward" - it is confusing and unclear. Grownups are able to deal with that reality. Children want comforting myths that are simple and easy to swallow.

Leaders don't get to deal in myths though - they have to deal with reality and make decisions with uncertain information, knowing that whatever they do, shallow people who haven't really bothered to think all the permutations through will second-guess every thing they do in the blinding glare of hindsight.

As we're seeing today.  

By Blogger Cassandra, at Sun Dec 11, 05:48:00 PM:

Oh, and I'm sorry I ranted again, TH.

I am really getting a bee in my bonnet about this. But it was better than throwing my newspaper across the room. Blame my husband and his Mimosas...  

By Blogger TigerHawk, at Sun Dec 11, 06:10:00 PM:

No way it was the Mimosas! You get pissed off during the week at 5 a.m. all the dern the time.  

By Blogger Gordon Smith, at Sun Dec 11, 11:13:00 PM:


Your WMD line of reasoning is unusual. By this argument nothing can be said not to exist.

I have a purple monkey in my butt.

Good luck proving I don't.

Best not to keep repeating this argument, Cassandra. It damages your credibility.

But I dig the living off the grid and the gravel road and all that.

The vast majority of Americans who don't get information beyond their radio or television news heard George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and the whole right wing noise machine talking primarily about WMD and the Al Qaeda - Saddam nexus. The Bush people knew the AQ-Saddam evidence was flimsy. They knew that "Saddam's a bad fella, and it's not enough that he's crippled and contained" wasn't going to serve as a good enough rationale, so they went full bore with the WMD, scare the people into assent, verge of destruction, hysteria building.

The bigger picture here is that the neocons in the administration, having been working towards a Middle East strategy since the Nixon years that involved military intervention, saw an opportunity to go into Iraq and try to enact the Project for a New American Century's plan.

It wasn't about WMD. It wasn't about AQ/Saddam. It wasn't about that bad, bad man Saddam who Rumsfeld, Cheney, etc. coddled throughout the Reagan years. It wasn't about Freedom Being On The March. It was about Western power and control over the region.

It's still about that, and I'm so sorry when I see the lines being repeated, the lines that will lead us into the next invasion, and the next one, and the one after that.

Be a grown up. Death happens. War happens. Better us than them. They hate our freedom.

Bullshit, Cass. It's maladaptive to propose that war is a permanent feature that we either must adopt or be trampled under the feet of those who believe it is an excellent strategy for reforming the eastern world.

Cooperation is a much better strategy for security and stability, and the Bush administration has thrown away the United States' good name in the world arena. By flailing about like the 800 pound gorilla, he's managed to make the world even less safe. It's bad enough to have lunatics like the Islamic fundamentalists who drive international terrorism without throwing up the ideal counterpart - a fundamentalist ideologue who believes in naked power politics and who is willing to turn America's leadership in the world into a negative.

The invasion shouldn't ever have happened. We were lied to about the real reasoning behind the invasion. We were lied to about the post invasion scenarios.

I think you're a patriot, Cassandra, and it seems that you truly want to protect America. But buying into the notion that security can be gained through domination stinks of fear, and fear is not the motive our nation ought to live by.

Generosity, trust, patience, resolve, temperance, and justice, these are the values America ought to be pursuing.

Thanks, as always, for the forum. This is the only place on the right that guys like Catchy and I can have a conversation without having our heads explode...except when Cardinalpark posts...  

By Blogger sirius_sir, at Sun Dec 11, 11:32:00 PM:

Leaders... have to deal with reality and make decisions with uncertain information, knowing that whatever they do, shallow people who haven't really bothered to think all the permutations through will second-guess every thing they do in the blinding glare of hindsight.

Cassandra, that's a great point. In light of all the criticism over the failure to find WMD, one has to wonder what the reaction would have been had our forces actually encountered them in battle. I can well imagine some of today's most vocal critics criticizing in a completely different vein, something like: "Bush KNEW Saddam had WMD and yet he still rushed us into this stupid war. Look at all the people he's killed."

We had Saddam nearly crippled and safely contained, after all, and should have just maintained the status quo, given peace a chance, been more patient, let the inspectors do their jobs, waited for the sanctions work, imposed a few more UN resolutions...  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Mon Dec 12, 03:44:00 AM:

"Bullshit, Cass. It's maladaptive to propose that war is a permanent feature that we either must adopt or be trampled under the feet of those who believe it is an excellent strategy for reforming the eastern world. Cooperation is a much better strategy for security and stability, and the Bush administration has...."


Utopian rubbish.

Melian Dialogue:

Realist Theory:

Book by same guy:

Interaction of Great Powers:

Prisoner's Dilemma Game Theory:

Do you really think that you're the first group of people to think that war is a bad idea? Original reformists with a new vision of humanity? Pacifistic and cooperative ideals have been attempted and have failed before, because of the inherently competetive nature of the human species.

Simple explanation: Let's ignore the fact that orderly societies are founded on violence and the threat of violence. Let's pretend that every nation of the world disarms itself and tries to live in peace and harmony. No standing armies, minimal police forces, just enough to get the job done of maintaining domestic tranquility.

Now, with everyone disarmed, how much power and influence would a nation have if it re-armed? Much more, right? It sure is tempting to almost effortlessly become the big boy on the block. And how would anyone stop them? You have no weapons. Neither does anyone else, so no one can protect you even if they were so inclined. So either you arm yourself, or you are at their mercy. Well, the neighbors see you and the original actor arm and suddenly they feel out in the cold. They either arm themselves, or become a client of one of the two actors with teeth. See the logic?

Even ignoring specific political issues and ties, competition for resources, and other factors in more advanced versions of IR theory, power politics lies at the root of the international system, based on the fundamental concept of self-preservation.

"The invasion shouldn't ever have happened. We were lied to about the real reasoning behind the invasion. We were lied to about the post invasion scenarios."

You didn't even bother to read my post above, did you?

"They hate our freedom."

Well, they do.  

By Blogger Cassandra, at Mon Dec 12, 05:44:00 AM:

Your WMD line of reasoning is unusual. By this argument nothing can be said not to exist.

You are not terribly tuned to subtleties, are you?


By this argument alone, you cannot PROVE a thing does not exist.

Even a six month old baby flashes on this fact. This is why "peek-a-boo" is one of the first games infants learn (and love) to play with their parents. They quickly pick up on the idea that an unseen thing is still there.

And by your argument, anything that, for the moment, cannot be found can be "proven" not to exist.

Which is pretty damn dumb if you stop and think about it for a second, which you obviously have not done.

Have you ever lost an important document - a bill, or a household record - and then had it 'turn up' weeks or months later, after you had searched what you thought was every single place in your house or office?

How can this be? By your rule, it "ceased to exist" after all 'reasonable' efforts to find it had been exhausted and magically "reappeared" when you found it.

It's magic!!!! Whoopie!!!!

Again, you are not at all tuned to subtlety. I am not saying definitively that WMDs are in Iraq. I cannot say such a thing because I lack proof. They could easily be, because by the admission of the Survey Group, THEY DID NOT SEARCH ALL OF THE SITES ON THEIR LIST. An interesting fact.

Now if you lost your keys and only searched 1/2 of your house, would you then conclude they had ceased to exist? Somehow, I get the feeling you would.

You, on the other hand, assert as a proven fact that there are and never have been any WMDs in Iraq. And I assert that you lack proof because:

- all the suspected sites were never searched
- there is evidence they may have been moved prior to the war (cited in Duelfer
- they don't have to have been manufactured in any of the suspected sites (i.e., there could be a site we don't know about)

So even though this makes you uncomfortable (and your reflexive rejection of any idea that makes you uncomfortable seems to be a recurring theme here), it appears to be quite possible that the truth is more complicated than a simple, comforting "Gosh - We can't find WMDs after looking in only part of the country, so we have proven they don't - and never did - exist. How convenient! We can all relax!)

That you find this ridiculous is more evidence that you have not really thought this matter through carefully, than anything else.

Personally, I don't really give a damn if there are WMDs or not. I just think it unwise to be so cavalier about the possibility that they exist.  

By Blogger Cassandra, at Mon Dec 12, 06:07:00 AM:


I like being able to discuss things with people who disagree with me, and I'm glad we can engage on this and other subjects.

I may get heated at times because I believe passionately in my position. And because this is painful for me, as I'm sure it is for you. I'm not waiving the flag here - you know my husband is a Marine. I have to live with the cost of my beliefs, as we all do, but if you support this war, seeing the cost can be unbelievably hard at times. It's just that I'm very much aware that people were dying by the scores even before the war. I just was blissfully unaware of it. It doesn't help much. Some days, it helps a little.

No, to be 100% honest, I will tell you something. I don't think Bush could have sold the war without the threat of WMDs.

But unlike you, I believe, and continue to believe he thought that threat was real.

Unlike you, I believe, and continue to believe that this threat WAS indeed real. It may not have been imminent (and I don't want to get into that debate, but I don't believe the main thrust of the argument was that it *was*), but Saddam's repeated use of WMDs proved he had them and had the will to use them.

His support, ties to, and training and financing of terrorist organizations, combined with his known willingness to use WMDs, made him a serious threat to both regional and global security.

His prior attempt to assassinate the President of United States in 1993 (in KUWAIT, not Iraq) proved that he was not afraid to strike out at the United States of America. IT ALSO PROVED THAT THE THREAT HE POSED TO THE US WAS NOT "CONTAINED" BY UN SANCTIONS. IT ALSO PLACED HIM IN CLEAR VIOLATION OF THE CEASE FIRE, AS DID HIS FIRING ON US PLANES IN THE NO-FLY ZONE.

After 9/11, to try to take out Osama Bin Laden and leave Saddam Hussein, arguably a larger threat, free to act or even to provide a safe haven for fleeing al Qaeda units from Afghanistan (as indeed happened when we invaded that country) was sheer madness. When you go after one rat, you don't leave the other rat holes unstopped. Don't forget that Saddam provided a safe haven for the man who planned and carried out the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center.

Do you ever think about that? Do you ever wonder about it? Or question the timing in conjunction with Saddam's attack on Bush I?

You should. A lot of people should.  

By Blogger Catchy Pseudonym, at Mon Dec 12, 09:27:00 AM:

Lord, you are one condescending woman Cassandra. It must be lonely up there on Mnt. Knowitall. I think you missed the point of your own post. There seems to be a lot of that on this blog. Not to mention missing the point of my previous comment.

I believe that there's a difference between "making decisions with uncertain information" and using this uncertain information to covince Americans to make a military move they weren't too sure they needed. Maybe it was wrong for me to think that our government would manipulate intelligence or lie to start a war. They've never lied before, so I should have just taken their word for it.

Regardless of how you personally feel about WMDs, a large chunk of the world and the American population view the start of this war as happening under shady circumstances. Combine that with running the war like a moron (which no one has argued against) this leads to people speaking out agaist the war, which was my point in the earlier post where you quoted me. I guess if I had put "perceived shadiness" I could have avoided all of this, but probably not.

And don't worry TigerHawk, I have absorbed much over this year. But I have a tendency for knee-jerk reactions to pretentious posts that use a quote from me for a starter. And I have to admit to slipping a little devil's advocate in there just to push back a little. But overall, I don't trust the Bush administration and that influences my view of how they started this war.  

By Blogger Cassandra, at Mon Dec 12, 10:51:00 AM:

Catchy, it is not I who missed the point of my own post, but you.

You answered a post, the entire point of which was to demonstrate that Democratic Congressmen were lying if they say they only voted to authorize the use force b/c of WMDs by saying "I'll sum up my response, blah blah blah... I've heard this before....I don't care if Democrats senators voted for the war or not, Bush used WMD to sell it to the American public. If you don't see why people are suspicious of the reasons for this war, you're making a concerted effort not to see it."

This is not a response to my post. This is moving the goalposts because you don't like what I said.

As to the second part of your comment, if I had wanted to call you out personally, I would have named the post and you, specifically. There was no need to go there.

Intelligence reports are always conflicting and uncertain - that is the nature of the beast. James Woolsey, director of the CIA under Clinton, is very compelling on this issue.

We don't ever have a clear view of current events while we're in the thick of them - we *always* find out more information later that it would have been really nice to know back when we had to make a decision, but life doesn't work that way, and if your standard is going to be that we can't ever make decisions unless we're 100% sure then we're going to get blindsided a lot.

If you accuse the government of misleading the public, that's a whale of a charge. Most people would say you need *evidence* to back up such a charge. But you apparently think you only need your own feelings. That standard won't fly, in a court of law, or by any objective standard of reason or fairness that I am aware of anywhere in the civilized world.

I am astounded that you advance it here. Look, I am very sorry if I upset you, or if I said anything that you perceive as a personal insult. I truly did not mean it that way. We ought to be able to argue a point forcefully with the understanding that we don't have to descend to the level of ad hominems.

One can view an argument or line of reasoning as simplistic without concluding that the person who advances it is a simpleton (and if I thought you were a simpleton Catchy, I'd hardly spend my time engaging you, nor your ideas, would I? Did it ever occur to you that the fact that I responded to your comment was not out of pique so much as out of a genuine desire to engage? You don't do that with someone you despise or condescend to, or at least I don't - I'm far too busy).

And you have pretty much admitted several times that you are unwilling to consider my point of view, so in saying that, I said nothing you had not already admitted openly. Why take offense when I point out what you previously admitted?

People are going to disagree about this stuff. It's even going to get heated at times. It ought to be stipulated in advance that we each have the right to our own opinions.  

By Blogger Cardinalpark, at Mon Dec 12, 10:53:00 AM:

Catchy and Screwy:

You guys should go on holiday together.

Catchy - the war has been run brilliantly by any measurable historical standard. You have no earthly idea what you're talking about. So, by the way, was Afghanistan. Tell me what facts you use to assert your position that war is a failure run by a moron, and then please compare our situation with Iraq with any other war far throughout history. Do that work ok, if it doesn't overly tax your thoroughly bankrupt intellect? Give it a try. Some facts...can you do it? Huh?

You may think Bush is a moron. Fine, whatever. If you're old enough to remember, guys like you thought Reagan was a moron too. Happily, your vote didn't make a difference, then or now. Maybe you were a Carter Mondale kinda guy. Yeah, musta been.

Screwy- as for your argument which dismisses in its entirety Cassandra's factual evidence as to what the vote authorizing force was about, to say Americans are too dumb to understand (which is what you wrote -- take a look again) thoroughly outs you as the fraudulent, elitist pacifist that you are. The American people understand it completely you pompous blowhard. By November 2004, the WMD issue already had currency, and the American people did not turn out the President. Why? They understand the linkages, the vast array of Saddamissues. Shoot, even Clinton/Gore circa '98 got it. You old enough to remember that? Either you don't understand them, don't care, or disagree.

But if you must stare facts in the face and simply ignore them, you will never grow (up). I have two boys. You sound remarkably like them. How old are you?  

By Blogger Catchy Pseudonym, at Mon Dec 12, 11:50:00 AM:

"I have two boys. You sound remarkably like them. How old are you?"... And when I said condescending I think this is what I meant.

"The war has been run brilliantly by any measurable historical standard" Then answer why so many military, government, and I just listened to a Nightline sit-down with mother's of lost soldiers and many (I'd say most) complained about how poorly this war is being run. I just can't believe you'd be serious about that. I think a failure is a continuing insurgency, inability to maintain order, a lack of functioning infrastructure (and after all the time we've been there). The snails-pace of training Iraqi troops. The damage done by Abu Ghraib, paying Iraqi news sources for positive press, white phosphorus.. There's more. I'll get back to you.

Cassandra, I've weathered some harsh verbal beatings from right-wing nuts on this blog and others, so much so that condescending pretentious attitudes are almost pleasant in comparison.

You said"

""...when you go to war under shady circumstances..."

The persistence of this tired meme is testimony to the heroic efforts of men like Kedwards, who never met an idea that they weren't wholeheartedly foregainst."

You moved this "tired meme" into the political realm for your post and argue it from there. That's not where it was when it was originally stated and it's much larger than that. Your point was how wrong the "shady circumsances" statement was and how it doesn't matter about WMD because just look at all the history and UN resolutions and Democratic politicians who also voted for the war. Thus your references. Am I wrong?

My point was WMD was a convenient war cry until it became inconvenient, now it's pishawed and mocked by the same people who used it before the war. I'm not sure if Bush lied, but I wouldn't put it past him. But in truth I haven't decided on that yet, that's something that's kinda of hard to decide on.

As far as my original original statement I meant it more in terms of perception, but my snarkyness and lack of writing skills didn't make it come off that way.

As far as me unwilling to hear your point, that was my snarkyness but it comes from the fact that I have heard all this before and no one ever seems to change their mind, so we just butt heads and continue on our way. In truth, I do consider many things you guys say even if I spend my time arguing instead of agreeing.

Work call or I'd keep writing  

By Blogger Cassandra, at Mon Dec 12, 12:58:00 PM:

...how it doesn't matter about WMD because just look at all the history and UN resolutions and Democratic politicians who also voted for the war.

Yes Catchy, you are wrong. You are putting words into my mouth.

I never, ever made this argument (that it 'doesn't matter about WMDs').

I said, if you will stick to the argument that I *did* make, that it is inaccurate (and profoundly misleading) for Democrats to say they were "misled" into voting for war SOLELY ON THE BASIS OF WMDS when the historical record clearly shows that the case made by Congress was far, far broader than that.

It is inaccurate, and misleading, and dishonest to boot to so argue when the historical record clearly shows (and I clearly remember) a three-pronged argument being made for going to war.

*This matters*. It matters very much because these same people are now re-writing history to erase the other two prongs of the argument and say "If there were no WMDs then there was never a case for war."


Catchy, the truth matters. Talk about "shady". What do you call lying about something that is clearly on the record like that, day after day after day?

Personally, I'd call it "shady".

I don't want to change your mind. I just want you to maybe see how these accusations, which are being made in plain opposition to the historical record, change people's minds, and it's not even based on reality.

If you want to believe what you believe, I can't persuade you. But at least it must be based on a combination of factual evidence and your subjective values.

I have no control whatever over the second.

But the first....

Now the first is where I will fight to the death to try to make a dint, because I think you are a reasonable person, and I am very, very angry when I hear what *some* Democrats are saying.

Because it clearly is not true, Catchy, and I can prove it by simply going back and confronting them with their own votes and the record.

If you want to know what I think, I'll tell you. I don't think the administration should have backed down on the question of whether there were WMDs, but I think it became such a political hot potato that they caved. It remains my biggest disappointment with the Bush White House. I have read an awful lot and hope to post more on this. When I do, you will probably think I'm a total nut job (even more than you do now :).

But at least read it with an open mind. I read stuff from the other side with an open mind. Like you, I'm not always convinced, but I keep a corner of my mind always open to the possibility that I'm wrong :)  

By Blogger Cassandra, at Mon Dec 12, 01:07:00 PM:

And by the way, on the right/left thing:

I have often asked myself how people of good will can so disagree, even looking at the same set of facts.

I think there are a number of explanations, but this one has always made the most sense to me. In the end, it all comes down to what in law is known as a weighing test: we have to decide what our priorities are. That is where the divide comes in, and why I often will not be able to persuade you, nor you, me.

I may weigh security more highly, while you weigh another value. You may discount something I hold to be extremely important, and vice versa, and so we disregard factors the other person sees as key to their decision making process because of our subjective value system.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Dec 12, 01:43:00 PM:

i highly doubt you are going to convince each other of anything, though the debate is interesting.

i just wonder why we were worried about saddam, our good buddy back in the day, when we've supported a host of dictators throughout the world when it was in our "national interest", since the end of world war II.

this whole spreading democracy thing is what sticks in my craw the most.

wanna argue saddam was a bad man and needed removing....ok.

we are going to remove saddam because we need to spread democracy?


By Blogger Cardinalpark, at Mon Dec 12, 03:30:00 PM:


Brilliant and factual response..."so many", "Nightline" and "military moms"...like Cindy Sheehan you mean? They think the war is being run poorly?

"I'll get back to you on that." Show me Catchy your facts. If we're not winning the war, who is? Saddam? Uday? Qusay? Osama?

Ok, so if they're not winning, we are. And whne have we ever won a real live war at a cost of 2-3000 of our people's lives? Hmmm? Wasn't WWII or Korea. Or WWI. Ok, well that's one standard.

So much time? Saddam looted and destroyed his country since 1979. We've been there for not quite 2 years. How do you think Germany and Japan looked in 1947? Or South Korea in 1955? You have the attention span of a gnat if you think we've been there a long time.

I wasn't addressing you when I was talking about my two boys Catchy. I was talking to Screwy. You make my boys seem like Winston Churchill.

And how old are oyu?  

By Blogger Cassandra, at Mon Dec 12, 03:32:00 PM:

Of course not.

Did you read the post? Or any of the links I spent so much time looking up? There's a little law passed in 1998 that made REGIME CHANGE the official policy of the United States of America.

A gaggle of Democratic Senators urged this course on a reluctant Bill Clinton. I looked up the letter online. It makes VERY interesting reading, Anonymous.

And just how did you think regime change with a ruthless dictator who stayed in place for 30+ years by periodically purging everyone close to him would be accomplished?

By politely asking?

Why pass laws you have no intent to enforce? It's an interesting question isn't it?  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Mon Dec 12, 04:18:00 PM:

Man, I feel so alone. I go and spend 30 minutes making a post with relevant quasi-classified information, and everyone ignores me to engage in a political flamewar.

I suddenly feel very sad... like this is a microcosm of how things are in the country at large. Like if the President made public that information, he'd be ignored too because it wouldn't be convenient for the partisans.  

By Blogger Catchy Pseudonym, at Mon Dec 12, 04:58:00 PM:

Cardinalpark, You read the news right? Abu Ghraib, you've heard of that? Car bombs, have you heard of those? How about electricity not working... you undertstand what that means correct? Do I really need to supply links for all those?

You said, "the war has been run brilliantly by any measurable historical standard" that's a pretty bold statement. Where's your link for that or is your word so concrete it requires no link. I guess you don't hold your own statments to the same standard.

Did you even hear the Nighline special? or is it easier to white wash it with "Cindy Sheehan", who by the way, the majority of mothers disagreed with. I've been listening and reading lately opinions from people involved in or directly affected by the war. You should try that, I think you'll be surprised that they're not all thinking everything is spiffo. If you read a paper, something other than Powerline, you might see that many people think things could be done better.

And by the way, don't try to shift things to make it sound like I said we were losing. Nice try. It's a much too complicated scenario over there for a black and white statement like that.

Cassandra I understand what you're saying. I like the bold face growing into ALL CAPTS. For a sec I felt like I was being yelled at. I guess I separate the "sell" of the war between political and public. Politically, yes, that's uncalled for to rewrite the history and there is a written record of it. As far as the sell to the people of America, I think it was more "shady". They dumbed it down to "Poison gas," "immediate threat", "bad people make things go boom" and that's where I have my issues.

Dawnfire I did read your post, so don't dispair. I just got sucked into arguments. I have a limited amount of time so I choose to use it taking on those who are arguing with me. Keep on commenting.  

By Blogger Cassandra, at Mon Dec 12, 08:20:00 PM:

Dawnfire, I'm sorry. I didn't ignore you.

Like Catchy, I simply didn't have time to read and absorb all that right now. I did (if it makes you feel any better) copy it into a Word document at the time and save it on my desktop to read later.

And I will. I just got sidetracked. It's been a long week.  

By Blogger Cassandra, at Mon Dec 12, 08:33:00 PM:

Catchy, I apologize for over-formatting. It's a bad habit.

I do it because I can't stand typing as opposed to talking face to face - you lose all that inflection and (to use a Kerry-ism) 'nuance' you'd get if you were talking, and it drives me nuts. I'm very verbal and I find that most people don't read carefully so I emphasize what is important the same way I would if I were talking. It truly wasn't meant to be obnoxious. I actually appreciate it when people do that because I read reams of stuff every day and my eyes glaze over after a while.

I think you're probably right to a certain extent. You can't 'sell' a complex case as easily to a mass of people as you could to a small crowd or a highly educated crowd - you'll get shouted down or tuned out. That's reality. I don't like it. What do you do about it? I don't know the answer.

I do know this: we have a responsibility as citizens to find out as much as we can. When the "sell" started, I personally said "this is some serious sh*t - I'd better start paying attention".

Why the hell didn't more people do that? Why do they sit in their living rooms saying "The President didn't "sell" me"? That irks me no end. We get the government we deserve. I listened, I weighed, and I thought.

And then I went out and I read. A lot. I wasn't entirely convinced by the (and I depart from you on this) 3-pronged argument I heard. But what I found out too was this: I hadn't really been paying attention to the history of Saddam's violations. What I found out when I read alarmed me very much, and it wasn't on right-wing sites.

I was more leaning against war than for it, and what I learned turned me right around. But just like when I go to the doctor, I didn't put all the responsibility on the government to do the spadework - I got involved. And I have precious little patience for people who whine that they were misled, because the argument was much bigger than WMDs and if they thought it was only that it was because they sat on their butts when this nation was talking about going to war and trusted the administration to tell them Daddy would take care of them.

Well guess what? I voted for Bush. I like the man. But I didn't "trust" him when it came to a matter of national import. My distrust wasn't personal.

It was a matter of policy. Too big a decision to leave to 'trust'.

And that's why I hold these Congressmen in contempt when they make the same argument. They're getting paid to represent us and they have even *less* reason to be trusting, and *more* access to information. Shame on them.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Dec 13, 04:20:00 PM:

Here are two links to follow:

http://schadenfreude.cogitox.com/archives/000243.html - this is a very well-researched article, with links to all of his sources. Here's an excerpt:

"The Iraqi government had imported tons of precursor chemicals, several examples of dual-use equipment, and restored many facilities with known association to WMD research and production. None of this is disputed. Still, we find that many critics balk when these facts are mentioned now that we are in the post-war period. All balking considered, they are still strong indicators of intentions driven by motive. The short answer for motive, in Iraq’s case, is a complex combination of defiance, a desire to become a world power, a borderline paranoid fear of its neighbors, paranoia in general, and cultural factors. "

Once you're done with that long article, take a look at this one, written by a weapons inspector:


"I came into the inspection program as an interrogator and Arabic linguist, so I crossed over various fields and spotted various deception techniques that may not have been noticed in only one field, such as chemical or biological. For instance, the Iraqis would ask in very reasonable tones that questionable documents be set aside until the end of the day, when a discussion would determine what was truly of interest to UNSCOM. The chief inspector, not wanting to appear like a knuckle-dragging ogre, would agree. Instead of setting the documents on a table in a stack, the Iraqis would set them side to side, filling the entire table top, and would place the most explosive documents on the edge of the table. At some point they would flood the room with people, and in the confusion abscond with the revealing documents."

Just let those two documents simmer in your head for awhile...  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Dec 13, 04:43:00 PM:

And lest we forget: www.michaelyon.blogspot.com - just in case you're doubting at the success of our strategy....  

By Blogger Cassandra, at Wed Dec 14, 07:23:00 AM:

There is also the extremely interesting fact that 9 Iraqi scientists who were being interviewed about their work on the program were murdered while the inspectors were "looking" for WMDs after Baghdad fell.

Another whose home was scheduled to be searched suddenly took a 2-week leave of absence and requested that his home not be searched while he was gone. Of course, we agreed. (of course).

Once he came back, we did search, and of course, found nothing. I used to follow this very closely and then just gave up once it was obvious that the chorus of "there are no WMDs - lalalalalalalala!!!!!" was never going to stop.  

By Blogger Cardinalpark, at Wed Dec 14, 12:25:00 PM:

Catchy - glad to hear that you don't think we're losing.

You asked if I read something other than Power Line. The answer is, yes I do. The most-read paper in the country, the Wall Street Journal; the New York Times, the Wash Post, the LA Times, the Boston Globe, the NY Post...among others. The mission is to get a broad flavor of facts and perspective. It is this broad reading which informs my perspective that much of the traditional news outlets are populated by rank amateurs with limited historical perspective, limited intellectual power, but vitriolic political opinions.

Ted Koppel is one such talking head. Dan Rather was another. Their opinions shape the perspective which they in turn share with viewers.

Thankfully, their power to shape erspective in a vacuum is declining. Broadcast media has the potential to take a limited, often radical or flawed voice and elevate it to equal status with dominant, majority perspective. In that sense, it can be very distorting.

A factual analysis of "how we're doing" -- a grading process - requires infinitely more perspective, especially historical perspective -- of accomplishments.

By that measure -- how America has fared in other wars - Iraq is actually our most successful enterprise...EVER...in our history...

semper fi...  

By Blogger Catchy Pseudonym, at Wed Dec 14, 01:14:00 PM:

Thanks for the links Lyric Mezzo, I'll check those out.

Cardinalpark, I know you read more than Power Line. I just said that to get you going. Also, Ted Koppel retired. So maybe that will make you feel better. I liked Ted though, and I also can usually filter out the slant in the news.

I've noticed a general trend in the media to start asking soldiers, Iraqis, politicians, war moms and widows about the war. I think we're in an introspective period where America is really evaluating the war. And that involves looking negatively and positively at it.

What I've gathered from reading and watching these interviews is that many people aren't happy (regardless of how informed or not they are) with how the war is being waged.

I would have to say my meager opinion is that most seem to support the war, don't want to leave until it's finished, but think we're not doing near as well as we could. A small group thinks things are going great and another small group just plain hates it.

These aren't armchair generals ranting on blogs, they're people actively participating in or affected by the war. Yes I have no links, I don't have time, but I repeat, it is merely the general consensus I have from all that I've read and seen.  

By Blogger Cassandra, at Thu Dec 15, 05:50:00 AM:

Catchy, an interesting thing that happens to military people all the time (and military wives) is that the media ask them leading questions about the war expecting negative comments, and when they don't get them, find their comments mysteriously aren't used in the story, or are Dowd-i-fied to look negative when the full comment was supportive.

This happened several times out in California and it was extremely aggravating. The military were extremely suspicious of the press for that reason. They would even show up on the doorsteps of newly-bereaved families, hoping for some nasty comment about the President (which they almost *never* got, by the way). But what a bunch of ghouls. It was infuriating.

A few of my wives were asked how they felt about their husbands being gone and gave really great answers ("it's lonely, I miss him, it's hard, I'm scared a lot of the time, but this is his job and I support him" type of thing), which of course were never used on the news because they were articulate and generally supported the administration. Instead, the reporter actually went OUTSIDE the original group that was interviewed (he had to - he hadn't gotten any joy out of any of the wives) to find some woman who was complaining about everything in the world and put her front and center. Now you tell me that's fair coverage - when you go looking for a particular viewpoint in advance?

The bottom line is that of people actually in the war zone, the majority think we're doing pretty well and will succeed. How come that fact doesn't have more traction with you?

Why is it you believe people who aren't even over there over those who are in theater? Talk is cheap. These people are putting their lives on the line, but their opinions don't count?  

By Blogger Catchy Pseudonym, at Thu Dec 15, 12:13:00 PM:

Jeez... always ready to go. Those are the people I've heard interviewed.  

By Blogger Catchy Pseudonym, at Thu Dec 15, 12:30:00 PM:

Had to work, so back. I like how you try to tell me who I've been listening to and how it has been presented to me and how I'm to naive to understand it all.

These *are* people in the war zone, they're soldiers now, soldiers back home, they're widows, moms. They are also people affected by the war. What's so hard to grasp here. That these people aren't saying what you think they should be saying. That they're all sheep manipulated by the media? That every singles source of media is out to slam the war? That I'm stoo stupid to understand it if it was slanted? You guys are incredible. Are we back to the condescending tone again?

I've heard very unbiased questions, just straight up with no slant, from people involved in the war by people who just want an honest opinion. That's why it's impacted me the I'm sorry that it isn't an opinion you like, but it's out there. Deal with it.  

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