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November 18, 2006

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Great job Brendan, hold their feet to the fire!

Integrity is the most powerful weapon and the best defense.

Kandis

I'm no expert but I wonder how serious the omission of the mention of wmds as rationale for going to war is in Krauthammer's essay, given that in order to neutralise the threat of wmds, Saddam had to be taken out. Krauthammer says as much in one of the pieces you quote above:

"After all, the goals are inseparable. Given the nature of Hussein's rule, destroying these weapons requires regime change."

Unlike deposing Saddam and neutralising the wmd threat, establishing a democratic state is very much a separate rationale.

Paul Gill: How can "destroying these weapons require[ ] regime change" when they had already been destroyed without regime change? The continuing inspections were working. My question, though, did anyone really believe that Krauthammer argues in good faith?

Henry, is that, then, why it is worth pulling up Krauthammer on this omission? Because it is a tacit admission that he didn't buy the wmd argument and knew that the intelligence was faulty? I am only pointing out that for anybody who believed the wmd intelligence, as Krauthammer claimed to back then, deposing Saddam and neutralising the wmd threat were one and the same.

Keep in mind, moreover, that the evidence is very strong that Cheney and Rumsfeld (unlike the optimistic Neocons) had no interest in trying to build a "self-sustaining, democratic government" there. Newsweek, in its Nov. 20 issue ( http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15674303/site/newsweek/ ), quotes Rumsfeld as responding in fall 2002 to the expressed fears of the Secretaries of the Army and Air Force that Iraq might be "another Vietnam" as follows: " 'Vietnam? You think you have to tell me about Vietnam?' Rumsfeld sputtered. 'Of course it won't be Vietnam. We are going to go in, overthrow Saddam, get out. That's it.' Then he waved them out of his office."

Note also, from Noam Scheiber ( http://www.tnr.com/blog/theplank?pid=7809 ): "The mess in Iraq today isn't an accident; it's a direct biproduct of 'to hell with them' hawkishness. If Cheney and Rumsfeld had had their druthers, we'd have been out of Iraq long ago. The reason we weren't able to do it is that we didn't find WMD, and so democratization became the war's ex post rationale. But Cheney and Rumsfeld were never into nation-building. If you read Bob Woodward's 'Plan of Attack', in the runup to the Iraq war Cheney is constantly emphasizing the need for a 'light hand in the postwar phase.' Bush himself, in mid-October of 2001, was opposed to using troops for peacekeeping and nation-building, according to Woodward's Bush at War. That's basically the approach we took in Afghanistan, and the one we were planning on taking in Iraq."

There is no indication that either Rummy or Cheney had any interest whatsoever in doing anything other than overthrowing Saddam and then bailing out and leaving the messy aftermath entirely to the Iraqis -- their goals seem to have been limited entirely to (A) destroying whatever WMD programs Saddam had, and (B) trying to terrorize all of America's Moslem-extremist enemies into leaving us alone with a display of America's Invincible Military Might. (Of course, they also criminally bungled even our supposed attempt to strip Iraq of WMDs -- Peter Galbraith and Scott Ritter have written that they were both personal eyewitnesses to US troops innocently standing on nearby street corners watching looters carry equipment and files wholesale out of Iraq's supposed major WMD depots, because NOBODY HAD BOTHERED TO TELL THEM ABOUT THE DEPOTS.)

There is no accident that Krauthammer failed to mention WMD. It is now common practice among the supporters of the invasion to try and rewrite history to their benefit. Right out of 1984. They need to be called on it every time it happens so that future calamities can be avoided and for the sake of truth itself. Equally Congress needs to investigate Bush's misdeeds. If people can get away with rewriting history then democracy is danger. Crimes and lies both should have consequences.

It's commendable that you're digging up Krauthammer's previous comments. A guy like him must really pine for the days when he could just spew stuff that directly contradicted things he'd written only months before, and NOT get confronted with his earlier remarks.

That said, I wonder if it's really worth the effort, because it's been pretty clear for some years now that Krauthammer is fundamentally dishonest. He's not interested in truth. Tomorrow he'll come up with other lies. The mystery is why anyone thinks he's worthy of attention.

Bruce raises a good point. If anyone tells you now that we invaded Iraq to replace Saddam with a democracy, they're telling you two lies: one by omission, by leaving out the WMD rationale, and one by commission, by replacing it with a rationale that was not given to the American people.

As Bruce also says, do not be fooled into thinking that one of the "secret" rationales was to create a democracy. Though some of the neo-cons might have supported that goal, their main goal was mostly to kick over Saddam and replace him with someone allied to us. And the Bush administration explicitly rejected that approach when they attempted to groom Chalabi to be the Iraqi strong-man that would replace Saddam.

Sorting out why we went to war is a difficult task, because many of the principal architects of this war had many different and varied reasons for supporting the invasion. But sorting out what we were told, is not difficult at all. It was WMDs and national security at every step of the way, which is why it's no wonder that they try to downplay it now and act as if democracy-promotion was always the goal, and was only naively executed.

Excellent work Brendan

I'm not sure what is the relevance of Krauthammer's previous statements about weapons of mass destruction. If we take him at his (past) word that this had been a concern of his, then why would that obviate his current arguments. Even if he dissembled on this issue, it seems to me his argument, just like any argument made by anybody, stands or falls based on the quality of the argument and the truth being argued about. It is my belief that the Bush Administration believed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, but that was not their primary rationale for prosecuting this war--more likely it was to develop less pernicious governance of the Middle East. If so, then they are certainly guilty of not telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth, but is this generally the case in politics? Yes the Bush administration should have and could have better prepared the nation for war, but does that mean that giving up when there is still some hope of success is the best decision?

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