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Bush lied

November 12th, 2005

With Americans increasingly convinced that the Bush Administration lied to sell the war in Iraq, Bush and his defenders are pushing an idea that’s been refuted quite a few times before, but obviously needs another go. This is the claim that “everyone believed that Saddam had WMD’s”. Hence, it’s argued, even if the Administration misread the evidence, this was an honest mistake, shared by others. The argument is bolstered by citations from the Clinton Administration, Democrats who supported the war and claims about the concurrence of the French and other intelligence services.

For this argument to hold up, it’s obviously necessary that people believed in Saddam’s weapons independently of what they were told by Bush and Blair. After all, the whole point of the criticism is that the Administration’s lies led people to support the war.

It’s easy enough to support the claim that independent observers generally believed that Saddam had WMD’s with citations from 2002 and earlier. The evidence supported such a belief. Saddam was known to have used chemical weapons in the past, and to have attempted to produce nuclear and biological weapons. Moreover, he had first obstructed and eventually expelled the UN inspectors who were supposed to check that his weapons and facilities had been destroyed. This belief was reinforced by the claims made by Bush and Blair, who asserted that they had detailed knowledge about Saddam’s weapons programs. It was reflected in the unanimous passage of UNSC Resolution 1441, requiring Iraq to declare all its weapons and readmit inspectors.

The problem for the Bush argument is that the inspectors were in fact readmitted, inspected the sites that had been pointed to as likely targets, and found nothing. At this point, anyone who was not willing to rely on the word of Bush and Blair ought to have revised their beliefs and most in fact did so. For example, here’s my take on the issue, in January 2003, and this didn’t rely on inside information or special insight[1]. Most national governments that were in a position to make an independent judgement reached the same conclusion, a point reflected in the failure to get a second UNSC resolution supporting the war.

The conclusion to be drawn from the evidence after the inspections resumed was not that no weapons existed, but that there was not enough evidence to reach a conclusion and that inspections should continue. Again, most people who did not rely on the disinformation presented by Bush and Blair drew this conclusion.

Of course, a lot of people did believe, even after the inspections resumed and found nothing, that Saddam definitely had WMDs. But, almost always, this was because they placed credence in the claims of Bush and Blair, and particularly the willingness of Colin Powell to endorse them. As evidence that these claims were not dishonest, the fact that they fooled a lot of people points in the wrong direction.

fn1. My lack of special insight was evident in my belief that the British Labour party would never support a war in the absence of clear evidence that Saddam had WMDs.

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  1. Terje Petersen
    November 12th, 2005 at 22:29 | #1

    I called Bush a liar at the time. Unfortunately since http://www.insidepolitics.com.au fell off the internet I can not point to anything on the public record. I have never doubted that the USA manufactured the pretext for the war with Iraq.

    I don’t think Howard lied on the WMD issue. I think he just got sucked in by his trust for the US administration.

    The formation of the view that the Bush administration was telling fibs was helped along extensively by Jude Wanniski who wrote endlessly about the flaws in evidence of WMD prior to the 2003 invasion.

    Here is one of his early articles attacking the notion that Iraq still had WMD in 2003.

    http://www.wanniski.com/showarticle.asp?articleid=2175

    People are way too quick to trust governments.

  2. November 12th, 2005 at 23:49 | #2

    Prior to the invasion it was widely argued that since the USA felt so unencumbered by the threat of Iraqi retaliation that they would calmly assemble thousands of soldiers on the border, this was proof enough that Bush and Cheney themselves knew Iraq did not have WMD.

    And there were massive demonstrations around the world shortly before the invasion in which people pointed the finger at amongst other things oil as being the reason for war. Clearly large numbers of people – perhaps the majority – did not believe that WMD was an issue.

    I suspected that somewhere in Iraq there would be found an old barrel or two of something or other. But this was never reason enough for an invasion.

    I certainly did not believe that Iraq had a WMD program of any significance. Afterall Colin Powel and Condi Rice has assured the world of this just a couple of years prior.

    John Le Carre wrote in Jan 2003 – “Baghdad represents no clear and present danger to its neighbours, and none to the US or Britain. Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction, if he’s still got them, will be peanuts by comparison with the stuff Israel or America could hurl at him at five minutes’ notice. What is at stake is not an imminent military or terrorist threat, but the economic imperative of US growth. What is at stake is America’s need to demonstrate its military power to all of us — to Europe and Russia and China, and poor mad little North Korea, as well as the Middle East; to show who rules America at home, and who is to be ruled by America abroad.”

    This view was very common amongst those against the war.

  3. November 12th, 2005 at 23:58 | #3

    “Let’s cut the nonsense. The primary reason the Bush team is more focused on Saddam is because if he were to acquire weapons of mass destruction, it might give him the leverage he has long sought – not to attack us, but to extend his influence over the world’s largest source of oil, the Persian Gulf.”

    Thomas Freidman, Jan 2003 –

    … if he were to acquire …

  4. Andrew Reynolds
    November 13th, 2005 at 03:10 | #4

    PrQ,
    One question. If they did not believe that there were WMD in there, and, knowing that as a result they would be shown to be liars once they went in, why did they not, with all the resources of the US government in covert operations, arrange to plant some evidence? It would have been comparatively easy with all the assets assembled on the borders and then they would have had the ‘proof’ they were looking for. It would not be the first time a US government had manufactured such evidence.
    The fact that they did not even attempt to do this is at least an argument that they did not know that there were none there. I cannot see the Bush administration (as opposed to Bush himself) being stupid enough to omit this fairly obvious step.
    Or do you believe that they simply hoped that, in the euphoria of victory, the reasons for the war would be forgotten?

  5. jquiggin
    November 13th, 2005 at 05:39 | #5

    Andrew, I think they expected to find something that would suffice – for example some old stocks of chemical weapons. They lied by asserting that they had strong evidence when they knew in fact it was worthless.

    Once the invasion happened I suspect they were conned by their own propaganda. Judy Miller was trumpeting finds every other day, and when they all failed to pan out there were the trailers. By the time it was clear none of these would pan out, it was too late for a plant.

    And if the war had gone well the euphoria of victory would probably have been enough. After all, it’s only now, after nearly three years that a majority of Americans believe Bush lied.

  6. Andrew not-Reynolds
    November 13th, 2005 at 06:26 | #6

    In other words, never ascribe to malice that which can be adequately explained by incompetence.

  7. Ian Gould
    November 13th, 2005 at 07:33 | #7

    Terje: People are way too quick to trust governments.

    while this is true of people right across the political spectrum I’m sure you, in particular, can appreciate the irony of so-called libertarians who don’t trust government to run a library or collect dog licences but have absolute faith in it’s ability to prosecute wars.

  8. Katz
    November 13th, 2005 at 07:52 | #8

    http://www.laweekly.com/ink/printme.php?eid=51202

    I urge anyone interested in this subject to read the above article. It is an interview with Lieutenant Colonel Karen Kwiatkowski who authored the lies used by the Bush Clique to serve as the pretext for the Iraq fiasco.

    Kwiatkowski worked in the Office of Special Plans, ‘a pet project of Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld … a nerve center for what she now calls a “neoconservative coup, a hijacking of the Pentagon.â€?’

    The interview is a fascinating and disturbing insight into just how thoroughly the Bush Clique subverted the proper processes of intelligence gathering.

    However, it does tend to exculpate Bush, who had the thoughts he had about Iraq and the words he said about Iraq planted there by Dick Cheney. Bush allowed himself to become an uncritical mouthpiece of the Neocon position.

    More accurately, therefore, the title of this thread should be “Cheney lied. bush believed him”.

    Kwiatkowski was a Bushite conservative until her experiences convinced her about the subversiveness and dishonesty of the neo-cons, who dominated policymaking in the Pentagon and the White House at the time.

    This point is underlined by the explosive memoir of the run-up to the war authored by Sir Christopher Meyer, the British Emabassador to Washington at the time.

    http://observer.guardian.co.uk/politics/story/0,6903,1185407,00.html

    On the matter of Howard. If anyone had been rash enough to attempt to tell Howard of this subversion of intelligence, he would have put his fingers in his ears and chanted “La la la la.”

    Only Andrew Wilkie was honest enough to breech the conspiracy of silence on this issue. And it cost him his career.

    Now that the Bush clique seems vulnerable, the US media will be all over them like ants. No doubt they’ll congratulate themselves for their courage. But the truth has been available since they beginning. Where were the media when it counted?

  9. Terje Petersen
    November 13th, 2005 at 08:20 | #9

    QUOTE: while this is true of people right across the political spectrum I’m sure you, in particular, can appreciate the irony of so-called libertarians who don’t trust government to run a library or collect dog licences but have absolute faith in it’s ability to prosecute wars.

    RESPONSE: I do not have faith in governments ability to prosecute wars. However I lack faith in their ability to go to war for the right reasons or to achieve the right outcomes. After all blowing things up can’t be that hard. Blowing up the right things is a lot more difficult.

    If governments spent less energy thinking about things like dog licences then perhaps they would be a little more focused on their key responsibilities. They seem to suffer badly from mission creep.

  10. Roberto
    November 13th, 2005 at 08:38 | #10

    Terje Petersen Says: November 12th, 2005 at 10:29 pm “I called Bush a liar at the time.”

    Terje and others: if we only listened to you at the time, we would also have had a cure for cancer, found the fountain of youth, and managed to have successfully scraped a crucial away goal in Montevideo this morning!

  11. Roberto
    November 13th, 2005 at 09:02 | #11

    The Bush ‘lied’ thesis only holds if you accept that the conspiracy was so well managed that the entire Democrat opposition were either duped or so completely stupid.

    For eg:

    Bill Clinton: “If Saddam rejects peace, and we have to use force, our purpose is clear: We want to seriously diminish the threat posed by Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction program.”

    Madeleine Albright, Clinton Secretary of State: “We must stop Saddam from ever again jeopardizing the stability and the security of his neighbors with weapons of mass destruction.”

    Sandy Berger, Clinton National Security Advisor: “[Saddam will] use those weapons of mass destruction again as he has ten times since 1983.”

    Harry Reid: “The problem is not nuclear testing; it is nuclear weapons. … The number of Third World countries with nuclear capabilities seems to grow daily. Saddam Hussein’s near success with developing a nuclear weapon should be an eye-opener for us all.”

    Dick Durbin: “One of the most compelling threats we in this country face today is the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Threat assessments regularly warn us of the possibility that…Iraq…may acquire or develop nuclear weapons.”

    John Kerry: “If you don’t believe…Saddam Hussein is a threat with nuclear weapons, then you shouldn’t vote for me.”

    John Edwards: “Serving on the Intelligence Committee and seeing day after day, week after week, briefings on Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction and his plans on using those weapons, he cannot be allowed to have nuclear weapons, it’s just that simple. The whole world changes if Saddam ever has nuclear weapons.”

    Nancy Pelosi: “Saddam Hussein has been engaged in the development of weapons of mass destruction technology, which is a threat to countries in the region, and he has made a mockery of the weapons-inspection process.”

    Sens. Levin, Lieberman, Lautenberg, Dodd, Kerrey, Feinstein, Mikulski, Daschle, Breaux, Johnson, Inouye, Landrieu, Ford and Kerry in a letter to Bill Clinton: “We urge you, after consulting with Congress and consistent with the U.S. Constitution and laws, to take necessary actions, including, if appropriate, air and missile strikes on suspect Iraqi sites to respond effectively to the threat posed by Iraq’s refusal to end its weapons of mass destruction programs.”

    So, the question becomes were people of quality like Clinton and Albright duped? or were they just stupid/gullible? (surely Albright would have had the experience to have ‘tested’ the inntelligence presented) or did they TOO believe the intelligence presented? which prima facie presented very strong ‘positions’.

  12. November 13th, 2005 at 09:03 | #12

    Of course Bush lied about Saddam’s WMDs. I dis-believed the WMD story from the word go. Saddam was bad, not mad. Iraq was invaded because, not in spite, of the fact that it did not have WMDs. The UN inspection was a complement, not a substitute, for military action.

    It appears that Chalabi was used by the White House as a conduit for phony WMD material. He used Iranian know-how to fake WMD documents and then organized defectors to various intelligence services. They were all reading off the same script. Judith Miller was his reliable destination. American Conservative has the goods:

    In the same month, the White House Iraq Group (WHIG) was set up to market the war by providing information to friends in the media. It has subsequently been alleged that false information generated by Ahmad Chalabi’s Iraqi National Congress was given to Judith Miller and other journalists through WHIG.

    Then why did the US invade Iraq? The Bushies thought that Gulf War II would be a cake walk, like GW I. They thought they could do so at low military cost and high political gain. Regime Change would be a cinch. Nation building would be self-funding.

    I was fool enough to take Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld at their words on this score. To me, this was the greatest lie – self-deception.

  13. November 13th, 2005 at 09:04 | #13

    Pr Q,

    html tags, although appearing in preview, appear to be inoperative when submitted.

    js

  14. November 13th, 2005 at 09:15 | #14

    For a mere 5,132 words to the contrary, one could not do any better than read Norman Podhoretz. Who Is Lying About Iraq? http://www.commentarymagazine.com/Production/files/podhoretz1205advance.html

  15. jquiggin
    November 13th, 2005 at 09:22 | #15

    Podhoretz was certainly one I had in mind.

  16. November 13th, 2005 at 09:56 | #16

    Jack,

    Note that the Kenneth Pollack article cited by Podhoretz in support of the claim that Bush acted in good faith says exactly the oppposite. See here:

    http://www.prospect.org/weblog/archives/2005/11/index.html#008302

  17. November 13th, 2005 at 10:50 | #17

    Roberto: You left Saddam himself off the list of those who believed that he possessed such weaponry.

    Also off the list was Weapons Inspector Richard Butler.

    I don’t see any problem with the invasion of Iraq. Kofi Anan only just stopped Clinton & Blair getting stuck into Iraq only a few years before for non-compliance with weapons inspections.

    Even Saddams arab neighbors had the view that he had brought it upon himself.

    Saddam is gone. *Good* (Unqualified).

  18. Katz
    November 13th, 2005 at 10:55 | #18

    Podhoretz’s special pleading is quite transparent.

    1. To personalise the act of lying on Bush’s own knowledge of the actual state of affairs is to, at the very least, expect too much of Bush’s ability to detect that the stream of information that came his way had been corrupted.

    2. To base Bush’s bona fides on his willingness to accept CIA Chief George Tenet’s assurance that Saddam’s possession of WMDs was a “slam dunk” is disingenuous. Tenet himself had been nobbled by the Office of Special Projects (OSP) (see reference in my former post in this thread).

    3. Podhoretz is right to excoriate the Democrats for allowing themselves to express their credulity in relation to the OSP falsifications. The Bush Clique had thoroughly grabbed the moral and political high ground on the issue ofthe war in Iraq. Shamefully, Democrats who privately doubted the lies decided to lie about their own scepticism because they believed that their own political survival depended on it. However, Podhoretz is wrong to imply that consent, especially consent gained by deception, cannot be withdrawn. Democrats and others who want to retract their support for Bush’s rationale for war should confess their self-interested credulity and move on.

  19. Derick Cullen
    November 13th, 2005 at 11:01 | #19

    Facts Vs. Beliefs

    The Bush administration did not want to listen to Hans Blix.

  20. Katz
    November 13th, 2005 at 11:17 | #20

    For those who need reminding why this issue of lying about a cassus belli, here is the reason:

    Here is the relevant principle from the Principles of the Nuremberg Tribunal, as promulgated in 1950. The United States was a signatory of these principles.

    Principle Vl
    The crimes hereinafter set out are punishable as crimes under; international law:

    a. Crimes against peace:
    i. Planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances;
    ii. Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the acts mentioned under (i).

    To spell this out:

    1. if the United Nations had passed a resolution enabling invasion, then the Iraq war would have been legal.

    2. if Bush could demonstrate that the United States faced an imminent attack, then self-defence makes the war legal. Now it is possible that a leader could sincerely though mistakenly believe that his nation faced peril. Going to war under those circumstances is probably not a “crime against peace”.

    3. but the extent to which someone in the Bush Clique knew they were lying is the extent to which they have committed a “crime against peace”.

  21. orang
    November 13th, 2005 at 11:19 | #21

    Podhoretz, schmodhoretz, Bush lied. I knew it as soon as it was said. Citing all the other pitchmen for the Iraq invasion including Democrats does not absolve Bush but confirms the US conspiracy to invade and control Iraq long before 9/11. Threats of WMD’s etc. were merely sales points for The Mob along with “Saddam is a real bad man” which were used effectively in the US, UK and by the Australian government. All those “reasons” are an insult to ones intelligence. Subsequently we have the giving of “democracy” as if this will absolve us of our sins. Killed 100,00 people? Say 12 hail Mary’s and introduce democracy.
    The whole episode from the beginning stunk (stank?) of an imperialist adventure. Of course you have to have a nose to smell it. Other people believe their government always “does the right thing”, gives everyone “a fair go”, know what I mean?

  22. November 13th, 2005 at 11:58 | #22

    Paul Krugman “Defending Imperial Nudity” http://www.truthout.org/docs_2005/110405I.shtml is a great satire on Bush’s duplicity, which I also think extends to self-duplicity.

    Even if one accepts the Bush-apologists “screw-up not stich-up” spin this is still an indictiment. Ineptitude is no exculpation. Weber, somwhere, says that intelligence is the first condition of political morality.

  23. jquiggin
    November 13th, 2005 at 12:11 | #23

    The claim that Saddam believed he had weapons is unsupported speculation to explain his obstruction of the UN inspectors. He may well have done this for domestic political reasons.

    It seems pretty clear that, by late 2002, he knew he didn’t have any weapons, since he made a declaration to that effect and allowed UN inspectors to check it, with the understanding that war would be declared if he was shown to have lied.

  24. orang
    November 13th, 2005 at 12:55 | #24

    According to John Laws on his radio show at that time, (after he miraculously switched from a long Dubbya lampooner to a supporter) “Saddam has got chemical and biological weapons but is so diabolically cunning he would NOT use them against the coalition when they invaded Iraq. You knew when this kind of dribble was being spouted the sale was made and Iraq’s goose was cooked.

  25. Jim
    November 13th, 2005 at 12:58 | #25

    John,
    Your assertion that Weapons Inspectors “found nothing” upon re-admission is simplistic ( but certainly convenient for the argument that Bush lied).
    As I recall the Inspectors stated that they were not receiving complete co-operation from the regime ; therefore they couldn’t make conclusive statements about compliance?
    Sure they said they needed more time etc but that wasn’t their call. As things turned out , the regime was in breach of UN sanctions though no bio/chemical/nuclear weapons as such were found.
    I also believe that speculation as to why Bush/Blair made such unambiguous assertions to be less than credible.
    If they knew no weapons existed then they also surely knew that they would be exposed before the world within a relatively short time as deceitful and/or incompetent.
    Why then didn’t they simply plant some evidence or modify their arguments for invasion to include the more than ample other self-evident reasons to remove Saddam?
    Isn’t the simplest, most rational explanation that fits the evidence and is consistent with the behaviours of both governments that they sincerely believed Saddam to still have useable WMD?
    PS – the suspicion that the necessity for ” Bush Lied” to be correct as ideologically motivated rather than rationally proven , is also supported by the relative silence by many on the other reason given for the war – links to terrorists.

  26. November 13th, 2005 at 13:16 | #26

    Saddam got rid of his WMDs after GWI when his greatest threat became the US. He was bad, not mad. Sy Hersh http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content/?031027fa_fact has the goods, reporting an interview with an actual Iraqi defector, on the eve of the fall of Baghdad:

    The first meeting, on April 11th [2003], began with an urgent question from a C.I.A. officer: “Does Iraq have a nuclear device? The military really want to know. They are extremely worried.�
    Jafar’s response, according to the notes of an eyewitness, was to laugh. The notes continued:

    Jafar insisted that there was not only no bomb, but no W.M.D., period. “The answer was none.� . . .

    Jafar explained that the Iraqi leadership had set up a new committee after the 91 Gulf war, and after the unscom [United Nations] inspection process was set up. . . and the following instructions [were sent] from the Top Man [Saddam]—“give them everything.�

    The notes said that Jafar was then asked, “But this doesn’t mean all W.M.D.? How can you be certain?�

    His answer was clear: “I know all the scientists involved, and they chat. There is no W.M.D.�

    Jafar explained why Saddam had decided to give up his valued weapons:

    Up until the 91 Gulf war, our adversaries were regional. . . . But after the war, when it was clear that we were up against the United States, Saddam understood that these weapons were redundant. “No way we could escape the United States.� Therefore, the W.M.D. warheads did Iraq little strategic good.

    He probably played cat and mouse with UNSCOM weapons inspectors for good reason. It was penetrated by US and ISR spies who were intent on setting him up for assasination. This, after all, was the intent of the Iraq Liberation Act passedby the US Congress 1998.

    But Clinton’s fine-grained assasination plot failed. So Bush went for the coarse-grained regime change, with nation-building to go.

  27. Smiley73
    November 13th, 2005 at 13:17 | #27

    Andrew Reynolds wrote:
    One question. If they did not believe that there were WMD in there, and, knowing that as a result they would be shown to be liars once they went in, why did they not, with all the resources of the US government in covert operations, arrange to plant some evidence?

    There is a very good reason for this. When you plant evidence it can often lead back to the perpetrator of the plant. Let’s not forget what has been happening with the investigation into the anthrax attacks. Here is some information that may jolt your memory:

    1. Meanwhile, in the United States, FBI agents and scientists have been working to match the gene sequence of the mailed anthrax spores to a specific laboratory. They remain particularly interested in such laboratories as Fort Detrick, Louisiana State University and Dugway Proving Ground in Utah. – Washington Post, 16/09/2005.

    2. An analysis of the writing in the letters has been perfomed by the FBI. Use the following link to access the analysis:

    http://www.fbi.gov/anthrax/amerithraxlinks.htm

    In short the perpetrator is an adult male who:
    - Has little contact with the public
    - Did not select his victims randomly (the politicians targeted were Democrats)
    - Hold grudges for a long time, but
    - Is a non-confrontational person.

    A right-wing Muslim extremest. I think not. More likely a right-wing American extremest similar to Timothy McVeigh or the Una Bomber.

    And do you rember the famous “Mushroom Cloud” statement made by Condleezza Rice, backed up by the Niger document? I wonder who was the real source of the fake Niger uranium document? There are obfuscations flying left right and center – the British, the Italians or maybe the French. We will have to wait and see if the special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald can throw some light on this. I wouldn’t be supprised if it came from the OSP.

  28. brian
    November 13th, 2005 at 15:33 | #28

    The writings of Karen Kwiatkowski,as has been said by several people above ,are interesting because of her military and conservative background.Her writings appear regularly on ..Lewrockwell.com..and on several other sites. She is a scathing critic of the neocons aand the likudniks in Washington. Her final decision to leave her senior Pentagon popsition was brought about by her disguit at the actions of Douglas Feith,then an under-secretary to Wolfowitz. In one recent article she recounted how Feith, a rabid neo-cons and zionist hawk, made his office in the Pentagon a virtual basefor the neo-cons and their activities . She instanced one day when she was on duty and a whole group of israeli military men on some mission to Washington entered the building,claiming they didn’t need any secutiry clearance,and when admitted to Feith office,wandered in and inspected his files and messages ,he being in another of the part of the building. When she complained to Feith,he dismissed her saying..”.the Israelis are our allies”. She felt this was unaccecptable ,and her breach with Feith followed these actions by Israeli personal who had unrestricted access to Feith office. She later recorded her delighted when the F.B.I. indicted a US Pentagon official named Franklin,who now faces charges of passing classified material to 2 officals of The Israeli Embasssy. The trial will take place soon,and of course has led to ppredictable attacks of the F.B.I.. as “anti-semitic”)This has now become the word for anyone who who is critical of Ariel Sharon,and his Likudniks.Kwiatkowski writings are a very good picture of how some US conservatives ,like Pat Buchanan,are now openly hostile to Bush and his neocon buddies(or is it masters?)She also writes for The American Conservative ,Buchanan’s magazine,also available on line.

  29. Homer Paxton
    November 13th, 2005 at 16:53 | #29

    before the Gulf war the US wouldn’t commence operations until the Fench took out both the radar system and the mirages they sold to Iraq.

    with those out of the way the Iraq defence forces were unimpressive.

    They were even worse going into the Invasion of Iraq,

    There is no point of having WMDs if you have littel in the way of defence forces to use after the WMDs are used.
    Hussein couldn’t threaten anyone.
    Anyone who bothered to do any homework knew that

  30. orang
    November 13th, 2005 at 17:12 | #30

    Well of course!

    After 10 years of sanctions (which caused the deaths of , I dunno, name a number over a million, children) no fly zones where the British and US airforces new where every sheep and hovel was, they knew this was not “war”.

    Lesson #1 to any country about to be invaded. Get some arse kicking weapons quick.

  31. Roberto
    November 13th, 2005 at 18:25 | #31

    Here goes: (as I indicated earlier)

    The Bush ‘lied’ thesis only holds if you accept that the conspiracy was so well managed that the entire Democrat opposition were either duped or so completely stupid.

    For eg:

    Bill Clinton see above
    Madeleine Albright see above
    John Kerry: “If you don’t believe…Saddam Hussein is a threat with nuclear weapons, then you shouldn’t vote for me.�

    So, the question becomes were people of quality like Clinton and Albright duped? or were they just stupid/gullible? (surely Albright would have had the experience to have ‘tested’ the inntelligence presented) or did they TOO believe the intelligence presented? which prima facie presented very strong ‘positions’.

    I await a convincing rebuttable

  32. November 13th, 2005 at 19:04 | #32

    Ian Gould: the irony of so-called libertarians who don’t trust government to run a library or collect dog licences but have absolute faith in it’s ability to prosecute wars.

    Most libertarian opposed the Iraqi war. Many libertarians opposed the Afghani war also… so it is a bit of a stretch to paint libertarians as war-mongers.

    Roberto — your above Kerry quote is irrelevant to your point. He is saying that if Saddam had nuclear weapons then he would be a threat.

    Steve at the pub: Yes, Saddam gone is good. But there are also some bads. Smart people try to weight the good against the bad and check the net impact before having the government spend hundreds of billions of dollars. Commie. ;p

    The underlying problem is that people trust their politicians, despite all of their protestations to the contrary.

  33. jquiggin
    November 13th, 2005 at 19:30 | #33

    Roberto, you don’t seem to have read the post. The fact that lots of people, including Democrats, believed Bush doesn’t mean he wasn’t lying. You’re merely repeating Bush’s talking points without responding to the post.

    John H, I think it’s fair to say that most of the US bloggers who would have been regarded as libertarian before 2003 supported the war. Obvious examples are Instapundit and Samizdata. Counterexamples like Jim Henley are in the minority as far as I can see. Even in Australia, opinion among libertarians seems pretty evenly divided to me based on postings to the Aust Libertarian blog.

  34. orang
    November 13th, 2005 at 19:44 | #34

    Roberto, you did say “people of quality” in the same breath as Clinton and Albright didn’t you? This is the pair who killed far more Iraqis than Bush and appearing beautific while doing it. Yes, they lied too.

  35. Neil
    November 13th, 2005 at 21:05 | #35

    John
    The statements Roberto quoted (From Clinton and other Democrats) were made in 1998 – 3 years before GWB was elected President. Is it the your opinion that Bush, as Governor of Texas, had that much influence over the Democratic administration?
    “….. lots of people, including Democrats, believed Bush….. ”
    I never picked him as a powerfull orator; maybe he wrote lots of letters?

  36. November 13th, 2005 at 21:48 | #36

    John Humphreys: There are some “bads” in the wake of the removal of Saddam, all of them due to arabic terrorists who persist with murdering Iraqi citizens.

    Call me “commie” all you like, sticks & stones mate. Btw, the ozzi word is “commo”. There could be quite a few other pieces of reality you may wish to brush up on, judging from you post.

  37. jquiggin
    November 13th, 2005 at 22:01 | #37

    Neil, you should also reread the post, particularly the bit starting

    “It’s easy enough to support the claim that independent observers generally believed that Saddam had WMD’s with citations from 2002 and earlier. The evidence supported such a belief. “

  38. Terje Petersen
    November 14th, 2005 at 04:52 | #38

    QUOTE TERJE: I do not have faith in governments ability to prosecute wars. However I lack faith in their ability to go to war for the right reasons or to achieve the right outcomes.

    WHAT I MEANT: I do trust governments ability to wage wars. However I am lacking in faith when it comes to their ability to go to war for the right reasons or to achieve the right outcomes.

  39. Terje Petersen
    November 14th, 2005 at 04:57 | #39

    QUOTE: if we only listened to you at the time, we would also have had a cure for cancer, found the fountain of youth, and managed to have successfully scraped a crucial away goal in Montevideo this morning!

    RESPONSE: I have never offered a view point on how to cure cancer, stay young forever or kick goals. Neither have I claimed that I would have done a better job then Bush, just that he lied. So what is your point or are you just trying to stir up the usual insult fest in lieu of making an intellectual comment?

  40. November 14th, 2005 at 07:59 | #40

    The only section of the Right which was reliably against Iraq War were the paeleo-cons ie the conservative’s conservatives at American Conservative. Their analysis of the Gulf War, although not especially “right wing”, has been 100% vindicated.

    Of course they tend to be a little more honest than the average person, being Grumpy Old Men at heart, and suffering from a dose of what John Derbyshire calls “Elderly Tourette’s Syndrome”. This is the inablility to stifle an annoying or controversial thought in the interests of their professional career or political harmony.

  41. Terje
    November 14th, 2005 at 08:25 | #41

    Jack,

    A topic like war is one area where notions of left-wing and right-wing really collapse. We need better words to describe political ideas.

    http://www.theadvocates.org/quiz.html

    Regards,
    Terje.

  42. Homer Paxton
    November 14th, 2005 at 08:50 | #42

    it is alright for people to believe that Iraq was attempting to gain WMDs but where was the deductive abilities concerning the state of the Iraqui defence forces.
    The Australian defence experts certainly didn’t expect Iraq to threaten any country.

    Bush said Iraq threatened the US. Dunno how given its best missiles dropped out of the sky halfway to Israel!!

    also developing nuclear weapons takes money. A lot of it.
    Hussein was supposedly doing this whilst building up other WMDs as well as building a lot of palaces and other neccessary infrastructure!

  43. Terje Petersen
    November 14th, 2005 at 09:49 | #43

    Invading Iraq was certainly better than permenant sanctions. However that does not say a lot for western policy.

  44. Ian Gould
    November 14th, 2005 at 10:02 | #44

    John: Most libertarian opposed the Iraqi war. Many libertarians opposed the Afghani war also… so it is a bit of a stretch to paint libertarians as war-mongers.

    John, I know many libertarians oppsoed the war – not sure if it was a majority but know it was a respectable number at least.

    However I have encountered soem people on line who claim to be libertarian and at the same tiem support not only the decision to go to war but the “nation-building” exercises in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

  45. Ian Gould
    November 14th, 2005 at 10:10 | #45

    JQ: “The claim that Saddam believed he had weapons is unsupported speculation to explain his obstruction of the UN inspectors. He may well have done this for domestic political reasons.”

    Or he may have been engaging in what NATO used to refer to as “strategic ambiguity”, hoping that the pretence that he did still possess some weapons of mass destruction acted as a deterrent to possible miltiary action by the US or neighbours such as Iran.

  46. Ian Gould
    November 14th, 2005 at 11:32 | #46

    It is interestig to compare the Bush administration’s response to Iraq’s alleged WMD programs with the response of the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations to the supposed “missile gao” of the late 1950′s and early 60′s.

    Military intelligence claimed that the Russians had a signifcant and increasing lead in ICBMs and that America’s primarily bomber-based deterrent was vulnerable to a Russian surprise attack.

    The military recommended the US attack Russia while it still had a chance of winning a nuclear war.

    Both administrations concisedered the possible consequences of even a “successful” nuclear war and decided not to attack.

    Subsequent evidence – including eventual access to Soviet records – proved the military were mistaken and had badly overestimated Russian strength.

    We’re fonrtunately Bush, Rumsfeld etc weren’t in charge at the time.

    Similarly, the Clinton adminsitration knew there was a possibility that Iraq had retained soem of its WMDs despite the UN inspection regime. (BTW when will the right admit that that regime was far more successful than they claimed at the time?)

    But given the risk and costs involved in invading Iraq, they decided to opt for continuation of sanctions and attempts to destabilise the regime rather than an invasion.

  47. observa
    November 14th, 2005 at 13:33 | #47

    You may or not believe the case outlined best by Podhoretz. Personally I believe the 2 independent enquiries that the intelligence agencies were simply guilty of ‘drinking their own bathwater’. OTOH you may personally need to sample a turkey yourself to believe it’s real or plastic. Nevertheless, I also think the war critics were guilty of drinking their own bathwater somewhat. Their figures on anticipated war casualties, refugees pouring out of Iraq rather than going home, Iraqis couldn’t handle democracy and last but most importantly their mistaken belief that UN sanctions could control Saddam’s ambitions long term. I believe they drank their own bathwater on this, rather than deliberately lied, but they can have it any way they choose. They personally have more to lose in this regard.

  48. Terje Petersen
    November 14th, 2005 at 13:38 | #48

    Syria offered Bin Laden to Clinton. Clinton declined because Syria was an enemy. I think that Clinton’s “regime” was definitely flawed. Which one isn’t?

  49. observa
    November 14th, 2005 at 13:40 | #49

    I’ll qualify that by saying after Dec 15th of course.

  50. Jill Rush
    November 14th, 2005 at 13:43 | #50

    In going to war was impossible to know whether the President was lying or not before he went to war. The actions which surrounded the threats caused many concerns – that it seemed that it didn’t matter what the evidence, the USA and AUST and UK were spoiling for a war without thinking through the strategies apart from brute force.

    Just as Afghanistan has dragged on – shades of the Russian invasion – the war in Iraq had no exit strategy nor any stabilisation strategy. The links of Iraq to terrorists at the time used as a justification were clearly lies and now have become self fulfilling prophecies. That the strategies used to counter the problems created by a lack of foresight are now spreading terror is of little comfort to anyone – but a new approach is required.
    Unfortunately with the current leadership we will have worse situations before solutions are found because they are so reluctant to even conceive that they might have made mistakes.

  51. Ian Gould
    November 14th, 2005 at 14:18 | #51

    Terej: “Syria offered Bin Laden to Clinton. Clinton declined because Syria was an enemy.”

    Actually I believe you’re referring to Sudan – and the offer was, in fact, to deport him to Saudi Arabia (not the US) provided he was granted amnesty.

    Considering that Bin Laden had already killed Americans at that point, the Clinton administration’s response is understandable.

  52. Roberto
    November 14th, 2005 at 14:33 | #52

    1. John Humphreys Says: November 13th, 2005 at 7:04 pm “Roberto—your above Kerry quote is irrelevant to your point. He is saying that if Saddam had nuclear weapons then he would be a threat.”

    Aren’t nuclear weapons WMD?

    2. jquiggin Says: November 13th, 2005 at 7:30 pm “Roberto, you don’t seem to have read the post. The fact that lots of people, including Democrats, believed Bush doesn’t mean he wasn’t lying. You’re merely repeating Bush’s talking points without responding to the post.”

    I did read the post. My point and question which remains unanswered was: “were people of quality like Clinton and Albright duped? or were they just stupid/gullible? (surely Albright would have had the experience to have ‘tested’ the intelligence presented) or did they TOO believe the intelligence presented? which prima facie presented very strong ‘positions’.

    3. orang Says: November 13th, 2005 at 7:44 pm “Roberto, you did say “people of qualityâ€? in the same breath as Clinton and Albright didn’t you? This is the pair who killed far more Iraqis than Bush and appearing beautific while doing it. Yes, they lied too.”

    Yes I did say that about Clinton and Albright – are you suggesting that they were not bright, and capable? And how exactly did they kill more Iraqi’s. If that is so, why then aren’t people jumping up and down to put Clinton etal up for war crimes?

  53. orang
    November 14th, 2005 at 14:58 | #53

    You cite Clinton and Albright’s quotes as a defence for Bush’s lies.
    Are you suggesting that because they were bright and capable then they would not lie? – Are you extremely young?

    Why is no-one pointing at them as war criminals? Because they were bright and capable and used the UN to legitimize the sanctions. If they were bright, capable AND humane, they would have realised soon enough that the only ones who were hurt by the sanctions were the innocent children, women..

  54. Roberto
    November 14th, 2005 at 15:31 | #54

    Orang, could you please unscramble your first para as it is nonsense.

    For fear of taking the thread somewhere else, are you in principle against economic sanctions. Therefore, you would have agreed with both Thatcher and Reagan against the economic sanctions imposed against the Aparthied regime in South Africa?

  55. orang
    November 14th, 2005 at 16:15 | #55

    Don’t know what it is you don’t understand about the 1st para.

    I’m sure there are instances where economic sanctions are the best solution. In the case of Iraq it seems they did not achieve anything except cause suffering for the general population and make a few shady characters rich.

    In the case of South Africa and Apartheid, the regime clung onto legitimacy by it’s association with it’s very few remaining supporters. The fact that NZ continued playing rugby with them and you mention Thatcher & Reagan, mean’t they hung on longer than they should have. I think being ostracized by the world was a clear message that what they were doing was unacceptable and eventually they found a way to change.

  56. Ian Gould
    November 14th, 2005 at 16:17 | #56

    “Why is no-one pointing at them as war criminals? Because they were bright and capable and used the UN to legitimize the sanctions. ”

    Because sometimes there are no good options only least bad ones.

    Can you suggest another alternative to sanctions besides:

    a. invading Iraq, killing (conservatively) 100,000 Iraqis and wrecking the US budget; and

    b. leaving Saddam in power and allowing him to rebuild his miltiary and resuem his aggression against his neighbours?

  57. Terje
    November 14th, 2005 at 16:32 | #57

    I think economic sanctions are a very blunt instrument that harms the most vulnerable in a society. I am against blanket sanctions. I can see justification in sanctions that might restrict access to certain materials (eg Uranium).

    In the case of Iraq I think the sanctions should have been lifted once the UN inspection process was completed (which it mostly was).

    In the case of South Africa one might argue that the regime change would not have happened without economic sanctions and that ultimately the people that died as a result of the sanctions were merely collateral damage (perhaps a bit like those innocent people killed during 911).

    In the case of Rhodesia the sanctions did help bring about achieve regime change. Who amoungst us that fact today when we look at the result?

    In the case of Cuba sanctions have left Castro entrenched and merely hurt the little people.

    Against a democracy where the common man/women has some influence in changing the government then sanctions may make some sence. One might argue that the half backed democracy of Apatheid was more likely to yield to such influences.

    When dealing with a dictatorship such as Iraq it is far more noble to invade than to implement perpetual sanctions that kill silently. Even if you have to tell lies in the process.

    If the choise is limited to Economic sanctions on Iraq or Invasion of Iraq then I think the latter is probably better. Personally I would lifted sanctions but national pride may have made that too hard for the USA/west to swallow.

    I don’t like the regime in China but I think it would be stupid to cease trade with the people of China.

  58. Terje
    November 14th, 2005 at 16:35 | #58

    QUOTE: Actually I believe you’re referring to Sudan – and the offer was, in fact, to deport him to Saudi Arabia (not the US) provided he was granted amnesty.

    RESPONSE: I had the details wrong. Here is a more authorative source:-

    http://www.infowars.com/saved%20pages/Prior_Knowledge/Clinton_let_bin_laden.htm

  59. Ian Gould
    November 14th, 2005 at 16:41 | #59

    The key passage from the article:

    “Realizing the growing problem with Bin Laden, Bashir sent key intelligence officials to the U.S. in February 1996.

    The Sudanese offered to arrest Bin Laden and extradite him to Saudi Arabia or, barring that, to “baby-sit” him–monitoring all his activities and associates.

    But Saudi officials didn’t want their home-grown terrorist back where he might plot to overthrow them.”

    Some of Mansoor Ijaz’s other claims about Clinton’s failure to capture Bin Laden were investigated by the 9-11 Commission and were found not to be credible.

  60. November 14th, 2005 at 16:52 | #60

    JQ and Ian — on the opinions of libertarians… I agree that Australian opinion is split. But to put that in context, Australian libertarians are hardly a huge political force, and unfortunately too many Aust libertarians tie their flag to the Liberal party.

    In the US, the clear majority of libertarians opposed the war. I saw polling done by the US libertarian party that showed over 90% opposition to the Iraq war among members. When I met with the US LP President we discussed the split among Aust libertarians and he was shocked — he indicated that it was a relatively straight forward matter for US libertarians. Major libertarian groups (CATO, ISIL, Independence, IHS, etc) have been consistently against the war.

    Some libertarian-leaning conservatives backed the war, but that isn’t really indicative of libertarian opinion in the US. Neither are a handful of bloggers.

  61. November 14th, 2005 at 17:03 | #61

    Steve — there are lots of bads that came from the war and these should be considered in any intellegent analysis of the policy. One is the cost. Another is the continuing conflict. Another is the death of US soilders. Another is the possibility of more terrorists. Another is the possibility of a Iran-backed shi’ite theocratic state. Most of the costs aren’t done by terrorists, and even if they were it is still a relevant part of a benefit-cost analysis as it is a consequence of the multi-billion dollar government program.

    The primary benefit seems to be the potential future improvement in the lives of average Iraqi citizens. Sounds like a government foreign aid project to me. Commie (as we say here in Australia — where the hell are you from?).

    Roberto — I say again: your above Kerry quote is irrelevant to your point. He is saying that IF (note the word IF) Saddam had nuclear weapons THEN (note the word THEN) he would be a threat. Tricky stuff.

  62. November 14th, 2005 at 17:09 | #62

    Terje: In the case of Rhodesia the sanctions did help bring about achieve regime change. Who amoungst us that fact today when we look at the result?

    Actually, Rhodesia was never as rich as when it was under sanctions. Most people (black and white) look back on the period of UDI as their golden past.

    The war of independence (then called the terrorist war against a Nth Korean backed communist group) was won against the government (which had more black soilders than white soilders and a mixed race parliament) after their last ally (Sth Africa) stopped helping. The winner then went on to massicre tens of thousands of Matabele tribesmen and set about destroyoing the country. Yay for history.

  63. November 14th, 2005 at 17:42 | #63

    Apparently the Jordanian bombing was the work of Iraq-based^ Al Quaeda jihadists. This is bad news for Bush as this metastasization of the GWOT* puts the final nail in the coffin of the Gulf War apologists.

    I’d like to see Bush lie his way out of this one.

    It is not necessarily bad news for Howard. Apparenty Jordan’s opposition to the latest Gulf War# was not enough to spare it the jihadists wrath.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/11/12/AR2005111201201_pf.html

    #http://www.iht.com/getina/files/289062.html

    *http://www.time.com/time/magazine/printout/0,8816,1129575,00.html

  64. Terje Petersen
    November 14th, 2005 at 19:29 | #64

    I am having trouble coming to terms with how badly I worded my earlier point about Rhodesia. I think my point can almost be understood. I will try harder.

    JOHN H: Actually, Rhodesia was never as rich as when it was under sanctions. Most people (black and white) look back on the period of UDI as their golden past.

    RESPONSE: John Humphreys, I would love to hear your views on economic sanctions as a general principle. If they were so good for Rhodesians then why were they imposed? If they were supposed to be harsh were they then a failure?

    What role should sanctions be given in deposing foreign dictators? Are they more successful against populations that have some franchise within their system of government. If we ban the sale of tampons to Saudi Arabia will they be forced to give women the vote?

    How do you view Australias role in the sanctions against Rhodesia? I understand that our then PM argued earnestly for them.

    JOHN H: But to put that in context, Australian libertarians are hardly a huge political force, and unfortunately too many Aust libertarians tie their flag to the Liberal party.

    RESPONSE: Whilst I opposed the war from a US perspective I can more easily rationalise Australias self interest in the conflict. Howard has used it very effectively to leverage a relationship with the USA. So the fact that American libertarians opposed the conflict almost unanimously and Australian libertarians did not, can probably be somewhat explained by the different sacrifice in terms of blood and treasure and the relative accumulation of benefits.

  65. orang
    November 14th, 2005 at 19:33 | #65

    # Ian Gould Says:
    November 14th, 2005 at 4:17 pm
    “Can you suggest another alternative to sanctions besides:

    a. invading Iraq, killing (conservatively) 100,000 Iraqis and wrecking the US budget; and

    b. leaving Saddam in power and allowing him to rebuild his miltiary and resuem his aggression against his neighbours?”

    I am sure, very sure, that if the aim was merely to contain Iraq then there was no need to invade and there was no need for blanket sanctions. A long term carrot and stick approach perhaps. Hell I don’t know , as it’s been pointed out many times to me, GWB is President and I am , well me.

    Rid your mind of the concept that a “mistake” was made. All this recent talk of Bush “well you guys had the same information as me and voted to go to war” is another red herring for the public to wrangle over and avoid the fact that they planned to invade a long time ago.

  66. November 14th, 2005 at 20:05 | #66

    Terje — I’m skeptical of the value of blanket trade sanctions. It hurts the most vulnerable and is often a valuable rhetorical tool used by the sanctioned government to build nationalism. I generally think that trade builds positive relationships and social capital.

  67. Andrew Reynolds
    November 14th, 2005 at 20:24 | #67

    Katz,
    On your point on the legality – it is not as simple as you depict. At the end of the first (entirely legal – UNSC approved) war (or was it phase of the war), there was a truce (not a peace treaty) that was conditional on many things, including the acceptance of inspections for WMD (and other items). The failure of the Iraqi government to fully honour the conditions of that truce may (emphasise may) produce a valid legal case for war under the Vienna Conventions. Various UNSC resolutions bear witness to the fact that there was not full compliance. It is, however, for better lawyers than me to argue over whether the conditions in the Vienna Conventions had been met at the start of the war.
    I would be among the first to admit that there is a question as to its legality, but the black and white case you presented is not correct.

  68. SJ
    November 14th, 2005 at 20:39 | #68

    Shorter Andrew Reynolds: I don’t know the facts or the law, but you’re wrong anyway Katz. so there.

  69. Katz
    November 15th, 2005 at 11:13 | #69

    “Various UNSC resolutions bear witness to the fact that there was not full compliance. It is, however, for better lawyers than me to argue over whether the conditions in the Vienna Conventions had been met at the start of the war.”

    Gee whiz, and to think that Bush, Blair, Powell and Howard didn’t have to put themselves through the agony of convincing the Security Council and the embarrassment of being filleted in public by Monsieur de Villepin.

    And what enormous forebearance the pro-war cabal demonstrated, insisting on the potency of Resolution 1441, while all the meantime denying themselves access to the tremendously supportive Vienna Conventions.

    If one didn’t know better, one might imagine that the pro-war cabal were deliberately making life more difficult for themselves than it needed to be.

  70. Katz
    November 15th, 2005 at 12:40 | #70

    And on the issue of the importance of this question of legality, see the opinion of Admiral Sir Michael Boyce, former chief of the British Defence Staff.

    http://observer.guardian.co.uk/politics/story/0,6903,1474276,00.html

    When shown the infamous Downing Street Memo, Sir Michael, opined that the British justification of war penned by Lord Goldsmith may not represent a legal cassus belli.

    This is exactly the issue being tested in the soon-to-be famous court-martial of Lieutenant Kendall-Smith who is being prosecuted for refusing to obey what he claims to be illegal military commands, viz., to fight in Iraq under the cover of the Goldsmith Memo.

  71. Andrew Reynolds
    November 15th, 2005 at 15:35 | #71

    Shorter SJ – I am not going to bother to read the comment properly because I disagree with it.
    .
    Katz,
    I agree that an UNSC resolution would have removed all doubt about legality – I suggest you re-read my comment and spare me your misplaced sarcasm.
    The Vienna Conventions argument is a long one, complicated, and difficult to sell politically. It is, as I stated, also questionable, but that does not mean it is wrong, only uncertain. Obtaining a UNSC resolution would have been both politically and legally the cleanest option, which is, IMHO, the reason why they tried that route. The fact that China and Russia would never accept it for their own domestic political reasons and France did not for foreign policy purposes is neither here nor there – it was not approved by the UNSC and so therefore the invasion remains legally questionable. To say that it is definitely either legal or illegal is, however, IMHO, premature before a court of some description has ruled on the question.

  72. November 15th, 2005 at 15:35 | #72

    The biggest lie of the war was not its veracity of the rationale. Its was the lie told about the probable efficicacy of execution that really floored me.

    A plausible rationale (for allies and associates) is only a necessary condition for invasion. A workable occupation plan is required to provide the sufficient condition for invasion.

    In short it was the “cakewalk”, not the “WMD”, lie that did the most damage.

    There were any number of good reasons to get rid of Saddam eg human rights abuser, persistent aggressor, weapons proliferator, terrorist harbourer, sanctions buster etc. But these are no more than satisfying morality tales in the absence of a workable regime change and nation buiilding plan.

    In retrospect it was Wolfowitz’s silencing of Gen Shinseki which was the most damaging deceit.

  73. Terje Petersen
    November 15th, 2005 at 15:44 | #73

    Jack is spot on actually.

  74. Razor
    November 15th, 2005 at 16:03 | #74

    I still think all you anti-Iraq war types should send in job applications to your local intelligence agencies because you are obviously head and shoulders above the professionals.

    No one lied, except I think this Scooter fellow.

    It took 2 years be for ethey started rebuilding Germany and Japan after WWII. In 2013 I believe Iraq will be the model that other Middle East societies will want to follow.

    History will show that the cost of removing Saddam will be more than repaid and that it was the correct thing to do.

  75. Ian Gould
    November 15th, 2005 at 16:27 | #75

    >I still think all you anti-Iraq war types should send in job applications to your local intelligence agencies because you are obviously head and shoulders above the professionals.

    you mean professionals like Blix, Baradei, Ritter and Willkie?

  76. Katz
    November 15th, 2005 at 17:07 | #76

    I agree with Jack’s point too, as it has been mine since the beginning.

    The Iraq debacle isn’t a question of “should or shouldn’t”, it’s a question of “can or can’t”.

    The “should or shouldn’t” question will arise only after “can’t” has been proven, and the people and political classes of the US and Britain decide to turn vengeful and punish the foks who presided over a disastrous war (and by the way lied their way into it on behalf of the Nation).

    Howard on the other hand will remain immune from this vengance because everyone knows that he was just a dupe, though a willing one, and was in no position to know the truth because of his subordinate position at the end of a very tainted flow of information, emanating at CIA and MI6 Headquarters and syphoned through the necrotic kidneys of Neocon falsifiers.

  77. Andrew Reynolds
    November 15th, 2005 at 17:29 | #77

    I agree the execution was not good, but I notice Katz did not respond to my point on its legality. Does that mean you concede, Katz?

  78. Roberto
    November 15th, 2005 at 17:39 | #78

    I guess, the issue of ‘lies’ is moot, as the current situation is paramount. The Kurds might be grateful. http://www.theotheriraq.com/

  79. jquiggin
    November 15th, 2005 at 17:58 | #79

    I don’t think anyone believes the legality argument, Andrew. Among other things, it implies that Iraq (or any other country that chose to do so) would have been justified in invading Israel for its continuing breaches of UN resolutions (before quibbling about precise wording remember that, under Bush rules, it’s the invader who gets to decide on these things).

    The UNSC clearly didn’t think it was authorising an invasion, as witness the failure to get a second resolution.

    I think your best line is the one to which Roberto has now retreated, that bygones are bygones.

  80. November 15th, 2005 at 19:31 | #80

    Andrew — I don’t think your shorter SJ was any shorter. And since when did you start caring so much about the UN anyway? Abolish the bastard organisation I say.

  81. Simon Moffitt
    November 15th, 2005 at 19:42 | #81

    What was the stance of the European intelligence agencies while Powell was doing his slide show at the UN?

    I can understand the US and British context but once the UN inspectors went back in that last time did they change their tunes?

  82. Andrew Reynolds
    November 15th, 2005 at 20:17 | #82

    PrQ,
    Israel has ignored resolution after resolution – true, but none of them even came close to the authorisation of force, no matter what your interpretation was. The resolutions on Israel were under the chapter of the UN Charter that does not permit force. The US would have vetoed them if they were under the chapter that could be used to authorise force. The resolution authorising the first gulf war specifically authorised the use of force and was under the relevant chapter.
    There is an argument (which I will put together when time permits and post it here, perhaps on Weekend Reflections if you do not object, PrQ) that the recent invasion was effectively authorised by the first UNSC resolution and the government of Iraq’s breaches of the truce after it. I am not saying that it is conclusive and it does rely on what the invading parties did or did not know at the time but it does allow for an argument. All I am saying is that for Katz or anyone else to say the issue is settled is premature until the issues have been tested in court and all the evidence is presented before a jury. Perhaps the upcoming court martial will allow that. I will be an interested observer.
    .
    John H,
    We may or may not feel that the UN should be abolished, but, while it is there the concensus is that it the backing of international law.

  83. jquiggin
    November 15th, 2005 at 21:50 | #83

    Andrew, these are arguments coming out of the same stable as the Bush Administration’s claim that the Geneva Convention is no longer applicable, and with the same credibility. I think Katz is safe to say these issues are settled. Of course, the US Administration will be very careful to ensure they never come before a jury.

  84. Terje Petersen
    November 15th, 2005 at 22:09 | #84

    QUOTE: And since when did you start caring so much about the UN anyway? Abolish the bastard organisation I say.

    RESPONSE: If not the who bastard thing then at least that engine room of poverty called the IMF.

  85. Katz
    November 15th, 2005 at 22:36 | #85

    My original post on this issue (Principles of the Nuremberg Tribunal) entertained three hypotheticals. Two of them ended with exculpation of the Bush position.

    I never asserted that the case for the guilt of the Bush administration had been decided.

    I merely attempted to remind readers of the importance of this question of deliberate lies in relation to the question of guilt for “a crime against peace.”

    The Nuremberg Principles are clear enough.

    The facts are less clear, although the argument for deliberate falsification by the COW is gathering strength.

    Entirely unclear is the possibility that anyone in authority will ever be required to face a charge of “a crime against peace”.

    So, Andrew, i’m not sure what you think I ought ot be conceding.

    However, the court martial of Lieutenant Kendall-Smith may serve as a war crimes tribunal by proxy.

  86. Terje Petersen
    November 15th, 2005 at 22:54 | #86

    “a crime against peace� sounds like a daft notion. Its a bit like a war on drugs. As if the drugs are shaking in their boots.

  87. Katz
    November 16th, 2005 at 07:37 | #87

    “Crime against peace” is a bit orotund, I agree, but measurably more so than “war against terror”? I think not.

    Both terms show unmistakable bloodlines of the American penchant for empurpled abstraction.

  88. Ian Gould
    November 16th, 2005 at 08:45 | #88

    “The Kurds might be grateful.”

    Yes, after 80 years of Arabs oppressing Kurds it’s their turn.

    Of course, no-one disputes that Saddam committed terrible crimes agaisnt the Kurds, which raises the question of why his erstwhile Kurdish collaborators Jafari and Talabani aren’t standing in the dock next to him.

  89. November 16th, 2005 at 09:57 | #89

    Andrew — I don’t care what the consensus view of the UN is, and I’m surprised that you do. I must say, I have found the war-supporters sudden affection for the UN and multi-billion dollar government foreign aid programs (which is what the war is) quite baffling.

  90. Razor
    November 16th, 2005 at 11:36 | #90

    JQ – the Geneva convention did not apply in the invasion of Afghanistan because the Taliban and Al Queda fighters do not fall within the definition of those covered by the conventions.

    The same applies for the terrorists fighting in Iraq or anywhere else.

    If you can prove that they do qualify under the Geneva Convention I will be happy to publicly withdraw my criticism, but you are WRONG.

  91. Katz
    November 16th, 2005 at 12:02 | #91

    Razor, here is the article of the 1949 Geneva Conventions that puts the lie to your comment.

    RWDBs are inclined to stop reading the Geneva Conventions at Article 4, where indeed there are limits imposed on who may be considered to be a legitimate POW. (However, those limits are rather more constraining on the freedom of action of belligerents than RWDBs are willing to concede.

    However, were RWDBs to read on to Article 5, they’d find this:

    “Article 5

    “The present Convention shall apply to the persons referred to in Article 4 from the time they fall into the power of the enemy and until their final release and repatriation.

    “Should any doubt arise as to whether persons, having committed a belligerent act and having fallen into the hands of the enemy, belong to any of the categories enumerated in Article 4, such persons shall enjoy the protection of the present Convention until such time as their status has been determined by a competent tribunal.”

    Please point readers of this thread to the relevant determinations of a “competent tribunal” on this issue of treatment of POWs of the GWOT.

  92. Andrew Reynolds
    November 16th, 2005 at 14:16 | #92

    Katz,
    You are correct about your point on the Nuremburg Principles- I therefore withdraw my request for a concession and apologise for my error.
    I am disappointed though that PrQ believes the matter as ‘settled’ – I believe it is not. I would agree, however, that, as I stated earlier, the upcoming court martial will be a good proxy test, provided they can get appropriate evidence. I am not, however, confident that either the UK or (particularly) the US government will release the evidence that would prove it one way or the other.
    .
    On a couple of the other points above -
    JH, Like many people I care about the rule of Law. While the UN exists the concensus is that it represents the law in international relations. I may believe it should be abolished / reformed / changed / left alone / idolised / declared the soverign almighty, but while it represents the law it should be respected as such, just like I do not like some aspects of our current criminal code and will compaign to change them, but if I breach those provisions I should expect to pay the appropriate penalty.
    Katz – on the Geneva Conventions, I believe you are 100% correct and find the holding of anyone in this sort of detention abhorrent. It would not matter if it were Osama himself there, he would still be entitled to an appropriate hearing and trial. If international or national law permits this then it is a law that is wrong and needs changing quickly. I would also say that your interpretation of article 5 seems correct.

  93. Razor
    November 16th, 2005 at 14:45 | #93

    You defeat your own argument. Article 5 doesn’t apply because the question of “Should any doubt arise” doesn’t apply. No doubt has arisen. Article 4 is clear in who is entitled to protection and the Taliban, Al Queda and foriegn mercenaries not in a recognised military uniform aren’t covered.

  94. Katz
    November 16th, 2005 at 14:52 | #94

    Andrew, there may indeed be an argument that existing conventions need to be changed to reflect realities unconceived of when they were promulgated in 1949 and 1950.

    Perhaps the time for the Bush regime to do that was when sympathiy for the US was high in the wake of 9/11.

    Unfortunately, Bush has destroyed much sympathy felt for the position of the US, and he has destroyed much of the credibility of the United States in foreign relations.

    Hubris and arrogance induced Bush to believe that he could achieve his ambitions despite world opinion.

    He should have learned a very expensive lesson. But I fear that he has in fact learned nothing.

  95. Katz
    November 16th, 2005 at 15:04 | #95

    Razor, the barrack room lawyer has got the better of you.

    Even if the term were “reasonable doubt” there would be a need for a presumption favourable to the detainee pending a determination by that competent tribunal.

    I’m sure you’ll recognise that “any doubt” a stronger favourable presumption than “reasonable doubt”.

  96. Razor
    November 16th, 2005 at 15:47 | #96

    Katz – you have a significant problem in that you are trying to impose peace-time civilian principles to military operations. The Geneva Conventions are very clear in who is defined as being covered by them. Members of the Iraqi Army were covered. Civilians were covered. Anybody else who wanted to fight doesn’t get the protection of the Geneva Conventions. They are just lucky they were fighting a Western Nation so that in captivity they clothed and fed and weren’t summarliy executed.

  97. November 16th, 2005 at 15:58 | #97

    Quite right Razor.

  98. Andrew Reynolds
    November 16th, 2005 at 16:49 | #98

    Razor,
    So if someone invaded Australia and you picked up a gun to defend against them after they replaced John Howard, you would legitimately be subject to indefinite detention without right of appeal if the invading power so decided? And, if the invading power were not a western nation, you would truly consider yourself lucky if not summarily executed? I do not think so.
    In any case, holding people in this way is morally wrong (IMHO). If international law permits it, then the law should be changed. Hiding behind possible loopholes in the law in the name of holding people in offshore places away from proper scrutiny merely creates a supposition that something very wrong is being done to the detainees.

  99. Katz
    November 16th, 2005 at 17:09 | #99

    Not my problem Razor, complain to the promulgators of these conventions. If you want to change them, why don’t you run for King of the World?

    You pay lawyers to tell you bad news, otherwise why bother?

    The point of Article 5 is that the person apprehended must be treated as if she were a POW until proven otherwise by a “competent tribunal”.

    In any case, these Conventions are applied only as victors’ justice.

    Alternatively, they may be used as corroborative reasons for punishing unsuccessful and unpopular leaders under domestic law.

    Thus, it is possible, though not likely, that someone in the Bush administration may face war crimes trials under US domestic laws. Reference to the Geneva Conventions in that case would simply add some legal gravity to what would essentially be a political trial.

  100. Andrew Reynolds
    November 16th, 2005 at 17:45 | #100

    Razor,
    There is legitimate doubt about this – Iraqi civilians who “spontaneously take up arms to resist the invading forces” are possibly covered. All people apprehended then have to be processed through a ‘competent tribunal’. Even if they claim to be Iraqis (but in fact are not) they must be processed through that tribunal. That has not happened.
    If the war has, in fact, finished then they should either be tried or returned home. That has also not happened.

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