Sceptics and suckers: A look back at Iraq

Ten years after the invasion of Iraq, the disastrous failure of Bush’s war is evident to just about everyone. Here’s the news from the day before the anniversary.

Debates over the case for war in Iraq coincided with the emergence of the political blogosphere and created divisions that have been pretty much set in stone ever since. Those who, for one reason or another, swallowed and repeated the lies used to push the war dug themselves further and further in over subsequent years. Those of us who were sceptical[1] of the claims made by Bush and Blair, and proven right by events, came to realise that the other side inhabited a parallel universe, in which the possibility that prior beliefs might be changed by factual evidence was largely absent.

I want to restate a point that seems to be forgotten a lot, especially by those who went along with the Bush-Blair claims about WMDs. Until December 2002, there was plenty of behavioral evidence to suggest that Saddam had WMDs, namely the fact that he had expelled (or, more precisely, refused to co-operate with) the UN weapons inspection program. Given the benefits from being declared WMD-free, this made little sense unless he had weapons. Equally, Bush and Blair were making statements that they knew what WMDs Saddam had and fairly accurate knowledge of their location. Again, this seemed (to me, at any rate) to make no sense if they were relying on a bluff that Saddam could easily call.

All of that changed, in December 2002, when Saddam readmitted the inspectors and declared that he had no WMDs. At that point, it suddenly became obvious (again, to me, at any rate) that Bush and Blair had been making it up. I naively supposed that it would be equally obvious to everyone else, and that, as a result it would be impossible to mobilise support for war. That was wrong, of course. I was particularly struck by the unanimity with which the pro-war bloggers reproduced the ever-changing propaganda lines of the Administration. No one would be surprised now, but back then, the assumption was that disputes with rightwingers were a matter of honest disagreement.

fn1. It’s striking, in view of the extreme gullibility shown by such people that the overlap with those who call themselves climate “sceptics” is very high.

95 thoughts on “Sceptics and suckers: A look back at Iraq

  1. I remember well the crazy arguments, the trolls, the sock-puppets etc..

    The pro-war crew never took a backward step.

    I looked back at your archives but unfortunately the comments have all gone.

    I found it sad that you threw in the towel on discussing the war on 27th March 2003. Absent an honest media we need all the discussion we can get on vital issues like that.

    Also wonder if you’ve re-thought the “better off without Saddam” position in retrospect?

    I’ve decided not to post anything more about the war for the moment. I can see nothing but disaster ahead – huge Iraqi casualties, both military and civilian, then a long and bitter occupation, with the likelihood of substantial Coalition losses over time in subsequent ‘counter-terrorist’ actions.

    Unfortunately, I also can’t see any way of averting this outcome. A withdrawal, leading to victory for Saddam, would be an even greater disaster than what can only be a Pyrrhic victory for the Coalition. If there is some sort of possible compromise, I have no idea what it is.

    Life, and especially war, is unpredictable. Perhaps things will take a sudden turn for the better. I hope for a quick end to war and bloodshed, even though I see no reason to expect it.

    On this anniversary I see people are still pushing the “even greater disaster” (if we didn’t do it) argument.

  2. Oops! Blockquote fail.

    The quoted pars are from: “I’ve decided…” down to “Life, and especially war…”

    And my observation is: “On this anniversary…”

  3. The statements of the inspectors made it completely clear to me that Bush and Blair were wilfully disregarding the evidence. In a world that took justice seriously those guys would be doing life.

  4. John, it was equally obvious to me and a small group of thinking colleagues at my work (at the time) that the WMD case was false, fabricated and a pretext for war. We had no more than high school certificates or Bachelor degrees. We did not work in the intelligence community, nor in the military, nor in diplomacy nor in academia. We were pretty average joes and it was very plainly obvious to us. We were incredulous that it was not as obvious to others. One thing though, we were sceptical about the offical propaganda of our society and we did respect empirical evidence.

    Everything you say about the supporters of that war and the right wing denialist universe in general is true. They have faith and ideology positions on matters such that they are always impervious to real, empirical evidence. This is highly maladaptive. Once you can’t perceive reality, you can’t react and adapt to it. This is the precise reason the deluded elites of the USA are leading 350 million ordinary good people of the USA, who don’t deserve it, into total collapse and total disaster. The US elites are also killing and maiming millions around the globe to maintain their delusions as long as possible. These are clinically psycho-pathological behaviours.

  5. I think it is also worth noting that Bush and Blair are (and certainly were at the time) fundamentalist Christians. This says a lot about the modus operandi of fundamentalist Christians and all religious fundamentalists. Fundamentalist religionists;

    (1) Believe things without empirical evidence. They call it “faith” but it is blind belief.
    (2) Disbelieve anything, even solid empirical evidence, that undermines their blind belief.
    (3) Lie through their teeth, cheat and steal to impose their ways and views.
    (4) Prate on about the sanctity of human life and then order the killings of 100,000s of humans.

    Fundemental religionists are the most vicious, dangerous, decpetive and destructive people on the planet.

  6. A lesson we should have learned in Vietnam and Korea was that
    nation building (like in the “Marshall Plan”) doesn’t work with any culture
    that does not respect (I did not say “embrace” is said
    “respect”) the Euro-America (white!) culture. South Korea and Japan
    both contributed to America and Europe and learned from us.

    Ever since Korea, nation building has not worked anywhere.
    It especially does not work in a country that includes factions
    who cannot ever respect each other. That would be any nation that
    has Islam in it. Turkey is the closest to being and exception, yet
    it is not (Kurds? Christians? Jews? To y’all it’s only a matter of time. Turkey
    is the only nation that holds out hope for respect for all human beings.
    I pray to God that all Turks can do that.)

    Had the USA exited AF and IQ after 6 months, irrespective of the state of the “war”,
    America, AF and IQ would all be so much better off.

    On the other hand, in AF, the Taliban might have just re-grouped
    and started another training ground. BUT (!!) the USA would have left
    significant intelligence assets in AF to learn of their doings. The taliban
    and al qaeda would have gotten only so far before more cruze missiles kill
    a new recruiting class. (Rinse and repeat — is SO VERY MUCH CHEAPER
    AND EFFECTIVE THAN NATION BUILDING).

    Intelligence assets are 1000’s of times cheaper that nation building.
    Does anyone doubt?

  7. fn1. It’s striking, in view of the extreme gullibility shown by such people that the overlap with those who call themselves climate “sceptics” is very high.

    Oil money is nothing if not consistent, ubiquitous, enormous and sociopathic. And as for the soi-disant libertarians who think that the oil industry is all sainted private enterprise and renewables are all a function of the devil that calls itself government… when the oil industry was clearly commandeering the US government and ordering unfunded wars to gain control of foreign oil deposits …

    But there is another category of villains who are no less functionally culpable; the careerists, centrists and craven triangulating “moderate” leaders of non-conservative parties (Blair, the Clintons, Kerry, Beazley …) They all put personal or political considerations above the lives of more than 100,000 people and the health and safety of many times more.

  8. namely the fact that he had expelled (or, more precisely, refused to co-operate with) the UN weapons inspection program.

    I can’t understand why you don’t think Saddam had reason to kicked out the inspectors. They were finding nothing and were heavily compromised and infiltrated by the CIA. The foolishness that the inspectors were reduced to included the searching of a food freezer in a palace kitchen picking out the ice-cream as though it might explode. I would have kicked them out too.

  9. “the ever-changing propaganda lines of the Administration”

    The intellectual cowardice of the warmongerers among the blogosphere when it came to swallowing every new justification as it arose was especially infuriating.

  10. Jim Birch :The statements of the inspectors made it completely clear to me that Bush and Blair were wilfully disregarding the evidence. In a world that took justice seriously those guys would be doing life.

    and the john howard government “coalition of the willing” , “babies overboard”, “AWB free market free for all” media roar ?

  11. “Ten years after the invasion of Iraq, the disastrous failure of Bush’s war is evident to just about everyone.”

    Its not evident to me. In fact it has been a tremendous success. Stick with me on this, the sooner you face reality the better off you’ll be.

    The destruction of Iraqi regional military power and economy and the creation of regional instability was the explicit prior publicly stated intention of the Bush administration promoters of the Iraq war. Those neoliberal Likkudists openly stated that their goal was to remove regional adversaries to Israel. Apart from that all the reasons given for the war were fraudulent. Even if there were WMD’s in Iraq, Israel has over 200 nuclear weapons and other WMDs whilst the United States have thousands, the hypocrisy is breathtaking. Particularly egregious was the whole bringing freedom democracy and human rights to Iraqis claim. This from the same people who supported a crippling decade long blockade combined with bombing on the people of Iraq. A blockade that led to the deaths of over a million people. A blockade that Denis Halliday, the former UN humanitarian coordinator in Baghdad who resigned in 1998 to protest against stated at the time were “genocidal”. To this day the genocidal war criminals are still wandering around unconstrained by law and what are we doing about it?

    Its easy to point at the other side

    inhabited a parallel universe, in which the possibility that prior beliefs might be changed by factual evidence was largely absent

    but many self-described progressives and leftists share with rightwingers a gullibility to the agendas and frames of reference promoted by systems of power and that common response is to instinctively accept the good intentions of the powerful. Personally when I hear a politician promoting a particular policy and the reasons for it I immediately assume that they are parroting ideology, lying about their intentions and lying about the reasons. People who are attracted to having power over others are psychopathic bastards and should never be trusted.
    Propaganda operates at many levels but ultimately what matters is ensuring that people are kept from raising themselves up by engaging in collective action that would undermine the powerful and the wealthy, most everything else is simply a diversion.

    It must be psychologically attractive to some people to deny reality and claim that a particular policy has been a failure rather than to concede that it has been a success despite your objections and that you have failed to have an effect and that you have been had, once again, engaging in a fraudulent debate deliberately designed to limit the scope of acceptable argument and to channel peoples energies into ineffectual activities. This whilst continuously, repeatedly accepting the implicit claims of good intentions and honesty of those in power.

    Here’s a tip for you to use in the future. Rather than claiming that a policy is a failure, consider that it may be a success and may in fact be what was intended all along and that you have overestimated the character and misunderstood the nature of those promoting that policy whether they are consciously aware of it or simply ideological puppets.

  12. It is remarkable to read the endless arguments on American blogs. Even staunch opponents of the war do it on the grounds that it was not in American interests, however defined. Hardly anyone in the USA seems to understand either the collapse of global US moral authority that followed its decision to wage aggressive war, or the staggering human suffering that its actions caused and continue to cause for millions of ordinary people in the Middle East. Even the most fervent ‘liberals’ seem either too timid to make a straightforward case that their own nation behaved in atrociously immoral fashion, or incapable even of understanding the moral dimension.

    hc you and I had some ill-tempered exchanges on another blog years ago about my contempt for John Howard and his government. I believed then and believe now that his fellow-travelling with the Cheney/Rumsfeld mob was the worst kind of unprincipled political opportunism and that he was to be despised for it. Likewise I despise the Rudd and Gillard Governments for never having commissioned an inquiry into the circumstances surrounding Australia’s participation in the invasion (and for mindlessly boosting the virtues of the aimless Afghanistan operation). Politicians can do all kinds of things that people disagree with and still deserve respect, but waging aggressive war – for the first time ever in Australian history – is in a uniquely unforgivable category of political expediency.

  13. “Those neoliberal Likkudists openly stated that their goal was to remove regional adversaries to Israel. ”

    Well done on in fact removing a regional adversary to Iran instead. That should make Israel safe, right?

  14. Ken,

    Some of us made wrong judgements. I spoke to a former leading person in Dept of Foreign Affairs in Australia at the time the war started and asked him about whether Iraq had WMD. He said words to the effect “Of course they do, the Americans sold them the weapons”.

    I don’t agree with the implication in John’s remarks that those making judgements at the time supporting the war were acting out of dishonesty or gullibility and that John Q, by way of contrast, saw things accurately, dispassionately and unambiguously. Nor was it true that all of those supporting the war were climate sceptics.

    Some of the self-righteous ranting in the comments preceding yours are nauseating triumphalism. Saddam was a monster and well worth getting rid of. Moreover, the claim that there were WMD was not at all fantastic then. It might be now and the cost of getting rid of this evil man is now plausibly seen as excessive.

  15. Well this is extremely unusual. I find myself disagreeing with you. I can list some people who “swallowed and repeated the lies used to push the war” and indeed supported the decision to invade yet haven’t “dug themselves further and further in over subsequent years. ”
    Matthew Yglesias, Ezra Klein, Josh Marshall, Jon Chait, Andrew Northrup (aka the poor man), Mark Kleiman, and Kevin Drum (until the last few days before the invasion). These aren’t right wingers who refuse to modify prior beliefs given new evidence. The setting in stone came later.

    Another thing. I have never understood why the presence of WMD in Iraq was considered a reason to invade rather than the opposite. It seemed obvious to me then, and seems obvious to me now, that WMD would not be secured following an invasion and that, while Saddam Hussein could be deterred some WMD would fall into the hands of tiny un deterrable irregular groups (I didn’t have al Qaeda in Iraq in mind, since it didn’t exist back then). My conviction that the invasion was a terrible idea was (briefly) shaken when I found out there were no WMD in Iraq. Note there are certainly WMD in N Korea. No one considers this a reason to invade. Quite the opposite.

    I do very much agree that the evidence about whether there were WMD in Iraq changed dramatically December 2002 through March 2003 just as you describe. As usual I feel you have hit a nail on the head. As you note, it is amazing how little effect on beliefs the total change in Saddam Hussein’s behavior and the results of inspections had. I have found no references to this evidence and how it was ignored in the mie colpe by people on the list above which I have read.

    But again I stress these are not right wingers. They are people who are left of center and usually reality based. Somehow the presence of WMD in Iraq was accepted as an agreed fact which was resistant to evidence. I, for example, was confident that there was weaponized anthrax and VX nerve gas in Iraq. This is a much broader problem than right wing lunacy. Even now, there are presumably things that “everyone knows” which are just not true.

    I understand that my error wasn’t universal, but it extended far into the normally reality based community. I also think the relatively few people who understood that there were probably no WMD in Iraq would have been much fewer if there were no blogs (uh you know how hard it is for people to stick to a belief if they don’t here it expressed by anyone else uh being as you are something of an important figure in behavioral economics).

  16. @hc
    Harry, I’m no expert on any of this, but there were detailed and easily available explanations of what Saddam was likely to have and not to have written by people qualified to make these judgements well before the war was started. What needs to be proven is that there was even room for informed and reasonable doubt that Saddam apart from being a monster was holding WMD. Please share some sources to show how people could have honestly entered the war with this position otherwise this is just more of the same nonsense.

    They didn’t just wilfully ignore the lack of WMD evidence they also ignored their own military and intelligence recommendations and then entered into a ideologically driven program of “rebuilding” that remains an ongoing disaster. There isn’t any point being triumphal unless you are Iran, but it’s time those who lead this disaster pay for their part in it.

  17. @Fred Struth
    You suggest that the real and indeed openly stated goal of the invasion of Iraq ‘was to remove regional adversaries to Israel’.

    That can’t be right, because Saddam was not (in any meaningful verifiable factual sense) an adversary to Israel.

    Possibly the people who made the decision to invade thought of Saddam as an adversary to Israel, but if so it only tends to support the suggestion that they inhabit a parallel universe where the relationship between factual evidence and beliefs is different.

  18. I thought the reason for not going to war with Iraq was Saddam had a nuclear capability and had chemical and biological weapons and he might use them. He fooled people into thinking he was hiding something.

    Who would be foolish enough to attack a nuclear armed country? They might nuke back. There are real fears of the use of chemical weapons in Syria as the civil war worsens.

    If Saddam actually had nuclear weapons, would you have supported the invasion?

  19. @J-D
    Interestingly enough J-D, Donald Rumsfeld tweeting today tacitly supports Fred’s “real goal” suggestion.

    @RumsfeldOffice
    Bibi’s 2001 advice: “The mission must determine the coalition. The coalition ought not determine the mission.”

    That I believe is the sound of Netanyahu urging Rumsfeld to cobble together his CoWs Blair and Howard and to get into Iraq despite the UN’s “No!”

    Do we believe that Rumsfeld today guilelessly talking about the advice on Iraq he received from Netanyahu in 2001 is a Rumsfeld who was not otherwise in general agreement with Israel over neocon plans for Saddam more than a year before the invasion?

    Saddam was a threat to Israel, he’d already fired Scud missiles blindly into the occupied territories and had been making well-publicized payments to Palestinian suicide bombers.

    I’ve always believed that urging from Likudists and ultra-Zionists comprised a significant part of Rummy and friends’ specious reasoning leading to their attack on Saddam.

  20. On the 10th anniversary of America’s folly I couldn’t recommend highly enough this week’s “A Message to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney From a Dying Veteran”
    truthdig.com/dig/item/the_last_letter_20130318/

    Tragic, eloquent.

  21. @Jim Rose
    The fact that the CoW massed their troops immediately outside Iraq’s borders prior to invading proves that they didn’t foresee a threat from WMDs, and therefore certainly didn’t believe the threat justification they peddled to the world.

  22. @Jim Rose

    Yes, the basic rule of thumb is that the USA does NOT attack countries with nuclear weapons. The fact they attacked Iraq twice shows that both times they were very confident IRAQ did NOT have nuclear weapons.

    It is any wonder that North Korea scrambled (and Iran is scrambling) to get nuclear weapons? Both also hide behind the skirts of an alliance with a nuclear power (China and Russia respectively).

    From the point of view of a nation that feels threatened by the US it is rational, in a number of ways, to seek a nuclear ally and seek your own nuclear weapons.

    Britain and the US, those doyens of freedom and capitalism have interesting history.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/history/9653497/British-have-invaded-nine-out-of-ten-countries-so-look-out-Luxembourg.html

    I’ll let you look up the US’s invasions and interventions post WW2. If I post another link I will be moderated. Even the single link above may be too much.

  23. Bush was a liar and the case for war a crock. The US should never have invaded. It was not in the US national interest nor morally defensible. I said so loudly at the time and feel vindicated by events.

    The Australian situation is a bit different. I don’t think supporting the US was morally defensible but the way it was done arguable was in the national interest in narrow terms. We helped a big and powerful friend beat up a miserable sod. It arguably made our big friend feel glowingly towards us. That doesn’t make it morally defensible but it does make it different.

  24. the news from the day before the anniversary

    Is this the news I forgot to read that said invest or buy shares in Halliburton?

  25. I’m particularly interested in your last comment that back then the assumption was that disputes with rightwingers involved honest disagreement. A number of debates from that time which still continue (climate change and the stolen generations come to mind) really show how difficult it is to chalk things up to “honest disagreement”. It is very hard to have a principled disagreement with someone who is unwilling to acknowledge any facts that make their position uncomfortable. I think that many of us are actually too reluctant just to call people out on these things. Browbeating is undesirable, but it might be more effective than limp-wristed efforts at persuasion.

  26. I think Fred’s on the money – the measure of success or failure of really depends on those concerned were hoping to get out of it… but I’m not a conspiracy theorist so I think that maybe it was just a “happy coincidence” that there were several parties lobbying for the same general outcome – maybe Israel, the NeoCons, angry USA politicians wanting to “get some back” for 9/11 etc.

    The fact that Iraq did have some chemical weapons is pretty much undisputed. But so did everyone involved (the USA, the British. Australia?)

    The fact that Iraq did have something of a nuclear program is also well documented. Did they have working nukes? Probably not, but many of the others concerned did.

    The first thing that upsets me was that circumvention of the UN inspection process and any future sanctions it might have produced.

    Sure, the UN takes forever to get around to things – but I suspect the end result would have been a whole lot less unpleasant for the Iraqis – not to mention the several thousand coalition personnel who died.

    We also lost an opportunity for the UN to establish the required skills (credibility?) to rein in future miscreants who insist on developing nuclear/biological/chemical weapons and perhaps to get a little bit more serious about treaties for decommissioning the existing weapons.

  27. PrQ:

    Given the benefits from being declared WMD-free, this made little sense unless he had weapons.

    I assumed at the time it was double-bluff. He wanted the west to beleive he had weapons, precisely so they wouldn’t invade. After all, nobody was invading North Korea, were they?

    He overlooked an obvious point — whereas the west knew that he had no weapons, they were certain the North Koreans did. The west invaded because they knew they were afe from WMD deployment and because wag the dog applied and didn’t invade North Korea, because wag the dog would be forgotten if those crazy North Koreans did something stupid which caused a mess on China’s or South Korea’s border.

  28. hc :
    Some of us made wrong judgements. I spoke to a former leading person in Dept of Foreign Affairs in Australia at the time the war started and asked him about whether Iraq had WMD. He said words to the effect “Of course they do, the Americans sold them the weapons”.

    As a young PhD chemistry student at the time, I had a chance to speak to a ex-weapon inspector who said that there was pretty good indirect evidence that the WMD program had been shut down. Most of Iraqi science labs are pretty old and get by on very limited budgets, whereas the WMD programs were well funded. The inspectors found very new multiple use equipment (such as weighing balances) scattered throughout University labs – and it seemed obvious that they had been scavenged/stolen from the WMD programs.

  29. The defection of Saddam’s son in law Hussein Kamel in 1995 provided very strong evidence for the existence and subsequent destruction of the Iraqi WMD program.

  30. As RW notes, this was not all Likudnik, PNAC, Exxon and Halliburton. Many influential people knew that opposition to the invasion would be career suicide, even if their well-founded suspicions were correct. And there was always the outside chance that White House, State, Defense, CIA and Downing Street were not bullshitting in unison. Last century we still had some residual faith in the sanity, prudence, even probity, of these institutions. For many, that faith rendered the obvious truth incredible.

  31. The same mass murderers, who illegally imposed sanctions and launched two wars against Iraq in 1991 and 2003 causing a horrific death toll possibly as high as 3.2 million, are now, through terrorist proxies, waging a war against the people of Syria and its government. Amongst the latest victims of this war are 35 Syrians killed in a chemical weapons attack.

    SYRIA: US-NATO Backed Al Qaeda Terrorists Armed with WMDs. Chemical Weapons against the Syrian People

    From Global Research, 19 March 2013

    After a 10 year war/occupation in Iraq, the death of over a million people including thousands of US soldiers, all based on patently false claims of the nation possessing “weapons of mass destruction,” (WMDs), it is outrageous hypocrisy to see the West arming, funding, and politically backing terrorists in Syria who in fact both possess, and are now using such weapons against the Syrian people.

    At least 25 are reported dead after a chemical weapons attack targeting Syrian soldiers was carried out by NATO-backed terrorists in the northern city of Aleppo.

    Aleppo is located near the Syrian-Turkish border. Had Libya’s looted stockpiles of chemical weapons been shipped to Syria, they would have passed through Turkey along with weapons sent from Libya by the US and thousands of Libyan terrorists who are admittedly operating inside Syria, and would most likely be used to target cities like Aleppo.

    Worse yet, any chemical weapons imported into the country would implicate NATO either directly or through gross negligence, as the weapons would have passed through NATO-member Turkey, past US CIA agents admittedly operating along the border and along side Western-backed terrorists inside Syria.

  32. @frankis
    “Saddam was a threat to Israel, he’d already fired Scud missiles blindly into the occupied territories and had been making well-publicized payments to Palestinian suicide bombers.”

    Now this is pretty precisely the sort of stuff JQ was talking about when he said the war’s supporters blindly followed every twist and turn of the Bushies’ talking points. As each justification for he war was discredited they effortlessly brought forth new ones, and instead of even noticing the change most just adopted “the fallacy of giving known liars the benefit of the doubt” (in Daniel Davies’ well known words).

    The Scud firing took place during the 1991 US invasion and would not be repeated absent a similar invasion. Saddam never gave money to suicide bombers – he gave money for new houses to the FAMILIES of suicide bombers who had had their houses demolished by the IDF as a form of collective punishment. In both cases they were Saddam’s way of trying to get desperately needed Palestinian and Syrian support – in reality he couldn’t care less about Israel.

  33. @Robert in UK

    “I’m particularly interested in your [John Quiggin’s] last comment that back then the assumption was that disputes with rightwingers involved honest disagreement. A number of debates from that time which still continue (climate change and the stolen generations come to mind) really show how difficult it is to chalk things up to “honest disagreement”.”

    Yet as I’ve discovered over the last few months, the most avid left wing fans of this site subscribe to range of crackpot theories on:

    – the Tutsi genocide in Rwanda
    – the Bosniak genocide in the former Yugoslavia,
    – fluoride in drinking water,
    – GMO agriculture,
    – the Evil Empire (America),
    – Capitalism (Almost as evil as the Evil Empire),
    – the Zionists, and
    – the joys of Communism for a New Century

    It seems clear to me that both the left and right tribes consist of roughly 70% irrational delusionists and 30% persons of reason when averaged out over the long term. These numbers see-saw with the right currently having a higher percentage of delusionists, but the extent of delusionism on the left (my tribe) is still enough to aggravate my natural melancholy.

  34. @Mel

    Mel. My sympathies. Those left-lurking delusions seem difficult to confront, but the difference is that none of them are currently prominent within majority-prone political parties in the US or here. You don’t have to look hard to find the delusions I mentioned in the modern Liberal party.

  35. @Mel

    Mel

    The voices you are hearing are in your head.

    Most of these have not been recently discussed or introduced – except by you.

  36. TerjeP,

    Even on those very narrow ‘national interest’ terms, I’d argue we erred.

    Other nations put a price on their co-operation and bargained hard.

    We played the faithful friend, ever willing to help out for nothing in return except gratitude, which earned us little more than the satisfaction of being taken for granted.

  37. Mel and I have tangled before – with the result that I have no respect whatsoever for him.

    I’ll take the reference to “flouride” in the list of “crackpot theories” to be a reference (at least partly) to one of our exchanges. He deliberately misrepresented me – my argument was with the fact that the miraculous joys of flouridation were so beyond the abilities of comprehension of Qld citizens that the Bligh government needed to impose it without any shred of a mandate or even a pretend ‘public consultation’.

    ‘GMO’ is also a perfect example of something which is so miraculously wonderful that its proponents refuse to have such products labelled – because, people won’t buy them if they are. Crazy! UFO stuff!

    I missed Mel’s particularly nasty swipe (back then) because JQ deleted it before I saw it.

    Reality denial is a strange illness and not a good thing for our society.

  38. Those with a genuine interest in the etiology of the war against Saddam’s Iraq would do well to read this article by Fukuyama in the NYT: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/19/magazine/neo.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

    You can’t understand the war without becoming acquainted with neocon’s leading lights and their influence on the Bush Administration.

    @Robert in UK

    “Those left-lurking delusions seem difficult to confront, but the difference is that none of them are currently prominent within majority-prone political parties in the US or here.”

    Untrue. Labor State Governments have placed a moratorium on most GMO crops and the Greens want a complete moratorium.

  39. @Robert in UK

    “Those left-lurking delusions seem difficult to confront, but the difference is that none of them are currently prominent within majority-prone political parties in the US or here.”

    Untrue. Labor State Governments have placed a moratorium on most GMO crops and the Greens want a complete moratorium.

    Golden Rice appears to be just around the corner but Greenpeace et al will resort to anything to thwart it.

  40. @derrida derider
    “… in reality he couldn’t care less about Israel”

    OK, let’s suppose that was so … but did he pose a threat to Israel, was he perceived by Netanyahu as such, and did Likudists (let’s call them) encourage America to attack Saddam?

    Sorry if I’m missing the point here somewhere, but also I’m unaware of the US having ever used the Scuds or the Palestinian payments as any kind of rationale (“Bushies’ talking points”) for their attack.

  41. @Fred Struth
    Good point Fred. I thought along similar lines a couple of years after the invasion. Creating the instability made it very difficult for Iraq to negotiate a fair deal over it’s oil. The war wasn’t so much about getting the oil as it was about creating chaos so that a deal favourable to the oil conglomerates could be made with which ever poor bastard had managed to stay alive long enough to be elected. You see in the west we don’t steal things we. We just make you an offer you can’t refuse.

  42. I assume PrQ doesn’t want this thread clogged up with the antiscience Left’s anti-fluoride and anti-GM oddballery, so I’ll take up Megan’s points in the sandpit.

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