October 04, 2003


The BBC’s Jonathan Marcus, using the latest sonic voting-intention technology, detects a pro-Clark mood:

Last Thursday evening, at a dinner in New York, I listened to the Democratic candidates who hope to contest the presidency in 2004.

All eyes were on the newest runner - former general Wesley Clark. Anticipation mounted. And a few moments into the general's speech there was an almost audible sigh of relief from the hundreds of party faithful in the audience.

That sigh said one thing - here was a man who could indeed beat Mr Bush in the presidential race.

How could an inaudible sigh say anything? Possibly the same way David Kay’s interim report to Congress on Iraq’s WMD capacity says whatever Tim Dunlop wants it to say:

The interim report presented to Congress yesterday by the CIA's chief weapon's snoop, David Kay, brings to an end the whole Iraq-WMD saga ...

No, it does not. The word “interim” is a clue. After only three months of searching, about 92% of Iraqi weapons sites are yet to be examined, as the report states:

There are approximately 130 known Iraqi Ammunition Storage Points (ASP), many of which exceed 50 square miles in size and hold an estimated 600,000 tons of artillery shells, rockets, aviation bombs and other ordinance. Of these 130 ASPs, approximately 120 still remain unexamined.

Back to Dunlop:

... there are no weapons of mass destruction; there were no weapons of mass destruction.

There were no weapons of mass destruction? How far back would you like to go? As for there being no weapons of mass destruction ... well, at the moment there is no water in my kitchen sink. But there is a tap. And I have plans; a program, if you will, not unlike one of the many located by Kay’s investigators:

We have discovered dozens of WMD-related program activities and significant amounts of equipment that Iraq concealed from the United Nations during the inspections that began in late 2002. The discovery of these deliberate concealment efforts have come about both through the admissions of Iraqi scientists and officials concerning information they deliberately withheld and through physical evidence of equipment and activities that ISG has discovered that should have been declared to the UN.

More from Dunlop:

Iraq was not an imminent threat. There was no threatening storm. The fact is, this was a war of choice sold in the most hysterical terms as a war of necessity.

As Tim well knows, the war was never presented by the US as a response to imminent threat. The war was preventative. He’ll recall George W. Bush’s words:

Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike? If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words, and all recriminations would come too late. Trusting in the sanity and restraint of Saddam Hussein is not a strategy, and it is not an option.

Wasn’t Bush meant to be the one who stuggled with words? His opponents seem baffled by even the most obvious statements. They hear “interim” and interpret it as “conclusion”. They hear “not imminent” and believe this to mean “imminent”. They hear sighs ... or rather, they don’t hear sighs, and yet are still able to find meaning in them.

Posted by Tim Blair at October 4, 2003 04:05 PM

I don't know why everyone is so down on Clark. Didn't we get a few bombs in on the Chinese during that Yugoslovakia thang? Oh well...

Maybe there was an audible sigh of relief that an Arkansan Democrat presidential candidate didn't wave their penis as a greeting to all the womenfolk.

Posted by: arlo at October 4, 2003 at 04:22 PM

Want evidence that Iraq had chemical weapons? There's been no happy dance from Chirac about the lack of chemical weapons. That's because France has an intelligence service - a good one.

Posted by: Dylan at October 4, 2003 at 04:38 PM

You can't say that about Tim Dunlop. He's PhD - poor hopeless dickhead.

Posted by: Errol Simple at October 4, 2003 at 04:48 PM

Even Andrew Sullivan didn’t read Bush’s statement quite right.

Andrew says that Bush clearly conceded that the threat was not imminent.

But in fact Bush conceded that the threat was not clearly imminent.

Now that’s really quite a difference.

Much of the criticism of Jessica Lynch’s rescue is based on a retrospective delusion of an absence of uncertainty & risk. We DID know she was in a war zone.

The USA is out to reduce the size, complexity, & OPACITY of the swamp. We DO know that dangerous things from the swamp reach out & bomb us.

We DID know that Saddam was a repeat perp in dissent suppression, brutality, mass murder, expansionist aggression, WMD acquisition, use, & concealment from UN inspectors.

Now we see confirmed again: he had programs, he wanted nukes, he defied & lied to the UN inspectors, etc., etc. Case closed.

Or it should be case closed. But then the leftists start rehearsing the pre-war arguments. The whole argument over again. One more time!

We were supposed to put up with Saddam & Qusay/Uday indefinitely into the future? Keep our military built up & on high alert just outside Iraq indefinitely into the future (technically unfeasible) & with ever the less credible a threat of actual decision to use? While WMD-adaptable tech development marches ever more rapidly on, world-wide? Power, accessibility, miniaturization, delivery, deadly synergies. Not feasible. Feasibility is an important factor in any ETHICAL consideration of what to do. To omit feasibility from consideration raises the odds of wasting lives, mass carnage, mass horror, & of ending up doing it all for nothing. At some point one has to wonder how the left can avoid knowing this. The political, logistical, & long term tech-threat LIMITS of our window of opportunity were legitimate & compelling factors in our decision to invade. Generally, FEASIBILITY is an important factor that the left instinctively tries to rule out as illegitimate or uncompelling regarding what the USA should do.

The presumptions were all against Saddam, the burden of proof entirely on him. He & his regime could not have the rights or legitimate grievances of somebody presumed innocent.

The runup to the war wasn’t one more effort to see whether we could “get along with” him but rather his last chance to come clean on terms & in a time-frame logistically &/or politically optimal for us, our allies in the region, & our troops at risk. Saddam was supposed to cooperate ON OUR TERMS. We know what cooperation looks like, as Condi said. In the Ukraine, South Africa, & elsewhere.

Invading at that time was the alternative to waiting through a summer of incredible heat, to a time when it would’ve become increasingly difficult for us to maintain our forces built up in the area - the build-up that even Blix admitted was why Saddam gave any cooperation at all. Life would’ve become increasingly difficult politically for our allies in the region. And a new anti-war tune would’ve emerged, probably led by Chirac - if it’s so important, why hasn’t the US invaded already?. (Chirac’s government 1998: “It’s time for the inspectors to wrap their work up & leave”-collapse of Chirac’s credibility as an “honest broker.”).

Chirac merely spun Resolution 1441 in a phony way that was also a double-cross against Colin Powell. And we were already authorized by previous resolutions all the way back to 1992. Somebody’s wanting yet another UNSC resolution does not invalidate or vitiate previous resolutions. It is false that resolutions are good only until or unless de Villepin &/or Putin &/or the Chinese make a speech saying otherwise. Their dancing on the fence is what finally destroyed the credibility of the UNSC & its resolutions in matters of war & peace.

Might as well stop here, this was long. And, apparently, the Left will never treat it as case closed.

Posted by: ForNow at October 4, 2003 at 04:52 PM

look, tim dunlop is not suggesting that bush said iraq was an imminent threat. tim dunlop is saying that bush sold the war as a necessity rather than a choice. those are two different things. rather than contradicting dunlop, the bush quote you cite actually confirms precisely what he is saying re how bush justified the war.

in short: keep up the good work, blair.

Posted by: adam at October 4, 2003 at 05:17 PM

Dunlop’s assumption is that the war could be necessary only if the threat was imminent & there were massive WMD ready to rumble, gigantic equipment of some kind, I guess, huge ICBMs paraded through the streets of Baghdad.

This is a stupid, short-sighted, irresponsible view.

I have yet to see a single leftist even try to address the longer-term issues that were involved. I don’t think that they’re able to. The intellectual capacity is not there. We’re arguing with verbose monkeys.

Posted by: ForNow at October 4, 2003 at 05:33 PM

For instance, the idea of evidence is difficult for Leftists because of their long love affair with Marxist crackpottery. The idea of established patterns of behavior as facts that one can act upon, being an evidence-related idea, is also challenging to the average Leftist. They seem to be unaware of the connection between the idea of evidence & the idea of an established pattern. The fact that Saddam had established patterns of behavior does not seem relevant to Leftists. Most importantly, even when a Leftist can talk about ideas of evidence & of established patterns, their thinking shows no evidence of having put such ideas into intellectual practice. They don’t also build into their thinking the recognition of the ongoing & increasingly rapid development of technologies adaptable for mass destruction. They don’t see its ramifications because the instant they think of something else, they forget about it, like an infant forgetting a ball that has rolled behind a chair.

It’s hard, I know, but they ought to try thinking, rather than just stringing words together.

Posted by: ForNow at October 4, 2003 at 05:47 PM

On the topic of Dunlop, he says that George Bush didn't know our PM's name, and told me to lighten up when I pointed out that Dunlop was incorrect.

Posted by: Andjam at October 4, 2003 at 05:57 PM

"And, apparently, the Left will never treat it as case closed."

They'll just keep beating that dead horse hoping the majority of the public will come to see things the 'correct way'.

"The fact that Saddam had established patterns of behavior does not seem relevant to Leftists."

Exactly. Do they remember the Kurds? Also, NOBODY questioned the fact the WMDs existed. It was the way in which we were going to get Saddam to comply with the UN resolution that was the sticking point. Even Hillary Clinton, no Bush fan, has said the existence of the WMDs was never in question.

To be honest, I wasn't 100% behind going into Iraq. Pres. Bush, PMs. Blair and Howard, and the other coalition heads were convinced, based on the intelligence reports they had, that Saddam was a threat they had to take out NOW. I believe they acted to protect their citizens and that's great because that's their jobs.

I'd much rather spend the money and go through the pain of war OVER THERE now, then sit back and wait to see which Western country will be hit next. Hopefully, we'll get to dispense with a lot of the jihadists in Iraq if they keep coming from all over the world to fight there.

The Islamists groups are like tentacles of an octopus and they need to be chopped off one tentacle at a time. We're working on two now. There's more that need chopping.

Posted by: Chris Josephson at October 4, 2003 at 07:12 PM

"and told me to lighten up when I pointed out that Dunlop was incorrect."

heh...that might be a useful technique for more bloggers to use when they stuff up...
"ha,ha tricked ya, It was just a joke blog...ha,ha...gulp)
or maybe Andrew Gilligan could give it a try as well!

Posted by: JB at October 4, 2003 at 07:29 PM

The Left are just completely disconnected from reality. It's frightening.

Posted by: Evil Pundit at October 4, 2003 at 08:32 PM

Great post. Especially loved the "no water in my kitchen sink" line.

Posted by: Beldar at October 4, 2003 at 09:47 PM

Personally, I think it's time we impeached Roosevelt.

A brutal war, many dead, Hitler 'missing', and still, STILL, no evidence at all that he was even linked to Pearl Harbor!!!!!


Posted by: Wilbur at October 4, 2003 at 10:41 PM

It's not surprising Hillary and Bill supported Bush. If Saddam didn't have WMDs in 2003, then unless Operation Desert Fox destroyed all of Saddam's WMDs or Saddam unilaterally disarmed between 1998 and 2003, Saddam didn't have WMDs at the start of Operation Desert Fox, which'd mean Bill was also guilty of military action on grounds as (in)valid as Bush's.

There's also the possibility Hillary supported Bush because Hillary plans on running for president and would rather leave others to criticise Bush.

Mind you, I'd rather Bill or Hillary Clinton than the current Democratic front-runners.

Posted by: Andjam at October 4, 2003 at 10:51 PM

And his nuclear weapon program was much over-hyped.

Posted by: Andjam at October 4, 2003 at 10:52 PM

His = Hitler's, not Saddam's.

Posted by: Andjam at October 4, 2003 at 10:52 PM

The "imminent" attribution to Pres. Bush discredits whatever follows in any written or oral commentary. It is the straw man set up to be knocked down and those who use this are either stupid or despicable.Most of them are not stupid and fall into the class of propagandist who repeats the big lie over and over until it becomes the "truth". What hurts, is that they are winning the war for the "hearts and minds" of the American, British and Australian people.

Posted by: Ted at October 5, 2003 at 03:02 AM

Well, let's wait just a second.

I strongly supported the war; thought it was necessary, believed Saddam/Iraq was a threat to the region and that the only way we can help non-radical Islam and Arabs defeat the radical Islamists/Arabs is by providing a "safe harbour" for them. That's Iraq. WMDs, terrorism, promoting a sort of "Copernican revolution" in the Arab world, et cetera. The reasons for taking action are numerous and irrefutable.

And, no doubt, the critics of the war are really critics of Bush (or Howard or Blair). They ignore the thousands of statements (literally) made by Clinton, Gore, Hillary Clinton, Chirac, UN, Blix, Daschle, Kennedy (all of them) et cetera that all said that Iraq continued to harbor WMDs.

However, members of the Bush Administration did occasionally exagerrate the threat posed by Saddam. Rumsfeld testified before Congress that Iraq was an "immediate threat" to the U.S. Not accurate; he may have believed it; but I don't think we can say that that was true.

With the risk of sounding like a complete apologist, we know that supporters in ANY cause tend, consciously or not, willfully or not, to go that extra mile. And if you're a supporter of that cause, of that movement, you tend to overlook or excuse any hyperbole. Human nature.

But, our intelligence agencies have failed miserably. They provided information to our elected leaders about specific locations of WMDs held by Iraq. Of specific quantities and types.

Where are those materials? Who messed up? Are they still there but hidden? Who moved them? When?

I don't for one second believe, pace Dunlop, that Bush, Howard et al. lied. They were basing their polices on what the intelligence agencies provided them. But did they exagerrate on occasion? Yes. Did they put the best face on the cause and ignore the doubts, the qualifiers. Yeah.


Posted by: SteveMG at October 5, 2003 at 04:40 AM

"All eyes were on the newest runner - 'former' general Wesley Clark." When did Wesley Clark become a former general? I knew he was a retired general. I think the 'former' is just to make general Clark more palatable for anti-war lefties. See, general Clark is not a general anymore. He was a general then he saw the light and the error of George Bush's ways. What a pantsload. The Democrats would, and have, run Bozo the Clown for office if they thought he could get elected. So much for principles. Heh heh.

Posted by: Harry at October 5, 2003 at 07:55 AM

You know you're full of crap -- there are literally hundreds of statements by Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice and Powell in which they state that they know that Saddam has (present tense) WMD and Rumsfeld even said in March he knew where they were.

You have to put this in the context of March. Bush gave Blix less than two months to search for weapons, then said that he had his chance and started the killing that continues to this day. But Kay and his group have had six months to search for weapons, and they are complaining that it isn't enough time. If that isn't enough time, why did we go to war in March without giving the inspections a proper amount of time?

Plus, Kay says that the WMD programs shut down in 1998. Looks like Clinton's policy actually worked. And it didn't cost 200 billion, 400 American lives, and 2500 American arms, legs, eyes or feet.

I can see why an Australian thinks this is just fine. It's not your money, and your people aren't doing the dying. But I'm sitting here thinking why did we do this?

We had Iran, a real terrorist nation, with real ties to fundamentalists, with a real nuclear weapons program, and all we did was encourage them to speed up their program and refuse to cooperate with inspectors (because Iraq's compliance shows that's suicide). We spent all of these resources and lives in Iraq, and the only thing we have to show for it is a nuclear north korea, a nuclear Iran, a soon to be nuclear Saudi Arabia, and I'd bet, within a decade, a nuclear Syria. From a strategic standpoint, it was idiotic.

General Clark can do better. Christ, Schwarzeneggar could do better.

Posted by: pj at October 5, 2003 at 08:08 AM

I disagree strongly with your posts. Let's take a couple of them on:

(1) You seriously believe - seriously - that Iran is building nuclear weapons because we went into Iraq? They've been working on these programs for over a decade, if not more.

You say: "We encouraged them [Iran] to speed it up and refuse to cooperate with inspectors."

How did they speed it up? What does that mean?

Do you actually believe that they would cooperate if Gore had been elected president? That if we had not taken action in Iraq, they would have let the inspectors in?

This is not a serious argument, PJ. I'm sorry. This is why Democrats and the left have no serious national security policy.

(2) Your approach is based on the view that our actions are always the driving force behind the actions of our enemies. This is the approach that we tried with North Korea. How did that turn out?
My goodness, Iran has been supporting terrorism against us since George Bush was watching his baseball team play in Arlington a decade ago. Anyone who thinks that if we play nice with them, that they'll reciprocate has his head in the sand (if not elsewhere).

(3) There are literally hundreds of statements by Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, Gore, Daschle, Kennedy, Gephardt, Frank, Levin, and on and on from the mid 1990s to last year all agreeing that they believed Saddam had WMD. All of their statements were based on essentially the same intelligence information that Bush and the Administration based their statements on.

(4) Kay DID NOT say the WMD program shut down in 1998. He said that the NUCLEAR PROGRAM shut down in 1998. Not the ENTIRE WMD program. Read his report.

Sorry, this was the right action.

I think it's a real cheap short at our Australian allies who have been supporting us for you to say that they're not sacrificing. They've sacrificed for us for a long time. Low blow.

To our Aussie friends, PJ speaks for a very small group of people. The overwhelming majority of Americans appreciate your support and sacrifice.

PJ, you should be ashamed of yourself, my friend.


Posted by: SteveMG at October 5, 2003 at 08:36 AM

Verbatim quotes from the Kay INTERIM report:

"Iraq's WMD programs spanned more than two decades, involved thousands of people, billions of dollars, and was elaborately shielded by security and deception operations that continued even beyond the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom."

The team found:
"[D]ozens of WMD-related program activities and significant amounts of equipment that Iraq concealed from the United Nations during the inspections that began in late 2002."

As the President said:
"Extensive work remains to be done on his biological, chemical and nuclear weapons programs. But these findings already make clear that Saddam Hussein actively deceived the international community, that Saddam Hussein was in clear violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1441, and that Saddam Hussein was a danger to the world."

Apologize for the lazy copy-and-paste job, but the above needed to be quoted accurately.

This is after 3 months of investigation with dozens of sites and hundreds (hundreds) of facilities still to be checked.

By the way, two Iraqi scientists who talked to the US were immediately shot afterwards by Saddam's thugs. One survived; the other died. Kay says that many of the scientists interviewed are still terrified to talk, fearing a return of Saddam who, if he got power back after we left (as many Bush haters want), would slaughter them and their families.

Folks, we're winning. The other side is losing.


Posted by: SteveMG at October 5, 2003 at 08:51 AM

It is true that at some point in late 2002 (I think it was then), some in the Administration -- Cheney in particular, as I recall -- started painting the Iraqi threat in strong enough terms that some conservatives (like Mark Steyn) started asking why we were waiting any longer to invade. Subsequently, Administration claims were toned down somewhat, & remained that way, & this is what we hear in Bush’s State of the Union.

There is an impatience in leftist thinking that keeps resulting in false equations such as "possession of WMD" = "imminent threat" or "clear & immediate threat" & so on. This makes it all the more difficult to discuss the gathering threat represented by possession of WMD in defiance & concealment from UN inspectors, even though the WMD are not necessarily all ready to rumble in some massive form. Why should it matter if it's not ready for parades of massive ICBMs through the streets? This was all already discussed before the war. These arguments are old & tired. The Left is into reruns.

To top it off, the Left talks as though it never even heard the arguments. I have yet to see a single leftist address or even recognize the existence of any of the feasibility & window-of-opportunity issues which I raised in my earlier post. The sheer paucity of attention which those issues receive from the Left not only undermines any confidence that one might have that one is receiving ANY intelligent & constructive criticism from the other side, it also represents a grave failure of responsibility on the part of the Left. There was a time when the public process of debate & dialog was that through which foreign policy thinking & the important issues in it were spread to rather larger numbers of people. The Left is egregiously AWOL in its educative function, just as it is egregiously AWOL in its ever flaunted & brandished cultural-critical function when it comes to (1) Islamofascism &, more generally, (2) Sharia.

The Left has become as superficial & soundbyte-driven as the cheapest commercial productions that the Left endlessly criticizes -- which criticisms themselves were always all the fiercer in the attempt to distract from the crass (& tyrannical) cults of personality which their more extreme governments have repeatedly imposed on the masses which they have oppressed worse than any system ever had before 1917.

Posted by: ForNow at October 5, 2003 at 10:44 AM

I would add that, if somebody has a URL to a reasonably trustworthy source where Rumsfeld is quoted as having said that Iraq represented an "immediate threat," then that somebody shouldn't be coy, but provide us with the URL.

And no, one cannot make an automatic equation between Administration members’ having painted the threat in stronger terms than they did later, & Rumsfeld's surmisably having said "immediate threat."

Posted by: ForNow at October 5, 2003 at 10:58 AM

Excellent post.

However, critics (and supporters - i.e., me) still can ask the question(s): President Bush et al. gave specific numbers, quantities and details of WMD held by Saddam. At specific locations. Very detailed allegations.

Why were those statements wrong?

What happened?

My own view is that, of course, they were not lying. They were relying - as did Clinton et al. -on intelligence reports provided by CIA, NSA et cetera. But that intelligence turned out to - it appears at this stage - completely wrong.

What is very disturbing is that there doesn't seem to be any type of internal review by our intelligence agencies over these apparents failures. Perhaps it is still too early. Perhaps they're afraid to not because of any corruption in the process; but because of incompetence in the process.

Were I president (hah), I'd be lopping off some heads (metaphorically speaking of course).


Posted by: SteveMG at October 5, 2003 at 10:59 AM

In addition to SMG and ForNow's perceptive posts there is more that needs to be said about the UN's effort to find Saddam's WMDs. The UN inspectors were trying to find the WMDs while the Iraqis were actively concealing them. It is highly unlikely that UNMOVIC's small inspection team - 110, if I remember correctly , which the French wanted to triple as late as February 2003 - would have been able to find the WMD programs even if given unlimited time to do so. About the only hope UNMOVIC inspectors had of finding anything was stumbling on an Iraqi mistake, which is probably the case with the thiodiglycol found in a lab.

The UNMOVIC inspectors were also subject to Iraqi surveillance and intimidation. Apparently the Iraqis had compiled detailed dossiers on the inspectors and in some instances even inquired - by name - as to the health of family members. It is conceivable that the inspectors were less than highly motivated to find what they were searching for.

Posted by: ZsaZsa at October 5, 2003 at 03:38 PM

to "for now", get off your lazy arse and google it, if you're interested.

rumsfeld, testifying before the House armed services committee:

No terrorist state poses a greater and more immediate threat to the security of our people and the stability of the world than the regime of Saddam Hussein.
also, i did say something earlier, which everyone seems to have ignored.

Posted by: adam at October 5, 2003 at 04:55 PM


Your posting contains a lot of sense.

To all the others who keep posting about "WMD'S
& how terrible it is that none have been found:
The WMD issue was for the benefit of the common media--an arguable reason. Sadaam did have WMD's in 1991, supplied by the USA, Germany & France.
He surely did'nt destroy them without keeping records. They are still somewhere.

The reason for the US led unseating of Sadaam (some call it a war ?) was to increase stability in the region--Sadaam was threat to stability and thus a threat to western world economic stability.
That region contains 2/3 of the world's known oil reserves.
If the price per bbl of oil were to go to US$35, the US economy would crash; so would your computers.

Have a nice day Gadfly

Posted by: Gadfly at October 5, 2003 at 05:15 PM


You are easily confused. To say a threat is "more immediate" than others is not to say the threat is by itself immediate.

As for your earlier comment, it was probably ignored because it didn't make sense. Dunlop clearly suggested that Bush sold the war as a response to an imminent threat. How old are you, by the way? I hate arguing with kids.

Posted by: tim at October 5, 2003 at 05:27 PM


Tim is unfair when he says that your post didn't make sense; I understood your point but didn't think it merited comment. (Tim, didn't your mother ever speak to you about being nice to those less fortunate?)

As Saddam aspired to be the leader of the Arab world he sought to have a very high profile. When the US finally decided to begin cleaning out the sewer that is the Middle East, it was only natural that it went after the biggest sewer rat in sight.

Posted by: S Whiplash at October 5, 2003 at 09:38 PM

Steve MG,

Excellent posts.

It becomes clearer now that in more wars than most, truth has taken a major hit, and is bleeding profusely.

You put the point quite succintly - if inetlligence could point so clearly to actual, western society threatening WMDS/or equivalents, why is it so difficult to keep a track on them, and produce evidence relatively shortly after the military engagement ended?

There seems to be a disturbing chain of shoulder shrugging, and department blame-shifting in endless circles. Where would you suggest the head-chopping might occur? I agree that "they're lying" is not a particularly useful line of discussion, more useful may be/may have been "is there anyone in a responsible position who can independently verify the evidence we are presenting to make a case for urgent attack on Iraq" further, "and will that intelligence be updated on a daily basis to keep our forces well briefed on their position, and capabilities?"

as a tax-payer, i would want to feel confident of fundamentals like that, and were i a military employee, i want to be triple-sure.

and tim, perhaps if you suggest the war was not sold as a threat to the immediate safety of the western world, perhaps you could suggest what the selling line was? i recall a blair speech or two that made that abundantly clear.

Posted by: chico o'farrill at October 5, 2003 at 09:50 PM


Your responses miss my point entirely.

Iran is a REAL problem, NK is a REAL problem, Iraq was no threat whatsoever. So who did we focus on? Iraq. Why? Iran and NK surely believe it was because Iraq was weak.

Since Bush labeled those 3 as an "axis of evil," and then went on the warpath against Iraq, Iran and NK took all pretenses off of their nuclear ambitions. They have openly and defiantly sought to become nuclear powers because they think the only thing that will stop us from invading is a nuclear missile.

Contrast that to 94, when Clinton got the NK's to stop their plutonium program. They cranked that program up again after Bush threatened them. Now, they also started a clandestine uranium program in 1999, but that is a much slower program, we had wind of it, and there were means to pressure them to drop that too. But that's all gone now.

With Iran -- yes I think they have speeded up their program in response to Bush. They no longer try to hide it. In fact, I think they will declare themselves nuclear long before they actually have it. They don't have to work secretly anymore, so they can work faster.

Now what can we do about it? Nothing really. Bush has left us with few options. We're starting to apply international pressure and demand inspections, but only a fool would accept that after watching what happened to Saddam. Disarmament is now seen as suicide.

We could invade Iran, but our entire army is bogged down in Iraq, so we really can't.

There were better ways to deal with all of this. The threats that Bush had made last year had served their purposes. We had arms inspectors in Iraq again. It was impossible at that point for Iraq to have done anything that put the US at risk from a WMD perspective. It was a perfect moment to switch tactics and aim resources at higher priority situations, like Iran's nuclear program, or Pakistan's "look the other way" harboring of al qeada in its northwest territories.

Look, I could go on and on, but tagging me as some "anti-war" leftie is stupid stereotyping. I just wish Bush's team had acted strategically, made increasing US safety its number 1 priority, and used war as a last resort, not a first resort.

Posted by: pj at October 5, 2003 at 11:43 PM


Tim, how sublime... able.

Posted by: Charles at October 6, 2003 at 01:39 AM

Couple of rejoinders (got to get the last word in, or try to):

(1) I never labeled you an anti-war lefty. I just said that I thought your approach to security issues was symptomatic of the problems that Democrats have in this country on these issues.

(2) And the problem is with your response: That somehow these enemies or threats to the US or the region took these actions the day after Bush placed them in the "axis of evil."

Foreign policy experts for more than three decades (if not longer) have been warning about the dangers of nuclear proliferation. That once the genie got out of the bottle, once this technology and know-how spread, others countries would develop their own nuclear arsenals. Whether Bush got elected or not, this development was going to happen.

(3) I think your arguments about North Korea are flat out wrong. It's clear that they were playing a shell game with us; stringing out diplomatic negotiations while secretly continuing their program. The Clinton approach, probably dropped on him by Carter's diplomatic efforts, failed miserably.

Did you seriously think that this hermit regime, this group of fanatics with their warped worldview, was going to give up their program if we played nice? I don't know what the alternative policy could have been; but I think it is incorrect to believe that somehow we can negotiate these people into common sense.

I think you believe that too be because you acknowledged that:

"[S]ince Bush labeled those 3 as an "axis of evil," and then went on the warpath against Iraq, Iran and NK took all pretenses off of their nuclear ambitions.

Took off ALL PRETENSES. They stopped PRETENDING to go along with international inspectors and law and openly admitted what they were doing. So, you implicitly admit they were doing this all along; it's just that now that Bush has called them on it, they have to admit it.

(4) Look, I know that neither of us are nuclear experts; at least, I'm not. But how did these nations "speed up" their nuclear programs? What did they start doing after the SOTU that they weren't doing before?

See, I just think you have a misreading of the intent of these three nations. That somehow we can enact diplomatic maneuvers or demarches that magically and peacefully settles these issues. That the cowboy Bush's unilateral policies in Iraq and elsewhere have made it impossible now to come up with these initiatives.

No, my reading of history tells me a different story of how dictators and despots think and act. It's unfortunate but force is sometimes the only option. Because these dictators views negotiations as opportunities to take advantage of, opportunities to improve their position because they understand, if we do not, that the differences between our two nations cannot be bridged.

BTW, how were we going to get Saddam to let the inspectors in UNLESS we assembled the troops and arsenal to THREATEN him into acquiescing? We needed to put the 150,000 troops in the region and keep them there because Saddam was only going to agree to total disarmament and inspectors IF the alternative was force.

Time magazine had a big piece a month or so ago where they interviewed some of his former associates. They said that he NEVER believed we would invade, that we didn't have the guts to do it, that Europe would prevent it. This is another part of our problem with these regimes; they view negotiations and compromise as weakness. They do not believe that we will actually use the force - the hard power - that we threaten them with. And if they believe the threats are hollow, no diplomatic efforts will succeed.



Posted by: SteveMG at October 6, 2003 at 02:05 AM

Re your request about Rumsfeld saying that Iraq was an "immediate threat."

Here's the link:

It was his September 18 testimony before Congress. Twice he used the words "immediate threat" (not "imminent"). It appears that perhaps he was referring to "immediate threats to our people" with the "our people" wording referring to our military over there.

As I've said elsewhere, I supported the war. Hope that Bush wins re-election and think he's done a terrific job in this war.

Rumsfeld's above comments were exagerrations. It was wrong for him to characterize the danger that way.


Posted by: SteveMG at October 6, 2003 at 02:15 AM

As for your earlier comment, it was probably ignored because it didn't make sense

then i'll make it clear for the dumbasses.
- you quote bush as saying, essentially, "this was is a necessity, not a choice".
- you quote tim dunlop as saying, essentially, "this war was sold to us as a necessity, not a choice".
- whether a particular choice of action is necessary/optional is a different thing from whether said action needs to be undertaken at some point in the future, or post-haste.

also, i have now acquired every right to be a worthless pedant on account of you saying this:

You are easily confused. To say a threat is "more immediate" than others is not to say the threat is by itself immediate.

Posted by: adam at October 6, 2003 at 03:40 AM

Whether a particular choice of action is necessary/optional is a different thing from whether said action needs to be undertaken at some point in the future, or post-haste.

In order for me to eat properly, it is necessary that I have my teeth attended to by a dentist. I can go to the dentist now or later but if I want to be pain free I need to get the work done now.

In other words, are you nuts or what?

Posted by: ZsaZsa at October 6, 2003 at 04:11 AM

In order for me to eat properly, it is necessary that i obtain food. i can go shopping now, or maybe later.

in other words, are you being deliberately obtuse?

Posted by: adam at October 6, 2003 at 04:17 AM

Yes adam, I'm being obtuse on purpose just as you're being a worthless pedant on purpose. (You are doing it on purpose, aren't you.)

Please explain for this dumb-arse exactly what point you're trying to make.

Posted by: ZsaZsa at October 6, 2003 at 04:24 AM

i thought i pre-empted the worthless pedant jibe by owning up to it, but i guess not.

just so there's no confusion, in my example, i'm not actually hungry. the point being: even though it is necessary that i eat, it is not necessary that i eat immediately. thus, different things.

the comment above is clear enough in my opinion. but then, blair apparently thinks that rumsfeld, in saying that iraq is the greatest and most immediate threat to world peace, is actually saying that iraq is not, by itself, an immediate threat. an imaginative interpretation, shall we say.

also, my previous "dumbass" comment was tongue-in-cheek, and only made on account of blair's belief that you people are too stupid to understand my original comment. i don't actually hold that view. if you object to being thought of as stupid, your quarrel is with blair, not me.

Posted by: adam at October 6, 2003 at 04:37 AM

also, i'm going to sleep.

Posted by: adam at October 6, 2003 at 04:47 AM

adam, Tim commented that your post didn't make sense, not that we didn't understand it. You have now morphed that into Tim saying we are dumbasses. I can have nonsensical conversations with my wife any time I want without going online, so there's no point in continuing further.

I suggest you take your Chlorpromazine and have a nap.

Posted by: ZsaZsa at October 6, 2003 at 04:52 AM

adam, Tim commented that your post didn't make sense, not that we didn't understand it.

he said the reason no one responded to my original post was because it didn't make sense. since i think my original post was intelligible to anyone with a capacity for abstract thought, tim's comment is a representation as to your intelligence, and the intelligence of everyone else reading this. hence [with tongue-in-cheek], dumbasses.

Posted by: adam at October 6, 2003 at 04:38 PM