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April 27, 2005

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» MSM Bias, Exhibit F: Fiction Is Stranger Than Truth from Joust The Facts
Hat tip: Professor Reynolds. I realize others have done the heavy lifting here, but I've been occupied today with the first birthday of my youngest. [Read More]

» Good News From Iraq Follow-up from Random Birkel
In response to comments made in the initial "Good News From Iraq" post some commenters continued to submit Democratic talking points about our reasons for going to was with Iraq. There is quite a bit of selection bias (cognitive dissonance if I was in ... [Read More]

» How Soon They Forget from News from Around the World
More info is a click away:... [Read More]

Comments

creepy dude

Unfortunately, it's too soon to conclude the democratic transformation isn't equally fictitious though.

The 275 member parliament is now at 274 since a female member was murdered in her home last night.

Brad R.

OK, I'll admit that WMDs weren't the *only* reason Bush offered for war with Iraq, but they were really the lynchpin of his rationale for taking out Saddam. If you had said to the average American, "We're going to invade Iraq in order to bring democracy to the Arab world," the average American would have stepped back and said "Whoooooa there, tiger! Not so fast! That sounds awfully risky!" And of course, they'd be 100% correct.

Now, this is not to say that promoting democracy in the Arab world is a bad thing- quite the opposite. But in order to sell the war to the American people, Bush needed to emphasize the more imminent threat, which turned out to be an illusion. So I can see why THE TIMES would make such an argument, but yeah, they should probably know better.

Thom

Brad-

You raise the imminent threat canard. Once again, however, Democrats at the time publicly criticized the President for wanting to move against Iraq when there was no imminent threat, and the President responded that it would be malfeasance to wait until the threat was imminent.

Cecil Turner

"But in order to sell the war to the American people, Bush needed to emphasize the more imminent threat, which turned out to be an illusion."

I'm sure that illusion is what prompted David Kay to remark: "I actually think this may be one of those cases where it was even more dangerous than we thought." And Duelfer's report of secret labs (With human guinea pigs even), various unreported programs, and clear intent to restart production when sanctions were lifted doesn't qualify as a threat either.

Speaking of Duelfer, I notice the Prof linked to this Captain's Quarters post disputing MSM dismissal of the Syrian connection. In any event, I find the received wisdom of no threat in Iraq a bit rich, especially considering we still don't know who provided the anthrax for the post-9/11 attacks.

John Thacker

Very odd that when President Bush specifically disclaimed the idea of waiting until there was an imminent threat, ("Some have said we should wait until the threat is imminent. But...") people still seem to get it backwards.

creepy dude

Watch it CT-the party line is that we haven't been attacked since 9/11.

The thing with the WMD is that it's the only rationale that gave a hint of legality to attacking a sovereign state. As the Polish President Kwasniewski stated without diplomatic nicety: (translated)"They deceived us about the weapons of mass destruction, that's true. We were taken for a ride."

Saddam was a murderous tyrant, true, but we knew that in 1991. And if freeing people from murderous tyrants is by itself sufficient justification for war, man, we got some heavy lifting to do. Why, e.g., is Castro still in business?

Joe Mealyus


cd: "The thing with the WMD is that it's the only rationale that gave a hint of legality to attacking a sovereign state."

It seems somewhat pointless to write this without telling us whether you believe A) Saddam violated no UN resolutions; or B) the violation of those UN resolutions provide no "hint" of legality for a subsequent invasion.

sammler

Mr. Maguire:

Thank you for bringing Mr. Kerry's speech into this discussion. I agree that Mr. Kerry wanted it to be all about WMD, and that his speech saying so was a large part of the formation of the Times's, erm, selectivity. Details here.

Cecil Turner

"The thing with the WMD is that it's the only rationale that gave a hint of legality to attacking a sovereign state."

As opposed to cease-fire violations, not complying with 17 outstanding chapter VII UNSC resolutions, and various genocidal campaigns? (Hint: there's all the legality you need in whichever you prefer.) And as far as heavy lifting goes, if WMD by itself was a casus belli we'd have the DPRK, Pakistan and India in the queue.

GT

Brad is right. Bush gave a lot of reasons for the war but the overriding one was always WMDs. Without WMDs there would have been no support for it.

And that's why half of Americans now think the war was the wrong decision and that Bush lied about it.

John

"The thing with the WMD is that it's the only rationale that gave a hint of legality to attacking a sovereign state."

Actually, congressional approval is the only thing that gave a hint of legality to attacking a sovereign state.

John

Cecil Turner

"And that's why half of Americans now think the war was the wrong decision and that Bush lied about it."

And I suppose it has nothing to do with the blatant bias, selective reporting, and outright fabrications that pass for news coverage on the subject . . . or could it?

Oh, and don't forget "cluelessness." As a topical example, is "protect[ing] the democratic transformation" really "[t]he only plausible reason for keeping American troops in Iraq"? Or might a credible military presence possibly have some salutary effect on Iran and Syria (and their willingness to support various terror groups openly)?

GT

No Cecil. It has to do with people reading the newspapers. Luckily all Americans can't be fooled ALL the time.

creepy dude

Actually I respect CT and all the others who won't let the idea of WMDs drop. At least they strive to maintain American honor.

In stark contrast is George Bush. When is the last time he mentioned WMDs? Why doesn't he make the point that the ISG didn't rule out a Syrian transfer? Draw your own conclusions.

The Iraq invasion was just a routine "cops lying to get a search warrant", but on a much larger scale.

Jor

TM -- you are going down the "weapons are in syria" line of reasoning here. Seriously. Sure multiple reasons were offered, but there was one main reason used to sell the war. One main reason why Iraq is different than the other genocidal regimes in power. Many other main characters acknowledge this -- Tony Blair and Paul Bremer, being the first two that come to mind. I saw Bremer speak the other day, and although most of his talk was rah-rah-rah-pro-democracy Iraq, even he acknowledged that the switching rationales for the war (using an analogy with our Civil War -- even though I'm sure we could twist the meaning of that around too).


This is so done with, and insignificant politically now, I don't know why people even pretend to try and rationalize it away.

Jor

Cecil, instead of trying to legalistically rationalize away the war -- why don't you try using plain old common sense. Just for a moment. It doesn't really matter any more anyway, what's done is done. There is no point in living in denial.

Cecil Turner

"No Cecil. It has to do with people reading the newspapers."

My point exactly. Perhaps if they read the actual reports (e.g., Duelfer's), instead of what the Times said the reports said, they'd be less confused.

"Why doesn't he make the point that the ISG didn't rule out a Syrian transfer?"

Because it's unimportant. The important point (buried in silly disputes over nonsense like aluminum tubes) is that Saddam's intelligence service maintained and hid a biological warfare program, continued it in direct violation of UNSC 1441, and there was nothing stopping him from sharing that expertise and those substances with terrorists.

It was exactly this threat the President referred to when he said: "Imagine those 19 hijackers with other weapons and other plans -- this time armed by Saddam Hussein. It would take one vial, one canister, one crate . . ." Notice, we're not talking about some shiny conical device with sharp fins and "WMD" printed on the side. And whether some of those were shipped to Syria or not has little or no effect on the national security of the US.

Crank

Amazing how many times war opponents can ignore the same things. Just a few quick non-exclusive thoughts:

1. There were several reasons for war. It is possible to justify war on the basis of multiple facts even where those individual facts might not, standing alone.

2. Speaking of Saddam's Iraq as just another "sovereign state" ignores the fact that he was, in effect, on probation. We would have been amply justified - not only in 2003 but years earlier - under any sane construction of international law in resuming hostilities based on his violation of terms of the cease fire. War opponents almost invariably ignore the cease fire issue. What exactly is the source of "law" you speak of if it doesn't include the ability to enforce the terms of a cease fire?

3. Saddam openly celebrated the 9/11 attacks in his state-run media. Again, a fact war opponents almost invariably duck. That crossed a line you really don't want to cross.

TM

Sure multiple reasons were offered, but there was one main reason used to sell the war. One main reason why Iraq is different than the other genocidal regimes in power. [which was WMDs]

Uh, huh. Let's see - wacko dictator intent on acquiring WMDs and in violation of UN resolutions, for whom a military option seemed plausible.

Does that describe Iran? Not exactly. North Korea? No way.

Iraq was a trifecta. *MAYBE* Libya would have qualified, but diplomacy did seem to be effective, for example in getting the Lockerbie bombers.

And even though EJ Dionne and Creepy mentioned it ( "if freeing people from murderous tyrants is by itself sufficient justification for war, man, we got some heavy lifting to do."), the notion that we can't overthrow one evil tyrant unless we intend to overthrow them all has always struck me as an absurd attempt at scoring a debating point, rather than a serious argument. (That said, if someone out there actually takes it seriously, I would love to hear why).

Look, "all or none" may make sense if you are thinking about painting your house a new color. But should we abandon all AIDS research because people still die of malaria and cholera? Stop providing school lunches in the US because kids are starving in Africa?

Isn't doing a little bit of good a good thing, even if we don't solve every problem in the world? (And wasn't there a potential bonus in the case of Iraq, that other evil dictators might take inspiration from his fate - see Libya and Syria).

martin

TM-hypothetically I agree with you-of course the fact that we can't overthrow every evil tyrant is no reason not to overthrow a certain one.

Fine. Now back to the real world. Your phrase "overthrow the evil tyrant" makes it sound so simple, really what creepy dude could oppose it?

Yep. 1. Overthrow the evil tyrant 2. Have Parade 3. Come home. I agree that's a good summary of Wolfowitz's pre-invasion Congressional testimony, but actual events have turned out somewhat differently.

That's why we need to establish that if some future President comes and says we need to invade and liberate country X just because it's run by an evil tyrant-and that's all the reason we need, Congress might, just conceivably, you know, vote NO.

TexasToast

It is amazing and amusing to see the contortions advocates of this war must go through to justify it – even at this late date. Whether or not “democratization” or “ridding the world of an evil dictator” were mentioned before the war as reasons for going to war, I think it twists the truth beyond all recognition to state or even imply that those reasons were given any emphasis in the run up to the war. Powell’s speech to the UN is a case in point. Cheney’s deception on Meet the Press and in other venues are another. We went to war because of a perceived threat to this country – and that is what the NYT is saying in that story. Events have shown that that reason, as a reason why we could not wait to act, was false.

To pretend that we went to war to “make the world a better place” is the “revisionism” here.

Cecil Turner

"It is amazing and amusing to see the contortions advocates of this war must go through to justify it . . ."

It's even more amusing to see the anti-war crowd lose the vote in congress, watch their preferred side lose the war, lose the subsequent election due to the public's lack of confidence on national security, and still think they have a winning issue.

"We went to war because of a perceived threat to this country . . ."

Yep. And we wuz right.

Sweetie

I wonder how the Dems would have done in November if their position had been that 'Bush's war', however well intended, simply didn't provide enough return for our treasure and the lives of our citizens? Bush didn't lie, Bush didn't bungle it, however his judgement was simply wrong and when the biggest decision during your entire first term is wrong you simply shouldn't be given a 2nd chance.

For me that's impossible to dismiss, though it can be challenged of course. Instead the Dems split into two camps, the war is wrong and the war was right but bungled camps, both of which were based more on 'a gut feeling' than a careful reading of the facts (and for the latter I'm being kind as I think CYA was a more likely driver). But the judgement case, a case that was only made on the margins by the Dems, was the one that had me on the fence into October.

TexasToast

Actually CT, opposing the war does not mean that my "preferred" side lost the war. Once we were in, of course I wanted ust to "win." That does not mean that going in wasn't a mistake.

I had had more respect for you than that. Ah well.

Cecil Turner

"Actually CT, opposing the war does not mean that my "preferred" side lost the war. Once we were in, of course I wanted ust to "win." "

Oh, sorry, must have overgeneralized from all the responsible dissent from the anti-war crowd.

TM

Yep. 1. Overthrow the evil tyrant 2. Have Parade 3. Come home.

I think it is fair to say that, although on occasion Bush mentioned the possibility of a long war, most folks seem to be surprised by how difficult this has been.

Now, maybe they (we?) should not have been surprised, and maybe, in the fullness of time, we will look back and say, well, that was not so bad. But, based just on things like poll support, Bush has done a poor job of maintaining public support for this venture.

That said, Bush *did* win the election, so it is not as if the other side (or whatever side Kerry was on) has made a compelling case, either.

And on the possibility of Congress approving another war like this any time soon - relax.

Jor

the notion that we can't overthrow one evil tyrant unless we intend to overthrow them all has always struck me as an absurd attempt at scoring a debating point, rather than a serious argument. (That said, if someone out there actually takes it seriously, I would love to hear why).

TM, Bremer was asked this exact question. His response was "well, if it were up to me, I'd do something about those other situations". Its rather arbitrary if you just take care of one and not others. Arbitrariness is against almost everyones moral judgement (its the oppositte of fairness). And the point was, this wasn't suppose to be arbitrary, because of the security threat.

The justification for the war was incorrect, it wasn't cost effective, the rebuilding was run atrociously, and 100,000 iraqi's have died as a consequence. That said, the over-all outcome, still might be positive. Obviously the Iraqi people still have a lot of optimism about their future if not any for their occupiers/liberators. So, I agree that although the overall moral outcome of the war might be positive (yet to be determined), this was still the wrong far to fight, at the wrong time, run by the wrong people.

martin

CT-if you just want to mock and laugh at people's idiocy, become a Democrat, since the Republicans offer a much more target rich environment.

creepy dude

"And on the possibility of Congress approving another war like this any time soon - relax."

You're so right, TM. Bush is just so God-awful that most people have lost their stomach for even defending the country. Sad.

And now tonight he's coming on to talk about...Social Security! It's like watching the Gong Show, except for the tragic consequences.

Cecil Turner

"But, based just on things like poll support, Bush has done a poor job of maintaining public support for this venture."

Oh, we're losing the propaganda war, of that there's little doubt. Some might suggest it's because all their media and the bulk of ours are both on the same side . . . and it's not our side.

"You're so right, TM. Bush is just so God-awful that most people have lost their stomach for even defending the country. Sad."

Sounds like a hawk-chicken argument. And most of those guys never had any stomach for defending the country. Among those who do, Bush consistently polls fairly well.

"Republicans offer a much more target rich environment."

Lack of time seems to be the major constraint. A shortage of targets doesn't appear to be much of a problem.

Bostonian

Cecil, some people will simply never ever ever get it. I gave up with them last year.

Tim

At what point do these reports become libel?

This is a point that has been discussed for many months. The NYT should know better. The reporter should know better.

We can do all the cost/benefit analysis all we want after the fact, but it does not change the history, only the reporting of it.

Is NYT changing the report of history willfully to fit its (or its reporters and editors) view of the cost/benefit analysis of the Iraqi conflict?

TM

Arbitrariness is against almost everyones moral judgement (its the oppositte of fairness)

Hmm, "Unfair to Saddam" may not catch fire as a talking point. By my (unfair) moral calculus, toppling one evil dictator is better than toppling none.

We aren't talking about distributing ice cream cones amongst six year olds, here.

Oh, for an alternative sense of the merits of "arbitrariness", check the original (Roman) definition of "decimate".

Bob

OK, now that WMD has been discussed a few times, let's go for a litte boost in the memory. I'm sure that the question of WMD's was used to get and keep support but this is not the real reason for our focusing on Iraq.

Does anyone remember President Bush's post-9/11 speech? Did he say anything about WMD's at that time? I don't remember that he did. However, long before the applause set in, he did say, paraphrasing as best as memory serves me, "We will go after the people who did this and those who supported them."

I also remember something about the Saudis and Saddam rewarding suicide bombers' families. Suddenly Saudi Arabia stopped it but not Saddam Hussein. I wonder if a couple of messages were sent to those two places saying, in effect, "You better stop that nonsense, it's supporting terrorism." I can also imagine the Saudis thinking to themselves, "Maybe we'd better quit this or all that oil will back up on us." And, about the same time, Saddam looks to the west and says with an upraised finger, "And the horse you rode in on..." Now, sure! It's pure imagination but it works for me.

Im my mind, the president needed support for going after Saddam Hussein and the question of WMD's did it for him. He ddn't need to remind people about the UN inspectors finding big cannon parts from Germany lying in storage or remind people of the German and French engineers and technicians working there. All he had to say was "WMD, WMD, WMD" and the media flocked to relay the cry. However, remembering the president's speech about going after those who support terrorists, and Saddam Hussein did encourage terrorism, this is enough for me. The job was done and done very well, thank you! and I think we are silly to flog the idea of nonexistent WMD's when it now proves to have been hardly more than a rallying call. And it worked!

Forbes

CT: I'm with Bostonian on this topic. Lots of people on the wrong side of history still arguing their own revised version. River in Egypt, and all that.
Cheers.

Jor

Yes, I obviously feel sorry for Saddam, and its unfortunate we were unfair to him. I'm sure you know I mean fairness to other people under the rule of fascist dicators, facing genocide, living on less than a $1 a day, or however many American ares going bankrupt because of medical expenses. Sure they aren't as cute as six year olds, and $200 billion dollars isn't exactly a scoop of ice cream -- but fair is fair. I would have thought with that long string of economic posts on social security -- you would certainly realize that this type of moral calculus includes the oppurtunity cost of expending $200+ billion dollars on this war. And with that considered, this was not cost-effective -- and given world opinion at the momment (or even the opinion of just the people we free'd) -- not morally or politically effective expenditure either. I have yet to see a conservative commentary that even remotely deal with that fact -- so if you got a link, I'm more than happy to read it.

Of course toppling one dictator is better than topling zero dictators. And still a moral positive, but that doesn't mean that it was a wise decision (at least in hindsight with the WMD fiasco we all now know for certain).

Cecil Turner

The Times chimes in again on the possibility of weapons transfers to Syria this morning; and, typically, gets it wrong:

The team deemed it "unlikely" that any official transfer of W.M.D. to Syria had taken place but could not rule out the possibility that limited amounts of material had been transferred unofficially. That's too slim a reed to save the die-hards.
Contrast that with actual quotes from Duelfer (courtesy of the same Captan's Quarters link discussed earlier):
"ISG was unable to complete its investigation and is unable to rule out the possibility that WMD was evacuated to Syria before the war . . ."
"There was evidence of a discussion of possible WMD collaboration initiated by a Syrian security officer, and ISG received information about movement of material out of Iraq, including the possibility that WMD was involved. In the judgment of the working group, these reports were sufficiently credible to merit further investigation."
Rather a different complexion, eh? The Captain's post also covers the issue in considerably more depth (three days earlier--advantage: Captain's Quarters.)

There was also a good bit with Paul Wolfowitz on Fox yesterday, where he makes precisely the case about media coverage, and emphasizes the Iraqi Intelligence Service's BW program:

In spite of the summary sentences that come out about the Duelfer report, nobody mentions in there that in the Duelfer report it says apparently we know that his intelligence service, which is the people who were the core of this gang that ran the country for so long, and I think still runs a large part of the so-called insurgency, these people were experimenting with the use of chemical and biological agents on live human beings.
He goes on to make the rather obvious point most of those asking "gotcha" leading questions ought to ponder:
I mean, it is the case that there was a systematic destruction effort that went on as Baghdad was falling. No one's explained why apparently hundreds of people in an organized way were destroying the evidence. Evidence of what? If there was nothing there, what were they destroying?
Of course, unlike the Times (and others who think they know "for certain" what an enemy intelligence service is trying to hide), Wolfowitz actually has a clue on the subject.

Jor

BTW, Via Drum, Julian Sanchez, somes it up pretty well

Steven J.

“But make no mistake – as I said earlier – we have high confidence that they have weapons of mass destruction. That is what this war was about and it is about.” -Ari Fleischer Press Briefing 4/10/03

Jor

More about how this war was all about democracy at Drum.

Jor


"There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action,"

The British Hate America.

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