October 26, 2003

War and, Well, War

I'd like to note a couple of war-themed posts this evening. First, there's this post from Shark Blog that I found via Free Will. The author traces the words "imminent threat" through the media over time.

I link to Robert Prather a lot. There's a reason for this. He spends a lot of time putting together thought-provoking posts about economics and foreign policy. This particular post addresses thoughts and questions from a commentor from a previous post regarding Iraq, timing, justification, and the future.


Posted by hln at October 26, 2003 09:51 PM | War | TrackBack

WRT to "imminent threat," it cannot be disputed (although the rightwing is certainly trying) this appointed administration certainly attempted to portray Iraq's WMD threat as imminent. The rightwing's sole response is to claim Bush never used the words "imminent" and "threat" together.

Sharkansky's post is embarrassing in its sophistry; it pretends one cannot possibly convey a sense of imminent threat without using those words. So, when a Colin Powell tells the UN that we know--not suspect, not think, not guess--but know Saddam possesses "conservative estimates" of at least 500 tons of bioweapons--we ought not believe that's really an imminent threat. When Cheney and Rice talk about "mushroom clouds" over American cities, we couldn't possibly infer an imminent threat. When Bush tells us that Iraq is less than 6 months away from having a nuclear weapon--that's not an imminent threat? When he tells us Iraq has unmanned drones capable of hitting US targets--that's not an imminent threat?

Look, the fact is Bush lied as to why we needed to invade Iraq. It was not an error or an intelligence failure--it was a calculated lie.

The great shame is that we've squandered all of the gains we've made combatting terrorism.

As for Robert Prather; well, he's wrong on just about everything. Reading Prather is merely reading RNC blast faxes in a different format; everything he writes can distilled down to a single message: Bush is right and just in whatever he does or might do.

Posted by: JadeGold at October 27, 2003 09:39 AM

No strong opinions, there JG. Don't forget to breathe, now. Breathe. Relax. (Smile, I'm not trying to be snarky; I'm just amused).

While what you say is written well, most of my readership and I likely don't particularly agree. Beauty of this country. We don't have to - no harm done.


Posted by: hln at October 27, 2003 02:36 PM

Diversity of opinion is a beautiful thing, Heather. And, no, you don't have to agree.

But many of your 'readership,' will never have to fight in a war. And they'll likely die surrounded by loved ones after living a full and rewarding life. They won't be asked to place their lives or limbs on the line. They won't have to bury a son or a daughter struck down in what should be the prime of their life.

See where this is going, H?

It's not a game or a debate about whether Pedro Martinez is a better pitcher than Mike Mussina; it's something that shouldn't be debatable or subject to question.

It's not a game of parsing for political points.

Posted by: JadeGold at October 27, 2003 02:59 PM

It's fair to make these assertions, but who's to know what would truly justify a war? The killing of the Archduke Ferdinand? Re-enactment of the bombing of Pearl Harbor?

Most of the military members and veterans whom I know support the war. That helps. I have no firsthand experience.

How many American bodies? Would it take destruction of an American city? Occupation of part of the country? I covered my thoughts on it earlier - you can take a look at the War category to see where I'm coming from. What would be justification for use of military force? Were Clinton's bombings of Iraq justified? If so, why? If not, on what grounds?


Posted by: hln at October 27, 2003 03:09 PM

Being a vet, having graduated from a Federal military academy, and coming from a family with many vets and active duty servicemen--I could hardly be characterized as a 'dove.' Yes, I believe there are justifications for war. But the commitment of troops into harm's way must only be undertaken for reasons that are, above all, based on truth. We owe those risking their lives nothing less.

Generally speaking, war is undertaken only as a last resort--when all other avenues have been exhausted. Prosecution of war should only occur in one, or more, of three scenarios: 1) in response to an attack upon US civilian or military targets, 2) to preempt an immediate or imminent threat to US national security, and 3)to prevent or mitigate an ongoing genocide.

There's also a political component to war, but this is a secondary factor (or should be) in the decision to go to war.

In the case of the invasion of Iraq, the decision to go to war was made solely as a political decision with an attempt (read: dishonest) to justify the war on the basis of an imminent threat.

But let's look at the facts. After 1991, the Iraqi military had been decimated--its conventional force levels were about 20-25% of what they had been when they invaded Kuwait. Further, Saddam didn't control 2/3 of his own country. Thus, Saaddam's Iraq didn't pose much of a threat to exert force in the region let alone against the US.

WRT WMD, the record is pretty clear. We know this administration was willing to believe and hype information our own intelligence agencies knew was either false or highly suspect. This administration also was willing to believe stories from defectors our own State Dept. and intelligence agencies deemed to be con men and "pathological liars."

We also knew this administration undertook a concerted effort to tie Saddam to al Qaeda despite the fact our own intelligence agencies couldn't find a scintilla of evidence to support such a connection.

Yes, intelligence is more of an art than a science. And intelligence in the real world differs from the movies and TV in that it is rarely precise and accurate. In the real world, intelligence, at best, presents a picture of capabilities upon which some informed analysis might be made as to intentions.

In every case, this administration based its policy upon the least plausible intelligence. In a number of cases, it based decisions on information it knew was false.

As for military members supporting the war, it's a bit more complicated. As a member of the military, you are an instrument of the administration's policy--be it right, wrong, or unclear. Do I know people in or retired from the military who believe invading Iraq was a good idea? Sure. I also know some who think attacking France would be a swell idea. I know an O-6 who thinks we could send a couple RECON grunts into North Korea and create a Chernobyl. But I know far more, in and out of the service, who really question why we did it. That includes my cousin who just earned a bronze star in Afghanistan.

Were Clinton's bombings of Iraq justified? If so, why? If not, on what grounds?

Our last democratically-elected President bombed Iraq in response to Saddam's refusal to allow UN inspectors to inspect suspected sites. Clinton also was able to get unanimous security council support for his actions.

Posted by: JadeGold at October 28, 2003 08:53 AM