President Bush, Radical
This sentence, spoken last week by George W. Bush, is about the most jaw-dropping repudiation of an established bipartisan policy ever made by a US president.
Not only does it break with a policy the US government has pursued since first becoming a major player in the Middle East, but the speech is audacious in ambition, grounded in history, and programmatically specific. It's the sort of challenge to existing ways one expects to hear from a columnist, essayist, or scholar not from the leader of a great power.
Bush spoke in a candid manner, as heads of state almost never do: "In many Middle Eastern countries, poverty is deep and it is spreading, women lack rights and are denied schooling. Whole societies remain stagnant while the world moves ahead. As long as the Middle East remains a place where freedom does not flourish, it will remain a place of stagnation, resentment, and violence ready for export."
This is not the first time Bush has dispatched decades' worth of policy toward a Middle East problem and declared a radically new approach.
He also did so concerning Iraq and the Arab-Israeli conflict:
- Iraq: He brushed aside the long-standing policy of deterrence, replacing
it in June 2002 with an approach of hitting before getting hit. US security,
he said, "will require all Americans to be forward-looking and resolute,
to be ready for preemptive action when necessary to defend our liberty and
to defend our lives." This new approach provided justification for the
war against Saddam Hussein, removing the Iraqi dictator from power before
he could attack.
- Arab-Israeli conflict: I called Bush's overhaul of the US approach to the Arab-Israeli conflict in June 2003 perhaps "the most surprising and daring step of his presidency." He changed presumptions by presenting a Palestinian state as the solution, imposing this vision on the parties, tying results to a specific timetable, and replacing leaders of whom he disapproved.
And this time:
- Democracy: The president renounced a long-accepted policy of "Middle East exceptionalism" getting along with dictators and stated US policy would henceforth fit with its global emphasis of making democracy the goal.
He brought this issue home by tying it to American security: "With the spread of weapons that can bring catastrophic harm to our country and to our friends, it would be reckless to accept the status quo." Then, on the premise that "the advance of freedom leads to peace," Bush announced "a forward strategy of freedom in the Middle East."
Drawing explicit comparisons with the US success in sponsoring democracy in Europe and Asia, he called on Americans once again for "persistence and energy and idealism" to do the same in the Middle East.
Understanding the rationale behind the old dictator-coddling policy makes clear the radicalism of this new approach. The old way noticed that the populations are usually more anti-American than are the emirs, kings, and presidents. Washington was rightly apprehensive that democracy would bring in more radicalized governments; this is what did happen in Iran in 1979 and nearly happened in Algeria in 1992. It also worried that once the radicals reached power, they would close down the democratic process (what was dubbed "one man, one vote, one time").
Bush's confidence in democracy that despite the street's history of extremism and conspiracy-mindedness, it can mature and become a force of moderation and stability is about to be tested. This process did in fact occur in Iran; will it recur elsewhere? The answer will take decades to find out.
However matters develop, this gamble is typical of a president exceptionally willing to take risks to shake up the status quo. And while one speech does not constitute a new foreign policy which will require programmatic details, financial support, and consistent execution the shift has to start somewhere. Presidential oratory is the appropriate place to start.
And if the past record of this president in the Middle East is anything by
which to judge toppling regimes in Afghanistan and Iraq, promoting a
new solution to Arab-Israeli conflict he will be true to his word here
too. Get ready for an interesting ride.
This article is reprinted with permission by Daniel Pipes. This article first appeared in the Jerusalem Post.
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Cram - 11/24/2003
I thought your response to my post was thoughtful and intelligent.
You say that "Someone trying to "remind us all of the complexity of history" would find a place somewhere in 40 articles about Islam, the Mideast, and U.S. policies towards them, to mention some slight flaw in the policies of Ariel Sharon."
I cannot disagree and look forward to debating you further as articles on the subject continue to arise.
Kurdlion - 11/24/2003
Thanks for using your cranium (and doing a bit of homework too). It helps rescue discussions at HNN from the "high school debate" depths to which they are readily prone.
Of course it is HNN's "decision" to run Pipes forty times and Ashwari, Mitzna and Rabin zero times. The question is why ? I remain unconvinced that the main reason is
"to expose politicians who misrepresent history. To point out bogus analogies. To deflate beguiling myths. To remind Americans of the irony of history. To put events in context. To remind us all of the complexity of history."
Your quote by Pipes (which being not properly cited, is unverifiable, but I do remember reading something like it so I do not doubt its accuracy, unlike the many dubious uncited assertions by some others here) does NOT contradict my point about him laying 100% of the blame for Mideast problems on some variant of Islam, its followers, sympathizers, or supposedly unwitting supporters. Someone trying to "remind us all of the complexity of history" would find a place somewhere in 40 articles about Islam, the Mideast, and U.S. policies towards them, to mention some slight flaw in the policies of Ariel Sharon. A website truly devoted to reminding us "all of the complexity of history" would not fail to notice the non-mention of one key aspect of recent Mideast history in 40 articles it presented (by one author) related to that subject.
Cram - 11/24/2003
Interestingly, I am no fan of everything Pipes says even though the following is going to make me sound like an apologist for the man, which is fine by me. My concern here is that he is being attacked because you (and many others) disagree with him ideologically. However, I am sure you simply don’t think I am "using my brain."
1) "I don't see, however, why we have to hear from him 40 times, when his message of "Fear Islam" is so repetitious and tedious."
I agree, I don’t know why we have to hear from him of anyone else for that matter. However, the HNN has chosen to accept his articles and that is their decision.
For myself, I have gone through and looked at Mr. Pipes articles and I do not find them "repetitious and tedious" at all. Each one deals with a different aspect of the same general theme. Since 9/11, the Middle East has been a hot topic for many people. As such, although I would love to see more diversity in viewpoints other than Mr. Pipes, I find his topics are far from tedious.
2) "I don't care what Pipes "credentials" are, it is a ridiculous insult of any intelligent being's mind, to imply, as Pipes seems addicted to doing, that all the problems of the Mideast are attributable to Islam, its followers and apologists, and that Israeli extremists bear zero responsibility. Again, find me the statements by Pipes that contradict this, and I will gladly issue retractions."
I will not ask for any such retraction, but I must say that the following directly contradicts your statement: It comes from Mr. Pipes own words about himself based on his article on this site:
"I strenuously draw a distinction between the religion of Islam and the ideology of militant Islam; "militant Islam is the problem. moderate Islam is the solution" has virtually become my mantra. But these are novel and complex ideas. As a result, my enmity toward militant Islam sometimes gets misunderstood as hostility toward Islam itself."
This, sir is a direct contradiction of your above statement.
3) "I cannot recall a single significant instance of deviation from the Likud Party line"
I submit to you possibility that, rather then being some kind of admiring follower of a foreign government, he actually follows the Conservative Republican line. After all, that would be entirely consistent with who he is rather then paint him with some kind of duel loyalty.
Cram - 11/24/2003
Although your challenge was issued to Mr. Kurdlion, I thought I would respond, since Mr. Kurdlion was probably referring to our correspondence when he made that comment (which, by the way, was meant as an insult to me by accusing me of using your tactics even though the insult itself was pretty much an exact replica of your own past posts).
You asked him to name one "misattribution and distortion." Here is a list of instances in which you "misattribute" an argument to me OR simply "distort" my own argument into something else.
(I know you only asked for one but I had some time on my hands)
· When the evidence doesn't support your thesis you cannot simply pass it off as flawed through bad motives.
· You're quoting people with nothing but an agenda.
· Dislike of President Bush has apparently colored your powers of reasoning. No matter the issue, source or action you assume the worst for, or from, the United States.
· Your sources evidently can't be bothered to use exact quotes when quoting the President they dislike.
· Well, Mr. Cram, your sources have evidently forgotten the testimony of the Vice Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, The last President and the last two CIA Directors (referring to Iraq being an imminent threat, even though none of those people called Iraq an imminent threat before President Bush did)
· Specious reasoning, careless incomplete reporting and misquotes
· If you can't get the quote right, Mr. Cram, how do you expect me to respect your position (referring to a comment I made in which I assigned no specific quote to anyone)
· As to your quotes from Blix and Kay, there are others from both men that imply there are WMD in Iraq that haven't been found yet. (referring to the fact that the quotes attributed to those men say no WMD but somewhere out there are quotes that "imply" there are WMD)
· Find some real positions, exact quotes, and better sources. (I actually have all of those things)
· Your problem throughout HNN is you lack a grasp of reality.
· You constantly make statements and use quotes that are false.
· you minced lots of words and never admitted your colossal error. Bush-bashing becomes more art than science when you ignore history on a history site.
· you misquote President Bush's September speech
· Merely disliking President Bush doesn't excuse misquotes,
· Leftist who hates my President out of stubborn ignorance.
· Claiming President Bush caused problems in N. Korea makes you look uninformed; defending the nonsense makes you look ignorant.
Note that almost all of these have absolutely nothing to do with any issues, articles, or concerns, simply mindless attacks with no real substance. They could have just as easily been drawn from a high school debate club.
Richard Kurdlion - 11/23/2003
I never said Pipes was "unqualified to write" on this site, or should be "forbidden" from writing here. I don't see, however, why we have to hear from him 40 times, when his message of “Fear Islam” is so repetitious and tedious. I have criticized his arguments, as you suggest, for the umpteenth time here, and the effect has always been that he keeps reappearing with the same dumb Islamic bogeyman crap, in different guises, over and over and over. At some point this silly game has to stop.
The threat of Islamic radicalism and Mideast dictatorships is very grave indeed, as I have said many times on HNN, and that is why I am sick of Pipes wasting everybody's time with his cries of wolf, or in this particular case, his pitiful worship of the most U.S. incompetent president since Warren G Harding because of that president's bogus claims to be promoting democracy (now that the WMD BS has been exposed as a fake pretext for the Iraq war). I don't care what Pipes "credentials" are, it is a ridiculous insult of any intelligent being's mind, to imply, as Pipes seems addicted to doing, that all the problems of the Mideast are attributable to Islam, its followers and apologists, and that Israeli extremists bear zero responsibility. Again, find me the statements by Pipes that contradict this, and I will gladly issue retractions. Having read most of those 40 diatribes, I cannot recall a single significant instance of deviation from the Likud Party line.
As for Heuisler, examples of his distortion are all over HNN. On this very page, he accuses you of being Bush-hater (see http://hnn.us/comments/23842.html ). A typical
Heuislerian knee-jerk ad hominem irrelevancy, if true, but as usual, he just made it up.
Cram, I would love to have a real history site, with real historians, talking intelligently about the past and the present. This place is not it, not by a longshot. There is a lot of superficially interesting commentary, but the core purpose of running a extremist like Pipes with the same mantra, in slight variations, 40 times, cannot possibly have anything to to with helping people understand the present implications of the past, indeed, it seems much more likely to be designed to do just the opposite.
Bill Heuisler - 11/23/2003
Since you made statements about me, I would appreciate examples.
You wrote, "...Bill Heuisler's penchant for misattribution and distortion...". Name one instead of hiding in generalities.
If examples escape your memory, don't apologize, just make a good act of contrition in the privacy of your classroom.
Cram - 11/23/2003
You know what? Based on the quote above, you are absolutely right! I think there was a misunderstanding that I should have clarified in my statament.
I had always assumed that we were talking about the development of WMD after the 1994 agreement, since the entire situation would make no sense in the absence of the agreement. Had there been no agreement, N. Korea would have had nuclear weopons well before Bush came into office.
Before you start jumping for joy however, it was in May, 1992 that the IAEA inspections to verify North Korea's inventory of nuclear materials found plutonium production discrepencies. Guess who was President at the time? President Bush!
Clinton had been President a mere 10 months when the Congressmen Gilman made that statement.
Allow me to clarify for the future:
After the 1994 agreement, N. Korea did not begin seriously developing nuclear weapons until Bush threatened them with war. N. Korea then asked for a non-aggression pact in exchange for giving up its nuclear ambitions. That sounds like a good deal to me.
Cram - 11/23/2003
Whew, I seem to get it from all sides on this site.
1) "By the logic of your last post, we should be grateful if HNN were to have 40 articles by Lewis Farakhan and Saddam Hussein, so we could debate the "merits" of their views."
So long as the article was not a rant against either "the man," or "the West," but an actual argument with evidence that attempts to do these things the HNN sets out to do, then yes, I would not endorse any kind of censorship based simply on the author.
2) "Whatever you do, aping Bill Heuisler's penchant for misattribution and distortion is not a wise move."
Of course, here is comes, I am so used to it by Bill, I should not be surprised when other also accuse me of distortion, the exact same criticisms Bill throws my way. Kindly sir, point out something that I said which was distorted. Was the HNN quote not accurate?
3) "You… apparently cannot be bothered to spend fifteen minutes doing your homework on Daniel Pipes, a successful propagandist. In case you would like to take two minutes reading someone who has done his homework, go here."
Doing his homework? This person simply pasted a post from the ADC and copied it on here. Well here is an endorsement of Pipes by the ADL, so there, one interest group to another:
If you had bothered to do your homework sir, you would have discovered that Mr. Pipes claims that his career "has been exactly devoted to "bridging differences and bringing peace."" Those are his own words.
He has spent two-thirds of his life "studying the Middle East, learned the Arabic language, traveled the Muslim world, lived three years in Cairo, taught courses on the region at Harvard and specialized on it at the State and Defense departments." (see "I was Borked" on this site)
And you believe he is not qualified to write on this site? I am 100% against the Vietnam war, does that mean Mr. Kissenger should not forbidden to write for this site also, if he chose.
The next time you read an article by Mr. Pipes, I would suggest you do what I do: Criticize his conclusions, his evidence, in short his argument, as I have done with this article, but please do not pretend that a man with his credentials simply should not be writing on this website. Thank you.
Kurdlion - 11/23/2003
By the logic of your last post, we should be grateful if HNN were to have 40 articles by Lewis Farakhan and Saddam Hussein, so we could debate the "merits" of their views. Of course, I never said I disagreed with EVERY word Pipes EVER wrote. Whatever you do, aping Bill Heuisler's penchant for misattribution and distortion is not a wise move.
You waste hours on Heuisler, the impenetrable and failed propagandist, here, but apparently cannot be bothered to spend fifteen minutes doing your homework on Daniel Pipes, a successful propagandist. In case you would like to take two minutes reading someone who has done his homework, go here:
Bill Heuisler - 11/23/2003
One last time,
You wrote on November 17th at 10:58,
"N. Korea and Iran did not begin seriously developing nuclear weapons until Bush threatened them with war. N. Korea then asked for a non-aggression pact in exchange for giving up its nuclear ambitions. That sounds like a good deal to me."
The Congressional Record of Mr. Gilman's motion was from 1993; Bill Clinton was President in 1993. President Bush was elected in 2000 and hadn't threatened anyone outside Texas in '93.
History can be so difficult for the close-minded.
Cram - 11/23/2003
To your post:
You have your very own President?!? Wow, someone must be lucky! You see, I have to share mine with the rest of the country... its a bummer
1) "You pile misinformation on top of falsity and think you're in a debate? This has become a history lesson for a dogmatic Leftist who hates the President."
Wow, that is a lot of piles. One time, I stacked the misinformation on the falsities so high, it almost fell down... yeah that was a fun time... but I digress,
Well professor, perhaps you could tell me what happened a year AFTER this amazing testimony? Don't know. I'll give you a few more minutes.
Still no? Ok, well I'll tell you (but don't tell the "dogmatic-Leftists-who-hates-the-President" organization, they will get mad at me):
North Korea and U.S. sign an agreement in 1994. North Korea pledges to freeze and eventually dismantle its nuclear weapons program in exchange for international aid to build two power-producing nuclear reactors
2) "Claiming President Bush caused problems in N. Korea makes you look uninformed; defending the nonsense makes you look ignorant."
Uh oh... it's bad enough to be uninformed, but to be ignorent as well! Oh yeah, well not only are you unattractive, your ugly too!
PS: once I made the claim, why would I not defend it?
Bill Heuisler - 11/23/2003
Suggestions? No. This has become a history lesson for a dogmatic Leftist who hates my President out of stubborn ignorance.
Here's a source for you, Cram - one even you can't confuse.
Congressional Record November 15th, 1993
Page E2875 Congressman Gilman, Democrat, New York
Mr. GILMAN. "Mr. Speaker, North Korea's relentless effort to develop a nuclear bomb has reached crisis proportions. Director of Central Intelligence R. James Woolsey testified before Congress earlier this year that North Korea is the most urgent threat to our national security in East Asia, that there is a real possibility that North Korea has produced enough nuclear material to build at least one bomb, and that possession by North Korea of such a bomb would threaten United States allies in all of Asia as well as United States forces in the region."
"The administration has acknowledged the seriousness of the threat, but so far has been unable to persuade North Korea to permit fullscope inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency of all suspected nuclear weapons sites. Without such inspections, there can be no assurance that North Korea is not continuing to produce nuclear material, much less that it is not using the material it already has to build a bomb."
"The administration has indicated that it is prepared to take stronger measures if North Korea does not promptly comply with its obligation as a party to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to permit fullscope inspections. Most discussion of stronger measures focuses on the possibility of a U.N.-imposed embargo. The President has recently refused, however, to rule out the possibility of military action."
"To underscore Congress' concern about this matter, I am today introducing the nuclear nonproliferation in Korea resolution. My resolution expresses Congress' approval and support for the steps at the administration has taken to date. Further, it approves and encourages the use by the President of any additional means necessary and appropriate, including diplomacy, economic sanctions, a blockade, and military force, to prevent the development, acquisition, or use by North Korea of a nuclear explosive device."
"Approving use by the President of all means necessary and appropriate to prevent North Korea from obtaining nuclear weapons, including military force, is a step that Congress cannot take lightly. But neither can the threat posed by North Korea's determination to obtain nuclear weapons be taken lightly. I believe my resolution is a response commensurate to the threat."
Good enough? Do you know better than a Democrat Congressman?
Claiming President Bush caused problems in N. Korea makes you look uninformed; defending the nonsense makes you look ignorant.
Cram - 11/23/2003
Every article I have ever read on this site has conformed to those guidelines. Generally speaking, those that are more political or current events related tend to fall into the "deflate beguiling myths" category. However, many could also be considered putting events into context.
This is not to say that the authors interpretation of history is always correct, or mainstream. But I don't think anyone can doubt that Mr. Pipes is qualified to write about these subjects, given his position, even of you disagree with every word he ever wrote.
That is why I am grateful to HNN for providing these post boards, so that other historians, observers, etc. can debate the merits of the article. And with due respect sir, I neither need nor seek credibility from you.
Kurdlion - 11/23/2003
Your credibility with this historian is wavering, Cram. The article by Pipes here is comparatively mild (though also fairly worthless, as usual), but if you want to stop the wavering, go to the HNN archives, do a search, and look at a healthy sample of Pipes' 40 or so previous writings on this website, especially the earlier ones. If you can then show me, with credible examples, that Pipes adheres HALF as often as he violates the principles you cited (see below), I will withdraw my complaints:
"To point out bogus analogies. To deflate beguiling myths. To remind Americans of the irony of history. To put events in context. To remind us all of the complexity of history."
C.R.W. - 11/22/2003
I don't think all is lost; these things take time and nothing will happen overnight. Nevertheless, I'm sure there are plenty of things we could have done better about the reconstruction of both countries, in hindsight. Afghanistan is a much easier nut to crack, and hopefully our relative neglect can be reversed the sooner we can scale down in Iraq.
The reason Iraq was the best bet was because of the horrific abuses of human rights and the fact that we already had a history of military conflict and ongoing attrition with them. We came into it with a good degree of military superiority over 2 major regions. We owed the Iraqis a favor for letting them down once before. And the sanctions were a significant challenge to diplomacy.
Iran's regime was in even greater trouble, and despite the lower level of human rights abuses, support for overthrowing it is even greater in their country. With a population much larger than Iraq's and a less heavily scrutinized nuclear program, we're better off encouraging its implosion than direct confrontation.
Iraq is strategically located between Iran and Syria, and depending on how free the ensuing government becomes, will be a good P.R. tool against both neighboring regimes.
Syria can be well-contained and will respond less defiantly to our pressure than did Hussein. They are a smaller, much more isolated country, and will find it harder to be as influential in the region (for better or for worse) as Iraq. The removal of Hussein and his 25,000 bounty for dead Israeli civilians will allow for greater exposure of their support for regional terrorism.
Cram - 11/22/2003
I though about your suggestions Bill, but you know what?
I think I am going to continue using this fake name, and studying facts presented from the media I chose.
I appriciate the suggestion however :-)
(wait a minute, didn't you say that you had "nothing left to say to" me "about President Bush?" Hmmmmmmm)
Bill Heuisler - 11/22/2003
Are we expected to applaud some anonymous opinion with a tough-sounding pseudonym for admitting he doesn't like President Bush? Your problem throughout HNN is you lack a grasp of reality. You constantly make statements and use quotes that are false. When this is pointed out, you add to the garbage with flurries of side-steps and history that reads like fiction. And bad fiction.
For example, on an article from last week - to bash President Bush - you made the following appalling misstatement:
"N. Korea and Iran did not begin seriously developing nuclear weapons until Bush threatened them with war. N. Korea then asked for a non-aggression pact in exchange for giving up its nuclear ambitions. That sounds like a good deal to me."
In fact, N. Korea broke a treaty and resumed its nuclear weapon development mid-way in the Clinton Administration. When called on the obvious mistake, did you admit ignorance? Did you cite a momentary lapse? No, you minced lots of words and never admitted your colossal error. Bush-bashing becomes more art than science when you ignore history on a history site.
Now you misquote President Bush's September speech and fail to include his citation of Saddam Hussein's Al Qaeda connections. But when corrected and supplied with the full text, you attack the messenger, simper about BBC, and ignore the facts.
My suggestion? Get a real name and study some real facts. Merely disliking President Bush doesn't excuse misquotes, mistakes and bad history.
Cram - 11/22/2003
I totally agree with your analysis of the anti-war protesters (no, we did not go war for oil, and no, we are not all simply working for Israel). I too am frightened that these people have many converts to their warped ideology as they do. If this is what the meaning of “liberal” has become, then I am ashamed to call myself one.
I am also sympathetic for your reasons to support the war and I would be lying if I tried to counter any one of them.
My only response is that I fear going into Iraq was the wrong first step (first after the initial war in Afghanistan, that is). Imagine how much support we could have had if we chose Iran or Syria instead, nations that the world already consider terrorist states, and whose complicity in terrorism and the danger it poses to us simply cannot be denied. Do you honestly believe that now, with our troops stretched thin, American credibility challenged in virtually every nation in the globe, and the American people frustrated at spending so much money abroad, we have the means, and the will to go after Iran?
I was never afraid of Iraq, nor do I think, were most people before Bush told us he was a imminent threat. We put all our chips on an Iraqi victory that would bring liberation to the country and have a ripple effect of democracy on the region. Thus far, this gamble has been lost and I fear very much that we will have crippled ourselves politically into doing anything further any time soon.
However, I certainly hope that I am wrong.
C.R.W. - 11/22/2003
Appreciate your perspective on things, as always.
Just got cable installed after a self-imposed 5 month-long hiatus from TV. Turned on C-SPAN and heard the anti-war demonstrators in Britain shouting their stuff. Television can be such a glaring medium.
Here's what scares the hell out me. The demonstrators put a Muslim guy with a Middle Eastern accent on the podium. His yelling followed the usual pattern of saying that they don't hate Americans, policy needs to change, government needs to be voted out, etc. After starting with a prayer, he loudly yelled into the crowd, "WHAT CAUSES TERRORISM?", "WHAT CAUSES SOMEONE TO LOSE HIS MIND, AND GO CRAZY?" His answer, "POLICY!" "WE DON'T WANT THE AMERICANS TO BE INNOCENT VICTIMS, BUT THIS POLICY IS CAUSING TERRORISM!"
Here's what gets me. Nobody, nobody, *causes* someone else to lose their mind. Nobody causes someone to commit an act unless they are forced to. With freedom comes the ability to make decisions, and with the opportunity to make personal decisions comes personal responsibilities. The coalescence of political themes strengthens the right because they understand this. No matter how dire someone's circumstances, they always have a choice.
Now some in the Muslim world (and here) are telling us right now that their anger, (which I think you could agree is exacerbated by state-run media), against the West, *causes* this phenomenon of terrorism. And terrorist-sympathizing states feed into the idea that if people are crazy enough, they HAVE to get what they want; there's just no other way to deal with it. But they're pulling the wool over our eyes. In order to accept their premise, you have to abandon the idea that everyone (terrorist or not) is *personally* responsible for their own actions - or you don't need rule of law; you get anarchy instead. Again, in order to have personal responsibility, you need freedom. Rule of law is the only thing that guarantees one's freedom. These 2 ingredients mutually reinforce each other and provide the minimal framework necessary for democracy to work. And in a world where WMD can be accessed by terrorists, the Muslim world cannot wait any longer to reform in accordance with the aforementioned realities.
I understand you feel betrayed by the reasons given for war. I understand you think Bush lied. But change NEEDS to come to that part of the world, and we cannot afford to be anything but proactive, or the front will be here. The Iraqi people wanted Hussein gone, there were great humanitarian reasons for doing so, if we didn't do it his regime would have gone on for at least another generation. The best reason: He had continually *violated* an armistice that provided the only reason for an end to the 1st gulf war in the first place. Sounds like he blew the deal. Armistice off. If you don't like bucking the stated will of the U.N. I think "serious consequences" is clear enough.
Everything else is political. What he said to the press doesn't change any of the above.
Keep the posts coming.
Cram - 11/22/2003
Thank you for your post, I am glad I am not the only one who notices the fact that some people (I won't mention names) are so full of anger at those who disagree that they end up drowning out their message with baseless insults and attacks.
I have always been honest in my dislike for Bush and my dislike for this war, but I don't fault those who disagree. There are good reasons to admire President Bush, and I have never denied it. There also good reasons to support a war in Iraq (such as a humanitarian intervention similar to what we did in Kosovo or what Vietnam did to Cambodia).
When I see a point that I disagree with, I attack that point, not the author. I wish more people would do the same.
One of my favorite quotes from a post on this site is this: The world would be round even if Hitler said it was. In other words, let us debate the article, each other, and the world based on content. Thats all.
Cram - 11/22/2003
You are not the first person that I have heard accuse this site of decitful propoganda, or bias. However, I believe these charges are unfair to the site.
If you go to the mian page, and click on "about us," HNN is explicit in what it wants to do:
"Among the many duties we assume are these: To expose politicians who misrepresent history. To point out bogus analogies. To deflate beguiling myths. To remind Americans of the irony of history. To put events in context. To remind us all of the complexity of history."
I have yet to read an article on this site that does not conform to one of those duties.
Richard Kurdlion - 11/22/2003
No regrets from my side about Said's presences on HNN being outnumbered 10-1 by Pipes, even if the former could have run circles around the latter (in a one-on-one) and without resorting to the latter’s level of hatemongering demagoguery. Less nauseating than Pipe's bigotry, repeated over and over on HNN, Said's much less frequently featured but nonetheless relentless bias was tiresome all the same. Hearing just once from Mrs. Rabin, Mrs. Ashwari or Mr Mitzna on HNN, would be an unexpected development, but I will check out Sari Nusseibeh (whose name is new to me) elsewhere. My principal complaint is with the deceit of propaganda site calling itself a "history network". In that context, your clever but rather muddled satire was indeed, and still is, somewhat puzzling to me.
Peter K. Clarke - 11/22/2003
I'm "following" this thread, and am interested to watch you start to figure things out here. The observations in your last comment are quite correct, but incomplete.
I don't have precise figures, but I would be surprised if (a) Heuisler were not in the top 5 of all time commenters on this website, and (b) it were not the case that, when they are relevant at all, Heuisler's comments are in support of the article being commented upon and against any and all critics of the article, more often than his comments are critical of the article and in support of the critics.
Please continue drawing appropriate logical conclusions about messages and messengers.
Note: the ignorance of proper and professional citation procedures revealed in this thread is not an isolated example, as a perusal of the HNN archives, searchable by author name, would show.
Prometheus - 11/22/2003
Sorry you only achieved a partial understanding of my satire. But seeing as how your persistent interest in hearing views from a Palestinian "peace" camp actually seems sincere, I would advise you to feel no regrets over the lack of HNN contributions from the late literature professor who wished for the disestablishment of Israel.
If you're really interested in a sincere Palestinian peacenick, who lives in the real world and sees the folly of indulging the incitement of suicidal Jew hatred on the national level, I'd ask them if Sari Nusseibeh would come around. He's a brilliant philosophy professor who can dabble in political dialogue with his people and *simultaneously* avoid death threats (as if that isn't enough of a feat!) and meets often with Israelis to further the understanding of a workable settlement. Having been at Geneva, I figure he should win extra points in your book.
Too bad for Edward Said. It was only until serving under Arafat that he saw how bad things could get. At least he had the conviction to quit in protest.
"Like fire I bore the gift of freedom, and out of contempt for my foresight the god of the ideological left chained me to a rock while a vulture tore at my gut."
Cram - 11/22/2003
As I began to ponder a response to you last post, I realized, I was talking to wall who has so little to defend himself with, he responds like some others: With straw man attacks and distortions. To date, with a few brief exceptions, your arguments have basically been the following: All media that don’t agree with you is wrong, my dislike for Bush blinds me to reality, and I misquote other people. And of course, calling my "clueless Bush-bashing" repetitive and yet saying that I have no real positions. Technically however, Bush-bashing is itself a position. I grow tired of your childishness and do not expect any response from this message. However, for others who may be following this, a few points:
1) Bill’s entire argument is predicated on the fact that even though Saddam Hussein had no links to 9/11, Iraq did. The problem with this is that Iraq was a totalitarian state. Hussein is as much Iraq as Stalin WAS the Soviet Union and Hitler WAS Germany.
Furthermore, since Bill is unaware, when something is surrounded by this: "_" that is called a quote. When someone does not include those things, it is not a quote. Thus when you read my last post, you will note no quotation marks around the President’s comments, indicating that I was not repeating verbatim what the President actually said. This may be important to know in the future.
2) Actually, there is no 2)… in fact, there really was no 1) either… Bill’s post was pretty much just choosing to ignore the issue altogether and focus on whether Iraq is the same as Saddam, and whether BBC was liberal enough for me (it is, by the way, thank you)
Sally Dean - 11/22/2003
Saddam was not behind 9-11: Palestinians were. According, that is, to the trackless desert sources of Mr. Heuisler (see below). The difference between Heuisler's rubbbish and Pipes's rubbish is that Pipes gets his garbage published in the New York Post.
Britain's Continuing Abdication of Responsibility for the Palestinian Crisis
Subject: The enemy of our enemy...
Posted By: Bill Heuisler
Date Posted: October 6, 2003, 5:55 PM
Pulling refugee numbers out of the air and using words like ethnic cleansing will not make you many US converts. Your numbers for '40s Haifa and Jaffa (70,000 and 120,000) aren't supported by census or reputable records. In fact,neither urban area had the resources or economic base to support such numbers. Were they all craftsmen and goatherders? Merchants? Fishermen? Who did they sell to? Tourists? This is political nonsense.
A more compelling discussion would explore the fifty year existance of "refugee camps" on prior Egyptian soil. Perhaps you might explain why Americans should give a damn about the plight of people who dance in the streets when thousands of us are killed in an attack on civilians. Never mind. Your references to the hijackings, murders and destruction of thousands on 9/11 tell us all we need to know about you.
Your words about 9/11 diminish the attack, obscure the identities of the attackers and insult the civilian targets of the attack. Has it slipped your mind that the US has been under attack by these so-called Muslims for the past fifteen years?
"...the foolish attack on the twin towers..." Foolish?
"...dominated after the 9/11 tragedy..." "tragedy?"
Why should any American side with these murderers against Israel?
9/11 was not foolish, not a tragedy, but another in a long series of attacks on the United States by the very same people you say want our support and sympathy. Fat chance.
Richard Kurdlion - 11/22/2003
Dear "Promethean" Likudnik,
Locate one article on HNN from the "Palestinian peace camp", excepting the approximately semi annual weird statements of a now dead professor of literature, and your interesting though non original rhetoric might merit a reply.
Promethean Reversal - 11/22/2003
Me, I've waited 100 years and all I ever see are the articles from the politically influential Palestinian peace camp. Some days all I see are articles from Palestinians who want an independent state that doesn't replace Israel, who want to end the deliberate murder/suicides of unarmed noncombattants, who want to advance civil freedoms for the Palestinian people. And it just sickens me. They should be steadfast in their martyrdom operations just like Arafat advises.
Why can't I hear more articles giving in-depth analysis to calls in Arabic by Arafat to wage a "jihad over Jerusalem," or to "put 10 bullets in the chest of anyone who asks to end the intifada before its 'goals' are achieved"? This is not fair. Some of us know that the peace and justice that will only be achieved by confronting and destroying Israel is not being covered fairly enough by the Western media, as it is in the state-run media of the non-elected Arab governments and the mosques of the region.
This is the reason why people in the West don't understand our cause. Except when they read the Guardian. And I heard in London the Muslim community celebrates September 11th, just like we did!
More balanced coverage of the proceedings of the Palestinian Legislative Council, please! A model for justice!
AND MORE MARTYRDOM OPERATIONS! WE HUNGER FOR JIHAD!
And less coverage of Sharon, he makes us look comparatively not as vile, apparently. As do pictures of our babies dressed in suicide bomber gear. Although they are cute, aren't they!
But our cause is certainly winning! Even in the West they now want to pressure Israel to make "peace." They think we are actually willing to do so! They don't know that the IDF prevents 100 attempted suicidal terror attacks a day or that 60% of us want to continue the intifada after Israel is forced to withdraw!
You leftists will wait a 1,000 years for an informed electorate to willingly abdicate its freedom.
Bill Heuisler - 11/22/2003
Like I said before, your sources are terrible. In fact, your questions don't even have the quotes right.
1- "Why do you think President Bush said that there was no evidence linking Iraq to 9/11 when your “correct” sources tell you otherwise? Who is wrong?"
You're the one who's wrong. If you can't get the quote right, Mr. Cram, how do you expect me to respect your position?
Try the BBC News 9/18/03 at 02:03 GMT
"US President George Bush has said there is no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved in the 11 September attacks.
The comments - among his most explicit so far on the issue - come after a recent opinion poll found that nearly 70% of Americans believed the Iraqi leader was personally involved in the attacks."
"Mr Bush did however repeat his belief that the former Iraqi president had ties to al-Qaeda - the group widely regarded as responsible for the attacks on New York and Washington."
Is the BBC Liberal enough for you? Is the message plain enough? He said "no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved". That's a far different statement than your quote. Note: The President did not say Iraq...and he did say Hussein had ties to Al Qaeda.
You want to play games with quotes, get them right. As to your quotes from Blix and Kay, there are others from both men that imply there are WMD in Iraq that haven't been found yet.
Yet, Mr. Cram, means a positive, not a negative.
Your clueless Bush-bashing has become repetitive and tiresome. Find some real positions, exact quotes, and better sources; otherwise I've nothing left to say to you about President Bush.
Richard Kurdlion - 11/21/2003
You will wait a long time if you are looking on this website for
Israelis and Americans who "reject" the "hardline philosophies" of Ariel Sharon. 40 articles by Pipes, many more by Klinghoffer and others cut from the same cloth, versus next to nothing from Peace Now, the Geneva group, or even the Israeli Labor Party.
Gus Moner - 11/21/2003
I must say reading the Cincinatti speech, it now feels like a slap in the face. There are more lies and conjecture there than the Bush 43 predecesors ever dared utter. It was Feith's OSP at work!
Gus Moner - 11/21/2003
Lengthy perhaps, but informative regarding the ease with which it is to fool all of he people some of the time.
Cram - 11/21/2003
1) "For a news magazine and a newspaper to lightly pass all those sources off as discredited or in conflict with other sources is specious at best."
Well until I see proof of some massive conspiracy (as you clearly imply), I am sticking to mainstream news sources, and, oh yeah, the President I dislike, who agrees with me.
2) “something as important as the Iraq/9-11 connection should be examined thoroughly rather than dismissed without comment.”
I agree 100% and I am more then open to new evidence, so long as it is reported by credible sources. However, when Dick Cheney was asked about the connection, he said, “we don’t know.” And to reiterate, President Bush later said that there was no evidence. How do you so easily dismiss this??
3) “Iraqis and Afganis beginning to savor freedom and rule themselves. Al Quaida is being systematically destroyed. Bombing Saudis, Turks, Red Cross and killing Muslim civilians shows desperation rather than strength.
I would recommend the following article on how great Afghanistan is doing: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/3179474.stm
Also, I never suggested that they were as strong as they were before the Afghanistan war. My point is simply that going into Iraq cost us the opportunity to direct all of our attention on weakening Al-Queda. Also, if bombing civilians in a well coordinated attack constitutes desperation, then on 9/11, they must have been on the verge of collapse!
4) “President Bush actually said British sources were convinced Iraq was trying to buy UO2 from Niger.”
On this point you are absolutely right, and technically his quote is factually accurate. However, Bush is the President of the United States and when he says something in the State of the Union address that deals with foreign intelligence, the presumption (and public opinion polls back me up on this) is that it is true or else, he would not have said it. Now, out of convenience, you might want to dispute this fact and argue that Bush is under no moral obligation to check his facts when citing foreign documents, but I think we both know it makes Bush look like a fool if nothing else, especially given the fact that the document was apparently so obvious a forgery, it used names of ministers who were not even working at the time.
5) “Your sources evidently can't be bothered to use exact quotes when quoting the President they dislike.”
Wow, every single mainstream media outlet dislikes Bush except the Weekly Standard! Pity such an army of Bush-haters failed to win the opposition a majority in 2002.
How about this for a direct quote: G. Stephanopoulos says: “Key goal of the military campaign is finding those weapons of mass destruction. None have been found yet. There was a raid on the Answar Al-Islam Camp up in the north last night. A lot of people expected to find ricin there. None was found. How big of a problem is that? And is it curious to you that given how much control U.S. and coalition forces now have in the country, they haven't found any weapons of mass destruction?
To Which Rumsfeld replied: “We know where they are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat.”
Apparently, not only did he know where they are, but every major media outlet refuses to admit we found them, a fact reported by the only true news magazine out there!
6) “your sources have evidently forgotten the testimony of the Vice Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, The last President and the last two CIA Directors.”
They must have (after all, it is a conspiracy) because I don’t recall President Clinton saying that. I do recall him saying the following however, after bombing Iraq in 1998 (to the great dissatisfaction of the Republicans, if you recall)
"Our objectives in this military action were clear: to degrade Saddam's weapons of mass destruction program and related delivery systems as well as his capacity to attack his neighbors…
"It will take some time to make a detailed assessment of our operation. But based on the briefing I have just received, I am confident we have achieved our mission…
With our allies, we must pursue a strategy to contain him and to constrain his weapons of mass destruction program while working toward the day Iraq has a government willing to live at peace with its people and with its neighbors.” --President Clinton 12/19/98
7) “Specious reasoning, careless incomplete reporting and misquotes: You're correct, we will never agree and you need better sources.”
Perhaps I could get my news from the Weekly Standard, The New America, or The American Conservative. They might be better and more impartial then all those pesky sources like CNN and Newsweek.
My position remains the same: Our rationale for going to war have proven wrong, and this war has hurt America by any measurable standard (money, international credibility, etc.)
Bill, I have a few direct questions I would like to ask you and anyone else who cares to respond to them:
1- Why do you think President Bush said that there was no evidence linking Iraq to 9/11 when your “correct” sources tell you otherwise? Who is wrong?
2- Chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix has said that "The commission has not at any time during the inspections in Iraq found evidence of the continuation or resumption of programs of weapons of mass destruction or significant quantities of proscribed items, whether from pre-1991 or later." What do you make of this?
3- In his testimony to Congress, why did David Kay saiy the following: "With the regime of Saddam Husayn at an end, ISG has the opportunity for the first time of drawing together all the evidence that can still be found in Iraq -- much evidence is irretrievably lost -- to reach definitive conclusions concerning the true state of Iraq's WMD program...
"We have not yet found stocks of weapons, but we are not yet at the point where we can say definitively either that such weapon stocks do not exist or that they existed before the war and our only task is to find where they have gone." What do you make of this?
Bill Heuisler - 11/21/2003
Dislike of President Bush has apparently colored your powers of reasoning. No matter the issue, source or action you assume the worst for, or from, the United States. Allow me to illustrate.
1)The Weekly Standard isn't interpreting or drawing conclusions, they're quoting from a DOD memo. The memo stands alone. The memo is the combination of dozens of sources. For a news magazine and a newspaper to lightly pass all those sources off as discredited or in conflict with other sources is specious at best. Some of these sources aren't in dispute (Kuala Lumpur & Prague) but something as important as the Iraq/9-11 connection should be examined thoroughly rather than dismissed without comment.
2)You wrote bombings in Turkey by Al Quida, are a testament to growing strength and regrouping since their base was destroyed. Come on. You know this is counter intuitive and contrary to the evidence. Their base destroyed, monetary sources drying up, leaders being killed, Iraqis and Afganis beginning to savor freedom and rule themselves. Al Quaida is being systematically destroyed. Bombing Saudis, Turks, Red Cross and killing Muslim civilians shows desperation rather than strength.
3)President Bush actually said British sources were convinced Iraq was trying to buy UO2 from Niger. They were/are and stand by their information. Niger sells UO2 to France and many other countries who do not deal with Canada, the US or South Africa - the largest exporters of Uranium ore in the world. There has been no review of exports from Niger and destinations, only a three-day visit to Lagos to "drink a lot of tea" by an anti-Bush partisan. President Bush relayed information from British sources. Your sources evidently can't be bothered to use exact quotes when quoting the President they dislike.
4)You wrote quite emphatically, "Furthermore, based on my news sources there has been absolutely NO evidence whatsoever proving that Iraq was an "imminent threat." No evidence. None."
Well, Mr. Cram, your sources have evidently forgotten the testimony of the Vice Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, The last President and the last two CIA Directors.
Specious reasoning, careless incomplete reporting and misquotes: You're correct, we will never agree and you need better sources.
Peter K. Clarke - 11/21/2003
The deceit of which Kurdlion spoke is encapsulated, among other places, in this statement from the "You love HNN / You hate HNN" page (http://hnn.us/articles/1783.html ):
"We welcome ideological diversity".
Daniel Pipes, who has mostly published writings on radical Islam, is neither a recognized scholar, nor a recognized journalist, nor a recognized historian. His predictable sugar-coated demagoguery adds little to the critical debates over the challenges of terrorism and religious fanaticism which plague our world. Nearly one article by him every fourth week here at HNN (using Kurdlion’s figure of 40 divided by something like 160 weeks of HNN) is simply not “ideological diversity”.
Scores of widely differing experts on the Mideast and Islam write articles every week in journals and news media around the world. Any half-educated undergrad net surfer could do better than to constantly rerun Pipes and his less coherent sidekick Klinghoffer, if diversity of opinion on critical issues were truly the objective here.
Gus Moner makes a similar point on that “Love/Hate” page. Maybe Kurdlion thought that that sort of direct appeal to the editor falls on deaf ears, and sent in his remark here instead. It is clear to me that the “left, right, and center” rhetoric is mostly a smokescreen. I’m not sure what exactly is being screened, but I can smell hidden agendas when they stink this badly.
Cram - 11/21/2003
To answer your question, I get my news primarily from Newsweek, U.S. News and World Report, NPR radio, and online, I usually go to either CNN, NY Times, or WP.
As for your article from the Weekly Standard, frankly, it is their word versus both Newsweek, the Washington Post (which discredited the evidence as unsubstantiated or conflicting with other evidence), AND President Bush. You have made your choice, and I have made mine.
On to some of your points:
1) "This war is much more a geopolitic success than a military one…Al Quaida has become isolated. Terrorists fear strength. Iraq was either first or second in the funding of terrorism in other countries; Iraq was definitely connected to 9/11."
Militarily, the war was an absolute success. As for the strength of Al Quaida, U.S. News reported several months ago there was such a tremendous need for Arabic speakers and those with intelligence in the region, agents were pulled from Afghanistan to go into Iraq at the start of the war. Since then, President Bush himself acknowledges that foreign troops have been fully engaged in a now chaotic Iraq, and the bombings in Turkey, supposedly by Al Quida, are a testament to their growing strength and regrouping since their base was destroyed in Afghanistan.
Furthermore, the Iraq war turned many Arabs against the United States as never before, even in countries that were largely sympathetic to us in Afghanistan and the Gulf War.
As for 9/11, we are simply going to have to disagree on this issue. President Bush said there was no link. This is confirmed by all major media outlets I have seen. I do not want to get into a debate on whether the Weekly Standard has a partisan agenda, but as far as I am concerned, the evidence from other sources are convincing that no connection has been proven.
2) "We have crushed two tyrannies, are prepared to add Syria to the list and Iran's tyranny has become less stable - more pliable."
Frankly Bill, under current political conditions, I find it now astronomically more complicated to go to war against these areas then before Iraq, when the entire international community was with us. As it is, the price tag in dollars and blood is becoming too much for many Americans to bare, and the level of mistrust and disdain for our country as a result of this war throughout the world, including Western Europe, make it almost inconceivable that we would get any help in our next adventure. Given public attitudes about how stretched out military is right now, I can not believe that they would support another costly campaign.
3) "President Bush's quotes before the war… are proving true as we sit here and argue. He said imminent. He said we must prevent the full weaponization of WMD. Nothing he said has proven untrue. Name an untruth."
Well, one very publicized untruth was the claim that Iraq was trying to purchase uranium from Niger. This was not told in some interview off the cuff, but in the most watched Presidential speech of the year, the State of the Union address. This claim has been disproved. And how about this one from Bush before the start of the war: "We have sources that tell us that Saddam Hussein recently authorized Iraqi field commanders to use chemical weapons -- the very weapons the dictator tells us he does not have."
Furthermore, based on my news sources there has been absolutely NO evidence whatsoever proving that Iraq was an "imminent threat." No evidence. None.
4) "Yes. We have captured over two hundred members of terrorist organizations and some seventy Baathist generals, police..."
This is true, but since my primary thesis is that Iraq was not a necessary war, all of these arrests do nothing to support the case for going in the first place.
5) "We have found VX and Anthrax residue, not only in shell casings and in laboratories, but in the Tigris river in such percentages that for a week after the fall of Baghdad the water tested positive. Also the records and personnel we've captured show and tell of comprehensive WMD programs in place."
Again, it is a question of sources and we are simply going to have to disagree. If the NY Times, Washington Post, and CNN are correct, then David Kay, Washington's chief weapons inspector and a special adviser to the CIA, said in an interim report, presented to congressional intelligence committees last week "that the group had found no chemical, nuclear or bioweapons, but had turned up evidence of a biological program." (BIG difference here)
Those illegal devices and weapons that have been found thus far are not anywhere close to the arsenal that Bush was certain would be there. Or, to use his own words, "We know that the regime has produced thousands of tons of chemical agents, including mustard gas, sarin nerve gas, VX nerve gas." These agents have yet to be found.
Furthermore, "Iraqi scientists interviewed by the U.S. deny that Saddam Hussein had restarted his nuclear weapons program or secretly developed chemical and biological weapons since U.N. weapons inspectors left the nation in 1998, the Washington Post reports."
I think what we have hear is a simple case of two news sources telling factually opposed things. I will not insult your intelligence to suggest that those you use are incorrect. I will simply say that those I rely on have continuously affirmed the lack of WMD in any significant quantity in Iraq to date, continuously affirmed President Bush’s statement that there is no link between Iraq and 9/11, and continuously affirm the growing cost of this war, not only in terms of dollars and blood, but also in terms of America’s ability to attack another country with any ease.
Citizen R. W. - 11/21/2003
Sorry Gus, but I can't believe I forgot to commend you on correctly answering your own question.
"About the “political instability messing up economic conditions”, just who is exacerbating this instability, trundling US and Israeli armour or a few fanatical Muslims? Just the latter, of cours"
Perhaps you've been paying attention to recent events in Riyadh, after all.
Hopefully you can copy and paste if the HTML's faulty, because certainly the hate-spewing prime minister of Malaysia wouldn't want his press to shield you from the truth behind who's stirring up trouble in Saudi Arabia (hint: al Qaeda). Although it would be certainly convenient to blame it on the Jews/Israel/Mossad, I think that's a suggestion the Saudi authorities would take offense to. Since it's illegal for a Jew to enter the country, let alone be granted citizenship, I think such an allegation would imply that they might need to retrain all those security guards checking passports.
Gus Moner - 11/21/2003
Come on, you have to have a beter example than that!
Gus Moner - 11/21/2003
: - )
C.R.W. - 11/20/2003
I think the term "dismembering" is incredibly rhetorical, first of all, and your straw man of what they said in the report about Iraq is therefore irrelevant. But since you want to badger me about it, here you go. Every country has a right to survey the political conditions of their neighbors and watch developments carefully. There is nothing wrong with someone having an opinion about how what goes on next-door might affect them, especially given Saddam's $25,000 bounty on dead Israeli civilians, or input on it. It's no more wrong than the Jordanians being concerned about Ahmed Chalabi sitting on the Iraqi Governing Council.
Maybe you believe pushing this "conspiracy" thing will win political points for your point of view. At the end of the day, however, the standards for proving a "conflict of interest" in American government are so high that legality is practically not even an issue.
I would consider a failed state in America one where the electorate believed that their interests could not be pursued, or their rights guaranteed, within the confines of a ratified constitution, or where they were incapable of finding a leadership capable of abiding by its terms (Just an off-the-cuff definition).
You actually got me, and at the same time, are wrong, with the fourth paragraph. The Zogby poll conducted in August 2003 shows that only 4 in 10 think democracy will work (oh well, they can afford to be pessimistic given history, I suppose) but 7 in 10 think their lives will be better in 5 years (32% think things will be "much better.") So I goofed by a tad, but I think I'm not "way out there" in my overall assessment that the war was not a bad thing. (Actually maybe I didn't goof, they didn't say they "didn't want" it). [editor's note] As far as pre-war polls go, any polling agency will attest to the damn-near impossible prospect of getting an accurate poll under a dictatorship that executes you for speaking out. If you don't believe me then perhaps the "99%" approval for Saddam Hussein on his pre-war referendum sounded legitimate. ;-)
Some even signed their ballots in blood. How quaint. ;-D
In case you're interested in a handy reference link:
Can't argue with you on the energy bit. I'm with you all the way on that one, actually. I'm a scientist by training and profession and am pretty enthusiastic about the prospects for hydrogen as an energy medium and fuel for personal transportation. I would repeal all fossil fuel subsidies tomorrow if I could (which would probably make wind an instantly competitive alternative) and if we did anything with them - reinvest it all into other renewables. Where there's a will there's definitely a way. There's everything to be gained by increased efficiency and promoting the development of alternatives would probably provide a new boon to labor markets.
We wouldn't have to worry about Arab state-provided media "exacerbating" social instability dissent wasn't stifled in the first place. If you're not worried about a dictatorship being an actual *source* of political stability then there's always the lovely example of Algeria. We also have a few decades in Lebanon, [which Israel didn't start - I seem to remember]. I also don't believe Israel makes things much worse for Sudan, does it? I think investors are on to that whole thing about how dictators tend to not like capitalism much, either. It's hard to see much point to investing in Saudi Arabia when their cradle-to-grave oil-based welfare state is used to siphon their youth off to madrasas as the only option for getting an education. That is, assuming human capital is of any value.
Bill Heuisler - 11/20/2003
Sorry for the interminable post below, but I mentioned the article and quotes in my last post to you without realizing you might not have seen what we're talking about.
It's long, but important.
From the November 24, 2003 issue: The U.S. government's secret memo detailing cooperation between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden.
by Stephen F. Hayes
11/24/2003, Volume 009, Issue 11
OSAMA BIN LADEN and Saddam Hussein had an operational relationship from the early 1990s to 2003 that involved training in explosives and weapons of mass destruction, logistical support for terrorist attacks, al Qaeda training camps and safe haven in Iraq, and Iraqi financial support for al Qaeda--perhaps even for Mohamed Atta--according to a top secret U.S. government memorandum obtained by THE WEEKLY STANDARD.
The memo, dated October 27, 2003, was sent from Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas J. Feith to Senators Pat Roberts and Jay Rockefeller, the chairman and vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. It was written in response to a request from the committee as part of its investigation into prewar intelligence claims made by the administration. Intelligence reporting included in the 16-page memo comes from a variety of domestic and foreign agencies, including the FBI, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the National Security Agency. Much of the evidence is detailed, conclusive, and corroborated by multiple sources. Some of it is new information obtained in custodial interviews with high-level al Qaeda terrorists and Iraqi officials, and some of it is more than a decade old. The picture that emerges is one of a history of collaboration between two of America's most determined and dangerous enemies.
According to the memo--which lays out the intelligence in 50 numbered points--Iraq-al Qaeda contacts began in 1990 and continued through mid-March 2003, days before the Iraq War began. Most of the numbered passages contain straight, fact-based intelligence reporting, which in
some cases includes an evaluation of the credibility of the source. This reporting is often followed by commentary and analysis.
The relationship began shortly before the first Gulf War. According to reporting in the memo, bin Laden sent "emissaries to Jordan in 1990 to meet with Iraqi government officials." At some unspecified point in 1991, according to a CIA analysis, "Iraq sought Sudan's assistance to establish links to al Qaeda." The outreach went in both directions. According to 1993 CIA reporting cited in the memo, "bin Laden wanted to expand his organization's capabilities through ties with Iraq."
The primary go-between throughout these early stages was Sudanese strongman Hassan al-Turabi, a leader of the al Qaeda-affiliated National Islamic Front. Numerous sources have confirmed this. One defector reported that "al-Turabi was instrumental in arranging the Iraqi-al Qaeda relationship. The defector said Iraq sought al Qaeda influence through its connections with Afghanistan, to facilitate the transshipment of proscribed weapons and equipment to Iraq. In return, Iraq provided al Qaeda with training and instructors."
One such confirmation came in a postwar interview with one of Saddam Hussein's henchmen. As the memo details:
4. According to a May 2003 debriefing of a senior Iraqi intelligence officer, Iraqi intelligence established a highly secretive relationship with Egyptian Islamic Jihad, and later with al Qaeda. The first meeting in 1992 between the Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS) and al Qaeda was brokered by al-Turabi. Former IIS deputy director Faruq Hijazi and senior al Qaeda leader [Ayman al] Zawahiri were at the meeting--the first of several between 1992 and 1995 in Sudan. Additional meetings between Iraqi intelligence and al Qaeda were held in Pakistan. Members of al Qaeda would sometimes visit Baghdad where they would meet the Iraqi intelligence chief in a safe house. The report claimed that Saddam insisted the relationship with al Qaeda be kept secret. After 9-11, the source said Saddam made a personnel change in the IIS for fear the relationship would come under scrutiny from foreign probes.
A decisive moment in the budding relationship came in 1993, when bin Laden faced internal resistance to his cooperation with Saddam.
5. A CIA report from a contact with good access, some of whose reporting has been corroborated, said that certain elements in the "Islamic Army" of bin Laden were against the secular regime of Saddam. Overriding the internal factional strife that was developing, bin Laden came to an "understanding" with Saddam that the Islamic Army would no longer support anti-Saddam activities. According to sensitive reporting released in U.S. court documents during the African Embassy trial, in 1993 bin Laden reached an "understanding" with Saddam under which he (bin Laden) forbade al Qaeda operations to be mounted against the Iraqi leader.
Another facilitator of the relationship during the mid-1990s was Mahmdouh Mahmud Salim (a.k.a. Abu Hajer al-Iraqi). Abu Hajer, now in a New York prison, was described in court proceedings related to the August 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania as bin Laden's "best friend." According to CIA reporting dating back to the Clinton administration, bin Laden trusted him to serve as a liaison with Saddam's regime and tasked him with procurement of weapons of mass destruction for al Qaeda. FBI reporting in the memo reveals that Abu Hajer "visited Iraq in early 1995" and "had a good relationship with Iraqi intelligence. Sometime before mid-1995 he went on an al Qaeda mission to discuss unspecified cooperation with the Iraqi government."
Some of the reporting about the relationship throughout the mid-1990s comes from a source who had intimate knowledge of bin Laden and his dealings. This source, according to CIA analysis, offered "the most credible information" on cooperation between bin Laden and Iraq.
This source's reports read almost like a diary. Specific dates of when bin Laden flew to various cities are included, as well as names of individuals he met. The source did not offer information on the substantive talks during the meetings. . . . There are not a great many reports in general on the relationship between bin Laden and Iraq because of the secrecy surrounding it. But when this source with close access provided a "window" into bin Laden's activities, bin Laden is seen as heavily involved with Iraq (and Iran).
Reporting from the early 1990s remains somewhat sketchy, though multiple sources place Hassan al-Turabi and Ayman al Zawahiri, bin Laden's current No. 2, at the center of the relationship. The reporting gets much more specific in the mid-1990s:
8. Reporting from a well placed source disclosed that bin Laden was receiving training on bomb making from the IIS's [Iraqi Intelligence Service] principal technical expert on making sophisticated explosives, Brigadier Salim al-Ahmed. Brigadier Salim was observed at bin Laden's farm in Khartoum in Sept.-Oct. 1995 and again in July 1996, in the company of the Director of Iraqi Intelligence, Mani abd-al-Rashid al-Tikriti.
9 . . . Bin Laden visited Doha, Qatar (17-19 Jan. 1996), staying at the residence of a member of the Qatari ruling family. He discussed the successful movement of explosives into Saudi Arabia, and operations targeted against U.S. and U.K. interests in Dammam, Dharan, and Khobar, using clandestine al Qaeda cells in Saudi Arabia. Upon his return, bin Laden met with Hijazi and Turabi, among others.
And later more reporting, from the same "well placed" source:
10. The Director of Iraqi Intelligence, Mani abd-al-Rashid al-Tikriti, met privately with bin Laden at his farm in Sudan in July 1996. Tikriti used an Iraqi delegation traveling to Khartoum to discuss bilateral cooperation as his "cover" for his own entry into Sudan to meet with bin Laden and Hassan al-Turabi. The Iraqi intelligence chief and two other IIS officers met at bin Laden's farm and discussed bin Laden's request for IIS technical assistance in: a) making letter and parcel bombs; b) making bombs which could be placed on aircraft and detonated by changes in barometric pressure; and c) making false passport [sic]. Bin Laden specifically requested that [Brigadier Salim al-Ahmed], Iraqi intelligence's premier explosives maker--especially skilled in making car bombs--remain with him in Sudan. The Iraqi intelligence chief instructed Salim to remain in Sudan with bin Laden as long as required.
The analysis of those events follows:
The time of the visit from the IIS director was a few weeks after the Khobar Towers bombing. The bombing came on the third anniversary of a U.S. [Tomahawk missile] strike on IIS HQ (retaliation for the attempted assassination of former President Bush in Kuwait) for which Iraqi officials explicitly threatened retaliation.
IN ADDITION TO THE CONTACTS CLUSTERED in the mid-1990s, intelligence reports detail a flurry of activities in early 1998 and again in December 1998. A "former senior Iraqi intelligence officer" reported that "the Iraqi intelligence service station in Pakistan was Baghdad's point of contact with al Qaeda. He also said bin Laden visited Baghdad in Jan. 1998 and met with Tariq Aziz."
11. According to sensitive reporting, Saddam personally sent Faruq Hijazi, IIS deputy director and later Iraqi ambassador to Turkey, to meet with bin Laden at least twice, first in Sudan and later in Afghanistan in 1999. . . .
14. According to a sensitive reporting [from] a "regular and reliable source," [Ayman al] Zawahiri, a senior al Qaeda operative, visited Baghdad and met with the Iraqi Vice President on 3 February 1998. The goal of the visit was to arrange for coordination between Iraq and bin Laden and establish camps in an-Nasiriyah and Iraqi Kurdistan under the leadership of Abdul Aziz.
That visit came as the Iraqis intensified their defiance of the U.N. inspection regime, known as UNSCOM, created by the cease-fire agreement following the Gulf War. UNSCOM demanded access to Saddam's presidential palaces that he refused to provide. As the tensions mounted, President Bill Clinton went to the Pentagon on February 18, 1998, and prepared the nation for war. He warned of "an unholy axis of terrorists, drug traffickers, and organized international criminals" and said "there is no more clear example of this threat than Saddam Hussein."
The day after this speech, according to documents unearthed in April 2003 in the Iraqi Intelligence headquarters by journalists Mitch Potter and Inigo Gilmore, Hussein's intelligence service wrote a memo detailing coming meetings with a bin Laden representative traveling to Baghdad. Each reference to bin Laden had been covered by liquid paper that, when revealed, exposed a plan to increase cooperation between Iraq and al Qaeda. According to that memo, the IIS agreed to pay for "all the travel and hotel costs inside Iraq to gain the knowledge of the message from bin Laden and to convey to his envoy an oral message from us to bin Laden." The document set as the goal for the meeting a discussion of "the future of our relationship with him, bin Laden, and to achieve a direct meeting with him." The al Qaeda representative, the document went on to suggest, might provide "a way to maintain contacts with bin Laden."
Four days later, on February 23, 1998, bin Laden issued his now-famous fatwa on the plight of Iraq, published in the Arabic-language daily, al Quds al-Arabi: "For over seven years the United States has been occupying the lands of Islam in the holiest of places, the Arabian Peninsula, plundering its riches, dictating to its rulers, humiliating its people, terrorizing its neighbors, and turning its bases in the Peninsula into a spearhead through which to fight the neighboring Muslim peoples." Bin Laden urged his followers to act: "The ruling to kill all Americans and their allies--civilians and military--is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it."
Although war was temporarily averted by a last-minute deal brokered by U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, tensions soon rose again. The standoff with Iraq came to a head in December 1998, when President Clinton launched Operation Desert Fox, a 70-hour bombing campaign that began on December 16 and ended three days later, on December 19, 1998.
According to press reports at the time, Faruq Hijazi, deputy director of Iraqi Intelligence, met with bin Laden in Afghanistan on December 21, 1998, to offer bin Laden safe haven in Iraq. CIA reporting in the memo to the Senate Intelligence Committee seems to confirm this meeting and relates two others.
15. A foreign government service reported that an Iraqi delegation, including at least two Iraqi intelligence officers formerly assigned to the Iraqi Embassy in Pakistan, met in late 1998 with bin Laden in Afghanistan.
16. According to CIA reporting, bin Laden and Zawahiri met with two Iraqi intelligence officers in Afghanistan in Dec. 1998.
17. . . . Iraq sent an intelligence officer to Afghanistan to seek closer ties to bin Laden and the Taliban in late 1998. The source reported that the Iraqi regime was trying to broaden its cooperation with al Qaeda. Iraq was looking to recruit Muslim "elements" to sabotage U.S. and U.K. interests. After a senior Iraqi intelligence officer met with Taliban leader [Mullah] Omar, arrangements were made for a series of meetings between the Iraqi intelligence officer and bin Laden in Pakistan. The source noted Faruq Hijazi was in Afghanistan in late 1998.
18. . . . Faruq Hijazi went to Afghanistan in 1999 along with several other Iraqi officials to meet with bin Laden. The source claimed that Hijazi would have met bin Laden only at Saddam's explicit direction.
An analysis that follows No. 18 provides additional context and an explanation of these reports:
Reporting entries #4, #11, #15, #16, #17, and #18, from different sources, corroborate each other and provide confirmation of meetings between al Qaeda operatives and Iraqi intelligence in Afghanistan and Pakistan. None of the reports have information on operational details or the purpose of such meetings. The covert nature of the relationship would indicate strict compartmentation [sic] of operations.
Information about connections between al Qaeda and Iraq was so widespread by early 1999 that it made its way into the mainstream press. A January 11, 1999, Newsweek story ran under this headline: "Saddam + Bin Laden?" The story cited an "Arab intelligence source" with knowledge of contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda. "According to this source, Saddam expected last month's American and British bombing campaign to go on much longer than it did. The dictator believed that as the attacks continued, indignation would grow in the Muslim world, making his terrorism offensive both harder to trace and more effective. With acts of terror contributing to chaos in the region, Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait might feel less inclined to support Washington. Saddam's long-term strategy, according to several sources, is to bully or cajole Muslim countries into breaking the embargo against Iraq, without waiting for the United Nations to lift if formally."
INTELLIGENCE REPORTS about the nature of the relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda from mid-1999 through 2003 are conflicting. One senior Iraqi intelligence officer in U.S. custody, Khalil Ibrahim Abdallah, "said that the last contact between the IIS and al Qaeda was in July 1999. Bin Laden wanted to meet with Saddam, he said. The guidance sent back from Saddam's office reportedly ordered Iraqi intelligence to refrain from any further contact with bin Laden and al Qaeda. The source opined that Saddam wanted to distance himself from al Qaeda."
The bulk of reporting on the relationship contradicts this claim. One report states that "in late 1999" al Qaeda set up a training camp in northern Iraq that "was operational as of 1999." Other reports suggest that the Iraqi regime contemplated several offers of safe haven to bin Laden throughout 1999.
23. . . . Iraqi officials were carefully considering offering safe haven to bin Laden and his closest collaborators in Nov. 1999. The source indicated the idea was put forward by the presumed head of Iraqi intelligence in Islamabad (Khalid Janaby) who in turn was in frequent contact and had good relations with bin Laden.
Some of the most intriguing intelligence concerns an Iraqi named Ahmed Hikmat Shakir:
24. According to sensitive reporting, a Malaysia-based Iraqi national (Shakir) facilitated the arrival of one of the Sept 11 hijackers for an operational meeting in Kuala Lumpur (Jan 2000). Sensitive reporting indicates Shakir's travel and contacts link him to a worldwide network of terrorists, including al Qaeda. Shakir worked at the Kuala Lumpur airport--a job he claimed to have obtained through an Iraqi embassy employee.
One of the men at that al Qaeda operational meeting in the Kuala Lumpur Hotel was Tawfiz al Atash, a top bin Laden lieutenant later identified as the mastermind of the October 12, 2000, attack on the USS Cole.
25. Investigation into the bombing of the USS Cole in October 2000 by al Qaeda revealed no specific Iraqi connections but according to the CIA, "fragmentary evidence points to possible Iraqi involvement."
26. During a custodial interview, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi [a senior al Qaeda operative] said he was told by an al Qaeda associate that he was tasked to travel to Iraq (1998) to establish a relationship with Iraqi intelligence to obtain poisons and gases training. After the USS Cole bombing in 2000, two al Qaeda operatives were sent to Iraq for CBW-related [Chemical and Biological Weapons] training beginning in Dec 2000. Iraqi intelligence was "encouraged" after the embassy and USS Cole bombings to provide this training.
The analysis of this report follows.
CIA maintains that Ibn al-Shaykh's timeline is consistent with other sensitive reporting indicating that bin Laden asked Iraq in 1998 for advanced weapons, including CBW and "poisons."
Additional reporting also calls into question the claim that relations between Iraq and al Qaeda cooled after mid-1999:
27. According to sensitive CIA reporting, . . . the Saudi National Guard went on a kingdom-wide state of alert in late Dec 2000 after learning Saddam agreed to assist al Qaeda in attacking U.S./U.K. interests in Saudi Arabia.
And then there is the alleged contact between lead 9/11 hijacker Mohamed Atta and an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague. The reporting on those links suggests not one meeting, but as many as four. What's more, the memo reveals potential financing of Atta's activities by Iraqi intelligence.
The Czech counterintelligence service reported that the Sept. 11 hijacker [Mohamed] Atta met with the former Iraqi intelligence chief in Prague, [Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir] al Ani, on several occasions. During one of these meetings, al Ani ordered the IIS finance officer to issue Atta funds from IIS financial holdings in the Prague office.
And the commentary:
CIA can confirm two Atta visits to Prague--in Dec. 1994 and in June 2000; data surrounding the other two--on 26 Oct 1999 and 9 April 2001--is complicated and sometimes contradictory and CIA and FBI cannot confirm Atta met with the IIS. Czech Interior Minister Stanislav Gross continues to stand by his information.
It's not just Gross who stands by the information. Five high-ranking members of the Czech government have publicly confirmed meetings between Atta and al Ani. The meeting that has gotten the most press attention--April 9, 2001--is also the most widely disputed. Even some of the most hawkish Bush administration officials are privately skeptical that Atta met al Ani on that occasion. They believe that reports of the alleged meeting, said to have taken place in public, outside the headquarters of the U.S.-financed Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, suggest a level of sloppiness that doesn't fit the pattern of previous high-level Iraq-al Qaeda contacts.
Whether or not that specific meeting occurred, the report by Czech counterintelligence that al Ani ordered the Iraqi Intelligence Service officer to provide IIS funds to Atta might help explain the lead hijacker's determination to reach Prague, despite significant obstacles, in the spring of
2000. (Note that the report stops short of confirming that the funds were transferred. It claims only that the IIS officer requested the transfer.) Recall that Atta flew to Prague from Germany on May 30, 2000, but was denied entry because he did not have a valid visa. Rather than simply return to Germany and fly directly to the United States, his ultimate destination, Atta took pains to get to Prague. After he was refused entry the first time, he traveled back to Germany, obtained the proper paperwork, and caught a bus back to Prague. He left for the United States the day after arriving in Prague for the second time.
Several reports indicate that the relationship between Saddam and bin Laden continued, even after the September 11 attacks:
31. An Oct. 2002 . . . report said al Qaeda and Iraq reached a secret agreement whereby Iraq would provide safe haven to al Qaeda members and provide them with money and weapons. The agreement reportedly prompted a large number of al Qaeda members to head to Iraq. The report also said that al Qaeda members involved in a fraudulent passport network for al Qaeda had been directed to procure 90 Iraqi and Syrian passports for al Qaeda personnel.
The analysis that accompanies that report indicates that the report fits the pattern of Iraq-al Qaeda collaboration:
References to procurement of false passports from Iraq and offers of safe haven previously have surfaced in CIA source reporting considered reliable. Intelligence reports to date have maintained that Iraqi support for al Qaeda usually involved providing training, obtaining passports, and offers of refuge. This report adds to that list by including weapons and money. This assistance would make sense in the aftermath of 9-11.
Colin Powell, in his February 5, 2003, presentation to the U.N. Security Council, revealed the activities of Abu Musab al Zarqawi. Reporting in the memo expands on Powell's case and might help explain some of the resistance the U.S. military is currently facing in Iraq.
37. Sensitive reporting indicates senior terrorist planner and close al Qaeda associate al Zarqawi has had an operational alliance with Iraqi officials. As of Oct. 2002, al Zarqawi maintained contacts with the IIS to procure weapons and explosives, including surface-to-air missiles from an IIS officer in Baghdad. According to sensitive reporting, al Zarqawi was setting up sleeper cells in Baghdad to be activated in case of a U.S. occupation of the city, suggesting his operational cooperation with the Iraqis may have deepened in recent months. Such cooperation could include IIS provision of a secure operating bases [sic] and steady access to arms and explosives in preparation for a possible U.S. invasion. Al Zarqawi's procurements from the Iraqis also could support al Qaeda operations against the U.S. or its allies elsewhere.
38. According to sensitive reporting, a contact with good access who does not have an established reporting record: An Iraqi intelligence service officer said that as of mid-March the IIS was providing weapons to al Qaeda members located in northern Iraq, including rocket propelled grenade (RPG)-18 launchers. According to IIS information, northern Iraq-based al Qaeda members believed that the U.S. intended to strike al Qaeda targets during an anticipated assault against Ansar al-Islam positions.
The memo further reported pre-war intelligence which "claimed that an Iraqi intelligence official, praising Ansar al-Islam, provided it with $100,000 and agreed to continue to give assistance."
CRITICS OF THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION have complained that Iraq-al Qaeda connections are a fantasy, trumped up by the warmongers at the White House to fit their preconceived notions about international terror; that links between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden have been routinely "exaggerated" for political purposes; that hawks "cherry-picked" bits of intelligence and tendentiously presented these to the American public.
Carl Levin, a senior member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, made those points as recently as November 9, in an appearance on "Fox News Sunday." Republicans on the committee, he complained, refuse to look at the administration's "exaggeration of intelligence."
Said Levin: "The question is whether or not they exaggerated intelligence in order to carry out their purpose, which was to make the case for going to war. Did we know, for instance, with certainty that there was any relationship between the Iraqis and the terrorists that were in Afghanistan, bin Laden? The administration said that there's a connection between those terrorist groups in Afghanistan and Iraq. Was there a basis for that?"
There was, as shown in the memo to the committee on which Levin serves. And much of the reporting comes from Clinton-era intelligence. Not that you would know this from Al Gore's recent public statements. Indeed, the former vice president claims to be privy to new "evidence" that the administration lied. In an August speech at New York University, Gore claimed: "The evidence now shows clearly that Saddam did not want to work with Osama bin Laden at all, much less give him weapons of mass destruction." Really?
One of the most interesting things to note about the 16-page memo is that it covers only a fraction of the evidence that will eventually be available to document the relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda. For one thing, both Saddam and bin Laden were desperate to keep their cooperation secret. (Remember, Iraqi intelligence used liquid paper on an internal intelligence document to conceal bin Laden's name.) For another, few people in the U.S. government are expressly looking for such links. There is no Iraq-al Qaeda equivalent of the CIA's 1,400-person Iraq Survey Group currently searching Iraq for weapons of mass destruction.
Instead, CIA and FBI officials are methodically reviewing Iraqi intelligence files that survived the three-week war last spring. These documents would cover several miles if laid end-to-end. And they are in Arabic. They include not only connections between bin Laden and Saddam, but also revolting details of the regime's long history of brutality. It will be a slow process.
So Feith's memo to the Senate Intelligence Committee is best viewed as sort of a "Cliff's Notes" version of the relationship. It contains the highlights, but it is far from exhaustive.
One example. The memo contains only one paragraph on Ahmed Hikmat Shakir, the Iraqi facilitator who escorted two September 11 hijackers through customs in Kuala Lumpur. U.S. intelligence agencies have extensive reporting on his activities before and after the September 11 hijacking. That they would include only this brief overview suggests the 16-page memo, extensive as it is, just skims the surface of the reporting on Iraq-al Qaeda connections.
Other intelligence reports indicate that Shakir whisked not one but two September 11 hijackers--Khalid al Midhar and Nawaq al Hamzi--through the passport and customs process upon their arrival in Kuala Lumpur on January 5, 2000. Shakir then traveled with the hijackers to the Kuala Lumpur Hotel where they met with Ramzi bin al Shibh, one of the masterminds of the September 11 plot. The meeting lasted three days. Shakir returned to work on January 9 and January 10, and never again.
Shakir got his airport job through a contact at the Iraqi Embassy. (Iraq routinely used its embassies as staging grounds for its intelligence operations; in some cases, more than half of the alleged "diplomats" were intelligence operatives.) The Iraqi embassy, not his employer, controlled Shakir's schedule. He was detained in Qatar on September 17, 2001. Authorities found in his possession contact information for terrorists involved in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, the 1998 embassy bombings, the 2000 attack on the USS Cole, and the September 11 hijackings. The CIA had previous reporting that Shakir had received a phone call from the safe house where the 1993 World Trade Center attacks had been plotted.
The Qataris released Shakir shortly after his arrest. On October 21, 2001, he flew to Amman, Jordan, where he was to change planes to a flight to Baghdad. He didn't make that flight. Shakir was detained in Jordan for three months, where the CIA interrogated him. His interrogators concluded that Shakir had received extensive training in counter-interrogation techniques. Not long after he was detained, according to an official familiar with the intelligence, the Iraqi regime began to "pressure" Jordanian intelligence to release him. At the same time, Amnesty International complained that Shakir was being held without charge. The Jordanians released him on January 28, 2002, at which point he is believed to have fled back to Iraq.
Was Shakir an Iraqi agent? Does he provide a connection between Saddam Hussein and September 11? We don't know. We may someday find out.
But there can no longer be any serious argument about whether Saddam Hussein's Iraq worked with Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda to plot against Americans.
Stephen F. Hayes is a staff writer at The Weekly Standard.
Bill Heuisler - 11/20/2003
Last first. This war is much more a geopolitic success than a military one. Consider. Generals without political concerns would not have let all those cars flee Mosul, Basra and Baghdad due to concerns about killing civilians. (The March Up by West & Smith - Bantam 2003 - great book). The Baathist infrastructure that escaped due to geopolitical concerns are killing soldiers every day. This too will pass, but the answer is, absolutely. Al Quaida has become isolated. Terrorists fear strength. Iraq was either first or second in the funding of terrorism in other countries; Iraq was definitely connected to 9/11 (see my other posting, read yesterday's Slate column by Epstein and watch the coverage of those memos we talked about).
We have crushed two tyrannies, are prepared to add Syria to the list and Iran's tyranny has become less stable - more pliable.
1)President Bush's quotes before the war (and President Clinton's and Hillary's and Rockefeller's and Kerry's etc.) are proving true as we sit here and argue. He said imminent. He said we must prevent the full weaponization of WMD. Nothing he said has proven untrue. Name an untruth.
2) Has the US been hit since?
3) Yes. We have captured over two hundred members of terrorist organizations and some seventy Baathist generals, police, security and intelligence personnel and many tons of records.
I'm going to cut to the main point:
You wrote, "we have found no WMD in Iraq." That is false and you know it's false because you have obviously been following the news accounts. We have found VX and Anthrax residue, not only in shell casings and in laboratories, but in the Tigris river in such percentages that for a week after the fall of Baghdad the water tested positive. Also the records and personnel we've captured show and tell of comprehensive WMD programs in place. I find your absolute certainty "no WMD in Iraq" to be comical - like beginning a trial with a verdict. There are hundreds of chemical munitions in a warehouse the Brits captured near Basrah that the militia hadn't had time to bury. More all the time.
Like I asked before, where do you get your information? What person in a position to know has stated catagorically there are no WMD in Iraq? See what I mean? You're quoting people with nothing but an agenda.
dan - 11/20/2003
Bush never made any kind of statement decrying the bombing of a restaurant in a residential neighborhood of Baghdad...
Can you say "hypocrite?"
I knew you could!
Cram - 11/20/2003
I don’t think we are any closer to an agreement, but I would like to give you my interpretation of events:
1) “Why would such a well-informed, highly placed Senator misinform the public in the first place?”
Try to remember the political climate of the time. Both he, John Kerry, and many others supported this war completely and endorsed almost everything Bush said, even though they did not analyze the evidence. How do I know they did not? Because now, in the post-war debate, those same people are saying that the evidence did not support their prior statements. Either they are lying, or they did not really look at the evidence before.
2) “When the evidence doesn't support your thesis you cannot simply pass it off as flawed through bad motives.”
The evidence is that we have found no WMD in Iraq and the intelligence suggests only probability, not certainty. The thesis is thus that those who said otherwise were incorrect. I attribute that to opportunism. Other attribute it to some massive conspiracy (I do not subscribe to that) and other simply continue to cite quotes by men who now say the exact opposite.
3) “Why are Bush-haters so capricious in their analyses of evidence?”
If you look back at my posts for the Bush/Nazi connection, I dismiss it as irrelevant for the current President, as I think whatever his grandfather did or did not do should not be connected to President Bush. As for an analysis of the evidence, I simply am more familiar with the Iraq war then I am with a connection to Nazis of Bush’s grandfather.
4) “Ask yourself whether - had you been POTUS and privy to all the information - you might have also invaded Iraq to fulfill your oath of office.”
Your point is valid. There may have been a link between Iraq and Al-Quida. However, the evidence for such a link is, at best, circumstantial, and the President himself came out and said there was NO evidence of a link between Iraq and 9/11. What else is one to make of such a claim?
As I have said in the past, I saw absolutely no evidence that Iraq was a threat to the United States in any way and in any event, I certainly didn’t believe that war was the only way of addressing our concerns. Bin Laden is a threat Bush has ignored… Iran and N. Korea are threats. Iraq was not a threat. Thus if I were POTUS, I would have focused my attention on protecting my country, not on trying to “sell” a war with Iraq by playing into our post-9/11 fears.
5) “Why did President Bush say there was no direct connection to Hussein? I don't know, but when I read Bush-haters using his own words to indict him I surmise there's much more than meets the eye, not much less.”
Bill, I freely admit that there are many people in this country that want Bush to look foolish and want us to fail in Iraq. They accuse Bush of being a Nazi, and so forth. Nevertheless, their ulterior motives does not erase the facts.
In other words, if Hitler had said that the world was round, his motivation would not make him wrong on that fact. Similarly, when liberals complain that there was no 9/11 link, they are telling the truth, from Bush’s own admission. Question the facts, not the people presenting them. I do not dismiss Bush’s war because I don’t like him (although, in fairness, I don’t). I dismiss the war because the reasons I was told we were going in has turned out to be false.
The real question is this: If President Bush knew that so many people believed Iraq was connected to 9/11 and were supporting the war for (at least in part) that reason, why didn’t he rectify the misunderstanding before plunging this nation into war? Does misleading comments and a failure to correct the misinterpretation constitute as lying? I leave that to your opinion.
I would also ask you to consider the following:
1) Read over Bush’s quotes before we went to war? Have they proven accurate?
2) Has going to war against Iraq made America any safer from terrorism?
3) Has going to war against Iraq in any way helped us to dismantle any terrorist organizations?
After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese admiral discovered that the attack had come before the declaration of war, and commented to his men: “I fear all we have done is awaken a sleeping giant, and filled it with rage.” I ask you Bill, NOT in terms of militarily, but in terms of geopolitical strategy, was this war a success?
Bill Heuisler - 11/20/2003
The Vice Chair of Senate Intelligence made his statements prior to the question of Hussein/9-11 connection became high profile.
Calling the statement, "political opportunism" does not address its truth or falsehood. Why would such a well-informed, highly placed Senator misinform the public in the first place? His politically opportunistic move would've been silence.
When the evidence doesn't support your thesis you cannot simply pass it off as flawed through bad motives. Consider a moment: another HNN article about Prescott Bush this week takes less evidence much farther in inconsistent directions than evidence for Iraqi WMD and for a Hussein/9-11 connection. Why are Bush-haters so capricious in their analyses of evidence?
On that subject, the Hussein/9-11 connection has moved from speculation. Please look up the Epstein article in Slate 11/19 (yesterday). After reading the article, ask yourself whether or not there is an agenda in denial of Iraq culpability. Ask yourself whether - had you been POTUS and privy to all the information - you might have also invaded Iraq to fulfil your oath of office.
Why did President Bush say there was no direct connection to Hussein? I don't know, but when I read Bush-haters using his own words to indict him I surmise there's much more than meets the eye, not much less. Are we any closer to agreement?
Cram - 11/20/2003
That is much clearler, thank you. And to be honest, I have no disagreement at all with what you have said. I think that the hardliners in both countries are now in control of the government and pursuing a similar agenda. Just as Reagan and Thacher, and Clinton and Blair, Bush and Sharon have similar goals and ideas and it creates a natural alliance.
My hope is for the people of Israel and the people of America to come together in rejecting such hardline philosophies. We shall have to wait and see.
Doug Eberle - 11/20/2003
I think you're making one of my original points. Regardless of what the Iraqis want we won't allow certain things, like the breakup of the Iraqi state along whatever lines may suit them.
Whether the Sunni center of Iraq is viable may not be of interest of concern to the Kurds of Shia, since they just spent decades being dominated and persecuted by the Sunnis. Civil war was preferable to the Croatians and Bosnians rather than remain in a state dominated by the Serbs.
But the breakup of Iraq, again an artificially created state with borders drawn by British bureaucrats, is a problem for the US because our ally Turkey doesn't want an independent Kurdistan, and an independent Shia dominated state may lean toward Iran.
Interference like that from the US reduces the perception of legitimacy of an Iraqi democratic government.
And... strictly speaking, even if it's a thousand years later it's still post WWI.
Gus Moner - 11/20/2003
Thanks for the stab at clarification.
No, I did not mention one working for the other. I said working in one and then the other; it’s obviously a symbiotic relationship. I think that putting the same people in power in both places creates a sort of unholy oneness, so that the policies are the same in both places creating an alignment of interests and objectives.
So, there we are. Is that clearer now?
Gus Moner - 11/20/2003
Of course, I expected you to disagree, but it was worth the effort. No, it’s not guilt by association; rather it is guilt by deeds. If you cannot see an Israeli document with signatories calling for dismembering Iraq through military force and then those signatories travelling across the ocean joining the US government and implementing those theories here… well, as they say, you can only lead a horse to water, you can’t make ‘em drink.
A conspiracy needs a plot, the end seems to be whatever they declare it to be as long as they are in charge and get their world as they want it. .
No, Palestinians cannot and will not accept peace. They want war, death and no homeland. You are right there, as usual. So, if the US fails to provide for 43 million citizens medical care, are we a failed state? If tens of millions live under the poverty line while a few million ‘share’ 45% of the wealth, are we a failed state?
The majority of Iraqis desire what? How in blazes do you or anyone else know what the Iraqi people want? Who has ever consulted the Iraqi people about anything? Did they ask to be invaded and occupied? Neither Bush nor the Ba’athists have ever consulted the Iraqis, they have both just used the barrel of a gun to impose their vision of Iraq on Iraq.
Yes, the goal is energy self sufficiency, through hydrogen, not through more oil. Problem is, the Bush team wants coal and gas based hydrogen, equally polluting and coincidentally, subsidising their pals in the energy business with lots of research grants.
About the “political instability messing up economic conditions”, just who is exacerbating this instability, trundling US and Israeli armour or a few fanatical Muslims? Just the latter, of cours
Cram - 11/20/2003
How did American revolutionaries impose democracy on anyone... remember, the Constitution had to be ratified (i.e. voted on) by the States in order for it to take effect. Furthermore, democracy had already existed in the States before anyone could "impose it on them."
C.R.W. - 11/20/2003
Do you honestly think that the Sunni triangle is significant enough to develop without a lot of dependence from the other regions? Who gets ethnically heterogeneous Baghdad? I think it would cause a lot of contention with the Kurds who would vociferously claim the oil wells and major cities (Mosul, Kirkuk) that lie between these 2 groups/regions.
This is not post-WWI, it's almost 90 years later. Separate political futures down the line are debatable, but they're definitely not in the cards right now.
Cram - 11/20/2003
I really have no interest in having to defend (yet again) the reality that America is not the puppet of the all-powerful Israeli empire.
You mention all the time how these people work for 2 governments: Israel and the United States. If what you are suggesting is that the people you mentioned in government are simply right-wing hawks who have an agenda in the Middle East and therefore find it conducive to plan with their counterparts in Israel, then there is no disagreement. IF on the other hand, you are implying some massive conspiracy whereby America does Israel’s bidding, then I wholeheartedly disagree. So there we are.
As an aside, I find the following useful, just to put things in perspective:
"Several polls have found that Jews are less likely than the public at large to support military action against Iraq. An aggregate of surveys conducted by the Pew Research Center from August 2002 to February 2003 found 52 percent of Jews in favor of military action, 32 percent opposed and 16 percent uncertain; among all Americans, the polling found 62 percent in favor, 28 percent opposed and 10 percent uncertain." -NY Times, 03/18/2003.
Cram - 11/20/2003
First of all, I appreciate your posting the comments of Senator Rockafeller and believe that they are certainly germane to this debate. Let me also take this opportunity to say that as I consider myself an interventionist, I supported intervention in Kosovo, and furious at the lack of intervention in Rwanda, and would have gladly followed President Bush into Iraq as a humanitarian operation to depose a Stalinist monster. But that is not why the American people supported this war, which I respectfully oppose.
Frankly, I believe that the Senator is simply an political opportunist, like many of the Democrats who, on the heels of public opinion polls and (strategically) only a few short weeks before the November elections, chose to support a war they would latter vehemently oppose. "The American people deserve a full accounting of why we sent our sons and daughters into war," the same Senator recently said, as he now sees the wind of public opinion blowing in another direction and has thus changed sail yet again (did I hear someone say John Kerry?).
How about this: "Democratic Senator John Rockefeller told The Washington Post he intended to investigate whether Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other administration officials exaggerated the threat from Iraq." He doesn’t sound so sure of himself now.
The fact of the matter was that many people supported the war because:
1) Bush said that Iraq posed an immediate danger to the United States with chemical and biological weapons,
2) Iraq was involved in 9/11 and is thus a part of our war on terrorism, and
3) The American people, in a time of great uncertainty and fear, simply trusted their Commander in Chief to make the right decisions based on intelligence we did not have access to.
In the aftermath of this war, it seems that all 3 assumptions were incorrect.
"The intelligence committee chairman, the Republican Pat Roberts, has told journalists that some of the public information given by the CIA and other government departments was not supported by evidence."
"Mr Roberts said pre-war intelligence had been sloppy and inconclusive."
"It seems as if the CIA will bear the brunt of the committee's wrath for providing intelligence assessments which were based on shaky evidence and allowing claims to be made in public which were not backed up by secret documentation."
At this point, Congressmen of both parties are demanding answers to why the intelligence does not match the pre-war rhetoric of the President. While the outdated intelligence speculated the possibility that Hussein was developing WMD, Bush’s language made it seem as if there was no doubt. In my opinion, the President either lied or was lied to in order to sell the idea of war to a population still stinging from 9/11.
As this message is getting a bit long, I leave you with 2 observations:
1) Everything I have read indicates that the hunt for bin Laden has been severely hampered by the Iraqi war, as desperately needed troops, translators, and supplies were re-directed, and
2) Even if all of the above information was incorrect, there was no reason to believe that inspections would not have worked. I know that inspections have been seen by many as being "appeasement," or a cowards way out, but they worked in the past, and at the very least, why not wait until they failed to strengthen our argument?
I am happy for the Iraqi people that they have finally been freed from a tyrant. Nevertheless, we live in a democracy, and in a democracy (at least in theory) a President who lies in order to engage the country into war must be held accountable, EVEN if that war proves to be successful, which remains to be seen.
(Sources of above quotes come from the following:
Doug Eberle - 11/20/2003
That all sounds very nice, but other artificial states created out of the aftermath WWI have not all chosen to remain as one state (Czekoslovakia, and Yugoslavia for example) once the political systems there opened up and allowed more expression of the popular will. There is really no reason why they should
The Kurds and the Shia would probably be happy to no longer share a state with the Sunnis in Iraq, but both types of independent states would be problems for the US for differnet reasons, so we won't allow it to happen.
C.R.W. - 11/20/2003
Nice job with the guilt by association thing. And at the end of the day, I still fail to see what's the point. Who's guilty of what? A conspiracy needs an end, and if you want to accuse the Israelis (or Likud/IASPS) of aspiring to "finalising the conquest of Palestine," these documents don't seem to prove that.
The document does, however, have merit in pointing out that peace cannot be imposed unilaterally, or under conditions in which only one side is expected to live up to its obligations under a bilateral accord. It also points out that a regime that fails to provide for its own people is not likely to be stable enough to be a reliable partner in any bilateral non war-related initiative. What do you have against any of those ideas? You've asserted on other posts that democracy cannot be "imposed" (even when the majority of Iraqis desire it), did something make you assume that peace could be imposed, when Yasir Arafat was never interested in it?
As far as getting out of dependence upon Middle East oil goes, believe you me, my friend, MANY Americans believe that goal to be in their country's OWN self-interest, Israel or no Israel. It has to do with this little thing called political instability messing up economic conditions - maybe you heard of it?...
Gus Moner - 11/20/2003
You said in another post regarding the Likud’s involvement in US policy that you “honestly have no idea what you are talking about. What did the Likud Party in Israel have to do with the decision to go to war with Iraq, especially given the fact that the architects of the war (Cheney, Wolfowitz, Libby) wanted to go into Iraq long before the Likud party ever came to power.”
If I may take a few minutes of your time, I’ll try to shed a bit of light on that. In fact the mentioned men and many others were also out of power. They were using the AEI http://www.aei.org/ IASPS, http://www.iasps.org.il/ AIPAC, http://www.aipac.org/ JINSA http://www.jinsa.org/home/home.html and other think tanks to develop coordinated policies for the day when they would be in power again.
As an example, the third in charge at DOD as of this writing, Douglas Feith, huddled with Israelis and developed an Israeli strategy for dismembering socialist policies and liberalising the economy coupled with a muscular, aggressive foreign policy through which to recreate the Third Kingdom titled A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm. This document is at http://www.israeleconomy.org/strat1.htm . Suffice it to say for now they contemplated developing the current Iraqi situation and also sorting out Iran, Syria and Lebanon etc. while finalising the conquest of Palestine.
Men like him worked elsewhere, developing like policies to implement in the USA and implicate the nation in this undertaking. These include a letter to Clinton asking for Saddam’s removal. Some 13 of the 18 signatories are now in the US power structure dealing with foreign policy and military matters. There is the PNAC project to project US power and stay in control of the world, http://www.newamericancentury.org/ never allowing any competitors to even loom on the horizon. Coupled, all these apparently disparate organisations were in fact developing a plan for coordinating actions in seizing control of regions, changing governments and remaking the world according to their doctrines.
It now turns out that through the hand of fate the Likud and Republicans have coincided in office and they are implementing the myriad blueprints for their politically expansionist and economic domination policies in a coordinated manner. Israel is trying hard to secure the US support by covering all the US’ weak points, strategically speaking. As an example it is also behind the project to develop West African oil (AOPIG) (see at http://www.israeleconomy.org/strategic/africawhitepaper.pdf) so the US is less dependent on Middle East oil and can make further forays into the Eurasian and N African region where Israel’s perceived enemies are without seriously being crippled by petroleum availability problems. This would allow the US a free hand without threatening its oil dependent economy. Dick Cheney wrote a preamble for the project in May, 2001. It was updated for post 9/11 scenarios and rolled out in July 2002.
Well, there’s a short history of the Likud connection. It is often summarised by that name, but it is in fact a much broader and planned set of strategic moves by men working for two governments sequentially as well as simultaneously, in a symbiotic relationship, along with whatever “Coalition of the Willing” they can cobble together for each democracy and freedom ‘project’ under whatever guise can be used.
Bill Heuisler - 11/20/2003
Please read my "A knowledgable view" above and tell me what you think. Much obliged for your time.
Cram - 11/20/2003
The war was NOT about oil. If we wanted oil, we chose the most inefficiant ways of obtaining it. Want cheap oil? No need to spend billions in a war and occupation... just end the sanctions against Iraq and we could have purchased all the oil we wanted at a much better price than the hundreds of billions we have spend on invasion.
The war was also not about Israel and it was not about building some empire. Bush is not Hitler and America is not Nazi Germany.
I am rather disheartened when I hear my fellow liberals resort to such follish and baseless allegations. There are enough reasons to oppose this war without having to resort to made up lies about Bush and his so-called "agenda."
As far as I am concerned, I am satisfied with the argument that Bush and co. really honestly thought Iraq had WMD, and then manipulated the evidence to convince others. The fact that we have found NO WMD, nor any evidence that Iraq was involved in 9/11, combined with the pre-war intelligence that was never as certain as Bush presented it, is enough for me to oppose the war.
Cram - 11/19/2003
While I am against the war in Iraq, I always feel the need to respond to the commonly held view of the left that somehow and in some crazy way, it all goes back to Israel.
1) You say that Bush “took our nation to war using the failed, hell hath no fury, old testament policies of Sharon.”
If you believe in the Old Testament, then the culprit is God, not man, and if you don’t believe in the Old Testament, then none of it happened anyway so arguing it is moot. Furthermore, there is a huge difference between Bush and Iraq and Sharon and the Palestinians. Iraq never attacked the United States, nor is there any evidence to suggest that it was going to.
2) “why all the connection to the Likud party?”
I honestly have no idea what you are talking about. What did the Likud Party in Israel have to do with the decision to go to war with Iraq, especially given the fact that the architects of the war (Cheney, Wolfowitz, Libby) wanted to go into Iraq long before the Likud party ever came to power.
3) “Pretend that Bush is an innovator in Arab-Israeli conflict? He did bark a little a couple of times, then Sharon patted him on the head and told him to shush.”
Israel is a client state of the United States, not the other way around. I can assure you, Sharon had no influence on Bush, and it is entirely the other way around. The fact that Bush does not do more to stop Sharon has more to do with political ideology than it does Sharon ordering Bush around.
Just Curious - 11/19/2003
"the imposed government fits no one's vision of life and government except that of the US and Israel's"
Don't mean to tread on your anti-U.S., anti-Israel (as if they were a part of the coalition and post-war planning) attitude, but don't you think there's *any* merit to looking at what the post-war Iraqi constitution, electorate, and government has to say before falling back on the conspiracy theory garbage?
BTW, does the first paragraph of your post also apply to post-Nazi Germany or no?
In case you forgot, here's how it read:
"Imposing any government by the barrel of a gun de-legitimises it and dooms it to an eventual repudiation by the 'beneficiaries' of said government."
How about post-WWII Japan?
Do you really believe there's merit to painting such a gloomy picture for post-fascist societies? Are you aware of many examples of fascist governments that end in anything other than war?
Bill Heuisler - 11/19/2003
Your statement, "But the view that Bush had "very little choice" can only be supported by the most negative evaluation of the available evidence..." can be countered by quoting a Democrat Senator whose information is far better than ours.
Sorry about the length, but the statement on the record of the Vice Chair of Senate Intelligence Committee with full security clearance and sharing daily intel briefings has relevance and covers a great deal of the discussion in this stream.
October 2002 Senate debate on Joint Resolution 46:
Senator John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia
Vice Chairman Select Committee on Intelligence
"There is unmistakable evidence that Saddam Hussein is working aggressively to develop nuclear weapons and will likely have nuclear weapons within the next five years. And that may happen sooner if he can obtain access to enriched uranium from foreign sources — something that is not that difficult in the current world. We also should remember we have always underestimated the progress Saddam has made in development of weapons of mass destruction."
"When Saddam Hussein obtains nuclear capabilities, the constraints he feels will diminish dramatically, and the risk to America’s homeland, as well as to America’s allies, will increase even more dramatically. Our existing policies to contain or counter Saddam will become irrelevant. Americans will return to a situation like that we faced in the Cold War, waking each morning knowing we are at risk from nuclear blackmail by a dictatorship that has declared itself to be our enemy. Only, back then, our communist foes were a rational and predictable bureaucracy; this time, our nuclear foe would be an unpredictable and often irrational individual, a dictator who has demonstrated that he is prepared to violate international law and initiate unprovoked attacks when he feels it serves his purposes to do so."
"The global community — in the form of the United Nations — has declared repeatedly, through multiple resolutions, that the frightening prospect of a nuclear-armed Saddam cannot come to pass. But the U.N. has been unable to enforce those resolutions. We must eliminate that threat now, before it is too late. But this isn’t just a future threat. Saddam’s existing biological and chemical weapons capabilities pose a very real threat to America, now. Saddam has used chemical weapons before, both against Iraq’s enemies and against his own people. He is working to develop delivery systems like missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles that could bring these deadly weapons against U.S. forces and U.S. facilities in the Middle East."
"And he could make those weapons available to many terrorist groups which have contact with his government, and those groups could bring those weapons into the U.S. and unleash a devastating attack against our citizens. I fear that greatly."
"We cannot know for certain that Saddam will use the weapons of mass destruction he currently possesses, or that he will use them against us. But we do know Saddam has the capability. Rebuilding that capability has been a higher priority for Saddam than the welfare of his own people — and he has ill-will toward America. I am forced to conclude, on all the evidence, that Saddam poses a significant risk."
In my opinion, there's little left to say.
C.R.W. - 11/19/2003
I think it's important to reiterate that when talking about "democracy" we're actually referring to liberal democracy and not some sham one-man/one-vote/one-time democracy that devolves into theocracy or autocracy. As far as anti-Israel vitriol goes, democratic governments generally have better things to do with their time than pick on each other with hatred, agression, or worse. If you need examples from the Muslim world one need look no further than Turkey. I think it's also no coincidence that the Arab countries with the most friendly economic and cultural ties with Israel are the ones who have experienced more in the way of liberalizing political reforms than any of the others (Jordan, Morocco, and the Gulf States).
As far as a "puppet" or limits on the autonomy of administrative divisions go, the popular will is generally interested in maintaining the territorial integrity of the country as a whole. They are also interested in our making sure that stability is maintained upon the departure of the coalition and understand that constructing a workable constitution is essential for setting a precedent for peaceful successions of power. They recognize that it is the responsibility of the coalition to ensure stability in the post-Saddam era and are willing to allow us to stay as long as possible to facilitate that objective.
Ken Melvin - 11/19/2003
What form this freedom? The right to choose their own type of government, leaders, economic system, parity for the working class, a clean and safe abortion, religion, the right of privacy, strong environmental protection laws, universal access to health care, universal access to education, …? The right to choose invaders?
This cat who swallowed whole the programs of Sharon, Strauss, Wolfowitz, Perle, Feith, et al, doesn’t count dead Afghani or Iraqi and has little or no concern for dead Palestinians, took our nation to war using the failed, hell hath no fury, old testament policies of Sharon, including treatment of prisoners, will wind up shooting and bombing his way out of Iraq after more hundreds of US troops and thousands of Iraqi die. Freedom for Muslims? Unless freedom is now the authoritarianism of the Old Testament, freedom for anyone is hardly his objective. Nor, democracy. This bunch doesn’t want certain groups of people here to vote. Today, in Uzbekistan, he coddles Saddam’s equal.
How dare Pipes again drag out Iraqi threat to the US? The US knew how many tooth picks each Iraqi troop had as well as that they had no air force, no navy and no air defense, else no attack. What was the reason back in 1999? In 2000? And, why all the connection to the Likud party?
Pretend that Bush is an innovator in Arab-Israeli conflict? He did bark a little a couple of times, then Sharon patted him on the head and told him to shush. Innovation must begin at home with Bush. Anything is possible, but, of no great intellect and poorly advised, it is unlikely that Bush will ever step up to the task at hand.
More likely, unless checked, he will create a climate of war in the middle east that lasts for decades. Tolstoy was right. Bush can blow the whistle and think he’s driving the train but he’s really just along for the ride and things will work out as they will. All he is doing is making a mess.
Elia Markell - 11/19/2003
Your game is in the prhase "props up," as in the U.S. props up dicators. In Iraq, of course, the dictator has been propped down. Elsewhere, we do deal with those dictators that remain. You choose to see this as active support, or proping up. I see it as the inevitable realism of the way life works. In any case, let me point out where the REAL inconsistency lies. It lies with the anti-war crowd, so-called. It is they, after all, who pretend to support democracy yet endorse a policy that would return Iraq to the dungeons. Whereas the U.S. was complicit with Saddam in the 1980s, the anti-war movement is complicit with him even now. Now that's inconsistency, not compromise. Indecent inconsistent.
Gus Moner - 11/19/2003
Yes, pipes can be expected to laud Bush, he owes him a lot.
No one has yet to address the inconsistency of propping up a new client state in the Arab world, the bloody military dictaorship in Algeria engaged in a civil war, and his democratic crusade speech.
Bush's stated concern that "Sixty years of Western nations excusing and accommodating the lack of freedom in the Middle East did nothing to make us safe" was menat to signal this would stop. So, one would assume he'd put an end to it, correct? Well....
Almost simultaneously the US DOD and State were anouncing a military and financial aid deal with the satrap government in Algeria, in exchange for a base in the desert.
Bush's real policies are in the actions, not the words he lies with. Simply stop listening to what the man says, respond only to his actions. He wanted peace, but brought us war. Like Orwell, to him war is peace.
He plans to continue the barbarous policy of propping up with aid and military help not most, but ALL the corrupt regimes from Morocco to Pakistan less Syria, Libya and Iran (for now). That is his "radicalism".
Bush the words: (Bush) "stated US policy would henceforth fit with its global emphasis of making democracy the goal".
The policy in action: democracy is the goal, but until I get round to it, I'll add a new dictator to the list of propped up terrorist dictatorships. Great fit. When is henceforth?
David - 11/19/2003
YOU SAID: "If Bush meant what he said, his administration would have been pushing for regime change in Saudi Arabia."
Allow me to turn your point on it's head.
If this war is just about "blood for oil" (as you are clearly implying), then please tell me why Bush hasn't pushed for regime change in Saudi Arabia. After all, there's far more oil under Saudi sand that under Iraq, right? And there's the Saudi terror connection you refer to as well, right? So? Why hasn't Bush "taken the oil"?
Or why didn't we just conquer Kuwait? We already had troops stationed there!!! It's just OIL we're after, right???
Michael Green - 11/19/2003
How nice of Daniel Pipes to take a day off from accusing professors of being communists to praise the man who appointed him to a federal position. It would be even nicer if we could be sure that Bush knew where to find the Middle East on a map.
Gun Barrel - 11/19/2003
I suppose the democracy imposed through a gun barrel by American revolutionaries against King George's ambitions was sure doomed to failure. Gus would have probably told the French they had no business imposing democracy on the colonials.
Jonathan Dresner - 11/19/2003
I don't assume good will on the part of Saddam Hussein; I don't even assume rationality without evidence. But the view that Bush had "very little choice" can only be supported by the most negative evaluation of the available evidence, particularly when only slight modifications of policy might well have produced the same effective result (yes, invasion and occupation) without doing irreperable harm to US diplomacy and image and budget.
There's lots of "might have beens" in this argument, to be sure. But there's a lot of dots and not a lot of connections on all sides of this debate.
As an historian, I do have to admit that the invasion and occupation of Iraq is about the only way we were ever going to get anything like a clear answer to the questions we're asking. However, it looks like a great deal of the documentation necessary has been destroyed, and the occupation is not putting a priority on maintaining or collecting it, so it continues to degrade. They had the chance to create a clear historical record, and blew it.
Gus Moner - 11/19/2003
Bringing democracy to the Muslim world is a chimerical. Imposing any government by the barrel of a gun de-legitimises it and dooms it to an eventual repudiation by the 'beneficiaries' of said government.
Becoming a Judeo Christian Democratic crusader and imposing our vision of proper governance will hardly endear the US to Muslim hearts, Sunni or Shiite, in Iraq or elsewhere.
It is doomed to eventual failure, when depends on how many casualties we're willing to take before declaring victory and leaving. The inevitable, ensuing power vacuum and struggle will turn into civil war as the players realise the imposed government fits no one's vision of life and government except that of the US and Israel's and cannot work.
Doug Eberle - 11/19/2003
That depends on the definition of Democracy. "Democracy" can be considered a shorthand for all the institutions that we have to govern ourselves, which includes constitutional rule of law in addition to elections.
Your point illustrates the problems with an imposed democracy rather than one with internal roots.
The Bush administration is imposing a government in Iraq, not because of an inherent love of democracy in the middle east, but because it is perceived to be in the US's interest to do so. The benefits for the Iraqis are peripheral.
Since we are doing this for our interests it will be very difficult to let it be a "normal" democracy where the popular will of the people determines the direction of the government.
Bush has already said that not only will Iraq be democratic, but undivided, which already puts limits on expression of the popular will that we would tolerate.
I highly doubt that we would allow a democratic Iraqi regime that was virulently anti-Isreal even if that was the popular will.
We create the democracy, so we have some responsibility for how it turns out and must impose constraints to ensure that our interests are served, and that is more like a puppet with a democratic face.
Cram - 11/19/2003
"We will leave Iraq when it is a democracy even if the polls now said that 100% of Iraqis wanted an Islamic theocracy."
But, if the people want a theocracy, and you give them democracy, won't they get a theocracy??
Democracy is simply not consistant with the exclusion of ANY system of government. After all, the German people voted the Nazis into power, and then the Nazis voted Hitler all the power. Was that not democracy?
Bill Heuisler - 11/19/2003
That's Alcatel, France, not Germany.
Doug Eberle - 11/19/2003
Whether the Iraqis desire democracy is really irrelvant. Bush didn't take a poll before going into Iraq. He decided that it is in the US national interest that Iraq be a democracy and an so we are going to make it one.
We will leave Iraq when it is a democracy even if the polls now said that 100% of Iraqis wanted an Islamic theocracy.
That is what I meant by imposing democracy on Iraq.
Bill Heuisler - 11/19/2003
Each of the statements has its twin or near-twin in the public statements of CIA Director, John Deutch, Sec. of State, Madeline Albright, Sec. of Defense, William Cohen, CIA Director, George Tenet, Vice President Al Gore and President Bill Clinton. Go to any search engine and look each man's statements on WMD up.
Also, look up Kidney Lithotripers (Micro switches for nukes) from Siemans in Germany and high-usage fiber optics (Target aquisition and navigation) from Alcatel in Germany.
My "so-called facts" are public record.
1)Czech President and Foreign Minister recently reaffirmed the claim of their Intelligence service's report on Atta.
2)No one denies the existence or purpose of Salman Pak.
3)The OBL/Iraq connection in the Sudan has many sources in Sudan, Pakistan, Egypt, Israel and our CIA & electronic intel.
4)Kuala Lumpur reported and verified the Shakir connection after 9/11 and again after their own terror problems.
Calling President Bush a liar and a war-monger is offensive, not supported by facts and reduces your thesis to caricature. Name-calling is for the playground.
Citizen R.W. - 11/19/2003
The polls are more accurate than the conspiracy theories, not that you would know or care.
C.R.World - 11/19/2003
"The better option would have been to militarize the inspections with a joint US/UN force, reduce support for israel, reuce the american footprint, and sustainaand strengthen international counter terrorism. That would have amde a safer world. But maybe that's too nuanced?"
Not only too nuanced, too messed up to begin with.
1. There's no reason why sustained and strengthened counter-terrorism is NOT an option. It's what we've been doing from the beginning and most liberal democracies don't see it as contrary to their interests to combine their internal and external security apparatuses, not to mention mechanisms of law enforcement, with our efforts. Political spats are most unlikely to change that.
2. Reducing the American footprint - perhaps you might want to get more specific. There's nothing wrong with being engaged in world events, it's naive to think we shouldn't or even that we could, and favoring liberal democracy is in our interest if you want to reduce the likelihood of war and aggression.
3. Reducing support for Israel? I'm opposed to following the Czechoslovakia precedent. No rewards for terrorism, no opposition to an established liberal self-government, and no confusion between restraint and the need for self-defense (murder/suicide "missions" directed against unarmed non-combattants are NOT self-defense). If you don't like settlements Ariel Sharon said he would be willing to deduct U.S. aid from their costs and stated U.S. policy has been to oppose their growth and proliferation as an obstacle to advancing a settlement. Good enough.
4. Militarize the inspections? Good luck with that one. How long is it going to take to hammer out the rules of engagement? A better question is how much longer (decades?) would you have given for this Iraq debacle to consume the international agenda? With his two rapacious young sons lovingly groomed for succession? The thing wasn't going anywhere constructive. Dealing effectively w/Saddam's deception would have become a full-time occupation while his people continued to starve, causing us continued loss of face on this issue. No better guarantees than being done with him. The people wanted him gone too.
The humanitarian points are often brought up. Does every dictator become a "special case?" Of course not. There were many reasons that coalesced and this only helped us advance our wish that he be gone, getting us one step closer to a more stable and prosperous region. Digging up the mass graves, however, it sure is a rewarding side-benefit.
You bring up an interesting point about the Kurds, but I think such speculation could just as easily be funneled into their taking a more pro-active role in establishing a free and democratic Iraq. It's certainly not in their interest that Iraq lapse back into autocracy and furthering their autonomous precedent into a federal framework I believe, only helps stabilize the situation in the rest of the country. The current head of the governing council, Jalal Talabani, is looked to inspiringly as a model for presidential leadership.
5. The Middle East's f***'d up past. Yep, it's true. The middle east has a pretty warped political slate to work from and a poor number of even halfway-decent native historical examples to look to for precedent. But since you've got to start somewhere, a clean slate doesn't look so bad comparatively. Plus, with the lowest per capita rate of internet access, it's really hard to get working examples of the advantages of life in a free society to them any other way than through practice.
6. Shah of Iran? Ok. History isn't destiny. We should learn from our mistakes and the failure of cut and run in the past means precisely that we shouldn't repeat what we did wrong. Iraq is not Iran, it's got a secular history, and the people hated Saddam so intensely that the last thing they want is his clone. Don't confuse U.S. popular opinion with Iraq's, either. They want us to stay as long as the job takes until we've got them set up on the right foot (read the polls). They like freedom and aren't incredibly keen on getting rid of it, even to would-be theocrats. The debate within the Shiite leadership, however, is at a very crucial point at this stage, and will shape the outcome toward a new model that doesn't marginalize their religious role nor relegate it to a coercive position.
7. Again, the active problems: Afghanistan, Egypt.... ad infinitum.... We have no choice but to walk and chew gum at the same time. Just because some things are put on the back burner doesn't mean we need to walk away from them. Some goals will take more time than others, and there's nothing wrong with keeping that in mind as they're addressed. Not everything will happen overnight, so you prioritize with a realistic timeline in mind that's specific to each goal. We'll get there.
Gus Moner - 11/18/2003
Compromise, imperfection and propaganda, you meant? The speech and the policy are inconsistent. Who are we kidding here? He says democracy, props up dictators ...
One thing is compromise; another is saying one thing and doing another.
Gus Moner - 11/18/2003
It sounds like wishful thinking from many km. away.
cogito - 11/18/2003
What we have now is an intllectual mess, which has been bludgeoned into a simple divisin between 'terrorists" and freedom. I'd have been happy to invade iraq on humanitarian grounds and remove Saddam, but it was never clear--will that now be the stated policy? Or did "humanitarian grounds" only extend to this guy? personally, I wish he was dead--this is not a defense of Saddam in any way shape or form. But is this a war against cruel dictators, or a war against cruel dictators who harbor terrorists (not Saddam), or a war against terrorists (not saddam, again). I don't wnat nbuance, I want clarity
How, exactly, is the world better now than it was before the invasion? It'snot better for the kurds--they were already thriving under the no-fly zone, and now they have legit worries about ho they will be governed under a free iraq. It's not better for the Sunni's , but who cares? They were they oppressor. It's probably better for the Shiites in some places, but not all. How many people is that? at what cost? Again, I don't want nuance, just clarity.
Has the threat of terrorism diminished because of this invasion, or increased? I think it's probably increased--more angry arab jihadists, more US presence to attack, more permeable borders. Simple evidence, again: how many Americans did Saddam kill from 1990 to 2002? How many have died since Bush declared major operatiosn over? It is very clear, by that measure--the coutry has become less stable and more dangerous
Now as the the idea that a free and democratic raq qill lead the way to a secular middle east. Sigh. This is pure neocon fantasy. Where is the basis for democracy in this artificial country, carved out of British imperial holdings? Where is democracy in tribal warfare, sunni/shiite slaughter, and ethnic animosity? A democracy in iraq qould elect a govt. by Mullah. Is that a gain for the US?
I am left with three words: "Shah of Iran." Remember him? He was our boy in Iran--secular, western-centric, willing to rule with a strong hand. His secular, prowestern rule did not lead to more secular democracy--it lead to the reign of the ayatollahs. My prediction: in two years there will be someone like the sahs of iran in Iraq--someone like the Saudis. Someone exactly like Saddam Hussien before he invaded Kuwait. We will have spent 100s of billiosn, and we will be back at square one. Meanwhile, the actual terrorists who attacked us will be regrouping in afghanistan, in Egypt, in Saudi Arabia, etc.
The better option would have been to militarize the inspections with a joint US/UN force, reduce support for israel, reuce the american footprint, and sustainaand strengthen international counter terrorism. That would have amde a safer world. But maybe that's too nuanced?
Bill Heuisler - 11/18/2003
Thank you for refraining from calling President Bush a liar and a war-lover. Those who do so exhibit such an appalling double standard that a cogent response must decend to basic logic and thus becomes a tedious waste of time for a history site.
Each of your points assumes an equilibrium of good intentions and motives between three US Presidents and Saddam Hussein. This can be proven wrong by considering their respective records.
1)The intelligence was five years fresher when Clinton cited it because Saddam had halted (in violation of UN sanctions) all inspections for most of the intervening time. This illegal act presented President Bush with the knowledge there had been WMD according to Clinton, Tenet, Albright, Chirac, Blair, Blix etc. and with the untenable problem that he wasn't able to verify Saddam's good or bad intentions. Would he have better served our country by ignoring reality through rose-colored glasses and announcing that no news is good news? Of course not.
2)Targeted sanctions failed to produce peace or compliance. Saddam rejected the inspectors in the face of the sanctions and in spite of the sanctions. To pretend President Clinton was solving any problems with Saddam Hussein ignores the ejection of inspectors, firing of SAM missiles at coalition planes in no-fly-zones, payment of Hamas suicide bombers, importation of fiber optics for missile targeting from Germany and nuclear triggers from France and allowing the training camp for fleeing Taliban and Al Quaida to exist sixty miles southwest of his capital. All this during President Clinton's administration and both before and after Saddam supposedly agreed to more stringent inspections and then reneged. How much evil intent is enough?
3)And there cannot be "a higher standard of proof" without a "a cooperative embargo and inspections regime." The proof depends on the inspections and quality of cooperation. Again, you assume good will where none existed. Right up to the last minute Saddam only grudgingly agreed to inspection of his palaces, but he forbad inspection of military bases and the Shatt al Arab naval base and also insisted on strict time limitations. He was not cooperating. President Bush was left with very little choice.
Citizen R.W. - 11/18/2003
I think you bring up some interesting points (the ones I understood), but I feel obliged to point out what I consider a persistent flaw in the regime change/anti-regime change debate.
We are not "imposing" democracy on Iraq. Yes, the 20% Sunni minority feels threatened at the prospect of a loss of the disproportionate power they wielded under Hussein. But the large majority do want a democracy. As to how liberal a democracy, we're doing our best right now to convince the Iraqis that establishing civil freedoms is the best way to avoid a return to tyranny. There is indeed a great deal of debate among the Shiite community (60% of the population) as to how religion can play the constructive role in their society they feel it deserves, without being coercive in nature. But there doesn't seem to be any clear alternatives to democracy in the running when it comes to the overall desires of the Iraqi people.
C.R.W. - 11/18/2003
Let's cut to the chase.
1. When you talk about how well inspections were working, are you referring to after the inspectors were ordered out, or after the threat of military force in 2002 (accompanied by a huge troop build-up) caused him to cave and allow them back?
Threats of military force, if not credible, become unreliable.
2. Sanctions were indeed a great way to accomplish 2 things: Starve the Iraqi people and blame the U.S. and U.N. for it. Saddam always could find ways to funnel whatever money came into his country into some pointless military or regime-oriented endeavor. WMD, no WMD, the guy was a humanitarian nightmare, we received an inordinate amount of the blame for his being there (having left him in the first time) and by virtue of that, his subsequent activities, and removing changes the dynamic of the relationship between not only the U.S. and Iraq, but between the U.S. and the entire Arab world at large.
I do believe that the case for him as a direct threat to the U.S. was greatly overblown, as I believe I stated on a different post. However, being in a better position to address the problems of that region head-on, even if through something as drastic as "regime change," puts the momentum for addressing the "justification" for hatred against the West on our side. Dictatorships require external scapegoats (the West, etc). Terrorist attacks are a way to exorcise those scapegoats. Maybe Saddam didn't direct people to terrorism (except in Israel), but he was one more example that the Arab world could look to and point out how much desperation U.S. policy was wreaking in their neighborhood.
And as long as things turn out better for the average Iraqi than they were before, the Arab world will have one less reason to hate us and find a way to blame the West for all its problems. Direct threat or indirect, terrorism is our problem, and if you read Bush's speech last week, Iraqi Freedom can certainly be viewed in the perspective of broader policy and diplomacy initiatives that will improve life in the Middle East and ultimately, make us safer.
Nuance is meaningless without having the proper (i.e. a working) framework to pin it on. You can't use nuance alone to modify or change the overall dynamic.
Cogito, "I don't do nuance." ;-)
Dan - 11/18/2003
Have you tried:
? 30 seconds on Google. I know, too much effort...
I'll leave it to you to find the equivalent statements by Bill Clinton.
dan - 11/18/2003
Quote me a line the President used that had not been used by President Clinton et al. Just one.
It ain't a quote, per se, but how about 'We are going to war against Iraq.'
he strongly implied a link between Iraq and 9/11."
Right. You consider it indisputable. I don't.
You aren't 69% of the American public. The assertion of a link was in his speech, just not the statement.
But, no one is stopping you from being a believer... Most of us would like you (and your fellow believers) to pick up the tab, the whole tab, though...
Cram - 11/18/2003
My apologies for the confusion.
Elia Markell - 11/18/2003
Gosh, Gus, it's tough I realize to find out that adult life involves compromise and imperfection. I assume you do not want the official U.S. policy to be to thwart democracy in the Middle East. So I can only assume you favor not only stronger efforts to bring democracy to Iraq, but a faster pace in bringing it to Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria and Pakistan -- oh, and also Algeria. Well, why didn't you just say so. I do also. I'm willing to put up with the dissonance of imperfection. But one thing I am glad you and I have in common is that we definitely DO NOT want to pull out of Iraq and turn it back to Baathists and their Al Qaeda pals. Right?
dan - 11/18/2003
THis was a reply to Mr. Heusisler, who does only believe Clinton when Clinton agrees with him (the WMD assessment).
ANd I was contrasting his love for the Iraqi invasion as opposed to the rational approach of the last actual President.
Hard to follow the thread listings when they get broken up.
Marianne - 11/18/2003
Cram makes a good point that the intelligence was fresher when Clinton got it. Bush had more chance/time to vet it (or his policy analysts and the intel community did if everyone was doing their jobs). So yeah, for that alone we should hold Clinton less liable for the accuracy.
The standard we hold Bush to is also higher because taking the U.S. to war squandering the goodwill of our allies and committing to a costly reconstruction raises the stakes for Americans astronomically higher than getting the international community to impose economic sanctions did.
Spoken by someone who is neither a Clinton or Bush supporter...
Cram - 11/18/2003
1) "Why do you believe Mr. Clinton ONLY on things with which you HAPPEN to agree?"
Since Clinton did not invade Iraq on hyped up intelligence, I don't hate him for it.
Furthermore, your question is rather odd. Of course, if I agree with something, I will believe who is saying it. If I do not agree, then I will not believe the person who says it. I would believe Clinton if he says the world is round because that is that I believe as well. If he said the opposite, then I would not believe him. Make sense? Do you have a different method. Perhaps you simjply go by person so if you agree with someone, you will believe everything that person has to say. A rather problematic approach, it seems to me.
2) "Why did the President you hate do the reasonable, rational, intelligent thing with the information that the Resident you LOVE did just the opposite?"
So the reasonable, rational, intelligent thing to do was to invade another country based on alligations that turned out not to be true, and then to pay for the occupation and reconstruction of that country? Is that what you meant? If that was what you meant, then the answe is, I don't know why the President that I hate did that.
I hope that answered your questions.
Dan - 11/18/2003
Why do you believe Mr. Clinton ONLY on things with which you HAPPEN to agree?
Why did the President you hate do the reasonable, rational, intelligent thing with the information that the Resident you LOVE did just the opposite?
Cram - 11/18/2003
Once again, someone who doesn't agree with the message shoots the messenger.
If you want to see more of Chompsky, call him up and tell him to contribute, but don't assume that he is being somehow censored.
Go to the main page and click on "About us" and you will find the following statement:
"Among the many duties we assume are these: To expose politicians who misrepresent history. To point out bogus analogies. To deflate beguiling myths. To remind Americans of the irony of history. To put events in context. To remind us all of the complexity of history.
Because we believe history is complicated our pages are open to people of all political persuasions. Left, right, center: all are welcome."
Notice, it says it is open to all, not that is is going to seek out everyone to make sure that the number of articles on all sides are equal.
Cram - 11/18/2003
1) "The President no more "misrepresented" evidence than President Clinton, Jacques Chirac or Tony Blair. Quote me a line the President used that had not been used by President Clinton et al. Just one.
I know you only asked for one, but here are a few:
"We have sources that tell us that Saddam Hussein recently authorized Iraqi field commanders to use chemical weapons -- the very weapons the dictator tells us he does not have."
October 5, 2002
"The Iraqi regime . . . possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons. It is seeking nuclear weapons."
"We know that the regime has produced thousands of tons of chemical agents, including mustard gas, sarin nerve gas, VX nerve gas."
"We've also discovered through intelligence that Iraq has a growing fleet of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to disperse chemical or biological weapons across broad areas. We're concerned that Iraq is exploring ways of using these UAVS for missions targeting the United States."
"The evidence indicates that Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program. Saddam Hussein has held numerous meetings with Iraqi nuclear scientists, a group he calls his "nuclear mujahideen" - his nuclear holy warriors. Satellite photographs reveal that Iraq is rebuilding facilities at sites that have been part of its nuclear program in the past. Iraq has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes and other equipment needed for gas centrifuges, which are used to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons."
Cincinnati, Ohio Speech
October 7, 2002
"Our intelligence officials estimate that Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent."
State of the Union Address
January 28, 2003
"Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised."
Address to the Nation
March 17, 2003
2) "You consider it indisputable. I don't."
That is a fair statement, although I must say that at the height of the war, almost 70% of Americans believed that there was a connection. You can blame that on whomever you like, but clearly there was attempt on the administration's part to clear up this significant confusion.
3) "Indisputably, Iraq and OBL are connected by many things: Atta's two meetings with Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir 10/99 and 4/01 in Prague; Hussein's Salman Pak training camp for Al Quaida/Taliban; visits and collaboration with high-ranking Iraqis while OBL was in the Sudan; Ahmed Hikmat Shakir, an Iraqi paid out of the Iraqi embassy in Kuala Lumpur escorted two 9/11 hijackers (Khalid al Midhar and Nawaq al Hamzi) through customs in Kuala Lumpur in January, 2000 and took them to a hotel where they met with Ramzi bin al Shibh, a mastermind of 9/11."
First of all, the so-called facts you list above have been disputed by many, and Bush ceased using them long ago. Even Powell refused to use most of them during his case to the UN. Furthermore, guess who is on my side with this... thats right, President Bush who said, and I quote: "No, we've had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with September the 11th." Foe someone so fond of accusing people of using "overstatements and opinions," you seemed to have used a whooper!
4) "You said the President lied because he wanted to go to war with Iraq - two more opinions masquerading as substance. Please cite facts instead of misstatements, overstatements and opinions."
Agreed. Fact 1: Bush said there were definitll WMD in Iraq Fact 2: We have found no evidence of WMD in Iraq.
Ergo, Bush lied. For what reason? To go to war against Iraq. How are those facts?
Jonathan Dresner - 11/18/2003
You argue that Clinton's citation of the same intelligence (and I use that term only in the technical sense) as Bush somehow excuses Bush from responsibility for acting on that intelligence, but I have two problems with that conclusion. First, the intelligence was five years fresher when Clinton cited it: now we can argue about what direction things might have moved, but there's no way that five year old information can be considered conclusive proof of anything in a situation like this.
Second, and more importantly, Clinton used the information to support an internationally supported and targetted sanctions regime (and, by the way, I'm not convinced that wasn't a war crime, too, but that's a discussion for another day) the aim of which was the peaceful resolution of the question through inspections that would shed light on the accuracy of the intelligence. Bush used the information to put hundreds of thousands of American troops in harm's way and mortgage our future by committing us to rebuilding what he and his father destroyed.
Bush used the information to move aggressively and precipitously into a complex and uncertain situation, and I, for one, think he should have a higher standard of proof before a massive and internationally divisive military operation than before a cooperative embargo and inspections regime.
Bill Heuisler - 11/18/2003
Your dislike for President Bush has made you careless with words and eager with assumptions. Lets argue facts in the future.
You wrote, "he misrepresented that evidence and assured the American people that Iraq definitely has WMD, when the intelligence was never that conclusive." Wrong. The President no more "misrepresented" evidence than President Clinton, Jacques Chirac or Tony Blair. Quote me a line the President used that had not been used by President Clinton et al. Just one.
Confusing opinions with evidence only draws attention to you.
"...although he did not come out and say it, I consider it indisputable that he strongly implied a link between Iraq and 9/11."
Right. You consider it indisputable. I don't.
In fact, had he done so he would've been absolutely correct.
Why? Indisputably, Iraq and OBL are connected by many things: Atta's two meetings with Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir 10/99 and 4/01 in Prague; Hussein's Salman Pak training camp for Al Quaida/Taliban; visits and collaboration with high-ranking Iraqis while OBL was in the Sudan; Ahmed Hikmat Shakir, an Iraqi paid out of the Iraqi embassy in Kuala Lumpur escorted two 9/11 hijackers (Khalid al Midhar and Nawaq al Hamzi) through customs in Kuala Lumpur in January, 2000 and took them to a hotel where they met with Ramzi bin al Shibh, a mastermind of 9/11.
You said the President lied because he wanted to go to war with Iraq - two more opinions masquerading as substance. Please cite facts instead of misstatements, overstatements and opinions.
Richard Kurdlion - 11/18/2003
If Bush meant what he said, his administration would have been pushing for regime change in Saudi Arabia -the number 1 supporter of Al Qaeda- and Pakistan, the only nuclear power under serious threat by radical Islamic forces, instead of destabilizing these countries with its arrogant and blunder-ridden failed nation-building in Afghanistan and Iraq.
This is roughly the 40th article by non-historian Pipes on HNN. And meanwhile, HNN’s editor (see “Love HNN, Hate HNN”) tries to maintain, with a straight face, that this is "balanced" by 3 or 4 articles by Chomsky.
Why should anyone donate to HNN when one can give money to the Republican Party in America and Likud Party in Israel directly ?
Cram - 11/18/2003
Perhaps you misunderstood some of my prior posts, but I don’t believe I ever made the case that Saddam Hussein should be trusted.
I would again like to point out that we have found none of these WMD. This is an important fact that I think is worth noting, that our entire case for going to war turned out to be incorrect. Even Iraqi scientists, with their families safe from retaliation, tell us in confidence that there was NO WMD in Iraq.
You say that "President Bush took a vow to protect the US. He looked at the available evidence and acted as a President is supposed to act."
The problem came when he misrepresented that evidence and assured the American people that Iraq definitely has WMD, when the intelligence was never that conclusive. Looking back on the evidence now, Numerous Congressmen had determined that the evidence available simply did not warrant the certainty with which Bush was speaking about Iraq. Furthermore, although he did not come out and say it, I consider it indisputable that he strongly implied a link between Iraq and 9/11 that simply was not there. The fact is this: Bush wanted to go to war with Iraq, and he used American fears after 9/11 to lie to the American people about the reasons for going in.
Finally, this has nothing to due with trusting Saddam Hussein. I can think of a lot of leaders whom I distrust and who want death to America, but that does not justify going to war with every one of them.
"It was a surprise to me then — it remains a surprise to me now — that we have not uncovered weapons, as you say, in some of the forward dispersal sites. Believe me, it's not for lack of trying. We've been to virtually every ammunition supply point between the Kuwaiti border and Baghdad, but they're simply not there."
Lt. Gen. James Conway, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, May 30, 2003
Bill Heuisler - 11/18/2003
Misstating Hans Blix's message, overstating the obvious and quoting the peculiar Mr. Novak does not make a case for trusting Hussein and mistrusting President Bush and his cabinet.
Blix report to UN Security Council January 27, 2003:
"Strong evidence" that Iraq had produced more anthrax than it had admitted "and at least some of this was retained." Blix also reportedthat Iraq possessed "650 kilograms of bacterial growth media" ...enough "to produce 5,000 litres of concentrated anthrax."Blix reported there were "6,500 chemical bombs that Ieraq had admitted producing, but whose wherabouts were unknown."
As Blix reported, "In the absence of evidence to the contrary, we must assume that these quantities are now unaccounted for."
You make a big deal out of the intel committee telling a CIA Director about, "deficiencies" in the U.S. intelligence community's ability to collect fresh intelligence on Iraq after U.N. weapons inspectors left in 1998." Brilliant.
Novak has never been privy to inner intelligence circles. Witness his dire predictions on Desert Storm. Remember?
All indications and evidence point to removal and concealment. There is absolute evidence he had WMD. There is now absolute evidence of missiles and warheads. We have found precursors and thousands of files dealing with manufacture and weaponization of bio and chemical. Kamel's back yard yielded boxes of data, files, orders, schematics and authorizations for nuclear. There is no evidence whatsoever that those existing WMDs simply ceased to exist. The American people cannot rest until Iraq has been thoroughly searched - until the Bekaa Valley is cleared - and the final demise of the weapons we know were there can be proved.
President Bush took a vow to protect the US. He looked at the available evidence and acted as a President is supposed to act. Would you really rather he took a chance on Saddam's altruism? Has your review of Saddam Hussein's record made you trust him?
Doug Eberle - 11/18/2003
The speech the article refers to is significant because it lays out the real reasons for the war in Iraq. It is reflective of a very deep, long term, radical change in direction for US foreign policy.
It has been easily dismissed as a distraction by those who continue to think the war was about WMD and their direct threat to the US.
Instead the war was an extension of an historical analysis of the 9/11 attacks and what could be considered (and the President apparently does consider) the best long term way to prevent the US from becoming subject to further attacks.
Why did Al Qaeda attack on 9/11. Mostly to get the US military out of Saudi Arabia physically and stop the US from propping up a Saudi regime that is considered illegitimate and corrupt by, debatably, the majority of Saudis.
When the US supports dictators legitimate dissent to those regimes becomes anti-American. The US's interest in the stability of undemocratic regimes that support US interests causes legitimate internal opposition to those regimes to be viewed as by the US, and to eventually become, anti-American.
The repression of dissent within undemocratic regimes eventually causes only the most radical and violent dissent to survive. When this radical and violent dissent can't affect change at home it will look to attack the US which is viewed as complicit in the repression.
Even if these radical elements can take power at home the resulting regimes become violently anti-American, as in Iran, Cuba, Nicaragua, etc. and therefore a long-term headache for the US.
With no major power currently vying for geopolitical advantage in the Mid East (as during the cold war) there is no longer any advantage for the US to support non-democratic regimes there.
If the governments in the mideast were democratic their political dissent would be focussed internally and have an outlet in the political process, and be less likely to turn against the US.
The only issue I have with this policy is in it's execution, because imposing democracy militarily is extremely expensive and not terribly likely to produce genuinely pro-American democratic outcomes.
In the Cold War our attempts to isolate communist totalitarian regimes, and our plain and visible support for democratic dissent within those countries allowed an pro American democratic eastern Europe to emerge with internal leadership after the dictatorships fell from their own internal failures.
Our attempt at imposition of pro-US democracy in Iraq and our failure to distance ourselves from and isolate countries like Saudi Arabia and Egypt show that Bush is looking for a quick shortcut to the democratic result without being willing to do the really time consuming heavy lifting that will actually achieve it.
Cram - 11/18/2003
You write: "why not give humble readers of HNN some evidence for your resolute defense of Saddam's innocence?" My case is quite simple really: We invaded Iraq and discovered no WMD… we invaded Iraq and then came out an admitted Iraq was not involved in 9/11. Is that evidence somehow inconclusive to you?
You also ask if I "disagree with President Clinton and his Cabinet, Prime Minister Tony Blair, Hans Blix and President Bush and his Cabinet."
To me (call me crazy) reality trumps accusation. You seem to be saying that since they thought he had weapons, he had them whether he had them or not! Furthermore, Blix has said repeatedly that there was a large degree of spin involved in the way the evidence against Iraq was presented to the public.
In a letter sent to CIA Director George Tenet by Rep. Porter Goss of Florida, the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, and Rep. Jane Harman of California, the committee's ranking Democrat, the committee said that it spent the past several months going through 19 volumes of classified material Bush officials used to make their case for war with Iraq and they told Tenet they found "significant deficiencies" in the U.S. intelligence community's ability to collect fresh intelligence on Iraq after U.N. weapons inspectors left in 1998. They said intelligence agencies instead relied on "past assessments" and "some new 'piecemeal' intelligence" that "were not challenged as a routine matter."
The consensus, my friend, was that Iraq MAY have WMD and that the best way to deal with that was to have weapons inspectors find them and destroy them. The results of Blix, the UN, France, and Clinton was not that we had definitive proof that Iraq had them and was ready to use them.
And with due respect, I believe that partisanship and adulation for President Bush has apparently affected your judgment.
I leave you with the following:
"[Lawmakers] could ask angry Pentagon staff officers why the J-3 operations section started logistical prepositioning a month ago -- before Saddam Hussein on Oct. 31 triggered the new crisis by restricting inspectors."
"Since UNSCOM (the United Nations inspecting organization) never has on its own been able to find chemical or germ weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, how can Saddam Husseins denial of inspection rights be considered so grave a threat to U.S. security as to enable Clinton as commander in chief to exercise inherent constitutional powers?"
Former congressman, and presidential candidate, Jack Kemp said last week that "his staff can find no evidence of UNSCOM documentation of further weapons finds. Indeed, when I asked Rubin about this on Friday, he cited specifically only the weapons pointed out by the Iraqis in 1991, though he added that he had been assured there have been other discoveries."
--"One-Man Show on Iraq" by Robert D. Novak (The Washington Post, Op-Ed page, November 16, 1998)
Bill Heuisler - 11/18/2003
Your view from Olympus illustrates presumption or delusion.
Unless you're an acronym for a powerful government agency or an incarnation of Ian Fleming apocrypha - sources legion, knowledge almost Godlike - why not give humble readers of HNN some evidence for your resolute defense of Saddam's innocence?
You wrote, "Iraq had no intention of hitting us. There were no WMD, nor did the intelligence data conclusively prove there was. As for the link to terrorism, there were probably more Al Qiada members in the US than in Iraq."
Pardon me for questioning your summation, but you disagree with President Clinton and his Cabinet, Prime Minister Tony Blair, Hans Blix and President Bush and his Cabinet. Also, you disavow German Intelligence who reported in 2001 that Hussein might be three years away from being able to build three nuclear weapons and that by 2005 Iraq would have (N. Korean Nodong or converted Chinese HY-2 Silkworm, according to David Kay Chief US weapons inspector in Iraq) missiles with sufficient range to reach Europe. You also must think French President Jacque Chirac was lying when he declared in February that there were probably weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and "we have to find and destroy them."
President Clinton 2/98 described Iraq's "offensive biological warfare capability...5,000 gallons of botulinum, 2,000 gallons of anthrax...25 biological-filled Scud warheads and 157 aerial bombs...Iraq is a rogue state with weapons of mass destruction, ready to use them or provide them to terrorists..."
Do you know better? Hubris or hatred for President Bush has apparently affected your judgement. Zeus-envy?
Gus Moner - 11/18/2003
Fine words by Mr Bush, great praise by Mr Pipes. All according to script. He gets nominated, Bush gets praise.
Where's the beef here?
"Sixty years of Western nations excusing and accommodating the lack of freedom in the Middle East did nothing to make us safe."
This sentence, spoken last week by George W. Bush, is about the most jaw-dropping repudiation of an established bipartisan policy ever made by a US president."
Gosh, sounds good!
But, what change in policy? As Bush was uttering those comments, a new agreement was announced, payments included, with Algeria for a listening station in the desert. We've just added a new Arab client state, with the added benefit that it already is embroiled in a civil war, we needn't bother starting it!
cogito - 11/18/2003
What we wwre doing in iraq before Bush WAS working, if your goal was disarming Saddam and making him no threat to the US. It is now clear that sanctions/containment was working--he had no weapons of mass destruction, no connection to the 911 bombing, and no capacity to attack the US.
Now if your goal was to eliminate saddam as a leader, well then sanctions/containment wasn't workng--he was hunkered down and terrorizing his people. If that was your goal, then sanctions were not woring.
What's really clear at the moment is that our policy in Iraq is not working. How many Americans did Saddam kill betwee 1990 and 2002? zero. How many has he killed since the invasion? Hard to say--is it Saddam who is killing Americans over there? After months of telling us it's going great, and claiming the media is misleading, Bush is now authorizing a sharp rethinking of policy there. His inability to see nuance has gotten a lot of Americans killed.
C.R. Winston - 11/17/2003
If your misgivings on Bush are based on him acting in the spirit of a "gambler," hopefully that sentiment might be offset by the brilliant Ms. Rice's seemingly implicit faith in him and "his gut." You're right, stylistically he loves to keep it simple and has no fear of eschewing nuance, as he said to Sen. Joe Biden at his warnings against ignoring the "nuances of" what might result (in Europe, etc.) from his actions. He said, "Joe, I don't do nuance." I love that.
I had misgivings about his unilateralism beginning with Kyoto, as someone who cares about the environment, but as far as foreign policy and strategy goes, I don't think his team is a bunch of fools or foolhardy, either. Quite the contrary. I think they're cold, hard pragmatists who realize that dictators don't give a damn about (and can't be trusted with) our security and that the machiavellian Euros are too weak and afraid to do anything about that. Fortunately, and I think as a result of Bush's actions (among other things), they are starting to realize that if they are not part of the solution they are a part of the problem.
I think like Wilson, he realizes a need for a change when it comes to the how we go about maintaining the business of the current world order. The aspect of that most pertinent to U.S. foreign policy would be the global security morass that we refer to as the Middle East. But unlike Wilson, he realizes that a bold move here or there, shaking things up a bit, and being unafraid to veer off from a previously unsuccessful approach is every bit in order, regardless of whether or not it appeals to the naively wishful thinking of the global peace-and-love crowd.
If nothing else, business school taught the guy not to mess with something if it's working, but whatever we had been doing before, sure as s*&^ wasn't working!
Cram - 11/17/2003
I will say one thing: Bush is a radical. The only problem is that he is a radical conservative that has been a miserable failure.
On Iraq, Mr. Pipes says Bush adopted an "approach of hitting before getting hit." There is just one problem: Iraq had no intention of hitting us. There were no WMD, nor did the intelligence data conclusively prove there was. As for the link to terrorism, there were probably more Al Qiada members in the US than in Iraq. Bush lied to the Americans people and created a terrorist haven where there was none before. That is radical, all right!
On Israel, again Bush chose a different approach. Unlike President Clinton, Bush chose to ignore the crises for well over a year, during which time it escalated beyond anyone’s control. While I applaud Bush’s no-tolerance stance on terrorism and appreciate his resoluteness when it comes to forcing Palestinian leaders to crack down on murderers, it seems (especially in retrospect) too little, too late.
On democracy, I give Bush full credit for his comment and believes it is a step in the right direction. However, Woodrow Wilson also promised to make the world safe for Democracy, as did Kennedy and Johnson, and yet they were more interested in democracy that helps the US. History will tell whether Bush truly is a radical on this issue.
Mr. Pipes says that "However matters develop, this gamble is typical of a president exceptionally willing to take risks to shake up the status quo." So far, these risks have been foolhardy and lacking in any forethought or concern for the consequences. I hope Bush’s "risk" in democracy building is a bit more calculated then his past adventurous gambles.
- Historians gloss over too many unpalatable truths, Antony Beevor says
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