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March 22, 2004

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» Clarke Corroboration from Political Animal
CLARKE CORROBORATION....Is Clarke right that the Bush administration's first instinct after 9/11 was to attack Iraq, not Afghanistan? Katherine R at Obsidian Wings, on hiatus from her hiatus (translation: yes, I'm addicted to blogging after all), remin... [Read More]

» Clarke Corroboration from Political Animal
CLARKE CORROBORATION....Is Clarke right that the Bush administration's first instinct after 9/11 was to attack Iraq, not Afghanistan? Katherine R at Obsidian Wings, on hiatus from her hiatus (translation: yes, I'm addicted to blogging after all), remin... [Read More]

» Clarke Corroboration from Political Animal
CLARKE CORROBORATION....Is Clarke right that the Bush administration's first instinct after 9/11 was to attack Iraq, not Afghanistan? Katherine R at Obsidian Wings, on hiatus from her hiatus (translation: yes, I'm addicted to blogging after all), remin... [Read More]

» Why did Blair join Bush in the war against Iraq? from Can you hear me?
This has been a gnawing question for quite some time. I have personally pondered that perhaps the Bush administration had promised him the capitalist equivalent of 70 virgins in the afterlife if he went along. This post from Juan Cole... [Read More]

» Corroboration for Clarke from Sick Transit
Via Juan Cole, a link to the revelation that Clarke's charges are not new. Back in April of 2003, the retiring British ambassador to Washington, Sir Christopher Meyer, said that Wolfowitz was pushing for an attack on Iraq after 9/11, and that Blair... [Read More]

» President Bush Wanted Iraq for a Long Time from Nothing in Particular
A cybersecurity expert recently tells about how President Bush's administration wanted to invade Iraq on 9/11. The former Treasury Secretary told us a few months back that President Bush wanted to invade Iraq within days of being inaugurated [Read More]

Comments

Katherine, just one question on Clarke. If Clarke was correct that the Bush Admin was not interested (disengaged) in OBL and his crew, how did they accomplish the quick turn on the Afghan military engagement? The news media at the time asked the same question.

Not sure I follow your question Timmy, but it seems like you're asking how the best military the world's ever known with near-universal support (and certainly no interference) was able to route a third-world military. Or are you saying that the week when Bush & Co were reportedly focussed on Iraq instead would have been so much wasted time, there's no way they could have pulled together the plan they did in the next few weeks?

There's also a fair bit of difference between being sufficiently prepared/aware to prevent an attack, and being sufficiently prepared to respond to an attack once it has occurred. The former requires (I would think) a higher level of focus and engagement than the latter.

Point of fact. Whatever the discussions in the White House immediately after 9-11, we invaded Afghanistan first. We did not invade Iraq first.

I Katherine mentions that, but it is the key fact.

The other point of fact is that Bush hawks believe that Iraq is a logical part of the War on Terror. I know that many people on this board do not believe it (I do, but I don't know what that counts for), but the administration does believe it.

The other point of fact is that Bush hawks believe that Iraq is a logical part of the War on Terror.

Do you believe that, in the wake of 9/11 (say late 2001), it superceded Afghanistan?

The other point of fact is that Bush hawks believe that Iraq is a logical part of the War on Terror. I know that many people on this board do not believe it (I do, but I don't know what that counts for), but the administration does believe it.

Right on all counts, I think, but my question is, why do you believe it?

Apparently, Richard Clarke -- something of an expert on the subject, it would seem -- did not and does not believe it. And if his account is to be believed, neither did the CIA and the FBI, after months of study.

Where is the evidence that Iraq was involved? Where are the counterarguments to the testimony and evidence that they weren't involved?

I just don't get it. It seems like Bush's supporters support him because they support his policies, and they support his policies because they support him. No evidence, no logic; mere tautology.

(And yes yes, Saddam bad. North Korea bad too, and Turkmenistan, etc.; this is not the issue.)

What you've all missed is that ten days after 9-11, the Prez responded with the USA Patriot Act - some 343 pages of tightly worded legalese. Where did this come from? How could it have been prepared in a mere ten days? Was it prepared in advance? If so, why and by whom?

This gets connected to the anthrax attacks, where poisonious letters are sent to members of the Democratic leadership (eg, opposition) who promptly roll over & rubber stamp the thing. All before we go Afghan. The nasty conclusion was that by January 2002 the FBI had proved the anthrax in question had come from US military labs, and, to date, have been unable to crack the case. (Source: New Scientist, as quoted in The Guardian.)

While the administration was busy being derailed from attacking Iraq, it was very clearly up to something else with the Patriot Act.

Edward, you do remember the Afghan war and the rolling out of a new strategy (relying on air fire power, boots on the ground with lazer pointers/radioes and a lot of walking around money) and its reliance on strong local relationships. Figured you had to have assets on the ground well before 9-11 if you were going to wage that type of war, although I note Ken White doesn't agree with me.

That is, if the Admin had disengaged from OBL and his gang, you couldn't wage that type of war.

That is, if the Admin had disengaged from OBL and his gang, you couldn't wage that type of war.

I'll have to plead ignorance on how much time it takes to put such efforts in motion, but I have always assumed that most elements of our contingency plans are more or less always in motion, and considering that whether Bush believed Clarke or not, the Pentagon would have already had a "take out the Taliban" contingency plan from years before, I'm inclined to believe it didn't take that much time to implement it.

At least I hope not...what if, God forbid, someone attacks the US with more force...I hope it wouldn't take us that long to respond.

Dave, IIRC, the Patriot Act was a recycled Clinton-era wishlist, expanded and Ashcrofted.

Timmy, there's no question that a plan was in place for getting rid of the Taliban prior to 9/11. Clarke says as much, as he had tried to pitch the plan to both the Clinton administration and the Bush administration.

My impression is that Iraq's centrality in the war on terror derives from its being an ideal crucible for democracy in the region (ie. a largely secular, well-educated populace, more than happy to shake the yoke of a brutal regime). By definition, this would be a lengthy and arduous process (more so than even this administration seems to have appreciated), and therefore looking to Iraq early on does make sense. What doesn't so much is striking Iraq first, presumably with insufficient assets in place. Still, the notion of a quid pro quo, of sorts, between State and Defense is perhaps revealing.

By the way, thanks, TtWD and Sebastian, for not just impugning Clarke out of the gate. It makes for a healthy debate over which I think you'll find that many of us nominally on the other side are not willing to prejudge.

Clarke says as much, as he had tried to pitch the plan to both the Clinton administration and the Bush administration.

Since Berger said there was no (military) plan, I'm curious where Clarke said there was. And if the plan used in attacking Afghanistan was Clarke's plan.

The Bodgers are coming, The Bodgers are coming.
Top that for English in-jokes.
L I V E R P double o L Liverpoo F.C.

Timmy
I may be mistaken but I rmember a Taliban and al Queda opposition leader being killed only weeks before our engagement (actually just a week before 9/11 if I remember correctly).
In a land of feuding warlords with strong regional power and an organized opposition already in place (though missing their leader due to an exploding camera), I would guess some money and weapons would get you very far, very fast.

I can't speak for everyone, but I talk about part of why I thought the invasion was a good idea here . It draws on previous posts which are also linked on that page.

Basically I believe that the War on Terror cannot be won without dramatic change in the Middle East. Before 9-11, we were willing to let the Middle East muddle through its horrific problems. We trusted them to eventually get their acts together. But now that they directly effect us, we have to take action. (Maybe, from a moral position we should have taken action before, but that isn't really relevent to what we ought to do now.)

Iraq provided a good place to start the changes. It was relatively secular. It didn't claim to be the 'Defenders of Mecca and Medina'. It wasn't a nuclear power. It had an ongoing bad relationship with the UN. It had one of the most murderous dictators in the vicinity. It was known to support many terrorist groups (all of which would have to be dealt with while reshaping the Middle East). It was thought by all major intelligence communities to be seeking access to WMD including nuclear weapons.

In short it was supposed to be the easy sell with a good chance of success. Turns out, the sell wasn't so easy. But that is because countries like France, Russia and Germany don't believe that the Middle East needs reshaping.

Really the argument isn't about the invasion of Iraq. The argument is about whether or not attempts at democratization of the Middle East are necessary to the War on Terror. If you believe it is not needed, you probably won't support Iraq. If you believe that it is, you probably will support the invasion.

Unless you believe that democracy was going to come without any major use of force in the Middle East... But that is a whole different topic.

The argument is about whether or not attempts at democratization of the Middle East are necessary to the War on Terror. If you believe it is not needed, you probably won't support Iraq. If you believe that it is, you probably will support the invasion.

That's odd, because I recall there being a large contingent, myself included, who argued that the ... on Terror (thanks, von!), such as it is/was, would not be advanced by invading Iraq. [Especially not in the manner that the Bush Administration chose.] May I ask what led you to this conclusion?

Seabastion may hold to the bolt-of-lightening and Osmosis theory of democratization. It's largely dependent upon a secular epiphany then the leaching of the democratic ideals into the leadership of surrounding countries.

In short it was supposed to be the easy sell with a good chance of success. Turns out, the sell wasn't so easy. But that is because countries like France, Russia and Germany don't believe that the Middle East needs reshaping.

Or perhaps those other countries just don't think we have any business deciding what sovereign nations deserve to be "reshaped" without good cause. They weren't buying the "WMD" argument, and with good reason it appears, and it seems they just didn't trust the Bush administration on the other claims; some of which were actually true.

-B-

Ben M. Schorr wrote:

They weren't buying the "WMD" argument, and with good reason it appears,

Really? Which other countries went on the record as not “buying the ‘WMD’ argument” before we removed the Baathist regime in Iraq?

Basically I believe that the War on Terror cannot be won without dramatic change in the Middle East.

That would seem to be setting an awfully high bar. It also runs counter to the decades of experience of most Western European nations, and the advice of most experts, regarding fighting terrorism, which I think can fairly be said to be essentially that fighting terrorism is a sustained police effort rather than a defined military one.

The argument is about whether or not attempts at democratization of the Middle East are necessary to the War on Terror.

That raises the bar still higher, given the near-complete lack of historical basis for democracy in the region and the repeated failures of multiple Western colonial regimes to establish even a small measure of it.

Also, none of these rather sweeping visions for the full political makeover of a region that has been deeply troubled for hundreds or thousands of years seem to deal even cursorily with its gigantic costs and terrible side effects.

(Of course, they also conflict deeply with self-styled conservatives' oft-expressed contempt for "nation-building" and for addressing social problems by tackling root causes, but that's something of a digression.)

The impression I'm getting is something like the PNAC manifesto. And I have to say, as a rationale for starting a war -- with its attendant terrible costs in lives, injury, social destruction, and money -- it sounds both grandiose and poorly thought-out.

The truth is that the truth is whatever is most convenient or expedient for the Bush administration at the time they tell us what the truth is -- just ask them.

When was the last time a Western nation invaded a muslim nation; overturned their leadership and established democracy?
When was the last time it also didn't involve the word "colonization"?

I may be mistaken but I believe the answer is never.

Good thing we had well thought out plans in Iraq or we'd really be up a creek.

"Really? Which other countries went on the record as not “buying the ‘WMD’ argument” before we removed the Baathist regime in Iraq?"

According to the wayback machine here and here, at least France, Russia, China, Germany, Syria, Pakistan, Mexico, Guinea, Chile, Cameroon, and Angola.

Funny how some of the comments in the first article parse in retrospect.

Before 9-11, we were willing to let the Middle East muddle through its horrific problems.

This is simply not true. The US, under both Democratic and Republican administrations, has been blatently and overtly interfering in Middle East politics for decades, heavily propping up some governments (Israel, Egpyt, Saudi Arabia) with military aid and cash, while helping to overthrow others (Iran under Mossadegh) when they failed to toe the line. Whether this is a good thing is another point entirely, (and no, I don't think it was) but don't go around pretending that pre-9/11 the US was some sort of disinterested and benevolent observer. Bush has just returned to the use of open brute force.

According to the wayback machine here and here, at least France, Russia, China, Germany, Syria, Pakistan, Mexico, Guinea, Chile, Cameroon, and Angola.

There is nothing in the article linked showing that any of those countries went on the record as saying they did not believe that Iraq had WMDs before we removed the regime.

In which case it does not support Ben M. Schorr's claim that they "were not buying the 'WMD' argument."


A WMD could be mustard gas - good for a mile or two in a stiff wind - or could be a nuclear weapon - good for...
America assumed Iraq had mustard gas and if all else failed was going to use that as their defense for invasion. Unfortunately, all else failed AND Saddam (or Time) had gotten rid of viable mustard gas.
OOps.

"In which case it does not support Ben M. Schorr's claim that they "were not buying the 'WMD' argument.""

Ah. We interpreted "'WMD' argument" differently. I took it as an argument for war justified by the presence of WMD. Contrasted to 'the human rights argument', 'the democracy argument', and so on.

Sebastian, even if you agree with the "democracy in the middle east" motivation for invading Iraq, aren't you at all perturbed about the *way* it was done -- so fast that our soldiers didn't have the proper cultural or urban combat training, so fast that we couldn't work out a larger coalition...

That speed was a direct result of the WMD argument. The WMD argument was potent the closer to 9/11 it was made. I think we both agree that the Bush administration wanted to go into Iraq -- but how comfortable are you with the means they used to get Congress and the public on board?

Oh, and I forgot -- Katherine, that's a great article link. Will you CivilUnion me?

"Figured you had to have assets on the ground well before 9-11 if you were going to wage that type of war, although I note Ken White doesn't agree with me.

That is, if the Admin had disengaged from OBL and his gang, you couldn't wage that type of war."

This month in the Washington Post there was a 3 day article on the history of the afghan effort that the Clinton Administration authorized through the CIA. I would suggest reading this to understand how the bushies had the ability to roll out the war so fast.

In a nutshell - there was a group in the CIA that was very dedicated to killing Bin Laden. However, teh political climate of the time would not allow a failed assassination attempt, especially one which killed innocents around or instead of BL. The CIA engaged the northern alliance in several ways, sometimes getting ripped off in the process (a half million just disappearing, for instance). However, they did authorize several Norther alliance attacks on bin laden, including a mule based rocket attack on an AQ compound they though BL was at.

The CIA maintained contacts and informants within the northern alliance. This was why BL arranged to have their leader assassinated days before 9/11, as he expected US retaliation to start from the Northern Alliance and hoped to break it by killing their unifying commander.

The reason they had assets on the ground already was because the Clinton administration put them there. And while the bush administration did not take bin laden seriously, they did not care enough to recall any of the assets in place. The program was allowed to cruise on autopilot until 9/11.

"Sebastian, even if you agree with the "democracy in the middle east" motivation for invading Iraq, aren't you at all perturbed about the *way* it was done -- so fast that our soldiers didn't have the proper cultural or urban combat training, so fast that we couldn't work out a larger coalition..."

A lack of time had nothing to with the coalition. It was a lack of interest in dealing with the problem that hampered our ability to form a coalition.

If you want evidence of this look soley at Afghanistan, the case where at least in words, everyone agreed.

In theory all of Europe agreed that dealing with Afghanistan is a major part of the war on terrorism. In some minds it may be the only big part. Now, find the EU or UN or non-US NATO contributions in both money and troops. Not as a fraction of the total force. Not as compared to the US. Just tell me what you find. I hate providing links that no one follows or where you cast doubt on my sources. So show me what you can find, and then tell me if you think it represents a strong commitment to the War on Terror--EVEN IN THE CLEAR CASE.

Fish in a Barrel?! Love to!

"The scope of coalition support is evident in Afghanistan. More than half of the 14,000 anti-terror troops in the country come from coalition countries. Canada, for example, has 2,025 service members in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility. Belgium, Jordan, Australia, the United Kingdom and many other allies have contributed troops, supplies or expertise.

Special operations forces play a critical role in the war in Afghanistan. Many countries have provided this capability including Australia, the United Kingdom, Norway, New Zealand, Denmark, Canada, France and Germany.

Afghanistan is a land-locked country. Operations in Afghanistan could not happen without the cooperation from the nations in the area. Pakistan remains a steadfast ally in the fight. Pakistan has provided basing and overflight permission for U.S. and coalition forces. The country has also placed large numbers of troops on its border with Afghanistan to stop al Qaeda and Taliban terrorists from escaping. Pakistan has also shared intelligence with the United States and coalition partners.

Uzbekistan – Afghanistan's neighbor to the north – has also provided basing and overflight permission.

Countries that cannot help in Afghanistan are helping in other areas. The Baltic Republic of Latvia, for example, has offered to double the number of people assigned to the Stabilization Force in Bosnia, to backfill forces participating in Operation Enduring Freedom.

Latvia and the other Baltic Republics of Estonia and Lithuania are working with the Danish military to provide logistics support to the operation.

In another example, Dutch ships have relieved U.S. units in U.S. Southern Command's area of responsibility.

Many countries are providing humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan. Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Jordan, South Korea and Russia have provided food, clothing and medical aid to hundreds of thousands of Afghans. Russia, alone, has provided almost 450,000 tons of food, more than 2,000 tons of medical supplies and thousands of beds, blankets and heaters.

On the sea, many countries are supporting Operation Enduring Freedom and maritime interdiction efforts. The United Kingdom has been part of Enduring Freedom since the beginning, launching cruise missiles at al Qaeda and Taliban targets as hostilities started. The UK has sent the largest fleet of ships since the Persian Gulf War to the operation.

Italy sent a carrier battle group to the effort, and at one point had more than 13 percent of its naval forces in Operation Enduring Freedom.

France, too, sent a carrier battle group for combat operations out of the North Arabian Sea.

Australia, Germany, Canada, Greece, the Netherlands and Spain have deployed ships in support of maritime interdiction efforts.

Turkey commands the International Security Assistance Force deployed in the Afghan capital of Kabul. Many countries have supported the effort to help the Interim Afghan Administration with troops and supplies. "

Brought to you by the anti-bush lefties at...Defense Link News and the American Forces Press Service. http://www.defenselink.mil/news/May2002/n05232002_200205233.html

Now compare that with Iraq...

"Of the 30 nations that were stated as providing support for the U.S. war with Iraq, only 5 of them provided any military troops in the effort during the invasion [2]:
Albania: 70
Australia: 2000
Poland: 200
Romania: 278
UK: 45,000
This is to be compared with the 300,000 troops the U.S. has committed to the effort. "

You can also go to: http://www.defenselink.mil/pubs/allied_contrib2003/allied2003.pdf page II-7 to start reading about allied contributions in 2002 to afghanistan - France contributed over 4200 military men and flew 2000 sorties into Afghanistan, for instance.

Anything else easy to knock down that you would like to set up?

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