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February 25, 2005

Comments

Did invading Iraq make us less safe? Does self-inflicted gunshot wound make you less alive? How about we ask whether invading Iraq has endangered us?

Far be it from me to evoke extinction, or to suggest that we're more vulnerable because of our invasion of Iraq. I must say, however, that saying we may be less safe just plays into Bush Administration rhetoric about the benefits of thousands dead (or maybe he'd say overpopulation reduction).

The war was implicitly sold as a cakewalk that would in no way impact the life of anyone who wasn't in the military or have a family member in the military. Which tells me that Bush himself doesn't take this war as seriously as he says he does, and that he is aware of how thin the support for it is.

Remember "go shopping!" after 9/11? We've never been asked to sacrifice in the least, so the fact that "supporting the troops" seems to involve wholly symbolic gestures like stickers on your car isn't surprizing.

In fact patriotism in general seems to have been reduced to symbolic gestures like stickers and t-shirts and bad country music. Apparently it doesn't involve actually doing anything anymore.

Steve Clemons had a post on the Washington Note yesrterday that pretains to this. His basic idea is that the Iraq adventure has made us look ineffectual. Also everyone knows that our resources are now fully committed. That means any belligerent talk from the administration is "blustering", to use Steve's word. You can scare other countr4ies for awhile by being a rogue nation but, at a certain point, it becomes clear that the rogue has no more wherewithall for fighting...and becomes irrelevent. That would be ironic--if the neocon play for global hegemony ended by making us irrelevant. Clemons also discusses China's successful self-promotion in the economic and power vaccumn that Bush has created in Asia.

I want to say good post Edward, but I'm not sure how interesting or surprising any of this is. Obviously I agree with you, but the thing you said that I was the most interested in was: " that horse is all but glue at this point,"

Maybe this has been discussed more than I'm aware on the internet, but the MSM has completely shut out disscussion of this. As far as I'm aware every time the subject comes up concervatives say 'so you'd rather have Saddam in power' (Dsquared had a good post on that) or make pie in the sky claims about how in the future it will have made us safer, or claim we don't support the troops, or otherwise change the subject.

Did concervatives conceed this point somewhere I'm not aware of?

I don't think anyone has conceed much of anything on Iraq in either direction Frank. Those opposed to the war have perhaps conceeded that the elections went better than expected. Those in favor of the invasion have pretty much conceeded that there never were any WMD, but here you begin to get into philosophical (if a tree falls in the woods) type discussions about whether or not we should discuss that because Clinton thought there were WMD.

The interesting part of all this for me is the disconnect between putting yellow ribbon bumper stickers on our cars and not being willing to send our sons and daughters off to war. It's like "it's OK for other people's children to fight this war, but not mine!"

I think that represents a fundamental shift in how we perceive what a war means.

We have done serious harm to the army. I wrote about the problems the guard and reserve were having recruiting a few months ago, and people said, rather sensibly: this might be just due to the fact that the reserve in particular attracts people who are leaving the regular army, but they're all in Iraq now, and besides, why would they want to move to the reserves when it's essentially the same as the regular army now? That was one possible explanation, but I think that between this and last week's news that the army is having well short of its recruiting targets, it has unfortunately turned out to be the wrong one.

Yes I think there is a profound difference between the perceived meaning of this war and, say. Wprld War Two. This war is like the Spanish American War; trumped up for domestic political purposes, intended to be a quick in and out media event, fired by jingoism and aggression. But this war is no fun any more. It isn't photogenic and too many of our people are dying. People don't want to send their own kids to fight for...what are we fighting for this week?

I noticed a while back that the Army ads were aimed at the parents. If we see the same thing for the Marines, we'll know it's a significant problem.

I want to say good post Edward, but I'm not sure how interesting or surprising any of this is.

Well, there are a large number of people - including, I think, Sebastian Holsclaw and Slartibartfast, from what they've said elsewhere - who actively disagree with Edward - who believe that invading Iraq has made America safer, and that there are no recruiting difficulties.

Is their absence from the thread for this long unusual or cause for alarm? :)

Frank, I think anyone's entitled not to comment, without conclusions being drawn....

Fair enough. I actually felt a little guilty in the other thread. Thing is every other blog I visit there is a lot more and ruder snark.

Damn, I hate this laptop. I wrote a lengthy reply, and the touchpad ate it.

So, short version: the recruiting issue is a very recent one; the Marines hit their goals for last year to make a 9-year run of doing so. Not saying it's not a problem, just that it's much more recent than it might appear to be. I agree with hilzoy that the military has inflicted some damage on itself that needs to be repaired, and quickly, or else it's going to severely and negatively impact Guards recruiting. And my failure to respond within three hours of a post just might be due to putting down wood flooring than avoidance; typing with floor adhesive stuck to one's hands can make the keyboard a mess.

Expect more of the same, today. I may not be back. Good post, Edward. Oh, I forgot to address the "less safe" bit: I think that as far as you or I are concerned, our endeavors in Iraq have made little if any measureable difference in our safety.

"our endeavors in Iraq have made little if any measureable difference in our safety."

I feel more positive than that. In the Wolfowitizian Transformation program, the war in Iraq has moved us maybe 10% toward our goal. Should be 20-30%, but retarded due to bad management. What is our goal? Ideally, secular captialist democracy in the ME, but realistically, Islamic democracy is better than none at all, and oligarchy better than dictatorship. Will Allen over at Yglesias says we need to make the people of the ME in control and responsible for themselves and their resources. Reading Riverbend and Zeyad, Iraqis do not yet feel completely empowered by a longshot, but I think they feel more empowered, at least politically, than they were 5 years ago.

I consider crackdowns by Mubarak and Jordan and the assassination in Jordan as not positive events, but as positive signs of repressive regimes feeling pressure.

The new relationships of Russia & Syria, and China & Iran, are very bad things. The bucketloads of oil money SA and the other producers have been getting are bad things. The lack of seriousness Bushco showed in not moving to a war economy and military is a very bad thing. We have not scared or impressed our stronger enemies.

I would say we are 5% safer because of Afghanistan, 5% because of Iraq, and 5% "other". 4 years into a war (to compare, I would say we were 50% safer in 1943 than 1941, even tho 10s of thousands were soon to die), 15% safer is a despicable record.

As I said, "measurably". But that's an unfair um, metric: perhaps "noticeably" would have been more appropriate.

See, I lied. I did come back.

Are we safer?

I cannot resist this topic. Let me say at the outset that I believe the answer is "no," but I am going to try to lay out fairly the arguments I have seen. I am mostly leaving aside moral issues except as they relate to U.S. security.

Pro (safer):

1. We're fighting the terrorists over there so that we don't have to fight them here [inside the U.S.].

2. We're spreading democracy in an area of the world that will otherwise, if it remains undemocratic, generate terrorism and may arm terrorists with powerful weapons [the above-mentioned Wolfowitz analysis].

3. Combat experience strengthens our forces for future conflicts.

4. We have demonstrated to the world that we're willing to use our forces if we feel our security is threatened, however indirectly, with or without the approval of other nations.

Con (less safe):

1. We're creating more terrorists than we're killing.

2. The terrorists we're now fighting are not the same ones that really threaten us.

3. The costs:

  • lives of our troops,
  • weakened recruiting and reserves,
  • money that might be spent elsewhere more productively on security,
  • a military tied up in Iraq, hence less able to respond to other threats.

4. World opinion turned against the United States, making international cooperation against threats including terrorism more difficult.

Responding to the "pro" arguments

Pro (1) is the "flypaper strategy." It assumes that the enemy is stupid and will flock to fight us at a disadvantage to themselves. This may be true for some but surely not all, or even most.

The quick answer to Pro (2) was voiced in Control Room by the most west-friendly al-Jazeera character: "democratize or else we'll shoot you? That isn't going to work."

Pro (3) ignores the problem of loss of morale in a war where the troops cannot distinguish enemies from innocent civilians, as well as the costs in con (3). Then there's Abu Ghraib.

Pro (4) amounts to "Crazier than Thou," an op-ed penned by Thomas Friedman in February, 2002. The idea is that we have to show we're tough. As we have learned more about Iraq, this seems to be more and more crazy -- the regime we attacked was not a threat (imminent or otherwise), the cost is high, a positive outcome is far from certain, and meanwhile other threats are looming.

Further analysis:

The question I ask myself is, "what are the most serious threats we face?" Based on what I have read here and elsewhere, we will not all agree on the answer, but let me give my answer.

Although terrorism (especially from Islamists) is at the top of the public argument, and I agree that terrorists armed with powerful weapons are a serious threat, I think it is the weapons more than the specific people who threaten to use them. I acknowledge the rebuttal, "guns don't kill people -- people kill people," but hear me out.

Weapons technology, like all technology, continues to advance, becoming more lethal, more available, and cheaper. The world hasn't yet reached the point where individuals can easily acquire, say, nuclear weapons, but the trend line is clear and shows no sign of changing. Also, human nature, including the willingness to sacrifice one's life for a cause and to use means others might judge immoral, is unlikely to change.

To me it seems obvious that international cooperation, including the use of force when needed, is required to prevent catastrophic outcomes. The most extreme example is nuclear proliferation but other unpleasant scenarios are easy to imagine.

Are we heading toward or away from the goal of a world where use of powerful weapons is less likely, where wars are fewer, where terrorism is opposed by all nations?

I would say that generally we live in a more uncertain world than we did prior to 9/11 and things have become more uncertain still since the invasion of Iraq. Uncertainty is increasing and that is not good, not good for the security situation and not good for our economies.

Not good.

I would say that generally we live in a more uncertain world than we did prior to 9/11

I disagree. The terrorists have tried the same thing in 1993. The only difference is that they've failed to bring the buildings down. Who knows? Maybe if they used a bigger truck with more explosives that would've been our "9/11"?

Uncertainty is increasing and that is not good

The search for stability, a reading of what went on in the 1930s is always a good topic to research.

there were no nukes in the 1930's Timmy...stability has a different importance now, no?

Edward, well once again you hit the nail on the head, given the parameters of an asymetrical conflict, although it may not have been the intended message you sought.

Democratic states tend to be more stable than fascist ones, therefore while there is some instability in moving from a fascist state to a democratic state at the end of the day the overall situation is more stable in the long run.

Edward congrats on reinstating the "wise one".

Edward congrats on reinstating the "wise one".

What are you talking about? You were never de-instated.

Democratic states tend to be more stable than fascist ones, therefore while there is some instability in moving from a fascist state to a democratic state at the end of the day the overall situation is more stable in the long run.

Cite?

Really...what proof do we have of this? It strikes me as "sound" as the assumption in the early 20th century that the West was civilized.

"Democratic states tend to be more stable than fascist ones"

Stable? Most of the Arab League is relatively stable;Mubarrak has held power for what 18 years? I want economic growth and infrastructure with political liberalization a close second. Now whether there is a relation between democracy and economic productivity is another question. Hey, maybe democracy really ain't no good at all.

But there has never been a war between two countries each with a McDonalds. Or something.

Most of the Arab League is relatively stable

Is it?

Edward, cite, please pick up a world history book, anyone will do and then point out the last time to two democratic nations went to war. Then ask yourself how many military division do we have on the American-Canadian border?

Does bob mcmanus have a job


Does bob have a job and if so what is it?
   Bottom's up, the horn of plenty
Do you think he'll ever miss it?
   I will barrow you home
Do his friends or in-laws come to visit?
   Bottom's up, the horn of plenty
Does he sleep, you may inquisit
   Till they harrow us home

If bob saw a fog with a white dog in it
   Sail across the sea of wonder
Would he know how Bush will spin it
   Mast down, the Free
Can he type for more than a minute
   Swim across the sea of wonder
Will he find a point and pin it
   Waves above the Free

If bob hasn't read it, no one's read it
   Bottom's up, the cup of sorrow
If he hears a rumor, he won't spread it
   Till the cows come home
bob, take the news and lightly bread it
   May it not be full tomorrow
That I may not so much dread it
   Mad cows have come home

If god had a blog he'd have bob on it
   Shine bright, the star of liberty
Even days when he's got a small bat in his bonnet
   Till the grass comes home
bobscurer than the CVIIth Sonnet
   Shine bright, the star of freedom
He's a good guy, my oath upon it
   We will soon be home

Even days when he's got a small bat in his bonnet

God or Bob?

Stable? Most of the Arab League is relatively stable;Mubarrak has held power for what 18 years?

The Arab League has nothing on the various Asian regimes. Suharto in Indonesia, Marcos in the Philippines, the Burmese junta (Ne Win may have died but his reek lingers on)... the list goes on and on. And that's omitting the granddaddy of them all, the CCP, which may or may not count depending on how monolithic one chooses to perceive it.

Suharto in Indonesia, Marcos in the Philippines, the Burmese junta

I'm impressed with the historical comment, notwithstanding none of those regimes hold a candle to the PRC or North Korea when talking about Asia.

LJ God or Bob?

Silly, LJ, don cha know that God is a she....

Edward, cite, please pick up a world history book, anyone will do and then point out the last time to two democratic nations went to war.

This particular jubilant factoid has always struck me as interesting because I'm not sure what it actually means, "rah rah rah, goooooo Democracy!" aside. Part of the problem is that, for most of democracy's run (whatever that means) there've been relatively few nations that counted and therefore the issue isn't so much that "democratic nations don't go to war" it's that "democratic nations with meaningful force projection are so few and far between as to render the comparison statistically invalid". There's also the fragility of democracy to consider. Arguably the worst failure and greatest counter-example to this claim would be Hitler's Germany which had, by the time war actually broke out, ceased being a democracy. Nonetheless, it was a democracy at its inception in 1933; should it count on the grounds that it was a collapsed democracy that engaged in war or not count on the grounds that it wasn't a democracy when shots were fired in 1939?

[There's also the potential coincidence that Europe's been more peaceful the past fifty years than in the previous, I dunno, ever; and part of that came from a sense of incipient annihilation at the hands of the Soviet Union, thus creating the first continent-wide need for unification. How much of this peace was due to "democracy" and how much a sense of self-preservation? Hard to say, I'd imagine.]

All of which is a long way of saying: does anyone know of any studies of this claim by someone without an ideological axe to grind?

I'm impressed with the historical comment

I live to impress.

notwithstanding none of those regimes hold a candle to the PRC...

The PRC is run by the CCP. Hence my comment about "the granddaddy of them all".

...or North Korea when talking about Asia.

I didn't include North Korea because I'm not sure how autonomous Kim Il Sung really was until 1972. Prior to that year, I think one can make the argument that North Korea wasn't an independent polity and hence the Korean Worker's Party (I think that's the one) wasn't really a "regime" qua regime; it's only after he gets his equivalent of the Enabling Act through that Kim Il Sung truly becomes a despot in his own right. It's also debatable whether Kim Jong Il's particular brand of lunacy counts as the continuation of Kim Il Sung's legacy or, as the wags had it in 1994, whether it really was like watching "Stalin being succeeded by Caligula".

Anarch, you should have mentioned fascist Italy as well but usually when elections stop, a country is no longer a democracy.

If one considers Germany & Austria at the turn of the century democracies, I do but others don't, WW I would be my answer.

Leverage and related dividends

And while it took longer than my "best case" scenario, it is starting to move.

"There's also the potential coincidence that Europe's been more peaceful the past fifty years than in the previous, I dunno, ever"

Talking out of my hat here, but wasn't there a long period of peace on the continent between the Thirty Years War and the French Revolution? Proxy and imperialistic wars, because of remembrance of devastation and whatever?
....
And rilkefan, I am mostly retired, with some part-time programming/accounting/system analysis work, meaning I design reports and clean up the mess AP and AR make of GL, and liason between Financial and IS(calm down programmers at 2 AM mainframe crashes).

I work at home,and the nature of the job requires I am never far from a phone & computer(on call almost always, but called only a few times a week);sleep max 6 hours out of 24, rarely more than 4 at a stretch; moving and job changes and age seemed to have eliminated a social life, unless this counts. Yardwork and house work and shopping and dogwalks.

I didn't understand the rest of the poem.

Talking out of my hat here, but wasn't there a long period of peace on the continent between the Thirty Years War and the French Revolution?

Well you had the English Civil War.

The Netherlands and the English defeated the Spanish, Treaty of Hastings resulted I believe.

The French and the English fought in North America.

Peter the Great engaged the Swedes, a military power at the time, in Europe.

I probably missed a few conflicts like the Crimean War, but I'm not sure you would call that a European conflict, I just remember that John Paul Jones died in it.

Talking out of my hat here, but wasn't there a long period of peace on the continent between the Thirty Years War and the French Revolution? Proxy and imperialistic wars, because of remembrance of devastation and whatever?

No. Off the top of my head, that period includes the War of the Spanish Succession, the War of the Austrian Succession, and the Seven Years War, plus some others whose names I can't remember.

As for no democratic nations going to war, well which nations are democratic, and when did they become democratic? If there's no clear definition of democracy beforehand, the argument becomes a variant of "no true Scotsman".

Well, back in 1861 when we went to war with ourselves, we were (both?) a democracy. Now that I think of it, one could argue that Weimar Germany was at war with itself too, when it was a democracy.

"And rilkefan, I am mostly retired... I didn't understand the rest of the poem."

The most common misconception about poetry is that it's meant to be understood. And this is really just verse - an homage, but one meant to bring a smile, not convey information.

The most common misconception about poetry is that it's meant to be understood.

Freakin' jehosaphat...now you tell me!

I want all those years back!

person: As for no democratic nations going to war, well which nations are democratic, and when did they become democratic? If there's no clear definition of democracy beforehand, the argument becomes a variant of "no true Scotsman".

Well, yes. I think the point is to avoid having to admit that the United Nations has done what it was meant to do when it was founded, in 1945: it's saved the world from a devastating world war. Messing around with unprovable theories about "mature democracies don't go to war with each other" avoids having to look at the elephant in the corner. Still less be grateful to it.

And of course, these days, it's important for supporters of the war with Iraq to keep ignoring the elephant in the corner: because if it were openly acknowledged that the world owes sixty years without a world war to the UN, it would also have to be openly admitted that what a vile and idiotic thing it was for Bush & Co to openly defy the Security Council and invade Iraq without any legal sanction. If the UN is obsolete, world war becomes an option.

Did we forget about the Ottomans?

There was precious little peace in Europe in the period referred to. It was pretty much war punctuated by civil war and sundry rebellions. In hindsight, anyway, which admittedly tends to compress things a bit.

"Well, yes. I think the point is to avoid having to admit that the United Nations has done what it was meant to do when it was founded, in 1945: it's saved the world from a devastating world war."

No, what saved the world from a devastating world war was the invention of the atomic bomb.

"And of course, these days, it's important for supporters of the war with Iraq to keep ignoring the elephant in the corner: because if it were openly acknowledged that the world owes sixty years without a world war to the UN, it would also have to be openly admitted that what a vile and idiotic thing it was for Bush & Co to openly defy the Security Council and invade Iraq without any legal sanction."

No more "vile and idiotic" than for Saddam Hussein to ignore dozens of legal sanctions from the very same body. Had he been allowed to continue defying the Security Council with impunity, what do you think that would do to the ability of the UN to do, well, anything at all?

The bottom line is, the United Nations has no real power to prevent war or to do anything else at all - and I for one am damned grateful for that.

"Pro (1) is the "flypaper strategy." It assumes that the enemy is stupid and will flock to fight us at a disadvantage to themselves. This may be true for some but surely not all, or even most."

It's not stupid to go where the enemy is when he's on the offensive. What's stupid is ignoring the enemy offensive in favor of launching your own, unless you can crush him before he can crush you. Which the jihadis cannot do. So they're stuck responding to that "flypaper" - they have no good options left, just bad ones and really bad ones.

Ken: No, what saved the world from a devastating world war was the invention of the atomic bomb.

Do you really believe that? That if any country in the world had invented the atomic bomb - any one at all, including Nazi Germany or Japan - that, and that alone, would have saved the world from a devastating world war?

No more "vile and idiotic" than for Saddam Hussein to ignore dozens of legal sanctions from the very same body.

You will have to be specific about what legal sanctions you think Saddam Hussein ignored. AFAIK, the legal sanctions on Iraq were to do with WMD, which - as has been sufficiently established - were in fact obeyed.

Had he been allowed to continue defying the Security Council with impunity, what do you think that would do to the ability of the UN to do, well, anything at all?

Maybe it's just me, but I think that the US defying the Security Council with impunity - launching an illegal war of aggression on another country - is rather more devastating to the UN's authority that the pin-prick defiances of lesser countries - such as, for example, Israel. When the only superpower left standing makes it clear that it feels no obligation to obey international laws and treaties, what does that do to the status of those laws and treaties with the rest of the world?

So they're stuck responding to that "flypaper"

What makes you think that?

"There was precious little peace in Europe in the period referred to."

Ok, I'll but it completely, with a reminder to myself to read more history. Always.

But the question was why we have had 50 years of peace in Europe. The answer may be nukes, democracy, a bi-polar great power situation, whatever.

I am looking at the next 25-50 years. Seems we will not have a divided Europe, I can't imagine France and England going to war or heavy competition. So we have four great powers(USA,EU,Russia,China) all with strengths and weaknesses. I see no reason for this to change anytime soon. The US will retain military dominance but I think its relative economic dominance will decline badly. Russia and China will remain, really big, and are naturally more attracted to hegemony than say Japan. So, using history as a guide, will we have:

1)Direct military confrontation
2)Indirect military confrontation, using proxies and client states in the rim and middle east
3)No military confrontation at all, but simply economic,diplomatic, and soft power competition.

launching an illegal war of aggression on another country

What would an unaggressive war look like, I wonder?

And it's just downright baffling that you think that Hussein was compliant with UN resolutions and/or the ceasefire agreement.

Compliant Saddam was not, but buckle under severe pressure he did. If the intent of U.N. Security Council resolutions really was to prevent the threat of "weapons of mass destruction" in the hands of Saddam Hussein's regime, they worked. Before the war, Saddam acquiesced to genuine inspections. To be sure, he was still wriggling but he was on the hook.

Launching the Iraq war might be termed "failure snatched from the jaws of success." We may yet emerge with some kind of success but wouldn't it have been better without a war?

Did we forget about the Ottomans?

Doesn't everyone? ;)

Another point to consider: just because democracies sorta kinda tend not to war amongst themselves doesn't necessarily make them less warlike, it just means that they consider themselves traditional allies. Faced with a nation they consider beneath them, democracies are just as capable of pointlessly kicking ass and taking names. See, e.g., "two bald man fighting over a comb", aka the Falklands War. Or, more pointedly, see the various unofficial wars between the Americans and the Native Americans; even if you believe it was democide-by-accident, as I do, it was still a bloody and brutal series of acts by a democracy.

A third factor that never gets much credit is: look at where the democracies are physically located. True, the US/Canadian border is something of a minor miracle (since 1812, at any rate) but otherwise there really aren't that many democracies in proximity to one another. The largest cluster is in central Europe and there was a horrific war there... it's just that Germany had ceased being a democracy by the time war broke out. Of course, the takeover was sort of a popular one -- yes, yes, I know about the backdoor shenanigans with von Papen et al. -- so we're back to the definitional question once more.

And it's just downright baffling that you think that Hussein was compliant with UN resolutions and/or the ceasefire agreement.

Other than the failure to adequately document the proscribed substances, what did he not ultimately acquiesce to?

Slarti: What would an unaggressive war look like, I wonder?

See the "phoney war", 1939 - the UK declared war on Germany and then, er, nothing happened. ;-)

What I meant to say was, in the current war on Iraq, the US was the aggressor nation.

And it's just downright baffling that you think that Hussein was compliant with UN resolutions and/or the ceasefire agreement.

I repeat my request to Ken: show me how Saddam Hussein has been proved to be in defiance of which UN resolutions. Any reference to his possession of WMD will be disallowed due to considerations of reality.

Do you not count the ceasefire resolution as something Hussein ought to have been in compliance with?

But that's sort of beside the point. Let's just look at UN resolution 687:

8. Decides that Iraq shall unconditionally accept the destruction, removal, or rendering harmless, under international supervision, of:

(a) All chemical and biological weapons and all stocks of agents and all
related subsystems and components and all research, development, support and
manufacturing facilities;

(b) All ballistic missiles with a range greater than 150 kilometres and
related major parts, and repair and production facilities;

.
.
.

12. Decides that Iraq shall unconditionally agree not to acquire or develop nuclear weapons or nuclear-weapons-usable material or any subsystems o r components or any research, development, support or manufacturing facilities related to the above; to submit to the Secretary-General and the Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency within fifteen days of the adoption of the present resolution a declaration of the locations, amounts, and types of all items specified above; to place all of its nuclear-weapons-usable materials under the exclusive control, for custody and removal, of the International Atomic Energy Agency, with the assistance and cooperation of the Special Commission as provided for in the plan of the Secretary-General discussed in paragraph 9 (b) above; to accept, in accordance with the arrangements provided for in paragraph 13 below, urgent on-site inspection and the destruction, removal or rendering harmless as appropriate o f all items specified above; and to accept the plan discussed in paragraph 13 below for the future ongoing monitoring and verification of its compliance wit h these undertakings;

We've got video of Iraqis sneaking equipment specifically designed for refinement of nuclear materials out of a facility, shortly after UN inspectors began their work in Iraq. We also have documented occurrences of inspectors being denied access to facilities, and inspectors gaining access to documents but not being permitted to leave with them or with copies. If you really want a detailed account of Iraq's noncompliance, I suggest Google.

Hussein may in fact have destroyed his stockpiles and machinery for manufacturing chem/bio/nuclear weapons, but he was required to do so, by UN resolution, under international supervision.

Do you not count the ceasefire resolution as something Hussein ought to have been in compliance with?

I remain unclear how a resolution by the SC 12 years earlier can be asserted to justify an invasion in 2003. However, if you wish to outline your reasoning, or link to legal reasoning showing that it can, please do.

As for your other notes: I see. You're of the group that still believes, against all the evidence, that Iraq really did have WMD... in which case, Slarti, I bow out. If the Kay Report didn't convince you, I can't think what would.

It would appear, then, that claims that Saddam Hussein was in defiance of US resolutions are all entirely dependent on the belief that Iraq really did have WMD and the ability to produce them. That this is now a matter of faith, rather than fact, ought to be clear from the Kay Report.

I assume you mean "UN Resolutions." In any case -- and without reference to, judgement on, or otherwise any bearing towards whether it did or did not justify an invasion -- are you claiming both that 1) Hussein was not in violation of the 1992 ceasefire (pretty much continuously), and 2) the language in the resolutions concerning the circumstances under which Hussein was to dismantle his weapons programs was irrelevant, as long as he did it somehow? (I'd find this latter belief surprising, being, as you often are, quite hung up about the language in treaties and resolutions.)

Again, I'm not asking whether either of those things, alone or in combination, justifies invasion. I'm asking whether you believe them to be true.

Which Kay report, Jesurgislac? This testimony before Congress, where he in effect finds Hussein guilty of multiple infractions of UN resolutions?

Remember, Hussein was not only constrained from developing WMDs, he was commanded to hand over all materials pertaining to whatever such programs Iraq had at the time of cease-fire. Mentioning WMD stockpiles is, in this context, a change of subject.

We've got video of Iraqis sneaking equipment specifically designed for refinement of nuclear materials out of a facility, shortly after UN inspectors began their work in Iraq.

Are you talking about the calutrons here?

Yes, of course. But even the keeping of UN inspectors out of the facility in question until said items were removed was in violation of 687.

Yes, of course. But even the keeping of UN inspectors out of the facility in question until said items were removed was in violation of 687.

Then do you know of any violations of the relevant resolutions (other than the documentation, to which I alluded above) in the relevant time-frame?

Aside from the entire PBS special on the subject? Aside from repeated violations of the no-fly zones? Not offhand. But, armed with Google, I might be able to come up with more. Are you looking for some critical mass of material?

I think there can be little doubt that Saddam was violating the spirit and technically the letter of the law. But was he driving 71 mph in a 70 mph zone? Did he hit 80 for 2 seconds while passing a slow semi or a weaving driver? I think if the US had shown better faith in the inspectors and cooperated with the rest of the world these issues could have been resolved.

I think if the US had shown better faith in the inspectors and cooperated with the rest of the world these issues could have been resolved.

Amen.

But then making him comply with the Resoultions was only the excuse for the invasion, not the reason.

But was he driving 71 mph in a 70 mph zone?

Lacking a radar gun, we'll never know. But that's a completely different subject, and, you know, irrelevant. Or a bad analogy, take your pick.

I think if the US had shown better faith in the inspectors and cooperated with the rest of the world these issues could have been resolved.

The same inspectors who were unable to access information and sites that Hussein was obliged to allow them access to? For me, the issue wasn't so much the inspectors as it was the degree of cooperation of the inspectees.

But then making him comply with the Resoultions was only the excuse for the invasion, not the reason.

I'm sorry, Edward, do you have another data point, other than the reason given?

Seems like there has been a shifting of the goal posts in this discussion. When the Bush administration found they were having a tough time selling the war in Iraq it wasn't the stupid neologism of "WMDs" used to sell the war, it was mushroom clouds and reconstituted nuclear programs. I was pretty much with the Bush administration up until then. The evidence was against them at the time but I decided to wait and see. It is now clear that they were lying about it at the time and knew they were lying about it at the time.

Really what else is there to be said?

P.S. Oh yah this thread was originaly about whether the war made us less safe. So far the best conservatives can claim is that it didn't make much difference. I think we may have to wait and see, but if we end up with a bunch of Islamic democracies in the region some of whom distribute nuclear weapons to terrorist groups using cutouts for plausible deniability I know who I'm blaming.

Already, the Kay Report identified dozens of weapons of mass destruction-related program activities and significant amounts of equipment that Iraq concealed from the United Nations.
President Bush, State of the Union Address, January 2004.

Ah, yes, "WMD-related program activities." Thank goodness we're safe from those. [/sarcasm]

I'm stepping in late here because the story just hasn't blown my skirt up. Edward, you're taking one data point--the missing of a one-month quota for the first time in a decade--in order to make an Olympic-proportioned leap that our country is less safe because we removed Saddam. Whatever. We don't hear until the seventh paragraph of the NYT article this:

At issue is the Marines' decision to rebuild its recruiting ranks, which had fallen recently to 2,410 full-time recruiters from 2,650 before the Iraq war, as commanders siphoned off marines who had been scheduled for recruiting duty to perform combat duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"The recruiting force atrophied," said Maj. David M. Griesmer, a spokesman for the Marine Corps Recruiting Command. "Now we need to get back up to where we need to be." Major Griesmer said the Marines would add nearly 250 recruiters between now and October 2006.

Well, duh. It stands to reason that if you cut your recruiting force by 10% that you're going to end with fewer recruits. It also stands to reason that when you're in a war it's better to have a higher percentage of experienced Marines than those fresh out of boot camp, so you give incentives to the ones who've been there.

Did the removal of Saddam make the U.S. and the world safer? Probably, but we won't know definitively until the security situation improves in Iraq. Given recent events, the removal of Saddam has made the world freer.

Edward, you're taking one data point--the missing of a one-month quota for the first time in a decade--in order to make an Olympic-proportioned leap that our country is less safe because we removed Saddam.

Not at all.

I'm taking the fact that in a time of war the recruiters in the most celebrated division of our armed forces are meeting reluctance from parents in a nation that seemingly only superficially supports the troops because the leadership is waging the war so incompetently. This reluctance bespeaks of a national misgiving and THAT makes us less safe.

Like I wrote, during WWII you couldn't beat the men away who WANTED to sign up.

Given recent events, the removal of Saddam has made the world freer.

Not for the thousands of innocents who died, it hasn't. The world doesn't exist at all for them.

Charles, this is hardly the first report of recruiting problems.

...which would make a link all that much more handy, ral.

"I anticipate that fiscal year '05 will be very challenging for both active and reserve component recruiting," Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a House Appropriations subcommittee Feb. 17.

"Army Having Difficulty Meeting Goals In Recruiting," Washington Post, Feb 21, 2005.

Members of Congress also are expressing concern, especially about the National Guard and reserves. Their recruiting has become more difficult in recent months as they have taken on more of the burden of the Iraq occupation. The Guard and reserves make up about 40 percent of the 146,000 U.S. troops there.

"Fewer Army Recruits Lined Up", Washington Post, July 22, 2004

The Army National Guard will fall 5,000 soldiers short of its recruiting goal this year, in part because fewer in the active-duty force are switching to part-time service, knowing how frequently Guard units are being dispatched to war zones, the Guard's top general said Thursday.

"National Guard Recruiting Lags", CBS News, Sept. 24, 2004

This reluctance bespeaks of a national misgiving and THAT makes us less safe.

Edward, the NYT article quoted a recruiter who said "the parents have always been the challenge." Dropping the number of recruiters by 10% and then finding that fewer recruits sign up does not support your unfounded quantum leap that there is "national misgiving".

ral, consider your first link. The Army does indeed have recruiting challenges. They're creating new brigades of 3,500 to 4,000 soldiers and they're expanding the sizes of existing ones. However, in FYE 2004, the U.S. met its recruiting goals, rendering your older links obsolete (the article did mention that they fell short on Army and Air National Guard slots).

Bottom line, the recruitment situation isn't peachy and there are plenty of challenges ahead, but this "sky is falling" "national misgiving" hyperbole is unrealistic.

Charles: unlike you, I'm quite worried, in part because of conversations I've had with military people, which I said a bit about last time I wrote about this. I've talked to people who are quite worried, and who are in a better position than I am to know.

but this "sky is falling" "national misgiving" hyperbole is unrealistic.

You added "sky is falling." I calmly suggested this represents a problem. I do think there are national misgivings, though. Again, the OTHER quote in that article:

[Parents] are saying, 'It's not maybe a bad idea to join the Marine Corps, but why don't you consider it a year from now, or two years from now; let's think about this.' "

If this represented a continuous issue, then why the year-to-two-year delay? Isn't that simply speculation on the Iraq war?

I did not write "the sky is falling." To me these reports indicate there is a problem. "They met their FY 2004 goals" is not much reassurance given other reports.

Recruiting is only one area of concern. You can read my detailed views above in this thread.

Ral, the "sky is falling" reference was to Edward, not you.

Not for the thousands of innocents who died, it hasn't. The world doesn't exist at all for them.

True. Yet the fact remains that the world is freer after Saddam's removal, as are the millions in Iraq. A freer, more democratic world is a safer world.

Not again. Italics off.

Ral, the "sky is falling" reference was to Edward, not you.

A reference to Edward? Where did Edward say the sky is falling? You used quotation marks, so obviously you are quoting someone...M. Homme de Paille, perhaps?

the fact remains that the world is freer after Saddam's removal

Do you always declare a winner before the horses have even reached the home stretch? There's every reason in the world at this point to expect a strongman as obnoxious as Hussein, or worse, could emerge as Iraq's leader. What are we going to do if one does, dissolve the government and start all over?

"You used quotation marks, so obviously you are quoting someone.."

It's perfectly acceptable -- if at times confusing, and thus something to stop and think about before doing -- to use quotation marks to refer to a cliche or frequently used phrase without quoting any specific person.

Bird Dog:Yet the fact remains that the world is freer after Saddam's removal, as are the millions in Iraq. A freer, more democratic world is a safer world.

I am glad Saddam Hussein is out of power and in custody.

Whether the people of Iraq will judge that it was worth the cost (their cost) and thank us in the end is an open question. As Edward points out, many are dead.

Whether it could have been accomplished at a lower cost is the question I pose. See The Atlantic Monthly, May, 2002, Tales of the Tyrant (payment required).

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