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July 17, 2007

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It's probably even worse: I doubt any *Republican* candidate claims to have "the perfect solution for Iraq."

Applebaum is a liar, and a bad one. She needs a gig at Fox, or the Washington Times.

hilzoy -

Many thanks for doing this legwork, and for including the passages you cite here. I appreciate knowing where the candidates stand on this.

I don't think I've read anything of Applebaum's before, so I have no real opinion on whether she's right-wing, left-wing, or no-wing.

The impression I take away from her op-ed, linked to above, is that she has little or nothing insightful or useful to say, but she still has to write a column because that's what she does for a living.

Thanks again, I appreciate the quote, especially those of Obama and Richardson.

Sort of topically, Joe Wilson just endorsed Clinton, reportedly saying:

On Iraq Joe said, (as close as I can remember) that both he and Hillary agree "that troops need to be removed from harm's way, and that a political process had to be started, a process that would end the war and preserve some shred of our strategic position in the region [Middle East]." and that we need to put together a dilomatic process like we did after the first Gulf War.

He said we need to support the troops by engaging in diplomacy - that withdrawal risks plunging the region into instability.

Sort of topically
Er, typically?

Isn't this kind of standard "no one else has thought about these issues as deeply as I have" punditry? I mean, how many more years must we go on while these people wring their hands over the complexity of it all? They write these things as if the war started yesterday.

More to the point, what is missing is the recognition that every single one of these plans contains the seeds of potential disaster, even catastrophe.

No, what is missing is the recognition that we are dealing with a disaster, even a catastrophe, that is already well underway and has been for quite some time. Of course nobody's plan can avert a disaster. The best we hope for now is a slightly-less-disasterous disaster.

"Er, typically?"

I don't know why Wilson wouldn't have endorsed somebody else - afaict there's not a big range of foreign policies among the leading Dems. Maybe HRC's views most clearly mirror his, but if he'd just endorsed Obama wouldn't you have said, "Oh, he's just trying to make a splash" or something?

Anyway, I quoted him because he's in the "withdrawal risks instability" (rhetorical?) camp, apparently paralleling HRC, which is sort of convenient.

Wilson got himself into a spat with the Bush Administration over a dodgy Iraqi nuclear weapons dossier, but he's firmly planted within the elite Centrist power structure. Just like HRC is.

So maybe Joseph Wilson's endorsement of Hillary Clinton is as typical for those types as Hillary Clinton's vote in favor of authorizing the war was.

"I don't think I've read anything of Applebaum's before, so I have no real opinion on whether she's right-wing, left-wing, or no-wing."

She's a terrific scholar of the Soviet Union, and her works in that area, and on the history of the Gulag, are very much worth reading and respecting.

Because of that, she has a strong human rights streak, which seems to be the primary base of her politics. Beyond that, she married the Defense Minister of Poland a while back, and has been living in Poland in the past year. Her expertise doesn't seem to particularly extend further than the history of the Soviet Union (it's possible I'm being unfair here, and I don't claim to have examined her career in exhaustive detail), and I regard her commentary on other topics as more and more questionable the further she gets from that one.

She doesn't seem at all qualified to speak to the politics of of the United States. My impression is that it isn't so much that she's particularly right-wing, but a) was understandably influenced by people engaging in apologetics for the Soviet Union in the past; and b) is somewhat gullible and ill-informed about U.S. politics, and issues extending from them.

Others have different views, to be sure.

"The impression I take away from her op-ed, linked to above, is that she has little or nothing insightful or useful to say, but she still has to write a column because that's what she does for a living."

She doesn't, but on a personal level, it's a nice gig, and it's understandable she wouldn't voluntarily pledge to never use it. She was actually technically on sabbatical, last I looked, since she moved to Poland, and only writing sporadic columns for the Post of late, although that might have changed while I wasn't looking. In my opinion, while she's written a fair amount of dumb-ass stuff that I disagreed with or had problems with, or in a few cases, found worthless, she's also written some good columns in the past, at times, enough that I wouldn't condemn her as a columnist wholeheartedly (I certainly think judging any columnist by only a few columns, let alone only one, verges on the ridiculous, but that's me), while I also wouldn't weep if she decided to keep to books.

In other words, there are better columnists, but there are also far worse. She's no Mona Charen, say, or as bad as almost anyone on FrontPage, etc. Low bar, to be sure.

"Er, topically?"

"Topically" is perfectly apropos: do you not like the word?

I don't see how "typically" would work there, though: it would change the intended meaning, and "typically" would be a value judgment about Wilson whose basis isn't visible to me, though it certainly may be to you.

I'll check out the Applebaum article. Actually, I stopped over here to drop off this post for a little fact-checking:

http://burkeanreflections.blogspot.com/2007/07/radicalized-by-radicals.html

Have at it! And thanks a bunch!

DD: There aren't all that many facts to check, since so much of it is exegesis of a comment thread that I don't have any deep desire to read for myself. I will note a few things:

First, you cite, apparently in agreement, someone who writes:

"Having been indoctrinated in the postcolonialist, self-loathing school of multiculturalism, I thought America was the root of all evil in the world. Its democratic form of government and capitalist economic system was nothing more than a machine in which citizens were forced to be cogs."

Personally, I never believed any such thing, nor can I easily imagine how anyone would. (Especially not anyone who had spent much time outside the US.) The cause of some bad things? Yes. Even big bad things? I suppose it all depends on how big "big" is, but offhand, I would count, say, our '80s interventions in Guatemala and El Salvador in that category. (Also the war in Iraq, but the author seems to be talking about events before then, so I assume that wouldn't have been among the evils s/he believed America was the root of.) But the root of all bad things? How could anyone believe that?

The author also says (in a part you don't quote) that s/he "wrote off all Republicans as ignorant, intolerant yahoos. It didn't matter that I knew none personally; it was simply de rigueur to look down on such people." Again, that's just a crazy way to think, it seems to me.

When I hear people say things like that about their previous beliefs, it makes me think that one of two things is probably true: either their views at the time were devoid of any kind of intellectual depth or complexity, or they are caricaturing their past views for some reason. Neither possibility inclines me to take them as intellectual guides.

Second: you write:

"I cannot forget the spewing hatred leveled at me even for even linking to the White House, not to mention my show of support for the American military. It was like being spat upon, only verbally."

I'm sorry that happened, but also puzzled. I link to the White House a lot, and have made lots of shows of support for the American military without any such reaction, even though the commenters here lean left.

Third: You write: "I too have been radicalized by the radicals." For my part, I take it as a given that there are good and bad people on many sides of many issues. If I allowed my own views to be determined by a determination not to embrace any side of any issue on which there were shallow or stupid or vile people, I don't think I would have any views at all. The experiences you describe have, on your account, moved you to the right; you might with equal justice have been moved to the left by reflection on Ann Coulter or the militia movement.

Far better, I think, to try to make up your mind on your own. If you look for a position all of whose adherents are wise and perceptive and generous and decent, you will be looking for a long time.

rilkefan: I don't know why Wilson wouldn't have endorsed somebody else - afaict there's not a big range of foreign policies among the leading Dems.

Gary: I don't see how "typically" would work there, though: it would change the intended meaning, and "typically" would be a value judgment about Wilson whose basis isn't visible to me, though it certainly may be to you.

Sorry, too cryptic. Clinton buys these endorsements.

Not that others don’t – but she can be rather blatant about it. Joe Wilson loves the spotlight etc. HRC needs support from the netroots - who better to provide that than Wilson?

The payoff? Wilson was promised a (prominent) position in HRC’s administration. You heard it here first.

Joe Wilson loves the spotlight etc.

I think that this is probably not true. Given his druthers, he'd probably have preferred to have remained relatively anonymous in Washington diplomatic circles rather than have this wife's undercover CIA identity revealed to the world. But perhaps you know him better than the rest of us.

who better to provide that than Wilson?

That's not really how Democratic politics works.

CC: But perhaps you know him better than the rest of us.

Not nearly as well I’m sure. It’s just that he has been rather hard to avoid these last few years, even if you wanted to. Not all of his appearances were exactly compelled by subpoena as I recall.

That's not really how Democratic politics works.

Seriously? Who does the netroots love more than Joe Wilson? You don’t believe this endorsement will help her standing in their eyes? Or you don’t believe there is a payoff here?

From Clinton's speech last night (as reported in the NYT):

"There are no good answers," Mrs. Clinton said in a speech delivered before dawn. "Anyone who stands here and believes that he or she has the truth, the facts, and understands both what is going on and what is likely to flow from whatever decision we take, is most probably to be proven wrong by reality as it unfolds."

OCSteve: It’s just that he has been rather hard to avoid these last few years, even if you wanted to.

.....

His wife's career was destroyed, and an unknown but clearly significant amount of damage done to US national security, apparently because Dick Cheney didn't like Joseph Wilson telling the awkward truth about the lies the Bush administration had been telling.

And you think Joseph Wilson getting very publicly mad about this is because he "loves the spotlight"? I think this is the kind of emotional reasoning that leads to your argument that if you were Iraqi, and the US invaded, you wouldn't even think about fighting back for at least five years. I didn't believe you then, and I don't believe now that if someone decided to casually shatter you (hypothetical) wife's career for political revenge, you'd just shyly sit in a corner with your head down because fighting back might get you media attention, and that would be the last thing you'd want.

Good grief.

OC, in fact Wilson was always a centrist Democrat, who contributed to a fair no. of Republicans. His endorsement of Hillary is part & parcel of that.

Gosh, OCSteve, it makes me almost WISH for George Bush to publically kill my wife's career and have his minions accuse me of treason!

You make it sound so enjoyable.

Seriously, man -- take a step back and think about what you're claiming in full context.

It’s just that he has been rather hard to avoid these last few years, even if you wanted to. Not all of his appearances were exactly compelled by subpoena as I recall.

Well, no, but it's not like he was out there shouting, "Hey, it's me, Joe Wilson! Everybody look over here! I'm doing stuff!" He was trying to highlight both how the White House had lied in the SOTU and how they had blown his wife's CIA cover.

As for this netroots thing . . . if you're thinking this is going to get her support in the primaries, I'm not in a position to say, but they're going to vote for the Democratic candidate no matter what in 2008, so you tell me what the payoff is here.

All – fine and good. I’ll revisit when a) it changes some minds in the netroots community and b) we hear Wilson will have a prominent position in an HRC administration.

"Joe Wilson loves the spotlight etc."

I do agree that this involves mindreading; so far as I can see, about the only act I'm aware of that would possibly warrant it would be the fancy photo in -- was it Vanity Fair? -- that was the first public photo of Plame, for which the Wilsons received money, and which made an unrecognizable Plame look Hollywoodish.

(And for which they received endless tarring in the convervative blogs and press for a variety of reasons, most particularly the completely insane one that it ostensibly showed that Plame didn't care about security, so she obviously wasn't undercover, thus revealing that anyone saying this appears to lack awareness of "cause and effect" and "time.")

But that seems like a slim reed to say that Wilson has a love of publicity, in the context of his career and life. He's the guy who President George H. W. Bush pinned a medal on in the Oval Office, after Wilson personally faced down Saddam Hussein prior to Gulf War 1. He's the guy who spent 20 years before that serving our country in the diplomatic corp: if he were such a glory-hound publicity seeker, you'd have heard of him then.

The fact that few people ever heard of him until after Dick Cheney did his thing -- well, how does that fit into the "fact" that "Joe Wilson loves the spotlight etc."?

Is it, in fact, a true description of Joe Wilson in the year 2002? In the year 2001? In the year 2000? In the year 1999? Was he out trying to destroy Republicans and keep G. W. Bush from being elected? No? Why not?) How about Joe Wilson in 1998? 1997? 1996? Was he attacking Bob Dole and praising the Clintons? Why not? How about 1995? 1994? 1993? 1992? Etc., etc., etc., if you like etc.

The guy started in the diplomatic corps in 1976. There's no evidence he has a record of undue publicity seeking, is there? Or is there? If there is, I'd like to know what it is.

Beyond that, it's hardly unusual for retired or active diplomats and Ambassadors to write op-eds or be involved in politics: the number of Republicans who fit that category is in the hundreds, possibly even more: Anne Armstrong, some guy named "George Bush," Jeanne Kirkpatrick, Howard Baker, Michael Armacost, on and on.

Obviously Wilson enraged and threatened Dick Cheney, and the tar machine went into typical action, but outside of the effects of that, the only unusual thing about Joe Wilson, setting aside the extraordinary events of 1991, seems to be that he was inadvertently caught up events out of control when he was asked to go to Niger, and that's about that.

But if there's evidence of his being unusually political or publicity-seeking, and thus dubious, prior to Dick Cheney launching all-out war on him, I'd like to know what it is.

If there's a good case that Republicans made prior to 2001 that Joe Wilson was in somewhat a dubious fellow, that would be all that's necessary to convince me. Absent evidence of that, I'm unclear why anyone would be convinced: where's the evidence from before Cheney's assault?

Seriously? Who does the netroots love more than Joe Wilson?
That's like saying, "Who does the Republican base love more than Monica Lewinsky? Her endorsement would rocket McCain to the top!"
"That's like saying, "Who does the Republican base love more than Monica Lewinsky? Her endorsement would rocket McCain to the top!
This doesn't strike me as an apposite analogy.

All – fine and good. I’ll revisit when a) it changes some minds in the netroots community and b) we hear Wilson will have a prominent position in an HRC administration.

Yes, I can't see any reason Hillary would want to employ such a dastardly man. It's not like he has any experience as an Ambassador, has any Middle East experience, has worked for the government in any high-level capacity, or really done anything more than leech off his wife's fame.

The right-wing obsession with Wilson has gone past creepy. In 2002, if you'd have even known his name, you'd have praised him to the high hills for his tenure as Ambassador in Iraq during the first Gulf War -- now, because he's rightly angry over a petty and damaging act of political revenge, he's suddenly the most venal of men.

I suggest you rethink Wilson in light of what we now know of the past several years, and in light if his 30 years of service. I think you're still responding from some outdated talking points and not reality at this point.

John Edwards in March 2007 talking to Think Progress:

FAIZ: Senator Edwards, you’ve had an Iraq redeployment plan for a quite a while now. It seems that one of the last strawmen the right has is what happens when we leave. [They say] chaos will erupt, that’s why we can’t do it. What’s your response to that specific argument about what happens when we leave?

JOHN EDWARDS: Well, first of all, anything could happen no matter what we do, and we need to start by being honest about that. Second, I think we have to prepare. As we’re orderly — in an orderly way redeploying out of Iraq, we need to engage the Iranians and the Syrians into this effort to help secure Iraq. We need to maintain a presence in the region, already have troops in Kuwait, we need to have a presence in the Persian Gulf, naval presence in the Persian Gulf. We’ll probably need to put some troops into Afghanistan, although most troops will be able to come home. And then I think over the long term we have to prepare for the worst, which we haven’t been doing until now, which is we have to have a plan for containment in the event that things go in the wrong direction. We have to do this in a smart, responsible way. But at the end of the day, the Iraqis have to decide whether they’re going to reach a political reconciliation between Sunni and Shia. Without that, there cannot be peace in Iraq.

People – I was making a prediction.

HRC needs some love from the netroots. Wilson is a hero of the netroots. HRC buys endorsements. Those are the closest things to facts in my original comment that I can at least partially substantiate. If you want to pick my comment apart and challenge me then go after those points.

Based on that, my prediction is that Wilson has been promised a prominent position in her administration. It is speculation, a prediction. If it comes to pass I may say “See – told ya so.” That and $1.35 will get me a cup of coffee.

On Wilson and the spotlight – that is entirely my opinion. It is not something you can disprove or refute. Opinions are like that. In this case my opinion is based on Vanity Fair, attendance at the Kos get together and other appearances, and his apparent (to me) knack of getting back into the news cycle whenever he’s been out of it for too long. Regardless of the man’s past history, my opinion of him now is that he has very much enjoyed the spotlight these last few years and now seeks it out.

From that I get ten fairly serious responses… So who is it that might have the Wilson “obsession”?

OCSteve,

"HRC needs some love from the netroots. Wilson is a hero of the netroots. HRC buys endorsements. Those are the closest things to facts in my original comment that I can at least partially substantiate."

I strongly suspect that Hillary's recent response to Bill O'Reilly's attack on Daily Kos earned her far more "love from the netroots" than Wilson's endorsement. My observations of the netroots leads me to think that they are more outraged by Joe Wilson's dealings with the Bush Administration, and what it says about the Administration's priorities with respect to national security, than believe that his endorsement should be a significant factor in choosing a candidate in the Democratic primary.

OCSteve: we hear Wilson will have a prominent position in an HRC administration

Aside from what everyone else has said, you do realize that the last President to speak positively and favorably about Joseph Wilson was George Bush I?

On Wilson and the spotlight – that is entirely my opinion. It is not something you can disprove or refute.

We can, however, point out that you appear to be basing your opinion on Republican netroots prejudice against Joseph Wilson, rather than on anything you yourself know about Wilson that's factually true.

From that I get ten fairly serious responses… So who is it that might have the Wilson “obsession”?

I've noticed here that when someone says something fairly ridiculous, that many people will respond and point out -- with varying degrees of gentleness -- the ridiculousness of that response.

Yet I don't think that proves the respondees are the ones with the ridiculous viewpoints.

Your opinion of Wilson is unsupported by the bulk of his life, and seems to be formed entirely from the right-wing talking points, and entirely impervious to the slightest second thought.

I suppose, five or ten years from now when it's all moot, you might reconsider.

I suppose, five or ten years from now when it's all moot, you might reconsider.

Actually, I suspect to be vindicated in five to ten years if/when all details are known. As to the talking points – well, I’m just not going to go there here. I promised Jes a TiO thread on it someday, but I’m not up to it today.

Er, suspect = expect

Actually, I expect to be vindicated in five to ten years if/when all details are known.

Aw, now you're just trolling us. (I had a long comment responding to this, before it occurred to me that it was impossible to take this "expectation" of yours seriously. So you get at least half a point for the troll.)

I have no thought whatsoever about whether or not Wilson is some sort of publicity hound. The tenor of the time and his connection to certain events make it likely that people would seek him out so long as he was extremely averse to the public eye.

I believe he misstated the case about the Niger. It is clear that he found evidence for the proposition that for whatever reason, Saddam was seeking access to uranium from the Niger in the late 1990s. He knew that two high level Iraqi officials (one being intimately connected with the nuclear program and not particularly connected with goat trading) made two separate trips to the Niger. He knows that they claimed to be trade negotiations. He knows that the Niger has very little to trade other than uranium. He knows that the Prime Minister who met with these officials interpreted the meetings as sniffing around for a way to conduct uranium sales. He knows that it would have been illegal for Iraqi officials to directly propose such trade. He knows that when the Prime Minister made it clear that no uranium trading would be considered, the 'trade' meetings ended. He knows that the 'trade' meetings did not end up in actual trade.

I know people prefer smoking guns, but that is exactly the kind of evidence I'd expect to see from high level envoys feeling people out for something illegal which would have disasterous diplomatic implications if they were definitively caught.

He characterized that publically as being no evidence of interest in procuring uranium from the Niger.

For that reason, I hope Wilson does not actually get any particularly influential job under any future President.

Sebastian: He characterized that publically as being no evidence of interest in procuring uranium from the Niger.

No, he didn't. Yes, many right-wingers claimed that's what he said, but if you actually read the original op-ed you'll find that your second paragraph is a far more accurate summary of what he actually said.

Given that What I Didn't Find In Africa is publicly available for anyone to go check right-wing lies against reality, why do so many conservatives just forget to do the fact-checking?

Maybe I won't have to wait 5 years...

A federal judge today dismissed a lawsuit filed by former CIA officer Valerie Plame and her husband against Vice President Cheney and top administration officials over the disclosure of Plame's name and covert status to the media.

U.S. District Judge John D. Bates said that Cheney and White House aides cannot be held liable for the disclosure of information about Plame in the summer of 2003 while they were trying to rebut criticism of the administration's war efforts levied by her husband, former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV. The judge said such efforts were certainly part of the officials' scope of normal duties.

"The alleged tortious conduct, namely the disclosure of Mrs. Wilson's status as a covert operative, was incidental to the kind of conduct that defendants were employed to perform," Bates wrote in an opinion released this afternoon.

Given that What I Didn't Find In Africa is publicly available for anyone to go check right-wing lies against reality, why do so many conservatives just forget to do the fact-checking?

Joseph Wilson said:

I was not surprised, then, when the ambassador told me that she knew about the allegations of uranium sales to Iraq — and that she felt she had already debunked them in her reports to Washington. Nevertheless, she and I agreed that my time would be best spent interviewing people who had been in government when the deal supposedly took place, which was before her arrival.

It's unclear, then, who's had this misconception that a sale occurred: Ambassador Owens-Kirkpatrick, or Joseph Wilson. Furthermore, it's unclear who is claiming that a deal took place: the administration, or someone else.

I've got nothing on Joe Wilson where unclarity is concerned.

Or maybe I've once again missed something, and something of the sort was actually alleged. Or, equally likely, Wilson actually meant something slightly different, and I'm being fanatically literal in interpreting him.

Or possibly some third possibility that I've yet to consider. I dunno; you tell me.

Even the Bush administration, whom you believe lies about nearly everything, said that Saddam SOUGHT uranium from the Niger, not that he HAD ACTUALLY COMPLETED SUCH A TRANSACTION.

Wilson later admitted to finding all sorts of evidence that Saddam sought uranium from the Niger. Consdering that France, Germany and Russia had been pushing to *end sanction* less than a year before, Saddam's post-sanction intentions as suggested by *seeking* uranium were highly relevant.

His op-ed did not mention that evidence.

Slartibartfast: It's unclear, then, who's had this misconception that a sale occurred: Ambassador Owens-Kirkpatrick, or Joseph Wilson. Furthermore, it's unclear who is claiming that a deal took place: the administration, or someone else.

I didn't find it at all unclear, but then I did actually read What I Didn't Find In Africa, rather than picking out a paragraph at random and claiming that this paragraph, treated as a unit all by itself, is "unclear".

Random? Sure, it's random if you're determined to avoid completely the part where the administration is misrepresented or some inconsequential party is corrected.

Again: hard to tell which.

Oops, dismissed.

Even the Bush administration, whom you believe lies about nearly everything, said that Saddam SOUGHT uranium from the Niger, not that he HAD ACTUALLY COMPLETED SUCH A TRANSACTION.

And given that the Bush administration knew that they had no evidence that Saddam Hussein had ever succeeded in completing such a transaction - beyond a dodgy British dossier and documents later shown to be forged - why do you suppose Bush found it necessary to mention it as a justification for invading Iraq? That's the background, in case you've forgotten: this was a statement Bush made in SOTU 2003 when building a case for invading Iraq.

What is it about Wilson that makes the conservatives so nuts?

It's like a red flag to a bull.

Sure, it's random if you're determined to avoid completely the part where the administration is misrepresented or some inconsequential party is corrected.

Which part would that be? So far, you've cited a random paragraph which is perfectly clear when read in context.

I was gobsmacked to read Armbinder at the Atlantic on the press's view of Edwards and Romney. The whole fact-checking thing is too little too late.

What is it about Wilson that makes the conservatives so nuts?

He spoke the awkward truth, and embarrassed Bush and Cheney, and when they punished him for it by destroying his wife's career, that destruction came back and embarrassed both Bush and Cheney even more. Really, I think it makes conservatives so nuts because the Bush administration's behavior towards Joseph Wilson and Valerie Plame is indefensible - therefore conservatives must try to believe that Wilson and Plame were somehow in the wrong.

Even the Bush administration, whom you believe lies about nearly everything, said that Saddam SOUGHT uranium from the Niger, not that he HAD ACTUALLY COMPLETED SUCH A TRANSACTION.

But here's where you go wrong, Seb.

When it comes to Bush and the "sixteen words," you're willing to strictly credit the literal meaning of those words, while ignoring the clear implication those words were intended to create with the public. The administration was not trying to persuade the public that Iraq had a couple random contacts with Niger 5 years previously. They were trying to create the impression that Saddam was on the brink of starting a nuclear program. Never mind that Saddam had no ability to refine yellowcake, never mind that he already had more yellowcake than he knew what to do with, facts which made the existence or non-existence of the Niger contacts completely irrelevant to the big picture.

But when it comes to Wilson's op-ed, you have a completely different standard. Now it no longer matters that the words were literally true, that there had in fact been no completed sale. Now it's all about the supposedly unfair implication, the attempt to suggest that Bush was lying. Now all of a sudden the context matters.

Let's play your version out a little further. You claim:

1) Bush only claimed Saddam had sought uranium;
2) Saddam had, in fact, sought uranium; and
3) That fact is highly relevant to the issue of Saddam's intentions and the case for war.

Am I wrong that you claim all of these things?

Okay, so now Wilson tries to muddy the waters by saying there was no evidence of a completed sale. Let's step into the administration's shoes and think about what would be an effective pushback, in your scenario.

Gosh, how about - pointing out that Bush never said there was a completed sale, and thus the whole Wilson op-ed was a red herring?

If everything you say is valid, that would have been a conclusive and devastating pushback. Yet it didn't happen. Instead we got all this leak crap about Wilson's wife.

I'd be interested to hear your answer as to why the administration never attempted this sort of argument in response. Here's my version - focusing on the fact that Bush only used the word "sought" would have given away the game, since Bush was clearly trying to imply something much more dire than the notion that there had been a couple failed contacts between Iraq and Niger 5 years previously. It would have highlighted the fact that the Iraqi nuclear program was a total nullity.

They couldn't respond by clarifying the "sought" point because the notion of "sought," standing alone, was completely useless in terms of building a case for war. If you were right that the question of what Saddam "sought" during the 90s was highly relevant, then the administration definitely would have made that point the focus of their pushback.

Oops, dismissed.

Wait, this judge has ruled that it's the job of White House staff to leak the covert identities of CIA agents?

*checks date*

Nope, not an April Fool.

How bizarre. So the whole thing about CIA agents being covert is just a joke - no CIA agent is really covert, White House staff can out them routinely as part of their ordinary jobs?

Boy, I bet President Bush wishes he'd known that back in 2003 when he promised to sack any of his trusted staff who'd leaked a covert CIA agent's identity!

"And given that the Bush administration knew that they had no evidence that Saddam Hussein had ever succeeded in completing such a transaction - beyond a dodgy British dossier and documents later shown to be forged - why do you suppose Bush found it necessary to mention it as a justification for invading Iraq?"

Because it showed that, contrary to the arguments in favor of abandoning sanctions made by France, Germany and Russia, Saddam had not abandoned the pursuit of a nuclear program.

Same answer to you Steve. Sanctions were falling apart, pressure was mounting to abandon them, but even before that--when sanctions were fully in effect, Saddam was in fact seeking uranium from the Niger. At the time of the State of the Union address that went directly to the question of how easy it was or was not to deter Saddam.

*Sought* was important, because although he did not succeed, even at the height of the sanctions regime he was trying to get uranium.

Which part would that be? So far, you've cited a random paragraph which is perfectly clear when read in context.

Wait...there are random paragraphs in that op-ed? How are we supposed to know which ones aren't random?

What is it about Wilson that makes the conservatives so nuts?

Odd, I was wondering the same thing myself, only in the opposite direction.

I've concluded that this is one of those areas where we can never agree, just bat things back and forth over the net at each other.

How are we supposed to know which ones aren't random?

Random, as in how (I presume) you picked it, since you obviously didn't actually read the op-ed until you came to that paragraph.

"Because it showed that, contrary to the arguments in favor of abandoning sanctions made by France, Germany and Russia, Saddam had not abandoned the pursuit of a nuclear program."

No it didn't. This is a critical point in understanding what was going on - it was in Saddam's interest (or so he thought) to raise a penumbra of a shadow of a doubt about his intentions, and we in our eagerness to invade lunged at that penumbra. Unless I'm mistaken, the evidence consisted of one report of a Saddam lieutenant once asking informally about yellow cake exports from Niger - a country with a very public foreign inspection system. This, when Iraq had a large supply of yellow cake and a (to me at least obvious) lack of an industrial/technical base and privacy to do anything with it.


Just to analogize - my brother once tutored a certain foreign starlet in speaking English. I (before becoming blissfully married) may have been overheard at some gathering asking him if she was currently single. This would not be evidence I was seeking to marry her by any reasonable standard - it would be more likely evidence that I have a (feeble) sense of humor.

Because it showed that, contrary to the arguments in favor of abandoning sanctions made by France, Germany and Russia, Saddam had not abandoned the pursuit of a nuclear program.

Er, Sebastian, have you completely forgotten the context of SOTU 2003? Evidently.

Bush was trying to make the case that the threat from Iraq was imminent, and the only solution was for the US to invade.

He was lying. We know it. What's your problem with this? Why does it get you so crazy to know that some people just don't like the idea of the President of the US lying the US into an aggressive war?

Sebastian, I think I'm having a memory loss. Please point to some post-9/11 evidence for Iraq sanctions falling apart, to refresh my recollection.

ah what the heck, I'm bored and got the summertime blues. Let's see if I can step in the middle and find common ground.

1. Wilson was sent to Niger to find out whether a sale occurred.
2. He found out that no sale had occurred, but that Iraqi officials might have been seeing if such a sale was possible.
3. Wilson reported to the CIA that no sale had occurred.
4. WE DO NOT KNOW, with any degree of confidence, WHAT WILSON SAID ABOUT IRAQI CONTACTS WITH NIGERIEN OFFICIALS TO TALK ABOUT A SALE.
5. When the SotU speech was made, Wilson thought that the President over-reached. Yes, the Iraqis had sought yellowcake, but those attempts had been rebuffed, and there was no evidence that Iraq would ever be able to get yellowcake from Niger.
6. My understanding of the timeline is the following:
a. Wilson contacted the press as an anonymous source to undercut the President's statement;
b. Cheney went nuclear, leaking Plame's name as an attempt to discredit Wilson (ie, he went to cover his wife who's a member of that notoriously liberal CIA);
c. Wilson and Plame went public with their side of the story.

Agree? Disagree?

*Sought* was important, because although he did not succeed, even at the height of the sanctions regime he was trying to get uranium.

If "sought" was important, then the administration would have responded to the Wilson op-ed by explaining why "sought" was important and that Wilson hadn't actually debunked "sought."

But that wasn't any part of their pushback. Ergo, the administration didn't actually think "sought" was that important.

My explanation: What mattered to the administration was the "mushroom cloud" implication they created by talking about uranium. Focusing attention on the fact that Saddam sought yellowcake, but never bought it, would have undercut the urgency for war.

Your theory that "sought" was important may make sense in a vacuum, but it's utterly belied by the way things actually played out.

I dislike "sought" in 5.

Also I think there is a 3' in which Wilson's report gets passed to the OVP.

Random, as in how (I presume) you picked it, since you obviously didn't actually read the op-ed until you came to that paragraph.

Whereas you just as obviously read everything but that paragraph. You know, the one that contains the subject matter relevant to the debate.

Post 9/11 may be trickier (since it changed everything), but IIRC, pre 9/11, Cheney himself, in his role as Halliburton CEO and perhaps later in his role as the head of the Energy Task Force was pushing for relaxed sanctions on Iraq, Libya, and Iran.

"Sebastian, I think I'm having a memory loss. Please point to some post-9/11 evidence for Iraq sanctions falling apart, to refresh my recollection."

In January 2002, at the UN, France, Germany and Russia argued for the complete ending of all sanctions against Iraq.

Also I think there is a 3' in which Wilson's report gets passed to the OVP.

Wilson didn't make a report. The CIA may have made a report, based on their debrief of Wilson, but Wilson himself didn't make one.

"When the SotU speech was made, Wilson thought that the President over-reached. Yes, the Iraqis had sought yellowcake, but those attempts had been rebuffed, and there was no evidence that Iraq would ever be able to get yellowcake from Niger."

This is indeed a fact, but this is not reported in the op-ed.

"I dislike "sought" in 5."

What do you dislike about it? That is what Wilson himself reports in his own book.

I don't understand why OCS and Slart cite the https://ecf.dcd.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/show_public_doc?2006cv1258-52>dismissal (pdf) of the Plame suit as if it says anything about the merits of anything. Dismissal of a Bivens action on the ground that there's an adequate remedy doesn't have anything, sfaic, with anything I've ever argued about the whole Plame/Wilson thing. Indeed, it seems to me that the argument that the Bivens action is precluded because the IIPA covers the conduct at issue would tend to vindicate the opposing view of things rather than the reverse.

And I don't see why you guys would find the Westfall Act point -- that the defendants were acting in their official capacities when they leaked her identity -- in any way supportive of the positions taken.

The decision supports the proposition that Ms. Plame was the victim of an official conspiracy to out her. It does not stand for the proposition that what was done was lawful or otherwise proper.

I don't understand why OCS and Slart cite the dismissal (pdf) of the Plame suit as if it says anything about the merits of anything.

I don't understand why you think I linked to it as if it said anything about the merits of anything.

'Also I think there is a 3' in which Wilson's report gets passed to the OVP.'

Revise to "in which the facts or opinions which Wilson reported back to the CIA get transcribed per procedure and passed per directive to the OVP" for Slart.


"What do you dislike about [sought]"?

It's mindreading. See my belaboring of that above.

This is an old comment, but I just noticed it: "From that I get ten fairly serious responses… So who is it that might have the Wilson 'obsession'?"

You've engaged in a clear fallacy here: that was ten separate responses from ten individuals. As each individual responded once, it is obviously not evidence of obsession in anyone. Do you disagree? (I trust you're not saying you believe it was one person and nine sock-puppets.)

hey, I'm just trying to find common ground here.

let me revise 5 to state: ... Yes, Wilson thought that the Iraqis had made some initial contacts that were likely about the acquisition of yellowcake, ...

Note: Without a written report from Wilson to the CIA that could then be forwarded to OVP, there is lots of room to argue what Wilson actually said to his CIA debriefers / how the OVP was briefed / how the SotU speech got written the way it did.

(Parenthetically, while Wilson may not have put his report in writing, I find it utterly incredible that the CIA didn't create a written report.)

((Also parenthetically, it appears that the only thing that Wilson could have told the press honestly was that the President's statement was technically true, but rhetorically both false and dangerous. Whether that's what Wilson said, or that's what Pincus heard, is probably unanswerable unless there's a tape.))

I don't understand why you think I linked to it as if it said anything about the merits of anything.

Sorry to have made the Slart mistake again. I'll try to do better in the future, and hope to go another year (or whatever) before I forget and do it again.

In January 2002, at the UN, France, Germany and Russia argued for the complete ending of all sanctions against Iraq.

I looked but couldn't find this.

In a similar vein, next time I'm linking something of some relevance to the thread, I'll try and accompany it with a 1000-word treatise describing my position in the matter. When I have one.

Oh, I did that. Never mind.

"It's mindreading. See my belaboring of that above."

I guess I don't understand this.

Saddam sends two different envoys (one of whom having a decades long association with the nuclear program) to Niger on 'trade' missions that the Prime Minister of Niger interprets as Saddam feeling out for the acquisition of uranium. No legitimate trade gets done.

We all agree to all of that right?

Bush calls that 'sought uranium in Africa'.

You would prefer to interpret that as Saddam attempting to give the false impression that he was trying to pursue a nuclear program?

It seems to me that your interpretation requires much more mindreading.

"Bush calls that 'sought uranium in Africa'."

Right, he says "X is true because Y". I say, "Y is consistent with !X, namely Z". The first depends on reading Saddam's mind, the second doesn't. "Seek" means something like "endeavor to obtain". Again, if I go into a store and ask how much a product costs and who is qualified to purchase it and so forth, that doesn't mean I'm actually intending to get one.

Esp. given that Saddam had a large supply of yellowcake at hand already.


If Bush had said what is true, that Saddam had inquired whether he could purchase yellowcake from Niger and been informed he couldn't, we likely wouldn't be having this conversation.

Jes: therefore conservatives must try to believe that Wilson and Plame were somehow in the wrong

Er, or it could be that Wilson was wrong. I know it is an article of faith, but sometimes faith gets shaken. I think that the jury is still out.

Jes: How bizarre. So the whole thing about CIA agents being covert is just a joke - no CIA agent is really covert, White House staff can out them routinely as part of their ordinary jobs?

No - but the judge said exactly what many of us have said for years – it was their job to counter Wilson’s misleading op-eds, any administration would be irresponsible not to counter it, and the Plame thing happened without malicious intent. And the judge agreed.

CC: I don't understand why OCS and Slart cite the dismissal (pdf) of the Plame suit as if it says anything about the merits of anything.

I don’t think I said much about merits (well before this comment anyway), just that I might be vindicated in less than five years. The exact quote is, “Maybe I won't have to wait 5 years...”, alluding to my previous comment that I thought I might be vindicated in 5-10 years. A dismissal of this by a District Judge really does not say “anything about the merits of anything”? I defer to your legal Kung-Fu – and I will here as well if you put this in terms I can understand and agree with…

Slarti: I've concluded that this is one of those areas where we can never agree, just bat things back and forth over the net at each other.

Oh yeah. Been there for a while.


Anyway – I’m sure there will be a fresh Plame thread by tomorrow if it is not already there. I will likely avoid it unless I have a lot of time on my hands. ;(


Gary: You've engaged in a clear fallacy here: that was ten separate responses from ten individuals. As each individual responded once, it is obviously not evidence of obsession in anyone. Do you disagree?

Key change…

OK, I’ll call it a community mindset, or article of faith. Anyone questioning the Joe Wilson’s integrity will not have a pretty time here. Do you disagree?

"Anyone questioning the Joe Wilson’s integrity will not have a pretty time here. Do you disagree?"

I posted his endorsement of HRC on this thread and the first response was an attack on his integrity, or anyway his independence of thought. No one responded to that. You're right that there's an unfortunate tendency here to pile on, but that's just a consequence of the imbalance of viewpoints. Though I think this is a clear-cut case involving a historically horrible policy blunder, so emotions tend to run a bit high.

OCSteve, I concede that it's certainly within the realm of possibility that Wilson simply expressed himself badly and then failed to correct his detractors.

I don't know if I believe that, mind you, just that it's one possible non-malicious explanation. Picked at random, mind you.

No - but the judge said exactly what many of us have said for years – it was their job to counter Wilson’s misleading op-eds, any administration would be irresponsible not to counter it, and the Plame thing happened without malicious intent. And the judge agreed.

I think you're drastically overstating what the judge actually said. From the opinion:

The alleged means by which defendants chose to rebut Mr. Wilson's comments and attack his credibility may have been highly unsavory. But there can be no serious dispute that the act of rebutting public criticism, such as that levied by Mr. Wilson against the Bush Administration's handling of prewar foreign intelligence, by speaking with members of the press is within the scope of defendants' duties as high-level Executive Branch officials. Thus, the alleged tortious conduct, namely the disclosure of Mrs. Wilson's status as a covert operative, was incidental to the kind of conduct that defendants were employed to perform.

I don't think any of us dispute that the administration was entitled to try and debunk Wilson's op-ed. What we contend is that it was slimy and damaging to national security to do so by outing a covert CIA officer. Indeed, to this day - and I'm very good at seeing both sides of an argument - I still can't see any colorable explanation of why revealing Plame's employment was supposed to do anything at all to debunk Wilson's op-ed.

As for your statements that it would have been irresponsible for the administration not to counter the op-ed, and that there was no malicious intent behind the outing, I can't see anything in the judge's opinion that agrees with you.

OCSteve: Er, or it could be that Wilson was wrong. I know it is an article of faith, but sometimes faith gets shaken.

But your faith that Wilson could be wrong is still standing firm, even though you have no facts on your side to support your faith. Well, that's what faith is for, I suppose, though it seems a trifle wasted.

it was their job to counter Wilson’s misleading op-eds,

It was their job to attack Wilson's wife because Wilson exposed one of Bush's lies? Again, if this is actually in White House employment contracts, why didn't Bush just say "Sure, they leaked Plame's identity, that was their job!" back in autumn 2003?

Add to the fact that Wilson's op-ed has been shown to be perfectly accurate, while Bush's SOTU 2003 has been shown to be full of lies...

Anyone questioning the Joe Wilson’s integrity will not have a pretty time here.

Certainly if all you can base your claims on is "faith" you'll not have a pretty time here. You have faith that Wilson was wrong and Bush was right, despite everything: you have faith that Dick Cheney had no malice when he ordered an attack on Plame and Wilson: and no, your faith in Cheney's absence of malice and Bush's integrity without any facts to support you is not being treated gently. Why you interpret this as admiration for Joseph Wilson is bewildering.

Key change…

OK, I’ll call it a community mindset, or article of faith. Anyone questioning the Joe Wilson’s integrity will not have a pretty time here. Do you disagree?

I'd say it's within the realm of reasonable discussion and disagreement, at least. I'd agree that people would ask for evidence, and that as in so many other things, the conversational problem here is that one side has read lots of arguments in their echo chamber that convince them of one set of interpretations and to some degree facts, and the other side holds to a different set of interpretations and to some degree facts, so naturally each side is entirely skeptical of the conclusions and premises of the others. So I don't think your description here is out of line, but that fact doesn't actually do any work towards what the most accurate actual set of interpretations and facts would be, in either direction.

There was also some mention above of an alleged tendency of liberals to variously love Wilson, or be obsessed with him, or whatever, and as I can only speak for myself, I'd deny any such love or interest, and point to the extremely low number of times I've ever blogged about him or Valerie Plame, and the relatively low number of times I've ever commented on them here, or, to be most specific, in this thread up to now.

And I really really prefer to discuss specifics. You were just bent out of shape because I made a sarcastic remark about conservatives -- not for the first time from me, to be sure, although I'm in fact in general I try to be respectful of those conservatives and aspects of conservatism I do respect, which happens to be quite a few, in both cases -- but here you are generalizing about liberals, in the face of specific people. Can we agree again that we should all limit our enaging in such generalizations as much as possible here, and try to stick to dealing with indviduals, where we can?

And, as I said, in this case, insofar as your and other folks comments about how liberals feel about Wilson apply to me, you're mostly wrong. (I don't "love" him, his endorsement means nothing whatever to me, I have no obsession whatever with he or his wife.) I find seven mentions -- total -- of "Ambassador Wilson" and seven mentions of "Joe Wilson" on my blog. Period.

"Again, if I go into a store and ask how much a product costs and who is qualified to purchase it and so forth, that doesn't mean I'm actually intending to get one."

If it is illegal for you to purchase the product, and you are currently on probation for having previously purchased the product?

When you send two top diplomatic envoys to the Niger to sniff around about uranium, that is "sought".

Gary: Point taken. Now I have to go to bed. You people that post at noon, and 6PM, and 3AM are freaks. Lovable freaks mind you, but freaks… ;)

"Lovable freaks mind you, but freaks… ;)"

How about "unemployed freaks, with sleep disorders"?

And I'm on Mountain time, two hours earlier than the east (7 from Britain).

Pleasant dreams, and don't let the bedbugs bite!

The 16 words:

"The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

Factcheck.org, which I'm relying on instead of digging it all up again, comes down somewhere in the middle of Bush Lied and Bush Witnessed with the familiar by now "Bush was Incompetent (but really, Bush's Advisors were Incompetent)."

But since we're grinding so finely on the meaning of "sought" and the precision with which Bush and his speechwriters used it, let's look at what factcheck.org says about the basis of the British intelligence used to support the claim (according to the Butler Report and the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence): The Iraqi trade mission to Niger during which YC is said to have been sought occurred in 1999, perhaps four years before the SOTU.

This would seem a very broad interpretation of the meaning of "recently," in contrast with the very narrow sense of "sought" employed just one word later.

Since the reports of the 1999 meeting indicate that the Iraqi representatives were rebuffed in their efforts (indeed, the Nigeriens say they assumed the Iraqis were there to see about uranium, not that the Iraqis put it to them point blank), it seems unlikely that the conversation progressed to the subject of quantities of yellow cake, so the President's speech writers must have relied upon some other source of information for the "significant quantities" phrase that immediately follows "sought". We have to trust that those speech writers were as careful with "significant quantities" as they were with "sought."

Factcheck.org points to another British intel report that suggested that Iraq had a deal for 50 tons of Yellow Cake -- I assume this report was the significant quantity noted in the 160 words -- and it was that report that Wilson traveled to Africa to look into and found wanting. The result of Wilson's trip was confirmation of the Nigeriens' belief that the 1999 contact with Iraqi representatives was for the purpose of purchasing yellow cake and the debunking of the 50 tons sale that probably backed up "significant quantities".

Finally, as the factcheck.org article makes clear -- the administration didn't depend on a close reading of "sought" to defend the inclusion of the 16 Words. They've clung instead to the incompetency/if-we-knew-then-what-we-know-now defense right from Ari Fleischer's very first take back.

"If it is illegal for you to purchase the product, and you are currently on probation for having previously purchased the product?"

And I have a sensible motive for wanting people to wonder if I have the product, because some of them are openly planning to come beat me up but won't if I do? Sure.

Also since there's a big pile of the product - more than I could use, if I was actually able to use it, which I certainly can't - in my backyard. Oh, and everybody paying any attention knows that the store only serves people on a list and is monitored 24/7, hence everybody knows I'm less likely to get the stuff there than from the Elysian plains?

I must be unusual. I've given up on finding common ground about this stuff.

Here are the things that seem, to me, after long consideration, to be facts, and which determine my point of view about this whole sorry mess.

1. George Bush and members of his administration deliberately sought to foster the belief that Iraq posed an urgent threat to the USA.

2. There was little credible intelligence to back that claim, and what intelligence there was, was available to them.

3. In spite of (2), at the urging of Bush et al, we invaded Iraq.

So, I don't really give a good god damn about Joseph Wilson, his desire for the spotlight, or a detailed parsing of what he did or did not say in his editorial.

Joseph Wilson was not and is not the problem.

Thanks -

"And I have a sensible motive for wanting people to wonder if I have the product, because some of them are openly planning to come beat me up but won't if I do? Sure."

How does two secret meetings in Niger help this plan?

I don't mind that you believe this story, I just object to the idea that it requires less mind reading than the story which says that they were doing exactly what they looked like they were doing--trying to get uranium.

Sebastian: I just object to the idea that it requires less mind reading than the story which says that they were doing exactly what they looked like they were doing--trying to get uranium.

See Factcheck.org. Or, if that's beyond you, see the summary of Factcheck.org in Model 62's comment.

It's slightly fantastic that, in 2007, OCSteve and Sebastian (to avoid generalizing about "conservatives") are still defending a claim George W. Bush made in 2003, that even the Bush administration quit trying to defend years ago.

Little Thom points out that the WaPo version of why the judge tossed the case is at complete variance with the facts: and it's the WaPO version which OCSteve cites.

SH, on the narrow issue of "sought", I don't have to believe the story is true, I only have to believe it's plausible. If event E might reasonably have arisen from intents I_seek or I_bluff, then I can't responsibly say that I know intent=sought.

As to "secret", well, the Bush admin found out about it, right? And (perhaps as or more importantly) people in Iraq's govt knew about it? (Recall that Saddam was keeping his own officers guessing.)

"Recall that Saddam was keeping his own officers guessing."

Has it been established that Saddam was trying to fool his own officers about the nuclear program? I hadn't heard that.

Sebastian: Has it been established that Saddam was trying to fool his own officers about the nuclear program? I hadn't heard that.

Are you claiming it's been established that Saddam had a functioning nuclear program any time in the past twenty years? Is this part of your defense of Bush's lies in SOTU 2003?

I'm trying to understand rilkefan's theory. It appears to be that Saddam was intentionally trying to fool his own people about the existance of a nuclear program by sending envoys to the Niger to pretend to seek uranium. When he says "Recall that Saddam was keeping his own officers guessing." he seems to be suggesting that it has been established that Saddam was attempting to fool his own people about a nuclear program. I've never seen that.

By the way, Jesurgislac, you know that everyone agrees your statement is false right? Saddam absolutely had a functioning nuclear program at some time in the past 20 years. How long ago was the extremely advanced program the scared the crap out of the UN investigators when they saw how far along it really was in the aftermath of GWI? Or do you not believe that either?

I'm claiming that to the extent Saddam didn't have a nuclear program it was because of harsh sanctions that you were in fact opposed to. I'm claiming that he never stopped trying to avoid inspections and wanted to continue the program at least as far as 1998 and 1999 when his envoys were seeking (or at the very least making secret moves that give the appearance of seeking) nuclear material. I'm claiming that the sanctions regime was collapsing as of January 2002.

All of those claims have the virtue of being true. What they mean in action is debateable, but all of those things are true.

Re "guessing", I read it was the case that each top general thought the other general had the WMDs - I don't know if that extended to this particular case, or if it's even known. Though we had a high-level defector for a while around (I think) the relevant time-frame - if he had known that the Iraqi nuclear program was back at the stone knives and bear skins stage, then _we_ ought to have absorbed that information, or at least concluded there was a hall-of-mirrors problem in interpreting Saddam's acts.

It's true Saddam had once made a lot of progress towards obtaining nuclear weapons, except for the hardest part, before all the infrastructure got taken apart and his entire tech base torn up.

Which is part of the reason I favored sanctions and more importantly a strict inspections regime.


Also note that "[my] theory" fits even without Iraqi self-deception.

Saddam absolutely had a functioning nuclear program at some time in the past 20 years.

I'll give you that it depends how you define "functioning" and "nuclear program".

Given that in 1992 the IAEA researchers concluded that, prior to the Iran-Iraq war (do you remember that in 1981 Israel bombed Iraq's nuclear reactor?) Iraq could, perhaps, have constructed a nuclear weapon after at least three years further development - I think that it's arguable. Certainly, the Iran-Iraq war, followed by Gulf War I, put paid to any realistic nuclear threat from Baghdad.

I'm claiming that to the extent Saddam didn't have a nuclear program it was because of harsh sanctions that you were in fact opposed to

You think that preventing Iraq from importing antibiotics and food somehow stalled the nuclear program? How exactly are antibiotics and food used to construct nuclear weapons?

"You think that preventing Iraq from importing antibiotics and food somehow stalled the nuclear program?"

There were more to sanctions than antibiotics and food correct? There certainly weren't inspections going on, right?

Physicists eat and fall ill.

But Saddam was preventing the importation of antibiotics and food, not the West.

There were more to sanctions than antibiotics and food correct? There certainly weren't inspections going on, right?

You specified the "harsh sanctions that you were in fact opposed to". I agree, I was opposed to the sanctions against importation of antibiotics, and other basic medical supplies, and food. You claim these harsh sanctions that I have clearly said I opposed somehow prevented Saddam Hussein developing nuclear weapons in the 1990s.

Now you try to move the goalposts, and claim that if I opposed killing half a million Iraqi children by bombing Iraqi infrastructure to deprive Iraqis of clean water, thus ensuring thirsty people drink unclear water, then ensuring that Iraqis are denied the medical aid they need to prevent their children from dying of dysentery - and this was only one of the ways the US/UK supported sanctions had of killing Iraqi children - you claim, Sebastian, you pro-lifer, that these mass deaths of children, which, yes, I have said I oppose - somehow prevented Saddam Hussein from developing nuclear weapons.

Now you try to move the goalposts, and claim that I opposed inspections? Inspections and child-killing sanctions aren't even spelled similiarly...

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