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March 30, 2004

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I was with you right up until the "The fact is, Bush should win this election." line Von.

Bush is not strong. He's strongheaded. There's a huge difference. Kerry has the intuition and ability to detect nuance that will help win back our allies. Bush may be able to pull the wool over the eyes of half the United States, but that alone won't win the war on terror, or restore dignity to this country. We need a war time president who is both a warrior and a diplomat...Bush is neither.

Kerry has the intuition and ability to detect nuance that will help win back our allies.

And the flexibility of will to somehow wind up on both sides of any issue.

Incidentally, CNN (I know, I know) says:

White House will allow Condoleezza Rice to testify publicly under oath before 9/11 commission, a senior administration official tells CNN.

No other details forthcoming at the moment; it's one of their "breaking news" headlines. On the other hand, even if the quoted senior administration official was incorrect, it's going to be really hard for the administration to say "No, we're actually not going to let her testify publicly under oath" without looking really shady.

And the flexibility of will to somehow wind up on both sides of any issue.

Well, we've seen how effective Bush's black and white version of the world is, especially when it comes to international support...perhaps a more mature approach is needed in these times.


Yes, I can see how a more mature approach might have the oil-for-food thieves at the U.N. eating right out of his hand.

What are you saying Slarti? That Kerry would approve of that scandal? Or that the US is the only trustworthy nation? Or that it doesn't matter, we have the best army, we'll do what we damn well want to?

Come on, own up.

That Kerry would approve of that scandal?

No, that would be silly. Not that I've never been silly; just not this time.

Or that the US is the only trustworthy nation?

Who says we're trustworthy? We are, however, a nation. Which is more than can be said of the UN.

Or that it doesn't matter, we have the best army, we'll do what we damn well want to?

No. Hell, no. It does matter what we do; the point is, it matters to us. We are the ones who regulate our activity; who regulates the UN? Just look for yourself and see, and tell me whether you feel more comfortable answering to the UN Security Council, or the American voting public. Kerry seems to worship U.N. authority, and the UN is, as we've seen, almost completely devoid of effective and acceptable accountability and oversight.

Just look for yourself and see, and tell me whether you feel more comfortable answering to the UN Security Council, or the American voting public.

It really depends on the issue. If Iraq presented a unique threat to America, I'd say screw the UN, let's take them out. If, as was the case, however, there was no direct threat to the US, then going through the UN is the only legitimate way to dispose of Hussein in my book. Otherwise, we're the self-appointed police of the world.

Bush would have accepted the blessing of the Security Council if they had given it him, but because they wouldn't (and he had no idea how to convince them) he tossed his teddy and went in anyway...it's this sort of spoiled brat behavior I'm confident we won't see from Kerry.

Kerry seems to worship U.N. authority
Huh? Kerry seems to think that UN has a role to play in international affairs, but I don't think you can point to any quote by Kerry that supports this type of hyperbole without a very specific set of preconceived notions, which you seem to have in spades. I would be willing to bet that you believe that sentence to be true of every democrat that was in the race besides J. Lieberman.

OT - von, nice DCFC title.

No, Bush went to the UN to give them to respond appropriate to Iraq's serial violation of over a dozen UN resolutions. They balked, and Bush thought we had ample interest to justify US intervention, and off we went.

Or you could continue to attempt to characterize Bush as a petulant child. It's a baseless characterization, though, as far as I'm concerned.

should have read "...to give them opportunity to respond...". Preview is my friend.

Or you could continue to attempt to characterize Bush as a petulant child. It's a baseless characterization, though, as far as I'm concerned.

...poetic follow-up to my "more mature" characterization of Kerry. I associate much more innocence to petulant children than I do to Bush.

They balked, and Bush thought we had ample interest to justify US intervention, and off we went.

Regardless of what the Security Council thought?

So if he gets the answer he wants, then the SC is a good thing...if he doesn't, who needs 'em?


Regardless of what the Security Council thought?

No, in full cognizance of what the Security Council thought. And, in hindsight, what UNSC thought was somewhat tainted by bribery and illicit trade, wasn't it?

And, in hindsight, what UNSC thought was somewhat tainted by bribery and illicit trade, wasn't it?

Oh, I think it was more tainted by the lack of evidence there was an imminent threat that warranted a pre-emptive invasion of another country...you know, sovereign nations tend to value the subtleties in that concept.

Actually, Edward, the point of the entire matter was that Iraq had not provided the required proof that they'd disarmed themselves. The burden of proof was on them, not on us.

Nope, you're mixing it up Slarti.

Resolution 1441 was a UN resolution. It's the UN's responsibility to enforce it, not the US's. The US's argument for bypassing the UN was that we could not wait for verification of their noncompliance in the shape of a mushroom cloud.

In that respect, we needed proof of a threat to the US to justify bypassing the UN.

Ok, I'm going to retract everything bad I said regarding Kerry and the UN. After all, he said this:

Let me say that I agree with the determination by the administration, at the outset of this development, to take a measured and multilateral approach to this latest provocation. It is of vital importance to let the United Nations first respond to Saddam's actions. After all, those actions are first and foremost an affront to the United Nations and all its membership which has, in a too-rare example of unity in the face of belligerent threats from a rogue State, managed to maintain its determination to keep Iraq isolated via a regime of sanctions and inspections.

And this:

Should the resolve of our allies wane to pursue this matter until an acceptable inspection process has been reinstituted — which I hope will not occur and which I am pleased to say at this moment does not seem to have even begun — the United States must not lose its resolve to take action. But I think there is strong reason to believe that the multilateral resolve will persist.

To date, there have been nine material breaches by Iraq of U.N. requirements. The United Nations has directed some form of responsive action in five of those nine cases, and I believe it will do so in this case.

The job of the administration in the next 24 hours and in the days to follow is to effectively present the case that this is not just an insidious challenge to U.N. authority. It is a threat to peace and to long-term stability in the tinder-dry atmosphere of the Middle East, and it is an unaffordable affront to international norms of decent and acceptable national behavior.

We must not presume that these conclusions automatically will be accepted by every one of our allies, some of which have different interests both in the region and elsewhere, or will be of the same degree of concern to them that they are to the U.S. But it is my belief that we have the ability to persuade them of how serious this is and that the U.N. must not be diverted or bullied.

That was seven years ago, but Kerry is nothing if not consistent. So, retracted.


The US's argument for bypassing the UN was that we could not wait for verification of their noncompliance in the shape of a mushroom cloud.

Was that truly our argument? I thought it went more like this:

The US's argument for bypassing the UN was that we could not wait for positive demonstration of their noncompliance.

Actually, Edward, the point of the entire matter was that Iraq had not provided the required proof that they'd disarmed themselves. The burden of proof was on them, not on us.i>

But how were they supposed to prove that? The failure of the inspections to turn up anything was interpreted by us as evidence of Saddam's craftiness. What could Saddam have done to forestall a US invasion in January 2003, short of stepping down?

D'oh! Sorry.

But how were they supposed to prove that? The failure of the inspections to turn up anything was interpreted by us as evidence of Saddam's craftiness. What could Saddam have done to forestall a US invasion in January 2003, short of stepping down?

Produce evidence of disarmament as he agreed to do in the cease-fire agreement.

Nothing would have stopped the jauggernaut.

I love the way certain defenders of the war try to insist that it was all about noncompliance with the resolution at the same time they admit that getting US troops onto Iraqi soil, so that we could influence the neighbors, was always the goal.

The inconsistency doesn't seem to bother them.

Kinda got a little off topic here, guys.

Cover-up. I know it is public knowledge, and the film of Condi Rice answering some softball questions is gonna look good. I suppose there are no huge secrets to be uncovered.

But I still don't quite understand how the widely known but little discussed US payment of $43 million to the Taliban in the summer of 2001 is gonna be justified. Best case I have heard: we were paying them not to grow opium.


Who's this "they" you're referring to?

Who's this "they" you're referring to?

Anyone who insists we invaded Iraq because they didn't comply with the resolution but also admits that they believe getting US troops on Iraqi soil was always the goal.

But I still don't quite understand how the widely known but little discussed US payment of $43 million to the Taliban in the summer of 2001 is gonna be justified. Best case I have heard: we were paying them not to grow opium.

You know, this one really ought to have been covered by snopes. Turns out we gave the $43 million to UN aid agencies, which in hindsight might not have been the best thing to do, either.

Kinda got a little off topic here, guys.

Yeah, but it's fun.

But you're right...back on topic..."cover-up"...best way to deal with unsightly bleamishes...dermatologically speaking.

Human nature, politically speaking.

Anyone who insists we invaded Iraq because they didn't comply with the resolution but also admits that they believe getting US troops on Iraqi soil was always the goal.

Let me clarify: unless "they" includes Slartibartfast, I don't see where your comment has any sort of relevance.

Von wrote:

Bush’s response to his Air National Guard records is a case in point. Kevin Drum (among others) dug and dug and dug and dug. You know what was there? Pretty much nothing. But does anyone think that Bush won that round?

Well let’s see. The DNC chairman goes on national television accusing the President of being AWOL thereby putting himself in the same league as moonbats like Michael “deserter” Moore and Howard “interesting theory” Dean. Bush provides documents proving pretty much what he said all along and the American public – who really does not care to revisit who did or did not do what during the Vietnam War – takes away from this is that someone decided to throw mud at the President and it was not true. Which in turn undermines the credibility of the DNC Chair the next time he makes a charge at the President, makes the Democratic Party look petty and bitter for making a “personal attack” rather than a policy criticism, and (oh yeah) also makes it harder to John Kerry to brag about serving in Vietnam since his cohorts just made the public even more weary of this non-issue.

Can you say “rope-a-dope”?

In our latest installment, Clarke says that Bush “considered terrorism an important issue, but not an urgent issue.” This is a point Bush should not even deign to debate. He himself told Bob Woodward that “I didn’t feel a sense of urgency about al Qaeda. It was not my focus; it was not the focus of my team.”

Here’s the fuller quote:

"There was a significant difference in my attitude after September 11. I was not on point, but I knew he was a menace ... But I didn't feel that sense of urgency. It was not my focus; it was not the focus of my team.”

It reads just a bit differently when you realize the fuller quote has the President saying that he knew that UBL was a menace as opposed to Clarke’s contention that his national security advisor hadn’t even heard of Al-Qaeda and puts his remarks in the context of contrasting his pre and post-9/11 focus. It might also be nice to find out what Woodward took out with the ellipses between the President saying, “I knew he was a menace” and “[b]ut I didn't feel that sense of urgency.” There is an obvious transition between these two, which Woodward should have included particularly in light of the President having called for his team to come up with a plan to actually destroy Al-Qaeda rather than merely rolling it back within his first week of taking office.

I could try and hide behind that as a comment more directed at KenB's comment or the invasion defenders in general, but the truth of the matter is I tend to lump those two categories together. My apologies if you don't subscribe to one of those opinions.

Edward wrote:

I love the way certain defenders of the war try to insist that it was all about noncompliance with the resolution at the same time they admit that getting US troops onto Iraqi soil, so that we could influence the neighbors, was always the goal.

Really and who exactly was it that said it was “all about noncompliance with the resolution” as opposed to one of multiple reasons?



Noted. No need to apologize.

I'd just like to keep the conversation in the here and now, rather than the "here's the REAL reason we invaded" vs. "but you said Bush was just avenging his Dad" sort of exchanges.

Then again, Slarti, see Thorley's response.

The problem with saying that noncompliance was only one of the reasons for the invasion Thorley is that if Hussein had indeed

Produce[d] evidence of disarmament as he agreed to do in the cease-fire agreement.

our two main reasons for the invasion disappear (1. the threat of WMD and 2. the noncompliance), but that still leaves Wolfie with his hand out begging for a chance to try his experiment.

If you subscribe to the theory that we needed to have troops in their to shake things up, you sound like a fool barking up either of the other trees because clearly they would have made no difference to you.

Clarke’s contention that his national security advisor hadn’t even heard of Al-Qaeda and puts his remarks in the context of contrasting his pre and post-9/11 focus.

Completely agree here, Thorley. As I wrote, it's not all personal attacks on Clarke -- it's also quite evident that Clarke's got some critical things wrong. And this deserves to be brought out.

And the flexibility of will to somehow wind up on both sides of any issue.

Yes, I can see how a more mature approach might have the oil-for-food thieves at the U.N. eating right out of his hand.

This nicely sums up how the right argues. They base their opinions on ridiculous nonsense like the first statement or they base them on unsubstantiated accusations of wrongdoing like the second statement.

...but that still leaves Wolfie with his hand out begging for a chance to try his experiment.

Maybe; maybe not. We'll never know, will we?

If you subscribe to the theory that we needed to have troops in their to shake things up, you sound like a fool barking up either of the other trees because clearly they would have made no difference to you.

You presume much, young Padawan. But let's clear some things up. First, I am not an adherent to the idea that things in the Middle East needed to be shaken up, and that our presence there is justified by that alone. Or even, that our presence there is justified by that at all. Or even that "shaking things up" in the Mideast is a good thing at all. Not because I disbelieve it, but because I haven't seen a compelling argument for it.

Now, that said, I think that if one believes we had OTHER compelling reasons for invading, there may be those who consider that the "shaking-up" business taking place as a result of that invasion is an additional good thing. And I don't fault them for that, even if I'm not convinced they have a strong point.

Am I clear, now?

This nicely sums up how the right argues. They base their opinions on ridiculous nonsense like the first statement or they base them on unsubstantiated accusations of wrongdoing like the second statement.

Who's this "The Right" guy, and why are you posting about him here?

Thorley, you do realize that the spiffy new plan to "destroy" Al Qaeda rather than "roll it back," as approved on 9/4, was the one that Richard Clarke handed in on 1/25, right? Or are you saying he's lying about that too? I certainly haven't seen anybody deny Clarke's statement to that effect on MtP this weekend.

First, I am not an adherent to the idea that things in the Middle East needed to be shaken up, and that our presence there is justified by that alone.

You've convinced me it's time to ask that question directly...too much hedging on it from many defenders of the war.

t.b.a.

Oh, one other thing. The whole argument in this thread about whether the Iraq War was justified based on Iraq's violation of UN resolutions, 1441, etc still doesn't get to Clarke's basic point about Iraq, which is (AFAICT) that whether or not it was justified, it wasn't _wise_, given our priorities and the danger of Al Qaeda. (See, for example, the articles about the Special Forces units moved from Afghanistan to Iraq that Jim Henley pointed out this week).

And conceding that Bush didn't feel a sense of urgency before 9/11, (and thus, I presume, didn't put as high a priority on antiterrorism as he could have?) doesn't make the man look very good, I have to say; not least because it makes a heck of a lot of the attacks on Richard Clarke from the past week inoperative, as they say.

They base their opinions on ridiculous nonsense like the first statement or they base them on unsubstantiated accusations of wrongdoing like the second statement.

There. Fixed it.

von wrote:

Completely agree here, Thorley. As I wrote, it's not all personal attacks on Clarke -- it's also quite evident that Clarke's got some critical things wrong. And this deserves to be brought out.

There is also the matter of the “memo” from the 60 Minutes interview. Here is what Clarke claimed:

CLARKE: It was a serious look. We got together all the FBI experts, all the CIA experts. We wrote the report. We sent the report out to CIA and down to FBI and said, 'Will you sign this report?' They all cleared the report and we sent it up to the president and it got bounced by the National Security Advisor or Deputy. It got bounced and sent back saying, 'Wrong answer.'

STAHL: Come on!

CLARKE: Do it again.

STAHL: Wrong answer?

CLARKE: Do it again.

But here is what Leslie Stahl actually found:

STAHL (exp): {So he's not denying the President asked for another review, nor is he denying that Clarke wrote a memo stating once again that Iraq was not involved in 9/11. In fact the White House showed us the memo dated September 18th. As Clarke said, it was bounced back. The notation reads, 'Please update and resubmit,' and it was written by Steven Hadley.}

HADLEY: I asked him to go back -- not 'wrong answer' -- I asked him to go back and check it again a week or two later to make sure there was no new emerging evidence that Iraq was involved.

It is obvious from this that Clarke lied during his 60 Minutes Interview about Hadley’s response to his memo on whether there was an Iraqi connection to 9/11. Funny how so many media outlets covered the 60 Minutes Interview and repeated Clarke’s lie about the notation on his memo even though Stahl revealed that it was not what Clarke claimed it was.

Now, now, Thorley. Don't you know that "Update and Resubmit" translates to "Wrong answer; we want you to lie about it" in beaurocrat-speak?

The real question is, will someone make that argument in earnest before I get a chance to his "post"?

It is obvious from this that Clarke lied during his 60 Minutes Interview about Hadley’s response to his memo on whether there was an Iraqi connection to 9/11.

Hardly a smoking gun. Clarke may well have interpreted the comment as bureau-speak for "please give us the answer we want". And it may well have been intended this way. In any case, this is not an "obvious" lie.

Thorley, you're awfully quick to ascribe to Clarke lying what looks to me like either miscommunication between Clarke and Hadley or evasion on Hadley's part. I can draw from the fact that the White House had the memo to present to Stahl that Clarke didn't, and therefore that he didn't have it to refer to - and giving his summary of the note on a memo he didn't have, two and a half years after it was sent, isn't an unlikely thing to do. More to the point, it's pretty easy to interpret "update and resubmit" as "we don't like what we see here; give us something better" - or, more briefly, "wrong answer". If Hadley had actually wanted more information - or new information - on Iraq's involvement, why didn't the notation read "Is there any updated information on this?", or something similar?

In short: to assume that Clarke is lying and that Hadley is speaking gospel, in this particular circumstance, is disingenuous at best - especially given the dubious nature of the notation that Hadley actually wrote.

This nicely sums up how the right argues. They base their opinions on ridiculous nonsense like the first statement or they base them on unsubstantiated accusations of wrongdoing like the second statement.

Robert McClelland, strike that first sentence and take a quick look at the posting rules. It may be fine-and-dandy for folks at Daily Kos and Atrios to go on about the "Right" (or, alternatively, for Sullivan, Tacitus, or LGF to go on about the "Left"). Here, however, we try to keep our charges specific.

This means: specific wrongdoers, specific wrong philosophies (neither "the Right" nor "the Left" qualify), specific idiotic acts. There's plenty of overgeneralism elsewhere.

Thanks, and please post again.

Hey, hey. A little Death Cab love. They're from my neighborhood.

The next line is even more appropriate.
"Screaming drunk disorderly"

Transatlanticism is also quite fine.

A little Death Cab love.

Death Cab deserves all the love it gets.

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