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September 06, 2004

Comments

hilzoy, I am really looking forward to your thoughts on the subjects you've just given us a little exposition on.

I'm not sure it's fair to say that we "occupy" Afghanistan. IIRC, a great deal of the work in removing the Taliban regime was done by our allies -- and we had far fewer soldiers involved than if we were waging a war of conquest. Thus, we endup with situations like that at TB -- I'm really not sure we had the bodies to seal the borders.

An issue I'd like to see you address re Afg: other than tolerating AQ, did the Taliban wish us -- could they have done us -- any more harm than the Tamil Tigers do?

Our strategy required that we subordinate our primary war aim -- capture of AQ leaders -- to that of our ally -- conquest of Afg. They got theirs, and we may never get ours.

I take it that we are fighting this war against any terrorist organization that has the will and the capacity to harm us.

A quibble: I don't like the term "war," but that's a relatively insignificant matter that tends to come up as the subject of discussion from time to time, so I will wait until we are really talking about that before, well, talking about that.

A more substantive point: Perhaps you left this out on purpose for some organizational reason, but that definition and your discussion posit a "struggle" against known enemies. Cast your mind back to Oklahoma City; that was basically 2-4 goobers with internet-level knowledge of explosives, a little but not much money, and whose only advantage was an isolated farm to prepare on. McVeigh and Nicholls were on nobody's radar screen, and that's the 2nd worst terrorist incident in US history and one of the worst in world history.

What I am suggesting is that in addition to taking all reasonable steps to disrupt and destroy known terrorist groups, we also need to concern ourselves with generic defense. We need to spend adequately on intelligence and investigative resources; we need to invest in detection technology; we need to secure our ports and chemical and nuclear facilities.

Ultimately, we cannot destroy every potential terrorist group before they do their bad things. A simple hypothetical demonstrates this: a small group with intentions similar to McVeigh's/Nichols' intentions, but with a lot of money and some significant expertise. That small group, and really any new group that maintains proper operational security, is going to come in under the radar, and that can never be prevented absent the transformation of our society into a rigid police state.

In the long run, if we are really to feel secure, it is only detection and other defensive technology that can create that feeling. I don't think you can plan a comprehensive . . . "struggle" . . . against terror without putting a lot of oomph into defense.

Trickster: I meant to mention defense (end of 3rd para.), and completely agree with you that it has got to be part of the mix, for the reasons you mention. Thus the planned post about homeland security, which comes after Afghanistan (which I'm about to start, having just recently gotten back home.) (Actually, I was planning to do deficits first before getting to foreign policy, but the reaction to the first post in this series from the right seemed to be; well, yeah, but the war on terror trumps all. So I thought I should get to it first.)

I'm also somewhat uncomfortable with the 'war on terror' terminology: if you accept it, it tends to suggest that this is more like a normal war than it is, and also that military force is the obvious way of prosecuting it, which in my view is not necessarily true. But if you decide to use some other term, that immediately conveys the impression that you want to be less determined about it, which I don't. So I have given up trying to get the terminology right, and opted for trying to explain what I mean at the outset. Oh well.

Hilzoy, I almost suspected you were leaving that out on purpose--in fact, I mentioned that. I missed your indication you will talk about homeland security. What I posted would've been better saved for that post.

I don't have many if any bones to pick with your discussion about what to do with known groups, but let me throw in an unconventional idea that seems to be all my own.

If I were President, I would plan to raid every known and open terrorist camp in the world--if reasonable (e.g., if China were training terrorists deep in the interior, no reasonable operation could be planned). The objective would be fast in-and-out raids to round up or kill as many Ts as possible, gather as much intelligence as possible, and perhaps most importantly, force all terrorists out of the sunlight and thereby restrict their freedom to train and organize.

Let me flesh these bones. I am not a believer in unilateral action. I would start with a strong diplomatic push with Security Council members. In the best of all possible worlds, there would be an adjunct Security Council office that would plan and oversee these operations.

Every nation in which such terrorist groups were proven to exist would be contacted secretly and given a chance to co-operate and to some extent control the operation within its sovereign bounds. Any nation within which a terrorist group was proven to be operating a training camp and which refused to cooperate with the proposed operation would by definition be an outlaw state. In such a circumstance, judgments would have to be made about whether a military operation were still possible and how the operation would treat military forces of the host state. It may be possible that cases would exist in which a nation refused to cooperate, but that nation would become an international pariah.

What I like about this plan is that, not only would it at least inconvenience most large, organized terrorist groups, it would make the battle against terrorism a world battle with rules and not a unilateral operation where the rules change by convenience. I think that is vital, because "terrorism" will never be defeated and until something like this happens, the struggle against terrorism will continue to degrade the legitimacy of international law, as it has rather dramatically done over the last couple of years. In the long run, that's not tolerable.

I believe that if the plan were unveiled and sold well, almost every nation in the world would join and there would be a worldwide legal framework to combat terrorism.

Trickster -- I basically agree, but I'll go you one better: I think that we should have tried to come up with an international legal definition of terrorism, and a treaty that implements that definition, lays out those rules, and authorizes such raids subject to the sorts of conditions you suggest.

hilzoy, do you have a definition on hand? And does it cover state actors as well as NSAs? And if so, who will authorize raids on, say, the Kremlin, and prevent raids on, say, the OVP?

hilzoy, do you have a definition on hand?

Nobody does. At least, not one that wasn't cherrypicked to some adhere to a prior ideological viewpoint.

But I'll be happy to be proven wrong :)

Anarch, that was snark, on a lark. If you knew about hilzoy and "dermabrasion" (see the recent haiku thread) you'd be snarky too.

More generally, I think I'm an anti-Platonist - anyway I'm very skeptical about the possiblity of good categorization.

If you knew about hilzoy and "dermabrasion" (see the recent haiku thread) you'd be snarky too.

I do, actually. I'd make a snarky quip at this point except that, really, I'm not that witty :)

"I'm not that witty"

We need fewer well-informed people and more witty ones.

Actually a nice thing about posting this late is you could spend tonight honing your esprit de l'escalier reply and in the morning pretend to be responding to a just-read post...

We disagree. I'll break up a few paragraphs for the sake of argument, but this is not a true fisking. I respect thoughtful discourse too much.

"the determination and focus we brought to, say, World War II"

Never again. Our society is much too interspersed with huge numbers of factions unwilling to support such endeavors. The determination to mount such a campaign is lost and gone forever. Average WWII soldier age 27, the average post VN soldier 19. Our enemies know how to pull our strings at home to create a powerful backlash.

"We should use whatever means are best, within the bounds of morality."

Who's morality?? Morality these days is a device utilized by contrarians to gain advantage to their cause or destroy another’s. The new definition of morality now starts with the phrase 'crumbling concept based on past sincerities...'.

"Our primary aim is to destroy these terrorist networks, or if we can't, to degrade them to the point where they no longer pose a threat to us. Our secondary aim, according to me, should be to deny them the things they need to operate: countries that allow them safe haven,..."

Isn't that what we're doing?? We went to Afghanistan first because that’s where AQ was. Iraq was second because they'd already defied the United Nations and Hussein was a known criminal against humanity, setting out a virtual welcome mat in the heart of terrorist central. I hesitate to use the word domino, given the ludicrous reference in SE Asia, but if we continue what we're doing with resolve, the Libya's and Pakistan’s of the region will cower. Those with any semblance of power will have to consider self preservation and follow our lead, especially with our growing reputation of collaborative nation building.

"I have little to say.."

Usually prefaced by someone with a lot to say. Hilzoy, I read your arguments and wonder why you'd vote against George Bush, but I'm extremely confused as how any of your discussion points lead you toward John Kerry.

Never again. Our society is much too interspersed with huge numbers of factions unwilling to support such endeavors. The determination to mount such a campaign is lost and gone forever.

Piffle. Immediately after 9/11, Americans rallied around this appointed President and fully supported his actions WRT Afghanistan. It was only when Bush decided he could use 9/11 and the 'war on terror' as a club to further his domestic agenda and tax cuts. Then he decided to try and implicate Iraq with 9/11. A lot of people saw through that.

Please don't mistake national resolve with gullibility.

I'm struck by how many on the right stridently try to push the meme this 'war on terror' is the equivalent of WWII. Yet, these same folks seem remarkably unwilling to interrupt their careers, education, etc. to combat this WWII-type threat.

blogbudsman
The ill concieved war in Iraq has shown our enemies that not only are we unable to contain them but that our resources are strecthed in our inablility to contain them. Some things were better left to the imagination because now they feel a renewed confidence and their numbers are growing not shrinking.

Also, Saddam did not want Islamic terrorists in his country because he didn't want any political/religious movements that could possibly challenge his authority.

To argue otherwise is to delude yourself as you try to make excuses for the president.

Jadegold and carsick, you pretty much prove my point. A nation with the old WWII resolve (and historians know that there was plenty of snarkiness back then too)is dust in the wind. Power plays, political agendas, special interest jealots - there is no 'one for all and all for one'. But that blows by my point in my comments to Hilzoy, and I repeat his point...

"Our primary aim is to destroy these terrorist networks, or if we can't, to degrade them to the point where they no longer pose a threat to us. Our secondary aim, according to me, should be to deny them the things they need to operate: countries that allow them safe haven,..."

If this can't be done within the attention span of our nation and full support of main stream media (Ha!)then it can't be done - unless a President is willing to sacrifice the short term power of his party. Hilzoy is in a pickle. He doesn't think our current administration can progress in the direction of his visions, and it's obvious the opposing party has not, can not, will not follow through. Another 8 years of the terrorist hurricane back over the warm waters regaining it's strength. Fighting in the streets will be a little closer to home.

The ATTENTION SPAN OF OUR NATION?
What about the president who couldn't even stay focused on the War on Terror and instead got lost in a dream of turning Iraq into the the Middle East's ... what? ... Poland?

While al Queda and related terrorist groups continue to sprout and grow Osama is wearing a t-shirt say: "I planned 9/11 and all I got was...away with it."

And the money people supporting al Queda? Sorry, can't spare the resources to go after those folks right now. And, North Korea?
And,...

Blogbudsman: Your argument is circular and rests solely on an unwavering faith this phony 'war on terror' is the equivalent of WWII.

::snark on::This war is just like World War II. Except for the lack of allies, international coalitions, clear goals, coherent planning, honest leadership, homefront sacrifice, and, oh yes, going after the actual people who attacked us. Other than that, it's exactly like WWII. ::snark off::

So, c & J, how would you help Hilzoy's predicament? His premise is that WOT is a legitimate global threat and must be dealt with. You're certainly not suggesting we send 200,000 troups into North Korea this week. But you seem to be suggesting with those two perennial powerhouses, France and Germany, leading the way the road to OZ is paved in gold. So are you saying Hilzoy is full of shit and needs relax and let you guys handle it. At least he builds an argument and is a pleasure to spar with. You guys are blinded by whatever you are blinded with. Now that's circular. Makes me want to support our President even stronger.

I think you may be idealizing WW2 a bit. I am no historian, but I seem to recall reading about a pretty fierce isolationist movement in the US, leading up to the war, with FDR having to take all kinds of gradual steps to get us closer and closer to being ready. The wartime propoganda is easier to see than whatever discussions may have been going on then about whether the war could have been avoided, and about whether it was being pursued correctly.

--John

Blog
You're making little argument and less sense so I'd have to call it: Down but kicking.

Please try to come back to: Why did the WoT include Iraq?

I know why it does now. Why did it?

"I think the neo-conservative moment has passed," says Angelo Codevilla, a conservative foreign policy analyst who helped choose Ronald Reagan’s first Cabinet. "The ideology has worn out its welcome because it has proven impossible to implement. Its foot soldiers will pay the price."

"What we seem to be facing across the board in a second Bush term is not action, but rather ‘stand-patism,’” Codevilla says. "I think a second term would be devoted to extricating ourselves from the messes we got into in the first one — especially Iraq."

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5895486/

Iraq was second because they'd already defied the United Nations and Hussein was a known criminal against humanity, setting out a virtual welcome mat in the heart of terrorist central.

3 factual predicates to why "Iraq was second." 2 are correct, but do not support making Iraq second; the third is factually wrong.

1. Iraq had already defied the UN. True, but by no means a reason for war. War shouldn't depend on whether international law is violated. I don't want to make some simplistic statement here about what war should depend on, because every situation is different. But, basically, it shouldn't happen unless it is a good idea. This wasn't.

2. Saddam was a criminal against humanity. No doubt. But the great majority of his crimes were committed a long time ago. It's hard for me to imagine a principled set of rules under which this guy would qualify for invasion while others don't.

I love the idea of the military ousting of terrible dictators. However, I hate the idea of a single state uniilaterally deciding, without any stated set of triggering principles, which dictators should be ousted and when. That system begs for abuse--and I think it has already gotten some.

3. Sorry, but Saddam's regime absolutely was not a welcome mat for terrorist central. The scattered and inconclusive evidence that some terrorists may have passed through Iraq or lingered for a while in Iraq is exactly what you would expect from a large and rather chaotic state where the dictator was opposed to working with terrorists. If Saddam had actually been predisposed to work with terrorists, there would be some evidence of same.

As a consequence of our invasion, the one important central power source has been removed and what was previously a rather chaotic nation has become an extremely chaotic nation. Power is diffused through various more-or-less publicly known nodes. Apparently, some of these nodes, hidden or not, explicitly lay our a welcome mat for terrorists. I don't think it can be gainsaid that there are a grunch more terrorists in Iraq today than there were 2 years ago.

On who should have been "second:" I'm not sure, but I lean toward "nobody." Chomping at the bit to go to war is not the right answer; being ready to go to war when it is necessary and when the proper target has been located is the right answer. In the meanwhile, we should invest in intelligence and defense and work with law enforcement and intelligence agencies around the world to find out as much as we can about our foes, thwart as many of their activities as possible, and capture and kill them when we can.

c - "Please try to come back to: Why did the WoT include Iraq?"

Come back to it? I'll bite. WOT included Iraq because the dumb bastard Hussein had "Attack Me" stamped on his butt cheek. We can't shadow box with terrorist trolls. Hussein challenged us to 'hit me when you see an opening' after years of teasing us like mice. WHAMO! Just what the doctor ordered, a star gate to the Middle East. One of histories great coincidents, don't you think. In the words of that great world traveler and philosopher P.T. Sailor "I'm stong to the finish!" Unfortunately none of this 'piffle' helps our friend Hilzoy, other than cronic eye rolling and head shaking.

"3. Sorry, but Saddam's regime absolutely was not a welcome mat for terrorist central. The scattered and inconclusive evidence that some terrorists may have passed through Iraq or lingered for a while in Iraq is exactly what you would expect from a large and rather chaotic state where the dictator was opposed to working with terrorists. If Saddam had actually been predisposed to work with terrorists, there would be some evidence of same."

I think that you may want to reconsider this paragraph. I really, really think that you want to reconsider this paragraph - and if you don't know what the hell I'm talking about, think about it some more, especially that last sentence of the quoted text.

Moe

Moe, if you're talking about the rewards Saddam offered to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers, than you're right and my last sentence can be picked on on that ground (although I don't think Saddam "worked with" those people--he contributed to them post facto).

If you mean something else, I'd like to hear what you mean. Other than that, I think my paragraph fairly captures what we now know about Saddam's apparently non-existent personal relationship to terrorist groups that have threatened or work against America.

As a tone-related aside, why didn't you just come out and say what you mean? Hey, I can make a stupid mistake, and don't mind being informed of the same when I do. What's with the "go sit in the corner and think about why you've been such a bad boy" rhetoric?

Moe, I see what I implied there, and I agree, the Hussein family certainly would not have 'shared' power in Iraq with Osama & Company, unless perhaps had they escaped unscathed. I look at terrorist central in a much larger geographic sense and concede that Iraq was probably an infrequent portal. I still contest that Afghanistan mountainous region is military quick sand based on Russia's experience there, and it was prudent to strike then dig in. Iraq presented itself as a viable, physical battle field, an legitimate opportunity to flex our muscle and remind the world of what this sleeping giant is still capable of. As we built our argument to the world, the fact that a couple didn't pan out as expected doesn't bother me much. If you believe the 3,000 murdered on our own front porch was a preemptive strike cementing the WOT, then I think you should support our President. If you believe all these other things we've heard in this thread, then you shouldn't. I'm hoping maybe one of you can convince me otherwise. My son just announced they're expecting next Spring. Tell me WTC and all the incidents leading up to it can be diplomatically resolved for us by the Germans and the French.

"Moe, if you're talking about the rewards Saddam offered to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers, than you're right and my last sentence can be picked on on that ground (although I don't think Saddam "worked with" those people--he contributed to them post facto)."

Actually, it destroys your entire paragraph; it can be proven that Hussein worked with terrorists, as I was indeed referring to Hussein's ongoing policy of helping to subsidize and facilitate the random mass murder of Israeli civilians.

As for tone: fine, next time I'll just yell at you, instead.

The Germans and the French?
Please refer me to where I've mentioned anything about the Germans and the French. Let alone where anyone in this thread has mentioned them in a context of them solving our problems.

You essentially reiterated the neo-con view of Iraq when you stated:
"Iraq presented itself as a viable, physical battle field, an legitimate opportunity to flex our muscle and remind the world of what this sleeping giant is still capable of."

In other words, are you claiming that Iraq was an easy target and had property we wanted for a military base?

The neo-con view by the way never needed Iraq to be a part of the WoT. The WoT just provided impetus and excuse.

Yelling would be a little better, but conversation is maybe better than that. I don't mind being corrected if I'm wrong.

I was wrong about that, but not, I don't think about hish working with anti-American terrorists. I don't think there's any evidence of that, and my overall point, that Iraq is more hospitable to America's terrorist enemies than it was two years ago, is not affected in any way I can see.

Encouraging Palestinian suicide bombers is a bad thing, but it's not something for America to go to war over. If you disagree with that, why?

Actually, it destroys your entire paragraph; it can be proven that Hussein worked with terrorists, as I was indeed referring to Hussein's ongoing policy of helping to subsidize and facilitate the random mass murder of Israeli civilians.

Was it ever proven that Hussein had ties to terrorists not operating within the sphere of the Israeli-Palestine conflict?

[Yeesh, it was hard to get that sentence into a relatively unambiguous form. Hopefully it should be clear what I meant.]

Saddam also offered a haven to a participant in the first WTC bombing. He also offered sanctuary to Mohammed Abul Abbas, the terrorist who killed wheelchair-bound Klinghoffer by throwing him overboard from a cruise ship. There were also quite a few Al Qaeda members caught in Iraq the week immediately after the war.

Hmm. Public offers of large sums of money for terrorists who blow up restaurants. Overtures in the 1990s to coordinate with Al Qaeda. Sanctuary to two of the most famous pre-9/11 anti-American terrorists as well as numerous other terrorists--including a terrorist involved in trying to topple the WTC towers with a bomb. Public support for Hamas.

Gosh I wonder where anyone could have possibly gotten the idea that Saddam was involved with terrorism?

Right on Trickster.

The last time hizballah was actively "international" was the late 80's.
I may be off by a few years but not by much.
Giving money (has it ever actually been proved that he backed up his words with deeds on that one?) to the families of suicide bombers after the fact is a little different in scale to Quaddafi's or Osama's actions.

"Yelling would be a little better, but conversation is maybe better than that. I don't mind being corrected if I'm wrong."

Fair enough. As to your other points: obviously, we disagree about whether the links to Palestinian terrorist movements could be legitimately seen to be diagnostic of other linkages. For that matter, you should be aware that I'm one of those "We've been at war with Iraq for the last decade; we just finally admitted that the cease-fire was dead" folks. So your last question is not precisely relevant to my headspace. I was for resuming the conflict about as soon as it became clear to me that Hussein couldn't be trusted; somewhere around the institution of the no-fly zones. It took 9/11 to redefine in my mind the urgency of this policy position.

if you're talking about the rewards Saddam offered to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers, than you're right and my last sentence can be picked on on that ground (although I don't think Saddam "worked with" those people--he contributed to them post facto)

If you've ever been to Saudi Arabia, you could actually see telethons where money is collected for this purpose. It's a terribly slender reed.

BTW, it wasn't too long ago that you could walk into most Irish bars in the NE US and see a carboy collecting money for the Northern Aid Society. Guess where that money went?

Moe, I've had the war-as-extention-of-nofly-zones argument with Irving on Tacitus more times than I care to think of, so I think I know where you're coming from, and I'm fine with just agreeing to disagree. If you would like to hear a summary of my argument, I'll be happy to provide it, but I'm not very interested in yet another back-and-forth over that.

Sebastian, do you have evidence showing that "Saddam offered a haven" as opposed to those guys just coming in unobtrusively on their own? As I said previously, there is evidence that a few terrorists passed through or spent some time in Iraq, but we are talking about a large and fairly chaotic state that borders Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. It's inconceivable that no terrorists would ever spend any time there unless Saddam's border control and non-Baghdad bureaucratic infrastructure had been a great deal stronger than the evidence shows it was.

Hizbollah is supported by Iran.

But I think fine technicalities between supporting Hamas and supporting Al Qaeda are symptomatic of a poor understaning of the war on terrorism. As you are so fond of reminding us when we are attacking countries, the boundaries of terrorist circles are not so rigidly defined as neat labeling systems would indicate. Al Qaeda and Hizbollah and Hamas, all organizations with theoretically contradictory aims, coordinate training and have shared memberships. Hamas and Al Qaeda both trained with the IRA, which isn't exactly an Islamist organization. Middle Eastern terrorism doesn't come in nice little packages, where we can attack one and ignore others. Saddam was deeply involved with Middle Eastern terrorism. Saddam protect anti-American terrorists. In the late 1990s we know that Saddam and Al Qaeda were in contact with each other. Our most excellent intelligence services don't know what happened after that. But we know that he publically continued to protect a terrorist who was involved in bombing the New York World Trade Center Towers. We know that he protected Abbas for years after he threw an American into the ocean. We know that many Al Qaeda members were captured in Iraq immediately after the war--before the allegedly independent insurgency. Pretending that Saddam had little to do with terrorism is just silly.

carsick - "The Germans and the French?
Please refer me to where I've mentioned anything about the Germans and the French."

You didn't.

"In other words, are you claiming that Iraq was an easy target and had property we wanted for a military base?"

Not exactly, but close.

"The neo-con view by the way never needed Iraq to be a part of the WoT. The WoT just provided impetus and excuse."

3,000 dead seems to be a bit more significant than 'impetus and excuse'. And there may be some truth to your neo-con view. Catastrophic events generally always tip the scales towards someones way of thinking. Apparantly this time it's not yours. A miscalculation by our enemies perhaps?

Blogbudsman: several points. First, I disagree with you about the attention span of this country. There was no real opposition to the invasion of Afghanistan. The one persistent question that I recall from that period was: why aren't we being asked to do anything more than shop in response to terror? The opposition to the war in Iraq stems not from any general lack of resolve, but from the fact that its connection to the WoT is genuinely unclear to a lot of us.

Second, by restricting us to "the bounds of morality", I meant only to gesture in the direction of the idea that there are SOME ways of ridding the US of the threat of terrorism that are plainly immoral -- killing everyone outside the US, for instance -- and that for that reason I didn't mean to be endorsing the idea that we should do literally ANYTHING it took. I disagree with your characterization of morality, but I am not sure that we should reslly get into an argument about that now.

Third, an awful lot depends on your characterization of Iraq as "setting out a virtual welcome mat in the heart of terrorist central". For now, let's just say that I disagree with it. To some of the others who have commented on this, I'll just say (a) that as I said at the outset, I take our enemy in the WoT to be, in the first instance, terrorists who mean us harm. Us, not Israel or the governments of Sri Lanka and Spain, or whatever. Other terrorists are odious, but they are not, imho, the primary targets in the WoT. (b) In order for the war in Iraq to be a good idea, in terms of the WoT, it would have to be the case (in my view) not just that there were some contacts between Iraq and terrorists who mean us harm, but enough to make toppling Hussein the best use of our resources, and (b) that the negative consequences of invading Iraq, in terms of the WoT, do not outweigh the positive. That is, you need to consider all the consequences, and show not just that there is something to be said for invading Iraq (that's easy), but that the invasion would have been better than anything else we could have done with the time, manpower, lives, and money we spent on the invasion.

Oh yeah, blogbudsman: best not to leap to conclusions about people's gender. I am female.

Come on Trickster. Both lived in Iraq for years. They weren't just passing through.

Sebastian: Perhaps you have better intel than was available to the 9/11 Commission WRT Al Qaeda/Saddam ties. However, we know bin Laden had little use for Saddam, regarding him to be an 'infidel.'

We also know Saddam wasn't all that big on the Israeli/Palestinian issue, either; his interest only seemed to grow when he felt threatened and tried to use it as a wedge issue to gain support of Arab nations against the West.

I'm also curious as to why you keep bringing up the discredited theories of Laurie Mylroie.

"Oh yeah, blogbudsman: best not to leap to conclusions about people's gender. I am female."

You know, I think I'd picked that up before. Just carelessness on my part.

I'll do better.

Wow Jadegold, way to ignore my points entirely.

And I'm not relying on Mylroie at all. She has theories about Saddam being directly involved in the first WTC bombing which are interesting but probably unprovable, so I never mentioned them nor did I make them a part of my argument. Your use of her in this argument would be like me saying that you rely on Michael Moore to prove that the war in Afghanistan was fought for an oil pipeline because you and he have similar positions on the Iraq war.

moe
A case may have been made for what you wanted prior to 9/11.
It also would have been something to plan for if the president were able to win popular support.
Instead the president and his administration twisted and pulled intel until it could look related to the WoT and got rid of or didn't include the folks who's job was to prepare for an invasion and occupation of that country.
It goes beyond incompetence when a deliberate decision was made to eliminate input of the professionals who studied ways to occupy and rebuild Iraq.
Is Feith yout fall guy too?
Was Iraq so valuable that Osama is free and North Korea knows we are bogged down and the Sudan can practice genocide unhindered and Pakistan is off the hook for selling nuclear secrets and budding terrorist now believe we are also vulnerable on the battle field and their are more budding terrorists than ever before and...

But we know that he publically continued to protect a terrorist who was involved in bombing the New York World Trade Center Towers.

From the linked article by Peter Bergen:

In addition to ignoring Yousef's many connections to al Qaeda, Mylroie is clearly aware that in 1995, he gave what would be his only interview to the Arabic newspaper al Hayat since she alludes to it in her book Study of Revenge. "I have no connection with Iraq," said Yousef to his interviewer, adding for good measure that "the Iraqi people must not pay for the mistakes made by Saddam." "Yousef," who traveled under a variety of false identities, confirmed that his real name was indeed Abdul Basit and that he was a Pakistani born in Kuwait, and also admitted that he knew and admired Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, one of al Qaeda's spiritual gurus, whom the U.S. government would later convict of plotting terror attacks in New York. Yousef went on to say that he wanted to "aid members" of Egypt's Jihad group, a terrorist organization then led by Ayman al-Zawahiri, who is now bin Laden's deputy. Yousef's interview has the ring of truth as he freely volunteered that he knew Sheikh Rahman, the cleric whom the U.S. government had by then already identified as the inspiration for several terrorist conspiracies in New York during the early '90s and also explained that he was part of an Islamic movement which planned to carry out attacks in Saudi Arabia to avenge the arrests of Sheikh Salman al-Audah and Sheikh Safar al-Hawali, radical clerics who have profoundly influenced both bin Laden and al Qaeda. Yousef knew that he was likely facing a lifetime in prison at the time of this interview, and so had little reason to dissemble. In Study of Revenge, Mylroie is careful not to mention the substance of what Yousef said here as it demolishes her theory that he was an Iraqi agent.


......

Moreover, Mylroie's broader contention that the first Trade Center attack was an Iraqi plot is, to put it mildly, not shared by the intelligence and law-enforcement officials familiar with the subsequent investigation. Vince Cannistraro, who headed the C.I.A.'s Counterterrorist Center in the early 1990s, told me, "My view is that Laurie has an obsession with Iraq and trying to link Saddam to global terrorism. Years of strenuous effort to prove the case have been unavailing." Ken Pollack, a former C.I.A. analyst, scarcely to be described as "soft" on Saddam--his book The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq made the most authoritative argument for toppling the dictator--dismissed Mylroie's theories to me: "The NSC [National Security Council] had the intelligence community look very hard at the allegations that the Iraqis were behind the 1993 Trade Center attack. Finding those links would have been very beneficial to the U.S. government at the time, but the intelligence community said that there were no such links."
.......

Mary Jo White, the no-nonsense U.S. attorney who successfully prosecuted both the Trade Center case and the al Qaeda bombers behind the 1998 attacks on U.S. embassies in Africa, told me that there was no evidence to support Mylroie's claims: "We investigated the Trade Center attack thoroughly, and other than the evidence that Ramzi Yousef traveled on a phony Iraqi passport, that was the only connection to Iraq." Neil Herman, the F.B.I. official who headed the Trade Center probe, explained that following the attacks, one of the lower-level conspirators, Abdul Rahman Yasin, did flee New York to live with a family member in Baghdad: "The one glaring connection that can't be overlooked is Yasin. We pursued that on every level, traced him to a relative and a location, and we made overtures to get him back." However, Herman says that Yasin's presence in Baghdad does not mean Iraq sponsored the attack: "We looked at that rather extensively. There were no ties to the Iraqi government." In sum, by the mid-'90s, the Joint Terrorism Task Force in New York, the F.B.I., the U.S. Attorney's office in the Southern District of New York, the C.I.A., the N.S.C., and the State Department had all found no evidence implicating the Iraqi government in the first Trade Center attack.


hilzoy - "First, I disagree with you about the attention span of this country. There was no real opposition to the invasion of Afghanistan."

The attention span of this country is toggled by the mainstream media. We would have gotten bogged down in Afghanistan and a similar pattern would have ensued, fired by politics and special elite interests.

And I'll try not to be so flip about morality. When we do this well, it's wonderful. When we don't - well...

"but that the invasion would have been better than anything else we could have done with the time, manpower, lives, and money we spent on the invasion."

No argument, it's a strong argument. But isn't that what our enemies expect from us these days? Almost analysis paralysis. Hussein played this hand with ludicrous predictability. We're doing close to the same thing with Sadr. So, the opposite is reckless global irresponsibility? Isn't there a parallel argument regarding the legitimacy of the United Nations and their complete flaccidity. Combine the international intrigue of Food for Oil and diplomatic conspiracy and then determine the moral high ground. I'm not sure the frontier cowboy response that people want to abhor didn't turn the terrorist war on it's ear. Of course, all they think they have to do is hold on for a couple more months and the big bear will tire and lumber back in to the woods. Give us strength.


Ok, JadeGold. You are now officially blathering. I am not contending that Yasin's almost 10 year presence in the capital city of a country with one of the most comprehensive secret police forces in the world proves that Saddam was involved in the planning of the WTC attack. Now that you bring it up, it is an interesting speculation but it has nothing at all to do with my argument.

I argue that Saddam provides a safe harbour for terrorists, including anti-American terrorists. I argue that he is deeply involved in Middle Eastern terrorist groups. I argue that these groups don't have sharp boundaries and some of them, including Hamas, have expressed willingness to target attacks at Americans. I don't care about the theories of Mylroie. I am not supporting him (her?).

"moe
A case may have been made for what you wanted prior to 9/11."

A case should have been made, actually. It should have been made back in the 1990s, but the previous administration was hamstrung early on in military matters, and never recovered*. It merely became urgent after 9/11. And, contra to your statements, I can say with some certainty that I was not 'misled' about anything, nor were the people who I have talked to who support this war, nor were (I suspect) the ones that support this that I haven't talked to yet. I knew from the start that this was going to be a multi-decade effort - bipartisan one, too - and a war unlike any we've seen to date. I also knew from the start that waging it in the manner that we have done would have the geopolitical equivalent of kicking over an anthill.

So, please, spare me the 'misled'. At some point, certain elements of the antiwar movement are going to have to come to grips with the inconvenient fact that decent, honest, intelligent people disagree with them - and that said elements' criticisms re the motives and abilities of the current administration have merely the status of opinions, not facts. I'd hate to think that you were one of those elements.

Moe

*Clinton was more sinned against than sinning, in this case; the Pentagon brass took the initiative and held it for far too long. And the country suffered for it.

facts

more">http://money.cnn.com/2003/03/17/news/economy/war_cost/">more facts:

Administration officials have occasionally hazarded guesses about the costs, but the administration has been quick to distance itself from those guesses.

In September 2002, former Bush economic adviser Larry Lindsey said war could cost between $100 billion and $200 billion, speculation that was immediately dismissed by White House Office of Management and Budget Director Mitch Daniels.

Daniels himself said in December that war could cost between $50 billion and $60 billion, but quickly clarified that it was impossible to tell how much the war might cost and that he was simply trying to compare a new war with its only close historical precedent, the first Gulf War, which cost about $60 billion.


Last fall, Democrats in the House estimated war could cost $93 billion. The bipartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), however, said the war would only cost between $9 billion and $13 billion for initial troop deployment and another $9 billion a month thereafter.

As a measure of just how wide the range of possible costs is, the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, another nonpartisan think tank, said in February that war could cost between $18 billion and $85 billion, that five years of post-war occupation could cost between $25 billion and $105 billion, and that humanitarian and other relief efforts could cost between $84 billion and $498 billion.

Many observers have criticized the Bush administration for keeping Americans in the dark about these potential costs and the possibility that it could take several years and many billions of dollars to rebuild Iraq and help it restructure its government.

"U.S. officials have yet to fully describe to Congress and the American people the magnitude of the resources that will be required to meet post-conflict needs," said a report called "Iraq: The Day After," a report on the costs and consequences of rebuilding Iraq sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations, a nonpartisan think tank.

The report, authored in part by James R. Schlesinger, defense secretary under Presidents Nixon and Ford, and Thomas R. Pickering, ambassador to the United Nations under the first President Bush, estimated that post-war rebuilding -- including reconstruction, humanitarian aid and the deployment of a minimum of 75,000 troops -- could cost $20 billion per year for "several" years.

There was also no budget request at all for Iraq in the original budget Bush sumbitted to Congress in 2003--I guess they figured the deficit looked bad enough as it was.

Sebastian: Once more, you obfuscate the issue by attempting to draw a distinction where one doesn't exist.

On one hand, you charge Saddam created a safe harbor for all manner of terrorists. OTOH, the article (and there others) specifically says Iraq didn't sponsor them or provide them with support. I'd also add that many of the terrorists you mentioned travelled to and lived in countries other than Iraq--some are countries we consider allies.

Frankly, if you're unable to demonstrate a collaborative relationship between Saddam and these terrorists, your argument is so much smoke.

Again, if you have intel unavailable to the 9/11 Commission, I'm certain they'd be interested in it.

Jadegold, your argument is so much italics...

Trickster,

I find your proposal for an international framework against terrorism rather interesting. But I think that you're not considering the precedence of Iraq and UN which actually complicates the reality of your idea, which you oddly acknowledge and endorse here:

1. Iraq had already defied the UN. True, but by no means a reason for war. War shouldn't depend on whether international law is violated.

Any rogue state, designated as such by your Security Council Anti-Terrorism taskforce or what-have-you, would suffer no consequences as the result of the doctrine you lay out here. Iraq, the only outstanding violator of a UN resolution that was binding by force, suffers no consequence - because various Security Council members would rather not work against their own immediate self-interest. The UN is supposed to prevent genocide - yet, again, member states hold the protection of their own economic interests above that principle (see Sudan.)

Regrettably, merely outlining such notions, or even ultimately having them accepted by the UN at large, is no guarantee that the principles and purpose behind them will be met with any reliability. Any plan seeking to look towards the future needs to address this somehow, and meanwhile you have to consider that meeting other international obligations (Iraq, Sudan, etc.) might even be a necessarily component to the success of your idea.

My apologies

apologies for snark, does this work?

Yes, the administration assumed existing WMD stockpiles and active programs. Turns out the intelligence was wrong and the assumptions unsupported. Alas for Hussein, it was his job to prove it to us, to our satisfaction. Given that said assumptions were held on both sides of the spectrum and all over the world, I'd say that he failed. Badly.

But good of Billmon to provide primary sources for his quotes. I've been known to snark about him in the past, so credit where credit is due.

Moe, in my view the target shifted a great deal in the months before the war - do you think that your above applies until a certain date at which point it was too late? My memory of events has Saddam having largely given in to inspectors who failed to find the stuff we thought they'd find where we told them to look.

Also I think you're sweeping a lot of important stuff under "said assumptions" - I think a lot of people assumed Saddam had small amounts of nasty undeliverable stuff, but that wasn't (again my view) quite the point of the argument.

moe
My very next sentence was:
"It also would have been something to plan for if the president were able to win popular support."

Obviously a number of people who are decent and honest believe that the war is not only just but, as you state, they may even think it is being run competently. I doubt that is a majority of Americans though.

You continue to push the "urgency" argument. We obviously will never come to agreement there. I argued before the invasion that we had better have all our ducks in a row before we begin such a venture. I was against the war because I didn't believe we did. Colin Powell with his, "You break it, you bought it" line seemed to agree.

"Moe, in my view the target shifted a great deal in the months before the war - do you think that your above applies until a certain date at which point it was too late? My memory of events has Saddam having largely given in to inspectors who failed to find the stuff we thought they'd find where we told them to look."

I will agree that there was a too-late point, and it happened about a month or two before the actual resumption of combat activities. What Hussein should have done, really, was - as abjectly and fawningly as possible - thrown open all of the doors the moment UNSC 1441 was ratified. I explicitly mean that he should have done every single thing that we might have required of him, up to and including turning himself and his regime in for crimes against humanity. He might have well done so: because we were coming for him if he didn't.

And so it transpired.

"Also I think you're sweeping a lot of important stuff under "said assumptions" - I think a lot of people assumed Saddam had small amounts of nasty undeliverable stuff, but that wasn't (again my view) quite the point of the argument."

Small amounts, large amounts; he wasn't supposed to have any, as per the ceasefire in place and numerous UNSC resolutions. Although, to be honest, I usually argue the war using ceasefire violation / unacceptable risks themes, with humanitarian concerns playing counterpoint and democracy-formation forming the backbeat...

Jonas, thanks for your comments on my proposal and let me make one comment on your comments.

Should this framework function exactly as I have it in mind, Iraq would've been on the list because of the known and substantial presence of Ansar al-Islam in N. Iraq. Let me talk a little further about what I would have liked to have seen, just to put some flesh on the bones.

Step #1: ringy-dingy up Saddam Hussein and say, hello, this is the UN, we'd like to cooperate with you to wipe out Ansar. I'm not sure what Saddam would've said. I think he didn't like Ansar, but OTOH he probably enjoyed having it up there as a counterweight to the Kurdish militias. I also having trouble guessing whether he would enjoy the chance to work with the UN, or the chance to repudiate the UN.

There's also the chance that Saddam really does/did have some kind of secret ties with Ansar. In that case, he would give them the heads-up and the camp(s) would disperse. That's just something you have to put up with to capture the plan's benefits. In any case, you get the benefit of denying Ansar the advantages of working and training openly, and although you aren't capturing terrorists and intelligence, you don't get that absent the plan anyway.

Step #2A: work with Saddam if he is willing. This would be somewhat awkward, but I don't really see any dangers, and who knows what a little cooperation might lead to.

Step #2B: if Saddam is not willing to cooperate, a practical decision would be made about whether an operation were still feasible in light of the host nation's ability to resist. In this case, Saddam would have little capabilities to resist a determined raid in the North. I think this is one of those circumstances where the correct decision would be to override the host state's resistance, go in anyway, and fight the host state's forces to the extent they are interfering with the operation.

The operation, again, would be a quick-in/quick-out job, and nobody would be stuck with an occupation or fighting a long-term guerilla war.

"My very next sentence was:
"It also would have been something to plan for if the president were able to win popular support.""

So it was. OK, fair enough: I remember there being a consensus at the time, and I think that the Bush administration came by it honestly, even though a lot of the WMD evidence turned out to be gunk. I don't think that Bush mislead (the word implies intent, which is something that is often alleged but never proven to my satisfaction), and the pre-emptive doctrine that we've established wrt terrorism is going to mean that our criteria for military action has gotten a good deal looser. And I think that this is a necessary and proper change in our policy.

Which is not to say that people aren't allowed to disagree with me. :)

He might have well done so: because we were coming for him if he didn't.

I'm pretty sure we were committed -- well, to be more precise, the Bush Administration had committed itself -- to coming for him by April 2002 irrespective of his compliance or non-compliance with our demands. I was basically convinced of the inevitability of war in Iraq by May/June 2002 and have never had reason to doubt it. Unfortunately.

"I think that the Bush administration came by it honestly" - strongly disagree - see "stovepiping", or Powell's supposed take on the evidence he'd been given.

I certainly don't blame Bush for this as for the OVP and much of the rest of the admin concerned with the issue. I do blame him for putting those people in place, not looking for skeptical voices, and for letting the stovepipers (starting with Cheney) keep their jobs.

Re the timeframe, I have to say the "at two months pre-war it was too late" view makes me extrememly unhappy, as does the surrounding Saddam-should-have-resigned-at-the-pleasure-of-the-US text - but I respect your opinion, esp. given what a monster Saddam was.

"I'm pretty sure we were committed -- well, to be more precise, the Bush Administration had committed itself -- to coming for him by April 2002 irrespective of his compliance or non-compliance with our demands."

And Saddam's demonstrated non-compliance with such demands in late 2002 and January 2003 apparently holds no weight either?

BTW is there any particular reason we have abandoned the discussion about Iraq's involvement in terrorism? Isn't it important in a discussion about the proper prosecution of the war on terrorism?

As per Saddam's non-compliance with our demands in late 2002, early 2003, it appears that Saddam gave all the compliance of which he was capable. Specifically, he gave the inspectors the run of Iraq, with full, unfettered, timely access to all sites in Iraq.

His point of non-compliance was in failing to prove that he had destroyed his weapons, as required by UN Res. 1341. In retrospect, however, it appears (or at least this is David Kay's view) that Saddam had already destroyed his WMDs without documenting their destruction, which means that this sort of compliance was not within his purview.

As long as a large number of UN inspectors were on the ground, inspecting, it seems pretty obvious that any WMDs that Saddam did have were hidden and dispersed, and thus not mobilized for use. That makes me wonder why we didn't heed the please of most of the rest of the world for more time for inspectors to work.

"As per Saddam's non-compliance with our demands in late 2002, early 2003, it appears that Saddam gave all the compliance of which he was capable. Specifically, he gave the inspectors the run of Iraq, with full, unfettered, timely access to all sites in Iraq."

That isn't what I remember. I remember complaints about spy planes being in the air scuttling at least one and maybe two inspections. I remember centrifuges under rose bushes. I remember offices with all the name plates removed. And I don't have a crystal clear recollection of the issue, but weren't the palaces still of limits?

I remember centrifuges under rose bushes.

One centrifuge part buried in someone's backyard, yes? Do we know whether Saddam himself knew about it, or whether it even formed part of an official policy?

[As a side note: does anyone know what happened to that scientist? Last I heard he'd been "disappeared", right after the centrifuge story failed to bear weight, but I'd be delighted to be proven wrong.]

moe
I don't have time at this moment to comment on more than this:

"the pre-emptive doctrine that we've established wrt terrorism is going to mean that our criteria for military action has gotten a good deal looser"

I beleive you are wrong here for the very credibility issues we are illustrating in this thread. I don't think a majority of the public, the congress, or any international group will in the immmediate future give the blank check Bush was given for Iraq.

I think that could seriously hinder our options in the WoT.

Trickster,

Step #2B: if Saddam is not willing to cooperate, a practical decision would be made about whether an operation were still feasible in light of the host nation's ability to resist....The operation, again, would be a quick-in/quick-out job, and nobody would be stuck with an occupation or fighting a long-term guerilla war.

You are assuming that the "host nation" (such a polite term! you should work for the UN!) will respond with traditional means of force to the operations. I think Saddam - and many others - would be smart enough to play the insurgency/guerrila strategy. Think of the vulnerabilities in "Blackhawk Down," another quick get-in, get-out operation. If you want to address such likely interference, this means the operations will have to have a larger scope than merely targeting terrorists. I suspect that the scope could grow to full-out invasion if one were realistically trying to put an end to the interference - bringing us back to where we started, right?

Unless, perhaps, you credibily threatened a full invasion, as the host nation might be rational enough to choose the limited action over the full invasion and therefore not interfere. Ironically, the Iraq invasion might make such threats more credible.

And on a tangent:

His point of non-compliance was in failing to prove that he had destroyed his weapons, as required by UN Res. 1341.

The point was not singular as you imply. Scientists were unavailable for questioning, and not allowed to leave Iraq as required. Iraq dragged its feet and played games with allowing U2 spyplane overflights. There's more - check the end of every testimony given to the Security Council by Hans Blix indicating that Iraq could not possibly be seen as meeting it's obligations under the various resolutions.

Rosebush Reactors Debunked

Excellent definition of debunked: an article which says: "True, Obeidi said he’d buried the centrifuge equipment, as he’d been ordered to do in 1991 by Saddam’s son Qusay Hussein and son-in-law Hussein Kamel." and doesn't contradict that fact anywhere later.

Huh, ordered to by the government. Hmm, not revealed despite a responsibility to. Sounds like it supports my point about a lack of full disclosure. It isn't as if Saddam said: "I know we had you scientists hide stuff and our recordkeeping has been bad. We really want to help the UN out, so let's get all the stuff together and turn it over." Nope, that isn't what happened at all.

An article that says Saddam's centrifuge program had not been restarted as of the time of the war doesn't come close to debunking.

BTW does anyone know what happened to the cyclotron that Ritter and the inspectors saw in the mid-1990s? Did that ever turn up anywhere?

That was a calutron, Sebastian.

I don't think anyone reputable has advanced the idea that there were reactors hidden under any rosebushes, JG.

Moe, by the way I want to add to my last comment that this has been a bad week in Iraq. If you'll temporarily suspend the posting rules I'll express how I actually feel.

On Iraq as part of the war on terror, I think it's fair to say that there will always be a disagreement about whether the Iraq could have been considered an appropriate WOT target in late 02-03.

I doubt, though, that there is disagreement as to whether the Admin was required to so consider Iraq.

And this, I think, is the nub of the real wot issue: if Iraq War '03 wasn't required, then we have to ask whether, as part of the whole WOT, it was prudent.

My own view is that it was a huge gamble, and, in the event, unjustified: the domino theory is in shambles now, and I don't think it's being taken seriously by anyone in a policy position right now. We're not expecting to build a democratic paradise, we're just hoping to get out alive. (That is, the theory was that we could create Switzerland, and now we'd consider creating a Pakistan or a Jordan a real triumph. Even creating an Iran is better than leaving behind a Lebanon, in our current policy). The cost has been tremendous, even if you only consider the cost of not apprehending bin Laden and don't think about all the PR (and consequent local cooperation) we've lost over the thing.

* * * * *

I had it backwards yesterday (thanks Slart!): To Bush every problem looks like a Gordian knot, so the only tool he reaches for is the sword.

"On Iraq as part of the war on terror, I think it's fair to say that there will always be a disagreement about whether the Iraq could have been considered an appropriate WOT target in late 02-03."

True enough.

"I doubt, though, that there is disagreement as to whether the Admin was required to so consider Iraq."

Given that the mere existence of the Hussein regime was immobilizing a large number of American troops in Saudi Arabia*, I think that there can in fact be disagreement about whether it is so required. Those troops were solely there to prevent an invasion; the conflict that placed them there was unfinished business.

Moe

*I'm aware that they're currently immobilized in Iraq, instead. It's still a net improvement - however necessary, non-Muslim troops that close to Mecca were an irritant - and one which will give us more flexibility, beginning in a few years.

Come on moe. What was it you were saying earlier to someone about rethinking a line?

"Those troops were solely there to prevent an invasion"

Having troops in the middle of the Middle East and not having that be Israel is key for any number of reasons - not the most or exclusive of which was to prevent invasion from Iraq.

Here, finally, a comparison to post war Germany can realistically be made. Are we still in Germany because we fear further invasion?

No. We're there because a base close to potential action is a good place to have a base militarily. The action is by no means limited to those of Hussein or those of Germany.

Moe:

Once again a reason that invading Iraq might benefit the WOT. (We may not be net gainers from exchanging proximity to Mecca for proximity to Najaf, though). Not, however, a showing that invading Iraq at this point in the struggle against AQ and its allies was necessary.

CC

Oops quite right, a calutron. A cyclotron is a totally different beast.

But in any case. Was it found? What happened to it?

"I'm aware that they're currently immobilized in Iraq, instead. It's still a net improvement - however necessary, non-Muslim troops that close to Mecca were an irritant - and one which will give us more flexibility, beginning in a few years."

So if this is an improvement, do you think that the presence of our troops in Iraq is less irritating to whoever you meant? Enough less irritating to make up for the cost in lives, blood, money, and everything else?

Again, Sebastian, the story's been debunked. The fact is the Rosebush scientist maintains the the centrifuge program was never reconstituted.

Even this appointed administration can't muster the chutzpah to say this was evidence of WMD.

Hmm, not revealed despite a responsibility to. Sounds like it supports my point about a lack of full disclosure.

That's why I asked the question of whether Saddam actually knew about the centrifuge burial. It's largely academic, I grant you, but given the utter dearth of any other such findings I'm wondering if maybe Qusay and Kamel didn't decide to put aside a little insurance for the future. Complicating matters, though, is that Kamel didn't reveal this (or any similar plan) after his defection.

In short, I don't think we can use this to support much of any point (save that Saddam never felt able to recommence his nuclear program) until we know more about the reasons for the burial, and in Obeidi's continued absence we're not going to find out anything new.

BTW does anyone know what happened to the cyclotron that Ritter and the inspectors saw in the mid-1990s? Did that ever turn up anywhere?

Slarti and I were actually talking about this in a previous thread. A cursory Google reconfirmed that there was no substantive mention of the calutrons post-1999 and, in fact, I'm fairly sure nothing new was said about them beyond about 1995-96.

Going back to my nuke power classes, I'm under the impression calutrons would be fairly easy to find given their heavy power requirements and large cooling facilities.

They're not exactly something that could be hidden away in someone's basement or closet.

Yeah but your science classes didn't know about those cold-fusion Iraqi calutrons did they?

Best in the world until their scientists got more interested in winning the "new breed" category from the International Rose Society.

"They're not exactly something that could be hidden away in someone's basement or closet."

I know, that is why I thought it was curious that they have never been found even though they were definitely seen in the heyday of inspection obstruction.

Also, anyone know what happened to the guy who begged the inspectors to protect him?

Sebastian
Rest assured that if any of the things you are asking about had a "snowball's chance" in helping the administration make their after-case then you wouldn't have to be ask about them now. We would all know.

Well sure, which means we haven't found it. Which leads to a disturbing question. What the hell happened to it? It was way too big and important to have been 'lost' under someones rose bushes. So what happened to it?

They're not exactly something that could be hidden away in someone's basement or closet.

They're large enough to need a flatbed truck to carry. A calutron by itself isn't all that big; actually putting it to work would require infrastructure. Confusing the calutron with the infrastructure, though, doesn't make for a good line of reasoning.

"So if this is an improvement, do you think that the presence of our troops in Iraq is less irritating to whoever you meant?"

Given that I believe that it has been at least long-standing custom that non-Muslims are not permitted to have access to Mecca, I would have to say that the answer to that would be 'yes'. We've withdrawn from being within striking distance of an area that almost a billion people consider profoundly holy ground.

"Enough less irritating to make up for the cost in lives, blood, money, and everything else?"

Again, yes.

Moe:

You seem to be arguing that in order to prevail in the struggle with AQ it was necessary to make the concession that was AQ's principal demand.

CC

"You seem to be arguing that in order to prevail in the struggle with AQ it was necessary to make the concession that was AQ's principal demand."

I was unaware that our withdrawal from Saudi Arabia was a panicky retreat from ObL's triumphantly conquering army. Context is everything. :)

Moe said: I'm aware that they're currently immobilized in Iraq, instead. It's still a net improvement - however necessary, non-Muslim troops that close to Mecca were an irritant - and one which will give us more flexibility, beginning in a few years.

The fact of our withdrawal from the region being something al-Qaida wanted is not the same as saying we did it because they wanted it.

Moe's entirely right - the farther we are from Mecca, the happier a lot of people are, and the more flexibility we have in general. That's by no means the same thing as saying we did that to get the flexibility. It's a happy by-product of policy.

Q. Can you posit that the invasion of Iraq in 2003 was not only permissibly linked to the WOT, but a necessary step, in the sequence undertaken?

A It got us out of SA, in which our presence had a number of people upset.

Q. Are you saying we had to do what the people who attacked us wanted in order to beat them?

A. We didn't do it because they wanted it. We did it because a number of people wanted it, a set that only incidentally includes the people who would attack us to get us to do it.

A. We didn't do it because they wanted it. We did it because a number of people wanted it, a set that only incidentally includes the people who would attack us to get us to do it.

Actual A. We didn't do it because they wanted it. We did it because it fit our revised long-term plans to do so, while at the same time neutralizing a longstanding complaint that had been seized upon by a particular enemy. And we did it in a fashion that made it clear that it was an action, not a reaction.

CharleyCarp, I can fairly easily tell the difference between being driven off and leaving because we don't have to be there anymore. So can al-Qaeda. So can the population of the Middle East. Can you?

I'm not the one who said that getting out of SA in '03 was an essential step in the WOT, so important that it justifies the downside risk to the WOT inherent in the Iraq War.

I'm also unclear why you think the AQ objective was that we be driven off, rather than that we be merely absent.

That said, we don't disagree, Moe, of the wisdom of moving out of SA once the Hussein regime was overthrown. I'm not sure, though, that people who are 'undecided' as to whether they ought to support AQ are concerned with the difference between our going because we beat SH, and our going because AQ will attack us otherwise. I think we'd look a whole lot better if we'd caught OBL first.

The perception you are talking about is very important to understanding the war on terror. But I'm posting on the topic in a half-hour....

"ObL's triumphantly conquering army"

ObL's army is an international guerilla terrorist organization and by many accounts, three years after 9/11, a triumphantly successful one at still causing terror internationally. see Beslan
http://www.csmonitor.com/2004/0907/p01s02-woeu.html

But, you know, Iraq was more important than focusing on alQueda.

"I'm not the one who said that getting out of SA in '03 was an essential step in the WOT, so important that it justifies the downside risk to the WOT inherent in the Iraq War."

True. Although neither would I, quite: "it helps justify" would be closer to my position. Extremely important, to be sure - then again, so was cleaning up old messes before we started in on the new ones.

"I'm also unclear why you think the AQ objective was that we be driven off, rather than that we be merely absent."

Because the former would be a dramatic validation of their core ideological beliefs and the latter is a slap in their face. Al-Qaeda's belief structure isn't called a fantasy ideology for nothing; their narrative is one where brave and devout sacrifices create a world where the forces of the infidel gather, only to be scattered by the righteous (and appeased) will of Allah. Then the valiant survivors will take command of the Holy Places, drive out the corrupt leaders and go on to rule the world.

American troops departing from SA because they have more important things to do with their time doesn't fit that narrative. It's almost as if we could care less about controlling the Holy Cities; we're certainly not reading the lines given to us. That must grate with them.

Moe

PS: There are two mistakes to make when dealing with an enemy: assuming that he's completely ineffectual - and assuming that he's seven feet tall and farting fire.

Moe's belief about troops in Iraq being less of an irritant than in Saudi Arabia (btw, were they actually stationed in Mecca? My understanding is that they were just thought to be too close to the holy city) is contradicted by every single study and article I have ever seen about Muslim public opinion about the U.S. And I mean every single one; I am not exaggerating. Have I missed any that show the opposite?

My guess is Bin Laden did care more about U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia, but he's going to try to kill us no matter what so that's really neither here nor there.

On the other hand, it's not giving in to the terrorists to do something they ask for, as long as it's:
1. the right thing to do, or
2. in your best interests, and
3. the circumstances make it clear that you are not doing this as a reward for terrorism.

marguerite -- the locations of some of our bases in SA are secret; however, they are reported not to include either Mecca or Medina. Source: here.

Being as we have troops there at the express invitation of the Saudi government, and being that bin Laden isn't part of the Saudi government, I think we can consider ourselves there legitimately. Those that disagree need to take it up with the Saudis.

JFTR, we're in Rihadh, Jiddah, Dhahran and some places that, if I told you about, I'd have to kill you. It's unlikely the other locations are anywhere near a major urban area, because that would make the secrecy a little difficult to maintain.

And really, I have no idea where they are.

Oh, and an aside, here: the fellow that got snatched and beheaded in Saudi Arabia was a Lockheed Martin employee. I've heard a few things from his co-workers, to the effect that it had to have been an inside job. Inside, as in one or more of the Saudis that worked with him failed to show up for work after he got snatched. This is one guy's opinion, but he's a guy who worked and lived with Johnson, and worked with the same crew Johnson did.

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