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October 16, 2004

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Moderate Arab leaders who have attempted to introduce a modicum of democracy

Such as..?

Bearing in mind that we're talking about a modicum of democracy, not a Jeffersonian ideal, Morocco leaps to mind, and I suspect if I had a better grasp of some of the smaller Gulf States, I might propose Qatar and Bahrain, but I really don't know about them to have more than a suspicion in that direction.

People tend to forget that we started off with a modicum of democracy in the first place. It took almost two centuries from the Declaration of Independence to the final killing of barriers against some Americans voting, remember. The Senate voted down womens' right to vote as recently as 1918, even though it finally passed two years later. Here in Canada, things happened at about the same snail's pace.

So yeah, I don't think it's fair to condemn many of the world's countries for making an insufficiently instant transition to stable, multiparty democracy. It just is not going to happen. Period. If you're willing to wait a generation instead of a presidential mandate, on the other hand...

Between this weeks debate, the week in Iraq, Jon Stewart's shooting his bow right through 'Crossfire' and the NY Times endorsement, it's going to be quite an interesting Sunday morning chatfest. It might be worth channel surfing through for the first time in ages.

We look back on the past four years with hearts nearly breaking

I have hesitated to state this, although I feel it and understand it totally. I have hesitated because despite what looks like a rape of the values I cherish in my country, I read, hear, and see other people who indicate they intend to vote for Bush and I try to see what they see...try to understand why his constant faithlessness doesn't bother them...try to convince myself it won't be so bad if he wins again.

I'll survive if he does...I won't expect to prosper or realize many of my most important dreams under his vision for the nation, but I'll survive. I will, however, truly remain broken hearted.

Edward -- me too. It's one of the reasons I started reading this blog, actually: the only response to heartbreak that I could think of was to really try to see how it was that Bush didn't strike everyone in (more or less) the way he struck me; to get to know and understand some of the people who support him. And since, oddly enough, I don't know any in real life, I tried here. It was one of the few ways I could think of to hold onto my democratic (small d) values in the face of it all: to try to resist the occasional temptation to go with stereotypes of my opponents, and work towards some sort of understanding in the face of so much division and vitriol. But it breaks my heart again and again.

For me this whole thing has been a reminder of the limits of human intelligence, since I'm pretty smart and decent and try to be informed while people who seem obviously smart and decent and informed feel so differently about Bush.

Rilkefan, there is an astonishing capacity in the human mind to ignore what doesn't suit them to know about.

Bush & Co's plans to sell off Iraqi industries to the highest bidder, thus gutting Iraq of any control over its own resources (the plan to put in a puppet government prior to elections was essentially a way of putting a legal face on this looting program). Stymied only by the violent resistance, this was the plan for Iraq.

The clear responsibility of the higher echelons of command for Abu Ghraib and other atrocities at US-run prisons in Iraq and elsewhere.

The plain fact that so many hundreds of people who were or are imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay were innocent all along (or at least, guilty only of being soldiers in the Taliban's military in Afghanistan, which is not a crime).

That Iraq is currently a disaster, and Afghanistan a worse disaster, and that Bush & Co have no plans to do anything different beyond what they've already done to create these disasters.

The appalling details, well-documented by Katherine, of "extraordinary rendition" - the plan to make it legal to ship prisoners who are only suspected of being terrorists off to any country that suits, to be tortured.

The Plame Affair: betraying a covert CIA agent's identity to the world in order to punish her husband, a respected US Ambassador, for writing an outspoken OpEd in the New York Times.

The rigging of the 2000 election in Florida... ;-) (*waves at Slarti*)

This has been a disaster-area Presidency. And the disasters have been public, have been well-documented, and are not a matter of 20/20 hindsight or Monday-morning quarterbacking: they were obvious, clear, pitfalls that could have been avoided. And weren't.

I've loved the New York Times for thirty years. John Updike once said "The true New Yorker secretly believes that people living anywhere else have to be, in some sense, kidding.", I feel that way about the Times -- that all other American newspapers combined don't measure up to the Times. There was a period of greatness, to be sure, with the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times made a significant attempt at quality for a while in the late eighties.

So, it pained me to see the Times so clearly supporting the buildup to the invasion of Iraq. Obviously all of New York was devastated by the destruction of the World Trade Center. As I've been exiled to LA for the last twenty years, I can only imagine what it must have been like to people living there, and I felt that I couldn't really criticize the Times for their coverage.

Now, though, with this endorsement of Kerry and shocking, brutal, unprecedented denunciation of the President, it is clear that the Times has recovered. As Bluto says in "Animal House" -- "Hey, you fucked up, you trusted us!" I am certain that the Times will not be fooled again.

Thad Beier

Gotta love quotes like this: "Heads of rogue states, including Iran and North Korea, have been taught decisively that the best protection against a pre-emptive American strike is to acquire nuclear weapons themselves."

North Korea got acquired nuclear weapons under Clinton, so I don't think they had been "taught decisively that the best protection against a pre-emptive American strike is to acquire nuclear weapons themselves" makes for much of an anti-Bush message.

Iraq and Iran had both been seeking nuclear weapons for decades. Is it possible that countries already knew that the best protection against a pre-emptive American strike was to acquire nuclear weapons themselves?

Mr. Bush's obsession with Saddam Hussein seemed closer to zealotry than mere policy. He sold the war to the American people, and to Congress, as an antiterrorist campaign even though Iraq had no known working relationship with Al Qaeda. His most frightening allegation was that Saddam Hussein was close to getting nuclear weapons. It was based on two pieces of evidence. One was a story about attempts to purchase critical materials from Niger, and it was the product of rumor and forgery. The other evidence, the purchase of aluminum tubes that the administration said were meant for a nuclear centrifuge, was concocted by one low-level analyst and had been thoroughly debunked by administration investigators and international vetting.

Look the NYT not only has its heart on its sleeve, but it is factually incorrect. Note the cute move from "sold on terrorism" to "no known working relationship with Al Qaeda". Even the poorly named "War on Terrorism" wasn't limited to the really wrong "War on Merely Al-Qaeda". And the nuclear case wasn't just Niger (with the NYT fails to mention CORRECT reports that Iraq was SEEKING uranium from Niger). It was also the fact that the UN inspectors had been tricked before the first Gulf War, that Saddam engaged in 11 years of hiding things from inspectors and obstructing them to the point where they had been unable to do anything for 4 years, that he had a history of using other banned weapons, and that he had maintained programs to be jump-started for when the sanctions were lifted.

Also the NYT fails to mention that we now know Saddam was bribing people with the Oil for Food money while letting the people who were supposed to get the food starve, and coincidentally a huge portion of these bribes went to countries which opposed action in Iraq.

Why was Saddam seeking uranium in Niger one year after he restricted the inspectors so severely that Clinton felt the need to attack him in 1998?

Why was he seeking uranium?

Also the NYT fails to mention that we now know Saddam was bribing people with the Oil for Food money while letting the people who were supposed to get the food starve, and coincidentally a huge portion of these bribes went to countries which opposed action in Iraq.

Perhaps because they are trying to confine themselves to what's actually proven, and they no longer trust "evidence" that emanates from Ahmed Chalabi that only he and his coterie have seen? (By the way, why do you still trust Ahmed Chalabi?)

The real problem with the Oil for Food program wasn't that a small proportion of the money was being used to bribe Halliburton et al: it's that the Oil for Food program was set up to keep the Iraqi people starving. Most of the money never got to Saddam Hussein: it remained in UN coffers.

I'm wondering if anyone has access to Lexis-Nexis and could pull up the NYT endorsement editorials for say the past 4 elections and put them side by side. I think it would be interesting.

I don't want to water down the endorsement, but it is striking to note that only the first 2 and the last 3 paragraphs are about Kerry. Kerry's name appears 9 times, (including the title) but Bush's name appears 16 times. Though the title says 'John Kerry for President', it really (as it clearly states, I should add) says 'Don't vote for Bush'.

North Korea got acquired nuclear weapons under Clinton, so I don't think they had been "taught decisively that the best protection against a pre-emptive American strike is to acquire nuclear weapons themselves" makes for much of an anti-Bush message.

Actually, before the Iraq invasion, the rhetoric about pre-emptive wars was that they would discourage rouge states from pushing forward with their plans or hopes to develop nuclear weapons. They appear to have had the exact opposite effect, so the criticism is valid.

Sebastian, since when is the case for Iraq seeking uranium from Niger proven?? Did I miss something?

...it's that the Oil for Food program was set up to keep the Iraqi people starving. Most of the money never got to Saddam Hussein: it remained in UN coffers.

The Kurds apparently did a reasonable job of using the Oil-for-food money to keep people from starving, which implies that perhaps the blame for Iraqi starvation, irrespective of the corruption of the program, is best laid somewhere else.

The Kurds apparently did a reasonable job of using the Oil-for-food money to keep people from starving, which implies that perhaps the blame for Iraqi starvation, irrespective of the corruption of the program, is best laid somewhere else.

Er, no. As far as I know, it's accepted that the reason the Kurds didn't suffer as badly under the sanctions as the rest of Iraq was because they had more porous borders: they were better able to import what they needed.

Jonas - a quick check on a 2002 report from Iraqi Kurdistan actually gives another reason than the one I'd previously heard about: the reason the Kurds did better on the Oil for Food program than the rest of Iraq was that they were treated more fairly by it.

(Thirteen percent of oil-for-food revenue is given to the three northern governorates before money for war reparations and administrative costs is taken out, meaning that the Kurdish-controlled areas get more revenue per capita than the rest of the country.)
Also,
In the Kurdish region, the Iraqi dinar is exchanged at 16 for the US dollar; in Baghdad-controlled areas, a dollar fetches 1,600 dinars.

So the Kurds got more of the money, and were allowed to buy more with it. cite They suffered less under sanctions because they weren't being punished as the Iraqis under Saddam Hussein were: there was no reason to treat them harshly, as they were already effectively free of Saddam Hussein. In the rest of Iraq, Oil for Food was, as the sanctions were, used as a means of pushing the Iraqis to the point of desperation.

Thanks for the links, Jesurgislac. I've always meant to look into this deeper.

While I think you are right to point out higher per-capita benefits in Kurdish areas, I don't think these mitigating factors have yet risen to the point whereby Saddam's behavior isn't a major component of Iraqi suffering under sanctions.

Meanwhile, I doubt that the per-capita benefits were calculated in the two Dinars - i.e. one Saddam dinar for you, 13% or 0.13 Kurdish dinars for you.

Jonas, all reports that have come out from Iraq by eyewitnesses that I've read (obviously, there is far more material available than what I've been able to read) says directly that Saddam Hussein's government was doing a fair job of distributing fairly the goods and food that were allowed to come in: the overriding problem was that not enough was being allowed to come in. That was such a significant problem that anything skimmed off the top by Saddam Hussein himself (and I daresay there was some) was trivial in comparison.

We can and we should criticize Saddam Hussein of crimes he was guilty of. It does no good, however, to criticize him or his regime of crimes it does not appear that he was guilty of.

Or so I think.

That was such a significant problem that anything skimmed off the top by Saddam Hussein himself (and I daresay there was some) was trivial in comparison.

If someone shows the math and dollars and cents for this conclusion, count me in on your interpretation.

But congratulations! You've sufficiently complicated this issue for me that I won't conclusively say anything about it anymore.

"Sebastian, since when is the case for Iraq seeking uranium from Niger proven?? Did I miss something?"

Yes, you missed Joseph Wilson's admission that the former Prime Minister of Niger reported a meeting with Baghadad Bob which he interpreted as being an overture for the uranium trade.

Yes, you missed Joseph Wilson's admission that the former Prime Minister of Niger reported a meeting with Baghadad Bob which he interpreted as being an overture for the uranium trade.

This is proof?

What Anarch said.

Here's the link to the Washington Post article about that.

"In his book, Wilson recounts his encounter with the unnamed Niger official in 2002, saying, he "hesitated and looked up to the sky as if plumbing the depths of his memory, then offered that perhaps the Iraqi might have wanted to talk about uranium." Wilson did not get the Iraqi's name in 2002, but he writes that he talked to his source again four months ago, and that the former official said he saw Sahhaf on television before the start of the war and recognized him as the person he talked to in 1999."

Anarch, please share what you believe would be likely proof that Iraq sought uranium from Niger if not having a high level Iraqi minister personally travel to a country that has almost no exports other than uranium for a 'trade delegation' the the prime minister of Niger interpreted as Iraq trying to develop contacts for uranium trade. When the prime minister declined to pursue it, the 'trade delegation' left and no further negotiations were conducted years afterwards.

What did Iraq want from Niger?

Why did the prime minister think it was uranium?

Why did Saddam send such a high level minister to such an unimportant country?

Do you expect a signed note from Saddam saying "Hey you in Niger. If the US found out about this they would go absolutely ballistic so I'm putting it on paper instead of sending a personal envoy. Please sell us uranium. If you won't, please burn this letter."

It is exactly as much proof as you would expect would be possible in a non-successful attempt to get uranium from the Niger.

"hesitated and looked up to the sky as if he wasn't sure he wanted to share information that he should have revealed 5 years ago then offered that perhaps the Iraqi might have wanted to talk about uranium."


"hesitated and looked up to the sky as if trying to remember the Iraqi minister's name, which he failed to do until after Baghdad Bob's face appeared all over the news during the war, then offered that perhaps the Iraqi might have wanted to talk about uranium."

Equally plausible isn't it? But those interpretations aren't what Wilson wanted. We know this because when he was hitting Bush right after the war, he pretended not to have had that conversation AT ALL. Hid it from us, while saying that there was no evidence whatsoever. Failed to mention that the then-prime-minister of Niger had mentioned such a contact.

Perhaps he did so because he dismissed the prime minister's comments since he didn't remember which person was in the trade delegation. Perhaps he was a bit embarassed when the ex-prime minister was able to identify the Iraqi later.

"Jonas, all reports that have come out from Iraq by eyewitnesses that I've read (obviously, there is far more material available than what I've been able to read) says directly that Saddam Hussein's government was doing a fair job of distributing fairly the goods and food that were allowed to come in"

Who have you read? Where did the billions of dollars go then?

You know, Sebastian, he didn't have to reveal it at all, so your spinning of this is a bit ludicrous, and the alteration of what Wilson wrote to present a scenario that you feel more comfortable with is, well, I don't know what word to use, but it would not be a good one. Also, given Sahhaf's performance as press secretary, one would not think that he exudes competency, unless he has a PhD in nuclear physics that no one has yet mentioned.

Also, Sahhaf was basically untouched after the war and continues to apparently be uninterrogated (as is the person who apparently was involved in the forging of the yellowcake memos, as noted by TPM), but if he spearheaded an effort to get yellowcake, one would think that he would have been arrested and asked a few questions.

Perhaps you are taking this line because you are embarrassed that you suggested that this 'admission' equals "CORRECT reports that Iraq was SEEKING uranium from Niger" (capital letters yours). I would be.

Sebastian: Who have you read?

I've been taking an interest in the sanctions for many years: since it became clear that the sanctions were literally killing the Iraqi people. Who have I read? People who were in Iraq. Names. Journalists, charity workers, UN employees, writing eyewitness accounts for the benefit of those of us who were interested. If you really want to start reading up on thirteen years-worth of what the sanctions did to Iraq, I can start looking up names, but you'll find it a big reading project.

Where did the billions of dollars go then?

If you want to ask this question in a more detailed and specific manner - that is, explain what billions of dollars you are saying went missing, citing your sources, I'll try to answer it.

Meantime, would you mind answering my question at [October 17, 2004 04:25 AM]? Since you offer as a known fact [October 17, 2004 03:58 AM] an allegation that depends entirely on evidence that we have only Ahmed Chalabi's word for, I think it's fair for you to explain - given Chalabi's history - why you still trust that he's not lying. I don't. Why do you believe he's telling the truth?

What did Iraq want from Niger? Why did the prime minister think it was uranium? Why did Saddam send such a high level minister to such an unimportant country?

You're the lawyer, Sebastian. You tell me: does any of this constitute proof?

[It's suggestive, sure, but that's not what I'm asking, nor what you are claiming.]

Do you expect a signed note from Saddam saying "Hey you in Niger. If the US found out about this they would go absolutely ballistic so I'm putting it on paper instead of sending a personal envoy. Please sell us uranium. If you won't, please burn this letter."

I expect something a damn sight better than one minister's hypothesizing about a diplomatic mission, especially if you're planning on including it in a State of the Union or, god forbid, planning on bringing a country to war because of it. So yes, I'd like a piece of paper with Saddam's name on it, but I'd settle for records of financial transactions or, hell, an actual conversation on the topic of uranium trading.

It is exactly as much proof as you would expect would be possible in a non-successful attempt to get uranium from the Niger.

Only if you have artificially lowered standards.

Bold begone!

One more time.

"It is exactly as much proof as you would expect would be possible in a non-successful attempt to get uranium from the Niger.

Only if you have artificially lowered standards."

Quit dodging all of you. If we are going to evaluate realistic evidence standards, I need to know what you would expect as proof that Saddam sought but did not obtain uranium from Niger. I think that you have artificially poor understandings of what is available. This is exactly the kind of evidence we would expect to have in a failed and deeply covert diplomatic mission to obtain nuclear material which Iraq was not permitted to try to obtain. And if you don't know how diplomacy works, it begins to dawn on me how you can trust in it so much.


"If you want to ask this question in a more detailed and specific manner - that is, explain what billions of dollars you are saying went missing, citing your sources, I'll try to answer it."

Why do you need more? It is your contention that the Oil for Food program was not being particularly misused. If that were true, why were people still starving? If a program that large wasn't being subverted, it should have been working. Why wasn't it? Or is your claim that it was working, and all the complaints by AI, the HRC, and other human rights organizations about millions starving were lies?

I find even a faint suggestion that the war was justified because of problems with the Oil for Food program to be obscene.

The fact is that Saddam did not by any stretch of the imagination pose a "unique threat" to America, and that is the basis on which the war was sold, and is still being sold, to the American people.

Sebastian: It is your contention that the Oil for Food program was not being particularly misused. If that were true, why were people still starving?

Because the Oil for Food program was not allowed to provide enough food to prevent the Iraqis from starving. So say the UN administrators most closely involved in it:

The United Nations has "experts on the ground" whose primary job is to oversee the operation of the multi-billion-dollar UN programs in Iraq. What do these UN officials say about US claims that the Iraqi government withholds medicines as part of "cynical efforts to sacrifice the Iraqi people's welfare in order to bring an end to UN sanctions"?

Denis Halliday was UN Assistant Secretary General and head of the oil-for-food program, before resigning his career in protest over sanctions. He says: "For anyone to imply that the men and women of the Baghdad government, Ministry of Health in particular, deliberately withhold basic medicines from children in great need, is monstrous and says more about the unhealthy mind of the accusers than anything else."20

Hans Sponeck is the current head of the UN oil-for-food program. Responding to claims (such as in the US State Department report) that the Iraqi government deliberately withholds medicines, he says: "It is not --- I repeat, it is not, and you can check this with my colleagues --- a premeditated act of withholding medicines from those who should have it. It is much, much more complex than that."21

US State Department claims of obstruction of UN aid are --- at their heart --- also attacks on the competence and integrity of the UN administrators of the programs. The US report should give reasons why it believes Mr. Halliday and Mr. Sponeck fail to substantiate US-claimed mismanagement. The US report should explain, as well, why the country heads of Unicef, the World Health Organization, and the World Food Program do not report what the US claims. Does the US believe all these officials are incompetent? Does the US believe they are all in collusion with the mismanagement? The US report provides no evidence on this question ... and does not quote a single UN official.

In meetings with the heads of these programs in Baghdad, members of medical, humanitarian and human-rights groups hear detailed reports from these top UN officials. They do not report the kind of gross negligence and/or deliberate obstruction which the US claims. These UN officials consistently report that the Iraqi regime is, by and large, doing its very best to administer a complex program under extremely difficult conditions. (cite)

Or is your claim that it was working, and all the complaints by AI, the HRC, and other human rights organizations about millions starving were lies?

Absolutely not. It wasn't working, but - notably - the only authority to consistently claim that the reason why it wasn't working was because of the corruption of Saddam Hussein's government was not any of the NGOs on the ground - it was the US. The AI, the HRC, and two UN commissioners (Halliday and Sponeck) say that the reason why the Oil for Food supply wasn't keeping the Iraqi people from starving was because the governments on the SC controlling it, the US and the UK, never permitted sufficient resources to get through to keep the Iraqi people from starving.


Oh, yes, and Sebastian - why do you still trust Ahmed Chalabi? Still wondering...

If we are going to evaluate realistic evidence standards, I need to know what you would expect as proof that Saddam sought but did not obtain uranium from Niger.

Uh... did you read my post? I laid out three things that I would have accepted as proof. I'm not going to write you a dissertation; my hands are full enough with my real one.

This is exactly the kind of evidence we would expect to have in a failed and deeply covert diplomatic mission to obtain nuclear material which Iraq was not permitted to try to obtain.

As I said above: "It's suggestive, sure, but that's not what I'm asking, nor what you are claiming."

To put it another way, while it's one type of evidence that we would expect under such circumstances, it is neither complete nor conclusive. To the best of our knowledge, the Nigerien PM was not asked about uranium sales, the topic of sanction-busting was not broached, and at no point did Saddam or any of his minions actually commit to anything that might constitute evidence. All we have to go on is the gut feeling of a Nigerien politician which -- given what I know of Nigerien politics -- doesn't count for much.

Now, if you'd said that there was partial evidence towards the contention that Saddam had sought uranium in Africa, no big deal; we wouldn't be having this conversation. You didn't. You've said "with the NYT fails to mention CORRECT reports that Iraq was SEEKING uranium from Niger". [Emphasis yours.] Well, illustrate for me its correctness; show me some proof (as outlined by the standards in my previous post in the second paragraph of my response) that's more tangible than someone's instincts.

[And against all my better instincts I'll spare you the cheap shot here because I don't want this thread to degenerate as it often does when we debate. I'll ask that you return the courtesy.]

And if you don't know how diplomacy works, it begins to dawn on me how you can trust in it so much.

Yeah, thank god I've never actually talked with diplomats or anything. Except, you know, for the dozens of times on which I have. [Perks of growing up in Hong Kong.] Would you like to try that again, this time without the erroneously dismissive sarcasm?

Jesurgislac, your quote doesn't say what you think it says.

A) I wasn't talking about medicines.

B) Where was the money going in the multi-billion dollar food for oil program? You admit it wasn't going to the Iraqis. Where was it going?


You say:

"I laid out three things that I would have accepted as proof."

Which I presume to be:

"I'd like a piece of paper with Saddam's name on it, but I'd settle for records of financial transactions or, hell, an actual conversation on the topic of uranium trading."

"I'd like a piece of paper with Saddam's name on it" This is ridiculous. This is why I suggest that you have little understanding of diplomacy, whatever personal relations you may have had with diplomats. If your country is under sanctions for trying to build nuclear weapons, and if you have just been bombed by Clinton for closing inspections, you won't send a piece of paper with Saddam's name on it. The fact that you can't understand that is unbelievable.

"I'd settle for records of financial transactions"

Huh? Were we talking about a sale, or an attempt at a purchase? Why would there be financial transactions if Niger did not agree to a sale?

"an actual conversation on the topic of uranium trading."

There is no other plausible reason for Saddam to send a high-level envoy to a place which trades very little but uranium and which has as its other major export livestock. The fact that the envoy's contact--the prime minister of Niger--believes that the purpose of the Iraqi envoy was to obtain uranium is as much of the conversation as we would normally be likely to get. Do you want a tape? This isn't James Bond.

the reason why the Oil for Food supply wasn't keeping the Iraqi people from starving was because the governments on the SC controlling it, the US and the UK, never permitted sufficient resources to get through to keep the Iraqi people from starving.

This Harpers article provides a lot of answers.
Though I do not agree with everything he writes, This guy has a lot of info too.

Where was the money going in the multi-billion dollar food for oil program? You admit it wasn't going to the Iraqis. Where was it going?

It was mostly staying in the UN coffers. Iraq wasn't allowed to spend it.

And, Sebastian - why don't you want to answer the question about why you still so emphatically trust Ahmed Chalabi?

This is ridiculous. This is why I suggest that you have little understanding of diplomacy, whatever personal relations you may have had with diplomats. If your country is under sanctions for trying to build nuclear weapons, and if you have just been bombed by Clinton for closing inspections, you won't send a piece of paper with Saddam's name on it. The fact that you can't understand that is unbelievable.

I understand it, Sebastian. What I find unbelievable is that you cannot seem to understand that I am talking about what constitutes proof. Not "suggestive evidence", not "insinuations", not "telepathic hearsay" but proof. You may well have all the evidence that you would expect to possess under such auspices, but that evidence does not rise to the level of proof as do the examples I cited above.

Let me repeat this as clearly as I can: I am not interested in whether the evidence is suggestive. I am not interested in whether a Nigerien minister thinks that he was maybe tapped for an illegal deal but has nothing to show for it except a quote about "expanding commercial relations". I am especially uninterested in whether our brainstorming fails to find a plausible alternative to Saddam's reasoning, given what a collective trainwreck resulted the last time that was tried.

I am only interested in whether it has been proven that he tried to do so.

As it happens, I'm agnostic on the matter: maybe he did and maybe he didn't. It hasn't been proven either way. You believe he did; fine. You are not, however, making the assertion that you believe he did, you are making the assertion that has been proven that he did -- that it is known to be a fact that he did -- and that is bull.

Put it this way: what von feels about the word "lie", I feel about the word "proof"; and it kills me to see it so flagrantly misused in this way. Now since this is going nowhere fast, I'll leave you the last word and the thread. Enjoy.

Yes, I understand. You want scientific levels of proof in diplomatic situations if it suits your politics. So you ask for evidence which would not ever exist.

You want scientific levels of proof in diplomatic situations if it suits your politics. So you ask for evidence which would not ever exist.

Lovely -- Anarch grants you the last word, and you use it to attack his integrity. Do you have any evidence that his standard for proof varies with his politics? Certainly you can't hide behind a lack of data to draw from in this case.

You might have noticed that Anarch wasn't arguing that your deduction was unreasonable, only that you weren't justified in presenting it as fact. The standard for what is considered "proof" shouldn't be lowered just because evidence is hard to come by. At least, that's my opinion -- you've amply demonstrated that it's not yours.

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