« Bill...It's Harvard. They Want Their Degree Back | Main | Militias In Iraq »

August 21, 2005

Comments

A theocracy, if you can keep it.

Finally, I'm amazed that (it seems) no one else is talking about the alleged chemical weapons factory that we discovered in Mosul.

we've already talked about many alleged chemical weapons factories, over the years. WMD storage sites, suspicious satellite photos, mobile weapons labs, etc.. frankly, until there's clean information that there is no other explanation for what they've found, there's no point in discussing it any further.

"Obviously, these forms of failure are not mutually exclusive"

What are my odds for the trifecta?

Also, the "incompetent idealistic idiot" argument should be excluded from this thread.

Rumsfeld and Cheney etc have a history, including very explicit warnings about invading Iraq in Gulf War I, and the only way a "Didn't know what they were doing argument" could arise were if it were made disingenuously or...idiotically.

The factory was discussed in the other thread. I think the informed opinion there based on the list of chemicals was leaning more towards painting madrassas than blowing up armored vehicles.

I make it my rule to believe all and only what Slartibartfast believes, and he seems to be having doubts about the significance of the alleged chemical weapons plant (the reference to Yon on the "second time" thread). So, therefore, do I.

Maybe we'll find out more later. Maybe it will go down the memory hole, like the origin of the forged uranium documents, the origin of the forged Bush Air Nat guard documents, and so many other passing diversions.

I am watching and waiting on the chemical plant. Partly, this is because of uncertainty about what the chemicals are, what their possible uses might be, and my own incompetence to judge. Partly also, though, because I do not find it surprising.

To me, one of the huge dangers of the Iraq war has always been that we would transform a state that was horrible and brutal and repressive, but not a plausible base for terrorists, into a failed state, where the actual lives of people, and their likelihood of getting e.g. killed for no reason, was not much improved over Saddam's regime, but the ability of terrorists (or whoever) to set up a base of operations, training camps, factories, etc., of the sort that require either a cooperative or a failed state, would be greatly enhanced. I really, really wanted this not to happen. I would not be surprised if it has.

The Tokyo shootings killed (IIRC) five people. In 1998, 17 year-old Jeffrey Weise killed ten people in a high school shooting in Minnesota. Can we really leave Iraq as long as there may still be 17 year-old boys there?

Here's what boggles me. It should, by now, be clear to anyone paying attention that the majority of Iraqis want an Islamic state. They want a government and constitution based on Islam, and given the demographics in Iraq, the best we can probably hope for is one like Afghanistan's--to my eyes, Iran is looking like a likelier bet.

That leaves us with pretty much two options: allowing the Iraqi people to create the government they want, in which case we almost certainly end up with an Islamic state; or imposing a more secular constitution on them, which would involve installing a puppet leader and dismissing all of our plans and rhetoric for giving the Iraqis any kind of self-determination.

Neither strike me as compatible with the notion of spreading freedom and democracy to the Middle East.

I don't understand how anyone could think that abandoning the Iraqi people now is a good idea? Remember when you were a kid and you and your friends would convince the one reluctant member of your group to help do something stupid and then when it came time to pay the price the only person still around was that kid? I can't help but think that having CAUSED the mess in Iraq that we should not under any circumstance just leave until the Iraqi government says it is time for us to do so or a majority of the people there act against us. If I did my math correctly this situation is costing the US 2.5 American soldiers a day (and many many more Iraqis) to maintain and as much as I hate for people to die I think we owe it to the people of Iraq to set solid goals like setting up power and water infrastructures and give them the time they need to get their act together after we ruined what little they did have.

Err..."Tokyo sarin attack" not "Tokyo shootings". Also, it appears that I recalled incorrectly: twelve people died.

On an emotional level I agree with Tinn (or is it Finn?).
I don't know what we should do about Iraq or what we can do. I think informed, reasonable, ethical people can come up with all kinds of different answers to that question, mostly variations on the definition of goals and the timing and circumstances of withdrawal. The one thing of which I am absolutely certain is that every politician, Democrat or Republican, who still says the invasion was a good idea, should be thoroughly punished at the polls. There is no excuse for clinging to that delusion now.

I think we owe it to the people of Iraq to set solid goals like setting up power and water infrastructures and give them the time they need to get their act together after we ruined what little they did have

As I always say: if you want to help, send a check.

This war was unwinnable before it began. Virtually all the actions taken by this administration have ensured that it would be "lost" in the ways Von names above. In particular, it has encouraged the civil war that has been on for months now. This war is now irretrievably lost.

U.S. troops are not protecting any more Iraqis than they're sweeping up and jailing or killing at checkpoints and in shelled Anbar towns. Results from reconstruction are flat out not happening, despite the huge sums "spent" (siphoned).

All choices are bad; this has been true since at least the fall of 2003. Withdrawal (complete withdrawal, without enduring U.S. bases) is the least bad -- for the U.S. military, for the people of Iraq, for the future of this country. It's political poison for the Bush administration. It will mean another round of attempts to rewrite history so that it's the fault of those who opposed the war in the first place.

But it's the handwriting on the wall.

But the steadiness in the face of danger that we displayed during the Cold War -- by Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives -- is something we need to recapture.

The difficulty here is that the Republican party has adopted the War on Terror™ as a political bludgeon and deliberately chosen the divide and rule approach to winning elections and governing. Fifty percent plus one is all they need and it appears to be all they want.

I agree that terrorism from Islamic extremeists is a danger to our security, though certainly not the only or even the largest one. Although chemical weapons are dangerous, they are difficult to use. The nightmare scenario of a nuclear weapon in terrorist hands is a real, but faint, possibility.

What can we do to defend ourselves? We need cooperation from other nations to apprehend terrorists, to limit the resources available for terror, and to shrink the pool of willing volunteers who will follow leaders preaching hate and suicide as the path to paradise. Attacking Iraq has detracted from all these goals.

We are stuck in Iraq both because now its collapse really would be a threat to our security as well as for moral reasons. The resources we must expend there reduce our ability to address our domestic vulnerabilities as well as any other national needs.

I have no idea how to move toward von's goal. The Democrats haven't come up with a way. The Republicans, it seems, are not interested in doing so.

Let's understand what we may have found: A chemical weapons factory in the hands of terrorists.... If Iraq becomes a place where terrorists can freely manufacture weapons of mass destruction, the terrorists will manufacture those weapons for export. And we will have utterly failed in Iraq.

Assuming arguendo that that factory really is producing chemical weapons... well, yes. Of course. As hilzoy said above, this was always one of the greatest perils of our Excellent Iraqi Adventure: kicking over the anthill only to find that, gosh, things might actually turn out worse than when we started it.

[All of which, incidentally, was a reason to not go to war in the first place. Doubly so, given the cavalier disregard for this danger so patently shown by the Bush Administration.]

But ok, you regard creation of a thriving chemical weapons market in Iraq as a benchmark for the failure of our ventures in Iraq, and I'd be hard-pressed to find anyone to disagree. Here's the real question, though, which (to my eye) you've been dancing around but never actually engaged: what price are you willing to pay to avoid this particular failure?

Let me be clear here. I'm not looking for vacuous rhetoric or overblown phrases. I'm looking for two numbers (although more information would be appreciated too): how much money are you willing to spend, and how many lives are you willing to end in order to prevent Iraq from turning into a chemical weapons market?*

You've said in the past that "we cannot allow this to happen" (or words to that effect). While that's a nice sentiment, it's completely inapposite. It's the sentiment of a football game, of a sport with rules and umpires and (pace hilzoy) ontological closure. It's a sentiment from someone who's either never heard of, or has chosen to forget, the word "Pyrrhic" -- unless you're truly willing to, say, sacrifice 300,000,000 American lives and $10 trillion to prevent that outcome from happening. On the sports field, you can "leave it all on the field" and, at the end of the day, you'll have plenty left: your life, the lives of your friends, the existence of the stadium itself, and so forth. Out here in the real world, "leaving it all on the field" is practically indistinguishable from "they made a desert and called it peace"... or "I have become Death, Destroyer of Worlds". Despite our linguistic proclivities, the disparity in scale renders the analogy meaningless.

To sum up, let me put this as directly and coldly as I can: what, exactly, do you think is the (dis)utility of this outcome measured in the only metrics that matter, blood and treasure?

* If you're the kind of person who feels a need to distinguish between American and Other lives, then please split the casualty statistic appropriately.

OT, but 459 bombs went off in Bangladesh - with messages stating that "it's time to implement Islamic law - man-made law has failed".

Islamists don't need Iraq.

I have another thought or maybe suggestion. I may be the only person in America who feels this way, but I never thought that our response to terrorism should be to enter into some kind of grand war, literal or figurative, in the Cold War sense or WWII sense. Terrorism usually can't be fought that way and we actually have bigger problems. The attack on Afganistan was an unusual situation and our war there is justified, in my opinion, because the connection between the 911 attackers and what passed for a governmen in there was direct and real. (To bad we didn't confine ourselves to that war and "stay the course" to completion) The literal war should have stopped there. The grandiose plans about attacking country A in order to set up a positive chain reaction leading to outcomes B,C,D, and E is strictly for Tom Clancy fans. Real human affairs are far too messy and unpredictable for that kind of elaborate plotting and anyway the connection to terrorism is nebulous, not direct. The way to deal with terrorism isn't to think of it as war. It is more comparable to bad weather; the effort of a government should be put into prediction, monitoring, defense of homeland, and response. Terrorism will happen. We should stop acting like we can end it if we just go out and win enough wars somewhere. It is a much more common sense approach to invest in intelligence, international alliances, homeland defense and response stuctures. Do that right and terrorism can be headed off most of the time, and responded to effectively when prevention doesn't work.
Global warming and the end of the fossil fuel economy are both problems that are far more devastating in their consequences and far more worthy of our time energy and worry than some kind of cosmic drama between the forces of light and dark.
In fact, as the economies of the world crumble under the effects of global warming, terrorism will inevitably get worse. If we are locked into a Cold War type us-against-them war drama we will spend too much of our energy on fighting and not enough on coping with the effects of climate change on water resources, food production and distribution, and human refugee migrations.
By locking ourselves into a war mindset focused on one problem, which in the greater scheme of things is relatively minor, we are setting ourselves up to enter the period of climate change with the wrong set of beliefs and preconceptions, viewing ourselves as in competition and opposition to an unknowable and unfightable enemy at exactly the time in history when paranoid self-centeredness will be the worst possible way of vewing things.

More post-Iraq fallout from Kevin Drum - we let most of the Iraqi nuclear scientist walk.

...if President Bush fails to explain what "winning" looks like, it won't only look like we're adrift -- we will be adrift.

This is insufficiently cynical. We are talking about politics here. Announcing in advance what success looks like would leave open the possibility of failure. When it come to performance measurement, Bush favours the Ashleigh Brilliant method: "to be sure of hitting the target, shoot first, and call whatever you hit the target."

We don't know what the future holds, but it is a pretty safe bet that when US forces return home, the president will declare a great victory. Instapundit will say "Indeed" and innumerable bloggers will deride the faint-hearts who could not foresee this happy ending. It will be said that the number of deaths is not that large, all things considered, and that the new regime in Iraq isn't really all that bad.

The interview with Dr. Mahdi Obeidi, the "mastermind of Saddam Hussein's former nuclear centrifuge program is on Air America right now.

"But the steadiness in the face of danger that we displayed during the Cold War -- by Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives -- is something we need to recapture."

I agree. I believe that this steadiness, had we had it, would have prevented us from going into Iraq in the first place, since that was just a way of letting ourselves be distracted, of dropping the ball, of substituting a fantasy for the need to figure out what to do about (not Saddam but) terrorism. We need to look at the problem unflinchingly and figure out what to do about it, without being tempted by any sort of fantasy at all.

As I see it, our problem now (as opposed to: during the time Bush was talking the country into war) is not a lack of 'steadiness'. Steadiness is what's called for when it's pretty clear what to do, but you might lack the nerve or perseverance to stick it out. Now, however, it is not at all clear what we should be doing, and it's that that explains people's uncertainty.

Hey Von, according to Michael Yon, a journalist actually in Iraq:

"Did you know about the Chemical Weapons Plant?" (Yes, and probably more than most readers care to know. Turned out to be nothing of consequence. The "Plant" was minutes down the road from here.)
I think the reason why no one is paying any attention to it is because it really is absolutely nothing of consequence.

The Bengladesh bombings are the perfect example of why I think it is a mistake to adopt a War against the Other worldview. The terrorists there are are right about one thing: their government can't deal with the country's problems. Bengaladesh is a failed state, or nearly one. If one views the Bengladesh through the fight-terrorism lens the possible responses to the bombings there are: 1. Bloviate about them. Use them for politically-motivated domestic fear-mongering. 2. Invade Bengladesh. Repeat our experience in Iraq, only with lots of rain and water. 3. use the Bush approach and invade Idonesia, not because they have oil, of course, but to set off a chain reaction resulting in freeedom for the Viet Namese.
Or, if we don't concentrate on terrorism and instead concentrate on global environmental degradation and the failed economies and failed states which result, we could do something that might be truly helpful. We could pressure the Indian government to create protected areas in the foothills of the Himalayas and finance the replanting of forests. We could finance birthcontrol campaigns throughtout Bengladesh. We coud pay to rebuild diking systems and restore flooded farmlands.
Terrorism is not our biggest problem and it is a mistake to think we have to engage in some kind of war against it. We need, of course, to take common sense self-protective measures, but not to distract ourselves with grandious schemes. Our focus needs to be on addressing the causes of failed states, since, as the global economy changes and the effects of warming and overpopulation are felt, more and more states will fail.

lily, agree with all of it.

and, no, you're not the only person in America who thinks that way.

ral:The interview with Dr. Mahdi Obeidi, the "mastermind of Saddam Hussein's former nuclear centrifuge program is on Air America right now.

What should we do detain him?

What would you charge him? Being an Iraqi scientist.

Hilzoy: I am watching and waiting on the chemical plant. Partly, this is because of uncertainty about what the chemicals are, what their possible uses might be, and my own incompetence to judge.

I wish the administration could have had that kind of breathing room from the very beginning. Instead it's been under the microscope. Many wanted all the issues to be resovled so quickly. This seems like a wiser path to me.

Hilzoy: To me, one of the huge dangers of the Iraq war has always been that we would transform a state that was horrible and brutal and repressive, but not a plausible base for terrorists

I'm not sure what you mean by plausible?

Ansar al Islam (“Supporters of Islam”) is a group of Kurdish separatists and Islamic fundamentalists seeking to transform Iraq’s Kurdish lands into an Islamic state. Mullah Krekar, also known as Faraj Ahmad Najmuddin, reportedly founded Ansar in December 2001 with funding and logistical support from al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden.

And this of course,

Iraq was a safehaven, transit point, and operational base for groups and individuals who direct violence against the United States, Israel, and other countries. Baghdad overtly assisted two categories of Iraqi-based terrorist organizations—Iranian dissidents devoted to toppling the Iranian Government and a variety of Palestinian groups opposed to peace with Israel. The groups include the Iranian Mujahedin-e Khalq, the Abu Nidal organization (although Iraq reportedly killed its leader), the Palestine Liberation Front (PLF), and the Arab Liberation Front (ALF). In the past year, the PLF increased its operational activity against Israel and sent its members to Iraq for training for future terrorist attacks.

Baghdad provided material assistance to other Palestinian terrorist groups that are in the forefront of the intifadah. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, HAMAS, and the Palestine Islamic Jihad are the three most important groups to whom Baghdad has extended outreach and support efforts.

More,

The presence of several hundred al-Qaida operatives fighting with the small Kurdish Islamist group Ansar al-Islam in the northeastern corner of Iraqi Kurdistan—where the IIS operates—is well documented. Iraq has an agent in the most senior levels of Ansar al-Islam as well. In addition, small numbers of highly placed al-Qaida militants were present in Baghdad and areas of Iraq that Saddam controls. It is inconceivable these groups were in Iraq without the knowledge and acquiescence of Saddam’s regime.

So much more,

Salman Pak - Iraq‘s own terrorist training camp

Two Iraqi Military defectors, an unnamed former Lt. General and a Captain Sabah Khodada recently gave details of an Iraqi school at Salman Pak which includes training for the hijacking of passenger airliners and other modes of transportation. The former Iraqi General said that there was a old Boeing 707 resting next to rail tracks on edge of Salman Pak being used in terrorist training, the existence of this aircraft has been confirmed by UN. Inspectors.

The General, who had been the Security Officer in charge of the camp also reported that there were mixed nationality units including Saudi‘s, Egyptians and Chechens at Salman Pak. Usually about 40 strong, these terrorist units received upto five months of intensive training. However the terrorist units were actually under the control of Iraq‘s Al- Mukhabarat Intelligence Service and in particular a section called the Division of Special Operations. Much of this was also confirmed by Captain Khodada.

The foreign fighters were segregated from Iraqi military personnel and Saddam Husseins own Fedayeen, except during certain specific training sessions. The overall training program included assassination, kidnapping, sabotage or hijacking of aircraft, buses, trains, sabotage of public utilities and most importantly of all, in the use of Chemical, Biological and possibly crude nuclear devices.

Awww... aint love sweet.

"In this man's heart (Osama bin Laden) you'll find an insistence, a strange determination that he will reach one day the tunnels of the White House and will bomb it with everything that is in it.....with the seriousness of the Bedouin of the desert about the way he will try to bomb the Pentagon after he destroys the White House. ...the revolutionary bin Laden is insisting very convincingly that he will strike America on the arm that is already hurting. That the man....will curse the memory of Frank Sinatra every time he hears his songs." (A reference to Sinatra's "New York, New York"?)

- From the Iraqi publication Al-Nasiriya: July 21, 2001
(Also noted in the Wall Street Journal, "Saddam and the Next 9/11", 2/14/03)

Fortunately, President Bush is preparing to level with the American people. He'll spend the next week explaining the Bush Doctrine for containment of terrorism; why it is the best course for America, how it will succeed, and reaching both across the aisle and out to the marginalized members of his own party to ask for cooperation.

And then I woke up. What he'll actually be saying is "They know that if we do not confront these evil men abroad, we will have to face them one day in our own cities and streets... http://today.reuters.com/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=topNews&storyID=2005-08-20T201019Z_01_MOL050830_RTRIDST_0_NEWS-BUSH-DC.XML>Bush invokes Sept 11 to defend Iraq war. [and from surrogates: flypaper is good; naysayers just hate Bush, hate America, etc.]

"They're trying to get the public's attention again and remind them of the arguments that once worked with the public," Larry Sabato, director of the center for politics at the University of Virginia, said.

Members of the Republican party not yet shunned by the White House need to get Bush's attention. Thanks Von (and Tacitus), I wish you luck and hope your party doesn't leave you, and the rest of us, hanging.
http://www.house.gov/writerep/>House href> http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm>Senate href>
http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/>White House

To Von and others concerned about the possible chemical weapons labs in Mosul:

I imagine the main reason the August 9 raids on possible chemical weapons labs in Mosul haven't garned much commentary is that on August 14, just one day after the first official Department of Defense press statement (available here) on the Mosul story, there was a second official Department of Defense press release (reprinted in full below with link), and it said preliminary tests implied the chemicals were accelerants used in conventional explosives not chemical weapons.

***********************************
Chem Site Samples Analyzed Further
American Forces Press Service
http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Aug2005/20050813_2415.html


WASHINGTON, Aug. 14, 2005 – Coalition experts continue to analyze samples found in the chemical production facility and storage site discovered in Mosul, Iraq, on Aug. 9, officials reported today.

Early results suggest that some chemicals are accelerants used in explosive devices.

Specially trained reconnaissance units collected the samples being tested now in Iraq. The samples will then be sent to the U.S. for composition confirmation.

Coalition forces and Iraqi security forces also continue to investigate more intelligence information.

Officials announced Aug. 13 that coalition forces had found the facility and storage site during raids on Aug. 9 based on detainee-provided tips.

(From a Multinational Force Iraq press release.)
*******************************

(Hat tip: Andrew Cochran, one of the many experts posting on the group blog The Counterterrorism Blog)

Granted it's a story worth keeping an eye on, and even if it's a conventional bomb factory, the impunity with which Iraqi insurgents can make plans and preparations is striking.

DDR: most of the terrorist links have been discredited. As far as I can tell, Saddam sheltered several aging terrorists after they had stopped engaging in active terrorism (e.g., Abu Nidal), sent money to Palestinians who were active against Israel but not us, no doubt supported the Iranian opposition, who weren't active against us.

The Zarqawi organization was in a part of Iraq controlled by us, not Saddam, since 1991. We had the chance to kill him before the invasion, but decided, for reasons best know to ourselves, not to take it.

DDR: most of the terrorist links have been discredited. As far as I can tell, Saddam sheltered several aging terrorists after they had stopped engaging in active terrorism (e.g., Abu Nidal), sent money to Palestinians who were active against Israel but not us, no doubt supported the Iranian opposition, who weren't active against us.

Quit a number of the terrorist camps he describes were in the area that Saddam could not get too, protected by the no-fly zones.

(ps: am I the only one who thinks a conservative picking the nick DDR is really funny?)

(ps2: why is there no opportunity for me to gloat about seeing SERENITY yesterday, in an official pre-screening?)

I'm going to have to disagree that the terrorists links have been discredited. If anything I think more terrorists links have come to light since the invasion. Unfortunately, making the web even more complex.

Hilzoy: The Zarqawi organization was in a part of Iraq controlled by us, not Saddam, since 1991. We had the chance to kill him before the invasion, but decided, for reasons best know to ourselves, not to take it.

What do you mean controlled by us? Ground that we were in charge of inside Iraq or the no-fly zone? If we knew about him I wonder what was going on we didn't know. Sounds like going in was really the only way to get better intel on the terrorists that you say were already operating in Iraq.

I think we can agree on this:

Iraq was not Taliban led Afghanistan and allowing Iraq to become like Taliban led Afghanistan would be a horrific failure on our part.

The terrorists in Iraq were not sleeping at the palace. But according to you atleast one of the most dangerous terrorist in the world was already operating in Iraq before the invasion.

I think it is plausible to say that Hussein might have granted them more leeway as time passed.

DDR: Zarqawi was in territory that bordered Iran on one side, and was otherwise surrounded by Kurdish territory. Saddam could not have gotten to it without going through the Kurdish territory, which generally they did not let his people do. Nor could he have bombed it or anything, since it was in the no-fly zone. We, on the other hand, controlled the airspace above it, and were in and out of the Kurdish zone a lot.

That's why I said that Zarqawi and Ansar al-Islam were not in a part of Iraq that Saddam controlled.

Lily, I'm another who thinks as you do. "Preventive" wars (wars of aggression) are not a solution to any problem except domestic political ones -- and even then they are temporary solutions that make even those problems worse eventually.

But there's the rub: non-war approaches don't have the political "juice" that your proposals do.

Sorry, incoherence due to watching Little League world series at the same time as writing: Non-war proposals such as yours don't have the same political "juice" as military action.

And let's not forget that Bush, himself, declined three chances to take Zarqawi out *before* the war. Because, one suspects, it would have weakened the case for war.

In recent months, the mystery of the administration's inaction has only grown. News reports—including, most recently, one in the Wall Street Journal this week—make it clear that military leaders and the CIA felt Zarqawi was a threat that could and should be removed. On at least three occasions between mid-2002 and the invasion of Iraq, the Pentagon presented plans to the White House to destroy the Khurmal camp. Each time the White House declined to act or did not respond at all.

Hilzoy:That's why I said that Zarqawi and Ansar al-Islam were not in a part of Iraq that Saddam controlled.

I could buy that logic except for my buddy often getting shot at when he flew over the no-fly zone. If they didn't actually fire, then they locked on with their radar systems. That's considered hostile. Once you lock on it's just a button away from firing.

It was called a no-fly zone. It wasn't called the Hussein Thugs cannot enter zone. I'm sure you wouldn't argue with that. Given all the murder we know took place after the war ended, the no-fly zone only meant Hussein couldn't operate military aircraft against us. We know we got screwed in the deal because we let him fly helicopters. Which he promptly used to slaughter Shia in the South.

And then of course in the north,

Kurds in middle of Mideast tug-of-war September 1, 1996 Web posted at: 12:00 p.m. EDT (1600 GMT)

From Reporter Denise Dillon

(CNN) -- The assault on the Kurdish population in northern Iraq is the latest in a series of attacks against separatist forces there.
....................
And just months after the Gulf War ended, in 1991, Iraq's beleaguered military was dispatched again to the north to suppress rebel Kurds.
....................
Baghdad has always challenged such restrictions -- but now it appears Hussein is willing to risk a military confrontation with the Western coalition. And that's put Washington into a quandary.

Marshall Wiley, a former U.S. government representative in Iraq, said the United States in a difficult position, having recognized the territorial integrity of Iraq but objecting to Baghdad's aggression toward Kurds in the north.

Why now?

Saturday's attack on the Kurds was Saddam Hussein's biggest military offensive in five years. Why did he decide to move now? There's no clear answer at this stage, but observers offer several theories.

I understand your point Hilzoy. You are saying that Hussein really didn't have that much control in those regions where terrorists were acting. That point has some validity, just not that much. He proved he could go in and clean house on the ground when he desired. It is obvious that it wasn't the terrorist that may have been operating that posed a problem for him.

Hal: Each time the White House declined to act or did not respond at all.

Was anything else going on at that time that might have affected the decision?

I wonder why Zarqawi felt that he would be safe at that camp in Iraq? We all know that Hussein would never get in bed with AQ. So that couldn't be it. We know Iraq was secular so religion could not be the reason. I wonder if he thought he might be safe from both Hussein and the US in that camp. If so I wonder what led him to that conclusion.


Billmon's Latest

Iran, Da'wa, SCIRI, Sistani scheme and plot as Americans die to create the Shiite superpower.

Guess Billmon gets most of his stuff from Cole, but he writes better.

We don't know what the future holds, but it is a pretty safe bet that when US forces return home, the president will declare a great victory. Instapundit will say "Indeed" and innumerable bloggers will deride the faint-hearts who could not foresee this happy ending.

Meanwhile the media in the rest of the world will be showing Iraqi insurgents smiling, shooting guns in the air and jeering at the US.

hilzoy: I am watching and waiting on the chemical plant. Partly, this is because of uncertainty about what the chemicals are, what their possible uses might be, and my own incompetence to judge.

DDR: I wish the administration could have had that kind of breathing room from the very beginning.

That's ludicrous. Unmitigated revisionist hogwash. The Administration was never under any obligation whatsoever to spew forth triumphant remarks about having found WMD in Iraq before those remarks had been confirmed. They had all the breathing room they possibly have needed, they simply chose to prematurely ejaculate propagandistic BS. It's their own damn fault, in other words, and you should be taking them to task for it, not carrying their water with spurious revisionism.

Let me get this straight -- you think that civil war and an Islamic state are two indicators of failure in Iraq?

They are both happening and appear to be certain to be the dominant trends -- there is little to point to that suggests otherwise. Maybe the civil war will reamin on low simmer, but an Islamic state (run by thuggish militias) appears certain.

How long do you have to keep staring at what's happening there to believe what is plainly in front of you? Or to put it more bluntly, how many more thousands of US troops have to be killed/maimed before you are convinced that these bad things are certain to come to pass, and therefore its time to get out?

Tacitus says that US deaths are in vain if an Islamic state emerges. He gets the same question -- how many more thousands have to be killed/maimed before his vanity about the validity of the cause is overcome by his sense that we should stop wasting lives?

Our own ambassador is twisting arms for Islam to be enshrined in Iraq's constitution.

Under a deal brokered Friday by the U.S. ambassador, Zalmay Khalilzad, Islam was to be named "a primary source of legislation" in the new Iraqi constitution, with the proviso that no legislation be permitted that conflicted with the "universal principles" of the religion.

a NY Times by-line, but the link is to the International Herald Tribune

It seems odd. [Yes, this is a massive understatement.]

DDR: If so I wonder what led him to that conclusion.

Um, maybe he can look into Bush's soul?

I'm not really sure what your point is. We could have taken him out - we were already bombing the crap out of Saddam's AA positions. What? You think it would have been a distraction to poor ol' Bush? They already had the plans drawn up....

Geez, louiz...

You really are stretching credulity to the limit, DDR.

Tacitus says that US deaths are in vain if an Islamic state emerges. He gets the same question

Me on Tacitus' comments, in various posts immediately before the invasion:

1) I'd be a lot more supportive of this indochina-in-reverse strategy if we had more blue hats with us.

2) "democracy" in the mideast means the inmates running the asylum

3) I'm going to laugh my @ss off when Hezbollah Allah Akbar ends up running things in Baghdad.

'course, his crowd was rather uniformly dismissive of these opinions.

(ps: am I the only one who thinks a conservative picking the nick DDR is really funny?)

Nope. Everytime I see it, I think of the officialese BRD formulation: "the 'so-called' DDR."

DDR: You understand that you are way out in front of the Pres on your connections between the Iraqi government and Ansar, right? That no one takes it seriously?

von: Not long ago, you were calling the January 2005 Iraqi election a success. Now you think a theocracy equals defeat. I don't even have to ask the question, do I?

(ps: am I the only one who thinks a conservative picking the nick DDR is really funny?)

Me too. I've been giggling ever since DDR showed up.

hilzoy--

making fun of a commenter's name? for shame!

"You certainly have managed to bring the tone of the thread to a new low."

Thanks, William. I hadn't been aware of that story.

von: Not long ago, you were calling the January 2005 Iraqi election a success. Now you think a theocracy equals defeat. I don't even have to ask the question, do I?

Well, I'd prefer you didn't. (Some might not think of it, thereby getting me off the hook.)

Look, I'm unabashedly a foreign policy realist. I'm interested in democracy-promotion only insofar as it is connected to US-interest-promotion.

Hey, the DDR is no more. Don't make fun of it.

Hey, don't we need an open thread? I mean, where else (besides the obvious; shut up) would I put this?

Hal,

I'm not really sure what your point is. We could have taken him out - we were already bombing the crap out of Saddam's AA positions. What? You think it would have been a distraction to poor ol' Bush? They already had the plans drawn up....

Geez, louiz...

You really are stretching credulity to the limit, DDR.

Since, I didn't claim any of that I am not sure it is my "credulity" that is being stretched.

As for the nick DDR feel free to blame my Grandfather and my Dad.

Hey, don't we need an open thread? I mean, where else (besides the obvious; shut up) would I put this?

Slarti, you have the power to open thred. Exercise that power for good.

Tacitus says that US deaths are in vain if an Islamic state emerges. He gets the same question -- how many more thousands have to be killed/maimed before his vanity about the validity of the cause is overcome by his sense that we should stop wasting lives?

Well. Islamist is a little different.

You might want to try phrasing your questions in a manner suggesting a sincere desire to get an answer. Suffice it to say that it's not "vanity" that impels me to think the war in Iraq worth fighting in certain respects.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Blog powered by Typepad