Author Archives: Drew
Actually, The Threat Of An Active Weapons Program Did Make Up A Substantial Part Of The Rationale For Iraq War
Over at the HQ Gabriel Malor takes issue with the NY Times stating that the Iraq war was sold on stopping Saddam Hussein’s “active WMD program”. While I agree with Gabe that the WMD program wasn’t the sole rationale for the war, I take his issue with his characterization of role it played.
According to Gabe:
As I have demonstrated from Bush’s own contemporaneous words, an active weapons program was not the sole reason for war. In fact, an active weapons program was not even mentioned in the multiple speeches Bush delivered to the American public and to an international audience.
This is simply not accurate.
From Bush’s Cincinnati speech outlining his rationale for the war:
And surveillance photos reveal that the regime is rebuilding facilities that it had used to produce chemical and biological weapons. Every chemical and biological weapon that Iraq has or makes is a direct violation of the truce that ended the Persian Gulf War in 1991. Yet, Saddam Hussein has chosen to build and keep these weapons despite international sanctions, U.N. demands, and isolation from the civilized world.
The evidence indicates that Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program. Saddam Hussein has held numerous meetings with Iraqi nuclear scientists, a group he calls his “nuclear mujahideen” — his nuclear holy warriors. Satellite photographs reveal that Iraq is rebuilding facilities at sites that have been part of its nuclear program in the past. Iraq has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes and other equipment needed for gas centrifuges, which are used to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons.
If the Iraqi regime is able to produce, buy, or steal an amount of highly enriched uranium a little larger than a single softball, it could have a nuclear weapon in less than a year. And if we allow that to happen, a terrible line would be crossed
There was also Bush’s often debated reference to Iraq’s attempts to acquire “yellow cake Uranium” for use in a possible nuclear program.
In his 2003 State of the Union speech Bush announced he would be sending then Secretary of State Colin Powell to the UN to lay out the United States rationale for the war.
And that is my third point. And it is key. The Iraqis have never accounted for all of the biological weapons they admitted they had and we know they had. They have never accounted for all the organic material used to make them. And they have not accounted for many of the weapons filled with these agents such as there are 400 bombs. This is evidence, not conjecture. This is true. This is all well-documented.
It should come as no shock then, that since Saddam Hussein forced out the last inspectors in 1998, we have amassed much intelligence indicating that Iraq is continuing to make these weapons.
One of the most worrisome things that emerges from the thick intelligence file we have on Iraq’s biological weapons is the existence of mobile production facilities used to make biological agents.
[He goes on to list eyewitness accounts of people who had recently seen these facilities in operation]
Under the guise of dual-use infrastructure, Iraq has undertaken an effort to reconstitute facilities that were closely associated with its past program to develop and produce chemical weapons.
For example, Iraq has rebuilt key portions of the Tariq state establishment. Tariq includes facilities designed specifically for Iraq’s chemical weapons program and employs key figures from past programs.
That’s the production end of Saddam’s chemical weapons business.
People will continue to debate this issue, but there is no doubt in my mind, these illicit procurement efforts show that Saddam Hussein is very much focused on putting in place the key missing piece from his nuclear weapons program, the ability to produce fissile material.
We know that Saddam Hussein is determined to keep his weapons of mass destruction; he’s determined to make more.
Vice President Dick Cheney on Meet The Press lays out the case that Iraq had an active nuclear weapons program:
And over time, given Saddam’s posture there, given the fact that he has a significant flow of cash as a result of the oil production of Iraq, it’s only a matter of time until he acquires nuclear weapons. And in light of that, we have to be prepared, I think, to take the action that is being contemplated.
MR. RUSSERT: And even though the International Atomic Energy Agency said he does not have a nuclear program, we disagree?
VICE PRES. CHENEY: I disagree, yes. And you’ll find the CIA, for example, and other key parts of our intelligence community disagree. Let’s talk about the nuclear proposition for a minute. We’ve got, again, a long record here. It’s not as though this is a fresh issue. In the late ’70s, Saddam Hussein acquired nuclear reactors from the French. 1981, the Israelis took out the Osirak reactor and stopped his nuclear weapons development at the time. Throughout the ’80s, he mounted a new effort. I was told when I was defense secretary before the Gulf War that he was eight to 10 years away from a nuclear weapon. And we found out after the Gulf War that he was within one or two years of having a nuclear weapon because he had a massive effort under way that involved four or five different technologies for enriching uranium to produce fissile material.
We know that based on intelligence that he has been very, very good at hiding these kinds of efforts. He’s had years to get good at it and we know he has been absolutely devoted to trying to acquire nuclear weapons. And we believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons. I think Mr. ElBaradei frankly is wrong. And I think if you look at the track record of the International Atomic Energy Agency and this kind of issue, especially where Iraq’s concerned, they have consistently underestimated or missed what it was Saddam Hussein was doing. I don’t have any reason to believe they’re any more valid this time than they’ve been in the past.
There is no doubt liberals twist the history of the run up to the Iraq War to suit there needs. That doesn’t give supporters of the war (of which I was one) license to engage in our own distortions. That Iraq had an existing WMD was most certainly a significant part of the Bush administration’s rationale for war. We simply can write that out of history.
Up front confession: I haven’t a clue how to answer the title question. The bigger problem is it doesn’t seem any one else does. Until we have a reasonable answer to that question, just about any military action is doomed to fail over the long term.
Here’s what President Obama said in his address to the nation about the Sunni population in Iraq.
We’ll also support Iraq’s efforts to stand up National Guard Units to help Sunni communities secure their own freedom from ISIL’s control.
Is there any evidence that these Sunni communities want to be freed from ISIL? And even if they do because they are tired of ISIL’s style of governance that doesn’t mean they want to live under the writ of the Shia dominated government in Baghdad.
The President can talk all he wants about the importance of an “inclusive” national government but that doesn’t mean the people on the ground share his desires. The Sunni minority ruled Iraq for decades through the Baathist dictatorship. In the years since Saddam’s overthrow the Sunnis have made it quite clear they are not interested in an arrangement which sees their status diminished to match their actual representation in the country.
One potential solution is partitioning the country but that leads to some serious problems and require an almost miraculous series of events to have a chance at working.
The areas the Sunnis would control have almost no oil reserves compared to the Kurds in the north and the Shia in the south.
If Sunni Iraq became a separate nation what would prevent it from being what it already is…a terrorist haven that will destabilize the rest of Iraq and pose a danger to the west?
How do you cut a political deal with people who have no interest in what you are offering and know you really can’t even deliver that much? We could crush them militarily like we did Germany and Japan to the point where their will to fight is simply beaten out of them but there’s zero will to do that in the US.
There’s no reason to believe that Iraq’s Sunni population is interested in building a nice, quiet little desert state with almost no natural resources. Equally, there’s no reason to believe that Iraq’s Sunnis will find a way to live as the red headed step-child to the country’s Shia majority.
ISIL is a symptom of the problems we face in Iraq, not the underlying disease. Even if we could make ISIL disappear tomorrow, we’d still be facing a crisis in Iraq we have no idea how to solve. The 2003 invasion of Iraq unleashed forces we didn’t understand and couldn’t control. What we are facing today is the cost of our Iraq gamble going bust.
The National Republican Campaign Committee is running an ad arguing voters in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District shouldn’t vote for Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick because she voted yes on three bills to hike the “debt ceiling” and that means she’s “carrying Obama’s baggage”.
The votes the NRCC cite are:
All Republicans voted no in the 2010 vote when Democrats had control but after that things get…tricky.
In the 2013 vote Congressman Greg Walden of Oregon (and current Chairman of the NRCC, which ran this ad) as well as then GOP Whip (and current Majority Leader) Kevin McCarthy voted yes along with Kirkpatrick. Also voting yes on this was my GOP Congressman. According to the NRCC I shouldn’t vote to reelect him because he’s carrying “Obama’s baggage”.
In the 2014 vote Walden voted no but McCarthy and other Republicans voted yes.
I’m not one to say there are no differences between the parties but the NRCC seems to think on the issue of raising the debt their isn’t one and you should vote accordingly.
The big immigration news today (such as it is) is Tom Cotton, GOP Senate candidate in Arkansas going hard after Democrat Mark Pryor over immigration.
Pundits on both the left and right note that this is probably the hardest hitting ad on immigration yet this cycle coming from an establishment candidate (Cotton is an establishment/TEA party hybrid and is pretty popular with both camps).
It’s clearly hit a nerve as the Pryor campaign came out swinging in defense of their man even before the Cotton camp officially released the ad. And how did they do it? By hugging McCain and Rubio on amnesty</a> and insisting he doesn’t really think the border is secure.
Does this represent a change of attitude for Republican candidates? Perhaps. If we see other mainstream Republicans coming out forcefully against amnesty it won’t be because the party has changed it’s desire but the reality of the issue will simply compel them to take this course.
The next question is what will popular opinion, which seems to be shifting away from the Democrats, have on Obama’s planned next round of executive amnesty? Perhaps another hot August like we saw in 2010 could force him to rethink his plans, at least until after the elections.
Chris Christie was asked about the hottest political topic of the day (the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision) and the main of a million opinions was strangely disinterested.
The fact is that when you’re an executive, your Supreme Court makes a ruling and you’ve got to live with it unless you can get the legislative body to change the law or change the Constitution. The point is: Why should I give an opinion as to whether they were right or wrong? At the end of the day, they did what they did. That’s now the law of the land,” he said.
“This is the way that you get bogged down in those things. You know what? I don’t think that’s the most central issue that we need to talk about this morning when you look at the challenges that face our country,” he said. “And if I allow people to put me into that box? Then shame on me; I’m not a good politician, I’m not a good leader.”
So it’s too much to ask a guy who is running for President where he stands on the major religious freedom case of the day? There’s something more important than protecting the basic freedoms enshrined in the Constitution? As President would Christie’s default position be that his opinion on these matters are irrelevant if they are going to wind up in court? That would be a strange position to take for someone who wants to be the nation’s chief executive. It’s not like a President Christie’s Attorney General and Department of Justice can or will be silent on these matters.
Politically it’s an insult to the people whose votes he will need to win the GOP nomination. Voters want leaders who share their beliefs and their passions. They want candidates who will stand up for their values when they are under assault. Sure there’s plenty of time in a campaign for him to make a play for conservative voters but conservative positions are under attack now.
Politicians love to tell you how they are there for you…when they need your vote. The true test is are they there for you the rest of the time. Today, as conservatives are being attacked for waging “a war on women” and liberals are attacking fundamental constitutional principles. Christie wants to take a pass on that? Fair enough. So is remembering this when the time comes and he starts trying to sell himself to conservatives.
Christie likely didn’t want to get into the Hobby Lobby case because he didn’t want to get caught up in the whole “war on women” thing. This is a major problem with liberal Republicans, they think they can avoid the media’s dishonest attacks because, hey they are moderates not crazy kooks like Ted Cruz.
Ask John McCain and Mitt Romney how that works out.
At this point most of their traffic has to come from people clicking to see if they are really as stupid as the seem.
Today’s highlight is courtesy of founder Ezra Klein.
Everything you need to know about Aereo: http://t.co/ndyHXof7CK
— Ezra Klein (@ezraklein) June 25, 2014
Now the Aereo case decided by the Supreme Court is highly technical and complicated case so I have my doubts that Vox has it all locked down and you can go home now.
Let’s go to the “card” in their post labeled “You Didn’t Answer My Question”. Wait, how is that possible this post was billed as “Everything you need to know”. How could their be unanswered questions?
This is very much a work in progress. It will continue to be updated as events unfold, new research gets published, and fresh questions emerge.
So if you have additional questions or comments or quibbles or complaints, send a note to Timothy B. Lee: firstname.lastname@example.org.
What happened to “Everything you needed to know”?
Pro tip: If you’re a journalist or well, anyone, and you’re tempted to say or write, here’s everything you need to know about….odds are you’re a fool.
But don’t worry, Vox isn’t done for the day! They were very happy about massive ObamaCare inspired healthcare spending saving the economy before they were happy about a decrease in healthcare spending tanking the economy.
As Speaker of the House John Boehner succinctly put it, “A leader without followers is simply a man taking a walk”. It’s not often that I quote the Speaker approvingly but that quote nicely sums up the problem with the right’s constant calls for a more robust form of “American leadership” around the world.
But which countries are screaming to be led?
In the Mideast, the Israelis don’t want to be “led” to a force peace with the Palestinians. The Saudis don’t want to be “led” in their efforts to dominate the Sunni nations around the Persian Gulf. What both want is for America to carry the burden of preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
The story is the same in Asia. Japan, South Korea, the Philippines and others want American security guarantees from an expansionist China but in other areas, they have their own interests and policy prescriptions.
There’s no sign that India, a major emerging regional power, has any interest in American leadership or even security guarantees against China or Pakistan.
Does anyone think Brazil is interested “American leadership” on how to exploit and profit from its energy resources?
And in Europe where the once was American leadership (for a very brief time following WWII), “old Europe” is clearly uninterested in “American leadership” on any number of issues from economics to defense to dealing with Russia. Granted, in the “new Europe” there are countries that are interested in being seen as reliable partners and friends to the United States. From its participation in Iraq, a willingness to host missile defense bases and CIA black sites, Poland has stood out and been badly used by this administration. But at its heart, Poland’s interests are in security guarantees from a resurgent Russia.
It’s in Russia where calls for “strong American leadership” seem the most ridiculous. During the run up to the Iraq War France and Germany didn’t see fit to be led by George W. Bush (a man the “leadership” brigade would certainly call a strong leader) and even Tony Blair’s UK, as steadfast ally as there was, wasn’t simply “led” into war. Remember much of the time wasted at the UN prior to the invasion was because Blair thought explicit UN approval was necessary or at least desirable.
In the current crisis with Russia over Ukraine, there’s no amount of US “leadership” that is going to get Germany to forego its energy supplies. France won’t commit to not delivering the Russians an advanced amphibious assault ship. And even the usually reliable UK has decided that Ukraine isn’t the hill to give up billions of Dollars, Pounds and Euros sitting in their banks, markets and economy courtesy of Russian oligarchs.
Another example from the Bush years to demonstrate how amenable our ersatz followers are to our “leadership” is Iran.
The Bush administration made it clear they were interested in dealing with the Iranian regime but our European followers got us bogged down in a series of debates and processes at the UN (P5+1) and the IAEA. They ran out the clock on Bush (and were assisted by a mendacious National Intelligence Estimate).
If invoking “America leadership” were all that were necessary to get the world to fall in line, surely George W. Bush was the man to do it
People who talk about wanting “American leadership” aren’t using leadership in the traditional sense of influencing others to pursue a common goal. What they are really saying is they want America to take on the burdens of dealing with whatever problem they want solved. From Europe to Asia and South America to the Mideast, countries don’t want America telling what to do, they want us to come running when they call (you don’t consider the police or fire department your leaders do you? You just call 911 and expect them to show up and solve the problem). They also want to tell us how to solve their problems and reserve the right to complain the entire time we are doing it.
Others want “America to lead” as long as we’re buying. The second we ask others to pay their share for our supposed “common goals”, our leadership is out the window.
There are arguments in favor of America bearing a disproportionate share of the world’s load. People advocating for that course should have the decency to admit they aren’t arguing for shared responsibilities of leaders and the led but for unilateral American burdens that are occasionally covered by a fig leaf of coalition
Mitch McConnell tried to take a shot a conservatives who see the government as too big and dangerous to their liberty yesterday. Sadly for him, he wound up hitting a entirely different target.
In a speech to the conservative American Enterprise Institute, McConnell said that Republicans “have often lost sight of the fact that our average voter is not John Galt,” a reference to the persecuted inventor in Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged who leads business elites in a strike against socialism.
McConnell said this tendency was a natural outgrowth of the GOP’s emphasis on the free market and business, but one that helped cement the party’s elitist image on an electoral level.
“It’s a good impulse to be sure, but for most Americans whose daily concerns revolve around aging parents, long commutes, shrinking budgets, and obscenely high tuition bills, these hymns to entrepreneurialism are as a practical matter largely irrelevant,” McConnell said. “And the audience for them is probably a lot smaller than we think.”
“These hymns to entrepreneurialism”, are they anything like a candidate for President endlessly talking about the need to focus on “job creators” and how he was “a job creator”? I think they are and I seem to recall someone who fits that bill but I’m pretty sure he’s not a hero to the “going Galt” set.
“Well, it’s pretty straight forward,” Romney began. “You want to make America the most attractive place in the world for entrepreneurs, for innovators and for job creators. What the president has done instead has made it harder and harder for a small business to grow or for a big business to hire more people.”-Mitt “I am John Galt” Romeny.
Anyone who remembers anything about the 2012 campaign knows that wasn’t an uncommon (to say the least) invocation of “job creators” by Romney.
So yeah, Mitch, keep going on about how government run the Republicans will be better for average people while mocking people you don’t understand. I’m sure it’ll turn out great. Just like 2006, 2008 and 2012 did.
One of the problems I have with conservative messaging is it tends to be aimed mostly at people who are already conservatives and a lot of what we pitch to people is too conceptual. We talk a lot about the founding principles of the country and the appeal to traditional values and point to the Constitution as if it that settles the argument.
Now don’t get me wrong, I agree with these things but that’s the catch…I already agree. People who don’t think they are terribly important or in most cases unfamiliar with what those things means aren’t likely to be persuaded by appeals to things like the “proper constitutional role” of government”. You can insist that they should but you can’t actually make them. In many ways we are speaking a foreign language to people like that. It’s frustrating but one of the key philosophical tenets of conservatism is dealing with the world as it is, not as we wish it were.
So how can we appeal to people who don’t share our philosophical approach? Concrete real world examples of why government doesn’t really work.
When I find myself in a political discussion with someone who thinks more government is better or that less government would be a disaster I ask them why they are so confident that government is the answer.
Assuming I’m in the mood to try and change a mind or at least plant a seed of doubt as opposed to being up for a good fight, I’ll respond to their very general (it’s almost always a string of platitudes, liberals or mushy “moderates” tend not to be very deep thinkers about these things) by offering some concrete examples of big government failures.
Head Start is a great place to begin. Everyone wants to do something “for the children” and while it might be a bit pricey ($180 billion since its inception) but you can’t put a price on giving children a “head start” in life, right?
Well, Head Start has been shown time and time again to provide no measurable benefit to the children enrolled. These are scientific studies (We all like and trust science, right? Sure we do!) sponsored in many case not by people who hate government programs in general or Head Start in particular but in many cases by the people who are in charge of administering Head Start.
If I talked about the fact that the federal government has no constitutional role in education no one would listen. My objection to Head Start isn’t rank ideological dislike but rather I’m upset that money is being spent by people who obviously don’t know how to improve the lives of children.
Healthcare is like shooting fish in a barrel these days.
You simply point to the unimpeachable Oregon study showing that it doesn’t improve healthcare outcomes (Again, you don’t disagree with science, do you?), the failing state exchanges, or the disgrace of the Veterans Administration killing American heroes in order to protect their bureaucratic scorecard.
How is the government going to manage the healthcare of millions more Americans when it can’t even manage the ones currently under its care?
Again, my objections when talking to people like this aren’t ideological (well it is but that’s not going to move a non-ideological person, so why go there?), it’s just noting a simple truth…the government hasn’t shown itself to be competent to manage things. If it were maybe I’d be on board with the government doing more (I wouldn’t but again, we never get to that point because governments aren’t competent to do most of the things it takes on).
It’s not a question of getting smarter or more caring people to run things, we’ve tried Democrats and Republicans for 60 years (see, I’m not partisan! I just care about getting the dang thing right!) and these programs just don’t work. Sure the people who created them and do their best to make them work had the best of intentions but you need to use the right tools. You wouldn’t use a piano to fix a car why would you use government to fix all these problems we have today? It’s only common sense that we admit the government will all the best will and money in the world is just the wrong tool. We need to be pragmatic and try something else!
We as conservatives need to think more about how we talk to non-conservatives and try to bring them to our side. Asking them to buy into a philosophy they are unfamiliar with (or worse abandon the one they currently have) is simply an overly large ask. People like to flatter themselves about how rationale and reasonable they are so appeal to that vanity. Present facts of government failure not as a battle of he said/she said ideologies that reasonable people can disagree over but practical examples offered more in sadness than anger.
This approach is not as flashy as demanding that people understand the limitations the founders placed on the government or how the Bill of Rights doesn’t grant rights but recognizes natural rights that existed prior to the creation of the US government. That’s just too big a leap for people who don’t think about or care about that kind of thing.
It’s not sexy and it’s not going to lead to many Road to Damascus type conversion but it sews doubt. It makes people question what they think they know. The left has spent generations creating dogma around the presumed goodness of government. We have to begin the long process of chipping away at that underlying assumption. And it’s not just liberals we have to work on, it’s rank and file Republicans and their candidates too. They are as enamored with government as any lefty.
If you find yourself talking to a liberal or “moderate” don’t try and hit a grand slam, settle for a solid single. String enough of those together and we might make some progress.
A Democratic Senate candidate in an unexpectedly tough race in a reliably blue state is going to run on “Climate Change” with a side order of Koch brothers. And there was much rejoicing in the liberal blogosphere!
“Michigan is on the front lines of climate change with our Great Lakes and economic system. The Great Lakes are incredibly important for Michigan,” [Democratic Senate Candidate Gary] Peters said. He noted the possibility that climate change could cause “dropping lake levels,” which could have a “big economic impact,” due to harbors on the Great Lakes and the shipping that goes on there. As a result, Peters said, it’s incumbent on Land to take a stand on climate change and what she would do about it.
“This is something elected officials should be talking about — we have to be concerned about it,” Peters said. “Certainly the voters would like to know where she is. It’s a major issue. I think the science shows overwhelmingly that human activities have contributed a great deal towards climate change.”
The Great Lakes are going to be drained because of global warming, cooling, Koch brothers putting in a big straw and sucking out all the water, I don’t know and Peters doesn’t say (they never do, helps to keep their options to blame whatever weather comes up on “climate change”.)
Meanwhile in the real world.
As of April 16, 38 percent of the Great Lakes were covered in ice.
“Normally, only about 3 percent of the Great Lakes are still covered with ice at this time of year,” said [AccuWeather.com Senior Meteorologist Brett] Anderson.
So is the planet heating up so much that Great Lakes are going to bubble away to nothing or is the planet so cold that they will freeze over for longer periods of time? It’s a trick question! It doesn’t matter, just institute more government control and raise taxes!
Someone should as Peters what he would do if elected to ensure that Harry Reid brings a climate bill to the floor. Reid has refused to that for FOUR years because it’s electoral poison to many of his red state members.
By the way, the Michigan Senate race is basically a tie at this point.