Log in

No account? Create an account
New update at Long Haired Weirdo. It's entitled "Why are we in… - John [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]

[ userinfo | livejournal userinfo ]
[ archive | journal archive ]

[Oct. 25th, 2005|10:55 pm]
New update at Long Haired Weirdo. It's entitled "Why are we in Iraq?" and I'm copying it here behind a cut tag.

If you're interested in my answer to that question, you can read it here... but I reckon you all know my opinion of George W. Bush, and know what the ultimate answer will be.

This blog is my "human" blog. I have the other one at http://www.forthedream.com/blogentries, and that's where I try to be patient and understanding and try to bring about the dream, the dream that founded this nation, of many different people, with many different ideas and interests, dreaming about a government that exists to serve the people and protect their rights.

Here, I don't have to be that patient; this is my living room, after a fashion. It's where I can come to rest, and to rant, and to talk about things differently than I would when fighting for the dream.

And it's time for me to rant. Everything I say is an honestly held opinion, here, and carefully thought out. It's just, I'm not going to be too careful about upsetting people who hold different opinions. Is that clear? I hope so.

So, let's look at the situation. Why are we in Iraq?

Well, first was the question of WMDs. George W. Bush stated that he didn't think the intelligence was all that solid. He asked George Tenet if that was all he had... and George Tenet said that it was a slam dunk case.

Well, George Tenet was wrong.

Next was the suggestion that there were strong, and important, connections between Al Quaeda and Iraq. There were connections, but face it, you have two enemies of the United States; they have common interests, so there are going to be connections. There was no working relationship. If we were looking for governments that supported Al Quaeda, there were bigger fish to fry than Iraq.

Finally, there's freedom; the removal of Saddam Hussein, and freedom for the Iraqi people.

I hope we bring freedom to the Iraqi people. I really do. After we invaded their country, insisting that their leader had WMDs, after we killed tens of thousands of innocent people, they deserve that much. They deserve a hell of a lot more, but they deserve at least that much.

But I want you to think about this.

You have 150,000 soldiers. You have much more than one hundred billion dollars to spend. You have a maniacally hateful organization that killed 3,000 Americans.

Is the best way to protect America to spend over a hundred billion dollars, to see over 2000 of our soldiers killed, to reduce our combat readiness by a huge amount, in order to bring freedom to Iraq?

Bush has this wonderful dream that, if Iraq is free, then freedom will spread through the Middle East. It's a nice dream; I have no problem with that dream, but shouldn't we be demanding something more solid than dreams?

The neo-con dream sounded nice; we invade, overwhelm the Iraqi military, install an interim government, hold elections, and bam, a fast, cheap victory.

But even before the war started, Colin Powell was warning that it might not be that easy. Now, how many people are more respected, in military and civilian roles, than Colin Powell? We had a lot of other people who were giving warnings, but Colin Powell was the Secretary of State, chosen by George W. Bush, and however much Bush trusted other folks, he should have trusted Powell, too.

So, the success of the dream wasn't a certainty, either.

WMDs? Bush knew that the intelligence wasn't solid, but trusted George Tenet.

Al Quaeda? There were bigger fish to fry than Iraq. Al Quaeda didn't have a meaningful working relationship with Iraq. We could have gotten a lot more damage done to Al Quaeda at a much lower cost, if we'd done something else.

Freedom for the Iraqis? A noble idea, a wonderful dream, but again, it should not have been our top priority.

Now, I'll grant you: now that we've invaded, we have to see it through. We don't have a choice. Mind, we should be deciding right now what circumstances have to be met for us to leave. Not a timeline, but we should be deciding when we'll say "we've done all we can", and leave.

Otherwise, we could stay stuck in Iraq, losing the lives of our soldiers, and losing billions of dollars, indefinitely.

How many trained soldiers will the Iraqis need? What should their government look like? What jobs do we need to complete, so that we can say we're done, we've won?

But while we're doing that, we should also be asking the question up above in the title.

Why are we in Iraq?

Not because of WMDs; they weren't there, and we had our suspicions before the invasion.

Not because of Al Quaeda; there were other, better targets.

Not because of freedom for the Iraqis; the cost is too high, and the lost opportunities to do other things is too great. No one would have chosen to pay this price to bring the Iraqis to this stage, not in the aftermath of 9/11.

No, we are in Iraq for one reason, one that over-rides all the others.

We are in Iraq because George W. Bush fucked up.

He trusted George Tenet, and shouldn't have. In other words, he fucked up.

He let himself be blinded by advisors who ignored the evidence that Iraq was not the next step in taking down Al Quaeda. In other words, he fucked up.

He chose a course that was too expensive, at a time when America could not afford that expense, to pursue a wonderful dream, without recognizing (despite Colin Powell's warnings) that he had been fed an unrealistic vision. In other words, he fucked up.

And now we have to clean up after he fucked up. And you know what? That doesn't bother me quite so much as the way everyone seems to believe that he's some kind of hero, that people won't even acknowledge that he fucked up.

People can make mistakes, and the occupant of the White House has the opportunity to make bigger mistakes than anyone else.

The thing is, a true leader will admit to mistakes, rather than hoping the spin doctors can insist they were actually wonderful ideas. A real man will admit to his mistakes, and find a solution, working that much harder, because he's determined to redeem himself.

I can't trust George W. Bush to be either of those things. If you can, hey, it's your choice... but at least open your eyes, and look at the facts.

From: gh4acws
2005-10-26 11:43 am (UTC)


as for how long you need to stay - well how long did you stay in Germany?
And while there are still airbases there, you are closing down the Frankfurt gate to Europe one [ after being staging area for two Iraq wars ] and a lot of your people have gone. This is both welcome and painful.
Welcome in recognition that Germany is now on its own again, that the former allies do trust us enough to stay out of trouble on our own ( or at least don't regard us as risk ), welcome too because by any reasonable foresight there is no attack coming from the east. The "empire of evil" is gone - the locals there are busy becoming capitalists and catching up on consuming and have their work cut out for some time yet, but we can't feel threatened.
Painful because in 60 years of your being here there were German communities near US bases that regarded you as good neighbors, also as good customers and if those pack up and walk away that is going to hurt.
Painful too because you ( and here in Cologne the Brits ) added some color to our life, a spice we don't have without you. You had a lot of visitors on the days you did your invite the neighbors thing. ( some folk probably will miss the airshows too )
However you are needed elsewhere and the job you came for is done: probably not done quite as originally planned but done well enough. Also we are grown up enough to keep some of the ideas you gave us running.

I am not sure it will work like this in Iraq, I hope it will. I hope you will eventually get to the point where a majority of Iraqis can say "you Americans botched it a bit at the beginning, but made good afterwards so on the whole it was good that you came". I have a feeling this may take some time. However once you get yourself on the right path for that you will get help even from those who opposed your going there in the first place. The idea of giving Iraq freedom and spreading it over the region from there is worth investing in.

Sorry for running on a bit - it's the way my mind works.

(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: lblanchard
2005-10-26 11:44 am (UTC)
One good rant deserves another. And who other than I, of the folks on your flist, is likely to argue with you?

I like to think my eyes are pretty open. I doubt that Lebanon would be in the improving shape it's in, that the U.N. would go after Syria, and that Libya would occasionally exhibit good behavior if we hadn't gone to Iraq and if the U.N. oil-for-food scandal weren't pointing some fingers at the segments of the international community who opposed us prior to the war.

Hussein and the Ba'athists seem to have had a cozy little deal going there -- complain about the sanctions, yes, but find ways to line the pockets of any number of folks in exchange for keeping the U.S. on a short leash in the U.N.

As for the Iraq/Al Qaeda link: Hussein applauded September 11, as you may recall, and after being a serious secularist for decades became conspicuously devout when jihad began to look like The Next Great Thing. The latest in the Volcker investigation is suggesting the very real possibility that there was indeed a conduit for funds to flow from oil-for-food to Al Qaeda. It will be interesting to see how that plays out.

Hussein and bin Laden both absorbed a lesson from Vietnam as well -- keep up a steady drip-drip-drip of bad news the weak-kneed Americans will cave in.

And you can count on the press to report only that. What you aren't getting is the news that the Iraqi army is increasingly taking the lead in the fight, with something like 30 battalions now operating virtually independently. Or the news that we've been systematically cleaning out and securing former terrorist (to heck with that sanitized term "insurgents") strongholds all along the path from Baghdad to Syria. One of the warblogs has a flash presentation up about that -- when I run across it again I'll comment on one of your LJ entries so you can go see it.

No, John, my eyes are open -- I assess the same evidence you have access to and it is not at all clear to me that George Bush "fucked up" on this war, although we have had some strategic and tactical setbacks. (I understand that Wolfowitz et al. had four compelling arguments for the war but realized that neither a public raised on Sesame Street two-minute bites nor a press that wants the big splashy scary thing would be likely to sit still for a complex argument.) I think that ultimately we will succeed here and that the Middle East will be a freer place as a result -- and that a lot of the international thugs and feeders at various troughs are extremely unhappy as a consequence.

This doesn't mean we shouldn't correct strategy or tactics or that we shouldn't investigate and correct the appalling moral lapses that result in the torture of captives. And I don't feel any need to hear George Bush to do any mea culpas about the war when it's obvious that the plans have shifted to accommodate the reality of the campaign.

I'm not looking for any apologies from Bush for the war. I'd like to hear him address some spending issues, though -- just not by throttling a military that, increasingly, is doing its job in a difficult situation.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: johnpalmer
2005-10-26 04:37 pm (UTC)
Well... to have a basis for discussion, I'd need to explain what I think about war.

Morally, I think war is like using dangerous (or lethal) force in defense. I think that it's okay to use dangerous force to defend yourself when, if you don't, it seems too likely that something worse will happen.

And I understand you can't wait until you're sure. Still, you have to ask yourself, when has the threat become so apparent that the potential loss of innocent life has become justified by your response?

If it's self defense, you have to be sure that the risk to your life is so apparent that not acting seems likely to result in your getting hurt or killed. It's not enough to be frightened; you also should be able to point to a danger that was obvious and seemed real enough that a reasonable person would have felt that lesser actions were too likely to result in something worse happening.

War is no different. Tens of thousands of Iraqis are dead, burned, torn apart, buried under rubble, shot, and otherwise killed in some really awful ways. Some of them were civilians; some were soldiers just defending their homes.

Before that could be justified, there had to be a real, honest-to-goodness threat, one where a reasonable person would have seen that lesser actions were too likely to result in something worse happening.

I know some people think that "Saddam Hussein still in power, disarmed, and having been found to be in compliance with the resolutions, and thus, seeing an end to sanctions" is that "worse thing happening", that Saddam Hussein being in a prison cell is worth tens of thousands of innocent people's lives, but I don't see things that way. I look at those tens of thousands of dead people, and see a real cost, real suffering, and real pain... just just a number that can be shrugged off as a cost of war.

They're real people; they deserved to live. And sure, maybe many, maybe even most, of them would have volunteered to risk death to see Saddam Hussein go down... but we didn't give them that choice. We chose for them. And the reasons we made that choice were based upon misinformation.

It's all good and well to talk about good news coming out of Iraq, and the media only playing the downside, but the fact of the matter is, tens of thousands of innocent people are dead, when it's clear that Saddam Hussein didn't pose any grave danger of causing something equally horrible if we hadn't acted.

Sure, terrible things happen in a war, and you can't count the cost too carefully, or you can't fight the war effectively. You need to count that cost before the war starts. I can't see how that cost could have been counted too carefully beforehand.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: lblanchard
2005-10-26 05:42 pm (UTC)
The obvious counterargument here, which I'm sure has also occurred to you, is that tens of thousands could very well be dead and buried in pits if we hadn't invaded. This was not a nice man. And his children, who would have inherited his power, make no mistake about it, were even less nice.

I understand that you are arguing from the position of your fundamental human decency, and I appreciate that you respect the fact that I am doing so as well.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: johnpalmer
2005-10-27 06:38 am (UTC)
Nod. I know you care about these things, and yes, I know you are arguing from a position of caring about doing the right thing.

It's just... so often, I see people who have absorbed the message that "you can't count the cost; it's war." And it's true, you can't fight a war half-way. In fact, the Powell doctrine, of bringing in overwhelming force, probably does lead to less damage, and fewer casualties, than trying to fight a war gently.

But that means that before you let it be a war, you have to be absolutely sure that it's going to be worth cutting out your compassion (except that compassion that says "hit them hard, make them surrender *fast*, so we don't kill more than we have to").

Do I think Bush is some malicious warmonger who just doesn't care about the innocent people who've died? No. But I don't think he cared enough for them. I think he thought that, we'd make things a lot better in a lot of different ways, and that it justified their deaths.

But there are a lot of places where we have to recognize the importance of each individual person's life.

It's a balancing act, just like the criminal justice system. Make the cops' jobs too hard, and criminals run the street. Make them too easy, and innocent people get put in jail too often.

And, we both think that the other person is on the wrong side of the line; you think I'm being too cautious, and I think you're not being cautious enough. It doesn't have to mean that I think you're a bad person... it just means I wish I could change your mind (just as you may wish you could change mine).

More than I want people to agree with me, I want people to think, carefully, realizing that, just as they have good minds and caring hearts, so, too, does the other side... and more, I want them to recognize that the animosity that's out there is what's poisoning this country. I think that without that animosity, a lot of things would start falling back into place.

(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
From: griffen
2005-10-26 12:02 pm (UTC)
Thank you for writing this. You used a lot fewer cusswords than I would have and still got the point across.

People who can't see this point are wearing rose-colored glasses. It's sad.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: lblanchard
2005-10-26 01:43 pm (UTC)


The Flash presentation I mentioned in my previous screed can be found here:

(Reply) (Thread)
From: kightp
2005-10-26 01:52 pm (UTC)
Dude - you got a comment from Twerpette! Looks like perhaps this thing is starting to attract something besides blog-spammers!
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2005-10-26 02:19 pm (UTC)
The thing is, a true leader will admit to mistakes,

And that is the scariest part of all this to me.

He can't see that he might be wrong. Ever. Or backtrack.

Or listen to anyone who disagrees with him.

I just read Paul O'Neill's book about being Treasury Secretary, and it was an eye-opener.

O'Neill had worked for four other Presidents. He expected that, like the others, Bush would listen to him.

No. He was totally uninterested. His minions handled everything. He didn't even read O'Neill's memos.

When O'Neill spoke up honestly at meetings, it ended his career.

No one wanted to hear what he had to say if it wasn't in line with what they wanted to know.
(Reply) (Thread)