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[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.

[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.
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[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.
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[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.

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