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October 19, 2006

The time to leave Iraq is soon, very soon

So, have you ever heard of General Sir Richard Dannatt? Or what he thinks of the war in Iraq?

Probably not. The Quad-Cities media, like that all across the country, has pretty much ignored the firestorm Sir Richard set off in Great Britain last week when he said the presence of British troops in Iraq 'exacerbates security problems' there and that the UK should get its troops out 'soon.'

He said foreign troops have worn out their welcome and are serving primarily to cultivate support for the global jihadist movement. Additionally, he warned, the Iraq commitment threatens to 'break' the British military.

Understand here that Sir Richard is not some retired guy doing a talking head routine on television. He's the serving chief of staff of the British army -- the top guy.

His blast at the 'naive' attempt to create a liberal democracy in Iraq is but the latest proof that this is the wrong war at the wrong time in the wrong place.

It's certain that a huge majority of Iraqis agree with him. Public opinion polls (yes, they do those in Iraq, too) show that 71 percent of Iraqis would like to see foreign troops, most specifically Americans, get out the country. Sixty-one percent say they approve of attacks on American troops. A huge majority says, too, that they'd feel safer if the U.S. pulled out.

The only cold comfort that can be found in the polls is that Iraqis hold an even lower opinion of Osama bin Ladin and Al Quaeda -- 94 percent say they disapprove of the organization and its leader.

The discontent in Iraq is easily understandable. The place is nothing but a vast slaughterhouse. Iraqbodycount.org, which tracks civilian deaths there, says that more than 48,000 civilians have been killed since the U.S. invasion in March 2003. Since the group counts only those deaths that can be confirmed through multiple sources, it acknowledges that its count is inevitably low.

At the other end of the scale, Lancet, the British Medical journal, just released a study that says the total death toll since the war began is 650,000, or one in every 40 people in a nation of 26 million. That number is hotly disputed, and the methodology used to get it is attacked as sloppy and insufficient.

For the sake of this discussion, let's just deal with Iraqbodycount.org's admittedly low number of civilian deaths. At just under 50,000, that works out to more than 1,100 per month, for 43 months now. That's shocking enough, don't you think? If Lancet's study is even a quarter right, the number is unconscionable.

While the slaughter goes on and on, and gets worse, American politicians babble on about how we can't leave because Iraq would descend into civil war. Of course, as every day's headlines make ever more clear, the civil was is already raging. The number of attacks, most of them Iraqi on Iraqi, is growing. The death toll is mounting, the numbers higher day by day. Deaths are running at 100-plus per day now. Most of the people dying are Iraqis; most of the killing is done by Iraqis.

As Sir Richard said, we're merely exacerbating the problem, and paying a high price in blood in the process. Nearly 3,000 American troops have been killed now, 20,000 wounded.

Our leaders took us there because, they said, we had to get rid of those weapons of mass destruction that, of course, turned out to be figments of their imaginations.

Once the military did its job with dispatch and efficiency, our leaders blew the next step with bad decision on top of bad decision. We've delivered on nothing in the way of improving services, the economy or the quality of life. Just the opposite.

No wonder that the vast majority wants us gone. No wonder a solid majority approves of attacks on Americans.

The time to leave is soon. Very soon.

Posted by jcb at October 19, 2006 01:20 PM


Why then, when this is the action that everyone wants, did the Congress overwhelmingly vote against pulling out last month?

Of course we need to consider changes to make Iraq less of an issue, expense and problem - but are we really prepared for the possible (if not likely) result of pulling out?

Will those who aggressively advocate pulling out stand up with such intensity when the (possible) consequences of pulling out take hold...increased terrorism in the U.S?

Are we so certain that this is not a possibility?
Are we willing to accept this possibility?

In theory, pulling out is easy...to remain is tough. In reality, the opposite is true.

I do not want to suggest that I have the answers - but these questions need to be discussed. It's a bad situation and we need to stop painting it in an "all-or-nothing" manner.

Posted by: Jim Mowen at October 19, 2006 04:16 PM

Jim, when was the last time Congress acted in the best interest or the wishes of the constituents they represent? I think it has been a very long time since Congress was concerned with anything other than securing their own futures.

Posted by: Robbie at October 19, 2006 04:48 PM

Robbie, I do not disagree.

However, one must address the reality of the consequences of any action - or possible consequences.

Again, this is not a black-or-white issue...we need to discover what the middle ground answer might be.

Posted by: Jim Mowen at October 19, 2006 09:31 PM

did someone say "Shoot 'till you pull out???" ;)

Can we call you Jim "vietnam method" Mowen?

I agree that Bush's 'naive' attempt to create a liberal democracy in Iraq is but the latest proof that this is the wrong war at the wrong time in the wrong place - and that foreign troops really have worn out their welcome and they really are serving primarily to cultivate support for the global jihadist movement . . .

Jim, why is it that you "stay the course" republicans are so afraid that - "the (possible) consequences of pulling out take hold...increased terrorism in the U.S?" - but you are quite willing to accept the (possible) consequence that staying in Iraq will lead to increased terrorism in the United States?

Are you really so partisan that you can't see the forest for the trees?

Posted by: Arthur A. Deco at October 20, 2006 07:44 AM

Arthur, please be sensible, I no more said 'stay the course' than you said, 'cut and run.'

I only suggested that we need to consider the consequences of our action - in pulling out (and should we remain).

This is a very difficult situation that needs to get beyond the 'stay the course' and the 'cut and run' sound bites. The reality of the situation is that both courses of action have very serious consequences and serious people need to deal with the issue - well beyond the black-and-white manner in which it has been handled.

Posted by: Jim Mowen at October 20, 2006 08:36 AM

JM - I happen to think this is a pretty black and white issue. For me the best solution by far is a total withdrawel. I think it is unfortunate that we are at this point. But to me, the best situation for America to be in is a total withdrawel. Certainly there is an arguement to be made that it will have implications with terrorists, but as mentioned above, every day we stay, we do further harm. I think it is a statistically safer move to withdrawel.

Before this war started I was very weary of going in and destabalizing Iraq. I felt like if we got rid of Sadam that we might end up setting up a place where warlords rule similar to African countries that have been struggling to maintain peace. This was my biggest worry, that we would leave Iraq worse than when we came.

The difference now is that I feel we are doing more damage to Iraq by staying than we would be by leaving. Our presence has caused so much violence and divided the country. Leaving Iraq is the best solution for both Iraqis and Americans. It is too bad we can't learn the lesson that aggression doesn't always work. Its too bad we can't hold the people that caused this accountable. The Bush crew is getting off so easy. It is dispicable.

Posted by: Robbie at October 20, 2006 09:24 AM

It's funny to me how Republican's always point fingers at what they call "arrogant liberals" yet we hear the same kind of rhetoric from the right.

Mowen said - The reality of the situation is that both courses of action have very serious consequences and serious people need to deal with the issue

For God's sake Jim, the same advisor Nixon had on Vietnam is now advising Bush on Iraq. Apparently only doctorates with foreign accents and fellow neo-cons are "serious" in some peoples eyes! How do I qualify as "serious" to you Jim?

I agree that all courses of action have serious consequences, but the "serious" people who are dealing with Iraq got us involved in this conflict without having a viable exit strategy. All George Bush knew was that he wanted a war with Saddam. There were no weapons of mass destruction, the entire war was based on a damn lie Jim! Free and democratic isn't the way of Islam, and Bush's supposed vision of a "free and democratic Iraq" tells me he never had a serious or viable exit strategy.

Posted by: Arthur A. Deco at October 20, 2006 11:13 AM

You had me there for a bit Robbie - a fair OPINION/ perspective. However, you let partisanship get the better of you.

Please understand that the Bush Administration did not 'cause' this.

This action, whether one agrees with it or not, (1) is a part of the War On Terror, (2) was voted on, and approved, by the US Congress.

Is the Iraq situation all that we want it to be? Certainly not.

Is a withdrawl wise at this time? Varying opinions on this as to yes/ no, full/ partial, immediate/ staggered.

But reasonable, non-partisan discussion needs to take place. As soon as the 'Bush lied' - 'Cut & Run' partisan name calling starts, the other side stops listening - and a debate with no listening is a monologue (and leads to no solution).

Posted by: Jim at October 20, 2006 11:22 AM

Jim, I personally do feel that Bush and his buddies were responsible. And please try to take that as non partisan as you can. But I definitely feel like in 2003 we still had options. Sure, war was one of them, and maybe a decent option, but there were lies told to Americans and Congress. There was tons of rhetoric spewed forth by the far right as to why this war was necessary. We keep hearing that the only reason there hasn't been an attack on American soil is because we are fighting in Iraq. I don't think anything could be farther from the truth. I think we have not had an attack because we have been lucky. Or perhaps the terrorists are again biding their time and waiting for a great opportunity.

But we are doing nothing to prevent that in Iraq. TO be honest, what did Iraq have to to with fighting terrorism when this war started? In 2003, how many terrorist operations were coming out of Iraq? How much was Iraq involved with 9/11?

Sure Iraq is a central front on terrorism today. But that is only because WE CAUSED IT TO BE. Once we made that our place to make a statement, terrorists realized it was the place they coul dmake a statement. (sorry thats kinda wordy, hope it comes through clear)

Anywho, back to Bush causing this. He cased this because he and his administration puched this down the throat of America and Congress. DO you think there would have been a public outcry to invade Iraq had Bush not pushed the agenda? Do you think that Congress would have voted on the invasion had Bush never pushed it onto their agenda? I hold that without Bush we would have never went there. It was his arrogance and stupidity that put us in this war.

Posted by: Robbie at October 20, 2006 01:18 PM


Let me reframe the debate/discussion, as many would disagree with your characterization that a) the war was part of the "War on Terror," and that b) while Congress did approve the action, it did so with justification (some would say lies) from the Bush Administration there were "weapons of mass destruction" in Iraq.

What would your plan be for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq? What would indicate to you that Iraq would be stable enough for removal of foreign troops? Where is your (Bush) plan for anything but an open-ended deployment of forces?

Posted by: greg at October 20, 2006 01:30 PM

First of all, I want to say that I have no idea what we should do in Iraq, since I'm not a general nor am I privy to classified information concerning Iraq.

But still, I do dispute some comments here. First of all the "WMD was a figment of imagination" may or may not be true, but if it's true, then the whole world was hallucinating. What I do know is that such diverse people as Robert Byrd, Carl Levin, Tom Daschle, Nancy Pelosi, John Kerry, Bill and Hillary Clinton, intelligence organizations in places like France and Germany, plus the UN Security Council said Saddam had WMD. John Kerry was saying in January 2003 that "without question, we need to disarm Saddam Hussein....So the threat of Saddam Hussein with weapons of mass destruction is real." The truth is that this is what everyone thought before we invaded Iraq and were able to check it out for ourselves. The question is, what happened to the WMDs? Nobody is asking.

The other thing is Iraq civilian deaths. The Lancet study has been disputed, just as the one in '04 was when it was rushed out to try to swing that election. I'm not a statistics geek, so have no idea which is correct. However, I am fascinated that those who claim the 600,000+ figure is correct are also the same ones drawing the VietNam/Iraq analogy. What we never hear from the anti-war crowd is that when we withdrew from VietNam, the Communist North VietNamese conducted a purge that made 600,000+ look like a walk in the park. The anti-war people don't want to think about the deaths that happened after we left, they are only concerned about the deaths that happen when we were in VietNam. Same for Iraq. They can't bear to think about the consequences of our withdrawl, only the result of our presence. The name for this cognitive dissonance is moral vanity.

As for Sir Richard Dannatt, he is old news, as is his clarification of his remarks that were spun in the anti-war press. You have to go to the bottom of the article, but that notorious right-wing rag, NYTimes reports that Dannatt refutes the anti-war spin. But so what? This is just like The Downing Street Memo where one small part of the enormous puzzle is seized upon as "proof" by the anti-war faction that their position is correct.

But even so, change may be afoot. WaPo, which has the best coverage on what happens in DC, has this article about the changing tide in DC concerning what to do about Iraq. Could be some changes made----stay tuned!

Posted by: paladin at October 20, 2006 02:38 PM

Jim - how the heck are we going to "understand" that the Bush administration didn't cause the war in Iraq?

In my opinion, that's kinda like the revisionist historians who swear that Hitler didn't start the second world war - they actually say he was forced into it by the foreign policy of France and Great Britan!

What direct act of Iraqi aggression was this war in response to?

I don't remember Iraqi fighter planes flying into the Pentagon or the World Trade Center, is that your recollection?

I sure don't remember Iraqi planes bombing Pearl Harbor either, do you?

How can you justify our "intervention" there at all?

What part of the the United State's Executive Branch of government lying to the U.N and our own citizens (about weapons of mass destruction) don't you get?

The entire war is a fraud, and it's about time people admit it!

Posted by: Art D. at October 20, 2006 03:20 PM

I disagree; the war was never a fraud. It was perhaps taken on full force earlier than should have been, created by 9-11 panic. But the war was started and never really ended back during the George Bush Sr. Presidency. There were a long line of sanctions imposed and they were constantly abused and ignored by Hussein over decades. The WMD fear was just the catalyst that pushed the decison over the top. But the nation has and probably will discuss the reasons and directions of the War long after all of us have died. Every war faces the same discussions and it is why Military History’s definitions and official recognitions change over time. That is a good thing in some sense as the cause and effects of War are often not ever fully understood, especially so during the life of the War. It is something History and Time must determine. But the real question IS how do we leave? I think the problem is no one really knows. It is all conjecture and gamble. Everyone wants the War over! But to find a way of exit that allows for Iraq to survive is the real question. In my opinion the worst thing we could do is just leave! We do have allies in Iraq, the Kurds, who will suffer greatly if we leave before the Iraq government can stand-alone. They will be caught between the two more extreme factions and need protection. If we leave in a manner they are not protected then we will more than likely be forced to re-enter the War zone except that then we will more than likely be facing a situation where Syria and Iran are more openly using the two extremist factions against each other in order to wrest control of the Iraq wealth and strategic location. We opened the Pandora’s box by removing the predator Hussein, something that our government had been trying to do for decades, but as with the removal of any predator in nature, you are faced with the dangers that the predator controls.

Posted by: NMP at October 21, 2006 12:28 AM

The WMD 'lies' is a foolish, revisionist, argument. This was 'world intelligence' that Democrats and Republicans alike believed.

My goodness, look at the comments that Bill Clinton made all the way from 1998 through the invasion. No one doubted this intelligence at the time and Democrats and Republicans alike voted for the Iraq invasion.

But to debate this is total foolishness. It is rearranging deckchairs on the Titanic. We have a serious issue before us in Iraq and we need serious-minded people to discuss the future steps. I believe that most people agree that either path has potential for serious consequences - why can't we discuss things from today forward (other than the fact that hindsight is 20/20 and it is easy to criticize and very difficult to make a plan from this point forward -and take responsibility for the consequences.

One would be a fool to say that everything is perfect (war is not perfect, defending a country is not perfect), but can we deal with constructive dialogue about the future?

Posted by: Jim at October 21, 2006 03:11 PM

Of course this war was a fraud. The American people never would have accepted this war if Bush hadn't scared them by saying that Sadaam had WMDs and was going to either use them himself or give them to terrorists. It may have been the government's policy to get rid of Sadaam, but the American people had to be lied to in order to support that policy.

Jim and Paladin correctly point out that many Democrats ended up echoing the Bush position on the Iraq before the war. Democrats were scared to death of looking "soft", and so many of them, too, went along with the war. No one would ever pretend as though the war was their idea or that they have equal responsibility for having started it, for this from start to finish has been a republican issue. But the democrats who went along with it should be called to the carpet for their opportunism, intentional ignorance and lack of principles.

Paladin has the gall to list Robert Byrd among those who supported Bush's statements on WMDs. Regardless of the extent to which he might have believed the WMD lies of the administration, Byrd was in fact one of the most eloquent denouncers of the Bush drive to war.

Feb 12, 2003:

One can understand the anger and shock of any President after the savage attacks of September 11. One can appreciate the frustration of having only a shadow to chase and an amorphous, fleeting enemy on which it is nearly impossible to exact retribution.

But to turn one's frustration and anger into the kind of extremely destabilizing and dangerous foreign policy debacle that the world is currently witnessing is inexcusable from any Administration charged with the awesome power and responsibility of guiding the destiny of the greatest superpower on the planet. Frankly many of the pronouncements made by this Administration are outrageous. There is no other word.

Feb 26, 2003:

If the case against Saddam Hussein were strong enough on its merits, the United States would not have to buy the support of the international community. If the world truly believes that Saddam Hussein poses an imminent threat, then let the world say so clearly. But do not taint that decision, do not taint the possible sacrifice of American soldiers, sailors, and airmen, by prying open the door to war with a blank check from the taxpayers.

If war is undertaken without UN sanction or broad international support, the United States taxpayer can expect to pay the costs of the war for decades and pay the interest costs for decades more.

...[T]he potential costs of a limited war in Iraq could continue to pile up for years, depending on the total damage to Iraq, the civilian casualties, and the possibility that the war's effects could spread into other countries.

This is a dangerous and damaging game the Administration is playing with the American public. Glossing over the cost of a war with Iraq may make it easier to win short-term support. But without any serious attention to costs, the American people cannot be engaged in a fulsome public discussion about the eventual wisdom of undertaking this war. Public support cannot be sustained to accomplish our post-war goals in Iraq if the nation has been misled about the duration and difficulty of such a conflict. We cannot treat the citizens of this nation as if they are children who must be fed a fairy tale about fighting a glorious war of "liberation" which will be cheap, short and bloodless. If the President is going to force this nation to engage in this unwise, potentially disastrous, and alarmingly expensive commitment, he must lay out all of the costs and risks to the nation.

Mar 11, 2003:

My views, by now, are well known. I believe this coming war is a grave mistake, not because Saddam Hussein does not deserve to be disarmed or driven from power, not because some of our allies object to war, but because Iraq does not pose an imminent threat to the security of the United States. There is no question that the United States has the military might to defeat Saddam Hussein, but we are on much shakier ground when it comes to the question of why this nation, under the current circumstances, is rushing to unleash the horrors of war on the people of Iraq.

This is not a case of "hindsight is 20/20". Byrd made these speeches before the war. He even tried to start a filibuster to prevent the senate from approving the war. You can find his other pre-war and post-war speeches here.

"The whole world" did not think that Sadaam had WMDs. The world was pressing for a continuation of the weapons inspection program. The program, led by experts who (unlike the sources of Bush's "intelligence") explored all over Iraq over a period of many years years, never found the WMDs Bush and his gang so desperately wanted to find. The inspections were ongoing, and no one wanted to stop them, EXCEPT the Bush team. That's why they launched a campaign to discredit the whole idea of the weapons inspection regime. But it turns out that the weapons inspection teams were more accurate than the cherry-picked "intelligence" mustered by the Bush team.

It's well known and now undeniable that the Bush team siezed upon every bit of evidence that bolstered the case for war, no matter how suspicious that evidence was, and DELIBERATELY suppressed all evidence that cut their case down.

For example, they perpetuated the lie that Sadaam Hussein tried to buy yellow cake uranium from Niger. That was exposed as being based on deliberately forged documents. Bush repeated this lie in an address to the nation AFTER his intelligence agencies knew it was false. This lie was exposed before the war started.

Then there was the pathetic British "intelligence dossier", which was copied nearly word for word, whole cloth, from a magazine article from 2002. The only changes were that were made were adjectives were put in that attempted to make the Iraqis more sinister. The actual author was not an intelligence expert, and had no evidence on whether or not Sadaam had WMDs. This sham was exposed before the war.

The Bush team also relied extensively on a pathological liar who German intelligence informed us was "not normal" and not to be trusted. But he told the Bush team what he wanted to hear, so the lies that this jerk told were (against the warning of the Germans) treated as "intelligence" about Sadaam's WMDs. This sham was not exposed until after the war, though both German and US intelligence knew about it. It's on garbage like this that Bush built his case for war.

Jim, plenty of people doubted the "intelligence" moving up to the war. It wasn't easy to hear the doubters, because many didn't make it on the news much. The top show on MSNBC at the time, Donahue, vociferously questioned Bush's war plans. However, that stance got his show cancelled, because the network was worried about looking like it didn't "support the troops."

But in spite of all of their efforts, Bush and his team could not convince (or browbeat, or bribe) more than a handful of countries to support their plan for war. Even of those countries that did think Sadaam might have weapons, none of them thought the case was strong enough to go to war on. That's why they had to avoid taking the case to the UN. The most pervasive lie that the Bushies perpetuated was their certainty that Sadaam had the weapons. Their intelligence wasn't strong enough to make a "certain" case, and they knew it. Lot's of people saw through those lies.

Paladin, I can't believe that you still believe that there "were" WMD's in Iraq just before the war and that "something happened to them." Are you living in a fantasy world? Not a single intelligence agency, expert, specialist, or anyone who knows anything about Sadaam or Iraq believes this. You know who believes this? Right wing talk show hosts, who have absolutely no idea what is or ever was going on in Iraq. Wakeup call to paladin: there were no WMDs.

There is a point in discussing this. It has to do with the credibility of the Bush government. We should be clear on how we got into this predicament and who got us there and how. This might help us figure out how to get out.

There's no telling if there will be more killing if we leave. It is certain that there will be more killing if we stay. Most importantly, the Iraqi people want us out, and they think that they will be safer after we leave. Though we have managed to reduce it to shambles, it's still their country, not ours, and they're supposed to be sovereign. There is no evidence at all to suggest that the Kurds will be slaughtered if we leave. They are geographically separated from the Arab Sunnis and Shia.

Paladin, you say that in Vietnam there was a post-war purge dwarfing 600,000 people? Provide a source, please.

Posted by: Saul at October 22, 2006 03:56 PM

Again, arguing about the past is a total waste of time.

We ran through Afghanistan in no time - and thought that we could do the same in Iraq. Sadaam stonewalled on the surrender agreement that he made for more than 10-years - and it was time to take him out. Come on, everyone was critical of Bush I for not doing it the first time around - so now we did it.

We blew through and made it happen. God bless the U.S. technology!

Now came the tough part. Has it been perfect since Sadaam went away - of course not. But the world is a better place, to that I hope that no one can disagree.

The question for all of us (yes, you who only know how to criticize the past) - what do we do now?

Of course we all want our troops in Iraq lessened. However, how quickly? To what level? With what consequences?

It does seem to be fair to say that Iraq is indeed the front of the war on terror. OBL has stated so much. The fact that the terrorists are there seems to indicate so much.

Does the war go away if we leave (if so, let's leave)!

Does the war on terror go elsewhere if we leave (more likely) - if so, where? (This seems like the most important question at this point, as it has likely/ possible consequences to every US citizen).

Again, can we get over the rhetoric and discuss this thing (looking forward) without 'he said/ she said' about the past?

Posted by: Jim at October 23, 2006 07:44 AM

Jim, to say that Iraq is a better place because of what we did is totally near-sighted. I raq still has the potential, and in my mind it is inevitable, to fall into a much worse state than it was a few years ago.

Now don't get me wrong, I am not saying it ever was a great place to live, but we cannot fully measure the successfulness of our acts until much further down the road. If you think back at Afghanistan, it looked like helping them keep out the soviets was a great idea, but look how that turned out.

I think there is an ever increasing argument that even Iraq currently is worse off without Saddam. I think there are probably many that would argue the constant threat of roadside bombs and facing religious death squads is equally if not more harsh than Saddam's regime. Either way, we certainly haven't turned the country into a beacon of Democracy.

You keep telling us to ignore the past. I think that's the worst idea possible. If we don't focus on just how bad our decision making was, then we are sure to repeat it in the future. You may say that many of us are looking though our 20/20 hindsight goggles, but I for one have been against this since before it happened. Things have unfortunately worked out as I assumed they would. The only problem is that at the time I was a 21 year old college student that no one cared to listen to.

Posted by: Robbie at October 23, 2006 10:02 AM

Get real Saul, you'll never believe anything other than "this war is a fraud". If you were truly interested in where I got my information, you could easily find my sources. I am not interested in playing link-wars. All your links, sources and talking points have been examined and talked to death, and I'm not interested in adding more blather.

However, the one thing I did find interesting was your swooning admiration for the KKK's Bobby Byrd. The quote I referenced was this from October 3, 2002, when Sheets said:"The last U.N. weapons inspectors left Iraq in October of 1998. We are confident that Saddam Hussein retains some stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, and that he has since embarked on a crash course to build up his chemical and biological warfare capabilities." My guess is that he flip-flopped to his 2003 stance when, after years of beating the war drum for "regime change" that Clinton, Albright, etc. were beating, Sheets realized that Bush was a person who would walk the regime change walk, not just talk the talk as the Clintonistas did. I'm sure he, and maybe other others like him, finally understood that policies and words have consequences---some unintended.

I don't expect to live long enough to get the full story of the regime change in Iraq, but when information is declassified, and when (if ever) historians are allowed into the archives of countries like France, Russia, Syria, Iran and the UN, there will be a different story told.

The simple and easy way is to Blame Bush (tm), but when the real story is written there will be plenty of blame to go around. Bush I and II, Clinton, Republicans and Democrats, the national and international press, the UN, France, Russia, Syria, Iran and a host of others will shoulder some blame for what happened in Iraq. Iraq was a disaster waiting to happen, and it happened now rather than later.

My only hope is that some of these reports will be published during my lifetime and maybe I can induce some hunky orderly to read them to me at the Shady Oaks Rest Home. It will be a long time before we know the full story----if we ever do.

But in the further interest of making Saul's head explode, here are some more gems from his heroes:

"We have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is seeking and developing weapons of mass destruction." - Ted Kennedy September 27, 2002

"We know that he (Saddam Hussein) has stored secret supplies of biological and chemical weapons throughout his country." - Al Gore September 23, 2002.


Posted by: paladin at October 23, 2006 01:07 PM


You have got to be kidding me, talk about ducking a discussion...

Where did I ever make the comment that 'Iraq is better off today' (which of course it is)?

You are totally ducking the question that I brought up...

THE FUTURE/ Look ahead at the consequences at ANY action that we take and then make a case for pulliong out.

Thank you - Jim

Posted by: Jim at October 23, 2006 03:23 PM

Sorry Jim, I did misquote you because you said 'world' not 'Iraq' but that doesn't change the argument I was making.

As far as ducking your question, I never said I was going to answer it. You never asked it of me, so I felt no obligation to answer it. I was merely offering my point of view.

If you want a brief opinion of what to do know, here goes. Unlike 3 years ago, there is not such a clear cut decision in my mind. There is an ongoing evolution in Iraq that balances the stability offered by a U.S. pullout with the stability that is kept by the U.S. staying.

I think currently we seem to not have a clear indication of which my be worse overall. Maybe a pullout would be better for Iraq in the short term, but things could definitely get worse. As far as the U.S. is concerned I think in the short term a pullout would be good. It would ease tension throughout the country the war has created. It would prevent further death and injury to our soldiers. But as I mentioned above it may create a long term destabalization similar to Afghanistan that will get us in trouble in the long run. I think the world in general would be eased in the short term due to oil prices, less worldwide conflict, etc. But they would suffer similarly if Iraq destabalizes in the long run.

I personally think that we should get out soon because there doesn't appear to be much change on the horizon. And if we are going to have to leave on a sour note, it might as well be sooner rather than later. I don't feel this is a situation we can come out on top of.

Posted by: Robbie at October 23, 2006 04:39 PM

The definition of craziness? Doing the same thing over and over and over again, with the same results?

Our "anti-terrorism" policy in Iraq is resulting is a surge of new ant-American terrorists, choas on the ground in Iraq, unncecessary violence against Americans throughout the region and a brand new wave of anti-Americanism.

There is nothing "tough" about our policy -- it's just plain "wrong" and it should be altered dramatically in the near future.

Bush-Cheney reminds some of us of LBJ circa 1967.
I was seven at the time, and not a serious student of our misguided war in Vietnam. But one doesn't have be a foreign policy expert to figure that out.

Posted by: values matter at October 23, 2006 10:06 PM

Paladin, if you read what I said, you will find that I never at all denied that democrats spouted this WMD crap. I even said you were correct on that point. I denounced these democrats for opportunism, intentional ignorance, and lack of principles. You can spout quotes like this all you want--you won't get any opposition from me. I even explicitly said that Byrd believed these lies to a greater or lesser extent.

What I did say is that the war was a republican issue from start to finish, which is absolutely true (and all republicans proudly admitted this before the war started going poorly), and that there is ample documented evidence that Bush and his team purposely disseminated lies and distortions as "intelligence" about Sadaam's supposed WMDs, and deliberately suppressed all evidence to the contrary, in order to justify the war. I also said that Byrd gave ample justification to oppose the war, regardless of the degree to which he may or may not have believed the WMD lies. After the euphoria of President awol-from-the-national-guard's "Mission Accomplished" speech had passed (it looks like it's passed over everyone but Jim, who is still singing praises to our awesome victory), Byrd's objections and predictions that I quoted have turned out to have been correct. Byrd is not my all around hero. He as done despicable things and continues to do things that I strongly oppose. But his efforts to stop this war, a disaster which has laid waste to the nation of Iraq and severely and needlessly taxed our own country, were valiant, and he has been vindicated.

I also never denied that the press holds some major responsibility for the war. This includes the New York Times, which prominently featured the Pentagon mouthpiece Judith Miller's pro-war "news articles". But the responsibility of the press lies chiefly in their refusal to question and expose the lies told by the Bush team before the war started. Most of the press, including the New York Times, is guilty of just reporting what the Bush team told them about Iraq and WMDs, and not doing actual investigative work to find out for themselves whether the Bush claims held water. It was clear then that the Bush team was distorting the truth, but not many dared to question.

No one more vigorously and strenuously made the case for war than the Bush team. Many in the press and the democratic party went along. All share blame. But the blame is not, by any stretch of the imagination, equal. Without the Bush team pushing it, this war would not have happened.

I really do not understand your position. You think that France, Russia and the UN somehow have the ultimate truth about this WMD business, and they're not telling us? What access could they possibly have had that we don't now have? Everything in Iraq has been layed bare for three years. We've searched high and low, including all of those places which the weapons inspectors were denied access to. We've captured and interrogated all of the scientists who could possibly have been part of such an effort. Even Bush's own weapons inspectors say that there were no WMDs. But you think that somehow, the ultimate puppetmasters in France and Russia, flying around in their black UN helicopters, are keeping their secrets about Iraq's WMDs, so that we'll never know the REAL truth. Man, talk about your conspiracy theories.

I asked you for a single source: a source for your claim that Vietnam carried out a postwar purge that far exceeded 600,000 people. I have tried to find reference to this, but have been unable. Apparently, googling is not my strong point. I ask with all sincerity, please help me out here. One source, any source, for your Vietnam claim.

Jim, your contention that things are better now than under Sadaam, along with your contention that we should stay because you think, maybe, it might make us safer, is missing one factor. Do you care at all what the Iraqis think? Does the fact that tens or hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have died in the past three years as a result of our invasion and occupation have any effect on you? Does the fact that the Iraqis want us out of their country have any effect on you at all?

What is "the war on terror", Jim? Is it a conventional war? Do "the terrorists" have a conventional army? Are they a state or unified organization in a specific geographic location that we can fight with our own conventional army?

No? Then what are we doing with our army? What are we doing occupying someone else's country? A country with a population that doesn't want us there? A country whose majority thinks that military attacks against the foreign army occupying them are justified?

Hmmm...maybe that means that the Iraqis are all terrorists! If they don't love the occupation, then they must be terrorists. We'd better stay until we get'em all!

Is this "the war on terror" that you support?

Posted by: Saul at October 23, 2006 10:43 PM

Paladin, I just came across the Snopes urban legends page which gives the context for each of the quotes from democrats you give. Let me reiterate--I am not the rah rah squad for the democrats who believed and spread WMD lies. But you can't just yank single sentences out of context and use them to support Bush's war. Each of these people gave compelling reasons why going to war would be a bad idea.


"The last UN weapons inspectors left Iraq in October of 1998. We are confident that Saddam Hussein retained some stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, and that he has since embarked on a crash course to build up his chemical and biological warfare capability. Intelligence reports also indicate that he is seeking nuclear weapons, but has not yet achieved nuclear capability. It is now October of 2002. Four years have gone by in which neither this administration nor the previous one felt compelled to invade Iraq to protect against the imminent threat of weapons of mass destruction. Until today. Until 33 days until election day. Now we are being told that we must act immediately, before adjournment and before the elections. Why the rush?

"Yes, we had September 11. But we must not make the mistake of looking at the resolution before us as just another offshoot of the war on terror. We know who was behind the September 11 attacks on the United States. We know it was Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda terrorist network. We have dealt with al Qaeda and with the Taliban government that sheltered it, we have routed them from Afghanistan and we are continuing to pursue them in hiding.

"So where does Iraq enter the equation? No one in the Administration has been able to produce any solid evidence linking Iraq to the September 11 attack. Iraq had biological and chemical weapons long before September 11. We knew it then, and we know it now. Iraq has been an enemy of the United States for more than a decade. If Saddam Hussein is such an imminent threat to the United States, why hasn't he attacked us already? The fact that Osama bin Laden attacked the United States does not, de facto, mean that Saddam Hussein is now in a lock and load position and is readying an attack on the United States. In truth, there is nothing in the deluge of Administration rhetoric over Iraq that is of such moment that it would preclude the Senate from setting its own timetable and taking the time for a thorough and informed discussion of this crucial issue."



"We have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is seeking and developing weapons of mass destruction. Our intelligence community is also deeply concerned about the acquisition of such weapons by Iran, North Korea, Libya, Syria and other nations. But information from the intelligence community over the past six months does not point to Iraq as an imminent threat to the United States or a major proliferator of weapons of mass destruction.

"In public hearings before the Senate Armed Services Committee in March, CIA Director George Tenet described Iraq as a threat but not as a proliferator, saying that Saddam Hussein, and I quote, "is determined to thwart U.N. sanctions, press ahead with weapons of mass destruction, and resurrect the military force he had before the Gulf War." That is unacceptable, but it is also possible that it could be stopped short of war."



"We know that he has stored secret supplies of biological and chemical weapons throughout his country.

"We have no evidence, however, that he has shared any of those weapons with terrorist groups. However, if Iraq came to resemble Afghanistan, with no central authority but instead local and regional warlords with porous borders and infiltrating members of Al Qaeda than these widely dispersed supplies of weapons of mass destruction might well come into the hands of terrorist groups.

If we end the war in Iraq the way we ended the war in Afghanistan, we could easily be worse off than we are today. When Secretary Rumsfield was asked recently about what our responsibility for restabilizing Iraq would be in an aftermath of an invasion, he said, "That's for the Iraqis to come together and decide."

[ . . .]
"What is a potentially even more serious consequence of this push to begin a new war as quickly as possible is the damage it can do not just to America's prospects to winning the war against terrorism but to America's prospects for continuing the historic leadership we began providing to the world 57 years ago, right here in this city by the bay."

Posted by: Saul at October 23, 2006 11:47 PM

When are we going to quit arguing from a Democrat vs. Republican perspective and understand that the real battle is between us, the guy on the street (whether white or blue collar) vs. the career politicians (whether Democrat or Republican).

Let's face it, they care about keeping their jobs, which means saying whatever they have to say. There is only a small minority that will stand up for what is right (for the people that they serve), regardless of their personal consequences.

The WMD-lies argument is nothing but a great smokescreen (a lie itself) that allows Democrats to get reelected - at the expense of having a needed rational dialogue on 'Iraq/ War on Terror - "Today and Forward".

Posted by: Jim at October 24, 2006 11:22 AM

Saul, I'm sorry you think I "support Bush's war". I thought I had made it plain that I had no idea about whether it was right or wrong to invade Iraq or what the present course should be.

As a history geek, I take the long view. There has never been a war where people didn't weary of it at some point, thought POTUS (or whoever) was lying or actively pulling strings in order to get us into war and at some point thought it just wasn't worth the blood and treasure. I could give examples,but it wouldn't make any difference to you. We just have different views about Iraq---you "know" and I'm agnostic.

I still contend the "truth" about this war is a long way off, and I only hope I can hold on long enough to find out what it is.

Posted by: paladin at October 24, 2006 12:34 PM

I must admit that I am somewhat amused at the thinking that a President of the United States (or anyone else for that matter) actually would 'pull strings in order to get us into a war.'

Come on, why on earth would someone do this?

Wouldn't someone have to be incredibly twisted to even consider this?

Seriously, I know that people hate Bush, but even those people have to admit that he is not 'unstable' - 'meanspirited' or a 'lunatic.'

He understands the big-picture war-against-terror and Iraq was the logical next step. You may disagree with him on this, but to suggest that he lied to get us there is plain silly (he did not need to - Sadaam did all the work for him).

Posted by: Anonymous at October 24, 2006 02:38 PM

Paladin, I apologize for mistaking you for a supporter of the war, when actually you're an agnostic who doesn't claim to "know" anything. I wonder how I came up with the idea that you were a war supporter. Perhaps it's because on Jim Mowen's blog you've suggested that withdrawing the troops would amount to "appeasing" the terrorists. Perhaps it's because you constantly mock and deride all those who oppose the war. Or perhaps it's because you're an incessant perveyor of right-wing propaganda in general.

For example, in your first comment on this post, you accuse those who oppose this war of "moral vanity", saying that they "can't bear to think about the deaths that happened [in Vietnam] after we left", while in fact "the Communist North VietNamese conducted a purge that made 600,000+ look like a walk in the park." Obviously, this comment was aimed at suggesting that we should not be too hasty in withdrawing from Iraq.

Should I ask you a third time for your source of that claim, the historical grounding on which you based that particular jab at opponents of the war? Somehow, I doubt you're going to answer. I've looked, Paladin, far and wide, and can't seem to find any reference to a large scale slaughter by the Communist North Vietnamese that far exceeded 600,000 people after we left Vietnam. Please, Mr. History Geek, educate us. Or should we just assume that you don't know what you're talking about? What a shame that would be.

Posted by: Saul at October 25, 2006 07:51 AM

Sorry Saul, but a Saul vs. paladin caged death match would be too boring, even for me.

Posted by: paladin at October 25, 2006 05:59 PM

I can't personally vouch for the numbers or the method in which they were arrived but if you are really interested in looking at a site that seems to have put a great deal of effort and work into researching man's favorite sport, genocide and government Warfare endorsed slaughter, I leave a site for all to read. I do not claim to either agree or disagree with the information or views (personal self-disclaimer/cop-out) contained on the site. However, it is thought provoking and shows how little most of us (myself included) really understand genocide and mans propensity to kill each other. We really are a bestial genus and very casual when it comes to killing each another in mass numbers and the numbers really do not leave many with clean hands. I also leave a link to the page dedicated to Vietnam.



Posted by: skullandbones at October 27, 2006 04:50 AM