January 13, 2004
In what comes as a nice surprise, it seems another NY Times Op-Ed columnist, William Safire, is defending Bush's moves in Iraq, showing the benefits to America.I've long held the view the the war in Iraq was right for several reasons, even though it was publicized for the wrong ones. Thomas Friedman, another columnist at the NY Times has similar views. Even given the wrong reason -- WMD, I don't think there was much doubt by anyone before the war that Iraq had them.
Posted by charr at 9:12 AM
If the NY Times keeps this you, maybe you have a shot as guest columnist. ;)
Despite the fact that there may have been good reasons to fight the war, I find it very hard to sit back and find it all acceptable. Ex post facto justification of something as serious as a war doesn't hold much water with me. Blatant manipulation of public perception is downright wrong, and letting it slide like that is only going to weaken the accountability that the government should have to the people. Part of the whole "democracy" thing necessitates an open process, where the people who are supposed to hold the power are well-informed and able to have some input in the process.The tactics that the government used in gaining popular support for this war are utterly reprehensible and antithetical to democracy. The fact that there may have been good reasons to do it anyway is immaterial. When the government's real intents and reasons are kept secret, we're well on our way to fascism.Anyway, I think it's great that Saddam is no longer in power, and I agree that these recent results are quite positive. I'm just mad at the deception that was involved, and the slow erosion of the principles of liberty and democracy that we're facing in the wake of our response to terrorism. We are facing a weapon of mass destruction; that of erosion of our political ideals for a sense of false security. This is the greatest damage that terrorism has done to us, and it's coming from our own government and from our people.
Levi, I agree that it not acceptable for the government to knowingly deceive the public (except in maybe a couple extreme circumstances such as an possible meteor strike), especially to go to war. However I don't find Bush guilty here for two reasons. First, there were plenty of reasons I saw as valid for going to war before the war happened, besides the WMD thing, so that was never a deciding factor for me. Plus, I pretty much figured the weapons existed anyway. Second, I highly doubt Bush had any intention of deceipt in going to war. I'm guessing there was an emotional ingredient to his pursuit there, but I also think he seriously thought there might have been a security risk. Of course now the evidence looks pretty sketchy, and Bush shouldn't have followed sketchy details, but I don't think he was trying to manipulate the public as much as some would say.
I'm not trying to attack Bush's character in particular. It's hard to say how much of what comes from the White House is him, and how much is the influence of his advisors, and how much is spin that the media puts on it. Perhaps the real breakdown was in the CIA and other intelligence sources. I don't know. I was never convinced, though, that there was a direct threat of US citizens from WMD or from Saddam in general. I was convinced that he was an evil man and doing horrible things to his people, but that seemed to be a side issue.The primary reason that we were given for the war was WMD. That's it. All the other stuff was just sugar-coating. It was all based on ultimatums concerning the WMD inspection process, etc. As I understood it, Iraq claimed they'd disposed of their weapons, but hadn't kept good records of it, so they couldn't prove it. We asked for proof, they claimed they couldn't deliver, so we invaded. Maybe I'm mistaken here, but that's how I remember it.Anyway, perhaps they could have convinced everyone it was worthwhile for the humanitarian purposes that they claim for justification now. They really didn't try, though. And there are a lot of other places with humanitarian problems just as bad, if not worse, so why Iraq? It all points to a desire to replace Saddam that preceeded the whole 9/11 thing, and the terrorism/WMD scare link used as justification to push their agenda through. I'm not absolutely sure this is the case, but it seems plausible to me, and consistent with government deception in the past.
Levi, I agree with paragraph 1. I agree with paragraph 2, though I think it's necessary to point out Saddam's record here. He was given a decade to disarm. He repeatedly lied and pulled tricks. When investigators went in in '98, they found chemical weapons and a lot of resistance searching certain places. Saddam finally just kicked them out. Saddam was known to have WMD, known to lie, and known to be a complete tyrant, so there was plenty of reason to think he still had WMD. That said, I agree with you that I don't think there was a big threat to the US, and Bush was wrong in that and in trying to link Iraq to Al Qaeda.Again, I pretty much agree with paragraph 3, though while you say why choose him when there are other evil countries, I would say why not. He's a known terror. Better have him gone than leave him in power.
Well, I think the current situation there is a pretty good reason. It's a big mess, and we don't have a whole lot of international support for the rebuilding process. Rich as our nation is, we'd be a lot better off if we had more help. As we're part of an international community, I think it's prudent to convince the neighbors to help out with our money-pit restoration projects. If it were really all about humanitarian aid, I'm sure we could have found a place that was just as needy and which the other major powers would have been happy to help with. We really don't have the resources to take on all the ills of the world, and there are plenty of people we can't help now because all our resources are in Iraq.I don't really think our government as a whole is all that concerned with the welfare of people in other nations, though. It's nice that we can end up helping people, but I'm sure that's a secondary benefit. They're really not being very open and honest with us about their real reasons for attacking Iraq, and that bothers me. The government ends up doing a lot of scheming and playing with world affairs, claiming to know better than we do how to protect our interests, but at what cost? How many of today's terrorists and oppressive governments have been meddled with by our covert operations? It's hard to say how much manipulation has been successful and how much has backfired, because we just don't have information. So much for democracy!
I don't want to get into an ednless debate, but I just wanted to mention that our "allies" had ulterior motives in Iraq as well. Sure they are much more pacifist, but Russia, and supposedly France, had lots of oil (and perhaps weapons) contracts with Iraq.
I don't think there's much left to debate here, since you mostly agreed with what I had to say. I'm aware of those contracts, and I suspect we have similar contracts with some governments that aren't exactly great international citizens. Like Saudi Arabia, for example. Sure, they aren't shaking things up right now, but they don't win a lot of points in the human freedoms department.Very little of politics is black and white. Bush and his administration are certainly somewhere in the spectrum of gray shades right now, as our political leaders always have been. I just like to point out that all is not rosy in the conservative camp, since that's the picture you tend to paint. The liberal camp is also not full of stinkweed, no matter how you philisophically disagree. Neither side is stupid, they just start with different and somewhat incompatible premises.