Comments: TAPES

First, let me say that I've never accused of lying about the WMDs. I'm willing to accept that he believed that they were there, and that this was one of his reasons for the war. I fault him for not making more of an effort to check his assumption, especially since the intel. community was trying to signal its doubts about whether the WMDs were still around. But he would only have been lying if he did not himself believe that the WMDs were there, and he probably did believe it.

With that said, though, how significant are tapes from 1995?!? No one is surprised to hear that Saddam would try to fool the inspectors if we could. It looks like some combination of factors forced Saddam to get rid of the remaining WMDs before 2002, though: inspectors, sanctions, whatever. And as long as that happened, how do these tapes make Bush look better? The whole question is whether he did enough to verify that the weapons were still around before he invaded, not whether the weapons were around seven years before that.

Of course, some say that the weapons were there right before the war, but that he gave them to Syria. Which would mean that a Baathist state with closer ties to terrorist than Saddam ever had possesses them. So wouldn't this mean that the war was a complete bust as far as the WMDs are concerned?

Posted by Pericles at March 2, 2006 12:59 PM

Pericles...

Here we go again. When it comes to intelligence collection, signals intelligence (listening to what our enemies and friends are saying) or imagery intelligence (looking at what they're doing) leaves a lot to be desired. For some reason, I seem to recall that in the previous administration there was a huge move to gut the HUMAN intelligence part of the intel triumverate. The reason? Because agents we'd recruit in far off lands didn't have "clean" human rights records.

In an effort to have a "kinder, gentler" set of spies, we turned our backs on those that would have been able to delivered good intelligence rather than "squeaky clean" intelligence. Sorry, sometimes you just have to lay down with dogs...this is especially true when you're trying to infiltrate a regime like Saddam's.

Having said that, unless you had PEOPLE and not high tech systems on the ground...finding out anything about the Iraqi WMD programs was a crap shoot at best!

Based on recent stories about the transfer of WMDs and equipment to Syria in the months prior to the invasion, coupled with the leak of these tapes, if I were Bashar Al-Asad, I'd be looking under my bed for the coalition boogey men.

See you on the high ground!

MajorDad1984

Posted by MajorDad1984 at March 2, 2006 01:45 PM

Sarah,
Sorry this isn't about your post...I wanted to say thanks for the treats...Winston loves them! See you Saturday.

Posted by Stephanie at March 2, 2006 01:46 PM

>Apparently it's much bigger news that there's some tape of what Bush knew about Katrina

Yeah, a tape of the sitting president caught in a clear lie is bigger news than ten year old tapes of a deposed foreign dictator. I think that you might want to face the fact that even if we had found WMD in Iraq, with the debacle that it has turned into now, one could justifiably say that it still was neither justified nor worth it for the Americans or the Iraqis.

Posted by Mr. Silly at March 2, 2006 05:00 PM

Major Dad-
That would be a poweful response, if we didn't know for a fact now that the intelligence community HAD lots of information that called the WMD concerns into question, but that this information was downplayed. An error for which the Vice President's office, which has absolutely no constitutional role in the intelligence area, is in no small part responsible.

Posted by Pericles at March 2, 2006 08:07 PM

Mr. Silly -- I will absolutely face no such "fact". That's probably the silliest thing I've ever heard you say.

Posted by Sarah at March 3, 2006 07:28 AM

Mr. Silly is right. The original theory for the war was that Iraq had WMDs and that they were likely to give them to terrorists. We were never given good reason to believe the second half of this. The danger of terrorists with WMDs is real, but the theory that Iraq was the most likely place for them to get these weapons never held up. The connection between Iraq and terrorists was never as close as that between Syria and terrorists, and Syria has WMDs. Nor as close as that between Iran and terrorists, and we know now that Iran is getting close to nukes. Nor, perhaps, as close as that between Pakistan and terrorists, and they have nukes already. Then there is cash-strapped North Korea and the thoroughly-corrupt fUSSR, both places where terrorists with some cash could pick up WMDs. Even if Iraq had some WMDs left, we would be safer today if we had never invaded than we are now. *Maybe* a better planned war would have made us safer, but not this one.

Posted by Pericles at March 3, 2006 01:34 PM

Sarah,

I get the sense that this would be akin to your previous assertion that G. W. Bush is a wonderful moral man who has never lied. To hold such a position take a very careful and difficult approach of selectively ignoring many facts, only letting trickle in those few facts that substantiate one's extreme position.

Note that what I said above was that it was a fact that someone could justifiably say something, i.e. make an argument, not that it was necessarily true.

I'm going to ramble for a minute. For educated people, what we do is we take facts and analysis, and make arguments for positions and then test them, by seeing how consistent the views are. If they pass the testing, then we hold them as likely truths, and keep testing with more arguments. We keep doing this with everything to try to make sense of the world. I realize that this is not the typical Conservative blogger approach, so it is might be foreign to you, so I wanted to try to help you understand.

The uneducated path of make sense of the world is to figure out what you want to believe and assert it repeatedly, ignoring any inconvenient facts or arguments, and personally attacking those who point out flaws with the cherished Conservatively-correct view. The uneducated approach might feel better, since it is a lot easier, but it will not lead to anything approaching truth or understanding.

So here is an argument (which you claimed could not exist).

In the case of the war, for the Iraqis, due to the invasion they have:
* A broken education system. This is more serious than it sounds, since Iraq used to have the largest middle class and highest education level of any middle eastern country.
* Lower levels of electrical power than before the war.
* A death rate far higher than before the war.
* Military occupation by a foreign power,
* No independent government, since the foreign occupiers still dictated the terms of how the government was to be formed, and even who could participate
* A majority in the polls who believe that they are worse off for being invaded.
* Destruction and loss of many significant historical and cultural artifacts and documents.
* A society that is divided between sparring factions that can get away with murdering one another.

Needless to say some members of Iraq are much better off - the Marsh Arabs, the Kurds, etc. But that is counterbalanced by the fact that many members of Iraqi society who were once protected - there is no religious tolerance in Iraq any longer, the Christians are being attacked and forced to convert, the Nasoreans are almost gone now. Even among the Muslims there is widespread conflict between sects.

For the US we have been screwed by the needless war in these ways:
*Even if there were WMDs intelligence analysts concluded that they would not be used against the US except in self defense.
*The US has now shown that its military is a hell of a lot weaker than it seemed. We invaded a country that had the weakest military in the region, and had arms sanctions imposed for ten years, and still we were not able to go in and keep order.
*We have created a terrorist training ground. The tactics that the insurgents have learned in Iraq are percolating to Iraq and elsewhere. By exposing ourselves unnecessarily, we have made our enemy stronger.
*An Iraqi leaked to Iran that we have their encryption codes that we used for gathering intelligence on Iran. So we now have less intelligence on one of the members of the Axis of Evil at the same time that they appear to be ramping up a nuclear program.
*Economically war has cost billions but not helped to improve our economy which hasn't grown significantly in the last six years. As a holder of index funds, I am especially pissed about this one.
*The war was unrelated to terrorism, and has distracted us from the global war on terror.
*At a time when we most need global solidarity to deal with Muslim extremist terrorism, the war has even alienated our close allies, while in the Middle East where we have the most need of diplomacy, we are largely hated.
*The war has been a top recruiting tool for Al Qaida, whose numbers have grown significantly since the invasion.
*As Pericles mentioned, the war has strengthened our other enemies.
*The war has been a wedge dividing our country
*The war has been a source of disillusionment among the young, who will be less patriotic after seeing the dishonesty, the ignorance, and the arrogance of our leadership.

Now, granted, each of those points ideally should be taken and filled out. Each has to be argued for and those points analyzed, the facts cited, etc. But we still have a statement and a justification - an argument, and that's a fact

As a side note, a friend of mine in the TANG recently got back from Iraq. I sent him an AIM just now asking him if Iraq was better off now than before the war. His immortal words were, "No... F**k No! Are you an idiot???"

Posted by Mr. Silly at March 3, 2006 04:56 PM

Mote that my lists were really just extemporized, and I am sure that if there were a good reason I could offer a much more complete list. There are certanly many more reasons to offer for why the Iraqis have been hosed by our invasion, just as there are many more ways that the American people are worse off for it.

Posted by Mr. Silly at March 3, 2006 05:00 PM

Anyone who starts off a comment with "For educated people, what we do..." deserves a kick in the nuts.

Posted by Sarah at March 4, 2006 11:00 AM

Sarah, you couldn't have said it better! Mr. Silly, what you don't know is that you're probably writing to one of the most intelligent people you'll ever meet. You seem to think Sarah is some moron who just spouts off at the mouth without thinking or researching. FYI, she was valedictorian of her class (4.0 in honors), graduated suma cum laude and has a master's degree, had a full academic ride to college along with a year-long study abroad and has an IQ off the chart. I'm sure she will be embarrassed that I'm writing this, but I'm sick of some of you people writing such malicious comments and personal insults against her. Didn't your mother ever teach you to be diplomatic or know how to disagree intellectually without getting out your hatchet and using it. I'd like to be as bold as Sarah and tell you what she did, but it's not in my nature to do so--even though her comments to you are well-deserved. You pick her blogs to death and totally misinterpret what she writes. I wish you'd move on to some other website.
Nancy

Posted by Nancy at March 4, 2006 08:59 PM

Magna cum laude undergrad (Sarah topped me there), representative of my dept., Phi Beta Kappa, PhD in Classics from U. Texas.

I wil admit I was being condescending, but Sarah's comment showed a serious lack of reading comprehension, and that merits a smack. While she is often bright, and generaly intellectually honest, at times, Sarah has shown a serious lack of critical reasoning skills, and at times uses fallacies that a properly educated person should not use. When she does, I call her out. Sorry if that bothers you Nancy, but it must be done. Needless to say if you think I am wrong I would be pleased to see you correct me. I care about the truth more than anything else, so if I am in error, I appreciate corrections.

Yours Kindly,
Mr. Silly

Posted by Mr. Silly at March 5, 2006 03:18 AM

"Mr. Silly, what you don't know is that you're probably writing to one of the most intelligent people you'll ever meet."

An incomplete list of very brilliant people I have met/worked with who I believe are more intelligent than Sarah:

* Huston Smith - professor of religious studies at MIT, author of the most widely read textbook on comparative religion.
* Alex Mourelatos - prominent professor of classical philosophy
* A. H. Armstrong - Prominent professor of classics at Dalhousie. Prominent scholar of early neoplatonism. Translator of Loeb edition of Plotinus.
* John Dillon - very prominent scholar of ancient philosophy. Translator of many texts of Proclus.
* Hugh Lloyd-Jones - very prominent professor of of Classics, esp. Attic Tragedians.
* Martha Nussbaum - Professor of Classics at Harvard later Brown.
* Jacques Derrida - I'm no fan of his work, but the man is still quite brilliant.

I have a good friend who can recite the whole of Homer's Odyssey in Greek from memory (and much of the Iliad), and another colleague who can recite Plato's Republic from memory, in the original.

Posted by Mr. Silly at March 5, 2006 05:06 AM

Hmm, don't see your name on the list. It's too bad you even come to Sarah's website. I'm curious why you don't hang around blogs that think like you do. You must just have a need to be demeaning, argumentative, and condescending, and your using this blog as a means to do it is too bad. I love to discuss, but I don't like the level to which you take things. Most readers wish you'd go somewhere else, but then I'm sure your personality is such that you will stay out of meanness and spite. I'm through reading any of your comments and don't plan to respond to you again.

Posted by Nancy at March 5, 2006 10:47 PM

Nancy,

I am a humble person, and would not presume so much as to include myself in such a list as I offered. The people I listed are a frighteningly brilliant, incredibly rare sort, and I have no illusions of being one of them. I am very fortunate to have had the chance to meet some of them, and to have worked with others.

You misconstrue my motives. I am a kind person, my motives are inherently compassionate. The highest human good we can reach to is a thorough understanding of the many parts of out lives. I do what I can to help others understand many and various things, as all are better off with understanding. If someone shows that they do not understand, I help them along.

If this bothers you it really says more about you than me. Also I post elsewhere far more than here, and I post here rather infrequently, so you really shouldn't get so worked up.

Posted by Mr. Silly at March 5, 2006 11:21 PM