TCS Daily

Judging Rummy

By Gregory Scoblete - April 24, 2006 12:00 AM

"Policy is the guiding intelligence and war only the instrument, not vice versa."
- Carl von Clausewitz, from On War.

In this season of rebirth, Washington is enthralled not just by flowering cherry blossoms but by that other hardy perennial: the "whither Rumsfeld" bloom. This colorful flower, which took root just months after the secretary assumed his post in 2000, is again in full bloom, nurtured by the light and heat of (count 'em) seven retired generals.

However history judges the pugnacious Defense Secretary, it must surely note the enduring irony of his tenure; his signature success -- transforming the military -- may also be his signature failure. His fate hinges less on the judgment of generals, than on the policy preferences of the public.

Extending Politics

War, the Prussian military theorist Carl von Clausewitz famously observed, is the continuation of politics by other means. He could have just as easily said military planning, for our politics determine how we will use the military instrument and just how sharp -- or blunt -- that instrument must be.

Donald Rumsfeld returned to the post of Defense Secretary in 2000 with a clear view of both the politics and the instrument. He promised to transform the military from the plodding, manpower intensive force of the Cold War into a leaner, networked military which would employ superior firepower and maneuver to compensate for fewer soldiers and lighter ground vehicles. This military, with its emphasis on remotely piloted aircraft and high altitude, precision strike capability, could produce quicker victories against a broader array of threats -- and with fewer casualties. It would have fewer massive bases overseas and more "forward operating sites" -- bare-bones facilities where supplies, troops and equipment could be "surged" in the event of conflict.

This vision of "military transformation" was not uniquely Rumsfeld's. Many scholars and service-members had been promoting the "revolution in military affairs" before he arrived at the Pentagon. But Rumsfeld seized on it with a single minded determination. The theory of transformation had the usual retinue of critics and cheerleaders, but the press was largely interested in which weapons system were on the chopping block (and by extension, which pork-addled members of Congress were positioning themselves between the knife) - not to mention how the Army was peeved at Rumsfeld's management style. Rarely did the press focus on the core question of just what political ends this Rumsfeldian military was being built to accomplish. The transformation debates took place in what was, before the Iraq war, a political vacuum.

Rumsfeld knew what kind of military he was building and he knew what that military was supposed to do. In a January 2002 speech, he listed six criteria:

"First, to protect the U.S. homeland and our bases overseas. Second, to project and sustain power in distant theaters. Third, to deny our enemies sanctuary, making sure they know that no corner of the world is remote enough, no mountain high enough, no cave or bunker deep enough, no SUV fast enough to protect them from our reach. Fourth, to protect our information networks from attack. Fifth, to use information technology to link up different kinds of U.S. forces so that they can in fact fight jointly. And sixth, to maintain unhindered access to space and protect our space capabilities from enemy attack."

It was a mission, he later said, that was "determined and inviolable." What it was not was a colonial army, a manpower-intensive force designed to occupy nations or failed states and restore working political institutions (let alone electric or sewer systems). Rather, Rumsfeld was building an army for what Council on Foreign Relations fellow Walter Russell Mead termed "Jacksonian" America -- an army to fight and win wars, not perform social work.

Prior to the Iraq war, Rumsfeld was hardly alone in his conception of the use of American military power. It was (and remains) a hallmark of the "realist" school of foreign policy to look askance at both the utility and effectiveness of nation-building. In the run-up to the 2000 elections, both then-candidate George Bush and Condoleezza Rice were firmly in this realist tradition, evincing skepticism about the previous administration's penchant for nation-building. In the 2000 debates against then-Vice President Al Gore, Bush famously rejected a nation-building role for the U.S. military. Rice was more dismissive. Writing in Foreign Affairs she noted that: "The president must remember that the military is a special instrument. It is lethal, and it is meant to be. It is not a civilian police force. It is not a political referee. And it is most certainly not designed to build a civilian society."

Today, as President Bush shepherds the most ambitious nation-building project since the Marshall Plan, as Secretary Rice boasts of a standing nation-building office, and as U.S. soldiers hand out school supplies to Afghan children, the only cabinet member not to have changed his mind is Rumsfeld. The most recent Quadrennial Defense Review issued by Rumsfeld's Pentagon called for more high-tech weapons, not more soldiers for carrying out occupations.

In a revealing interview with talk show host Rush Limbaugh, Rumsfeld said he spends his days "working on transformation and seeing that we manage the force in a successful way, and working on things involving Iraq." That the present, hot war in Iraq ranked third among the Defense Secretary's priorities was illuminating, but not surprising. In a profile of Rumsfeld, Washington Post Magazine writer David Von Drehle noted how the secretary viewed his job as ensuring that the Iraq war did not siphon off funds and resources destined for transformative weapons systems. He never envisioned -- let alone desired -- a prolonged occupation to reconstitute Iraq as a liberal democracy and is determined to ensure (by the military he is building) that it is not a precedent.

When it came time to invade Iraq, Rumsfeld insisted on the transformative approach (light and fast) so effective in driving the Taliban from Kabul. According to the Post's Drehle, "Rumsfeld cut the troop strength in the invasion plan by more than half, and cut the deployment time by months." The result was a spectacular "dash to Baghdad" which unseated Saddam Hussein's 30-year tyranny in under a month. Writing in the Washington Post in September 2003, Rumsfeld delivered a rebuke to those who endorsed a classical "nation building" approach for Iraq, arguing that since the U.S. "did not aspire to own" the country, it would keep a correspondingly small number of soldiers on the ground lest the Iraqis grow dependent on American assistance. According to Rumsfeld, the old rules, typified by a RAND study suggesting a successful occupation of Iraq would require several hundred thousand soldiers, no longer applied to his transformational military machine.

What Rumsfeld didn't anticipate was that "dependence" was a foregone conclusion, it was merely a matter of who the Iraqis would come to depend upon. Today, they are dependent on tribal and sectarian militia to provide for their security and dependent too, on the United States, which now stands as the only bulwark against foreign intervention and internal dissolution. The resulting insecurity and sectarian tension may not undermine the Iraq project, but they have clearly endangered it. Transformation proved capable of swiftly dispatching enemy armies, but Rumsfeld's "new thinking" has stumbled in the arena of post-conflict stabilization. Neoconservative champions of the Iraq war, such as Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol, recognized this rather early and began calling for Rumsfeld's scalp.

Military historian and Rumsfeld critic Frederick Kagan wrote in the Weekly Standard:

"Smart weapons cannot keep peace. They cannot get schools and hospitals running, or keep electricity and water flowing, or keep hostile neighbors from attacking one another, or provide a police presence to deter looters and criminals, or hunt down and capture individual terrorists, interrogate them, and learn from them the nature of the organizations to which they belong, or find traces of a WMD program hidden carefully in a country the size of California."

Yet despite calls from generals -- armchair or otherwise -- to increase the size of the Army, Rumsfeld has refused.

It is in Iraq where the rubber of Rumsfeld's doctrine is meeting the road of American purpose. President Bush has embraced (in Mead's terminology) the Wilsonian mission of democracy promotion, yet supports a Defense Secretary who continues to build an army designed to do anything but. It is not a sustainable contradiction. Either the U.S. backs off nation building or adapts transformation to accommodate more stabilization and reconstruction missions (read: a significant increase in reserve forces available for post-conflict duty). In short, the U.S. has to decide what kind of foreign policy it wants before it builds its military.

The Wall Street Journal's Greg Jaffe noted in 2003 that: "Victory in Iraq promises to offer a big boost to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's mission to transform how the U.S. military fights, what it buys and where it goes."

In an odd twist, so could failure. It's an open question whether the public's increasing unease about the Iraq mission will translate into a rebuke of Rumsfeld's policies or an endorsement. Looking into the tumult in Baghdad, the public might conclude, not that Rumsfeld was wrong to under-man the occupation, but that he was right to reject such a mission for the U.S. in the first place.

Only time, and future defense secretaries, will tell.

Gregory Scoblete is a senior editor at TWICE Magazine He writes regularly about technology and politics at his blog.



Rummy and the Bridge Under Construction
“Looking into the tumult in Baghdad, the public might conclude, not that Rumsfeld was wrong to under-man the occupation…”

I believe that Mr. Rumsfeld’s long term military strategy is the correct one. The problem is that the necessary technology needed to fight wars the “new” way did not exist in 2003, do not exist today and may not exist ten years from now. Mr. Rumsfeld attempted to fight a real war with virtual weapons. To illustrate, I will “re-fight” the Iraq war with the appropriate weapons available to the field commanders:

1) In the fall and early winter of 2002/2003, satellites equipped with ground penetrating molecular spectrography, documented the movement of various banned weapons compounds within and outside of Iraq. Saddam refused to answer any questions by the UN regarding these charges, and denied the existence of any banned weapons since the early nineties.
2) In late winter of the fall of 2003, satellites refocused their attention on identifying the location of conventional weapons within Iraq, in preparation for the increasingly likely possibility of military action.
3) In March of 2003, based on US satellite intelligence, the UN Security Council approved military action against Saddam. Shortly thereafter, a coalition force supported by remote controlled airpower and not containing a single tank or heavily armored vehicle moved to Baghdad from bases in Turkey and Kuwait in 8 days.
4) Saddam, his sons and most of the Iraqi leaders were captured and detained.
5) A UN Peacekeeping force, under command of the US State Department, immediately assumed responsibility for domestic control within Iraq. A temporary Iraqi Government was set up, manned by Iraqi’s, to administer internal affairs. Its first ruling was the banning of all weapons and weapons components, except for authorized personnel, such as police, the new Iraq security forces, the UN Peacekeepers and of course coalition forces.
6) The US military proceeded to finish its mission by using intelligence previously acquired to completely disarm Iraq. All known weapons and weapon components were found and destroyed.
7) Meanwhile, the UN force immediately redeployed most of the former Iraqi army to the Iraqi borders. A fund was established to pay and retrain most of these Iraqi’s and to use them to secure the Iraq borders.
8) Within a couple of months, Iraq was disarmed and the borders were secure. The American military was completely withdrawn by Oct of 2003. The Peacekeeper forces remained to train and supplement the Iraqi forces until such time as the Iraqi’s asked them to leave…in May of 2006.

The above scenario could have occurred…IF the US had the proper intelligence and high-tech technologies. “Rummy” tried to conduct the Iraq campaign as if he had technologies which he didn’t. As things were in 2003, the only way to demilitarize and secure Iraq was with a massive US/Iraqi force of about 400-500 thousand.

The moral…don’t cross the bridge before it’s built.

As Rummy said, you go to war with what you got, not what you wish you had.

Waiting a few months was not an option, as summer was coming.
Waiting a few years was not an option, the host countries were getting tired of all those non-muslim troops on their soils. Having the troops leave and come back when the time was right, was also not an option. There was very little chance that the host countries would agree to allow US troops on their soil a second time.

Waiting also meant that Saddam had more time to harden his bunkers and hide or destroy the evidence.
Waiting also meant more time for Saddam's European allies (read, bought and paid for lackey's) to undermine both the sanctions regime and support for US action in the UN.
Waiting also meant more suffering and dieing for the Iraqi people.

Waiting was not an option.
It was then, or never.

Ha! reality indeed
"As Rummy said, you go to war with what you got, not what you wish you had."

Actually, we did go to war with what Rummy wished for, ie. fewer troops. It was a stupid statement when Rummy made it and its even more stupid to repeat it.

"Waiting a few months was not an option, as summer was coming."

We should've waited until after summer.

"Waiting also meant that Saddam had more time to harden his bunkers and hide or destroy the evidence."

Not with all attention on Iraq and UN inspectors on the ground.

"Waiting also meant more time for Saddam's European allies (read, bought and paid for lackey's) to undermine both the sanctions regime and support for US action in the UN."

Or we could look at it in a positive light, waiting would have given us time to gain support from the European lackeys.

"Waiting also meant more suffering and dieing for the Iraqi people."

As opposed to what they're dealing with now? Some of the population were safe with Saddam (Sunni's), versus today when everyone there lives in fear of violence. I'm not defending Saddam, it IS a good thing that he is gone, but Iraq is NOT in a much better place today than it was pre-invasion. They have potential now, as then they did not, but don't fool yourself into thinking its all hunky dory in Iraq today.

"Waiting was not an option.
It was then, or never."

Actually Mark, maybe you're right. It occurs to me that whatever Bush decided, it was going to turn out bad. He was never going to get more support from the rest of the world, not Bush and his style of strongarm diplomacy. We may as well have done it the way we did, Bush is so incompetent it doesn't matter. We should be happy with the way things are, it could be much worse.

Lt Gen. Paul Van Riper
FOX News is reporting that the life-long Republican and retired Marine Lt Gen. Paul Van Riper has become the 8th general to speak out against Rumsfeld (the 1st since President Bush's emphatic public statement of support)

Although the video clip is being served from highly partisan liberal web site "Think Progress," the video itself is an unedited FOX News report.

Bob's delusions
There are as many generals saying we had too many troops as there are generals saying we had too few.

Of course to the moonbats of DBS, only the generals that agree with them exist.

Those UN inspectors were only allwed to go where Saddam gave them permission to go. BTW, if you weren't such an idiot, you would realize that bunkers can be used to protect things other than WMDs. And those other things were not of interest to the UN, so they wouldn't have been on the inspection lists.

The "allies" would not have waited until after summer.

The European lackeys would never have supported this operation. They were making too much money from Saddam. And were poised to make a whole lot more once the sanctions were lifted.

The Iraq's did not live in fear under Saddam?
Your powers of delusion grow greater with every passing week.

8 out of 7000. The numbers are just so staggering.
Lincoln Chaffe is also a lifelong Repuplican.

Stating that someone is a lifelong Republican is not making the claim that he is rightwing.

If only they had listened...
Remember Millenium Challenge?, March 30, 2003

On Thursday Lt. General William Wallace, commander of US Army forces in the Persian Gulf, said "The enemy we're fighting is a bit DIFFERENT THAN THE ONE WE WAR-GAMED AGAINST."

...The thing is that the Pentagon completely ignored the actions of the militia and repeatedly stopped the game (Millenium Challenge 2002) and said "that didn't happen" when Red (the side representing Iraqi forces) inflicted massive damage on Blue (Anglo-American) forces. The Red side was COORDINATED BY RETIRED MARINE CORPS GENERAL PAUL VAN RIPER, who wrote an e-mail to some friends "casting grave doubt" on the outcome of Millenium Challenge. "Instead of a free-play, two-sided game it simply became a scripted exercise," Riper wrote in his e-mail.

...In one instance, as I reported in September of last year, Riper used motorcycle messengers to send messages between Red Force troops -- thereby escaping the effects of American eavesdropping technology. Again, the Pentagon ignored the effects of the use of motorcycle messengers.

Robert Oakley, a retired US ambassador who played Saddam Hussein, said that Van Riper was consistently "out-thinking" the Blue Force. Speaking of the exercise, Van Riper said "It was in actuality an exercise that was almost entirely scripted to ensure a Blue 'win.'"

...Eventually VAN RIPER QUIT THE GAME IN PROTEST, insisting that he did not want to be associated with "misleading results". "You don't come to a conclusion beforehand and then work your way to that conclusion. You see how the thing plays out."


Official Biography for Paul K. VanRiper
U.S. Marine Corps, May 8, 2003

...General Van Riper's personal decorations include: the Silver Star Medal with gold star; Legion of Merit; Bronze Star Medal with Combat "V"; Purple Heart; Meritorious Service Medal; Joint Service Commendation Medal; Army Commendation Medal; Navy Achievement Medal; and the Combat Action Ribbon with gold star.

I'm still waiting...
Mark, last time you claimed it was common for retired generals to criticize the civilian managers of the Defense Department, just that it was only called attention to when Republicans were in charge. I asked you to point to the previous time that had happened.

I'm still waiting for your documentation of the last time 7 (now 8) retired generals went public with a criticism of the Secretary of Defense. I'll take a Republican or a Democratic administration.

Rumsfeld is not responsible for Iraq war.
Who is real culprit for Iraq`s war? manufactuers are real culprit of all war in the world. All western economy is depend on export of militery equipment, if export decline economy fail. so all western government depend on support of arm manufacturing lobby, and dance on tune of this loby.

"all western economy dependent on export of military equipment"
This seems to be a bit of a broad brush to me.

SOME western companies are dependent on the export of military equipment: the ones that make them.

Most other western companies don't derive any particular benefit from this.

Such simplistic thinking is not going to do any of us any good.

An interesting approach
So to you the big problem with Iraq was just that we didn't give the army the proper tools? What's the matter, they've been starved for R&D funds?

To me, the problem is there is no technological "fix" that will accomplish the key goal: to use armed invasion as a means for getting the Iraqis to install a government subservient to us. I'm afraid accomplishment of this mission will require more than just weapons of terror and mass destruction. It's the very framing of the task that's required. It's not a mission that military might is appropriate to execute.

Prior to the invasion many Iraqis liked us, and ewanted to be like us. Now, with the exception of the Kurds, they don't. Virtually none of them welcome a continuing American presence in their lives. So the foreign policy goal we accomplished was antithetical to the one we achieved.

As for intelligence, didn't you notice that the administration had good intelligence, but disregarded it? It was only when George Tenet caved and offered them tainted goods to shore up their "invade" line that we got shoddy intel. I'm not talking about what came to light subsequently, I'm talking about what the CIA told them, repeatedly, prior to the invasion. The lesson we should learn here is to quickly rid ourselves of leaders who dummy up a false case for going to war.

It was the American public who was complicit in allowing Rumsfeld's botched war to proceed. But how can we fire the public?

That's the amazing thing about large numbers of people
You can find someone with almost any opinion.

My thinking is not simplistic.
If you read carefully history of second world war, you will understand who was responsible for that war, Hitler , wrong, manufacturers of arm were real culprit, they not only pour fuel in war they strained it too long.

War Games aren't for play
Except General Paul Van Riper isn't just anyone -- he was the commander of the Iraqi side in the war game preperation for the 2003 invasion of Iraq. He QUIT the games in protest because they were scripted to guarantee victory for Coalition forces. The Bush Administration was NOT INTERESTED in anything advice, opinion, or evidence to the contrary.

What a bad, bad, bad mistake!

Judging Author
How old are you kid?

Nice fantasy, too bad it's only a fantasy
We did not have 400-500 thousand troops for a sustainable effort at that force level. Instead, we essentially decided to let Iraq bleed until they worked up their own decent army to take over. This is what's been done. The Iraqi army's sharp end is pretty much formed and the tail that backs that sharp end up is being formed. This year, the sharp end of the police will be job #1. And 20 years from now, the Iraqi general staff will be ready and we can finally call the job done.

The consequences of this on the long haul is that Iraq has spilled the blood of a lot of tyrants and patriots, have formed their own mythic stories and created their own heroes, and have a shot, only a shot mind you, at creating a sustainable, healthy society. A 400-500k occupation force would not have accomplished this because the fate of Iraq would never have been in the balance. Iraqi heroes would simply not have been needed to save the state and thus forge the nation in an identity that is truly their own.

A sane, sustainable Iraqi state is the end game. Rumsfeld was right to keep troop levels down. Mistakes were made along the way as they have been made in every successful war we have ever had. This doesn't change the basic scenario.

How to gain French support for invasions
We could have gone in with French troops. The offer was on the table. All we had to do was to agree to let the French intelligence services have a free hand in burning the evidence of their illegal deals with Saddam. Was that a price worth paying? The army didn't think so and turned down the deal.

A major part of the problem of Saddam was how he corrupted the international system. We have to clean that up. Gaining French support would have meant passing on the opportunity to clean up the Augean stables.

Van Riper would have never survived Saddam
Every Iraqi general Van Riper was either shot, retired, jailed, or kept well away from positions of responsibility. A showing that competent by an Iraqi general in a war game would have led to elimination from the Iraqi power game within the year. This is why invading the US would be such a headache for anybody daft enough to try. We don't shoot our Van Ripers.

So how did it turn out for real?
My understanding was that the war game that Van Riper quit modeled the invasion, not the post-invasion. The invasion went just fine because Saddam shot or otherwise removed everybody good enough to pull off what Van Riper did in the game.

Bad History
Hitler was the architect of WW II. The timing was dictated by the fact that his economic shell game was coming to an end. He'd sold off Germany's gold reserves and there was nothing left to sell. He invaded Poland for economic reasons but not because of some desire to profit the arms industry but rather to cover up what a total economic failure economic fascism was.

Should've taken lessons to heart.
Remember Millenium Challenge?, March 30, 2003

...As Slate's Fred Kaplan pointed out on Friday, however, Wallace's statement simply isn't true. "Militia fighters did play a crucial role in a major war game designed to simulate combat in Iraq," Kaplan says, referring to Millenium Challenge 2002. The thing is that the PENTAGON COMPLETELY IGNORED THE ACTIONS OF THE MILITIA and repeatedly stopped the game and said "that didn't happen" when Red (the side representing Iraqi forces) inflicted massive damage on Blue (Anglo-American) forces.

...It seems that the Pentagon -- in particular Donald Rumsfeld -- has been overtaken by the so-called REVOLUTION IN MILITARY AFFAIRS, a set of theories that state that armed combat has changed fundamentally in the last few years with the introduction of new technology and tactics. RMA calls for tight integration of attacking forces and the use of communications and eavesdropping technologies, combined with small-team special forces operations to quickly defeat an enemy. As the current state of Gulf War Redux and the conduct of Millenium Challenge suggest, RMA may not be all it's cracked up to be.

It seems obvious that the Pentagon should have taken the lessons of Millenium Challenge to heart.

Argument by Assumption and Insinuation
Judgmental Roy Bean, are you back? You make weird statements, and expect us to agree with your take on a situation, after which you make an argument based on your faulty perceptions:

" ..... to use armed invasion as a means for getting the Iraqis to install a government subservient to us."

You know, of course, that the USA has intervened in many countries: Germany, Japan, Philippines, Korea, Grenada, for examples. Which of these is "subservient to us"? All of these countries were under assault by foreign or domestic totalitarian powers. Each of them was restored to freedom and democracy, and they then went their separate ways, not always the way we would have wished, but none of them returned to totalitarianism.

And there have been even more countries that have embraced freedom and democracy when given the chance, and are eager to ally with Western democracy: all of Eastern Europe, Lebanon, Georgia, for examples.

Then there are the countries in which we have not intervened (yet): NorK, Zimbabwe, Sudan, Iran. A regular rogue's gallery of illegality, oppression, and murder. But you are comfortable with that, I am sure. The UN talks about doing something, but in the end, we will stop the murder, or it won’t be stopped.

You leftists started this war with your slogan "NO WAR FOR OIL". One of the first official acts of the Coalition in June 2003 was to turn the Iraqi Oil Ministry over to the Iraqis. I suppose that I am gratified that you are now no longer saying, "NO WAR FOR OIL", but you do realize, I hope, that "subservient" government is the same statement in different words. Your statement was stupid in 2003, and it is stupid now.

"I'm afraid accomplishment of this mission will require more than just weapons of terror and mass destruction."

And just what weapons might those be? Before the start of hostilities, the UN said there would be one-half million dead Iraqi civilians and two million refugees. Since March 2003, there have been about 30,000 dead (iraqbodycount), two-thirds of whom were killed by Ba'athist and al-Qa'eda terrorists, using IEDs, VBIEDs, RPGs, suicide vests, and mortars - terrorist weapons all. Of the 10,000 who might arguably have been killed by the Coalition, almost all occurred in the first three weeks, and included civilians used as human shields by the fedayeen.

Contrast that with Saddam's record: one and one-half million dead Iraqi civilians, plus one million military dead in aggressive wars in the ~8500 days he was in power. Even though you are an elite leftist, you are surely smart enough to figure out that the Coalition has saved tens of thousands of lives by their presence.

As for refugees, the only refugees leaving Iraq were a few Ba'athist politicians who feared for their lives; reliefweb says that one-half million refugees are returning now that Saddam is gone.

"Prior to the invasion many Iraqis liked us, and ewanted (sic) to be like us. Now, with the exception of the Kurds, they don't. Virtually none of them welcome a continuing American presence in their lives."

I am not aware that "many Iraqis liked us" or that they "wanted to be like us". I doubt that your statement is true, and I am absolutely positive that "being liked" had nothing to do with any "foreign policy goal" of the USA.

"So the foreign policy goal we accomplished was antithetical to the one we achieved."

This sentence makes no sense. You are saying "we accomplished" the opposite of what "we achieved". You have learned some big words, but you are educated beyond your intelligence.

At any rate, the Iraqis now have a government, and we can work out an appropriate plan to remove US Forces, probably to Iran if the Mullahs don’t straighten up in a hurry.

Argument by Assumption and Insinuation (Continued)
"As for intelligence, didn't you notice that the administration had good intelligence, but disregarded it?"

Well, no, as a matter of fact, I hadn't noticed. But if someone, somewhere noticed any such thing, there must surely be a record of it.

In 1998, the Congress passed the Iraq Liberation Act. All Senators, Democrat and Republican alike, voted (by acclamation) for the Act. All but 38 of the House members also voted for the Act. President Clinton, a Democrat, signed the bill into law. The following is quoted from the ILA 1998:



The Congress makes the following findings:

(1) On September 22, 1980, Iraq invaded Iran, starting an 8 year war in which Iraq employed chemical weapons against Iranian troops and ballistic missiles against Iranian cities.

(2) In February 1988, Iraq forcibly relocated Kurdish civilians from their home villages in the Anfal campaign, killing an estimated 50,000 to 180,000 Kurds.

(3) On March 16, 1988, Iraq used chemical weapons against Iraqi Kurdish civilian opponents in the town of Halabja, killing an estimated 5,000 Kurds and causing numerous birth defects that affect the town today.


(6) In April 1993, Iraq orchestrated a failed plot to assassinate former President George Bush during his April 14-16, 1993, visit to Kuwait.


(9) Since March 1996, Iraq has systematically sought to deny weapons inspectors from the United Nations Special Commission on Iraq (UNSCOM) access to key facilities and documents, has on several occasions endangered the safe operation of UNSCOM helicopters transporting UNSCOM personnel in Iraq, and has persisted in a pattern of deception and concealment regarding the history of its weapons of mass destruction programs.

(10) On August 5, 1998, Iraq ceased all cooperation with UNSCOM, and subsequently threatened to end long-term monitoring activities by the International Atomic Energy Agency and UNSCOM.



It should be the policy of the United States to support efforts to remove the regime headed by Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq and to promote the emergence of a democratic government to replace that regime."

So in 1998, President Clinton, all the Democratic Senators, and nearly all of the Democratic Representatives, signed on to the idea that Saddam had WMD, Saddam was a threat to his neighbors and to the USA, and that Saddam had to go. George Bush was Governor of Texas at the time.

Now many of the same Senators and Representatives that agreed, and passed a law, that Saddam had WMD and was a threat to the USA in 1998, now say that Saddam was not a threat and that he did not have WMD. And some of these same Democratic Congress Creatures voted for the Iraq War Resolution in late 2002. So, when did they discover that they were mistaken, and when did they change their positions?

I do not know the answer to that question, but the only Congressman who publicly changed his position before the start of hostilities in March 2003 was Dennis Kucinich, and he did not claim that the intelligence agencies had new information. Clinton, Clinton, Gore, Kerry, Rockefeller, Dean, Reid, Pelosi, Biden, Levin, Schumer, Kennedy, and Durbin continued to say that the WMD was there until after our troops were in Iraq.

So, JRB, if you have any intelligence information on our entry into Iraq that is not available to the Congress, please share it with us.

“The lesson we should learn here is to quickly rid ourselves of leaders who dummy up a false case for going to war.

It was the American public who was complicit in allowing Rumsfeld's botched war to proceed. But how can we fire the public?”

Not only were the Democrats in the US Congress unaware of the absence of WMD or a “false case for going to war”, the American people do not agree with you, reference 2004 presidential election. And you can’t fire the American people, but when the American people figure out how many lies you leftists have told about WMD, Plame, McCarthy, etc, I am sure that they will fire you. Enjoy.

American oil policy
That's a very good sustained and well reasoned exposition, Cro. I'm impressed, it's well beyond your usual style. So I'll respond thoughtfully.

The idea has always been to install regimes subservient to US interests. But it doesn't always go that way forever. In Latin America, for instance, we've been instrumental in installing friendly dictatorships in places like Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay, Argentina, Bolivia and Ecuador. Does the name Dan Mitrione ring any bells?

These fascist governments were all painfully uninstalled by their subject peoples, and now these places are not that receptive to American propaganda. They've seen the effects of letting their neighbor to the north decide what's best for them. The experience was traumatic, corrosive to their freedoms and disastrous for their economies.

Today, only the beleaguered government of Colombia is still in our camp. If they threw the Americans out their government would crumble. Chile? They're a special case. They have been able to make an impressively good transition to an American style market economy-- something none of the other Latin nations have managed that successfully.

Japan has gotten on its feet and become independent, leaving the military occupation to reside mostly in Okinawa. The Philippines grew tired of American GI's and threw them out. In Vietnam, American stooges were never popular.

South Korea managed to evolve their way out from under us as well. Remember the dictatorships we installed during the early years? Syngman Rhee? Park Chung-Hee?

In Iraq, look how popular our hand-picked stand-ins have been with the people. Did Ahmed Chalabi, the international swindler, get many votes? How about the Saddam clone, Iyad Allawi? Apparently the people over there can see through our proxy rulers.

We will not intervene in North Korea because they have nukes. We will not intervene in Sudan because we don't care about peasants being killed. We won't intervene in Zimbabwe because they suit our purposes as a bad example. We won't intervene in Iran because we can't afford to take on a new project right now.

We are very popular right now with most of the former soviet bloc. Compared to soviet rule, they see us as a big improvement (hip hooray).

The reasoning for the war was quite obviously for oil-- or rather for control of the governments of the oil states. It was a strategy to ensure that we could maintain access to supply channels, weaken OPEC to keep the price of crude acceptable, and make certain above all that American investments remained protected by American laws. Iraq was the key piece in the puzzle that had to fall. You can read PNAC to understand all that. Or you could reflect back on our courtship of Saddam throughout the Reagan and Bush One years. He was just a protegee who didn't work out.

How about Iran in 1953? When we uninstalled a democratically elected Mossadegh, and reinstalled a compliant Reza Pahlavi, was that about the oil? I thinkest so.

Your one to 1-1/2 million civilians killed by Saddam is idiocy, and even you can't actually believe such a figure. He was responsible for about 200,000 deaths over a 25 year period in power. We have equalled that even with IBC's most cautious estimates of 10-12 thousand per year. So for the average Iraqi, where it comes to death things have gotten no better. When it comes to jobs, a functioning economy, running water, electricity, public health and every other index of well being, things have gotten much worse. There is, for instance, no effective rule of law any more.

When are we leaving? Ask the contractors building the superbases for our permanent presence. It's not just Balad, or the world's biggest "embassy" in Baghdad. Here's a map of some of them:

We plan to be in charge there for a very long time. No one is about to remove anyone for the next few years. Iraq is key to our strategy, and Iran must fall if we are to succeed. But it doesn't look good. We are already overstretched and creaking at the seams, and the American public is starting to grow tired. They don't see us getting anywhere.

A clarification
The paragraph you had difficulty figuring out in my earlier comment was this:

"Prior to the invasion many Iraqis liked us, and wanted to be like us. Now, with the exception of the Kurds, they don't. Virtually none of them welcome a continuing American presence in their lives. So the foreign policy goal we accomplished was antithetical to the one we achieved."

Substitute "So the foreign policy goal we achieved was antithetical to the one we intended". I should have proofread the comment before posting. We achieved a goal contrary to the one we intended. My apologies.

Argument by reference to fact
Your summation omits that fact that during the leadup to invasion, not only was Iraq allowing free access to all areas to Scott Ritter's inspection team, but nothing was being found. This lent credence to all the reports we had received that Iraq's WMD programs had been shut down and dismantled by around 1995-96.

Further, every specific allegation had been undermined if not totally disproven: the mobile chem labs, the aluminum tubes, the Niger yellowcake... it was all hype, and the CIA repeatedly told the administration these rumors were dubious and unproven.

Obviously the wisest, most effective and cheapest course would have been to continue with the inspections. Such would cost very little, kill no one, and be entirely effective in maitaining a presence such that no weapons program could ever resume.

You can't conduct a weapons production program when you have to move your labs around perpetually to keep one step ahead of the inspectors. Duhh.

The American people are dumb as a stump, not experts, don't have time to read the papers and believe anything their leaders tell them. These are your final authorities in the matter?

The Democrats, of course, are perpetually irrelevant. They're afraid to take any stand on principle.

Perspective, Please
Your far-left ideological take on everything distorts the real world, like mirrors in the Fun House.

"The idea has always been to install regimes subservient to US interests."

I read recently that the cost to the US Navy of keeping the sea lanes open worldwide amounts to fifteen cents for every gallon of fuel sold in the USA, paid for by the consumer, of course. Nobody else does this (nobody else is capable of doing this) on a worldwide basis; on the contrary, several places are subject to pirate or terrorist attack (Malacca Straits, East Africa, Hormuz) and without the stabilizing influence of the USA, there would be terrorism, piracy, and war.

That means that the USA makes itself subservient to everyone who uses oil; China, India, the Fiji Islands, Pango Pango. And you, taxpayer, are subsidizing all these people. It would be far simpler to expropriate the Venezuelan and Mexican oil fields, and let the world fend for itself. Of course that would mean economic collapse for most countries, but the American consumer would save fifteen cents a gallon. And since you already think we "install regimes subservient to US interests", we have done nothing that you have not already convinced yourself that we do.

"Does the name Dan Mitrione ring any bells?"

Actually, no, I had to look it up, but I remember the allegations from that time period. Is Dan Mitrione now the leftists' shining example of American oppression, terror, and murder? Do the names Stalin, Mousy Dung, Ho Chi Min, Fidel Castro, Kim Il-Sung, Pol Pot ring any bells with you? These people are responsible for about 100 million innocent deaths, but, since you are a leftist, they are distorted right out of your view of the world.

"Today, only the beleaguered government of Colombia is still in our camp."

Is that right? So, at the recent Summit of the Americas, why did twenty-nine states align with the USA on free trade, and only five want to go with Mercosur? Any unbiased observer can see the good results that free trade has accomplished in Mexico, Chile, and Columbia, and they all want on board - except the leftists. But look at the disasters socialism has created: the Soviet Union and Old Europe, as prime examples. Why anyone would seriously consider socialism at this point is beyond me, but then I don't look at the world through a distorted ideology.

"The reasoning for the war was quite obviously for oil-- or rather for control of the governments of the oil states."

We have been fairly accommodating of a wide variety of governments of oil states - unless they try to damage the world economy. If your vision was not so distorted, you would realize that "control of the governments of the oil states" is an absurd statement. The only government of an oil state that we have a direct hand in right now is Iraq, and we are in the process of minimizing that. As I previously pointed out, we gave control of the oil back to the Iraqis three months after we entered Iraq.

"Or you could reflect back on our courtship of Saddam throughout the Reagan and Bush One years. He was just a protegee who didn't work out."

Well, that's one way of looking at it, I suppose. But you might take a moment to consider that we aligned with Stalin against Hitler in WWII. It was not because Stalin was a fine fellow, but that Hitler was the greater threat. Similarly, Saddam was perceived to be a lesser threat than the Mullahs. And this was before the downfall of the Soviet Union, so we had to tread carefully as we sought to keep the sea lanes open and keep the world economy functioning.

"He was responsible for about 200,000 deaths over a 25 year period in power."

Your ignorance knows no bounds. So how do you account for this statement, based on mass graves recovery efforts right after the capture of Baghdad:

"We've already discovered just so far the remains of 400,000 people in mass graves," said British Prime Minister Tony Blair on November 20 in London.

Massgraves has picture, if you can stomach them. And the mass graves were basically from the Anfal and the Shia repression in 1991, and does not include the previous decades of murder and terror.

"Iraq is key to our strategy, and Iran must fall if we are to succeed."

Well, you got that part right. Iran is already a failure, but they are using their oil money to build nukes, when they should be building their corrupt and decrepit economy. President Clinton left a lot of unfinished terrorist business when he left office, and President Bush will not do that to his successor, and certainly not to the American people.

You leftists try to make the worst of every situation, but the Iraqi War and the new Iraqi government are coming to a highly acceptable resolution. The cost of the war in American casualties, civilian casualties, and dollars has been minimal, less than any war in USA history except Gulf I. You may continue complaining if you wish, as long as you don't expect to be taken seriously.

Two different worlds
I like your exposition on the cost to the taxpayer of running the world... but you presume that this is being done in the best interests of the American citizen. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is actually being performed for the benefit of those few thousands of people who run the arms industry, and who profit immensely from peacetime buildups and the wars that justify them.

We pay, and they play. It was a firtunate piece of negligence that allowed nineteen Al Qaeda to do their damage on 9/11, theereby justifying a war on Iraq that was planned and ready to fly back in 1998 (see PNAC). If we don't have a bogeyman, how can we convince people to let us spend money on Star Wars, and all the other expensive stuff for killing people?

Your snappy response to Dan Mitrione's name fails to address my observation that back in the seventies we had lots of claok and dagger operations going on to subvert democratic processes out in the world. Uruguay was much like Lebanon, and occasionally undercover ops like DM got snatched and snuffed.

I think your domino version of the FTAA discussions at the Summit of the Americas is kind of one dimensional. Anyone who wants to trade with the United States (and that would be everyone) is unlikely to walk out on the discussion.

I see you're still espousing your Manichean worldview. Anyone who doesn't swallow uncritically every facet of free market philosophy ipso facto wants a return to the Soviet Miracle. Well, no. Other points of view are conceivable. And the soviet dream faded even for the last die hards back in 1989. BTW I never bought into it, even as a student in 1960.

Iran is not using their oil money to build nukes. You're not so dumb as to think that, I know. Building a strong economy does involve building an energy infrastructure that will serve the needs of an urbanizing and indiustrializing people. Do you think they can derive all their electricity from running gasoline engines?

As for Blair's statements about mass graves in Iraq, Tony Blair is a blooming idiot and a toady of Mr Bush. He said a bunch of crazy stuff just like Bush said a bunch of crazy stuff. No such graves were found, and much was made in the news back in 2003 about how the anticipated mass graves seemed to be absent.

Oh well. We could go on and on. You have your views and I have mine. This is unlikely to change.

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