November 21, 2005

GOP Ads on Democrats' Lies

Finally the GOP has made an ad that shows the statements the Dems have been making for years about the threat of a WMD-armed Saddam Hussein. My favorite is Pelosi, "There is no question Saddam has chemical weapons." has the video. Click on "Play" and then "Democrats: Dishonest on Iraq."


Shameer Ravji said...

One wonders if this is too little, too late.

Clark Patterson said...

I think it’s a HUGE mistake to frame the current pro-war, anti-war debate as one between Democrats and Republicans, or even more specifically as one between Joseph Wilson and Vice-President Cheney. After all, BOTH Democrats and Republicans today believe in a Wilsonian, interventionist foreign policy that makes the U.S. government the “world’s policeman,” with either troops or military advisers in over 135 different countries. The only foreign policy differences between the two major parties today are only at the margins of the debate.
It’s this convergence of opinion over the broad parameters of U.S. foreign policy that explains why major Democrats made all of those statements before the Iraq War seconding neoconservative views of Saddam’s ties to WMDs and terrorist organizations. Since both Democrats and Republicans agree on most foreign policy goals, nobody should be surprised about those Democrat statements before the war about Saddam, WMDs, and terrorist ties.
In fact, basing opposition to the war on the “Bush lied, so others died” motif is not the best strategy for hastening a U.S. military withdrawal from Iraq, an action that apparently a majority of polled-Americans now support.
The problem with Bush’s case for war with Iraq in 2002 wasn’t over any “lies” he may or may not have told. It was with his truths! Bush freely admits today that he invaded Iraq to usher in a “free and democratic” nation, an objective not constitutionally based.
But now almost three years after the invasion of Iraq, Iraq is no closer today to becoming a Western-style, constitutional republic than it was in March, 2003. And the CIA certainly furnished plenty of intelligence before the war warning Bush that Iraq might NOT become a limited-government republic if Saddam were overthrown.
The objectionable “lie” that Bush has told to the American people is the current one that the U.S. military is winning the war against the Iraqi insurgency AND that only a few thousand terrorists and insurgents stand between Iraq becoming a “liberated,” free nation-state. Nothing could be further from the truth. Unfortunately, since the Iraqi insurgency continues to grow, we must reject the notion that there is a finite number of Islamic terrorists whose killing or capture will mean victory in the War On Terror. Unfortunately, the Iraq invasion appears to have created more terrorists than it has killed. And for evidence against “security” coming soon to Iraq, see James Fallows cover story in the Dec. ’05 Atlantic Monthly:
As uncomfortable as it is for many on the Right, the evidence mounts daily in Iraq that the anti-war forces (including those on the Right like Pat Buchanan) were right about the consequences of a war with Iraq. Although U.S. forces have killed thousands of terrorists, the American invasion of Iraq has created far more terrorists in the Islamic world than have been killed or captured. Additionally, the Iraq invasion has greatly INCREASED “anti-American” [however one defines that incredibly vague concept] and anti-European sentiment in the Arab Muslim world. The U.S. military is definitely NOT viewed as “liberators” of the Islamic world, unlike Paris in August, 1944. For Bush to insinuate otherwise is simply unforgivable, considering that there are currently 160,000 U.S. and “coalition” forces still in harm’s way today in Iraq.
And Bush and the neocons cannot argue against an imminent U.S. withdrawal by raising the specter of a bloody civil war breaking out in Iraq. The civil war scenario was the strongest argument AGAINST invading Iraq, used by most anti-war advocates before the war. OF A CIVIL WAR BREAKING OUT WAS AN ANTI-WAR ARGUMENT BEFORE THE WAR BEGAN. It’s the height of intellectual dishonesty for the pro-war neocons to now employ this argument. If Bush knew before the war about the high probability of a U.S. invasion of Iraq leading to an Iraqi civil war, THEN HE HAD NO BUSINESS ORDERING THE INVASION! If Bush wasn’t sure beyond a reasonable doubt before the war that his “decapitation strategy” [removing Saddam a few thousand top Ba’athists] wouldn’t produce a free Iraq, then he had absolutely no right to risk even one American soldier’s life in this war. NOT ONE! The “chance” that Iraq “might” become a free republic after the war ends is certainly not worth 2,100 dead American soldiers and 20,000 wounded ones. Nor is it worth $250,000,000,000.
Additionally, the U.S. foreign policy establishment has actually REGRESSED – not progressed – on all five of its criteria justifying the Iraq War. In reverse order of importance, these five criterions were: (5) Israel, (4) oil, (3) terrorist ties, (2) WMDs, and (1) freeing and democratizing the Middle East/Muslim world [the latter of which includes non-Arab states like Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran]. To repeat, there has been a regression on all five of these reasons for the Iraq War:
(5) Israel will not be safer if a democratically-elected Shi’ite theocracy – with possible ties to a nuclear Iran – assumes power in Iraq in the next few years. And it’s difficult to see how Israel would benefit from an internal civil war in Iraq, particularly if Iraq threatens to split into three separate nation-states, setting off a possible war involving Turkey, Iran, and Syria. If this scenario develops, Israel will NOT be safer.
(4) The oil markets both in Iraq, specifically, and in the Middle East, generally, have become MORE unstable since the invasion. Iraq is producing less oil today than it did even under the highly-restrictive Oil-For Food program. Does anyone even remember that the neocons promised to finance the American invasion from oil proceeds from post-war, sanction-free Iraqi oil?!
(3) Even if Weekly Standard writer Stephen Hayes is right about certain meetings in Prague in 2001 between World Trade Center hijacker Mohammed Atta and an Iraqi intelligence official and about al Qaeda members checking into a Baghdad hospital, there are many more terrorists in Iraq today than there were in Saddam’s Iraq. Perhaps the strongest branch of al Qaeda “al Qaeda in Mesopotamia” now operates in Iraq under Abu Musab al Zarqawi. And the American invasion has made Iraq a magnet for terrorists (both suicide and non-suicide) from almost every Sunni Arab country in the Middle East as well as terrorists from non-Arab parts of the Islamic world. And whatever sect [Shi’ite, Kurd, or Sunni] ends up dominating Iraq will likely cultivate terrorist ties in its battles against the other sects. This will happen whether Iraq remains as one nation-state or splits into three separate ones and whether Iraq is led by secular “strongmen” like Saddam or religious theocrats like the Iranian mullahs.
(2) Although it’s now apparent that Saddam no longer possessed WMDs in March, 2003, there’s no reason to believe that a future Iraqi government won’t seek them. In fact, if religious Shi’ites assume power, Iran is more likely to help them seek nuclear weapons than they would have helped Saddam. Particularly if a civil war in Iraq breaks out. Again, another unintended consequence of the war.
(1) Iraq is no closer today to becoming a Western-style, constitutional republic than it was under Saddam before the war began. Yes, there have been two nationwide elections, yet we shouldn’t confuse the holding of elections as tantamount to a fully-functioning, democratic political system. Even the most despotic governments today “hold elections.” But often both the winning and losing sides turn to violence after the elections. In other words, in many parts of the world, elections are simply means-to-an-end. In these countries, if you can’t seize power through “the ballot,” you turn to “the bullet.” Iraq held elections in the 1920s, the 1950s, and the 1960s. Numerous Iraqi governments in those days were violently overthrown, with political “stability” only arriving with the rise of a “strongman” leader. And although there are numerous political parties and factions in Iraq today, almost all of them have their own private adjunct militias and armies. Even if the Shi’a regions of Iraq today, in lieu of police forces, armed gangs of Shi’ite militias maintain “order” and impose their own “due process” and “rule of law,” usually with a strong dose of sharia law. And Sunni tribes and clans fulfill this function in the Sunni Triangle. Add to this milieu an enormous dose of political corruption, and you have an Iraq today in worse shape than was Weimar Germany in the 1920s, only without the limited exposure to classical liberal ideals that the Weimar Germans possessed.
And now we must even question Bush’s own commitment to democratic ideal. Seymour Hersh reported last summer that much evidence exists that the Bush White House funneled under-the-table money to former Iraqi Governing Council president Ayad Allawi in last January’s “free” Iraqi election:
The CIA certainly furnished Bush with at least SOME intelligence before the war warning him that Iraq might NOT transform into a limited-government republic once Saddam was deposed. Yet, Bush chose to softpedal and downplay this evidence. In retrospect, it’s a reasonable assumption that Bush wanted to go down in history as the man who brought freedom and democracy to the Arab Muslim world. Those statues of Saddam that were torn down in 2003 would be replaced by those of George of Arabia. Bush was willing to spend billions of dollars and risk the lives of thousands of American troops to obtain this presidential and historical legacy. Of course, all of this has now come to naught. But the lives of those 2,100 troops cannot be resurrected. Nor can the 20,000 wounded soldiers have their lives completely restored.
Finally, let me end this long post with one last point about the Iraqi insurgency. Although MOST of the suicide bombers in Iraq today are foreign jihadists willing to martyr themselves for “Islam,” I’m convinced that a large part of the current resistance was part of Saddam and the Ba’athists’ “original game plan.” Did anyone really expect Saddam to fight the greatest military in the history of man or beast [today’s U.S. military, of course] by going head-to-head and toe-to-toe? Would a five-year-old try to slug it out with Mike Tyson? Of course not. Except for getting captured and having his sons killed [And even these events occurred only after one of Saddam’s bodyguards told the U.S. Army where Saddam was hiding and it took a $25 million reward for an Iraqi to reveal Uday and Qusay’s whereabouts], the current war is probably going the way Saddam expected. Maybe this is why he didn’t seem too concerned about an American invasion before the war.
Unfortunately, the greatest military in world history is being slowly defeated by an insurgency made up of 37 separate groups, factions that spend half their resources on sectarian violence. If these 37 groups ever unified to fight the coalition forces, it would be “game over” within a few months. In fact, American generals have conceded that there cannot be a “military victory” over the Iraqi insurgency. Only a political one. And the U.S. military has been paying money to some Sunni tribes and clans in the al Anbar province – groups not enamored of the American invasion – in order to keep these tribes from joining the insurgency.
The point here is not to impugn the character of any members of the U.S. military. Readers of this board know that at least two regular posters (Cool Hand and Patton) are great soldiers and Marines. The point is simply to note that a great military is at an enormous disadvantage fighting insurgents who don’t care about dying nor about the indiscriminate killing of civilians. It’s virtually an insurmountable hurdle. THIS is the primary reason the coalition forces are losing the war.
Of course, the U.S. military could easily flatten cities in the insurgent strongholds of Iraq. But inflicting thousands of civilian deaths isn’t the best way to win over “hearts and minds.” Consequently, it’s not a viable option.
I mention these facts as a warning against any neoconservative plans to “liberate Iran, Syria, or North Korea.” Iran is almost three times as populous as Iraq. And unlike Iraq, Iran possesses an air force and navy and has not been brought to its knees by over ten years of highly-draconian sanctions.
The current Iraq fiasco needs to serve as a cautionary tale against any future neoconservative plans to “make the world safe for freedom and democracy” in any part of the world. Just as we Remember the Alamo, we need to Remember Iraq. We owe the 2,100 dead American soldiers and 20,000 wounded ones at least that much.

Shameer Ravji said...

Funny how you lament the throwing around of labels clark and yet you're doing the same thing in your response and using the same old talking point of labelling all Republicans "neo-cons." I guess that makes all Democrats "neo-libs" or even "socialists."

Clark Patterson said...

But Shameer, most neoconservatives call themselves “neoconservatives.” I’m not sure what you mean here. Not all pro-war supporters are neoconservatives, but almost all of the rationales supporting the war are neoconservative ones, as I listed in my five rationales for the war. Today, the heart and soul of neoconservatism is foreign policy, particularly U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Many neoconservative intellectuals have written at length about Middle Eastern foreign policy. Look in any issue of The Weekly Standard.

Of course, many war supporters aren’t neoconservative, but would still agree with some – if not all – of the five rationales I listed in the original post. But, again, most of the pro-war justifications are neoconservative ones.

I oppose the war, but don’t consider myself either a “traitor” or “anti-American.” I oppose affirmative action, but don’t consider myself a racist. Yet, opponents of the Iraq War are often labeled “anti-American” and opponents of affirmative action are often labeled “racist.” In fact, I would argue that affirmative action itself is racist. And I would argue that pre-emptively invading countries half-way around the world is itself “anti-American,” particularly if it’s not done in self-defense, but instead to “spread democracy around the world.”

Again, I’m not using “neoconservative” in a pejorative sense. Neoconservatives proudly call themselves by that name. In fact, neoconservatism is a valid perspective, just not one that I accept because I believe it’s not consonant with limited government, constitutional republican government. Instead, neoconservatism is “big government” conservatism, something else that most neoconservatives themselves would concede.