Thursday, May 05, 2005

Double Plus Ungood: Why They Fought 

I was blog hopping again, and happened upon a liberal blog, Double Plus Ungood. The first thing that surprised me was the reference in the title. Notice to Mr. "Double Plus Ungood" and his lefty pals: Hands off, Orwell is ours! It's unbelievable. I'm starting to think that everyone in the world now appreciates Orwell's genius because he recognized the menace of precisely those groups with whom they disagree. [edit: Orwell's socialism isn't what I'm talking about here, see comments]

Anyway, it's not so unusual to find a liberal blog, heck, you can scarcely take a step in the blogosphere without tripping over one of the darned things. But as lefty blogs go, it wasn't too odious, and seemed to take fairly principled liberal stances in many of its posts -- I know, I know, it's the principled ones you have to worry about.

But then I hit the ubiquitous "Bush lied and should be fried" post, in which he proves Bush went to war over WMD, and that it was all a lie:

Here are the pertinent excerpts [AbbaGav: of Bush speeches]:

  • If Saddam Hussein does not fully disarm for the safety of our people, and for the peace of the world, we will lead a coalition to disarm him….

  • We hope that the Iraqi regime will meet the demands of the United Nations and disarm, fully and peacefully. If it does not, we are prepared to disarm Iraq by force. Either way, this danger will be removed.

  • Saddam Hussein was required to fully cooperate in the disarmament of his regime; he has not done so. Saddam Hussein was given a final chance; he is throwing that chance away.

  • But one thing is certain, for the sake of peace and for the sake of security, the United States and our friends and allies, we will disarm Saddam Hussein if he will not disarm himself.

  • And, as a last resort, we must be willing to use military force. We are doing everything we can to avoid war in Iraq. But if Saddam Hussein does not disarm peacefully, he will be disarmed by force.

  • There is little reason to hope that Saddam Hussein will disarm. If force is required to disarm him, the American people can know that our armed forces have been given every tool and every resource to achieve victory.

  • That resolution was passed unanimously and its logic is inescapable; the Iraqi regime will disarm itself, or the Iraqi regime will be disarmed by force.

  • In recent days, some governments in the Middle East have been doing their part. They have delivered public and private messages urging the dictator to leave Iraq, so that disarmament can proceed peacefully. He has thus far refused. All the decades of deceit and cruelty have now reached an end. Saddam Hussein and his sons must leave Iraq within 48 hours. Their refusal to do so will result in military conflict, commenced at a time of our choosing.
As Mr. Ungood is aware, this argument is not unfamiliar to those of us who fell for Bush's pack of lies. And it is wrong.

"Disarm" in the Iraqi, post-Gulf War context, didn't just mean "not possess an assembled nuclear weapon with the red LED counting down". No, according to UN resolution, and the terms of the ceasefire he himself negotiated, Saddam was obligated to disarm, and to prove it. That included giving inspectors unfettered access to suspected sites, which he did not do. It included producing records of weapons disposals, which he did not do. It included scrapping not just the weapons themselves, but the illicit programs which could produce them the moment Saddam was convinced the world's attention had moved on.

No doubt, there were intelligence failures, but they belonged not just to the Bush administration. President Clinton was tricked into believing that Iraq was a weapons threat, just not enough to do any more than launch a cruise missile, chew his lower lip, and kick the can down the road. Even French intelligence was fooled:

In contrast, according to Blix, President Chirac had a healthy scepticism about intelligence. Although the French intelligence services were convinced WMD remained in Iraq, Chirac recognised that the intelligence services "sometimes intoxicate each other". His thinking "seemed to be dominated by the conviction that Iraq did not pose a threat that justified armed intervention."
So the French were not in disagreement with Bush's assessment that Iraq had the goods. Chirac just realized that Iraqi WMD weren't an immediate threat to his country, not after the billions of reasons he'd given Saddam to look elsewhere for any botulism toxin field experiments he might want to try.

With or without WMD, Saddam was not in compliance with the UN and his own international agreements.

By the way, anyone who searched harder than a kid looking for his homework assignment would find Bush quotes stressing democracy and freedom:

Some worry that a change of leadership in Iraq could create instability and make the situation worse. The situation could hardly get worse, for world security and for the people of Iraq. The lives of Iraqi citizens would improve dramatically if Saddam Hussein were no longer in power, just as the lives of Afghanistan's citizens improved after the Taliban. The dictator of Iraq is a student of Stalin, using murder as a tool of terror and control, within his own cabinet, within his own army, and even within his own family.

On Saddam Hussein's orders, opponents have been decapitated, wives and mothers of political opponents have been systematically raped as a method of intimidation, and political prisoners have been forced to watch their own children being tortured.

America believes that all people are entitled to hope and human rights, to the non-negotiable demands of human dignity. People everywhere prefer freedom to slavery; prosperity to squalor; self-government to the rule of terror and torture. America is a friend to the people of Iraq. Our demands are directed only at the regime that enslaves them and threatens us. When these demands are met, the first and greatest benefit will come to Iraqi men, women and children. The oppression of Kurds, Assyrians, Turkomans, Shi'a, Sunnis and others will be lifted. The long captivity of Iraq will end, and an era of new hope will begin.
This is just the first result found with a simple google search.

Of course WMD was emphasised, but was not the sole justification as is repeatedly claimed, and that is a key difference.

Double-Plus-Ungood was kind enough to respond to my comment in his original post, raising some very good points (not good enough to overcome my responses of course, but still pretty good). In his own words:

I think the two things that I would like to say in response is that while it's possible to find mention of democracy et al in Bush's speeches, you won't find implementation of democracy to be a condition that would prevent invasion. If Hussein did have WMDs, and he had turned them over prior to invasion, then it's likely that he would still be in power today.

And was Hussein not being compliant regarding inspections? I seem to recall that the UN inspectors had to leave their job undone when the invasion started, which would indicate that they were inspecting, albeit the Iraqi government not being too helpful. At the time, I thought that the credible threat of invasion was doing a good job of forcing them to comply with inspections, right up to the point that the UN inspectors were pulled out. Hans Blix had a few things to say at the time along the lines of "They're co-operating now, let us finish our job."
Double-Plus-Ungood's test defining the war's justifications as being those things which could have prevented it is really helpful. Either this test is common knowledge in parts of the blogosphere that I've just missed, or he's come up with it on his own, but either way I'd like to see all of the "Bush lied" arguments include it.

So, did Bush say implementing democracy would have stopped the invasion?

No, he did not. In fact, he gave an even easier condition, announcing he would stop the invasion if just the first step were taken. The very last of the listed Bush quotes is the statement that if Hussein and Sons went out of business, the invasion wouldn't be necessary. Certainly, if President Bush had said that he would stop the invasion only if Hussein actually implemented democracy, he would have needed to wait about 72 years before he could justify invading. There was no way democracy would suddenly erupt in a Baathist torture state under the leadership of its 99.94% democratically elected leader. The only sign democracy could come would be Hussein's departure. This did not happen.

I don't doubt Bush-bashers see this one differently, probably as just a simplistic gun-slinger's ultimatum to git outta town, and git out quick.

I agree inspections were ongoing, but according to the terms of cease fire, it was not the UN's job to enter Iraq and somehow ferret out the needle in the haystack, all while Hussein cordons off parts of the haystack as uncheckable, and constantly moves the haystack around. Saddam's obligation was to present the evidence for evaluation. The haystack inspection, while a nice show, and entertaining for Saddam I'm sure, was a farce in terms of truly checking for WMD. It's continuation would have been to UN authority what telling your kids to get in the bathtub for the 85th time does to parental authority--at times as a parent, you have to stop and put the kids in the tub.

Kudos to Double-Plus-Ungood for a great post and followup.
Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

If you really, really liked this -- or even really, really hated it -- there's lots more: