Posted by: theoptimisticconservative | March 23, 2011

Libya: Can’t Get There from Here

As Day 5 of Operation Odyssey Dawn draws to a close, it’s worth taking the time to properly frame the objection raised by many, from Congress to the news media to thousands of bloggers, that President Obama has established no concrete objective for the operation.

The problem, in short, is that we are not doing anything in Libya that would resolve the situation and end the fighting.  The biggest reason why nothing we are doing will produce that outcome is that the Libyan rebels themselves are incapable of securing a resolution.

In the current circumstances, they have a simple strategic need:  take Tripoli.  Doing so would at the very least deny Qaddafi his chief military assets, setting him on the run and putting him on the defensive.

But the rebels literally have no hope of doing that.  They did not “seize” Eastern Libya through military force; they have very few resources.  They have a limited ability to defend positions in the East, but they have no offensive capability that can be effective against Qaddafi’s remaining tanks and longer-range artillery.  Qaddafi’s offensive may be stymied, but even if the coalition can break it with airpower, the rebels have zero capability to launch a decisive counteroffensive against him.

So the question whether Qaddafi is a target for the coalition is the central one in this operation. It’s not merely a nicety of the UN resolution’s wording, it’s the whole shooting match.  If the coalition doesn’t take out Qaddafi, there is no obvious method of ending the conflict inside Libya.

It is interesting at this juncture to realize that we are much more certain of Qaddafi’s intentions than we are of the coalition’s.  There has been nothing Delphic or evasive about Qaddafi’s communications.  In the US, on the other hand, both the press and the general public – even Congress – are scrambling to decode Obama’s.  In the capitals of Europe, defense ministers and national leaders are speaking at odds with each other; senior military officers have been categorical that Qaddafi is not a target, while British Prime Minister David Cameron has been point man for the leadership message that he might be.

In the midst of this disorder, Obama plans to shift command of Odyssey Dawn from the US to someone else.  That is literally the proposition:  someone else.  The important criterion is that it be someone else; Obama has been saying since Saturday that he wants to turn this thing over, but has yet to state who the next at-bat is to be.

The media are reporting that NATO is likely to take over in the command seat, which is what we would expect.  The obvious command is the Allied Joint Force Command in Naples, Italy; Fox’s Jennifer Griffin implied this morning that this command was likely to receive the call.

Naples is, of course, a different city from Stuttgart, Germany, where the commander of US Africa Command, Army General Carter Ham, has been executing Odyssey Dawn for Obama.   But Commander, Allied Joint Force Command in Naples, Italy, is Admiral Samuel Locklear, whom alert readers will recognize as the current commander of the US-led Operation Odyssey Dawn task force.

This fact serves to highlight the exceptional significance to Obama of the appearance that the US is just one of several nations in any given multilateral coalition.  The US is so embedded with NATO, and provides such a significant portion of its forces, that the average NATO operation is likely to be conducted under US leadership anyway.

Indeed, the White House’s inability to decide whom to turn the Libya operation over to may derive in part from the fact that the obvious NATO command would entail nothing more than a cosmetic shift, in the public’s eyes.  Admiral Locklear would merely move ashore to his NATO HQ in Bagnoli.  (Another political consideration is, of course, that NATO allies Germany and Turkey have maintained their distance from the Libya operation and might not concur in a plan to NATO-ize it.)

Obama has spent weeks now refraining from the “appearance” of targeting Qaddafi, attacking Qaddafi, or in any way seeming to deploy military force to drive Qaddafi out.  If the pick-up coalition eventually does decide that that’s the only sensible course, the real question will be why we didn’t just do it back in February and spare Libyan lives.  And if it doesn’t – if the coalition, under anybody-but-US leadership, decides that it must limit its mission to “protecting” the Libyan people – then, in default of some unplanned luck, we’re probably going to be here awhile.

J.E. Dyer blogs at Hot Air’s Green Room and Commentary’s “contentions.”  She writes a weekly column for Patheos.



  1. Can’t hugely disagree with this. The pity is that no similar exercise in reductive analysis was done on Iraq and Afghanistan before we blundered into those counterproductive trillion-dollar quagmires.

  2. JE, Like I said…

    Show up late to the poker game… get dealt a pathetic hand… limp in with a peanut ante…. get dirty looks from the other players at the table… fold and leave before being pantsed.

    That’s the Obummer way.

    A lesson not learned… over and over… If you set out to kill the king… you better kill the king.

    queue “Nowhere Man”…. (can you tell my wife gave me the remastered “Rubber Soul” CD?) Or maybe “A Day in the Life” – she also gave me “Sgt. Peppers…”

    Absolutely feckless, pathetic, feeble… and absolutely DANGEROUS in this tiny, violent, interconnected world.

    Sigh… TMF

    • ‘Pathetic’ I’ll agree. Ruinous, counterproductive, feckless, tragic, and lethal is Iraq and Afghanistan.

      • Paulite, what was your recommendation for a US response to the 9/11 attacks?

        • Please brace yourself… The isolationist – 9/11 Truther – anti-“neocon” rant that is likely to follow probably be a doozy…

          The delusion that this would have all gone away if we had just made nice and apologized for past offenses… well that will be the conclusion.

          Waste of time, real facts, and logic – IMHO.

          Good luck.


          • Thanks TMF. I’m braced..

          • Thanks TMF, I’m braced..

          • I would have quietly and patiently gathered the information of the organization and people involved, and then dealt with them in the same way the Israelis dealt with Eichman, or in the way the French dealt with the Algerians who bombed the metro in the 1980s.

            They actually got their bad guys. Two wars and countless deaths of innocent people, and tens of thousands of lives destroyed (and the bereaved and the survivors hating our country and everything it stands for, and many plotting harm against America and Americans) we still haven’t managed to land Osama and most of the big-wigs behind 9/11.

            If the war on terror was a business it would be insolvent. As it stands, the only people who are insolvent are the taxpayers who were shaken down to fund this military folly.

            • [As President] “I would have quietly and patiently gathered the information of the organization and people involved”

              First, as President the ‘option’ of patiently and quietly gathering information after a 9/11 was a political non-starter. In such a situation people demand action, especially when we knew within days of 9/11 who was responsible (al Qaeda claimed responsibility) and where they were hiding. (the Taliban refused to turn them over) Additionally, it was 3 months between 9/11 and the Battle of Tora Bora, just how much longer should Bush have waited and ‘waited’ for what?

              News flash…plenty of people already hated us long before 9/11. And we had already tried the patient, quiet, restrained approach before 9/11. That ‘tactic’ got us 9/11! Yet now, you claim it would have gotten different results, if we had just tried it again…sure, right.

              As for Bin Ladin, he may already be dead but he’s only a figurehead, as an organization, the fighting ability of al Qaeda has been greatly reduced. Only the naive presuppose that in response to 9/11, had we continued with our low level reprisals pre-9/11… that we would not have been attacked in a major way again.

              9/11 was a wake up call and the US faced one of two responses; surrender or fight to win. We’ve done neither or if you prefer, a bit of both and so the tragic waste of lives and treasure continues. But make no mistake, one way or another people are going to die, the only question was and is, will it be on American soil or over there?

              Military folly? Better that, than the ‘solution’ of appeasement. The simple truth is that much of Islam, prior to 9/11, was facilitating jihad upon the west.

              I know its really inconvenient to face up to but this is a fight to the finish. So the question for every American becomes, can you handle the truth? So far, it appears you can’t.

              • That’s well said Geoffrey – I was going to reply in much the same way. However, I’m glad you beat me to the punch because you said it better than I would have.

              • When someone from a particular neighbourhood commits a crime we don’t send in helicopter gunships to raise the entire neighbourhood in the hope we will get the bad guys (And too bad if a couple of dozen innocent people get snuffed). This is what we did. And we didn’t even gat the bad guys.

                The President should have gone on TV and told the American people that we will not lower ourselves to the level of the criminals, but that we would act in such manner as befits a great democracy. He should have told us that we would act in a resolute and measured manner and not lash out blindly, but that we would use all our resources to bring the perpetrators (and those who aided and abetted them) to justice.
                I believe that most Americans would have supported and respected such an approach.

                As for the rest of your nonsense: Al Quaeda (which is merely a ‘franchise’ used by any Moslem with a grievance) was never an extistential threat to the US. They did their worst to us on 9/11 and the toll (dreadful though it was) was less than the number of children who are killed in our annual toll of domestic gun-accidents.

                Activing effectively and proportionately is not “appeasement”. I’m a great believer in results. You are trying to defend a policy that has manifestly failed. We embarked on two wars which caused immense suffering and loss of human life. Neither war has improved the security of the US or Americans. Neither war helped bring the perpetrators of 9/11 to justice. Any of those who have been killed or brought to justice have been caught by action independent of either war (The sort of action I suggested).

                Our behaviour in foisting tyrants upon the Moslem world certainly caused many Mostems to despise the US long before 9/11. (But then again, the Catholic Irish, and Hindu Indians responded to the British in much the same way as the Arabs and Iranians responded to us – and for much the same reasons) I cannot understand how killing tens (perhaps hundreds) of thousands of Iraqis in a war based on a lie has helped address the atrocity of 9/11, or bring its perpetrators to justice.

                You know, if you were arguing for a strategy that was successful, you might have a point. But the thing is, you are trying to justify something which we know in hindsight has been an utter failure.

              • As for “Richie”:

                The argument of the parrott.

              • That should be “parrot”. But I’m sure he gets the idea…………

  3. Within the realm of what may be realistic, I think at this point that we should be hopeful that Qaddafi simply gets killed. Preferably by someone on the inside, but if not, then from a missile with David Cameron’s fingerprints on it (or even with an American pulling the proverbial trigger). It’s clear that Obama hasn’t got much of a plan and a likely result is mission creep (or worse) if Qaddafi stays in power.

    Once the US President said that the Qaddafi “must go,” that crossed a line from which there is no honorable retreat. If Qaddafi stays and the US then pulls out of the Libyan venture for whatever reason, we will have achieved another level of fecklessness and will suffer the resulting lack of respect that follows such fecklessness. A bad indicator to both our allies and, especially, our enemies. Once Qaddafi is dead though, I think Obama can plausibly claim that we’ve accomplished the mission and pack up and go. That leaves questions of course about what follows in Libya, but since Obama obviously hasn’t the will to stick around there, I think this would at least permit us to leave Libya without dishonor for America.

    I personally would like to see an American pull the trigger that kills Qadaffi. He deserves it for Lockerbie and more. More importantly perhaps, it would be a shocking wake up call to other murderous dictators that if you feel it’s ok to gun down your people (and/or kill Americans), the US feels it’s ok to gun you down.

  4. What NATO country did Khadaffi or Libya attack or credibly threaten recently? Does the NATO charter obligate its members to participate in humanitarian missions?

    Khadaffi should be long dead by now for Lockerbie. At that time he and the world should have been informed in plain terms that we would attack him anyplace and anytime we possessed good intelligence by whatever means were most expeditious, and that keeping distance from him would be wise.

    But none of that justifies action in Libya now. Hopefully we won’t get dragged into a nation building excursion, although that’s the way I see this going, perhaps by way of an oil for food money pot for the international ‘look at me doing good while I’m doing quite well’ contingent.

  5. Stop asking relevant questions the answers to which will determine the outcome of this embarrassing mess, OC. Dear Leader is even less able than he is inclined to provide them.

    I regret having to congratulate you on your excellent post at Contentions re: The Leader’s community organizing approach and sensibility to this whole CiC thing.

  6. Do you suppose that it’s possible that the disaffected Libyan military officers leading the rebel forces were hoping for an international response in their favor when they went into this brouhaha? Was US intelligence completely in the dark on this until it happened? Doesn’t seem logical to me that guys with braid would start an operation without exploring the possible scenarios. As for killing Ghaddafi himself, he’s got offspring and subalterns that are pulling at the bit to take over from the increasingly decrepit teacher leader. And what’s with this not targeting nasty heads of state all about anyway? It’s some how legitimate to incinerate some hapless ground pounder but against international law to blow up the gangster giving the orders? I ain’t buying that.

    • It’s hard for the high and mighty to personally pull the trigger on a fellow they had drinks and a bunch of yuks with at the U.N. or the last conference in Davos. A lot easier to order their peasants to kill his peasants.

      Virtually every war should feature decapitation strikes as a high priority. Exact same thing as having snipers shoot first at officers when there are multiple targets.

  7. Paulite, your argument is such drivel that I hardly know where to start. I suppose we’ll begin with your claim that the Iraq War was predicated on a lie. I’ve seen you say that a couple of times. I give your opinions a massive discount because of that. It’s akin to someone saying that 9/11 was an inside job. Once someone says that, their opinions automatically deserve the brush off.

    “When someone from a particular neighbourhood commits a crime we don’t send in helicopter gunships to raise the entire neighbourhood in the hope we will get the bad guys (And too bad if a couple of dozen innocent people get snuffed). This is what we did. And we didn’t even gat the bad guys.”

    This is a viewpoint that a Leftist would embrace. 9/11 was “a crime.” That’s monumentally absurd. 9/11 was an act of war. Just as you don’t send in the helicopter gunships when a rapist is terrorizing a neighborhood, you don’t send in the police when someone has committed an act of war upon you. When someone commits an act of war against you, you must respond accordingly. The President can’t say that we’re “above it” and then send in the special forces to quietly try to get those that were responsible. It would rightly be seen as appeasement by the very people who perpetrated and supported the act. Besides, it was a political impossibility for GWB not to respond with overwhelming force. As for your contention that most Americans would have supported the “measured” and quiet response – 0% chance.

    “Al Quaeda (which is merely a ‘franchise’ used by any Moslem with a grievance) was never an existential threat to the US. They did their worst to us on 9/11 and the toll (dreadful though it was) was less than the number of children who are killed in our annual toll of domestic gun-accidents.”

    They were “never an existential threat” to the US before 9/11? Doesn’t the fact that they perpetrated 9/11 *prove* that they were an existential threat before 9/11? They certainly are an existential threat now. As as for the number of people killed in 9/11 being less than children killed by gun accidents, so what? What a pointless non-sequitur. That’s an irrelevant parallel.

    As for your lament that *we* killed tens or hundreds of thousands in Iraq, have you ever counted how many people Saddam killed? It’s around 30,000-40,000 per year on average. Not only did *we* kill fewer people than Saddam during the actual war years, but his killing has now stopped. Same goes for his sons who would have followed him, and who knows how many tyrants after them. We *saved* countless lives by going into Iraq. If you don’t acknowledge that fact, you are being dishonest. And how about the fact that the Taliban has been much diminished and Iraq has a democracy? That’s 50 million people that are out from under the thumb of brutal leaders. Not to mention that neither Afghanistan nor Iraq are any longer state sponsors of terrorism. That’s not a bad record for wars that “which we know in hindsight has been an utter failure.”

    “Neither war has improved the security of the US or Americans.” Really? How do you know? What’s that comment based on? Or is it just another mindless talking point? Do you remember how many Americans thought we would be hit with another massive terrorist attack in the months or couple of years after 9/11? The percentage was very high. However, we’ve managed to stave such attacks off. Perhaps that’s in part because we killed or captured thousands of terrorists in those two wars?

    You Ron Paulites should stick to domestic fiscal/monetary issues and avoid anything that has to do with foreign policy. You’re out of your element.

    • You spent a lot of effort tying yourself in knots.

      We sure did go into Iraq on a lie. The pretext was the non-existent WMDs. When the intellegence community threw doubt on this claim, the response of Cheney and co was to disparage the intellegence community. They also invented a back-up excuse: that Saddam was involved in 9/11. The Weekly Standard published “irrefutable” evidence, week after week, purporting to show that Saddam had his fingerprints on 9/11. Of course, it was all concocted. Not even the WS claims anymore that Saddam had anything to do with 9/11.

      I’m not a leftist. I am a fiscal and foreign-policy classical liberal. I am a sceptic of government spending and intervention at home and abroad. You are a military and foreign policy socialist.

      An “act of war” is where one state perpetrates a hostile act against another state. 9/11 was a crime, and its perpetrators, and those who aided and abetted them, were criminals.

      I completely disagree with you that President Bush would have received 0% support for a targeted and measured response to 9/11. Certainly, 0% of your extreme rightwing pals would have been satisfied with such a response, but you must remember that they are a tiny un-American minority that sees war and killing as a healthy response to almost every situation.

      To consider Al Quaeda or Islam generally as an existential threat is to have lost the plot entirely. 100 9/11s wouldn’t have threatened the existence of the US or it’s institutions. An existential threat is something like the USSR posed during the cold war. We are talking about a few rag-tag groups of third-world losers here.

      Saddam was a very bad guy. So was the Shah. So was Battista. So is the unpleasant guy who runs Uzbekistan (whom we support in spite of his fondness for torturing journalists and opponents). We hanged Saddam specifically for gassing a Kurdish town. He did this in the 1980s when he was OUR bad guy. The Reagan State Dept. well knew what Saddam was doing. The liasion between State and the Saddam Regime was (wait for it….) Donald Rumsfeld. There is no evidence that in the years between his war of agression on Iran (in which he had US support) and his demise that he perpetrated any massacres, or that he was anything worse than any other of the many minor tyrants we were supporting at the time.

      There isn’t one whit of evidence that killing thousands of Iraqis has improved the security of Americans or the US. It is logical to suppose that a goodly number of the bereaved will have anything but warm and fuzzy feelings towards us.

      I’ll say it again. Attacking Iraq and Afghanistan was an utter failure. But why would we have supposed that attacking these countries and killing tens of thousands of people was a just or effective means of addressing an atrocity committed by a group of (mainly) Saudis belonging to a non-governmental gang.

      • “We sure did go into Iraq on a lie. The pretext was the non-existent WMDs. When the intelligence community threw doubt on this claim, the response of Cheney and co was to disparage the intelligence community. They also invented a back-up excuse: that Saddam was involved in 9/11. The Weekly Standard published “irrefutable” evidence, week after week, purporting to show that Saddam had his fingerprints on 9/11. Of course, it was all concocted. Not even the WS claims anymore that Saddam had anything to do with 9/11.”

        You’re getting close to conspiracy theory territory here. Any evidence of this Paulite? I highly doubt you’ll find any. I read the WS and recall not a single article saying that Saddam was involved in 9/11. And not only did Cheney *not* make that claim, he specifically said that there was NO evidence that Saddam had anything to do with 9/11. He said there may be links between Saddam/al-Qaeda, but never said that Saddam had and direct relation to 9/11.

        And what is your definition of the word “lie?” That the Bush/Cheney axis knew there weren’t any WMD, but concocted the story out of thin air to garner the political support for a war? Or is your bar for “lie” so high that when every govt on earth, the UN and the head of the CIA said the Saddam had WMD, but when that info happened to be incorrect – Bush therefore “lied” about it? Curious your response here.

        “I completely disagree with you that President Bush would have received 0% support for a targeted and measured response to 9/11.”

        I said no such thing. Read again – I said that there was a 0% chance that most Americans would have supported the “measured” response that you wished. I’m sure a small minority of the population would have. Most would not.

        I could go on, but I will end here.

        • Ritchie, it’s not conspiracy theory territory. Cheney and his guys were told by the CIA that they were peddling improbable information and Cheney leaned on them until the CIA submitted a different assessment saying that the info was NOT bogus.


            follow it the WaPo and other places for confirmation, if you like.

          • How many times does it have to be repeated that virtually every politician on both sides of the aisle believed that Saddam was working on WMD in any way he could? How many times does it have to be repeated that the CIA had been so grossly incompetent re 9/11 that to take its on the one hand versus on the other hand as fact would have been ridiculous against the clear fact that Saddam refused real inspections that he was required to permit as a result of the first gulf war armistice?

            How long was the no fly zone in Northern Iraq to go on? How long was the oil for food money scam to go on? How many former presidents was Saddam to be permitted to attempt to assassinate?

            Our only mistake in Iraq, and Afghanistan was buying into Colin Powell’s stupid stricture that if you break it you own it. The purpose of a military is to break things, not to fix things. Iraq should have been pursued until the day Saddam was captured and turned over to a mob of either Shites or Kurds. Afghanistan should have been pursued until the government was well broken and gone from the country. The populace of both countries should then have been given our best wishes in forming new governments and informed that if the same sort of doings went on again we would be back, hitting twice as hard.

            • Sully,

              It would have been nice… but the reason why we are in Afghanistan and Iraq, probably for several generations if we last that long as a nation, is purely strategic. The Democracy/Freedom thing is nice window dressing and a good thing if we can do it… but it isn’t the reason.

              I will spell it for you: IRAN

              If you look at a map, you will notice that IF you are going to invade Iran, there are some daunting obstacles to overcome. The mountain and high desert of central Iran. Troop movements through the area are almost impossible. The mountains are rugged and difficult, the climate arid and often frigidly cold. Even Iranians avoid it.

              So there are two land approaches to Iran, One which passes across the south east corner of Iraq/Kuwait, and the northern approach into the plain that contains Tehran, also in Iraq.

              Across the northeast mountains controlling and being able to use the mountain passes from Afghanistan allows strategic airspace control, and keeps the “evaporation” movement to a minimum. The pressure would be critical in a land offensive.

              Please… understand this to your bones. There WILL be a necessary invasion of Iran within the next generation. There is absolutely no avoiding it. Once those monsters have a reliable source of nuclear weapons, the world become a far too dangerous place to avoid the need to take on that odious task. There will be no choice.

              So… we stay in Iraq, and stay in Afghanistan because we must maintain the pressure on Iran and its death cult. All of the feeble wishing of the isolationists.. The blame game, the false accusations, the delusions and conspiracy theories will melt at whatever ground zero triggers the war.

              Mankind is returning to the 10th century of multigenerational warfare conducted by fathers, sons, and grandsons, only instead of swords, pikes, bows, and slings we have laser-guided bombs, smart bullets, and nukes.

              So, we are in those uncomfortable places, doing things we would rather not be doing, because if we don’t we will suffer blows that we most probably will not survive.

              The world is a messy difficult place and there are no real rules. We operate as best we can with the information that we have at hand and our best judgments. We, however, must act. We might be facing an enemy with a 10th century ethos; however he has 21st century technology.

              There are no good choices anymore. We either chose suicide, or warfare. Peace, is a dream mankind has in spare moments between the fighting.

              – TMF

              • On the other hand, Fahvaag, in and out coldly, cleanly and efficiently with the leaders not to our liking dead and/or in self imposed exile, would have sent a clear signal to Iran’s leaders and people that regime change and great pain for the leadership and to some extent the people were both cheap and easy for us.

                Our behavior over the past 8 years has sent a very different message both to Iran and to our own citizens, namely that if we invade much larger and more populous Iran we will feel obligated to spend years and some multiple of what it cost us in Iraq and Afghanistan to fix the place.

                I believe that as a result we will never invade Iran but rather tolerate them acquiring nukes if we can’t stop them with air strikes, and I even wonder if our citizens would support air strikes at this point of disgust with turning wars into, in effect, a form of interminable foreign aid to people who hate us in proportion to how long we try to help them.

            • sully, I kinda have the idea that you don’t break it just to have it re-form back into what it was or turn into something worse than what you broke.

              thought we learned that lesson in the first half of the last century.

              • You’re referring, I presume, to the instance in which a certain first world war aggressor nation was broken only to the point of defeat of its army and then adopted a new system of government far more democratic than any we are ever likely to install in Iraq or Afghanistan. Is it your position that said installation of democratic government ended up leading to an optimal result eighteen or so years later? Do you believe that aggressor nation should have been occupied and given remedial education in how to form an even better democratic government?

                I would think it would have been a lot cheaper and easier, as well as a much better defense against aggression, to simply pound the hell out of the agressor nation at the first violation of the Versailles Treaty.

  8. “Al Quaeda (which is merely a ‘franchise’ used by any Moslem with a grievance) was never an existential threat to the US. They did their worst to us on 9/11 and the toll (dreadful though it was) was less than the number of children who are killed in our annual toll of domestic gun-accidents.”

    To get to that number, Paulite would have to include adults with the children, and intentional killings with the accidents. In other words, he is counting the 19 year old gang-banger who drew down on a cop and got shot.

    And somebody critized Dick Cheney for misrepresenting data.

  9. fuster, no sale. You’re shifting the goal posts. I don’t buy that stuff about Cheney pressuring analysts to find false WMD info, but that’s besides the point here. All that allegedly occurred well after we had already invaded and the media was chirping about how no WMDs had been found yet. Paulite said that we WENT INTO Iraq based on a lie. That’s a vastly different accusation. And so far he’s not responding to my question.

    • RE, that was before the invasion and was part of the effort to sell the world the idea that Saddam had an active program to produce a nuke that he might use or hand to terrorists to use.

      it was the lie that led to “We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.”

      • That doesn’t change anything fuster. You could barely find a human on this planet that thought Saddam didn’t have WMD before the invasion.

        • Yet again:

          Our intelligence didn’t. Neither did British intelligence. Neither did the UN weapons inspectors.

          And neither did the French and the other members of the Security Council who opposed the attack on Iraq. The latter did so because the weapons inspectors, led by a hard-headed Australian under the direction of an equally hard-headed Swede, after seven months of looking, had not found any evidence whatsoever of active WMD programmes. We then had the Cheney initiated episode of the non-existent uranium ore from Chad, and the unedifying episode where Powell went into the UN to announce that he had intelligence that the Iraqis were producing WMD in covered trailers (Which unknown to the unsuspecting Powell, had already been debunked by both US and British intelligence). Of course, the UN inspectors, the intelligence services, the French etc. were proven to have been right. After that, Cheney & Co, aided by the Weekly Standard and the National Review tried to claim that Saddam was implicated in 9/11. Cheney was proved to be duplicitous and plain wrong on every count. (He might be a nasty piece of work, but he sure is consistent!)

          Its a joy to be arguing on the side of proven recorded fact.

          • “Our intelligence didn’t.”

            So even though the Director of the CIA tells the President that it was “A slam dunk” that Saddam had WMD, that’s an indicator that our intelligence didn’t think there were any WMD?

            “Its a joy to be arguing on the side of proven recorded fact.”

            I’m sure. It’s also a joy seeing somone twist themselves into a pretzel by citing debunked “facts” and relying on bizzaro logic to find some convoluted way to make their conclusions fit into their pre-determined biases.

        • RE, try not bundling chemical, bio and nukes together. Everybody thought that there were chem weapons. Some thought there might be bio-weapons.
          Cheney and Co was peddling a nuke program that he was told wasn’t active.

          • Sorry Fuster,

            The weapons inspectors didn’t believe there were chemical or bio-weapons. Neither did US or British intelligence. No one EVER believed there were nukes.

            • Pauly, the Kurds believed that there were chemical weapons. Really.

  10. Chemical weapons are WMD. Chemweps are the WMD Saddam used on his own people, and on Iranians in the 1980s. They’d make one heck of a mass homicidal statement deployed against Americans by a terrorist cell. They were the main thing US forces were concerned about as we prepared for the invasion.

    The Duelfer report found there was an active bioweps program reflected in Saddam’s state documents. It also found evidence of continuing purchases for the nuke program — of items prohibited by UN sanctions — and of links between Saddam’s intelligence apparatus and Sunni terrorists, including but not limited to Al Qaeda.

    The central question has always been how far in advance we “ought” to preempt a threat. While the bad guy still only has the chemweps component of WMD fully functional? That’s when we preempted Saddam.

    If Cheney was told the nuke program wasn’t active, he was lied to. CIA analysts who may have done that will have to come up with their own explanations. The sum total of evidence — of which the public has only a very skewed and limited view — indicated that Saddam was still assembling components to develop nuclear weapons. What we found in Iraq afterward confirmed that.

    Colin Powell’s UN speech drew a picture of a nuclear program much closer to fruition than anyone I knew thought to be accurate. It also emphasized the wrong aspect of the immediate threat, which was less that Saddam would have a fully weaponized “military” nuke than that he could provide chemical or bio toxins to a terrorist group.

    If we saw the same evidence about any other nation that we had about Saddam prior to March 2003, we would assess that that nation had WMD programs, including functional chemical weapons.

    People who were opposed to the invasion in 2003 have chosen to accept the demagogic points of others who were opposed to it, building a narrative that our sole purpose for the invasion was Saddam’s WMD (it wasn’t), and that it was all a big lie because we didn’t find “WMD” in Iraq (a false proposition). By the definition these folks use, we didn’t find “WMD” in Germany after WWII either, and Hitler’s nuke program was inactive — since, manifestly, he hadn’t succeeded in developing a nuke by May 1945 and all he had when Allied troops got into Germany was chemical weapons.

    • Thankfully, we don’t need to depend on your speculations in relation to these matters. The British, who have a more robust attitude to shining a light into the murky crevices of government, have done us some service in this regard. We have had the Hutton and Chilcot inquiries, and the British press has shown some courage in digging and probing, and speaking truth to power. (In stark contrast to our own hand-wringing and obsequious media)

      The ISG report (Duelfer) didn’t find any evidence whatsoever of any active recent WMG activity. Nor did it find any WMD. The conclusions of the ISG corroborated what the intelligence services had been saying to the British and US governments. When the ISG findings weren’t to the liking of Cheney & Co, they tried to undermine it. Inspector Kay resigned. George Tenet, who replaced him, also concluded, several months later, that there was “zero chance of finding WMD in Iraq”. Fact.

      There has never ever been any evidence produced by anyone, documentary or otherwise, that Saddam or his intelligence services had contacts with Al Quaeda. Fact.

      To repeat. When we invaded Iraq there was no WMD programme, WMD “components”, or WMD to “preempt”. We now know that this was a “known known”. Fact.

      In spite of Cheney and Co’s attempts to obfuscate and interfere with the evidence, the public now has a very clear and complete view thanks to the various inquiries, and the Palme scandal. There was no nuclear programme of any sort whatsoever, and there were no nuclear components found before, afterwards, or, at all. Fact.

      There was no evidence ever found by anyone that Saddam had contacts with terrorist groups; was at risk of providing them with chemical of biological weapons or materials, or even had such things to give them. Fact.

      I would presume that if our intelligence services had the same information about any other nation that they had about Iraq they would have similarily informed the administration that the country concerned had no WMD programmes and no WMDs. Logic. Fact.

      When all else fails, call anyone who disagrees with you or discredits you a “demagog” or describe them is some other such derogatory manner. Your analogy with WWII is particularly ridiculous. We didn’t go to war with Hitler because of WMDs. However, the “Alsos” group established in early 1945 that the Germans were not remotely close to producing a nuclear device and were incapable of producing one with the resources to hand. The Roosevelt and Truman administrations accepted the conclusions of their intelligence services. They did not attempt to interfere with those conclusions, nor did they try to discredit Boris Pash and his group. Fact.

  11. Repeat after me class until it sinks in:

    Clinton war good. Bush war bad. Obama war good.
    Clinton war good. Bush war bad. Obama war good.
    Clinton war good. Bush war bad. Obama war good.
    Clinton war good. Bush war bad. Obama war good. . .

    • Chinton war bad.
      Bush war bad.
      Obama war bad.

      Clinton war bad.
      Bush war………………………..

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