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Like Dogs To Their Vomit

Anti-war folks keep coming back to their false myths.

Posted by Rand Simberg at May 23, 2006 08:00 AM
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Ok, so we're ignoring now the "Office of Special Plans", set up by Rumsfeld and Feith, which bypassed the intelligence agencies and produced some of the flimsy evidence (particularly conman, Chalabi) for WMDs in Iraq? My take is that the US needed a pretext for war that would be viable in the UN. WMD development was one of the few issues that would. Then the OSP filtered intelligence to reach that view. Recall that complaints about the OSP started soon after the organization formed, that the worst intelligence failures were assisted by this organization, it was headed by ideologues, and the organization was created right around the time the US decided to support UN efforts to send WMD inspectors in.

My take is that the US efforts were directed at the International community rather than internally. So claiming that "Bush misled Americans to convince them to go to war" may be technically incorrect.

My take is that they thought that it'd be easy to locate WMD programs after the fact and then they could gloss over the intelligence flaws then. That Saddam Hussein chose to temporarily completely abandon his WMD programs (as part of his push to prevent the invasion and remove UN sanctions) must have caught them by surprise.

Now maybe the US intelligence community would have come to the same conclusions anyway. But we wouldn't have Powell's speech to the UN turn out so poorly. The administration never has apologized for the crazy claims made in that speech.

The last two points, that Saddam Hussein wasn't a threat and that promoting democracy in the Middle East was a postwar rationalization are definitely myths. The first is rather obvious IMHO. The second was long part of the plans for the various participants. Eg, the infamous white paper from the Project for a New American Century people that advocated overthrowing the countries in the Middle East did recommend replacing them with democracies.

Why chosing to overthrow those particular countries and not other disfunctional states is probably due to ideological or strategic reasons completely unrelated to democracy (I think weakening OPEC or reducing the threat to Israel probably are common). But it was relatively clear that any state overthrown would ideally be replaced by a democracy.

Posted by Karl Hallowell at May 23, 2006 09:47 AM

I guess the "UN lied, people died" meme just doesn't resonate. The fact is that for years prior to the Iraq invasion, UN officials were making millions (US $) off the UN/Iraq Oil-for-Food Program. They were making that money by talking well of Saddam to keep him in power, and they could extort that money by also insisting that Iraq had WMD. If either situation changed, the UN officials lost their gravy train.

I agree with the above that the US WMD strategy was a play to the UN and international crowd (It certainly wasn't an issue to me). Maybe Bush should have used the strategy of exposing the UN scandal for what it was. Current events suggests that would have been a non-starter. Today we have plenty of facts proving the corruption that was going on in the UN, yet it still doesn't get the exposure it deserves.

Posted by Leland at May 23, 2006 11:47 AM

Citing Karl Rove's Deputy as the definitive opinion on the
selling of the Iraq War, is a poor idea. The administration
was bound and determined from Day One to invade Iraq.
WMD happened to be a convenient story. Perhaps the
best example of the hyping of WMD was the Powell Speech
to the UN. Mobile Bio-Labs, Anodized aluminum tubes
to enrich uranium, UAV's were all way over-hyped.
Powell regards his support of the war as a huge mistake.

Posted by anonymous at May 25, 2006 09:23 AM

"Anonymous" is completely correct. Wehner conveniently "forgets" to mention the fact that both both Robb-Siberman Commission and the Senate Intelligence Committee said explcitily that they were not MANDATED to look for distortions of incoming intelligence by the White House -- only for erroneous intelligence itself. (Quoting the latter: "[W]e were not authorized to investigate how policymakers used the intelligence assessments they received from the Intelligence Community. Accordingly, while we interviewed a host of current and former policymakers during the course of our investigation, the purpose of those interviews was to learn about how the Intelligence Community reached and communicated its judgments about Iraq's weapons programs--not to review how policymakers subsequently used that information." )

But then, that's what the whole last year of loud infighting on the Intelligence Committee has been about -- remember, Rand? Chairman Roberts (who is notorious for being Cheney's right-hand man in the Senate) solemmnly promised the Democrats on the Committee that he would do a companion study of that second item AFTER the 2004 election, and then immediately reneged on it -- thus enraging Harry Reid into finally closing down the Senate with that clever parliamentary maneuver to force Roberts to follow through on his promise. Now Roberts is trying to split that study, in turn, into two parts, with the part more likely to rebound gainst the White House coming only AFTER the 2006 election. It's like Lucy and the football.

As for the Intelligence Committee's solemn statement that the CIA fed false pro-war information to the peace-loving Bush Administration: please. As Karl Hollowell points out, the Cheney-Rumsfeld-neocon group who effectively ran White House policy toward Iraq set up the Office of Special Plans to carefully filter incoming intelligence so that only the most pro-war intelligence reached Bush's ears, precisely because they were simultanously fond of publicly and furiously denouncing the CIA's supposed dangerously peacenik and antiwar tendencies. (Laurie Mylroie, one of the group's most prominent members, published an entire book angrily attacking the CIA on those grounds -- which, with spectacular bad timing, was published just when it was becoming clear that Saddam had no WMDs at all, let alone any nuclear weapons program.)

Wehner also conveniently "forgets" to mention that most of the evidence that the threat had been seriously overestimated came in BETWEEN the publication of the NIE in October 2002 and the start of the war the following March ( ). This culminated in the fact that the UN inspectors had already virtually disproven the existence of any significant Iraqi Bomb program -- and given a bit more time, would probably have succeeded in confirming that Saddam had no CBWs either (although the latter are tremendously less dangerous and important in any case) -- at the time Bush decided to invade. And, as we now know from that just-leaked Downing Street memo (whose authenticity Blair doesn't deny), Bush was so desperate for a war rationale at that point that he was openly proposing to Blair ways to TRUMP UP a case for war. ( ) Kevin Drum has done a very good job of summarizing the evidence for this -- besides the entries above, see

Why did they do it? Because of their idiotic overconfidence that the occupation and reformation of Iraq would be (in Ken Adelman's infamous phrase) "a cakewalk", and that they could then use a stable, pro-American Iraq as a staging ground for similar quick-'n-easy invasions and reforms of Iran and Syria. (Remember the Neocons' common slogan at that time? "Men go to Baghdad. REAL men go to Teheran and Damascus.") They figured that, after those dazzling successes, nobody would question the lies they used to get us into the war in the first place. So -- just as they stupdily made no contingency plans at all for the possibility that things might not go as smoothly as they hoped -- they deliberately and seriously overstated the evidence for Saddam's nuclear program. They did this to a much lesser degree where his CBWs were concerned (although they did it a bit even there, as with the Curious Affair of the Fake Germ Warfare Trailers) -- but those, as I've said, were tremendously less important. And the Administration itself said repeatedly publicly before the war that imposing democracy in Iraq was not in itself an adequate case for invasion. And Charles Duelfer's Iraq Survey Group (which Wehner quotes -- how shall I put this? -- very selectively) said explicitly that it was obvious that the sanctions were continuing to keep a successful lid on Saddam's WMD (something which, as I say, the UN inspections would soon have made clear clear to everyone): . Dishonesty motivated by stupid overconfidence, followed by frantic attempts to cover it up -- it's the oldest political story of them all.

The result is that our military is now stuck in Iraq at precisely the time when we are very likely to need it to deal with REAL nuclear threats -- not only to try to stop Iran's very real bomb program, but to deal with any sudden crises produced by the fact that North Korea and Pakistan already have it. The odds are that we would indeed have had to deal with Saddam at some point -- as our third or fourth priority, NOT as anywhere near our first one.

But don't take my word for it. Take a look at the new piece by Paul Pillar, the National Intelligence Officer the Near East between 2000 and 2005 ) on the deliberate and massive distortions of intelligence by Cheney's group. For that matter, take a look at the handwritten notes of Rumsfeld's chief aide Sephen Cambone at the meeting Rumsfeld held a few hours after the attacks ( ): "Judge whether to hit S.H. at same time...Hard to get a good case...Sweep it all up. Things related AND NOT." (Cambone underlined those last two words, presumably because Rummy himself emphasized them.)

In short, as "Anonymous" says, it's a wee bit unwise to trust Karl Rove's deputy as an honest source on the origins of the Iraq war. Indeed, even given Simberg's seriously erratic past record, I would have hoped that he had enough sense not to.

Posted by Bruce Moomaw at May 26, 2006 11:30 PM

Its kind of like those antwar wackos saying WAR NEVER SOLVED ANYTHING thats only becuase the jerks ever heard of THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION or WW II becuase thhier too busy making rediclous movies pretending to be someone their not

Posted by condor at May 27, 2006 10:03 AM

It is amusing that Rand uses the phrase Vomit.

One could as easily say "Like a dog to it's own vomit, the
Neocon's once again claim the War in Iraq was a good Idea".

Whatever the justification, the Vietnam war was a bad idea.
Whatever the lack of justification WW2 was a Good idea.
Whatever the Justification the Civil War was a good idea.

Lincoln and Roosevelt are listed as Great president's because they made the right call at the right time.
Bush is listed as the Worst president ever because of
consistently bad calls, for 5 years.
The Neocons can claim what they want, but, you won't see
any of Wolfowitz's or Feith's or Rove's kids in Iraq, driving a
truck or carrying a rifle.

Posted by anonymous at May 29, 2006 04:48 PM

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