Tuesday, April 08, 2008

The Central Front In the War on Terror: Not Iraq

Ryan Crocker, the Ambassador to Iraq, in essence admits that Iraq is not the central front in the war on terror--something that everybody who's been paying any attention at all has known since before we invaded.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

How does this square with your pro-surge position?

If Iraq is not central in the war on terror, why not take those extra troops and put them somewhere where they can actually do some good?

9:47 AM  
Blogger The Mystic said...

Well, they can still do good in Iraq. Iraq is still a shithole that needs fixing.

Sure would be nice to be able to send them elsewhere where they could actually fight terrorists, of course..

2:00 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Right. Whereas before the Iraq invasion, we COULD have focused on al Qaeda (remember al Qaeda?), now we can't, because we've gratuitously destroyed an unrelated country, and now have to fix what we messed up before we can go back to dealing with the people who killed 3000 Americans on 9/11.

Oh, and, incidentally, on this unrelated side adventure, we've gotten more Americans killed than were killed in 9/11, gotten about 30,000 of them injured, and 3 trillion dollars has gone up in smoke.

It makes all this slightly less terrible that at least we also put the evil Saddam out of power in the process. It doesn't balance the moral scale, but at least it's something.

4:02 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...


"Which brings us back to the question of whether “neoconservatives” dragged the United States into war in 2003. As a purely practical matter, the suggestion has always presented a puzzle. How did they do it? Few people considered George W. Bush a neoconservative before 2003, or Dick Cheney, or Donald Rumsfeld, or Condoleezza Rice, who actually made a point in the 2000 campaign of saying that she was a “realpolitiker.”

Then there was the matter of public opinion. The war was, as American wars go, immensely popular, both before and immediately following its launch—more popular than the wars in Kosovo and Bosnia, or the invasions of Panama and Grenada, and about as popular as the Persian Gulf War of 1991. It remained popular even after weapons investigators discovered none of the suspected caches of chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons materials or the programs that the intelligence services of two American administrations and several European countries believed were there. A Washington Post/ABC News poll in April 2003 found that, nevertheless, more than 70 percent of Americans supported the war, and a CBS poll revealed that 60 percent of Americans believed it had been worth the sacrifice even if no weapons of mass destruction were ever found. A month later, a Gallup poll found that 79 percent of Americans considered the war justified with or without conclusive evidence that Saddam Hussein had possessed weapons of mass destruction, and only 19 percent believed the discovery of such weapons was necessary to justify the war. The war lost popular support only as it began to look as if the U.S. military was bogged down in a seemingly endless and possibly losing effort.

The nation’s political leaders were similarly supportive up to that point. The key vote in the Senate in the fall of 2002 passed 77-23, with 29 of 50 Democrats voting to authorize the war. Many will argue, correctly, that members of the Senate were under pressure, that it is always difficult to vote against a president’s request for authority to wage war. But it is not impossible, as a majority of Democrats proved when they opposed the resolution authorizing the first Persian Gulf War in 1991. And if Democrats were cowed into voting to approve war in October 2002, this only reflected their fear of a popular backlash against them if they opposed it. No doubt some members of Congress who approved the war resolution in 1917 felt similar apprehensions.

Still, the breadth of support was remarkable. In 2002, those voting to approve the war included everyone with even vague plans of running for president in either 2004 or 2008—not only John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, and Joseph Biden, but also Thomas Daschle, Tom Harkin, and Chris Dodd—as well as other Democrats who had no such plans such as Harry Reid, Byron Dorgan, Jay Rockefeller, and Charles Schumer, along with Republican moderates such as Chuck Hagel, Olympia Snowe, and Arlen Specter. One can only speculate abut whether Barack Obama might have voted against the war had he been in the Senate in the fall of 2002. If Dodd and Harkin voted for it, either out of conviction or out of some distant thought of future presidential plans, would Obama alone have made a different calculation?"

9:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re: popular support for the war, there's also this:


9:22 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

A good point, altho correlation is not cause.

We didn't topple Saddam, nor did 29 Democrat senators vote to authorize it, because Saddam helped the 9-11 attack.

But, revisionism being what it is, that could be the story in a few years.

2:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm inclined to agree, although there were myriad speech acts by memobers of the administration that helped build the relationship in a public that never pays close attention.

For my part, I still don't know why exactly we toppled Saddam. What's the reason this month?

9:12 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Righto, A. I've been saying for longer than anyone else I know of that that's really the central mystery here. Five years on and we *still* don't know why we invaded. The kaleidoscopic blur of ever-shifting reasons leaves one baffled.

We don't know why we went in, we didn't know what to do once we got there, we still don't know what to do now, we have no idea when we can leave, and we apparently don't even know what would count as success.

11:21 AM  

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