Point of View 2, June 9, 2003: WMD & Gulf War II's Success
Quick break between the economy ones; no wrestling news = more columns.
First off, a link:
I've seen several very explanatory stories to the effect of Iraq's weapons program being active and very corrupt. Lies were spread on both ends; to Saddam, and to his enemies. This article is one of the better ones. So, let me go over a few key points on this situation. Remember, WMD = weapons of mass destruction.
1. Iraq was not in possession of weaponized WMD. It had the delivery system in place (illegal Al Samoud missiles and WMD-ready warheads), it had many of the needed materials (pre-war reports usually mentioned potential, not produced), it had the scientists, it had the labs... it just didn't have the finished product. I do not expect a smoking gun to turn up unless it's hidden in Syria or buried in sand.
2. The international community has been in agreement for some time over the existence of an illegal Iraqi WMD program. Clinton knew about it and acted, the UN passed over a dozen resolutions, and the security council voted unanimously in resolution 1441 that Iraq was in violation of the various weapons-related restrictions imposed under the Gulf War 1 cease-fire. What does all that mean? It means that at no point did Bush and Blair attempt to use some massive lie in order to justify war. The war's primary detractors agreed that Saddam's Ba'ath government was acting illegally; the only thing in dispute were specific violations and the consequences resulting from them.
3. From a standpoint of international law and security, Gulf War II has been justified. Discoveries of missile stockpiles and meticulously acid-washed mobile weapons labs, in addition to the testimony of dozens of captured government officials, have proven that the WMD program existed. That program needed to be eradicated thoroughly in order to ensure that one of the great modern murderers could not use the tools of genocide once more. Further, his government needed to be dismantled in order to demonstrate that flagrantly aggressive and illegal behavior over an extended period of time will be prosecuted with equal aggression; at some point a regime loses its right to exist.
4. The discovery of mass graves of all shapes and sizes only provides another grim reminder of the price paid to those who allow grossly corrupt regimes to remain in power. These atrocities are not unique to Iraq, and I remain steadfast in the belief that the world's economic and military powers have a moral obligation to prevent them from recurring, no matter how inconvenient it might be. I'm not advocating an endless war or a bloody crusade; rather, focused military efforts aimed at toppling governments, followed by humanitarian aid and protecting the creation of new democracies from new dictators.
Iraq is the first real test, and despite the massive humanitarian crisis I firmly believe that the people of Iraq will be liberated from the prolonged suffering caused by Saddam Hussein.
Point of View 2, April 21, 2003: The Rage Continues
That's all they want to talk about now. A museum.
"Before and during this war, Bush administration officials spoke repeatedly of securing a promising future for the long-suffering Iraqi people... As things turned our [sic], all of humankind is poorer ." - the Ft. Worth Star Telegram
"Nothing much is more important to an emerging democratic form of government than the collections of a nation’s history" - The Toledo Blade
"Only now is it becoming apparent that to many Iraqis, including those who loathed Saddam Hussein, the war has been a calamity, a moment of national shame for which reckoning will be sought." - The Miami Herald
For all the harms done to millions of people over decades under the leadership of Saddam Hussein and his Ba'ath party, apparently the destruction of a museum is more important.
Many leftist commentators have done more than just bring up the looting of the museum as a US error; they've attempted to turn it into a major historical catastrophe, and thus place the US in a bad light in the context of actions in Iraq.
No museum is worth the oppression or death of a single human being, nor is oil, nor are 'international relationships', nor are any of the other dozens of concepts used to try and marginalize what has been accomplished. Things of this nature can occur in the process of fighting a war. Apparently to many on the left, the loss of a single museum to professional thieves during chaos in a city of millions is evidence that the coalition has no hope of ever bringing Iraq prosperity or democracy; that we should have left things alone.
I guess Thomas Henry should have said, "Give me cultural artifacts or give me death." That seems to be the sentiment at play.
I'm not asking for the left to bite their tongues on all things Bush simply because of a war. I am, however, asking for reason and restraint. To lambaste the liberation of a country because a museum was looted is asinine, and I shudder to think how such people would prosecute the war on terror... or if they'd do anything at all.
Point of View 2, May 2, 2003: Another response
Well, it took me over a week from when he wrote it, but I'm finally gettin' back at him!
On the 'European Three': It is very easy to buy into the myth that Europe with the exception of the UK was opposed to the war. However, exactly the opposite is true. France, Germany, Russia, and (I believe) Belgium made up the war resistance in Europe. The UK, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, and Eastern Europe were in favor of it. Thus, the consideration shouldn't be whether the US met Europe's standards, but whether France, Germany and Russia did.
And, going further, the two with the staunchest anti-war views were France and Russia... both of whom were historically strong allies of the Hussein regime on a level far beyond what the US ever was. Russia provided the vast majority of Iraqi arms. Both countries were heavily tied to Hussein through oil contracts. Going even further than that, there is an increasing flow of information that Russian and France businesses were still funneling supplies to Hussein mere days before the war. Going even further than that are the mounting evidence of Russian intelligence briefing Hussein on the US and UK in order for Hussein to be ready for the war.
What does Poland have to gain from a war in Iraq? Italy? Spain? European nations with the least ties to the Iraqi situation were nearly unanimous in their support of the war.
Which leads me to the UN.
On the UN: At no point would France have allowed a resolution to pass the security council which explicitly called for military action. They made that point abundantly clear. No amount of stalling, no amount of noncompliance, and no amount of evidence would have been sufficient for France to relent on its veto threat. And as soon as France's position was clear, several on the security council (such as Mexico) decided that they weren't going to risk anything by supporting the US only to have it vetoed anyway. The point at which France would never allow for Hussein's regime to be changed short of Hussein launching an attack is the point at which the UN security council's design is too flawed to be relied upon.
But the UN is flawed in more ways than just that. Look at the human rights council. Again and again some of the most blatantly oppressive regimes on the planet are given the ability to pass judgment- and again and again they fail to indict the most egregiously criminal governments in the history of the world.
The UN is a joke, because it doesn't represent the beliefs of the world. A majority of its members aren't even democracies! It fails to call for action where action is needed, it fails to point out human rights abuses in an impartial manner, and yet it seeks to be viewed as the only true legal arbiter. Until these fundamental flaws are resolved, I see no reason why the US' vital international interests should be left to it.
On North Korea: movement is going on as we speak for both the US and other regional powers to talk the regime down. In the past, the US negotiated with North Korea unilaterally. That failed. By having real pressure applied from China and Japan, North Korea will face an enormous cost to further developing its nuclear arms. I won't promise that it will work, but it's worth a try.
North Korea's military, and its geographical situation, provide ever bit as uniquely bad a war situation as Iraq was uniquely good. The cost: benefit ratio needs to be taken into account for every war, and the simple fact of the matter is, not every preemptive strike is worth the damage it causes. A war with North Korea would be long (by 2003 standards), bloody, and very destructive. North Korea has more than enough armament to kill untold numbers in South Korea through conventional missile strikes, let alone the amount of damage that would be done in the north where the fighting would occur. The difference between Korean War II and Gulf War II is night and day. The Iraqi military was untrained, essentially unarmed, and had next to no leadership. North Korea's military is one of the largest in the history of the world. While it would lose, and while I don't think there would be more than a few thousand US deaths, both Koreas would pay a price that Iraq thankfully didn't.
That's why I'm willing to give peace more of a chance in this situation. In six months, in a year, maybe that will change.
On terrorism: Bin Ladin and his men are scattered throughout the world, in caves or in prisons or in tombs. Its bases are destroyed, its major cell groups have been rooted out, and many top officials have been captured- several of them in 2003. And we still have a large contingent of our forces roaming through the mountains of western Pakistan looking for the remains of the Taliban.
At what point is it that we are no longer bound and gagged by a single-minded attack on Al Qaeda? Why is it that we shouldn't do anything more until Bin Ladin is found? This mindset is baffling; the bulk of the military is utterly useless in a manhunt. It should instead be used to put pressure on (and in some cases destroy) the governments which support terror, as was done in Afghanistan and Iraq. There is absolutely no reason why we should cease everything else until Bin Ladin is found.
As for the Kurds supporting Bin Ladin, I haven't seen a bit of evidence aside from Bin Ladin's support of an extremist Kurdish Taliban. Carole O'Leary of the American University, who spent several weeks with the Kurds, has pointed to them as one of the few Arab sects who are likely to support the US against Al Qaeda. If I could get your source, I could examine the historical context and see if what you're saying is correct.
On Bush: to doubt is human. I'd like you to further consider two men: Tony Blair and Colin Powell.
Both are two of the most powerful men in the world. Both have access to the same privileged information that none of us ever will. Both of them backed US military action in Iraq. Blair did so despite his own political party being stridently against it. Powell did so despite initially desiring a solution arising from the UN; he gave up when it became abundantly clear that the security council would never be satisfied with the US' evidence.
Are these men fools? Are they being bullied into their stances? Are they part of some grand lie orchestrated by the Bush administration? Or, is it the case that based on what they knew at the time, they honestly believed that military action was necessary to effect a regime chance in Iraq.
To condemn Bush as a liar is to condemn all those who had his ear and had access to the same information. That's a big step to take.
I for one am glad that Saddam Hussein has been removed from power. I believe that the US and the world will see to Iraq's rebuilding, and that Iraq will be very much well-off under virtually any government that could arise. It is next to impossible to recreate the evils represented by Hussein. And I don't think it was foolish of me to believe George W. Bush's condemnations of the Hussein regime.
Point of View 2, April 19, 2003: Response
I'd like to thank Speer for his column. I asked him to write it, because I know that there are those of you out there who share his views (though few can express it so well). The intention is noble, but I still consider it flawed.
The reality is that there were more nations actively, vocally supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom than all but two or three military actions in the history of the world. The Gulf War, its ceasefire and the UN resolutions that followed provided more 'global law' justification than any other military action since the Gulf War itself; more by far than the Taliban's removal. The reality is that if this were in fact a war which a majority of the world viscerally opposed, there would be talk of boycotts and sanctions against the United States; instead there are only protests, the largest of which are time and again organized by the socialist fringe of the left. Notice how quickly France, Germany and Russia voiced a willingness to help in the rebuilding. Notice that North Korea backed down from demanding unilateral negotiations. Notice that there has been no new wave of terrorist attacks as promised by radical Muslim leaders.
The sentiment of distrust of George W. Bush is, I suppose, not entirely without reason. A man with as many connections to oil, who controls the most potent military and economy in the history of the world, who enjoys all the popular support he needs after 9/11, who is so passionate and so unable to pump out flawless speeches... can this man really be trusted to execute a war?
Yet what reason is there to think that not only is he wrong, but that he not only doesn't believe what he says? I'll respond to the arguments, of course, but I stand firm in saying that on the issue of Iraq, Bush stands where I do. He's not a man of cunning or deception. In many ways he's simple. Does the man who created the word "strategery" really seem that two-faced? And are men like Colin Powell and Tony Blair equally as duplicitous given their support?
In the words of Johan Hari of Britain's The Independent, "I wish there was a pristine, perfect state with no oil interests and the military power to help the people of Iraq, but there isn't one." The United States was justified in pushing towards removing Saddam Hussein from power, and I remain dumbfounded at the number of people who continue to question whether or not that is the case. I will go to my grave bearing the sentiment that I would rather err in favor of zealous removal of maniacal dictators than err on the side of a false peace.
The most simple answer to Speer's questions isn't that Hussein's sins were uniquely his, but that he had so many of them under his wing as well as the prior military actions in Iran and Kuwait to justify action. Further, it was a situation in which the US/UK force was able to dispatch him, but there were no other trustworthy regional powers to act. Action was needed, we were the only ones available to do it.
North Korea's military is the third largest in the world, located in terrain far less friendly to our military. Yes, we would win. But it would be incredibly bloody, and South Korea would play a heavy toll. Further, there are regional powers to prevent North Korea from continuing along its current path. China has no desire to see a war break out on its border, and Japan will militarize the instant it is directly threatened. As I mentioned earlier, the North Korea problem was best dealt with by demonstrating Bush's seriousness; eradicating Hussein's regime sent a message. Don't Mess With Texas.
As far as human rights abuses go, Africa and the Middle East have everything imaginable. Yet there is no terrorism being exported from Africa, there is no WMD production in Saudi Arabia, and there is no leader who demonstrated a willingness to fight land wars with other countries. I would like to have seen something be done about Rwanda, I would like something to be done about the Sudan, but there are other pressing matters. The Axis of Evil deserves the bulk of our attention.
Moving on to terrorism, there is the fallacy which I've seen so many great minds make: that Osama Bin Ladin and his group are the only terrorist group worth worrying about. Iraq trained and supported other terror groups, most of whom operate in Israel/Palestine. Supporting terrorism after 9/11 is intolerable no matter who the target is. Further, groups like Hamas might not have the resources to attack the US yet, but given enough support by men like Hussein it would only be a matter of time.
"Will there be more war against the other evil dictators of the world? If not, there must be some hidden ulterior motive behind the war with Iraq."
Bush is exerting pressure on North Korea, Syria, Turkey and Iran. While Turkey won't turn to war, the other three might. Does he have to address every single dictator at the same time? That's simply unfeasible. Further, diplomacy hasn't played out in those places like it had in Iraq. Hussein had exhausted a full 12 years of ceasefire, and he was still dragging his heels. Now that it's clear the US and its allies mean business, I expect diplomacy to be much more effective. If it's not, then war may come. But to claim that the absence of other wars proves ulterior motives is highly unfair to Bush.
That Znet article is worthless. There were no 'thousands' killed or endless farmland ruined; the ordinance dropped wasn't on farms or homes, but on the mountains along the Pakistan border where the Taliban fled. The bombing and chaos in Iraq have been much more extensive; there's more need to rebuild. Humanitarian aid continues to pour into Afghanistan. Thousands of our troops continue to stave off the remnants of the Taliban in the aforementioned mountains. In order to solve Afghanistan's remaining problems we would need to fight native leaders who enjoy far more popular support, and would actually stand and fight rather than flee to the hills. That's the war the USSR fought throughout the '80s, with no success. That's what we tried and failed to deal with in Somalia. That's not a fight that's in the interests of the US. There are no armed warlords to deal with in Iraq, thus we can do more to help and I expect we will.
But there's more. The Taliban is out of power, and it will remain out of power. Afghanistan wasn't destroyed in the Taliban's removal, and most of the north/east portions of the nation enjoy relative peace and liberty. It is better off than it was on 9/11/01. The same will be true in a few months in Iraq. Hussein represented the absolute worst thing for Iraq: a man who dominated resources, had the military power to crush an uprising, and had no compunctions about slaughtering dissenters. It would be next to impossible for a worse situation to arise even if the US were to utterly abandon Iraq now, let alone that the UN, France and Russia are also interested in rebuilding.
You expect the worst to come from US military action. Well, I'm saying that even the worst is better than what would have happened had nothing been done.
I implore you once more consider that maybe- just maybe- George W. Bush isn't a lying scumbag. Because if what you imply is true, that's what he is.
Point of View 2, April 10, 2003: In Celebration, a Fury
I love it. I see the images from Baghdad just like the rest of you.
This war has gone exactly, mark my words, EXACTLY like I and those like-minded people in the Bush/Blair camp expected. Minimal soldier casualties, snags caused more by nature than by the Republican Guard, tragic but rare and inevitable civilian deaths, ineffective suicide runs mixed with surrenders, and ultimately one of the single most lopsided military victories in the history of the world.
Now, they're dancing in the streets. The Iraqi people weren't sure if the allies would actually finish the job this time; now they know. Now there is jubilation. Now there are children liberated from prison, and torture chambers found in freshly bombed buildings, and stores of banned missiles, and nuclear waste, and chemical-tipped warheads, and warehouses full of human remains. Those are the dark, ghastly legacy of a monster that history will remember as Saddam Hussein, who tortured with his hands, who had his opponents tortured, and who tortured his nation with the instruments of fear and oppression for decades without the slightest remorse.
Many of you question whether the Iraqi people will in fact be liberated as we conceive of liberty. Will there be free elections? Will there be internal peace? Will the radicals spring up and establish another terror-friendly theocracy? Will there be a new Saddam? We are right to ask such questions. But it is not right to overtly anticipate a failure by the United States of America and the United Kingdom. It is not right to expect that a nation, any nation, could ever be worse off than they were under the bloodied fingertips of Hussein.
My question at the moment now lies not with Bush or with Blair. They did their part. Their generals performed masterfully. My question lies with those who opposed the war, and from there nitpicked from every possible angle in order to avoid the awful truth: that George W. Bush knew what the hell he was talking about. That the idiot son, the gunslinging cowboy, the arrogant American would actually be correct in pushing for the removal of Saddam Hussein; and that Blair, in backing Bush, was not merely being a suck-up, but in fact believed in the veracity of his words and was willing to back them up with the military might of his people despite opposition from his own party.
My question, something that's eating away at my stomach, is why so many millions were viscerally opposed to the concept of Iraqi liberation. Why they expected every Iraqi city to be burned to the ground, and its people degraded by the invasion, and its resources plundered by the supposedly vile forces at work in the Bush administration. Why they thought deep down that Iraq was better off under the auspices of Saddam Hussein. Why the prospect of military action immediately caused flashbacks of Dresden and Vietnam rather than the exact same nation a mere decade earlier, or Afghanistan a mere year ago.
What, I ask, caused rational human beings to come to a conclusion that was not only wrong, but if followed through on would have left the Iraqi people under brutal oppression. It's not just a matter of being pacifists, or being wary of Bush, or fearing terrorist reprisals. It's that so many people think that the United States isn't capable of waging a war of liberation that leaves the populace better off than before. That a defeatist conviction of American weakness would lead them to condemn a people to oppression is sad; to continue to do so in the face of such an overwhelmingly beautiful liberation is intellectually dishonest and morally inexcusable. I've said it before, and I say it once more here: those who opposed this war were wrong, and are so wrong as to not be worthy of elected office. A mistake so grand should never be forgotten.
This is how we fight the terrorists. The dictators of the world and their violent underground allies will either lay down their arms or be removed from power. Not all at once, not without due process, not without planning... and yet without fear, and without pointless destruction of those we seek to help.
Without the absurd notion that the free people of the world should feel remorse for wanting others to experience the liberty we take for granted.
I'd greatly appreciate feedback on this.
Point of View 2, April 7, 2003: Victory, and Consequences
The war is over. Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath party government is in shambles. It only has direct military control of fractions of cities- and that includes Baghdad now. Soon there will be nothing left of it.
Not every Iraqi wanted Hussein gone. Not every Iraqi wanted to be freed by a gesture from George W. Bush and Tony Blair. Not every Iraqi will live to see the freedom that is most pivotal to this conflict. Remember that far more will die because of bombs destroying water lines than will die from bombs being dropped on civilians; hundreds died directly, thousands will likely die indirectly.
Yet this is still a small price to pay, and this has been a fantastically successful war. A war of liberation would have been impossible to win for the Iraqi people unless Hussein's own populace in Baghdad- the ones who receive table scraps from him as opposed to nothing- had turned on him in a total nationwide revolt. That would have been far bloodier for far longer than the war we've witnessed.
Liberation will mean that the infrastructure of the nation can be built to the same level as Kuwait, whose people enjoy a much higher standard of living than the people of Iraq ever have. Liberation will mean an end to the torture and murder of dissidents. Liberation will mean the establishment of a government that no longer acts as a looming threat to nations in the region. Liberation will mean that less funding and training will be given to terror groups. And even though there are many who today loathe the actions of the Americans and the British, the prosperity of the Iraqi people will act to silence doubts and as a buffer against men like Bin Ladin who exploit a false image of America as a destroyer and an oppressor.
But in order for this war to have been worth it, America and its allies (and hopefully the rest of the world) must- must- keep their word to help the people of Iraq be free and remain free. The same goes for Afghanistan. The same will go for any other future
military action taken in the war on terrorism. Each of us must seek to hold the leaders of our nations accountable if Iraq is set aside before it can properly fend for itself. This is something that could be necessary for five, ten, or even twenty years. Not all of that time would be spent feeding the entire populace, but instead simply preventing the rise of a new Hussein.
That's in the future. Today we need to hold an entirely different set of people accountable. Those who claimed that the war would leave Iraq decimated and its cities leveled. Those who claimed that this was a war of conquest. Those who were convinced that notions of national sovereignty and pacifism were more important than the basic human dignity of every single citizen of Iraq. Those who predicted Vietnam and quietly (or openly) dreamed of a military quagmire for the sake of discrediting Bush and Blair. People with that mindset must not be allowed to hold office, because they have been so thoroughly discredited that they can no longer be trusted with issues of national and international security. Dictators will not be converted by words. Terrorists will not be won over with platitudes. The swift, efficient use of force as demonstrated in these last few weeks (and in Afghanistan before it) will act as the ultimate deterrent to any who want to take the path of WMD and terrorism.
I thank Bush, and Blair, and Howard, and the leaders of many other nations who have chosen to stop tolerating defiance from dictators. I hope that each of them will be rewarded accordingly.
Point of View 2, March 20, 2003: Rage
There's a paper I need to hand in at 2 PM today. It'll wait; only two pages.
Since the beginning of writing these columns I have saved the works of many authors on many topics. From relevant quotes like Clinton in '98 to the facts on gun control, the work and ideas of others have been vital in honing and backing my own.
There are no op-ed pieces, no research papers, and no quotes by great men like Tony Blair- the top orator in the liberation of Iraq.
Today I am filled with fury, deep in my gut, towards the actions and statements of many in the Democratic party. The statements pile up one after another, each an attempt to muddy the waters and make it more difficult for Bush to unite the nation in defense against terrorism.
Dissent in the context of the war on terror ought to be about how best to remove the power behind terrorists. Yet many top Democrats are more concerned with taking jabs at Bush than presenting viable alternatives and attempting to come up with better solutions.
"Today I weep for my country," said West Virginia Democrat Sen. Robert Byrd. "No more is the image of America one of strong, yet benevolent peacekeeper. Around the globe, our friends mistrust us, our word is disputed, our intentions are questioned. We flaunt our superpower status with arrogance. After war has ended the United States will have to rebuild much more than the country of Iraq. We will have to rebuild America's image around the globe."
"I think unleashing 3,000 smart bombs against the city of Baghdad in the first several days of the war . . . to me, if those were unleashed against the San Francisco Bay Area, I would call that an act of extreme terrorism," said Stark, a Democratic congressman from San Francisco.
"Look, we have exhausted virtually our diplomatic effort to get the Iraqis to comply with their own agreements and with international law. Given that, what other option is there but to force them to do so? ... The answer is, we don't have another option. We have got to force them to comply, and we are doing so militarily." -- Tom Daschle, 1998
"I'm saddened, saddened that this president failed so miserably at diplomacy that we're now forced to war. ... [Bush is] rushing to war without an adequate concern for the ramifications of doing so unilaterally, or with a very small coalition." -- Tom Daschle, 2003
"One could say that Osama bin Laden and these non-nation-state fighters with religious purpose are very similar to those kind of atypical revolutionaries that helped to cast off the British crown" - Marcy Kaptur, congresswoman from Toledo.
I come to you tonight not to hold one party above another. As I have said before, Republicans are not saints, and are prone to the occasional stupid quip (see: Lott, Trent). That does not excuse the conduct and motivation of the Democrats.
Kaptur phrased her remark in an attempt to explain the motivation behind the radical elements of Islam; that there is a spiritual drive which at times defies logic and offers a source of strength. However, saying that they are "very similar" is the height of ignorance. The fledgling America did not seek to burn down London, or slaughter those who still pledged fealty to the crown but did not fight. America fought for its independence in the open against British troops. The actions of the founding fathers could not possibly be more variant from the events of 9/11, which every terrorist group in existence wishes would happen again. Kaptur isn't just wrong in comparing Bin Ladin to Washington; she's dangerously wrong.
Daschle, arguably the most powerful Democrat, is a hypocrite. He meant every word of both quotes and should be held accountable for undermining a president in a time of war for purely partisan purposes.
Daschle and Byrd both attack Bush for failing in diplomacy. No, sirs, George W. Bush did not fail in preventing this war. Chriac and Hussein failed. Hussein could have cooperated in full in 1991, or 1998, or 2003, or Monday, but he instead chose the path of deceit. Chriac could have allowed for a tougher resolution in the security council, giving Hussein a firm set of demands and a deadline backed by military force. Chriac's sole solution to the problems of Saddam Hussein are inspectors and UN meetings. Had Chriac been willing to allow the British plan, which was incredibly fair and far more potent than resolution 1441, there would have been a definitive opportunity to allow for either a unified peace or a unified war. For Daschle and Byrd to lay the blame entirely on Bush is not only shortsighted, but incredibly harmful in time of war.
But there's more. Daschle voted in favor of giving Bush authority in this situation. Since then he has done nothing but second-guess and attack... without ever admitting that perhaps he disagreed with his own vote. He wants it both ways. If the war effort went smoothly, he was on board from the get-go. If there was a snag (say, France obstructing in the UN), he could blast Bush and score brownie points with the party's far-left just in time to get nominated for 2004. I urge those of you in South Dakota to find a new senator. I don't care what party.
Stark's comments are unforgivable. Those words cut straight to the marrow of every soldier from every allied nation who fight with honor and courage as I type these words. The reason why the bombs dropping on Iraq differ from terrorism is the exact reason why terrorism is so horrible. To target civilians without warning in order to inflict as many casualties as possible; this is the goal and the means of terror. Attacking the armed supporters of a dictator whose hands are drenched in the blood and misery of millions- to his own delight- is not terrorism. Stark has equated the armed forces of the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and many others with Al Qaeda. I have no tolerance for this man. I urge those of you in San Francisco to find a new congressional representative, and again it doesn't matter what party.
To all of you, I say once again: hold your elected officials responsible for their words and their deeds. It applies to any political party in any nation at any time. The price of freedom is eternal vigilance; vigilant against harmful elements from abroad and at home.
Point of View 2, February 22, 2003: Iraq, part 3
I could talk about how France and Germany are ruining themselves and the EU, or about how the anti-war protests are run by whackos, or I could rehash any of the dozens of things I've already said. But instead, I'll let someone else make the case for me.
"Saddam Hussein must not be allowed to threaten his neighbors or the world with nuclear arms, poison gas or biological weapons."
"Other countries possess weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles. With Saddam, there is one big difference: He has used them. Not once, but repeatedly. Unleashing chemical weapons against Iranian troops during a decade-long war. Not only against soldiers, but against civilians, firing Scud missiles at the citizens of Israel, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Iran. And not only against a foreign enemy, but even against his own people, gassing Kurdish civilians in Northern Iraq."
"I have no doubt today, that left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will use these terrible weapons again."
"The decision to use force is never cost-free. Whenever American forces are placed in harm's way, we risk the loss of life. And while our strikes are focused on Iraq's military capabilities, there will be unintended Iraqi casualties."
"Heavy as they are, the costs of action must be weighed against the price of inaction. If Saddam defies the world and we fail to respond, we will face a far greater threat in the future. Saddam will strike again at his neighbors. He will make war on his own people."
"But once more, the United States has proven that although we are never eager to use force, when we must act in America's vital interests, we will do so."
Any idea who it is yet?
"Earlier today, I ordered America's armed forces to strike military and security targets in Iraq. Their mission is to attack Iraq's nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs and its military capacity to threaten its neighbors."
All the above came from a speech on December 19, 1998, by William Jefferson Clinton, President of the United States.
I rest my case... for now.
Point of View 2, February 3, 2003: On war
"If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace." -- Tom Paine, 1776
I'm writing this on behalf of a friend who shall remain nameless. He doesn't believe that liberating Iraq or enforcing the ceasefire are important, and that we must wait to fight until there is aggressive action taken by Saddam Hussein.
Pacifism is one thing. Trusting that madmen will use restraint is its dangerous extreme. There are two very relevant historical examples which highlight the necessity of a preemptive strike. Before going into them, I'll go over the theory behind a preemptive attack.
In order to justify a war in order to disarm a government, one must be certain that said government is building arms and will in turn use them to attack yourself or an ally. Although the preemptive strike would result in deaths on both sides, it would prevent a full-scale war which would kill vastly more. This is especially true today, where precise bombs can be used rather than massive armies, and where two fully armed armies fighting each other can leave enormous devastation to the environment and to civilian populations.
The first historical example for the need to disarm Iraq can be found in 1930's Europe. Hitler, having been elected and then killing off all political enemies in the process, was in full control of Germany. The Germans were still sore over the results of World War 1, most notably the harsh Treaty of Versailles. One of the points of the treaty was a limit on the size and scope of the German army, in the hopes that its war machine could be kept in check. Hitler ignored this part of the treaty and very soon had the largest, most advanced army in Europe. Soon he set his sights on conquest, first through simple occupation and then by outright invasion. Britain and France, eager to avoid another brutal war, coddled Hitler. As long as they met his demands he wouldn't attack.
He attacked. We all know the results.
Had Britain and France actually enforced the Treaty of Versailles, there would have been a war, make no mistake. Hitler would have fought with everything he had. However, not only would the war have been on a smaller scale with fewer high-tech (for the times) weapons, but Hitler would have been stopped before he could begin the Final Solution to the 'Jewish problem'.
But how could the allies have known that Hitler was going to attack? By looking at the man. Looking at his past, his rhetoric, and Mein Kampf would have been more than enough to tell them that he couldn't be trusted.
In that vein, I go into the second historical example: Saddam Hussein himself.
In 1957, a young Saddam joined the Baath revolutionary party. In 1963 he became an important officer, specializing in torture. He was so skilled at it that soon he gained respect for the passion of his work, and by 1968 he was the #2 man when the Baathists seized power. Over the next eleven years he used his power to crush dissent and take over national industries, including numerous oil fields. In 1979 the head of the party resigned, and Saddam became the ruler. Shortly after he had nearly 500 people of stature in the nation killed because he didn't have enough control over them.
In 1980 he began a war with Iran. Because of America's conflicts with Iran (re: hostages), we supported Saddam. This lasted 8 years, and both sides traded some of the worst biological and chemical weapon attacks ever. Millions died. The Kurds, a northern Iraq minority who didn't support the Baath party, were brutally oppressed and often gassed for any attempts to overthrow Saddam.
With the war on Iran over, and still having an assortment of arms, Saddam decided that Kuwait (and its oil) ought to be a part of Iraq. In the summer of 1990 he invaded, leading to the Gulf War in early 1991. Although he had at the time the 4th largest military in the world, his forces were routed by a full showing of the arms of the free world. His million man army surrendered by the hundreds of thousands rather than rush into pointless slaughter; many of these deserters had their families killed by Saddam's personal agents. During the Gulf War, Iraq launched missiles against Israel in an attempt to incite a more widespread war in the region and thus deflect some of the attention on his invasion; though it was not a successful tactic, this has often been left out of recountings of the war.
Since then, Saddam has done everything possible to rebuild his army. Since soldiers were unable to give him the power he desires, Saddam now hopes to use powerful biological and chemical missiles to get what he wants. This process explicitly violates the ceasefire agreement following the Gulf War.
He has inspectors spied on. He has made it clear that any scientists who share secrets will be killed. He has obfuscated and stalled at every opportunity, even barring inspections during the end of Clinton's second term. In the 10,000+ page report which supposedly proved Iraq's disarming, there were dozens of documentable omissions and outright lies, as has been demonstrated by the initial findings of recent inspections.
Saddam Hussein is an enemy of humanity. His life has been defined by the destruction of others. He has tortured with his own hands, he has had his political enemies killed, he has slaughtered those in his nation who oppose him, he has invaded two nations, he ignores all treaties, he gives money to terror groups, and he continues to hold a deathgrip on Iraq's resources rather than allow his populace to try and escape their desperate poverty.
This is not a man we can trust to sit on some of the deadliest weapons ever devised. This is not a man we can reason with. This is not a man whose actions can be tolerated any longer. This man, responsible for the deaths of millions, must be stopped from having his plans come into fruition once more.
For his incalculable crimes, and for the sake of preventing the future deaths of all those he deems in the way, Saddam Hussein must be forced from power. The cost might be the lives of some of America's fighting men and women, but they will ensure the safety and freedom of millions in the process.
"War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself" - John Stuart Mill
Point of View 2, February 2, 2003: Iraq
I don't WANT a war with Iraq. I just think that nothing else will work.
Here's the reasons why we do it.
1. The Gulf War hasn't ended yet. I'm serious. Hussein violated the ceasefire agreement by rearming, so we have every right to punt him out of power.
2. The ceasefire was made by the UN, and if nobody enforces it then the UN loses all legitimacy. On the flip side, if Hussein is toppled then it sends a message to all the other third-world despots out there.
3. Hussein has proven that he uses what he has, whether it be on us through terrorism or on Israel or on his own people.
3a. He has all that he needs to make weapons. Remember those warheads found by inspectors? The CIA tipped them off on it. The US will be carefully dropping hints so that the Iraqis don't cover things up in time.
4. Terrorism. Hussein's links to Al Queda might not be rock solid, but his links to terrorism are. Taking him down will cut off a source of funds and weapons.
5. Casualties would be kept to a minimum. Iraq isn't nearly as armed as it was during the Gulf War, and as shown in Afghanistan, we can deal with urban warfare and smaller armies with a minimum of casualties among our troops and their civilians.
6. The deaths of a handful of innocent people and a bunch of Hussein loyalists would be well worth it to liberate the people of Iraq.
7. Hey, why not oil? Bringing more stability to the region not only allows access to Iraq's oil (without lining Hussein's pockets in the process), but also the oil of its neighbors. Oil alone isn't worth fighting for, but it doesn't hurt.
8. We've got a solid coalition already. The UK and Australia alone are a big help, not to mention most of Eastern Europe.
Now for some of the reasons voiced why we SHOULDN'T attack...
1. War never helps anything! We're going to slaughter the Iraqis in another Vietnam!
-A preemptive war is necessary to prevent a madman from arming. As shown in Afghanistan, our weapons and troops are very accurate. As for Vietnam, that was a very specific terrain that would give us fits even today; Iraq has none of that terrain. It's desert.
2. We should talk with him!
-Riiiiiiight, that'll work.
3. France and Germany and Russia don't want war!
-Because they actually DO have a stake in the oil right now. Besides, why should a couple of screaming pacifists keep us from a fast, clean, necessary regime change?
4. What about North Korea?! We're being hypocrites!
-North Korea is an example of why we need to fight *now*. They violated treaties (like Saddam), repeatedly tried to arm themselves (like Saddam), were coddled by the US rather than forced to give up their plans (like Saddam), and now could not be fought without massive casualties on both sides (like Saddam if we stall long enough).
5. Bush just wants to do it for oil companies!
-So, wait. You're saying that not only do you not believe that Saddam is a threat and is violating the legitimacy of international law, but you think BUSH doesn't believe it, and he's just doing it to help some buddies in Texas. Riiiiight. Further, we could do more to secure Iraq's oil by cutting a deal with a dictator rather than coordinating in a democratic government, even one of our own design.
6. Bush wants to do it for his daddy!
-This is simply pathetic, and used by those who can't debate the real issues. So if Bush 1 had a conflict that Bush 2 is dealing with today, it's only motivated by family pride?
7. BUSH IS THE REAL TERRORIST!
-Please die, you ignorant troll.
8. Muslims will be mad!
-So let's just give up the war on terror while we're at it.
9. It'll destabilize the region!
-How can removing Hussein do anything but *stabilize* things? This argument more than any other baffles me.
10. We need to give inspectors another month/6 months/year!
-Hussein is trying to develop weapons of mass destruction. He is clearly in material breach. He is clearly trying to foil the inspections. Why in the blue hell do we need to wait until he has MORE evidence? Oh, because you think if we stall long enough then Bush loses his momentum.
11. We must wait for an imminent threat!
-Ah, thank you Senator Kennedy. I guess you won't be happy until New York is a smoldering crater.
Unless Hussein accepts exile, the war is coming. It will be fast, efficient, and effective. Liberating the people of Iraq would be one of this generation's greatest gifts to the world.