Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Why I didn't get Iraq wrong

Have read a number of mea culpas five years on, and thought it was worth posting why I was right.

  1. It made no sense. We were attacked by a bunch of (mostly) Saudi Arabians lead by an Egyptian, inspired/trained by a Saudi Arabian. You attack who attacked you, and Saddam was not responsible for September 11th or the embassy bombings or the Cole or the Khobar Towers or the Beirut Embassy or...
  2. Containment was working. Saddam was a minor threat who had been contained successfully for over a decade. Once the UN inspectors returned to Iraq and found nothing working off of our best intelligence that should have been a warning bell for all that our best intelligence wasn't very good.
  3. It was obvious that Saddam had no nukes. Unlike Biological or Chemical weapons, you cannot easily hide radiation/nuclear weapons. The detection equipment is too sensitive and the infrastructure to support a nuclear program could not have been hidden from extensive inspections.
  4. The fear button (conflating September 11th) didn't work with me. Noticed that Bush continually conflated Iraq and September 11th. Before September the 11th, many in the world believed that Saddam Hussein could be contained. ....Imagine those 19 hijackers with other weapons and other plans, this time armed by Saddam Hussein.
  5. I remembered the Gulf of Tonkin though I didn't believe the US populace would be conned again so easily in my lifetime. Anyone with passing knowledge of the Gulf of Tonkin would not easily trust any US president with a suspect case to get us into war.
  6. We hadn't caught Bin Laden yet. Why take our resources away from our known enemy?
  7. We weren't changing the status quo. The status quo has long been - friend dictators we support/ un-friendly we over throw. Cutting off foreign aid to benign dictators like Mubarak would be changing the status quo.

Guess that's enough. I can remember futile arguments in a Yahoo group of folks comparing Saddam to Hitler or stating that we were attacked. I can remember reading other salient bits - the only successful nation building exercises by the US were Grenada & Panama (both small, nearby, speaking languages that we spoke English/Spanish, and in the case of Panama a nation with a nearly a century of close ties) - never had people been so sure of the outcome of a war and so unsure of the aftermath (NYT just before the war). But all that is side issues. Now it's history's judgement and it won't be kind. You don't go into war lightly and without very good reasons - reasons we lacked.

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