Saturday, March 11, 2006

Reasons for the war in Iraq

Somehow, TheCSO and I have gotten into the habit of having long-winded political conversations on Saturday mornings. Between my working and teaching and his working and hanging out with the guys, we don't have enough conversation time in the evenings right now, and we tend to make it up on the weekends.

Last week, we reviewed every aspect of the IHOP shooting, including my attempt to play Nancy Drew. Today, it was a lengthy discussion of the Corey Maye case that somehow turned into a talk about the war in Iraq.

I tried this theory out on a message board a bit ago, and have refined it somewhat through my talks with the CSO and a few things Joel Monka had to say there.

As far as I can tell, we got into the war in Iraq one of three ways:

1. Weapons of Mass Destruction didn't really exist on a scale worth worrying about, but served as a convenient excuse to get us into a war that the administration wanted for less politically palatable reasons. Whether you want to take the real reasons as the PNAC explanation of "We're going to have to conquer that whole region eventually and Iraq is a useful place to start strategically," the Bush-as-a-politically-motivated-incompetant explanation that is was distracting the people from the fact that we can't find Bin Laden and the economy isn't in good shape, or the "We did it for the oil" explanation, they all stem from this basic line of thinking.

2. Another possibility is that WMDs didn't exist on a scale worth worrying about but we didn't know it. This explanation sucks the least for the administration, though it still makes them look plenty bad. It seems pretty hard to believe, but two ideas that make it more believeable are that:
A. We big time overestimated how powerful the Soviet Union was, right up until it collapsed.
B. As Joel pointed out, Saddam was not a rational creature. He had a tendency to shoot people who gave him bad news and there is some evidence that HIS OWN intelligence said that Iraq had more firepower than it did.

3. Backup Emergency Mark pointed out once, it's always possible that Iraq did have some significant WMDs and snuck them out to Syria or Iran. Some conservatives have defended the war with this idea. I don't really understand that at all. Saddam really did mostly want to screw with his own people. Iran would have easily creamed him two decades ago if we hadn't stepped in to save the guy. Iran and Syria both seem much more dangerous than Iraq and if WMDs did exist, I am far less comfortable with them in Iranian or Syrian hands.

Three explanations, and three for three are disturbing.




Anonymous said...

I have a patient who is Syrian, who says that Bush's reason for the Iraq war is that Bush, personally, owes the Saudi royal family a great deal of money (I think he said 5 billion), and was getting rid of Saddam as a "favor" to the Saudis. In other words, interest.
They get different news in Syria....

fausto said...

I think the correct answer is #1.

Bill Baar said...

The NYT via Normsblog,

The Iraqi dictator was so secretive and kept information so compartmentalized that his top military leaders were stunned when he told them three months before the war that he had no weapons of mass destruction, and they were demoralized because they had counted on hidden stocks of poison gas or germ weapons for the nation's defense.

My thought, at the time, was to go through all the scenarios and ask how I would feel if the assumptios proved wrong. I would still have gone into Iraq. Because I believed Bush right here in his Feb 28th AEI speech,

The safety of the American people depends on ending this direct and growing threat. Acting against the danger will also contribute greatly to the long-term safety and stability of our world. The current Iraqi regime has shown the power of tyranny to spread discord and violence in the Middle East. A liberated Iraq can show the power of freedom to transform that vital region, by bringing hope and progress into the lives of millions. America's interests in security, and America's belief in liberty, both lead in the same direction: to a free and peaceful Iraq.

I still believe in that power to transform, and that's probably because I'm still more 60's radical than I realize.

Joel Monka said...

Well said, Bill- and perhaps I, too, am more stuck in the 60's than I realized; I'll have to ponder that.

Anonymous said...

I don't want to get into a political discussion with you guys, but it blows my mind that you could have believed that stuff.

LaReinaCobre said...

I think I knew I didn't believe Bush about Iraq, because I don't believe Bush has any interest in freedom, peace, liberty, hope, progress ....

LaReinaCobre said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Joel Monka said...

Once again we see the essential difference between a liberal and a conservative: the conservative believes the liberal is wrong, but the liberal believes the conservative is evil.

Chalicechick said...


I really don't like that axiom. I could invent another, maybe "Conservatives want to help themselves, liberals want to help everyone" and crow every time I saw an example. Wouldn't make it true.

Extremes always think the opposing side is evil. I promise you that, for example, the pro-life folks who've told me I'm going to hell, were not just expressing their intellectual displeasure with me.


Joel Monka said...

While conservatives are not immune to human frailities, I do not concede equivalency on this point; it would be like pointing to Green Day and saying it's proof men and women are equally likely to wear eyeliner. Right here in this comment column we have three accusations of unworthy motives on the President's part and one expression of astonishment that anyone could even believe him, vs none on the other side. I'll wager that for every such conservative blogger comment you quote I can find five liberal examples; for every politician and celebrity, ten. Do you doubt I could?

LaReinaCobre said...

I don't think conservatives are evil. I just don't believe Bush cares about freedom and democracy for everyone in the world, as he says he does. I don't believe that is true of all conservatives, but we are speaking of one particular person.

I don't think that Bush is even representative of most conservatives in this country.

Chalicechick said...

Yes, Joel, I would happily take you up on that. (Ever heard a conservative be accused of trying to destroy Christmas?)

Actually, I think a "Chaliceblog/CUUMBAYA EVIL OFF!" could be really amusing.

Let's schedule it for after Saturday, though...


PG said...

We have liberals making accusations of unworthy motives because this is a post about the Bush Administration. Shall we rewind to the Clinton Administration and point out the number of conservatives -- some of them in freakin' Congress -- who said that Clinton took military action in pursuit of bin Ladin, and to end ethnic warfare in the Balkans, to distract from his domestic problems?

Bush's belief in creating freedom and peace through U.S. intervention seems implausible for the sole reason that he himself ran as a person who didn't hold such a belief. He mocked nation-building as a futile exercise that misused American resources. Had Bush instead run on "I will use our military to overthrow tyrants and spread democracy," his own party never would have nominated him. Even now, a large number of Republicans -- particularly those who do not identify as neoconservatives -- cling to the idea that the action in Iraq is to defend American freedom. They just cannot believe that their president would be sending their sons into battle otherwise.