October 27, 2004  ·  Lessig

George Bush has apparently endorsed John Kerry for President, advising America that we don’t want as commander in chief “a political candidate who jumps to conclusions without knowing the facts.” True enough, Mr. President. How much better off we would have been had you not jumped to conclusions (re WMD) without knowing the facts.

Much better, no doubt, is a commander in chief who bases conclusions upon the facts, or, even better, acts when he learns of the facts (as this Administration did not do when it learned, in January, of the mistreatment of prisoners in Iraq and Cuba).

  • Max Lybbert

    I find it amazing that people keep falling for this argument that Bush was duped about WMDs in Iraq while Clinton, Edwards, Kerry, and others who came to precisely the same coclusions somehow were innocent. Could somebody please explain the difference? Is it the death of shame?

  • Anti Max

    I find it amazing that people keep using arguments, if you can call them that, in response to statements like this proclaiming the guilt of people who looked similarly at the evidence. The difference is between a hasty and deliberative judgement. And between showing such confidence and showing even a slight bit of doubt. He’s so sure of himself and so wrong so often. Attributes I despise in my president.

  • Max Lybbert

    The important points of the missing explosives story are:

    • At this point Kerry should have defined himself as something more concrete than “better’n Bush”;
    • The available facts are 18 months old — this isn’t news (update II);
    • Kerry has a habit of misrepresenting stories — and looking incompetant when the rest of the facts come in.

    Aside from jumping on this story, Kerry assumed that President Bush’s “January suprise” for Social Security recipients would be a 45% cut in benefits, when it will actually be a modest increase, and he is now spreading lies about a potential draft and stem cell research (“Embryonic stem cells have been researched for some time, and there is no encouragement for the belief that they will provide a cure for … spinal cord injuries. … So at least as far as we know right now, no matter how much money you throw at embryonic stem cell research, ain’t nobody gettin’ out of his wheelchair and walkin’.”).

    Kerry’s decision to remain elusive has him going down the same path as Bob Dole, ca. ’96.

    And in response to Anti-Max, if Kerry, Edwards, Clinton, Tenet, and several others came to the same conclusion after “deliberative judgement,” what proof is there that Bush was hasty?

  • http://alnyethelawyerguy.typepad.com/al_nye_the_lawyer_guy/ Al Nye

    Whether President Bush was duped about weapons of mass destruction or not isn’t the question. We all make mistakes. The best leaders admit their error and move forward with new ideas on how to succeed.

    As I noted in a recent comment on my blog, President Bush never admits that he’s made a mistake.

  • http://zricks.home.comcast.net Zach Ricks

    Was WMD the only reason we went to Iraq? People seem to keep repeating that as the main justification. Even if that’s the case, and WMD was a legitimate mistake, I think at this point it’s obvious that the sanctions were not working (Oil-For-Food? Iraq shooting at our planes with French-made missiles?), and that Saddam fully intended to reconstitute a WMD program the instant sanctions were over.

    Would we be better off if Saddam were still in power? Would the Iraqis? I think not. WMD wasn’t found in Iraq. Thank goodness. But what was found? This. So I don’t think going in to Iraq was a mistake at all. If anything, we were late.

  • Tito Villalobos

    The reason that the non-existance of WMD’s is such a huge massive deal is that they are the reason that we had to go “RIGHT NOW”. It was the “immediate threat” to the US that needed to invade without being able to wait for inspectors, the international support, or enough time to prepare the US Army. (Remember that we, the US, kicked the inspectors out this time.)

    No one is saying that Saddam was a good guy (or even an ok guy… we all agree he was a ruthless dictator, murderer and thug) . There is no doubt that he wanted to rebuild his WMD program. I whole heartedly agree that he was “gaming” the Oil-For-Food program. But the question isn’t “US or Saddam?”. The question is did we need to invade as soon as possible to avert catastrophe? (this was the original reason we invaded.)

    Saddam having a “desire to rebuild his dismantled WMD program at some point in the future, if we lift sanctions” is not justification for immiediate invasion, especially at the cost.

    The US invasion was predicated on an immediate threat of WMD’s from Saddam being handed off to terrorists and used against the US. That was totally wrong on both counts (WMD’s and terrorist ties), and has been shown as such by every commissions and report on the subject.

    The Bush administration has steadily been forced to change it’s rational for the war, because each time, it is proven to be false, and now we are to “ensuring freedom for the Iraqi people”. While that is a noble goal, it isn’t why we went in there.

  • http://www.iht.com/articles/2004/10/26/news/warm.html Anti Max

    Bush’s performance in front of the UN was evidence enough to me. Those UN inspectors really must have been stupid not to find WMDs eh? Bush looks like an idiot and is and idiot. If we don’t kick him out of office we’ll all look like a bunch of idiots. If Kerry proves to be as stupid as Bush (which seems unlikely given his long record in the Senate), I’ll help vote him out of office in the next election. I don’t necessarily agree with all of Kerry’s positions but I definately prefer them and don’t know another good way to show my disgust for the current administration. I voted for Bush in 2000, shame on me. After four years the only issue I can think of where I’m even sympathetic to Bush is on abortion and his views on the embryo as a living organism. My sympathy on that issue is based mostly on the fact that I would like people who think embryos are life to protect that life. The Straussian ‘Mayberry Machiavellians’ have to go. If the republican party can somehow displace the ideological assholes I may be able to consider their party a viable option again.

    Beyond the embryonic issue, Bush’s puppetmasters are anti-science Nasa Offical prepared to cricize Bush but was not allowed. Gotta love how these people handle dissent. How many officals have resigned now and made public statements against this administration because of of atrocious policies?

  • http://www.cs.duke.edu/~justin/ Justin

    I find it amazing that people keep falling for this argument that Bush was duped about WMDs in Iraq while Clinton, Edwards, Kerry, and others who came to precisely the same coclusions somehow were innocent.

    Ah, so that’s why Clinton, Edwards, and Kerry all sent ~150K troops into Iraq.

    Was Saddam a threat? Yes. Was Saddam trying to get out of sanctions? Yes. Was Saddam an immediate threat? No. Did Saddam have WMD’s? No.

    Therefore, a more rational response would be to

    • a) tear into the French, Russian, German, and (gasp!) American companies doing business with Saddam,
    • b) tear into Annan Jr. for doing business with Saddam, and possibly force Kofi out early, or
    • c) send 150K US troops (along with ~40K other troops) into Iraq, with no plan for the aftermath?

    Personally, I’m going with a) and b) and not c) as the right thing.

  • Anti Max

    I imbedded a link there that didn’t come out right. here’s the URL: http://www.iht.com/articles/2004/10/26/news/warm.html

  • http://zricks.home.comcast.net Zach Ricks

    Let me make sure I understand. Sanctions had been in place for … over ten years. Meanwhile, Saddam was gaming the Oil-For-Food program. I’ve read estimates that say Saddam had something on the order of 440,000 tons of conventional weapons. Meanwhile he was buying more stuff from France, missiles that had been manufactured less than a year before being fired at our planes which were enforcing sanctions. Meanwhile, we went to the U.N., and tried to get them to enforce their own resolutions (How many were we on? 17?), which they steadfastly refused to do. Saddam refused to allow anyone to verify that he didn’t have WMD. Eventually, there came a time when the President and his administration felt that the risk of waiting outweighed the cost of invasion. Eventually, there came a time when the President and his administration realized that the U.N. was not going to enforce its resolutions, (and with France and Russia being fairly deep in Saddam’s pocket, we can now understand why). So, eventually, we went in. Calling this an immediate invasion is a mistake. This was about as “eventual” as it gets. And “we’ll get around to it someday” would have sounded pretty farkin’ stupid had we waited until Saddam DID in fact pass off WMD to terrorists, and they set off another attack on the U.S. Thankfully that will never, can never happen, because Saddam now DEFINITELY does not have WMD, nor the capability of passing them along to Al Qaeda or any other terrorist organization.

  • Anti Max

    President Bush and cronies were the ones calling things an “imminent” or immediate threats. I think Zach is confusing that with people saying the GWB administration made an immediate instead of eventual decision. I think a hasty decision was made because of previous ideology. A lot of the people involved in the GWB administration would admit they have this ideology. Would their particular ideology lead them to made a hasty decision on this issue? yes. did it? I think so. Maybe other people don’t think so. Those people I like to describe as “wrong”.

  • David Lewis

    Bush & Co were not duped about WMD. They manipulated both the intelligence community and their communications to produce the result they wanted. The “duped” story is a fallback now being put into play. The Bushies were the dupers, not the dupees.

    For anyone in the know, the intelligence showed no such thing as WMD. For that reason, Kerry can be somewhat forgiven, though he should have known (and probably did) that the Bushies were capable of such double-dealing.

    But in fact, Kerry’s vote was primarily a political necessity, based on being backed into a corner by the administrations’s manipulation. How many Dem senators had the nerve, guts and skepticism to vote against it? A mere handfull, right?

  • http://zricks.home.comcast.net Zach Ricks

    First, the 242 UN resolutions… from the report you linked above, Justin…

    The British government says that’s because many of the resolutions demand action from both Israel and the Palestinians. So Israel can’t be singled out as the only state in breach of them.

    As far as getting weapons/help from other places, what can I say? One at a time, Justin. One at a time. No more state support from Afghanistan. No more state support from Iraq. No more possibility of WMD from Libya…

    One at a time.

  • http://atasteofinsanity.blogspot.com Damien Carlson

    Fisher,

    I thought you were well educated? You sound like the typical uneducated democrat, stating the infamous line: “Bush is a big-fat stupid poopoo head.”

    Be original…Please…For all of us democrats…

    It is easy for you to critique the president because your just one of his many watchful eyes. Bush made a decision on facts that were eventually found to be unsupported. What would you have done in that same position?

    It is easy to see what the right call would have been now, but what if Bush’s decision was right.

    Oh ya, I forgot your type, You probably would still complain…

    Get a life. And argue the real facts (remember, some of the Supreme Court Justices are getting quit old).

  • http://www.cs.duke.edu/~justin/ Justin

    The British government says that�s because many of the resolutions demand action from both Israel and the Palestinians. So Israel can�t be singled out as the only state in breach of them.

    So where’s the invasion to clean things up in Israel and Palestine? Where are the troops to disarm Israel from having nuclear and chemical weapons?

    Let me just say that I don’t actually support invading Isreal; the point is that saying “Iraq was ignoring a bunch of resolutions” is /still/ no reason to go in there without an immediate threat.

    As far as getting weapons/help from other places, what can I say? One at a time, Justin. One at a time. No more state support from Afghanistan. No more state support from Iraq. No more possibility of WMD from Libya�

    Afghanistan: good move. Libya: good that they’re backing off, although 90% of the thanks should go to the British for keeping the pressure on Qadaffi (“Kadaffy Duck” [/obscure_SNL_ref]) after he agreed to reparations for Lockerbie; we weren’t the catalyst for that one, no matter what this administration would like us to believe.

    One at a time.

    The main point behind my argument isn’t that we shouldn’t address the Bad Guys out there, but we should do it consistently. If I’m Iran or North Korea, the lesson I learned from Iraq is that if I get nuclear weapons, I’m safe. Now that the U.S. is bogged down in Iraq and has cried “wolf” too many times, I know I’ve got some wiggle room before any other nations step up alongside the U.S. if they get me in their sights.

    Saddam was a bad guy. He was like a cornered, violent murderer. The U.N. said “stop, or we’ll shoot”, but there was no real threat behind that. Bush said, “stop, or we’ll shoot”; there was a real threat behind that because the Senate voted to let Bush draw the gun, point it at the criminal and put a round in the chamber.

    But guess what? The criminal said, “don’t shoot”, and put his hands up. We sent the weapons inspectors in to frisk him. Of course he’s not going to go along whole-heartedly, since the neighborhood is looking on (Iran, Israel, etc) and doesn’t want to seem like a whimp, but he knows he’s cornered, and that U.S. gun is still on him.

    And then, while we’re in the middle of frisking him, Bush says, “that’s it, time’s up” and shoots. Why? Why why why? The criminal had more or less surrendered, even if he had paid off a few cops (France, Germany, Russia). Root out the corrupt cops, but don’t shoot the criminal when he’s surrendered and is being frisked. Dumb dumb dumb.

    Meanwhile, the real criminals — the mass murderers who are planning to blow up whole cities, as opposed to leading a murdering gang — watch and laugh and we try to round up this guy’s gang.

    The administration failed to act rationally and prioritize (at least with respect to actual security), and now we’ve dug ourselves into a hole.

    [/rant]

  • Max Lybbert

    Once upon a time, I was a trigger-happy John Wayne kinda poster. It looks like my glory days are ending. Wow, I almost missed an important discussion here.

    Starting with Al Nye:

    /* As I noted in a recent comment on my blog, President Bush never admits that he�s made a mistake.
    */

    Can you point to a mistake that Kerry admits he made? Or Clinton (while he was President)? I would like more candor and honesty in politics, but let’s recognize that Bush isn’t the only one who doesn’t admit mistakes. In fact, I don’t remember that many CEOs admitting to mistakes.

    Tito:

    /* The reason that the non-existance of WMD�s is such a huge massive deal is that they are the reason that we had to go �RIGHT NOW�. … (Remember that we, the US, kicked the inspectors out this time.)
    */

    Actually, I read the WMD argument as something of a trump card. The CIA had talked about terrorism + WMDs since the end of the cold war, Clinton had talked about the same mix every year he was in office (and Clinton got Congress to declare a US policy of “ergime change” in Iraq in ’98), and even the “blame America first” crowd had crowed that the US had given Saddam WMDs in the past. By bringing up WMDs, Bush was only repeating something that had already been said for some time. It was revisionists that kept raising the bar about what would count as acceptable proof of WMDs (and please remember that the recent report says that “antiquated” WMDs are being used to kill soldiers today).

    The reason we had to invade Iraq RIGHT THEN, was because after Afghanistan, Iraq was the poster child country of where terrorists could expect money, support, weapons, training, contacts, and other material support. Iraq wasn’t the worst country in the world, but a decision to invade Syria would have been answered with the question “what about Iraq?”

    Oh, yeah, and remember that we declared our intentions to invade after Iraqi military “threatened” U2s under the UN weapons inspectors’ control.

    Anti Max

    /* Bush�s performance in front of the UN was evidence enough to me.
    */

    What about the proof France, Russia, Germany, etc. were on Iraq’s payroll and would never agree to a US-led invasion? If things went that way, France, Germany and Russia would have pushed to end sanctions, and Iraq would currently be reconstituting its WMDs. Where do you think they would use those weapons?

    Justin (quoting me initially)

    /* I find it amazing that people keep falling for this argument that Bush was duped about WMDs in Iraq while Clinton, Edwards, Kerry, and others who came to precisely the same coclusions somehow were innocent.

    Ah, so that�s why Clinton, Edwards, and Kerry all sent ~150K troops into Iraq.
    */

    Well, didn’t Kerry and Edwards vote for the war until Dean led them to vote against it?

    And don’t forget that Clinton got US policy changed in ’98 to include “regime change” in Iraq.

  • http://lrp.greenrd.org/ Robin Green

    It was revisionists that kept raising the bar about what would count as acceptable proof of WMDs

    This is nonsense. There never was any “proof” of WMDs as you put it, so how can the left have been raising the bar for something (proof of WMDs) which never existed?

    On the contrary, the Administration has lowered the bar for proof of WMD programmes, as their pack of lies has been revealed. Niger forgeries, anyone? Iraqi drones ready to attack the United States? Mobile chemical weapons production facilities? Missiles ready to launch in 45 minutes? The list goes on. All a pack of lies.

  • Anti Max

    So if Kerry, Clinton, etc. are as bad as Bush as Max seems to suggest (a very big “if”). There would still lack reasons to vote for Bush. The pro-Kerry vote would still seem like a good option to tell the GWB administration “you suck”. It isn’t apparent to me that Kerry would be worse than Bush. Even if he’s somewhat equivalently bad it still would seem like a good idea to vote for him simply to send a message to the whitehouse. I’d love to hear some sort of arguments other than the form “but Kerry is worse”. It’s nearly impossible to know how Kerry will act as a president anyhow so I find most of those arguments pretty irrelevant (sometimes educated) guessing. Also the whole “they didn’t go against the war until Dean did” argument seems contrived. It’s one way of reading the available information but definately not the only possible explanation.

  • Nate

    Aargh! I’m so sick of that Right Wing They Did it Too! mentality. If it’s wrong, it’s wrong, and be man (or woman) enough to stand up and say, yup, it was a mistake regardless of what anyone else said or did. But taking their cue from the President, who refuses to admit any mistakes except minor self-serving ones, his supporters continually change the subject to someone else.

    You know, i just finished reading an excellent article about Wolfowitz in the latest New Yorker. He comes across as a sincere guy with deep feelings about his stance. He persuasively makes the argument that Saddam needed to go. Fine. I’m glad he’s gone too, for the sake of the Iraqi people. But that wasn’t the rationale for going to war. It was Bush jumping to the conclusion that WMDs were ready to pounce on us, before getting all the facts of the inspectors. As a result, 1100+ American soliders are now dead, and almost 10 times that many injured. THAT is the one key difference between Bush and anyone else who thought the WMDs existed. He jumped to a conclusion, but used his power to force Americans to die for those wrong conclusions.

  • Tito Villalobos

    Max:
    /*It was revisionists that kept raising the bar about what would count as acceptable proof of WMDs*/

    I totally disagree. The international inspectors had strong doubts as to the existence of _current_ WMD’s in Iraq. The CIA had doubts. The Army intelligence had doubts. That is why Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz created their own special “intelligence unit” to provide (create?) the evidence the Bush administration so desperatly wanted.

    We had inspectors in there. They could have discovered the lack of WMDs. It may have taken a bit longer, but Saddam had already been sacntioned for 10 years… what’s another 1. We wasted so much by going in the way we did.

    And the war WAS sold to the American people as self defence against an immanent attack. It was not a “trump card”.

    I totally agree that politicians don’t admit mistakes, though Bush is a flagrant about it. The “blame America first crowd” isn’t about “blame America”; it’s about realizing that America has made mistakes in the past, and those have very much contributed to our current problems. It’s about holding ourselves and our government accountable. By realizing it was such a huge mistake in the past, perhaps we will not give large amount of extremely lethal weapons to ruthless dictators in the future.

    And accountability is one of the core reason for my vote for Kerry. I don’t agree with all of Kerry’s positions, but the Bush administration has made so many massive mistakes. They need to be held accountable for them.

    (always a pleasure debating Max :-) )

  • http://www.cs.duke.edu/~justin/ Justin

    Well, didn�t Kerry and Edwards vote for the war until Dean led them to vote against it?

    I oppose the Iraq war now. But if I were a legislator in 2002, and I had the CIA telling me it was a “slam dunk” that Iraq had WMD, /I’d/ have voted to go to war. Why? As I said earlier …

    The U.N. said �stop, or we�ll shoot�, but there was no real threat behind that. Bush said, �stop, or we�ll shoot�; there was a real threat behind that because the Senate voted to let Bush draw the gun, point it at the criminal and put a round in the chamber.

    But guess what? The criminal said, �don�t shoot�, and put his hands up. We sent the weapons inspectors in to frisk him.

    And then, while we�re in the middle of frisking him, Bush says, �that�s it, time�s up� and shoots.

    Were Kerry and Edwards taking politics into consideration when they voted? They’d be stupid (from a “getting elected” point-of-view) if they didn’t. I know that, and you know that. But do they have the common sense to see that things have changed over the last two years? Yes. From where I sit, the President doesn’t. I’d rather have a President who makes some decisions based on political calculations than a President who makes all his decisions based on a combination of unwavering faith, politics, and greed.

    It was a game of chicken. Saddam had to believe deep down that we were actually going to invade if he didn’t let inspectors back in. But Bush swore up and down that he wouldn’t actually go to war unless he didn’t have any other choice. That’s not what happened. And no amount of saying “Well, Clinton did X” or “Kerry voted to authorize force” is going to change the fact that, at the end of the day, the buck lands on the President’s desk, and it was his decision to send troops (people my age and my brother’s age, including some friends of ours) off to war.

    And don�t forget that Clinton got US policy changed in �98 to include �regime change� in Iraq.

    Clinton’s not running for President.

  • jayo

    Just a quick comment:

    Justin,

    That was the best analogy I have ever read about the actions of Bush, very quick, simple, and right on target…

  • Alan McCann

    So is this the logic?

    Bush made mistakes so let’s go with Kerry.

    After all, he wants to:
    1. Ally ourselves with countries who support dictators with weapons and air coverage at the UN and actively work against our interests
    3. Give nuclear materials to a terrorist supporting state
    4. Actively go against our allies wishes in Asia by starting unilateral talks with North Korea
    5. talk with criminal regimes because he “feels” that our being tough with them has made them more criminal
    6. Denigrate our true allies in the hopes of winning the friendship of those who despise us.

  • Max Lybbert

    It appears that some of my previous comments were misunderstood. Probably because I’ve tried to stop being long-winded, and didn’t put in the necessary disclaimers.

    I’m not trying to imply that Clinton, Kerry, Edwards, et. al. are just as bad as Bush. I’m trying to point out a flaw in the system: politicians, CEOs, etc. can’t publicly admit mistakes. Well, OK, Clinton admitted that Lewinsky was a mistake, but only after there was no way out.

    And, the Clinton-era policy of “regime change” in Iraq was simply brought up to point out (among other things) that this wasn’t all Bush’s idea.

    My revisionist comment wasn’t misunderstood. However, I don’t remember anybody saying Saddam didn’t have WMDs before the invasion. After the invasion, the following weren’t enough:

    • proof of WMD programs (but not the weapons);
    • a mobile lab that could be used in WMD programs (but could also be used in “peaceful” research — although I still can’t think why a peaceful research lab would need to be mobile);
    • other undeclared “dual-use” research;
    • weapons that violated UN sanctions (although they weren’t nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons);
    • sarin from “antiquated” stockpiles somehow ending up in roadside bombs used by insurgents, and still proving to be deadly.

    Apparently the revisionists would only accept a stockpile of post-’98 weapons (because even if it were newer than the “antiquated”-but-deadly weapons, it wouldn’t count if it didn’t happen after the ’98 inspections). That is what I was referring to.

    The claim that Bush manipulated CIA evidence overlooks the evidence Britain, France, Russia, Germany and others had that Saddam had WMDs. For that matter, it wasn’t until after the invasion that Hans Blix said that he believed Saddam had no WMDs. Until then, he said that he wasn’t finding things. And don’t forget that the search was cut short when Iraqi military “threatened” U2s under the inspectors’ control.

  • Max Lybbert

    Oh, and don’t forget that Iraq regularly attacked US plane patrolling the no-fly zone. Although Bush never used this to justify the war, it is enough under international law (each attack was an act of war).

  • http://www.cs.duke.edu/~justin/ Justin

    So is this the logic?
    Bush made mistakes so let�s go with Kerry.
    After all, he wants to:
    1. Ally ourselves with countries who support dictators with weapons and air coverage at the UN and actively work against our interests
    3. Give nuclear materials to a terrorist supporting state
    4. Actively go against our allies wishes in Asia by starting unilateral talks with North Korea
    5. talk with criminal regimes because he �feels� that our being tough with them has made them more criminal
    6. Denigrate our true allies in the hopes of winning the friendship of those who despise us.

    Are you talking about Bush or Kerry here? Bush

    • Allied himself with Pakistani President Musharrif, a government that developed nuclear weapons illegally, harbored (and to an extent still harbors) elements of Al-Qaeda, and is not exactly know for its open society.
    • Actively went against our allies in going to war. I’d rather have someone who goes against our allies in going to peace than going to war.
    • Sends detainees to countries like Syria, a member of the Axis-of-Almost-as-Evil, in order to be tortured and interrogated. While I don’t have proof that Kerry would be any better about following the Geneva Convention, I can’t imagine that he’d be any worse, especially given that he’s former military himself.
    • Denigrated our true allies in the hopes of winning the war against people not connected to the whole reason we started the war on terror. And Iraq is not part of some holistic view of terror, other than Saddam cutting some checks to Paletinean suicide bombers; there are far worse out there, and we should have spent the last two years addressing them.

    All-in-all, I’m not sure it’s possible to screw up more than this administration has. Their stance on torture alone has done more to hurt our reputation and moral leadership in this world than anything else in the last thirty years.

  • Tito Villalobos

    Ok, to state clearly, my problem with the Bush Administration was NOT that we invaded Iraq; it was not the “policy of regime change in Iraq”; it was not the My problem was the way in which it ws done. The entire “pre-emptive war” doctrine is based on not having any options because we were about to be attacked. There was no immediate threat.

    Max, I don’t disagree with many of your statements regarding Iraq doing their best to get around the sacntions and inspectors. But those reasons weren’t trotted out to the American people or the world. We could have waited for inspectors to finish their searches, until Afganistan was stable, until we brought more allies to the table, until we had a good plan and enough troops and secure the country. (And yes I was arguing about this being the real problem during the actual invasion, when everything was going extremely well.)

    And now to Alan’s points:
    /*1. Ally ourselves with countries who support dictators with weapons and air coverage at the UN and actively work against our interests*/

    Working with dictators unfortunately is neccesary. Bush works with Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and others. I’m not happy about anyone doing it, but it’s unfortunately neccesary. (No I don’t fault Bush for this.) As for the UN, sometimes you have to moderate your stances in order to get long run payoffs of actually having real alliances. In the case of self defence, then obviously we ignore the UN if they balk, but I doubt they will in real self defense issues; they did completely agree to Afganistan afterall. However, since there were no actual WMD’s, the invasion of Iraq WAS NOT SELF DEFENSE. (that is why it is such a huge deal.)

    /*3. Give nuclear materials to a terrorist supporting state*/
    I assume you are talking about North Korea. They already have nuclear materials. The goal is to help them develop a nuclear power infrastructure that can’t be used for weapons. Yes, I think it’s extortion, yes we need to deal with them in the long term, but we need to get them under control now so they don’t build more nukes.

    /*4. Actively go against our allies wishes in Asia by starting unilateral talks with North Korea*/
    I was under the impression that China, Japan, Russia and the others just want them to stop, and they were happy with unilateral talks until Bush ignored them completely. If our allies would prefer to be involved, then I definately agree with you and disagree with Kerry. This is one of those things where having allies on board will help a ton.

    /*5. talk with criminal regimes because he �feels� that our being tough with them has made them more criminal*/
    Don’t have any idea what you are talking about. Can you give me the specifics?

    /*6. Denigrate our true allies in the hopes of winning the friendship of those who despise us.*/

    “our true allies”… wow that sounds like the old vs new europe crack. We don’t have much in the way of allies left after Bush & co’s antics. While Blair stands very much with the US, most of the UK people are not happy with the US. After their next election, we’ll see how much that remains. “True allies” doesn’t mean they always have to agree with us….. especially when it turns out that they were right and we were wrong about the level of threat Iraq posed.

  • Fast Freddie

    Mr. Lessig, having followed your commentary for some years now, I know you are not the type to make so light and hasty a comparison between the decision to go to war and Sen. Kerry’s hyperbole du jour.

    An eighteen month old news story spun out by those bastions of non-partisan credibility, the NYT and CBS, and that could not make it out of a 24 hour cycle before being to a large degree discredited by the likes of the embedded NBC reporters and more than twelve years of experience and evidence regarding Iraq are hardly similar.

    As to WMD, I would suggest that you read RICHARD SPERTZEL’s Op/Ed in the WSJ, 10/14 and then start work on the Iraq Survey Group’s Duelfer report (1000+ pages) before Tuesday.

  • Mercury

    The Iraqis were probably using French-made missiles because they’ve exhausted their stocks of US-made missiles already.

    I remember whose “side” Hussein was “on” in the 1980s…

  • Max Lybbert

    I’ve been rethinking my use of the term “revisionist history” all day, and have decided to retract that statement and put this one in its place:

    [new statement]
    To the extent that you find WMDs more important than WMD programs meant to create WMDs meant to kill people (probably Israelis, but I believe the US was on the short list), and the extent that you believe Bush would justify invading a country on information he knew (or should have known) would prove false in the aftermath — when he could have used various other justifications (such as the regular attacks on US forces patrolling the no-fly zone) — and the extent that you were “only kidding” when you opposed reviving the “Star Wars” defense programs because the real threat was state-sponsored terrorism using WMDs “like the ones we gave Iraq,” and the extent you decided before the invasion that the weapons we gave Iraq wouldn’t justify the invasion — only new Iraqi-made weapons would — you have a legitimate reason to oppose Bush on this matter. In that case, we have a difference of opinion.
    [/new statement]

    It should be remembered that Kerry wishes to take care of terrorism (and states that sponsor terrorism) with the same tactics Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Bush (I and II), Clinton, and even Carter used. Those tactics include freezing assets (Iranian hostage crisis), lawsuits (Libya), military responses to terrorist attacks, pulling out of places (Beruit), using allies, and police action.

    Following those tactics for 30 years failed to prevent the destruction of the World Trade Center. Perhaps that is unfair, since even Bin Laden didn’t expect the planes to actually topple the Twin Towers. So, except for unusual attacks (such as the Kobar Towers, and the Cole), those tactics caused terrorists to keep death tolls in the 10-30 range. Less than 10 bodies wouldn’t make headlines, more than 30 bodies would risk military action.

    To the extent that you feel Bush was trigger happy invading Iraq, and the extent that you believe Iraq posed no real threat to the US, you have a legitimate reason to oppose his re-election. I, personally, believe that when everything short of an invasion has been tried (say 10+ years of sanctions, continual military action in the form of a no-fly zone, and relying on the support of countries involved in undermining the sanctions and the no-fly zone), an invasion is necessary and acceptable to prevent state-sponsored terrorism — even when the terrorists aren’t named “Al Quaeda.”

    But, if you believe that Iraq posed no real threat, who did you believe was behind the anthrax letters? I know that the anthrax wasn’t from Iraqi stock, but wasn’t Iraq the first suspect?

  • Anonymous

    Okay, you brilliant democrats – Let’s have it your way. Where do you think we would be today if we had not invaded Iraq? Sadam would be in power and the world would be a lot better off??? So now what? Exactly WHEN is the magical decisive date that justifies the U.S. going in to MAKE CERTAIN that we are not about to get blown away? Inspectors were denied access for years. Sadam would have said no to inspectors exactly how many more times before we follow through on what BOTH countries agreed to (with the blessing of MANY other countries)? Do you need to have your cherished child taken from you personally to GET IT? I suppose you would insist that your child play nicey-nice with the bully that threatens to kill them? A bully that has a record of killing many times already? As the parent, should you make sure that EVERY single person agrees with what you think is in the best interest of your child? As a parent you have the hard job of following through on your word, protecting your child, and without the approval of all walks of life. That is the job of our president – and no thanks to you liberals – he has your best interest at heart. It is exactly this fact that has us “good parent-types” so worked up. You spit on the very person who is trying to do what is best for you (and as a byproduct, for the people of Iraq and Afghanistan). We are sick of your spoiled-brat attitudes, your unappreciative sentiments toward our military and your ludicrous arguments. The biggest irony of all is that Al-Qaeda�s hate is aimed at the most liberal people in our country because they see the U.S. as being so far from what they believe is right and good. Their beliefs are VERY traditional. They see the Hollywood lifestyles of excess, hedonism and casual sex/divorce as evil. Here�s the irony � you liberals are the real targets of their hate and disgust, but look who has come to your rescue – to protect you and your views and your rights. Hmmm�can you say George Bush and the Republican conservatives? I pray that Kerry and the media have not brainwashed too many of you light-headed people out there because if Kerry wins the U.S. loses and so do you and I. You really need to start thinking for yourself. You need to stop supporting candidates that are so much like you that supporting them makes you feel better about yourself. Do what is best for your children � do what is best for the future of this country � Do the right thing and vote your conscience � you know if you listen to it that ONLY �W� comes to mind.

  • Tito Villalobos

    For the 380 tons of explosives story, everyone check your facts please! That story has totally NOT been debunked. Even NBC said that they had NOT come to the conclusion that the explosives weren’t there, just that they didn’t look for them. The explosives were there when the embedded reporters came through, and there is footage to prove it:
    http://kstp.com/article/stories/S3741.html?cat=1

    Anonymous:
    I am a parent, and emotional appeals to my daughter’s safety is not effective nor appreciated. I hold the views I do precisley for my daughter’s sake. We as a country are becoming more and more divisive for a variety of reasons. Ths blog has been one of the very few meeting places I have left to get some semblance of sane disscussion. (Thank you Max, our disagreements always leave me with something to think about.) Reasoned understanding will protect all of us better than panicy appeals to “our kids”.

    As for Kerry or Bush protecting us better, do you really think that any president will actually not protect us? The opposition to the war in Iraq is precicely because it didn’t protect us and it wasn’t self defense. I think and believe that Kerry will do a better job of protecting us because he is more willing to understand that “protecting us” and “killing people and blowing stuff up” is not always the same thing, and in fact is sometimes at odds.

    As for the “godless liberals” in the US being the target, what is your point? Are you honestly saying that if we all suddenly see the light that the terrorists will no longer attack us? That has to be the worst argument for social conservatism I have ever heard, even if it that would appease the terrorists. And, from what I understand, Al-Quaeda also has major issues with our free markets and “corrupt capitalism”.

    One of my big concerns with Bush is actually that our rights are being thrown away in this country (Patriot act being the most glaring example) and we aren’t getting anything at all in return.
    See:
    http://www.schneier.com/crypto-gram-0402.html

    And on a final note “You really need to start thinking for yourself” and “you know if you listen to it that ONLY �W� comes to mind” in the same point really is contradictory. I have thought for myself, and come to different conclusions.

  • Max Lybbert

    Dang! Too late. The “missus” got me to bed last night before I could bring up the fallacy of micromanaging the war. Now that Tito paid me a complement, I need to write it in a less partisan way (g).

    So, I find it interesting that Kerry, who served in Viet Nam while President Johnson was single-handedly running the war from the White House, expects Bush to have his fingers in every pie, instead of permitting the trained generals to run the war (under the principle of subsidiarity, which is common among conservatives). Why else would Kerry bring up Tora Bora and these explosives in an election contest?

    Now for the less-partisan part:

    It is true that in both Tora Bora and Iraq, the White House, Pentagon (the civilian side), or Rumsfeld had a hand in setting up the parameters that the military had to operate under. For instance, in Iraq, Rumsfeld set the troop levels, and the generals decided to “leap frog” to Baghdad (i.e. put off important areas until after the government had fallen). In Tora Bora, I’m not quite sure what influence the civilians had on the final strategy to rely on locals. The Green Berets have existed for a long time specifically to train local fighters to support US troops (and cut US losses). That idea was originally a civilian one, but not Bush’s (something tells me it was part of Nixon’s Vietnamization of Viet Nam, but I may be wrong). However, I believe that some civilian leader told the generals to keep the US body count low, so the generals used the locals because, according to the field manual, that was The Right Way To Keep The US Body Count Low.

    Voting against Bush for this reason (setting unrealistic parameters) is legitimate, although I will disagree with you. As a civilian who has never entered the military (that is, take this with a shaker of salt), I remember the 9/11 Commission found out that Clinton considered invading Afghanistan for many of the same reasons Bush finally did (and reasons, IMO, similar to the ones that justified invading Iraq), but the military wouldn’t cooperate. Instead of telling Clinton to “shove it,” the military simply concocted war plans that required unrealistically high troop levels. Clinton recognized that asking for that many troops would be political suicide, and didn’t follow through.

    When the military told Rumsfeld that it needed something like 300,000 troops, he figured it was the same kind of stonewalling, and responded by setting a date to go in with 100,000. The military came up with a viable plan for invading with that number, and (IMO) the war has gone as well as anyone can expect a war to go.

    But, as I said, if you think it was wrong for Rumsfeld to set the level at 1/3 of the military’s estimate, you have a legitimate reason to vote against Bush. I don’t think it’s legitimate to complain that Bush doesn’t have his fingers in every pie, since we already know where that would lead us. In Viet Nam, it was common for orders to come from the States that simply didn’t reflect the real situation on the ground. That was a natural side effect of Johnson directing the war single-handedly.

  • Tito Villalobos

    I agree totally that we should let the generals plan and execute on war. However, the problem throughout this entire Iraq “thing” has been bad understanding of what we were tring to accomplish.

    The Bush administrtion’s goal has been to “beat the Iraqi Army” and the people will welcome us with flowers and parades. That initial goal has been fatally flawed and focused the army on the wrong goal. In a sense Rumsfeld was totally correct; we didn’t need 300,000 troops to beat Saddams army because the troops that were there did spectacularly against the army. The problem was that he was right about the wrong thing.

    This shortsighted focus is responsable for most, if not all, of our current problems in Iraq. It underlies it all from not restoring public services, to post invasion looting (weapons dumps to museums), to expensive mistakes like “Iraq will pay for it’s own reconstruction with oil money”. (remember that?)

    I don’t fault the administration for not meddling in detailed tactical decisions and insisting that this one explosives cache be guarded. I fault them for focusing the effort on the shortsighted war effort (ousting Saddam) and ignoring reconstruction, even when many people (including several generals and the Secretary of State) were saying this was going to be the main issue. This explosives cache is just one of many examples of the fallout.

    I do agree that CBS’s original decision to wait until this Sunday to air the story IS EXTREMELY SHADY AND VERY WRONG. I don’t believe that the entire media as a whole is liberal leaning. I do believe that the entire media as a whole, as Jon Stewert so eloquently put it, “are partisan, what do you call it, hacks”.
    http://www.ifilm.com/filmdetail?ifilmid=2652831
    http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0410/15/cf.01.html

  • Max Lybbert

    Well, Tito, I believe it is still possible for the Iraqis to pay for their own construction. I would also recommend watching Fahrenhype 9/11 for footage of how US troops have been received. I still remember a news interview with a recently-returned soldier who stated that Iraqi children would often guve US troops a heads up on where insurgents were hiding (the children called the insurgents “Ali Baba”).

    But, I can’t overlook the simple fact that history is full of states that stopped functioning overnight. In every case there was mass chaos and looting. If the Pentagon was actually suprised with the widespread looting after Baghdad fell, I can’t understand why.

    To that extent, I agree with you.

  • http://www.undecided2004.com Dave

    I believe the distinction here is that Clinton and others understood that the inspectors were doing exactly the job that needed doing–thwarting Sadaam’s ability to have any sort of useful weapons program. Clinton and others understood what the 9/11 commission confirmed and Bush later admitted. That even if the MATERIALS were there to create WMDs, try as he might, Sadaam could not have a weapons program while the inspectors were there.