16 Dec

On This Day in History…

                                       

“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.

And mark my words, he will develop weapons of mass destruction. He will deploy them, and he will use them. Because we are acting today, it is less likely that we will face these dangers in the future.”

President Bill Clinton – December 16, 1998

This entry was posted in The Clintons, The Iraqi War, This Day in History, War On Terror. Bookmark the permalink. Thursday, December 16th, 2010 at 9:24 am
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33 Responses to On This Day in History…

  1. Nan G says: 1

    Several people had families collect cash from Saddam after their suicide bombings killed Americans in Israel.

    Here’s ABC News from 2002:

    Saddam is very popular among many Palestinians because of his active support of the Palestinian cause and his missile attacks on Israel during the Gulf War.

    After 50 minutes of fiery speeches praising Saddam and Arafat and vilifying President Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, 25 Palestinians are called to the stage one by one. Each is handed a check — a gift from Saddam Hussein.

    Each recipient is the mother, father, wife or other close relative of either a suicide bomber…..

    One of the recipients is Nada Mahdi, a 22-year-old student, who arrived for the ceremony carrying her 3-month-old son, Ismail. Her husband, Mohammad, blew himself up last month trying to attack an Israeli military post in the Gaza Strip. There were no other injuries in the incident.

    “I am proud of him,” she says in Arabic after collecting her $25,000 check. “May God reward him.”

    In the two years of the renewed Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Iraq has given Palestinian families more than $10 million. Families of suicide bombers get $25,000 each…..

    It was April of 2002 that Saddam raised the reward for a suicide bomber from $10,000 up to $25,000.

    Between then and Saddam’s removal several American citizens were maimed or killed by these bombers.

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  2. DrJohn says: 2

    I believe this was the time when regime change in Iraq became the official policy of this country. And the Act was shepherded through Congress by one Tom Daschle.

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  3. Red Rage says: 3

    Dr … I think you are right. Look at Obama. He’s continuing the ‘Bush wars’ in Afghanistan and we still have lots of troops in Iraq.

    But the Dems want it both ways. They want to claim they are anti-war and blame the GOP for any problems, but then do the same as the Republicans would have done ….

    And the MSM don’t call them on it. Look at the attacks on Bush 43 and the lack of them on O, but the policies are roughly the same

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  4. oil guy from Alberta says: 4

    Like the mother bragging about her 3 sons, all suicide bombers. Her house is now empty. They blow up so fast.

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  5. Because we are acting today, it is less likely that we will face these dangers in the future.

    “Because we are acting today.”

    What was the action? Did Clinton send a land army to conquer Baghdad?

    Because of Clinton’s policies (sanctions, inspection, no fly zones, the odd cruise missile strike warnings), Saddam was contained, in the same way that a tag team relay of US Presidents, from Truman to GHW Bush, contained successive Soviet Premiers, until the Evil Empire gently collapsed under the watchful eye of Gorbachev.

    We do know that precious little was found in Iraq, by the time of the invasion, which posed a serious threat to the USA, so it would appear that the “Because we are acting today” strategy was at least as effective as the strategy which succeeded it, and did not inflict the human, political, and monetary damage.

    Supporters of the Iraq War have always used the quotes of the likes of Clinton and other Democrats to support the decision to proceed with the invasion. But all these people were doing was acknowledging the potential threat. They were not advocating a full scale land war in Asia as the appropriate way to contain this threat.

    What was the wisest and most effective way to deal with that threat?

    We won’t know for another 20 years.

    - Larry Weisenthal/Huntington Beach

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  6. Hard Right says: 6

    Iraq was contained? Larry, have you ever heard about the oil for food scandal? You are just hopeless.

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  7. @Hard (#6): Your suggestion that a major land war in Asia was the appropriate response to the oil for food scandal is duly noted.

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  8. Hard Right says: 8

    :roll: That’s what you said Larry, not me. Like I said, hopeless.

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  9. another vet says: 9

    There is no sense in debating whether or not Saddam was a threat. Given the previous evidence presented on FA numerous times before if anyone still chooses to believe he was Mr. Innocent, nothing will ever change that person’s mind. But we do need to clarify some facts here. Clinton’s policy was one of regime change. Sometimes that requires putting troops on the ground. Clinton, to his credit, also supported the invasion. Containment doesn’t work in every case. We ‘contained’ North Korea in the ’90′s and now they have nukes and threaten their neighbors at will with no fear of repercussions because everyone is afraid of them, us included. Rest assured, Iran is taking notes. These dictators know they can’t beat us militarily, but they do know they can use terrorists as their surrogates. Can they hit us with a nuclear missle or a large scale WMD attack using conventional weapons? Probably not. Can they give a dirty bomb or WMD material to a terrorist and have them smuggle it into our country and set it off? Yes, especially considering the refusal of those entrusted with securing our borders refusal to do so because of fear of losing votes.

    Let’s not forget that Clinton didn’t land an army in Baghdad or Afghanistan, but he did bomb the shit out of Bosnia and Kosovo and landed an army in both places. Having served in both of those places as well as Iraq, I can tell you that Saddam Hussein was a FAR bigger threat to our national security than Milosevic was. And as history has proven, Osama bin Laden was even a bigger threat.

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  10. So why don’t we invade Iran, which actually does have a well advanced nuclear enrichment program, and has moved far beyond alleged tentative moves to acquire “yellowcake?”

    Was Saddam in 2003 a greater threat to the USA than are the present day Iranian mullahs?

    Why did we support Saddam in the Iraq vs Iran War? Did Reagan consider Iran to be a greater threat?

    Are the Iranian mullahs grateful that we took out Saddam? Is Iran a greater or lesser threat, with Saddam gone?

    That’s why I wrote, it’ll take another 20 years to know which military decisions were good and which were bad.

    With respect to Milosevec vs Saddam, it’s apples and oranges. The Bosnian and Kosovo Wars were fought for humanitarian reasons and not for national defense. They were also simple, cheap little wars, and they were wars which had (and continues to have) nearly universal international approval.

    - Larry Weisenthal/Huntington Beach, CA

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  11. Old Trooper 2 says: 11

    So why don’t we invade Iran….

    We won’t because the CiC can’t handle a War. He may try to ‘organize’ them but he talks tall but falls short on Foreign Policy. As We say, “All Hat but No Cattle”

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  12. another vet says: 12

    Larry,

    Beats me why we don’t go after Iran. Perhaps we are waiting for Israel to do it since they seem to be the only ones who are willing to do so. One thing is also for certain, given the way certain politicians behaved with the war effort in Iraq, I wouldn’t count on them for support with Iran, especially if the going got tough.

    No one ever said Iran wasn’t a bigger threat than Iraq.

    We backed Iraq over Iran because at the time Iran was considered a bigger threat to our national interests. Remember the Iran hostage crisis? Let’s not forget, Roosevelt cozied up to Stalin before Hitler declared war on us because at the time Hitler was perceived as the bigger threat. Who turned out to be the bigger mass murderer?

    Iran was a threat both before and after the Iraq invasion. They will never be able to ally themselves with Saddam in the name of a common enemy- us.

    I agree in due time we’ll know how good of a decision it was. To me, it will be if a good decision becomes a great one. No doubt there were bad decisions made.

    Bosnia and Kosovo were civil wars. All sides comitted atrocities against each other. If you want to consider them fought for humanitarian reasons then why weren’t the Iraqi lives lost under Saddam considered just as valuable? I heard the horror stories firsthand from the people. It wasn’t pleasant. In one case all the males in a family from grandpa down to the youngest, eight in all, wisked away by Saddam’s henchmen never to be seen again. Was stopping that not humane?

    If the monetray cost and simplicity of a war is what we are going to base our decisions on, then perhaps we should have not tried so hard to get involved in WWII. It was avoidable up until Pearl Harbor.

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  13. Nan G says: 13

    That Chinese computer virus, STUXNET, seems to have successfully set the Iranians back two or more years.
    Point of fact, they haven’t even fixed the problem yet.
    And, yes, our President is a weenie.

    Recall that only 2+ months into GWBush’s 1st term he was faced with the delicate problem of trying to get our 24 member crew (three women) back from China after a Chinese jet and our Navy EP-3 collided and our pilot made a miraculous safe landing in China.
    The letter that got the crew released on April 20, 19 days later, is a master example of intentionally ambiguous language whereby China could save face while freeing our people.

    Now imagine the surrenderer-in-chief Obama in the same situation.
    Even two years in and…..
    We might have surrendered who-knows-what!

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  14. @another vet

    With regard to Bosnia, Kosovo vs Iraq, as far as “humanitarian” issues:

    I think that there are a couple of arguments, here. Firstly, there is the issue of cost and probability of success. As I wrote before, Bosnia and Kosovo were cheap and simple — in other words, they were doable. In Bosnia and Kosovo, we had the situations where there was ongoing war in a region of Europe which was notorious for having ethnic conflicts trigger great wars. This was Europe, and the wars had very strong European support.

    Iraq, at the time of the invasion, was a ruthless but stable dictatorship. It wasn’t all that different from England at the time of Elizabeth I. Rebel against the Queen, and she’ll disembowel you and burn your guts while you are still living. Rebel against Saddam, and he’ll gas you. The Shiites got gassed when they thought that the US would come to their aid following Operation Desert Storm and they rebelled against the King.

    But this stuff wasn’t going on at the time of the Iraq invasion in 2003. Saddam had put down his internal rebellions. Westerners were safe on the streets of Baghdad and Christians could openly practice their religion. The people had electricity. So there wasn’t a big ongoing humanitarian problem, and, at any rate, solving the humanitarian problems existing in Bosnia and Kosovo were relatively easily doable, while those in Iraq were orders of magnitude more problematic.

    - Larry Weisenthal/Huntington Beach

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  15. another vet says: 15

    Larry,

    You pretty much summed it up, they were European wars. Check out the recent surge of radical Islam in Europe. It wasn’t anywhere near as prevelant as it is today. A lot of them came to Europe after Bosnia because it opened the floodgates to those types. Now they have a foothold in Europe. Not very good strategically. And by the way, some of the folks who we sided with (the KLA as an example) aren’t exactly saints. Didn’t we get involved in another ethnic conflict over there in order to help determine its outcome that helped set the stage for another bigger war? Let’s wait and see on this one too. If monetary considerations are the basis for deciding whether or not we send Americans into harm’s way, then we have lost our moral compass.

    Hitler and Stalin had stable dictatorships as well, even more stable than Saddam. Should we have signed a non-agression pact with Hitler and never fought the Cold War with Stalin?

    What part of Iraq were you in that led you to the conclusion that there wasn’t a big ongoing humanitarian problem? Who said Westerners were safe? How much electricity did the Iraqis have? Saddam was still killing people. He was hording food from the Oil for Food Program that was supposed to be feeding the people and the list goes on. Just ask OT or Randy who post here. They were both there and can vouch for everything I just said as can anyone else who posts here who was there. The overwhelming majority of the people there were glad to see him go. That should tell you something.

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  16. Wm T Sherman says: 16

    Here is a site that has compiled statements by prominent Democrats made during the run-up to the Iraq invasion – quotes that the Democrats would like to send down the memory hole:

    http://www.freedomagenda.com/iraq/wmd_quotes.html

    And of course, there were both House and Senate Intelligence Committees that had the same intelligence reports as the White House did.

    Regime change in Iraq had been official US policy since the Clinton Administration. Congress voted to actually get on with it in 2003. I really, really dislike the double standard.

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  17. @vet:

    Firstly, I didn’t approve of/support the Bosnian/Kosovo wars, either. I also didn’t approve of/support the Vietnam War, as well of not approving of/supporting the Iraq War. At the time, I was neutral on Afghanistan; I simply didn’t have enough information. Now, in retrospect, I also think that this was a big mistake. In these respects, I’m squarely the soul mate of Ron Paul.

    I only discussed Bosnia/Kosovo in response to you bringing this up (for what reason, relative to Iraq, I’m not certain — as I said, they are apples and oranges).

    With respect to the overwhelming majority of Iraqis wanting to see Saddam go, that’s not the same thing as asking them was the war worth it, just to get rid of Saddam. All the formal polls I’ve ever seen say that the Iraqi people would not want the war, if there was the chance for a do over. The Kurds benefitted, for sure. They now have a de facto independent country. The Shiites benefitted — the got the power. The Iranians benefitted — they got the US to tap out its military resources to the breaking point, assuring that there is no threat whatsovever of the US ever invanding their country, plus they got a cabal of Shiite soul mates replacing their Sunni enemies. The Iraqi Sunnis lost, however, big time, and it remains to be seen if they’ll adjust and accept the new reality on a permanent basis.

    With respect to the statement about “monetary concerns” and “moral compass,” I wasn’t simply speaking of monetary costs — I was speaking about the human costs, as well. Both American and Iraqi. But it’s not an immoral position to say that we should do what we can, when it’s in our interest and when it’s a just and honorable thing to do, but that we should have the wisdom to realize that we can’t do everything for everyone. When you speak of a moral compass and monetary costs, you could very well be making the classic liberal argument for safety nets, with respect to domestic needs.

    Anyway, I really didn’t want to get into a broad discussion about whether or not the Iraq War was a good idea or not. I was merely addressing a very narrow issue — the issue being that conservatives are forever pulling out quotations from Democrats about how much said Democrats viewed Saddam to be a threat to US security, as if to say that the Iraq invasion was justified, because everyone agreed that Saddam was a threat.

    I, for one, viewed Saddam as a threat, but I felt (and continue to feel) that there were far better ways to deal with this threat than the one which was ultimately pursued. I don’t want to get into an argument about whether I’m right or wrong on this, I simply, again, want to make the point that agreeing that Saddam was a threat is not the same thing as tacitly endorsing the starting of a major land war to deal with this threat.

    P.S. The Bosnian and Kosovo wars have absolutely nothing to do with the Islamization of Europe, unless you are defending Serbian ethnic cleansing by violence as the preferred method of dealing with the growth of Islam and the decline of Western religions in Europe.

    - Larry Weisenthal/Huntington Beach, CA

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  18. another vet says: 18

    Larry,

    This is obviously an issue we’ll have to agree to disagree on. I appreciate the civil discourse. There are a couple of trolls who post here that I won’t give the time of day to because of their obnoxious, arrogant attitudes. As for Ron Paul, there are a lot of issues I agree with him on. The WOT isn’t one of them.

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  19. Liberty says: 19

    I repeat:

    I consider our most successful foreign policy was with Libya. There was a time when all you heard on the news was Qaddafi, Qaddafi, Qaddafi, till you were sick of it. Then one day a U.S. missile arrived at his front door. Suddenly there was silence and you rarely heard his name again. I bet most people today have no idea who Qaddafi is.
    It is beyond my understanding why Ahmadinejad’s plane did not mysteriously disappear over the mid-Atlantic. Bush: “ Gees! I don’t know what happened. Sorry to hear that. Would you like us to help search for the wreckage?”. After such a tragic accident I’d be willing to sit down and talk with Chavez, Hamas, and that Korean guy and I bet the talks would be very fruitful.
    The louder the anti-war crowd screams the bolder the dictators become. (05/29/08)

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  20. another vet says: 20

    Wm T Sherman #16,

    They are kind of between a rock and a hard place. Either they read the same reports, came to the same conclusions, and then dissed the war effort for political gain or they didn’t read the reports (kind of like the healthcare bill) and jumped on the invasion bandwagon for political gain and then dissed the war effort for more political gain. So according to their standards, they are either co-conspirators for selling us a “false bill of goods” or are too lazy to do their jobs and make informed decisions. Either way, with “friends” like that, who needs enemies.

    Liberty #19,

    The last statement is an understatement. You’d think we’d learn something from history.

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  21. We didn’t invade Libya with an army. The “anti-war” crowd doesn’t have a problem with cruise missiles (e.g. Clinton/Iraq) and it doesn’t have a problem with predator drones. It does have a major problem with land wars in Asia (e.g. Vietnam, Iraq). There’s a thousand fold difference between dropping a missile in the backyard of a tin horn Libyan and sending a half million Americans into Vietnam or 170,000 into Iraq.

    You wanna drop a missile on bin Laden? Be my guest. If Bush had sent in a drone to take out Saddam, he’d have been the hero of the planet. If Obama arranges for a personal tragedy to arrive in the backyard of Kim Jong Il, no one will shed tears.

    It’s called appropriate response.

    - Larry Weisenthal/Huntington Beach CA

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  22. another vet says: 22

    Larry,

    We are in agreement that no one wants to see Americans lose their lives. It would be nice if we could get rid of our enemies with cruise missiles, but unfortunately that’s easier said than done. If you recall, Bush did in fact try to take out Hussein with a cruise missile attack right before the invasion but we missed by a matter of minutes. Clinton tried to do the same with Osama bin Laden after the Cole attack and missed as well. Back in 2000 there was an interview in the Chicago Tribune with a senior Clinton administration official. I believe it may have been his press secretary. It concerned OBL and Al Qaeda. He admitted in the interview that the only way to get rid of them was by putting troops on the ground. They didn’t want to do that because of the poltical consequences associated with the cost of doing that both in lives and money. On 9/11 we paid dearly for that decision. Captured leaders from AQ even said that after 9/11 all they were expecting was a cruise missile attack so obviously they weren’t detered by the threat of cruise missiles. Sometimes checking the “Too hard” block comes back to bite you. If we had sent “boots on the ground” when bin Laden first declared war on us (1993) and launched his attacks on our forces in Mogadishu and on the WTC in 1993, 9/11 wouldn’t have happened and in the long run it would have saved numerous lives.

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  23. wordsmith says: 23

    @openid.aol.com/runnswim #10:

    So why don’t we invade Iran, which actually does have a well advanced nuclear enrichment program, and has moved far beyond alleged tentative moves to acquire “yellowcake?”

    Do you know this to be the case for sure? Don’t the Iranians deny it? And what if we had invaded Iran instead (one of the 3 comprising the “axis of evil” that Bush named) of Iraq? 7 years later, would you now be talking about the “Iranian quagmire” and wondering why we didn’t invade Iraq again, Saddam possibly being a metastasizing threat with weapons program ready to be reconstituted once sanctions were lifted? With al Qaeda operatives finding safe haven in Iraq after fleeing the battlefield in Afghanistan? Knowing full well from the Iraqi Perspectives Project that Saddam was steeped deep in cooperating, training, funding, both secular and YES religious terrorism?

    Was Saddam in 2003 a greater threat to the USA than are the present day Iranian mullahs?

    Was Iran in 2003 a greater threat then? Would Saddam today be a lesser threat?

    Why did we support Saddam in the Iraq vs Iran War? Did Reagan consider Iran to be a greater threat?

    To compliment another vet’s reply #12, Iran would still have been our ally had we shown stronger support for the deeply pro-American Shah, during the Carter years. So we exchanged a “bad” dictator who didn’t live up to our sanctimonious expectations for human rights for an even worse, anti-American theocratic regime with an even worse record of human rights abuses.

    @openid.aol.com/runnswim #17:

    I was merely addressing a very narrow issue — the issue being that conservatives are forever pulling out quotations from Democrats about how much said Democrats viewed Saddam to be a threat to US security, as if to say that the Iraq invasion was justified, because everyone agreed that Saddam was a threat.

    Part of this is because there are some Bush critics who wish to wash their hands of history. A history of perceiving Saddam as a growing and gathering threat. They cannot exonerate themselves of rhetoric they themselves said while at the same time claiming Bush “played upon our fears”; that “Bush lied”.

    At what point do we take action rather than keep issuing meaningless UN Resolutions and “harsh words” of reprimand? Has any of that approach made us safer from Iranian pursuit of a nuclear weapons program? North Korea? Do they take us seriously whenever we just wag our fingers at them and tell them they better stop it, or else? Or else what?! Saddam quit taking our threats seriously, based upon our past weak responses to his transgressions. He misunderestimated our 43rd president and was very much surprised when Bush actually said what he meant, and took us to war. At worst, Saddam was thinking Bush would lob a few cruise missiles at some more aspirin factories along with the usual harsh warnings, and it’d be back to business as usual.

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  24. @WS (#23)

    Quoting me:

    So why don’t we invade Iran, which actually does have a well advanced nuclear enrichment program, and has moved far beyond alleged tentative moves to acquire “yellowcake?”

    You say:

    Do you know this to be the case for sure? Don’t the Iranians deny it? And what if we had invaded Iran instead (one of the 3 comprising the “axis of evil” that Bush named) of Iraq? 7 years later, would you now be talking about the “Iranian quagmire” and wondering why we didn’t invade Iraq again, Saddam possibly being a metastasizing threat with weapons program ready to be reconstituted once sanctions were lifted? With al Qaeda operatives finding safe haven in Iraq after fleeing the battlefield in Afghanistan? Knowing full well from the Iraqi Perspectives Project that Saddam was steeped deep in cooperating, training, funding, both secular and YES religious terrorism?

    Compare the status of Saddam’s uranium enrichment program (non-existent) with that of Iran (far advanced), and then compare Saddam’s terrorist support with that of Iran (which basically founded Hezbollah).

    http://www.cfr.org/publication/9513/terrorism_havens.html#p6

    What type of terrorist groups did Iraq support under Saddam Hussein’s regime?

    Primarily groups that could hurt Saddam’s regional foes. Saddam has aided the Iranian dissident group Mujahadeen-e-Khalq and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (known by its Turkish initials, PKK), a separatist group fighting the Turkish government. Moreover, Iraq has hosted several Palestinian splinter groups that oppose peace with Israel , including the mercenary Abu Nidal Organization, whose leader, Abu Nidal, was found dead in Baghdad in August 2002. Iraq has also supported the Islamist Hamas movement and reportedly channeled money to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers. A secular dictator, however, Saddam tended to support secular terrorist groups rather than Islamist ones such as al-Qaeda, experts say.

    In April of 2007, Bush Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet stated (in a 60 Minutes interview):

    http://www.salon.com/news/politics/war_room/2007/04/30/snow/index.html

    “we could never verify that there was any Iraqi authority, direction and control, complicity with al-Qaida for 9/11 or any operational act against America, period.”

    With respect to speculation about Saddam reconstituting weapons programs after sanctions and arms inspections regimes were lifted, what evidence can you offer that they’d ever have been lifted? The concept of Iraq being a potential “safe haven” for terrorists has to be the most overblown justification for full scale, pre-emptive war that has ever been offered. Let’s invade Yemen. Let’s invade Pakistan. Let’s go on to invade Europe, for that matter. Let’s invade the US Army medical corps.

    You say:

    To compliment another vet’s reply #12, Iran would still have been our ally had we shown stronger support for the deeply pro-American Shah, during the Carter years. So we exchanged a “bad” dictator who didn’t live up to our sanctimonious expectations for human rights for an even worse, anti-American theocratic regime with an even worse record of human rights abuses.

    If you want to go back in time and blame former Presidents, why don’t you Google: Shah of Iran 1953 and read about how the Shah came into power. Eisenhower’s administration arguably made the two worst decisions in post WWII American history when it (1) overthrew the democratically elected (and secular) government of Iran and installed the Shah as military dictator and (2) abrogated the Geneva accords and prevented the Vietnamese reunification elections.

    As far as Carter not supporting the Shah, it’s a big stretch to assert that the USA could have done anything to prevent the Iranian revolution, which was not some inside job coup d’etat but was overwhelmingly supported by the Iranian people, who paralyzed the country with a series of crippling strikes. What could Carter have done? Invoked the Taft-Hartley act and ordered the strikers back to work? I lived in Washington DC (actually Bethesda) between 1977 and 1979 and I vividly remember large anti-Shah demonstrations by Iranian-Americans. “Shah is a US puppet, down with the Shah,” they chanted “Down with Carter.” One demonstration was so large that I had to detour around it on the way home after picking up my father at National (now Reagan) airport. And this was Washington DC, not Tehran!

    You conclude:

    there are some Bush critics who wish to wash their hands of history. A history of perceiving Saddam as a growing and gathering threat. They cannot exonerate themselves of rhetoric they themselves said while at the same time claiming Bush “played upon our fears”; that “Bush lied”.

    At what point do we take action rather than keep issuing meaningless UN Resolutions and “harsh words” of reprimand? Has any of that approach made us safer from Iranian pursuit of a nuclear weapons program? North Korea? Do they take us seriously whenever we just wag our fingers at them and tell them they better stop it, or else? Or else what?! Saddam quit taking our threats seriously, based upon our past weak responses to his transgressions. He misunderestimated our 43rd president and was very much surprised when Bush actually said what he meant, and took us to war. At worst, Saddam was thinking Bush would lob a few cruise missiles at some more aspirin factories along with the usual harsh warnings, and it’d be back to business as usual.

    You are asserting that the inspections and sanctions regimes were not effective. But you previously acknowledged (albeit tacitly) that they were effective, saying that Saddam could conceivably be back in business, in the event that the sanctions and inspections were ever lifted. The fact is that the sanctions and inspections were effective, notwithstanding oil for food and whatever.

    I just don’t think that it’s a good idea to start land wars in Asia because of the concept of “potential threats.” Yemen is a potential threat. Iran is a potential threat. Pakistan is a potential threat. North Korea is a potential threat. Down the road, maybe even Turkey (see below) will become a potential threat.

    The history of our attempt to keep Asia in line through the use of CIA black ops and military invasions is one of the greatest illustrations of the laws of unintended consequences which you can find anywhere.

    I had a Turkish scientist visiting my laboratory business over the past 10 days and we discussed the politics of his region. Turkey now has the first devout Muslim President in its entire history, since the founding of the modern Turkish state by Ataturk, following WWI. Now that the Turks have been repeatedly rebuffed by the European Union, they are looking more to strengthen their political ties with Iran, which the Turks view as having an educated and proficient populace, in contradistinction to the Arab countries in the region. Turkey famously denied American forces the ability to stage a Northern front to the Iraq invasion, leaving US troop ships circling around and around and finally forcing them to take the long detour to Kuwait. Turkey used to be a de facto supporter of Israel and a reliable US ally, but this has changed, and the USA now has about a 10% approval rating among the Turkish people.

    What shall it profit a nation, to depose Saddam, only to lose Turkey? I know that this is simplistic, but the point I’m making is that the ability of the US to shape the world in its image through the use of military power is forever frustrated by the immutable law of unintended consequences.

    - Larry Weisenthal/Huntington Beach, CA

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  25. Missy says: 25

    @openid.aol.com/runnswim:

    Your Salon source:

    A secular dictator, however, Saddam tended to support secular terrorist groups rather than Islamist ones such as al-Qaeda, experts say.

    Scott has already done a lengthy blog regarding the Pentagon Report’s review of documents found in Iraq…..the report was published in the spring of 2008, it’s been in the sidebar for quite sometime:

    Pentagon Report Confirms Saddam’s Regime Supported al Qaida

    http://www.floppingaces.net/2008/03/15/pentagon-rpt-confirms-saddams-regime-supported-al-qaida/

    Saddam’s Dangerous Friends
    What a Pentagon review of 600,000 Iraqi documents tells us.

    Among the study’s other notable findings:

    In 1993, as Osama bin Laden’s fighters battled Americans in Somalia, Saddam Hussein personally ordered the formation of an Iraqi terrorist group to join the battle there.

    For more than two decades, the Iraqi regime trained non-Iraqi jihadists in training camps throughout Iraq.

    According to a 1993 internal Iraqi intelligence memo, the regime was supporting a secret Islamic Palestinian organization dedicated to “armed jihad against the Americans and Western interests.”

    In the 1990s, Iraq’s military intelligence directorate trained and equipped “Sudanese fighters.”

    In 1998, the Iraqi regime offered “financial and moral support” to a new group of jihadists in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq.

    In 2002, the year before the war began, the Iraqi regime hosted in Iraq a series of 13 conferences for non-Iraqi jihadist groups.

    That same year, a branch of the Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS) issued hundreds of Iraqi passports for known terrorists.

    http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/014/889pvpxc.asp

    You might want to visit the archives, all of our hosts have done extensive research and posted many blogs. Scott has read every single report that has ever been released and shared the finding here.

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  26. @missy (#25). First, thanks for the comments. Just one correction, the quote wasn’t from a “Salon source,” it was from the Council on Foreign Relations. The Salon link was simply a direct quote from Bush CIA Chief George Tenet, made on “60 Minutes.” The quote is worth repeating:

    “we could never verify that there was any Iraqi authority, direction and control, complicity with al-Qaida for 9/11 or any operational act against America, period.”

    With due respect to Scott’s scholarship, he was basically looking at raw material, which American intelligence clearly examined and clearly discounted.

    We could argue this back and forth, with dueling quotations and citations. I’ll toss out just one:

    http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=9352

    But I’d rather explain the way that I view such claims. It’s very similar to the die hards who maintain that Saddam really did have active WMD programs after all, citing finds of 1980s vintage poison gas ordnance and various and sundry captured Iraqi documents. Or (even more of a reach), claiming that Saddam shipped his WMD stashes to Syria for “safe keeping” on the eve of the invasion, citing a turncoat Iraqi general who got rich on the neoconservative lecture circuit.

    The problem with all these claims (including the 600,000 captured documents) is that the people with the most to gain by citing these, including President Bush — while he was in office; in his final “exit interview” and, now, in his memoir — don’t endorse these claims.

    Why didn’t Bush say: “Saddam had WMD, afterall; we found them.” Or “Saddam had WMD, only he sent them to Syria.” Or “Saddam was really complicit with Al Qaeda, and we’ve got the documents to prove it.”

    Silence. Well, actually more than that. On three different occasions (including during his final “exit interview,” President Bush was asked why there were no WMD found, when this had been offered as the prime justification for the War. On each occasion, he simply responded “bad intelligence.”

    In any event, the issue here is whether the simple fact that a person (in this case, a Democrat) endorses the concept that Saddam was a bad actor, who was potentially capable of causing damage to American interests and to Americans, means that said person/Democrat would then agree that the correct way to deal with the Saddam threat was to invade Iraq with our Army and overthrow their government. No, this is simply not true. I for one had no difficulty believing that Saddam was a bad guy (his invasion of Kuwait during the very week that the venture capital backed company I founded back in the 80s was to have its Wall Street initial public offering probably cost me the best chance I’ll have to make some serious money; so I had no fondness for the guy).

    Yes, Saddam was a bad guy. No, a land war in Asia wasn’t the best way to handle him. In my personal opinion.

    - Larry Weisenthal/Huntington Beach, CA

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  27. Wordsmith says: 27

    @openid.aol.com/runnswim #24:

    Compare the status of Saddam’s uranium enrichment program (non-existent) with that of Iran (far advanced),

    Did you know at the time the decision to remove Saddam was made that Saddam’s uranium enrichment program was “non-existence”? What are your sources of information in claiming that Iran’s is “far advanced”?

    and then compare Saddam’s terrorist support with that of Iran (which basically founded Hezbollah).

    http://www.cfr.org/publication/9513/terrorism_havens.html#p6

    The link hasn’t been updated since 2005. It still sells the perspective on a “secular Saddam” not cooperating with religious fanatics for mutual short-term goals. The Iraqi Perspectives Project came out when? 2007? It clearly shows Saddam provided extensive support for both domestic and exported terrorism.

    In April of 2007, Bush Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet stated (in a 60 Minutes interview):

    http://www.salon.com/news/politics/war_room/2007/04/30/snow/index.html

    “we could never verify that there was any Iraqi authority, direction and control, complicity with al-Qaida for 9/11 or any operational act against America, period.”

    Uh…so? Where did Bush claim “Iraqi authority, direction and control” were complicit with al Qaeda in the operating the events of 9/11? When did that become part of the official case pushed for going to war? (Tenet, btw, is trying to point fingers elsewhere in his Pelley interview and feels wronged by those who want to blame him for the war decision).

    It was Tenet’s CIA that over-sold the wmd case against Iraq with dated intelligence and not being forth-right about it with the White House, and underplaying any potential al Qaeda connection because of a preconceived, prejudicial belief that a “secular Saddam” would never ever cooperate and do business with religious terrorists he could not control or trust. Furthermore, al Qaeda is just a name-brand and we are more properly at war with a global jihad movement of which al Qaeda is the figurehead. Was Zarqawi al Qaeda? KSM? Zubaydah? No…and yes. It is al Qaeda and AFFILIATES who are at war with us. Which is why President Bush made clear from the very beginning,

    “Our war on terror begins with al Qaeda, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated.”
    -President Bush in an address to a Joint Session of Congress and the American People, United States Capitol, Washington D.C., September 20, 2001.

    The wmd angle was oversold (Feith believes it wasn’t even necessary) to the American public. It was only one of a number of cases put forth as to why Saddam needed to be removed from power. Part of the case included capability and intent, of which the Duelfer Report makes clear was indeed present with regards to Saddam and his love for acquiring wmd.

    1441, the 17th Resolution put forth, made clear that the burden of proof was upon Saddam. Not on UN inspectors. Not on the rest of the world. Saddam didn’t come clean. After 16 such previous resolutions, why on earth should he believe “serious consequences” will be carried out as opposed to an 18th (an attempt for such was made) followed by 19th and 20th resolution? This makes the world less safe, not more safe, by continuing the charade and world stage sabre-rattling.

    Larry writes:

    With respect to speculation about Saddam reconstituting weapons programs after sanctions and arms inspections regimes were lifted, what evidence can you offer that they’d ever have been lifted?

    Well….. ;)

    First off, obviously Saddam had the intent.

    Iraq Survey Group Report:

    Key Findings: Regime Strategic Intent
    * Saddam Husayn so dominated the Iraqi Regime that its strategic intent was his alone. He wanted to end sanctions while preserving the capability to reconstitute his weapons of mass destruction (WMD) when sanctions were lifted.
    * The introduction of the Oil-For-Food program in late 1996 rescued Baghdad’s economy from a terminal decline created by sanctions. The Regime quickly came to see that OFF could be corrupted to acquire foreign exchange both to further undermine sanctions and to provide the means to enhance dual-use infrastructure and potential WMD-related development.
    * The former Regime had no formal written strategy or plan for the revival of WMD after sanctions. Neither was there an identifiable group of WMD policy makers or planners separate from Saddam. Instead, his lieutenants understood WMD revival was his goal from their long association with Saddam and his infrequent, but firm, verbal comments and directions to them.

    Oil-for-Food undermined sanctions, with UN officials bribed.

    Saddam was actively engaged with France, Russia, and China (they had vested economic interests in seeing the survival of Saddam’s regime, hence their non-support of a 2nd UN resolution from the Bush WH) to have sanctions lifted with bribes of oil contracts and debt repayments.

    The concept of Iraq being a potential “safe haven” for terrorists has to be the most overblown justification for full scale, pre-emptive war that has ever been offered. Let’s invade Yemen. Let’s invade Pakistan. Let’s go on to invade Europe, for that matter. Let’s invade the US Army medical corps.

    The dangers that Saddam posed to world and regional stability didn’t just begin on Bush’s watch. It wasn’t a Bush-era fabrication. There is a decade-long history of defiance and deception there, and that is what the Bush Administration built its case on. Things don’t just have a reset button when a new administration comes in. Bush took official U.S. policy to its rightful conclusion in a post-9/11 world. Prior to 9/11, we were willing to tolerate through a sense of “containment”. After 9/11, that view changed with Bush.

    100s of foreign fighters, including al Qaeda fighters, fled the battlefields of Afghanistan for Iraq. The whole world- Germany, France, Great Britain, Russia, China, Egypt- had a belief in Saddam’s WMD status (with the “not knowing” aspect just as nerve-wracking for the world), in part, because of Saddam’s own desire to perpetuate the perception. What the Bush Administration sought to do was to follow through on its “zero tolerance” approach to its rhetoric regarding terrorism and make an example out of Iraq. Because of Saddam’s extensive ties to terrorism, his known love for wmd, we wanted to avoid the possibility of Saddam using terrorists as proxies in carrying out wmd-related attacks against the U.S. and U.S. interests. I believe that was a very real, legitimate concern.

    If you want to go back in time and blame former Presidents, why don’t you Google: Shah of Iran 1953 and read about how the Shah came into power. Eisenhower’s administration arguably made the two worst decisions in post WWII American history when it (1) overthrew the democratically elected (and secular) government of Iran and installed the Shah as military dictator and (2) abrogated the Geneva accords and prevented the Vietnamese reunification elections.

    What was the legitimacy of Mossadeq’s rule? He intimidated and terrorized political opponents, staged rigged elections, declared martial law in 1951, dissolved the supreme court and parliament in 1953, reneged on agreements with the British and seized (i.e., stole) billions of dollars worth of infrastructure- pipelines, oil refineries and derricks; leading the Brits to call upon the Americans to help them with a COUNTER-coup.

    Remember, too, that this was happening amidst the backdrop of the Cold War and there were honest fears he was moving into the sphere of influence of the Soviets.

    What we’ve done is protect what was in America’s national interest at the time. ALL nations act upon their interests. Not just the U.S. No alliances are permanent. So I’m just a bit tired of hearing the “Rumsfeld shook hands with Saddam”-mode of reasoning (touched upon by your “Why did we support Saddam in the Iraq vs Iran War?” questioning).

    1/2 of the rise in Islamic militancy begins with the Khomeinites coming to power with the overthrow of the Shah.

    Question: Is Iran better off today under the current regime or under the previous one that fell?

    Did we exchange a “brutal” dictator- one who was deeply pro-American to a fault, who brought Iran into modernity and promoted women’s rights- for an even more brutal regime- one that is staunchly anti-American, responsible for terrorism, is dangerously theocratic, and repressive to women? Why don’t the anti-Americans use our failure of 1979 in not supporting our pro-American ally as an American shame, instead of using 1953 as our disgrace?

    In foreign policy, there is the principle of the lesser of two evils.

    The Shah was clearly the lesser of two evils. And Iran and the U.S. (and the world) would have been better off today had the rise of Islamic militancy not seized governance of Iran.

    @openid.aol.com/runnswim @26: Yes, Bush doesn’t argue that Iraq had the wmd that we- and most in the world thought- he had. But he holds fast that based upon what he had before him in available intelligence, he made the right decision. He believes that the world is safer and better off without Saddam and his murderous sons still in power. The burden of proof was put upon Saddam to come clean. Saddam is responsible for bringing us to war and for his own demise. He didn’t believe that this president meant business. Because after surviving for over a decade of defiance and deception and thumbing his nose at the UN Security Council, he assumed wrongly that this president would be no different than his predecessors in not having the cajones to follow through on threats of taking action.

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  28. Wordsmith says: 28

    No wonder I have Déjà vu.

    Larry, people have responded to your questions in the past. Yet you must not like the answers ’cause you keep re-asking the same questions. Never evolving the questions based upon subsequent answers? To move the argument further forward, rather than statically in the same place?

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  29. Wordsmith says: 29

    And here and a bit here. I know there’s more, too.

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  30. MataHarley says: 30

    I guess this was a part of “this day in history” you didn’t plan on, eh Wordsmith? The multiple “these days in history”, that Larry uses the same approach as some sort of proof.

    I will say the same there here that I said back then…

    Let me ask you this, Larry…. you have someone diagnosed with cancer, so you set about to treat it. Would you rather concentrate your energy focus to the family on the treatment and it’s progress? Or would you rather argue day and night with the family about whether embarking on that treatment was justified? The former is implementing what you feel is best for the patient. The latter is just a verbal quagmire where there is always room for argument, and a moot point as the treatment has commenced.

    Point is our intel knew of the Saddam connections with Zawahiri since 1993 and Somalia under Clinton. They were well aware that Zawahiri was a major moving force in AQ since his merge of his EIJ and AQ in the late 90s. They were also aware of the terrorists training camps Saddam allowed with a blind eye. None of this information was “need to know” by the public, and was not released formally to the public until the Iraqi Perspectives Report… a document that examined Saddam’s internal memos and regime that confirmed all that the intel had stated INRE his relationship with the jihad movements.

    I will add, one more time, that the removal of Saddam was not purely because of WMD. That was, however, the only way to get the “international community”… or in the real language speak, NATO. You know, that bunch who’ve managed to let Afghanistan deteriorate since they assumed complete control?… to lend some support. And the demand for international support was a liberal cry.

    Congress, however, wasn’t that stupid. In their AUMF, they cited over 23 “whereas” reasons for removing Saddam, only 7 of which were related to WMD. oops… Clinton also advocated regime change, and noted so in his Iraqi Freedom Act in the 90s. This is not an unusual position, or a shot in the dark type of policy.

    As was back then, there is no use arguing the merits or errors of Saddam’s removal from power. There will always be disagreement. Those who vehemently oppose it will always consider themselves unquestionably right. Odd concept when you have no parallel universe to see how Saddam’s underground relationship with the terrorists he encouraged in his borders would have advanced. But butting your head against brick walls for differeing views, and with no hope of being reconciled, is simply a waste of time.

    There is a difference tho. Those who believe, like Larry, that Bush’s refusal to press the issues for whatever reasons is vindication. Those like me believe that Saddam’s dangerous underground alliances, that could be documented, could not be left to proliferation. Iraq.. the heart of the Caliphate… is the gold mine in the middle east for both financial and resource wealth (oil and fresh waters). It was a prize coveted, and would always be exploited as long as Saddam was there to casually turn a blind eye and allow it. ‘Tisn’t unusual for “enemies” to unite in Islam to fight a common enemy.. the west, and in Saddam’s case, the US. The Harmony/ISG documents proved he was doing just that, and was not “contained”, as Larry claims erroneously he was.

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  31. @wordsmith (#27,28,29). As I keep saying, I am not currently “up” for an extended Iraq debate. It’s something I’d like to do, eventually. I’ve been wanting to do this for more than a year, now, but I just don’t have the time it would take, as yet. I’ve debated Iraq a lot, in other Internet venues (Usenet, on alt.politics.usa.republican and on the Orange County Register Community discussion boards). But you guys here (on F/A) really are well informed experts; so I’d enjoy it. But it’s a huge effort, when I’m not just debating you, but debating Mata and the rest of the gang, as well. One against many. It’s why I let it go in the past (your #28 and 29).

    My limited objective in commenting on this thread was simply to make the point that one could believe that Saddam was a very evil man, and even a potentially serious threat to the USA, and still not agree that the best way to deal with this threat was to invade Iraq and overthrow the government, via the US military.

    At the present time, it’s just an academic discussion. I was never one of those “Bush lied; people died” partisans. I believe that Bush did what he did because he thought it was the right thing to do. I thought that invading Iraq was the wrong thing to do, at the time (I predicted on alt.politics.usa.republican in March, 2003, in advance of the invasion, that no WMD would be found, for example, and the WMD were of profound importance to the international legitimacy of the war, as well as the support of the American people. I still think it was the wrong thing to do. You come up with post hoc justifications; I think it’s clear that these justifications would not legitimatize preemptive war, from the standpoint of the United Nations, nor would they have garnered the domestic political support required for supporting the war effort.

    I remember Colin Powell’s case to the United Nations. He could not have made a supportable case, using your post hoc arguments. The President of the United States may have been a good and even wise man, but he does not have nor should he have unlimited power to wage war, based on his sole judgement. He clearly believed that Saddam had active WMD programs; Colin Powell believed it as well. And it was on this basis that the case was made to wage a major land war in Asia.

    It was a mistake grounded in “bad intelligence,” as the President repeatedly asserted.

    As to the persuasiveness of your post hoc arguments for war; that’s a topic of interest, but it’s only academic interest, at this point. What’s done is done.

    I’m still not finished with a topic of more immediate importance, which is the discussion on tax and deficit reduction policy, which I have currently ongoing with Mata.

    Down the road, I’d like to have the chance to dissect Iraq, to the bitter end, if that’s where the discussion goes.

    P.S. with respect to Iran. It’s not a question of whether the USA is better off with the Mullahs or with the Shah. I explained this earlier. The USA didn’t remove the Shah and Carter didn’t abandon the Shah. The Shah’s position became untenable, because he was opposed by a very large majority of his own people, who, among other things, waged massive labor strikes on a national scale which basically shut the country down. Carter had no power whatsoever to do anything about this level of internal Iranian disorder. You perhaps think that he should have sent in American troops to support the Shah and force the Iranians back to work.

    And then there is the immutable law of unintended consequences, which continues to play out, all over West to South Asian continent. Which is why the ultimate consequences of the Iraq War will not be understood for another 20 years.

    P.P.S.S. With regard to the following sequence of quotes and comments:

    You quote me, quoting Tenet:

    In April of 2007, Bush Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet stated (in a 60 Minutes interview):

    http://www.salon.com/news/politics/war_room/2007/04/30/snow/index.html

    “we could never verify that there was any Iraqi authority, direction and control, complicity with al-Qaida for 9/11 or any operational act against America, period.”

    You respond, thusly:

    “Uh…so? Where did Bush claim “Iraqi authority, direction and control” were complicit with al Qaeda in the operating the events of 9/11? When did that become part of the official case pushed for going to war?”

    This is of relevance for the following reason. It is true that President Bush never came right out and stated that Saddam was complicit with Al Qaeda with respect to the events of 9/11. However, in each and every speech related to the Saddam in the run up to the invasion of March, 2003, President Bush repeatedly juxtaposed the name of Saddam Hussein and the events of 9/11. In my Internet commentary of the time, I repeatedly pointed this out. He’d start talking about Saddam, then he’d morph over to 9/11, then he’d go back to Saddam, and then finish with some reference to 9/11. The result was that, at the time of the invasion, over 70% of Americans believed that Saddam was directly complicit in 9/11. It was for this reason, along with the belief that Saddam did indeed have active WMD programs, that the majority of the American people supported a full-scale US Army land war as a reasonable and necessary course of action. I don’t think that there is any chance that the War could have been successfully “sold,” based on your post hoc arguments, which, in any event, are open to some question, as we’ll probably discuss in the future.

    - Larry Weisenthal/Huntington Beach, CA

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  32. Nan G says: 32

    For about 12 years we spent about $500,000 per sortie as our men patrolled the north and the south ”no-fly zones” in Iraq.
    Think about that.
    Several sorties a day, 1/2 million dollars each, in both north and south, every day for ~4,380 days.
    And it wasn’t deterring Saddam one little bit.
    In point of fact, Saddam would have loved for it to go on like that forever!
    If you were up on the ”oil-for-food” scandal, you know Saddam was enriching himself, building bunkers and starving his own people all the while.
    He also paid men’s families when they died killing Americans.
    (They also killed ”people of the book” and infidels, too.)
    Up until 2002 he paid $10,000 whenever a suicide bomber blew himself up.
    After Feb of 2002 he paid $25,000 for the same act.
    And the world saw many, many more suicide bombings because of Saddam.
    One of the Wikileaks pointed out that YES, Saddam was collecting yellowcake uranium with an eye toward enriching it.
    I really don’t know how poor Joe Wilson could have missed it.

    Hindsight is much more likely to be 20/20 so I won’t debate the ”perfect, what coulda, shoulda happened” over what was done, but go ahead, 2nd guess all you want.

    Voltaire once wrote:

    The perfect is the enemy of the good.

    Too true.

    The Bible put it this way:

    ”He who is watching the wind (for perfect conditions) will not sow seed; and he that is looking at the clouds (again for perfect conditions) will not reap.” Ecclesiastes 11:4.

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  33. @wordsmith: Iranian politics/history, continued.

    I have a very good friend, who came from Iran to be a student in the USA in 1977. He ended up staying here, became an American citizen and is now a successful businessman. I asked him to tell me the story of Iran, from an Iranian point of view. Here’s what he told me:

    Prior to 1953, Iran was a quasi-constitutional monarchy. The Iranian Prime Minister (Mohammad Mosaddegh) was a popular, elected politician. Of all the modern-day Iranian politicians, Mosaddegh remains the most respected, among the Iranian people, because he is the only one who was a bona fide Iranian nationalist, putting the interests of the country above all else, including personal interests and religion.

    There was a power struggle between the Shah and Mosaddegh; the latter wanted the Shah to be basically a British-style ceremonial monarch, while the Shah wanted power. The country was behind Mosaddegh; the Shah went into a brief exile. Mosaddegh then moved to nationalize the British Petroleum holdings in Iran, which was a popular move. The UK and the USA, to protect western oil interests, through the CIA, deposed Mosaddegh and installed the Shah.

    In the early 1960s, President Kennedy forced the Shah to make reforms which were of benefit to the people: education, health care, etc.

    Fast forward to the late 1970s. The Shah had carefully cultivated ties with the Iranian religious establishment, including putting fundamentalist Muslims in positions of military and civilian power. He did this, ironically, to gain protection against efforts to overthrow him. He stated an intention not to renew a 60 year contract with BP, which would lead, after all, to Iranian nationalism of its oil industry. The main power which the USA had over Iran at that time was basically command and control of the high tech weapon systems which the USA had sold to Iran. For example, Iran purchased AWACs aircraft from the USA, but these were flown by American pilots and manned by American crews. This turned out to be rather limited leverage.

    The Shah was viewed by both British and Americans to be an unreliable partner, and we and the Brits felt that it would not necessarily be a bad thing, were he to be replaced by democratic governance. Both stood back at the very beginnings of unrest; the USA withdrew the AWACs planes and crews. The Shah felt that he could count on the support of the religious groups he’d been cultivating; however, they were among the first to turn against him.

    My friend tells me that 80% of Iranians at the time were opposed to the Shah and wanted to see him deposed, in favor of democratic governance. Very quickly, the Shah’s position became untenable, with the nation essentially shut down by massive strikes. Interestingly, my friend tells me, the Iranian embassy tried to get all Iranian nationals to return home, to support the Shah. My friend was given airline tickets to fly back to Iran and $345 in circa 1978 dollars, which would be more than $1000 today, inflation-adjusted. He, along with virtually everyone else, pocketed the $345 and didn’t use the airline tickets.

    The last thing my friend told me was that there was a prominent Iranian Air Force general who volunteered to personally shoot down the plane which was taking the Ayatollah Khomeini back to Iran. The general said that he’d take personal responsibility for whatever happened thereafter, but the Shah turned down his offer. No one predicted the outcome and aftermath of the Iranian Revolution, least of all the Iranians.

    Law of unintended consequences.

    I conclude that we made a mistake in 1953 with respect to deposing Mosaddegh and installing the Shah and that this had the unintended consequence of resulting in the modern day Iranian theocracy.

    What’s interesting about Mosaddegh is that he was an Ataturk disciple (in being a strident secularist). The only reason for getting rid of him was to protect BP from being nationalized. Seems like a bad deal, looking back.

    - Larry Weisenthal/Huntington Beach, CA

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