Friday, June 23, 2006

WMDs and true believers

There are those who remain convinced that prewar intelligence was not incorrect--that Saddam was still cranking out WMDs prior to the war, and that these weapons are hidden somewhere and could be found if a proper search were ever to be mounted.

And, according to this NY Times article, this group is not limited to fringe-y lunatics. Those espousing the view, and who are still trying actively engage an effective search, include such figures as:

...retired Air Force lieutenant general, Thomas G. McInerney, a commentator on the Fox News Channel who has broadcast that weapons are in three places in Syria and one in Lebanon, moved there with Russian help on the eve of the war.

"I firmly believe that, and everything I learn makes my belief firmer," said Mr. McInerney, who retired in 1994. "I'm amazed that the mainstream media hasn't picked this up."

Also among the weapons hunters is Duane R. Clarridge, a long-retired officer of the Central Intelligence Agency who said he thought that the weapons had been moved to Sudan by ship.

"And we think we know which ship," Mr. Clarridge said in a recent interview.


Are these guys the equivalent, on the right, of those who believe that 9/11 was planned and orchestrated by Bush (the latter of whom, by the way, are not shy about spamming me to tell me so, day after livelong day)?

No; McInerney and Clarridge seem more rooted in realistic possibilities, although I have come to believe that the probability of their being correct at this point is 10% or less (and probably much less, at that).

But the task of ascertaining whether any post-1991 WMDs are still kicking around somewhere is a difficult one. How can one prove whether something purported to be hidden does or does not exist?

The only way the issue could be absolutely resolved is by either of these two things occurring:

(1) A post-1991 WMD cache is found; or

(2) Every inch of the earth, including underground to a reasonable depth, is searched and found to be empty of post-1991 WMDs.

Since #2 is not possible, the possibility of #1 remains, although the likelihood of its occurrence shrinks over time.

When a person is heavily invested in a particular thing being true, it is ordinarily very difficult to give up the idea that it is so. This is the case whether the believer is on the left or on the right. In my opinion, those in the middle are less likely to be so firmly anchored to their beliefs in the face of overwhelming evidence, for the simple reason that their identities are not so deeply and rigidly tied to them in the first place.

30 Comments:

At 1:37 PM, June 23, 2006, Blogger Ariel said...

"In my opinion, those in the middle are less likely to be so firmly anchored to their beliefs in the face of overwhelming evidence, for the simple reason that their identities are not so deeply and rigidly tied to them in the first place."

That statement so sums up what has been going on on this blog (comments), in this country, and around the Western world.

 
At 1:40 PM, June 23, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

I like WMDs. But I like winning more.

 
At 3:24 PM, June 23, 2006, Blogger Fausta said...

according to this NY Times article, this group is not limited to fringe-y lunatics

Including the NYT itself: "The United Nations has determined that Saddam Hussein shipped weapons of mass destruction components as well as medium-range ballistic missiles before, during and after the U.S.-led war against Iraq in 2003".

article abstract: "Demetrius Perricos, acting head of United Nations inspectors office, tells Security Council that equipment and material that could have been used to produce banned weapons and long-range missiles have been emptied from Iraqi sites since war started and shipped abroad; says many of items bear tags placed on them by UN inspectors as suspect dual-use materials; cites discovery of engines from banned missile in scrap yards in Netherlands and Jordan"

 
At 4:42 PM, June 23, 2006, Blogger gcotharn said...

Certainly there were WMD in Iraq - as has been reported, and buried deep inside, gobs of written stories. It is a lie to say "There were no WMD in Iraq."

So, we're arguing (and sloganizing) about degree:
How big a threat were the WMD which were there? And how big a threat was Saddam?

Its an argument our nation actually ought to be having, as it will impact our national response to future instances of threat. However, we should have this national discussion in a serious fashion. "There were no WMD" is a simplification which rises to the level of a lie. Those who speak this lie are unserious, dangerous persons.

 
At 5:09 PM, June 23, 2006, Blogger gcotharn said...

I am touchy about the whole "in the middle" thing. There is grace and righteousness in not letting one's emotions cloud one's clear-eyed judgment. We can be gracefully righteous from the left, the middle, or the right. Or we can be less gracefully righteous from the left, the middle, or the right. I know "moderates" who walk in clouds of self-generated smug which are toxic to all bystanders. Neo, you did not exactly slander me for being on the right. But, since I'm touchy, I nevertheless leapt to over-react in my own defense!

 
At 6:15 PM, June 23, 2006, Blogger Proud Neocon said...

"Earth hottest it's been in 2,000 years"

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060623/ap_on_sc/global_warming

"The National Academy of Sciences, after reconstructing global average surface temperatures for the past two millennia, said Thursday the data are "additional supporting evidence ... that human activities are responsible for much of the recent warming."


Who are these scientists (obviously michael moore loving lefties) to say that global warming is anything but a liberal fantasy. I have empirical evidence to indicate just the opposite: It's raining again today in New England, and a couple degrees cooler than yesterday, so how could the globe possibly be warming??!!!

 
At 8:43 PM, June 23, 2006, Blogger snowonpine said...

From the things I have seen reported in many sources, usually buried but there, I think that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq just prior to our invasion. Based on things that were found and how they were concealed, I think that there are probably WMDs buried or otherwise concealed within Iraq with the rest transported out of the country to other like-minded countries--Iran, Syria, maybe the Sudan.

I noticed that the UN weapons inspectors were much less that diligent in their searches and I also think that an extremely diligent search will eventually turn up more caches of weapons than the recent one found.

However, if such weapons are found in Iraq, you can count on those who oppose the war and who hate President Bush and his administration to find ways to discount any such find. Unless there are very many weapons found, small numbers of WMDs will be discounted because of their small numbers. Or, they will be discounted because they were not manufactured just prior to our invasion; they were old and, therefore, they somehow don't count. Or they will be characterized as a small exception to an otherwise fruitless search. Or, perhaps their authenticity will in some way be doubted by , say, Hans Blix or Scott Ritter. Or, in the final fall back position, they will be denounced as a plant by the U.S. I think the list of possible reasons for denial is practically endless.

 
At 10:09 PM, June 23, 2006, Blogger Goesh said...

I don't suscribe to the notion that 500 mustard gas shells are not WMD, though 500 Sarin shells would be more so. Saddam used mustard gas against the Kurds and what would zaqawri have done with them if he could of possessed them? I'm reminded of the Larry King show a few years back when Clinton was a guest and said, "We knew he had them (WMD) in 98'." It is interesting and coincidental (?) that they were found shortly before the Senate vote on troop withdrawal. Everyone seems to forget the Sarin round that went off near Fallujah a year ago or so. It's about like cops going into a felon's home, finding shotgun shells and calling them meaningless because a shotgun has not been found.

Proud Neocon mentions global warming. Michelle Malkin has quite a Hot Air video on that topic, worth seeing, though many here probably already have.

 
At 3:08 AM, June 24, 2006, Blogger Ariel said...

Personally, I don't care about the WMDs. It was only one of the many reasons we went. The real issue is how faulty our, and most other nations, intel was throughout the 90s and into the 21st Century. Whether he had, what he did with them, where he put them, etc.

Now that WMDs are a political football, and so tied to ones personal identity, as Neo points out, any information one way or the other will be ignored.

 
At 6:31 AM, June 24, 2006, Blogger Sally said...

I agree with Ariel that the suspected existence of stockpiles of WMDs was only ever a factor in the decision to invade. And contrary to lib-left opinion now, this was known at the time - here, for example, is a quote from a New York Times editorial of Feb 27, 2003:

President Bush sketched an expansive vision last night of what he expects to accomplish by a war in Iraq. Instead of focusing on eliminating weapons of mass destruction, or reducing the threat of terror to the United States, Mr. Bush talked about establishing a 'free and peaceful Iraq' that would serve as a 'dramatic and inspiring example' to the entire Arab and Muslim world, provide a stabilizing influence in the Middle East and even help end the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Which was and remains a gamble, certainly, but a reasonable and ultimately necessary gamble, and one with a strategic vision that is simply missing from the later partisan obsession over missing WMDs.

But even if we keep the focus on WMDs, it's important to realize that stockpiles of them are only important for conventional war, which of course is not the concern here. It's the capacity to produce them at all, even if only in small amounts, that is significant in an asymmetric, terror-base war, and that capacity was exactly what Saddam was aiming at reconstituting as soon as the crumbling sanctions-regime was gone, as the Duelfer Report makes clear.

It's just unfortunate for everyone that the partisan, Bush-bashing left has been as successful as it has in propagating its obsession with WMD stockpiles.

 
At 9:07 AM, June 24, 2006, Blogger troutsky said...

When I close my eyes, everyone goes away.A tree falling in the forest doesnt make any sound unless I hear it.

So "those in the middle" are not "paricularly invested" in anything being necessarily 'true".What a pathetic, if easily defensible,position.In other words,"Ill never be really wrong, because Ill never take a real position."

PS. Oil, military bases, markets

 
At 10:06 AM, June 24, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

Moderation is not for the true believers. Except if you are a true believer in the United States Constitution, like me, that is.

 
At 10:39 AM, June 24, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

I found a good VDH piece detailing Iraq and WMDs. Well, it isn't really about WMDs.

The U.N. has simply ceased to be the liberal, Western-inspired utopian body that arose from the ashes of World War II with the promise that reasonable, civilized nations could adjudicate differences rather than killing each other over perceived grievances. Instead, it is a mobocracy, where majority votes reflect a passive-aggressive stance toward the United States — guiltily desiring our money and support, while still eager for a televised forum in high-profile New York to pose and showcase its cheap, easy defiance of America

All this hysteria and unrest should come as no surprise given the ambition of our endeavor, which is no less than a war of civilization to end both terrorism and the culture and politics that foster it. Still, let us ignore the self-interest of contemporary parties and reflect on the very scope of American audacity. In little more than three weeks, and coming on the heels of an amazing victory in Afghanistan, the American military defeated the worst fascist in the Middle East. Surrounded by enemies, and forced simultaneously to conduct the war against terrorism in dozens of countries and restore calm on the West Bank, the United States nevertheless sought to create consensual government and order under legal auspices in weeks — rather than the decades that were necessary in Japan and Germany, where elections took years and soldiers remain posted still. The real story is not that the news from Iraq is sometimes discouraging and depressing, but that it so often not — and that after two major-theater wars we have lost fewer people than on that disastrous day in Beirut 20 years ago, and less than 10 percent of the number that perished on September 11.

You should read it from the top down, really. As much as it seems like it is talking about right now, this was written in 2003. Prescience is not a time limited quantity.

Loss

 
At 11:42 AM, June 24, 2006, Blogger Seneca the Younger said...

Neo, I think you're making an error in restricting the question to "post-1991" WMD. Significant caches of pre-1991 WMD, plus the well-known dual-use facilities, ought to be enough. They're certainly enough to prove a violation of resolution 687 and the cease fire.

 
At 1:57 PM, June 24, 2006, Blogger Ariel said...

Seneca the Younger,

That is exactly right. But not one of the "Bush lied, people died" crowd will ever admit to it. Nor will they ever bring up a single one of the other reasons we went into Iraq.

I was dying (laughter) when I heard the "Bush's flip-flopping" or "he's coming up with a new excuse" when he would raise the other reasons we went it. Bush is not my favorite president, but the hypocrisy of Congress and the press, as well as some others, drives me to defend him.

 
At 3:09 PM, June 24, 2006, Blogger The probligo said...

How many here have given any thought to the timing of this "news"?

On 19 June, WaPo "leaks" the cable from Khaliljad to his boss pointing out that "tjhings aren't quite as you think they are in Iraq..."

On 22 June a "newly de-classified document..." is released.

Who is the only person who can "de-classify" documents like that?

When was it declassified? Probably on 21 June.

Bad news management!

 
At 6:42 PM, June 24, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

So probligo's position is that if Bush declassifies something, that is deception. If Bush keeps things secret, that's deception too.

What's a catch 22 again?

 
At 8:27 PM, June 24, 2006, Blogger The probligo said...

Y, are you really that stupid?

What Bush declassifies is not the point.

But then someone who believes the Warqawi memo, but not the Khaliljad cable, would only read WMD for his confirmation biases to be running full blast, huh!

Y, it is called "damage control".

 
At 11:18 PM, June 24, 2006, Blogger Sally said...

Oooh, the timing, of course! Amazing nobody else thought of that! Ya know, I bet the Joos are in on it too, huh? Rocket attacks in Gaza ... and the next thing we see is a suddenly declassified document?!?! Coincidence? Yeah, rigghht.

 
At 12:18 AM, June 25, 2006, Blogger Charlemagne said...

Sally wrote:

President Bush sketched an expansive vision last night of what he expects to accomplish by a war in Iraq. Instead of focusing on eliminating weapons of mass destruction, or reducing the threat of terror to the United States, Mr. Bush talked about establishing a 'free and peaceful Iraq' that would serve as a 'dramatic and inspiring example' to the entire Arab and Muslim world, provide a stabilizing influence in the Middle East and even help end the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Which was and remains a gamble, certainly, but a reasonable and ultimately necessary gamble, and one with a strategic vision that is simply missing from the later partisan obsession over missing WMDs.


If "freedom" is really the goal, can you explain why Saudi Arabia continues to be a close ally of the USA?

That country not only is a dictatorial monarchy, it additionally gives no rights to 50% of its population (i.e. women). You can't even drive a car in Saudi Arabia, if you're a woman, and are completely disenfranchised compared to men.

How come a country with such a government is an ally of the freedom-loving current administration in the USA?

 
At 12:55 AM, June 25, 2006, Blogger Sally said...

Can't do everything at once, Charlie. In the black-and-white world of lib-left "reality", of course, we'd either be taking on the entire arab world at once -- throughout which democracy, human rights, and freedom are problematical to say the least -- or we'd essentially do nothing, (always the preferred stance). But a strategic vision implies an actual strategy, in which objectives are achieved in stages. Saudi Arabia is certainly a problem, but it is an ostensible ally as opposed to an overt enemy, it helps attack terrorists as opposed to aiding them, and it's making moves -- albeit slow moves -- toward greater openness and freedom.

 
At 3:02 AM, June 25, 2006, Blogger The probligo said...

Sally, You follow your path, along with Y and all of the other believers...

Saudi Arabia is certainly a problem, but it is an ostensible ally as opposed to an overt enemy, it helps attack terrorists as opposed to aiding them,...

This is a different Saudi Arabia is it?

Perhaps that reflects the fact that, between the two publics, the U.S.-Saudi relationship today is colored by mutual disdain as well as mutual dependency. Ordinary Americans and Saudis alike recognize that the alliance that FDR and Abdul Aziz forged aboard the Quincy is in serious trouble. Saudis fume about Guantanamo Bay, Israel and the invasion of Iraq; Americans fume about individual Saudis' funding for al-Qaeda and the Saudi suicide bombers who keep crashing into our troops in Baghdad, apparently funded by $3-a-gallon gasoline. The two governments, however, are loath to address this deterioration of public attitudes too openly, and since they have yet to discover a plausible alternative to their long union, the old ship just rocks along, however queasy its passengers may feel.

 
At 6:49 AM, June 25, 2006, Blogger Charlemagne said...

Sally,

Foreign dictators who are friendly to US business/corporate interests have always been not only tolerated but actively supported by successive US administrations. And that includes both Republican and Democratic administrations, by the way. Examples: Pinochet in Chile, Suharto in Indonesia, Marcos in Phillipines, the Saudi monarchy, and many others...

Likewise, democratically elected rulers who have had relatively free / non-oppressive governments but have stood up to US business or corporations' demands, have always been attacked or undermined by successive US administrations (whether overtly or covertly). Examples: Allende in Chile, Mossadegh in Iran, Arbenz in Guatemala,...

Successive US governments have mouthed support for "freedom", but never lived up to the much-touted commitment to "freedom".

Even now, in Iraq: wouldn't it make sense simply to hold a national referendum and ask ordinary Iraqis to vote on whether the US should leave Iraq? And if more than 50% say they do, then simply leave the country? Why not let Iraqis freely exercise their choice to decide whether US troops should stay in their country, or not? It's _their_ country, no?

If the US is not in Iraq for the oil or for strategic reasons (setting up military bases), but simply for the altruistic reason of delivering freedom to the Iraqis, why not let the Iraqis freely take the decision as to whether the US should leave, and when?

 
At 6:49 AM, June 25, 2006, Blogger Sally said...

Not different at all, but pretty much what I described. Someone on this blog once asked, in what I'm sure they thought was a rhetorical or at least sarcastic question, And after Iran, what? My answer: Syria, after which we can begin putting some serious pressure on Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Egypt -- which is what I mean by a strategic concept carried out in stages.

In actual fact, all five of those countries are feeling some serious pressure now, as evidenced by a number of events in the past three years. The one hope of the islamist supporters within them is to split the countries applying the pressure, and in America this hope is embodied by significant factions within the Democratic Party.

 
At 7:02 AM, June 25, 2006, Blogger Charlemagne said...

Sally,

You said that Pakistan is feeling pressure to democratize as a result of the events of the last three years. In fact, quite the contrary. The prime minister of Pakistan, Musharraf, came to power in elections that were widely acknowledged to be rigged. He has no electoral legitimacy. Yet, because he is an ally of the US, he was rewarded with the US legitimizing him. This struck a blow _against_ democracy in Pakistan, not in favor of democracy.

Incidentally, it may well happen that if free elections are held in Egypt, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, the groups who will come to power would be Islamists of one sort or another. Why? Because (with the US looking the other way), the undemocratic rulers of these countries pretty much succeeded in destroying the secular opposition that existed to their rule. Now all the opposition that's left in these countries is pretty much the Islamist opposition centered in the mosques, which the rulers were not quite successful in destroying because it looked bad to go after the mosques. So, a very unfortunate consequence right now in these countries -- Egypt, Saudi Arabia and very likely Pakistan -- is that free elections, if held, will almost certainly bring to power Islamist parties which are distinctly unfriendly to the USA, because, with the secular opposition destroyed completely, these parties are the only opposition to the rulers, who are deeply unpopular.

This is a very unfortunate state of affairs and which is why the US is not going to be in position to call for democratization in these countries any time soon. And, of course, this is going to delegitimize the US's claim to stand for freedom and democracy even further in these countries and elsewhere. This is what happens when dictators are supported for short-term advantage.

 
At 8:13 AM, June 25, 2006, Blogger Sally said...

Charle: This is what happens when dictators are supported for short-term advantage.

A good opportunity to say something about competing theories of international relations.

On the one hand there's Wilsonian internationalism (also called "liberal internationalism"), which has a naive belief in the viability of top-down world government, and seeks to establish various global institutions and agencies that might appear governmental and legal, but in reality are mere facades, or puppets for the real powers working the strings. On the other hand, there's Kissingerian "realism", that determines who or what to support based upon an often quite cynical calculus of balance of power. And for some time, throughout the Cold War in particular, these operated in a kind of strange and strained tandem, with the increasingly corrupt "idealism" of the former providing cover for the increasingly cynical "realism" of the latter -- and this was true throughout the West, of which the US was simply the de facto leader and representative.

More recently, however, there's appeared another alternative, a "third hand" so to speak. In this alternative, the ideals of democracy, individual rights, and the rule of law are seen as a package, and that package is seen as the basis for a strategic vision for international relations -- a bottom-up vision, that stays grounded in the reality of people's lives. By working, however slowly, incrementally and realistically, to build up such a package globally, so this strategy argues, we'll be building a more integrated, peaceful, and prosperous world, which has the added advantage of being a freer one as well. This strategy goes under the name of neo-conservatism.

You're quite right, of course, that democracy in itself is no guarantee of peace, and no one thought it would be, in the short term. What it does do, however, is place responsibility for their government, and for the consequences of that government's behavior, back in the hands of the people. So, in the short term, certainly, things can and will get worse -- as the example of Hamas in the Palestinian Territories vividly demonstrates. But that example also demonstrates very well the longer-termed value of democracy as a strategy -- it brings home to the people making electoral choices that there are indeed consequences for those choices, and so begins to instill a sense of responsibility that is the only possible long-term basis for peace.

 
At 2:36 PM, June 25, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

Y, are you really that stupid?
Prob
Ymar isn't stupid, but Ymir is.

Y, it is called "damage control".
Prob
Does that mean you're going nuclear?

How come a country with such a government is an ally of the freedom-loving current administration in the USA?

Because the United States has not YET begun to Empire build and spread death to all those who disobey the God given rights of humanity.

Examples: Pinochet in Chile, Suharto in Indonesia, Marcos in Phillipines, the Saudi monarchy, and many others...

Again,Chares' catch 22 is that if you support dictators that is bad, if you topple dictators and tyrannical regimes like Iraq, that is bad. Good for everyone, always bad for America.

Even now, in Iraq: wouldn't it make sense simply to hold a national referendum and ask ordinary Iraqis to vote on whether the US should leave Iraq?

People like Charles don't know how to solve problems. The problem of how to bring democracy to a country involves more blood and treasure than just a pre-emptive strike and then leaving. They are not willing to shed the blood and the treasure to forever fight tyranny, thus their guilt forces them to hobble the efforts of those who are willing. Do they really believe that democracy will come if only they can get the US out, like they did with Vietnam? Sad, but of course they won't be the one paying for the price of their actions.

The question they ask about "why don't you let them decide" is answered with a plain rejoinder. The United States does not determine Good, Fairness, and Justice by majority rules. Their socialistic, tyranny through the masses, populistic policies will be an utter disaster.

 
At 6:58 AM, June 26, 2006, Blogger douglas said...

Charlemagne: "This is a very unfortunate state of affairs and which is why the US is not going to be in position to call for democratization in these countries any time soon."

So why do we get hassled for not attempting the 'impossible' by you guys? It will indeed take a while. most things of value do.

 
At 12:49 PM, June 26, 2006, Blogger stumbley said...

Re: WMDs

From Captain's Quarters...

"The Aksa Martyrs' Brigades group announced on Sunday that it its members have succeeded in manufacturing chemical and biological weapons to be used against Israel...The question will be where they acquired these weapons. They do not have the research facilities to have developed WMD on their own. If they actually do possess them, it seems a probablility that someone supplied Fatah with WMD.

Who has WMD? What country stocked them, until three years ago? And where does Hamas and Islamic Jihad, at least, have themselves established? Syria -- who has long rumored to have received the Iraqi stockpiles in 2002 and 2003, just ahead of the American invasion."



Coincidence?

 
At 4:04 PM, June 26, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

yes

 

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