July 13 2004
WHAT IT ALL BOILS DOWN TO: You don’t often
find an entire election summarized in one or two sentences,
and you’re even less likely to find it on a Sunday
morning political talk show. But here it is, from Meet
Tim Russert: Do you see Bush being
William F. Buckley: I don't think
that Bush has done anything disqualifying him. He had
a lousy intelligence system, manifestly, but nobody thinks
that he acted capriciously. I think if we all
had been told exactly what he was told, it's pretty logical
that we would have proceeded to do what he did.
Ron Brownstein: Look, I think that
the Senate Intelligence Committee report does frame what
I believe is the central issue in this campaign. And I
differ a little with Bill Buckley because I don't
think that all Americans agree that any president would
have made this decision based on this information.
I think that goes to the crux of the choice that they
Brownstein is exactly right, and contrary
to what he and other liberals in the press might think,
it’s the single biggest weakness in John Kerry’s
Brownstein is saying, and what is obvious to anyone who
has been paying attention to politics over the last year
is that no Democrat – with only one or two exceptions
in the entire elected party – would have looked at
the exact same intelligence Bush looked at with respect
to Iraq after 9/11 and done much of anything - even though
they agreed with Bush at the time that Hussein was a serious
isn’t some wild hypothetical, it’s a historical
fact. Ten days after Saddam Hussein issued an edict in October
29, 1997 kicking U.S. weapons inspectors out of Iraq, John
Kerry stood on the floor of the United States Senate and
"We must recognize that there
is no indication that Saddam Hussein has any intention
of relenting. So we have an obligation of enormous consequence,
an obligation to guarantee that Saddam Hussein cannot
ignore the United Nations. He cannot be permitted to go
unobserved and unimpeded toward his horrific objective
of amassing a stockpile of weapons of mass destruction.
This is not a matter about which there should be any debate
whatsoever in the Security Council, or, certainly, in
Kerry went on to argue that the threat Saddam
posed was so serious that it justified unilateral military
action, if necessary:
"while we should always seek
to take significant international actions on a multilateral
rather than a unilateral basis whenever that is possible,
if in the final analysis we face what we truly believe
to be a grave threat to the well-being of our Nation or
the entire world and it cannot be removed peacefully,
we must have the courage to do what we believe is right
Only days before, President Clinton had
a line in the sand” with Iraq over the expulsion
of U.S. inspectors, saying the U.S and the U.N. had to “be
very firm” with Iraq.
The rest, of course, is history –
and not a very pretty one at that. Read through this
timeline of events and you’ll see that while there
were lots of meetings, discussions, debates, and negotiations
that offered the illusion progress was being made, problems
were being solved, and threats were being dealt with, nothing
of any substance really took place.
In the end, after all of the sharp rhetoric,
threats and negotiation, the "line in the sand"
was washed away with no consequence for Hussein. Saddam
played cat-and-mouse with the U.S. and the U.N. for nearly
a year before finally booting UNSCOM out of Iraq altogether
in August 1998.
response? On September 9, 1998 the UN
Security Council passed yet another resolution “condemning”
Iraq’s lack of cooperation with inspectors. Three
weeks after that the United States Congress passed (and
President Clinton eventually signed) The
Iraq Liberation Act of 1998, making regime change in
Iraq the official policy of the United States government.
on December 16, 1998 the U.S. launched Operation
Desert Fox, a four-day bombing campaign against military
targets in Iraq. Two days after Desert Fox concluded, Fred
Kaplan (no rabid right-winger, mind you) wrote:
One question has emerged in the aftermath
of President Clinton's four-day bombing campaign against
Iraq: What was that all about?
If his aim was to put a dent in Saddam
Hussein's ability to produce chemical, nuclear, and biological
weapons, the dent was not a large one.
If, as some of the air war's targets
suggested, Clinton was trying to destabilize Hussein's
regime, he did not hit its foundations hard enough.
Speaking of the Pentagon's estimates
of damage, John Pike, a specialist with the Federation
of American Scientists, said Saturday night, ''It doesn't
look like they did anything on what they said they were
going to do, and not enough on what they were actually
According to the Pentagon's most recent
figures, the attacks hit a total of 97 targets over the
four days. The strikes damaged beyond repair only a few
of the targets - the weapons sites, military headquarters,
and industrial facilities that Pentagon planners thought
had to be hit to accomplish the mission.
''I'm mystified why they stopped the
campaign just as they had amassed sufficient force to
complete the job,'' Pike added.
More forces, including another aircraft-carrier
battle-group and more than 70 additional combat planes,
had just arrived Friday.
''You don't deploy 70 aircraft halfway
around the world just so they can fly one combat sortie,''
Iraq's nuclear and chemical materials
were not attacked...
In any event, yesterday morning, Hussein,
who lived through it all once again, claimed victory -
which, from his point of view, might outweigh Clinton's
claim that the Iraqi leader stands ''degraded'' and ''diminished.''
It probably won't surprise you to learn
that on the very same day Kaplan's article appeared in the
Boston Globe, the NY
Times reported this:
Sunday in Paris, President Jacques
Chirac of France called for a prompt lifting of the oil
embargo. His country's major oil companies have for years
been eager to return to work in Iraq, although record
low oil prices make this less attractive now.
fact, three of the five permanent members of the UN Security
Council (France, Russia, & China) responded to the limited
use of military force against Saddam for his continued violation
of UNSC resolutions by calling to lift the economic sanctions
against Iraq and disband UNSCOM completely. And that was
basically the end of the whole affair.
seen the same pattern from most Democrats this time around.
First, we saw near universal acceptance of US intelligence
estimates (which we've since come to learn were badly flawed),
followed by grandiose speeches in late 2002 full of sharp
rhetoric and talk of consequences for Hussein, followed
by.......absolute and utter outrage at the President of
the United States for actually taking action.
I don't think there is any question that
neither John Kerry, nor John Edwards, nor any other Democratic
candidate who ran for President (except Lieberman, of course)
would have aggressively pushed to take out Saddam Hussein.
I also don't get the impression that any of them would have
had the political will or courage to take such a course
of action over the objections of their party or certain
allies (you know who I'm talking about) even if they
felt it was the right thing to do.
Indeed, far more damning than Bush acting
on evidence almost everyone in the world believed to be
true is to look at a hypothetical in reverse: What if all
of the WMD intelligence on Iraq had been spot on and John
Kerry were President at the time and chose not to act because
of pressure from his party or the objections of allies?
I think most Americans would find that prospect deeply disturbing.
Podhoretz ably points out this morning, Kerry let the
cat out of the bag on '60
Minutes' Sunday night that the hypothetical I've just
described might not be so hypothetical after all. Kerry
believed Saddam had weapons, said so, voted in favor of
taking action against him, and now thinks the whole thing
was a big fat mistake.
know how terribly weak this makes their party and their
candidate look, which is why they must now convince voters
that the action Bush took in invading Iraq wasn't based
on good faith and a desire to protect the country but on
lies and deceit. Simply put, it's the only way Democrats
can get the public to swallow the idea that after September
11, 2001 doing nothing with respect to Iraq (and thus leaving
Saddam in power despite of our belief that he had WMD, supported
terrorists, etc.) was the right thing to do.
so the full court press is on to use the Senate Intelligence
Committee report to paint Bush as a liar (here,
rather than a victim of bad intelligence. The media certainly
seem to be doing
their part, chipping in for
the cause. Whether the public buys it or not is another
getting back to the original point, Ron Brownstein is absolutely
on the mark: the basic question of this election is whether
a majority of voters want to reelect a President who, based
on the best information he had at the time, saw a threat
and was willing to take action to deal with it, or not.
Everything else is just noise. - T. Bevan 1:36
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