August 19, 2007

Anti-war arguments from before the Iraq Invasion

We now know that Dick Cheney expressed some excellent reasons back in April 1994 for why invading Iraq and overthrowing Saddam was a bad idea. Interesting that he predicted a quagmire and questioned how many dead Americans was Saddam worth.

Obviously, Dick Cheney of 2001 should have listened to the Dick Cheney of 1994.

There's been a lot of words this week to question why the "serious people" who were wrong before the war are still the dominate voices in the media. By February 2003, it was obvious to many discerning people that Bush was bamboozling the public with his ever shifting reasons for going to war. People like to say that the case for war was indisputable in February, but as Ezra Klein wrote:

These were the two cases. They existed -- both of them -- before the conflict. They had, as Packer details, high profile adherents. The anti-war case was internally coherent, rigorous, and in the final analysis, utterly correct. Not accidentally correct, but accurate in its particulars and predictions. No wonder those who got it wrong are so anxious to argue that nobody truly got it right.

There were some very good reasons for opposing Bush's war that February. Check out what Eric Alterman said in those days.

Eric Alterman is a columnist for The Nation and authors a Weblog for
I admit that the beefed-up containment policy vis-à-vis Iraq, driven exclusively by the Bush administration's obsession with the issue, has been a smashing success. But rather than declare victory and stay in Iraq—with inspectors and the threat of force if they are resisted—the administration insists on embarking on an unnecessary and potentially ruinous war. While I will support it once it begins, as a patriot, and in the belief that a quick victory will result in the most minimal loss of life, I continue to oppose its commencement for the following reasons. Any one of them strikes me as sufficient, but the combination strikes me as overwhelming:

  1. The war against al-Qaida is not yet won, and this war will shift resources away from it.
  2. We remain enormously vulnerable to another terrorist attack, and this war will shift resources away from securing the "homeland."
  3. The war will cause the very problem it is alleged to address: anti-American terrorism.
  4. Pakistan is far more likely to give a nuclear weapon to terrorists; North Korea is a greater danger to world peace. We should address those problems immediately, rather than hope they will solve themselves while we are preoccupied with Iraq.
  5. The war will place Israel in mortal danger of a gas attack and rally both sides in the Palestinian conflict in ways that can only be counterproductive to peace.
  6. George Bush was right in the first place: "The United States must be proud and confident of our values, but humble in how we treat nations that are figuring out how to chart their own course." We should not be in the business of "nation building," something at which, as evidenced by Afghanistan, we suck.
  7. George Bush and the men surrounding him—Colin Powell excepted—are not honest men any more than Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, or Ronald Reagan were. The nation is still paying the price for its misplaced trust in those leaders in matters of war and peace.
  8. Much of the uniformed military, including Maj. Gen. Anthony Zinni, who served as the head of the U.S. Central Command as well as George W. Bush's representative to the Middle East peace negotiations, remain unconvinced that this war is necessary at this time. Read a talk he gave on the topic recently here. If Gen. Zinni is unconvinced, I'm unconvinced.

When the serious people discuss why those opposed to the war before Bush totally screwed it up are not to been heard today, you can check this list to see who was more in touch with reality.

There was another case that I suspect drove many, many of the so-called liberal hawks: America was royally pissed and ready to make an object lesson of Saddam to teach the dirty terrorists who was in charge.

For many of those who supported Bush’s drive to war, the goals were simpler. What they wanted was put succinctly by Richard Cohen of the Washington Post who expressed that he thought “a prudent use of violence could be therapeutic.” What they wanted was revenge for 9/11 and they wanted to teach those who supported Islamic extremists that they would regret their support. What they forgot, and what Bush never realized, is violence is its own master. When we kicked over the hornet’s nest in Iraq, we unleashed horrific forces that are now in control.

It was supposed to be a cathartic moment.

Tommy Friedman, one of the loudest voices for war, is now angry at Bush for having screwed it up so much. For Tom, it was a lust for violence which led to his supporting war. He knew that the only reason the US had been targeted by terrorists was because the country hadn't shown that we were just as crazy as the terrorists - and what better way to show that than to invade Iraq. I've not yet heard him take any responsibility for this idiocy.

The biggest reason for opposing the war in February 2003 had to have been serious distrust of George W Bush. What had he done to that time to show he was trustworthy? And since then, we know he was even worse than we ever could have imagined.

Iraq is a festering wound that cannot be healed until Bush is gone (and maybe not even then - but at least we could stop contributing to the poison). So the pundits that continue to lie on our TVs about how good things are over there should get all the contempt they've earned. They are enablers of the worst President this country has ever known.

Posted by Mary at August 19, 2007 04:06 PM | War on Terrorism | Technorati links |

That's the question, isn't it? I figured out that all the excuses for war with Iraq were just that when Colin Powell testified before the U.N. What he presented was more like a cartoon than a serious presentation of intelligence. Much of Alterman's list items are just recitations of things that were obvious even then. Yet to this day there are people who ought to be smart enough to know better who insist that Bush fooled them.

I guess it all depends on how much you want to be fooled.

Posted by: Cujo359 at August 19, 2007 06:18 PM

I saw an interview with Bill Maher sometime ago in which he asserted that 9/11, despite the popular rhetoric, has not changed everything. Something bigger is coming, largely because the US did not deal with 9/11 appropriately.

Unfortunately, he's right. When it's all said and done, 9/11 may be just one of a series of crimes committed against the US that we could have easily prevented if we'd been just that much smarter.

Posted by: Thomas at August 19, 2007 11:25 PM

...and there were a great many of us who opposed it before the invasion and continued opposing it once it began, rather than support a wrong-headed war of aggression "as a patriot".

Posted by: DeanOR at August 20, 2007 12:41 AM