I tend to believe our intelligence agencies when it comes to evidence of "weapons of mass destruction." What purpose would it serve for us to lie about this without solid evidence?
Critics have been clamoring for Bush to "make the case" against Saddam Hussein. Yesterday, he said Saddam has made the case against himself. Who agrees? Who has opinions on what America should do, and when? Is Saddam a threat? Does he have weapons of mass destruction? What's the frequency, Kenneth?
I tend to believe our intelligence agencies when it comes to evidence of "weapons of mass destruction." What purpose would it serve for us to lie about this without solid evidence?
To get our citizens and the world behind a war effort?Originally Posted by wumpus
We attack Iraq. Iraq scud-missiles VX gas into Israel. Israel nukes Iraq.
A white flash of light is the last thing you see.
I really hope that you're being sarcastic.Originally Posted by wumpus
If Iraq had any missiles that could reach Israel, that might be a frightening scenario. Even at the height of its military power in the 90s, Iraq could barely hit the broad side of a barn with its Scuds. They were actually designed to have a range of only 300 km, but Hussein reconfigured them to fire at ranges up to 600 km so that he could target Tel Aviv. They were so inaccurate at that range that they were rendered practically useless, however.Originally Posted by Met_K
It's all academic, however, because Unscom dismantled Iraq's missile stockpile after the end of the Gulf War. Iraq lacked skills and resources to build its own long range missiles before the war (the Scuds that it used were purchased from the Soviet Union in the 70s); it seems pretty unlikely that they could have made greater progress after the collapse of their industrial infrastructure. For what it's worth, it's considerably more difficult to engineer missiles (particularly long-range missiles) than it is to engineer, say, a nuclear warhead. It's equally difficult to engineer a warhead capable of effectively delivering chemical or biological agents, which is probably why Iraq didn't use any in the Gulf War. Impact fused warheads merely destroy the agents when they detonate.
Ah, but you see, all it takes is chance for anything to become a frighteningly realistic scenario.Originally Posted by Ben Sones
I'm not saying it will happen, just that it could. With as much tension as there is, either one of two things will happen in -any- foreseeable scenario: A) The world will be completely, utterly fucked in a matter of hours or days, or B) The world works hard as hell to keep things from collapsing, and spend months negotiating and holding things together. They succeed.
The worst thing people can do in this situation is put a large amount of apathy towards Iraq. Ignoring the problem, even if it's not as extreme as it might be seen to be, is only going to lead to the worst outlook possible.
So you agree that Iraq has these horrible weapons and the willingness to use them.Originally Posted by Met_K
I guess we should just let them build whatever they want, right? Just let them stay like they are - heck, let them build nukes!
I'm not worried about an Iraqi nuclear missle. No one with any sense is.
What I AM worried about, however, is a briefcase smuggled into Washington with an Iraqi-built nuclear device given to Islamist terrorists. This is clearly not a dream-like scenario - this is a very real, very likely scenario should Iraq get access to such weapons.
Isn't the future lives of millions worth getting rid of Saddam?
Holy fucking shit. You completely went off on a tangent that had nothing to do with what I'm saying. Nor did I ever say Iraq had a nuclear missile.Originally Posted by asspennies
i hear wumpus rides rollercoasters with a steely frown... i don't think he's ever sarcastic.Originally Posted by William Harms
You can debate how much if any chemical or biological weapons he has at this point. What isn't debatable is that he has developed them in the past, and been willing to use them. He has been trying to get a nuclear weapon for along time too.
Take Israel's strike on Iraq's nuclear site in 1981. If this hadn't have happened Desert Shield/Storm could have been much diffrent with Saddam having a few nuclear weapons as threats.
Its not a pleasent thought about the casulties that could happen in a fight, but the possiblities if it isn't done and he gets nuclear capability is even worse. Al-Qaeda with a nuke is about tops on the list in term of nightmares.
Of course, Saddam would need to be clinically insane to either give a terrorist a nuclear weapon, or use it himself against the U.S., as it'd result in his swift death.
He's just as deterrable as the USSR was.
Ok, listen, just shut up. Shut up. Just don't ever speak about politics or the military again. Please.Originally Posted by Jason McCullough
That was me by the way. Just so you know, internet explorer blows with the new SP.
That's not the problem. The problem is a Saddam Hussein that finds us as deterrable as the USSR was. He invades Kuwait. UN says "get out of there!" He threatens to use Nuke. What do we do next? It's the guy with less to lose that tends to win brinksmanship scenarios.Originally Posted by Jason McCullough
If that's the case, why didn't the USSR just threaten to nuke countries over and over until the entire world surrendered to them? I mean, they were communist, and they didn't care about losing their own civilians as much as the west, right?Originally Posted by Bub, Andrew
All of this hoo-hah about both NK and Iraq is centered on the concept of the Krazy Dictator. Even Quadiffi shut up after we threatened to kill him, remember?
Comparing the USSR vs Saddam/ Iraq....umm yea.
You're really saying that Saddam is NOT clinically insane? If "willing to bombard innocent civilians with mustard gas" doesn't register as insane, I'm not so sure what does. Now, his overactive self-obsession might be some kind of deterrant, as you point out, but there's no real reason to think it's enough to stop him from doing something really dreadful.Originally Posted by Jason McCullough
Well first of all Mr. McCullough, comparing Iraq and the Soviets is loony. The Soviets were almost an equal. They were a Superpower. They had a huge conventional army and we kept THEM in check by basically saying: "We'll nuke you if you roll tanks into Berlin... kay?" We threatened first strike there and held them in check. Iraq is a completely different case. Not only does he win the "I'm willing to use chemical and bio weapons on my enemy"... he wins the "I have used them on my enemy and my own country" sweepstakes.
Comparing Libya to Iraq is even loonier. Quadaffi was a pain in the ass but he wasn't quite a megalomaniac. He's more the Castro type than Hussein. Saddam won't back down easy, and he especially won't back down if he has a nuke to back himself up. Do I think he's crazy enough to use one? Actually no. Probably for the same reason you don't think so. Do I think he should be allowed to have one? No. Do I think he'd threaten to use it? And do I think the UN/US would give him concessions/appeasement in the face of such a threat. Yes. I don't think we should ever allow Saddam to have more regional power than he currently wields.
I'd like to see him ousted, but I'm not entirely convinced Bush is the guy to do it, or this moment is the right time either. Some of this feels like election politics.
I doubt they'd be much of a threat. He lacks the missiles to carry them, and according to the UN weapons inspectors, he was having trouble designing a warhead small enough to fit on the end of a missile anyway. I'd be more worried about their use as suitcase bombs, but, well... if he can't figure out how to make a bomb small enough to fit on a warhead, then he'd need a really big suitcase.Originally Posted by Jason Becker
I guess he could nuke himself. Without an effective means of delivery, nuclear weapons aren't particularly useful (I guess one could argue that they aren't particularly useful even with an effective means of delivery, but that's another argument). If he has them at all; most sources outside the Bush cabinet (and one within) seem to think that he doesn't.He threatens to use Nuke.
It all feels like election politics. Throughout history, leaders have used this trick time and time again: stir up a war to take their citizens' attention away from shaky domestic affairs. As nice as it might be to rid the world of Saddam Hussein, however, I think this war would end up being horrendously unpopular both at home and abroad. Like, maybe Vietnam unpopular. Something needs to be done about Iraq, but it doesn't necessarily follow that the US is the country that needs to do it. Let the UN rattle their collective sabres for once.Some of this feels like election politics.
Ok, back up; clinical insanity (which isn't even in psychiatric use anymore; it's only used to determine if someone is legally liable for their actions) isn't the right question. The question is whether or not Saddam is a rational actor, capable of weighing the likely consequences of his actions.Originally Posted by Chris Floyd
The US has made it quite clear, on multiple occasions, that it will respond in kind to use of WMD on either its citizens or those of NATO. Saddam would need to be fundamentally irrational in a way he hasn't demonstrated to attack us with WMD, as the direct consequence of that would be his death. What has he done that indicates he's unconcerned with his own death? Does running a airtight police state, where all possible threats to his rule are ferreted out and squashed before they see the light of day, sound like this? How about executing members of his own family, does that sound like some one who's going to underestimate his own safety?
Think of Stalin & Mao: I'm not sure if crazy applies; it's kind of like ticketing Ted Bundy for jaywalking. They still knew better than to invade a country on our side of the line.
'Not only does he win the "I'm willing to use chemical and bio weapons on my enemy"... he wins the "I have used them on my enemy and my own country" sweepstakes.'
Iran didn't have a means to kill him. The Kurds didn't have a means to kill him. We do.
'They had a huge conventional army and we kept THEM in check by basically saying: "We'll nuke you if you roll tanks into Berlin... kay?" We threatened first strike there and held them in check. Iraq is a completely different case.'
This is exactly the same as Iraq threatening to invade the Kuwait under his "nuclear shield." Rational actors don't play nuclear chicken, because the stakes if they lose is too high. Even more so than the USSR, Saddam will be deterred, as there's absolutely no way he could survive the ludicrious military and WMD balance the U.S. has in its favor. Do you think even the most liberal, pacifist president electable in the United States would hesitate for ten seconds to vaporize Saddam (and everyone within 20 miles, whining about civilian deaths be damned) if he attacked our troops with WMD? The credible threat to do so carried us through 50 years of the Cold War; a Saddam so irrational that he'd miss the obvious consequences of his actions is completely to odds with his past history.
All a nuke gets Saddam is the rest of his natural lifespan; once he gets it, we certainly can't invade. I mean, if he's going to die anyway, sure, he'll fire away, but note in that case we're driving, not him.
Theoretically, hey, an Iraq with a nice little democracy and nothing bad happening to us would great. I'm damn unconvinced that it improves national security to get that result through an invasion, though; will Iraq become like Yugoslavia, with the Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds slaughtering each other? Will a power vacuum destablize Iran? How does the Israel work into this? Will the (mostly) Western governments of Egypt & Pakistan (which definitely has nuclear weapons, for the love of god; imagine an new copy of the mid-80s Iran, which probably *was* irrational, with friggin' nukes, and itching to blow the living fuck out of India), already tenuous enough as it is, be deposed in a radicalized Islamic revolution?
That the only people in favor of this war are the usual hawks in Washington (Richard Perle, et al.), who've never met a war they didn't like, doesn't make me especially comfortable. Neither does the sotto-voice talk about how we can seize Iraq's oilfields, and use that to pay for the war. Neither does the polls, which show thirty-five fucking percent support for a Iraqi invasion without any allies assisting us. Only 55% support "large numbers of ground troops" to secure Iraq; if it happens, then this war will probably have the lowest level of support at the creation of any in our nation's history.
I am seriously worried that the administration hasn't thought through the consequences of what it's planning, and that can all be traced back to the incorrect, in my view, that "Saddam is an irrational, undeterrable actor."
And things get even more colorful if we continue setting the precidents we're setting. Detention without trial, and soliciting torture, was always fashionable in unsavory third world nations - now it's positively American. Having trouble with political agitators or revolutionaries? Call 'em terrorists and advertise to the world that you're doing your part to fight the 'war on terror'. Now, we tell China, India and Israel that if you think somebody might have weapons that could one day be used on you then you have every right to attack?
I think we've just gone psycho after 9-11. Nuclear material and weapons are probably going to be alot easier for terrorists to get from, say, a place that HAS them - say via Russia's black market. We need to be alienating the world community to fight a dubious war for dubious reasons with a dubious result?
This whole situation stinks to high heaven. Even if the UN gets bullied and bribed into going along and the congress, re: Democrats, remain a bunch of gutless wonders and go along out of political expediency I'm still going to think it stinks.
Yes.Originally Posted by Jason McCullough
Ben, I think Jason's question was rhetorical. :)
I completley agree with Jason, although I wouldn't go so far as Brian's conclusion that we've "gone psycho". 9/11 started an admirable trend (rooting out terrorism at its source) and it's running its course. Soon the freedom/security pendulum will swing a little ways in the opposite direction.
But following through on an almost unilateral effort against Iraq is ill-advised. I don't buy that it's election politicking, I don't buy that it's a conspiracy of the intelligence agencies or military-industrial complex (whatever *that's* supposed to be...). I just think it's Bush getting a little carried away with a supposed mandate.
As Jason pointed out, Hussein is a player in the game of international politics. He's not going to start lobbing missiles at Israel. He's not going to start handing out anthrax and suitcase nukes. He's not going to invade Kuwait again. He's a known quantity and he's going to do what he's been doing all along: testing the boundaries of what he can get away with, pushing, prodding, looking for ways around. Containment is a valid strategy. Undermining him is a valid strategy. International isolation is a vlid strategy. Invading is a misguided and impatient endrun around those policies.
"I doubt they'd be much of a threat. He lacks the missiles to carry them, and according to the UN weapons inspectors,"
That statement had nothing to do with what your going off on. It was about how pre-emptive action WAS a good thing.
You also have no real proof as to wether he could ever have gotten a small nuke attached to a missle like a scud. If you want to bet thousands of lives on that educated guess(cause thats what it is), then I consider that pretty damn foolish.
Fact: The guy started a war with Iran, and invaded Kuwait.
Fact: They guy has shown he is more than willing to use these type of weapon in the past.
But he's only used them on groups of people who couldn't respond in kind. That's fundamentally different than him using WMD against the U.S. or any of our allies, because we can respond and he knows it.Originally Posted by Jason Becker
So what's to stop him from building a big nuke, putting it on a container ship, and sending it over to a US port city with a few more pissed off Saudi fundamentalists to set it off after docking? An overt attack on the US, no. Helping someone else do it? Sure.
That said, I see a few problems:
1) Our policy of "containment" has resulted in the Iraqi people being subjected to crappy standards of living for over a decade. Saddam, of course, blames the USA for this. This just rallies people behind him, since they blame the US for the hardships. And if the UN embargoes are causing hardship for the majority of Iraquis, well, that just creates thousands of young people with little to live for, indoctrinated on anti-US rhetoric since childhood, all ready to go out and give their life for jihad.
2) If the US attacks Iraq, it will be fodder any moslem fundamentalists looking to boost the size of their terrorist corps. Young devout moslems will have even more reason to want to destroy the Great Satan. Attacking Iraq will likely ENDANGER the American people at home (in addition to the soldiers, of course) because we could easily see a 10-fold increase in terrorist activity here.
Seems to me a nice, old-fashioned assassination of Saddam is a lot safer way for the government to handle this. Of course, that violates international law, but we haven't seemed concerned about that in the past year.
This is definitely a lose-lose situation for the American and Iraqi people both.
I'm not opposed to taking forceful action when it is needed and I certainly don't care for Saddam Hussein. However, I have two fairly serious concerns that I don't think the Bush administration has answered to my satisfaction:
1)Why now? There are many reasons why deposing Saddam would be a good thing, suchs as the FACTS outlined above. But the thing is, those facts have been true for 20 years. All of the reasons I've seen discussed (Saddam used poison gas vs his own Kurdish population, Saddam invaded Iran & Kuwait, Saddam stockpiled both poison gas & anthrax, Saddam has supported terrorism, etc etc) are true - but they've *been* true for years. All of those things were certainly true in 1991 when Bush the Elder declined to remove Saddam. Why the change now? I often feel that Bush the Younger wants to correct what he considers his father's big mistake. I have not yet seen any clear or convincing evidence that Saddam is an *imminent* threat to manufacture nukes, let alone use them (as previously stated by others I agree that deterrence HAS worked vs Saddam for the last 10 years). So bottom line, I am just not sold that Saddam is enough of a threat *now* to overcome the downsides to attacking him now: casualties, problems with oil, loss of civilian life in Iraq, increased tension with moderate Arabs, increased tension with Europe - these are all items that will either cost American lives, cost American dollars, or cost American political clout. I am just not convinced that the case for taking Saddam out overcomes the costs of doing the job.
2)What happens after Saddam? The bandwagon answer appears to be "Who cares! Saddam is such a bad guy, anything would be better!". Unfortunately that answer is extremely simplistic. First off, Iraq is not a unified nation on any kind of ethnic, cultural, religious or economic basis. It is a classic example of a "manufactured" nation carved out in the aftermath of the collapse of colonialism, similiar in some ways to Yugoslavia. You have Kurds in the north who tend to be rural, and many are nomadic. You have Shiite Arabs in the south, who tend to be farmers, and make up the bulk of the population. Much of the urban population is Sunni Arabs (who are the politically dominant group). And within these groups are different divisions: tribal and clan allegiances (especially amongst the Kurds); variations on Sunni & Shiite doctrine, differences between nomads & farmers, between farmers & townspeople, etc. And you have an economy with a lousy infrastructure, some oil, and a generally poorly educated populace. There are historical rivalries amongst some elements of the population that go back for many centuries. If Saddam is removed with no meaningful plan to replace him with a functioning democracy, a LOT can go wrong. A true collapse of Iraq as a nation would lead to a big territory going into anarchy (where terrorists could easily hide and train), and would likely also lead to the formation of Shiite and Kurdish splinter nations. Splinter nations is a huge danger to regional stability b/c there are sizable Kurdish & Shiite populations in neighboring countries like Turkey, Iran, Syria & Jordan - those nations are frightened that if splinter nations form, their own minorities will want to secede and join the splinters - which may lead to revolution and/or civil war in those neighboring countries. Alternatively, you might end up with a radical Shiite Iraqi state, much like Iran in 1980 - which would probably be about as bad as Saddam, certainly not much better. The problem is that getting to a stable, democratic Iraq is going to be *hard and expensive* - we're talking billions of aid to rebuild infrastructure and improve education, tens of thousands of peacekeeping troops for decades while the country is rebuilt. And if we don't have a coherent plan of how to rebuild Iraq then there is the strong risk of a descent to civil war and chaos, with American peacekeepers trapped in the middle.
So I'd like to see the Bush admin address both of these concerns before I'm willing to support the invasion of Iraq. Now if they can come up with credible evidence of an imminent threat or some indication of a hefty change in circumstances since 1991 (hefty enough to warrant invastion); AND if they put forward the kind of plan of national committment that would be required to rebuild Iraq afterward, then I'd be willing to support an invasion. But until then, I think we should focus on continuing to pursue Al Qaeda, we should try to capture, kill, or prove the prior death of Osama, Mullah Omar, etc, we should try to cripple Al Qaeda's finances, break up their cells, capture and try the remaining members, and in general shut them down. We should also focus on long term goals like better economies and better governments in the Middle East to prevent the future formation of new and even more evil versions of Al Qaeda.
Yes, we've been attacked, in a serious way. So yes, we have to hit back, and hit back HARD. But to quote Tom Clancy "Intelligence (in both senses of the word) is the greatest force multiplier" - we need to hit back in a smart way, at the right targets, and with the right goals. Here is a very fine series of articles from evolutionary theorist & writer Robert Wright - I think he has some good points to make:
Daniel Ban (aka Sharpe)
First of all, you completely undermined the credibility of your post by closing with a Tom Clancy quote. :) However, this...
...is the $64,000 question. It's also, I believe, why some of the more level headed hawks in Washington aren't hopping on the bandwagon with Bush. As Alexis De Tocqueville pointed out a long time ago, two of the hardest things for a democracy to do are to get into a war and to get out of a war.2)What happens after Saddam?
I'm sure Tom Clancy said something just as trenchant, but I don't have a copy of Sum of All Fears handy.
Well, for Saddam to do this and think he could get away with it, he'd need to be confident that we couldn't find any evidence he was behind it. It'd be wildly irrational for Saddam to do this, as it's almost certain we'd be able to trace it back to him to some extent. I mean, all you have to is find a single link between the terrorist group and a nuclear power.Originally Posted by sparkman