Saturday, June 12, 2004

The invasion was a good use of our resources

The invasion of Iraq was the best use of our resources – if winning the war on terror is the aim. Sure our intelligence was sketchy. Intelligence always is. But does that make it the failure that everyone seems to think it is? Should we improve it? Sure, we should always be trying to improve our intelligence. But, flawed as it may have been, it was good enough to point us in the right direction in a post 9/11 world. Saddam ran a regime that supported terror and had an association with al Qaeda. Saddam also developed and used WMDs and had a capacity to make more. He was also actively deceiving the world community. Those facts alone were enough to fear the passing of WMDs from the Baathists to al Qaeda. As Bush aptly put, Iraq was a “grave and gathering threat.” As for stockpiles? Iraq had plenty that were unaccounted for – I see no one disputing that. And I see no one disputing that Saddam violated 1441. But the terror/WMD threat was never about stockpiles. It was about small amounts that could be smuggled into our borders or those of our allies. Given what we know now would you say that Bush was wrong to fear this scenario? What we don’t know can always fill a book. Failure to locate WMDs is important in so much that terrorist might get to them before we do. But, in such a circumstance, you don’t just go after your intelligence agencies, tying up resources and creating an atmosphere of bureaucratic fear in the CIA & then assume that the war in Iraq was a mistake. No, you expect your agencies to examine their own performance and work on improvements. Heads should role when the president decides it’s in the interest of winning the war.


Dude said...

And in a press conference more recent than the Feith memo, Powell states that there was no smoking gun linking Iraq to al Qaeda.
That makes me question the veracity of the claims to ties to al Qaeda.
As far as the strength of the intelligence, according to Woodward, Tenet said the case was a "slam dunk". Rumsfeld said not only were the weapons there, but that we knew were they were.
As far as Saddam supporting Palestinian suicide bombers, how does that directly affect American interests? Lots of places have trouble with terrorists, but that doesn't make every terrorist a threat to the U.S. We haven't spent over $100 billion dollars to help Russia with their Chechen situation.
Also, are you lumping in terror with terrorism? Kim Jong Il runs his country by terror, but that doesn't make him a terrorist. Same with Castro.
I would like to have seen a complete job with Afghanistan before looking at Iraq. Poppy harvests there are providing funding for terrorism, so can we really be satisfied with the job we've done?

Jeffrey Hill said...

To finish Powell’s statement: “I have not seen [a] smoking gun, concrete evidence about the connection, but I do believe the connections existed.” Who needs a smoking gun? A mound of circumstantial evidence is good enough for me. We’re trying to fight a war with them, not sue them. I’m more alarmed by the people who insist that there is absolutely no link between Saddam and al Qaeda (Bob Graham comes to mind).

Saddam’s support of Palestinian suicide bombers was not meant to support Palestinian freedom or prosperity, but to keep the pot stirred in the region against Israel and the U.S. How many times before and after the war did you hear various Arab pundits dismiss our actions in Iraq by pointing out that we need to first bring a solution to the Palestinian/Arab problem - as if no reform could take place until that happened. It seemed like a broken record to me. It was that attitude that Saddam was investing money in. That was the red herring that every oppressive regime would use to resist our efforts of reform at every turn. Saddam made sure to perpetuate that status quo.

Granted, lots of places have terrorism which isn't aimed directly at us, but terror networks gravitate towards one another. That makes all of them bad for us. I'm glad that we’ve been working in a lot of those places trying to fight terrorism. Where there’s a government that will work with us, we work with them – places like Georgia and the Philippines come to mind.

It would’ve been nice to have Afghanistan all neatly tied up in a bow before we made our next move. I know the feeling. When I eat dinner I like to finish my greens before I move on to the meat – keeping everything separate; but sometimes life throws you a goulash (or worse, a potpie) and you just have to dive in and figure it out as you go. “Oh my,” I would sometimes say after a meal with a concerned look, “I had not adequately planned for this post-meal digestion!”

Dude said...

The trouble is, the last time the United States moved past the greens to deal with the goulash, cockroaches moved into the greens and set up terrorist camps. They were then able to network, scheme, and train to fly planes into the World Trade Refrigerator.
Okay, the extension of the metaphor is a little flaky, but if we leave Afghanistan to the terrorists again, then moving onto the goulash was a failure.