Supporting the Iraq Debacle

I disagree with Atrios when he says:

[W]hether you gave the thumbs up or thumbs down to any particular conflict, no matter how right or wrong it seems after the fact, doesn't necessarily say all that much about you. However, I would say an exception to that is the current conflict in Iraq, which was sold to the country in an especially divisive and dishonest manner. Supporting this war wasn't just about supporting the war, but "supporting the supporters" who, by the time the bombs dropped at least, had clearly demonstrated that they were very bad people who were not acting in good faith. Though, I suppose, they weren't quite as smelly and annoying as Some Guy With A Sign somewhere.

I disagree because I believe that the policies you support, be they war, tax cuts or what have you do of course say a lot about your judgment. War being the most important decision, it especially says something about you how you decided and what you decided on that question. He is also wrong to say that supporting the Iraq Debacle made you, by necessity, a Bush supporter. Why would it do that? Because atrios thought they were "very bad people"? That is not convincing. More on the flip.

Indeed, atrios' entire post is hard for me to understand. He writes:

Well, no, not really. This is silly. Perhaps a detailed explanation of how those gears were turning tells us a lot about a person's views of the world, but the final up or down vote? Not so much.

I don't get that. Of course how they arrived at their decision is very important. In that sense, I always thought of Kerry's vote for war as a politically cynical move, not a reflection on his judgment, ecause if he were not running for President he would not have voted for the Iraq Debacle. Now that says something about his character, but also his foreign policy judgment because he did not envision the disaster to come. He lacked foreign policy judgment as well as a certain amount of character. Of course Kerry was utterly superior to Bush but I am not one to wash away the sins of Kerry's vote for war in Iraq.

Nor do I understand atrios on this:

I don't wish to to re-debate any particular military conflict other than the current one, but I do find it troubling the extent to which it's accepted that Gulf War I was a war that all sensible people should have supported. I'm not taking a position here, really, but I find it absurd and dangerous that conventional wisdom has solidified around the idea that this is now a closed question.

Atrios may argue if he wishes that it is not a closed question, but I think it is and if he does not he should present his argument for why not. Was fighting World War II a closed question? Sometimes decisions became clearly right or clearly wrong over time. Sometimes not - see Korea and/or Vietnam (I wonder if Duncan thinks that is closed question? I happen not to.)

On Desert Storm, Atrios argues:

Gulf War I was definitely a war of choice. It isn't clear how our buddy Saddam's occupation of Kuwait posed any additional threat to us. Sure, there are oil-related and other great game arguments that can be made, but they aren't really all that strong. It was a war which could have - and ultimately did - have some catastrophic unintended consequences.

This seems just utterly wrong to me. Does Duncan seriously doubt the threat Saddam Hussein posed to US interests with his military intact and his control or influence over more than half of the oil reserves in the world? Yes, it is a dirty thing to say, but it was a war about oil. Because oil is the most valuable resource in the world. Not having it or paying exhorbitant prices for it has real world consequences that also lead to death, poverty and misery.

That Saddam took Kuwait in a naked act of aggression in blatant violation of international law and civilization is of course also important. But I won't game play this. If not for the oil and Saddam - the most that would have been done by the internationl community and the United States would be economic sanctions.

But back to the Bush 43 Iraq Debacle. I am not at all sure what Atrios is trying to say here. Is he saying supporting a war that was destined to be a Debacle as many, not just dirty hippies - but real experts like Wesley Clark, said it would be does not reflect on someone's foreign policy judgment? Well, pray tell, what then does?

George Bush 41 and his advisors were roundly criticized by these same pundits for years for not going to Baghdad. In his 1998 book "A World Transformed, co-written with Brent Scowcroft, Bush 41 answered back:

Following his presidency, George H. W. Bush (i.e.,, no. 41), in (the 1998 book, A World Transformed, coauthored with Brent Scowcroft [Knopf]), explained why he didn't send Desert Storm forces into Baghdad at the end of the 1991 gulf war. His rationale, i.e., following a strict code of maintaining an internationalsit stance, makes striking reading now:
"Trying to eliminate Saddam... would have incurred incalculable human and political costs. Apprehending him was probably impossible.... We would have been forced to occupy Baghdad and, in effect, rule Iraq. . . . There was no viable `exit strategy' we could see, violating another of our principles. Furthermore, we had been self-consciously trying to set a pattern for handling aggression in the post–cold war world. Going in and occupying Iraq, thus unilaterally exceeding the United Nation's mandate, would have destroyed the precedent of international response to aggression that we hoped to establish. Had we gone the invasion route, the United States could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land" ...

Personally, I think that makes any decision in favor of the Ieaq Debacle indefensible and the most marked of blemishes on someone's foreign policy judgment.

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    Re: Supporting the Iraq Debacle (none / 0) (#1)
    by Ernesto Del Mundo on Mon Oct 23, 2006 at 12:08:28 PM EST
    Here's my semi-superficial look at this issue...

    We can start from the very basic observation that U.S. foreign policy, like domestic policy, is largely influenced by special interest groups.

    In this case, the special interest groups are a collection of people representating the interests of international capital combined with the interests of some foreign governments that maintain powerful lobbies in D.C. It so happened that the Bush 43 group was influenced greatly by many groups that would benefit from the removal of Saddam Hussein. Thus the cascade of lies and hyperbolic propaganda that rose up after 9/11 and was spread by the elements of the media that have historically served the interests of international capital.

    Yes, we can eliminate most people that came out in support of the war as the whores of the special interests that wanted Iraq colonized, or as political opportunists. Then there are those war supporters that have no direct economic or political interest in the game. They're the hapless, oblivious ones that don't understand who is behind the curtain. They're only in it to watch the Hollywood special effects. And unfortunately, they make up a sizeable portion of the electorate, especially in red states. But the good news is that the movie has gotten old for them because it's no fun to see the heroes getting killed in slow motion for the past 3 years. Their attention span will only allow a fast paced movie with a happy ending. The worst fears of the warmongers have materialized as this group has now soured on the war. The only true believers are those with an investment of some sort and they are in it 'til the bitter end. And it will be very, very bitter for all of us. These are the most cynical bastards on earth we're dealing with...but I digress.

    As for Gulf War I, I was against it then and I still am. Saddam's beef with Kuwait was a long simmering one with its roots in the Anglo political partitions that created the oil fiefdoms a hundred years ago. This squabble was certainly no more a threat to the world oil supply than was the Iran-Iraq conflict of the 1980s, which we did not become involved in except to use our influence to see that both sides killed as many of the other side as possible. But the House of Saud was alarmed at Saddam's action into Kuwait and desired him contained. And that's who Bush 41 really took his orders from.

    I still wonder why we didn't march on Baghdad back in 1991. I don't believe some of the reasons the Bush 41 people give, even though they are obvious - it obviously didn't stop the eventuality from happening. My guess is that they were still worried about Vietnam syndrome and they knew the public wouldn't tolerate high casualty rates. They were essentially correct if that's the case. But 9/11 changed everything and the war crowd had their bloody shirt to wave every time the public got antsy by the steady stream of flag draped coffins. They will wave it until it tatters and blows away in the wind, and our Iraq death toll reaches that of Vietnam, if we let them.  

    Re: Supporting the Iraq Debacle (none / 0) (#3)
    by Edger on Mon Oct 23, 2006 at 07:53:48 PM EST
    Here's my semi-superficial look at this issue...

    You don't give yourself enough credit there, I think, Ernesto. Good post.


    Re: Supporting the Iraq Debacle (none / 0) (#2)
    by Andreas on Mon Oct 23, 2006 at 12:50:55 PM EST