Monday, May 16, 2005

Krugman Gets It

What he said.

People who supported the Iraq invasion and are now becoming squeamish are very keen on this idea that "it doesn't matter how we got there, we have to find a way forward, etc."

But it really does matter. If a man attacks someone with a knife on the street, and the two become locked in battle, it is absurd for the man who did the initial stabbing to say "well, now that this fight seems to have evened out a bit, it's cetainly immaterial who attacked whom."

It is not immaterial at all. That should be obvious to anyone with any shred of sense. People who supported the Iraq war based on the idea that Saddam Hussein was ready to acquire a nuclear weapon (the only real Weapon of Mass Destruction, if we're realistic) are probably feeling a little disoriented by the recent effort by the right wing noise machine, led by Little Green Footballs and other bastions of automatized defense of the Bush White House, to claim that the Bush administration never tried to hide the fact that the war was mostly about "spreading democracy."

But in reality, the Little Green Football Folk are right. The effort to sell the war based on any credible threat Saddam posed to America was half-assed at best. Anyone who looked beneath the surface (a group that unfortunately included almost no one in the mainstream media) would have seen that the pronouncements of the various Executive Branch spokespeople leading up to the war painted a very complex, almost inscrutable picture of the reasons for war.

Bush said himself before the war, publicly, that it did not matter if Saddam disarmed completely or even if he suddenly fled the country - the invasion would proceed anyway. This fact was reported by the major newspapers but has remained unremarked-upon for over two years.

To put it quite bluntly, the majority of the U.S. population who supported the Iraq war in March of 2003 may believe they were duped by a duplicitous president (or, for those who still cling to the fading image of a congenitally honest George W. Bush, merely an incompetent one), but the facts show otherwise. Supporters of this disaster of an invasion, which proceeded without Security Council authorization and over the protests off tens of millions of people around the world, supported the invasion because they like war.

This subject is of course quite taboo. Almost no one will admit to liking war as a general rule. But people's actions reveal what they are really like, as opposed to what they claim to be like.

Of course, in a sense we cannot blame these people. In our society the consequences for supporting a war that goes bad are essentially none, while the consequences for supporting a war that merely fails, but does not lead to widespread loss of American life (such as the war in Afghanistan, which has cost "only" a few hundred American soldiers dead and wounded) are severe.

As I've noted before, and Michael Moore have both gone to great lengths to cover up the fact that they opposed the Afghanistan invasion, presumably due to fears that having opposed a war that remains popular among Americans would result in too much of a drain on "credibility" with the American public.

But somehow the Washington Post doesn't have to pretend it opposed the Iraq war simply because most Americans now believe it was based on lies, and not worth fighting. There is no loss of credibility, apparently, associated with full-throated support of an illegal, foolhardy failure that kills and maims thousands of American soldiers and tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians.

A society with this kind of doctrinal structure is sure to get involved in bad wars, over and over and over again. The first step in preventing the next Iraq is calling the people who got us into this one to account.


RBP said...

Calling them to account, the architect's of the war, is hampered by the zombie press.
I love how the White House is shocked, shocked I tell you, at the Newsweek mention of Quuran abuses by interegators at Guantanamo.

Now they want more stringent sourcing and tighter journalistic standards?

This from an Administration that put's out "fake" news stories with "fake" reporters. Allows a partisan hack to pose as a reporter under an assumed name into White House briefings for two years. Pays columnist to espouse the party line in their columns.

I live in the red state dirty south, and I still to this day run in to people who think Saddam and Osama were buddies and planned 9/11 together. And they are glad we're over there "kicking ass."

Makes me want to puke.

Uncle Carlos said...

Krugman's suggestion that we tell the Iraq's that they only have our support for a certain amount of time would be well received in Iraq, it is in Washington where it will not. They don't want to leave until they have the government they desire, as oppose to the one the Iraqis might choose. And we aren't building bases in that country so we can just up and leave them.

And your assertion that; "Supporters of this disaster of an invasion... supported the invasion because they like war." is at best misleading and at worse malarkey. There are these people, but the vast majority are merely comfortable with it as a form of political action. They are perfectly comfortable with peace as well, as long as they get "their way". They don't "like war", they like getting things their way, and if that takes some war, so be it.

Adam P. Short said...

That's your opinion, one which in my opinion is not borne out by facts. Anyone who supported the Iraq war did so because they wanted to, on some level, for guttural reasons.

Most can't accept or face this, including you. But that isn't my problem.

Adam P. Short said...

And yes, I said "guttural" when I meant "visceral." But there's no way to fix comments.

Traveller said...

Two of the major reasons many Americans supported the war are 1) Americans like quick fixes and think that violence serves that purpose and 2) Americans like to be entertained -- who can forget CNN's coverage of the night sky with bombs bursting in air during the first Gulf War: fun! lovely! better than any sit-com! Yes, Americans like peace, but not all the time. That gets boring.

Apeman is right. And accountability (a la Nuremberg) is essential but a lost hope, I think. We have a genuine problem with morality here. Morality is given much lip service but almost no support.

Adam P. Short said...

I want to be clear about who needs to be held accountable, and what that would look like. I'm not talking about the actual administraion. They had their own reasons to make war.

I'm talking about the people, primarily in the media but also in the population, who supported the war despite - and here is my key point - despite the fact that any person who bothered to look could see that the official justifications for war were flimsy and made no sense.

When people are faced with a decision, they tend to reason until the point where they achieve an emotionally satisfying result. That's what happened on Iraq; folks turned it over in their minds until they got to Yes! And that made them feel good.

That goes for the managing editor of the Washington Post right down to schoolteachers and defense contractors and whoever else failed to oppose the deep-down stupidest war in human history.

Eric said...

Well, I agree - again, you're a voice of reason... and, I think, one of the most lucid bloggers i've ever read.

We have been completely right about Iraq, from the start. The idea that the media has a "liberal" bias is so absurd, just by looking at these last few years... if that were the case, and the media did indeed tell the truty - and actualy investigate like they should, GWB wouldn't have had a chance in hell....

Anyways, great post.

Uncle Carlos said...

"I'm talking about the people, ... who supported the war despite... "

I'm still not sure what qualifications you're putting on this population. The vast majority of people who "supported" the war did so in the most benign manner, mostly involving ignorance. Huge numbers of them believed that Sadam had something to do with 9/11. They had no "actions" by which to judge them since their primary "action" was a sort of willful indifference. They didn't "like" war, they merely were indifferent to it and want a form of belief in authority that is based in obedience and trust. They would have been equally as happy if Sadam had merely stepped down and no shots fired as long as Bush told them it was good. There are people that "want" war, as some sort of chest pounding demonstration of superiority. But they are few and far between. 'Round these parts we call 'em "snake eaters".

Anonymous said...

From Charles Seeman:

It is almost laughable when lib's use the argument that saddam did not have wmd's


After Gulf 1 saddam used illegal gases on 100,000 of his own people what happened to these weapons... are you actually silly enough to think he just got rid of them.

FACT: Between 1996- 2000 bill clinton and other leading lib's were running around telling us that saddam was a threat. yet it is always Bush that mislead everyone. Hmmmmmmm

FACT: The new york times reported that a chief UN inspector reported that weapons stockpile were less after we occuiped iraq then before we got there.... what weapons is he talking about if sadddam had no weapons....

More Later

Adam P. Short said...

Uncle Carlos:

You've restated your position but haven't bothered to respond to mine. I don't deny that people supported the war out of ignorance. Willful ignorance. When people reach the conclusion they want to reach, they stop. That's what happened with this war.

Certainly there are people who are so stupid that they can't reason clearly enough to see through the laughably flimsy justifications for the Iraq war. But I don't know any such people. Everyone I know (and that includes quite a few who did support this war, some very vocally) is smart enough to reach their own conclusions about the Iraq war. They need to look within themselves to uncover why they accepted so easily "facts" that they could have easily discovered to be false.

Which brings us to Mr. Seeman...

Fact 1: There are two known instances of Saddam's army gassing people. Both were awful atrocities. The first was use of poison gas against Iranians and Kurdish militants (and nearby civilians) that was basically ongoing in 1983 and 1984. The U.S. government officially condemned the use of poison gas by Iraq in 1984, but it was revealed in documents released in 2003 that in fact we privately told the Iraqis we were cool with it if it would help them win the war with Iran.

Then, nearer to the end of the Iran-Iraq war, there was an incident at Halabja where about 5000 Kurds were gassed. There was some confusion at the time as to exactly who was responsible, and since we were backing Iraq at that time, we were quite adamant that it was not Saddam's army but the Iranian army. To be fair, we were probably lying.

So those are the two known instances of Saddam using chemical weapons. When we refer to both cases in the American media, it is customary to leave out three words which we impolitely include here: WITH OUR SUPPORT.

Saddam did not gas anyone after the Gulf war. That's simply an outright fabrication. You can look it up quite easily, though I doubt you will.

Adam P. Short said...

FACT 2: Clinton did use Saddam's imaginary threat as an excuse to bomb Iraq in 1998. That was a minor war crime, and it was deceitful. It is weird to me that after reading this site for any length of time that you would think I have any love for Bill Clinton. HINT - I ain't that kind of Democrat.

However, Bill Clinton did not invade Iraq based on imaginary weapons of mass destruction. That was another dude.

FACT 3 - I dunno, what could that guy have been talking about? Seeing as how the atricle you're citing was a piece about unsecured conventional explosives, maybe he was talking about conventional explosives?

You didn't make it clear what specific article you are referring to, but here's one that makes this basic point if you want to familiarize yourself with your own source material.

Uncle Carlos:

Behold this guy. He is not incapable of reasoning. But he clings to views unsupported by facts. Indeed, he clings to facts that aren't facts.

Why is that?

Uncle Carlos said...

It has taken me some time to fully understand what has been going on for the last decade or so, but it has become woefully clear. In full, it's a discussion for a different forum I suspect. But in short (excusing the pun), we have reached a point in US society where what one believes is vastly more valid than what one can either prove, or worse, what evidence clearly shows to be false. As such, things are getting better in Iraq, even though all outward sides say otherwise. Why? Because we "believe" it. Evolution is false, despite the evidence to support it, because of what we believe. Schiavo can get better, despite all evidence to the contrary, because we "believe in a culture of life". In such a context, what one believes is more important than what one observes. The observation is wrong if it does not conform to the belief. An explanation, which does not conform to the facts, but to the belief, is correct and those which conform to observations, but not belief are false. You cannot "argue" with such people, you cannot "prove" them wrong. They will not be swayed by their own observations because their trust, their confidence, their logic is rooted in what they believe, not in what they see, or can demonstrate. "Realist" is a perjorative in this context.

We can all be guilty of this to some degree, sports fans are probably the worse. But currently we are living in a culture which has adopted this as their singular vision of the universe. In a clinical context, I understand it is defined as "congative dissonance". The frightening part is there is no apparent way to confront this world view. Regardless of what evidence, what memo, what testimony, what world event you can produce, the belief will rule.

Adam P. Short said...

This is all very tiring. But lifting my spirits are two new words you and I have managed to create: "congative" and "atricle."

"I'm sorry, sir, but you have a congative atricle. We'll have to operate immediately."

Anonymous said...

Charles Seeman:

Ok if he used illegal chemical gases that is a WMD..... So obviously he had the weapons..

So regardless of our support or not.... HE had the weapons and capability to produce these weapons.. what happened to the weapons and the weapons not used on his people.

I beleive you are incorrect about him not gasing 100,0000 of his own people and I will confirm it... but that is an aside to my original argument


Anonymous said...

Charles Seeman:

Ok if he used illegal chemical gases that is a WMD..... So obviously he had the weapons..

So regardless of our support or not.... HE had the weapons and capability to produce these weapons.. what happened to the weapons and the weapons not used on his people.

I beleive you are incorrect about him not gasing 100,0000 of his own people and I will confirm it... but that is an aside to my original argument


Anonymous said...

For AP:
From Charles Seeman:

This is the first time I heard anyone say Bill Clinton was using WMD's as an excuse also. so let my restate your contention on fact # 2: libs were lying in 1990's bush was lying after 2001 and Saddam had never had WMD's. its just clinton was a "minor crime" and bush "invaded" . If you feel this is a fair restate of your position and for purposes of this response i am going to assume that you think this is a fair restatement.

Again Chemical weapons are both illegal and considered a WMD.

Second: do you honestly beleive that a man who invaded kuwait and iran, had the 3rd largest army in the world and the only top 3 without such weapons.. did not want them.. does that really fit with your understanding of BASIC HUMAN characteristics.. I would answer that question as no... it makes no sense to me that Saddam would not have any interest in acquiring WMD' my opinion that's like saying Hitler had not interst in developing WMD's

NOTE: I did not compare hitler to saddam in any way except as to say both were human beings hungry for power.

P.P.S. Please don't call me Mr. Seeman you are making me feel very old......

Adam P. Short said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Adam P. Short said...


Listen to what you are saying. Try to understand how ridiculous it sounds. You came here and posted an assertion that you had not bothered to confirm, which was blatantly false. As you now see, I am intimately familiar with the incidents to which you allude, for the simple reason that massive atrocities by world leaders are important to me for reasons other than drumming up support for war against whatever country my leaders decide they want to attack. I have spent much of my adult life carefully studying foreign policy (as a hobby), so that I could understand the true state of world affairs and what might be done to ameliorate it.

Now you want to claim that it is not important to your argument (that Saddam necessarily must have possessed chemical weapons in 2003) whether Saddam gassed 100,000 people in 1983-84, with the decisive support of the United States, including key figures in the Bush Administration (as is the actual case); or in 1993-94, after he had become an official U.S. enemy (as you falsely claimed).

This statement is so audacious that it hardly requires a response. However, I will provide one anyway. First of all, the 100,000 number you are using is the estimate of the number of total casualties (killed and wounded) in chemical weapons attacks by Iraqis in the entire 8-year Iran-Iraq war, in which the United States backed Iraq throughout (that is, right through the 83-84 gas attacks and the 1988 Halabja massacre.) The number comes from Iranian estimates, so it is not completely credible, but we will accept it for the sake of argument. In any case the total number of killed and wounded is not particularly relevant - gassing people is a major atrocity regardless of whether it's 10,000 or 100,000 people.

The timing of Iraqi gas attacks is relevant for several reasons. The key ones are:

1) For the Bush Administration to use gas attacks which they supported and indirectly participated in as a partial justification for war over a decade later is ridiculous on its face.

2) Chemical weapons, once manufactured, have a shelf life of about six months. After that they are unreliable. After a few years they are useless. Chemical weapons stockpiled in 1988 (or 1984) would have been useless by 1993, much less 2003.

3) Saddam has been painted as some kind of crazy person, but of course he was a shrewd and brutal dictator who understood very clearly the dictates of power and how to retain it. Otherwise he could never have ruled Iraq for 20 years, longer than almost any world leader who reigned during the same period (the main exceptions being Castro and Qadafi.) His behavior is not hard to understand in terms of his relationship with the United States; all his greatest crimes were perpetrated with our enthusiastic support. The invasion of Kuwait, an act of aggression no doubt, was the result of a miscommunication between Saddam and the Bush State Department - Saddam mistakenly thought the U.S. had greenlighted the invasion.

The point is, the idea that Saddam was planning to perpetrate some sort of massive chemical or biological weapons attack on the United States in 2003 was never credible to any person with a basic acquaintance with the elementary facts of the situation.

The canard that is usually thrown out at this point (you probably have your arm cocked back as I type this) is that Saddam had the "capability" to produce chemical and biological weapons.

The problem with this argument is that every industrialized country has the capability to produce chemical and biological weapons. The precursors for mustard gas production are identical to the precursors for any number of legitimate industrial processes. Biotoxins can be produced with extremely primitive technology (the hard part is weaponization, a capability Iraq is not known to have possessed.)

So basically, my response to your entire argument in this thread is:

Sadly, no.

Anonymous said...

From Charles

First of all I did not conceed the fact that Saddam gased 100,0000's of his own people I conceeded the argument to make a broader point which of course like all liberals you ignore..

To date: I have found approximately 50 % of your so called facts to be fabrications.. so if i was you I really would not call myself an expert on anything...

Plus the sources you do use the new york times, la times and Dan Rather are questionable at best..

So you really should not be questioning facts.. However using one fact that is agreed upon by both parties is a reasonable and well used tatic to continue a debate..It seemed to me that you agreed the Saddam used gases and you admit it.... but like most liberals when you can not support a logical argument you evade the question by not distraction...

I will RESTATE THE ISSUE AS CLEARLY AS POSSIBLE FOR YOU TO UNDERSTAND.... THE QUESTION IS DID SADDAM HAVE WMD's you admitted that he used them in 1993 so he had the capability to produce them shelf life or not... if he produced them in 1993 why would'nt he continue into 2003 if nothing stopped him.. THe fact bush approved or not is NOT THE POINT.....

Anonymous said...

The rest of your explaination is so stupid that there has never been any liberal that had the nerve to use it.. I think you need to get your information from other sources then the democratic underground and Move on org....

Adam P. Short said...

[Bangs head on table.]

I think we can consider this argument settled.