Thursday, March 18, 2004
Yesterday, Cheney gave a speech in which he said that if John Kerry were president, Saddam Hussein would still be in power. (Because he voted against the $87 billion) So? And if Saddam were still in power, Mr. Vice President, what would it mean? It would mean that we were still in a policy of containment, not bleeding men and money in a war that can’t be won by force alone, in a country neither we nor our leadership understand, that does not want us there. It would mean that all those who have died violently in the past year would still be alive. It would mean that common sense might have prevailed over the policy of regime change. And maybe it would mean that America would take its rightful place as one among many nations who believe in the rule of law and democratic government and not some fantasy of an imperial world domination that appears to motivate the Bush people.
As for the argument that war was the only way to remove Saddam Hussein, no human being lasts for ever. Saddam was very weakened. I have spoken to officials from his former regime who said at the end other senior officials, including Tariq Aziz (Saddam’s foreign minister) and General Ali Hassan al-Majid (Chemical Ali), were running the country in the last 12 months. Saddam Hussein was not the Saddam Hussein described to us as a danger to the US and Europe. That was absolute nonsense.
Yes Iraqis suffered under this man, but people in Iraq are not suffering any less in their daily life now, what order there was – even under a dictator – is gone. Whatever we see now is no fundamental improvement. “
Hans von Sponeck is the former UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq. He was responsible for administering the distribution of goods in Iraq under the Oil-For-Food program. He resigned his post in 2000 in protest against the effects of the Sanctions against Iraq.
A foreign policy based on willful ignorance?
A lot of very foolish things are being said by both sides in our American debate.
That electing Zapatero in Spain is appeasing the terrorists. (Neocons) How idiotic! Do not Spaniards have the right to oust a government that has lied to them and tried to control the news for its own political purposes? Are they not that messy democracy that Rumsfeld is always talking about and therefore free to choose as they wish? Besides, Spain has a longer experience with terror and terrorists than the USA, and much closer knowledge of countries and cultures on the other side of the Mediterranean.
That there is a conspiracy and a grand design to make the US into the one ruling imperial grand power with the rest of the world at the mercy of its military and economic might. (Peaceniks, Far Left) Even America may run out of money at the rate Bush is spending it! The theory of a vast extent of US bases in the Middle East starting with Iraq, seems economically undoable. We can’t support the military efforts that are already out there.
Tuesday, March 16, 2004
Hans Blix is always interesting, and always so completely sane and rational. He is one voice of reason in the roar of partisan controversy over the war in Iraq. Here are some key points from his interview with Bob Edwards.
“No weapons were found after 1994.” He also states that this fact has been pretty much ignored, and that by asking Iraq to prove that they no longer had weapons of mass destruction, we were asking them to prove a negative which is an extremely difficult if not impossible thing to do. When the UN inspectors returned to Iraq in November 2002, they inspected sites whose locations had been given them by the intelligence services, and found nothing. Although not completely convinced that it was wrong at this stage, Blix was definitely suspicious about the accuracy of the intelligence.
He talks about the buildup of arms in Kuwait and seeing it as pressure on the Iraqis to disarm, stating that if the allies had stopped about 50,000 troops, it could have been just enough pressure to make the Iraqis come forward and accept the renewal of inspections. That is what happened in reality. Saddam did indeed accept the inspectors. However, Blix also says that once the buildup had reached 300,000, the allies could not have withdrawn the troops without impossible-to-face embarrassment, so they were caught in having to go to war regardless of what the inspectors might find or the truth. They painted themselves into a corner with the size of the buildup, and from then on war was inevitable.
“The leadership did not exercise sufficient critical judgment.” This is pretty much what I’ve been talking about lately. Blix points out that intelligence is always guesswork, and I’ve already said somewhere in here how poor our past record is at such guesswork because we so seldom have our own qualified skeptics to check the accuracy of information brought to us by defectors and others with their own axes to grind. But the iffiness of intelligence is not the point. What is absolutely critical is the hard look at the guesswork that separates what is rumor and hearsay from verifiable, backed up sources that can be used as evidence to formulate policy. For some reason, this was where there was an abysmal failure on both sides of the Atlantic. It will be interesting to see what future investigations into the conduct of the war bring to light about motives for jumping to such wrong conclusions.
It is unbelievable to me that Chalabi is still being paid for his so-called intelligence, and that otherwise intelligent people would accept the words of this convicted criminal and power seeking person.
“They were 100% convinced there were weapons of mass destruction, and they had zero knowledge of where they were.” Just being convinced that something is true does not make it actually true. “if you sentence someone to war, you better have some evidence.” Conviction must be based on something more verifiable that simple belief or doubtful “intelligence”. Hans Blix illustrated this back in September when he compared Britain and the US to medieval witch hunters. “In the Middle Ages, when people were convinced there were witches, they certainly found them. This is a bit risky.”
And it is certain, in view of recent events in Spain and Iraq, that the world is not a safer place because Saddam Hussein is no longer the latter country’s brutal ruler.