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Tenth anniversary of the Iraq War

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Re: Tenth anniversary of the Iraq War

Postby kurt_w » Thu Mar 28, 2013 7:47 am

When the Iraq War Resolution was passed by the House and the Senate, Democrats were deeply divided. Overall, they voted against the war, but it was far from unanimous -- 147 voted against the war, 111 voted for it.

The Republicans were much more unified. Only 7 voted against the war, versus 263 who voted for it. Who were those 2% of Republicans who voted against the war?

Sen. Lincoln Chafee (RI), who left both the Party and the Senate.
Rep. John Duncan (TN), the only one still in Congress.
Rep. John Hostettler (IN)
Rep. Amory Houghton (NY)
Rep. James Leach (IA)
Rep. Connie Morella (MD)
Rep. Ron Paul (TX)

A while back, HuffPo did a set of interviews with five of those seven (Duncan and Hostettler were unavailable). It's fascinating to read.

Here's Lincoln Chafee:

"To me, it was about growing up in the Vietnam era and not wanting to go through that again [...] I remember the difficulty the soldiers had coming back here after Vietnam. They had the same issues: PTSD, re-immersion, alcoholism. You have to be prepared to take all that on."

Chafee also didn't believe CIA officials who showed him photos of metal tubes in Iraq and said they were being used to make weapons of mass destruction. He recalled thinking those tubes could have been purchased at a local hardware store and used for a multitude of things.

"More than anything, it was the body language of the CIA that told me it wasn't true," he said.


Smart guy, Chafee.

Ron Paul also thought Iraq was no threat to the US, and (rightly) worried about the cost:

There was no threat to our national security, and also the arguments that they were using [for] why we had to go in, I didn't believe them [...] I could see where it was going to cost us a lot of money, and I kept saying this even before -- it's going to cost us a lot of money, a lot of lives. It's going to go on a long time.


The others among the seven have interesting comments, too.
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Re: Tenth anniversary of the Iraq War

Postby DCB » Thu Mar 28, 2013 9:38 am

kurt_w wrote:
"
Chafee also didn't believe CIA officials who showed him photos of metal tubes in Iraq and said they were being used to make weapons of mass destruction. He recalled thinking those tubes could have been purchased at a local hardware store and used for a multitude of things.

"More than anything, it was the body language of the CIA that told me it wasn't true," he said.


Smart guy, Chafee.

I'm imaging the meeting went something like this:

CIA guy: Here's the intel Mr. Cheney (cough) wanted you to see.
Chafee: Is this data thoroughly researched?
CIA guy: (blinks) Um, this is the intel Mr. Cheney (cough, cough) wanted you to see.
Chafee: got it.

Too bad his fellow Senators didn't pick up on the cues.
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Re: Tenth anniversary of the Iraq War

Postby Meade » Thu Mar 28, 2013 9:53 am

If Bush had not decided to get rid of Saddam, of the people who are now convinced of their wisdom in opposing him or in changing their minds midstream, how many would now be beating themselves for their ignorance in not foreseeing how horrible an unrestrained, oil-rich, vengeance-seeking Saddam would be? Those blessed with 20/20 hindsight seem to think they are the pinnacle of evolution and that their narrow predictions of what might have been are the only possible ones. These are the people who laughed at Rumsfeld's unknown unkowns. Wise people look at what happened and try to learn from events. Idiots don't have to learn because they already know everything.
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Re: Tenth anniversary of the Iraq War

Postby kurt_w » Thu Mar 28, 2013 10:02 am

Interesting to see people bring up the National Review in this thread. Is there any collective of pundits and prognosticators that was -- and still is -- so thoroughly, consistently wrong about Iraq?

David Frum has kinda, sorta apologized for his role in promoting the war ... but he left the National Review years ago. As did Rod Dreher, another conservative who understands the magnitude of our failure in Iraq (Iraq: Was It Worth It?).

But the best conservative writing on Iraq has consistently been in The American Conservative magazine. Even before the war began, back in 2002, TAC was publishing warnings about the mistake that George Bush was leading the country into (Iraq Invasion: The Road to Folly). The writers at TAC have also pointed out how the Republican Party has learned nothing of importance from its failed war, as can be seen in the ways Republicans talk about Iran and Syria today (How Much Have Republicans Learned from the Iraq Debacle?).

The contrast between the detached-from-reality conservatives at the National Review, and the still-in-touch-with-reality conservatives at The American Conservative, is perfectly highlighted in a recent exchange between NR's David French and TAC's Daniel Larison (The Poisonous Obsession with “Resolve” in Foreign Policy).

David French bemoans American weakness in failing to pursue the Iraq War with sufficient toughness:

[The] comparison to World War I helps demonstrate how unjustified and shameful our lost resolve is. We act weak in the aftermath of the Iraq War not because we’ve been defeated or rendered weak by vast casualties — like those of the Western Front in World War I — but because we choose to be weak.


But TAC's Daniel Larison demolishes French's pro-war argument:

I’m trying to come up with a word to describe this reaction other than crazy, but I’m having a hard time finding a better one. If Americans are less inclined to have the U.S. fight in more unnecessary wars after an unnecessary war that lasted almost nine years, that isn’t weakness. It’s sanity. A nation that can’t distinguish between avoidable wars of choice and wars to defend its legitimate interests is not in any sense a strong one, but one that is destined to exhaust itself through endless conflict.

Of course, Rubin’s WWI comparison is ridiculous, but French’s obsession with “resolve” is worse. When French refers to resolve here, he’s talking about support for military action in conflicts where no U.S. interests are at stake. If Americans have lost the “resolve” to start unnecessary wars or involve the U.S. in other countries’ ongoing internal conflicts, that suggests that the Iraq war may have had some salutary effect on the way that Americans think about using force overseas. Invoking “resolve” or willpower as a virtue and as the solution to virtually every policy problem has become so common among dead-ender Iraq war supporters that it has long since passed the point of self-parody, but it’s worth remembering that it is exactly this sort of mindless posturing about “resolve” and “strength” that helped warp the pre-war debate in 2002-03. It was nonsense then, and it still is today.


That's exactly it. Any reasonably sane conservatives like Frum and Dreher have been driven out of the National Review's fold, charged with heresy. The remnant of writers remaining at the National Review are dead-enders whose refusal to admit what everyone knows to be true makes them every bit as laughable as Saddam's own "Baghdad Bob" was during the first heady days of the war.
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Re: Tenth anniversary of the Iraq War

Postby kurt_w » Thu Mar 28, 2013 10:08 am

DCB wrote:I'm imaging the meeting went something like this:

CIA guy: Here's the intel Mr. Cheney (cough) wanted you to see.
Chafee: Is this data thoroughly researched?
CIA guy: (blinks) Um, this is the intel Mr. Cheney (cough, cough) wanted you to see.
Chafee: got it.

Too bad his fellow Senators didn't pick up on the cues.


The article quotes former Republican congressman Jim Leach (another of the 2% of Republicans who voted against the war) as saying this:

A smart person, we are told, learns from his or her mistakes. But a really smart person also learns from the mistakes of others.


Neither the National Review, nor the rest of the Republican Party, has shown any evidence of learning anything from the Iraq war.
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Re: Tenth anniversary of the Iraq War

Postby Meade » Thu Mar 28, 2013 10:16 am

If Bush had not decided to get rid of Saddam, of the people who are now convinced of their wisdom in opposing him or in changing their minds midstream, how many would now be beating themselves for their ignorance in not foreseeing how horrible an unrestrained, oil-rich, vengeance-seeking Saddam would be? Those blessed with 20/20 hindsight seem to think they are the pinnacle of evolution and that their narrow predictions of what might have been are the only possible ones. These are the people who laughed at Rumsfeld's unknown unkowns. Wise people look at what happened and try to learn from events. Idiots don't have to learn because they already know everything.
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Re: Tenth anniversary of the Iraq War

Postby kurt_w » Thu Mar 28, 2013 11:31 am

Since Meade thinks that comment is so insightful that it's worth posting three times in succession with no value-added content, let's dissect it:

Meade wrote:If Bush had not decided to get rid of Saddam, of the people who are now convinced of their wisdom in opposing him or in changing their minds midstream, how many would now be beating themselves for their ignorance in not foreseeing how horrible an unrestrained, oil-rich, vengeance-seeking Saddam would be?

Translation: "In the real world I was wrong, but in an imaginary alternate universe of my own devising, I would be right and those anti-war people would be wrong! So there!"

That's a pretty weak argument there, Meade. It no doubt makes you feel good to imagine your opponents "beating themselves for their ignorance" ... but in reality, the rest of us aren't bemoaning how mistaken we were in opposing the war. In the real world, as opposed to the Meadeverse, the war was a stupid mistake.

Let's also look at the rhetoric there of "changing their minds midstream". You're trying to imply that it's somehow virtuous to persist in holding a wrong opinion even after the facts show that it's wrong.

Obviously, the best thing would be to have opposed the war from the start. But if you started out as a war supporter, it's obviously better to recognize reality and change your mind than to persist bullheadedly in digging yourself deeper and deeper into a hole.

Back to Meade:

Those blessed with 20/20 hindsight seem to think they are the pinnacle of evolution and that their narrow predictions of what might have been are the only possible ones.

The wording "20/20 hindsight" is cute, because it shows how the original author of that comment still can't bring him/herself to admit that some people actually got the question of whether the war was a good idea right from the start ... not just in "hindsight". Millions of Americans were against the war all the way back in 2002.

Sarcastic references to "the pinnacle of evolution" don't help your argument, either. They just make you look bitter.

These are the people who laughed at Rumsfeld's unknown unkowns. Wise people look at what happened and try to learn from events. Idiots don't have to learn because they already know everything.

See the Jim Leach quote above. There's no sign that Meade, nor the commenter whose work he copypastes over and over and over again, nor the National Review, nor Meade's Republican Party, has learned anything from the Iraq war.
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Re: Tenth anniversary of the Iraq War

Postby DCB » Thu Mar 28, 2013 4:16 pm

kurt_w wrote:
These are the people who laughed at Rumsfeld's unknown unkowns. Wise people look at what happened and try to learn from events. Idiots don't have to learn because they already know everything.

I was one of the people who laughed. I laugh when I re-read this:

09/18/2002, Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense (before Congress)
"We do know that the Iraqi regime has chemical and biological weapons. His regime has amassed large, clandestine stockpiles of chemical weapons -- including VX, sarin, cyclosarin and mustard gas. ... His regime has amassed large, clandestine stockpiles of biological weapons—including anthrax and botulism toxin, and possibly smallpox." (presentation to Congress)


11/15/2002, Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense
"Five days or five months, but it certainly isn't going to last longer."

01/10/2003, Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense
"... something under $50 billion for the cost. How much of that would be the U.S. burden, and how much would be other countries, is an open question.”

http://zfacts.com/iraq-war-quotes

And then I want to cry.
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Re: Tenth anniversary of the Iraq War

Postby Meade » Sun Apr 07, 2013 4:00 pm

"The Arab Spring Started in Iraq"
ON April 9, 2003, Baghdad fell to an American-led coalition. The removal of Saddam Hussein and the toppling of a whole succession of other Arab dictators in 2011 were closely connected — a fact that has been overlooked largely because of the hostility that the Iraq war engendered.

Toppling Mr. Hussein put the system of which he was such an integral part under newfound scrutiny. If the 1991 war was about the restoration of the Arab state system, the 2003 war called into question that system’s very legitimacy. That’s why support from Arab monarchies was not forthcoming in 2003, when a new, more equitable order was on the agenda in Iraq.

After 2003, the edifice of the Arab state system began to crack elsewhere. In 2005, thousands of Lebanese marched in the streets to boot out the occupying Syrian Army; Palestinians tasted their first real elections; American officials twisted the arm of Hosni Mubarak to allow Egyptians a slightly less rigged election in 2006; and a new kind of critical writing began to spread online and in fiction.

The Arab political psyche began to change as well. The legitimating ideas of post-1967 Arab politics — pan-Arabism, armed struggle, anti-imperialism and anti-Zionism — ideas that undergirded the regimes in both Iraq and Syria, were rubbing up against the realities of life under Mr. Hussein.
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Re: Tenth anniversary of the Iraq War

Postby Steve Vokers » Sun Apr 07, 2013 5:34 pm

I generally don't feed the trolls, but...

Meade, I regret to inform you that the Arab spring did not begin in Iraq. The Arab spring was about people rising up against their own dictators, whereas the Iraq war was about a Western nation deposing someone else's dictator.

Have you ever watched Sesame Street? Did you ever hear them sing the song "Which One of These is Not Like the Others?" Because that's the song that was going through my head as I read that misguided article you linked to.
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Re: Tenth anniversary of the Iraq War

Postby snoqueen » Sun Apr 07, 2013 5:39 pm

Reagan caused the collapse of the USSR, too.
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Re: Tenth anniversary of the Iraq War

Postby Meade » Sun Apr 07, 2013 5:47 pm

Actually, the collapse was started by the Beatles. Reagan just happened to be the first U.S. president who had the nerve to look behind the curtain and then give it a fatal tug... much to the disappointment of international communists, socialists, and progressives.

Don't you wish Reagan had drones like Obama does?
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Re: Tenth anniversary of the Iraq War

Postby Detritus » Sun Apr 07, 2013 7:19 pm

Meade wrote:Don't you wish Reagan had drones like Obama does?

Present company excepted, I presume?

By the way, right after the piece of the editorial you quoted approvingly is this little chunk:
Both the George W. Bush administration and the Iraqi expatriate opposition to Mr. Hussein — myself included — grossly underestimated those costs in the run-up to the 2003 war. The Iraqi state, we failed to realize, had become a house of cards.

None of these errors of judgment were necessarily an argument against going to war if you believed, as I do, that overthrowing Mr. Hussein was in the best interests of the Iraqi people. The calculus looks different today if one’s starting point is American national interest. I could not in good conscience tell an American family grieving for a son killed in Iraq that the war “was worth it.”

I notice you didn't mention this part. Why is that?
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Re: Tenth anniversary of the Iraq War

Postby Detritus » Mon Apr 08, 2013 2:25 pm

Detritus wrote:
Meade wrote:Don't you wish Reagan had drones like Obama does?

Present company excepted, I presume?

By the way, right after the piece of the editorial you quoted approvingly is this little chunk:
Both the George W. Bush administration and the Iraqi expatriate opposition to Mr. Hussein — myself included — grossly underestimated those costs in the run-up to the 2003 war. The Iraqi state, we failed to realize, had become a house of cards.

None of these errors of judgment were necessarily an argument against going to war if you believed, as I do, that overthrowing Mr. Hussein was in the best interests of the Iraqi people. The calculus looks different today if one’s starting point is American national interest. I could not in good conscience tell an American family grieving for a son killed in Iraq that the war “was worth it.”

I notice you didn't mention this part. Why is that?

Bump.
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Re: Tenth anniversary of the Iraq War

Postby Meade » Mon Apr 08, 2013 3:57 pm

Detritus wrote:
Detritus wrote:
Meade wrote:Don't you wish Reagan had drones like Obama does?

Present company excepted, I presume?

By the way, right after the piece of the editorial you quoted approvingly is this little chunk:
Both the George W. Bush administration and the Iraqi expatriate opposition to Mr. Hussein — myself included — grossly underestimated those costs in the run-up to the 2003 war. The Iraqi state, we failed to realize, had become a house of cards.

None of these errors of judgment were necessarily an argument against going to war if you believed, as I do, that overthrowing Mr. Hussein was in the best interests of the Iraqi people. The calculus looks different today if one’s starting point is American national interest. I could not in good conscience tell an American family grieving for a son killed in Iraq that the war “was worth it.”

I notice you didn't mention this part. Why is that?

Bump.

Bump.
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