Friday, July 13, 2012

Friday Rant: Revisiting Iraq

I was off traveling a bit and am now back in my basement where I belong.

I see that there has been a burst of interest in the possibility that Governor Romney might select former SecState Condi Rice as his VP running mate. What this shows, really, is how deep of a potential Veep bench the GOP enjoys. The party has an amazing number of superb candidates, Rice, Christie, Martinez, Rubio, Haley, Sandoval, West, and on and on. The Dems have nothing like that talent pool, and appear saddled with the pitiful Biden. Any one of the potential GOP Veepsters would make mincemeat of Pretentious Joe.

The talk about Rice, of course, brings up the issue of Iraq. I have heard people say she would be a bad choice as that would remind people of the "bad old days" under Bush, and rip open the Iraq scab and debate. First of all, those "bad old days" look pretty good compared to the days we are now living. The debate on Iraq? True, that might be a distraction, and is something that the Governor and his people will have to gauge as to whether in the relatively little time left before the November election the Romney campaign wants to spend time and resources refuting the many lies and distortions that the Dems throw out about Iraq.

That aside, I still believe that President Bush made the right call in taking out Saddam. Imagine how complex of a situation we would now face in the Middle East if we had Iraq and Iran apparently arming for nuclear war.

Ah, yes, weapons of mass destruction. Bush did not lie about Iraq and WMD. Iraq under Saddam had used WMDs on the Kurds, the Iraqi Shias, and on the Iranians. He had a long standing interest in developing WMDs and the delivery capability (Note: Let us not forget the Gerald Bull caper of the 1980s.) Nearly all of the intelligence and other information showed Saddam having an abiding interest in restarting his WMD program, put on ice after the first Gulf War. The debate was over the exact nature of the program and how far advanced it had gotten. Even President Clinton and the hideous Madeleine Albright shared the Bush administration's concern over Iraqi WMDs. Clinton's head of the CIA, George Tenet, who stayed on with Bush, was a strong proponent of the argument that the Iraqis were far along on their WMD program and had to be stopped. I believe (note, this is my personal view and not something I read in any intel reports) that Saddam thought he had a developed WMD capability as did many of his generals.

What was President Bush supposed to do?  Hope, pray that the intel was wrong and that Saddam did not have a WMD capability? That he was not really interested in having one? Ignore the intel on and the history of the Saddam regime? As President he could not do that.  He had an explicit example of what happens when you base your foreign policy on hope and half-hearted measures. That example was the "gift" left America by the Clinton administration: the attacks of 9/11. Never again.

12 comments:

  1. It's to early for Christie, he has not finished and cemented his reforms in NJ. Rice, hmmm, her voice reminds me of fingernails on a chalkboard (yes, I know, a shallow excuse...). West, there's a man's man who says what needs to be said and says it very clearly. The modern VP's job is to ride herd over the unruly crowd and do the arm-twisting, giving the POTUS plausible deniability. I don't know much about the others.

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  2. yet another rice alumJuly 13, 2012 at 6:19 PM

    RE: What was President Bush supposed to do? Hope, pray that the intel was wrong and that Saddam did not have a WMD capability? That he was not really interested in having one? Ignore the intel on and the history of the Saddam regime?

    Suppose Bush = Obama and Saddam = Iran. Isn't that exactly what's happening now?

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    1. My understanding was that, after the first Gulf War, the burden was on Iraq to demonstrate that they didn't have chemical weapons anymore. In all the hysteria about not finding a big enough smoking gun after 2003, why did no defender of the Administration or the war ever say, "It was not for us to prove he had them, it was for him to prove he didn't. We couldn't take the chance."

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    2. The did, Leopold. It's just that no one listened. Plenty of people, both from the Administration, and their defenders, said just that, in speeches, on the news, in debates with scurrilous Democrats. People just didn't listen. It's a real shame.

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  3. George pushed the Big "reset button" on Saddam. No one is paying us any attention beyond playing us for fools. My other big fear is if Morocco and Turkey fall to the jihadis they then be on the Dardenelles, Strait of Gibraltar, Red Sea, and the Persian Gulf. That would not be good.

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  4. I totally agree.

    The danger of WMD is that a small amount can kill a lot of people. You don't need huge stockpiles to be a threat. After 9/11 it became clear that it was necessary to preempt terrorist attacks. Iraq openly supported terrorists and had active WMD projects.

    The search for WMD during the war found that biological warfare scientists had samples at home in their refrigerators. Precursors to chemical weapons (insecticides) were found in camouflaged military bunkers. Iraq had the industrial capacity to turn biological samples and chemical precursors into WMD any time they wanted to.

    The WMD threat was real.

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  5. Is anybody paying attention to Syria's huge supply of about a half-dozen types of extremely deadly WMD? Several Iraqi generals during the recent war insisted that Saddam transported huge amounts of Iraqi WMD of the chemical variety to Syria surreptitiously under the guise that the dozen or so planes doing the transfer were providing "flood relief" after rains had afflicted parts of northern Syria.

    In fact, according to the generals, the planes had been specially outfitted to handle the highly toxic substances which now may be used by Bashar Al Assad against his enemies. Ditto Hezbollah in Lebanon.

    Bear in mind that early in Desert Shield in the run-up to the Gulf War, Saddam flew most of his air force to Iran, recently a mortal enemy during the 8-year Iran-Iraq War. And that Bashar's Ba'ath Party in Syria was a sister entity to the Iraqi Ba'ath Party. The UN inspectors had been denied access & American intelligence, pace my friend George Tenet, had woefully dropped the ball in covering the Iraqi machinations before the 2003 War, which I also supported.

    As a State Dept Arabist before retiring, I followed the unfolding of events in Iraq/Syria closely and am still amazed at the lack of MSM follow-up to the generals' allegations of the covert transfer of WMD to Syria. Indeed, even veteran Middle East foreign policy "experts" appear to have forgotten or never heard of the allegations.

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  6. BTW, I was given the opportunity through a mutual friend to lunch one-on-one with Col. Allen West here in Boca when he visited during his 2010 campaign. I was being vetted for a possible job pro bono in his campaign.

    Sadly, I made a silly mistake by telling him of my two tours in Vietnam as an FSO and a tour in Saudi Arabia as Political-Military Officer. I mentioned spending a couple of weeks at Ft. Bragg at the JFK Counterinsurgency School, but my real faux pas was calling him Lt. Col. West. He flinched visibly and a couple minutes later excused himself by saying he was late for his next campaign stop, which I had been told wasn't scheduled for another half-hour. Oh well..... "Light" Colonels can be sensitive to such instances of lese majeste.

    I admire Allan greatly for his outspoken advocacy of American interests and his ability to fire up the GOP base and to get commies like Soros to waste money trying to keep him from re-election.

    Finally, I love his ability to get the loathsome harridan Wasserman Schultz off message. It was sad that the Florida Fair Districting Act kept the Republican majority from redistricting her from a job in Congress.

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  7. I agree with you on what was GWB to do? Sadly, his staff seemed somnolent as over time he got off message. I blame t5he "brilliant" Rove for misjudging the issue, as he did so many others.

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  8. I agree with you on what was GWB to do? Sadly, his staff seemed somnolent as over time he got off message. I blame t5he "brilliant" Rove for misjudging the issue, as he did so many others.

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