Blair to Bolt to Parkinson

One of the many factual errors in Parkinson’s piece on deaths in Iraq was the claim that the Lancet study only surveyed 788 households (actually it was 988 households). I did a Google search to see who else had made the same error, and what do you know, it first appeared in a error-filled May 25 article by Andrew Bolt:

Lancet surveyed 788 Iraqi households. The UN surveyed 21,668 — or almost 30 times more. You figure which is more accurate.

Parkinson’s column was drafted just two days after Bolt’s, and like Bolt he failed to mention that the ILCS only covered the first year of the occupation and was just measuring those directly killed in the fighting and not including the increased deaths from disease and murder. There doesn’t seem to be any other source for the 788 number so it looks like Parkinson got his information from Bolt.

And where did Bolt get his story from? Mostly likely this Tim Blair post. (Bolt says that Blair’s blog is “daily reading” for him.) Like Bolt, Blair gets the size of the Lancet survey wrong, saying that it only covered 808 households. Blair goes out of his way to avoid mentioning that the surveys covered different time periods. He quotes from an email I sent to him that explained that the surveys covered different periods, but chose not to include that part of my email in his post.

The circle was completed when Blair approvingly quoted Parkinson’s comments on the Lancet study (which were derived from a Bolt column which was derived from a Blair post.)

i-5e73fc6ed88f726ae40cf97c1fd1a1d8-spooner.jpg

Spooner’s cartoon (shown above) that accompanied Parkinson’s article insinuates that anti-war people were glad to find that the war had killed 100,000 people. Bolt makes a similar claim in his column:

no story about America’s evil is too improbable for many leading commentators, who gleefully repeated these exaggerated figures.

However, if you read what war opponents have written about the Lancetfindings, it is perfectly clear that they are not “gleeful” about the loss of life, but saddened and angry. It is disappointing that Spooner and Bolt would draw/write such a blatant falsehood.

Comments

  1. #1 Pro bono mathematician
    June 5, 2005

    It is interesting to see the enthusiasm with which the pro-war camp embraced the 24,000 victims finding. One can only imagine how the UN report would have been attacked if not for the Lancet study. (Nevermind that the two studies actually agree.)

    A more realistic cartoon would have shown a person jumping with joy, with the caption: “A chicken-hawk hears the wonderful news that the US violently killed 24,000 Iraqis”.

  2. #2 Ian Gould
    June 5, 2005

    Why do I get the feeling this is one instance of plagiarism Tim Blair won’t be getting into a hissy-fit over?

  3. #3 Scott Church
    June 5, 2005

    Here’s another interesting question that as far as I know, no one has ever asked. What would we be hearing from the pro-war camp today if,

    1) It had been Bill Clinton or Al Gore that had led the U.S. into Iraq.

    2) Clinton/Gore had sold the war to Americans as a pre-emptive stike against threats to America’s national security from terrorists and WMD’s.

    3) 1600 American troops had been killed (who cares about the civilians?).

    4) It was discovered after the fact that not only were there never any WMD’s or an Al Queda link, but that there never had been any intelligence supporting this conclusion in the first place, and Clinton/Gore had ignored it or played it down.

    What do you suppose we’d be hearing from the Right Wing crowd then. I’ll bet a $50 bill that we wouldn’t be hearing glowing soliloquies about what magnanimous defenders of freedom they were! Anyone else?

  4. #4 Mike
    June 5, 2005

    “What would we be hearing from the pro-war camp today if,
    1) It had been Bill Clinton or Al Gore that had led the U.S. into Iraq.”

    This probably isn’t an ” if,” Scott. In my view, the U.S. would be in Iraq today whether Gore had won in 2000, or in a hypothetical scenario, if Clinton was still president after 9/11. I believe Kenneth Pollack’s Atlantic Monthly article from early 2004 is still available online. It’s lengthy, but well worth the read. Pollack, of course, is the author of ” The Threatening Storm; the Case for Invading Iraq,” a huge best seller released before regime change, which endorsed regime change and also advanced the belief that Saddam’s WMD capabilities had grown dramatically since UNSCOM left Iraq in 1999.

    The thing about the Atlantic monthly piece is, Pollock admits he was completely off base in his assessments of Saddam’s WMD status at the time of regime change, and also shows himself to have morphed into a harsh critic of the Bush administration over their manipulation of the WMD intelligence.

    What is equally significant however, is the fact that Pollock, a former Middle East intelligence analyst for Bill Clinton, states that the content of the WMD intelligence assessments used by the Bush administration was consistent with the intelligence and accompanying conclusions Pollock and his colleagues were receiving and developing under Clinton.

    Where Pollock savages the Bush administration is in its regular use of the worst case assessments of the intelligence. He doesn’t accuse them of fabricating intelligence.

    Getting back to my original point, Clinton or Gore would almost certainly have labelled Saddam a post 9/11 threat that had to be removed, based on much of the same flawed intelligence that Bush was working with.

    “4) It was discovered after the fact that not only were there never any WMD’s or an Al Queda link, but that there never had been any intelligence supporting this conclusion in the first place, and Clinton/Gore had ignored it or played it down.”

    There was plenty of evidence that Saddam was lying through his teeth about his WMD capabilities prior to regime change. Not only that, the first-ever indictment of bin Laden was issued in 1998 under the Clinton administration, and contains this remarkable, but little-known paragraph:

    “In addition, al Qaeda reached an understanding with the government of Iraq that al Qaeda would not work against that government and that on particular projects, specifically including weapons development, al Qaeda would work cooperatively with the Government of Iraq.”

    I agree with you Scott, that many partisan Republicans would no doubt be sniping from the hills at a Democrat president under the same circumstances that Bush is currently operating in (as an aside, several prominent Dems are doing just that now).

    An example of this is the bombing of the Shifa chemical plant in Sudan by Clinton. At the time, many Republicans castigated Clinton for ” bombing an aspirin factory.” But Clinton had believable intelligence that Shifa was producing VX nerve agent for bin Laden, with the aid of Iraqi technological expertise.

    Of course, when the Republicans wanted to oust Saddam after 9/11, Shifa was no longer an ” aspirin factory.”

    Such is the state of blood sport politics in America, where politicians count on short memories to provide cover for their lack of integrity.

  5. #5 tim
    June 5, 2005

    Tim,

    The 808 figure comes from a combined AP/Reuters report published in the Sydney Morning Herald last October:

    Of the 988 households visited, 808, consisting of 7,868 people, agreed to participate.

    This information appeared in in many stories, and seems to arise from this section of Lancet’s report:

    988 households were chosen between Sept 8 and 20, 2004. These households contained 7868 residents on the date of interview … Five (0.5%) of the 988 households refused to be interviewed. In the 27 clusters with proper absentee records, we visited 872 households and 64 were absent (7%).

    Which gives us a final number of 808 households. I think. Actually, the interview refusals mentioned in that extract take your claimed total down from 988 (which were chosen, not surveyed) to 983, even before absentee households are considered.

  6. #6 Ian Gould
    June 5, 2005

    Considering that Al Gore was the principal architect of clinton Era policy towards the middle east and central Asia (Clinton was more interested in domestic affairs and you can interpret that one as you see fit) I doubt policy would have changed significantly had Gore succeeded Clinton.

    Its well-documented that Bush was talking about invading Iraq well before 9/11.

  7. #7 Tim Lambert
    June 5, 2005

    Yes, the 808 figure comes the AP/Reuters report, but it’s wrong. 808 households were surveyed in the 27 clusters with proper absentee records, but there were 33 clusters in the survey. So there were 6 more clusters (each of size 30) without proper absentee records. 808+6*30 = 988.

  8. #8 tim
    June 5, 2005

    Minus 5 = 983.

  9. #9 Niall
    June 5, 2005

    I know you read Blair et al so that the rest of us needn’t waste time, effort & bandwidth doing so, Tim, but seriously, does anyone of real substance actually care what they have to say?

  10. #10 Tim Lambert
    June 5, 2005

    983 if you want, but it isn’t 808 or 788.

  11. #11 tim
    June 5, 2005

    It isn’t 808, or 788, or 988 … it’s 983! Blair wins!

  12. #12 John
    June 5, 2005

    Funny how there’s always an acceptable number of people to kill for Blair and his ilk.

  13. #13 tim
    June 5, 2005

    Funny how you wish that number was higher, John.

  14. #14 Tim Lambert
    June 5, 2005

    Err no, Blair doesn’t win, because he claimed it was 808. Which it isn’t. Either 988 or 983 is the correct number depending on what you are referring to.

  15. #15 Ragout
    June 6, 2005

    As it is on many topics, I think the survey write-up is ambiguous on this point. The sample size could be 988-5 or 988-5-64, or something else. In any event, I agree with Dr. Apfelroth that a 99.5% response rate (983/988) is completely unbelievable.

  16. #16 Tim Lambert
    June 6, 2005

    No, the write-up is not ambiguous. And do you also find the 98.5% response rate (21,668/22,000) for the ILCS to be unbelievable?

  17. #17 Simon
    June 6, 2005

    For 27 clusters of 30 households you need to visit 810 houses. The study visited 872 houses of which 64 were absent giving a survey of 808 households which is only two short of the 810. If we assume that with the remaining 6 clusters 30 houses were visited in each cluster then we get the 988 number which is two short of 33 clusters * 30 households (990). 988 is the size of the survey. Within that 983 gave a reponse. Absentee households are *not* included in the 988 number but the five holdholds that refused to be interviewed are. I’m not sure how this in ambiguous to anyone with a basic understanding of statistics and surveys.

    I don’t understand why Bolt, etc don’t at the very least run their columns past a statistician or two before they publish. Or even better ask the guys who did the study. I thought that’s what journalists do, you know, ask questions.

  18. #18 Ragout
    June 6, 2005

    Simon, according to your intepretation, the response rate is not the 99.5%, as Dr. Apfelroth believes it is (and that Lambert seems to agree with). It is something lower since 5+64 households didn’t respond. You may be right, but two PhD’s seem to have a different interpretation of this “unambiguous” description.

    Second, if the Lancet authors added additional households to replace non-respondents (as you assert), this is not at all a good survey procedure. It quite obviously leads to bias. In fact, if you’re right, you’ve confirmed one of Apfelroth’s criticisms of the sloppy methodology of the Lancet study!

  19. #19 Ragout
    June 6, 2005

    Prof Lambert,
    I find the ILCS’s 98.5% response rate somewhat suspicious, but much less so than the Lancet’s 99.5% rate (if indeed that is the correct rate) for four reasons:

    1. The ILCS figures are calculated after an extensive “listing” operation that presumably excluded many hard-to-survey households.

    2. The ILCS survey appears to be much better funded (e.g., they used something like 100 time more interviewers for 20 times more sample). I’d expect better funded surveys to get higher response rates.

    3. 98.5% is the rate for the survey as a whole. For individual questions, the response rate drops to something like 95% (e.g., the income questions). Admittedly, this still seems awfully high.

    4. Government-sponsored surveys always get much higher response rates than privately sponsored ones (at least in the US).

  20. #20 Simon
    June 6, 2005

    I’m not sure how this is sloppy – if you wanted to do a phone poll of 1000 people would you ring 1000 households and if 100 didn’t pick up then you would have them down as refused to be interviewed? How would making the extra 100 phone calls lead to bias? When someone does a election phone poll do they say 48% X, 42% Y, 10% didn’t pick-up phone?

    How does this ‘quite obviously’ lead to bias?
    How is this sloppy?
    How is this ‘not at all’ a good survey procedure? What would be a better one?

  21. #21 Ragout
    June 6, 2005

    Simon,
    If 100 people don’t pick up the phone, you call them again. If you still can’t get them, you knock on their door. That’s what the highest quality surveys do. Otherwise you don’t have a random sample: you have a sample of people who answered the phone.

  22. #22 Simon
    June 6, 2005

    Can you give some references on that one? Most survey’s that I know about are either phone or face-to-face, not both.

    As to the response rate of the 988 households surveyed the rate was 99.5% (ie 983/998). So we all agree on this (?) and I’m not sure by what you mean by two PhD’s having different interpretations of this…

    (and Tim are you really a Professor?)

  23. #23 Ragout
    June 6, 2005

    Simon, it is common for official surveys to follow up phone calls with personal visits. For example, the US Current Population Survey (see chapter 7).

  24. #24 John
    June 6, 2005

    “Funny how you wish that number was higher, John.”

    Yes, except I didn’t say that, Bliar. Your arguments against the Lancet report methodology, based mostly on your embarrassing ignorance of statistics are an indication of your morals. You have no problem with kiling people in general, if you can attribute slaughter to some ‘higher’ purpose, freedom, democracy, great leaps forward, it’s perfectly alright. This is the new face of the right, not unlike the old face of the left.

  25. #25 z from Ian Tyson and kd lang land.
    June 7, 2005

    Actually, it’s not peaceniks who are thrilled by the Iraq casualties, it’s Mr. Bush who is “pleased with the progress”
    http://www.whitehouse.gov/news-/releases/2005/05/20050531.htm-l

  26. #26 Simon
    June 7, 2005

    Ragout – the survey you reference does the initial survey face-to-face. The followup surveys over the following 16 months are conducted by phone or face-to-face. If the household is non-responsive (eg vacant) then the house is revisited over the survey period to monitor if the house becomes responsive (eg occupied) – this information can then be used in the Vacant House Survey. It has nothing to do with elimination of bias.

    I don’t see how the Lancet survey method introduces ‘obvious’ bias.

    Anyway this is getting way off topic – the survey was of 988 household with 5 refusing to be interviewed. It wasn’t 808 as TimB wrote or 788 as Bolta, etc stated.

  27. #27 Donald Johnson
    June 7, 2005

    The Lancet people also didn’t interview empty households. That’s likely to bias the study–if I had to bet, I’d guess that empty houses probably used to contain families with higher-than-average casualty rates.

    To Mike,

    Mike, for the most part the accusation against the Bushies is not that they invented intelligence data, but that they deliberately misrepresented it to the public, claiming that it was much stronger than it actually was. You could see that at the time, without being an expert. Before 9/11 the Bush Administration was talking about how Saddam had been contained and there was talk of changing the sanctions into “smart sanctions”, which would supposedly be less harmful for average Iraqis. After 9/11 the Bush Administration and the herd of independent thinkers in the media all began talking as if it were near-certain that Saddam had stockpiles of WMD’s.

    I think most of us expected that Saddam probably had a few barrels of nasty chemical stashed away somewhere, but the sudden quantum leap upwards in what intelligence allegedly showed after 9/11 was a pretty transparent fib. And yeah, plenty of Democrats went along with this. I heard yesterday that John Kerry wants an investigation into how Bush manipulated the data. Kerry doesn’t have a great deal of credibility here–he could have been asking that before the war, but if my memory is correct he went along with the herd like most of the Democrats who wanted to be taken seriously by the mainstream.

  28. #28 Ragout
    June 7, 2005

    Simon, in months 2-4 of the CPS, an interview is initially attempted by telephone. If multiple telephone attempts fail, an interviewer is sent into the field for a personal visit. The point of this expensive procedure (personal visits) is of course the elimination of bias — reducing the non-response rate is crucial to eliminating bias.

    In the case of the Lancet survey, the 64 households not inteviewed due to absence should count as part of the non-response rate. As do the additional “absent” households in the six clusters where the Lancet team did not get proper records.

    In this case, it’s easy to see why absent households cause bias: absent households are probably more (or less) likely to have dead members than non-absent ones. For example, they may be absent because they are all dead. In some areas, absent households may have fled, and be more likely to have avoided fighting than interviewed households. Households fleeing the fighting (especially in Falluja) has been widely reported in the press.

    Of course, there could also be more prosiac reasons why a household might be absent (e.g., all members are working). These reasons are likely to cause bias as well.

  29. #29 Wilbur
    June 8, 2005

    I think everyone is missing the point with the UN figure of 24,000. If you look at the actual report, you’ll see that the survey asked for any casualties in the previous 24 months to April 2004. It then unilaterally decided that all of these casualties happened after the ground invasion, and that none happened before! This can be seen on page 55 of the report.

    Thanks to their failure to try and tie casualties down to dates, we have no way of knowing if casualties have even increased since the invasion. In fact I don’t think it will be long before some parts of the blogosphere claim that many of these 24,000 casualties preceded March 2003. In the absence of any other information we just don’t know.

    Granted, Saddam was probably killing less people in the last year of his reign than before, but the combination of an ongoing coalition bombing campaign, state oppression, and the heavy fighting between the kurds and Ansar-al-islam must have still caused some casualties. It seems strange to assign every single one to post March 2003. When we consider that some of the 24,000 are also Iraqi military or insurgents, I see it as even less supportive of the Lancet study.

    What it boils down to here is: UN; 24,000 dead over 24 months up to April 2004, and Lancet, 98,000 dead over 18 months from March 2003.

    My understanding of the two figures is that the UN figure is a ‘total’ and the Lancet one is an ‘excess over pre-war’. Now my knowledge of statistical method is hopeless- I could write what I know of stats in crayon on the side of a matchbox- but if I’m reading that part right, the difference may even be greater still.

    Tim Lambert has tried to explain the difference is due to non-violent deaths being included in the study by Roberts et al. However, although they published that violent deaths and infant mortality had increased post invasion, they also stated near the end of their report that adult non-violent deaths had not increased. To quote page seven of their findings;

    “It is suprising that beyond the evidence of elevation in infant mortality and the rate of violent death, mortality in Iraq seems to be otherwise similiar to the period preceding the invasion.”

  30. #30 Tim Lambert
    June 8, 2005

    Wilbur, the number of war-related casualties immediately before the invasion was negligble. Saddam wasn’t suppressing any rebellions and there was no significant bombing.

    The violent deaths recorded by the Lancet included murders which were not directly war-related. In fact this accounted for about half of the increase in violent deaths.

  31. #31 NEll
    June 8, 2005

    Well The ILCS question doesn’t diferentiate between “directly war-related” and “war-related”, all it states is the latter and it in’t clear what that means.

  32. #32 Mike
    June 9, 2005

    Donald:

    After 9/11 the Bush Administration and the herd of independent thinkers in the media all began talking as if it were near-certain that Saddam had stockpiles of WMD’s.
    I think most of us expected that Saddam probably had a few barrels of nasty chemical stashed away somewhere, but the sudden quantum leap upwards in what intelligence allegedly showed after 9/11 was a pretty transparent fib.

    This is exactly what I was talking about in the last thread. It wasn’t as simple as the Bush Administration hoodwinking a docile, gullible media into believing Saddam was lying about having disarmed. As I mentioned in the previous thread, you had many high profile critics of regime change, who were on record prior to regime change as being highly alarmist about the threat posed by Saddam’s WMD. Once regime change became inevitable, and after it had occurred, these same people developed total amnesia in relation to their earlier positions.

    Scott Ritter is one of the most glaring examples. Here are some passages taken from his 1999 book ” Endgame, Solving the Iraq Crisis.”

    Page 127:

    ” Against the movable backdrop of Saddam’s complicated and ever-changing power relationships the one constant since 1988 has been his wepaons of mass destruction. SADDAM WILL NOT READILY RELINQUISH THEM. NO ONE REALLY KNOWS THE TRUE EXTENT OF IRAQ’S PROHIBITED WEAPONS HOLDINGS TODAY. (my emphasis).

    Page 234:,p>

    ” High-quality intelligence also indicates that Iraq has loaded VX agent into dozens of aerial bombs of the R-400 type, seven warheads for Al-Hussein missiles, and hundreds of 122 mm rocket warheads and 155mm artillery shells. All of these weapons are under the control of special Chemical Corps weapons handling units that have been subordinated to the SSO.”

    Page 235:

    ” According to sensitive information, Iraq has probably retained several Al-Hussein warheads filled with a dry BW agent, probably anthrax.”

    Page 239:

    ” The Iraqis maintain, at a minimum, the capability to conduct active research and development in the field of gaseous centrifuge enrichment and the weaponization of a nuclear device.

    Break

    Iraq has retained a CONSIDERABLE NUCLEAR WEAPON MANUFACTURING PRODUCTION BASE. THIS CONSISTS OF NUMEROUS DECLARED AND UNDECLARED DUAL USE MACHINE TOOLS …. (my emphasis).” Concerning uranium enrichment, Iraq has retained critical centrifuge-enrichment capability in operation possibly since mid-1994.”

    Break<p.

    ” Iraq has retained components relating to the most recent weapons design, which have not been turned over to the IAEA. These components MAY BE COMPLETE ENOUGH FOR ASSEMBLY INTO SEVERAL WEAPONS, LACKING ONLY THE HIGHLY ENRICHED URANIUM CORE.”

    It is difficult to accuse the Bush administration of deliberately misleading the world over Iraq’s WMD, when we have individuals like Ritter making such glaringly similar statements. Ritter’s statements about Iraq’s nuclear weapons potential in particular would would make Bush blush.

    The fact is, the belief that Saddam posed a threat was widely held. How much of a threat is a subject for valid debate. The revisionist movement to paint Saddam as having been no threat is absolutely sickening when one sees people like Ritter leading the charge.

  33. #33 Wilbur
    June 9, 2005

    Tim, to re-state my point:
    “the combination of an ongoing coalition bombing campaign, state oppression, and the heavy fighting between the kurds and Ansar-al-islam must have still caused some casualties”
    You can’t just decide that there where no casualties at all, or that they where tiny in number, in the absence of any research.
    Saddam was certainly supressing a rebellion; he was backing the Ansar-al-islam insurgents in their fight with the kurds, an ongoing war that was up and running right through the 12 months before the invasion. There was certainly a bombing campaign; a friend of mine was flying in it.
    Without clarfication, we have no way of knowing how many of the 24,000 deaths preceded the ground invasion, and how many followed it.

  34. #34 Donald Johnson
    June 9, 2005

    Scott Ritter doesn’t really fit into the category you mention. Whatever he said in 1999, he was saying in the months preceding the invasion that the inspections had worked and that he was certain Saddam had little or nothing in the way of WMD’s. That was a fairly risky prediction to make since it was clear there would be a war and if so much as a few warheads with anthrax had shown up it would have been offered up as vindication. There are quotes of Powell and Condi that said similar things–this was early in Bush’s term.

    But once it became clear Bush wanted to invade, then nearly everyone in the mainstream press and politics started going along with the notion that Saddam posed a serious danger. There was an article by Michael Massing (I forget where, but I think the New York Review of Books) about the role of the mainstream press in covering the WMD debate leading up to the war, and Massing found that only the Knight-Ridder papers did a professional job reporting what the skeptics were saying.

    So, no, it wasn’t the Bush Administration misleading a gullible press and gullible Democrats. It was Bush misleading the voters and the press and most of the Democrats going along with him. Again, they probably expected (as did I) that a few barrels of bad stuff would turn up and anyone who had expressed any skepticism would be publicly ridiculed, so they took the easy way out and went along with the crowd.

  35. #35 Mike
    June 9, 2005

    “Scott Ritter doesn’t really fit into the category you mention. Whatever he said in 1999, he was saying in the months preceding the invasion that the inspections had worked and that he was certain Saddam had little or nothing in the way of WMD’s.

    Sure, he fits into the category. The problem with your explanation of Ritter’s about face is three-fold, Donald.

    First, he has never offered even a remotely plausible explanation as to why he so blatantly changed his tune. Second, he actually has the unbelievable chutzpah to claim that he has never changed his tune, and has always been consistent. Third, there were no grounds for him to flip flop. He used highly alarmist comments to portray Saddam as a threat, at the end of a period of 7 years of UN inspections. He then decided to completely exonerate Saddam after a period of 4 years without inspections.

    But once it became clear Bush wanted to invade, then nearly everyone in the mainstream press and politics started going along with the notion that Saddam posed a serious danger.

    I have no problem with criticisms of Bush for emphasizing the worst case intelligence estimates, as I stated in an earlier comment. What you’re overlooking is the fact that many in the U.S. intelligence community believed the worst case estimates, and that much of this intelligence was based on Clinton era intelligence. The Ritter quotes speak for themselves. When you have opponents of regime change making prior statements like this, why should the media be criticized for buying into Bush’s argument? Sure, it’s easy to go after them in hindsight. That doesn’t make this a valid avenue of criticism.

    It was Bush misleading the voters and the press and most of the Democrats going along with him. Again, they probably expected (as did I) that a few barrels of bad stuff would turn up and anyone who had expressed any skepticism would be publicly ridiculed, so they took the easy way out and went along with the crowd.

    Donald, most Democrats believed Saddam was a real and continuing threat, largely based on his suspected WMD capabilities. They didn’t go along with Bush for reasons of political expediency. I can provide you with numerous quotes from prominent Democrats from about 2000 onward, if you’d like. Hide the name of the speaker, and you would be forgiven for labelling every quote as having been made by a neocon hawk.

    Let’s also not forget that Clinton’s bombing of Iraq in December 1998, when UNSCOM pulled out, was not a simple punishment exercise, striking conventional military targets only. Clinton is on the record saying he was going after WMD-specific sites.

    It doesn’t seem reasonable to suggest that Clinton, with the benefit of UN inspectors on the ground, was justified in believing that Saddam’s WMD programmes were still operational, while Bush, 4 years later and with no inspectors to rely on, was not afforded the same concession.

  36. #36 Shirin
    June 10, 2005

    [Saddam] was backing the Ansar-al-islam insurgents in their fight with the Kurds…

    What is your source for this assertion?

  37. #37 Ian Gould
    June 10, 2005

    “Donald, most Democrats believed Saddam was a real and continuing threat, largely based on his suspected WMD capabilities.”

    Or at least they weren’t prepared in the hysterical atmosphere of post-9/11 and in the run-up to the 2002 mid-terms election that they didn’t believe it.

    As it happened, at the time, I thought Saddam probably had some remnants of his WMD program – certainly more than has been found to date.

    The real question was whether that probability was sufficient justification for an invasion which was always obviously going to inflict large numbers of civilian casualties.

    Saddam had almost 20 years to sell or give WMDs to terrorists if he were so minded. He didn’t for the same reason that he didn’t use them in the Gulf War – the threat of massive US retaliation possibly including nuclear weapons.

    As soon as the US ceased to be Saddam’s ally, his WMDs became effectively worthless.

  38. #38 TallDave
    June 10, 2005

    Maybe the impression of “glee” comes from the fact it’s been repeatedly misrepresented by leftists and pacifists as “proving” 100,000 civilians were “killed by the invasion.”

    In fact, the study’s statistically significant finding (again) is that between 8,000 and 194,000 excess deaths may have occurred (if the methodology is correct) as compared to the similar time period before. If you didn’t know that, you didn’t know there had been a war at all.

    When you balance that against the 2 million people KILLED (not excess deaths, but KILLED) by Saddam’s decisions to invade Iran and Kuwait and brutally suppress Shia and Kurd rebellions, it makes war proponents angry and sad.

  39. #39 TallDave
    June 10, 2005

    “hysterical atmosphere of post-9/11 ”

    Yes, we were hysterically interested in not having another 3,000 or more Americans killed. Similarly, in the “hysterical atmosphere of post-Pearl Harbor” we invaded Germany (who had not attacked us at Pearl Harbor).

  40. #40 TallDave
    June 10, 2005

    The real question was whether that probability was sufficient justification for an invasion which was always obviously going to inflict large numbers of civilian casualties.

    Large compared to what? The Iran-Iraq war? The Kuwait invasion? The crushing of the Shia and Kurd rebellions?

    The ability of the chickendove peace-at-all-costs crowd to claim the moral high ground while defending tyrannical mass murdering regimes from wars to replace them with free democracies is just astounding to me. It’s as though we’re sitting here in 1947 and you’re claiming the Allied invasion of Europe really wasn’t worth the cost to the French civilians.

  41. #41 Donald Johnson
    June 10, 2005

    I don’t know why Ritter changed, but his arguments in 2002 held up and the job of the press is to look at arguments. His personal history is relevant, but so were his arguments both before and after he apparently changed. But anyway, it wasn’t just Ritter. There were other experts who were skeptical of Bush claims, but they were kept on the back pages of the newspapers and treated with disdain. Again, only the Knight Ridder papers actually did a professional job covering the issues. I’d recommend tracking down the Michael Massing article I mentioned.

    As for the sincere concern about Saddam’s alleged WMD’s, yes, I know you can find plenty of Democrats who said they were concerned. Sit down, since I don’t want to subject you to a shock, but there’s a bipartisan tradition of lying about foreign policy in the US and Clinton’s credibility on Iraq (and other issues I could name) is no higher than Bush’s. Partisan Democrats wouldn’t say that, but I vote for Democrats as the lesser of two evils, not as people one can trust.

    I don’t have the links, but Powell and Condi were saying that Saddam had been contained in early 2001 and the debate, to the extent there was one, was about the sanctions and the harm they caused to ordinary Iraqis. Hence the interest in switching to “smart sanctions”. Nobody in the mainstream pre-9/11 was saying we had to invade Iraq because of the WMD danger–after 9/11 when it was clear Bush wanted to go in all the “serious” people went around with furrowed brows pretending that the intelligence data suddenly suggested there was an imminent threat. In the run up to the war I can personally say I could see the WMD issue was mostly hype–there was no sudden new influx of data to justify the hysteria. I expected the US would find something when it went in, but it was clear the Bushies were suddenly pretending to know much more than anyone had claimed before and outside the leftwing blogosphere, most of the mainstream political world in the US went along with the bull. Which is why I think it might be difficult to hold Bush to account for the overstatements–way too many Democrats pretended to believe him and they’ll look like idiots if they go around saying “we were misled”. Hell, I think some of the “liberal” press said Powell’s UN speech was masterful, though people online were tearing it apart almost immediately.

  42. #42 TallDave
    June 10, 2005

    Donald,

    Ridiculous. The overwhelming consensus of the intelligence community was that Saddam had WMD stockpiles — and, lest we forget, they correctly claimed a network of WMD labs existed, a gross violation by itself.

    The only ways the WMD stockpile doubt could be resolved was either for unfettered access and proactive cooperation to be granted by Saddam, or through invasion. #1 didn’t happen. That left #2.

    The sanctions/inspections regime was corrupted, leaking badly, and was not going to last much longer in any case. So we could either resign ourselves to what appeared to be a WMD-capable brutal, mass-murdering tyrannical Hussein regime or we could act to remove him and give freedom and democracy to the Iraqis.

  43. #43 Scott Church
    June 10, 2005

    TallDave,

    “The overwhelming consensus of the intelligence community was that Saddam had WMD stockpiles — and, lest we forget, they correctly claimed a network of WMD labs existed, a gross violation by itself.”

    Dare I ask whether you actually have a credible source for this? If so, why are you not citing it? What kind of WMD’s? Where are/were they? To what extent has this been verified and in what manner? Have you read 9-11 Commission Report? If so, can you produce a proper refutation of even one of its conclusions? Cited Data please, not rants or editorializing… and try to be specific and thorough…)

    (BTW: “Credible source” does not mean editorials, Right-Wing or Left-Wing rants, inflammatory speculation, endless moralizing about what a bastard Saddam was, or the comments of a single disgruntled individual on either side of the fence carefully separated from the larger body of evidence).

  44. #44 TallDave
    June 10, 2005

    Scott Church,

    Have YOU read the 9/11 Commission Report? It says Saddam had links to Al Qaeda, contradicting your earlier post. Have you read the Kay report? It found a network of WMD labs. I’ve cited both here more than once.

  45. #45 TallDave
    June 10, 2005

    Really Scott, you could save yourself some humiliation by just spending a few seconds using Google before challenging well-known facts that are apparently unknown to you.

    http://www.cnn.com/2003/ALLPOLITICS/10/02/sprj.irq.kay/

    A clandestine network of laboratories and safe houses within the Iraqi Intelligence Service that contained equipment that was subject to U.N. monitoring and was suitable for continuing chemical and biological weapons research

    New research on biological weapons-applicable agents, Brucella and Congo Crimean Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF), and continuing work on ricin and aflatoxin — none of which were declared to the U.N.

    Documents and equipment, hidden in scientists’ homes, that would have helped Iraq resume uranium enrichment by centrifuge and electromagnetic isotope separation.

    This has been mentioned so often in the press I didn’t think it needed citation, but I guess not everyone follows the news.

  46. #46 TallDave
    June 10, 2005

    Saddam’s links to Al Qaeda may have been weak and not o the point of joint operations, but they weren’t nonexistent. The commission cited reports of contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda after bin Laden went to Afghanistan in 1996. The 1993 WTC bombers had Iraqi passports. And, from Wikipedia…

    There are, however, some alleged al Qaeda operatives who have bolstered the current US administration’s claims of collaboration between al Qaeda and the now deposed Iraqi government, as well as charges of cooperation made by the Clinton administration. Weapons smuggler Mohamed Mansour Shahab said in an interview in the New Yorker magazine that he had been directed by the Iraqi intelligence community to organize, plan, and carry out up to nine terrorist attacks against American targets in the Middle East, including an attack similar to the one carried out on the USS Cole. [33] (http://www.csmonitor.com/2002/0403/p01s01-wome.html). The only member of the original plot to destroy the World Trade Center to escape US law enforcement officials, Abdul Rahman Yasin, fled to Baghdad shortly after the attacks in 1993.

    Abbas al-Janabi, who served for fifteen years as personal assistant to Uday Hussein before defecting to Britain, has often claimed that he knew of collaboration between the former Iraqi government and al Qaeda. Al-Janabi said that he had learnt that Iraqi officials had visited Afghanistan and Sudan to strengthen ties with Al-Qaeda and he also claimed he knew of a facility near Baghdad where foreign fighters were trained and instructed by members of the Republican Guard and Mukhabarat. [34] (http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=story_15-7-2002_pg4_1). A facility matching al-Janabi’s description was captured by US Marines in Mid April of 2003 [35] (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,84291,00.html)

    Abdul Rahman Yasin was the only alleged member of the al Qaeda cell that detonated the 1993 World Trade Center bomb to remain at large after the investigation into the bombing where he fled to Iraq. After major fighting ceased U.S. forces discovered a cache of documents in Tikrit, that purport to show that the Iraqi government gave Yasin a house and monthly salary. [36] (http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/iraq/2003-09-17-iraq-wtc_x.htm)

  47. #47 Yelling
    June 10, 2005

    “and, lest we forget, they correctly claimed a network of WMD labs existed, a gross violation by itself”

    You’re right TallDave. A couple of seconds with Google can produce interesting results. Such as the following document:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,2763,1307529,00.html?=rss

    To quote from it:

    It largely confirms the findings of Mr Duelfer’s predecessor, David Kay, who concluded “we were almost all wrong” in thinking Saddam had stockpiled weapons. The Duelfer report goes into greater detail.

    Mr Kay’s earlier findings mentioned the existence of a network of laboratories run by the Iraqi intelligence service, and suggested that the regime could be producing “test amounts” of chemical weapons and researching the use of ricin in weapons.

    Subsequent inspections of the clandestine labs, under Mr Duelfer’s leadership, found they were capable of producing small quantities of lethal chemical and biological agents, more useful for assassinations of individuals than for inflicting mass casualties.

    I believe that the M in WMD stands for mass. I guess you must have missed this news story.

  48. #48 Wilbur
    June 10, 2005

    Shirin, my sources include some of the guys I used to work with.

    There have certainly been disagreements in the past between Saddam and ansar-al-islam, but for a group that size to operate, completely unsupported, in Iraqi territory for the time involved would seem to be hard to believe. The region of operations was surrounded by Iraq and Syria, both Baathist states. If they survived without their help they where doing it over very, very long supply lines. They also had exactly the same enemies as Saddam, which is extremely convenient.

    In any case, if we where to assume for a moment that Saddam never offered any support for the group, it would not change the fact that they killed a lot of people in the twelve months before the coalition invaded, which means that some of the ’24,000′ figure pre-date March 2003.

  49. #49 TallDave
    June 10, 2005

    Yelling,

    Your point being what? That was I right? Saddam was required to disclose those labs. They’re exactly the kind of thing he was not supposed to have.

  50. #50 Ian Gould
    June 10, 2005

    >

    Your ability to ignore the death of tens of thousands, at a very conservative estimate, and to ignore the evidence that Iraq is currently anything but “a free democracy” is equally astounding to me.

    Equally impressive is your ability to ignore my repeated past statements that I support military action where certain preconditions are met.

    I supported US military action in the Gulf War, Kosovo and Afghanistan. I have told you this previously. If required I can produce contemporaneous postings to prove this in the case of Kosovo and Afghanistan.

  51. #51 Shirin
    June 11, 2005

    Wilbur,

    “Some of the guys I used to work with” is completely worthless as a source, and it is less than useless given that you have given us absolutely no information about how they could possibly know anything about Ansar Al Islam, or Saddam Hussein.

    The rest of your argument isn’t any better.

    1. There were not “disagreements” between Saddam Hussein and Ansar Al Islam. Ansar Al Islam consists of exactly the kind of “Islamists” that Saddam repressed brutally in every part of Iraq he had control over.

    2. Ansar Al Islam operated in a part of Iraqi territory that Saddam could not even enter, let alone that he controlled. In fact, you were far more likely to find a Mossad or CIA agent than a member of Saddam’s regime in the part of Iraqi territory in which Ansar Al Islam operated.

    3. The only problem with that old “they had almost the same enemies as Saddam canard” is that among the enemies of Ansar Al Islam and Saddam were Saddam and Ansar Al Islam.

    4. The problem with your claim overall is that, just as with the claims of a relationship with bin Laden, there isn’t a shred of evidence to support it, and there is a very good collection of evidence that discredits it.

    killed a lot of people in the twelve months before the coalition invaded

    How many is a lot? What evidence is there to support this number? Maybe I have missed something, but how does any of this affect the estimated number of excess deaths post-March, 2003.

  52. #52 Mike
    June 11, 2005

    Ian:

    ‘Or at least they weren’t prepared in the hysterical atmosphere of post-9/11 and in the run-up to the 2002 mid-terms election that they didn’t believe it.’

    You appear to have left some words out. I’m not able to discern your meaning here.

    ‘The real question was whether that probability was sufficient justification for an invasion which was always obviously going to inflict large numbers of civilian casualties.’

    That was always a legitimate and honest argument against regime change, when debating the WMD element of the case for regime change. Was Saddam’s suspected WMD capabilities reason enough to remove him? Obviously, I have no way of confirming this, but I believe that democratizing Iraq, and turning it into a benign, non-hostile nation that could trigger similar impetus for democracy elsewhere in the Middle East, was actually the primary goal of regime change, not disarming Saddam, as the Bush administration has always maintained. That being said, I do feel that the Bush administration had an honest belief that Saddam was still operating his WMD programmes, and as a result had to be removed in the post 9/11 environment.

    The question of predicting civilian casualties prior to regime change, and using it as an argument against regime change, is also problematic. You can’t say with any certainty prior to invasion, that invasion ‘was always obviously going to inflict large numbers of civilian casualties.’

    There are simply too many variables, too many ‘unknowables,’ especially the level and tactical nature of the resistance employed by Iraqi regular forces during the actual invasion. Another intangible was the effectiveness, or lack of effectiveness, of the coalition military in preventing, or, after the fact eliminating, an insurgency.

    Ian, you supported regime change in Afghanistan, yet the U.S, military has allegedly killed more than 4,000 Afghan civilians from air strikes alone. Of course, this is a tiny fraction of the number that many on the Left predicted would die through regime change in Afghanistan, but it still qualifies as a ‘ large number of civilian casualties.’

    If we demand that civilian casualties be guaranteed to be very low, say in the hundreds, as a precondition for military intervention, then no such interventions, even wholly humanitarian ones, could be sanctioned. No military is capable of providing guarantees of this nature, because the other side has a big say in the outcome.

    ‘ Saddam had almost 20 years to sell or give WMDs to terrorists if he were so minded. He didn’t for the same reason that he didn’t use them in the Gulf War – the threat of massive US retaliation possibly including nuclear weapons.’

    It’s a good point, and it may well be entirely correct. But we have no way of knowing for certain the internal machinations, strategies and philosophy of the Saddam regime. Intelligence isn’t a zero sum game. It often isn’t possible to say conclusively that a particular government had no ties with (or alternatively was sponsoring) a particular terrorist entity.

    Terrorist groups and would-be terrorist sponsoring nations have a highly vested interest in ensuring that their more powerful adversaries (usually the U.S.) are not able to prove the existence and extent of such connections. To put this another way, if al Qaeda affiliated terrorist groups were enjoying the support of Saddam, or even just courting one another, both sides would certainly go to great lengths to conceal it.

    There were in fact strong suspicions of al Qaeda/Saddam affiliation, which had nothing to do with any spin or misrepresentation on the part of the Bush administration. The Clinton era indictment of bin Laden, alleging an agreement between al Qaeda and Iraq to cooperate on weapons development, of all things, is one such example. The intelligence surrounding the Shifa plant bombing, alleging Iraqi technological assistance in VX production is another.

    It’s all well and good to have taped evidence of bin Laden virtually admitting responsibility for 9/11, as justification for going into Afghanistan. Often, however, having such proof is an inconceivable luxury for intelligence agencies.

    Certainly Saddam was fearful of U.S. retaliation, but that didn’t provide an ironclad assurance that he wouldn’t cooperate with terrorists, or provide them with WMD. History had proven him to be a dangerous, unpredictable risk taker. The invasions of Iran and Kuwait illustrate this. So does the failed revenge plot to kill Bush 1 the year after he left office. Saddam had to know that such a plot, if successful, would provoke a massive retaliatory response from Clinton, one that would surely include a determined effort to kill Saddam. And yet he tried anyway.

  53. #53 Mike
    June 11, 2005

    Donald:

    ‘I don’t know why Ritter changed, but his arguments in 2002 held up and the job of the press is to look at arguments. His personal history is relevant, but so were his arguments both before and after he apparently changed.’

    I don’t think Ritter suffered from any lack of media coverage in the lead up to invasion. You shouldn’t have any trouble finding references online to several interviews on major networks (CNN and FOX for sure), along with print interviews and Ritter-authored op-ed pieces as well. The question is, why should he have been taken seriously, based on his previous statements, and the absence of an explanation for his 180 degree turn?

    ‘But anyway, it wasn’t just Ritter. There were other experts who were skeptical of Bush claims, but they were kept on the back pages of the newspapers and treated with disdain.’

    There were other experts who were ‘ skeptical, ‘ but I don’t remember many, if any, saying Saddam had completely disarmed. Most believed Saddam had retained at least some chemical and biological bulk agent, and was therefore lying. Their assessments were good faith, credible alternative evaluations of the known and probable intelligence. Whether they were relegated to the ‘back pages’ and treated with disdain is a generalization that would require detailed analysis of the media coverage at the time. In any event, even if this was the case, it was only the case in the U.S., not the many countries where regime change was being stridently opposed by healthy majorities.

    ‘.but there’s a bipartisan tradition of lying about foreign policy in the US and Clinton’s credibility on Iraq (and other issues I could name) is no higher than Bush’s.

    Of course there’s another way of looking at this; that both men actually believed the intelligence they were being given, and weren’t lying. I suppose it’s possible both were lying, but it would be for different motives, which makes it less likely. I tend to lean towards the former, especially since many of the men in the intelligence community who were gathering and interpreting the intelligence for the presidents believed it as well.

    It’s also worth repeating that UN inspection reports had poked very serious holes in Saddam’s claims of disarmament (which explains Ritter’s 1999 quotes). It isn’t reasonable to separate Clinton and Bush from the UN inspectors (including Ritter), and claim the former were lying, while the latter get a free pass. Donald, it strikes me as absurd and surreal to crucify Bush for lying, or at best misrepresenting the intelligence, when one of the chief crucifiers (Ritter) has made identical statements.

    ‘I don’t have the links, but Powell and Condi were saying that Saddam had been contained in early 2001 and the debate, to the extent there was one, was about the sanctions and the harm they caused to ordinary Iraqis.’

    I recall the Powell statement surfacing, but can’t recall one by Rice (I’m not saying there isn’t one). Powell was certainly not on the same page as Rumsfeld, Perle and Wolfowitz et al, on the subject of Iraq. I can’t speak for the Bush administration, but I suspect the explanation would be that containment was fine in a pre 9/11 world, but not afterward. As I mentioned in my reply to Ian, the argument that Saddam did not constitute a threat (either imminent or potential) that warranted his removal is a valid argument, and an argument I respect. If that were the only reason advanced by the Bush administration for regime change, I would have to agree with those who opposed it. It is the weight of the additional reasons that place me in the camp of those who supported Saddam’s removal.

    ‘. after 9/11 when it was clear Bush wanted to go in all the ‘serious’ people went around with furrowed brows pretending that the intelligence data suddenly suggested there was an imminent threat.’

    The anti-regime change side has worn out the ill-advised statements from certain Bush advisors who indicated Saddam posed an imminent threat. I don’t see that as being a fair depiction of the administration’s position, in the context of whether it claimed the threat posed by Saddam was imminent. As I recall it, the thrust of the administration’s argument was Saddam had not abandoned his WMD programmes, was in fact expanding upon them, and this could simply not be allowed to continue in the post 9/11 environment.

    ‘Which is why I think it might be difficult to hold Bush to account for the overstatements”way too many Democrats pretended to believe him and they’ll look like idiots if they go around saying ‘we were misled’.

    Actually, Gore, Kennedy, Levin, Rockefeller, and others are doing just what you surmise they’re reluctant to do. They have been going around saying a lot more than ‘ we were misled.’ They’re accusing or implying that Bush lied, while knowing full well that they made identical statements about Saddam’s WMD capabilities.

    I’m sure Scott Ritter approves.

  54. #54 Mike
    June 11, 2005

    Shirin and Wilbur:

    Here is a link to the Jeffrey Goldberg piece in the New Yorker from March 2002. It’s a well-known and quite controversial account of Goldberg’s experiences and interviews in the Kurdish enclave.

    The article goes in to great detail concerning evidence of links and cooperation between Ansar al Islam, Saddam and al Qaeda. Most of this evidence is derived from Goldberg’s interviews of captured Ansar fighters, and in one case, a high ranking Mukhabarat operative.

    The piece is massive in length. In the event you haven’t read it, scroll down about halfway to reach the relevant material.

    As I said, it’s a controversial piece. Opponents of regime change have trashed it as rubbish, while those who supported regime change naturally see things somewhat differently.

    I can see convincing arguments on both sides, and default to my comment to Ian; intelligence isn’t a zero sum game, and none of us has the requisite insight or access to hard facts to make a conclusive pronouncement.

    Anyway, some added fodder for your discussion…..

  55. #55 Ian Gould
    June 11, 2005

    Mike,

    WordPress seems to have some compatibility problems with Foxfire. Half the time I can’t even see what I’m typing.

    The sentence you quote should have read.:

    ‘Or at least they weren’t prepared in the hysterical atmosphere of post-9/11 and in the run-up to the 2002 mid-terms election TO ADMIT that they didn’t believe it.’

  56. #56 TD
    June 11, 2005

    Scott,

    Well, my assertions were correct and I’ve proved that. I have the 9/11 Commission Report on my bookshelf. It says there were links (just not operational ones), in addition to the other Wiki info I posted, and the CNN report is early releases of the Kay report. The final report says exactly the same thing. You might try following the news.

    Saddam was not allowed to have a network of clandestine WMD labs. He did.

  57. #57 TD
    June 11, 2005

    Scott,

    LOL I did notice the date, and I posted the first available excerpts saying that just to prove that this has been in the media for THREE YEARS. The final Kay report says exactly the same thing – a clandestine network of WMD labs. I proved my assertions. Next time, try following the news or checking Google before challenging well-known facts.

    You can quibble over whether that constitutes a “clear and present danger” but regardless Saddam was not allowed to have them.

  58. #58 Shirin
    June 11, 2005

    Mike,

    Yes, I recall reading the Goldberg piece when it first came out. I remember having a few good giggles discussing it with some friends whose knowledge and experience in Iraq Kurdistan is wider, deeper, and more recent than mine – friends whose first language is the language of the region, and some of whom have direct connections to the two Kurdish warlords’ parties and families.

    I also remember comparing Goldberg’s claims with known facts and realities about Ansar Al Islam, Al Qa`eda, and Saddam Hussein, and finding they did not fit at all at the same time that they served beautifully the agenda of the neocons/Bush administration.

    In short, Goldberg’s claims are not credible.

  59. #59 Scott Church
    June 11, 2005

    TD,

    The only “well known facts” I’m challenging are the ones resulting from your sloppiness and nearly complete lack of thoroughness and attention to detail. Of course Saddam wanted WMD’s and was in violation of the UN sanctions at some important points. No one ever disputed that seriously.

    What’s been in the media for “THREE YEARS” is that Saddam wanted WMD’s, had a few remnant pieces left of a program that had been destroyed in 1991 (that’s been in the news for well over a decade now), and might (repeat might) have had a smattering of chemical and/or biologicals left if they could ever be found (which they have not). What’s also been just as long is the fact that the Iraq war was not sold to the world on the basis that Saddam was in violation of the UN sanctions. Of course he was in violation of them. It was sold on the claim that he had, or was on the verge of getting, significant strategic WMD capability making him a clear and present danger to Western security. No sane nation or leader would launch a $300 billion invasion on rumours of some dictator’s desires and a handful of violations which however wrong and offensive are unlikely to make him a credible threat. This is of course, demonstrable nonsense.

    BTW, had you cited the Oct. 2003 CNN article only to make a point about “THREE YEARS” you would have supplemented it with more up to date information to put the article in context and include all relevant data. You didn’t. Instead, you’ve carefully cherry-picked out almost everything that happened after that date. What you have shown evidence for is what everyone already knew–non of which supports your claims of a credible WMD threat… and for anyone who doesn’t have a personal point to prove, damn sure doesn’t justify a major invasion.

    I appreciate your concerns about Saddam. I share them. But unlike you, I don’t see the point in throwing away $300 billion and killing tens of thousands of people simply to indulge my anger at a petty sociopathic dictator. I’m going to think things through first and make sure there’s a and credible threat for which I have quality evidence.

  60. #60 Scott Church
    June 11, 2005

    Apologies: My second paragraph above contains several typos. It should read,

    What’s been in the media for ‘THREE YEARS’ is that Saddam wanted WMD’s, had a few remnant pieces left of a program that had been destroyed in 1991 (that’s been in the news for well over a decade now), and might (repeat might) have had a smattering of chemical and/or biologicals left if they could ever be found (which they have not). What’s also been there just as long is the fact that the Iraq war was not sold to the world on the basis that Saddam was in violation of the UN sanctions. Of course he was in violation of them. It was sold on the claim that he had, or was on the verge of getting, significant strategic WMD capability making him a clear and present danger to Western security. No sane nation or leader would launch a $300 billion invasion on rumours of some dictator’s desires and a handful of violations which however wrong and offensive are unlikely to make him a credible threat. That they do justify it is of course, demonstrable nonsense.

  61. #61 TallDave
    June 11, 2005

    The fact that Saddam had a clandestine network of WMD labs has been out there for 3 years. It amazes me that people don’t know that. If you need me to post a dozen more links to prove the point further I can, but I’d rather not waste my time.

    It was sold on the claim that he had, or was on the verge of getting, significant strategic WMD capability making him a clear and present danger to Western security.
    No, that was just one of many reasons given. It doesn’t detract from the many other valid reasons for removing Saddam.

    simply to indulge my anger at a petty sociopathic dictator.
    Yes, indulging your anger would be a bad reason; nice strawman you’ve knocked down there. Better reasons would be because he’s invaded 2 countries, used WMD against his own citizens, killed 2 million people, is keeping a clandestine network of WMD labs, because he runs a brutal police state that tortures dissidents, and because by removing him you can grant 25 million Iraqis their freedom.

  62. #62 Scott Church
    June 11, 2005

    TD,

    To be clear (I’m not sure I was in my last few posts), I don’t disagree with the details of your statements as I understand them–namely, that Saddam wanted WMD’s, that there was evidence of labs which could have been used to support some pieces of a WMD development program, and that he was in violation of UN sanctions on this point. Nor do I dispute that the guy is a sociopath and something should have been done about him.

    What I dispute is that this constitutes proof that he had, or was on the verge of getting, WMD’s in strategically significant quantities, that he had proven means to deliver them to strategically important targets threatening the national security of the Unites States and its allies, and that he was a key player in the 9/11 attacks. This I maintain, is contrary to the totality of the most recent and reliable evidence as given in the sources above, including the 9/11 Commission Report, and the decision to invade was based on poor intelligence at the time. In particular, read the March 2005 Report from the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction I cited above. I also dispute that the decision to invade was based only on a mere few sanctions violations. The war was sold on the claim that he was an immediate and indisputable threat to Western security, and that he played a key role in the 9/11 attacks. Both claims are false, and contradicted by the most recent reports. It was reckless and negligent to launch a major invasion and get thousands of people killed on nothing more than what has been verified to date.

    One last note: For what it’s worth, my previous comments were written in a state of exhaustion and irritation and are far more snarky than they should have been, or would have been had I been in a better mood. My apologies for that.

  63. #63 Jack Strocchi
    June 11, 2005

    Tim Lambert Says: June 8th, 2005 at 2:30 pm

    The violent deaths recorded by the Lancet included murders which were not directly war-related. In fact this accounted for about half of the increase in violent deaths.

    Saddam Hussein actually amnestied his common criminal prisoners on the eve of the war, releasing all them into the community. They subsequently went on a crime-spree which added to the chaos that plagues reconstruction. This spoiling tactic was used by Castro in the Mariel Boatlift, but Carter/Reagan were at least not trying to invade Cuba at the time. In fact Reagan hardly invaded any countries during his term of office. He appears, in comparison to most US Presidents, to be some kind of weird peacenik.

  64. #64 Wilbur
    June 11, 2005

    Mike- thanks for that link, I think I saw it ages ago, but had certainly forgotten it until now.
    Shirin, you stated;
    “Maybe I have missed something, but how does any of this affect the estimated number of excess deaths post-March, 2003.”
    The UN report giving the 24,000 fatalities figure covers the year before the invasion and the year after. However many have tried to say that every single one of these deaths happened post march 2003. The fighting between Ansar-al-islam and the Kurds must have killed people, making it one of several things that affects the post March ’03 figure. We just don’t know how many of the 24,000 fatalities happened before or after coalition intervention.
    And Shirin, having dismissed my anon. sources as irrelevant, you then went and suggested you had some good ones of your own!
    The notion that Saddam never used Islamic fundamentalists is a little hard to swallow given his support for suicide bombers. Saddam was also an old master at deniable support, going back to his support for the infamous terrorist strike on the OPEC conference in Vienna in December 1975, and his prompting of the terrorist siege at the Iranian embassy in London in 1980. Most of the terrorists in both instances didn’t even know who they where working for. If he could manage that overseas then I don’t find Goldberg’s claims, based on questioning Ansar-al-islam POWs in Kurdish custody, of him supporting terrorists in the Kurdish region hard to believe. It’s a pretty easy border to cross (in fact strictly speaking it’s not even a border).
    Besides, if Saddam never gave them at least a nod and a wink, how do you explain Abu-Abdallah Shafi’i suddenly rolling up in Arbil with a lot of cash, just after the Jordanians released him to Iraq?

  65. #65 Ian Gould
    June 11, 2005

    “Saddam Hussein actually amnestied his common criminal prisoners on the eve of the war, releasing all them into the community. They subsequently went on a crime-spree which added to the chaos that plagues reconstruction.”
    Given the standard of Iraqi justice under Saddam, I’m uncertain how many of those affected by the amnesty would actually have been criminals.
    Additionally, the most serious criminal prisoners and political prisoners were excluded from the amnesty.
    The US”liberated” the remaining prisoners along with the inmates of at least one asylum for the criminally insane. One of the former inmates from that facility subsequently murdered several of his family members.
    Let’s not forget the “prison for children” they also “liberated”. It was actually an orphanage which was something of a model facility and was funded and regularly inspected by international donors.
    Youth homelessness, drug use and child prostitution have all soared since the invasion.

  66. #66 Shirin
    June 11, 2005

    Wilbur,

    In response to my request for your sources the best you could do was to present your anonymous “guys you used to work with”. You could not even offer a shred of information as to what qualifies these anonymous “guys you used to work with” to know anything at all about this or any other subject. As a source this is less than worthless. I, on the other hand, did not present my friends and associates as a source to support anything. At least I did, however, enumerate some of their qualifications, which include being natives of the region, and for some being insiders in the Kurdish warlords’ “governments”, and in some cases of their families. I have my own qualifications as well, but I prefer to confirm with them as theirs is broader, deeper, and more recent than my own. In any case, you are free to accept or reject what I, as an insider, have to say, just as I am free to accept or reject your claims based on “some guys you used to work with” whose qualifications and motivations are completely unknown.

  67. #67 Shirin
    June 12, 2005

    Ian,

    While there was a perception among some Iraqis that petty crimes had increased following Saddam’s release of prisoners, there has been a very real increase in serious violent and deadly criminal activity, including but not limited to car jacking, kidnapping, rape, and murder, since the U.S. “liberated” Iraq.

  68. #68 Wilbur
    June 12, 2005

    Under Saddam, the trains ran on time too.

  69. #69 Shirin
    June 12, 2005

    Under Saddam, the trains ran on time too.

    What is your source for this assertion, Wilbur? And what has it to do with the hell on earth your government has created for Iraqis?

  70. #70 Scott Church
    June 12, 2005

    TD,

    “Yes, indulging your anger would be a bad reason; nice strawman you’ve knocked down there. Better reasons would be because he’s invaded 2 countries, used WMD against his own citizens, killed 2 million people, is keeping a clandestine network of WMD labs, because he runs a brutal police state that tortures dissidents, and because by removing him you can grant 25 million Iraqis their freedom.

    Actually, this is the straw man. Everyone knows that Saddam is an evil, repressive sociopath and something needed to be done about him. I’ve seen far more serious dispute of the fact that men have landed on the moon than for this. The issue has never been what should’ve been done–it’s what WAS done. Was a major invasion necessary? Did anyone in the Bush administration bother to think first about the consequences? Plan ahead? Read their intelligence reports and think about whether these had been credibly prepared? Plan for what would fill the vacuum afterward? Think about whether all other alternatives had been exhausted, including other covert and/or military ones? In fact, they did none of these things. Even if Saddam was Satan himself, incarnate in the rotting flesh of a walking corpse, this does not address whether or not the invasion was recklessly handled.

    “No, that was just one of many reasons given. It doesn’t detract from the many other valid reasons for removing Saddam.”

    Here’s yet another straw man. The issue was never whether to “remove Saddam”–it’s already been pointed out repeatedly that everyone wanted that. The issue was the invasion of Iraq, and it did not happen for “reasons”. It happened because of deliberated policy decisions. The U.S. Congress and the British Parliament formally approved the war after much debate and examination of the circumstances and evidence. The final approval was based more than anything else on what had been sold to them as reliable evidence of a significant WMD threat to Western interests. No matter how many “reasons” we, they, the vestal virgins, or anyone else can come up with for considering Saddam a bastard (including sanctions violations), if this “reliable” evidence had been based on carelessness, haste, or patriotic rage rather than thoroughness, then someone was negligent.

    Man, I’m sure glad my company is managed with higher standards than this. I’ve got a wife and daughter to feed.

  71. #71 Shirin
    June 12, 2005

    The fighting between Ansar-al-islam and the Kurds must have killed people…

    Hmmmmmm. “Must have”. This is the same kind of empty speculation that your government used and continues to use to justify their folly in Iraq. You have no information at all, but it “must have” happened.

    And Shirin, having dismissed my anon. sources as irrelevant, you then went and suggested you had some good ones of your own!

    As I noted before, I did not “suggest” any such thing. I merely mentioned some conversations I have had with friends and colleagues who have a lot of current insider information. I did not offer them as sources.

    The notion that Saddam never used Islamic fundamentalists is a little hard to swallow given his support for suicide bombers.

    I believe I have discussed this issue at some length on an earlier thread, and I do not know how useful it is to go over it again here.
    Saddam Hussein never “supported suicide bombers”, and even if he had, it would not have had anything to do with “using Islamic fundamentalists”. Saddam Hussein paid a stipend to the family of each Palestinian who was killed in the Intifada, including but not limited to suicide bombers. Only a small fraction of the money he paid out in this program went to families of suicide bombers. The overwhelming majority went to families of others who were killed. This is hardly an effective way to support suicide bombers.

    Saddam was also an old master at deniable support, going back to his support for the infamous terrorist strike on the OPEC conference in Vienna in December 1975…

    Really! Exactly what form did this “support” take, and what is your source for this information.

    his prompting of the terrorist siege at the Iranian embassy in London in 1980.

    1. What specifically do you mean by “prompting”?

    2. What ACTUAL EVIDENCE is there that Saddam Hussein “prompted” this even? By actual evidence, I do not mean claims by officials, or news reports presenting it as if it were established fact, I mean real evidence.

    3. Assuming, for the sake of argument, that Saddam did indeed “prompt” this action, he was doing nothing that other states – especially the U.S. – do not do, and less than many others. Supporting opposition groups’ actions against a government one does not like is, in fact, business as usual.

    4. Assuming, again for the sake of argument, that Saddam did indeed “prompt” this action, this does nothing to support the ludicrous allegations that he supported and assisted “Islamist” groups such as Ansar Al Islam, and Al Qa`eda, whose agendas are in direct conflict with his. The group that attacked the Iranian embassy was anything but an “Islamist” group, and its agenda was very much in sync with his.

    Most of the terrorists in both instances didn’t even know who they where working for.

    And I suppose your source for this is also “some guys you used to work with”? If you have a better source, please present it.

    If he could manage that overseas then I don’t find Goldberg’s claims, based on questioning Ansar-al-islam POWs in Kurdish custody, of him supporting terrorists in the Kurdish region hard to believe. It’s a pretty easy border to cross (in fact strictly speaking it’s not even a border).

    This conclusion depends, among other things, on an apples and oranges comparison between very dissimilar groups with conflicting agendas. It also depends on a number of assumptions for which there appears to be no evidence. In addition, in order to justify it you need to ignore numerous important factors in each of the situations you cited.

    if Saddam never gave them at least a nod and a wink, how do you explain Abu-Abdallah Shafi’i suddenly rolling up in Arbil with a lot of cash, just after the Jordanians released him to Iraq?

    Unlike you, and your government, I prefer not to base my conclusions and actions on speculation – at least not without making it clear that this is the basis.

  72. #72 Scott Church
    June 12, 2005

    One of the problems with discussions like these, is that they inevitably degenerate into stalemates over who’s a bigger SOB, Saddam or Bush and Blair, and debate about whether or not the invasion of Iraq was morally justified. Regardless of one’s opinions about either of these questions, both boil down to emotional value judgments. Whether this many hundred thousand deaths caused by ruler X is more “justifiable” than that many by ruler Y (or even what passes for “caused” in people’s minds) is entirely a matter of what the debaters hate most and value most. Unless one of us can produce an up to date license certifying his or her divinity (I sure as hell can’t), these fistfights are not going to get resolved this side of Judgment Day.

    Saddam killed this many people, Bush killed that many, Saddam broke this many laws, Bush broke that many, (half-time–Saddam is ahead by one goal but Bush has possession of the ball…), Saddam is a bigger bastard than Bush, Bush is a bigger bastard than Saddam, Iraqis are happier today, they are not, they love us, they hate us, the invasion was just, it was not…. was so!… was not!… was so!… was not!… was so!…

    Is it any wonder that these Lancet/Iraq posts drag on for hundreds and hundreds of comments doing little more than winding up everyone posting to them (including me)?

    As important as the questions are and as justified as the anger or concern may be toward those involved, disputes like these cannot be settled in an objective manner any more than an argument over whose wife is better looking can be.

    I would suggest that there would be a lot more clarity and a lot less fog and misdirected rage if we all just got off of that sick horse and concentrated on,

    1)   How the invasion was handled.

    2)   What we can learn about ourselves and our nations from whatever was handled thoughtlessly.

    3)   What real, honest impacts resulted from 2).

    4)   What can be done today to achieve 2) and rectify 3) before things get any worse.

    Does anyone really object to this? If not, then perhaps from now on we can get more done at these posts in a dozen comments than we have in 200 in past ones.

  73. #73 Shirin
    June 12, 2005

    Scott,

    Thanks for your suggestion. No doubt you did not intend it this way, but it appears to be a recommendation that we discuss right and wrong ways to commit an action that is itself wrong.

    1) How was the rape handled?
    2) What can the rapist learn about himself and his community of fellow rapists from whatever part of the rape he handled thoughtlessly?
    3) What real, honest impacts resulted from what the rapist learned about himself? Better handling of future rapes, perhaps? – I don’t know.
    4) etc.

    It can be useful in some contexts to discuss some of the innumerable specific ways the invasion was screwed up, but the bottom line is that just as there is no right way to commit a rape, there is no right way to commit a politically motivated act of aggression against a sovereign state.

  74. #74 Ian Gould
    June 12, 2005

    “Under Saddam, the trains ran on time too.”

    You know if, during the American occupation of Italy, the train system had collapsed as badly as Iraq’s power, oil and public security apparatus have since the 2003 invasion, Mussolini’s performance in this area would actually be relevant. Especially since people like yourself would doubtless be arguing “The train service was always bad.” Oh, and to accuse your opponents of approving of the Nazi death-camps.

    Saddam’s crimes don’t justify the failure of the occupying powers to meet their obligations under international law to protect the civilian population.

    One aspect of this failure was to allow tens of thousands of at-risk teenagers previously in state institutions to wander the streets unsupervised.

    The results of this as I noted previously was a large increase in the incidence of drug abuse, homelessness and child prostitution.

    But of course Saddam was Satan so if children were in state institutions it must be because he wanted to torment them not, for example, because they came from abusive homes.

  75. #75 Scott Church
    June 12, 2005

    Shirin,

    Thanks, and yes you are of course right. I didn’t intend it that way at all. What I was aiming at is the way these posts inevitably end up on whether Saddam’s actions are more evil than those of the invaders, thereby “justifying” what was done. Naturally, I share your view of it. But if someone hates Saddam enough–or for that matter, loves Bush enough–it becomes easy to pass off just about anything, including rape, as “collateral damage”. Of course, I have to remember that this works the other way as well. Regardless of our opinions on this, I’ve had enough arguments with my Right Wing in-laws and co-workers to know that I have about as much chance of getting them to re-define “collateral damage” as I do of getting Osama Bin Laden to convert to Christianity. It’s quicksand.

    What I think everyone agrees on is that Saddam is evil, something should have been done about him, and rape, murder, and hegemony are evil. What I would hope for I guess, is that if the discussion concentrated on what was done, how the evidence supporting it was handled, and what the actual consequences were, we might realize that things could have turned out differently had anyone thought, prayed, or been more careful. Many of those I know who support the war all out, including my in-laws, are Christians. I’ve always been struck by the fact that with the exception of the pastoral staff at my church in Seattle, I can’t point to one single conservative Christian I know who ever prayed for wisdom regarding the war in my presence or showed any indication of ever having considered it at any time. They do pray of course for our troops–which is good–but virtually never for wisdom about whether war is right. These people do not dispute the teaching of the Bible regarding the fact that those who live by the sword die by it (Matt. 26:52). Nor are they violent by nature. It seems to me that if anyone should stop and think twice–just think for a minute if nothing else for God’s sake–before rushing off to kill tens or hundreds of thousands of human beings, you would think it would be followers of the Prince of Peace. When these people become unquestioning advocates of violence despite what a careful reading of their Bibles are telling them (as has happened so utterly often throughout history) something is out of balance.

    I believe that all this reflects a breakdown in contemplation–where many passions, loyalties, fears, and inspiration itself all become easily confused–God, country, president, and my own personal rage all become synonymous with each other. With a different approach that avoids the quicksand, maybe we could interrupt this cycle. Perhaps some attention to the facts about the process, and some humble introspection, might lead us back to a place of thinking of where we want to go and how to be part of the solution instead of who we’re supposed to hate by either divine or national decree.

    This will not of course, undo any of the evil, and it damn sure won’t get anyone to redefine their definition of what collateral damage is “acceptable” or not. Nor does it imply that we shouldn’t name evil for what it is, wherever it’s found in the actions of sociopathic dictators and Western leaders on Crusades. But it might get someone to spend some time in thought, self examination, and prayer first, before flying off the handle in a fit of patriotic rage. If nothing else, that’s at least two steps ahead of where we’ll get angrily going back and forth with other angry people about how much bloodshed is “acceptable” to punish even more bloodshed, or whether or not the ongoing “acceptable” bloodshed is worse than the bloodshed that would’ve happened in some imaginary parallel universe where we didn’t invade and inflict a lot of bloodshed.

    All the best.

  76. #76 Wilbur
    June 14, 2005

    Shirin, I’m sorry, but all you’ve done is used rhetoric without any evidence. And if you don’t like evidence, then you choose not to believe it.

    1). first up, you stated “Only a small fraction of the money he paid out in this program went to families of suicide bombers…” which means than he DID support suicide bombers. By way of example; I think only a small part of Luftwaffe resources attacked a certain English town in 1942, but a relative of mine still knows who was responsible for it. The fact that something was only a small part of someone’s operations doesn’t mean it isn’t relevant.

    2). deaths caused by Ansar-al-islam are prettily easily googled in the news reports of the pre-invasion era. Or do you think that a radical terrorist group like that managed 12 months without actually killing anyone? Or do you think that ALL those news sources lied? And that Ansar-al-islam lied when it claimed to have killed people?
    Still, you’ve described Kurdish leaders as ‘warlords’ so I’m beginning to see where you’re coming from. You claim to know some people from the region; have they told you that no one died and that the reports are all false?

    3). the support Saddam gave to the terrorist attack on OPEC has been widely documented, David Yallop’s book To ‘The Ends of The Earth’ being one of the most detailed and carefully researched. Yallop’s best work includes interviewing different participants in different countries who did not know what other witnesses had told him. Yallop conducted some pretty thorough research which included interviewing a member of Black September, a veteran of the Olympic Games attack in Munich, and another who was Carlos the Jackal’s number two in Vienna, and Carlos himself. The operation was planned by Saddam when he was Vice-President and run through the controller, Wadi Haddad. Running it through him as a cut off meant that many of the terrorists didn’t even know who was planning the attack.

    4). the terrorists involved in the 1980 siege of the Iranian embassy in London travelled on newly provided Iraqi passports. Their London controller was one Sami Mohammed Ali, who stated he was an official of the Iraqi Ministry of Industry; in fact, he was an Iraqi army officer (he arrived on passport number F443373). He arrived in London with 4 of the 6 terrorists and rented two apartments in London. He even provided the weapons, which came in via the Iraqi diplomatic bag. The terrorists where all briefed and trained in Baghdad. Sami himself collected the men’s passports and suitcases on the morning of the attack, and dispatched then directly back to Baghdad. This matter was thoroughly reported at the time and has been written about at length ever since. It even came up in court in London. Or do you think that multiple witnesses from divergent backgrounds lied and falsified documents, then presented them under oath?

    5). You still haven’t provided any explanation for why Abu-Abdallah Shafi’i suddenly rolled up in Arbil with a lot of cash, just after the Jordanians released him to Iraq.

    Of course, you could try and convince yourself that all of these different incidents are the work of mischievous government officials and journalists, and that Saddam was innocent. And that the customs officials got their records wrong. As did the airlines. And the court in London. And the London Metropolitan Police. And that it was all one cunning conspiracy, played out by multiple different players many years before the fall of Baghdad, and long before Ansar-al-islam even existed. But then you’d be making assumptions.

  77. #77 Shirin
    June 14, 2005

    1). first up, you stated ‘Only a small fraction of the money he paid out in this program went to families of suicide bombers’ which means than he DID support suicide bombers.

    No, it does not mean that. It means that he offered to pay stipends to the families of all Palestinians who were martyred in the Intifada, and that a small fraction of those families happened to be families of suicide bombers.

    It is obvious that paying stipends to bereaved families of martyrs is not supporting suicide bombers at all. Supporting suicide bombers is providing them with the means to carry out bombings.

    By way of example; I think only a small part of Luftwaffe resources attacked a certain English town in 1942, but a relative of mine still knows who was responsible for it. The fact that something was only a small part of someone’s operations doesn’t mean it isn’t relevant.

    There is no relationship whatsoever between your “example” and what we are talking about. Saddam Hussein did not devote any part of his resources for suicide attacks. He did not provide suicide bombers with the means to carry out those attacks. What he did was pay stipends to the families of all martyred Palestinians, a small fraction of whom were suicide bombers. The money was not paid to suicide bombers, and it was not paid to the organizations who undertake suicide bombings.

    2). deaths caused by Ansar-al-islam are prettily easily googled in the news reports of the pre-invasion era.

    Then instead of saying they “must have” caused deaths, google them, and provide some specific information.

    Or do you think that a radical terrorist group like that managed 12 months without actually killing anyone? Or do you think that ALL those news sources lied? And that Ansar-al-islam lied when it claimed to have killed people?

    I will not engage in speculation about these things.

    Still, you’ve described Kurdish leaders as ‘warlords’ so I’m beginning to see where you’re coming from.

    I described them as warlords because that is what they are. They are also corrupt and brutal dictators who have the blood of tens of thousands of Kurds on their hands as a result of their brutality toward those opposed to them, and as a result of their turf wars. And Talibani is the very definition of an opportunist. He will lie down, and has lain down with anyone, including Saddam Hussein himself, on more than one occasion.

    You claim to know some people from the region; have they told you that no one died and that the reports are all false?

    Now you are being really silly. You are the one who supported his argument by claiming that there “must have” been some deaths, which is completely useless to support any argument.

    3). the support Saddam gave to the terrorist attack on OPEC has been widely documented…

    Good. Then you should have no problem at all answering my question, which I ask now for the second time. Exactly what form did this “support” take?

    4). You make lots of claims, without providing a single source. In any case, if you want to use this kind of activity as a reason for regime change, you will be busy for a very long time in a lot of different countries – most of the countries in the world, in fact. You might start by looking at the list of such activities on the part of your own governments, including the present one.

    5). You still haven’t provided any explanation for why Abu-Abdallah Shafi’i suddenly rolled up in Arbil with a lot of cash, just after the Jordanians released him to Iraq.

    I have already told you that I am not interested in indulging in idle speculation about such things. There could be many different explanations.

    Of course, you could try and convince yourself that all of these different incidents are the work of mischievous government officials and journalists, and that Saddam was innocent.

    What I am convinced of beyond any question whatsoever is that no incident or combination of incidents that took place in 1975 and 1980, can be used to justify “regime change” in 2003.

  78. #78 Wilbur
    June 15, 2005

    “I have already told you that I am not interested in indulging in idle speculation about such things. There could be many different explanations.”

    Occam’s razor would be lost on you, I suspect.

  79. #79 Shirin
    June 15, 2005

    Wilbur, I think Occam’s razor is quite lost on you, as you do not seem to understand it at all.

  80. #80 Wilbur
    June 20, 2005

    Well, you might want to look up that “Sami Mohammed Ali” fella I mentioned as being in London in 1980. Someone with the same name has been popping up in the most interesting places lately.

  81. #81 Shirin
    June 21, 2005

    Wilbur, I am not going to do your googling for you. If you have something, post a link and I will look at it. Otherwise it is just so much wind.

    Sami, Mohammad and Ali are three of the most common Arabic names. There must be thousands of Sami Mohammad Alis walking the earth right now.

  82. #82 stehpinkeln
    July 26, 2005

    Nobody is pro-war, at least in the West. A considerable number of Muslims appear to be. What those you call pro-war actually are is anti-destruction of western civilization. That is OBL’s stated goal. With the help of the Left, he will accomplish that goal. Anyone who is Anti-war is pro-Taliban. Sorry, but that is a fact.
    When President Bush said ‘you are with us or against us’ he was being accurate. Your opinion of that makes no difference. Anyone who claims to be neutral is a target for both sides. The Islamofascists are depending on Liberals to try and appease them. Appeasement HAS NEVER worked. Show me a time in history where appeasement did more then delay the inevitable. This is Osama bin Ladans war. He wanted it and he kept killing Americans until he got it. Clinton was to much of a coward to give OBL the fight he wants. So Osama kept killing Americans until he killed enough to get us to fight. If President Bush had passed, OBL would have just killed some more.
    There were 4700+ attacks by Muslims on Americans and/or American interests between 1980 and 2000. What does it take to get a liberal to understand that OBL wants him dead and it makes no difference to Osama who the President is.

  83. #83 Ian Gould
    July 27, 2005

    Appeasement HAS NEVER worked.

    Yes thank god we realised in time that the only way to stop the Soviet Union was all-out nuclear war.

The site is undergoing maintenance presently. Commenting has been disabled. Please check back later!