Monday, March 27, 2006

Iraq: Smoking Guns and Smoking Crack

NYT's Don Van Natta Jr. reports this morning on yet another Downing Street Memo.
In the weeks before the United States-led invasion of Iraq, as the United States and Britain pressed for a second United Nations resolution condemning Iraq, President Bush's public ultimatum to Saddam Hussein was blunt: Disarm or face war.

But behind closed doors, the president was certain that war was inevitable. During a private two-hour meeting in the Oval Office on Jan. 31, 2003, he made clear to Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain that he was determined to invade Iraq without the second resolution, or even if international arms inspectors failed to find unconventional weapons, said a confidential memo about the meeting written by Mr. Blair's top foreign policy adviser and reviewed by The New York Times.

I'm glad to see continued evidence of the Bush administration's war hoax coming to light, but am not sure how much good it's going to do. We already know what he pulled, and unless the Democrats gain majorities in both the House and Senate come November, Mister Bush will likely never pay a penalty for the disasters he's created, and neither will any of his sidemen.

I've summarized on a number of occasions how the neoconservative think tank Project for a New American Century (PNAC) first proposed what became the Bush II Iraq policy in 1998. The PNAC membership included a number of prominent figures who later played key roles in the Bush administration: Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, John Bolton, and Paul Wolfowitz to name a few. PNAC also attracted a number of high profile conservative commentators like Charles Krauthammer, the WaPo columnist whose signature appeared on the September 20, 2001 urging Mister Bush to remove Saddam Hussein from power whether he turned out to be connected to the 9/11 attacks or not.

Krauthammer's one of the hawks who still drums support for their woebegone war and whom the logically impaired still listen to.

In last Fridays column, Krauthammer says "Of Course it's a Civil War," and what's the big deal? He was calling it a civil war a year and a half ago. Nothing's changed, nothing's new, there's not need to get all "defeatist."

He accuses former interim Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi--who said last week that Iraq is in a civil war and is nearing the point of no return--of having an "ax to grind." But it's hard to imagine Allawi having an ax anywhere near the size of Krauthammer's. Unlike Krauthammer, Allawi didn't beg Mister Bush to invade his country.

The article contains Krauthammer's standard assortment of glittering generalities, faulty assumptions, straw man stuffing, false analogies, and other cheap rhetoric tricks. This part cries out for serious deconstructing:
The problem is the police forces, which have been infiltrated by some of the Mahdi Army and other freelance Shiite vigilantes…

… But let's put this in perspective. First, this kind of private revenge attack has been going on at a low level since the beginning of the insurgency. Second, it does have the effect of concentrating Sunni minds on the price of their continuing support for the random, large-scale and heretofore unanswered slaughter of Shiites that they either actively or passively support.
And, third, if the private militias are the problem, it is a focused and relatively narrow problem. Creating discipline and central control over the security services is a more manageable issue than all-out Hobbesian conflict.

That "private revenge" attacks have been going on for years doesn't make them okay, especially when it appears that they'll be going on for years to come.

Little in war is certain. To infer that revenge attacks serve a good purpose by "concentrating Sunni minds" is to claim that Krauthammer and those like him "know the enemy" when the overwhelming burden of our experience in Iraq proves that they don't. History is rife with case studies of societies that continued to fight long after rational hindsight shows they should have thrown in the towel. Germany and Japan are two of the most obvious examples.

"Unanswered slaughter" of Shiites by the Sunnis? Hmm. As I recall, the mightiest nation in the history of humanity sent its all time best-trained, best-equipped military half-way across the world to beat the holy hell out of the army that slaughtered all those Shiites, toss the Sunni leader who commanded them in the slammer, and then turn the country over to the Shiite majority. How much more "answer" does Krauthammer need?

The militia problem is anything but focused and narrow. It's a cat rodeo. When your police are infiltrated by militiamen who place loyalty to their militias above loyalty to the government, you're in a Hobbesian war. And the kind of discipline and control it takes to manage a problem like involves a long wall and truckloads of blindfolds and cigarettes, which generally turns a Hobbesian war even more Hobbesian.

Bush and Krauthammer are two key indicators that most of our once mighty nation is sucking on a giant, Orwellian crack pipe. Krauthammer helped shape the Iraq invasion policy and Miser Bush executed it on false pretexts. Yet, incredibly, people still pay attention to what Krauthammer has to say and Bush is still the president of the United States of America.


  1. You mean they're smoking crack in a metaphorical sense, of course. Wait --

    Symptoms of chronic meth use:

    "...chronic methamphetamine abusers exhibit symptoms that can include violent behavior, anxiety, confusion, and insomnia. They also can display a number of psychotic features, including paranoia, auditory hallucinations, mood disturbances, and delusions (for example, the sensation of insects creeping on the skin, which is called "formication"). The paranoia can result in homicidal as well as suicidal thoughts.

    Chronic abuse can lead to psychotic behavior, characterized by intense paranoia, visual and auditory hallucinations, and out-of-control rages that can be coupled with extremely violent behavior."

    Long-term cocaine use: "...leads to a state of increasing irritability, restlessness, and paranoia. This may result in a full-blown paranoid psychosis, in which the individual loses touch with reality and experiences auditory hallucinations."

    Metaphor, schmetaphor.

  2. LOL! Great post, Jeff!