Saturday, June 04, 2005

Down-ing that memo ...

Some on the hard Left are trying to make a big deal over the "Downing Street Memo". These notes of a 2002 meeting in the British PM's office are being waved about by John Kerry and Michael Moore (among others) as prima facie evidence that President Bush (1) was determined to start a war with Saddam & Sons, and (2) intentionally fabricated evidence about WMD.

However, there's one chink in their armor, as I described to fellow Indepundit cybersquatter and debate opponent Chris Alemany (who's joined Senator Kerry and the Moore-on in waving the memo and calling for my President's ouster) in the following comment on his blog, Murky View.

Ahem, Chris … that memo also documents the discussions regarding what would happen if Saddam used his WMD against Coalition forces, early in the conflict. If this is the smoking gun, regarding my President’s “fabrications”
re: Iraq, then why were they even discussing that scenario in this meeting? Hmmm ...


As usual, Chris retorted with a juicy response, ripe for the Fisking ... so here we go ...

Because they didn’t know for sure, that’s the whole point Rich.

They didn't know for sure that Saddam did NOT have WMD, either ... however, they DID know that he had used them in the past to further his totalitarian objectives, had sought to acquire and/or develop more potent ones, and would use them again if the opportunity was right in his eyes.

Furthermore, as the Duelfer Report pointed out, Saddam actually liked to keep people ... even his OWN FREAKIN' GENERALS ... guessing about his WMD capabilities -- he was nowhere near as reassuringly forthcoming as, for example, South Africa when it came to verifying disarmament.

As I have asserted before here, you can reliably tell who is a threat, and who is not, by evaluating their past history, character, and capabilities ... and when evaluated in that light, Saddam & Sons were a threat.

No one did at that point. As the Memo states, the WMD angle was the only justifiable angle.

The missing key word here, is "politically".

Any rational person would see that Saddam & Sons were a threat, as I described above and will talk about more later ... but Leftists like Moore and Kerry have, over the last fifty years, sold so effectively the fallacies of "war is NEVER the answer" and peace-through-universal-impotence that it takes nothing less than the threat of WMD to get many people to pay attention to a threat.

The fact that it takes the threat of WMD to get peoples' attention is an indictment of the judgment of the Left, who encouraged this mindset as they prioritized the prevention of American mistakes over the prevention of thug intent.

Did you read the whole memo? It says. “…the case was thin. ..."

In terms of courtroom-level-proof, many months before the war ... perhaps. In terms of the common sense of reasonable people, who look beyond a go/no-go UN checklist to the character of those who might be threatening us ... the case was strong.

"Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran."

Saddam was theatening at least one nearby "neighbor" ... Israel, through his support of Palestinian terrorism. His support of other forms of terrorism (including possibly the 1993 WTC bombing) threatened his global neighbors, as well. WMD would amplify the effect of that "neighborly outreach".

Of course, he had also been threatening the local "neighbors" -- the Kurds and Shiites within Iraq. The only reason the execution of those threats had been suspended (not eliminated) was because the United States military enforced the no-fly zones ... and IMO, it was not prudent to rely on that to keep Saddam in check in perpetuity. If nothing else, the way Saddam played the UN like a Stradivarius would eliminate any guarantee of our continued presence there ... and even if we could keep them in place, the fact that Saddam still controlled the ground there still made it difficult for these people to live free and pursue happiness.

If "capability" equates to number and type of weapons, they were probably right.

However, there is something else that must be considered when evaluating capability: probability of use. This has two components -- the character of those in charge, and the checks and balances exisiting within a government to prevent capricious use of these capabilities. This is what made Saddam Huessin stand out from all the rest ... history shows him as brutal, capricious, and unpredictible, and his nation had NO effective checks-and-balances to inhibit his ability to perpetrate aggression and/or provide significant support to terrorists. History showed us that he would use WMD, terrorists, or any other means at his disposal to expand his totalitarian reach, whenever the opportunity presented itself!

"We should work up a plan for an ultimatum to Saddam to allow back in the UN weapons inspectors. This would also help with the legal justification for the use of force.”

This is their opinion ... not fact. It was not necessarily shared by my President.

For inspections to work, the inspected party must act in good faith ... and Saddam was notorious for his duplicity and obstructions during previous inspections. Get this through your heads, Leftists: inspections were not reliable for assuring compliance, as long as Saddam was still in power.

As for legal justification -- we already had the violation of the Gulf War cease-fire, and other violations of international law doucmented in SEVENTEEN UN resolutions! As I have asked you before, Chris ... when were y'all going to DO something to decisively resolve these problems? Any form of law is WORSE THAN USELESS when it is administered by misguided/relativist/corrupt leaders who will not acknowledge the existence of evil and enforce that law.

“The Attorney-General said that the desire for regime change was not a legal base for military action.”

You make this sound like this was just somebody's whim -- as I described above, we had legal justification to take the regime down ... WMD or no WMD.

“The Prime Minister said that it would make a big difference politically and legally if Saddam refused to allow in the UN inspectors. Regime change and WMD were linked in the sense that it was the regime that was producing the WMD. ”

Again, the key word is "politically" ... because politics -- the misplaced idealism of the Left, combined with the realpolitik of the "international community" -- was getting in the way of enforcing the law and protecting the rights of the innocent.

Chris says "so this memo is a smoking gun because it shows:"

a) that Bush had decided to go to war even before he asked Congress and months before he made his “decision” clear to the American people.

You make it sound like he is as capricious and arbitrary in making that decision as Saddam would be ... Chris, have you ever thought that my President was thinking that this war was INEVITIBLE, because of the character of Saddam & Sons -- it was going to be fought, sooner or later, so it was better to fight it now BEFORE Saddam got any stronger or more motivated?

Of course you didn't ... in your idealism, you think that war can ALWAYS be avoided, so therefore anyone who acts to move towards war MUST be evil.

BTW, we do pay our CINC to think ahead, and formulate plans to deal with upcoming threats, even before he presents his findings to Congress and the American people.

Finally -- the policy of calling for regime change in Iraq not only predates this memo, not only predates 911 -- it predates President Bush entering office! It started in 1998, during the CLINTON administration ... with the support of many of those who would now like to use the actions of my President to justify his impeachment!

And, let me add one more thing ... if he was so arrogantly sure-of-himself that he was hell-bent on war ... why did he wait (and risk WMD dispersal) until March 2003, and go through the motions of the UN proceedings? Have you ever been in a situation where you already knew the answer, but were looking for something better?

My President is probably more patient ... than I would have been!

b) that the WMD angle was weak and that the *policy* was to “fix” the facts to fit the outcome.

You make it sound like my President KNEW that Saddam was clean ... but wanted him out, anyway. As I said above, Saddam acted to keep people guessing about his WMD capabilities ... he did not act in good faith or complete cooperation in the past.

And let's talk about that word "fix" ... which was in the memo.

Did that mean distort the intelligence? Where is your corroborating evidence, besides this collection of notes that legally would be considered hearsay, for that position?

The 911 commission found NO evidence of this ... the Senate investigation of our intel apparatus found NO evidence of this ... in fact, witness after witness asserted that NO pressure to distort intel was ever applied!!

OTOH, "fix" could mean organizing the existing, undistorted intelligence around the assertion that Saddam had to go ... that's also called "making your case" and is a fixture in every courtroom, Congressional debate, UN debate, and almost every decision involving more than one person.

c) When push came to shove… Saddam *did* let in inspectors, thus negating the “big difference” that Tony Blair himself said Saddams refusal would make.

Again, inspections were not reliable for assuring compliance, as long as Saddam was still in power. The "big difference" was only political in nature ... not in terms of actual security. The reason that we went ahead with war, was because our leadership accurately perceived the inadequacy of these inspections ... but still gave them every reasonable chance to work.

One problem with the UN is, its officials want to be perceived as "successful" to such a degree that they often sink to the level of "any negotiation -- or inspection -- is a good one", regardless of the facts on the ground ... and conversely, since they consider "any war is a failure" if they are involved in the preceeding events, they had a lot of incentive to get in the way of removing Saddam by force.

This memo may show that the Brits may have been hoping for inspections to make a difference in 2002 ... but when everything was said and done in 2003, compliance was not being assured, so they went to war right along with us.

d) That invading a country for the sole purpose of regime change is not a valid, legal reason for war.

Read all the above, and you'll see that regime change was not the "sole purpose", but only the mechanism for effectively dealing with the MANY REASONS that justified the removal of Saddam.

e) That the humanitarian angle was not an option because there was no ongoing humanitarian crisis (like it *was* in Bosnia and *is* in Darfur.

This note, Chris, illustrates the moral bankruptcy of the Left ... there were a lot fewer mass graves in Bosnia than in Iraq, but the Left had little problem going to war in Bosnia, while it was dead-set against it in Iraq.

Why? IMO, it was because they were assured that America was doing it for the right reasons ... a perception they had ONLY BECAUSE THEY DID NOT SEE ANY WAY FOR SOMEONE TO MAKE A PROFIT ON BOSNIA!

The amount of dead people, or the brutal ways in which they were killed, don't amount to a hill of beans for your ideological fellow-travelers if there is ANY CHANCE that some American rich guy can make a profit. To them, any appearance of personal profit irrevocably taints even the noblest of actions.

As for Darfur -- this is one penalty of inaction.

By the Left's effective inhibition of any effort to clean up these sinkholes of brutality like Iraq over the years, (through its moral myopia as shown above, combined with effective advocacy of its "war is NEVER the answer" position) we now have such a problem in Iraq, that a situation like Darfur -- that does not significantly threaten our ability to operate in the world -- has to wait for our attention.

There are other nations who could take that on ... but y'all insist that, to avoid the appearance of "imperialism", it must be a multinational effort, that includes those (like the UN) that emulate the corruption and ineptitude that feed the problems that are already there.

Please oh please explain to me how even *one* of those points could not be an impeacheable offense if proven?

You fail on two counts here, Chris:

First, this memo has many evidentiary holes in it, and no corroboration of your interpretation of it by other substantial evidence, to the degree that reasonable doubts regarding your assertions are removed.

Second, we had more than enough reasons to consider the removal of Saddam & Sons prudent ... if you recognize that sometimes, war is the answer.


Comments:
Rich:

Here's your smackdown on what "fixed" means in the Memo, from the fellow who wrote the original Sunday Times article:

Michael Smith: There are number of people asking about fixed and its meaning. This is a real joke. I do not know anyone in the UK who took it to mean anything other than fixed as in fixed a race, fixed an election, fixed the intelligence. If you fix something, you make it the way you want it. The intelligence was fixed and as for the reports that said this was one British official. Pleeeaaassee! This was the head of MI6. How much authority do you want the man to have? He has just been to Washington, he has just talked to George Tenet. He said the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. That translates in clearer terms as the intelligence was being cooked to match what the administration wanted it to say to justify invading Iraq. Fixed means the same here as it does there. More leaks? I do hope so and the more Blair and Bush lie to try to get themselves off the hook the more likely it is that we will get more leaks.

Do you need "corroborating evidence" to understand plain english?
 
I need more than the opinion of one UK official, Gordo. That's his view ... one man, whose motivations are not fully known, not backed up with anything beyond his own notes.

OK, he sayse he meant "fixed" in the worst sense ... but what he calls "fixed' are the same steps you take to "make your case", as I describe ... the same process the President's opponents use to make their cases about Halliburton/Big Oil/global warming/globalization ... the difference being, that the case aligns better with fact and reasson in the case of my President.

I'm not smacked down yet ...
 
BTW, this was the Sunday Times article writer's opinion ... not a direct quote from the writer of the memo regarding the meaning of "fixed."

I consider this even weaker "evidence" now, than I did in my previous comment.

You gotta do better than that!
 
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