The Tragedy of Unintended Consequences

Tragedy abounds in this world. It always has, in various measures, and always will. In the face of tragedy, many questions linger. Why did this happen? What does it mean? Could it have been averted? Those answers that perchance come tend to be rather individual, filtered as they are through one’s beliefs, values, and experiences. Rarely do the answers, such as they are, bring adequate comfort and resolution. For the past, with all its losses and horrors, cannot be undone. The fact of the tragedy remains, and so the question becomes: what can be taken from this event?

Today’s Boston Globe offers a story of one recent tragedy. Here is an excerpt from that article:

Injured woman drowns when rescue boat capsizes in Connecticut River

CHARLESTOWN, N.H. –An injured woman drowned after a rescue boat taking her to an ambulance capsized in the Connecticut River, trapping her underneath in 20 feet of water, authorities said.

Virginia Yates, 60, of Rockingham, Vt., was stepping on a dock when she slipped, injured her head and fell into the river, said Sgt. Craig Morrocco of the Fish and Game Department.

A fire and rescue crew from Cornish brought Yates onto their brand new, flat-bottomed airboat and strapped her onto a backboard.

But as the boat headed to a waiting ambulance at a landing, it started taking on water and capsized, said Morrocco, whose agency was called to the scene about 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.

“The boat swamped and emergency services personnel were unable to recover Miss Yates until some time later, and she’s passed” said Marc Hathaway, Sullivan County attorney.

Edgar Emerson, of Bellows Falls, Vt., said he and Yates were on their way to visit friends when she slipped getting out of his pontoon boat and onto a dock on the Vermont side of the river.

She had cuts and bruises on her head and arms and might have broken her ankle, so he made sure she was seated on the shore before he boated to Hoyt’s Landing in Springfield, Vt., to find a cell phone and call friends. Others persuaded him to call 911, he said.

“She didn’t want to go in the ambulance, she didn’t want to be rescued,” Emerson told the Rutland Herald….

None of the Cornish fire and rescue crew members were reported injured. Yates remained underwater for nearly an hour.

The cause of the accident was unclear. [full text]

What may be taken from this unfortunate event is the sadly ironic parallel with a tragedy of far greater proportions: the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq. President Bush and members of his administration have frequently asserted—once the dissembling about weapons of mass destruction and links with al-Qaeda were exposed—that a key reason for invading Iraq was, in effect, to rescue the Iraqi people, to liberate them from the injurious regime of a brutal man. In March of this year, Mr. Bush described the invasion as “the necessary first step in restoring stability and freedom to the people of Iraq.� While there appears to have been no time in recent history that the Iraqi people have actually experienced much “stability and freedom,� thus making its restoration a questionable premise, it nonetheless appears clear that the lofty goals espoused by the President remain a distant likelihood. The “freedom agenda,� as he has taken to calling it, has proved disastrous. Far from being rescued, the people of Iraq have experienced enormous suffering and loss of life. Consider the following:

• At least 50,000 Iraqis have died violently since the 2003 US-led invasion, according to statistics from the Baghdad morgue, the Iraqi Health Ministry, and other agencies — a toll 20,000 higher than previously acknowledged by the Bush administration. Many more Iraqis are believed to have been killed but have not been counted because of serious lapses in recording the number of deaths in the chaotic first year after the invasion, when there was no functioning Iraqi government and continued spotty reporting nationwide. (Boston Globe, 6/25/06)

• Malnutrition among Iraqi children has reached alarming levels, according to a U.N.-backed government survey showing people are struggling to cope three years after U.S.-forces overthrew Saddam Hussein. Nine percent — almost one in 10 — of children aged between six months and five years, suffered acute malnourishment, said the report on food security and vulnerability in Iraq. “Children are…major victims of food insecurity,â€? it said, describing the situation as “alarming.â€? A total of four million Iraqis, roughly 15 percent of the population, were in dire need of humanitarian aid including food, up from 11 percent in a 2003 report. (Reuters, 6/15/06)

• Nationwide statistics during the past three years suggest that American efforts to secure Iraq aren’t succeeding. While various military operations have at times improved security in parts of the country, the bloodshed has mounted with each U.S.-declared step of progress, according to figures that the Brookings Institution research center compiled from news and government reports. When L. Paul Bremer, then the top U.S. representative in Iraq, appointed an Iraqi Governing Council in July 2003, insurgent attacks averaged 16 daily. When Saddam Hussein was captured that December, the average was 19. When Bremer signed the hand-over of sovereignty in June 2004, it was 45 attacks daily. When Iraq held its elections for a transitional government in January 2005, it was 61. When Iraqis voted last December for a permanent government, it was 75. When U.S. forces killed terrorist mastermind Abu Musab al Zarqawi in June, it was up to 90. (McClatchy Newspapers, 8/14/06)

• July appears to have been the deadliest month of the war for Iraqi civilians, according to figures from the Health Ministry and the Baghdad morgue, reinforcing criticism that the Baghdad security plan started in June by the new Iraqi government has failed. An average of more than 110 Iraqis were killed each day in July, according to the figures. The total number of civilian deaths that month, 3,438, is a 9 percent increase over the tally in June and nearly double the toll in January. The rising numbers indicate that sectarian violence is spiraling out of control and seem to bolster an assertion that many senior Iraqi officials and American military analysts have been making in recent months: that the country is already embroiled in a civil war, not just slipping toward one, and that the American-led forces are caught between Sunni Arab guerrillas and Shiite militias. (New York Times, 8/15/06)

How much evidence is required before Mr. Bush and others who would tout America’s success in Iraq wake up and smell the gunpowder? Whatever the intentions may have been, however noble or nefarious, it is patently obvious that U.S. efforts have produced greater harm than good. A fundamental tenet of medicine is primum non nocere, which is Latin for “first, do no harm.â€? Those responsible for formulating and implementing this nation’s foreign and domestic policies ought take this principle more to heart and take heed of the difficult lessons such tragedies as Iraq may afford. Virginia Yates died while being rescued on the Connecticut River, for reasons that remain unclear. It was an unintended consequence. Iraqi civilians are dying every day in Baghdad and Basra and Ramadi, for reasons that are perhaps more clear but no less deadly. It is an unintended consequence, as well. Daily, the body count rises, and the liberation grinds on. What is to be taken from all this?

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12 responses

  1. Draw out the analogy to its logical consequence. “First, do no harm.” A boat ride can be dangerous, so using one to transport a 60 year old woman who banged her head and broke her ankle is a risk that might not be worth taking. Sure she may have suffered a concusion and her ankle may never have healed properly, preventing her from ever walking again, but at least should would be alive. A crash in a speeding ambulance could kill you, so should an accident victim be left suffering to avoid potential death in transport to the hospital?

    Before the cancer can be defeated, painful chemotherapy must be endured.
    The surgeon must cut open the chest before mending the patient.

    Should potential harm prevent us from taking steps to make things better?

    Certainly some lamented the number of deaths resulting from our own revolution, and could have similarly said it wasn’t worth it…first, do no harm. Others decried the casualities of our civil war, and perhaps kept a body count…first, do no harm. Imagine those during either World War, who condemned the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives.

    But the initial pain and tragic loss of life resulted in independence and a world’s most successful democracy, an end to slavery while keeping that democracy together, and the end of tyrannical dictators seeking to control the world.

    I’m not suggesting Iraq is as significant, but the sacrifices made by Americans brought down a murderous tyrant who was a threat to Iraqi neighbors and the United States. With continued efforts and support for those in Iraq, the pain (harm) will give way to a stronger, safer Iraq.

  2. But at what cost? And can you say that Iraq is stronger and/or safer than it was three years ago? Did Saddam Hussein kill 16,000 Iraqis per year? And the French did not invade the British colonies in NAm to “liberate” them. The colonials did that themselves. The choice was not imposed from without. And if Iraq is not stronger or safer, when will it be? How many more people must die to reach that goal? What is the cutoff point, when it’s no longer “worth it”?

    And how was Iraq a threat to the US? Those blister agent artillery shells that Don Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, George I, and St Ronnie Reagan gave to Saddam in the 1980s?

    And have we brought down one threat, only to increase the danger of another? Iraq and Afghanistan were threats to Iran. Now that we have eliminated these threats, Iran is a much more dangerous threat than it was 3 years ago. What are we going to do about that threat?

    These are the questions that should have been asked back in 2002. Apparently, they weren’t. It would be a “cakewalk.” We would be greeted as “liberators” with “sweets and flowers.” Given their inability to ask the appropriate questions at the appropriate time, why should we believe that this Admin will ever do what is necessary to correct the situation? What evidence do we have that they have learned anything from this experience that will help them fix their errors?

    And, how are we going to pay for this? We’ve effectively imposed a deferred Birth Tax on every child in this country, because it’s going to take years to work off the debt. And some of those in power still want to eliminate the estate tax.

    It’s all very fine and good to offer lovely rhetoric (stay the course; whatever it takes; freedom is on the march), but rhetoric does not win wars or set things right. That takes hard work and hard questions. This admin was never serious about this war, and they have not shown themselves to have grown sufficiently–if at all–to be able to undertake the hard work that is needed.

    Bush’s “plan” for Iraq is to sit tight for the next two years and force the next guy in office to clean up the mess. Or what can anyone point to that proves otherwise? That’s what this Pres has done his entire life: make a mess and get daddy’s friends to bail him out. And he was the candidate with “character”?

  3. Superb rebuttal, klaus.

    Regretfully, I would only add that given our current course, we appear to be much closer to witnessing Iraq implode in civil war than we are to seeing a “stronger, safer Iraq�. I don’t even want to consider the level of carnage that would ensue if an all-out civil war should occur.

  4. As quoted this blog, Mike still believes; “… the initial pain and tragic loss of life (from all of our wars) resulted in independence and a world’s most successful democracy, an end to slavery while keeping that democracy together, and the end of tyrannical dictators seeking to control the world.”

    Hmmm.

    Sounds much like a rote 10th grade American history test essay answer I might have submitted in 1965.
    Forty years later, I look around and conclude that the jury’s still out on what constitutes “the world’s most successful democracy”. The story has not yet reached conclusion.

    Let’s keep the facts 10th Grade simple.

    1) America is in a permanent state of War On Terror.

    2) Terrorists and their sympathizers may be loosely defined as anyone who doesn’t agree with the current Administration.

    3) Expression of dissent is constrained in public and monitored in private.

    4) The DOD is now contracted with Hallibuton to reconstruct decommissioned military bases to function as Civilian Inmate Detention Centers.

    5) The President has for 5 years granted himself powers negating the rule of Constitutional law. He answers to no one and no public body. Sounds like a 10th grade definition of dictator to me.

    6) The general public, taught to live in fear for their lives, but for the beneficent protection of their government, are shackled to more immediate needs of protecting the welfare of their own families. Jobs are being shipped overseas by world-wide conglomerates that don’t even pay the same comparative tax rate, if any, as the regular Joe&Jane doggedly supporting their family on 50K or less.
    7) The agenda for the New American Century proscribes an ever widening spread of “democracy” over soveriegn governments of their own choosing: i.e. invasion of Afghanistan and Irag is OK. We can knock ‘em over. Invasion of North Korea, China, Russia, Cuba, Iran, Syria, Somalia, Uganda, Congo, etc. etc. … Well, let’s think about it. Not so many years ago, Noamar Khadaffi, Dictator of Libya, was our ultimate enemy. He helped blow 300 people out of the sky. Now he is our friend: i.e. he doesn’t bother us and we don’t bother him (too much). All he had to do was pay off the right people. This is what passes for diplomacy right now, today, by your “American government”.

    I enquote the term American Government because it has become, or, maybe always has been, an ethereal object. More a figment of our shared cultural imagination than physical, dynamic entity. Our hallowed American soil is soiled with the blood of our forefather’s genocide of native americans. And fertilized by the blood and toil of millions more Africans. These are plain facts.
    Do we really want to continue to cloak ourselves in blood? And, seemingly, wish to continue that heritage for our future generations. How is it possible that one can excuse the expense of 1 billion dollars per month on a false war at the the expense of one’s own children?

    I’m just asking.

  5. pugpusher, even 10th graders wouldn’t fall for your “facts” as they most likely understand the difference between fact and opinion. You state wild opinions and offer no evidence that they are truth.

    It’s a shame you can’t recognize the hundreds of millions of people who were freed from communism and Nazi fascism, or the millions upon millions of people who have immigrated here from all over the world to find better lives, to enjoy the freedoms that America provides, that of religion, speech, due process, the ability to elect (and re-elect!) leaders and reject others. You do not see the great strides developed by Americans, relating to medicine, transportation, technology, and food production. You don’t recognize that through tax dollars and private donations, Americans give more than anyone else in the world.

    You also fail to see that Americans will go to great lengths to protect their own. That when terrorists take down monuments to our progress and kill thousands doing so, we will not rest until that threat has been removed so others will not suffer the same fate.

    We ARE the world’s most successful democracy, and the millions who try to join it each year are the testament.

    It is you pugpusher that sounds more like the teen-ager, yelling “I hate you” at his parents because he can’t use the car.

    There’s so much for which Americans can be proud, and thankful. It saddens me that you cannot, or will not, recognize it.

  6. It is interesting how some commentors tend to respond to criticism by picking out one aspect of the critique, blowing it up to be the Main Theme, and then attempt to make it seem that the whole critique is wrong because a single piece doesn’t quite work.

    In football, that’s called a misdirection.

    We have had a successful democracy; however, our democracy has rarely–if ever–fully lived up to its own aspirations. Hence, slavery, the need for the Civil Rights Acts, etc. Now, our democracy is again under assault from within. The current leaders of this country have perverted or ignored the Constitution to suit their own ends. Moreover, they will continue to do so, unless someone stops them. That is for Congress and/or the Supreme Court to do.

    Yes, Americans can be proud of much. But benificent nations do not willfully invade other countries to control that countries’ resources. That is called “imperialism” and that is what we are currently practicing in Iraq. We should not be proud of that. Iraq had no significant role in 9/11, so we cannot justify our invasion on the basis of that lie.

    We are not there to “protect our own.” Even if we were, events in Britain, trumpeted by this Admin, have shown that our presence in Iraq has in no way prevented plots from occurring, while diligent police work has.

    So why are we there? Is it a coincidence that Iraq may have the largest reserves of oil in the world? And that the two men leading this Admin are from the oil industry? And that the VP had a top secret planning session with industry insiders to formulate our energy policy?

    No. America must not be proud of this. We must condemn such acts as fundamentally “Unamerican.” We must live up to the ideals that we profess. Then will we be a true beacon of democracy.

  7. What I find more interesting klaus are commentators who ask question after question rather than state facts and opinions.

    You can inject claims of coincidence, but tell us how the US has thus far benefited from Iraqi oil.

    You can make claims about a “top secret planning session”, but tell us how you know about it.

    What makes America great is that we know we are not perfect, and we work to correct our mistakes. Our constitution can be amended when necessary. The Civil Rights laws should not be viewed as something to be ashamed of, but rather an accomplishment of pride. We grow.

    The current administration has not ignored the Constitution, and you can offer no evidence to prove such a claim. If you are referring to the “eavesdropping” on international calls involving suspected terrorists, the judicial process will provide interpretation to determine its constitutionality. After an appeal process, if it is deemed unconstitutional it will stop immediately. That’s the way our system works.

    The United States is not imperialistic. It is the most powerful nation in the world, and could easily overtake many other nations if it so desired. But unlike the once imperialistic British Empire, fascist Germany, or the communist Soviet Union, America has made no efforts to cede other nations. In fact, history shows the opposite, as in Japan, Germany, Italy, South Korea, Yugoslavia, and Afghanistan, where self-governance was the goal. Can you tell me a country that we have invaded against its will and declared it part of the United States?

    It is clear that Al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein had a relationship. Today most argue the extent. Evidence of Iraq’s involvement in other terrorist activities exists, including the first attack on the WTC and an attempted attack on American planes in the Philippines. Documents also suggest Mohammed Atta was trained in Baghdad. While the President has said there’s no documented evidence directly linking Saddam Hussein to 9-11, it’s ridiculous to suggest Hussein was not involved in international terrorism, and supported and encouraged enemies of the United States. Iraq threatened our safety in many ways, including its support of terrorism, and its blatant disregard for the terms that ended the first Gulf War.

    You klaus brought us the term un-American. I think that term can be applied to some of the comments made by “pugpusher”. Of course you will express outrage at such gall, probably in the form of a question.

  8. Mike sez: “even 10th graders wouldn’t fall for your “factsâ€? as they most likely understand the difference between fact and opinion. You state wild opinions and offer no evidence that they are truth.”

    Mike offers that quote in response to my “wild” assertion that our country is founded and built upon the blood of less strong minorities; i.e. Native Americans, Africans, Chinese, European refugees. Anyone alive today who is unaware of proof of these facts has a brain that is cognitively disfunctional. The facts, if one is able to see them, speak for themselves.

    My main point is that, the USA, still being quite young, cannot be held up as the pinnacle of democratic achievement. My point is that no one can deny that our current democracy is based on the blood of millions of people who had no participation in our government’s development. Geeze, Mike. Even you can’t deny that women, no matter what race, were denied participation until just recently.

    My point, Mike, is that our current government is hell-bent on extending this bloody evolution across the globe at the expense of the freedoms it simultaneously purports to extend. Your government is tapping your phone lines in the name of freedom. Your government is reading these lines.

    Do you see those facts as “wild opinion”?
    Or do you just want to be on the “stronger side”
    Not too long ago, in Germany, those folks of like mind clubbed-up as the SS. How strong are your opinions of supremecy over others. Think about it for just a minute or two.

  9. mike,
    I suppose if you already know everything, questions become superfluous.

    U.S. oil companies have certainly benefitted from record profits resulting from disruptions in world oil supplies. And I suppose you’ll argue that the war in Iraq has had little if any effect on the supply of oil. But I digress.

    To my point: the President is right; there is no evidence linking Saddam to 9-11. And if we follow your reasoning to its logical conclusion and “involvement in terrorist activities� is the standard by which we determine which nations present an “immanent threat� to the US, then we must immediately declare war on Iran, North Korea, Syria, Libya, Cuba, and Venezuela, just to name a few. Clearly, it wouldn’t be in America’s best interest to follow such a reckless, irrational course of action. So I can only conclude that either you haven’t thought your position through very well, or blood-lust is part of your vision for America. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt.

  10. Do we need a lesson on ‘rhetorical questions’? (Hint: that was an example.)

    The purpose of the questions is this: to show that certain commentors spew an unbelievable amount of empty rhetoric that has no substance. “Stay the course” is a great example. That is a slogan. However, by asking hard questions, the intent is to demonstrate that such slogans have no content. They are not a plan, or a strategy.

    The Republicans are in charge. They control the White House and both houses of congress. As such, they are supposed to lead, by setting an agenda. To fufill that agenda, they should have a strategy. Quite frankly, the president has never had a strategy for winning in Iraq. He expected it to be a ‘cakewalk.’ Since it’s turned out to be otherwise, he’s at a complete loss. He has no plan, no strategy except to ‘stay the course.’ The only alternative, in his view, is ‘cut and run.’

    Examples of empty rhetoric.

    An example of constitutional perversion is “Unitary Executive.” Had anyone ever heard that term before the current group got into power? (Hint: another rhtetorical question, since I doubt anyone ever had.) Bush has argued that no one can question his decisions as commander-in-chief. That is a pretty clear example of constitutional perversion, especially since the const is very clear that only congress can declare war. It hasn’t, so the basis of his claims are very shaky, at best.

    As for the top secret planning session: everyone knows it happened. No one knows what happened. Cheney has adamantly refused to release any information, despite laws that say such sessions should be open to public debate. We do know that most of the people invited were from Industry; there was no public participation, no environmental groups attended.

    And let’s get a grip. Yes, Saddam & Al-Q had communicated. But you know what? We created Al-Q back int the days they were fighting the Russians. In early 2001, Colin Powell went on a official visit to the Taliban. We had more of a substantial relationship with Al-Q than Saddam did. So, please, stop pushing that theme. SH & Al-Q communicated a few times to see if their common enmity to the US would allow them to work together. All evidence points to the contrary.

    And save me the Zarqawi canard. Yes, he was operating in Iraq prior to our invasion; but he was lodged in Kurdish-controlled territory, north of the no-fly zone, which means we were allowing him to stay. There’s the story from that lefty rag the Wall Street Journal that says we had the chance to kill him prior to the invasion, but Bush decided not to because then he couldn’t claim that Al-Q was operating inside Iraq!

    OK, to contrast. Questions are asked of me. I respond to them. When I ask questions, the topic is changed and, often, personal attacks are issued.

    Oh, another example of content-free rhetoric is the claim that pugpusher’s facts are only opinions, but there was absolutely no attempt to prove the contention.

    And I have yet to see an answer to the question of how we’re supposed to pay for the war if we make the repeal of the estate tax permanent. That is not a rhetorical question. I want to know. If someone puts put forth a goal, it is incumbent upon that individual to provide a plan on how to achieve that goal. The Rep “leadership” in this country, and their supporters, are long on the slogans, but short on the substantive plans to accomplish those slogans.

  11. I don’t know why I keep responding. I must be a glutton for punishment. :) But I will finish by saying that I am interested in others’ opinions. It’s the reason I come back to read David’s posts. I don’t think I know everything as has been stated, but it’s difficult in this space to answer large numbers of questions with any significant detail. klaus asked 12 questions in post 2 alone, although I understand some, but not all, are meant to be rhetorical in nature.

    I am frustrated by those who claim opinions as “facts”. I realize that well reasoned people can differ on what the facts are, but opinion is an entirely different lot. pugpusher calls the facts “10th grade simple” but they are his opinions. Permanent state of war? loose definition of terrorism as anyone who disagrees with the administration? constrained dissent? president answers to no one and has become a dictator? These aren’t facts. They are the opinions of some…nothing wrong with opinions, but they are not facts.

    I understand that you don’t believe Saddam Hussein was a threat, that there were no WMD, that he had nothing to do with 9-11 or significant international terrorism. I disagree, but I fully accept that this is your position.

    The difference from Syria, Libya, N. Korea and the others is its invasion of Kuwait and the first Gulf War. Hear me out. Prior to this battle, the United States was aware that Hussein was actively seeking the materials and technology to develop nuclear weapons, had used chemical weapons against his own people, and was generally a menace to the region. During the battle, you may recall, he even fired missiles into Israel to instigate a regional war.

    Hussein rather quickly gave in and agreed to American demands, in a sense a surrender. He agreed to allow American and UN inspections of his country for WMD. Shortly after, Hussein stopped allowing inspections, and thumbed his nose at the agreement. Despite strong rhetoric from the Clinton Administration, Hussein refused to abide by the agreement. Then came intelligence that Iraq was attempting to purchase materials commonly used in nuclear weaponry. Both British and American intelligence agencies believed the info to be reliable.

    Now what? The further we threatened Hussein and did nothing to back it up, the further emboldened our enemies, those axis of evil countries, became. Look how utterly arrogant and unresponsive North Korea became during the 90s. The leaders lied to the face of Secretary Albright.

    Fearing Hussein was on the verge of developing weapons that would empower his regime and threaten Israel, the US and the rest of the free world, unable to continue the inspections promised after the first Iraqi defeat, and aware of Iraq’s involvement in terrorism worldwide, perhaps even 9-11, President Bush believed he had no choice but to set a deadline and continue where we left off after the first Gulf War. Hussein thought we were bluffing; he was wrong.

    While some evidence of WMD has been found, nothing significant or on a large scale. But the invasion was justified in that Hussein refused to follow the agreement. We were left to wonder, and the risks were too great.

    The true distraction is placing all blame on the US. We “created Al-Qaeda.” Let’s say we did. I don’t think that means we must ignore them or allow them to create and promote terror against the US and its allies. I’m fully aware that we provided Iraq with significant assistance some 25 or so years back. It was a different situation then; Iran was the most aggressive towards us and we shared this enemy with Iraq. With time things change. I’m sure we all regret the assistance provided to Hussein’s Iraq. Hopefully we will learn from it.

    And paying for a war? As I said before, it can be a bitter pill to swallow. If you are looking for specific budget items I can’t provide that. I am not an expert on the federal budget. Like previous wars, sacrifices must be made in most areas. And yes, tax cuts have increased revenue significantly, which helps. But the financial cost cannot stop the government from ensuring our safety. If your hot water heater begins to leak, you don’t wait to replace it until you can afford a new one, allowing your basement to fill with water. You replace it immediately, even if that means a deficit until you can pay it back. Like the Cold War, expenses will be huge, but if we can protect ourselves from the dangers of Islamofascist terrorists like we did the communists, we will be better off for it. Perhaps not as specific as you want klaus, but you got my answer.

    I look forward to any final replies, and they will be thoughtfully considered. It was fun.

  12. OK, Mike, let me ask one sincere question. You say

    …”I understand that you don’t believe Saddam Hussein was a threat, that there were no WMD, that he had nothing to do with 9-11 or significant international terrorism. I disagree…”

    Again, in all sincerity, that tells me you believe that SH was a threat, that there were WMD, and that he was related to 9/11.

    (He was involved in “international” terrorism in the sense that he sponsored Palestinian suicide bombers in Israel.)

    My question: May I ask why you believe these things? Can you point to any evidence?

    SH had WMD in the sense that he had leftovers from weapons that we provided. This is mainly limited to chemical weapons. He did not have WMD in the sense of nuclear weapons–as in Condi Rice’s famous “proof in the form of a mushroom cloud.” The admin has played very fast and loose with those varying definitions.

    And what about 9/11? Where is the evidence for that?

    Please remember that we captured Baghdad very quickly, and that much of the documentation of the Iraqi state was captured virtually intact. So far, no one has put out evidence of a connection to 9/11, and I’ve got to believe that this Admin would be trumpeting any such proof from the rooftops. Given that no such evidence has been published, why do you believe what you did?

    The evidence that has been released paints a picture of a very cagey dictator whose prime goal was to stay in power. He realized he needed his bluff (hinting about WMD), but he also realized too blatant a provocation would bring the US down on him. In short, he was effectively contained.

    Again, this is based on documents we captured. What is your evidence to the contrary?

    Thanks for your patience.

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