Monday, January 17, 2005

WMDs? so what.

Bush abandons WMD search?


THE PRESENCE OF WMD’S WAS NOT A REASON TO INVADE. Even if Saddam had tons of nerve agent sitting around, it was NOT a good reason to invade? Why? Because I’m a weak-kneed pacifist? No. Because invading Iraq was bound to HARM our national security even if he had tons of WMDs laying around.

Forgive me for shouting, but few people on either side of the political spectrum seem to even ask the right questions about WMDs, much less give the right answers. So here is my try:

THE THREAT OF SWLD

WMD's – “Weapons of Mass Destruction” is a terribly inaccurate way to describe chemical or biological or radiological weapons. Only one type of weapon deserves such a scary name – nuclear weapons. And we KNEW Saddam didn’t have them and wasn’t on the way to getting them, which I will discuss below. So WMD should be replaced by a more accurate term, such as SWLD - "Sucky Weapons of Little Destruction." That would be more accurate.

Here is why:

CHEMICAL WEAPONS ARE NOT VERY GOOD WEAPONS.

Chemical weapons are World War One technology. All armies came to the conclusion during WWI that chemical weapons sucked, and stopped using them. In WWII Hitler had a large inventory and didn't use them. Because he was a nice guy? I doubt it. Because he was terrified of our response? Of course not. Japan at first used both chemical and biological weapons on China, but found, like everybody else, that they suck. And Japan put a lot of vital resources into developing chemical and biological weapons, but after much effort came up with nothing. The United States COULD have put a lot of resources into chemical or biological weapons research during WWII, but our government wisely followed the advice of scientists and military experts who told them chemical and biological weapons suck, and instead developed the first WMD – the atomic bomb. It is still the only type of weapon that is a WMD. Chemical and biological weapons should never be described that way. The only reason to do so is to scare people.

CHEMICAL WEAPONS ARE NOT VERY EFFECTIVE AT KILLING, AND ONLY EFFECTIVE AT “TERROR” IF PEOPLE REMAIN IGNORANT

Boo. Did I scare you? No? Well how about this? WMD. Stop crying, I was just kidding. I promise I won't use that term again to try and scare you. Too scary.

How about this instead: “Nerve gas.” “Blood agent.” “Blister agent.” “Mustard Gas.” “Sarin.” “DX or DN or VX” and on and on and on.

Are you scared? Don’t be. The government should tell you this, but they seem to have a vested interest in fear. I don’t. Read on.

MUSTARD GAS SITED IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD!

you are often exposed to WMDs without ill effect. Any country that can make chlorine for swimming pools has a "WMD program” and could make mustard gas (lots of it) almost immediately if it chose to do so. And LOTS of countries can and do make industrial chemicals like chlorine or bleach. High school chemistry labs often are equipped with the makings of deadly chemical weapons. But you don’t see the Dept. of Homeland Security worrying about them, so neither should you. If you still don’t believe me please read on.

NERVE AGENT IS EVERYWHERE

If you have a can of RAID under your sink or in your garage - you are in possession of deadly nerve agent. Not much of a threat – unless, of course, George W. Bush launches a pre-emptive invasion of your kitchen because of the “lessons of September Eleventh.” Deadly and destructive industrial chemicals and gases such as hydrogen sulfide and hydrogen selenide travel our freeways every day – possibly right by your house TONIGHT. That is a WMD. It can easily be “weaponized” by terrorists. So why don’t they do it (or, if you think they will, why don’t we secure all that stuff as we sought to do with the non-existent WMDs in Iraq?)

SO WHAT?

Conventional weapons are much more effective at killing people than the “WMDs” I just mentioned. Conventional weapons such as gunpowder, dynamite, or a fertilizer bomb are also easier for terrorists to acquire. Well, actually, chemical weapons are sometimes much easier to acquire, but still those who might acquire them usually know that dynamite will cause more damage and is much easier to use.

Chemical weapons are not as terribly destructive and all-powerful as you probably thought. But would I want to be caught in a cloud of mustard gas? Hell no. Still, I don’t think I would be any better off being blown up by TNT or any other conventional explosive. And my chances of survival would be much higher if terrorists foolishly believe what most Americans seem to believe – that chemical or biological weapons can cause “mass destruction” on a grander scale than conventional weapons. Well, technically, they can. But so can gunpowder, or, if you think about it, 19 evil men with nothing more than boxcutter Exacto-knives.

Even Saddam stopped using chemical weapons against Iran during that war - because he found, like every other military force in the world already knew, that they suck. His infamous attack on the Kurds with chemical weapons doesn't look so scary if you consider that the same number of HE artillery shells would have killed as many, and conventional air-strikes more, and a fuel-air explosive device even more, so chemical weapons were actually less destructive than many, many other things he might have used. Plus, civilians have little defense against hot shrapnel or firestorms unless they live in bunkers, but a simple gas mask can protect civilian populations in the event some group is stupid enough to begin chemical attacks. You just carry one around – as the British civilians in London did during WWII. But as I said, even Hitler didn’t use them because they are so ineffective.

BUT WHAT IF SADDAM SHARED WITH THE TERRORISTS?

Ahh, but you say “military use is one thing, but in the hands of terrorists…” Let’s pretend that there was some connection between Saddam’s Iraq and terrorists that pose a threat to the United States (there isn’t, and wasn’t, and it was well-known there wasn’t, and it was well known that groups like Al Queda hated secular rulers like Saddam as much or more than they hate us – but pretend anyway). We HAD to invade because otherwise Saddam would have provided WMDs to Osama and company, right? Right?

Wrong. Because even if he DID share his WMDs with Osama, there was no threat to the United States – or, indeed, to Kuwait. At least no larger threat than there was if we knew for sure what turned out to be true – that there were no WMDs. But, for the sake of argument, assume some terrorists got their nasty hands on nerve agent.

So what.

In the hands of terrorists chemical weapons are no more effective than in military hands. The Japanese cult “Aum Shiriko” terrorists spent over a decade and millions of dollars to engineer the most sophisticated and deadly terrorist chemical weapon attack in history, with delivery devices at least as good as any in Saddam's inventory. They placed deadly Sarin nerve agent dispensers at numerous locations throughout the Tokyo subway system. Sarin is about as nasty as chemical weapons get. It’s nasty. And the Aum Shiriko had a LOT of Sarin.

Result: 19 dead, a few hundred hospitalized, and the trains were up and running again in a short time. Contrast this with Madrid. 191 dead, hundreds more wounded, and the rail system suffered extensive damage. Yes, it is true, I prefer terrorists to try chemical attacks - they will do less damage, and we will all be safer. But call them "WMD"s and they scare the heck out of people. “A car bomb killed 19 people in Iraq!” “So. What’s for lunch?” “Terrorists may have nerve agent!” “Oh my God, head for the shelter!!!!!

DEATH MATH

Then there is the "death math." Hysterical pundits proclaim "one drop of nerve agent can wipe out 1,000 people" or "NYC" or "the Western hemisphere." It's BS of course. Using their math, the Aum Shiriko attack should have killed thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of people. It killed 19, with no major infrastructure damage. Tim McVeigh killed a lot more than that, and destroyed a federal building, with a bomb made out of fertilizer. Don't you wish he had tried chemical weapons instead? Fewer Americans would have died in Oklahoma City.

Using the same kind of rules that pundits use to calculate the deadly effects of chemical weapons, 10 lbs of gunpowder can kill thousands of people. It just has to be delivered the right way - a few grains of powder at a time, just enough to propel a fatal bullet in the head. Of course we don't call gunpowder a WMD, even though more people have died because of it than will ever die from chemical weapons.

BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS ARE EVEN LESS SCARY THAN CHEMICAL ONES

Then there are biological weapons - a true BS bogeyman story. We have had bio warfare since the first time a well was deliberately poisoned, probably in Ur thousands of years ago. And the anthrax attacks? How many died in the deadliest biological weapons attack in US history? Five. The Unabomber killed 3 by himself, and he injured many more. 223 died in the embassy attacks in Africa. A Navy warship (USS Cole) was almost sunk by conventional explosives on a rubber boat that pulled up alongside. So what do we freak about?

Anthrax.

More people died from unbuckled seat belts yesterday than have died in the worst bio attack in history. Yet as reputable a source as the BBC reports that an anthrax attack on a major us city could kill 123,000 people, basing it on a missile containing 1 KG of antrhax spores. Sure, if the spores somehow were able to distribute themselves equally over the entire city, so that every human in the city inhaled enough to become infected, and no spores died from the heat of the blast, or that killer of anthrax spores, sunlight. Perhaps the terrorists could hire Fedex and UPS to hand-deliver the spores, they would stand a better chance. Oh, and the US anthrax "terror" was from a US strain developed by our government, not from any “rogue” regime.

NUCLEAR WEAPONS – OK, I’M SCARED.

Then there is nuclear - yes, that is the only one deserving of WMD status. Truly terrifying. No, not the "dirty bomb" that would freak people out (but probably kill less than anthrax.) Dirty bombs use things like medical waste and the like to scatter radiation. Again, it would kill and be destructive, but conventional explosives could do much more damage. No, not a dirty bomb. I mean the terrible atomic bomb. A terrorist could smuggle a crude nuclear weapon into a major American city in a variety of ways. In a truck, the back of a van, or in a boat just as large drug shipments are smuggled. Even more likely, they just ship it in a shipping container. Imagine if one went off in the Port of Los Angeles/Long Beach: hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, dead, and the economic impact from the LA port shutting down would be devastating. Nuclear weapons are REALLY weapons of mass destruction.

So what do we worry about? Not nuclear. Pakistan, an unstable nation with MANY Islamic terrorists and “Madrasa” schools that teach young boys to grow up and kill Americans and Jews, develops nuclear bombs. Our response? We are ok with that. Gen. Musharif is a “key ally in the war on terror.” India gets it too. Cool, we don’t care. Pakistan's chief nuclear scientist admits selling atomic secrets to Libya (and probably others) and Pakistan punishes him by, uhh, by... they called him a hero and forgave him. We were ok with that too. After all, as I said, Gen. Musharif is a “key ally.” Iran works toward one, and we grumble a little. And North Korea works on one (the nation most likely to sell completed weapons to terrorists, or use one against us themselves) and what do we do? Invade Iraq of course. Because if we don't WMDs will kill us all, right?.

CONCLUSION

So, yes, no WMDs were found and Bush has finally given up (AFTER the election of course.) But he actually told the truth recently when he said that WMDs didn't matter when deciding if the invasion of Iraq was a good idea. And he is right. Because even if we had found tons of nerve agent or anthrax AND proof that he was giving it away free to terrorists THERE WAS STILL NO THREAT FROM SADDAM. He presented less of a threat to us in March of 2003 than he did in 2000, or 1995, or 1992, or 1988. He grew weaker every year since the first Gulf War, and was weaker the day we invaded than he was the minute Schwarzkopf stopped the advance in '91. If we did have a good reason to invade, it sure as heck wasn’t WMDs or any “threat” Saddam posed to us.

WMDs? How about LMDs. Lies of Mass Destruction. And most of America bought it, and still buys it. Bush knew better at the time, because hell, I did. It was well-known in professional military and national security circles that WMDs in Iraq presented little to no threat to us. But nobody addressed the issue of whether "WMDs" were truly a threat, just the issue of whether Saddam had them or not. And they still don't.

How about “W” of Mass Destruction. George W.

Talk about terrifying and dangerous to the USA...

Links on the subject:

http://armchairgeneralist.typepad.com/my_weblog/2005/01/hollywood_needs.html

http://www.bt.cdc.gov/agent/smallpox/disease/movies.asp

http://www.strategypage.com/dls/articles/2004113.asp

http://www.terrorismanswers.org/weapons/sarin.html

18 comments:

honestpartisan said...

I've been enjoying your posts for some time now. Thanks for the interesting, substantive information.

When we see pictures of Halabja after the chemical attacks in 1988, it looks like something you'd see after a genocide, with horrendous piles of bodies. Am I just reacting to strategic footage? Were those people killed by other means? What's going on, if you know?

this we'll defend said...

Yes, those poor people were massacred by chemical weapons, not by other means.

Estimates of casualties range from several hundred to 7,000 people.

But, and I don't mean to be insensitive, this is an examle of how hard it is to attack effectively with chemical weapons.

The TerrorismCentral (http://www.terrorismcentral.com) website states, "The poison gas attack on the Iraqi town of Halabja was the largest-scale chemical weapons (CW) attack against a civilian population in modern times. ...The CW attack began early in the evening of March 16th, when a group of eight aircraft began dropping chemical bombs, and the chemical bombardment continued all night. ... The Halabja attack involved multiple chemical agents, including mustard gas, and the nerve agents sarin, tabun and VX."

If aircraft and artillery bombardment had dropped napalm and high explosives and incendiaries on the village for hours instead the death toll would have been at least as high, and it would have been less expensive and difficult (and dangerous) for those attacking the innocent Kurds.

Chemical weapons are weapons, and they kill. They just aren't "WMDs," as shown by an attack involving bombs and artillery that, despite repeated attacks on a defenseless village that continued for hours and hours, killed just several hundred to 7,000 people. The death toll is terrible, but not WMD terrible. And the figure of "7,000" is generally unsupported by any evidence, wth the actual toll likely less than 1,000. The CIA report on Iraqi WMDs, which was produced to support the administration's desire to invade Iraq, nevertheless still lists "hundreds" as the death toll in Halabja. See http://www.cia.gov/cia/reports/iraq_wmd/Iraq_Oct_2002.htm#05

vrangel said...

Kinda sad seeing otherwise smart TWD falling for shallow left drivel over and over again.

Here is the real deal. Terrorists exist and operate in a society sympathetic to their cause. I am talking about all levels of society, high and low. After Afghanistan and then Iraq were taken informal orders and advice from above and below became this: don't attack US or Bush will take over us.

In the ME they also happen to be inside police states. The word went out: don't attack US or we'll cut your heads off (and your families as well). If you wanna fight go to Iraq, but not to US.

Bottom line: America is safe through intimidation. Takeover of Iraq also said to ME regimes: don't count on covering tracks if something happens in the US. We will convict you on trumped up charges if necessary.

As a result we are safe as never before. There were no attacks on US soil after 9/11 even though it would be very easy. Someone goes to the mall or movie theatre and blows himself up. Never happened. Care to explain why ? Intimidation by proxie, that's why.

And all that time clueless and intellectually pathetic left cries: we are less safe! And good old TWD keeps falling for it. Stop reading NYT/Pravda crap, there are no truely smart people left there. Brain drain, you know.

As for strategy of transforming ME and how Iraq fits into it, I posted a lot about it. You can refresh you memory from archives.

vrangel said...

On a bright side you link to decent sources this time.
And yes, WMD was not a reason to invade.

this we'll defend said...

Vrangel says:

Kinda sad seeing otherwise smart TWD falling for shallow left drivel over and over again.

I say: the capabilities and characteristics of chemical and biological weapons is a matter of fact, not political affiliation. That Vrangel attacks my post because it is "shallow left drivel" just proves the post above this one to be accurate - "Bush's supporters demand lock-step consensus that Bush is right. They regard truthful reports that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction and was not involved in the September 11 attack on the US--truths now firmly established by the Bush administration's own reports--as treasonous America-bashing."

Thus the physical properties of nerve agent that make it difficult to use is transformed into "left" propaganda.

If the radical right is so sure they are correct, then why are they so opposed to truth and facts?

Vrangel says:

Here is the real deal. Terrorists exist and operate in a society sympathetic to their cause. I am talking about all levels of society, high and low.

I say: terrorists operate here in the US as well - and not just Islamic terrorists (how quickly the right forgets Oklahoma City, or the "Symbionese Liberation Army") and we surely are not a society sympathetic to their cause. It is easy to make such accusations about other societies if you know very little about them. Since Vrangel is from Russia, perhaps he could explain why the Russians are so sympathetic to the Chechen terrorists who kill schoolchildren or theater patrons or that blow up apartment buildings. OR...or...or the fact is that terrorism is the tool of the weak, because if they had more support they wouldn't resort to terrorism. But, again, what this has to do with the lack of "mass destruction" in chemical weapons. But, of course, the radical right is very good at answering questions they WISHED had been asked, and ignoring reality.

Vrangel says:
After Afghanistan and then Iraq were taken informal orders and advice from above and below became this: don't attack US or Bush will take over us.

I say:
It is sad to see how desperately the radical right scrambles to find a justification for the invasion of Iraq without actually admitting that the reasons given by Bush were false. As a member of the reality-based community I don't confuse Afghanistan with Iraq, and fully support our campaign against the Taliban and Al Queda. That had nothing to do with Iraq. Finally, the notion that invading Iraq has frightened potential zealots wiling to be suicide bombers away from attacking us is patently ridiculous. It clearly created more of them. There also no evidence that any "word" went out to not attack the US, but there is clear proof that long before 9/11 governments like Saudi Arabia's, Egypt's, and IRAQ's considered Al Queda and the like to be enemies, and actively campaigned against them. However, our "ally in the war on Terror" Pakistan has actively encouraged the Taliban, and many Taliban and Al Queda elements make cross-border raids into Afghanistan and retreat into Pakistan for safety. Thus the "fact" that Vrangel provides here is mere wishful thinking, and goes against the weight of evidence. Plus, it has nothing to to with WMDs.

Vrangel says:
In the ME they also happen to be inside police states. The word went out: don't attack US or we'll cut your heads off (and your families as well). If you wanna fight go to Iraq, but not to US.

I say: see my reply in my paragraph above. It also ignores the fact that, if the Bush administration is to be believed, there has been no let-up in attempts to attack us here in the US, including the "Buffalo Six" and the "dirty-bomber" Joseph Padilla, plus the shoe bomber on a US-bound airliner. My guess is that invading Iraq did make it much easier to kill Americans without having to travel too far from home, but it is doubtful that it reduced attacks here at home one bit - it fact, it appears to have super-charged terrorist recruiting and weakened those in the Islamic world fighting against the forces of fundamentalism (I know how they feel).

Vrangel says:
Bottom line: America is safe through intimidation. Takeover of Iraq also said to ME regimes: don't count on covering tracks if something happens in the US. We will convict you on trumped up charges if necessary.

I say:
We don't appear to be very safe, with the Army overstretched and North Korea and Iran aware that we are tied down. Any "intimidation" that we might have used to protect ourselves is gone as all (except perhaps Vrangel) can see we are fully committed and unable to undertake significant military action anywhere else. Oh, and in the "triumph of democracy" that the invasion of Iraq supposedly was supposed to represent, I am not surprise to see a Bush supported finding the use of trumped-up charges a good thing. Plus, again, this has nothing to do with WMDs.

Vrangel says:
As a result we are safe as never before. There were no attacks on US soil after 9/11 even though it would be very easy. Someone goes to the mall or movie theatre and blows himself up. Never happened. Care to explain why ? Intimidation by proxie, that's why.

I say:
Care to explain why we weren't attacked here at home from '93 to '01? Perhaps Clinton was intimidating by proxy? No. Our Islamic Fundamentalist enemies aren't deterred by our invasion of Iraq because only other nation-states are deterrable by such invasions, and our enemies are state-less actors. Plus - Saddam was an enemy of Islamic Fundamentalists, so they welcomed his overthrow while at the same time LOVE the anger it engendered in the Islamic world. Our invasion has not made us safer, but Vrangel likes thining that it does despite having no evidence to support such a bold and counter-intuitive claim. Otherwise he and Bush might be wrong in their "gut"-based decision to invade Iraq, and obviously that can't be the case, right? Oh, and it doesn't have anything to do with WMDs.

Vrangel says:
And all that time clueless and intellectually pathetic left cries: we are less safe! And good old TWD keeps falling for it. Stop reading NYT/Pravda crap, there are no truely smart people left there. Brain drain, you know.

I say: I think it is amazing that Vrangel (and most of the radical extremist right) has the gall to accuse the left of "falling" for "left" propaganda the very week Bush officially admitted what everybody already knows - that the "incontrovertible" proof of which there could be "no doubt" was wrong, and there were no WMDs in Iraq. Plus, if I changed my mind and became a raging Bush-supporting extremist, would that somehow change the physical characteristics of nerve agents? Of course not. And it doesn't have anything to do with WMDs.

Vrangel says:
As for strategy of transforming ME and how Iraq fits into it, I posted a lot about it. You can refresh you memory from archives.

I say:
I won't dignify the Bush administration's "gut" decisions as "strategy." Strategy involves thought. Plus, even if the Bush team's "strategy" was to transform the entire ME (what Ms. Rice has called a "generational committment") the administration didn't make that the pretext for the war until after the invasion, so this is an inadvertent admission that we were lied to. Before making a "generational committment" the People might have wanted to know about it, but this administration doesn't think so. Read the post above this one entitled "the Brownshirting of America" to find out why. But even if I am wrong about the grandly misnamed "strategy" it has nothing to do with WMDs.

Stop drinking the Kool-aid, Vrangel.

vrangel said...

I lumped my reaction to both your posts. Sorry, your WMD post is quite decent.

Nice court rebuttal but it's just words. Show me some suicide bombers as evidence.

My understanding is that you blame absense of attacks on Ashcroft. I disagree.

And don't even mention Russians, their brains are #*%#$^& up. I hope myself is an exception but you never know. :)

vrangel said...

I doubt I will qualify as a right-wing extremist. For example I am 100% atheist. I believe that all that is ME is just an electrical activity of my brain. When it stops I will cease to exist and worms will eat my body.
And that will be the end of me.

Of course everyone else who visits this blog will go to heaven but that's another story. :)

this we'll defend said...

Of COURSE readers of this blog will go to heaven. But you know what Mark Twain said? "For heaven I prefer the climate, but for hell I prefer the company."

No, I don't blame the absence of attacks on Asscroft. I also note that despite hundreds of public announcements by him or his deputies about terrorist arrests, there has been an apalling lack of convictions - not because of a broken justice system, but because most of those arrested turn out to be innocent.

I don't think there was any "reason" for the absence of attacks because we have been under attack by Islamic fundamentalists since at least the OPEC oil embargo of 1973. The lack of attacks against us from 1993-01 was due to the same reasons for the lack of attacks on our soil since 9/11: 1) we caught terrorists before they could complete the attack (including the "millenium plot" prior to 9/11, and the "dirty bomber" afterwards); and 2) they didn't attack because they were either preparing to do so or attacking somewhere else. Remember, terrorism is NOT new, it just was highly visible on 9/11. It was also highly visible when the rage was hijacking planes to Cuba in the '70s (or in 1972 at the Munich Olympics). It was highly visible when the Achille Lauro was hijacked and a disabled American in a wheelchair was tossed overboard. It was highly visible when a navy diver was beaten to death when his plane was hijacked. But it was the most visible on 9/11. That does not mean the frequency of attempts has decreased since 9/11. They haven't, and I can provide the suicide bombers you call for: in Iraq. To say "well, we invaded so we are safer because there have been no attacks here" is to ignore the large number of US casualties - not just the military dead, but the wounded, the contractors, the foreign nationals, and yes, the Iraqi victims themselves. And meanwhile we are just as vulnerable here at home, but there is a LOT more support for Islamic fundamentalists than there was on 9/11, and there is a LOT less support for us than there was on 9/11. Those are simple facts, not "spin."

In short, to point to the absence of attacks as vindication is simplistic and wrong. It would have made as much sense for Clinton to point to his Lewinskying as a cause for no terrorist attacks - and he could show that there were no attacks from '93 to '01 within the US to back up his claim. Perhaps Monica was "blowing them" all away?

vrangel said...

Yeah, terrorist threat is overrated, said a front page headline in one major european newspaper on a day of Madrid bombing.

My "simplistic" (see Occam's Razor) explanation works both ways.
Democratic, free and prosperous Iraq is a mortal danger for both ME ruling classes and terrorist jihadis. If Iraq succeeds people in ME will demand change. Mowing them down with machine guns is not an option these days with neocons in the White House and US infantry divisions next door.
Of course they encourage suicide bombers to go to Iraq and make it a bloody mess to giscourage their own people from demanding change.

And still,none of those bombers showed up in the US. Not even one. You dismiss it out of hand and that's ,I think, is simplistic.

this we'll defend said...

The Madrid bombing didn't mean that terrorism isn't overrated. Not one bit.

The interesting thing about Bush supporters is that there is NO way for them to change their minds. If Iraq is pacified and stabilized (and I hope to God that happens) then Bush is a hero. If it goes to hell, well, that will be because the dems/ACLU/France/anybody who didn't drink the kool-aid prevented Bush from succeeding. If there are no terrorist attacks between now and 2008 then Bush's misnamed "war on terror" will be proved successful in their minds, and if there is an attack then they will say "see, we were right all along - there IS a terrorist threat."

So here goes my vain attempt at sanity: Yes, there is a terrorist threat. Yes, it is over-rated. That does NOT mean it isn't a huge issue, or even that I myself won't die in a terror attack. It means THERE WAS NO REASON TO INVADE IRAQ. And, it means that the "war on terror" is being poorly planned and executed because the majority of our resources were diverted (and remain diverted) to a mission that had nothing whatsoever to do with the "war on terror." It does now, of course, because it has encouraged terrorism and attacks on American forces in Iraq - which, ironically, Bush supporters see as vindication of their imaginary connection between Iraq and the "war on terror." This despite the fact that critics of the invasion (including me) warned that invading Iraq would supercharge terrorist recruiting, harm international cooperation efforts to combat terrorism, and divert precious military resources from the fight against Islamic fundamentalist terrorists. So, ironically, the critics of Bush have been proven consistently right, and yet Bush supporters feel vindicated.

Finally, the notion that the war in Iraq is one between the US forces and "forin terrrsts" {foreign terrorists if you don't speak Bush) is false, but persists in radical right circles (including our radical extremist president). It simply isn't true. Yes, there are "furriners" attacking US forces, but the vast majority are Iraqis, and even if they weren't, the Iraqis aren't turning in the "furriners." An Iraqi can quickly detect the accent of a Saudi, Jordanian, Pakistani, Egyptian (did I leave any "allies in the war on terror" out?) or Syrian. Yet they don't seem to be turning them in, do they? In any case, the Army has clearly put paid the notion that "furriners" are the backbone of the insurgency.

Your Occam's Razor is that we will transform a nation that has never known democracy, and has endured decades of colonialism at Western hands, into a shining beacon of democracy. This will lead oppressed peoples throughout the middle east to demand change, and democracy will be installed in regime after regime, all of which will love America. We will do this by killing many Iraqis, not speaking the Arabic language, not having the same religion, and ensuring through inept diplomatic missteps that we have few allies in this effort. Oh, and the people calling for democracy in totalitarian regimes will lead to more stability.

Seems a bit of a Gordian knot to me, especially when compared to the previous situation: a weakening Saddam that presented no threat, and that took few resources to contain.

Perhaps Vrangel and other Bushites don't know that in a democracy the candidate you want to win doesn't always win. Of course democrats know that, but so do supporters of Algerian democracy. Do a google on Algeria and read up on what can happen when you install democracy in an Islamic nation that has never known it before.

lonelyshade said...

Well formulated and spoken TWD.

"Those who desire to give up freedom in order to gain security, will not have, nor do they deserve, either one."

-- Thomas Jefferson --

The Meddler said...

I really enjoyed your post on WMDs. It had a lot of good points. One thing people might want to consider is the state department's statistics on international terrorism. Its worth having a read and drawing your own conclusions. But this is the internet so I will opine.

It is interesting to note that when the Bush administration originally published the report on international terrorism for 2003 they originally published the following in the annual review.

There were 190 acts of international terrorism in 2003, a slight decrease from the 198 attacks that occurred in 2002, and a drop of 45 percent from the level in 2001 of 346 attacks. The figure in 2003 represents the lowest annual total of international terrorist attacks since 1969.

A total of 307 persons were killed in the attacks of 2003, far fewer than the 725 killed during 2002. A total of 1,593 persons were wounded in the attacks that occurred in 2003, down from 2,013 persons wounded the year before. http://www.state.gov/s/ct/rls/pgtrpt/2003/31569.htm
This seemed to suggest that the war on Iraq may have reduced global terrorism.

Unfortunately people who were compiling their own statistics noticed a discrepancy and blew the whistle.

Colin Powell admitted that they had indeed made a mistake[1] and that in fact international terrorism had slightly increased. But of course the retraction wasn't as widely reported as the original figures.

The actual figures painted a starker picture.

There were 208 acts of international terrorism in 2003, a slight increase from the most recently published figure of 198* attacks in 2002, and a 42 percent drop from the level in 2001 of 355 attacks.

A total of 625 persons were killed in the attacks of 2003, fewer than the 725 killed during 2002. A total of 3646 persons were wounded in the attacks that occurred in 2003, a sharp increase from 2013 persons wounded the year before. This increase reflects the numerous indiscriminate attacks during 2003 on “soft targets,” such as places of worship, hotels, and commercial districts, intended to produce mass casualties. http://www.state.gov/s/ct/rls/pgtrpt/2003/33771.htm
These figures are still very low compared to previous years, perhaps not even statistically significant when compared to 2002, but don't forget that attacks on US military personel are not counted in the statistics and Iraq is drawing a considerable amount of fire.

Of you look at the back of the report you'll see a graph of attacks since 1982. You will see that 2002 had the lowest number of international terrorist attacks since 1982

So when the United States went to war in Iraq international terrorism was actually at its lowest level. If I were to make a prediction about the report for 2004 it would be that levels of international terrorism will not have increased significantly as terrorist resources are diverted to Iraq.

[1] Ie it was a pack of lies

vrangel said...

TWD said:

THERE WAS NO REASON TO INVADE IRAQ

In caps, no less.

I thought I pointed to such a reason when I was talking about intimidation by proxie. You can dismiss it all you want but there were no ATTEMPS of terrorist attack on US soil ever since.

Even though we invaded the heart of the arab world, killed perhaps tens of thousands of arabs (at least that's what they believe) and then there was Abu Graib, Faloudja etc.

Presumably after all that they would REALLY want to blow themselves up in some US shopping mall. And it's so easy, no searches or anything, huge crowds... But no, they aren't even trying.

So here is the reason for you in caps : TO INTIMIDATE THE ENEMY INTO AVOIDING US SOIL. You attack, we will take over another ME country of our choice. If you covered your tracks we will come up with some WMD excuse.

Had there been a terrorist attack on US soil since Iraq Bush wouldn't be President today. Strategy worked and dems are still clueless about it, eheheh...

Now about limitations of this strategy. There are countries we cannot invade/invaded already. For the last couple of days I hear in the news that a group of perhaps 14 Chinese (probably from moslem western China) and 2 Iraqi terrorists sneaked into US. Administration knows that these guys CAN attack. We won't take over China if they do. That's why administration disseminated information and ringing alarm.

So enemy seems to be working around their intimidation problem. If they strike I would blame Bush for not doing anything to secure our borders in anticipation of enemy's next move.

lonelyshade said...

Right Vrangel ,

How about this point , Condoleece Rice new plan .
We will fight Tyrranny now .
Iran,North Korea, Zimbabwe,Birma and Belarussia .

Where does the terrorist part comes in those 6 country .
So can i ask you Vrangel, who is the enemy today ??
Who is the enemy tommorow ?? , and who is the enemy in the future ??

Now since you do love war , i can imagine the new MTV , Counterstrike , Ghost Recon generation , are more in love with war then reality .

But define the list of potential Enemies .
That in your mind is a threat to America .

vrangel said...

I am from Belarus (Belorussia).
What do you know....

lonelyshade said...

Maybe it isn´t so bad anymore since you left it ??

Let me tell you a small tale.

While living in West ,They say China is bad
Communist, old fashioned , People there are just mindcontrolled.
Have no freedom of speech , or right to critise government .

Now i visited it 6 years ago , before China was common
news on the television , and people gotten a totally new picture of it .

So they don´t have the right to mass critise Government.
They do have a massive Media Censor , but the government wasn´t as evil as the west potraiys it.

Policeman are still not armed with nightstick or gun.
The people still express there feelings at night in street gathering , yes they just put chairs out and sell food and drink , and just discuss things.
Or in pubs or in public places or on chinese internet sites.
Without a Gestapo coming to your door ,saying you are a revolutionaire.
The students still want high grades for there
university , not just pass it .

Slowly they are getting more and more democratic and gaining more and more freedom.
Why with each passing generation , the bars get lifted a bit higher .
Now thats what true Democratie is about .
Its people doing it , not some goverment coming in and saying now you are democratic .

So if you came from Belorussia , you saying its like a old communist story ??
Its not slowly evolving .

BadTux said...

I have one correction to make to your post. While it is true that organophosphate nerve agents are basically just more powerful versions of common organophosphate pesticides such as malathion (thus why common pesticides kept tripping the "nerve agent" strips carried by troops in Iraq, leading to many breathless Faux News announcements of "weapons of mass destruction found!), RAID has been reformulated such that it no longer contains any organophosphate pesticides. Rather, it contains permethrin (which is both a repellant and a poison) for fast knock-down, and a flourinated invertebrate nerve inhibitor called 'fipronil' (basically the Advantage stuff you put on your cat or dog to kill fleas) to destroy the nest when ants or roaches not killed by the pyrethroid manage to make it back to the nest.

The permethrin is somewhat dangerous but is not an organophosphate, it is a derivative of marigolds, artificially reproduced. The fipronil is a flourine-based rather than phosphate-based compound and is utterly harmless to mammals since it acts by replacing a chlorine atom with a flourine atom in the nerve tract of an invertebrate, thus interfering with the passage of chlorine atoms through the GABA receptor, which mammals do not possess. Indeed, exterminators regularly apply it as "Premise" ant or roach or termite treatment while wearing no protective gear at all, unlike more poisonous pesticides which require protective clothing and respirators, and it is label-certified as such.

That said, your general point is clear. chemical weapons are only useful in battlefield conditions if a) deployed in massive quantities, AND b) as part of trench warfare. The United States Army does not do trench warfare. Chemical weapons simply aren't useful against a modern highly-mobile army, by the time you concentrate your chemical weapons artillery on a point, either your artillery has been destroyed by air power, said army is already overruning your artillery, or said army is already moved on and you're pounding empty desert. This is what happened in Gulf War I, Saddam's chemical weapons artillery was absolutely useless, it was either destroyed by air power or so swiftly overrun that the gunners never had a chance to fire a shell.

The worst chemical weapons terrorist attack in history, the Sarin attacks in the Tokyo subways, killed or disabled less than two dozen people. Timothy McVeigh managed to kill over 200 people using nothing more than fertilizer, diesel fuel, and an alarm clock. Truck bombs, not chemical weapons, are what would be giving me the willies if I were in the anti-terrorism business. Truck bombs kill hundreds, chemical weapons kill dozens, and that only under ideal conditions such as in a subway.

- Badtux the Realist Penguin

1138 said...

Day late but not a dollar short.
I'd like to add this to what vrangel said about attacks in the US.
There have been 4 terrorist attacks in the United States since July 2004. Vrangel just chooses to overlook them, or chooses to not know about them.

Now in July of 2005 just 6 months after he wrote his words about Iraq making us safer (and I would extrapoliate that to our Allies being safer as well) we have the mess from domestic terrorism in London.

Invading Iraq didn't make anyone safer and the evidence to prove it grows daily.
It's not political to decry stupidity.
And an athiest can still be an ultra right conservative.

Excesses of Religion only makes people easier to manipulate, but the direction they can be manipulated in is not exclusively 'right wing', it just seems that rightwing regimes are more likely to take advantage of the follow the leader aspects of religion.