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Saturday, November 22, 2003

Patriotism, Iraq Policy and the War on Terror

I haven't seen the new Republican TV ads, but I've seen a lot of quoted text in the news and on various blogs.

Here's what the AP said about the ad's message:
If you're tough on President Bush, you're soft on terrorism. Denounce the Iraq war, and you're retreating from terrorists. That's the message the White House and its political allies want Americans to get from the Republican Party's first television commercial of the 2004 campaign.
Of course, those who challenge the President about the war in Iraq are not unpatriotic. Almost all support the war on terrorism, but they might disagree vehemently with the President about how it should be prosecuted.

Consider this list of "traitors" by the standards implied in this ad.

First, former President George H.W. Bush wrote this in his 1998 book:
"We should not march into Baghdad," he wrote in his 1998 book, A World Transformed.

"To occupy Iraq would instantly shatter our coalition, turning the whole Arab world against us and make a broken tyrant into a latter-day Arab hero...assigning young soldiers to a fruitless hunt for a securely entrenched dictator and condemning them to fight in what would be an unwinnable urban guerilla war.

"It could only plunge that part of the world into even greater instability."
Second, current Vice President Dick Cheney said this in 1991 interview:
I was not an enthusiast about getting U.S. forces and going into Iraq. We were there in the southern part of Iraq to the extent we needed to be there to defeat his forces and to get him out of Kuwait, but the idea of going into Baghdad, for example, or trying to topple the regime wasn't anything I was enthusiastic about. I felt there was a real danger here that you would get bogged down in a long drawn-out conflict...I think if we had done that we would have been bogged down there for a very long period of time with the real possibility we might not have succeeded..
Third, Secretary of State Colin Powell wrote this in a 1992/1993 Foreign Affairs article.
"The Gulf War was a limited-objective war. If it had not been, we would be ruling Badhdad today--at unpardonable expense in terms of money, lives lost and ruined regional relationships."
Do you think these are all too dated? How about this from on op-ed piece by Brent Scowcroft ("Don't Attack Saddam") in the August 15, 2002 Wall Street Journal? Scowcroft, by the way, served as National Security Advisor to Bush Senior and Gerald Ford. I'm picking juicy quotes from the op-ed, but you can read it yourself:
there is scant evidence to tie Saddam to terrorist organizations, and even less to the Sept. 11 attacks. Indeed Saddam's goals have little in common with the terrorists who threaten us, and there is little incentive for him to make common cause with them.

He is unlikely to risk his investment in weapons of mass destruction, much less his country, by handing such weapons to terrorists who would use them for their own purposes and leave Baghdad as the return address.

There is little evidence to indicate that the United States itself is an object of his aggression.

An attack on Iraq at this time would seriously jeopardize, if not destroy, the global counterterrorist campaign we have undertaken.

But the central point is that any campaign against Iraq, whatever the strategy, cost and risks, is certain to divert us for some indefinite period from our war on terrorism. Worse, there is a virtual consensus in the world against an attack on Iraq at this time. So long as that sentiment persists, it would require the U.S. to pursue a virtual go-it-alone strategy against Iraq, making any military operations correspondingly more difficult and expensive. The most serious cost, however, would be to the war on terrorism. Ignoring that clear sentiment would result in a serious degradation in international cooperation with us against terrorism. And make no mistake, we simply cannot win that war without enthusiastic international cooperation, especially on intelligence.

At a minimum, it would stifle any cooperation on terrorism, and could even swell the ranks of the terrorists.
One final set of quotes from former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger, who served under Bush senior. This is what he said about war in Iraq promoted by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz:
I don't think it's legitimate policy at this stage, unless the president can demonstrate to all of us that Saddam has his finger on a nuclear, biological or chemical trigger and he's about to use it.

And finally, it doesn't seem to me that we've thought through at all what we do when we overthrow him. Are we going to stay there for the next six years?

I don't understand why this rush to judgment to do it right now when we have no demonstrated reasons for doing it right now. So I'm kind of -- I lean toward Scowcroft unless the president can prove to me that there is an immediate reason to do it now.

I must tell you, I think they're devious. And I think they have had for some time this view that this is a -- well, first of all, I think they are committed to getting rid of -- and have been for years -- committed to getting rid of Saddam Hussein because they think we should have done it the first time around.

I am scared to death that they are going to convince the president that they can do this overthrow of Saddam on the cheap, and we'll find ourselves in the middle of a swamp because we didn't plan to do it in the right way.

[T]here are a level of questions that remain. For example, what -- who replaces him? Do we have to stay there and occupy Iraq? If that's the case, it would not be a better place.

I mean, I can tell you right now if the new regime that follows Saddam is perceived by the Iraqis to have been put in place by the United States, it will have a half-life of about 10 minutes...
This, by the way, was from an interview by Fox News, August 19, 2002.

People need to complain, LOUDLY and OFTEN, about this Republican ad's message.

Update: I added a couple of missing links and posted this to daily kos . People who want to comment can do so there.

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