92%: Percentage of Iraq's urb...,
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It's always fun to see the Fin...,
"It is like being betrayed and bitten by a pet dog you trusted.":
One almost feels sorry for the politicians who have been bet up the river and have lost the pot, only they don't seem to realize the game is over. It's now being blamed on an "intelligence failure", a la David Kay, that "Everyone believed that (Iraq) had WMD."
The best he can do is argue that we went to war based on statements of faith, highly apropos for an administration of religious zealots. The common claim - rewriting history is a recurring theme here - is that the CIA, European intelligence services, and the UN all agreed that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and that pre-war intelligence from these sources supported the US administration's numerous and unequivocal claims that Iraq poised an imminent threat justifying a pre-emptive war.
First of all one should point out the administration's credibility gap on the threat, in the 2003 SOTU this same President Bush argued that "Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent", acknowledging that the threat was not imminent, something repeatedly contradicted by the administration's own statements:
"Saddam Hussein is no longer a threat to the United States because we removed him, but he was a threat...He was a threat. He's not a threat now."
"This is about imminent threat."
- White House spokesman Scott McClellan, 2/10/03
That imminent threat was not poised and that war was thereby not justifiable on the basis of national defense was indeed the case put forth by many who opposed the war, because intelligence services - from the CIA, the DOE, the DIA, State Department, Air Force, UNMOVIC, and the IAEA - had made it very clear that the threat was not imminent, that long-term containment was an effective solution for preventing any future weapons development, and in particular that the only truly credible threat that Iraq could poise to the United States and its allies in the region was nuclear weapons - which Iraq most unequivocally did not have. Unless of course one paid attention only to the Pentagon's 2 year old defector and Israeli dependent Office of Special Plans (also known as the New Straussian School of Strategic Cherrypickers),
and the administration's own warnuts, the one and only "intelligence" group that supported the administration's claims.
The idea that chemical or biological weapons could poise a security threat was entirely conditioned upon the acceptance of the belief that Saddam might cooperate with anti-American terrorist groups by giving them access to such weapons, something the CIA testified to congress was not the case in 2002:
The Central Intelligence Agency has no evidence that Iraq has engaged in terrorist operations against the United States in nearly a decade, and the agency is also convinced that President Saddam Hussein has not provided chemical or biological weapons to Al Qaeda or related terrorist groups, according to several American intelligence officials.
So Bush, following the example of Democratic candidates for his office that voted for authorizing the war, is now pleading ignorance. He wants "
to be able to compare what the Iraq Survey Group has found with what we thought prior to going into Iraq."
What "we" thought prior to going into Iraq is painfully public and obvious - we didn't know because the absence of any evidence is not sufficient to prove the negative assertion required by UNSC resolutions:
I have not asserted on behalf of UNMOVIC that proscribed items or activities exist in Iraq....
If evidence is not presented, which gives a high degree of assurance, there is no way the inspectors can close a file by simply invoking a precept that Iraq cannot prove the negative. In such cases, regrettably, they must conclude, as they have done in the past, that the absence of the particular item is not assured.
--Hans Blix, January 9th, 2003.
To the extent that the threat was known there was no threat, the absence of any evidence for a threat was argued by the administration and its few allies to be evidence of a threat. Hence the widespread pre-war dissent in administration's military, intelligence, and diplomatic corps as early as October 2002.
This returns us to the key point in discussing the strategic justification for the Iraq war: preventative war. Via our national security strategy:
For centuries, international law recognized that
nations need not suffer an attack before they can
lawfully take action to defend themselves against
forces that present an imminent danger of attack.
Legal scholars and international jurists often
conditioned the legitimacy of preemption on the
existence of an imminent threatómost often a
visible mobilization of armies, navies, and air
forces preparing to attack.
We must adapt the concept of imminent
threat to the capabilities and objectives of todayís
adversaries...the more compelling the case for taking
anticipatory action to defend ourselves, even if
uncertainty remains as to the time and place of
the enemyís attack. To forestall or prevent such
hostile acts by our adversaries, the United States
will, if necessary, act preemptively.
In other words, we must overturn the shaky foundations of international legitamacy and adopt the tactics of stateless terror syndicates by engaging in those very tactics, redefining preemptive action as the prevention of unknown threats. Such a strategy could be used to justify an attack on just about anyone, preferably states that have not yet developed deterrents to such an attack, and as was clear to the various intelligence services prior to the war the threat poised by Iraq wasn't just uncertain, it was quite possibly non-existent. Thus we went to war, by forcing the removal of weapons inspectors, to prevent the gathering of evidence of the abscence of any threat. Make sense yet?
The potential absence of that threat has been successfully averted by the US invasion, and the risks to the region and to ourselves thereby greatly inflated: the rate of Al Qaeda attacks against US and allied interests has increased dramatically, intelligence services report new recruitment among Bosnian muslims, continued recruitment in US prisons, increased drives in Europe, and globally swelling the ranks of the Al Qaeda movement due to the Iraq invasion. The increasing rate of US casualties and $200 billion spent to increase American national insecurity. Iraq sitting on the verge of the abyss, with stable democracy perhaps the least likely outcome of all possibilities: an authoritarian Islamist regime; another repressive dictatorship; civil war; or an open rebellion against US occupation. Truly a service to the cause of national security.