Oh, Hell, I lost count years ago.
Now we are told that Bush should be turned out of office because his “incompetence” caused us to lose (maybe) a couple of hundred tons of explosives from a warehouse in Iraq. Now keep in mind that these aren’t the dreaded WMD (which didn’t exist, remember?), and these aren’t plain old regular explosives, either (or else this wouldn’t be such a big deal), but a nifty new category of munition, not powerful enough to justify an invasion but just powerful enough for their disappearance to justify Bush’s ouster.
So let’s take the worst case, and see where it leads us.
The absolutely most damning case that could be made is that some soldiers arrived while the stuff was still there, but didn’t stick around to guard it, since they were still rather busy invading Iraq at the time; some time later, our forces went back to the site, found these munitions missing, and the Administration failed to advertise our loss of these munitions to the entire world.
Even granting all that, where’s Bush’s incompetence?
Ah, he didn’t commit enough troops to the operation, so there weren’t enough people on hand to guard this super-critical site, so we left it unguarded and somebody took the stuff away. But if you’ll recall, there was a significantly larger force committed to the operation – half of that force hadn’t shown up yet, being in the process of taking the long way around to Iraq. And that wasn’t due to Bush’s “incompetence” but Turkey’s lack of cooperation. And no, that wasn’t a “failure of diplomacy” either – if Kerry had gone to Turkey and said “pretty please with a cherry on top”, he wouldn’t have gotten any better results, not from Turkey, and not from France or Germany either.
So what we’re left with is that the noncooperation of Turkey, and the general chaos that always accompanies wartime operations, allowed these explosives to fall into the hands of our enemies?
Not quite. That stuff had been in the hands of our enemies for years.
Yes, I’m speaking of none other than Saddam Hussein. And, need I remind you that he was a declared enemy of the United States, not to mention technically still at war with us. And consistently violating the cease fire agreement, by shooting at American planes that had every right to be there under the terms of that agreement. Do you remember the last time a defeated enemy was allowed to violate the terms of a peace treaty with impunity? You know, the nation led by that Austrian corporal with the funny mustache that was just like George W Bush in every way, according to some of our friends on the left?
But Saddam wasn’t much of a threat!
Well, neither was Hitler the first few years he was violating his peace treaty. And if Britain and France invaded when he first moved troops into that part of Germany where they were supposed to be off-limits, and knocked him off his throne, most people would have written it off as a wasteful misadventure and then forgotten the whole thing within a few years, never dreaming of the trouble he’d have caused down the road.
Now we all have a tendency to sort evil whackos into two categories – those that are a threat to us and those that aren’t. And for many years, the jihadis all seemed to be in the second category. They’d set off bombs and hijack planes on the other side of the world, and some of the things they blew up had American flags on them, and of course they’d been calling us The Great Satan all along, but even the crazy jihadis weren’t crazy enough to try that crap over here. Until one day, one terrorist network was crazy enough to try it. They crossed the line, jumped the ocean, and made a determined and nearly successful effort to murder 50,000 people on American soil.
If Al-Queda could cross that line, why not some other group? Why not some Islamic conspiracy, or state, or kinda-sorta-state-sponsored group that had nothing to do with bin-Laden? Obviously, whatever it was that had caused them all to stay in their sandbox and avoid doing something that The Great Satan itself couldn’t possibly ignore doesn’t apply anymore, and any one of those guys could decide to score a big one like bin Laden tried to, impress his fellow jihadis, and scare up a lot of recruits. So when someone over there openly declares his enmity against the United States, we can’t assume it’s all just talk anymore, and if every intelligence service on the planet is unable to figure out whether he’s working on nukes or biding his time until containment collapses, we certainly can’t take any of them at their word that he’s fully contained and absolutely harmless.
Not to mention that he was in the way of us forcibly shutting down Iran’s nuclear program, should that become necessary (and I’ve got a strong feeling it will be necessary, in the not-too-distant future). And he was in a perfect spot for us to launch several other operations as they become necessary, gather better intel, and generally stay on the offensive against all sorts of characters that we can’t trust to blow things up only on their side of the world anymore.
Now the one thing that strikes me about the military efforts to date is just how incredibly successful they’ve been, and how masterfully planned and executed they turned out to be. Not perfect, of course (You mean there’s terrorists setting off explosives? Against Americans and their supporters? In the Middle East, no less? Say it isn’t so!). But a lot of the toys that John Kerry voted against turned out to be damned useful in the War on Terror. I don’t want to even think about how an Afghanistan operation with Vietnam-era technology and tactics would have gone for us – I think in that case we’d have been wishing for another Vietnam. And if you’ve ever cracked a history book, you’ll realize that only 1200 deaths in a year and a half of invading a dictatorship, overthrowing its dictator, and fighting a chronic insurgency is astoundingly good news, especially when added to the fact that the long-predicted flood of refugees never materialized, the terrorists that Saddam’s regime had nothing whatsoever to do with suddenly got extremely interested in the fate of Iraq (and no, we’re not turning peaceful, simple folk into bloodthirsty terrorists – at worst, we’re forcing them to choose their side a little sooner than they would have on their own, and denying them the option of biding their time until the Great Satan looks sufficiently weak to try their hand at terrorism on their chosen terms), and Iraqis are still signing up to take on the battle for their country against these thugs and getting set to vote in their first-ever real election in a couple of months.
And the Commander-in-Chief at the helm during these amazing accomplishments is called incompetent? You’ve got to be kidding me.
20 thoughts on “Nonsensical criticism of Bush, part…”
Couple of things you forgot:
-Message of Iraq war has been delivered in Araby to other Arab dictators – force is the only language they clearly understand – that led to capitulation of Qaddafi.
-Qaddafi led to the unraveling of AQ Khan nuclear business in Pakistan.
-Humiliation of AQ Khan enraged some Jihadists in Pakistan who attempted to kill Mushraff.
-Mushraff was forced to openly take sides as his own life came under threat.
-Pakistani Army, which probably looked the other way when Al-Qaedists crossed the Afghan-Paki border in 2001, started cleaning up the mess in the “no-go” lawless tribal areas of Pakistan. Ever wondered why Taliban/Qaedists were neutralized during the Afghan election?
This is beating a dead horse, but here is a quote from an e-mail sent this week by Duelfer.
By e-mail, Mr. Duelfer wrote the Sun, “The policy was if acquired for the WMD program and used for it, it should be subject for destruction. The HMX was just that. Nevertheless the IAEA decided to let Iraq keep the stuff, like they needed more explosives.”
Duelfer is talking about 1995. I suppose it is not news to anyone that the UN thinks we are more dangerous guards than Hussein. Sometimes I’m struck by the difference between how one of us might frame an issue and how the MSM does.
Drudge says that a US Major moved more than 250 tons of explosive material and that the area surrounding the storeage was pacified.
Thanks for the great post ken.
ken, you miss the point. You are making a substantive argument, the MSM only covers what it thinks as coherent and defensible. The fact that this is second guessing, 20/20 hindsight and criticism of his own country’s military is welcomed as an attack against Bush by the MSM. The New York Times weapons story is todays Winter Soldier. When this election is over and Bush wins, the MSM is in need of some real reform, currently I consider this not free speech but journalistic malfeasance.
People also miss a strategic component in our invasion. Saddam had been sanctioned by the UN multiple times. Both the Clinton and Bush administrations had said Saddam needed to be put down. Post 9/11 there was a universal belief that he had wmds and certainty that he was murdering his own people.
If we didn’t follow through and do something, other nations would have concluded — correctly — that we were incapable of credible threats.
And anyone who doesn’t think this wouldn’t have had serious consequences — not just for the Middle East but also for North Korea and China/Taiwan — isn’t fit to have anything to do with our foreign policy.
Al QaaQa has more than 1100 buildings. It’s huge. Think of the biggest university campus you’ve ever seen – it’s 10 times bigger than that. It would take hundreds of people to guard, and hundreds more to support the guards.
Raw HMX was the LEAST dangerous thing stored there. In it’s raw form you can’t make it explode. You can get it to burn nicely, but that’s about all. To make it explode you have to 11) mix it with the right binder (and that’s not sawdust) in the right ratios. 2) melt it and cast it 3) fit it with a detonator. A terrorist is going to do that with 380 tons of stuff that looks like corn starch? When the entire country is awash in explosives that are READY TO USE?
If you were a soldier coming on this stuff, and a pile of RPG’s, which would you be worried about?
380 tons of 155mm shells, hand grenades, anti-tank mines, det cord, rockets or TNT is what they should – and did – worry about. Raw HMX is exactly as dangerous as sawdust or cake flour – both of which will explode nicely in the right conditions.
tens of thousand of civilians killed? the country heading for civil war and ideal haven and training ground for terrorists? who cares?
“just” 1200 GI’s dead is what counts! only 2% of Vietnam casualties!
or 10 times more than in the first year of that war…
is it part of the ‘brilliant & masterful’ plan to fight as long as in vietnam? or longer?
One further point: To guard every vulnerable point in Iraq (an area the size of California) and keep watch over every potential terrorist would have required not another 50,000 soldiers but another couple of million. The force that the President sent was large enough to overthrow the Ba’athist regime quickly and is enough, in conjunction with the expanding Iraqi army, to root out pro-Saddam and Islamofascist holdouts, provided that it follows an aggressive strategy. Which Presidential candidate is more likely to pursue the enemy into its lairs, and which more likely to sit on the defensive begging the rest of the world for bail-outs?
This is a “brilliant & masterful” post!
I work in the defense arena and have my collection of medals from Kuwait through Hait and Albania and Bosnia and Iraq. When I read your material, I question myself — what is he smoking.
I was asked the following question by a journalist:
C — What do you make of this–should we really be focussed on it? How big of a threat do you think those missing explosives are–especially in relation to the total amount of ordnance lying around Iraq?
> C-1: To a certain extent, the missing explosives are not critical in and of themselves but are emblemmatic of multiple issues and failures in Iraq.
> * Were the inspections working? Duelfer report & otherwise tells us yes.
> * Were there enough forces in Iraq? Well, why did we not secure this weapons facility — which had far more than just these weapons and from which much was looted post-Saddam fall. What about looting of yellowcake? If this stuff is so dangerous (as part of case for war), why did we not control it?
> * Were the assumptions about post-conflict appropriate? Again, not enough forces for controlling the situation.
> * Did the USG work adequately with the international community in the end game & in the days/weeks/months after Saddam’s fall? When was the IAEA allowed to return to all its sites and inspect them? Not quickly …
> * Did the USG / US military understand the threat and respond to it adequately? Well, from my perspective, clearly not. And, with this type of stuff out there, you don’t need to be using artillery shells for car bombs. (By the way, taking explosives out of shells can be quite dangerous business — unlike handling these typse of plastique — how many reports have we heard about “terrorist” / “insurgent” bomb making factories blowing up?)
> * Has the Bush Administration been truthful and upfront with the American public about the situation in Iraq? If true that there was a USG effort to suppress reporting the missing explosives to the IAEA and there was no discussion of this issue with the US press, seems to be a clear example of trying to keep bad news off the front page.
> * Did the war in Iraq make us safer? Terrorists have their hands on 380 tons of plastique that they did not have before the invasion — makes me feel safer … Our resources (military, leadership, fiscal, intel, etc) are focused so heavily on Iraq that other arenas are getting short shrift. The situation in Iraq as Iraq — well, you talk to your reporters there. As for the terrorists movement worldwide — there are now open discussions that Iraq is now the Lebanon / Afghanistan / Bosnia / Chechnya for training Islamic fundamentalists … with Europeans Muslims now numbering 1,000s in Iraq and active recruiting ongoing. (This was a BIG French fear before the war and we are seeing it.) My terrorism experts tell me that beyond mestasticizing (spelling?), that there are more “terrorists” worldwide now than on 10 September 2001.
> The 380 tons points to weaknesses in the (a) case for war; (b) linkages between WMD and war planning (the 380 were not a high priority target for control as far as I’ve heard); (c) that the linkages between the USG/US military and international community were broke; (d) argument that the war made the American people safer; and (e) the Administration’s willingness to be upfront with the American people (can we say “lie” — the story has changed so many times in just a few days).
> Thus, the explosives are a metaphor for the weaknesses (failings) of the Bush Administration’s approach to Iraq. As a metaphor, they certainly deserve attention. >
> C-2: Am I scared? SHIT YES!!!!!!!! Let us put ourselves outside the circumstances of being in Iraq & “just” worrying about the real “war on terrorists”. Should we be worried that 380 tons of extremely high quality explosives have most likely made their way into the hands of people who would gleefully kill Americans? Should we be concerned that they (these terrorists) have enough explosives for between 2,584 – 8613 OK City-size bombs? That this is enough explosives for roughly 760,000 bombs like that used on Pam Am Flight 103? (Think about it — enough explosive potential to destroy all the aircraft in the world multiple times over …) How might we have reacted if Saddam had transferred 380 tons of this stuff to al Qaeda? It would have been a causus belli … Well, in this case, we don’t have Saddam to blame …
If Saddam had given these explosives to terrorists that would have fully justified the war in Iraq in the eyes of most of the world. The inadequacies of the military (and other) operations during the overthrow of Saddam and since have allowed these (and other) explosives / weapons to fall into the hands of those who wish to kill Americans. Who should we hold to blame for that? Bill Clinton.
I — and many I know in the military — plan to vote for John Kerry due to the systematic and virtually criminal incompetence of the W administraition.
Great post. It really got me thinking. I have had some emails from freinds that seem to have completely bought into this Bush is incompetent argument. I have the feeling that many people in the middle are looking for an excuse to vote for Kerry and this incompetence argument makes it easier for them to do it.
I think people always ignore the problems we would have faced if we had sent more soldiers. The whole incompetence argument out there, if I understand it correctly, is that by not having enough troops initially we allowed disorder to develop which lead to frustration and, somehow, terrorism. That now seems clearly wrong. The whole incompetence argument out there, if I understand it correctly, is that by not having enough troops initially we allowed disorder to develop which lead to frustration and, somehow, terrorism. That now seems clearly wrong. There now seems little doubt that whatever the motives–the Islamist terrorists, Shiite fanatics or old regime loyalists–they were going to engage in this terrorist campaign no matter what.
If that is the case, I wonder how much differnce having more troops at the begining would have mattered? What makes the terrorists hard to beat is not thier arms–the amount of explosives you need for blowing up a couple of cars a day would seem to be triffling small–but the fact that they are willing to use civilians both as targets and as sheild. More troops alone would just have meant more targets. And the same people who are complaining about too few troops would be complaining about too many: “American insensitivity and insistence on running everything breeds resentment and terrorism. If only we had sent fewer troops as we did in Afghanistan we would not have these problems”
(by the way, the “too few troops argument seems to have fallen mysteriously out of favor in discussions of Afghanistan.)
The danger of not staying the course now is that we will be telling the dictators of the world they are safe. You don’t have to be able to beat our army, you don’t have to have the support of more than a fraction of your population (notice how car bombings slowed from 35 a month to 2 during the seige of Fallujia). All you have to do is have a couple of thousand terrorists out of 25 million people and one town that will give them refuge. That will be enough for you to keep up a steady trickle of public murders up to the next election cycle.
The real problem as always is within our own society. We are so unsure of ourselves, so unsure of our purpose, that we are poised to let an enemy defeat us armed only with the weapon of thier own depravity.
Interesting post, lotsa “if someone had told you before the invasion..” hypothetical statements in it. Before the invasion, I recall being told that the invasion would pay for itself. That other countries would line up to assist us. That we would be treated as liberators. That there was no danger of any insurgency. That we would be pulling out within a year. Stuff like this. Pronouncements like this is why Bush looks so incompetent. Like predicting 6 million jobs from his tax cuts and then bragging about 1.5 million. More and more, it seemed like he was just guessing.
So, point is, the problem isn’t how we’re doing in comparison to nothing, it’s how things are going in comparison to how they promised us things would go.
Doesn’t really matter, though. It’s a moot point after Tuesday.
. . . the problem isn’t how we’re doing in comparison to nothing, it’s how things are going in comparison to how they promised us things would go.
I don’t agree. The problem is how to decide what to do next. Would Kerry do better than Bush? It makes no sense to replace Bush unless the alternative would be better. I don’t think it would be, but clearly many people disagree with me.
And I’m one of them. The inspectors had the explosives sealed as part of the so-called incompetent inspection team work. Who fumbled it? It wasn’t the inspectors. I would think Chicago boyz would be smarter than this.
Oh geez something got lost in a war! Now that’s surprising. Something didn’t go as planned? Some mid level commander had to make a choice (although it may have beeen the right choice) and a lower order priority captured asset was taken, lost, overlooked, or not accounted for correctly!
Man, I’m amazed. Off with his head.
Police officers, soldiers and the Commander-in-Chief all have one thing in common- they all must make life and death decisions in the course of their occupation, and invariably they get critiqued by those with the benefit of hindsight who love to go down that hypothetical path of “we/he/they should have….” Talk about armchair quarterback. I’m just glad we have leadership that is willing to take the fight to the epitome of intolerance- Islamofascists/Wahabbis. They would lop off your son’s or daughter’s head without a second thought simply because we are different. Wake up or you might not.
“A traditional (and frustrated) conservative”
Ya’ know, your post reads like so much unsubstantiated bunk.
My favorite poll for undecided voters;
Since 1956, Weekly Reader students in grades 1-12 have correctly picked the president
Weekly Reader kids select Bush in Presidential Poll
The students who read Weekly Reader’s magazines have made their preference for President known: they want to send President Bush back to the White House.
The results of this year’s Weekly Reader poll have just been announced, and the winner is President Bush. Hundreds of thousands of students participated, giving the Republican President more than 60% of the votes cast and making him a decisive choice over Democratic Senator John Kerry.
Since 1956, Weekly Reader students in grades 1-12 have correctly picked the president, making the Weekly Reader poll one of the most accurate predictors of presidential outcomes in history.
Wonderful. You make a number of points as to why the people attacking Bush unrelentingly are full of it, and just desperate opportunists. In this you are very correct. There is no cohesive opposition to the President’s policies in American politics today. Kerry campaigned as Bush-lite (I agree with him, but I’ll be better, cause I’m John Kerry), which was a moronic and even lower form of pandering than what Bush normally engages in. Argue about how qualified Bush is all you want. But the fact is, unless we plan on killing at least 50% of the people in the Middle East, we will not meet with any success in our “war on terror”. One Arab editorial put it well in saying that “The resistance in the east, stretching all the way from Palestine to Iraq, is being seen and termed by many Western analysts and new Arab liberals as terrorism, assassination and martyrdom… However, the massacres which are being carried out by phantom planes and huge bombers is a sign of openness, freedom, and democracy.” It’s interesting if you think about it. The war in Iraq was not justified. It never will be. We are not safer today than we were in the past. And the ironic part of it: We have gained a number of new “allies” in the war on terror, gaining support from nations such as Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Strangely enough, these are both countries where masses of religious Al-Qaeda and other extremists are pouring out of. But that’s ok, we don’t need to attack them, they are our friends. Or at least, their oppressive governments are our friends. I wonder about the people that live there? And, especially in Saudi Arabia, there is no toning down of religious extremism, it is the norm, and the LAW of the land no less. So, anyone who wants to preach the war on terror, I ask you, how do we win? Do we try to kill all the terrorists, which is impossible? Every Hamas leader killed by Israel brings 3 or 4 new young leaders into the fold who want to avenge the deaths. I guess the only answer is to kill or imprison all of them, who knows how many. Speaking of Hamas and Israel, perhaps it is the unwavering, unthinking, undebated, and dangerous 100% support of Israel. Israel is another state which breeds much religious extremism. I’m sure Palestinians would have an easier time accepting current conditions if they were allowed to participate in any Israeli politics, or have a voice at all, which of course, they can’t, Israel being a Zionist state, based on biblical claims, and the Palestinians not being Jewish. Well, I’m sure the right answer is to just stay the course, and eventually we’ll kill so many of these people that the rest will either give up or start to really like us, right?
Comments are closed.