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War Or Bust!


Unfortunately, it's only our leaders who were dummies,
not the men and women they sent off to war.

Behind closed doors, in the days before the Iraq war, Bush and Blair were two supremely confident frat boys, not knowing the seriousness of what they were getting into. I guess it's not that hard to send other people's kids off to war, and tear up other people's countries -- for some. I felt sick reading the story, especially in light of the stories of the wounded in the Joan Ryan SF Chronicle piece I posted below. Don Van Natta, Jr., writes in The New York Times, of a five page confidential memo that recently came to light in Britain:

While the president's sentiments about invading Iraq were known at the time, the previously unreported material offers an unfiltered view of two leaders on the brink of war, yet supremely confident.

The memo indicates the two leaders envisioned a quick victory and a transition to a new Iraqi government that would be complicated, but manageable. Mr. Bush predicted that it was "unlikely there would be internecine warfare between the different religious and ethnic groups." Mr. Blair agreed with that assessment.

The memo also shows that the president and the prime minister acknowledged that no unconventional weapons had been found inside Iraq. Faced with the possibility of not finding any before the planned invasion, Mr. Bush talked about several ways to provoke a confrontation, including a proposal to paint a United States surveillance plane in the colors of the United Nations in hopes of drawing fire, or assassinating Mr. Hussein.

The bit about the disguised fighter planes (further elaborated later in the article) -- it's just kid stuff. Then there's the "Hey, man, I know, let's take him out!" thing. I was struck, reading this article, how much these two sound like two 8-year-olds playing "fort." Scary. Horrifying. Especially if you're one of the men or women who lost legs -- or more -- in the process.

photo by Gregg Sutter

Posted by aalkon at March 27, 2006 5:16 AM

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Well it's not only the leaders who were acting like 8 year olds. Interviews of the troops before the fighting in Kuwaiti where just as bad. I know a couple of guys who went over and they were really excited to go and "use their training" i.e. kill people. They were not so excited when the returned from over there and none wanted to go back and "use their training". Most boys (no mater what their ages) feel that it would be fun to go to war and shoot the enemy but few like being shot themselves.

To show the intelligent level of the whole thing:
Time mag. says 85% of US troops say the main mission in Iraq it to retaliate for Saddam's role in 9/11.

Posted by: -mike- at March 27, 2006 7:05 AM

Sad as it is, I'm not surprised in the least and knew on some level it was only a matter of time before information like this would come to light. I've always seen that side of Bush: the arrogant, petulant, spoiled frat boy who's never been held accountable for anything. But I guess those of us who have been saying all along that the emperor has no clothes are easy to write off as "Bush haters", eh?

Posted by: deja pseu at March 27, 2006 7:41 AM

People should be reading more Christopher Hitchens to get the right idea about Iraq. He is correct when he says that it would have been irresponsible NOT to have gone into Iraq. Three recent articles by Hitchens can be found on his website They are "The Stone Face of Zarqawi - Iraq is no distraction from al-Quadia" in the WSJ dated 3/21/06; "An Indivisible Right" in the WSJ dated 2/23/06; and "My Ideal War: How the international community should have responded to the Bush's Sept 2002 speech", dated 3/20/06. He is absolutely spot on.

Amy you have said many times (and correctly) how these primitive, barbarian nutbags can ruin the whole show. How exactly do you imagine we take care of the problem? There is only way: take seriously the claim made by them that they want to destroy the West and create their own insane and horrific Islamic empire. Bush and Blair were right to do what they did.

Further, the documents coming out of Bagdad that were found from the Saddam regime indicate that there were indeed plans for WMD. Hussein was ambiguous to the very end about what he actually had in terms of weapons. (Read the May-June Foreign Affairs report.) He was a serious, serious threat, not only to the Iraqi people but to the whole Middle East region and the world at large.

Yes, some mistakes were made in the war on terror in Iraq. But to pull out now would be worse than criminal.

The New York Times certainly can't be said to be an accurate chronicler of what is really going on with the US Armed Forces in Iraq or anywhere else.

Posted by: Ally at March 27, 2006 10:24 AM


There's nothing ambiguous -- Saddam didn't have any WMD, the administration knew it, and didn't care. Yes, he was a bad guy, but he didn't want to "destroy the West and create his own insane and horrific Islamic empire." He mostly wanted to dominate the Middle East and create his own oppressive and horrific *secular* empire. Iraq was a completely contained threat to the US, until we botched the occupation.

These are significant distinctions.

Posted by: Franko at March 27, 2006 3:24 PM

Franko: Go to ABC and read their analysis of the recordings that Saddam made of his cabinet meetings. They blow away everything you claim in your last comment.

Posted by: nash at March 28, 2006 7:09 AM

If Saddam was contained, how come nobody suggested ending the no-fly zones? It should be the policy of the US to oppose "oppressive and horrific *secular* empires" as much as the religious ones.

Posted by: Crid at March 28, 2006 7:32 AM

Nash -- link broken.

Crid -- well, the no-fly-zones were what were containing him. You could argue that we couldn't be expected to bear the expense of that indefinitely, but obviously it would be cheaper than W's Folly.

Posted by: Franko at March 28, 2006 8:34 AM

going into iraq to conduct a regime change was the right thing to do, but with terrible timing.

we should have finished what we started in the first gulf war, at least when saddam started the massacre of the shi'ite rebellion that we encouraged....

or we should have waited until afghanistan was stable and the international community, which was still mostly helpful prior to OIF, helped us to root out and cripple al-qaida worldwide.

mike, don't trash our troops like that. of course they talk a big game right before the war. ever see a football player in the locker room before a game? now multiply that by a thousandfold. it is somewhat embarrassing to me as well, but they're just kids, really, and they were about to face the most significant life-altering (and sometimes ending) event of their lives.

Posted by: g*mart at March 28, 2006 11:37 AM

I have lost total interest in this war, and all those involved, simply because the same people who argue in one sentence say "they are just kids, really" and in the next argument say "they are the finest trained fighting force in the world. The are professionals and heroes". Both statements are equally hollow.

The only ones I have any sympathy for at this point are the Iraqis who can't get out of the way.

Posted by: eric at March 28, 2006 7:04 PM

typos/grammar noted.

Posted by: Eric at March 28, 2006 7:05 PM

Freedom is just for privileged white chicks who like to visit London.

To hell with anyone else who suggests otherwise.

Posted by: red river at March 28, 2006 8:14 PM

> the no-fly-zones were what
> were containing him

So you agree with making war in Iraq in principle, you just want to quibble about the degree.

> I have lost total interest
> in this war

How did you feel about the Balkans? And Somalia? And Rwanda? If neither humanitarian interests nor the distribution of precious resources can get your attention, what can?

> The only ones I have any
> sympathy for at this point
> are the Iraqis who can't
> get out of the way.

Interesting sympathy you have there, where you don't actually want to help them out. Because there were a LOT of Iraqis who couldn't get out of Saddam's way.

Posted by: Crid at March 29, 2006 12:10 AM

eric, that's a pretty weak ass reason to lose interest in a war. when you see a 19 year old on your flight with one arm and a disfigured face (like the one my buddy was on last night, i'm not just being a hubristic dick), you can make yourself feel less awkward by comforting yourself by the fact that this kid volunteered to risk his life before he graduated from high school to fight in a silly war you don't even care about.

Posted by: g*mart at March 29, 2006 10:30 AM

Crid- I feel the same way about the Balkans as I do about Somalia and Rwanda. Tragedies, but at what point in my birth did I become responsible for them? Perhaps if we stopped shipping arms all around the world, and convince China, Russia, Britain and France to do the same, there may be less of a problem. Of course, machetes will always be available, so what can I do about it?

Fuck it- I will tend to my own backyard, and invest in energy/defense stocks. If a situation arises in 16 years where America goes to war again, but is not really in any danger, I will put my boy on the first flight to Europe for 4 years of schooling til it all blows over.

g*mart- in the weeks leading up to this war, I got in a nose-to-nose argument with an old friend about whether this war was necessary or not. He trotted out all the justifications at the time, especially 9/11 and how the Muslims wanted to take over the world. He predicted that we would be welcomed as liberators, and that soon Iran, Syria, and even Saudi Arabia would rise up into democratic societies, bolstered by their love of western values and a steady stream of petoleum dollars.

Those were in the days of "shock and awe". Nowdays he blames the Democrats for tying George Bush's hands behind his back, and that Clinton not only is responsible for 9/11 but benefitted from it.

He is a doctor, by the way. Chances of his 12 year old enlisting someday- zero.

Mine isn't a "liberals cut and run when the going gets tough" attitude. If I thought for a moment that we could be successful, I would say lets increase the troops to get the job done properly. I don't for a minute think we can just up and leave either. As Colin Powell said, "we broke it, we bought it". Of course he wasn't listened to by our experts in charge. I wonder why George Bush hired him anyway....

But at $250,000,000,000+ dollars later, with no end in sight, I wonder how much better this money could have been spent here at home. We have thousands of kids in a hundred mile radius born into meth families. We have homeless people, mentally ill people off their meds walking the streets, seniors who can't even afford meds, etc... How about you down there in L.A.? Everything going swimmingly with your fellow citizens?

Hence my boredom- America won't commit the resources to finish the job, and neither will we admit this war has been poorly run from day one and time to cut our losses.

Guys- I will bet you in April 2007 we are still in pretty much the same situation or worse in Iraq. Say 3,000 American dead or so....

Posted by: Eric at March 30, 2006 3:20 PM

eric, you don't seem to be bored, you seem resigned. and you also seem to be libertarian, so you're cool in my book. i wish more people would tend to their lawn instead of peering over their fences at the neighbors.

the reason i get upset about people who don't care about the way is the people who are being affected by it. i've got three dead classmates and three more, all friends, who've been severely wounded. if you got to know them, you'd know why i want you to care.

oh, and L.A.? where the hell did you get that? i don't think it was -50 degrees 5 weeks ago in L.A.

Posted by: g*mart at March 30, 2006 10:17 PM

g*mart- where on earth are you?

Posted by: eric at March 31, 2006 7:03 AM

here's a hint : there's a 30 foot santa claus less than a mile from my house

Posted by: g*mart at April 1, 2006 4:08 AM

I love a game! Don't tell me unless I get within 5 miles.

It wasn't -50 in Oxnard nor Carpenteria, and Indiana was tempting but I doubt -50. Continental America I doubt has ever seen -50.

If I guess correctly, and were to visit there someday, could you purchase me a fine hash-hish cigarette a a grasshopper bar within the city limits?

Posted by: eric at April 1, 2006 9:29 PM

you could possess on your residence without fear said cigarette. however, i wouldn't recommend walking around smoking it, as it's still america. and the only bar within 'city' limits is named after the refinery just down the street. you are quite right, though, the continental united states is out.

Posted by: g*mart at April 2, 2006 12:24 PM

> at what point in my birth did I
> become responsible for them?

The moment where you sucked the samev kind of air.

We in the States live like kings on an economy built all too often on the exploitation of lesser economies (aka 'minorities'). The excellence in your life is often indirectly, but indisputably, dependent on the wretchedness of theirs, whether they're African, Asian or South American.

Posted by: Crid at April 4, 2006 3:10 PM

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