Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Judgment of History Will Be Harsh

"Great is the guilt of an unnecessary war."
--John Adams
We, the American people elected an unqualified candidate for president in 2000. Bush's fellow travelers currently argue that Bush was a victim of the advice given him. But he was unschooled in law, military service and history, the traditional backgrounds of American presidents. Bush's lack of seasoning meant that his advisors got to choose him, not the other way around. So it's all the more appropriate to ask about the advice not taken.

Brent Scowcroft was national security adviser under Presidents Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush, and later became founder and president of the Forum for International Policy. On 15-Aug-02, seven months before Bush launched his un-provoked, unnecessary, largely unilateral invasion and unplanned occupation of Iraq (UULUIUOI), Scowcroft published in the Wall Street Journal, Don't Attack Saddam - It Would Undermine Our Antiterror Efforts. My emphasis has been added:
Our nation is presently engaged in a debate about whether to launch a war against Iraq. Leaks of various strategies for an attack on Iraq appear with regularity. The Bush administration vows regime change, but states that no decision has been made whether, much less when, to launch an invasion.

It is beyond dispute that Saddam Hussein is a menace. He terrorizes and brutalizes his own people. He has launched war on two of his neighbors. He devotes enormous effort to rebuilding his military forces and equipping them with weapons of mass destruction. We will all be better off when he is gone.

That said, we need to think through this issue very carefully. We need to analyze the relationship between Iraq and our other pressing priorities--notably the war on terrorism--as well as the best strategy and tactics available were we to move to change the regime in Baghdad.

Saddam's strategic objective appears to be to dominate the Persian Gulf, to control oil from the region, or both.

That clearly poses a real threat to key U.S. interests. But 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. Threatening to use these weapons for blackmail--much less their actual use--would open him and his entire regime to a devastating response by the U.S. While Saddam is thoroughly evil, he is above all a power-hungry survivor.

Saddam is a familiar dictatorial aggressor, with traditional goals for his aggression. There is little evidence to indicate that the United States itself is an object of his aggression. Rather, Saddam's problem with the U.S. appears to be that we stand in the way of his ambitions. He seeks weapons of mass destruction not to arm terrorists, but to deter us from intervening to block his aggressive designs.

Given Saddam's aggressive regional ambitions, as well as his ruthlessness and unpredictability, it may at some point be wise to remove him from power. Whether and when that point should come ought to depend on overall U.S. national security priorities. Our pre-eminent security priority--underscored repeatedly by the president--is the war on terrorism. An attack on Iraq at this time would seriously jeopardize, if not destroy, the global counterterrorist campaign we have undertaken.

The United States could certainly defeat the Iraqi military and destroy Saddam's regime. But it would not be a cakewalk. On the contrary, it undoubtedly would be very expensive--with serious consequences for the U.S. and global economy--and could as well be bloody. In fact, Saddam would be likely to conclude he had nothing left to lose, leading him to unleash whatever weapons of mass destruction he possesses.

Israel would have to expect to be the first casualty, as in 1991 when Saddam sought to bring Israel into the Gulf conflict. This time, using weapons of mass destruction, he might succeed, provoking Israel to respond, perhaps with nuclear weapons, unleashing an Armageddon in the Middle East. Finally, if we are to achieve our strategic objectives in Iraq, a military campaign very likely would have to be followed by a large-scale, long-term military occupation.

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.

Possibly the most dire consequences would be the effect in the region. The shared view in the region is that Iraq is principally an obsession of the U.S. The obsession of the region, however, is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. If we were seen to be turning our backs on that bitter conflict--which the region, rightly or wrongly, perceives to be clearly within our power to resolve--in order to go after Iraq, there would be an explosion of outrage against us. We would be seen as ignoring a key interest of the Muslim world in order to satisfy what is seen to be a narrow American interest.

Even without Israeli involvement, the results could well destabilize Arab regimes in the region, ironically facilitating one of Saddam's strategic objectives. At a minimum, it would stifle any cooperation on terrorism, and could even swell the ranks of the terrorists. Conversely, the more progress we make in the war on terrorism, and the more we are seen to be committed to resolving the Israel-Palestinian issue, the greater will be the international support for going after Saddam.

If we are truly serious about the war on terrorism, it must remain our top priority. However, should Saddam Hussein be found to be clearly implicated in the events of Sept. 11, that could make him a key counterterrorist target, rather than a competing priority, and significantly shift world opinion toward support for regime change.

In any event, we should be pressing the United Nations Security Council to insist on an effective no-notice inspection regime for Iraq--any time, anywhere, no permission required. On this point, senior administration officials have opined that Saddam Hussein would never agree to such an inspection regime. But if he did, inspections would serve to keep him off balance and under close observation, even if all his weapons of mass destruction capabilities were not uncovered. And if he refused, his rejection could provide the persuasive casus belli which many claim we do not now have. Compelling evidence that Saddam had acquired nuclear-weapons capability could have a similar effect.

In sum, if we will act in full awareness of the intimate interrelationship of the key issues in the region, keeping counterterrorism as our foremost priority, there is much potential for success across the entire range of our security interests--including Iraq. If we reject a comprehensive perspective, however, we put at risk our campaign against terrorism as well as stability and security in a vital region of the world.
What has been the consequence of six years of foreign policy at the hands of the worst president in history?

Richard Haass has been president of the Council on Foreign Relations since July of 2003, prior to which he was Director of Policy Planning for the United States Department of State and a close advisor to Secretary of State Colin Powell. The U.S. Senate approved Haass as a candidate for the position of ambassador and he has been US Coordinator for policy on the future of Afghanistan. In a recent interview in Der Spiegel entitled, Iraq Is Not Winnable, Haass tells us what those consequences are:
The old Middle East -- an era which I believe has only recently ended -- was one in which the United States enjoyed tremendous dominance and freedom of maneuver. Oil was available at fairly low prices, the region was largely at peace. I believe largely because of the American decision to go to war in Iraq and how it has been carried out, as well as the emphasis on promoting democracy and a lack of any serious energy policy, the Middle East has considerably grown worse. It's one of history's ironies that the first war in Iraq, a war of necessity, marked the beginning of the American era in the Middle East and the second Iraq war, a war of choice, has precipitated its end.
It's not going to be as easy for Daddy's boys to get Bush out of Iraq as it was for them to keep him out of Vietnam.

16 Moderated Comments:

Blogger an average patriot said...

vigilante
A good and long post! I have posted on it many times in the past. I know you do not like long answers but since one is needed in response to this I will refrain but will only say two years ago I did a post saying he will be remembered in History as the President who brought down America and another saying he will be remembered as the worst President in U.S. History.

11/16/2006 11:09:00 AM  
Blogger Vigilante said...

I appreciate your brevity, Patriot. You can post your links in your comments, and everyone will prefer them to long comments. If you want help, email them to me.

11/16/2006 11:37:00 AM  
Blogger LittleBill said...

What continues to mystify me is why educated men around him, chose him, and what their motives were.

Many of the people who call in to C-Span sound not too well educated and come from areas where children were taught both in school and in church that you always support your president, especially in time of war, and recited the pledge of allegiance every morning. Most of us have attended schools and churches like that, but luckily some of us have somehow become critical thinkers in adult life.

11/16/2006 11:49:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that it is fairly apparent that Dubya was a front man for the cabal that surrounded his father's presidency.'A State of Denial' goes to great length to support this view. He is a man way out of his depth. The perception in Europe is that Baker has now taken charge of the White House.

11/17/2006 12:54:00 AM  
Blogger HILLBLOGGER & Hillblogger Jr said...

Vigilante,

This is the most spot on comic description of Blair and Bush I've read in a long time. (Hah! Loved it... Thanks.)

"Vigilante said...

"It may seem like a comic book sequence to you guys. On my side of the Pond, we crave such repartee. The last time we had something hot in Congress was when your Galloway came over and touched off a firecracker in storming Norm's shoes.

"Another thing. Blair may be Bush's poodle, but at least he does tricks. Bush is dumb as a stick. If you throw the stick away, the poodle will fetch it back. If you jam the stick in the ground, the poodle will dig it up. But what can a stick do on its own?

"Friday, November 17, 2006 3:13:13 AM "

11/17/2006 03:36:00 AM  
Blogger skip sievert said...

Bush is a perfect president for the time we are living in. He represents the American people very well. The American people are dumb and selfish. Bush represents those values.

This is what Democracy brings. Bush won twice.
I think we should change the term limits and let him run again. Never underestimate the stupidity of the American people.

11/17/2006 09:18:00 AM  
Blogger DB Cooper said...

Skip, do you think that the Republican turnout this year reflects a possibility that previous Bush voters put a term limit on themselves?

11/17/2006 09:42:00 AM  
Blogger skip sievert said...

Well, I don`t really have a dog in the fight of Dems and Repubs.
Substitute Hillary or Gore or Edwards and you end up with a Bush equivalent anyway.
I see no Democratic push to get rid of any of the nasty anti-human , and anti-American people legislation passed by the repubs.
Corporate masters control both party`s.
Maybe the Dems and Repubs should go the way of the Whigs.?

11/17/2006 12:07:00 PM  
Blogger The Emerson Avenger said...

"We, the American people elected an unqualified candidate for president in 2000."

Well some people would say that the American people didn't actually elect George W. Bush as President of the U.S.A. in 2000 or even in 2004. . . N'est-ce pas?

11/17/2006 08:37:00 PM  
Blogger Recidivist said...

So, Emerson, you're letting millions of my fellow Americans off the hook, eh? Gee! that was easy. We can blame everything on 5 blind SCOTUS judges?

Next time I feel guilty for anything, I'm going to look you up for some absolution.

11/17/2006 09:02:00 PM  
Blogger skip sievert said...

I am trying to read emerson avengers button. I can`t make it out though.

Proud to be a Unitarian maybe , or Hungarian.?

I believe Unitarians are a branch of the Democratic party , is that right.?

11/18/2006 05:06:00 AM  
Blogger Messenger said...

Scowcroft is quoted in the above post:

"The shared view in the region is that Iraq is principally an obsession of the U.S. The obsession of the region, however, is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict . . . . the more progress we make in the war on terrorism, and the more we are seen to be committed to resolving the Israel-Palestinian issue, the greater will be the international support for going after Saddam."

From the outset, the Bush administration was determined to reverse directions struck by the Clinton policies and the Middle East was no exception. According to ex-Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, first meeting of the NSC, 10 days after his 2001 Inauguration, Bush declared,

"We're going to correct the imbalances of the previous administration on the Mideast conflict. . . We're going to tilt it back toward Israel. And we're going to be consistent . . . . Maybe that's the best way to get things back in balance . . . . Sometimes a show of strength by one side can really clarify things."

In the aftermath of 9-11, there was hope that Bush would see the errors contained in this impulse. He did not.

11/19/2006 08:16:00 AM  
Blogger skip sievert said...

Messenger, here is some information to chew on that might make you view this in a different light.

Are we going to get out of Iraq ? Dream on as they say.
Not until until there is a way to force Iraq to use its now limited oil supply to finance the reconstruction of Iraq.
The oil has to be kept off the market world wide , at any cost, if British Petroleum and Companies are to maintain their stranglehold on the Energy Markets of the world.

Iraq could sink Saudi oil as well as the other producers -
The worlds third largest producer of oil the U.S.A. exports 30% of its production of oil. It is purchased at a premium price , as it is indeed sweet crude .
Saudi , Russia, and the U.S.A. have the biggest interest in keeping Iraqi oil of the the world markets.

If Iraqi oil was on the world market today the price of crude would be about $26 a barrel.
If Iraq was to pump 50% of its capacity, and put it in the world market , the oil prices today would be in the $12 to $14 dollar range per Bbl.
Remember , messenger that we all knew it was about oil from the start.?
In this type of a system we have, the Rules of the Game demand that scarcity be maintained to insure profit.
This has to be maintained articficialy by what we are doing and have done in Iraq.

The numbers from the above information were compiled and gotten at by Dean Cameron , another active member from the technocracy movement.

11/19/2006 04:30:00 PM  
Blogger LTE said...

Dramatic changes on Capitol Hill are not likely to lead to restoration of "centrism, moderation and pragmatism" in U.S. foreign policy. It is true that foreign policy was the crucial issue in the election. The Democrats rode to power on a wave of public discontent toward the war in Iraq.

Now Democratic leaders must scramble to build a consensus around a new Iraq policy that can attract broad public support. Democrats can entertain competing proposals for ending the U.S. military presence in Iraq by a certain date. The debate will include what measures can be taken to avert the worst-case scenarios that could ensue on our departure, with an emphasis on limiting the damage to U.S. interests and security.

If the Democrats are willing to get behind an exit strategy and rally nervous Republicans, they may yet succeed. If they fail, and if President Bush stands fast or sends even more troops into the conflict, they will at least have succeeded in bringing the distinctions between the two parties into sharper focus.

11/20/2006 05:40:00 PM  
Blogger Wysiwyg said...

The Pentagon just has one choice of three remaining options in our Iraqi play book: Go Big, Go Long, Go Home.

11/20/2006 06:53:00 PM  
Blogger skip sievert said...

Ha ha , listen , this is about keeping the Iraqi oil off the markets. Get it. It not about terrorism or Saddam or any of these political muddlings. It about making money for British Petroleum and other company`s.

Ite, could you please reread my last post above here . Slowly and carefully . Then think about it a little. Thanks.

11/20/2006 08:30:00 PM  

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