Friday, December 12, 2008

For President Bush, No Regrets on Iraq

Butan Amedi, writing at World Meets America, argues that President Bush should have no regrets on his decision in 2003 to topple Saddam Hussein's regime:

Perhaps one of the Bush Administration's most courageous decisions was the removal of Saddam Hussein. Despite opposition from the United Nations, the U.S. freed a terrorized country from the grips of one of the most dangerous men in the world. In a matter of weeks, the U.S. Army was able to remove Saddam from power, an operation that sent a clear signal to other dictators in the region that they, too, could face a similar fate. The intelligence was wrong, and Saddam didn't have stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction. But nevertheless, Saddam's regime needed to be removed. He was an oppressive and brutal dictator, unwilling to cooperate with the international community and a threat to the free world.

While for President Bush, the failure of the war on Iraq seems hinged to the intelligence on WMDs, the real setback was post-war management, not a lack of WMDs. When U.S.-led forces entered Baghdad, the Iraqi government collapsed without anything to be put in its place. The lack of a proper authority created anarchy and internal disorder. Unsealed borders with Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia invited the infiltration of a huge influx of al-Qaeda-minded terrorists who carried out attacks on Coalition Forces and Iraqi citizens to further destabilize the country. The United States established the Coalition Provisional Authority led by Ambassador L. Paul Bremer, which not only proved incapable of leading Iraq, but it stamped the word “invader” on Washington, despite the fact that the CPA delivered to its promise to hand sovereignty back to Iraqis in June 2004. The CPA established a Governing Council which proved ineffective and involved a number of undemocratic opposition parties from the past to participate on the process of rebuilding the state. In 2005, the people of Iraq were provided an opportunity to elect a national government, and the majority of Iraqis voted for an Islamist, pro-Iran government to take power in Baghdad.

Those mistakes were costly, weakened America's image around the world and comforted regional dictators. While Saddam's regime was successfully removed, the Bush Administration's failed post-war management handed power to theocratic, tribal, and dictatorial parties that sponsor militia armies - some which are ideologically unfriendly to the West.

Prior to the American intervention, we continuously heard speeches about efforts to transform Iraq into a model democracy at the heart of the Middle East. Without doubt, the Bush Administration worked sincerely to democratize Iraq and its efforts cost U.S. tax-payers trillions of dollars. But the Bush government's methods of state-building were unsuitable for this region. Five years have elapsed since the end of major combat operations, and yet there is precious little stability and democracy in the country.

America's post-war management could have been more effective and cost much less. The United States should have trained and immediately brought in a team of independent technocrats to fill the gap created after the collapse of Saddam's regime. A cabinet, representative in its make-up, could have led the country far more effectively than Ambassador Bremer - and even the undemocratic parties currently in power. They would undoubtedly have prioritized building state institutions before holding elections and would have paved the way for a democratic, civil and secular government. Unfortunately, the decisions made after the war are irreversible and can't be done over - even by President-elect Obama. Meanwhile, contrary to pre-war speeches by Bush Administration officials, Iraq is shifting closer toward theocracy every day.

According to the SOFA agreement, the United States must leave Iraq in 2011. The world is doubtlessly safer without Saddam Hussein, but Iraq has no effective government. President-elect Obama must ensure that Iraq's parties tackle the real challenges confronting the country, like corruption, militia armies, a new oil law, disputed Arabized areas [parts of Kurdistan populated by Arabs under Saddam] and regional interference. Before the United States completely leaves, Iraq must have an effective government.

23 comments:

Van Zan said...

Saddam was the scum of the Earth. However...

Thousands of Americans dead. Tens, perhaps hundreds, of thousands of Iraqi civilians dead in a resulting civil war. A lighting rod for the recruiting of terrorists. Faith in the intelligence services further undermined (after 9-11). Allies either sharing the body-count or profoundly alienated. A litany of logistical and administrative failures. The advice of military leaders sneered at by Rumsfeld.

Is the thrust of Amedi's article that Bush has reason to regret everything ...other than actual decision to invade, and thus Bush is ultimately a well-intentioned buffoon?
Are we to excuse Bush then?
If so...

"Unfortunately, the decisions made after the war are irreversible and can't be done over - even by President-elect Obama."

Ironic, but...
I don't think Obama will be so excused for similar practical failure - as Bush appears to being excused for so many practical failures - in stabilizing a situation that Bush's failures created. People will not settle for less than success. Why should they?

Donald Douglas said...

No regrets, Van Zan. Bush did right by staying the course, and staying true to moral values.

Van Zan said...

I agree in only so much as abandoning the Iraqi people to a worse bloodbath, when the occupation was proving difficult, would have been immoral.

But the invasion was strategically unsound and sold to the American people on a pretext that was false, and the Iraqi people did not want us there in the first place.

Donald Douglas said...

"But the invasion was strategically unsound and sold to the American people on a pretext that was false..."

No, that's the big lie. All the major democracies, plus even states in the Mideast, believed Saddam had WMD. In fact, we would have never known the scale of Iraq's armament program in the absence of the invasion. Blix and crew would have been ejected once again, when Baghdad built up its program and arsenals, in time to launch new rounds of imperial aggression across the region.

You're suffering from BDS if you can't look at the facts logically. Mistakes were made, but not only by the administration. And once the war was begun, the antiwar left and top Dems engaged in a traitorous campaign to stab American forces in the back and bring about a defeat for partisan gain.

I certainly would hope you're not in those ignominious company.

Van Zan said...

Donald,

Yes, the major democracies did believe Saddam had WMDs. But none were found. The intelligence was either wrong or incomplete. Ergo the pretext was false. I didn't say it was a lie, just wrong.

Neither can a WMD program only be destroyed militarily by nothing less than a full-scale ground invasion, followed by the total reconstruction of a country.

I'm not a traitorous anything. Please be a little more cautious about throwing that kind of charge around.
I want the military deployed with correct intelligence, in the way that is most effective, and gets as few of our people killed as possible. Fair enough?

You and I will not see eye to eye on this, as you have no doubts at all as to whether the invasion was a good idea, whereas I do have concerns. But that does not make us mortal enemies, for my part anyway, or in complete disagreement over everything.

Grace Explosion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Van Zan said...

So Grace...
if I understand you correctly, you renounce your citizenship, denounce America, and declare yourself her enemy.
?
That's so cute.
Now go watch some TV.

Anonymous said...

Grace, you live in Michigan, do you not? To my knowledge, there is not even a fledgling secession movement in Michigan as there is, at least, nominally in Alaska, Vermont and Texas. Can you explain how you propose to secede from the evil that surrounds you?

JD said...

The invasion of Iraq was immoral.

Van Zan said...

JD

Hypothetical:
If Saddam really had imminent WMD capability and missile strikes or commando operations failed, so that full invasion remained the only way of stopping Saddam using them... do you still think it would have been immoral?

It's not a rhetorical question, I am interested to know what you think.

TRUTH 101 said...

I have to take issue with Grace regarding her comment about "their religion." Islam is no more good or evil than any other religion. Islam has been hijacked by thugs to impose their rule. It's up to Islamics to take back their religion. We can't do it for them.

On other issues, I thought this post from "The Nutty Professor" was quite humorous. Is this Butan Amedi fellow Dean Martin to your Jerry Lewis sir?

JBW said...

Hey, you guys quit picking on Grace; she's trying as hard as she can. Now Grace, make sure you remember to spit your chewing gum out before you start typing again, honey: we wouldn't want you choking again.

Seriously though, the reason Bush has no regrets on Iraq is because he's utterly immune to reality. Knowing that he's right saves him the trouble of having to think; his confidence could double as Stephen Colbert's id.

Michael Tuggle said...

DD said: "All the major democracies, plus even states in the Mideast, believed Saddam had WMD. In fact, we would have never known the scale of Iraq's armament program in the absence of the invasion. Blix and crew would have been ejected once again, when Baghdad built up its program and arsenals, in time to launch new rounds of imperial aggression across the region."

How can you continue publishing that lie?

The intelligence services of France, Germany, and Russia knew Saddam did not have WMD, and openly tried to prevent the US from invading Iraq. The jingoists responded by renaming "French fries."

US weapons inspector Scott Ritter tried unsuccessfully to warn us Saddam had no WMD. Saddam's foreign minister and intelligence chief told the CIA that Saddam did not have WMD. Chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix warned us there were no WMD in Iraq - and his inspectors were IN IRAQ until Bush ordered them out just before he ordered the invasion. The International Atomic Energy Agency, as well as the US Department of Energy and the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence knew there were no WMD in Iraq.

Remember Cheney's unprecedented visits to CIA analysts, and Feith's special office for massaging intelligence? Bush clearly wanted war.

As Scott McClellan, Bush's press secretary, revealed after he left office, the Bush administration manipulated information in a “propaganda” campaign before the Iraq war.

So who's guilty of " imperial aggression"?

The Vegas Art Guy said...

So what about all the yellow cake that was brought in secrecy from Iraq to the US via Canada?

When did that stuff not become a WMD?

Dave Miller said...

Unless I am mistaken, the stated purpose of entering Iraq was to remove WMD, not the removal of Saddam.

His removal was a by product of the war, not the reason, as stated by the Bush Admin.

I harbor no illusions that Bush purposely mislead us about WMD. Donald, you are right in that the majority of the world apparently believed that Iraq had WMD, Scott Ritter's warnings notwithstanding.

But Bush was wrong. Rumsfeld was wrong. And everyone else who said Iraq had WMD were wrong. Even Bush admitted as such.

So I am left to wait for our President to answer the question of which we already know the answer.

If you knew then what you know now regarding WMD, would you still have invaded?

Of course Bush, and Condi Rice dismiss the question because to answer it would expose their pre war bias for a conflict with Iraq.

Iraq, governed by an idiot tyrant, presented no clear and present danger to the US or Israel. We had daily flyovers, and if they moved to expand their borders, we could have then acted.

This war was a war of choice, not necessity. Countless people did not have to die.

Michael Tuggle said...

vegas art guy,

Um, that straw has aleady been grabbed at and abandoned by the laptop bombardiers. The yellow cake uranium you refer to was not weapons grade and was already registered with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Why do you think Bush has said "his biggest regret is the failure of intelligence over Iraqi weapons"? Hint: he's admitting he was WRONG. Give it up.

Donald Douglas said...

"Iraq, governed by an idiot tyrant, presented no clear and present danger to the US or Israel."

Wrong...Dave Miller:

The Carter Doctrine of guaranteeing a stable Middle East and securing American's vital interests was invoked numerous times as a key justification for the war. Again, the toppling of the regime for all the reasons mentioned was necessary to uphold all the U.N. resolutions and to prevent greater instability and nuclear terror in the region.

Bush should have no regrets.

Dave Miller said...

Donald, if Bush has no regrets, he should just say so.

But, again, the facts are that the American people were given a reason, WMD, to disarm Iraq that turned out to be false.

I am sure you will not dispute that as even Bush admits there were no WMD.

So, if we were to go back and take that issue off the table, would the American people have supported a war of choice against Iraq?

I think not, and I believe the Bush Admin knew that going in, and for that reason, as we have since learned from multiple sources, chose WMD as their pretext for this war.

As to a clear and present danger, can you please tell me what that was? Not even Rice used that language, choosing instead a "grave and gathering threat."

As for stability in Middle East, I think even the most charitable of analysts would say that the Middle East is less stable today than before the invasion and that Bush's war against Iraq is primarily responsible.

Michael Tuggle said...

Dave Miller,

You're debating with what Hoffer would recognize as a "True Believer." Nothing you say will change his faith.

What does DD worship? Check out the name of his blog.

Van Zan said...

Bush DOES have regrets.

He said:

"They had a sign that said 'Mission Accomplished.' It was a sign aimed at the sailors on the ship, but it conveyed a broader knowledge. To some it said, well, Bush thinks the war in Iraq is over, when I didn't think that. But nonetheless, it conveyed the wrong message"

and
"I regret saying some things I shouldn't have said. Like 'dead or alive' and 'bring 'em on.' My wife reminded me that, hey, as president of the United States, be careful what you say."

If the man has any decency at all - and I don't demons everyone I disagree with so I believe he does - then he SHOULD have regrets. To not have them is a claim of infallibility.

People DIED that didn't need to. Some are maimed for life. That's gotta be regrettable.

Michael Tuggle said...

Van Zan said:

"People DIED that didn't need to. Some are maimed for life. That's gotta be regrettable."

Yeah -- if one has a conscience.

JD said...

Yes, VanZan, the invasion of Iraq would still be immoral, and unconstitutional.

cracker said...

Regrets or not....

at the end of the day,

pre-emptive strikes of the Bush kind

are still called vigillantiism.

Vigilantiism is still what gets the wrong people killed.....it is illegal, immoral, unethical and down right couter productive whe it comes down to it.

Accountability is all that is necessary now......trial, and if found guilty.....the corresponding punishment any over zealous God Fearing Cowboy might get after the massacre of the innocent.