September 27, 2003

The Iraqi Underground

The Baathists do love to bury things in Iraq.

TIKRIT, Iraq - U.S. troops uncovered one of their biggest weapons caches to date Saturday at a farm near Saddam Hussein's birthplace, including anti-aircraft missiles and a huge quantity of explosives used to make the homemade bombs that have killed numerous American soldiers.
I wonder what else, aside from civilians, is buried beneath that ground.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at September 27, 2003 03:09 PM
Comments

The raped, and tortured remains of those killed by the regime and others victims of genocide as we sat by 18 years ago, and sadly our global reputation as well as our ability to use force to punish human rights abusers under a system of international laws. Imagine how much better this could have been if it was done right.

WMD's I stopped holding my breath a while ago.

Posted by: Laddy at September 27, 2003 03:57 PM

Imagine how much better this could have been if it was done right.

I agree completely, but better late than never. Let's not beat up on ourselves too much. Learn from the past, but don't live there.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 27, 2003 04:15 PM

Is there a translator available?

Posted by: RDB at September 27, 2003 04:15 PM

OK Michael, you were willing to try so I will.

The raped, and tortured remains of those killed by the regime and others victims of genocide as we sat by 18 years ago,

Eighteen years ago (1985) Iraq and Iran were in the middle of a rather bloody conflict. Both were client states of the Soviet Union (at least to the extent that the Soviets furnished the vast majority of the weaponry expended on either side - with China and France filling in wherever they could). The US had no dog in the fight and no means of achieving anything of substance with regard to the conflict. Remember - three UNSC members supplied the bulk of the arms to both sides - and the US was not one of those three. We did supply an insignificant amount of arms but percentage wise it amounted to at most 3% of the arms expended. Given those facts (all easily verifiable) what meaningful course of action was open to the US?

sadly our global reputation as well as our ability to use force to punish human rights abusers under a system of international laws.

I believe that you moved from then (1985) to now (2003). In 2003 the US is leading a coalition of 70 nations committed to enforcing 17 UNSC resolutions concerning nonperformance by Iraq of UN mandated actions. Our reputation with our coalition partners remains unsullied and our ability to use force to achieve compliance is undeniable. I suppose our reputation with the bien pensants of a few European countries may be sullied but I would submit that it began in 1787 and has rarely varied since. I am relatively unconcerned as to what the views of the various dictatorships in the area of conflict are but I doubt that they are focused on the purity of our reputation - at least in the way that I understand your meaning.

Imagine how much better this could have been if it was done right. Again, I assume that you are referring to 2003 - to which I would reply - imagine Uday spending today feeding a few more "enemies of the regime" through a shredder as the US spends more wasted time before the world debating club.

Which would you prefer?

Posted by: RDB at September 27, 2003 04:45 PM

RDB,

I assume "Laddy" meant that we should have at least verbally opposed Saddam's war against the Kurds back in the 1980s, and that we should have overthrown Saddam completely in 1991.

If that's what he meant, then I agree with him. But the bad grammar does require translation, and is open to interpretation.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 27, 2003 04:50 PM

The grammar was bad, sorry, I was trying to be a bit poetic. Michael gets my point, the genocide of the Kurds and gassing of Iranian troops is what I'm referring to.

You can argue that we are upholding international law, but our allies, even in Britain stuck their head out for us and will be unwilling to back force for a threat that's not ready to strike. Thus wars of pure defense seem possible, but members of the world community, and our allies will not stick their heads out for the kinds of values that we're supposed to help spread, democracy and human rights.

The Uday's and Qusay's of the world and future will thrive because of the way we went to war. Unless you can fix opinion in our allied states, which this administration is incapable of doing, those values seem difficult to transfer.

I will be gone from the computer for a couple of days so I'm sad to say I won't be able to argue any further.

Posted by: Laddy at September 27, 2003 06:19 PM

Laddy,

Thanks for the explanation. Have a good trip. If you read this before leaving - the gassing you refer to occured between 85 and 88 with the wirst incident with Kurds being Halabja which occured in 88. My previous comments pertain.

Had we acted unilaterally in 88 (as would have been necessary given the opposing interests of three members of the UNSC) we would have contravened the international law which you hold dear. You have therefore posed a true conumdrum: Is it moral to contravene "international law" in order to suppress mass killings (no genocide was involved with the Kurds)? If yes, then our actions in Kosovo (no genocide there either) and Iraq are moral. If no, then you place "international law" above life as an objective value. If the answer is sometimes yes and sometimes no, then a list of criteria would be useful. How many lives per day of futile discussion are acceptable to you?

Posted by: RDB at September 27, 2003 07:01 PM

"The Uday's and Qusay's of the world and future will thrive because of the way we went to war."

I have studied war from my childhood to this day. Much of the study of war is the study of what causes oppression and how oppression survives. Many people who oppose war discard the study of war because it is unpleasant. I have visited dictatorships in my life, Franco's Spain, Tito's Yugoslavia, Pinochet's Chile, and Musharraf's Egypt. From a distance I have seen Kim's North Korea, Catro's Cuba, Saudi Arabia, and Islamist Iran. Wars rarely last more than a few decades, and lately they have not lasted very long at all. Unopposed dictatorships can last for generations.

In the last two years, we have brought freedom to two oppressed nations. There is no good reason to believe that we could not have driven through Syria to the Mediterranean. Although it will take some time to stabilize Iraq with the exceptionally light casualties we are currently taking, there are very good indications that stabilization is progressing apace. Within two years, we could readily free Iran, North Korea, or anywhere the leadership acts like them.

The Uday's and Qusay's of the world are petrified because of the way we went to war. That we no longer allow diplomatic manipulation to solely determine our foriegn policies is the doom of regimes that exist on a diet of death and lies. We have shown that we will bring life and truth and that such things can thrive. Uday and Qusay's cousins no longer bind our hands, we are free from terror.

Posted by: Patrick Lasswell at September 27, 2003 11:36 PM

Ok. Lets dig up every square inch of Iraq. If the liberals are insistent that the WMD never existed, despite the fact that we are now seeing a quite clear picture that weapons were buried I say we go to the mat on this one and keep right on digging until we can shove the WMD evidence directly down the throat of the destroyed left.

I used to think that we needed two political parties - and I still do - but at this point I am so sick of the endless carping and second guessing that I have finally realized that the Democrats are not the second party we need.

Posted by: Roark at September 28, 2003 05:52 AM

Nothing to see here, move along.

Posted by: slimedog at September 28, 2003 09:27 AM

Roark,

In front of my house is a little raised plot, surrounded by a retaining wall, and filled with rubble under the dirt. My wife, mother, and I recently pulled up all the grass that was there to turn it into a nice little garden area. I was amazed at how much work it took to dig a twenty-five by ten foot (eight by three meter) piece of dirt to a depth of four inches (ten centimeters). I was astonished how much "stuff" I found in that small volume.

Under my small front yard, I could have buried a mortar, twenty mortar rounds, three RPG launchers, fifteen RPG rounds, ten AK-47's, and twelve hundred rounds for them. (I haven't, this is just a explanation of volume. North Portland was never that dangerous, and it is much better now.) Then I could have leveled the dirt, laid down weed stop fabric, covered it with bark dust, and then planted a nice ground cover. There are seven houses on the short block I live on with similar front yards. In my back yard I could bury a tank. (Although Abigail would have some sharp things to say about that!)

Unearthing all of Iraq will never be finished. Archeology teams for the millenia to come will include an Explosive Ordnace Disposal expert. Saddam Hussein knew this when he ordered weapons buried. The anti-responsibility croud knows it when they say we'll never find WMD. Screw the WMD, we're there to free the Middle East.

Posted by: Patrick Lasswell at September 28, 2003 10:04 AM

> Our reputation with our coalition partners
> remains unsullied and our ability to use force
> to achieve compliance is undeniable.

Umm, now that is a play on words. Maybe with our 'coalition partners' but not the Iraqis who died because they rose up in rebellion at our instigation....

I'm saying this as a Hungarian-American and you (I say you because I was not an American then) did the same to us (encouraged a rebellion and hinted at support but then backed down once it started).... so, I'm a bit sensitive to it.

Anyway, I love Rumsfeld... this time around he specifically said NO do not rise up (to the Iraqi people) because of what happened the last few times (including in 'Europe') when we encouraged that...

Posted by: Thomas at September 28, 2003 12:42 PM

And if we dug up all of Iraq but found no WMDs?

At what point can some people conclude that Hussein PROBABLY didn't have signficant WMDs?

I presume our WMD searchers are highly competent -- they get custody or contact with the Iraqi scientists, military, and bureaucrats who would know where the WMD's are, they offer very nice inducements for information about WMDs, they read all the documents, they do whatever competent searchers would do. I'm pretty sure that what competent searchers DON'T do is dig up every square inch of Iraq.

Let me be clear -- I don't mind that the WMDs appear to be far less significant than I thought before the invasion. The scariest thing about Gulf War I was finding out just how close Saddam was to getting nuclear weapons. Our pre-war information was of course less than perfect, and it's a good thing to err on the safe side.

Maybe we will find WMDs. Maybe real significant amounts. But given what's publicly known at this point, it seems that Hussein PROBABLY didn't have significant WMDs.

(And call me a nutcase, but perhaps we did something truly brilliant -- we forced Hussein to accept inspections again, we then got pretty sure there were no WMDs, and THEN we invaded to knock off this scum dictator. Wow. To those who favored the invasion in order to destroy Hussein, help build a liberal democracy, and start remaking the Middle East, the WMDs are a side issue anyway.)

Posted by: Oberon at September 29, 2003 07:32 AM

(And call me a nutcase, but perhaps we did something truly brilliant -- we forced Hussein to accept inspections again, we then got pretty sure there were no WMDs, and THEN we invaded to knock off this scum dictator. Wow. To those who favored the invasion in order to destroy Hussein, help build a liberal democracy, and start remaking the Middle East, the WMDs are a side issue anyway.)

Nutcase :)

Okay, tha was a cheap shot. The problem with your theory is that, by extension if we had found significant WMD then we wouldn't have invaded. Since I think we can all agree that that wouldn't have been a likely outcome, I'm not inclined to give the administration any brilliance points for this one.

Posted by: Christopher Luebcke at September 29, 2003 01:24 PM

CL -- heck, there are dozens of problems with the theory I posted.

But I respectfully disagree with your comment...the inspectors' finding WMDs (pre-invasion) would have played perfectly into the invasion plan -- we'd find & get rid of the WMDs, and we'd have clear proof of Hussein's activities to justify the invasion.

Posted by: Oberon at September 29, 2003 02:27 PM



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