August 9, 2003

A hard-look at false impressions ...

I made the mistake of taking a look at Al Gore's speech to moveon.org...Now I have to bore you with my comments. Says Al:

The direction in which our nation is being led is deeply troubling to me -- not only in Iraq but also here at home on economic policy, social policy and environmental policy.

Millions of Americans now share a feeling that something pretty basic has gone wrong in our country and that some important American values are being placed at risk. And they want to set it right.
Uh, Al, are those, as who should say, Mainstream Americans? Hmmm?
The way we went to war in Iraq illustrates this larger problem. Normally, we Americans lay the facts on the table, talk through the choices before us and make a decision.
You shoulda been a Civics teacher...
But that didn't really happen with this war -- not the way it should have. And as a result, too many of our soldiers are paying the highest price, for the strategic miscalculations, serious misjudgments, and historic mistakes that have put them and our nation in harm's way.
Yes, I remember how no one talked about Iraq. Dead silence. No protests, no debate. Probably poor Al Gore wasn't even aware that we might invade...
I'm convinced that one of the reasons that we didn't have a better public debate before the Iraq War started is because so many of the impressions that the majority of the country had back then turn out to have been completely wrong. Leaving aside for the moment the question of how these false impressions got into the public's mind, it might be healthy to take a hard look at the ones we now know were wrong and clear the air so that we can better see exactly where we are now and what changes might need to be made.
We wuz Brainwashed! False Impressions were trickled into our ears while we slept. Drip, drip, drip...
In any case, what we now know to have been false impressions include the following:

(1) Saddam Hussein was partly responsible for the attack against us on September 11th, 2001, so a good way to respond to that attack would be to invade his country and forcibly remove him from power.
A "Progressive" like Saddam support terrorists? Preposterous. You're right Al, he should still be in power. Dems should emphasize that.
(2) Saddam was working closely with Osama Bin Laden and was actively supporting members of the Al Qaeda terrorist group, giving them weapons and money and bases and training, so launching a war against Iraq would be a good way to stop Al Qaeda from attacking us again.
Silly idea, everybody knows that crushing defeats only spur Arabs to fight harder..
(3) Saddam was about to give the terrorists poison gas and deadly germs that he had made into weapons which they could use to kill millions of Americans. Therefore common sense alone dictated that we should send our military into Iraq in order to protect our loved ones and ourselves against a grave threat.
Democrat Common Sense says that using force to protect ourselves is Fascism. Speak up Al, the people are waiting to hear it...
(4) Saddam was on the verge of building nuclear bombs and giving them to the terrorists. And since the only thing preventing Saddam from acquiring a nuclear arsenal was access to enriched uranium, once our spies found out that he had bought the enrichment technology he needed and was actively trying to buy uranium from Africa, we had very little time left. Therefore it seemed imperative during last Fall's election campaign to set aside less urgent issues like the economy and instead focus on the congressional resolution approving war against Iraq.
I thought you just said we didn't have a debate? Now you say we ignored the economy to debate Iraq. Actually at that time you Dems were squirming like mad to avoid debate and to avoid taking positions.
(5) Our GI's would be welcomed with open arms by cheering Iraqis who would help them quickly establish public safety, free markets and Representative Democracy, so there wouldn't be that much risk that US soldiers would get bogged down in a guerrilla war.
Well, that is exactly what is happening. But you have to understand that in the real world, "quickly" means months, or even a year or two.
(6) Even though the rest of the world was mostly opposed to the war, they would quickly fall in line after we won and then contribute lots of money and soldiers to help out, so there wouldn't be that much risk that US taxpayers would get stuck with a huge bill.
You would save money by bribing the Belgians to pretend to help out. Instead, like the Little Red Hen, we are doing it ourselves. The job will actually get done, and we will save in the long run. (And the bill isn't that huge on the scale of warfare. Much cheaper than having to do the job over again)
Now, of course, everybody knows that every single one of these impressions was just dead wrong.
Yes, lots of impressions were dead wrong. How about those millions of civilian casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq? The backlash from the "Arab Street" that would make us less safe, not more? Recruits flocking to terrorist orgs? Gas attacks by Iraq (which had, of course, no WMD's). Cholera. War (and even worse, the dreaded "instability") spreading across the Middle East! And there were going to be refugees, Al, streaming out of Iraq and Afghanistan into UN camps. Remember them? And the tribes of Afghanistan and Iraq were going to tear each other apart like mad dogs once the thrice-blessed "stability" provided by "strong leaders" like Saddam was gone...

Posted by John Weidner at August 9, 2003 3:03 PM
Weblog by John Weidner