Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The "Undisputed" Facts (Or, What I Think Reasonable People Should Agree On)

Let it be known first off that I am, for all intents and purposes a supporter of the war in Iraq. I supported the war in the beginning (with some reservations about timing), and my support really has not wavered. That being said, I recognize that a lot of mistakes have been made in Iraq, and a lot of things went down in a way they shouldn't have. Regardless, it is clear to me that we were justified in removing Saddam, and while he was not directly involved in 9/11, he was a long-term threat that needed to be dealt with. The debate over this war, and the justifications will rage on for years to come. There is plenty of room for debate on the war, pro or con, but I submit that in order to have an honest and serious debate of this war (and the larger War on Terror), reasonable people must recognize these seven facts to be undisputed:

1. America was hit with an unprovoked attack on 9/11, by radical Islamists who want to destroy us. Nearly 3,000 Americans were killed. America did NOTHING to deserve this attack.

2. America has an obligation to confront all clear terrorist threats. This does not always mean open war, but if military force is required, we must be ready.

3. Saddam Hussein was a brutal, murderous dictator, who committed genocidal acts against his own people. He invaded his neighbors, and at one point had WMDs. He used them against his own people, and had clear designs to use them against us at one point.

4. Saddam's removal is a good thing for the free world, and for the Iraqi people.

This is a value judgment, but one I think all of us should agree on.

5. The war was not illegal, as it was backed by U.N resolution, and the Iraq War Resolution in Congress.

6. Our troops, all of them, are heroes, who are fighting for a noble cause.

Again, another value judgment, but also one I think reasonable people can agree upon.

7. Criticism of the war is not treason, and support for the war is not apology for war crimes. Iraq is not a war crime.

These are things the all of us ought to agree upon, regardless of ideology, if we are really serious about fighting terror. Just so you know, I'm not the biggest fan of this Administration, and one could say that I support the war in spite of Bush. Many on the Left in this country really can't seem to move beyond Bush, and many on the right can't seem to suffer any criticism of him. This war on terror isn't about Bush. This war doesn't end when his term is up. We're in this for the long haul.

Considering Iraq, it's my view that a premature withdrawal is bad for everybody. I respect those who sincerely believe the contrary, but I fail to see how pulling out now helps. Perhaps gradual drawdowns can happen in the future, but many people are calling for immediate pullouts or artificial timetables. This is a flawed approach. Especially when this is real progress being made.

Before you accuse me of carrying the water for the GOP, I recognize that there are real problems. Civil war may very well come. However, real work has been done by Allied and Iraqi troops. It seems that many in the press can't resist the "if it bleeds, it leads" impulse, and only seem to focus on the negative. Some take this further, imposing their own antiwar biases on their reporting. This really does happen. Of course, the Bush-friendly press seems to only focus on the favorable coverage, and is less inclined to report the negative. Often these stories are less focused on Iraq, than trying to make Democrats look like the enemy. Their coverage is tainted with pro-war (and pro-Bush) bias, and is just as bad.

The fact is, a lot of great journalists of all stripes are doing good reporting in Iraq, that's balanced. This needs to increase.

The point of all this that all of us need to deal in sense when dealing with these issues. I've had enough of both the "Liberals are traitors" mantras, and the "Bush lied, millions died" mantras. Enough of this talk of impeachment. Enough of this talk about prosecuting journalists. This has been said to death but it bears repeating: This war is the central front on the war on terror. It doesn't matter how we got there, we're here now, and we must focus on the here and now.

Bush and the Republicans will take a hit of the prosecution of the war, and the numerous other GOP screw-ups. Most of this the GOP brought on themselves, but no political outcome should lead to a pullout of troops too early. Bush has said that he's leaving the troops in Iraq for the foreseeable future. I support him on that. Not for his sake, but for the sake of the mission, and our brave troops fighting it.

11 comments:

plez... said...

Rafique,

I found (and replied to) this post over at Booker Rising, but thought I should come over here and post my response as well. Here are my comments on your seven undisputed facts:
(1) The attacks on 9/11 had nothing to do with Iraq. To this day, there has been no credible evidence to link Osama Bin Laden with anyone in Iraq.

(2) I agree that the United States must confront all CLEAR terrorist threats and we must be ready to use military force, BUT what does this have to do with the war in Iraq? The Bush Adminstration never demonstrated a link between Iraq and these terrorist threats.

(3) Saddam Hussein is a very bad man, I agree. But what in the HECK does that have to do with the United States? There are a number of "brutal and murderous dictators" wandering around the face of the earth (can you say, "North Korea"? I thought you could!). And we never proved that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction like what is currently under development in North Korea.

(4) Hussein's removal was a good thing for a sizable population of the Iraqi people, but for some reason I don't recall his reach of tyrrany going any farther than his own borders. The United States has stood by and witnessed genocidal acts in other countries (Bosnia, Rwanda, and Sudan come to mind) and never lifted a finger, why Iraq?

(5) The U.N. Resolution and the Iraq War Resolution were based on the assumption that we'd discover the ghostly weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) that have yet to be uncovered.

(6) "Our troops are fighting a noble cause" is not a FACT... that is YOUR opinion! It is noble for our troops to give their lives for our country, but your argument has not established the nobility of the Cause.

(7) Open criticism is what makes democracy work, so I agree that it is not treason. I agree that "support of the war is not an apology for war crimes," but I also feel that support for the war is foolish and without basis (just alittle more criticism)!

Anonymous said...

Dude u r too young, and u should study more history and cultures other than US

Ethan Epstein said...

To your excellent list of facts, I would add one more:

The undeniable ties with terrorists that Saddam's regime forged in its declining years. The Weekly Standard just discovered another; Saddam had provided funding for radical jidhadist groups based in the Phillipines. So much for his vaunted "secularism." I'm waiting for a rebuttal to this; just because Jon Stewart repeats time and again that Saddam "had no terrorist ties" doesn't make it true.

Rafique Tucker said...

plez,

If you look closer, you'll see that clarified #6 as a value judgment, although I find it hard to dispute my assertion.

The case for war, while based largely on the threat of WMDs, went beyond WMDs.

plez... said...

Rafique,

I love your blog, but man, you are way to young to be such a hawk!

The case for war was built solely on the threat of WMDs (and because we felt that Saddam Hussein was playing footsy with the UN inspectors who were looking for them). That when Colin Powell went before the UN with his falsified allegations about Iraq's attempt to by yellow cake uranium in Africa and Condi Rice running around whipping up a scare about "mushroom clouds."

George W. then pulled out the Inspectors and we started dropping bombs on Bagdad.

The "other" cases for war came AFTER the occupation when the WMD case was found to be empty.

Oh yeah, about "Undisputed Fact #6": I originally read and replied to your post over on Booker Rising, and your "value judgement" statement was not included there. I apologize for any misunderstanding BUT I still don't agree that the Iraqi War is a noble cause.

Anonymous said...

I'm at a loss....if you truly believe this is such a noble cause why are you not enlisted in the military?

Ethan Epstein said...

give me a break, anonomys.

we are a liberal democracy - meaning civilians are allowed to intone about military matters.

want otherwise? move to china.

Anonymous said...

calling it a noble cause and being abled body to participate in that cause rings a little hollow...which you are very correct about...you can stand on the rooftop and shout it....just as Mr Cheney (I had better things to do with my time) said.

Anonymous said...

What I meant to say was...calling it a noble cause and being abled body to participate in that cause and choosing not to participate in that cause rings a little hollow...which you are very correct about...you can stand on the rooftop and shout it....just as Mr Cheney (I had better things to do with my time) said.

Rafique Tucker said...

Plez,

I'm a kind of cautious hawk. I just think we need to confront those threats that face us, before it's too late to stop them. You may not think Iraq was a sufficient enough threat. We just disagree on that, but that's cool. I'm not a saber-rattler, we should never rush into war, but we should also consider the long-term foreign policy view as well.

Chad Evans said...

Very interesting blog and great post. I found this via a comment you left at Michael Totten's site. I too believe we should at least agree to your seven points and I don't know how people, such as Plez, can't. In an effort to possibly make this comment thread more lively, there are some points in which Plez makes that are not entirely accurate.

"(1) The attacks on 9/11 had nothing to do with Iraq. To this day, there has been no credible evidence to link Osama Bin Laden with anyone in Iraq."

There is credible evidence linking the two but there is no smoking gun implying Saddam and OBL joined forces. This argument was never made anywhere with the exception of the counter-argument in a political season. Links do not equate collaboration, so we shouldn't shy away from pointing out links. Remember, a factory linked to both OBL and Iraq was bombed in Sudan.

The Iraqi regime openly supported Palestinian terrorists and this fact cannot be disputed. The same ideology that attacked this nation on 9/11 was being trained and supported in Iraq to "liberate Palestine."

"(2) I agree that the United States must confront all CLEAR terrorist threats and we must be ready to use military force, BUT what does this have to do with the war in Iraq? The Bush Adminstration never demonstrated a link between Iraq and these terrorist threats."

The war resolution listed a number of reasons to go to war in Iraq, WMDs and links to terrorism were only two of those reasons. Can we all agree Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was and still is a member of Al Qaida? Well, then what he was doing in Iraq setting up the Army of Ansar al-Sunnah prior to the invasion should be discussed. Also the same Saddam funding and training of a Palestinian terrorist group should suffice in this argument.

"(3) Saddam Hussein is a very bad man, I agree. But what in the HECK does that have to do with the United States? There are a number of "brutal and murderous dictators" wandering around the face of the earth (can you say, "North Korea"? I thought you could!). And we never proved that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction like what is currently under development in North Korea."

I agree with much of this, but this fails to put into perspective the thinking in a post-9/11 world where it is not nations that normally breed terrorism but rather, or so Bush argues, political factors. Bush's gamble is that Democracy will eventually outride radical Islam. I don't believe that will ever work, but that doesn't mean we should not at least support this venture.

Look to the elections in Palestine as a prime example of what Democracy can do. Yes, Hamas was elected democratically and that, on face value, is not a good thing. But Hamas is also struggling right now without international aid and their campaign promises to turn Palestine into a welfare state will fail without the funds to do so. In the short term, this will turn Hamas more hostile, but in the long-term there is good reason to believe Palestinians will realize they cannot elect a government that will not receive any international support. Iran, for their part, is upping the ante to Hamas, but are Iran's coffers deep enough to do so and prop up Hezbollah, Syria and their own nuclear program? I don't believe so, but only time will tell.

"(4) Hussein's removal was a good thing for a sizable population of the Iraqi people, but for some reason I don't recall his reach of tyrrany going any farther than his own borders. The United States has stood by and witnessed genocidal acts in other countries (Bosnia, Rwanda, and Sudan come to mind) and never lifted a finger, why Iraq?"

Again, I think this is looking at this entire issue in too small of a spectrum. As an isolationist at heart I cannot find a problem with this way of thinking on most issues, but the threat of radical Islamic terrorism looms larger than my core set of values. Also ask the familes of dead Israelis if Saddam's reach was outside Iraqi borders.

"(5) The U.N. Resolution and the Iraq War Resolution were based on the assumption that we'd discover the ghostly weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) that have yet to be uncovered."

True, but WMDs were only one part of the entire resolution. Certainly this one reason has been carried more loudly than the others and the lack of finding any stockpiles remains a huge stain on the intelligence community in the United States and several other nations.

"(6) "Our troops are fighting a noble cause" is not a FACT... that is YOUR opinion! It is noble for our troops to give their lives for our country, but your argument has not established the nobility of the Cause."

Is it not noble to try to bring freedom to others, to stop genocide or to prevent a nation's soil from being used as a terrorist training camp? There are three known training camps to have been inside Iraq. Perhaps the most famous of those was attacked in the opening day of the campaign and in it we found what has been described as a "terrorist phone book." Included in those names were two men from New York that ended up being arrested in a sting operation when they were trying to purchase a shoulder-fired rocket to attack a Pakistani diplomat.

"(7) Open criticism is what makes democracy work, so I agree that it is not treason. I agree that "support of the war is not an apology for war crimes," but I also feel that support for the war is foolish and without basis (just alittle more criticism)!"

But there is basis to support the war, you just may not agree with those arguments just as I probably don't agree with most of your arguments against it. Rafique is correct that there are things that we should all agree upon, and in my opinion including some of those I brought up above. You can't dispute facts, but you can argue whether the facts should have led this nation to war. If both sides were more honest in this entire debate, a debate that should have been had long before the first bomb was dropped and to a degree was in Congress, all of these misconceptions over the war would be less prevelant.

The fact of the matter is that regardless of whether you supported the war or were against it before it was waged, we are actually fighting the same ideological enemy that has killed thousands of Americans in the past and not just in New York, Washington D.C. or in Pennsylvania. That fact cannot be disputed. Why then is it the best course of action to withdraw now telling Al Qaida once again we will drop out of a conflict once there is heat put on our nation? That's the absolute wrong message to send.