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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Iraq War Anniversary

Posted by on Wed, Mar 20, 2013 at 6:00 AM

It was yesterday. In Iraq, bombs took the lives of 65 people. In America, polls showed a solid majority thinking the whole thing was a mistake. On Twitter, Donald Rumsfeld remained unapologetic.


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AFinch 1
Well, you know, if Don Rumsfeld is lucky, he'll be dead before it comes to be seen as not just a mistake, but an abject failure pushed by dishonest ideologues.

What I remember about the talk at the time was how this was proof America had moved beyond "Vietnam Syndrome" which was taken to mean that we'd gotten our interventionist Mojo - another way of saying our hubris - back and were all set to start to just kick ass and take names.

I think there is some truth to the notion that it put the Vietnam war to bed finally, but by surpassing and eclipsing it as failed Imperialistic Interventionalism.

There were plenty of us who objected to this - not because we're complete doves or accomodationists who refuse to engage in any kind of violence, even when we are legitimately threatened, but because it was entirely clear before the war that there was no way to accomplish "democracy" by external force and because it was quite clear there was no threat to the US anyway.

At least Rumsfeld - alone among the warmongers - actually wore the uniform once in his life. Perle and Feith should be tarred and feathered at the very least.
Posted by AFinch on March 20, 2013 at 6:47 AM · Report this
Is Danny apologetic?
Posted by Being an Asshole means never having to say you're sorry on March 20, 2013 at 6:55 AM · Report this
Abe Frohman 3
Don't recall Wolfowitz, Cheney or Kristol ever wearing the uniform either.
Posted by Abe Frohman on March 20, 2013 at 6:57 AM · Report this
If those guys had an ounce of decency in their souls, they would have committed seppuku by now.
Posted by Joel_are on March 20, 2013 at 8:04 AM · Report this
pdonahue 5… Better late than never, I was wondering if the Stranger was going to bring up this shameful anniversary in their editorial history. For people who don't know, Dan Savage and Criss Frizelle were war apologists, almost worse than unapologetic war boosters in my mind.
At least asshats who remain supportive of almost 5000 dead US soldiers, 2000 vet suicides, not to mention the uncounted dead in Iraq, have a principal they stand by, chicken hawks like the now silent Stranger eds maintain a 'just kidding' disaffected smirk of indifference, as if the above cited editorial was a passing fancy, now replaced by advice about butt plugs.
I only hope Stanger staff will read these archives and ask themselves if they want to be remembered this way the next time our government goes on a murderous rampage somewhere else.
Posted by pdonahue on March 20, 2013 at 8:24 AM · Report this
@5: Congratulations, you just now figured out that some Stranger writers will say anything for a page view.
Posted by treehugger on March 20, 2013 at 8:41 AM · Report this
lark 7
It might be worth noting, that then Senators Clinton, Kennedy and Biden endorsed the Iraq War with their vote. We will never know for sure whether Obama would have endorsed the resolution or not as he wasn't a member of the Senate at the time of the vote.
Posted by lark on March 20, 2013 at 9:09 AM · Report this
Today's editorial from the New York Times says:

Iraq is a reminder of the need for political leaders to ask the right questions before allowing military action and to listen honestly rather than acting on ideological or political impulses.

Ha! Where was the NYT and most of the media with the most elementary questions and skepticism? They were collaborators, not truth-tellers.

The only thing more maddeningly hilarious is the post on the website of Andrew Sullivan - not mentioning the role he played - scolding the NYT for not holding themselves more accountable. Sullivan's mea culpa 5 years ago in Slate doesn't scratch the surface of his gullibility and insane bluster for GW Bush and his Iraq war. Head kasplodes!
Posted by cgd on March 20, 2013 at 9:23 AM · Report this
rob! 9
In other interventionist news, the CIA-backed former dictator of Guatemala, José Efraín Ríos Montt, is now on trial for "genocide and crimes against humanity."
Posted by rob! on March 20, 2013 at 9:25 AM · Report this
Simply Me 10
Jail them all.
Posted by Simply Me on March 20, 2013 at 9:44 AM · Report this
About fucking time. No mention of The Strangers complicity?

It was ridiculously conspicuous how The Stranger was the ONLY left-leaning pub in the country that never mentioned the 10 year anniversary of the Iraq invasion yesterday. Oh. Yeah. That's right. Your editors were enthusiastically FOR slaughtering Iraqi women and children. Everybody likes to forget.

Well. What a coincidence.

"Say Yes to War" was the head line.…

And of course there was the follow up where Dan lamented with some of the most tortured logic ever to be set in print that Bush wasn't going kill enough Ay-rabs. No. Dan wanted him to invade Syria and Suadi Arabia. So he was suddenly agaist the war. Kind of. "For now." I read again yesterday and it turned my stomach.

Clearly word was out at The Stranger to not mention it yesterday. But why the change of heart? Could it be all the references to Dans column from places like Metafilter etc? I wonder if Eli will get shit for bringing it up now?

Nobody likes to be reminded when they were wronge. Espescially so when neing wrong leads to the deaths of humdred of thoisands of people. The great shame is appeartly the rewards for being the lackeys of Chicken Hawks is very high becuase every so-called liberal who cheered for war got all sorts of exposure and career boosts. And those media voices agaist it were mostly ghettoized.

If Savage truly ever regretted his disastrous opinion he would've stepped down as editor. But no. That would've required some sort of honor.

Posted by tkc on March 20, 2013 at 9:47 AM · Report this
DOUG. 12
The worst part about "Say 'YES' to War on Iraq" was how fucking condescending it was. Dan Savage couldn't stop our idiot president from invading Iraq, but he could've had a little more respect for those of us who opposed it.
Posted by DOUG. on March 20, 2013 at 9:58 AM · Report this
raindrop 13
@11: You've been really stewing about this for 10 years, haven't you? Here are some of the Democratic Senators who voted for the Iraq War Resolution:
- Hillary Clinton
- Dianne Feinstein
- Joseph Biden
- Christopher Dodd
- Joseph Liebermann (now Ind)
- Evan Bayh
- Tom Harkin
- Harry Reid
- Maria Canwell
- Jay Rockefeller

Now, if all these rather thoughtful Democratic Senators at the time evaluated not only the CIA inelligence, but British, UN, and NATO intelligence and came to the conclusion to vote yes, and have since gone on to other careers, still or in the Senate, and one even to the current Vice Presidency, then surely you should have the grace and decorum at this point to excuse Dan Savage for his editorial opinion at the time, and who has gone on to other things as well (Frizzelle is editor now).

Humans, and animals for that matter, can't be held accountable for actions they take based on the intelligence they have at the time.

Still ruminating about this is not healthy.
Posted by raindrop on March 20, 2013 at 10:24 AM · Report this
@13 What intelligence?
Bush Clings To Dubious Allegations About Iraq
Published on Tuesday, March 18, 2003 by the Washington Post…
Posted by cgd on March 20, 2013 at 10:43 AM · Report this
Matt from Denver 15
@ 6, yeah, and we also know that some people (you and @5) who are pure ideologues who will never forgive someone who has changed their positions and (IIRC) apologized for them. You suck MUCH more, for the record.
Posted by Matt from Denver on March 20, 2013 at 10:44 AM · Report this
Matt from Denver 16
@ 13, there was no "good" intelligence at the time. I knew for a fact that Saddam had no WMD's, and all I ever read was the news. The Dems who voted for it did so out of political expediency. From a pragmatic viewpoint, that was probably the best thing for them to do given the political reality of the moment, but they still can't be given a pass for accepting cooked information over the fact that UN inspectors never found anything in Iraq.

Anyway, it happened, and it must be dealt with. I don't know if your last statement is meant to mean "just let it go," but there have been too many major consequences to do that. We must learn, and not let future hawkish neo-conservative administrations get away with this.
Posted by Matt from Denver on March 20, 2013 at 10:49 AM · Report this
@12 No kidding. Not to mention the barely disguised racism in his constant belaboring of "Islamo-Fascism." Funny how he doesn't use that term as much.

@13 Dan directly rejects "the intelligence" you claim was so wrong and so convincing and rather fully embraces the entire doctrine of Pre-emptive war.

Dan didn't care about WMD and the rest of that bullshit (and everybody knew it was bullshit). He clearly states that the West needed to invade Syria, Saudi Arabia AND Iraq and "clean up our mess."

In fact his temporary "reversal" on the eve of invasion was in part predicated on the fact that for some reason we couldn't convince enough allies (like NATO) to help out on our phony-baloney war. Now why would a fifty year alliance not be keen on invading and occupying a middle east country? Hmmmmm. Because they KNEW all the intelligence was trumped up horseshit and the war would devolve into total cluster fuck and they said as much at the time. AS did the US Army War College, BTW.

There very definition of a Warmonger is the embracing of pre-emptive war as a tool of state.

Dan was, and maybe still is, a warmonger. And everybody, especially yourself, need to be reminded that idiotic and immoral position lead to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. All for nothing.

BTW. Laying in a state of cognitive dissonance about your "innocence" is much, much, more unhealthy.

Posted by tkc on March 20, 2013 at 10:54 AM · Report this
@15 Dan never apologized. Never.
Posted by tkc on March 20, 2013 at 10:55 AM · Report this
Max Solomon 19
Yeah, the Savage & Frizelle were duped, but in the end, it didn't matter. We were going to war no matter what 10% of intelligent Americans said or did.

As @13 noted, the Dems caved to the propaganda and the laughable, obvious lies of the * Administration (you know who didn't? the FRENCH). Approving the IWR, however, only gave President Cheney the power to use force. He didn't have to. Doing it was the War Crime. Not being a stupid yahoo bonehead or a spineless politician.

Too bad there's not a Hell, because then all those Bushco fuckers would finally see justice. But that's not the way the world works.
Posted by Max Solomon on March 20, 2013 at 10:58 AM · Report this
@15 and the major point is we have a sitting editor of a left-leaning paper whose judgment was horrifically immoral. The kind of jugdments The Stranger basically BBQ's the Seattle Times for on a daily basis.

Yet on the 10 year anniversary of the disastrous invasion of Iraq, when the entire liberal blogosphere is a-buzz with reflection on this important marker, The Stranger is conspicuously silent.

Now why is that? The only writer at the The Stranger with any balls, Eli Suanders, manages to do a pseudo-post about it at 6am the next day. Knowing it will be blow the fold before most people read SLOG. And doesn't even MENTION his own papers editorial stance on the war at the time?

If this was any other paper The Stranger itself would be all over that shit. And why any moral high ground The Stranger attempts to claim is highly suspect and probably self-serving.
Posted by tkc on March 20, 2013 at 11:04 AM · Report this
raindrop 21
@20 - But The Stranger is not Slate, The Nation, or anything like that. It is somewhere between The Onion, TMZ, and the Huffington Post.
Did anyone really expect a cover story on The Stranger "Ten Years After - The Iraq Invasion Revisited" with the sub line, "Over bitter tears, Dan Savage recounts painful lessons learned."
Ugh! Who would bother to read it?
Posted by raindrop on March 20, 2013 at 11:25 AM · Report this
Theodore Gorath 22
This demand for The Stranger (and Dan) to apologize for featuring an editorial on the war ten years ago is fucking insane. So what if he was wrong? Have you never been wrong? Are you seriously demanding someone apologize for having a different opinion than you at one point? Fuck you. How egotistical do you have to be to think you are owed an apology?

I am beginning to wonder if you nutballs think that Dan Savage cast all the congressional votes, and sent to troops to war. Certainly would not put it past you to be that mind-numbingly stupid.
Posted by Theodore Gorath on March 20, 2013 at 11:30 AM · Report this
Matt from Denver 23
@ 18/19, fine. But he DID reverse his position. And no, you're not going to convince anyone that his position was "immoral." Stupid? Sure. Immoral? Um, not even close.

I'm not sure what you want. If all the other liberal blogs are covering it, why do you want more of the same here? Is this ritual with you? Slog posted about it. If Dan and The Stranger's writers haven't supplicated themselves to your satisfaction by now, they probably never will. Maybe that gives you an excuse to get all indignant and self righteous, but it's a bore for those of us who know that Dan's non-LGBT related political opinions are underinformed, to say the least. We'll keep reading those opinions and being critical when he's being naive, but his old editorial didn't affect the war one whit, so it's beyond time to put it to rest and go forward with what we learned.

For the record, Eli's 6am posts are almost always well read, and the comment threads (including this one) bear it out. They give people something to read and are very close, if not right at the top for much of the morning. I'm grateful for them because otherwise there's almost nothing to read and discuss before 8am Pacific on Slog, if not later.
Posted by Matt from Denver on March 20, 2013 at 11:39 AM · Report this
@22 I like how this is getting spun by you actual war apologists. "How dare you not move on, already."

Where did anybody say Dan "needs to apologize?"

It would show the paper has some sort of integrity if he could actually explained his position back then. Or admitted to being wrong.

Why? Because he's the editor of a god damned LEFT-LEANING paper. Rather than, you know freeze the topic out of discussion entirely which is clearly what happened yesterday.

Eli is brining up (finally) the anniversary of the war and and posts a video and mentions every aspect... BUT HIS OWN PAPERS POSITION AT THE TIME.

How you can think that is not relevant speaks volumes as to your understanding of what journalism is - or is supposed to be.

And the irony of this is, well... both delicious and repugnant.
Posted by tkc on March 20, 2013 at 11:43 AM · Report this
ArtBasketSara 25
Dan Savage is the reason US invaded Iraq? Monster! War criminal!

FACT: @22 : "...Dan Savage cast ALL the congressional votes, and sent to (sic) troops to war."

Scandalous! I demand a trial...and/or a costume ball.
Posted by ArtBasketSara on March 20, 2013 at 11:44 AM · Report this
Fnarf 26
Ten years ago I was waving a map of Iraq around and shouting at my poor cow orkers that this thing was going to be the biggest clusterfuck ever. As I said at the time, "I'm not a dove, I'm a hawk -- I'm PRO-WAR, dammit, but not THIS war, this is a disaster-in-the-making that is going to turn the whole world against us, and it's an obvious put-up job, there is no intelligence, there are no WMDs". I have witnesses.

There's no such THING as "WMDs", for chrissakes. There's nukes, which no sentient person could possibly believe Iraq had, and there's a bunch of ineffective crap that's ten times more trouble than it's worth, like "chemical weapons" and "biological weapons", which every country in the world that has ever fucked with them, including the US, knows perfectly well are completely useless and more likely to hurt your own guys. There is NO SITUATION in which WMDs make any sense at all as weaponry; they've never been used effectively at a reasonable cost. They CAN'T be. Did you notice that the weapons the Iraqis used against us that worked were IEDs -- a lump of explosive and a dollar watch, not frigging chemicals.

As for all the bullshit surrounding "yellowcake uranium" and "aluminum tubes", it was BLEEDING OBVIOUS that that stuff was completely made-up nonsense. One of the ways you can tell has to do with paying attention to what goes on in the world -- a practice few Americans have ever been interested in, as the explosion of truly terrible "analysis" after 9/11 proved. The fact is, there IS an underground international trade in nuclear secrets and nuclear equipment, and Saddam Hussein was never a significant part of it. Who was? Supposed American ally Dr. AQ Khan, in Pakistan. Everybody knew this; Hans Blix knew this; everybody in the world knew this except the goddamn New York Times. There was nothing in Iraq. NOTHING. We knew that; George Bush knew it, Dick Cheney knew it, Don Rumsfeld knew it, and Colin Powell knew it. C'mon, I knew it, and I'm no expert.

What there was in Iraq was a powderkeg that we set off, deliberately, to appease the petty revenge motive of our dear Mister President, who wanted to get in good with his fucking daddy, whom Saddam had threatened.

That's it. For that, FIVE THOUSAND coalition troops died, and a million destroyed bodies and psyches are wandering around our streets now. You people will be paying for their medical care for seventy-five years, long after Bush and Cheney are dead.

The stupidity of the war is one thing. We expect stupidity from our government. What we don't expect from them is such mendacity that works against their own interests. We don't expect our leaders to do Osama Bin Laden's dirty work for him, to seemingly deliberately wipe their asses on the flag for no reason. The Iraq War did far more damage to the US than 9/11. Bush and Cheney gained nothing lasting from the war except the opprobrium of history. And maybe, just maybe, someday, a jail cell.

Is The Stranger to blame? No, not really. They're guilty of being stupid. Lots of people were stupid. The New York Times was stupid. America was stupid. And now we pay. Look at the size of the military. That's never coming down; get used to it. There's your real legacy.
Posted by Fnarf on March 20, 2013 at 11:49 AM · Report this
ArtBasketSara 27
Sorry, I should have used MORE all-caps...


Posted by ArtBasketSara on March 20, 2013 at 11:50 AM · Report this
@23 did you read his "reversal?"

Here it is:

"Against the War--For Now"…

That is hardly a "reversal." Certainly not an apology for his early position. In fact he is entrenching his position in favor of preemptive war and wishes MORE war. Not less. And his comparisons to D-day? Seriously? Yes. THAT is some stupid shit right there.

But being in favor of expanding and preemptive war... that is the very definition of immoral. If it's not then you don't live in any sort of moral universe.

Anyway. I've said what I came to say. I hope more people actually come in here to remember the moral hypocrisy of this paper. And hopefully hold them more to account in the future. I'm not hopeful because clearly the Flying Monkey Fan Club is in full force.
Posted by tkc on March 20, 2013 at 11:52 AM · Report this
I do remember Dan writing in his editorial that our foreign policy had created all these Middle East dictators and that it was therefore our duty to "clean up our mess," or something like that, and restore or create democracy in the Middle East. That was his rationale. I wonder if that editorial is still in the archives. (I'm too lazy to look.)

It is worth remembering that U.S. public opinion was split as we headed to war, the old liberal-conservative split that had been played effectively by the Bush campaign in the 2000 election. I do recall the mass protests against the impending war. I, myself, was against it, not because I didn't buy the WMD argument (like most people, it seems, I was sold on that little bit), but because I felt that the Clinton no-fly-zone containment policy had worked so far. Why knock over the hive and instigate a war? It seemed unnecessary to start that mess.

So this unnecessary, shameful war destroyed a nation and the lives of its inhabitants - in addition to our military casualties - and severely sapped our military strength. All for oil. This is a black mark conservatives will always wear, in addition Bush and his administration. But nothing will happen to them, other bearing the enmity and disdain of others. For those directly affected by the war, it's a much different story.
Posted by floater on March 20, 2013 at 11:55 AM · Report this
ArtBasketSara 30
On a more serious note..I was in a current events poli sci class at the time and my instructor was so antagonistic to anyone who questioned the war. She would bombard them with her own questions issued with a barely concealed disdain and outrage that anyone could doubt the reasons for invading Iraq.

She wasn't a great instructor in general... I wonder what she would say now? (this was in Canada)
Posted by ArtBasketSara on March 20, 2013 at 11:57 AM · Report this
raindrop 31
@25 - Coalition forces did find 3,000 chemical suits in a hospital in central Iraq. That would make one hell of costume ball for the anniversary.

Iraq definitely had chemical weapons. It's it's never been disproved that Saddam hid them or gave them to some other group. He had used chemical weapons on the Kurds and started three wars with neighboring countries. He and his two sons were evil.
If the invasion had not occurred, and I'm not saying that it wasn't a mistake, the world would have today would have endured another full decade of debauchery and geo-political trouble-making from Saddam Hussein.
Posted by raindrop on March 20, 2013 at 12:09 PM · Report this
raindrop 32
Oops, I meant to reference 30 in 31.
Posted by raindrop on March 20, 2013 at 12:12 PM · Report this
Theodore Gorath 33
@24: Wow, you are insane.

Do you demand all the media you consume bend entirely to your will? God forbid someone dares publish something that the all-mighty tkc disagrees with.

You are the one demanding an apology in so many words, nutcase:
"Dan never apologized. Never."
"That is hardly a "reversal." Certainly not an apology for his early position."

Editorials are not journalism anymore than Dan's advice on butt plugs is journalism. This is not your newspaper, and if you do not like the content of one editorial written ten years ago, why have you been reading and commenting here since, you moron? Go away if you hate it so much.

Also, calling me a "war apologist?" I am not talking about the war or its complete lack of merits. It was a disgraceful, unplanned clusterfuck we had no business getting so deep into. Dan was wrong, but he does not have to prostate himself before you and beg for your forgiveness. Get over yourself.

This is about your insanity and your nutbag idea that you have a right to demand what people think and publish, and your pathetic need for an apology/retraction/mea culpa because someone dared disagree with you.
Posted by Theodore Gorath on March 20, 2013 at 12:15 PM · Report this
raindrop 34
STET - Sara keeps moving her basket. I was right to reference 25 from 31.
Posted by raindrop on March 20, 2013 at 12:20 PM · Report this
raindrop 35
Fnarf, why did Hans Blix, the chief UN inspector, seem to fade away in the final decision days and not be more forthcoming? I've never been able to find a good follow up on that.
Posted by raindrop on March 20, 2013 at 12:30 PM · Report this
Pope Peabrain 36
They used "intelligence" that was flawed and they knew it. I think the first Bush Gulf war was thought a failure because it didn't take out Saddam. H.W. Bush lost reelection and G.W. decided that if he was elected, he would get Saddam for screwing H.W. It was a personal vendetta. A badly planned and executed vendetta. One, it should be remembered, the rest of the world rejected as illegitimate.
Posted by Pope Peabrain on March 20, 2013 at 12:41 PM · Report this
Max Solomon 37
Corey Robin has a great blog post from the 17th about the 10 yr. anniversary, and addresses the difference between a "lie" and "speculation".

And he quotes Dan's pro-war piece at length:
Posted by Max Solomon on March 20, 2013 at 12:55 PM · Report this
Fnarf 38
@31, Yes, and Saddam's use of chemical weapons on the Kurds in the 80s is the primary bit of evidence that chemical weapons don't work.

He could have killed many times as many Kurds at a tiny fraction of the cost and a tiny fraction of the blowback by dropping good old-fashioned garden-variety bombs on them.

Yes, Saddam was a bad man. So was Robert Mugabe. So was Kim Jong-Il. So was King Fahd -- the Saudi royals paid for more terrorism than Saddam ever dreamed of. So was Kamenei and Putin and Castro and Assad and Karimov and Niyazov and Bashir and Gaddafi and Mubarak and a dozen other bad guys. None of them insulted Bush I, though.

If you were really looking to take out bad guys with ties to illegal oil and weapons transactions with Saddam Hussein, you would have launched a missile strike on Dick Cheney's office. Cheney, as CEO of Halliburton, made millions working for Saddam.

@35, why? WHY? Are you seriously asking why?

Because the decision had already been made, the evidence had all been faked up, and nobody gave a shit what the UN had to say about it. The decision was made a YEAR EARLIER; it may have been made on September 12th 2001. Blix was operating under the mistaken impression he was dealing with rational adults who were interested in the truth. Bush & Co. were NEVER interested in the truth even for a minute; they were interested only in FAKING the truth.
Posted by Fnarf on March 20, 2013 at 12:59 PM · Report this
@26 -
The New York Times was stupid. America was stupid.

Regurgitating neocon propaganda isn't stupidity, it's malfeasance. Friedman, Brooks and co are still given a sizable megaphone to pontificate about everything despite being wrong about everything. The fact that the New York Times hasn't found an imperialist war it didn't like should be a clue.

As for America, there were millions in the street opposing the war. Polls showed a small majority for war with many caveats like UN approval despite 24/7 propaganda, jingoism, xenophobia, threats, and betrayals from many Democrats. A sizable majority only rallied when war started and tremendous pressure was exerted to support the military and not be a 'traitor'. I'd say Americans did relatively well considering the environment concocted by conservatives and the corporate media.
Posted by anon1256 on March 20, 2013 at 1:03 PM · Report this
Kirby Wilbur, a rightwing talk radio host on KVI 570 AM Seattle boosted every war, and organized his audience into a militia called the “570th Cavalry” to swarm and intimidate peace rallies. Kirby Wilbur is now the Chairman of the Republican Party in the State of Washington and was one of the plaintiffs who funded and won Citizens United.…
Posted by anon1256 on March 20, 2013 at 1:07 PM · Report this
dwightmoodyforgetsthings 41
@4- Or perhaps (to borrow from Kundera) they should make like Oedipus did after realizing his mistake and rip their eyes out.
Posted by dwightmoodyforgetsthings on March 20, 2013 at 1:21 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 42
@ tkc, fair enough about Dan. He didn't apologize and made a rather mealy-mouthed change of position. That's Dan - I couldn't even begin to count the number of times he's been called on something over the years and not copped to it, let alone apologize. I probably shouldn't have forgotten that and misremembered an apology on this topic.

That said, I'm kind of perturbed by your "it's a left wing paper so The Stranger should toe the party line" reasoning. Echo chambers are always bad, and we need diversity of opinion on our side to keep our brains sharp, lest we become akin to the angry dullards who thought Romney was going to win.

Regarding Dan and The Stranger, holding a mistaken opinion isn't immoral. And honestly, if Iraq WAS actually planning something, one can not say that pre-emptive war was wrong. We can say this one was, since they weren't and it was obvious back then. But the world has faced this scenario before: France and the allies could have prevented Nazi Germany from rising, and had every internationally legal justification for doing so. Hitler had written exactly what he planned to do in Mein Kampf, and was violating treaties by taking steps (such as building up the army and re-occupying the Rhineland) toward those goals.

A quick pre-emptive war in 1936 would have saved the whole world a lot of grief. France and Britain were in position to wage it, and they didn't.

That does NOT mean we can just go to war willy nilly and say we're in danger. It's the LIES about it that make it immoral. And if Dan and millions of other Americans were all taken in, that's a mistake, not a moral failing.
Posted by Matt from Denver on March 20, 2013 at 1:22 PM · Report this
pdonahue 43
I'm trying to understand my own smoldering hostility to Stranger eds who put out these puff pieces on how cool war with the Islamofascits would be, I think it was the utter helpless feeling I had at the time that my nation was sliding into hell and everybody was fine with that, including my local alternative media.
BTW our representative then and now, "Baghdad Jim" McDermitt went to Iraq three days before the shock-n-awe to try a last ditch effort to stop the war, If only he had the stones to oppose Obama on his drone warfare now.
Back to the vitriol on my part, the fact that there was such animosity on the part of Savage and Frizzelle to anti-war demonstrators was the galling part. Their smug self assuredness , using the trust and power of their writing to push forward such a monstrous plan as empire building was (and is) terrifying. These guys have skill in communication that I will never have, their ability to disseminate information and sway opinion is an awesome thing. To think that the same guy who goes to High Schools that my children attend to say "it gets better" to LGBT teens is that same fuck that condemned Iraqi children to death by cholera after he cheered our flyboys bombing their sewer treatment plants is what still chokes me up.
Everybody makes mistakes, i made at least three today alone, I as a US tax payer who didn't riot on the streets 10 years ago am just as complacent in the 130,000 CIVILIAN deaths as any small town editor. For that I apologize. Chris Frizelle's rambling piece about his brothers sad homecoming was an attempt (sorta) at sifting through the complicated loyalties he felt between family and commitments, it didn't reduce my contempt for using his literary skills at cheering war, but it was a start. Savage has made no such attempt, and neither has the current editorial staff, a little self reflection would go a long way.
Posted by pdonahue on March 20, 2013 at 1:57 PM · Report this
@42 -
if Dan and millions of other Americans were all taken in, that's a mistake, not a moral failing.

How would you know if Dan hasn't analyzed why he advocated for a "mistake"? Doesn't he have a responsibility to his readership and offer some guarantees he won't be bamboozled again when warmongers crank up the propaganda anew?
Posted by anon1256 on March 20, 2013 at 2:03 PM · Report this
@42 He wasn't "taken in."

Savage specifically states he didn't care about WMD or anything else. He wanted to rid Iraq, Syria and Saudi Arabia of it's tyrants... with war. Not with reversal of our shitty foreign policies. War. The pretense of their non-existant imminent threat was not part of his reasoning. At least not in his follow up piece. It was about how Bush was incompetent (true) and how we didn't have enough allies (gee, wonder why?) and lastly that the scope of the war was too narrow. That we were not killing enough brown people in his opinion.

It's hard what else to make of those two pieces, honestly. They're fraught with basic conceptual and historical errors, parroted Neo-con talking points, and just plain terrible logic.

As for premeptive war in 1936 not only are presenting facts not in evidence you are also, once again, drawing a parallels between Saddam and Hitler. Which is just god damned laughable. How the Bush era tragic irony escaped while you typed that is... well, c'mon, think about it.

And what have we learned exactly? To reward people with atrocious, repugnant opinions (and morals)? Ask them to never explain themselves? We have learned exactly nothing.

As for many of the other comments in this thread. I am amused at the typical apologia, strawmen, and of course ad hominem attacks (LOVE SLOG OR LEAVE IT! GRARARARGLE!). The hatred expressed here simply for reminding people of that time is extremely telling. I'm glad that people are at least talking about it, if a little late. So I will at least claim that as progress.

And you all know if it was the Seattle Times or any other right wing publication none of you would be giving them the same slack many of reflexively give Dan and The Stranger. The Stranger sure wouldn't.

If Dan - or the The Stranger - could have halted the march to war is irrelevant. He specifically capitalized on the war, his career profited for it, and like ever other chicken hawk, faced no consequences at all. We should take not of that at least once every ten years.

This, being the source, is the perfect venue for that discussion. And asking The Stranger to explain itself is also perfectly called for. Why are they so steadfast in pretending it never happened? Why no link to that column here on SLOG? Everybody else, from Metafilter to Buzzfeed is.

Or we could just forget it ever happened, right? Is that progress?
Posted by tkc on March 20, 2013 at 2:03 PM · Report this

I always wondered what the deal with Blix was as well.

About two weeks before the war I was talking with Scott Ritter (Blix's predecessor at UNSCOM) and he told me to my face that Iraq had been disarmed, although they could've conceivably restarted some sort of weapons program in the three years since, but he didn't think it was likely.

He quit UNSCOM because he kept finding that there were no WMD's, news the coalition didn't want to hear, and they kept asking him to do more and more ridiculous searches. For example, they had him try to search Saddam's underwear drawer in one of his palace bedrooms and when the Iraqis stopped him, Richard Butler was on the news that night saying Saddam wasn't complying.

I seem to remember that Blix found the same thing Ritter did... nothing, so they fired him too.

This is how I remember things, although it was 10 years ago. Pretty sure I'm correct in my recollection, though.

Posted by CPN on March 20, 2013 at 2:32 PM · Report this
ArtBasketSara 47
@34 Oh sure...blame the basket! Everyone always blames the basket...
Posted by ArtBasketSara on March 20, 2013 at 2:43 PM · Report this
@46 You're right.Iraq had been completely gelded. even Colin Powell admits this now.

The reason Saddam had been so cagey about it, other than machismo, was his worry about what the Iranians would do if they found out he was disarmed. And. Well. Look what happened there. Southern Iraq is now basically greater Iran.

Ritter is just a tragic figure. I mean they frigg'n set up sex stings and basically framed him as a pedophile and put him jail. That is the sort of shit the pro-war media environment contributed to.

He is a perfect example of what happened to the legitimate experts and media figures who came out against that war. They were simply crushed by the full weight of pro-war hysteria, propaganda and vindictive legal machinery.

Meanwhile all the vocal proponents of that war in government and media, ostensibly liberal or not, went on to high incomes and guest spots on NPR. It's depressing as hell. But that's the world we live in.
Posted by tkc on March 20, 2013 at 2:56 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 49
@ 44, I don't think he has to guarantee anything. We can all decide for ourselves. Personally, I think the fact that he's severely dialed back giving opinions on topics outside of his expertise says something.

@ 45, the facts on 1936 are abundantly in evidence. To wit:

Germany was a signatory of the Treaty of Versailles. Among other things, that meant that they agreed to keep the army to no more than 100,000 soldiers and would not occupy any of the Rhineland (that part of Germany west of the Rhine River).

Adolf Hitler wrote a book in the 1920s explicitly stating, among other things, that he intended to abrogate the Treaty of Versailles, build up the army to millions of men under arms, invade the Slavic nations to Germany's east for the purpose of colonization, enslave those people, and annihilate the Jews if he couldn't get rid of them any other way.

In 1933, Hitler came to power and began to work toward those goals. The buildup of the army was one of the first things he did. It wasn't done that openly, but it was too big to hide, and the allies were aware of it.

France had occupied a region of Germany called the Ruhr in the 1920s to enforce provisions of the Treaty of Versailles. They could have done so again in the 1930s. Hitler is on record as saying that such an action would have spelled the end of him and the Nazi Party.

This is all a matter of historical record.

I'm drawing ZERO parallels between Hitler and Saddam, BTW. If I argue that intervention was justified in 1936 but not in 2003, that's kind of the opposite of drawing parallels.

Anyway, as far as giving Dan and The Stranger slack goes, they've earned it for all the great work and reporting that they have done, on local politics, on LGBT issues, and many other things I can't attempt to catalog now. They generally get it right and they generally do right. The Seattle Times has done many, many things illustrating the opposite.

Could we just forget that it happened? No. We shouldn't. But compassion and forgiveness are the highest qualities a person can have, and I forgive Dan his trespasses, whether he asks for them or not. But I don't forget that he shoots his mouth off and has shown that he doesn't have a firm grasp on non-LGBT political issues, and I keep an eye out for flawed opinions there. As I said to @ 44, he seems to have curtailed those.

If you choose not to cut him any slack, by all means, don't. But most of us have moved on.
Posted by Matt from Denver on March 20, 2013 at 3:02 PM · Report this
@49 None of what you quoted was prescriptive evidence for the success of a preemptive war in Europe in 1936. Not to mention it's exceedingly dubious morality.

Matt I am not going on to re-argue what has been argued to death ten thousand times... and guess what - your side has lost. The US had nothing approaching a substantial war effort on the ground (and on the seas) at the time anything like the production capacity, technology, or most importantly the domestic will to go to war in europe 3000 miles across the Atlantic.

And neither in 1936 did France or the UK. Those are your facts that matter. But if you want to play this time travel game where you back in time and kill Hitler to justify the unjustifiable - go ahead. It's science fiction. Believing these Neo-con sci-fi myths is part of the problem.

I'm done with the Godwining of this argument.
Posted by tkc on March 20, 2013 at 3:17 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 51
Hmmm. Since when is it Godwin to call Hitler a Nazi?

Dude, you can have your own opinions, but not your own facts. Read up on the history of Nazi Germany sometime. France absolutely could have stopped Hitler. The Reichswehr was nowhere near ready to fight France and the UK. Hitler took a huge gamble, over the advice of all his generals, and won.

Now, if you want to argue that, even in 1936, a pre-emptive war (which would have been fought by France and the UK, not necessarily the USA) would have been immoral and unjustifiable, then make a case. But if you leave, you'll only tell me that you can only think in absolutes.
Posted by Matt from Denver on March 20, 2013 at 3:30 PM · Report this
@51 what part of "i'm not going to re-argue WWII" do you not understand? It's stupid derail and yes and appeal to conflating Hitler and Iraq. If you need to bring up Hitler, you've lost an argument. I'm going to ignore you now, okay?
Posted by tkc on March 20, 2013 at 3:41 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 53
@ 52, you have stated that pre-emptive war is immoral, period. That means that I can legitimately bring up WW2, because we have an actual historical instance of where there was an opportunity to wage it and it would have been the right thing to do.

This has NOTHING to do with Iraq. We are already in full agreement there. It draws ZERO parallels between Saddam and Hitler. Just because others tried to do that, doesn't mean I am.
Posted by Matt from Denver on March 20, 2013 at 3:49 PM · Report this
@49 - Well, I certainly disagree that journos have no responsibility to explain why they were spectacularly wrong. Not doing so undermines the credibility of their reporting and if their reporting isn't credible, what is their purpose?

As for: "A quick pre-emptive war in 1936 would have saved the whole world a lot of grief. France and Britain were in position to wage it, and they didn't."

France lost ~5% of its population less than 20 years before during WW1 (and another 10% wounded, mostly military-aged men). Arguing for any war, preemptive or not would have been impossible. The anti-war mood certainly played a part in their not being prepared for WW2 but it seems understandable.
Posted by anon1256 on March 20, 2013 at 4:12 PM · Report this
If preemptive war is moral than Iraq would've been in total justification for nuking us had they actually had the bomb on the eve of our invasion... because... you know preemptive war is moral and all.

Or, fuck. The Vietnamese should have released plague rats in Baltimore in 1958 because we were going to bomb Hanoi in 1970.

Hey, why shouldn't Iran hit us now since clearly we have it in for them.

No. Preemptive War Doctrine is only okay for the US. That's what Dan and every other war mongering asshole really means.

If you say preemptive war is okay for us then it's okay for Germany, France, Syria, China and anybody else who can justify their own interests or appeal to self preservation.

And that's why the doctrine is inherently immoral because it leads to a world of chaos.

Rejecting pre-emptive war is precisely why the US had war crime trials after WWII and precisely why we created institutions like the UN ... to attempt to prevent immoral shit like pre-emptive war.

Embracing preemptive war is slap in the face of civilization and everything progressive.
Posted by tkc on March 20, 2013 at 4:18 PM · Report this
pdonahue 56
Fer fuck sake Matt, you contain parasites like Tojo and Hitler, not declare war on them. Preemptive war gives them all the excuses they need to rally their populations and call in chips with other tin pot dictators. It was a stupid idea with Iraq, that's why it wasn't pulled on Hitler by the rest of Europe, IT'S A DUMB IDEA because it doesn't work.
Posted by pdonahue on March 20, 2013 at 4:19 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 57
@ 54, and yet the French marched right into Germany's Ruhr region in the 1920s, even closer to the war.

You can excuse their inaction in 1936, but that isn't really the topic. The topic is, Is pre-emptive war immoral? The example of 1936 shows that no, it isn't if there is a very real threat.

@ 55, all I'm doing is challenging your assertion that pre-emptive war is immoral, period. There are (VERY RARE) times when it is, was, or could have been the right thing to do. Such conditions were nowhere in sight with Iraq and the US in 2003.

Anyway, I've studied the Nuremberg Trials, and I've never seen that pre-emptive war described as an ipso facto war crime. Germany did not wage pre-emptive war on anyone.

@ 56, you are ignorant of the history of Nazi Germany. Please get yourself educated there.
Posted by Matt from Denver on March 20, 2013 at 5:10 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 58
Forgot to add: @ 55, I can see, and respect, your viewpoint. I disagree, but thank you for arguing it thoughtfully.
Posted by Matt from Denver on March 20, 2013 at 5:24 PM · Report this
@57 - The Franco-Belgian occupation of the Ruhr in 1922 (?) was in response to Germany defaulting on reparations (most of the fighting took place in France) agreed to in the peace agreements and occupation didn't really involve warfare. It hardly qualifies as a measure of french willingness to fight wars during that period.

I don't think whether pre-emptive war is moral has anything to do with Iraq since Iraq was purely a war of aggression to control the flow of oil in an age of depleting resource. It probably would have been the thing to do in 1936, as the Soviet wanted at the time, to crush fascism before it built its military machine but Western politicians (including Churchill) were too eager to use fascism against communists and socialists to want to do that.
Posted by anon1256 on March 20, 2013 at 5:34 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 60
@ 59, this topic was raised by tkc as partial explanation for why he's still mad about Dan's editorial and other Stranger opinions from the time. I agree that Iraq failed to meet the criteria of pre-emptive war, but's that was how it was sold, and that's how some good people were taken in. I think it's worth discussing.

Anyway, as noted above, the German military was not ready in 1936 anyway. IIRC, they were under orders to retreat at the first sign of French encroachment, so like the occupation of the Ruhr, it would most likely have been a bloodless affair.
Posted by Matt from Denver on March 20, 2013 at 5:55 PM · Report this
@57 I forgot to add I am not a pacifist. Pacifism, while a fine philosophical stand for individuals that I admire, is not a very scalable principle for entire political communities.

I believe in maintaining a standing and capable military force and a strategic deterrent. My father is a veteran. My family is a military family. I myself entertained brief service. That is precisely why I feel as I do.

There is only one result to war; and that is death and destruction. Even so-called just wars. War must be an absolute last resort. It is terrible. And we have always remember how terrible it is. We must always hold in contempt or at least suspicion the people who try to convince war is a good. Even the few necessary wars, the wars of self defense, are good. They simply are times when there is no other choice. War is not a tool to implement ideology. It is for slaughter.

The bar for the use of such terrible force as we now can unleash on the world must be set so high that an enemy has to be seen by all to have struck a blow, blood has to have been shed, and the next blow must be proven beyond a shadow of doubt to be an total imminent existential threat.

If that makes us vulnerable to attack then so be it. Any other way will lay endless chaos and destruction.

The doctrine of preemptive war has always been used as a rhetorical cudgel for rationalizing aggression for political gain. No community possess the power or the wisdom to make the call that thousands of children should be slain because something might happen. When preemptive war has been applied has never been used justly in any modern context.
Posted by tkc on March 20, 2013 at 6:15 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 62
"We must always hold in contempt or at least suspicion the people who try to convince war is a good."

Well, suspicion of people in authority is always good, or at least skepticism.

"War is not a tool to implement ideology. It is for slaughter."

Well, Hitler went to war to implement ideology. In his case, slaughter was ideology, in part.

"The doctrine of preemptive war has always been used as a rhetorical cudgel for rationalizing aggression for political gain."

That's very true too, and it was in 2003.

"When preemptive war has been applied has never been used justly in any modern context."

That's likely true. I certainly couldn't think of any actual examples in recent times, just the one time when it could have been done. Which matters only in the context of what pre-emptive war actually is (a war to prevent a worse war or an aggression on the other nation's part) as opposed to how wars of aggression are justified as pre-emptive. There's certainly nothing moral about such a war, least of all lying to the public about it.

Anyway, I think we've reached a point of agreement. I have nothing to answer in response to anything you say here because it's all true. Thank you.
Posted by Matt from Denver on March 20, 2013 at 6:50 PM · Report this
dirac 63
"someone dared disagree with you." Shorter Theodore Gorath: people in positions of journalistic authority should never be held to account for reckless opinions.

Well, fuck you, sir.

I don't think Dan should resign for his colossally awful column (full Godwin by the second paragraph). But I will point out he advocates regularly for gay civil rights and has no problem going after, publicly shaming them, even cyberstalking non-public media members who disagree with his view on civil rights. When tkc points out that Dan had no problems advocating that we deny millions of Iraqis their primary civil right--not to mention turning 4500 US service men and women to dust--he's a nutbag.

Again, fuck you, sir.
Posted by dirac on March 20, 2013 at 7:04 PM · Report this
@63 Yeah. I ignore stupid shit like that. It was clear he knew he didn't have an argument and was left with straw men and name calling.

When somebody reduces the murder thousands of people to "an opinion" then they have not a moral or rhetorical leg to stand on. It's like saying white supremacy, slavery and pedophilia are just "opinions."

Likeing apple pie over pumpkin pie is an "opinion."
Posted by tkc on March 21, 2013 at 1:47 PM · Report this
Ipso Facto 65
Today's episode of Democracy Now! is essential viewing.

The guests are Phil Donahue, prominent critic of the Iraq War and co-director of the documentary Body of War, and Iraq War veteran Tomas Young, the main subject of that film.

Paralyzed in a 2004 attack in Sadr City, Iraq War veteran Tomas Young recently announced that he will stop his medicine and nourishment, which comes in the form of liquid through a feeding tube — a decision which will hasten his death. Joining us from his home in Kansas City, Young reads in full his letter, A Message to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney From a Dying Veteran. "My day of reckoning is upon me," Young says. "Yours will come. I hope you will be put on trial. But mostly I hope, for your sakes, that you find the moral courage to face what you have done to me and to many, many others who deserved to live. I hope that before your time on earth ends, as mine is now ending, you will find the strength of character to stand before the American public and the world, and in particular the Iraqi people, and beg for forgiveness."

And here is an interview in which Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Colin Powell, describes how the same cabal is now plotting war with Iran:

JAY: Now, last time, they had this document called the Project for a New American Century, which kind of set a tone, I think, for the Bush administration, the idea that the United States should use its overwhelming superiority in military power to sort of reshape the world as it likes. And it really came down to the issue of regime change. And one could manipulate the media and the intelligence in whatever way was necessary to achieve that. Is that still the agenda?

WILKERSON: I think that's basically the game plan. It's a little more sophisticated this time, as you might suspect. They learned a little bit. And it features some new characters. But it's basically the same plotting, careful, methodical use of the media, use of the Congress, use of Israel and AIPAC, use of all the instruments that they can get their hands on to kind of prod the American people, and mostly, of course, the administration, into a point where it doesn't really have any choice but to go to war with Iran.
Posted by Ipso Facto on March 21, 2013 at 3:40 PM · Report this
Posted by Ipso Facto on March 21, 2013 at 3:59 PM · Report this
Ipso Facto 67
And here is Democracy Now!'s thorough and extensive interactive timeline of the Iraq War.
Posted by Ipso Facto on March 21, 2013 at 6:51 PM · Report this
Ipso Facto 68
Finally, Michael Moore evaluates the credibility of American military intelligence on Piers Morgan's show:

MOORE: As far as Assad and Syria goes, I just think as Americans now, whenever we're told anything -- somebody comes on and says there are reports that maybe this and maybe that -- we have to have the most skeptical, critical eye and ear to what we're being told.

MORGAN: See that's my problem with it, is that here we go again: we were told Saddam had chemical weapons and was about to use them. Now we're told Assad does. Many will say this is just a pretext for going in, and going into some kind of advanced war with Assad. How do we know who to believe here?

MOORE: Well, you start by not believing the people who lied to you before. The American government lied to it's own people. Honestly, I don't know of a worse lie one could tell, other than a lie to take a country to war, to make up things to take people to war. That's just got to be the most obscene, immoral thing to do. So this government hasn't earned the right to be trusted. If it says 'Assad has chemical weapons,' or if it says, 'Ahmadinejad has a nuclear weapon' --

MORGAN: But it's not this government, is it, that went to war with Saddam? You have to differentiate that.

MOORE: Which government are you talking about, you're talking about Obama versus Bush? No, no, no, I'm talking about the real government: Wall Street, the banks, the corporations, the people that made... 2 trillion dollars is what we spent on the Iraq War. Who made that money? Soldiers in the field? I don't think so. No, no, this is always about the people who have the purse strings and the politicians who are bought off by them.

So if they come on now and tell me anything about this, ya know, 'Ahmadinejad is building a bomb' -- really? I'll believe it when he walks in the room here and shows it to me. Frankly, that's how much I would not trust anything being said by the Military-Industrial complex of this great country.
Posted by Ipso Facto on March 22, 2013 at 12:32 AM · Report this

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