Wednesday, May 26, 2004

The Time Machine

Let's go back in time, to one year ago, to the last week of May 2003, and see how even then Goldstein was subversively plotting the demise of the Bush Administration. The following is a thread from an e-mail forum that includes many old friends of Goldstein; some wingnuts, some rational. Sen. Robert Byrd graciously consented to be a guest forum participant for the week.

Sen. Robert Byrd: What has become painfully clear in the aftermath of war is that Iraq was no immediate threat to the United States. Ravaged by years of sanctions, Iraq did not even lift an airplane against us. Iraq's threatening, death-dealing fleet of unmanned drones about which we heard so much morphed into one prototype made of plywood and string. Their missiles proved to be outdated and of limited range. Their army was quickly overwhelmed by our technology and our well-trained troops. Presently our loyal military personnel continue their mission of diligently searching for WMDs. They have so far turned up only fertilizer, vacuum cleaners, conventional weapons and the occasional buried swimming pool. They are misused on such a mission, and they continue to be at grave risk. But the Bush team's extensive hype of WMDs in Iraq as justification for a pre-emptive invasion has become more than embarrassing. It has raised serious questions about prevarication and the reckless use of power. Were our troops needlessly put at risk? Were countless Iraqi civilians killed and maimed when war was not really necessary? Was the American public deliberately misled? Was the world?

Hawkish Lib: The real problem now is that Junior has bumbled a problem that didn't need to be dealt with now, leaving much more serious problems to fester. Today's NYT has a piece on Iran, which despite my and the administration's hopes, appears to be unable to act responsibly, and of course we've been snookered yet again by an Assad. On top of that, Al Qaeda appears to be thriving in Pakistan. Still, all is well in Junior's world--the maximum marginal tax rate is about to decrease.

Paleo Conservative: Well, I agree that Bush overplayed this notion that Iraq was a direct threat to the U.S. Saddam's Iraq was however a clear indirect threat to the U.S by having the capability to manufacture and sell WMDs on the black market. The fact that we have not found WMDs is irrelevant: what happened to stockpiles of nerve gas that Saddam used on the Iranians and the Kurds? The U.N. inspectors were unable to verify that these weapons were destroyed, and Saddam was completely uncooperative. One positive aspect of the aftermath of the Iraq war is that the rest of the rogue countries around the world know what Al Qaeda has discovered: that we will aggressively and ferociously defend ourselves from threats of terrorism. This is the real and lasting benefit of the Iraq war.

Auntie War: You're confusing our wars. Al Qaeda learned in Afghanistan that we will aggressively and ferociously defend ourselves from threats of terrorism. In Iraq, the world learned that we will lie, bully, even denigrate our allies to pursue a vendetta. Our seat-of-the-pants post-war strategy belies the claim that we were focused on establishing democracy in Iraq, just as the lack of WMDs validates the CIA's pre-war assessments that Bush ignored.

Paleo Conservative: Our-seat-of-the-pants post-war strategy? Don't you think that it is a little unreasonable to expect that the U.S. could create a Jeffersonian democracy in two months in land that has been ruled by potentates for the past 6000 years? The CIA certainlhy never said that there were not WMDs in Iraq, they probably said that they could not locate them. I ask you again: what happened to the stockpiles of nerve gas that Saddam used on the Kurds and the Iranians? And we didn't bully our allies: our allies supported the overthrow of the murderous Saddam. Call France and Germany what you may, but they certainly are not allies.

Auntie War: Of course it's unreasonable to expect a quick and effective democracy in Iraq, but that's what Bush promised. He claimed that he had a strategy that would ensure a democracy but would not require us to occupy Iraq for more than a few months...The point is that it has become clear that this administration has no plan...As for the WMDs, the point is that the inspectors couldn't find them and the CIA had no evidence less than 10 years old that they existed, yet they were a principal pretext for the war...I didn't say that we bullied our allies, but it fits. We led Tony Blair by the nose, our other allies were bribed or threatened to become "willing." Everyone else, including our treaty partners that resisted attempts to bully them, was denigrated.

Goldstein: There is no mystery as to what the CIA was telling George. The CIA told George that they had absolutely no intelligence to back-up George's claims that Iraq continued to stockpile massive amounts of WMDs. Moreover, the CIA informed George that historically reliable Iraqi expats were claiming that Iraq had destroyed their chemical and biological weapons. The claims of the expats were consistent with observations made by UN weapons inspectors between 1991 and 1998. Finally, in October 2002, Tenet informed George that Saddam was unlikely to attack us unless we attacked first. Why was George so adamant that Iraq was a credible threat when all available CIA intelligence indicated otherwise? Is the new doctrine of pre-emption based upon an assumption that all nations possess WMDs and are threats until proven otherwise? On what was George basing his outrageous claims, if not CIA intelligence? Why did U.S. and British intelligence analysts go to the press to report that they were being pressured to concoct WMD intelligence and al-Qaeda connections?
As you'll no doubt note in future episodes of The Time Machine, Goldstein always gets the last word. House rules.


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