Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Beatin' Dead Horses - The Downing Street Memo, UFO's, Alien Autopsies, and Bigfoot

“There's smoke on the water, it's been there since June,
Tree trunks uprooted, 'neath the high crescent moon
Feel the pulse and vibration and the rumbling force
Somebody is out there beating the dead horse.”

Bob Dylan – “Man in the Long Black Coat”

I received an invitation this morning to join a blog consortium called “The Big Brass Alliance.” Upon receiving it I checked the site out. I got to the blog’s mission statement and saw all I needed to see:

“The Big Brass Alliance was formed in May 2005 as a collective of progressive bloggers who support After Downing Street, a coalition of veterans' groups, peace groups, and political activist groups formed to urge that the U.S. Congress launch a formal investigation into whether President Bush has committed impeachable offenses in connection with the Iraq war. The campaign focuses on evidence that recently emerged in a British memo containing minutes of a secret July 2002 meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his top national security officials.”

I can only take it that the person who issued the invitation had never read my blog. If they had they never would have sent it.

I decided to see what this memo contains that's causing such furor. If you’d like to read them memo for yourself the link is here. For those of you who want to go on I’ll cite what many George Bush detractors cite as the money lines in the document:

“This record is extremely sensitive. No further copies should be made. It should be shown only to those with a genuine need to know its contents.”

“John Scarlett summarised the intelligence and latest JIC assessment. Saddam's regime was tough and based on extreme fear. The only way to overthrow it was likely to be by massive military action. Saddam was worried and expected an attack, probably by air and land, but he was not convinced that it would be immediate or overwhelming. His regime expected their neighbours to line up with the US. Saddam knew that regular army morale was poor. Real support for Saddam among the public was probably narrowly based.”

“C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy (my emphasis added). The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.”

What can I say? How shocking! Such revelations!

Since the release of this memo, which was originally penned in July, 2002, George Bush haters have crawled out of the woodwork and formed alliances demanding an investigation or impeachment.

I got a bit more curious and checked out another Downing Street site and lo and behold there was even more revelation. In one side by side piece of fact stitching this unbelievable information was revealed. The top two columns come from the memo; the bottom two columns come from the President’s public statements, used as points of comparison:

“Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD.”

“No decisions had been taken, but he thought the most likely timing in US minds for military action to begin was January, with the timeline beginning 30 days before the US Congressional elections.”

“We are doing everything we can to avoid war in Iraq. But if Saddam Hussein does not disarm peacefully, he will be disarmed by force”
- George W. Bush,
Mar. 8, 2003 Radio Address

“I think that that presumes there's some kind of imminent war plan. As I said, I have no timetable.”
- George W. Bush,
Aug. 10, 2002 while golfing

At the end of this piece I’ll offer my own theory about the “Downing Street” folks, but for now let me say what my kids say to me when I state the obvious – “Well, Duh.”

This attempted kick in a hated political enemy’s groin is about as silly as it gets. They’ve attempted to hit what they perceive to be a vulnerable target and wound up kicking wildly at the air instead. It looks damned silly if you ask me.

It probably wouldn’t do much good to explain the obvious to these people. They’re much like those who believe that the manned lunar landing was a hoax or that we’ve conducted autopsies on aliens. Even knowing that, though, I feel compelled to try.

First, the war in Iraq wasn’t George Bush’s war; it was America’s war.

Let me being by trying to calm the jangled nerves of these conspiracy theorists. Removing Saddam Hussein from power was a U.S.objective from 1998 right up until the day the conflict began. It’s interesting to note that William Jefferson Clinton, not George Bush, set these wheels in motion when he signed the “Iraq Liberation Act” in October of 1998. While the language is somewhat muted, this directive, when read, clearly shows that the United States intent in Iraq was regime change:


“Today I am signing into law H.R. 4655, the “Iraq Liberation Act of 1998.” This Act makes clear that it is the sense of the Congress that the United States should support those elements of the Iraqi opposition that advocate a very different future for Iraq than the bitter reality of internal repression and external aggression that the current regime in Baghdad now offers.”

“Let me be clear on what the U.S. objectives are: The United States wants Iraq to rejoin the family of nations as a freedom-loving and law-abiding member. This is in our interest and that of our allies within the region.”

“The United States favors an Iraq that offers its people freedom at home. I categorically reject arguments that this is unattainable due to Iraq's history or its ethnic or sectarian make-up. Iraqis deserve and desire freedom like everyone else. The United States looks forward to a democratically supported regime that would permit us to enter into a dialogue leading to the reintegration of Iraq into normal international life.”

“My Administration has pursued, and will continue to pursue, these objectives through active application of all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions. The evidence is overwhelming that such changes will not happen under the current Iraq leadership. (my emphasis added)”

It’s also interesting to note that policy makers within the Clinton administration had already concluded that military invasion was the only viable option to make this regime change a reality. Kenneth Pollack, who spent seven years with the CIA as a Persian Gulf military analyst, served as director for Gulf affairs at the National Security Council from 1995 to 1996 and then served in the same capacity from 1999 to 2001 was only one of many policy makers on the Clinton team who firmly, and honestly, believed that military action was the only way to remove Saddam.

Why did he and so many of Bill Clinton’s team believe this? Pollack, for one, had several reasons. First, there was no doubt in the minds of planners and thinkers that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction and that they possessed a serious threat to the stability of the world. In his book “The Threatening Storm,” published in 2002, Pollack put it this way:

“Because of the limited capabilities of Iraq’s conventional military forces, its WMD programs loom even larger. Before the Gulf War, Saddam could believe that his conventional forces were powerful enough to achieve most of his ambitions. Today, he knows full well that they cannot and that instead he must lean more heavily on his WMD arsenal. In fact, Iraq’s security is more than ever bound up with its WMD programs, to guarantee the regime against internal threats, deter hostile neighbors, and (Baghdad hopes) convince the United States that a war with Iraq would be too costly to fight.”

“Despite the valiant efforts of the U.N, inspectors – who destroyed far more of Iraq’s WMD programs than Baghdad ever expected – Iraq was able to hang on to most of the knowledge and equipment it needed. As one high-level Iraqi defector put it, “It is impossible to completely destroy the chemical and biological weapons. They cannot destroy the know-how in our scientists’ heads. Facilities for the production of chemical and biological weapons were dismantled already before the U.N. inspectors arrived. They were taken to secret places and reassembled again. All documents have been hidden in such a way that strangers will never find them.”

This was not only Pollack’s assessment, it was the assessment of virtually all international security agencies, including even those like France and Germany who failed to support the effort.

Why, knowing that, was France so vocal in its opposition to regime change? Pollack put it this way:

“France is one of Iraq’s chief advocates and, while still a NATO ally of the United States, believes that taking an “independent” line is critical to French stature and the good of the world. In addition, Iraq owes France $4.5 billion from pre-Gulf War sales. France is also one of Iraq’s largest trading partners. To be blunt, the French have not hesitated to compromise their principles if it meant a greater share of Iraqi trade. In 2000, when Iraq began demanding that countries fly commercial aircraft into Baghdad in violation of the U.N. flight ban in return for further oil-for-food contracts, Paris suddenly discovered a new “interpretation” of the U.N. resolutions that indicated that there was no such flight ban – even though it had voted for the original resolution and had respected the ban for the preceding ten years. As a result of this shameless pandering, the French have been the largest or second largest recipient of Iraqi oil-for-food contracts in every phase of the program.”

I read Pollack’s words and I understand why there was so little trust of the United Nation’s ability to deal with this crisis.

But Pollack and other policy makers had more reasons to advocate military action. Among the reasons considered, but not seen as viable, were deterrence, covert action, and using anti-Saddam forces within Iraq to do the job. The danger of deterrence meant that the world would maintain a precarious status quo in which Saddam continued to brutalize his own countrymen and reconstitute his WMD programs. The problem with covert action was that Saddam had over the years become almost impervious to assassination attempts. As Pollack put it, “If it could have been done, it would have.” There was also consensus within the halls of policy makers that there was no resistance group, either Shiite or Kurd, who had any power to overthrow Saddam. He had built a totalitarian state in which any attempts to resist his rule were met with brutality.

Having thought these options, and others, through, Pollack reluctantly concluded that:

“Unfortunately, the only prudent and realistic course of action left to the United States is to mount a full-scale invasion of Iraq to smash the Iraqi armed forces, depose Saddam’s regime, and rid the country of weapons of mass destruction. Every time I say or write this, I find myself wondering whether it is truly necessary. It usually sets me off rehearsing in my mind all of the arguments for and against all the other options in one last effort to devise some alternative to the costs of invasion. Having spent much of my life since the Gulf War trying to find a way out of this conundrum, I cannot.”

“Every time I give a talk on our options toward Iraq to a group of people, someone always says,”There has to be another way. There has to be some middle option.” There isn’t. Sometimes history presents us with unpleasant choices. On those occasions, the worst thing we can do is to avoid making a choice in the hope that if we just think hard enough an unforeseen solution will materialize that will relieve us of the need of making the hard choice.”

George Bush made the hard choice in Iraq. He made the right choice!

I speak as a Democrat who believes that the nay-sayers and conspiracy theorists are engaged in a conspiracy of their own. They hate George Bush more than they love freedom. They hate George Bush enough that, given the opportunity, they would turn the tables on the liberation of Iraq and bring Saddam back to power. That, in my view is short-sighted, reckless, and foolish. That type of attitude is harmless when it spends its time and energy on UFO’s, alien autopsies, and Bigfoot. But it’s dangerous when it’s aimed at tearing down an American president and lionizing despots. For the good of the country, and the world, they need to cease and desist. If they can’t, if they have such a great impulse to beat dead horses, then I recommend they beat on the ones that don’t do the rest of us great harm. Go to the great Northwest and look for Bigfoot. Take a pilgrimage to Roswell. There are enough dead horses there for them to beat on for the rest of their lives!


EuroYank said...

Yes the French are like that. A nation of 60 million, high unemployment, living beyond their means, lovers of the good life but not able to pay for it, preferred destination of six million imported arabs.

But they are just trying to make some dough.

They have always been the whores of Europe, and are the result of bad history and poor social upbringing.

but they have great food and drink, and they are egocentric but then

they did sell 40 PERCENT OF THE USA TO THE USA which used to be FRENCH,

I do not recall the USA ever selling huge bits of THEIR COUNTRY to anybody after they took huge chuncks from MEXICO, the DUTCH, and SPANISH and even RUSSIA (Alaska).

Allan said...

Won it in a fair fight and then paid for it, EuroYank.

Allan said...

You gave this the proper title, Phil. Unfortunately, if a lie is repeated often enough it will be believed to be the truth so the poor horse must be kicked again and again.

Gone Away said...

Just when I think I'm beginning to understand American politics, something happens to throw me into confusion again. Just as one example, I'd more or less got it straight that Democrats were bound by the laws of their party to hate George Dubya. Then you go and write this. Wham, there I am again, back at square one.

Then I am confronted with this business of the Louisiana purchase. I must be missing something because I just can't see the relevance of that. Must be a highly charged issue that a Brit will never understand...

Oh, and one more thing: can someone please explain to me what Tom Delay is supposed to have done wrong? I only ask because I want to know. :D

Phil Dillon, Prairie Apologist said...


Good questions. It's an issue apparently only to the French as far as I know. I think we view it as a fair and square purchase, much like we do the purchase of Alaska from the Russians.

I'm what's called a Kennedy Democrat, a JFK Democrat. His first innaugural has always been an important foundation for my political views. I believed those principles when I went to Vietnam in the 60's. I still believe them today regarding our intervention in Iraq. regardless of party affiliation it was the right thing to do.

I'm not sure on Tom Delay. I'm listening to some of the testimony on C-Span 2 this morning. All of this seems to pivot around Jack Abramhoff and his schemes to defraud the Choctaw Indians. To this point the only allusion to Delay I've heard seems to exonorate him.

More will follow, I'm sure