Thursday, December 29, 2011

Pat Buchanan on the American departure from Iraq

Pat Buchanan has a superb essay on the American draw-down in Iraq.

I originally supported the war, but I believe now that it was unwise. Saddam was a thug, but the world is full of thugs, and it's not our job to depose all of them. The 'weapon of mass destruction' argument was obviously an honest mistake-- it was believed by practically all informed observers and intelligence services that Iraq had them-- but I don't think that there was sufficient reason to think that they would be used against us.

I believe the war was wrong for several reasons:

1) War should be the last option. We had other options.

2) Deposing Saddam greatly strengthened Iran, which is a much more dangerous foe. This was predictable, and was predicted by some opponents of the war.

3) I believe that the overthrow of Saddam served as a catalyst for the revolts in many Arab countries, which have overthrown several dictators. As bad as the dictators are, this provides an opportunity for Islamic radicals to seize power. They will make effective use of the opportunity.

The Muslim Arab world is changing rapidly, in part because of our overthrow of Saddam, and it will not likely be a change for the better.

This of course does nothing to diminish the courage and sacrifice of our soldiers, who served with honor and who deserve our deepest gratitude. 


  1. Michael,

    I don't think that everyone believed that Saddam Hussein had WMDs. 'Newsweek' for example was running articles in the months before the invasion noting that the case for him having WMDs hadn't been adequately made, and that defectors (including the Iraqi ones) usually tell you 150% of what they know. Even worse, they often tell you what you want to hear.

    Agreed. Saddam was a thug, and the world is a better place for him not being around. Removing him could have been justified on the basis that he had an ambition of acquiring WMDs, had plenty of oil to finance the acquisition, and it was only sanctions stopping him, which were causing a lot of suffering for the Iraqi people, so removing him and the sanctions was the lesser evil.

    Unfortunately, the planning was inadequate. Rumsfeld thought he could do it on the cheap, with only around 100,000 troops to maintain security after the successful invasion. Having guards outside the oil ministry while the museum of antiquities unprotected was being looted was a very bad impression.

    Germany after WWII had millions of occupying troops. At the very least, the Iraqi army shouldn't have been disbanded, and should have been retained to maintain security.

    America attempted to achieve victory cheaply. Unfortunately, due to poor planning, it cost at least 3 trillion dollars, all on the government credit card. A lot of the 3 trillion dollars was borne by the soldiers in lost lives and permanent disabilities, the rehabilitation of which were also I adequately funded for by the government.

    Agreed. As with the Vietnam veterans, the soldiers shouldn't suffer for the mistakes of their respective governments.

  2. This should have been obvious to everyone when prior to the war UN weapons inspectors reported “good” cooperation from the Iraqi’s, where unable to find any sign of a WMD program, then where forced out of Iraq by the U.S.


  3. There’s no-way the WMD charge was an honest mistake. This should have been obvious to everyone prior to the war when UN weapons inspectors reported “good” cooperation from the Iraqis, where unable to find any sign of a WMD program, then where forced out of Iraq by the U.S.

    Now that we are looking at similar and this time credible allegations of a WMD program in Iran, the contrast between the phony hype before the Iraq war and the intelligence coming out of Iran illustrates the almost cartoon-like nature of the Iraq intelligence.

    Consider Collin Powell telling the UN that Iraq was developing remotely piloted vehicles that where capable of attacking our homeland, when in fact, according to contemporaneous reports in Aviation Week and Space Technology, they had converted a Cessna to fly by remote control.

    The Iraq war was indeed a huge disaster, perhaps the worst foreign policy decision in the history of this country. It’s a shame that Buchanan feels he must protect the shameful liars that caused this mess.


  4. Seeing Pat Buchanan's admission that he was wrong and subsequent sober and reasonable analysis of why just confirms what I've always thought of him.

  5. Of course, he's wrong about immigration, too.

  6. Pat is wrong for logistical reasons alone. Iran is the primary threat in the region and having bases in Iraq would have gone a long way towards containing them. Obama has since given that advantage away, alas. Sans Iraq, just where would you stage from? Saudi Arabia is close, but it lacks a land border. The smart thing to have done would have been to sign military treaties with Iraq and positioned an armored and infantry division there along with some supporting air assets.

  7. Re: WMDs. Military Intelligence has always been a guessing game and in the end it's percentages risk vs. percentages reward. A smoking hole where Chicago was vs. smacking down a horrid tyrant was the right decision in my book. I don't know if you guys understand the concept of expected values, but those calculations would have led me to attack Iraq, too.

  8. Re: Weapons of mass destruction.
    This is a word game. By the definition of the term as understood in the pre 9/11 intelligence community, ALL the players in the region are in possession of them. The old definition includes all weapons that cause mass destruction.
    To assume this was justification for invasion (IE Iraq has conventional explosives, or missiles) is just silly.
    That definition was not the public understanding. The popular idea of what constitutes a 'WMD' was fuelled by armchair general style media analysis of suitcase nukes being set off in major cities, replete with maps of the blast radius.
    The public was allowed to confuse the two, for convenience's sake. Bad call on the part of the participating governments.
    But all that spin has no real bearing on the validity of the invasion, or occupation - which I see as two separate issues.
    I will be frank: My biggest issue with the Iraq campaign has been the lack of reparations. The step to NOT bill Iraq for the invasion via oil profits was very foolish. But that is the 'peace' (truce/occupation) not the war itself....

  9. K T Cat, if Saddam met the minimum, everybody does. Pick any country, and a search will find some Curveball to promote its invasion and a Ahmed Chalabi who wants to be in charge. The One Percent Doctrine, if carried out, would waste huge resources running around punching the whole world in the face.
    Heck, Pakistan is a stronger case than Iraq was, and they're our best friends. And are Sunnis. And support (under the table, now) the delightful people in Afghanistan who helped those guys who did that thing on that day with those planes and those buildings. And they actually have the Bomb.

    crusadeREX "I will be frank: My biggest issue with the Iraq campaign has been the lack of reparations. The step to NOT bill Iraq for the invasion via oil profits was very foolish"
    Obviously. I know that when my own ideologically-fueled invasions and lengthy occupations unleash hell on people who aren't me, I like to send them a cost-plus bill for the privilege. "Greet me as liberators!" I say, as I'm driving around, shooting them full of Freedom Holes. Also, "Moo ha-ha!"


    Also, Buchanan's a boob, and when he's right it's for the wrong reasons. Kind of like Bill Maher but, y'know, NeoConfederate.

  10. "if Saddam met the minimum, everybody does."

    Well, not everybody, but certainly some set of nations that includes Iran, Iraq and North Korea. I would argue that you might as well knock them off when you can to prevent future problems. As for Pakistan, the jury on them was still out circa 2001.

    Whenever we have a time of moderate peace, people always assume it will go on forever without some amount of international hygiene. Then they get surprised when that isn't the case and have to gear up all over again to take down someone that, in retrospect, should have been nailed years earlier at a much lower cost.

    See also: Iran, recent urban rioting of.

  11. Modus,
    Your response to mine hollow.
    What do you think about reparations?
    Nobody cares about your proclivity to fire on civilians.
    Or are you suggesting that is what I do for a living in a military capacity?
    If so you are greatly mistaken, and I find your characterization of our military deeply offensive.
    I did not suggest gang land drive by shootings, I suggested the LACK of reparations is an almost completely unprecedented MESS.
    The loser foots the bill. That is how war works.
    Money is the CHEAP way out, Modus.
    I wish to ask you a question directly. I mean this as no offence, but I ask this question of almost everyone that makes a comment like your drive-by one.
    Have YOU ever been shot or shot at, Modus?

  12. crusadeREX, taking land is easy. Winning hearts and minds is hard. The Iraq adventure was rife with profiteering, incompetence, torture, and Blackwater. I don't know which did more harm.