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Balanced Fare: We Report, You Deride

Wednesday, August 06, 2003



Words Of Wisdom

You see right through me - next up, topical quotations from a surprising source. Yeah, yeah, it's been done, but here we go anyway:

(a) We must combat an unholy axis of new threats from terrorists, international criminals, and drug traffickers. These 21st century predators feed on technology and the free flow of information and ideas and people. And they will be all the more lethal if weapons of mass destruction fall into their hands.

(b) For nearly a decade, Iraq has defied its obligations to destroy its weapons of terror and the missiles to deliver them. America will continue to contain Saddam, and we will work for the day when Iraq has a Government worthy of its people.

(c) A third challenge we have is to keep this inexorable march of technology from giving terrorists and potentially hostile nations the means to undermine our defenses. Keep in mind, the same technological advances that have shrunk cell phones to fit in the palms of our hands can also make weapons of terror easier to conceal and easier to use.

We must meet this threat by making effective agreements to restrain nuclear and missile programs in North Korea, curbing the flow of lethal technology to Iran, preventing Iraq from threatening its neighbors, increasing our preparedness against chemical and biological attack, protecting our vital computer systems from hackers and criminals, and developing a system to defend against new missile threats, while working to preserve our ABM missile treaty with Russia. We must do all these things.

I predict to you, when most of us are long gone but some time in the next 10 to 20 years, the major security threat this country will face will come from the enemies of the nation state: the narcotraffickers and the terrorists and the organized criminals, who will be organized together, working together, with increasing access to ever-more sophisticated chemical and biological weapons. And I want to thank the Pentagon and others for doing what they're doing right now to try to help protect us and plan for that, so that our defenses will be strong. I ask for your support to ensure they can succeed.


OK, a puzzle - in 10 to 20 years, when most of us are long gone? Long gone from what - this speech was not delivered at a geriatrics' convention. Long gone from public office? Maybe.

Anyway, good call, although, after the fact, a slightly more alarmist time frame might have been better.

And since you are way ahead of me, that was then-President Bill Clinton, at his State of the Union addresses in 1998, 1999, and 2000, warning about terrorists gaining access to WMDs, and the long term threat of Iraq, which, in his formulation, seemed to possess WMDs.

For the curious, Osama gets one mention (as "Usama"), in the 1999 speech:

As we work for peace, we must also meet threats to our Nation's security, including increased dangers from outlaw nations and terrorism. We will defend our security wherever we are threatened, as we did this summer when we struck at Usama bin Ladin's network of terror. The bombing of our Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania reminds us again of the risks faced every day by those who represent America to the world.

UPDATE: We get by, with a little help. Here are some more recent comments from an unexpected source. But I bet you'll guess it.

(1) there is no doubt in my mind that Saddam Hussein still seeks to amass weapons of mass destruction. You know as well as I do that as long as Saddam Hussein stays in power there can be no comprehensive peace for the people of Israel or the people of the Middle East. We have made it clear that it is our policy to see Saddam Hussein gone.

...We have used force when necessary, and that has been frequently. And we will not let up in our efforts to free Iraq from Saddam's rule. Should he think of challenging us, I would strongly advise against it. As a senator, I voted for the use of force, as vice president I supported the use of force. If entrusted with the presidency, my resolve will never waiver. Never waiver.


Darn, there is a bit of a hint there where he says "as vice-president." YES, it was our man Al, speaking on May 23, 2000, to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee Conference at the Washington Hilton Hotel. And on behalf of Al's many fans, let's note - although he claimed his resolve would never waver as president, he said nothing about whether he would waive this resolution under the stresses of life as a private citizen.

Hmm. This lacks a bit of suspense, but here we go:

(2) Iraq does pose a serious threat to the stability of the Persian Gulf and we should organize an international coalition to eliminate his access to weapons of mass destruction. Iraq’s search for weapons of mass destruction has proven impossible to completely deter and we should assume that it will continue for as long as Saddam is in power. Moreover, no international law can prevent the United States from taking actions to protect its vital interests, when it is manifestly clear that there is a choice to be made between law and survival. I believe, however, that such a choice is not presented in the case of Iraq. Indeed, should we decide to proceed, that action can be justified within the framework of international law rather than outside it. In fact, though a new UN resolution may be helpful in building international consensus, the existing resolutions from 1991 are sufficient from a legal standpoint.

Here, a clear statement as to whether Presidient Bush is asserting that Iraq is an imminent threat:

[President Bush] has compounded this by asserting a new doctrine - of preemption.

The doctrine of preemption is based on the idea that in the era of proliferating WMD, and against the background of a sophisticated terrorist threat, the United States cannot wait for proof of a fully established mortal threat, but should rather act at any point to cut that short.


Now, let's be fair - the latter snippents were taken from Al Gore's speech on Sept. 23, 2002, where he advocated an "Al-Qaeda first" strategy and opposed war with Iraq now. However, he surely contributed to a public perception that Saddam was a continuing threat to the region.

Stray Aside: This group seems to have assembled all sorts of relevant links on the run-up to war.

Here is Al Gore from July 7, 2003. We will comment on some major news overlooked by others, and mock his effort more directly.

MORE: This "Great Quotes" game is like eating potato chips. And you will never, ever guess the source:

...In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including Al Qaeda members, though there is apparently no evidence of his involvement in the terrible events of September 11, 2001.

It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons. Should he succeed in that endeavor, he could alter the political and security landscape of the Middle East, which as we know all too well affects American security.

Now this much is undisputed. The open questions are: what should we do about it? How, when, and with whom?


Sen. Hillary Clinton, recycling Administration lies on October 10, 2002. Adding emphasis would be too brutal, but I love the "given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists" bit.

And, lest the suspense vex you, first, she offers the neocon argument for war - transform the Middle East:

Some people favor attacking Saddam Hussein now, with any allies we can muster, in the belief that one more round of weapons inspections would not produce the required disarmament, and that deposing Saddam would be a positive good for the Iraqi people and would create the possibility of a secular democratic state in the Middle East, one which could perhaps move the entire region toward democratic reform.

This view has appeal to some, because it would assure disarmament; ...and because it would give the Iraqi people a chance to build a future in freedom.

However, this course is fraught with danger....

So, Mr. President, for all its appeal, a unilateral attack, while it cannot be ruled out, on the present facts is not a good option.


OK, the suspense is starting to vex me.

Others argue that we should work through the United Nations and should only resort to force if and when the United Nations Security Council approves it. This too has great appeal for different reasons....

But there are problems with this approach as well.


Man, this reads like something I might have written. One more hand, and she could play all the instruments in a jazz band herself. She points out that the UN failed to authorize Kosovo, then adds:

In the case of Iraq, recent comments indicate that one or two Security Council members might never approve force against Saddam Hussein until he has actually used chemical, biological, or God forbid, nuclear weapons.

The sort of alarmist comment Big Al warned about!

OK, we close in on her big finish:

...While there is no perfect approach to this thorny dilemma, and while people of good faith and high intelligence can reach diametrically opposed conclusions, I believe the best course is to go to the UN for a strong resolution that scraps the 1998 restrictions on inspections and calls for complete, unlimited inspections with cooperation expected and demanded from Iraq. I know that the Administration wants more, including an explicit authorization to use force, but we may not be able to secure that now, perhaps even later. But if we get a clear requirement for unfettered inspections, I believe the authority to use force to enforce that mandate is inherent in the original 1991 UN resolution, as President Clinton recognized when he launched Operation Desert Fox in 1998.

I will never say this again, but I could vote for the person who said that. She seems to exactly predict the upcoming diplo-tango: we eventually got the ambiguous "one resolution" approach. Then, when we could not get a second resolution explicitly authorizing force, we relied on existing UN authority. And she goes on:

...a good faith effort by the United States [at the UN], even if it fails, will bring more allies and legitimacy to our cause, I have concluded, after careful and serious consideration, that a vote for the [Senate] resolution best serves the security of our nation.

OK. I am so overcome by her logic that I skipped this inflamatory bit:

...should we put troops on the ground, there is still the matter of Saddam Hussein's biological and chemical weapons. Today he has maximum incentive not to use them or give them away. If he did either, the world would demand his immediate removal. Once the battle is joined, however, with the outcome certain, he will have maximum incentive to use weapons of mass destruction and to give what he can't use to terrorists who can torment us with them long after he is gone.

Good point! But doesn't it follow that he must have them? She was lied to by Bush! So much for Senate oversight committees (she is on Armed Services, and presumably Bob Graham is not a sphinx.)

OK, we are running waay long. No more. Well, this letter from CIA Director George Tenet to Bob Graham, chairman of the Intelligence Committee, was made public Oct. 7, 2002, or just prior to the statement by Sen. Clinton, and briefly describes the link between Saddam and terrorist groups. And the reliably port-listing Nation comments on it!

MORE: Can't get enough? Here are more unlikely quotes.

I Can Stop Anytime: But before I do, Joe Lieberman, Oct. 7, 2002:

Last Wednesday, I joined with Senators McCain, Bayh, and Warner to introduce the resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq, and I will support it against all challenges.

I did so because Saddam Hussein heads a rabid, rogue regime that is a special danger among all nations: a place where vicious tyranny, anti-American animus, weapons of mass destruction, an unmatched record of using them repeatedly, and support for international terrorism come together to create a very poisonous government.

The United Nations must disarm this dictator now. It is, after all, U.N. commitments that Saddam has consistently defied. But if the U.N. proves itself unwilling or unable to act, America will have no choice but to deploy our military as part of an international coalition to keep the world safe from Saddam. We hope that war will not be necessary, but if it is, we must be ready. We will have friends and allies who will join us. And we will succeed.


He then presents the neocon argument for war with Iraq as a means of transforming the Middle East. The neocons are everywhere!

...we must not only "drain the swamp" of terrorists, as Secretary Rumsfeld has aptly put it. We also must seed the garden with our best values, and our best political and economic ideas and support.

This imperative could not be clearer than it is in Iraq, at the heart of the world's most volatile region, amid the violent spawning grounds and training camps of world terrorism. If a civil society can grow there — if a garden of freedom and opportunity can flourish where the biblical Garden of Eden grew — the fruits of that garden will spread throughout the region and the Arab and Muslim world.


Well, who is Joe Lieberman, anyway? In 2000, Al Gore thought he was qualified to be one heartbeat (or, in Al's case, one failed memory chip) away from the Presidency. Now, he is a fellow with no hope as a candidate in his own party. And I really have to stop - too many Dems are making sense.


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