Dean Unveils The Democrats’ Six-Point Plan

From the spring meeting of the Democratic National Comittee in New Orleans:

Dean said that Democrats will fight for a six-point plan that includes raising the minimum wage, tax “fairness” for the middle class, “a complete ban on gifts and travel from lobbyists,” the inspection of all cargo coming into U.S. ports, fixing the Medicare drug plan and “transition” in Iraq.

Let’s translate and analyze the list, shall we?

(1) Raising the minimum wage. Want a good plan to raise the minimum wage? Support economic growth and hammer down on illegal immigration. Interfering with the market by imposing a minimum wage from on high does nothing but increase unemployment among those who can least afford to be without work.

(2) Tax ‘fairness’ for the middle class. Hold on to your wallets. Under the guise of ‘fairness’, what Dean is really talking about is tax increases. We can expect the rescission of most, if not all, of Bush’s tax cuts under Democratic leadership because, we will be told, they only benefit the rich unfairly. Forget the fact that large tax hikes will decrease ecomic activity, and, coupled with the minimum wage hike referred to above, result in widespread unemployment – wouldn’t want anyone holding onto productive money, now, would we?

(3) A complete ban on gifts and travel from lobbyists.
Sounds like a great idea…why don’t we also, while we’re at it, take away the ability of unions to spend mandatory levees on their membership for politicial causes those members may not support? Then maybe the Democrats will start showing a backbone on issues like school choice.

(4) The inspection of all cargo coming into the United States. So, we’re to increase our inspection rate from 5% to 100%. Sounds expensive. Sounds like another way to cripple economic activity. Sounds like more unemployment and a decisive decrease in trade. Sounds like pandering.

UPDATE 4/23/06 10:32 a.m.: Glenn Greenwald has this to say:

Mark Coffey of Decision 08 says that he is opposed to Howard Dean’s plan to inspect all of the cargo that enters the United States. Why are so many Bush supporters against programs to prevent Al Qaeda from shipping bombs and other dangerous materials into our country? In a Time of War, they want to leave our ports unprotected and help Al Qaeda smuggle bombs — perhaps even dirty bombs — into the U.S. They have a lot to answer for with their actions that impede the War on Terror.

Well, I hope Glenn’s tongue is well in-cheek because them’s fighting words. My reply:

Glenn, I’m not ‘opposed’ to inspecting all cargo. I’m also not opposed to giving every American $10 million in cash every Friday. It’s not realistic – it would take far too much money and time. I’ll put my support for the War on Terror up against anyone’s, save the tooth fairy.

UPDATE 2 4/23/06 10:39 a.m.: AJ points out that the UAE was going to pay for advanced cargo inspection equipment on their own dime in that deal that the Democrats were so quick to oppose for no good reason. I’ll adopt the tone of Glenn Greenwald: why are so many Democrats anxious to avoid a free gift that would keep ‘dirty bombs’ and other al-Qaeda materials out of our ports. Someone has a lot of explaining to do or else I’ll smear them with implications of being traitors…

UPDATE 3 4/23/06 7:02 p.m.: emptywheel at the Next Hurrah has a response that is, well, clueless at a level rarely achieved:

You see, one of the ways our country subsidizes globalization (and therefore the offshoring of American manufacturing jobs) is we do what we can to keep shipping costs low. Someone just dumps those t-shirts or sneakers or auto parts into a container, someone else drops those containers on a ship, they wait a few weeks, and voila, their cheaply produced goods are in Long Beach, all for a remarkably low fee. It’s that remarkably low fee that makes the whole arrangement possible. Because if it cost a lot of money to ship t-shirts from China, then we wouldn’t be buying our t-shirts in China, we’d be buying them in South Carolina. American t-shirt makers would be able to compete, even in spite of the much cheaper wages those Chinese t-shirt workers make.

The policy that says it’s adequate to inspect only 5% of the shipping containers coming into this country is one of the key factors keeping that shipping inexpensive. We know it’s not adequate. People have used shipping containers to smuggle people, nuclear material, and Russian jets. But big business and the right complain that they can’t inspect any more of the containers–if they did, it would be too expensive. (Should I point out the hypocrisy that some of the same people who want to build a fence across the entire border with Mexico refuse to put the equivalent between us and Asia?)

But what they’re really saying when they say that inspecting more of the containers would be too expensive, is that it would raise the cost of shipping. Which would, in turn, make globalized production less competitive. And would, in turn, make it easier for American workers to compete against lower-paid workers on the other side of the world. So when they say inspecting the shipping containers would be too expensive, they’re really saying that it would make it too difficult to offshore American jobs.

Sure, inspecting shipping containers would raise the price of unnecessary plastic items. But it would also give a big boost to American manufacturing.

Which is why I think Dean’s call for 100% inspection is good politics. It’s good politics because it would make us safer from terrorism–as well as a range of other illict smuggling. But it’s also good politics because it’s going to elicit a lot of responses like Coffey’s, making claims that it would be too expensive.

You see, I’d be happy to get into a debate on these terms. The right is basically saying we can’t protect ourselves against terrorism because if we did, we wouldn’t be able to outsource so many jobs. That’s a case I’d like to see them explain to out-of-work laborers in this country.

Really, the lack of economic knowledge that goes into this post is amusing. That’s a great Marxist argument and it would play well in the academy; here in the real world, however, we’re concerned about growing the economy, not shrinking it behind a protectionist wall.

(5) Fixing the Medicare drug plan. Not repealing, you understand, but ‘fixing’. Why fixing? Because the dirty little secret is that Bush’s prescription drug benefit, while prohibitively costly in my view, has become a rare domestic success story for the administration. Enrollment has exceeded expectations, and it appears that politically, it’s here to stay.

(6) “Transition” in Iraq. If you really want transition in Iraq, the Bush administration has been giving it to you. The Iraqi forces increasingly take the fight to the insurgents, and U.S. casualties are way, way down. As Bush often says, as the Iraqis stand up, we’ll stand down. Recent political movement and the long-delayed convening of parliament increase the momentum for positive change. Of course, that’s not what Dean means by ‘transition’; you know and I know that he means withdrawal. Some Americans may be prepared to declare a loss; many won’t be. Dean should be honest about his intentions, though; under the Democratic plan, Iraq is lost for lack of effort.

Quite a plan, then, when you look at it with a discriminating eye; 2006 may yet go the Republican way. For what seems ages now, the kick on the Democrats has been they didn’t have a plan; having seen the plan, their lack of one may have been their greatest advantage…

80 comments to Dean Unveils The Democrats’ Six-Point Plan

  • too many steves

    Alfredo: taxes are theft in that the government is taking the property of individuals by force (threat of jail). You say this is okay because we need the money for services such as roads and defense and such. I say ‘okay’ but it still is theft.

    I agree with you that we should pay for the services we use. I pay for the roads via the portion of the price of gasoline for my car that goes to the government. Or a least that’s what is supposed to happen but my local government uses gasoline fees for other stuff.

    We agree on this much though: there are few serious fiscal conservatives (deficit hawks) left in our national government.

  • peter

    I think that fatman’s points are well-taken, and I would respond as follows. (And by the way, how does that italics thing work?)

    1) Iraq was one of several countries which have supported terrorists. Saudi Arabia, North Korea, Syria, Libya, the UAE,, Iran, and Indonesia have all supported or turned a blind eye to terrorists. However, we did invade any of them. US foreign policy has never been to declare war because a country harbors terrorists. Moreover, as far as I am aware, Iraq was not harboring any of the terrorists you mentioned at the time we attacked him.

    The fact is that we were attacked by Al Qaeda. Bin Laden and many of his top people are still alive and well. (Could you imagine what we would hear from Republicans if there was a Democratic administration and bin Laden was free nearly five years after 9/11?). Not only have we been unable to capture him, but we gave him the best recruiting tool he could ever hope for. I’m all for fighting terrorist, but when you do so, you should shoot the other guy and not your own foot.

    2) “What have the Iraqis lost over the last three years?” If you take Bush’s estimate of 30,000 dead, you have the equivalent of one hundred 9/11’s for a country of Iraq’s size. I’m amazed anyone could ask this question.

    3) Re the Hussein family: of course it’s pure speculation what would have happened had we not invaded Iraq, but reporting from the trial and elsewhere shows Hussein to be a man who was indecisive, paranoid, and always fearful that each day would be his last because he apparently didn’t even trust those in his inner circle. It also seems that his kids were universally detested. I read these reports in the paper editions of the Times and the Economist – I’ll see if I can dig up something online.

    4) What happened to Saddam’s WMD? My guess is that, like everything else, the magnitude of his stockpiles was vastly exaggerated. What we do know is that there were no WMD to be found, and no evidence of recent activity to acquire them. (The meeting in Niger, which the administration seized upon to justify the invasion, happened four years before we invaded).

    5) You implicitly agree with my statement (Iran and North Korea are far greater threats), and I am sure you are correct that Al Qaeda is more of a loose confederation than something with a corporate structure (for lack of a better phrase). However, we did not invade Iraq to cut off Al Qaeda funding and safe havens. I am not aware of any reports that Iraq funded Al Qaeda, and any haven provided to its members was transitory and well before we attacked them.

    6) The issue of a pre-emptive war is complex, and I think there are times when it can be justified, but only when there is a clear and immediate danger. The Cuban missile crisis may fall in this category. However, the danger from Iraq was neither clear nor immediate – in fact, it was minimal and distant. Iraq did not have any weapons to threaten us, nor did they have the means to deliver them. If they decided to restart WMD programs, it would have been years before they could do anything. There are a lot of Iraqi kids who will grow up without parents because of an American policy mistake. To me, that is a very shameful thing.

  • To do italics put “< i>” (without the quotes) at the start of what you want to italicize, and “< /i>” (without the quotes) at the end…

  • tom

    Yep, Iraq is turning into a real picnic. Why can’t those idiotic democrates see what a paradise we are creating? One that is the envy of all the other Arab nations. Why I bet they cannot wait to see the American bombers!

    Sarcasm of course-though I doubt many of the Bush cult members can see it.

  • Yes, and there are millions of Iraqi kids who will grow up with a chance at real freedom that they would never have otherwise had…to me, not to acknowledge that is a very shameful thing…

  • Thanks for pointing out the sarcasm – if you find any Bush cult members, let us know!…

  • peter

    Mark: if Iraq turns into a democracy — a big if — then certainly the Iraqis will benefit. However, at this point it seems at least equally likely that Iraq will spin off into an ungovernable mess where one group fights another for the next one hundred years. We simply don’t know. I don’t think we should invade countries based on what might happen in the future.

    Is your argument that American military force should be used to invade other countries to impose our form of government on them?

    And if so, who gave us the right to do that?

  • No, my argument is that it’s more intellectually honest to use a moral calculus that acknowledges the brutality of the Hussein regime as well as the unfortunate Iraqis murdered by terrorists (keep in mind U.S. troops don’t intentionally target civilians, unless you happen to get your information from the Huffington Post or Daily Kos). You speak of the Iraqi children who have lost parents in this war, and that’s indeed sad. How about the Iraqi children and husbands sent videotapes of their mothers and other relatives being raped by the Baathists? And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

    How about this story from the same link?

    A woman known as ”Um Haydar” was beheaded reportedly without charge or trial at the end of December 2000. She was 25 years’ old and married with three children. Her husband was sought by the security authorities reportedly because of his involvement in Islamist armed activities against the state. He managed to flee the country. Men belonging to Feda’iyye Saddam came to the house in al-Karrada district and found his wife, children and his mother. Um Haydar was taken to the street and two men held her by the arms and a third pulled her head from behind and beheaded her in front of the residents. The beheading was also witnessed by members of the Ba’ath Party in the area. The security men took the body and the head in a plastic bag, and took away the children and the mother-in-law. The body of Um Haydar was later buried in al-Najaf. The fate of the children and the mother-in-law remains unknown.

    In another post you put the crime of torture on the heads of Americans – well, what happened at Abu Ghraib was a disgrace – but it was punished, and it involved nothing like the brutality that was a part of life under Saddam.

    Just because the war hasn’t been as smooth as we hope doesn’t mean it wasn’t a moral net plus…

  • matt

    Of course Bush’s plan is here to stay. It’s an entitlement program, and entitlement programs are impossible to repeal.

    I am chuckling at your transparent hypocrisy in cheering the ‘success’ of this program.

  • matt

    Mark-

    That’s not moral calculus, it’s emotionalism. You do a disservice to the terms of mathematics by associating them with your fuzzy-headed irrational litany of atrocities that serves only to bury rational cost benefit analysis in a torrent of glycerine tears.

  • matt, take the log out of your own eye…I didn’t cheer the success of the program, I said it was prohibitively costly in my view.

    As to your contemptible reference to the must brutal, sadistic acts of torture (taken directly from Amnesty International), and referring to that as emotionalism, I can only say shame on you; you should pray you never have to worry about such ‘emotionalism’.

    Moral calculus is a different thing from mathematics, and you can educate yourself with any search engine. I don’t have the time or the inclination to teach you basic philosophy.

  • matt

    Mark-

    As a non-idiot I am aware that ‘moral calculus’ is a term in common use – I was simply noting that in ordinary usage the term implies some kind of actual calculation, not the sort of emotional drivel you are purveying whose purpose is transparently to shut off all reasoning and calculation. I note that you immediately stoop to the ad hominem, making the typical fallacious implication that by my noting the emotionalism of your post, I am somehow belittling the fate of the victims. This is a very precise demonstration of the way this sort of argument is used to shut off rationality; hence my objection to the use of mathematical terms in the vicinity.

  • matt

    Let me close with this – foreign policy is always a matter of balancing considerations and dealing with the law of unintended consequences. States are not compelled to action by every statement of harm because there are limits to power. Rational discussions can only proceed with these basic ‘reality rules’ in place. Those who choose to discuss foreign policy without acknowledging this reality-based intellectual framework are nonserious, basically at the level of ‘some drunk guy at the bar’…

  • Again, the fact that you can refer to an accounting of truly abominable atrocities as ‘emotional drivel’ says volumes about yourself. You’re right, I don’t care to have a discussion of such nonsense…

  • peter

    Geez, I pack a lunch for my daughter, pick up some coffee, get to the office, and it’s turned into the Jerry Springer Show.

    In answer to post 58 (64 posts? Is that a record?):

    1) It is absolutely true that the bulk of the deaths are caused by Iraqis, and that the military takes utmost care to prevent the loss of civilian life. However, I think we bear a large share of the moral responsibility for innocent deaths, even if Iraqis planted the bombs, because it was our act of toppling the government and destabilizing the country which led to the insurgency and the sectarian violence. These things would not have happened if we chose not to invade Iraq.

    Now, you can argue that Hussein’s regime was worse, that there may be a brighter day ahead, etc., which makes the war a “moral net plus.” Based on what we have seen thus far, I don’t think you can make that case. Based on what may happen, we can’t tell. However, I think the important distinction is that we had no responsibility for the heinous things which Saddam did, but we are very culpable for the misery which the country has seen since we went in. There have always been sadistic and brutal leaders, and there always will be. Regime change for the purpose of deposing a hated dictator has never been American foreign policy, and for both moral and practical reasons. It is not our responsibility to be judge, jury, and executioner.

    However, I would ask this: if, as you imply above, you do not agree that “American military force should be used to invade other countries to impose our form of government on them,” then what is the justification for us to be in Iraq?

  • peter, we’ve covered this ground before. There were many reasons to invade Iraq, but the most pressing was that it was a long-term security threat to the United States. I still believe that to be 100% true, despite the poor intelligence that resulted in the WMD embarrassment. Let’s remember that we can’t retroactively apply our current knowledge to the decision at the time, however, and that the ENTIRE WORLD, more or less, took it as a given that Saddam had WMDs, even if there was widespread disagreement about what to do about it…

  • I’ve gotten EPU’d.

    Mark, I appreciate your reply to my “theoretical” arguments on the multiplier effect. You did not ridicule it at all.

    You’re right: consumer spending does remain high in spite of the Iraqi war. The flipside of this is that the savings rate is troublingly low.

    A direct effect of the current dissavings can be seen in the large (excessive) debt that has been piled up by consumers during the past few years.

    Another (less obvious) source of funding, I’d argue, is the following:

    The equity (i.e., wealth) that consumers have been able to build during the unprecedent U.S. economic expansion of the Clinton years.

    Anecdotally, I can tell you that many of the people I know — family, friends, colleagues, and former colleagues — have been digging into their savings in a material way over the last five years. And not because of life-cycle reasons; rather, because of a combination of job losses and shrinking wages that have characterized the Bush administration.

    I’d gladly discuss this in a separate discussion thread. Thanks for your input.

  • peter says: “However, I think the important distinction is that we had no responsibility for the heinous things which Saddam did”

    Whilst it’s true that we had no direct responsibility, we did have some indirect responsibility. Lest we forget:

    1. Saddam was our chief ally in the 1980s.
    2. We supported Saddam with intelligence and weaponry during his decade-long war against Iran.
    3. Most recently — after Saddam went from being our ally to being the “Hitler” of the mid-East in the 1990s –, the first Bush administration stood idly by whilst Saddam supressed, and brutally murdered, the Kurds and other opposition forces following the first Iraqi war.

  • Mark says: “the most pressing [reason for invading Iraq] was that it was a long-term security threat to the United States.”

    Let me play devil’s advocate for a moment:

    If, as you suggest, Iraq was a long-term threat – not an immediate or short-term threat, but a long-term threat –, then isn’t this the right war in the wrong time?

  • Well, implicit in your query is the idea that there was no reason to do what we did ‘now’ (with now being March 2003). But we had a Saddam Hussein who had been violating the terms of the ceasefire following Gulf War I for 12 years by the point, and a sanctions regime that was crumbling and threatening to fall apart all together under French and Russian corruption with Oil-For-Food. So ‘now’ was a decade overdue, already.

    The other way I would respond to ‘right war, wrong time’ is to ask when the right time would have been…explicit in the National Security strategy adopted in the wake of 9/11 was preemption, with the interpretation that we need not wait until you attack to fight back – not a new concept, but one that was singled out for stress. Saddam was a threat to his neighbors, a source of funding for Palestinian terrorism, and an inhuman tryant. None of these things depending on stockpiles of WMDs to be true.

    Add to that recent revelations revealing a more cozy relationship between al-Qaeda and Saddam than we have previously known or suspected (I’m not saying involvement in 9/11 – I don’t believe Saddam was involved, period; I’m talking about communication channels and the harboring of fugitives, things of that nature), and you have a pretty solid case for believing the choice was the correct one, despite the painfully sorrowful casualties we and the Iraqis have suffered…

  • Mark,

    I think we’ll have to agree to disagree. But before resting my argument, I’d like to use an analytical tool that you’ve alluded to rather frequently in your blog: cost-benefit.

    A cost-benefit analysis of the war in Iraq would summarily reveal that the costs incurred to date far outstrip the benefits — with no improvement in site.

    Our actions have significantly de-stabilized the region; strengthened our most vociferous enemy, Iran; radicalized a large and growing number of otherwise secular Muslims; made friends of former natural enemies – Osama’s jihadists and non-radical Muslims – against a common enemy, the U.S., etc., etc., etc.

    I have not even mentioned the thousands and thousands of lives that have been lost or permanently crippled in this war.

    Now, one could argue whether these losses are due to poor execution or dubious war rationale. I’d reply by saying, Both.

    That which starts poorly, ends poorly.

  • Wait a minute! There were seventy posts a minute ago. Now only 67 (or 68 now I suppose). What happened?

  • That IS strange…maybe my spam filter went and zapped a couple? I noticed it, too…

  • Yep, it was the spam filter – it doesn’t like you, Alfredo! Sorry it keeps eating your comments – I do check it regularly to make sure I try to recover real posts that get inadvertently marked as spam…in any event, we’ve enjoyed your contribution, so sorry for the frustration…

  • Ryan Bonneville

    Wow, this thing has gotten huge. I just want to post again so I can be at the beginning and the end.

    Also, on the Iraq War, I was a supporter from the beginning. In fact, long before the war began I was a vocal advocate of using American military power to spread freedom. Peter, you claim that we were not responsible for Saddam’s atrocities but are responsible for those that have happened since he was deposed, and that’s moral cowardice at its greatest. We are human beings and our country possesses the greatest forces for freedom on this Earth – diplomatic, military, and economic. For us to stand idly by while people are oppressed and slaughtered because it isn’t our problem is reprehensible. Who else is going to fix it? The Iraqi dissenters were too busy being raped and shot, if I recall correctly.

    That said, to claim that we’ve actually made the world better by removing Saddam is a long shot in the extreme. My position that the U.S. military should be used to make people more free rests on the assumption that that’s what we’re actually doing with it. In very few senses are the people of Iraq more free now than they were with Saddam around and, on top of that, we’ve put Iran in a position to be a whole lot worse for a whole lot longer. This war has been a near-total disaster and I sincerely doubt that I would advocate so forcefully for it if given another chance.

    I join TWL in agreeing with Peter: Bush is clearly unfit for office. Those who continue to defend him are either lying or delusional. Mark, I apologize for saying that to you, but I can’t see how you can stand by this man. His presidency is a failure.

  • peter

    I have no problem using diplomatic or economic leverage against corrupt regimes. I also have no problem using military force to end ethnic cleansing (e.g., Bosnia), to defeat an invader (the first gulf war), or to defend allies (World War II). I do have a problem using military force to invade a sovereign state which has not attacked us.

    I do not think we should have invaded Pol Pot’s Cambodia, Idi Amin’s Uganda, Mao’s China, Stalin’s Russia, or today’s Burma, all of which are as bad or worse than Hussein’s Iraq. It has never been American foreign policy to topple unsavory regimes, and (in my opinion) for good reason.

  • fatman

    In very tardy reply (sorry about that) to peter’s post (#52):

    I think that fatman’s points are well-taken, and I would respond as follows. (And by the way, how does that italics thing work?)

    1) Iraq was one of several countries which have supported terrorists. Saudi Arabia, North Korea, Syria, Libya, the UAE,, Iran, and Indonesia have all supported or turned a blind eye to terrorists. However, we did invade any of them. US foreign policy has never been to declare war because a country harbors terrorists. Moreover, as far as I am aware, Iraq was not harboring any of the terrorists you mentioned at the time we attacked him.

    The fact is that we were attacked by Al Qaeda. Bin Laden and many of his top people are still alive and well. (Could you imagine what we would hear from Republicans if there was a Democratic administration and bin Laden was free nearly five years after 9/11?). Not only have we been unable to capture him, but we gave him the best recruiting tool he could ever hope for. I’m all for fighting terrorist, but when you do so, you should shoot the other guy and not your own foot.

    It’s true that the countries you named did and/or do support terrorism or look the other way. However, only two of those countries–North Korea and Iraq–were believed to have WMD. And since North Korea had nuclear weapons and was testing intermediate-range missiles, we couldn’t invade without the risk of getting our troops vaporised (and maybe the cities of Seoul, Manilla, and Tokyo as well). Thus it made more sense to deal with North Korea diplomatically, which we’re trying to do. Of the rest, Iraq, based on what we thought we knew at the time, seemed to be the biggest threat, and thus was dealt with militarily. As for Al Qaeda, while Bin Laden is still on the loose, I was under the impression that we had rounded up or killed a good many of his lieutenants. Correct me if I’m wrong.

    Of the terrorists I named, 1) Abu Nidal was openly in Iraq when he either committed suicide or (more likely) was murdered by Saddam’s security forces in 2002. 2) Abu Abbas (of Achille Lauro infamy) was captured just south of Bagdhad by U.S. forces in 2003 and ended up dying while in custody. 3) Abu Moussab al-Zarqawi went to Iraq after he was wounded in the fighting in Afghanistan. There he founded Ansar al-Islam (now known as Al Qaeda in Iraq), a terrorist group that operated the training camp in NE Iraq and launched attacks against the Kurds. And whom Saddam refused to extradite to Jordan when King Abdullah personally requested it (al Zarqawi is a Jordanian national). Only Carlos the Jackal was arrested elswhere

    2) “What have the Iraqis lost over the last three years?” If you take Bush’s estimate of 30,000 dead, you have the equivalent of one hundred 9/11’s for a country of Iraq’s size. I’m amazed anyone could ask this question.

    While I agree that 30,000 innocent civilians killed is a horrible price to pay, compare that to the estimated one million Kuwaitis, Kurds, Iraqi Shi’ites and Iranians who died during the twenty-four years of Saddams’s regime. Many of them after Bush the Elder left the Shi’ites hanging out to dry in 1991.

    3) Re the Hussein family: of course it’s pure speculation what would have happened had we not invaded Iraq, but reporting from the trial and elsewhere shows Hussein to be a man who was indecisive, paranoid, and always fearful that each day would be his last because he apparently didn’t even trust those in his inner circle. It also seems that his kids were universally detested. I read these reports in the paper editions of the Times and the Economist – I’ll see if I can dig up something online.

    As you say, pure speculation. Paranoia is the lot brutal dictators. And Iraq under Saddam sounds a lot like late Imperial Rome, where the army controlled the people, the Praetorian Guard controlled the rest of the army, and Ceasar worried about how to control the Praetorian Guard. But even if you’re right, how long would it have taken? How many more people would have died in Saddam’s torture chambers? And what other mischief would he and his brats have gotten up to?

    4) What happened to Saddam’s WMD? My guess is that, like everything else, the magnitude of his stockpiles was vastly exaggerated. What we do know is that there were no WMD to be found, and no evidence of recent activity to acquire them. (The meeting in Niger, which the administration seized upon to justify the invasion, happened four years before we invaded).

    Maybe so, but I seem to recall Hans Blix reporting that there were some 600 to 1,000 tons of materials from Saddam’s WMD program unaccounted for (No, I can’t remember where I read it and every time I try a Google search, I end in sensory overload). I also recall that troops found 500 tons of unrefined uranium and 1.8 metric tons of yellowcake at a place called Tuwaitha (BBC, 21 June, 2003). And we have found equipment that could have been used to produce chemical and biological weapons.

    5) You implicitly agree with my statement (Iran and North Korea are far greater threats), and I am sure you are correct that Al Qaeda is more of a loose confederation than something with a corporate structure (for lack of a better phrase). However, we did not invade Iraq to cut off Al Qaeda funding and safe havens. I am not aware of any reports that Iraq funded Al Qaeda, and any haven provided to its members was transitory and well before we attacked them.

    North Korea was then, and is now a greater threat than Iraq, but as I said before, one best handled diplomatically if possible. And while Iran may now be greater threat than Iraq was then, at the time nobody that I know of thought that. Which is why we invaded Iraq first. There also appears to be a much larger and better organized oppostion to Iran’s theocracy then there was to Hussein’s dictatorship, which gives us hope that the Iranians may institute regime change on their own.

    6) The issue of a pre-emptive war is complex, and I think there are times when it can be justified, but only when there is a clear and immediate danger. The Cuban missile crisis may fall in this category. However, the danger from Iraq was neither clear nor immediate – in fact, it was minimal and distant. Iraq did not have any weapons to threaten us, nor did they have the means to deliver them. If they decided to restart WMD programs, it would have been years before they could do anything. There are a lot of Iraqi kids who will grow up without parents because of an American policy mistake. To me, that is a very shameful thing.

    peter, you and I are going to have to agree to disagree on this point. To wait until your enemy has marshalled all of his forces and weapons and is ready to attack is sheer lunacy when those weapons include WMD. That way lies far higher casualty counts, military and civilian, than we’ve seen in Iraq so far. Far better to take him before he’s ready and (hopefully) minimize the loss of life.

    As for shameful policy mistakes, Bush the Elder’s encouraging the Iraqi Shi’ites to rise up against Saddam and then abandoning them was far more shameful and (I suspect) cost far more innocent civilians their lives than anything Bush the Younger has done. What Bush the Younger is doing now is correcting that very shameful policy mistake.

  • fatman

    Sorry about the long-winded rants, Mark.

  • Hey, rant away anytime!…

  • Pink Floyd

    Dittos to Mark and his pointed questions of the Dem’s “6 Point Plan”. Strangely, the Plan does not address the war on terrorism and illegal immigration. Another “point” the Dem’s should (but dare not until in office) is “gun control” or as they put it – “gun safety”. Remember what Sen. Feinstein said on “60 Minutes” in reference to Clinton’s “assault weapons” ban. She said if she knew she had the votes she’d would have said it’s time to turn them (guns) in Mr. and Mrs. America.
    I guess the Dem’s want what Great Britain has an escalating violent crime rate even with a ban on handguns since 1997 and very strict controls on long arms. Even with a Cambridge U study “Firearms Control” by Colin Greenwood back in ’71 concluded there was no connection between gun control laws and violent crime. Back early this century, Britain was a benevolent society with very low crime rate when there was NO GUN CONTROL LAWS. The study showed that social and cultural mores affected crime rates. And again the King’s College of London released their study “Illegal Firearms in the UK” in 2002 stated the same.
    But don’t take my word for it on this issue. Here’s a challenge to the skeptics. Log onto any of Britain’s papers – The Times, The Telegraph, The Guardian, etc. and do a subject search and see what articles pop up. You might even come across a call to ban knives as another insane bureaucratic answer to their violent crime.

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