Sunday, September 11, 2005

4 Years Ago Today

It was 4 years ago this morning that I had pretty much the following IM exchange with a friend of mine:

Mark: "Oh my God, an airplane just crashed into the World Trade Center."
Me: "Like a little airplane?"
Mark: "No, like a commercial jet. Oh my God, I'm watching it now."
Me: "Crap. That was no accident."

Moments later, he IM'ed me that a second plane just hit. He watched it live.

I wonder how many Americans actually who Osama Bin Laden was before that?

Here we are, 4 years later. We've ousted his umbrella government in Afghanistan. I believe Osama Bin Laden is dead. Al Queda is still around -- no surprise there.

And we're in Iraq. Due to bad communication by the Bush Administration (for whatever reason) and a highly successful campaign by the left to discredit Bush -- a large portion of the country feel we shouldn't be there, and that this has nothing to do with the War on People Who Are Using Terror Tactics Against Us.

I find this disturbing, since I've seen the connection from the beginning. It's a very, very strong connection. It has little to do with the Iraqi government's involvement -- directly in 9/11 -- but Iraq's government had a lot to do with the motivation behind 9/11.

Many of the people who think we shouldn't be in Iraq believe that Bush lied about Saddam having "Weapons of Mass Destruction" (a euphamism for Chem/Bio/Nuclear weapons). They believe that the Bush administration "cooked up" the WMD story, and that he knew that Hussein did not have such weapons anymore.

Let's take a look at what Washington thought just 3 years before 9/11 --

The United States is prepared to use substantial force against Iraq if diplomatic efforts fail to resolve the crisis over U.N. weapons inspections - We must stop Saddam from ever again jeopardizing the stability and security of his neighbors with weapons of mass destruction."- Madeline Albright (Secretary of State), Feb 1, 1998

"Iraq is a long way from [the USA], but what happens there matters a great deal here. For the risks that the leaders of a rogue state will use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons against us or our allies is the greatest security threat we face."- Madeline Albright (Secretary of State), Feb 18, 1998

"If you remember in 1991, Saddam Hussein invaded another country, he plagued it, he set fire to it, and he decided that he could control the region. Before that, he had gassed his own people. Hussein has chosen to spend his money on building weapons of mass destruction and palaces for his cronies."- Madeline Albright (Secretary of State), Nov. 10, 1999

"He will use those weapons of mass destruction again, as he has ten times since 1983. If we fail to respond, Saddam and all those who follow will believe that they can threaten the security of a vital region with impunity. But if we act now as one, we will send a clear message to would-be tyrants and terrorists that we will do what it takes to protect our security and our freedom."- Sandy Berger, Clinton National Security Adviser, Feb, 18, 1998

"Saddam Hussein has been engaged in the development of weapons of mass destruction technology which is a threat to countries in the region and he has made a mockery of the weapons inspection process."- Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D, CA), Dec. 16, 1998

"Look, we have exhausted virtually all our diplomatic effort to get the Iraqis to comply with their own agreements and with international law. Given that, what other option is there but to force them to do so?" - Sen. Tom Daschle (D, ND), Feb. 11, 1998

"The U.S. should strike, strike hard and strike decisively. In this instance, the administration needs to act sooner rather than later."- Sen. Robert Byrd (D, WV), Nov 14, 1998

Did Bush cook all that up?

After he left office, on Larry King Live, Clinton says:

"When I left office, there was a substantial amount of biological and chemical material unaccounted for.."

"We might have gotten it all, we might have gotten half of it, we might have gotten none of it."

I read and heard several interviews with Clinton during last year's election process and I noted how reluctant he was to criticize Bush on Iraq.

I don't think his restraint is calculated to help Hillary get elected in '08. I think he knew what Bush knew and was unwilling to criticize the man for doing what himself had called for earlier.

Then there's this from Clinton as President on Feb 18, 1998:

[if Saddam Hussein] "fails to comply, and we fail to act, or we take some ambiguous third route which gives him yet more opportunities to develop his program of weapons of mass destruction and continue to press for the release of the sanctions and continue to ignore the solemn commitments that he made? Well, he will conclude that the international community has lost its will. He will then conclude that he can go right on and do more to rebuild an arsenal of devastating destruction."

"If we fail to respond today, Saddam and all those who would follow in his footsteps will be emboldened tomorrow." ... "Some day, some way, I guarantee you, he'll use the arsenal."

This was after his buildup of US Military in the Gulf in Jan/Feb 1998.

That ambiguous third route is what Saddam counted on again and again, and the U.N. kept handing it to him. Less than a week later, Kofi Annan struck a deal with the Hussein -- which once more gave U.N. inspectors permission to inspect. The only thing he responded to was force, and even then it was always just enough response to get the threat backed off.

Ten months after Saddam accepted Annan's offer, he kicked U.N. weapons inspectors out of Iraq for good. The US complained. Then Clinton (Dec, 1998) dropped the bombs he talked about on Lary King Live. (without even consulting the UN Security Council) A year after the inspectors were banished, the U.N. created a new inspection regime which inspected only what Saddam Hussein would allow it to inspect. Saddam was a master at buying more time. Was he hiding the fact that he didn't have the weapons, or was he hiding the fact that he did? How the hell was anybody supposed to know? Given his well understood motives and history, does it really matter? Could we afford to wait? We thought we could afford to wait on Bin Laden. We were wrong.

The Bush administration didn't just make this up.

I didn't include the many quotes from the same Democrats now against Bush (I mean the war) that many of these same people (plus Kerry) made in 2002 which further bolstered the idea that everbody was sure Saddam was a menace and was trying to hide that menace. I didn't include them on purpose make the point that the Bush administration wasn't just cooking up a story and feeding it to them. This is all Clinton era.

Why should anyone expect different results each time we threatened, he appeased just enough... over and over.... to buy more time? The hard-left's opposition was quickly gaining traction in the middle left. There really wasn't much time.

Couple this with the fact that one of Bin Laden's biggest peeves was -- Western (mostly US and Brit) troops on sacred (Saudi) soil. Why were we there? Because we were the only ones willing to lift a finger to contain Saddam and try to enforce the myriad of otherwise toothless UN resolutions. (was it 14 or 17 by this time?) So how do we get off of Saudi soil (er... sand)? Pull out and leave Saddam unrestrained ? Not a good option. The best option would be to finish the war that brought us there 10 years earlier. Only then would it be the responsible thing for us to leave.

I had dismissed as "maybe's" many of the straws he was grasping at -- preferring to focus on the bigger picture, which was "let's finish this 10 year old war and get the hell out of there." It brought our planes being routinely shot at. It bought Saddam time and lots of oil money. It brought lots of dead and tortured Iraqis, and it bought us mounting resentment among many Muslims for keeping Saddam down, and just for being in Saudi Arabia. That brought us Osama Bin Laden and 3 airplanes smashed into buildings in America.

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