Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Again, the case for Iraq and Afghanistan

Someone asked Cassy why we are still in Afghanistan.

You can agree or disagree whether or not it is or will end up being effective, but there is a reason.  Just as there was a reason (outside of "blood for oil" and making Dick Cheney's friends rich -- the meme on the Left) for re-opening the Iraq war.

I've said all of this before, but here it is, in a nutshell:

When the Russians invaded Afghanistan during the Cold War, we helped the Afghans fight the Ruskies. When the Ruskies finally gave up and pulled out, we dropped Afghanistan like a hot potato. In the power vaccuum that followed, a bunch of people with a lot of military training and experience, many of whom were fundamentalist Muslims filled that vacuum to bring order from chaos. They stopped the general lawlessnes, only to impose their own draconian law, like lopping off hands and stoning people to death for what would seem to us as relatively innocuous infractions -- at least in proportion to the punishment.

One of the guys who we trained in that war was this guy named Osama Bin Laden. He was a Saudi who eventually became ticked off at the U.S. because we had troops with their dirty infidel feet stationed in Saudi Arabia after the big pretty much unanimous U.N. vote to kick Iraq out of Kuwait in the 1991 Desert Storm operation. Subsequently, our troops stayed there to enforce the U.N. "No-Fly" Zone in Iraq to try to rein in Saddam's brutal and often genocidal attacks on his internal enemies.

So in 1993 Bin Laden decided to teach the Great Satan a lesson by attempting to drop the World Trade Center in New York by blowing up what was believed to be a critical support in the parking garage below.

It killed several people, but ultimately failed.

Still the No Fly Zone in Iraq continued along with Infidel feet on holy Saudi soil, which stuck in Bin Laden's craw. After our meager responses to his repeated attacks, he found a home in the relatively lawless Afghanistan & the sympathetic Taliban. Ever-more convinced that the U.S. was a "paper tiger" and all that was needed was to kill a sufficient number of Americans and we'd leave in defeat as we had in Mogadishu and Lebanon, he pulled of a spectacularly evil sneak attack on U.S. Civilians on September 11, 2001.

You might notice that Iraq, indeed, had quite a bit to do with all of this if not in provable outright support for Bin Laden -- certainly in the situation that was set up by and after the 1991 war and the reaction of Al Queda's leader.

Now to fix all of this, we could have just pulled out of Iraq and left Saudi Arabia. But what would that have done? It would have proven Bin Laden right and encouraged Al Queda and perhaps other enemies of America to come kick some more tail. Perhaps even over here. So that was out. Next best thing? Finish the 1991 war -- which was technically and in fact tactically never finished and THEN pull out. This would send a different message.

Still, first things first, we went to Afghanistan to let Bin Laden and Al Queda know in no uncertain terms that this tiger has claws of steel and lasers for eyes and it is best not to piss him off.

But shortly after that, knowing the threat Saddam had previously posed and his lack of cooperation (that's putting it nicely) ... his outright obstruction of attempts to verify that he was complying with the terms of the cease-fire (which he also continually broke by, you know, firing). We had sat on our collective hands while we knew Bin Laden was plotting against us with passports and airline tickets, so we figured not only did we need to end the 1991 war in Iraq, we should also check Saddam against plotting against us with far more powerful means. We decided to take him at his word rather than dismiss him and wait and see.

Turns out he no longer had the weapons, but it really doesn't matter. Really angry letters from the U.N. weren't keeping him in compliance, and part of that compliance was to prove he did destroy them -- which he refused to do and blocked attempts to verify it.

Meantime, after the Taliban was toppled in Afghanistan, an attempt is being made to keep from leaving it as the same kind of power vacuum we left it in after the Russians left. It was fertile soil for sheltering violent extremists bent on destroying western civilization before, and it turns out that they CAN, in fact, be dangerous.


Whitehawk said...

"Turns out he no longer had the weapons, but it really doesn't matter. Really angry letters from the U.N. weren't keeping him in compliance, and part of that compliance was to prove he did destroy them -- which he refused to do and blocked attempts to verify it."

I realize this probably makes me fall into a "bitter clinger" category of some kind but... I still don't believe that there were no WMD even up till a few months before the invasion of Iraq. I just can't see a dictator of a Muslim country destroying perfectly good WMD. That is nearly as blasphemous as eating bacon.

I don't know where they went (which gives me reason for concern) but it may be careless for us to completely write them off as gone.

philmon said...

The more time that goes by with no word on the subject, the less I'm inclined to believe they were shuttled secretly off to Syria. Too many people would have to know about it, and the more people there are that know a "secret", the less time it will remain a secret.

If they did shuttle them off or hide them, they did a darned good job of it.

Whitehawk said...

At the risk of sounding too "conspiracy theorist," actually I'm afraid I'm already there...

These kinds of thugs don't allow people who know big secrets to retain the ability to tell them e.g. continue to breath.

There are several reasons I think this. If Saddam didn't have WMD he could have made fools of inspectors by letting them not find them while he retained his power, all the while acting as if they were still there.

Tommy Franks reported in his book that they found 2000 brand new Russian made chemical weapons suits in southern Bagdad in the first weeks of the invasion- accessible to Republican Gaurd- and I don't think Saddam was expecting the U.S. to use chemical weapons.

As I said before, I cannot believe any self-respecting "Muslim" dictator would in any circumstance destroy a perfectly good WMD capable of wreaking indescribable pain on Iraeli's or Americans.

When we are in the the old folks home and we hear on the news that some Bedouin found a large deposit of rocket shells and explosives with chemical agents in them out in the middle of the desert, you can buy me a tappioca, mashed potato and apple sauce lunch plate in the cafeteria.

We'll drink a cup of Metamucil to George W. Bush.

nightfly said...

I always laugh about the "B-bu-bu-but there were NO WMD!!!eleventy!" shrieking. Think of it this way:

You know a guy in a seedy area of the neighborhood, who's always up to skulduggery. Eventually he does enough to get the cops involved, and instead of completely busting him, they cut him a deal. He has to straighten up and fly right - no more shady associates, the parole officers have access to the house for unannounced inspections, and they're keeping him under regular surviellance.

All's well for a little while, and then you notice that he's hanging with a rougher-than-usual crowd, even for him, and they are in and out of the house at all hours. They knife the tires of the FBI Pizza Delivery van, and put up all sorts of dark curtains and stuff in the windows. When the POs visit, they can hear people moving stuff around while the guy stalls them at the front door; when they get past him, all the skeevy guys are standing around like the wall on a penalty kick in soccer, around which no officer may pass... and he flat-out refuses to let anyone look into the linen closet or the many foot lockers organized onto shelves in the spare bedroom.

Finally the cops see that he's posting to Twitter and Facebook that he's "back in business y'all; cops ain't sh**! #methisfun". They descend in force and ransack the house - and find nothing.

Would you not conclude that the raid was entirely this guy's fault? And that he should go to big boy jail for many years, based on having violated terms of his parole?

And yet, Saddam should get a pass?

(capcha - "login" - how meta.)

philmon said...

I like the analogy.

And doesn't "capcha" sound so "street"? ;-)

philmon said...

Yeah, Whitehawk, I'm not saying it didn't happen, I'm just skeptical and getting more skeptical.

If it's ever found out that they were hidden somewhere, the Left is done in this country, what with AGW falling apart, massive entitlements driving us to bankruptcy, Keynesian economics failing (again), and Herman Cain running as a Tea Party candidate.

Add "we found the WMD" to that, and what do they have left? Shreiking and gnashing of teeth?

Cylarz said...

I don't know where they went (which gives me reason for concern) but it may be careless for us to completely write them off as gone.

The story I've heard a number of times is that they were trucked out of Iraq, into Syria, just before the 2003 invasion. (It was a rather odd coincidence that our satellites spotted a convoy headed in the direction of a country friendly to Saddam's government.) From Syrian territory the trucks then turned south and drove into then-Syria-occupied Lebanon, where the WMD were hidden in the heavily fortified Bekka valley region.

Two points in support of this theory:

- When Syria finally pulled out of Lebanon a few years later, the Bekka Valley was the very last part of Lebanon to be vacated by Syrian troops. (Perhaps they needed a bit more time to load the WMD's up and get them moved to a secure location back in Syria.)

- There has been at least one car stopped trying to travel from Syria into Iraq, which contained AQI personnel and also loaded with chemical weapons not normally available to insurgents. One must ask - exactly WHERE did they get this stuff? I never heard anything more about it.

Whitehawk said...

Yes Cylarz, I have heard other credible reports from other sources such as the Iraqi defector who was in charge of the nuclear developement program. The logic is just not there for the weapons to not exist any more.

If I heard a reasonable explanation for their destruction other than Saddam had a change of heart or we didn't find any, I'd be willing to hear it but its just not out there yet.

At this point I think it's better to be concerned about where they might be.

In W's book he states that "everyone" believed that Saddam had WMD. Well that was for good reason... he had used WMD before.

philmon said...

Again, I agree it's possible, and I used to be more convinced ... but that's a pretty big secret and it just SEEMS like our intelligence agencies would have caught wind of it. EVERYBODY involved would have to be pretty loyal, fastidious, and quiet.

About the most plausible thing I can think of is a secret mission where everyone involved in the transfer, including preparing the shipments and receiving them (on top of the people actually transporting them) were killed upon the completion of the mission.

And I'm having a hard time buying my own hypothetical theory there, too.

But, it's certainly not impossible.

Too bad we didn't get to waterboard Saddam. KSM cracked like red-hot glass in a tub of water.