Monday, October 18, 2004

I got this email the other day

I received this email a little over a week ago. Following is my reply. I have hotlinked his email if anyone cares to offer their own reply.


Mr. Stettner:

You asked for facts, so here they are. But first, please tell me how are we "safer" now that we have invaded Iraq? Bush and his supporters repeatedly say we are "safer", but they never say how. Perhaps this is because we are not safer now, the world is a far more dangerous place than it was two years ago.

Here are some of the facts, most of which undermine Bush's rationale for the Iraq war:
(I have inserted his "Facts" into my response for easier reading)

Jim Kraft
Springfield, VT


My reply

Dear Mr. Kraft,
I was pleased to receive your email. I have been trying to engage people, to goad them into some sort of response, to get people to, at the very least, consider their positions. I have to admit some disappointment at the ability or ambivalence of people to answer me. Like you, those who try to respond never provide reference material to document their positions. Thankfully, you do not try to bolster your points with partisan propaganda sources, as many try to.

It has taken me some time to reply to you not out of reluctance or even dismissal, but rather that I have taken a serious amount of time to consider your statement. The night I received your email, I immediately set to preparing an answer, collecting source material, and addressing each of your eighteen ‘facts’. After I had outlined my responses to your ‘facts’ and began to review them, I started to realize that what you really presented me with were 3 or 4 facts, a few statements or questions, and a bevy of opinions. Opinions are not facts, they are conclusions one draws from facts and can be more or less accurate.

The most telling fact in your email is not listed. It is the fact that you have selectively ignored many aspects of reality and latched onto partisan rhetoric to bolster your world view. I have been following the history of terrorism for almost two decades. The world is no more dangerous now than it has ever been. Have you forgotten the 1972 Munich Olympics? The logic of the claim that we are safer now than we were is simple. Again, you allow your politics to inform you rather than your intellect. The terrorists are more focused in their backyards than in ours. It truly is that simple. Bush’s critics claim that we are not safer, but they never say how. They often claim that the world is a far more dangerous place than it was two years ago, but they never say how. Those are your own words - reversed. How about you answer the same charges? Nuclear, biological, and chemical materials are no more available now than they were. The focus on those vectors is far sharper today than it was before. Only via conspiracy theory can your claims be rationalized. In point of fact, the preponderance of real evidence shows a blatant disregard for the trafficking of these materials and the realities of international terrorist activity under the Clinton Administration and on the "left side of the aisle". Many of your ‘facts’ display an attitude that is frighteningly at odds with reality in much the same way that Clinton, Gore, Albright, Holbrook, Kerry, and Edwards (et al) embrace.

This country is safer and the proof of that claim, quite clearly, is that there have been numerous attempts and they have been thwarted. Terror cells and individuals are being aggressively hunted in this country in a way that they were not before. Without question, there is still much work to be done and areas that need to be tightened. There will be more successful attacks staged here because there is simply no way to completely defend against terrorism. It is insidious and even finds root in citizens of this country who appear to have no propensity or predilection for it, yet they are drawn to it like moths to a flame. On the global scene, while it may seem more dangerous to the uninformed, it is not. The Spaniards had a suspect (Eta) even before they considered Al Qaeda. Did Bush and his supporters invent Eta? Ireland has been rocked by the terror tactics of the IRA for decades. Did the PLO spring into existence only recently? Do you recall the Achille Lauro?

I prepared answers to each of your points, as I said earlier, but as I sit here now and consider the overwhelming evidence that you must be ignoring to hold your position, I really am loathe to address them. However, it is not in my nature to not rise to a challenge. So, with heavy heart and tired fingers, I begin:


Fact: We were attacked by Osama BinLaden, not Saddam Hussein. Bush actually acknowledges this fact, though he refuses to explain why he attacked Iraq instead of continuing to go after AlQaida.

1. This actually is a fact, but is not really relevant to anything. We were attacked by Japan and not Germany in WWII, but that did not stop us from fighting on two fronts. Bush has never refused to explain anything. Al Qaeda has been is on the run. It’s leadership is in hiding. It would be irresponsible and ineffectual to use the entire military force to hunt through the mountains to find him. That is, IF he is still even alive, which is a question those with better intelligence than you or I have hold grave doubts about.


Fact: Osama Bin Laden, our real enemy, has not been captured, and his death has not been confirmed.

2. This is also a fact, but see #1.


Fact: Bush never committed the troops or aid needed to secure and rebuild
Afghanistan or to carry out an effective search there for Bin Laden. Now much of that country is under the control of warlords, the returning Taliban, and has reverted to growing opium as a major crop.

3. I don’t know you, so perhaps your background qualifies you to hold this opinion. However, I choose to side with the opinion of Five-Star General Tommy Franks who led the war in both Afghanistan and Iraq. He and his staff believed they had the right stuff and I’ll take their word for it. Afghanistan has just held elections, is not in the grip of warlords though there are some, and is not facing a return of the Taliban. Opium has always been a major crop there, that is nothing new or even recent.


Fact: Terror attacks and threats of attacks increased in 2003, after Saddam was removed from power, compared to 2002, per state department figures released this spring.

4. I am unfamiliar with your source in the State Dept., but for the sake of argument I will concede that there has been an increase in terrorist activity in 2003. What’s your point? Attacks during a war should surprise no one and don’t really mean anything other than attacks happen during a war.


Fact: Neither the death of Saddam's sons, Saddam's capture or the handover of sovereignty to the new Iraqi government has reduced the attacks on our troops. Nearly a year after Saddam's capture, attacks on and deaths of both Americans and Iraqis continue to increase each month.

5. Another fact! It does not support your position, but it is nevertheless a fact. What intrigues me is that you use this fact to try to bolster your position when it clearly supports Bush’s position. The battles in Iraq are being fought with foreign terrorists committed to keeping Iraq from becoming free and democratic rather than with Iraqi’s bent on resisting American occupation.


Fact: Much of Iraq, including several major cities, and parts of Baghdad, are under the control of insurgents, be they Saddam loyalists, Islamic radicals, or terrorists from other countries most of whom weren't in Iraq before the war.

6. Much of Iraq is NOT suffering unrest. This is just not at all true. There is great violence in very specific areas of the country, but the vast majority is living peacefully. It is telling that you describe the insurgents as Saddam Loyalists and distinguish between Islamic radicals and foreign terrorists. Give me the name of one Saddam Loyalist leading an insurgency. I am assuming you refer to Sadr as an Islamic radical ignoring the fact that he violated Islam by using the Temple as a fortress, defiled the temple with blood, trash, liquor and drugs - the man is a political opportunist attempting to gain power by force because he can not earn it at the polls, in other words he is a terrorist.


Fact: No evidence exists to prove that Saddam supported Al Qaida in any significant way. Secular Saddam and ultra religious Bin Laden had an adversarial relationship, not a cooperative one.

7. This point is not only not factual it is completely fatuous. Present your evidence, source material, and explain how their relationship is adversarial. While you are gathering your info I’ll ask you to speak to Adbul Rahman, the Sudanese Intelligence Service, Farouk Hijazi, Salah Suleiman, Yusuf Galan, Abu Mohammed, Abbas al-Janabi, Abu Musaab al-Zarqawi, Mohammed Ibrahim Makwai/Saif al-Adel, Mohammad Atef, Abu Adbullah al-Iraqi, Mohamed Mansour Shahab, the Allied Democratic Forces, Mullah Melan, Krekar of Ansar al-Islam. I could list more sources.


Fact: 15 of the 19 September 11 hijackers were Saudis, not Iraqis.

8. Fact, but non sequitur.


Fact: A substantial number of Americans have been misled to believe that Iraq supported Al Qaida, that Iraq was behind the 9-11attacks, and that the terrorists were Iraqis. Bush and Cheney have done nothing to correct these mistaken beliefs. Cheney now denies that he said there was a connection between Iraq and 9-11 though he said a year ago that there was. He was lying then and he is lying now.

9. Opinion and bumpersticker mentality. Al-Qaeda operative Yusuf Galan was indicted by a Spanish Court, based on his own documents, as being "directly involved with the preparation and planning" of 9/11. This same man was officially invited to a party at the Iraqi embassy in Madrid. It is too soon to say for sure that there is no connection. The resources of the participants have not been plumbed yet. Unless, of course, one has already decided.


Fact: No WMDs were found by the inspectors in the months leading up to the invasion of Iraq, but Bush attacked anyway. Little or no evidence of WMDs has been found since.

10. Another non sequitur. You are either intentionally misquoting Bush or blindly toeing the party line. Do your own research. Do not accept what your leaders tell you.


Fact: Saddam didn't even control much of his own country, let alone present a threat to us or to his neighbors. He had not attacked anybody in the 12 years between the Iraq wars. Due to the sanctions imposed after the 1991 war, he was limited in his ability to rebuild his military.

11. Uninformed opinion combined with select facts. I direct you to the Duefler report, the IAEA, and any number of world leaders. Saddam Hussein was a growing threat using the Oil-For-Food Scam to rearm, resupply, and renew his various WMD programs. That no WMDs have been found does not ipso facto mean they were not there. Halabja happened. The precursors for weapons-grade biologics were found in the home of a scientist in the employ of the Iraqi military. Most telling of all is the following transcript of a conversation on November 26, 2002, between a colonel and a brigadier general of the Republican Guard a day before the resumed inspections:



Col ...We just have a small question
Gen Yeah
Col About this committee that is coming...
Gen Yeah, yeah..
Col ...with Mohamed El Baradei..
Gen Yeah?
Col We have this modified vehicle..
Gen Yeah
Col What do we say if one of them sees it?
Gen You didn’t get a modified...You don’t have a modified...
Col By God, I have one.
Gen Which? From the workshop...?
Col From the al-Kindi Company.
Gen What?
Col From al-Kindi.
Gen Yeah, yeah. I’ll come to you in the morning. I have some comments.
I’m worried you all have something left.
Col We can evacuated everything. We don’t have anything left.
Gen I will come to you tomorrow.
Col Okay


[FYI al-Kindi was a company involved with illegal weapons systems (i.e. biological
and chemical). I don’t make this stuff up - I couldn’t even if I wanted to.]


Fact: The terrorist training camp that may have been associated with Al Qaida was in Kurdish territory not under Saddam's control. There are plenty of terrorists in Iraq now, because Bush invited them in by creating a power vacuum, then issuing his reckless "Bring them on" comment.

12. Incorrect Fact and opinion. The Khurds live in northern Iraq and while there may have been a base there the entire country was under the control of Hussein which is why we had to enforce a no fly zone. Furthermore, you can not claim that Salman Pak was in Khurdish territory. Southeast of Baghdad, Salman Pak was a training facility with the fuselage of a Boeing 707 used to stage hijackings with knives. Abu Mohammed, a Colonel in the Fedayeen, served there. Major Ali Hawas told Mohammed that a group there was Osama bin Laden’s. I think using Matt Lauer and the Today show as sources for your opinions might be a tad ‘reckless’ - someone might notice.


Fact: We supported Saddam 20 years ago when he invaded Iran. We helped him gas Iranian troops.

13. International relations can be an ugly business. Sometimes you dance with the devil, you support one bad government against one that is worse. The United States NEVER provided ‘gas’ to Iraq for use against Iran or anyone else. This is a particularly vicious piece of propaganda and I think you should provide your source for it.


Fact: We returned the Shah of Iran to power in 1953, and supported him for years afterward. Now we wonder why Iran hates us?

14. Please see #13. No one wonders why Iran hates us and I suggest it has more to do with government propaganda posing as news than any historical event 50+ years ago.

Fact: Bush has angered and alienated our allies and made our enemies hate us more than ever. Having traveled to Europe, I know some of this from personal experience. Every time we kill, wound or mistreat an Iraqi citizen, we fuel the fires of terrorism. Invading Iraq has made the terror problem worse, not better, because it lacks the legitimacy of the Afghan war and lacks the support of most of the rest of the world.

15. Opinion and secondhand opinion. Who are the allies Bush has angered and alienated? Please don’t name France, German, Russia, and China. Kerry repeatedly refers to the coalition as the "coerced and bribed" and we now know for a fact that these ‘allies’ we’ve been so worried about offending are the "coerced and bribed" - coerced by the threats of terrorists and bribed by Hussein himself, of course some of us recognized this over a year ago. Your travels in Europe only goes to show that you travel in circles of people who believe as you do. Sen. Joe Kennedy thought we should work with Hitler - didn’t make it the right thing to do. Many people think that the Holocaust never happened - doesn’t make it true. Your claims just don’t have legitimacy no matter how loud or often you make them. Please don’t speak for the majority of the world.


Fact: There are many other evil dictators and oppressive governments, some worse than Saddam's regime, including Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, North Korea, China, Iran. Why Iraq?

16. Question not fact. "First, some ask why Iraq is different from other countries or regimes...while there are many dangers in the world, the threat from Iraq stands alone - because it gathers the most serious dangers of our age in one place. Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction are controlled by a murderous tyrant who has already used chemical weapons to kill thousands of people. This same tyrant has tried to dominate the Middle East, has invaded and brutally occupied a small neighbor, has struck other nations without warning, and hold and unrelenting hostility toward the United States." (George W. Bush, Cincinnati Museum Center, Oct. 7, 2002)
What is so eloquent about this one short paragraph from his longer speech is that he sums up so much of the argument. I understand that you don’t agree with him, but his position is informed by internation intelligence and events. You will mischaracterize his WMD statement, but he doesn’t say Hussein holds this or that weapon (except for chemical weapons), rather he leaves the issue open to encompass the weapons programs as a whole.


Fact: Other countries, including North Korea, China, Russia, former Soviet republics, India, Pakistan, Iran, probably Israel, have or are developing
nuclear weapons. While Bush was distracted by Iraq, Pakistan has sold nuclear secrets, Iran and North Korea have advanced their nuclear programs, and nukes in the former Soviet republics are not secure and could fall into the hands of terrorists. So Bush attacked Iraq because he thought Saddam might be trying to develop nukes?

17. Opinion, supposition, facts not in evidence. See above. Saddam was trying to develop nuclear weapons, even the IAEA says so. "Eleven years ago, as a condition for ending the Persian Gulf War, the Iraqi regime was required to destroy it’s weapons of mass destruction, to cease development of such weapons, and to stop all support for terrorist groups. The Iraqi regime has violated all of those obligations." (Ibid.) Further, Iraq thumbed it’s nose at 12 years of UN Resolutions and the US used the authority of the Iraqi Freedom Resolution of the US Congress as signed by President William Jefferson Clinton and UN Resolution 1441. You don’t have to like it, but please do not confuse your personal animus for George W. Bush with legitimacy or legality.


Fact: Terrorists are in many countries, and are supported by some of those countries, including Saudi Arabia, Iran, Syria, Pakistan, Chechnya, Indonesia, the Philippines, Somolia, Kosovo, and Sudan. Why Iraq?

18. Comedy. It is comedic how Bush critics claim that terrorists are everywhere but in Iraq. See #16.


Fact: Money and manpower that was wasted in Iraq could have been used for other purposes that could have reduced the terrorist threat instead of increasing it.

19. Uninformed opinion. Where do you get your information? See #3.

Now, I have answered all your points with documentation. Please provide yours and do not fall back on the partisan sources which include the liberal media. Just because Dan Rather says something doesn’t make it true. I’ll leave you with two last quotes that I hope will shock you into not accepting what you are told.

"I have a confession. I have at times, as the war has unfolded, secretly wish for things to go wrong. Wished for the Iraqis to be more nationalistic, to resist longer. Wished for the Arab World to rise up in rage. Wished for all the things we feared would happen." (April 10, 2003. Executive Director of Salon, Gary Kamiya)

"We are very interested in American deaths in Iraq...We will never admit it, [but] every American soldier killed in Iraq causes, if not happiness, at least a certain satisfaction." (French Journalist, Mathieu Lindon)

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