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The Collective
Monday, September 24, 2007
By Dr. Steven Taylor

The Politico has a profile on neocon don Norman Podhoretz (which , among other things, has a disturbing title): Podhoretz secretly urged Bush to bomb Iran.

Towards the end of the piece a few things jumped out at me that make me question Podhoretz’s judgment and, by extension, the judgment of George Bush and Rudy Giuliani for taking foreign policy advice from the man.

First:

He believes that Iraq had biological and chemical weapons, but they were likely shipped out to Syria.

That is nothing more than wishful thinking squared. Where is there any evidence whatsoever of this assertion? It has long been a pet theory of those who supported the war that this was the case. But if there was so much as a scintilla of evidence to support this assertion, there is no doubt in my mind that we would have heard it shouted from the rooftops by this administration (and we would probably be at war with Syria at the moment).

As one who supported the war initially because, in large measure, the WMD claims, I would love for it to be true that the weapons were there. However, they weren’t. For Podhoretz to state that they were moved into Syria based, ultimately, on his own desire for it to be so, is concerning if the man has continued influence in Washington (and, it would appear, he does).

Along the same lines (and from the same paragraph):

And, says the man with the ear of the current and possibly next president, the war in Iraq is a success.

Based on what?!? A success by what measure. Aside from the fact that Saddam is gone, on what measure can one say that the totality of this war has been a success? That is a near-delusional assertion.

Then there’s this:

“The seeds of this democratization are planted,” as Podhoretz describes Iraq. “The opposition to this process of democratization turned out to be much more ferocious than anybody anticipated, including me. So it took a while for our people to learn how to deal with it,” he continued.

The greatest proof that Podhoretz is right, he insisted, is the very intensity of attacks in Iraq.

“If the enemy of that process [of democratization] thought it was a failure, they wouldn’t be blowing themselves up to frustrate it or derail it,” he argued.

“They agree that this is not only happening, but that it is a danger to them. They agree with Bush. They agree with me,” Podhoretz chuckled.

“That’s why they are fighting so hard.”

This is, again, trying to take events and make them fit one’s own desired narrative. This position wholly discounts sectarian violence and ascribes motivations to various actors that cannot be logically inferred. For example, AQI would stop fighting if the US declared that they would be leaving behind a dictatorship? There is no way that one can state that the fighting it a result of the success of democratization. Indeed, many of the groups which participated in the elections are also involved in the fighting.

This is just projecting what one wants the situation to be onto reality. As such, I continue to be concerned that Podhoretz is taken seriously by the current president and the GOP front-runner.

Previous Podhoretz Posts

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Filed under: Iraq, US Politics | |

4 Comments »

  1. The recent chemical weapons accident in Syria supports the idea that chemical weapons were transfered to from Iraq to Syria. It’s not that far fetched.

    We must also remember that the Clinton administration believed Iraq to possess chemical weapons and chemical weapons were used against Iraqis in previous years. So where did those weapons go? Syria is a reasonable answer any way you look at it.

    With losses less than 1% of WWII we could call the war a success. With the establishment of something if a democracy in Iraq we could call the war a success. With the removal of Saddam we could call the war a success. By establishing that the United States is not afraid to act we could call the war a success.

    Is it a success? I’m not sure, but it is a defensible position to take. Calling it “near delusional” is not a fair assessment.

    Comment by Steve Plunk — Tuesday, September 25, 2007 @ 10:36 am

  2. Steve,

    I believed there were WMD in Iraq prior to the invasion. Also, we did destroy many of his weapons after the first Gulf War. The issue was whether he had resumed production.

    And just because Syria may also have some chemical weapons does not mean, not by a long shot, that they came from Iraq, or that if they did that they were the mythical ones we went to war over.

    Face facts: the alleged WMD weren’t there.

    And in regards to battle deaths: are you suggesting that the only way to measure success is the relative number of deaths?

    Sorry, but we have to measure the event against what we said the war was about in the first place (e.g,. WMD, a stable, democratic Iraq, a reliable ally in the region, etc.) as well as how the situation is evolving, and not just in terms of battle deaths.

    I can see someone arguing that it will be successful at some point (although that is a strain, IMHO), but to argue that it is a success is near-delusional.

    Comment by Dr. Steven Taylor — Tuesday, September 25, 2007 @ 12:58 pm

  3. Look, just state that the War, the strategy and those who have lead, the politician and military man alike are all failures. So forget Democracy in Iraq lets leave now. Or we can all stop our whining and do our best and win this thing for all of those 3,800 men and women who have died and 30,000 who have been injured. George Bush, Hillary Clinton, Democrat or Republican is irrelevant now. Either you want Iraq to fold and become a safe haven for killers or want to help build a stable country so that freedom and liberty can flourish. Stop bitching about the past and be part of the solution, if not this mess will out live us all.

    Comment by c.v. — Tuesday, September 25, 2007 @ 4:16 pm

  4. c.v.,

    Perhaps you ought to go back and re-read the post, which is primarily aimed at avoiding another war (as Podhoretz wants us to bomb Iran, and bomb it now).

    And there is a very real issue of what “winning” would look like. It is one thing to say, vacuously, that we need to “do our best and win this thing” but what does that mean at this point. And again, Podhoretz is asserting that it has already been a success.

    We got to where we are because of fuzzy thinking and sloganeering, and if we don’t properly assess the situation and deal with the realities, it will only get worse. And then there will be 1000s more dead and 10,000s more wounded and somebody else can say how we need to double down and “win” it for those soldiers.

    This isn’t “whining” and “bitching” as you so poetically put it.

    Can you please enlighten me, then, as to how we are going to “build a stable country so that freedom and liberty can flourish”? I would love for that to happen, but one has to deal with reality as well.

    Comment by Dr. Steven Taylor — Tuesday, September 25, 2007 @ 8:03 pm

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