[FoRK] Powell says Iraq may have no WMDs

Gordon Mohr gojomo at usa.net
Tue Jan 27 21:22:55 PST 2004

Ian Andrew Bell wrote:
> You need to understand that "could" and "can" are very different words. 
>  Iraq COULD do a lot of things.  CAN it launch a missile and have that 
> land in the United States?  A virtual impossibility, and definitely 
> impossible to do so undetected.
> I COULD get on a plane tomorrow and fly to Athens, but CAN I?  
> Practicality says no, though I might like to.

Why can't you? Are you in someone's custody? If you were a psycho
stalker determined to hurt someone is Athens, are the barriers to
your travel there so great that they should ignore the threat?

A wealthy, militaristic, expansionist nation can achieve a lot if
left unchecked for decades. Do you think there's some flaw in the
Arab/Iraqi mind which renders them unable to solve the same
engineering problems that others have tackled? Leaves them unable to
buy, barter, or steal the technology (as past acquirers often have)?

And despite your obsession with ICBMs that can hit the US --
imagining them even when they're not mentioned -- Iraqi nukes
that could have hit Israel, Riyadh, Tehran, southern Europe
would also have been more than enough of a threat to justify
the decisive action that was taken.

>> Any nation with giant oil reserves, chemical/biological/nuclear 
>> weaponry, a
>> half-million soldiers -- and coming off the successful annexation of a
>> neighboring country via the unanswered exercise of military force --
>> would be a regional superpower menacing its neighbors.
> Kuwait is hardly a military or political powerhouse.  It's literally run 
> by absentee landlords -- princes and emirs who reside in London.  Their 
> army is barely 15,000 souls for a total population of 2.1 million people 
> (which includes 1.2 million foreigners).  What the fuck about this 
> annexation portrays the flexing of any great military muscle?

You're right, taking Kuwait wasn't hard for Iraq, it was easy. Thus,
encouraging. "Look what we can do with our current budget and
capabilities. And now we're richer. Give us a few years, we'll
unify the Arab world under Baathist rule, one country at a time."

>> This "little use" military managed to kill an awful lot of Iranians
>> in the 1980s with a smaller military and more primitive weaponry.
> The Iran-Iraq war was the modern-day equivalent of trench warfare.  Each 
> country sent their most poorly trained troops at each other in combat 
> ineffective equipment (if they were in equipment at all) and watched 
> them pound this shit out of one another.  The battle lines rarely moved 
> over the course of eight years, and the massive deaths could be more 
> attributed to the inhumanity of each side's own commanders rather than 
> the effectiveness of their weaponry.

The inhumanity of their commanders was exactly my point. If the
aggressive US actions of 1991-2003, despite their giant cost in lives
and dollars, despite the disturbing photos you forwarded, effectively
prevented another war on the scale of the Iran-Iraq war -- or a single
regional nuclear exchange -- then it was a net gain for human lives
and well-being.

>> Under your plan,
>> he'd still have Kuwait. He'd still have his military. He'd still have his
>> WMD programs, chem/bio stockpiles, and proven delivery capabilities. And
>> without the world backing its condemnations with military force, any
>> "embargo" would quickly become a joke as well.
> You're not reading carefully.  Under any logical person's plan the US 
> could have prevented Iraq from invading Kuwait with a few well chosen 
> words.  It did not.  The US clearly misrepresented its intent.

Again, not according to Tariq Aziz in Owen's forwarded account.

Granted that someone made a mistake in 1991 -- perhaps the Iraqis
in the vagueness of their inquiry; perhaps April Glaspie in her
understanding of their communication or the wording of her response;
perhaps the Iraqis in their understanding of her response or of
America's broader interests. ("Kuwait is not associated with America",
in the context of a border economic dispute, is not the same as "We
don't care if you annex them with military force.")

You cannot take back that mistake, by either side. The question was
what would you do once the Iraqi tanks rolled. You're on one side of
that question -- do nothing but scold -- while the whole world, up to
and including folks like Howard Dean -- was wisely on the other side.

>> Your distorted account of this prewar communication contradicts even
>> that of Owen Byrne's forwarded link on the same subject. Please get your
>> fabricated history straight before shopping it out to skeptics. Not
>> even Tariq Aziz agrees with your characterization. (See Byrne's link.)
> There are about a million variants to the tale.  The one I recall most 
> vividly also came from Tariq Aziz directly, ten years ago.  The 
> conclusion of each of these though is the same:  April Glaspie either 
> fucked up, or was directed to express disinterest.  

It is clear your "vivid recollection" has been warped, because you
originally misrepresented the exchange as "Tariq Aziz" having "asked...
permission to invade." Even reading the *Iraqi* transcript doesn't
provide ANY support for that point of view.

You can find it on the web. There's an excellent analysis at
Wikipedia (under April_Glaspie). It wasn't Tariq Aziz -- it was
Saddam. No explicit threat of imminent action was delivered.
Rather than disclaiming any interest, Glaspie expressed concern
and, while neutral about the specifics of any disputes, urged
resolving them through diplomatic means.

So your "vivid recollections" are filled with elaborate fabrications
that happen support your prior prejudices. You cannot be trusted to
recount historical events accurately. We should trust you about how
other dangerous situations would play out?

- Gordon

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