Friday, October 28, 2005

Correcting the Record

Someone called "The Leftist Librarian" took exception to my criticism of ALA Council's Iraq resolution. Beneath the infantile ad hominems, there was at least the shadow of an argument. Since the views expressed by this person seem to be widely held, a detailed fisking is warranted. Let's begin:

We limit ourselves to the facts:

Of course you do. By all means, let's talk facts.

Mission Accomplished?

Talking point number 1. Never have so many made so much out of one banner. In retrospect, the landing on the aircraft carrier wasn't the wisest move. Still, if you actually read the text of Bush's speech aboard the Abraham Lincoln, you soon realize that he never said the phrase "mission accomplished". In fact, he said that "[w]e have difficult work to do in Iraq".


Thankfully, Saddam Hussein probably did not possess biological or chemical weapons as of 2003. The Bush administration was wrong about this, as was the Clinton Administration, along with the British, French, Russians, Germans, Israelis, and just about everyone else.

Of course, the absence of WMD is not the entire story. For one thing, Iraq never fulfilled its obligations under UN Security Council Resolution 1441 to provide an "accurate, full, final, and complete disclosure" of its WMD programs. In the words of Dr. David Kay, who has been forthright in acknowledging the overestimation of Saddam's WMD capabilities, "Iraq was in clear and material violation of 1441. They maintained programs and activities, and they certainly had the intentions at a point to resume their program." The Duelfer Report has confirmed that "Saddam wanted to recreate Iraq'’s WMD capability-—which was essentially destroyed in 1991-—after sanctions were removed and Iraq'’s economy stabilized, but probably with a different mix of capabilities to that which previously existed." The report makes clear that the Iraqi regime was well on its way to achieving the goal of ending sanctions, thanks to its exploitation of the UN Oil-for-Food program. To take just one example, the budget of Iraq's Military Industrialization Commission went from "$7.8 million in 1996 to $350 million in 2002 to $500 million in 2003."

Saddam as part of Al Qaeda? (He was more interested in booty than Allah)

Ah, the notion that Baathist Iraq was some sort of bastion of secularism, one of my favorite myths. As I have documented at length on this blog, Saddam Hussein actively embraced radical Sunni Islam during the last decade and a half of his rule. Among other things, the Baathist regime imposed elements of Islamic Sharia law; built dozens of mosques; frequently employed Islamist discourse, including regular calls for jihad against the US and Israel; and convened an annual series of "popular Islamic conferences" at which Salafists from throughout the Middle East converged on Baghdad to sing the praises of Saddam and call for attacks on American interests. The regime even invited Salafist clerics to take refuge in Iraq. Saddam may have not personally been an Islamist, but his number two man Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri certainly was (and is). Even today, many of the Baathists involved in the terrorist insurgency have adopted an openly Salafist discourse and ideology.

As far as Saddam Hussein's decade long relationship with Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, Stephen Hayes of the Weekly Standard
has documented the facts far more thoroughly than I could. I'll offer just a couple examples. In late 2001, the jihadist group Ansar al-Islam, established a safe haven in Northeastern Iraq for al Qaeda members forced to flee Afghanistan, almost certainly with the cooperation of Iraqi intelligence. In addition, Saddam's regime funneled money to the al Qaeda affiliated Algerian terror group, the GIA. Finally, Iraq's state run media lionized the terrorist exploits of al Qaeda, and even openly celebrated the atrocities of 9/11.

No, Baathist Iraq was not involved in 9/11. Neither did the Third Reich have anything to do with Pearl Harbor. It is clear, however, that Saddam Hussein's regime was a source of moral and material support for al Qaeda and the broader jihadist network.

Civilian and military deaths?

The consequences of war are terrible. Yet there are times when the consequences of not fighting are even worse. A book just published in France, The Black Book of Saddam Hussein, estimates that the Iraqi dictator murdered up to 1,000,000 of his own people. The most credible estimate of civilian deaths since the liberation of Iraq is about 25,000 (please don't waste my time with that ridiculous Lancet study). Of those 25,000 Iraqis who've died, it is safe to say that at least half have been killed by the insurgents, whose barbarism has been documented by both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

The deaths of American servicemen and women are equally tragic. Their courage and sacrifice, however, have rid the world of a genocidal totalitarian monster, destroyed a major state sponsor of terrorism and source of anti-American incitement, and allowed over 8 million Iraqis to vote in the first free elections of their lives. The way to honor those who have fallen is to see the mission through, not run away. Abandoning Iraq won't end the bloodshed. Those Iraqis who have dared to hope for a better future for their country will be massacred by the Baathists and jihadists, while a resurgent al Qaeda will waste little time finding more Americans to kill in Afghanistan, Kuwait, and right here at home.

Abu Gahrib (and that's just what has come out. . .)?

What happened at Abu Ghraib was inexcusable, and those involved should be punished to the full extent of the law. I find it fascinating, though, how those who are the loudest about the abuses at Abu Ghraib have nothing to say about the torture chambers and slaughter houses run by the jihadists. Nor do they seem to comment on the horrific torture and mass executions that occurred at Abu Ghraib under Saddam.

Don't talk to me about facts my friend.

Don't come to my blog spouting off about facts unless you're willing to actually acquaint yourself with some.

I'm a librarian who chooses to be well informed, not taken in by simple messages of hope and good tidings.

Well informed? Not judging by what you've shown so far.

Oh and, by the way, France was right: America has no history of democracy building cause, you know, you need peacekeepers to build democracy.

Where do I begin? Let's start with France. As the Duelfer Report and just released UN Oil-for-Food report demonstrate, France had been well and truly bought off by Saddam. As far as America having "no history of democracy building", I'm sure that would come as a surprise to the Germans and Japanese. Yes, if only we had "peacekeepers", I'm sure that the beheaders and suicide bombers would have been routed in no time. One need only look at Somalia and Bosnia to see the "effectiveness" of peacekeepers in the face of a ruthless adversary willing to do whatever it takes to impose their will.

Here end of the lesson.


Blogger Norma said...

Good job. I love it when a librarian comes through with real information and not just emotion.

5:41 AM  
Anonymous Yachira Gonzalez said...

Great post Heretical!

The "Reality Based Party" always has a tough time coming up with "just the facts."

You can imagine the plight of their poor patrons.

9:22 AM  
Anonymous Ed Merwin, Jr. said...

To paraphrase the old "A-Team" remark: "I love it when a good response comes together." Keep up the good work "Heretical"!

10:01 AM  
Blogger Oyarsa said...

You heretic! How dare you stand against the ALA's condemnation of the War in Iraq, etc! You ought to be drawn and quartered!

Just kidding. Nice response to your opponent's arguments. Like you, I agree that the ALA should stick to library related issues.

Like condemning Castro for imprisoning librarians and burning books know, the same think that would be happening in the US if it wasn't for us librarians.


I'll keep reading your writings. You have a new fan. :-)

10:51 AM  
Anonymous Bosnian Librarian said...

I agree with you partialy, but some of the facts, in my opinion, are not that. Abu Ghraib was a torchure place during Sadam's dictatorship and that is the reason why some people condemn acting of US Armed Forces in the same way as this Butcher did. US should know better. What if they torchured an innocent person? And atleas one of them was. That's the way to create more enemies, in my opinion. It is nice to read the other side as well, and thank you for that. Still I want to ask you why US gov. never interveened in Bosnia or Somalia in this way, or the best example should be Rwanda? I know US was attacked. Still Iraq never attacked US. Afghanistan did in a way because it harboured Bin Laden, and probably still does. Still thank you for your writing. This is the way you show us how Librarians are peace builders and in a way 'freedom fighters'/P.S. I apologize for my English, still I hope you will understand since it is not my native language. Thank you.

11:59 AM  

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