micah holmquist's irregular thoughts and links
Welcome to the musings and notes of a Cadillac, Michigan based writer named Micah Holmquist, who is bothered by his own sarcasm.
Please send him email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Holmquist's full archives are listed here.
Sites Holmquist trys, and often fails, to go no more than a couple of days without visiting (some of which Holmquist regularly swipes links from without attribution)
Blogs that for one reason or another Holmquist would like to read on at least something of a regular basis (always in development)
Wednesday, October 08, 2003
Amidst other things, micah holmquist praises the Bush Administration in this entry
One of the great elements of "the internet" is that it allows people to access not just publications and other news sources from all over the world but also many reports, studies and transcripts as they come out. Even the best of libraries couldn't do this in as timely of a manner. Of course, none of this could happen without the material being put on "the net" and on that matter I want to praise the Bush Administration, the Department of Defense and the State Department for the amount of material they publish in a relatively prompt fashion.
Information, of course, is hardly sufficient for critical analysis, a fact that Slavoj Zizek has noted and which is illustrated by reactions of bloggers to David Kay's "Statement on the Interim Progress Report on the Activiteis [sic] of the Iraq Survey Group."
Although there was some variance, the most common response was that the report had backed up the Bush Administration's claims about weapons of mass destruction, a sentiment not limted to bloggers. "WMD claims validated, media not" was a typical response. While the media may or may not have been validated, "WMD claims" certainly weren't. The Bush Administration made a lot of claims about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and such weapons have yet to be found. The weapons may yet be found and/or the Bush Administration may have made an honest mistake, but the claims have to be proven true.
Interestingly, but not surprisingly, almost all supporters of Team Bush -many, but not all, of whom are shills- fail to see how the Kay's report problematizes something else U.S. President George W. Bush has said.
"Our coalition has made sure that Iraq's former dictator will never again use weapons of mass destruction," Bush said on the 23rd of last month. Sounds good but Kay says in his report that his team is trying to find weapons of mass destruction that it believes could be out there. Given that former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein is believed to still be alive and at large and the weapons have yet to be accounted for, Bush's statement is at best hyperbole. That may be acceptable to some, but I doubt that many of the same people would find it acceptable for Bush to say, "all threats against America have been removed. Terror and Terrorism are dead. We are safe." Both are exaggerations, so why should one be acceptable but not the other?
UPDATE: From the Department of Who are the Idiots who Think this Makes Sense?, Secretary of State Colin Powell writes in yesterday's Washington Post:
Although Kay and his team have not yet discovered stocks of the weapons themselves, they will press on in the months ahead with their important and painstaking work. All indications are that they will uncover still more evidence of Hussein's dangerous designs...Well we believe that we were right to think there was a threat in the first place, the main reasons for believing that threat existed are still in place and we haven't come up with any new reasons, but we have taken care of the threat.
That italicized musing isn't comedy, by the way. It is Bush Administration’s actual message. 3:09 p.m. 10/08/03
Some clarification is perhaps needed on what I mean when I say the Bush Administration did present Saddam and those around him as an immediate or imminent threat, especially given how this issue is being discussed elsewhere. (None of which is to say they didn't say the threat would grow worse if the U.S. did nothing.) I'm not saying that they said they knew Iraq would attack the U.S. if the U.S. didn't strike first but rather that they said Saddam had the motive, the materials and the connections to do such an attack now if he chose to. As Bush said 366 days ago:
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 holds an unrelenting hostility toward the United States...This argument would require significant modifications if it was in fact known that Saddam did not have biological or chemical weapons, which is why the search for such weapons is important for political reasons and, assuming that there is still reason to believe that the Bush Administration's claims about Saddam's weapons could be true, for reasons of safety.
This speech wasn't an isolated incident.
Here's Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz on November 15, 2002:
Another question that I’m often asked, is “why act now, why not wait until the threat is imminent?” Again, it seems to me this question has a fairly simple answer. It was expressed very clearly by Senator Joseph Lieberman in the Rose Garden, the day the original Joint Resolution on the Use of Force was introduced. He said, “I have felt for more than a decade now that every additional day that Saddam Hussein is in power in Iraq is an additional day of danger for the Iraqi people, for his neighbors in the region, particularly for the people in the military of the United States, and indeed, for the people of the world.”In a December 2002 article National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice writes:
In fighting global terror, we will work with coalition partners on every continent, using every tool in our arsenal -- from diplomacy and better defenses to law enforcement, intelligence, cutting off terrorist financing, and, if needed, military power.Secretary of State Colin Powell said on January 26, 2003:
We should not underestimate what is at stake here. Saddam Hussein's hidden weapons of mass destruction are meant to intimidate Iraq's neighbors. These illegal weapons threaten international peace and security. These terrible weapons put millions of innocent people at risk...Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld got into the following exchange on January 29, 2003:
Q: Thank you. Do you believe Iraq represents an imminent threat to the United States?If that isn't enough, at the very least this blog entry on Bush's official campaign website makes it clear that the political wing of Team Bush is comfortable with people believing that there was "imminent." 8:42 p.m. 10/08/03
UPDATE #3: I debated how to respond to Tom Maguire’s comments on this post’s second update. Eventually a response wasn’t warranted. All communication involves some shared set of assumptions and when someone wants to ignore context and facts in order to claim to have scored a point, communication seems pointless. 9:29 p.m. 10/12/03
UPDATE #4: If partisans of the "war on terror" are going to insist that the Bush Administration never said Saddam was an "imminent threat" because Bush and friends didn't use that term, they ought to be similarly upset when the political wing of Team Bush distorts what members of the Bush Administration have said to score political points.
For instance, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs Condoleezza Rice gave a speech about Iraq on Tuesday, a transcript of which has shown up not only on whitehouse.gov but also Bush's official campaign website. "[R]ight up until the end," Rice says in the speech, "Saddam Hussein continued to harbor ambitions to threaten the world with weapons of mass destruction."
The headline on the campaign site is, "National Security Advisor Rice: Saddam Hussein Threatened the 'World with Weapons of Mass Destruction.'"
Even amongst only those who know about it, there hasn't been much of a demand for a correction. My apologies to Jason Leopold. 1:43 p.m. 10/13/03
UPDATE #5: GeorgeWBush.com writes:
This editorial on Iraq by Robert Kagan and William Kristol should not be missed. Kagan and Kristol outline exactly how our nation knew that Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction were such a danger (for starters, Iraq admitted to producing 3.9 tons of VX nerve gas and 8,500 liters of anthrax -- and never once accounted for these weapons).Actually it doesn't. What it does is just assume that Saddam having weapons of mass destruction was -funny how the tense thing works- a threat. This assumption may have some mert but there are significant problems with it as well and no reasonable person would just accept it as a given.
Kagan and Kristol write:
Kay and his team also discovered a massive effort to destroy evidence of weapons programs, an effort that began before the war and continued during it and even after the war. In the "looting" that followed the fall of Baghdad, computer hard drives were destroyed in government buildings--thus making the computers of no monetary value to actual looters. Kay also found documents burned or shredded. And people whom the Kay team tried to interview were in some cases threatened with retaliation by Saddam loyalists. Indeed, two of the scientists were subsequently shot. Others involved in the weapons programs have refused to talk for fear of eventual prosecution for war crimes.At the risk of beating a dead hawk, it amazes me that ostensibly smart people can say Saddam's weapons of mass destruction were a threat to the U.S. then but not worry about the weapons now. 12:42 p.m. 10/14/03