Discussion Of Saddam and Iraq Return To British And American Politics

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The Iraq war was the subject of news today both in the UK, with the release of the Chilcot inquiry, and in the US  with news reports of Donald Trump praising Saddam. David Weigel made a point that the media’s coverage of Trump’s statements appeared timed to help Hillary Clinton after the Clinton campaign used them to distract from James Comey’s statement which accused Clinton of being extremely careless with classified information, and demonstrated that she has lied to the public on several key points regarding the email controversy. Missing from the mainstream media coverage was Clinton’s support for the Iraq war based upon false claims.

A seven-year official inquiry in Great Britain on the Iraq war was finally released and repeats what many critics of the Iraq war were saying from the start, including that the reports of WMD were based upon faulty intelligence and non-military responses were not exhausted. CNN reports:

A  long-awaited official inquiry delivered a devastating indictment of Britain’s decision to invade Iraq Wednesday, finding that the war was based on flawed intelligence and had been launched before diplomatic options were exhausted.

The findings of the 2.6 million-word Iraq Inquiry — seven years in the making — were released following a statement by probe chairman John Chilcot in London.

The former civil servant said that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein posed “no imminent threat” when the U.S-led invasion was launched in March 2003, and that while military action against him “might have been necessary at some point,” the “strategy of containment” could have continued for some time.

Chilcot said former British Prime Minister Tony Blair was warned of the risks of regional instability and the rise of terrorism before the invasion of Iraq, but pressed on regardless.

BBC News sums up two key points:

Chairman Sir John Chilcot said the 2003 invasion was not the “last resort” action presented to MPs and the public.

There was no “imminent threat” from Saddam – and the intelligence case was “not justified”, he said.

The Guardian called the war an “appalling mistake” and began their editorial in looking at the victims:

As always in matters of military aggression, the humane perspective has to start with the victims. Since the US-led, UK-backed invasion of Iraq in 2003, estimates of the lives lost to violence vary from a quarter of a million to 600,000. The number of injured will surely be several times that, and the number of men, women and children displaced from their homes is put at between 3.5 and 5 million, somewhere between one in 10 and one in six of the population.

There is no disputing the vicious brutality of the regime that ran the country before, but there is no serious disputing, either, that the suffering captured in these statistics of war are of another order to anything that would be endured in even tyrannical times of peace. Thirteen years on, as the deadly blast in Baghdad last weekend illustrated afresh, the predicament of the Iraqi people remains misery without end. The topsy-turvy post-9/11 rationalisation for regime change from the chauvinist, parochial and sometimes proudly ignorant George W Bush White House produced predictably topsy-turvy results. Jihadi forces that Saddam Hussein had contained were not discouraged by his ousting, but greatly emboldened. In sum, failures do not come any more abject than Iraq, nor catastrophes any less pure.

George Bush’s communication director responded to BBC News with a rationalization based upon Saddam’s actions: “Despite the intelligence failures and other mistakes he has acknowledged previously, President Bush continues to believe the whole world is better off without Saddam Hussein in power.”

Donald Trump has expressed a different viewpoint on Saddam throughout the campaign. CNN reports:

While acknowledging that Saddam Hussein “was a bad guy,” Trump praised the former Iraqi dictator’s efficient killing of “terrorists” — despite the fact that Iraq was listed as a state sponsor of terrorism during Hussein’s time in power.

Trump, who supported the Iraq War before the invasion and in the early months of the war, said the U.S. “shouldn’t have destabilized” Iraq before pivoting to praising Hussein.

“He was a bad guy — really bad guy. But you know what? He did well? He killed terrorists. He did that so good. They didn’t read them the rights. They didn’t talk. They were terrorists. Over. Today, Iraq is Harvard for terrorism,” Trump said.

While Trump’s praise of Saddam is rather foolish (and debunked by The Guardian), David Weigel has a point that this is something which Trump has been saying on the stump throughout the campaign, with news media reports of Trump praising Saddam coming after the Clinton campaign made a point of it. Weigel wrote, “whaling on Trump gave the campaign a chance to pivot on a day when the director of the FBI held an unusual and damaging news conference saying that the Democratic candidate, whom most voters consider untrustworthy, had behaved recklessly with classified email. The media went along with this by noting the irony, and remarking that Trump stepped on what could have been a good news cycle.” Weigel further wrote:

The point is that Trump has been saying, for quite some time, that the United States should not have gone to war in Iraq, and that it should side with dictators as long as they “kill terrorists.” The Republican primary electorate endorsed that view. Clinton, as a senator and then as secretary of state, took another view, and backed the use of American power to remove both Hussein and Libya’s Moammar Gaddafi. There’s video of Clinton gleefully saying “We came, we saw, he died” upon learning that Gaddafi had been torn apart by his own people. This has never been treated like a gaffe; but Trump’s “Saddam killed terrorists” riff suddenly is.

By consistently covering Trump’s argument over time, and by following up on it, media outlets did their job to inform voters. That was why Tuesday night’s collective Captain Renault moment was so strange, and so demonstrative of why many media consumers are skeptical of what they’re hearing. Instead of a debate on the facts — should Hussein have been removed? Did he “kill terrorists,” in a contradiction of what Americans were told before the war? — there was manufactured outrage, straight from a rival campaign.

The media coverage certainly has helped Clinton, in both stressing the worst aspects of Trump’s views and in totally ignoring how strong a supporter of the war Clinton was. Not only did Clinton support the war based upon the faulty intelligence cited in the report, she went beyond the claims of many supporters of the war in falsely claiming there were ties between Saddam and al Qaeda. Clinton’s support of neoconservative regime change has been a disaster. However Trump also has himself to blame. As on so many matters, even in criticizing Clinton where she deserves criticism, Trump has failed to make a consistent coherent argument against her, with the media further assisting Clinton.

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8 Comments

  1. 1
    Bob Munck says:

    Clinton's support of neoconservative regime change has been a disaster.

    So it was pretty much all her doing?  She convinced Bush, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, et al to call for war and talked senators like Tom Harkin, John Kerry, Joe Biden, 25 other Democrats, and all the Republicans except Chaffee into going along with her resolution to give Bush carte blanche to wage war, spoke out against putting any constraints on that whatsoever?

    What an interesting perspective you have. 

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    “So it was pretty much all her doing?”

    I never said that. Of course we both know that lying what I have said is a standard strategy of yours when you are making an argument with no leg to stand on.

    Other Democrats voting for the resolution does not make it right for Clinton to have done so. More importantly, Clinton did far more than vote for the resolution. She pushed for it with false claims of ties between Saddam and al Qaeda. She continued to push to go to war when other Democrats such as Kerry who had foolishly voted for the authorization were speaking out against actually going to war.

    While other Democrats voted for the war, most have rejected neoconservative policies while Clinton pushed for them both as Secretary of State and after leaving office. Fortunately most of her recommendations were rejected as Secretary of State. The one exception was Libya, which Obama has admitted was a disaster and the worst mistake of his administration. She continues to push neocon policies with regards to Syria and Russia.

    SO yes, Clinton’s neoconservative policies have been a disaster and place us at risk of further disaster.

  3. 3
    Bob Munck says:

    “So it was pretty much all her doing?” 

    I never said that.

    Oh, sure you did, Ron. Jeez, why lie about it now?  You've lost. 

    Right above you said "Clinton's support of neoconservative regime change has been a disaster." Obviously the disaster is the Iraq War and it's her support that caused it.  Your response to my comment just expands on that theme, makes it even more obvious that you think the war was all her doing.

    Go ahead, squirm and parse your statements to try to get out of it. Throw in some juicy ad hominems as you are wont to do. Your irrational hatred of Clinton shows in everything you write, and it does my heart good to know you'll be stewing in your own bile for the next eight years of her Presidency.

  4. 4
    Ron Chusid says:

    No Bob, even though you have defended her vote in the past, her support for the war was a big mistake and the war was a disaster. That in no way means what you falsely claimed I said.

    The disaster is not only the Iraq war. I am speaking of her entire neoconservative record, not just Iraq. If I meant Iraq I would have said Iraq. I was clearly speaking of her neoconservative views, not only Iraq.

    Once again you have no rational argument so all you can fall back on is lying about I said.

    What you falsely claim to be an “irrational hatred of Clinton” is an opposition to foolish wars and foreign policy views which are hazardous to the country. I opposed neoconsevativism under Bush, and will continue to oppose it from Clinton. The irrationality here comes from you, in opposing Bush but supporting the same policies when coming from Clinton.

  5. 5
    Bob Munck says:

    the war was a disaster. 

     You said that what she did was the disaster.  Can't you even be honest about your own words, on the same page?

  6. 6
    Brent says:

    Bob is seriously confused if he can't tell the difference between disagreeing with Clinton's views and saying "the war was all her doing." Read this again Bob. I don't see anywhere that it says this and your argument doesn't make a bit of sense. I don't also don't see any ad hominems. I've been reading this blog for about six years and don't recall Ron every using ad hominems despite quite a bit of provocation.

  7. 7
    Ron Chusid says:

    Yes Bob, I have said her support for the war was a disaster. I also said that neoconservative policies have been a disaster, especially what she did in Libya. That was never in dispute. I have been entirely honest about what I have said while you have lied about what I said and are now lying again about what was discussed. When you tell these lies, do you remember that what has been said is still on the page? You don’t seem to understand that considering how many times I have caught you in such blatant lies.

  8. 8
    Ron Chusid says:

    Brent, you are right but you have to understand Bob. Bob is strong opponent of anyone who he disagrees with having the right to express their views. He doesn’t even recognize that others can legitimately have different views from his. When he encounters other views, in his mind it must be due to things such as an irrational hatred of Clinton, as opposed disagreeing with her neoconservative foreign policy, her poor record on First Amendment rights, her abuse of money in politics, and dishonesty. He somehow thinks it strengthens his argument when he makes up absurd things which I never said. As for the ad hominems, that is pure projection from his typical comments (most of which wind up getting deleted because of this).

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