A growing threat

A growing threat
: By now we’ve all heard that weapons detective David Kay quit after not finding WMDs in Iraq. But listen, too, to what he told Tom Brokaw tonight:

TB: The president described Iraq as a gathering threat

  • anne.elk

    Uh, DK wouldn’t say imminent threat, so what’s your point? Uh, DK wouldn’t say imminent threat, so what’s your point?

  • http://oliverwillis.com Oliver

    Yeah, Kay sort of cuts the imminent threat argument off at the knees in that exchange. Those psychos in Texas are/were more of an imminent threat than Iraq ever was. And Al Qaeda certainly is.

  • http://www.ujournal.org/users/fd/ Firas

    anne.elk, his point is, if you keep chanting it, it might come true.

  • LLL

    Frankly, I think this is just a cop out. Something seriously went wrong here and we need to find out.

  • Tonto

    It’s good to see so many jerks are in one circle.

  • Jeremy

    As it’s been beaten to death again and again and again, Bush, nor anyone in the Administration, said Iraq was an imminant threat, in fact, they said the opposite.
    Shouldn’t you lefties be out beating up Jews or something?

  • http://www.ujournal.org/users/fd/ Firas

    I have a question. Where did the ‘left hates jews’ idea come from? It’s the most mindnumbingly clueless thing I’ve seen advanced by warbloggers and their commentors. The whole ‘left’ idea is based around acceptance of diversity, you know.

  • Historian

    I think you might say that it originally came from Stalin. He murdered every Jewish member of the Politburo. In their time, Jews have been blamed for Communism, Capitalism and even Christianity (by Voltaire). Why should the nitwits on the present left be exempt? They seemed to have copied every other part of their ideology.

  • linden

    Also, it could be related to the astronomical number of Leftists who seem to hate Jews.

  • http://www.tonypierce.com tony

    it’s a put on.

  • http://www.newmediamusings.com JD

    An imminent threat. An imminent threat.
    So maybe if you keep saying it, like Dorothy, it will turn out to be true?

  • Doctor Slack

    Ahhh, good to see us all cleaning up the graffiti. Heartwarming.
    Firas: “the left hates Jews” meme is a response to growing criticism of Israel from, in fact, across the political spectrum*. All of which must obviously be anti-Semitic because David Horowitz says so, so there. Double anti-Semite, no returns, infinity plus one.
    * – Oh, and within Israel, presumably all from self-hating Jews who want to see themselves driven into the sea.
    Have to agree with the preceding comments. Chanting “an imminent threat” in response to that lukewarm attempt at face-saving from DK makes Jeff look, ummm, not so good.
    As it’s been beaten to death again and again and again, Bush, nor anyone in the Administration, said Iraq was an imminant threat,
    For the love of Pete. We’ve been there before, haven’t we? As it’s been beaten to death again and again and again indeed.

  • Doctor Slack

    Oh, speaking of anti-Semitism, ran across this lovely piece by Cal Thomas while looking up something else:
    Dean is from a Congregationalist background, a liberal denomination . . . Each Congregationalist believes he is in direct contact with God . . . Dean’s wife is Jewish and his two children are being raised Jewish, which is strange at best, considering that the two faiths take a distinctly different view of Jesus. . . What exactly does Dean believe about Jesus, and how is it relevant to his presidential candidacy?
    It’s okay. Cal is a friend of Israel, so the not-so-subtle undertones of the above couldn’t possibly be anti-Semitic. Whew.
    And here’s a Nation article on the Myth of the New Anti-Semitism.

  • Charlie

    Nice dance, guys, but what Kay actually said was:

    TB: The president described Iraq as a gathering threat

  • Sortelli

    Slack, the crazed frothing whingers at SpinSanity have something imminent for you:
    http://www.spinsanity.org/columns/20031103.html

  • Pele

    America will eat itself. That’s the imminent threat.

  • lk

    Kay has talked so much, and with variation, that he has provided both sides of the Iraq argument with fuel. The key is to accentuate the positive (of your argument), and negate or ignore the negative (of your argument). By taking a section of his utterances, and highlighting the part you like (must make sure to add words “emphasis added”), one can score points, in ones own mind. Does anyone think what Kay said has changed anyone’s opinion?

  • tim

    Jeff,
    You asked a few weeks ago whether it would be wise to create a bulletin board here. I think this thread serves as the cautionary ‘no’ to that question.
    On topic, the more we learn about prewar Iraq, the more it looks like Saddam’s greatest accomplishment was convincing everyone that he was still in charge, while in fact the country was sliding toward chaos. On balance, we did the right thing to go in.

  • Reid

    The positions are pretty well hardened and, debate of this topic really cannot do anything but devolve into mutual abuse. Frankly, I’m past it. I know it was the right thing to do. Period, end of discussion.
    I think the wisdom of the Iraqi operation will only really become apparent in the long run, with a reformed Mideast and the falling of dictatorial dominoes around the world. I’m glad that, when the histories are written 30 years hence, I will be able to tell my grandchildren, “yes, I stood up to be counted against the comfortable non-interventionists, for human freedom and against tyranny.”
    You know, today’s leftists like to claim the mantle and rest on the laurels of the human rights crusaders of the past. FDR in WWII, the civil rights crusaders of the 1960’s, people who shed blood, sweat and tears in the cause of liberty and true Democracy. But, when it comes their turn to actually make sacrifices, to fight the good fight, they are missing in action. It is not a very attractive display.

  • hen

    Two points:
    1) Bush NEVER said “imminent threat”; therefore to use the imminent threat meme as a reason to be for or against the war, which by the way is essentially over (yes i am aware that troops are still being targetted, nevertheless) is either stupid or dishonest – which is it?
    2) The Left in this country, the hard left, has taken anti semitism, disguised poorly as criticism of Israel, as the foundation that they want to build their new world on. But their “Anti Zionism” isn’t just veiled hatred of Jews, but America as well. But whatever, keep on pretending that the various leaders of the numerous leftists groups aren’t anti semitic and you’ll sleep better.

  • Max

    You know- you try and read about Kay and all you get is this crazy talk about anti-semitism. What gives? I thought everyone was an anti-Semite? I kid. Seriously though, just another bit of info gleaned from the www. Unfortunately, another loaded bit of junk that will be pitched. Name calling- whew.

  • http://www.stevegigl.com Steve Gigl

    I have a question. Where did the ‘left hates jews’ idea come from? It’s the most mindnumbingly clueless thing I’ve seen advanced by warbloggers and their commentors. The whole ‘left’ idea is based around acceptance of diversity, you know.
    Oh, it’s not any more clueless than “the right hates minorities and poor people,” which certainly seems to make the rounds. And as far as I can tell, the only types of diversity that the left tolerates is that of skin color and recent immigrants’ cultures. (No, there’s nothing wrong with either of them, but allowing a little diversity of thought once in a while seems more important to me.)

  • Susan

    If Saddam was not a threat, why did the United Nations continue the policy of containment for the eight years after the cease-fire of Gulf War I by spending billions and sending 30,000 troops in order to protect the surrounding countries from Saddam’s regime. We seem to have forgotten that Gulf War I did not end, it was a cease-fire.
    And why did the United Nations need 17 resolutions during this cease-fire.?
    Saddam had his reasons for throwing out the UN inspection team in 1998. Perhaps he was intending to convert all his dollars to Euros, rejuvenate his business relationship with France and Russia and begin the second phase of renewing his weapons programs, after all, he did have the plans to do.
    Knowing Saddam’s track record I am not going to give him the benefit of the doubt.
    I am perplexed by those who continue to give him the benefit of the doubt.

  • hen

    Susan – Hear hear!

  • KMK

    Why is it so many blogs have turned into quote ante game, I see your quote and raise you a quote, with a heh at the end. Your in the process of micro filtering you information to the point of stupidity. Did you read through the Brokaw interview? How in hell do you come up with anything left vs right? Are where, pray tell, is the anti-Semitism?

  • Doctor Slack

    Kay said Bush was right to believe Iraq was a gathering threat.
    IOW, Kay implied Bush said something other than he said and defended that. Iraq was “a gathering threat” could mean almost anything; what level of “gathering threat” was it? The rest of Kay’s report indicates a very minor one. This is called saving face, coming from a man who confidently declared he was going to confirm the existence of WMD and came back with less than even the anti-wars had dreamed possible.
    But of course, Bush didn’t actually use the word “imminent threat,” so all is good, right? As Josh Marshall notes in the TPM post linked above: “I didn’t accuse you of eating the cake. All I said was that you sliced it up and put it in your mouth.”
    The Left in this country, the hard left, has taken anti semitism (blah blah)
    Addressed in the Nation article linked above.
    How in hell do you come up with anything left vs right?
    Better ask Jeremy — it was his gratuitous Jew-bashing jab that started off that tangent. You’re not, of course, suggesting that people should refrain from debunking that kind of nonsense when it’s flung about…
    The positions are pretty well hardened and, debate of this topic really cannot do anything but devolve into mutual abuse.
    Depends on who’s taking part. Serious pro-wars, (Ken Pollack, for instance, whose book The Threatening Storm was popular and much-quoted), show the ability to reevaluate the case for war as we learn more about what was done, what was on the ground, and what was really justifiable in that context. They may or may not arrive at out-and-out condemning the invasion — and that’s fine, really, don’t expect them to — but they’re perfectly capable of admitting to themselves and others that there were serious problems in the case made for war, and that that’s a problem in itself.
    That ability is conspicuously absent in too many others, for whom the war has become a fixed idea that must be defended at all costs with whatever is to hand. Those people are often highly susceptible to myth-making like this, among other bad habits.

  • Ebb Tide

    For those interested, Diane Rehm on NPR did an entire hour this morning with actual UN and Nuclear inspectors and they gave their reactions to Kay’s comments… one thing they wished to see was a written REPORT by kay, and not him making the rounds of media outlets… supposedly a written report will eventually come out, but not by Kay since he resigned.
    http://www.wamu.org/dr/
    Scroll down to Tuesday’s show, 1.27.04

  • Doctor Slack

    On the Spinsanity site: looks like contortion to me. Lots of desperate parsing like this response to Marshall:
    However, the National Security Strategy language above does not actually apply the term “imminent threat” to Iraq. It instead contends that the legal concept “imminent threat” embodies should be expanded to allow action against threatening “rogue states” and terrorists even when there is not direct evidence that they are mobilizing forces for an attack.
    Ben Fritz tries to argue, absurdly, that expanding the definition of “imminent threat” doesn’t actually constitute talking about things under the new definition as “imminent threats.” The rest of the article is similarly poor.

  • Charlie

    Dr Slack, look at what you’re saying: you’re saying that Bush said “gathering threat”, and Kay agrees that there was a “gathering threat”, but that you know Bush meant and implied “imminent threat” even though he explicitly said the threat was not imminent, and therefore “IOW, Kay implied Bush said something other than he said….”
    Let’s ignore the factual details on either side and just examine, like good rhetoricians, the form of that argument. When we do, there’s really only one word for it: it’s freaking nuts.
    Well, okay, that’s two words.

  • Charlie

    Uh, Pele, just to get a start on this, why don’t you eat me?
    Reid, I agree with you. At this point it’s becoming (for me) a somewhat academic fascination with the rhetoric as a topic in itself.

  • Doctor Slack

    Charlie: the link I provided earlier is sufficient response to the “Bush didn’t say it was imminent” parsing. We’re not talking about any great vagaries here, we’re talking about you wriggling. If you imagine that “gathering” and “imminent” mean the same thing in diplomatic and military terms, then we’re going to be waiting some time for your turn as a “good rhetorician,” I’m sorry to say.

  • Doctor Slack

    but that you know Bush meant and implied “imminent threat”
    Oh, incidentally, given that as any idiot can see, Bush couldn’t possibly have meant or implied “imminent threat,” why exactly do you think that phrase turns up in Jeff’s chant in the main post? I’m curious.

  • Ebb Tide

    Also, don’t minimize the fact that Colin Powell spent 2 hours at the UN going on and on about WMD and showed many visual aids illustrating the threat… the impression he gave was much more serious than what, in fact, is actually there. Tony Blair will be facing a vote of confidence over this in Britain…. this is very serious stuff.

  • Charlie

    Dr Slack, first of all, just as a logic/rhetoric guy, I don’t find any argument that repeated statements that specifically say “not an imminent threat” mean “imminent threat” very convincing. Especially from the standpoint of actual formal logic, if not α can be inferred from α then any statement is a true statement … and any statement is a false statement … and we basically just don’t have anything to talk about, or any way to talk about it.
    This is a theorem, and basically incontrovertible. Josh Marshall’s argument just proves he’s not a rigorous thinker.
    What’s more, once we dispose of the inherent absurdity, there’s the second problem that the whole point of the argument — including Marshall’s argument — is that the Administration was specifically arguing against the notion that the only justification for action would be “imminent” threat. Thus to argue that by asserting the right to act if the threat is not “imminent” but merely serious and increasing, they are arguing that the threat is “imminent” is to once again assert an absurdity.
    It’s academically interesting because I can’t decide whether to call it a straw man, begging the question, an equivocation or an amphiboly, but that doesn’t reduce the absurdity, just makes the taxonomy interesting.
    As far as the other question — what Jeff meant — I guess you’d have to ask Jeff. My own guess is that he was trying for some rhetorical effect that didn’t quite work. What the hell — even Jove nods.

  • Charlie

    Ebb Tide, you’re asking that Bush, Powell, et al have perfect foreknowledge of what the reality was, rather than what the intelligence they had said. No one who had access to the same intelligence seems to have thought there were no WMD — either Clinton, Levin, Kerry, Bill Cohen, the CIA, the UN, UNSCOM, UNMOVIC, and so on — except, perhaps, Vladimir Putin. Nor, contrary to what people are making of it, did Dr Kay say there were none, just that there aren’t any now, and he doesn’t know why.
    That’s not the same as saying they didn’t act in good faith on the best information they had.
    Whether it’s sufficient political leverage to bring down Blair is a whole ‘nother question.

  • Doctor Slack

    I don’t find any argument that repeated statements that specifically say “not an imminent threat” mean “imminent threat” very convincing.
    Oh, please. Sorry, but I don’t find the misrepresentation of arguments very convincing.
    Put it this way, since the prevailing tack of the Bush Administration was to upgrade threats that had been previously considered “serious” (or, more vaguely, “growing” or “gathering” or what have you) to the status of “imminent,” it’s patently absurd to pretend that this doesn’t amount to arguing for an “imminent threat.” This is the same kind of special pleading Fritz tried on Spinsanity. I’m not buying it.
    In the larger sense, you can parse “we don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud” any way you want, but that kind of rhetoric pretty obviously convinced Jeff (and many others) that the threat was imminent. It’s not even remotely out of line to suspect this is exactly what it was meant to do. You can parse it other ways if you work hard enough at it, but what you can’t do is make those interpretations compelling given the obvious context.

  • Doctor Slack

    it’s patently absurd to pretend that this doesn’t amount to arguing for an “imminent threat.”
    Just occurred to me that a different analogy might help clarify what I’m finding unimpressive.
    If someone argues that all pastries should henceforth be called “cake,” and someone later points out that this makes no sense and misrepresents the pastries, your argument basically amounts to saying: “look, when he said we shall call all pastries ‘cake,’ he was clearly saying we should not call them cake! He meant we should call cake pastry!”

  • Susan

    Maybe Doctor Slack could be a believer of Saddam’s ability to threaten the world if the words of warning came from a highly respected humanitarian peace organization.
    I will add to Charlie’s list of those who thought Saddam had WMD’s, CEIP (better known as Carnegie Endowment for International Peace)stated in their 2002 report that Iraq “almost certainly does have large numbers of chemical weapons and some biological weapons”
    Go figure, even the humanitarians claimed Saddam was a threat.
    In addition, was not the anti-war argument based on the idea that Saddam would use his WMD’s whereby killing millions?
    I still will not give Saddam the benefit of the doubt.
    The quote from Bush 2003 State of the Union was “some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent” which is exactly what the former American administration did all during the 90’s regarding the Korean Peninsula. Bush’s intention of stopping Saddam from becoming a greater threat to our world was because we failed to stop the imminent threat existing in North Korea. Try stopping a rogue regime who now has nuclear capacity mainly due to the free world’s failure to act before this threat became imminent.
    Because Bush took action against rogue nations, we are now seeing that these nations are beginning to crumble. Bush’s foreign policy of action is proving itself to be far more effective than the previous adminstration’s foreign policy of appeasement.
    Re-reading Bush’s 2003 State of the Union address will help clear all the confusion.

  • Doctor Slack

    I will add to Charlie’s list of those who thought Saddam had WMD’s, CEIP (better known as Carnegie Endowment for International Peace)
    Since the WMD argument was the one that would most likely have won me over, I followed it closely. Organizations like the CEIP were often selectively quoted and their positions distorted in the pro-war quest for “gotcha” arguments, as Susan is attempting here. The 2002 report she is excerpting is here in its entirety, and lays out a case for “coercive inspections” as an alternative to war. Theirs was one of many anti-war positions (or at least, anti-Bush’s war-positions, which amounts to much the same thing in this context) that mistakenly gave the Bush Administration some benefit of the doubt on the WMD issue.
    The report also says, on its opening page:
    There is much else about the Iraqi government that is fiercely objectionable but nothing that presents an imminent threat to the region, the United States, or the world.
    In addition, was not the anti-war argument based on the idea that Saddam would use his WMD’s whereby killing millions?
    No, there was no “the anti-war argument.” “Anti-war” was a diverse patchwork of concerned citizens and organizations airing concerns and putting forward alternatives to the war. They had no single platform. I’m surprised you don’t understand this.
    Bush’s foreign policy of action is proving itself to be far more effective than the previous adminstration’s foreign policy of appeasement.
    Far more effective at what? Ignoring the rote It’s All Clinton’s Fault sentiment here, I’m presuming the above is a reference to Iran. So, I’ll just ask you this: has the reform challenge to the Guardian Council in Iran accelerated or slowed as the apparent risk of American invasion has receded?

  • http://www.hfienberg.com/kesher/ Yehudit

    “The whole ‘left’ idea is based around acceptance of diversity, you know.”
    Yeah, right. That’s why leftists routinely deny any Jewish connection to Israel, even though such claims have much more cultural and historical validity and documentation than Palestinian claims. That’s why whenever Jews want to preserve our ethnic heritage we are called racists by the Left, even though the left claims to support small ethnic groups in self-determination and sovereignty, and is supposedly very interested in protecting them from globalization and domination by Western culture. All of them ecept the Jews, that is.
    Yeah, the left is so accepting of diversity. That’s why Iraqi expats who supported the war (i.e. almost all of them) were never allowed to speak to aniwar rallies. So there were never any Iraqis on the podium of any rallies against war in Iraq.
    Tell me another one.

  • http://www.hfienberg.com/kesher/ Yehudit

    ” Cal is a friend of Israel, so the not-so-subtle undertones of the above couldn’t possibly be anti-Semitic. Whew.”
    Why do you assume Jews don’t call this antisemitism? Don’t put words in our mouths. I don’t know too many Jews who love Cal Thomas. What does this have to do with anything?
    “And here’s a Nation article on the Myth of the New Anti-Semitism.”
    So what? He’s got his fingers in his ears and he’s chanting “la la la I can’t hear you,” and so do you. So what else is new?

  • Charlie

    … since the prevailing tack of the Bush Administration was to upgrade threats that had been previously considered “serious” (or, more vaguely, “growing” or “gathering” or what have you) to the status of “imminent,” it’s patently absurd to pretend that this doesn’t amount to arguing for an “imminent threat.”

    Okay, so it proves you’re not a very rigorous thinker either.
    I mean, I hate to be just dismissive since you are being civil and at least trying to make an argument, but what else is there to say? Your argument is just vacuous at it’s heart: if an argument that specifically disclaims “imminent threat” and further argues why it’s necessary to replace the standard of “imminent threat” with another, more inclusive, standard can then be cast as a statement that there is an “imminent threat”, then any statement, even “Kermit is a frog” can be cited as an argument that Bush said “imminent threat.” I’ll forebear from demonstrating the proof, but you can look it up in any decent logic text. (I’d suggest Irv Copi’s book, I can get you a cite if you’re interested.)

  • Charlie

    The report also says, on its opening page:
    There is much else about the Iraqi government that is fiercely objectionable but nothing that presents an imminent threat to the region, the United States, or the world.

    There’s really not much juice left in the “imminent” argument, but this sets up an example of why you simply don’t want to take this tack.
    See, the natural consequence of your argument, that Bush et al were arguing that the threat, being present and growing, was therefore an imminent threat, means that the Carnegie Endowment was simply wrong: the threat, being present and growing, was imminent.
    In the mean time, do you suppose you could explain to me how “coercive inspections” would be in any way distinguishable from a war?

  • Doctor Slack

    Why do you assume Jews don’t call this antisemitism? Don’t put words in our mouths.
    Who said I was talking about “Jews”? Don’t put words in my mouth.
    So what? He’s got his fingers in his ears and he’s chanting “la la la I can’t hear you,”
    Pot, kettle, you know the rest. Nothing new there either.
    if an argument that specifically disclaims “imminent threat” and further argues why it’s necessary to replace the standard of “imminent threat” with another, more inclusive, standard can then be cast as a statement that there is an “imminent threat”,
    It’s hard for me not to conclude you’re just playing games at this point, but I’m going to give this one more shot. IIRC, the post of mine you were originally responding to said that 1) “gathering threat” can’t be equated to “imminent threat” in any sane discourse, and 2) that Bush and Co had clearly gone out of their way to imply “imminent threat.”
    I’ve since referenced Ben Fritz’ spin job on Spinsanity, which another poster provided to “rebut” Marshall’s article on TPM. Here’s the most relevant excerpt of the National Security Strategy:
    We must adapt the concept of imminent threat to the capabilities and objectives of today’s adversaries. Rogue states and terrorists do not seek to attack us using conventional means. They know such attacks would fail. Instead, they rely on acts of terror and, potentially, the use of weapons of mass destruction-weapons that can be easily concealed, delivered covertly, and used without warning…
    IOW, the Administration is emphatically not rejecting the concept of “imminent threat,” they are arguing for its expansion. (Fritz tries to skirt the question of whether that expansion was specifically meant to apply to Iraq, in ways that don’t impress me.) Now, you can have yourself some fun trying to pretend that this somehow constitutes “disclaiming imminent threat,” and you know, good luck with that. But it’s not intellectually serious and I think you’re bright enough to know it.
    means that the Carnegie Endowment was simply wrong: the threat, being present and growing, was imminent.
    Yes, if you accepted the Bush Administration’s premises that would be the case. But you’re probably bright enough to know that it’s not necessary to talk about threats through the prism of Bush’s premises, now aren’t you?

  • Jerry

    It seems clear Saddam was pretty far out of it the last couple of years, spending most of his time on that novel. His scientists meantime were bilking him for millions with the promise of MWDs up the wazoo. Is it possible the western intelligence services were taken to the cleaners along with Saddam?

  • KMK

    Selectively quoting CEIP, interestingly enough Instapundit pointed to http://www.dailypundit.com/archives/012771.php#012771 on the same issue today. They appear to be a little confused themselves.

  • lk

    Kay goes before Congress tomorrow. Pete Rose is laying odds on which side of his mouth he will talk out of.

  • Doctor Slack

    They appear to be a little confused themselves.
    By which you apparently mean they’ve changed their assessment of Iraq in the light of new evidence. It speaks volumes that you think of this as “confusion.”

  • Susan

    Blogging has afforded readers the ability to link to the source of the topic being discussed. One of many great features this technology provides. The quote used by Instapundit is a real jewel.
    The title of CEIP’s report, “Iraq’s WMD’s Arsenal: Deadly but Limited” Great, I only have to worry about the death’s being limited.
    What struck my attention in the 2002 CEIP report is that, according to 17 UN resolutions, it was my understanding Saddam was not supposed to have any arsensal in the first place. Deadly, limited, or otherwise.
    All this talk about the validity of Saddam’s arsenal is like questioning whether or not Kim Jong Il held to his promise of not building his nuclear programs. I thought the appeasement funds were meant to feed the starving masses in North Korea.
    Human Rights organizations must be proud of their efforts all these years in limiting North Korea’s mass starvation problem to just a little over one million people. Their work in North Korea is oddly simular to their actions taken in Iraq these past years.
    Exactly what are the Human Rights organizations proposing to do now since their policy of appeasing tyrants through diplomacy and commerce have failed?

  • Doctor Slack

    What struck my attention in the 2002 CEIP report is that, according to 17 UN resolutions
    Not that UN resolutions mean anything, since the UN is a weak ineffectual tool of liberal appeasers and international law is totally meaningless and a cover for those who want to save dictators from America. Oh, wait, that was before — now the US is looking to Annan
    it was my understanding Saddam was not supposed to have any arsensal in the first place.
    And of course, on that basis the CEIP was supposed to conclude the only possible solution was war. Right? Well, not right… but of course you’d actually have to read their report to know that. Cirincione was at that point calling for an out-in-the-open debate:
    “The administration-and other nations-should disclose their detailed threat assessments as soon as possible to permit an informed public debate on the threats from Iraq and their urgency.”
    … which of course never happened. And now he’s had the gall, the audacity, the sheer effrontery to go and learn more stuff! And change his opinion in the light of learning more stuff! How dare he! What a lack of moral clarity. You’d think he was some kind of analyst or something.
    Human Rights organizations must be proud of their efforts all these years in limiting North Korea’s mass starvation problem to just a little over one million people.
    The United States government must be proud that its military standoff with North Korea has only starved a million people.
    No? Don’t like that statement? Then why are spouting irresponsible bullshit like the above?
    I thought the appeasement funds [blah blah] work in North Korea is oddly simular to their actions taken in Iraq [blah blah] since their policy of appeasing tyrants [blah blah]
    lk mentioned on another thread that a lot of “war” hysteria seems based on “Greatest Generation”-envy, on people hoping to have a similar story to tell their grandkids. I’m starting to see what he means.

  • Doctor Slack

    Oops, missed some of these Golden Oldies from Yehudit. More “fun” on the anti-Semitism tip:
    That’s why leftists routinely deny any Jewish connection to Israel, even though such claims have much more cultural and historical validity and documentation than Palestinian claims.
    Actually, there are plenty of Jews who deny Zionist claims as well. And centuries of continuous residence in a country definitely gives a people no claim on it… except, wasn’t that the basis of the Jews’ original claim? Well, never mind.
    Jews Against Zionism must obviously be self-hating, of course. Or not “real” Jews. Yep, that Rabbi Sonnenfeld, definite anti-Semite. Indeed, those who don’t say what the Likud want to hear must be obviously anti-Semitic… I mean, there are those who demur but they’re obviously self-hating tools of the left’s new anti-Semitism.
    On the whole I agree with Yehudit. Anyone who criticizes Israel must have it in for the Jews — except, isn’t it Obviously Anti-Semitic to equate Israel with “the Jews”?
    Well, never mind. I’m sure Yehudit will reveal to me the Proper Path to Wisdom on that issue.

  • Charlie

    IIRC, the post of mine you were originally responding to said that 1) “gathering threat” can’t be equated to “imminent threat” in any sane discourse, and 2) that Bush and Co had clearly gone out of their way to imply “imminent threat.”

    Yes, that’s what I was responding to. It’s a simple dichotomy: either you believe what they said, in which case — since they explicitly and in so many words disclaimed there being an “imminent” threat — you can’t argue that they lied by saying/implying the threat was imminent.
    If, on the other horn, you accept that they have extended the term “imminent” to include existing threats that can be a risk but which may not be an immediate threat, then the existing WMD programs make Iraq under Saddam an imminent threat, and they were not lying because the threat really was imminent.
    As to the other point directed to my argument:

    Yes, if you accepted the Bush Administration’s premises that would be the case. But you’re probably bright enough to know that it’s not necessary to talk about threats through the prism of Bush’s premises, now aren’t you?

    You’re right that I’m not forced to accept Bush’s premises, but I do so freely; I think the general case is compelling. But to argue this, you’ve got to be accepting, at least tacitly, that if Bush was factually justified in his assumption then the threat was imminent and action was in fact justified. The last several times around that particular barn, it seems the argument comes back to you claiming that Bush lied by saying the threat was imminent. I’m not particularly interested in another run of that particular argument: have you got something new to offer?

  • Daniel

    The United States government must be proud that its military standoff with North Korea has only starved a million people.
    Ok, Doctor Slack, you’ve exposed yourself for what you really are — just an attention seeking troll.
    I had been assuming that you were well-intentioned but misguided. Now it has become clear that you are only here to engage in a debating game. You just take a contrarian position and show how cleverly you can argue the point.
    How old are you? 16? 18? Obviously, you’re a bright guy, but you’re putting all your energy into being an obnoxious smartass. Making snide remarks about mass starvation doesn’t make you cool or clever. It only makes you look like a jerk. Grow up.

  • Doctor Slack

    Ok, Doctor Slack, you’ve exposed yourself for what you really are — just an attention seeking troll.
    Yeah, I’m particularly attentive to maturity critiques from posters who clearly haven’t managed to read the sentence following the one they’re objecting to. In the future, you’re going to find it useful to have more than a ten-second attention span for discussing topics like this.
    Meanwhile, back at the yoga centre:
    It’s a simple dichotomy: either you believe what they said, in which case — since they explicitly and in so many words disclaimed there being an “imminent” threat — you can’t argue that they lied by saying/implying the threat was imminent.
    Okay, it’s time for you to be specific. Where precisely did Bush “explicitly and in so many words disclaim there being an ‘imminent’ threat”? But let’s see if we can agree to a couple of basic rules first:
    Rule #1: since Bush was aiming to broaden the definition of the term “imminent,” you don’t get to use instances where he used other words than “imminent” to pretend that he must have been “disclaiming ‘imminent threat.'”
    Rule #2: you don’t get to pretend that DK was using Bush’s expanded definition of “imminent” when he said “gathering threat,” both because you simply don’t know this and because DK isn’t an Administration spokesman. [What we've seen here suggests he took a Bush comment and parsed it to his own tastes without respect to context. Like some other people we could name...]
    Got anything?
    If, on the other horn, you accept that they have extended the term “imminent” to include existing threats that can be a risk but which may not be an immediate threat, then the existing WMD programs make Iraq under Saddam an imminent threat, and they were not lying because the threat really was imminent.
    Good lord. *shakes head* Let’s try a parallel construction:
    I have extended the term “Charlie” to include people who look vaguely like Charlie but are not him. These existing non-Charlies are now “Charlie” under my new definition, therefore I’m not lying to people when I point to my buddy Jason and tell them “this is Charlie, a regular reader of Jeff Jarvis’ Buzzmachine site.”
    Spot any wee leaps of logic in the above? They’re the same ones appearing in your argument.

  • Homer Robinson

    Old “Doc Slack” must be some kind of break dancer. Dance “Doc” Dance.

  • Doctor Slack

    Ah, a “rebuttal” worthy of that most famous of Homers, my friend. Not the Greek poet, though; the other one. ;-)

  • Susan

    Well, Dr Slack, after years of failing to diplomatically appease tyrants, perhaps CEIP might consider war as a possible solution.
    How many times was Saddam requested to prove he did not have WMD’s and how many times did he reject the request?
    This war is not about “generation envy” it is about survival. By the way, the “great generation” in WWII did not believe Hilter was a threat to America either until Hilter obliterated most of Europe. It was then that America entered the war despite the pacifists objections.
    The situation now in the Balkans is one of many examples of why the United Nations should not be used in Iraq.
    The political pressure in America to “quickly fix” Iraq is what will destroy the process of establishing democracy.
    The irony of this situation is that it was okay to spend a decade containing Saddam but, not having secured democracy established in Iraq within one year is unexceptable, a failure, a quagmire(blah, blah, blah)
    In your desire to bring down Bush you overlook the fact that your actions are also helping to destroy Iraq’s chance for building a better future for the people who live in Iraq.

  • Doctor Slack

    The political pressure in America to “quickly fix” Iraq is what will destroy the process of establishing democracy.
    Really. Bush was under “political pressure” to adopt a trial-and-error approach to governing the country? To use RMA-based estimates of the forces necessary to provide security? To disband the country’s existing government infrastructure in a misguided attempt at “de-Baathification”? From whom, exactly, was this “pressure” coming?
    Ah, of course it’s all the fault of the critics. Their negative vibes must have somehow made all these things happen from afar.
    your actions are also helping to destroy Iraq’s chance for building a better future for the people who live in Iraq.
    Right. Dissent is treason! Grand Ayatollah Sistani is reading this comments section right now and laughing an evil laugh! And besides, your actions in supporting a poorly-planned war that’s left their country in chaos are obviously “building a better future”…

  • Richard Aubrey

    What’s the importance of “imminent”? Apart from the liars claiming Bush said it, or meant it, I mean.
    Bush was clearly saying that a situation does not have to provide an imminent threat to be worthy of action.
    The discussion ought to be about at what level of threat is action–subdivided by types of action–justified.
    The extremely liberal Presbyterian Church (USA) looked at the Balkans some years ago and devised what they called a doctrine of humanitarian intervention, which even envisioned military force.
    One point is that the farther upstream, if you will, that intervention is applied, the less chance of the situation deteriorating to humanitarian chaos.
    The problem with that is that the farther upstream you go, the less obvious is the problem and the inevitability of the presumed horrific outcome.
    Nevertheless, a liberal church is promoting at least thinking about making this a US doctrine, including rethinking the idea of national sovereignty.
    Libs have addressed the same issue less formally and are not averse to the conclusions.
    Which is to say that looking at Iraq is kind of difficult. About the only objection the humanitarian interventionists could make is we didn’t do it earlier.
    But, of course, they will never say it.
    BECAUSE THEY NEVER MEANT FOR THE US TO DO IT.
    Or at least never when it was a matter, too, of national security, a concept which they find offensive.

  • Charlie

    Okay, it’s time for you to be specific. Where precisely did Bush “explicitly and in so many words disclaim there being an ‘imminent’ threat”?

    Now you’re just playing games. The Spinsanity article you quoted from has one such example in its text, no more than a few lines previous.

  • Doctor Slack

    The Spinsanity article you quoted from has one such example in its text, no more than a few lines previous.
    Yeah, except that the Spinsanity article’s own claim is debunked by the language of the National Security Strategy it attempts to dance around. At best, and I’ll give you this, you can claim that Bush sometimes contradicated his own claims of imminent threat. But given how broadly his foundational security document tried to define “imminent” it’s really not much of a point.
    “Playing games” indeed.
    Bush was clearly saying that a situation does not have to provide an imminent threat to be worthy of action.
    Bush was clearly trying to have his cake and eat it too. He wanted the urgency, powers and legitimacy of “imminent threat” without the substance, and most importantly without the pesky necessity of having intelligence assessments that really supported his case. He did everything he could to imply the threat was functionally imminent, and he pushed the rhetoric as far as it could go to apply it to Iraq. This is amply documented and there’s no dancing around it, though Charlie has given it a good shot here.
    what they called a doctrine of humanitarian intervention, which even envisioned military force.
    Ummm, humanitarian intervention is military force. There are too many people still far, far too clueless about the fact that anti-(Bush’s)-war does not mean pacifism.
    About the only objection the humanitarian interventionists could make is we didn’t do it earlier.
    Ummm, no. See the recent HRW report that so outraged Jeff.

  • Charlie

    You’re arguing that by arguing that the “imminent threat” doctrine is no longer appropriate and should be extended to less immediate sorts of threat, they’re saying the threat is imminent. You then say that since the threat wasn’t imminent, they’re lying.
    The flaw is that you’re using two definitions of “imminent”: on the one hand, you’re accepting that the Administration is expanding on the imminent threat doctrine to a sort of proximate or predictable threat doctrine — and I agree that’s what they’re doing. You’re then arguing that by making that extension, they’re essentially redefining “imminent” to mean “proximate or predictable” rather than the dictionary’s “immediate”.
    You then argue the Administration was lying, because it wasn’t really “imminent”, that is, “immediate”.
    This is known, technically, as an “equivocation”.
    Either you’re unaware of your fallacy, or you’re playing games. Which is it: ignorance, or duplicity?

  • Charlie

    … and I’m still wondering how “coercive inspections” in Iraq would be different from war followed by occupation.

  • Doctor Slack

    The flaw is that you’re using two definitions of “imminent”
    The two definitions are the point of what I’m saying. Drumming on the term “imminent” or on scenarios analogous to imminent threat (“don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud”) without clarifying how the term is being redefined is, functionally, a deception. Or, more bluntly put, a lie. And that’s not even getting into whether or not the redefinition itself is valid.
    You’re clearly misusing equivocation. I don’t know whether from ignorance or duplicity, and I don’t care at this point.
    Now, it would be different if with each repetition of that term, or the vaguer but evocative language surrounding it, the Admin had been forthright about their definitions. But that’s not how propaganda works, and that’s not what the Bush Administration did. They gave an eccentric definition to a common term and used it, or clear analogies to it, with every reason to suspect it would convey a false and heightened, impression of threat (unless, of course, they were just totally incompetent, which is your escape clause). And it obviously worked.
    Which is it: ignorance, or duplicity?
    I’ll let you know when I’ve stopped beating my wife. What were you saying about fallacies?
    … and I’m still wondering how “coercive inspections” in Iraq would be different from war followed by occupation.
    Well, apart from involving neither war nor occupation, no different at all.

  • Doctor Slack

    without clarifying how the term is being redefined
    Further clarification: yes, I’m of course well aware they identified the redefinition in the NSS, as I noted earlier… but that’s not nearly as widely-read as other mass media outlets in which they didn’t, as they have cause to know.

  • Susan

    Oops, documents exposing Saddam’s oil bribery with none other than France and Russia were recently found.
    Guess the claim chanted by the anti-war crowd that this war was about oil is true. Appears they were protecting French and Russian oil interests after all.

  • Doctor Slack

    Oops, documents exposing Saddam’s oil bribery with none other than France and Russia were recently found.
    Oops, we’ve seen fake “scoops” like this before, gamely eaten up by Glenn Reynolds and others. Wonder if this time it will turn out to be true? Oh wait, it’s a Washington Times story. Not holding my breath, then.

  • Charlie

    Look, Slack, the whole point is that the only people using the term “imminent” is the people who are saying the danger wasn’t.
    The Administration never used the term.
    The National Security Strategy explicitly disavowed the doctrine of “imminent threat”, and announced a different doctrine. You — and the others beating this moribund equine — are conflating that new doctrine with the old doctrine of “imminent threat”. Then, having discovered it wasn’t an “imminent threat” in the terms of the old doctrine, you want to believe, and convince others, that Bush lied.
    Maybe this works rhetorically, but it’s a con game; it’s not true, you’re just demonstrating verbal facility. And, fundamentally, if you keep pushing the notion, you’re either on the con yourself, or a mark.

  • Charlie


    … and I’m still wondering how “coercive inspections” in Iraq would be different from war followed by occupation.


    Well, apart from involving neither war nor occupation, no different at all.
    Silly flip answer. Try again. Tell me how to do “coercive inspections” in a hostile country without doing something indistinguishable from war and occupation. Does it mean using coersive bullets but not real killing bullets? Coersively taking the Army out of the way without fighting them? Protecting the scientists and technicians from the secret police without disagreeing with them?

  • Doctor Slack

    Look, Slack, the whole point is that the only people using the term “imminent” is the people who are saying the danger wasn’t.
    Really?

    “This is about imminent threat.”
    • White House spokesman Scott McClellan, 2/10/03

    Extensive list of quotes there characterizing the threat as immediate, unique and urgent (a popular one) et cetera. Split enough hairs and you can probably convince yourself that this has nothing to do with imminent, but you’re not going to convince anyone who’s paying attention to the context.
    Another response there to the attempt to lay the whole debacle on the intel agencies…
    The National Security Strategy explicitly disavowed the doctrine of “imminent threat”, and announced a different doctrine.
    It’s incredible that you can say this with a straight face, when the NSS is quoted in this thread as specifically expanding the definition of imminent threat rather than discarding it. I mean really, you are just playing games now.
    Silly flip answer…
    To a silly flip question. Armed inspections teams are armed inspections teams. Do you know what the difference is between inspections, war, and occupation?