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> Helen Thomas asks a question about Iraq, and gets an earful about al Qaeda & 9/11
niftydrifty
post Mar 23 2006, 09:53 PM
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At a press conference on Tuesday, President Bush called on Helen Thomas.

link

Here's the question Helen Thomas asked:

"I'd like to ask you, Mr. President, your decision to invade Iraq has caused the deaths of thousands of Americans and Iraqis, wounds of Americans and Iraqis for a lifetime. Every reason given, publicly at least, has turned out not to be true. My question is, why did you really want to go to war? From the moment you stepped into the White House, from your Cabinet -- your Cabinet officers, intelligence people, and so forth -- what was your real reason? You have said it wasn't oil -- quest for oil, it hasn't been Israel, or anything else. What was it?"

and here's the response:

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: I think your premise, in all due respect to your question and to you as a lifelong journalist, is that, you know, I didn't want war. To assume I wanted war is just flat wrong, Helen, in all due respect --

HELEN THOMAS: Everything --

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Hold on for a second, please.

HELEN THOMAS: -- everything I've heard --

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Excuse me, excuse me. No president wants war. Everything you may have heard is that, but it's just simply not true. My attitude about the defense of this country changed on September the 11th. We -- when we got attacked, I vowed then and there to use every asset at my disposal to protect the American people. Our foreign policy changed on that day, Helen. You know, we used to think we were secure because of oceans and previous diplomacy, but we realized on September the 11th, 2001, that killers could destroy innocent life. And I'm never going to forget it. And I'm never going to forget the vow I made to the American people that we will do everything in our power to protect our people.

Part of that meant to make sure that we didn't allow people to provide safe haven to an enemy. And that's why I went into Iraq -- hold on for a second --

HELEN THOMAS: They didn't do anything to you or to our country.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Look -- excuse me for a second, please. Excuse me for a second. They did. The Taliban provided safe haven for al-Qaeda. That's where al-Qaeda trained --

HELEN THOMAS: I'm talking about Iraq --

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Helen, excuse me. That's where -- Afghanistan provided safe haven for al-Qaeda. That's where they trained. That's where they plotted. That's where they planned the attacks that killed thousands of innocent Americans.

I also saw a threat in Iraq. I was hoping to solve this problem diplomatically. That's why I went to the Security Council; that's why it was important to pass 1441, which was unanimously passed. And the world said, ‘Disarm, disclose, or face serious consequences’ --

HELEN THOMAS: -- go to war --

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: -- and therefore, we worked with the world, we worked to make sure that Saddam Hussein heard the message of the world. And when he chose to deny inspectors, when he chose not to disclose, then I had the difficult decision to make to remove him. And we did, and the world is safer for it.

You can listen to the exchange here (requires real audio player).

Question for debate:

Is Bush to blame for spreading the widespread misconceptions about a connection between 9/11 and Saddam Hussein?

Bonus non-War-on-Terrorism question:

Is Bush confused about why the weapons inspectors left Iraq before the invasion in March 2003?

This post has been edited by niftydrifty: Mar 23 2006, 09:55 PM
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Victoria Silverw...
post Mar 24 2006, 05:04 AM
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I don't think I would say that "Bush is to blame" for creating a direct link between 9/11 and Saddam Hussein. I would say that the response of almost everyone in the Federal government to the horrors of 9/11 was Let's retaliate NOW. Perhaps that is an understandable response. It may not have been wise foreign policy.

I seem to hear, from all segments of American society, a constant reminder of the fact that we live in a "post 9/11 world." This is true, of course, but we should remember that not everything in the world is directly connected to that tragedy.

The President's remarks can be paraphrased as "Ever since 9/11, I've had a more assertive foreign policy." Put that way, it may seem like a good idea or a bad idea. It does not suggest that the invasion of Iraq has anything at all to do with 9/11.
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AuthorMusician
post Mar 24 2006, 12:00 PM
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Let me do a little armchair psych here.

GWB has never experienced the death of a loved one. Just about everyone I've loved is dead, and I'm younger than GWB. There are two left, and one I can't get along with, so there you go.

Anyway, 9/11 was very similar to experiencing the death of a loved one. I recovered rather quickly because one does better with this sort of thing with practice. GWB never had that practice, so he made big mistakes. Unfortunately, he was also CiC at the time.

I might add that his administration is populated by similarly inexperienced individuals, and those who got it were suppressed.

Add to this a fundamental personality flaw that he cannot admit to a mistake, and along comes this sort of strange behavior. The man is so far into denial that he can't answer any question that goes toward the core thing. He can't admit that the Iraq liberation was a stupid move. I doubt he will ever be able to admit to this, and where he is going as a human being I would not wish on anyone. I don't mean hell either. The suffering is built in and more sublime than myth.

A fundamental condition of living is that nobody gets through this without paying something. Here we are seeing a highly protected individual who has not payed his dues coming face-to-face with his fate. It is not a pretty thing, and the aforementioned loved one whom I don't get along with is in a similar position. Yep, rich and given tremendous breaks all along, and now old and lonesome, wondering why people cross the street when he comes along, except those who live as he has lived. Eh, don't want to get into it right now.

Well, I'm not a psychologist but I am a writer and a reader of difficult literature (for pay). The character of George W. Bush is tragic beyond imagination. I could not have invented him.

So when he ducks and dodges and pretends to be profoundly deaf, I'm not surprised. It is a difficult thing to observe though, pathetic. Might need to write a similar character someday, but the fiction will never reach the level of the reality.

We went to war in Iraq because of 9/11. The End.
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Amlord
post Mar 24 2006, 04:10 PM
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George W. Bush is not the most eloquent man on the block. He has done an exceptionally poor job explaining his position on this issue.

Were Bush more eloquent, he might be able to convince more people that Iraq was indeed a threat. In fact, were he more eloquent he might get Congress to pass a bill (let's say unanimously in the Senate and 296 to 133 in the House) that "Declares that it should be the policy of the United States to seek to remove the Saddam Hussein regime from power in Iraq and to replace it with a democratic government."

A more eloquent President might be able to accomplish that.

Is Bush to blame for spreading the widespread misconceptions about a connection between 9/11 and Saddam Hussein?

No he is not. His words have been taken out of context and misunderstood. He has not done a good job clarifying for those that insist on reading into his words things he never said.

Bush has never linked Saddam to 9/11 to my knowledge. What he has done, and what he did again here, is to link 9/11 to a change in foreign policy. The thought process changed following the terrorist attack. We realized how vulnerable we are to attack from non-conventional enemies.

So 9/11 opened our eyes to this vulnerability. The thought process expanded a bit to brainstorm on worst case scenarios and it hit someone in the government: WMDs. What if 9/11 had occurred not with four aircraft but with four WMD attacks?

Now, we've had debate after debate about this but there are three things that are not debateable when it came to this issue in 2001 and all were true before Bush took up residence in the White House: The first is that Iraq was a rogue nation that had a history of making, deploying, and using chemical weapons and that it had failed to comply with numerous UN resolutions. The second is that there were no inspectors in Iraq. The third is that it was the official policy of the United States to remove Saddam Hussein from power and replace his regime with a democratic one. Further, it was US policy that we should pursue "indicting, prosecuting, and imprisoning Saddam Hussein and other Iraqi officials who are responsible for crimes against humanity, genocide, and other criminal violations of international law." Iraq Liberation Act of 1998

In early 2001, Colin Powell reported that Saddam Hussein was contained. By pre-9/11 standards, he was contained. His military was weak, his economy was feeble, and he posed no conventional threat to either the US or his neighbors. However, 9/11 showed us that only a handful of men can kill thousands of Americans. In this new light, Saddam was not contained. The main reason for this was our lack of knowledge of what was going on in Iraq. As it turns out, this lack of knowledge has really hurt us, but not in the way Bush imagined after 9/11.

Bush has said all of what I just said, but he has not done so in a convincing fashion. Perhaps it is impossible to do so in a convincing fashion. Regardless, that is the failure of Bush: not adequately explaining the paradigm changing effects of 9/11.
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Trouble
post Mar 24 2006, 04:30 PM
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QUOTE(niftydrifty @ Mar 23 2006, 09:53 PM)
Is Bush to blame for spreading the widespread misconceptions about a connection between 9/11 and Saddam Hussein?

Bonus non-War-on-Terrorism question:

Is Bush confused about why the weapons inspectors left Iraq before the invasion in March 2003?
*




I agree the president is to blame for the misconceptions. His position dictates that he is ultimately responsible as he has the highest position in politics. Responsibility is never an easy thing and if an opportunity to pass the buck presents itself, George will take the easy road.

And yes I think Bush was confused on who ordered the inspectors out of Iraq. He did. Technically the UN gave the order but a gave a very telling quip,

QUOTE(CNN - Ambassador Mohammed Aldouri)
At the United Nations on Tuesday, Iraq's U.N. ambassador denounced Bush's ultimatum as "illegal, immoral and unjustifiable."

"This is the first time in the history the president of a state ordered the president of another state to leave his own country. It is a mess," Ambassador Mohammed Aldouri said. "We reject totally this madness."


These comments are consistant with Dr. ElBaradei's;

QUOTE
"Late last night ... I was advised by the U.S. government to pull out our inspectors from Baghdad," ElBaradei told the IAEA's board of governors. He said U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the Security Council were informed and that the council would take up the issue later Monday.


To me this says both the UN and IAEA were on the same page that america had ordered the pullout.

Further, former weapons inspector Scott Ritter details the increase in US Air runs in 2002 and the concentration of active forces with Iraq in 2002. His commentary shows that the 48 hour timetable was merely a cover and that the idea of invasion was premeditated.

This post has been edited by Trouble: Mar 24 2006, 06:32 PM
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Yogurt
post Mar 24 2006, 06:59 PM
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QUOTE(Trouble @ Mar 24 2006, 11:30 AM)
Further, former weapons inspector Scott Ritter details the increase in US Air runs in 2002 and the concentration of active forces with Iraq in 2002. His commentary shows that the 48 hour timetable was merely a cover and that the idea of invasion was premeditated.


Is that the same Scott Ritter who also said: "WILLIAM SCOTT RITTER, JR.: Well, basically, is the investigations had come to a standstill were making no effective progress, and in order to make effective progress, we really needed the Security Council to step in in a meaningful fashion and seek to enforce its resolutions that we're not complying with." in August of 1998? PBS

I guess he had some sort of epiphany, or a good book deal, otherwise his 180 degree turnaround doesn't square...
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Ted
post Mar 24 2006, 08:07 PM
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Is Bush to blame for spreading the widespread misconceptions about a connection between 9/11 and Saddam Hussein?

No he is not. On the other hand he pointed out that they are part of the terrorist problem and after 9/11 we correctly assessed that problem differently. If a handful of people could kill thousands of Americans what could that handful do with WMD?



QUOTE
Yoqurt
Is that the same Scott Ritter who also said: "WILLIAM SCOTT RITTER, JR.: Well, basically, is the investigations had come to a standstill were making no effective progress, and in order to make effective progress, we really needed the Security Council to step in in a meaningful fashion and seek to enforce its resolutions that we're not complying with." in August of 1998? PBS
I guess he had some sort of epiphany, or a good book deal, otherwise his 180 degree turnaround doesn't square...


Yes the epiphany was a $400,000 cash deal from an Iraqi “businessman” to make a “documentary” about Iraq. And FYI I have posted more of his statements made before Congress in 1998. he felt Iraq was not contained and one of the most dangerous countries on earth.
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Trouble
post Mar 25 2006, 05:41 AM
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QUOTE(Yogurt @ Mar 24 2006, 06:59 PM)
Is that the same Scott Ritter who also said: "WILLIAM SCOTT RITTER, JR.: Well, basically, is the investigations had come to a standstill were making no effective progress, and in order to make effective progress, we really needed the Security Council to step in in a meaningful fashion and seek to enforce its resolutions that we're not complying with." in August of 1998? PBS 
 
I guess he had some sort of epiphany, or a good book deal, otherwise his 180 degree turnaround doesn't square... 
*
 


What he has clarified in later interviews and this is an important detail, is that 100 percent certainty is very difficult to attain even when full access is given within a country. So the issue shifts from immediate threat to one of transparency. How transparent do you expect a dictator to be and are you going to go to war over what amounts to tardiness?

This detail is crucial in assessing the difference between a real threat and a political threat. So far the only thing Mr. Ahmadinejad is guilty of is hot air. Bring something more tangible to the table where we can link a weapons delivery system to highly enriched uranium(and something more real than the green salt project) and we'll talk. To be the best of my knowledge the only thing Iran has done is end their own voluntary ban on enrichment which was squandered for over 2 1/2 years by Mr. ElBaradei.
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Julian
post Mar 25 2006, 06:46 PM
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Is Bush to blame for spreading the widespread misconceptions about a connection between 9/11 and Saddam Hussein?

Not solely responsible, no. Most of the people who have defended the decision to go to war since it has become more or less obvious that Iraq was not an imminent threat to anyone outside it's borders has used the idea of some link, however tenuous, between Iraq and al-Quaeda it at one time or another.

And in fairness to them, Saddam went to some trouble to keep the outside world thinking his country was stronger and more dangerous than it turned out to be, which complicated things a bit. In February 2003, everybody agreed Iraq had chemical weapons and was a 'rogue state' that needed to be treated at potentially hostile - even the French. What people differed on was the correct way to react to what seemed to be the facts at the time.

It's interesting, though, that Tony Blair is taking a different tack. He isn't still insisting that, had he known then what he knows now, he'd still go to war. (This seems to be Bush's position.) He does say that he stands by his decision as is was made at the time, and (not in so many words, but the essence is) that he has a clear conscience about it, but that's not quite the same thing.

I may be wrong, but "I took the decision I thought was correct at the time, and I stand by the decision now" is subtly different from "I took the right decision". It admits the possibility of error without admitting to have committed one, where Bush's stance doesn't admit either.

But then, Blair never used quite the same justification to go to war, and faced much lower domestic support for it all the way through.

Not for the first time in this conflict, it seems that Bush really ought to learn to do nuance. It leaves one less open to charges of stupidity.
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FargoUT
post Mar 26 2006, 02:48 AM
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QUOTE(Julian @ Mar 25 2006, 11:46 AM)
Is Bush to blame for spreading the widespread misconceptions about a connection between 9/11 and Saddam Hussein?

Not solely responsible, no. Most of the people who have defended the decision to go to war since it has become more or less obvious that Iraq was not an imminent threat to anyone outside it's borders has used the idea of some link, however tenuous, between Iraq and al-Quaeda it at one time or another.

And in fairness to them, Saddam went to some trouble to keep the outside world thinking his country was stronger and more dangerous than it turned out to be, which complicated things a bit. In February 2003, everybody agreed Iraq had chemical weapons and was a 'rogue state' that needed to be treated at potentially hostile - even the French. What people differed on was the correct way to react to what seemed to be the facts at the time.

Uh, I'd like to throw my hat in and say, "I did not agree Iraq had chemical weapons nor was it a rogue state." I realize you mean governments when you say "everyone", but I just want to make this clear. From our prior experiences with Saddam Hussein, it became very clear that his insistence on preventing weapons inspectors was a ploy--he needed to maintain the illusion of owning chemical weapons and WMDs. I believe this was in part to keep the peace in Iraq as well as to maintain power in the world (the illusion of weaponry is enough to get other countries to sit down at the table instead of threatening armed invasion).

President Bush is not entirely to blame for the link of 9/11 to Iraq--like others have said, he has stated that 9/11 altered our foreign policy. However, when saying this and in the next sentence discussing Iraq, the line between the two becomes blurred. It is also partly the fault of the American people who listened to Bush and heard the connection being drawn (even if it was not). I personally believe Bush does think 9/11 and Iraq are related, but I can't specifically point out an instance of him arguing this. When someone questions the President, as Helen Thomas did, his lack of eloquence creates confusion as he stumbles around looking for the right verbage. It's entirely embarrassing for our country, which would explain why he avoids reporters who might question his rationale.
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post Mar 26 2006, 02:40 PM
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[quote=niftydrifty,Mar 23 2006, 04:53 PM]
Is Bush to blame for spreading the widespread misconceptions about a connection between 9/11 and Saddam Hussein?

I think President Bush prefaces his many of his actions in the post-9/11 landscape by framing it that way. It is important to remember that the geography changed in more than New York on that day. The old paradigms no longer apply, and to look at the world in pre-9/11 lenses is to deceive oneself. So I think he frames it that way to remind us of the geo-political landscape, because we have tendency to forget.

I live under the flight paths NW from BWI and Washington. If flight 93 had stayed in the air a few more minutes, it could have easily landed on my house. For weeks afterward whenever I heard a jet overhead I looked up. I too have gotten complacent and look skywards no more. Yes, we need to be reminded...

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post Mar 27 2006, 02:12 PM
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QUOTE(Trouble)
So far the only thing Mr. Ahmadinejad is guilty of is hot air. Bring something more tangible to the table where we can link a weapons delivery system to highly enriched uranium(and something more real than the green salt project) and we'll talk. To be the best of my knowledge the only thing Iran has done is end their own voluntary ban on enrichment which was squandered for over 2 1/2 years by Mr. ElBaradei.


Who are you are speaking for? You alone? Because it seems to be the opposing view of the international community. I hadn't thought that Iran's violations were questionable or still in disagreement, the IAEA, the UN nuclear watchdog, has an entirely different opinion. Why is the opinion or recommendation of the IAEA report not tangible enough? Also Mr. ElBaradei has his own ideas about squandering opportunities...

The UN Security Council has too often failed to act swiftly and effectively to contain international crises and needs reforming, the head of the UN nuclear watchdog said on Saturday.

"Too often, the Security Council's engagement is inadequate, selective or after the fact," said Mohamed ElBaradei, last year's Nobel Peace Prize winner.

"The tragedies of recent years in Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Darfur are cases in point,"

source
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Trouble
post Mar 27 2006, 05:31 PM
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QUOTE(Bucket)
Who are you are speaking for? You alone? Because it seems to be the opposing view of the international community. I hadn't thought that Iran's violations were questionable or still in disagreement, the IAEA, the UN nuclear watchdog, has an entirely different opinion. Why is the opinion or recommendation of the IAEA report not tangible enough? Also Mr. ElBaradei has his own ideas about squandering opportunities...

The UN Security Council has too often failed to act swiftly and effectively to contain international crises and needs reforming, the head of the UN nuclear watchdog said on Saturday.

"Too often, the Security Council's engagement is inadequate, selective or after the fact," said Mohamed ElBaradei, last year's Nobel Peace Prize winner.

"The tragedies of recent years in Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Darfur are cases in point,"



The issue with the international community is 100% convinced of transparency has not been reached with regards to enrichment. During this time Iran had suspended their enrichment.

To quell this dispute, last year Iran made the offer to:
QUOTE
· Foregoing reprocessing of spent fuel and recovery of plutonium;
· A low ceiling on the level of enrichment;
· A limitation on the capacity of the enrichment program to that needed to meet the contingency fuel requirements of Iran's power reactors;
· Immediate conversion of all enriched Uranium to fuel rods to preclude even the technical possibility of further enrichment;


Iran offered to allow continuous on-site presence of IAEA inspectors at uranium conversion and enrichment facilities to provide unprecedented transparency, above and beyond even that required under the Additional Protocol.

For four months Iran waited for a response. None came. After which Iran decided to break its ban on voluntary enrichment. The response was swift, ‘reinstate the ban or else’ from the EU3.

The issue was brought back to the table by Mr Bolton. Note issues of transparency are not for the security council to decide. The Safeguard Agreement handles that responsibility.

Note that Mr. Bolton (the person campaigning action from the security council) is now in the council, and the political undertones become evident. Such agendas have been presented to the people, namely in the form of the National Security Strategy.

Tell me how can the security council “take action” when no law has been broken? What evidence will they have to deliberate on?

The problem we are addressing is that the security council is being used as a political tool. When such a tactic is used it impedes credibility and discourages participation.

This is what Mr. Elbaradei is referring to in your link of ‘inadequate or selective.’

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post Mar 27 2006, 05:47 PM
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Is Bush to blame for spreading the widespread misconceptions about a connection between 9/11 and Saddam Hussein?

Of course he is. Since September 12, 2001, the Bush administration's sole objective was to create enough of a link between the September 11 attacks and Hussein to justify an invasion of Iraq. Obviously, the president did not do this alone - he had loads of help from others within the administration, notably Donald Rumsfeld and, especially, Vice President Cheney.

Is Bush confused about why the weapons inspectors left Iraq before the invasion in March 2003?

This is actually the more interesting question. I seriously doubt that the president himself is confused, but he is certainly trying to sow confusion (or, more accurately, misinformation) about the weapons inspectors. As recently as the press conference in question, he reiterated the lie that Hussein "chose to deny inspectors" and the lie that Hussein "chose not to disclose". Saddam Hussein did not "deny inspectors", the Bush administration did. The weapons inspectors were in Iraq right up until they had to evacuate in order for the White House to start carpet bombing Baghdad, destroying the infrastructure that we have yet to replace. Saddam Hussein did not fail to disclose information about WMD, he submitted 12,000 pages worth of documentation about his (lack of) weapons programs - which, unlike every single allegation made by the Bush administration, have proved to be quite true.

I'm not at all surprised that the Bush administration continues to lie and lie and lie and lie, but I am sorely disappointed that our "liberal media" has yet to call them on these repeated lies - and seems to accept them as readily as the most partisan dupes in the country do.

This post has been edited by Wertz: Mar 27 2006, 07:53 PM
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Fife and Drum
post Mar 29 2006, 03:33 PM
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QUOTE(AMLord)
Bush has never linked Saddam to 9/11 to my knowledge.

I’ve posted this several times and once again from the pre Iraq invasion State of the Union:

QUOTE(George W Bush in front of the entire country)
Before September the 11th, many in the world believed that Saddam Hussein could be contained.

And again I’ll say this is THE single most disingenuous and despicable statement uttered by a president in my life time. Apart from playing on the emotions of a still numb country, nothing happened on 9/11 that “suddenly” made Saddam more of a threat than he was on 9/10.

QUOTE(AMLord)
However, 9/11 showed us that only a handful of men can kill thousands of Americans. In this new light, Saddam was not contained.

This is the critical failure in yours and the president’s line of reasoning. A handful of mostly Saudi men pulls off an atrocious and cowardly attack planned by a person in Afghanistan and suddenly Iraq is a threat. Please show the proof that Saddam was planning an attack on the U.S, please show how the attacks of 9/11 “suddenly” made Saddam “less containable” other than you say so.

Using yours and the president’s logic, since the only invasion worthy qualifications appears to be WMD (real or imagined), a bad guy in charge, and some radical Muslims than we better get busy because there are a dozen other countries that qualify. Some have made explicit threats against the United States which were never made by Saddam and yet they’re getting a “Get of Invasion Free” card.

There is a very real likelihood that Saddam was more worried about his neighbors than planning an attack on the Yankee infidels.
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post Mar 31 2006, 01:09 AM
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Trouble our debate on Iran is really off topic and should probably be taken elsewhere. I will say tho. that enrichment issue is separate to the NPT as it was an additional protocol or agreement that Iran made, not as selflessly as you would wish us to all believe. All of her agreements and conditions have been accepted and offered with economic incentives.

The IAEA claiming that Iran is in violation or not fully cooperating has to do with or is reliant on several issues that have gone unresolved for quite some time now, is verification not an important aspect of agreements and proposals?

Also I think Mr. Elbaradei's comments are not singling out American interests or pursuits in the UN at all..why would he use Darfur as an example of his belief that " engagement is inadequate, selective or after the fact" if he was? Seems what the US desired politically in the UN regarding Darfur is not to be achieved based on other nation's selective interests and inadequate desires for action.

This post has been edited by bucket: Mar 31 2006, 01:10 AM
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Jaime
post Mar 31 2006, 12:27 PM
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