Patterico's Pontifications


The 18½ Minute Gap

Filed under: International,Terrorism,War — Dafydd @ 6:07 pm

If you enjoy arguing with Democrats about the validity of the Iraq War (do you also like to dart in front of a bull wearing long, red, flannel underwear?), you will discover that every such discussion always ends the same way: because we didn’t find pyramids of carefully labeled nuclear missiles from the Acme WMD Warehouse, the whole war was a “complete fraud”… we had “no reason at all” for going into Iraq; consequently, the exercise was utterly “futile” and a “miserable failure.”

(And how did that bull get into red, flannel underwear in the first place?)

It does little good to point out what nobody now denies: that Hussein had many ongoing programs to develop such chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons; they just weren’t as advanced as we were afraid they were. Given how little intelligence we had about that secretive country, the choice was to trust in Saddam Hussein’s restraint and good judgment, or trust in the United States military. “You should have just waited a few more months,” the lib invariably intones; “maybe a year. Then we would have known for sure.”

In other words, they wanted us to wait until two minutes to midnight. Then we could have moved… unless it turned out our watch was slow.

But now we know that it was not just on WMD that the clock was ticking. As Claudia Rosett, George Russell, and others pointed out, the oil-for-fraud program was already starting to produce the nightmare scenario of terrorist groups with their own revenue streams, independent of individual donors and fundraisers. Articles written for Fox News and National Review Online revealed that at least one company linked to al-Qaeda was already involved in kickback schemes to make millions in profits from the U.N. program — money that would be directly available to fund al-Qaeda operations, now that Osama bin Laden’s personal fortune is long since spent. And it was not just al-Qaeda; several other terrorist organizations also wound up with oil leases, right under the noses of Benon Sevan, Executive Director of the Iraq Programme (Oil for Food), Secretary-General Kofi Annan, and his spawn-of-the-devil Kojo (or is that Cujo?)

Had we waited just a few more months — waited until two minutes before midnight — even more high officials in Security-Council governments would have been corrupted; it’s entirely possible that, in the end, even Britain would have bowed to international pressure and pulled out of the Operation Iraqi Freedom. Would we still have gone to war, then? I don’t think anyone can really say for sure.

So the Left is actually right, for a change: we miserably failed to wait until two minutes to midnight to strike against the tyrant. We struck at twenty till, instead. Maybe even twenty and a half minutes before the witching hour.

Which would make it the second time in history that an 18½ minute gap saved the presidency… and this time, possibly the entire Global War on Terrorism as well.

18 Responses to “The 18½ Minute Gap”

  1. What a great FANTABULOUS post. 2nd time indeed

    GM Roper (68d199)

  2. Actually, the 18 1/2 minute gap in the Nixon tapes did not save his presidency — everyone took it as dispositive of the intentional distruction of critical evidence.

    jd watson (6757c3)

  3. Excellent post indeed. I’ve won a few arguments merely by asking why Saddam had that dude bury the (uranium enriching, non-dual-use) nuclear centrifuge in his rose garden.

    Given recent events it looks like part of his grand strategy was to turn world opinion against both the sanctions, and then the inspections, and then resume his production. He would have gotten away with it, too, if weren’t for that meddling Dubya!

    See Dubya (ec35ba)

  4. Don’t forget the weapons of mass destruction related program activities.

    Listen to the words.

    actus (3be069)

  5. What truly amazes me about the liberals point about “lying” concerning Iraq’s weapsons of mass destruction is that the democrats including President Clinton and the French looking Senator Kerry signed on to a resolution requiring the removal of Saddam in 1998 based on Iraq’s wmd’s. If President Bush was lying about wmd’s then so were most of the liberals in 1998. Could the liberals make a less persuasive argument to dicredit bush and the Iraq war? I doubt it. Kind of makes you think that crafty Rove guy was and is typing the liberals talking points.

    john (61d076)

  6. Saddam Hussein’s plan of saying “maybe we have nuclear weapons, maybe we don’t” was obnoxious. No one can prove that his nuclear technology was not transferred to Syria the same way Hussein’s air force was saved by being flown to Iran in the 1991 war.

    The enduring CNN/NY-Times storyline of blaming the victim, the United States, is discusting.

    Ladainian (91b3b2)

  7. It appears to me that the left keeps screaming about the so-called lies of George Bush as a reaction to the accusations against Bill Clinton.
    The left wants to get back at the right, they saw how effective the charge of lying was against Bill Clinton, and they think they’ve got George Bush with the same problem.
    The left is so blind they can’t see the difference between these two men. Bill Clinton really was a liar.
    But then the left is always good at seeing moral equivalence where there is none.

    Boman (bbca7f)

  8. “No one can prove that his nuclear technology was not transferred to Syria the same way Hussein’s air force was saved by being flown to Iran in the 1991 war.”

    Isn’t it different since we saw the planes leave?

    actus (3be069)

  9. I blogged ten days into the war that either the CIA had the wrong targets–as they did in Yugoslavia with the Chinese Embassy—or there were no WMDs. I made this observation because had the CIA been right, we’d have taken the WMD sites down on the first day of bombing. Did Bush lie? Obviously not. But he relied on the already proven incompetence of the CIA to launch a war. I agree with all the stuff about Saddam and terror cells and so on, I’m politically aware—too much so—and I thought the war was launched because of the imminent threat of WMDs. Would Americans have supported a war where a few thousand GIs would be killed on the esoteric excuses now being offered? Hell no. Taking the war out of the equasion, is Bush one of the worst presidents ever, or not?

    Howard Veit (baba22)

  10. The problem here is that people don’t quite know how to define WMD, and that really doesn’t help things. Last I’ve checked, we found weaponized Sarin, Mustard gas, Aflatoxin, and some other really nasty biological diseases that shouldn’t have been in the country, nevermind hidden in weapon caches or the homes of weapons researchers.
    We’ve found missles and planes that it wouldn’t be particularly hard to wedge a vial into. But it is significant what waiting would have caused.

    Taking the war out of the equasion, is Bush one of the worst presidents ever, or not?
    Comment by Howard Veit

    Not really. If you take the war in Iraq out of the picture, you’ve a pretty generic president – other than his ethical reluctance involving stem cell research, he doesn’t have that much behind him to be controversial.
    The worst thing you can throw at him would be a recession economy, but that’s far from making him the worst president ever, particularly since you don’t see many well-known economists saying his actions made the recession worse, unlike what the New Deal may have.
    Not particularly great, not particularly bad, so there could be much worse.

    blueeyes (85e0cf)

  11. “Given how little intelligence we had about that secretive country, the choice was to trust in Saddam Hussein’s restraint and good judgment, or trust in the United States military.”

    Wait, the reason why we trusted our military is because we had little intelligence?

    Agnoiologist (aea1f9)

  12. Hey, Blue Eyes, if you lived in the Southwest where illegals have literally taken over, are sacking us for welfare, free medical care, 20,000 of them in jail so we can feed them, you would know that we have been invaded. The Roman Empire collapsed in part because the Romans could not keep out the Goths and the rest. Bush is going to go down as the guy who destroyed our culture, because this now thirty million horde is Mexican, they hate us, and their loyalty is to Mexico City, not Washington D.C. Oh yeah, have you heard of MS-13?

    Howard Veit (baba22)

  13. Taking the war out of the equasion, is Bush one of the worst presidents ever, or not?

    He don’t come close to Clinton or Carter.

    Gerald A (add20f)

  14. Interestingly enough, I was born in the southwest, New Mexico area, oddly enough. Interestingly, if I talk with the people there, there’s as much complaints about the overzealous INS than there are about illegal immigrants.
    I happen to know a fairly good chinese buffet place that was shut down for a week because the INS thought two of the cooks were illegals – despite having their green cards available.
    Drug abuse, admittedly tied to illegal immigration, is much more of a significant problem, and the solution to that isn’t related to a bigger fence along our border; drug abuse, particularly the 14-26 year old starters that you’re seeing in that area, can only be solved by giving kids something to do other than get high.

    The Roman Empire collapsed because of lead piping, moral and religious problems in the troops, and slave labor. The former screwed up the people’s minds, the second screwed up their defenses, and the third completely fucked their economy and (due to the resulting increase in un-employment) had crime skyrocket.
    Goths weren’t the cause of Rome’s fall. They just were lucky enough to burn some of the buildings down.

    And, as far as I’ve noticed, George Bush’s immigration plan has been commented as “not forgiving enough” by Howard Dean, John Kerry, Al Gore, and half the other loonies still trying to keep in the media. Not great – a good plan would have them spitting blood – but far from bad.

    If you want a bad President, and can take the Iraq war out of George Bush’s career, well, almost any wartime president works.

    FDR : may have had forwarning of the attack on Pearl Harbor, attempting to alter the size of the Supreme Court to fit his bidding, and interned about 130,000 people, forcing another 900,000 to carry identification papers and seizing their property… in a war against Hitler.

    Clinton : Took out a tent and a camel starting a war the day some personal news was going to go on national TV. And weren’t more people killed by NATO bombs than by Milosevic in Kosovo? Oh, and how’s Bosnia doing?

    Even the famous good-guys in the past had nasty wartime actions. Lincoln and a close circle of friends benefited financially from a system of trade (allowed by Lincoln himself) with the Confederate army, which lengthened the war’s course significantly. He also arrested all the Supreme Court justices after suspending the writ of habeus corpus.

    blueeyes (85e0cf)

  15. I’m politically aware—too much so—and I thought the war was launched because of the imminent threat of WMDs.

    Which is so funny, given that Pres. Bush explicitly said that the threat from Iraq was not imminent. I can’t blame anyone who came away from news coverage with the “imminent danger” thing in mind; it’s been repeated enough to have taken on a life of its own long ago. But it is a lie – a real lie, a purposeful lie, in contrast to the overestimation of Saddam Hussein’s capabilities made by everybody and his dog ranging years into the past but pinned on Bush as a “lie.”

    Jamie (7e89f3)

  16. Mahmoud, Son of Xerxes

    While listening to all the huffing and puffing Iran has been doing lately, how they’re going to drive us into the sea if we attack them, a thought just occurred me. One of the reasons we were so certain that…

    Big Lizards (fe7c9d)

  17. Hi, I’m new here, but I find this post very interesting! I’m definitely going to bookmark this site! I look forward to contributing.
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    Brian (78a2ac)

  18. All anti-war people should hear from HIM Yao Sui, who was the negotiator during 1990-91. He negotiated a permanent end to the Iraq War. This was something that the newsmedia has never published!

    HIM Yao Sui (14fe8e)

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