catapult magazine

catapult magazine


A liberal opinion on the war in Iraq


Jan 28 2004
10:04 am

Gideon Strauss ( linked to this great article today. You should read it:


Jan 30 2004
08:45 am

that’s what i’m talking about, jason.

“A U.S. presidential directive from the 1970s banned the assassination of foreign leaders, but the Bush Administration appeared to waive the ban when it made clear that Iraq’s Saddam Hussein was to be considered a target before last year’s invasion.

Castro is not a coward like Saddam either. He really would go down fighting.


Jan 30 2004
09:49 am

On the matter of WMD versus the war just being about oil: taken from a column by Mona Charen.

Everyone – the Democrats, the French, the Republicans, the Clinton administration, the Russians, the United Nations Security Council – believed that Saddam had stockpiles of WMDs. It wasn’t disputed by anyone. Here is a small sample of quotations from leading Democrats on the matter:

“If Saddam rejects peace and we have to use force, our purpose is clear. We want to seriously diminish the threat posed by Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction.” — President Bill Clinton, Feb. 4, 1998.

“He will use those weapons of mass destruction again, as he has 10 times since 1983.” — Sandy Berger, national security adviser to President Clinton, Feb. 18, 1998.

“We urge you, after consulting with Congress, and consistent with the U.S. Constitution and laws, to take necessary actions (including, if appropriate, air and missile strikes on suspect Iraqi sites) to respond effectively to the threat posed by Iraq’s refusal to end its weapons of mass destruction program.” — Letter to President Clinton, signed by Sens. Carl Levin, Tom Daschle, John Kerry and others, Oct. 9, 1998.

“Saddam Hussein has been engaged in the development of weapons of mass destruction technology which is a threat to countries in the region and he has made a mockery of the weapons inspection process.” — Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Dec. 16, 1998.

“We have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is seeking and developing weapons of mass destruction.” — Sen. Ted Kennedy, Sept. 27, 2002.

“I will be voting to give the President of the United States the authority to use force — if necessary — to disarm Saddam Hussein because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a real and grave threat to our security.” — Sen. John F. Kerry, Oct. 9, 2002.

Two more points. I find much to criticize in the CIA, but it’s too easy to make the agency the fall guy for what is, let’s be honest, a truly weird development. Saddam used WMDs on Iran and the Kurds; he threatened to incinerate Israel with chemical weapons; he chased the U.N. inspectors out of his country; he refused to provide proof that he had destroyed the weapons he once had, though providing such proof would have staved off an invasion that spelled the end of his reign. The whole thing is so improbable that it cries out for alternative explanations. Perhaps he has secretly shipped the weapons to Syria or the Bekaa Valley. Perhaps he really believed that the weapons existed but his underlings were lying to him.

In any case, we know that our intelligence services have become risk averse and overly dependent on “national technical means” — i.e., satellites, phone intercepts and other listening devices. But nothing in the spy world can replace human beings. One lesson of this episode is that we’d better rush to train Arabic, Farsi and Urdu-speaking officers.

But it is purest cant to suggest that President Bush misled anyone. Kay took pains to note that Saddam’s regime was continuing to pursue nuclear and other weapons. It was only a matter of time, he estimated, before nuclear material and corrupt nuclear scientists met and shook hands on a deal. And that was one of the chief reasons President Bush thought it prudent to act now and not wait. It is those who opposed the war, not those who supported it, who have a lot to answer for.


Jan 31 2004
09:43 am

So let me get this straight:
We’re making excuses for the most sophisticated intelligence agency in the world, which has a file on you if you’ve ever bounced a check or watched Wile E. Coyote try to blow up the roadrunner on cartoon central? If you’re going to justify the kind of killing that’s gone on, you’d damned well better be right about the reason you’re going in. How many wars are we going to fight on a hunch? Even if it was a “truly weird development,” I don’t care! There’s no margin for error here! And there have just been too many little details like this—which people like Ms. Charen seem to want to sweep under the rug—for me to believe the war was legitimate.

To me the real issue is still the fact that the U.S. superseded the will of the U.N. and now that it turns out the U.N. was closer to the truth, the doubts of the naysayers have been substantiated. There’s room for any number of theories on why the U.S. was so eager to get in there. Even if oil was only one of many reasons for the invasion (which I believe to be true), the administration has to be held accountable for the needless deaths.


Feb 02 2004
02:38 am

out of curiousity how much is being said in the u.s. news chanels about the hutton report? do you know from any source what the hutton report is? the investigation into the causes behind dr. kelly killing himself? how much trouble and turmoil the bbc is in at the moment? the “vindication” of blair’s government? just curious because everytime the news goes on over here (u.k.) there is nothing but the hutton report, another head of the bbc resigning, or the triumphant exultation of blair and his ministers about the “rightness” of their actions and the september dossier?


Feb 02 2004
08:38 am

What’s “U.K.”?

Just kidding. I get most of my news from NPR, so I guess that’s not a fair representation of what kind of reporting is going on at CNN, Fox, CNBC, etc. But yes, I’ve heard a lot about it. I still don’t know enough to have any sort of well-formed opinion, however.


Feb 03 2004
07:12 am

Maybe we are just bound to repeat ourselves here. Let me repeat a previous point I was trying to make about the U.S. attacking Iraq. Eventhough I take issue with many of the motivations and assumptions the Bush administration was operating on when it attacked Iraq, we must not confuse the issue by saying that the Bush administration attacked Iraq willy-nilly, merely on a hunch, a whim etc. and that therefore it would do the same to any other country in the world. I believe many in the administration sincerely justified military action in Iraq based on Hussein’s violation of the U.N. mandate—though it was unfortunately the WMD argument that led the charge. It was the U.N.‘s responsibility to deal with Iraq’s willful disobedience, to find some adequate response to Hussein’s resistance. When many nations in the U.N. decided finally to “stand up” to the U.S., the Bush administration felt like the U.N. no longer had any teeth to make nations obey its mandates.