March 6, 2006

Jack Reed's I-Told-Ya-So, Part 2

Carroll Andrew Morse

In his Stephen Ogden International Affairs Lecture at Brown University, Senator Jack Reed repeated the now-standard Democratic line that there is no connection between the War in Iraq and the War on Terror…

[T]he Bush Administration faced a significant strategic choice. The first option was to focus on the Long War, which I define as the generational struggle against terrorism, using all of our power, not just our military power. A focus on the Long War would have required completing the stabilization of Afghanistan and concentrating overwhelming resources on the destruction of Al Qaeda and its associated elements worldwide while strengthening states like Pakistan so that they could root out these groups. The other option facing the Administration was to return to their pre-9/11 agenda of regime change in Iraq, first outlined in a letter sent to President Clinton in January 1998 by Secretary Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and other prominent neoconservatives.
Senator Reed omits the fact that regime change was more than an idea mentioned in a single letter. Regime change in Iraq was a policy that the Senator himself voted in favor of and became the official policy of the United States government. This is from the text of the Iraqi Liberation Act of 1998, signed by President Bill Clinton (after unanimous passage by the Senate) on October 31, 1998...
It should be the policy of the United States to support efforts to remove the regime headed by Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq and to promote the emergence of a democratic government to replace that regime.

In the fall of 2002, President Bush defined regime change. Contrary to how it is remembered now, regime change didn’t necessarily involve a military invasion, or even bringing democracy immediately to Iraq. In September of 2002, the President spoke before the United Nations General Assembly spelling out five conditions that Iraq had to meet to comply with the Security Council resolutions that were in effect. Those conditions were…

  • "Immediately and unconditionally forswear, disclose, and remove or destroy all weapons of mass destruction, long-range missiles, and all related material."
  • "Immediately end all support for terrorism and act to suppress it, as all states are required to do by U.N. Security Council resolutions."
  • "Cease persecution of its civilian population, including Shi'a, Sunnis, Kurds, Turkomans, and others, again as required by Security Council resolutions.”
  • "Release or account for all Gulf War personnel whose fate is still unknown....return the remains of any who are deceased, return stolen property, accept liability for losses resulting from the invasion of Kuwait, and fully cooperate with international efforts to resolve these issues, as required by Security Council resolutions."
  • "Immediately end all illicit trade outside the oil-for-food program. It will accept U.N. administration of funds from that program, to ensure that the money is used fairly and promptly for the benefit of the Iraqi people."
The next month, in an address to the nation, the President stated that these steps -- by themselves -- constituted regime change. He gave an abbreviated version of the 5 steps, then added…
By taking these steps, and by only taking these steps, the Iraqi regime has an opportunity to avoid conflict. Taking these steps would also change the nature of the Iraqi regime itself.
This was the backdrop of the October 2002 vote to authorize the use of force against Iraq. Yet Senator Reed would not vote to authorize the use of force to pursue these publicly stated goals. Here is what the Senator said in Friday's lecture about his vote...
[W]hen we first debated the resolution to authorize force against Iraq, a resolution I opposed. At that time, I said:

…looking at Iraqi capabilities alone, the threat is not immediate. If unchecked, the threat is inevitable and dangerous. But, at this time, we have the opportunity to pursue a collective solution to Iraq. This is an approach that offers a greater chance of success and a greater chance of long-term stability.

The Administration rested its case on the claim that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction and was in close collaboration with terrorists.

In this statement, the Senator has again played fast and loose with the facts, ignoring the detailed reasons that the President gave for action against Iraq and referring to WMD as if they were the only item ever mentioned.

In the abstract, Senator Reed likes the idea of international community handling crises. In the abstract, he liked the idea of regime change in Iraq. Yet when the time came, he would not vote to give the President the authority to act in support of these ideals. How is this explained?

The answer lies in another part of the Senator Reed's speech, where the Senator stakes out an unmistakably blame-America-first position to explain two of the biggest foreign policy problems (after Iraq) facing America…

It is a stunning example of unintended consequences that the Bush Administration’s policies have enhanced the position of Iran. And this turn of events undoubtedly has emboldened Iran to continue to pursue its nuclear ambitions, which threaten the region, Israel and the global non-proliferation regime. Iran must not be allowed to have the capacity to create nuclear material. The international community must work to eliminate their nuclear aspirations.

As Iraq and the Middle East have consumed so much of our attention and concern, other dangers continue to fester. The North Koreans have abandoned any pretense of arms control and represent a continuing threat in the North Pacific. In addition, the North Koreans are constant proliferators – willing to sell anything to anyone.

In Senator Reed's analysis, nuclear programs in Iran and North Korea would not now pose a threat if the United States had not led the liberation of Iraq. Senator Reed leans towards the view that intrinsically hostile leadership of other nations is not a key driver of foreign affairs. Instead, actions and intentions of other nations are shaped primarily in response to the actions of the United States.

One of the many the problems with this view of events is that it leads to a foreign policy of constant retreat. If you believe that other nations are motivated mostly by a fear of America, you end up repeatedly calling for America to walk away from any confrontation. If a dictator resists opening up his country for internationally sanctioned inspections, you say that America has to ask more patiently and more nicely for inspections. If foreign powers fund an insurgency in a region when where your troops are stationed, you say America has to withdraw its troops so they won’t be a target. The hope is that removing a destabilizing American presence will calm affairs down.

But if dictators and fanatics know that the United States will retreat wherever they are pushed, then the dictators and fanatics will keep pushing. Rewarding aggressive behavior through a policy of never-ending retreat is what emboldens militant behavior, not what deters it.

Comments, although monitored, are not necessarily representative of the views Anchor Rising's contributors or approved by them. We reserve the right to delete or modify comments for any reason.

Trenchant commentary here!

Posted by: bountyhunter at March 6, 2006 2:52 PM

Please get someone to rattle the realigus mullars in Iraq to tell the bombers that If they kill their fellow moslems with bombs they will go toHELL NOT HEAVEN !! and this should stop the sucide bombing

Posted by: Joe Eddy at March 21, 2006 11:09 AM

Please get someone to rattle the realigus mullars in Iraq to tell the bombers that If they kill their fellow moslems with bombs they will go toHELL NOT HEAVEN !! and this should stop the sucide bombing

Posted by: Joe Eddy at March 21, 2006 11:09 AM