19 October 2004

Honorable?

For readers' convenience, I've created an index of the Kevin letters so you can see the full progress of the dialogue
Kevin:

Thanks for dropping in again and responding to my discussion of Kerry's "global test", which was among the things about Kerry that you found disconcerting in your comments responding to my open letter to you. Though I'm slow to respond in kind, I'm hopeful that you'll drop by and continue the dialogue --- I think that we are agreed that neither one of us is going to convince the other, but for myself at least I've come away with a better understanding of your perspective.

I'd like to return again to our mutual puzzlement.

In your reply to my post, you suggested that when the administration said things in the run-up to the Iraq war that were spectacularly untrue, it was because of an intelligence failure rather than out of deceit.

if there was faulty intelligence it was years in the making, hardly something to blame on the President .... I don't believe we lied

You said this in response to a general assertion on my part that the US did not justify the invasion of Iraq well either to the world, or to our own citizens. I supported that assertion with the specific example of a recent article about Colin Powell's UN testimony. The article quotes some of Powell's aides who claim they told the Secretary that the evidence he was going to present was shaky at best. In hindsight, we see that Iraq had no nuclear program, and Powell was wrong. Did he have bad information, or was he lying? If his aides quoted in the article are telling the truth, then Powell had good information but lied.

You evidently conclude that he aides must be lying. You say, "I personally have met Secretary Powell, and he is an honorable man, I believe that he told the truth. It does make me wonder why you would believe he didn't?"

That's a fair question. I have two reasons for doubting Powell.

First, he changed his tune. On 24 February 2001 he said, "He [Saddam Hussein] has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors." (CBS News) Either Powell started lying later, in support of administration policy, or our intelligence got much worse after Bush took office.

Second, the whole administration lies a lot. I have come to this conclusion by reading liberal commentators, yes, but it was an argument I was hesitant to accept. Bad policy, yes --- I confess that I'm a liberal, and thus I'm inclined to start by presuming that any policy proposal from Republicans is going to be bad. But deceit? I was brought around to that conclusion very slowly. I posted a while ago about the example that completely convinced me that the President is a liar.

Bush explained his decision to invade Iraq, in a joint press conference with Kofi Annan, saying, "We gave him [Saddam Hussein] a chance to allow the inspectors in, and he wouldn't let them in." Hans Blix's UN team entered Iraq to begin a series of weapons inspections on 18 November 2002; Bush made this statement 14 July 2003.

So I have, at the very least, one example of the President telling a bald-faced, absurd lie. That makes me willing to accept other examples of his deceit as being credible. That makes me willing to believe that when people in his administration say things that aren't true, they are lying rather than mistaken.

I've seen no such evidence about Kerry.

You, on the other hand, have formed the reverse impression. Bush and his administration are "honorable," while you say, "My puzzlement comes when I see apparently intelligent, well educated people who can't see beyond the facade that the Kerry/Edwards ticket has put up."

So my puzzlement --- my question to you --- is this: How did you conclude that Bush is honorable and Kerry is not? How did you determine that Kerry's campaign is a "facade"? How did you conclude that the Bush administration is honorable? Where did those fundamental conclusions come from?

4 comments:

Kevin said...

Jonathan,

Thanks for leaving a message on my blog, I'm glad that we can agree on some things. I'm also glad that we can disagree, because for a moment there I thought that I was slipping into the dark side.

You know, Saddam Hussein played a very bad hand or a very good hand of poker with his lack of weapons of mass destruction. I was convinced as was everyone who I know, that he had those weapons. I also know that in reading the Dilfer report that very likely the material that we are looking for is in Syria. The bottom line is that although Hans Blix and his inspectors were in Iraq, they were not allowed access to the sites they needed to be in. They entire process was a series of smoke and mirror moves by the Iraqis. So they were in, but not IN.

Like being a busboy at the country club. You are in the club, but not IN the club.


Having worked in the State Department I would not give much credit to Secretay Powell's aids. Generally, personnel who work in the State Department are predisposed to be against military action. Their livelihood and budget depends upon it. So when they say, "I knew it all along," I can't give it much weight.

I deal with people who tell untruths and misleading statements pretty much on a daily bases. There are tell-tell signs when people are giving you the business. First of all, they are not forthcoming with information. Senator Kerry says he has a plan, he has presented no plan. Second, they use a lot of facts and figures to obscure the truth, sort of dazzle with bullshit, Senator Kerry has more facts and figures that NASA. And lastly they are supported by people who do not tell the truth. Micheal Moore, his movie is very misleading and an unfair portrait to all of us veterans. All supported by the Democrats, as evidenced by the attendees list of the premiere.

I don't believe that Senator Kerry can do a better job, and I have doubts about his "Secret Plan." I also have doubts that government is truly the best answer for all the issues we face today. I believe ther needs to be a level of personal responsibilty.

Thanks,
Kev

Mike Sugarbaker said...

Jonathan, you write, "Did he have bad information, or was he lying? If his aides quoted in the article are telling the truth, then Powell had good information but lied."

There's a third possibility: that Powell knew the intel was shaky, but also knew there was a chance it was good, and decided to gamble. I'm not sure whether that's comforting compared to an all-out lie, but hey.

As far as the two of you understanding each other's positions, have you read the Lakoff book yet?

Anonymous said...

I was convinced as was everyone who I know, that he had those weapons.Scott Ritter, who headed the inspections in the '90s, said a full year before the war that Hussein didn't have the weapons. And in 2001, Colin Powell said, "He has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbours."

You believed the weapons were there because Bush told you they were when he decided he was going to invade. Fair enough; you didn't have access to the intelligence. But they did, and Powell's statement from two years prior shows they knew better.

The bottom line is that although Hans Blix and his inspectors were in Iraq, they were not allowed access to the sites they needed to be in.Care to back that bottom line up with a citation? I'll start. From Blix's report in January 2003: "Iraq has on the whole cooperated rather well so far with UNMOVIC in this field.  The most important point to make is that access has been provided to all sites we have wanted to inspect and with one exception it has been prompt. We have further had great help in building up the infrastructure of our office in Baghdad and the field office in Mosul.  Arrangements and services for our plane and our helicopters have been good.  The environment has been workable. Our inspections have included universities, military bases, presidential sites and private residences.  Inspections have also taken place on Fridays, the Muslim day of rest, on Christmas day and New Years day.  These inspections have been conducted in the same manner as all other inspections."

I think we need to find a different bottom line.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, that was me.

-apostropher