Critiquing A Critique Of The Iraq War Critiques

When Cynicism Meets Fanaticism: Critiquing The Critique Of The War In Iraq by Victor Davis Hanson

I just bumped into a blog post where Hanson of the Hoover Institution takes the war critiques to task. He summarizes the main points of the critiques and then proceeds to demolish them. These are the eight empty vessel arguments of the anti-war people, he claims:
1. Saddam was never connected to al Qaeda, the perpetrators of 9/11.
2. There was no real threat of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.
3. The United Nations and our allies were justifiably opposed on principle to the invasion.

4. A small cabal of neoconservative (and mostly Jewish) intellectuals bullied the administration into a war that served Israel’s interest more than our own.

5. Saddam could not be easily deposed, or at least he could not be successfully replaced with a democratic government.
6. The architects of this war and the subsequent occupation are mostly inept (“dangerously incompetent”) — and are exposed daily as clueless by a professional cadre of disinterested journalists.

7. In realist terms, the benefits to be gained from the war will never justify the costs incurred.

8. We cannot win.
Then he offers his counter arguments. They can be summarized as follows:
    1. Saddam might not have behind 9/11, but he was connected to Al Qaeda, like Germany and Japan, so different from each other otherwise, were part of an alliance.
    2. The WMD worries were real. It does not matter that they were not found, but more than one intelligence agency, including Iraq's own, claimed they were there. They were not there, but Iraq could quickly have produced them: Saddam had the resources and the intent.
    3. The UN opposition to the war lacks ground since the UN was embroiled in the food for oil corruption scandal. Europe also had business interests in Iraq. So they too had little moral ground from which to speak.
    4. Some say it was Israeli security that was the number one reason. But Bush, Cheney, Rumsfelf, Rice, Powell, none of them are Jewish, and our ambassador in Iraq and a top Commander are both Arab.
    5. Instead of a quick victory, things could have started much uglier. And the sacrifice has been worth it for the tens of millions that have now voted there.
    6. There has not been another 9/11. The Arab world is witnessing a democracy tsunami across the region. Europe is finally waking up to the Iran threat. If there has been ineptitude, it has been on the part of the western media.
    7. Leaving Iraq now would be like walking out of World War II in 1943.
    8. As to we can't win, that is still in the future. But we have a strong military, we will win for sure.
I must say I appreciate the attempt at comprehensivity on the part of Hanson. Other than that the work reads like so much propaganda, rather than a disinterested academic analysis.

Saddam, 9/11, Osama

Saddam and Osama never were allies. Actually Saddam was a secularist, Osama dreamt of a theocracy in Iraq like everywhere else. It is not possible Saddam might have liked the idea. If anything they were competitors to the same land, though never directly.

40% of Republicans believe Saddam was behind 9/11. That is mindboggling. Republicans like Cheney have cynically used 9/11 to great effects.

Weapons Of Mass Destruction

You have to start at the end. None were found. The intelligence agencies were so far off the mark, they intended to go to the moon, and ended up on Mars. The error was huge. But the error was that the agencies did not come up with a categorical statement that the WMDs did not exist.

What is worth noting though is there was tremendous White House pressure upon the agencies to cut the corners to show certainty where none existed so as to bolster the war cause. The decision to go to war preceded the marshalling of the intelligence.

A Small Neocon Cabal

It is so obvious a handul of neocons proved decisive. There might not have been a Jewish lobby, and I don't hear many anti-war folks suggest as much, but there sure was a neocon lobby, too married to their strong on defense ideology, too addicted to campaign contributions from the military-industrial complex that stands to make money every time there is war.

The process by which the decision to go to war was reached sure was faulty. War got seen as the weapon not of last resort, but first. Intelligence was marshalled with a clear intent to make a particular case. The congressional vote was to exhaust the non-war options first, but Bush misread it on purpose.


Toppling a dictator was not the stated goal. That came much later, after the dictator had already been toppled, and no WMDs were found.

This is important to point out.

And if the idea is to spread democracy, the Iraq way would be a ridiculous way to do it elsewhere: $240 billion, 2300 American lives, 30,000 Iraqi lives and counting. This model can not be replicated. The US would go bankrupt, many more Americans would die, the draft will have to be reinstated, and you will end up killing larger numbers of people with the pretext of coming to their aid.


This part is so true. Katrina proved it beyond doubt.


It is good Saddam is gone. But has the cost been worth it? And what about the other Saddams of the world? Why did the Iraqi Saddam deserve the favor?

There has to be a non-violent, progressive way of spreading democracy in the rest of the Arab world, a war with communications technology way, one that organizes the Arab Americans in places like New York City to be cutting edge soldiers for democracy rather than demonizes them.

Deciding On Withdrawal, Defining Victory

Mission Accomplished was not victory, we came to learn that rather fast. But the American troops do have to come home. So what is victory? A stable, democratic Iraq? An Iraqi army that can fend for itself?

The withdrawal has to happen sooner rather than later.

It is not about if Americans can win in Iraq. It is about if Iraqis can. That is extra true in the rest of the Arab world.

Is it possible to design a $10 billion war with communications technology method to "invade" another Arab country, say Egypt or Saudi Arabia, the Arab Americans taking the lead? I think yes.

The point being the Iraqi misadventure can not be replicated. There has to be a better model.

Can't Take Back Congress Without Strong On Defense
Rahm Emanuel: Big Ideas For America
Long War
Iraq Intel: The Spy Who Failed Me
The Larger WMD Question And Iran
Complicated Iraq
Nepal Message To Top Democrats
Pentagon, Hexagon
The Saudi Royal Family Has Got To Go

Democracy Spreading Mechanism
The Demosphere Manifesto

In The News

US military deaths drop in Iraq San Jose Mercury News, USA
US military deaths in Iraq drop as Iraqis targeted Washington Post
General: Training, confidence reducing US deaths in Iraq Stars and Stripes
Iraqi Security Forces Succeeding Against Insurgents Washington File
BBC faces protests over 'Iraq bias'
Guardian Unlimited, UK
Inquiry into secret guns-for-Iraq deal
Times Online, UK
Buckley Says Bush Will Be Judged on Iraq War, Now a `Failure'
Americans won’t tolerate another three years in Iraq Fort Wayne News Sentinel
Bush takes potshots at messenger Seattle Post Intelligencer
The Conquerors Dance: War Feasting with the Bush's PEJ News
Kidnappings forecast to rise in Iraq San Jose Mercury News
'Good Day' in Iraq for Freed US Journalist Los Angeles Times
Rice says 'thousands' of mistakes made in Iraq
Guardian Unlimited, UK
Rice: US policy in Iraq riddled with mistakes Jerusalem Post
Uganda: Northern Situation Worse Than Iraq's - NGOs, Washington
Uganda death rate higher than in Iraq: Report Indian Catholic
Cleric urges US to remove Iraq envoy
Financial Times, UK
Iraq leaders resume cabinet talks BBC News
Iraq Shi'ite ayatollah demands US fire envoy Reuters AlertNet


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Angry Veteran said…
Great post, I like your blog.

I have to really wonder about the people who still support this invasion and occupation.
SirTurnquest said…
Nice comments man, good summary of the points against the war. Only time will tell if Blair and W can gather the courage to admit their mistakes and start the inevitable pullout of coalition troops from their current task of occupation.

Keep it up.
Floyd said…
That is one great post Paramendra,thanks for leaving a link to it I welcome you anytime to within reason.
John Smith said…
Good Job, on that list.
Front-page Iran
Edie said…
Your conclusions are questionable. The Democrats are part of the problem, not the solution.

Bill Van Auken for New York Senate.
GraemeAnfinson said…
I agree, the war is horrible. I really wish the dems would have not voted for authorization or at least backed Murtha or even Feingold now. they are pussies
Anonymous said…
Anonymous said…
Saddam was so daggone secular that Osama would never take any aid from him!

Everyone who hasn't read Osama's interviews knows this!

It's not like Saddam was playing up to the fanatics, say putting "Allah Ackbar" on the flag in 1993, or getting a Koran inked in his own blood in 2000.
Anonymous said…
Your critique was not very persuasive and somewhat short of facts. I don't have time to go thru it point by point.

For example, your comment: Toppling a dictator was not the stated goal. That came much later, after the dictator had already been toppled, and no WMDs were found.

Here is a quick rebuttal, on Feb 27th, 2003, the New York Times published an editorial that criticized Bush for talking about a free and peaceful Iraq instead of focusing on the WMDs. LINK
armymedic said…
I just wanted to say, as a soldier on the frontlines of this "war on terror" I have to say, it's time to go. The contry is on the brink of civil war. The idea that democracy can work here is a pipe dream. Before it can work the Iraqis must think outside of the Tribe. As long as the tribes and religious conflicts exist there will always be turmoil in the middle east.
We try to put a possitive face on the Iraqi Army, but they are not ready to defend thier nation without the help of the United States, and other allies. It has been my experience here that as soon as the going gets tough for the IA, they get going... They go home. They don't want to die for thier contry.
I may be a cynic, but when you are faced with the facts on an everyday basis, eventually you see things the way they are.
When is enough, enough? How many more soldiers need to die for a cause that just isn't there?