Thursday, October 14, 2004

US Credibility

So the global test, as explained to us by Edwards, sort of, involves the US being credible. Apparently foreign governments can no longer trust us with Bush in office. We had bumb info on Iraq, which incidentally was consistent with the information that every other intelligence agency in the free Western World had as well, but somehow are reliance on such information makes us liars. That is the nature of intelligence - there will always be uncertainty, and it will not end with reforms to the CIA.

But consider for a moment what credibility would have supposedly bought us up-front. Near as we can tell, we are to believe it would have amounted to French and German participation. Have we lost that going forward? To say we lost it presumes we would have had it if we found the WMDs. Fat chance there, folks. The idea that the French, for example, were behind us after the attacks of 9-11, and we blew their support is woefully errant. Consider this from a recent a news story:

SADDAM HUSSEIN believed he could avoid the Iraq war with a bribery strategy targeting Jacques Chirac, the President of France, according to devastating documents released last night.

Memos from Iraqi intelligence officials, recovered by American and British inspectors, show the dictator was told as early as May 2002 that France - having been granted oil contracts - would veto any American plans for war. . . .

Saddam was convinced that the UN sanctions - which stopped him acquiring weapons - were on the brink of collapse and he bankrolled several foreign activists who were campaigning for their abolition. He personally approved every one.

To keep America at bay, he focusing on Russia, France and China - three of the five UN Security Council members with the power to veto war. Politicians, journalists and diplomats were all given lavish gifts and oil-for-food vouchers.

Tariq Aziz, the former Iraqi deputy prime minister, told the ISG that the "primary motive for French co-operation" was to secure lucrative oil deals when UN sanctions were lifted. Total, the French oil giant, had been promised exploration rights.

Iraqi intelligence officials then "targeted a number of French individuals that Iraq thought had a close relationship to French President Chirac," it said, including two of his "counsellors" and spokesman for his re-election campaign.

Focusing his attention in particular on France and Russia, both permanent members of the UN Security Council, Saddam awarded oil exploration contracts and financial inducements to individuals.

The bribes were at first funded by the Iraqi government, but later derived from Saddam's illegal misuse of the oil-for-food programme, which was supposed to provide food for the poor and medicine for the sick.

Some US estimates have suggested that the Iraqis siphoned off $10 billion (£5.6 billion) from the scheme.

"He [Saddam] targeted friendly companies and foreign political parties that possessed either extensive business ties to Iraq, or held pro-Iraq policies," said the report.

Let's take for a moment the fact that no WMDs have been found as an indictment of our credibility. Now, ask yourself this - what has this lost us with respect to the French? They weren't in prior to that being known, so how would the ex post fact suddenly change their usefulness. Maybe they can now try to claim moral high ground for a decision that amounts to cowardice and complicity with a regime that lined their pockets, but so what. In fifty years, given the birth rates among the native French versus the immigrant Moslem community, we'll be hearing the prime minister of France issuing a fatwah calling for the heads of infidels - why should we commit suicide along with them? As a nation, they are a joke.

Now consider what are trigger happiness may have gained us. It is a matter of fact that most of the Arab street views 9-11 as a Zionist plot - so that audience is not influenced by the lack of our finding any WMDs - they "knew" all along that there were no WMDs outside of Israel. They can't hate us anymore. But now they can fear us. They took pot shots for years with no big response, because they knew that a big response would require our getting the backing of the international community. Enemy regimes never had to come at us directly - just back a few crazy jihadists with some money and safe haven - surely the US could never get the blessing of the world community to come at them for that. Now we have proved that the rumblings of a few corrupt Old European governments will not hold us back. More than that, we may even go ahead on flimsy intelligence. It's enough to make Libya cough up its arsenal.

The actions of the US in defending itself cannot be subject to some lawyerly standard of evidential proof of guilt on the part of regimes suspected to support terrorism. For proof of this, we need look no further than when Clinton rejected the offer by the Sudanese government to hand him Bin Laden on a silver platter; it was rejected because Clinton didn't think he had enough information to try Bin Laden. Good results did not follow. Yes, our intelligence may be wrong from time to time ... but no one contends that it will be so wrong as to lead us to attack Canada, and Canada knows that. Iran doesn't, and there is value in that.

It is in our interest to lack the type of credibility Kerry insists we should do everything to regain. Lacking the realistic threat of US military intervention, bad regimes do bad things; for proof, look to the Soviet Union in the late 1970s, when they were dealing with a naive President and a cowardly Congress. Use of the US military has to be a credible threat, and it very much is at the moment. But that can change in a day, and you'll know that it has if you tune into Al Jazera on the morning after the election, and you see the people dancing in the streets - but don't expect CBS to show that footage.


Blogger Incredible Dirigible said...

Great post, Hatch, but a jeer within a cheer: You quoted a long segment of a recent news article, but did not cite the source. You should, in order to be more credible to the Incredible Dirigible.

7:13 AM  
Blogger pbryon said...

By this logic, the biggest, strongest military, coupled with a loose-cannon leader, would be the ultimate deterrent. (Sounds a little like North Korea.)

This begs the question, then: Does this mean that the Nobel-laureate-taught Hatcher supports enlargin the US military through a draft?

6:03 AM  

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