Monday, September 6, 2010

The Green Zone, or did the U.S. cover up bad intel about Iraq?

Holidays are always slow at the job (as in maybe 5 calls all day), so I usually check out a couple of Redbox films and while away part of my day. I watched two films today; The Book of Eli (which I’ll talk about in the next post), and the Green Zone.

I was half expecting Green Zone to have a Bourne feel to it considering the star and director, but it really didn’t. The movie has a strong message to it: there were no WMD in Iraq and the US Government created a cover up so that they could go in and topple Sadaam.

Your view of how good the movie is will probably be proportional to your agreement with its premise, so let’s talk about the premise for a minute. The CIA report concluded that there were no WMD there, and Bush said his greatest regret was not finding any WMD. On the other hand, in 2006, small amounts of degraded weapons (around 500) were found, but certainly not on a large scale. So for the sake of argument, let’s agree with the movie that there were no WMD.

Two questions remain: Was there a cover up and what were/are we doing over there?

I don’t think there is any evidence for a cover up. If someone is pointing a loaded gun (or in this case WMD with significant range) at your head, and you’ve taken reasonable steps to determine whether the gun is loaded or not, at some point you have to take defensive step yourself. Other than the cries of the liberal anti-war crowd, there is no evidence that Bush lied about WMD’s. Hindsight is always 20/20 and when you are in the chair trying to determine which intel is good and which intel is bad, with stakes that are higher than anything the average person can imagine, erring on the side of caution to protect your country is the expected response. All that to say, under the circumstances we were probably right to go in.

But once you’ve invaded a country and taken down their leadership, and then find out that your original premise was wrong, it’s easy to try to keep from egg getting on your face. And yet, the CIA published a report saying just that. There were probably some people who tried to keep the report from being published, but the CIA handled it properly and admitted that we were wrong. Granted it’s just a movie, but that is part of the movies message and that part is very likely wrong.

The second question is what we were/are doing over there. When your original premise for being somewhere turns out to be wrong, do you dig your heels in? The argument I usually hear is that we had just toppled a government, destabilized a region, and therefore we had to patch it back together. Please excuse me while I try to stop laughing. The Middle East has NEVER been a stable region. Sadaam killed thousands of people, and terrorists killed thousands more. Any arguments saying that the U.S. pulling out would have caused a bloodbath completely ignore the bloodbath that was already there. As much as I would like to see the spread of democracy around the world, we need to protect our strength as the world’s best hope for democracy here. Part of preservation is that even if you can beat the other guy in a fight, you do everything you can to avoid the fight and preserve your strength. I am not, and never have been, in the military so I’m not going to make and absolute statement on this, but it seems to me that we should have pulled out of Iraq as soon as practicable after confirmation that there were no WMD there.

Would this have created a bloodbath? Probably. Has Iraq been a bloodbath ever since we invaded? Absolutely. It’s hard to know what would have been, but part of protecting our strength is to know when to fight. The amount spent on the Iraq war was tremendous, and the return is meager at best. The debt incurred has become a major burden on our country (although other factors have been even greater contributions to said debt). Because of all the above factors, a good argument can be made that we should have been out of Iraq completely at least 5 years ago.

Does this mean the bad guys win? Maybe in Iraq. But until they are actually threatening America, it’s not really our business. At that point, any red-blooded American will be completely in favor of taking them out.

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