Do The Freakin Math

Liberals and conservatives alike frequently rely on limited evidence, personal experience, religious beliefs or gut emotions to determine solutions for complex problems. From immigration to global warming - taxes to terrorism - or health care to free trade - analytical study is rare. Science based policy making isn’t the way of Washington. And the consequences are catastrophic. Change is urgently needed. Just do the freakin’ math.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Col. Stephen Hatch can't read.

Retired Army Col. Stephen Hatch should have read my letter in the Washington

Times Jan.5 with more focus.

I didn't say or imply that "all death and destruction in Iraq is the fault of the United States in general and President Bush in particular". I would say that our nation (and our President) is both directly and indirectly responsible for most of the death and destruction since the invasion. No invasion… and tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis’ would still be alive.

Saddam's murderous habits combined with President Bush's father's Administration's generous contributions of weapons (both conventional and chemical weapons with targeting information) undoubtedly share responsibility for the mass murder of Iraqi's and Iranians before Desert Storm.

Saddam is clearly responsible for the intentional murder of untold thousands of his own people after the first Gulf War and before the 2003 invasion. But, there is no doubt that the US military is directly responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocent Iraqi's leading up to Desert Storm. Our war planners deliberately targeted water and sanitation facilities full well knowing these strikes would result in the deaths of innocent men, women and children from infectious disease and other hardships resulting from a lack of clean water and sanitation. The plan was to make Iraqi life so uncomfortable that they would overthrow Saddam.

I would say that our nation is also somewhat responsible for the thousands of deaths of rebelling Iraqi's who were led to believe the US would support their regime change effort -- but were then left to the mercy of Saddam's gunships.

Last and not least is the statistical evidence of an estimated 500,000 innocent Iraqi children who died as a result of US military enforced sanctions on Iraq between the two Iraq wars. Saddam clearly let thousands of children die even after an 'oil for food" policy was arranged. But the fact remains -- it takes two to tango -- and the US has been death dancing with Iraq for decades.

For Col. Hatch to imply we are ‘innocent’ is to ignore history that even President Bush acknowledges.

Our solders do go to '"great lengths" to avoid collateral damage...but with the Petraeus surge they are going to even greater lengths. And, extra effort appears to be paying off. That strategy should have been adopted much earlier than the "Shock and awe" policy that was not so great at protecting innocent Iraqi’s. In the fog of war innocent people die regardless of the lengths we go. That’s why war in a Muslim nation is a bad idea from the start.

Col Hatch claims that I said "the war was our fault because we overestimated Iraq's weapons of mass destruction capabilities." No. The war is our fault because we invaded Iraq. The decision was based on understandably faulty

intelligence. But Hatch misses the point ‘what if our WMD intelligence had been correct? And, Saddam released his weaponized smallpox as was feared. Remember that prior to invasion President Bush pushed for all US troops and our nation’s first responders to be vaccinated against smallpox. And remember that these efforts failed miserably. Yet he decided to invade anyway. Hatch’s imaginary threat of a "rail car full of the chemical weapon VX” exploding “in Rockville" is insignificant to a global weaponized smallpox outbreak. Instead of thousands dead in Rockville there would have been hundreds of millions if not billions dead worldwide. Bush ignored this grave risk. It would have been far wiser NOT to invade but to deal with Saddam another way.

Col. Hatch would be wise to note that Bin Ladin's two goals were to break the US economically and to divide us politically. Bush's decision to invade Iraq helps both of Bin Ladin's goals -- and increased his recruitment efforts to boot.

I agree with Col. Hatch’s that there were "other reason for moving forward" with our policy in Iraq and the Middle East. But waging war isn't a step forward. This war may have set us back decades in defeating terrorists. Imagine where we would be if the half a trillion dollars so far spend on the Iraq war had been invested in weaning our nation from our dependence on foreign oil.

I’m as hopeful as the retired Colonel that "a free Iraq will" someday be "a beacon of hope for other oppressed people in the region (such as Syria and Iran) and a dagger in the heart of the Islamo-fascist movement". But that won't likely come as a result of invasions and violent occupations. It’s more likely to come from our Presidents walking our founding father’s talk about human rights and the rule of law for all. Not waging war on weak intelligence.

Chuck Woolery. (In response to the letter below published today in the Washington Times.)


Don't blame America, (Washington Times 1-15-08).

I have heard variations on the "blame America" theme on the Iraq war before, but few quite as obtuse as Chuck Woolery's in his letter "Haditha and the law of war" (Jan. 5).

According to Mr. Woolery, all death and destruction in Iraq is the fault of the United States in general and President Bush in particular. He conveniently overlooks the fact that innocent civilians in Iraq had been and were continuing to be routinely butchered by Saddam Hussein and terrorists he supported were killing innocents elsewhere in the region prior to our intervention.

Moreover, our soldiers go to great lengths to avoid injuring noncombatants, in stark contrast to our enemies, who deliberately murder them or use them as human shields. To imply otherwise is a vile insult.

Saddam indisputably had used gas weapons in his war with Iran and against his own people, killing tens of thousands. He had also actively sought nuclear and biological weapons for decades.

More recently, he wanted people to believe he had them, regardless of his immediate ability to deploy them. This was one of his tyrannical tools to cow his own people and intimidate his neighbors and was completely consistent with his past behavior.

It is therefore not surprising that before the war, every significant intelligence agency believed he had them and would use them again.

Mr. Woolery says the war was our fault because we overestimated Iraq's weapons of mass destruction capabilities. But most outrageously he claims that even if we had been right, we still would be guilty of an "atrocity" if we had tried to do anything about it. So, what should we have done? Should we have waited until a rail car full of the chemical weapon VX exploded in Rockville?

The Bush administration may have oversold the imminent WMD threat issue as a casus belli, but it was far from the only reason for moving forward.

I believe history will show that, for all the difficulties and second-order problems generated, a free Iraq will be at once a beacon of hope for other oppressed people in the region (such as Syria and Iran) and a dagger in the heart of the Islamo-fascist movement.

COL. STEPHEN J. HATCH Army (retired) Centreville, Va.


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