Kevin Drum has set off a minor “kafuffle” by attempting to make generalizations and judgments about the correctness of individuals over Bush’s War™. The framing would seem to be that to be correct you had to oppose the war for the correct reason. While George H.W. Bush and Brent Scowcroft fit in that limited category, there were a number of people who opposed the war for a variety of valid reasons that are true and have nothing to do with the lies of this administration or the incompetent manner in which the war and occupation have been conducted.
During the relevant period I was on mail lists discussing the war, and my reasoning was very straightforward: the war was unnecessary and a waste of resources including lives.
It was easy to show that at one point Saddam had WMDs because the Reagan administration helped him get them and the US government had the paperwork on those transactions. The UN inspectors rooted out many of the facilities after the first Gulf War, but so what?
The failure of the French and Russians to back the Shrubbery was significant to me because they had people on the ground in Iraq, and no reason to want to pick a fight with the US over Iraq. If Saddam was still stockpiling WMDs, the Russians would definitely have known it, but they were opposing any action against Iraq other than sending in inspectors. A KGB guy like Putin wouldn’t want to be put in a position of being shown to be wrong on something like this.
The basis of my major objection to the war was the reality that operations Northern Watch and Southern Watch were in full swing. US and British aircraft were over-flying Iraq every day, reminding Saddam what would happen if he tried anything. Countries that did not like him surrounded Saddam and Gulf War I proved to him that if he tried anything, they would provide troops and treasure to stomp on him in a minute. Iraq was totally contained and not a realistic threat to anyone. Saddam was a lot of things, but suicidal wasn’t one of them. Invading Iraq was not a logical military action, especially as the war was still going on in Afghanistan.
The information was all there before the war started. Syria and Iran provided the US with assistance after 9/11 and in the invasion of Afghanistan. They were seeking to improve relations with the US and had no love for Saddam Hussein, but they didn’t support the Iraq invasion. Both would have had intelligence assets in Iraq, so they knew there was no threat and were concerned about US aggression.
To be as plain as possible, even if they had conducted the invasion of Iraq by the book: sent in 250 to 500K troops, stabilized the country, provided security, and rebuilt it according to the plans Jay Garner had with him when he was sent to Iraq as the first administrator, none of that would have altered the fact that it was an illegal and unnecessary war.
We did not capture Osama bin Laden and have not stabilized and secured Afghanistan because the necessary resources were diverted to a “vanity war.”
Oh, yes – Kevin, the Sherman was a crummy tank, but it was what we had when WWII started. We had to slap modifications on it to keep it from being wiped out by the German armor.