Do Evangelicals have blood on their hands?

God does not take death lightly. The Bible is full of instances which show that human life is precious, and that when this life is deliberately taken, a great evil is being perpetrated.

American Evangelicals, strangely enough, do not understand this. They are willing to jump upon Abortion as a moral outrage - which they should - but are unwilling to apply the same piece of Biblical truth to other spheres of life.

The best example of this is the Iraq war. Evangelicals in America were the war's most ardent supporters. In 2002, an open letter written by a number of Evangelical leaders was published that gave their explicit support for the war. The signatories included Bill Bright, James Kennedy, Charles Colson and Richard Land. It is known as the "Land letter" since Richard Land was its original writer. The text of the Land letter can be found at Wikisource.

The Land letter was an attempt to justify a pre-emptive attack on Iraq. It outlined what it thought was the biblical basis for a "Just war", and attempted to justify an American attack on Iraq from a Christian point of view.

The Land letter was a watershed in American Evangelicalism, and it will go down in history as one of the movement's greatest and most damaging mistakes.

Obviously there will be many evangelicals out there who maintain that the 2003 invasion was justified, and that American forces must continue to occupy the country. I suppose that is fair enough if you have been convinced of that, but we must remember that the current reasons for "staying the course" are vastly different to the reasons that were initially touted - and the ones that form the basis of the Land letter.

The Land letter is breathtakingly naive in both its assumptions and in its statements. So much of the letter is based upon the rock-solid belief that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction - a belief that formed the basis of the letter's call to action. Now that it has been proved that Iraq posed no threat at all to America and to the rest of the world, the foundation for the letter's argument collapses.

A clear and present danger
The assumption that Saddam and Iraq posed a clear and present danger because of Weapons of Mass destruction can be found in the second paragraph:
We believe that your policies concerning the ongoing international terrorist campaign against America are both right and just. Specifically, we believe that your stated policies concerning Saddam Hussein and his headlong pursuit and development of biochemical and nuclear weapons of mass destruction are prudent and fall well within the time-honored criteria of just war theory as developed by Christian theologians in the late fourth and early fifth centuries A.D.
All this sounds fine if in fact Saddam was developing such weapons. But he wasn't. Even if he was planning to, all the evidence shows that nothing had been done. Saddam's WMDs had been destroyed during the first Gulf war, or due to the UN sanctions that followed.

At this point I would like to address the evangelical supporter of the war directly who may be reading this. Listen, my friend, THERE WERE NO WMDS. Saddam Hussein did not have anything that was dangerous to the world. No evidence whatsoever has emerged that contradicts this fact. If you believed before the invasion that Saddam had such weapons, you were wrong.

The letter goes on to discuss seven points that justify the invasion of Iraq.

A defensive war
The first thing that the Land letter addresses concerns whether the imminent war is considered "just". This is what the letter says:
First, your stated policy concerning using military force if necessary to disarm Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction is a just cause. In just war theory only defensive war is defensible; and if military force is used against Saddam Hussein it will be because he has attacked his neighbors, used weapons of mass destruction against his own people, and harbored terrorists from the Al Qaeda terrorist network that attacked our nation so viciously and violently on September 11, 2001. As you stated in your address to the U.N. September 12th:

“We can harbor no illusions. . . . Saddam Hussein attacked Iran in 1980 and Kuwait in 1990. He’s fired ballistic missiles at Iran and Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Israel. His regime once ordered the killing of every person between the ages of 15 and 70 in certain Kurdish villages in Northern Iraq. He has gassed many Iranians and forty Iraqi villages.”

Disarming and neutralizing Saddam Hussein is to defend freedom and freedom-loving people from state-sponsored terror and death.
But, of course, Saddam did not have any WMDs. He used them against the Kurds so many years ago, but in 2003 he did not have any at all to play with.

The other thing, of course, is the statement that a link existed between Al Qaeda and Iraq. This link has proved to be spurious - no link has been proven or even discovered. In the lead up to the war, the President and his aides spoke about such clear links, but analysis proved otherwise.

I'll say it again for the Evangelical reading this: There was no link between Al Qaeda and Iraq. This means that 9/11 had no link whatsoever to Saddam Hussein. Attacking Iraq based on 9/11 was completely false.

Some Evangelical Christians maintain a belief that there was some spiritual link between Saddam and Osama - via the devil or something like that. Of course, Satan acts in every evil act, but to somehow think that there was some hidden conspiracy is ridiculous. These people need to stop reading their Left Behind books and start using their brains instead.

The intent of the war is just and noble
The second thing the land letter addresses is the intent of such a war:

Second, just war must have just intent. Our nation does not intend to destroy, conquer, or exploit Iraq. As you declared forthrightly in your speech to the U.N. General Assembly:

“The United States has no quarrel with the Iraqi people. . . . Liberty for the Iraqi people is a great moral cause, and a great strategic goal. The people of Iraq deserve it; the security of all nations requires it. Free societies do not intimidate through cruelty and conquest, and open societies do not threaten the world with mass murder. The United States supports political and economic liberty in a unified Iraq.”

This is clearly a just and noble intent.
The fact that President Bush said that his intentions were noble does not mean that the war was noble. The land letter says that the US does not intend to "destroy, conquer or exploit Iraq", yet it is obvious that Iraq has been destroyed, conquered and exploited.

Notice also a developing theme in the letter - an assertion of support followed by a quote from the President himself. This shows that the writers themselves are willingly submitting themselves to the directions of the President. They are, essentially, "evangelical yes-men".

A last resort
The third thing the letter points out is that such a war is only justifiable as a "last resort". It states:

Third, just war may only be commenced as a last resort. As you so clearly enumerated before the U.N., Saddam Hussein has for more than a decade ignored Security Council resolutions or defied them while breaking virtually every agreement Into which he has entered. He stands convicted by his own record as a brutal dictator who cannot be trusted to abide by any agreement he makes. And while he prevaricates and obfuscates, he continues to obtain and develop the weapons of mass destruction which he will use to terrorize the world community of nations.

The world has been waiting for more than a decade for the Iraqi regime to fulfill its agreement to destroy all of its weapons of mass destruction, to cease producing them or the long-range missiles to deliver them in the future, and to allow thorough and rigorous inspections to verify their compliance. They have not, and will not, do so and any further delay in forcing the regime’s compliance would be reckless irresponsibility in the face of grave and growing danger.
This argument, of course, completely falls over if there were no WMDs. There was no point in invading Iraq if there was no danger.

It's at this point that the blindness of the writers comes to the fore. The assumption that Iraq has WMDs is totally unquestioned. Despite all the work done by UN weapons inspectors - which proved beyond reasonable doubt that Iraq did not have WMDs - the writers continue to trust blindly in the president's assurances and pronouncements.

The war has legitimate authority
The writers then turn to the war being waged by a legitimate earthly authority. They state:

Fourth, just war requires authorization by legitimate authority. We believe it was wise and prudent for you to go before the U.N. General Assembly and ask the U.N. Security Council to enforce its own resolutions. However, as American citizens we believe that, however helpful a U.N. Security Council vote might be, the legitimate authority to authorize the use of U.S. military force is the government of the United States and that the authorizing vehicle is a declaration of war or a joint resolution of the Congress.

When the threat of Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba presented a grave threat to America’s security, President Kennedy asked for the support of the U.N. and the Organization of American States, but made it clear, with or without their support, those missiles would either be removed by the Soviets, or we would neutralize them ourselves. The American people expected no less from their president and their government.
Notice the not-so-subtle distrust of the United Nations here? The UN had experienced and trustworthy weapons inspectors in place who were scouring the Iraqi countryside for Biological, Chemical and Nuclear weapons. They found none. Nevertheless this didn't convince these evangelical writers, who trusted in George Bush to be telling the truth - no matter how wrong it was.

The writers then bring up the Cuban Missile Crisis to back up their argument. But time has shown that Iraq's threat to the US was negligible compared to the 1962 crisis. Was Cuba in1962 a crisis? It sure was. Can the same be said about Iraq in 2003? Absolutely not.

Limited Goals
The next point the writers raise is that of limited goals:

Fifth, just war requires limited goals and the resort to armed force must have a reasonable expectation of success. In other words, “total war” is unacceptable and the war’s goals must be achievable. We believe your stated policies for disarming the murderous Iraqi dictator and destroying his weapons of mass destruction, while liberating the Iraqi people for his cruel and barbarous grip, more than meet those criteria.
How limited is a limited war? At this present moment in time, Iraq is in the grip of anarchy, and has been since the 2003 invasion. Civil society has broken down. Saddam's brutal regime has not been replaced by anything resembling a civil society in the two years since America invaded.

The fact is that many Americans are now convinced that the Iraqi invasion was a massive mistake. Recent polls show that supporters of the war are now significantly outnumbered by those who oppose it. America has changed its mind on the war. Why? Because Iraq is in anarchy and the presence of US troops has not changed that fact.

The fact that "total war" was not declared or waged is immaterial. The fact is that America's invasion of Iraq has completely devastated the country and brought its people to suffering and ruin. I'd hate to see what "total war" would have done to the nation.

The immunity of non combatants
The writers also point out that the suffering of innocents must be minimised:

Sixth, just war theory requires noncombatant immunity. We are confident that our government, unlike Hussein, will not target civilians and will do all that it can to minimize noncombatant casualties.
Confident that the government will do all it can to avoid the deaths of civilians? Such a statement is naive in the extreme, especially considering everything that has gone on since the 2003 invasion.

The fact is that tens of thousands of Iraqis have died since America invaded. The bulk of these have been non-combatants, such as women, children and families. Plenty of news reports since the invasion have proved that American forces did target civilians.

The writers state:

Seventh, just war theory requires the question of proportionality be addressed. Will the human cost of the armed conflict to both sides be proportionate to the stated objectives and goals? Does the good gained by resort to armed conflict justify the cost of lives lost and bodies maimed? We believe that the cost of not dealing with this threat now will only succeed in greatly increasing the cost in human lives and suffering when an even more heavily armed and dangerous Saddam Hussein must be confronted at some date in the not too distant future. We believe that every day of delay significantly increases the risk of far greater human suffering in the future than acting now would entail.

How different and how much safer would the history of the twentieth century have been had the allies confronted Hitler when he illegally reoccupied the Rhineland in 1936 in clear violation of Germany’s treaty agreements? It is at least possible that tens of millions of the lives lost in World War II might not have been lost if the Allies had enforced treaty compliance then instead of appeasing a murderous dictator.
In hindsight, the argument of proportionality is obscene. There was no security at all to be gained by the 2003 invasion, which means that the tens of thousands who have subsequently died have died for no reason whatsoever.

Notice that irrational fear is what is driving these writers. They assume, despite the sterling efforts of the UN weapons inspectors to prove otherwise, that another disastrous terrorist attack involving WMDs from Iraq was a distinct possibility.

Also notice that they make the cardinal error of Godwin's Law by invoking Adolf Hitler. Saddam Hussein was no doubt a brutal dictator, but to compare him to Hitler is an insult to everyone who suffered and died under the Fuehrer's rule. Hitler engineering the deaths of millions. Saddam was simply a brutal idiot.

Learning from the Bible.
What is noticeable in the land letter is the total absence of any biblical references. In fact, for a letter from America's most religious people, God is not mentioned anywhere at all. This oversight was obviously not deliberate, but it does speak volumes about the terrible error that these evangelical leaders have fallen into. Had they chosen to read the Bible, the writers may have discovered the following verses:

Deuteronomy 17:6
On the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses the one who is to die shall be put to death; a person shall not be put to death on the evidence of one witness.
There are no real passages that deal with the issue of "Just war", but a verse like this should help us to understand God's mind. In its context, this verse is all about making sure that people who are to suffer the death penalty get a fair trial. This involves the corroboration of evidence to make sure that malicious accusations can be minimised.

What this verse teaches us is that the God who wishes justice is not one who ignores evidence. God will judge justly because, as God, he has all the information available to him as judge. For us as Evangelical Christians, we should fight for a society that promotes dispassionate justice, based upon evidence, not heresay.

But this was ignored by the writers of the Land letter. Their assumption was that Saddam had WMDs. Despite all the evidence to the contrary they supported a pre-emptive war. Even at the time there were grave doubts expressed by others in the international community. Rather than use their positions in Christian leadership to counsel restraint and objectivity, they became cheer-leaders for a war effort that was not justified based on the evidence.

Psalm 146:3
Put not your trust in princes,
in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.
One of the most thoroughly embarrassing features of the Land letter is the enthusiastic and uncritical support the writers give to George W. Bush. Their attitude is almost worshipful. They quote sections of his speeches as though they were inspired by The Holy Spirit himself.

The Bible is clear when it comes to human sinfulness - all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Our trust should not be in man - and certainly not in princes or presidents. The bible is full of examples of leadership gone very wrong, and also full of rebuke for such leadership. George W. Bush was treated in an overly reverential way by the writers of the Land letter - at no point did they say anything to warn the president of making the wrong decision. The assumption was that the president was right and just and should not be questioned. This is not a biblical attitude.

Proverbs 30:5-6
Every word of God proves true;
he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.
Do not add to his words,
lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.
Evangelicals are supposedly people of the book - the word of God found in the Bible. Yet the complete absence of biblical backup for the Land letter, not to mention the lack of reference to God, shows that many evangelical leaders view their own pronouncements as being almost on par with the bible.

The events in Iraq have shown these Evangelical leaders to be men who trust in their own words, rather than in the word of God. They chose to ignore the ample evidence that had been given to them, and instead gave into the thinking and beliefs of the time. Their pronouncements seemed so wise, so sure - but they had spoken from their own authority. As a result, God has rebuked them and proven that they speak falsehood.

Public Repentance
There is only one option open to the authors of the Land letter and to all who took it as their own - they must publically repent of their sin.

I need to remind the evangelical reader that tens of thousands of Iraqis, including women and children, have died as a result of this war. Millions more are suffering from the anarchy that exists in Iraq because of America's invasion. The Land letter explicitly supported George Bush's war on Iraq based upon the understanding that the threat of Weapons of Mass Destruction was imminent. It was not. There was no threat whatsoever. Moreover, the American effort in keeping the peace in Iraq is totally inadequate. These people, who according to Jesus are our neighbours and who should be the recipients of our love, are undergoing terrible suffering because of the current situation.

It is for this reason that I submit that many American evangelicals - especially those who signed the Land letter - are complicit in the deaths of thousands of people. I am not aiming this at the person in the street who supported the war, but rather those evangelical leaders who stood up and publically supported the invasion.

Charles Colson, one of the Land letter signatories, wrote an article in the December 9 issue of Christianity today that defended his position on "Just war." He defends the position based on the idea that we should love our neighbour, and that sometimes war may be the best way to help them. Despite the wisdom that this appears to have, Colson then makes the most breath-taking of statements:

Of course, all of this presupposes solid intelligence and the goodwill of U.S. and Western leaders. I find it hard to believe that any President, aware of the awesome consequences of his decision and of the swiftness of second-guessing in a liberal democracy, would act recklessly.
This is one of Richard Nixon's former advisors speaking here. Of all people who could know the utter stupidity that a president can fall into, Colson should know. But it seems he has not learned anything from Watergate. The fact is that Bush acted recklessly and without any thought to the consequences of his actions when he ordered the invasion of Iraq. Like other evangelical leaders, including those who wrote the Land letter, Colson has shot himself in the foot by presuming to trust in the judgement of a sinful man.

Along with many other evangelicals, I believe that the modern evangelical movement is in complete disarray. The gospel of Christ crucified is not the message that is being preached in the pulpits of American Evangelical churches. The word of God - the Bible - is being either ignored or butchered by preachers who aim to please men, not God, in their preaching.

As I stated earlier, the Land letter will go down in history as one of the greatest mistakes made by American Evangelicals. There is no knowing how much damage to the Gospel of Christ has been done by this present generation of evangelical leaders and teachers. As the years pass and the invasion of Iraq is seen in a more objective light, many will lose their trust in the evangelical movement. Future evangelicals will have to fight hard to distance themselves from the actions of present-day believers in order to present the gospel in a world that has turned against God.

From the One Salient Overlord Department

© 2005 Neil McKenzie Cameron, http://one-salient-oversight.blogspot.com/

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.5 License.


zennurse said...

Thank you for this article, which I'm sure was difficult to write. I linked to it through atrios and have read it twice. I am not a christian, but am a very concerned American who was raised in a christian family. I believe that what I see in the evangelism in my country is not christianity at all but political powermongering motivated my greed and self-righteousness using god as a shield, particularly in the language of its leaders and pundits. And I am sorry to see it, because the god I remember was a god of compassion and love, humility and peace. I had not known of the Land Letter; your article elucidates it well and the absence of spiritual reference is a stark and frightening comment on how unchristian these decisions actually were; if they had linked your scripture (my reference, meaning, as opposed to buddhist, jewish etc.), would they have been able to justify what they were recommending? I agree with you that these leaders had a responsibility to do everything possible to encourage George Bush to avoid war at all cost; instead, as we know, he was enthusiastically encouraged from the start. So yes, I feel evangelicals, among many others, do have blood on their hands. Will they have the humility and courage to challenge the administration to end this useless, murderous exercise. Oh, my friend, I think not. I wish I could believe that aspect of christianity still existed, but my experience tells me it is gone for good, swallowed by the bright lights of television, the lovely green of the millions of dollars faith now represents and the rush, rush, rush of the power they feel they have gained by associating with a "God-driven" conservative administration with "moral values". But my heart is with you, dear writer, for having the strength to ask the tough questions, and I thank you for reaching out to the blogs to share your message.

Anonymous said...

Wow, great letter. Thank you.

Craig Schwarze said...

With hindsight it is easy to criticise past decisions. For the leaders involved to have been guilty of sin, it would be necessary to demonstrate that they knew the WMD claims were false.

In fact, you write -

They chose to ignore the ample evidence that had been given to them

What ample evidence? A large amount of intelligence had been published supposedly confirming the existence of WMDs. For example, I refer you to the following CIA report -


Yes, in hindsight it has been shown that there were many deficiencies in the intelligence process. But are church leaders to be held responsible for that? I believe they acted in good conscience based on the information available.

Craig Schwarze said...

Now, a more difficult issue is whether the removal of Saddam has been a good thing or not.

You state confidently that the Iraqi people would have been better off under Saddam. This is obviously a very difficult question to answer. I will point to a BBC poll carried out just 12 months after the invasion which found around 60% of Iraqis thought life was better now than prior to the war. Around 20% thought life was worse -

I'm not saying this one poll is definitive - it really is a difficult question.

I was interested in a recent article by Pamela Bone in the Age, though. She is one of a number of commentators who have moved from the Left over the issue of the war.

She says she was staggered by the reasoning that says "Saddam wasn't a threat to us, so we should have left him alone." She saw that as a classic case of realpolitik, and a betrayal of fundamental left-wing values.

For myself, I am uncertain as to the rights and wrongs of the Iraqi invasion. But the issue is so complicated that I'm not to prepared to condemn as "sinner" anyone who has expressed an opinion with genuine conviction.

One Salient Oversight said...

I do not believe that the authors of the Land letter deliberately lied. They did not know that the WMD claims were false.

As far as evidence for no WMDs is concerned - the UN weapons inspectors had given their all and discovered nothing. This is the "ample evidence" that I am referring to - though it is more like "ample lack of evidence".

The Land letter authors chose to believe the president and his pronouncements uncritically - that is their mistake.

When Bush and Colin Powell were marshalling evidence together, it was obvious that they were grasping at straws - even I saw that. There was not one shred of evidence that they produced.

Of course, they had lots of CIA reports that they claimed showed evidence - but of course they couldn't divulge details of the information to the public because of "security reasons".

One Salient Oversight said...

Now as far as Saddam is concerned...

As I said previously in another comment, if Iraq had turned into a relatively peaceful nation after the 2003 invasion I would probably have grudgingly accepted that the invasion was a good choice.

The fact that I am claim that Iraq would be better off under Saddam is not an endorsement of Saddam or an ignoring of his brutality - but it is an indictment of the current situation under US forces.

Most Iraqis are happy that Saddam is gone, but they are very unhappy with the current situation as well. A brutal dictatorship has been replaced by wholesale anarchy - at least under Saddam there was a semblence of law and order.

Craig Schwarze said...

As far as evidence for no WMDs is concerned - the UN weapons inspectors had given their all and discovered nothing.

This is not true. I remember very clearly how difficult the weapons inspectors were finding their job. Saddam was being very uncooperative, and I seem to recall he even expelled them a few times. I do recall the weapons inspectors wanted more time (because of Saddams games) - but that is different to a conclusion of "no WMDs".

When Bush and Colin Powell were marshalling evidence together, it was obvious that they were grasping at straws - even I saw that.

It wasn't obvious to me. It all seemed very credible to me. Look at the CIA report I linked. Much of the intelligence it contains has now been discredited - but we only know that in hindsight.

Most Iraqis are happy that Saddam is gone, but they are very unhappy with the current situation as well.

Lots of generalisations here. Is there a poll that shows most iraqis were happier under Saddam?

A brutal dictatorship has been replaced by wholesale anarchy

"Wholesale anarchy"? This is an exageration.

at least under Saddam there was a semblence of law and order.

Yes - because he brutally murdered and tortured anyone who resisted him!!

I believe your politics have distorted your ethics here. It reminds me of the Lefts defence of Stalinist Russia, despite all the evidence of atrocities committed there.

One Salient Oversight said...

I am quoting from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iraq_and_weapons_of_mass_destruction#UNMOVIC_search_2003

In late 2002 Saddam Hussein, in a letter to Hans Blix, invited UN weapons inspectors back into the country. Subsequently the Security Council issued resolution 1441 authorizing new inspections in Iraq.

The carefully-worded U.N. resolution put the burden on Iraq, not U.N. inspectors, to prove that they no longer had weapons of mass destruction. The US claimed that Iraq's weapons report which was filed with the U.N. leaves weapons and materials unaccounted for; the Iraqis claimed that it was destroyed, something that had been confirmed years earlier by Iraq's highest profile defector, Hussein Kamel. According to reports from the previous U.N. inspection agency, UNSCOM, Iraq produced 600 metric tons of chemical agents, including mustard gas, VX and sarin, and nearly 25,000 rockets and 15,000 artillery shells, with chemical agents, that are still unaccounted for. In fact, in 1995, Iraq told the United Nations that it had produced at least 30,000 liters of biological agents, including anthrax and other toxins it could put on missiles, but that all of it had been destroyed.

In January 2003, United Nations weapons inspectors reported that they had found no indication that Iraq had a currently active program to make nuclear weapons, and that there was no credible evidence that Iraq possessed nuclear weapons.

Some former UNSCOM inspectors disagree about whether the United States could know for certain whether or not Iraq had renewed production of weapons of mass destruction. Robert Gallucci said, "If Iraq had [uranium or plutonium], a fair assessment would be they could fabricate a nuclear weapon, and there's no reason for us to assume we'd find out if they had." Similarly, former inspector Jonathan Tucker said, "Nobody really knows what Iraq has. You really can't tell from a satellite image what's going on inside a factory."

However, Hans Blix said in late January 2003 that Iraq had "not genuinely accepted U.N. resolutions demanding that it disarm." [13]. He claimed there were some materials which had not been accounted for. Since sites had been found which evidenced the destruction of chemical weaponry, UNSCOM was actively working with Iraq on methods to ascertain for certain whether the amounts destroyed matched up with the amounts that Iraq had produced.

In the last quarterly report submitted by UNMOVIC before the invasion of Iraq (Blix, February 2003) the following statements are found:

"All inspections were performed without notice, and access was in virtually all cases provided promptly. In no case have the inspectors seen convincing evidence that the Iraqi side knew in advance of their impending arrival."

"More than 200 chemical and more than 100 biological samples have collected at different sites. ... The results to date have been consistent with Iraq's declarations."

"UNMOVIC has identified and started the destruction of approximately 50 litres of mustard declared by Iraq... This process will continue. A laboratory quantity of (1 litre) of thiodiglycol, a mustard precursor, ... has also been destroyed."

"[I]t was concluded that all variants of the Al Samoud 2 missile were inherently capable of ranges more than 150 kilometres and were therefore proscribed weapons systems."

"UNMOVIC has reported that, in general, Iraq has been helpful on "process", meaning, first of all, that Iraq has from the outset satisfied the demand for prompt access to any site, whether or not it had been previously declared or inspected. ... While such cooperation should be a matter of course, it must be recalled that UNSCOM frequently met with a different Iraqi attitude."

"During the period of time covered by the present report, Iraq could have made greater efforts to find any remaining proscribed items or provide credible evidence showing the absence of such items."

In the next quarterly report (Blix, May 2003), after the war, the total amount of proscribed items destroyed by UNMOVIC in Iraq can be gathered. Those include:

* 50 deployed Al Samoud 2 missiles
* Various equipment, including vehicles, engines and warheads, related to the AS2 missiles
* 2 large propellant casting chambers
* 14 155 mm shells filled with mustard gas, the mustard gas totalling approximately 49 litres and still at high purity
* Approximately 500 ml of thiodiglycol
* Some 122 mm chemical warheads
* Some chemical equipment
* 224.6 kg of expired growth media

Scott Ritter, a former marine officer who spent seven years hunting and destroying Saddam's arsenal, stated WMDs Saddam had in his possession all those years ago has long since turned to harmless substances. Sarin and tabun have a shelf life of five years, VX lasts a bit longer (but not much longer), and finally botulinum toxin and liquid anthrax last about three years. All the all the chemical and biological weapons within Saddam's possessions have since turned into harmless, useless goo.

One Salient Oversight said...


This link gives a good indication of the current anarchy present in Iraq. Here's some quotes from it (make sure you read the entire article)

"On security, the administration originally expected the U.S.-led coalition to be welcomed with rice and rosewater, traditional Arab greetings, with only a limited reaction from loyalists of ousted Iraqi president Saddam Hussein. The surprising scope of the insurgency and influx of foreign fighters has forced Washington to repeatedly lower expectations -- about the time-frame for quelling the insurgency and creating an effective and cohesive Iraqi force capable of stepping in, U.S. officials said."

"Killings of members of the Iraqi security force have tripled since January. Iraq's ministry of health estimates that bombings and other attacks have killed 4,000 civilians in Baghdad since Prime Minister Ibrahim Jafari's interim government took office April 28."

"Last week was the fourth-worst week of the whole war for U.S. military deaths in combat, and August already is the worst month for deaths of members of the National Guard and Reserve."

"Attacks on U.S. convoys by insurgents using roadside bombs have doubled over the past year, Army Brig. Gen. Yves Fontaine said Friday. Convoys ferrying food, fuel, water, arms and equipment from Kuwait, Jordan and Turkey are attacked about 30 times a week, Fontaine said."

One Salient Oversight said...


More info - make sure you read the whole article, not just my quotes:

The Saudi government yesterday warned that Iraq is hurtling towards disintegration and that an election planned for December is unlikely to make any difference. The government said it was delivering this bleak assessment to both the US and British administrations as a matter of urgency.

Saudi fears of a break-up were voiced by Prince Saud al-Faisal, the foreign minister, in an interview with Associated Press published yesterday, and at a meeting on Thursday night with the US media, including the New York Times and the Washington Post. He said: "The impression is gradually going toward disintegration. There seems to be no dynamic now that is pulling the country together. All the dynamics there are pushing the people away from each other."

One Salient Oversight said...

This wikipedia article is a take on how many people have died since the invasion. The article is describing a study by British Medical Journal The Lancet, which looked at demographics to find out how many people have died since the invasion over and above the amount that would have died ordinarily had there not been an invasion.

Again look at the entire article or even the Lancet article itself (link to a pdf file from the Wikipedia article)


A survey published in The Lancet on 29 October 2004 estimated the casualties of the 2003 invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq to be 98,000 (95% confidence interval: 8000 to 194000) more than would have been expected without the invasion, although there are many caveats (explained below). To date, this is has been the only serious scientific attempt to estimate the excess mortality as a result of the invasion.

One Salient Oversight said...

I believe your politics have distorted your ethics here. It reminds me of the Lefts defence of Stalinist Russia, despite all the evidence of atrocities committed there.

I don't believe that I ever said that Saddam was a nice guy did I? I don't believe that I ever defended his rule and what he did.

What I am pointing out is that things are worse under US control.

More evidence to come if you wish to look at it.

One Salient Oversight said...


Survey Finds Deep Divisions in Iraq; Sunni Arabs Overwhelmingly Reject Sunday Elections; Majority of Sunnis, Shiites Favor U.S. Withdrawal


Only a third of the Iraqi people now believe that the American-led occupation of their country is doing more good than harm, and a solid majority support an immediate military pullout even though they fear that could put them in greater danger, according to a new USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll.


Meanwhile, a recent internal poll conducted for the US-led coalition found that nearly 45 percent of the population supported the insurgent attacks, making accurate intelligence difficult to obtain. Only 15 percent of those polled said they strongly supported the US-led coalition.

Craig Schwarze said...

Well, I will have to look at the Post and Guardian articles later.

However, I am familiar with the Lancet study, as is anyone with an interest in Iraq. This study has been subject to severe criticism, as is mentioned in the wikipedia article. Other survey methods (some of which are mentioned in wiki) give much lower casualty reports.

Craig Schwarze said...

I don't believe that I ever said that Saddam was a nice guy did I? I don't believe that I ever defended his rule and what he did.

Well, your point is that Iraqi's were better off under Saddam. That is a *modest* defence of his rule.

Craig Schwarze said...

Ok, just read the Post article. I'm glad you prompted me to read it, as I felt it was more positive than your quotes would suggest.

The headline is "U.S. Lowers Sights On What Can Be Achieved in Iraq"

The main point of the article was that the US had unreasonably high expectations of what could be achieved in a short amount of time. They've now revised those expectations.

Reading the article, I would not get the idea that total anarchy is reigning and the whole thing is hopeless.

Craig Schwarze said...

I couldn't open the Guardian article. What I will say is that "fears" expressed by a Saudi prince don't have a lot of credibility with me. Do you really think the Saudi's want a functioning democracy in the middle east?

Craig Schwarze said...

The USA Today poll is nearly 16 months old.

The 45 percent figure in the boston.com article is surprising. But reading the article, its not clear if its 45% of all Iraqis, or just 45% of the Sunni minority. The latter would make more sense.

One Salient Oversight said...

Of course the Lancet article would be disputed. Nevertheless it hasn't been discredited.

BTW Craig, Dave and I are friends and we had a major disagreement two years ago during the invasion. Much of what Dave is raising here is what he raised two years ago.

One Salient Oversight said...

What I will say is that "fears" expressed by a Saudi prince don't have a lot of credibility with me

The guy is the foreign minister.

Click here for the full article

One Salient Oversight said...

Re: The Post article

Barbers post signs saying they do not shave men, after months of barbers being killed by religious extremists. Ethnic or religious-based militias police the northern and southern portions of Iraq. Analysts estimate that in the whole of Iraq, unemployment is 50 percent to 65 percent.

The United States had high hopes of quick, big-budget fixes for the electrical power system that would show Iraqis tangible benefits from the ouster of Hussein. But inadequate training for Iraqi staff, regional rivalries restricting the power flow to Baghdad, inadequate fuel for electrical generators and attacks on the infrastructure have contributed to the worst summer of electrical shortages in the capital.

Water is also a "tough, tough" situation in a desert country, said a U.S. official in Baghdad familiar with reconstruction issues. Pumping stations depend on electricity, and engineers now say the system has hundreds of thousands of leaks.

Sorry - but this really does sound like a nation that is getting worse and worse and worse. Yes the Americans have lowered their expectations - but the article clearly portrays a country that is failing in almost every sphere.

One Salient Oversight said...

Well, your point is that Iraqi's were better off under Saddam. That is a *modest* defence of his rule.

The equation:

If S = -5,
and U = -8,
then S > 0.

Where S = Saddam, U = US Rule, and any number above zero is a positive rule.

Highly Illogical Captain

Anonymous said...

BTW Craig, you better bet that OSO is one of my best friends — we've laughed ourselves stupid together at 1 am on a New Year's beach mission, we've cried together over teenage romances that went wrong (errgh, horrible, why did I say that?) but MOST OF ALL, we've shared both "Young Ones" and "Simpsons" episodes together. Now that counts! ;-)

One Salient Oversight said...

As far as I remember, I never had a teenage romance that went wrong...

Only because I failed to ever HAVE a teenage romance.

One Salient Oversight said...

Can you please calculate the number of Iraqi deaths under Saddam’s regime, and the number of deaths directly attributable to the actions of the United States of America? I’d also love to know how you come to the second figure, because the focus would need to be on how many the USA killed directly? How many have Muslim terrorist from outside Iraq killed in that poor country?

This will actually be a fascinating study but I've already run into a number of problems.

1. The amount killed should include Iraqis who died during the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war. The casualties for this war are very difficult to estimate.

2. There are further problems with the Iran-Iraq war. Saddam obviously was the aggressor in the campaign, but in 1982, everything that Saddam had captured in the war had been recaptured by Iran. Saddam offered a cessation in hostilities but Iran refused, saying that they wanted to destroy Iraq. From 1982-1988, Saddam was involved in fighting a war that he would have preferred not to fight. The question is - do you count the 1982-1988 Iraqi deaths as part of Saddam's official "Body Count".

3. Given that Saddam was probably supported by the US between 1980-1988 (he was able to tie up one of America's enemies quite well) should any deaths in this period of time be counted? After all, you're talking about death rates pre- and post-Saddam being compared as a basis for supporting the 2003 invasion. Surely the time to start his official body count was when he became a dictator "on his own" as it were.

4. Should deaths due to sanctions during the 1990s be counted? After all, these were imposed by other nations so, in a way, it was their "fault" in some way.

5. The Kurdish death-rate apparently is bound up with the Iran-Iraq war death rate (since the Kurds were involved in the war and supported Iran).

Paul W said...

My goodness Neil, there's over 41 comments here! You certainly know how to push the hot buttons!

I think your argument about the "Coalition of the Willing" casting out one devil and replacing him with seven worse is very much applicable to Iraq right now in terms of the future of religious freedoms there. I wonder whether the vacuum in terms of effective government will eventually be filled by an Islamic regime akin to that of Iran (which is something the Americans don't want!). For all his evil, Suddam did allow religious freedom. I fear that Iraq will come under Shariah law and ban the right for one to convert from Islam to Christianity.

By any stretch of the imagination, I don't know how such a development can an improvement or progress in any sense. Did the Evangelicals who signed the Land Letter ever forsee that Iraq after the invasion may become a state which denies freedom of religion? I can't believe they could be that naive.

One Salient Oversight said...

I fear that Iraq will come under Shariah law and ban the right for one to convert from Islam to Christianity.

By any stretch of the imagination, I don't know how such a development can an improvement or progress in any sense. Did the Evangelicals who signed the Land Letter ever forsee that Iraq after the invasion may become a state which denies freedom of religion? I can't believe they could be that naive.

From what I've seen so far, the new constitution is fairly Islamic in tone and has a very conservative view of women. It won't be Shariah, but they'll be working very hard to get to that point.

I don't think the Evangelicals who signed the Land letter thought much about anything at all. I don't think they even considered in their wildest dreams back in 2002 that Iraq would be in the mess they are in now. I'm sure they had visions of flowers and honey and dancing going on as the US troops took over Iraq.

And as far as the comments are concerned - blame my mate Dave for being a total jerk. And I mean that in true brotherly love!