Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Doing the Rumsfeld Spin.

The Bush administration has basically conceded that all the excuses they gave for the disastrous war in Iraq turned out to be false. One of those excuses was that Saddam almost had the bomb! (Where else have we heard this?)

Now Secretary of Defense (sic) Donald Rumsfeld has a new excuse. Here is a transcript of remarks he made on a Chicago radio station.

“ The fact of the matter is - if Saddam Hussein were still in power in Iraq, he would be rolling in petrol dollars. Think of the price of oil today. He would have so much money. And he would be seeing the Iranians interested in a nuclear program, he would be seeing the North Koreans developing a nuclear program, and he'd say well why shouldn't he - and he would. So we're fortunate that he's gone.

We're fortunate that the Taliban have been thrown out of Afghanistan and that 50 million people have been liberated. The situation in Iraq is difficult and people are -- the violent extremists that are trying to hijack that faith have killed an awful lot of Muslims in Iraq and elsewhere around the world.

But we now have an 80- or 90-nation coalition that is putting pressure on the terrorists, and that's a good thing. “

Let’s look at this in detail. Now the excuse is that given today’s high oil prices Saddam would be building nuclear weapons if he were still in power so it was a good thing we took him out of power when prices were low.

Did it ever occur to Rumsfeld that a major reason for the high price of oil is because the US destabilised the Middle East with this invasion. The situation is much worse there now then before the intervention and that is a major reason for high oil prices.

In addition Saddam was under sanctions limiting his ability to sell oil. But let us assume he got around the sanctions. The availability of Iraqi oil on the world market again would bring the prices down. True Saddam would have benefited had he been selling oil at today’s prices. But today’s prices wouldn’t be today’s prices if Saddam were selling oil. Apparently Rumsfeld is as economically literature as his commander in chief.

Then he brags “We now have an 80- or 90-nation coalition that is putting pressure on the terrorists, and that’s a good thing.” Obviously most nations in the world dislike terrorism and will oppose it. That is what Rumsfeld is speaking about. There is no formal coalition nor does the Bush administration have anything to do with this opposition to terrorism. If anything they are so disliked by the rest of the civilised world that many nations are more reluctant to stand up to terrorism lest they be seen as in the Bush camp.

It is good that nations oppose terrorism. But this is not the result of the invasion or efforts by Bush. It is the result of the horrific acts committed by theocratic Muslims.

Next Rummy was asked about bin Laden. Remember him? He’s the guy that Bush promised the American people would “hear” from America real soon. It hasn’t happened. Rumsfeld has an excuse. “[T]here have been people on the FBI Most Wanted List in just our country -- not the whole world, but our country for 10, 20, 30 years and they have not been found. The Department of Defense isn't organised, trained and equipped to do manhunts. Our business is armies, navies and air forces.”

Not exactly (as we shall see) but then no one spent millions of dollars to pursue them either. Surely if the US spent the resources on these most wanted individuals that was spent in Afghanistan and Iraq these individuals would have been captured. Most people on the most wanted list get captured by luck. Someone recognises them. The list merely informs police who these people are, why they wanted and what they look like. It doesn’t pour vast resources into finding these people.

The heightened awareness leads to most the apprehensions not some campaign to capture these people. Surely a concerted campaign would have better results? If Rumsfeld is relying on luck for bin Laden then the man is fool. Oops, that wasn’t even in dispute.

In fact Rumsfeld says that individuals have been on the most wanted list for up to 30 years without capture. If so then they are still on the list today. The FBI, which compiles the list says people are removed from the list for only three reasons. One is they are captured. Two, is that charges against them are dropped and the third is they no longer fit the “criteria” for inclusion and only five people were dropped from the list for that reason. So if someone has been on the run for 30 years like Rummy claims he should still be on the list.

You can find the list here.

And bin Laden is one on the list. So some of the other nine would have to been able to escape arrest for three decades, as Rumsfeld claimed. IRummy used the plural so there must be two or more of them. In fact two are long term on the run but neither has been wanted for 30 years. Not counting bin Laden we find that 5 of the top ten have been on the list for five years or less, 2 for ten years or less and only two for more more than 20 years but none for more than 30 years. It seems Rummy exaggerated a bit. Who would expect that?

Next Rumsfeld claims: “he important thing is that there's not been an attack in this country for the last five years. So if -- assuming he's alive, he's obviously very busy trying not to get caught, and everything is more difficult for them, and that's a good thing. “

Nope. But there can be many reasons for this. None of them necessarily have to do with the US war in Iraq. First, if we assume there have been no attacks because bin Laden is “very busy trying not to get caught” what does that have to do with the invasion of Iraq? Nothing. But playing hide and seek with bin Laden didn’t stop the attacks in Spain and in England. So hide and seek may not be the reason. The reason could be that no new major attacks in the US were planned. It’s hard to know why something doesn’t happen? After all if it didn’t happen then their is no evidence trail to follow.

Bin Laden was quite specific in his policy to destroy America. He never intended to rely upon attacks to accomplish this goal. His own words explain his strategy.

He brags about easy it is to “provoke this administration and to drag it” after Al-Qaida “causing America human and financial and political losses, without it accomplishing anything worthy of mention...”

It was a strategy used against the Soviets when they invaded Afghanistan. As bin Laden boasts that the dealt with the Soviets “until they went bankrupt... We are continuing in the same policy -- to make America bleed profusely to the point of bankruptcy.” The strategy is to get the White House to engage in policies that bankrupt America. And it’s working.

Osama is joyous over it. “It appeared to some analysts and diplomats as though we and the White House play as one team to score a goal against the United States of America, even though our intentions differ.” As he puts it they want a policy where one dollar they spend results in Bush spending one million in response. He said: "Even more serious for America is the fact that the Jihad fighters have recently forced Bush to resort to an emergency budget in order to continue the fighting in Afghanistan and in Iraq, which proves the success of the plan of bleeding [America] to the point of bankruptcy, Allah willing.”