Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Critical Thinking and the War in Iraq

One of the headlines in today’s Dallas Morning News is about how the administration did not release information to the public that ran counter to evidence to support an invasion of Iraq.

I don’t doubt this is true. I began to get skeptical about much of what the administration was saying and doing when after Condi Rice said, “how could anyone have imagined that terrorists would fly planes into buildings,” several intelligence documents were released that indicated that this was not a new idea. In fact, it had been discussed for several years before 9/11. As the National Security Advisor, why didn’t Condi know this?

Not too long after the war started (May, 2003), I sat down and put together a diagram of how it really didn’t make sense for the war to start in the first place. I used only information that was available to the public (not like I had access to anything classified, anyway!). It was striking to me how, if one just looked at what info was being reported in the press, one could easily arrive at a very healthy skepticism about whether the war was necessary or not. Here are some of the things that were reported that, if put together, added up to seriously questioning what we had done:

1) The forgery of the Niger “yellow cake” document and Joseph Wilson’s report
2) The plagiarized graduate student thesis about Iraq WMD that was 12 years old
3) Blix and El Baradai’s reports that nothing had been, nor was being found
4) No credible link to Al-Qaeda
5) No outcry from the Iraqi people about a desire to be “liberated” from Saddam’s rule – only ex-pats like Chalabi (a convicted felon) who were advocating for “regime change”
6) State department released a report saying that there would be NO domino effect in the Middle East if Iraq was “democratized.”
7) CIA reported that Saddam would be MORE likely to use WMD’s if attacked
8) FBI reported that a war with Iraq would INCREASE the likelihood of terrorist attacks in the US
9) CIA and Pentagon warned the administration that US troops would face significant resistance from irregulars using guerilla tactics; one general (Wallace) commented that, “we hadn’t wargamed for this.”
10) Four of the permanent members of the UN Security Council voted against the war
11) US public NOT in favor of going to war without UN support (one poll reported this at 70% at one point)
12) There are other countries that were then (and currently are) in violation of numerous UN Security Resolutions – why target Iraq? (especially in light of all of the above?)
13) Many legal scholars noted that such a war would be a violation of international law and hence, illegal

So, did the administration not tell us the whole story? I don’t know if we will ever find out. My point is that, IMO, there was enough info floating around for someone to conclude that it didn’t make sense, just from what we DID know. I don’t know how or why the administration arrived at the notion that this was a good idea, given all of the above. Sure seems to me that there was more evidence to NOT invade than there was to invade.

IMO, more reason to advocate for critical thinking in the classroom (and among the general public).

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