February 12, 2003

Let's Get Snarky!

Daniel Davies's new project: to provide us daily with a "Shorter Stephen den Beste"


As part of my New Year's Resolution to pick a really nasty fight with someone, and as a potential supply of more regular updates, I've decided to become a "watcher ". I believe that this was all the rage in weblog circles about a year ago.

Anyway, I want to do it, and nobody convinced me that there were better targets for a jihad than Stephen den Beste, so I picked him. It also helps that, as far as I can tell, he's incredibly thin-skinned (see my comments board somewhere for proof). Now, I thought of doing "Smarter Steven den Beste" (note that part of my strategy is not to use a consistent spelling of his first name), but that would probably completely dominate my blog, and besides "fisking" is like so five minutes ago. (Being a "watcher", however, is retro and cool).

Besides, people don't necessarily want a Smarter Stephen den Beste . Part of the joy is watching a man who knows nothing about anything except the innards of mobile phones trying to understand a complicated world around him with no sources of information other than the Internet. What people want is a Shorter Stephen den Beste; one that doesn't take about ten thousand words to get from A to halfway through the downstroke of B. So I'll be posting one-sentence summaries of posts on the USS Clueless, on a reasonably regular basis, until I get bored. Here's today's batch:

  • I've never served in uniform.
  • My dislike of the French is independent of any facts about the world.
  • Update: F*** me, this is gonna be more work than I thought. Here's another one: I have intricate knowledge of the command and control structure of the Iraqi Army, and astonishingly enough, the news is Good For The War Party!
  • Boy have the French f***ed up, assuming that my predictions of imminent rebellion by French Muslims and a cessation of diplomatic relations with the US are correct.
  • A quick Shorter Stephen den Beste : (actually quite a succint post, but I skimmed it for meaning): Did I tell you how we could win this without France? Oh, right.
  • After careful consideration, I have reached the conclusion that France would be unwise to enter the Gulf War on the side of Iraq by unilaterally attacking the United States of America
  • Jesus wept. It took me a whole lunch break to come up with those four jokes, and SdB has managed another thousand-worder. Summarised thus "The Germans are weasels and America is so awash with international allies it can afford to tell them so".
  • Loads of military equipment is moving around and anyone who doesn't want a war is stupid. Update: sorry, not stupid, evil.
  • I have ideas about tank warfare which I believe to be revolutionary.
  • Matthew Yglesias intervenes: The D-Squared Digest seems to have falled down on the job, so I'll do your Shorter Steven Den Beste for the day.
    1. Attack of the Clones is worse than the original Star Wars . (1,104 words in the original!)
    2. The Franco-German war alternative is bad.
    3. The UN helps terrorists and France is an enemy of the United States.
    4. The Franco-German war alternative is bad, but it mind spell domestic political trouble for John Howard and Tony Blair. (3,433 words in the original — not counting updates).
  • Update: No, f*** it, I am going to last at least a week. "The French are weasels, I like Dungeons & Dragons and when are we going to get that war I wanted" will do for Sunday's output -- obviously these three are themes which underly pretty much 99% of the entire site , but they were out in elemental form on Sunday. I have no real idea whether "I like Dungeons & Dragons" is a fair summary of the one that's illustrated with "anime" characters, but I draw the line at reading it; some things should not be asked of any man. I'm going through a bit of a long dark night of the soul on this one, as you can probably tell.
  • Update: This is getting to me. I think I've reloaded denbeste.nu about twenty times today. I'm literally getting stressed that there hasn't been an update. I'm beginning to seriously worry that SdB has more of a life than I do after all. I'm seriously thinking about quitting. I think I'm hitting the wall here. I've got to just fight through it and come out the other side. No way am I going to give up after just five days. No way. God, I think I'm actually sweating. I seriously advise anyone who feels like doing this, don't. You'd be surprised how intense it all gets after a few days' build-up.
  • Shorter and more Postmodern Stephen den Beste: Europe has no existence than as a figurative Other, forming the other half of a binary opposition to the USA. Nothing in the world truly exists except the prospect of war in Iraq, a phenomenon wholly defined by the policy of the USA, so any attempt at forming European consensus is mere deferance of the final choice. But even if the French are "with us", they are also, by essence "against us", so the final contradiction is never resolved.
  • Update:
    • Two more: a massive "I literally cannot understand why anyone might possibly object to the idea of a major war in the Middle East".
    • "People have more complicated views than simply for-us or against-us and it's Reuters' fault".
  • Update: Rereading, I think I haven't done the long post justice. It's not just monumentally obtuse about the possible motivations of France and Germany. It's also actively barking. I believe (and certainly do not propose to check) that this marks the first description of France and Germany as "active cobelligerents" of Iraq and "our enemies". Also, SdB appears to have blurred the line between his suspicion that France and Germany have been secretly helping Saddam build weapons of mass destruction, and the real world.
  • So I retract the summary above and substitute: "The administration which couldn't produce a smoking gun in the case of Iraq is now going to produce one for France and Germany".
  • The reason Americans don't get on with Europeans is that Europeans are such liars; this is why they haven't accepted some hypothetical self-consistent subset of the Bush administration's case for was on Iraq.
  • alotofmilitaryhardwareisonthemoveandreutersareshillsforyasserarafat.
  • We must invade Iraq because Saddam's weapons of mass destruction are a threat to us, and we will win because Saddam's weapons of mass destruction are no threat to us.
  • I don't like someone else's screen name
  • The French will say that "war is the last resort", and they will be wrong.
  • I am in a position to criticise other people for poor English.
  • Why do the Iraqis bother, we're going to invade them anyway?
  • Update: He thinks he can break me by taking advantage of my weekend break to put up like about a hundred comments. But he can't:
  • If Le Monde don't understand why we want to bomb Iraq, they should take a trip to Southern Manhattan.
  • Oh, they did. What a bunch of patronising bastards they are for saying so.
  • Time to declare war on France!
  • Time to declare war on France!
  • Turkey aren't co-operating ... clearly the French are behind it!
  • We are being diplomatically outmanouevered by the French!
  • Saddam's missiles represent a very real threat because their range is long enough to reach troops stationed extremely close to his borders.
  • Time to declare war on France!
  • I haven't included bits that were just two-sentence comments on news stories; perhaps a reader with some Python skills will construct a program that downloads random feeds from Yahoo news, and appends the sentence "Sometimes I read things that just make my blood boil" to the beginning and "Time to declare war on France!" to the end. But I have to post this final summary because I think that, via subtext, den Beste is crying out for help. He doesn't want to continue this dance of death that me and him have got into, so he's begun serving me up short lobs to smack to the boundary.
  • I used to play Go rather heavily. It's an interesting and very complex game, one famous for the fact that the rules of the game are easy to learn but tell you nothing about how you should play. Now here are some of my opinions.
  • Update: This can't be accidental. Either he's playing with me or crying for help. I can't believe anyone would just accidentally juxtapose these two:
  • It's incredibly tragic when young men die in easily preventable ways for no good reason.
  • Time to start a war right now!
  • In related news, I think I'm going to try to keep count of the number of times SdB uses his favourite analogy to mobile phones; that, just as you sometimes have to ship a really crappy mobile phone product which isn't ready in order to meet a deadline because marketing is on you ass, sometimes you have to start a pre-emptive war of aggression without the support of anyone else in the world and before you have deployed your troops properly because ... sometimes you have to ship a really crappy mobile phone because marketing is on your ass. Or something. There's a particularly good example today.
  • In unrelated news, a number of people have requested "links" to the specific posts being summarised. No. I refuse to "dumb down" this service; the kind of person who can't work out which summary refers to which SdB post without being spoonfed a link is, frankly, going to have a hard time mastering the relationship between Ezra Pound, Marxist accumulation theory and endogenous-money economics, and thus should probably go off and read another blog.
  • Furthermore, this is a *summary* service, meant to *replace* USS Clueless.
  • I've never heard of anything so silly as to read a summary and then go and read the full length version "to check if the summary was right". If you want to read USS Clueless, then go ahead. Allow yourself. It's OK. You don't need to make excuses like "checking up on d-squared digest". You're still a good person.
  • Matthew Yglesias intervenes again:
    • The rest of us need to pick up the slack on the Shorter Steven Den Beste project.
    • Seems to me that US rox! UN sux! nicely sums up his latest entry. The fact that these absurd rants are taken seriously is, I think, the achilles heel of the blogosphere.
    • UPDATE: I see he's also got a post arguing for the novel proposition that the French are arrogant and bad.
  • Coffee-break length Steven den Beste

    Well, SSdB has been quite a success, by the admittedly low standards I set for it. I've lasted long enough to be able to give up at any point with a semblance of self-respect, and it apparently drew a few favourable notices, if my obsessive and constant vanity searches are anything to go by. This isn't a valedictory, by the way; I aim to keep it going for the forseeable future, both as a source of updates and as an incentive to myself to keep coming up with new material to balance things out (I'd also invite any SdB fans who are frustrated by the lack of a comments board to use mine, and perhaps to request that my regular readers don't gang up on them if they choose to do so). But I thought I'd post a few thoughts on what I've learned from the exercise.

    1) To be honest, I thought it would be a chore, but I've grown to rather like the daily read of USS Clueless. The posts are still way, way too long, but they are always very well-informed from a factual point of view and in general well written, and I am hardly in a position to complain about sheer length. I've also substantially warmed toward the author over the last two weeks, and I don't think that it's purely a case of Stockholm Syndrome. My only previous experience of reading SdB was when the left wing blogosphere linked to something absolutely outrageous (like the infamous "kill the Palestinians" post), and that's actually a pretty unfair way to judge a body of work. When you read it on a daily basis, you get a sense of the overall Weltanschaung and you can put things in context. I still think that the authorial tone of USS Clueless is extremely cold and lacking in fellow-feeling, but you don't get the overpowering sense of selfishness that jumps out of most right-wing blogs. I now take SdB's claim to be "neither left nor right" a bit more seriously; I think he's someone with right-wing instincts (a little touch of Adorno's f-type personality), but who is intelligent and open to most forms of reasoned argument. I was also pleasantly surprised at the calibre of posters to the comments board which the SdB link attracted, as I mentioned in comments. None of the above should be taken as any assumption on my part that SdB cares more about my opinion than does an elephant about the opinion of a flea, by the way.

    2) I found myself ruminating about geek culture, science fiction and right wing politics a lot over the last couple of weeks. One thing I'd note is that the defining characteristic of science fiction is that it's escapist; it invites the reader to imagine himself in the place of the characters in the novel. Compare that to, for example, Jane Austen, where the invitation is to empathise with the reactions and feelings of one of the characters as themselves, rather than imaging how you might react if you were Elizabeth Darcy. This is at the root of my dissatisfaction with even left wing techno-types; they don't seem to have developed the capacity to imagine a scene or way of life without putting themselves in it; to consider what it would be like to see the world through someone else's eyes, rather than being in someone else's situation with their own set of values and judgements. And I think that this failure of imagination, or something like it, is at the root of the problem of what I find bothersome about USS Clueless.

    3) Finally, there's the elements of sheer lunacy which crop up with hilarious regularity. Mainly, the wild-eyed speculation about the French conspiracy (not too strong a word), or the painstaking, Zapruderesque reconstruction of what set of bizarre through-the-looking-glass circumstances might turn everything the US Government does into a series of strategic masterstrokes rather than a painful fiasco. I have my own theory about these ... bear with me ...

    About five years ago, I happened to be, as I often was, visiting New York on business. Between meetings, a colleague and I popped into a branch of Starbucks (this was a novelty, because, believe it or not, Starbucks had no UK presence before 1999, when they took over the 40-odd outlets of the "Seattle Coffee Company" in what I still regard as the worst abuse of pooling-of-interests accounting ever). I noticed that the sizes of cups went something like "Short, Tall, Grande, Venti". I happen to know that "Venti" isn't another Italian word for "big", so I inquired what size it was. It's a 20-ounce cup (and is thus a pure Americanism; the Italians wouldn't call it "Venti" because they don't measure things in fluid ounces. God this is all getting like Pulp Fiction isn't it?). It was at that time that I idly wondered the following thought:

    I wonder whether it is particularly healthy to drink a pint and a quarter of coffeee in one go, particularly when that coffee is the foul-tasting, high-caffeine kind which Starbucks appears to be using? (I was nursing a particularly nasty espresso at the time) Has any real research been done on this subject? I wonder what the effect on American society will be of a few years of this sort of caffeine intake?


    And my theory is, not to put to fine a point on it, that USS Clueless might be on the way to providing an answer to my question. Engineers on mobile phone projects drink a lot of coffee, full stop. And a lot of the longer and more barking SdB posts really do have the air of the kind of wild speculations that you find yourself engaging on when you're up against a tight deadline, full of information and with your brain chemistry slightly altered. Even if SdB himself is a Mormon or doesn't drink caffeine for some other reason (I have no information on this score), the point is still there; a lot of the fevered imaginings of the whole blogosphere seem to partake of a somewhat overstimulated hallucinatory-paranoid reverie.

    This is quite serious stuff, by the way. Cultures have, as a matter of extermely arguable historical fact, been brought down by overindulgence in their drug of choice. Opium did a lot of damage to Persian and Chinese civilisation, for example. I really worry, on quiet nights with a glass of wine in my hand and looking out at the stars over London ... am I going to be part of the generation that ends up having to deal with the geopolitical consequences of the world's greatest superpower (a superpower which has always had a very problematic relationship with drugs) finally finding a chemical it truly wants to get fucked up on?
  • Turkey has been given genuine defensive assistance rather than the massive Kurd-destroying force de frappe it asked for, and this is a defeat for the French in some way.
  • Reality television is horrible, particularly in its treatment of homophobic murderers.
  • Eveery single op-ed cliche about the European Union is true.
  • The Gaullist Jacques Chirac worships Karl Marx.
  • Note: SdB fans who are also engineers will be aware of the problem of "compressing white noise" from Shannon & Wiener's information theory. The point being that (say) a computer file of completely random numbers can't be compressed to a smaller size, because the way that you compress things is by taking advantage of their internal structure to eliminate redundant points. Because a file of completely random data doesn't *have* any internal structure, there is no file that you can create which describes the data fully, which is shorter than the file itself. That's what writing today's summary was like. Apologies that the two tries above aren't very good; this isn't my fault, it's the Second Law of Thermodynamics.
  • How could I be "right wing"? I believe in evolution!
  • Hmmmm, looks like some of those diplomatic masterstrokes weren't so clever after all. Time for unilateral war!
  • (seasoned SdB watchers will notice that these posts used to end "time to reveal our smoking gun dossier / the evidence that France has been smuggling weapons / the true identity of the Hooded Claw!". Looks like this claim has been dropped, and the rationale is back to "because we can".)
  • Residents of Berkeley might like to know that there is 1 (one) joke about your town being nuked. In fact, anyone else might like to be aware of this, as it offers useful context for exactly how much of a fuck SdB actually gives about the victims of terrorism when they aren't being wheeled on and off stage to provide a handy moral justification for wars of aggression. Note also in this context that when one says "I'd rather be hated by everyone than have one of our cities nuked", that it's not exactly an either / or situation. Finally note that this paragraph constitutes a roughly 150 word summary of a ten word original; I am still plagued by the philosophical ramifications of Shannon's information theory.
Posted by DeLong at February 12, 2003 08:55 AM | TrackBack
Comments

Brad, I believe you missed a "f***ed" (fourth bullet).

From your friendly neighborhood once and future copyeditor....

Posted by: Matt Weiner on February 12, 2003 09:10 PM

In France the spirt of Vichy is alive. Cowardice, corruption and decadence. They are beneath comtempt. Chirac is a total sleazeball. Bush should tell those surrender monkeys to go foutre themselves.

Oh, don'r worry, they'll join the coalition about a day before we take Baghdad.

Posted by: Joe Willingham on February 12, 2003 10:05 PM

–signed "no sense of humor" man

Posted by: xian on February 12, 2003 11:16 PM

I tend to believe that both France and Germany have secrets to hide concerning Iraq. They most likely sold the necessary technology to produce weapons of mass destruction. The United States and its allies will take control of Iraq no later than the end of next month. It will be interesting what is found in Saddam Hussein's secret files.

We should all be boycotting imports from these two sleazy countries. Heck, I’m even thinking about eating at MacDonald’s just to spite the French.

Posted by: David Thomson on February 13, 2003 05:32 AM

wow, this Davies fellow is some kind of bitter. I don't even know the blog he is attacking but if he doesn't like it, don't read it or attack on the substance. I'm surprised you even wasted the space to spread this nonsense. What's next "taunts overheard at Robinson Elementary School?", "Secret tapes of NFL trash talk?" Blech.

Posted by: Quiet Storm on February 13, 2003 06:39 AM

I've known Steven for many years and can attest that he has a fine sense of humor. It hurts him a little when envious people attack him with short, lazy, hurtful little snippets, but he considers the source. I've never known a finer human being.

Posted by: mary rosh on February 13, 2003 07:55 AM

yeah, that's so 80's :P someone should do steven da rasta, mon!

Posted by: kenny on February 13, 2003 08:11 AM

http://www.80s.com/cgi-bin/valley.cgi?url=http://denbeste.nu
keke

Posted by: kenny on February 13, 2003 08:13 AM

>> I tend to believe that both France and Germany have secrets to hide concerning Iraq. They most likely sold the necessary technology to produce weapons of mass destruction. <<

Well, that's because you're ignorant, deluded and prejudiced to the point of racism.

Number one: Donald Rumsfeld led the US delegation that supplied Saddam with anthrax to use on the bad bad Iranians.
Number two: every hear of 'Matrix Churchill'?

(http://intellit.muskingum.edu/uk_folder/ukpostcwmatrix.html)

As the late Bill Hicks said of the US government's policy after the 1991 Gulf War:

"We know that Saddam Hussein has terrible weapons, terrible terrible weapons."
"How do you know?"
"Well... we looked at the receipts."

(Also: I've known Mr D-Squared for many years and can attest that he too has a fine sense of humor, and furthermore, has a perspective on the world that I respect. He can also beat me blind at pool. And he gets the drinks in.)

Posted by: nick sweeney on February 13, 2003 08:15 AM

The work is trivial and derivative. Grade F.

Posted by: OToole on February 13, 2003 09:07 AM

"It's the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine." R.E.M.

The president's budget proposes a huge deficit without even taking into account a possible war. The president has consistently failed to articulate a consistent justification for war. The president is rolling back environmental protections across the country. The president has cut family planning funding for foreign countries. The AIDS money the president promised will come from slashing the budgets for other health projects in Africa. The president is attempting one of the most blatant attempts at court-packing since FDR. The president has utterly bungled the crisis in North Korea, successfully alienating the Japanese, South Koreans, Chinese and Russians all at the same time. The President has successfully alienated European allies who have a tremendous amount to contribute to a war on terror. (For the complete idiots out there, the French goverment including a few incredibly brave magistrates have done amazing amounts of work tracing Al Q and other terrorist funding throughout Europe.) The President's neo-con military advisors made gross errors in the Afghanistan campaign. The president has betrayed the goverment of Hamid Karzai in providing significant nation-building funds. The president betrayed Pakistan on a promise to slash textile tariffs. Despite the clear evidence that the presence of US troops in Saudi Arabia substantially contributed to the growth and radicalization of Al Q, the president is proposing a long-term military occupation of Iraq. The President is likely to betray the Kurds, much like his father did. And so forth.

With all this going on, there is a war-porn electrical engineer writing sci-fi columns about how smart bombs and Barbie dolls will cause the quick downfall of Saddam and the rise of a pro-Western populace, without any apparent evidence to suggest that he knows what he's talking about. And commenters here are pissed off because the engineer is getting mocked by a finance professor who actually has an understanding as to why the French are acting the way they are?

People, get a grip. Dx2 is very funny, and if you cannot see that, have a couple of strong drinks and try again. In dark times as these, a sense of humor is essential.

Posted by: FDL on February 13, 2003 09:43 AM

Crikey. I never realised I swore so much.

Posted by: dsquared on February 13, 2003 11:35 AM

dsquared: that was very, very funny. I couldn't breathe for a couple of seconds.

Posted by: JT on February 13, 2003 12:04 PM

I love d-squared! Even though as a former stock broker my understanding of finance can be reduced to "don't buy on margin", I still read his theories on finance/economics. The asides alone are worth the price of admission.

Posted by: vachon on February 13, 2003 12:49 PM

"I tend to believe that both France and Germany have secrets to hide concerning Iraq. They most likely sold the necessary technology to produce weapons of mass destruction. <<

Well, that's because you're ignorant, deluded and prejudiced to the point of racism."

Racism? I am a white dude whose ancestors were born in Germany. Oh well, I guess that makes me some sort of self hating German. Can I help it that the land of my forefathers is run by a bunch of scum bags?

Posted by: David Thomson on February 13, 2003 02:03 PM

>I tend to believe that both France and Germany have secrets to hide concerning Iraq

Quite possibly. But consider: if you were Iraq, wouldn't you try to implicate as many Western countries in your arming as possible? And maybe you did, but maybe you implicated one country too many-- anybody wanna guess what was in those 8K pages that (and how quickly our news media forgets) the the United States of America redacted from the Iraqi self-report???

FYI: You display all the symptoms of a xenophobe, not a racist, if that makes you feel better.

Posted by: a different chris on February 13, 2003 03:15 PM

Can I help it that the land of my forefathers is run by a bunch of scum bags?

You can help not being one yourself, if you only make the effort.

Way to dodge, also.

Posted by: nick sweeney on February 13, 2003 03:31 PM

For those who might actually have a serious interest in who has ulterior motives regarding Iraqi oil, I recommend Northwestern's Lynne Kiesling (clearly more astute than DD):

http://knowledgeproblem.blogspot.com/2003_02_09_knowledgeproblem_archive.html#90319107

From which:

--------quote----------
When France and Germany opposed further US/UN military activity and
encouraged further inspections, I thought "well, that gives France time to
suck more oil out of the ground on their existing contracts with the current
Iraqi regime." But I didn't think much more about it beyond that.

Then Russia voiced opposition. Russia is the other country with a developed
oil industry that has E&D contracts with Iraq, not to mention also being
Iraq's largest creditor.

Then, this week, China chimed in with its opposition. China also has
contracts with the existing Iraqi regime to develop Iraqi fields, and with
such a large population and no domestic oil deposits, they are probably a
bit wiggy about securing energy supplies.

[snip]

[The Sydney Morning Herald reported:] "Energy-importer China has a big stake
in Iraqi oil, also, having signed long-term contracts with Baghdad that give
it virtual ownership of huge undeveloped oil fields in the country."

[A] National Post (Canada) commentary by Lawrence Solomon summarizes the
issue nicely, including a discussion of the Doctrine of Odious Debts.

"The Doctrine of Odious Debts, though it has been little used, is well known
to France, Russia and the United States. The doctrine originated a century
ago with the Spanish-American War, when the United States repudiated Cuba's
Spanish debts, saying they were "imposed upon the people of Cuba without
their consent and by force of arms." Furthermore, the Americans argued
successfully, much of the borrowing was designed to crush attempts by the
Cuban population to revolt against their domination, and was spent in a
manner contrary to their interest.

"After the Russian Revolution of 1917, when the Bolsheviks attempted to
repudiate Russia's debts indiscriminately, the Doctrine of Odious Debts was
developed to determine which debts were legitimate and which illegitimate.
This work was conducted by Alexander Nahum Sack, a professor of law in
Paris, who authored two major works on the obligations of successor systems
and coined the phrase, 'dettes odieuses.' According to the doctrine, the
debts accumulated by despots were 'personal' to the despot, giving lenders
no recourse: 'The creditors have committed a hostile act with regard to the
people; they can't therefore expect that a nation freed from a despotic
power assume the 'odious' debts, which are personal debts of that power.' "
---------endquote---------

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on February 13, 2003 03:50 PM

"FYI: You display all the symptoms of a xenophobe, not a racist, if that makes you feel better."

Yep, Jay Leo and I are indeed xenophobes:

“The jokes have taken on a life of their own. Americans love them. For instance, Jay Leno says it's no surprise the French won't help us get Saddam Hussein out of Iraq. They didn't help us get Germany out of France, either. Still, it's essential for them to join us in the war against Iraq. They can teach the Iraqis how to surrender.

And why are French streets tree-lined? So the Germans can march in the shade. How many Frenchmen does it take to defend Paris? No one knows. It's never been tried. What do you call 100,000 Frenchmen with their hands up? The army. How many gears does a French tank have? Five, four in reverse and one forward (in case of attack from behind). FOR SALE: French rifles . . . never fired, only dropped once.”

http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/002/237chtif.asp

Posted by: David Thomson on February 13, 2003 03:55 PM

For those of you who think somehow France and Germany will be implicated in WMD production don't hold your breath. Iraq's WMD program fot a huge leg up from the US in the 80's. We, for example, are the ones that supplied anthrax. When they were using these weapons against Kurds Reagan vetoed a congressional reso on genocide-mostly because Iraq had become a major consumer our ag products. Could this be why there is so little support? Inconsistency?
.

Posted by: Lawrence on February 13, 2003 06:22 PM

Some comments on FDL's post:

"(For the complete idiots out there, the French goverment including a few incredibly brave magistrates have done amazing amounts of work tracing Al Q and other terrorist funding throughout Europe.)"

This is true. Not all the French are surrender monkeys by any means. Those magistrates will no doubt continue their work whatever role their government does or doesn't play in the invasion of Iraq. They are patriots serving their country well.

"The President's neo-con military advisors made gross errors in the Afghanistan campaign."

Like most military campaigns in human history this one was not error free. But it was far from the disaster predicted by the liberal press. It was short and American and civilian casualties were low, but the chief bad guy and some of his henchmen got away.

"The president has betrayed the goverment of Hamid Karzai in providing significant nation-building funds."

To build a nation Karzai needs to get control of the country away from the tribal warlords. Maybe he needs more money to hire more soldiers. The Europeans and the Japanese should chip in too.

"The president betrayed Pakistan on a promise to slash textile tariffs."

Pakistan should be allowed to sell textiles duty free into the US market, and South Carolina should be told to get stuffed. Bill Clinton was a gutsy free trader. Bush is a wimp on trade. If only John McCain were president!

"Despite the clear evidence that the presence of US troops in Saudi Arabia substantially contributed to the growth and radicalization of Al Q, the president is proposing a long-term military occupation of Iraq."

One good thing about invading Iraq and setting up bases there will be that it will enable us to get our troops out of Saudi Arabia. They aren't welcome there. They will be welcomed by the majority of Iraqis, at least for a while. Iraq is a very different country from Saudi Arabia. There are a lot more secular, pragmatic people in Iraq there are in Saudi Arabia. SA is the belly of the fundamentalist beast.

"The President is likely to betray the Kurds, much like his father did. And so forth."

George Bush the Elder ought to be in jail for what he did to the Kurds. George the Younger has made it clear to the Kurds that they will not have an independent state, but that they will have a place in the new Iraq, which will be a multiethnic federal republic. If George Dubya screws this one up he will end up a failed presdent like his father, and he knows it. He is determined to stay the course.

Posted by: Joe Willingham on February 13, 2003 09:04 PM

Betrayal of the Kurds Part V, coming soon to a war in Iraq:

"American diplomats are engaged in delicate negotiations here that could allow tens of thousands of Turkish soldiers to occupy part of northern Iraq behind an advancing American army, Turkish and Kurdish officials said today.

A United States official confirmed that the negotiations were under way, but said that the Turks would be restricted to a limited area close to the border and that the numbers discussed by the Turks and Kurds were exaggerated.

The plan, which is being negotiated in closed-door meetings in Ankara, the Turkish capital, is being bitterly resisted by at least some leaders of Iraq's Kurdish groups, who fear that Turkey's leaders may be trying to realize a historic desire to dominate the region in a post-Saddam Hussein Iraq. The Kurdish officials say they fear a military intervention by the Turks could also prompt Iran to cross the border and try to seize sections of eastern Iraq.

American diplomats and senior military commanders, led by President Bush's special envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, are said to be encouraging the Kurdish leaders to accept the Turkish proposal. While Washington has strongly supported the autonomous Kurdish region in Iraq over the past 12 years, it is eager to secure the permission of Turkey's leaders to use Turkey's bases for a possible attack on Iraq.

[snip]

But statements by Turkish officials suggested that their plans might be more ambitious. A Turkish official confirmed today that his government was planning to send troops into northern Iraq in numbers that would exceed those dispatched by the Americans.

The Turkish officials echoed comments made Wednesday by the Turkish prime minister, Abdullah Gul. He suggested that the Turkish Army's role would go beyond humanitarian concerns to protecting Turkish interests in the region.

[snip]

The senior official with the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan said the Kurds were eagerly anticipating the arrival of American soldiers, but not that of the Turks.

"We regard America as liberators," the official said. "And our neighbors as looters."

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/02/07/international/europe/07TURK.html?ex=1045285200&en=bf2332707d1c5d90&ei=5062&partner=GOOGLE

Posted by: ben on February 13, 2003 10:06 PM

>>[American troops] will be welcomed by the majority of Iraqis, at least for a while<<

I hesitate to point out to my American friends that this is what you thought about the Vietnamese, who you were also attempting to save from totalitarianism with the best of motives.

Posted by: dsquared on February 13, 2003 10:54 PM

"Pakistan should be allowed to sell textiles duty free into the US market, and South Carolina should be told to get stuffed. Bill Clinton was a gutsy free trader. Bush is a wimp on trade. If only John McCain were president!"

I prefer George W. Bush over John McCain. Still, it is fair to say that Bill Clinton had more guts when it came to free trade. I have often praised the previous Democrat President when he deserved it. There's no reason to stop now.

Posted by: David Thomson on February 13, 2003 10:58 PM

"I hesitate to point out to my American friends that this is what you thought about the Vietnamese, who you were also attempting to save from totalitarianism with the best of motives."

Yep, and the evil North Vietnamese were able to murder its enemies and impose a totalitarian government on those sad people. We will make sure that this does not happen in Iraq. Indeed, those who fail to learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them.

I guess Dsquare is part French, and has no interest whatsoever in giving up his soft lifestyle to ensure that the world will be a better place. After all, there are many bottles of champage to drink. Does he perhaps live someplace in the British isles---or in a Paris suburb?

Posted by: David Thomson on February 13, 2003 11:06 PM

>>Yep, and the evil North Vietnamese were able to murder its enemies and impose a totalitarian government on those sad people. We will make sure that this does not happen in Iraq. >Indeed, those who fail to learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them. <<

Back of the class, then ....

Posted by: dsquared on February 14, 2003 05:53 AM

" Back of the class, then ...."

Is that where they put those who know their history, so the teacher can keep an eye on those who refuse to confront reality? David Thompson is exactly right, it was only when U.S. troops were removed from S.E. Asia that the bloodbath could begin in earnest.

I seem to remember that France had a hand in creating this problem too. They handed down their defeatist attitudes to the Jane Fondas of the world, and millions died as a result. But, of course, this time the Soviet Union isn't around to prop up the enemy.

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on February 14, 2003 09:26 AM

I am not about to defend the government of North Vietnam, but there is not a good connection between Iraq and Vietnam. America was NOT trying to save the Vietnamese from totalitarianism, America was picking one totalitarian group (the tyrants in Saigon)over another totalitarian group (the communist tyrants in Hanoi). Things in Iraq can only go well if the U.S. tries to bring freedom there. If Bush inserts a pro-American dictator there will be bad times coming.

Posted by: Dan Jordan on February 14, 2003 11:02 AM

The point I was trying to make, TweedleDavid and TweedlePatrick, was that, however good the Americans were, and however bad the North Vietnamese, the fact remains that the Vietnamese didn't actually welcome the Americans with open arms. And similarly, no matter how well-intentioned the occupying troops, and no matter how awful Saddam, it is dangerous to assume that the Iraqis will do anything different.

Feel free to give us a few excerpts from the "Black Book of Communism", however, it's an expensive book and I realise you've got to amortise it over as many posts as possible.

Posted by: dsquared on February 14, 2003 11:25 AM

Latest news is that the U.S. plans to set up a U.S. military government in Baghdad after Saddam Hussein is overthrown, a move which has already outraged a couple of Iraqui opposition groups. Well, that's about what you can expect of the current gang in charge of U.S. policy--they've never been fans for true democracy or secularism, witness their support for the various loony groups they financed to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan.

By the way, Messrs. Sullivan, Thomson, Willingham, the people who ordered U.S. soldiers to fight in Vietnam and then to retreat out of Vietnam were not named Fonda, Hayden, Hoffman, or Ali. More like McNamara, Sorensen, Kissinger, and yes, Johnson and Nixon. If you want to be literal, the people who had us pull out, and thus "lost" the war, were Kissinger and Nixon. As usual, though, the buck always stops with the pacifist left.

Posted by: andres on February 14, 2003 02:44 PM

The following excerpt from an article in National Review Online by Professor of Classics Victor Davis Hanson says it all. Note his praise of Bill Clinton and Madeleine Albright, not something one expects to see in the National Review.

"PREEMPTION AND UNILATERALISM
After Vietnam, Americans were chastised into conceding that preemption and unilateralism were things of the past. Then we learned of slaughter in Bosnia and Kosovo — committed by Europeans and tolerated by Europeans. Mr. Clinton did not make the argument that Mr. Milosevic threatened the U.S. — imagine the outraged reaction, had Madeleine Albright with slides and intercepts proved that Serbia was seeking gas and germs that could threaten Americans.

"Instead, we adopted preemption — unilaterally, without Congressional approval, and quite apart from U.N. decrees — and bombed Serbian fascists into submission. In fact, Mr. Clinton and Ms. Albright ordered bombs to be dropped almost everywhere — Kosovo, Belgrade, the Sudan, and, yes (remember General Zinni's 1998 Operation Desert Fox) — Iraq. I suppose the moral lesson caught on, and so now we are doing the same once more to Saddam Hussein. Thanks in part to Mr. Clinton, unilateralism and preemption to try to protect us in advance, while saving innocents from monsters — in Bosnia, Kosovo, Somalia, and Haiti — are now good, while the wobbliness and moral equivocation of multilateralism and U.N. approval are deemed bad. Or at least I think they are.

"What accounts for these transparent contradictions? The fact that the U.N. building in New York was not reduced to rubble? Or that — so far — the Louvre has escaped a hijacked suicide Airbus? But these paradoxes become explicable if you remove the element of deductive anti-Americanism or, at home, the anti-Bush subtext. Keep that and there are no contradictions at all — only deep and age-old motives like envy, jealousy, rivalry, pride, fear, and insecurity.

"The U.N. beats up on the United States because it accepts that — unlike China or Syria — we are predictable, honorable, and committed to acting morally. Thus it finds psychic reassurance and a sense of puffed-up self-importance — on the cheap — by remonstrating with an America that wishes to stop a criminal regime from spreading havoc, rather than worrying about the demise of million of Tibetans, Syria's brutal creation of the puppet state of Lebanon, or Africans who complain that France has, without consultation, determined their fate. It is always better for a debating society to lecture those who listen than those who do not.

"So too a petulant, though wealthy, Germany and South Korea resent their dependence as American protectorates, reflecting their own sense of impotence through face-saving unease with the same benefactors who kept psychopaths like Milosevic and Kim Jong II out of their comfortable and opulent havens. Gnash your teeth at an American who saved Germany, never a Russian who tried to flatten it — the ex-KGB Putin is now more welcome in Berlin than is the ex-NATO official Mr. Rumsfeld. And so it goes. A lip-biting Clinton's bombing of a mass murderer is one thing; a Texas-drawling, Bible-reading Bush is another.

"Still, besides the revelation of hypocrisy, the effect of all this has also been quite remarkable in creating a growing sense of American solidarity — precisely in terms of being so unlike those who criticize us. Has anti-anti-Americanism fueled a growing new sense of Americanism? We owe the U.N., the EU, the radical Islamic world, Mr. Mandela, the French, the Germans, and a host of others, I think, some thanks in this hour of crisis. By reminding us so often that they are not like us and often don't like us, we of all political persuasions and backgrounds finally are remembering that they were perhaps right all along — we really are a very different people."

Posted by: Joe Willingham on February 14, 2003 06:27 PM

I don't think the article says it all. The Kosovo campaign was more an example of multilateralism than unilateralism. Although the U.S. did not bother to get UN support (and Clinton did not bother to get Congressional approval), the U.S. did act in concert with its allies. The U.S. had NATO support in Kosovo, and troops from different NATO countries are involved in the "peacekeeping" today. Hell, the U.S. even let Russia participate, although it did not have to. This is a poor example of unilateralism.

Posted by: ben on February 14, 2003 06:57 PM

>This is a poor example of unilateralism.

Ben, you have a good point. On the other hand the attack on Iraq won't really be unilateral either. Most of the European countries, except France, Belgium, Germany and Russia are siding with the US. For that matter, most Arab countries are either siding with us openly or giving us a wink behind the scenes. Even the Arab street, while of course deploring the aggression of the wicked infidel Americans, is lukewarm in its enthusiasm for Saddam Hussein.

Saddam's time is up. Let's get it over with ASAP.

Posted by: Joe Willingham on February 14, 2003 08:15 PM

Let me put a challenge to you Saddam Hussein fans. On the one side we have Baathist secular fascism in uneasy alliance with Bin Laden’s fundamentalist Islam. On the other side we have democracy and free markets, basically the liberalism of the last four hundred years that has triumphed in the US and to an increasing extent in other parts of the world.

Why do you think Baathist fascism and Islamic fundamentalism will succeed where their predecessors have failed? Have you given any thought to the possibility that you might be betting on the wrong horse?

Posted by: Joe Willingham on February 14, 2003 11:32 PM

For chrissakes, Joe, I doubt a single "Saddam Hussein fan" posts here.

In Bosnia/Kosovo, the US waged war in multilateral negotiations with the other great powers and NATO. In Iraq, it looks like we'll be waging war with one other great power (the UK), parts of NATO (the least powerful parts), and.....yeah.

Posted by: Jason McCullough on February 15, 2003 06:05 AM

"For chrissakes, Joe, I doubt a single "Saddam Hussein fan" posts here."

There are no Saddam fans, why is why, given his history and behavior, I am puzzled by the fact that so few in this forum support overthrowing him by force. The claim is made that western intervention would upset the Arabs. I think that protest would be muted. Saddam seems to have lost a lot of his popularity.

"In Bosnia/Kosovo, the US waged war in multilateral negotiations with the other great powers and NATO. In Iraq, it looks like we'll be waging war with one other great power (the UK), parts of NATO (the least powerful parts), and.....yeah."

Why do you suppose this is the case? Given the failure of Saddam to comply with any of the UN resolutions against him, the French and German position is unreasonable and arbitrary. Iraq under Saddam Hussein is a greater menace to regional and world peace and security than was Serbia under Slobdan Milosevic.

If the UN fails to authorize the use of force against Saddam Hussein, it will make itself irrelevant, just as the League of Nations did in the 1930's.

Posted by: Joe Willingham on February 15, 2003 08:16 AM

"In Bosnia/Kosovo, the US waged war in multilateral negotiations with the other great powers and NATO. In Iraq, it looks like we'll be waging war with one other great power (the UK), parts of NATO (the least powerful parts), and.....yeah."

So what? Our foreign policy should not be based on being popular with the idiots of the world. Why should we care about receiving the adulation of silly nations like France and Germany? Their leaders are morally bankrupt and unworthy of respect.

Also, it appears that someone prefers ignoring the fact that Bill Clinton had to push the envelope with the Old Europeans during the Balkans' crisis. Heck, just ask the host of this website, Brad DeLong. I believe that he has first hand information to share with us pertaining to the disgraceful behavior of these so-called European allies.

Posted by: David Thomson on February 15, 2003 11:11 AM

If Victor Davis Hanson is now acceptable quotation material, may I quote from Sesame Street if the need arises?

Posted by: aloysius on February 15, 2003 01:24 PM

Just because they don't agree with you and you can't understand why doesn't mean they support Saddam, Joe.

Posted by: Jason McCullough on February 15, 2003 04:23 PM

You are kidding.

Those are snippets of Groucho Marx dialogue, right?

Posted by: John Ståhle on February 15, 2003 06:00 PM

"Just because they don't agree with you and you can't understand why doesn't mean they support Saddam, Joe"

Jason, I've already backed off from that silly remark. Hey, even the most brilliant thinkers of the neoconservative school slip up occasionally and end up sounding like Rush Limbaugh or Ann Coulter!

Posted by: Joe Willingham on February 15, 2003 06:32 PM

David Thomson is right about Kosovo. Earlier the Europeans stood by while Milosevic slaughtered the Bosnian Muslims. The Europeans keep putting the bad mouth on us, but when they get into a mess we have to solve it for them.

I'd bet there are a lot of boys in Bosnia and Croatia named "Clinton".

It's too bad that President Bush lacks Mr. Clinton's charm and gift of the gab. Mr. Bush is not good at talking to people not of his own political persuasion. Maybe that's part of the problem.

Posted by: Joe Willingham on February 15, 2003 06:45 PM

" The Europeans keep putting the bad mouth on us"

Wrong!
Not on you, not on our old friend the US, but on Bush and his administration.

Bush somehow reminds us of Breshnev; the motto of Rumsfeld and his likes appears to be: 'If you do not support us without reservations, you are The Enemy.'.

The present US administration tells us to stop thinking. These mental giants will do all the thinking for us.

Posted by: John Ståhle on February 16, 2003 07:20 AM

"Mr. Bush is not good at talking to people not of his own political persuasion. Maybe that's part of the problem."

I agree with that. Europe's always been convincable, but I don't think Bush II has gone about this like Bush I would have.

Posted by: Jason McCullough on February 16, 2003 07:40 AM

What the "thinking" of the German and French governments is that is leading them to destroy NATO in order to bail out Saddam Hussein is hard to fathom.

The Germans have made nonsense of UN Resolution 1441 by saying that they won't support the use of force against Saddam under any circumstances. The French seem determined to oppose the US for the sake of opposing the US, even though their policy undermines the authority of the UN Security Council, threatens to bring about the collapse of the NATO alliance, and splits the EU. On top of that it helps keep an erratic and genocidal dictator in power, a man who has started two major wars, killed hundreds of thousands of his own people, and driven millions into exile.

The only arguments I'm hearing against the Bush adminstration's policy are that a lot of people are against it and war is bad. Both those statements are true, but neither provides a coherent alternative to the adminstation's well reasoned position that forcible regime change in Iraq is the only real solution to the crisis.

The administration is making every effort to work with other countries. But the French and the Germans are determined not to reciprocate, but rather to play a purely negative and obstructionist role. Witness their outrageous refusal to come to the defense of Turkey. I suspect Turkey will remember that for a long time.

Posted by: Joe Willingham on February 16, 2003 08:15 AM

"The administration is making every effort to work with other countries."

This is getting better and better.

Bushnev and Rumsfeld intend to punish Germany for its 'treachery'.
America is to punish Germany for leading international opposition to a war against Iraq.
The US will withdraw all its troops and bases from there and end military and industrial
co-operation between the two countries - moves that could cost the Germans billions of euro.

If what the US administration wants are friends who always nod vigorously while saying "yes, Massa", then perhaps it is a good idea to take a good, long break in relations until you get yourselves an intelligent president.

http://www.observer.co.uk/international/story/0,6903,896573,00.html

The Rummy guy also compares: Cuba, Libya and Germany

http://www.faz.net/IN/Intemplates/faznet/default.asp?tpl=faz/dossier_overview.asp&rub={99A5CF5B-46C9-4BA6-AE84-BF351CFB814C}


Have you actually yourself examined Powell's evidence presented at the UN?
I have. Animated cartoons, satellite films of trucks picking up cargo (what do *you* use trucks for?)
at unidentified sites *claimed* to be factories for the production of weapons of mass destruction, ... Pathetic.
If this "evidence" has any truth to it, how much easier to have fed it to Mr. Blix in the morning in order to target todays inspections.

Posted by: John Ståhle on February 16, 2003 09:36 AM

“I have. Animated cartoons, satellite films of trucks picking up cargo (what do *you* use trucks for?) at unidentified sites *claimed* to be factories for the production of weapons of mass destruction, ... Pathetic. If this "evidence" has any truth to it, how much easier to have fed it to Mr. Blix in the morning in order to target todays inspections.”

I accurately predicted that the Oliver Stone folks would never accept the evidence. The bar of was going to be lifted regardless of what Colin Powell brought to the UN. These people are simply haters of the United States and should be treated accordingly.

Posted by: David Thomson on February 16, 2003 10:09 AM

"These people are simply haters of the United States and should be treated accordingly."

Oh, deary me. Allow me to compliment your ability of rational reasoning. ROTFL

And of dodging. My question was "Have you actually yourself examined Powell's evidence presented at the UN?"

Well, have you?

+ FYI: I have always been a staunch supporter of the US, except when the administration makes/made poor judgement based on lack of knowledge of the rest of the world. E.g. I was 100% behind Ronald Reagan. He and Nixon were IMO your best presidents in the 20th century. Both of whom, as opposed to Bushnev & Rummy, took advice from knowledgeable people.

Finally: Who the H..l is Oliver Stone?

Posted by: John Ståhle on February 16, 2003 10:41 AM

"And of dodging. My question was "Have you actually yourself examined Powell's evidence presented at the UN?"

There is of course no realistic way an untrained individual can possibly evaluate the evidence presented by Secretary Powell. Thus, the bottom line is this: you consider George W. Bush to be the scum of the earth---and I believe he can be trusted. This ends the discussion because it makes no sense continuing a dialogue with someone who takes the opposite viewpoint. There is no simply no further evidence which will change your mind. You are almost certain to embrace a conspiracy theory that somehow the CIA or another similar government agency doctored the evidence.


Oliver Stone is the disgraceful movie director of "JFK." More recently, he just finished a flim white washing the brutal dictator, Fidel Castro.

Posted by: David Thomson on February 16, 2003 12:14 PM

UN Resolution 1441, adopted unanimously by the Security Council, gave Iraq "a final opportunity" to comply or face "serious consequences", which is diplomatese for military action. According to Hans Blix's report of January 27, Iraq "appears not to have come to a genuine acceptance of the disarmament that was demanded of it". Aside from photographs and recorded conversations, the UN has a long list of banned materials which Iraq is known to have possessed in the past for which it has failed to account.

It is imcumbent on Iraq to disarm and show plausibly that it has done so. It is not incumbent on the UN to get lucky in a game of hide and seek and fine something. It is unlikely that they will find anything Iraq doesn't want them to find. It isn't hard to hide chemical and bateriological agents and labs in a country the size of California.

After 12 years, does anybody really think Iraq is going to change its behavior and come clean?

Posted by: Joe Willingham on February 16, 2003 12:36 PM

Who is more trustworthy, Colin Powell, or Saddam Hussein? Based on their biographies I think there is a strong case to be made for Gen. Powell.

Powell is a distinguished diplomat who is well liked and respected at home and around the world. He is known for preferring diplomatic to military solutions to international disputes. It was he who convinced the Bush administration to take the problem of Iraq to the UN and to try every possibilty for a peaceful solution.

General Powell is no hawk. He has become persuaded that military action may be the only course by the behavior both of Iraq and that of certain of our so-called allies.

A lot of the opposition to the US seems to be based on dislike of President Bush. That is not a valid reason to leave Saddam Hussein in power.

I am not a follower of President Bush. I dislike his economic and environmental policies. But it just happens that he's right regarding this business about Iraq.

Posted by: Joe Willingham on February 16, 2003 12:53 PM

"you consider George W. Bush to be the scum of the earth" and "You are almost certain to embrace a conspiracy theory that somehow the CIA or another similar government agency doctored the evidence."

My my, how clever you are at jumping to conclusions.

1. I do *not* consider George W. Bush to be the scum of the earth. I have though, seen and heard many people considerably more intelligent than him - and more apt to reason along logical lines.

2. I have very little respect for conspiracy theories.

3. I loathe Saddam Hussein and would like to see him die a violent death - which is why I cannot fathom that the US allowed him to quell the "Swamp Arab" rebellion in 1991 and 1993.

Posted by: John Ståhle on February 16, 2003 01:16 PM

"Who is more trustworthy, Colin Powell, or Saddam Hussein?"

I do not see this as a competition between Powell and Hussein.

What Europeans resent is when our friends talk down to and lie to us, showing that they consider us dorks.

Ask yourself this: How would you react, if the EU told you an obvious lie to a serve a dubious purpose and continued by threatening you if you didn't consent?

It seems obvious that the US administration had and has ulterior motives, or Saddam would not have been alive today.

There is little doubt the 1991 rebellion would have succeeded, had not the US let the Iraqi forces cross their lines and let the Iraqi air force fly in the no-fly-zones to quell it.Some of my good friends were killed on that occasion, some survived to tell what happened.

Saddam has a very limited support (mostly his own tribe), which is even decreasing day by day because of his cruel treatment of the Iraqi people.
He can be dealt with without wreaking severe havoc on the Iraqi people - provided the US does not betray the rebels this time.

Posted by: John Ståhle on February 16, 2003 01:53 PM

"...which is why I cannot fathom that the US allowed him to quell the "Swamp Arab" rebellion in 1991 and 1993."

Yup, the United States did indeed goof up during that time period. It's time to correct that earlier mistake. Do you have anything against the average Iraqi citizen? If not, I'm sure that we can therefore count on your support for the imminent regime change.

Posted by: David Thomson on February 16, 2003 01:57 PM

John S. (I can't spell your last name because I don't have all the letters on my keyboard), you write:

"Saddam has a very limited support (mostly his own tribe), which is even decreasing day by day because of his cruel treatment of the Iraqi people."

"He can be dealt with without wreaking severe havoc on the Iraqi people - provided the US does not betray the rebels this time."

Could you elaborate on that? From what I understand, even the Shiite exile groups in Iran are planning to take advantage of the US invasion and work in uneasy alliance with the infidel forces. What is the alternative to US involvement, given Saddam's massive apparatus of terror and repression? Are you predicting a collapse of his regime comparable to that of Ceausescu's regime in 1989?

Division among the opposition forces seems to be a huge problem, and may be a reason why outside intervention is necessary.

Posted by: Joe Willingham on February 16, 2003 02:37 PM

If the French and the Germans would back the US, that would increase the pressure on Saddam, and increase the odds of Saddam's agreeing to the UN's demands, or of a coup d'etat.

As it is, France and Germany have thrown the butcher of Baghdad a lifeline. It the US and its allies have to go in without UN support their job will have been made much more difficult by the foolish and unprincipled behavior of Schroeder and Chirac.

Posted by: Joe Willingham on February 16, 2003 02:47 PM

"There is of course no realistic way an untrained individual can possibly evaluate the evidence presented by Secretary Powell."

Well, I guessed as much. You did not examine the evidence yourself. It was presented in ordinary English prose and the full text can be found at the UN site.

If you feel like it, you can read the evidence yourself at
http://www.un.int/usa/03clp0205.htm

If you do, you'll notice that the actual "evidence" is Powell's comments, not the slim facts that are presented.
Given that those talking over radio or cell phone are unaware that they are being tapped, ask yourself why the Iraqi officers express themselves as they do, why they are in no hurry to hide what is alleged to be secret weapons.
The answers to these question explain why - outside the US - Powell's evidence is called 'Groucho Marx quotations'.

Posted by: John Ståhle on February 16, 2003 02:54 PM

Colin Powell's intelligence information is not going to persuade anyone who doesn't want to be persuaded. Powell is a good man and not a liar, but for some the mere fact that he is speaking for the Bush administration is reason enough not to believe him.

The best reason to believe that Iraq is hiding proscibed weapons is the behavior of Iraq over the last 12 years. If Saddam is innocent of the charges, why doesn't he come clean with the UN, get certified as being in compliance, get the sanctions lifted and start pumping oil and raking in the money? If he had done that back in the 90's the US wouldn't have had a problem normalizing relations. This country, like most others, is very generous and forgiving towards nations that have a lot of oil.

If all Bush wants is oil why is he risking having Saddam blow up the Iraqi oil fields? The fact is, Bush and his advisers are genuinely and sincerely persuaded that Saddam's regime is a threat to the US and its allies. You may not agree with that assessment, but it is not off the wall. There is a certain plausiblity to it. Indeed, given Iraq's past behavior, I would say that the burden of proof is on those who claim that Iraq is *not* a threat.

Posted by: Joe Willingham on February 16, 2003 03:34 PM

Breaking news: NATO has agreed to send aid to Turkey for its defense in the event of war. Belgium and Germany are on board with the decision. France was not involved because it is not a member of the NATO planning council.

NATO has pulled back from the brink of collapse.

Posted by: Joe Willingham on February 16, 2003 03:42 PM

"John S. (I can't spell your last name...)"
You could cheat (mark & copy), which is what I do myself .

"Could you elaborate on that? From what I understand, even the Shiite exile groups in Iran are planning to take advantage of the US invasion and work in uneasy alliance with the infidel forces.... What is the alternative to US involvement, given Saddam's massive apparatus of terror and repression?"

Naturally the Shiite exile groups in Iran hope for an invasion by the US, this will not only guarantee success, but the other's losses will save them much suffering, and they have really paid dearly for previous rebellions.

I do not pretend to be an expert on Iraq but I know quite a lot of people in and from the Middle East (not Ohio, 10,000 miles further east), including several Iraqis who had to flee from persecution.

Nor do I have 'The Answer'.

Based on what I have learned from Iraqis, however, I feel confident that given proper support, and on their own conditions, an internal rebellion stands a good chance of success. The will and manpower is there or close by, but based on past experience, they need reliable and solid reassurance that they are not betrayed again.

The following point is obvious: A rebellion must have bases. The best position would be across a land border, i.e. Iran, Turkey or Saudi Arabia.

Some problems, though:
1. Approximately 250,000 of the delta people ("Swamp Arabs") who rebelled in 1991 and 1993 had to flee; some in 1991, most in 1993.
2. It wasn't just the delta people - your administration also let the Republican Guard butcher the Kurds in 1991 when more than a million Kurds fled northern Iraq to Iran and Turkey.
1. + 2. =
3. The Iraqis do not trust the US administration - can you blame them, really.
4. Your administration also sh.t on the Afghans, once the Soviets had left (who did actually provide the basis for Al'Qaeda?)
5. Your standing with Iran (shiite stronghold #1) is pretty bad. IMO the Iranians are opposed to the US to the extent, that they prefer S. Hussein to stay in power to co-operating with the US.
6. In Turkey, Kurds are not very popular, although Turkey's wish to join the EU has changed things in the right direction.
7. The regime in Saudi Arabia is also a (mildly) repressive ones and is scared sh.tless at the thought of an intern rebellion of its own and besides, - if not exactly hated - shiites are not popular.
8. Usually the US runs into problems simply because Americans do not understand the great differences in culture, really don't care and expect that everything can be smoothed by handing out some cash.
9. No. 8 doesn't work well with the Middle Eastern man who is as gready as you and I, yet at the same time extremely jealous of his honour. You must show him respect. This holds for Saddam H. as well, however much one loathes him.

In my experience, in Iraq and other Middle East countries I have stayed in (meeting the ordinary, extremely hospitable, people), if ever you have betrayed someone, you will have to provide some sort of hostage(s). Not (necessarily) persons, but something you value very much.
What can we offer?

Finally, what do you plan to do after a - probably - relatively easy conquest?
In Afghanistan there is already problems with the US soldiers not respecting local customs, like entering a house without knocking on the door, so the women can get indoors before the soldiers enter the house.

Imagine the US conquered - in your own best interests, of course - by disrespectful, rude soldiers of a foreign muslim army.
How would you react?

What about the Stan&Laurel proposition of installing an American military governor in Iraq?
Suicide bombings may well become very fashionable that year.

"Are you predicting a collapse of his regime comparable to that of Ceausescu's regime in 1989?"

This I doubt very much. The fall of the Saddam regime requires a rebellion and/or Saddam's death. It will not collapse by popular protests, which would only produce a number of hangings on the local square. On the other hand, although his his sons are some tough nuts, I doubt very much if they will be able to stay in power if Saddam himself is killed.

Shocking long scribble, and now it is 2 AM around here - gosh.

Regards, John

Posted by: John Ståhle on February 16, 2003 05:09 PM

"If the French and the Germans would back the US, that would increase the pressure on Saddam, and increase the odds of Saddam's agreeing to the UN's demands, or of a coup d'etat."

This may surprise you, but we completely agree.

You get a very negative response if you humiliate a man from a Middle East country in public.

If only your administration had learned to put on the pressure in a tactful manner, instead of shouting it from all the roof tops, something valuable (e.g. please disarm now under full control, or ...) might have been accomplished months ago - including quiet but strong NATO support.

Posted by: John Ståhle on February 16, 2003 05:27 PM

"Powell is a good man and not a liar."

Agreed. But he is and was under severe stress from the rest of the US government and so have to stre-e-e-e-e-etch things more than he may be quite comfortable with.

Posted by: John Ståhle on February 16, 2003 05:32 PM

"If all Bush wants is oil why is he risking having Saddam blow up the Iraqi oil fields?"

Bush may be well-meaning, but shockingly inexperienced. One way or the other, oil is hardly the issue. Oil is just about everywhere.

No so with water. Frat and Tigre (English: Euphrates and Tigris (?)) are the most important sources of fresh water in the entire Middle East. If you build pipelines from Iraq to anywhere in this arid region, you control the entire Middle East.

Some years back Saudi Arabia started a project dragging icebergs from Antarctis. The problem is that big.

Posted by: John Ståhle on February 16, 2003 05:49 PM

Powell has been a bit speculative about the Iraq-Al Qaeda connection, but nothing really dishonest.

John's S.'s comments above about the complex political situation and the problems created by the betrayals of Bush the Elder in 1991 are some of the best analysis I have seen. I hope the US planners are thoroughly familiar with those issues. If they aren't we're all up the proverbial creek without a paddle.

Whatever else they are, General Powell, Mr. Cheney, Mr. Rumsfeld and Miss Rice are not dumb. I assume they are capable of learning from history. Maybe I'm just an optimist by temperament.

Posted by: Joe Willingham on February 16, 2003 06:29 PM

""Powell is a good man and not a liar."

Agreed. But he is and was under severe stress from the rest of the US government and so have to stre-e-e-e-e-etch things more than he may be quite comfortable with."

I am utterly convinced that Colin Powell was holding back information during that meeting. We must understand something: our intelligence services are severely hindered every time we reveal information. For instance, the Iraqis will be far more cautious when speaking over cell phones. What do you think happened to those two guys who were overheard? I bet their buddies--to our detriment--will not make the same mistake.

Posted by: David Thomson on February 17, 2003 03:55 AM

"I am utterly convinced that Colin Powell was holding back information during that meeting."

Possible - but why didn't he, or someone else, *whisper* this information in NATO's ears.
This Gung-Ho-big-Hulabaloo stuff does not work well.

The German and - most likely - also the French government would then tell their populations that they had received and verified very grave and shocking information, that could not be revealed to the public from fear Saddam would use it, but on the other hand this information made it crucial to wage war on Iraq immediately.

No loss of face, no withdrawal from any previous stance, no confrontation with the pacifist fractions within the parties, just good old fashioned 'Realpolitik'.

You have just witnessed - as Joe Willingham posted yesterday: "NATO has agreed to send aid to Turkey for its defense in the event of war. Belgium and Germany are on board with the decision. France was not involved because it is not a member of the NATO planning council.".

Now, how will the French react?

The key is found in the last sentence: "France is not a member of the planning council", so they will throw out their hands and say "What can we do? this is a fait accompli. We took no part in this disgrace." - and quietly sign some sort of joint NATO statement supporting Turkey.

Please remember: In Europe we have a couple of *millenniums* of experience with really oily diplomacy. I mean, when many - at one time 40 - countries are forced to live more or less peacefully together in a confined space, there is no alternative.

Posted by: John Ståhle on February 17, 2003 07:04 AM

I don't see much subtlety in the diplomacy of Germany and France. Why don't they consult behind the scenes with the other countries, including the US, instead of undermining the unity of NATO and the EU?

Germany announces that it won't support the use of force against Iraq under any circumstances. What kind of policy is that? France gives every indication of being more concerned to stick it to the Americans than to contribute to the common defense of western values and interests.

I note that many German newspapers agree with my criticism of Schroeder. The latter's government is weak because of the economy and may not last past the next elections, so the US German rift may be temporary.

What is most disappointing to me is public opinion in Europe. The majority view of the US doesn't go much beyond a crude leftist caricature. Anti-Americanism seems to have become more than anything a vulgar prejudice akin to anti-Semitism. Indeed, it seems to be paired with anti-Semitism in the thinking of many of the "peace" demonstrators.

Posted by: Joe Willingham on February 17, 2003 08:18 AM

"Mr. Cheney, Mr. Rumsfeld and Miss Rice are not dumb" (I am leaving Colin Powell out of this)

Luke Harding, who writes from Sulaymaniyeh in the Kurdish controlled enclave in northern Iraq quotes Kanan Makiya (an adviser to Iraq's major opposition group ‘Iraqi National Congress’) for “America now appears to have dumped its commitment to bring Western-style democracy to Iraq. Instead, under pressure from Saudi Arabia and the Arab Gulf states, Washington is preparing to leave Iraq under the control of President Saddam Hussein's Baath Party. … The Iraqi opposition is going to become anti-American the day after liberation. It is a great irony. … The infrastructure of Saddam's ruling Baath party would remain largely intact, with the top two officials in each Iraqi ministry replaced by US military officers. The plan is bizarre. … the American plans to install a US military governor in Baghdad to rule post-war Iraq, is an 'unmitigated disaster', 'deeply stupid' and a 'mess'. ”

and (Luke himself)

“Following pressure from Washington, the Kurds in Northern Iraq will leave the job of liberating Iraq to the American military.”

and
“An Iraqi opposition conference scheduled for this week has so far been delayed three times, with Washington making it clear it regards the meeting as an unhelpful distraction.”

If not dumb, what are their goals?

Posted by: John Ståhle on February 17, 2003 08:56 AM

"I don't see much subtlety in the diplomacy of Germany and France. Why don't they consult behind the scenes with the other countries, including the US, instead of undermining the unity of NATO and the EU?"

Of course I can't speak for the politicians (Heaven knows they do that themselves, and very voluble too) but as I recall, the drums of war had already sounded before anyone mentioned this to your NATO partners. *Partners* not subordinates.
A few weeks before mid term elections, wasn't it?

"The majority view of the US doesn't go much beyond a crude leftist caricature. Anti-Americanism seems to have become more than anything a vulgar prejudice akin to anti-Semitism."

We may be back on square one.

It is not the view of the United States of America but the view of the *US administration* and its "Kill'm all" attitude, which is seen as a bizarre farce.

As for the caricature, what is your opinion of:
"In France the spirt of Vichy is alive. Cowardice, corruption and decadence. They are beneath comtempt." (Joe Willingham)

When things get a little hot, heated words slip out, don't they. This goes for Europeans too.

It seems to me that you somehow expect Europe and Europeans to consent to everything your administration make up, whether we agree or not.

The Europeans can be reasoned with and persuaded, but - strange as it may seem - we demand reliable, credible and truthful arguments, not goobledegook.

Some of our pilots in the Danish Air Force are out there in Afghanistan, bombing Taleban strongholds in the mountains; they also bombed in Serbia. Our Rangers and Frømænd (Danish Navy SEALs) returned on home leave last week after 6 months of very active duty in Afghanistan (their US colleagues hold their efforts in great esteem). We do take part in the action - when we think it right.

Posted by: John Ståhle on February 17, 2003 09:52 AM

"Possible - but why didn't he, or someone else, *whisper* this information in NATO's ears."

The sad thing is that we cannot trust the French. Unfortunately, they are part of NATO. There is evidence that some of the French betrayed us during the Balkans mess.

"When things get a little hot, heated words slip out, don't they. This goes for Europeans too."

Why are you lumping together all Europeans? There is a distinct difference between the Old and the New. My girlfriend is a Polish-American--and she is going to get very angry with you. Are you implying that she might be French?

Posted by: David Thomson on February 17, 2003 11:11 AM

As I undertand it, Denmark has been solidly behind the US position, as have the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, and many other NATO countries.

I trust Denmark in a way I don't trust France and Germany. Denmark was the only European country that didn't cooperate with the Nazi persecution of the Jews. Character counts.

Posted by: Joe Willingham on February 17, 2003 11:46 AM

Speaking about trusting the Germans (my ancestors). I just found the following on www.andrewsullivan.com:

“WHAT SCHRODER COVERED UP: Astonishing piece in the Frankfurter Allgemeiner Zeitung today. Just before the German elections last year, German intelligence found very serious evidence of Iraq's stockpiling of smallpox bioweapons. The report came with a "high degree of confidence." The piece alleges that Schroder helped bury the report, so as not to get him off-message during his anti-American campaign. I'm afraid I can't seem to find the story in the English language edition of the FAZ. But here's the German version.”

http://www.faz.net/IN/INtemplates/faznet/default.asp?tpl=faz/drehscheibe.asp&rub={B02AFBB3-E1E0-4556-B06E-092A3599848A}

Posted by: David Thomson on February 17, 2003 12:47 PM

"My girlfriend is a Polish-American--and she is going to get very angry with you."

Unless she is extraordinary good at throwing bricks, I am in no immediate danger - me sitting in Denmark and her in the US

Posted by: John Ståhle on February 17, 2003 01:38 PM

"Unless she is extraordinary good at throwing bricks, I am in no immediate danger - me sitting in Denmark and her in the US"

She has relatives in Poland. How far is that country from Denmark?

Posted by: David Thomson on February 17, 2003 03:09 PM

According to a former Bush administration official, the debate of the year in Washington is going to be over support for the democratic opposition versus settling for a more friendly dictator at the head of the Baath apparatus. This official, a former speechwriter for Mr. Bush, suggests that Americans write to their Congresspersons and Senators and urge them to speak out for the democrats.

John Ståhle has raised this all important issue. My question for John is the following: who are the most promising groups, and how can we forward their interest and ours in a democratic Iraq?

It's time to stop debating over the war, which is pretty much a done deal, and start talking about what happens after Saddam is defeated. That is too important a quesion to be left to a handful of officials to decide.

Posted by: Joe Willingham on February 17, 2003 07:06 PM

""Unless she is extraordinary good at throwing bricks, I am in no immediate danger - me sitting in Denmark and her in the US"

She has relatives in Poland. How far is that country from Denmark?"

Provided they live at the nearest coast, 250 km (160 miles) - now where is my steel helmet?

Posted by: John Ståhle on February 17, 2003 10:59 PM

"My question for John is the following:
[1.] who are the most promising groups, and
[2.] how can we forward their interest and ours in a democratic Iraq?"

[1.] Impossible for me to say. Ask one of your own republicans, then one of your democrats which party should hold the presidency of the US. Same result when I ask my Iraqi friends: They all think their fraction should be in power.

Most of Iraq's 23 million inhabitants are Shia muslims. So any solution expected to last more than 3 weeks after the US/UN troops leave Iraq *must* include the Shi'ites and also the 2 major Kurdish fractions.

All in all, IMO a democracy with 5-6 parties, able to draw on strong support (humanitarian and otherwise) for several years ahead, if needed.

[2.] Tell your congress wo/man to stuff the dictatorship - with/without a US military governor - and any religious prejudices up into you-know-where and start working overtime to identify the majority groups. Not those 'fit for government' but all of them.

Probably the worst mistake the US made at the outset of the Vietnam conflict was to support the catholic minority (say, 1.5%), who - driven by religious prejudice - were strongly opposed to the very large buddhist majority(say, 85%), thus driving the latter in the arms of the communists.

So IMO any murky thoughts of who will support the US should be ruled out as a basis for decision. If we provide - not promise - *provide* sufficient help we can count on Iraqi gratitude and support to the extent anyone can count on gratitude in this imperfect world.

Posted by: John Ståhle on February 17, 2003 11:44 PM

"Probably the worst mistake the US made at the outset of the Vietnam conflict was to support the catholic minority (say, 1.5%), who - driven by religious prejudice - were strongly opposed to the very large buddhist majority(say, 85%), thus driving the latter in the arms of the communists."

Yup, I think you are right on target. The corruption of the South Vietnamese government was enough to make it easier for the murderous Communists to take over that sad nation. Your other comments on the future of Iraq are also worthy of serious consideration. Joe Willington is indeed correct to say: "It's time to stop debating over the war, which is pretty much a done deal, and start talking about what happens after Saddam is defeated."

Posted by: David Thomson on February 18, 2003 03:11 AM

This Op-ED article in NY Times "Why don't other countries see the world the way we do? "

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/02/18/opinion/18KRUG.html?th

really provided me with food for thought.

Is there any truth in Krugman's claim that you mostly get your News coverage from TV?

Posted by: John Ståhle on February 18, 2003 04:11 AM

“Is there any truth in Krugman's claim that you mostly get your News coverage from TV?”

What is the relevance of your question? It is, though, fair to say that most Americans get their information from TV. At least, I think the polling data support this conclusion. However, this is of secondary importance. Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty: Paul Krugman is hinting that the so-called “pro-war” folks are a bunch of lunatics who enjoy the smell of napalm in the morning! Needless to add, I strongly believe that military action against Saddam Hussein is both the moral--and prudent thing to do. The odds are that more lives will be saved as a result.

Please also note the similarity of the antiwar crowd with those who sought to appease Adolph Hitler in the last 1930s. The pacifists were unwittingly responsible for much bloodshed in WWII. Appeasement policies only embolden the bullies of the world.


Posted by: David Thomson on February 18, 2003 04:51 AM

Yes, I think we should definately start think about "after the war" now...if Bush II screws the Kurds and Shia' in Iraq, I REALLY fear for us. If he doesn't, I think Iran will fall to it's own internal democratic tendencies in short order, and some really good things can start happening in the world. THIS will be the defining moment of his Presidency, and perhaps the course of the world. I'm just hoping Ms. Rice is on board with the democratic leaning factions in Washington (she appears to be from her published writings), and that he listens to her. People forget that she personally was a major architect of the endgame of the Cold War under Reagan/Bush I. And the DoD/Rummy is in favor of democracy in Iraq (fewer wars!), while State is pro-thug. VERY strange bedfellows indeed!!!

Posted by: David Mercer on February 18, 2003 05:16 AM

" . . . if Bush II screws the Kurds and Shia' in Iraq, I REALLY fear for us."

Truer words were never spoken.

The State Department is wedded to the failed policies of the past. The governments surrounding Iraq all have an interest in seeing democracy fail there. The forces of democracy face an enormous challenge.

Posted by: Joe Willingham on February 18, 2003 10:26 AM

Re. my question: "Is there any truth in Krugman's claim that you mostly get your News coverage from TV?"

“What is the relevance of your question? It is, though, fair to say that most Americans get their information from TV. At least, I think the polling data support this conclusion. However, this is of secondary importance.”

I beg to disagree. TV news broadcasts work under severe time strain to meet very tight deadline and those 20-60 seconds news flashes are not entirely (euphemism of the day) trustworthy. Also, when you have watched the news broadcasts, nothing is left – they have gone poof!

Newspaper articles you can read several times over, analyze, spot inconsistencies. Not so with TV news broadcasts.

Did the TV news inform you of the following?

One of Colin Powell’s sources at the UN Security Council.
Powell: “ a "fine paper ... which describes in exquisite detail Iraqi deception activities".

Latest Iraq dossier on old material, including an article by an American post-graduate student.

Large chunks of al-Marashi's paper had been copied to form parts of the UK dossier, entitled "Iraq: Its Infrastructure of Concealment, Deception and Intimidation."

http://europe.cnn.com/2003/WORLD/meast/02/07/sprj.irq.uk.dossier/

MI6 'intelligence' lifted from lecturer's article.

COLIN POWELL’S much-vaunted case for war against Iraq suffered a setback yesterday when it emerged that chunks of British “intelligence” that he invoked were copied verbatim from an old article by a young academic.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3-569257,00.html

"The British government's dossier is 19 pages long and most of pages 6 to 16 are copied directly from that document word for word, even the grammatical errors and typographical mistakes," Even typographic mistakes in the original articles are repeated.

Of military intelligence, al-Marashi writes in his original paper:
"The head of military intelligence generally did not have to be a relative of Saddam's immediate family, nor a Tikriti. Saddam appointed, Sabir Abd Al-Aziz Al-Duri as head..." Note the comma after appointed.

Downing Street paraphrases the first sentence: "Saddam appointed, Sabir 'Abd al-'Aziz al-Duri as head during the 1991 Gulf War."

This second line is cut and pasted, complete with the same grammatical error.

http://www.commondreams.org/headlines03/0206-08.htm
The target is an intelligence dossier released on Monday and heralded by none other than Colin Powell at the UN yesterday.

[T]he bulk of the nineteen page document was copied from three different articles - one written by a graduate student.

http://www.commondreams.org/headlines03/0206-08.htm

The original article in ’Middle East Review of International Affairs’
“Iraq's Security & Intelligence Network: A Guide & Analysis”

http://meria.idc.ac.il/journal/2002/issue3/jv6n3a1.html

In brief, the story is as follows. Ibrahim al-Marashi wrote a fine article in our September 2002 issue entitled, “Iraq’s Security and Intelligence Network: A Guide and Analysis,” which looked at that country’s secret police and other such forces in detail. He used captured Iraqi documents from the 1991 Kuwait war but updated it to cover later developments, power shifts, and personnel changes among these agencies.

http://meria.idc.ac.il/british-govt-plagiarizes-meria.html

In this example of the 'latest and exquisitely detailed' the sources presented are of low quality, can you trust them?

I have run seriously out of time at present - shall try to elaborate on this problem later.

Posted by: John Ståhle on February 18, 2003 05:32 PM

NY Times today, By PETER W. GALBRAITH:
"As the Bush administration struggles to induce Turkey to support a war with Iraq, our Kurdish allies in northern Iraq are realizing that once again America is about to double-cross them."

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/02/19/opinion/19GALB.html?th

The only thing you can learn from history is that you cannot learn from history.

Posted by: John Ståhle on February 19, 2003 06:49 AM

"Iranian-backed Iraqi opposition forces have crossed into northern Iraq from Iran with the aim of securing the frontier in the event of war, according to senior Iranian officials."

Given the US admin.'s latest betrayal of the Kurds, the USAF are probably ordered to bomb these rebels in order to protect Saddam as an exclusive target for Bush, the [Vietnam hero] [Vietnam dodger] (underline your preferred choice).

Posted by: John Ståhle on February 19, 2003 07:00 AM

"Iranian-backed Iraqi opposition forces have crossed into northern Iraq". The source is todays Financial Times.

http://news.ft.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=FT.com/StoryFT/FullStory&c=StoryFT&cid=1045510848273&p=1012571727092

Sorry, forgot it in previous posting.

Posted by: John Ståhle on February 19, 2003 07:03 AM

"Please also note the similarity of the antiwar crowd with those who sought to appease Adolph Hitler in the last 1930s. The pacifists were unwittingly responsible for much bloodshed in WWII. Appeasement policies only embolden the bullies of the world."

Paraphrase of Ian Kershaw, professor of modern history at Sheffield University + my inserts [JSt]:

This is a spin on history. The parallels are, at best, remote.

Nobody doubted for a second that Hitler was building a vast air force, navy and army. Everybody knew he was doing this at first illegally, then legally. So the threat was in the heart of Europe, and very real.

JSt: The British army and air force were very inferior to the German counterparts, which is why – as you will see, if you study the original documents – Chamberlain had to give in on Czekoslovakia and Austria. Britain's very existence was at stake.

JSt: Chamberlain was perfectly well aware that the Munich agreement in September 1938 in no way was the ‘Peace in our time’ document he pretended it to be. After his return from Munich, British preparations for war went into highest gear.

France was scared sh.tless by the growing danger from Germany.

Hitler used military might and bullying tactics to force changes to state borders within Europe. The annexation of what was left of Czechoslovakia in 1939, without any pretext of uniting ethnic Germans, finally convinced the French and British governments to take a stand, at the risk of a war they did not want.

The US was then isolationist, largely uninterested in Europe. Stalinist Russia was isolated for other reasons.

Today, there is no self-evident threat from Iraq. There is no invasion of a sovereign territory to repulse. We have to take it on trust that Saddam is building weapons of mass destruction. Even if he has them, he is unlikely to use them against Britain or America. In 1939, the reason was all too obvious.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,2763,898414,00.html

Posted by: John Ståhle on February 19, 2003 10:35 AM

Do you remember the good old days during the cold war?

... the [US] administration is determined to overhaul its nuclear arsenal so that it could be used as part of the new "Bush doctrine" of pre-emption ...

http://www.guardian.co.uk/Print/0,3858,4608823,00.html

Good luck to you all - you'll need it.

Posted by: John Ståhle on February 19, 2003 04:32 PM

Is there any truth in Krugman's claim that you mostly get your News coverage from TV?

http://www.takebackthemedia.com/news-cnnedit.html

CNN leaves 750 words out of Blix transcript.

CNN&FOX rulez!

"Of course the people don't want war. But after all, it's the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger."

-- Herman Goering at the Nuremberg trials

Posted by: Old European on February 21, 2003 11:03 AM

"Russia's Foreign Minister, Igor Ivanov, has complained that inspectors are under intense pressure to create a report that would back the march to war.

Mr Ivanov said Russia had
received "alarming information" that inspectors had been subjected to "very strong pressure in order to provoke their departure from Iraq" or to present negative assessments to the Security Council that "could be used as a pretext for the use of force"."

http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/02/21/1045638489012.html

Posted by: John Ståhle on February 22, 2003 09:44 AM

You can really trust Rumsfeld!

"Donald Rumsfeld, the US secretary of defense, was on the board of technology giant ABB when it won a deal to supply North Korea with two nuclear power plants ... in early 2000 ...

The ABB contract was to deliver equipment and services for two nuclear power stations at Kumho, on North Korea’s east coast."

http://www.swissinfo.org/sen/Swissinfo.html?siteSect=41&sid=1648385

Posted by: John Ståhle on February 22, 2003 09:55 AM

"The Europeans keep putting the bad mouth on us"

Welcome to Europe, as viewed through the eyes of American commentators and newspapers:

Republican congressman Pete King eviscerating the hapless French: diatribes about France's heroic and longstanding commitment to the principle of capitulation. 'Garlic-swathed beignet-stuffed sexually dysfunctional trash-pop Petainist belching Gauloise-smoking hypocritical papist bastard haw-hee-haw Johnny bloody Halliday up-yours-Delors coward monkeys', the lot of them. From Biarritz to Lille. Via the town of Vichy.

The "petulant prima donna of realpolitik" is leading the "axis of weasels", in "a chorus of cowards". It is an unholy alliance of "wimps" and ingrates which includes one country that is little more than a "mini-me minion", another that is in league with Cuba and Libya, with a bunch of "cheese-eating surrender monkeys" at the helm.

France Inter radio's correspondent in Washington, Laurence Simon, started to explain her government's position to Fox News (owned by Murdoch) she was interrupted by the presenter. "With friends like you, who needs enemies," she was told as she was taken off air.

Good question, that, to be asked the government that - in the Falklands War - sided with the Argentinian dictatorship against its NATO ally, Britain.

Posted by: John Ståhle on February 22, 2003 10:25 AM

US prepares to use toxic gases in Iraq

A special working group of the Federation of American Scientists concluded last month that using even the mildest of these weapons to incapacitate people would kill 9 per cent of them. It added: "Chemical incapacitating weapons are as likely as bullets to cause death."

- who needs Saddam Hussein to use weapons of mass destruction?

http://news.independent.co.uk/world/americas/story.jsp?story=383006

Posted by: John Ståhle on March 2, 2003 07:00 AM
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