February 14, 2003

The Marquis de Lafayette

Some people in the United States have too short a memory.

Without Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roche Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette (1757-1834), his example, and the decision he spurred France to to intervene in the American Revolution on the side of the colonists, this nation would not stand here now. There is a statue of Yves in the central square of what passes for Lafayette, California's downtown. Every time I pass it, I think of the debt for our very existence as a nation that we owe to the Marquis and to France--a debt that we can never repay, but only honor.

He is buried in American soil: he brought some back from the United States to France, and it was used for his gravesite.

Posted by DeLong at February 14, 2003 04:37 PM | TrackBack

Comments

Gah! Brad this was 200 years ago.

Remember the flag burning ammendment? Stem cell research? Why Dukakis rode around in a tank? The fierce budget battles that led to fiscal solvency? The Enron collapse? Campaign finance reform?

Every time I read a news magazine (rarely) I dream that at least half of it was dedicated to contextual information. You know, not just he-said she-said, but "This is what was happening 3 months ago." (Or 1 year ago, or 5 years ago.)

Posted by: Saam Barrager on February 14, 2003 06:19 PM

Thank you!

Posted by: Jean-Philippe on February 14, 2003 06:27 PM

(I am crying, litterally, as I write this. My sort of of...)

Posted by: Jean-Philippe on February 14, 2003 06:34 PM


As an "old european" (of the cheese-eating surrender monkey kind) currently living in the United States, I thank for elevating the debate.

Posted by: Fberthol on February 14, 2003 07:54 PM

That debt was long since paid in full, with interest. It's not like the French of today manned the warships off Yorktown. What have they done for us lately? Because, they are really hurting us now.

Posted by: Reid on February 14, 2003 08:39 PM

That debt was long since paid in full, with interest. It's not like the French of today manned the warships off Yorktown. What have they done for us lately? Because, they are really hurting us now.

Posted by: Reid on February 14, 2003 08:39 PM

That debt was long since paid in full, with interest. It's not like the French of today manned the warships off Yorktown. What have they done for us lately? Because, they are really hurting us now.

Posted by: Reid on February 14, 2003 08:40 PM

Sorry for the double post - I didn't think it took the first time, gave me an error screen.

Posted by: Reid on February 14, 2003 08:41 PM

If they were paid back, then we owe nothing to each other--and each one has no need to support or assist the other.
Ah,yes,realpolitik. It makes the world so much more...interesting.

Posted by: Emma on February 14, 2003 08:47 PM

In the current context of islamic terrorism, I am not sure that trying to avoid an unnecessary war would neccessarily "hurt" America.

Remember how the US military presence in Saudi Arabia created a resentment that led to the creation to Al Qaeda.

An OP-ED in the NYT by the French ambassador

A Warning on Iraq, From a Friend
By JEAN-DAVID LEVITTE


ASHINGTON — Reading the papers from both sides of the Atlantic, I sometimes wonder whether the impending war is not between France and the United States. I would like to strongly reaffirm what, in the heart of the French people, is a longstanding reality: the friendship between France and America began in the early days of your fight for independence and has endured throughout the centuries.

America rescued my country twice in the last century — something we will never forget. Today we stand side by side in many parts of the world, including Afghanistan. France is the largest contributor of troops to NATO operations. Our friendship is a treasure, and it must be maintained, protected, enhanced.

However, the polls are clear: 78 percent of French people oppose a military intervention in Iraq. Polls are similar in most other countries, including in Eastern Europe. European governments may be divided over the use of force in Iraq, but public opinion is united.

There are, in my view, three reasons the mood is so cautious. The first relates to our assessment of what is far and away the biggest threat to world peace and stability: Al Qaeda.

French intelligence is clear that not since the Algerian war 40 years ago has my country been under such an immediate threat. Last May, 11 French citizens were killed in a suicide bombing in Karachi, Pakistan. In the fall a French tanker was attacked by Al Qaeda off Yemen. And in December, near Paris, we arrested several suspects who were suspected of close links to Al Qaeda and of planning terrorist attacks in France.

Terrorist suspects have also been arrested elsewhere in Europe — in Britain, Spain and Italy — belonging to groups connected with networks active in Afghanistan, Chechnya, Algeria and Bosnia. Yet we haven't seen any evidence of a direct link between the Iraqi regime and Al Qaeda.

A second reason for the reluctance of the French people is that Iraq is not viewed as an immediate threat. Thanks to the determination of President Bush and the international community — and to the inspections that destroyed more armaments between 1991 and 1998 than did the Persian Gulf war itself, and which have now been reinforced with stronger means and bigger teams — Saddam Hussein is in a box. And the box has been closed with the inspectors in it.

Europeans consider North Korea a greater threat. Imagine what a sense of security we all would feel if, as in Iraq, 100 inspectors were proceeding with unimpeded inspections throughout North Korea, including the president's palaces.

A third reason for the cautious mood relates to the consequences of a war in Iraq. We see Iraq as a very complex country, with many different ethnic groups, a tradition of violence and no experience of democracy. You can't create democracy with bombs — in Iraq, it would require time, a strong presence and a strong committment.

We also worry about the region — considering that no peace process is at work for the moment in the Middle East, that none of the great powers seem able to foster one, and that a war in Iraq could result in more frustration and bitterness in the Arab and Muslim worlds.

People in France and more broadly in Europe fear that a military intervention could fuel extremism and encourage Qaeda recruitment. A war could weaken the indispensable international coalition against terrorism and worsen the threat of Islamic terrorism.

The inspections should be pursued and strengthened, and Saddam Hussein must be made to cooperate actively. War must remain the very last option.

Jean-David Levitte is French ambassador to the United States.


Posted by: Fberthol on February 14, 2003 08:53 PM

Lafayette aside, France only entered the American Revolution to weaken its nemesis, Britain, and to gain territory in other parts of the world.

Let's remember two things: First, France never gave its North American territory to its inhabitants. France either lost its territory in war or sold it (The Louisiana Territory). Wherever French armies went they stayed. Second, American armies marched up and down France twice last century and after the fighting stopped - we handed it all back. Damn, writing that made me feel good.

Posted by: Dan Jordan on February 14, 2003 08:58 PM

Mr. Jordan has obviously forgotten a French province known as Cochin China.

Or, more likely, he never knew.

Posted by: Charles Utwater II on February 14, 2003 10:07 PM

It looks to me like both sides - those for war and those against - just aren't honest about their reasons.

The French are against an attack on Iraq because: (1) they consider Iraq in their (continually diminishing) sphere of influence; (2) they are happy with the world's status quo and don't want to risk a major change; (3) they hope their position will earn them brownie points from Islamic terrorists (who will give priority to the U.S. and Britain); (4) if the U.S. were to win easily, it would lead to more hegemony for the Americans; (5) the French are slighted that the Americans don't listen to them to the degree that they think they (and their "superior brains") deserve; and yes (6) war (at least on the scale the U.S. is planning - see the Cote d'Ivoire), which can cause deaths of many innocents, should be well thought out and not entered into lightly, which may not seem to be the case.

The Americans are for the war because: (1) they need to get their troops out of Saudi Arabia, but they don't want to leave it next to a potentially hostile Iraq; (2) they are worried about Saudi Arabia's reliability, and need Iraq to be on "their" side in case Saudi Arabia is put on the "other" list; (3) Saddam Hussein is a sworn enemy of the U.S., and you don't leave enemies in power when you can get rid of them; (4) the Bush Administration promised a lot of people - Kurds and so forth - that it was going to get rid of Hussein, probably by saying "You can trust us this time," and it would have a large credibility problem should it welch; (5) the U.S. is pissed off that other countries basically went against the spirit of the U.N. embargo by trying to sign deals with Iraq which would take effect after the embargo was lifted, while its companies weren't able to; (6) the U.S. hopes that, by doing something for the Iraqi people against its tyrant (note - it can't kill too many of them), the people will be grateful, and this gratitude might give other peoples in the Mideast a more positive idea of the U.S. (rather than, as has been recently the case, as one who supports the tyrants against the people); and yes (7) if Hussein has or is close to getting W.M.D.s, it would be better to get rid of him now. And a case for war now rather than later: (8) these things take time, there are already plenty of reservists away from their families, and sending them back only to repost them again next Christmas season is not going to do wonders for their morale.

What we actually get instead is a dishonest argument. The French try to stall war, knowing (1) this hurts the Americans (but that's okay, because they don't want the Americans to win too convincingly anyway, because that would lead to greater American hegemony); and (2) this gives them credit with the Arab and Islamic world. The Americans want to barrel ahead because - well it's too late to turn back now, and they would look like real fools should they have to back down.

Sigh.

Posted by: Andrew Boucher on February 14, 2003 11:50 PM

I'll take your estimate of American intentions. But I think the French ambassador is entirely sincere in the good reasons he gives against the war. Forget WW2: since then, France has fought two very long colonial wars, in Vietnam and Algeria. The Americans learnt nothing from the French experience in Vietnam. It appears now that they are determined to learn nothing from the Algerian experience either. Invading Iraq means taking on a major colonial responsibility. Nothing in the American papers or blogs that I read suggest that people understand this or want to face up to it. On the contrary, the discussion is conducted as if the only limits on American power are self-imposed.

People in favour of the war on the grounds of American national interest should honestly say how many troops they think will be in Iraq in a year's time, in ten years, and in twenty years.

Posted by: Andrew Brown on February 15, 2003 12:35 AM

>The Americans are for the war because: (1) . . .

If so, how come this news report of 18 January on American media of a recent Newsweek poll?

"Support for a military option would be strong, 81 per cent, if the United States were to act with full allied support and the backing of the United Nations Security Council. A majority would be opposed should this country act without the support of the UN and had no more than one or two allies." Source: http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/World/Iraq/2003/01/18/12595-ap.html

Posted by: Bob Briant on February 15, 2003 04:24 AM

I'd point out that the French support for the American Revolution was bracketed by the French-Indian Wars against those future rebels, and a quasi-war fought on the seas against the U.S. Support for the Revolution was, at the highest levels, a purely geopolitical maneuver - and in reality an error, as it cost the French monarchy its own existence.

Just as long as we're talking ancient history, of course ...

Posted by: Kurt Montandon on February 15, 2003 05:00 AM

>>Second, American armies marched up and down France twice last century and after the fighting stopped - we handed it all back.

Should I conclude that France should be thankful to America for not annexing it after WWII???

Oh! Did somebody mentionned the Statue de la Liberte yet? I can't wait to read how irrelevant that is too.

The other night a US ambassador was making the case for war on a European network. He ran into a problem after crticizing France, Germany and Belgium for failing to show/do "allegeance"...

Americans do have one weird way of thinking of their international relatioships... Anyway, why care? we are divorsed.

Posted by: Jean-Philippe on February 15, 2003 05:21 AM

Andrew, that's a rather charitable interpretation of american reasons for the war.

Posted by: Jason McCullough on February 15, 2003 06:01 AM

Andrew, that's a rather charitable interpretation of american reasons for the war.

Posted by: Jason McCullough on February 15, 2003 06:02 AM

The reason we dislike the French so intensely is that they are just like us. We don't want anyone telling us what to do. From land mine treaties to greenhouse gases, we want to maintain our sovereignty. So do the French. If we are not careful, we will set a precedent for attacking neighboring countries any time one feels threatened. Should make for exciting times on the India-Pakistan border. I vacation in France nearly every year. They share a common bond with us. The common people are good, the politicians (all parties) are basically out for themselves.
Do we owe them a debt of gratitude? Not really. Should we maintain open dialog with any and all countries? Certainly.

Posted by: Frank on February 15, 2003 06:32 AM

Ground Zero here is a just a couple of hundred yards north of the spot where Lafayette landed in NY to accept the nation's gratitude. I have a hard time believing he'd have anything but contempt for the govenrnment now installed in Paris.

Posted by: Bucky Dent on February 15, 2003 07:28 AM

“The reason we dislike the French so intensely is that they are just like us. We don't want anyone telling us what to do.”

The major difference is that the leadership of the United States values rational thought far more than do its French counterparts. France is paying a severe price for the nefarious intellectual influences of such folks as Jean Paul Sartre, Michael Foucault, and Jacques Derrida. One should never underestimate the damage resulting from the failed French Revolution. This was one of the most evil events in the history of humankind. The American Revolution was successful because it embraced the principle of check and balances.

America thankfully is “anti-intellectual.” Richard Hofstadter was right on target to criticize the hostility of the red neck variety towards knowledge. However, a nation must also equally fear its white wine and brie cheese intellectual class. William F. Buckley brilliantly stated that he would rather be governed by the first thousand names in the Boston phone book than the faculty of Harvard University. Sadly, it seems that the French pay far too much attention to its academic weirdoes.

Posted by: David Thomson on February 15, 2003 08:41 AM

I see someone has read Lafayette's mind. As someone who has published unpublished letters of Lafayette's, I suggest he is, ah, mistaken. He might try reading some Lafayette, there's plenty of it.
Also: no, no, no! The French have to thank us for WW II, we DON'T have to thank them for Independence. It's that simple.

Posted by: John Isbell on February 15, 2003 09:03 AM

I believe the people running France today regard themselves as the heirs not of the government which helped us in our Revolution-- that of Louis XVI-- but rather of the revolutionaries who overthrew it. Should we start thinking of repaying our debt to Louis by avenging him?

Posted by: Paul Zrimsek on February 15, 2003 09:23 AM

Jason: Andrew, that's a rather charitable interpretation of american reasons for the war.Whoops! I left out: (0) The Americans hope to increase their world hegemony, and profit therefrom.

David: The major difference is that the leadership of the United States values rational thought far more than do its French counterparts. France is paying a severe price for the nefarious intellectual influences of such folks as Jean Paul Sartre, Michael Foucault, and Jacques Derrida.
I don't think Sartre or Foucault have anything to do with it. The French are calculating what is in their national interest and trying to achieve it by "war by other means", that is diplomacy. I don't think Sartre, Foucault, or Derrida gave a hoot about France's national interest.

Posted by: Andrew Boucher on February 15, 2003 10:18 AM

"The French are calculating what is in their national interest and trying to achieve it by "war by other means", that is diplomacy"

Diplomacy, like all forms of negotiations, only works if both sides are trying to be honest with each other. Thus, it is foolish to seek a purely diplomatic solution with Saddam Hussein. He is a moral monster who does not hesitate to violate agreements. The Iraqi dictator only respects the use of power. The French were mealy mouthers during the Cold War with the Soviet Union. If it was up to them, the Communists would still be in power.

The intellectual traditions of the French are mostly banal and bordering on the ridiculous. Geniuses like Raymond Aron and Frederick Bastiat are the exception and unfortunately not the norm. The second raters dominate their universities and political institutions. We should feel sorry for them.

Posted by: David Thomson on February 15, 2003 10:46 AM

Yeah sure its all Foucoult, Derrida, and Sartre's fault. How dare those postmodern moral savages try to stop our imperial ambitions...

What a foolish canard. France is responding the way they are because of their history with colonialism and the lessons they have learned. They are also clearly acting in thier national interest. How could we expect them to act otherwise? No one in the French government is against the war because there is no truth. They are agaist the war because the US government is demonstraby lying.

DT is against postmodernism, the French Revolution, Harvard, and the Catholic Church. I hope soon we will hear his views on how the Enlightenment was overrated.

Posted by: biz on February 15, 2003 11:27 AM

France, beneath all the bold assertions of being America's "friend" and how "concerned" they are about terrorism is playing the same lowlife games of cowardice and very narrow self-interest they have played since about the 1930s. A dangerous and aggressive dictator trying to acquire major league weapons? Well, just appease the poor upset deary, sell out another democracy, then sit back and let the problem continue to boil. And when it eventually boils over cry out how they honestly had no idea the situation was that bad. Shortly thereafter surrender to the enemy and cry for the "anglosphere" nations to save their cowardly, lazy, butts--AGAIN.
At this point I am willing to let, if it comes to that, France/Paris enjoy a long holiday under Shari' Law. If their Muslum population continues to grow by high immigration and birthrates while the Gaulic peoples age and do not replace themselves the above scenario is possible in a few decades. Enjoy a lonely and bleak future Frenchie.
Count me among the American's who are heartily sick of your snobbery and stupidity pretending to be "noble" thoughts and values.
I am a Texan, an American, a (reserve) soldier, a "cowboy", a gun owner, and a "warmonger". Let the French cower in fear of the future and western freedom's enemys. The US is gearing up to meet it and them head on! Let the enemy beware the rage of an America "Locked and Loaded", and on the hunt!

Posted by: Rifle308 on February 15, 2003 11:38 AM

France, beneath all the bold assertions of being America's "friend" and how "concerned" they are about terrorism is playing the same lowlife games of cowardice and very narrow self-interest they have played since about the 1930s. A dangerous and aggressive dictator trying to acquire major league weapons? Well, just appease the poor upset deary, sell out another democracy, then sit back and let the problem continue to boil. And when it eventually boils over cry out how they honestly had no idea the situation was that bad. Shortly thereafter surrender to the enemy and cry for the "anglosphere" nations to save their cowardly, lazy, butts--AGAIN.
At this point I am willing to let, if it comes to that, France/Paris enjoy a long holiday under Shari' Law. If their Muslum population continues to grow by high immigration and birthrates while the Gaulic peoples age and do not replace themselves the above scenario is possible in a few decades. Enjoy a lonely and bleak future Frenchie.
Count me among the American's who are heartily sick of your snobbery and stupidity pretending to be "noble" thoughts and values.
I am a Texan, an American, a (reserve) soldier, a "cowboy", a gun owner, and a "warmonger". Let the French cower in fear of the future and western freedom's enemys. The US is gearing up to meet it and them head on! Let the enemy beware the rage of an America "Locked and Loaded", and on the hunt!

Posted by: Rifle308 on February 15, 2003 11:39 AM

France, beneath all the bold assertions of being America's "friend" and how "concerned" they are about terrorism is playing the same lowlife games of cowardice and very narrow self-interest they have played since about the 1930s. A dangerous and aggressive dictator trying to acquire major league weapons? Well, just appease the poor upset deary, sell out another democracy, then sit back and let the problem continue to boil. And when it eventually boils over cry out how they honestly had no idea the situation was that bad. Shortly thereafter surrender to the enemy and cry for the "anglosphere" nations to save their cowardly, lazy, butts--AGAIN.
At this point I am willing to let, if it comes to that, France/Paris enjoy a long holiday under Shari' Law. If their Muslum population continues to grow by high immigration and birthrates while the Gaulic peoples age and do not replace themselves the above scenario is possible in a few decades. Enjoy a lonely and bleak future Frenchie.
Count me among the American's who are heartily sick of your snobbery and stupidity pretending to be "noble" thoughts and values.
I am a Texan, an American, a (reserve) soldier, a "cowboy", a gun owner, and a "warmonger". Let the French cower in fear of the future and western freedom's enemys. The US is gearing up to meet it and them head on! Let the enemy beware the rage of an America "Locked and Loaded", and on the hunt!

Posted by: Rifle308 on February 15, 2003 11:39 AM

France, beneath all the bold assertions of being America's "friend" and how "concerned" they are about terrorism is playing the same lowlife games of cowardice and very narrow self-interest they have played since about the 1930s. A dangerous and aggressive dictator trying to acquire major league weapons? Well, just appease the poor upset deary, sell out another democracy, then sit back and let the problem continue to boil. And when it eventually boils over cry out how they honestly had no idea the situation was that bad. Shortly thereafter surrender to the enemy and cry for the "anglosphere" nations to save their cowardly, lazy, butts--AGAIN.
At this point I am willing to let, if it comes to that, France/Paris enjoy a long holiday under Shari' Law. If their Muslum population continues to grow by high immigration and birthrates while the Gaulic peoples age and do not replace themselves the above scenario is possible in a few decades. Enjoy a lonely and bleak future Frenchie.
Count me among the American's who are heartily sick of your snobbery and stupidity pretending to be "noble" thoughts and values.
I am a Texan, an American, a (reserve) soldier, a "cowboy", a gun owner, and a "warmonger". Let the French cower in fear of the future and western freedom's enemys. The US is gearing up to meet it and them head on! Let the enemy beware the rage of an America "Locked and Loaded", and on the hunt!

Posted by: Rifle308 on February 15, 2003 11:40 AM

France, beneath all the bold assertions of being America's "friend" and how "concerned" they are about terrorism is playing the same lowlife games of cowardice and very narrow self-interest they have played since about the 1930s. A dangerous and aggressive dictator trying to acquire major league weapons? Well, just appease the poor upset deary, sell out another democracy, then sit back and let the problem continue to boil. And when it eventually boils over cry out how they honestly had no idea the situation was that bad. Shortly thereafter surrender to the enemy and cry for the "anglosphere" nations to save their cowardly, lazy, butts--AGAIN.
At this point I am willing to let, if it comes to that, France/Paris enjoy a long holiday under Shari' Law. If their Muslum population continues to grow by high immigration and birthrates while the Gaulic peoples age and do not replace themselves the above scenario is possible in a few decades. Enjoy a lonely and bleak future Frenchie.
Count me among the American's who are heartily sick of your snobbery and stupidity pretending to be "noble" thoughts and values.
I am a Texan, an American, a (reserve) soldier, a "cowboy", a gun owner, and a "warmonger". Let the French cower in fear of the future and western freedom's enemys. The US is gearing up to meet it and them head on! Let the enemy beware the rage of an America "Locked and Loaded", and on the hunt!

Posted by: Rifle308 on February 15, 2003 11:40 AM

"No one in the French government is against the war because there is no truth. They are agaist the war because the US government is demonstraby lying."

Yep, the French are indeed calling our national leaders liars. Every American needs to face up to this fact: the French are not our allies.

"Well, just appease the poor upset deary, sell out another democracy, then sit back and let the problem continue to boil. And when it eventually boils over cry out how they (the French) honestly had no idea the situation was that bad. Shortly thereafter surrender to the enemy and cry for the "anglosphere" nations to save their cowardly, lazy, butts--AGAIN."

No truer words were ever spoken about the French. How does a citizen of France look into a mirror? That must be an extremely dificult task to perform. The French intellectual tradition of "everything is relative" hinders them from reaching validly moral conclusions. I find it hard to believe that Bill "I didn't have sex with that woman" Clinton didn't go to school in France.

Posted by: David Thomson on February 15, 2003 11:59 AM

>biz: France is ... acting in thier [sic] national interest.

To put a fine point on this, the current government is acting in what it believes to be in its own interest.

Cozying up to foreign mass murderers who are paying customers, quietly experiencing a rash of anti-semitic violence at home, overtly and comically screwing other European nations with its support for the Common Agriculture Policy, all make sense from the point of view of "a government".

But to say such short-term oriented damn-the-rest-of-the-world antics by a nation whose population is doomed to contract and whose economy is mired in socialist quicksand constitute a rational long-term agenda is, I think, misguided.

The French are free to screw *themselves*. The rest of us may feel differently about being on the receiving end of their nostrums. And we too have very long memories.

Posted by: Bucky Dent on February 15, 2003 12:16 PM

Bucky: Maybe the French are doomed, who knows? But I don't think you can underestimate their capacities for diplomacy. You mention the Common Agriculture Policy. A few months back the French made Germany eat dirt by not agreeing to any immediate reforms (Germany is the nation paying for it all). You would rationally think the Germans would promise to get even. The contrary has happened: Schroder went out on the limb against the Americans and Iraq, and it is the French who rode to his rescue. The French are just very good at diplomacy; they spend money on it and they are pretty single-minded about it. The U.S. deprives its State Department of financing, and uses it as a dumping ground for unqualified political contributors. Punching people in the nose is not always the most cost-efficient way of getting your way; sometimes a little subtlety would help.
You mention the French population is contracting; it has one of the highest birthrates in Europe, simply because you get enormous benefits for having a kid. (My wife is off for a year after having a fourth.)"Cozying up to foreign mass murderers" is a great line, except of course the U.S. was doing the same with Hussein until Koweit.
What the Bush Administration failed to do, was figure out and explain what attacking Iraq now was all about. If it's about W.M.D.s, then why on Earth are we not able to find any? I know, I know, they could be in little vans crisscrossing the Iraqi desert. But I'm afraid there's an incoherence between the huge numbers set forth on what the Iraqis possess in terms of chemical W.M.D.s - meant to show the world what a great danger they are - and the fact that the Inspectors haven't come up with anything. I mean, if there's that much stuff there, then something should turn up, no? There's also an incoherence with the idea that Iraq has chemical or nuclear W.M.D.s now and the willingness for America to invade. It would seem you're putting the lives of 150000 American troops at risk if you really believe Iraq has these W.M.D.s, and it seems hardly likely that the U.S. would do this. (40000 Americans in the danger zone in South Korea is enough apparently to make the U.S. pause before doing anything about North Korea.) So what it seems is, at best (or rather, at worst): the Iraqis are developing chemical, nuclear, or biological W.M.Ds. and may have them soon; *or* maybe they have biological W.M.D.s now. But that wasn't the message coming from the Bush Administration. Or from Blair, whose release of intelligence information about Saddam Hussein was a clownish cut-and-paste from old public sources. When you're trying to corral supporters for a war, you need to be able to express and explain, with laser-like clarity, and reasonable honesty, why. The Anglo-Saxons have failed miserably so far in this.

Posted by: Andrew Boucher on February 15, 2003 01:17 PM

>>
A third reason for the cautious mood relates to the consequences of a war in Iraq. We see Iraq as a very complex country, with many different ethnic groups, a tradition of violence and no experience of democracy. You can't create democracy with bombs — in Iraq, it would require time, a strong presence and a strong committment.
>>
Next time I'm in Tokyo or Berlin, I'll bring that up.

Posted by: John Bono on February 15, 2003 01:33 PM

>>
A third reason for the cautious mood relates to the consequences of a war in Iraq. We see Iraq as a very complex country, with many different ethnic groups, a tradition of violence and no experience of democracy. You can't create democracy with bombs — in Iraq, it would require time, a strong presence and a strong committment.
>>
Next time I'm in Tokyo or Berlin, I'll bring that up.

Posted by: John Bono on February 15, 2003 01:33 PM

>>
You can't create democracy with bombs
>>
Next time I'm in Tokyo or Berlin, I'll bring that up.

Posted by: John Bono on February 15, 2003 01:34 PM

>I don't think you can underestimate their capacities for diplomacy.

True. They've managed to piss off most of peripheral Europe, as well as the populace of the world's most powerful economic and military power.

>The U.S. deprives its State Department of financing, and uses it as a dumping ground for unqualified political contributors.

You're confusing State with Commerce. :)

>You mention the French population is contracting; it has one of the highest birthrates in Europe...

CIA factbook: "France 1.74 children born/woman (2002 est.)" Fertility of 2.1 is replacement. That France will contract slower than, say, Italy (1.19) doesn't alter the fact that they're contracting.

Posted by: Bucky Dent on February 15, 2003 01:39 PM

It is astonishing to read this patronising, ignorant gibberish about French history, from a country which never declared war on Germany and stood to one side, profiteering, throughout 1939, 1940, and all but three weeks of 1941.

It is absurd to criticise the French collapse in 1940 without reference to its sufferings in 1914-18. I can only assume that this rash of Francophobia across the warhard constituency is an expression of a thoroughly rotten conscience.

Posted by: Andrew Brown on February 15, 2003 02:03 PM

>It is absurd to criticise the French collapse in 1940 without reference to its sufferings in 1914-18. I can only assume that this rash of Francophobia across the warhard constituency is an expression of a thoroughly rotten conscience.

You mean because France, who was rescued by us nasty Anglo-Saxons in 1918, is being so ungrateful?

Posted by: Bucky Dent on February 15, 2003 02:11 PM

So many comments to make. First it seems the hotheads are out today, but we should remember that France is a long-term ally despite our disagreements. Countries with secure, established democracies are still a rarity in this world and we need to stick together. I am partly to blame for my earlier post.

I do think that on a day when thousands are calling America imperialists and terrorists, America's good acts should be remembered. I bet the Poles wish America had been in their country rather than the Soviets.

I would like to apologise, on behalf of those of us from the other 49 states, for Texas.

And Mr. Bono, we still have soldiers in Japan and Germany. Are you saying that we will have soldiers in Iraq in 50 years to promote democracy there? If so, I am against the war.

Posted by: Dan Jordan on February 15, 2003 02:30 PM

Speaking as someone who believes it is in the interests of the U.S. to remove Hussein, and shatter the fascist status quo of the Middle East, it might be time to consider taking whatever means available to divide the EU, and thereby harm French and German interests as much as possible. If one is the most powerful entity, it does well to provide occasional instruction to other entities as to how payback is an absolute bitch. Formenting divisions in the EU, and thereby inflicting costs upon France and Germany, may be a useful way to do this. Of course, this would require a President who was willing to take political risks on matters of trade, an area in which this President has so far been absolutely deficient. In any case, if France and Germany perceive that their interests lie in opposition to stated U.S. goals, then the U.S. should maximize the cost to France and Germany of pursuing those interests. Nothing, short of violence, should be forsaken.

Posted by: Will Allen on February 15, 2003 02:32 PM

If the cost of having non-fascist governments in a region of the world that contains needed energy supplies that cannot be replaced for decades is to have American troops stationed there for those decades, it may be a reasonable cost to pay. This isn't to say that the task is easy or that it it doesn't carry with it grave risks. Maintaining the status quo, however, also carries grave risk.

Posted by: Will Allen on February 15, 2003 02:42 PM

"It is absurd to criticise the French collapse in 1940 without reference to its sufferings in 1914-18."

I hope that Andrew Brown does a better job defending Charles Darwin than he does the French. Let's get something straight right here and now: the French military was stronger than the Nazis when it capitulated. It might behoove Mr. brown to read Ernest May's "Strange Victory: Hitler's Conquest of France."

The French pacifists discouraged any real opposition to Adolph Hitler. Those who fail to learn from history must repeat it. I’ve already learned from the French on what not to do about Saddam Hussein! Appeasement only emboldens the tyrant.

Posted by: David Thomson on February 15, 2003 02:43 PM

Will: As much as I loathe what the French and German governments are doing, I'd put trade sanctions in the same category as war - beyond the pale of action except in extremis.

The Great Depression arguably arose from a trade war, and there is no reason to threaten the world with such a possibility over a relative trifle such as a nation [Iraq] whose GDP is 1/5 the size of last year's AOL loss.

Besides, France and Germany are not that exposed to US trade. And it is a good bet that with long borders and canny traders, any sanctions could be outflanked anyway.

So we'd be doing the world far more harm by starting a trade war, than any evil we'd be doing by liberating Iraq.

Finally, US citizens are already openly discussing boycotting French and German products, even without the US govt formally encouraging such action.

The smothering inefficiencies of Old Europe will continue to drag the Continent along its path of relative decline for the foreseeable future. Accelerating the process for spite, for now, doesn't seem worth the bother.

Posted by: Bucky Dent on February 15, 2003 02:52 PM

I was unclear, and a litle contradictory. I was not speaking of the U.S. instituting trade sanctions against the EU, or France and Germany specifically. I agree it would harm us as much as those upon whom we intend to inflict costs. There may be measures, however, that the U.S. could undertake that help forment division within the EU, and thus inflict cost upon France and Germany, which do not involve the U.S. erecting trade barriers. The President, however, would have to risk offending some consituencies, so it is unlikely to happen.

In any case, it must be recognized that although France and Germany are not outright enemies, they are not allies, and they will ruthlessly pursue their interests, no matter the cost to U.S. goals. The U.S. should endeavor to be more ruthless in pursuit of it's goals, and part of that endeavor is to administer an extremely harsh lesson as to the cost of opposing the U.S. when it is in pursuit of an extremely important strategy, and strategies pertaining to war and peace are the most important of all. If an actor attempts to thwart U.S. policy regarding the administration of foreign aid to East Africa, it does not carry much import. To attempt to thwart U.S. policy regarding the Persian Gulf, however, must carry as high a cost as can be devised. Undoubtedly, the cost should be inflicted as subtly as possible, with a minimum of fanfare. For the United States to fail to do so, however, will only engender contempt from parties around the globe, and further harm U.S. interests. Utter and complete, although quiet, ruthlessness should be the order of the day. After a brief lull since the collapse of the Soviet Empire, history is restarting, except that this chapter will be more complex, and perhaps even more dangerous. Many assumptions regarding alliances and shared interests will be proven false, and it will require an unsentimental, cold-eyed, wisdom by the most powerful entity, the United States, to steer a course which maximizes peace and prosperity.

Posted by: Will Allen on February 15, 2003 03:21 PM

"Whoops! I left out: (0) The Americans hope to increase their world hegemony, and profit therefrom."

Cmon, be serious. How about "ensure stability of oil supply?" How about "increase influence in region at expense of Russia, China, and yes, Europe?" That list you have there puts the worst possible spin on France, while gosh darn it, the US is just too idealistic!

"You can't create democracy with bombs
>>
Next time I'm in Tokyo or Berlin, I'll bring that up."

Can you create democracy out of whole cloth? Berlin had a signficant democratic tradition before Hitler, and Tokyo had something of one. I don't think it's impossible in Iraq, but its going to be a nation building exercise unlike any the US has ever undertaken.

'Cozying up to foreign mass murderers who are paying customers, quietly experiencing a rash of anti-semitic violence at home, overtly and comically screwing other European nations with its support for the Common Agriculture Policy, all make sense from the point of view of "a government".

Well, we don't have anti-semitic violence, but the US is still cozying up to mass murders and subsidizing its agricultural products. 1/3, I guess.

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

>Berlin had a signficant democratic tradition before Hitler, and Tokyo had something of one.

This is like your Saddam - Ben-Gurion parallel on another thread.

I strongly urge you to either a) study history, or , b) not post in areas outside your expertise.

>subsidizing its agricultural products.

We, wrongly in my opinion, subsidize OUR OWN FARMERS. The CAP the French support forces citizens in OTHER nations to pay into French pockets.

Posted by: Bucky Dent on February 15, 2003 04:11 PM

"Berlin had a signficant democratic tradition before Hitler, and Tokyo had something of one."

Jason McCullough's post is actually providing further ammunition to those who disagree with him. Being half right is simply not good enough. Germany's nascent democracy did not have check and balance constitutional mechanisms to prevent Hitler's takeover. The country’s long standing tradition of handing power over to a strong leader instead held sway. This is likewise true regarding pre-WWII Japanese society. A virtual religious belief in the supremacy of the Emperor was vastly more dominant than Japan’s flirtations with citizens voting to determine their political preferences. It indeed took American occupation of both countries to get them to truly become democratic. I see no way that we can do anything different with the Iraqis.

Posted by: David Thomson on February 15, 2003 04:35 PM

"If the cost of having non-fascist governments in a region of the world that contains needed energy supplies that cannot be replaced for decades is to have American troops stationed there for those decades, it may be a reasonable cost to pay"

Or how about replacing gaz guzzling, U.S. government subsidized, SUV's with hybrid cars and get 5x more gas efficiency instantly. There are too many monied-interests in this country which keep us from doing just that.

Those of you who support spreading hostilities with France and Germany and sidling up with small, infant democracies are really putting American foreign policy in a precarious situation. Without broad international support for the war on terror, we will lose that war to Al Qaeda, in terms of reduced trade and security.

Posted by: Dan Jordan on February 15, 2003 04:40 PM

"Countries with secure, established democracies are still a rarity in this world and we need to stick together."

Wouldn't this insight be better directed to the legion of Israel-bashers over in Europe?

Posted by: Paul Zrimsek on February 15, 2003 07:01 PM

I would dearly, dearly like an explanation of why many conservatives (particulary DT and BD) continually refer to the US intervention in WW1 and 2 as some sort of policy they inherit out of conservative american nationalism? Woodrow Wilson would be absolutely disgusted by that sort of thought. As would Roosevelt (though for most conservatives, the feeling would likely be mutual). To take credit for the successes of your ideological enemies is a particularly inane recent habit of the conservatives.

The liberals who lead the US through ww1 and 2, and the aftermath, understood that unilateral self interest isn't a very useful strategy in the long term. That is the lesson behind creating the EU--remember, to keep germany deeply emeshed in Europe, rather than attempting to dominate? That was the lesson behind the League of Nations, and later the UN. A lesson which is profoundly and completely rejected by the pro-war groups today.

For all those who make the claim that europe misunderstands the lessons of its own tyrants, it would be useful, perhaps, to ask the europeans what lessons they drew. And it would be good for the US to admit to its long, long history (particularly in recent times) of happily supporting tyrants, and overthrowing democracies. Or perhaps history doesn't matter in that respect, adn the argument shouldn't be made? Which is it?

For France and Germany--they are still good and important allies. Allies can and will disagree. And should. Sycophants are worthless in the long term. We can politely say we don't trust in their advice in this matter. If they reply that this little experiment risks european relationships with Turkey and the Arab world, we could try to be a bit accomodating.

Finally, why does american diplocacy look like the essential worldview of a 6-year old mind. Friends and enemies, and nary a shade of grey in sight? Every slight nursed and remembered, every favor called for. Why live that way?

Brennan

Posted by: Brennan Peterson on February 15, 2003 07:59 PM

Ah, the pipe dream of magically doing without Persian Gulf oil will never die. It is the predecessor of the "magic business pixie dust" commercials that IBM currently runs. Yes, there are things that can be done, at varying degrees of cost, to increase energy efficiency. However, to believe that these measures will greatly reduce the world's need for Persian Gulf oil, assuming we want to avoid crushing economic dislocations, is fantasy. Having fascists control the oil of the Middle East is no longer tenable, because of the money it provides to entities which desire to slaughter American civilians, if for no other reason. To maintain the status quo guarantees disaster, and the longer it is delayed, the more disastrous the scenario will be.

As for the remarks of Mr. Peterson, it is typical of the type of condescension that will ultimately prove so costly to some Europeans. Have no fear, Mr. Peterson; a good many Americans are capable of a completely businesslike, ruthless, and unsentimental approach to foreign relations. They will recognize some Europeans' pursuit of self interest for what it is, not be offended in the least, and will subsequently decide to behave similarly. Part of that pursuit will involve providing an education as to the cost of thwarting the goals of the United States pertaining to a region it considers of vital importance.

Posted by: Will Allen on February 15, 2003 10:05 PM

I should add that if the France and Germany had been forthright in their opposition to U.S. goals from the onset, a workable accomadation may have been possible. Instead, the Germans and French have been entirely cynical and duplicitous in their behavior, particularly in regards to UN Security Counsel resolutions. This is not said in a moralistic fashion, but merely as a statement of fact. They have done so because they believed it was in their interests to do so. The U.S. must now recognize them as potentially hostile entities, and treat them as such. This does not necessarily mean any grand public pronouncement, but more likely should mean the pursuit of a subtle, quiet, and equally duplicitous strategy which seeks to isolate and marginalize them, and to thwart their own pursuit of self interest where it conflicts with ours.

Posted by: Will Allen on February 15, 2003 10:17 PM

Will: Ah, the pipe dream of magically doing without Persian Gulf oil will never die.
I don't know about magic, but I do know that Persian Gulf oil doesn't lie within our (America's) boundaries, so by most considerations, it is not ours. If we need the oil to keep our economy moving, that's our problem, not the rest of the world's. It does not justify war, and you can hardly expect other countries to support an attack on Iraq for reasons of oil.
How about this? We begin to tax oil the way the Europeans do, not pennies a gallon, but dollars. Lower payroll taxes and bring back the estate tax, etc., to make sure progressivity isn't lost. And then let the invisible hand take care of the rest.

Posted by: Andrew Boucher on February 16, 2003 02:52 AM

>BD) continually refer to the US intervention in WW1 and 2 as some sort of policy they inherit out of conservative american nationalism

I've never made such an assertion.

>The liberals who lead the US through ww1 and 2, and the aftermath, understood that unilateral self interest isn't a very useful strategy in the long term.

>Counter-example: Truman/Cold War

Posted by: Bucky Dent on February 16, 2003 04:14 AM

>We begin to tax oil the way the Europeans do, not pennies a gallon, but dollars. Lower payroll taxes and bring back the estate tax, etc., to make sure progressivity isn't lost. And then let the invisible hand take care of the rest.

Raising taxes is ALWAYS the answer, of course. The estate tax still exists, and raises a tiny fraction of the total tax take. It is irrelevant, but useful as a bloody shirt.

Increasing the production of US energy sources isn't mentioned, because then the Greens drop out of the coalition.

And dropping spanners into the works before invoking the invisible hand completes the statist case.

Posted by: Bucky Dent on February 16, 2003 04:47 AM

The point about French suffering in WW1 is not weakened by the idea that they had a notionally stronger army than the Germans in 1939. It's strengthened by it, since it suggest that the roots of their collapse were psychological. This has nothing to do with national character, and a great deal to do with the experience of Verdun.

Anyone who thinks that the Cold War strategy was one of the unilateral pursuit of national interest must have a hard time explaining the existence of Nato.

Posted by: Andrew Brown on February 16, 2003 06:15 AM

Bucky: You do see that I'm suggesting that we lower the payroll tax. If you want, with a wave of my hand, I'll suggest we make the whole thing "revenue neutral" - overall taxes don't increase. Oil taxes go up, though (and other taxes - except the Estate Tax !) go down. Is that okay then? Or do you believe the right to free oil is part of the Second Amendment? (Just kidding...)
And then if the invisible hand increases production of US energy sources, then, sure why not. But, as I understand it, the invisible hand won't do that - in fact, U.S. production should go down as well. (Increase in price makes demand go down, which means the price-before-tax of oil should go down, which means less U.S. production. But maybe I have that wrong.)

Posted by: Andrew Boucher on February 16, 2003 06:20 AM

I must admit, I am feeling extremly hurt by France's position these days. I do remember our shared history, and it is high on my mind that we share so many common values together. So, why do I suddenly have this aggressive urge to go on a French flag burning binge and eschew French products with demonstrative flair? I do because I see that France has made a conscious decision to eschew trust in us. It seems as though more trust is given by France to the Butcher of Bagdad than to the United States. Of course I feel hurt. I feel like someone whose has just found her husband in the arms of a woman of the evening and confesses that he feels more for her than for me. I want a divorce, I want you out of the house, and I am keeping the kids.

Posted by: Nicole Tedesco on February 16, 2003 07:20 AM

I must admit, I am feeling extremely hurt by France's position these days. I do remember our shared history, and it is high on my mind that we share so many common values together. So, why do I suddenly have this aggressive urge to go on a French flag burning binge and eschew French products with demonstrative flair? I do because I see that France has made a conscious decision to eschew trust in us. It seems as though more trust is given by France to the Butcher of Baghdad than to the United States. Of course I feel hurt. I feel like someone whose has just found her husband in the arms of a woman of the evening and confesses that he feels more for her than for me. I want a divorce, I want you out of the house, and I am keeping the kids.

Posted by: Nicole Tedesco on February 16, 2003 07:21 AM

Did I say "Germany was a perfect democracy before Hitler screwed everything up?" No, but they did have something of a democratic tradition, unlike Iraq, which has none. Christ.

"The CAP the French support forces citizens in OTHER nations to pay into French pockets."

I guess it's a question of degree then.

Posted by: Jason McCullough on February 16, 2003 07:35 AM

"Counter-example: Truman/Cold War"

Truman, a democrat, was one of the great multi-lateralists. NATO started under Truman and the Marshall Plan was implemented by him. He created the policy that eventually won the Cold War. That of America and its allies blocking communism at every point.

Oil dependence would be greatly reduced if we would use some conservation. The greens don't like to talk about increasing domestic production, but how come the Administration won't talk about real conservation? It seems to me a perfect compromise would be conservation and opening up Alaska to drilling. But the Administration would never do it because their cronies would lose so much money (see Boucher's economic analysis). Don't talk to me about the need for war when we have not tried conservation. War should be a last resort.

Posted by: Dan Jordan on February 16, 2003 08:48 AM

“The point about French suffering in WW1 is not weakened by the idea that they had a notionally stronger army than the Germans in 1939. It's strengthened by it, since it suggest that the roots of their collapse were psychological. This has nothing to do with national character, and a great deal to do with the experience of Verdun.”

Gosh darn it, the wonderful Mr. Andrew Brown is strengthening my central argument for me. He claims that the French quickly surrendered to the Nazis due to “psychological” reasons. The main point is that an aggressor was emboldened by their actions. That’s all that matters. We should learn from history and not allow the French to make a same mistake with the current tyrant, Saddam Hussein.

Posted by: David Thomson on February 16, 2003 08:55 AM

"Don't talk to me about the need for war when we have not tried conservation. War should be a last resort."

It appears that a few people are regretfully visiting the Indymedia website a little too often. The imminent war has nothing to do with oil. Any benefits of this sort will be an indirect result.

Posted by: David Thomson on February 16, 2003 09:01 AM

"I do because I see that France has made a conscious decision to eschew trust in us. It seems as though more trust is given by France to the Butcher of Baghdad than to the United States."

You are not sufficiently cynical. Trust has little to do with anything. The odds are overwhelming that both the Germans and the French possess abundant evidence via their own intelligence agencies concerning Saddam Hussein's threat to the world. Their reluctance has more to do with greed---and the fear that we will uncover the records implicating them in the selling of these weapons of mass destruction to the butcher of Baghdad.

Posted by: David Thomson on February 16, 2003 09:14 AM

>"The CAP the French support forces citizens in OTHER nations to pay into French pockets."

>I guess it's a question of degree then.

The thread is discussing diplomacy/foreign policy. There is no American analogue for *taxing* foreigners to provide a transfer payment going into the pockets of US farmers.

Not a question of degree at all.

And to say Germany and Japan had pre-WW2 "significant democratic traditions" is just silly. They may have aped some superficialities for a very short historical span, but nothing that would constitute a "tradition". It may be fair to say they were attempting to create a base for such a tradition, when things spun out of control.

Posted by: Bucky Dent on February 16, 2003 09:43 AM

>I'll suggest we make the whole thing "revenue neutral" - overall taxes don't increase.

Is there the slightest possiblity that a self-interested legislature/bureaucracy can undertake such a massive overhaul of the tax code without, shall we say, erring on the side of "caution"? I don't believe in the tooth fairy.

And how do you control for differenes in energy use patterns, with truckers getting the fuel/payroll tax balance but walk-to-work waitresses getting a "free ride" tax wise?

It's a lovely notion in the abstract, to be sure, but the political and administrative realities make it a total non-starter.

Posted by: Bucky Dent on February 16, 2003 09:50 AM

>Truman, a democrat, was one of the great multi-lateralists. NATO started under Truman and the Marshall Plan was implemented by him.

The US stood alone in the post WW2 world, opposite the Soviet Union. Our allies were militarily, economically, and diplomatically like ants next to an elephant.

Posted by: Bucky Dent on February 16, 2003 09:53 AM

I do understand the nature, history and the incentive behind the Great EU Project. However I strongly believe that the EU is the right idea being executed badly. First of all, EU growth has become a cause of spite against the Americans. Like an adolescent rebelling against her beloved parents, so it seems, the EU is apparently bending over backwards to hurt the Americans in every way possible, especially at the moment she is down (I will never forget the "Americans got what they deserve!" crap that emanated from the European street after 9/11). Spite. Second, the EU is not a democratic institution in as much as it has become a standards body--a European penchant for bureaucracy run amok. It appears to me, and someone please correct me if I am way off base, that EUism is similar to National Socialism in that the give and take of democratic politics is being thwarted for the seeming rational stability of state-as-corporation and bureaucratic rule. I do believe that the coming decades will show the EU structure to be deeply flawed, as to be evidenced by its inability to rapidly accommodate macroeconomic trends. Why? In the EU, legislation is becoming too great a determinant factor in economic dynamics. Legislation is only liquid when being created. Right now the creation of the EU bureaucracy is being accompanied by the rampant creation of legislation merely provides an illusion of market liquidity. Once the cement hardens, the ratchet-down will begin. The EU bureaucracy is also fertile ground for corruption scandle that will make Enron look like a child's piggy bank raid.

Posted by: Nicole Tedesco on February 16, 2003 11:12 AM

Quoth Will Allen:

"a good many Americans are capable of a completely businesslike, ruthless, and unsentimental approach to foreign relations"

I think this approach is doomed, in the long term, to failure. I think any ethic of interpersonal interaction should also be applied to international relations. Hard hearted realists took over the end of WW1--and failed grotesquely. In contrast, the end of ww2 was taken with a fairly liberal midset.

The hard hearted realists installed the shah in Iran, the Ba'athists in Iraq, the mujahedeen in Afghanistan, Chang Kai-Shek in China, Pinochet in Chile, traded arms to a decidedly terrorist Iran...the list goes on. I find that the hard-hearted realists have an extraordinarily poor hostory in international relations.

And the reason for this is a pretty simple lesson is how people view each other--and nations as well. Having an ethic of interaction, a goal and motive that goes beyond the crassly commercial, is rarely useful in the short term. In the long term, however, it fosters trust and a sense of mutual goals. Seeing everything through the lenses of null-sum win loss isn't, ultilmately, a productive way of running a personal life or international policy.

I do understand (and even appreciate) that people think differently. When you assume your neighbor acts without principles, it is hard to do so yourself. But I am very, very bothered when I see a group of selfish conservatives take credit (and when you say "france and germany owe us for ww2," you are by definition taking credit) for some of the greatest examples of liberal, international humanism of this century.

I still have yet to hear a convincing version of why international interaction should require an ethic that is cruder, simpler, and dumber than the minimum we accept for personal interaction. And indeed, why it shouldn't be more complex. I would like to hear a good argument on that nature.

Finally, perhaps it is just me, but I disagree, even substantially, with my friends all of the time. And I respect them for it--they don't become my enemies for it.

Brennan

Posted by: Brennan Peterson on February 16, 2003 11:25 AM

>the end of ww2 was taken with a fairly liberal midset

Mutually assured destruction, long-trigger nuclear submarines, proxy wars from Central America to Vietnam to Africa, massive aid toward the reconstruction of Europe...I don't know how the word "liberal" applies here.

Posted by: Bucky Dent on February 16, 2003 11:36 AM

The oil in the Persian Gulf does not "belong" to the facist dictators, either. If the region was governed by the people who lived there, instead of the fascists which oppress the populace, in relatively short order, the people who live there would do what free people always do, in the long run; they would sell what other people valued, in return for what they themselves value. Getting from here to there ain't easy (understatement intended), but it's gonna have to happen eventually, all dreams of of an oil-free world economy aside.

Mr. Peterson, for every failure of an unsentimental approach to international relations, I can name a worse, more gigantic failure due to a overly idealistic approach. Furthermore, I expressly stated that France and Germany were not enemies, but neither are they allies. Their dupicitous behavior has revealed them to be potentially hostile, and potential hostiles need to be made aware that hostility carries a price, unless one wishes to encourage more hostile behavior. Tell, me if your neighbors stood by while vandals made preparations to damage your home, or worse, sold the spray paint at a profit, while assuring you that things would be just fine while you were away, and furthemore, it was discovered that the neighbor had an ongoing contract to supply the vandals with spraypaint, wouldya' stroll over to the neighbor, slap'em on the back, and exclaim "Great ta' see ya' again!"?

Posted by: Will Allen on February 16, 2003 12:31 PM

"Tell, me if your neighbors stood by while vandals made preparations to damage your home, or worse, sold the spray paint at a profit, while assuring you that things would be just fine while you were away, and furthemore, it was discovered that the neighbor had an ongoing contract to supply the vandals with spraypaint, wouldya' stroll over to the neighbor, slap'em on the back, and exclaim "Great ta' see ya' again!"? "

....
And if I were irritated at a neighbor who I was sure had vandalized my house, and decided to burn theirs down, I wouldn't ask my friends for their support. A war of poor analogies will get no where. You and I will not agree, even in the interpretation of history (in all likelihood) and I doubt minds will change.

I do, however, wish to make note that your moral view holds the following as true. 1) countries are responsible for the sales decisions of companies involved. 2) Alliances require never saying no, 3) Business decisions imply moral agreement on the principles and policies of both parties and 4) Disagreement is the same as active hostility. Do you hold that these things are true in the case of the US as well.

You will likely disagree with me that this position is ultimately self defeating. And you can argue (with lots of support) that ethical standards and consistency are themselves a weakness, especially in the case of international relations. And we will disagree. But I would still ike the argument as to why this sort of behavior creates a better world.

What is the great failure of idealist policy? As I can argue pretty well that ww1,2, and vietnam represented the failures of realism and success of idealism, I am very curious what major human conflicts you will come up with. I personally always thought that like democracy, humanist idealism always is too patient with those who would subvert it, but that is a risk required of those who believe in it.

Have a good Sunday,

Brennan

Posted by: Brennan Peterson on February 16, 2003 01:32 PM

"I do, however, wish to make note that your moral view holds the following as true. 1) countries are responsible for the sales decisions of companies involved."

Most western countries have strict laws regarding sales of certain products and services. And yes, it's often fair to blame a nation for the sales made by some of their corporations.


"2) Alliances require never saying no"

"3)Business decisions imply moral agreement on the principles and policies of both parties.."


"4) Disagreement is the same as active hostility."

The viable relationship always demand a good reason for saying no. This is definitely not the case with the Germans and French. Their justification is due to financial considerations, pacifist appeasement, and the fear of what we will find out about their behavior.

Lastly, we are the good guys. The Iraqi people are suffering a tremendous amount of abuse, and the United States and its allies will free them from tyranny. The Germans and French have basically told the victims of Saddam Hussein to go screw themselves. They should be ashamed of themselves.

Posted by: David Thomson on February 16, 2003 01:49 PM

David,
Your friend Will Allen said the following: "Having fascists control the oil of the Middle East is no longer tenable, because of the money it provides to entities which desire to slaughter American civilians, if for no other reason. To maintain the status quo guarantees disaster, and the longer it is delayed, the more disastrous the scenario will be." So it was your ideological ally who raised the issue of fighting this war for oil in this conversation, not some indy website.

And Bucky, when you say the U.S. stood alone after WWII, that makes our efforts at coalition building all the more admirable. Who would I trust more as a statesmen, Bush or Truman? I'll need all of a microsecond to answer that one.

And finally, how can anyone talk about the reasons for France's failure in WWII without mentioning terrible strategy and military leadership. In WWI the Germans went through Belgium and stopped just outside Paris. So after WWI France builds the Maginot Line on the Franco-German border and ignores the tank. WWII opens and the Germans go through Belgium again and enter Paris. Somehow that military stupidity must be due to the leftists.

Posted by: Dan Jordan on February 16, 2003 01:56 PM

Let's try to remember that Bush is NOT the US even if he does represent it right now.

Long after he is gone we will have to live with the consequences of what he has done.

I generally support the war against Iraq but Bush's know-nothing "my way or the highway" approach to international relations is simply dumb. It provides no long term benefits.

The US is the most powerful nation in the world but it cannot do whatever it pleases forever. It is likely that in the lifetime of many of us China will surpass the US economically and even if it just ended with a GDP per capita of 2/3 that of the US it will eventually be 3 to 4 times BIGGER than us. It's simply a question of time.

Who will our allies be then?

After World War 2 for a few years we had the means and capacity to take out all our enemies (ie the Soviet Union) in one swoop. We wisely decliend from any preemtive strike and the politcal, military and economic framework put in place at the time led us to victory decades later in a much better way for all of us.

Posted by: GT on February 16, 2003 02:02 PM

>victory decades later in a much better way for all of us.

The folks who lived (and died) behind the Iron Curtain might disagree with this.

Posted by: Bucky Dent on February 16, 2003 02:16 PM

Well, I wasn't referring to them.

Unless we fully move to a "policeman of the world" role what happens to those caught on the other side is not something we can do much about.

Posted by: GT on February 16, 2003 02:38 PM

> Well, I wasn't referring to them....what happens to those caught on the other side is not something we can do much about.

Your candor is refreshing.

Posted by: Bucky Dent on February 16, 2003 02:47 PM

"Multilateralism" in of itself is fine, but what I believe I have been witnessing over the last year has been a deliberate attempt on the part of the French and the British to take advantage of the US at this time in order to gain political leverage for themselves--to become the giants that "tamed the simplistic American beast." This is the only hypothesis that makes sense at this time. Everyone knows that inspections in Iraq are useless, but France and Germany are loutishly refusing to do anything about it. Fear is my second hypothesis, but that would be too simplistic, wouldn't it?

I really do want a divorce. But no, you can't have the dog, either.

Posted by: Nicole Tedesco on February 16, 2003 03:11 PM

>Fear is my second hypothesis, but that would be too simplistic, wouldn't it?

Occam's razor, or, the old cliche that stupidity and malice can't be distinguished from a distance, should be borne in mind.

Posted by: Bucky Dent on February 16, 2003 03:17 PM

Jean-Phillippe asks "Should I conclude that France should be thankful to America for not annexing it after WWII???"

You may conclude that the present Administration (and its apologists) feels that the French should be not merely grateful but perfectly supine.

____________________

Rifle308 states that "Let the French cower in fear of the future and western freedom's enemys. The US is gearing up to meet it and them head on! Let the enemy beware the rage of an America "Locked and Loaded", and on the hunt!"

The rest of the world should be very clear about what this sentiment means. After Iraq and Iran and North Korea... you.

It's time for Europe and Asia to develop alliances to contain the United States.

_____________

John Bono evidently lacks the historical knowledge to understand that both Japan and Germany had elected governments before they were taken over by military dictatorships. The attempts of apologists here to deny this obvious fact notwithstanding.

______________

Andrew Brown says "It is astonishing to read this patronising, ignorant gibberish about French history, from a country which never declared war on Germany and stood to one side, profiteering, throughout 1939, 1940, and all but three weeks of 1941.... I can only assume that this rash of Francophobia across the warhard constituency is an expression of a thoroughly rotten conscience."

There's a far simpler explanation for the Francophobia, Mr. Brown: substandard education plus pampering.

____________

Dan Jordan makes an excellent comment by stating that "I would like to apologise, on behalf of those of us from the other 49 states, for Texas."

____________

Mr. Allen states that "In any case, if France and Germany perceive that their interests lie in opposition to stated U.S. goals, then the U.S. should maximize the cost to France and Germany of pursuing those interests. Nothing, short of violence, should be forsaken. "

Once again, I remark that it's time for Europe and Asia to develop alliances to contain the United States.

_____________________

Andrew Boucher states that "I do know that Persian Gulf oil doesn't lie within our (America's) boundaries, so by most considerations, it is not ours."

Obviously you haven't been following recent developments in American governance, Mr. Boucher. At present, the doctrine is "If we want it, it's ours".


____________________

Nicole Tedesco says "I feel like someone whose has just found her husband in the arms of a woman of the evening and confesses that he feels more for her than for me. I want a divorce, I want you out of the house, and I am keeping the kids."

If the kids are the Bush twins, it's a deal.

She adds, "The EU bureaucracy is also fertile ground for corruption scandle that will make Enron look like a child's piggy bank raid."

Ah, but the American government is so riddled with corruption that it dwarfs anything the EU is up to. Sadly, the last thing that any nation wants is genuine honesty in business.

Posted by: Charles Utwater II on February 16, 2003 05:07 PM

Ah, here's one Lafayette would surely love:

"he US is abandoning plans to introduce democracy in Iraq after a war to overthrow Saddam Hussein, according to Kurdish leaders who recently met American officials.

The Kurds say the decision resulted from pressure from US allies in the Middle East who fear a war will lead to radical political change in the region.

The Kurdish leaders are enraged by an American plan to occupy Iraq but largely retain the government in Baghdad. The only changes would be the replacement of President Saddam and his lieutenants with senior US military officers. "

http://news.independent.co.uk/world/politics/story.jsp?story=379060

And so the feckless blustering of the Bush apologists dwindles to a voiceless splutter. The war is not about terrorism; Colin Powell's "evidence" of an Al Qaida link has been debunked. It is not about weapons of mass destruction; as has been pointed out, the inspectors destroyed vastly more weapons in the 1990s than the military did. It is not about democracy; the Kurds have let the cat out of the bag?

What, possibly, could this war be about?

Posted by: Charles Utwater II on February 16, 2003 06:41 PM

Ah, here's one Lafayette would surely love:

"he US is abandoning plans to introduce democracy in Iraq after a war to overthrow Saddam Hussein, according to Kurdish leaders who recently met American officials.

The Kurds say the decision resulted from pressure from US allies in the Middle East who fear a war will lead to radical political change in the region.

The Kurdish leaders are enraged by an American plan to occupy Iraq but largely retain the government in Baghdad. The only changes would be the replacement of President Saddam and his lieutenants with senior US military officers. "

http://news.independent.co.uk/world/politics/story.jsp?story=379060

And so the feckless blustering of the Bush apologists dwindles to a voiceless splutter. The war is not about terrorism; Colin Powell's "evidence" of an Al Qaida link has been debunked. It is not about weapons of mass destruction; as has been pointed out, the inspectors destroyed vastly more weapons in the 1990s than the military did. It is not about democracy; the Kurds have let the cat out of the bag?

What, possibly, could this war be about?

Posted by: Charles Utwater II on February 16, 2003 06:42 PM

I can't help thinking that Brad deliberately put in the post about Lafayette so as to measure the number of francophobe postings vs. everyone else. Sad, but I can't help thinking that Lafayette would weep at all the anti-French nastiness in evidence in this thread. Lafayette would probably think that the U.S. government had been taken over by the Mountain and the Jacobins that he spent the last part of his life fighting against--people whose rigid callousness towards human life led to led to thousands of deaths in France, as might well be the case in Iraq.

For all of the war party reading this thread, let's get one thing straight: just because France and Germany happen to have a majority of public opinion against an invasion does not make these countries anything special--majority opinion is also against the invasion in Spain, Italy, and Britain. In fact, if New York and Vermont were independent countries, it's probable to say that the usual suspects on this thread would probably shower both with the same amount of hateful abuse that is being launched against France.

And just so you are _fully aware_ of what is at stake here, there is no shortage of U.S. citizens who are accusing the Bush adm. of _lying_ and of launching the war for ulterior motives that are only tangentially related, if at all, to the war on terrorism. So many U.S. citizens who think like the French--we have met the enemy and he is us. Stop abusing the French, Germans, etc., and please get down to the business of calling the rest of your fellow citizens cowards and even traitors.

Posted by: andres on February 16, 2003 09:41 PM

"The oil in the Persian Gulf does not "belong" to the facist dictators, either. If the region was governed by the people who lived there, instead of the fascists which oppress the populace, in relatively short order, the people who live there would do what free people always do, in the long run; they would sell what other people....."

So, Will Allen, do we invade Saudi Arabia next? Overthrow that king/dictator and give that oil to those people as well?

And gee, what if "the people" decide to sell at too high a price for our taste? Or make contracts with someone else? Re-invade and give the oil to a new friendly king?

It still sounds as if we are behaving like we always have; thinking the oil is ours. But, back to this idea of oil and kings and people......what the hell are you talking about?

Whoever controls the oil in Iraq (or any other OPEC) is king and that part of the world kings behave not as wise philosophers. After all, you aren't really talking about some sort of state ownership/socialist oil production program, are you?

No, you mean that a new oil producing entity will be established that trades on favorable terms with the US regardless of what market forces may be operating. In fact, you are probably talking about a US based multi national conglomerate controlling oil production for an indefinite period of time with a few Iraqi front men transparently attempting to make the whole thing look like an Iraqi grass roots kind of thing.

I wonder what the French don't see to like in all this?

The more I think about this arguement of liberating the Iraqi people the less valid it seems. Often when I see these people on t.v. , or where ever, they are out parading about shooting automatic weapons in the air.

If they would take those same weapons and start a revolution on their own - like France and the US did (or for that matter the soviets, Chinese, ......) - I would feel a lot better about moving in to intervene on the people's behalf.

If they want "liberation" then let them show it! No, any action of the Kurds doesn't count. They are not Iraqi citizens. They are roaming bandits that happen to be semi-trapped inside artificial boundries. And the few Iraqis living here that are whispering sweet nothings into Bush's ear cannot be trusted. They are simply making their own bids for power.

France is definitely making the more sober assessment this time.

Posted by: E. Avedisian on February 16, 2003 09:44 PM

Charles Utwater II, I should have read the link you provided before I posted. I hope that one makes the front pages in the US. Guess we'll see how free the press really is here. Anyhow, as I was saying....

What do you think Will A?

Posted by: Erich Avedisian on February 16, 2003 09:54 PM

I'm well aware of Lafayette and the permanent honor that we Americans owe him. I'm proud of that debt of honor, and don't like hearing it dismissed with comments like 'we paid it off'. Paying it off is not the point of remembering a great man who stood by our Republic while it was being born. It only dishonors Americans, if we forget to honor him. Lafayette was Washington's comrade in arms. We will (I hope) never forget Washington; how can we forget his allies?

That being said, I think it's fair of me to wonder what the Marquis would think of Chirac's choosing to side against the U.S. and with Hussein. Because that is what Chirac is currently doing, and it's hard for me to believe that Lafayette -- who risked his life and honor to fight in a war with Americans -- would be happy to see 'peace at any price' as a French slogan now.

Posted by: Erich Schwarz on February 16, 2003 11:34 PM

I'm well aware of Lafayette and the permanent honor that we Americans owe him. I'm proud of that debt of honor, and don't like hearing it dismissed with comments like 'we paid it off'. Paying it off is not the point of remembering a great man who stood by our Republic while it was being born. It only dishonors Americans, if we forget to honor him. Lafayette was Washington's comrade in arms. We will (I hope) never forget Washington; how can we forget his allies?

That being said, I think it's fair of me to wonder what the Marquis would think of Chirac's choosing to side against the U.S. and with Hussein. Because that is what Chirac is currently doing, and it's hard for me to believe that Lafayette -- who risked his life and honor to fight in a war with Americans -- would be happy to see 'peace at any price' as a French slogan now.

Posted by: Erich Schwarz on February 16, 2003 11:35 PM

I'm well aware of Lafayette and the permanent honor that we Americans owe him. I'm proud of that debt of honor, and don't like hearing it dismissed with comments like 'we paid it off'. Paying it off is not the point of remembering a great man who stood by our Republic while it was being born.

That being said, I think it's fair of me to wonder what the Marquis would think of Chirac's choosing to side against the U.S. and with Hussein. Because that is what Chirac is currently doing, and it's hard for me to believe that Lafayette -- who risked his life and honor to fight in a war with Americans -- would be happy to see 'peace at any price' as a French slogan now.

Posted by: Erich Schwarz on February 16, 2003 11:35 PM

I'm well aware of Lafayette and the permanent honor that we Americans owe him. I'm proud of that debt of honor, and don't like hearing it dismissed with comments like 'we paid it off'. Paying it off is not the point of remembering a great man who stood by our Republic while it was being born.

That being said, I think it's fair of me to wonder what the Marquis would think of Chirac's choosing to side against the U.S. and with Hussein. Because that is what Chirac is currently doing, and it's hard for me to believe that Lafayette -- who risked his life and honor to fight in a war with Americans -- would be happy to see 'peace at any price' as a French slogan now.

Posted by: Erich Schwarz on February 16, 2003 11:35 PM

Sheesh. Sorry about the quadruplicate comments. But, dude, you have *got* to fix that silly "error" message on your Website that made me keep 'trying again'! >:^}

Posted by: Erich Schwarz on February 16, 2003 11:37 PM

>>France is paying a severe price for the nefarious intellectual influences of such folks as Jean Paul Sartre, Michael Foucault, and Jacques Derrida<<

Backsliding again, Thomson? I thought it was your New Year's Resolution not to make blanket statements about books or authors you haven't read?

Posted by: dsquared on February 17, 2003 12:41 AM

“Backsliding again, Thomson? I thought it was your New Year's Resolution not to make blanket statements about books or authors you haven't read?”

I am simply telling the truth about the French “elite” and the other members of the Old Europe. These folks are abysmally poorly educated and never learned how to think and follow a logical argument. We are sometimes too easily impressed by their multilingual talents. In many respects, the typical French intellectual is an utter moron possessing the ability to spout their nonsense in at least three different languages.

Many French have been seduced by a banal utopian Liberalism that has resulted in much horror throughout this world. The French student riots of 1968 perhaps made an already bad situation even worse. Anyone who take the previously mentioned authors seriously---are idiots deserving ridicule and marginalization. Jacques Derrida, for instance, is an intellectual clown. It is a scandal that such a pathetic mediocrity is a dominant academic figure. Do I seem unduly harsh? Oh well, there’s little that I can do about that. These jerks, who have so much blood on their hands, are not worthy of our respect. The French have a long tradition of kissing the rear ends of dictators. Saddam Hussein is not the first monster to take advantage of their moral failings.

Posted by: David Thomson on February 17, 2003 03:41 AM

Uh, Reverend Thomson, the United States has "a long tradition of kissing the rear ends of dictators" and used to pucker up to Saddam's throughout the Reagan administration and the early years of Bush 1.

And it seems that when Saddam was gassing some kurds in the late eighties he was able to to do so by taking "advantage of their moral failings" *Their* being the Reaganites.

This is common knowledge. How come you don't know it? If you do know it how can you criticize the splinter in the French eye when there's a board in your own?

Posted by: E. Avedisian on February 17, 2003 04:12 AM

I enjoyed that bit about the French: "Geniuses like Raymond Aron and Frederick Bastiat are the exception and unfortunately not the norm."

Does that mean Descartes, Voltaire, Pascal, Fermat, Lavoisier, Pasteur, Dupuit, Fourier, Galois, Cournot, Cauchy, Comte, Walras, Durkheim, Bachelier, Poincare, Balzac, Hugo, Zola, Proust, . . . and all their works are definitively beyond the pale?

At least that should cut down on the reading.

Posted by: Bob Briant on February 17, 2003 04:17 AM

Mr. Thomson, you are clearly not a student of mathematics. Serre, Thom, Grothendieck, Deligne, Connes are all French and all deserve to be taken seriously. In other areas they have far more people than Derrida, Barthhes, Foucault, Levi Strauss, Sartre and Weil to worry themselves about. Not that these people are unpopular in the US in any case. As for relativism, Mr. Rorty is I believe one of your own.
If the French are now kissing Mr. Hussein's rear end they are following a well trodden path. Maybe you don't like people playing with your exes?

Posted by: Jack on February 17, 2003 04:51 AM

"I enjoyed that bit about the French: "Geniuses like Raymond Aron and Frederick Bastiat are the exception and unfortunately not the norm."

Does that mean Descartes, Voltaire, Pascal, Fermat, Lavoisier, Pasteur, Dupuit, Fourier, Galois, Cournot, Cauchy, Comte, Walras, Durkheim, Bachelier, Poincare, Balzac, Hugo, Zola, Proust, . . . and all their works are definitively beyond the pale?"

I'm sure that there are a number of names that can be added to the list. After all, not every French person is a loser---perhaps just most of them. Also, why do you mention only those who have long been dead? Aren’t there a few living French thinkers who are not complete idiots? Is Catherine Millet the very best that France has to offer?

"And it seems that when Saddam was gassing some kurds in the late eighties he was able to to do so by taking "advantage of their moral failings" *Their* being the Reaganites.

This is common knowledge. How come you don't know it? If you do know it how can you criticize the splinter in the French eye when there's a board in your own?"

You fail to make the distinction between pragmatic accommodation and adulation. It is one thing to partner with a Joseph Stalin during WWII---and totally another to idolizing the monster. Have we already forgotten Jean Paul Sartre’s disgusting boot licking of the Stalinist regime?

The French Revolution brought forth the evils of Nazism and Communism. We can no longer afford to allow the nihilistic French--and German intellectual “elite” to continue to cause enormous suffering and death. It’s time to forge stronger bonds with the “New” Europeans and tell the “Old” to go to hell.

Bill "I did not have sex with that woman" Clinton might have been our first "French" President. This immoral man enjoys employing relativist gobbledegook rhetoric to try getting himself out of trouble.

Posted by: David Thomson on February 17, 2003 05:28 AM

>>You fail to make the distinction between pragmatic accommodation and adulation. It is one thing to partner with a Joseph Stalin during WWII---and totally another to idolizing the monster. <<

A quick google search for the words "moral equivalent of the founding fathers" turns up a few larfs, I must say.

Posted by: dsquared on February 17, 2003 06:05 AM

It's settled then: Any time a conservative brings up Clinton and women it is a silent admission they have no further logic to present. It is therefore agreed, the inspections should continue.

But I do like this quote, "The French Revolution brought forth the evils of Nazism and Communism." You forgot to mention the French are responsible for the Spanish Inquisition, the Mongol hordes, and the sacking of Rome.

Posted by: Dan Jordan on February 17, 2003 06:07 AM

Not to mention events in Paris on 24 August 1572 as reported at: http://campus.northpark.edu/history/WebChron/WestEurope/StBart.html

Posted by: Bob Briant on February 17, 2003 07:37 AM

"Backsliding again, Thomson? I thought it was your New Year's Resolution not to make blanket statements about books or authors you haven't read?

Say, how's your reading of Coase coming along?

Posted by: Paul Zrimsek on February 17, 2003 08:25 AM

I will judge U.S. actions regarding post-Saddam Iraq when that circumstance comes about, and no I don't consider news reports to be perfect, or even near-perfect oracles. Unlike many in this thread, I am not motivated either by animosity nor favorable feeling regarding Georege Bush. I dislike much about this administration's policies but consider the current status quo of fascism/Stalinism dominating the Persian Gulf to be untenable, and yes, that also means the theocratic fascists of Saudi Arabia and Iran. The staus quo is untenable because the oil in the region is critical to global prosperity, and an actor like Saddam, if he were to come to dominate the region, and possess nuclear capability, would not trade like free people usually do, and would not have the pressure to trade as the Saudi fascists do, since Saddam has no inhibition against massively slaughtering his slaves. Saddam only needs to trade enough to keep his military equipped sufficiently to terrorize his slaves, acquire a nuclear stockpile with which to deter outside intervention, and keep his palaces stocked. The amount of trade needed to accomplish these tasks is far less than what is needed to avoid severe global economic dislocations, which would have huge negative consequences, on all continents.

The theocratic fascism of Saudi Arabia and Iran is intolerable because their oil revenues are channeled to entities which seek to slaughter civilian Westerners, for reasons as arcane as being unhappy regarding the outcome of the Battle of Vienna, or the end of Moorish rule on the Iberian peninsula. There is no satisfying this mind-set, and as long as fascists control Iran and Saudi Arabia, people with this mind-set will have access to the funds needed to execute their plans of mass murder. Thankfully, there is a chance that the large number of Persians who are sick of mullah-led fascism can gain the upper hand. The House of Saud, in it's present form, is a house of cards, but what will follow in it's wake no doubt will be every bit as challenging as Iraq. It ain't gonna be easy, but the maintainence of the status quo would be worse, and to simply conclude beforehand that Arabs or Kurds are incapable of representative government is a self-fufilling prophecy, along with being possibly an example of irrational racial categorization. Again, this will be very hard, but sometmes the very hard must be attempted, since to forgo the attempt is to guarantee unacceptable consequences.

The French are behaving in the manner they are because of the money to be made by extracting oil for Saddam, which of course helps Saddam accomplish his goals. The French government believes it serves French interests to assist fascism/Stalinism, thereby making profits, while weakening the United States. Mr. Utwater seems to concur with this strategy. The Germans are a little more conflicted at this time. Happily, not all governments around the globe are as enthusiastic as the French government about forming alliances with fascists and Stalinists, or concur with others that the United States is worse than fascism. It will thus be the task of Bush Administration to strengthen alliances with those nations that differ with those that think that fascism/Stalinism is preferable than the United States. Will it succeed? Who knows? This Administration's past performance in selling out to small domestic consituencies, like South Carolinians in the textile industry, to the detriment of what would best serve the country's foreign policy, is not encouraging. Once again, however, to cast one's lot with the fascist status quo in the Persian Gulf is to guarantee disaster.

Posted by: Will Allen on February 17, 2003 08:42 AM

Mr. Allen I don't think there is anybody here who is an apologist for Saddam Hussein.

What is not clear is what rule governs when you can deal with him. Is it just when it is convenient for the US? It often looks that way.

Mr Squared has provided a clear explanation of why with his google query "moral equivalent of the founding fathers".

Posted by: Jack on February 17, 2003 09:25 AM

Iraq must be disarmed. Were the United States not to disarm Iraq, there will be an affirmation among terrorist regimes and terrorist bands that we are not able to defend our strategic interests. This will lead to continual terrorist probing from Iraq to North Korea in a way that will truly increasingly threaten the peace of the world.

Iraq's government has terrorized its neighbors and the bulk of its own people and fostered terrorism against the strategic interests of the United States.

There are more than 200,000 American, Brisish and Australian troops ready to disarm Iraq. Should these troops be withdrawn before the task is accomplished, we allies will have weakened ourselves terribly. Iraq must be disarmed.

Posted by: jd on February 17, 2003 09:52 AM

>>Say, how's your reading of Coase coming along?<<

Finished, thankyou, what do you want to know?

Posted by: dsquared on February 17, 2003 10:12 AM

jd in a way, you're right. The U.S. has put in 150000 troops, and to take them out now, without giving comfort to Saddam Hussein and others, will require more diplomatic finesse than the U.S. is capable of. (We could always say, "The U.N. has not approved the invasion, and since we are a law-abiding people, we will not invade. Therefore we withdraw our troops." Which part will other peoples not believe?) But what that is saying is, the current U.S. administration should have been more sure of other nations' support before pouring so many troops in. France and Russia were very clear after the first U.N. resolution that they absolutely, positively did not approve of force without a second resolution - so I think the egg belongs properly on our face.

Posted by: Andrew Boucher on February 17, 2003 12:22 PM

Why does jd use the term terrorist in a post discussing the disarmament of an autocratic dictator? Has al-Qaeda taken over Iraq while I was watching Joe Millionaire? Or is terrorism a red herring in the pursuit of Saddam?

I mean, the pursuit of democracy for the people of Iraq. I can just hear the Aerosmith soundtrack anthem now....

Posted by: JRoth on February 17, 2003 12:30 PM

The past behavior of the US government has exactly zero bearing on what would be the best course of action today. To engage in these sorts of non sequiturs is illustrative of either stupidity or a deliberate desire to ignore the matter at hand. Does the past actions of the U.S. Government (which is often deliberately distorted, by the way) have impact on our credibility with other actors, or how they perceive our actions? No doubt, but the reverse is also true, of course. News flash; notify the BBC: nations lie and propagandize more often than not. The reason I hold anti-statist beliefs is because states are inevitably deceitful and abusive of power. Wake up and smell the coffee.

Having said that, states are a necessary evil in this Vale of Tears, so we are constantly left with choosing among bad options, and past bad behavior or foolish strategy doesn't obviate that reality. Today we are faced with the option of maintaining the status quo of a Persian Gulf dominated by secular and theocratic fascists/Stalinists, ot taking action to rapidly change it. Some have made a reasonable case, although one with which I disagree, that changing the status quo is too dangerous. Others, like the French Government, actually prefer the status quo, since they profit from it, and they favor fascism/Stalinism in the region, if the maitainence of that status quo will weaken the United States. For the French Government, supporting fascism/Stalinism is a reasonable price to pay to weaken the United States. Do not misunderstand; all nations make these calculations all the time. The U.S. has supported all manner of odious governments, particularly when everything was seen through the prism of competition with the Soviet Empire. Again, for the French, supporting fascism and Stalinism in the Persian Gulf is desirable, because it weakens the U.S., which they now consider one of their primary goals. The French Government is hostile to U.S. goals in an area of vital interest to the U.S.. To believe otherwise is to deny simple reality.

Posted by: Will Allen on February 17, 2003 01:37 PM

The past behavior of the US government has exactly zero bearing on what would be the best course of action today.

That's ridiculous, Will. Would you say that the past actions of the US in the Vietnam region have "exactly zero bearing" on what should be done now?

Posted by: Jason McCullough on February 17, 2003 03:40 PM

It was Colin Powell (I think) who asked the Palestinians a simple question - "Does Sharon want more suicide bombers?". The obvious answer is yes (What wonderful recruitment opportunities for Likud! What a way to make my enemies hated!). And if the Palestinian's toughest enemy wants more, how can these bombings possibly be in the Palestinian's interest?

I've got a simple question for all you warbloggers. Does Osama Bin Laden want a US invasion and occupation of Iraq or not? The obvious answer is yes (What wonderful recruitment opportunities for al Quaeda! What a way to make my enemies hated!). And if he wants it, how can it be in the US' interest?

Their motives may not be pure, but I think the French are saving you people from yourselves.

Posted by: derrida derider on February 17, 2003 04:33 PM

Yes, but I guess I was speaking in the sense of how the morality of past actions should affect present strategy. That the U.S. poorly executed a poorly thought-out, and perhaps (in some ways) morally faulty strategy in Indochina has no bearing on what the course of action should be now. The results of that strategy can be useful in informing us as to what is more likely to work in today's situation, as long as caution is employed in drawing analogies; they often can lead one astray as well. The same could be said about the employment of the 1930s appeasement analogy. The fact is that failing to militarily confront Hitler earlier was morally faulty, and can be used to help inform us about today's situation, but that faulty morality tells us nothing as to what the course of action today should be.

I speak in the moral sense, since so often people will proclaim that we cannot remove Hussein, for instance, becasue we helped supply him with chemical weapons, which may be a bit of a distortion. Some said the Taliban couldn't be removed by force by the U.S. because the U.S. had previously provided aid to the Taliban. Even if both statements were completely undistorted assertions of fact, however, it is the employment of a non sequitur to state that those previous actions meant that removing Hussein or the Taliban is the wrong thing to do. One does not follow from the other. In fact, a case could be made that such aid meant that the aid-giver had a larger responsibility to remove such fascists/Stalinists.

Similalry, d-sqaured suggested a google search above, showing fatuous statements made regarding the character of Afghans fighting the Soviet Army, as if such fatuous statements could inform us logically as to what would be the best course of action today. Well, high American officials made all sorts of fatuous statements regarding Stalin's nature during WWII, and then just a few years later were engaged in a furious strategy to counter Stalin. The fatuous statements of 1944 had zero logical impact as to what the best strategy towards Stalin was in 1948.

Posted by: Will Allen on February 17, 2003 04:45 PM

"Speaking as someone who believes it is in the interests of the U.S. to remove Hussein, and shatter the fascist status quo of the Middle East, it might be time to consider taking whatever means available to divide the EU, and thereby harm French and German interests as much as possible. "

Actually, I think this is and has been the approach taken by the administration, and one reason the French and Germans are reacting the way they are. For example, in the cases of Kyoto, ICC, etc, the administration was not satisfied in simply torpedoing the treaties, they had to make a show of ripping them up. And the strongarm tactics to get the EU to offer early membership to Turkey, when Turkey is clearly not prepared to enter and the EU not prepared to absorb them, was an attempt to derail the EU process.

(Speaking of Turkey, why are all the France-bashers giving Turkey a free pass? These guys are holding out permission to station US troops in Turkey in order to get more aid, i.e., a bigger bribe. Talk about cynical diplomacy to further narrow interests. Not that I blame them, but why the double standard?)

Regardless of whether one agrees with the military attack on Iraq or not, the US diplomatic approach has been abysmal. The sympathy toward the US in the aftermath of 9/11 has been squandered. In the past, one always heard lefty Euros talking about "American imperialism", but now even conservatives are talking like that, people who used to be instinctively pro American. This is new.

Aside from the gratuitous insults to the 'Old' Europeans, look at the way the 'allies' are treated, Blair, Berlusconi, et al. They are, politically speaking, stretching their neck out on the chopping block, alienating both antiwar leftists as well as rightists who are embarrased at their countries' subservience to a foreign power. Why can't the US let them take the time to make the case and prepare the public for war, give them some political cover? Do you think W would similarly stretch his neck out for them? Yeah, right.

Maybe there's a method to the madness, but it looks like amateur hour to me.

Posted by: Chris C on February 17, 2003 04:58 PM

Will, though I completely disagree with most everything you say related to war in Iraq, I must say that you do make an effort to be reasonable and well balanced in your assessments and arguements.

But, I think that one effect of "fatuous statements" is to make the public cynical and generally distrusting of the government's motives. I- and I believe most Americans - are willing to fight when we know we are in the right and doing so for a noble cause. We like to feel that we are walking the moral high ground, always. Realpolitik and the fatuous statements that flow from it are not appreciated as being a necessary evil by most folks.

I can accept that the French are, at least in part, doing what they are doing to serve their own interests. However, it is easy for many folks to see their current position as being morally superior in light of previous fatuous statements and our track record regarding support of dictators and failures to promote democracy when we said we would.

Again, cognitive dissonance is disturbing and it arises from people realizing that they have acted contrary to their stated morality.

One reaction to cognitive dissonance is to identify with an entity that appears to be adhering to a desired moral position........the French? Also, while past morally deficient decisions don't have much bearing on present decisions in a factual sense, they do make us distrusting of our own ability to make appropriate decisions in the present. I think much of the public rallying against the war is due to this phenomenon.

Posted by: E. Avedisian on February 17, 2003 05:22 PM

Yes, Will, which merely shows that we should refrain from eulogizing our allies du jour and anathematizing our enemies du jour. But it sems to me that by and large it is the war party that is practising this sort of rhetoric.

To me, much of what the French are saying is simply cold, clear reason.

I don't think you Americans realise how isolated you have made yourselves on this. Without exception, governments which are supporting you (Turkey, Spain, Italy, eastern Europe, Britain, that fine democracy Kuwait and - my own country - Australia) are doing it in clear defiance of their public's opinion. With the exception of Britain (the home of 'conviction politicians' - ie ones which can use the lack of checks and balances to defy public opinion for years on end) they are doing it because the US has promised them all sorts of goodies that will arrive at US taxpayers' or traders' expense. On the other hand, those governments trying to restrain Bush have the overwhelming support of their electorates - which is one reason they're doing it.

This is very unlike the situation in Gulf War 1 or Afghanistan. Given the overwhelming sympathy around the world that the US got (and, on terrorism, still has) after 9/11 the Bush administration has had to be exceptionally stupid to let it happen. You should be calling them to account on it - even the US needs friends.

Posted by: derrida derider on February 17, 2003 05:30 PM

derrida, Osama also wanted the U.S. to attack in Afghanistan, and it didn't work out the way he had envisioned. In conflict, it is a mistake to adopt your opponent's view of the world. The key is to force him to adopt yours. Understanding your opponent's view of the world is useful, but ultimately one must force the opponent to be a slave to circumstance.

One of the reasons the U.S. failed in Vietnam is it adopted a view similarly held by the opponent, that the predominant conventional military force would apply means developed in WWII to fight a war in Indochina, but without the total commitment of WWII. By the time the U.S. learned what a mistake that was, the war was lost politically, which is ultimately where all wars are lost. If the U.S. had adopted such actions as the massive assasination campaign of the Phoenix program 6 years earlier, the results in Indochina may have been far different.

Of course, the Phoenix program blurred the lines between civilians and combatants, and no doubt resulted in innocents being assasinated, but the Communists never had inhibition against the wholesale slaughter of innocents for strategic gain, and their ability to make the U.S a slave to circumstance is what allowed them to prevail. War is an awful, awful, business, which is why one should never engage in it unless one has determined that the stakes are high enough to justify the tactics that will be needed to impose one's will on the enemy, and bring about the desired political result. Was war in Indochina justified, given the stakes and the tactic required for victory? A difficult question right to this very day, although the war was waged by the U.S. in the most immoral way possible, with leaders knowingly engaging in a failed startegy even after they knew it was failed.

Is war in Iraq justified? Well, I've outlined my beliefs as to why it is above. This view is partially informed by ther belief that the Iraqi population can largely be spared, to the extent that removing Hussein will be a net positve for them by a very large margin. The devil will be in the details, and I don't have the expertise to know what the likelihood of militarily succeeding on that level is. Believe me, many who favor this war do so with great trepidation, for we fully understand how any war is a leap into the unknown. Failing to fight this war carries grave risks also, however; risks that are more likely to be proven out.

Posted by: Will Allen on February 17, 2003 05:31 PM

I know this is a thread about France, but I do have to say something now about the Turks and U.S. morality. Chris C's post hit a chord within me.

Despite all the aid - monetary and political - the U.S. lavishes upon Turkey, the Turks, to date, have refused to aknowledge the genocide they perpetrated on the Armenians.

Armenian Americans have been asking members of the U.S. congress and several presidents for years to cause the Turks to admit and denounce what they did. The U.S. is apparently too lacking in moral conviction to do this; too afraid of the Turkish reaction to such a request.

It is not about reparations. It is merely about setting the record straight.

A simple and morally proper request...........but these are the people so concerned with justice that they will create a democracy in Iraq because it is the right thing to do.

Posted by: E. Avedisian on February 17, 2003 05:42 PM

Mr. (Ms.?) Avedisian, I've often enjoyed your writing in this forum, even when I've disagreed, due to your commitment to being fair-minded. No polity can ever engage in debate more critical than those debates that revolve around war and peace, and, as is the case here, any who claim to have easy, clear-cut answers as to what the best course of action will be, are doing more to obsfuscate than illuminate.

Posted by: Will Allen on February 17, 2003 05:47 PM

>Would you say that the past actions of the US in the Vietnam region have "exactly zero bearing" on what should be done now?

Well, the French did back away from that one too.

Posted by: Bucky Dent on February 17, 2003 05:50 PM

I hold no brief for the Turks, but if the average people who live within the borders of Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and elsewhere in the Middle East (with the exception of Israel, of course), had as much political feedom as the average Turk, ther circumstances would have been improved by a quantum leap.

Posted by: Will Allen on February 17, 2003 05:51 PM

Yes, I agree that the average non-Kurdish Turk has more political freedom than others in the middle east. But my aside about Turkey was not about relative political freedom in the Middle East, nor was it to bring up the Armenian Genocide, although I completely share Mr/Ms. Avedisian's outrage at Turkish policies of genocide denial.

I was pointing out that Turkey has been holding US war plans hostage to getting increased aid, access to the Kirkuk oil fields, etc. In other words, they are playing diplomatic hardball to serve their narrow interests and to enhance their regional power. France is regularly blasted for playing similar diplomatic games, where Turkey gets a free pass, and I was wondering why.

My suspicion is that many in the current administration feel more comfortable dealing with a soft authoritarian regime like Turkey's rather than a messy Western democracy like France, despite all the rhetoric about building democracy overseas.

Posted by: Chris C on February 17, 2003 06:41 PM

“ARMENIANS ARE LYING

The thesis that has been carried out for years by the Armenian Lobbies in the world about the genocide of Armenian people by Turks during the 1st World War is far away from reflecting the truth. The Armenian problem was brought to light by countries which aimed to realize their interests by disintegrating the Ottoman Empire and today it is artificial problem with its various aspects since the same interest circles want to reach their goals on Turkey and do not want a strong Turkey in region.”

http://www.armenianreality.com/massacres_in_anatolia/armenians_are_lying.html

Posted by: David Thomson on February 17, 2003 07:02 PM

The Trouble with "Cochin China" (Vietnam) is that we did not give it back to its people after WWII, we handed it back to the French. If we had done what we ought to have -- supported popular democracy, Ho Chi Minh would have been our best friend in Asia, and Vietnam today would be the envy of the East. Instead -- the French lost it, then we lost it, and the Vietnamese are close to starving. Go figure.

Posted by: Sam'l B on February 17, 2003 08:41 PM

Sam'l B uses the 125th comment on this topic to refer to the 12th comment on this topic. Excellent work, I think you've cleared everything up.

Personally, I'm not going to bite on David's Armenian post. I notice it's all in quotes.

Posted by: Dan Jordan on February 17, 2003 09:08 PM

Let the record show (see above) that I did not intend to start an Armenian Genocide flame war. My intent was to note the double standard in reactions to two NATO allies placing speed bumps on our road to war.

I won't bite either, and I urge others not to as well. I've read enough of that Turkish Government crap to summarize: It didn't happen, and if it did, they had it coming.

Posted by: Chris C on February 17, 2003 09:49 PM

While I have previously been highly amused by Thomson's posts, this last one indicates that the man's cerebral apparatus is not entirely in this universe, and may function in ways which Salvador Dali would find hard to comprehend. No doubt the Allied propaganda machine must have shelled out some serious money in order to convince thousands upon thousands of Armenians that their parents, brothers, and sisters were murdered by the Turks when in fact they were still alive. Even today, millions of Armenians believe this supposed genocide nonsense, according to Thomson. To deny the Armenian genocide is practically on the same level as denying the Holocaust. The Turkish government perpetuates this denial in order (I guess) to avoid the burden of reparations and to avoid adding yet another stain on Ottoman history. I guess Thomson is their willing dupe.

The Turkish government's past record with its Armenian and Kurdish minorities is also the reason why the Kurdish leaders hit the roof when it was revealed today that U.S. war plans for Iraq include the occupation of northern Iraq, i.e. Kurdish territory, by the Turkish army. With one step, the Bush adm. alienated the only organized opposition to Hussein within Iraq's borders. Colin Powell is probably reciting DeLong's Lament inside the soundproofed walls of his office: "Why am I ruled by these idiots?!"

While I agree with Avedisian that Will Allen seems to be the only thoughtful representative of the war party in this thread, I don't agree with him that the past behavior of this and previous administration has no bearing on the current situation. Even if it did not, Will does not seem to realize that a bunch of the objections to the invasion are based on the administration's _current_ behavior. As follows:

(1) Based on the way they handled Afghanistan, the U.S. forces will rely on heavy bombing which is guaranteed to inflict massive civilian casualties. If we were really serious about sparing these people further horrors, we would rely on a more measured strategy, even if that meant higher U.S. casualties on the ground.

(2) The Bush adm. previous announcement that post-Hussein Iraq will initially come under U.S. military government indicates that real democracy in Iraq is not their number one priority.

(3) The Axis of Evil rhetoric last year, which started even before the current disarmament fracas in the U.N., was almost surely calculated to provoke Saddam Hussein into keeping and concealing whatever WMD's he had accumulated up to then.

These are the major reasons why I believe the Bush adm. plans are not only hypocritical and dishonest, but also will not be in the best interests of Iraq's people. The real reasons I think the Bush adm. is inflicting this fracas on the world may lie in the following:

(1) Bush and Cheney may be pulling an Enron, California style, on the world economy. The longer that they can keep war talk at a fever pitch, the longer that their cronies in both the Saudi and U.S. oil industries will be able to sell petroleum at high prices to American consumers. Secondly, even though the oil wells in post-Hussein Iraq may be nominally owned by Iraq, there will probably be any number of sweetheart deals by which U.S. oil companies will obtain Iraqi oil at lower than market prices.

(2) Even if one disregards the oil dimension, the Bush adm. goal may still be guided by self-serving geopolitical and colonialist motives. Namely, to overthrow Saddam Hussein not because he is a homicidal dictator but simply because his is just one of a number of Arab regimes hostile to the U.S. With Saddam Hussein gone, the U.S. will now be able to hold an ax over the heads of Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Iran. Unfortunately, they will find that the Arabs and Iranians are less amenable to military occupation than the Japanese were--especially since the Japanese government directly attacked the U.S., while no Arab government has done so. Osama Bin Laden is already rubbing his hands with glee at the recruitment prospects, as the new video indicates all too well.

Lastly, before anyone accuses me of being motivated by hatred of the Bush adm., I willingly concede that previous U.S. administrations, including at least one Democratic administration, have engaged in this type of policymaking.

Now, I seem to recall that back in ancient history, this set of posts started with a discussion of Lafayette. A few questions: (a) Did Lafayette advocate the imposition of French military rule in the colonies after the British had been driven out? (b) Were he and other French soldiers as contemptuous of Americans as many people in the Bush adm. are of Arab governments today, and very often of their subjects as well? (c) Did Lafayette argue for economic concessions to France as the price of French aid against the British? No? Sounds to me like the people of Iraq need a better kind of liberator.

Posted by: andres on February 17, 2003 10:23 PM

Damn. I didn't notice the quotes in Thomson's post until too late. Still, why he wishes for gullible types like me to bite on such crap is beyond my comprehension

Posted by: andres on February 17, 2003 10:28 PM

Will, in effect you are saying that Bush is seeing correctly and OBL is making a mistake. I reckon I know which of those two is likely to have a better grasp of the realities of Middle Eastern politics.

A couple of other points:

- it's absolutely hilarious to see people fume at France's alleged greed and, in the next phrase, speak of the need to get the oil safely into 'friendly' hands.

- if the Iraqi people are so keen to get rid of Saddam and welcome the US as liberators, why is Saddam issuing arms to them? The Iraqis no doubt would eat better as subjects of the American Empire, but you really are fooling yourselves if you think they'll see it that way. One of the lessons of WW11, and Vietnam, and even Serbia, is that when you drop bombs on people they tend to resent you, not their government.

Posted by: derrida derider on February 17, 2003 10:35 PM

Well, derrida, who had the better estimation of the situation in Afghanistan? By the way, I am not "fuming" about France, nor am I denying that Turkey is in pursuit of it's self interest. I am merely observing that it is in the self interest of the United Sates to have non-fascist, non-Stalinist government, however imperfect, in the Persian Gulf. The French have concluded that is is in their interest to have the fascist/Stalinist status quo maintained, because they believe there is more profit to be made from doing so, and they think aiding fascism/Stalinism is a worthwhile price to pay to weaken the United States. The Turks, it seems so far, think it is in the interest to ally with the United States, provided they receive certain considerations. This could change; perhaps the French might offer aid in gaining entry to the EU in return for Turkey's retraction of support to U.S. plans. It must be assumed for now that France will act in a manner that is hostile to U.S. strategy, for they see one of their primary foreign policy goals the weakening of the United States, even if it means lending aid to fascist/Stalinist regimes. It is therefore in the interests of the United States to educate France, as quietly as possible, that working to frustrate U.S. strategy in an area that the U.S. considers to be of utmost importance can carry immense costs. This ain't personal; it's just business.

Also, if you actually believe that you have accurate insight as to what Hussein is issuing to what people under his control, you are completely ignorant as to how Stalinist regimes operate.

Posted by: Will Allen on February 17, 2003 11:07 PM

Andres, it is impossible to have a useful dialogue when the the appraisal of basic facts are so divergent. Do you care to define the term "massive", as in "massive civilian casulties in Afghanistan."?

You also had many internally conflicting assertions in your last post. You assert that the motive for this war is to drive oil prices higher, and then seem to imply that Hussein's removal from power would lead to lower prices. I think the latter assertion is more likely the case. Oil is extremely fungible; if more is pumped out of the ground, the price is gonna fall everywhere. You seem to refer to favorable treatment of Saudi cronies in one instance, but them speak of the U.S. holding a knife to the throat of the Saudis in another. I assure you, the only party more opposed to Hussein's removal than the House of Saud is Hussein himself.

As to you last paragraph, it is notable that you seem to believe that that there is some degree of moral equivalence between the nascent representative government of the United States, and the fascist/Stalinist governments of the Persian Gulf. Let us speak plainly. The only reasonable attitude to take towards fascists and Stalinists is one of contempt. One may have to keep that attitude a secret at times, out of strategic consideration, but one should never lose sight, when dealing with fascists and Stalinists, of their contemptible nature.

Posted by: Will Allen on February 17, 2003 11:29 PM

"Even today, millions of Armenians believe this supposed genocide nonsense, according to Thomson. To deny the Armenian genocide is practically on the same level as denying the Holocaust."

Bernard Lewis strongly disagrees with you---and I consider him a genius scholar of high moral rectitude. Thus, I suspect that the Armenian genocide claims are false. Lewis says that the government of Turkey never actively pursued a policy of pushing the Armenians out of its territories. This is my rule of thumb: I believe what Bernard lewis says until sufficient evidence is provided showing him to be wrong!

Posted by: David Thomson on February 18, 2003 02:39 AM

"If we had done what we ought to have -- supported popular democracy, Ho Chi Minh would have been our best friend in Asia.."

It appears that someone is relying far too much on Oliver Stone for their history lessons. This has got to be one of the most ludicrous posts I’ve ever read on this discussion forum. Ho Chi Minh was not in the least bit interested in being a democratic leader. This tyrant tortured and murder untold numbers of people in order to impose a Communist dictatorship on Vietnam.

Posted by: David Thomson on February 18, 2003 02:47 AM

“if the Iraqi people are so keen to get rid of Saddam and welcome the US as liberators, why is Saddam issuing arms to them? “

Where is the evidence indicating that Saddam Hussein is indeed issuing arms to the hoi polloi of Iraq? What is giving them, pea shooters and sling shots?

“One of the lessons of WW11, and Vietnam, and even Serbia, is that when you drop bombs on people they tend to resent you, not their government.”

Are you saying that the allies should have never confronted Adolph Hitler out of fear of alienating the German population? Also, thousands of lives were saved once we bombed the Serbs. This post represents the real thinking of most individuals who oppose the war on Iraq. This should tell you something.

Posted by: David Thomson on February 18, 2003 03:01 AM

No, he's giving them rusty old Kashas - it's all he can afford (BTW his impecunious state is another reason to be sceptical of claims that he has a large WMD program, supposedly covered by a deception program of such sophistication that the best funded intelligence agencies in the world, backed by inspectors on the ground plus intensive satellite reconnaisance, can't produce a smoking gun). Perhaps he's just decided to grant Iraqis their Second Amendment rights.

My source on the arming, FWIW, is that well-known stooge of fascists, the BBC.

And no, I'm not saying a bombing campaign is militarily ineffective or is never justified. I'm saying that people being bombed rarely love those bombing. To this day many French people resent the 25000 Frenchmen killed in the allied bombing before D day, despite its obvious necessity. The London blitz definitely fortified Britain's resolve, and the allied bombing campaign, whatever else it did, bound the German people into a death pact with the Nazis. The massive Vietnam campaign did not make the locals see the US as liberators, and ask any Serbian what they think of NATO and you won't get a polite response. So don't expect to be warmly welcomed.

As for Afghanistan, why don't you ask some British or Australian soldiers what they think of American tactics there? The term 'bloody cowards' has been quoted (directed, I hasten to add, at your generals, not your grunts). Or ask some British politicians - your most faithful allies - what they think of the political results? The allies are restricted to a small enclave near Kabul; al Quaeda is, by the CIA's assessment, virtually unharmed (BTW the only real successes against them have come from steady police work by those despised Europeans), and the prospect of continued warlordism in both Afghanistan and Pakistan is a great long term boost for that organisation. Britain, France and Canada are being left to try and clean up the mess - the Bushies' attention has moved elsewhere. Now is it any wonder that some of them are nervous about Iraq?

Its not that US strategy was wrong - it's just that the execution was dreadful and the follow-through non-existent. And only a tame US press, afraid of being called unpatriotic, can pretend otherwise.

Posted by: derrida derider on February 18, 2003 04:50 AM

To David Thomson,

I can see that you are equally balanced and knowledgeable on every subject:
- the middle east: Israelis = the good guys , Palestinians = terrorists
- the French = decadent moral relativists
- the Armenian genocide: an invention.

Why don’t you give us a break?

Posted by: Fberthol on February 18, 2003 07:09 AM

"I can see that you are equally balanced and knowledgeable on every subject:
- the middle east: Israelis = the good guys , Palestinians = terrorists
- the French = decadent moral relativists
- the Armenian genocide: an invention."

Gosh, you are essentially right. You got three out of three. Most Israelis wish to live in peace with the Palestinians---and the polls show that most of the latter support suicide bombers. The French leaders are indeed a bunch of moral relativists, and the so-called Armenian genocide is a fabrication. I admire your perspicacious insight into my way of looking at the world. Unwittingly, you are giving me a compliment. Thank you very much.

Posted by: David Thomson on February 18, 2003 07:20 AM

I never claimed perfect execution; I asked a simple question, which you have avoided, based upon your assessment of Bin laden as a superior strategist: Which actor had a better assessment as to how events would unfold in Afghanistan, Al Queda or the U.S.?Once again, it is essential to prevailing in conflict to force your opponent to accept your version of the world, to make him worry about what your strategy is. The Afghan phase, although far from perfect (guess what? nothing is ever perfect), certainly did not unfold according to Bin Laden's view of the world, and did unfold much more closely to the United States' view of the world. This is not suprising. A strategist who is obsessed with the Battle of Vienna, or the Moorish expulsion from the Iberian Peninsula, is likely to have a very distorted view of the modern world, and thus will make him subject to errors of a very large magnitude. Of course, this doesn't mean he can't be extremely dangerous; all the better to change the fascist status quo of the Middle East, and thus cut off his revenues.
Also, relying on Western News agencies for accurate assessments as to what is happening internally in a Stalinist police state such as Iraq ignores the history of how such agencies have been stunningly, 180 degrees, wrong is their reportage, time and time and again. Western news agencies simply are ill-equipped to discern the facts in an environment where all information is tightly controlled through the inculcation of mass terror. Do a google search, for instance, on the Pulitizer Prizes won by the Paper of Record, the NYT, for reportage of conditions in Stalin's empire. Or go back and research how long it took for an accurate assessment of Pol Pot's reign to be accurately reported. The fact the BBC reports something about the situation in Iraq is fodder for idle conversation, but it would be inadvisible to bet the farm on it, given the track record of reporting from places in which terror is the coin of the realm.

Posted by: Will Allen on February 18, 2003 07:22 AM

'Similalry, d-sqaured suggested a google search above, showing fatuous statements made regarding the character of Afghans fighting the Soviet Army, as if such fatuous statements could inform us logically as to what would be the best course of action today.'

I'd say the point is that Americans are incapable of operating with moral ambiguity. Like, you know, demonizing the French because they're acting as a bit of a brake.

Posted by: Jason McCullough on February 18, 2003 07:43 AM

http://whois.melbourneit.com/index.php3?whois=armenianreality&extension=com&mlcomlanguageid=&x=32&y=6

WhoIs Result For armenianreality.com @ whois.melbourneit.com

Domain Name armenianreality.com
Creation Date 2000-12-09
Registration Date 2000-12-09
Expiry Date 2003-12-09
Organisation Name armenianreality

Organisation Address
P. K. 428 YENISEHIR
ANKARA 06100
TURKEY

Admin Name Macit KARACAY
Admin Address
P. K. 428 YENISEHIR
ANKARA
06100
TURKEY

Admin Email hayhaytr@yahoo.com
Admin Phone 4547748265
Admin Fax 4547758267
Tech Name Macit KARACAY
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Whatever, David.

Posted by: Jason McCullough on February 18, 2003 07:48 AM

Ironically, to say that any large polity is "incapable of ambiguity" is to engage in the sort of unambiguous blanket statement that one supposedly wishes to discourage. By the way, I hope all those who have decried the Bush Administration's arrogance and haughty manner in dealing with European nations took note of the manner in which Chirac addressed eastern European nations yesterday. I wonder if they will be equally disapproving of such behavior from the sophisticated French.

Posted by: Will Allen on February 18, 2003 08:12 AM

"I'd say the point is that Americans are incapable of operating with moral ambiguity. Like, you know, demonizing the French because they're acting as a bit of a brake."

What moral ambiguity? We are the good guys and the French are mostly a bunch of idiots. The French are not more sophisticated and wise---they are just cowardly morons who should be held in utter contempt. It truly is that simple. There's no reason to overcomplicate the matter.

It makes no difference whether the website concerning the alleged Armenian genocide is hosted by a Turkish national. The bottom line is this: Bernard Lewis is probably the greatest historian of that area of the world---and he says the Armenian radicals are lying. That’s enough for me. I have no time for the fatuous Edward Said and his fellow clowns.

Posted by: David Thomson on February 18, 2003 09:22 AM

"Because I (Bernard Lewis) am not a Turk nor an Armenian and I have no allegiance to any of these groups. I am a historian and my loyalties are to truth. The concept of genocide was defined legally. It is a term that the UN used and the Nuremberg trials made use of it [as well]. I side with words which have accurate meaning. In my view a loose and ambiguous use of words is bad."The meaning of genocide is the planned destruction of a religious and ethnic group, as far as it is known to me, there is no evidence for that in the case of the Armenians. The deniers of Holocaust have a purpose: to prolong Nazism and to return to Nazi legislation. Nobody wants the 'Young Turks' back, and nobody want to have back the Ottoman Law. What do the Armenians want?

"The Armenians want to benefit from both worlds. On the one hand, they speak with pride of their struggle against the Ottoman despotism, while on the other hand, they compare their tragedy to the Jewish Holocaust. I do not accept this. I do not say that the Armenians did not suffer terribly. But I find enough cause for me to contain their attempts to use the Armenian massacres to diminish the worth of the Jewish Holocaust and to relate to it instead as an ethnic dispute."

http://www.ataa.org/ataa/ref/armenian/lewis.html

Posted by: David Thomson on February 18, 2003 09:31 AM

“Few Americans who mourn, and justly, the miseries of the Armenians, are aware that till the rise of nationalistic ambitions, beginning with the 'seventies, the Armenians were the favored portion of the population of Turkey, or that in the Great War, they traitorously turned Turkish cities over to the Russian invader; that they boasted of having raised an army of one hundred and fifty thousand men to fight a civil war, and that they burned at least a hundred Turkish villages and exterminated their population.”

http://www.ataa.org/ataa/ref/armenian/tragedy.html

---John Dewey

Posted by: David Thomson on February 18, 2003 09:41 AM

Time to let Mr. Thomson run down--"do not touch" is the operative instruction here.

Let me restate my arguments in ways that Will Allen might find easier to understand.

(1) The Bush adm. would definitely like to seize Iraq's oil so that they can buy it cheaply in the future, but I strongly think they are not averse to drawing out the war preparations so that speculation makes the price of already-produced petroleum shoot way up. I am not a specialist in world oil markets and am willing to listen if anyone can present data which would contradict me, but that's what I think at this moment--those extra 40c per gallon that we are paying compared to six months ago might be finding their way into the bank accounts of people connected with Bush and Cheney.

(2) The position of the Saudi Arab government is ambiguous because they are caught in a lose-lose proposition. As Wahabi theocrats, they have no love for Saddam Hussein and the Baath Party and would dearly love to see him toppled--that's why they were an integral part of the 1991 coalition, and why their businessmen are quite chummy with the current administration. However, since 1991 the unwavering support for Israel after the collapse of the peace process, plus the continuing presence of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia, and now the talk of increasing that presence to Iraq as well, has now turned the Saudi _population_ against the Bush adm., which is why Al Qaeda gained in both support and recruitment up to 9/11. The Saudi monarchy is now soiling its undergarments when it considers the consequence of further Saudi support for U.S. military adventures--they well and truly fear they might join the Bourbons and Romanovs in the trash heap of dynastic history, which is why they have stalled on help to the U.S. even though they are Saddam Hussein's enemies.

(3) Speaking of monarchs and dynasties, you weren't reading my points on Lafayette very carefully. The moral comparison I was trying to draw was not between the American colonies and Saddam Hussein, but between him and the British--namely George III and his Tory flunkies. Granted, Saddam Hussein makes George III look quite good in comparison, but the difference between's the former's attitude towards his own people and the latter's attitude towards his American subjects is one of degree rather than substance. The point is that the alliance between France and the American rebels would never have come about if the French had been as arrogant towards us as we are to the people of Iraq in terms of the consequences of bombing and of post-Hussein occupation.

All of this is just to make one simple point-- to go to war one always has to be absolutely certain of the rightness of one's cause and that anyone who opposes you is at best cowardly and at worst evil. To point out the shortcomings of that type of thinking, to say that the people giving the order to attack are not morally pure and may be doing so for selfish motives, is to call forth the blanket comdemnation of moral relativism or moral equivalence, which conservatives/hawks have always used to smear their opponents, regardless of the consequences for those who actually fight the battles and around whom the battle is fought. One thing we do seem to agree on: the consequences of a war in Iraq will be on the hands of the Bush adm. and those who supported it. Time to leave this thread.

Posted by: andres on February 18, 2003 01:27 PM

Andres, lend me your crystal ball, when you are done predicting with certainty what the effect of Saddam's removal will have on the Iraqi population. By the way, I will take from your not answering my inquiry as to what "massive civilian casulties in Afghanistan" meant that the phrase was simply a throw-away line without content designed to puff up your opposition to Hussein's removal. Also, does that crystal ball only work in regards to the outcomes of American intervention, or does it also enlighten you as the effect of Hussein's tyranny on the Iraqi population, or the effect on literally billions of people should Hussein gain the means to prevent outside intervention through the acquisition of nuclear weapons, and then intimidate, or outright invade his neighbors?

Believe it or not, even people who advocate war as the least awful choice understand that absolute certainty is unattainable in this world, and if you want to examine an arrogant attitude, peruse Chirac's remarks to the eastern European nations yesterday. The failure to remove Hussein entails likely costs, however, and that is what so many people on the anti-war side refuse to acknowledge, often simply because they hate Geroge Bush so much that anything Bush favors must be considered wrong, and they even go so far to believe that Bush would embark on this extraordinarily risky (to his own political career) course to get a temporary bump in oil prices. I must say, this is nearly as irrational as those Republicans who were so wrapped up in Clinton-hating that they believed he had Ron Brown assasinated. Well, one is entitled to one's fevered obsessions, no matter where one resides on the political spectrum.

Finally, you are in error regarding The House of Saud. An Iraq free of sanctions, with the ability to pump oil at the pace it desires, is a nightmare for them, because their hyper-welfare state economy, with a huge percentage of the population on the dole provided by oil revenues, needs to keep the price of oil as high as possible, without throwing the world into an energy crunch. They are on a tight-rope, and an Iraq without Hussein is a tremor that would likely throw them into the chasm, with no safety net. The House of Saud's days are numbered, and it is very unlikely that the Bush Administration is not aware of it; they may in fact be planning on it, although they cannot publicly say so.

Posted by: Will Allen on February 18, 2003 02:34 PM

"The House of Saud's days are numbered, and it is very unlikely that the Bush Administration is not aware of it; they may in fact be planning on it, although they cannot publicly say so."

I'm sure that this is indeed the case. Many Saudi men work no more than three hours a day. It's also hysterically funny how much money and resources are wasted due to the fact that women cannot drive their own automobiles. The country did not diversify its economy and is deeply committed to a welfare state. Their universities are a joke and are often nothing more than extremist religious institutions. Heck, the ludicrous "Protocols of Zion" and the belief that Jews drink the blood of Muslim children are taken seriously by much of their
academic elite.

The downfall of Saddam Hussein will almost certain threaten the Saudi princes and bring about a so-called "lack of stability to the region." And this will likely be a very good thing. These benevolent dictators need to be destabilized!

Posted by: David Thomson on February 18, 2003 03:51 PM

I agree with andres - Mr Thomson is an ugly bigot immune to rational argument, and is therefore best ignored. Go take your medication, David.

But Mr Allen is worth engaging with. My point in raising Afghanistan is that OBL forced the US to invade there, knowing that it was better for al Quaeda than the alternatives. Apart from American military and political clumsiness, the reason his organisation (and possibly he) escaped is because he undoubtedly had well prepared contingency plans.

I concede that it is currently a matter of judgement as to which gentleman has a better grasp of where al Quaeda's interests lie in Iraq - I fear that the matter will be settled all too soon. But doesn't the fact that your chief enemy approves of what you're doing give you pause for thought?

I am glad to see you understand how easy it is to manipulate the media - I hope you remember that next time you watch Fox or read Time. Again, its a matter of personal judgement but I feel the BBC is rather more impartial and competent than a press owned by rich old conservatives.

Posted by: derrida derider on February 18, 2003 04:08 PM

Well, it was only a short time ago that Time's vice-chairman, and largest stockholder, was Ted Turner, who is undoubtedly rich, but if he is "conservative", he is the only "conservative" I know who speaks well of Fidel Castro. Why would media control by statist bureaucrats be superior to wealthy individuals, be they Castro or Bush supporters? The wealthy individual can only acquire revenue by convincing individuals to voluntarily give it to him, and thereby is forced to meet the expressed desires of his customers . The statist bureaucrat can acquire funds by physical force, through the power of taxation, and the legislative funding process is a far less direct method of measuring desires, to say nothing of the minority opposition that opposes directing their money to such an enterprise, but is forced to by the state. Why do you think physical force to a superior method of acquiring funds than mutually agreeable voluntary transaction?

Again, I think you greatly overestimate Bin laden's capability as a strategist. Bin laden believed he could lure the U.S. into the same sort of quagmire that the Soviets experienced in Afghanistan. He really doen't understand his environment very well, and understands the U.S. even less well. This isn't to say that he isn't dangerous, or that we should not endeavor to understand him. I can't emphasize enough, however, that one of the key elements of defeating one's enemy is to make him exert inordinate energy adapting to your strategy, as opposed to the other way around.

Is deposing Hussein in the U.S. best interest? I believe that it is, for reasons outlined above. If that premise is accepted, then the U.S. should do so, in the manner that most confounds various enemies, which includes Bin laden. I think in this instance it means minimizing civilian casulties, gaining control of the oil fields undamaged, turning the spigot on, and showering the Iraqi population with oil revenue that they have largely missed out on, even before the sanctions. An Iraq that could sell oil freely, and didn't have to line the pockets of Baathist thugs, could mean greatly improved circumstances for the typical Iraqi, which would be an setback for Bin laden. It would also give the U.S. gigantic leverage with the fascist members of the House of Saud, who either need to completely reform, or be exiled to Switzerland, or be hung by their necks. There's a big hole in lower Manhattan that was largely dug with Saudi money, and deposing Hussein is merely one part of a process that isolates and destroys those elements of the House of Saud that faciliated the making of that hole, and the slaughter of American citizens that accompanied it.

Posted by: Will Allen on February 18, 2003 05:30 PM

David, my point about the Saudi welfare state was that it is unlikely that it could successfully adapt to an Iraq with sanctions lifted, and, for the first time, an oil industry that had it's revenues directed to benefit the Iraqi population, instaed of Stalinist thugs. For the Iraqi population, $15/barrel oil revenue (just using a figure off the top of my head), actually sent to them, is a quantum leap forward in their circumstances. For the Saudi fascists, such an outcome is completely destabilizing.

Posted by: Will Allen on February 18, 2003 05:45 PM

>DD: Mr Thomson is an ugly bigot ... a press owned by rich old conservatives...

Can we *all* play spot the bigot?

Posted by: Bucky Dent on February 18, 2003 06:17 PM

"David, my point about the Saudi welfare state was that it is unlikely that it could successfully adapt to an Iraq with sanctions lifted, and, for the first time, an oil industry that had it's revenues directed to benefit the Iraqi population, instaed of Stalinist thugs"

I'm sorry that my post was perceived lacking in clarity. We agree completely. The inevitable added economic competion regarding oil prices will likely doom the Saudi benevolent dictatorship.

I also find it humorous that I'm considered a bigot in some corners. I'm sure that this might have something to with my position on the alleged Armenian holocaust. However, one of the people who
wrote an article that I linked to is John Dewey. Oh well, we all know that the famous American pragmatist philosopher was something of a right wing nut ball, don't we?

Posted by: David Thomson on February 18, 2003 06:24 PM

David, my views on your views are formed by a fairly long acquaintance on this and other blogspots - they're not just or even mainly a product of this thread. I've been particularly impressed by your nuanced understanding of Frenchmen, Germans, Arabs, and sundry other nationalities.

Perhaps 'ugly bigot' was too harsh a phrase - would you prefer 'ignorant xenophobe'?

OK, Will, maybe not each and every rich old businessman (ROB)is conservative, but ROBs certainly tend that way.

So why should statist bureaucrats do a better job? I dunno - maybe its because, conservative or not, ROBs are generally more interested in sales than accuracy. This makes the media they run eminently manipulable. Whatever the reason, the BBC bureaucrats do produce a manifestly better news service - travel the world a bit and ask who the educated classes in most third world countries look to for accuracy. Which is not to say the BBC is infallible - just that a report by them ought not to be dismissed out of hand as Iraqi propaganda.

Posted by: derrida derider on February 18, 2003 08:37 PM

This one’s for the birds. The issue is stark. The Bald Eagle risks being the carrion that Hussein is with Bushies behind the big beak ( sorry, can’t even call it a bird-brain. ) The falcon family is well-loved, but vultures are vermin to most.


And the complaint of the Go-it-alone flock of Bushbirds is that the French (and everyone else) have no sense of irony. In the Middle East their policies mean America has few friends apart from those it bribes to befriend. An account of cost and benefit from all American policy (covert and overt) in the Middle East, and the estimated benefits from keeping the gas guzzling, would be more in the red than any deficit Dubya will leave for his successor to clean up. A clean up after Dubya does Iraq, will cost as well.

Posted by: Ashok Mathai on February 19, 2003 12:55 AM

Oh, the irony of it all.

Mr Allen spouts,

>>Instead, the Germans and French have been entirely cynical and duplicitous in their behavior, particularly in regards to UN Security Counsel (sic) resolutions. This is not said in a moralistic fashion, but merely as a statement of fact<<

It might be a more convincing statement if you could spell Council, for the US does not seem to take counsel from the UN too seriously either. Your trademark of the Dan Quayle school of foreign policy, if not spelling, is telling.

Posted by: Ashok Mathai on February 19, 2003 01:21 AM

Mr. Allen again...>> War is an awful, awful, business, which is why one should never engage in it unless one has determined that the stakes are high enough to justify the tactics that will be needed to impose one's will on the enemy, and bring about the desired political result<<

In this case, cheap gas, and plenty of it. Oh, and keep the gas guzzlers empowered. What would Dubya do without the likes of you to keep him gaffing? Or maybe you’re in the majority that did not vote him in.

Posted by: Ashok Mathai on February 19, 2003 01:31 AM

Mr Thomson can do worse,

>>The major difference is that the leadership of the United States values rational thought far more than do its French counterparts. France is paying a severe price for the nefarious intellectual influences of such folks...<<

So Hussein’s a mad, bad dictator, who’s out of control and on the loose with nukes and poison gas. Who must be disarmed. At any cost. And boo to anyone who would tell you the cost.
You assume that Saddam is in cahoots with Islamists. And will be the cause of another more deadly attack on the US. You must be in league with the Trotskyists.

He’d be really asking for it then, wouldn’t he. To assume one’s opponent is irrational, does not say much for your brand of rationalism, only that it’s convenient for your flawed model.

Posted by: Ashok Mathai on February 19, 2003 01:39 AM

>>These folks are abysmally poorly educated and never learned how to think and follow a logical argument. We are sometimes too easily impressed by their multilingual talents. In many respects, the typical French intellectual is an utter moron possessing the ability to spout their nonsense in at least three different languages.<<

You can’t even spout yours in one.

Hussein attacked an Ayatollah-rife Iran which was set to assassinate and overthrow him. He attacked Kuwait, after credit and boundary disputes, and a Western nudge, wink policy for a decade. He tyrannizes a majority Shia population, and the Kurds with his minority tribe rule. Duh....that’s why he’s a dictator. Nothing too irrational there.

I’d hate to be an Iraqi now, caught between Saddam’s (known) gas, and Bush’s (easily established) nukes and propensity to cause 'collateral' damage as he would not have done to his own. Any doubts on that can be cleared with the Canadians.

Posted by: Ashok Mathai on February 19, 2003 01:48 AM

Let us indeed >> speak plainly<< a la Mr. Allen, (oops, please excuse my slip into a little French) It must be morally challenging to be a Bushbird. It is in the self-interest of your countrymen and women, not to have Bush speak for them. And trigger-happy Rifle308 from Texas, is not even worth countering, since his prose does him in. The phrase ‘loose canon’ comes to mind.

Posted by: Ashok Mathai on February 19, 2003 02:07 AM

For a reasoned American approach one might do worse than to read

http://www.ksg.harvard.edu/news/opeds/walt_saddam_box_nyt_020203.htm

or even

http://foreignpolicy.com/wwwboard/walts.html

Posted by: Ashok Mathai on February 19, 2003 02:19 AM

A well-reasoned Israeli one that's new on the NYT web edition

The Protesters: Right for the Wrong Reasons
By AMOS OZ


RAD, Israel — A wave of anti-American sentiment has risen across the world — and with it a wave of emotional hostility toward Israel. Those who see America as the embodiment of the Great Satan tend also to see Israel as the Little Satan, Rosemary's baby. Lost amid the clatter is that many decent people of enlightened and pragmatic views oppose an invasion against Iraq, even many who supported the Persian Gulf war.

But these days the dogmatic and sentimental European left does not hesitate to link arms with the reactionary and racist right in anti-American vilification, some of it drawn directly from the scrap heap of the Communists and the Nazis — all kinds of blighted slogans about the "octopus tentacles of Wall Street" and "the sinister Zionist-capitalist conspiracy to take over the world." My objection to the war on Iraq is severely tested each time I hear these loathsome voices.

And I do object to an Iraq invasion — because I feel that extremist Islam can be stopped only by moderate Islam, and extremist Arab nationalism can be curbed only by moderate Arab nationalism. America, Europe and the moderate Arab states must work to weaken Saddam Hussein's despicable regime — but they should do so by helping those who would topple it from within.

An American war against Iraq, even if it ended in victory, is liable to heighten the sense of affront, humiliation, hatred and desire for vengeance that much of the world feels toward the United States. It threatens to arouse a wave of fanaticism with the power to undermine the very existence of moderate governments in the Middle East and beyond. This pending war is already splitting the alliance of democratic states and cracking the ramshackle edifice of the United Nations and its institutions. Ultimately, this will benefit only the violent and fanatical forces menacing the peace of the world.

Moreover, no one — not even America's intelligence agencies — can predict what will emerge when the lid is lifted on Iraq. No one can foresee the severity of the killing, the danger of the doomsday weapons, or the validity of the fear that in a battered and crumbling Iraq 5 or 10 Osama bin Ladens will emerge to take Saddam Hussein's place.

The protesters have it wrong: this war campaign does not emanate from oil lust or from colonialist appetite. It emanates primarily from a simplistic rectitude that aspires to uproot evil by force. But the evil of Saddam Hussein's regime, like the evil of Osama bin Laden, is deeply and extensively rooted in vast expanses of poverty, despair and humiliation. Perhaps it is even more deeply rooted in the terrible, raging envy that America has aroused for many years — not only in countries of the third world, but also in the broad boulevards of European society.

If you are envied by all, you should be careful about wielding a big stick. After World War II, the Marshall Plan benefited the United States and world peace more than America's old and new weapons put together. The big stick is necessary, but it is best used to deter or repulse aggression, not to "impose good." And even when the big stick is brandished to defeat aggression, it is crucial that it be brandished by the international community — or at least by a broad alliance of nations. Otherwise, it is liable to redouble the hatred, despair and lust for vengeance that it set out to defeat.


Amos Oz is the author, most recently, of "The Same Sea." This was translated from the Hebrew by Ruhama Shattan.

Posted by: Ashok Mathai on February 19, 2003 02:53 AM

Well yes, Mr. Mathai, the pedantic correction of spelling errors in rapidly typed, unproof-read posts in an informal forum such as this really strenghtens your case. Say, do you make a habit of correcting grammatical errors when engaged in casual conversation with new acquaintances? I am sure that people warmly look forward to having an encounter with the likes of you. Finally, if you think that rich Americans driving SUVs would suffer the worst in a world in which the likes of Hussein came to dominate the flow of Persian Gulf oil, you really don't understand much about the world at all. Don't bother replying; I make a practice of avoiding extended dialogues with people who display an ineptitude for civil discourse from the very start.

Posted by: Will Allen on February 19, 2003 10:10 AM

Andrew Brown wrote:
I can only assume that this rash of Francophobia across the warhard constituency is an expression of a thoroughly rotten conscience.

I think a better approach would be start with the aphorism "Never attribute to malice that which can be explained by ignorance," and add the observation "Americans have a historical view that reaches all the way back to breakfast." (I'm not certain of the attribution for either, but suggest Napoleon possibly for the first, and Hitchens possibly for the second.)

Posted by: Tom on February 19, 2003 01:05 PM

"Mr Thomson can do worse....

...So Hussein’s a mad, bad dictator, who’s out of control and on the loose with nukes and poison gas."

You totally misinterpret my views on Saddam Hussein. I am convinced that he is a sly fox who does not seek nihilistic martyrdom. Moreover, I have been predicting for the last few weeks that he will ultimately agree to lavishly live on a deserted island.

I hate to use capital letters to emphasize a point. It’s considered rude by some people. Alas, I am a desperate man compelled to employ desperate measures:

I AM NOT WORRIED THAT SADDAM HUSSEIN WILL EVER FORMALLY DECLARE WAR AGAINST THE UNITED STATES. THIS IS MOST UNLIKELY TO EVER OCCUR. THE ODDS ARE FAR GREATER THAT KOBE BRYANT WILL GET ON HIS KNEES AND BEG ME FOR MERCY ON A BASKETBALL COURT! HOWEVER, I ADAMANTLY ARGUE THAT THE IRAQI DICTATOR WILL NOT HESITATE TO DISCRETELY ASSIST TERRORISTS WHO WILL DO HIS DIRTY WORK FOR HIM. HE WILL THEN CLAIM, ‘WHO ME? I HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THE DISASTER.”

Have I finally made myself clear?

Posted by: David Thomson on February 19, 2003 02:21 PM

"And I do object to an Iraq invasion — because I feel that extremist Islam can be stopped only by moderate Islam, and extremist Arab nationalism can be curbed only by moderate Arab nationalism. America, Europe and the moderate Arab states must work to weaken Saddam Hussein's despicable regime — but they should do so by helping those who would topple it from within."

Amos Oz is a naive man who has caused much unwitting harm to Israel. He overlooks the harsh fact that the moderate Muslims (who are probably in the majority) can do little until the radicals have been dealt with. Unfortunately, this can occur only through the use of violence. The Islamic fascist must either be killed or jailed. There are no other viable alternatives.

Saddam Hussein literally worships Joseph Stalin--and has mastered the art of terror. His spies are everywhere and no one can speak freely. Have you ever read George Orwell’s “1984?” Iraq is in some ways 1984 on steroids! Therefore, it is most unlikely that a significant opposition force can ever be brought about in a nation where the dictator doesn't hesitate to torture, rape, and murder ever family member of a political dissenter.

Posted by: David Thomson on February 19, 2003 02:44 PM

Mr Allen wastes his rapidly unedited keystrokes in attempting but not spelling out a harrying case for war, his tedious abstractions of increasing the ‘cost’ and ‘political results’ notwithstanding.

My point is for those who might see the error in his line of thought. While abstracting away from the mess of war, sounds a mite more civil than jingoism by Rifle308, they are not that far removed from each other. The party line remains the same, and is best left to those ( and leaders who spent their Vietnam years ) defending Texas from the poor and ragged who threaten to storm its borders. The danger of these arguments is that they deal with war as an abstract business activity – increasing the cost – rather than saying blowing off their %#!#*, making widows, orphaning and maiming, and blighting those that remain by keeping them cut off from medical facilities.

For clarity anyone might see http://www.nytimes.com/2003/02/21/opinion/21KRUG.html
Truly a 21st century ‘crusade’. Talk of war is best made with sounds and scenes of people screaming, and limbs being torn, and burns and wounds playing in the backdrop. It is telling that the only senior US cabinet member seen as being restrained on war is the one who has come closest to it.
A note on ‘civilized discourse’ -- the kind that Mr Allen would rather have with other respondents. The calm advocacy of wholesale bloodletting thousands of miles from where you are ensconced makes Gandhi’s take on western civilization – it would be a good idea – as good copy today, as when it was first reported.

Mr Thomson :
>>The Islamic fascist must either be killed or jailed. There are no other viable alternatives.<<

Islamic fascist is an improbable category. You would recruit thousands to replace the hundreds that you jail or kill. With a cult that thrives on martyrdom, such a policy would be giving the real threat – extremists who now have little truck with Saddam – a real boost. The ranks of Christians swelled when ardent followers were fed to the lions.

Saddam Hussein al-Takriti is indeed a warmonger, and not a popularly elected one. He is not of the religious fundamentalist kind, but rather of the Armani-and-sometimes-fatigues clad type. The parallel with the occupants of US high office could be getting better, but I’d rather stop here.

Posted by: Ashok Mathai on February 23, 2003 09:57 AM

STOP EASY FRANCOPHOBIA AND MAKE YOUR POINT BY TELLING YOUR TRUTH INSTEAD OF RELYING ON TERRIBLE CLICHES ABOUT FRANCE.

JUST REMEMBER...

...THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION
The French participation to the American Independence1776-1782 costed 9 million pounds given to the Continental Congress, 1 billion pounds of military spendings on the French Expeditionary Forces (land and naval), France warranted an American debt of 34 million pounds, Beaumarchais furnished for 3 600 000 F of weaponry (his heirs were reimbursed 800 000 F in... 1835). One must realize that such amounts of money were, at the time, huge enormous spendings, which indirectly accelerated the fall of the 850-years old French dynasty...

In short:
In 1769, Marshal de Broglie sent the Baron de Kalb in North America to report on the situation. In 1776, Silas Deane, an American agent in Paris, obtained as gifts 30,000 stand of arms, as many uniforms, 250 pieces of artillery and vast quantities of military stores. American privateers were welcomed in French ports of the Caribbean. Marquis de La Fayette volunteered and served usefully through the Pennsylvania campaign and, quote, proved himself a good and energetic soldier. On March 1st, 1780, Count of Rochambeau was given command of a French Expeditionary Force. With his commission he received the King’s instructions, which were to entrust the overall command of the troops to Washington, who was to be accorded the same honours as a Marshal of France. All plans of campaign were to be directed by the American General, and the French, as auxiliaries, were to give their aallies precedence. In a secret rider, however, Rochambeau was told that there was to be no dispersal of the French troops, and that they were always to serve as an army corps under French generals.

His force consisted of 8000 men. Sailing on May 2nd, the French fleet (with 5000 men) reached Newport, RI, on July 11th, where the troops were encamped for nearly a year waiting for the arrival of the second division (3000 remainder). On June 10th, 1781 Rochambeau left Newport and joined Washington near White Plains where they concerted plans for an attack on New York. While they were making their plans, news came that Cornwallis had entrenched himself in Yorktown. French Admiral de Grasse was simultaneously bound for the Chesapeake with 29 ships and the 3000 men under command of Marquis de St-Simon. The combined armies (3000 French + 1500 Americans under La Fayette) immediately marched south. Eleven days later, Rochambeau was at Williamsburg where La Fayette’s Americans and St-Simon’s French had already bottled Cornwallis up in Yorktown. Gage and La Fayette atempted the first assault on October 14th. By a curious coincidence, two colonels, French Geniat and American Hamilton, entered together the second entrenchment of the city, as a token for the alliance. The British capitulated on October 19th, and their garison marched out between two lines, the Americans on one side, and the French on the other. The French returned home after this decisive victory, sailing back to France in January 1783.

When the American delegates Jay, Adams (quite ant-French) and Franklin (pro-French) negociated a separate peace with England in 1782, they willingly violated the Franco-American treaty of Alliance. And when France and England went at war again in 1793, Washington denied the Franco-American treaty of 1778 and proclaimed USA’s neutrality.
Sure you may call the French untrustworthy to her allies after that, you gave the first lesson it seems...

There is no question about what were the reasonable chances of an Insurgent success without the financial and military aid from the French. Put aside the equipment and armament issues (armies without food, rifles, cannons nor pairs of shoes seldom win wars), it is recognized that the naval victory of the French Fleet over the British at Chesapeake proved to count amongst the most decisive factors of the British final defeat, and thus of the viability of the young American Republic. I guess Canada would be at least 48 Provinces bigger, if it weren’t for the French.

... THE FIRST WORLD WAR
War started in mid-1914 and ended in end -1918. If you count only the main powers, it involved 8,410,000 men from the French Empire, 8,904,467 men from the British Empire, 12,000,000 Russians, facing 11,000,000 Germans, 7,800,000 Austro-Hungarians, 2,850,000 Turks and 1,200,000 Bulgarians.
The Americans were neutral for 3 years (the war lasted 4 years)! The alledged reason for their declaration of war against Germany on February of 1917 is mainly because of the American ships due to Europe sunk by German submarines (well... fair enough, nothing wrong here, the US had to protect their national interests). The urge of the Allies to call upon the USA to join them was mostly because the 12,000,000 Russian were underway to complete collapse (the Communists finally concluded a separate peace with Germany). On June 26th, 15,500 Americans arrived in St-Nazaire. By 1918, there were 2,000,000 American servicemen in France. War ended, as you may well know, on November 11th of the same year. Oh... I forgot to add that most of the fighting on the western front, if not all, occurred on Belgian and French soil... I let you imagine the destructions faced by the country.

Let me make myself clear here: I feel a profound respect for all the Sammies who gave their lives for their country for we were joined in a common fight against a common ennemy. May they rest in peace in the soil of France where they’ll always be remembered with warm sympathy and true friendship, as brothers-in-arms should. I’m not into arguing here, I respect our gallant allies.

But for God’s sake ! Don’t say you saved our butts in WWI ! The French, the Brits and the Ruskies did most of the work, the fighting and the dying (KIA: 1 357 800 French, 908 371 British, 1 700 000 Russian, 116 516 Americans - WIA: 3 595 000 French, 2 090 212 British, 4 950 000 Russian, 204 002 Americans).
Statistics (source is US War Department)
For population of 100, France had 10.5 killed, Germany 9.8, Austria 9.5, Italy 6.2, UK 5.1, Russia 5, Belgium 1.9 and USA 0.2.
If the US had proportionnally suffered the same ratio, there would have been 3 200 000 dead Americans in the trenches of France.
So please, again, don’t say you saved our asses on WWI. The French and the Brits won the goddam first war, and thanks (I really and truly mean thanks) for coming - it’s OK if you were late, you came after all.

... THE SECOND WORLD WAR
When Poland got invaded, France and UK declared war on Germany. The US played golf or were taking a nap, well... were not interested anyway. Although the Anglo-French troops equalled the Germans (2 million vs 2 million), the latter had a superiority on decisive fields : Air 1592 bombers vs 292 - 1016 fighter planes vs 777 - Organisation : German artillery, armoured divisions and air forces worked in coordination, while the French and the British stupidly did not manage to set up a common headquarter - Thanks to their insularity, the Brits were able to resume the fighting after their hasty evacuation from Dunkirk. If it weren’t for the English Channel and for the admirable determination of the British airmen during the Battle of Britain... there would have been an occupied Britain as well as an occupied western Europe... sure it was a disaster... and during that time, the US had finished to the 18th hole, and decided to take another nap. OK, and send (on leasing) the military equipment that the Brits had to beg in order to maintain hope during this dark age. The Allied had collapsed, and France was occupied. Blame the Nazis for Petain, not the French ! We had to suffer this imposed regime, it’s not exactly as if it were regular French politics when undertaken under a foreign boot, you know. But actually you don’t, because the US are beyond reach of invasion and occupation. One might think it’s because you’re so great after all, but don’t you think geography has a little to do with it ? Take your time to think... nothing hasty. Anyways... this sinister part of French history (who doesn’t have such parts... like indian genocide or massive slavery...) accounts for all the modern tales and cliches of the French being a nation of cowards... just as the massacre of Indians and the inhumane slavery of Africans account so much today for the racist-moron-bully-who-can-barely-read-but-thinks-he’s-always-right cliche that some Europeans have about the US.

Let me just remind you that more than 210,000 French servicemen died during WWII, among which 123,079 fighting during the Battle of France. After the defeat, the Free French Forces based on free French soil (part of the colonial Empire not under German or Vichy rule) and in the UK lost another 54 929 men. 19,701 underground resistants also died as heroes. 220,000 civilian Frenchmen and women (among which 75000 Jews) where deported to concentration camps, and very few survived.

The US lost 291,557 servicemen during WWII (60% in Europe)... just 81,000 more men than France.

By the way, the USA never declared war upon Germany... it was the Germans and the Italians that declared war upon the US on December 11th, 1941. Before that, the US were more friendly with German-Puppet-Pétain and did not recongnize Freedom Fighter de Gaulle. The French almost ought to thank the Germans and the Italians (hmm... a bit incoherent and weird though): for maybe you would have never landed in Normandy if the central European dictators had not forced you into war...

Now here again, I want to show my deepest respects to those brave GI who died so far away from their homes and freed my country. I have been to the American Cimetery at Omaha Beach in Normandy two years ago, I have prayed there for their souls. They will never be forgotten. I want it to be clear.


SO NOW STOP GIVING US LESSONS, STOP THINKING THAT CRITICISM IS TREASON. WE WERE TOGETHER ON THE FIRST GULF WAR, WE WERE TOGETHER IN AFGHANISTAN. TRY TO LISTEN RATHER THAN TO BULLY AROUND. AND STOP BEING SO POORLY RACIST. WE ARE ALLIES, NOT SERVANTS.

Posted by: Pierre on April 6, 2003 10:21 AM
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