March 15, 2003

At la Strada: A Conversation About Foreign Policy

One warm spring afternoon in Berkeley at a cafe at the corner of College and Bancroft...

Visiting Professor: So are you mourning the passing of your subdiscipline?

Political Science Professor: Ha! That's a good one. It's certainly true that we used to chronicle and theorize about the construction of institutions of conflict management and international governance. It's certainly true that now we chronicle the destruction of such institutions. But it's still International Relations--it's still international politics--only now it is by other means...

Economics Professor: Nevertheless, I have the feeling that Clausewitz would not be impressed by the current executive branch leadership of the United States of America. I mean, I can understand that there might be secret intelligence to convince them that Saddam Hussein is too dangerous to be allowed to rule--that he is a madman with poor judgment about to embark on a career of terrorism and conquest--and that we need to strike to overthrow him as quickly as possible no matter what the United Nations thinks...

Interlocutor:
And that secret evidence would be what?... Agreed, he has shown very bad judgment in starting his ten-year war with Iran (albeit he did that, I believe, with our blessing) and in deciding to try to resolve his dispute over slant drilling with Kuwait by conquering the entire country...

Economics Professor: It is very hard to deter people who have such bad judgment. But I can also see the administration being convinced that--insanely bad judgment or not--Saddam Hussein is deterable, is containable, and that the most important thing is to strengthen the Concert of the Atlantic and the United Nations as institutions. That even if they make bad decisions, the stakes in this case are so low relative to the long-term stakes. But...

Political Science Professor: But?

Economics Professor: I cannot understand the administration's policy. It's, "We hate you and are going to depose or kill you, but first we are going to go through a year-long process of convincing the United Nations to approve of it, but if the U.N. does not approve we will come in and depose or kill you anyway."

Visiting Professor: That does seem to be a good summary of the administration's policy...

Economics Professor: And if he really is an undeterable madman, a guy who is itching to embark once again on a career of terror and conquest, telling him that you are coming after him with probability one--but only in a year--is not a good plan. It gives him lots of time to think outside the box, lots of time to prepare nasty surprises, lots of time to preposition barrels full of nerve agents in warehouses in Georgetown, or even lots of time to rent lots of trucks to carry fertilizer in U-Haul depots across the United States...

Political Science Professor: Yep. That's the fear. Weapons prepositioned inside the United States to use in terror attacks, and Saddam Hussein has had more than a year to get ready. You have to think that he's done it: it is, after all, the rational thing for him to do...

Economics Professor (turns to Economics Graduate Student sitting next to him and says): By now you have learned that economists use the word rational in ways that strike nearly everyone else as bizarre, sinister, and creepy. Now learn that there is one and only one group--political science professors specializing in International Relations--who use rational in a way that strikes even economists as bizarre, sinister, and creepy. Posted by DeLong at March 15, 2003 02:00 PM | TrackBack

Comments

Sounds to me like that political science prof might have been Steve Weber.

Posted by: Sumana on March 15, 2003 03:06 PM

Why is it that even in Britain, Australia, Spain, the case for a war against Iraq has not been successfully made for the public? How have we managed to isolate ourselves so much in these two years?

Posted by: billl on March 15, 2003 03:17 PM

He's right however. It is the rational thing to do.

Either Saddam has WMD in which case if he is invaded he will use them or he doesn't have them and invading him is safe (but not justified by the WMD threat).

Posted by: Ian Welsh on March 15, 2003 03:21 PM

. . . . but if the Administration had foregone the UN and gone straight after Iraq when Afghanistan was finished (which is the correct long-term strategy), the Economics Professor and the Political Science Professor would have been criticizing the "unilateral cowboy" approach. The discussion as related was severely lacking in intellectual rigor and honesty.

I do wholeheartedly disagree about the speculation regarding the "rational" thing for Saddam to do. If the U.S. goes to war with Saddam, he's finished. There is NO winning strategy for Saddam Hussein after all-out war starts. He may be delusional enough to think he can win, but that idea's totally ridiculous. The U.S. has more than 10x Iraq's population, and our GDP per capita and military spending swamp Iraq's.

The rational strategy for Saddam would have been to gradually, steadily and honestly turn over the WMD's that he has, and "appear" to be reforming even while remaining true to himself. Under those circumstances the U.S. probably couldn't go to war . . . . . . but the ridiculous stance that Blix, Saddam and the French have taken makes war a certainty, and it's a war that Iraq will lose.

And wait and see how long the war takes before making any judgements about what Machiavelli and Clausewitz would think - there are positive long-term implications for the U.S. position in the world if the war is short and overwhelmingly in the favor of the good guys (the U.S.). As bin Laden said, "everybody favors the strong horse . . . . . . "

Posted by: Anarchus on March 15, 2003 03:21 PM

Wrong - the rational strategy is to put WMD in two (or one) US cities. When the US attacks you release one then tell the US to pull back or you'll use the other.

Posted by: Ian Welsh on March 15, 2003 03:25 PM

Saddam has chemical and biological weapons but not nuclear. Now is the time to take him out, before it's too late. That is sufficient reason for invading Iraq.

The potential humanitarian and political side benefits are likely to be enormous.

Many said Bill Clinton was a fool to take on mighty Serbia. Milosevic is gone, and Serbia is a free country. The region is still a mess, but at least the genocide has stopped.

Who cares about the UN? Who has the UN liberated? The UN did nothing to protect the Bosnian and Kosovar Muslims, and it allowed genocide to occur in Rwanda. The UN is a show to entertain liberals and make the French feel they are important.

Posted by: Joe Willingham on March 15, 2003 04:15 PM

Anarchus:

The rational thing for Saddam to do if he is attacked is to use everything in his arsenal to kill American soldiers. If he has planned ahead, then it is also rational to kill as many Merrican civilians as he can. He really has nothing to lose. So why put the United States in the position of encouraging terrorism? Because somehow, someway, everything is going to turn out okey Dokey like the end to The Sound of Music?

"The discussion as related was severely lacking in intellectual rigor and honesty."

And the Bush Administration has been shining examples of intellectual rigor and honesty?

Intellectual Rigor

Despite millions of dollars and powerful wishful thinking, there is no clear evidence of a link between Iraq and Terrorists. Then there is the reason de jour: weapons of mass destruction, no wait, illegal model rockets, no wait, building a nuclear weapon from Nigeria, no wait, for the children we haven't already killed.

Honesty

The incredible lack of creditability that Bush et al has built up is stunning. We can't even get Mexico, for Christ's sake. The Turks won't even do it for a pile of money and a wink wink nudge nudge over the Kurds. Putin must have looked Bush in the eye, seen his soul and decided not to trust the bastard. Fox must have noticed how Blair was being rode like a mule and decided to side with the rest of the entire freakin world.

"We hate you and are going to depose or kill you, but first we are going to go through a year-long process of convincing the United Nations to approve of it, but if the U.N. does not approve we will come in and depose or kill you anyway."

What is incorrect about this statement? What was dishonest about this discussion?

It has been Kaboki theatre for the last year: we are going to invade Iraq but first let's pretend we believe in diplomacy to fool the dumb ass yokels.

Posted by: Troy McClure on March 15, 2003 04:19 PM

Kabuki

Posted by: Troy McClure on March 15, 2003 04:25 PM

My favorite headline of the day:

Bush Sees Little Hope US Can Avoid War with Iraq

something wonderfully circular about it.

Posted by: richard on March 15, 2003 04:28 PM

Either Saddam has WMD in which case if he is invaded he will use them or he doesn't have them and invading him is safe (but not justified by the WMD threat).

Yep. If he has them, attacking likely provokes him into using them on us (which he didn't seem otherwise likely to do) or he doesn't have them (in which case there's no justification for attacking).

Posted by: richard on March 15, 2003 04:33 PM

Men make history, but they don't make it as they please. Going a different route would have different consequences that were judged to not be worth it at the time. There are also physical constraints. As wonderful as it would be if our Army could conquer any dictator with five minutes notice, it can't. It took time to build up forces and replish stocks. You have to work with what you have.

Posted by: Mike Ralls on March 15, 2003 04:57 PM

>The incredible lack of creditability that Bush et al has built up is stunning.

Perhaps other governments have been reading the links off this: http://www.btinternet.com/~nlpwessex/Documents/iraqgate.htm

Posted by: Bob Briant on March 15, 2003 06:04 PM

Given the radical internal disruption wrought on the Iranian military by the 1978-79 revolution, 1980 seems to have been the "most rational" opportunity to attack Iran that Saddam had. I won't be convinced his 1990 invasion of Kuwait was irrational either until the details surrounding April Glaspie's pre-war negotiations with Saddam are actually declassified. Whether or not her statement to Saddam about the US having "no opinion on the Arab-Arab conflicts, like your border disagreement with Kuwait" was representative of the overall US message, it seems galling enough by itself to make me skeptical of claims that the US made the nature of its opposition clear in advance.

Declassify, declassify, declassify!!!

On a lighter note, my favorite rational-actor paradox on current events is this. Assuming Saddam already has WMD (a fair certainty), a preemptive invasion is only rational if he can be deterred from retaliating with them. But in this case, doesn't the logic of invasion undermine itself by establishing Saddam's credentials as a rational and thus deterrable actor?

Posted by: david on March 15, 2003 09:56 PM

>>There is NO winning strategy for Saddam Hussein after all-out war starts. He may be delusional enough to think he can win, but that idea's totally ridiculous. The U.S. has more than 10x Iraq's population, and our GDP per capita and military spending swamp Iraq's.<<

Ah yes, the usual chest thumping. It's utterly stupid to claim that the U.S. _can't_ beat Iraq, and no one opposed to the war has done so. Whether we should start something in which our only alternative is to "win" is another question altogether. We also had more than 10x Vietnam's population, and a much bigger GDP and armed forces than theirs. And yet, in the end, we were reduced to the Joint Chiefs wondering about a military coup or a certification of insanity if Nixon ordered them to use atomic weapons on Hanoi.

Saddam Hussein will not last a second once the shooting starts, and yet I wonder whether the assorted residents of Iraq will continue shooting at us long after Hussein is gone.

And the discussants are absolutely right. If Saddam Hussein had atomic WMD's _or_ links to Al Qaeda, the U.S. should have presented proof of these immediately, which _would_ have swung the UN behind them. That they didn't, and that all they could come up with was potential proof of nerve agents which we already knew Saddam Hussein already had, seems to indicate well enough that the whole WMD/AlQaeda hubbub is a smokescreen and that this administration wants to invade Iraq for motives of its own. Of course, that wouldn't sell, so the WMD/AlQaeda charade in the UN had to take place--the neocons in the administration were talking about invading Iraq long before 9/11, but that awful tragedy hasn't proved to be the golden pretext that they thought it would be.

None of this, however, will make any difference to the coalition of the Willinghams. No surprise there.

Posted by: andres on March 15, 2003 10:12 PM

Funny... I'd think that now would be one of the MOST interesting times to be a poli-sci guy: when everything is going haywire, much as Krugman (gosh! We can't have a discussion on the comments section without bringing THAT GUY up, can we!) once commented that he felt fortunate that the 1990s produced a bumper crop of currency crises since it was so interesting to him (if rather bad news for finance ministers).

Posted by: Julian Elson on March 15, 2003 10:22 PM

"Why is it that even in Britain, Australia, Spain, the case for a war against Iraq has not been successfully made for the public? How have we managed to isolate ourselves so much in these two years? "

A point of context: The case for war is almost NEVER made successfully to the general populace in democracies before it arrives. General populaces are ALWAYS against war -- until they are attacked, when it may well be too late.

The case was not made to the people in France in 1936, when a simple threat (no war necessary) would have stopped Hitler in his tracks; nor in France or Britain in 1938 when they preferred to hand over the Czechs and the resources of Central Europe to the Nazis, dooming themselves.

In 1939 in the USA fully 98% (!) of the people were against intervening in Europe to help the democracies against the Nazis.

In 1940 in the USA, even after the fall of France and with the Battle of Britain, fully 70% of Americans were against intervening on the side of the democracies in Europe. You may remember the campaign pledge FDR felt compelled to make in the 1940 election:
"While I am talking to you mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again and again and again: Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars."

This was of course while he had the USA re-arming furiously, and was looking hard for a way to get into the war against Hitler that he wouldn't get blamed for. But as late as mid-1941 FDR told his advisors he was afraid that if the got the US into WWII he'd be impeached!

People say Bush has failed because he hasn't convinced Europe, he's only convinced the US -- but FDR couldn't convince even the US of the need for war, even against a super-Saddam who had already swallowed all of Europe! To the point where he had to make such campaign, er.... lies ... to get elected. (It was only the Japanese who solved that problem for him, of course, at Pearl Harbor.)

I could go on. The majority opinion in Britain was against the Falklands war before Thatcher made it come true, even though it was their territory that had been seized and occupied. And the Europeans didn't even *try* to get their Serbian regime change through the UN, they knew they could *never* do it. And so on...

The point is that the general populace is *always* against war -- especially supporting somebody else's war in a remote place. So why is that a surprise to anyone, or taken as a particular sign of political failure, just now? That's rather ahistorical.

But nations have leaders, and leaders are supposed to understand the situation better than the populace and *lead* it, not follow it, when the time calls for it. The leaders of Britain and France in the 1930s didn't lead but followed. Thatcher did lead in the Falklands war. FDR tried to lead 1939-41 but had a very, very hard time of it, only having his problem solved from the outside. And he was an immensely popular and powerful president. Regarding the bombing of Serbia, the leaders involved said clear and outright, "screw public opinion and the UN".

The numbers of people whom Bush has been able to convince of the need to go to war -- and should be required to convince -- should be placed in this context. He actually looks rather good compared to FDR.

Posted by: Jim Glass on March 15, 2003 11:03 PM

Or, to paraphrase: "Democracies and majority votes are not good at deciding when to go to war. Just trust us, let us make the decisions, and you'll see that in the end your sons died for a good cause."

I guess Sun Tzu, Machiavelli, Clausewitz, and others were being naive pansies when they stated (in general) that one necessary precondition for a successful war was that the population had to support the war effort wholeheartedly.

Personally, I'm rather glad that FDR failed and that the case had to be made for him by Pearl Harbor. An early, half-hearted war against Tojo and Hitler would have had much worse results than what actually happened in history. Days of Infamy have a way of galvanizing popular opinion, provided you can connect the disaster to the guilty party.

Posted by: andres on March 15, 2003 11:22 PM

Economics Professor: ... I mean, I can understand that there might be secret intelligence to convince them that Saddam Hussein is too dangerous to be allowed to rule...

Interlocutor: And that secret evidence would be what?... Agreed, he has shown very bad judgment in starting his ten-year war with Iran (albeit he did that, I believe, with our blessing) and in deciding to try to resolve his dispute over slant drilling with Kuwait by conquering the entire country...

Non-academic eavesdropping at next table: "Bad judgment" ;-)

Prominent politician, not at the cafe at all:

"What if [Saddam] fails to comply, and we fail to act, or we take some ambiguous third route which gives him yet more opportunities to develop his program of weapons of mass destruction and continue to press for the release of the sanctions and continue to ignore the solemn commitments that he made? Well, he will conclude that the international community has lost its will. He will then conclude that he can go right on and do more to rebuild an arsenal of devastating destruction ... If we fail to respond today, Saddam and all those who would follow in his footsteps will be emboldened tomorrow. Some day, some way, I guarantee you, he'll use the arsenal."

President William Jefferson Clinton, February 18, 1998.

Now, I know it's tough for a mere politician to get a meaningful word in against a bevy of esteemed academics, but he was a Democrat at least... ;-)

Economics Professor: And if he really is an undeterable madman, a guy who is itching to embark once again on a career of terror and conquest, telling him that you are coming after him with probability one -- but only in a year -- is not a good plan...
~~

One of the things about economic analysis that has always favorably impressed me is that it is not enough to say a policy is "bad", one must actually present an option that is better. It is the study of real-world alternatives.

So if we decide we must get rid of a Saddam, how do we do it quickly or without letting him know? Of course, the US *could* have acted much more quickly than it has. But say we start with that intention -- then the Loyal Democratic Opposition comes arguing out forcefully with, "You *can't* do that, you *must* go through the UN!" So then we start down that time-consuming road, arguing in detail in public what we are going to do...

What is the practical alternative that the Economics Professor says was missed, which could have eliminated Saddam quickly or surprisingly?


Posted by: Jim Glass on March 15, 2003 11:43 PM

In terms of offering public justifications for war, Pearl Harbor is to FDR as 9/11 is to GWB.

I don't see how you can comment on GWB's ability to convince the US public without pointing out that he used 9/11 the way FDR used Pearl Harbor. In fact, world and US opinion was pretty solidly behind GWB's initial reaction - to attack Afganistan because it was the primary Al Qaida base. The public-support problem that has arisen comes from GWB's mis-use of 9/11 to justify attacking Iraq (which initial justification has now morphed into WMD/evilness etc etc).

As Jim Glass points out, FDR was way ahead of public opinion and DID try to lead on the issue of nazism - but was unsuccessful until Pearl Harbor (and the fact that the Germans declared war on the US four days after Pearl Harbor).

FDR led the US into a just war. With respect to the war against Iraq that he is leading us into, GWB is no FDR.

Posted by: SM on March 16, 2003 12:19 AM

When you come down to it, this debate isn't so much about Iraq as it is about it about a fundamental divide within American society between ordinary Americans and the liberal elite.

Since the Vietnam debacle, liberals have felt a deep sense of alienation from this country, its people, its history and its ideals. In their desperation they grasp at straws, even to the extent of making common cause with Islamic fascism.

Posted by: Joe Willingham on March 16, 2003 01:49 AM

When only about half the country favors invading without UN sanction, I don't think we're talking about some "liberal elite."

Posted by: Jason McCullough on March 16, 2003 02:38 AM

Umberto Eco suggests (Reflections on War) " the most likely outcome of a war is 'tilt'."
No war in the last century was clearly a victory without ambiguity (even simple ones like the Falklands).
The question relevant to this proposed war is "what does it mean to win?". No clear answer is given, it is unlikely that victory will stop or even lessen the spread of WMDs, that it will curtail terrorism, spread democracy to the middle east or return certainty to the stock market.
At best it will remove internal oppression by Saddam (but may replace it with other - eg Turks of Kurds). No wonder it's hard to gain universal support.

To return to Eco's essay (written as Allied troops entered Kuwait city the first time around) "If war is a neoconnectionist system, it is no longer a phenomenon in which calculations and intentions of the protagonists have any value."
In some cases we may need to fight regardless, hopefully these become increasingly rare.

Posted by: jcr on March 16, 2003 03:24 AM

>When only about half the country favors invading without UN sanction, I don't think we're talking about some "liberal elite."

Never mind the vetoes in the UN Security Council, by reports it seems a second resolution would not even muster a simple majority, which rather speaks volumes about all the diplomacy put in to getting one.

Curiously, I came upon an archived report from more than a year back in The Observer, a British sunday broadsheet, at: http://www.observer.co.uk/international/story/0,6903,610461,00.html which refers explicitly to a "secret US plan for Iraq war" and says, "Opposition by Blair and French President Jacques Chirac may not be enough to dissuade Americans."

Posted by: Bob Briant on March 16, 2003 04:24 AM

Somebody mentioned Serbia here and the war on Serbia. Let's get a few things straight. First of all, NATO's war against Serbia didn't overthrow Milosevic. The people of Serbia did. And they only did it when Milosevic tried to rig the results of an election where he lost. Which, btw, is quite irnoic, isn't it? How many people took to the streets in the US when Bush jr was installed as president even though he lost? I guess the thing about examples is that you want to be careful which example you want to pick to prove your point. Certainly, Serbia is a very bad example. And quite an emberrassing one, too, for those very same people in Washington who now claim they're fighting for democracy.
Second thing. There's talk of a "liberal elite". I've spent quite some time in this country now and, frankly, I can't find that liberal elite. Where is it? Is it hiding under somebody's bed? All I see is a ultra-conservative elite which is hammering their point of view into the heads of people, using media which I find somewhat hard to describe as "free". The kind of treatment opponents of the war get these days reminds me of how people were treating each other in the last days of the Weiman Republic. Quite coincidentally, in those days, the media (nespapers and radio) were also dominated by radicals who'd only shout down their opponents. It's not to farfetched to compare Murdoch and his "news" channels to Hugenberg and his "newspapers".
Where's the America gone where "Freedom of Speech" is highly valued? Believe it or not, that's the America which is highly admired in the world. It certainly doesn't look like Freedom of Speech to me when, for example, one of the Dixie Chicks dares to say something against Bush jr and now they're struggling to save their careers because they're being boycotted. If you think boycotting people with different opinions (need I mention the French, the new archenemy?) is a democratic thing to do then, I think, you might want to go back to school and re-learn what democracy is all about. In particular, study that Weimar Republic example to see some stunning/scary similarities.
And, btw, to go back in history and, each and every time war is being waged against somebody, to use that Pearl Harbour/1941/Hitler example is also a complete folly. Bush jr isn't Churchill. You can repeat it as often as you want but there couldn't be any two people more different than those two people. And turning your current adversay into Adolf Hitler also is no way to think about the world. Learning from history does not mean to think in those very simplistic black-and-white terms. In particular, it'd be worthwile to go back in history and to look at the Nuremberg Trials and at the development of International Law after WWII. The same international law which now is going to be ignored was set up by the Western democracies (incl. the US) to prevent wars from happening. And we're not talking about defensive wars. We're talking about preventive or aggressive wars like the one we're about to witness. There's a good reason why in a democracy we don't just ignore the law even if it turns out to be too clumsy or too inflexible for our purposes. What we do is we try to improve it. There is a reason why any democratic society doesn't tolerate lynching. This upcoming war is the equivalent of lynching. It has all the ingredients of a good old lynching case, including the lynch mob, the "evil doer", and the angry crowd who's going to take the law into their own hands.

Posted by: JMC on March 16, 2003 05:22 AM

"Since the Vietnam debacle, liberals have felt a deep sense of alienation from this country, its people, its history and its ideals. In their desperation they grasp at straws, even to the extent of making common cause with Islamic fascism."

Joe, I respectfully request that you go to the library and check out and read Walter Russell Mead's book Special Providence. American liberals are not alienated from our country, nor have they been since its founding, they just cling to a different set of American values than you. I could just as easily say it's conservatives that hate America as there are all sorts of examples of today's prominent Republican politicians undermining American values-- the important ones in my book. I don't think a list here is necessary as many examples have been well cited on these pages already.

Your comment is no better than name-calling and it's getting us nowhere.

Posted by: Dennis Slough on March 16, 2003 06:07 AM

Serious question:

If no WMDs (or very few) are found in Iraq post-war, is Bush a war criminal? Can/Should he be offered up for trial in the Hague for waging offensive war on a false pretext?

Most people and newspapers refer to the upcoming war as "preemptive" But I compare Israel's actions in the 6-day war, when they KNEW that an attack was coming IMMINENTLY, and attacked the military forces massed against them, to our upcoming actions. I cannot apply the word "preemption" to both situations. At best, our actions are "preventive", not "preemptive".

But if you act preventively and are later shown to be wrong, how is that different from a war of aggression? Is there an analogy to criminal law in the use of self-defense? If you shoot a guy thinking he's drawing his own gun, and in fact he was reaching for his wallet, your claim of imperfect self-defense will be based on the reasonableness of your conduct.

I believe that, if no WMDs are found, Bush should stand trial for war crimes. He can then put on testimony about the reasonableness of his belief that WMDs were there, and we can learn about how the CIA got suckered on the false documents regarding uranium importation from Niger.

Flame away.

Posted by: FDL on March 16, 2003 07:46 AM

It is deeply ironic that the poster who erroneously claimed:

"...when Bush jr was installed as president even though he lost", later bemoans:

" Learning from history does not mean to think in those very simplistic black-and-white terms...."

And also: "There's talk of a "liberal elite". I've spent quite some time in this country now and, frankly, I can't find that liberal elite."

When it has just been demonstrated that some of them were recently patting each other on the back at a cafe in Berkeley.

BTW, the 1st amendment protects the right TO speak and publish. Nothing more. It does not protect morons from suffering the slings and arrows from their intellectual superiors. Though it is highly amusing to find Berkeley professors operating at the same level as Dizzy Chicks.

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on March 16, 2003 09:36 AM

" Interlocutor: Agreed, he has shown very bad judgment in starting his ten-year war with Iran (albeit he did that, I believe, with our blessing)...."

Some high quality poli sci prof he, that didn't correct this inanity. Haven't read the book by the man who would never lie to us, "Keeping Faith"? Because that guy blames the beginning of the Iran-Iraq war with queering a deal that would have freed the hostages in plenty of time for him to have been re-elected president.

And let's not forget that Saddam's "very bad judgment" wouldn't have been possible had not the same president pulled the rug out from under the Shah of Iran (against the advice of his National Security Adviser). Hundreds of thousands of people died violent deaths because of the foreign policy actions of the latest Nobel Peace prize winner.

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on March 16, 2003 09:47 AM

Compassionate conservatives make me ever more of a Democrat. Carry on.

Posted by: bill on March 16, 2003 10:05 AM

Patrick Sullivan is another of those amusing people I am going to have to start making more fun of. So the liberal elite meet to conspire against the world in Berkeley cafes? Forgive me for thinking that these folks would be much more of a threat (and would truly deserve the label _elites_) to American values if they met to conspire in corporate board rooms or in the offices of Capitol Hill or the West Wing. Didn't Brad assert somewhere that the maximum influence he had on Clinton while he was in Treasury extended to a single handshake and greeting?

For some reason, these liberal elites who are so much of a threat to the world (e.g. Larry Summers, Bob Rubin, the World Bank and IMF hierarchy) also happen to inspire the fear and loathing of the _truly elite_ anti-globalization crowd, which coincidentally hates the guts of people like Sullivan.

These liberal elites also show what a threat they are if one is stupid enough to allow them to run foreign policy. Carter, ignoring Brzezinski's advice, decided to pull the plug on the Shah, so that the Shah's police could no longer torture and murder so many left-wing and muslim activists. How sad. (Personally, I think that this act alone more than earned Carter his Peace Price). I guess the rule of Khomeini and the Ayatollahs was a consequence of Carter's stupid decision, rather than being a consequence of something as trivial at twenty five years of the Shah's repressive rule.

Also, I underestimated Sullivan as an apologist for Saddam Hussein, or at least that's what I understand given that he blames Hussein's attack of Iraq (and the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iranians and Iraqis) on Carter rather than on Hussein himself.

There are moments when I hate liberal elites myself, but unfortunately I never find them as laughable as I find people like Sullivan.

Posted by: andres on March 16, 2003 10:41 AM

I have seen no more succinct statement about the effect of the Bush policy regarding WMDs on the US than the column by James Gordon Prather posted on wnd.com yesterday. Essentially, the result is a loss of options for and an increase in strategic risk to the US. Prather writes:

"How about a North Korean nuke?
ElBaradei has warned that unless the Security Council forces Kim Jong-Il to allow IAEA inspectors to resume monitoring the operation of Korean plutonium-producing facilities by June Kim will have separated enough weapons-grade plutonium to make 6 to 10 nukes. Even if Kim can't make nukes, himself, he can and probably will sell that plutonium to the highest bidder.
What are we to do? Get the Security Council to hold our Colt-45 to Kim's head while the IAEA checks out and secures suspected facilities?
Well, unfortunately, if we ignore the IAEA findings and invade Iraq anyway, we may never get the Security Council to hold a gun to anyone's head on our behalf ever again.
So, we'll have to bribe Kim or attack North Korea, and the sooner the better."

Posted by: Joerg Wenck on March 16, 2003 10:43 AM

How popular was the war in Germany prior to WWII? Pretty popular, I assume.

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Stijns on March 16, 2003 11:19 AM

Prior to WWI, Germans marched off to the battles to come to the resounding cheers of parents and fellows and carrying "Zarathrustra" in packs. Imagine, even Freud was elated for a time....

Posted by: rm on March 16, 2003 11:27 AM

I'm sure andres will be surprised that he generates some amusement too. But unlike andres's mine comes from that which he actually writes, not from a strawman I create about him.

Where did I say the liberal elite at that Berkeley cafe were meeting to "conspire against the world"?

Where did I say, they were a "threat to the world"?

I was just pointing a rather addled poster in the direction he needed. Somebody have a guilty conscience?

BTW, about the first thing that happened in the Ayatollah's Iran was to stand people up against walls and shoot them. Peace prizes are the reward for making that possible?

And does andres really think Saddam would have entertained attacking the Shah's Iran? He couldn't even defeat the purged Iranian military.

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on March 16, 2003 12:11 PM

"Bush jr isn't Churchill. You can repeat it as often as you want but there couldn't be any two people more different than those two people."

I wonder if the usual suspects will be as amused as I to find out that Churchill's grandson believes directly the opposite of the above;

http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110003205

" Like President Reagan before him, George W. Bush has what my grandfather would have called 'the root of the matter' in him. He is able to discern the most important issues of the day and to stand firm by his beliefs. Likewise Tony Blair."

Other comments from Mr. Churchill, all supporting my side, are:

-----------quote-----------

It was my grandfather, Winston Churchill, who invented Iraq and laid the foundation for much of the modern Middle East. .... Eighty years later, it falls to us to liberate Iraq from the scourge of one of the most ruthless dictators in history. As we stand poised on the brink of war, my grandfather's experience has lessons for us.

The parallels between Saddam Hussein's repeated flouting of U.N. resolutions--17 over the past 12 years--calls to mind the impotence of the U.N. forerunner, the League of Nations. In the 1930s, the victors of the First World War--Britain, France and the U.S.--fecklessly allowed the League of Nations' resolutions to be flouted. This was done first by the Japanese, who invaded Manchuria, then by the Italian dictator Mussolini's invasion of Ethiopia and, most gravely, by Nazi Germany.

Had the Allies held firm and shown the same resolve to uphold the rule of law among nations that President Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair are demonstrating today, there is little doubt that World War II, with all its horrors, could have been avoided. Indeed it was for that reason that Churchill called World War II the "Unnecessary War." Tragically, the same sickness that infected the League of Nations--a feebleness of spirit, an unwillingness to face the realities of the world we live in, and a determination to place corrupt self-interest before the common good--now afflicts the governments of France, Germany and Belgium.

[snip]

As President Bush and Mr. Blair intend today in the case of Iraq, Winston Churchill in 1948 favored the threat--and if need be the reality--of a pre-emptive strike to safeguard the interests of the Free World. Aware of the dangers ahead, Churchill believed that the U.S.--while it still had a monopoly of atomic power--should require the Soviet Union to abandon the development of these weapons, if need be by threatening their use.

The Truman administration chose not to heed his advice. The result was the Cold War, in the course of which the world--on more than one occasion--came perilously close to a nuclear holocaust.

It is no great surprise that the nations which long toiled under the yoke of communism during the Cold War are our greatest supporters today. Unlike the French, Germans and Belgians, the East Europeans have not forgotten the debt of gratitude they owe to the United States [snip]

Mr. Chirac and Gerhard Schroeder, in urging delay, know full well that if the impending attack is not launched in the next two to three weeks, it cannot, realistically, take place until the end of the year, granting Saddam an eight-month reprieve. In whose interest would that be, I wonder? No doubt they imagine that, by their delaying tactics, they can save Saddam's bacon and with it their own arms-for-oil contracts. But I have news for these two shabby peace-mongers who know no shame: By their failure to join in the coalition of the willing--indeed, by their deliberate attempts to frustrate the removal of Saddam--they will forfeit both their arms contracts and their Iraqi oil. And it could not happen to nicer people!

------------endquote------------

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on March 16, 2003 12:40 PM

As a spanish citizen, I do not forget that the USA had been the staunchest ally of a dictator who was worse to Spain --his country-- than Mussolini to Italy. That Aznar, himself a fascist in his youth, and member of a well-connected family during the dictatorship is abjectly grateful to Bush is no surprise.

By the way, what will you do when the dictator of Pakistan falls to an integrist rebellion allowing al Qaeda access to nuclear weapons? and medium range missiles....

And remember we don't forget the Maine.
DSW

Posted by: Antoni Jaume on March 16, 2003 01:58 PM

" Interlocutor: Agreed, he has shown very bad judgment in starting his ten-year war with Iran (albeit he did that, I believe, with our blessing)...."

If memory serves, that is incorrect. We didn't give any support to Iraq until several years later, when it looked like Iran might win the war and dominate the Gulf.

"Economics Professor: And if he really is an undeterable madman, a guy who is itching to embark once again on a career of terror and conquest, telling him that you are coming after him with probability one--but only in a year--is not a good plan. It gives him lots of time to think outside the box, lots of time to prepare nasty surprises, lots of time to preposition barrels full of nerve agents in warehouses in Georgetown, or even lots of time to rent lots of trucks to carry fertilizer in U-Haul depots across the United States..."

A side effect of the renewed inspections was that Saddam had to keep his WMD hidden away, which makes them hard to deploy. And covert forces inside the USA require considerable trust in the loyalty and judgment of the men controlling them.

Posted by: Bill Woods on March 16, 2003 03:11 PM

> It's certainly true that we used to chronicle
> and theorize about the construction of
> institutions of conflict management and
> international governance.

Who needs this psycho-babble now that we have Paul Collier in the World Bank doing solid quantitative research on incidence and duration of conflict?

...Last year, I wrote a short paper (http://ncbase.com/papers/DoD-Senate.pdf ) on the inverse relationship between state's size and per capita defense spending in that state. The university with which I am loosely affiliated has a small (and normally very friendly and helpful) office created to assist faculty members in publishing their writings. I send the paper in, but the person who runs the office happens to be trained in political science, so all I get in response is a very polite message saying essentially "do you really think you have the background to reason of such matters?"

Posted by: Nikolai Chuvakhin on March 16, 2003 05:51 PM

>>BTW, about the first thing that happened in the Ayatollah's Iran was to stand people up against walls and shoot them. Peace prizes are the reward for making that possible?

And does andres really think Saddam would have entertained attacking the Shah's Iran? He couldn't even defeat the purged Iranian military.<<

Sigh. The problem with history is that it's never really settled, and every numbsk, err, analyst tries to add his own spin to it in a manner that is often laughable. Thus, the Germans lost WWI because their brave soldiers were stabbed in the back by treacherous pacifists and social democrats. This story was replayed here in Vietnam and is now being played back, if Sullivan's last post is any indication.

As to the Iran question, here's what I have read. Before 1979, there was a dictatorship in Iran which tortured and shot people. After 1979, there was also a dictatorship which tortured and shot people. But thanks to Carter, it was no longer being aided and abetted by the U.S. (at least, not until a few of the Reagan people decided to sell weapons to Iran), for which I'm thankful.

And everything I have read indicates that Hussein would have had an easier time attacking the Shah's Iran, though that would have been moot since he attacked Iran because he hated the new Shiite theocracy that Khomeini was busy installing. Do you really think that Iranian soldiers would have fought as ferociously as they did to defend the Shah, who by 1979 was thoroughly hated by most Iranians? The reason that the Iraqui army (which wasn't really well motivated to begin with) encountered such opposition was because most Iranians thought Hussein would install a regime which was as bad or worse than the Shah, and so they fought the invaders almost fanatically, which more than made up for their inexperience.

Accept it: in spite of failures in other areas, Carter has been the only U.S. president since Truman who had a half-decent policy towards Iran. To blame him for the disaster of the Iran-Iraq war reads to me very much like sour grapes. But then again, after the neverending efforts to blame even bad crop cycles on Clinton, I am not at all surprised.

Posted by: andres on March 16, 2003 09:48 PM

In response to Nikolai.... dismissing non quantitative research as "psycho-babble" while treating statistical studies as "solid quantitative research" is patently unfair.

Most statistical studies I've seen in IR (consider the "democratic peace" quagmire) are plagued by enormous definitional problems that make their results either unreliable, tautological or difficult to generalize. The datasets can also be highly arbitrary (and how many people rely on the Correlates of War dataset without knowing the details of the conflicts described in it???). Was Spain a democracy in 1898? Germany in 1914?

Or consider the work of Collier you cite above as an examplar for the field:

http://www.worldbank.org/research/conflict/papers/cw-cause.pdf

Some casual observations: his definition of "civil war" automatically eliminates low-intensity conflicts while basically restricting his sample to African wars during the Cold War (1960-1992). This eliminates most of the large and significant civil wars in the 20th century and I suspect biases his conclusions. Maybe this is a good model for African proxy wars fought during these 30 years, but it seems very weak grounds for a broader argument about how rebels are "utility maximizers" in material terms.

Incidentally, I really don't mean this as criticism of Collier or quantitative research so much as a caveat against privileging this type of research simply because it offers a beta value and an R^2.

Posted by: david on March 17, 2003 04:47 AM

Goran Prather is a nuclear physicist with a regular commentary on the Weapons of Mass Destruction angle. His columns http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/archives.asp?AUTHOR_ID=35 are more factual than regular tabloids and may provide a different perspective.

Posted by: LL on March 17, 2003 04:49 AM

I take it andres is no longer amused. But that hasn't stopped him from sticking with the strawman fallacy (i.e. WWI and Vietnam have been mixed in).

I note this almost perfect example of indulging one's moral vanity:

" Before 1979, there was a dictatorship in Iran which tortured and shot people. After 1979, there was also a dictatorship which tortured and shot people. But thanks to Carter, it was no longer being aided and abetted by the U.S."

What matters is that the U.S. doesn't get its dainty hands soiled! No matter that hundreds of thousands died violent deaths in the Iran-Iraq war; small price to pay for our self-esteem.

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on March 17, 2003 07:04 AM

Hey, Patrick, do you have a response to andres' point? Or are you reduced to simple, meaningless insults?

You tried to blame Carter for both Khomeini's internal purges and for the Iraq-Iran war. andres' evidence 100% refutes your claims. Unless you can marshal evidence to counter what andres has presented, YOU LOST. YOU ARE WRONG.

Grow up and take it like a freaking man.

PS - Country radio listeners are the "intellectual superiors" to the Dixie Chicks? What?

Posted by: JRoth on March 17, 2003 07:47 AM

It take the particular idiocy of the tenured academic to make pompous commentary regarding the strategic timing of military action without regard to the trivial details known as logistics, and it takes another tenured academic to reproduce bar talk (actually, it doen't even meet that meausure unless the proper libations are served) as if it were more than that.

Posted by: Will Allen on March 17, 2003 10:17 AM

And Mr. Will Allen thinks he can lecture people on "ad hominem attacks"...

Definition:
A fallacy in which attention is directed to the individual who has made a statement rather than to the statement itself.
[Chapters 4, 11]
http://glossary.harcourtcollege.com/glossary.asp?gid=78

Example:
It take the particular ***idiocy of the tenured academic to make pompous commentary*** regarding the strategic timing of military action without regard to the trivial details known as logistics, and it takes ***another tenured academic to reproduce bar talk (actually, it doen't even meet that meausure unless the proper libations are served) as if it were more than that.***

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Stijns on March 17, 2003 11:24 AM

Well, Jean-Philippe, it IS idiotic to speak of the strategic timing of military action without reference to logistics, and it is a particular failing of tenured academics to adopt the conceit of expertise in areas in which they have very little. Do you really need to be provided glaring examples of this? Of course, all of us, from time to time, spout off about matters, in a casual setting, without careful consideration. One usually doesn't reproduce such trivial tidbits as anything of import, however, by referencing the academic credentials of the participants. Truly, the bartender's remarks carry as much weight.

Now, In contrast, using language which conflates the incarceration of several hundred men captured during armed conflict (with good medical care and sufficient caloric provisions to maintain weight, or even gain weight) with a continental-wide, systemic, deliberate, incarceration of millions of civilians for purposes of totalitarian control, in conditions that led to the death of millions, either directly, or through starvation and overwork in slave camps, is a deliberate attempt to obscure the truth, via the use of dishonest rhetoric. Are you truly unable to discern the difference, or do you need further explanation?

Posted by: Will Allen on March 17, 2003 12:13 PM

I think I do Will.

But I will not persue the matter any further with someone I think is (becoming?) a not-so-closet fascist. Even serial child rapers have more rights than detainees at Guantamalo Bay but that couldn't bother you less.

They can be sleep deprived to suicide, so long as they're fed (or at least that you're told so by the Army), the US is the most decent country in the world, and George W. Bush is its Leader. 'Arbeit macht frei' for them?

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Stijns on March 17, 2003 01:08 PM

Now Jean Philippe uses language which conflates the treatment of several hundred men captured during armed conflict with deliberate slaughter of millions, due to their religious beliefs. He then calls me a fascist, because I note the utter dishonesty of conflating Guantanamo with Stalin's gulag system. It is an utter insult to the memories of the millions of wholly innocent slaughtered by Hitler and Stalin that their experience would be conflated with the prisoners at Guantanamo, and that you would label me a fascist for calling you on it indicates the depth to which you are willing to sink in pursuit of your politics. It really is pointless to engage in dialogue with you, for you have proven to be wholly unwilling to employ language that even begins to adhere to any degree of intellectual honesty. Tell ya' what; I will ignore your posts in the future, and you can feel free to ignore mine.

Posted by: Will Allen on March 17, 2003 01:40 PM

For the interested reader (and there are some, I hope), I donnot use the word 'fascit' lightly. I did mean its use: I am really concerned about the rise of a new form of sophisticated neo-fascism in America. The complete and voluntary ignorance of the detention conditions of Afghan war prisoners is only one example.

There are many many troubling things going on in the USA as any informed reader surely knows. Is the extent of this to be compared yet with the Holocaust? Of course, thank God, NOT! But it is my most sincere and concerned opinion that there is a growing intellectual current in this country that, in nature, is looking increasingly akin to some historical forms of fascism.

It should the heart-felt duty of any friend of freedom to wage the strongest non-violent intellectual opposition to this intellectual current. Maybe I am being culture-challenged, but coming from oh-so-old Europe, I am not used to read so much thinly-vailed racist and undemocratic statements as I have been reading on this oh-so-liberal blog.

And if you see what I mean, you know who I have in mind... And it wouldn't be such a concern to me if these comments were isolated and out of phase with national politics discussion in some influencial circles. And by all means, people, do not be fooled by the polite or pseudo-sophisticated style adopted by some of the proponents of these worrisome ideas.

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Stijns on March 17, 2003 02:30 PM

Yeah sure, popular entertainers feel free to hurl all matter of invective at the President of the United States (as is their right, or course), but neo-fascism is on the rise! Charge the barriers!

Listen, if you wish to educate people regarding Guantanamo, and protest conditions there, go right ahead. When you dishonestly employ language, however, such as "gulag" or "Arbeit Macht Frei", in an attempt to conflate the conditions of several hundred men captured in armed conflict, with the deliberate slaughter of millions of civilians due to their religious and political beliefs, you do grave disservice to the victims of the gulags and the Holocaust. It really is beneath contempt, and it cheapens language and dialogue. If you don't think the situations are at all similar, then don't use language that suggests otherwise.

Posted by: Will Allen on March 17, 2003 02:50 PM

Jean-Philippe, how would you describe the behavior of the countries in this Boston Globe story?:

http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/074/oped/_Old_Europe_and_Sudan_s_jihad+.sh
tml

From which:

---------quote----------

THE LANGUAGE of human rights flows smoothly from the lips of the leaders of
France and Germany. But continuing Franco-German hegemony in Europe is bad
news for human rights, especially for victims whose oppressors are European
Union partners. Take, for example, the victims of the Sudanese government's
genocidal jihad. ....

For the past 20 years, the regime in Khartoum has bombed, starved, and
enslaved black Southern Sudanese with impunity in an effort to subject them
to Islamic rule. As a result, over two million black non-Muslims have
perished. A further five million have been driven off their land.

Sudanese slaves -- mainly women and children -- are routinely beaten, raped,
genitally mutilated, forced to convert to Islam and racially abused. The
scale of this ''crime against humanity'' -- as slavery is identified in
international law -- is enormous. Credible estimates of the number of
Sudan's slaves range from tens of thousands to over 200,000.

For years, these atrocities were largely ignored by the international
community. Only in the mid-1990s did the Clinton administration finally wake
up to mounting evidence of Khartoum's sponsorship of international and
domestic terrorism. The response was robust. The US government declared
Sudan to be a terrorist state. It sponsored strong resolutions at the UN
Commission for Human Rights condemning Khartoum for slavery and a host of
other crimes. Strict US economic sanctions were imposed.

What did the Franco-German duo do? It led the EU in the opposite direction.
France provided Khartoum with military intelligence for the prosecution of
the jihad, while French and German helicopters have been used for ethnic
cleansing in southern Sudan's oil fields. Driving black, non-Muslims out of
their homes creates greater security for the investments of oil firms like
Total Fina (France/Belgium) ....
-------endquote------

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on March 17, 2003 02:58 PM

PRS

I am not absolutely sure of the context, but have you heard of Carlos? Demonstrate that the USA, had they only at their command the ressources of France , and a false friend with the relative proportion of the USA at their back, would have done differently.

I do know that inasmuch a dictator knew how to say "they are communists", the USA gave them absolute freedom to kill any number of people they find convenient.

DSW

Posted by: Antoni Jaume on March 17, 2003 03:55 PM

*If you don't think the situations are at all similar, then don't use language that suggests otherwise.*

The point is precisely that I don't think that the situations are suffincently different to seperate the issues. It is precisely because of my level of despise for gulags, the Holocaust, and similar crimes against humanity that I am ready to raise my voice against any attempt to embark us on a journey, however caculately slow the pace, in that direction.

Ever heard of "Patriot II"?
http://www.cnn.com/2003/LAW/03/06/findlaw.analysis.mariner.patriotII/

How comes officials even contemplate this kind of police state regime in THIS country OF ALL? What kind of madness is infecting this country's circles of power? Did you take a look at the original logo for the Total Information Awareness program? If you're so worried about fascism yourself, it should shrils down your spine, or does it?

Will humanity ever learn? Or are we bound to endlessly commit the same grave mistakes?

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Stijns on March 17, 2003 06:06 PM

"Jean-Philippe, how would you describe the behavior of the countries in this Boston Globe story?:[...]"

Similar to that of the US in countless countries. I would be more than happy to see things like that put to an end, using military intervention *if needed*. You see, I am neither a pacificist sensu stricto nor in the business of defending whatever the European Union is into.

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Stijns on March 17, 2003 06:18 PM

"It is no great surprise that the nations which long toiled under the yoke of communism during the Cold War are our greatest supporters today. Unlike the French, Germans and Belgians, the East Europeans have not forgotten the debt of gratitude they owe to the United States [snip]"

Here: http://www.rferl.org/nca/features/2003/02/07022003192525.asp

"A Gallup International poll conducted in January in 41 countries showed that in only one of the "Vilnius 10" countries was a majority of the population in favor of the country's support for military action against Iraq. In Romania, 45 percent said they were in favor, compared with 38 percent saying they did not support such action.

Public support for such involvement among the "Vilnius 10" group of countries was lowest in Macedonia, with 10 percent; Bulgaria, with 21 percent; and Estonia, with 30 percent.

Other recent polls show that in Latvia, 74 percent oppose toppling the Iraqi regime using military force. Only 20 percent of respondents in Latvia backed military action.

In the case of NATO members Hungary and the Czech Republic, public opinion is also strongly opposed to war. Polls show that 82 percent of Hungarians and 67 percent of Czechs are opposed to military action against Iraq under any circumstances.

In Poland, a local survey showed 63 percent of Poles opposed sending troops against Iraq, but 52 percent thought Warsaw should back the United States politically in any military action."

That line about victims of communist dictatorships supporting the US against another dictatorship because they know what it's like is just too good to check, apparently.

Posted by: Jason McCullough on March 18, 2003 01:56 AM

Wow, Jean-Philippe, you're really tough. I merely ascribe monstrous selfishness and ingratitude to those countries, but you believe:

"...that there is a growing intellectual current in [France, Germany, and Belgium]that, in nature, is looking increasingly akin to some historical forms of fascism" ?

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on March 18, 2003 07:42 AM

" Will humanity ever learn? Or are we bound to endlessly commit the same grave mistakes?"

Well, some have learned the lessons of 1936-1938.

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on March 18, 2003 07:55 AM

//
Wow, Jean-Philippe, you're really tough. I merely ascribe monstrous selfishness and ingratitude to those countries, but you believe:

"...that there is a growing intellectual current in [France, Germany, and Belgium]that, in nature, is looking increasingly akin to some historical forms of fascism" ?
Posted by Patrick R. Sullivan at March 18, 2003 07:42 AM
//

Yes, it is those fools that believe the Bush adminstritation is up to do something good. Only fascists can believe that. That is why Aznar is so friendly with Bush.

//
" Will humanity ever learn? Or are we bound to endlessly commit the same grave mistakes?"

Well, some have learned the lessons of 1936-1938.
Posted by Patrick R. Sullivan at March 18, 2003 07:55 AM
//

Do not trust the USA. Good people there do not govern. The USA did not fight the nazi Germany to help those fools that governs the Rumsfeld's "new Europe". It only entered in war when Hitler was badly counselled that since Japan, his ally, was at war with the USA these would go to war against him. Fact is only a minority, with Roosevelt at his head fortunately, favored such issue. A lot of yours industrialists were very happy to sell to Hitler.

DSW

Posted by: Antoni Jaume on March 18, 2003 10:52 AM

More (unintentionally) ironic passages:

>>Well, some have learned the lessons of 1936-1938.>Well, Jean-Philippe, it IS idiotic to speak of the strategic timing of military action without reference to logistics, and it is a particular failing of tenured academics to adopt the conceit of expertise in areas in which they have very little. Do you really need to be provided glaring examples of this? Of course, all of us, from time to time, spout off about matters, in a casual setting, without careful consideration. One usually doesn't reproduce such trivial tidbits as anything of import, however, by referencing the academic credentials of the participants.<<

If instead of "tenured academic" one substitutes in "heretic", in the above passage, we get a much clearer and refreshing picture of the medieval Catholic spirit of the above passage. You haven't been in the military? Then don't spout off about military matters. You haven't studied economics? Then don't complain about the way the world economy is being run (Brad has fallen into this trap on occasion). And for god's sake, leave government policy to those who have been appointed to run it for you.

Of course, no one on this blog has tried to advertise his or her academic credentials in order to identify the superiority of their opinion. Which indicates something not quite kosher about the way Mr. Allen dwells on the term "tenured academics" as a label of abuse. Might I point out that it's too bad that the terms "Jew" and "Nigger" have gone out of style?

Posted by: andres on March 18, 2003 11:47 AM

The first part of the above post should have read as follows:

>>Well, some have learned the lessons of 1936-1938.<<

Really? It may be the case that 1936-1938 is being repeated, but I get this uncomfortable feeling that we are now on the other side of that experience. Good luck, Mr. Sullivan...

Posted by: andres on March 18, 2003 11:50 AM

I don't know whether this will be seen, but since Andres has resorted to the last refuge of the intellectually dishonest, with the baseless accusation of bigotry, I'll respond. Andres, since you seem to have a severe reading comprehension problem, I'll ask you to read v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y. I never said that one had to have military experience to comment on military matters, I said that it was idiotic to comment on military matters, particularly the strategic timing of military action, without reference to logistics. Are you simply unable to read, or do you always distort the words of others, for moronic rhetorical purposes? Furthermore, since the quality of the commentary was on par with what one could hear in any saloon in the world, the professional positions of the commentators has no importance.

Posted by: Will Allen on March 20, 2003 10:14 AM

[Cross-posted from the later thread on politeness]:

Will, if you are not a bigot (and find being compared to one offensive), my apologies.

But please realize this: you are very far from being the only person I have read who has used the words "intellectual" or "academic" as epithets of abuse, and it is a habit I have resolved not to tolerate in anyone. There is nothing about having an advanced academic degree which makes people believe they are experts in matters outside of their fields: they just post their opinions on these matters because first, it's something that they have a right to do, and second, because opinions can both teach others and also induce others to correct your own mistakes. If people giving opinions on subjects outside their area of expertise (and making inevitable mistakes as a result) is something that you find highly irritating, then my guess is that participating in forums such as this will be bad for your overall outlook.

In the original discussion a few threads back, all you had to do was point out the flaws in the previous poster's reasoning about military logistics. However, you trotted out the term "tenured academic" as if you equated such a person either to a low grade moron or to a second-rate fraud--some tenured academics are, but no more than the average for the population. For such an overreaction, you cannot exempt yourself from some of the blame for what follows.

Posted by: andres on March 20, 2003 12:57 PM

It appears Saddam didn't have WMDs. How many people who supported the war on that basis have now said it was wrong & how many have just found a new reason to support it?

Posted by: Neil Craig on October 12, 2003 12:08 PM
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