March 18, 2003

Josh Marshall Parses SC 1441

Josh Marshall does an excellent job parsing the meaning of Security Council Resolution 1441.

But as somebody-or-other once said, the great issues of the day will be decided not by speeches and majority votes, but by blood and iron.


Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall: ...When historians get around to trying to explain the last six months (i.e., how we got from resolution 1441 to the breakdown of the UN process and war) I don't think they will chalk much of this up to anyone 'losing their will.' I think the truth is more prosaic and straightforward. Yes, everyone voted in favor of 1441. But... France, Russia and most of the rest of the countries on the Security Council thought they were signing on to a juiced-up version of inspections, basically like what we had until the old system broke down in 1998. That would mean a relatively open-ended process in which inspectors went into Iraq and searched around at will. If they found stuff it would be destroyed. If they obstructed the inspections, then the UN might sanction forcing the issue by authorizing an attack.

You might say that this is a lily-livered approach, or bad policy. But I think it's clearly what they thought were signing on to....

[O]ne thing you do when the plain text isn't itself dispositive is to look back at what amounts to the legislative record: that is, what the diplomats at the Security Council said at the time.

On this point I think one thing is extremely clear. The key point of the contention was this matter of 'automaticity.' The Council was willing to sign on to demanding compliance but only if it was in charge of deciding what constituted compliance and non-compliance.

Basically, they were only willing to do it if they got another bite at the apple and got an opportunity to interpret their own words. It wasn't going to be up to DC regime-change scribes to decide what was a 'material breach'. It was going to be up to France, Russia et.al.

Maybe that's lame. But that's what they signed on to. If they 'lacked will,' they made it pretty clear up front....

[T]he wording which the other countries demanded and received was wording which they believed put them in charge of deciding when or if there would be war. At the time, Ireland's Ambassdor to the UN said the word changes kept "the hands of the council members as a whole on the steering wheel of the resolution in the future. It's of enormous significance."

The problem for the United States is that we pretty clearly went on the record validating this other interpretation. Here's what America's UN Representative John Negroponte said at the UN on the day the resolution passed ...

There's no 'automaticity' and this is a two-stage process, and in that regard we have met the principal concerns that have been expressed for the resolution. Whatever violation there is, or is judged to exist, will be dealt with in the council, and the council will have an opportunity to consider the matter before any other action is taken.

What he was saying there was that 1441 was not self-enforcing. Its language and what counted as an infraction was to be decided by the Security Council. This was the price we paid for getting for getting the unanimous vote.

What this means pretty clearly is that we cannot claim that Resolution 1441 gives us any basis for doing what we're about to do. The White House has sort of had it both ways on this -- on the one hand saying we're bagging the UN process and on the other saying 1441 gives us sanction. Clearly, it doesn't give us sanction since at the very least the expressed understanding of 1441 at the time was that only the Security Council could judge when 1441 had been be violated.

The US can decide the Council wasn't serious and forget about the Council. That's entirely legitimate -- though, I think, bad policy. But it shouldn't pretend that it has any shelter under 1441 since the plain facts of the matter show that it doesn't.

Here, though, we get to the bigger point. Setting aside enforcement, what was being signed on to? As I say, I think the others countries thought they were signing on to old-fashioned inspections, or some jazzed-up version of them.

Did we have a different understanding?

This point is more speculative. But I don't think we did. I don't think the administration really had a particular understanding at all. I think what happened is that they got muscled into going to the UN (largely by domestic political pressure -- little-noticed polls showed the president's foreign policy numbers dipping hard late last summer). Then once they got to the UN they could only get their resolution by agreeing to what was outlined in 1441. But pretty much immediately they decided that they'd paid far too high a price to get their resolution and tried to wriggle out of it.

The rest of the Council didn't like being wriggled. And that's how we got where we are. They felt like they'd been played. And, to a real degree, they had.

-- Josh Marshall


To tell your allies that your word as a nation is not good--that agreements won't mean what you said they meant if you find it convenient to pretend otherwise--is extremely dangerous. It changes international relations from a search for mutual benefit into a struggle for power, and may have very bad implications for the long run.

Posted by DeLong at March 18, 2003 09:44 AM | TrackBack

Comments

"To tell your allies that your word as a nation is not good--that agreements won't mean what you said they meant if you find it convenient to pretend otherwise--is extremely dangerous. It changes international relations from a search for mutual benefit into a struggle for power, and may have very bad implications for the long run."

Powerful and frightening statement.

Posted by: jd on March 18, 2003 10:30 AM

Look at the bright side: western Europe may at last start to act as a united group of countries. In view of U.S. intransigence, I have serious doubts that Aznar and Berlusconi will survive the next round of elections. Even Blair could fall off his perch if the Bush adm. continues with its saber rattling. Tehran, anyone?

Posted by: andres on March 18, 2003 10:31 AM

"Blood and Iron." That would be Prussian (and later German) chancellor Otto von Bismark.

Posted by: Paul on March 18, 2003 10:41 AM

For me, this particular f*ckup was the final straw. I suppose it's possible that behind the scenes, some other countries made a commitment to support a second resolution and later backed out on it. But on the face of things, this looks extremely bad. Piled on top of the forged documents and all the unsubstantiated claims about WMD and links to al-Qaida, I've hit the point where I'll go and double-check if Bush tells me the sky is blue.

After this, I don't see how the Bush Administration can really complain about the Security Council going back on its word.

And I say all that as someone who's felt since the first Gulf War that Saddam needed to be forcibly removed from power.

I still believe that, but I can't believe that this Administration can do the job.

Posted by: Kevin Brennan on March 18, 2003 10:46 AM

I think Bush operates on the principle that it is easier to get forgiveness than get permission. Bush believes when all is said and done, the world will overlook his unilateral policies, because they need the US on other issues. The fallout probably will not hurt the administration directly, but the fallout will hurt American businesses because the lack of trust and playing by the rules will be shifted onto them.

Posted by: bakho on March 18, 2003 11:08 AM

In early November of last year, France specifically proposed amending the U.S. draft
of Res 1441 from:

" Decides that false statements or omissions in the declarations submitted by Iraq pursuant to this resolution and failure by Iraq at any time to comply with, and cooperate fully in the implementation of, this resolution shall constitute a further material breach of Iraq's obligations; "

to:

" Decides that false statements or omissions in the declarations submitted by Iraq pursuant to this resolution and failure by Iraq at any time to comply with, and cooperate fully in the implementation of, this resolution ( inserted WHEN ESTABLISHED BY THE SECURITY COUNCIL ) shall constitute a further material breach of Iraq's obligations; "

Ambassador Negreponte shot that down, bluntly.

To say "but that's what we meant", and "that's what the U.S. promised" would be a lot more persuasive if the U.S. hadn't explictly rejected that meaning and that promise.


Posted by: Melcher on March 18, 2003 11:16 AM

But then Negroponte said: "There's no 'automaticity' and this is a two-stage process, and in that regard we have met the principal concerns that have been expressed for the resolution. Whatever violation there is, or is judged to exist, will be dealt with in the council, and the council will have an opportunity to consider the matter before any other action is taken."

If that doesn't mean that the council will have to pass a second resolution, what does it mean?

Posted by: Kevin Brennan on March 18, 2003 11:26 AM

>But it shouldn't pretend that it has any shelter >under 1441 since the plain facts of the matter >show that it doesn't.

I'm not too sure about this - I guess the Alliance of the Willing will find some shelter under 1441 as the other parties in the game are now beginning to look the other way when Bush & Blair claim they are "being true to resolution 1441 while others walk away" - as Blair did explicitly in his reply to Robin Cook's resignation letter yesterday - thinking that it is better to have them claim to go to war under a disputed resolution 1441 than without any UNSC cover at all. Better for them as well as for the UN.

Posted by: Tobias on March 18, 2003 12:00 PM

Maybe it's all the fault of the perfidious Brits. Don MacIntyre in today's Independent, says "the British failed to bridge the gulf between old Europe and the US as they had sought to do. I can remember a senior British diplomat back in November pretending to do the splits to illustrate the difficulties of simultaneously persuading the French that if they accepted UN resolution 1441, a second would still be needed to sanction war, and the US that it wouldn't."

http://argument.independent.co.uk/regular_columnists/donald_macintyre/story.jsp?story=388235

Posted by: Andrew Brown on March 18, 2003 01:27 PM

The current administration frequently calls to mind the great Mary McCarthy line about Lillian Hellman: "Every word she writes is a lie, including 'and' and 'the'."

Posted by: richard on March 18, 2003 01:45 PM

Josh Marshall is once again proving that he doesn’t quite get it. The world will now have a greater respect for the United States. We are now entering a time when our relations with the majority of these nations will be greatly improved. Our recent tensions with France, Germany, and the other Old Europeans have nothing to do with honest differences. This folks simply wanted to crap all over us---and the Bush administration essentially told them to go to hell. People respect you when you refuse to back down to such pathetic idiots. Also, most of the European countries are behind the President. It is dishonest to ignore this fact. We are acting multilaterally.

Please note that the stock market is going up. I’ve been saying for a long time that our economy would not improve until the Iraq situation has been resolved. We should now undergo an economic boom. I forget the term that John Maynard Keynes employed, but the American people spirits (animal spirits?}will soar and the economy will be lifted by this greater sense of exultation.

I must admit, though, that my prediction that Saddam Hussein would leave Iraq willingly is not likely to pan out. Still, the war will be over with in the first seventy-two hours. Don’t be surprised if victory even takes place in the first eight hours!

Posted by: David Thomson on March 18, 2003 02:31 PM

That "perfidious Brits" stuff relates more closely to "New Labour" than to either the country as a whole or even the wider ethos of the Labour Party.

As for national credibility, Montaigne records that the Turks withdrew from a foothold in Italy since it had been obtained by deceit. They valued the intangible asset of their reputation even more highly - and these were the Turks of an era when they were at their most effectively atrocious. The USA has less of an opinion of the value of honour, knowingly or not.

Then again, most people in the wider world have lost confidence in US good will and competence over the last 40 years anyway - so, whether US politicians appreciate it or not, its reputation is already trading at a discount like any junk bond. For instance today's Turks discounted promises of financial assistance in return for co-operation, since they remember how much was actually delivered last time. Result (though with other contributing factors): no deal this time.

Posted by: P.M.Lawrence on March 18, 2003 02:36 PM

These types of fallacies will never be exposed by the American media. Consider the lie that Bush said to the American people in his press conference

"BUSH: And yes, we'll call for a vote.

QUESTION: No matter what?

BUSH: No matter what the whip count is, we're calling for the vote. We want to see people stand up and say what their opinion is about Saddam Hussein and the utility of the United Nations Security Council. And so, you bet. It's time for people to show their cards, let the world know where they stand when it comes to Saddam."

No one addresses this issue. God forbid he fool around with some woman and then lie about it, then the media would... Oh never mind, he is conservative. The media would still do nothing.

Posted by: Dan on March 18, 2003 02:38 PM

>>Also, most of the European countries are behind the President. It is dishonest to ignore this fact. We are acting multilaterally.

The governments of a few European countries might be behind the President, but the people in new europe are just as against this war as old europe. The coalition is a coalition of the very unwilling. It really makes you question the "spreading democracy" aim of this war when we can only get governments to on our side, but not people.

>>The world will now have a greater respect for the United States. We are now entering a time when our relations with the majority of these nations will be greatly improved.

If you mean by "greater respect" they're scared of American power and America's utter disregard for international opinion, you're absolutely right. I have to disagree with "relations with the majority of these nations will be greatly improved". HUH?!?! Where does that conclusion fall from? Maybe someone else will want to take up David on this one. I feel too disheartened to even begin.

Posted by: teddy on March 18, 2003 03:06 PM

For those of us who can read Freedom and who would like to check out a Free perspective on this diplomatic meltdown:

"The American Failure"
http://www.lemonde.fr/article/0,5987,3208--313334-,00.html

P.S. Etymologically, French "franc" is akin to free, like in "franc-macon", i.e. freemason.
(http://www.etymonline.com/f5etym.htm)

Personally what worries me is how long it's going to take to mend the scars that this failed round of diplomacy has inflicted. I am hoping that and it does appear like the French leadership will remain cooperative in rebuilding a post-Saddam Iraq (optimistically jumping a few moves ahead.) But as far as populations are concerned (and not only the French population), I think it might take a much longer time. And in democracies that can matter a lot as recent history has reminded us...

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Stijns on March 18, 2003 03:17 PM

"The world will now have a greater respect for the United States. We are now entering a time when our relations with the majority of these nations will be greatly improved."

That's really not what the data tell us...
http://www.iht.com/articles/90251.html
("World's view of America worsens" by Christopher Marquis/ The New York Times.)

And I wouldn't shout "Hurray!" yet regarding the stock market. However cynical, the upturn is welcome, but Wall Street traders are seriously wondering whether the "war rally" is premature:

e.g. QUOTE: "We're finding a top right in here," said Todd Leone, head of listed trading at SG Cowen. "Everything has to go right with the war for the market to keep moving. At the levels we've had - the Dow is up 800 points since Thursday - we've come too far, too fast."

http://news.ft.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=FT.com/StoryFT/FullStory&c=StoryFT&cid=1045511795210&p=1012571727088

Pourvu que ca dure...

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Stijns on March 18, 2003 05:33 PM

Somehow this view of international relations has got itself called realism! With a such a name it often doesn't have to explain how pissing everyone else off is impractical since basically it asusmes that they are in a cold fury already.

Posted by: Jack on March 18, 2003 05:59 PM

Like a broken record, I once again play the Texas Republican Platform, the only clue we have into the thoughts of this inarticulate (except for scripts which he reads well) President who to my knowledge has written nothing. This is what his friends and neighbors think:

"The Party believes it is in the best interest of the citizens of the United States that we immediately rescind our membership in as well as all financial and military contributions to, the United Nations."

We will: (5) urge our Texas Senators to unalterably oppose any agreement or treaty that seeks to establish an International Criminal Court (ICC), make the United States a participatory party to such a court; recognize the juristication of such a court within the United States or upon any native born or naturalized citizen of the United States; and ..."

I could quote more, but as my then very young son said about 'Puff the Magic Dragon' after singing it in the car for about an hour; "It is a very long song."

While we in the U.S. may not have had this bit of intelligence about influences on our leader made evident, one can suspect that our allies and enemies have parsed it carefully.

Until he is challenged on this statement of his party and base and repudiates it forcefully and believably, it is hard to conclude that it does not represent his own position, implied but unstated. Indeed, he has publically implemented the ICC position.

If you agree with this position, fine, but it seems to me it is worthy of discussion. The point is that it undoubtedly informs the intelligence of many countries (excepting the United States) who simply don't believe GWB ever intended for a moment to pay attention to the UN until he was forced to by US public opinion and decided to use it as a device to further what he had already decided to do at ahich he was a miserable failure.

I hope fervently the rosie scenario plays out and is not a reprise of our economic debacle.

Posted by: Sam Taylor on March 18, 2003 06:16 PM

DT wrote >>Still, the war will be over with in the first seventy-two hours. Don’t be surprised if victory even takes place in the first eight hours!<<

Then why are we going to war? We're supposedly going to war because Iraq is a big threat to us, and neighboring countries. You're saying he ISN'T a threat.

Is this one of those wink, nod things that Republicans do, where they all understand that you need to use deceit to get the public behind you, and then proceed with your real agenda?

Whether Iraq has weapons of mass destruction or not, we should have waited for the inspection process to finish. I also think if we do not find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq that will be grounds to impeach this liar.

Posted by: IssuesGuy on March 18, 2003 07:14 PM

Allow me to offer a brief UK perspective on David T's bizarre claim about the enhanced respect which the rest of the world will henceforth have for the US.

We British are nominally your bestest buddies, since Mr Blair has decided to go along with your president's plans. But the level of hostility, shared across the political spectrum, that people in this country presently have for the American government is unprecedented in my lifetime. Notice that his has nothing to do with 'anti-Americanism' - few of us are not profoundly tied to the USA by taste, sympathy, and friendship - and everything to do with the arrogance, incompetence and extremism of Mr Bush's administration.

David can kvetch about it if he likes, but America's centre of political gravity at present is far, far to the right even of the post-Thatcher UK, never mind that of continental Europe. This widening gap in political culture makes careful diplomacy all the more imperative in those cases in which American institutions need the cooperation of other states. That Mr Bush appears not to appreciate that this is so is testament to his unbelievable callowness.

Posted by: Tom Runnacles on March 18, 2003 10:34 PM

Allow me to offer a brief UK perspective on David T's bizarre claim about the enhanced respect which the rest of the world will henceforth have for the US.

We British are nominally your bestest buddies, since Mr Blair has decided to go along with your president's plans. But the level of hostility, shared across the political spectrum, that people in this country presently have for the American government is unprecedented in my lifetime. Notice that his has nothing to do with 'anti-Americanism' - few of us are not profoundly tied to the USA by taste, sympathy, and friendship - and everything to do with the arrogance, incompetence and extremism of Mr Bush's administration.

David can kvetch about it if he likes, but America's centre of political gravity at present is far, far to the right even of the post-Thatcher UK, never mind that of continental Europe. This widening gap in political culture makes careful diplomacy all the more imperative in those cases in which American institutions need the cooperation of other states. That Mr Bush appears not to appreciate that this is so is testament to his unbelievable callowness.

Posted by: Tom Runnacles on March 18, 2003 10:35 PM

Here is the list of '30 Partners' that has joined us according to the President:

>Afghanistan, Albania, Australia, Azerbaijan,
>Bulgaria, Colombia, the Czech Republic, Denmark,
>El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Georgia,
>Hungary, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Latvia,
>Lithuania, Macedonia, the Netherlands, Nicaragua,
>the Philippines, Poland, Romania, Slovakia,
>Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom and Uzbekistan.
>The State Department listed Japan as available
>for "post-conflict" support.
>http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A49361-2003Mar18.html

We already knew about the UK and Spain. Other than Japan and, possibly, Australia and Italy, Can you name any other country that does not routinely come begging to the US for financial or military support and, hence, are 'obligated' to act as our 'Partner'?

Posted by: scared on March 18, 2003 11:14 PM

DT says, "........still the war will be over with in the first seventy two hours."

As I've said many times, DT's optimism is completely unfounded. It is not based on any sound military assessment.

But, if you don't believe me, what about General Hoar ( http://abc.net.au/am/content/s803482.htm )?

Those stock market advances may well retreat in a week or so.

It is so sad to think of all those fine troops going into battle with plans - at least in part - drawn up and controlled by a prevaricating numbskull like Rumsfeld.

This administration is jerking around the Pentagon much in the same way they have jerked around the UN.

And yes, the administration should be made to answer for the agenda of the Texas GOP. Once you read that document and the material coming out of the PNAC it is clear to any reasonable person that our nation has been hijacked by a cabal of imperialistic criminal madmen.

We may delude ourselves into believing that we are in the right because.......well because to seriously consider the alternative is nothing short of frightening.

DT is fond of using late 1930s analogies to describe present events. I'll toss one back at him. Did the German people really understand the ramifications what Hitler was doing to their nation or did the downward spiral into war, ruin and infamy begin with a commendable sense of patriotism and an agressively unilateralist approach to international relations in defiance of the League of Nations?

Posted by: E. Avedisian on March 19, 2003 01:43 AM

"Those stock market advances may well retreat in a week or so."

Indeed! The stock market began retreating this Wednesday morning at 11:00 a.m. ... It may go back up, but we're not witnessing an unconditional ralley here. So far, just a technical adjustment, it seems.

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Stijns on March 19, 2003 09:18 AM

Mr. Avedisian -- Jim Henley of highclearing.com made a similar point to yours a few days back, when he asked if if would not have been in fascist Italy's best interests to pay attention to the League of Nations' disapproval.

Posted by: Jeremy Osner on March 19, 2003 09:58 AM

"The world will now have a greater respect for the United States."

Yeah, it really looks like it. Respect is flowing like French wine in the Congressional bars.

"People respect you when you refuse to back down to such pathetic idiots."

Yeah, people respect you when you jump off a cliff just to spite those telling you to turn round and come back. Just because you can.

"Also, most of the European countries are behind the President."

Including Spain, with its generous provision of precisely zero troops and one fruity moustache. Yawn.

One thing to note is that the final draft paragraph's "all necessary means" (the diplomatic euphemism for war) was dropped by the UK-US sponsors of Res. 1441 in favour of "serious consquences", in order to ensure that it got support from the UNSC. That the US and UK now follow a course of action that belies their previous negotiations simply exposes their brazen hypocrisy and disregard for the UN.

Posted by: nick sweeney on March 19, 2003 10:39 AM

Hah--nice image. Zero troops and one fruity mustache is about all Aznar can provide for the coalition because he knows a significant majority of the Spanish people will be outraged if he goes further. The coalition of the willing is actually a coalition of the Willinghams. Go figure.

Posted by: andres on March 19, 2003 11:25 AM

The basic view that the Bush Administration blindsided an unsuspecting UNSC is a pile. Bush was fairly clear when going for 1441 that leaving Saddam with his weapons was no longer an option. The U.S. was no longer going to play containment games with Iraq via the UN. Ongoing games where Saddam pretends to comply and the UN tries to catch him cheating were no longer acceptable post 9/11 to the U.S.

Germany, France, Russia and China all knew very well going into 1441 that the U.S. was forcing them to make Saddam comply. That or Bush was going to do it himself. Saddam played the exact same games after 1441. Citing problems with the evidence Powell presented hardly undermines the basic fact of Powell's presentation. Nothing had changed. Saddam wasn't accounting for much of what was known about before. Saddam's actions were designed to conceal not divulge.

France, Germany, Russia and China then went on to undermine any attempt of convincing Saddam that a UNSC vote would ever include a military option. At that point, they undermined the threat of UNSC compulsion and released the U.S. to do it itself. 1441 promised severe consequences. If the UNSC would never force compulsion of its resolutions, the Bush Administration is free to do so itself and the SC faces the very real possibility of irrelevance.

There were no illusions about the U.S.'s expectations of what severe consequences implied. Like Josh Marshall says himself they were in the record. The initial U.S. language said it all. Any promises to come back to the UNSC included an expectation that severe consequences were the purpose. The timetable was short to prevent loss of focus, and the requirements for compliance were readily discernable. France, Germany, Russia, and China renigged. Instead they started playing the same diplomatic games that Saddam had exploited for the entire post Gulf War period.

Face it, the UNSC picked the wrong country to make a stand against the Bush Administration's unilateralist tendencies. Bush is going to find WMD and evidence of a very broad program. The UNSC is going to look really bad. Let's just hope a bad situation doesn't get worse.

Posted by: Stan on March 19, 2003 11:42 AM

//
[...]
Face it, the UNSC picked the wrong country to make a stand against the Bush Administration's unilateralist tendencies. Bush is going to find WMD and evidence of a very broad program. The UNSC is going to look really bad. Let's just hope a bad situation doesn't get worse.
//

After the many lies made to the SC, most of the world will believe that whatever the USA claim to have found is a planted evidence done by the USA.

DSW

Posted by: Antoni Jaume on March 19, 2003 12:15 PM

I hate to break the cosy consensus here, but the fact of the matter is that the Bush administration made it perfectly clear from the beginning that while it would welcome a second resolution after 1441, it would not consider such a resolution necessary.

The entire UN resolution business wouldn't have been necessary in the first place were it not for the pressure on Bush by Colin Powell, Tony Blair and the Democrats to go the UN route, and the behaviour of both the French and the Germans throughout this whole mess has been simply despicable.

Schroeder's government, after voting for 1441, abruptly turned around and announced that it would not support military action under any circumstances whatsoever - how does such a position aid in the disarmament of a tyrant who has had 12 years to comply with UN resolutions yet has failed to do so? Schroeder's decision had nothing to do with principle, and everything to do with distracting discontented voters from the failures of his government. Pacifism has always played well in a Germany that has lost two world wars - remember Helmut Kohl and his "chequebook diplomacy" during the last Gulf War?

Nor does Chirac's opposition have very much to do with upholding international law or "multilateralism" - the French have been perfectly willing to act unilaterally on the world stage whenever it has suited them: witness their intervention in Ivory Coast, their invitation to Robert Mugabe, and their dispatch of troops to the Central African Republic this very week, even as they castigate the Bush administration for acting without UN permission!

The bottom line is that the French and Germans are cooperating for the most calculating of reasons - Germany doesn't want to be isolated in Europe by opposing America without a partner, while France is paying back the Germans for helping to torpedo a proposal for Common Agricultural Policy reform that was gaining serious ground.

Methinks a great many American liberals place too much faith in the high moral principles of the European elite, particularly when those "principles" happen to be in opposition to those of a president from the other side of the political spectrum. Why was there no similar international hue-and-cry when Clinton "unilaterally" decided to intervene in Kosovo. Why are the votes of Russia, China, Angola, Guinea, Syria and other such questionable regimes needed to legitimize action against what everybody admits is a brutal regime?
I am of the opinion that even if not a single European country agreed with Bush's stance (in fact, the opposite is true - only France, Belgium and Germany actually oppose him), he would still have been right to attack Saddam's regime. Humanitarian considerations have a higher priority in my mind than any abstract musings about "international legitimacy" and the like.

Posted by: Abiola Lapite on March 19, 2003 12:26 PM

Antoni, either there will be plenty of dead Iraqi scientists (by Saddam's hand), or there will plenty of corroborating evidence. The people who don't believe wouldn't have anyhow. The SC people know it. It was the wrong place to make a stand.

Posted by: Stan on March 19, 2003 01:35 PM

"Then why are we going to war? We're supposedly going to war because Iraq is a big threat to us, and neighboring countries. You're saying he ISN'T a threat."

You confuse Iraq's ability to fight the United States in a conventional setting--and terrorism. Saddam Hussein would not hesitate to put together a terrorist attack upon American and her allies. We are taking the Iraqi thug out before he gets anymore dangerous.

Posted by: David Thomson on March 19, 2003 02:45 PM

"We British are nominally your bestest buddies, since Mr Blair has decided to go along with your president's plans. But the level of hostility, shared across the political spectrum, that people in this country presently have for the American government is unprecedented in my lifetime."

Huh? What world do you in? You are on the losing side. The recent polls show that 53% of the British public support President Bush's stance on Iraq! Moreover, Tony Blair just kicked the crap out of his political foes.

Posted by: David Thomson on March 19, 2003 02:50 PM

Stan, I doubt we'll need any corroborating evidence. If Saddam has WMD's, then our troops will be on the receiving end. God be with them.

>>I am of the opinion that even if not a single European country agreed with Bush's stance (in fact, the opposite is true - only France, Belgium and Germany actually oppose him), he would still have been right to attack Saddam's regime. Humanitarian considerations have a higher priority in my mind than any abstract musings about "international legitimacy" and the like.<<

Such terrible delusions. France, Belgium, and Germany had heads of government which went along with popular opinion (is Russia not a European country?). Aznar, Berlusconi, Blair, all took personal stands against majority public opinion in their country. And even their support doesn't make this invasion right. I don't know the specific reasons why Russia and France opposed a new resolution, but I know why I do. An unprovoked invasion of another country can only be justified to prevent genocide/ethnic cleansing. It would be nice to say that we should also intervene to overthrow a brutal dictatorship, but few countries have their hands clean with regards to their support for democracy and actually believe their pro-democracy rhetoric--the U.S. position reeks of hyprocrisy in this case. The U.S. concern about WMD's is actually a smokescreen. The government's real objective is a military occupation of Iraq, WMD's or not.

All of this is pointless from a practical standpoint. The invasion will now go ahead regardless of who is in opposition. The only thing these discussions will reveal is who and how many were for and who were against. All to the good.

Posted by: andres on March 19, 2003 02:54 PM

The Usual Suspects are already being proved WRONG WRONG WRONG. What a surprise.

The Mother of All Surrenders is now underway:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,1-616542,00.html

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

Masses of Iraqi soldiers are deserting and senior members of President
Saddam Hussein's ruling family circle are defecting as the countdown to a
British and US invasion reaches its final hours.

In northern Iraq, on the border with Kurdistan, up to three-quarters of some
Iraqi regiments have already fled.

In the mainly Shia Muslim south, Kuwaiti border guards are having to turn
Iraqi soldiers back - telling them that they must wait until an attack
begins before they can surrender.

And in a highly significant development in Baghdad a half-brother of
President Saddam, who is regarded as the dictator's closest adviser, has
fled in the past week to Syria.

[snip]

"We are looking at wholesale desertions in some areas," said an intelligence
officer.

"In the southern area, where there are six Iraqi divisions, fifty per cent
of their officers are planning to surrender once the campaign opens.

[snip]

Relying on human intelligence - British and US special forces already within
Iraq who are observing Iraqi military movements as well as establishing
contacts - and covert aerial surveillance, it is estimated that 73 per cent
of the regular Iraqi army in the south of the country has already made up
its mind to surrender to British and US troops.

In one dramatic example, the reports note that a US "psy ops" -
psychological operation - unit dropped leaflets on Iraq's 51st Mechanised
Division on March 9 and March 10.

Four days later, 20 per cent of the division had deserted and was no longer
in the area. "Many of those who have already gone are reporting that the
rest are preparing to surrender," said an intelligence officer.

In northern Iraq between 43 and 75 per cent of regular soldiers, depending
upon their regiment, have already fled. Iraqi tribal leaders in the region
have also abandoned Saddam and defected to the Kurds in the Northern No-Fly
Zone.
--------endquote---------

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on March 19, 2003 04:05 PM

According to this IHT piece, the French and Germans are already realizing the blunder they made:

http://www.iht.com/articles/90195.html

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

PARIS In the end, beyond the maneuvering, the rhetoric, the professed
convictions, there are questions now in Paris and Berlin about whether their
opposition to an American-led war on Iraq has gotten a bit out of hand.

In Berlin, a reporter talking to a German official heard that the Schroeder
government initially believed Iraq was a one-issue crisis, narrowly
confinable to disagreement on the military undertaking and the painful
although surmountable problem (in the middle term) of Germany's
nonparticipation.

But reacting in fear of isolation, the official suggested, Chancellor
Gerhard Schroeder and Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer's willingness to
subordinate Germany to a French view of confrontation with the United States
on many wider fronts has brought the government to a position it now finds
an awkward fit with Germany's long-term interests, and to a place outside
the realm of the two men's anticipation when they ran for re-election on a
pacifist platform last September.

In very less specific terms, this notion of things having gone too far
appeared to suffuse remarks on Monday by Fischer that American policy was
absolutely nonimperial in nature, that the United States was the
irreplacable element of global and regional security, that there was no
alternative to good trans-Atlantic relationships and that he well understood
how the new East European membership of the European Union could have a
"very different view" of their security than this or that EU founding
member.

Even in normal, less electric times, this was a vision France could not
sustain. If part of it also suggested that Germany's existential need for
smooth relations with Eastern Europe was whipsawed by President Jacques
Chirac's warning to the EU's new members that he required them to choose
current French and German global policy over that of the Americans, then it
also complemented concerns in Paris that Chirac's Brezhnev-style blunder -
explained away here as hearty Chiraquian straight-talk - was one among many.

These concerns have made for the first real breach in the French media's
amen chorus that has punctuated their president's breakaway run since
January from the last half-century's Western notions of international order.

For the first time, French publications, reporting on the disarray of
political analysts, are now asking: Who are we against, Saddam or Bush?

[snip]

In the sense of the French having brazenly overreached, while the Germans
were stuck holding on to Chirac's shirttail, that has some of Germany's
foreign policy professionals regarding the circumstances with irony and
tinges of regret. Whatever Fischer says, theirs is a Germany that could come
out of the war with deteriorated relations with America, tarnished ones with
an Eastern Europe it did not quickly raise its voice to defend and ties well
short of full confidence with France.

For the French, the regrets may not yet be full blown. But what is moldering
now is a parallel sense of France's having eaten up all its room for
maneuver, and all the potential of its star-turn in the run-up to the war
through an excess, in the words of a German official, of the French
"prestige imperative."
--------endquote----------

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on March 19, 2003 04:10 PM

"The Usual Suspects are already being proved WRONG WRONG WRONG. What a surprise."

Who are the usual suspects. Avedisian posted about it being a difficult battle, but I don't think anyone else doubts an easy US victory in winning the war. You should say "The usual suspect is proven wrong". Singular.

The concern is who will win the peace. And why do I sense that bin Laden is smiling today. His organization feeds off war, death, and misery. Not Hussein's kind of misery either, as Hussein was a secularist. But his own kind of misery which he will now try to bring into Iraq.

Posted by: Dan on March 19, 2003 04:47 PM

Clueless Patrick strikes again. ;-) (1) No one in this blog has any love for Saddam Hussein, (2) no one here, not even Avedisian, has claimed that Saddam Hussein has any chances of defeating the invasion or even holding out for a significant amount of time, though he may still unleash WMD's (probably nerve agents) that may take a lot of U.S. soldiers with him. I pray to god no. (3) Saddam Hussein is widely hated, which means most Iraqis won't fight for him. They may, after Hussein is gone, decide that they want to fight for Iraq and against the U.S., but that is another story. Whether that happens or not depends on the type of occupation policy pursued by the U.S. Let's say that I worry about what might happen if (1) the U.S. follows a bombing overkill strategy similar to 1991, and (2) the average U.S. soldier shows a David Thomson-like sensitivity to Iraqui civilians. Since I don't know the train of thought of U.S. soldiers with regards to Arab/Muslim civilians, I won't make any predictions.

Posted by: andres on March 19, 2003 07:43 PM

I am frightened beyond belief that when all is said and done, the American government and its tame Yorkshire Terrier went to war on the basis of forged documents, plagarized documents, and outright lies. I am shocked and awed that the vaunted American press chose to ignore this fraud. Shades of the Gulf of Tonkin incident, no?

Posted by: Russ on March 19, 2003 09:26 PM

I am frightened beyond belief that when all is said and done, the American government and its tame Yorkshire Terrier went to war on the basis of forged documents, plagarized documents, and outright lies. I am shocked and awed that the vaunted American press chose to ignore this fraud. Shades of the Gulf of Tonkin incident, no?

Posted by: Russ on March 19, 2003 09:27 PM

//
[...] (2) the average U.S. soldier shows a David Thomson-like sensitivity to Iraqui civilians. Since I don't know the train of thought of U.S. soldiers with regards to Arab/Muslim civilians, I won't make any predictions.
//


I remember reading the word of an afro-american leader who was a veteran of the war against the true nazis, he claimed to have enjoyed killing white people and being both paid for it and on the protection of the law. It did not matter that these white people were not those who kept blacks in slavery.

DSW

Posted by: Antoni Jaume on March 20, 2003 08:01 AM

andres, that is what I have just found:

From the UK Independent :
[...]
A telling account of the first Gulf War, Jarhead, by Anthony Swofford, has just been published. It gives us the experiences of a young marine 13 years ago, and he is horribly honest about what drew him into the army. "I wanted to be a killer, to kill my country's enemies," he says. He gives you a sense of his fellow soldiers' desire for the actual physical experience of killing, and he vividly describes how, when he and his colleagues were cheated – as they saw it – of that experience, some of them carried out acts of desecration on corpses as if in a spirit of revenge.

http://argument.independent.co.uk/regular_columnists/natasha_walter/story.jsp?story=388823


DSW

Posted by: Antoni Jaume on March 20, 2003 08:19 AM

Who are the usual suspects? Hmmm, how about this guy:

" 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."

Or the fellow who wrote this:

" 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."

And:

" 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: Patrick R. Sullivan on March 20, 2003 02:14 PM

Who are the usual suspects? Hmmm, how about this guy:

" 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."

Or the fellow who wrote this:

" 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."

And:

" 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: Patrick R. Sullivan on March 20, 2003 02:14 PM

Non-sequitur Man (aka Sullivan) is back in town. The three quotes above actually say nothing about the duration of a war with Saddam Hussein. The first quote involves the possibility of Hussein using WMD's. Whatever the result, the length of the war against Hussein himself will not be affected. The second quote points out that Vietnam was a war against the Vietnamese people, regardless of whether or not they were led by a totalitarian despot. If this administration is stupid enough to turn the war against Saddam Hussein into a war against the Iraqui people (a possility I haven't yet discounted), then it's a whole new war, especially if Saddam is gone. The third quote says nothing whatsoever about the duration of a war with Iraq.

Sometimes, the first victim of war fever is not truth but the capacity for logical thought.

Posted by: andres on March 20, 2003 03:23 PM

David Thomson wrote:

"Huh? What world do you in? You are on the losing side. The recent polls show that 53% of the British public support President Bush's stance on Iraq! Moreover, Tony Blair just kicked the crap out of his political foes."

(1) "Huh? What world do you in?" Well, I live in the UK, and am perhaps therefore better placed to judge the state of UK opinion than David.
(2) "The recent polls show that 53% of the British public support President Bush's stance on Iraq!" Now that the tanks are rolling, it may be that opinion is moving to back our troops, indicated by increased support for war (given that it's happening anyway); I'd severely doubt whether you'd you'd get anything like that result if the question were 'Do you support President Bush's stance on Iraq?'.
(3) "Moreover, Tony Blair just kicked the crap out of his political foes." Well, if that's the way the US media is reporting the vote in the House of Commons the other night, they really are a bunch of chimps. If you look up the coverage of that vote in any serious UK newspaper (all of which are outfits that actually have a clue about how our political system functions), whether from right or left, you'll see that though Blair won the vote, the level of the rebellion was massive. Since we have a parliamentary system, it's rare for MP's to oppose their own party on matters of confidence like this. If David does not believe that Blair has taken incredible political damage in getting that vote through, or thinks that UK electors are four-square behind the Bush administration, he is very sadly deluded.

Posted by: Tom Runnacles on March 20, 2003 03:34 PM

I am actually is quite certain that US forces will quickly defeat Iraq's military; though not in three days and not without significantly more causalties than in the first gulf war.

I have always been highly concerned about the impact of the campaign on civilians.

Thus, I share the opinion of General Hoar (see previous posted link) who undoubtedly is better informed as to the realities of modern warfare than Patrick S. or David T.

Surely, we all expected the impressed lower echelon Iraqi troops to surrender without a fight. Nobody should be surprised or encouraged by this occurring. It is the hard core troops that will be encountered in the city streets that are potentially the source of much bloodletting.

I wish (and still to some extent hope) the uniformed fantasies David and Patrick were correct.

I also believe that there is more to winning this war than dispatching Iraqi troops. Equally important -and far more difficult - will be winning and maintaining the peace in the region, repairing the damage to international law and order with the precedent of pre-emptive aggression, repairing the damage to relationships within the UN, and finally dealing with the financial costs of the war in light of an already hurting economy and massive budget shortfalls.

I never said we'd lose; only that the costs are dear and in, my opinion, greater than any derived benefits. I have never believed that Iraq was a threat to anyone. I remain convinced that the war is about a new world order and oil $. Not much evidence otherwise. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck.......

Regardless of your position on the validity of this war please PLEASE support our troops. Overwhelmingly, they are brave patriotic servants of our country and are doing what they do for all the right reasons. The suspect attitudes mentioned in some above posts are absolutely the fringe minority.

Posted by: E. Avedisian on March 20, 2003 03:59 PM

Well, let us first establish that Josh Marshall is not totally out to lunch.

Here we have what purports to be the statement of John Negroponte, US Ambassador to the UN, explaining the USA vote on Nov 8. Money quote:

As we have said on numerous occasions to Council members, this Resolution contains no “hidden triggers” and no “automaticity” with respect to the use of force. If there is a further Iraqi breach, reported to the Council by UNMOVIC, the IAEA, or a member state, the matter will return to the Council for discussions as required in paragraph 12. The Resolution makes clear that any Iraqi failure to comply is unacceptable and that Iraq must be disarmed. And one way or another, Mr. President, Iraq will be disarmed. If the Security Council fails to act decisively in the event of a further Iraqi violation, this resolution does not constrain any member state from acting to defend itself against the threat posed by Iraq, or to enforce relevant UN resolutions and protect world peace and security.

I would say that the first highlighted part confirms part of the Marshall Plan - everyone, even the US, understood that 1441 was not automatic. However, the second highlighted point squares the circle - the US position, as articulated here, was that even 1441 was not necessary to authorize force, since earlier resolutions were still in force.

The Ambassador returns to this point at his close:

President Bush asked the Security Council to take on the challenge posed by Iraq. He asked that it find Iraq in material breach of its ongoing obligations, that it establish an enhanced inspection regime as a means for obtaining the disarmament of Iraq in the area of weapons of mass destruction, and that it make clear that the most serious consequences for Iraq would follow continued defiance. This Resolution accomplishes each of these purposes. Moreover, it does so as a result of intense and open discussions with our Security Council partners. In this process, different views about the shape and language of a resolution were fused into the common approach our British partners and we wanted to create.

This Resolution affords Iraq a final opportunity. The Secretary-General said on September 12, and he repeated it again today, “If Iraq’s defiance continues, the Security Council must face its responsibilities.” We concur with the wisdom of his remarks. Members can rely on the United States to live up to its responsibilities if the Iraq regime persists with its refusal to disarm.

As a bonus, we can take an excerpt from the Blair speech to the House of Commons, which I noticed around here somewhere.

1441 is a very clear resolution. It lays down a final opportunity for Saddam to disarm. It rehearses the fact that he has been, for years in material breach of 17 separate UN resolutions. It says that this time compliance must be full, unconditional and immediate. The first step is a full and final declaration of all WMD to be given on 8 December.

...On 7 March, the inspectors published a remarkable document. It is 173 pages long, detailing all the unanswered questions about Iraq's WMD.


...On this basis, had we meant what we said in resolution 1441, the security council should have convened and condemned Iraq as in material breach.

So Mr. Blair seems on board with a two step process. And he goes on to explain why the process broke down, and blames the French.

Hmm, my HTML skills are missing, or something is buggy here (a poor workman blames his tools). Anyway, the Negroponte Statement is here:

http://www.globalpolicy.org/security/issues/iraq/document/2002/1108usstat.htm

Posted by: Tom Maguire on March 20, 2003 04:32 PM

Hmm, my cool italics are gone, and the bold highlights... why do I even show up sober (or do I?)

Anyway, here are the NY Times excerpts from the recent White House explanation of its war authority. SC 1441 is part of the story, but by no means all. Sort of like the Ambassador said last November.

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/03/20/international/worldspecial/20WTEX.html?ei=5062&en=e1b3621c5eb08f93&ex=1048827600&partner=GOOGLE&pagewanted=print&position=top

So, we said at the time that a second resolution would be helpful but not essential, and have stuck to that story. Would it be worth revisiting the bits where Marshall deduces that the Administration did not really know what it was agreeing to?

And this closing advice from the Prof contains timeless wisdom:

"To tell your allies that your word as a nation is not good--that agreements won't mean what you said they meant if you find it convenient to pretend otherwise--is extremely dangerous. It changes international relations from a search for mutual benefit into a struggle for power, and may have very bad implications for the long run."

I wonder if he is still convinced that it applies to the example at hand.

Posted by: Tom Maguire on March 20, 2003 08:11 PM

Reading Marshall and others of that ilk gives insight into the appeasement mentality of the 1930's. Today's fascist dictators are much smaller fry than was Adolf Hitler, but in a nuclear age they are potentially just as a much of a threat.

Beyond that, I am appalled at the indifference of so many to the suffering of the Iraq people under Saddam's terror regime. Ask your friendly local Iraqi exile what he or she thinks of US intervention in Iraq and you will likely hear a very different opinion from that of the Marshalls of this world.

Posted by: Joe Willingham on March 21, 2003 01:37 PM

Joe, I guess you're right--it's time for me, a certified Stalin Boy as you so delicately put it, to show some compassion. First, though, I think you should put on a surgeon's mask and go to a war hospital. There you can see what it's like to operate on children with shrapnel wounds and maybe even have to amputate limbs as a result. Or you can try your hand at treating mustard gas or seeing the irreversible effects of Sarin--Saddam Hussein may have gassed the Kurds, but only the US invasion will make him use chemical weapons in the vicinity of his own ethnic population. For that matter, you should try your hand at treating radiation sickness from being in the close proximity of depleted uranium shells. In short, you can start thinking about the effects of collateral damage when you talk about liberating the Iraqui people. Bon apetit.

Perhaps all of this suffering is justifiable if the goal is not only to get rid of Saddam Hussein but also to give the people of Iraq the experience of a democracy, although such an opinion comes very close to the belief that it is right to play God and try your imperfect hand at distinguishing the good guys from the bad guys in a particular country. A democratic Iraq, however, doesn't seem to be in the cards in the near future. Turkey has already moved into the north and will most likely begin eliminating any Kurds it suspects of supporting independence movements. The next government of Iraq will be a US military governorship. If and when Iraq gets a legislature and head of state, I doubt they will be in a position to go against the wishes of the Bush administration and its occupation forces.

And since I am a Stalin Boy who supports totalitarian dictators and is not to be trusted in such matters, I guess it will be up to you to do everything in your power to persuade the administration not to let an Iraqui counterpart of the Shah of Iran run the new Iraqui government. After all, our Stalinist foreign policy establishment aided and abetted Saddam Hussein for well over fifteen years before 1991.

I guess that's my advice. And good luck in the future liberation of the people of Iran, by the way.

Posted by: andres on March 23, 2003 12:03 AM

I get the impression that nothing that could ever happen would get andres to admit that he was wrong about the invasion of Iraq. If four years from now there is a parliamentary government in Iraq and relative prosperity, and opinion polls show that 82% of Iraqis think the US invasion was a good thing, then andres will claim that the seemingly democratic Iraqi government is controlled from behind the scenes by the Bush gang, and that the public opinion poll is a fake.

Posted by: Joe Willingham on March 23, 2003 08:25 AM

It could happen, possibly because a change of administrations in the U.S. also led to a radical change in policy.

And it may well be the case that Iraquis will be better off under a Karzai-type undemocratic client government than under Saddam Hussein. Still considering the lives lost in the war, I'm not so sure that is a good bargain.

Posted by: andres on March 24, 2003 01:36 PM
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