August 12, 2003

I Deeply Resent the Way This Administration...

It was Teresa Nielsen Hayden who said: "I deeply resent the way this administration makes me feel like a nutbar conspiracy theorist." Here Jeffrey Sachs succumbs to the belief that the real reason for the invasion of Iraq was to get enough military ground power in place to give the U.S. the capability to conquer and occupy Saudi Arabia in 72 hours.

FT.com Home US: Saudi Arabia was real target in Iraq war | By Jeffrey Sachs | Published: August 12 2003 20:02 | Last Updated: August 12 2003 20:02

The crucial question regarding Iraq is not whether the motives for war were disguised, but why. The argument that Iraq posed a grave and imminent threat was absurd to anybody not under the spell of round-the-clock White House and 10 Downing Street spin. But the actual reasons for launching the war remain obscure. The plot thickened with the release last month of the US Congressional investigation into September 11. It seems increasingly likely that Iraq was attacked because Saudi Arabia was deeply implicated in the terrorist attacks.

Two truths have long governed US energy security. The first is that Saudi Arabia is the key to world oil stability, the accommodating supplier when markets get too tight. It would be a potential threat to the world economy if Saudi oil flows were disrupted. In 1973-74, with the Arab oil embargo, the Ford presidency was brought down by the disruption of the US economy, a point not lost on two young senior officials at the time, Donald Rumsfeld and Richard Cheney, respectively Gerald Ford's defence secretary and White House chief of staff. Pentagon and academic planners began making contingency plans for the military seizure of the Middle East oilfields.

The second truth is that Saudi Arabia has been a spigot of private wealth for key US figures, and for the Bush extended family in particular. The Saudi royal family lacks political legitimacy at home, so it buys US protection from abroad. The Saudis purchase Washington influence through consultancy contracts, big defence outlays on US military hardware, lucrative speeches for Washington insiders, investments in US businesses with influential figures, and the like. A long line of US senior officials has benefited, with the Ford, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush White House and Pentagon at the front of the line. Saudi business has helped to make multi-millionaires of Henry Kissinger, Frank Carlucci, James Baker, George H.W. Bush, Mr Cheney and dozens of other insiders.

September 11 threatened these two truths. Within hours of the attack, the White House apparently understood that senior Saudi intelligence officials were probably involved and that 15 out of the 19 terrorists were from Saudi Arabia. They were no doubt stunned to realise that parts of the vast Saudi royal family were not only corrupt, but also deeply intertwined with anti-American terror and extremist fundamentalism. A new book by former CIA agent Robert Baer, Sleeping with the Devil*, details how the US government had systematically turned away from the growing evidence of Saudi complicity in fundamentalist terrorism, thereby frustrating the kind of investigations that might have headed off September 11.

To say that Saudi complicity in September 11 led the White House to war in Iraq is speculative, but several insiders have suggested that the conflict was incubated, perhaps hatched, in the immediate aftermath of the attacks. There are at least four plausible channels that together might explain the speed with which the decision on Iraq was taken after September 11. First, September 11 was a dramatic confirmation that the stability of Saudi oil was in jeopardy. The regime was unstable and perhaps even a lethal threat to the US. The only quantitatively significant alternative to Saudi oil was Iraqi oil, but that option was barred as long as Saddam Hussein remained in power. The long-standing contingency plans to seize Middle Eastern oil were probably rolled out within days of September 11.

Second, a substitute had to be found for the US military bases in Saudi Arabia. Like Saudi oil, the bases too were now under threat, especially because the US presence in the Saudi kingdom was known to be the principal irritant for al-Qaeda. Iraq would become a new base of US military operations. Paul Wolfowitz, deputy defence secretary, has already explained during an interview with Vanity Fair that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction were but a bureaucratic pretext that hid other core motives for war, including the reduction of the US military presence in Saudi Arabia. Mr Wolfowitz's remarkable statement seemed bizarre at the time it became public but was allowed to pass in the US without scrutiny. But it makes full sense in the context of a White House debate about the US's response to a teetering Saudi regime.

Third, the Bush White House needed to issue a powerful threat to the Saudi leadership: one more false step and you're finished. Attacking the next-door neighbour was no doubt judged to be quite persuasive. A direct diplomatic attack was probably ruled out by the deep and inextricable links between the White House and the Saudi leadership. Finally, there was probably a strong hope that the public could be diverted from the true roots of September 11. The Bush administration needed to turn the public's eyes away from the intelligence failures and head off the danger, however slight, that Saudi associates of the Bush family and friends would be implicated in the attacks. Mr Hussein was the perfect target: a true despot, long-standing public enemy of the US and a wastrel of energy resources needed by US consumers.

Perhaps the Iraq war had roots other than September 11 and Saudi Arabia. There is even a tiny, if fading chance, that the ostensible motive - weapons of mass destruction - had merit. But if the Iraq war was an opportunistic response to September 11, it is crucially important that we know it. Thousands of lives and perhaps $100bn have gone into this war, with little to show for it except an enraged Iraqi public and enormous costs of occupation extending into the future.

The US media have so far shown little interest in connecting the dots. Meanwhile, the administration continues to play on the public's post-September 11 fears and its pride and comfort in US military might. Yet the questions do not fade away. The administration's seeming unwillingness to examine the Saudi connections and the enormous costs of Iraqi occupation are now causing concern even among the president's stalwarts in Congress. The issues are too big to be swept aside, even by the powerful currents of patriotism, fear and spin.

The motives Sachs focuses on were, IMHO, probably minor motives for some people in the administration. Anyone who has ever worked in a government (or read Essence of Decision) knows that the actions of bureaucracies are never done for one reason. The putative decision maker may have one set of reasons. His immediate subordinates probably have others. And their staffs have yet other sets of reasons, which probably overlap but which surely are not identical and may well contradict each other.

IMHO the most important reason that the Bush Administration attacked Iraq was that Richard Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld believed that a huge mistake had been made in 1991 in leaving Saddam Hussein in power, and that the aftermath of 9-11 provided a convenient time to correct that mistake. Sachs's reasons seem to me to have been secondary, and to have been found concentrated largely among second- and third-tier relatively young neocon staffers.

Posted by DeLong at August 12, 2003 12:58 PM | TrackBack

Comments

"IMHO the most important reason that the Bush Administration attacked Iraq was that Richard Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld believed that a huge mistake had been made in 1991 in leaving Saddam Hussein in power, and that the aftermath of 9-11 provided a convenient time to correct that mistake."

Top 10 reasons for Bush Administration attack on Iraq:

1) Saddam Hussein tried to assassinate G.H.W. Bush.

2) Senior adminstration officials, including Cheney and Rumsfeld, thought it was a mistake to leave Saddam Hussein in power, and September 11 provided them with an excuse to take action on that (i.e., I agree with what you wrote).

3) Some senior Adminstration officials (Wolfowitz, at least) really do think that they can put in place a liberal Arab democracy, and that will cause other Arab (and Persian) dictatorships to collapse.

4) Adminstration officials thought that eliminating Saddam Hussein and completely destroying the Iraqi military will allow the U.S. to pull most or all troops out of Saudi Arabia (thought to be important after 9/11, since Saudi Arabia is the country Osama bin Laden and friends think is most important).

5) Consideration that privatizing or partially privatizing Iraq's oil production might cause the OPEC cartel to collapse.

6) to 10) Other reasons I'm too lazy to think of or list.

It amazes me that so few people list my #1 reason (Hussein tried to whack Dubyah's dad) as being important. Doesn't anybody actually listen to G.W. Bush himself?

It's like people who don't listen to Osama bin Laden explain why HE does the things he does. Neither Bush or bin Laden talks in code. I don't understand why people don't listen.

Posted by: Mark Bahner on August 13, 2003 03:35 PM

Mark Bahner's points are sound.

Bush is wrongly criticized for not being honest about the real reasons for going to war. He was right not to be honest, because three of the most important reasons were 1) to establish a base for military operations against Al Qaeda and other terrorists in the region, and 2) to send a message to Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Iran that non-cooperation with the US war against terrorism can be fatal, and 3) to set up an alternative source of oil so that Saudi Arabia can be read the riot act, and if necessary, its government overthrown.

To announce those purposes to the world would have caused outrage among the *bien pensant* (that's French for "politically correct") at home and in Europe and made the alliance with Great Britain impossible, and most of all it would have caused the governments in the Islamic countries to unite behind Saddam Hussein. In war deception is the name of the game, and that can include deception about the goals of the war.

The administration is hoping to establish the second democracy in an Islamic country in Iraq, and hoping that will start a trend, but it is not certain that it will succeed in this. However the administration rightly believes the war is necessary whether the democracy project succeeds or not.

Posted by: Joe Willingham on August 13, 2003 07:05 PM

The administration was not wrong to be worried about Iraq's WMD programs. Below is the URL to an article with testimony by Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Tom Daschle, Richard Butler, and a Salman Yassin Zweir, a former employee of Saddam Hussein, on the WMD threat. Note that these are all knowledgeable people, and that none of them are neo-conservatives or Republicans.

Quote from article:

"Salman Yassin Zweir, a design engineer employed by the Iraqi Atomic Energy Commission for 13 years, said that in August 1998 -- four months before U.N. weapons inspectors were expelled from Iraq -- Saddam ordered his scientists to resume work on a program aimed at making a nuclear bomb. When Mr. Zweir refused to rejoin the nuclear-weapons program, he was beaten with iron bars for three weeks. He fled to Jordan in October 1998. Saddam 'is very proud of his nuclear team,' according to Mr. Zweir. 'He will never give up the dream of being the first Arab leader to have a nuclear bomb.'"

http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB106073893126060000,00.html

Posted by: Joe Willingham on August 13, 2003 07:22 PM

Joe Willingham wrote, "He was right not to be honest, because three of the most important reasons were 1) to establish a base for military operations against Al Qaeda and other terrorists in the region, and 2) to send a message to Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Iran that non-cooperation with the US war against terrorism can be fatal,..."

But Syria has been cooperating quite nicely against terrorism---meaning, against al Queda. The US hasn't been all that interested.

Posted by: Stephen J Fromm on August 13, 2003 08:23 PM

Joe Willingham wrote, "The administration was not wrong to be worried about Iraq's WMD programs. ... 'Saddam "is very proud of his nuclear team," according to Mr. Zweir. 'He will never give up the dream of being the first Arab leader to have a nuclear bomb."'"

Given all the evidence coming out about the administration's lies and distortions---and most pointedly those concerning Hussein's nuclear program---you're making yourself look quite foolish with that post.

Sure, Saddam probably had some crack physicists and engineers. So what? Once the US demonstrated to the world that the atomic bomb *can* be made, the only question is obtaining the infrastructure to build one---it's not a matter of esoteric physics.

And if the US gov't were to overthrow every government with a leader with "dreams," God, we'd be busy.

Posted by: Stephen J Fromm on August 13, 2003 08:30 PM

"He was right not to be honest,..."

He HAS been honest. On at least three occasions, I've seen him say in a TV interview, words to the effect of, "And, after all, he (Hussein) tried to kill my dad."

And I don't watch much TV. And I almost always switch channels whenever Bush is speaking. (A habit I developed during the Clinton Adminstration, and which has seemed useful to continue.)

"The administration was not wrong to be worried about Iraq's WMD programs."

Oh, yes. I agree that there is overwhelming evidence that Democrats--specifically high-ranking members of the Clinton adminstration--certainly thought Saddam Hussein had WMD.

When I was agreeing with Brad DeLong, and listing his reason as my reason #2, one reason BEHIND that reason was that Saddam Hussein was thought to still be dangerous because of his WMD.

But don't forget reason #1. G.W. Bush has been very candid about it, and it bothers me that people don't listen. (Just like they don't listen to what Osama bin Laden very plainly says...i.e., Osama bin Laden wants the infidels out of the country of Mecca and Medina.)

Posted by: Mark Bahner on August 13, 2003 08:32 PM

Mark Bahner wrote, "Oh, yes. I agree that there is overwhelming evidence that Democrats--specifically high-ranking members of the Clinton adminstration--certainly thought Saddam Hussein had WMD."

That's obfuscatory. "WMD" doesn't mean much of anything. Chemical weapons are, on average, no more effective at killing (pound for pound) than high explosive. Biological agents, while potentially very effective, aren't that useful if you can't properly weaponize them. And Saddam had nothing in the way of the infrastructure needed to build an A-bomb. And not that much $$ to purchase those resources.

But your point about vengeance re his father is well taken.

Posted by: Stephen J Fromm on August 13, 2003 08:36 PM

Stephen J. Fromm writes:

"But Syria has been cooperating quite nicely against terrorism---meaning, against al Queda. The US hasn't been all that interested."

That's a good point, but in Syria's case what we want in addition to that is that they cease their support of Hamas. One of the most important reasons for invading Iraq is increase the chances for a settlement of the Arab-Israeli dispute. By getting rid of one of the main opponents of peace we have done just that. A peace settlement requires the cooperation of the governments of the region. To accomplish that we are making them an offer they can't refuse.

Posted by: Joe Willingham on August 13, 2003 09:26 PM

If it's true that Saddam tried to kill President Bush the Elder that's not a bad reason to invade his country and kill *him*. The fact that the intended victim was the current president's father gives the story a certain extra element of drama, but doesn't affect the main point, that Saddam Hussein is a loose cannon who, as they say in Texas, "needs killin'".

Posted by: Joe Willingham on August 13, 2003 09:36 PM

Stephen J. Fromm writes:

"And Saddam had nothing in the way of the infrastructure needed to build an A-bomb. And not that much $$ to purchase those resources."

If he had been in power long enough he would have gotten an A-bomb. Since we didn't know how long that would take, prudence dictated that we act ASAP.

Posted by: Joe Willingham on August 13, 2003 09:56 PM

"If it's true that Saddam tried to kill President Bush the Elder that's not a bad reason to invade his country and kill *him*."

Yes it is. It is an appallingly bad reason. It's the kind of thing a dictator or an absolute monarch might be expected to do -- launch a war, slaughter thousands and bankrupt his nation, over a personal vendetta. In a democracy, the military is supposed to be there to act in the defense of all its citizens, not to serve as an instrument to settle the grudges and personal grievances of the man at the top.

There may be marginally legitimate policy reasons for this war. "He tried to kill my dad," is most assuredly is not one of them.

(God. That this even needed to be said...!)

Posted by: Fair and Balanced Reader on August 13, 2003 10:07 PM

Dear Comrade Fair and Balanced:

What is the reason for this cult of Saddam worship among American left-liberals? It's as though it were 1939 and you were saying, well, Hitler is not a good man, but he *is* against British and American imperialism. Come to think of it, that's what your ilk *did* say in 1939 during the period of the Hitler-Stalin pact.

Once again, Stalinism and fascism are making common cause.

Posted by: Joe Willingham on August 14, 2003 12:36 AM

Joe Willingham wrote, "That's a good point, but in Syria's case what we want in addition to that is that they cease their support of Hamas."

No, it's because *Israel* wants them to cease their support of Hamas, and US policy in the region is partly dictated by Israel.

Hamas poses no security threat to the US, AFAICT. Al Queda poses a large security threat to the US, and my impression is that Syria has been providing pretty useful information.

The notion that there's a tie between Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian dispute is no more sensible when Bush peddles it than when Saddam peddled it.

Peace there is entirely in one nation's hands: the US's. All the US has to do is codify what everyone knows are the outlines of a just peace, and then force the agreement on Israel and the Palestinians---in Israel's case, by cutting all aid to Israel unless they agree. But it ain't going to happen. So the violence will continue.

"If he had been in power long enough he would have gotten an A-bomb. Since we didn't know how long that would take, prudence dictated that we act ASAP."

Not at all clear. First, he had very few financial resources. Second, the inspection regime wasn't at all bad, and there's no reason it couldn't have been strengthened (but for the fact that the US was never really all that interested). Third, your remark could apply to the entire proliferation issue---given enough time, all sorts of nations will get the bomb. Fourth, Hussein, as a state actor, exhibited all the rationality that state actors usually exhibit (and which is notably lacking with many terror groups).

Fifth, the notion that anything Bush does deserves the label "prudent" is ludicrous.

Posted by: Stephen J Fromm on August 14, 2003 05:45 AM

Joe Willingham wrote, "What is the reason for this cult of Saddam worship among American left-liberals?"

Now you're looking stupid again, writing such a smear. Where does "comrade" "Fair and Balanced Reader" say *anything* in his post in support of Saddam? *This* is the true Stalinism: anyone against Bush's dirty little war must ergo be a Saddam supporter.

Posted by: Stephen J Fromm on August 14, 2003 05:50 AM

Stephen, it seems that only those who wouldn't contenance war under any circumstance really knew/know that Saddam didn't/doesn't have WMD. It's odd considering that we knew he did have them and the UN team responsible for ending his attempts thought he still likely had them.

Peace is not a one-sided endeavor. Saddam did not want peace. He was a serious threat due to Iraq's oil money and his desires. The Adminstration's distortions do not make Saddam less a threat nor his removal less a potential good.

What is obsurd are the continued suggestions that Saddam wasn't a threat. Of course Saddam wasn't going to take on the U.S. or Britain militarily. Exactly how many countries could? Under these obsurd criteria, nobody is a threat. All of Saddam's other provocations are simply labeled not a threat and what we otherwise know is ignored because it is inconvenient. Who exactly is brainwashed here?

Pacifism is a luxury not afforded by those living with non-pacifist neighbors. Guess what?

Posted by: Stan on August 14, 2003 09:19 AM

>All the US has to do is codify what everyone
>knows are the outlines of a just peace, and then
>force the agreement on Israel and the
>Palestinians---in Israel's case, by cutting all
>aid to Israel unless they agree.

Those terms are not known, and they certainly aren't agreed on by all parties. Term one - recognition by ALL relevant parties - including Hamas - of Israel's right to exist, and sessation of hostilities against Israeli civilians, isn't agreed to by many of the Arabs. Term two - creation of a Palestinian home state - is agreed on, but what the borders should be is not. Jerusalem is the fly in the ointment there. (And that doesn't even bring up the fact that, by population, Jordan is the Palestinian homeland.) Terms three and on don't matter until the above two are satisfiably hashed out. Sharon, granted, is an obstacle. He is also democratically elected. I guarantee that if the Palestinians demonstrated a good faith willingness to halt terrorism in Israel, then the Israelis would elect a peace-friendly PM. It's happened before.

By leaning on the supporters of the Palestinians, we are putting pressure on the people who most block the road to peace.

Posted by: rvman on August 14, 2003 09:21 AM

>All the US has to do is codify what everyone
>knows are the outlines of a just peace, and then
>force the agreement on Israel and the
>Palestinians---in Israel's case, by cutting all
>aid to Israel unless they agree.

Those terms are not known, and they certainly aren't agreed on by all parties. Term one - recognition by ALL relevant parties - including Hamas - of Israel's right to exist, and sessation of hostilities against Israeli civilians, isn't agreed to by many of the Arabs. Term two - creation of a Palestinian home state - is agreed on, but what the borders should be is not. Jerusalem is the fly in the ointment there. (And that doesn't even bring up the fact that, by population, Jordan is the Palestinian homeland.) Terms three and on don't matter until the above two are satisfiably hashed out. Sharon, granted, is an obstacle. He is also democratically elected. I guarantee that if the Palestinians demonstrated a good faith willingness to halt terrorism in Israel, then the Israelis would elect a peace-friendly PM. It's happened before.

By leaning on the supporters of the Palestinians, we are putting pressure on the people who most block the road to peace.

Posted by: rvman on August 14, 2003 09:26 AM

Mark Bahner:
He HAS been honest. On at least three occasions, I've seen him say in a TV interview, words to the effect of, "And, after all, he (Hussein) tried to kill my dad."

I never got the impression that Bush was seriously driven by that. It always seemed tossed in on top of the important reasons.

Posted by: Bill Woods on August 14, 2003 11:10 AM

Mark Bahner:
He HAS been honest. On at least three occasions, I've seen him say in a TV interview, words to the effect of, "And, after all, he (Hussein) tried to kill my dad."

I never got the impression that Bush was seriously driven by that. It always seemed tossed in on top of the important reasons.

Posted by: Bill Woods on August 14, 2003 11:15 AM

"All the US has to do is codify..."

"Codify"...as in "make into law?"

So *all* the U.S. has to do is make a law that applies to citizens of countries who did NOT vote for our government (e.g., the citizens of Israel, and presumably future country of Palestine)?

In other words, all the U.S. has to do is to act like unelected King of the World, and completely neglect its founding principle that government power comes from consent of the governed.

Well, it's a good thing that's *all* the U.S. has to do. ;-)

Posted by: Mark Bahner on August 14, 2003 04:31 PM

I wrote, "He HAS been honest. On at least three occasions, I've seen him say in a TV interview, words to the effect of, 'And, after all, he (Hussein) tried to kill my dad.'"

Bill Woods responds, "I never got the impression that Bush was seriously driven by that. It always seemed tossed in on top of the important reasons."

Well, like I wrote before, starting with Bill Clinton circa 1998, I NOT to listen to U.S. presidents. So I can't say that I've spent, or am willing to spend, any time trying to detail just how many times or in what context G.W. Bush has referred to the attempted assassination of his father. So your impression could very well be better than my impression. (But I find it curious how few people seem to mention it as even one of several reasons why the Bush Adminstration may have gone to war.)

Posted by: Mark Bahner on August 14, 2003 04:39 PM

"By leaning on the supporters of the Palestinians, we are putting pressure on the people who most block the road to peace."

By leaning on the supporters of the Palestinians, our *government* is getting involved in something that is not properly any of its business. And our government is forfeiting the valuable commodity of being viewed by the rest of the world as neutral in an incredibly complicated and emotionally charged situation.

Posted by: Mark Bahner on August 14, 2003 04:46 PM

By defending the Jews, who an are an essential part of western civilization (despite the way they have been treated by that civilization), and by defending Israel, the only democracy and the only true friend of the US in the Middle East, our government is defending our nation, its interests, and its values at the most fundamental level.

Defending our economic and strategic interests in important, and we are doing that. So is defending the values, such as honor, decency and liberty, that make live worth living, and I think all our presidents have tried to do that in their policies in regard to Israel.

It is not true what the US always does what Israel wants (nor should it). Presidents Reagan, Bush, Clinton, and Bush have all made great efforts to be fair to both sides, and have often exerted great pressure on Israel to compromise as much as is compatible with its national security.

Posted by: Joe Willingham on August 14, 2003 08:32 PM

Mark wrote, "'Codify'...as in 'make into law?'"

Clearly I didn't mean that. I meant set down into clear writing.

"So *all* the U.S. has to do is make a law that applies to citizens of countries who did NOT vote for our government (e.g., the citizens of Israel, and presumably future country of Palestine)?"

You miss the point. The US gives Israel billions of $/yr. We can give them a choice: you do what we say, or you don't get any more free $ from us.

Stan wrote, "Stephen, it seems that only those who wouldn't contenance war under any circumstance really knew/know that Saddam didn't/doesn't have WMD. It's odd considering that we knew he did have them and the UN team responsible for ending his attempts thought he still likely had them."

Balogne. First, the whole "WMD" debate is a distortion. Chemical weapons are no more effective than high explosive for killing people. Biological weapons---some may be *very* effective (smallpox?), but not all of them would be so threatening, and the ones that could be a large threat, say anthrax, are often hard to weaponize. The *true* threat is nuclear weapons, and claims that Saddam was *recently* well on his way to building them were always weak.

"What is obsurd are the continued suggestions that Saddam wasn't a threat. Of course Saddam wasn't going to take on the U.S. or Britain militarily. Exactly how many countries could? Under these obsurd criteria, nobody is a threat. All of Saddam's other provocations are simply labeled not a threat and what we otherwise know is ignored because it is inconvenient. Who exactly is brainwashed here?"

That's a distortion. No one is saying Saddam wasn't a threat. What I/we are saying is that the extant threat wasn't one that called for a preemptive war---especially not one run by a bunch of incompetents like those in the Bush administration.

rvman wrote, "Those terms are not known, and they certainly aren't agreed on by all parties."

Not true. It's pretty well understood what a reasonable peace would be---the only real sticking point is the status of East Jerusalem. Otherwise (1) Palestinians get almost all of Gaza and the West Bank, with perhaps slight alterations of the line near Jerusalem, (2) Palestinians give up the right of return to land within the Green Line (aside from perhaps a token number, say 50,000), (3) Palestinians agree to a joint security pact with Israel, including no armor for Palestine.

But you're right, they're not agreed upon by all parties, given that Likud et al. really want the land the Palestinians currently live on.

Joe Willingham wrote, "So is defending the values, such as honor, decency and liberty, that make live worth living, and I think all our presidents have tried to do that in their policies in regard to Israel." And do those deep-seated values include violating the Geneva convention on not transporting people into occupied territories?

Posted by: Stephen J Fromm on August 15, 2003 08:17 AM

I wrote that it's pretty clear what a reasonable peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians would look like. Here's the article that inspired that claim---I don't think you need an e-subscription to access it:

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/15340

Title: "The Road to Nowhere"
Author: Tony Judt
_New York Review of Books_, 2002-05-09

Posted by: Stephen J Fromm on August 15, 2003 08:22 AM

Excerpt from the link posted above:
"The point was no longer to analyze the origins of the tragedy, nor assign blame for it. The point was to do what had to be done.

"In the cacophony of commentary and accusation swirling around the calamity in the Middle East, Aron's icy clarity [on the issue of France and Algeria] is sorely missed. For the solution to the Israel–Palestine conflict is also in plain sight. Israel exists. The Palestinians and other Arabs will eventually accept this; many already do. Palestinians can be neither expunged from 'Greater Israel' nor integrated into it: if they were expelled into Jordan, the latter would explode, with disastrous consequences for Israel. Palestinians need a real state of their own and they will have one. The two states will be delineated in accordance with the map drawn up at the Taba negotiations in January 2001, according to which the 1967 borders will be modified, but nearly all of the occupied territories will come under Palestinian rule. The Israeli settlements in the occupied territories are thus foredoomed, and most of them will be dismantled, as many Israelis privately acknowledge.

"There will be no Arab right of return; and it is time to abandon the anachronistic Jewish one. Jerusalem is already largely divided along ethnic lines and will, eventually, be the capital of both states. Since these states will have a common interest in stability and shared security concerns, they will learn in time to cooperate. Community- based organizations like Hamas, offered the chance to transform themselves from terrorist networks into political parties, will take this path. There are numerous precedents."

Posted by: Stephen J on August 15, 2003 08:25 AM

"By defending the Jews,..."

"The Jews" in ISRAEL! It is NOT the function of the U.S. government to protect people outside of U.S. borders. That's especially true when such people aren't even U.S. citizens.

"...who an are an essential part of western civilization..."

You mean, as opposed to the Palestinians, who are chopped liver? I thought the United States was founded on the "self-evident truth" that "all men are created equal"? Apparently, some are created more equal than others. (One of history's greatest lines.)

"...and by defending Israel,..."

Once again, it is NOT the function of the U.S. government to protect people or governments in other lands. The function of the U.S. government is to protect people within U.S. borders.

"...and the only true friend of the US in the Middle East,..."

The best friend money can buy. Wouldn't a true friend say, "Enough with all the aid. You've done too much already!"?

"...our government is defending our nation, its interests, and its values at the most fundamental level."

That is a complete and utter crock.

1) As I pointed out, it USED to be a fundamental principle of the United States that "all men are created equal." Now, apparently, Jews are an "essential part of Western civilization," but Palestinians apparently don't rate as high.

2) Congressperson (and later President) James Madison, the "father of the Constitution," when a bill was brought before Congress to give aid to refugees from France rose up and said:

"I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents."

And that was for people actually IN the United States! He'd probably have a conniption about taxpayers being forced to aid people in Israel. (Or the West Bank or Gaza Strip.) (Or Egypt.)

"So is defending the values, such as honor, decency and liberty, that make live worth living, and I think all our presidents have tried to do that in their policies in regard to Israel."

It is a complete joke that our presidents have been defending "liberty" by giving $90 billion of the taxpayers' hard-earned money to people in a foreign country over the last 40 years.

"Presidents Reagan, Bush, Clinton, and Bush have all made great efforts to be fair to both sides,..."

Yes, just ask the Palestinian people about the efforts by Reagan, Bush, Clinton, and Bush to be fair to their side.

But more importantly, it's very unfortunate that Reagan, Bush, Clinton, and Bush all forgot that they were/are presidents of the United States, and not the world. If, after they served their terms, they were interested in using whatever prestige they'd acquired by being former Presidents, to try to solve the incredibly complicated and emotionally charged problems between Israelis and Palestinians, I'd have no problems with that. But while they are U.S. Presidents, they SHOULD serve people in the U.S.

Posted by: Mark Bahner on August 15, 2003 09:24 AM

"You miss the point. The US gives Israel billions of $/yr. We can give them a choice: you do what we say, or you don't get any more free $ from us."

I have a much better suggestion. Stop giving them billions of $/yr, and simultaneously stop telling them what to do.

AND stop giving money to the Palestinians (and Egyptians). And stop telling THEM what to do.

"For the solution to the Israel–Palestine conflict is also in plain sight. Israel exists. The Palestinians and other Arabs will eventually accept this; many already do."

But many other Palestinians and Arabs will never accept that Israel exists. What is the solution to that?

Posted by: Mark Bahner on August 15, 2003 09:38 AM

Reply to Mark Bahner:

Isolationism as a foreign policy makes no sense and has nothing to do with the real world.

All men are created equal, but not systems of government and economic systems are equal, nor or all peoples equal in their moral development. Constitutional democracy is superior to dicatorship, and market econonomies are superior to command economies.

The Palestinians deserve a state, but only if it is peaceful and democratic and not a threat to others. The last thing this world needs is one more squalid Middle Eastern dictatorship.

Posted by: Joe Willingham on August 15, 2003 11:20 AM

Mark Bahner writes:

"(Just like they don't listen to what Osama bin Laden very plainly says...i.e., Osama bin Laden wants the infidels out of the country of Mecca and Medina.)"

President Bush is quite aware of the need to get the troops out of SA, and I don't think they'll be there much longer. The troops were stationed there at the invitation of the Saudi government to protect the kingdom against Saddam Hussein. With the end of Saddam's regime, they are no longer needed.

Posted by: Joe Willingham on August 15, 2003 11:31 AM

Seymour Hersh already busted the "Bush assassination" fiction. It's amazing that most educated people still aren't aware how bogus the story is:

http://vander.hashish.com/articles/misc/husseinbushassassination.html

Also interesting is the article about Hersh in the latest CJR:

http://www.cjr.org/year/03/4/sherman.asp

Posted by: ETC on August 15, 2003 11:35 AM

Mark Bahner writes:

"(Just like they don't listen to what Osama bin Laden very plainly says...i.e., Osama bin Laden wants the infidels out of the country of Mecca and Medina.)"

President Bush is quite aware of the need to get the troops out of SA, and I don't think they'll be there much longer. The troops were stationed there at the invitation of the Saudi government to protect the kingdom against Saddam Hussein. With the end of Saddam's regime, they are no longer needed.

Posted by: Joe Willingham on August 15, 2003 11:36 AM

The peace plan quoted by Stephen J. Fromm above is essentially what Bill Clinton and Ehud Barak offered the Palestinians in December 2000. According to Dennis Ross, who was at the table, the Palestinian negotiators wanted to accept it, but Yassir Arafat turned it down.

Since then Arafat has said that he accepts the plan. The saying is that the Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.

Posted by: Joe Willingham on August 15, 2003 12:08 PM
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