February 02, 2003
Two Views of the U.S.-European Conflict Over the Middle East

Two views of U.S.-European friction over Iraq:

From the Washington Post:

January 24: ...One French official argued that the American military's failure to hunt down Osama bin Laden and other members of Al Qaeda's top command had led Mr. Bush to search for "easier but less important prey."

"Terrorists are a hundred times more likely to obtain a weapon of mass destruction from Pakistan than from Iraq," one senior European official said, not permitting a reporter to identify even his nationality because tensions with Washington are so high. "North Korea is far more likely to sell whatever it's got. But can we say this in public? Can we have a real debate about priorities? Not with George Bush."

This sense that many European officials have of dealing with an American president who makes up his mind and then will accept no argument is a central element in the current friction.

In interviews, German and French officials acknowledge that Mr. Bush's goal -- the disarmament of Iraq and ouster of Mr. Hussein -- would be best in an ideal world. In the next breath, though, they argue that for now, the containment of Mr. Hussein's power -- with inspectors keeping the Iraqi leader off balance for months -- is a perfectly acceptable second choice.

While Vice President Dick Cheney has argued that a show of military might will begin to change the map of the Middle East, German and French officials say it will more likely lead to a radicalization of the Arab world...

And Tom Friedman:

Ah, Those Principled Europeans: It's not that there are no serious arguments to be made against war in Iraq. There are plenty. It's just that so much of what one hears coming from German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and French President Jacques Chirac are not serious arguments. They are station identification.

They are not the arguments of people who have really gotten beyond the distorted Arab press and tapped into what young Arabs are saying about their aspirations for democracy and how much they blame Saddam Hussein and his ilk for the poor state of their region. Rather, they are the diplomatic equivalent of smoking cancerous cigarettes while rejecting harmless G.M.O.'s ? an assertion of identity by trying to be whatever the Americans are not, regardless of the real interests or stakes...


February 2, 2003

Ah, Those Principled Europeans

By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN

BRUSSELS -- Last week I went to lunch at the Hotel Schweizerhof in Davos, Switzerland, and discovered why America and Europe are at odds. At the bottom of the lunch menu was a list of the countries that the lamb, beef and chicken came from. But next to the meat imported from the U.S. was a tiny asterisk, which warned that it might contain genetically modified organisms ? G.M.O.'s.

My initial patriotic instinct was to order the U.S. beef and ask for it "tartare," just for spite. But then I and my lunch guest just looked at each other and had a good laugh. How quaint! we said. Europeans, out of some romantic rebellion against America and high technology, were shunning U.S.-grown food containing G.M.O.'s ? even though there is no scientific evidence that these are harmful. But practically everywhere we went in Davos, Europeans were smoking cigarettes ? with their meals, coffee or conversation ? even though there is indisputable scientific evidence that smoking can kill you. In fact, I got enough secondhand smoke just dining in Europe last week to make me want to have a chest X-ray.

So pardon me if I don't take seriously all the Euro-whining about the Bush policies toward Iraq ? for one very simple reason: It strikes me as deeply unserious. It's not that there are no serious arguments to be made against war in Iraq. There are plenty. It's just that so much of what one hears coming from German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and French President Jacques Chirac are not serious arguments. They are station identification.

They are not the arguments of people who have really gotten beyond the distorted Arab press and tapped into what young Arabs are saying about their aspirations for democracy and how much they blame Saddam Hussein and his ilk for the poor state of their region. Rather, they are the diplomatic equivalent of smoking cancerous cigarettes while rejecting harmless G.M.O.'s ? an assertion of identity by trying to be whatever the Americans are not, regardless of the real interests or stakes.

And where this comes from, alas, is weakness. Being weak after being powerful is a terrible thing. It can make you stupid. It can make you reject U.S. policies simply to differentiate yourself from the world's only superpower. Or, in the case of Mr. Chirac, it can even prompt you to invite Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe ? a terrible tyrant ? to visit Paris just to spite Tony Blair. Ah, those principled French.

"Power corrupts, but so does weakness," said Josef Joffe, editor of Germany's Die Zeit newspaper. "And absolute weakness corrupts absolutely. We are now living through the most critical watershed of the postwar period, with enormous moral and strategic issues at stake, and the only answer many Europeans offer is to constrain and contain American power. So by default they end up on the side of Saddam, in an intellectually corrupt position."

The more one sees of this, the more one is convinced that the historian Robert Kagan, in his very smart new book "Of Paradise and Power," is right: "Americans are from Mars and Europeans are from Venus." There is now a structural gap between America and Europe, which derives from the yawning power gap, and this produces all sorts of resentments, insecurities and diverging attitudes as to what constitutes the legitimate exercise of force.

I can live with this difference. But Europe's cynicism and insecurity, masquerading as moral superiority, is insufferable. Each year at the Davos economic forum protesters are allowed to march through the north end of town, where last year they broke shop windows. So this year, on demonstration day, all the shopkeepers on that end of town closed. But when I walked by their shops in the morning, I noticed that three of them had put up signs in their windows that said, "U.S.A. No War in Iraq."

I wondered to myself: Why did the shopkeepers at the lingerie store suddenly decide to express their antiwar sentiments? Well, the demonstrators came and left without getting near these shops. And guess what? As soon as they were gone, the antiwar signs disappeared. They had been put up simply as window insurance ? to placate the demonstrators so they wouldn't throw stones at them.

As I said, there are serious arguments against the war in Iraq, but they have weight only if they are made out of conviction, not out of expedience or petulance ? and if they are made by people with real beliefs, not identity crises.

Posted by DeLong at February 02, 2003 12:41 PM | Trackback

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Comments

Friedman hits it quite right on this one, ISTM.

I can think of a bunch of credible reasons to be to wary of fighting a war in Iraq -- but one next-to-never hears them from the anti-war people. Instead 90% of their arguments boil down to plain anti-Americanism.

From the Europeans we get all kinds of attepts to tie up American power to compensate for their own weakness, dressed up in bogus posturing about their moral superiority -- and why not, as they know we'll let them free ride on US power anyhow? (They sure weren't reluctant to have the US bomb Serbia into regime change when they thought it in their interest -- and they weren't having any nonsense *then* about UN approval or giving Russia or China the chance to veto it at the Security Council).

From the domestic anti-war types we get the new "we are unworthy" isolationism. Somebody recently pointed out that up until the last third of the 20th Century US isolationists believed that the rest of the world was unworthy of having US blood spilled or money spent on its behalf. But since then it's reversed. Now the isolationists here believe that it is the US that is morally unworthy to intervene abroad -- at least without the sanction of such moral stalwarts on the Security Council as Syria, China, Russia, etc.

But all that anti-Americanism is the opposite of convincing, as it's all a substitute for looking at the merits of the case (which would awkwardly involve rationalizing liberal defense of mass-murdering dictators, probably on realpolitick grounds. It's much simpler to just say "America bad".)

Hey, what the heck is France still doing as a permanent member of the Security Council anyhow?
Just what has it contributed to world security since abandoning Czechoslovakia in 1938? Algeria, VietNam, pulling out of NATO during the cold war ... its most successful exercise of force on the world stage seems to have been bombing the Rainbow Warrior.

>> Being weak after being powerful is a terrible thing. It can make you stupid....
>> "Power corrupts, but so does weakness," said Josef Joffe, editor of Germany's Die Zeit newspaper. "And absolute weakness corrupts absolutely." <<

Sounds about right to me.

Posted by: Jim Glass on February 2, 2003 04:28 PM

As much as I agree that most of the anti-war arguments, and Europe's specifically, make no sense, engage me in a hypothetical here:

You're the president of the United States. There's lot of benefits to having the rest of the first world nations on board for your invasion of Iraq. What do you do?

1) Reasonably make a case that Saddam, in addition to being the reincarnation of Joseph Stalin, will be a major threat to the world economy if he ever gets his hands on a nuke.

2) Lie with a straight face to the entire world about Saddam's links to terrorism. Throw in some nonsense about how Saddam will nuke NYC.

Whatever you choose, let's say Europe isn't buying it. What do you do?

1) Work in a back channel manner to get everyone on board (bribe France with promises of oil contracts, if necessary, lean on 'em, whatever).

2) Engage in the diplomatic equivalent of kicking Europe in the crotch.

I can't help but think that if Bush I was running this war, Europe would be on board. Oh yes, the above also applies to South Korea's dislike of our handling of North Korea.

Posted by: Jason McCullough on February 2, 2003 05:13 PM

This is a problem I find with protest movements generally: good reasons against fighting Iraq (or reasons that strike me as good) can be found in Op-Ed/Ed pages, blogs, conversations with friends, etc (bad reasons for or against the war can be found in the sources too, needless to say, but occassionally there are good arguments).

But then I go look at the posters that advertise a protest against the war on Iraq: they all sound like they were written by an 11-year old Noam Chomsky groupie. "Resist Fascist American Imperialism and oppression of the Iraqi people!" they say, or something like it. Perhaps one they actually get to the protests, they voice valid arguments, but I've always been SO turned off by the posters that I've never felt any reason to do so.

I wish that they held a teach-in or something that didn't sound like it was titled by an anti-American idiot. Maybe some teach-in that talked about the possible scenarios and consequences of the war -- good and bad -- and talked about alternatives to war and the possible good and bad consequences of those courses of action?

I know I'm not the only one at the University of Chicago who's an American patriot, a moderate leftoid, and an opponent of invading Iraq (gosh, that sentence makes me sound really spineless for some reason, doesn't it?). I suppose the main reason is that we're not highly motivated types. Oh, sure, we'll give a bit to charity here, sign a petition there, but unlike the pacifist and anti-American folks who are more passionate about the issue, we usually aren't willing to stand around in the cold missing classes protesting. David Kenner, BTW, runs a blog called An Age Like This. He has some interesting pictures from protests near the bottom of the page. He's rather conservative and an interesting read (IMHO, his commentary is not at its most insightful in the protest picture comments, but the pictures are good enough not to need great commenting).

Posted by: Julian Elson on February 2, 2003 07:03 PM

Julian - I don't know which protest you went to; from the thousands of signs I saw in SF, few if were as innane as your straw man example. This being my first protest, I was bracing myself for cringe-inducing moments. There were very few. It was quite positive overall.

Posted by: Steve on February 2, 2003 07:37 PM

I thank Instapundit.com for this bit of information:

"WILLIAM SJOSTROM reports that traditionally anti-American columnist Julie Burchill has decided to weigh in in favor of war with Iraq -- and in The Guardian, no less. Excerpt:

The new enemies of America, and of the west in general, believe that these countries promote too much autonomy, freedom and justice. They are the opposite of socialism even more than they are the opposite of capitalism. They are against light, love, life - and to attempt to pass them the baton of enlightenment borne by the likes of Mandela and Guevara is woefully to misunderstand the nature and desires of what Christopher Hitchens (a life-long man of the left) described as "Islamo-fascism".

When you look back at the common sense and progressiveness of arguments against American intervention in Vietnam, Chile and the like, you can't help but be struck by the sheer befuddled babyishness of the pro-Saddam apologists.

She then proceeds to demolish the standard lefty arguments against war ("it's all about oil," etc.). As Sjostrom notes: "This is simply a massive admission from a figure on the British left. For Americans, imagine if Ramsey Clark admitted that the war might be a good idea.""

http://www.guardian.co.uk/Columnists/Column/0,5673,885771,00.html

Posted by: David Thomson on February 2, 2003 07:38 PM

Julian -
As a fellow U of C student, who also opposes the war, the reason the posters here are so stupid is the heavy presence of Trotskyist groups in Hyde Park, who, when they aren't handing out newspapers, are defending various indefesible dictators. Most of the anti-war left (including the students on campus) are much more reasonable.

Posted by: Sam TH on February 2, 2003 08:09 PM

Whoever Sjostrom is, he doesn't know much about the British left. The idea that Julie Burchill (former punk rock critic, current mixed bag columnist) is a major figure on the British left is as laughable as most of Prof instapundit's sources usually are. The idea that she "demolishes" anti-war arguments can only be held by those who haven't read her column.

More broadly, I think that this is probably the worst Tom Friedman piece I have ever seen. Friedman, after all, supports (in the end) this war for completely different reasons than the Bush Administration offers for fighting it.

Or, to put it another way, he could just as easily today have written "It's not that there aren't serious arguments to be made against the war. It's just that those aren't the arguments being made by George Bush."

As for his claim that the arguments against the war in Europe are "unserious," it's hard to know what to make of such a claim. Does it not cross Friedman's mind that France and Germany honestly think this is a foolish and dangerous venture that the Bush Administration is embarking upon in a foolish and dangerous way? What's so unserious about that?

Posted by: howard on February 2, 2003 08:14 PM

Whoever Sjostrom is, he doesn't know much about the British left. The idea that Julie Burchill (former punk rock critic, current mixed bag columnist) is a major figure on the British left is as laughable as most of Prof instapundit's sources usually are. The idea that she "demolishes" anti-war arguments can only be held by those who haven't read her column.

More broadly, I think that this is probably the worst Tom Friedman piece I have ever seen. Friedman, after all, supports (in the end) this war for completely different reasons than the Bush Administration offers for fighting it.

Or, to put it another way, he could just as easily today have written "It's not that there aren't serious arguments to be made for the war. It's just that those aren't the arguments being made by George Bush."

As for his claim that the arguments against the war in Europe are "unserious," it's hard to know what to make of such a claim. Does it not cross Friedman's mind that France and Germany honestly think this is a foolish and dangerous venture that the Bush Administration is embarking upon in a foolish and dangerous way? What's so unserious about that?

Posted by: howard on February 2, 2003 08:16 PM

Have you heard the expression "why lie when the truth will do?"

It sounds as though all the anti-anti-Americanism is, is defining the opposition as anti USA rather than anti some other thing, buttressing this from a discerned set of motives for being anti-American in the first place, then dismissing the whole lot. This is very like an ad hominem argument.

First off, the broad church of people who are against what is going on - frankly, including me - are not necessarily anti-American. Second, even of those that are, establishing that is in no sense establishing the unsoundness of their position. They - the anti-Americans, that is, not the mere opponents like me - may or may not be right, but seeing them for what they are doesn't get at that. They may well be cunningly hiding behind the truth; as Homer Simpson said, "Facts! You can prove anything with facts!". Being cunning old Europeans, they wouldn't be tempted into some scorpion-like deceit for the sake of deceit if they just happened to have the facts on their side (for once).

So it behoves the USA to look at the arguments in their own right. Cigarettes being harmful in no way addresses the issue of whether Genetic Engineering is (and there ARE subtle arguments against, which space does not permit me to address just here); and similarly Saddam Hussein being a *Bad Guy* in no sense addresses the question of whether the actions contemplated against him would be constructive for the world as a whole (more nearly my own concern) or even for the USA itself, in either the short or the long term. It's like refusing to consider whether cigarettes are harmful on the grounds that the Nazis thought they were harmful (which, not by coincidence for my choice of example, they did - and, not by coincidence, led to the matter not being considered for a whole lost decade).

So, to return to where I started, this piece is nothing but a rhetorical exercise in taking people's eyes off the ball, regardless of the accuracy or otherwise of the substantive matters asserted in it. They are all distractions from the essence of the matter.

Posted by: P.M.Lawrence on February 2, 2003 09:18 PM

Ah, poor Mr Bush. Another idealistic, innocent American falling foul of decadent European corruption and perfidy (and no, I'm neither American or European). Do you not think it possible that European suspicions of Mr Bush's motives and scepticism as to his chosen means might be well-founded?

I used to repect Tom Friedman. Now I think he's become a useful idiot - he needs to go and live in the Middle East again for a while to restore his scepticism. And I agree that this column plumbs a new low for him.

Posted by: derrida derider on February 2, 2003 10:29 PM

Steve: I actually haven't gone to a protest yet. I'm not really interested in protesting specifically (though I haven't ruled it out either), but the ads for the so prejudiced me against them that I had no interest in finding out more information about them. Maybe they didn't have bad content, but the marketing was bad enough that I had no interest in even finding out what their content was.

Sam: Thanks for the info! I know that the students here are rarely doctrinaire leftists (for the most part, at least: there are doubtless some, but I have yet to meet one and get to know him/her extensively). It's good to know why it seems that way from some our protest organizations (well, part of it's that any protest is, and should be, biased: a protest's purpose is to advocate, not to inform impartially).

I took a free newspaper from a Lyndon LaRouche cultist who was advocating him for President in 2004 in front of the Regenstein. Arguing with Lyndon LaRouche advocates is always fun, though given how quick they are to compare those who disagree with them to Hitler, they must not be too much fun in places like blog comment segments where Godwin's law is in place.

Err... I'm drifting off topic, aren't I! Well, as for the Europeans... Friedman talks about them as a solid, homogeneous mass. Reagan might remind him that they're all different countries, and all different people even within those countries. There are undoubtably silly, insincere aspects of Europeans' arguments, and undoubtably others that are serious and honest, that they would be saying were they Americans and not jealous Europeans.

Sure, that's an obvious point, but it's not something one would know from reading that column.

Julian Elson

Posted by: Julian Elson on February 2, 2003 11:00 PM

Just one point:

>>in the case of Mr. Chirac, it can even prompt you to invite Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe - a terrible tyrant - to visit Paris just to spite Tony Blair<<

*ahem*

1) Mugabe is Prime Minister of Zimbabwe, not President.
2) Mugabe was to have been invited to a summit of African leaders being held in France. He would have been the guest of this summit, not Chirac
3) Mugabe did *not* in fact attend this summit, as he is banned from entering the EU.
4) Chirac did ask the UK whether it would consider a waiver of the travel ban for the purposes of the summit. We said no.
5) As quid pro quo for the waiver, Chirac offered to drop French opposition to further trade sanctions against Zimbabwe.

If a man can't be bothered to get such a minor detail right, why the hell should I believe his windy generalisations about "European arguments?". Friedman does not strike me as the sort of man who is capable of stopping his mouth from flapping long enough to hear anyone else's arguments about anything.

Posted by: dsquared on February 2, 2003 11:54 PM

I go look at the posters that advertise a protest

here and here you go. nice, wholesome, patriotic, flag-waving, pro-american anti-iraq-war posters. since you yourself have anti-war sentiments, and since you are just itching to get involved, you can post them up yourself.

that way your friends and neighbours won't be saying things like "how come i never see any nice posters?"

Posted by: unseller on February 3, 2003 12:06 AM

I go look at the posters that advertise a protest

here and here you go. nice, wholesome, patriotic, flag-waving, pro-american anti-iraq-war posters. since you yourself have anti-war sentiments, and since you are just itching to get involved, you can post them up yourself.

that way your friends and neighbours won't be saying things like "how come i never see any nice posters?"

Posted by: unseller on February 3, 2003 12:07 AM

Reading these comments while remembering my time as a graduate student at the U of C, I am not surprised that these high-minded posters imagine it terribly vulgar to go so far as to demonstrate in opposition to Bush's blood-oil-power-lust. They would sign online petitions, perhaps even write a letter to a congress(wo)man, but god forbid being seen among protesters carrying signs bearing reductive slogans! Forgive me for finding my fellow wannabe intellectuals lacking in much practical sense, even as little as might be necessary to make a protest sign. They should know that sometimes philosophical and political arguments require one to become more than a sign, more than a signature on an email; sometimes one needs to also risk one's own body (not the bodies of others) in order to turn ideals into actualilty. At the very least, go make a sign that expresses a complex thought.

S

Posted by: Sam on February 3, 2003 12:18 AM

with inspectors keeping the Iraqi leader off balance for months OK I'm not an expert in this, but what I understand is that either it's soon or much later, given the summer heat in Iraq and the fact that you can't keep reservists (and indeed troops) from their jobs and families just training in the desert over a long period of time.

Posted by: Andrew Boucher on February 3, 2003 03:51 AM

In Jason McCollough's own words:

"Tuesday, January 28, 2003

I think my fellow liberals are making a mistake by opposing an invasion of Iraq. I crammed the argument into two lines in the last post, but that's not going to convince anyone. Here's the history of my reasoning:

Like all good liberals, I can't stand Bush. I thought he wanted to invade Iraq for the oil, he's a goddamn idiot; Richard Perle is a complete fucking crackpot, and so on.

Then I stumbled on this article, and it really made me wonder. It's what the big hitters of modern liberalism, and specifically what the more hawkish ones, think about Iraq. They give the usual well-reasoned objections, but there's an interesting subtext to it, that I hadn't given all that much thought to before: the use of war by the US & EU to stop genocide in the Balkans brought the hawkish liberal, last seen at the beginning of WWII, back from the dead. It fundamentally altered the views of lots of people whose reasoning I respect."

It's time for Jason McCollough to either crap or get off the pot. A short time ago, he engaged in disgraceful and cowardly moral equivalent statements concerning Israel. Presently, he's talking out of both side of his mouth over Iraq. I know that he prefers being perceived as a well behaved member of the political correct Left, but this is getting ridiculous. There's more to life than being a knee jerk Liberal.

Posted by: David Thomson on February 3, 2003 05:21 AM

"...with inspectors keeping the Iraqi leader off balance for months OK I'm not an expert in this, but what I understand is that either it's soon or much later, given the summer heat in Iraq and the fact that you can't keep reservists (and indeed troops) from their jobs and families just training in the desert over a long period of time."

Yep, that's right. This is the point that is also swaying Neo-Liberal Josh Marshall to advocate for the invasion of Iraq:

"Waiting indefinitely isn't necessarily as easy as it sounds. One of the arguments I found most convincing in Pollack's book was that Saddam's ability to play the inspections game is inherently more elastic than ours. His freedom of action is far greater and far more sustainable.

Simply put, he's there. We're not. Or, at least, not in strength. Here's the argument: We've now mobilized a big force to the region. And as long as we're there with our finger at the trigger, he's going to lie very, very low -- as he's doing now. But we can't keep those troops there indefinitely. For money and preparedness reasons we'll eventually have to draw down. Then Saddam can start gaming the system again because our ability to retaliate will be greatly diminished. Then we build up again and Saddam draws back again. That could go on forever. Unfortunately, it's easy for Saddam to go back and forth, but very hard for us. We can't just send a quarter million drops back and forth to the Gulf a couple times a year. It's easy for him but it'll eventually bleed us dry.

Eventually, we'd just have to say, 'Okay, this is lame. We're going to have to settle this once and for all.' Folks like Pollack, certainly the hawks in the administration, and possibly now Colin Powell too, think we're already at that point. And I'm not at all certain they're wrong."

Posted by: David Thomson on February 3, 2003 05:30 AM

Delightful that David Thomson states "we are going to have to settle this once and for all." Enlisted yet Dave? Or is this the royal "we"? As in "we need to have the servants go out and kill that fellow." In the real world, actual human beings are being sent to die and kill, based on justifications so flimsy and shifting that its obvious our unelected boy-king doesn't feel a need to minimally disguise his contempt for the audience. The academic hacks will applaud or at least salute when told, the press moos, and the people better do what they are told.


Posted by: citizen k on February 3, 2003 06:28 AM

I realize that I'm preaching mostly to the chior here on this "anti-American, anti-war" thing, but the most famous version of the "My country, right or wrong" (the Carl Schurz version), finished up "When right, to be kept right; when wrong, to be put right." That sounds right.

One may disagree with the anti-war protestors, but tarring them (you?) as anti-American seems a bit much. They think their country is wrong and want to put it right. There are always exceptions, but that is true on both sides. I have no doubt that there are those among the pro-war crowd who think taking over Iraq is a good idea because it is full of Muslims and has oil, but I doubt that is the motive for the mainstream.

Posted by: K Harris on February 3, 2003 06:53 AM

"One may disagree with the anti-war protestors, but tarring them (you?) as anti-American seems a bit much."


I agree completely with you, and have never accused all of the anti-protesters with being anti-American. Instead, I describe them as ultra-isolationists conservatives or utopian liberals. Also, a high number are so viscerally hostile toward President Bush and the Republicans that they act like immature children. They don't care about evidence--these folks just want to find any excuse to attack their political opposites. In their heart of hearts, they conclude: “If George Bush is for a certain course of action, then I must be against it!”

Can I be charged with hypocrisy? Nope, I strongly backed President Clinton during the Balkans crisis.

Posted by: David Thomson on February 3, 2003 07:17 AM

I've never taken Tom Friedman very seriously--given his background and connections, he would be more effective speaking out against Israel's continuing slide into apartheid than trying to lecture arabs about their countries' lack of democracy and their youth's propensity to terrorism. Will any arabs listen to him? I doubt it.

It's time for me to take some flak here not because of my opposition to the war but because of the dissident (not liberal) reasons I arrived at it, which people like Dent, DT, and Jim Glass will probably find repellent. Here's a distillation of some previous posts I have made:

(1) European opposition to invading Iraq does not just extend to "weasels" like Gerhard Schroeder and Jacques Chirac. Everywhere in the region one looks at the polls, there is general agreement that the U.S. is rushing in too quickly and should give time to the inspectors to come to an unequivocal conclusion. This means that many European leaders--Berlusconi, Aznar, and above all Blair--are rightly or wrongly going out on a limb by supporting the U.S.

(2) To accuse not just Chirac and Schroeder but also the French and German people of cowardice on this issue is stupid and contemptible. The French in particular are not averse to foreign military intervention, as their numerous, and sometimes ill-fated adventures in post-colonial Africa and Indochina have shown. The number of Frenchmen and Germans who loathe Saddam Hussein is thousands of times greater than the number of French and German businessmen who trade with his regime.

(3) What Glass and DT call anti-americanism is in actual fact a strong and justified distrust of U.S. administrations, the Bush one in particular. In answer to the retort that being anti-U.S. government is also being anti-american, one can only answer that the U.S. government today functions as a corporate oligarchy which is able to bypass or neutralize democratic institutions. What DT calls a visceral dislike of Bush is, in most sensible opponents of the war, not a dislike of the man himself but of the institutional structure which put him in power and which is pushing for this war.

(4) It is unlikely that the people of Iraq will be made better off by an invasion, even considering the brutality of Saddam Hussein. In the first case, we have to consider that the usual U.S. military overkill, aimed at minimizing american ground casualties, may lead to the loss of thousands of civilian lives. Second, in order to maintain its presence in Iraq as well as its access to cheaply-priced Iraqui oil, the Bush adm. will not install a truly democratic regime after Hussein is gone. More likely, you'll get someone who is less psychopathic but as dictatorial as Hussein (e.g., an Iraqui equivalent of the Shah of Iran or Hafez Assad). Or possibly you'll get an ostentibly democratic committee of Iraqui puppets of the Bush administration. Doubt this? This is the same system of government in the U.S. which has found it convenient to support men with names like Suharto, Pinochet, Videla, Diem, Saddam Hussein himself, and the Shah of Iran before him.

(5) To say that the Iraqui people will not fight because of their hatred of Saddam Hussein may be too optimistic. Someone here mentioned Joseph Stalin as Hussein's spiritual ancestor. If there is any regime which should have deservedly collapsed after being invaded, it was Stalin's, but it didn't. The people of Iraq have had to endure extensive bombing and sanctions, and I am afraid that if the average U.S. soldier thinks of arabs and muslims the way DT does, than he will find that contempt all too well reciprocated.

(6) The continual shifting of the Bush adm. between pointing at Hussein's weapons of mass-destruction (which, if they are there, are almost certain to be used in the case of an invasion) and pointing to a putative and so far unsupported link with Al-Qaeda indicates that the Bush adm. does not actually have an overwhelming rationale for this war and only wishes to invade because it personally wants it. Again, the possibility of selling low-priced oil to the world market looms large here, since Perle and Wolfowitz were talking about invading well before 9/11 and since Saddam Hussein's WMD's have been a danger since well before 1991, when he went from being a U.S. ally to persona non-grata. The whole Bush position smacks of hypocrisy even if one grants that hypocrisy is not sufficient to be in opposition to the war.

That's enough for now, but I welcome non-knee jerk comments on these points.

Posted by: andres on February 3, 2003 08:57 AM

Let us remember that this is a preemptive war against a country that has not and is not threatening the US. We have also not heard how many casualties to expect, how much it will cost, how it will either help or hurt the war on terrorism, what the US is going to do after it "wins," plus a myriad of other questions. Instead we get disinformation about aluminum tubes, and supposed justice for 15 y.o. atrocities. It is encumbent on the warhawks to explain why this war is absolutely necessary right now. When instead they resort to name-calling, it betrays how weak their argument is.

Posted by: Rich Phillips on February 3, 2003 09:03 AM

Let us remember that this is a preemptive war against a country that has not and is not threatening the US. We have also not heard how many casualties to expect, how much it will cost, how it will either help or hurt the war on terrorism, what the US is going to do after it "wins," plus a myriad of other questions. Instead we get disinformation about aluminum tubes, and supposed justice for 15 y.o. atrocities. It is encumbent on the warhawks to explain why this war is absolutely necessary right now. When instead they resort to name-calling, it betrays how weak their argument is.

Posted by: Rich Phillips on February 3, 2003 09:05 AM

It was said above and has often been said elsewhere that some people refuse to support this war because just because they dislike Bush so much. This makes it seem as if we're in a snit because of some personal slight, or maybe because Bush killed one of our pork barrel programs, or something like that.

Speaking for myself, I don't like Bush because 1.) he seems to plan to transform America (tax structure, criminal and civil law, environmental law, church-and-state, etc.) more radically than any President since FDR, but for the worse; 2.) as Delong has argued at length, some of these plans seem economically disastrous; 3.) he is aggressively taking advantage of the crisis atmosphere to promote doomestic plans unrelated to the crisis; 4.) his planned transformation of the international system seems at least as ambitious as his planned domestic transformation, and approaches old-time imperialism; 5.) his arguments for the war are not convincing, mostly because they occult his actual motives and 6.) there are reasons to have serious doubts about Bush's character -- the Presidency is the first tough job he's ever had. Even a lot of Iraq hawks have their doubts about whether Bush is a man who can be trusted with the job.

And let me say in advance -- calling an idea paranoid or calling it a conspiracy theory is **Not an Argument**.

I really think that it's a mistake to argue the Iraq war on its own terms, rather than as part of a larger plan. This is a proactive war. Under other circumstances we could tolerate Iraq for another 10 years; we could even start selling Iraq arms again. Bush has a plan: what is it? (Note: in a military context, "proactive" can mean "aggressive".)

I have a lot of stuff on the front page of my site and also on this page.

Posted by: Zizka on February 3, 2003 09:17 AM

So let's see, Friedman wants to argue that Europe's arguments against Iraq are unserious, and how does he begin his argument?

By pointing to this telling European inconsistency: worrying, on the one hand, about genetically modified food and being nonchalant, on the other hand, about smoking.

Friedman is always his own best parody.

Posted by: frankly0 on February 3, 2003 09:38 AM

"It is unlikely that the people of Iraq will be made better off by an invasion, even considering the brutality of Saddam Hussein"

Does anybody actually believe that the Iraqis will not have a better chance of living a decent life with the removal of Saddam Hussein? My imagination is running wild: "It is unlikely that the Jews of Germany will be made better off by an invasion, even considering the brutality of Adolph Hitler."

Posted by: David Thomson on February 3, 2003 09:47 AM

Andres: Friedman has hammered Israel on its policies and politics for years. His recent "right turn" is just that: recent. I assume he will revert to form as soon as his delicate antennae permit.

Recall he also served as a willing, passive conduit for Saudi policy trial balloons not that long ago.

Posted by: Bucky Dent on February 3, 2003 09:53 AM

Zizka: Were Haiti, Somalia and Yugoslavia part of creeping American imperialism?

Posted by: Bucky Dent on February 3, 2003 10:00 AM

David Thomson wrote, Does anybody actually believe that the Iraqis will not have a better chance of living a decent life with the removal of Saddam Hussein?

As I wrote in a letter to The New York Times a week or so ago, in reference to
another idiotic Friedman column, Thomas L. Friedman claims that liberals like me "under-appreciate the value of removing Saddam Hussein" ("Thinking About Iraq (I)," column, Jan. 22).

I agree that the world would be a better place if Mr. Hussein were removed from power, but there is little evidence in the historical record to support Mr. Friedman's premise that the United States will build an "accountable, progressive and democratizing regime" in Iraq after we prevail in a military conflict there.

Anyone who shares my judgement that Friedman is a clown should check out this

funny parody
of his writing
style at The American Prospect.

Posted by: Stephen J Fromm on February 3, 2003 10:07 AM

Another reason to oppose going to war in Iraq is that the Bush administration is thoroughly incompetent at waging war. Look at Afghanistan. They looked the other way while the Pakistanis flew hundreds of bad guys out of Afghanistan. They were unwilling to take the political risks involved with using American ground troops to seal the mountain passes along the Pakistani border, with the result that even more bad guys got away.

Why should we trust that they won't screw Iraq up?

...whoops, I forgot---right-wingers like Bush are ipso facto competent and tough (even if they deserted military service).

Posted by: Stephen J Fromm on February 3, 2003 10:19 AM

Andres,

Thanks for the thoughtful poost: I find things to agree with and disagree with in your post but it is thought provoking.

With regard to your point 5), the question of why Russians fought so hard for Stalin, I think you are right to point out that the despotic nature of the leader does not always predict how much people will fight to protect that leader, but I think a much larger part of the story is the nature of the attacking force. I think Russians fought hard not because they liked Stalin but because they feared the Nazis more. So the critical issue is how much we are welcomed by the Iraqis, and I think this will be more of a liberation than a conquest.

This does not mean that I believe everything will go smoothly: it is in fact precisely why I would have liked this to be less of a rush to war because the more international support we have, the more likely that the Iraqi people view it as a liberation. Alas I fear that the saber rattling makes the Administration not look like a liberator as much as a conquistador, but I hope that is not true.

Posted by: achilles on February 3, 2003 10:25 AM

I can think of a bunch of credible reasons to be to wary of fighting a war in Iraq -- but one next-to-never hears them from the anti-war people.

Jim Glass, I think it would further the debate if you would post the reasons to wary of fighting a war in Iraq that you find credible.

Posted by: Tom on February 3, 2003 10:50 AM

Bucky Dent: I'm mostly talking about things that haven't happened yet -- the aftermath of the victory in Iraq.

Haiti, Somalia, and Yugoslavia, did not seem to be attempts to reconfigure the whole world order, but fairly local and transitional in intent. But see below.

The trial ballons coming out of Bush's administration talk about regime change involving multiple regimes, a war on terror comparable to the Cold War in scope (ie, lasting 4 decades or so), military proponderance (ie., the idea that we can defeat any two enemies at the same time without help from any other nation). These proposals are those only of the Cheney-Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz-Perle-New American Future branch of the administration, but this seems to be the branch that has Bush's ear at the moment.

Frankly, the religious roots of Bush's thinking also bother me, especially since one major tendency in the religious right thinks that Armageddon is a goal strive for. (Sorry, Im not exaggerating and I'm not making it up. Shouldn't you be worried too?)

Back to Haiti, Somalia, and Yugoslavia -- the use of human-rights language to justify intervention can served as an entering wedge for almost any aggressive military proposal, so these three interventions have had a dubious effect as precedents. So I partly agree with what I guess is your point. BTW, except on the Monica issue I am not a blind Clintonista.

Realistically, though, great-power interventions in smallish countries in the midst of civil wars tend not to be regarded as terribly disruptive of the international system.

Many of the warbloggers (the more extreme ones) do seem to have a realistic understanding of Bush's actual plans, which they support. But like Bush, they are people whom I feel extremely uncomfortable with.

Posted by: Zizka on February 3, 2003 11:08 AM

Bucky:
Haiti -- Yes for years
Somalia -- Absolutely
Yugoslavia -- Yes but more subtly. When a country can act with impunity it can do things wrong which come from motivations that are harmless in less powerful people. Simply the US had hte luxury of being able to act without understanding the situation. It is very hard to be powerful without being imperialist.
I think "what the powerful do" is a reasonable working definition of imperialism and "no taxation [or other interference] without representation" a reasonable statement of the main objection to it.

Posted by: Jack on February 3, 2003 11:11 AM

"Many of the warbloggers (the more extreme ones) do seem to have a realistic understanding of Bush's actual plans, which they support. But like Bush, they are people whom I feel extremely uncomfortable with."

Ah, you forgot to mention that we enjoy the smell of napalm in the morning!

"I agree that the world would be a better place if Mr. Hussein were removed from power, but there is little evidence in the historical record to support Mr. Friedman's premise that the United States will build an "accountable, progressive and democratizing regime" in Iraq after we prevail in a military conflict there."

The United States could do absolutely nothing after the invasion--and the Iraqi people would likely be better off!

Posted by: David Thomson on February 3, 2003 11:15 AM

To add to Stephen J Fromm's response to David Thompson:
depends upon what you mean by "Iraqis." The Kurds for one will likely be at the mercy of Turkey. <Sarcasm>I hestiate to introduce a document from as disreputable and anti-American a source as the State Department,<Sarcasm> but this briefing of 23 October 2002 states that our policy shall be to support the "territorial integrity" of Iraq: also note that no assurances were given as to protecting the Kurds against Turkish agression. Now consider that Turkey, hesitant to allow US forces use of their bases because of their concerns about the degree autonomy the Kurds would enjoy after a war, has now allowed this, and do the math.

Moving from the north to central and southern Iraq, consider that the Ba'ath party is Sunni, that the Sunni are a minority, and that a Ba'ath party sans Saddam will almost certainly be the governing party post war. The conclusion is left as an exercise for the reader. (For more details, see Anthony Cordesman's Planning for a Self-Inflicted Wound: US Policy to Reshape a Post-Saddam Iraq, specifically sections 11, 12, 13, and 14.)

If you support the war because Saddam Hussein is a potential regional threat--and I think that's a sober assessment--or because decent access to the second largest known oil reserves in the world are of vital importance to global prosperity and security, then go ahead. These reasons are still open to debate, but they aren't the tissue of willful self-delusion--like the argument that a post Saddam Iraq will be a kinder, gentler place is.

Posted by: Curtiss Leung on February 3, 2003 11:18 AM

This whole "discussion" between Europe and the US has reached ridiculous levels and it's quite sad to see how everybody is just going for it. Europeans are complaining about US "cowboys", Americans complain about European "whining", and both sides try to top each other with accusations of hypocrisy. Has world politics suddenly become some sort of gigantic kindergarten? Doesn't the world, and that includes in particular the European and the US publics, deserve better than this? I was always thinking (or should I say: hoping) that people actually learn something from history. But when I look at what people (on both sides of the Atlantic) are saying and what they base it on and - in particular! - how they use what can only be called ridiculously distorted arguments with a complete lack of connection to reality I am only reminded of a Monty Python episode.

Posted by: Joerg C on February 3, 2003 11:26 AM

Containment of Iraq would surely mean more suffering for the Iraqi people. However, reports from New York Times reporters in Iraq have repeatedly indicated there is a significant possibility that American troops will be taken as liberators and a war will be quite short. The question then will be whether a peaceful transition to a representative state can be achieved. Such a representative state could advance the cause of peace in the Middle East and deal a great blow to terrorists everywhere.

Unless the Iraqi dictatorship is willing to give up power in the next few weeks, there will be a forced change. There will as the time for change nears be ample support from other countries for our efforts and that may further insure the efforts are quickly successful.

Posted by: BJ on February 3, 2003 11:27 AM

And the marketing understatement of the year award goes to: Tom Friedman

"Harmless G.M.O.'s" indeed.

So Europeans don't like our beef?

Hey I see a "Window of Opportunity" there!

American has far to much hegemony problems and all those huge corporate entities cornered the market via the unfair act of government control. George W. Bush jr. has done more to open and free the market place then any president before him and I'm sure Bush didn't even anticipated his affective leadership in opening up new channels in the international market place.

Like for instance that new cola called "Mecca-Cola".

Now wasn't that thinking awfully small with a name like that because the Middle East isn't the only country that's got a beef with the U.S. of A these days.

Coke and Pepsi have had a hegemony in the world but thank God for an MBA President like George W. Bush, we're all about to enter a new realm of competitive marketing like we never know before.

Can't get your new technologically innovative idea marketed here in the good old US of A? No problem, just hook up with a European outfit. Don’t like combustible engines or the high cost of fixed gasoline prices. Well it’s good thing that Bush nixed the Kyoto Protocol the way he did.

Yeah Exxon Mobil sure knew what they were doing when they pick Junior as their political CEO. Perhaps next time those company execs will actually check to make sure CEO Mr. Jeff Skilling, er I mean President George W. Bush attended any of his business classes at Yale or Harvard. You know those rich kids don’t really have to learn anything, they just show up to class every now and then.

Bush didn’t really have a very good track record for turning a profit, at least not for the businesses he ran and I don’t suppose the fossil fuel industry consider that much of a problem.

The oil industry might want to stop Honda and Toyota from marketing over here in the good ole US of A with another "paid for" and company "dictated" executive order purportedly issued from the desk of their CEO, George W. Bush.

Posted by: Cheryl on February 3, 2003 11:27 AM

ZIZKA: great-power interventions in smallish countries in the midst of civil wars tend not to be regarded as terribly disruptive of the international system.

Korea, Vietnam, Nicaragua, the Reds vs. Whites in Bolshevik [small and weak] Russia, Chiang vs. Mao in a hobbled China, arguably the ongoing war between the Med and the Jordan River...

Armageddon is a goal strive for.

I take that as seriously as I take the calls for slavery reparations. It's rhetoric that mobilizes the fringe but is not part of policy realities.

Posted by: Bucky Dent on February 3, 2003 11:28 AM

Tom above asked Jim Glass for some credible reasons for not fighting in Iraq. Here are some of mine:


  1. Regime change and disarmament by themselves would only contribute to the destablization of the region;

  2. The minimal condition necessary to mitigate--and only mitigate--such destablization would be the maintenance of the Ba'ath regime;

  3. The only realistic plan for insuring the territorial stablity of Iraq would be a post-Saddam rearmament, and this would lead to WMD proliferation in the region.

How's that? 100% "No blood for oil" free.

David Thompson:"The United States could do absolutely nothing after the invasion--and the Iraqi people would likely be better off!"

No. Saddam Hussein may be a vile, vile, vile brute, but it didn't take him a day to make Iraq into hell on earth, and it will certainly take at least as long for a credible effort to undo his attrocities. That's was quite a sharp piece of rhetoric you put out there, but it's nonsense--and you know it.

Posted by: Curtiss Leung on February 3, 2003 11:49 AM

And the marketing misstatement of the year award goes to “Thomas Friedman”.

So Europeans are “rejecting harmless G.M.O.'s”!

I see a window of opportunity here and since capitalism is often equated with freedom, so that all those conservative minded individuals shouldn’t have a problem with opportunity that is presenting its self in the international market today. If European’s don’t like our beef then that is a marketing opportunity and I say that those of us feed up with all the government controlled hegemony going on here via the sold-out US government can now exploit the situation, thereby doing what American’s do best.

For instance that new cola called “Mecca Cola”. That is a great idea but the name of the product is really thinking awfully small since there are a lot of Europeans, Africans and even Canadians that don’t care much for Coke and Pepsi’s products now. And those two corporate entities have a had a hegemony on the soft drink market for far to long.

Can't get your new technologically innovative idea marketed in the US of A? No problem, just hook up with a European outfit. Don’t like combustible engines or the high cost of fixed gasoline prices. Don’t like the space shuttle design? Well it’s good thing that Bush nixed the Kyoto Protocol and engineered a whole new wonderfully radical transformation in the geopolitical marketing environment for all those entrepreneurs out here who couldn’t get their novel ideas that could get a chance but can now looked to the international market place.

Thank God for a MBA President who believes in free markets.

Yeah Exxon/ Mobil sure knew what they were doing when they pick Junior as the CEO. Perhaps next time those company execs will actually check to make sure CEO Mr. Jeff Skilling, er….. I mean President George W. Bush attended any of his business classes at Yale or Harvard. You know those rich kids don’t really have to learn anything, they just show up to class every now and again.

AND Bush didn’t really have a very good track record for turning a profit at least not for the businesses he ran (into ground), but I don’t suppose the fossil fuel folks ever saw that as a problem.

Perhaps if the fossil fuel industry hurries they can stop Honda and Toyota from marketing over here in US with another “paid for” and “personally dictated” executive order purportedly issue from the desk of their CEO George W. Bush.

Posted by: Cheryl on February 3, 2003 12:06 PM

Oops, I didn't mean to post that twice.

Sorry

Posted by: Cheryl on February 3, 2003 12:10 PM

Bucky -- yes, I am saying that what Bush proposes is more disruptive of the existing system than any of those interventions you mentioned, some of which were intended to preserve or restore the then-existing system. Spokesmen for the Rumsfeld tendency place no real limit on their plans.

As far as I know, none of the Armageddonists is an important military-policy position, but they're a lot closer than the reparationists. (Reparations is a tiny minority position within the out-of-power Democrats). Bush's supporters are the ones saying that he feels a sense of divine mission. Frum felt like an outsider because he didn't go to White House Bible study. What are the religious beliefs at play in the White House?

I don't take Armageddon seriously either, but it bothers me that those people are major players in the Bush-Rove coalition. (Yes, they are!)

If there are any "Going Home" admirers in the White House, it's not religious bigotry to be alarmed. Any more than it would be bigotry to be worried if their were Raelians or Hamas there. Those people are nuts.

Posted by: Zizka on February 3, 2003 12:11 PM

Well if you think taking out Saddam is more disruptive than anything from the Maoist revolution to Vietnam, you're certainly entitled to your opinion, but it's a hard case to make.

And while fear of overt Christians plays well in the media and the US left, it's a non-starter politically, since the US is a majority Christian-self-identifying nation.

Posted by: Bucky Dent on February 3, 2003 12:31 PM

chancellor schroeder said before his election, why should we go after irak when we haven't even started our job in afghanistan ?
Germans and Norwegians (old E., too) are doing their job in A. Now what ?

Posted by: Hans Suter on February 3, 2003 12:47 PM

Dsquared said (and I know I'm going to regret this):

2) Mugabe was to have been invited to a summit of African leaders being held in France. He would have been the guest of this summit, not Chirac

Every news item I read said things like:
"In an inflammatory gesture, President Chirac has invited Mr Mugabe to a summit"

Are you claiming an EU bureaucrat made the invite without Chirac's knowledge? If Chirac knew, then I think you are quibbling. All Friedman complains about is the invite. He makes no claims that Mugabe showed up.

And why so quiet at your website? Michael Moore doesn't need THAT much support.

Posted by: copans on February 3, 2003 01:14 PM

The article in the Washington Post more accurately described the problem than the worst Friedman column I have ever read. I have no personal animus for George W. Bush. Indeed, I think he would probably be a good neighbor, particularly with a wife that seems so relatively thoughtful.

However, would you hire him to run a complex business? If he had been hired and you were on a strong independent board, would you keep him?

We have all seen people who are quite good at being selected for a variety of reasons and turn out to be managment disasters, pursuing stratagies based on strongly held convictions about markets, processes, etc. that were simplistically formed and turn out to be very wrong.

We and the rest of the world are stuck with GWB for at least another two years and because he and his agent Karl are quite good at being selected, perhaps for four more.

Unfortunately, the United States is not Enron or WorldCom or Arthur Anderson. Also unfortunately, not unlike these examples, our boards are packed and the opposition that might prevent a really major blunder has so far been inept.

How long does it take inept management to ruin a country?

Enough. It's time for a walk on the beach.

Sam Taylor

Posted by: Sam Taylor on February 3, 2003 02:21 PM

"Dsquared said (and I know I'm going to regret this):

2) Mugabe was to have been invited to a summit of African leaders being held in France. He would have been the guest of this summit, not Chirac..."

About a month ago Dsquared just about called me a &%$#@ scum bag for even suggesting that Liberal Europeans have a tough time opposing Robert Mugabe because he is a member of a minority group. It's much easier for them to take to task a white guy. Oh well, it looks like I was right.

Posted by: David Thomson on February 3, 2003 02:35 PM

Bucky: I wasn't talking generally about Christians, but about the Armageddon nut-cases. How many are there in the White House? Hope it's zero, but I doubt it. Does Bush believe any of that stuff? No one can be sure.

No, as I think I made clear, my problem with Bush is that I have no idea where it will end after Iraq. His own people have presented this as an open-ended, interminable war on terror involving multiple regime-changes.

Your quibbling, fisking, sniping, reactive style does not make you a good discussion partner.

Posted by: zizka on February 3, 2003 03:15 PM

Curtiss: If you support the war because Saddam Hussein is a potential regional threat--

I'm afraid so. If Saddam Hussein isn't willing to disarm, which appears to be the case, the choices facing the US are all bad; I think going to war is the least bad choice.

From Saddam's point of view, the critical question is, is the US willing to go to war or not? If it's not, then he can gradually stop cooperating with UNMOVIC, erode sanctions, build nuclear weapons, and then launch a conventional invasion of Kuwait or Saudi Arabia. If the US isn't willing to go to war now, before he has nuclear weapons, it certainly won't be willing to do so after he has nuclear weapons.

Of course the US could withdraw from the region and leave Kuwait and Saudi Arabia to Iraq. But unfortunately Israel isn't likely to stand by. And Israel has nuclear weapons. There's nothing but disaster down this road.

I think the only way the crisis is going to be resolved peacefully is if Saddam decides to disarm or goes into exile.

Posted by: Russil Wvong on February 3, 2003 03:28 PM

"I think the only way the crisis is going to be resolved peacefully is if Saddam decides to disarm or goes into exile."

If nothing else, we have gone past the point of no return. Saddam Hussein will be perceived as heroic for thumbing his nose at the United States, if we fail to invade. This will inevitably encourage further acts of terrorism.

Posted by: David Thomson on February 3, 2003 04:02 PM

"Bucky: I wasn't talking generally about Christians, but about the Armageddon nut-cases. How many are there in the White House?"

Somebody has been reading too much of Michael Lind's "Made in Texas." I am convinced that there isn't even one person in the White House who is an "Armageddon nut-case." Such a person would not get past the first interview. George W. Bush and his immediate group are either secular neoconservatives or evangelical Christians. The latter may not be my cup of tea, but they aren't stark raving lunatics!

Posted by: David Thomson on February 3, 2003 04:12 PM

unseller, very nice summary (2nd link):

Posted by: Old European on February 3, 2003 05:27 PM

As I understand, many evangelical Christians are Armageddon nut-cases.

I would be very happy to see our President stand up and denounce that whole hysterical nihilist idiotarian Christian tendency, but really he'll keep stringing them along. (And occasionally, sitting quiety and wondering whether they're not right after all.)

Where do you guys get your confidence from? You can achieve hysteria about Sharpton, but you have this calm assurance that everything's OK in the Bush White House.

This affects you, too, you know. We're all in this together, etc., etc. It's not like we're arguing about the Cowboys vs. the 49'ers.

Yeah, I'm the nutcase. No one connected with Bush is. Certainly not.

Posted by: zizka on February 3, 2003 05:40 PM

As I understand, many evangelical Christians are Armageddon nut-cases.

Typically, statements like this prompt the response, "Got data?"


Bucky: Korea, Vietnam, Nicaragua, the Reds vs. Whites in Bolshevik [small and weak] Russia, Chiang vs. Mao in a hobbled China, arguably the ongoing war between the Med and the Jordan River...

Zizka: I am saying that what Bush proposes is more disruptive of the existing system than any of those interventions you mentioned

Rather than accusing me of not playing nice, you might consider studying some history. Had the "whites" won in Russia, or Chiang held onto China, I dare say our world would be unrecognizable.

Posted by: Bucky Dent on February 3, 2003 06:07 PM

JFC Bucky, who else would the Armageddon nutcases be? American Muslims? Secular humanists? Orthodox Jews? They do exist, and their weird book is selling like crazy. And, lo, a whole ton of them voted for Bush, and they show up all over the place in the Republican party.

OK, I was wrong, Bush's program is not more extreme than Stalin's, Mao's, Lenin's, or Hitler's program.

Evangelical Christians tried to repair the cracked engine block of my brother's pickup by prayer. They can be downright nutty.

Posted by: zizka on February 3, 2003 06:30 PM

Seriously, I am starting to believe that the whole strategy behind the transatlantic bashing is to get everyone opposed to war to a point where they say - right, whatever, I don't want to read or hear or even think about Iraq anymore. Those who are the most determined will get their way in most instances. Wanting to DO something is a good indicator of someone being more determined than those wanting NOT TO DO that thing.

But anyway. In my opinion, most of the conflict is about communication. A week or so ago I blogged a little bit about how it c.p. would be different between Europe and the US with a Clinton in the White House. Old Europe would have taken a deep breath, swallowed hard, and then gone along. It took the Bush admin some time to understand how their testosterone-laden domestic talk is perceived by Europe. To remain in Robert Kagan's metaphor, they have no manner's when it comes to talking to a lady. And I always thought Texas is all about manners...

But what do you think of this -

An article by Doug Bandow, a senior fellow at Washington's libertarian Cato Institute and former advisor to Ronald Reagon, indicates to me that the real rift concerning US foreign policy could be neither the Atlantic nor the middle aisles of the US Congress. It indicates to me that there seems to be a deep divide between socially conservative Republicans and Libertarian Republicans in the US. The conservative, traditional, hierarchical model of social coordination favoured by the former is usually abhorred by the latter because of their assertion that laisser-faire is the only just way to organise a society/economy. Of course, a two party system does not offer too many alternatives if you want to "make votes count" (Gary W. Cox' book is really brilliant!), so both factions have teamed-up due to their even stronger disgust of the plans for social and! economic reengineering proposed by those who sit on the other side of the aisles. But from time to time, the internal divisions surface. Current US foreign policy is an example thereof.

In the article, which appeared in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung last Friday (link in English), Bandow pratically asks France and Germany to stand firm in their opposition to a US led war on Iraq -

"If Berlin and Paris back down after publicly avowing their opposition to war in such strong terms, they will reinforce the justifiable contempt in which they are held in Washington. And U.S. administrations will continue to ignore them in foreign crises. The credibility of European and other critics of Washington is at stake. Giving in will feed Washington's conviction that it can impose its will without constraint."

Bandow's opinion does not look too isolated if you have a look at this page, which is listing the body of work Cato scholars have done since 911 regarding a potential U.S. war with Iraq.

However, if you compare Bandow's view (or even this piece by Eric Alterman ) to this interpretation of the US-European problems by the Carnegy Endowment's neoconservative Robert Kagan, you'll clearly sense a difference not only in style, but in content, too.

Kagan is a vocal proponent of what he calls "American benevolent hegemony". And it seems, those who share his opinion are willing to pick up the tab for continued American hegemony. Bandow, on the other hand does not see a point in paying for hegemony - and this is not just a different financial assessment. It's a different world-view.

"Still, it is understandable why Europe has so little influence over American policy. Europe as a whole is a security black hole for America. ... Providing a handful of special forces and lending a couple of AWACS planes would not have been necessary were the U.S. not devoting a substantial share of its military to defending Europe. The Europeans would do far more for America by simply garrisoning their own continent, instead of expecting the U.S. to maintain 100,000 troops to protect populous, prosperous industrialized states, as well as another 13,000 to enforce order in the Balkans, a region of no strategic interest to America."

He realises that Europe's attitude may be one of rational free riding, which does, on the other hand, feed US demands of eternal subservience, which Europe is seemingly less willing to swallow these days.

In the end, the Iraq crisis is teaching all parties involved that it's impossible to have the cake, and eat it, too - in Bandow's words (from last September) -

"... neither side has conducted itself with much maturity in the ongoing international spat. The Bush administration believes that allies such as Germany should do what it says, no questions asked. The Schroeder administration believes that Germany deserves a significant say in international relations, while shrinking its military and relying on Washington to resolve tough global problems. ... The administration wants doormats, not allies. Germany and Europe don't have to remain irrelevant, however. The Schroeder- Bush fight offers Berlin and other European states a unique opportunity to strike a more independent course. It's time for Washington to encourage such a change."

As for the last sentence of the quote, the current administration does not seem to listen to Mr Bandow. At least, not yet. As always, time will tell.

It's a fine line between subservience and gratitude to the US (as demanded in the PR campaign initiated by Aznar/Blair last week) when it comes to more than words.

Tobias

Posted by: Tobias on February 3, 2003 06:31 PM

However messy the conquest of Bagdad turns out to be, the occupation will be messier. Israel won their occupied territories pretty fast, too. What did they get for it? A generations-long cancer that's been eating their democracy alive.

Actions have consequences. Wars cannot be undone. Apologies don't fix things, and people don't just get over it. Setting up a puppet government from the Baathist party is, for sure, not going to make the US look like liberators. Say six weeks, tops, before a nationalist Iraqi resistance movement surfaces, dedicated to driving out the invaders.

This administration will not handle such a development gracefully.

Guerilla movements may or may not be able to succeed militarily without the backing of a nation state, but recent history proves that they can do a great deal to make life miserable for an occupying power.

Stupid military adventurism...

Posted by: Canadian Reader on February 3, 2003 07:18 PM

Re: The reason why Chirac invited Mugabe

A summit supposed to bring peace in DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo, former Zaire) is scheduled for later this month in Paris. Several African head of states have insisted on Mugabe's presence (surprise, they think that Mugabe being a dictator is not good a reason enough to exclude him).

Chirac who wants his summit to be a success wanted the ban on Mugabe by the European Union (due to expire in a few days) not to be renewed until after the summit. But the Portuguese who have an African summit of their own in April would like to wait a bit longer.

It certainly not glorious to invite Mugabe, but on the other hand, trying to bring peace in DRC is a worthy cause.

Basically, Friedman's assertion that Chirac did it to annoy Blair is an invention.

But he is so much more clever than everyone else (just look at how he understands the aspirations of the Arabs better than every specialist of the region), why should he bother to check the facts?

Posted by: fberthol on February 3, 2003 07:31 PM

"Say six weeks, tops, before a nationalist Iraqi resistance movement surfaces, dedicated to driving out the invaders."

Are you aware that it was people like you who were greatly to blame for the rise of Adolph Hitler? Appeasement policies usually cost more lives than going to combat when it's deemed necessary. The removal of Saddam Hussein is a far less risky proposition than leaving him in power. I also doubt very much if the fairly secular people of Iraq will have the energy to do anything but rebuild their country. Once again, I am compelled to reiterate the cold fact that the United States and its allies have reached the point of no return. We cannot allow this tyrant to appear victorious over the West. This will only encourage more terrorism.

Posted by: David Thomson on February 3, 2003 07:59 PM

"JFC Bucky, who else would the Armageddon nutcases be? American Muslims? Secular humanists? Orthodox Jews? They do exist, and their weird book is selling like crazy. And, lo, a whole ton of them voted for Bush, and they show up all over the place in the Republican party."

I am fairly secular, but have no interest in being unfair towards those who attend religious ceremonies on a regular basis. You on the other hand, are a bigot who hasn't a clue about the facts. Cynically, I suspect that you consider anyone to be a right wing religious fanatic if they say a prayer even once a year. I have read enough about those closest to President Bush in the White House to adamantly say that none of them are even close to being a nutty as you claim. Moreover, the religious element is balanced off by the secular influences of the neoconservatives. Many of the latter are agnostics who probably haven't stepped into a church or synagogue in decades except for weddings or funerals.

Posted by: David Thomson on February 3, 2003 08:11 PM

David Thomson said, "The United States could do absolutely nothing after the invasion--and the Iraqi people would likely be better off!"

CBS News reported that the Pentagon's most recent war plan involves launching 800 cruise missiles into Baghdad over the course of two days (http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/01/24/eveningnews/main537928.shtml). "You're sitting in Baghdad and all of a sudden you're the general and 30 of your division headquarters have been wiped out. You also take the city down. By that I mean you get rid of their power, water. In 2,3,4,5 days they are physically, emotionally and psychologically exhausted," says Harlan Ullman.

I'm not sure how this leaves the Iraqi people "better off." Maybe David could elaborate on his comment?

Posted by: Tracy on February 3, 2003 10:01 PM

Yes, David, I am Hitler, Stalin, and Mao. Get over it.

I know lots of conservative Christians face-to-face. Many of them are nice, sweet, generous people at that face-to-face level, but many of them also have bizarre, irrational, paranoid beliefs about global and social issues.

I assume that you are assuming that I'm some elite liberal blah blah blah who's demonizing these people I know nothing about blah blah blah. Not true. My guess is that you are the sheltered ignorant academic of the two of us, and that because you are conservative you are sticking up for your co-conservatives. In my life I have to take steps to avoid the militia/Armageddon right wing.

The Armageddon Christians, who as I recall are called dispensationists, are a power in the Republican Party. I am not talking about all Christians -- most main-line denominations, starting with the Catholics, tend to be opposed to this war. My own mother is a church lady and mostly agrees with me about the war. (Where I come from the main-line Christians, evangelicals, and fundamentalists form three distinct, often-hostile factions).

The most important person to think about in this context is of course GWB himself, who believes (according to his supporters, not his enemies) that he is on a mission from God.

The neoconservatives, of course, have their own, equally unappealing beliefs which originate from quite other sources.

Posted by: zizka on February 3, 2003 10:11 PM

As for the Iraqis benefitting from our victory -- well, the most recently floated strategy is to hit Baghdad with 6000 cruise missiles in the first two days. I think that we can forget about democratic reconstruction if that strategy is used.

Posted by: zizka on February 3, 2003 10:18 PM

>>Appeasement policies usually cost more lives than going to combat when it's deemed necessary<<

I think that as a general rule, this is bullshit, and as my first exhibit I propose NATO's appeasement of the USSR and China between 1953 and 1989.

Posted by: dsquared on February 3, 2003 11:15 PM

I know lots of conservative Christians face-to-face. Many of them are nice, sweet, generous people at that face-to-face level, but many of them also have bizarre, irrational, paranoid beliefs about global and social issues.

I know some secular humanists about whom I could say the exact same thing. In fact, you cite and link some of them.

I'd stick to real observables, history and logic rather than adjectives going forward.

Posted by: Bucky Dent on February 4, 2003 03:42 AM

>>Appeasement policies usually cost more lives than going to combat when it's deemed necessary<<
-DT
I think that as a general rule, this is bullshit
-d^2

Ah, but dsquared, you are missing the qualifier. DT's statement is practically meaningless with the added 'when it's deemed necessary'. If it is deemed necessary, who would be against it? And without that qualifier it is just silly (unless of course, DT and the gang are going to go after the Democratic Leadership Council after scratching off groups above on their 'people we do not like list'). This little rhetorical trick (make the reader work at deciphering a sane meaning from the text to distract them) gets employed a lot. And another thing- disagreement never before meant that someone supported the most genocidal people this century- why does it now. Instead of accusing someone of being a Stalinist (or a hitlerismist) why don't you ask them directly if they supported those policies to which you refer?
And yes, it happens on both sides.

Posted by: BillBuckner on February 4, 2003 03:57 AM

Not THE Bill Buckner? :)

Posted by: Bucky Dent on February 4, 2003 06:16 AM

>....as my first exhibit I propose NATO's appeasement of the USSR and China between 1953 and 1989.<<

Poor example. After January 1981 the U.S. embarked on an active strategy to defeat the Soviet Union. It was the reason they surrendered.

Read all about it in, "Reagans's War".

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on February 4, 2003 06:34 AM

I'm not sure how this leaves the Iraqi people "better off." Maybe David could elaborate on his comment?

Nah, I will let the following news story do my talking for me:

"He fled north, to the Kurdish safe haven policed by Western fighter planes, but leaving his wife and daughter behind in Baghdad.

So the secret police came for his wife. Where is he? They tortured her. And when she didn't break, they tortured his daughter.

"When did you last see your father? Has he phoned? Has he been in contact?" They half-crushed the toddler's feet."

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/from_our_own_correspondent/2058253.stm


Posted by: David Thomson on February 4, 2003 06:46 AM

From DT: We cannot allow this tyrant to appear victorious over the West.

so, it boils down to this: we must have war because we promised war.

the local mafia breaks a leg to 'send a message'

to quote:

I have eight or ten similar cases maturing. If it was circulated among them that I had made a severe example of the Lady Eva I should find all of them much more open to reason. You see my point?"

so, now we are about to kill many innocent Iraqis to make a point about Saddam Hussein?

God Help Us!

Posted by: Suresh Krishnamoorthy on February 4, 2003 06:47 AM

"I think that as a general rule, this is bullshit, and as my first exhibit I propose NATO's appeasement of the USSR.."

Patrick Sullivan is absolutely correct. The Soviet Union collapsed due to President Reagan pushing them into a corner. The appeasement attitudes of the European leftist governments greatly delayed the dissolution of our former Cold War foe.

Thugs always perceive efforts at appeasement as a sign of weakness. It is senseless to negotiate with someone who is waiting for the first opportunity to stick a knife into your back.

Posted by: David Thomson on February 4, 2003 06:56 AM

>> However, would you hire [Bush] to run a complex business? If he had been hired and you were on a strong independent board, would you keep him? <<

His partners in the Texas Rangers were quite happy with the return on their investments.

>> Israel won their occupied territories pretty fast, too. What did they get for it? A generations-long cancer that's been eating their democracy alive.

>> Actions have consequences. Wars cannot be undone. Apologies don't fix things, and people don't just get over it. <<

About the above, the Jews in Palestine seem to have had this "cancer" at least as early as the 1920s, long before they engaged in ANY military actions there. Not to mention that a few million Israelis surrounded by 200 million Arabs are in a far different situation than we will find ourselves in Iraq.

And, about people not forgetting war, and getting on with their lives, how about post-1945 Japan?

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on February 4, 2003 06:57 AM

how about post-1945 Japan?

Interesting how the only nation thusfar on the receiving end of a nuclear strike subsequently became a pacifist poster child.

Posted by: Bucky Dent on February 4, 2003 07:03 AM

“From DT: We cannot allow this tyrant to appear victorious over the West.

so, it boils down to this: we must have war because we promised war.

the local mafia breaks a leg to 'send a message'”

Yep, that pretty well says it all. We have come to the point where further inaction will result in making Saddam Hussein a hero to the militant Islamic thugs. The odds are overwhelming that this predicament will encourage more acts of terrorism. We will be perceived as backing down to the evil dictator of Iraq.

“so, now we are about to kill many innocent Iraqis to make a point about Saddam Hussein?”

Have we already forgotten Afghanistan? The citizens of that country have greatly benefited by our military actions. Furthermore, it is impossible to ever deal with tyranny if we are overly concerned with the unintentional deaths of innocent human beings. In that case, the police should never chase bank robbers because there is a chance of accidentally shooting an innocent bystander. What message does that send to the slime balls of the world?

Posted by: David Thomson on February 4, 2003 07:11 AM

What DT does not say that is also in the story:

He told me that he had tortured for the regime.

what they did to that poor girl is despicable, indefensible and the perpetrators deserve to be punished - the one case where I would support the death penalty.

but having said that, this whole article sounds like an episode of the Sopranos.

So now what, we invade New Jersey?

I am not opposed to regime change in Iraq. I *am* opposed to doing so by dropping bombs on Baghdad.

Hitler's generals came within a hair of assasinating him. Perhaps we can find Iraqi Generals who would succeed.

Posted by: Suresh krishnamoorthy on February 4, 2003 07:25 AM

Re: "After January 1981 the U.S. embarked on an active strategy to defeat the Soviet Union. It was the reason they surrendered. Read all about it in, "Reagans's War"."

Of course, this statement is silly. In Europe you hear sometimes an argument even more stupid. "The Iron wall collapsed thanks to the pope" (the idea being that he encouraged protest movements in Poland).

The Soviet Union collapsed because a completely planified economic system does not work. Period.

Posted by: Skeptic on February 4, 2003 08:08 AM

“Re: "After January 1981 the U.S. embarked on an active strategy to defeat the Soviet Union. It was the reason they surrendered. Read all about it in, "Reagans's War"."

Of course, this statement is silly. In Europe you hear sometimes an argument even more stupid. "The Iron wall collapsed thanks to the pope" (the idea being that he encouraged protest movements in Poland).

The Soviet Union collapsed because a completely planified economic system does not work. Period.”

Actually, all of the above is true! The Soviet Union collapsed due to the efforts of Ronald Reagan, the Pope, and also its imploding economy. These three factors together brought our former foe to its knees.

Posted by: David Thomson on February 4, 2003 08:23 AM

Brad, my *last* off topic post here. I promise.

Frm DT: In that case, the police should never chase bank robbers because there is a chance of accidentally shooting an innocent bystander. What message does that send to the slime balls of the world?

you might feel differently if *you* or your family was the 'innocent bystander' shot by the police. That is also why they don't deal with hostage situations by going in willy-nilly and 'taking everybody out'.

Posted by: Suresh Krishnamoorthy on February 4, 2003 08:24 AM

David Thomson-

It seems to me that to deny the influence of Christian fundamentalism on this administration is to ignore the data. At the risk of overkill, below is a brief article discussing the root of this influence.

Are We Missing Something?

Periodically we humans, purely by accident, conduct some large-scale controlled experiments that provide information about the most effective and humane ways to organize our political and social systems. One was the recent “communist” experiment in Soviet Russia, China and a few other smaller nation states. An important lesson from this experiment was that when the state becomes the substitute for religious belief and bans any competing institutions, bad things happen and good things are suppressed. (There were other important lessons as well that for purposes of this discussion will not be considered.)

The terrible tragedy in the Arab Muslim world reflects the same experiment in reverse. A religious belief becomes synonymous with the state with the same outcome…bad things happen and good things are suppressed.

Unfortunately, there seems to be a major political institution in the United States that has not learned from either of these experiments. It is called the Texas Republican Party. How do I know this? I read it in their Party Platform, a fascinating document. The following are direct quotes: “Our Party pledges to do everything within its power to restore the original intent of the First Amendment of the United States and dispel the myth of the separation of Church and State”. (Italics mine)… “The Republican Party of Texas reaffirms that the United States of America is a Christian nation which was founded on fundamental Judeo-Christian principles based on the Holy Bible”… “We respect the right of individuals and state and local governments to display the Ten Commandments on public property subject to their control.”… “Homosexual behavior is contrary to the fundamental, unchanging truths that have been ordained by God”… “We believe that human life is sacred because each person is created in the image of God, that human life begins at conception…” “We urge the reversal of Roe v. Wade. We affirm our support for the appointment and election of judges at all levels of the judiciary who respect traditional family values and the sanctity of innocent human life.”

Whether one’s religious beliefs may coincide with some of these positions is beside the point. Even if we had not been blessed with the prescience of Jefferson, Madison and others, more recent history has taught us clearly that empowering the state to promote and enforce particular religious beliefs, even if held by a majority of the population, is terrible public policy with disastrous results.

I could go on (the education statements are particularly scary, both with respect to science and history) but the message is clear. The usual sops to “freedom of religion” notwithstanding, The Texas Republican Party clearly wishes to use the power of the state to force religious views held by its members on all citizens.

There are other interesting views expressed in this Platform (which can be found at www.texasgop.org or by searching for Texas Republican Party using Google or some other search engine) that lead to my next point. A few paraphrased tidbits include complete withdrawal from the United Nations and reestablishment of U.S. control of the Panama Canal, prohibition of any state regulation of private or public schools, de facto censoring of textbooks for compliance with their religious view of the world and the elimination of any control on any firearms.

If this were a fringe group with no power, they might be ignored. However, the last time I looked, there were some prominent members of this group in high government office. Oddly, the media seem to have ignored these clearly stated policy positions and, as a result, totally misled the public on the relative political alignment of prominent politicians. To wit, the recently elected Minority Leader of the House of Representatives has been labeled a “San Francisco Liberal”, with suggestions that she is far to the left of the mainstream. For her to be as far to the left of the mainstream as her counterpart (the Majority Leader and a leading member of the Texas Republican Party) is to the right, she would have to be a virulent card carrying Marxist revolutionary, which she most certainly is not. One can legitimately question whether particular policies she may advocate will be effective in improving the lives of our citizens (which no one seems to have done), but as best I can tell, nothing she advocates can be characterized as a threat to our liberty. I’m not sure the same can be said of the Texas Republican Party for whom the nickname Texas Taliban is too close for comfort.

Posted by: Sam Taylor on February 4, 2003 08:32 AM

“Hitler's generals came within a hair of assasinating him. Perhaps we can find Iraqi Generals who would succeed.”

This would indeed be the best solution. However, one should not hold their breadth waiting for it to happen. Saddam Hussein idolizes Joseph Stalin and brilliantly followed the latter’s example of how best to terrify his subordinates. The Iraqi dictator’s secret police are everywhere. His generals are constantly afraid of being betrayed. They fear not just the loss of their own lives, but also those of their family members. An assassination plot demands a certain degree of privacy---and that is virtually impossible in a totalitarian society.

Posted by: David Thomson on February 4, 2003 08:33 AM

"how about post-1945 Japan?

Interesting how the only nation thusfar on the receiving end of a nuclear strike subsequently became a pacifist poster child."


Good point, Bucky.

Actually, i think this is what will eventually turn the US into a pacifist poster child in the next few decades. Or maybe a biological strike. And Bush's actions are hastening that day.

Posted by: Kevin S on February 4, 2003 08:34 AM

"how about post-1945 Japan?

Interesting how the only nation thusfar on the receiving end of a nuclear strike subsequently became a pacifist poster child."


Good point, Bucky.

Actually, i think this is what will eventually turn the US into a pacifist poster child in the next few decades. Or maybe a biological strike. And Bush's actions are hastening that day.

Posted by: Kevin S on February 4, 2003 08:35 AM

This is the official platform of the Texas Republican Party:

"2002 Republican Party of Texas Platform

Preamble

The delegates of the 2002 Republican Party of Texas believe that our Party Platform expresses the fundamental beliefs and truths that were recognized by our country's founders. The compassionate conservative principles of our Party are tested and proven. We believe that the officeholders of our representative republic do not truly represent their electorate until this platform is applied as the standard for their decision-making. We call on Texas Republicans to work diligently to elect representative Republicans and to personally implement the following ten core principles of the 2002 Texas Republican Platform:

# We respect and cherish the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and our Founders' intent to restrict the power of the federal government over the states and the people. We believe internal self-government is the best government, balanced by limited civil government, which provides for the people those things which cannot be achieved individually.
# We believe that human life is sacred because each person is created in the image of God, that life begins at the moment of conception and ends at the point of natural death, and that all innocent human life must be protected.
# We believe that good government is based on the individual and that each person's ability, dignity, freedom, and responsibility must be honored and recognized. We believe that, while equal opportunity is a right and a privilege, equal outcome is not. We insist that no one's rights are negotiable and that individual freedom demands personal responsibility.
# We believe that government spending is out of control and needs to be reduced. We support fundamental, immediate tax reform that is simple, fair, and fully disclosed.
# We believe that traditional marriage is a legal and moral commitment between a man and a woman. We recognize that the family is the foundational unit of a healthy society and consists of those related by blood, marriage, or adoption. The family is responsible for its own welfare, education, moral training, conduct, and property,
# We believe that a well-educated population is fundamental to the continued success of our Republic; and that parents have the right, as well as the duty, to direct their children's education and to have the choice among public, private, and religious schools. Competition improves education, with no child being left behind.
# We believe that the future of our country depends upon a strong and vibrant private sector unencumbered by excessive government regulation.
# We believe that a strong America ensures a free America. While we recognize that our nation is a major participant in the global community, we must also vigilantly protect the sovereignty of the United States. Freedom is never free, and we honor all those who have served our nation to protect our liberty.
# We believe all Americans have the right to be safe in their homes, on their streets, and in their communities. We support enforcement of the laws through the Courts imposing swift and sure justice with stiff penalties, truth in sentencing, and respecting the rights of law-abiding citizens.
# We believe that personal and public integrity is the cornerstone of a stable and lasting society and it is the key to preserving the freedoms for which our founders pledged their "lives, fortunes, and sacred honor."

"God Bless Texas!"

http://www.texasgop.org/library/platform.asp

One may not agree totally with all of the above views, but they are nowhere near as radical as suggested by Sam Taylor. The positions cited by Mr. Taylor are not those of the Texas Republican Party.

Posted by: David Thomson on February 4, 2003 08:44 AM

David Thomson: "The citizens of Afghanistan greatly benefited by our military actions."

Let's see. Central government was replaced by a patchworks of warlordships, and many of these warlords are almost as opperssive toward women as Taliban. The warlords fight each other, but US military presence keeps the fighting within "reasonable limits". Kabul enjoys certain liberalization (at least as you are not a Pathan, as local Tajik security force is rather nasty toward Pathans).

The sector of the society that achieved the most obvious benefits are opium growers, traders etc. Since this is the most important sector of the economy, Thomson is perhaps correct. But it is not exactly a picture worth dancing in the streets.

Closer to Iraq, or rather inside, Kurdish areas in the north are our de-facto protectorate for more then 10 years. The area enjoys 3-way civil war. We cannot even get rid of pro-al-Qaeda faction. Thus we already have a record of installing modern democratic states in the Muslim word, and this is a very lousy record.

I believe that if US tries to impose ANYTHING, however "reasonable", in post-war Iraq, we will have another Vietnam, or a series of Beirut-like debacles. The largest ethnic group is are Arab Shia, the best organized group of Shia is based in Iran and allied with religious hardliners there, and these folk detest Americans (with some valid reasons). Either we let them rule, and they will ask us to get out and we will have a new alliance in the region, not particularly stabilizing, or we will not, and then we will be at the receiving end of Hezbollah tactics.

But while am US resident, I am a smoker from Europe so my arguments are not serious. Please disregard this message.

Posted by: Piotr Berman on February 4, 2003 08:45 AM

Or maybe a biological strike. Bush's actions are hastening that day.

Yep. Disarming avowed WMD-enabled enemies who collaborate with folks who've engaged in unprovoked attacks on our soil is certain to result in a less-safe America. I see your logic.

Posted by: Bucky Dent on February 4, 2003 08:48 AM

Piotr Berman might be a native of Poland. I guess he thinks we should have left the Nazis remain in the country. Does he also regret that the Russian Communists are not still in control? Berman’s defeatist attitude would be music to the ears of all dictators.

Where would Poland be if today if our exalted professor ran American foreign policy for the last sixty years? Gosh, could Berman be a bigot? What's good for Poland is supposedly not good for those dark skinned people living in the Middle East?

The present situation in both Afghanistan and the Kurdish areas is not perfect. Still, the overall situation has greatly improved. It is foolish to say otherwise. Oh well, I can hear it now: “Afghanistan is in terrible shape. Just last night the traffic cops gave out two jaywalking tickets!”

Posted by: David Thomson on February 4, 2003 09:04 AM

Bucky, I can't tell you about the history of the Bush administration because it hasn't finished happening yet. Like everyone else I am reduced to guessing. You guess differently than I do.

In concusion, what I've been trying to say is:

This war is not about Iraq, but is part of a much bigger plan involving many nations. Discussion simply in terms of Iraq misses the point.

This war is not defensive but proactive, and will completely remake the international order on the scale of WWI, and I think that like WWI the possibility of unexpected results is high.

I find nothing to admire in Bush's domestic policy -- in this I differ from several people here. I think that the democratic bona fides, internationally or domestically, of any of the American players in this game are risible; this is an area in which we can look at the historical record, for example visavis Iraq.

The neoconservatives have an anti-egalitarian, anti-popular definition of democracy which is diametrically opposed to the primitive, folk definitions everyone else uses. Read Leo Strauss.

I think that, through Karl Rove and others, the most irrational and anti-intellectual elements of the Christian Right have more influence on policy, and specifically on GWB personally, than some people here are willing to admit. We ought to have some solid facts on that, Bucky, in 10 or 20 years (unless Bush seals off the records, as his his wont).

Incidentally, it would be possible for someone to knowingly support the Bush military plan as I have described it. It would also be possible to support the domestic Christianization of the nation, as the Texas Republicans proposed. I don't see anyone here doing so, though David T. comes close. Bucky D.'s sniping denials are unconvincing. (Bucky, do you have any opinions at all? You always seem to play that chickenhearted defensive Fisking game).

Posted by: zizka on February 4, 2003 09:26 AM

"Yep. Disarming avowed WMD-enabled enemies who collaborate with folks who've engaged in unprovoked attacks on our soil is certain to result in a less-safe America. I see your logic."

You know, this attitude is exactly why I am so dubious about the coming Iraq war. It's one thing to proclaim that the positives of "regime change" in Iraq outweigh the negatives, but too many of the pro-war crowd seem to deny there are any negatives.

Let's, therefore, consider a reasonable scenario for the Iraq war. While it would be nice to belive that the whole Iraqi military will instantly surrender or Saddam will be assassinated, I don't think it's reasonable to expect that.

So, let's say Saddam blows up Iraq's oil fields. That would cause an economic shock that would likely push the world into a global recession.

Saddam also withdraws his forces into Iraq's major cities and it takes us several months to dig them out. That would likely result in hundreds if not thousands of American casualties and tens if not hundreds of thousands of Iraqi dead. Such a war would also destroy a great deal of the civillian infrastructure, which would likely result in even more deaths through disease and neglect when the war was over.

Images of huge piles of dead Muslim bodies sparks riot and revolution throughout the Islamic world. That means more dead and possibly the nuclear armed government of Pakistan falling to Islamic hardliners.

That's a pretty horrible set of circumstances and it doesn't take a genius to see how they might increase support for anti-US terrorists like Al-Queda or increase there chances of getting a WMD, which they would then try to use on the US.

And this doesn't even include the truly apocalyptic possibilities of Iraq's use of chem or bio weapons on invading troops or Israel, or North Korea deciding this would be the perfect moment for them to try and take the South.

War in Iraq may turn out well, but it could turn into a nightmare both in the short and long term. A lot of the pro-war crowd are betting on the former. I hope they're right because the whole world will suffer if it turns out to be the latter.

Mike

Posted by: MBunge on February 4, 2003 09:32 AM

"Christianization of the nation, as the Texas Republicans proposed. I don't see anyone here doing so, though David T. comes close"

Huh? I am not a Christian. Moreover, I have long blasted the right wing Protestants for our silly national drug war. I'm just a fair man who makes distinctions. The Bush people are not fundamentalist crazies. They do not attend religious services where the believer allows snakes to bite them!

Posted by: David Thomson on February 4, 2003 09:48 AM

Bucky, do you have any opinions at all?

Deep and profound ones, yes.

But since my fundamental assumptions about human nature, and my reading of history, both differ wildly from most folks here, I contribute by asking questions, rather than spending time in a totally predictable and uninteresting "Crossfire" type mutual bombardment.

This war is not defensive but proactive, and will completely remake the international order on the scale of WWI...

If you believe a war on a country whose GDP is 1/5 what AOL *lost* last year can compare with the cascade of global changes that followed WW I...the end of colonialism, the fall of the British Empire, the Bolshivik revolution, the wiping out of a generation of European men, etc...we will have to agree to disagree.

anti-egalitarian, anti-popular definition of democracy which is diametrically opposed to the primitive, folk definitions everyone else uses.

Interesting how this band of seeming authoritarians managed to both increase its control of the House and recapture the Senate, using the voting booth. Of course, I know Hitler too was "elected", but not with this kind of popular, voluntary electoral support.

chickenhearted

Please don't resort to name calling.

Posted by: Bucky Dent on February 4, 2003 09:52 AM

David Thompson, you are wrong as could be about the Texas GOP platform. Instead of reading the banner at their web site, download the PDF containing the platform and its supporting documentation. Most of the items Mr. Taylor posted are taken verbatim from this document.

You've been duped by the GOP, as usual. The banner page does in fact read as you have stated. But all of the items Mr. Taylor described are in fact in the actual document, usually in the later pages which most don't read. That's one of the usual propaganda methods. It worked with you.

Posted by: Chuck Nolan on February 4, 2003 09:55 AM

too many of the pro-war crowd seem to deny there are any negatives.

I've read 100s of stories on this. Not once have I seen someone who backed action deny there are negatives.

Posted by: Bucky Dent on February 4, 2003 09:58 AM

Bucky, why don't you put your deep and profound cards on the table? What word should I use to describe your refusal to do so? Shy? Demure? Discreet? Ladylike? Bashful?

As I have said several times already, the Iraq war will be the opening phase of a long campaign involving a number of regime-changes. That is essentially my main point here. When you fisk, you should at least read.

Yes, as you point out, anti-democratic candidates can indeed be elected within democratic systems.

Posted by: zizka on February 4, 2003 10:04 AM

a long campaign involving a number of regime-changes.

Saudi Arabia?

Posted by: Bucky Dent on February 4, 2003 10:05 AM

zizka writes: "This war is not defensive but proactive, and will completely remake the international order on the scale of WWI, and I think that like WWI the possibility of unexpected results is high."

So a stable but unsatisfactory status quo is preferable to an uncertain but perhaps improved future? Of course there are risks. There are risks in inaction. Like you need to be told this. You seem pretty rational until you venture into the black-helicopter-land of "Christianization" and the US not having appropriate democratic "bona fides."

Posted by: JT on February 4, 2003 10:09 AM

What word should I use to describe your refusal to do so? Shy?

I want to save Dr. DeLong's bandwidth.

I will stipulate that my views would elicit a torrent of invective wherein I'd be [unjustly] called a greedy, selfish, anti-democratic racist. I just want to save everyone time. :)

Posted by: Bucky Dent on February 4, 2003 10:12 AM

“Saddam also withdraws his forces into Iraq's major cities and it takes us several months to dig them out. That would likely result in hundreds if not thousands of American casualties and tens if not hundreds of thousands of Iraqi dead. Such a war would also destroy a great deal of the civillian infrastructure, which would likely result in even more deaths through disease and neglect when the war was over.”

Yeah, there is an outside chance such a scenario may become reality. I guess there might even be a chance that I will dunk a basketball over Yao Ming! However, what are the probabilities? The odds are overwhelming that Saddam’s soldiers will give up immediately. We have also informed his generals that we will try them for war crimes if they follow his evil orders. The war should be over in less than two weeks.

What about the rebuilding program? That’s an entirely different kettle of fish. I may not agree with James Fallows that Iraq could become our “51st State,” but there will unarguably be some major costs. Then again, an indirect benefit might be a major drop in oil prices--and the war will pay for itself. We will find out soon enough. Make no mistake about it. We are engaging in an abstract discussion. The war is a done deal. Saddam Hussein is toast. He may, hopefully, decide to seek sanctury somewhere in the world. This is the only way that war will be avoided.

Posted by: David Thomson on February 4, 2003 10:13 AM

The Saudis probably should be on the list, shouldn't they? But I imagine the Bush people will cut them a break.

I certainly don't know the details of this. Even within the admin these are probably mostly TBA. But my evaluation of the Bush foreign policy team is based on things that they have actually said and done in the past, including their time in office with this administration.

Posted by: zizka on February 4, 2003 10:20 AM

>>Poor example. After January 1981 the U.S. embarked on an active strategy to defeat the Soviet Union. It was the reason they surrendered.<<

Trivially repaired. I hereby substitute the appeasement of the USSR by NATO between 1945 and 1980, and the appeasement of China between 1953 and 1989, and reiterate my substantial point; that Thomson was bullshitting.

Posted by: dsquared on February 4, 2003 10:22 AM

"You've been duped by the GOP, as usual. The banner page does in fact read as you have stated. But all of the items Mr. Taylor described are in fact in the actual document, usually in the later pages which most don't read. That's one of the usual propaganda methods. It worked with you."

Excuse me, but I live in Texas! It is not unusual for political parties to throw bones to some of their weird fringe members. Nevertheless, it's the official platform that one should pay attention to; that’s the only thing that counts. The folks who really run the show are sane and have no interest in turning the United States into a right wing Christian theocracy.

You might also be interested in reading my brief Amazon.com community review on Michael Lind’s “Made in Texas: George W. Bush and the Southern Takeover of American Politics.” Shucks, feel free to vote “not helpful” if you so desire.

Posted by: David Thomson on February 4, 2003 10:27 AM

the Iraq war will be the opening phase of a long campaign involving a number of regime-changes.

If not the Saudis, then who? You must have *someone* in mind to make such a statement.

Syria? Not worth trifling with.

Egypt? Already a notional ally.

Yeman? Ditto. Iran? Way too big, and already undergoing internal democratic upheaval.

I don't see any likely targets. If you do, please share them.

Asking reasonable questions in a dispassionate way in a forum where you can respond isn't Fisking, BTW.

Posted by: Bucky Dent on February 4, 2003 10:31 AM

David Thomson said:

Nah, I will let the following news story do my talking for me:

"He fled north, to the Kurdish safe haven policed by Western fighter planes, but leaving his wife and daughter behind in Baghdad.

So the secret police came for his wife. Where is he? They tortured her. And when she didn't break, they tortured his daughter.

"When did you last see your father? Has he phoned? Has he been in contact?" They half-crushed the toddler's feet."

Here's a quote from Kelly Reyher, a survivor of the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center:

"When I got there, I went into a little alcove and the flames were shooting into it and facing me. There was about a foot of debris on the floor. As I wiggled my body, I tried to stand up. The smoke was so hot that it just about closed my throat and I put my shirt over my mouth to try to breathe. I was trying to figure out where the staircase was in the lobby I had been in. As I crawled along and as I came from the alcove into the Sky Lobby, that's when the magnitude hit me. There were bodies everywhere. It was deathly quiet, except for people screaming and moaning and you could only see 10 or 15 feet. As I crawled, I checked to see if some people were alive, but they weren't. There was one woman who was up on her knees saying, 'Please, don't leave me' and we got her over to the stairs. As soon as I got there the door opened and I saw someone was there and I found two of my colleagues who were alive. Both were very injured, bleeding, limping and burnt."

David, how do think the devastation of the collapse of the WTC compares with 8000 cruise missiles hitting Baghdad? Are we destroying the city to save it?

Posted by: Tracy on February 4, 2003 10:31 AM

how do think the devastation of the collapse of the WTC compares with 8000 cruise missiles hitting Baghdad?

Can you distinguish between targeting unsuspecting civilians and targeting well-warned military sites? I can.

Posted by: Bucky Dent on February 4, 2003 10:38 AM

Mr. Thomson, I must reiterate. If they don't mean those statements, they shouldn't include them in an official document. Since it is an official document, made available to all and sundry through their own website, one is justified in assuming that the document is an official statement of their policy. Warts and all.

If a document of similar looniness were available at the official site of the Democratic party, neocons would be printing it on billboards, and it would be on around-the-clock at Fox.

Simply stating that they are reasonable people and are throwing a bone to their lunatic fringe doesn't cut it. If you want to appease the loonies, you don't do it in a document describing your official platform.

My, and by extension Mr. Taylor's, point still stands. "That's what they said in their platrform".

Posted by: Chuck Nolan on February 4, 2003 10:41 AM

Oh dear. I really can't let that nasty little David-Thompson gibe pass without comment: "Are you aware that it was people like you who were greatly to blame for the rise of Adolph Hitler?" I take it, David, you decided Godwin's law was in abeyance here?

If you insist on dragging in historical parallels, WW I is a lot closer, with the US in the role of Austria-Hungary, determined to find any pretext for war, however flimsy, and Mr Bush in the role of the Emperor Franz Joseph.

If you want to look in American history, well, I remember the US public being lied to about the Gulf of Tonkin incident.

No... What I really remember is being convinced at the time that the US must have been attacked, because, well, the US government wouldn't lie about something as important as that, would it? But it did. You are being pitifully naive if you think the Bush administration, with its well-documented disregard for truth in matters of public policy, would have fewer compunctions about lying about a war than the Johnson administration did.

If we have to talk about Hitler, then right back at you. It was people like you in Germany saying, "Come on. This is Germany, it can't happen here!" who let Hitler rise to power. Oh wait, you were talking about Saddam? But David, the nation here that is proposing to invade another one over a manufactured provocation is not Iraq.

Yes, Saddam is a ruthless gangster. No argument there. Nobody's saying he's a good guy. And it seems pretty well inevitable that this war is going to happen, justified or not, and that the Bush administration will get its "regime change" one way or another. So fine. Saddam is no longer ruling Iraq. That's a plus.

But the people of Iraq won't necessarily thank America for deposing him. It doesn't work that way, especially if the way you depose him is by reducing Bagdad to rubble and killing a few hundred thousand Iraqis. The US will be seen in Iraq as the monstrous foreign invaders, there will soon be a guerilla opposition that the Bush adminstration will call "terrorists" and equate to Al Qaeda, but the force behind it will be Iraqi nationalism, and it won't stop. Just as with Vietnam, there will be no retreating without loss of face. The US military will soon have to get involved in "pacification" of the Iraqi countryside...

There's maybe a one percent chance that things won't play out this way. The fairy tale about setting up a democracy won't happen, because a real Iraqi democracy would sooner or later have interests that would conflict with US interests. But with enough money and an instant visible rush of prosperity, maybe the US could bribe Iraqis into forgetting their dead. I don't believe that will happen, though, for two reasons: one, the American government has lately had the attention span of a flea when it comes to spending money on foreigners, and two, there are plenty of other dictatorships in the Middle East who have good reason to want to destabilize an American protectorate.

And I don't see anyone doing any realistic planning whatsoever to prevent Iraq from turning into another Vietnam quagmire, or another Palestine.

Posted by: Canadian Reader on February 4, 2003 10:41 AM

italics off, let's hope.

Posted by: Canadian Reader on February 4, 2003 10:49 AM

This logic is bizarre:

>> I hereby substitute the appeasement of the USSR by NATO between 1945 and 1980, and the appeasement of China between 1953 and 1989, and reiterate my substantial point; that Thomson was bullshitting.<<

Perhaps millions of people were killed by Stalin after 1945, and certainly tens of millions were killed by Mao after 1953.

And we have even more recent evidence for Mr. Thompson's claim being true. We could have disposed of Saddam Hussein in 1991, by simply supporting the Iraqi people who rose up in rebellion against him then. Instead we appeased him, and allowed him to massacre the rebels.

The New Republic has a piece written by one of the rebels at:

http://www.tnr.com/docprint.mhtml?i=20030210&s=alsuwaij021003

Some of what the woman says seems farfetched, but undeniably some Iraqi's wanted the U.S. to help them depose Saddam at that time.

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on February 4, 2003 10:52 AM

"My, and by extension Mr. Taylor's, point still stands. "That's what they said in their (Texas Republican) platrform"."

That is patently false. Please look for yourself. I have provided the google line and all you have to do
is hit the html option:

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&ie=ISO-8859-1&q=official+texas+
republican+party++position+papers&btnG=Google+Search

Posted by: David Thomson on February 4, 2003 11:00 AM

Guess not. We're still italic. Maybe Brad can fix it.

Mr. Dent, it is foolish to suggest anyone can rain 400 missiles a day on millions of civilians and hit only military targets. The targeting technology may be good; it isn't walking-on-water miraculous. But, oh, excuse me, they are "well warned" -- what are they supposed to do about the warning? Duck?

Posted by: Canadian Reader on February 4, 2003 11:01 AM

From the platform as linked above:

Religion
The Party acknowledges that the church is a Godordained institution with a sphere of
authority separate from that of civil government; thus, churches, synagogues and other places of worship, including home Bible study groups, should not be regulated, controlled, or taxed by any level of civil government, including the Social Security Administration. We reclaim freedom of religious expression in public on government property, and freedom from governmental interference. We request the Governor to release space to reinstate a chapel in the Texas Capitol.


Free Exercise of Religion
The Party believes all Americans have the right to practice their religious faith free of persecution, intimidation, and violence. We call on Congress to sanction any country that is
guilty of persecuting its citizens because of their religious beliefs. Our Party pledges to do everything within its power to restore the original intent of the First Amendment of the United States and dispel the myth of the separation of Church and State.

Posted by: Bucky Dent on February 4, 2003 11:08 AM

David, I downloaded the PDF from www.texasgop.org. I have it here before me in hardcopy. It says what Taylor stated it does. In black and white. Go to www.texasgop.org. Select GOP Library from the list on the top left of the page. Scroll down to the bottom of the page. Click "2002 Republican Party of Texas Platform".

Then READ it. Everyrthing he listed is in there. In black and white.

The Google search you listed gives you what is stated on the first page of this document. But thhe first page is not all that there is. READ IT.

Posted by: Chuck Nolan on February 4, 2003 11:08 AM

For those who don't want to register with TNR, here's a short bit from the article at the url above:

<<--------quote-----------
With the army on the run, it became easier for us to get weapons. During the Gulf war, Saddam had stored many of his weapons in places the United States and its allies would never dare bomb: elementary and high schools. Guards who used to work at the schools began emptying the school storage rooms and passing us everything from Kalashnikov rifles to grenade launchers. The guns would be necessary: Though many of the soldiers had run off, I saw that some were still putting up resistance to the rebels, and they were increasingly joined by Baath Party civilian militias and members of the town's secret police.

For the Baath members and the secret police, their existence depended on Saddam staying in power, so they holed up inside Karbala's city hall and other municipal buildings and fired into the crowds in the street, maiming and killing as many people as they could. Later that night, many attempted to flee but were killed or captured by the rebels.

By late afternoon on March 5, when the situation had calmed down a little, I returned home. My grandmother had been worried sick about me, but I told her not to worry. "If I live, I want to live in freedom," I said. "Otherwise, why bother?" "But," she argued with me, "none of this is organized!" I responded passionately, "Remember what President Bush said? If we rise up against Saddam, the Americans will help us."

I felt this was an historic moment for the Iraqi people, and I wanted to record it. So I grabbed my family's camcorder and started filming the scene in the streets, where people were dancing and shouting in celebration after many of the troops retreated. Cars honked, people handed out sweets, and women and children hugged and kissed. Walking around with the camcorder, I felt as if I were taping an enormous wedding celebration.
-------endquote--------->>

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on February 4, 2003 11:08 AM

it is foolish to suggest anyone can rain 400 missiles a day on millions of civilians and hit only military targets. The targeting technology may be good; it isn't walking-on-water miraculous. But, oh, excuse me, they are "well warned" -- what are they supposed to do about the warning? Duck?

Ambush vs. pre-announced. Civilian targets vs. military targets. Fuel-laden amateur-piloted commercial aircraft vs. state-of-the-art (tho not miraculous) precision-guided munitions. Intentional slaughter of innocents vs. planning to minimize innocent deaths.

The distinctions are quite clear. If you want to ignore them, that is your prerogative.

Posted by: Bucky Dent on February 4, 2003 11:18 AM

"I've read 100s of stories on this. Not once have I seen someone who backed action deny there are negatives."

Mr. Dent, let me direct you to the comments of Mr. Thomson.

"The war should be over in less than two weeks."

TWO WEEKS?! This guy actually believes that conquering the entire country of Iraq will take less than half the time (air and ground war) it took to dislodge Iraq from Kuwait!

Is that possible? I suppose so. Is it reasonable to assume that? Hardly.

Mr. Dent, give me just one example of a prominent pro-war voice that has essentially said this "Yeah, we might end up killing a lot of innocent Iraqis and, yeah, our conquering and occupying a Muslim country might, in the short run, push even more people into supporting the agenda of Osama Bin Ladin...but the alternatives are even worse, we have to act now, blah, blah, blah."

They don't do it because they don't want a cost/benefit debate on war in Iraq which they might lose.

They question isn't how bad Saddam is or if getting rid of him would be a good idea. The question is how much might it reasonably cost to accomplish measured against the benefit we and the world can reasonably expect to gain?

Mike

Posted by: Mbunge on February 4, 2003 11:46 AM

Mr. Dent, give me just one example...

If you're too lazy to read the newspapers, or the web for that matter, that's your business. You may not like their conclusions, but the pro-war folks all take account of the costs. They just believe the costs of NOT acting are greater. YMMV.

Posted by: Bucky Dent on February 4, 2003 11:58 AM

Mbunge, see Kenneth Pollack's "The Threatening Storm." Or see the references linked to my web page.

Response to Andres (as a reluctant supporter of war):

(1) European opposition to invading Iraq does not just extend to "weasels" like Gerhard Schroeder and Jacques Chirac. Everywhere in the region one looks at the polls, there is general agreement that the U.S. is rushing in too quickly and should give time to the inspectors to come to an unequivocal conclusion.

Unequivocal conclusion? I thought Blix's January 27 update was pretty clear: Iraq has decided not to disarm, even after the unanimous Security Council resolution. I'm guessing that Powell's speech tomorrow will make it even clearer.

If Iraq won't disarm, the US and its allies need to decide what to do: (1) go to war, (2) rely on deterrence, or (3) withdraw from the region.

All of these options are pretty terrible.

If the US and its allies aren't willing to go to war before Iraq has nuclear weapons, then I don't think deterrence, option (2), is going to work after Iraq has nuclear weapons.

Given a choice between (1) and (3), I think (3) is worse -- it leads to war between Israel and Iraq (Israel isn't going to stand by as Iraq develops nuclear weapons), which in turn destabilizes the entire region because of the hostility between Israel and the Arab world. And Israel has nuclear weapons.

So I think (1) is the least bad option.

Are there other options that I'm missing? If the US and its allies aren't willing to go to war, I don't think containment and sanctions will hold, because there's not much reason for Iraq to continue to cooperate with UNMOVIC, or for Iraq's neighbors to stop smuggling.

(2) To accuse not just Chirac and Schroeder but also the French and German people of cowardice on this issue is stupid and contemptible.

I completely agree.

(3) What Glass and DT call anti-americanism is in actual fact a strong and justified distrust of U.S. administrations, the Bush one in particular.

No comment. (It seems to me that Powell is more favorably perceived than Bush.)

(4) It is unlikely that the people of Iraq will be made better off by an invasion, even considering the brutality of Saddam Hussein.

I certainly agree that this isn't a good reason to go to war. (Note: you may want to read the CFR/Baker report.)

(5) To say that the Iraqui people will not fight because of their hatred of Saddam Hussein may be too optimistic.

Certainly the Republican Guard can be expected to fight. Michael O'Hanlon attempts to estimate US and Iraqi casualties.

(6) The continual shifting of the Bush adm. between pointing at Hussein's weapons of mass-destruction (which, if they are there, are almost certain to be used in the case of an invasion) and pointing to a putative and so far unsupported link with Al-Qaeda indicates that the Bush adm. does not actually have an overwhelming rationale for this war and only wishes to invade because it personally wants it.

I think the disarmament rationale is pretty convincing.

As a Canadian, with a strong interest in international law, I have to say that I'm disturbed by Iraq's defiance of the UN Security Council for the last 12 years, and the success of its diplomatic and propaganda efforts to isolate the US and Britain (see "From the Ashes" or "The Threatening Storm" for a review of the history). Hans Blix's January 27 update made it pretty clear that even with a gun to its head, Iraq has decided not to disarm. The Security Council can't pretend that Iraq is complying. It has to either accept Iraq's defiance and say that it won't do anything about it, or authorize war.

Posted by: Russil Wvong on February 4, 2003 12:07 PM

You may not like their conclusions, but the pro-war folks all take account of the costs.

Oh yeah, they've been *real above board*. Remember how pissed they got at Lindsey for giving a estimate of how much the Iraq war would cost that was higher than the administration's?

About the above, the Jews in Palestine seem to have had this "cancer" at least as early as the 1920s, long before they engaged in ANY military actions there.

This isn't accurate. You make it sound like the Jews already in Palestine in the 1920s were suddenly attacked for no reason because of religious hatred. In actuality, they were attacked because Britain, the new colonial power, was letting Jews emigrate to the region wholesale. I'm not sure what to think of the whole thing; as a vague analogy, imagine what would happen if the US let *all* the mexican citizens who wanted to emigrate to Texas. After all, it was theirs originally, wasn't it? Hmm....

Not that I expect significant arab opposition to post-war Iraq, as long as we give them an actual democracy, but it's good to be accurate about analogies.

Posted by: Jason McCullough on February 4, 2003 12:11 PM

Jason: No one in politics *promotes* the downside of their own proposals. That is different than not taking them into account while crafting a policy.

Posted by: Bucky Dent on February 4, 2003 12:23 PM

Jason, I took a look at your web page. It's hard to disagree with Kanan Makiya, but I'm afraid I have to. This war isn't about democracy in Iraq -- it's about disarmament. If Saddam decides to disarm, the US and its allies are not going to go to war. He'll still be there. If he goes into exile and somebody else who's willing to disarm takes over, the US and its allies are not going to go to war.

A 5% or 10% chance of liberal democracy in Iraq doesn't justify war. It's a hard thing to say -- reading the descriptions of the cruelty of Saddam Hussein's regime, my reaction is, nobody should have to live like this. But I think war for humanitarian reasons is extremely dangerous. Britain, the Soviet Union, the US, and their allies didn't fight World War II for humanitarian reasons; they fought because they had no other choice.

Posted by: Russil Wvong on February 4, 2003 12:40 PM

Bucky Dent said:

Can you distinguish between targeting unsuspecting civilians and targeting well-warned military sites? I can.

So the Afghan wedding party we blew up in September was a "well-warned military site"?

We're going to win a war in Iraq in two weeks, right? Because the Iraqi people, in their hearts, hate Saddam and are going to welcome their liberation by the U.S. with open arms, right? They're going to be so accepting of us, even after we've slaughtered thousands of their brothers, sons, fathers with our "Shock and Awe" attack, because, after all, those Iraqi soldiers were stationed in "well-warned military sites," right?

Me, I might be a little bitter.

Posted by: Tracy on February 4, 2003 12:41 PM

Only a fool pretends wars can be error-free.

Posted by: Bucky Dent on February 4, 2003 12:45 PM

Bucky, I'm still waiting for your own deep and well-thought out ideas. The reason I accuse you of sniping and fisking is because I've never seen you stick your neck out. I have a position which I've made available to all and am defending. You don't.

BTW (David): Lenny Bruce figured out that the best answer to blood-libel is just to admit it. He said that his cousin Ernie confessed -- "Lenny, I was the one who killed Our Lord!" So yeah, I'm personally responsible for Hitler, Stalin, and Mao. Get used to it.

The statement that more than one regime change is involved was from Wolfowitz. You might ask him. Iran was certainly on the list. I have no idea why you are so sure it isn't -- no wonder we're having trouble communicating. Saudi Arabia and Pakistan might ultimately be. I would guess that Syria and Libya are. North Korea?

Posted by: zizka on February 4, 2003 12:56 PM

I make the following predictions:

1. This war is going to happen. Whether it is justified or not is by now irrelevant; it will happen anyway.

2. The Americans will win. A lot of blood will be spilled. I won't estimate numbers of casualties because that depends on how the war is fought, but the ranking will be: a) Iraqi soldiers, b) Iraqi civilians, and then c) American soldiers. If you count in disease and malnutrition, the order of a) and b) will be reversed.

2.1. If Blair holds onto the leadership of his party, the "American" casualties will be mostly British soldiers.

2.2. Canada will offer token logistical support at the last moment. Bush will be rude about it. Two days later he will imply that Canada's support is proof that world opinion is on his side. Somebody else will offer a perfunctory non-apology for the president's rude remarks. Nobody but Canadians will care about this, either way.

3. Bush will miss the chance to declare victory and get out. The US will spend at least six months choosing and installing a puppet government.

4. There will be a newsworthy terrorist incident against American forces in Iraq. Later we will learn that it was not the first such. It will be linked to Al Qaeda.

5. The situation will deteriorate from there. It will become decidedly unpretty.

6. Twenty years from now, people will be looking back and wondering, "What were they thinking? How could they have let this happen?"

Posted by: Canadian Reader on February 4, 2003 01:12 PM

Mr. Wvong,

I actually interviewed Mr. Pollack about his book, but I was pretty sure that Mr. Dent wouldn't be able to come up with Mr. Pollack or any other name.

If most of the pro-war side sounded like Mr. Pollack (who in his book makes a very persuasive case that war in Iraq is, essentially, a bad idea that's become unavoidable), I'd be a lot more comfortable about going into Iraq.

But that's not the case. What bothers me is I detect an undercurrent of irrationality to much of the pro-war side. Let me give you an example.

I saw Hardball one night with Christopher Hitchens and two Republicans (who's names I can't remember) all arguing in support of war. When it came to French opposition to the war, Hitchens said that the French were wrong to oppose the war. That's not what the two Republicans said. They basically took the view that France didn't or shouldn't have the right to have a different view than the US. To those two war hawks, France (and every other country by extension) should just shut up and do whatever the US tells them to do. The idea that another country might have a different philosophy or different national interests appeared to be beyond their ability to comprehend.

For me, it's not just enough that getting rid of Saddam is a good idea. I have to have faith that the people pushing for war know what the hell they're doing.

Mike

Posted by: MBunge on February 4, 2003 01:22 PM

France didn't or shouldn't have the right to have a different view than the US.

Disagreement with France indicates "an undercurrent of irrationality"? Mon dieu!

Posted by: Bucky Dent on February 4, 2003 01:39 PM

For me, it's not just enough that getting rid of Saddam is a good idea. I have to have faith that the people pushing for war know what the hell they're doing.

Can't help you there. I think the neo-conservatives are out of their minds. Ian Buruma thinks that maybe it's because they're ex-Trotskyites.

Personally I'm hoping that Colin Powell prevails in the White House debates. I think his hand would be strengthened if he gets more cooperation from US allies such as Canada.

Posted by: Russil Wvong on February 4, 2003 01:46 PM

"I think his hand would be strengthened if he gets more cooperation from US allies such as Canada."

Canada? This parasitical nation is only interested in leeching off the United States. It refuses to take on the obligations of leadership. Canadians long ago realized that America will take care of their military needs. Sigh, parasites always have contempt for their host.

Oh by the way, Colin Powell was screwed by the French. He's learned his lesson. What's the old saying? Scew me once, and the onus is on you. Screw me twice, and the onus is on me! The leaders of France, Germany, and Canada should be treated with contempt.

Posted by: David Thomson on February 4, 2003 02:06 PM

"To those two war hawks, France (and every other country by extension) should just shut up and do whatever the US tells them to do. The idea that another country might have a different philosophy or different national interests appeared to be beyond their ability to comprehend."

Nobody believes that these nations "should just shut up and do whatever the US tells them to do." On the contrary, rational and vigorous dissent is most welcomed. However, that's not currently what's going on. Countries like Canada, Germany, and France are infected with a severe case of anti-Americanism. They childishly prefer to embrace pacifist nostrums that will most assuredly lead to more bloodshed. These countries refuse to take on the responsibilities of leadership. Why has this occurred? That’s very simple---tacitly, if not even explicitly, they realize that the United States will pull their bacon out of the fire. This may be especially true for Canada which is no more than suburb of its southern neighbor.

Posted by: David Thomson on February 4, 2003 02:18 PM

What was I saying about neo-conservatives? :-) I have to say that it seems unwise to go out of your way to insult your allies. Yes, Canada will support war with Iraq if it's authorized by the UN Security Council.

To neo-conservatives, Europeans and Canadians are a kind of stalking-horse for American liberals, which is why it's fun to insult them ("cheese-eating surrender monkeys"), etc. Timothy Garton Ash on American anti-Europeanism.

Posted by: Russil Wvong on February 4, 2003 02:19 PM

>I can think of a bunch of credible reasons to be to wary of fighting a war in Iraq -- but one next-to-never hears them from the anti-war people. Instead 90% of their arguments boil down to plain anti-Americanism.

If one European may hazard a comment here, on the evidence there are good causes for doubting that the positions of "Europeans" on a war with Iraq are any more monolithic than with Americans and for much the reasons expressed by sceptics here. Any acute observer of European affairs could have detected a thick vein of anti-American sentiment long before the present issue of addressing malevolent intentions by the autocratic and despotic ruler of Iraq along with his country's violations of UN resolutions. Psycho-analysis would likely be as successful in eliciting the motivation for the sentiment as rational discourse or observing the internal political tensions in some countries.

For the present, I suspect many Europeans share the reservations of the 42 American Nobel laureates who signed an open letter opposing a war in the absence of "broad international suuport." Approval of military action by the UN Security Council would be the clearest affirmation of support. But that, of course, is susceptible to national vetoes however compelling the evidence of Iraq's non-compliance with past Council resolutions, as the Nobel laureates doubtless recognised in their chosen drafting.

What, I believe, has concerned Europeans is the prospect of unilateral action against Iraq without any regard at all for the Security Council. The UNO may be flawed for all sorts of reasons but it was part of the post-WW2 settlement intended to prevent or, at least, constrain unilateral aggression by one state against another. The UNO has manifestly failed to accomplish that on many occasions - notable among those being Iraq's past attacks on Iran and Kuwait.

However, the relevant questions are whether the prevalence of aggression would have been greater in the absence of the UNO, or its like, altogether and whether aggression in future would be on a greater scale if the credibility of the UNO is further damaged by unilateral action at the instance of America in the current context. The UNO may be thoroughly imperfect but it is the only international forum with global scope we have and we cannot foresee the future with certainty.

Posted by: Bob Briant on February 4, 2003 02:28 PM

"Yes, Canada will support war with Iraq if it's authorized by the UN Security Council."

I have absolutley no interest in our receiving the authorization of the racist, anti-Semitic, and vile United Nations. This organization needs to be disbanded:

"My son long ago introduced me to the joys of the Onion, the hilarious Web site that features such parodies of the news as "Clinton Deploys Vowels to Bosnia; Cities of Sjlbvdnzv, Grzny to be First Recipients." So when, on the night of the State of the Union address, my son handed me an Internet printout headlined "Iraq to Chair U.N. Disarmament Conference," I was sure he'd been dipping again into the Onion.

"It's better than that, Dad," he said. "It's off CNN."

I should have known. You can't parody the United Nations. It inhabits -- no, it has constructed -- a universe so Orwellian that, yes, Iraq is going to chair the May 12-June 27 session of the United Nations' single most important disarmament negotiating forum."

http://www.jewishworldreview.com/cols/krauthammer013103.asp

Posted by: David Thomson on February 4, 2003 02:30 PM

"The UNO may be thoroughly imperfect but it is the only international forum with global scope we have and we cannot foresee the future with certainty."


There's an outside chance that the UN is salvageable. Unfortunately, the odds are better if we simply start a new world organization. The current situation may be analogous to trying to save a home that is thoroughly infected with termites.

Posted by: David Thomson on February 4, 2003 02:38 PM

Sigh. David, I said the UN Security Council, not the UN. Specifically, the US, Britain, France, Russia, and China. The US doesn't have to convince a majority of the countries in the world; it just has to convince France, Russia, and China.

Hans Morgenthau: "A nation that throws into the scale of international politics the maximum of material power it is capable of mustering will find itself confronted with the maximum effort of all its competitors to equal or surpass its power. It will find that it has no friends, only vassals and enemies."

Posted by: Russil Wvong on February 4, 2003 02:44 PM

Here's an interesting opinion piece:

"A Dove's Guide: How to be an Honest Critic of the War"

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,482-561996,00.html

And after the author goes through the exercise of pointing out the fallacies in all the dubious but common arguments against the war, guess what the "honest" bottom line turns out to be. ;-)

Posted by: Jim Glass on February 4, 2003 02:47 PM

I just coincidentally found the following in www.opinionjournal.com:

“In London's Daily Telegraph, Barbara Amiel argues this makes it a threat to world peace:

By now the United Nations, with its Human Rights Commission chaired by Libya, is not only irrelevant; it is coming perilously close to endangering world peace and security. The majority of its members are in breach of most tenets of the UN Charter and yet these same members are rewarded with plum UN assignments.

In March, Iraq will assume the chairmanship of the UN Conference on Disarmament in Geneva. The UN is rapidly becoming more of a force for harm than good.

Countries that actually practise and value the UN constitution should probably withdraw from it. But at the very least, America, as its chief source of funding, should give the organisation notice after Iraq that reform is necessary.”

http://opinion.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2003/02/04/do0401.xml

Posted by: David Thomson on February 4, 2003 02:55 PM

Mr. Dent,

"Disagreement with France indicates "an undercurrent of irrationality"? Mon dieu!"

So, I can take your childish response to one line taken out of context without any effort to respond to my post's actual point to be your declaration of intellectual surrender?

Mike

Posted by: MBunge on February 4, 2003 02:56 PM

I actually made it a point to make sure the comments were connected in context. And surely you are clever enough to see that using the word "surrender" on this thread, in reference to FRANCE, is a rhetorical error?

Posted by: Bucky Dent on February 4, 2003 03:00 PM

Hey, what the heck is France still doing as a permanent member of the Security Council anyhow?

Microsoft should get France's seat -- it's a lot more important to the world economy.

Posted by: kit on February 4, 2003 03:19 PM

This is really an amazing thread to read all the way through in one sitting. Exhausting.

I have to admit that I am a rather young student of history, but I certainly don't remember when we started bombing Moscow in the '80's. At least that is the connection that I make between Reagan's active strategy against the USSR and Bush's strategy against Iraq. Is that the analogy that Mr. Sullivan and Mr. Thomson were striving for? That is the only comparison that I can draw given the facts of the current strategy (raining bombs on Baghdad) and the implied comparison with the '80's active strategy against the USSR.

Also, it would seem ... disingenuous to say in one post that one should distinguish between targeting unsuspecting civilians and targeting well-warned military sites and then claiming that only a fool pretends wars can be error-free. So, when bombing weddings and allies only the intent matters? Oh, I forgot, those allies were from that parasitical nation to the North. But I thought that they didn't have a military? What were those unthoughtful tourists doing in the middle of a war zone?

By the way, Mr. Thomson, if you really are from Texas you should know that the quote is not

What's the old saying? Scew me once, and the onus is on you. Screw me twice, and the onus is on me!
.

But that it is actually:

There's an old saying in Tennessee ? I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee .. that says, fool me once, shame on ... shame on you. Fool me ... you can't get fooled again.

Posted by: siliconretina on February 4, 2003 03:25 PM

Reagan buried the Soviets by raising the military ante to the point where their economies folded.

And yes, INTENT counts.

Posted by: Bucky Dent on February 4, 2003 03:32 PM

O.K., let’s go back to controversy over the Texas Republican Party’s platform. I will even gladly highlight a few of its more incendiary passages:

“Christian Nation - The Republican Party of Texas reaffirms the United States of America is a Christian nation, which was founded on fundamental Judeo-Christian principles based on the Holy Bible. We also affirm the right of each individual to worship in the religion of his or her choice.”

I personally believe that the United States is a secular nation that owes much to its Christians. Quite frankly, they are right to claim that America was primarily “founded on fundamental Judeo-Christian principles based on the Holy Bible.’” It doesn’t bother me a whit to give them credit. However, our secular ethos demands that we rationally decide whether these values still hold water for us in today’s world.

“Our Party pledges to do everything within its power to restore the original intent of the First Amendment of the United States and dispel the myth of the separation of Church and State”

The “original intent” sentence could have been formulated in a clearer manner. Once again, though, the ACLU’s vicious attack on religion should be resounded defeated. This organization goes a bit too far. Our founding fathers, many of them deists, never envisioned a government that would desire to eradicated religion totally out of the body politic.

http://www.browncountytexasrepublicanparty.com/2002txreppltfrm/promotingindividualfreedomandpersonalsafety.html


Posted by: David Thomson on February 4, 2003 03:43 PM

Jason, Jason, Jason. You once again get your facts all wrong. First, the claim was that Israel's troubles were the result of its military victories. Obviously not true.

Second, Palestine was NOT the Arabs' territory. It had been part of the Ottoman Empire, and the Turks gave permission for the Jewish settlers to move in. The Jews were very careful to BUY only land not in use by Arabs. Swampland, which they drained and started orange groves. It was only with the success the Jews had that Arabs moved into Palestine in any numbers (read Mark Twain's account of Palestine--prior to the Zionist movement--in "Innocents Abroad".

Third, when Turkey lost its empire in 1918, Britain and France doled out the territory to Arabs: Iraq, Syria, Transjordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt etc. Except for this tiny little sliver of land on the Mediterranean they were going to make the Jewish homeland. You almost can't see it on a map it's so small.

But even that tiny little bit was too much for the Mufti of Jerusalem and his thugs, so they rioted and killed Jews FOR NO REASON. Other than blind hatred. They have been trying to kill every Israeli ever since, and to eradicate the state of Israel. But I repeat, the killing of Jews by Arabs predates any military action by Israel.

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on February 4, 2003 04:02 PM

Patrick writes: It was only with the success the Jews had that Arabs moved into Palestine in any numbers.

Sorry, this isn't true. Yehoshua Porath, reviewing "From Time Immemorial":

The precise demographic history of modern Palestine cannot be summed up briefly, but its main features are clear enough and they are very different from the fanciful description Mrs. Peters gives. It is true that in the middle of the nineteenth century there was neither a "Palestinian nation" nor a "Palestinian identity." But about four hundred thousand Arabs—the great majority of whom were Muslims — lived in Palestine, which was divided by the Ottomans into three districts. Some of these people were the descendants of the pre-Islamic population that had adopted Islam and the Arabic language; others were members of Bedouin tribes, although the penetration of Bedouins was drastically curtailed after the mid-nineteenth century, when the Ottoman authorities became stronger and more efficient.

As all the research by historians and geographers of modern Palestine shows, the Arab population began to grow again in the middle of the nineteenth century. That growth resulted from a new factor: the demographic revolution. Until the 1850s there was no "natural" increase of the population, but this began to change when modern medical treatment was introduced and modern hospitals were established, both by the the Ottoman authorities and by the foreign Christian missionaries. The number of births remained steady but infant mortality decreased. This was the main reason for Arab population growth, not incursions into the country by the wandering tribes who by then had become afraid of the much more efficient Ottoman troops. Toward the end of Ottoman rule the various contemporary sources no longer lament the outbreak of widespread epidemics. This contrasts with the Arabic chronicles of previous periods in which we find horrible descriptions of recurrent epidemics — typhoid, cholera, bubonic plague—decimating the population. Under the British Mandate, with still better sanitary conditions, more hospitals, and further improvements in medical treatment, the Arab population continued to grow.

A brief summary of the origins of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, based on William Polk's "The Arab World Today." I don't think a good guys vs. bad guys view of the conflict is particularly helpful.

Posted by: Russil Wvong on February 4, 2003 04:35 PM

How about a "bad guys vs. bad guys" view? Likud hopes to someday expel all Palestinians from the West Bank. Hamas and the hard-core of the PA hope to someday expel all Israelis from the Middle East...

Posted by: Brad DeLong on February 4, 2003 04:57 PM

>>Second, Palestine was NOT the Arabs' territory. It had been part of the Ottoman Empire, and the Turks gave permission for the Jewish settlers to move in. The Jews were very careful to BUY only land not in use by Arabs. Swampland, which they drained and started orange groves. It was only with the success the Jews had that Arabs moved into Palestine in any numbers (read Mark Twain's account of Palestine--prior to the Zionist movement--in "Innocents Abroad". Third, when Turkey lost its empire in 1918, Britain and France doled out the territory to Arabs: Iraq, Syria, Transjordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt etc. Except for this tiny little sliver of land on the Mediterranean they were going to make the Jewish homeland.<<

Winston Churchill would disagree. I recall one speech of his where he said that the policy of the British Empire was that Palestine would become a national homeland for the Jews, but that that was not meant to imply that it would not also be a national homeland for (Palestinian) Arabs.

Posted by: Brad DeLong on February 4, 2003 04:59 PM

"I actually made it a point to make sure the comments were connected in context. And surely you are clever enough to see that using the word "surrender" on this thread, in reference to FRANCE, is a rhetorical error?"

Okay, Mr. Dent. I went back and looked at my post to determine if I was unclear. I wasn't. So, I can only assume that you are either 6 years old or have suffered some sort of brain injury that limits your comprehension.

Disagreeing with France is not irrational and I never claimed it was. I sought to illustrate the irrational element of the pro-war crowd by contrasting the positions of Mr. Hitchens with two GOP war hawks.

Mr. Hitchens criticized the French for what he considered their craven and insincere objections to war in Iraq. He thought the French were wrong, but he accepted the French had the right to make the decision for themselves even if they were wrong.

The two Republicans, however, didn't really concern themselves with whether France was right or wrong. To them, France's reasons for being against the war were meaningless because they didn't seem to believe that France had the right to make that decision. They clearly thought that France, and probably every other country, should just do whatever the US tells them to do without any consideration for their individual perspective, philosophy or national interests.

Let me try to put in in terms I hope even you can understand. It's one thing to say "I am correct and you are wrong to disagree with me". It's quite something else to say "I am correct and you con't have the right to disagree with me".

Mike

By the way, the "surrender" reference was intentional because you, like the French government in WWII, seem completely unwilling to actually engage in a meaningful struggle. You just sit behind your intellectual barricades and try to pretend that your position is not being overrun.

Posted by: MBunge on February 4, 2003 05:22 PM

Since I had not seen the exchanges you chronicled, nor am I clairvoyant, I read what you wrote literally and drew the conclusion you saw.

As for WWII surrenders, my Polish ancestors fought bravely on horseback against the Wehrmacht's tanks, and fell.

As for positions being overrun, I look at the public opinion polls, UN resolutions, Congressional votes, non-Franco-German European govt statements, etc., and conclude that it is not *my* position that is being overrun.

Posted by: Bucky Dent on February 4, 2003 05:31 PM

Mr. Thomson-

Thanks for quoting two passages of the Texas Republican Party Platform. Yes, one can make the case that some Judeo-Christian ideas may have had some influence on the formation of our country. However, the stronger case is made for the influence of the "Enlightment" and its thinkers who were much more influenced by the ancient Greeks and their offshoots than the ancient Hebrews. I don't recall much in the Bible about how to structure governments. One could argue that had Jesus not said "render unto Caesar...etc" Western civilization might have gone the way of Islam, but I suspect the momentum was too strong.

I also don't see what the ACLU has to do with this discussion. It's approach has been to guard against government support of religion, not to prevent religion.

Do you think our federal government should support various religious institutions by funelling tax dollars to them? The last time I looked, money was still fungible, so rules limiting its use are essentially meaningless.

If so, which ones?

From what you write, it doesn't seem you are really too keen on this idea.

A close reading of the document in question leaves little doubt what the authors have in mind. They wish to achieve state support for their particular religious view of the world.

Are you in favor of this?

Posted by: Sam Taylor on February 4, 2003 05:38 PM

Likud hopes to someday expel all Palestinians from the West Bank. Hamas and the hard-core of the PA hope to someday expel all Israelis from the Middle East.

Do you mean to draw a morally equivalent parallel between the legally and freely elected government of the State of Israel, brought to power only after waves of treaty-abrogating terror, and Hamas?

Posted by: Bucky Dent on February 4, 2003 05:44 PM

A close reading of the document in question leaves little doubt what the authors have in mind. They wish to achieve state support for their particular religious view of the world.


Posted by Sam Taylor at February 4, 2003 05:38 PM

FROM THE DOCUMENT:

Religion

The Party acknowledges that the church is a Godordained institution with a sphere of authority separate from that of civil government; thus, churches, synagogues and other places of worship, including home Bible study groups, should not be regulated, controlled, or taxed by any level of civil government, including the Social Security Administration. We reclaim freedom of religious expression in public on government property, and freedom from governmental interference. We request the Governor to release space to reinstate a chapel in the Texas Capitol.

Free Exercise of Religion

The Party believes all Americans have the right to practice their religious faith free of persecution, intimidation, and violence. We call on Congress to sanction any country that is guilty of persecuting its citizens because of their religious beliefs. Our Party pledges to do everything within its power to restore the original intent of the First Amendment of the United States and dispel the myth of the separation of Church and State.

The text does not support this statement: "They wish to achieve state support for their particular religious view of the world."

More religion? Yes. THEIR PARTICULAR RELIGIOUS VIEW? No.

Posted by: Bucky Dent on February 4, 2003 05:58 PM

Brad writes: How about a "bad guys vs. bad guys" view?

It seems to me that there's actually three conflicts going on: one between the Israelis and the Palestinians, one on the Israeli side between the hard-liners and the soft-liners, and one on the Palestinian side between the PA and Hamas.

The fragmentation of both Israeli and Palestinian politics is disheartening. The best hope for peace may simply be eventual exhaustion on both sides. But I don't know how long that's going to take.

Posted by: Russil Wvong on February 4, 2003 06:18 PM

“It seems to me that there's actually three conflicts going on: one between the Israelis and the Palestinians, one on the Israeli side between the hard-liners and the soft-liners, and one on the Palestinian side between the PA and Hamas.”

It’s time to put a halt to this moral equivalency nonsense. The polls indicate that about 65% of all Palestinians support the suicide bombers. Israeli Jews who murder Palestinians are few and far between. They couldn’t win a political race for dog catcher. Also, their court system prosecutes them to the fullest extent of the law. When is the last time a Jew has deliberately pulled the trigger on a young child? Do I really need to continue?

The Israelis are willing to resolve their differences via the ballot box. This is definitely not the case regarding the Palestinian hard-liners. The latter are nihilists who must either be killed or jailed if there is to be any chance for peace.

Posted by: David Thomson on February 4, 2003 07:42 PM

"By the way, the 'surrender' reference was intentional because you, like the French government in WWII, seem completely unwilling to actually engage in a meaningful struggle."

Not true. Read Ernest May, Strange Victory. France put up a good fight. It lost for other reasons.

Posted by: ben on February 4, 2003 07:47 PM

Jason: No one in politics *promotes* the downside of their own proposals.

It was just an example of the tendency there's been on the right to shut discussion down. Bush's ever-shifting rationales, only one of which holds any water (regional nukes), and conservatives' bent for engaging in character assassination of anyone who's opposed to the war, are others.

Patrick, I'm sorry you believe that silly interpretation of the region's history.

Jason, I took a look at your web page. It's hard to disagree with Kanan Makiya, but I'm afraid I have to. This war isn't about democracy in Iraq -- it's about disarmament. If Saddam decides to disarm, the US and its allies are not going to go to war. He'll still be there. If he goes into exile and somebody else who's willing to disarm takes over, the US and its allies are not going to go to war.
A 5% or 10% chance of liberal democracy in Iraq doesn't justify war. It's a hard thing to say -- reading the descriptions of the cruelty of Saddam Hussein's regime, my reaction is, nobody should have to live like this. But I think war for humanitarian reasons is extremely dangerous. Britain, the Soviet Union, the US, and their allies didn't fight World War II for humanitarian reasons; they fought because they had no other choice.

Well, I oversold how convincing I find it; if Saddam was really no threat at all, I'm not sure if I could justify an invasion to remove him. As is, with it disturbingly likely he'll either blow up the world economy by screwing around with oil supplies (nukes? commando raids?) or finlandize SA, I have no qualms at all.

Rather, I'd have no qualms if I was totally convinced Bush is going to give Iraq a democracy. I'm only at 90%, but I'm hoping.

We request the Governor to release space to reinstate a chapel in the Texas Capitol.

Looks like state establishment of religion to me. I kind of doubt they'll let muslims hold services there.....

Posted by: Jason McCullough on February 4, 2003 07:55 PM

Jason: No one in politics *promotes* the downside of their own proposals.

It was just an example of the tendency there's been on the right to shut discussion down. Bush's ever-shifting rationales, only one of which holds any water (regional nukes), and conservatives' bent for engaging in character assassination of anyone who's opposed to the war, are others.

Patrick, I'm sorry you believe that silly interpretation of the region's history.

Jason, I took a look at your web page. It's hard to disagree with Kanan Makiya, but I'm afraid I have to. This war isn't about democracy in Iraq -- it's about disarmament. If Saddam decides to disarm, the US and its allies are not going to go to war. He'll still be there. If he goes into exile and somebody else who's willing to disarm takes over, the US and its allies are not going to go to war.
A 5% or 10% chance of liberal democracy in Iraq doesn't justify war. It's a hard thing to say -- reading the descriptions of the cruelty of Saddam Hussein's regime, my reaction is, nobody should have to live like this. But I think war for humanitarian reasons is extremely dangerous. Britain, the Soviet Union, the US, and their allies didn't fight World War II for humanitarian reasons; they fought because they had no other choice.

Well, I oversold how convincing I find it; if Saddam was really no threat at all, I'm not sure if I could justify an invasion to remove him. As is, with it disturbingly likely he'll either blow up the world economy by screwing around with oil supplies (nukes? commando raids?) or finlandize SA, I have no qualms at all.

Rather, I'd have no qualms if I was totally convinced Bush is going to give Iraq a democracy. I'm only at 90%, but I'm hoping.

We request the Governor to release space to reinstate a chapel in the Texas Capitol.

Looks like state establishment of religion to me. I kind of doubt they'll let muslims hold services there.....

Posted by: Jason McCullough on February 4, 2003 07:57 PM

Patrick, you have been deceived in respect to Arab settlement in Palestine. Joan Peters' book (which I assume is your source) is merely David Irving in mirror-image. See here.

Posted by: Andrew Lazarus on February 4, 2003 08:15 PM

What are the rules on namecalling on this site? I accused a certain person of chicken-hearted fisking and sniping, and I was called on it. (By the way, Bucky, where IS that statement of your deep and well-thought-out beliefs?) On the other hand, I've been repeatedly accused of supporting Stalin, Hitler, and Mao and causing the deaths of tens of millions of people, and just now the UN was described as "racist, anti-Semitic, and vile." I actually have excellent gutter skills, but I've been holding back. Should I continue to do so?

When advocates od Israel use the provincial designations of the Ottoman to prove that the Palestinians do not exist, you have to give up on them. By that logic, most Eastern European nations don't exist either.

And please DON'T tell me that the cases are not exactly the same because **of course they're not!!** My point is that that kind of argument is worthless and discredits anyone who uses it.

Posted by: zizka on February 4, 2003 08:29 PM

I have no intention of being distracted by Mr Sullivan's attempts to shoehorn the Black Book of Communism into this thread, and reiterate my point that NATO's appeasement of the expansionist militarism of the USSR between 1945 and 1980, and of China between 1953 and 1989, did not result in disastrous consequences, and particularly, that they did not result in more loss of life than a war between NATO and the USSR and/or China would have done.

Which is, at bottom, the correct argument against war with Saddam Hussein; that it is less of a risk to the safety of the Western World to continue with a policy of containment ("appeasement", before it was appropriated by the Newspeak-merchants of the blogosphere, used to refer to acquiescence to an expansionary power!), than for the USA to attempt to build an Empire in the Middle East without having the political will to fund it, which is precisely what the French and Germans are worried about.

Posted by: dsquared on February 4, 2003 11:38 PM

Hey Bucky:

This is from the Heritage foundation via Joe Conason. Yeah, the Heritage Foundation is not part of the Bush administration. But the connections are close, and this should be evidence that I'm not just making things up about the Bush Administration's larger plans.

Feb. 3, 2003 This morning I heard ....an "expert on Anglo-American security policy" at the Heritage Foundation on the "Brian Lehrer Show" on WNYC, my superb local NPR station.....

Incidentally, the Heritage expert also promises that if he and his cronies have their way, the war in Iraq will merely be "the first of a number of potential conflicts to be fought in the early part of the 21st century."

Frankly, though, Bucky, I wonder. If I convince you that the Bush administration really does plan a series of wars rather than just the one in Iraq -- wouldn't you just back up a step, start over, and start fisking again?:

"OK, fine. So what's wrong with that? Just because we just went to war against Iraq, does that mean we can't go to war against Iran and N. Korea and Libya and Syria too?"

Posted by: zizka on February 5, 2003 12:16 AM

I had to say this a couple days ago elsewhere, but here goes again. Mark Twain was a man of letters and a humorist. He should not be read as an authority on questions of fact.

Posted by: zizka on February 5, 2003 12:27 AM

A private foundation quoted by Joe Conason? There's a source I can trust.

Did they say they wanted/expected the Bushies to initiate the use of force too? Or were they merely stating the obvious, that is, that wars will occur during this century?

Posted by: Bucky Dent on February 5, 2003 03:18 AM

"We request the Governor to release space to reinstate a chapel in the Texas Capitol.

Looks like state establishment of religion to me. I kind of doubt they'll let muslims hold services there....."

That is an utterly ridiculous statement. A chapel can be nondenominational. And yes, I'm sure that Muslims will also be able to hold services in it.


"I had to say this a couple days ago elsewhere, but here goes again. Mark Twain was a man of letters and a humorist. He should not be read as an authority on questions of fact."

Mark Twain was also something of a journalist. He went into a fair degree of detail in his famous "Innocents Abroad." See for yourself:

http://www.shechem.org/machon/mtwain/45.htm

Posted by: David Thomson on February 5, 2003 04:10 AM

A private foundation quoted by Joe Conason? There's a source I can trust.

The referenced show is here. The referenced quote is in the 2nd clip, starting 12:45 minutes in.

"However, it has to be said that if Iran cooperated (nicely?) with Al-Queda, if Iran continues to support international terrorism, if it continues its production of weapons of mass destruction, I think there's every chance that Iran could well be next in line for regime change."

"I do believe the United States will initially resort to diplomatic initiatives, but I would not rule out action being taken against Iran in the coming years. But hopefully, the reformers within Iran will gain the upper hand in the years to come, and there won't be a need for regime change, but I wouldn't actually rule out the possibility of having to act militarily against Iran."

The controversial things to my ears in this are WMD production and "support of international terrorism" as Casus Belli; reserving the right to invade anyone who produces WMD, even if they're not aggressive (Iran doesn't have Iraq's reckless history of miliary aggression), and reserving the right to invade anyone who supports terrorism, apparently no matter the targets (e.g., not us.) The Al-Queda thing isn't anything new, but the other two set off the klaxons.

Then, about 19 and a half minutes in, they talk about the human rights issue:

"I think that in the 21st century, the threshold, tolerance for dictatorship, Iraq will be below it," ..... (crosstalk) .....

Host talks about how a bunch of the hawks on this war were opposed to the "social work" wars of Bosnia, Somalia, etc, asks if the Heritage guy agrees.

"No, in my own view, the west has a moral duty to take action against barbaric dictatorships. In the case of Iraq, it happens to be an issue of national security combined with humanitarian influence. I think a war against Iraq may be the first of a number of potential conflicts to be fought in the first part of the twenty-first century against regimes that simply do not respect the civil liberties of their own population."

Host asks if he has an example country in mind where war is justified to liberate the populace from their own repressive regime, where the west has no vital interests at stake.

"For example, I think in southern africa the west may well have to take action to prevent the forced starvation of millions and millions of people; I would see that as a possible (garbled). But each case has to be regarded on its own merits."

In other words, "member of politically wired conservative think-tank says human rights, WMD production in itself, and the support of "terrorism", unqualified, should be considered grounds for invasion, *in general*.

I'm not sure what to think of it, but note that Conason didn't exaggerate his statements; if anything, he soft-pedaled the implications.

Posted by: Jason McCullough on February 5, 2003 04:32 AM

I can think of a bunch of credible reasons to be to wary of fighting a war in Iraq -- but one next-to-never hears them from the anti-war people. Instead 90% of their arguments boil down to plain anti-Americanism.

Maybe this is accurate; I'm not sure. This certainly is, however: there's a bunch of credible reasons to favor fighting a war in Iraq - but one next-to-never hears them from the administration. Instead 90% of their arguments boil down to plain lying.

Posted by: Jason McCullough on February 5, 2003 04:34 AM

human rights, WMD production in itself, and the support of "terrorism", unqualified, should be considered grounds for invasion, *in general*.

Thanks for all the detail you posted.

There are strong arguments to be made on both sides here.

Note Clinton's actions in Haiti and Yugoslavia, along with the Sudanese attack, lay the rhetorical groundwork for concluding such a policy mix is merely a continuation of a pre-existing modus operendi.

Personally, I favor a modestly assertive foreign policy, a Pax Americana if you will. The alternatives, more 9/11s, WMD enabled loonies like Saddam arming roving madmen, avoidable mass starvation in places like Africa, argue in favor of such a stance. I, of course, acknowledge the downsides too.

Posted by: Bucky Dent on February 5, 2003 05:47 AM

>>Personally, I favor a modestly assertive foreign policy, a Pax Americana if you will<<

Which is why it is neither hypocritical nor stupid to point out the role of oil in this conflict. The slope from a "modestly assertive Pax Americana" to an "American Empire" is pretty bloody slippery to begin with, and the presence of a very large economic incentive makes it a damn sight slippier.

Posted by: dsquared on February 5, 2003 08:43 AM

Slippery slopes lie along all paths. Passivity too offers incremental risks.

Posted by: Bucky Dent on February 5, 2003 08:48 AM

Pax Americana is not a modest foreign policy and will certainly lead to bad outcomes, though these outcomes may not surface until well after the Bushies are out of office. At best, it will lead to intolerable financial burdens, resulting withdrawal, and subsequent low world esteem for the country involved(e.g., Pax Britannica). At worst, it will lead to barbarians/terrorists overrunning at least part of the empire (e.g., Pax Romana, Pax Islamica). Such is the effect of failing to recognize that pax must always be based on negotiation and dialogue, not on a big stick and the willingness to use it.

I'm actually surprised that I got some intelligent responses to my previous post and not just the expected fisking (I'm a neophyte here: what is the origin of this word?). I'll address the following comments to Russil Wvong, who made most of these responses.

If there is a justifiable case to be made for this war, it has to be based on giving the people of Iraq a decent and democratic government, though I don't think the Bush administration can be relied on to achieve this goal. Disarmament by itself is just not satisfactory as a cause for war. In effect, the Bush adm. is establishing a precedent that if they don't like your government and add you to the Axis of Evil list, then they will use disarmament as a pretext for invading your country and overthrowing your government. Note that last years SOU speech predates the all-out effort to get Iraq to accept inspectors. Now Iran is probably joining North Korea in a race to develop WMD's before the U.S. finds some other casus belli. Cuba, Libya, Syria, and maybe even Venezuela under Chavez may not be far behind. The Bush policy is almost deliberately aimed at provoking nuclear proliferation.

Instead, the United States and Europe should concentrate on putting in place a calculus of outcomes which will be so stark that even Saddam Hussein will understand it. As follows: (1) We will not invade you for human rights considerations unless you are currently carrying out a genocide or ethnic clensing of your population (we had this pretext in 1988 but irresponsibly chose to ignore it) (2) If you invade a foreign country, we will overthrow your government by military means, (3) If you use WMD's against any of your neighbors, we will annihilate you, though not necessarily by the same means, (4) If you cooperate fully with inspectors (as opposed to your current inconsistencies) and fully disarm, and as long as you don't invade neighbors or support terrorism, we will lift the sanctions against you, though the no-fly zone in Kurdistan will remain. (5) Any terrorist attack that has any remotely plausible evidence of your cooperation will bring about your immediate overthrow. Not to mention that Islamic terrorists like Al-Qaeda have every reason to use these weapons against your violently secularist government.

Granted, this will leave Hussein free to brutalize his own people. The alternative however, is (a) thousands, possibly tens of thousands of Iraqui civilians dead due to U.S. bombing, (b) thousands of dead Iraqi soldiers, many of whom will fight the U.S. to the death, (c) all remaining civilian infrastructure destroyed, especially water and sewage, leading to drastically increased disease and infant mortality, (d) continued terrorist attacks against U.S. forces in Iraq--many Iraquis lost family members from bombing in 1991 and later, (e) terrorist and Iranian support for any anti-US guerrillas in the region--Iran has nothing to lose given the Axis of Evil rhetoric, (f) Increased recruitment by Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups, and (g) a possibly unsavory U.S. puppet regime installed in Baghdad which also suppresses dissent and sells cheap oil to the U.S.

This, I think, is a realistic presentation of the choices. It will be up to Bush to decide. Too bad.

Posted by: andres on February 5, 2003 08:57 AM

I fail to see how Winston Churchill disagrees with what I wrote. Did I not point out that "Israel" would have been just a tiny sliver of Palestine in 1936? Who do you think would have gotten the rest?

Similarly, in 1947, the UN created two states, one Jewish, one Arab, in Palestine. David Ben Gurion immediately gave a famous speech of conciliation, part of which was:

<<--------quote--------
History has been harsh to us, perhaps, setting burdensome conditions which
complicate our homecoming; but it has set conditions too which, in the final
accounting, will not only allow but will compel Arab and Jew to work
together, because they need and complement each other. ....

A final fact. From our work in Palestine, from the society we are
constructing, our economy and science, our culture and humanity, our social
and fiscal order, and from no other source, must enlightenment come to our
neighbours, for if they do not learn from us and labour with us, it is with
strangers, potent and tyrannous, that they will find themselves partnered.

They in turn have much to give us, they are blessed with what we lack. Great
territories, ample for themselves and their children's children, even if
they are far more prolific than they are today. We do not covet their
expanses nor will we penetrate them - for we shall fight to end Diaspora in
Arab lands as fiercely as we fought to end it in Europe, we want to be
assembled wholly in our own Land. But if this region is to expand to the
full, there must be reciprocity, there can be mutual aid - economic,
political and cultural - between Jew and Arab. That is the necessity which
will prevail, and the daily fulminations of their leaders should not alarm
us unduly - they do not echo the real interests of the Arab peoples.

Come what may, we will not surrender our right to free Aliyah, to rebuild
our shattered Homeland, to claim statehood. If we are attacked, we will
fight back. But we will do everything in our power to maintain peace, and
establish a Cupertino gainful to both. It is now, here and now, from
Jerusalem itself, that a call must go out to the Arab nations to join forces
with Jewry and the destined Jewish State and work shoulder to shoulder for
our common good, for the peace and progress of sovereign equals.
------endquote------->>

Perhaps Jason will offer his opinion as to what the Grand Mufti's response to that speech was?

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on February 5, 2003 09:25 AM

Fisk

verb. To deconstruct an article on a point by point basis in a highly critical manner. Derived from the name of journalist Robert Fisk, a frequent target of such critical articles in the blogosphere (qv).

From http://www.samizdata.net/blog/glossary_archives/001961.html#001961

Posted by: Bucky Dent on February 5, 2003 09:38 AM

""For example, I think in southern africa the west may well have to take action to prevent the forced starvation of millions and millions of people; I would see that as a possible (garbled). But each case has to be regarded on its own merits."

In other words, "member of politically wired conservative think-tank says human rights, WMD production in itself, and the support of "terrorism", unqualified, should be considered grounds for invasion, *in general*.

I'm not sure what to think of it, but note that Conason didn't exaggerate his statements; if anything, he soft-pedaled the implications."

The United States is obviously placed in a no-win, damn if you do, and damned if you don’t situation. I can well remember many Liberals saying that the United States didn’t do enough militarily to prevent the starvation of millions in Africa. Let’s face it, these folks are simply hostile to anything the United States might do whatsoever. Hey, why can’t we call them racists? Don’t they think it’s worth saving the lives of black people? Are they members of the KKK?

Posted by: David Thomson on February 5, 2003 10:00 AM

Bucky, the longer this goes on the worse you look. Most people know what the Heritage foundation is, and its significance. And do you have some reason to believe that Conason is inaccurate or dishonest in this case? Or that he has a track record of inaccuracy or dishonesty? You seem to think that just repeating his name makes your point. You had to say something, and that's all you could think of.

Your spasmodic fisking is starting to embarass your friends. I had more interesting people to argue with when I was in ninth grade.

Why not back up now, and start fisking from the point of view that the big Bush plan is a good one? Lots of sharp people (Perle, Wolfowitz) LIKE this plan.

Posted by: zizka on February 5, 2003 10:35 AM

Are they members of the KKK?

The most senior Senate Democrat was one, after all.

Posted by: Bucky Dent on February 5, 2003 10:51 AM

Andres writes: Such is the effect of failing to recognize that pax must always be based on negotiation and dialogue, not on a big stick and the willingness to use it.

Right. As Louis Halle comments in "The Cold War as History" (1967): "Real power is always something far greater than military power alone. A balance of power is not a balance of military power alone: it is, rather, a balance in which military power is one element. Even in its crudest aspect, power represents a subtle and intimate combination of force and consent. No stable government has ever existed, and no empire has ever become established, except with an immensely preponderant measure of consent on the part of those who were its subjects. That consent may be a half-grudging consent; it may be a consent based in part on awe of superior force; it may represent love, or respect, or fear, or a combination of the three. Consent, in any case, is the essential ingredient in stable power--more so than physical force, of which the most efficient and economical use is to increase consent."

The United States and Europe should concentrate on putting in place a calculus of outcomes which will be so stark that even Saddam Hussein will understand it. As follows: (1) We will not invade you for human rights considerations unless you are currently carrying out a genocide or ethnic clensing of your population (we had this pretext in 1988 but irresponsibly chose to ignore it) (2) If you invade a foreign country, we will overthrow your government by military means, (3) If you use WMD's against any of your neighbors, we will annihilate you, though not necessarily by the same means, (4) If you cooperate fully with inspectors (as opposed to your current inconsistencies) and fully disarm, and as long as you don't invade neighbors or support terrorism, we will lift the sanctions against you, though the no-fly zone in Kurdistan will remain. (5) Any terrorist attack that has any remotely plausible evidence of your cooperation will bring about your immediate overthrow. Not to mention that Islamic terrorists like Al-Qaeda have every reason to use these weapons against your violently secularist government.

A policy of deterrence, in other words.

Granted, this will leave Hussein free to brutalize his own people. The alternative however, is (a) thousands, possibly tens of thousands of Iraqui civilians dead due to U.S. bombing, (b) thousands of dead Iraqi soldiers, many of whom will fight the U.S. to the death, (c) all remaining civilian infrastructure destroyed, especially water and sewage, leading to drastically increased disease and infant mortality, (d) continued terrorist attacks against U.S. forces in Iraq--many Iraquis lost family members from bombing in 1991 and later, (e) terrorist and Iranian support for any anti-US guerrillas in the region--Iran has nothing to lose given the Axis of Evil rhetoric, (f) Increased recruitment by Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups, and (g) a possibly unsavory U.S. puppet regime installed in Baghdad which also suppresses dissent and sells cheap oil to the U.S.

Consequences (a) to (g) are certainly very, very bad. The problem is that if the US aren't willing to go to war now, they'll be even less likely to do so once Iraq has nuclear weapons. Therefore the calculus of consequences falls apart. In other words, I don't see how deterrence can work if the US and its allies aren't willing to go to war now.

It simply isn't credible for the US to say, "Well, okay, we're not going to go to war with you now, when you don't have nuclear weapons, even though you're defying the UN Security Council. But, but, once you do have nuclear weapons, if you invade your neighbors, we're definitely going to go to war!" I imagine Saddam Hussein would be thinking, yeah, right. The US is going to go to war, in the face of nuclear weapons, to save Saudi Arabia?

Deterrence, when it comes down to it, means credible threats. During the Cold War, the US and its allies successfully deterred a Soviet takeover of West Berlin because the US was willing to go to war, even if this meant the nuclear annihilation of Western Europe and the US homeland.

We're in another such eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation. If the US and its allies back down now, deterrence isn't going to work, because threats won't be credible.

That's why I'm reluctantly supporting war, if Saddam Hussein doesn't cave. I suppose there's still an outside chance that he might. But frankly, I doubt it.

There's another counter-argument: isn't the "war now or nuclear war later" argument simply an updated version of the Austrian reasoning on the eve of World War I--namely, that the chance of winning a war sooner was better than later? (Bismarck's sardonic comment: preventive war is "suicide for fear of death.") Wouldn't it be better to avoid war altogether by accepting political defeat -- in this case, withdrawing from the Middle East, and letting Saddam Hussein develop nuclear weapons and dominate the region?

Unfortunately, I don't see how it's possible to do this without having the region go up in flames. Israel's not going to stand by as Iraq's power grows. Neither is Iran. Israel already has nuclear weapons, and I'd guess that Iran is pursuing them.

Like I said, I think all the choices are terrible, but of the three--(1) war, (2) deterrence, (3) withdrawal--I think going to war is the least bad.

Note that George Kennan, whose opinion I respect a great deal, disagrees; he thinks it ought to be possible for the US to withdraw and leave it to the other countries in the region to deal with Saddam Hussein. He doesn't go into a lot of detail, so I don't know how he foresees dealing with the resulting power vacuum.

Posted by: Russil Wvong on February 5, 2003 10:53 AM

I think all the choices are terrible, but of the three--(1) war, (2) deterrence, (3) withdrawal--I think going to war is the least bad.

I believe that's the best executive summary of our situation.

Posted by: Bucky Dent on February 5, 2003 11:01 AM

"Most people know what the Heritage foundation is, and its significance. And do you have some reason to believe that Conason is inaccurate or dishonest in this case?"

I have no problem whatsoever with the excerpts I've seen of Joe Conason's report on the fellow from the Heritage Foundation. If anything, it deserves a "so what?"

Yep, I readily agree with "the Heritage expert also promises that if he and his cronies have their way, the war in Iraq will merely be 'the first of a number of potential conflicts to be fought in the early part of the 21st century.'" Sound very sensible to me. Does anyone in their right mind think it's not?

Posted by: David Thomson on February 5, 2003 11:08 AM

Thanks, Bucky. I guess we'll see what happens Real Soon Now. Next big event will be the inspectors' report on February 14.

Posted by: Russil Wvong on February 5, 2003 11:16 AM

"Note that George Kennan, whose opinion I respect a great deal, disagrees; he thinks it ought to be possible for the US to withdraw and leave it to the other countries in the region to deal with Saddam Hussein. He doesn't go into a lot of detail, so I don't know how he foresees dealing with the resulting power vacuum."

George Kennan, who is close to one hundred years old, is out to lunch. The Arab nations in the area surrounding Iraq are too impotent to resolve these issues. Sadly, the United States and its Western allies must handle the major share of the burden.

"There's another counter-argument: isn't the "war now or nuclear war later" argument simply an updated version of the Austrian reasoning on the eve of World War I--namely, that the chance of winning a war sooner was better than later? (Bismarck's sardonic comment: preventive war is "suicide for fear of death.")"

Our set of circumstances are totally different from those revolving around World War I. The royal leaders of those nations, especially Germany, were bored with peace. They started that horrible conflagration merely to put excitement back into their lives. Also, many folks truly believed that massive bloodshed would act as seeds ultimately giving birth to a new age of vitality and strength. Sigh, many of them were indeed your stereotypical war lovers.

Posted by: David Thomson on February 5, 2003 11:28 AM

Note Clinton's actions in Haiti and Yugoslavia, along with the Sudanese attack, lay the rhetorical groundwork for concluding such a policy mix is merely a continuation of a pre-existing modus operendi.

Of course, and I'm not even what my opinion is of the whole thing. It's a gigantic shift in policy, though, and most importantly, you might want to refrain from disbelieving something just because Conason quotes it.

Perhaps Jason will offer his opinion as to what the Grand Mufti's response to that speech was?

To be intentionally inflammatory: perhaps if Saddam Hussein gave a similar speech all would be forgiven? Actions matter, not words.

Posted by: Jason McCullough on February 5, 2003 11:43 AM

Jason, you obviously have no conception of David ben-Gurion's place in history. No one who is even peripherally familiar with the events of that era could draw the parallel you make. While I often disagree with you at the level of "first principles" I honestly doubt you comprehend the magnitude of the slur.

Posted by: Bucky Dent on February 5, 2003 11:56 AM

I agree with Bucky Dent. Let's hope that Jason is merely a deeply ignorant person, and not the malicious one that remark would make him seem to be.

Also, someone claimed I was relying on a Joan Peters (iirc) for a source. I've never heard of her, but clicking on the link given I see one of her critics writing:

<<----------quote-----------
Palestine was in fact sparsely populated when Jewish colonization began. Arab nationalism did not yet exist, let alone Palestinian nationalism. When the British took over they unjustly restricted Jewish immigration into Palestine while Arabs immigrated into the territory. After the Arab violence of the late 1930s, British appeasement slowed Jewish immigration to a trickle. Ultimately, Jews who sought to escape the Holocaust were turned away from the Jewish National Home, even while “emergency arrangements” were taken to bring in Arab immigrant laborers.
---------endquote---------->>

Thank you for your support.

If zizka doesn't like Mark Twain's eyewitness account, he could go to Herman Melville, or Flaubert, or hundreds of others who partook of the Holy Land Industry Tours in the 19th century. He will find the same general description of a desolate land. Thomas Cook became famous conducting tours there, but he had to bring his own tinned food, and bedding for his customers, such was the primitive state of Palestine.

The Turks allowed Jews to settle there, because they correctly thought they would develop the region. King Faisel (the Alec Guinness role in Lawrence of Arabia) thought the same way, and encouraged Chaim Weizman after 1918 in his efforts to settle Jews there. They even signed an agreement to that effect.

What the Arabs got out of the break-up of the Ottoman Empire was largely from British duplicity toward their ally, France. It was their way of dominating the Middle East without having to share influence with anyone. That's why the British army would stand aside and let the handful of Lawrence's Arabs "capture" cities from which the Brits had driven the Turks.

And the "Palestine" Arabs were another convenient way to keep the French out of Palestine.

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on February 5, 2003 01:54 PM

David Thomson never ceases to amuse, god bless him. WWI got started because a handful of European monarchs got bored. So they ordered their 20 million automated/automaton soldiers to go off to kill each other, and also somehow managed to coerce the democratically elected legislatures in their countries to fully support the war effort with the exception of a few loony fringe social democrats. Also, the size of Cleopatra's nose led to the fall of the Roman empire. Maybe that's the same story as the Bush adm. today. Laura Bush's nose perhaps? Saddam Hussein's mustache?

Russil is willing to acknowledge that all the available alternatives are terrible, which indicates he has actually done some serious thinking about this issue as opposed to some of the other blockheads I could point to in this thread. Still I am not quite convinced.

Deterrence seemed to work fine with Stalin and Mao but somehow Saddam Hussein is different. According to Russil, we must attack now because having ordered Hussein to disarm, to go back on our intent now would be to destroy our credibility and so to destroy the power of deterrence. But the simple truth is we did much more than simply order Hussein to disarm. We called his country evil and started talking about going to war some time before the new UN resolution and before the new inspections process got under way. In other words, the Bush adm. damaged its own credibility by discounting the possibility of peaceful resolution from the very beginning--not surprisingly, Saddam Hussein is trying to delay the inspectors in order to hold on to whatever WMD's he is developing. Now we are in a situation where having declared our intention to attack, not to do so would destroy our credibility, even though the consequences of attacking will be terrible, as all sensible people acknowledge. I don't buy it. If the Bush adm. really does have cojones, they would be willing to make the offer of calling off the attack in exchange for total and complete cooperation. I don't see this in the offing.

Many people who go to war, however reluctantly, do so with the argument that not to do so would destroy their credibility. To be afraid of jeopardizing your credibility in order to save lives is, I think, not a picture of resolute courage.

Posted by: andres on February 5, 2003 03:17 PM

David Thomsen always ceases to amuse me.

Bucky --was your Sen. Byrd / KKK comment related to something I said? Or anything anywhere on this thread? What was the point of the "Fisking" definition?

You're self-destructing in front of everyone. It's like the failure of a Turing expirement.

Posted by: zizka on February 5, 2003 03:35 PM

Deterrence seemed to work fine with Stalin and Mao

Stalin was very timid militarily until he either had no choice (repelling Hitler) or had the odds overwhelmingly in his favor (seizing the Baltic states and taking a chunk of Poland while allied with Hitler). China was mostly inner-directed during the Mao years.

Posted by: Bucky Dent on February 5, 2003 03:39 PM

David Thomson rhetorically inquired about the KKK.

andres asked for the origin of the verb "fisk".

Posted by: Bucky Dent on February 5, 2003 03:48 PM

Apparently my point was missed: actions, not words, are important. I don't care what rose-colored speeches Ben Gurion gave; it doesn't change the factual history of the region.

Posted by: Jason McCullough on February 5, 2003 04:42 PM

actions, not words, are important

I don't think Ben-Gurion gassed or tortured anyone. I seem to recall the UN recognizing the state of Israel as a legit sovereign entity under his rule.

If you really think Ben-Gurion's actions in any way parallel Saddam Hussein's, well, I'm not even sure therapy would be of much assistance.

I did try to cut you some slack.

Posted by: Bucky Dent on February 5, 2003 05:24 PM

Andres writes: Russil is willing to acknowledge that all the available alternatives are terrible, which indicates he has actually done some serious thinking about this issue as opposed to some of the other blockheads I could point to in this thread.

Thanks.

Still I am not quite convinced.

That's fine, I could be totally off base here. Like I said, Kennan thinks it's possible to withdraw, and he's forgotten more about international politics than I'll ever know. I'm just trying to reason it through from the point of view of an informed layman.

Deterrence seemed to work fine with Stalin and Mao but somehow Saddam Hussein is different. According to Russil, we must attack now because having ordered Hussein to disarm, to go back on our intent now would be to destroy our credibility and so to destroy the power of deterrence.

Pretty much. It's not necessary to go to war immediately, but before Iraq has nuclear weapons.

Containment and deterrence worked against the Soviet Union because the West didn't back down. I'm thinking in particular of the crises over West Berlin. At the time, a lot of people were asking why the hell the West should risk war and destruction in order to save the people living in the former capital of Nazi Germany. The answer is that if you back down, the people most exposed to the adversary will start thinking that they ought to make terms with the adversary -- resulting in erosion of containment, and another confrontation further down the road. Here's an excerpt from Louis Halle's "The Cold War as History", describing the Berlin Crisis of 1958-1959.

Frankly, if I were Saddam Hussein, and if I managed to get the US and its allies to back down at this point, I don't think I'd have too many qualms about developing nuclear weapons, halting cooperation with UNMOVIC, and either invading or finlandizing Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Sure, the US put together a huge coalition and went to war back in 1991; but a lot of things have changed since then. The worsening Israeli-Palestinian conflict, 13 years of sanctions against Iraq, and skilled Iraqi diplomacy have greatly isolated the US, not only from the Arab countries but from its closest and most traditional allies -- Britain excepted, and Blair is showing a hell of a lot of political courage right now.

Of course the unilateralism and insane militarism ("Jacksonianism", if you want a prettier word for it) of the neo-conservative hawks hasn't helped either. Latest reports: Richard Perle is saying that "France is no longer an ally." Great. Just what Powell needs, Perle driving the wedge in deeper. When is Bush going to tell Perle to STFU?

If the Bush adm. really does have cojones, they would be willing to make the offer of calling off the attack in exchange for total and complete cooperation. I don't see this in the offing.

But that's what the Security Council was offering via Resolution 1441. The White House backed down from its previous "regime change" position by saying that if Saddam Hussein disarmed, that would indicate that the "regime had changed."

Posted by: Russil Wvong on February 5, 2003 06:07 PM

"Latest reports: Richard Perle is saying that "France is no longer an ally."

Yep, that's right. France may not be an enemy, but it’s not America's friend. Furthermore, who needs France? We are currently building up a strong relationship with a number of the New European nations. It's time to tell the Old Europeans to go to hell! I thank Instapundit for the following information:

"UNILATERALISM, MY ASS!

Statement of the Vilnius Group Countries
For the record: 5 February 2003, Wednesday.

Statement by the Foreign Ministers of Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia in response to the presentation by the United States Secretary of State to the United Nations Security Council concerning Iraq:

Earlier today, the United States presented compelling evidence to the United Nations Security Council detailing Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs, its active efforts to deceive UN inspectors, and its links to international terrorism.

Our countries understand the dangers posed by tyranny and the special responsibility of democracies to defend our shared values. The trans-Atlantic community, of which we are a part, must stand together to face the threat posed by the nexus of terrorism and dictators with weapons of mass destruction.

We have actively supported the international efforts to achieve a peaceful disarmament of Iraq. However, it has now become clear that Iraq is in material breach of U.N. Security Council Resolutions, including U.N. Resolution 1441, passed unanimously on November 8, 2002. As our governments said on the occasion of the NATO Summit in Prague: "We support the goal of the international community for full disarmament of Iraq as stipulated in the UN Security Council Resolution 1441. In the event of non-compliance with the terms of this resolution, we are prepared to contribute to an international coalition to enforce its provisions and the disarmament of Iraq."

The clear and present danger posed by the Saddam Hussein's regime requires a united response from the community of democracies. We call upon the U.N. Security Council to take the necessary and appropriate action in response to Iraq's continuing threat to international peace and security.

That's in addition to the earlier letter of support from Britain, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland and Denmark. The diplomatic isolation of "Old Europe" continues."

France is very similar to Canada. It has long parasited off the United States and despises us for allowing them to get away with their nonsense. Canada will not become a real country again until it decides to spend more money on its own defense. This is a choice only the Canadian citizens can make for themselves. But they will have to do it soon.

Posted by: David Thomson on February 5, 2003 09:39 PM

This:

>> Apparently my point was missed: actions, not words, are important. I don't care what rose-colored speeches Ben Gurion gave; it doesn't change the factual history of the region.<<

was not misunderstood. I'd asked Jason if he knew what the Mufti of Jerusalem did AFTER Ben Gurion's speech (and I only quoted a small amount of its conciliation). I asked since Jason said:

>> Patrick, I'm sorry you believe that silly interpretation of the region's history.<<

Since Jason can't answer my question, I think it obvious who has the silly interpretation of Palestine's history.

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on February 6, 2003 07:18 AM

It's time to tell the Old Europeans to go to hell!

The more I see of the neo-conservatives, the more I admire the prudence, restraint, and humility of the "tragic realists" who were responsible for US foreign policy during the early Cold War.

Posted by: Russil Wvong on February 6, 2003 09:29 AM

“The more I see of the neo-conservatives, the more I admire the prudence, restraint, and humility of the "tragic realists" who were responsible for US foreign policy during the early Cold War.”

Many of the so called “tragic realists” thought that containment was the only option to pursue regarding the Communist behemoth. And thank God that Ronald Reagan didn’t listen to those pessimistic nellies. Instead, he pushed the issue leading to the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Russil Wvong needs to face facts: his lovely life in Canada is due almost solely to the might of the United States military. Mr. Wvong enjoys the benefits of Canada’s welfare system because American citizens pay for most of his own family’s defense. It’s about time Canadian citizens start to feel ashamed of themselves. We don’t expect your country to launch expensive airplanes and battleships. A population of about thirty million admittedly cannot afford it. Still, Canada can pay for more than what it currently has in its arsenal.

Posted by: David Thomson on February 6, 2003 09:59 AM

You sure know how to make friends, David, with your self-righteous denunciations of anyone and any country with a position different from yours. You're like a walking, talking ad for anti-Americanism. I've been defending US foreign policy against Chomsky fans since before September 11. And like 75% of Canadians, I think Canadian military spending should be increased. One of every ten Canadians fought in World War II. If war is necessary, Canadians will fight.

If you're not willing to recognize the importance of diplomacy, and the importance of not trash-talking your allies, you're going to have to rely on military power alone. And as Hans Morgenthau, one of the "pessimistic nellies" you scorn, wrote: "A nation that throws into the scale of international politics the maximum of material power it is capable of mustering will find itself confronted with the maximum effort of all its competitors to equal or surpass its power. It will find that it has no friends, only vassals and enemies."

Owen Harries quotes Burke: "Among precautions against ambition, it may not be amiss to take precaution against our own. I must fairly say, I dread our own power and our own ambition: I dread our being too much dreaded.... We may say that we shall not abuse this astonishing and hitherto unheard of power. But every other nation will think we shall abuse it. It is impossible but that, sooner or later, this state of things must produce a combination against us which may end in our ruin."

Posted by: Russil Wvong on February 6, 2003 12:30 PM

If you really think Ben-Gurion's actions in any way parallel Saddam Hussein's, well, I'm not even sure therapy would be of much assistance.

Perhaps I should rephrase to be clearer: actions matter, not words. No one cares what Saddam says; they look at his actions. No one cares what Clinton says; they look at his actions. No one cares what Bush says; they look at his actions.

Ditto for Ben Gurion.

Posted by: Jason McCullough on February 6, 2003 06:29 PM

"I think it obvious who has the silly interpretation of Palestine's history."

As Andrew Lazarus pointed out, you do.

Posted by: ben on February 6, 2003 07:27 PM

Russil, you seem like a reasonably intelligent fellow with a penchant for researching objectively.....

Why do you suppose it is that Saddam's neighbors have not come to the same conclusions you have?

Why do they not see Saddam as a serious threat?

Why are they not more supportive of U.S. war plans?

Surely, one element must be fear of the "Arab street", but what else? I will not accept an arguement that the Arab leaders are secretly encouraging Bush. Such an arguement is in the realm of pure speculation.

I too, see that the U.S. forced this war by first subtly (perhaps not so subtly) expressing that there would be no acceptable option other than regime change in Iraq. The enforcement of UN sanctions could almost be seen as an after thought, but Saddam was already backed against the wall.

It would seem that, at this point, Saddam either totally complies or war must be waged, if for no other reason than to save face (on our part).

Saddam, again, probably correctly believes that war is inevitible under *any* circumstances and is now stalling as long as possible to ready his ordnance and order of battle.

Posted by: E. Avedisian on February 6, 2003 08:02 PM

Russil, you seem like a reasonably intelligent fellow with a penchant for researching objectively.....

Thanks. I'm just a layman, though. If you want a professional assessment, I'd recommend Kenneth Pollack's book "The Threatening Storm."

Why do you suppose it is that Saddam's neighbors have not come to the same conclusions you have?

Why do they not see Saddam as a serious threat?

It's certainly possible that I'm totally off base. But you're right when you say that they're probably afraid of their own people. As George Kennan says: "Every government has a dual quality. It is in one sense the spokesman for the nation at large. Yet at the same time it is always the representative of a single dominant political faction, or coalition of factions, within the given body politic, and thus the protagonist of the interests of that political element over and against the interests of other competing political elements in the respective country. The aspirations and pretensions it voices on the international level therefore do not necessarily reflect only the actual desiderata of the totality of the people in question; they may also be the reflection of the internal political competition in which the respective governmental leaders are engaged. That goes for every country in the world, including our own."

I'm guessing that from the point of view of the Saudi government, the radical Islamists and domestic anger are probably much more immediate and serious threats than a potential invasion from Iraq some years from now -- an invasion that in any case they can probably count on the US to defend them against. The US hasn't made any noises about withdrawing from the region.

I too, see that the U.S. forced this war by first subtly (perhaps not so subtly) expressing that there would be no acceptable option other than regime change in Iraq. The enforcement of UN sanctions could almost be seen as an after thought, but Saddam was already backed against the wall.

Maybe I should lay off the insulting comments about neoconservatives. But frankly, I think this was a blunder on the part of the US, particularly the War Party. If the US had gone through the UN from the beginning, and stated that the objective was disarmament rather than regime change, they wouldn't have isolated themselves from international support as badly as they did.

It would seem that, at this point, Saddam either totally complies or war must be waged, if for no other reason than to save face (on our part).

Pretty much. It's a typical eyeball-to-eyeball crisis: it can only be resolved by war, or by one side backing down.

Saddam, again, probably correctly believes that war is inevitible under *any* circumstances and is now stalling as long as possible to ready his ordnance and order of battle.

To be honest, I'm not so sure! I think there's a pretty good chance that Saddam still thinks the US is bluffing! He's pretty isolated from the outside world, and he could be very well indulging in wishful thinking as we speak.

After hearing about the evidence that Powell was presenting--demonstrating clearly that Iraq had decided not to disarm--I remember thinking, Saddam still isn't taking this seriously after a unanimous Security Council resolution? What's it going to take, Kofi Annan going to Baghdad and putting a gun to Saddam's head?

Posted by: Russil Wvong on February 6, 2003 09:42 PM

For a good argument why Saddam can be contained/deterred, read:

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

Posted by: ben on February 6, 2003 10:13 PM

"What's it going to take, Kofi Annan going to Baghdad and putting a gun to Saddam's head?"

Saddam Hussein is probably at this very moment making arrangements to live in exile. He knows that the end is near. The Iraqi dictator will discretely send out feelers to Washington, DC. This butcher will try saving face by claiming a desire to prevent the deaths of his people. Should we agree to let him leave Iraq? Yes, that would be the best for everybody involved. The invasion of Iraq is at most a 50/50 possibility.

Posted by: David Thomson on February 6, 2003 10:26 PM

Yeah, I've seen the Mearsheimer/Walt article. I'm afraid I didn't find it convincing, though.

Saddam undoubtedly miscalculated when he attacked Kuwait, but the history of warfare is full of cases where leaders have misjudged the prospects for war.

Yes, and I'm afraid there's at least one likely miscalculation: if Iraq has nuclear weapons and invades Saudi Arabia, is the US really going to risk nuclear war to save Saudi Arabia?

Maybe, but I'm not sure anyone actually knows.

The other problem is that if it turns out that the US and its allies aren't willing to go to war now, before Iraq has nuclear weapons, I don't see how they can provide a credible deterrent _after_ Iraq has nuclear weapons.

I know Mearsheimer and Walt are very, very smart guys. But I'm afraid I'm not convinced.

Posted by: Russil Wvong on February 6, 2003 10:41 PM

Saddam Hussein is probably at this very moment making arrangements to live in exile. He knows that the end is near.

Hope you're right.

Posted by: Russil Wvong on February 6, 2003 10:45 PM

"Hope you're right."

Neither Saddam Hussein or his evil sons seek martyrdom. They are not the nihilistic true believers that Eric Hoffer wrote about. When push comes to shove, as long as he can somehow save face, the Iraqi dictator will agree to a deal. We will possibly even allow him to remain in the country under some form of house arrest. Will he ever face justice? Nope, that is not likely on this side of the veil of tears.

Posted by: David Thomson on February 7, 2003 04:18 AM

"Why do you suppose it is that Saddam's neighbors have not come to the same conclusions you have?

Why do they not see Saddam as a serious threat?"

Oh my God, did somebody actually say something this childishly naive? Saddam Hussein is similar to the bully in the school yard. The other kids are afraid of uttering anything that might enrage their tormentor. It's what said in private that matters, not the public statements.

This is also why I'm so fed up with the journalists who interview Iraqi citizens. Do these morons truly believe that these people are able to express themselves freely? All this does, is confuse the already intellectually challenged individuals like Sean Penn.

Posted by: David Thomson on February 7, 2003 04:30 AM

I'm so fed up with the journalists who interview Iraqi citizens.

I understand the journallists doing what they do. What puzzles me the editors running the material, or printing it "straight up" with no qualifying context.

Posted by: Bucky Dent on February 7, 2003 05:45 AM

Sigh. Russil, as you can see, many of the neocons running U.S. policy at this moment differ from Mssrs. Thomson and Dent only in that they don't actually say what they think about countries like Canada and France as well as the arab governments. They generally view arabs with disdain and their governments, as roadkill (oops. I think Condi Rice may actually have said that).

However, I think you and the others are still too optimistic. It is no part of the Bush plan to allow Saddam Hussein to go into exile, as this will deprive the Bush adm. of the chance to invade Iraq and set up their own government. U.S. diplomats are probably working behind the scenes to make sure no such offer mediated by the Arab states becomes a public proposal.

As for Powell's presentation, it convinced me of a couple of things. (1) Only nerve agents are a certainty as WMD's currently possesed by Hussein and immediately usable. Bio weapons are still a highly problematic conjecture. Saddam Hussein is definitely concealing these weapons because he believes that the U.S. will attack no matter what happens at the UN. I can't say I blame him. (2) It is one thing to say that Hussein has supported anti-Israeli terrorists like Abu Nidal, but Al Qaeda is an organization that is closer in nature to the Iranian theocracy that Hussein spent almost nine years and countless Iraqi lives to overthrow. In order to believe that he has ties to Al-Qaeda, I will actually want to hear from a cross-examined witness. The Bush adm.'s word is not enough.

It's time to understand that this is the same national security-obsessed regime that lied to the American people about their involvement in Vietnam and about the nature of U.S. intervention in Latin America and selected African places like Angola (not just the Reagan-Bush people but also the Johnson and Carter administrations--I am not a knee-jerk pro-Democrat). I do not claim that the U.S. government is the only bad regime and it's definitely not the worst, but these are not the kind of people you should entrust with a task as delicate as turning Iraq into a democracy.

Posted by: andres on February 7, 2003 08:58 AM

differ from Mssrs. Thomson and Dent only in that they don't actually say what they think about countries like Canada and France as well as the arab governments.

What did I say about Canada, France or the Arab governments?

Posted by: Bucky Dent on February 7, 2003 09:13 AM

Oops. Your're right--sorry about lumping you in with Thomson on that point.

Posted by: andres on February 7, 2003 11:01 AM
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