Disarmament vs. Liberation

|

Now that Baghdad has fallen, you have to wonder yet again why the Iraqi regime has not used chemical or biological weapons against U.S. forces. Earlier in the war, the speculation was that Saddam did not want to alienate world opinion and vindicate the Bush administration by using weapons of mass destruction he has long denied having. Instead, the theory went, he was counting on a bloody, drawn-out battle for Baghdad to compel a settlement that would allow him to remain in power. But now he (or whoever is in charge now) has nothing to lose.

Could it be that Iraq never had a siginificant WMD capability? So far the search for evidence of one has turned up nothing but false alarms. A lot of ground remains to be covered, of course, but the administration's decision to play down disarmament as the war's goal seems to anticipate the possibility that nothing much will be found.

If so, will it matter? Even before jubilant Iraqis started pouring into the streets, waving improvised flags and tearing down Saddam's statues, "Operation Iraqi Freedom" had metamorphosed from a pre-emptive act of self-defense into a humanitarian mission to rescue people from a brutal dictator. It's hard not to rejoice that Iraqis are finally free of Saddam, but it is also hard not to worry about the precedent set by their liberation. A policy of using our military to free oppressed people would lead to war with half the world.

Advertisement

NEXT: Meanwhile, in Afghanistan

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Or could it be that by the time it was apparent that there was nothing left to lose by using WMDs, there was either a) no one willing to slit their own throat by actually using them (it’s not the general who actually fires the artillery or presses the launch button, it’s some sergeant or first lieutenant, who can very easily be fighting one minute and take off his uniform and be a jubilant civilian the next; why risk a war crimes trial?), or b) no one left to give the command?

  2. “A policy of using our military to free oppressed people would lead to war with half the world.”

    And freeing those oppressed peoples in a similar manner would be bad because…?

  3. > A policy of using our military to free oppressed people
    > would lead to war with half the world.

    Standard authoritarian strawman, the rejection of which is fundamental to the libertarian world view. It’s libertarianism that says not everything that is permitted is mandatory, and it’s specifically libertarianism that says that helping others in need is a wonderful thing, but not a moral requirement.

    If we could conveniently free the whole world, maybe we would, but we’re not required to do so. Instead, we will free those whom it is in our interest to free. Liberating the victims of tyranny give us moral sanction – it gives us the *right* to overthrow those governments whom we want to overthrow, but it does not require us to do anything about those governments whom it is not in our interest to overthrow.

    A wonderful moment on West Wing was when Will stumps the President with the question `why are American lives worth more to you than Kundunese ones?’. A libertarian President, or for that matter any President not completely mired in the leftist brainwashing that makes up Martin Sheen’s universe, would answer that he was elected by the American people to protect American lives and interests, not to protect Kundunese lives, and so he has the right to risk American lives to save Kundunese lives only if he judges it to be in the interests of the USAn people, for which purpose they entrusted him with the command of their armed forces.

  4. Saddam wasn’t expecting to die just yet. For all we know, the meeting at which he was (presumably) killed was called to decide whether the time had come to use WMD, and had it not been disrupted we might now be discussing the aftermath of such use.

    Perhaps the order did go out, and nobody obeyed it.

    And perhaps the weapons were not yet ready for use, and we launched this war just in time; another six months of stalling by Jacques Iraq and Saddam’s other allies in the UN and NATO, and the war might have ended very differently. The Cold War was forced on us because Truman refused to attack the USSR when he had the chance, before they developed their own nukes – would anyone argue that that decision was the right one? IMO the reason Bush is taking a different attitude to N Korea is precisely because it’s too late to invade, and his purpose in invading Iraq was to stop it from becoming another N Korea.

  5. Zev is right: We don’t have to liberate the world, just the parts that serve our interests. But if that’s the case, why isn’t the administration being more honest? Why hasn’t anyone called this, say, “Operation Iraqi Freedom and Oil Well Confiscation”? Why haven’t they admitted that, yes, those unpatriotic liberal naysayers are basically right — this is a war partly about freedom, but mostly about oil?

  6. Zev Sero’s Cold War history begins with the premise that invading Russia is a good idea, and goes downhill from there.

  7. It isn’t at all about oil – perhaps the most certain thing about the future in Iraq is that we will *not* be confiscating the oil wells.

    The most nefarious allegation I can think of that has even the slightest edge of theoretical plausibility is that we’ve gone through this whole war so that Halliburton can get contracts for the reconstruction work. That will be hard to refute in the twisted minds of the Bush-haters, because it is true that there will be a lot of work to be done, and why shouldn’t Halliburton compete for some of it?

    But stealing the oil wells? How on earth do you see that happening?

  8. Oy. The scariest part is not a policy of starting wars of liberation, it’s starting wars based on a rotating set of flimsy pretexts designed to scare and fool the populace and then capitalize on the one that sticks.

    Iraq is clearly part of a larger strategic goal. Fine. Then #$@%ing say so, clearly, so we can decide whether it’s one worth pursuing before committing to an irreversible course of action that will determine our fate for decades to come.

    Yeah yeah yeah. That’s how it’s always been. But if we can’t have a frank discussion on the most important decision a nation makes, then what’s the $##@ing point. #$@$%!

  9. OK, make me an argument for why invading the USSR, while they were still reeling from WW2, and while we had the bomb and they didn’t, would *not* have been a good thing.

    Let’s see: Hundreds of millions of people saved from 40+ years of tyrrany; the communist takeovers of Eastern Europe, China, and SE Asia prevented, thereby saving hundreds of millions more; 40+ years of Cold War prevented, saving us from fear and a `permanent war’ economy; hot wars averted in Greece, Korea, and Vietnam; the Kampuchean massacre prevented; and that’s all just a start. What’s the down side?

    Sure, if all that bad stuff didn’t happen, different bad stuff would have – it always does. Utopia is nowhere-land. But the only way to live in this world is to prevent what bad we can, achieve what good we can, and hope that we end up ahead.

  10. This war is because September 11th. 2001. That is what the Administration says and I believe them. The message is clear: The era of State-sponsored terror is finished. Syria, Pakistan, Egypt, Saudis – take notice. North Korea & China, take notice, you will be unable to defeat the US in open war.

    Taking the oil, Cheney making millions, liberating Iraqis, Bush getting tons of support, making fools of the UN, French, Germans and Russians — all of these are also sucesses (some more noble than others), which only further illustrates the Machiavellian brilliance of War. As a libertarian I am quite happy and hopeful today. As with after the fall of the Berlin wall, we now have a safer and more free world.

  11. uh, there’s an election next year? sheesh. some people are so dense.

  12. `An irreversible course of action that will determine our fate for decades to come’? Nothing we’ve done so far is irreversible. *Not* acting, if that gave Hussein the time to perfect those weapons, would have been irreversible, just as not acting against the USSR during the short window we had was an irreversible disaster.

  13. Seems Jacob’s original list sentence still remains unaddressed: what is an oppressed people; who makes the definition? In this country, probably less than 30% of voters chose Bush – are the other 70% oppressed?

    As to liberating the oil wells, I’ll predict today that the oil will be used to pay for the reconstruction, that will be done by mostly U.S. firms. If it isn’t stealing, it sure isn’t arm’s length negotiated.

  14. “we now have a safer and more free world.”

    Quick! Someone tell Ashcroft and Hatch!

  15. As long as this administration is in power the US will be at war, coloniz… err I mean liberating the backwar.. er oppressed peoples of the world.

    Bush will be voted out of office but I wouldn’t put it past him to declare the results null and void.

  16. “In this country, probably less than 30% of voters chose Bush ? are the other 70% oppressed?”

    are you trying to show that morally the USA is the same as Iraq? clarify please

  17. “As long as this administration is in power the US will be at war, coloniz… err I mean liberating the backwar.. er oppressed peoples of the world.”

    So you are saying that we didn’t liberate Iraqis? That they were not oppressed? please clarrify

    “Bush will be voted out of office but I wouldn’t put it past him to declare the results null and void.”

    Iditotarianism at its best. when are you anti-war dolts going to get a grip on reality? did you smoke too much weed with your hippee buddies?

  18. Back onto WMD: It’s my understanding that the Iraqi government admitted to a biological and chemical weapons program after Saddam’s sons-in-law defected in 1997(?) with a ton of inside information. So we know for a fact that such weapons existed (or were in development) in the late 1990s.

    When UNSCOM was kicked out of Iraq in 1998, a large amount of the Iraqi-admitted WMD materials remained unaccounted for. In order to believe that Iraq now has no such weapons, we’re required to believe that:

    a) After years of developing these weapons under the noses of intrusive UN inspections, the Iraqi government spontaneously decided — once the inspectors had gone — not only to destroy them, but to do so without leaving any documentation or evidence that would even half-way persuade the world that it had done so.

    b) After destroying these weapons, the Iraqi government decided to stonewall, harass, and otherwise impede the UNMOVIC inspectors, even though they had nothing to gain from doing so.

    Now they may have nothing to hide, and perhaps James Bowman is right when he speculates that perhaps Saddam pretended he still had WMD in order to preserve his honour (http://www.spectator.org/article.asp?art_id=2003_4_3_23_12_45). But geez, Saddam and his cronies couldn’t have done a better impression of evil-kooks-with-something-up-their-sleeves in the run-up to this war. With an antsy US Administration eager to prevent another mass murder of civilians on their watch, this Saddamite strategy — if it can be so dignified — appears to have been a suicidally stupid one. But I’m betting we’ll find plenty of incriminating material, given time and access.

  19. “In this country, probably less than 30% of voters chose Bush ? are the other 70% oppressed?”

    That is stupid. More than 30% of this country’s “voters” chose Bush. In fact, more than 40% chose Bush. Now retract and offer an insincere apology before informing me that I missed your *important* point.

  20. Not irreversible? Dude, the deed is done. We’ve laid our cards on the table. We can’t take it back. The rest of the world will either think were heroes, or that we’re the biggest hypocritical assholes on the planet.

    I’m tickled pink that have things turned out so far, but what if they hadn’t? What if they don’t? It’s just as easy to say we will be attacked with WMD because of this war than to say we won’t. Who the hell knows?

    Regardless of how it turns out, my point is that the decision to roll the dice was masked by deceit and manipulation. There may have been a threat, but the “imminent” part was manufactured. Plus, the WMD threat was even not the core motivation for going to war.

    Yes, you can make the argument that the public will get’s it’s say at the ballot box next year. But that’s meaningless if voters still don’t know the real rationale and the real potential risks and benefits of behind Operation Attack Iraq.

  21. I humbly suggest that Jacob is wrong–we don’t need to go to war to liberate the remaining half that remains unfree. As I suggested in my article “Libertarianism in One State” (URL: https://reason.com/links/links013003.shtml)revie the Reagan Doctrine–help people liberate themselves. In the long run this would also help preserve our liberties at home from the likes of Ashcroft and company.

  22. Zev,

    You’re assuming we would have won. When was the last time somebody marched into Russia and didn’t get annihilated? Think Mao might have jumped in? Think France, Italy, Greece, Austria, and Laborite Britain would have remained western democracies after we rounded on the ally that saved them?

    We’ve gotten soft in the last 60 years. We think starting a war leads quickly and inevitably to having our enemy sprawled at our feet. Sometimes it doesn’t.

  23. Ronald,

    But how will we know that a faction that claims principles of freedom will follow up on those claims once we “help” them to power?

    And to restate the Mountain Goat’s point in hopefully less overstated terms, where exactly do we draw the line between a free and unfree state? Turkey’s democracy is imperfect, do we invade? Pakistan is undemocratic, do we invade? Saudi Arabia? Whose side should we be on in Venezuela?

    Of course, this particular argument is moot anyway, because as Zev Sero points out (though he didn’t put it this way), we’ll only choose to liberate countries when it’s to our own convenience.

  24. Joe: Good job of using the facts known at the time rather than Zev’s use of the facts known 40 years later.

    Ronald: I agree with the Reagan Doctrine, it is essentially the reason I was against this war – was there any evidence that the Iraqis were interested in liberating themselves? No doubt some were, but the US and Britain essentially fought their revolution for them. At best the cooperation of the Iraqi oppostion to Saddam is “We won’t stand in your way”. Hard to support an opposition when the opposition barely cares. Then again, maybe not giving a shit is the ultimate liberty.

  25. I believe what Iraq confessed to was a huge chemical/biological weapons program in the late 80s to early 90s. They still had stockpiles of chemical and biological material, most of which the UN inspectors destroyed. Some were still unaccounted for.

    Now IRaq could have destroyed these, but its unlikely since even a democracy surrounded by enemies such as the US in Kuwait and Iran would probably not do so. Also, chemicals might have saved Saddam’s bacon once, so he wouldhave kept some of those.

    That being said, I think the prospect of Iraq giving WMD to a terrorist group and the terrorist group using them on the US is quite far fetched. We see that even in Iraq, only a very small group of people seem to know about or have access to these weapons.

    Iraq’s imemdiate neighbors — Iran and Turkey seemed to perceive no threat from Saddam — the US aparently did half a world away !!.

  26. Last I saw, the US was cozying up with Pakistan and providing it with tons of aid. Apparently its not all terrorist supporters that the US disapproves off ..

    Not to mention that the US has supported terrorists in the past: Contras and others in Central America, Osama and co. against Russia in Afghanistan.

    Still, its pretty cool to see Iraqis celebrating the fall of Saddam. Something undertaken on the basis of a lie (that Saddam was involved with 9/11) turned out to have a positive effect after all.

  27. So, if the conclusion and mop-up of the war goes as expected, we will have done the right thing (knock down a tyrant) the absolutely wrong way — not only wrong but unconstitutional. By breaking all of the rules that made the US what it was, we kicked out a jerk that we helped put into power. Is that such a great achievement?

    I’ll be happy for the Iraqis if they don’t segue directly into another form of tyranny. I’ll be sad for us in the US if this adventure leads to another in Iran or Syria, and then another in North Korea, and then another, and another…

    The US is not and never was intended to be the world’s cop. We were never intended to export our form of government or way of life at gunpoint. Our young people were never intended to be the crusading army of global “liberty.” I salute the troops for standing up for what they were told the US is, but they were misled, and some of them paid with blood.

    Yet here we are. We’ve crossed the Rubicon. We can’t even pretend to be a friendly republic anymore. How did our nation and its government get hijacked into this duty? And where will it lead us?

    On TV, Bill O’Reilly is cackling that “the left” is now disgraced for its opposition to this “just war,” totally bereft of credibility. If so, I suppose that only leaves the libertarians and constitutionalists to remind people that, however desirable the consequences of this war, and however honorably and bravely our soldiers fought it, it was illegally prosecuted and contrary in concept to the founding ideals of this country. I suppose it now falls to the libertarians and constitutionalists to oppose the next one. But the question must be asked: why bother to oppose? Is this the US any more? If the dream is forsaken, why bother to engage or support those who repudiate the dream while flying its colors?

  28. James: We are in a safer and more libertarian world, with a War with a minimum loss of life and liberty. We have toppled and destroyed an oppressive State. What is wrong about this, from a libertarian perspecive? How does this differ from the ideals of our founders?

  29. Jacob:

    I was not aware that this report of medium-range missiles equipped with sarin and mustard gas had been shown to be a “false alarm.” Do you have a cite to back up that assertion?

    James:

    Please elaborate as to why you think the war was “unconstitutional.” Are you relying on that pseudo-constitutionalist “Congress didn’t use the magic words ‘we declare war’ when they voted to authorize this war” canard, the liberal “I don’t like it, therefore it’s unconstitutional” mentality, or something else?

  30. Zev,

    I hate to break it to you, but the Russians were not “still reeling” from WWII. Their capacity to make weapons at the end of war was about as much as the American capacity. The USSR as a military power was really at one of its peaks right after WWII, and their esprit de corps was very high as well, along with boundless national pride.

    Lazarus Long,

    You’ll have to justify how the US is in a more “libertarian” world now.

  31. Lazarus: Our founders explicitly said that we should not and that our nation was not intended to get involved with entangling alliances overseas, or with pre-emptive dragon hunts. Those ideals are the subtext for the American system that was created all those years ago, and in fact, the syustem doesn’t work well unless in support of those ideals. We keep having to contort it in order to serve other ideals, including the currently fashionable one of exporting freedom at gunpoint to the oppressed peoples of the world. Our originally-envisioned role was to make America a shining beacon that would engage in trade and cultural exchange in friendship with the peoples of all nations, inspiring THEM to adopt our ways through persuasion. Instead, we now go trolling for fights overseas. Whatever the good consequences of those adventures, there will be bad consequences too, but there would be NO consequences if we simply tried to live up to the founding vision of a nation that would perfect itself within and mind its own business in matters of politics and military intervention.

    Xrlg: The fact of the matter is that the constitution requires a declaration of war, the congress knows how to declare war, and it did not. The resolution it passed was more suitable for going after pirates, not for the full commitment that wars require. You may say this is “pseudo-constitutionalist” reasoning, a mere matter of syntax, or a canard, but it is nothing of the kind, and your glib dismissals can’t make it so. The Congress cannot cede its warmaking authority to the President. Because they tried to do it, and because the President ran with the ball they tossed him, the congress reps and senators deserve to be defeated in 2004 and any election afterward, as does the President. Indeed, he deserves impeachment. The best excuse for making war on Iraq so far, by far, was to topple the brutal dictator Saddam Hussein and liberate the Iraqi people. That is, however, insufficient as a reason for America to go to war. Had there been a real debate in Congress, centered around the proposal of passing a formal declaration of war, I believe the bankruptcy of war rationales would have been determined, and no declaration would have been made. We’ll never know now, but in fact, the requirement for a congressional declaration of war was an attempt to force a formal debate with the participation of the people, lobbying their representatives, insofar as the urgency of the situation permitted. We had plenty of time to think THIS one over. Congress and the President bungled it, and I can only hope they pay in the elections of 2004.

  32. If WMD’s were used, Hussein could no longer say he didn’t have them–so he would not want Farooq out in the field to fire one off without explicit authorization straight from the top. However, the decapitation attacks the United States engaged in at the very least disrupted the chain of command, making it impossible to send such an order out. Just MHO

  33. Xrlg says, “The Constitution states that Congress has the power to declare war. It says zero, zip, nada as to what form that declaration should take.”

    True, but I also spoke in my earlier posting about the importance of observing the traditions and proprieties of due process as established throughout the decades and centuries. The Congress has declared war before, and has an established protocol for doing that. You can see the latest manifestation of a proper declaration of war in the 1941 resolution that put us at war with Japan. There is NO QUESTION that such declarations put us at war. In contrast, where in the resolution that was passed last October is it made clear that we are now (or on some specific date in the future) will be at war? With whom? All of this must be inferred from the language, and whenever you require people to infer things, you open the door wide to improvisation, mis-interpretation, and a host of syntactic and semantic problems that cause confusion. The average guy expects that a declaration of war will, at very least, declare that we are at war with someone in particular, regardless of the details that follow. If you’re going to force people to read the document and walk away saying, “hmmm … that looks like we’ll be going to war with Iraq,” as they scratch their heads, you haven’t done your job. There should be no doubt. If you are going to say that the October resolution is a declaration of War just because members of Congress now assert it is, even though they didn’t bother to say so explicitly in the text itself, then you are leading us away from the principle of clarity and straightforwardness that was established in and by the Constitution itself. Is that what you really want to do?

    Who would disagree that a state of War is our most serious military situation, requiring a national commitment far and beyond that necessary for an operation to go after pirates or the like? Both war and piracy reprisal were authorized separately in the Constitution. Most of what we have done militarily, since WWII, has, in effect, been authorized by treaty obligations or the piracy reprisal function, and so Congress has been able to rationalize its avoidance of a real declaration of war, even when (as with Vietnam) the level of national commitment required was exactly that of a state of war. Those earlier bending (breaking?!) of the rules of warmaking were wrong, and we made a lot of noise about cleaning up our act after each one. Finally, a situation comes along that is PRECISELY what the constitution and the people who wrote it would consider a straight-up war, and we abandon previous war declaration forms, which the Congress itself had established. Since previous declarations of War were clear, and the resolution which you claim serves as as a declaration is ambiguous, bearing more relationship to recent resolutions for recent adventures that were explicitly NOT called “war,” it is reasonable to challenge the resolution’s legitimacy as a declaration of war. Why does xrlg deny the reasonableness? It’s a hell of a lot more reasonable than bombing a residential district in downtown Baghdad. And that’s the point, isn’t it? We observe the protocols and pursue the due process to avoid depriving people — our own citizens and other people — of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Clearly, when the first is lost, the other two really don’t matter.

    Xrlg says, “only Congress itself would have standing to challenge the supposed violation. This is the main reason why every attempted lawsuit on this tortured theory has been thrown out of court.”

    Yes, most of the challenges to mischevious and illegal military adventurism seem to have been rejected on the grounds that the people bringing the suit didn’t have standing — the actual facts and merits of the cases weren’t even considered. This is why the voters have a role here, needing to fire the congress reps and senators that won’t uphold constitutional due process provisions, because if the congress won’t police itself, only the voters are competent to do so, at election time. (As a side note, it is interesting how, when due process works for xrlg’s side of the argument, xrlg bring it up, but when I challenge something on due process grounds, I’m hauling out old canards and relying on “tortured theories.” I think I know the name of that tune.)

    Xrlg says, “If you are that sure that you are right and the rest of the world is crazy …”

    That’s a cheap spin in an attempt to marginalize me and my argument. Grow up. Who will deny that war, even war that is pursued with care and in service of a just cause, is full of insanity? The people who wrote our constitution knew that first-hand, and did what they could to make it DAMNABLY difficult for the US to make war EXCEPT after severe provocation, for good cause, and after due congressional deliberation involving contact with constituents. It isn’t as if I am anywhere near being alone in pointing this out, and raising objections on that basis. We hear a great many in Washington today saying that the debate concerning the war was too skewed and truncated, and that matters which could have been pursued at leisure were hastily arranged. This kind of chatter sounds uncomfortably close to an accusation — even a confession — that the clearly intended, difficult, deliberate process was subverted (and, to be fair, not for the first time, and not first with this administration). With something as serious as war — people on both sides die, remember? — there should be no doubt about the basics. Congress and the President should bend over backward to make sure of that. The fact that they did not in this case is a scandal.

    Xrlg says, “Impeachment is reserved for treason, bribery and other ‘high crimes and misdemeanors.’ Even if your pseudo-constitutional analysis were correct, all it would show is a constitutional violation, not a crime…”

    An actual violation that entails subversion of the spirit of the constitution with the result that people die and billions of dollars are spentunjustifiably sounds like a high crime to me. Let me ask you, if the President held someone incommunicado for years without trial, without warrant, without even charging them of a crime, and it was determined that this was a violation of the detainee’s constitutional rights, would not that be a “high crime” or at least a “misdemeanor” that would qualify for impeachment (at least if it came out that the President acted deliberately, with an understanding of the constitutional issues and an attitude of letting the chips fall where they may)? I certianly wouldn’t dismiss the claim out of hand. And that’s just talking about the oppression of ONE person. So how much worse is making war without proper authorization? A more important question to ask is, WHY didn’t the President and the Congress travel the well-worn path to declaring and prosecuting war, when the process was straightforward and well-understood, and when we appeared to have plenty of time to let that process work? Might it perhaps have been because they didn’t think they could pass a REAL declaration of war after the congressional debate that would have necessarily preceded such a declaration? If so, what does it say that the White House took the resolution and ran?

    The Constitution doesn’t say that the Congress or the President are empowered to keep and deploy a standing military however they please, whenever it suits them. It says that they can declare war — an historically well-understood relationship between nations — or they can go after pirates and the like. They can maintain a Navy, and can conceivably misuse it, but the obvious purpose of that service was to make war — declared war — at sea, and to intercept and engage hostiles away from our national coasts. The President and Congress are not empowered to create a global police force, to dispatch the military for humanitarian welfare missions overseas, or to arbitrarily spank nations we don’t like, or whose leaders we wish to replace. Maybe some of those kinds of things are ACCOMPLISHED by piracy reprisals or declared wars. But the primary reasons for military deployment need to be consistent with the constitution and its emphasis on the federal function of national DEFENSE, not arbitrary offense. This is the kind of issue that would be raised during the national debate over a declaration of war — a debate that some doubt ever took place, and that others are now saying was, at very least, highly truncated and one-sided.

  34. Most interesting has been the complete inability of any opposition politician in Washington to make any argument against the current administration’s policies.

    The mythology of 9-11 seems to have blocked all counter-arguments.

    The “with us or against us” call by Bush froze everything, and continues to do so.

    This is one of the curses of nationalist pride and it’s when flag-waving becomes a hysteria.

    It’s when you say that you are an american first, and a human being second.

  35. Lazarus Long,

    Actually, all you did was restate your claim in three seperate ways. It didn’t clarify anything. Also, as you haven’t sent any arguments my way, it would be hard for me to counter them. 🙂

    “A fair counter-arguemnt would be to show how toppling Saddam has either lowered or not affected the liberty of Iraqis. I challenge you to make this claim.”

    I am honest enough to admit that I am ignorant of whether that is the case or not, unlike yourself. As I have said repeatedly, it is best to wait until this shakes out. What you do is continue to violate your “Franks Rule” as it is applied to your opinions on a post-Saddam world.

    James Merrit,

    Congratulations on the “Longest Post” award.

  36. The other day, I say General Brooks reporting that the military was “building camps for people displaced by liberations.”

    What do you suppose that means?

  37. If “Declaration of War” and an “Authorization of
    the use of Force” are the same, then why
    didn’t Congress just make a “Declaration of War”
    and avoid even any hint of impropiety?

    It’s because they aren’t the same thing and the Congressmen know it.

  38. Well, James Merritt has a point. Perhaps it is much better to inspire people to free themselves, than to do it yourself. What could the US have done to inspire the Iraqis to revolt?

  39. >> Also, as you haven’t sent any arguments my way, it would be hard for me to counter then>I am honest enough to admit that I am ignorant of whether that is the case or not, unlike yourself.>What you do is continue to violate your “Franks Rule” as it is applied to your opinions on a post-Saddam world.

  40. “building camps for people displaced by liberations.”

    concentration camps. NO BLOOD FOR OIL!!!!!

  41. A minor point…

    The Iraqi people are no more free right now than they were a month ago, and may even be less free. The country is under military dictatorship, and 20 year old privates are allowed to kill people based on their suspicion that they may be hostile. Areas not under martial law are in a state of anarchy, with vigilante killings and looting. Is it too optimistic to hope that Reason readers will agree that the latter isn’t really freedom?

    Now, I don’t expect things to remain this way for long. But it’s still a little early to talk about whether this war has freed the Iraqi people.

  42. joe: I am confused on your point (other than the continued bitterness of a failed anti-war supporter). Obviously Iraq is CURRENTLY under martial law. Obviously Iraq law and order have YET to be established. But will you agree that innocent Iraqis will have less a chance of having a midnight knock on the door from secret police? Have less chance of being put into concentration camps because their ethinicty? These are the tools of tyranny. You are confusing tyranny with a mere civil disorder. Was LA under tyranny during the Rodney King riots? Or SanFran during the recent “peace” riots?

    And I dispute your claim that it is currently less free, as the military is under rules of engagement and accountable to civilian authorites and a free press. That is not the arbitrary power of an autocrat. Most importantly, average Iraqis are moving about free from FEAR. It was terror that held the Iraqi people as serfs. This at least is over.

  43. Keep it up, James, you’re digging yourself in deeper and deeper:

    “The fact of the matter is that the constitution requires a declaration of war, the congress knows how to declare war, and it did not.”

    Wrong. The Constitution states that Congress has the power to declare war. It says zero, zip, nada as to what form that declaration should take.

    “The resolution it passed was more suitable for going after pirates, not for the full commitment that wars require.”

    That is your opinion, but it has nothing to do with the Constitution. Even if it did, it would concern a power that is exclusive to Congress, so only Congress itself would have standing to challenge the supposed violation. This is the main reason why every attempted lawsuit on this tortured theory has been thrown out of court.

    “You may say this is ‘pseudo-constitutionalist’ reasoning, a mere matter of syntax, or a canard, but it is nothing of the kind, and your glib dismissals can’t make it so.”

    That is true. It is not my “glib dismissals” that makes it so; it is the fact that your pseudo-constitutionalist canards lack any foundation in the constitution or court precedent that makes it so. What matters is substance, not form, and there is no question that Congress (except maybe John Kerry) knew full well what they were voting to authorize.

    “The Congress cannot cede its warmaking authority to the President.”

    That is your opinion, though it bears noting that the Constitution is silent on that issue. It is not necessary to determine that here, however, as Congress did authorize the war months in advance.

    “Because they tried to do it, and because the President ran with the ball they tossed him, the congress reps and senators deserve to be defeated in 2004 and any election afterward, as does the President.”

    Here’s where you really start to go off the deep end. If you are that sure that you are right and the rest of the world is crazy, well…

    “Indeed, he deserves impeachment.”

    And here is where you finish the job. Impeachment is reserved for treason, bribery and other “high crimes and misdemeanors.” Even if your pseudo-constitutional analysis were correct, all it would show is a constitutional violation, not a crime, and certainly not an impeachable one. Shall we also impeach every Congressman who voted for term limits or a line-item veto, both of which were ultimately held unconstitutional?

  44. What did we do to inspire the Romanians to revolt, and ultimately kick Ciaocescu to kindom-come? (Zip, zero, nada, my friend.)

    As for Osama Bin Laden — he’s dead.
    Saddam Hussein? Dead, too.

    But the media has been instructed to report that they are “nowhere to be found.” Still “alive” somewhere.

    So why do they want to keep them alive?

    Bogeymen.

    The powerful need bogeymen. They need to be able to holler “boo!” to the uninformed and the uneducated.

    Why?

    TO MAINTAIN THEIR POWER. That’s hard to do without some bogeyman; without some “crisis” looming somewhere.

    It’s old hat. Caesar did it; Napoleon Did it; Hitler, Marx, Lenin, Stalin, Mao — they all did it.

    Yeah, I know the retort: “You equating the U.S. with those monsters?!”

    No, of course not. But it’s only a matter of degree. The nefarious schemes are still the same. THE POWERFUL, IN ORDER TO MAINTAIN THEIR POWER, MUST HOLD UP SOME BOGEYMAN BEFORE US. Search current and past history and prove me wrong. Please.

  45. Lazarus Long,

    “We are in a safer and more libertarian world, with a War with a minimum loss of life and liberty” – This is a claim, its not an argument.

    “Then you are maintaining that toppling Saddam had no viable affect on liberty. That is a pretty stupid argument, as I can see hundreds of Iraqis running free around the capital, released from prisons, dead secret police, etc.”

    Actually I am maintaing that I don’t know that if such is the case, not if it has had or has not had such. There is a difference, a very clear difference, between the two.

    “This wasn’t a rule. But it was a useful guide when talking about the operational strategy of the war, of which *neither of us had any clue about*.”

    I am simply applying your guide to a situation where we also equally have no clue. In other words, I am asking you to be consistent between the various areas where we are clueless.

    “I am pretty sure Saddam is toppled however. That doesn’t seem to be an uninformed/clueless position. That seems to be a substansive fact — which means it is completely reasonable to dicuss the conseqences.”

    I have no issue with discussing the consequences, however I reserve the right to view your certitudes with a grain of salt. The fact that Saddam is out of power doesn’t neccessarily lead to all the things that you claim it leads to. These are at best your hopes, they are not necessarily the future reality.

  46. My point, Laz, is simply that we cannot yet judge whether this war will make the Iraqi people free. We have no idea what Iraq’s future government will look like. Right now, they’re under martial law.

    The simple fact that a country is under the authority of a the United States Department of Defense does not mean it is a free country. I hate to break it to you, but not every government set up by the United States has been entirely free of midnight knocks by the secret police.

    The difference between us is that you are willing to give a conservative Republican administration the benefit of the doubt as to whether it would support genuine democracy over a cooperative tyrant. I, on the other hand, remember when the Reagan administration sold weapons to Saddam under the “enemy of my enemy” theory. BTW, there was a secret police back then, too.

  47. Lazarus Long,

    The reports out of Basra are that many people there are very fearful – of the looting and other mayhem going on. Perhaps it is a different type of fear than the fear of the knock at the door, but it is fearfulness nonetheless. Your absolutist claims are rather amusing I must add.

  48. Let’s see if Lazarus, Joe, and I can pump the number comments up to 100. 🙂

  49. P.S. And if you need proof, see the rest of the Hit & Run insights under “Disarmament vs. Liberation”.

  50. P.S. And if you need proof, see the rest of the Hit & Run insights under “Disarmament vs. Liberation”.

  51. >>Actually I am maintaing that I don’t know that if such is the case, not if it has had or has not had such. There is a difference, a very clear difference, between the two.>I am simply applying your guide to a situation where we also equally have no clue. In other words, I am asking you to be consistent between the various areas where we are clueless.>I have no issue with discussing the consequences, however I reserve the right to view your certitudes with a grain of salt.>The fact that Saddam is out of power doesn’t neccessarily lead to all the things that you claim it leads to. These are at best your hopes, they are not necessarily the future reality.

  52. >>My point, Laz, is simply that we cannot yet judge whether this war will make the Iraqi people free.>We have no idea what Iraq’s future government will look like. Right now, they’re under martial law>The simple fact that a country is under the authority of a the United States Department of Defense does not mean it is a free country.> I hate to break it to you, but not every government set up by the United States has been entirely free of midnight knocks by the secret police.>the benefit of the doubt as to whether it would support genuine democracy over a cooperative tyrant.>I, on the other hand, remember when the Reagan administration sold weapons to Saddam under the “enemy of my enemy” theory. BTW, there was a secret police back then, too.

  53. >>The reports out of Basra are that many people there are very fearful – of the looting and other mayhem going on.>Perhaps it is a different type of fear than the fear of the knock at the door, but it is fearfulness nonetheless.

  54. Lazarus, Joe, Gary, and company need a SEPARATE ROOM SOMWHERE. They’re drowning out the pithy sound bytes (data bytes?) that we only have time for.

  55. >>>>>I may consider something a moral imperative, but someone else may say “You’ve screwed up enough times already…..”

  56. James:

    If you really believe that President Bush would not have been able to obtain what you call a “real” declaration of war, then you are kidding yourself in the extreme. The only reason he didn’t ask for such a declaration is because he didn’t need one. Here’s something you can take to the bank: if President Bush had made a frantic, last-minute phone call to Congress and said “oh, crap, my time is almost up, but I’d really like to have a formal ‘declaration of war’ that conforms to James Merritt’s version of the Constitution,” he’d have gotten that declaration within the hour, and the war would have played out exactly the way it did.

    Rover:

    You’ll have to ask Congress why they worded the authorization the way it did. My guess is that one name contemplates that hostilities are certain, while the other holds out some hope that those hostilities might be averted by last-minute, high-stakes negotiations. But nothing of Constitutional signifance turns on that. Even if Congress calls a declaration of war a “Declaration Of War (TM),” it still can’t force the President to prosecute it.

    On the flip side, if an “authorization of force” were not a declaration of war, there would never be any reason for a President to request one. For Congress to get in the way of anything short of declaring vs. not declaring war would encroach on the President’s constitutional power as commander in chief.

  57. Whew! There’s no way I can respond to all of that. But here are a few more comments:

    Declarations of War: The constitution says that only Congress can declare war; it doesn’t say that the President (as CinC) may not engage in hostilities without one. What’s more, the Supreme Court has ruled that if someone attacks
    the USA, or declares war on it, the President can recognise that a state of war already exists, and can act on it, without any declaration from Congress.

    The War Powers Resolution (which is simply Congress’s view of the extent of its power – no President has ever accepted it) says the President should, if possible, consult Congress before engaging in hostilities, should in any case inform Congress within 48 hours of having done so, and should not continue hostilities past 90 days without permission from Congress, and should stop hostilities at once if Congress explicitly directs him to do so. The authorisation that Congress gave the President satisfies the War Powers Resolution – the power to declare war certainly includes the lesser power to authorise hostilities short of war.

    The most obvious reason why the President didn’t ask for a declaration of war is that until the last minute he held out the hope that Hussein would see reason and some sort of arrangement could be worked out, avoiding the need for war. A congressional declaration of war was the last thing anyone wanted; the resolution that was passed gave the President the authority he needed to threaten war, and the ability to use that threat to negotiate peace, if there was one to be had.

    Who would win US v USSR in late 1945? I can’t say for sure, but I’d bet on the USA, and I definitely think it would have been worth trying. One big point in our favour – for a few years, we had the bomb and they didn’t. We’d just shown the world that we were prepared to use it; would Stalin have bet that we wouldn’t do it again? And with Stalin gone, we wouldn’t have to get involved in saving Western Europe and Greece from Communism.

    Washington warned the USA against foreign entanglements when it was a tiny and weak country, eager to play European politics but liable to get burned. You tell a five-year-old not to play with matches, but the same doesn’t apply to an adult. Now that we can defeat tyranny, we should do so at least now and again, though we are never *obligated* to do so if it doesn’t suit us, or if the risk appears too great.

  58. >>You’ll have to justify how the US is in a more “libertarian” world now.> Our founders explicitly said that we should not and that our nation was not intended to get involved with entangling alliances overseas, or with pre-emptive dragon hunts.>But the media has been instructed to report that they are “nowhere to be found.” Still “alive” somewhere.

  59. James:
    “Our originally -enivisioned role was to make America a shining beacon … inspiring THEM to adopt our ways through persuasion.” Tell it to the Cherokee, the Sioux, the Navajo, etc. Regarding the founders ideas on entangling alliances, I remind you the reason Washington spoke of that in his Farewell Address. As a warning! The Democratic-Republicans, led by Madison and Jefferson, dearly wanted to involve the US in the affairs of Europe, in sympathy with Robespierre’s France. The founders were no more of one mind on any particular issue in the Eighteenth Century than DeLay and Daschle in the Twenty-first.

  60. Lazarus Long,

    Keep on spinning. Maybe you’ll even convince yourself some day.

    “I don’t claim to be a prophet. Those are my judgements, either ignore them or debate tham as you will.”

    You defined them as certitudes. As I take your statements at face value, I didn’t expect you to lie.

    “No doubt some of that is payback from the Shias. I am trying to make it clear that innocent, average, etc Iraqi citizens will be more free. Clearly former Party goons will have less freedom. I imagine a lot of Baathist throats will be slit tonight — which will only add to increased liberty of Iraqis.”

    So you are now backing away from your absolutist claim? Shocking to say the least.

  61. Lazarus Long,

    One less tyrant makes the world more libertarian? How so? You can spin a yarn, but you sure as hell can’t make an argument.

  62. Bush has asserted all the wrong reasons for correct action in Iraq and permanently muddied waters that should be much clearer. The most legitimate reason for our presence there is that it is our responsibility to clean up a mess we ourselves made. We supported the Ba’ath regime when it was convenient for us, even to the point of arming them in the Iran/Iraq war. Mixed political signals from the U.S. gave Saddam the mistaken impression that we and the world would wink at his invasion of Kuwait, thus the Gulf War.

    Since then, Saddam has consistantly rattled the saber we gave him and failed to take back. It is not only our right but our duty, along with the British who are the geographic authors of Iraq and most other Middle Eastern pseudo-states, to rectify historic errors that threaten long term peace and stability in the world. As we did with Manuel Noriega, the U.S. has done right in neutralizing the Frankenstein’s monster we ourselves helped create.

    Jeff Clothier
    Weblog: “A Perpendicular View”
    http://clarityiniowa.blogspot.com

  63. Gary: The same can be said to you. Are you going to now provide me your definition for “tryant” as an “argument”?

    But I made three points, you chose to focus on one. But going with the flow…one less tyrant increases liberty for the people of Iraq and decreases tyranny. Ohh wait, are you now going play the semantic shuffle and challenge me to define “liberty”? I grow weary of this game (and appologize to all other readers).

  64. Lazarus Long,

    Actually, I focused on the point which addressed my question. BTW, I am not the one making a claim here. I was asking you (in good faith) to justify your claim. You simply re-stated the claim in your response – you tend to do that a lot.

    “…one less tyrant increases liberty for the people of Iraq and decreases tyranny.”

    Well, your argument is based on the pre-supposition that Saddam’s downfall will mean more liberty for the Iraqis. So far we don’t know if that is the case. But I accept that you’ve finally attempted to justify one the myriad claims that you’ve made here.

  65. Gary: You are being unfair with your arguments — I didn’t “re-state the claim,” my post was a further clarrification for my argument. My issue with you is your decision to continue to play these games without providing anything substantial counter to my arguments.

    “So far we don’t know if that is the case” is not substantional in my opinion. A fair counter-arguemnt would be to show how toppling Saddam has either lowered or not affected the liberty of Iraqis. I challenge you to make this claim.

  66. Jeff C:

    A very valid point, one Bush and Blair have never had the nerve to state publicly. Which I take to mean that they don’t believe it.

    It may be our duty to fix our past wrongs, but that doesn’t make it our “right”. That’s the same kind of logic that says “Forget the fact that the $20 billion we spent hasn’t shown results, we need $600 billion to really do it right anyway.”

  67. >>>>> It may be our duty to fix our past wrongs, but that doesn’t make it our “right”. That’s the same kind of logic that says “Forget the fact that the $20 billion we spent hasn’t shown results, we need $600 billion to really do it right anyway.”

  68. On further reflection, Xrlg, would you stand for a “search OK” or a USA PATRIOT approved “secret” search warrant if it were YOUR house, or would you stubbornly insist on that old canard of a “constitutional” search warrant, properly served? Would you sit idly by and let congress define the legal meaning of religion to exclude yours, or would you rely on that old canard of the first amendment and its command to congress to “make no law”? If you were on trial for your life or for the right to stay in this country, would you accept conviction based on the testimony of secret witnesses, or would you challenge them to face you, in open court, according to that old canard, Amendment 6? Do you accept the idea of retroactive taxation, or do you resist based on the old canard of constitutional prohibition of bills of attainder and ex post facto laws?

    Due process, respecting and emulating traditional forms, protocols, and language, is important. Government respect for citizens under constitutional authority is important. When deliberating to end people’s lives, whether in criminal sentencing or warmaking situations, attention to all the formalities and technicalities is especially important.

    It strikes me that the kind of thought processes that dismiss a call for a formal, constitutionally required declaration of war before war is waged, are similar to the kind of thought processes that can find a way around the requirement for a search warrant, or a way to suspend habeus corpus, or a way to enact an ex post facto law, or a way to engender double jeopardy, or a way to define completely intrastate commerce as “interstate,” and on and on.

    The roadblocks and formalities are there for a reason. The person who understands the reason respects that and deals with the system as it stands, or at least works to change the system in ways and toward forms that still respect the underlying rationale. The person who doesn’t understand the reason, or who disagrees with it, sees only impediments, obstacles to be overcome by any means necessary. In sweeping away the impediment of the bathwater, they frequently dispense with the baby as well, leaving us all a little less protected than we were before. I’m tired of letting people get away with that kind of garbage. Enough!

  69. > if the sum total of the improvements in Iraq
    > amount to an upgrade from Saddam to Pinochet,
    > it would not have been worth the tens of
    > thousands of lives snuffed out to achieve it.

    Sure it would. As dictators go, Pinochet was a good guy. He was certainly a good thing for Chile, and the USA should be proud of having supported his coup, instead of being ashamed and apologising.

    Even if we ignore all other issues, and simply look at it in terms of raw numbers of lives, compare the hundreds of thousands that Hussein killed to the 3000 or so that Pinochet did (without even considering how many of those 3000 really needed killing). Adjust for the difference in population, and for Hussein being in power more than twice as long as Pinochet. Then add the total butcher’s bill for achieving the change. The Iraqis still come out way ahead, not to mention how the rest of the world fares.

    And if Iraq does end up with a Pinochet, and eventually decides it doesn’t like him, it can always upgrade to a full democracy, at the cost of, well, how many lives did it take to get rid of Pinochet, once the Chileans decided they didn’t want him any more? That’s right, none at all. They told him to go, and he went peacefully. Iraq should only be so lucky.

  70. I came back to this thread today and read from the bottom up, so if I don’t respond to a pithy comment from someone who responded to me in a message from a few days back, sorry. I’ll try to get back to the middle of the thread later.

    Gary Gunnels says: “James Merrit,
    Congratulations on the ‘Longest Post’ award.”

    I guess the real question is whether you or anyone found value in it commensurate with its length. To the extent not, I wasted my time and yours. But to the extent so, why worry about the length? On the other hand, speaking of length …

    Rover says, in a post I quote in its brief entirety: “If ‘Declaration of War’ and an ‘Authorization of the use of Force’ are the same, then why didn’t Congress just make a ‘Declaration of War’ and avoid even any hint of impropiety?

    It’s because they aren’t the same thing and the Congressmen know it.”

    My point exactly, which may have been buried in the length of my several posts. Thank you for making it so succinctly, and shining the spotlight on it as you did.

    Zev says: “the Supreme Court has ruled that if someone attacks the USA, or declares war on it, the President can recognise that a state of war already exists, and can act on it, without any declaration from Congress.” So, where and when did Iraq create this de facto state of war? The important thing is that the PRESIDENT doesn’t get to fabricate the state of war from rumour or innuendo. The enemy gets to do that by taking specific, unequivocal acts: attacking us or declaring war against us. The only other body that can create a state of war for the US is the Congress.

    Had the 9/11 attackers been representatives of a national government, we would have been at war with them from the moment the planes hit the buildings. But they were, for all intents and purposes, “air pirates” without a country, and we went into Afghanistan as a way of punishing the modern-day form of piracy. The toppling of the Taliban seemed to be an extreme stretch of the “reprisals against piracy” clause. And in that case, we had no formal declaration of war against Afghanistan, either.

    Zev also says: “The authorisation that Congress gave the President satisfies the War Powers Resolution – the power to declare war certainly includes the lesser power to authorise hostilities short of war.” I really wonder about that. The people who wrote the constitution empowered Congress to deal with specific types of military situations: war, piracy, invasion, rebellion. As a body, they were well-known to distrust the warmaking power of any government, and worked hard to make it difficult for the US government to exercise that power, except in the most dire circumstances. It was clearly not the wish of ANY of the founders, whose writings I ever read, that the US ever find it easy to use military power to get its way around the world, or do anything except defend itself. Because the constitution sets out several specific authorizations of military power, most of which are smaller in scope than war, I think it is also reasonable to interpret this as meaning that the Congress is not empowered to authorize any and all conflicts up to and including war, but rather war or no war, in which the President is charged with ending the war as quickly and efficiently as possible. That is to say, there may be big wars and there may be small wars, but they must all be wars. If a desired (or necessary) conflict doesn’t naturally fall under any of the classifications listed in the Constitution, then I don’t think you can say that the document empowers Congress to authorize it, or that the writers of the constitution ever intended Congress to have that power. I have tried to think of situations where this interpretation would turn the constitution into a “suicide pact,” tying Congress’ hands in dire circumstances when military action was indeed necessary, but I can’t. On the other hand, I can think of numerous occasions, when such a restriction would have prevented us from unfortunate overseas adventures.

    Zev further says: “A congressional declaration of war was the last thing anyone wanted; the resolution that was passed gave the President the authority he needed to threaten war, and the ability to use that threat to negotiate peace, if there was one to be had.”

    He can threaten war all he wants, but when push came to shove, he needed to seek and get an actual declaration of war between the US and Iraq. The construction of extra-constitutional “alternative military authorizations” just muddies the water and leaves the barn door open for this and future Presidents and Congresses to use the military in all kinds of stupid ways. The abuses of the military power that we have seen in the past are MISTAKES and we need to find ways to prevent future mistakes, not enable more of them based on the past precedent of mistake!

    It is interesting that Zev seems to agree that the October authorization was not a real declaration of War, claiming that the latter was “the last thing anything wanted.” So what we seem to have is an apparently extra-constitutional power to threaten and prosecute the “equivalent” of war, without ever actually having to acknowledge in plain, formal language, that a war is being discused or waged, because that is the “last thing” that anyone wants. I could understand Bush wanting to do a little Texas-style poker-table bluffing before hostilities began, perhaps to prevent a real war. But I think he needed a declaration of war to actually do what he has done, and that he and the congressmen and senators who went along with him are in material breach of the constitution and their oaths of office. The federal government made it clear in the recent Rosenthal med-mj case that it doesn’t accept someone’s claim that an inferior government can shield its functionaries from federal prosecution by giving local “permission” to commit a federal crime. The Congress and the President are inferior to the constitution. By the reasoning of the Rosenthal case, the Congress cannot absolve the President of the responsibility for acting unconstitutionally EXCEPT THROUGH ACQUITTAL IN IMPEACHMENT proceedings, a constitutional process. Whether you believe the Congress and President were in the right or wrong about this war, letting it stand as a fait accompli without an impeachment would seem to weaken our constitutional system still further. Even members of the military who are in the right must often be subject to courts martial, to set the record straight, formally clear their names, and respect the system of military justice. In a just world, we would see impeachment in this case as being as necessary as those occasional courts martial. But in the real world, if the Iraq war was not conducted according to the Constitution, then Congress’ own complicity would come out at the trial, and heaven knows we can’t have that.

    Finally, Zev says: “Now that we can defeat tyranny, we should do so at least now and again, though we are never *obligated* to do so if it doesn’t suit us, or if the risk appears too great.”

    If tyranny attacks us, or puts itself in a state of war with us, let’s kick its ass. I should think that such things will happen often enough to allow us to flex our muscles for the admiring global public. But let’s not roam around the world looking for dragons to slay, even though, as a strong, mature country, we could probably slay a few. Looking for trouble is, indeed, a sign of IMmaturity, both in nations and people. The point of the US government was never to liberate the world. It was, rather, to secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity. Zev advocates a dangerous mission creep, suggesting that Washington warned us against entangling alliances as a practical prescription for a fledgling nation, but that he would have advised a stronger country differently. I disagree. I think that Washington gave his advice out of strongly held principles. One of the most popular of his time can be paraphrased as “know your business, and mind it.” He knew that people and nations, whether weak or powerful, started down a bad road when they abandoned that wisdom.

    Xrlg says: “If you really believe that President Bush would not have been able to obtain what you call a “real” declaration of war, then you are kidding yourself in the extreme.”

    Maybe so, but when hundreds of thousands, millions of people take to the streets in protest across the country before the war starts, and when many congressmen are saying now that the case for war was NOT made, and certainly not on the floor of the House or Senate, it seems to me that the President might have had a harder time of getting a full declaration than you seem to think. In any case, given the choice of rushing into the war or prosecuting it anyway after the full and serious congressional debate that should have preceded a declaration of war vote, I would choose the latter, on the off chance that the full proceedings would have at least established the actual NECESSITY for the war, enabling many more citizens to support it with clear consciences, albeit heavy hearts, and helping to build the true, sweeping national consensus and dedication that our country has always needed to prosecute war effectively. Here is where attention paid to due process would have reaped important dividends, I expect, whether or not we went to war. By subverting the process, we may do good things, but seem more likely to do bad things (if only by establishing a less rigorous standard that others can use in the future to do bad things).

  71. “As dictators go, Pinochet was a good guy.”

    And to think, I was worried that this wouldn’t be a real liberation.

    Also, Chilean politics aren’t Iraqi politics. If Pinochet had to deal with ruling Iraq, it’s a pretty safe bet that his death toll would have been a lot higher.

  72. My point is a minimal one: when writing and thinking about Iraqi freedom, we need to use the future tense. It is something that hopefully will occur, not something that has, or that is guaranteed to occur.

    And since you brought up Pinochet: if the sum total of the improvements in Iraq amount to an upgrade from Saddam to Pinochet, it would not have been worth the tens of thousands of lives snuffed out to achieve it. That fact that people could even consider such an outcome to be a success is the reason why I’m so skeptical of declarations that Iraq has been liberated.

    This is going to be the only page in the Google archives that still gets posts.

  73. EMAIL: pamela_woodlake@yahoo.com
    IP: 62.213.67.122
    URL: http://digital-photo-restoration.online-photo-print.com
    DATE: 01/20/2004 12:26:12
    Advertising is 85% confusion and 15% commission.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.