The Humiliation Card

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Don't know what to make of these reports that the Arab world saw Saddam's arrest and post-arrest video as a grave, and intentional, humiliation for the region. Perhaps this view is widespread, but it is unclear what the U.S. could have done to avoid it. Saddam looked the way he looked and quit the way he quit.

Failure to supply a medical check-up or document every step of his handling surely would've been criticized as well. More problematic for the U.S. would seem to be the sentiment from at least some Iraqis that now that Saddam is in hand, the Americans should just go home.

There is also the suggestion that the U.S. could prove its beef was truly with Saddam by taking him with them and the leave the Iraqis to sort out the rest, which is an interesting spin on the where-to-hang Saddam debate.

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  1. From the Israeli paper;Ha’aretz:

    “Deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein could be offered a deal in which he would give his captors information on if and how he hid weapons of mass destruction and if he smuggled some of them into Syria. In exchange, he would face life imprisonment and not be executed for war crimes, senior Iraqis attending a conference here on the future of the region have hinted.”

    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=371903&contrassID=1&subContrassID=8&sbSubContrassID=0&listSrc=Y

    Raimondo says it will be a case of:

    “Implicate Syria, and we’ll spare your life. Will Saddam take the deal? The President is already proclaiming that Saddam deserves the death penalty. Throughout a good part of his career as a tin-pot despot, Saddam played cards dealt to him by the U.S. He has nothing to lose by playing one last hand.”

    http://www.antiwar.com/justin/justincol.html

  2. “Throughout a good part of his career as a tin-pot despot, Saddam played cards dealt to him by the U.S.”

    I was waiting for that. Get your “Free Saddam, it’s not his fault” signs and meet me in Cambridge for the rally.

  3. Was that a medical exam they were giving him, or were they checking for cyanide capsules in his mouth? Maybe both, who knows. Anyway, I concur with Slippery Pete — I’m tired of this crap. “Intentional humiliation” seems to be a charge only leveled at Americans, and only when critics can’t find any other dastardly deed an American committed that day. Look harder — I’m sure there’s a soldier somewhere thinking unpure imperialistic thoughts.

  4. Hey Rick – didn’t you move to Somalia a few months ago? How’s the weather?

  5. Hey Slippery Pete,
    Didn’t you have a different handle a few months ago?

  6. Yep, sure did, Rick.

    But back to Somalia – how is Libertarian Paradise treating you? Step on any landmines lately? Do they have RoadRunner down there?

  7. This braying triumphalism of the War Party would never have appeared in Reason magazine before it fell into the hands of the Postrel/Gillespie neocons. Our Christian forefathers are spinning in their graves.

  8. beanie,

    That is a rather unfair and dishonest interpretation of that statement; acknowledging that the U.S., or any other country, was willing to deal with Saddam’s regime, even in light of Saddam’s atrocities, is not a claim of excuse or justification on Saddam’s part. If anything, its an argument that the other country is an accomplice; not that Saddam didn’t have any responsibility.

  9. Slippery Pete,
    It’s no doubt a lot warmer than where I am. I can tell you never did read the article that I cited from Liberty by a Dutch guy who actually lived there.

  10. On that much, Rick, you are absolutely correct. I did not. I’m willing to take my chances.

  11. Onward, Christian soldiers….
    πŸ˜‰

  12. Admittedly you’re right Jean, but I was only commenting on the idea posited that Saddam’s cards were limited to those supplied by the US, as if there were no other options. Upon rereading, it does not in fact claim that.

  13. Gillespie a neocon?? In your dreams.
    https://www.reason.com/hod/ng121503.shtml

  14. Well..someone’s dreams…maybe.

  15. “Wow, some people will fall for anything! As if the whole thing wasn’t carefully stage-managed by the CIA. I wonder if they’ve finished the final draft of the “Osama’s Dramatic Capture” script yet?”

    I’m betting that the script is greenlighted oh..I don’t know.. sometime around next November? Just a wild guess.

  16. beanie,

    I praise your honesty and willingness to admit error! πŸ™‚

  17. Can someone please give me a relatively bias-free definition of “neo-conservative?” Thank you in advance.

  18. neo-conservative (n.) – a former liberal or leftist who is now a HORRID RIGHTWING DEATHBEAST WHO WANTS ONLY TO BATHE IN THE BLOOD OF MURDERED IRAQI INNOCENTS AND DOMINATE THE ENTIRE PLANET UNDER THE DIRECTION OF THE ELDERS OF ZION!!!

    or something like that. It has become an all-purpose lefty epithet, like fascist, that doesn’t really mean anything except that the person using it really doesn’t like you.

  19. http://www.tnr.com/doc.mhtml?i=20031201&s=ackermanfoer120103

    I think a neocon is best describes as somebody who believes that American values (liberalism, democracy, tolerance, commerce) should be exported, by force if necessary, to those parts of the world where they are suppressed. A neocon is not afraid or ashamed of American power.

    Back in the day, this kind of internationalist idealism was called liberalism or leftism, and in fact the neocon movement has its roots in the Trotskyite le3ft. Today, the left is basically isolationist and ashamed of American power.

    I believe that is an unbiased answer, although my personal bias is pro-neocon.

  20. Oh, yes. R.C. Dean raises an important point that I should have included:

    “Neocon” is frequently used sneeringly as code for “Jew”.

  21. RC asks: “I don’t know if Saddam can claim POW status. I don’t recall, but I don’t think he was in uniform, which is pretty much a prerequisite for being recognized as a soldier entitled to Geneva Convention protection.”

    The “out of uniform” rule is for soldiers on the battlefield, to discourge fighters from pretending to be civilians, being treated as such by the enemy, and then opening fire on them from the rear. A platoon sleeping in their underwear would still be POWs if they were captured.

  22. greetings,

    although i’ve not heard the “sneering” def of “neocon”, jesse walker gives a def here:

    (jessewalker.blogspot.com/2003_01_26_jessewalker_archive.html#88218031)
    cheers,
    drf (def pasted below)

    (from Jesse’s Website)
    Wednesday, January 29, 2003
    DEPT. OF NEOCON STUDIES: The other day Matt Welch was asking if anyone could explain what the hell a neoconservative is. I posted a long reply on his website, then decided that the issue was vexing enough for me to insert a cleaned-up version of my comments here. So:

    When the term first emerged in the 1970s, “the neoconservatives” referred to three overlapping groups:

    (a) Scoop Jackson Democrats, such as Jeanne Kirkpatrick, who opposed the McGovern campaign and their party’s related drift towards dovishness. Fiercely pro-Israel and pro?Cold War, they pretty much all re-registered as Republicans by the end of the ’80s.

    (b) ex-Trotskyist New York intellectuals, such as Irving Kristol, who were dismayed both at the aforementioned drift toward dovishness and at the New Left’s “barbaric” attitudes toward Israel, higher education, and the old liberal establishment.

    (c) formerly liberal academics, such as Peter Berger, whose research led them to reject the case for Great Society programs — and, in some cases, the case for even larger swabs of the welfare state.

    The third group is obviously somewhat different from the first two. It got roped in because its members were reconsidering their liberal or leftist sympathies at the same time as the others and because they often ended up publishing in the same magazines (The Public Interest, Commentary, etc.). Many of their then-controversial claims are now accepted by people who still consider themselves liberal; many of their articles are cited warmly by libertarians who otherwise profess to hate neocons.

    If the third group has grown less essential to the definition of neoconservatism, then a fourth group has picked up the slack: second-generation neocons like Bill Kristol, who aren’t “neo” in the sense of being former liberals but are “neo” in that their beliefs are in many ways distinct from those of the pre-neocon Right. Confusing matters somewhat, some libertarians and paleoconservatives have attempted to retrofit the word to describe the ex-Communists who seemed to join the Right en masse during the late ’40s and the ’50s (James Burnham, Max Eastman, etc.), helping turn its attention from limited government at home to an active foreign policy abroad.

    Israel is a central foreign-policy concern of the neocons, in many cases the central foreign-policy concern (which is why I get annoyed when critics of Israel, such as Christopher Hitchens, are shoved under the neocon label). In terms of domestic policy, I think David Frum was right to divide the neocon tribe into two groups: the “optimists,” exemplified by Jack Kemp, and the “pessimists,” exemplified by James Q. Wilson. For the details, read his book Dead Right.

    Finally: “neocon” is also an insult that some libertarians like to hurl at other libertarians. If one lib says another lib is “basically a neocon,” it’s his way of saying the other guy is too hawkish, too corporate, too gradualist, or altogether too close to the establishment.

    Everybody got that? Good; there’ll be a quiz on Friday.

  23. Jesse Walker’s definition appears to be slightly more reasonable.

    Slippery Pete,

    The American left is not ashamed of American power; they are as willing as the right to use it to support their own ideological agenda. Witness the Balkans, Haiti, etc. I suspect in fact that if the U.S. were to wage a war to “free Tibet” that the American left would volunteer in droves.

  24. Slippery Pete,

    And trying to impart “values” by force has to tended a create a whole host of monstrosities. Given your definition of the term, what it reminds me of something like de-kulakization in the Soviet Union, the “Cultural Revolution” in China, and British agrarian “reform” in India (which ended up starving to death millions of people).

  25. I’m sick of this whining by Mideast Muslims about “humiliation”. Boo-hoo. If they really are people of the Book, they should know that pride is a deadly sin and humility is a virtue.

  26. There is no definition of “neocon” because the word is an oxymoron. (insert joke here)

  27. Jean Bart –

    On your first point. I didn’t say (or at least didn’t mean to say) that the entire American left is ashamed of American power. But large portions of it are. You are also correct that, so long as American might is put to use in a way that is of no conceivable benefit to our national interests, the left supports it. Balkans, yes, because we benefit in no way. Iraq, no, because we might benefit, and that’s bad.

    Your second point is too absurd and offensive to respond to.

  28. Right Pete. We have no national interest in freedom, democracy, prosperity, peace, human rights, or the well being of our fellow man. So much for American exceptionalism – we’re just like the Roman Empire – it’s only in our national interest if it contributes to our military power or our wealth.

  29. Slippery Pete,

    The implication of your original statement is that the entire American left feels that way; don’t back away from your comments now that they have been found in error. Its unfortunate you aren’t honest like beanie.

    BTW, your statement about American “national interests” doesn’t track very well with your original claim about “spreading American values.” The fact is that these interests or notions aren’t neccessarily or required to be analagous. The US has, like almost every country, cut short its values when it was neccessary to promote a national interest.

    “Your second point is too absurd and offensive to respond to.”

    In other words you are an intellectual coward.

  30. The “out of uniform” rule is for soldiers on the battlefield, to discourge fighters from pretending to be civilians, being treated as such by the enemy, and then opening fire on them from the rear. A platoon sleeping in their underwear would still be POWs if they were captured.

    That’s not completely correct. Even under the Geneva Convention combatants not in uniform can be treated as spies, i.e. summarily executed. Soldiers not in uniform, escaping prisoners for example, still have to be able to provide insignia or some other proof of status to enjoy POW status. In your example the soldiers could produce dog tags, and their uniforms and/or various insignia would be close at hand.

  31. >Jean Bart notes: The American left is not ashamed of American power; they are as willing as the right to use it to support their own ideological agenda.

    May I point out that the American left has supported using force only in cases where American has absolutely no military interest? If there is even a whiff of motive apart from pure charity, the left is uninterested in the cause.

    In other words, the left doesn’t mind telling our soldiers to risk their lives, just as long as the U.S. gains nothing by it.

    As for yur second point, you just keep barking up that tree…

  32. American,

    Thankyou for repeating the same arguments that Slipperty Pete; see my above comments in response to his.

  33. American, the Haiti mission was precipitated by a desire to stem a huge influx of refugees washing up on Florida. My psychic powers tell me you consider stopping hundreds of desperately poor Haitians from coming-here-and-collecting-welfare to be in our national interest.

    So, no, the distinction you’re drawing does not reflect reality.

  34. joe,

    Thanks for the assist. πŸ™‚

  35. I’m curious, are we using Syrian torturers to get info out of Saddam (as I read we did for some Al Queda)? If Saddam says he shipped weapopns to Syria due to the actions of Styiran torturers, would that then be inadmissible in a mideastern despotic kangaroo court?

    What exactly are the niceties here?

  36. Jean Bart –

    I stated, “Today, the left is basically isolationist and ashamed of American power.”

    Do you see the word “basically” there? Do you know what that word means? It does not mean “entirely.” It means what it says. If you need a dictionary, buy one. Your characterization of that statement is incorrect on its face as anybody reading these messages can see. I stand by my words.

    I also stand by my second point. We are in Iraq to impart democracy where it has been prevented through the exercise of genocide, mass murder on a vast scale, and terror. Whether this war was, on balance, a good idea is a perfectly acceptible point of debate. I supported it, but reasonable and good people can disagree.

    But comparing this to infamous campaigns to PREVENT democracy by EXERCISING genocide, mass murder, and terror is morally obscene. I’ll let you figure out why. My guess is that you’re too morally retarded to do so, but unfortunately I’m not inclined to help. I choose how much energy I expend and on whom. That’s time management, not “intellectual cowardice.” Nice try.

  37. Joe –

    No, the “wave of darkies” justification for Haiti was trotted out to garner support for anti-immigration politicians of the right (xenophobic) and left (anti-cheap labor). Haiti was primarily a humanitarian exercise. As it happens, I supported it (and, as it happens, I do not consider an influx of Haitian refugees of any plausible size to be a problem). I have no problem using the military for “altruistic” missions as long as we’re reasonably assured of success and of doing more good than harm.

    I’d like to take credit for making a brilliant and original observation, but the observation that the left is deeply of the military in all but the most altruistic circumstances is an old one. Surprised you haven’t heard it before.

    If you don’t buy it, then tell me why the Balkans were a good idea and Iraq was a bad idea. You get bonus points for not using the words “Halliburton”, “oil”, or “Jews”.

  38. When we broadcast film of Saddam at the proctologist’s, let me know. (Not least so I can unplug my TV, just to be safe.) Until then, I can’t get the least worked up about the stuff we DID televise.

  39. Besides, we were just trying to help Saddam project a sharper image:

    http://www.tacitus.org/images/saddam.jpg

  40. Although I don’t share the left’s enthusiasm for humanitarian interventions, I think there’s a more benign interpretation of their motives than “they don’t want to fight any battle if the US benefits.”

    I’d bet that the average leftist (i.e. somebody who’s left of center but not out in Kucinich land or whatever) would whole-heartedly support an intervention if he concluded (however rightly or wrongly) that it made America safer. You can disagree with them over the particulars of a given mission and whether it does or does not make America safer, but if we could somehow do the Vulcan mind meld I’ll be that the average leftist (once again, I emphasize that I’m talking about your typical Democratic voter, not a Chomsky disciple) would be revealed as somebody who does care about American security. However awful war might be, if it’s necessary to protect lives (in his opinion) I’ll be that your average leftist (and I know quite a few) will support it.

    (I know, I know, many people have argued that invading Iraq will make us safer. Fine. But I didn’t hear many average leftists, i.e. normal Democratic voters as opposed to Chomskey disciples saying “We don’t care about American security.” Instead they argued, however rightly or wrongly, that they didn’t believe invading Iraq was the only available means for protecting America. One can disagree with them over whether the evidence shows the war was necessary, but I think their motives are good, with a handful of exceptions of course.)

    HOWEVER, if the leftist concludes that the primary benefit of an intervention will be to make America richer (something that is distinct from security, even if there is overlap), and that the security benefit is either minor or non-existent, he’ll be repulsed by it. And why not? People here would be repulsed by a person who uses a gun to acquire money by force, but we wouldn’t be repulsed by a person who uses a gun to drive away an attacker.

    Now, maybe you believe that the primary benefit of invading Iraq was security rather than economics (and given how much money it’s costing us that’s a plausible argument). However, if an ordinary leftist examines the evidence and concludes that the security benefit is marginal or non-existent, while the economic benefits to certain companies and individuals are substantial, it makes sense for that ordinary leftist (once again, I’m talking about ordinary Democratic voters, not Chomsky disciples) to see the invasion as using guns to get money.

    Now, what about humanitarian interventions that yield neither security nor economic benefits to the US? (assume, for the sake of argument, that such interventions do not make the US any less safe either, although that assumption is questionable in light of the concept of blowback) Well, the ordinary leftist might see it as using force to protect people from thugs and make people safer or freer. (He may be dead wrong in his assessment of the evidence, but we’re talking about motives here, not accuracy.) That is a respectable goal, even if some here might have qualms about a purely humanitarian foreign policy. (Respectable doesn’t mean one agrees, just that one thinks “Well, I disagree, but I still respect the people proposing it.”)

  41. I’m sure a great many “leftists” did not support this war because they didn’t believe it would make us safer. Again, I believe that’s a perfectly reasonable position. I disagree with it, but I respect it.

    But I posit that as soon as you move beyond center-left, you enter a bizarro world where the only threats are those posed by the United States. Saddam? No threat. Bin Laden? A mere criminal – let Interpol fix it. The Soviets? We needed to understand them more (remember how unfashionable anticommunism was and is?). A great many leftists think the whole war on terrorism itself is a bogus excuse to help Israel or Halliburton. Afghanistan was all about a Caspian Sea oil pipeline, remember?

    To me, a person (most likely a leftist) who refuses to acknowledge ANY threats ANYWHERE except in the White House, does NOT care about security. So, again, lefties are not all (or even mostly) like this, but a lot of them are.

    And a huge number of them are Deanies, from my experience.

  42. well spake, thoreau.

    just reading the first sentences revealed your “fist” on that message!! well spake, indeed! *snap snap snap*

    as for the difference between the balkans and iraq. without oil, israel, and, um, “business interests” being mentioned.

    i am the libertarian who is against non-defensive us actions (i want us troops everywhere, especially europe and japan to come home to a hero’s welcome). i was against haiti, somalia, yugoslavia, and this war. i was strongly in favor of afghanistan (and posit that OBL is the BIGGEST threat to the US that’s out there. biggest one since, sheesh, dunno. a long time).

    i am a skeptic for the war based on the arguments that the President made, but i do want us to win over there, and what would it take for me to support the war? well, i had (1) expected stockpiles of WMDs (shells, missles, 55 gallon drums, etc). And i had (naively) hoped that we would uncover exactly that to VINDICATE that action (see thread above. i am using both definitions here, wink). had that showed to be the case, i feel our actions would have been justified. “you were right, i was wrong”

    I don’t think the US could plant such evidence, so i would accept the finds as “justification”. (that argument drives me crazy!!!!!)

    2) that famous “smoking gun” article would, if verified, be good justification, too. does anybody know more about that? (telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2003/12/14/wterr14.xml&sSheet=/portal/2003/12/14/ixportaltop.html

    as of yet, that sounds too good to be true, but… (and as of now, such evidence is absent. but dammit, i want us to win this. i’m in europe a lot, etc., and i don’t want to deal with several of my collegues’ smugness… how’s that for a selfish reason for wanting success?)

    so, as someone who was skeptical of each action, i’d like to take a stab at the “why iraq and not balkans” for $200, Alex…

    1) emotional component of the argument
    that is there is a lot of emotion spent on proving what we all know. that SH is a really evil sonofabitch motherfucker who deserves to be locked in a room and molested by Barney and the Wiggles for eternity. When many Hawks are challenged to give reasons for the action, SH’s brutality is brought up. Why that was not a reason for war in 1998 or earlier is anybody’s guess, but the HUGE emotional component is not one that should be overlooked. and why not? if the al kaida or the WMD link were to be found, SH’s brutality would be a nice way to get countries to line up on one side or the other. I wonder why this wasn’t pushed as the reason to “finish the job” earlier. We all knew he was like that during the first war. why wasn’t there a steady cry to get rid of SH based on the “world will be a better place sans that brutal dictator” brought up during the 1996 commeration or during the 1998 almost-invasion-qua-blow-job-days???

    2) vested interest. we had already spanked them once a few years ago. we had no such experience in the balkans. there was less at stake in yugoslavia, which still can be argued to be a “european problem” that the EU is/was perfectly capable of solving (?). we also don’t want the caspian sea’s caviar trade to be ruined by chem or nuke fallout.

    3) regional stability. doves and hawks: go back and look at CATO.ORG’s screeds on WMDs. i know that the right-libertarians, conservatives here don’t like CATO, but (even) they acknowledge the problems of unstability in that region. how this ultimately plays into the containment/ active removal depends on your POV, but it is cited as a US reason to be in one place, not the other. maybe. the US has interests in regional stability, due to much work there over the decades. The us has no such ties to the balkans. there was a tie to western europe, but below the Weisswurst Border, nope.

    4) 9/11. In a terrifying event that we still fear and recoil from, the events of that Day changed us. The need to show strength, the “show of force” to our enemies and potential enemies was great. Several cited the perceived weakness of the US post vietnam emboldened and embiggened the Iranian Revolutionary Students to go after our embassy. We all know how that felt. One sentiment, not oft cited here, is the “hit someone, somewhere. show our strength. don’t let this go unremarked.” I do wonder how we would have handled yugoslavia post 9/11…

    5) there is NO!!!! number five

    rule six: “no poofters”.

    respectfully,
    drf

  43. Slippery Pete:
    “I think a neocon is best describes as somebody who believes that American values (liberalism, democracy, tolerance, commerce) should be exported, by force if necessary, to those parts of the world where they are suppressed. A neocon is not afraid or ashamed of American power.”

    This stands in direct contrast to the traditional conservative/libertarian view that military force should only be employed to protect American interests and that our governments meddling in other nations affairs is fraught with peril. This is an admonition going back to the founders of our republic. As for the American value of “commerce”; neo-con prescriptions for domestic policy are often anti-free enterprise, pro corporate welfare and pro bigger government ( of course projecting US military might all over the globe also necessitates bigger government.)

    Were talking government and military power here, so being ashamed is not a sufficient emotional response to the way American power is sometimes used. Being horrified is more apt.

    And, while were cataloging neo-con attributes we should also list their neo-Machiavellian embrace of the Straussian (Leo) sanction of deceiving the public, whch they certainly did a lot of in pushing for the Iraq war.

  44. I think if they really wanted to humiliate him they could have showed him wearing a leather bustier and panties while getting whipped by a Kurdish woman. Maybe just for fun she could’ve thrown him off the side of the building.

  45. Slippery Pete,

    “I also stand by my second point. We are in Iraq to impart democracy where it has been prevented through the exercise of genocide, mass murder on a vast scale, and terror. Whether this war was, on balance, a good idea is a perfectly acceptible point of debate. I supported it, but reasonable and good people can disagree.”

    That really doesn’t answer my question; avoidance strategies are so apropos for cowards. How do you reconcile your first point – the American “values” position – with your second point – the national interests position. Your answer doesn’t address that at all; in fact, you are answering an entirely different question from the one I posited it.

    “But comparing this to infamous campaigns to PREVENT democracy by EXERCISING genocide, mass murder, and terror is morally obscene. I’ll let you figure out why. My guess is that you’re too morally retarded to do so, but unfortunately I’m not inclined to help. I choose how much energy I expend and on whom. That’s time management, not ‘intellectual cowardice.'”

    In other words, you are an intellectual coward.

    You claim that forcing American “values” onto another nation is neccessary at times, and that this is the main aspect of American power (that’s arguable, but I shall concede that point for sake of argument). First, that (a) hardly sounds like the vaunted “democracy” that you speak of and (b) is an example of the road to hell being laid with good intentions.

  46. To the extent that neocons can be said to advocate any particular domestic policy, that policy would be National Greatness Conservatism. If that doesn’t sound very fiscally conservative, that’s because it’s not.

    I don’t disagree with your characterization of neoconservatism as not being very conservative, in the literal or traditional sense of the word. It’s not. Today’s left is the most conservative faction. They oppose almost everything. They are isolationist. If you listen, you’ll actually hear quite a lot of them explicitly oppose things like the invasion of Iraq in purely personal terms – It will not make ME safer. It will not make ME richer. Etc.

    Neoconservatives are the outward-looking idealists, willing to risk rocking the boat (or sinking it) in the hopes of make the world a better place. Yes, that’s not conservative in any meaningful sense of the word. But they happily acknowledge that. By contrast, you won’t hear the average Dean supporter admitting to being a reactionary isolationist. But he is.

  47. For anyone completely unsympathetic to Iraqis having some negative reactions to the capture of Hussein, check out this bloggers’ thoughts: http://healingiraq.blogspot.com/

  48. Slippery Pete:
    “Neocon” is frequently used sneeringly as code for “Jew”.”

    More like; neocons frequently make unfounded charges of anti-Semitism against their detractors because the lack real intellectual ammunition with which to defend themselves. This ploy doesn’t get much traction anymore though, as there are too many non-Jewish neos and also to many of their critics are Jewish.

  49. Jean –

    I don’t respond to schoolyard taunts, so you’re really just making an ass of yourself. There are a lot of things I don’t debate. I don’t debate religion – I think it’s a bunch of hooey, but I never debate it because (a) I’ll never convince anybody of my position who does not already believe it, and (b) I get no satisfaction from convincing somebody of the obvious. That’s why I won’t degrade myself by explaining to you the difference between eliminating tyranny and imposing it. I might as well debate whether the earth is flat. So taunt away, my friend.

    On your other point, I had thought it pretty obvious that the connection between values and interests lies in the rather self-evident fact that our values (autonomy, trade, tolerance, plurality) will enhance our security if we choose to export them, by making frustrated and jobless victims of tyranny in the Middle East happier, because they are freer and have jobs. Which word don’t you understand?

  50. It will not make ME safer. It will not make ME richer. Etc.

    The higher taxes that Dean advocates won’t make most of us richer. To the contrary, most will be much worse off.

  51. I wasn’t talking about taxes.

  52. There are some rather basic inconsistencies in Slippery Pete’s statements that cannot be easily reconciled; first he tells us American power is the promote American “values,” then he tells us it is to promote American “interests.” While the two may at times intersect, they do not appear to be the same things (even if we agree that the “values” that Pete lists are indeed what American values are); they do not appear to be analagous in other words. Slippery Pete has yet to answer how these two goals can indeed be reconciled, as well as why he seems to contradict himself to baldly. It seems that indeed Slippery Pete is not as slippery as he claims to be; but has instead backed himself into a very narrow corner.

    As to the question of promoting American “values” by force, he has yet to explain how this is not a recipe for disaster, and not analagous to all the other attempts to promote “values” by force that we’ve seen in the past two hundred years. Is it that the ends are supposedly noble? Well, given the “values” & “interests” commentary above by Slippery Pete, that by itself is hard to discern. Unless of course you think that the “interests” of America track with the best interests of whatever nation the US happens to be fucking with, to wit I would reply that you are fooling yourself, and that you are taking a rather paternalistic vision of non-Americans.

  53. Slippery Pete,

    American interests and values are not analagous; they have not been so historically certainly. Which is of course why the US could support the regime of Saddam in the 1980s. It was in America’s interest to make sure that Iraq stayed in the fight with Iran; it didn’t particularly matter to the US what Iraq did internally. In fact, the Thatcherite and Reaganite blocking of the UNSC vote concerning a condemnation of Iraq for the use of chemical weapons against Iran is a perfect example of this.

  54. Slippery Pete,

    And there are dozens of other examples of how US “values” and interests diverged in the area of foreign policy; that you attempt to make the terms analagous is a demonstration of your dishonesty.

  55. Jean –

    You’re switching around from second person to third person so much, I’m having a hell of a time telling if those questions and taunts are directed at me.

    Why don’t you explain the inconsistencies you’re fretting about? It’s your quarter. Also, it would be quite a trick for me to explain how imposing values by force “would not be a recipe for disaster.” What, am I supposed to list ALL the ways it “would not” be a recipe for disaster? Or would it perhaps be easier for YOU to explain how it WOULD be a recipe for disaster.

    Finally, you seem to have lost track of what it was we were discussing. I was explaining what neoconservativism IS. Have we now moved onto my defending it?

  56. Slippery Pete,

    And before you tell me that the U.S. has turned some sort of corner, and now is willing to view its interests as its values, tell me why the U.S. remained firmly in support of the central asian thugocracies that it got into bed with during the war in Afghanistan? Its in America’s interests to deal with these places; whether that comports with America’s “values” doesn’t matter.

  57. Jean –

    Was it ReaganITE and ThatcherITE blocking that bothers you, or was it Reagan’s and Thatcher’s blocking?

    Second, do you really imagine that my position is that American interests and values have ALWAYS perfectly meshed and that we as a country have never thought impure thoughts or committed impure deeds? Is that really, honestly what you thought I was saying, or was that instead just a little…oh, what’s the word…dishonest and intellectually cowardly? Nyah nyah nyah.

  58. Stuck in a Corner Pete,

    I actually just did.

  59. The Balkan intervention was supposedly done to prevent genocide. Preventing genocide is an All American Value. Sounds like a case of forcibly exporting AV’s to a part of the world where it was suppressed.

    Slippery Pete, Whatcha say ? And try to ignore General Clark while you frame a reply.

  60. Oh, I see. Now we see the goalposts through the fog. And they are this: Unless and until the United States is absolutely pure in thought and deed, above ever compromising short term interest for long term interests, above ever associating with or even acknowledging the existence of less than perfect examples of democratic utopia, then anything we ever say about our values, and anything we ever do to advance our interests, are lies and deceipts. Because we’re not metaphysically pristine.

    That’s a hell of a tall order there, Jean. I’d say it’ll be quite some time before we get there, don’t you? By gosh, you’ve really nailed me there. Guilty as charged.

  61. Stuck in the Corner Pete,

    Actually, its hard to tell what you mean; given your rather ambigious, and otherwise ill-thoughout out statements on these matters. But I went with the most reasonable interpretations of your statements.

    First you tell us that American power is to promote American “values” (which is a list which is hardly American in origin or exclusively American today; nor which America has abided by or otherwise promoted in a majority of circumstances); then you tell us your beef with leftists is that they don’t take American interests into consideration, implying that is the real rational for American power. Like all lazy thinkers you leave it to the reader to decide what the fuck you are on about.

    What bothers me is that they blocked the resolution.

  62. DC –

    I’ve never before seen pure sneering offered up as a question. I can’t tell if it’s rhetorical or not.

    My best guess is that your rudimentary understanding of the things we’re talking about here has led you to believe that all neocons are Republicans, and that I’m a Republican, and that no Democrats can support or be neocons, and furthermore that Clark’s role in Kosovo evinces neoconservative traits.

    Well, for starters, I’m a Democrat. Er, so, there goes one of your notions. I was actually very enthusiastic about Clark’s candidacy at first, mainly because he was such a powerful advocate for…I guess, for basic human decency…in Kosovo. Unfortunately he’s turned out to be so mealy-mouthed and erratic that I couldn’t support him.

    Try to remember that not all Republicans are neocons, not all neocons are Republicans, not all Democrats are “liberals”, not all Democrats are good, and not all Republicans are bad.

  63. “Oh, I see. Now we see the goalposts through the fog. And they are this: Unless and until the United States is absolutely pure in thought and deed, above ever compromising short term interest for long term interests, above ever associating with or even acknowledging the existence of less than perfect examples of democratic utopia, then anything we ever say about our values, and anything we ever do to advance our interests, are lies and deceipts. Because we’re not metaphysically pristine.”

    No; I never wrote or otherwise implied that. My entire argument is meant to rip out and expose the inconsistency in your argument about US foreign policy. The US as a nation is no worse nor any better than other countries, etc. historically when it comes to issues of foreign policy. Quit trying to deflect us from the argument at hand.

  64. Ok, Jean, you’re obviously at your wit’s end. Somewhere up above, I said, in so many words, that American interests (mainly security interests) are better served by acting in accordance with, and “exporting” when necessary, our values. Fifteen or twenty times. I further explained that this is the neocon position, the fundamental distinguishing characteristic of neoconservatisim. I also helpfully provided a link to a New Republic article on Dick Cheney’s neoconservative instincts and how he and his ideological cohorts have won out over the realpolitik contingent in the Bush administration.

    If you, up to this point, were incapable of grasping this, then you should seek medical help or, as you might put it, at least shut the fuck up.

  65. Slippery Pete,

    And I don’t require that the US act in a “pristine” fashion; in fact I don’t expect it. I do however take issue with people who attempt to make into some sort of “exceptional” nation as you have tried to do here; or attempt to argue that somehow American foreign policy is guided by principles that somehow the rest of the inferior world lacks.

  66. Now, Jean, come on. You’re making this too easy. You tell me where I ever stated or implied that the US has a better history with regard to acting in accordance with its values than any other country. Did I really say this, or was this just a lazy and stupid and facile assumption on your part?

    I was, as I’ve stated over and over and over and over, EXPLAINING neoconservatism. I was not defending it. I WILL defend it, but that wasn’t my point. I guess it’s my fault. By not being absolutely literal and unambiguous on that point, I’ve led you astray and caused you to make all sorts of bizarre assumptions that, in retrospect, must make you feel pretty sheepish.

    MEMO TO JEAN BART: I AM NOT EXPLAINING, NOT DEFENDING, NEOCONSERVATISM [BEGIN EXPLANATION OF NEOCONSERVATISM]

    Most neoconservatives will happily tell you that our failure to act more in accordance with our values – for example, by propping up despotic regimes SUCH AS SADDAM’S IN THE 1980S and SUCH AS SAUDI ARABIA AND EGYPT TODAY is a primary cause for our troubles today. Most neoconservatives – such as, for example, EVERY SINGLE NEOCONSERVATIVE QUOTED OR NAMED IN THE TNR ARTICLE I LINKED TO FIVE HOURS AGO – will tell you that what distinguishes them as a school of thought is their insistence that we place the support and export of democratic, liberal values on equal footing with our more traditionally defined “interests”.

    END EXPLANATION OF NEOCONSERVATIVISM. WARNING: THIS WAS NOT INTENDED AS A DEFENSE OF NEOCONSERVATISM, ALTHOUGH I AM WILLING TO DO SO IF YOU ASK NICELY

  67. Stuck in a Corner Pete,

    Here are your comments:

    “I think a neocon is best describes as somebody who believes that American values (liberalism, democracy, tolerance, commerce) should be exported, by force if necessary, to those parts of the world where they are suppressed. A neocon is not afraid or ashamed of American power.”

    “You are also correct that, so long as American might is put to use in a way that is of no conceivable benefit to our national interests, the left supports it. Balkans, yes, because we benefit in no way. Iraq, no, because we might benefit, and that’s bad.”

    You have as yet to reconcile the inconsistency in these statements; I suspect that you never will.

  68. Jean –

    So what you’re saying is that genocidal stalinism is NOT inferior to liberal democracy? Really? That’s interesting.

  69. Slippery Pete,

    You wrote –
    “You are also correct that, so long as American might is put to use in a way that is of no conceivable benefit to our national interests, the left supports it. Balkans, yes, because we benefit in no way.”

    So can you answer the original question about whether the balkan intervention was in our best interests, given that we are all 100% against genocide, without going into your party affiliations & civil rights history ?

  70. “I was, as I’ve stated over and over and over and over, EXPLAINING neoconservatism. I was not defending it. I WILL defend it, but that wasn’t my point. I guess it’s my fault. By not being absolutely literal and unambiguous on that point, I’ve led you astray and caused you to make all sorts of bizarre assumptions that, in retrospect, must make you feel pretty sheepish.”

    Your explanation was a defense; its not hard to see this via your snarky remarks.

    “MEMO TO JEAN BART: I AM NOT EXPLAINING, NOT DEFENDING, NEOCONSERVATISM [BEGIN EXPLANATION OF NEOCONSERVATISM]”

    You are defending it; and now you are lieing about said defense.

  71. Oh my goodness. Now I see what you’re so worked up over. I’ll explain it for you.

    When I said that our involvement in the Balkans was “of no benefit” to the US, I was speaking from the leftist perspective, as the leftists I was speaking of are quite clearly not neoconservatives. Get it? Perhaps you missed where I’ve explained that I support humanitarian missions and originally enthusiastically supported Clark, at first, mainly because of his work in the Balkans. (I was, of course, speaking as a neoconservative there).

    Did you miss that?

  72. Slippery Pete,

    I would argue that the neo-conservative arrogance is similar to the Stalinist arrogance; even if the ends of each group are wholly different. A better analogy, and one I provided I might, but you chose to ignore, is between the British Raj and neo-conservatives. The Raj ended up starving to death millions of Indians in the 19th century; yet they did it with the best of intentions.

  73. Well, yes, the Balkans intervention was, in my opinion, in our best interests generally speaking inasmuch as it pushed that region toward democracy and away from fascism. More importantly, it stopped a humanitarian catastrophe. These amount to the same thing, but that doesn’t mean the ARE the same think. Just ask the Kosovars.

  74. Jean –

    I totally understand your point about neoconservative arrogance and stalinist arrogance. Several times today you’ve made facile, superficial, immaterial comparisons between things that are fundamentally opposite to even the most causual and inexperienced observer. Well, gosh, yes, I suppose neoconservatives can be arrogant. And, well, sure, Stalin was a bit arrogant too. How interesting!

  75. All –

    I am done for the night. I say this because otherwise Jean Bart will taunt me with further insults to my manlihood and intellectual capacity, which I can’t take any longer. So, just to be clear, I’m going to go upstairs now and have nasty sex with my wife, who, by the way, is incredibly deliciously hot, much hotter than whatever you’re banging.

    (How’s that for juvenile taunting, Jeannie?)

    Ta ta.

  76. Slippery Pete,

    “Well, yes, the Balkans intervention was, in my opinion, in our best interests generally speaking inasmuch as it pushed that region toward democracy and away from fascism.”

    So apparently it was in America’s interest to fight there; that doesn’t track very well with your claim that American leftists only want to fight where there is no American interest.

  77. Stuck Without Sex Pete,

    “I totally understand your point about neoconservative arrogance and stalinist arrogance. Several times today you’ve made facile, superficial, immaterial comparisons between things that are fundamentally opposite to even the most causual and inexperienced observer. Well, gosh, yes, I suppose neoconservatives can be arrogant. And, well, sure, Stalin was a bit arrogant too. How interesting!”

    It is an incredibly dense and arrogant thing to think that you can re-make countries out of thin air; but this is essentially the neo-conservative mantra. European colonialism foundered on this particular bit of idiocy, and so will neo-conservativism.

  78. Slippery Pete wrote –
    “Did you miss that?”

    Yes, i did because what with all your role playing its not clear which voice you are speaking in at any point. In fact it’s still pretty foggy.
    One the one hand you seem to be saying that intervention in Iraq is justified because of our values/interests/security while seeing no point to the balkan campaign. The left could just as easily reverse this & argue that Balkan intervention enhanced values/interests/security while iraq diminishes it.

    JB –
    “The Raj ended up starving to death millions of Indians in the 19th century.”
    Off topic, but can you cite any material in defense of this ? Just asking.

  79. Slippery Pete,

    OK. Got it. Knid of.

  80. david f
    “Israel is a central foreign-policy concern of the neocons, in many cases the central foreign-policy concern.”

    Right, and it sometimes even seems to go the extent of religious zealousy. When Rihard Pearl worked for Sen. Scoop Jackson he got caught on an NSA wiretap passing classified information to the Israeli embassy.
    http://www.amconmag.com/03_24_03/cover.html

    For the neo-cons all other foreign-policy concerns seem to be judged by the how they think these concerns will affect what they think is best for Israel.

    In their book The Mossad Eisenberg, Dan and Landau make the case that the Israeli government uses persons in other governments, with a primary, clandestine, loyalty to the Israeli government. I’d like to ask them what they think about certain of the neocons.

    (which is why I get annoyed when critics of Israel, such as Christopher Hitchens, are shoved under the neocon label).

    Christopher Hitchens is a critic of the Sharon regime and the Israeli government’s inhumane, racist, murderous and thieving occupation of the Palestinian Land. He got “shoved under the neocon label” because he joined them in the chorus for the Iraq war. BTW, many citizens of Israel also oppose the shameful occupation. Tikkun magazine http://tikkun.org/ sometimes covers this front. In contrast, the neos support for the Sharon regime and the occupation exposes their lack of sincerity concerning the exportation of American values..

  81. Hi Rick,

    i was unaware of that connection between individuals we call “neoconservative” and elements in the israeli govt… wow. i suppose that reflex is no different from many of the other zealots who act in ways we can’t understand…

    and i do recommend Jesse’s blog to any and all. it’s a good read, he has some good stuff, such as the above-cited definition of a Neocon, and i highly recommend his top movie lists. (although i couldn’t get 1982 and 1992 to open)…
    (this was an unpaid endorsement)

    cheers!
    drf

  82. I think you’re right!

  83. Slippery Pete, I’m with you. Jean Bart, quit your flailing about and zip it. I’m sure you’re probably a decent bloke but on these boards you just come off like a monumental prick. I’m not sure who you are out to impress with these handbag fights but it makes for dreary reading.

  84. would taking footage not from an exam, for the express purposes of showing the world, “we got him!” be parading a prisoner?

    Are there different rules for captured soldiers (POWs) and captured leaders (assumedly criminal suspects)?

    Was it wrong for the Romanians to show Ceaucescu? Or is this different because Saddam was captured by a foriegn army rather than a local one?

    I don’t know any of these answers (or whether I spelled Ceaucesco right).

  85. Sadam may be the next Hitler, but propoganda is propoganda. In the pictures/video, he looks drugged, which would explain why he submits so freely. Of course, he could just be extremely fatigued.. but I like the first theory. I can’t believe anything associated with this is ever “innocent”. This is just one big TV show.

  86. I love how certain people are falling all over themselves to express concern for SH’s treatment. Where was Kofi when ordinary Iraqis were being denied a fair trial? Where was the IRC when ordinary Iraqis were being dumped into mass graves? What is with the veneration of heads of state, no matter how malign, that is denied ordinary individuals?
    Here’s my suggestion for what to do with the monster: After an anouncement sufficiently in advance, release him at the town square for “the people” to decide what to do with him. That’s a hell of a lot more “due process” than he ever provided anyone.

  87. And if we didn’t show him no one would have believed that we had him.

  88. Yet another example of “Some people just refuse to see the bright side of things.”

    If we left Iraq tomorrow, we’d be denounced for not finishing the job. If we stay, we’ll be denounced as “imperialists.”

    But the fact is that the Iraqis need guidance to create the free country that many of them desire. Maybe this is naive, but perhaps in the 35 years that Saddam rode shotgun over their country they don’t have the knowledge to do it themselves. And, of course, they can’t count on the one country in the region which has managed to sustain a somewhat-secular government (Turkey), because the two countries don’t get along.

    Steve

  89. I have no compassion for the man/monster. I’m just tired of all these deliberate and staged events. It’s shit-fuel for the group-think machine.

  90. Slippery Pete:
    “I wasn’t talking about taxes.”

    I know you weren’t. I was just making a point about Dean when I said:

    “The higher taxes that Dean advocates won’t make most of us richer. To the contrary, most will be much worse off.” (If he gets his way with the higher taxes)

  91. I am now officially totally fed up with the Arab Street and its peculiar hierarchy of offenses. Saddam fed opponents feet-first into plastic shredders, performed occasional prison “clean-ups” where, in one day, thousands of political prisoners were summarily executed and then trucked into mass graves, committed genocide TWICE by gassing Kurds and executing or relocating tens of thousands of Marsh Arabs, killed millions in two unnecessary wars, etc etc etc.

    And the United States eventually arrests the bastards and makes the grave mistake of CHECKING HIM FOR LICE during a MEDICAL EXAM!! The horror!!

    And so now we’ve GRAVELY OFFENDED ARABS!!! Give me a MF break.

    If I gave a rat’s ass what the Arab Street thought before, I absolutely, positively do not care ONE BIT anymore.

    Jesus. Who knew Arabs had such incredibly sensitive feelings? Who knew what a tangled web of delicate protocol we were walking into?

    They can all go fook themselves. We’re dying by the dozen over there to give them just a CHANCE to lead decent lives, and they hate us because we gave Saddam a medical exam.

    Listen, my fellow imperialists. Think what you will about this war. Most of you probably opposed it, and that’s a perfectly reasonable position. But please do NOT fall into the trap of giving a shit about picayune petty offenses like this. When we fire on demonstrators, care deeply. When we offend Arabs because we didn’t follow Lice Checking Protocol Subsection 42(n), don’t even THINK about giving a shit. How utterly absurd.

  92. Much of the Arab world seems to suffer from a pervasive inferiority complex in regards to the West. Everything bad is the fault of the Yankees.
    They’re like a giant Cleveland but with better sports teams.

  93. Hi drf,
    Yeah, The neos and the Israeli government do seem rather “connected at the hip”. Thank you for the link to Jesse’s blog.

  94. Oooooh, ouch. Damn.

  95. Although this is a unique case, the Geneva Convention prohibits filming POWs. Not sure if this technicality is waved if you snag a leader or not.

  96. I don’t know if Saddam can claim POW status. I don’t recall, but I don’t think he was in uniform, which is pretty much a prerequisite for being recognized as a soldier entitled to Geneva Convention protection.

  97. The Romans knew how to do it. You ensure that the former leader is well groomed, well fed, and dressed in his military/imperial regalia, and then you parade him around in chains for all to see. This way, no matter how small the principality you’ve captured, you make it appear as though you’ve had achieved a great victory over a military mastermind– it’s great for domestic morale. No word on how those vanquished by the Romans felt about seeing their leader like this, but I have to say that it’s hardly the point. Those who had any affection for Saddam Hussein probably deserve to feel demoralized and humiliated.

  98. Fresh from knocking one out with the wife, I return to find some country-fresh old-fashioned anti-Semitic conspiracy theories awaiting.

    As I said (and rather presciently) earlier: For some people, neocon is code for “dirty Jew.” Thanks, Rick.

    It’s interesting that Rick should wax so eloquent on the wonderous benefits of Somali warlordism, and so apoplectic on the harm caused by Jewish democrats. Weird, huh?

    Gotta watch them Jews, boys.

  99. For the record, Rick Barton linked favorably to an article that appeared in American Conservative Magazine, a magazine financed by the neo-fascist extreme right (Pat Buchanan, Pat Robertson, and most disturbingly, Jude Wanniski, the guy who continues to refer to Slobodan Milosevic as the “Abraham Lincoln of the Balkans” and who denies that Saddam gassed the Kurds or committed ANY mass murders, and who even claims that Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait was justified).

    Look at the company you’re keeping. You should be ashamed.

  100. One final comment before bed. What you’re seeing here is actual proof that what I said is true. The far left and the far right are essentially indistinguishable, but the “far left” actually includes a far greater number of people, and is in fact the primary home of fascism and racism in the United States today.

    Rick Barton is a frequent contributor to these chats. Listening to him, you’d peg him for a lefty/libertarian archetype, going on about the wonders of Somali anarchy and the hazards of imperialism. Get a few drinks into him, and pretty soon he’s talking about Jews and the Zionist Occupied Government (or ZOG, the classic boogeyman of the fascist right). I’m sure, before long, he’ll explain The Protocols of the Elders of Zion to us or start denying the holocaust.

    Rick Barton just linked to the American Conservative magazine, whose most prominent contributor is, as I explained just a minute ago, Pat Buchanan, a man too extreme and racist even for the Republican Party. And he’s recycling (or regurgitating) classic antisemitic lies about Zionist Occupied Government.

    Also, as I explained several hours ago, he’s marked neoconservatism as fundamentally Jewish and, therefore, illegitimate (due to dual loyalty, see – the classic Nazi smear).

    This is just fair warning. I am saddened and disappointed, but not a bit surprised. If you venture too far to the left OR the right, you find wingnuts like these. Exercise judgment.

  101. At the risk of putting myself in legal jeopardy (see Atrios, Drudge, et. al.), let me state for the record that all comments on this board, especially the last three, are just opinions. I do not know Rick Barton or anybody else who has posted here. I am merely making judgments and assumptions based on what I have read on reason.com under the name “Rick Barton”. I cannot guarantee that all posts under that name were in fact made by the same person, named Rick Barton or otherwise. These are assertions of opinion (STRONG opinion), but as I do not know Rick Barton and have never met him and cannot read his mind, I of course do not assert them as metaphysical fact. Praise the Lord, Amen. One can never be too careful, even with antisemites and conspiracy mongers.

  102. First you tell us that American power is to promote American “values” (which is a list which is hardly American in origin or exclusively American today . . .

    How is either of those facts even remotely relevant? The fact that our national values might coincide — indeed, probably do coincide, at least on paper — with some other nation’s values doesn’t really alter the equation. Does it?

    Actually, now that I think about it, claiming certain values as “American values” in no way implies that America either invented them or lays exclusive claim to them. Unless the listener is an idiot or is inclined to put words into speaker’s mouths so that he may take exception to them and find yet another reason to take cheap shots at Americans. You may cop to whichever of those conditions you feel is more charitable.*

    *To wit: ” . . . nor which America has abided by or otherwise promoted in a majority of circumstances”

    QED. Further, deponent sayeth not.

  103. Phil –

    Exactly. I’d argue, as a neocon, that the values are universal. That is precisely why there is value in trying to give them a chance to flourish where they are currently suppressed.

    I think this country does a good job of allowing the values of tolerance, diversity, openness, liberalism, and democracy to find free expresssion, but I would NEVER claim that they are inventions of the US, and I know of no neoconservative who would. Thank you.

  104. You go, Slippery Pete!

    The best part of this is that Saddam humiliated himself.

  105. Constantine,

    And a slave rode behind the victorious general and wispered “All glory is fleeting.”

  106. I agree with Slippery Pete on this. I was and am strongly opposed to the war, but the Saddam footage is a lot of hoopla about nothing. The U.S. displayed him on TV because it wanted to show a very suspicious and skeptical Iraqi people that they really did have him. It’s hard to imagine any occupying power not doing the same thing under the circumstances.

    More problematic for me is the question of the venue for trying Saddam. Rumsfeld has made vague promises of turning him over to some form of Iraqi tribunal, but also made hints about getting intelligence from him for a long time to come, and of the U.S. having first dibs if any Al Qaeda ties are found. It makes me suspect that some escape clause will be found either to keep him from taking the stand in a public trial altogether, or to delay it until any embarassing information he provides can’t affect Bush’s reelection chances.

  107. I saw moving pictures of Jessica Lynch’s captured comrades. It seems a double standard is being applied.

    Or maybe the whole Geneva Convention is crap. Kinder, gentler warfare? Lancelot is dead. Do whatever it takes to defeat the enemy as quickly and completely as possible. Cut off Saddam’s digits one by one on live TV, then auction them on eBay to help cover costs.

  108. Steve is right. The U.S. will be denounced no matter what we do, so we may as well do the right thing. Do our best to help the Iraqis set up a decent country, then get the hell out. In the meantime, kill as many terrorists as possible.

    Remember when we killed Saddam’s two sons, and no one believed us? So we released the footage of the bodies, and the same people had a cow about that. Same thing here. If we didn’t show Saddam alive and captured, many wouldn’t believe us.

  109. “or to delay it until any embarassing information he provides can’t affect Bush’s reelection chances.”

    Like what?

  110. The first Gulf War didn’t work.
    Sanctions against Iraq didn’t work.
    Shock and awe didn’t work.
    Saddam’s “humiliation” will not work.
    After many deaths, many billions and much destruction, the US finally got him.
    The US should take Saddam and vacate the region immediately.

    By the way, Slippery Pete, I was deeply offended by your use of the word, Jesus. Merry Christmas.

  111. As far as the Geneva Convention, the admonishment against parading prisoners only occurs straightforwardly in Additional Protocols I and II — neither of which the United States nor Iraq are a party to.

    Article 13 does have a prohibition of making POWs objects of “public curiosity” but this seems to be in the context of direct personal harassment, not simply showing photographs/video.

    The closest you get to “no parading of prisoners” Article 3 which bans “outrages on personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment.” Was it particularly degrading and humilitating to release video of doctors checking the health of Hussein (and thereby confirming that the U.S. was abiding by other parts of the Geneva Protocol?) It did not seem to be more humiliating than necessary to make that point that he was captured, safe, and being treated in accordance with international law.

    I suspect the folks at Gitmo wish they could get the same sort of treatment and respect as Saddam has apparently earned.

  112. Saddam Hussein has been given the status of a prisoner of war, confirms the US Defence Secretary. Donald Rumsfled says the former Iraqi leader’s treatment will be governed by the Geneva conventions.

    Saddam given PoW status

    I’m assuming the uniform thing was a joke, RC?

  113. “The first Gulf War didn’t work.
    Sanctions against Iraq didn’t work.
    Shock and awe didn’t work.
    Saddam’s “humiliation” will not work.
    After many deaths, many billions and much destruction, the US finally got him.
    The US should take Saddam and vacate the region immediately.”

    Actually, they’ve all worked (except for the fictional “humiliation” of Saddam, which is irrelevant). A fascist Iraq doesn’t rule the Middle East, and now that Saddam is gone Iraq has a chance to be free and who knows how many countless lives have been and will be saved. But that’s obvious. Perhaps less obvious, though it shouldn’t be, is the fact that only anti-war nutburgers suggest now is the time to cut and run.

  114. But a detaining authority in wartime has a clear obligation not to parade POWs, or allow them to be exposed to the public. Article 13 of the Third Geneva Convention (relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War) states:

    ?Prisoners of war must at all times be humanely treated. … Likewise, prisoners of war must at all times be protected, particularly against acts of violence or intimidation and against insults and public curiosity. Measures of reprisal against prisoners of war are prohibited.?

    In general, this provision requires that the authorities of the detaining power be proactive in defending the honor and moral integrity of the prisoner of war. Every POW when questioned is required only to give name, rank, serial number and date of birth.

    This provision protecting POWs from ?public curiosity? appears to have been violated by both the Iraqi and the U.S. governments. The Iraqi government has filmed American POWs and interrogated them before cameras. The U.S. government has taken insufficient measures to prevent journalists embedded with U.S. forces from filming Iraqi POWs held by the United States.

    From Human Rights news

    Interesting too that the US has already objected to Iraq showing films of the US prisoners:

    US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said that for Iraq to allow the filming of purported US prisoners of war would be a violation of the Geneva Convention.

    more here

  115. The debate here kinda reminds me that celebreties are afforded less of a right to privacy than unknowns under US law. By extension, it would only seem logical to think that a different standard should apply regarding the approprateness of showing “we got him” footage of a famous (and infamous) figure compared to the same for a common soldier. Don’t know if the Geneva convention makes any distinction, but perhaps it should.

  116. “Saddam looked the way he looked and quit the way he quit.”

    Wow, some people will fall for anything! As if the whole thing wasn’t carefully stage-managed by the CIA. I wonder if they’ve finished the final draft of the “Osama’s Dramatic Capture” script yet?

    Etc., etc.

  117. Brady –

    The Geneva Conventions state clearly that they apply only to lawful combatants. Lawful combatants, among other things, must wear uniforms. Refusal to wear a uniform amounts to using civilians as camouflage, putting them at great risk. Saddam obviously was not doing this.

    That doesn’t prevent the US from declaring that they will convey the benefits of POW status on Saddam. There are obvious advantages to our doing so – our refusal would then make an issue of our behavior rather than Saddam’s.

    So, no, we did not violate anything by merely, and very briefly, documenting the fact that we in fact had Saddam in our possession. Not even close. To suggest that a few seconds of unremarkable footage, serving merely to document our capture of Saddam, amounts to making a public curiosity of him, is absurd.

  118. “Just as every cop is a criminal
    And all the sinners saints
    As heads is tails
    Just call me lucifer
    ?cause I?m in need of some restraint…”

  119. Don’t forget: it IS our intention to humiliate them. We need to rub their noses in their own failure and impotence until they completely despair. Only when their wills are broken do people become pliable enough for us to remake in our own image. In Japan we had to nuke two cities full of civilians to get them into the right state of mind. I’m happy to see the middle-easterners humiliated by Saddam’s treatment, but I just hope they’re humiliated ENOUGH. We can and will nuke Mecca if we have to. I’d just rather not see it come to that. If the middle-easterners don’t let us do to them what we did to Japan and Germany, they’ll suffer the same fate as the Tasmanian aborigines. All those folks who piss and moan about what ghastly, genocidal monsters we Americans are don?t seem to realize the truth of their own words. It’s NOT all rhetorical, anti-American hyperbole. A lot of those horror stories are true. Remember the Cold War, when we threatened to nuke civilization out of existence rather than let the commies win? We weren’t bluffing. We’re not bluffing now. Saddam is a useful symbol of the middle-eastern alpha male. Look what we did to him. That’s about the most civilized and painless way we can dish out this lesson. The middle-easterners whose spirits are crushed by it have learnt it. Those others, whose shame still gives way to furious revenge fantasies, might ask the people of Dresden whether they’d rather learn it the hard way.

  120. McClain –

    Your indelicate language is likely to offend a lot of people, but you’re right. I’m not sure firebombing or nuking entire cities will EVER be morally acceptible again (and I’m not sure it ever was morally acceptible).

    But, Jesus (sorry Ruthless), if showing a doctor checking a genocidal dictator’s tonsils counts as a war crime, we truly have come a long way, baby.

  121. What is absurd is to ignore the fact that Rummy says the former Iraqi leader’s treatment will be governed by the Geneva conventions.

    Who cares if he was wearing a uniform or not when that fact was trumped by Rummy’s statement?

  122. Memo to Brady: THAT WAS MY POINT.

    1. We didn’t violate the Geneva Conventions because quickly documenting via video that somebody has been captured is not tantamount to subjecting him to public curiousity.

    2. Even if it were in violation of the Geneva Conventions, Saddam’s not eligible for them.

    3. Even if he’s not eligible for Geneva rights, we can still grant them if we wish. Which we did. AFTER THE VIDEO WAS RELEASED.

  123. rst,

    Israel only recived significant US support post-1968. Consequently, the only war they fought with US military aid of any consequence was the ’73 Yom Kipper War. Of course, in ’73 Iraq, Syria, and Egypt had considerable Soviet aid. In fact, at that time most Israeli tanks were British and most of their planes were French (they had some American A-4 ground attack aircraft, however). Israel continues to exist because the Arabs failed to win a series of wars in which both sides had considerable outside aid, with more material aid going to the Arabs. At this point, Israel makes its own tanks and has the ability to make excellent tactical aircraft. Basically, Israel kicks ass on the Arabs during fights, and is much more capable than the Arab world in terms of economic output. That’s why Israel continues to exist.

  124. Israel kicks ass on the Arabs during fights

    No, they kicked ass. 30 years ago. Now they bulldoze settlements, take fire from 15 year olds, and shoot silly little terrorists. How the IDF would handle itself in a fair fight, who can say.

    The best possible outcome is the complete destruction of Jerusalem. Nobody gets it.

  125. uh, rst, there are holy sites which are little more than piles of rubble. a day after raising jerusalem to the ground you’d have them dividing up pieces of brick based on their holiness and denominational bent, and then throwing less holy pieces of rubble at each other.

    ain’t gonna work.

  126. Slippery Pete:
    Sure, when you have no intellectual ammunition, just make unfounded accusations of racism. You know nothing about me. I also linked to Tikkun favorably, a Jewish magazine. They are also anti-the Sharon regime. You better toss some of your mud their way as well.

    I despise all racism. It the most primitive form of collectivism. (Thank you Ayn Rand) You pulled this BS before under a different handle. You packed so many non-truths about Pat Buchanan, Pat Robertson, Jude Wanniski into one paragraph it’s quite amazing. I’ll just deal with one because even your score card is wrong. I’m almost sure Pat Robertson is not a principle in American Conservative Magazine nor I believe, is Wanniski. The neocons would be quite unhappy to hear you bash Pat Robertson, since he is slavishly devoted to Sharon and his agenda, despite it’s racist, collectivist, components.

    Iv’e never written about “ZOG” here(as you contend) or anywhere else. But, you have no regard for the truth anyway.
    You obviously don’t know any thing about fascism and also I’m no more a “lefty” anything than I am a racist.

    Your ridiculous personal attacks detract from the discourse here.

  127. If you want to understand the possible motivation for Slippery Pete’s slimy attacks, go back in the thread and read my posts and his.

  128. Slippery Pete,
    In rereading this thread it seems you got taken apart pretty well by a number of the posters. Did it make you a little fussy tonight?

  129. Don S, I don’t think anyone is criticising Israel for repelling invasions by neighboring states. We’re criticizing them for using “self defense” as an excuse for land grabs and ethnic cleansing.

  130. Slippery Pete:
    “Neocon” is frequently used sneeringly as code for “Jew”.”

    More like; neocons frequently make unfounded charges of anti-Semitism against their detractors because they lack real intellectual ammunition with which to defend themselves. This ploy doesn’t get much traction anymore though, as there are too many non-Jewish neos and also to many of their critics are Jewish.

    Thought I’d repost this. The neos sort of gave this stuff up, but not Slippery Pete!

  131. Pete,

    “Haiti was primarily a humanitarian exercise.” Actually, it was an exercise that had both humanitarian components (helping out persecuted Haitians) and national-interest components (large scale influxes of refugees tend to have a destabilizing effect, free and democratic nations make better neighbors and trading partners). I brought it up for the purpose of countering your assertion that “so long as American might is put to use in a way that is of no conceivable benefit to our national interests, the left supports it.” It is not the presence of American interests that disqualifies leftist support; is is the absence of humanitarian goals.

    “I’d like to take credit for making a brilliant and original observation, but the observation that the left is deeply of the military in all but the most altruistic circumstances is an old one. Surprised you haven’t heard it before.” Of course I’ve heard it before. It’s been around since the 1960s. And it had a grain of truth as late as the eighties. Today, it makes about as much sense as accuing conservatives of antisemitism; you know, once upon a time, it was true.

    ‘If you don’t buy it, then tell me why the Balkans were a good idea and Iraq was a bad idea. You get bonus points for not using the words “Halliburton”, “oil”, or “Jews”.’ How about your own words? “I have no problem using the military for “altruistic” missions as long as we’re reasonably assured of success and of doing more good than harm.” Haiti, Bosnia, and Kosovo involved much easier missions. There were existing “good guys” with credibility for us to side with, instead of requiring us to install a proconsul. The implications for our military readiness and global diplomacy were much less harmful than invading Iraq without a credible opposition to take over civil affairs.

    You also made the assertion that stopping atrocities carried out in the name of Serbian nationalism had not conceivable benefit to the United States. Oh, if only I could think of an example of political strife in the Balkans leading to a military threat against the US! Can anyone please help me? Preferably, by identifying a time when Serbian nationalism set off a chain of events that destabilized Europe, threatened democratic republics, and led to the shedding of American blood.

    You have a shallow, miserly, un-enlightened view of American self interest. We’re not just another Roman Empire.

    And the Al Sharpton, racial grievance routine you pull out whenever anyone criticizes Israeli policy or points out that strong support for Likud is common among neoconservatives is getting really old.

  132. the absence of humanitarian goals.

    It is prejudiced folly to deny the humanitarian intentions behind removing Saddam Hussein. While he was in power, it was in vogue to clamor about the number of children – some horribly inflated figure like 5,000 kids under 5 per day – dying from the sanctions which Hussein persisted by not cooperating with this international “community” the left loves so much. That community whose concensus to avoid war would have happily kept Iraqis starving while France and Russia raked in oil for food money hand over fist.

    It was not an altruistic operation and let’s leave such expectations for naieve schoolchildren shall we? We also have interests as a state that we need to protect, interests that go back before the dawn of time that 9/11/2001 has apparently come to represent for some people. Interests that include the proper reciprocity never doled out after Gulf War I. That the U.N. had a flaccid mandate in the first place is why we are here now. Had the U.N. stepped up and did what it was supposed to do in ’91, given the history of Hussein to that point, the world would not have been in this position.

  133. is it possible to think israel has a right to exist without thinking that u.s. taxpayers should have to foot the bill?

    or is that creeping anti-semitism?

  134. True, true, true. I should have said “the absence of humanitarian goals is one reason…” Others being, a lack of confidence in the success of the mission, a cost/benefit analysis of status quo vs. the horrors of war (to those being bombed, but also to those of us now living in a militariezed culture), and a lack of faith that the post-war situation will actually be sufficiently improved to justify those horrors.

    It is interesting that those people who used to define their philosophy of military intervention in opposition to that of Bill Clinton and the left in general are now reduced to demonstrating their similarity. I don’t recall these similarities being played up in the runup to the Iraq invasion.

  135. Screw Israel. They’re as much of a pain in the ass as the Palestinians. Allies my ass…what exactly do they do for us again? Israel still exists because the Arabs are afraid of us. One day those thankless fucks will quit their inane “manifest destiny” drive towards the Jordan. Then we’ll actually start to move towards some semblance of peace in that cesspool.

  136. Amen. He who pays the piper calls the tune. They’re making us look bad.

    If a Palestinian state emerges, and refuses to live peacefully with a peaceful, law abiding Israel, than I’ll bring the beer to the weekly meetings of the “Bomb the Living Shit Out of Palestine Committee”.

  137. “No, they kicked ass. 30 years ago. Now they bulldoze settlements, take fire from 15 year olds, and shoot silly little terrorists. How the IDF would handle itself in a fair fight, who can say.”

    The Arabs haven’t entered into anything like a “fair fight” with Israel in 30 years. Now, they send in their women to blow themselves up among Israeli civilians.

  138. Joe,

    I was pointing out the fact that Israel was capable of kicking ass w/o US help.

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    DATE: 01/25/2004 06:16:27
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