Words to Disarm By

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Did nearly two decades of sanctions and isolation finally force Moammar Gaddafi to submit to WMD inspections? Doubtless they did. Yet even this analysis from The Washington Post, written to celebrate the fruits of multilateralism, cites officials to observe that, "Whether by coincidence or fear that Libya might be targeted, Gaddafi's envoys approached Britain on the eve of the Iraq war to discuss a deal."

In that context, it may be worth recalling this story from earlier this year. It appeared in Britain's Telegraph on April 9 (which, according to the reported timeline, is shortly after Gaddafi approached Britain) and quotes an Italian official on the Libyan leader's response to the Iraq war.

"A spokesman for Mr Berlusconi said the prime minister had been telephoned recently by Col Gaddafi of Libya, who said: 'I will do whatever the Americans want, because I saw what happened in Iraq, and I was afraid.'"

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  1. Good. Another domino falls…and more will.

  2. So Freund joins forces with the Gillespie/Postrel neocon axis.

  3. Well? Where are the libertarian isolationists that usually populate this space? Where are your snarky comments about the neoconservative fantasy?
    Is there any doubt now that the battle in Iraq was an integral part of the War on terror? Forget about installing democracy (a long term benefit, if realized), the short term benefit of pressuring regimes to give up WMD’s is more than worth it (God bless the soldier’s souls).
    One administration official was quoted as saying, “Next is Syria.” Yeah, no kidding. The top of the list now reads: North Korea, Syria, Iran. But Iraq and Libya have now been removed from that list. This is the culmination of a decade and a half of emerging foreign policy (yes, Clinton’s too). And now finally, this policy has teeth.

  4. Oh there they are. Everybody loves Raimondo beat me to the punch. heh.

  5. s’wonderful-

    Why would anybody be upset to learn that Libya is forfeiting its WMD? As a libertarian I’m always happy to learn when another government divests itself of the power to kill millions of innocent people innocently. I hope to see more governments stripped of their ability to kill millions of innocent people instantly.

  6. correction:

    power to kill millions of innocent people innocently

    should have read

    power to kill millions of innocent people instantly

  7. 2 Quibbles:

    The “war on terror” is different from the “war on rogue states with (potential) WMDs”. Iraq and Lybia are victories in the latter (whether pyrrhic or worth the effort aside, they are victories) but do nothing, really, except very marginal effects (Iraq’s subsidies of Palestinian terror groups) on the “war on terror.” Additionally, the war in Iraq seems to be creating new opportunities for terror.

    Unfortunately, too much of the analysis, both pro and con, fails to make this distinction. Some has implicitly, particularly the antiwar crowd, but few have done it explicitly. I think it’s a more honest debate if we separate the two and talk about their interrelationships than if we conflate the two. Rogue states with WMDs may give them to terrorists, but there is no record of them having done so. There is a record of them using it on their own populations (Iraq) or as negotiating tactics with surrounding powers (North Korea).

  8. It must be hard for the anti-war crowd to speak to this. It is about as straight-forward a vindication of the New Assertivness in US foreign policy as real life could possibly supply.
    Libertarians (rightly) apply rational-actor models to the behavior of players in economic decision-making, but when it comes to the behavior of nations they fall back on the vapid “analysis” of the New York Times et al. about World Opinion, the Arab Street, our “allies”, “one billion Chinese can’t be wrong”, “the people united and never be defeated” et cetera.
    According to some experts the military might of the US exceeds that of the rest of the world combined, but isolationists contend that our useful foreign policy options are still limited to a Jeffersonian passivity…because that is always true. This isn’t analysis, it’s attitude.

  9. Gaddafi has been trying to improve relations with the west for several years, which is why he took responsibility for Lockerbie.

    Bush’s hypocrisy in praising Gaddafi is stunning, even by Bushian standards. Gaddafi has used chemical weapons, like Saddam Hussein, but unlike Saddam Hussein he has also been extensively involved in international terrorism.

    And in case anyone forgot, Hussein also let inspectors in, and dismantled his WMD programs.

    Also, if the war supportes want credit for Libya’s giving up WMD, they should also take credit for North Korea’s escalating its nuclear program.

    What was it George “Moral Clarity” Bush said a couple of weeks ago? “stability cannot be purchased at the expense of liberty”? Why doesn’t he explain that to his new best friend “Colonel Gaddafi”.

  10. “What was it George “Moral Clarity” Bush said a couple of weeks ago? “stability cannot be purchased at the expense of liberty”? Why doesn’t he explain that to his new best friend “Colonel Gaddafi”. ”

    It appears that stability can be increased with the cost of some liberty. Gaddaffi increased his international stability quite a bit only by giving up the means to kill others in wholesale lots. He is still free to kill folks in a more piecemeal fashion as much as he likes back home. I’d say he got a pretty good deal for himself.

  11. It is Not hypocritical for Bush to praise Libya for doing what we wanted (what sane men wanted),

    Early in this year NK was bellicose about WMD– late in the year they are scheduled for multi-party talks.

    Early in this year Iran was boasting of its Islamic Bomb– late in the year they have concede international inspections.

    Early in the year suicide-bombings were almost daily in Israel– late in the year they have dropped to zero.

    Early in the year China was belligerant about Taiwan– late in the year they have let a breath-taking provocation (essentially) pass in silence.

    Early in this year Pakistan and India were poised for war– late in the year Pakistan has made critical concessions.

    The example of Libya speaks for itself.

    Add to that, Saddam is no longer a problem and 25 million people have been delivered from an inhuman tyranny.

    For 80 billion $…if that is what it costs. Who could seriously believe Democrats could have delivered that much value for less? The only thing you could possibly contend is that Dems wouldn’t have done it at all– and that much is likely true.

  12. I have trouble believing that none of the things you mention would have happened without the $80+ billion invasion of Iraq. Besides being a post hoc, ergo propter hoc fallacy, do you really mean to say that China saw Iraq and seriously thinks we’re going to “liberate” the Chinese people unless they behave?

    Or could it be that they berate Taiwan perenially, and then calm down to keep foreign business interests from getting concerned and pulling out?

    As someone else pointed out, Libya has been seeking better ties for some time, Iran had been moderating before the run-up to Iraq, and earlier this year NK also had multi-lateral talks but didn’t get much out of them, hence the bellicosity.

    It may be that Iraq has altered the thinking of some people (the Economist ran a piece suggesting that various African states were weirdly convinced they were next if they didn’t play ball), but I realy don’t see support for it as a unicausal explanation.

  13. I’m not George Bush’s biggest fan by any stretch. In fact, in many ways my dislike for him is intense.

    Sandy, the truth is nobody knows exactly what factors were involved in MQ’s decision, but we have pretty strong evidence the war against Iraq was a big part of it. To pretend otherwise is just silly – just look at the timing. Look at the contemporaneous Burlesconi quote. This isn’t China giving the vote to its citizens, it’s a Muslim dictatorship with a history of terrorism and WMD development pledging to cut it out. That is PRECISELY what the intended effect was, and it took place PRECISELY when the Iraq war started, and concluded within a WEEK of the capture of Saddam. You’d really have to just bury your head in the sand to deny Bush credit for this. He deserves it. I wish to God Lieberman or even Kerry would win next year, but credit where credit is due. We are safer now because of this. I, for one, will sleep better.

  14. When Saddam Hussein let in inspectors to verify that he had no WMD’s, which was allegedly what we wanted, Bush decided to invade anyway.

    (I call your attention to this statement by Bush last November:

    “Well, my expectation is, is that we can do this peacefully, if Saddam Hussein disarms. That’s my expectation. This is — Saddam Hussein has got a decision to make: Will he uphold the agreement that he has made. And if he chooses to do so by disarming peacefully, THE WORLD WILL BE BETTER OFF FOR IT.”

    Saddam Hussein had no arms of the sort Bush was talking about, so was he just lying, or was he not yet aware of the plight of the long-suffering Iraqi people?)

    Compare the way Bush treated Iraq to the way he is treating the terrorist state of Libya which admitted responsibility for blowing an American jetliner out of the sky and has also used chemical weapons.

    The utilitarian arguments for how the Iraw war made the world better may or may not be correct, but his sudden embrace of the “leader of Libya” belies Bush’s posturing as a moral crusader out to rid the world of evil dictators.

  15. Alma –

    You keep on setting up the same preposterous straw man. You tell me when and where anybody in our government “embraced” MQ. You tell me what evidence or basis there is for snidely referring to MQ as Bush’s “new best friend.” Those are absurdities. We simply praised MQ for pledging, after months of negotiations, to let the UN and the international community observe and verify his WMD and missile disarmament.

    It absolutely baffles me how you rabid Bush-haters manage to turn even the most obvious good news into a way to slam the guy. Look, there are LOTS of reasons to dislike George Bush. GETTING TERRORIST STATES TO GIVE UP THERE WMD IS NOT ONE OF THEM. Period. Christ.

  16. Alma –

    You keep on setting up the same preposterous straw man. You tell me when and where anybody in our government “embraced” MQ. You tell me what evidence or basis there is for snidely referring to MQ as Bush’s “new best friend.” Those are absurdities. We simply praised MQ for pledging, after months of negotiations, to let the UN and the international community observe and verify his WMD and missile disarmament.

    It absolutely baffles me how you rabid Bush-haters manage to turn even the most obvious good news into a way to slam the guy. Look, there are LOTS of reasons to dislike George Bush. GETTING TERRORIST STATES TO GIVE UP THEIR WMD IS NOT ONE OF THEM. Period. Christ.

  17. Sorry for the double-post and their/there confusion.

  18. “You tell me when and where anybody in our government “embraced” MQ.”

    “And another message should be equally clear: leaders who abandon the pursuit of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, and the means to deliver them, will find an open path to better relations with the United States and other free nations. With today’s announcement by its leader, Libya has begun the process of rejoining the community of nations. And Colonel Ghadafi knows the way forward.”- George Bush, yesterday

    I don’t mind that Libya has decided to let in weapons inspectors. I’ll even give Bush some points for that. But I strongly disagree with the claim that this is a vindication of the Iraq war.

    And it also bears pointing out that Bush’s policy towards Libya is the opposite of his policy towards Iraq, and I would like to know why.

  19. Ummm…let’s see….how about this: Libya hasn’t invaded 2 countries. Libya hasn’t committed genocide. Libya hasn’t GASSED THOUSANDS OF ITS OWN CITIZENS TO DEATH. Libya hasn’t broken cease-fire agreements with the US and UN. Libya hasn’t tried to assassinate a former US president.

    Oh, wait, here’s a good one. Libya hasn’t kicked weapons inspectors out of their country – they’re inviting them in, which is the precise opposite.

    In case you’ve forgotten, virtually the entire world thought Iraq still had WMD. All the presidential candidates. Even the French, over and over, stated that they “were sure” Iraq had WMD – they just didn’t agree with what we were planning to do about it.

    I agree the Bush admin exaggerated – perhaps by a lot – the evidence they (thought) they had. But everybody from Bill Clinton Jacques Chirac has expressed having been absolutely convinced that Iraq was still in possession of WMD. There is simply no dispute about that.

  20. As near as I can figure it, your position is this:

    “Bush was wrong about invading Iraq, because instead he should have worked with the international community or negotiated with Saddam. And I hate him because of it.

    “Also, Bush was wrong about working with the international community to negotiate Libya’s WMD disarmament. Instead, he should have invaded. And I hate him because of it.”

  21. Heads I win, tails you lose. Does wonders for one’s sense of moral superiority, but unfortunately it’s not terribly convincing.

  22. Libya has gassed Chadians, shot down an American airliner, shot down a French airliner, supported the IRA, PLO, and numerous other terrorist groups around the world, and tortured and repressed its own people.

    What exactly do you have to do to become irredeemable?

  23. No, I think Bush was right for working wih the international community to disarm Libya. It’s his Iraq policy that I don’t like.

  24. Real life decisions– including foreign affairs– are made under deadlines, uncertainty and risk, and can only be assessed on interim results. The interim results look good– who can deny it?

    I do believe China and NK are cognizant of a new US willingness to act.

    I don’t know what kind of rhetoric the Bush-Haters would like him to employ viz Lybia. As far as I know, we haven’t even lifted sanctions yet. Usually Bush gets in trouble with the opinion-makers for talking like a “cowboy” or a “moron”. But the above sounds like fairly modest diplomatese.

  25. If we’re not willing to invade a place, then all we can do is ignore them or try to convince them to shape up. It’s hard to “negotiate” with a country if your starting position is that they’re “irredeemable”.

    If you read the message you posted yourself, he doesn’t say anything other than this: If they fulfill these promises, they will be back on the path toward someday, eventually, rejoining the community of nations. How you can turn this into some kind of bear hug is beyond me.

  26. There’s no evidence I’m aware of that Libya has ever used chemical weapons against anybody. Obviously, they’re a terrorist state with a terrible history, but I believe the gas claim you made cannot be substantiated.

  27. As I said, I have no problem with Bush’s Libya policy. All I’m saying is that it is inconsistent with many things he has said to justify the Iraq war.

    Slippery Pete-
    “Libya is a country that has used chemical weapons in the past, against the people of Chad. It used them in 1987.” Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Bacon, 1996

  28. During the buildup to Gulf War II, I heard a lot of people refer to the fact that Saddam was the only leader in power who had ever actually used (as opposed to just possessed) WMD. But I guess I stand corrected. πŸ˜‰ I wasn’t aware of that.

  29. “As I said, I have no problem with Bush’s Libya policy. All I’m saying is that it is inconsistent with many things he has said to justify the Iraq war.”

    First, there are significant differences between the leadership in Iraq and the leadership of Libya, so it is unclear to me whether this charge of Bush administration inconsistency is true.

    Second, In an ideal world, statesman could create consistent policies and apply them in a predictable manner.

    In the real world, principles are useful rules of thumb, at best. To stick to principle, regardless of the situation, is poor statesmanship.

    When it comes to securing outcomes in the benefit of national security, it is often helpful to behave inconsistently, to keep adversaries off balance.

    Principles are helpful, but outcomes are the golden standard by which all principles are measured.

  30. “Principles are helpful, but outcomes are the golden standard by which all principles are measured.”

    I actually agree. I would prefer for the war debate to focus on goals and consequences.

    But in fact the President has cast the greater “war on terror”, in which he includes the Iraq war, as a moral struggle of good versus evil, and it is this posture that I find objectionable. Besides being hypocritical, it obscures the real policy issues: how will our actions affect NK? Iran? Our alliances? etc.

  31. Sorry to jump in SP but, alma,
    Your last question is the vital one. And I believe that today’s news helps paint the answer. We can’t really know how our adversaries and allies will respond to any one policy or even one event. We can’t know until after the deed is done. And then we only really see small events that paint a picture of the world. This week has been a good weak for those of us that think the effect has been desirable. But no one knows the future. Hell we can’t even agree on the present.
    PS thoreau:: you are correct sir, I assumed too much. I guess the excitement went to my head.

  32. This is a series of questions I’ve had since the beginning of the Iraqi whatever:
    -Who IS allowed to have WMDs?
    -Who gets to determine who is allowed to have them?
    -How do they get that power of determination?
    -What defines a “terorist state”?
    -What is a “rogue state”? Who gets that power to define?
    -What is an “outlaw nation”?
    -What is a WMD?
    -When do we (the US) dismantle our WMDs and begin demanding that our allies do the same?

  33. Brendan — as far as I know, the US is in the process of dismantling its chemical weapons arsenal under a treaty most of the world signed. All we’ll keep is enough to use as instructional material for troops and as research for scientists.

  34. Slippery P-

    Excellent refutation of an argument I didn’t make. I didn’t say Iraq had no effect on Libya, just that it was hardly the only thing, and it might have happened anyway.

    Further, what you didn’t address were the other claims being made on behalf of the Iraq war in the post I was responding to: did China ease up on Taiwan because of the Iraq war? Really?

    I was a war supporter, on the premise of WMDs existing. I’m now a war opposer, based on the lack of WMDs that were the justification. Other effects may indeed be good, but if we’re to analyze the effects (it won’t convince me on the wisdom of the war, but that doesn’t mean nothing good can come of it), we have to be careful that we don’t “look at the timing” and assume that anything after an event is caused by that event.

    The quotation does look like Libya had some influence from Iraq, but don’t forget this is the second government in that area we’ve knocked over, and I supported the first one and still do (hint: Osama lived there). Don’t also forget that several things that came through the Italians allegedly proved that Saddam Hussein was buying Yellow Cake Uranium. So color me unconvinced without corroboration.

  35. Slippery Pete,

    Libya invaded Chad; the effort lasted from 1975-1987.

    In its war with Chad in the 1980s, it used chemical weapons; mustard gas specifically.

    It was French soldiers that checked Libyan successes; in 1984, we withdrew, while around half the country was still under Libyan rule; Chadian soldiers, equipped by France spent the next three years driving the Libyans out, seizing a lot of the Soviet hardward that the Libyans had used to invade Chad with.

    alma,

    The Libyans used mustard gas more than just in 1987; talking to Chadians, they used them as early as 1981.

  36. Sandy,

    Slippery Pete, et al., make the typically wrong conclusion that correlation implies causality.

  37. So believing that an exercise in military intevention had an effect on other potential targets is like believing in ghosts. Correlation, in conjuction with Oczems(sp) razor, does IMPLY causation. Geez. Obviously this not only a philosophical, but an argument in the presence of facts. Therefore, we do not have rely on box of philosophical correlation, but on the physical realities.
    Jesse is correct in his timeline, but disingenuous in his conclusion. Regardless of how you feel, you are theoretically safer.
    Nothing in the constitution gives us power over other nations. No kidding. Power is the natural consequence of relationships with other nations. We do not dictate to other nations with laws but with power. The only question for the American electorate is, “Does this make us safer?” THAT charge is in the constitution.

  38. F. Harris:

    The constitution might not give the US the right to make decisions FOR the rest of the world, but it certainly gives the US the right to make decisions ABOUT the rest of the world.

    The rest of the wrold has the right to disagree about those decisions and to change or stop them if they wish.

  39. as more of an isolationist lib, I’d have to say that this doesn’t surprise me. Of course, MQ is going to be jittery. One president already blew up some fairly important assets. Why wouldn’t one, who knocked the hell out of saddam, do something to him? And absolutely, I believe there is a correlation between what happened in Iraq and MQ’s statement.

    my only contentions being Libya was the home and exporter of state sponsored terrorism. Syria is as well. It’s a given that those in power are in these various states are going to get jittery. Hopefully they may even reign in their own terrorists.

    My question is, does this do anything to Al Queda and other cells/groups like it? Once again, I don’t think it will. If anything it just tells them that the heads of state are weak. They, like Saddam, fear death. The people doing suicide runs on the other hand, clearly embrace death. If they are not tied to any state then they really have nothing to fear. These are the bastards that flew the planes into the towers. These are the ones to hunt down. Making pathetic third world states tremble at our might has never really been an issue. They know we want blood and under Bush’s leadership we’ll topple gov’ts, invade, bomb, etc to get it.

  40. Dang, man. You are slippery.
    Isn’t it nice, though, that we are on this side of the questions? Better to be asking how we know for sure things are going well. Than knowing they are not, and asking why. Was the war in Iraq worth it? We can never know. That question is the definition of moot. What do we do now? THAT is the only question worth asking. And no one seems to be asking it. But I bet the President is asking. What are we (yes, we) telling him? I believe we are telling him that we are tired and afraid, but pleased. What is the next step? I think it will be the long hard slog of a diplomatic war. I hope.

  41. This is a series of questions I’ve had since the beginning of the Iraqi whatever:
    -Who IS allowed to have WMDs?
    -Who gets to determine who is allowed to have them?
    -How do they get that power of determination?
    -What defines a “terorist state”?
    -What is a “rogue state”? Who gets that power to define?
    -What is an “outlaw nation”?
    -What is a WMD?
    -When do we (the US) dismantle our WMDs and begin demanding that our allies do the same?

    Reasonable questions. How ’bout

    Who IS allowed to have WMD
    Insofar as we can make it stick, parties we deem responsible. That is as far as we are concerned– how others would feel is their own lookout.

    Who gets to determine who is allowed to have them?

    Insofar as it concerns the conduct of US foreign policy, we do. Nothing about the conduct of our foreign affairs requires the approval of other parties.

    How do they get that power of determination?

    Our government derivives its authority from the Constitution.

    What defines a “terorist state”?

    The definition of terror is violence directed at non-combatants for political ends. Not many nations are long-term shields or sponsers of terrorists. The list is discrete.

    -What is a “rogue state”? Who gets that power to define?
    -What is an “outlaw nation”?

    Pretty much answered already. Sponsoring terrorists, acquiring WMD and grotesquely violating the rights of helpless subjects tend to run together.

    What is a WMD?

    Well, the name says it. A weapon that cannot be employed effectively except so as to produce extensive collateral damage.

    When do we (the US) dismantle our WMDs and begin demanding that our allies do the same?

    When the world is safe, Could that be a long time and possibly never” Sure.

    Nothing about the questions above are unanswerable, or even difficult.

  42. Jean Bart –

    You’re dead wrong. Sorry. Ever hear of an outfit called the DNA? I urge you to call up the head of the FDA (and every patient taking drugs approved by the FDA) and explain to them how they’ve erred in considering correlation when deciding whether to approve drugs. I urge you to read any sociological or medical experiment ever conducted anywhere in the history of the world.

    For example, the medical establishment doesn’t know precisely why aspirin works. What they do know is that it’s highly correlated with headaches going away shortly after it’s swallowed. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you were not aware of that. Er, actually, no. I’ll take this as further proof that you’re constantly shooting your mouth off in an extremely arrogant manner and then finding yourself defending preposterous conclusions. This one, though, is by far the most preposterous.

    Correlation is perhaps THE most common and well-understood (except by you) kind of circumstantial evidence. Sometimes less savvy laypeople mistakenly believe that circumstantial evidence is invalid. First, that’s a legal distinction that has no place in a political discussion. Regardless, there are millions of people in jail right now convicted on circumstantial evidence, such as fingerprints and DNA. Circumstantial evidence is perfectly valid – Occam’s Razor, as somebody said earlier. To suggest that this is tantamount to believing in ghosts is laughable.

    But knowing you, you will defend that proposition until the ends of the earth.

  43. Outfit called the FDA, not DNA. Not sure where that came from.

  44. Really phenomenal the lengths to which some will go to turn a silk purse into a sow’s ear… For me, the question has become “Are such critics evil or deranged?” My mental reflex has been to assume derangement, i.e. they hate Bush so much, they really do not perceive the reality shared by the vast majority of people. Now, I’m not so sure. Let’s assume that those denigrating this bit of good news are not deranged, but moral actors, responsible for their sins “in their thoughts and in their words, in what they have done and in what they have failed to do…” Disparaging the good makes accomplishing the good more difficult. Hindering the good is evil. Those who disparage the good are acting evilly. So are you guys deranged or evil?

  45. Jean Bart, usually I like your stuff, but this time you’re way off. Correlation doesn’t equal causation, but all statistical science is based on using correlation to suggest causation. The idea that “correlation doesn’t equal causation” is a warning to not rush too quickly to a conclusion.

  46. Well, when you start discussing epistomology I am likely out of my pay grade, but I am pretty sure that a general cognitive skepticism has scant relevance to making foreign policy decisions: the grounds Jean Bart gives for not believing in ghosts are grounds for not believing in anything else, either. Surely there are more approximate reasons for not believing in ghosts while placing some degree of confidence in other things.

    When discussing foreign policy decisions, it may be more useful to talk about Models, like models for, say, the behavior of the stock market. A model for the market which does not permit you to make timely decisions which are correct more often than not (or often enough), is going to cost you money if you trade on it.

    Bush is using a model of how the world behaves (and how the US can usefully influence it). This model has the admittedly sad feature of recommending the use of force in more circumstances, but also confronts evil in the world. (Lets call it evil– it is.)

    The model Bush is using is not particularly brutal or cynical– it is neither more nor less Machieval than alternatives– and it is employed because his administration is persuaded of it (rightly or wrongly) not because “oil companies run the White House” or “Bush is stupid” or any other such journalistic nonsense.

    It is easier to debunk models than vindicate them. And models can and should be refined and enriched as events unfold.

    It is probably premature to claim the White House model has been vindicated, but it damn sure hasn’t been falsified!

    Implied in the anti-war critique is a different model, based on assumptions of the American (and international) Left– both Establishment and Alternative. Though antwar Libertarians like to believe their take on the war is unique, it actually differs little from Chomsky or Ted Kennedy in its assumptions (albeit in preferences). This is perhaps predictable, in that Libertarianism– insofar as it has a constitiency– draws on the same demographic as the American Left: Volvo liberals and scrunge kids.

    The antiwar model is in a lot of trouble. It was even before last week. Events are falsifying the model. Not a single dire prediction from 9/11 to today has panned out.

    Perhaps the model needs to be refined or enriched. Or maybe it needs to be replaced. Candor about these things is rare in political debat.

  47. Beg to differ, but the scientific method uses measures of correlation but does not rely on them. The whole “double-blind, randomized study with control group” is specifically designed to get around the post hoc fallacy. If you control for confounding variables, eliminate selection bias, reporting bias, and the placebo effect, you can take the correlation “taking aspirin is followed by reports of less headache pain” as impying causation.

    However, without all the rigamarole that makes FDA approval so difficult to achieve, you cannot take correlation as causation–unless you have a sponsor in Congress to exempt “food supplements” from such restrictions, but that’s another argument.

    I don’t doubt that Iraq was a significant (greater than 10%) factor in Libya’s decision. Jesse Walker and others have outlined the other factors. But to imply that it’s the greatest factor is to ignore why we are only talking about Lybia and not North Korea, or Robert Mugabe stepping down, or Osama coming out of his hole to give up.

    I have equally as many problems with a recent post by Eric Meyer (if you’re a Web geek you might read him) that denies that Iraq had any effect on Lybia, and hopes we’ll start compromising with rogue states. Ick. I hope we don’t, but I also hope we don’t piss off all our allies in an attempt to bully the world into liberal market democracy. There are times when it’s OK to bring out the stick and remind such states who they’re dealing with, and there are times to tell your allies to stuff it, but I wouldn’t take Libya as proof that Iraq was both, or that we can rely on having the same effect on other countries now or after future military takedowns.

  48. Sandy –

    You wrote:

    “But to imply that it’s the greatest factor is to ignore why we are only talking about Lybia and not North Korea, or Robert Mugabe stepping down, or Osama coming out of his hole to give up.”

    When we were talking about Iraq, the antiwar types said, “Why aren’t we talking about Libya, North Korea, Iran,” etc. Now we take on Libya, which according to somebody I was just chatrooming with (forget her name just now), gassed Chadians. And you want to know, “Why not North Korea?”

    And when we talk about North Korea, the anti-everythings want to know – why not Iran or Zimbabwe? Huh, huh?!

    And doubtless when we take on North Korea, a lot of very, very smart people are going to sneer and rhetorically ask Bush, “Well, what happend to Iran and Somalia, tough guy?”

    It seems that unless and until he bombs and/or does not bomb every nasty place on earth, you will mock him.

    I’m a Democrat as I’ve said. There are a LOT of things about the guy I don’t like. His effusive religiosity, the whole arc of his career, the cowboy saunter, the anti-intellectualism. But one thing you have to grant him is, agree with his tactics or not, he’s going after rogue states like a scalded pit bull and doesn’t let go. In part, this makes me very nervous, but if it works, fan-fucking-tastic. And, in my strong opinion, it’s working. Three years ago Taliban were summarily executing women at soccer game halftime shows, Saddam was executing dissenters and minorities by the baker’s dozen, and Libya was working on a nukes program. Now they’re not.

    Frankly, I’m not sure why I even care what people who always oppose everything good think about it. Perhaps, as somebody earlier said here, they’re just deranged. Otherwise I can’t understand it.

    I swear to God, if a man named George Bush ever cures cancer, somebody will demand to know why the goddamn hypocrite hasn’t cured AIDS yet.

    I wish the 7 people on the face of the earth who were disappointed to hear about Libya’s disarmament would get together and come up with an explanation why.

  49. alma emits “unlike Saddam Hussein he has also been extensively involved in international terrorism.”

    Bzzt! Wrong answer. Saddam Hussein was extensively involved in international terrorism, alma. He as paying for Palestinian suicide bombers. He was hosting an al Qaeda affiliate in northern Iraq. He gave sanctuary to Abu Nidal (at least until he shot him, anyway). He had what looks for all the world like a highjacker training facility, complete with airliner fuselage.

  50. Once again, I have to say that I wasn’t for invading iraq. To answer the what do we do now question: We are in Iraq and afghanistan. Unfortunately, you can’t just yank yourself out. I think that Bush and his crew (outside of various halliburton-like corruptions, a piss-poor constitution in afghanistan, and who knows what sort of gov’t in Iraq) are at least staying the course. Honestly, they should figure out a way of getting more police/troops on the street to establish order. Order and freedom will do the most good for the Iraqis.

    Now for the question of the war on terrorism:
    1) N. Korea doesn’t export too much terrorism to my knowledge. If someone would like to tell me how and why they were lumped in with the middle east terrorists, that would be great.
    2) States ruled by dictators and thugs will fear the US now that it has stomped on Iraq and Afghanistan and brought several other regimes, like pakistan, under its control. Where this fear will take us is anyone’s guess. Probably more of the gaddafi, and less of the n.korean race to acquire nukes.

    This brings me to point 3) No one in the pro war camp, in this thread, has made the distinction between war on al queda and war on states developing WMD’s and associated or sponsoring terrorism. Sandy pointed this out earlier, as did I. Knocking off a 3rd world piss hole is militarily easy for the US (politically, another story). Hence, Libya is no surprise. The question is how does knocking off Iraq help fight off the int’l criminals that perpetrated 9/11?
    4) I am annoyed with the argument that saddam sponsored terrorism and then folks point to the palestinians. Hilarious. I’m waiting for us to really come down on the PLO and the rest for their acts of terrorism. No, we aren’t principled enough to do that. Instead we’ll host their leader at peace conferences. a good read on him: (http://www.nexis.com/research/home?_key=1072055635&_session=1cf7acba-341c-11d8-8824-8a0c59acaa77.1.3249508435.244451.%20.0.0&_state=&wchp=dGLbVtz-zSkBb&_md5=c92b7377797128e53727f8520fc40f92)

    5) Those of us supporting a war against the folks who perpetrated 9/11, but not against iraq and who ever else might or might not be developing WMDs, may be wrong. So to may the pro-war folks. The west has already colonized Iraq and set it free to its own people and then interfered again. We’re not playing out anything new. As to where it all ends up? Anyone’s guess might be true.

  51. so one person says that while it’s not proof, correlation does give you an indication of what is happening. another person then gets their panties in a twist because correlation isn’t even an indication of activity. since when did people who know the word correlation not know how it is used? i know jean is french, but imply is a pretty simple word compared to correlation!

    to recap: correlate acts a proxy for proof. it is not proof, but it is definitely an indication that one should take the theory seriously and investigate it. somehow believing that people ignore correlations and simply test the hell out of eerything so they can prove everything is mid blowingly stupid, even for a frenchman!

  52. Yelowd –

    I don’t disagree really with what you said. I supported the war because I believed that the fever swamp of ME politics acts as a breeding ground for Arab/Muslim discontent. The lack of freedom precipitates a lack of development, meaning no jobs and little secular hope. Thus people run to religion in its most radical forms. We also had gotten an unfair reputation for cutting and running (Reagan from Beirut in the early 80s, Clinton from Somalia in the 90s). There was a “paper tiger” theory of the US in wide circulation, and I think it’s been decimated. A lot of people are going to think twice about fucking with us from now on, and that is goooooood news.

    But Saddam’s involvement in terrorism was minimal, as you say. Excellent observation, too, that most of those who use Saddam’s payoffs to suicide murderers as justification for claiming he was funding terrorism do not condemn the PLO equally.

    I think the invasion of Iraq was one battle in the war on terrorism, broadly defined. But narrowly defined, it was probably not. As I’ve said before, reasonable people can come to very different conclusions about the way this war is being fought.

  53. BTW, I think it speaks very highly of Reason that they maintain and give a voice to a variety of opinions on this subject. One of the reasons I’m here so much is that I like to bump my prejudices and assumptions up against those of the extremely smart people who disagree with people like me on this board.

  54. Andrew,

    Nothing in the Constitution gives the U.S. either the legal or moral authority to make decisions for the rest of the world.

  55. Thankyou so much for arraying yourself against an assertion that I never made. I wrote that correlation does not imply causality; I did not write that correlation with either empirical observational or experimental studies cannot show causality. Indeed, the latter case, causality, if the experimental design is properly constructed, proving causality is often expected.

    These two very seperate arguments. Indeed, your original argument was that in the absence of contrary evidence (never mind positive evidence for the correlation), that correlation implies causality. Which is bullshit. That is the statement that I addressed, and continue to address; to be frank, you can’t defend it, and therefore you try to deflect the argument away the merits of your statement.

    In the future, dipshit, attack my arguments, and not the arguments that you make up and try and foist upon me.

  56. Andy D.,

    No doubt, but the fact remains that in order to show causality one must create controls, etc. Correlation, by itself, does not imply causality; in fact, all it implies is that a correlation exists. A correlation is not a causal connection. Which is of course why one of the main aspects of empirical observational studies is involved in finding hidden variables and controlling for them. Now when someone tells you, as that idiot Slippery Pete has, that in the mere absence of contrary evidence that correlation implies causality, then you’ve got to start pondering what sort of bark the man has been eating.

  57. “A correlation is not a causal connection.”

    And thank YOU, Jean Bart, for pulling a 9.9 on the uneven hypocrisy bars. Nobody here ever said such a thing and you know it.

    I’m not going to debate this point anymore because, as I predicted, you will defend any notion, no matter how ignorant, before admitting that you are wrong about anything.

  58. Slippery,

    That comment wasn’t addressed to you; nor, if you had read it in context, did I imply that anyone made such a statement. Isn’t this what you Americans calling a “Dowding?” πŸ™‚

    BTW, I still would like to see you defend the following statement:

    “Correlation does not prove causation – but it certainly does imply or suggest it absent stronger evidence in the opposite direction.”

  59. What are you, French?

  60. Jean Bart, how the fuck do empiricists know what variables to control until they see what direction correlation points in? Huh? Christ almighty.

    You seem to think we’re debating chemotherapy. Ok, M. Bart, you tell me where the control George Bush is and what George Bush variables I should control before I consider the fact that MQ initiated discussions the month we invaded Iraq and concluded them the week after we got Saddam.

  61. Correlation does not imply causality; never has, and it never will. All a correlation shows is that a correlation between two factors, etc. exists (be it negative, positive, weak, etc.). Now, people can try to infer or otherwise guess that a causal relationship exists; but that is very different issue indeed.

  62. Slippery Pete,

    What does my nationality have to do with anything? What, are you some sort of national chauvanist? Maybe you want to know if I am Jewish or black or some such too?

    “Jean Bart, how the fuck do empiricists know what variables to control until they see what direction correlation points in? Huh?”

    They do empirical observational research or they perform experiments. Merely because one can find correlations does not imply causality.

    “You seem to think we’re debating chemotherapy. Ok, M. Bart, you tell me where the control George Bush is and what George Bush variables I should control before I consider the fact that MQ initiated discussions the month we invaded Iraq and concluded them the week after we got Saddam.”

    You want me to design an empirical observational study for you? Give me a few days.

  63. Let’s try this tack. Were you aware that most forms of life (not including frogs, mais oui) have a biological response to food that makes them sick? They are physically repulsed by the sight/smell/etc. of it thereafter. This is psychology 101 stuff, I’m sure you’re aware of it.

    How could that be? Presumably a good secularist like yourself understands that evolution is to thank. Now, if correlation does not imply causation, then how come acting as if it DOES enhances an organism’s rate of survival?

    Wow, that’s really weird, huh?

    No straw men, frog. Nobody here ever said it proved anything. And bear in mind that the jumping off point was a political argument, which has little to do with where we’re at in this idiotic argument (when I said I was quitting, I lied.)

  64. Frog –

    No, there’s nothing wrong with being Jewish or Black. Frenchness is not a race, it is merely a political and reputational handicap.

    The reason I want to know is simple. If you were French, empirically, I would have expected you to concede and surrender the first time I said fuck.

  65. Merely because you can infer a causal relationship between two correlated variables (or three or four, etc.) does not mean those variables imply causality. Indeed, as is the case of much of science, the inferences one can attempt to make are manifold, yet causality is still not implied by the correlated variables.

  66. Zut! You failed to answer the question. Please try again.

  67. Slippery Pete,

    You lost the argument by pulling out the ethnic insults. Enjoy your day.

  68. The biological avoidance mechanism I just described ees proof zat you are wrong.

    Say I eat zee frog, yes? And I get sick zee next day. If I’m a normal healthy person who’s not French, I will tend to avoid eating zee frog again in zee future, yes? Zees biological urge would not exist if zee assumption zat correlation implies causation were not true.

  69. I’ll tell Mumia you inquried. Take care now.

  70. French is an ethnicity?! Really!? And all this time I thought it was a nationality. Wow, weeeeird man.

  71. Slippery Pete,

    It could have been any number of things that made you sick; that you infer a causal relationship is your own bias, it does not mean that correlation implies causality. Your inferences about the nature of the correlation are simply that, your inferences. They do not indeed prove correlation implies causality; what they prove is that you can create inferences out of two seemingly correlated variables. Correlation implies nothing about causality; humans make inferences about correlated variables, but that is not because the correlated variables supply a causal connection.

    What your example reminds me is of the “bad airs” school of infection from the days before, well, you know, that Frenchman who, well, discovered that bacteria are the cause of much human illness. Hmm, his name was, hmm, Pasteur. Anyway, they felt that there was a correlation between “bad air” (smelly air) and certain illnesses; thus the wearing of masks stuffed with flowers, etc. Of course the inference they made was wrong; even though there seemed to be a correlation between the two. The fact was there was a hidden variable – specifically bacteria, etc. – that was causing the various illnesses.

  72. Slippery Pete,

    French is an ethnic group as being a German is.

  73. Slippery Pete,

    And whether being French is being part of an ethnic group or not, I can’t see how “group based” insults are remotely libertarian or the sorts of things that a libertarian would stand for. If you don’t like me personally, fine; but I had thought that at least some of us had gotten past this tribal, group-based collectivist non-sense.

  74. Slippery Pete,

    “By definition, all things being equal, correlation absolutely, positively does IMPLY causation. What it does not do is PROVE it, which is why I specifically disclaimed that position.

    You’ve got the wording of that phrase a bit scrambled in your head. Correlation does not prove causation – but it certainly does imply or suggest it absent stronger evidence in the opposite direction. If you actually read what I wrote, you’ll see that that’s exactly what I’ve said.”

    He he he. Correlation does not suggest anything like causality; even in the absence of contrary evidence. Correlation by itself, in other words, is not a substitute for actually establishing causality. To be frank, your comments are similar to those who believe in ghosts and all manner of strange entities and events, simply because some correlation (a dream of an airplane crash followed by an airplane crash for example) exists, and cannot be “disproven.” Take a basic science methods course and relieve yourself of this rather mistaken idea.

  75. Slippery Pete,

    To make myself clear, if you continue to believe that the default rule is that correlation implies or infers causality in the absence of contrary evidence, then you will most certainly leave yourself prey to all manner of irrational notions. Causlity must be demonstrated in the case of correlations; mere absence of contrary evidence is not such proof; accordingly, one should not imply or infer causality from a correlation, even in the absence of contray evidence.

  76. Jean Bart –

    By definition, all things being equal, correlation absolutely, positively does IMPLY causation. What it does not do is PROVE it, which is why I specifically disclaimed that position.

    You’ve got the wording of that phrase a bit scrambled in your head. Correlation does not prove causation – but it certainly does imply or suggest it absent stronger evidence in the opposite direction. If you actually read what I wrote, you’ll see that that’s exactly what I’ve said.

  77. Sandy –

    The simplest way of putting it is that you don’t believe Iraq was a significant factor in Libya’s decision to negotiate an end to their WMD programs. My position is that it probably was a significant factor, since the timing strongly IMPLIES that correlation and since a contemporaneous report by PM Burlesconi states so straight up. I mean, outside of a court of law or a videotaped confession, it doesn’t get much easier than that.

  78. It must be hard for the anti-war crowd to speak to this. It is about as straight-forward a vindication of the New Assertivness in US foreign policy as real life could possibly supply.

    Not really. For one thing, Qaddafi has been trying to mend fences with the West for years, and with renewed vigor since 9/11. For another, if it’s difficult to portray Saddam as a threat to the US, it’s almost impossible to do such a paint job on Qaddafi. The chances that he’d use weapons of mass destruction against American civilians — even by the bizarre redefinition of WMD to include mustard gas — are close to nil. He hardly cares about Arab causes any more, and his big project these days is extending Libyan influence in Africa. I suppose it’s nice to hear that he’s disarming, but I can’t say I feel more secure either way.

  79. I think this news goes to show that Moammar Gaddafi is a lot smarter than Jean Bart.

  80. Food fight!

  81. Call me a Bush-hater, but I will never like the guy, no matter what he does. Simple reasons:

    1) He’s a liar. Over and over.
    2) His domestic policies are hurting people who aren’t in his socioeconomic class.
    3) He hires felons to advise him (John Poindexter, etc).
    4) He is in the pocket of big business.
    5) He is incurious, anti-intellectual, and won the presidency based on money and charisma, not on exceptional ability to govern.
    6) He cannot face a real opponent. He is so well managed by his handlers that we never see him face-to-face with a real intellectual, who would demolish him with facts and reason. Gore could have done this if he weren’t so awkward. Dean may be able to do this.

    That said, I am glad Hussein was captured, and hope the other good things can come of Bush’s ill-advised war.

  82. One thing is clear about the Lybia’s capitulation. and the timing of it: it is inconsistent with much of the anti-war critique. When astronomers debate the nature of, say, a distant galaxy and compare differing models they examine indicators that are consistent or inconsistent with the differing models.
    A commonplace of the antiwar critique was that the invasion of Iraq would inflame the Arab world, or at least produce a sulleness truculence and hostility that would make US diplomacy in the region up-hill sledding.
    That isn’t happening: Quadafi knows it isn’t happening, and you have no reason to doubt his judgment– if he was “holding out for a better deal” for years, why would he cave when the climate was turning against the US? That doesn’t make any sense?

    The case for the war ALWAYS rested on a half a dozen reasons:

    1.) Saddam’s non-compliance with the truce agreement.

    2.) Saddam’s history with WMD.

    3.) Iraq’s ties with regional and international terror.

    4.) The vile nature of Saddam’s regime.

    5.) The need to start somewhere in changing the politics of despair in the Mid-East.

    6.) The need to get the oil flowing again without empowering Saddam.

    I would say the case has held up well (even the WMD question needs time…SOMETHING happened to it What?)

    The last American President the American (and World) Left “just couldn’t abide” was Ronald Reagan. Who is going to argue that he had nothing to do with the demoralization and collapse of Communism.

  83. Slippery Pete,

    My statement about “you Americans” was not an insult; that you try to imply that it is … I think this demonstrates a certain level of dishonesty on your part.

    I will answer your question after you justify the statement that you made above that I have repeatedly asked you to justify, and before you asked your question. If you want me to respect your queries, then you must respect mine.

    yelowd,

    I am French; I happen to work in the U.S. Look up HB-1 visa. You see, the US has this terrible lack of engineers, and you have to import them.

    Re: Language Skills – BTW, I know that one might find this shocking, but non-English speakers can learn English. Indeed, I was taking English courses at an early age.

  84. “Jean Bart, controls are used in empirical science because they’re very useful in eliminating possibilities, but when trying to assess cause and effect outside the laboratory (any social science and plenty of regular science) you don’t have the luxury of a well-controlled experiment. So you’re forced to come up with logical theories and see if the theories pan out. Assessing correlations is an important part of this, but you need to be careful with it. I really haven’t followed this bloated thread, so I don’t know who has the better interpretation of the facts; but I hope everyone can agree that looking at correlations is very helpful even outside of controlled experiments… to deny something this obvious would be ridiculous.”

    Of course looking at correlations is very helpful; I never stated or implied that this wasn’t the case. Nor did I say that via empirical observation or experiment that one cannot find causal connections between correlated variables. Neverthless, correlation still does not imply causality. Again, that doesn’t mean correlations aren’t useful, or that that one may not infer causal connections from them; but as I have written REPEATEDLY, they do not imply causality. Ones inferences are exactly that; ones inferences. The correlation itself does not imply causality.

    In other words, your statement does not address an argument that I have made; why you and Slippery Pete remain so far wide of the mark I cannot say, but I think its largely because you don’t understand the nature of the subjects that we have addressed.

  85. How tedious that this thread has turned to an endless and pointless review of Humean skepticism!

    (Much less Jean Bart’s wounded sensibilities…how often does the mainstream European press insult the intellect and character of the US as a nation and a people?)

    No political discussion of any public policy issue discussed on H&R has ever been held to such philosophically pure standards.

    When a snarky comment about the failure to find Iraqi WMD after months of searching surfaces on one of these threads– along with the assertion that the Bush administration lied when they claimed to believe in their existence (as did the French) will Jean Bart et al please log in to note the Inductive Fallacy in action…that is, if he is not too busy addressing Anti-American slurs on the Franco-phone sites!

  86. Another assertion that has gone unchallenged on this thread– that the Libyan capitulation has been “a long time coming”. Where is the evidence of that? Give me a time-line. Supply one example of Lybia “softening up” prior to 2003. Maybe the Lockerbee settlement– I’m not sure of the timing on that, but it was a discrete event: at the time Libya was still denying they even had WMD.
    On the face of it Lybia’s decisions look more like a turn-around than a climax. If you don’t think so, supply the case for the contrary.

    That is what this thread was supposed to be about– examing the evidence we have, not chasing G.E. Moore’s “certainty”.

  87. “I am French; I happen to work in the U.S. Look up HB-1 visa. You see, the US has this terrible lack of engineers, and you have to import them.”

    that H1B is a great program – i only hope they streamline the process. having skilled workers here is always a good thing. you know, free movement of labor and (human) capital, and all.

    (a friend of mine (econ and international law – did a semester at duke and stayed here for a coupla years) was an H1B. very cool – just a pain in the ass paperwork process!)

    i thought you were writing articles a la journalism. mea culpa!

    and, when everybody gets all bunched about correlation and causation – get rid of the multicolinearity (smell and bad air), do some other tests, etc. that’s what pasteur did. and that’s what virgil johnson was neverminding when mongo burst onto the scene!

    okay. there’s a linear relationship between these two things. is it like the moon and the tides? is it cold temperatures associated with the common cold? is it the correlation between # handguns in the US and # murders in the us? is it the famous study in the 60s with a pretty good “r” showing lung cancer in women and driver’s licenses given to women increased at similar, correlated rates. did one cause the other? (even going with that “underlying” point, factor analysis is a good way to go.

    statisticians, please help out when i don’t speak accurately)

    multicolinearity. that’s as almost a cool word as stochastic, but still…

    cheers,
    drf

  88. davidf,

    My article was historical in nature; I am a amateur historian as well. It concerned the battle of Bir Hakeim; where the French saved the British ass in North Africa. πŸ™‚

    I also kayak and ski and target shoot. Sometimes I believe I should make a web page and point people to it in order to ask these inevitable questions.

  89. Andrew,

    “(Much less Jean Bart’s wounded sensibilities…how often does the mainstream European press insult the intellect and character of the US as a nation and a people?)”

    Even if that is the case, all your argument amounts to is “They did it, I should be able to!” BTW, I am not the European press, so your justification falls short there as well. And I have not noticed a reticence on the part of some elements of the U.S. to insult Europeans when it pleased them. Of course it would be far better if we did not trade in these sorts of insults in the first place, and kept ourselves to the issue at hand. My Frenchness, nor is anyone’s nationality, is not a proxy for the validity of my arguments.

    And my sensibilities aren’t wounded; I am little perturbed that the basis of someone’s argument boils down to “You are French, therefore you are wrong” however. And somehow the notion that I should be treated as an individual would I think be welcomed here. But perhaps I am mistaken.

  90. “Even if that is the case…”

    If?

    Can you doubt it?

    You must not be reading any papers published in France– or is this an example of Continental solipcism? (however you spell it)

    I would love to address the issue at hand– when do you plan to get around to it?

    Since April/May every straw in the wind has been blowing one way. Wittgenstein might say that this isn’t “evidence” of the wind’s direction, it IS the wind’s direction.

    On the subject of French foreign policy, Villepin seems to be on a non-stop tour to every sleazeball on the planet. He has to define a Euro FP that contrasts with the US, and since the US FP has been redefined as “crack on the bad guys”, bad guys are the only coonstituency he can summon. Kinda dumb, don’t you think?

    A week or so ago, I heard a French intellectual explain on Charlie Rose, how the Cold War was a “useful and healthy” competition for mankind.

    And here I am, thinking the Cold War– taken by itself– was about as useful for humanity as Death, Entropy and the Devil.

    We have so much to learn from you Europeans.

  91. Jean Bart –

    You started making comments about what an idiot I am and then began ranting about “you Americans”. I was just having fun with you. You can dish it out but not take it, hypocrite.

    PS: Hyperliteralism is no fun.

    PPS: You still won’t answer my question.

    PPPS: It is you who is ginning nationality up into something ethnic and then choosing to take offense, i.e., being tribalist. Not me. Is being American an “ethnicity”?

  92. Jean Bart – if correlation truly implies NOTHING about causality, then the genetic disposition to avoid foods correlated with illness would never have arisen. That is my only point. Why don’t you try addressing this point head-on instead of dancing around it.

    Also, I don’t deny that the French have done many great things. Didn’t they invent powered flight? Seems I heard quite a lot about that when I was over there.

  93. Jean Bart-
    You shot yourself in the foot with that Pasteur analogy. If they believed that the “bad air” was causing people to become ill, then they were understanding a correct correlation. They just had to take it one step further and ask what is causing the “bad air”, which I believe they did. If you’ve ever been in a cancer ward or visited someone on their deathbed, you know the smell of “bad air”, and you know that something is causing it.

    * and in some cases the “bad air” will make you sick.

  94. Correlation and causation don’t really relate to a discussion about a human decision on the macro level, do they? I mean, the way you have to control for variables is through reproducable experiments, and you can’t really do that with a single human decision.

    We aren’t talking about physics here.

    I have to say that it seems a little desperate to claim that the attack on Hussein was not a factor in MQ’s thinking.

    The Raimondo set may disagree about the morality of this type of war, but they detract from their position by arguing that a credible threat of force is a non issue on the international stage. Such arguments are what give radicals an air of utopian silliness.

    If there is one thing that MQ understands, it is bombs falling in his swimming pool.

  95. As Julian Simon said, the key to progress of society is people. But, complexly, many people need killing.
    It’s a great temptation to be a U.S. citizen with both the power and the list.

    Problem is it just won’t work over the long haul. It’s interesting how many, even on H&R, want to jump on the example of Libya and extrapolate that U.S. violence works.
    Wars on poverty, drugs, terror just will not work. Get jiggy with it. Move on.
    As Harry Browne says, government doesn’t work, and that applies to the military.

  96. This was a long time coming. Libya had been negotiating away its WMD programs for the biggest payoff for years. The decision not to include them in the Axis of Evil should be a tipoff that they, unlike the Iran, Iraq, and North Korea, were working with us (defined broadly) to rejoin the internation community.

    Politically, however, the timing of this thing looks great for Bush. Combined with Japan signing on for missile defense and the capture of Saddam, this is the administration’s big chance to assert America’s role as the leader of the international order, on our terms, while still solidifying other nations’ adherence to the rules of that order by paying attention to the legal niceities and cleaning up some of the dipolomatic messes we’ve made. This would both strengthen America’s position in the political order, and give Bush something that he could actually use to win over voters who aren’t already with him.

    That isn’t going to happen, though. The people running our foreign policy have no desire to define an international order, but to destroy the concept of such a thing. They don’t want what has just happened to define a new set of norms, but to showcase the fact that we don’t care about international norms. They’re not looking to pin the Sherrif’s badge on our chest, but to declare “We don’t need no stinknig badges.”

    Domestically, these events could be used as in instrument to bring large numbers of Democratic voters and officials on board. A lot more likely, however, is that Bush will use the instrument as a club to beat them down.

  97. Pete, it looked like you were winning to me until you started with the nationalist insults. A French guy starts in with the philosophy, and otherwise thoughtful Americans turn into Ed Anger.

  98. Ruthless:

    That has always been my problem with Browne. He just ignores large portions of reality. Violence absolutely works sometimes, and it is the only appropriate solution in some instances.

    If I am looking at a fellow who is ideologically opposed to freedom as I know it, who runs a country through thuggery, I am not at all averse to treating him like the schoolyard bully. I definitely bust him up when he picks on me, but I might also bust him up when he picks on some other kid. We can’t treat people like Saddam and MQ as though they are the victims in the drug war, who are not hurting anyone.

  99. “Merely because you can infer a causal relationship between two correlated variables (or three or four, etc.) does not mean those variables imply causality. Indeed, as is the case of much of science, the inferences one can attempt to make are manifold, yet causality is still not implied by the correlated variables. ”

    Good job getting off topic with the cauality/correlation rant.

    No wonder that France is a third rate nation.

  100. Jason Ligon,

    I’m not renouncing violence. Shucks, I’m “Ruthless” after all. I’m saying “official” U.S. violence almost always produces unintended consequences that make the overall situation worse.

  101. Berlusconi? Yeah, he’s trustworthy.

  102. I’ll guess that the percentage of heroin addicts who drank milk as children is something like 98.4%.

    Causation implied?

  103. Joe –

    I started with the French jokes the moment Jean Bart started talking about “you Americans”.

  104. Justin –

    Your example would strain anybody’s definition of “correlation”. Justin, meet Pavlov. Pavlov, Justin.

  105. Pete, you responded to this:

    ‘Isn’t this what you Americans calling a “Dowding?” :)’

    By calling him the most recognized anti-French slur in the language, using a “funny” French voice, and directly insulting his ancestry.

    Bad form, old bean.

  106. No, it’s still legal to make fun of French people. Seriously. I looked it up.

  107. And, for the record, he never actually said he was French.

    Given his nearly perfect English, I rather assumed he was Canadian and was just egging him on. And given all his talk about what a bunch of “idiots”, “cowards”, etc. his opponents (me) were, I thought he deserved getting his feathers ruffled.

    Frenchness is not an ethnicity. So both my jesting comments and the very serious admonishments against them are about nothing.

  108. “but the fact remains that in order to show causality one must create controls,”

    Jean Bart, controls are used in empirical science because they’re very useful in eliminating possibilities, but when trying to assess cause and effect outside the laboratory (any social science and plenty of regular science) you don’t have the luxury of a well-controlled experiment. So you’re forced to come up with logical theories and see if the theories pan out. Assessing correlations is an important part of this, but you need to be careful with it. I really haven’t followed this bloated thread, so I don’t know who has the better interpretation of the facts; but I hope everyone can agree that looking at correlations is very helpful even outside of controlled experiments… to deny something this obvious would be ridiculous.

    Also, I might have missed something, but was the “correlation” in question Gaddafi’s increased openness to having weapons inspectors being correlated with Saddam’s capture? Very strange if so, because it’s not really a correlation if it’s just two data points.

  109. Pete,
    Yeah, JB is french, or at least we all work on the assumption that he is. Making fun of frenchiness is legal, but that doesn’t mean that you aren’t an ass for doing it.

    Justin,
    Sure, you can conclude causation from that if you like, but there is pretty good evidence to the contrary. That’s the point, if there’s evidence to the contrary, then that implies that there was no correlation. I’m not citing any research because 82% of all statistics are made up on the spot anyway.

  110. Slippery-
    I had wondered about the whole frenchness as well. That and always being around during roughly “american times” to post.

    jean bart- what gives?

  111. Do you have ANYTHING to say about Lybia?

    Perhaps you do, now that it’s been cleared by the French establishment?

    This would be comment 113 on this thread, and less than 20 (none of yours) has anything of substance to offer about the actual issue.

  112. hi Jean Bart!

    thank you kindly!

    and merry christmas to you and Family!

    amicalment,
    drf

  113. “You must not be reading any papers published in France– or is this an example of Continental solipcism? (however you spell it)”

    I read Le Figaro, Le Monde, etc., everyday. I don’t notice much in the way of what you describe. How about some actual “evidence” for your assertion.

    “A week or so ago, I heard a French intellectual explain on Charlie Rose, how the Cold War was a ‘useful and healthy’ competition for mankind.”

    If it demonstrated that communism was unworkable, I would say that it was beneficial. Its unfortunate that human beings have to learn these lessons the difficult way, but so be it.

    And U.S. FP has not been re-defined as such; your government is as willing to deal with “bad guys” as it ever was; for example, witness your relationships with the Central Asian Thugocracies. Of course, France also has similar relationships – even a few military outposts there – so its kettle and pot time in that regard.

  114. Andrew,

    BTW, if you had actually read Le Monde or Le Figaro today you would have noted the effusive praise to the US and the UK for getting Libya to abandon its WMD plans. One data point in my favor.

  115. EMAIL: draime_2000@yahoo.com
    IP: 62.213.67.122
    URL: http://www.pills-for-penis.com
    DATE: 01/25/2004 06:16:24
    We are as God made us, and often a great deal worse.

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