Stern on Iraq

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Terror in the Name of God author Jessica Stern gives multiple thumbs down to the war in Iraq:

The war in Iraq has split the allies, not the terrorists. It has turned Iraq into a Mecca for international terrorists, and mobilized local Shiite and Salafi jihadist groups that had previously posed a minimal threat. It has facilitated connections between terrorists and those with formal military experience in Saddam's army, the lethal nightmare that the invasion was supposed to have thwarted. Antipathy toward the United States, not only in Iraq and throughout the entire Islamic world, but in Europe as well, has become a dangerous trend exploited by terrorists. Even as we tout our successes in rounding up al-Qaida terrorists, the broader movement inspired by bin Laden and ignited by the invasion of Iraq is recruiting new nihilist minions throughout the world. The war in Iraq has not only been a distraction from the war on terrorism; it has strengthened our enemies in ways that continue to surprise and horrify us. Where will we be surprised next?

That's from a piece she did for Salon, online here (sub or day pass ad required). Not sure I agree with her, but it's an interesting article.

Reason interviewed Stern a while back.

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  1. OK, a question to the hawks: Is there anything that might convince you that the transformation isn’t working? Like if the war should, say, get former Iraqi military personnel to coordinate with terrorists groups that they had previously spurned (out of self-interest, not principle)? Like, say, the war generating even more anti-American sentiment among ordinary people around the world?

    Before you point out that the Islamo-fascists already hate us, the issue isn’t the hard-core people. The issue is the ordinary people whom the terrorists have to blend in with, the people whom the terrorists have to hope won’t call the cops on them. The people who will turn a blind eye now and then, or refuse to believe what’s really going on because they think it must be a Western lie.

    Anyway, I’ve asked if there are circumstances that would cause the hawks to change their minds. To be fair, I’ll lay my cards on the table and tell you what would cause me to change my mind: Substantial evidence of collaboration between the Iraqi gov’t and Al Qaeda prior to the invasion.

    Finally, for those who want a regional transformation, what if we used our billions of dollars in aid to Egypt and Jordan, and leveraged that into liberal reform there? What if we pointed out to Kuwait that they are dependent on us for protection, and in return we want to see some liberal reform? It wouldn’t be as much fun as going to war, but it would be a way to transform a region without alienating a lot of ordinary people.

    Just a thought.

  2. This has certainly become the cliched argument for those against the war. Can’t say I find it convincing on any front. The terrorists would be against us no matter what we did, as they were before 9/11–yes, they’re fighting now, but that’s because we decided to take the fight to them rather than sit back and let them choose. The history of Europe (or, let’s be fair, parts of it) opposing us goes back at least as far as we’ve been a world power. There are a number of reasons I don’t have time to get into here as to why they disagree with us, but most come down to them wanting more power and money, not them being more moral than we are. Many of the best things we’ve done in the past 50 years were opposed by many Europeans, and so I must say their approval is nice, but it’s pretty low on the scale of what’s important. (The approval of the UN is closer to a negative.) We’re fighting a serious war here, and while I’m all for getting allies, it can’t be done at the cost of losing our power to maneuver. What we’re tying to do is big and lasting, and because we’ve been lax for two generations it’ll be tough, but I think the alternatives are worse. I’m not happy when there are bumps in the road, but there’s really no other way. I try to keep my eyes on the prize, but the world of politics tends to be more shortsighted, so it’s tough.

  3. Thoreau, I can answer your question if you can tell me at what point the fight against Hitler should have been stopped. The world was ripped apart and millions died. What would have been so horrible to give in? And how much more quickly would you have given up the fight against Hitler if I had stats showing you is was pissing off people against the US?

  4. “The terrorists would be against us no matter what we did”

    Do you believe in the concept of degree? Of the margin? Or are “the terrorists” a fixed phenomenon with a fixed number and no change in circumstances can possibly change their numbers or (as Thoreau points out) the support they get from those not directly involved?

  5. “Finally, for those who want a regional transformation, what if we used our billions of dollars in aid to Egypt and Jordan, and leveraged that into liberal reform there?”

    Actually, we are using those billions of dollars in aid to Egypt and Jordan to leverage liberal reform there. By keeping those nations stable, we’re preventing a radicalist coup from turning them into Iran. Do you think the US is just writing checks to Egypt and Jordan for the hell of it now, and so we should start asking for something in return now?

    I figured this sort of thing was common knowledge.

  6. El Capitano,

    You reminded me of why this war is so irritating–or will be–to voters, and another way it’s like Vietnam:
    Unlike WWII, VN and Iraq are silly–I say, silly–places for US soldiers to be.

    (Bush will be forced to withdraw his candidacy for President.)

  7. Do you believe in the concept of degree? Of the margin? Or are “the terrorists” a fixed phenomenon with a fixed number and no change in circumstances can possibly change their numbers or (as Thoreau points out) the support they get from those not directly involved?

    Do you have any evidence that their numbers or support from the locals has increased?

  8. So we’re writing checks to maintain a miserable status quo instead of pushing for something better?

    I suppose one could argue that if those push too hard for liberal reforms it will just increase the likelihood of a radical coup. Hmm, what would that imply for the prospects of regional transformation?

    Mind you, I’m not convinced that regional transformation is impossible, but I’m not convinced that it’s possible either. What I am convinced of is that regional transformation is a tricky business, and that if it is possible there’s probably more than one way to pursue it, and that maybe liberal reform in countries where we have leverage would be a better route than invading Iraq.

  9. So we’re writing checks to maintain a miserable status quo instead of pushing for something better?

    Your post implied that those foreign aid dollars aren’t getting us anything, when they are. And given the huge amounts of money we have to spend simply to maintain the “miserable status quo,” it’s hard to see how your proposal to leverage that money into serious reform has any merit.

  10. Josh-

    If you get somebody used to carrots, then simply reducing the number of carrots is effectively a stick.

  11. Thoreau-

    If lack of carrots causes those governments to collapse, we’re going to need to recruit a lot more sticks.

  12. So, what we have is a case of a foreign regime that will crumble the moment the US gov’t reduces its welfare payment. A regime that will crumble the moment they implement liberal reforms.

    And all these points are insisted upon by the same people who insist that regional transformation can be accomplished by invading Iraq.

  13. This excerpt is exactly like all the other statements of the “peace” crowd in the most important respect. It is entirely reactionary, entirely conservative. Basically, the Bush administration is taking steps that it believes are in the long-term best interest of the country. Now, you can make all kinds of arguments, many of them persuasive, against their various policies. What you will very rarely find people who are against these policies doing is offering an ALTERNATIVE. It is very easy to sit back and play armchair quarterback if you are Jessica Stern and you have an audience, but much more difficult to actually come up with a good idea of how to address the problem.

  14. Why make the world situation so difficult?
    Anarchists don’t care about steenking liberal reforms. They’d just cut the money off and look forward to being surprised.
    Surprise is good.
    You’re going to be surprised no matter what you do. Get jiggy with it.

  15. Brian,

    “Many of the best things we’ve done in the past 50 years were opposed by many Europeans, and so I must say their approval is nice, but it’s pretty low on the scale of what’s important.”

    Can you be slightly more specific? BTW, you cannot fight this war without Europe.

    “We’re fighting a serious war here, and while I’m all for getting allies, it can’t be done at the cost of losing our power to maneuver.”

    Of course it could be argued that you are fighting a serious war in the wrong way.

    “What we’re tying to do is big and lasting, and because we’ve been lax for two generations it’ll be tough, but I think the alternatives are worse.”

    Indeed, it could be big and lasting in rather negative ways.

  16. Tim-

    Here’s a proposal:

    1) Continue our work in Afghanistan.
    2) Use our clout with Egypt, Jordan, and Kuwait to push for liberal reforms, hopefully making steps toward the much-sought-after “regional transformation.”

  17. Surprise is good.

    Fatuous nonsense.

    I was surprised when I turned on the radio at 8:20 am CST on 9/11/01.

    It was not a good surprise. I look forward to never being surprised in quite that way again.

    Before we went to war against the terrorist networks, they hated us as much as they could and hit us as hard and as often as they could. The notion that we have made them madder is ridiculous. The idea that they are more capable (more recruits, more support) is unsupported by any facts of which I am aware, and contradicted by the course of recent events. They, not we, are on the defensive and fighting for survival. Their “nihilist minions” are flooding into Iraq, where we are only to happy to help them achieve martyrdom. I think we are better off machine gunning them in the streets of Iraq, as opposed to sorting their DNA from that of their victims elsewhere after their belt bombs go off.

    The Iraq war hasn’t split the allies – those who haven’t joined us there weren’t really ever on our side in the first place. Antipathy toward the US predates the war; the war merely made it more difficult to lie to our face about whether you wished us well or ill.

    The local militias are an increased threat because Saddam is no longer feeding them feet first into shredders. Personally, I prefer a tribal Iraq to a Baathist Iraq.

    An unconvincing critique.

  18. Thoreau:

    I appreciate the tone of your initial post. Open-minded folks should be willing to change their position on applying fundamental principles to any issue if the facts of the case merit it. In this case, you would change your mind if a clearer link was established for you between pre-war Iraq and al Qaeda. So a fundamental principle you bring to the table is that al Qaeda is an enemy of America, as would be its allies, and thus military force is justified.

    I happen to think that the link has been established, at least enough to act given the other self-interested and libertarian reasons to conduct the campaign (an end to the counterproductive and cruel blockade and no-fly zone, an end to Hussein’s weapons programs or aspirations, an end to a longtime US military presence in Saudi Arabia, opportunity to build liberal society in a critical region, etc.). But other war opponents, including some who post here, would have America reduce its risk in other ways, by ending support for liberal regimes abroad, withdrawing from alliances, and so on. Some are pacifists. Some are anarchists or isolationists. I don’t think a hawk could persuade them through the citation of facts about this case.

    As to the issue at hand, the Clinton administration believed there to be operational links between al Qaeda and the Ba’athists. Multiple documents and statements exist to that effect, so this isn’t simply an invention of the Bush cabal. I also believe the role that both Iraq and Iran played, somewhat rivalrously, in funding and army the Ansar al-Islam group in Northern Iraq, an al Qaeda affiliate, has been established about as well as one can. If the threshold here is that Saddam Hussein was pulling OBL’s strings or setting up the 9/11 attacks, then it is unlikely to be satisfied. But if the threshold here is that states that offer some kind of useful assistance to al Qaeda and related anti-American terrorists ? money, training, safe harbor, arms, or intelligence ? are fair game for U.S. military action, then I think Ba’athist Iraq qualified.

  19. “those who haven’t joined us there weren’t really ever on our side in the first place’

    France, Germany, Canada – all have troops in Afghanistan, all are now pissed off at us because of Iraq. If we find proof that a group in Sudan is preparing a megaterror attack, how much credibility do you think we’ll have with those allies?

  20. I’m amazed when the chickenhawks accuse the Left of not having anything “positive” or “offer an alternative” when it comes to the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

    It’s like jumping the country off a cliff, despite being warned not to, and then in midflight asking for an alternative.

    Impeach Bush.

  21. Sorry, didn’t answer Thoreau’s initial question. Yes, I could certainly be persuaded that the transformation of Iraq isn’t working. Frankly, it’s way, way too early to draw conclusions about it one way or the other. The process will necessarily take a long time.

    Most of the arguments against the possibility of birthing a relatively free, relatively constitutional, relatively friendly government in the Islamic Middle East were made in some form about post-war Germany and Japan, about the Latin American banana republics, and about countries with Chinese cultures. I just don’t find them persuasive. I also find them profoundly anti-libertarian.

  22. Josh,

    “Do you have any evidence that their numbers or support from the locals has increased?”

    Well, uh, do you have any evidence that it’s NOT happening???

    I’d call the resurgent insurgency evidence, but seems like you disagree. Anyway, I was arguing with Brian’s logic that “the terrorists” are against us no matter what, evidently oblivious to the entire argument that our actions are inciting greater numbers to join and support them. Some people don’t even want to acknowledge this possibility. As far as whether it’s actually happening, I’ll say that it sure seems like it might be, but beyond that I’ll leave the question to those with greater resources to devote to researching it.

  23. Speaking of carrots for Egypt, Jordan, etc.:
    A mushroom cloud deposited by the US over Bagdhad before midnite eastern time, 911, would have been all the carrots we needed to getting Egypt, etc to handing over Osama to the US on a silver platter.
    It would have shown the US was serious about getting into the carrot business.

  24. John Hood-

    Well, now we get into an area where I’ll need to examine more facts. It could always turn out that the links aren’t strong enough to make a resounding case that’s apparent to all, but they aren’t weak enough to be disregarded, which would make it a dilemma, but at least you pose an argument that can be answered with facts.

    Some on this forum seem to feel that even if there were zero collaboration between Iraq and Al Qaeda the war would still be in our national interest. Their arguments are much less convincing to me.

  25. Tim,
    I think Bush is taken the easy way out here. He attacked an easy target and wants to paint the picture that we are taking the fight to the terrorists. This assumes that all the terrorists dropped what they were doing and headed to Iraq. All in all, a pretty simplistic view of terrorism and its causes.

    As for alternatives, what alternatives have the neocons provided besides war with Iraq. It’s funny that they come up with a grand scheme based on something that has never worked (reverse domino theory) and act like it’s the only way. There are alternatives (I like Thoreau’s) but doing nothing may have been better than this. We may be playing right into Osama’s hands.

  26. Ruthless,

    You are so correct. It was silly for America to stay in Vietnam.

    Keeping the North from killing the 800,000 Southerners they killed post war and the 500,000 they drove into the sea was a really dumb idea. Not our problem.

    So let us do what we did in VN and wash our hands of it. What those people do to any who once aided us is not our business. After all another million or two dead is just a statistic. Stalin says so. I agree. Don’t you?

  27. R.C. Dean,

    “The Iraq war hasn’t split the allies…”

    Actually, it hasn’t split them, I agree; France and other nations opposed to this stupidity in Iraq have continued to put up with the U.S. despite its mistakes. Indeed, you have seen no snickering from the French government about the troubles the U.S. is having in Iraq, despite the fact that we told your government that your pollyannish assessments about a post-war Iraq would be incorrect. Indeed, despite America’s attempt to stab France in the back in the run-up to the war, we have continued to remain allies.

    John Hood,

    “…were made in some form about post-war Germany and Japan, about the Latin American banana republics, and about countries with Chinese cultures.”

    Did Latin American banana republics require hundreds of thousands of occupying soldiers? Or countries with Chinese cultures? Indeed, these countries seem to have suceeded despite American efforts (and the efforts of others) in many instances.

    As to the issue of post-war Germany and Japan, America continues to chart a course in Iraq that is far different than what happened in those countries.

  28. What it would take to convince me the war isn’t working?

    We meet no opposition.

    Opposition is proof the war is working. For now.

    If in three or four years the level of opposition is increasing then I would feel that we ought to try something else.

    Remember Tet was the last gasp of the North and post Tet Giap felt the war was lost until he started reading American papers.

    So too winning in this case will not be determined on the battle field but in the news rooms of America. Which are in effect more powerful than the US Armed Forces because they can turn certain victory already won into defeat.

    BTW all this talk of defeatism encourages our attackers. Way to go defeatists. The more you believe in defeat and voice that defeat the more severe the attacks will become.

    Peace lovers my ass.

  29. throeau:

    It is difficult to tell whether in the long run this was the right decision. The yucky truth is that only history will tell, and it will do so with vastly more information than anyone had at the time of decision. This sort of speculation works equally well for a counter point, too.

    To wit, we go after but don’t find OBL and lose another building and another and another, but we don’t do anything except arrest dead terrorists because we never gather enough evidence of who is funding whom and we have no credible threat of retaliation. How do we know that inaction is the right answer?

    You make choices based on the information you have, and with the information we have, the toppling of Hussein is, to me, an essential element of the establishment of a needed military threat.

    The big mistake I begin to see is disallowing formal UN participation in the post war administering of Iraq, assuming they would agree. My original thought was, “Why hand over civil administration to the most demonstrably inept organization in the world?” Now I begin to see the answer: “They aren’t the US, and image is everything when dealing with religious nutbars.”

  30. The foolish nihilism of Ruthless and others demomstrates how individuals thought before 9-11. “Let’s just let the chips fall where they may”…Well, they fell into New York and Washington. I say, better to try than not try, and if forming a liberal democracry in a hotbed of fascism is the suggestion, I say “Let’s try” before I say “It will never work” (since that seems to be an inherently racist argument anyway)

  31. Yeah, bomb for peace.

    Fuck you.

  32. Ruthless,

    I never realized what a humanitarian you were. The war is a quagmire killing around 10,000 Iraqis and 500 Americans and this is a tragedy.

    Howerver killing 100,000 Iraqis with a nuke would have been a sign of American success?

    I thought Saddam was the mass murderer?

    Well fortunately the pro-war pro-fascist demos are getting smaller all the time.

  33. M. Simon,

    “Keeping the North from killing the 800,000 Southerners they killed post war and the 500,000 they drove into the sea was a really dumb idea.”

    As opposed to the hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese and Cambodian civilians that the ARVN killed during the war (keep in mind that a major reason why the Khmer Rouge were able to get recruits after 1970 was due to the heavy handed, brutal tactics of the ARVN)? Let’s be frank here; no side in that war was especially savory, and painting atrocities in the war or post-war period as if they were exclusively NVA, etc. is not only a-historical, but also disingenuous.

  34. “Indeed, despite America’s attempt to stab France in the back in the run-up to the war, we have continued to remain allies.”

    Er, what? France asked us not to seek a second resolution, but they didn’t and wouldn’t support the action they felt we had justification for anyway. How is our seeking a resolution a stab in the back, when we had no support from them in the first place?

  35. Jason Ligon,

    Actually, the US did have French support; no second resolution, and we will not oppose your efforts. Its fairly obvious that U.S. had a choice here; it chose to screw France, and paint France as if it were some pariah and whip anti-French hysteria in America, in order help another ally domestically. Chirac’s patience and maturity in these matters has been nothing less than amazing.

  36. Jean,

    How right you are.

    The one difficult point for you is that post Tet Giap thought the war was lost.

    Had we kept our nerve many of the 1.3 million I mentioned would be in much better circumstances in their own country. Most of them would still be alive.

    Much to my shame I contributed to the misery and death of the 1.3 million. I do not intend to repeat my mistake.

    If you want America out of Iraq at this point the very best way is to assist the rise of democratic institutions in that country.

    Cutting and running is not an option for me. Been there, done that. Got the stain on my soul to prove it.

    ==========================================

    You might wonder why I called the “peace” demos pro war? Because they give aid and comfort to the fascists and give them hope. Hope is what keeps wars going.

  37. What the U.S. needs to do is get Ahmed Chalabi to talk these insurgents; they will listen to that prancing rooster I am certain. 🙂

  38. JB:

    I’m still confused. France tells us that we think you have justification for military action, but we won’t support you if you seek formal UN support. The rest of the world constantly mutters that you never include the UN in formal decisions.

    Why isn’t this France stabbing us in the back?

    I frankly think the position is absurd. France didn’t want a resolution that required war, but if push came to shove we would have France’s support in a war, so long as there was no UN mandate? What would such support mean? Secret pats on the back?

    Either France was being disingenuous when they indicated their support or they were being disingenuous when suddenly they felt that the previous resolution was insufficient grounds for action.

  39. Jean Bart, even a francophile can see France screwed the United States. It played us, knowing it would it never support a war in Iraq. It was on the take and thought it could stretch out things until we could be distracted some other way. Chirac is worse than Petain. He’ll be remembered, if he is remembered, as someone who schemed as much as he could to protect Fascism.

  40. Jason Ligon,

    “France tells us that we think you have justification for military action, but we won’t support you if you seek formal UN support.”

    France already felt that the U.S. had formal support – in 1441.

    “France didn’t want a resolution that required war…”

    It already felt that this existed.

    “…but if push came to shove we would have France’s support in a war, so long as there was no UN mandate?”

    It was felt that the UN mandate already existed.

    “What would such support mean? Secret pats on the back?”

    Money and troops; perhaps French Marines or elements of the legion; or some our mountain division. You know, people like I used to be.

    “Either France was being disingenuous when they indicated their support or they were being disingenuous when suddenly they felt that the previous resolution was insufficient grounds for action.”

    That’s a false choice; France as not being disingenuous; France was telling the U.S. it was willing to compromise; the U.S. took this and said shove it, and then tried to paint France as it were some unmoveable object on the matter. As I stated earlier, Chirac’s patience and maturity in these matters has been nothing less than amazing.

  41. Henry,

    “Jean Bart, even a francophile can see France screwed the United States.”

    Actually, it was the other way around.

    “It played us, knowing it would it never support a war in Iraq.”

    We said we would not stand in the way of a US action if there was no second resolution; that is very clear language.

  42. I changed my mind on the Iraq war mid-stream and here are my plausible, albeit unsavory, alternatives to the current situation:

    1. Insert an economically liberal, but strongman dictator a la Pinochet or Chung Kai Shek (sp?) to suppress the people but institute economic reform. Give people jobs and security first, then freedom. Remove dictator from power by force or otherwise in 10-20 years. Obviously not very libertarian…but terrorism is fueled by young men with no job, no wife, no hope, etc. Maybe they need a job and economic freedom more than they need political freedom?

    2. Suppress the Shiite uprising by threatening to let Saddam go. Or promise the Sunnis total political control.

    3. Break the County into three separate States.

    4. Start shooting looters and protestors – no one (except Bush) said war was a savory, humanitarian gesture. Bush is fighting this war as Jimmy Carter might have – by trying not to offend anyone we’ve offended everyone.

    5. Get the troops the hell back to Afghanistan and finish that job.

  43. “Start shooting looters and protestors”
    what happened to the right to assemble?

    as long as a protest is peaceful then killing the protesters would just be plain old murder

  44. Nick:

    That is kind of the point – to disregard pollyanish notions of exporting freedom and human rights in a war zone. Last I checked, the Iraqi’s had no “right to assemble,” let alone a constitution. And I meant violent protestors…

  45. Almost everyone here is rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.
    Even as an anarchist, I would have done SOMETHING pre 911 and post 911. That is, if you call undoing doing something.
    Here’s what still needs UNdoing:
    Stop pretending oil still underground needs “protecting.”
    Get our troops out of foreign countries.
    Close all embassies.
    End all foreign “aid.”
    Open our borders.
    Want those ignerunt furriners to experience our ginger-peachy form of government? Remove the barriers to bringing any here who wish to come.
    Romove barriers to ethnic groups helping their people across borders–monetarily and militarily.
    End welfare here in the US so those pesky, immigrant furriners can show the lay-abouts how to earn a living.

    Undo, repeal, remove. A hell of a lot of crud has built up.

  46. I think Jean Bart is arguing that France supported the US war against Saddam until the US spoiled it by, you know, shooting people.

    Jean Bart is having a little fun with the facts in his account. The French and others agreed when Res. 1441 was being negotiated that it was sufficient for war, what with the serious consequences language and all. Then, when Saddam didn’t comply and it looked like GWBush meant what he said about consequences being serious, the French did a 180 and said that resolution wasn’t sufficient, and a further resolution was needed, which France opposed very actively by lobbying their former colonies and others in the UN.

    Those simplisme cowboys in the US see France reversing its position and actively opposing the US as a stab in the back. How pre-postmodern deconstructionist of them, to think that words have meaning, no?

    Basically, the French and their tranzi pals had a tantalizing moment when they thought they were actually going to gain control of the US military via the UN, and have been mightily pissed off ever since GWBush told them otherwise.

  47. JB:

    You seriously believe that we would have gotten French troops if we hadn’t pushed for a second resolution? If France didn’t want the liberty to oppose the action publicly, why did they object to the second resolution? How do you oppose military action publicly and commit troops at the same time?

    It is BECAUSE the US saught UN agreement that it is unilateral?

  48. dlc,
    Actually, the Iriaqi’s do have a constitution. Remember that that ceremony with all the shiny pens.

  49. shining pens.

  50. R.C. Dean,

    You make reference to when Saddam didn’t comply with UN Resolution 1441. Were you not reading newspapers at the time this was happening? Iraq let in inspectors, who were on the ground as Bush annnounced he would go to war. It was the Bush war announcement that caused the inspectors to be withdrawn.

    Bush said we did not have time for the inspectors to complete their work. After we took control of Iraq, our inspectors announced that they could not find anything. If we had given the UN inspectors time, they would have announced the same thing.

    Now Bush asks for patience, when he did not have patience before. And since Iraq has not been found to have weapons or weapons programs in violation of the sanctions, the US invasion has no legal basis. And Americans and Iraqis are dying in a war carried out in violation of our Constitution as well as international law.

    I guess the pro-war writers have a lot to be proud of.

  51. dlc

    Oh,I thought you meant all protesters and not just violent ones

    techinally the Iraqis do have a consitution though but it’s only the “interim constitution” that the the U.S. appointed governing council came up with untill an elected body of Iraqis can draw up one

    I don’t think we can just discard all notions of human rights in Iraq

    heavy handed tactics can only turn more people agaisnt us

  52. Mark:

    Touche – I had forgotten already, what with the absolute splendor of that day fading…

  53. I opposed the war, but cutting and running isn’t going to cut it. If we leave now we look weak in the face of the enemy and we will leave Iraq worse off than before the war. Yes it will be worse than Saddam because the infrastructure will be in shambles and Sadr or some other strongman nut that will be just as vicious as Saddam will show up.

    How do we fix this? We have to get blue helmets on the ground, not because they’re particularly effective, but because of the legitimacy it will give Americans in the area and globally. Legitimacy doesn’t matter to terrorists, but it does matter to the people in the margin, the silent majority. We need to convince them that we’re not trying to be the UK v2.1. There will still be violence, and plenty of it. However, those that help will not be collaborators with the Great Satan, but with the UN.

    The ineffectiveness of the UN is its greatest strength in this case. No one is afraid of the UN ruling a country or becoming an empire (well a few people do). The biggest problem with this problem is that the UN doesn’t have the will the American people do and will be tempted to run after incidents like those of the last few days. We can’t let that happen.

    This is something we need to stick out. We broke it, we bought it.

  54. R.C. Dean,

    “I think Jean Bart is arguing that France supported the US war against Saddam until the US spoiled it by, you know, shooting people.”

    No, not really. But thankyou for the lie.

    Actually, France told the U.S. not to seek a second resolution; and that France would not stand in America’s way as long as it did not seek a second resolution. Sorry, but your historical information is mouldy.

  55. Nick-

    Okay, here’s an alternative for the soft power advocates:

    #6. More porn and fucking. The terrorists and agitators seem really undersexed. Drop pornographic leaflets, export call girls to the slums, allow gay marriages, whatever. (This may have already been suggested in a previous thread)

    #7.Broadcast “Iraqi Idol” and a Janet Jackson tit-bearing USO show to distract the masses.

  56. Jason Ligon,

    “You seriously believe that we would have gotten French troops if we hadn’t pushed for a second resolution?”

    Yes. Indeed, this is the reason why Chirac told French military planners in January 2003 to begin drawing up plans for a post-invasion deployment in Iraq. This order was described to the Bush administration as a means to show “good faith” in the deal that France tried to bargain.

    France offered America a deal; America chose to spit on it and force Chirac’s hand to oppose the second resolution.

  57. Jason Ligon,

    What’s especially ironic is that the US spurned the deal in an effort to help Blair domestically; however, pushing for the second resolution in the end hurt Blair far more than if Bush had merely went ahead with the invasion without working for a second resolution.

  58. Jason Ligon,

    Anyway, it is obvious that we disagree and we should leave it that. Know that despite Bush’s perfidy, I will continue to support the U.S.

  59. Jean Bart-

    Why didn’t France want the second resolution? Yes, I realize that France felt the first was sufficient. The question remains, if France thought the first resolution was sufficient, why did it oppose a resolution that would affirm it?

    Better yet, skip the questions of whether a redundant resolution is a bad thing. Why did France make acquiescence to the war contingent on NOT getting a second resolution? Why would France care? I can think of many issues for Chirac to weigh (e.g. merits or demerits of the war, his political self-interest, France’s national interest, global balance of power, etc. etc.) but a (supposedly) redundant resolution just doesn’t seem all that weighty.

    Anyway, I’d hate to find out that this diplomatic falling out between the US and France was all because Chirac didn’t want duplicate paperwork…

  60. thoreau

    To return to your original, and I hope, sincere question– what could convince me we have gone wrong, here?

    If I could break that down into TWO questions– should we have GONE to Iraq, and toppled Saddam’s regime?
    Should we have REMAINED this long with an agenda of democratic transformation?

    On the first question, it would be difficult to persuade me that we shouldn’t have deposed Saddam ANYTIME between ’91 and now. Apart from WMD and murky al-Qaida ties, a pretty strong case existed for ending Saddam’s regime, simply to rid the world of a monster, the region of a known aggressor, and YES to get the oil flowing again without empowering a madman.

    On the second question I am much more inclined to entertain skepticism…it has been difficult these past two weeks not to succomb altogether to it.

    There WERE, and probably still are, some half-palatable alternatives to trying to transform post-Saddam Iraq directly into a majoritarian democracy. It may be most (nearly all) Arab societies are unprepared for majority rule…and this could be MORE true of Iraq than most, due to it’s roughly balanced confessional and ethnic polarities.

    (I think it is silly to be unprepared to change a position publicly. Libertarians are supposed to be rightly skeptical of public-policy prescience.)

  61. thoreau,

    You would have to understand French domestic situations and other considerations before you understand the position. A second, more specific resolution was not possible for France to support; we could quietly support the first resolution, and ignore American actions in Iraq based on the first resolution.

  62. Andrew,

    “I think it is silly to be unprepared to change a position publicly.”

    Then you must feel very silly.

  63. News from another war:

    PARIS (AP) — A French scuba team has discovered parts of the missing warplane piloted by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, author of “The Little Prince” and one of France’s most beloved writers, an Air Force official said Wednesday.

    “The Little Prince” first appeared just a year before Saint-Exupery’s American supplied Lightning P38J, modified as a reconnaissance plane fitted with cameras instead of guns, disappeared over the Mediterranean in mysterious circumstances.

    He was on a mission over Nazi-occupied southern France preparing for an Allied landing.

  64. Jean Bart –

    What all this about your countrymen in New York ?
    http://newyorker.com/talk/content/?040412ta_talk_schillinger

  65. So…

    Chirac confidentially believed the invasion was a.) OK b.) not TOO bad c.) maybe a good idea…

    and didn’t say so publicly when it would have made a difference, did not direct his own polity to help or at least not hinder, and did HIS part to damage the alliance…

    for “domestic political reasons” which are a little difficult to explain…

    and this is…statesmanship?

  66. Jean Bart,

    I’ve got another question/comment regarding your comments about the US stabbing France in the back:
    France considered the first resolution sufficient, but a lot of people in the US and elsewhere did not. Going to war without going back to the UN first would have alienated other countries (even more than we already did) besides France. So the choice wasn’t just go to war with France’s tacit support vs. show them up in the UN; it was go to war with France’s tacit support vs. go to the UN and try to put a more multilateral face on the whole affair for the benefit of the many people around the world who decry the unilateral use of US force.

  67. Seems to me that Bush made a little too heavy with the swaggering and the threats and the insults, and the French got their backs up, and nobody wanted to lose face. I have trouble seeing France’s position as any more principled than Bush’s.

    Clinton, who had other ways of demonstrating his manhood, would have had them purring like fuzzy kittens with their bellies in the air.

  68. Andrew:

    “a pretty strong case existed for ending Saddam’s regime, simply to rid the world of a monster, the region of a known aggressor”

    There are a lot of monsters and aggressors in the world. It would require a lot of American lives and Gold to go after very many of them.

    Do you think that the case for going after Sadam was so compellingly strong that you have no compunctions about forcing the rest of us to participate as we were required.

    Instead, why not try to prevail upon the government to pressure states with unacceptable conditions that receive our tax dollars toward change…like the brutal Egyptian regime that gets billions of US tax dollars every year,(second only to Israel) where there is no freedom of political expression and rampant human rights abuse.

    Like the Israeli government’s administration of occupied Palestine where widespread deprivation of individual rights and malnutrition go hand in hand for the Palestinian people.

    Like Uzbekistan, where the government of President Islam Karimov has arrested and tortured thousands of nonviolent Muslim dissidents who practiced their faith outside state-controlled mosques. Human Rights Watch (HRW) says that this regime has one of the most deplorable human rights record extant. (a Per capita torture tally far worse than even Sadam) They called on Uzbekistan’s Western allies, of which the United States is the most important, to apply real pressure to improve its human rights performance:

    http://antiwar.com/lobe/?articleid=2216

  69. I will never make peace with the French!

    If the units of measurement in electromagnetism had been standardized by the British we’d be using Heaviside-Lorentz units, the most elegant units available for expressing the equations of electromagnetism. When God wrote down the laws of electromagnetism, I can assure you that He used Heaviside-Lorentz units. If the Germans had been in charge of it we’d use the Gaussian units, still fairly elegant despite some ugly factors of 4pi in the Maxwell equations.

    But no, we got the French units. Ugly factors of epsilon_0 and mu_0 pop-up everywhere. Argh!

  70. Andrew,

    Okay, if I’m reading you right, you weren’t expressing an opposition to setting up an alternative, it’s just that we’re just handling it wrong.

    Funny how it so often works that way.

  71. Regarding the deposing of Saddam, I’d like to quote PJ O’Rourke: “It’s one thing to tear down the shithouse; it’s another thing to install new plumbing.”

  72. JB

    You are not making any sense.

    If France thought the war was a good idea, then it would HAVE to be a good idea with one OR two resolutions…

    …and in fact, a second resolution would simply have shown more resolve in confronting Saddam.

    Over such an inherently important issue, what important “domestic concerns” could take moral priority?

    And all that talk since…the hyper-power…the anti-American axis– all just crap for the French public, so Chirac could stay in office and out of jail?

    What is treacherous about Bush seeling a second resolution, because he didn’t necessarily accept a French interpretation (conjured only by the “needs” of Chirac’s political fortunes) which held that, at worst, such a second resolution was unecessary?

    And why was Chirac to be trusted? He would have had the same incentive to demogogue the issue to his electorate?

  73. Andrew,

    “If France thought the war was a good idea, then it would HAVE to be a good idea with one OR two resolutions…”

    Are you this dense? This has nothing to do with whether Chirac thought it was a good idea; this is France willing to compromise despite the fact that it was a bad idea.

    “And all that talk since…the hyper-power…”

    This was a term invented in the 1990s; Chirac has never uttered to my knowledge, nor has de Villipen.

    “…the anti-American axis…”

    Anti-American axis? Multipolarity is not anti-American; indeed, it is rather pro-American, as it concedes that America would be one pole. This is hyperbole on your part; and ignorance of the terms of the debate.

    “…all just crap for the French public, so Chirac could stay in office and out of jail?”

    Chirac was re-elected long before there was a “showdown” with the U.S.; please, at least get your chronology correct idiot.

  74. Andrew,

    Indeed, multi-polarity is no more anti-American than it is anti-Chinese; as to most, the term includes a world where one of those poles in China. In fact, only an American would think that an idea which doesn’t have the US as the absolute center of everything is anti-American.

  75. JB

    Chirac HAD to be lying to somebody…either he was lying to us, or lying to his electorate (he was also, as I recall, telling Saddam something else entirely)– how can we trust him, if his people can’t? How would it have effected the debate in the French Senate, or the UN, if Chirac’s “compromise” had been common knowledge? Why should his “offer” have been taken seriously, when Schroeder reneged on a similar deal?

    If Chirac had ever intended, in good faith, to permit the US– despite whatever misgivings he claimed to feel– to proceed without a hassle…then why was he afraid to face his own nation, with THAT case, honestly?

    Who was behaving like a scoundrel here? Not Bush. Not Blair.

  76. The UN:

    It has certainly aggressed against other nations,
    and what about the International Criminal Court? Even if losing our sovereignty was only possible via co-operation from our government (such as the treaty process) it would still likely be at the cost of individual liberty.

    Also, I worry about UN mandates being enforced via “executive order”. I don’t want the UN to have any say in out lives at all since their appreciation of individual liberty is rather limited. Didn’t they appoint Khaddafi to head some human rights panel…….(?))

  77. Andrew,

    “Chirac HAD to be lying to somebody…either he was lying to us, or lying to his electorate (he was also, as I recall, telling Saddam something else entirely)– how can we trust him, if his people can’t?”

    Well, first of all, Chirac did not state prior to the call for the second resolution any call against a US invasion of Iraq; so he was lying to no one at the time. Second, regarding his supposed comments to Saddam, that comes from Aziz, whose American questioners even stated was likely saying that just anger them.

    “How would it have effected the debate in the French Senate, or the UN, if Chirac’s ‘compromise’ had been common knowledge?”

    Without a second resolution, there would be no “debate.” Which is of course part of the benefits of not having a second resolution. However, Blair demanded a second resolution for his own “domestic realities”; apparently, France isn’t allowed such realities, and even isn’t allowed to go to America hat in hand with a perfectly acceptable compromise position that ended being the position at the end of the day anyway – no second resolution.

    “If Chirac had ever intended, in good faith, to permit the US — despite whatever misgivings he claimed to feel — to proceed without a hassle…then why was he afraid to face his own nation, with THAT case, honestly?”

    Now you are just making sanctimonious noise (coming from you, Mr. Getting Iraq’s Oil is Our Purpose in Invading Iraq, is rather ironic); Chirac put a compromise on the table; the U.S. rejected it, and then claimed that France was being unreasonable. Bush stabbed France in the back.

  78. US seeks UN approval for action, stabbing allies in back. Is now derided as unilateral.

    US doesn’t seek UN approval for action, is at peace with allies, and … not unilateral?

    Conclusion: it is as I thought, the UN is a just an excuse for everyone else to bitch about the US.

  79. Jason, people will always bitch about those who have power. See Iraq, office gossip, libertarianism. Having a forum like the UN allows the bitching to occur without turning into anything too dangerous.

  80. Andrew,

    Interesting for you to admit that while your support of deposing Saddam remains firm, your support of our subsequent nation building efforts wavers.

    I’ve long had a personal saying that as bad as things are they can always be worse.

    Does it make any sense to depose Saddam in lieu of a reasonable expectation for things to become better as a result? Because as monsterous as Saddam was, there was never any guarantee that deposing him wouldn’t unleash a greater evil. No?

  81. If the UN were only a “forum”, it would be wonderful. In fact, it is a threat to our liberty and US sovereignty.

  82. Shouldn’t Bush apologize to Chirac and Schroeder?
    I’m talking major contriteness here. He was really wrong on the WMD and the Iraq terror connection thing yet he got quite uppity with them when they refused to participate in the killing fields of Iraq.

    If Bush was a straight up guy he might ask Americans to re-extend our hands in friendship to the French and Germans. All that jingoistic anti-French stuff that was going around was really ridiculous. Along with apologies, Bush should send them some nice American gifts. Maybe something high tech and perhaps super bowl tickets…

    Hey; Reason should send Chirac and Schroeder complementary subscriptions. The French and German people might well benefit from having folks in their governments thus informed.

  83. “In fact, [the UN] is a threat to our liberty and US sovereignty.”

    Bwah haw haw haw haw haw haw haw haw. “What are going to do, bleed on me?”

    The UN has never, and cannot, do anything worse to America than say things we don’t like, mainly because in today’s world, it has no more ability to act than a literary club, absent American support.

  84. Andrew,

    France offered the U.S. a compromise; a very good compromise in fact. The Bush administration chose to ignore it; to ignore an oppurtunity not create problems. I cannot forgive their perfidy.

    J,

    The Bush administration chose to betray France by shunning its offer; indeed, it appears likely that protests and the like would have occurred with or without a second resolution; the Bush administration should have foreseen this, and should have taken France’s warning seriously. It opted to “burn” France in order to help out Blair. This despite the fact that a half dozen French Marines had already died in Afghanistan at this point. As I wrote, I find this behavior unforgiveable on Bush’s part – indeed, until this point I had only considered him wrongheaded and arrogant; now I think of him as a scoundrel.

    SM,

    New York is a cosmopolitan city; Frenchmen are by culture cosmopolitan. 🙂

  85. fyodor

    Obviously, deposing Saddam would have required us to supply some alternative. Maybe a sort of “Baath-lite” spun out of the Army, police and the more professional elements of the former intellegence service.

    What would be different?

    a.) The megalomania (along with Saddam, Uday and Qusay).

    b.) The belligerent foreign policy.

    c.) The WMD activities.

    d.) Some sort of deal for the Kurds.

    e.) Brutality and corruption on a MASSIVE scale. Any authoritarian regime would trigger the monitors on the human rights groups, and any society in the mid-east will contain significant corruption…even a democracy.

    But Saddam’s regime was KILLING Iraq.

    At least SOME kind a message about minimal decency would be reaching the region.

    The most touching image I saw this year, was the first day the Baghdad cops were going back to work– they got a corn-ball speech about a “new day”…and they were weeping. These were the same (probably Sunni) cops from a month ago…but for a moment, they believed it.

    Maybe the prospects for a genuine democracy are not yet dead. But we have squandered much of this year…not because we were acting like “cowboys” but by acting like dip-shit Quakers.

  86. Joe, would you like to see it have the power to be a threat to the US?

  87. I’m going to have to answer with one of those Shinto “neither yes nor no” things. The only way for the UN to achieve that level of power would be for the US to take a more active role in leading and empowering it which, by definition, would preclude it from being a threat to us.

  88. What other nations are you referring to? North Korea in the 50s?

  89. Katanga(sp?) in Africa. Serbia. There have been others.

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