Steaming Douglas

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Before an audience at a British soccer clubhouse in Blackburn, England, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who has apparently learned that the best attack involves self-immolation, had this to say about the U.S. war in Iraq, according to the Washington Post:

But in response to a question about whether the administration had learned from its mistakes over the past three years, she said officials would be "brain-dead" if they did not recognize where they had erred. "I know we've made tactical errors, thousands of them I'm sure," Rice said. "But when you look back in history, what will be judged is, did you make the right strategic decisions."

Unfortunately, Rice is wrong. History has little patience for "right strategic decisions" if they later prove to be unsuccessful. That's a shame, because getting rid of Saddam was nothing if not "right." But perhaps the most galling aspect of Rice's partial mea culpa is that she allowed that avatar of British old-school realist pomposity, Douglas Hurd, to brush off the mildew and utter a phrase of such smug duplicity, that one is tempted to reach for whatever Mappin & Webb implement is sharp.

"It is quite possible to believe" that democracy is essential, Hurd said to the crowd after [Rice] spoke, but also to "believe that essentially the path must grow from the roots of its own society and that the killing of thousands of people, many of them innocent, is unacceptable whether committed by a domestic tyrant or for a good cause upon being invaded."

Indeed, mass murder is unacceptable committed by anyone. However, if Hurd cannot distinguish between the actions of Saddam Hussein, whose Baath regime was responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths through the conscious implementation of plans of extermination, for example the successive Anfal campaigns against the Kurds in 1988, or the savage repression of Iraq's Shiites and Kurds after the 1991 Gulf War; if he cannot distinguish between all this, and far more, and what the Americans are doing today in Iraq, then he really is living proof that life peerage is a repository for cretins.

But Baron Hurd is no cretin, or is one only figuratively. This was, of course, the man who refused to arm the Bosnian Muslims during the war in Bosnia during the 1990s, effectively perpetuating Serb military superiority; the man who peddled NatWest's wares to Slobodan Milosevic when he became deputy chairman of the bank after his retirement from government. In other words, Hurd is precisely the kind of foreign official those like Saddam and Slobo could rely upon to defend the status quo allowing them to escape accountability for their crimes. Thanks Condi, for giving the old fart a platform.

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  1. Whether an Iraqi was killed by Saddam (evil) or UN sanccions/Coalition of the willing (“good”) it doesn’t make them any less dead. Being dead probably has a direct effect on their ability to enjoy the liberty and democracy that now flourishes in Iraq.

  2. and speaking of drones

    Did anybody else see Sec’y Rice on the BBC News this morning? Good gravy- what a lot of mind-numbing, nonsensical rambling. Does she write this stuff herself, or does the State Dept have a random- phrase generator bot?

    Sorry- we return you now to your regularly scheduled…

    Comment by: P Brooks at March 31, 2006 10:39 AM

  3. However, if Hurd cannot distinguish between the actions of Saddam Hussein … and what the Americans are doing today in Iraq

    Except that nothing in Hurd’s statement even hints at such an equivalency. As despicable as Saddam was, it bullshit to say that “getting rid of Saddam was nothing if not “right” if what replaces him isn’t any better. While that’s a pretty low hurtle to clear, I’m nowhere near convinced it has been. Screw you Michael, I’m with Hurd.

  4. Mabe you ought to start with somebody else to screw, Warren, if you must do do.

    Could you explain how the quote “whether committed by a domestic tyrant or for a good cause upon being invaded.” is not a direcly equating the two?

  5. Could you explain how the quote “whether committed by a domestic tyrant or for a good cause upon being invaded.” is not a direcly equating the two?

    It’s clearly not equating them.

    Take the phrase: “Cheating on a test in High School is wrong whether committed by a thug who will drop out of school, or by a straight-A student on his way to college.” It doesn’t equate the thug with the college-bound student. It equates the cheating.

    Hurd equates killing, not the clearly different motivations of the killers.

  6. …if he cannot distinguish between all this, and far more, and what the Americans are doing today in Iraq, then he really is living proof that life peerage is a repository for cretins.

    One of the central questions is wheter we, the US, removed Saddam because of the murderous intentions of his regime, or because he was anti-American?

    Or, would we accept an Iraq government that was as bloodthirsty, or possibly more so, than Saddam, as long as it was US friendly?

    If the answers are: 1. Only because he was anti-American and 2. Yes, anything is permitted to a US ally.

    Than there is little difference between the deaths from Saddam and the US invasion.

    I believe that the only reason Saddam was ousted was becasue his killing was not in the service of the US. It is well documented that members of this administration (back when they worked for previous administrations) had no problems with Saddam’s murderous intentions as long as they thought he was potentially US friendly.

    And we will not object if an equally murderous regime takes over Iraq, as long as it is an Ally, and not an Enemy.

  7. And we will not object if an equally murderous regime takes over Iraq, as long as it is an Ally, and not an Enemy.

    Certainly, this was the policy throughout the Cold War. Hell, we supported terrorists and mass-murderers (as bad or worse than Hussein) as long as they were anti-communist. Funny that most of the folks who support the current administration’s policies also think we fought the Cold War in a reasonable way.

  8. “Than there is little difference between the deaths from Saddam and the US invasion”

    WTF????

    The Documental Centre for Human Rights in Iraq has compiled documentation on over 600,000 civilian executions in Iraq. Human Rights Watch reports that in one operation alone, the Anfal, Saddam killed 100,000 Kurdish Iraqis. Another 500,000 are estimated to have died in Saddam’s needless war with Iran. Coldly taken as a daily average for the 24 years of Saddam’s reign, these numbers give us a horrifying picture of between 70 and 125 civilian deaths per day for every one of Saddam’s 8,000-odd days in power”

    Even the moonbat site Iraqi body count estimates the civilian deaths from the Iraq war to be about 38,000. Even if you pin everyone one of those on the U.S. occupation, the invasion still stopped and incredible orgy of killing.

    It is amazing you people continue to believe in the “Iraq is worse now than it was before” myth.

  9. It is amazing you people continue to believe in the “Iraq is worse now than it was before” myth.

    Who are you talking to? Who here has said it’s worse now than it was before?

  10. Ah, Warren said he doesn’t think it’s better now. But he didn’t say it’s worse.

    And I’m sure we can agree it is much, much worse (in terms of daily violence, not to mention the price tag for American taxpayers) than advocates of the war were predicting just before and just after the invasion.

  11. Sorry to state the obvious, at least to many:

    Hurd equates killing, not the clearly different motivations of the killers

    That is precisely the point.
    A man of his stature should be capable of nuanced thinking. His knee-jerk hand wringing about killing, divorced from circumstances, is just emboldening the thugs, terrorists and tyrants.
    He can’t even bring himself to unequivocally support the very system that gives him the opportunity to think and speak freely. Rather he utters “It is quite possible to believe” that democracy is essential. As if democracy and Saddam’s system are based on one and the same philosophy.
    Our adversaries don’t care about any laws, they make them up as needed, they don’t care about public opinion, they suppress it.
    Democracies, such as the US, don’t work that way.
    Hurd’s kind of thinking, furthered by the media where they can publish in freedom, goes back to Vietnam. As if the foundations, intentions and methods of the US and it’s allies were the equal to those of the Vietcong or Saddam or the Islamists, to name a few.
    That both Vietnam and now Iraq could have been conducted differently once undertaken or perhaps should not have been undertaken at all, is a different debate. As it is, these conflicts helped shift responsibility for killing away from the system that should bear it.
    Especially many Europeans have the cheek to think like Mr. Hurd. They weren’t even capable to take action in the Balkans, because they were so busy demonstrating for peace.Unfortunately prominent voices in the US are not far behind, witness their reaction to death threats to their own freedoms, killing, and embassy burning.

  12. Whether an Iraqi was killed by Saddam (evil) or UN sanccions/Coalition of the willing (“good”) it doesn’t make them any less dead.

    True enough dead is dead…but should America stop fighting when the enemey chooses to hide among civilians and only fight those tyrants who stupidly decide to fight in the open? Or perhaps the US should not support an army that is capable of demolishing any enemey that fights by convential means in the hopes that it would prevent gurilla warfare?

  13. I often see Young using this technique to blunt the impact of a story that’s going against his political interest.

    When reporting something bad, give equal or greater time to “reporting” something idiotic someone said about that bad thing.

    In this case, he’s done a particularly good job “hey, look over there!” reporting, because the argument about whether Saddam was worse than the Good Old U S of A (isolated from any discussion of policy choices and outcomes) is one that’s likely to generate lots of comments and effectively divert the discussion from Rice’s remarks and the arguments that surround them. It also has the benefit, when stated that way, of being stacked in his favor.

    Trying to tempt a stronger enemy into following you to ground of your choosing it good soldiering. It’s not terribly good journalism, though.

  14. …but should America stop fighting when the enemy chooses to hide among civilians and only fight those tyrants who stupidly decide to fight in the open?

    I think we should fight our enemies in foreign lands as if the lives of foreign civilians were as intrinsically valuable as the lives of American civilians. When violent, even murderous, felons take hostages or hide with their families, we don’t bomb the dwellings they’re hiding in.

    I’m actually pleased with the progress the U.S. has made in the decrease of civilian casualties over the decades and, hopefully, that progress will continue until the value of a civilian’s life isn’t determined by his/her nationality.

  15. John loves those figures, because he gets to average the body count from the really bloody days of Saddam’s reign of terror (when we were giving him a free hand to slaughter whomever he wanted, such as throughout the Reagan presidency and in the immediate aftermath of the Gulf War)with the pre-Operation Iraqi Freedom period, when he was being kept in a box under Clinton and, for a time, Shrub. Obviously, Iraq in the 80s, when Saddam was invading Iran and had free reign internally, was quite a bit bloodier than it was in the decade prior to our most recent invasion.

    John, would you care to supply some figures specific for 2000, 2001, and 2002? And compare them to the daily body count in 2005-6? I don’t imagine you would.

  16. Michael Young,

    Hurd’s position (with regard to Iraq) is defensible from a rule utilitarian standpoint.

    That’s a shame, because getting rid of Saddam was nothing if not “right.”

    Many times the “right” thing to do is the worse thing to do.

    joe,

    For once you and I agree.

  17. Oh really Joe. First, I guess that we should just look at the body count of 1945 for the Nazis. All that killing before then was just so in the past. As a supporter of the war, I may have the blood of the people killed since the invasion on my hands, but you as a strong supporter and enabler of Saddam have the blood of the peopel he killed on your hands.

    What is your arguement here Joe? That Saddam had turned into a nice guy in 2001? That all of the sudden his sons stopped raping woman and feeding people through woodcutters?

    The fact is that you and people like you did everything that you possibly could to keep Saddam in power. Is that what you signed up for when you became a liberal? To be an enabler and defender of evil?

  18. Les,

    Talk to Joe, Jennifer and Hak for a start. I have been defending the war on here since I have forgotten when and their opinion has always been that Iraq is much worse off today than it was under Saddam and that the war is immoral for diposing of him. They are certainly not alone in that opinion.

  19. John,

    Actually, it could be equal, it could be worse, or it could be better. That’s only part of the equation involved in a rule utilitarian analysis.

    As to the issue of the “morality” of the war, its not something I am concerned with.

    My suggestion is that you get my positions straight before you start to compare me to joe and Jennifer. After all, I am the one who argues amongst the three of us that we should stay in Iraq.

  20. “First, I guess that we should just look at the body count of 1945 for the Nazis. All that killing before then was just so in the past.”

    Um, the Nazis killed quite a few people in 1945, John. Liquidating work camps, the Ardennes offensive…surely, you’ve heard of these things.

    But please, explain to me how I bear responsibility for the people Saddam Hussein killed in, say, 1987.

    “What is your arguement here Joe? That Saddam had turned into a nice guy in 2001?”

    My argument is a refutation of your assertion that the invasion of Iraq has reduced the rate of violent death there. As a matter of fact, it hasn’t – the figures you provide to try to support that claim fail to do so, because they rely on an average that lumps together to highly distinct periods.

    The box Saddam was stuck in prior to the invasion – now THAT reduced the rate of violent death in Iraq. BTW, I don’t think anybody else had even the slightest difficulty understand what my argument was. Normally, I’d accuse someone who asked such a quesiton of playing dumb, but I’m actually going to give you the benefit of the doubt, because I’ve seen you try to think before.

  21. “you as a strong supporter and enabler of Saddam”

    “you as a strong supporter and enabler of Saddam”

    “you as a strong supporter and enabler of Saddam”

    “you as a strong supporter and enabler of Saddam”

    “you as a strong supporter and enabler of Saddam”

    Just wanted to make sure everyone had a chance to see that and know that there is no piece of shit so smelly that John won’t jump at the chance to bite it.

  22. I can remember when hawks would respond to observations of what Iraq is going through by confidently asserting that things were going to get better. Freedom is messy, you know. But the light at the end of the tunnel is just around the last-gasping corner, and then Iraq will be like a warm Minnesota, and this will all have been worth it. Oh, and the rest of the Middle East will become Minnestota, too, if we just Stay the Course. This was 2004-early 2005ish.

    Now, with the situation clearly worse than it was then, this argument has been largely replaced by assertions odes to how good things are in Iraq right now, and John-esque efforts to set Saddam 1984 as the bar we have to clear to claim success.

    Sad.

  23. This reminds me of Bertrand Russell’s commento on World War I, sold as a war to make the world safe for democracy.

    “To believe that it was a success means to believe that Hitler was an improvement over Wilhelm II and Stalin and improvement over Nicholas II” (I quote from memory)

    After World War I there was a flourishing of new democracies in Europe. Ten years later, it was a hotbed of fascism..

    Like it or not, Hurd had it right. Democracy without a long indigenous growth on which to buil will not last. Hurd was not the first to point that out. Without that indigenous basis, all democracies are, in the words of Norman L. Stamps “premature experiments” bound to wither in the vine.

  24. To follow up Adriana, how likely would it have been that the various regional and political factions involved in the drafting of the Constitution would have succeeded, if they had not spent so many years as brothers in arms, strugging together for democracy?

    Nobody in Iraq “owns” the democratic experiment, and adherence to that experiment certainly doesn’t serve to unite the different populations.

  25. Adriana,

    France entered WWI because it was invaded by Germany. Britain took on the task after some debate so as to keep its duty re: Belgium. Russia entered the war because Germany declared war on Russia. Belgium entered the war after it first rejected a demand for free passage by the German army and then was invaded by Germany. Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia. The United States entered the war after Germany started its unrestricted submarine campaign.

    In these sequence of events only three parties had any real choice in their decisions about the start of the war – Britain, Austria-Hungary and Germany. All the other major parties involved in its start were forced into the war by nations bent on attacking them.

    Anyway, Bertrand Russell simply never understood that Germany was bent on war whether it was in 1914 or at some later time. The sources we have from the German military and the Kaiser indicate a deep paranoia about the rise of Russia as an industrial state and desire to destroy Russia before that happened. Given this attitude by the German leaders (who did not consult their populace on these matters) one has to ask not whether WWI was worth fighting, but whether it could be avoided? And if it could not be, whether a peace could be created so as to kill off any future revaunchest attitudes. Of course, even the latter might not have been possible, since it was not Versailles that upset Germans so much as merely the fact that they had lost the war in the first place. They could not believe that they had lost it fair and square in part because German propaganda had deceived them so much that they lived in an unreality about their situation from early on the in the war.

  26. Adriana,

    Of course, the fact that the Germans created large slave armies out of captured Belgian, French, etc. civilians, had in mind annexing Belgium and most of northern France, etc. is also indicative of where the Germans were going in WWI.

  27. Talk to Joe, Jennifer and Hak for a start.

    Ah, see I was confused because you said “you people” and none of them had posted yet.

    you as a strong supporter and enabler of Saddam…

    Now, John, seriously, you have to admit this was written in a moment of frustration and take it back, so that people here can take you seriously.

    The only Americans who “supported” and “enabled” Hussein were the cold warriors in the Carter and Reagan administrations, the latter of which are some of the most vocal supporters of invading Iraq because, among other reasons of course, Hussein had “gassed his own people.” These hypocrites always neglect to mention that when Hussein was committing atrocities like that, they continued to support him.

  28. joe said, The box Saddam was stuck in prior to the invasion – now THAT reduced the rate of violent death in Iraq.

    But at the same time, the Oil-For-Food sanctions were killing people via starvation in the boonies of Iraq in the 10s of thousands per year, which was a one of the many grievances against the US in the region.
    I still think that the matter of the containment of Iraq before the war was thouroughly untenable:

    We were in a state of limited war against Iraq enforcing the no fly zones, the issue of WMD’s could never be truly answered until Saddam was overthrown or he had a change of heart similar to Quaddafi, we had to sustain the highly unpopular sanctions against Iraq which caused 1000’s of deaths and strenghened Saddam’s regime and thouroughly corrupted the UN in the process, not to mention France, Russia, and many other nations had vested interests in scrapping the sanctions and so their support fell from year to year, AND our bases in Saudi Arabia as a support against Saddamite aggresion was one of several reason Osama bin Laden was fighting the USA.

    I think reasonable people can argue that it still wasn’t worth what the invasion, or that it just made the region/our influence there worse, but for many, like me, the situation of containment was a piss-poor stance against Iraq that was pretty much guaranteed to fall apart, thus gaining Saddam respect as the MAN WHO STOOD UP TO AMERICA and Osama would still use our infidel troops in Saudi Arabia as crime against Islam. And also, the UN Oil-for-Food scandel would probably still be under wraps since most of the incriminating evidence was gained after the invasion, which is really bad for an international organization that proclaims to help lead the world.

  29. The problem is that folks feel that to go to war or to avoid it were “perfect” solutions. That’s pretty evident in Young’s language for example.

  30. Frank makes some excellent points. It’s just a shame that the invasion was handled as competently as the containment.

  31. OK,

    I’ve got something to get off my chest.

    I staged a Baathist rally in 1983, when I was nine.

    It was wrong. But in my own defense 1) it was the middle of the Iran/Iraq War and 2) the Iron Sheik had recently put the big smackdown on Bob Backlund, who represented all that was fine and good about America.

    That’s why I grew out a peach fuzz musthache and walked around in a beret when I was 14, and that’s why I opposed the Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq in 2003.

    Cuz I’m just a big ol’ Saddam-lovin’ Baathist.

    Tikriti Posse 4-eva!

  32. Anyway, somewhat relevant quote of the day: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/03/31/AR2006033101585.html

    We had consensus [on Afghanistan]. Both sides of the aisle in Congress and the entire nation agreed that al-Qaeda had to be kept from continuing its attacks.

    Sadly . . . we have squandered our opportunity to face terrorism with unified and coherent action. The right’s neocons orchestrated a war with Iraq that has destroyed national consensus and they are culpable for politicizing the individual soldier by repeatedly sending the message that to criticize policy equates attacking the soldier. . . .

    — Geoffrey Lambert, Maj-Gen. Ret., US Army, Commander, Army Special Forces Command (Airborne), 2001 to 2003.

  33. OK,

    I’ve got something to get off my chest.

    I staged a Baathist rally in 1983, when I was nine.

    It was wrong. But in my own defense 1) it was the middle of the Iran/Iraq War and 2) the Iron Sheik had recently put the big smackdown on Bob Backlund, who represented all that was fine and good about America.

    That’s why I grew out a peach fuzz musthache and walked around in a beret when I was 14, and that’s why I opposed the Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq in 2003.

    Cuz I’m just a big ol’ Saddam-lovin’ Baathist.

    Tikriti Posse 4-eva!
    lol!
    West or East Side Tikrit?

  34. The fact is that you and people like you did everything that you possibly could to keep Saddam in power.

    See, I thought that some people wanted to keep Saddam contained, weakened, and humiliated while the autonomous Kurdish region developed its own democratic model, and further increase the embarassment and demonstrated weakness by conducting inspections to show everybody that there were no WMD. And hope that this combination of factors might destabilize the

    You may disagree with whether that strategy was worthwhile or working, but please don’t confuse it with a desire to keep a dictator in power. There is a very, very, very big difference. Disagree over policy all you want, but if you want to call joe a Baathist sympathizer then I’m going to throw out my own ad hominem:

    You just wanted to go to the Middle East and kill some Arabs to lash out after 9/11, and show the world how big America’s dick is. You don’t give a crap about democracy, you just use that as window dressing for your desire to go kill some Arabs for revenge.

    How’s that ad hominem? Totally uncalled for, and presumably untrue.

    Just like what you said about joe.

  35. My first paragraph in the previous post should end with:

    “…Saddam Hussein’s regime and result in home-grown change.”

  36. OK,

    I’ve got something to get off my chest.

    I staged a Baathist rally in 1983, when I was nine.

    It was wrong. But in my own defense 1) it was the middle of the Iran/Iraq War and 2) the Iron Sheik had recently put the big smackdown on Bob Backlund, who represented all that was fine and good about America.

    That’s why I grew out a peach fuzz musthache and walked around in a beret when I was 14, and that’s why I opposed the Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq in 2003.

    Cuz I’m just a big ol’ Saddam-lovin’ Baathist.

    Tikriti Posse 4-eva!
    lol!
    West or East Side Tikrit?

  37. Feh! Took off my italics tags πŸ™
    Anyway, I thought that was a pretty good parody joe…

  38. Gahh!
    Freakin’ double-post 😑

    thoreau,
    See, I thought that some people wanted to keep Saddam contained, weakened, and humiliated while the autonomous Kurdish region developed its own democratic model, and further increase the embarassment and demonstrated weakness by conducting inspections to show everybody that there were no WMD. And hope that this combination of factors might destabilize the Saddam Hussein’s regime and result in home-grown change…

    There was still the problem that even thought the no-fly zone was in effect, we did do nothing if Saddam sent tanks/armor into Kurdistan forcing the Kurds back to hide in the mountains without getting too much trouble internationally because the region likes to see the Kurds smacked around.

    Also, my impression from the whole Hans Blix inspection quagmire was that it did strengthen his hand by making the the international body of the UN look like a tool when trying to deal with Saddam because he would only let them inspect at his whim.
    Things did get better eventually for Blix, but only after we massed large numbers of troops in the region and made our intentions of invasion known, which considering how much $$$ it would take to just only hold troops against Saddamite intransigence was unrealistic.

  39. There was still the problem that even thought the no-fly zone was in effect, we did do nothing if Saddam sent tanks/armor into Kurdistan forcing the Kurds back to hide in the mountains without getting too much trouble internationally because the region likes to see the Kurds smacked around.
    Meant to further add that Saddam could then trash the cities more-or-less at will.

    Michael Totten (http://www.michaeltotten.com/) has some really good commentary about his travels in Kurdistan and about how their development occured really after the invasion, and how now it’s economy is the envy inside Iraq.
    Of course, this will only hold if (God forbid) the PUK and KDP don’t have another pointless civil war like they did in the 90’s or if they try to get autonomy from Iraq without any international, causing Turkey to come in and bash them…

  40. Frank A, you are a filthy East Side Tikriti, aren’t you?

    I curse you. I curse you. P-tah! I spit on you. What? West Side?

    (Suspiciously) What street?

  41. Frank A,

    You are right, the sanctions regime was never more than an ad hoc solution to the problem. It was never comprehensive, and it was getting worse. The inspectors hadn’t been in since 1998. The situation called for something.

    And then George Bush decided he was going to use the leverage we gained on 9/11 to address the Iraq problem. He got a UN resolution, he got the inspectors back in, and they were on their way to definitively proving that the WMD programs were kaput, while Saddam took a humiliating drubbing before the world and his own people, and we gained a freer hand to act in Iraq. You are also right that the inspections required the credible threat of force to back them up – but that’s a threat the nation that just overthrew the Taliban could have made, credibly. But no, Bush was determined to have his war, and he was just so certain it was going to go spendidly and, boy, wouldn’t the liberrals and the French and the UN look like a bunch of idiots then! There was such an opportunity here, and it was squandered by hurbris.

    Which was entirely predictable. We had every reason to know how delusional, incompetent, ideologically blinded, and willing to drive off a cliff the people behind this war were. Blaming the execution is no excuse for signing onto this catastrophe. We knew who the executives were.

  42. Frank-

    My only interest in this thread is refuting the notion that anti-war folks are pro-Baathist. Which means that the main person I want to argue with is John.

    The merits or demerits of the war are a subject that we will probably always debate. But I will not stand for what John said. There is a big difference between advocating a questionable policy and being a Baathist sympathizer. John needs to get that straight if he wants to be able to discuss this in polite company.

  43. It should be noted that the President is still spreading falsehoods about the run-up to the invasion. At his recent press conference, he said,

    “And when he chose to deny inspectors, when he chose not to disclose, then I had the difficult decision to make to remove him.”

    He has repeated this falsehood (“he chose to deny the inspectors”) on other occasions. And according to the meeting he had in January of ’03, his mind was made up to wage war, regardless of what Hussein did, even if it meant painting U.S. planes to look like UN planes in the hopes Hussein would shoot them down. I don’t know if he’s deliberately lying or if he’s actually convinced himself of it. Either way, I think the man is unfit to hold the office.

    Then again, who was the last President who wasn’t? Ike? Jefferson? Any history buffs want to help me out here?

  44. …if he cannot distinguish between all this, and far more, and what the Americans are doing today in Iraq, then he really is living proof that life peerage is a repository for cretins.

    One of the central questions is wheter we, the US, removed Saddam because of the murderous intentions of his regime, or because he was anti-American?

    Or, would we accept an Iraq government that was as bloodthirsty, or possibly more so, than Saddam, as long as it was US friendly?

    If the answers are: 1. Only because he was anti-American and 2. Yes, anything is permitted to a US ally.

    Than there is little difference between the deaths from Saddam and the US invasion.

    I believe that the only reason Saddam was ousted was becasue his killing was not in the service of the US. It is well documented that members of this administration (back when they worked for previous administrations) had no problems with Saddam’s murderous intentions as long as they thought he was potentially US friendly.

    And we will not object if an equally murderous regime takes over Iraq, as long as it is an Ally, and not an Enemy.

    Comment by: Johnny at April 1, 2006 01:44 PM

    Johnny, your whole commentary is juvenile, and that last remark is an amusingly facile analysis of what we’ve been doing over the last several years in Iraq. If we wanted a dictator for Iraq, then we could’ve installed Chalabi first before fooling aorund with all this provisional government stuff.
    Not to mention how, if Saddam was such a harmless, anti-American dictator why did he shelter Abdul Rahman Yasin, one of the bomb makers of the 1993 WTC bombing, or try to assasinate Bush I. The whole Axis of Evil, while are anti-American, are also very dngerous countries that have power-mad, revolutionary regimes that threaten regional stability via extortion (North Korean nukes/artillery aimed at Seoul) or terrorism (Iraq/Iran funding “martyr” ops in Isreal, Iran w/ Hezbolla, and Iraq w/Abu Nidal and others). I’m sure next you’ll be telling us how our gas at $3/gal is a part of that dreaded neo-con plot…

    Furthermore, have you studied any foreign policy, or considered that EVERYDAY we make any treaty, negotiation, or talk friendly with an authoritarian ruler of country X we legitimize their reign and ipso facto their uses of power. Not only that, if we decided to not deal with any “bad” country, we would be thouroughly alone since every other country in the world would recognizes and works with authoritarians. The whole UN is built around that basis that a democratic country should get as much representation as an authoritarian one. We may try to “nudge” a dictatorship towards liberlization, but when the shit hits the fan the govt will usually opt for stability over progress.

    If you think being and intellegent, then congrats, you have a teenager’s level of understanding how the world works…

  45. Frank, while I generally agree with you regarding the nuances of modern U.S. foreign policy, I think the policies of the cold war, and the attitudes of those who constructed/supported those policies, make it easy to be as cynical as Johnny. For the better part of the last century, the U.S. didn’t just deal with dictators or talk with them or nudge them. The U.S. explicitly helped them suppress their dissidents, and in some cases, helped them kill tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of innocent civilians. While our military today struggles to decrease civilian casualties, in the 70’s, the U.S. had a covert civilian assassination program in Southeast Asia (Operation Phoenix).

    With a track record like that, and with so few willing to acknowledge these damning and documented facts, who can blame a fella for being cynical?

  46. thoreau,
    I know you, and I know you are not even remotely what John is claiming. He’s spewing shit.
    I am not even trying to link you or joe to being a Baathist sympathizer or abetter because I do believe that the both of you have made pertinant and intellegent commentary on the demerits of the war. You both may be limp-wristed libruls, but nothing more πŸ˜‰

    joe,


    And then George Bush decided he was going to use the leverage we gained on 9/11 to address the Iraq problem. He got a UN resolution, he got the inspectors back in, and they were on their way to definitively proving that the WMD programs were kaput, while Saddam took a humiliating drubbing before the world and his own people, and we gained a freer hand to act in Iraq. You are also right that the inspections required the credible threat of force to back them up – but that’s a threat the nation that just overthrew the Taliban could have made, credibly. But no, Bush was determined to have his war, and he was just so certain it was going to go spendidly and, boy, wouldn’t the liberrals and the French and the UN look like a bunch of idiots then! There was such an opportunity here, and it was squandered by hurbris.

    That really is the crux of the problem of invasion, on whether or not the inspections were really working and could take out Saddam.
    I’m sorry, but I cannot trust an organization whose Human Rights Council has Cuba, or whose WMD Disarmanent Branch was to be headed by IRAQ!, or who could not uphold their own resolutions time after time again. And all this was known before it was revealed that Kofi Anon’s own son was implicated in the Oil-For-Food scandel and the whole buisness of UN soldiers/faculty involved in child sex trading! It’s credibility, IMAO, is in the minus 100’s on anything it says…
    Hans Blix was correct, there were no WMD’s, but all the shit that surrounds and insulates the UN makes me distrust ANYTHING it does, so at the time and even now I still believe that certainty of WMDs in Iraq could be found only by invasion.

    As for the threat of the US making because of Afghanistan, Saddam had provoked us over a number of years, he had violated the UN Resolutions time after time, he had many international friends who backed him up in case of US sabre-rattling.
    And for Bush being a needless war-monger, he had credible reason for fearing Iraq after everything it had done over the years, not to mention how it was offical US policy to liberate Iraq (which could include invasion).

  47. Hayklut:

    The misdeeds of the Germans have little to do with the argument which has to do with the fragility of newborn democracies. How many countries have tried to govern themselves democratically? How many have succeeded? Democracies have a high infant mortality rate. That is a fact of life.

    And like it or not, Hitler was **not** an improvement over Wilhelm II.

  48. Adriana, Shigeru Yoshida was certainly an improvement over Fumimaro Konoe.

  49. joe,

    I need to admit, that as a war supporter that Bush fumbled the occupation and BADLY. Too many Iraqis died and are still dying because we could not pacify the country, in spite of what were forseeable problems. The problems of occupation were more than the US was willing to admit, and so

    However, as for catastrophe, it’s not there…yet. IMAO, that will officially occur when full-civil war happens or Iraq is invaded by another country because of its stability.

    It is in shambles, but mainly because of Gulf War I and over 10 years of sanctions. But it’s economy is growing, and fast (including the prosperous Kurdistan which has a growing middle class!).
    It’s politically dysfunctional and the militias could destroy everything we have done. Nevertheless, the Shiites still more-or-less stay their hands from going full-blown civil war, and after a bombing of one of the sanctuaries. And so far,
    It’s millitary and police are crawling with militia operatives, and yet Sunnis are still joining up in droves and the Iraqi millitary are becoming more and more effective day-by-day.

    (Sigh) We are in this for the long haul, so best to at least try to support the better sides of what we have, in spite of W’s failures, though I can’t really get angry at anyone anymore for wanting to pull out since I do wish we could do that sometimes…

  50. Frank, while I generally agree with you regarding the nuances of modern U.S. foreign policy, I think the policies of the cold war, and the attitudes of those who constructed/supported those policies, make it easy to be as cynical as Johnny. For the better part of the last century, the U.S. didn’t just deal with dictators or talk with them or nudge them. The U.S. explicitly helped them suppress their dissidents, and in some cases, helped them kill tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of innocent civilians. While our military today struggles to decrease civilian casualties, in the 70’s, the U.S. had a covert civilian assassination program in Southeast Asia (Operation Phoenix).

    With a track record like that, and with so few willing to acknowledge these damning and documented facts, who can blame a fella for being cynical?

    Comment by: Les at April 1, 2006 10:16 PM

    Is it easy, yes. But it is also easy to be lazy and to be ignorant too.
    Look, people who just spout the usual Noam Chomsky line about our foreign policy is just destroying people who don’t accept our total Weltenstchung is very superficial and ignores any attempts the USA has done for good in the world. Not to mention how our policies that screw over other countries is the same sins almost every nation.
    I will also postulate (or at least until I evidence to the contrary) that every nation that is active in foreign affairs or has any international standing has supported some VERY bad people at one time or another. I mean, in WWII, the “good” war no less, we were bestest of friends with that fiend, Josef Stalin, and we had no compuction to turn Dresden or Tokyo into raging infernos.

    Furthermore, most “good” countries rely on the bad deeds we do to protect the free world because “good countries” are frankly spinless, weak, or are parasites on our army’s reach.
    Kosovo is probably the best example because of our doing he dirty work of the “moral” European community since we killed many Serbian civilians in our wake and we supported the KLA, which had a pretty tainted record.

    So, yes it is easy to be permanently cynical, but only if you are myopic and apathetic to attempting to try to correct US abuses.

  51. And so far, its millitary and police are crawling with militia operatives, and yet Sunnis are still joining up in droves

    Let’s be careful how much good news we assume there. What if the Sunnis just want to get a piece of that action?

  52. Look, people who just spout the usual Noam Chomsky line about our foreign policy is just destroying people who don’t accept our total Weltenstchung is very superficial and ignores any attempts the USA has done for good in the world.

    I completely agree that we have to see both the bad and the good. But most Americans have no idea of the bad and that increases the chances that the bad will happen again.

    Not to mention how our policies that screw over other countries is the same sins almost every nation.

    I think this is a poor excuse for not recognizing and demanding that our leaders recognize the atrocities we’ve been a party to. Pointing fingers and saying, “Well, look what THEY did!” is just as juvenile as what you accused Johnny of. Bad behavior is bad behavior and it doesn’t matter if others are doing it. We have a responsibility to recognize it and admit it and strive not to repeat it.

    I will also postulate (or at least until I evidence to the contrary) that every nation that is active in foreign affairs or has any international standing has supported some VERY bad people at one time or another. I mean, in WWII, the “good” war no less, we were bestest of friends with that fiend, Josef Stalin, and we had no compuction to turn Dresden or Tokyo into raging infernos.

    Very true. And the fire-bombings of Dresden and Tokyo were immoral, unnecessary atrocities and we shouldn’t be afraid to say so. And while we were friends with Stalin, we did NOT help him murder his citizens as we did in many countries throughout the cold war.

    Furthermore, most “good” countries rely on the bad deeds we do to protect the free world because “good countries” are frankly spinless, weak, or are parasites on our army’s reach.
    Kosovo is probably the best example because of our doing he dirty work of the “moral” European community since we killed many Serbian civilians in our wake and we supported the KLA, which had a pretty tainted record.

    This, falsely in my opinion, assumes that it takes “bad deeds” to protect the free world. I believe in American ingenuity to such a degree that I think we can protect the free world without resorting to the tactics of our enemies.

    So, yes it is easy to be permanently cynical, but only if you are myopic and apathetic to attempting to try to correct US abuses.

    The first step in correcting any abuse is admitting that the abuse occurred. Our leaders have been and continue to be unable to admit that we behaved atrociously during the cold war. Would you think that a criminal who won’t admit the crimes he committed (and the U.S. most certainly did commit a variety of crimes and atrocities during the cold war) is willing to change his behavior? I certainly wouldn’t. And it’s reasonable to assume that the U.S. isn’t willing to change it’s behavior until its leaders can admit its atrocious behavior during the cold war.

  53. And so far, its millitary and police are crawling with militia operatives, and yet Sunnis are still joining up in droves

    Let’s be careful how much good news we assume there. What if the Sunnis just want to get a piece of that action?

    Very good point.
    However, I assume since the army is already crawling with the Peshmerga, Badr, Sadr, and other millitia people that they would’ve been eliminated post-haste, and also I would also assume that many of those Sunnis who probably are in a millitia (other than the religious ones) had some previous Baathist ties and therefore be a juicy target for the Shias/Kurds.
    Nevertheless, many Sunnis are are entering the army so it must have some legitimacy in their eyes in spite of Shia/Kurdish domination or anger at the USA domination of Iraq, which is hopeful…

  54. Les,

    Very good criticisms.
    I will try to respond to your objections, but I’m sure you and most people will find it very lacking, because…well, I admit to being callous in regards to US foreign policy.

    I think this is a poor excuse for not recognizing and demanding that our leaders recognize the atrocities we’ve been a party to. Pointing fingers and saying, “Well, look what THEY did!” is just as juvenile as what you accused Johnny of. Bad behavior is bad behavior and it doesn’t matter if others are doing it. We have a responsibility to recognize it and admit it and strive not to repeat it.
    That truly is the basis of morality, when you can look and admit to your own wrongs and try to make amends for them.
    However, if we truly want to cleanse ourselves of wrong, isn’t it necessary to make amends to the people we’ve harmed? This is what worries me the most because not only does Realpolitik dictate that our status as a Superpower would make most nations try to charge us with everything under the sun in order degrade our power, but that there is a large activist base around the globe (whether Right or Left) that beleives that we are the root of their problems and would needed to be tried for various crimes.
    Also, we have been commiting major infractions against other nations’ soverignity since even before Andy Jackson’s campaigns against the Indians, and so states like Colorado and California might be returned to Mexico or to the orignal Indian tribes.
    Furthermore, I highly doubt that even though we are forced to make amends that the Russians, the Chinese, or other Communist nations will have to face their consequences of aiding and abetting evil, or how about those 3rd world countries themselves who also created. It is not justice when only we alone are condemened and have to serve our sentence when the other criminals of the world get off scott free.

    Very true. And the fire-bombings of Dresden and Tokyo were immoral, unnecessary atrocities and we shouldn’t be afraid to say so. And while we were friends with Stalin, we did NOT help him murder his citizens as we did in many countries throughout the cold war.
    ….
    This, falsely in my opinion, assumes that it takes “bad deeds” to protect the free world. I believe in American ingenuity to such a degree that I think we can protect the free world without resorting to the tactics of our enemies.

    As for Stalin, we did not pull the trigger, but we sent him the millitary materials to keep his police state intact during WWII, help support the Soviet partisans in the USSR who were extremly brutal against their own people, and ensured that Eastern Europe fell under the repression of the Iron Curtain for 50 years. FDR can be mainly blamed for this because he trusted Stalin too much (which is why his White House had so many traitors like Alger Hiss) and we cannot forget that Stalin was a master politician and at the time we needed to support all of our allies, but our friendliness to Stalin did aid the genesis of the Cold War and it’s consequences.

    As for doing bad deeds, then how to explain our campaign in Afghanistan? We relied on the Northern Alliance/Afghani warlords as our ground forces agaisnt the Taliban. They are also accused of many infractions against human rights, but less so than the Taliban. We used them because history has shown what a foreign and mechanized army will do in Afghanistan (it fails), so we augmented the Northern Alliance with our special forces and our air power, and they won. And the effects are felt today in Afghanistan because while Hamid Karzai has made progress, most of the country is still under the warlords grasp (with such conditions as the Christian apostasy trial) because we could not conquer the Afghanistan by the clumsiness of our mechinized forces or by the limited numbers of special forces.
    Also, every war will cause civillain deaths (unless we revert to the professional armies of the absolute monarchies), so aren’t we morally tainted by that too? We can limit the number of civillian casualties, but as long as there is the fog of war, civillians are liable to harm.

    While the anti-war people are inflexible to the demands of world society (especially in terms of Al Qaeda), they do have a point to the basic amorality that attends our war actions…

  55. Frank, I think you and I are mostly in agreement. When I first started educating myself about U.S. foreign policy in my early twenties, I went a little crazy because I had been raised to believe the polar opposite of what many on the left believe, which is that the U.S. had always been a benevolent force in the world. So then I moved to the other side of the spectrum and I hated the military and I hated my country.

    As I’ve aged, I’ve come to understand the messy truths of foreign policy, the necessity of carefully working with bad people for good outcomes. But I feel that, as the most powerful force in the history of humanity, we have a great responsibility (I’m a big Spider-Man fan, too, obviously). Not to never make mistakes that cost innocent life, but to know when we have and to strive not to repeat those mistakes. I think our government is doing more in terms of decreasing collateral damage than it ever has in our history, even as it is led by people I feel are are dishonest and cowardly and inept.

    But I hope one day, U.S. leaders will be able to tell the world that we didn’t need to help mass murdering dictators mow down innocent men, women and children in order to resist communism in Indonesia; that we didn’t need to support terrorists to fight the injustices of the Sandinistas, or assassinate civilians in Viet Nam. I hope our leaders will be able to say that while we will make mistakes, we won’t make those mistakes again. Because as long as our leaders talk to the world about freedom and democracy while denying the fact that we fought hard against both for a long time in many places all over the world, many reasonable people will never take the U.S. seriously.

  56. But I hope one day, U.S. leaders will be able to tell the world that we didn’t need to help mass murdering dictators mow down innocent men, women and children in order to resist communism in Indonesia; that we didn’t need to support terrorists to fight the injustices of the Sandinistas, or assassinate civilians in Viet Nam. I hope our leaders will be able to say that while we will make mistakes, we won’t make those mistakes again. Because as long as our leaders talk to the world about freedom and democracy while denying the fact that we fought hard against both for a long time in many places all over the world, many reasonable people will never take the U.S. seriously.
    That would be a truly great place to live, unfortunatley I do not see this vision coming in my lifetime or my future children’s lifetime or the generation after that…but I hope I’m proved very, very, terribly wrong πŸ™‚

    Also, IMAO some of the best commentary about the situation on the ground in Iraq comes from Bill Roggio (http://billroggio.com/) who has been my guide to the messy political-millitary situation in Iraq (what you think I got all this Iraq wisdom from my own intellect, psah, I’m not that intellegent;) ). His latest post covers the recent defection of one of the independent members of the UIA support for Jafari, so relativly speaking this is better news that the Sadrist faction might lose power to a unity government.

    Caveat emptor, he’s a conservative war journalist/blogger, but he’s still one of the more honest ones out there.

  57. But I hope one day, U.S. leaders will be able to tell the world that we didn’t need to help mass murdering dictators mow down innocent men, women and children in order to resist communism in Indonesia; that we didn’t need to support terrorists to fight the injustices of the Sandinistas, or assassinate civilians in Viet Nam. I hope our leaders will be able to say that while we will make mistakes, we won’t make those mistakes again. Because as long as our leaders talk to the world about freedom and democracy while denying the fact that we fought hard against both for a long time in many places all over the world, many reasonable people will never take the U.S. seriously.
    That would be a truly great place to live, unfortunatley I do not see this vision coming in my lifetime or my future children’s lifetime or the generation after that…but I hope I’m proved very, very, terribly wrong πŸ™‚

    Also, IMAO some of the best commentary about the situation on the ground in Iraq comes from Bill Roggio (http://billroggio.com/) who has been my guide to the messy political-millitary situation in Iraq (what you think I got all this Iraq wisdom from my own intellect, psah, I’m not that intellegent;) ). His latest post covers the recent defection of one of the independent members of the UIA support for Jafari, so relativly speaking this is better news that the Sadrist faction might lose power to a unity government.

    Caveat emptor, he’s a conservative war journalist/blogger, but he’s still one of the more honest ones out there.

  58. Some people on this forum defend the invasion of Iraq by saying that the action was undertaken with the best of intentions, and if government officials had administered it competently it would have produced wonderful results.

    Public schools, anybody? Medicare? EPA?

  59. To be clear, I realize that my previous post does not in itself constitute a valid criticism of the war in Iraq. I’m more responding to the defenses I frequently see on this forum. Don’t come to me on a libertarian forum with “How was I supposed to know that government officials might not be competent?”

    Instead, argue that the current situation is a significant improvement (from the perspective of US security) over what would have happened otherwise. (And “It’s not a bug, it’s a feature!” doesn’t count.)

    And if you find it difficult to make that case, maybe you need to think about that fact.

  60. Two other things:

    1) I think Frank A is one of the more honest and interesting hawks on this forum.

    2) The last paragraph of Les’s post at 3:56 am was pure gold.

  61. Why does Geoffrey Lambert, Maj-Gen. Ret., US Army, Commander, Army Special Forces Command (Airborne) hate America?

  62. “Our adversaries don’t care about any laws, they make them up as needed, they don’t care about public opinion, they suppress it.”

    Repeat that slowly, three time, over your cellphone, while I do a sound check.

  63. oops- should be an “s” up there on “time”

    stupid keyboard

  64. But I will not stand for what John said. There is a big difference between advocating a questionable policy and being a Baathist sympathizer. John needs to get that straight if he wants to be able to discuss this in polite company.

    I’m not going to defend John’s comments, but do we really need thoreau to go into nanny, hall-monitor mode?

    Adriana,

    The misdeeds of the Germans have little to do with the argument which has to do with the fragility of newborn democracies.

    You’re the one making the analogy to WWI, not I.

    And like it or not, Hitler was **not** an improvement over Wilhelm II.

    Let me ask you a question. When the Germans started rolling over the border of Belgium and France in WWI, what other option aside from responding with military force did they have? Your argument seems to be that merely giving into this aggression was the best long term option for both nations in light of the rise of Hitler; either that or you do understand who started WWI.

    As to the fragility of democracies, you can make that argument without running about making fallacious claims about the nature of WWI.

  65. Frank A.,

    IMHO, it doesn’t matter how bad it gets in Iraq; at this point we have to stay there. This is why the whole pre vs. post invasion comparison is so pointless. The comparisons simply do not matter from the perspective of the strategic considerations of the war. As a P.R. issue they do of course matter; but why should the P.R. campaign matter here?

  66. Hayklut:

    My argument has to do with the fragility of newborn democracies, and that replacing an authoritarian regime by a democracy is very chancy undertaking.

    Whatever reasons there were for World War I (and there is a lot more controversy about than I care to review), the lesson for the aftermath is simple. You can erect new democracies, but you cannot make them survive, and what comes afterwards can be as bad, or worse than the original authoritarian government.

    There would have been cogent reasons for fighting World War I. There were a lot less to get rid of the Kaiser and the Austrian Empire. The results for these decisions were disasatrous.

  67. Adriana,

    The German people got rid of the Kaiser, not the peace at Versailles. They are the ones who deposed him. The Austro-Hungarian empire was dismembered by the folks on the ground, again not at the peace (Trianon in that instance). That is, Czech, Polish, etc. armies created states without the help or blessing of the Allies. Which is why the Treaty of Trianon was merely an acknowledgement of what others had already done long before the treaty was signed.

    So if you have a beef with the post-war settlement, take it up with the German people and the various nationalities that revolted against Austrian rule at the end of WWI. Indeed, take it up with the Austrian monarchy which risk their empire to grab some territory in recalcitrant Serbia (avenging the Archduke’s death was merely a pretext for their war against Serbia).

    To be honest, the Germans and the Austrians brought the disaster on themselves and then blamed everyone else for their mistakes.

  68. In light of Sherman’s philosophy that “all war is hell,” perhaps its time to make the areas of the insurgency “howl?” Just a thought for the hawks out there.

  69. Of course, then there are considerations of just war theory, and thus proportionality.

  70. Ms. Rice on her way home from Blackburn stopped off in Iraq with Sec?y Straw. She?s an attractive woman and when you put her in a room full or Iraqi and British politicians she is drop-dead gorgeous.

    I got a feeling that if we were not having this war in Iraq we would be in as hard of a fight somewhere else, probably Afghanistan. War as a logical operator is an OR not an AND. If one side wants it, the other side may pretend it does not exist, but there will be attacks. There is significant minority in Islam that wants war, with US soldiers in particular. Now they have it.

    Hakluyt mentions Sherman who came to see that end of the US civil war could only come about by killing a large number of the militant core of Southern leaders. In Islam today, just like the confederacy, Nazi Germany, and Bushido Japan there is a militant core. Time for a Shermanesque campaign in the tribal areas of Pakistan.

  71. “The fact is that you and people like you did everything that you possibly could to keep Saddam in power.”

    Tell me- does “people like you” include George Herbert Walker Bush, of the Central Intelligence Agency?

    I seem to recall a time when the secular regime of one S Hussein was a crucial bulwark in our defense against Radical Mullah-ism?

  72. Hayklut:

    You have a way of missing the point. I hold no brief for the Second Reich (except that it was nicer than the Third), nor for the Austrian empire.

    I only want to point out that optimism based on the establishmeant of democracy anywhere is unwarranted, and needs to be time-tested before you take out the champagne.

    I got to post WW I because it was a notorious case of new democracies bursting all at once, and coming to a bad end, and because I read a very insightful study of their demise, using them as examples of democracies going bad.

    There is a mistake that too many pro-democracy advocates make, which is assume that because someting is desrable it is easy to get.

    And the comment about Hitler not being an improvemente on Wilhelm II? One, it is a fact, and two, it is an illustration that the law of unintended results works all the time.

    Or did you think that unintended results take time off when implementing policies you approve of?

  73. Frank A, I wish more hawks were like you. You have a capacity to face hard facts, admit setbacks, and respect dissenting viewpoints that has been sorely missing over the last three years. Those are not just personal virtues, but they also foster better policy decisions and operational management than we’ve seen.

    When we last met, you were dissing my statement that intrusive inspections, backed by a credible threat of force, both with a UN mandate, would have served us better than this invasion. You based this on two planks – we can’t trust the UN, and we couldn’t credibly threatan Saddam into backing down.

    As far as the first point goes, we weren’t in a position of having to take anyone with a blue beret at his word – our intelligence agencies, and those of our allies, had access to the data gathered by the Blix team. Hell, the team largely consisted of our people. You argue about the UN as “them,” but when we’re talking about the forces enforcing the Iraq armistice, “them” is mostly “us.”

    As far as the ability to make Saddam back down, I’ll point out two data points: Operation Desert Fox, which convinced him to thoroughly dismantle his WMD programs; and the return of the UN inspectors prior to this war. We don’t have to speculate about whether Saddam would back down in the face of the US, fresh from routing the Taliban, with a bad attitude and a UN mandate. We know, for a fact, that he would, because he did.

  74. A credible threat cannot be sustained forever, joe. At some point it must be backed up.

  75. Adriana,

    You have a way of missing the point.

    No, I have a way of tearing apart poor analogies and I’ve undermined some mythologized historical constructs you seem to have.

    I hold no brief for the Second Reich (except that it was nicer than the Third), nor for the Austrian empire.

    Whether you do is beside the point. Your attempt to analogize the current situation to the aftermath of WWI simply makes no sense, and that is the problem. As to which was nicer, that’s at best a subjective evaluation; but for my money I would not have betted in 1914 on Germany becoming some enlightened neighbor in light of their aggressive actions in Europe. Of course the shows up an essential difference between Germany and Iraq though – Germany was an aggressive power invading and enslaving the people of other states in WWI.

    I got to post WW I because it was a notorious case of new democracies bursting all at once, and coming to a bad end, and because I read a very insightful study of their demise, using them as examples of democracies going bad.

    Your original point was that if only the Kaiser and Nicholas II had remained around things would have been better. This seems to imply some “choice” regarding the actions of the Allies, a choice which for most of the Allies simply did not exist.

    You also seem to be implying that the various “democracies” that came about in Eastern Europe (and Germany) as a result of the war were created by parties outside those regions, which wasn’t the case. The Allies didn’t create those governments, they in all reality merely acknowledged their existance. If there were indeed contingencies they were created by folks on the ground and not by the sort of high, philanthropic, outside-created forces you seem to be implying existed. Its truly a damn shame that the true nature of the post-war settlement is so little understand, and folks think that it was all dictated out of Paris.

    The rest of your comments don’t really address my concerns.

  76. Adriana,

    In sum, your analogy is as bad as those who claim that Iraq is just like WWII and that the lessons of that war apply uniformally, etc. to the current war.

  77. joe,

    Saddam never backed down. His position was to allow his weapons programs to become defunct while he awaited better days. Your position is based on some sort of strange scenario where the Saddam’s regime remained forever a pariah state that was confronted by constant international pressure, which seems to be a rather incredible position to take. Whether the war was appropriate or not cannot be determined by looking at the status quo, since the status quo was untenable.

  78. Hayklut:

    Sure, I think it would have been better if Wilhelm II and Nicholas II had remained in power. After the Nazi and Communist holocausts, how can you doubt it??????

    I wonder how you cannot see the point.

  79. “However, if Hurd cannot distinguish between the actions of Saddam Hussein, whose Baath regime was responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths through the conscious implementation of plans of extermination, for example the successive Anfal campaigns against the Kurds in 1988, or the savage repression of Iraq’s Shiites and Kurds after the 1991 Gulf War; if he cannot distinguish between all this, and far more, and what the Americans are doing today in Iraq, then he really is living proof that life peerage is a repository for cretins.”

    Wait – this might be a new low point.

    Mr. Young, are you honestly arguing that our entire homicide jurisprudence is a fraud? That only intentional killings are wrong, that knowingly killing an innocent is just hunky dory?

    Or are you arguing the moral relativist side – since there are Dahmers in the world, there’s nothing wrong with me downing my bottle of vodka and then holding a drag race in the local elementary school’s playground at recess time?

    Isn’t the whole point that first sentence that you acknowledge is right – namely, that killing an innocent is wrong, absent a justifiable mistake about self-defense? And saying that well, OUR killing of innocents is better than them doing it, well, I guess the best way to address that turd is just to let it stand there and stink for itself.

    I guess personal responsibility IS dead. “Why did you kill those children?” “Well, Saddam was going to kill them anyway, so I didn’t do anything wrong.”

  80. I believe in American ingenuity to such a degree that I think we can protect the free world without resorting to the tactics of our enemies.

    How? The greatest leaders of all time could never lead without the “bad”. The most benevolent leaders in history could never maintain order and lead without the bad. Why, then, can the leaders of this country. I’m not defending the bad by any means, but to assume that your leader should lead without it ignores four thousand years of history that says he can’t lead without it.

  81. Then again, who was the last President who wasn’t? Ike? Jefferson? Any history buffs want to help me out here?

    Truman. Then Coolidge. Before that, hm…gotta go back a long ways…

  82. Mr Goiter- Coolidge, definitely.

    “I believe in American ingenuity to such a degree that I think we can protect the free world without resorting to the tactics of our enemies.”

    I don’t know about ingenuity, but we could try intellectual honesty, for a change, just to see what happens.

  83. Some people on this forum defend the invasion of Iraq by saying that the action was undertaken with the best of intentions,

    Road to hell and so on an so forth…

  84. Adriana,

    How exactly were they to remain in power when the Kaiser was bent (to a paranoid extreme) on destroying the Russian regime?

    Again, the aftermath of WWI is simply not a very good example to bolster your original claim.

    Let’s recap: WWI was not sold to the world as a war for democracy, since most of the major participants entered it at the point of someone else’s bayonet. Bertrand Russel was simply wrong.

    Second, the democracies created after WWI were indigenous ones, they were not imposed from outside has been the case in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Third, whether or not democracies are especially fragile at their birth, that seems to be the condition of all new governments, whether they be democracies or not.

  85. Adriana,

    As to your “point,” your claims were far more grand before.

  86. Hayklut:

    The only claim I made was that it was too early to rejoice as to the appearence of Iraqui democracy, because in the past too many democracies came to a bad end.

    As for World War I, wasn’t that the war that was sold on the slogan “Make the world safe for democracy”? The Russell phrase is a very good example of the presence of unforeseen effects.

    I am sure that if all those who prepared for war, be they the Allies or the Central Powers, could see the future, they would have desperately sought peace. As it is, many historians see World War I as an attempted suicide of Europe, after which nothing was the same.

    As for Iraqui democracy, only time will tell, but when you say that the post War democracies were indigenous, implyting that Iraqui democracy is not, makes it worse.

  87. As for World War I, wasn’t that the war that was sold on the slogan “Make the world safe for democracy”?

    I believe that was the packaging for selling it to the American people, but that was acouple of years after its beginning among a decidely (for the most part) undemocratic bunch in Europe.

  88. As for World War I, wasn’t that the war that was sold on the slogan “Make the world safe for democracy”?

    I believe that was the packaging for selling it to the American people, but that was acouple of years after its beginning among a decidely (for the most part) undemocratic bunch in Europe.

  89. There weren’t really any good guys in WWI. All of the powers were spoiling for a fight, having no idea what they were getting themselves into in the new age of industrial warfare.

    As to Iraq, arguing over the merits of something that happened three years ago is a bit pointless. The Iraq *war* only lasted about two weeks. The Iraq *occupation* is the real problem, and one which the Bush Administration appears to be bungling badly. Our pretext for going to war in the first place is now about as important and relevant as, well, the Austro-Hungarian government’s rationale for making unreasonable demands of Serbia in 1914. The important question is what we do about the occupation that seems to be tottering. Other than a cut-and-run (which would definitely lead to civil war and mass slaughter, I fear), I haven’t seen one single good counter-proposal here or anywhere else.

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