Past and Future Hawks

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Wonder of wonders, Victor Davis Hanson has made a coherent argument:

The next time a Democratic administration makes a case for using America's overwhelming military force to preempt a Milosevic or a mass murderer in Darfur — and history suggests that one will — the Democrats' own present disingenuous antiwar rhetoric may come back to haunt them, ensuring that such future humanitarian calls will probably fall on ears as deaf as they are partisan.

This is true in several minor ways, and false in one major way: nothing will happen as a result of their being "haunted" by past statements. We're shoulder-deep in a war of nation-building right now that was launched by a Republican president who vocally opposed nation-building and approved by Republicans who opposed humanitarian interventions in the 1990s. Would someone like to argue that their past statements "haunted" them in the run-up to war? No? All right, then.

For all of Hillary Clinton's pathetic contorting on her Iraq vote, she's at least honest. Clinton II, like all of the Democratic candidates, will turn into a nation-building Wilsonian the second her skin touches the Washington Bible.

NEXT: Weigel on the Radio

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  1. The next time a Democratic administration makes a case for using America’s overwhelming military force to preempt a Milosevic or a mass murderer in Darfur…

    Forgetting, of course, the Republican administration that made the case for pre-empting Saddam Hussein.

    Never mind that our action against Milosevic were joint NATO operations that were (a) not pre-emptive, (b)successful and (c) didn’t destabilize an entire region leading to persistent campaigns of terrorism.

    And no one (no one rational or credible, anyway) holding American office is suggesting we jump into Darfur…which also would not be pre-emptive.

  2. That’s why I’m looking forward to a Democratic administration. Republicans will be skeptical of interventionism, Democrats will be back to irresponsible crusading. After eight years, the actors will be back to their appropriate scripts.

  3. Did anyone read “Carnage and Culture”? That book was terrible. “The west wins (except when it doesn’t) because its culture is militarily superior (except when it isn’t)”. Brilliant.

  4. The people in power, no matter the party, are going to want to project that power. Whether or not one agrees with the policy, only libertarians seem to have a consistent foreign policy. And consistency frightens the small minded.

  5. “Never mind that our action against Milosevic were joint NATO operations that were (a) not pre-emptive, (b)successful and (c) didn’t destabilize an entire region leading to persistent campaigns of terrorism.”

    and (d) weren’t nation-building.

    Other than that, a fine argument, Mr. Hanson.

  6. Really, Hanson’s mistake is beleiving that politicians are intellectually honest, or even coherent.

    The real pattern is that the party out of power opposes intervention, and the party in power supports it.

  7. (a) not pre-emptive

    In what way is Iraq “pre-emptive” as compared to Kosovo and Sudan when using the humanitarian spin angle? The “pre-emptive” nature of the Iraq invasion was only in regards to the possibility of Iraq directly terrorizing the US. That line of reasoning doesn’t even apply to Kosovo and Sudan. Otherwise, when spinning Iraq as a rescue from a brutal dictator, it then occupies the same grounds as Kosovo and Sudan.

  8. “Forgetting, of course, the Republican administration that made the case for pre-empting Saddam Hussein. ”

    That of course forgets that Al Gore and Bill Clinton made the same case in 1998. It also forgets that Bill Clinton waged war against Iraq for his entire administration through the sanctions and the enforcment of the no fly zones.

    “Never mind that our action against Milosevic were joint NATO operations that were (a) not pre-emptive, (b)successful and (c) didn’t destabilize an entire region leading to persistent campaigns of terrorism.”

    Forgeting that the war against Serbia was never authorized by the U.N. Security council and had less firm basis in international law than the Iraq War. The Iraq war had Security Council resolution 1442 which authorized force to enforce the ceasefire agrement. It just never had the one last time, yes we really meant 1442 resolution from the Security Council. The Serbian War didn’t even have that. NATO had no authorization from the U.N. to go to war. Moreover, Kosovo was a province of Serbia. Serbia was not being agressive or violating any religional security agreements. It is as if Cuba and Mexico got together and bombed the U.S. until we agreed to give up sovereignty over Texas.

    “And no one (no one rational or credible, anyway) holding American office is suggesting we jump into Darfur…which also would not be pre-emptive”

    Why wouldn’t it be preemptive? Dafur is a part of the Sudan. Yes, there is a genocide going on there and I wouldn’t blame the world for stopping it, but the Sudan is not a threat to any other country. They are not attacking their neighbors. They are just killing their own people. How is intervening in a domestic conflict for purely humanitarian purposes any better than pre-emption? It is hard to object to one without objecting to the other.

  9. Kosovo today is a disaster, I don’t know how anyone could call our actions there “successful.”

  10. I like the Hanson simply assumes that the Democrats are making “anti-war” arguments, rather than the specific anti-Iraq War arguments that he approves of, without providing the slightest reference to any Democrats making arguments against using force to end the deprivations of dictators and aggressors.

    These people have been projecting their 40 year old grudges against hippies onto the anti-Iraq War opposition from the beginning, regardless of what arguments that opposition was actually making. Yes, I’m sure the Democrats that live in Hanson’s head have spent the last two years making principled arguments against humanitarian interventions, but out here in the real world, the pacifism and anti-Americanism he spends his life growling at haven’t played even a walk-on role in the Democratic criticism of this war.

    Oh, btw, the claims the Bush administration made about Saddam’s support for terrorists are “unassailable.” I know this, because the guy who kept writing that defeating the Iraqi army would cause a flowering of Middle Eastern democracy told me so.

  11. John,

    It’s just Sudan. “The” Sudan is the area across the north of Africa where the desert ceases. Or something like that. It’s more wrong than “The” Ukraine, which also bugs me.

    Also, how many times did Clinton and Gore invade and occupy Iraq for at least four years while trying to plant a democracy where none previously existed while trying to alternately stand between and prop up different sides of the civil war that begin once the earlier events occurred?

  12. I’ve never been able to understand why VDH is considered particularly insightful. He was passed off as some sort offspring of Clausewitz and Napoleon back when all the kids had warblogs.

    War Nerd forgot more about war than VDH will ever know.

  13. Seems john and MP are engaging in useless, pointless and needless hairsplitting over the word ‘pre-emptive.’

    My comments were obviously made pinwheeling off the term as originally used by Hanson in his article.

    In other words, being completely unable to make a substantive argument that supports Hanson, they have to nitpick other people.

    How keen of you boys.

  14. “Wonder of wonders, Victor Davis Hanson has made a coherent argument”

    So that’s one for Hanson, and…well, nope, still zero for Weigel!

  15. Should support for the Iraq War (now or previously) disqualify somebody from saying they are a “minarchist.” I would say yes, it should disqualify. Anybody think different?

    For ref:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minarchism

  16. Kosovo today is a disaster, I don’t know how anyone could call our actions there “successful.”

    Success in that at the time, the action did what it was suposed to do (stop a two-front war and ethnic cleansing) and left a relatively stable situation.

    The current problems are largely internal (though still ethnically driven) and was sparked in 2004 well after our actions there.

    It’s also successful in the fact that we’re not still there getting the shit pounded out of us.

  17. Kosovo and a theoretical Sudan mission differ from the Iraq War in that we didn’t/wouldn’t go in with the intention of taking over the countries, administering their govenrments, and “fixing” its political culture to turn them into democracies. They were/would be military operations to defeat military forces and allow those forces’ targets to run their own affairs and settle their own futures.

    You have to try really hard not to see these distinctions. Unfortunately for our country, the utter collapse of both the initial case for war in Iraq and the strategy to achieve freedom-democracy-and-a-pony there have left enthusiastic, partisan hawks like Hanson very motivated to ignore those distinctions.

  18. “Also, how many times did Clinton and Gore invade and occupy Iraq for at least four years while trying to plant a democracy where none previously existed while trying to alternately stand between and prop up different sides of the civil war that begin once the earlier events occurred?”

    No they just spent billions antagonizing the entire Muslim world with 1000s of troops in Saudi Arabia while also strangling and starving the Iraq population through the sanctions. All the while doing nothing to get at the root of the problem, the lunatic running Iraq. While the opponents of the sanctions overrated their ill effect, at some point they did have a point. How long can you strangle and starve a country without ever doing anything about the government you claim to object to?

    madpad,

    I am not nitpicking, you are just wrong in your characterization of the Kosovo War. Further, I really don’t see the difference in attacking a country because it is killing its own people and attacking it because you think it might one day attack you. Neither type of intervention is valid under international law yet both can be warrented by the circumstances.

  19. “Kosovo and a theoretical Sudan mission differ from the Iraq War in that we didn’t/wouldn’t go in with the intention of taking over the countries, administering their govenrments, and “fixing” its political culture to turn them into democracies. They were/would be military operations to defeat military forces and allow those forces’ targets to run their own affairs and settle their own futures.”

    Joe, did you miss the NATO force running Kosovo the last ten years? That is exactly what we are doing in Kosovo, it is just easier than Iraq so you don’t hear about it.

    As far as Sudan, what good would it do to go in and kill a bunch of people and then go home? As soon as we leave, who pretects the innocent then? As soon as we left, Dafur would go right back to the way it is. If the U.S. intervened in the Sudan, it would have to stay for years and build some kind of a civil society.

  20. Run ups to war have become so shoddily manufactured and surreal that I have a hard time imagining us getting away with too many more before someone gets impeached (or even imprisoned).

    Fraud’s a crime. So’s conspiracy to defraud.

  21. Bush I originally kept troops in Saudi Arabia, and Bush II didn’t take them out until well after Saddam was overthrown. I agree that keeping them there was pointlessly antagonistic, especially when they could have been just as effective in Kuwait or Qatar.

    You’re implying that there was a choice solely between continuing the sanctions as-was or out and out invasion and occupation.

    And I don’t know what problem you’re saying Saddam was the root to, exactly.

  22. I think most of the comments here are helpful to advance the discussion.

    To Weigel, it is obvious that all military actions absent foreign armies in Time Square are morally equivalent boondoggles. You’d have to be a moron not to see how every conceivable use of force in every conceivable foreign policy application ALWAYS turns out for the worse, right Dave?

    To joe, Iraq was an ill thought out boondoggle but there is room to apprehend how other military actions may not be boondoggles. While several criteria are listed for a reasonable action, the salient one seems to be “(b) was successful”. Preemption is an empty concept, and even nation building can be seen as what you have to do to leave something stable when you upset the apple cart.

    The Democrats did what they thought was necessary, and the limited scope of what was attempted combined with numerous other factors leaves one with the sense that we prevented more harm than we caused. Weigel sticks his fingers in his ears and says, “No way. All military action is always disasterous. Everyone smart like me knows that.”

    The Republicans did what they thought was necessary, but the scope of what was being attempted was much, much larger and success less likely. Regime change was accomplished, but the exit strategy is just difficult. I’m sympathetic to the claim that this particular situation should never have been engaged in because you could know up front how hard (impossible, I don’t buy) it would be. I’m not sympathetic to the idea that nothing has been done any more than I’m sympathetic to the idea that nothing could be done in Sudan. Good can be accomplished, but always at some cost.

    I’d love for the debate to recognize a few things – that what most people really care about is success and not the immorality of military action in general, that you can’t divorce military power from international negotiations, that there are bold military moves that can work just as there are suicidal overreaches that can’t, and that broadly people of both parties do what they feel they have to do in the complete absence of Pure Evil as a motivator.

    If we are going to argue, let’s argue about costs, likely effects, and exit strategies and not try to impose a simplistic moral framework on very difficult questions. It isn’t obvious to me that you have a moral position beyond reproach when you take the universal stance that Darfur is none of your business.

  23. “You’re implying that there was a choice solely between continuing the sanctions as-was or out and out invasion and occupation.

    And I don’t know what problem you’re saying Saddam was the root to, exactly.”

    The problem was the Saddam was a lunatic who had invaded two countries in 10 years and showed every indication of threatening the region further once the sanctions ended. The sanctions couldn’t go on forever. The alternatives were overthrow Saddam or let him back into polite society and spend years and billions sitting in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia detering him. Pretty lousy options.

  24. JasonL,

    Wars are hard and only the ones that last a long time and are really hard ever solve anything. Quick wars like Gulf War I ussually just leave the problem to fester. The problem is that I don’t this country can fight wars anymore. Iraq as wars go is a really easy one. This country lost more people on Iwo Jima than it has in the entire Iraq campaign. I can’t imagine fighting a serious war with serious casulaties in this day and age. It just wouldn’t happen. The U.S. would quit and make some kind of peace that preserved its borders.

  25. The problem was the Saddam was a lunatic who had invaded two countries in 10 years and showed every indication of threatening the region further once the sanctions ended.

    It may be a problem, but it’s not mine.

    – Josh

  26. I love to watch how Republicans and Democrats argue how their respective wars are better in one way or the other than their opponents’ wars.

  27. Whether they qualify as “pre-emptive” or whether they count as “successful” (didn’t someone declare “mission accomplished” in Iraq?) is immaterial.

    The essential connection between Serbia, Iraq and Darfur are that the conflicts are ethnically motivated. Removing various dictators from those regions won’t solve the conflicts, it will merely shift the balance of power.

    If we come in saying “you kids play nice now,” the natural response will be to wait until our backs are turned and then start throwing rocks at each other again.

  28. “It may be a problem, but it’s not mine.

    – Josh”

    God how I wish you were right. But I don’t think you are. I don’t think we can ignore the world let it go to hell as fun as it would be to watch.

  29. John,

    K-FOR has been providing a security presence for the last ten years, but the daily operations of the government have been carried out by the locals. Much more of the existing local government infrastructure was left in place, and the locals who were more-or-less our allies – actual locals on the ground who were considered legitimate by the public – have moved in to run the government.

    “If the U.S. intervened in the Sudan, it would have to stay for years and build some kind of a civil society.” No, not really. It would have to stay to provide a security presence, but could quite easily play no role whatsoever in Darfuri self-governance. “Fixing” the Darfuri government isn’t the issue there.

  30. John,

    Responding to your comment to JasonL, I don’t think the problem is our inability to handle casualties (though the media and politicians probably do emphasize that aspect too much) it’s that at this point it’s not really clear what they’re there for. This was the problem in Korea and Vietnam too (though in both cases at least there was a clear “other side” to negotiate with). If the goal is simply “winning” or amorphous concepts like democracy then it’s more likely to fail. If like WWII it’s unconditional surrender, then that’s much more clear.

    To your other comment, there are plenty of other options aside from those two. Rarely in life are there truly binary choices. Ignoring all the things that could have been done differently strategically and tactically, we had many options. We could have embargoed the country, declared the whole place a no-fly zone and pummeled the place w/ bombs (a more intense version of what we did prior to the war), actually got some intel assets in the country rather than relying on exiles, worked w/ Baath and military in the country to take out the top echelon, sent in Special Forces to do similar things, got together w/ the Turks, Kurds, Jordanians &/or Iranians to mess with things at the periphery. This is just off the top of my head, and it doesn’t involve rehabilitating Saddam or trapping ourselves in the country.

    Just an aside: I think sanctions are pretty pointless, and are more for our own benefit so we can feel like we’re doing something than for any actual purpose. I think that there have been two times in history that sanctions have been effective: South Africa and Yugoslavia, and in both they only worked because they were quasi-democratic countries.

  31. Kosovo had the benefit of a confined area of instability. That is what has allowed that which can be considered success.

    Iraq is surrounded by unstable and belligerent neighbors with axes to grind. An intervention in Darfur will have an outcome more similar to Somalia and Iraq than Kosovo, due to the instability of the region.

  32. I’ve decided to bite the bullet and entirely eschew the false dichotomy that is–or, rather, is not–American politics. Military action is right or wrong on its own merits, not on who politically supported it or gained from it.

  33. Eric,

    It’s true that there are ethnic (or other communal) fault lines in all three places, but the existence of fault lines doesn’t make war inevitable. It usually takes quite a bit of deliberate provocation by a political actor with an agenda.

    The Shiites and Sunnis in Iraq didn’t “start throwing rocks at each other” until Al Qaeda had spent a couple of years carrying out a terrorist campaign against Shiites in order to provoke a backlash. Serbs, Croats, and Bosnians lived in peacefully in mixed communities for decades, before Milosevic decided to create a Greater Serbia. Even in Sudan, it took years of deliberate effort by the Arabist, Islamist Khartoum government to prey on the minorities in the south and west to bring about the fighting.

    We have our own fault lines in America, but we aren’t at war with each other.

  34. “Hillary Clinton”

    Hugo Chavez in a pants-suit.

  35. To back up Some James, the opposition to the Iraq War reached about 50% of the population when casualties there were well below what the coalition has suffered in Afghanistan.

    If we have to fight off a Chinese invasion of Taiwan, it’s going to cost us a lot more than Iraq has, but I’d bet the public would still stand behind it.

    “To your other comment, there are plenty of other options aside from those two. Rarely in life are there truly binary choices. Ignoring all the things that could have been done differently strategically and tactically, we had many options.” If George Bush had settled for getting the UN inspectors back in, backed by a strong UN mandate to enforce their freedom to operate and Iraqi compliance – which he could have had, easily – he would be celebrated as the great foriegn polcy genius who won in Afghanistan and put Saddam Hussein back in his cage.

  36. “If we have to fight off a Chinese invasion of Taiwan, it’s going to cost us a lot more than Iraq has, but I’d bet the public would still stand behind it.”

    They would be behind it for about a month and then it would be a quagmire and an excuse for the entire babyboom to relive Vietnam all over again.

  37. Sure, John. Just like Afghanistan, right?

    Everyone’s a coward but you. Hippies, flag burners, spit on veterans…there’s only one person here reliving Vietnam.

  38. True enough joe,

    But my point is that the ethnic and regional nature of these conflicts mean that a) we can’t fix them by swooping in and enforcing group hugs and b) they don’t really concern us as long as they don’t involve us.

  39. “Sure, John. Just like Afghanistan, right?

    Everyone’s a coward but you. Hippies, flag burners, spit on veterans…there’s only one person here reliving Vietnam.”

    We rarely take causalites in Afghanistan Joe. Further, there is like 18,000 troops there right now. Further, there is that small affair in Iraq to give people something to do. Once we are out of Iraq, the same people will be screaming about Afghanistan, espcially if there is a Republican in office. Kid yourself all you want, but there is no way the U.S. could sustain an effort agaisnt a country like China. No way. We could kill a gazzillion of them in a few weeks, but as soon as the casualty rolls started to roll in people would break. There might be one exception to that, if China was dumb enough to launch against the U.S. cities. Then people would know the dead and want revenge. As long as it is military dying, it will be the same old, “they are killinig our kids in a meaningless war narritive” we all know and love.

  40. “It may be a problem, but it’s not mine.

    – Josh”

    “God how I wish you were right. But I don’t think you are. I don’t think we can ignore the world let it go to hell as fun as it would be to watch.”

    It is not our responsibility. If there is a tyrant in the region, it is up to others to form alliances to resist the tyrant. One thing for sure is if we keep coming to their rescue, they’ll never develop the responsibility to see to their own defense.

  41. “It is not our responsibility. If there is a tyrant in the region, it is up to others to form alliances to resist the tyrant. One thing for sure is if we keep coming to their rescue, they’ll never develop the responsibility to see to their own defense.”

    Yeah, just like Europe rose to the responsibility of stopping Hitler and China rose to the responsibility of stopping Japan and Western Europe would have rose to the responsibility of stopping the Soviets and so on and so forth. If the U.S. really believed and lived by that decree in the 20th Century, what would the world have looked like and how could the U.S. have not ended up like the rest of the world? Why are things any different now?

  42. Eric,

    Agreed. We can’t just swoop in and “fix” other societies’ political issues. We can topple the governments and smash the armies that take advantage of those issues, but the hard work of solving the underlying problem has do be done within that society, or our efforts won’t solve anything.

    John,

    “We rarely take causalites in Afghanistan Joe.” I, and about 40% of my countrymen, were opposed to the Iraq War before the first American stubbed his toe. So were Jim Webb and Brent Scowcroft. Why is is it so hard for you to believe that principled people could conclude that this war was a bad idea?

    If I helf my fellow Americans in the contempt you so obviously do, I wouldn’t be able to live here, nevermind fly the flag off the font of my house. I don’t meet very many people who are as blatantly anti-American as you, so I’m not sure what to say.

  43. “If we have to fight off a Chinese invasion of Taiwan, it’s going to cost us a lot more than Iraq has, but I’d bet the public would still stand behind it.”

    Why would the American people stand for a conflict that in no way benefits us and at great cost in money, lives, and a possible nuclear exchange?

  44. Herb,

    To save several million people, who have been our friends and allies, from falling under the boot of a totaltaritarian dictatorship.

  45. Saddam Hussein only fully cooperated with inspections when there were American armored divisons parked on his borders, which was not sustainable. Nor were the sanctions sustainable with two UNSC members actively working to subvert them, not to mention the public pressure to remove them, due to the hardship they imposed on the Iraqi population. All fantasies, aside the choices were to either topple the Tikriti/Baathist regime, or to allow it to continue to rule, with sanctions ended.

  46. “Saddam Hussein only fully cooperated with inspections when there were American armored divisons parked on his borders, which was not sustainable.”

    Why not?

    Let me get this straight – we can keep 135,000 troops in an active combat theater for decades if need be, in order to avoid “sending the wrong message,” even if they aren’t achieving anything and are taking heavy casualties…

    but we can’t maintain a corps-sized force in a freindly country in moderate level of preparedness, in order to compel cooperation?

    Huh?

  47. Oh, and, of course, Saddam’s government NEVER “fully cooperated” with inspectors.

    UNSCOM and Blix team were able to do their jobs without full cooperation. That’s what “coercive” means.

  48. “Yeah, just like Europe rose to the responsibility of stopping Hitler and China rose to the responsibility of stopping Japan and Western Europe would have rose to the responsibility of stopping the Soviets and so on and so forth. If the U.S. really believed and lived by that decree in the 20th Century, what would the world have looked like and how could the U.S. have not ended up like the rest of the world? Why are things any different now?”

    What the world would have looked like? We would not have had the Cold War. If we had let Germany and the Soviet Union fight it out, maybe they would both have been weakened and we wouldn’t have a problem with either. If Japan conquered China, maybe we wouldn’t have had the Mao and his slaughter of millions.

  49. “To save several million people, who have been our friends and allies, from falling under the boot of a totaltaritarian dictatorship.”

    I just don’t think the public would go for something so costly that doesn’t benefit us personally.

  50. Herb,

    How about, “Because aggressive nations that wage wars of conquest rarely settle for limited gains?”

  51. joe,

    “We can topple the governments and smash the armies that take advantage of those issues, but the hard work of solving the underlying problem has do be done within that society, or our efforts won’t solve anything.”

    Agreed. But just to make sure my view is painfully clear: we CAN topple and smash, but we are almost never justified in doing so.

  52. Depends on how China pitches it. If they yell “kill ’em all” and charge, we might intervene.

    But if they make “they’ve been making trouble on the mainland, so we’re forcing them back into the fold” noises, I see the world standing on the sidelines, wringing our hands, praying that China’s quick about it so we can all get back to making and consuming.

    Heck, with the shape of our government these days, China could privately communicate their intentions and there’s a good chance we’d instruct Taiwan to surrender on the front side, in an attempt to preserve what we’re passing off as a “global economy” these days.

  53. If we have to fight off a Chinese invasion of Taiwan, it’s going to cost us a lot more than Iraq has, but I’d bet the public would still stand behind it.

    joe, what makes you think we would intervene meaningfully in the internal affairs of China, in opposition to one of our largest trading partners?

    And in particular, what makes you think we would be willing to savage the Chinese ports, lose a couple of carrier battle groups, and commit commit a couple fo divisions to this dispute? Because that’s what it would take.

  54. To save several million people, who have been our friends and allies, from falling under the boot of a totaltaritarian dictatorship.

    Yet the American people are apparently unwilling to support saving 5 times several million people from a totalitarian dictatorship.

    I am of course referring to the Iraqi war.

  55. RC,

    If there was any reason to believe that post-war Iraqis would avoid being under that boot, we would support it. Back when most of the population still believed that this war had a chance of working, most Americans did support it.

    You do recognize that there is a difference between the political conditions in Taiwan in 2006 and those in Iraq in 2006, right?

  56. The Taiwanese have created a stable, functional, liberal democracy. We know that Taiwan, when out from under the boot of Beijing tyranny, can be a viable, decent democracy. The conditions to create and sustain it are already in place.

    That’s not the case in Iraq. In the absense of the Tikriti dictatorship, it fell into civil war. There was neither a local democratic movement worth speakkng of; nor a unified civil society; nor even a unifying popular movement.

    The problem with the Great Democracy Crusade is that it was conceived, carried out, and supported by people who don’t have the foggiest notion what democracy is, what it needs, or how it works.

  57. “How about, “Because aggressive nations that wage wars of conquest rarely settle for limited gains?”

    Then, when they come gunnin’ for us, we’ll wait until then to take them on. Unless we continue to drain ourselves in the meantime by involving ourselves in wars that are none of our business like Kosovo and Iraq.

  58. To be fair, The Great Democracy Crusade is a bit of a simplification. The question is, is there a reason for regime change, and if so, do you try a democracy after the fact or not?

    That framing has a different set of implications.

  59. JasonL,

    The absence of a bad regime is not sufficient for the creation of democracy.

    Herb,

    I’d rather not wait until we’re fighting an enemy that has half the world’s resources to throw at us. Problems are better solved when they’re small.

  60. I love to watch how Republicans and Democrats argue how their respective wars are better in one way or the other than their opponents’ wars.

    Herb, you’ve said all that really needs to be said about this thread.

  61. I love to watch how Libertarians cloak their incapacity to contend with issues of war and peace behind an above-it-all pose.

    Hey, man, I’m too COOL to weigh arguments on their merits!

  62. Joe, we can indefinitely keep armored divisions in places where the governments are willing to have us there indefinitely. That doesn’t hold for any place bordering Iraq.

  63. “I’d rather not wait until we’re fighting an enemy that has half the world’s resources to throw at us. Problems are better solved when they’re small.”

    I’d rather not fight them at all. We should do everything in our power to avoid war with them. Even at this early stage, the costs would be far too high.

  64. Will,

    The Kuwaitis seem like happy landlords.

    Herb,

    I hear you, but…would you really advocate letting the Beijing government take Taiwan, as the Taiwanese were fighting for their lives to preserve their republic?

  65. “I love to watch how Libertarians cloak their incapacity to contend with issues of war and peace behind an above-it-all pose.”

    “Hey, man, I’m too COOL to weigh arguments on their merits!”

    We are weighing them on their merits. They have no merits. These wars are totally unecessary for the US to become involved in.

    Too many neoconservatives favor a medling foreign policy because they couldn’t stand the idea of not getting to participate in wars. Their lust for war is too great.

    Too many liberals favor a medling foreign policy because they love to project power. They’re not satisfied to project power only in America, they have to project it overseas as well.

  66. “I hear you, but…would you really advocate letting the Beijing government take Taiwan, as the Taiwanese were fighting for their lives to preserve their republic?”

    I’m sorry, but that isn’t our problem. Why didn’t we stop China from taking Tibet? Should we involve ourselves in every such war that comes along? Think about the drain it would represent in American lives and treasure.

    Incidentally, Joe, you sound more like a neoconservative on this issue than a liberal. It is the neoconservatives that want to promote Democracy all over the world. Carter, in order to recognize China as a trading partner, agreed to not recognize Taiwan.

  67. “I love to watch how Libertarians cloak their incapacity to contend with issues of war and peace behind an above-it-all pose.”

    how so?
    (quick sketch of this libertarian’s positions)
    Iraq = no threat. Terrible mistake. No case for war was made; whatever flimsy case they had fell apart. Would have given benefit of the doubt had WMDs or Threat to US been established in any way, shape, or form (the “CSI level of evidence” was a feeble attempt at poisoning the well by some chickenhawks).
    Yugoslavia = no threat. Minor mistake by comparison to Iraq. Still, a bad idea, IMO.
    Norks = keep talking at table so they’re not so ronery.
    Ditto Iran (thought we missed an opportunity to work with Khatami for the duration of his Presidency).
    Get out of Japan, Europe.
    Shut down NATO (with a big thank you to them)
    Somalia = stoopid idea.
    Haiti = we can discuss this (regional stability, etc)…
    Political pressure plus trade (or trade plus pressure, with trade being very important) are excellent weapons. Big Macs, blue jeans, political pressure = Berlin wall cracking, for example.

    Betcha we could do the same with techno, blue jeans, etc. in Iran. (minaret.org). But you gotta keep ’em talking.

  68. Herb,

    I don’t believe at all in the neo-conservative fantasy that we – by outselves, because of our superior Americian-icity – can go into distant corners of the world and fix them. Even with the best of intentions, that smacks of the noble Belgians marching forth to stamp out slavery in the Congo.

    On the other hand, where the locals have created democracies (the only way democracy can ever be created and sustained), I believe very much in defending that democracy when threatened. That’s why I want to leave somewhere between a brigade and a corps in “the Kurdish area,” why I support having troops in South Korea and Japan, and why I supported our assistance to our NATO allies during the Cold War. There’s nothing neoconservative about that.

    BTW, if getting all Kerry-esque about Taiwan’s legal status is going to allow their democratic republic to exist without the Chinese boot coming down it AND avoid a war, then I can bite my tongue in public.

  69. VM,

    That particular munition was supposed to be targetted at Herb for his “pox on both your houses” comment.

  70. whoops. gotcha!

    but this is a money quote:
    “I don’t believe at all in the neo-conservative fantasy that we – by ourselves, because of our superior Americian-icity – can go into distant corners of the world and fix them”

    TRUE!!!!!

    and Herb was defending the confederacy yesterday, so I don’t think he has a libertarian decoder ring… maybe a watery neocon piercing?

  71. Is Herb really arguing that we should have allowed the Nazis and Japanese to take over the entire world?
    Yeah, I guess life would have gone on just great for the USA after that. Until around, say, 1960, when the Axis decides America is to be the jewel in their crown and cut it in half a la Poland. Then we could have fought back. Oh, and the axis invented nukes ten years ealier, but we didn’t, because we don’t get involved in wars.
    Herb was never born because someone didn’t like the sound of his parents’ last name. I was never born because mine died from fallout poisoning when Manhattan was nuked in ’62.
    But at least we didn’t get invovlved in other peoples’ business.

  72. joe, we don’t have an armored divison parked indefinitely in Kuwait at this time.

  73. Will,

    We had all of their equipment, and then some, parked in Kuwait for years, and enough people to constitute an armored division.

    Let’s ask them what they’d rather have – the Iraq War, or a division stationed in our military area, in the desert. Do you have any doubt at all what the Kuwaitis would answer?

  74. “and Herb was defending the confederacy yesterday, so I don’t think he has a libertarian decoder ring… maybe a watery neocon piercing?”

    Actually, libertarians have come down on both sides of this issue. There was a debate in “Liberty” a while back with libertarians taking opposing sides on the issue.

  75. It doesn’t matter if we had a billion divisions parked in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. A billion divisions that Saddam knew we weren’t going to use to enforce the cease fire agreement might as well be zero.
    At what point did Saddam ever act like he was going to behave because of American millitary strength?
    Everybody loves to quote the “Iraq had no WMD’s” part of the government report, but then they leave out the part where the same report said he was biding his time to jump start the programs as soon as he (and France and Russia) could get the sanctions lifted.
    The threat of force never stopped him, it only made him better at hiding his intentions.

  76. “Is Herb really arguing that we should have allowed the Nazis and Japanese to take over the entire world?”

    Would the Nazis have necessarily taken over the world? As I said, we should have let Germany and the Soviets fight it out. Maybe they would have weakened themselves to the point that neither one would be in any shape to take over the war.

    “Oh, and the axis invented nukes ten years ealier, but we didn’t, because we don’t get involved in wars.”

    I didn’t say I was opposed to defense. I’m only opposed to America’s getting involved in others’ wars. I certainly support the development of nuclear arms for our own defense.”

    “Herb was never born because someone didn’t like the sound of his parents’ last name.”

    My last name is German. Besides, why should I mind if I was never born?

  77. “At what point did Saddam ever act like he was going to behave because of American millitary strength?”

    2002-2003, when the Blix team was able to move freely throughout the country, and was able to accurately and effectively survery the state of Iraq’s WMD programs.

    Or, 1998, when Iraq destroyed its last remaining WMD stocks and demolished its programs in response to Operation Desert Fox.

    “A billion divisions that Saddam knew we weren’t going to use…” Ah, Operation Desert Straw is doing strong, I see.

  78. Is Herb really arguing that we should have allowed the Nazis and Japanese to take over the entire world?

    Are you really arguing that it was good thing that we helped the Stalin controlled Soviet Union take over much of Europe?

  79. “Are you really arguing that it was good thing that we helped the Stalin controlled Soviet Union take over much of Europe?”

    And in defeating Japan, we enabled the Communists to take over China which resulted in the deaths of millions.

  80. People back the winning horse and condemn the losing one. It’s really that simple. If we were making great strides in Iraq, Congress would be falling all over themselves trying to take credit, and it would have a high approval rate with the population.

    When it starts to fail, the fingers start pointing and the souring of the population begins.

    In reality, the Iraq war wouldn’t be an issue if we had won it already, it’s only an issue because we have not.

    When an objective becomes increasingly difficult it is normal to start questioning its value.

    I do find the Democrat Vs. Republican fight funny. It’s partisan hackery. The truth is he/she who holds the big stick of the US military will use it to their advantage, be it Iraq (Bush), Kosovo (Clinton), Iraq (Bush jr)or Dafur (?). Their party is irrelevent. The quality depends on the individual, Bush sr. did a better job than Bush jr. The republican party has nothing to do with it.

    But hey, half of the voting public voted for Bush’s stay the course strategy in 2004. We got what America voted for.

  81. Of course it wasn’t good that the Soviets took over Eastern Europe. We should have put our foot down on that after the war. In my dream scenario, the Russian soldiers would have turned around and killed their own slavemasters after defeating Hitler. However, during the war it was decided that the Soviets represented a lesser threat to the wider world as a whole than the victorious Nazis would have. I think that decision was right.
    Herb, are you arguing that we should have let Japan take over half the world because of Mao’s murderous nature? The Japanese track record suggests their death toll in China would have been similar (Nanking?), but it wouldn’t have stopped with China. The Axis fully intended to defeat and rule the US. And in any case, it was not a foregone conclusion (and certainly not America’s wish) that the Communists were going to rule China after the war.

    Until I started following the Reason forums, I’d always thought WWII was the one time everyone could agree we did the right thing in fighting, and chose the right sides.

    As to your other question Herb, I should think it would matter to you if you were ever born on not (well it wouldn’t be able to matter to you if you hadn’t been born, but you know what I mean). But I wasn’t trying to speak specifically about you, I was trying to paint a larger picture of an America occupied by the Axis because we had waited until they were too strong to defeat. My point about your name was that it sounds Jewish (as does the family name of the German Catholics on my mother’s side), and that would probably be good enough for the neighborhood kapo under Nazi occupation.

  82. Joe,

    So let’s say the US goes into Darfur. America uses its military to enter a religious (and ethnic) war between Christians and Muslims, siding with the Christians. Hmmm…would that matter to anyone? Are we allowed to use the term “blowback” here, or does that only apply to Iraq?
    Explain to me why Darfur would not soon be flooded with Jihadists, in the same way Baghdad was. Hell, at least in the case of Darfur they’d have a point about us fighting for the Infidels against Muslims.
    Explain to me how this would not spill over into neighboring states like Somalia.
    Explain to me how we wouldn’t need to be involved in nation building, since the people of Darfur would necessarily have to establish their own government, given that the Sudanese government wants to, you know, kill them and all. Our role would be to keep the Sudanese muslim fighters at bay, thus making us in effect the Darfurian Border Defense Force while simultaneously fighting an anti-insurgent/terrorist/whatever war against Muslims who aren’t fighting in uniforms with tanks.

    It is absolutely mind boggling that George Clooney types who make all these arguments against Iraq are clamoring for us to encounter the same crap somewhere else, with the one difference that there is no possible benefit to our country.

  83. Why does the Gulf War get a pass? We should have let Saddam keep Kuwait. He would have been happy to sell us oil.

    We could have had a stable ally against Iran. Let him grind up all the Arabs he wants.

    What do we care?

  84. Joe, it wasn’t the people who WOULD man the armored divison, though, and that is what counts, in terms of an iminent credible threat that can alter behavior. You can’t keep an armoured divison crated up, and take it out when you need it. It is a complex organism that needs to be in constant motion, if it is to be used, and it is the prospect of iminent use which makes it a tool which can alter behavior. That is not possible in Kuwait, and all the wishing in the world won’t make it otherwise.

  85. The next time a Democratic administration makes a case for using America’s overwhelming military force to preempt a Milosevic or a mass murderer in Darfur – and history suggests that one will – the Democrats’ own present disingenuous antiwar rhetoric may come back to haunt them

    I take Mr. Hanson was asleep during the Clinton administration?

  86. “So let’s say the US goes into Darfur”

    Will we have soldiers conducting house-to-house forced entry searches for “military aged males” in the middle of the night? Or snipers shooting guys dead for the “crime” of selling guns in an open air market?

    you know, how we did (or tried to do) Iraq.

    White man’s burden or not, there are very few populations on the planet that would tolerate the ham-handed, holier-than-thou brand of “liberation” we bestowed on the Iraqis.

    Best we keep our military home, it’s painfully obvious that they just aren’t up to the task of restoring order to chaos.

  87. “The Axis fully intended to defeat and rule the US.”

    Where’s the evidence for this?

    “Until I started following the Reason forums, I’d always thought WWII was the one time everyone could agree we did the right thing in fighting, and chose the right sides.”

    Read Harry Barnes and Charles Beard.

    “I was trying to paint a larger picture of an America occupied by the Axis because we had waited until they were too strong to defeat.”

    My point is that Germany would be too weak to take us on after being drained from WWII. In the meantime, the US could have built its military to the point that no other country would dare take us on, especially if we had nukes.

  88. Dave,

    Darfur is populated by Muslims. You’re thinking of the Christians and animists in the south, during the war in the 1990s.

    Will Allen,

    Your comment is all fluff. We have had forces stationed in Kuwait for years. We’ve had armored divisions stationed elsewhere for decades. You haven’t provided a single reason why it is “impossible” for us to station an armored division in Kuwait.

    KoWT,

    1. Darfuri society is no “in chaos,” but under attack from the outside.

    2. The Darfuri population is, unlike the Iraqi population, neither hostile to us, nor consumed by internal fights.

    It wouldn’t look like Iraq. It would look like post-war Korea, except the military on the other side of the line is much weaker.

  89. “It is absolutely mind boggling that George Clooney types who make all these arguments against Iraq are clamoring for us to encounter the same crap somewhere else, with the one difference that there is no possible benefit to our country.”

    Neither have a benefit to our country.

  90. “…the same crap somewhere else…”

    Failing to appreciate the the unique conditions in different places and times is a really good way to see your military defeated.

    It must take a lot of effort not to recognize the difference between the assignment of a protective force in Darfur and the attempt to rebuilt mesopotamian political society from the ground up.

  91. Yeah, OK. In other words, joe desperately defends Kosovo because it was Team Blue’s decision. What was that decision? Well it was several things joe condemns about Iraq (failure to gain world consensus, using a substitute coalition of the willing, violation of accepted international law, the use of military force to separate the sides in a civil war, etc.

    Except in Kosovo it was a slight variation (see if you can spot the glaring similarities?

    In Kosovo the U.S. decided to
    1. ignore the United Nations,
    2. using NATO as a substitute coalition of the willing as a substitute for “consensus” it couldn’t reach at the UN which was
    3. in clear violation of its UN charter and accepted international law to accomplish
    4. the desired aim of using international military forces to divide up the “formerly sovereign nation formerly known as Yugoslavia by having the U.S.
    5. take sides during a genocidal conflict that was totally internal to that sovereign nation.

    In Iraq the U.S. decided to
    1. Enforce the United Nations Resolution, by
    2. using the “Coalition of the Willing” as a substitute for trying to reach further consensus in the U.N.
    3. in clear violation of further foot-dragging by certain Security Council nations with a good bit of dirt to hide about their violations of the Oil for Food program (Russian, Germany, France) to accomplish
    4. the desired aim of using international military forces to remove the Tikriti dictatorship that regularly violated the UN-mandated “No Fly Zones” by having the U.S.
    5. take sides against a dictatorship that had proven itself genocidally-inclined to the Kurds (and anyone, really, who opposed them – dictators are often alike in that manner) and by firing on coalition aircraft, ensuring that we were pretty much always at a state of conflict.

    “The Taiwanese have created a stable, functional, liberal democracy. We know that Taiwan, when out from under the boot of Beijing tyranny, can be a viable, decent democracy. The conditions to create and sustain it are already in place.” – joe

    Now replace Taiwan with Hong Kong – how did that assimilation go again? I didn’t see the Brits trying to re-negotiate the Hundred Year Lease at the point of a sword to protect the people of Hong Kong from what is undeniably a brutal regime (at least everyone who has seen footage of Tiananmen Square, that is).

    “That’s not the case in Iraq. In the absense of the Tikriti dictatorship, it fell into civil war. There was neither a local democratic movement worth speakkng of; nor a unified civil society; nor even a unifying popular movement.” – joe

    And what’s worse? Post-dictator civil war or a dictatorship willing to engage in genocide and attack other nations? Neither is pretty, but there is SOME hope that Iraq can become a functioning nation (or, much more likely, a cluster of smaller nations).

    “The problem with the Great Democracy Crusade is that it was conceived, carried out, and supported by people who don’t have the foggiest notion what democracy is, what it needs, or how it works.” – joe

    Really? You think Powell & Rice didn’t get it at all? Or are you just taking the opportunity to throw more anti-Bush tinder on your fire?

    “I’d rather not wait until we’re fighting an enemy that has half the world’s resources to throw at us. Problems are better solved when they’re small.” – joe

    Too late. WAY too late for that, when we’re talking China.

    “I love to watch how Libertarians cloak their incapacity to contend with issues of war and peace behind an above-it-all pose.” – joe

    You’re just pissed because we aren’t on Team Blue, and use that as an excuse to claim that anyone who disagrees with you is on Team Red.

    “Hey, man, I’m too COOL to weigh arguments on their merits!” – joe

    I’m pretty sure that was meant to be sarcasm, but it’s hard to belive considering how often you actually do that.

    “I don’t believe at all in the neo-conservative fantasy that we – by outselves, because of our superior Americian-icity – can go into distant corners of the world and fix them.” – joe

    Except Kosovo, of course. You’ll defend that bad idea to the bitter end in support of Team Blue.

    “On the other hand, where the locals have created democracies (the only way democracy can ever be created and sustained), I believe very much in defending that democracy when threatened. That’s why I want to leave somewhere between a brigade and a corps in “the Kurdish area,” why I support having troops in South Korea and Japan, and why I supported our assistance to our NATO allies during the Cold War. There’s nothing neoconservative about that.” – joe

    Nah, it just SOUNDS exactly like a neo-con fall-back position. Well, that and the fact that turning Iraq into the “nations formerly known as Iraq” just like we did with “the nation formerly known as Yugoslavia” is about the only solution with a shot at working other than “staying the course” until democracy blooms like a desert rose. (By which time the people who started this thing will all probably be sipping ice water in Hell.)

    “I do find the Democrat Vs. Republican fight funny. It’s partisan hackery. The truth is he/she who holds the big stick of the US military will use it to their advantage, be it Iraq (Bush), Kosovo (Clinton), Iraq (Bush jr)or Dafur (?). Their party is irrelevent. The quality depends on the individual, Bush sr. did a better job than Bush jr. The republican party has nothing to do with it.” – TrickyVic

    Perfect analysis.

    “It is absolutely mind boggling that George Clooney types who make all these arguments against Iraq are clamoring for us to encounter the same crap somewhere else, with the one difference that there is no possible benefit to our country.” – joe

    That’s just it, exactly. The U.S. is only wrong in intervening if it in some way meshes with national interest.

    “Best we keep our military home, it’s painfully obvious that they just aren’t up to the task of restoring order to chaos.” –

    “Failing to appreciate the the unique conditions in different places and times is a really good way to see your military defeated.” – joe

    Failing to see the similarities has the same result even more often – it’s called failing to learn the lessons of history. I’m not saying that’s you’re problem joe, you seem a keen student of history. But using history as proof of one’s pet political theories is a sad misuse of vast stores of historical information.

    “It must take a lot of effort not to recognize the difference between the assignment of a protective force in Darfur and the attempt to rebuilt mesopotamian political society from the ground up.” – joe

    Catsup, ketchup. Or to quote you: “Even with the best of intentions, that smacks of the noble Belgians marching forth to stamp out slavery in the Congo.” In other words, it’s only a good idea to intervene when Team Blue decides that “because of our superior Americian-icity” to “go into distant corners of the world and fix them.” The sad thing is that you really believe that it’s only an insane act of hubris when Team Red does it.

    This in no way means that I think that Team Red is right on Iraq, but I do think it means joe is full of BS, a symptom of “PBS” (Partisan Blinders Syndrome), not to be mistaken with the public TV channel.

  92. “Best we keep our military home, it’s painfully obvious that they just aren’t up to the task of restoring order to chaos.” – KOWT

    I meant to respond to this above.

    While I agree it’s frequently better to keep the military of any given nation – including the U.S. – within its own borders, the reality is that this rarely occurs, even in a country with as powerful an anti-empire instinct as the U.S.

    I think the U.S. military usually does a good job of restoring order to chaos. There are plenty (too many, in fact) examples of that in the Caribbean and Latin America, not to mention Hawaii, the Western states, the Phillipines, Japan, Korea, Germany (and much of Europe).

    The difference in this case is that the U.S. military is being hampered in much the same way it was in Vietnam, with the accordant pointless expenditure of money that accompanied that particular failure.

    As most students of history will tell you, Vietnam wasn’t lost by military action, but by political maneuvering for political reasons on the homefront… Where a lot of the 4GW notions about warfare were born, in fact.

    An eerily similar echo can be found in the debate about Iraq, where in most of the other examples given, the military mostly had a free hand. (Well, Korea did involve firing MacArthur – which might explain why N. Korea currently exists?)

  93. “”In Iraq the U.S. decided to
    1. Enforce the United Nations Resolution, by
    2. using the “Coalition of the Willing” as a substitute for trying to reach further consensus in the U.N.
    3. in clear violation of further foot-dragging by certain Security Council nations with a good bit of dirt to hide about their violations of the Oil for Food program (Russian, Germany, France) to accomplish
    4. the desired aim of using international military forces to remove the Tikriti dictatorship that regularly violated the UN-mandated “No Fly Zones” by having the U.S.
    5. take sides against a dictatorship that had proven itself genocidally-inclined to the Kurds (and anyone, really, who opposed them – dictators are often alike in that manner) and by firing on coalition aircraft, ensuring that we were pretty much always at a state of conflict.”””

    The above is not the Bush claimed therefore was not HIS reason for doing it. Bush went through great lengths, many questionable, to convince America it was for “other” reasons.

    There was a reason the Bush admin used the “other” reasons. I think it’s based in the concept that if the UN declares a ceasefire only the UN can approve to re-enter, which they did not. One member can not act unilaterally to enforce a decision the group does not want to enforce. Bush knew this and had to look elsewhere for an excuse. He found a few that he liked.

    When Bush knew he couldn’t get the votes in the UN to end the ceasefire due to Iraq’s actions, he clearly decided to find a reason that would work and the reason did not have to be consistant! Bush has given about a half dozen reasons that he thinks people will buy. If the violation of 1442 was a good enough reason, why not stick to it?

    For #3 you should included the US since a US buisnessman was recently convicted in the oil for profit scheme. BTW I don’t think there is anything in res 1442 that refers to ending the ceasefire due to corrupt business men.

    If Jesus was really talking to Bush, I think he would have said, “leave unto the UN what is the UN’s.

  94. If there was any plausible chance of rob considering the merits of what I write, I’d be tempted to explain where his analysis goes flat.

    But the chances of getting anything more substnative than “You’re only saying that because you’re a Democrat” are approaching zero. I’ll leave to others.

    I mean, seriously, you could pretend to have understood the point about performing a security mission vs. nation building.

  95. Spoken like a true coward, joe. You’ve got time to post a bunch of nonsense but not respond to it being challenged. At least you’re getting smarter – you know when your line of argument has been shown for what it really is.

    “I mean, seriously, you could pretend to have understood the point about performing a security mission vs. nation building.” – joe

    I do understand your point – in fact, I’ve taken entire military courses on MOOTW (Military Operations Other Than War). I even think taht your distinciont ALMOST makes sense.

    But the bottom line is that sending the U.S. military in ANYWHERE is almost always going to be messy – REALLY messy. Regardless of whether the stated mission is one that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside (“security mission”) or one that makes you gasp in feigned outrage at the hubris of the very notion (“nation building”).

    Frankly, I think it’s funny that of all the points of yours that I challenged, you only have a complaint about the short shrift I give your “security mission vs. nation building” line. Your silence on the pummeling you took on the others is pretty deafening.

  96. TrickyVic – Surely, you can do better than that…

    “The above is not the Bush claimed therefore was not HIS reason for doing it. Bush went through great lengths, many questionable, to convince America it was for ‘other’ reasons.” – TrickyVic

    Wrong. What you said may have some “truthiness” to it, but it’s not actually true.

    Actually, the whole slew of reasons (or rationalizations, if you wish) that Bush used were in the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq that he requested from Congress:

    “…The Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 (Public law 107-243, 116 Stat. 1497-1502) was a law passed by the United States Congress authorizing what was soon to become the Iraq War. The authorization was sought by President George W. Bush. Introduced as H.J.Res. 114, it passed the House on October 10, 2002 by a vote of 296-133, and by the Senate on October 11 by a vote of 77-23. It was signed into law by President Bush on October 16.

    The resolution cited many factors to justify action:

    – Iraq’s noncompliance with the conditions of the 1991 cease fire, including interference with weapons inspectors
    – Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction, and programs to develop such weapons, posed a “threat to the national security of the United States and international peace and security in the Persian Gulf region”
    – Iraq’s ‘brutal repression of its civilian population’
    – Iraq’s ‘capability and willingness to use weapons of mass destruction against other nations and its own people’
    – Iraq’s hostility towards the United States as demonstrated by the 1993 assassination attempt of former President George H. W. Bush, and firing on coalition aircraft enforcing the no-fly zones following the 1991 Gulf War
    Members of al-Qaida were ‘known to be in Iraq’
    Iraq’s ‘continu[ing] to aid and harbor other international terrorist organizations,’ including anti-United States terrorist organizations
    – Fear that Iraq would provide weapons of mass destruction to terrorists for use against the United States
    – The efforts by the Congress and the President to fight the 9/11 terrorists and those who aided or harbored them
    – The authorization by the Constitution and the Congress for the President to fight anti-United States terrorism

    The Resolution required President Bush’s diplomatic efforts at the UN Security Council to ‘obtain prompt and decisive action by the Security Council to ensure that Iraq abandons its strategy of delay, evasion, and noncompliance and promptly and strictly complies with all relevant Security Council resolutions.’ It authorized the United States to use military force to ‘defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions regarding Iraq.'” (From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Authorization_for_Use_of_Military_Force_Against_Iraq_Resolution_of_2002)

    I’m pretty familiar with this Wiki entry, because I just finished explaing to joe that a 58% majority WITHIN a political party doesn’t quite make the statement he believes it does.

    “There was a reason the Bush admin used the ‘other’ reasons. I think it’s based in the concept that if the UN declares a ceasefire only the UN can approve to re-enter, which they did not. One member can not act unilaterally to enforce a decision the group does not want to enforce. Bush knew this and had to look elsewhere for an excuse. He found a few that he liked.” – TrickyVic

    I don’t know. I don’t think I’d waste my time trying to read Bush’s mind and attributing motives that can’t be proven.

    “When Bush knew he couldn’t get the votes in the UN to end the ceasefire due to Iraq’s actions, he clearly decided to find a reason that would work and the reason did not have to be consistant! Bush has given about a half dozen reasons that he thinks people will buy. If the violation of 1442 was a good enough reason, why not stick to it?” – TrickyVic

    Gee, and it has that whole “logical reasoning thing” going for it…

    “For #3 you should included the US since a US buisnessman was recently convicted in the oil for profit scheme. BTW I don’t think there is anything in res 1442 that refers to ending the ceasefire due to corrupt business men.” – TrickyVic

    There’s a big difference between a U.S. businessman, and actual government figures. That’s why when people complain about Microsoft they don’t name the President in their law-suit, while when their beef is with the gov’t, they often do. Trying to brush off the fact that the Oil For Food Program was being milked by those in the afore-mentionsed governments and those connected to the governments of those countries, is like trying to claim the U.S. gov’t is at fault for Ford Motor Corp.’s bottom line being in the toilet.

    “If Jesus was really talking to Bush, I think he would have said, ‘leave unto the UN what is the UN’s.'” – TrickyVic

    Huh? I think I was at least understanding you up until this point. I’m guessing it’s an ad hom against Bush of some sort…

  97. Rob-

    The “George Clooney types” quote was mine, not Joe’s.
    I would like to hear Joe answer it though. Why should we go into Darfur? The only reason seems to be because innocent people are being purposely killed by a tyrannical government. That factor applied at least as much, if not far more, in Iraq. Yet nobody on the left seemed to give a shit. Or rather, “I understand Saddam is a bad guy, but oppose anything that would stop him, and don’t for get the REAL dictaor is BUSH BUSHY BUSHIDDY BUSH BUSH BUSH!!!!!!!!”

    Herb-

    What evidence is there that the Axis intended to conquer America? Well they’d divided the US into occupation zones and made plans for who would be military governor of each region. Pretty much clinches it. Plus, you’re talking about two empire-building nations that engaged in conqest for conquest’s sake with a morality not seen since the ancient world. Even the conquest of the New World or the growth of the British Empire at least had pretensions (some more sincere than others) of bringing something good to the conquered. The Axis were pretty clear on the fact that those deemed lesser races were going to be enslaved for eternity, if they were allowed to live at all. Do you think they were going to take over the whole planet, ending with Hawaii, Bermuda, Mexico, and Canda then say “Good show guys. Well, our work here is done, time to go home”?

    I also have to challenge your notion of a Nazi Germany “weakened” by WWII. They were certainly weakened by losing WWII, but you’re talking about them winning it. Access to massively greater resources, an un-bombed and stronger than ever industrial base, slave armies of the conquered millions, control of all oil fields outside the USA, and the fact that they would effectively own the world’s oceans along with the Japanese does not add up to “weakened”. And even the one thing you are counting on to weaken them, war with the USSR, would have been a very different battle with no supplies coming up the Volga (Stalingrad was hard fought for a reason).
    Think of Alexander’s conquest of the known world. He didn’t take over the world with his band of Macedonians. He took over the Macedonian’s neighbors, and then they together took over those further east, and then they together took over those further east, etc etc etc. All that fighting certainly should have “weakened” his original army, yet he kept growing stronger.

  98. Yes, rob, the only reason anyone would blow your loonie-toons ass off is because of your intimidating intellect.

    BTW, can you help me with a math problem? What’s 100-58?

  99. Dave,

    There are three relevant differences between a mission to stop the genocide in Sudan and a mission to replace the government in Iraq.

    First is the scale of the problem. Yes, Saddam’s government was killing people in 2003, but nowhere near the scale of the cleansing that’s going on in Darfur.

    Second is the scope and difficulty of the mission. It would take only a few thousand troops and a minimal air presence to stop the Janjaweed cold. In Iraq, on the other hand, even the best case secario involved hundreds of thousands of American troops to occupy and pacify the country.

    You put these together, and you’ve got a clear cost-benefit advantage for the Darfur mission.

    Then, third, there is the likelihood of success, which is much higher in Darfur than in Iraq for many reasons. The most important being, the mission in Darfur is a straightforward military mission – put a stop to the Janjaweed’s depredations, throw up a security cordon between the Darfuris and their tormentors. As we are doing this, our troops are operating among and with the support of a friendly populace that supports our presence. In Iraq, success would require us to take over the operations of the government, competently administre them for years, while completely reconstrucing the country’s political culture, in an atmosphere of popular hostility towards our troops and sectarian hostility among the Iraqis themselves.

    Darfur is the smarter move.

  100. “Yes, rob, the only reason anyone would blow your loonie-toons ass off is because of your intimidating intellect.” – joe

    Ad hominem attacks are the last resort of weak minds. Anyone reading your last post would notice that’s all your recent posts are – all fluff, no substance.

    “BTW, can you help me with a math problem? What’s 100-58?” – joe

    42.

    58 is still only 8 points higher than 50% of all of your guys, though. It’s amazing how you cling to this belief that 58 is some overwhelming majority within the Democratic Party.

    “Second is the scope and difficulty of the mission. It would take only a few thousand troops and a minimal air presence to stop the Janjaweed cold.” – joe

    Uh-huh… And you know this is all it would take from your first-hand experience with previous similar operations in Africa, right? Or is it merely your extensive military background and the many successful operations you’ve led? Your Lawrence of Arabia arm-chair general BS is downright amusing.

    “Then, third, there is the likelihood of success, which is much higher in Darfur than in Iraq for many reasons.”

    Like in Somalia, right joe?

    “The most important being, the mission in Darfur is a straightforward military mission – put a stop to the Janjaweed’s depredations, throw up a security cordon between the Darfuris and their tormentors.” – joe

    There’s never been such a thing in history as a “straightforward military mission.” Your confidence in your predictions is downright precious, though.

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