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[P]
Five Ways to Lose an Argument on Iraq

By dachshund in Op-Ed
Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 11:45:34 PM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)
Politics

Having read a number of the recent K5 articles on the Iraq debate, as well as the countless responses they've generated, I felt compelled to contribute my take: not on the war or preparations for war, but on the problems with many of the arguments against it.


Before I begin, let me state clearly that I am opposed to the military actions that are apparently being advocated by the Bush administration, and have a great deal of sympathy with those who oppose such a war. Despite myself, however, I've found myself recoiling from some of the clumsier or less tenable points made by K5 contributors. In fact, I've become concerned that these arguments are actually becoming counterproductive, forcing people- through a lethal a combination of inflexibility and poor logic- into supporting the very action the posters are looking to prevent.

So rather than go into my own arguments against military action in Iraq, I've decided to post a simple five-point critique detailing some of the most critical flaws I've observed. Some will point out that this is a lot easier than posting my own opinions, and those people aren't being entirely unfair. However, at the moment, I feel that this is the most useful contribution I can make to the discussion.

(It's worth noting here that some people may feel that the issue is moot, with the news of Iraq's apparent willingness to accept weapons inspectors back into the country. It's my opinion that this will at best provide a slight delay in the Administration's plans, so I'm simply going to ignore it until we have more information one way or the other.)

So from my observations, here are the five best ways to lose an argument on the subject of Iraq:

1. Shoot yourself in the foot by insisting that there's never any justification for invading a sovereign nation.

This is the argument that most troubles me, especially when it comes from relatively liberal people like myself. Over the past century, we've heard this sort of thing from isolationist conservatives, people who're just as happy to let the rest of the world fall apart because it's "not their business" (the chic, euphemistic way of saying this is by reverently invoking the abstract principle of "national sovereignty".)

The fact is, "national sovereignty" is an abstract concept that has no more inherent moral value than the notion of the divine right of kings. It is, at best, a convenient way to draw lines between groups of people; lines that sometimes represent important underlying differences, and sometimes represent nothing more than a confluence of power and circumstance. It's a combination of the bizarre reverence for this principle and the "somebody else's problem" attitude that people are inclined toward, that helps us to abdicate responsibility for the horrible deaths and enslavement of millions of our fellow human beings.

Now mind you, there's nothing wrong with balancing the costs of an intervention against the potential benefits. Soldiers and civilians should never be placed at risk if it's not likely that a clearly defined, achievable goal can be obtained without great loss of life. Sometimes intervention can actually cause more trouble than we could ever hope to repair-- as will be the case, I believe, in Iraq. These are all perfectly legitimate concerns about the war on Iraq, and are in fact some of the major unaddressed concerns that inform my own opposition. But any argument that begins with a blanket assumption that foreign intervention is somehow naturally immoral, ends there.

2. Quote Scott Ritter as a definitive source of accurate information.

I've read a number of wishful editorials vaguely referencing "weapons inspectors" who argue that Iraq does not and could not actually possess the weapons of mass destruction that the administration claims they do. Aside from the fact that not a single UN weapon inspector has had an opportunity to conduct serious investigations in the past 5 years, this sort statement is misleading because it fails to properly attribute these claims to the single high-profile inspector from whom most editorialists are drawing them: Scott Ritter.

From after the Gulf War to 1998, Ritter was the chief inspector of the United Nations Special Commission to disarm Iraq (UNSCOM). During his tenure in that position, Ritter worked tirelessly to discover Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction, a mission that led to the Iraqi government accusing him of spying, and eventually to the more serious confrontation that resulted in the end of UN weapons inspections in Iraq. Even after he left the organization, Ritter campaigned intensely for reform of the weapons inspections, charging that they weren't doing enough to actually find Saddam's deadly weapons. In 1998, he warned Senate committees that "Iraq will be able to reconstitute the entirety of its former nuclear, chemical and ballistic missile delivery system capabilities within a period of six months." And that same year, he was quoted by the New Republic, as saying, "Even today, Iraq is not nearly disarmed."

Because of these strong statements, his 1999 publication of "Endgame: Solving the Iraq Problem -- Once and for All" left a lot of people scratching their heads. In that book, he surprised Washington by arguing that Iraq was no longer a military threat, and should, in fact, be the focus of a major rebuilding plan. The next year, Ritter was invited back to Iraq by his former adversary, Saddam Hussein, an extremely unusual situation given the trouble Ritter had previously caused for the dictator. Ritter, in interviews, charges that the inspection system itself was not about searching for weapons, but actually about probing Saddam's defenses. Although this charge may have merit, it does little to explain the obvious conflict between the statements he made to the Senate in 1998, and what he says in his book. Unfortunately, the best verdict we can offer on Ritter's testimony is that it's questionable.

There are those who will point out that it should fall to the Administration to offer proof of Saddam's capabilities, rather than placing that burden on Iraq's defenders. And those people are quite right. Not because Saddam, a man who has already violated the conditions of his surrender by throwing inspectors out of the country, has some inherent right to due process. They're right because the American people deserve due process and accurate information before undertaking a serious, deadly and expensive war such as the one that the Bush administration proposes. And to insist on this is, I believe, is a far more effective way to make the case than to trustingly hitch the credibility of your argument to the dubious testimony of Scott Ritter.

3. Argue that we have nothing to fear from Saddam's weapons

If (and I stress the if) it is true that Saddam's weapons programs are as advanced as the Administration claims they are, there are certainly reasons to be concerned. Although I am inclined to find it doubtful that Saddam will use a nuclear weapon on one of his nearer neighbors, it is at least possible that he will provide nuclear and/or chemical weaponry to terrorists who could then use it against the US or Israel. This scenario is fairly unlikely given the overwhelming risk that such an act would pose to the dictator; however, dictators are human beings and are therefore much less predictable other types of government. Still, this scenario is certainly at the lower end of probability, and that needs to be balanced against the potential risks of going to war against Iraq.

What is more convincing is the notion that Saddam, once armed with nuclear capability, would have a sort of "trump card" to protect himself while he undertakes riskier actions against his own people and his neighbors. Because Saddam has a history of doing very unpleasant things, and because I don't accept the argument that there will never be a compelling reason why we might need to fight Iraq (see #1 above), this is a major concern. Allowing Saddam to get the bomb so significantly increases the potential costs of going to some later, justified war against Saddam, that it might alone be enough to tip the balance in favor of war. I realize that this conclusion is certainly controversial, and that a lot of people have and will disagree with it.

I'm going to depart radically from the stated purpose of this diatribe to mention the unsupportable inverse of argument #3, which is that we need to be scared silly over Saddam's weapons. I mentioned above that I find it hard to imagine Saddam using a nuclear weapon against one of his neighbors, and here's why: In the case of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, Saddam has more to gain by using his conventional military strength, as he did a dozen years ago than by destroying those nations. The only thing that currently stands in his way is the US's willingness to protect those countries with its own forces, and it's reasonable to assume that this protection extends to the US's own nuclear umbrella, guaranteeing him a fairly high probability of retaliation-in-kind. It's uncertain whether Saddam would try to use a nuclear weapon against Iran, but given that he has not recently been in active conflict with that nation, it seems like a long shot at best.

Israel poses a slightly different problem, and it's not hard to imagine Saddam considering the use of nuclear weapons on Israel, considering that he has demonstrated a willingness to fire on that country in the past. The problem with this scenario is twofold: 1) he would suffer an even more devastating retaliation from Israel if he ever made such a move, and 2) the nuclear weapons Saddam is likely to develop--if he does develop them--probably won't be small enough to mount on the end of a Scud. This would force him to consider some alternate delivery platform, placing both Saddam and a very precious weapon at an enormous amount of risk.

4. But we didn't object when Pakistan and India got the bomb, and they're more likely to use it than Saddam is. Why don't we change their regimes?

It is certainly true- though speculative- that nations like India and Pakistan (and certainly the US and USSR) have appeared closer to the use of nuclear weapons (or at least, some sort of deadly confrontation) than Iraq has been, or may ever be.

Without comparing all of the differences in threat-levels and military costs, the problem with this argument is that it's an inflexible attempt to paint fundamentally different situations with the same brush, and this immediately sets off many people's bullshit alarms. India and Pakistan (and the US and USSR, for that matter) are very different nations than Iraq. While India and Pakistan have demonstrated a fairly deep-seated mutual distrust that has survived a number of different governments, many of Iraq's recent military actions were not necessarily reflective of the will of the Iraqi people. If the US army, in an act of brazen stupidity, charged into India and Pakistan today, it would likely have a very difficult job forcefully reducing the tensions between those two nations, no matter how many regimes it displaced (although it is possible that those two nations would at least temporarily unite in their mutual antipathy toward the US.)

The fact of the matter is that if regime-change were safe, affordable, and had no long-term consequences, there probably wouldn't be a supportable argument against doing so in Iraq. Most likely it really would lead to a safer, more peaceful region, and prevent the deaths of millions of Iraqis. What potential dissenters need to focus on is that regime-change is virtually guaranteed not to be safe, affordable, or without enormous consequences (both in the short and long-term.)

5. Everything the US does is bad

I'm stating that one with a little bit more force than it's usually delivered with. However, there is a certain faction who believes that the US does immoral, bad things no matter what the actual details of the situation. While there is certainly an argument to be made that the US's military adventurism has done, in many cases, more harm than good, this doesn't necessarily make every single use of US force wrong.

It does mean that we, the American people, should question and debate the justification for every single use of force. Unfortunately, stamping the issue closed on the basis of such a simplistic philosophy doesn't acheive this goal. It simply removes you from the debate.

Conclusion

My intentions in posting this discussion are not to shut anyone up or insult their views. However, I am convinced that a rational, palatable defense is the only way that we can avoid making a very poor decision that will have consequences well beyond this decade.

Sources:

Salon magazine interview with Scott Ritter, 03/2000

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Five Ways to Lose an Argument on Iraq | 178 comments (123 topical, 55 editorial, 0 hidden)
Good Article. (3.58 / 12) (#10)
by Syntax on Wed Sep 18, 2002 at 07:13:30 PM EST

Good Article, but can you add why _you_ are still opposed to such a war?

Noooo Nooooo Noooo (4.20 / 5) (#55)
by mech9t8 on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 02:11:05 AM EST

You have totally missed the beauty of this article. ;)

It just takes 5 points and discusses them. They're simple, they're well documented, and well argued. They can be discussed without people risking there whole political/ideological views - so that people can read this and not get angry, so that people can discuss this and compromise without having to admit that their overall worldview is "wrong". It's someone who believes one way taking a serious look at the arguments of the other side.

In short, it's a way to discuss a flame-baiting topic without baiting flames. If he ruined it by bringing up the whole "invading Iraq is wrong here's why", the mindless bickering would start up immediately.

The best way to discuss something is to find points of common agreement. This article attempts to that admirably, and I wish there were far more articles like this out there...

--
IMHO
[ Parent ]

No Really? (none / 0) (#56)
by Syntax on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 03:20:48 AM EST

Im not stupid. I was taking a shot in the dark in hopes the author would confirm his beliefs...

[ Parent ]
Best way... (3.71 / 14) (#21)
by DeadBaby on Wed Sep 18, 2002 at 09:20:53 PM EST

This little statement/question tends to end things pretty quickly in my Iraq debates:

"If we have so much proof, why are we being told to just shut up and do what the President tells us? If thousands of lives are at stake, isn't waiting 2 or 3 more months and having HARD proof pretty damn prudent? I don't know about you but a president who didn't win the popular vote, barely won the election and has very little foreign policy experience telling me not to worry my pretty little head about evidence scares the hell out of me."

"Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity -- in all this vastness -- there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us." - Carl Sagan

I think that's cause they immediately realize (2.33 / 6) (#25)
by RyoCokey on Wed Sep 18, 2002 at 09:49:29 PM EST

...your grasp of the situation is insufficient to even bother arguing with you.



"Your analysis is flawed, your assessment is unsubstantiated and illogical. But hey, I voted +1 anyway." - Thelizman (K5 moderation in action)
[ Parent ]
That's because you've made it clear (4.00 / 4) (#54)
by mech9t8 on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 02:09:11 AM EST

that you are completely uninterested in discussion or compromise, and if they want to "win" the debate they'd have to debate you all the way back Gore/Bush election fraud debate.  No one's got the patience to do that (except other people just like you who I'm sure have come up with equally rote-memorization arguments on why is essential that Iraq must be invaded and why Bush won fair and square).

If you want to actually have a reasonable discussion, you gotta sound reasonable yourself.  By gratuitously bringing up crap like the election thing, you're immediately polarizing the discussion and no one intelligent is going to have any interest in debating with you...

--
IMHO
[ Parent ]

A well-written political story: +1FP (4.12 / 33) (#26)
by arthurpsmith on Wed Sep 18, 2002 at 09:55:58 PM EST

Some people here seem to be opposed to political discussion, and have been actively trying to stifle it the last few days. The thing I love about k5, and that brought me here in the first place, are the long, thoughtful articles by people from all over the world, who often have a very different perspective than you hear from any regular news source. You'll be lucky to find even one article as intelligent as this one in any newspaper or newsmagazine these days, and forget about TV journalism. As an example, I've been trying to pay attention to this business, but this is the first time I've seen a detailed balanced explanation of Scott Ritter's background and why his testimony might be questionable (what I've heard elsewhere could mostly be characterized as ad hominem).

It's often said that if you're not interested in political discussion, don't read the articles. But I think the problem is worse than that. Do you people live in a democracy? Then it's absolutely vital that you spend a good portion of your time finding out what's going on in the world, so your vote will be one based on facts, not fantasy.

People have likened the political discussions here to "talk radio". Somehow, I don't see any comparison. When people talk, there's no way to go back and check what they said - they can (and do) spout off the most ridiculous lies and rhetoric, and callers who challenge them are likely to be cut off before they have a chance to say a full sentence. "Talk radio" is a medium for narcissists and their sycophants. K5 is at the complete opposite end of the spectrum - and it's VERY important that our politics receive intelligent discussion, not just mindless blab.

So, keep up the great political posts - it's what I'm here for!!!

Energy - our most critical problem; the solution may be in space.


Sombody gave this a zero rating??? (2.00 / 3) (#73)
by arthurpsmith on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 09:15:56 AM EST

Let's see - no swear-words, no ad hominem attacks, just an opinion strongly worded. Hmmm, must be something we need to suppress here on k5...

Energy - our most critical problem; the solution may be in space.


[ Parent ]
I think what has most of us annoyed... (none / 0) (#82)
by darkskyes on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 11:57:44 AM EST

is the constant stating and restating of the same things over and over. As has been pointed out in another waiting story, if you haven't swayed your opponent by now, you ain't gonna.

Anyway, as you correctly point out this thing is democratic, and as long as a majority of the voters vote them up, we'll keep seeing whatever political claptrap comes across, whether good for discussion or not.

Personal note: I'm enjoying the mudslinging.

-"Your disadvantage is that you will always, always be outnumbered, and ...your enemy will learn more about you, how to fight you, and those changes will be put into effect instantly." -Mazer Rackham
[ Parent ]

well, you really don't have to read it... (none / 0) (#86)
by arthurpsmith on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 01:25:39 PM EST

but I've been swayed on numerous political topics by finding out new information - in several cases from comments on k5 articles. It's simply wrong to assume that everybody is set in their ways and will never change. That's a fatalistic assumption that is totally antithetical to real democracy.

Energy - our most critical problem; the solution may be in space.


[ Parent ]
Alternative (5.00 / 1) (#111)
by Silent Chris on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 09:02:09 AM EST

Do you people live in a democracy? Then it's absolutely vital that you spend a good portion of your time finding out what's going on in the world, so your vote will be one based on facts, not fantasy.

There is an alternative which I engage in: don't vote.  I don't trust any of the major players who run, and I don't abide by their views.  For those who say "well then, vote for somebody in a write in vote", I personally argue that my not voting, that extra tick mark of a voter not showing up (which seems to worry politicians so much) is actually more powerful than writing down a candidate no one has ever heard of.

People describe votes for anyone other than the two major parties as "throw-away votes".  I cast a true "throw-away vote": I'm so disenfranchised with the system that I actively ignore taking part in it.  

The government knows this is a problem, and are viewing it as voter apathy, which is incorrect.  We non-voters are usually very adament about our intentions, and not voting is how we express our viewpoints.

[ Parent ]

Silly rabbit (none / 0) (#117)
by dachshund on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 10:21:10 AM EST

The government knows this is a problem, and are viewing it as voter apathy, which is incorrect. We non-voters are usually very adament about our intentions, and not voting is how we express our viewpoints.

The government doesn't see this as a problem. The government wants to seem like it sees this as a problem. The truth is, most entrenched politicians benefit from people not voting. You don't think that various parties' efforts to reduce voter turnout were for nothing, do you?

[ Parent ]

A terrible alternative (none / 0) (#126)
by arthurpsmith on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 11:17:15 AM EST

Your "throw-away vote" does absolutely nothing to change the world. Sure we shouldn't trust any of the major players - but they need every vote they can get and if you communicate to them what you care about, and if you can get enough of your fellow constituents to agree with you (sign a petition, write a letter, meet with your congressman!) it really can make a difference. I met with my congressman last month to express my views on some things I'm passionate about. It's not that hard to call up their office and get an appointment...

Energy - our most critical problem; the solution may be in space.


[ Parent ]
None of your votes count. This guy is right. (5.00 / 1) (#143)
by mingofmongo on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 02:42:19 PM EST

For decades, the US villified the USSR (a representative democracy) saying that it isn't really a vote if there's only one candidate to choose from. While here in the US, there's two! WWOOOW!!! That's SO much better. I feel so FREE now.

Who chooses Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum? Systems totaly outside the legal electoral process. That means not you. Yes you can take part, wave a flag, wear a button, write letters, but your vote is meaningless.

And suppose for just a minute that the basic process wasn't a joke. Would your vote count then? No. Millions of dollars are spent in advertising each year to "Get the vote out." What this means is that all the people who don't care enough to learn anything about the issues and candidates, are encouraged to vote anyway, based on what the commercials tell them. And that means you will always be outnumbered by people that have no idea what they are doing.

To make elections work, you need an informed populace and a choice. We in the US have neither. Elections are just window dressing to give us the illusion of democracy. I'm not sure it is possible to have a democracy larger than a small town for longer than 10 years.

And don't tell me I get the government I deserve. That's stupid. I get the government that the average American deserves, and by that yardstick, they don't seem to deserve much. No amount of pissing in the ocean will turn it yellow.

"What they don't seem to get is that the key to living the good life is to avoid that brass ring like the fucking plague."
--The Onion
[ Parent ]

-1, political. (1.52 / 21) (#27)
by BinaryTree on Wed Sep 18, 2002 at 09:59:21 PM EST

And besides the topic matter, it just plain sucks. I'd -2 it if I could.

There is no argument about Iraq (4.35 / 14) (#30)
by kholmes on Wed Sep 18, 2002 at 10:13:49 PM EST

except between spectators. Even Ritter can be called a spectator now.

All we see is Bush saying how there's nothing Iraq can do to prevent an attack and Congress mostly agreeing with him.

We're just left with trying to guess Bush's intentions.

And that is the problem I have.

If you treat people as most people treat things and treat things as most people treat people, you might be a Randian.

Problems of solo high-profile dissenters (5.00 / 1) (#104)
by thebrix on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 07:30:38 AM EST

Because of the BBC's charter obligation (implying the Producer's Guidelines) to balance news stories, and his being very high-profile, he has become very obvious there. I can remember at least half a dozen news stories in the past couple of weeks on one radio station which quoted him ...

Whether he is right or wrong is another matter, but that he has become ever-present is a problem; surely there are other (former) weapons inspectors, or others closely aligned with the process, willing to speak out?

Unfortunately the series of The Moral Maze in which there was a debate on Iraq, and where he was questioned fiercely and didn't come off too well as I remember, is offline :/

[ Parent ]

You don't need to guess. Just read those stupid (5.00 / 1) (#142)
by mingofmongo on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 02:19:15 PM EST

"Left Behind' books. W does.

"What they don't seem to get is that the key to living the good life is to avoid that brass ring like the fucking plague."
--The Onion
[ Parent ]

Left Behind Books? (none / 0) (#153)
by syncradan on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 10:18:31 PM EST

What are these Left Behind books, if you please?

[ Parent ]
refutations (4.28 / 28) (#33)
by martingale on Wed Sep 18, 2002 at 10:46:38 PM EST

Since I've used some of the arguments you purport to discredit, I guess I have to reply...
1. Shoot yourself in the foot by insisting that there's never any justification for invading a sovereign nation.
Your argument boils down to stating that 1) "national sovereignty" is an abstract concept which has no place in international relations, and 2) that when a country such as the US wants to attack Iraq, the latter has no case for defense (you say that any debate on the matter needs to be only for the benefit of US citizens).

This concept you are peddling is called international anarchy, and it has existed historically until essentially last century, when the League of Nations, and later the United Nations were invented to bring order in international relations.

If you read the UN charter, you will find that it introduces certain rules designed to bring international relations into a framework somewhat similar to the legal framework of many nations.

"national sovereignty" is the idea that simply because someone wants to hit you on the nose is not sufficient reason to let him. Centuries of warfare without the benefit of international law support this idea, that unless every nation has a baseline right to be left alone, called "national sovereignty", the result is continual tension erupting in endless wars.

The idea that the US can act in its own interest against Iraq, without substantial provocation from Iraq, which is what you are supporting, goes blatantly against the UN charter. See my other comment.

I'll summarize my answer to your first point thus: At the moment, you can either support anarchy or the UN. If you support anarchy, all your points are valid. If you support the UN, your points are blatantly illegal. Your choice.

2. Quote Scott Ritter as a definitive source of accurate information.
I have little to say about this. As a UN inspector, he argued one way, and afterwards, he argued another. His statements are just fodder for supporting or discrediting your third point.

3. Argue that we have nothing to fear from Saddam's weapons
Your argument against this statement is that 1) Saddam is human, so might push the nuclear button if cornered. 2) If Iraq has nuclear weapons, it will be invincible, since it cannot be attacked but is able to attack any neighbour it chooses. Even you don't quite believe in this and you offer a converse of sorts, that Iraq's neighbours benefit from the same invulnerability through the US nuclear weapons protection. 3) Iraq's current leader hates Israel, and that's a sufficient reason for a possible MAD nuclear attack.

Nowhere do you even suggest that Iraq's weapons might be used directly against the United States, which I presume the "we" is all about. If the "we" is the international community rather than the US, then this whole line of discussion has no relevance to whether the US can unilaterally attack Iraq. So I'll assume the "we" is the United States, which according to your anarchic world view can do as it pleases on a whim.

You seem to think that acting on a whim, provided it is in the interest of the citizens of the US, can be done with impunity. I suppose the impunity comes from the nuclear umbrella which confers invulnerability, as you've argued would happen with Iraq. I can think of dozens of escalation scenarios leading to a third world war with the US fighting on several fronts at the same time. But rather than playing the armchair general, let me ask you how sabotage and terrorism on US soil would be stopped by the nuclear umbrella?

Your point 1) has little relevance to anything. Bush is human, too. In regard to your point 2), if we have learned anything from the cold war, it's that having nuclear weapons between competitors (such as the US/USSR at the time) acts strongly to reduce the size of theatres of war, and pushes the parties into limited conventional conflicts. That's a good thing. Given the choice, we do not want nuclear conflicts and prefer limited conventional ones. Regarding your point 3), I'm sure plenty of American presidents hated the USSR, but that alone didn't (almost - JFK) precipitate MAD with the Soviet Union. Please explain how and why Hussein is more mentally unstable than past and present US presidents.

Okay, there are many worthwhile topics I haven't touched on this, which have been discussed in previous articles. But since you haven't mentioned them, there's no need to go into this here. I'll leave this point as is.

4. But we didn't object when Pakistan and India got the bomb, and they're more likely to use it than Saddam is. Why don't we change their regimes?
This is an attack on the propaganda coming from the US government. Since the Bush administration is suggesting that the mere fact that Iraq may have the bomb, all other things being equal, is sufficient to scratch the country and rebuild it in the US image, it suffices to point out any other country with nuclear capability, e.g. France or the UK, and ask why the Bush administration doesn't want to change their regimes. Since AFAIK there are no plans afoot to raze and rebuild France, it follows that there must be another reason for regime change in Iraq, ie the mere fact that Iraq may have the bomb, all other things being equal, is not sufficient to scratch the country and rebuild it.

It is certainly true- though speculative- that nations like India and Pakistan (and certainly the US and USSR) have appeared closer to the use of nuclear weapons (or at least, some sort of deadly confrontation) than Iraq has been, or may ever be.
This first statement is disingeneous, since it suggests that Iraq, whose nuclear capability is uncertain, is exactly comparable to other nations, whose nuclear capability is certain. It paves the way for your argument by putting in the readers' mind an unstated assumption, that Iraq already has nuclear capability.

Your arguments against question 4. boil down to this: 1) unlike Pakistan and India, Iraq's military decisions are not reflective of the will of the people. 2) If the US goes into India and Pakistan, it's a lot harder to stop them from hating each other. 3) Generally, regime change is really hard and there's no guarantees about anything that comes out of it.

Your point 1) strongly suggests that both Pakistan and India have a democratic military system where the will of the people is directly translated into tactical decisions on the ground. All I can say is, please point out *one* (1) country in the world where practical military decisions reflect the will of the people. Even in the US, it took years for the retreat from Vietnam to follow the will of the people. Military decisions are left to specialists, which we commonly refer to as military leaders. Which part of the putative US invasion of Iraq is the Will of the People?

Your point 2) suggests that Iraq may be a pushover for the US military, in a way that India and Pakistan won't be. So it makes sense to invade Iraq instead. Perhaps go for an ice-cream and cappucino in Italy afterwards? And you wonder why others are opposed to letting the US follow its whims...

I agree with you on point 3), but remind you that, all things being equal, it is up to the US to explain convincingly why regime change in the particular case of Iraq is neither hard nor with unpredictable long-term consequences. You haven't even touched on that.

5. Everything the US does is bad
That's beneath even discussing. It's just ludicrous. If someone truly believes that, please reply and state your reasons. dachshund, you've been trolled.

My intentions in posting this discussion are not to shut anyone up or insult their views. However, I am convinced that a rational, palatable defense is the only way that we can avoid making a very poor decision that will have consequences well beyond this decade.
I concur.

Minor Nitpicks on 1) (4.71 / 7) (#49)
by bodrius on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 12:06:28 AM EST

<blockquote>
"national sovereignty" is the idea that simply because someone wants to hit you on the nose is not sufficient reason to let him. Centuries of warfare without the benefit of international law support this idea, that unless every nation has a baseline right to be left alone, called "national sovereignty", the result is continual tension erupting in endless wars.
</blockquote>

First the really Minor Nitpick:

Actually, "national sovereignity" is the reason for another country to stop itself from punching your nose. In "international anarchy" (or realpolitik) nothing stops you, or your allies, from promptly stopping the aggressor.

Not-so-Minor Nitpicks:

Considering that the "centuries of warfare" pre-League-of-Nations were not clearly that much worse than the "decades of warfare" post-League-of-Nations, it would be nice if you support your statement that history "supports this idea".  Otherwise, it would seem you're ignoring a few facts:

- "Centuries of warfare" are not the only "centuries" in mankind's history. Equally impressive "centuries of peace" have occurred (in both cases the term is quite relative). Considering we don't have "even more centuries of peace than ever before" after the charter, it's hard to demonstrate that the presence or absence of the principle is responsible of any benefit, or lack thereof. Wars may be just as 'endless' as before, and we're just in a relatively peaceful period... or our vision is distorted by a very active bellic history in Europe during the last century and a half.  

- The situation that encouraged the UN/League-of-Nations to stop the "scourge of war" was, in both cases, specific to Europe and countries with close relationships with Europe (USA). As such, the international law we're talking about was designed to address relatively local threats, conflicts and notions of nationality.

- The first great failure of the League Of Nations to preserve peace, letting Hitler publicly rearm Germany for war and annexing at least two countries unopposed, was caused by strictly adhering to the principles of "national sovereignity and self-determination", not by ignoring them.

- The comparatively peaceful times, post-UN, were neither that peaceful outside the Euro-American sphere, nor is it so easy to credit the principles of "national sovereignity" with the relative peace. The Cold War geo-political situation, MAD situation included, strongly suggests that peace was kept by realpolitik principles, not by the UN charter (which didn't stop the Cold War players from ignoring "national sovereignity" when realpolitik demanded it).

<blockquote>
The idea that the US can act in its own interest against Iraq, without substantial provocation from Iraq, which is what you are supporting, goes blatantly against the UN charter. See my other comment.

I'll summarize my answer to your first point thus: At the moment, you can either support anarchy or the UN. If you support anarchy, all your points are valid. If you support the UN, your points are blatantly illegal. Your choice.
</blockquote>

You're ignoring a rather broad third possibility: people who don't support either as a perfect solution, but consider either one of those the least of two evils.

Your 'summary', by ignoring middle grounds, is exactly equivalent to saying that you either support your government unconditionally, or you're an anarchist.

Fortunately, most people do believe in middle grounds and negotiate their differing opinions on what the role of X government should be.

Curiously, it's this same reasoning that you can more than two approaches to solve such a fundamental problem what gave birth and major support to the UN after the demise of the League of Nations, including support by countries which had little or no faith in the League of Nations in the first place.

 
Freedom is the freedom to say 2+2=4, everything else follows...
[ Parent ]

my replies, part one (5.00 / 2) (#60)
by martingale on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 03:56:41 AM EST

Actually, "national sovereignity" is the reason for another country to stop itself from punching your nose. In "international anarchy" (or realpolitik) nothing stops you, or your allies, from promptly stopping the aggressor.
I'll accept that, my analogy is somewhat flawed on this.

Considering that the "centuries of warfare" pre-League-of-Nations were not clearly that much worse than the "decades of warfare" post-League-of-Nations, it would be nice if you support your statement that history "supports this idea".
The international laws and treaties I'm defending here in the form of the UN are mostly built on an analogy, that the nation-state is to international affairs what the individual is to the society. And of course, the nation-state is a European invention. Besides this, there's another great current of ideas involving the rights of human beings.

What I mean when I state that "history supports this idea" of a baseline right for each nation, is this:

Historical examples of peace and prosperity for individuals occur in conjunction with a set of laws codifying the rights and duties of each member of society. This is true in modern societies, kindgoms of the middle ages, chinese empires, Greek city states, you name it. I cannot think of an example where anarchy is directly linked to prosperity, although I can think of examples where war famine and destruction coincides locally with anarchy.

Given this correlation, it is natural to expect that nations benefit in the same way through acceptable codifications of rights and duties, and suffer in the absence thereof. As I pointed out earlier, this requires an identification of the nation as an autonomous, individual entity within the set of all nations.

As this has to be ultimately reduced to the well being of the human members of those nations, we also need the idea that a peaceful and prosperous nation is impossible without peace and prosperity for all or most individuals living therein.

You do make good points regarding the relative effects of wars, but to lead on to your second point, I do not see what alternative you have in mind. I stated that, *at the moment*, not supporting the UN was akin to supporting anarchy. I don't know what third option is being floated as a replacement for the UN. Clearly, if such an option is to work, it must be agreed upon widely.

One such option is Pax Americana, which I don't believe is either achievable or desirable. Not achievable since the United States aren't the only military strong country in the world, and if nothing else China, Russia and India would oppose it. Nor desirable since a world order dependent on a single point of failure such as a US empire does not bode well for the future. As a European, I am all too well reminded of the Roman example, whose decline and fall heralded a thousand years of dark times due to the resulting power vacuum, towards the end of which most of the population was wiped out by the bubonic plague. The latter is directly attributable to a regression in scientific thinking.

I would like to hear what your third option is.

[ Parent ]

Third option (4.00 / 2) (#69)
by wiredog on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 08:56:56 AM EST

Co-Dominium. The bipolar world that existed from 1945 to 1991.

Not a great choice. The UN isn't working out that well either. One problem the UN faces is the lack of real enforcement mechanisms in the face of resistance to international law (that pesky "national sovereignty" issue which,iirc, dates back to the Treaty of Westphalia in 16-something).

Another choice is the way international trade law works. The EU, nafta, a possible north atlantic trade pact. That is, overlapping multilateral agreements. Apply that model to international law.

Earth first! We can strip mine the rest later.
[ Parent ]

interesting (4.00 / 2) (#90)
by martingale on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 08:52:33 PM EST

I had thought about mentioning something akin to Co-Dominium, but it conjured up visions of three mutually exclusive powers, O, E1, E2 perpetually at war two against one. Whatever the merits of this idea, investigating them is going to be clouded by Orwell's book.

However, I think I like your second suggestion, a superposition of layered multilateral agreements. What I like about it is that it presumably doesn't trap individuals in an all or nothing, this side of the curtain or that side of the curtain, kind of world. Ultimately, to me certainly, a nation is just a convenient kind of fiction which is useful as long as it offers a benefit to humans living in it.

Of course, this vision is fuzzy at best. It would prove interesting fodder for debate, though. As bodrius pointed out in his reply, ideal systems without pragmatism are unsustainable. I tend to think that ideal systems are necessary as destinations, even if the reality doesn't live up to it.

To get back to the discussion about the UN, suppose the charter was amended so that it no longer trumps any other recognized international agreement (it never had any precedence over national agreements of course). I think this might promote the constructive development of alternative systems without weakening the UN into oblivion. Food for thought.

[ Parent ]

International law (5.00 / 3) (#74)
by dachshund on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 09:31:39 AM EST

The international laws and treaties I'm defending here in the form of the UN are mostly built on an analogy, that the nation-state is to international affairs what the individual is to the society. And of course, the nation-state is a European invention. Besides this, there's another great current of ideas involving the rights of human beings.

First of all, let me point out that if nation-states are analagous to individuals, then Iraq is the guy who beat up his neighbor, was given conditional probation, then failed to obey the terms of the agreement, by locked himself up in his house and ordering bomb-building kits.

Under a working system of laws, this is the kind of guy person who is dealt with by the justice system. Even if it turns out that he's only building firecrackers, I doubt you'd hear too many people defending his right to ignore the law.

So while I agree that the UN model of international law is-- in theory-- an answer to this problem, it only really exists as far as it's enforced. Under a working system of international laws, Iraq would have been severely dealt with years ago when they first violated the terms of their surrender. If that had happened, we wouldn't have Bush trying to ride in like a cowboy today.

In fact, one of the biggest problems with the system of international law is that it's frequently opposed by the very people who are supposed to make it work. So while everyone goes to the meetings and talks a lot, there's very little international interest in creating a real system that regularly enforces international resolutions-- because to do so would ultimately limit the power of the member states. When most governments are faced with a choice between, say, ending the Genocide in Rwanda, or maintaining a status-quo that lets them do as they please, most people will let the Rwandans go to hell.

Given this correlation, it is natural to expect that nations benefit in the same way through acceptable codifications of rights and duties, and suffer in the absence thereof. As I pointed out earlier, this requires an identification of the nation as an autonomous, individual entity within the set of all nations.

Well, to be pedantic it doesn't necessarily require the sort of strong sovereignty that you indicate. There are other models wherein the sovereignty of various component states is flexible with regard to a federated whole (look at the United States, for instance.) Now I'm not claiming that the world is ripe for that kind of government (it's definitely not.) But it's not necessarily any worse of a model than the existing nation model we have today.

But back on track, it's important to note that sovereignty does not imply that any nation be immune from other the enforcement of international law, which is exactly what many people mean when they invoke the term. It's not a coincidence that many of the people who regularly invoke the "national sovereignty" argument (including this President) also tend to be exactly the people who oppose international cooperatives like the UN, or treaty agreements that limit individual nations' power.

But none of this escapes you, I think we're both on the same page. Where we disagree is in assuming that the international community is any less guilty of dereliction that we are, in allowing the situation to get to where it is today.

The real question we need to be asking ourselves is not whether Iraq should be dealt with under international law, because that doesn't give much room for argument. The question should be whether it's worthwhile. This seems a little bit more like realpolitik, but unfortunately that's the way things are in this world.

The analogy is: is it worth forming a posse and taking on that guy who violated his probation? Is it worth risking our lives, his life, and possibly the lives of innocent civilians who get in between? Is there any way to go about securing his cooperation that doesn't involve war? Is he really enough of a threat that war is necessary? Shouldn't the US be trying to convince its neighbors to join in, rather than aggressively ride off to the guy's house all by itself? And finally, what will be the long and short-term effects of such an action?

I don't think that we've answered any of these questions satisfactorily, and those are the relevant questions in this debate-- not abstract discussions on international law which will always lead to the conclusion that international law as it stands is too imperfect to fix ones' argument on.

[ Parent ]

sorry about the garbling (none / 0) (#79)
by dachshund on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 11:38:48 AM EST

Sorry for all the typos, I wrote this early (for me) in the morning.

[ Parent ]
quick reply (4.50 / 2) (#92)
by martingale on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 10:12:02 PM EST

We agree about sovereignty. The debatable point is clearly one of legitimacy of invasion. Not necessarily narrowly legal invasion for some, but that's a form of legitimacy too.

Where we disagree is in assuming that the international community is any less guilty of dereliction that we are, in allowing the situation to get to where it is today.
The international community acts in its own interest. Is it worthwhile dealing with Iraq under international law? I thinks so. The value of a legal framework is that it aids in clearing up uncertainty. It establishes patterns of behaviour followed by all law abiding nations. Dismissing the legal framework implies uncertainty and risk. Will Iraq get attacked if it invades Kuwait? Without the legal framework, it's possible or not. Depends on how other governments feel about it. With the legal framework, Iraq is an outlaw. In principle it must be dealt with. In practice, it will be dealt with if it's worth it. That's realpolitik inside a legal framework.

[ Parent ]
UN or Anarchy (5.00 / 1) (#89)
by bodrius on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 06:48:34 PM EST


The international laws and treaties I'm defending here in the form of the UN are mostly built on an analogy, that the nation-state is to international affairs what the individual is to the society. And of course, the nation-state is a European invention. Besides this, there's another great current of ideas involving the rights of human beings.

While it is true that the modern rethoric of international law rests on that analogy, it is my impression that the European concept of the nation-state predates said analogy, and even the concept of the citizen as an individual.

Rather, the concept of the individual as a sovereign entity with rights independent from the state was developed from the concept of the aristocrat/nobleman, which is an extension/modification of the king/autocrat, who became an individual in the first place as the personification of the nation-state.

Before that, the state was the entity, the state was the sovereign, and the state had the rights. And states were seen as individual entities competing in an unlegislated environment for quite some time.

The thing is that the "rights" of any entity on an unlegislated environment do not rest on moral/ethical grounds, but on their ability to defend it. My main objection to the UN and its predecessor is that, in a legislated environment, it's not that different once you remove the rethoric.


Historical examples of peace and prosperity for individuals occur in conjunction with a set of laws codifying the rights and duties of each member of society. This is true in modern societies, kindgoms of the middle ages, chinese empires, Greek city states, you name it. I cannot think of an example where anarchy is directly linked to prosperity, although I can think of examples where war famine and destruction coincides locally with anarchy.

A common set of rules saves effort and provides a convenient framework for negotiation of each individual's interest. That's why capitalist prosperity, while praising the "free market" and despising "legislation", has required strong legal frameworks and a sense of accountability whenever it has worked.

However, there is ample evidence of inadequate legal frameworks paralizing individuals, blocking prosperity, or propitiating abuses of power.

There is also ample evidence of theoretically wonderful legislation which, by resting on ideals and moral grounds rather than pragmatic means for enforcement, have proved to be worse than no legislation (by protecting the state of "anarchy" under a cloak of legitimacy).

Also, almost every new society has started without a real legal framework... that is, an inexistent or unenforced legal framework. Sometimes this has been linked to very prosperous, if unstable, times (gold rushes).

As far as the international politics are concerned, the "anarchy" has not blocked prosperity per se. We're still much better than we have been in previous centuries. The case that can be made is that we could be even better, and our prosperity would be more stable, if we had the proper legal framework.

The point is that a good and enforced legal framework is useful for long-term prosperity. But it's not a requirement of prosperity per se, and a bad legal framework or an unenforced legal framework is worse than honest anarchy.

One of the keys of a good legal framework is that it rests on solid, pragmatic institutions, not in good intentions and/or rethoric. The best legal frameworks recognize existing relations of power and support the law on them, while providing systems of checks and balances that controls this power. Good legal framework actually show remarkable distrust for the concepts of moral principle or rethoric as a means, preferring force, if strictly controlled, as the method of enforcement.


As this has to be ultimately reduced to the well being of the human members of those nations, we also need the idea that a peaceful and prosperous nation is impossible without peace and prosperity for all or most individuals living therein.

Although I agree that these are ultimately useful things, and that they should be goals in themselves, I disagree with the "need for the idea".

First, because as I mentioned before I'm not convinced that the individuality of the nation-state can or should be ultimately reduced to the individuals that compose it in a deterministic manner. Historically the nation-state existed before the modern concept of the individual... and I believe they are independent concepts which are mutually enriched by their continual linking through analogy, but are not causally related.

Second, because it's just not true. "Peace" and "prosperity" mean different things for different kinds of entities (individuals and nation-states), and unless you radically change the meaning of those terms for one case, I don't think you can reconciliate.


You do make good points regarding the relative effects of wars, but to lead on to your second point, I do not see what alternative you have in mind. I stated that, at the moment, not supporting the UN was akin to supporting anarchy. I don't know what third option is being floated as a replacement for the UN. Clearly, if such an option is to work, it must be agreed upon widely.

I didn't mention any third option. I mentioned a third group, and said that it was people like this third group which developed, through negotiation, an undefined number of new options.

The third group supports either the UN, or realpolitik, as the "lesser of two evils", during the development of a real solution.

I don't believe the UN is actively worse than realpolitik. I just believe it's dangerous to pretend the UN is doing something it is not: enforcing a framework for international law. Being aware of the rules of the game, even if the rules of the game are self-interest and power relations, means that at least you have a chance of playing according to some logic. Since most really big problems are solved with realpolitik anyway (with generous rethoric sauce to cover it), at the very least this could save time and complications before they become big problems.

Therefore, I support the UN for the secondary role it does pretty well: act as a benevolent third party that facilitates diplomacy, provides humanitarian aid, and focuses international expertise in common problems of the world (hunger, education, etc).

I do not support the UN in the primary role it was meant to take, but never did: provide a strong, enforced framework of international law that provides the conditions for long-term peace and prosperity.

The pretense is costly and ineffectual.

By considering the rethoric more relevant than the reality like its predecessor, the UN has put itself in a position where it is easily manipulated by realpolitik, and justified by rethoric. Its greater degree of success with respect to the League of Nations, seems to me, is mostly due to its greater capacity for hypocresy.

Meanwhile, its assumed authority blocks any attempt at a real international law system. Even a radical reorganization of the UN itself to "make it work" would be seen as an threat to the current system.

In other words, a good legal framework requires an effective government that enforces it to be of any use. International law, then, would require a world government to be an adequate legal framework. The UN is not a world government, is unwilling to become a world government, and any attempt at a system of world government is blocked by the pretense that the UN fulfills that function. While I could be convinced to support a good world government system, I prefer realpolitik to a bad or ineffectual one.

   
Freedom is the freedom to say 2+2=4, everything else follows...
[ Parent ]

slightly too anarchic for me (5.00 / 2) (#91)
by martingale on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 09:42:35 PM EST

Nicely argued!
it is my impression that the European concept of the nation-state predates said analogy, and even the concept of the citizen as an individual.
Well, I don't have a background in humanities (and it probably shows ;-), so you may be right. I'm not sure I quite understand what you're suggesting though. In the second paragraph, you describe the concept of individual as based upon a model of the nation-state, via king/autocrat/aristocrat/nobleman. But later you state "and I believe they are independent concepts which are mutually enriched by their continual linking through analogy, but are not causally related." That doesn't make sense.

The thing is that the "rights" of any entity on an unlegislated environment do not rest on moral/ ethical grounds, but on their ability to defend it.
I agree with you that this represents the ultimate foundation (theists have a different point of view, though, which historically was prevalent in Europe of the Middle Ages). As such, some modern laws can be thought of as a refinement of this, a summary of the logical implications of the anarchic world, ie a way of jumping directly to the end result without the need of duplicating the threats and actions which are implied by strength alone.

As a simple example, the prohibition against murder can be seen in this light. A murders B, but B belongs to group C, which avenges B by punishing A. A belongs to the larger group D, which defends A by opposing C, and so on. When all is said and done, much effort has been expended to obtain the end result that the stronger organisation prevails (on average). The strongest organisation is society in this case. So this is codified in a law, prohibiting A murdering B.

I see anarchy in international relations in a similar light. There ought to be a summary, a codification which saves us from the trouble of going through the motions of beating each other up, while ending with essentially the same result. You state the same thing I think in the following

A common set of rules saves effort and provides a convenient framework for negotiation of each individual's interest. That's why capitalist prosperity, while praising the "free market" and despising "legislation", has required strong legal frameworks and a sense of accountability whenever it has worked.

You go on to state that some legal frameworks are inadequate, which I agree with as a general statement. [aside, you also give an example where anarchy coexists with prosperity, which I think is nice but far from common - the exception that confirms the rule] You don't give criteria for weighing one framework against another, save perhaps strict enforceability. As a result, you prefer realpolitik, ie anarchy to any ineffectual legal framework such as the UN.

I do not support the UN in the primary role it was meant to take, but never did: provide a strong, enforced framework of international law that provides the conditions for long-term peace and prosperity.
I'm not sure I get the problem here. It is clear that the UN is dependent upon, and essentially dominated by, the strongest and most influential countries in the world. The security council has veto power on anything.

It makes sense to me that small and weak countries have grounds to complain, since their own interests cannot compete with those of the more powerful. This would be true regardless of the existence of the UN. In fact, the smaller countries' only recourse is agreement and block voting together as a prerequisite for achieving their interest.

However, I don't see how the UN essentially fails the more powerful countries which are permanently members of the security council. The US administration gave the UN an ultimatum last week: do as we say, or we'll do it anyway. I believe this is electioneering and probably incompetence of the current administration, but: what does the US have to gain from this? Obviously, without the framework of the UN, realpolitik will continue to pit US interests against Chinese, Russians, the EU, you name it. The same bunch who have permanent security council seats and permanent vetoes. And a few others. What is it about the existing system that no longer works for the US, to the point where unarbitrated realpolitik seems an improvement?

[ Parent ]

Problem with UN (5.00 / 1) (#93)
by bodrius on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 11:48:41 PM EST


In the second paragraph, you describe the concept of individual as based upon a model of the nation-state, via king/autocrat/aristocrat/nobleman. But later you state "and I believe they are independent concepts which are mutually enriched by their continual linking through analogy, but are not causally related." That doesn't make sense.

The fact that the concept of the individual developed from the nation-state doesn't mean it is causally related to it, except in the historical sense. That is, their developments are causally related, but the concepts themselves are not.

I think the individual and the nation-state share a relationship similar to that of Darwin's Theory of Evolution with Smith's Capitalism. One inspired the other at some point, and their commonalities make each helpful in understanding the other, but if a flaw invalidates one theory, unless the flaw is also common, the other theory stands independently.

Specifically, the chronological sequence indicates there can be nation-states without the concept of individuality. If they were causally related, there could be no individuality without nation-states. I don't think that holds true.


You go on to state that some legal frameworks are inadequate, which I agree with as a general statement. [aside, you also give an example where anarchy coexists with prosperity, which I think is nice but far from common - the exception that confirms the rule] You don't give criteria for weighing one framework against another, save perhaps strict enforceability. As a result, you prefer realpolitik, ie anarchy to any ineffectual legal framework such as the UN.

Yes, that's exactly what I mean. The problem with the lack of criteria is that judging "a good legal framework" is a very hard problem. This only gets more complicated as morals or ideals get involved (for example, contemporary society values democracy by principle rather than by its qualities as a government system).

However, at the risk of losing focus and being crassly wrong, there are some characteristics I think a good system should have:

  • Enforced in a consistent, strict way (my main criticism to the UN): this is the "rule of the law", where the law itself may be lenient, but it should be followed.
  • Solid and sustainable: the system should be able to defend itself against eventualities, aggressors, corruption and the occasional failure.
  • Decentralize and control power: the above require a certain measure of power in the system as a whole that should be dilluted through "checks and balances", to avoid abuses of power.
  • Effective: the laws should be logical and benefit the governed in a tangible way.
  • Efficient: the laws should be relatively easy to understand and apply, so that it is efficient to be a lawful citizen, and efficient to be a good government.
  • Flexible: the system should be modifiable, and respond to political forces that push for such modifications.
  • Defend the interests of the governed: because that's why the system was put in place from the beginning, and because the system only exists at the whim and acceptance of the governed.
  • Promote peace: because war is costly.
  • Promote prosperity: because it makes everything else that much easier.
  • Promote meritocracy: because it helps to accomplish everything else.
  • Promote education: idem.
And my personal subjective, moralistic demand for a good government:

- Provide impartial opportunity for "happiness", whatever that means: the system should strive to ensure that each individual's chance to be successful and "happy" by his/her own definition should be dependant only on the character of the individual, even if the individual doesn't agree with the system in the first place.


I'm not sure I get the problem here. It is clear that the UN is dependent upon, and essentially dominated by, the strongest and most influential countries in the world. The security council has veto power on anything.

It makes sense to me that small and weak countries have grounds to complain, since their own interests cannot compete with those of the more powerful. This would be true regardless of the existence of the UN. In fact, the smaller countries' only recourse is agreement and block voting together as a prerequisite for achieving their interest.

Well, I do find the disbalance a problem per se, even if it didn't inconvenience the US or other dominant powers at all. Unless the dominant powers are very self-aware nation-states with a sense of Imperial Duty, such concentration of power leads to abuse, which leads to a number of bad things in any government, among them lack of  prosperity and stability.

In effect, this gives the small countries little motivation to follow the rules of the UN any more than they would follow dominant powers in the first place.

Of course, with really small countries, or even "bigger" countries of small military potential, the difference may not be great. But as a country gains military power and aspires to become a player in international politics, rather than a follower, the motivation to collaborate with the UN diminishes. Unlike the dominant powers, the newcomer lacks the leverage to push the UN its way, and unlike less ambitious countries, it has the power to play the realpolitik game.

I think this would be the case with Iraq, as well as India and others.


However, I don't see how the UN essentially fails the more powerful countries which are permanently members of the security council. The US administration gave the UN an ultimatum last week: do as we say, or we'll do it anyway. I believe this is electioneering and probably incompetence of the current administration, but: what does the US have to gain from this? Obviously, without the framework of the UN, realpolitik will continue to pit US interests against Chinese, Russians, the EU, you name it. The same bunch who have permanent security council seats and permanent vetoes. And a few others. What is it about the existing system that no longer works for the US, to the point where unarbitrated realpolitik seems an improvement?

The UN fails to the dominant powers because the pretense of international law is something that most people, and most nation-states, seem to believe in up to some point.

Therefore, they will attempt to solve real international politic issues with rethoric, until the problem grows out of control and they have to use traditional methods.

Since the system encourages ambitios new military powers to ignore the rules, but makes people analyze the political situation according to rules which are not being followed, the reaction of most countries is slowed down by the idealism of the system.

These delays are dangerous, for example, because they let ambitious nations accumulate power through aggresive actions until they have too much to lose by adopting less aggresive methods (Iraq). Or because they lead communities or nation-states unfamiliar with the "behind-the-scenes" rules to ignore or even engage in conflict with the UN status quo (Eastern Europe). Or because they let countries and communities paint themselves into a corner with the moral rethoric until the situation is impossible to solve (Palestine/Israel).

Or simply because even countries that follow realpolitik ruthlessly in the case of emergency really want to believe in the rethoric until the last minute... after all, that's why they instituted the system in the first place.

For the US in particular, the UN is inconvenient because it delays its realpolitik actions until they have to be too drastic, too late.

 
Freedom is the freedom to say 2+2=4, everything else follows...
[ Parent ]

some differences (5.00 / 3) (#97)
by martingale on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 02:29:39 AM EST

Okay, I now understand what you mean by independence. I think it makes sense.

Nice list of characteristics. I won't study it too closely for holes, I think I agree with all the points myself. When you say things like promoting education, I presume you mean education of human beings. There's a few things like this which would better fit in as qualities of nations I think, rather than qualities of a system of international relations.

If I understand your criticism of the UN well, what you really like about anarchy is the frictionless quality (no pun intended) which allows immediate corrective action between nations, a bit like the stock market allows continuous portfolio management. In that sense, I do not agree that is a good thing.

In a frictionless system, there's nothing to dampen the dynamics - an anarchic system would exhibit continual oscillations: country A threatens or goes to war against country B for some reason, but overshoots slightly - country B feels country A overreacted and threatens A back for the difference. In so doing, country A feels B is partially unjustified and responds. Ad eternam.

With a legal framework, dampening does occur. With an established procedure for disagreements, these small oscillations disappear, because there is a nontrivial cost. We can argue about the desirable amount of friction in the system, but the nature is the same. It prevents gratuitous and unnecessary activity and therefore stabilises the system to the benefit of all nations.

A couple of other points:

Well, I do find the disbalance a problem per se, even if it didn't inconvenience the US or other dominant powers at all. Unless the dominant powers are very self-aware nation-states with a sense of Imperial Duty, such concentration of power leads to abuse, which leads to a number of bad things in any government, among them lack of prosperity and stability.
Even with a strong sense of Imperial Duty, we've seen patronizing behaviour from world empires such as the Spanish and British, to name two. But anyway, disbalance should not be confused with inconsistent and unsustainable.

There are many examples of nations seeking organisation into composite structures, for example things like trading agreements. These are not always based on a principle of equality. Does a country like Denmark expect to benefit directly as much from the European Union free trade agreements as France? The economies aren't the same size. The real question is does it make sense for Denmark to be part of the EU free trade zone?

In effect, this gives the small countries little motivation to follow the rules of the UN any more than they would follow dominant powers in the first place.
I think that's wrong. If there is a benefit for the small country, there is a motivation. A legal framework offers reduced risk in international relations, since the exchanges are codified, and won't lead to offense on either side to the extent they stay within the bounds. Dealing with a trading partner which is not bound by predictable agreements and is liable to change its mind on a whim is much more dangerous and undesirable.

But as a country gains military power and aspires to become a player in international politics, rather than a follower, the motivation to collaborate with the UN diminishes. Unlike the dominant powers, the newcomer lacks the leverage to push the UN its way, and unlike less ambitious countries, it has the power to play the realpolitik game.
You are forgetting that illegal behaviour is neither rewarded nor ignored, so long as there is the will for enforcement. If the UN is a game of power dominated by a handful of nations, it follows that those nations act so as to preserve their power. There is no difference here with anarchy. But the framework exists and reduces risk.

We saw that Iraq was punished for the Kuwait invasion, and still is, which shows that the will is there when it's worth it to the dominant nations. In other examples, the will hasn't been there and we've had toothless UN resolutions. A small country evaluating a course of action can only be reasonably certain of the consequences of following a lawful path. With anarchy, it cannot even be certain of that.

Since the system encourages ambitios new military powers to ignore the rules, but makes people analyze the political situation according to rules which are not being followed, the reaction of most countries is slowed down by the idealism of the system.
I think I've argued against this position above. Your other criticism, that nations attempt to solve real issues with rethoric, is debatable. I don't think you are suggesting that discussion is useless. If anything, you might suggest that a fully democratic system between nations is not desirable.

These delays are dangerous, for example, because they let ambitious nations accumulate power through aggresive actions until they have too much to lose by adopting less aggresive methods (Iraq). Or because they lead communities or nation-states unfamiliar with the "behind-the-scenes" rules to ignore or even engage in conflict with the UN status quo (Eastern Europe). Or because they let countries and communities paint themselves into a corner with the moral rethoric until the situation is impossible to solve (Palestine/Israel).
None of these problems are solved by anarchy. At least, I'd like to see you argue they are. Aggressive behaviour is possible, and is a matter of preference. "Behind-the-scenes" horse trading is allowed in anarchy as well. The kind of Israel/Palestine situation is probably not possible with anarchy, I'll grant that.

For the US in particular, the UN is inconvenient because it delays its realpolitik actions until they have to be too drastic, too late.
From my friction/dampening argument earlier, I think that is, all in all, a feature rather than a bug.

[ Parent ]
Some responses (4.33 / 6) (#51)
by dachshund on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 01:19:53 AM EST

I think bodrius did a pretty good job of responding to your critique of my first point in his post, so I'm going to leave that for now. If you disagree, respond to his post and I'll elaborate.

Your argument against this statement is that 1) Saddam is human, so might push the nuclear button if cornered. 2) If Iraq has nuclear weapons, it will be invincible, since it cannot be attacked but is able to attack any neighbour it chooses. Even you don't quite believe in this and you offer a converse of sorts, that Iraq's neighbours benefit from the same invulnerability through the US nuclear weapons protection

First of all, I'm not suggesting that Saddam will be able to launch an all-out destructive war against his neighbors. That would almost certainly result in a US or international response.

However, there are a lot of goals that Saddam would be able to carry out if he had the security of knowing his own borders are protected by his own nuclear power. There's a great deal that he could do against the Kurds, and certainly a number of harrassing actions he could take to slightly expand his oil fields. In fact, as long as he kept his actions below the threshold that would justify strong US intervention, he could do an awful lot.

I remember many commentators suggesting that his biggest mistake during the first Gulf war was not simply looting Kuwait and withdrawing his forces before the international coalition was in place. With nuclear weapons, he could undertake any number of dramatic actions, before scurrying back to the safety of his nuclear-defended borders.

Furthermore, Iraq's neighbors only benefit from MAD if Saddam has something to lose. I'm mostly convinced that Saddam won't throw his life away by using nuclear weapons, but in the event that he ever feels defeat to be inevitable, he wouldn't have any reason not to launch. This is precisely the mechanism that drives MAD-- nobody's supposed to be crazy enough to launch a first strike... unless somebody invades or launches it at them. Since we're talking about history, I should remind you that it's a system that's worked quite well: no nuclear power has been toppled by an external invasion since the beginning of the nuclear age.

Your point 1) strongly suggests that both Pakistan and India have a democratic military system where the will of the people is directly translated into tactical decisions on the ground. All I can say is, please point out *one* (1) country in the world where practical military decisions reflect the will of the people. Even in the US, it took years for the retreat from Vietnam to follow the will of the people. Military decisions are left to specialists, which we commonly refer to as military leaders. Which part of the putative US invasion of Iraq is the Will of the People?

Nobody is suggesting that military action is always a direct result of the will of the people. On the other hand, some people just don't trust each other (either because they've learned that distrust over time, or because they have strongly divergent interests.) To switch examples: If you went in and replaced both Arafat and Sharon with more agreeable leaders, would the Israeli/Palestinian conflict just go away? Doubtful. You might open up the door a little, but it's equally likely that the struggle would just suck the new leaders in whether they liked it or not (or it would simply reject them.)

On the other hand, if a different President had been elected in 2000, do you think we'd even be talking about war in Iraq? Doubtful. There are situations where one man can change the course of history, and there are situations where whole armies just can't change the tide. Lumping every situation together under one "best solution" ignores this reality.

Your point 2) suggests that Iraq may be a pushover for the US military, in a way that India and Pakistan won't be. So it makes sense to invade Iraq instead. Perhaps go for an ice-cream and cappucino in Italy afterwards? And you wonder why others are opposed to letting the US follow its whims...

No, I'm not suggesting that Iraq will be a pushover for the US military. In fact, I'm concerned about exactly the opposite. I think that our overconfidence from the wide-open desert fighting of the Gulf War has led us to believe that we're ready for intense, fight-to-the-death urban warfare. I think it also has us mistakenly believing that we can easily keep the peace and build a nation when we're done. And that's where my primary opposition to this war comes from-- even if the administration could prove all of its allegations and show us how much danger we're in (my first requirement), I still think that we're crazy to blithely launch a ground assault.

I'm sorry if I gave you the impression that Iraq would be a pushover. My comments simply reflected my opinion that-- on a strictly relative scale!-- I do think that a US invasion of India and Pakistan would be an even more difficult project. Do you disagree?

I agree with you on point 3), but remind you that, all things being equal, it is up to the US to explain convincingly why regime change in the particular case of Iraq is neither hard nor with unpredictable long-term consequences. You haven't even touched on that.

You're absolutely right about that. And I did touch on it a little when I said "What potential dissenters need to focus on is that regime-change is virtually guaranteed not to be safe, affordable, or without enormous consequences (both in the short and long-term.)" Again, my point is that we need to point out the specific problems with the case, like that one, rather than getting distracted by irrelevances and shaky moral arguments.

[ Parent ]

my replies, part two (4.66 / 3) (#58)
by martingale on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 03:54:07 AM EST

See my reply to bodrius for the first point.

I remember many commentators suggesting that his biggest mistake during the first Gulf war was not simply looting Kuwait and withdrawing his forces before the international coalition was in place. With nuclear weapons, he could undertake any number of dramatic actions, before scurrying back to the safety of his nuclear-defended borders.
I'm not sure I follow what kind of dramatic actions he could take exclusively if he had nuclear weapons. Do you have something in mind? The example of looting Kuwait and retreating is possible regardless of his having nuclear weapons. So are economic sanctions against him, by the way.

Furthermore, Iraq's neighbors only benefit from MAD if Saddam has something to lose.
Well, that's the interesting question. What does he have to lose, and how can we ensure that he always has something to lose? Clearly a country in ruins has less value than a prosperous one. In fact, it is often the poorest and most desperate in the world who go to extreme measures.

There are situations where one man can change the course of history, and there are situations where whole armies just can't change the tide.
Yes, Hussein is a new Napoleon of the middle-east, is that what you are getting at? Unifying the Arab people under a consistent secular set of laws and civil service, eventually ending up in a pacific island after a defeat against a world coalition. I'm jesting, of course. I agree with your statement, but like you, I want to see less wishful thinking and more evidence. As a voter in a democracy, I expect this so I can make up my mind at election time.

No, I'm not suggesting that Iraq will be a pushover for the US military. In fact, I'm concerned about exactly the opposite.
We agree on that, then. I'm no military expert, but I don't think the US has been in a real, country fighting for survival, kind of war since Vietnam. Nor have any European countries, and they know it.

I do think that a US invasion of India and Pakistan would be an even more difficult project. Do you disagree?
I agree with you. Invading India and Pakistan is probably in the same league asinvading China. Military experts will doubtlessly reply and prove me wrong, though.

"What potential dissenters need to focus on is that regime-change is virtually guaranteed not to be safe, affordable, or without enormous consequences (both in the short and long-term.)"
That's a nice summary.

[ Parent ]
More (4.00 / 3) (#70)
by dachshund on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 08:59:16 AM EST

I'm not sure I follow what kind of dramatic actions he could take exclusively if he had nuclear weapons. Do you have something in mind? The example of looting Kuwait and retreating is possible regardless of his having nuclear weapons. So are economic sanctions against him, by the way.

Note that we're speaking in the hypothetical here:

Without strong defenses (nuclear capability, for instance), the example of looting Kuwait is possible once, maybe. But you can't consistently attack and threaten your neighbors before somebody realizes that the only approach is to take proactive action against you. At the risk of invoking Godwin, we didn't simply kick the German army out of the countries it had occupied during WWII, we took the only -- justified-- action we could count on to stop future invasions: we invaded and occupied them.

Once a country has nuclear weapons, the cost of that kind of necessary response goes up enormously. It's sort of like disciplining a child when you're not allowed to administer any sort of punishment for misbehavior after the fact; all you can do is hope to catch him/her in the act. This means that you have to exercise constant vigilance (read, increasing our military presence) and the child will just learn not to misbehave in a situation where he/she might get caught.

Well, that's the interesting question. What does he have to lose, and how can we ensure that he always has something to lose? Clearly a country in ruins has less value than a prosperous one. In fact, it is often the poorest and most desperate in the world who go to extreme measures.

Saddam is not personally poor. From what I understand, he enjoys a pretty comfortable life. I do think that our sanctions have been a disaster for his people, though I'm not convinced that this makes him "desperate" in the way you suggest. While it's pleasing to imagine Iraq as a prosperous, lethargic nation, the problem remains that Saddam has military ambitions. Even when Iraq was relatively prosperous (compared to its current state), the money wasn't being poured into peaceful ends. I see no reason why a newly prosperous Iraq would be any more of a peaceful place.

I agree with your statement, but like you, I want to see less wishful thinking and more evidence. As a voter in a democracy, I expect this so I can make up my mind at election time.

Yes, I'd like to see more evidence too, before we a) put troops at risk, b) put civilians at risk, c) ok a war that looks to my cynical eyes a lot like a re-election campaign, and d) completely destabilize the political situation in the middle-east.

[ Parent ]

affordable (3.66 / 3) (#71)
by wiredog on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 09:02:02 AM EST

From the Washington Post:A War We Can Afford

the United States has become so wealthy it can wage war almost with pocket change. A war with Iraq would probably cost less than 1 percent of national income (gross domestic product).

...

In 1944, federal spending totaled 44 percent of GDP, with military spending at 38 percent of GDP.

...

Measured by what it produces -- and adjusted for inflation -- the economy is more than five times as large as it was in 1945.

...

Even if a new war cost $100 billion, it would be only about 1 percent of GDP.

...

But the important questions are harder. Is this war justifiable? Should the United States go it alone? What will happen if we don't fight? What will happen if we do? By contrast, economic issues are a sideshow -- and should stay so. If this war is necessary, we can afford it.



Earth first! We can strip mine the rest later.
[ Parent ]
I hate that GDP argument with a passion (5.00 / 2) (#81)
by dachshund on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 11:49:45 AM EST

the United States has become so wealthy it can wage war almost with pocket change. A war with Iraq would probably cost less than 1 percent of national income (gross domestic product).

If I'd written an article summarizing all of the stupid arguments for going to war with Iraq, this would definitely top my list. Since when did it become fashionable to compare government spending to the goddamn GDP?

My rent payments represent an almost insignificant fraction of the GDP, but somehow this never seems to matter to my landlord if the checks start bouncing. Instead of measuring the cost of war against money that the government doesn't actually possess, why don't people compare it to the actual Federal budget? If you do that, the 1% figure becomes more like 10%. And if you take remove funds for programs like Social Security (which are not, in theory, supposed to be discretionary funds), the number gets even larger.

Now I'm not suggesting that the US can't afford to make war if it really needs to. The question is, considering that we're already running deficits as it is, are our people really served by significantly ratcheting up spending?

[ Parent ]

GDP (5.00 / 1) (#83)
by wiredog on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 11:59:31 AM EST

I think that is used mainly because it provides a yardstick. Much as "real", or inflation adjusted, dollars provisde a useable measurement.

It's also an interesting look at the cost, to the economy, of fighting a war. Well, of fighting a war somewhere else. If you include the costs of reconstruction (of local destruction) the cost goes way up. The dollar cost of the US/Afghan War probably doubles (or more) if you include the cost of rebuilding the WTC, the cost of shutting down the financial sector for a week, etc.

Earth first! We can strip mine the rest later.
[ Parent ]

national sovereignty defense for mass murder? (3.50 / 2) (#96)
by rws1st on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 02:23:32 AM EST

""national sovereignty" is the idea that simply because someone wants to hit you on the nose is not sufficient reason to let him."

Going around hitting moral and just folk is certainly reprehensible.  But if you decide to stop a mass murder, then you should hardly be worried about hitting them.  Is national sovereignty a valid defense that allows mass murders to claim immunity? Allows despots to act unrestricted?  

There should be no question as to weather it is morally justifiably to remove Sadam and his government.  The government of Iraq has proved itself to be an immoral murderous regime that totally disregards the interest or rights of its people.   One can debate weather militarily invading Iraq will kill more civilians than even Sadam is capable of.  One can debate the wisdom of acting without the broad support of the international community.  One can wonder weather it is worth our time money and the lives of our warriors.  One can question weather the motives of the US are really to do justice.  But only people have rights, not nations, and if the government of a nation demonstrates such fundamental hostility to life, then it cedes any even dubious claim to Sovereignty.

"that when a country such as the US wants to attack Iraq, the latter has no case for defense "

The defense that the Iraqi government has to offer is that they are a just, legitimate and peaceful government.  Can they make this claim? Would you accept it? I would not.

"If you read the UN charter, you will find that it introduces certain rules designed to bring international relations into a framework somewhat similar to the legal framework of many nations. "

What kind of legal framework would allow a totalitarian murderous dictator to keep rule and oppression over a country of millions of people?  To roughly quite Eddie Izzard "You kill a few million people and after a few years we won't stand for that!" But in the case of the UN I guess they will stand for it.

""Centuries of warfare without the benefit of international law support this idea, that unless every nation has a baseline right to be left alone, called "national sovereignty", the result is continual tension erupting in endless wars.."

Kings claimed sovereign rights long before the UN.  And certainly no one thinks we should be able to invade countries wily nilly, or go to war lightly. But has the UN put a stop to war? The idea of sovereignty is not new, and it has not stopped war.

(you say that any debate on the matter needs to be only for the benefit of US citizens).

I agree with your implied disagreement here.  The US national interest while a necessary condition to war with Iraq, is not a sufficient one.  We also need to consider the people of Iraq and the other people of the world.

"I'll summarize my answer to your first point thus: At the moment, you can either support anarchy or the UN. If you support anarchy, all your points are valid. If you support the UN, your points are blatantly illegal. Your choice."

If you are going to have a government then at the very least it should defend the rights of its people.  If you are going to have law, you should at the very least start with laws against mass murdering totalitarian regimes.  If the UN doesn't even have that, then it has no moral authority.

The bigger question is why doesn't the US, or Europe for that matter depose the other repressive totalitarian governments around the world, why stop with Iraq?

Should we invade Iraq? I don't know. But if the other reasons line up then the idea of their National Sovereignty should be nothing more than a speed dune in the dessert for our M-1's.

Rob Sperry
The imperial individualist


[ Parent ]

nat. sov. defense against lynching crowds (5.00 / 1) (#166)
by martingale on Sat Sep 21, 2002 at 11:50:01 PM EST

Going around hitting moral and just folk is certainly reprehensible. But if you decide to stop a mass murder, then you should hardly be worried about hitting them.
Actually, in my country the police take a dim view of me going out there to hit a mass murderer in the head. In the groin or anywhere else too for that matter.

No. You have no right to go out there and distribute your own brand of justice and repression, regardless of your "moral" beliefs. Fundamentalist terrorists are the problem, not the solution.

If you had talked about an international court of Justice and sending Hussein there to be tried, I would agree with you. However, notice that this is the furthest from the mind of the Bush administration, who have never even remotely mentioned this possibility. Rather, they want to arbitrarily depose some other country's government because they can, and here I'm being generous with the motive. Vigilantism is wrong.

There should be no question as to weather it is morally justifiably to remove Sadam and his government. [...] But only people have rights, not nations, and if the government of a nation demonstrates such fundamental hostility to life, then it cedes any even dubious claim to Sovereignty.
Actually, there is plenty to be questioned. That's why he should be tried in front of a competent court and not simply lynched by a mob of US armed forces under the command of a cowboy who is far from being a saint himself.

The defense that the Iraqi government has to offer is that they are a just, legitimate and peaceful government. Can they make this claim? Would you accept it? I would not.
How much Iraqi history and society have you investigated before making such a claim? Or is it based solely on five minute soundbytes on the TV and radio? The point is that a competent international court is much better qualified than you to make this kind of judgement. As dictators go, Hussein is far from the worst. Do you trust Texan hillbillies to make sound and thoughtful decisions about crime cases? I don't.

What kind of legal framework would allow a totalitarian murderous dictator to keep rule and oppression over a country of millions of people? To roughly quite Eddie Izzard "You kill a few million people and after a few years we won't stand for that! " But in the case of the UN I guess they will stand for it.
You mean the kind of legal framework that allows the likes of OJ Simpson to walk free? Oops, how do I know *for sure* that OJ did it? How do you know *for sure* that Iraq's government must be toppled?

Kings claimed sovereign rights long before the UN. And certainly no one thinks we should be able to invade countries wily nilly, or go to war lightly.
Funny, I had the distnct impression you were suggesting exactly that. Let me quote a bit more to explain myself.
I agree with your implied disagreement here. The US national interest while a necessary condition to war with Iraq, is not a sufficient one. We also need to consider the people of Iraq and the other people of the world.
You are saying that the US taking a decision wihout other countries' input is not sufficient for invading Iraq. No, the US must also estimate without other countries' input what the likely cost in Iraqi lives will be, in case the marginal rate of return is insufficient to warrant the expense in dollars and public disapproval.

Here's a quick solution if you happen to be catholic. Ask the pope. He's certainly going to give an entirely moral, and authoritative, answer. Much better than the Bush administrations's answer, certainly.

If you are going to have a government then at the very least it should defend the rights of its people. If you are going to have law, you should at the very least start with laws against mass murdering totalitarian regimes. If the UN doesn't even have that, then it has no moral authority.
I'm with you. We have an international court of justice in the Hague. Milosevic is being tried there. The US should file charges against Hussein and propose a UN resolution to deliver Hussein to the court. If it passes, the Iraqi people can elect another leader of their own choice. The UN can supervise the electoral process.

[ Parent ]
-1 to *anything else* with Iraq in its Title (nt) (1.46 / 15) (#52)
by DranoK 420 on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 01:21:50 AM EST


Poetry is simply a convenient excuse for incoherence.


+1, discussion-centric (1.85 / 7) (#59)
by Go5 on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 03:56:19 AM EST



Most of those arguments are valid (3.10 / 10) (#63)
by svampa on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 06:10:18 AM EST

1. Shoot yourself in the foot by insisting that there's never any justification for invading a sovereign nation.

There is not any justification without a previous aggression. Other cases are difficult to justify. And from the point of view of international comunity only UN can justify it.

2. Quote Scott Ritter as a definitive source of accurate information.

Ok. Did he lie then or does he lie now?. Let's send new inspectors

3. Argue that we have nothing to fear from Saddam's weapons

Allowing Saddam to get the bomb so significantly increases the potential costs of going to some later, justified war against Saddam,

A preventive attack because of future, far hypothetical possibility of damage justifies almost any coutry to attack their neighbour.

Israel poses a slightly different problem, and it's not hard to imagine Saddam considering the use of nuclear weapons on Israel, considering that he has demonstrated a willingness to fire on that country in the past.

Why ? USSR and USA have been willing to atttack one each other for years, that would be the end of Iraq.

4. But we didn't object when Pakistan and India got the bomb, and they're more likely to use it than Saddam is. Why don't we change their regimes?

The solution is to let Iran, Arabia Saudi etc have WMD, so they sit and talk as Pakistan and India.

The truth is that none wants a nuclear war, nuclear power is a good deterence.

5. Everything the US does is bad

None protests against how reprentatives are elected in USA. But unilateral actions that affect other countries are critizied.

Whenever USA rejects to sign an international treat that every democratic country signs si bad

Whenever USA interferes in foreign governments is bad

Whenever USA does a military attack out of its frontiers without a previous aggression is bad (#1).

Whenever USA pretend that acts in the name of the international peace and stability and ignores international comunity, is bad. Are the rest of the countries stupid and need the wisdom of USA to make a decision?

Whenever USA does a military attack out of its frontiers without a previous aggression in the name of mundial peace is suspect of acting in its own interests.(#1).

Whenever USA attacks a weak country to defend economic interests is bad

This article, USA will share the oil whith the countries that support Iraq war , in "El País" has been shown in every Spanish presss, "El País" is not underground press, it's the first or the second newspaper in Spain. Yes, you are right, all those arguments about WMD are ridiculous. Here you have the war justification Whose oil?



One illogical point (1.00 / 1) (#65)
by Quila on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 08:07:58 AM EST

Whenever USA rejects to sign an international treat that every democratic country signs si bad

Stemming from the fallacy argumentum ad populum.

Also, maybe a bit of fallacy of exclusion too, in that the U.S. stands to take much of the burden of the treaty, while many of the signees had nothing to lose by signing it.

[ Parent ]

It's not about logic (none / 0) (#78)
by svampa on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 11:34:45 AM EST

Stemming from the fallacy argumentum ad populum.

We are not talking about logic, we are talking about attitude of international comunity towards USA behavior. And usually the only argument to reject is "It's a nice and just treat and I full agree as long as it is applied to other countries and USA is excluded."

that the U.S. stands to take much of the burden of the treaty,

Probably because the abuses the treat tries to prevent are or could be applicable to USA and not so much to the other countries.

Kioto. USA is the champion of polution
Anti-personal mines. USA forbides the use, but is the first productor !?
International tribunal. Probably is the country that has had more wars (aboard) in the lasy 50 years. And the one that has more troops aboard.



[ Parent ]
debate = logic (5.00 / 1) (#87)
by Quila on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 02:43:12 PM EST

Plus, I believe you were talking about Kyoto. If so, then "It's a nice and just treat and I full agree as long as it is applied to other countries and USA is excluded." isn't one the U.S.'s big problems with it. A major problem is that those other countries get off easy, while the U.S. has to bear the major economic impact of it. Even Russia and China -- very big polluters -- have nothing to loose by signing it, and can even vastly increase pollution output under the treaty.

Anti-personal mines. USA forbides the use, but is the first productor

I thought Russia was. The only exception we wanted was in one specific place, the Korea DMZ, and no one lives there and all locations are carefully recorded for later removal.

International tribunal.

I don't know why we didn't agree to that one, but then I don't know the exact language of it. If it is as I heard, where the tribunal will do nothing if the normal channels of justice in the U.S. are used in cases, then I can see no reason for not signing it. That would seem to eliminate the main fear, which is if U.S. troops are on a U.N mission, and a politically motivated tribunal prosecution ensues.

So possibly chalk the last one up to Bush's cowboy attitude and general ignorance of international affairs.

[ Parent ]

International tribunal (1.00 / 1) (#103)
by DingBat1 on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 07:26:02 AM EST


Everyone seems to have just swallowed the idea that this is a no-brainer.

In a newspaper article a few months ago, retired Canadian Maj. Gen. Lewis Mackenzie covered some of the reasons the U.S. might not want to sign such a treaty.

Mackenzie was the initial U.N. force commander for the UNPROFOR(?) force in Croatia. Mackenzie related that he himself had bogus "charges" laid against him by one of the combatants in order to have him removed and replaced with someone more sympathetic to their cause. He himself, a man with many UN missions under his belt, was undecided about the worthiness of this treaty.

It's all well and good for a country like, say Spain, to complain about the U.S. refusal to sign this treaty, but then they rarely, if ever, contribute troops to U.N. missions or are called on to fight a real war.

Finally, people seem to jump to the bizarre conclusion that because the U.S. will not sign this treaty, they actually support war crimes. Of course not. They just prefer to handle it in house. Recently, the U.S. filed manslaugher and assault charges against two U.S. pilots for the friendly fire incident in Afghanistan that killed 4 Canadians. If they're willing to do that for a friendly fire incident, it might be a bit premature to assume they are going to go soft on war criminals. Or maybe not. We'll see.


[ Parent ]

Yes, The War Crimes of the U.S. (4.50 / 2) (#106)
by MichaelCrawford on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 07:43:00 AM EST

Why yes...

Finally, people seem to jump to the bizarre conclusion that because the U.S. will not sign this treaty, they actually support war crimes.

The war crimes of the U.S. are too numerous to mention. I mean this in all seriousness. I'm too tired to list many of the more well-known examples, but there are many.

One is the U.S.-backed armed overthrow of a democratically elected government in Chile in the early 70's. The dictatorship that we installed murdered thousands, I don't know, maybe tens of thousands of Chilean citizens.

This goes back a long ways. At the turn of the century, Mark Twain made himself hated by all "right thinking" americans by speaking out against U.S. atrocities in the Philippines. heres a Google search that will get you started reading up about it.

Let us not forget distributing smallpox-infected blankets to native americans. Europeans had developed some natural resistance to smallpox over the centuries, but native americans had none, and when Europeans brought it to the new world it devastated them.

I have yet to see any real reason to believe that the U.S. has done anything of substance to stop its war crimes. Yes, I think the U.S. specifically fears havings its soldiers, even its government officials, brought up before the International Criminal Court to answer for it.

Do you know that the soldier who led the massacre at Mai Lai was never really punished for it?


--

Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy


[ Parent ]

Intense waves of deja vu (2.33 / 3) (#107)
by DingBat1 on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 08:11:44 AM EST


"One is the U.S.-backed armed overthrow of a democratically elected government in Chile in the early 70's. The dictatorship that we installed murdered thousands, I don't know, maybe tens of thousands of Chilean citizens."

How did I know this was going to come up?

First, different generation, different world, different mindset. Cold war mindset. Reds under every bed. Seems silly now, doesn't it? But it was real to that generation.

It's a bad piece in american history but if you think it's a reason to flog the U.S. over their refusal to sign this treaty, you are wrong.

Secondly, my next door neighbour is Chilean. She has no love for Pinochet but she HATED Allende's government. I gather that her family was middle class and had most of their property stolen from them. They fled the country before the coup because they had received death threats.

She was 7 or so at the time so I doubt she did anything to deserve it.

"Do you know that the soldier who led the massacre at Mai Lai was never really punished for it?"

Yes, actually I did. Do you have something more recent than 40 years ago?

Let's get this straight: I think the U.S. should sign the treaty, but I don't think that 40 year old references necessarily mean they aren't signing just to avoid CURRENT war crimes. Sigh. The eternal optimist.

[ Parent ]

It was still a war crime (5.00 / 1) (#169)
by deaddrunk on Sun Sep 22, 2002 at 09:42:08 AM EST

And the man largely responsible for it still has his freedom. If there's a justification for still pursuing Nazi war criminals nearly sixty years after the fact, there's certainly justification for Henry Kissinger to stand trial.

[ Parent ]
I think I know why we didn't sign it (4.00 / 1) (#118)
by Quila on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 10:22:37 AM EST

Because maybe the politicians ordering bombings might be tried? Do you think they actually care about whether a few troops go to jail in the U.S.? They want to keep themselves out.

[ Parent ]
No kidding (2.50 / 2) (#105)
by DingBat1 on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 07:34:45 AM EST


"We are not talking about logic, we are talking about attitude of international comunity towards USA behavior. And usually the only argument to reject is "It's a nice and just treat and I full agree as long as it is applied to other countries and USA is excluded." "

Yeah, we most certainly aren't talking about logic here, are we?

Given that the U.S. is a world power it logically follows that they will have a much wider range of interests than say a internationally insignificant nation such as Spain or Canada. It also follows that these multi-national treaties will also affect U.S. policy more directly.

Spain or Canada will sign just about any damn international treaty put in front of them because, nine times out of ten, it means nothing to them. Moreover, the treaty signing ceremony is most likely the last time a country like Spain or Canada is ever bothered by that treaty again.

I'm happy Canada signed these treaties and I do think they're the right thing but I stop short of condemning the U.S. for approaching said treaties with their own interests in mind. You might think about doing the same thing.


[ Parent ]

Argumentum ad sphincterum (4.00 / 1) (#95)
by Wulfius on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 01:38:28 AM EST

So what you are saying is then that the US
is right because its not following the rest of the nations?

You cant have your cake and eat it too son.

The US has demonstrated quite convincingly in the past that its unilateral actions are wrong
and that the international commuity was right.

---
"We must believe in free will, we have no choice."
http://wulfspawprints.blogspot.com/ - Not a journal dammit!
[ Parent ]

Learn your fallacies (1.00 / 1) (#99)
by Quila on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 03:25:54 AM EST

So what you are saying is then that the US is right because its not following the rest of the nations?

That is not argumentum ad populum.

[ Parent ]

Onus of Proof (4.40 / 5) (#76)
by iwnbap on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 11:07:55 AM EST

Point 1 is a caricature of the real argument; that the conventions place the onus of proof of the malfesance of Iraq on the nation presuming to invade it, and further that the burden of proof in these instances is high.  The UN agreements on soveignty essentially codify this, by stating that violation of soverignty should only occur with Security Council agreement, which can only occur if not vetoed by the five permanent members.  In essence, it is hard, and it should be hard to justify invading a soverign nation.  Not impossible.

If Iraq has WMD of whatever nature and plans to use them, it's possible that a case could be made for an invasion.  But the evidence ought to be pretty bulletproof.  We know the US has centimetre resolution cameras trained on Iraq day-in-day-out - I find it hard to countenance that there's not some hard evidence in the form of pictures that could be produced. US SIGINT is also pretty ferocious in its capacity.  Has -*-nothing-*- hard been picked up?

If there is evidence that Iraq is developing WMD, it won't be in the form of a signed memo from Hussein saying "I think WMD should be used against Chicago, please build me a mega-bomb Mr Engineer."  It will be in the form of a database of documents in the thousands of pages, detailing flows of potential munitions components, tracing them from country to country, sattelite imagery demonstrating usage of sites close to the delivery points, signals intelligence which is ambiguous in isolation but meaningful in context, etc. This should (as far as is practical) be realeased to the public.  Pre-digested press release style speeches such as were delivered to the UN don't reach that bar.

The best statement I can find from a US government source is this: http://www.state.gov/p/nea/rls/01fs/13456.htm which to my mind is grossly inadequate. Statements like "Saddam Hussein has repeatedly met with his nuclear scientists over the past two years, signaling his continued interest in developing his nuclear program" sit entirely unsupported by evidence in the document.  We do have statements like: "At their al-Mamoun facility, the Iraqis have rebuilt structures that had been dismantled by UNSCOM that were originally designed to manufacture solid propellant motors for the Badr-2000 missile program", but how much additional effort would be required to release the image? (and as an aside, under the floated "no hospitals" agreement with Iraq, would that be destroyed anyway?)

Assuming the US Govenrment has this evidence, (and indeed intends to invade Iraq) why does it not simply release it? If it is to be justified in acting unilaterally on this issue, then that is what it should do.

Mind you (5.00 / 1) (#77)
by iwnbap on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 11:09:34 AM EST

On re-reading the article a bit closer, I do note you've effectively said this at the end of point 2.

Oops.


[ Parent ]

<here i take the lords name in vain> (none / 0) (#160)
by Josh A on Sat Sep 21, 2002 at 07:04:00 AM EST

I stopped reading when I got to the word "malfesance"...

---
Thank God for Canada, if only because they annoy the Republicans so much. – Blarney


[ Parent ]
Slight correction (4.08 / 12) (#84)
by railruler on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 12:24:20 PM EST

"Not because Saddam, a man who has already violated the conditions of his surrender by throwing inspectors out of the country"

Try "Not because Saddam, a man who has already violated the conditions of the cease-fire by imposing impossible conditions on the inspectors causing them to leave the country in protest

Nonsense (2.52 / 17) (#94)
by Wulfius on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 01:31:57 AM EST

1. Invading a sovereign nation is ALLWAYS immoral and unjust. It is a sign that you are either incompetent or unwiling to use diplomacy or worse
are a puppet of vested interests or worse yet use
the invasion as a distracion.

2. Every country on the planet is capable
of producing weapons of mass destruction.
Anyone who has a pharmcology industry (Aspirin factory) or agricultural industry (man made fertilizers) can make biological and bacteriological weapons. In fact many pharmaceuticals involve making vats of virulent bugs. For US to bleet about IRAQS capacity to
create weapons of mass distraction is propaganda.

Speaking of a country which does  not allow UN inspectors. The US, yes UNITED STATES does
not allow US inspectors of its own ABC facilities. But we are so used to the US hypocrisy that it doesnt even make the (US controlled) media.

3. Well the only people who have to fear
from Saddam are the Israelis.
And since in the words of SHARON the Isralie chief warmonger "Israel controls the US"
the US puppet regime controlled from Jerusalem
does Sharons bidding.

Saddam only attacked 2 coutries (Iran and Kuwait)
The US had over 130 military adventures since the end of world war 2. Given the two statistics say
its the US that is more likely to attack a sovereign coutry that Iraq.
A clear case of the pot calling the kettle black.

4. We dont say anything about India and Pakistani
nukes precisely because they do HAVE the nukes.
Saddam WANTS a nuke. If he had one US would be
sucking his cock like they do with everyone else
who has them. He knows it, thats why he wants it so bad.

5. Everything the US does is good. For the US.
---


---
"We must believe in free will, we have no choice."
http://wulfspawprints.blogspot.com/ - Not a journal dammit!

RE: Nonsense (3.00 / 2) (#145)
by bchbum29 on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 04:33:55 PM EST

As far are your points are concerned: Point 1, not invading countries. Sure, we should never invade a country. I guess we should have never gone within Germany's borders during WW2 then. Or France's then. I mean, since it's NEVER ok to invade a country. Point 2, everyone is capable of WMDs. Is every country capable of refining uranian to make nuclear weapons? That is the big concern. As far as the US being subject to UN weapons inspections, I don't recall the US surrendering during a war against the UN, and having the terms of that surrender be allowing UN weapons inspectors access to our installations. I must have missed that one. Point 3. Guess what, to the USA, Iraq is a bigger threat than the USA. We aren't TOO scared of ourselves (yet). Point 4. The USA had sanctions against India and Pakistan due to their choice to create nuclear weapons. And even if Saddam had them, we could hardly suck his cock as it seems it's rammed pretty deeply up your ass my friend :) Point 5. Yeah, no shit dumbass. Our government does what's good for our country. I should fucking hope so. That's the point of a country, to protect and defend the common good of it's people. What the hell are we supposed to do? Luckily for the world what's good for the USA is a hell of a lot nicer than what would have been good for the USSR should it won the cold war, or what will be good for China should we loose on that front.

[ Parent ]
So what do you think of my letter to Congress? (4.57 / 14) (#98)
by GoingWare on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 02:52:36 AM EST

I wrote a letter to my two Senators and my House rep today. I posted it in my K5 diary. Before I wrote the letters I called each of their offices and discussed my position with their staff.

Basically my point is that Bush is trying to distract the public mind from the faltering economy - especially his involvement in it. Before Enron's bankrupcy, Ken Lay was George Bush' best buddy, not only a frequent visitor to the White House but also one of Bush' top campaign contributors.

Bush and Vice President Cheney both committed the same sort of "accounting irregularities" when they ran texas oil companies as later caused Enron, Adelphia and WorldCom to collapse.

While unethical, these acts were (mostly) legal at the time, but would have landed both of them in Federal prison had they been committed after the recently enacted corporate responsibility act was passed.

There is a lot of reason to believe the elder President Bush forced the SEC to take no action when they investigated Dubya for insider trading violations that were involved in this.

There is a lengthier discussion of this in my last two Advogato diary entries.

I'm not the only one who thinks Bush is using war to distract the public from their domestic problems. The german minister of justice says "Bush wants to divert attention from his domestic problems. It's a classic tactic. It's one that Hitler used.".

A sticky point is that both my Senators are Republicans. They are highly regarded by Mainers though and seem like decent people. I appealed to their moral sense and suggested they shouldn't stoop to Bush' level.

Some comments in reply to my diary suggested I might not have employed the best strategy for convincing my Congresscritters. I didn't really expect to convince any of them with my arguments - but I wanted them to know that there were voters who were determined not to let Bush get away with his scheme. I wanted them to know that they could do better than let themselves be associated with his machinations.

Here's the icing on the cake. The Vice President is being sued for accounting fraud from his work as an executive at Halliburton. A completely disreputable, yet highly effective way to defend yourself in a lawsuit is to duck the process server. You'd think someone so much in the public eye as Dick Cheney wouldn't be able to sidestep a process - but he did.

How? He had the White House security staff threaten to arrest the process server!.


I am the K5 user now known as MichaelCrawford. I am not my corporation.


Right on, brother! (5.00 / 1) (#101)
by NaCh0 on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 05:55:08 AM EST

Goingware, you hit the nail on the head. I'm so glad that someone else caught on to the vast right wing conspiracy.

See, it was Bush who told all of these companies to lie on their balance sheets in the late 90s. Bush is a really sly politician, so he even got DNC Chair Terry McAuliffe's darling Global Crossing to go bankrupt and screw tons of people too. That way when his administration caught them in the lie (Bush influenced Clintons not to check companies on their watch), he would have the perfect excuse to attack Iraq.

He had been orchestrating the economic bubble before he even got into office. Its amazing how such a complete and utter fucking moron like Bush could pull off his 'scheme' so perfectly. I commend you for crossposting the same thing to all the geek boards you frequent -- Hitler references and all!

Keep fighting the good fight. I look forward to future enlightenment from your side of the internet.
--
K5: Your daily dose of socialism.
[ Parent ]

You're very welcome. Anytime. (5.00 / 4) (#102)
by MichaelCrawford on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 06:14:11 AM EST

If I'm such a paranoid conspiracy theorist, why is Congress having to fight so hard to get the White House to release the Securities and Exchange Commission's records of their investigation into Dubya's insider trading?

The fact that Ken Lay was Bush' most generous contributor is a matter of public record. Very likely you can verify that yourself by searching on the Federal Election Commission's website.

Also note that Bush was a director at Harken when the (publicly traded) company filed a false earning statement. The SEC later forced Harken to restate this profit as a loss.

It was Bush selling his stock before Harken's price plummeted that got him personally investigated by the SEC for insider trading. Nothing came of the investigation though. Perhaps it was mere coincidence that Dubya's dad was President at the time.

Finally, Bush got the same kind of loans under very favorable and very questionable terms that the Rigas family got from now-bankrupt Adelphia. Such loans have recently been made illegal. They were merely unethical back then.

I don't know as much about the accounting fraud lawsuit against Vice President Dick Cheney - but note that I'm not the one who filed it.

No, I'm not claiming at all that Bush and Cheney caused the huge economic devastation that came about from the collapse of WorldCom, Enron, Adelphia and (thanks, I'd forgotten) Global Crossing.

No, but they were participating in all the same schemes to enrich themselves at the time, and they were granting substantial political favors to those who have been indicted for causing the devastation.

Tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of people have lost their jobs and their retirement savings as a result of the kind of schemes that Bush and Cheney participated in. California energy consumers were bilked out of billions of dollars as a result of illegal supply manipulation by Dubya's best buddy Ken Lay and (guess who!) the Secretary of the Army.

Elderly people who thought they could relax to enjoy their last years have been forced to go back to work, during tough economic times, just to get by. This because of the collapse of companies run by Bush' best buddies, which were managed in the same way Bush and Cheney managed theirs.

These are inconvenient facts that the President just would rather Americans not remember when they cast their vote this November.

Consider another question - we've kept Saddam contained for eleven years. Why is Bush threatening war now, just when the Afghanistan war is winding down and the midterm elections are fast approaching?

As I said, anytime.


--

Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy


[ Parent ]

Savings and Loan (5.00 / 4) (#108)
by peace on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 08:25:16 AM EST

Not to mention this is the same family that in the 80's found itself tangled up in the S&L wash out. That time it was Jeb Bush, who I guess is serving his penence down there in Florida.

The Bush family has shown that it is not a nice group of people, and when they poke a stick in the nations eye over and over again it's not paranoia to take notice and ask that it stop.

Kind Regards

[ Parent ]

hear hear! (nt) (5.00 / 1) (#110)
by gr00vey on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 08:57:55 AM EST



[ Parent ]
Whatever... (5.00 / 1) (#121)
by jmzero on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 10:37:01 AM EST

Whatever Bush's past shenanigans (and I'm sure there's plenty), I think you really have to deal with "Iraq" and "accounting scandals" separately.  

Why?  Because they're completely different things.  Either a war with Iraq is a good idea right now or it isn't.

As a sidenote, putting Bush in the same bucket as Enron is surely overstating the case against him.  Putting him in the same bucket as Hitler is a way to ensure that nobody takes you seriously.

As I said before "You're just doing this to distract people" is going to be an effective argument with precisely the same people who already agree with you.    

Why not try to convince people with logic rather than innuendo?  Prove to people that Bush did something wrong, then prove to them that going to Iraq is a bad idea.  Despite your lack of faith, people can reason, and they can even keep two things in their mind.

.
"Let's not stir that bag of worms." - my lovely wife
[ Parent ]

Wag the dog (none / 0) (#137)
by enry on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 01:54:27 PM EST

I seem to remember this quote coming up a LOT during the past administration. Why does it not come up now?

[ Parent ]
No one needs to distract the US people. (none / 0) (#140)
by mingofmongo on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 02:09:24 PM EST

No one cares. Everyone knows "Enron Evil" but no-one wants to know why because, "I don't want to think about that financial stuff."

Why on earth would anyone try to distract people away from something they don't care about or understand anyway?

"What they don't seem to get is that the key to living the good life is to avoid that brass ring like the fucking plague."
--The Onion
[ Parent ]

big stretch (none / 0) (#162)
by Phantros on Sat Sep 21, 2002 at 10:55:56 AM EST

Regardless of whether Bush is connected to Enron in some way, it's a tremendous stretch to say he is responsible for the faltering economy, and an even bigger one to say that Iraq was cooked up as a distraction for that. It would be a lot more accurate to blame a combination of cyclicality, "irrational exuberance" in the tech sector, and terrorism for our economic troubles. I can't properly explain the motivation for wanting to attack Iraq because it's partly irrational, but a distraction certainly is not it.

4Literature - 2,000 books online and Scoop to discuss them with
[ Parent ]

Alternatives (5.00 / 9) (#100)
by alizard on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 03:35:14 AM EST

Personally, I think it's time to make the Middle East politically irrelevant by mandating a replacement of fossil fuel technology with... everything else. Hydrogen fuel cells, powersats, hybrid-fueled vehicles... improved lighting technology (did you know there was a hybrid incandescent/fluorescent bulb?), more efficient heating/cooling lots of different technologies out there.

My point is that waiting for the marketplace to solve this problem is going to get the US into lots more stupid little wars and police actions and solving the problem once and for all is probably a lot cheaper than the extra costs for military support, and infrastructure rebuilding the current policies will require.

My thinking is that a combination of "stick" (meet these requirements or else) and "carrots" in terms of government subsidies, loan guarantees, preferential purchases by government agencies might actually work.

The technology solutions to this problem now exist everywhere from the Big 3 automakers to startups all over the place. Some solutions are yet to be discovered. This is a problem that can be solved by throwing money at it. Better throw money at this than at significantly enlarging our military and our internal police presence.

With respect to making war on Saddam Hussein, if it needs doing, I'll support it.

Bush hasn't made an adequate case for doing this.

The news I'm hearing coming out of Afghanistan (You read OSINT-L?) suggests that due to some mistakes in dealing with the various tribal minorites that make up the Afghani population, all hell is about to break loose over there. Can we invade Iraq AND put a much larger military presence in Afghanistan at the same time? I'm dubious.

Our miltary strategy and tactics may be fundamentally flawed. Check War games rigged? General says Millennium Challenge 02 `was almost entirely scripted' for details. That war game was intended to test the current military strategy for invading an unnamed Arab country. The Op-Force commander whacked the "good guys" through intelligent use of resources available to an Arab military commander.

The big question is...Is Saddam any more dangerous this year than he was last year at this time? Or just before the Gulf War? Remember, the reason why Saddam isn't history is because our President's father decided not to take out Saddam despite the fact that his army had been smashed.

I'm very much inclined to believe that Bush would launch a war to distract Americans from the financial irregularities people he's involved with are involved in. You don't think he hasn't seen "Wag the Dog"? Though I really don't think the director meant this as a DIY guide for Presidents.

As I said, I'll support him if he makes a believable case. His current diplomatic successes suggest more hardball politics than having actually presented made a case to foriegn nations. Where's the new info to justify a war?
"The horse is dead. Fuck it or walk away, but stop beating it." Juan Rico

Timing (4.00 / 1) (#119)
by jmzero on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 10:26:51 AM EST

"No new evidence or cause" seems like a silly excuse.  Either there's enough cause for action now or there isn't - who cares whether it's the same as it was before?

Pretend for a moment that there is very good cause for war in Iraq (and I don't think there is) and there has been since 1990.  Should we hold off action now simply out of tradition?  

Perhaps not taking out Saddam earlier on was a mistake - how does that lead inexorably to "it is a mistake to do it now?" (unless you believe that the past actions of the US leaders were infallible).

I'm very much inclined to believe that Bush would launch a war to distract Americans from the financial irregularities people he's involved with are involved in

That's unfair.  I believe it could be somewhat of an extra motivator, but pretending that Bush doesn't really believe in his more legitimate reasons is silly.  

As I said, I'll support him if he makes a believable case.

My thoughts exactly.  Right now I'm hoping that the whole routine is just "playing bad cop" to try to force back weapons inspectors.

.
"Let's not stir that bag of worms." - my lovely wife
[ Parent ]

General Van Riper (5.00 / 1) (#131)
by Genady on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 12:06:19 PM EST

Check War games rigged? General says Millennium Challenge 02 `was almost entirely scripted' for details. That war game was intended to test the current military strategy for invading an unnamed Arab country.

While some of what General Van Riper has said pubicly is worthy of contemplation, to say that the war game was rigged is an over simplification. Saying that all it takes to defeat the US military is one ornery Marine general thinking outside the box would be more appropriate. (Lets just hope that Saddam doesn't hire any ;)

--
Turtles all the way down.
[ Parent ]
you could be right (none / 0) (#155)
by alizard on Sat Sep 21, 2002 at 02:44:58 AM EST

However, we can't plan strategy based on the idea that the bad guys are going to stay stupid forever. That kind of thinking gets armies ground into hamburger.

Saddam's got the bucks to hire competent military strategists, even if the culture doesn't support growing his own.
"The horse is dead. Fuck it or walk away, but stop beating it." Juan Rico
[ Parent ]

Isolationalists (4.33 / 3) (#109)
by wiredog on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 08:41:33 AM EST

One thing that people seem to forget, or perhaps don't realize, is that there's a strong streak of isolationism in the US. A UN failure to enforce the various resolutions could give the US the excuse that many isolationists want to get the US out of all UN operations. I wonder if the Bush Administration isn't laying a trap for the UN.

Earth first! We can strip mine the rest later.
You use that term ... (none / 0) (#112)
by cyberbuffalo on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 09:02:37 AM EST

... but I do not think you know what it means. It amazes me how Bush gets labeled an isolationist and yet with Iraq and the "War on terror" everyone is decrying his interventionalism. He isn't an isolationist if he wants to send the military hither and yon.

[ Parent ]
conservative isolationists (none / 0) (#113)
by cyberbuffalo on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 09:10:33 AM EST

1. Shoot yourself in the foot by insisting that there's never any justification for invading a sovereign nation.

This is the argument that most troubles me, especially when it comes from relatively liberal people like myself. Over the past century, we've heard this sort of thing from isolationist conservatives, people who're just as happy to let the rest of the world fall apart because it's "not their business" (the chic, euphemistic way of saying this is by reverently invoking the abstract principle of "national sovereignty".)

Conservative isolationists do not say that there is no good reason to invade a sovereign nation. If the US was threatened, being attacked or invaded itself, then that would be a pretty good reason. But that reason has been scarce this century. How many Americans were sacrificed in WW1, WW2, Korea, and Vietnam that didn't have to be? Europe's wars aren't our business. They never used to be and it was a bad change that has cost many American lives.

[ Parent ]

conservative isolationists (3.75 / 4) (#114)
by cyberbuffalo on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 09:13:55 AM EST

1. Shoot yourself in the foot by insisting that there's never any justification for invading a sovereign nation.

This is the argument that most troubles me, especially when it comes from relatively liberal people like myself. Over the past century, we've heard this sort of thing from isolationist conservatives, people who're just as happy to let the rest of the world fall apart because it's "not their business" (the chic, euphemistic way of saying this is by reverently invoking the abstract principle of "national sovereignty".)

Conservative isolationists do not say that there is no good reason to invade a sovereign nation. If the US was threatened, being attacked or invaded itself, then that would be a pretty good reason. But that reason has been scarce this century. How many Americans were sacrificed in WW1, WW2, Korea, and Vietnam that didn't have to be? Europe's wars aren't our business. They never used to be and it was a bad change that has cost many American lives.

It is everyone's business (3.50 / 2) (#120)
by wurp on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 10:34:18 AM EST

to prevent atrocities and otherwise contribute to the common good. It is "none of our business" in exactly the same way that is none of a passerby's business that you're being mugged, and we should react the same in the global community as we should act in personal affairs.
---
Buy my stuff
[ Parent ]
your business, not everyone's (none / 0) (#122)
by cyberbuffalo on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 10:52:19 AM EST

The military should be used for a very specific purpose, defense. If you feel the need to stop atrocities then go join the rebel force in whatever 3rd world country you hope to save. Why let others have all the fun dying for your common good?

[ Parent ]
Genocide (3.00 / 1) (#128)
by DingBat1 on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 11:32:02 AM EST


Actually, the Genocide Convention is an exception to your rule. This treaty REQUIRES signees to act in the face of genocide. At least that's the idea.

Which is why Europe, the U.S. and the rest of the world were falling all over each other trying NOT to call what happened in Rwanda genocide: no one wanted to do anything.

You could make a case that Saddam is conducting genocide on Kurds but then you might have to invade Turkey as well.

[ Parent ]

I used to think this way... (1.50 / 2) (#154)
by tarpy on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 11:52:24 PM EST

...but then I played this little mental exercise...say you were walking down the street and you saw someone being viciously attacked...wouldn't you feel the moral imperative to come to that person's aid? To help them?

What would YOU have done had it been YOU on the road to Jerico? Me; I can only hope that I would have had the courage to do what we all know is right.


Sir, this is old skool. Old skool. I salute you! - Knot In The Face
[ Parent ]

Hitler declared war on the U.S. (none / 0) (#123)
by Wildgoose on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 10:55:22 AM EST

...around 2 weeks after Pearl Harbour if I recall correctly.

Now you may argue that Europe's wars were none of your concern, but I would argue that waiting whilst Nazi Germany eliminated opposition in Europe and then built up the capabilities to attack the continental United States would be...well, stupid actually.

[ Parent ]

FDR's policies (none / 0) (#124)
by cyberbuffalo on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 11:06:07 AM EST

We were firing on U-boats long before Hitler delcared war on the US. Germany would not have attacked the continental US, but if it had then that would have be a good reason for war. As it happened though we were looking to enter the war.

[ Parent ]
Defending American Ships (none / 0) (#127)
by Wildgoose on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 11:21:31 AM EST

My understanding was that you were defending American ships from U-Boat attack. Although I accept your point that FDR's policies favoured democratic Britain over totalitarian Germany.

[ Parent ]
If America wasn't involved (4.33 / 3) (#138)
by Peaker on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 01:58:41 PM EST

Then Europe would probably be under the control of the Third Reich now, and there wouldn't be a lot of Jews, gypsies or gay people around.

Also note that with the power of an entire enslaved Europe, Hitler or his successors could have had a good chance against the US.

Do you get what you are saying at all?

[ Parent ]

Moral and practical difficulties (5.00 / 2) (#141)
by dachshund on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 02:15:58 PM EST

How many Americans were sacrificed in WW1, WW2, Korea, and Vietnam that didn't have to be?

Morally, I'm with some of the other posters in this thread who argue we do have a certain obligation as human beings to prevent slaughter whenever possible. However, there are also practical problems with the isolationist viewpoint: particularly, it's shortsighted.

That some people can lump together all of wars you mentioned above is an example of the problem. I personally think that intervention in Vietnam was pointless, and I know that there were people in the 1930s and 40s who felt that intervention in Europe was pointless. I'll probably never know with utter certainty whether I was right, but history (and common sense) should be enough to convince anyone that the WWII isolationists were almost certainly wrong.

At the risk of invoking Godwin, the problem with their argument was simple shortsightedness. To imagine that a conquered Europe, Africa, and potentially Asia/Eurasia wouldn't pose a dire threat to the US was sheer foolishness (and god help us if our enemies had been the first to develop nuclear weaponry). A lot of American lives were unnecessarily lost simply because we stayed out of that war for so long.

So the point that I was trying to make is that any inflexible viewpoint is bound to be wrong under certain circumstances. I'm just as willing to castigate the uber-hawks who want to wage war as I am to point out the flaws in the "peace, always" and "peace, unless we can draw a direct and immediate line to American safety" arguments.

[ Parent ]

Sadam WANTS israel involved (4.66 / 3) (#115)
by C0vardeAn0nim0 on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 09:57:03 AM EST

"Israel poses a slightly different problem, and it's not hard to imagine Saddam considering the use of nuclear weapons on Israel, considering that he has demonstrated a willingness to fire on that country in the past. The problem with this scenario is twofold: 1) he would suffer an even more devastating retaliation from Israel if he ever made such a move, and 2) the nuclear weapons Saddam is likely to develop--if he does develop them--probably won't be small enough to mount on the end of a Scud. This would force him to consider some alternate delivery platform, placing both Saddam and a very precious weapon at an enormous amount of risk."

push your memory back to Desert storm days. Sadam started firing Al Sadam and Al Hussein missiles (there's no such thing as "Scud" missiles in Iraq. what they have is two kinds of missiles, Al Sadam and Al Hussein, made with parts of russian Scuds.) in Israel trying to force this country in activelly supporting the alied efforts by sending troops or at least bombers.

Why then Israel stayed out of the war ? because some neighbour countries said that they'd only support the allies for as long as Israel stayed home. Sadam knew this and tried to force Israel into the war, the end result would be countries like Siria or Libia to join Iraq's side.

Today things are much different. The only country that strongly supports US is England. In midle-east Siria, Iran, Egipt and others already oposes any action. If Israel get involved they might even send their troops to fight against US.

Long story short: if US atacks, you can be sure Iraq will fire heavilly against Israel, and considering the current Israel/Palestine situation, many people in midle-east will applaud.

http://www.comofazer.net
Nukes (5.00 / 1) (#129)
by ScuzzMonkey on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 11:37:42 AM EST

I think you're missing that he is talking about nuclear engagement here, not just conventional bombardment.

I think it is likely that Iraq would fire heavily on Israel to try to draw it into a conventional war, for exactly the reasons you mention. I think it's just as unlikely that Iraq would ever dare use a nuclear device against Israel, which is what the author of the article is talking about. Although unacknowledged (I believe that's still true), it's widely believed that Israel has a significant and well-developed nuclear capability of its own. A newly developed, relatively primitive, and very limited capability that Iraq might have is not a match for that. Saddam is many things, but not suicidal, and I do not believe that he would take any steps toward getting his power base glassed. Moreover, as much as they hate Israel, I don't think it likely that any other Arab states would be inclined to step into a conflict at that end of the scale, which pretty much obviates the point of doing it in the first place.

Convential attacks: yes. Nuclear attacks (even if possible): no.


No relation to Happy Monkey (User #5786)
[ Parent ]

Saddam's not suicidal.... yet. (5.00 / 1) (#133)
by Genady on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 12:20:16 PM EST

Saddam is many things, but not suicidal, and I do not believe that he would take any steps toward getting his power base glassed.

But if his back was to the wall and US troops were marching through the streets of Bahgdad? That's the whole problem with cornering wild animals really, you don't have any idea what they're going to do. Probably worse than nuking israel Saddam could nuke the oil fields. It would almost be poetic justice.

--
Turtles all the way down.
[ Parent ]
I agree (none / 0) (#135)
by ScuzzMonkey on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 12:46:58 PM EST

Certainly, back to the wall, why not? Nothing to lose there. I just don't think he'd do it at the start, to draw Israel into things--because that's not a way that he want's Israeli participation! At the end, sure... all bets are off.


No relation to Happy Monkey (User #5786)
[ Parent ]

Sharon durring the Gulf War II (3.00 / 2) (#132)
by Genady on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 12:12:31 PM EST

Today things are much different. The only country that strongly supports US is England. In midle-east Siria, Iran, Egipt and others already oposes any action. If Israel get involved they might even send their troops to fight against US.

Worse, Ariel Sharon wasn't Israel's PM back then. With the current Isralie administration's record of restraint does anyone think that they wouldn't retaliate if Iraq attacked them? Hmmmmm now this is an idea worthy of some serious wargamming by both Def and State. I really don't think Powell or Zinni could keep Israel from retalliating against Iraq, and that would certainly muddy the waters wouldn't it?

So do we need regieme change in Israel before it's safe to attack Iraq? Wouldn't that just be too ironic.

--
Turtles all the way down.
[ Parent ]
IRAQ should be nuked (1.88 / 9) (#116)
by mhernand2 on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 10:15:29 AM EST

Well it seems that every time we depose an Arab leader and worse leader emerges. I say lets just nuke them all and use the area as a parking lot for old US Air Force Airplanes.

Official Policy of Assassination (3.60 / 5) (#125)
by Wildgoose on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 11:10:11 AM EST

I am opposed to a war with the Iraqi people - too many died last time, and too many would die this time.

Saddam is a monster, (for example using poison gas on his own civilian population).

He should be dealt with like any rabid animal. He should be killed. But that is no justification to kill thousands of innocents, who have already suffered enough under his regime.

It's about time that "world leaders" started killing each other directly, rather than involving us in their schemes.

Bush vs Saddam (none / 0) (#147)
by Rezand on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 05:28:04 PM EST

In a duel to the death?

Would they fight with swords? Guns? Oil? Propaganda?

[ Parent ]

Good question... (4.00 / 2) (#150)
by juln on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 07:54:19 PM EST

I think Saddam would probably have a sword (I've seen pictures of him with one), with a rifle in his back pocket. Bush would probably start out with a tennis racket, and then call his dad for advice, at which point he would retreat and come back in a tank - what a pampered pansy.

[ Parent ]
Next on Fox... When good leaders go bad ... (n/t) (none / 0) (#168)
by bemis on Sun Sep 22, 2002 at 07:03:52 AM EST



[ Parent ]
agreed (none / 0) (#157)
by Phantros on Sat Sep 21, 2002 at 05:04:33 AM EST

Yes. Not only would it save lives, but if done clandestinely it would not make the US look as bad, so you would think this would be something that the CIA would suggest.

I know the US has supported some coup attempts which have failed...

4Literature - 2,000 books online and Scoop to discuss them with
[ Parent ]

Off topic, maybe? (2.50 / 4) (#130)
by FredBloggs on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 11:58:31 AM EST

I found this on Usenet (on a music newsgroup, of all places!). I`m posting it here as I think its interesting, although i`m unfamiliar with it. I`m not sure if it is supposed to apply to individual humans, or governments as a whole. Perhaps there is no difference? I`d be interested to know more about whatever it is this is about, the searching the net just gets me adverts for subliminal adverts. Anyway, here it is:

First Law of Psycho-Dynamics: The abused becomes the abuser.

Second Law of Psycho-Dynamics: You are what you hate.

Third Law of Psycho-Dynamics: If you're made to feel sufficiently bad by something that happens to you, then whatever promises to make you feel less awful - however cruel, senseless, or counter-productive it is - will inevitably seem like the 'right and necessary' thing to do.

Fourth Law of Psycho-Dynamics: The existence and operation of the first three Laws is strenuously denied. Using violence, if 'right and necessary'.

Fifth Law of Psycho-Dynamics: The agony of knowing or suspecting that your own actions (or the actions of those with whom you identify) brought about or contributed to the painful event, when magnified by the enormity of that event, is so unbearable that all recognition of that responsibility has to be denied.

Sixth Law of Psycho-Dymanics: The more tragic and unjust the consequences of the Third Law's operation are known or suspected to be, the more the significance and reality of those consequences has to be denied.

Seventh Law of Psycho-Dymanics: The existence and operation of the Fifth and Sixth Laws is strenuously denied. Using violence, if 'right and necessary'.

Eighth Law of Psycho-Dynamics: The operation of the first seven Laws produces a regressive condition of infantile unrealism via a traumatic neurosis.

Ninth Law of Psycho-Dynamics: The amount of evil which an entity (be it an individual person or a 'nation state') perpetrates in the outside world is equal to that entity's infantile unrealism multiplied by the scale of its (technological, military) power and its (economic, political) influence.

Tenth Law of Psycho-Dymanics: The existence and operation of the Eighth and Ninth Laws - and, indeed, the Tenth - is strenuously denied. Using violence, if 'right and necessary'.


NB: Using violence, if 'right and necessary'. (none / 0) (#139)
by Trimson on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 02:03:54 PM EST

..but all sadly, true :( Could also be titled: "The Ego in the Grips with Itself". Soon the street robbery will be justifiable by Robin Hood ideals, too :P I am aware that the USA society is based on adventurous exploitation of the weaker (groupations), but i liked the historical Viking way a bit more: "We take yer wimmin and gold cos we are stronger! Waaagh!" *sounds of axes clashing*

[ Parent ]
I can make one of these to prove anything. (none / 0) (#144)
by mingofmongo on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 02:50:10 PM EST

Applying the specific to the general is great fun for the whole family. Every one of those points can be shown to be true in many but not all specific situations, and so it has the 'ring of truth' without being actually true (except in certain specific cases).

I'll bet it isn't hard to fine people in history who have not followed these rules.

"What they don't seem to get is that the key to living the good life is to avoid that brass ring like the fucking plague."
--The Onion
[ Parent ]

thank you for illustrating the 7th law (none / 0) (#146)
by Trimson on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 05:16:20 PM EST

was it by active participation or negligence? :)

[ Parent ]
Circular Logic (none / 0) (#177)
by RyoCokey on Wed Sep 25, 2002 at 11:47:13 PM EST

...is the domain of fools.



The issue here is not the facts; Right - so how does this apply to Mr. Scott Ritter?
[
Parent ]
The real threat of WMD in Iraq (4.00 / 2) (#134)
by pheta on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 12:46:13 PM EST

The real threat is not Iraq using the weapons themselves because in that case there is a target to strike back against. The threat is Iraq selling/providing the weapons to an organization that can not be easily held liable for their actions (ie Al Queda).

in that case (5.00 / 1) (#152)
by martingale on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 08:33:31 PM EST

You need to think closely what can be done against ALL countries which own WMDs. For in that case, the US will have to go to war against Russia, China, India and Pakistan, Britain and France, Israel and North Korea. Each of those is likely to "lose" a nuke or two to terrorist orgs. There have been international moves to inspect, account for and ultimately destroy stockpiles for all countries with these dangerous weapons, but like most of these treaties, the US refuses to sign them. In fact, the US preferred to nullify the agreement it had with Russia about nukes very recently. Coincidence? If the US is "different", then so are all the other countries. In case you are American, the ball is in your court.

[ Parent ]
source (none / 0) (#159)
by ninja on Sat Sep 21, 2002 at 06:41:02 AM EST

True. I would think that the most likely source of nuclear materials for terrorist groups would be the former Soviet Union...In fact, if Iraq were to obtain fissionable material, I think the former USSR would be the source.

[ Parent ]
RE: Five Ways to Lose an Argument on Iraq (4.80 / 5) (#136)
by icastel on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 12:59:39 PM EST

Shoot yourself in the foot by insisting that there's never any justification for invading a sovereign nation.

I suppose I must avoid at all cost any mention of A. Hitler, or any similarities to GWB, at this point, unless I want to start a flame fest.

Now mind you, there's nothing wrong with balancing the costs of an intervention against the potential benefits. Soldiers and civilians should never be placed at risk if it's not likely that a clearly defined, achievable goal can be obtained without great loss of life. Sometimes intervention can actually cause more trouble than we could ever hope to repair-- as will be the case, I believe, in Iraq. These are all perfectly legitimate concerns about the war on Iraq, and are in fact some of the major unaddressed concerns that inform my own opposition. But any argument that begins with a blanket assumption that foreign intervention is somehow naturally immoral, ends there.

So, in essence, you're saying that you don't care as long as there are benefits. I agree. The problem with that is that nobody (average Joe) is really sure what the benefits of this would be, what the ultimate goal of the war is, whether it's easily attainable, how many people would be lost, or whether it makes fucking sense to attack. Also, it seems the long term plan is to methodically "go after" other countries (Syria, Libya, Iran, etc.) that are regarded in the same way as Iraq: regimes supportive of Terrorism (maybe those will be spared until the next election period).

...While India and Pakistan have demonstrated a fairly deep-seated mutual distrust that has survived a number of different governments, many of Iraq's recent military actions were not necessarily reflective of the will of the Iraqi people. If the US army, in an act of brazen stupidity, charged into India and Pakistan today, it would likely have a very difficult job forcefully reducing the tensions between those two nations, no matter how many regimes it displaced (although it is possible that those two nations would at least temporarily unite in their mutual antipathy toward the US.)

Does that mean that the people of India and Pakistan (by the way, isn't Pakistan a dictatorship?) are all in agreement of what their government is doing or has done? Possibly, the reason for the U.S. to not invade them is the fact that they would be able to defend themselves better than Iraq would. Another potential reason is that there are currently big economic interests in those countries. I suppose invading Iraq will tremendously reduce the tensions in that area.

Argue that we have nothing to fear from Saddam's weapons

I agree that we have something to fear from Saddam's weapons ... if we keep giving him reasons to use them.

While there is certainly an argument to be made that the US's military adventurism has done, in many cases, more harm than good, this doesn't necessarily make every single use of US force wrong.

Name one where the outcome has been everything promised. I'm curious.

One last point. Throughout your post you keep mentioning Saddam (and his weapons) as if he were all we're fighting against. That bothers me. It's not a fight between the U.S. and Saddam. It's a war between the U.S. and Iraq we're talking about. Perhaps that's a media trick to make things sound better and easier than they would actually be (the U.S. army against Saddam).


-- I like my land flat --

For what's it's worth. (5.00 / 2) (#148)
by TeraTorn on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 07:22:46 PM EST

Here is a link that many of you may find interesting.

http://www.spectator.co.uk/article.php3?table=old&section=current&issue= 2002-09-21&id=2266

Bush is trying to rush the wrong thing. (4.66 / 3) (#149)
by Rock Joe on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 07:36:10 PM EST

I'm not saying Saddam is a trustworthy guy. I'm not even saying he's a NICE guy. But his actions of the past aren't enough to justify military action without proof. Bush shouldn't be rushing other nations to act quick "before it's too late". He should be rushing the UN inspectors to get in there QUICK and to do their job within a matter of weeks (although I have no way of knowing if such a deadline is even possible). If Saddam gives the inspectors a hard time, we go gung ho. If the inspectors find something, I doubt that many people will oppose military action. What I'm basically saying is that even a man who'se been convicted of murder three times deserves a full trial should he ever be charged with murder a fourth time. Rush the trial if you must, but don't give this guy the chair without proof.

Rushed military action is just a ploy to get votes.

Signatures are for losers!
--Rock Joe

5 ways to lose, 1 way to win (3.00 / 1) (#151)
by Goldblubber on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 08:03:53 PM EST

I will unashamedly admit that I believe military action is the only way to solve a problem like Saddam. I don't like admitting it and wish it wasn't so. But, the complacency of our world leaders has led the world to a situation where we still have to deal with economic disparity, powermongers, wealthmongers and the countless other problems that we have the resources to solve, but not the will to do so. Saddam Hussein's ascension to power is a direct result of his ability to play both sides off each other in the coldwar. Of course he is not alone in the world on that score. Meanwhile, us fat-ass slobs of the English speaking world continue to ignore the human rights abuses going on around the world. Sure we see or hear the occasional story about an atrocity here or a atrocity there, but the action taken is negligible. It is sad we are talking "Military action" now. When if we had of put a long term, serious, diplomatic plan into operation years ago, saddam Hussein would be less likely to be in power today. Before S11, I was aware of the Human rights abuses going on in Afghanistan , particularly against women. Small groups were trying in vain to attract attention to the problems and asking for a "regime change". Why did it take a terrorist attack to draw attention to this country in crisis? Is it because we don't really care about anything until it becomes politically fashionable? I know it is very unfashionable to support the actions of the US on the best of occasions and the element of US self-interest in the Middle East region must come under the microscope, as must the issue of Energy consumption within the US.Yet, I will only be convinced that war is not neccesary, when I am convinced that the relative authorities can dismantle Saddam Husseins power base using peaceful iniatiatives. I would love to hear your policies and arguments.

War on Iraq (4.00 / 1) (#156)
by RoOoBo on Sat Sep 21, 2002 at 03:01:20 AM EST

So it is better to through away Hussein killing some thousands of people to put another dictator at his place (just this time he will be someone friendly to the US).

You have a point though. If there was somekind of international power capable of defeating all cruel regimes and people in the world remaining pure and fair (something I think has 0.000001% chances of happening being optimistic) I would aprove any war started for that reason.

The problem is, as it happenned with Afghanistan, the reason for the attack isn't to free the people but to fulfill the own egoistical objectives of the attacker (in this case US or Bush government getting revenge or impose their power in a region).

Keep in mind, in the example of Afghanistan, that the current situation is just slightly better than before the war and there are no warranties that it will go to better or even that it won't get worst.



[ Parent ]
Agreed (none / 0) (#158)
by Goldblubber on Sat Sep 21, 2002 at 05:46:04 AM EST

I have grave misgivings about GWB's ability to organize world affairs. Fortunately we have safegaurds to prevent his actions getting out of control. He may have the machinery to win the war, but does not have the wisdom to win the peace.

[ Parent ]
It's all about oil, anyway (5.00 / 2) (#161)
by PCGreg on Sat Sep 21, 2002 at 10:34:41 AM EST

I wish we could get off of the oil and just go back to ignoring them, like Africa. :-}

Slanderous to Col. Ritter (none / 0) (#163)
by aminorex on Sat Sep 21, 2002 at 05:06:12 PM EST

I note that there is no basis enunciated by this article for it's attempt to undermine the credibility of the foremost expert on the subject of Iraqi disarmament, Col. Scott Ritter. When Col. Ritter was tasked with insuring the complete destruction of the Iraqi NBC and LRM infrastructure, he focussed intently on that task, and loudly proclaimed every deficiency in the compliance of the Iraqi state. Now, he is attempting to inform public policy in a very different debate, in which a fair assessment of Iraq's aggressive capabilities is a privotal point -- this is very different from assessing compliance with a program of total disarmament, and obviously the resulting statements, shorn of their context, will have conflicting visceral import. But they are clearly grounded in the same factual circumstances. Col. Ritter's assessment of Iraqi compliance and capability has not materially changed in the interim, and I see no valid reason to discount the evidence and analysis of the single most outstanding expert on this subject -- evidence and analysis which is given very much contrary to any personal political interest, which would be much better served by towing the administration's line.

Ritter (none / 0) (#171)
by dachshund on Sun Sep 22, 2002 at 12:31:36 PM EST

I think you need to look up the definition of slander. It is not slanderous to note that that somebody's opinion is questionable, given that said individual made strong, clearly contradictory public statements within a fairly short time, without any access to further information in the interim.

I have not stated that Ritter is intentionally trying to deceive the public, nor am I saying that he's incompetent or some sort of Iraqi agent. What I am saying is that his changing testimony just isn't convincing, and that reflects on any argument that strongly relies on it.

[ Parent ]

There's certainly some evidence (none / 0) (#176)
by RyoCokey on Wed Sep 25, 2002 at 11:43:53 PM EST

As mentioned here about who's payroll he's on.



The issue here is not the facts; Right - so how does this apply to Mr. Scott Ritter?
[
Parent ]
Sovereignty is not negotiable (4.00 / 4) (#164)
by aminorex on Sat Sep 21, 2002 at 05:12:41 PM EST

If the soverignty of Iraq is violable, then certainly the soverignty of the U.S. is no more sacrosanct. If that is the case, then any terrorist action against the U.S. is clearly justifiable on the basis of the U.S. manifest threat to the people of the world. This has nothing to do with a knee-jerk anti-U.S. sentiment, and everything to do with the demonstated historical record of the U.S. in using weapons of mass destruction against civilian populations (Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Dresden), conducting campaigns of genocide against it's own people (the amerinds), overthrowing democratic goverments and supporting repressive dictatorships and sponsoring torture and arbitrary execution (as in Chile, Guatemala, El Salvador, Iran), and sponsoring terrorism and nuclear proliferation (as in Israel).

Nationalism is Obsolete (3.00 / 2) (#174)
by Woundweavr on Mon Sep 23, 2002 at 08:57:01 PM EST

The UN, WTO, International Law and many other groups supercede or interfere with national governments. How often have people on K5 loudly protested the lack of US participation in Land Mine treaties or the Kyoto Protocal etc. Claiming these organizations justify terrorism is just as baseless as claiming that US interference in Iraq based on human rights violations and violations of international treaty and law would.

Dresden was UK and US. Hiroshima and Nagasaki saved upwards of 40 times the Japanese and Americans that would have died had the US held back in its war. History can be twisted. Rarely if ever is the English genocide of the Irish during the same period mentioned as a reason the UK can never be trusted. Nor the creation of much of the problems in Israel/Palestine by the UK and France, or imperialism in Asia, and Africa that is the basis for much of the problems in those lands today by all the European powers. Or Nazism as a reason not to trust Germany (or Japan or Italy). Or the Napoleonic conflict as a reason not to trust France. (Or Franco for Spain etc.) Or Stalin's purges, the USSR's Afghani invasion, human rights violations and other interferences to not trust Russia or any of its former providences. Twist the facts for your bias all you want.

And the US has not used chemical weapons on its own population (as Iraq has) or invaded two of its neighbors in the last 20 years. It does not violate basic rights of its people that most Western countries find abhorant. Critics of the US's detainees of the al Queda members in Cuba or the arrests after 9/11 seemingly have no problem with the trialless kidnappings and executions at the will of Sadam's regime. Where is the sense of proportion?

[ Parent ]

iraq as an example of bush's new doctrine (1.00 / 1) (#165)
by circletimessquare on Sat Sep 21, 2002 at 09:30:28 PM EST

September 11th changes everything.

A nation must and should act to ensure its safety. September 11th reveals that the US should not be concerned with other nations threatening its safety (Russia, China, etc.) and should instead worry about the quasi-religions, the cults, the extreme organizations with a chip on their shoulder that view the US and what it symbolizes as an enemy.

why do they hate the US? Because of what the US represents. A powerful, successful, mutlicultural, permissive society. Many other nations symbolize this as well, such as Japan, or the nations of Western Europe. But the US is the biggest and most powerful of that lot. Societies like these piss off zealots like nothing else, because of what they idealize. As long as the US exists as a powerful, successful, multicultural, permissive society, then there is no soil of injustices for the roots of their hateful organizations to grow in. Because the freedoms that the US guarantees its citizens (as other nations should, but don't) represents the future for all nations. All nations will come to resemble the US in the future, whether or not the US is wiped off of the face of the earth. Because the freedoms that US citizens enjoy are the same yearnings in the hearts of all people the world over. Freedom fo religion. Freedom of religion. Freedom of speech. Etc. These are ideas that do not go away. And they have nothing to do with the actions of the US government, whether pure good, pure evil, or any shade of gray in between.

I love to hear the howls of certain people on this point, who would love to talk about the injustices the US creates and the soil in which hate can grow due to the actions of the US. Can you rightly compare these to the actions of a country under the rule of dictator? Is there some sort of moral equivalency here? I think not, by any measure. Certainly the US has taken actions in the past which, quite basically, shot itself in the foot. Has any nation not? Are these to be viewed as what they are? As a mistake? Or as some sort of example of prue evil at work. Paranoid schizophrenics, please stop reading my post at this point. Shit happens.

The idea of war between Iraq and the US is not about nation states, sovereignity, geopolitics, or anything else. It is about the US being scared out of its wits. And rightly so. Who would supply al Qaeda or any other group with a warped view of the world with weapons of mass destruction? Not Russia. Not China. Not the US. Not India. Not Pakistan. Iraq would though. Does anyone in their right mind deny this? Iraq could. And Iraq should supply weapons of mass destruction to marginal organizations if by Iraq you mean what Iraq currently is. The personal enclave of Saddam Hussein. Saddam Hussein's continued existence is guaranteed by strife amongst its neighboring countries and by inaction on the part of the powerful nations of the world. Keep the other nations quarreling, and the continued cancer of his dictatorship can continue to survive and grow. Why did Saddam Hussein bomb Israel with Scuds again in the first US Iraqi conflict? Think about such an action from Saddam's point of view.

It is amazing to me the arguments of the noninterventionists on the question of war between Iraq and the US. How should the world deal with dictatorships? Should they not get involved? How can noninterventionists care so much about their adherence to the concept of no war at any cost and care so little about the fate of the Iraqi people? Is there another solution to the problem of Saddam Hussein? You can think of more gradual, less violent solutions than war, but, over the span of time in which they would take effect, does that solution not also bear a greater amount of suffering on the part of the Iraqi people?

Is the fate of the Iraqi people currently dictated by the policies of the US? Or is that fate currently dictated by Saddam Hussein? Please, no historical arguments, contexts, allusions, causes or effects. Right NOW, at the very MOMENT, the Iraqi people suffer directly because of the regime of Saddam Hussein, end of story. Do you deny they suffer? Do you deny that if Iraq was not a dictatorship they would not be better off, regardless of how Saddam Hussein is removed? If the US goes to war with Iraq and Saddam Hussein is removed, they will most certainly replace his government with a government in the image of the US Government. Look what such action has done to Japan, Germany, the Philippines, Korea, etc. Or any other nation where US military intervention has led to regime change.

What are the costs of sponsoring a regime change in a dictatorship? Whatever anyone with an opinion on this issue describes that cost as equal to, is that cost not smaller by any measure than the cost of the continued suffering of the Iraqi people?

And why should we be so concerned with Iraq? What about the nations of Africa with such despicable governments. Iraq has a huge military. Reason number one. Iraq has a lot of oil. Reason number two. It is despicable of the US to use oil as the pretext for invasion, but just because the reason is despicable, the good that will come of regime change by US military action can not be denied. The ends justify the means? Certainly!

You could phrase the pretext of military invasion as saying that the Iraqi people have the trump card of their natural resources to ensure the interest of the world in their fate.

And besides, more and more oil is found in SubSaharan Africa every day and the US relies upon oil imports form there more and more every day. So some day too, the people of some African countries may have oil figuring into the equation of their fate by foreign powers. This craven dependence on oil by powerful nations of the world is not such a bad thing in this regard after all, if it leads to regime changes in resource-rich nations that lead to stable, prosperous, rights-guaranteeing democracies, made in the image of the US.

There might be those who say the US will not sponsor a democracy in Iraq. Nor continue to sponsor it after an initial half-hearted investment. This is nonsense. Of course they will. During the Cold War, the US got cozy with many despicable regimes, Iraq included, but we are not in the Cold War anymore. Common Sense dictates that stable democracies the world over are in the US's best interest, and, to the happiness of noninterventionist's, in the interest of everyone the world over. Stable, prosperous democracies have no interest in going to war with each other. Isn't that interesting.

And so, US war with Iraq is not a bad thing. It was only concerns about body bag counts on the part of Colin Powell and others that lead the US to abort the job they had started 12 years ago. Now, the US knows what really is at cost. So that concern is not so important anymore. Because no one wants thousands of body bags in a major US city due to the activities of Saddam Hussein and any extreme groups he might get in bed with. Question not the wisdom of opposing Saddam Hussein militarily now, for the US will pay the price if it does not, and then watch what kind of militaristic behavior on the part of the US that will be considered then!


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

sir, step away from the soapbox... (none / 0) (#167)
by toliman on Sun Sep 22, 2002 at 01:46:31 AM EST

on the whole, this argument is rhetoric and cliches, im willing to overlook that. the arguments have all been used before. also willing to overlook that.

some of the points are wrong and misleading, also wiling to overlook that. the rhetoric is maligned and out of context with a global identity in a lot of areas, also willing to overlook that too. if i was an american, i would be allowed to respond to you with the freedom gained under constitutional rights.

"All nations will come to resemble the US in the future, whether or not the US is wiped off of the face of the earth."

in short, doubtful. the US has some major faults that, if you look at history, every other nation has experienced, making it the "most current" role model for sustained growth, economic success, and keeping the status quo, socially, politically, economically. then again, rome was the last great sovereign nation, that was brought down by the caesars, no similarities there... none. none at all.

"Right NOW, at the very MOMENT, the Iraqi people suffer directly because of the regime of Saddam Hussein, end of story"

you're a very funny guy. im still laughing.  regimes don't kill people, ignorance, safeguards and embargoes do.

"You could phrase the pretext of military invasion as saying that the Iraqi people have the trump card of their natural resources to ensure the interest of the world in their fate."

noo, i think not. the pretext of military invasion is that george dubya bush is lampooning his own sense of righteousness and deliverance of morality onto nations to sieze the assets of a foreign nation, while protecting the other fledgling nations of the Middle East.

the only thing preventing this is, that nobody, NOBODY in the Middle east, the UN, other nations (you forget about other countries who don't want to be breathing in residual biochemical debris)...

wants a nation that is not personally involved, to butt in, make changes, and declare themselves guardians of the free world, pronouncing "you look like communists / terrorists / jews and we should eliminate your kind from the world" a quote you can take your pick from despots and dictators in history. harsh, yes. justified, perhaps.

if the US wants those national resources secured, it should just blindly and outrightly say it, the news reports that it is a major continuing factor in why we play political games with foreign nations, its not for the "best interests" of common nations, its for political equilibrium and stability, a global game of jenga, where you remove one dissident, one politician, one  dictator, one regime and watch the pieces to see if they fall. the games that government intelligence play.

September 11 was not "the wakeup call" that heightened a nations attention, it was nothing. if you were in any nation that held UN soldiers, to keep the peace, it would be an expected event. terror, in all its forms, is far more useful as a social weapon, rather than a military weapon, as it gets attention to a majority of people who are totally and utterly ignorant.

if the US military invades Iraq, it won't be the end of terrorism, it will eventuate a bloody retribution that will impact more people than any recent war. the modern scene for warfare has always followed the rules of engagement, a sporting chance for combatants, away from civillian areas, in strategic locations, etc. if Iraq is taken over, and the UN steps in to placate an Iraqi government, and they start to preach the virtue of islamic 'democracy', you cannot imagine the impact of that, you can speculate that it would be far worse than imagined.

it's all great, saying "regime change, regime change", but you have to look for what they plan to replace the current regime with. although the CIA play book says to replace with a docile government that is fond of US interests, like rolling over, playing dead, agreeing with US sentiments, i don't think they have a candidate this time, and it is more worrying to them, to see the war through to its conclusion, afghanistan was easy compared to Iraq. Africa, is easier than Iraq, there is more to modern warfare than shells and long-range targets of opportunity, there are political, economic and social wars going on as well that are long fought over.

---------- Toliman ----------- Toliman.org. now defunct after the cripping of .au broadband.
[ Parent ]

ruminations (none / 0) (#172)
by circletimessquare on Mon Sep 23, 2002 at 02:10:42 AM EST

All nations will come to resemble the US in the future, whether or not the US is wiped off of the face of the earth."
in short, doubtful. the US has some major faults that, if you look at history, every other nation has experienced, making it the "most current" role model for sustained growth, economic success, and keeping the status quo, socially, politically, economically. then again, rome was the last great sovereign nation, that was brought down by the caesars, no similarities there... none. none at all.


you are spreading FUD. fear, uncertainty, doubt. there are plenty of historical comparisons you can draw between the US and Rome. demonstrate to me a comparison which advances an argument constructively, or otherwise, drop the pretext of this comparison. in the meantime, my statement about all nations coming to resemble the US in the future (and by that i mean a stable democracy that ensures the rights of its citizens) still stands. and i make no jaunts into the distant sci fi future when i allude to the "future".

"Right NOW, at the very MOMENT, the Iraqi people suffer directly because of the regime of Saddam Hussein, end of story"
you're a very funny guy. im still laughing. regimes don't kill people, ignorance, safeguards and embargoes do.


ok, i will move very slowly here for you. 1. the policies of the USA affect the well-being of the iraqi people. 2. the policies of saddam hussein affect the well-being of the iragi people. both statements are true. are you with me so far? good... ok, now concentrate real hard on the next question:
which affects the well-being of the iraqi people more, the policies of the dictatorship of saddam hussein, the government of iraq? or the policies of the USA (and the UN, btw)?
if you say it is the US, and not saddam hussein, then please do not respond to me, because we truly live in different worlds. fortunately, my world resembles reality more than yours. ;-P

"You could phrase the pretext of military invasion as saying that the Iraqi people have the trump card of their natural resources to ensure the interest of the world in their fate."
noo, i think not. the pretext of military invasion is that george dubya bush is lampooning his own sense of righteousness and deliverance of morality onto nations to sieze the assets of a foreign nation, while protecting the other fledgling nations of the Middle East.


ok, i will fly with you here. suppose the us is a dictatoriship, as you imply (if george bush's ego figured so heavily in the decision making as you allude to... kinda like saddam hussein, isn't ironic? you can see george bush's ego as a threat to the world, but not saddam hussein's? strange...). suppose some sort of madness of king george (see if you can get that historical allusion) grips the us leading the us into a terrible historical mistake. and we attack iraq because of it. brace yourself now...
so what?
if we remove saddam hussein and replace his govt with a democracy because george bush likes the color blue, or because his wife's feet smell, who cares! we are talking about WHAT is going to happen, not WHY.
as far as righteousness and morality and seizing assets is concerned. examine saddam hussein's righteousness. his morality. his seizing of assets. ever hear of kuwait? can i ask you one question? why do you reserve these criticisms for the us, and not iraq?

wants a nation that is not personally involved, to butt in, make changes, and declare themselves guardians of the free world, pronouncing "you look like communists / terrorists / jews and we should eliminate your kind from the world" a quote you can take your pick from despots and dictators in history. harsh, yes. justified, perhaps.

you know what? if there are areas of the world where organizations like al qaeda can breed, and where they can stage attacks like september 11th, then yearning is created in the people of the us (the people of the us, i repeat, not the ego of it's leaders... will you please stop confusing your democracies with your dictatorships and historical empires!) to do what it can to dismantle this organization, and dispel it's breeding grounds. the us will seek out means to ensure its safety. and if it sees a military action against a foreign power as one of those means, then it will take that action. it WILL "butt in" as you say. ask it not to. ask it nicely. stand before a herd of trampling cattle. same result. dismantle that logic if you can. the argument i am making is one inevitability, of knee-jerk reaction. i am not trying to shade the herd of trampling cattle as a righteous mob or a damned mob, i am merely arguing cause and effect about actions liek sept. 11th on the psyche of a nation. clear as day. argue with that if you will.

September 11 was not "the wakeup call" that heightened a nations attention, it was nothing. if you were in any nation that held UN soldiers, to keep the peace, it would be an expected event. terror, in all its forms, is far more useful as a social weapon, rather than a military weapon, as it gets attention to a majority of people who are totally and utterly ignorant.

excuse me sir, sept 11 was an extreme act of terror that focused the attention of a majority of the people that someone hates them enough to desire the death of them all by any means possible. ignorant, or not, it does not matter (except to you i guess, if you wish to view the common man as ignorant then your hatred for your common man stands as revealed). a group of people with its attention thus engaged will act to protect itself from this threat. more logic for you to attempt to redirect.

if Iraq is taken over, and the UN steps in to placate an Iraqi government, and they start to preach the virtue of islamic 'democracy', you cannot imagine the impact of that, you can speculate that it would be far worse than imagined.

more FUD. what is wrong with an islamic democracy? should fear of the unknown dictate our behavior? if we listen to your arguments, the choking stench of FUD leads to inaction on every conceivable question of import in the world. i choose to act proactively, and hold faith that the best possible action my mind can conceive of will lead to the best possible outcome... for EVERYONE EVERYWHERE.

i think you have a cynical view of the world. cynicism is a poor excuse for intelligent analysis. i have faith in the common man and faith in the inherent goodness of people the world over. the terrorists of sept. 11th were not born wanting to drive airplanes into skyscrapers. their children (or rather, nephews and nieces, lol) should grow up in a world where they do not desire the death of their fellow human beings. inaction will ensure that the status quo will keep the terrorist factories in full bloom. only proactive forceful action against the ingredients, the geopolitical positions, the socioeconomic conditions, the inept governments, will ensure a more peaceful world. ruminate on that.

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
one problem... (none / 0) (#170)
by dirtmerchant on Sun Sep 22, 2002 at 10:04:05 AM EST

...and that it has been addressed to death says that you've an axe to grind and are not interested in debate. Do you deny that if Iraq was not a dictatorship they would not be better off, regardless of how Saddam Hussein is removed? You can't guarantee that military action will force a regime change. You don't want historical perspective Please, no historical arguments, contexts, allusions, causes or effects. yet you press one not five paragraphs later. The fact is that reason we pulled out of the gulf last time is still valid. We have no way of knowing what will happen if we do force a regime change in the region. At the very least, some last minute retalition (read: nuclear) will be met at one of our allies or our own military in the region.
-- "The universe not only may be queerer than we think, but queerer than we can think" - JBS Haldane
[ Parent ]
response (none / 0) (#173)
by circletimessquare on Mon Sep 23, 2002 at 02:12:24 AM EST

...and that it has been addressed to death says that you've an axe to grind and are not interested in debate. Do you deny that if Iraq was not a dictatorship they would not be better off, regardless of how Saddam Hussein is removed? You can't guarantee that military action will force a regime change. You don't want historical perspective Please, no historical arguments, contexts, allusions, causes or effects. yet you press one not five paragraphs later. The fact is that reason we pulled out of the gulf last time is still valid. We have no way of knowing what will happen if we do force a regime change in the region. At the very least, some last minute retalition (read: nuclear) will be met at one of our allies or our own military in the region.

2 points:

1. the us will install a democracy in the area. that is not doubtful. whether or not it sticks around is another story.

2. your FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt) about a nuclear retaliation moves no one. if sept. 11 proved anything, it is that the USA will be attacked by those organizations which breed in unstable parts of the world whether the USA is pacifist or aggressive. we are the enemy to these organizations, simple of that. obiovusly, all means will be used to fight us. attack iraq? don't attack iraq? the threat of nuclear is there irregardless, so the clear choice is attack iraq and force a regime change as that path offers the best hope for risk reduction. the status quo is already dangerous enough. it really can't get any worse. it might get worse if we attack, but it will get worse if we don't. simple as that. your FUD will only lead to inaction, and more danger.


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

WTF (none / 0) (#175)
by animal on Tue Sep 24, 2002 at 06:42:58 PM EST

"Who would supply al Qaeda or any other group with a warped view of the world with weapons of mass destruction? Not Russia. Not China. Not the US. Not India. Not Pakistan. Iraq would though. Does anyone in their right mind deny this? Iraq could"

ok al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein are enemies. Saddam has used force to defeat islamic fundamentalists within Iraq, for which Al Qaeda said he should die. Now why would he give weapons of mass destruction to a group of people that are likely to use at least some of them against him?
 

[ Parent ]

Main reason against it- (none / 0) (#178)
by Anonymous Hiro on Fri Sep 27, 2002 at 12:10:27 AM EST

Don't see Bush giving any good AND honest reasons for it.

I'd understand if he said "We're going to bash Iraq coz they may bash surrounding countries (esp Israel), and screw up the oil supply for the next few decades."

Or "I want Iraq's oil".

Or "I need a distraction from the bad economy".

Then I can agree or disagree properly, otherwise what's the point of debating or arguing?

I mean look at this:
http://www.upi.com/view.cfm?StoryID=20020926-065822-8852r
He just wants war no matter what.

I don't see why we need to come up with reasons against war. You want war, you give good and honest reasons for war.

If you're not sharing the REAL reasons for war, with the people you are asking to die or make sacrifices for you, then perhaps you are the enemy too.

T.S. Eliot:
The last temptation is the greatest treason
To do the right deed for the wrong reason


Five Ways to Lose an Argument on Iraq | 178 comments (123 topical, 55 editorial, 0 hidden)
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