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Which Saddam ?

March 25th, 2006

Currency Lad seems to be down on someone called Saddam Hussein. It’s not clear who’s being referred to here. Certainly not the Saddam Hussein who collected $300 million from the Oil-for-Food fund, courtesy of the Australian government statutory authority/official privatised monopoly AWB (formerly the Australian Wheat Board). That’s a beatup of no interest.

I’ve generally been an admirer of Currency Lad, but this is truly dreadful stuff. Either he should stop insulting his readers with moralising about Saddam* and present an honest realpolitik line, or he should condemn without reservation those who financed Saddam’s arms purchases, and those who either encouraged them or looked the other way.

To be clear in advance, this includes all those who colluded in evading sanctions, whether they were from France, Russia, the US or elsewhere. However, as we now know, AWB operated on a scale that dwarfed the petty operators about whom we heard so much from the pro-war lobby until recently.

* Or anything else. If you’re willing to swallow this, your opinions on ethics aren’t worth considering regardless of the topic.

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  1. Harry Clarke
    March 25th, 2006 at 21:47 | #1

    Are the links here right? They didn’t seem to me to relate to the text.

  2. jquiggin
    March 26th, 2006 at 06:30 | #2

    Thanks, Harry. Fixed now, I hope.

  3. observa
    March 26th, 2006 at 11:49 | #3

    “However, as we now know, AWB operated on a scale that dwarfed the petty operators about whom we heard so much from the pro-war lobby until recently.”

    The AWB sold wheat not enriched uranium. Iraqis have always preferred Australian wheat and in large volumes and hence would prefer the same under the UN supervised sanctions regime. To the extent that a fixed percentage of all such trade was being creamed by a totalitarian state as trucking, inspection, quarantine, handling, import duties, or any other of the myriad of supposedly legal govt impositions (as distinct from all taxation is theft purism), then clearly the total amount involved would be large for large food shippers, as distinct from the odd band-aid supplier. We all need to be clear on these couple of points, before arguing about whether any such trade was advisable, or could achieve its expected aims.

  4. March 26th, 2006 at 21:00 | #4

    Either he should stop insulting his readers with moralising about Saddam* and present an honest realpolitik line,

    *Or anything else. If you’re willing to swallow this, your opinions on ethics aren’t worth considering regardless of the topic.

    I agree. The humbuggery and hypocrisy of the pro-war party is astounding. They were happy to castigate the anti-war party for implicitly assisting Saddam but now turn a blind eye to Coalition of the Willing states for explicitly assisting Saddam. This utterly disquaifies them from consideration as serious ethicists.

    I hope that Pr Q is not implying that that those “realpolitickers” who would defend, or not be too offended, by the AWB bribes to Hussein are the holders of “opinions on ethics [which] aren’t worth considering regardless of the topic.” This would seem a little harsh on Machiavellians who are, like most, willing to sell their souls – but for a good price in a good cause.

    I love my native city more than my soul.

    Machiavelli, Niccolò The Letters of Machiavelli. 252 p. 1961

    And Florentines love their souls!

  5. observa
    March 26th, 2006 at 21:52 | #5

    “The humbuggery and hypocrisy of the pro-war party is astounding. They were happy to castigate the anti-war party for implicitly assisting Saddam ”

    No, they were simply pointing out the obvious, that UN controlled economic sanctions against a totalitarian regime would not work and those who advocated that as a serious solution to Saddam were delusional. The AWB is simply more evidence of that and basically what’s all the fuss about? Personally I think that’s the electorate’s view, much to the disappointment of the anti-war crowd. That doesn’t mean to say that the same electorate is thrilled with the current state of affairs in Iraq, but that’s a separate issue for them now. They’ll judge that on its merits.

  6. observa
    March 26th, 2006 at 22:06 | #6

    Let’s be quite clear here too. An ethically pure approach to Saddam would see no trade whatsoever occur, because an economic benefit due to comparative advantage must accrue to the regime, and of course we (the UN?) could never control the purpose to which that would be put (eg further persecuting innocent Iraqis.) Still, that never bothered any of us trading with Communism, as we plotted its downfall. Intuitively most of us understand that broad point.

  7. jquiggin
    March 26th, 2006 at 22:30 | #7

    This is pathetic, observa. All we had to do was refuse to help Saddam with the fake trucking deal, and he would have had to settle for the much smaller rake-offs he could get from bogus port charges and the like, or at worst, find some other country willing to help him. The Canadians refused, and assuming the US did likewise, he would have found it very difficult to procure significant supplies on the terms he was demanding.

    Please don’t bother with any future defences of the war on Iraq, at least not on this blog. We’ve heard all we need to mark them down as the worst sort of hypocrisy.

  8. March 27th, 2006 at 00:43 | #8

    The only ones turning blind eyes are John and Jack. My first reaction to the AWB affair still conveys how I feel about the matter and I will have more to say when Commissioner Cole concludes his inquiry.

    Here, then, is the full transcript of my first reaction (19 January) which, as I say, still largely conveys what I believe:

    WAS Alexander Downer aware of the bribes being paid to the Iraqi regime by the AWB? The FM confidently denies the suggestion and, at this stage, I think he’s probably telling the truth. Because Opposition foreign affairs spokesman Kevin Rudd calls for an inquiry or a resignation approximately every three and a half days, I’m keeping the wheat of my judgement on that question separate from the chaff of his longstanding get-Alexander envy-fetish. The full gravity of this affair should not be underestimated. Historically speaking, Australian Federal governments have been less likely to be mentioned in dispatches for graft and corruption than many, if not most, national governments around the world. For the sake of that record, it is to be hoped the AWB kickback affair turns out to have been an in-house case of institutional cupidity writ large rather than a minister-approved descent into financially expedient racketeering. Time will tell.

    Time will tell, indeed. I’m more inclined now then I was then to think the government should have looked at the AWB. Nevertheless, claims that the government knowingly paid bribes to Saddam Hussein are rubbish. As is the Professor’s “argument” here that the government “was in bed with Saddam.”

    John, you’ve intentionally misrepresented my views, failed to acknowledge that some of us are waiting for solid findings and you’ve at least nodded at a mendacious conspiracy theory about what the government was mindfully doing.

    So please, spare me the unctious lecture on ethics.

  9. observa
    March 27th, 2006 at 01:11 | #9

    I’m not defending what the AWB monopoly did by colluding with another state run monopolist. It’s what they do best. Hey, I’m a small business advocate. It’s lefties who believe the state should run everything and when it gets it wrong, as you point out, it gets it wrong in a much bigger way. Ask the USSR?

    You protest too much John and that’s because I reckon my analysis is closer to Joe Public’s view than yours and that’s what’s sticking in your craw. They don’t blame Blair, Bush or Howard for the state of Iraq. They understood the ethos behind Blair’s active BOL, affirmative action plan, which was left progressive, for which the sulky Cold War left are in a hissy fit over. They blame bloody Muslim fundamentalists and are beginning to see that Arab Islam is extremely intolerant-Danish cartoons, treatment of a christian convert in Afghanistan, Iran, etc. Admitting defeat in Iraq and no doubt Afghanistan soon after, will not drive Joe Public back into the warm, wise bosom of the left, simply because the left currently have no answers to their justifiable concerns. Oh it might ultimately, if you want to stand for a battle carrier group mentality and the threat of preemptive air strikes if Muslim states harbour terrorism (a la Milosevic or the Israeli approach), as well as no more bloody Omrans and Hilalis within the gates. Islam has some very bad franchises and it had better clean them up or the whole corporation is going to face a very hostile takeover in the near future. Still, I’m all ears for your solutions to the growing threat of Islamism John. All I’ve heard to date from the conservative left is negative carping and that’s why they don’t resonate with the punters. You need prescriptive policy for that.

  10. avaroo
    March 27th, 2006 at 02:06 | #10

    Currency Lad,

    I share your amazement that the usual voices crying for transparency show no interest at all in the masses of documents recovered in Iraq and currently revealing some very interesting information. It’s like some people aren’t even aware that Saddam was TAPED talking about a WMD attack on the US. Odd, isn’t it?

  11. jquiggin
    March 27th, 2006 at 06:16 | #11

    CL, there’s been ample evidence since your first post to show that members of the government has repeatedly misled the public and the Parliament about their knowledge of the bribes, their co-operation with Volcker and many other matters. I think this is enough to conclude that that they either knew or deliberately chose not to know about the bribery.

    But, even if you disagree with this conclusion, you must surely agree that the last two months of evidence have gravely undermined the government’s position. Yet you’ve posted nothing but snarky comments dismissing the whole thing.

  12. jquiggin
    March 27th, 2006 at 07:56 | #12

    Observa, the dominant (or at least median) view of the public is essentially realpolitik. They didn’t buy any of the arguments for war and regarded it as a mistake, but accepted that we had to go along with the Americans because we always do. The aim at all times was to get out as soon as possible, and with as few Australian casualties as possible. Similarly, we had to pay bribes to Saddam because that’s the way the world works.

    It’s not a noble position, but it is at least consistent, unlike that of people who actively support both the Iraq war and the Howard government.

  13. observa
    March 27th, 2006 at 09:31 | #13

    “They didn’t buy any of the arguments for war and regarded it as a mistake,”
    I’d disagree. My take is they were initially against, but subsequently accepted the arguments(Anglo elections remember), but are now increasingly skeptical the BOL aims can be achieved, which might leave a huge window of opportunity for any opposition with some real alternatives now of course.

    Also I disagree that the alternative Rudd position is nobler. – See everybody! The Howard govt was as disinterested as the UN at policing the aims and mechanics of the sanctions policy, that we firmly believe was the answer to Saddam. That’s because as we all know now, the buggers were busy plotting regime change and democracy for Iraq with them evil Yanks, etc. Everyone knows that would never work because um err, well Iraqis are extremely culturally challenging sorts of people that only respond nicely to sanctions. Personally I think the punters get the drift.

  14. observa
    March 27th, 2006 at 09:37 | #14

    It’s all about context John, which you could well appreciate.

  15. March 27th, 2006 at 11:54 | #15

    John, in lieu of the Commissioner’s findings – of which YOU ARE NOT cognisant – I have posted several items ridiculing people pretending there is evidence the government knowlingly paid bribes to Saddam Hussein. There is no such evidence. The suggestion that there is such evidence constitutes a lie.

    As I’ve said, when I have findings – findings whose nature I can only guess at for now – I’ll write critically of the government’s management of the issue. In the same way, incidentally, that I often write critically of the government. AWB’s bribery culture dates back at least 20 years – back to the days when the Labor Party was asking the Ba’ath Party for money. Mr Cole’s conclusions should be interesting and very critical.

    Support for the Iraq War has nothing to do with the AWB as neither supporters of the war or – as far as any evidence hitherto suggests – the government itself wanted to either fund or bribe Saddam Hussein. They wanted to remove him from power – in the manner and for the reasons once demanded by Bill Clinton. As for the war and general publics, their response was to re-elect George Bush, Tony Blair and John Howard.

    Gee, they were really scandalised weren’t they?

  16. March 27th, 2006 at 15:25 | #16

    John Quiggin is right. One cannot have this both ways. You cannot invade a country, with all the slaughter entailed, ctiting reasons that are essentially to do with self-defense, and then later be shown to have actively evaded the sanctions regime in pursuit of self-profit and thus to have strengthened the supposed enemy regime. Those two actions are violently contradictory.

    Iraq was not a friend one day and an enemy the next. It was an enemy since 1991. The AWB bribes are most definitely NOT how the real world works. In the real world only shysters line their country’s enemy’s pockets.

    Such behaviour is not realpolitik but deeply unprincipled opportunism that makes a mockery of the fine words used to launch the military assault on Iraq, and which makes the current Iraqi Civil War look to be a burden of guilt that will take us many decades of denial to shrug off.

  17. March 27th, 2006 at 17:09 | #17

    There is no evidence the government orchestrated bribes to Saddam Hussein. To say there is such evidence is a lie.

    There is no civil war in Iraq, except in the imaginations of cry-baby leftists who want there to be one. They want more Iraqis to be killed at the hands of terrorists because they don’t like George Bush and John Howard – speaking of “deeply unprincipled opportunism.”

    Evidence suggests bribes have been normal business practice in the wheat market since the 1970s at least. In the mid 70s, the Labor Party secretly sought money from Saddam Hussein & Co. – which gives you an indication of the kind of corruption we’re talking about. (Iraq’s, I mean – not Whitlam’s). Kevin Rudd couldn’t keep AWB money out of Brisbane.

    The anti-war left cannot have it both ways. They cannot argue they are UN-loyal legalists when it was the UN itself that inaugurated Oil-For-Food and then participated in that scheme’s corruption – up to and including a member of the Annan family. They should also apologise for their multilateralism having failed to deter Iran in any way and for saying nothing about the activities of the UN’s rape squads in West Africa.

    Such ommissions make a mockery of their fine words.

  18. jquiggin
    March 27th, 2006 at 18:15 | #18

    You’re contradicting yourself as you write, CL. If bribes were normal business practice, then the government must have known that it would be necessary to apply more than normal scrutiny to prevent bribes being paid in this case. Instead, they encourage a “whatever it takes” approach to sealing a deal with Iraq, which amounts to orchestrating bribes.

    And dragging in red herrings like Iran and West Africa is a sign of desperation.

  19. Simonjm
    March 27th, 2006 at 20:20 | #19

    All about context; have you been listening to Bolt Observa & been taking his class for Rationalizations 101?

    WWB is right on the nail, if he was such a monster that needed to be removed you cannot then feed him without destroying your moral stance.

    Ad hoc fallacies does not an justiofication make.

    Like Bolt and it appears many on the right can parrot moral language but have little understanding of logical moral consistency.

    Where have the moderate right gone in Australia?

    We are at least seeing some conservative Republicans taking about taking back their party but with a self-absorbed electorate Howard has nothing to fear

  20. Hal9000
    March 27th, 2006 at 20:29 | #20

    “In the mid 70s, the Labor Party secretly sought money from Saddam Hussein & Co.” Since he didn’t stage his coup until 5 years later, that seems unlikely.

    How about – “throughout the 1980s the US openly supported Saddam Hussein & Co with cash and arms to help him wage aggressive wars deploying banned WMD on neighbouring states and ethnic minorities, which gives you an indication of the kind of corruption we’re talking about.” There now, that sounds about right.

  21. March 27th, 2006 at 21:30 | #21

    How about the United States wanted a bulwark against Tehran, Hal? As Tehran has stated repeatedly that it wants to eliminate the Jewish race – a threat about which the increasingly anti-semitic “peace” movement is indifferent – the United States was right to do so. The world changes and some people – barring left-wing conservatives – change with it.

    John, you’re the one who introduced the red herrings. You took issue with two posts of mine that dealt with the Iraq War. They had nothing to do with the AWB. Your bizaare argument was that nobody can support the Iraq War unless they first ritually acknowledge the AWB affair – whose investigation has not been concluded. You also deliberately misrepresented my view of the AWB affair, which makes your outrage about the alleged misrepresentations of the government somewhat confected.

    My reply was of the kind you preferred to employ yourself. If you’re really outraged by the injustice caused by the sidelining of multilateralism in the case of the Iraq War, could you please provide me with evidence that you’ve even once criticised the United Nations for orchestrating the wholesale rape of women in West Africa? Or that you’ve ever called for the resignation of Kofi Annan, who oversaw the Oil-For-Food regime? I’m just wondering how profound is your concern about justice, according to the moral yardstick approach you’ve chosen to introduce.

    You (and Simonjm) pretend to be outraged that monies found their way to a dangerous dictator – the same dangerous dictator you believe should still be the president of Iraq.

    Weird stuff.

  22. SJ
    March 27th, 2006 at 22:25 | #22

    C.L. Says:

    You (and Simonjm) pretend to be outraged that monies found their way to a dangerous dictator – the same dangerous dictator you believe should still be the president of Iraq.

    Weird stuff.

    It’s not really all that weird, or at least not in the way you think it is.

    You’re presenting a false dichotomy which has always been a favorite of the Iraq war supporters.

    The CoW had to either:

    a) do nothing, and

    - suffer nuclear attack within 45 minutes!!!
    - let Saddam give weapons of mass destruction to terrorists!!!
    - leave 9/11 unpunished!!!
    - let Saddam torture people!!!, or

    b) invade immediately and kill a couple of hundred thousand people.

    Sorry, C.L., it doesn’t wash.

    The fact is that the CoW has replaced Saddam with something worse than Saddam. It does not follow that people who tell you that you were and are wrong were happy with the status quo 2002.

  23. March 28th, 2006 at 02:57 | #23

    The exclamation marks prove the desperation of your argument. Nobody ever said Saddam could nuke anyone. It’s now known thousands of terrorists were trained in Iraq and that interactions occurred between al Qaeda and Saddam. Saddam did actually torture people routinely – if you’re denying that I have to conclude you’re presently inhabiting another planet.

    Your estimate of how many people were killed in the invasion is false.

    The present situation is not worse. Saddam’s 200,000-300,000 victims simply weren’t killed in a manner that recieved media coverage.

    Ergo, according to you: Saddam was better.

    Like I said: weird.

  24. Simonjm
    March 28th, 2006 at 10:09 | #24

    CL pls don’t use the straw man on me it certainly doesn’t fit.

    In principle I had no problem with the removing of Saddam I do however find how they went about it underhanded-political confirmation bias- & illegal and condemn the total incompetence and corruption of the post war security and construction. Something that very few if indeed any pro-war apologists are willing to do.

    I find it especially hypocritical of many of the pro-war apologists like Bolt won’t commit themselves to further regime change or freedom from oppression under similar circumstances say in Burma or West Papua or the Sudan.

    Sorry I forgot the use of military force to spread democracy and freedom from human rights abuses by the Neo-cons and their lackeys is only justified when oil is involved . Selective justice the way to have your cake and it.

    Then we have the total self demolition of your moral case by excusing bribes to this self same mass murderer by ad hoc rationalizations, that you don’t even have the ability to understand blows your case right out of the water.

    Sad and a waste of my time.

    BTW thousands of terrorists and interactions-sounds kinky- occurred between al Qaeda and Saddam. If you are going to troll at least come up with something that hasn’t already been debunked.

  25. March 28th, 2006 at 10:35 | #25

    Personally, I favour the overthrow of dictators anywhere and everywhere if it comes to that. I don’t speak for Andrew Bolt, the columnist for whom leftists appear to have some kind of erotic fixation.

    As far as oil and resources go, Evans and Alitas drank champagne while toasting the goodies they intending stealing from East Timor – even as Indonesian troops continued with their genocide. In recent history, this is the most disgraceful example of an Australian government lying and cheating and laughing and bullying. According to the UN report released a while back, an estimated 150,000 people were liquidated. No lefties marched in the streets to remember them. Mmm, strange. Guess BushHitler wasn’t involved so it doesn’t really matter.

    I have not excused the AWB for paying bribes. Even as you write about a “moral case”, you convey something which is a lie. This tells me you’re no arbiter of morality but are, rather, a sycophant who is willing to repeat someone else’s misrepresentations.

    Saddam and al qaeda: look here for starters. Saddam and training terrorists: start here. You don’t appear to be following the news or have much familiarity with what’s going on. Not surprising if you’re relying on John for your Iraq news.

    Finally, I’m hardly trolling, Einstein. The post is about my views.

  26. Spiros
    March 28th, 2006 at 11:03 | #26

    ” According to the UN report released a while back, an estimated 150,000 people were liquidated. No lefties marched in the streets to remember them.”

    C.L., It was the Left that campaigned continually for freedom in East Timor, 1975-1999, and they were continually abused by the Right for their troubles. When the Left said that the Indonesians had massacred hundreds of thoudands of East Timorese, they were labelled as fantasists and liars by the Right – people like Greg Sheridan and Paddy McGuiness, whose views are on the record in the newspaper archives for anyone who wants to check.

    When Alitas and Evans did their deal, it was the Left who condemned them.

    To say that the Left was indifferent to the fate of the East Timorese is simply a travesty.

  27. Simonjm
    March 28th, 2006 at 11:50 | #27

    CL news that al qaeda was in Iraq is not new and up til now has been nothing more than contact and passage through. Excuse me if I wait for more info given the track record of Iraqi smoking guns -WMD’s- before giving this any ground.

    & if you aren’t condoning the bribes why the business as usual line, a context thing? Oh and were there sanctions going back to the 70′s ?

    So if I’ve misrepresented you as ok’ing the bribes and that makes me a liar then you are just as bad by misrepresenting me as wanting Saddam still in power and you are just as much a liar.

    Hmm erotic fixation with Bolt???

    Now that you mention it, having him bound up so I can give him a whipping for being a very naughty boy for being a hypocrite and failing ethics 101 does have an appeal. ;)

  28. March 28th, 2006 at 13:57 | #28

    “…news that al qaeda was in Iraq is not new…”

    The NEWS is that it had direct dealings with Saddam – previously denied by the anti-war crowd. Their theory was that secular Saddam wanted nothing to do with religious fanatics. That theory has now been destroyed. Its proponents ought to apologise. Unfortunately, only Tony Blair represents the best morality of the Old Left – the left that used to want tyranny to be “smashed.”

    The “business as usual” context is not offered as an excuse. It is offered to point to the reality that what we call bribery is a standard commercial practice in many parts of the world. It’s very likely that it will continue after the Cole Inquiry ends. Kevin Rudd couldn’t even live up to a commitment to keep AWB money out of Queensland. How successful do you think he would have been keeping it out of Iraq? Even Kofi’s boy got his hands on some dosh. Kofi himself? Who knows. That Saddam abused the UN’s programme, however, demonstrates that his regime would stop at nothing, under any circumstances. It demonstrates why his removal from power was so important and so just.

    And it is no misrepresentation to say that those who believed the war was illegal also believe, ipso facto, that Saddam Hussein should still be president of Iraq. They should have the courage to insist that he be released from prison and re-installed to power.

  29. jquiggin
    March 28th, 2006 at 16:05 | #29

    CL, I assume you don’t favour war (not in some hypothetical circumstance, but right now) to remove Kim Jong-Il and also that you wouldn’t take kindly to being called a supporter of keeping Kim Jong-Il in power.

    So, why do you keep on with this line that those who judged, correctly, that the costs of removing Saddam would be far greater than claimed by you and other war supporters, are Saddam supporters. As you ought to be aware, the people you’re slandering include a majority of both Americans and Australians.

    As regards your claims on the Iraqi documents, how is it that you are credulously accepting of anything that seems to back up your case, even when it comes from the same rightwing bloggers who got the WMD issue totally wrong the first time around, while ignoring the mountain of well-attested evidence showing that the Australian government’s initial claims to have known nothing about AWB were false.

    On the Iraqi documents, here’s the NYT

    “Our view is there’s nothing in here that changes what we know today,” said a senior intelligence official, who would discuss the program only on condition of anonymity because the director of national intelligence, John D. Negroponte, directed his staff to avoid public debates over the documents. “There is no smoking gun on W.M.D., Al Qaeda, those kinds of issues.”

    All the documents, which are available on fmso.leavenworth.army.mil/products-docex.htm, have received at least a quick review by Arabic linguists and do not alter the government’s official stance, officials say. On some tapes already released, in fact, Mr. Hussein expressed frustration that he did not have unconventional weapons.

    Of course, the NYT may be inventing this quote, or the US intelligence services may be lying to protect Saddam. Does either of these conspiracy theories appeal to you?

  30. March 28th, 2006 at 17:05 | #30

    The impartial NYT, an anonymous source and a “quick review.”

    Golly, sounds definitive.

  31. SJ
    March 28th, 2006 at 17:14 | #31

    C.L. Says: “The exclamation marks prove the desperation of your argument.” Um, hardly. The exclamation marks are there in mockery of the pre-war frenzy on your side.

    Nobody ever said Saddam could nuke anyone.” Except maybe for this guy:

    “He’s had years to get good at it and we know he has been absolutely devoted to trying to acquire nuclear weapons. And we believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons,” Cheney said.

  32. March 28th, 2006 at 18:48 | #32

    SJ,
    The first part of the quote was correct – it was only thanks to the Israelis bombing the nuclear reactor under construction in the early 1980s that he did not get them then (btw, funded and helped by the Soviet Union).
    The expertise was still there, just not the opportunity.

  33. Katz
    March 28th, 2006 at 19:15 | #33

    “Personally, I favour the overthrow of dictators anywhere and everywhere if it comes to that.”

    C. L. is yet another of those fighters for freedom and justice who’d be out there on the front line, boots on the ground, only except … except … he has one more imflammatory, unhinged and incoherent post to make.

    Gee C. L., I sure hope you get over your logorrhoea real soon because you’ve got a lot of fighting to do.

    But maybe, just maybe, you’ll come to your senses.

    If you happen to achieve a little maturity you’ll recognise that mere vehemence is no substitute for competence.

    Let’s look at it dispassionately. The Bush clique picked the wrong war at the wrong time and then have compounded their problems by cocking it up severely.

    Maybe ths parallel will help you to understand the underlying concept.

    Just as you crave the overthrow of dictators, so do I crave good food. I may hope that the local KFC franchise will provide it. But I know they will not. The Hamburger Helpers behind the counter seem keen enough. But unfortunately they don’t have the skills, the resources and the facilities to qualify as chefs.

    Now take a good hard look at GWB. Does he look more like a chef or a burger flipper to you?

  34. jquiggin
    March 28th, 2006 at 19:40 | #34

    Well, CL, would you prefer National Review commentator, Jonah Goldberg, who plays up “intriguing” evidence, but admits

    There are no smoking guns so far. And we probably won’t find an Iraqi equivalent of the Zimmerman telegram — which exposed Germany’s hostile intent toward the United States and strengthened public support for entering World War I — languishing in some government warehouse, like the Ark of the Covenant at the end of the first “Indiana Jones” movie.

    Goldberg is about as extreme as you can get , and even he doesn’t claim direct dealings with Al Qaeda.

    Meanwhile you still haven’t responded even once to my main point. You started off saying the AWB scandal was a grave one. The evidence shows beyond question that the governments initial claims to have known nothing were false. Yet you neither condemned the government nor waited for the final verdict. Instead you published post after post dismissing the whole thing, just as you have done in this thread

  35. Simonjm
    March 28th, 2006 at 20:33 | #35

    Hey CL keep your answers narrow and technical to make yourself a small target. Good advice that don’t you think. But weight you have nothing to hide, we want you to fully participate in this blog after all ;)

    I will say this though CL I do understand the point of view with the problems of the UN and the politics involved. Though first as one commentator said who can you blame the body that does its best when made up by countries with their own agendas.

    What if the US, UK & Aus went into Darfur over the veto of the China would there be outcry about legality?

    Pity we will never know.

  36. Simonjm
    March 28th, 2006 at 20:35 | #36

    chuckles sorry wait, its usually my there’s

  37. March 28th, 2006 at 21:53 | #37

    John, your “main point” is too vague to respond to in any manner likely to please you. You raised the AWB in relation to two posts of mine that had nothing to do with the AWB. It’s still not clear exactly why you should have done so. Anger seems to be the only explanation.

    Your argument – as far as I can make out – is that I shouldn’t write about Iraq because I think the paying of bribes to Saddam is “a beatup of no interest.” I’ve demonstrated to you that this is not what I believe. There is no “evidence” against the government because no findings have been promulgated. What I have ridiculed or criticised are journalists and others making exaggerated claims about the government’s culpability. That’s because they choose to place on the public record their opinions. Mr Cole hasn’t placed any findings on the public record.

    You’ve also been asked to provide evidence that you’ve even once called for the resignation of Kofi Annan – who oversaw the biggest financial corruption scandal in history. I mean, if you did do so somewhere along the line, that’s great. But it obviously isn’t something of great importance to you. The government’s critics argue that it was a travesty that a violent monster got his hands on some money. But they believe the same violent monster should still be president of Iraq. Quite simply, this is laughable.

    Still waiting on the Kofi Annan link.

    I’ll see your Goldberg/NYT and raise you a Hitchens/WSJ etc. Iraq War polemics are somewhat tiresome – which is one reason I’ve rarely written about the war and its politics. The world cannot sign off on mass murdering dictators being in charge of regimes with so bloody a record as Saddam’s on the specious basis that a “strongman” is needed to – well – murder enough people to maintain “stability.” The boilerplate anti-war response is to say, ‘oh yeah, well why don’t we invade Y country and X regime?’

    Well, OK. Make those cases. I’ll almost certainly support you.

  38. SJ
    March 28th, 2006 at 22:20 | #38

    C.L. Says: “But they believe the same violent monster should still be president of Iraq.

    I think that the falsity of this argument has been pointed out to you a number of times. Whatever.

    The depravity of your thinking couldn’t be made clearer than by this little gem:

    “It is necessary I think to declare boldly that a state of terror – by which the Iraqi people themselves will not be intimidated – is better than a terrorist state. “

    Now, in 2006, it’s quite obvious that Iraq 2002 was not a “terrorist state”. Your claim is that a “state of terror”, i.e., the appalling condition of Iraq at the moment, is preferable to the “terrorist state” that existed only in your imagination.

    Good job, sport.

  39. March 28th, 2006 at 22:50 | #39

    All in my imagination? Really?

    Saddam Hussein’s clearest act of genocide appears to have been the Anfal campaign against the Iraqi Kurds, which took place between 1987 and 1989. According to estimates from Human Rights Watch and other international groups, the brutal tactics used by the regime against the Kurdish people resulted in the deaths of some 100,000 civilians and the destruction of more than 4,000 villages. Chemical weapons were used to kill thousands, most notably in the Kurdish town of Halabja. More broadly, Saddam Hussein is believed to have ordered the forced expulsion of thousands of Kurds and other ethnic minorities from areas in northern Iraq during a widespread “Arabization” campaign.

    His regime was known to employ murder, torture, and unlawful imprisonment as regular tactics to shore up its control. In addition to the acts of genocide listed above, the Baathists also conducted large-scale killings after the failed 1991 uprisings in the Kurdish north and Shiite south of Iraq, resulting in the deaths of thousands. Another brutal crime was the repression and destruction of the society of the so-called Marsh Arabs, who lived for centuries in Iraq’s south. In total, an estimated 300,000 or more Iraqis are believed to have been unlawfully killed by Saddam Hussein’s regime and buried in mass graves around the country, according to human rights groups.

    “Where are the bodies?” Phillip Adams once asked. At least he was courageous enough to openly trivialise the enormities of a terrorist state. The left believes this man should never have been overthrown and is, at some now hypothetical level, the lawful president of Iraq.

    In SJ’s imagination, moreover, Saddam in 2002 was not such a bad egg.

    The chicken-hawke left: extravagantly concerned about Abu Ghraib where not one person has died but indifferent to the liquidation of 300,000 people at the hands of a terrorist.

    Nasty commenters you’ve got around here, John.

  40. SJ
    March 28th, 2006 at 23:02 | #40

    What a load of crap.

    You now try to redefine “terrorist state” to mean one that does terrible stuff to the people within the state, rather than outside the state.

    So your “state of terror” that now exists in Iraq is exactly the same thing as the “terrorist state”.

    Remember this? “It is necessary I think to declare boldly that a state of terror – by which the Iraqi people themselves will not be intimidated – is better than a terrorist state. “

    Why try to draw a distinction in the first place if you believe they’re the same thing? Idiot.

  41. SJ
    March 28th, 2006 at 23:30 | #41

    C.L. Says: “Abu Ghraib where not one person has died

    I take issue with this lie too.

    Prisoner deaths investigated as involving criminal homicide or abuse by U.S. personnel:

    Manadel al-Jamadi, Abu Ghraib, Iraq, Nov. 4, 2003. Died during interrogation. Several Navy SEALs charged; and two CIA personnel under investigation.

    Musa Abbas Farhan, Abu Ghraib, April 10, 2003. Shot during riot.

    Khalid Abbas Mahmood, Abu Ghraib, April 10, 2003. Shot during riot.

    Ala-Jassem Sa’ad, 22, Abu Ghraib, June 13, 2003. Shot during riot.

    Jussayn Ali Salman, about 34, Abu Ghraib, Nov. 24, 2003. Shot during riot.

    Madoor Hussein Sayar, about 21, Abu Ghraib, Nov. 24, 2003. Shot during riot.

    Dawood Mazin Thawin, about 25, Abu Ghraib, Nov. 24, 2003. Shot during riot.

    Naif Sliman Amir, Abu Ghraib, March 28, 2004. Shot during riot.

    Ibrahim Hamadan Sudhail, May 24, 2004, Abu Ghraib. Shot in fighting before capture, died in custody.

    Fras Moazahim Habib, Abu Ghraib, Aug. 18, 2004. Shot during riot.

    Husham Nafit Ghafar, Abu Ghraib, Aug. 18, 2004. Shot during riot.

    Prisoners killed in insurgent attack on Abu Ghraib, April 6, 2004

    Mohamed Najem Abed, Aug. 6, 2003, Abu Ghraib prison.

    Wathik Mihdy, Aug. 11, 2003, Abu Ghraib.

    Dham Spah, Aug. 13, 2003, Abu Ghraib.

    Ehad Kazam Taled, Aug. 20, 2003, Abu Ghraib.

    Nasef J. Ibrahim, 63, Jan. 8, 2004, Abu Ghraib.

    Saad Mohammed Abdullah, 54, Feb. 19, 2004, Abu Ghraib.

    Fathel Ibrahim Mahmood, April 19, 2004, Abu Ghraib.

    Abbas Alwad Fadil, April 19, 2004, Abu Ghraib.

    Hussein Abdullah Awad al-Juwadi, 75, May 11, 2004, Abu Ghraib.

    Abduhl Kaddim Altia, May 22, 2004, Abu Ghraib.

    Riadh Mohammed Abd al Razak, June 10, 2004, Abu Ghraib.

    Fawaz Badaa Najem, June 14, 2004, Abu Ghraib. Died in cell, cause undetermined after autopsy.

    You wouldn’t recognise the truth even if it walked up to you in the street and slapped you across the face with a mackerel.

  42. March 28th, 2006 at 23:45 | #42

    Am left wondering what JQ admires so terribly about CL. He is blind to reason on this subject.

    “The chicken-hawk left: extravagantly concerned about Abu Ghraib where not one person has died but indifferent to the liquidation of 300,000 people at the hands of a terrorist.”

    Pathetically juvenile in its debating strategy, which is fine. We were all passed thru that stage at one point. But to play games using such tragedies is indicative of a more unkempt soul than mere youth might excuse.

  43. March 29th, 2006 at 02:21 | #43

    Oh don’t make me puke, Baboon Brain. You wouldn’t know a soul from a submarine.

    Sorry SJ, I meant Guantanamo. It’s easy to get mixed up while debating lefties pretending to care about victims of violence in Iraq. After all, you’d just finished saying Saddam in 2002 was A-OK. That’s the same Saddam who murdered 300,000 people – the man you believe should still be president of Iraq.

    Extraordinarily, you also argue terrorism within a state, by a state, is not terrorism. I guess Franco, Pinochet and Mugabe are also amongst the “strongmen” who you think get an undeservedly bad historical press. And we’ll forget about that whole Kuwait invasion thing, as well as the missile attacks on Israel, as well as the financing of suicide bombings, as well as the genocides against certain non-Arabs in Iraq and the training of foreign terrorists.

    It is better to fight terrorists than to accept an international order which allows certain states to be terrorist entities themselves for the sake of “stability.” Arguing that Saddam was a really bad bloke but, hey, he held it together is exactly the same policy that America once employed in Latin America. This is what the Noriega left is now reduced to. It highlights again why Tony Blair is such a giant among the contemporary world’s nihilistic Laborites.

    PS: And for Pete’s sake, where are John’s links calling for the resignation of Kofi Annan? I thought he was really really outraged by the Oil-For-Food scandal.

    Guess not.

  44. Spiros
    March 29th, 2006 at 07:27 | #44

    “Make those cases. IÂ’ll almost certainly support you.”
    How about China? A horrible godless communist dictatorship that enslaves 1.2 billion people, China poses an immediate and enduring threat to peaceful and democratic Taiwan and a long threat to the whole world.

    We should have a war with China. Anyone opposed is objectively pro-communist dictatorship.

  45. Katz
    March 29th, 2006 at 09:37 | #45

    “The government’s critics argue that it was a travesty that a violent monster got his hands on some money. But they believe the same violent monster should still be president of Iraq. Quite simply, this is laughable.”

    This is proof positive that C. L. has had a nuance by-pass.

    To conclude that a certain time, place and method for removing a dictator are inappropriate and likely to be unsuccessful should not be interpreted as support for that dictator.

    Let us examine C. L.’s illogicality further. If “objectively” opponents of the war were “pro-Saddam”, then “objectively” supporters of the war were pro-theocracy. I don’t endorse either of these nonsensical positions. And C. L. would improve his credibility were he to cease riding that particular hobby-horse.

    And as the record of fiasco in Iraq has demonstrated, some caution should have been exercised.

    But it seems that C. L. feels no need to observe caution.

    While on this issue, it is fascinating to witness the spin of Blair and Howard on events in Iraq.

    Their argument for “staying the course” revolves around those “brave Iraqis’ who participated in various elections.

    Conveniently flushed down the memory tubes are:

    1. The Bush clique didn’t want the first election, but were forced by Sistani to accede to it.

    2. All subsequent elections were consequent upon the highly unfavourable outcome (to US interests) of the first election.

    3. A large majority of Iraqi voters supported parties that have vowed to establish one regime or another that would deny democratic rights as they are understood in the West.

    4. The process of finalising the Iraqi constitution was deep-frozen by the US because the Bush Administration didn’t like what the Iraqis were attempting to achieve.

    So what are the COW fighting for?

    Domestically, this military misadventure seems to be a salve for the egos and historical record of the leaders of the COW. They don’t want to sully their reputations with a tick in the loss column.

    In Greater Mesopotamia the COW entertains an evermore forlorn hope that the Muslims will come to their senses and become decent secularists like the rest of us. This hope, of course, ignores that fact that the chaos unleased by “shock and awe” has made islamism of various stripes the only refuge in a world of madness.

    Hubris prepares the killing ground for Nemesis.

  46. March 29th, 2006 at 09:53 | #46

    Katz, SJ and the rest. If you do not believe the Saddam should be President of Iraq, how would you have removed him before now?
    Simple question, simple answer, please.

  47. Katz
    March 29th, 2006 at 10:11 | #47

    AR, see above.

    1. Wishing for something doesn’t make it so. Timing, resourcefulness and skill are imperative. The COW were sadly deficient in all three.

    2. Sometimes the asking price is too high. The Bush clique discovered this only after they committed all their stake and rolled snakes-eyes.

    3. You shouldn’t rely on idiots. Bush is an idiot.

    Intelligent subversion of a regime as corrupt and sclerotic as the Saddam regime is not beyond the wit of the intelligence and financial resources of the West. After playing footsie with Saddam for more than 20 years, why did it suddenly become imperative to oust him?

    The answer is that the Bush clique were so besotted by hubris, they actually did believe that wishing could make it so.

    And Howard, who is no idiot, has prospered politically by whispering destructive sentiments into Bush’s cloth ear. By the time this policy blows back to Australia’s disadvantage Howard will have retired. But the rest of us will live to regret the consequences, one of the most important of which is a return of injured isolationism in the US.

    This is exactly what Osama bin Laden wants.

    Well done OBL!

  48. jquiggin
    March 29th, 2006 at 10:23 | #48

    “Katz, SJ and the rest. If you do not believe the Saddam should be President of Iraq, how would you have removed him before now?
    Simple question, simple answer, please. ‘

    I’m disappointed to see this from you, AR. You must know it’s a silly and dishonest debating point.

    But I’ll answer as soon as you answer your own question with Kim Jong-Il substituted for Saddam. (Hint: I’m going to give the same answer in both cases, and this will almost certainly be your answer on Kim).

    Simple question, simple answer, please

  49. Spiros
    March 29th, 2006 at 10:36 | #49

    “If you do not believe the Saddam should be President of Iraq, how would you have removed him before now?”

    It doesn’t follow that because a country’s President is a bad man doing bad things, that he should be removed by war, coup, murdrer.

    It’s a question of benefits and costs.

    With Iraq, the scorecard is

    Benefits: Saddam and sons removed, democracy (maybe, watch this space), end to Baathist humans rights abuses

    Costs: tens of thousands killed (maybe hundreds of thousands), huge monetary cost (hundreds of billions of dollars, maybe trillions before it’s all over), basic infrastructure destroyed, honeypot for Islamist terrorists who are murdering an avarage of 30-40 people every day, theocracy (maybe, watch this space), new plaything for mad Iranian Mullahs.

  50. March 29th, 2006 at 10:47 | #50

    Shorter Katz: some darkies shouldn’t have the vote.

  51. Simonjm
    March 29th, 2006 at 10:53 | #51

    Hey Andrew opening this can of worms entails that you must back regime change for numerous countries.

    Bringing down one tyrant -when there is oil involved- sounds great but what about the people who aren’t lucky enough to have oil in their backyard? Your champions of democracy and freedom are only fair weather moralists, selective justice when it suits.

    What about countries that have backed terrorism or brought down democratically elected governments tortured, kidnapped, unlawfully imprisoned? Opps there goes the US.

    Even if we were pragmatic and went after states that could be brought down imagine the list you would have do you imagine the COW when they are out of Iraq will say one down who’s next?

    If the Bush team had been at all competent they could got away with this but as it is this 300 000 could yet be bettered by the COW.

    To your question, since we aren’t likely to go after other states that don’t have oil I would keep with containment and targeted sanctions.

    CL maybe JQ could put up his link for Annan’s resignation when you put advocate one for Bush.

  52. Katz
    March 29th, 2006 at 11:23 | #52

    Shorter C. L.: denial has always worked for me.

  53. Simonjm
    March 29th, 2006 at 11:32 | #53

    Am I on a warning?

  54. March 29th, 2006 at 12:58 | #54

    It’s all about the Oil!!

    Guess that’s why young Master Annan worked in the industry.

    His Dad didn’t know anything was up, of course.
    ;)

  55. March 29th, 2006 at 15:24 | #55

    CL misrepresents Philip Adams’ “where are the bodies?” question. Tony Blair had claimed “We’ve already discovered, just so far, the remains of 400,000 people in mass graves”. Downing Street was eventually forced to admit that this claim was untrue, prompting Adams to ask his question. More details here.

    It is true that a lot of bodies have been found in mass graves in Iraq. The number is more than 5,000. But CL treats an estimate, based on who knows what, of 300,000 as gospel truth, while rejecting the Lancet estimate of excess deaths, which was based on sound epidemiology because

    the idea that a group of eggheads with an agenda could swan around Iraq and come up with scientifically solid findings in such an unquantifiably fluid environment is 100 per cent, unmitigated bullshit and no genuinely scrupulous academic would be satisfied with it.

  56. Hal9000
    March 29th, 2006 at 16:39 | #56

    C.L. retails so many false assumptions amid his fallacious debating points it’s a trial to pin them down. One that should be frimly scotched, since it’s germaine to the current propaganda buildup to a military adventure in Iran, is “As Tehran has stated repeatedly that it wants to eliminate the Jewish race”. Not so. The egregious Iranian president actually said “If European countries claim that they have killed Jews in World War II… why don’t they provide the Zionist regime with a piece of Europe.” Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4510922.stm Certainly an implicit call for the destruction of the Jewish state on its current site, but not a demand for implementation of the Final Solution. By all means excoriate the Tehran fundamentalists, but spare us the exaggerations.

    In this context, I note that the American religious right’s support for Israel is premised on the notion that at the End of Days all Jews who fail to accept Jesus will perish in the flames. If that’s not a call for the extermination of Jews I don’t know what is. These nutters are given access to, and well-paid jobs in, the Bush White House. http://www.villagevoice.com/news/0420,perlstein,53582,1.html

    Be afraid.

  57. Katz
    March 29th, 2006 at 17:10 | #57

    Bush tells Iraqi P.M. to step down

    BAGHDAD, March 28 (UPI) — The Bush administration has told Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari he is unacceptable as head of the next government, the New York Times reports.

    http://www.upi.com/NewsTrack/view.php?StoryID=20060328-023225-9707r

    Shorter Bush (for the benefit of persons with CL’s attention span): you Eye-Rackies can vote, and you’ll keep voting until you get it right.

    With this news, finally, the real war begins in Iraq. Finally, the US has identified its real enemy.

    But it’s all too, too late.

    Bush has just nominated himself as the biggest putz ever to inhabit the White House.

  58. jquiggin
    March 29th, 2006 at 18:16 | #58

    CL, most world leaders have embarrassing relatives who trade on their names. Neil Bush, Mark Thatcher and Billy Carter come to mind.

    If you think such an indirect link is enough to justify Annan’s resignation (and I agree it’s a black mark against his name) why aren’t you calling for the resignations of Downer and Vaile among others – they are far closer to much bigger corruption than Annan senior.

  59. Majorajam
    March 30th, 2006 at 06:26 | #59

    And coming soon JQ: Hugh Rodham.

    CL, this is from the link you provided about the conspiracy between Saddam and Al Qaeda:

    However, the information comes from an unidentified Afghan informant who states merely that he heard it from an Afghan consul, also unnamed. According to ABC News, which translated the tapes, the claims are “sensational” but the sourcing is “questionable”.

    Another document from a “trustworthy” source and dated August 2002 claims people with links to al-Qa’ida were in Iraq. There is a picture a few pages later of the Jordanian terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. But the papers suggest Saddam’s agents were trying to verify the presence of al-Qa’ida rather than colluding with it.

    Less well known is the informant’s nickname, “K.Y. ball”. The rest of the cited ‘evidence’ is nonsensical. For example:

    In another taped conversation from the mid-1990s, a man called al-Sahhaf — possibly a former information minister — says: “On the nuclear file, sir, are we saying we disclosed everything? No, we have uncleared problems in the nuclear field.”

    Apparently confirming that the nuclear program had been abandoned, he adds: “Everything is over. but did they know? No, sir, they did not know, not all the methods, not all the means, not all the scientists and not all the places.”

    To the extent anything can be read into that, it would confirm the termination of their nuclear program, but who can say for sure. You have other tapes attesting to an ongoing uranium enrichment program that the Iraq Survey Group- who had unfettered access to every corner of the country, and all files that the US hadn’t allowed to be looted- had going defunct in the 80s. Yup- watertight. The greatest irony is of course the way that piece concludes:

    The release of the documents came as Iraq’s former interim prime minister Iyad Allawi said the country was in the grip of civil war.

    Mr Allawi warned that the violence was reaching the point of no return and Europe and the US would not be spared the consequences.

    “It is unfortunate that we are in civil war. We are losing each day, as an average, 50 to 60 people throughout the country, if not more. If this is not civil war, then God knows what civil war is,” he said.

    “Iraq is in the middle of a crisis. Maybe we have not reached the point of no return yet. But we are moving towards this point. We are in a terrible civil conflict now.”

    Dr Allawi said Iraq would fall apart if the bloodshed reached the point of no return.

    “It will not only fall apart, but sectarianism will spread throughout the region, and even Europe and the United States would not be spared all the violence that may occur as a result of sectarian problems in this region.”

    So tell us some more stories CL. Tell us the one where justice is served by an Iraqi civil war, followed by a humbled COW retreat that leaves Afghanistan cubed. If you’re for the war, ipso facto you were for such an outcome. Ergo you’re a terrorist collaborator. Just following your logic sunshine.

    PS, Stephen Hayes revelations (and, relatedly, privileged access to the Ministry of Truth) notwithstanding, the 9/11 Commission concluded that there was no evidence of a collaborative relationship between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda. These findings of course take into account the extent to which the administration relied on a single compromised source for intelligence on that relationship.

  60. derrida derider
    March 30th, 2006 at 13:33 | #60

    “They [Leftists] want more Iraqis to be killed at the hands of terrorists because they don’t like George Bush and John Howard …” – c.l.

    John, that goes way beyond the bounds of civilised discourse – it is a true blood libel. It warrants immediate suspension until an apology is received.

    At the very least, don’t feed the troll.

  61. March 30th, 2006 at 15:47 | #61

    PrQ,
    Very well – and this has to be on the practical level. You have to take care of what you can. Kim Jong Il is a worse (if you can measure such things) threat to the rest of the world than Saddam. The problem is he is effectively protected by China and now has nuclear weapons, so an attack in Kim Jong Il at the very least invites a nuclear response from him and possibly a Chinese ripost.
    With Chinese protection, which he has, he must be considered untouchable. The important thing is to stop these guys getting nuclear weapons in the first place. Once that happens it is a whole new ball game. Thanks to the Israelis, that happened in the case of Iraq.

    Now, PrQ. Saddam?

  62. Katz
    March 30th, 2006 at 16:24 | #62

    Yes AR, practicalities.

    As you say:

    “You have to take care of what you can.”

    Just how “practical” have the COW been in handling the removal of Saddam?

    Now think about this practical problem: has the bellicosity of the Bush clique increased or decreased the likelihood of a nuke becoming the property of Islamist radicals?

    Consider these questions:

    1. Has Bush increased or decreased the likelihood of a united world response to the development of an Iranian nuclear capacity.

    2, Has the Iraq misadventure undermined US capacity to invade Iran?

    and perhaps more troublingly:

    3. Has the Iraq misadventure made it more likely that Islamists will take power in Pakistan, already a nuclear state.

    4. Does US failure in Iraq make a rise of isolationism in the United States more likely?

    These are practical questions that ought to have been considered before committing to regime change in Iraq.

    If you answer “yes” to any of them, that answer serves as a practical argument against Bush’s Iraq fiasco.

  63. March 30th, 2006 at 18:07 | #63

    Katz,
    Hindsight is a wonderful thing, isn’t it.
    The answer would clearly have been no to all of them if the Iraq situation had been well handled. As it is the answer is indeterminate to all of them – the future is an unknown on 3 and 4 and it is interesting to see that you appear to believe that the capacity to invade Iran is a good thing in questions 1 and 2.
    On 2 – I do not think even the US would show enough hubris as to invade Iran, even before Iraq. A limited mission to destroy the nuclear facilities is much more likely.
    On 1, I think the US action actually increased the likelihood of a united response. The demonstration that they were willing to act alone showed the other permanent members that they had to act to remain relevant.

  64. Katz
    March 30th, 2006 at 19:40 | #64

    AR,

    Hindsight exists only if you change your mind in the light of experience.

    The trick is to have a good idea about what will happen before it happens.

    There are several people who post on this blog alone who didn’t need hindsight to arrive at a fair appreciation of the god-awful pickle the dwindling members of the COW find themselves in today.

    And further up this thread you asked some of us to explain ourselves.

    We have.

    We were correct in our predictions. We would not have invaded.

    Now look what has happened to the debate over the invasion of Iraq. (Now only 30% of Americans think it was a good idea, down from 70%.) Back in those days the catchphrase was that “we are all neocons now”. And we opponents of invasion were called “objective traitors”. How times change. I guess we’re all traitors now.

    In the years since the invasion, erstwhile proponents of invasion have either recanted or they have redefined their minimal victory conditions to conform in some way with the facts that now exist on the ground. Most of this adjustment of definitions of minimal victory conditions is driven by denial.

    Frankly I care little about what this latter group of people now think. They have disqualified themselves from intelligent discussion by shifting their ground while denying that they have shifted their ground. They are either stupid or dishonest.

    Winners are grinners. The rest can make their own arrangements.

  65. jquiggin
    March 30th, 2006 at 20:19 | #65

    AR, you still haven’t given an answer to the question.

    “If you believe Kim-Jong Il shouldn’t be the ruler of North Korea, how would you have removed him before now”.

    So, I’ll put it back to you as two Yes-No questions.

    Do you believe Kim-Jong Il should be the ruler of North Korea?

    Do you support his forcible and immediate removal, given the likely costs?

    To play fair, I’ll give my Yes-No answers for Saddam as of March 2003, and for Kim Jong-Il today. In both cases they are No and No. I assume the same is true for you regarding Kim Jong-Il.

    Having disposed of the bogus idea, implicit in the original post, that a “No” answer to the first question implies a “yes” answer to the second, we come to costs and benefits.

    I thought in March 2003 that the likely costs of removing Saddam would exceed the benefits. Although the outcome hasn’t been the worst possible, it’s been worse than I expected. As most Americans now agree, the decision to remove Saddam was (at best) a mistake

  66. Simonjm
    March 30th, 2006 at 21:01 | #66

    Katz funny it would seem many of the pro-war crowd are also those justifying the AWB bribes to Saddam showing they have no idea about moral reasoning. As far as I’m concerned that puts them in the Bolt, Ackerman, Devine class of right wing apologist and there is no point in debate their political bias makes them no more than parrots.

    Too bad this forum cannot attract some moderate right wingers we can have a sensible debate with, ones that will call a spade a spade.

  67. Michael H
    March 31st, 2006 at 08:04 | #67

    It was interesting that when the OFF scandal broke, the pro-war right were busy labelling those involved as ‘Saddams friends’ etc, but they were assuming it was the Fench and Russians, and those against military action in general, who were primarily responsible.

    They are a bit quiter about it these days.

  68. Crispin Bennett
    March 31st, 2006 at 08:28 | #68

    JQ – one problem with your ‘costs and benefits’ notion is that the main costs are borne by people with no input into the decision. The main costs involved in the Iraq war are paid by those who have suffered death and injury, mostly Iraqis.

    Before the calculation even gets started, I deny that Bush et al the right to decide that people on the other side of the globe must sacrifice their lives for his cause, and that their loss is only to be considered as part of a gloriously rational balance sheet. For that matter, I deny you that right.

  69. avaroo
    March 31st, 2006 at 10:03 | #69

    “They are a bit quiter about it these days. ”

    Not so sure that’s true. The OFF scandal did at least shed some light on why some permanent council members were reluctant to enforce resoutions they voted for themselves. Some of the recent revelations about Russia tipping Saddam off about coalition plans haven’t helped Russia either. Schroeder goes to work for a Russian gas company? Come on. It looks like the French and Russians WERE Saddam’s friends in March 2003, at the very least they thought they could stop the coalition from taking on Saddam and apparently they convinced Saddam himself that they could stop it.

    It’s amusing that people comfortable at home in democracies think they get to decide if the “benefits” of removing a Saddam or a Kim Jong-Il for that matter are “worth” the costs. Of course, they aren’t bearing the brunt of living under such monsters. I’d imagine they’d find the benefits well worth the costs if they had to do so. Are we so far removed from living under such conditions that we have absolutely no conscience when it comes to others having to live that way?

  70. Warbo
    March 31st, 2006 at 10:36 | #70

    It’s amusing that people comfortable at home in democracies think they get to decide if the “benefits” of removing a Saddam or a Kim Jong-il for that matter are “worth” the costs.

    Yes, it is. I am very amused that you decided the “benefit” of removing Saddam was “worth” the costs that other people would have to pay.

  71. avaroo
    March 31st, 2006 at 10:49 | #71

    “Yes, it is. I am very amused that you decided the “benefitâ€? of removing Saddam was “worthâ€? the costs that other people would have to pay.”

    As I am amused that you decided that their lives weren’t worth the cost they would have to pay by remaining under Saddam. Why aren’t YOU living under a Saddam if it’s not so bad? How about trading places with some poor soul in North Korea? Not interested? What a suprise.

  72. March 31st, 2006 at 11:09 | #72

    PrQ,
    You are right that the question is a glib debating point and I withdraw.
    .
    Thanks, however, for rephrasing the questions the way you did to add in the likely costs. Given the likely costs and what was known at the time my answers for Saddam would still be No and Yes. You admit to have been wrong on the costs, but on the downside. I admit to have been wrong on the costs, but on the upside. The benefit, in getting rid of an aggressive dictator and threat to the surrounding countries, remains. Given hindsight, I was more wrong than you. Given what was publically known or believed before the war, I still believe the original decision was right – the fact it has been mucked up since is the pity, not the original decision.
    I would agree with you on Kim Jong Il, now he is likely to have nuclear weapons the cost/benefit analysis is now tipped strongly towards a non-military response. The real issue is what happens if the Kim regime believes it is threatened from any direction – would they use the bomb against their own people?
    .
    Katz,
    I have never accused the anti-war crowd of being traitors and several times have objected when that sort of accusation has been made.
    You can be a winner and grinner all you like, but a stopped clock is correct twice a day. That does not mean I will use it as a guide 24/7.

  73. avaroo
    March 31st, 2006 at 11:18 | #73

    “would they use the bomb against their own people”?

    Of course they would. They starve their own people by the millions.

  74. Katz
    March 31st, 2006 at 11:37 | #74

    “Given what was publically known or believed before the [Iraq] war, I still believe the original decision was right – the fact it has been mucked up since is the pity, not the original decision.”

    AR, surely you now see that your intellectual gyrations as quoted above are described by what I said in my earlier post:

    “In the years since the invasion, erstwhile proponents of invasion have either recanted or they have redefined their minimal victory conditions to conform in some way with the facts that now exist on the ground. Most of this adjustment of definitions of minimal victory conditions is driven by denial.”

    Specifically, you are implying that the US and the rest of the COW were capable of exerting greater force and/or exerting force more effectively to achieve some satisfactory solution.

    1. You haven’t explained where that military might and/or intelligence may have come from in the world as we know it.

    2. You haven’t explained what you mean by minimal acceptable victory conditions.

    Ergo: DENIAL DENIAL DENIAL.

    Despite all, I still believe that you are capable of better AR.

  75. March 31st, 2006 at 12:00 | #75

    Katz,
    If you can read that into what I have said then I also believe you are capable of better. I have not recented or redefined victory – or at least I cannot see where I have.
    There were, on the other hand, several decision taken after the defeat of the regime that were, with hindsight, wrong. These include disbanding the army, police and a wholesale de-Baathification of the government, effectively leaving the country without any real form of administration. This greatly increased the cost of administration and built the insurgency with former army and police personnel. Without that, it is easy (and, IMHO, correct) to argue that the current insurgency (or civil war – the difference is semantics) would not be where it is today.
    That does not mean that the original decision was incorrect, however.

  76. Katz
    March 31st, 2006 at 12:17 | #76

    AR,

    All of the following:

    “disbanding the army, police and a wholesale de-Baathification of the government, effectively leaving the country without any real form of administration”

    weren’t accidental or a mistake. They were an integral and essential part of the victory conditions, as defined by the Bush Clique, in the heady days of the neocon ascendancy.

    In other words, all you decent proponents of the war believed that it was being fought for an entirely different set of victory conditions than those that were being pursued by the Bush Clique.

    You decent proponents of the war saw a image of yourselves in Bush.

    You could be forgiven for this. You were tricked into this illusion.

    But by now you should see through the illusion. If you haven’t by now, then I pity you.

    As an opponent of the war, I correctly recognised that the Bush Clique had evolved some maximalist victory conditions. I correctly recognised that they would be incapable of achieving these maximalist victory conditions. And finally, I predicted correctly that any attempt to achieve these victory conditions would vitiate achievement of any worthwhile war aims.

    All you need to do AR is to correct your appreciation of the motives of the Bush Clique in invading Iraq. That is, you need to recognise that those actions you accurately list weren’t accidental; they were planned. After that, everything else follows.

  77. March 31st, 2006 at 12:24 | #77

    Katz,
    I am glad you knew ahead of time what was in Bush’s head. I just thought it was a series of errors.
    What is he going to do next?

  78. Warbo
    March 31st, 2006 at 12:34 | #78

    Why aren’t YOU living under a Saddam if it’s not so bad? How about trading places with some poor soul in North Korea? Not interested? What a suprise.

    As I’ve said nothing about life under Saddam being “not so bad”, I’d appreciate it if you’d stop putting words into my mouth.

    Tell me: do you plan on trading places with some poor soul in North Korea? No? Neither do I. Do you believe the US should march on Pyongyang in the near future? Probably not, in which case we’re in the same boat. And your point is…

  79. avaroo
    March 31st, 2006 at 12:39 | #79

    “As I’ve said nothing about life under Saddam being “not so badâ€?

    for THEM, not for you. You know quite well why YOU wouldn’t have wanted to live in Iraq under Saddam.

    “Tell me: do you plan on trading places with some poor soul in North Korea? No? Neither do I.”

    I didn’t think you would. Cause it’s ok for the North Korean people to have to put up with Kim, but not for you. THAT would be unreasonable.

    Face it, the benefits would well outweigh the costs, if it were you trying to stay alive in North Korea or Iraq.

  80. Katz
    March 31st, 2006 at 13:33 | #80

    “What is he going to do next?”

    AR this is what I said here on 7 December 2004:

    http://johnquiggin.com/index.php/archives/2004/12/07/bremers-last-gift/

    “The kicker is that once the Shia have taken control of the administration after the January 2005 elections they will be in a position to utterly dismantle US arrangements to derail popular sovereignty.

    “And my guess is that by the end of 2005 the Bush administration will accept virtually any illusion of success as a signal to withdraw from Iraq.

    “Sistani 1, Bush 0.

    “BTW Japanese oil interests have been playing a very subtle game sewing up concessions in Southern Iraq and also just across the border in Eastern Iran. This oil is probably going to flow not into the Arabian Gulf, but north through Russia to China, India and Japan.

    “China, Japan, Russia, India, Iran 1, US 0″

    It is now 31 March 2006. I see no reason to change my mind.

  81. Warbo
    March 31st, 2006 at 14:11 | #81

    for THEM, not for you.

    Oh for God’s sake! Yes, I did get the point you were trying to make: that by failing to support the invasion of Iraq I was condemning the Iraqis to a life of living hell under Saddam. It’s not an orginal point and it even has a nugget of validity.

    Please answer my question, though: do you believe the US should march on Pyongyang in the near future to relieve the suffering of the North Koreans?

  82. avaroo
    April 1st, 2006 at 05:38 | #82

    I believe that all people who think that North Koreans should not have to live lives of utter desperation, starving and dying in work camps, should get together and tell Kim Jong-il that he’s finished. Surely there are more people like us, who do not think that North Koreans are any more deserving of such treatment than we are, than there are people who think it’s ok for Kim Jong-il to kill thousands of people every year. No?

  83. Warbo
    April 1st, 2006 at 06:49 | #83

    I’m sure you’re right, avaroo, but I don’t think “get[ting] together and tell[ing] Kim Jong-il that he’s finished” is really likely to achieve anything. Nevertheless, it’s interesting that you seem to think there’s a course of action that’s preferable to direct military intervention.

    In other words, I hope you can appreciate that there are parallels between your attitude towards Kim and my attitude towards Saddam.

  84. avaroo
    April 1st, 2006 at 09:04 | #84

    “I’m sure you’re right, avaroo, but I don’t think “get[ting] together and tell[ing] Kim Jong-il that he’s finishedâ€? is really likely to achieve anything. ”

    So we just do nothing?

    “Nevertheless, it’s interesting that you seem to think there’s a course of action that’s preferable to direct military intervention.”

    Where did I say that? If those of us who believe that there’s nothing about North Koreans that makes them any less worthy of not living under a Kim Jong-il than the rest of us, tell Kim, either you leave or we’re taking you out, why wouldn’t that work? Do you think there aren’t enough of us who feel the same way as you and I do, that it would make a difference?

    “In other words, I hope you can appreciate that there are parallels between your attitude towards Kim and my attitude towards Saddam.”

    There is no appreciable difference between Saddam and Kim. They are(were) both monsters. And the people who believe that Iraqis deserve no less than we do should have gotten together and told Saddam “Enough”. Either you step down or we’re taking you out. Of course, many of us who believe that Iraqis are worthy of living the same kind of lives we enjoy, DID do exactly that. But some people who SAY they believe that Iraqis are worthy of living lives in freedom as we do, refused to tell Saddam that, making their claims that they believe as we do, rather unconvincing, shall we say?

    Hopefully, you recognize that EVERYONE has to be on the same page in order for this to work. It’s no longer acceptable for some people to mouth platitudes about how the Iraqi or Korean people are worthy of living better lives while refusing to put their actions where their mouths are.

  85. Hal9000
    April 1st, 2006 at 10:02 | #85

    Avaroo, working for politicians I soon learnt that letters with lots of capital letters in them were from folk with, how shall I put this delicately – reality connection difficulties. It’s the equivalent of shouting all the time.

    Your feigned concern for the welfare of Iraqi citizens lends little weight to your bellowed arguments. A great number of Iraqis enjoy now the freedom of the grave, who might otherwise be leading relatively happy lives. US military tactics have from the outset involved disproportionate force in circumstances where widespread civilian casualties were inevitable- showing that in both the morality and the hearts and minds businesses nothing has been learnt from the Vietnam conflict.

    The US supports tyrannies throughout the world, and happily topples democratically elected governments wherever those governments’ policies conflict with US commercial or political interests – most recently in Haiti, but the list is long and well known. Among the numerous tyrants who have basked under US support was Saddam Hussein – and there he would still be basking had he not foolishly challenged US interests in 1990. If you have concern for the oppressed of the world much could be done without warfare merely by withdrawing US support for the governments of Guatemala and Colombia, to mention two close at hand. I could be wrong, but I doubt you have been seen in recent demonstrations outside the White House demanding an end to US support for death squad regimes in those two benighted tyrannies.

    So my suggestions are: 1. stop shouting. 2. remove the log jam of planks from your own eye before yelling about the motes in the moral universes of those who oppose the initiation of the disaster unfolding in Iraq.

  86. April 1st, 2006 at 11:26 | #86

    avaroo,
    While the Chinese (another group of monsters, just not as bad as they were under Mao) continue to support Kim Jong Il we either have to accept his continued rule or accept war against the Chinese. No other options, I am afraid. The Chinese regime will not want the collapse of the DPRK either.
    .
    Katz,
    Interesting that you said “…by the end of 2005…”. It is now 1 April and no withdrawal in sight. Given you analysis of the subject, when will it happen?

  87. April 1st, 2006 at 11:29 | #87

    Perhaps I should also ask, and this is the real question that CL and I should have put above, given that you believe that invasion of Iraq was not the answer, what would have been?
    Simply saying “not invading” is not an answer to this – I am looking for a positive response. If you can provide one on Kim Jong Il then you will get two marks.
    Somehow I think I will get a negative or sarcastic response.

  88. Hal9000
    April 1st, 2006 at 12:21 | #88

    “given that you believe that invasion of Iraq was not the answer, what would have been”

    What was the question? I thought it was supposed to have been Hussein threatening the US with nuclear weapons. In which case, the answer quite clearly was “nothing”.

  89. jquiggin
    April 1st, 2006 at 16:07 | #89

    AR, I’m happy to answer with a few points

    (1) With the military capacity diverted to preparations for Iraq, do the job properly in Afghanistan including capturing/killing OBL and Mullah Omar.

    (2) Use most of the trillion dollars (low estimate) the war is going to cost over the next ten years to end world poverty, following the Sachs plan and save millions of lives

    (3) Use $100 billion or so to buy friends in the Middle East, offering lavish aid to any regime willing to undertake democratic reforms, give Abbas enough money that he would have been able to fend off Hamas, etc.

    (4) On Iraq, stick with the policy ostensibly* pursued until Feb 03. The logical continuation would have been more inspections, running, say, through 2003. At the end of that time, a modified sanctions regime would have to be put in place.

  90. Katz
    April 1st, 2006 at 19:58 | #90

    “Katz,
    Interesting that you said “…by the end of 2005…â€?. It is now 1 April and no withdrawal in sight. Given you analysis of the subject, when will it happen?”

    AR, the qualifier for my above statement was “any illusion of success”.

    Bush has failed even to achieve an illusion.

    The Chimp is still waiting for that illusion.

    QED.

  91. April 1st, 2006 at 21:53 | #91

    PrQ,
    1, 2 & 3 are all hindsight, so can be discounted. 4 is the one that I take it you were advocating at the time – in essence, more of the same. While the AWB shareholders may have liked this idea (ok, that is hindsight, on my part, too), I do not think that a continuation of the sanctions regime is / was a valid answer – after 10 years it was not working, Saddam was just as much in power and still spending lavishly on palaces while his people were starving, the Marsh Arabs were being destroyed and the Kurds squabbling amongst themselves while Turkey was periodically invading.

    How would you say the stalemate that had plainly been reached have been broken? I take it you did not / do not believe that the sanctions should have been removed or even substantially lessened.

  92. jquiggin
    April 2nd, 2006 at 08:04 | #92

    AR, these arguments are not hindsight. I made them all at the time the war started, Here’s the opportunity cost argument from May 2003, and I was putting it in various forms before that. And here, again from 2003, is Afghanistan.

    In any case, you can’t evade the issue like this unless you contend that no-one could reasonably have made these arguments at the time. “Hindsight” suggests I’m relying on new information which (apart from the fact that the war is even more costly than I expected) I’m not doing.

  93. avaroo
    April 2nd, 2006 at 08:53 | #93

    Andrew,

    Even in China, which is changing rapidly, there are many people who feel like some of us do, that North Koreans shouldn’t have to live the way they do. Personally, I doubt that China would go to war to protect Kim Jong-il. My suggestion with the Chinese would be to tell them, either you take him out or we will.

    I agree with you that the status quo was unacceptable for Iraq. Clearly, years of inspections and further sanctions were not the answer for anyone, especially not for the Iraqi people. I cannot figure out why the fans of containment haven’t woken up to the fact that it never works.

  94. Majorajam
    April 2nd, 2006 at 09:45 | #94

    Andrew Reynolds- bear it in mind, Saddam Hussein is hardly the only tin pot dictator to come and go. Neither is he the only one to have access to WMD, nor the only one to have used it against his neighbors, nor the only one threatening to American interests. Gamal Abdel Nasser was all of these as well. Should we have removed him? Were Eisenhower and Kennedy, et al callous to the liberty loving Egyptians’ fate by not doing so?

    Btw, as to those unfortunate consequences which were not foreseen in the invasion of Iraq, it is difficult to divine foresight when you simply don’t give a damn. The hapless COW (hapless or nefarious, but nonetheless negligent) surely did not. Of interest, they never once requested a strategic level assessment of their plans for the Middle East. Odd that, wouldn’t you say? Perhaps they were worried they might get the wrong answer (for more on this consideration, see their War on Science). If nothing else, that fear was justified, because had they, they would’ve been told in no uncertain terms that civil war was a highly probable eventuality of their crusade.

    But information has an upside too. A strategic assessment would’ve informed them of some of the policies likely to tip the scales in favor of their deisred outcome (here’s a guess: allowing vast stores of weapons to up and disappear- including previously sealed nuclear material- all as anarchy is allowed to take root, was probably not one of them. Nor was privatizing everything. Nor was attempting to instal a thinly veiled Pentagon lackey as head of state, and so on). Here’s the link if you’re interested.

    The administration used intelligence not to inform decision-making, but to justify a decision already made. It went to war without requesting — and evidently without being influenced by — any strategic-level intelligence assessments on any aspect of Iraq. (The military made extensive use of intelligence in its war planning, although much of it was of a more tactical nature.) Congress, not the administration, asked for the now-infamous October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iraq’s unconventional weapons programs, although few members of Congress actually read it. (According to several congressional aides responsible for safeguarding the classified material, no more than six senators and only a handful of House members got beyond the five-page executive summary.) As the national intelligence officer for the Middle East, I was in charge of coordinating all of the intelligence community’s assessments regarding Iraq; the first request I received from any administration policymaker for any such assessment was not until a year into the war.

    So forgive me if I have little time for people who would ponder the virtues of democracy by assault rifle without taking account of the silliness of its practice. Grown ups like Kennedy and Eisenhower wouldn’t have seriously considered an invasion of Iraq- it’s only the foolish morally compromised current variety that charge in where wise men fear to tread.

  95. avaroo
    April 2nd, 2006 at 09:59 | #95

    Since we cannot get rid of EVERY tin pot dictator, why get rid of any of them?

    Since we cannot feed every starving child, why feed any of them?

    Since we cannot cure every case of cancer, why cure any of them?

    Makes very little sense.

  96. Hal9000
    April 2nd, 2006 at 11:05 | #96

    “I cannot figure out why the fans of containment haven’t woken up to the fact that it never works.”

    Libya and South Africa – and arguably China – are but two of the more recent success stories for the strategy that ‘never works’.

    It is true, however, that the ‘never works’ line is invariably employed to dismiss containment/sanctions strategies by those who oppose them for other, concealed, reasons. The long period of opposition by western governments to sanctions against South Africa was a case in point. You’ll find, though, that the very same people who use ‘never works’ to justify military adventures will support containment and sanctions elsewhere, eg Cuba.

    In truth, military solutions appeal to those requiring instant gratification of their desires, but usually create as many problems as are solved. For instance, North Korea’s acquisition of nuclear weapons is surely a rational response to the increasing military adventurism of the US, which maintains substantial troop numbers and nuclear arsenal on the Korean peninsula. Simillarly Iran, with US troops along most of its land borders and a nuclear armed and adventurous Israel and nuclear armed Sunni Pakistan well within striking distance, would be silly if they didn’t consider acquisition of nukes. The point is, if you keep yourself armed to the teeth and adopt a posture of preventive warfare, all nations outside the imperial umbrella are going to assume their security depends on making the fantastic investments required to acquire nuclear weapons. How is this going to make the world more secure?

    Specifically:

    “Since we cannot get rid of EVERY tin pot dictator, why get rid of any of them?”

    If by ‘get rid of’ you mean invade/occupy, how about keeping to the UN convention – only attack a nation who actually threatens you, or who you can convince the Security Council needs to be attacked.

    “Since we cannot feed every starving child, why feed any of them?”

    We could indeed feed all of them with the money being squandered on death, terror and maiming in Iraq. It seems to me you need to have a pretty good rationale why this represents a fair trade.

    “Since we cannot cure every case of cancer, why cure any of them?

    Makes very little sense.”

    Comparing the atrocity of warfare with saving the lives of cancer patients does, as you say, make very little sense.

  97. avaroo
    April 2nd, 2006 at 11:23 | #97

    How amusing to see China and Libya described as “success stories”. South Africa contained? Someone is hitting the crack pipe pretty heavy tonight.

    I think it’s a really fine idea to have to convince the security council, some of whom do not allow their own people to live in freedom, that others should be allowed to do so.

  98. Hal9000
    April 2nd, 2006 at 11:47 | #98

    “Someone is hitting the crack pipe pretty heavy tonight.”

    I think you’ll find people will listen to your arguments more if you avoid cheap personal abuse. On the other hand, if I were running them I’d keep up the abuse as a distraction from their weakness. Up to you.

    Libya has indeed been described as a success story by your own George W. And China is, by your lights, unimproved since the days of the Cultural Revolution? Containment of South Africa happened longer ago than the day before yesterday, so you probably won’t read about it in the US media. Of course none of these compares with the model success story that is Iraq today, where there is freedom, rule of law etc etc.

    The circumstances under which a state can legitimately take unilateral military action are that it is under attack, or is in real imminent danger of attack (ie troops massing on border or missile launched) or that the security council agrees. Whether the permanent 5 have Jeffersonian democracy is completely irrelevant to their judgement about whether military force is justified. It may not be perfect, but at least it is a system and at least it deters military adventurism. The alternative is international vigilantism. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the Wild West as portrayed in Hollywood films, but it doesn’t look to me like a system designed to deliver security to citizens.

  99. avaroo
    April 2nd, 2006 at 12:06 | #99

    “Libya has indeed been described as a success story by your own George W. ”

    Because Khaddaffi was contained or because he saw what happened to Saddam and decided not to suffer the same fate? uh, the answer is b).

    “And China is”

    run by a dictatorship that does not permit its citizens freedom. Is this news to you?

    “Containment of South Africa happened longer ago than the day before yesterday”

    South Africa didn’t suffer sanctions because anyone wanted to contain it. It suffered sanctions because of its apartheid system.

    “Of course none of these compares with the model success story that is Iraq today, where there is freedom, rule of law”

    compared to when Saddam was there and there was freedom, rule of law?

    “The circumstances under which a state can legitimately take unilateral military action are that it is under attack, or is in real imminent danger of attack (ie troops massing on border or missile launched) or that the security council agrees.”

    So the British and US attack on Nazi Germany was illegitimate?

    You can wait until the missile has been launched at you if you want. Sorry, that’s not a smart move as far as I’m concerned.

    “Whether the permanent 5 have Jeffersonian democracy is completely irrelevant to their judgement about whether military force is justified.”

    only if you’re back on that crack pipe.

    “It may not be perfect, but at least it is a system and at least it deters military adventurism.”

    What military adventurism has it ever deterred?

  100. avaroo
    April 2nd, 2006 at 12:09 | #100

    Let me ask you this Hal. What action could any dictator take against his own people that would induce China to agree to military action against said dictator?

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