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Administration Says It Can Attack Iraq without Congressional Approval
August 26, 2002 7:16 AM   Subscribe

Administration Says It Can Attack Iraq without Congressional Approval Not a new story, per se, but this Post article lays out pretty well the arguments behind the administration's case, one being simply Bush's role as commander-in-chief. It's strange how closely this issue reflects earlier attempts by the administration to avoid Congressional and/or public scrutiny (Cheney's Enron meetings, for example). Why this aversion, and why fight so hard? And I have a sneaking fear that Bush will seek Congressional approval only after invading, and he will bully votes by claiming that reps have a patriotic duty to support a president in a time of war.
posted by risenc (65 comments total)

 
You can't blame President Bush for wanting an all-out war with Iraq. His poll numbers have gone soft since 9.11 and with all the Enron-esque business scandals, the GOP candidates are vulnerable in the fall elections. Heck, Bush just went to California to stump for a gubenatorial candidate he barely acknowledged because the man's business just got hit with a $70+ million fraud verdict.

Attack Iraq, win back Congress. You'd do the same, if you could. Sure, American soldiers will die, but it's smart politics.
posted by sacre_bleu at 7:32 AM on August 26, 2002


He's not doing anything that presidents haven't been doing for years. I think the last prez to get congressional approval before going to war was, what, FDR?

And, scare_bleu, while I understand your point, and do feel that waging a war for pure political reasons is absolute bunk (I also happen to feel that we have plenty of NON-political reasons to wage war in Iraq)... I get tired of "American soldiers will die" arguments.

They are soldiers. When they sign on the dotted line, they give up their right to life, and affirm that they are willing to be mowed down without hope of survival should anyone with a bit of metal on his uniform prettier than theirs say so. In wartime, a soldier is a tool, and a completely disposable one, if need be.

Our obsession with "Oh no, we can't let American soldiers die", which was really made known globally after the way we retreated from Somalia with our tails between out collective legs, has let every third world tin Hitler know that all you have to do is kill a couple Americans and we'll go home. We've lost alot of credibility in the international sphere since then.

Soldiers die. They accept that when they sign up, and if they didn't think about it at the time, hooie on them.
posted by jammer at 7:42 AM on August 26, 2002


Well, Congress did say George Bush could attack Iraq; maybe they should've been more specific about which George Bush.
The power to declare war, including the power of judging the causes of war, is fully and exclusively vested in the legislature...the executive has no right, in any case, to decide the question, whether there is or is not cause for declaring war. -- James Madison
The constitution vests the power of declaring war in Congress; therefore no offensive expedition of importance can be undertaken until after they shall have deliberated upon the subject and authorized such a measure. -- George Washington
Considering that Congress alone is constitutionally invested with the power of changing our condition from peace to war, I have thought it my duty to await their authority for using force in any degree which could be avoided. -- Thomas Jefferson
[Source for quotes]
This is going to be the best war ever!
posted by kirkaracha at 7:44 AM on August 26, 2002


sacre_bleu - I agree. Personally, I haven't decided whether or not attacking Iraq is legitimately justified in the name of [non-commercial] American interests. However -- my prediction: the US will in fact invade Iraq, but it will begin to do so late in this administration's term. Bush Jr. will surely have learned from his father's mistakes: if the administration is going to go to war, the US's successes in and justification for its military force must be fresh in the public's mind to benefit the administration politically.
posted by SilentSalamander at 7:46 AM on August 26, 2002


Jammer: That's the problem, I think. Americans are willing to accept dead soldiers, but after Vietnam they have a high threshold for what constitutes a viable reason for those deaths. The Bush administration is afraid that it doesn't have a sufficient rationale to pull off a Congressional debate on an invasion, and so is trying to avoid it altogether, knowing that in the short term its numbers will jump as people rally behind the wartime president. But what happens down the road, after four years, when we're still there fighting/peacekeeping? The public will turn quickly if it feels it had no say in the original decision. Bush is shooting himself in the foot, I think.
posted by risenc at 7:47 AM on August 26, 2002


no offensive expedition of importance can be undertaken

Nice wording, that.

If there were any strength left in the structure of our government, which there is not, Bush would be impeached when he does this.
posted by rushmc at 7:48 AM on August 26, 2002


here's whats gonna happen:

bush will continue to appear on the world news threatening to usurp saddam (can you imagine if any other country tried to pull some "regime change" nonesense on any other country? we'd condemn the hell out of them!) while the rest of the world checks it's watch, waiting. eventually, saddam will get tired of being threatened every 20 minutes and do something drastic, at which point the war party will turn around and say, "see! we told you so! that was COMPLETELY unprovoked!"
posted by mcsweetie at 7:56 AM on August 26, 2002


"If there were any strength left in the structure of our government, which there is not..."

Hyperbolic much? The problem isn't the structure of our government or the "strength" behind it. It's that there is political and popular support for doing just the thing Bush wants to do. The fact that you and I don't agree with it doesn't mean the structure is unsound.
posted by pardonyou? at 7:58 AM on August 26, 2002


It's that there is political and popular support for doing just the thing Bush wants to do.

If that is the case, then it should be no problem for him to do it legally and get Congress to declare war.
posted by rushmc at 8:01 AM on August 26, 2002


If you don't need to count votes to be president, why the hell would you need to ask congress for permission to fight war? If we were going to have a dicatator - this guy would have been much more fun.
posted by owillis at 8:01 AM on August 26, 2002


So according to the Bush administration, the role of Congress in war is to merely advise the executive or--in extremis--refuse to grant the money necessary to continue the war? Sounds like Constitutional Monarchy is back in fashion this fall.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:04 AM on August 26, 2002


House Joint Resolution 64: Passed the House 420-1. September 14, 2001.
Senate Joint Resolution 23: Passed the Senate 98-0. September 14, 2001.

"...Whereas the President has authority under the Constitution to take action to deter and prevent acts of international terrorism against the United States....

SECTION 2. AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES

(a) That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.


(*cough*)
posted by revbrian at 8:07 AM on August 26, 2002


They are soldiers. When they sign on the dotted line, they give up their right to life, and affirm that they are willing to be mowed down without hope of survival should anyone with a bit of metal on his uniform prettier than theirs say so. In wartime, a soldier is a tool, and a completely disposable one, if need be.

Jammer, it's unbelievable to me that you would show such contempt for people who risk their lives for your rights and your personal comfort, who are after all acting as your surrogate so you don't have to put your precious ass in jeopardy. Let me tell you something about the motivation of soldiers and airman, since you are desperately misinformed. We don't sign up to throw our lives away for cheap political advantage for some politician, but we do volunteer to risk our lives in defense of ideals that we believe are greater than ourselves. Is there anything that you believe in that strongly?

Have you ever noticed that it's primarily civilians who promote the "hey, it's their job to get killed" philosophy? Meanwhile, if a journalist gets his pinky bruised on the battlefield, it's an instant atrocity.
posted by norm29 at 8:10 AM on August 26, 2002


*cough*

Where exactly is that Hussein - Al Qaeda link again? Oh right it doesn't exist.

Does it say something that a president is so afraid to have congress vote on authorizing force?

Anyone remember what happened to the last King George?
I'm just sayin'.
"Hey, who's at the door? Ash-croft you say?"

posted by owillis at 8:10 AM on August 26, 2002


Kinky Sex Makes the World Go Round needs to be adapted.
posted by Ufez Jones at 8:15 AM on August 26, 2002


Good lookin' out, Ufez.
posted by adampsyche at 8:31 AM on August 26, 2002


Come on now Owillis. The he determines part doesn't require a whole lot a proof now does it?

I think Bush should, and will, get authorization from Congress. I don't think he needs to though, given the wording of that resolution.
posted by revbrian at 8:34 AM on August 26, 2002


Administration says "Up" is "Down".
posted by alms at 8:36 AM on August 26, 2002


The he determines part doesn't require a whole lot a proof now does it?

Well, seeing as Bush couldn't determine his arse from his elbow, sadly not.
posted by riviera at 8:38 AM on August 26, 2002


Will someone remind me of exactly what it is that makes the United States of America qualify as a democracy? Seriously. I would think that two criteria for being a democracy are:
  1. free and fair elections, and;
  2. a leader who is responsible to the elected representatives of the people
USA: 0 for 2.
posted by Fabulon7 at 8:39 AM on August 26, 2002


Bush may feel this is hard for him to loose. By pushing off any action past November, he insulates himself from criticism about using force to directly influence the elections. However, if he plays his cards right, he might/will use the issue of Iraq to help boost some critical seats that need to be won. If the election assures Bush a comfortable vote, then he will take his task triumphantly to the Congress. Otherwise, he will take his task triumphantly to the people and pray the bounce from using force will last until his reelection time.

After that the real betting starts going on. Are there going to be bodies coming back? How far can the pro-Bush factions in the military suppress the details of any problems (I am talking at the top: leaks, that sort of thing)? If the bodies don't come back then Bush fulfilled his father's mission. If the bodies do come back then G.W.B. can't loose either, he simply reverts to the thinking that has gotten him through his entire life: "It's going to be someone else's problem because someone else cleans up all my messes--they can't make the president responsible for everything, can they? It's not fair!"
posted by Tystnaden at 8:46 AM on August 26, 2002


Fabulon7: Oh please. Gore lost, get over it.
posted by Witty at 8:56 AM on August 26, 2002


There's a long lost of countries whose money and citizens have actually killed Americans in terrorist acts, headlined by the American oil establishment's best friend, Saudi Arabia.

Iraq? Not in the top ten. That Iraq could commit acts of terror against Americans in the future sometime puts it in a club that is not terrible exclusive.

Doesn't seem like enough reason to start a war with them, not to me. But hey, no one elected me president.

Aw, what the hell. If it fattens defense contractors and gets Republicans elected, how can that be a bad thing?
posted by sacre_bleu at 9:02 AM on August 26, 2002


Tystnaden makes a decent point, which can be seen from the other side: if I were a Republican in Congress right now, I'd be happy to let Bush take sole responsibility for leading the USA into war. If things go well, they'll get the benefits; if they don't, they can pin out Dubya to dry. Same goes (to some extent) for the Democrats: it's smart politics to talk about Congressional authorisation and yet allow Bush to go it alone.
posted by riviera at 9:02 AM on August 26, 2002


jammer: I am amazed that you consider American soldiers "tools" that are eager to die. That's incredibly disrespectful to all the men and women who risk their lives to ensure our freedom. It's quite obvious you have never lost a loved one to a foreign enemy and you're not in danger of it now. I fail to see how retreating from Somalia turned us into cowards...did American history begin in 1990? We stayed in Vietnam for over ten years and lost 58,000 lives. I think most people can look back and agree it was not worth it. Perhaps that is what makes us hesitant to send our soldiers overseas now? Those of us who care about their lives, I mean.
posted by Zulujines at 9:07 AM on August 26, 2002


What the news suggests is that Bush and his lawyers believe he has the powers to make war without approval. This is but their point of view and might in fact be contested (unlikely of course).

Though I am all for getting rid of Saddam and do believe he is a menace I am only willing to support a war declared by a vote of approval by our Congress. Let the record show who favors and does not favor a war.

We have for too long sent troops to fight and die in actions that have not been legally declared as wars--I was in one, referred to as a police action.

If we were attacked by an enemy nation (not a group of terrorists) then the president should in fact strike back and ask (as did FDR) for a declaration of war.

If we are no longer to bother with declaring war and getting congressional approval, then just what is the role of Congress to be in foreign affairs?
posted by Postroad at 9:10 AM on August 26, 2002


Tut...tut...tut You children behave now...
http://www.metafilter.com/mefi/19281#325255

"with all due respect your ax-grinding is getting tiresome. People are asking you to get your own blog because you're posting too much, and every post is personalized and colored by your viewpoint. These types of posts are more at home on a personal blog. You're quickly becoming a one-trick pony, taking on the persona of the rabid left wing guy "

I thought personalization and color was a good thing!!
This is me with no response to the post and comments above. :)
posted by nofundy at 9:20 AM on August 26, 2002


I'm a bit amazed that the Bush Administration would make a big deal out of this. The Consitutional issue, as others have pointed out, has been de facto settled for a while now- other presidents have done it, so the precendent has been set. So why the public move?

The only reason for making this stand is that you anticipate Congress being against you (which is likely). If pubic opinion were strongly in favor of invasion (which it's not- polls show waning support), then Bush could position himself as being a strong leader with a moral sensibility. But, given the current climate, I'm totally baffled that he's flipping the bird to Congress.
posted by mkultra at 9:20 AM on August 26, 2002


The Consitutional issue, as others have pointed out, has been de facto settled for a while now- other presidents have done it, so the precendent has been set.

How many times, exactly, does the law have to be broken before it becomes moot? I'll be sure to use that defense the next time I get a speeding ticket.
posted by rushmc at 9:26 AM on August 26, 2002


zulujines/norm29... I hesitate to respond, as I didn't intend to derail the thread, but I might as well since I made the original comment. I have nothing but the highest respect for the men (and women) who join the armed forces to defend something they hold dear. (I also suspect alot of people in the military didn't join for that reason... they joined because of GI college loans, or to avoid being thrown in prison, or for some other reason, but that's neither here nor there). Being able to risk my life for something I believe in is something I hope I have the moral fiber to do, should it ever be necessary.

And I would definitely oppose the frivolous waste of American lives. Throwing soldiers into a meat grinder just because it seems to one lunatic to make good sense is wrong, no two ways about it.

But the "but... but... but American boys will die!" argument that comes up in opposition any time anyone even thinks about using military force somewhere in the world is a straw man, and no more. As I said, I don't support "wasting" those lives, but they are there to use if need be. If the cause is something we believe in, we need to accept the fact that, yes, American boys will die; but by god each one who falls will probably take 10 of the enemy with him. Military decisions should be made based upon a projection of the number of soldiers who will die, versus the gains to be made; not simply the fact that people will die, period.

That's all I meant. No disrespect to the armed forces. You folks go through hell, and deserve every little thing you get in return, and much more, in my book.
posted by jammer at 9:29 AM on August 26, 2002


Fabulon7 - the US is not a democracy - never has been. It's a republic.
posted by thinkdink at 9:30 AM on August 26, 2002


thinkdink: Explain that to its 250,000,000 citizens.
posted by Fabulon7 at 9:35 AM on August 26, 2002


If the USA doesn't consider itself a democracy, what's with all this jibba jabba about making the world "Safe For Democracy" and about being the "Greatest Democracy On Earth"?
posted by Fabulon7 at 9:46 AM on August 26, 2002


Fabulon7: Well, only 249,999,999 citizens, since I've always understood the US was *based* upon democratic ideals, but in practice is a republic.
Well, make that 249,999,995 citizens, since my wife knows that, too.. and I've told my kids.
posted by rich at 9:49 AM on August 26, 2002


thinkdink, you're wrong, and no offense, but a line like that, being associated with radical right-wing lunatics like Limbaugh, can very easily associate you with people who shouldn't ever be listened to again.

The U.S. is a Democracy, just not a direct one. We live in a Constitutional Republic, which is a type of Democracy. Every aspect of the government, executive, judicial, and legislative, obtains power through an electoral process of majority rule. (Well, technically, as Fabulon pointed out.)

Again, no offense, but the whole "the U.S. isn't a democracy" line is some cutesy bullshit conservative pundits made up to make themselves feel smart and good about themselves, and to try and make fun of people who use the concept of democracy as a tool against those trying to disrupt the will of the general American populace. In reality, people who say the line usually just look like complete assholes.


[/off-topic]
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:50 AM on August 26, 2002


You know what, while I'm here, I'd like to point out the irony of someone saying the line "Gore lost, get over it" with the name of "Witty." I'm done for now. Honest.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:51 AM on August 26, 2002


rushmc- How many times, exactly, does the law have to be broken before it becomes moot? I'll be sure to use that defense the next time I get a speeding ticket.

There's no law that says the President can or can't do it. The Constitution only says that Congress is solely responsible for declaring war. The extent to which the President can undertake military action without Congressional approval is not legally documented anywhere.

Congress has, historically, simply not acted against the President when this has happened. If it ever does, I assume it goes to the Supreme Court for resolution. Perhaps this is the conflict Bush is trying, pre-emptively, to head off.
posted by mkultra at 9:59 AM on August 26, 2002


XQUZYPHYR: Cute.
posted by Witty at 10:01 AM on August 26, 2002


The theory of "it's easier to ask for forgiveness than permission" is good for borrowing a co-workers pen. Not good for going to war.
posted by alou73 at 10:21 AM on August 26, 2002


Ah, but the maxim "To ask permission is to seek denial" fits like a glove ;)
posted by mkultra at 10:36 AM on August 26, 2002


If it ever does, I assume it goes to the Supreme Court for resolution. Perhaps this is the conflict Bush is trying, pre-emptively, to head off.

Or perhaps to trigger, to establish the legality once and for all while he has a pet SCOTUS.
posted by rushmc at 10:54 AM on August 26, 2002


Actually, political commentators of all stripes like to use the imagery of The Republic in support of their ideals....
posted by cardboard at 10:58 AM on August 26, 2002


Hey, XQ, your statement: "The U.S. is a Democracy, just not a direct one. We live in a Constitutional Republic, which is a type of Democracy. Every aspect of the government, executive, judicial, and legislative, obtains power through an electoral process of majority rule." sounds an awful lot like this one: "The U.S. is a democracy -- just not a direct one. Every branch of our government -- executive, legislative, judicial, monetary -- ultimately derives its power from majority rule or approval." Weird, huh? You might want to shoot 'em an e-mail for plagarizing your work.

Anyway, I would disagree that the judicial branch is particularly close to "deriving its power through an electoral process of majority rule." Federal judges are appointed by the president and confirmed by congress. Once so appointed they have the job for life (barring impeachment). Not exactly pure democracy.

Regardless, I think the point thinkdink was trying to make is that the U.S. is not a pure democracy, but rather has a republican form of democracy (which is absolutely true). That's not "right wing" code, that's just fact.
posted by pardonyou? at 11:09 AM on August 26, 2002


Where exactly is that Hussein - Al Qaeda link again? Oh right it doesn't exist.

Are you saying that pre-emptive wars are wrong? We're worried about what Saddam is going to do if we let him just sit there putting nukes together in his basement. Rhetoric aside, it's not that we're punishing him for 9/11.
posted by callmejay at 11:18 AM on August 26, 2002


Thank you, padonyou? - exactly. I have NEVER been right-wing in my thinking.

If it were a true democracy - if every voice were truly represented - I wonder if we'd be considering war right now. Yes there are a lot of people with a "let's kick some terrorist ass" enthusiasm going on right now. There's also a lot of people who think that going after Iraq isn't going to do a damn thing to protect our freedoms.

With the way things are set up - there is no way for an completely accurate picture or poll of the American people and what they want. We won't know 100% either way. I just have to find some faith in Dubyah - I hope to God* (*or other diety here) that he doesn't lead us into a mistake - that someone wise is advising him.

There is not a true democracy here. I'm not sure that it could work if there was. But, I gotta say, it is scary trusting my representatives to represent me sometimes.
posted by thinkdink at 11:23 AM on August 26, 2002


It's nice to see active political conversation taking place somewhere, lord knows it doesn't happen often these days. I particularly like the pieces about democracy vs democratic republic. I hope that you guys talk to your kids about this sort of thing.

My take on the original post, that GWB does not need congressional authorization to wage preemptive war against Iraq?

I think that it's bullshit.

The constitution is clear on this one. As mentioned earlier, the fact that this law has been broken before does not excuse breaking it again. It would seem, in fact, that given historical perspective of what happens when a sitting president decides to ignore the law (think Vietnam, among others) it would be a no brainer for GWB.

This is not the time to be preemptively attacking anyone. GWB and his administration have squandered fifty years' worth of international goodwill in 18 months in office, an unprovoked attack on another third world muslim country will not make the US (or the world in general) a safe place to live. Killing innocent people generally does not win friends.
posted by jack-o at 11:47 AM on August 26, 2002


"Administration Says It Can Attack Iraq without Congressional Approval"

Administrator! Please Hope Me!
posted by ZachsMind at 11:50 AM on August 26, 2002


*cough* isn't it interesting that the White House is stacked with advisors who defied a congessional ban on funding central american terrorists during the Reagan Administration?

If this Administration had a movie title it would be "Tricky Dick III, The Next Generation"

Are you saying that pre-emptive wars are wrong? We're worried about what Saddam is going to do if we let him just sit there putting nukes together in his basement. Rhetoric aside, it's not that we're punishing him for 9/11.

Pre-emptive wars have frequently been regarded as dubious acts in history. After all, the logic of preemtive defense was used to justify Pearl Harbor, the annexation of surrounding states by the Soviet Union, and more recently the illegal bombing of Laos during Vietnam. This certianly would not be the first time the U.S. used a terrorist attack as a pretext to expand the empire. After all, that was how we initally got Cuba.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:51 AM on August 26, 2002


jammer: I respect that. Thanks.
posted by Zulujines at 12:01 PM on August 26, 2002


Are you saying that pre-emptive wars are wrong?
Depends on why we're fighting them.

We're worried about what Saddam is going to do if we let him just sit there putting nukes together in his basement.
How come we didn't really care much before Osama disappeared? None of the 10 billion satellite spy photos and air sorties over Iraq revealed this info? Color me suspicious.
posted by owillis at 12:07 PM on August 26, 2002


Irony: Bush is willing to consign thousands of young men to death, yet is anti-abortion.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:17 PM on August 26, 2002


As I understand it the US is a Democratic Republic. The 2000 election made that clear. We don't vote for a president directly, we vote for Electoral College delegates. When the college convenes the delegates could vote for anyone they choose. If you remember, there was some question about whether the delegates were going to cast votes for Bush or try to correct the situation by voting for Gore. Bush is not president because he won the majority of the popular vote, he did not. He is president because he got the most electoral votes.

Some interesting notes from The League of Women Voters:

Under the Constitution, each state is authorized to choose electors for president and vice president, the number always being the same as the combined number of U.S. senators and representatives allotted to that state. With 100 senators and 435 representatives in the United States, plus three electors for the District of Columbia provided by the Twenty-third Amendment, the total electoral college vote is 538.

Providing that the president be chosen indirectly through the "electoral college" rather than directly
by the voters in November was one of the founders' hedges against "popular passion."


When voters vote for president, they are actually voting for the electors pledged to their presidential candidate.

Now imagine a struggling democracy having an election and that election is altered by loyal political party members who get the final say. Jimmy Carter would not certify that election. I'm not saying it's right or wrong, it just is.
posted by whatever at 12:24 PM on August 26, 2002


five fresh: This to me is the primary reason that bush should make a case to the american people. If he is so damn committed to life, then the decision to end it should be momentous to him. where's the outrage over the leaks and sunday paper quarterbacking?
posted by tellmenow at 12:54 PM on August 26, 2002


I haven't reached the end of th thread yet, but this made me laugh:
"The rebels are but mewling kittens who shall taste blood instead of milk," said Clinton, threatening to deploy HUAID-controlled nuclear weapons against members of resistance movements. "The holy power of the atom shall, if it must, cleanse this nation of all infidels." god bless Americlintonia and the onion.
thanks owillis
posted by elwoodwiles at 1:09 PM on August 26, 2002


even more evidence (for those of you who slept through history class, like me) the founders weren't big on direct democracy. section 1.3 of the u.s. constitution states:
The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof, (See Note 3) for six Years; and each Senator shall have one Vote.
this was nullified by the 17th amendment, which granted direct election of senators.
posted by lescour at 2:21 PM on August 26, 2002


Are you saying that pre-emptive wars are wrong?

All wars are failures. "Pre-emptive wars" is Newspeak for "we'll do whatever we want in our own interests."
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 2:25 PM on August 26, 2002


All wars are failures.

Yes, no doubt the citizens of England, France (and the rest of Europe if not the world) would have been much better off under Nazi rule.

Granted, in a Pollyanna-ish view of the world all conflicts would be resolved by negotiation and non-violent strategies. Unfortunately, the fact that there are people in the world like Adolph Hitler or Osama bin Laden -- people who aren't responsive to anything but of armed conflict -- kind of messes up that weltanshauung.
posted by pardonyou? at 2:38 PM on August 26, 2002


pardonyou:

Thanks for the link. I actually have had that quote for a while and lost the site link months ago. The site is called "Liberalism Resurgent" and has pretty much every explanation of commonly-addressed right (and left)-wing concepts.

The link notes the text can be quoted freely with attribution, but considering my forgetting and your unneccesary accusatory obnoxiousness in providing it I guess we can call it even, mmmkay?

And I never said anyone was thinking right-wing; I said they were using one of the most common and annoying right-wing-associated quotes. My POINT was that sayign that makes you look like a right-winger even if you aren't.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 2:39 PM on August 26, 2002


fold_and_mutilate: "All Wars Are Failures."

pardonyou?: "Yes, no doubt the citizens of England, France (and the rest of Europe if not the world) would have been much better off under Nazi rule."

I don't think F&M meant it in a 'polyanna' way. I'm thinking more 'lennonesque.' Pardonyou, you're looking at the all wars are failures statement the way a flea looks at the dog he's sittin' on. You gotta look at the bigger picture.

Germany's involvement with Nazism was a direct result of their lack of success after World War One. The country lacked direction, and sought something that would reinvigorate their national spirit. In other words, they failed in WWI, and the Nazis convinced the german populous that this time they would win. They failed.

War is a melodramatic solution to any problem, and violence is the last refuge of the losing party. When the foolish man fails in an argument he turns to fisticuffs. War is just a real big temper tantrum for whoever started it. Sometimes war is necessary, but only when the other side demands you "put up your dukes". It is also evidence that all rational avenues of resolution have either been exhausted or not consulted.

Terrorists resort to violence for similar reasons. Their stance has been rationally argued down, yet they refuse to relinquish their position because they do not argue from a stance of rationality but of faith. They can take lives and submit their own because quite honestly they feel their lives are not their own and they have absolutely nothing to lose. They are irrational people, so there is no rational avenue of discourse.

Avoidance of violence is not wishful thinking, but sheer common sense. Even when you're forced to defend yourself, you've already lost because you had to resort to violent behavior.

As my Dad used to say (God rest his soul), "Don't ever start a fight, but make damn sure you finish it."
posted by ZachsMind at 3:19 PM on August 26, 2002


Re: "All wars are failures." Resilience means distinguishing between catastrophic failures and ordinary failures. Why it's considered imperative to attack Iraq rather than North Korea isn't exactly clear to me.
posted by sheauga at 4:03 PM on August 26, 2002


Unfortunately, a lot of online news stories rattle off documents and such, but don't point to where you can find the information yourself.

The U.S. Constitution says Congress has the power to declare war. BUT the War Powers Resolution of 1973 does say that the President can send troops out for 60 days with extensions without Congress actually declaring war. Read the Resolution. It's pretty interesting, and actually straightforward for law.

The hinky part of the whole justification, IMO, lies in the backup justification for attacking based on the Gulf War Resolution of 1991. If you read the United Nations Security Council Resolutions of 1991, it looks to me like we're justified in re-attacking Bush if Iraq did something like invading Kuwait again.

I got a bit peeved when I read the story this morning, and wrote up a rant that goes into this in some more detail
posted by jakestone at 8:09 PM on August 26, 2002


ZachsMind : thanks for saying that better than I could. And sheauga, could you elaborate? I'm genuinely curious...
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:22 AM on August 27, 2002


stavroswonderchicken, you'd have a bit to say on North Korea, no? Perhaps we should take this to e-mail.
posted by sheauga at 5:48 AM on August 27, 2002


ZachsMind I don't think F&M meant it in a 'polyanna' way. I'm thinking more 'lennonesque.' Pardonyou, you're looking at the all wars are failures statement the way a flea looks at the dog he's sittin' on. You gotta look at the bigger picture.

Actually, if that's what foldy meant, I agree. In fact I'll go you one better and say that the fact that violence exists at all -- whether on a macro level like war or on a micro level like spousal abuse -- represents a failure of the human race. No question about it -- even though we're sentient beings with intellectual capacity that is exponentially greater than any other creature on earth, we haven't been able to overcome our most self-destructive instincts. So, yes, in that "lennonesque" sense, all wars are failures.

OK. So what? How is that a response to Hitler annexing Poland, or Osama bin Laden taking out thousands of innocent New Yorkers? The current state of the world requires us to move beyond platitudes if we want to do the moral and right thing. And there are times -- hopefully few -- when the cost of not waging war exceeds the cost of waging war, in terms of human life and suffering. World War II was one example. To me, fighting al Qaeda in Afghanistan was another.

Quite frankly, until September 11 I doubted I would ever see a situation in which I would be of the opinion the U.S. should fight a war. With respect to Iraq, I absolutely do not think the case has yet been made -- I would prefer explicit evidence that weapons of mass destruction destined will be used against us unless we intervene (and then only after diplomatic efforts have been exhausted).

So, yes, if all foldy meant was that "all wars are failures" of our inability to resolve conflicts peacefully, I wholeheartedly agree (even if it is a bit circular). But to my mind that adds nothing to the discussion.
posted by pardonyou? at 7:06 AM on August 27, 2002


"...weapons of mass destruction destined will be used against us unless we intervene..."
posted by pardonyou? at 7:09 AM on August 27, 2002


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