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Nelson Mandela calls it like he sees it:
September 10, 2002 7:44 PM   Subscribe

Nelson Mandela calls it like he sees it: the United States of America is a threat to world peace... Dick Cheney [and Donald] Rumsfeld...are dinosaurs, who do not want [President Bush] to belong to the modern age. His arguments are well made. But is the power of his historical perspective undermined by his forays into oversimplified racial analysis?
posted by alms (56 comments total)

 
This is extremely interesting. The facts Mandela brings up aren't new (to us, anyway), but to have a figure with such stature and respect across the world condemn the actions of the Bush administration is quite remarkable.

"I gather you are particularly concerned about Vice President Cheney?"

"Well, there is no doubt. He opposed the decision to release me from prison (laughs). The majority of the U.S. Congress was in favor of my release, and he opposed it. But it's not because of that. Quite clearly we are dealing with an arch-conservative in Dick Cheney."


Trenchant and funny, too.
posted by UKnowForKids at 8:10 PM on September 10, 2002


On the same day that the CIA essentially rested its desperate case to find some shred of evidence linking the sept. 11th b**tards to Iraq - Mandela makes a much stronger case than bush and cheney's "just trust us - saddam is up to no good" argument.... .
posted by specialk420 at 8:25 PM on September 10, 2002


Maybe I'm on my way towards becoming an arch-conservative, but what did Mandela do, besides advocate armed action against the apartheid government and spend a horrendous amount of time behind bars? The fact that he's no longer an elected leader but is still holding forth on world issues puts him on par with Jimmy Carter and Jesse Jackson ... well, maybe only Jimmy Carter (Jesse was never elected anything as far as I know). Those who do not hold office should not presume to speak as if they are statesmen, and the only reason this crap is covered by the media is because it chases headlines and ratings.

Sorry, but statements like his just make my bile rise. What is he doing to ensure stability in the Middle East? How is he protecting innocent people against weapons of mass destruction? Has he, and everyone else, forgotten that Hussein's administration (if it can be called that) has thumbed its nose at UN weapons inspectors practically since the moment of cease fire during the '91 Gulf War?
posted by KiloHeavy at 8:29 PM on September 10, 2002


Say what you will, he's a gifted orator and he makes valid points. "Statesmen" increasingly fail on both counts these uncommon-denominator days.
posted by donkeyschlong at 8:36 PM on September 10, 2002


But is the power of his historical perspective undermined by his forays into oversimplified racial analysis?

Apples and oranges my friend... apples and oranges....

You would think Bush and pals could think up a tangible reason to attack Iraq, because all I'm hearing nowadays are tangible reasons not to attack Iraq from everyone- even relatively weak nations like South Africa.

Maybe the Bush cabinet doesn't feel like they need to waste the effort on making an argument since everyone in the US is so uniformly "Gung Ho" about the whole thing.

Go team...
posted by Aikido at 8:38 PM on September 10, 2002


In the photo I had seen of him when he made these remarks, standing directly to his right-hand side was---Azziz, Terak, the Iraqui mouthpiece and minister...Mandela keeps good company, for sure.
posted by Postroad at 8:42 PM on September 10, 2002


KiloHeavy: What is he doing to ensure stability in the Middle East?

You should be asking What is the U.S. doing to ensure instability in the Middle East?

As for Nelson Mandela, here's the Nelson Mandela timeline. Simply put, he's a man who's opinions are highly regarded around the world, and who is well in tune with the global community.
posted by freakystyley at 8:46 PM on September 10, 2002


his forays into oversimplified racial analysis

I thought something similar at first, but then I thought -- you know, IMO this is not someone who'd play the race card for cheap points, nor does he have a particular political agenda. If he's just calling 'em as he sees 'em, then his comments on race in international politics are very worrying indeed. On preview: Postroad, how about a link to back that up?)
posted by sennoma at 8:47 PM on September 10, 2002


What is he doing to ensure stability in the Middle East? How is he protecting innocent people against weapons of mass destruction?

Thought you were talking about Shrubya there for a second.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:53 PM on September 10, 2002


"On preview: postroad, how about a link to back that up?"

sennoma, if you followed the link provided with the post that began this thread, then you saw the picture of Mandela and Aziz.

I assume you read the link that went with the post?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 8:53 PM on September 10, 2002


If you read the tiny caption next to the picture in the link you can see Mr. Mandela standing next to Mr. Azziz.
So what if he is?
A well known South Arfrican proverb says something to the effect of 'you can learn more by talking to your enemies than you can by ignoring them.' I think that's very true and something US foreign policy would do well to adopt.
posted by keithl at 8:58 PM on September 10, 2002


I bet the Iraqi Kurds are feeling real warm about Mandela right now. I wonder how he feels about the rights of women and religious minorities in the Islamic states?
posted by flatlander at 8:59 PM on September 10, 2002


KiloHeavy: How is he protecting innocent people against weapons of mass destruction?
Well, for one he gave this interview. Last I read the US has killed more civilians in Afghanistan than people who died a year ago in the 9/11 attack. We have weapons of mass instructions too, and Cheney is just as mad as Saddam.

What Mandela is doing is raising his voice against what he sees as an oppression. Why should we listen to him? Well, he's been doing it effectively for years.
posted by DragonBoy at 9:00 PM on September 10, 2002


Perhaps a counterpoint? There was a stunning op-ed piece in today's WSJ (sorry, no link) by a woman who escaped from Iraq in '91. She has a rather different view of those "past facts" and US involvement. I'll only quote a few parts:
-----------------
"After driving Saddam's army from Kuwait, President Bush called on the Iraq people to rise up and liberate their country. I, along with millions of other Iraqis, heeded the call. We had been suffering under a police state for years, and were desperate to breathe free ... within days, a popular uprising had liberated 15 of Iraq's 18 provinces."
--------------
But as Saddam Hussain's forces re-grouped outside of Iraq's newly free cities, President Bush broke his promise. No Black Hawks swooped in to protect us. Thousands upon thousands of Iraqis who had just taken up arms for freedom suddenly found themselves executed in the street, tortured in actual human meat grinders, or, for the lucky few, driven into hiding."
----------------
"Americans may forget President Bush's pledge, but Iraqis do not. The crushed intefada - the word Iraqis use for the 1991 uprising - has come to represent the US's unpaid debt to the people of Iraq."
-------------
"Americans do not understand how badly Iraquis have suffered, and how eager they are to be rid of the tyrant that rules them. I recently spoke to a peace activist who opposes US action in Iraq. "Is Saddam really that bad?" she asked. "On TV, I see Iraqis marching in the streets against the US". I explained how we were forced to attend pro-Saddam marches as part od school. Those who tried to run away were beaten by police."
------------
Recalling the terror of growing up under Saddam Hussain also reminded me of how wonderful the first days of the uprising felt. Responding to the call of President Bush, Iraqis filled the streets and began to demonstrate. I was only 20, and a woman, but I rushed to join the crowd. I saw in people's eyes that day a joy I had never seen before. "
-------------
"It was the only time I saw Iraqis act with happiness and pride. Our lives at that moment meant being able to live as free human beings."
------------
The scars of betrayal have not healed. Last time, the Iraqis started the uprising and America promised to help finish it. today, America will have to take that first step. But the good news is that I guarantee the Iraqis will make sure the job gets finished this time."
------------
As an American citizen and a survivor of the Iraqi uprising, I call upon the American people to remember the promise our President once made. As we continue our national debate about Iraq, the real question is not whether to liberate Iraq, but why we have not done so already ..."
------------


Funny thing - everything from American and European liberals to Middle-East conservatives have been questioned and consulted about US action. Majority opinion? Nelson Mandela opines that George Bush is a cowboy that endangers the world by threatening to act unilaterally. In fact it seems as though the only people not consulted on the issue are - the Iraqi people themselves. How strange it would be if Iraq itself is the source of the world's strongest support for unilateral US action.

Of course, the Iraqi people cannot be consulted. Saddam Hussain makes certain of that. Still, I cannot help but wonder what Mr. Mandela - who knows all too well what it is like to live under exactly the conditions described here, and knows better than most armchair intellectuals what words like "uprising" and "liberate" mean when spoken with the passion that this woman speaks with - I wonder how Mr. Mandela would answer her?
posted by MidasMulligan at 9:10 PM on September 10, 2002


KiloHeavy, here's a Mandela bio. Your summary hardly does him justice. (said bio is somewhat bum-licking, but it's a counterweight....)

Let's leave aside whether armed action against an unjust goverment is ever justified. Long before he decided it was, he was active in promoting change through peaceful means - from the early 50's, in fact. After his release, he used the credibility he had gained to try to achieve a peaceful transition to a post-apartheid state. He could have easily plunged the country into bloody revenge and slaughter, but instead did his best to do good to those who hurt him.

Mandela's views are worthy not because he is an ex-leader, but because he still has considerable moral authority for many people (even if not you). And all respect to Carter and Jackson, but Mandela achieved for more for his people and his nation than the afore-mentioned ever did.

A suspicious person might wonder at why you work so hard to minimise his stature, in what effectively is an ad hominem.

As to what he is doing, did you note his approval for Powell's efforts to build a consensus? His censure is not based on attacking Iraq per se, it is directed at unilateral action based on inconsistent policy.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 9:16 PM on September 10, 2002


mr_crash_davis: if you followed the link provided with the post that began this thread, then you saw the picture of Mandela and Aziz.

Getting your photo taken next to someone doesn't mean much, as seen here. By that rationale, the Bush/Pope photo begs the question, "Just who is discrediting who?" :)
posted by freakystyley at 9:16 PM on September 10, 2002


I found this bit particularily insightful:
Unqualified support of the Shah of Iran led directly to the Islamic revolution of 1979. Then the United States chose to arm and finance the [Islamic] mujahedin in Afghanistan instead of supporting and encouraging the moderate wing of the government of Afghanistan. That is what led to the Taliban in Afghanistan. But the most catastrophic action of the United States was to sabotage the decision that was painstakingly stitched together by the United Nations regarding the withdrawal of the Soviet Union from Afghanistan. If you look at those matters, you will come to the conclusion that the attitude of the United States of America is a threat to world peace.

What percentage of Americans do you think our aware of the US involvements described above? Pretty damn small, I bet.

He clearly isn't cheering on Iraq or extremist muslim states, he's making an important point that America's heavy-handing foreign policy blundering in the cold war contributed to the problems the world is facing now, and more of the same might cause more of the same.
posted by malphigian at 9:19 PM on September 10, 2002


As I read the article, I understood him to say: get the UN on side, don't go alone. He didn't say "don't do it". Have I missed something? Doesn't "the South African demands that George W. Bush win United Nations support before attacking Iraq" imply concern about unilateralism, rather than attacking Iraq per se?
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 9:20 PM on September 10, 2002


Last I read the US has killed more civilians in Afghanistan than people who died a year ago in the 9/11 attack.

Everything you've read is incorrect, 3200 died in WTC (plus pentagon and flight 93)

Afghan civilian casulties are currently estimated at 1000-1300 by the Project on defense alternatives (I can't find the official US reported total but I believe it is lass than a thousand).

What percentage of Americans do you think our aware of the US involvements described above? Pretty damn small, I bet.

It's pretty much considered common knowledge
posted by Mick at 9:26 PM on September 10, 2002


MidasMulligan: I wonder how Mr. Mandela would answer her?

Easy answer, in two parts, speaking as Mandela. First, Bush broke his promise 'cause he probably had better things to do (secret agendas?). Second, we wouldn't oppose this war if Bush shared some of this so-called "evidence" with the global community.
posted by freakystyley at 9:26 PM on September 10, 2002


I bet the Iraqi Kurds are feeling real warm about Mandela right now. I wonder how he feels about the rights of women and religious minorities in the Islamic states?

This is why the United States flew to the aid of the Iraqi Kurds when they were being gassed! This is why Bush has taken strong stances in favor of toppling the regimes in Saudi Arabia, Syria, Jordan, Kuwait, Indonesia and the rest of those oppressive Islamic states! Most importantly, this is why Bush the Senior went in and booted Hussein out the first time! To liberate all the oppressed people of Iraq! We are going to fight this war for benefit of the Iraqi people.

And remember, all you anti-war types, when the fighting starts, we are going to be extremely careful not to kill any of those oppressed people of Iraq. We are only going to kill Hussein and the people who support him. Our smart bombs can do that now, you know.
I can never remember... do I need to close a Sarcasm tag?
posted by Joey Michaels at 9:27 PM on September 10, 2002


Mick: Afghan civilian casulties are currently estimated at 1000-1300 by the Project on defense alternatives (I can't find the official US reported total but I believe it is lass than a thousand).

Those numbers are hazy, as there are differing counts. Then again, we may never know exact numbers.
posted by freakystyley at 9:36 PM on September 10, 2002


freakystyley: Bush and the pope is different. A picture of Roosevelt and Rommel is probably a closer comparison. Aziz is evil in a handbag. I've seen him speak and it angers the blood.

Straight from FoxNews, but still a good argument... there were terms of the ceasefire way back signed by both sides. The terms are the conditions that keep us from being in an active engagement with them. Since Saddam breaks those terms like they never happened on a daily basis, that means that the ceasefire has effectively been broken... thus, carte blanche to start action again. There is legal justification to start military action again.

My guess with the whole Bush/evidence thing is that we're taking our time, putting together the case in an effective manner, guarding and protecting our sources, until he can present it to the world in a convincing manner, not a press release a week. In addition, they're effectively making the case that "Of course Hussein has WOMD, and he's actively trying to increase that and will use them at the first opportunity", in addition to "We just want to change the regime to a democratic state for the human rights of the people living there." It seems to be working.

And cold war actions are totally unrelated to how we do business anymore. Those actions were taken under the pretext that it would be worse to let the communism spread. They picked their battles, choose the lesser of evils, and in the end it worked: mother Russia gone. We may make some bad decisions in the coming years, but they'll be in order to diminish our most clear and present dangers.
posted by askheaves at 9:37 PM on September 10, 2002


i_am_joe's_spleen: Doesn't "the South African demands that George W. Bush win United Nations support before attacking Iraq" imply concern about unilateralism, rather than attacking Iraq per se?

Yup, that's exactly what he's saying. Show us this so-called evidence and perhaps you'll have some real allies.
posted by freakystyley at 9:38 PM on September 10, 2002


"Getting your photo taken next to someone doesn't mean much"

I didn't say the photo meant anything at all. I was answering someone's question as to where he might see such a photo.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 9:40 PM on September 10, 2002


Um. Well, kilo, the term "elder statesman" was invented long before Jimmy Carter. I give Mandela's words weight because he represents the thoughts of other important people as well as himself, and he wasn't just "a former elected leader" of South Africa -- he was the moving force responsible for peacefully transitioning that country from white-minority rule to a mostly-healthy democracy, when the rule on that continent has been, instead, civil war. That is no small achievement. This is, indeed, a man who spent decades in jail after being convicted of "inciting terrorism", a charge to which his response is fundamentally stirring still today:

I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.

Still, he has a curious interpretation of history, and strange bedfellows. I don't feel obligated to take everything he says as unconditionally authoritative; and when he starts talking about Iraq as "black" and Israel as "white" (in fact many Israelis are just as Arab -- Sephardic -- as Iraq; though some days it seems all the settlers in the territories just popped in from Brooklyn or Omsk), there's such oversimplification involved at the assumption level that it's easy to discredit his conclusions. Arabs, after all, are normally classified as Caucasians (if one uses the ossified triumvirate of racial classifications). When he starts talking about Cheney as "the real president" -- now he's just repeating talk-show level discourse. It's clear he hasn't remained in touch with the American leadership.

Since it's come up, let's look again at the timeline of US support in Afghanistan. The "moderate" government of Afghanistan in the era of our first involvement was Daoud's socialist republic, and then a succession of Soviet puppets (coups all arranged from Moscow). Surely Mandela isn't saying we should have worked with them -- and not after our ambassador was kidnapped and killed, apparently by the KHAD (acting on their own, Moscow was just as surprised)? OK, maybe he's jumping forward to the "moderate" coalition government of 1992-94, the one which immediately predates the Taliban. But we did support that government, and we did abide by the joint agreement which he claims we "sabotaged": after the Soviet pull-out, we halted all arms support to the mujahedin, living up to the letter of the bilateral agreement. The goal of the intervention had been achieved. At this point we were under treaty -- you know, those things we're not supposed to break that people are always going on about -- not to send arms to even the government of Afghanistan. So whether Mandela's referring to the unelected socialist regimes of the 1970s or the shaky coalitions of the 1990s, he's using sketchbook Afghan history. The Taliban did not arise from the mujahedin -- they were created by the Pakistani ISI (who thought they'd learned a trick or two from being our proxy during the 80s) in an effort to topple the 1990s coalition government -- former mujahedin themselves. The mujahedin were never a single cohesive force -- there were seven major factions and hundreds of clans who constantly fought each other even during the rebellion against Soviet rule. That they did not forswear this factional fighting after the Russians left is by no means our fault.

So I'm sorry, Nelson, but you're either not paying attention, or listening to heavily biased sources. The concern I have is that the latter seems to more easily explain the rest of the interview.
posted by dhartung at 9:40 PM on September 10, 2002


askheaves: Bush and the pope is different. A picture of Roosevelt and Rommel is probably a closer comparison. Aziz is evil in a handbag. I've seen him speak and it angers the blood.

Ah, I let my sarcasm get the better of my argument :). Still, hanging out with evil doesn't necessarily make you evil. 'Cause you know, sometimes hanging out with evil is kinda kewl. Like hanging out with Darth Vader, the baddest brother in the galaxy :). "Darth, do that Jedi mind trick of yours on that hottie there. Help a brother out. I need to gets me some poontang."
posted by freakystyley at 9:43 PM on September 10, 2002


I bet no one in American leadership (however vaguely defined) has joshed - either a positive or negative way - about Cheney being "the real president." I bet no one has worried that this may actually be true. Absolutely no one.
posted by raysmj at 9:46 PM on September 10, 2002


Maybe no one in leadership has joshed about that, but personally I'm beginning to wonder if Cheney is wearing Hillary Clinton's underwear under his suit.

I really just don't understand the argument here. Saddam was told by the UN to allow inspectors after the Gulf War. He has failed to let the inspectors do their job. He broke his agreement with the UN. We're to allow him to just do that?

Regardless of whether or not Saddam is presently some "clear and present danger," he broke his promise before anyone else in the picture. Personally I'd rather us have someone in the Oval Office who's not acting like a 'buckaroo' and perhaps that more than anything is what Mandella's displeased with -- Shrub's not acting like a negotiator. He's being reactive and proactive. He's namecalling and stirring up wasp nests with sticks. He's not helping his cause. Perhaps the world is not unhappy with what Shrub is saying, but how he is saying it.

Why does that sound familiar?

However, SOMEONE should put Saddam in his place and insure him and others who rule solely with violence that the civilized world will not tolerate this behavior. I don't like fighting fire with fire but what else is there when negotiations fail? Without force to back up the rhetoric, it's all been words, and no one on the planet is going to take the idea of world peace seriously, if those who seek destruction and violence are allowed to persue their efforts untested.

We shoulda taken out Saddam a decade ago. We didn't. Instead, we gave him yet one more chance. He's failed to resolve this issue on his end despite all the chances given him. He must be taken down, not in vengence but in justice.

Mandella may not like Shrub any more than I personally do, but if Mandella's not a part of the solution he's contributing to the problem. At least Shrub's trying to find a resolution.
posted by ZachsMind at 9:54 PM on September 10, 2002


dhartung: The exact quote was: But people like Dick Cheney… I see yesterday there was an article that said he is the real president of the United States of America, I don’t know how true that is.

In short, he didn't say Cheney was the real president. To the contrary, he said he didn't know. But he does worry about Cheney's influence, going on to state:

Dick Cheney, [Defense secretary Donald] Rumsfeld, they are people who are unfortunately misleading the president. Because my impression of the president is that this is a man with whom you can do business. But it is the men who around him who are dinosaurs, who do not want him to belong to the modern age. The only man, the only person who wants to help Bush move to the modern era is Gen. Colin Powell, the secretary of State.

Recent news reports have indeed shown that Cheney and Powell have conflicting views on Iraq.
posted by raysmj at 9:56 PM on September 10, 2002


Have you considered MM, that Mandela might point out the quotes you mention above: the elder Bush was the one that abandoned them and broke his promise.

Now, why should Americans- why should anyone- believe Bush the son is any more interested than his father clearly wasn't about actual human rights (as opposed to oil money or poll numbers)? Why should we believe that Bush Jr. will have any more commitment to the plight of the Iraqi people than his father did- or for that matter, have any more of an attention span in Iraq than he did in, um what's that country, y'know, the one where there was that one guy that we were going to get dead or alive? What was the name of that country? Gosh, it was so long ago...
posted by hincandenza at 9:59 PM on September 10, 2002


"We are going to fight this war for benefit of the Iraqi people."

Of course we aren't. We're doing it for the benefit of the US governement and peoples.
posted by madmanz123 at 10:01 PM on September 10, 2002


hincandenza: Now, why should Americans- why should anyone- believe Bush the son is any more interested than his father clearly wasn't about actual human rights...

For one reason, Bush probably isn't keen on being compared with his father. For another, he has a pretty good mandate from the American Public. And another, he's got his puppet string holders thirsty for blood, as the rest of the world apparently thinks... good enough?

and madmanz123... is that so wrong? It's a side benefit that the iraqi people get freedom, but the goals are: a stable United States to live in, and elimination of threats to it and other freedom loving countries. We want to spread our democracy everywhere! We will plague the earth by imposing freedom everywhere!
posted by askheaves at 10:06 PM on September 10, 2002


mr_crash_davis: my bad, I read the article but only glanced at the picture and didn't even see the caption next to it. Thanks for the heads-up.
posted by sennoma at 10:59 PM on September 10, 2002


Joey Michaels
Perhaps an intelligence tag would work better.
posted by flatlander at 12:57 AM on September 11, 2002


I can't believe the naivity of some people in thinking that the USA is interested in the Iraqi people. The last Gulf War demonstrated that they don't give two hoots about the Iraqi people - Kurds or otherwise. There are plenty of unpleasant regimes in the world. If the USA really wants to remove them all, perhaps Burma and Indonesia would be a good place to start.

The issue is quite clear. If there is evidence that supports an invasion, let's see it. So far, all we've had is bluster.
posted by salmacis at 1:30 AM on September 11, 2002


ZachsMind: if Mandella's not a part of the solution he's contributing to the problem.

Sounds alot like Bush's "You're either with us, or you're with the terrorists" rhetoric. Mandela is trying to voice a fact others of his stature are afraid to say, and Americans loathe to hear: the rest of the world hates us. Especially the Arab world.

The Revolt of Islam: When did the conflict with the West begin, and how could it end? This is the best history on Islam's tensions with the West I've ever seen, courtesy of The New Yorker.

By the way, Gorbachev largely agrees with Mandela.
posted by Dok Millennium at 2:06 AM on September 11, 2002


askheaves: is that so wrong? It's a side benefit that the iraqi people get freedom, but the goals are: a stable United States to live in, and elimination of threats to it and other freedom loving countries.

Correct me if I'm missing some sarcasm there, but isn't that pretty much the attitude that helped get us into this mess? That the ends of US security are worth whatever means necessary, and if the unfortunate civilians of whatever country involved have to pay the price for it so be it?

I'm not saying that the the US doesn't have a right to protect its own security. Of course it does. However, *if* the invasion of Iraq goes ahead without compelling evidence that the current regieme is a threat to world security, and the fate of the civillion population of Iraq is treated with the same contempt it was ten years ago, it is pretty much a recipe for breeding resentment for the US all over the globe.
posted by arha at 4:38 AM on September 11, 2002


Whoa, Dok, holster that hyperbole before you hurt yourself. The rest of the world hates the US? Is that why there was a near-unanimous show of support last year for America? Hell, you had the FRENCH declaring themselves Americans in spirit.
America isn't hated abroad. There is a little envy (though far, far less than most Americans would expect), but mostly there's respect and disappointment. Respect for your defense of freedom and democracy, and disappointment that you don't often live up to those ideals abroad.
The list of petty dictators supported by the US in the past 50 years is incredibly long. This "for us or agin' us" philosophy has put you in bed with many monsters. But the list of democracies you've supported and nurtured is also quite long. It's vexing to watch.
You're big. You're often clumsy. You're too quick with an emotional response and a loner attitude. And you don't seem to understand that others may be just as right as you are about things. You're loathe to admit someone might have a better idea how to handle a situation.
You have many friends in the world, and those friends are trying to let you know you could be making a big mistake here.
Or are you suggesting once you deal with Iraq, you'll turn your attention to that other hotbed of American hatred, Canada?
posted by GhostintheMachine at 5:13 AM on September 11, 2002


Is that why there was a near-unanimous show of support last year for America?

give me a break. remember what happened a year ago today? do you honestly think any country on earth would've come out and said, "well you know, that rootin' tootin' foreign policy of yours didn't do you no favors" not only in light of that tragedy but the tragedy of bush's "our way or the highway" rhetoric?
posted by mcsweetie at 5:18 AM on September 11, 2002


Dok: thanks for that New Yorker link. Very interesting.

I think he's in error, though, when he says:
In two countries, Iraq and Iran, where the regimes are strongly anti-American, there are democratic oppositions capable of taking over and forming governments. We could do much to help them, and have done little.
This may be true of Iran, but I believe Saddam Hussein has simply murdered most of his internal opposition.

mcsweetie: so everyone else does hate us after all? Oh, thank goodness, that's reassuring.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 5:29 AM on September 11, 2002


mcsweetie: Of course there was genuine support for the USA last year. Tonight, football games across the UK are going to have a one minutes silence in memory of the victims of 911. The whole (western) world was with you.

The tragedy is that the sympathy has been eroded by a numbskull president, and a blundering, insensitive foreign policy. We like the American people. We just don't like the government they have elected.
posted by salmacis at 5:56 AM on September 11, 2002


salmacis: If there is evidence that supports an invasion, let's see it.

Exactly. Where is this so-called evidence? I've seen informercials that are more convincing than Bush. This American support for this poorly justified war can only mean that American complacency is at an all-time high.
posted by freakystyley at 6:17 AM on September 11, 2002


The fact that the Iraqi people are oppressed and miserable and governed by an unsavory leader is, sorry to say, not reason enough for unilateral, preemptive military action.

All of you hear who are advocating we invade Iraq: please come up with a theoretical timetable for our next set of invasions - right over to Iraq, swing by Saudi Arabia, over to Syria, and then all the way over to North Korea?

How do you contend with this problem? Where do you end? Are you really going to argue that Saddam Hussein is so much worse than the leadership of these other countries that only Iraq deserves "regime-change". Is there a palpable, video-game-esque Evil Level that a country has to score up to to warrant action?

So we mount this enormous globe-trotting adventure, sweeping from nation to nation in an endless World War for peace, democracy and private property?

Or am I missing some Iraq-specific aspect to this that doesn't apply to the others?
posted by Phatbank at 9:08 AM on September 11, 2002


The Taliban did not arise from the mujahedin -- they were created by the Pakistani ISI (who thought they'd learned a trick or two from being our proxy during the 80s) in an effort to topple the 1990s coalition government --

dhartung- this is an extremely disingenuous explanation. The Pakistanis did play a major role in creating the Taliban, but they did so using mercenaries and weapons that had been brought in by the CIA. The moral relativism shown by the U.S. gov't in recruiting such criminals to fight a proxy war led directly to the creation of the Taliban.

Here's an interview with Zbigniew Brzezinski, Carter's Nat'l Security Adviser on CIA involvement in Afghanistan.

Also, Midas: I think you're confused as to why the U.S. opposes Saddam Hussein. We don't oppose him because he's a murderous despot, we oppose him because he's a murderous despot who doesn't follow our orders.
posted by Ty Webb at 9:10 AM on September 11, 2002


arha - hit the nail almost squarely on the head. A tiny but important qualification, however, regarding the US's concern for "[threats to] other freedom loving countries."

The only objective of American foreign policy is the pursuit of American interests. The US's concern for the welfare of other countries is precisely the concern a farmer has for his sheep. We would wish it otherwise, but that is the relationship you have forged with us through your policy of American exceptionalism.

That's OK. But don't be surprised if the sheep are less than swooning with gratitude or impressed with arguments that appeal to moral justifications...Mandela has my respect (KiloHeavy - I'm guessing you haven't read his biography), and sums up the views of most folk I know.
posted by RichLyon at 9:49 AM on September 11, 2002


What is the statutes of limitations for planning and attempting the assassination of a former president? As far as I'm concerned that is reason enough for invasion. (I wish this was more strongly stated as as reason but i fear it would be seen as "don't mess with my daddy" on G-dub's part).

Also, Sadam has broken the rules of the cease fire (rebuilding his army, creating chem weapons, pursuing nuclear weapons), also reason to invade.

Sadam has publicly announced he will reward the families of suicide bombers with $25,000 (but aren't us sanctions killing the women and children, where are these funds coming from?), that's reason for the US to protect it's satellite state by invading.
posted by Mick at 11:41 AM on September 11, 2002


What is the statutes of limitations for planning and attempting the assassination of a former president? As far as I'm concerned that is reason enough for invasion.

Dear God, you've scraped right through the bottom of the barrel and reached the dirt underneath. If you're going to go out on that limb, then I think the people of Chile may be nearly thirty years ahead of you in the queue.
posted by riviera at 12:11 PM on September 11, 2002



All of you hear who are advocating we invade Iraq: please come up with a theoretical timetable for our next set of invasions - right over to Iraq, swing by Saudi Arabia, over to Syria, and then all the way over to North Korea?


Am I missing something or is the "US to invade Syria, Iran, Saudi" argument only made by those outside the US policy establishment who are against war on Saddam?

Has anyone inside the administration actually advocated such a plan, or is this just a red herring?

While the Iran/N Korea rhetoric deployed at the State of the Union was bellicose, administration insiders backpedaled fast. Moreover, the "taking the Saudi out of Saudi Arabia" briefing was pretty clearly a shot across the Saudi bow, not an actual invasion plan.
posted by ednopantz at 1:42 PM on September 11, 2002


Flatlander: I would have to open an intelligence tag first before I could close one... ;)
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:49 PM on September 11, 2002


Finally, someone with some political clout says it how it is...........
posted by delboy_trotter at 6:36 PM on September 11, 2002


Ty: Jeezopete.

I am familiar with the history, including Brzezinski's somewhat self-serving spin. You are being disingenuous to try to make a direct connection between the CIA and the Taliban. Look: the era of the mujahedin rebellion was from maybe ca. 1978 to 1990, a point at which we are alleged to have "abandoned" Afghanistan. Then the mujahedin -- which by the 1990 bilateral agreement with the Soviets we could not arm -- ruled Afghanistan under a constantly-changing series of alliances among tribal leaders, mujahedin, 'warlords', and hill bandits. The Taliban were not themselves mujahedin; they were opposed to the mujahedin, irrespective of whether we had or had not supported that particular faction, which had already been several civil wars ago by the measure of the average duration of an Afghan political situation. They emerged in Kandahar as a revolt against un-Islamic practices by mujahedin (including the probably noble cause of preventing sodomy of young boys). During their somewhat improbable rise we supported (weakly) the Rabbani coalition government, ignoring whether or not Dostum or Hekmatyar were or weren't on his side. We continued with that policy until Kabul fell to the Taliban, after which we gave limited respect as the de facto rulers of the majority of the country -- but never completely withdrew our connections or support for the Northern Alliance, which is what Rabbani et al became after their ouster. In many ways we played it right down the middle, like an honorable and humble country who wasn't going to tell Afghans who should rule them. (Also because of Clinton-era inconsistency of the who'd-we-talk-to-last type on foreign policy, but that's another angle entirely.)

So. Four years after we -- the US -- left the country to its own devices, some people who came to the country along with some other people we supported came to oppose still more people we had supported and some people we had not supported (perfectly clear yet?), and in the mix of fundamentalism and unemployed mujahedin and general banditry you got a volatile end compound. Were we responsible, along a tenuous path, of bringing elements to that mix? Certainly. To get the Saudis to pay for most of the war, we had to let them import as many nutjob fundamentalists as they liked (it kept them out of Riyadh). And the Pakistanis also liked the fundos (although as the commander of the Pakistani Army's Afghan war effort claimed, the CIA went ballistic every time they sent arms to the fundos -- but the author said that this was the wrong attitude, since they were the most reliable at actually completing operations, rather than using the arms against each other or selling them on the black market or just being lazy, half-assed soldiers). So despite our own intentions, there was an extent to which we encouraged the rise of fundamentalism in Afghanistan. But to say that we created the Taliban out of whole cloth is nonsense -- or disingenuous -- or a lie.

Good grief, Zbig only had a part in the first 2 years of a 12-year program. How the fuck should he know what would happen four presidencies down the line, and a full four years after we disengaged from the country? By 1994, religious students in Kandahar were damned sure acting on their own recognizance, not as CIA shills. By 1996, the ISI had come along and infiltrated them, and at best you can say we knew about it and tolerated it. But it sure as hell wasn't our game -- we probably just told Pakland to make sure it stayed out of our hair. Indeed, the fact that it had failed in this regard is apparently a key reason that the ISI chief was in Washington on September 11, 2001 -- for a good talking-to.

Do not try to one-up me on this with cartoon history from a completely non-authoritative prior era. If you want to demonstrate a CIA-Taliban connection, bring something to the table in the 1990-1994 period, from principals. Not from a guy who barely spoke to his counterparts in the Clinton adminstration (when this stuff you allege was happening), even if they were from the same party.
posted by dhartung at 11:43 PM on September 11, 2002


But to say that we created the Taliban out of whole cloth is nonsense -- or disingenuous -- or a lie.

Ordinarily, I wouldn't have wandered in here to read yet another breathless diatribe on how since a million self-serving U.S. actions never included the actual physical annointing of Osama Bin Laden with Holy Water from the Potomac (Holy Oil from Amoco was more likely used), that the United States therefore bears no responsibility for the Taliban's rise to power in Afghanistan, and we can rest ethically easy as we clusterbomb the poor bastards who no longer serve "our interests".

But something drew me in. There were a lot of words near the bottom of the thread, and somehow they were floating in a kind of frantic, circular, cum-backpedal-ish dance.

Out of the corner of my eye I caught whirling phrases like "irrespective of whether we had or had not supported that particular faction" and "we continued with that policy until Kabul fell to the Taliban, after which we gave limited respect", and "in many ways we played it right down the middle" and "there was an extent to which we encouraged the rise of fundamentalism in Afghanistan" and "we probably just told Pakland to make sure it stayed out of our hair" and the occasional, plaintive " were we responsible, along a tenuous path...?"

Some sort of bizarre moral imperative (about letting the benevolent dictators of Saudi Arabia "import nutjobs" into a sovereign nation because, heh heh, them as have the gold make the rules) whizzed by my right eye, but I couldn't get a real good look at it.

You can believe me. I swear: the whole bottom of the thread was spinning.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 3:28 AM on September 12, 2002


Whatever, foldy. There's a lot of people out there in the world, including nutjobs and assholes. Alas, we have to deal with them. I'm sure in your imaginary world it's possible to never, ever soil your precious moral silk gloves.
posted by dhartung at 2:43 PM on September 12, 2002


I think the point, Dhartung, is that many people find it hard to believe that we supported any Islamic Fundamentalists at any time, anywhere. Add Saddam, the Shah, Pinochet, and various others into the mix and you get a mix of popular resentment and popular myth that may not have the facts nailed down, but speaks to an essential truth that idealists would like known: getting involved with bad people is going to come back to haunt you.

You have demonstrated that there is no evidence that the US actually supported the Taliban per se, however I think the greater point is still valid for those who eschew the CIA-style realpolitik tactics. You have proven yourself to be a realist, which I admire, however you must admit that the inconsistancies between yesterdays "he's our SOB" versus today's "moral clarity" can be somewhat galling, especially when Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are supposedly on "the right side" of the line at present.
posted by cell divide at 2:52 PM on September 12, 2002


Whatever, foldy. There's a lot of people out there in the world, including nutjobs and assholes. Alas, we have to deal with them. I'm sure in your imaginary world it's possible to never, ever soil your precious moral silk gloves.

Alas, "DEAL with them" is obviously the operative phrase in your imaginary world of fun guns, and warfare as Disneyland.

~continually wipes smashed Chickenhawks off his precious moral silk gloves~
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 4:50 PM on September 12, 2002


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