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Here's a transcript of the president's speech
September 12, 2002 1:03 PM   Subscribe

Here's a transcript of the president's speech to the UN General Assembly this morning, for those who missed it. The White House has also provided a 21 page document [pdf link] detailing Iraq's history of defiance and disorder over the past decade.
posted by jammer (84 comments total)

 
Did the White House also provide a document detailing the United States's history of defiance and disorder over the last 25 years?

I forgot.
posted by xmutex at 1:10 PM on September 12, 2002


Here's a CNN article that does a decent summary job. Interesting that "supporting terror" has dropped from the agenda.
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 1:18 PM on September 12, 2002


My patriotism for a moment services: can you be more specific as to how we defied which particular items the UN has brought up? I do note that not all nations have always voted unanimously to go along with this or that mandate (?) of the UN, so I guess others are therefore also guilty. As for disorder: saving South Korea from the North Koreans? Saving Kuwait from Iraqui invasion? Now we have acted many times in disorderly ways-whatever and however you define that--but why not also suggest the somewhat orderly manner we have at times acted, such as allowing diplomatys in the UN to park their cars anywhere they want and not ticket them (minor bitching, I know)... Personally I have little respect for the UN since it consists of so many nations that are not Democracies but are led by dictators.
posted by Postroad at 1:19 PM on September 12, 2002


xmutex: No, but why don't you, since you seem to be so knowledgable. Find a UNSC resolution (since those are the only ones which are binding by the laws of the UN -- all other councils produce only "recommendations") that the US has defied. I have yet to notice one.
posted by jammer at 1:24 PM on September 12, 2002


I'll get the ball rolling for xmutex with this little issue.
posted by badstone at 1:33 PM on September 12, 2002


jammer, try here: link

The US has never 'defied' a UNSC resolution, because as a permanent member it will not allow anything to pass that harms it. However it is guilty of using its veto power (which is rarely used) in a manner that other SC members (including close allies) object to.

From the article linked above:

"There is another major area, largely ignored, that at some point must be faced. It involves the serious distortion of the official Security Council record by the profligate use by the United States of its veto power. In 29 separate cases between 1972 and 1991, the United States has vetoed resolutions critical of Israel. Except for the U.S. veto, these resolutions would have passed and the total number of resolutions against Israel would now equal 95 instead of 66. "
posted by cell divide at 1:34 PM on September 12, 2002


The segment does list a 1993 assassination attempt on then-President George H.W. Bush....

Is that what this is all about? "Ah come ta kill the man what tried ta gun down mah paw."

In all seriousness, this just makes me heartsick and weary. I can't imagine it will make a lick of difference what the UN says to Bush, though I'll be interested to hear it. Much of what he accuses Iraq of can be applied to so many countries. Are we going to bomb them all?

Wait. Don't answer that.
posted by frykitty at 1:37 PM on September 12, 2002


"Except for the U.S. veto, these resolutions would have passed "

Yeah, and except for the sunlight it would be dark. What the hell is that even supposed to mean? We have veto power, so we exercise it when we deem it necessary. That's the whole point of veto power, if I'm not mistaken.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 1:39 PM on September 12, 2002


I have to admit, that the president's speech writers did a bang up job of compelling argument: act now or be seen as impotent. What is missing is the same thing that has been absent from the first declaration of Iraq as a third of the "axis of evil". Where, oh where, is the mandate for the US to act unilaterally? If the UNSC basically tells Bush's warhawks to piss up a rope, then what possible justification can the Prez use to attack? It seems to me, that he's put himself in a tenuous situation. If the SC won't commit to aggression*, then we can't either without appearing ourselves as the aggressor.

*I'm sorry, that should be "strong military intervention", shouldn't it?
posted by Wulfgar! at 1:40 PM on September 12, 2002


Then there's grem warfare, children's rights, land mines, Kyoto...
posted by badstone at 1:45 PM on September 12, 2002


Much of what he accuses Iraq of can be applied to so many countries. Are we going to bomb them all?

Not so relevant to the Iraq issue, but with the War on Terrah ongoing, when are we going after the IRA? The extreme right wing separatists? These people have used terror in the past and presumably will continue to. Why have they thus far been excluded from the noble cause?
posted by mikrophon at 1:49 PM on September 12, 2002


torture, women's rights...
posted by badstone at 1:53 PM on September 12, 2002


The point, Mr Crash Davis, is that we have continuously thwarted the will of the Security Council on that particular issue, even when our most moderate allies were against us. The veto power is not commonly used even by the US, and for it to have happened so many times on one particular issue is something that can be seen as an irrational and poorly measured approach to the UN. I posted it because Jammer had asked for evidence that the US had violated UNSC resolutions-- since it hasn't, I provided evidence of profligate use of veto power in a manner inconsistent with the US's stated goals and votes on other issues.

Your point is well taken, though, I just hope you see mine.
posted by cell divide at 1:54 PM on September 12, 2002


If we agree for the minute to leave US vetoes/non actions on Israel out of this debate (and I think we can all agree that whatever we see as the justice of this situation, it is an incredibly complex affair that has evolved continuously over time, with shades of blame shifting as the political, economic, and demographic trends of that region have shifted) the fact is, Iraq is in blatant violation of a number of UN Security Council resolutions. Whether individuals, groups, or states out there are upset about US refusal to sign certain treaties (and believe me, so am I) or US refusal to allow certain motions to pass the UN Security Resolution, here are the facts:

The Security Council is the preeminent power in the United Nations, and possibly in international law. It is the only organ of the UN who's pronouncements have the force of law (as mentioned above.)

Iraq has repeatedly violated a series of UN resolutions. It has done so intentionally.

Iraq has repeatedly violated a series of treaties it has signed, including the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty and the Chemical Weapons Convention. Iraq signed these treaties willfully and under the present regime.

Iraq has been repeatedly aided in the breaking of Security Council resolutions by permanent members of the Security Council: France, China, and Russia.

China and Russia were also the two countries that vetoed use of NATO airpower against Serbia during the Kosovo War of 1999, and stated intentions to veto NATO force in 1995 in Bosnia, though for a variety of reason the acquiesced.

Whatever your feelings regarding the current Iraq situation (and I am very conflicted in my feelings about this) the President's case is 100% accurate. Iraq has willfully violated Security Council Resolutions and Iraq knows that the punishment for such violation would be armed conflict.
posted by pjgulliver at 2:12 PM on September 12, 2002


Oh, I see... because we don't pay our UN dues (despite allowing them to run rampant on expensive land in NY), oppose several treaties that other people like, and veto things alot, we're morally equivalent with a dictator who has repeatedly flaunted the specific will of the UNSC for more than a decade, called openly for pogroms against his own people, and seems determined to obtain, produce, and perhaps in the future use weapons banned by international treaty -- and who has a record for using them in the past?

I'll have to remember that being a deadbeat is on par with with being a genocidal maniac. Thanks for clearing up my world view for me.
posted by jammer at 2:14 PM on September 12, 2002


Actually, cell divide, I still don't see your point. Because we only allowed 66 resolutions against Israel instead of 95 we're somehow abusing our veto power?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 2:19 PM on September 12, 2002


Yelling at Nothing: "Supporting Terror" is indeed on the list of things that the speech and "background paper" accuse Iraq of doing. Look on page 18 of the PDF.

William Saletan has a nice piece in Slate pointing out that whether or not you agree that invading Iraq is a good idea, Bush's apparent willingness to do so is prompting the UN (and the UNSC) to consider actually doing something instead of issuing yet another resolution saying "And this time, we really mean it."

The US has provided as ideal of a "bad cop" as the UN and Europe could hope for in dealing with Iraq; it would be a shame if they failed to take advantage.
posted by jaek at 2:22 PM on September 12, 2002


Rather than engage in more Iraq vs America debate, I'd like to offer a link to Kofi Annan's speech opening that same UN General Assembly session, which to my mind was far more eloquent than Bush's. Plus he has a cuter accent (though the link is to the text only).
posted by Raya at 2:28 PM on September 12, 2002


pjgulliver: Excellent. Much more eloquent than I have the patience to be. Thanks.
posted by jammer at 2:32 PM on September 12, 2002


we're morally equivalent with a dictator who has repeatedly flaunted the specific will of the UNSC

er, no, that's just what 2 minutes search time can bring up to demonstrate "the United States's history of defiance." If you want to get into US performance of torture and support and training of other regimes in the fine art of torture as perfected by the CIA, you wouldn't have to look too far. Then there're the illegal medical experiments on soldiers, genocide of indigenous Americans, active suppression of worker's rights... You're just not going to win an argument based on the US somehow being morally superior to anyone.
posted by badstone at 2:33 PM on September 12, 2002


just seeing the temporarily out-of-retirement karen hughes's famous alliterative tendencies repeated by a mefi'er in a post (decade of defiance and disorder) makes me a bit queasy. she and rove have evidently already won. hope jammer was just quoting verbatim for effect
posted by momus at 2:33 PM on September 12, 2002


Badstone. You're just plain wrong. The US may have done many ambiguous things, and you may disagree with the entire thrust of US politics but the fact is the US does not willfully violate UN Security Council Resolutions. The only reason there is a UN with any power or moral authority is because it was created, nurtured and supported by the US. The only reason there is any notion of the international justice of human rights is because of the US. The only reason there is freedom of transit on the seas of the world is because of the US. The only reason Europe has been able to evolve itself into a rational and liberal collection of self-supporting states is because of the US.

Don't be assanine.
posted by pjgulliver at 2:40 PM on September 12, 2002


Imagining the Worst-Case Scenario in Iraq

Eep!
posted by homunculus at 2:42 PM on September 12, 2002


Yes, I think it's an abuse of the veto power and lowers our moral authority, as we have vetoed plenty of resolutions that virtually every other nation in the world, including virtually every democracy, considered important for moving forward in peace. Furthermore we have not asked anyone to enforce the UNSC resolutions that have already been passed re: Israel, weakening our "moral clarity".

I for one, did not mean to suggest that there was any equivalence between the Unted States and Iraq. There is simply no comparison, something which is not under any sort of serious question. All I meant to show was that America, through its blind and unfair support of one nation over many others, including other allies, has weakened its moral position as an enforcer of UNSC resolutions. Using the veto power essentially as a proxy for another, far smaller, country, has both delegitimized the Security Council and America's reputation for fairness.

I do think America has a strong leg to stand on when it comes to Iraq, what I saying is that it is a shame that we have weakened our position by both profligate use of the veto on a single issue, and by not demanding that UNSC resolutions be enforced for all of those whose actions threaten peace.
posted by cell divide at 2:42 PM on September 12, 2002


Cell Divide, I'd be interested in knowing what resolutions we vetoed in regards to Israel that you think should have been passed. Can you point me to a UN server?
posted by pjgulliver at 2:47 PM on September 12, 2002


the fact is the US does not willfully violate UN Security Council Resolutions.

Not sure how you missed this from cell divide above, pjgulliver:
The US has never 'defied' a UNSC resolution, because as a permanent member it will not allow anything to pass that harms it.

I think it's obvious that if the US didn't have veto power, it would have been willfully violating as many UN Security Council Resolutions as it damn well pleased. There's absolutely no moral high ground on that point.

Don't be assanine.

Now *there's* a new MeFi tag.
posted by mediareport at 2:48 PM on September 12, 2002


One other thing about the Israeli resolutions which people are quick to point out that we "look over"... many of those same resolutions also have requirements of the Palestinians which they themselves have never met. Why should we hold one side responsible for a contract that the other side is not willing to live up to themselves?
posted by jammer at 2:50 PM on September 12, 2002


Is that what this is all about? "Ah come ta kill the man what tried ta gun down mah paw."

so in about ten years time, Jenna Bush will take revenge out on Osama Bin Laden.
posted by Multi Global Trans Express at 2:50 PM on September 12, 2002


Mediareport: I am well aware that the US possess a veto. However, three of the other permanent veto holding members, France, China, and Russia have all willingly violated Sec. Council resolutions despite the fact that they have the magic veto. We don't.
posted by pjgulliver at 2:52 PM on September 12, 2002


Jammer, I think that all parties should be made to live up to their agreements, and that the US and the UN should hold both sides equally accountable for their failures to live up to resolutions passed by the UNSC. My entire argument rests on the fact that the US applies a consistent standard to all nations, so I am not one to go for an argument of either side being allowed to slide.
posted by cell divide at 2:55 PM on September 12, 2002


The US has flagrantly breached (among many) UN security resolutions 530, 562 & 637, specifically related to Nicaragua. In particular "The Security Council ... Reaffirms the right of Nicaragua and of all the other countries of the area to live in peace and security, free from outside interference" (their italics). The US was proud of its "outside interference", funding and training the 'rebels', leading to 10's of thousands of dead.

Of course, Nicaragua complained about US interference through legitimate channels, according to international law. When the US was found guilty and ordered to pay reparations, it simply decided that it no longer recognised the court. When resolutions were brought before the UN Security council and General Assembly "calling on all states to observe international law" they were vetoed by the US and Israel and El Salvador in the General Assembly (although even El Salvador relented when the resolution was re-presented).

When international law suits the US's purposes, it regards it as legitimate, in any other circumstance, the US will simply ignore international law. It should be recognised that the US's approach to international law is "Might is Right".
posted by daveg at 2:58 PM on September 12, 2002


PJ, here is a list (not from the UN, from the Jewish Virtual Library) which details some of the vetoes.

The ones I think are most galling are the 14-1 votes on calls to stop settlement construction in the occupied territories. This essentially send the message to the world (and especially to Israel) that building homes for Israelis on 'confiscated' land is acceptable to the United States. The old, tired excuse is that these resolutions are "one sided" but since only one side is taking land and building on it, this argument holds no sway with me.
posted by cell divide at 3:02 PM on September 12, 2002


Daveg, I really didn't know about that. It's appalling. Thanks for informing me. (I'm feeling really sheepish right now.)
posted by pjgulliver at 3:03 PM on September 12, 2002


Thanks Cell. Same as above.
posted by pjgulliver at 3:05 PM on September 12, 2002


Then there's grem warfare, children's rights, land mines, Kyoto...

You mean the germ warfare "plan" with no means mentioned of enforcing compliance? The children's rights "plan" where we had to fight France in order to keep the provisions against child soldiers *in* the plan? Are *all* countries going to sign the landmine treaty? If they all don't it is militarily insane to sign it ourselves. Kyoto? The best thing that could be done for the environment in relation to the Kyoto accord would be to make it illegal to print copies of it - thus saving paper resources which would be otherwise wasted.

Please, exactly how do these equate with ANY of the actions of which Hussein is guilty?
posted by RevGreg at 3:24 PM on September 12, 2002


The only reason there is a UN with any power or moral authority is because it was created, nurtured and supported by the US. The only reason there is any notion of the international justice of human rights is because of the US. The only reason there is freedom of transit on the seas of the world is because of the US. The only reason Europe has been able to evolve itself into a rational and liberal collection of self-supporting states is because of the US.

Wow, I do believe that's the highest horse I've ever seen. You be careful up there.
posted by rushmc at 3:34 PM on September 12, 2002


This link shows all UN Security Council vetoes since 1946. Note that the U.S. is actually a distant second when it comes to the number of vetoes cast.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 3:49 PM on September 12, 2002


RevGreg: Saddam must let the US investigate it's activities with regards to WMD, but the US doesn't seem to be so keen to let anyone see what they're doing on the biological front! Paraphrasing (I can't find the link), it was said at the time that there's no need to verify the behaviour of those 'we' trust, e.g. the US, Britain, etc. and untrustworthy nations can have verification forced upon them.
posted by daveg at 3:52 PM on September 12, 2002


Saddam must let the US investigate it's activities with regards to WMD, but the US doesn't seem to be so keen to let anyone see what they're doing on the biological front!

No, Saddam does not have to let the US do anything. The UN, however, passed one of it's <sarcasm>greatly feared "resolutions"</sarcasm> which Saddam signed saying that he would allow unrestricted inspections of weapons manufacturing as a part of the Gulf War cease-fire and he is in direct violation of that agreement. We signed nada. Where is the similarity here?

If the UN hasn't the strength or the stomach to enforce it's own sanctions then it should be disbanded...it is worthless to anyone if it can not and/or will not do so. I see what Bush is doing as calling on the UN to actually step up and become what it is supposed to be instead of a glorified international circle-jerk.
posted by RevGreg at 4:05 PM on September 12, 2002


RevGreg makes the ultimate point for all of those who oppose war but support the UN. What is the point of the organization if it is not able to enforce the very important resolutions it passes, the ones that in theory are at the heart of the UN's mission to ensure global peace?
posted by cell divide at 4:09 PM on September 12, 2002


I'd like to offer a link to Kofi Annan's speech opening that same UN General Assembly session, which to my mind was far more eloquent than Bush's.

Eloquent? I guess if lack of substance and an overabundance of fluffy rhetoric are in your taste it may have satisfied. It seems funny to me that he should speak of "implementing all the commitments that have been made" while the UN allows their "resolutions" to be flaunted and ignored.

Plus he has a cuter accent

Always important. Adolf Hitler's Austrian accent went over huge in Munich, Berlin and Nuremberg.
posted by RevGreg at 4:10 PM on September 12, 2002


"What is the point of the organization if it is not able to enforce the very important resolutions it passes"

Well, it keeps Metafilter entertaining. I can see why we're not so keen to pay a billion dollars just for that, though.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 4:11 PM on September 12, 2002


I think it's obvious that if the US didn't have veto power, it would have been willfully violating as many UN Security Council Resolutions as it damn well pleased.

No, if the US didn't have veto power, there wouldn't be a UN.
posted by kindall at 4:15 PM on September 12, 2002


Always important. Adolf Hitler's Austrian accent went over huge in Munich, Berlin and Nuremberg.

Please, if you're going to respond to something frivolous and silly, don't do it in a way that makes you look like a twat.
posted by riviera at 4:49 PM on September 12, 2002


Note that the U.S. is actually a distant second when it comes to the number of vetoes cast.

Although if you look at the trend for the last 25 years, the US is waaaaaay out in front, since 2/3 of Russian veto's occured in the first 10 years.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 4:49 PM on September 12, 2002


Has anyone else read homunculus' link? I find these worst-case scenarios quite credible, and consider them the best reason to avoid attacking Iraq. Match in a powder keg, if you know what I mean...
posted by mr_roboto at 5:01 PM on September 12, 2002


My point was not that the US is veto-happy, the point is that the US only uses its veto on behalf of one country, for one issue, and does so at the expense of peace and strong, consistent action. I feel this unfortunately diminishes our moral authority and position in the world and the Sec. Council, and makes it more difficult for us to build consensus over Iraq.
posted by cell divide at 5:05 PM on September 12, 2002


Please, if you're going to respond to something frivolous and silly, don't do it in a way that makes you look like a twat.

I though my response was frivolous and silly also. I apologize for attempting to have a sense of humor, I didn't know it would disturb you so much.
posted by RevGreg at 5:25 PM on September 12, 2002


Has anyone else read homunculus' link? I find these worst-case scenarios quite credible,

I found it very convincing too. The one part that I did find somewhat farfetched was the part about Pakistan and India.

Pervez Musharraf, its president, has joined America's war on terrorism but he is unlikely to survive politically should there be a nuclear attack by an American ally on Iraq's Muslims.

Musharraf is a military dictator and does not survive politically. He survives because there is no force in Pakistan strong enough to overthrow the military.

Islamists, overthrowing him, would take control of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal; lacking the ability to launch missiles that would reach Israel, they would turn on India,...

I don't think that the eruption of WW3 changes the fact that this results in a pakistan-shaped crater.

These points aside, however, I found the logic to be sound and the scenario realistic.
posted by originalname37 at 5:35 PM on September 12, 2002


I though my response was frivolous and silly also. I apologize for attempting to have a sense of humor, I didn't know it would disturb you so much.

If comparing Kofi Annan to Adolph Hitler is your idea of a humor, I'd hate to see what you find offensive.
posted by originalname37 at 5:40 PM on September 12, 2002


Has anyone else read homunculus' link? I find these worst-case scenarios quite credible, and consider them the best reason to avoid attacking Iraq.

Yeah, I just read the link. So what you're saying is that the same crowd that feels that Hussein's army is so diminished they are not a threat to the other countries in the region also feels that his army may be a huge threat to Saudi Arabia? Okay, what am I missing here? He either is a threat or isn't, let's make up our minds. This is also the crowd that feels that we can effectively discover Saddam's WMD capability and advances through satellite imagery and there is no need to physically go there, yet they seem to feel that the same imagery would not be effective in detecting troop movements of the quantity needed to accomplished a task such as this (not to mention that only a small section of the northwestern border between Iraq and Saudi Arabia is not covered by the southern no-fly zone making it one of the most highly watched areas in the world.) Any troop concentrations in this area would decimated by cluster bombs from Qatar, bases in the no-fly zone and I really doubt Saudi Arabia would prevent us from launching planes to protect their interests. This guy should consider writing fantasy novels for a living.

Some of my favorite quotes from the article is:

The cold war is a useful precedent. Saddam Hussein's power, and perhaps his evil too, pale next to that of Stalin. Yet even when we had clear military superiority over Stalin we chose not to attack him.

So, because we were wrong then and we should make the wrong decision again?

All our presidents, Republican and Democratic alike, accepted the principle of avoiding a war that might wreck the planet.

But there was a point where that WASN'T a problem...and we hesitated. Once the USSR possessed nuclear capability the rules changed. That was the mistake. The mistake now would be to allow a man who has led his country in unprovoked war against his neighbors and dumped chemical weapons and them and his own people take more steps in that direction. There was a point where Stalin was defeatable...we hesitated and that advantage disappeared.

is not that different from the old Soviet Union, and it is no coincidence that the same deterrence that restrained the Kremlin has kept Iraq in line for a decade.

Iraq has been "in line for decade?" He should lay off the Khat! I seem to recall Clinton bombing military sites four years ago in Operation Desert Fox (December 1998.) I don't recall many bombing raids on Soviet territory. The situations are drastically different and the author of this article is just simply a putz.
posted by RevGreg at 5:56 PM on September 12, 2002


Musharraf is a military dictator and does not survive politically. He survives because there is no force in Pakistan strong enough to overthrow the military.

The question is then: how strong is the loyalty binding the military to Musharraf? What if one of his generals were to recognize the power base that could be built upon a popular Islamicist uprising, especially after a U.S. invasion of Iraq? Musharraf commands the military for now, but he is not himself the whole of the military. And there is plenty of precedence for a strong dictator, supported (apparently) by the military, being overthrown by a popular revolution: Iran, Indonesia, the mini-coup this Spring in Venezuela (the coup leaders being popularly overthrown after a couple of days), the USSR (twice!), etc.

RevGreg, are you suggesting that the U.S. should have invaded the Soviet Union after WWII?!? That would have been freakin' nuts, man. They could have taken a million American soldiers easy before we hit Moscow, and America would have never had the stomach for that, Stalin or no Stalin. Not invading the USSR was the correct decision, hands down. Also, I find it interesting that you fail to address the central point of the worst-case scenario essay. The risk of escalation pursuant to a last-ditch Iraqi chemical/biological attack on Israel is unacceptably high. Unless we could guarantee complete elimination of Iraq's remote-launching capabilities with a first strike, that risk remains. This worst-case is far more compelling than an invasion of Saudi Arabia (which could be accomplished without weapons of mass destruction, and still cause a mess for the U.S.).
posted by mr_roboto at 6:08 PM on September 12, 2002


"Do you kids want to act like the real UN, or just bicker and waste time?"
-- Principal Seymour Skinner, The Simpsons
posted by mrmanley at 6:08 PM on September 12, 2002


If comparing Kofi Annan to Adolph Hitler is your idea of a humor, I'd hate to see what you find offensive.

Saddam Hussein being allowed to continue his quest for WMD. Very offensive.

The humor in my statement was that I was playing on the idiocy that a "cute accent" was any measure of a man's worth. My statements about Hitler's accent are not invalid, he was seen as "folksy" and very highly accepted by the working classes because of it. Annan's speach was vapid and pointless backslapping, that his "cute accent" somehow might somehow make it more relevant - that too I find offensive (but vaguely humorous.)
posted by RevGreg at 6:19 PM on September 12, 2002


RevGreg, are you suggesting that the U.S. should have invaded the Soviet Union after WWII?!? That would have been freakin' nuts, man.

It would have be doable...but, yes, it would have been nuts. No, I doubt the United States public would have been accepting, if only because the propoganda machine had pumped Stalin up as one of our great allies for so long. But, the correct decision at the time would have been to take some kind of political stand, to expose the atrocities in the Ukraine and to do something. We chose to do nothing and it led to 40+ years of tension and needless suffering for many and resulted in the tragedy the is the sorry collection of poverty stricken states that used to comprise the USSR.
posted by RevGreg at 6:25 PM on September 12, 2002


It would have be doable...But, the correct decision at the time would have been to take some kind of political stand, to expose the atrocities in the Ukraine and to do something.

And a heavenly host proclaimeth: "John Birch hath arisen".

Really. Why stop there. Maybe in retrospect the Soviet Union should have taken the moral high ground and invaded us, or just exposed the progroms in little places like Birmingham, Pine Ridge, and South Vietnam...and done something. Or maybe we could have just invaded our South American or certain Eastern allies, who to this day are busy rounding up and knocking off dissidents in their own populations.

So much for our moral justification for pursuing war...lacking to this very day. Bush made no case for war.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 6:52 PM on September 12, 2002


It would have be doable...but, yes, it would have been nuts.

I don't even think it would have been doable. Germany was only defeated because it was fighting a war on three fronts. France was in shambles. In Asia, the allies position was so pecarious that the British re-armed the Japanese before the peace treaty was signed in order to quash the independence movement led by a CIA-Trained nationalist named Ho Chih Minh. The northern route was occupied by countries that just wanted out of the mess, attacking from the East would mean going through the chaos that was Japan and China. Any opportunity for getting rid of Stalin ended at Stalingrad (which was partly won by the creation of a massive military industrial base safe in Siberia.)

But there was a point where that WASN'T a problem...and we hesitated. Once the USSR possessed nuclear capability the rules changed. That was the mistake. The mistake now would be to allow a man who has led his country in unprovoked war against his neighbors and dumped chemical weapons and them and his own people take more steps in that direction. There was a point where Stalin was defeatable...we hesitated and that advantage disappeared.

You know, there are some very good sources that point out that Hussein was not very subtle about his intentions and that the U.S. denied a willingness to interfere in a regional conflict. In other words, after 20 years of success in dealing with regional conflicts in the background, after 40 years of building up a huge intelligence network, after Saddam Hussein very publicly started telegraphing his intentions to take Kuwiat, why was the threat of force applied after rather than before the invasion?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:01 PM on September 12, 2002


RevGreg: Have you heard about the vibrating broom? You have? Well, then, how about the conservative argument against invading Iraq? It's being discussed in this MeFi thread. I'll get you a drink from the kitchen if you join us. I'm certain you'd have interesting things to say.
posted by mediareport at 7:25 PM on September 12, 2002


...I was playing on the idiocy that a "cute accent" was any measure of a man's worth.
Pshht, as if. I was just trying to take the preachy edge off my link to Annan's speech. It's Bush who thinks (hopes) that a cute accent will make him more marketable, that's why he affects the Texan drawl despite being a New England blueblood.

As for Bush vs. Annan in a head-to-head speechmaking contest, let's compare:
"I also believe that every government that is committed to the rule of law at home, must be committed also to the rule of law abroad."
vs.
"The first time we may be completely certain he has a nucular weapons is when, God forbids, he uses one."

I know which sounds more intelligent to me.
posted by Raya at 8:30 PM on September 12, 2002


Eloquent? I guess if lack of substance and an overabundance of fluffy rhetoric are in your taste it may have satisfied. It seems funny to me that he should speak of "implementing all the commitments that have been made" while the UN allows their "resolutions" to be flaunted and ignored.

Raya's link was to a toast by the way, not to the opening address. Here's a snippet: "I urge Iraq to comply with its obligations – for the sake of its own people, and for the sake of world order. If Iraq's defiance continues, the Security Council must face its responsibilities." I suspect this will all need to happen fast to keep everybody cool.

See, he advocates doing something about it, browbeater. There's dogshit on your shoes.
posted by mblandi at 8:40 PM on September 12, 2002


Madeleine Albright's response to Bush's speech.
posted by homunculus at 8:54 PM on September 12, 2002


Raya's link was to a toast by the way, not to the opening address.
It was to the opening address back when I posted it, but then that got bumped by newer content (the toast). Thanks for re-posting.
posted by Raya at 9:22 PM on September 12, 2002


i thought donald mchenry, former US ambassador to the UN, articulated pretty well what bush's speech failed to clarify!
...What he doesn't tell us is how he's going to grapple with the situation. He doesn't give us the kind of Cuban Missile Crisis type ammunition to tell us what he so knew that we must act now.

Nor, frankly, does he deal with what I think are the differences between the United States as the President articulates our policy, and the rest of the international community. We want regime change. The rest of the international community wants enforcement of the resolutions.

Now, if you enforce the resolution and in the process you get regime change, that's quite different from the objective of regime change. And what we have done by taking a regime change approach in this administration and the last one, has given Saddam Hussein an opportunity to say, why should I cooperate? They're not going to lift the sanctions no matter what I do. And it's those kinds of issues, it seems to me, which he has got to grapple with.

...if regime change comes out of enforcement of the resolution, you won't get any objection from I think anyone. But if your objective is to simply change the regime, it is very difficult for the international community to agree that we are ought to introduce this new concept.
at least for me anyway :)
posted by kliuless at 9:32 PM on September 12, 2002


the total number of resolutions against Israel would now equal 95 instead of 66.
This says it all. 66 anti-Israel resolutions. The UN is a thugoracy of petty third world dictators, terrorists and European collaborators. I do not understand why Bush chose to legitimize such a morally bankrupt group. He is just perpetuating the idea that the US or Israel is beholden to the despicable gang of thugs that is the UN.
posted by tkcteecfrs at 12:31 AM on September 13, 2002


KirkJobSluder: Here's an article about the meeting with Hussein, Tariq Aziz (Foreign Minister at the time) and April Glaspie (US Ambassador to Iraq) eight days before the invasion. Chilling.
My quick Googling failed to turn up a complete transcript of teh meeting online, but this book reproduces it entire. I recommend the book for anyone who wants to study source documents and contemporary commentary - it presents a very good variety of viewpoints.
posted by Nicolae Carpathia at 12:51 AM on September 13, 2002


Nicolae, the only transcript of that meeting was made by the Iraqi government. It's not chilling, it's simply silly. Why do you give it any credence at all?

April Glaspie on the subject:

She said she was the victim of "deliberate deception on a major scale," and denounced the Iraqi transcript as "a fabrication" that distorted her position, though it contained "a great deal" that was accurate.

You're really taking the word of Saddam "Baby Milk Factory" Hussein at face value? Listen, there's a great bridge in Brooklyn I can get you a deal on...
posted by Slithy_Tove at 1:56 AM on September 13, 2002


tkcteecfrs: Can't tell if your being sarcastic or moronic.

And about worst case scenarios: wouldn't Taiwan look awful tempting to the Chinese if we're all wrapped up in a middle east war?

Slithy_trove: What I'm starting to take at face value is that the US Intelligence community (oxymoron) has little to no idea what is actually happening in Iraq. Does W. have some evidence or not? They've already had to admit there has no connection between Iraq and 9/11, despite nearly a year of (what is now viewed as) propagandizing. Now I'm supposed to take what the US says about Iraqi WMD's as face value? C'mon.
posted by elwoodwiles at 2:40 AM on September 13, 2002


homunculus, thanks for the link to Madeliene Albrights response. One of the things that bothers me is the use of the heightened emotions surrounding the anniversary of 9.11 to push the case for attacking Iraq, despite the lack of any tangible evidence linking Hussien to Al Qaeda.

Bush may have presented a compelling case, but he promised evidence and delivered rhetoric. Obviously the UN needs to act, but it seems that certain parties are keen for the world to forget that the people responsible for last years attack have yet to be brought to justice, and remain a very real threat. The whole situation scares the hell out of me.
posted by arha at 3:39 AM on September 13, 2002


Point 1 - this whole UN issue is pointless. The UN either has to comply with Bush or risk irrelevancy - says Bush. Well that means it's already achieved irrelevancy. If it has no say and no choices then it has no point and the US's actions are no more legitimate with the UN's approval than without. Why go to the UN at all (other than Mr Blair said it would be a good idea)?

Point 2 (off topic) - why should any country have the power of veto? If one country can overturn a resolution on it's own then the UN isn't working democratically, it's working in the interests of the nations with the power of veto.

Conclusion - seems to me the UN was set up to be deliberately ineffective. Isn't time we started reforming the UN so that it actually represents the international community and not just Britain, US , China and Russia?
posted by Summer at 3:45 AM on September 13, 2002


The UN either has to comply with Bush or risk irrelevancy - says Bush. Well that means it's already achieved irrelevancy.

Exactly: but that's just an extension of Bush's stated foreign policy since seizing power, which is 'Co-operate with us by doing exactly what we tell you; in the meantime, we'll respond to your co-operation by ignoring you.' Polly Toynbee's uneven at the best of times, but her diagnosis of American noblesse oblige seems pretty accurate: 'If Afghanistan cannot hold US attention for one short year, how would far more complex Iraq be nurtured long term?' The 'benign imperium' of Krauthammer and his pundit pals is perceived as such only because the US won't stick around to see the aftereffects.
posted by riviera at 5:03 AM on September 13, 2002


In reply to originalname, here's some stuff about the position Musharraf is in. He may well be a millitary dictator but that doesn't mean the milliatry will back his every move. For me the situation in Pakistan remains of grave concern. You could argue that if "retired" generals such as Ahmad didn't do anything during the dismantling of the Taliban then they won't move against Musharraf now, but I fear that a unilateral attack on a musilm country (well, secular country, muslim population) could push things over the edge.

As for Dubya's speech, I have to agree that his speechwriters did an excellent job. Placing the UN at the centre of the argument was a very smart move, and if it does now force the UN to be more active when countries break SCR then all well and good. However, excellent as the speech was I still can't find any facts in there as to why we have to invade.

If they have all this proof why can't they show it to us, like, now? I see Saint Tony is releasing the dossier about Iraq on the same day he is recalling parliament to discuss it. That should give everyone plenty of time to read it carefully.

Great thread, however, and excellent links. And I thought the internet was just Star Wars and porn.
posted by ciderwoman at 5:49 AM on September 13, 2002


Where's Osama? Why all of a sudden Saddam? Why is there no real terror link?
posted by owillis at 6:20 AM on September 13, 2002


Maybe in retrospect the Soviet Union should have taken the moral high ground and invaded us, or just exposed the progroms in little places like Birmingham, Pine Ridge, and South Vietnam...and done something.

No government is perfect and none ever will be, we've made our mistakes and we've tried to atone for them. Comparing these situations with the mass slaughter of nearly 10 million people in the Ukraine is a bit suspect.

after Saddam Hussein very publicly started telegraphing his intentions to take Kuwiat, why was the threat of force applied after rather than before the invasion?

Well, you have to wait for the UN to stop wringing it's hands while Europe behaves like Chamberlin and insists that it's all bluster. You have to have proof, you can't do anything unless there's proof - him just saying it and massing troops doesn't count as proof with the UN.

Well, then, how about the conservative argument against invading Iraq? It's being discussed in this MeFi thread. I'll get you a drink from the kitchen if you join us. I'm certain you'd have interesting things to say.

Not much to say about his "argument" other than I think it is pretty specious. It sounds good but the alternatives achieve the same outcome that he fears with almost literally no chance of change. I'll take a small chance over none any day.

Raya's link was to a toast by the way, not to the opening address.

Your link wasn't working either when I tried it (I kept getting a database error.) Here is a hard link to the printable document.

No surprises there. Annan says he's going to italicize AND bold face his assertion that Iraq comply with the UN's "resolutions" this time instead of just italicizing them. At what point does the endless talking and lack of progress begin to weigh upon him? He harkens back to the days when the UN kicked Saddam out of Kuwait as an example of how multilateral response works and should work - but, of course, <sarcasm>since he's had so much success talking Saddam into being a good boy</sarcasm> he feels that is the best course of action (or lack thereof as it may be.)

In my view, more fluff. He says everything right and it's what we all would love to have work - but it hasn't and there is absolutely no indication that it is affecting any change. Where is Annan's proof that his discourse with Iraq for the past few years has made a difference? Has anything changed or has Iraq gotten even more beligerent? At some point Annan needs to concede defeat - how many more years of his futile prattling do we have to hear before something is actually done?
posted by RevGreg at 12:21 PM on September 13, 2002


What Amnesty International, whom Dubya et al keep quoting as they beat ploughshares into plutonium, says about the use of their name in this mess.

Shameful.

USA/Iraq : Not in the name of human rights

In his speech to the UN General Assembly today, President George Bush made reference to the serious human rights violations perpetrated upon the Iraqi people by their government. In the background paper distributed to the media, several references were made to Amnesty International's reports published over the years on the human rights situation in Iraq.

"Once again, the human rights record of a country is used selectively to legitimize military actions," Amnesty International said.

" The US and other Western governments turned a blind eye to Amnesty International reports of widespread human rights violations in Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war, and ignored Amnesty International's campaign on behalf of the thousands of unarmed Kurdish civilians killed in the 1988 attacks on Halabja.'

" As the debate on whether to use military force against Iraq escalates, the human rights of the Iraqi people, as a direct consequence of any potential military action, is sorely missing from the equation."

" Life, safety and security of civilians must be the paramount consideration in any action taken to resolve the current human rights and humanitarian crisis. The experience of previous armed intervention in the Gulf has shown that, all too often, civilians become the acceptable casualties of war."

" In the event of military action there is a serious possibility of large flows of refugees and the internal displacement of thousands of people. A humanitarian crisis can emerge caused by difficult or impossible delivery of basic supplies leaving shortages in food, medicine and the destruction of civilian infrastructure and institutions."
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 1:24 PM on September 13, 2002


I think the Bush Administration has handled things brilliantly with yesterday's speech (whoever wrote it; whoever just memorized it). They managed to change the burden of proof from the United States having to prove why war is necessary, to the UN having to prove why multiple violations of UN resolutions does not justify war. The UN has been put on the defensive. Which is where the UN should be.
posted by ParisParamus at 1:33 PM on September 13, 2002


to the UN having to prove why multiple violations of UN resolutions does not justify war.

Great: when do we get to invade Israel?
posted by riviera at 3:38 PM on September 13, 2002


No before your sense of humor improves.
posted by ParisParamus at 4:41 PM on September 13, 2002


Not before your sense of humor improves.
posted by ParisParamus at 4:42 PM on September 13, 2002


Great: when do we get to invade Israel?

Let's list the nations who have killed Palestinians in order from most killed to least killed and then do them in order. When we're done with Jordan, Syria and Lebanon we can deal with Israel if they haven't shaped up by then.

" As the debate on whether to use military force against Iraq escalates, the human rights of the Iraqi people, as a direct consequence of any potential military action, is sorely missing from the equation."

You mean the rights they already don't have. What does Amnesty International propose we do, another good, harsh letter to Saddam? Fax him some heart rending accounts of the suffering? Send him some Joan Baez CD's to soften him up a bit? Do they propose we just enforce no-fly zones and ship food in to those we can protect for the rest of friggin' eternity while those that are in Iraqi controlled territory live in squalor? AI is a great organization and does a lot of good but ONLY when and where they are able to travel and help people. The war may mean suffering in the short run but it will enable assistance to actually get to these people. So, a few weeks of bombing and fighting or a few more years of starvation - which sounds more humane?
posted by RevGreg at 4:47 PM on September 13, 2002


RevGreg: Send [Saddam] some Joan Baez CD's to soften him up a bit?

That'd sure break me.
posted by Hieronymous Coward at 5:42 PM on September 13, 2002


Raya: As for Bush vs. Annan in a head-to-head speechmaking contest ... I know which sounds more intelligent to me.

Bush sounds like a man who's going to get what he wants. Now that's intelligent.
posted by Hieronymous Coward at 5:50 PM on September 13, 2002


elwoodwiles

Can't tell if your being sarcastic or moronic.

Well you certainly put me in my place. Your intellectual superiority has me so overwhelmed that I am unable to address all the valid arguments that you presented to refute my point. Oh, thats right, you didn't make any......
posted by tkcteecfrs at 11:08 PM on September 13, 2002


In the event of military action there is a serious possibility of large flows of refugees and the internal displacement of thousands of people. A humanitarian crisis can emerge caused by difficult or impossible delivery of basic supplies leaving shortages in food, medicine and the destruction of civilian infrastructure and institutions.

AI, MSF, and OxFam all warned of dire humanitarian catastrophes if we started bombing in Afghanistan, if we didn't stop bombing in Afghanistan before the winter, and if we didn't stop bombing for Ramadan. Their concerns turned out to be wholly unfounded. Given Saddam's history of treating his people, it seems rather likely that the situation in Iraq will play out in a similar fashion.
posted by jaek at 3:42 AM on September 14, 2002


Let's list the nations who have killed Palestinians in order from most killed to least killed and then do them in order.

But first, let's play 'let's dodge the substantive point', shall we?

The war may mean suffering in the short run but it will enable assistance to actually get to these people.

It may also mean a boatload of suffering in the long run. With that optimism, you must expect to win the lottery every single week. Presenting it as an either-or is fraudulent, and basing the rest of your argument on such flimsy projections is bullshit.

So, a few weeks of bombing and fighting or a few more years of starvation - which sounds more humane?

'So, a premise that I pulled out of my arse in an attempt to appear more credible, or a premise phrased as to appear insupportable?' Stick your polar opposites back where you got them, please.

Oh, and ParisParamus: I hear there are vacancies for mimes in Brooklyn these days. You're ideally suited.
posted by riviera at 3:24 PM on September 14, 2002


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