Skip

The Idiot Prince will have his war
March 17, 2003 11:31 PM   Subscribe

Stan Goff puts it best in his anti-war article entitled "The Idiot Prince will have his war", outlining many of the logistical issues involved with waging war in Iraq, pointing a finger at a problem facing the United States that runs far deeper than the need for oil or the opposition of the United Nations. A fascinating and very chilling read.
posted by PWA_BadBoy (102 comments total)

 
Wow, hey. "The invasion will work but it sows the seeds of the anyways inevitable destruction of the current political regime." Gosh molly, sounds a little bit like recitation of the communist creed dialectic.

I'm aware that I have joined people I really don't like very much in saying that this war is probably a bad idea. Don't really need the fact reiterated, thanks.
posted by kavasa at 12:12 AM on March 18, 2003


Nevertheless, an interesting read. Thanks.
posted by Resonance at 12:14 AM on March 18, 2003


FTW asked retired U.S. Army Special Forces Master Sergeant Stan Goff to re-examine what we can expect on the battlefield when the United States begins its invasion. The former instructor of military science at West Point describes a scenario that is vastly different from what was expected last September before the Bush administration encountered effective economic and political opposition. Now denied the luxuries of a multi-front invasion from Turkey and Saudi Arabia the U.S. war strategy has changed. The bottom line is that a great many more innocent civilians are going to be killed. And the first and possibly crippling breakdown of U.S. plans will happen in Kurdistan.

Stan Goff--what a commie.
posted by y2karl at 1:03 AM on March 18, 2003


What does your excerpt have to do with fact that he is, y2k? The article was predicated on the notion that the war will happen. It then went on to say that lots of bad things will happen, and finally the U.S. will win. Then it gets into the dialectic, and how the current order's fall will be accellerated. It didn't seek to say anything, or really present much information. It was a rallying cry for The Cause.
posted by kavasa at 1:07 AM on March 18, 2003


from the article:

and hardly a raging leftist like yours truly

It's always good to know things firsthand, so there's no need to insist on what is obvious, y2karl
posted by samelborp at 1:44 AM on March 18, 2003


It does become a rallying cry at the end, but he does bring up a few good questions I haven't seen asked elsewhere. Is the US's giant military spending sustainable? And what good does all the cruise missiles or "robo-army" do in the face of simple technology like a passport and a box cutter? Post-Iraq will be interesting. Will the US end up like Israel? Fighting almost unstopable low-tech warriors ready for martyrdom with ineffective high-tech gadgets?
posted by skallas at 1:45 AM on March 18, 2003


Will the US end up like Israel? Fighting almost unstopable low-tech warriors ready for martyrdom with ineffective high-tech gadgets?

Yes. Good chance. And while everyone else lives with the consequences, the instigators get to ride pony on their ranch impervious to accountability.
posted by cmacleod at 2:05 AM on March 18, 2003


Fighting almost unstoppable low-tech warriors ready for martyrdom with ineffective high-tech gadgets?

That's entirely possible - and it's just fine by me. Boxcutter terrorism will never pose a serious threat to the existence of this nation the way a well armed antagonistic and unstable regime with the ability to create large scale destruction ill.

Martyrs can create bodies - but they can't dictate national survival... Israel has shown us this too.

All things considered I am safer in a world where the US has a vast superiority in large scale arms than I am in the one many seem to want where we stand disarmed and impotent.
posted by soulhuntre at 3:45 AM on March 18, 2003


Because Al Qaeda has been so effective since Sept 11 at... well... nothing at all, actually.
posted by techgnollogic at 4:22 AM on March 18, 2003


It feels good to know that there are people with the clarity of thought and optimism of retired U.S. Army Special Forces Master Sergeant Stan Goff. I'd like to share in his optimism- but everything looks pretty bleak now with all those bodies about to pile up.
posted by talos at 5:20 AM on March 18, 2003


"Will the US end up like Israel? Fighting almost unstopable low-tech warriors ready for martyrdom with ineffective high- tech gadgets?"

Yes. Exactly. From the mountain tops - Yes. Why do people not get this? A war in Iraq will make us the target of such terror for decades. Ignoring Saddam would have led to nothing.
posted by y6y6y6 at 5:27 AM on March 18, 2003


We're already a target for terrorism until we cease to exist.
posted by techgnollogic at 5:44 AM on March 18, 2003


techgnollogic: it's called a linear risk. why do shit that we know will increase that risk? that's all y6y6y6 is noting. To put it in helpful debate terms, you can read through this little primer, or just search for the word 'linear'.
posted by hank_14 at 5:51 AM on March 18, 2003


Don't leave your husband because he beats you, just try to stop making him so angry?
posted by techgnollogic at 5:59 AM on March 18, 2003


techgnollogic, I'd also do some research on analogies if I were you.
posted by hank_14 at 6:02 AM on March 18, 2003


Overthrowing the tyrannical regimes of the middle east is more likely to decrease the threat of Islamist terrorism than sitting around waiting for terrorists to attack us again will.
posted by techgnollogic at 6:13 AM on March 18, 2003


Just as stopping your husband from beating you is more likely to decrease the threat of domestic violence than sitting around waiting for him to get drunk and angry will.
posted by techgnollogic at 6:15 AM on March 18, 2003


Note the shift between 'stopping' and 'leaving' in your last series of posts regarding the abusive husband, but whatever. A few things you're out of it on:

a) you stop the husband one of several ways - one is to kill him, which is illegal and murder, even in the name of self-defense, or you can call the legally recognized authority, in this case the police, in Iraq's case, the UN and have them deal with it. Inspections were in place and to the vast majority of the world were working in a matter they deemed satisfactory, but not so for the revenge minded spouse, eh?

b) the analogy is insipid, because the power relationship posited between spouse and husband does not reflect the relationship between Iraq and the US. Again, research on analogies can be useful, not just here, but in standardized tests like the SAT and GRE as well!

c) final thing for now, you need to also research the idea of a 'warrant' - this is the reason that supposedly makes your claim believable. So when you say stuff like 'this will decrease the risk of terrorisim', without a reason, there's not much for us to agree with. Especially when others have already pointed to growing anti-American sentiment from the impending war and Osama's rhetorical use of American aggression in recruiting terrorists or the use of anti-americanism as a vote getter in recent elections in France, Germany, Pakistan, etc.
posted by hank_14 at 6:21 AM on March 18, 2003


One other thing: technically speaking, Islamist fanatics don't get drunk and beat us, since alcohol is prohibited.
posted by hank_14 at 6:24 AM on March 18, 2003


Overthrowing the tyrannical regimes of the middle east is more likely to decrease the threat of Islamist terrorism than sitting around waiting for terrorists to attack us again will.

What country will be next. I wonder. Because hey, terrorism doesn't end with Hussein, now does it? So what will it be? Iran? Saudi? Egypt? Syria? Pakistan? Libya? Any country with oil - Norway? Any country hosting terrorists - United States? Any country with water - Austria?

After all the "battles-for-democracy" and "wars-on-terror", wherever they may take place, we will have won one thing - Fear.

I'm not so sure I'm up for that.
posted by psychomedia at 7:04 AM on March 18, 2003


a) killing him in self defense is not murder and is not illegal... not in my country. The US Military is the police, the UN is more like the city council.

b) it's a fucking analogy, dumbass. deal with a threat by ending the threat (whether by STOPPING your husband or LEAVING him, assuming that he isn't going to stalk you and kill you, whatever. you can't leave Islamist terrorists because you can't leave the planet, but you can bomb the shit out of them) or don't deal with the threat by looking the other way and putting up with the consequences of the threat (going to the doctor to get your jaw wired back together, repeatedly, or unsuccessfully inspecting forever). The inspections were NEVER supposed to disarm Iraq. The inspections were to verify that Saddam was living up to his agreements and disarming openly and completely. Back to our unhappy couple, that's like stopping a man from beating his wife by calling him every week to ask how things are going.

c) saying "this will increase terrorism" is detailed in its causal linkage how?

You're the one who needs to research analogies. Look up the word and stop taking them literally and pointing out technical differences in a comparison.
posted by techgnollogic at 7:05 AM on March 18, 2003


psychomedia: you were on track right up until norway - what the fuck?
posted by techgnollogic at 7:07 AM on March 18, 2003


techgnollogic: sorry. that part of my post was me trying to be, ehrm, funny/sarcastic. too many cups o joe here... no pun intended.
posted by psychomedia at 7:53 AM on March 18, 2003


killing him in self defense is not murder and is not illegal... not in my country
1. Last time I checked Saddam wasn't the only inhabitant of Iraq.
2. Killing 100 bystanders in self defense against an agressor is a crime in all countries I know of.
3. If you claim self-defense by saying "I think X was going to kill me sometime in the future so I popped him", you will find yourself in jail (or worse) in no time.
The US Military is the police,
Yeah? When did I vote for that?
the UN is more like the city council.
Even by this, patently false, analogy, the police is supposed to obey the city council, isn't it?
posted by talos at 8:03 AM on March 18, 2003


Without going into the wrong or right of it (been done, sides picked, etc), what are the serious alternatives to war? I mean, actual pragmatic alternatives? Americans are a target and, y6y6y6's assertions notwithstanding, we left Hussein alone for nearly a decade and things damn well did happen. We are a target, individually and collectively. Also: We serve the role of the UN's enforcer, as well as the UN's red-headed stepchild. Say what you will about Bush's intelligence (I personally he's been underestimated and continues to be, to the detriment of his opponents), he very ably pointed out the UN's inability (and perhaps, unwillingness) to enforce it's own decrees. SO: in light of an active multinational terrorist organization, supplied and succored by Middle Eastern states who (probably not yet have but)can supply them with very nasty weaponry, who have publicly annnounced their desire to see the fall of the west - what do we do?

With all the steam and venom that passes for debate around here lately, I have yet to hear a single workable, practical, realistic alternative to addressing this problem. Thoughts?
posted by UncleFes at 8:06 AM on March 18, 2003


Well the paragraph that seems to be the most interesting is the one in which Iran cyanide gas is blamed. Mustard != Cyanide, and who gave cyanide to Iran btw ? Worth investigating, both the fact and the supplier.
posted by elpapacito at 8:06 AM on March 18, 2003


With all the steam and venom that passes for debate around here lately, I have yet to hear a single workable, practical, realistic alternative to addressing this problem. Thoughts?

I refer you to last night's speech by the former British Foreign Secretary:

I hope that Saddam, even now, will quit Baghdad and avert war, but it is false to argue that only those who support war support our troops.

It is entirely legitimate to support our troops while seeking an alternative to the conflict that will put those troops at risk.

Nor is it fair to accuse those of us who want longer for inspections of not having an alternative strategy.

For four years as foreign secretary I was partly responsible for the western strategy of containment.

Over the past decade that strategy destroyed more weapons than in the Gulf war, dismantled Iraq's nuclear weapons programme and halted Saddam's medium and long-range missiles programmes.

Iraq's military strength is now less than half its size than at the time of the last Gulf war.

Ironically, it is only because Iraq's military forces are so weak that we can even contemplate its invasion. Some advocates of conflict claim that Saddam's forces are so weak, so demoralised and so badly equipped that the war will be over in a few days.

We cannot base our military strategy on the assumption that Saddam is weak and at the same time justify pre-emptive action on the claim that he is a threat.




posted by niceness at 8:15 AM on March 18, 2003


The police don't need to follow the council when the council is obviously corrupt... either way, over-extending the analogy isn't the point. And if Saddam cared about the Iraqis he'd have disarmed by now, or at least stopped killing them. He now has an opportunity to leave, and he'll turn it down and force us to act. That the US gov't is more interested in not killing Iraqis than Saddam is (even for purely cynical bullshit PR reasons, which I know you monkeys are itching to yelp about, and I deny) further strengthens the US's case in favor of action.
posted by techgnollogic at 8:20 AM on March 18, 2003


Over the past decade that strategy destroyed more weapons than in the Gulf war, dismantled Iraq's nuclear weapons programme and halted Saddam's medium and long-range missiles programmes.

An excellent point. But how could he have done that, if no one was monitoring the Iraqis? My understanding is that the UN had been kicked out of Iraq long ago, and Saddam left to his own devices.

At the same time, none of this addresses Hussein's ability to provide weapons and succor to terrorists. Nor does it address his internal pogroms (which, if we claim to be the foremost proponents of democracy and individual liberty and security, we must address). Nor does it address his destabilizing influence in a region that desperately needs stability.

I will agree that this war has some very VERY strange fucking aspects. But is containment really working? While Iraq's politics are centered around the cult of personality and the UN is unwilling to really put teeth into its words, I would have to say no.

I wonder is that we are not seeing Iraq as a step in a long-term strategy to bring stability to the middle east. Until we are weaned off middle eastern oil AND we have taken care fo Al-Qaeda AND Israel has a peaceful coexistence with its neighbors, American has to be involved. Couldn't long-term stability be the ultimate goal here?

(Just for the record, this is entirely opinion; I'm not going to cite anything [cites can be just as much BS as blue-skying], and I will glady demure if it turns out I state something in error.)
posted by UncleFes at 8:28 AM on March 18, 2003


Niceness:

Cook is a good man and it was a good speech. A few points:

Saying inspectors destroyed more weapons after the Gulf War than military power did during the Gulf War is bad logic. Inspectors operated in Iraq, the militaries never actually invaded and searched Iraq for WMD. Thus it is perfectly logical that while inspectors operating in Iraq destroyed more weapons than military units operating outside of Iraq, it is still necessary to reach a level of destruction/effectiveness beyond that of inspectors. And of course, the large difference between now and 1991 is that we actually will put military searches in Iraq.

And while containment might have worked to a little degree during the 1990s, that decade also proved conclusively that there are those who actively try to weaken the containment regime, and that eventually it becomes impossible to keep sufficient force on the Hussein regime to make him comply with sanctions.

Cook may feel that Hussein poses no threat, but if you believe he does pose a threat, I don't see how one can possibly argue that a return to failed containment regime of the 1990s is a viable alternative.
posted by pjgulliver at 8:29 AM on March 18, 2003


Techgnollogic, your arguments just keep making less and less sense. You started with war rhetoric based upon a false analogy, then chose another (just as bad) which you abandon because it, too, doesn't hold up. Maybe you should stop using them and start speaking directly.

The Iraqi people are going to pay a hefty price for this conflict. Neither our intentions or Saddam's matter. Innocent people are going to die. Does the quantity really matter? Do intentions even matter at that point?

I don't think that strengthens anyones case. It's just irrelevant.
posted by Kikkoman at 8:41 AM on March 18, 2003


But how could he have done that, if no one was monitoring the Iraqis? My understanding is that the UN had been kicked out of Iraq long ago, and Saddam left to his own devices.

For the last few months inspectors have been finding weapons. It's so annoying to have to state time and time again: "Just because some don't support war doesn't mean they don't support action against Hussein." Hussein deserves a kicking and we deserve to be protected but war is a misguided, piss-poor attempt to 'clean up the region'.

Cook may feel that Hussein poses no threat, but if you believe he does pose a threat, I don't see how one can possibly argue that a return to failed containment regime of the 1990s is a viable alternative.

You may feel Hussein is a threat but Bush and Blair have had over a year to convince a majority of us of this and they've failed even to convince the former Foreign Secretary of Britain who rightly points out that we have still to see a shred of credible evidence of Hussein's WMDs (in the accepted sense of the phrase). The fact that despite not convincing world opinion, we will still go to war just reaffirms those of the opinion (ie. everybody) that any US/UK negotiations were a smokescreen - there was always going to be a war.

Cook feels that Hussein is no threat at the moment precisely because containment has worked. Of course containment doesn't play to the galleries as well as a war - particularly a war where you know the enemy are not much of a threat.

Techollogic - where is your logic? At this point: "it's a fucking analogy, dumbass" you were already well out of your depth.
posted by niceness at 9:02 AM on March 18, 2003


The Iraqi people are going to pay a hefty price for this conflict.

The Iraqi people, it can be argued, are already paying a hefty price - starvation, oppression, rape and murder. Innocents will undoubtedly die. Innocents are dying today, and not one bomb has yet been dropped. Who speaks for them today? Why is freeing the Iraqis from Hussein necessarily a bad thing?

Hussein deserves a kicking and we deserve to be protected but war is a misguided, piss-poor attempt to 'clean up the region'.

Maybe. So: how? How do we give Hussein the kicking everyone annoyingly agrees he so rightfully deserves, when even the threat of Baghdad in flaming ruins in insufficient to dislodge him from power?

And I'm not sure that the containment of a few months is "containment" at all, nor I agree is it even remotely sufficient to determine whether or not Hussein has WMDs (I get the feeling sometimes I could hide a Tiger Tank in my backwoods from Hans Blix) but I'll concede the point - a few months of inspections is not enough to determine whether or not Iraq has WMD. War was inevitable. Which only leads me to believe that there must be another reason WHY war was inevitable...?
posted by UncleFes at 9:14 AM on March 18, 2003


Boxcutter terrorism will never pose a serious threat to the existence of this nation the way a well armed antagonistic and unstable regime with the ability to create large scale destruction ill.

Tell that to the tourism and the airline industries, and by extension, New York City. Is or is not an economic catastrophe on the scale of the Great Depression, if not greater, a serious threat to the existence of this nation? Another outbreak of boxcutter terrorism may provide an answer.

All things considered I am safer in a world where the US has a vast superiority in large scale arms than I am in the one many seem to want where we stand disarmed and impotent.

I doubt the South Koreans or Japanese would agree to your simple minded thesis: A nuclear exchange involving the US, North Korea with the latter using atomic weapons on Japan and South Korea, let alone the US, in the process, is a war we could "win"--save the hundreds of thousands to millions who will die or for the worldwide economic collapse that would follow. A vast superiority in large scale arms is not going to solve the North Korean crisis.
posted by y2karl at 9:18 AM on March 18, 2003


I have to say I think it's incredibly stupid to put out this kind of article on the eve of war. No one knows what will happen, this is the kind of analysis that helps people make their mind up well before the war starts.
posted by cell divide at 9:26 AM on March 18, 2003


The Iraqi people, it can be argued, are already paying a hefty price - starvation, oppression, rape and murder.

I can't believe that Bush can keep a straight face while using this moral argument - it's doublespeak, bare-faced cheek.

In his speech yesterday he referred to Saddam's gassing of the Kurds - while the rest of the world stands in front of the TV and shouts: "Yes and Rumsfeld sold him them." Do you think he thinks we forgot?
posted by niceness at 9:26 AM on March 18, 2003


"Because there is no milkman in techgnollogic's analogy, war in Iraq will increase Islamist terrorism" is a crap argument.
posted by techgnollogic at 9:29 AM on March 18, 2003


Containment did not work because the political situation it created in the Gulf (an unpredicatable Iraq defying the international community, US forces based to contain Iraq, and the complete destruction of Iraq's physical and and human resources due to the effects of sanction) created a political environment that has been skillfully exploited by radicals.

Never forget that the "starvation" and continued "bombing" of Iraq due to sanctions and no-fly zones, not to mention the basing of US troops on Saudi soil and hence in the nation of Mecca, were prime reasons cited by Bin Laden to justify his continued attacks against the west.

Not only do Iraq's WMDs have to be dealt with, but the festering sore Iraq has placed on Middle East politics has to be dealt with as well.

The same people who say, give containment a chance now, like the French, were actively doing all they could to undermine the containment regime during the 1990s.

Either Hussein needs to be dealt with or not. A middle ground of saying "we would like to deal with him, but not in any messy way" doesn't hold water, because the alternative proposed to war, agressive containment, has already been shown to cause enormous problems.

Never forget that the civilian casualties projected for a war with Iraq equal about six months deaths under Hussein's brutal rule and the sanction regime.
posted by pjgulliver at 9:30 AM on March 18, 2003


Do you think he thinks we forgot?

No one has forgotten. But we should leave them suffer today, and tomorrow, because the moral argument as to why they suffering and justifiation for ending it is specious? In the end: sins of commission versus sins of omission - which are worse?
posted by UncleFes at 9:37 AM on March 18, 2003


Turkey Shoot -= How Bush made enemies of our allies.

There are no double-blind studies in diplomacy, so we can never know for certain if a president's strategy for a given crisis is wise or if a different one might have worked better. Occasionally, however, history throws up a comparison that is so apt that it can serve as a pretty reasonable test. If, for instance, you want to know whether the collapse of George W. Bush's efforts to gain international support for war on Iraq is the inevitable result of difficult circumstances and intransigent allies or a fundamentally flawed strategy, consider the following comparison.

For months, the administration has been trying to gain permission from the government of Turkey, a NATO ally, to use that country as a base of operations for an Iraq war. In 1999, the Clinton administration asked the same thing of Greece, also a NATO ally, in the run-up to the war in Kosovo. In both countries, over 90 percent of the public opposed the war in question. Both countries also legitimately worried about being destabilized by a flood of refugees—for Turks, Kurds from Iraq; for Greeks, Albanians from Kosovo. And both countries were being asked to take part in wars against co-religionists—Serbs, like Greeks, are predominantly Orthodox Christians; Iraqis, like Turks, are mostly Muslim. Yet the Clinton administration succeeded in getting Greek support, while the Bush administration has so far failed to bring the Turks on board. Indeed, the Turks have refused even to commit to allowing U.S. planes to fly over Turkish airspace, a potentially serious blow to U.S. war plans.

What explains the different outcomes in Turkey and Greece? After all, it's not as if getting Turkey to support a war on Iraq is an inherently harder sell than getting Greeks to support war in Kosovo. If anything, the opposite is true. Public opinion is actually more anti-American in Greece than in Turkey. The Turkish government has always been the more cooperative, thanks to the strong influence of its pro-U.S. military. Turkey never threatened to eject NATO bases from its soil, as Greece did in the 1980s, and Turkey cooperates much more closely with America's ally Israel than does Greece. Moreover, Greeks sympathized openly with the Serbs who controlled Kosovo, whereas Turks have little sympathy for the Arabs who run Iraq.

...George H.W. Bush worked sincerely and energetically to put together an international war coalition and succeeded; Bill Clinton worked sincerely and energetically to put together an international war coalition and succeeded; and George W. Bush worked grudgingly and sporadically to do the same and failed.

posted by y2karl at 9:53 AM on March 18, 2003


Now we shall wait and see whether we are throwing a bucket of water or gasoline on a raging fire.
posted by y2karl at 9:55 AM on March 18, 2003


The war will most likely go smoothly (the media will ignore the large amounts of dead on the Iraqi side) for the Americans, it is the aftermath that is more dangerous. I don't think anyone who has seriously analyzed the war does not believe that the Iraqis will be willing to die en masse for Saddam. I guess it comes down to how skillfully the military can avoid civilian casualties, which will not be ignored by the rest of the world's medias. But anyway the point is that the actual fighting should go smoothly, it's the reconstruction and occupation which will be more of a challenge.
posted by cell divide at 9:59 AM on March 18, 2003


from y2karl's linked article:

Alliances give less powerful countries some feeling of control over the military power of larger partners. That, in turn, gives the lesser country's elected officials reason to support (and cover for supporting) the alliance's majority decisions—decisions usually orchestrated by the big boys.

So you can't just say "hey ally, I need a favor..." and get it. You have to kiss your ally's ass and make him feel important first, and then he'll cooperate? An ALLY? And it's our fault if we don't butter them up? Fuck that...
posted by techgnollogic at 10:15 AM on March 18, 2003


In context:

The decisive difference, I think, has to do with the basic war strategies of the two administrations. Unlike Clinton, who acted through an existing alliance, NATO, Bush from the beginning has rejected relying on existing international bodies in favor of waging war through a "coalition of the willing." That approach, however, makes it harder to win over reluctant partners because it puts their elected officials in a less tenable position. Turkish politicians are essentially being asked to defy popular will in order to support the dictates of a more powerful country, the United States. Greek politicians were asked to defy their voters not for the sake of relations with the United States—if that were the case, they'd never have done it—but in support of NATO, an alliance in which Greece has a vote, and therefore power.

The difference is crucial. Alliances give less powerful countries some feeling of control over the military power of larger partners. That, in turn, gives the lesser country's elected officials reason to support (and cover for supporting) the alliance's majority decisions—decisions usually orchestrated by the big boys. This largely explains why France supported war in Kosovo but balks at war in Iraq. (It's not just a question of location.) While French politicians are a bit keener these days to throw their weight around thanks, among other things, to waning French influence in an enlarging European Union, France is still pretty much the same prickly pain-in-the-ass country it was five years ago. Then, as now, France was worried about attacking a criminal regime (Serbia) with which it enjoyed economic and historical ties. Then, as now, it was highly suspicious of U.S. military power and had ways to check that power—in Kosovo through its vote in NATO, in Iraq through its seat on the U.N. Security Council. It even has the same president, Jacques Chirac. Yet Clinton won Chirac's support, while Bush has gotten only his veto threat. Why? At least in part because, from Day 1, Bush has said he's going act as he sees fit regardless of how the United Nations votes. By so doing, he not only put Chirac in the same political position as he did the Turkish MPs; worse, he created a constituency for France's view of the world, that American hegemony is the real problem.

posted by y2karl at 10:28 AM on March 18, 2003


Short form:

Turkish politicians are essentially being asked to defy popular will in order to support the dictates of a more powerful country, the United States. Greek politicians were asked to defy their voters not for the sake of relations with the United States—if that were the case, they'd never have done it—but in support of NATO, an alliance in which Greece has a vote, and therefore power.

You seem to have confused democratic ally with client slave state, technognollic. We offered Turkey $26 billion and they balked. Why? Democracies have constituencies.

NATO is not the Warsaw Pact--it's not like we're the world's new Soviet Union. Well, now that I think about it...
posted by y2karl at 10:42 AM on March 18, 2003


You can't compare a war of humanitarian intervention with a war of preemption. The first is an effort to stop a ongoing tragedy, the second is to prevent a future one - a much harder sell.

Also, 1/5th of the Greek population wasn't Kosovar, and they hadn't just finished a 10 year civil war against them, facts that do describe Turkey and the Kurds.

So the two situations are not comparable.

But there is a situatiosn that is comparable - that of the Iraq crises of Dec. '98.

The writer does not mention the Clinton approach to that. Rhetorically, Clinton's position was indistinguishable from Bush's. But he choose not to take decisive action because the allies would not support it. He tried and failed.

So he's blaming Bush for failing to get support for what Clinton couldn't get support for, and using a phony contrast to boot.

This is dishonest.

What is saddest of all is that 90% of the Greek population opposed the war - knowing that the alternative was not 'peace' but was in fact the genocide of hundreds of thousands of their nextdoor neighbors.

Alliances exist not to give smaller nations 'control', but to serve their interests. Some of our allies have in interest in preserving thje regime of Saddam Hussein, and so the alliance is fractured.

How come the writer doesn't ask that question - why are others willing to destroy the alliance to preserve Saddam?
posted by Jos Bleau at 10:50 AM on March 18, 2003


y2karl: I'm on your side but this is a bad analogy. The Greek government was coerced into a half hearted "logistical support" of the Kosovo war. The population viewed (and still views- correctly in my view) the whole enterprise as a crime against humanity. The Greek government was coerced by the threat of even larger US support to Turkey. Turkey will be coerced by similar blackmail (if the really brave opposition of some of its parliamentarians falls tonight).
In other words, Greece is much more of a US protectorate than Turkey is. In both cases its about forcing a government to act against its own interests and against the will of its people. Something that the author thinks is OK. I don't believe so.
Plus of course the article presupposes that both USA governments were striving for good (false in my view) and its just a question of bad diplomacy... I couldn't disagree more.
posted by talos at 10:51 AM on March 18, 2003


y2karl:

The piece on Slate was excellent, and no doubt a good analysis of some of the failures of the Bush administration.

However, there were huge failures on the parts of different European allies as well.

And to me, there comes a point when you have to question the effectiveness of alliances were allies do not automatically support you, but rather, openly object in the strongest terms to what you describe as a clear and present danger. France and Germany did not initiate a diplomatic process in which they said "America, we agree that Saddam is a threat and we need to confront him but military action might not be the best way." Instead, starting with the German election campaign, US policy has been painted by European leaders in the worst possible light, and these leaders, rather than attempting to work with the United States, have actively opposed it, and not offered any genuine counter proposals.

In a way, this situation is similar to the furor surrounding Kyoto, with the roles reveresed. In Kyoto, an issue Europeans felt strongly about was brought to fore of international politics, and the Bush administration paid no attention to its allies and actively opposed their efforts with no attempt at real compromise. I don't see how what the Europeans have done now is any different.

That makes us both wrong.

But, at the end of the day, a lot of very serious people see Hussein as a threat to world peace (in multiple, different ways, which is why the rationale for war seems confusing to some.) So can't we pull together, stop this squabbling, and deal with the problem?
posted by pjgulliver at 10:54 AM on March 18, 2003


No, I mistook the term "ally" to mean "cooperative friend." Tony Blair stands by our side in opposition to British public opinion. He is a true ally. Those impeding the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in deference to the tide of public opinion while claiming to represent their own nations' interests are undeserving of the responsibility and authority they so selfishly and short-sightedly wield.
posted by techgnollogic at 10:55 AM on March 18, 2003


Tony Blair stands by our side in opposition to British public opinion. He is a true ally.
You must be kidding. Would you support a US president that stands by Britain in direct opposition to American public opinion? Or is it not the same?
Those impeding the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in deference to the tide of public opinion while claiming to represent their own nations' interests are undeserving of the responsibility and authority they so selfishly and short-sightedly wield.
So it's bad for democratic governments to be deferent to their public opinions? And they just "claim to represent" the their own nations interests? Does the US government know better what my interests are than I do? And how dare you suggest that a government I or anyone else elected doesn't have to yield to our passionate opinion. Is selfishness according to you not obeying the Bush administration?
Apologists for imperialism are become more and more offensive.
posted by talos at 11:11 AM on March 18, 2003


No, I say it is selfish to pander to public opinion in hopes of reelection, instead of facing the threat posed by Islamist fundamentalism despite what the polls show. Surely, you do not believe a government's actions are right simply because they enjoy the support of public opinion.
posted by techgnollogic at 11:22 AM on March 18, 2003


Talos, you forget that Parliament is continuing to support Blair, even if some in his own party desert him.

And centuries of political theory have made lent support to the theory that governments need to be formed that reflect public opinion but are not completely ruled by it. Hence having electoral cycles rather than major elections every year or month. Representative government.....try reading about it.

If the situation in the UK was as polarized as you say, there would have been a no-confidence vote in Blair by now.
posted by pjgulliver at 11:24 AM on March 18, 2003


With all the steam and venom that passes for debate around here lately, I have yet to hear a single workable, practical, realistic alternative to addressing this problem.

Here's one that was discussed recently.
posted by homunculus at 11:24 AM on March 18, 2003


facing the threat posed by Islamist fundamentalism

Hmm I seem to recall that virtually every government in the world stood up and assisted with this fight, including the evildoers in France, Russia, and Germany.
posted by cell divide at 11:33 AM on March 18, 2003


No, I say it is selfish to pander to public opinion in hopes of reelection, instead of facing the threat posed by Islamist fundamentalism.
Saddam may be a lot of things but an Islamic Fundamentalist he is not. In fact he has probably killed more Islamic fundamentalists then anyone alive right now.
pjgulliver: I'm not referring just to Britain where there is a more even split in opinions. I'm adressing techgnologic's disdain for "public opinion" especially when opposed to US policy. A government needs to hear what the people are saying especially on an issue as important as war. Public opinion while maybe not the only determining factor should be one of the most important especially when (as in Spain) it's a vast majority that opposes its policy. Democratic governments must be responsive.
posted by talos at 11:43 AM on March 18, 2003


I never said Saddam was an Islamic Fundamentalist.
posted by techgnollogic at 11:47 AM on March 18, 2003


Removing him from power is the next step towards destroying the roots of Islamist terrorism.
posted by techgnollogic at 11:52 AM on March 18, 2003


See, techngno-no, those are the kinds of comments, the ones without warrants, that get you into trouble. Care to explain how that 'next step towards destroying the roots of Islamist terrorism' works? And while you're at it, I'd love to hear your theory as to what the 'root' of that terrorist impulse is, pretty please?

Random aside, talos is becoming my hero. "Apologists for imperialism are become more and more offensive" is the best line of the thread so far :)
posted by hank_14 at 12:04 PM on March 18, 2003


Seems that any post dealing with Iraq gets some 50% pro-war and another 50% anti--and both sides convinced they are right. And this seems pretty much a reflection of American views too. The issue that needs exploration (since all this is but hypothetical) is what after the war? The UN? France and America? Rebuilding? The EU? andof course we do not know but this is to be the future. the war is now inevitable since Saddam does not want to give up a nice job and try a new careeer elsewhere.
posted by Postroad at 12:05 PM on March 18, 2003


What you said was that other nations do not want to 'face the threat of islamic fundamentalism.' This is patently untrue, they just disagree that killing thousands of Iraqis in order to remove one man, a man who has previously shown very little interest in the Islamic route, will actually be the first step in creating new roots of terror.

So argue tactics all you want, but bysaying that other nations simply do not want to face terrorism, you are implying that their committment to fighting terror is lacking, when in reality they simply have a different approach.
posted by cell divide at 12:09 PM on March 18, 2003


But, at the end of the day, a lot of very serious people see Hussein as a threat to world peace (in multiple, different ways, which is why the rationale for war seems confusing to some.) So can't we pull together, stop this squabbling, and deal with the problem?

Those very serious people have largely failed to convince the people they represent that their opinions are correct or that their motives are honourable. We are pulling together, stopping our squabbling, and trying as best we can to deal with the problem; this is why you have seen the largest anti-war demonstrations in decades.

The biggest danger right now to my life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness lives not in Baghdad but in Washington. The evidence put forth to convince us otherwise has been pathetic and embarassing. The attempt at an international consensus was transparently self-serving and obviously not taken in earnest. This latest round of solemnity is no more credible than the last.

Of course the very serious people have the power to do whatever they like, even when that is counter to the will of the people they are supposed to represent. Neither the U.S. nor the U.K. are a democracy, after all: but both are run on democratic principles, and the politicians who have so wretchedly failed to communicate with their constituents will eventually have to pay the price.
posted by Mars Saxman at 12:14 PM on March 18, 2003


http://denbeste.nu/cd_log_entries/2002/09/Whoisourenemy.shtml
and
http://denbeste.nu/cd_log_entries/2002/09/Arabtraditionalism.shtml

Cell Divide: A different approach that has failed for 12 years. And no one wants to kill thousands of Iraqis.
posted by techgnollogic at 12:18 PM on March 18, 2003


Yes cell divide, there are real disagreements.

But countries that refuse diplomatic offers EVEN BEFORE IRAQ and that absolutely refuse to consider legeslating the use of force clearly are making a statement that the Hussein regime is just not that dangerous.

That may sound obvious, but it leads to an interesting issue. What we are debating here than is not really the "tactics" of dealing with Hussein, but the belief that Hussein has to be dealt with in some proactive manner.

Those who don't see Hussein as a threat never will, while those who do are fed up with trying to convince others.

The only thing that will settle this argument is the evidence that emerges from Iraq after a conflict. If large WMD stores are found, along with links to terrorism, than those nations, like France, which refused to see Hussein as a credible threat, will be discredited.

However, if nothing, or very little, is discovered, the US will be accused, perhaps justly, of commiting a crime.

At this point, a debate over means is meaningless. It comes down to a judgement call. If, in one's judgement, Hussein poses a real threat, than force must be an option, and, in many people opinion, and option who's time has come. Only if you truly believe that Hussein is not a threat can you justify the position of nations which have unilaterally ruled out the use of force.
posted by pjgulliver at 12:18 PM on March 18, 2003


techgnollogic: Huh?

Look, this is all really simple, well stupid really. Bush W is invading a country without any provocation. He's doing it unilaterally. He withdrew the UN resolution so he could say the UN isn't against US aggression.

We will win the war. We will lose the peace.

Why don't you believe invading Iraq is going to cause more terrorism? The CIA does. Tom Ridge upped the fruit-flavored warning up to orange. Iraqis will want to attack us. Al Qaeda will use the invasion to inflame other islamic fundamentalists.

Buy some duct-tape and bottled water. This shits about to hit the fan. It's best if you stop deluding yourself and prepare for what little of a future awaits us.

And in the end, Bush will be the unelected leader of two countries.
posted by elwoodwiles at 12:21 PM on March 18, 2003


France's ambassador to the United States, Jean-David Levitte, said Tuesday that his country might re-think its position on war with Iraq if Saddam were to use biological or chemical weapons against coalition forces.

I don't think that all of the country's that oppose the last UN moot are against stopping Mr. Hussein, not even with force. The United States unfortunatly weakened its own case with bad diplomacy. This doesn't mean to say that the actions our case calls for are wrong, just that we didn't put them on the table for other nations appropriately.

I wonder what would happen if the above information would prove correct. If chemical/biological weapons were use, would France see it as a chance to save face, would the US see it as a chance to further justify whatever they will be doing?

The war is going to happen regardless. It will be interesting what facts are uncovered after it is over.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 12:31 PM on March 18, 2003


Okay, I'm in a bad mood, but I don't understand why anyone believes the war will uncover any "facts." The US will "find" the evidence it needs to justify its position. The only way I'd believe the US position is if (I hope this doesn't happen) Iraq uses bio/chem weapons. Anything we find in some bunker is probably going to be just as believable as Powell's vial of fake anthrax or the computer generated picture show he used at his failed UN speech. "History is written by the victors," is it not? If we'd let an objective inspection regime investigate, then we might have found uncontestable evidence. War, on the other hand, will prove nothing.
posted by elwoodwiles at 12:55 PM on March 18, 2003


Paranoid Cynics: The Civilized World's Last Remaining Hope???
posted by techgnollogic at 1:06 PM on March 18, 2003


techgnollogic:

You're an idiot. That is all.
posted by delmoi at 1:10 PM on March 18, 2003


If the situation in the UK was as polarized as you say, there would have been a no-confidence vote in Blair by now.

That's a quacking canard which shows pjgulliver's ignorance of British politics. As will be demonstrated in the next elections.
posted by riviera at 1:11 PM on March 18, 2003


Well, Riviera, why don't you attempt to explain rather than just insult? I apologize for my lack of knowledge about British politics.

Elwoodwiles, your post deserves no response. Techgnollogic lowered his intelligence by even attempting to respond to you. Move to Montanna.
posted by pjgulliver at 1:41 PM on March 18, 2003


Does anyone really believe that the US will invade Iraq, find nothing and then admit it? There might be WMD in Iraq, there might not. All I'm saying is that war will be a poor way of determining the facts on the ground. The world community was working on a means to determine the facts. The US has undermined anyway of really knowing anything but what they tell us. The government has more reason to lie then expose facts that hurt its standing.

Montanna is pretty nice, but I'm thinking somewhere alittle less populated.
posted by elwoodwiles at 1:50 PM on March 18, 2003


What country will be next. I wonder. Because hey, terrorism doesn't end with Hussein, now does it? So what will it be? Iran? Saudi? Egypt? Syria? Pakistan? Libya?

Yes, and all of them. Either you don't fight, or you fight to win. The worst thing you can do is to injure an enemy, and then leave him to recuperate. The US "War on Terror" started after 9/11, and from what I can tell, they probably won't stop until the entire lot is "democratized".

If history is any guide, let's look at what happened in WWII. Germany hardly had anything to do with Pearl Habour. So did the US bomb the shit out of Japan and then leave Germany alone? No, because it would be nuts if they did that. In fact, I believe the first place in Europe they attaced was Morocco - innocent enough in the eyes of American citizens, but they were invaded anyway because the exist in a strategically important location.

Once you start it, finish it.

Same thing's happening with Iraq now. Saddam has hardly anything to do with Al Qaeda, but then war might be justified if you consider the overall picture. War on Terror will only end (according to US) when the entire region is revamped, and Iraq serves as an important staging ground for their next invasion.

The whole fiasco about the WMD only serves to make it politically possible (sort of) for Bush to attack. But that isn't his real reason. War with Iraq should be looked at as a part of a larger war, and it cannot be understood in isolation.
posted by VeGiTo at 1:51 PM on March 18, 2003


VeGiTo, well put. That is indeed why some many have real problems with this war. Because it is about WMD to some degree, but its about a lot more too.

Elwoodwiles..sorry I snapped. I like to be argumentative in my comments but dismissive. I apologize.

Of course you are right, the US would not make a huge "I'm sorry, turns out there aren't any WMD after all" comment immediately.

However, I am convinced that because there are many other nations who will be invovled on the ground, either during combat or post combat, as well as a flood of UN people immediately after conflict, including, probably, the same inspectors who have just left, that the world will be able to know, to some degree of certainty, what the situation in regards to WMD really was in Iraq.

I guess I just find it a little insulting to believe that the with the world's attention fixed on Iraq, there will not be somewhat independent means to verify what reports eminate from US forces.
posted by pjgulliver at 1:58 PM on March 18, 2003


Damn. That sentence should have read "but NOT dismissive."

I need to actually read before I post.
posted by pjgulliver at 1:59 PM on March 18, 2003


pjgulliver: It's cool. I am being cynical and paranoid. I'm just deeply troubled and disappointed about the events of the last few days. My government is behaving like the rogue nations it claims to oppose, and it's driving me up the wall. I hope you're right, however, and the US decides to let other countries independently witness what is happening in Iraq as the war begins. If the UN, or some other group of independent countries sign off on what the US finds in Iraq, I will be given good reason to believe the evidence. If the US acts unilaterally and attempts to show evidence without any context, I will have trouble believing that the war was ever justified.
posted by elwoodwiles at 2:06 PM on March 18, 2003


/Meta: I know this is impossible, but wouldn't it be cool to select one thread to be the war thread, rather then posting a new one each day? That way we could all scream and yell at one another without pissing on the front page. Instead of posting a comment like "I hate stupid war threads" post a link to this thread like discuss war here. Or maybe to another thread that isn't titled "idiot prince."/meta.
posted by elwoodwiles at 2:29 PM on March 18, 2003


UncleFes asks: "what are the ... actual pragmatic alternatives to war?"

How about a pragmatic alternative to starting the war in 24 hours? "More inspections" was never touted as the permanent solution. The main justification used for war is WMD (since there are many equally atrocious dictators not on the axis of evil list). Why not let inspectors find the WMD? Why would anyone be against finding the proof? The coalition-building would be trivial, the hawks could still have their war, everyone would retain their moral certainty.

Maybe the longer the inspectors search and don't find WMD, the harder it would be to justify a war. And so it should be, if they don't exist. Who but a warmonger would oppose finding hard proof on WMD.
posted by mediaddict at 2:33 PM on March 18, 2003


pjgulliver - I would generally agree with you that the world will learn much of the truth about the extent of the Iraqi WMD threat. But........I think that, should the threat be less than was hyped, the Bush administration will, squid like, squirt out a thick black cloud of spin and manufactured disinformation to obscure the emerging truth. It may also choose to "wag the dog" and emphasize the connections (probably far more substantial than in the case of Iraq) between Iran and terrorist groups, and also Iran's significant push for nuclear weapons. And so the question of the reality, or level, of the Iraqi WMD threat will disappear from American mass consciousness, to be replaced with yet another looming, terrifying threat.

I haven't heard this discussed much, if at all, either on Metafilter or in the US media (but for my post a few days ago, and Hollywood screenwriters and Tom Clancy types pay attention to this also) but huge WMD stocks - nuclear weapons, plutonium, uranium, bioweapons agents, chemical weapons - are lying about in poorly defended heaps (so to speak) within the confines of the ex-Soviet Union. These WMD stocks constitute the really significant "loose WMD" threat - above, in all likelihood, the possibility that North Korea or rogue elements of the Pakistani military might give nuclear weapons to terrorists.
posted by troutfishing at 2:42 PM on March 18, 2003


Meanwhile, Reynolds reminds us not to forget the home front:

       Many libertarians oppose war because they fear that it will bring a steep price in lost civil liberties. Personally, I think that a short, decisive war is less likely to harm civil liberties than a long twilight struggle, and I believe that a sense of helplessness against terrorism would be the thing most likely to produce repressive measures at home.
       
       But whether you agree with me or not on that subject doesn’t matter, in a way, because it’s pretty obvious that, barring a miracle of some sort, we’ll be at war shortly. And my next advice is equally applicable to war supporters and opponents: Keep your eye on the civil-liberties ball, and don’t be distracted.
       
       I predicted on September 11 itself (and in this column just a couple of days afterward) that bureaucrats would take advantage of 9/11 to slip through items that had been on their wishlists for years, and they did. There’s now a “USA Patriot II” bill floating around in draft form. I wouldn’t be surprised to see someone try to slip it through Congress while everyone’s attention is on the war.

posted by homunculus at 2:48 PM on March 18, 2003


I've already said, and I'll state again, this war isn't about the WMD, so it doesn't matter if they find any, or if they pose a big immediate risk, or if Soviet Union has a bigger loose WMD threat.

The War started with Taliban, and it ain't gonna stop until every single corrupted Islam regime is removed. The US wants to remake the whole Arab culture - that's their real goal. WMD is just a convenient excuse for the masses that are us to hear.
posted by VeGiTo at 2:51 PM on March 18, 2003


If history is any guide, let's look at what happened in WWII. Germany hardly had anything to do with Pearl Habour. So did the US bomb the shit out of Japan and then leave Germany alone? No, because it would be nuts if they did that.

First off, let's get our history straight. The U.S. didn't "leave Germany alone" primarily because Germany, shortly after Pearl Harbor, declared war on the U.S. And within months, of course, U-boats were sinking American shipping in droves off the Atlantic coast.

Second off, will someone please explain to me the current danger of Saddam Hussein as a "real threat" to his neighbors? Hussein is 65 years old and on the downside of his political career; how is it that we think, now, that he is somehow sitting in Baghdad plotting to march into Turkey or Kuwait again or Iran?

I suppose I just fail to see the logic in launching a preemptive war that could in theory go on for decades in half a dozen or more countries and will very likely increase the very thing - terrorist attacks - that we are supposedly going to war to prevent.
posted by kgasmart at 2:52 PM on March 18, 2003


The U.S. didn't "leave Germany alone" primarily because Germany, shortly after Pearl Harbor, declared war on the U.S.

War declaration is a formality that terrorists , and the states that fund them, don't particularly follow, and I doubt in will be in the interest of the Americans to wait for a declaration of war before dealing with every threat they encounter.
posted by VeGiTo at 3:04 PM on March 18, 2003


VeGiTo: You make your argument well. The thought that the US wants to change the Arab world, however, scares me more then anything else. How are we supposed to change the Arab world without becoming imperialist? And if our motivations are to change the Arab world, aren't we really fighting a war against Islam itself? Aren't there better ways to change regions without balls-out invasions? We want to change China, so we opened up trade with China. We figured that the Chinese would want prosperity and would move to reform themselves. Our China policy is slowly (slower then ideal) working. Why not apply this to Islamic countries?

If the issue isn't WMD and the government is only using the WMD issue since it is easy for Americans to understand, what is that saying about our governments belief in Americans?
posted by elwoodwiles at 3:16 PM on March 18, 2003


VeGiTo: thanks for proving my "who but a warmonger would not want proof" point. Without Iraqi WMD, the US popular support wouldn't be there (my guess); if the WMD is just a convenient excuse, the US may be pulled into war that the people don't actually want. Not really the democratic ideal we claim to be fighting for, is it?

on preview - what elwoodwiles said.
posted by mediaddict at 3:20 PM on March 18, 2003


Elwoodwiles:

I believe the WMD issue is important. I'm terrified of WMD. I have many friends who work in intelligence, and some in less military policy/research installations like Los Alamos or even Brookings. These are people who, previous to entering this field, had a huge variety of views and covered all parts of the ideological spectrum. They still do. But the one thing they agree on is that the WMD threat is real and it is severe.

Now, saying the WMD threat is real is not saying that Saddam poses an immediate threat to the US, and is currently planning to destroy us. He's not. No one who is serious believes this. But what absolutely frightens people about Hussein and any WMD he may possess is that his regime IS DYING. Hussein will continue to lose power, his populace will continue to starve, and radical Islam will continue to use the abusive situation in Iraq as a rallying cry.

But what happens the day Hussein dies, or is overthrown? Undoubtedly either chaos would rein, or one of his sons would cease power for brief period of time. People are worried about ethnic tension and retributive violence in a post-war Iraq with the US military in place as a clear hegemon. Imagine the dislocation if Hussein's regime was allowed to die of "natural causes." Suddenly, any WMD in possession of the Iraqi regime would be either under the control of his psychotic and unpredictable sums, or it would be essentially on an open market in a chaotic post-Hussein Iraq. This vision terrifies me. And saying, why not wait till he dies and then go in, is no answer. Yugoslavia and Somalia have proved conclusively the difficulties of intervening in the midst of a civil war. The safest course to neutralize this threat is to act now.

This of course ignores the possibility of Hussein acquiring nuclear weapons, which would change any strategic balance in the Middle East dramatically. Israel possess nuclear weapons but has shown no real desire to dominate the region, or at least the oil-producing parts of the region. Iran with a nuclear weapon is a scary though, but the Iranian government is at least somewhat responsive to its populace, and therefore is unlikely to be able to use nuclear weapons in an overtly aggressive or threatening manner. Hussein has no such limits on his ambition. A nuclear Hussein should be avoided at all costs. He has shown a clear desire to possess nuclear weapons and that constitutes a threat.

Of course, there is a moral consideration of the Iraqi people to be considered as well. Yes, there are many horrible regimes in the world that should be done away with, but in reality, Hussein's, if not the worst, is damn near the bottom. Additionally, the suffering he imposes on his own people has been perverted in perception to serve as a regional rallying cry against America, and was used as a justification by Bin Laden of the Sept 11 attacks. There is a moral case to made for war.

There is also a geopolitical case at the philosophical level. The last fifty years have indicated that in regions lacking traditions of democracy, individual rights, and free-market ideology (which is the world's proven fastest way to raise populations out of poverty) a military commitment is usually required to enforce changes. South Korea, Japan, Germany, the Balkans, even British India, long the most developed of the crown colonies, reflect this. The Middle East is simply to important strategically to let it languish any longer. There is a case to be made that it is vital to global security to modernize this region, and that replacing the Hussein regime is the best way to start. Now this theory doesn't call for the violent overthrow of all regional governments. Rather, this theory posits that the positive example of a free(r) Iraq would act as a beacon, and create positive, peaceful, revolutionary forces throughout the region.

I think all of the reasons are valid reason to follow our current national policy. Would any of the reasons be enough on its own to initiate action? Maybe, maybe not. But decisions are shaped by the confluence of competing and complementary events and perceptions. To criticize those of us in favor of current policy by saying that we "continually change our arguments" is to ignore the complexity of the issue.

Sorry, that wasn't really in response to anyone in particular, but a general comment.
posted by pjgulliver at 3:44 PM on March 18, 2003


pjgulliver: Good comment. I may not be as well stated, but I'll give it a try.

That's the first time I've heard the 'dying regime' theory. Its pretty sound when I think of it. unfortunately it would also apply to Pakistan, a nation which will become increasingly unstable once the War in Iraq begins. Pakistan has the bomb, as we all know, but what if our invasion of Iraq sets off a revolt in Pakistan? Al Qaeda gets nukes.

Also, we all know N Korea has nuclear weapons. The fear there is not that the North will use them on anyone, but will sell them to the highest bidder. I believe this is how Pakistan achieved nuclear status.

My point is that invading Iraq will not stop proliferation of WMD, but may, inversely cause more nations to seek nuclear capability. Iran, for example, hasn't been particularly belligerent, but once their borders are threatened they will mobilize quickly to create a deterrent against a future US invasion.

Invading Iraq, as some seem to be saying, is really about invading the Middle East as a whole. Many Middle Eastern governments who have been trying to move toward more moderate forms will be forced to militarize by inflamed and radical populations who will feel directly threatened by the US incursion into their region.

I fear invading Iraq will lead to more radicalism in the middle east, not less. I also fear the the war will lead to more totalitarianism as weak governments like Pakistan's struggle to retain control. And, finally, I fear the war will lead to terrorist attacks by radicals who feel the only way to oppose the US is to use the same means the US uses against them: violence.
posted by elwoodwiles at 4:08 PM on March 18, 2003


It appears that some of you are doing the heavy lifting, intellectually and ideologically speaking, for the administration. Plans to take Iraq by force were on the table well before anyone thought that Islamic Fundamentalists would be able to inflict damage on the United States. All Bush had to do is make a passing reference that the two might collaborate, despite all rational evidence to the contrary, and people are leaping all over the place trying to make it so! Congratulations, at least you have put more effort into your studies than he has. You are putting way too much intellectual effort into trying to justify something that has been on the books for years-- Saddam is megarich, but weak, and a total asshole with hardly any friends. Taking over the country will be a massive economic windfall for many companies, and will set the Republicans apart for many years as the party that will be bold and aggressive on foreign policy, increasingly the most important aspect in people's minds as globalization moves faster.

Those of you who make the case that Iraq needs to be destroyed and then rebuilt in order to make a shining beacon for the rest of the middle east, and then compare it to Germany and Japan are in a dream world. You seem to be forgetting that Germany and Japan created massive war machines and attempted to dominate the world. Not only has this not happened in the Middle East, it could never happen, and will never happen. If 15 Japanese had Kamikazed their way into Pearl Harbor, and did not have the backing the Japense Government, would it make sense to declare war on South Korea and turn them into a democracy? Of course not. The way to build up the Middle East, which has become more Americanized in the past 10 years than perhaps any other place on earth in that time-frame, is to engage it and encourage the reformers. Unless the war goes incredibly, almost impossibly well (and unlike some I do see that potential and hold out a sliver of hope), it will be a huge set-back and not advancement for the death of extremism.

And who are these "state sponsors of terror"? I only see regional players funding guerilla groups fighting for land, something that our own government is no stranger to. There is no state sponsor of world-wide terror, it is funded by private individuals who live all over the world including the United States. State sponsorship of global terror? So far the closest thing is Afghanistan, and in that case the terrorists were the sponsors.

And if I see one more goddamn link to "SDB," a man who is well-suited to writing about military aircraft but not, for the love of god, human beings, especially people he has never met and has no intention of ever actually talking to.
posted by cell divide at 4:43 PM on March 18, 2003


pjgulliver: you are saying that the only way to peace (in this case) is through war, or is it just the most direct way? Very 1984. So many of the previous US interventions have blown back, you'd have to have really rose-colored glasses to think this will work out well in the end.

I say attempt the admirable goal of democratizing the region from a principled approach: don't sell weapons to both sides of a conflict; denounce gassing/atrocity/etc immediately after it happens; make democratic milestones a precondition to trade, etc. Heh, it's no more naive than thinking war is peace.

on preview - I type way too slow.
posted by mediaddict at 4:59 PM on March 18, 2003


Listen. This war is coming and most of you won't even feel the consequences. This is what is happening over here at the European South East: we're waiting (according to estimates) for half to one million refugees pouring out from a devastated Iraq, and that's if Turkey doesn't attack Northern Kurdistan. These people (mostly but not only Iraqi Kurds), at a rate of maybe 100,000 a year, have been paying large sums of money to come to Europe illegally under very dangerous conditions, many (no one knows exactly how many but every few weeks you hear of a boat with Kurds or Afghans sinking in the Aegean) drown or get blown up in the minefields at the Greco-Turkish border. The casualties from the post-attack exodus alone(unless this is somehow curbed- but how will these people survive?) will be immense. Just a few hours ago I saw very politicized Iraqi Kurd refugees on TV being both "against the war" for fear of their families' safety and "against Saddam". Some were hopeful, some were scared shitless. An Arab Iraqi woman that escaped Iraq to come to Europe so that her husband could escape Saddam, is dead scared for her brothers- six of which are drafted and serving in the Iraqi army. This war will devastate the little that is left of a destroyed country.
With the exception of the oil wells and if recent history is some guide (Serbia and Kosovo, Afghanistan), very little will be rebuilt by those that destroy it. The oil wells seem on their way to being de-nationalized. A new corrupt already (Chalabi has been convicted of bank fraud in Jordan) puppet regime, is being groomed for power. But the Shiites at the South and the Kurds on the North see an opportunity to escape the straightjacket that the British colonialists created and named Iraq. There lies trouble. What will an occupation force do in the event of inter-Iraqi strife? Play the referee? Duck? Kill them all and let god sort them out? And what's next?
Because no evil comes unaccompanied by something good, an independent Kurdistan might be born in the process. Probably not though... and Saddam will be gone for certain.
As for the rest of the world, since international lawlessness is now the official policy, might Russia preemptively strike Georgia? India attack Pakistan? Why not? On the real terrorist front, Osama is getting the recruits he wants and will continue to be a problem- I bet he is praying for Iran to be the next target of US aggression- but by now I'm not sure if that the Republican White House isn't hoping this is so.
I was about to add some more lines about the inanity of claiming Saddam is a threat to anyone but his own citizens but cell divide beat me to it- and more concisely than I ever could- thus mercifully ending this mammoth tirade.
posted by talos at 5:25 PM on March 18, 2003


The only thing that will settle this argument is the evidence that emerges from Iraq after a conflict.

No such evidence is necessary. This war is being waged to demonstrate that the US and its creatures can deliver 9/11 on anyone that asks for it.

Iraq is simply the second convenient Muslim country that can be attacked. The freedom of the Iraqi people is a ludicrous excuse.

Of course this unholy mess will create more terrorists. So what? Right-wing Western governments will gladly curtail everyone's civil liberties in the name of counter-terrorism.

Welcome to the bellum Americanum.
posted by emf at 5:35 PM on March 18, 2003


Let's get down to brass tacks:

This global situation has been created out of thin air.

A molecule of H2O in thin air threatens no one, though it is the same substance as a raging ocean. That's what this terrorism thing's about. That's what this war in Iraq is about.

Mass panic. Mass paranoia. A torrent of irrationality. All of which have allowed us to succumb to probably the speediest and wholesale miscarriage of reason Earth has ever known.

If it is true that "We" are threatened by anything at all, it is the actions of the irrational and underinformed citizen, the extremist lurking in every soul which heats up the rest of the beaker and puts us all in danger.

If this were 150 years ago, it would have taken some time for the news of the WTC tragedy to even reach Seattle (for instance) let alone the rest of the world. This relativity naturally lessens the "threat" of this or that on the individual human. Sure, we may live in a different world, more modern, communication at light speed and a time where traveling by airliner is a given. But the human brain has changed not a whit. It has evolved for threats of a much more pedestrian delivery. This is why this is so not black and white, cut and dried.

A squirrel gets crushed by a car in some of the most asinine seeming of ways. The squirrel simply has not evolved the ability, the instinct, to detect a danger of such speed and size on broad surfaces. The squirrel cannot help it.
posted by crasspastor at 5:41 PM on March 18, 2003


If history is any guide, let's look at what happened in WWII. Germany hardly had anything to do with Pearl Habour. So did the US bomb the shit out of Japan and then leave Germany alone?

Germany declared war on the United States on December 11, 1941.

D'oh!

No, because it would be nuts if they did that. In fact, I believe the first place in Europe they attaced was Morocco - innocent enough in the eyes of American citizens, but they were invaded anyway because the exist in a strategically important location.

In the words of Nelson Muntz: ''Ha Ha''

D'oh!
posted by y2karl at 5:52 PM on March 18, 2003


That is why we are witnessing the beginning of what is possibly the most dangerous period in human history.

I think I remember a 3 day weekend in 1971 that was not, according to A Knowledgeable Source, the most dangerous period in human history, up to that point.

I believe that all periods in human history are equally dangerous. If you don't like this one, perhaps the next one will be more to your liking.
posted by groundhog at 6:36 PM on March 18, 2003


But there is a situation that is comparable - that of the Iraq crises of Dec. '98.

The writer does not mention the Clinton approach to that. Rhetorically, Clinton's position was indistinguishable from Bush's. But he choose not to take decisive action because the allies would not support it. He tried and failed.

So he's blaming Bush for failing to get support for what Clinton couldn't get support for, and using a phony contrast to boot.

? This is dishonest.


Clinton was hamstrung by his political enemies who cried wag the dog at any suggestion he do something in the midst of the attempted coup aka impeachment by the Gingrich House of representatives. George W. Bush, in comparison, was given a blank check by Congress to fight terrorism. Invading Iraq is a pet project hatched by chickenhawks long before Bush became president, not fighting terrorism. 9/11 is the fig leaf excuse for invading a country on which did not attack us that day.

...George H.W. Bush worked sincerely and energetically to put together an international war coalition and succeeded... and George W. Bush worked grudgingly and sporadically to do the same and failed.

What is saddest of all is that 90% of the Greek population opposed the war - knowing that the alternative was not 'peace' but was in fact the genocide of hundreds of thousands of their nextdoor neighbors.

Um, the Greeks favored the Serbs. The genocide being committed on the Kosovar Albanians by the Serbs.

Alliances exist not to give smaller nations 'control', but to serve their interests. Some of our allies have in interest in preserving the regime of Saddam Hussein, and so thje alliance is fractured.

How come the writer doesn't ask that question - why are others willing to destroy the alliance to preserve Saddam?

Straw man. Pathetic propagand. Big lie: No one's trying to preserve Saddam and it was the administration that destroyed the alliance no matter how you spin it--as noted in the article:

Yet Clinton won Chirac's support, while Bush has gotten only his veto threat. Why? At least in part because, from Day 1, Bush has said he's going act as he sees fit regardless of how the United Nations votes. By so doing, he not only put Chirac in the same political position as he did the Turkish MPs; worse, he created a constituency for France's view of the world, that American hegemony is the real problem.

Rather than make the most of the extraordinary support the world offered the United States after 9/11, the Bush administration seems almost willfully to have squandered it. In the months after Sept. 11, the administration withdrew from one international agreement after another, from the ABM treaty to the International Criminal Court. It refused NATO's offer of help in Afghanistan, eventually accepting some troops from NATO-member countries but no shared NATO decision-making. Though German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder braved a no-confidence vote to win parliamentary approval to put German combat troops in Afghanistan, he received little thanks from Bush. Nor was he seriously consulted as Bush formulated his Iraq policy, despite (or perhaps because of) growing signs of German discomfort with that policy. Cut out of the loop, Schröder then began to exploit the anti-Iraq war backlash among German voters and become a fierce opponent of Bush on Iraq.

Why did the administration stiff-arm NATO? Partly because administration hawks wanted to act unilaterally in order to lay a precedent for . There is also a related belief, widespread within the administration, that any restraint on the U.S. military's freedom of action is unacceptable. It is certainly the case that trying to get 19 NATO allies to agree on a military plan can be frustrating, as Gen. Wesley Clark, who ran NATO's Kosovo campaign, describes in his book Waging Modern War. "We read your book," Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told Clark shortly after 9/11, "And no one is going to tell us where we can or can't bomb." (Alas, they didn't read it very carefully.)



A day past a week and a year ago, Seymour Hersh was prescient about how this war would be fought:

The President's "axis of evil" language in the State of the Union Message and the steadily expanding American arsenal have prompted many anxious diplomatic inquiries in recent weeks from the Middle East and Europe. One of Cheney's goals will be to explain the U.S. position to allies and attempt to build a coalition for another invasion of Iraq—a daunting task, in the view of many inside and outside the government. The only likely ally at this point is Tony Blair's Britain.

With regard to the attack on Iraq, not everyone on the inside is sure that the President can get what he wants: a successful overthrow with few American casualties and a new, pro-Western regime. "We've got a great way to get it started," a former intelligence official said. "But how do we finish it?" As for Bush's eagerness to get rid of Saddam, he said, "It's a snowball rolling downhill, gaining momentum on its own. It's getting bigger and bigger, but nobody knows what they're going to do."

posted by y2karl at 6:53 PM on March 18, 2003


Elwoodwiles: Thanks. I was hoping someone would write something like that. I'm as conflicted and confused as anyone. All I can hope is that now this is inevitable, that I am right in my analysis of the situation. I may very well be wrong, I believe everything you wrote exists right now on the same plane of probablility as what I posted.

This truly feels like a defining moment. God help us all if our national leadership is wrong on this.
posted by pjgulliver at 8:14 PM on March 18, 2003


Talos: Your insights are fascinating. It confers a different understanding hearing directly from someone closer to the region. Thank you.
posted by pjgulliver at 8:28 PM on March 18, 2003


pjgulliver: I'm as confused and alarmed as anyone. Now, as you rightly say, this is inevitable, I hope you are correct in your assessment. If Bush is right, so be it. If Bush is wrong, he'll have hell to pay from people like me.

you're a good man/woman/internet avatar/whatever and I hope we all end up in good standing when this is over.

God bless.
posted by elwoodwiles at 10:12 PM on March 18, 2003


Once this post moved past the gratuitiously offensive ( "you whining monkeys" ) language of those who could function as deputized vigilantes for Ari Fleischer.......it became fascinating and informative, especially past the "50% text-bulk" point. Thanks to all the commentators.

One final (gratuitious?) point on my part: as one commentator here so well put it, most evil comes with corresponding good. But I suspect that the millions who will suffer in this war (I hesitate to say needlessly) have received less consideration in the calculations of the American Neocons who supplied most of the push for war (Kagan, Kristol, Perle, Wolfowitz, and so on), despite their "Just War" and "Mideast Demcratic renaissance" claims, than Americans accord their domestic cattle destined for the slaughterhouse.

Meanwhile (and I think I'll keep hammering at this point until it becomes meme-like) - The significant WMD stocks are not in Iraq: huge WMD stocks - nuclear weapons, plutonium, uranium, bioweapons agents, chemical weapons - are lying about in poorly defended heaps (so to speak) within the confines of the ex-Soviet Union. These WMD stocks constitute the really significant "loose WMD" threat - above, in all likelihood, the possibility that North Korea or rogue elements of the Pakistani military might give nuclear weapons to terrorists.

And even GW Bush admits that there was absolutely no connection between the 9-11 terrorists and Iraq
posted by troutfishing at 5:47 AM on March 19, 2003


Saddam's WMD noncompliance, combined with his strategic location and his brutality, make him the initial target for regime change and middle-eastern political (and, to an extent, cultural) reconstruction. His non-involvement in 9/11 does protect him.
posted by techgnollogic at 8:39 AM on March 19, 2003


techgnollogic -- all your bases are belong to us.
posted by hank_14 at 2:11 PM on March 19, 2003


techgnollogic - you forgot the "not" [ "His non-involvement in 9/11 does protect him." ] but I understand your statement: So you are admitting the neo-imperialist agenda? No, I expect not - I suppose that you would infuse this agenda, the plan to redraw the map in the Middle east, with idealistic motives. Perhaps so. But I remain suspicious.
posted by troutfishing at 8:10 PM on March 20, 2003


So in review: Longer Invasion Timeline, 500,000 Iraqi Military Casualties, 100,000 Civilian Casualties, Turkish Invasion, 12,000 Cruise Missiles - This guy was on a roll!
posted by techgnollogic at 4:06 PM on April 6, 2003


« Older Is Mr. Bush prepared to put his sacrafice his post...   |   Birobidzhan Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post