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France, stung by Libyan WMD deal, admits US policies showing results
December 22, 2003 3:37 PM   Subscribe

France, stung by Libyan WMD deal, admits US policies showing results Ok. Agreed. You don't like Bush. And the French government does not like Bush. But here is what the French now say about Libya: [...] The media, which have long criticised the US war and invasion of Iraq, grudgingly allowed that that conquest had borne fruit in terms of putting pressure on other countries Washington considers "rogue states" or part of an "axis of evil"[...]
posted by Postroad (72 comments total)

 
> admits US policies showing results

surrender monkeys.
posted by jfuller at 3:43 PM on December 22, 2003


Yeah, who cares what those french people say, right?
posted by namespan at 3:57 PM on December 22, 2003


I'd like to see a venn diagram of people who are serious in calling the french "surrender monkeys" and people who have confederate heritage.
posted by mcsweetie at 4:00 PM on December 22, 2003


Few things have more diminished my estimation of the median US IQ than the temper tantrum and petty whining about the bad-bad-french-people.
posted by signal at 4:04 PM on December 22, 2003


I expect you'll enjoy what Steven Den Beste has to say about them, then. But don't get me wrong, I don't think the French are bad or evil, just silly. Pompous and silly = irresistable natural target for twitting. I mean, imagine naming your nuclear deterrent the force of milkshake.
posted by jfuller at 4:14 PM on December 22, 2003


So now America cares what the French think? Must have missed the memo.
posted by skallas at 4:29 PM on December 22, 2003


I, for one, am so relieved that one of the members of the "axis of evil" has voluntarily turned themselves in. Who were the other countries again?
posted by Slothrup at 4:32 PM on December 22, 2003


Hmmmm...interesting headline in the article, given that "the media" (however the hell they represent in totality "the French") also say:

But they warned that the dividends gained by throwing US military might around the globe were short-term and may be undermined by the long-term consequences.

"The fall of Saddam Hussein probably counted in (Libyan leader Moamer) Kadhafi's about-face," it said, but added that the diplomatic breakthrough showed that "more than ever, the danger posed by Saddam Hussein did not justify a unilateral war without UN backing."

The weakening of rogue states, it said, was being matched by a rise in militant Islamic fundamentalism even as "a widening and destructive gap" was opening between Europe and the United States.

Another newspaper, France Soir, said that "it has to be recognised that the Americans ... whose sad record of supporting tyrants we know, have nonetheless contributed to making sure that Hitlerism, Stalinism and fundamentalism don't last."

Other observers tallied up current Franco-US disputes -- the exclusion of anti-war countries from Iraq's reconstruction, bitter wrangling to settle a lawsuit over a French bank's illegal purchase of US insurer Executive Life, the decision to put off an announcement on whether to build an international nuclear fusion reactor in France or Japan -- to say that Washington was clearly seeking to punish Paris wherever and whenever it can.


Oh....and just curious....where in hell are the MetaFilter IraqFilter NetNannies on this front page post? Weren't they alerted? (Stand down, boys -- fold_and_patrioticate is on the job scouring MetaFilter's front page for you today. My analysis: OK to unclench, and remain at previous alert level. It is doubtful this post warrants a Level Orange Nanny MetaTalk Tantrum...this Iraq-related post DOES appear to be Patriotically Correct....that is all.)

I don't think the French are bad or evil, just silly.

Why, how very intelligent. Mocking generalizations about large groups of people are always so logical and accurate and, um, kind. You know.... like all black people have rhythm and crave watermelon. Right, jfuller?
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 4:41 PM on December 22, 2003


No doubt various other countries are feeling nervous these days, but from what I hear, Libya has been trying to get back in our good graces for a while. This is a political coup (oops, French...I mean, freedom word) for Bush, but not quite the dramatic reversal one might imagine.
posted by uosuaq at 4:46 PM on December 22, 2003


More from Juan Cole, who would agree with uosuaq.
posted by tingley at 4:57 PM on December 22, 2003


Josh Marshall would appear to agree with uosuaq, too:

"this has only a tenuous link to the Bush Doctrine, though the White House and some of the more gullible columnists are going to great lengths to portray it that way. Libya has been trying to get good with the US and Europe for half a dozen years."
posted by Zonker at 5:05 PM on December 22, 2003


Metafilter: OK to unclench.

Stop it foldy, you're killing me.
posted by skallas at 5:19 PM on December 22, 2003


Why, how very intelligent. Mocking generalizations about large groups of people are always so logical and accurate and, um, kind. You know.... like all black people have rhythm and crave watermelon. Right, jfuller?

I would assume, from reading jfuller's comments, that he's referring to the French government rather than the populace in general. I think generalizations can safely be made about the French government, although we may all disagree about what those generalizations should be.

I've noticed that you generally have no trouble making generalizations about the American government or American citizens, though. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

"The fall of Saddam Hussein probably counted in (Libyan leader Moamer) Kadhafi's about-face," it said, but added that the diplomatic breakthrough showed that "more than ever, the danger posed by Saddam Hussein did not justify a unilateral war without UN backing."

I find this difficult to reconcile. Either Saddam's capture influenced Qaddafi's decision, or it didn't. If it did, it seems odd to call his decision a "diplomatic breakthrough" as if it happened in a vacuum, without the implied threat of US military force, and claim this as a victory for diplomacy without war.

I think that it was wrong for us to go to war, but that doesn't mean that there is no good that may come from the war. I don't really believe that the war was the primary motivating factor behind Qaddafi's actions, but it could be, and I can acknowledge that possibility without dismissing it simply because "the war is bad."

Another newspaper, France Soir, said that "it has to be recognised that the Americans ... whose sad record of supporting tyrants we know, have nonetheless contributed to making sure that Hitlerism, Stalinism and fundamentalism don't last."

The French also have a sad record of supporting tyrants. As far as I can tell, every Western democracy has a history of supporting tyrants, or at least looking the other way when it's convenient, as does every other major world power (Russia, China). So I'm not sure what to make of that quote.
posted by me & my monkey at 5:34 PM on December 22, 2003


Of course, nuking all the axis of evil states would also produce some desired (by the U.S. government) outcomes.

So what?
posted by rushmc at 5:36 PM on December 22, 2003


Of course, nuking all the axis of evil states would also produce some desired (by the U.S. government) outcomes.

So what?


Hmm I don't know... May be despite what you think, the administration actually don't enjoy needlessly murdering a lot people when killing less would accomplish the same objectives?

Oh wait, I forgot: all wars are equivalently bad. They're all the same a nuclear war. I better get with the program.

True, there have been negotiations going on before the war but Libya would not have capitulated so completely and so soon if the US didn't prove that it is not a paper tiger, so the war was a necessary ingredient in bringing about this event. But a bigger war would've been overkill. I thought you were good at identifying different shades of gray?
posted by VeGiTo at 5:48 PM on December 22, 2003


Libya would not have capitulated so completely and so soon if the US didn't prove that it is not a paper tiger

Why wasn't the war in Afghanistan enough to prove that it wasn't a "paper tiger"?
posted by Armitage Shanks at 5:52 PM on December 22, 2003


Why wasn't the war in Afghanistan enough to prove that it wasn't a "paper tiger"?

Because that war was a knee-jerk reaction to 9-11, an attempt to eliminate an imminent theat. In order for Libya to capitulate, the US has to proof that it is willing to use force against countries that are even thinking about becoming a threat, even when they don't represent an immediate danger.

The US can't really wait for a nuclear 9-11 to happen before dealing with hostile states who are developing nukes, you know?
posted by VeGiTo at 5:58 PM on December 22, 2003


In order for Libya to capitulate, the US has to proof that it is willing to use force against countries that are even thinking about becoming a threat, even when they don't represent an immediate danger.

In other words, we kick the crap out of anybody who even looks at us crosseyed? I mean, these are people, too. Being America does not imbue us with the right to bully the world.

The US can't really wait for a nuclear 9-11 to happen before dealing with hostile states who are developing nukes, you know?

See, I think we maybe should take a step back and examine why they're attacking us. I don't think "because they hate freedom" is the answer-- that's the excuse given to present the war as an unresolvable clash of cultures and values.

Maybe Middle East nations are hostile to us because of our policies towards them and the way we keep setting up and knocking down dictators over there. (Al-Qaeda chose the WTC and the Pentagon, and supposedly the White House as well, for its 9/11 attack for a reason-- they represent America's economic, military, and political superiority, and these groups are sick of us using them to get what we want (oil) from their part of the world.

It's just a thought.
posted by nath at 6:19 PM on December 22, 2003


nath: What do you suppose Americans do now, then? Wall themselves into a hermit kingdom? Do you think switching to non-intervention polices right now would stop these countries from developing nukes and eventually using them?

Have you noticed how well "soft power" has worked for the last 20 years?

If it really was American policies that caused ALL the problems in Middle East, shouldn't it be also their responsibility now to do all they can to clean it up?

What do you suggest? If you are the head of the White House adminsitration right now, what would you do to eliminate these threats? Would you pull a Clinton and buy them off, just so that they can threaten you and ask for more again 5 years later? Look how well that worked with NK.

That's the problem with the left-wingers: they complain a lot, but just can't seem to suggest a more practical solution to the current problem. Bush's policies are not perfect, but I'm not asking you to think of a perfect solution. I'm asking for a more practical one. Can you?
posted by VeGiTo at 6:28 PM on December 22, 2003


Bush's policies are not perfect, but I'm not asking you to think of a perfect solution. I'm asking for a more practical one.

No, I wholeheartedly agree, it's the best policy for the nation - economic domination and maintaining status global hegemony. For people, on any side, not so good.
posted by iamck at 6:43 PM on December 22, 2003


VeGiTo, you're talking as if we are not in more of a mess than we were before we attacked Iraq. Spider-hole photo ops notwithstanding, Iraq is a disaster at present and the Al Qaeda is stronger than it was when the oxymoronic war on terror began -- hundreds of lives, and billions of dollars, ago. So, all of this "practical" fortitude is where, exactly? Oh yeah, the Libya thing. I forgot.
posted by digaman at 6:45 PM on December 22, 2003


heads up to all: the eyes of Texas are now turning to North Korea. Several things are happening at once: the UN is cutting off their food aid, and, as this was announced, Dick Cheney ordered a "cooling" from previous US appeasement-like positions (offering the North something to be good); the US is pumping $11B of advanced military gear into the South, including upgrades of its most lethal Iraq-proven hardware, especially anti-artillery bunker busters and attack helicopters, and a test of a Stryker brigade prior to its deployment in Iraq; advanced drones, both surveillance and armed are patrolling the DMZ; the US is strongly suggesting that the South should commence a military build up.

Not a lot of this has been making the major news service rounds, and much is being downplayed due to ongoing negotiations. All I'm saying is to keep an eye peeled for further developments. NK now seems to be national WMD threat target #1, as far as the US is concerned.
posted by kablam at 6:47 PM on December 22, 2003


Digaman: posterboy for the dellusional, cowardly left.
posted by ParisParamus at 6:55 PM on December 22, 2003


How is it that we're better off appeasing NK that aggressively confronting their evil?
posted by ParisParamus at 6:56 PM on December 22, 2003


Surrender Monkeys? Je ne vois pas la correspondence entre les sanges et les francais. Mais c'est super comme expression....
posted by ParisParamus at 6:59 PM on December 22, 2003


digaman: Actually, I am pretty impress with the post-war progress so far. Do you know how long it takes to build a nation? How many months has it been since combat ended? How many years did it take to rebuild West Germany and Japan? How many years did the United States get their own Constitution down?

The administration never planned this to be anything less than a decade long project. But I have a feeling that all major rebuilding will be done in half that time, and that is good.

Sometimes I don't know what to think of the anti-war group: overly idealistic, overly short-sighted, or both.

kablam: Interesting developments... But I think the Korean Pennisula is too dangerous for another hot war, though, primarily because the city of Seoul is within range of all of NK's missles. I think the best hope for that corner of the world is for China to cut off NK's supply and make Il's regime collapse.
posted by VeGiTo at 7:00 PM on December 22, 2003


NK now seems to be national WMD threat target #1, as far as the US is concerned.

So they should be, but I doubt this will end happily for possibly hundreds of thousands of people. Let's pray the North Koreans aren't as good at making nukes as they are at having parades.

On preview: We're all cowardly, PP, (some people excepted) You don't have to be "on the left" to be a coward. That's why we sit in front of computers pretending we know what the hell's going on in the world and acting all self important, when we've never met any of the human beings whos stories of life and death appear frequently on the front page for relaxed discussion. Are you suggesting nutter neocons calling for the remote controlled extermination of entire races from their blogs are any less cowardly?
posted by Jimbob at 7:01 PM on December 22, 2003


VeGiTo, I agree, China is probably the key - if China can be convinced of the danger of North Korea and the need to head them off at the pass, it will be a good development.
posted by Jimbob at 7:04 PM on December 22, 2003


That's the problem with the left-wingers: they complain a lot, but just can't seem to suggest a more practical solution to the current problem.

And this comment is precisely why anyone even remotely "right" of MeFi is treated like a loon. Please, VeGiTo, do conservatives, republicans, and centrists a big favor and don't stereotype "the left". Your blatant ignorance to liberal policies and theories is not an excuse to accuse "them" of impracticality.

But I have a feeling that all major rebuilding will be done in half that time, and that is good.

Based on what, exactly? The historic success we've had thus far with rebuilding nations, or the "victories" of Afghanistan and Iraq? Show me one solid piece of evidence suggesting that the Bush administration understands nation-building, at all.
posted by BlueTrain at 7:08 PM on December 22, 2003


What the US foreign policy has accomplished is a massive polarization of other nations. That is, "you're with us or you're against us" has become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Some countries will decide that it's safest to comply with any demands of the "international community" (mainly the US). Libya is doing everything it can to get rid of the sanctions and become a trusted vassal state. But other nations will do everything they can to pursue WMD programs -- now more than ever.

Once you have WMD, you're safe. Bush will not attack you. The administration knew that Iraq didn't have WMD -- that's why they attacked. You don't attack a country with substantial WMD capacities -- that's the whole point! Chemical weapons, yes, you can deal with that, but no significant biological or even radiological capabilities. Risk a major bio or nuke attack on US cities? Yeah, right. North Korea, here we come.

If you don't have WMDs, you have to become a vassal state. The process of getting them is dangerous, of course. But if you're a nation that doesn't want to comply with all major US demands, you won't be able to do without them.

The flaw in this policy is that getting WMD keeps getting easier as nations advance on the industrial ladder. Biological capabilities are within relatively easy reach of any modern industrialized nation. As the proliferation of WMD increases, so does the likelihood that the US will risk attacking a country that possesses them, believing they can deal with the aftermath. And of course does the risk of terror attacks against which 9/11 will look like a warm breeze.

Proliferation is pretty much a red herring, and the US administration will readily admit as much when it comes to Israel, which has all types of WMD, including nuclear. "Yes, but Israel is a democracy", they say. "We cannot allow rogue nations to possess WMD."

Well, if that's the case, then how about building stable, secular democracies all around the world? "Yeah, that's what we're trying to do -- by getting rid of the likes of Saddam", the war hawks will say. But you don't build stable, secular democracies by killing thousands of people. You build them by being consistent in your foreign policy -- not by cooperating with theocracies like Saudi Arabia. You build them by being a role model -- by expanding civil liberties, human rights and progressive values in your own country instead of restricting them. You build them by supporting international law instead of ignoring every treaty that you don't like. You build them by using your military only to intervene in a set of defined cases -- genocide and mass murder, attacks on other countries -- and doing so consistently (Rwanda 1994: 800,000 people killed. UN pulled out, Clinton didn't act).

You don't build them by systematically eroding democracy in your own country (Diebold, purged voter lists in Florida, redistricting, total corruption of US Congress and Senate). You don't build them by putting dictators in power in countries that refuse to agree with your demands, or by training and equipping terrorists (Killing Hope, Friendly Dictators ). You don't build them by polluting this planet with arms both large and small and refusing to sign treaties that would ban the worst of them. You don't build them by allowing private companies to engage in warfare about diamonds and resources (pretty much the entire African continent). You don't build them by fighting one brand of religious fundamentalism (Islam) while ignoring others (Christianity, Judaism).

Now, these things are not difficult. They're mind numbingly obvious. It's similarly obvious that the current US government doesn't really care about building stable, secular democracies. The current so-called politicians are in fact all experienced businessmen who (surprise, surprise) are involved in the oil business, have major business connections to Saudi Arabia, to the industry involved in the "rebuilding" and so forth.

They care about the 150 billion dollars the Iraq war will cost, and about the 20 billion a year that are already flowing in oil exports. And the only reason why one would refuse to accept these facts is the massive and continuing support by media which are (surprise, surprise again) privately owned companies. And who pays them? When did you last send CNN or FOX News any money?

But the really funny part about the whole story is that this administration was put in power by a bunch of tree-hugging hippies who thought that voting for a 3% candidate would send an important message in a two-party system. And it did. You really only appreciate the lesser of two evils when you've experienced the greater one.
posted by Eloquence at 7:09 PM on December 22, 2003


In order for Libya to capitulate, the US has to proof that it is willing to use force against countries that are even thinking about becoming a threat, even when they don't represent an immediate danger.

So if the FBI started rounding up Americans that they determined were "thinking about becoming a threat, even when they don't represent an immediate danger", I take it you'd support that idea too?
posted by Armitage Shanks at 7:22 PM on December 22, 2003


Armitage: No, I won't. Unless that person is making a nuke.

We are talking about nukes here. This is one of those cases where punishing after the fact is too late.

But I guess in your world, a nuke is the same as a butter knife. And an ocean is the same as a puddle, Watermelons are the same as peas, black is the same as gray.
posted by VeGiTo at 7:28 PM on December 22, 2003


Actually, um, Eloquence, it was about 50-some million American citizens(sorry, I couldn't think of a derogatory name to call all of them) that put this administration into power.

/sorry for the derail I have got to stop doing that.
posted by jaronson at 7:30 PM on December 22, 2003


No, I won't. Unless that person is making a nuke.

Well, that's some impressive backpedal ballistics.

So are we talking about states "even thinking about becoming a threat" or states actively "making a nuke"?

But I guess in your world, a nuke is the same as a butter knife. And bla bla bla

Good grief. "What absolute twaddle."
posted by Armitage Shanks at 7:41 PM on December 22, 2003


LoL Armitage. Do you really think a nation without a nuke (or equivalent WMD) can pose a serious threat to the US with its conventional army? How naive.

Yes, they can may be kill a couple thousand people by making a building collapse. But what I am talking about is beyond that scale.

I don't mean theat the way you mean threat. I am talking about the death-of-a-couple-million-people threat. When I said "think about becoming a threat", it implied "making a nuke". But what was I thinking, I should've known that I have no way of getting this through your head when you demonstrably have absolutely no concept of scale!
posted by VeGiTo at 7:52 PM on December 22, 2003


"Based on what, exactly? The historic success we've had thus far with rebuilding nations, or the "victories" of Afghanistan and Iraq?"

Like doing nothing would have been an improvement? How stupid and disingenuine. How stupid to compare the US's successes in basket case countries/societies to your political fantasies. Actually, I just think you hate George Bush, and will say anything to make the Administration look bad.
posted by ParisParamus at 7:58 PM on December 22, 2003


You really only appreciate the lesser of two evils when you've experienced the greater one.

god damn. i hope you are right.
posted by lescour at 8:04 PM on December 22, 2003


Poor France. It is so irrelevant. And, it will become more so as its population ages and bankrupts the nation. France needs the EU but there it little buoyancy there to be had.

On with the war. North Korea is the next best ripe target.
posted by paleocon at 8:14 PM on December 22, 2003


vegito - while you slurp up the FOX fed milkshakes on which you subsist ...

"The US can't really wait for a nuclear 9-11 to happen before dealing with hostile states who are developing nukes, you know?"

far more serious nuclear tipped problems fester ... please tell us what your fearless leader is doing about growing islamic extremism in pakistan (other than fanning the flames) and the unbelievably dangerous house of cards that is our "ally in the war on terror" and simultaneously the backer of resurging taliban?
posted by specialk420 at 8:18 PM on December 22, 2003


what the French say

Ridiculous statement.
posted by stbalbach at 8:24 PM on December 22, 2003


Have you noticed how well "soft power" has worked for the last 20 years?

Links to this 'soft power' that is supposed to be observed would be nice.
posted by rough ashlar at 8:28 PM on December 22, 2003


Poor France. It is so irrelevant.

Obviously it isn't, or you wingnuts wouldn't keep obsessing over it. Just get over the cultural inferiority complex already.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 8:45 PM on December 22, 2003


jaro: The Republicans could nominate a chimp and would get a fair amount of votes with a decent campaign. Some people claim that they have done just that. The issue is that if you asked Nader voters to rank their preferred candidates, probably more than 90% would have answered "1) Nader, n) Gore, n+x) Bush". In FPTP voting, this preference is irrelevant, so the right thing to do in a close race is to vote strategically -- if they had done so, the result would have been 51% Gore, 48% Bush, 1% other.

Of course you can also blame Gore for running a lousy campaign and Jeb Bush for purging the voter lists in Florida, but Nader voters are an easier target because what they did was so obviously wrong and completely counter productive. Instead of boosting third party politics, Nader is now loathed by large parts of the left wing, which also negatively affects his other activities. If he runs again in 2004, I'm sure he's being paid to do so by the other side. I doubt he would get 3% again, though.
posted by Eloquence at 8:57 PM on December 22, 2003


What do you suppose Americans do now, then?

Well, a good start would be to not be afraid. I think the reason 9/11 resonated with so many people was because it tapped into our fears of the worst-- and instead of facing that fear and deciding to be brave, many people I think curled up in the corner and decided to let George Bush & Co. handle everything. Remember, living in America, the chances of dying or even being injured in a terrorist attack are very, very slim (I suspect they are slightly higher if you work at an abortion clinic, but that's another topic entirely).

Do you think switching to non-intervention polices right now would stop these countries from developing nukes and eventually using them?

It would probably stop them from using them on us. I don't think it'll necessarily stop them from using them on each other, but I also think the only cases where that's possible are where we're talking disputes over land, which may continue indefinitely because no one seems willing to compromise (I'm thinking India-Pakistan and Israel-Palestine).

I think we should start seriously looking at developing alternative energy sources; we can't subsist on oil forever because there isn't enough, and the sooner we can wean ourself from that, the sooner we can stop pandering to certain dictators (Saudi Arabia) and blowing up others (Iraq). We can stop maintaining troop presence in the area, so we can stop putting more American lives at risk, and we can stop pissing off political extremists who want us out of their lives, and Islamic religious extremists who don't like that we keep military bases in their holy cities. It won't happen, because there's too much money and power in oil (especially for the people currently in charge of the country) for anyone who has the power to change that to do so.

I think we should discourage the development of nuclear weapons; I don't think we should do it by invading certain countries in order to scare others. One could say that we could provide an example by scaling back our own nuclear programs, instead of increasing funding for developing more nukes as Bush has done.

By and large, people don't like war. People won't fight unless there's something for them to gain. Calling our attackers "evil" accomplishes nothing; the "War on terrorism" is as meaningless a phrase as the "War on Drugs" (you wage war on countries, not concepts); and it seems the discourse in this country has been lowered to the point of seeing everything in an easy dichotomy-- "We're good, they're evil, we must defeat them." It's never so simple. (As the point was made earlier, "You're with us or you're against us" has become a self-fulfilling prophecy; we're alienating countries who have any questions over what we're doing. September 11 did not give us an unlimited license to wage war, though I feel some would want it that way.)

Your idea of discouragement by invasion raises the question of why we invaded Iraq in the first place, since the weapons inspectors found no evidence of a nuclear program, and our post-invasion search hasn't found any either, despite Bush, Cheney, and Blair's assertions to the contrary. I think "Follow the money" is as apt here as it is almost anywhere; if you want to know the reasons for doing something, look at who benefits. It's not hard to see that the energy companies and contractors who have heavy ties to the administration are the ones who most clearly benefit.

Have you noticed how well "soft power" has worked for the last 20 years?

You'll have to clarify what you mean by "working". Considering there hasn't been a nuke launched in the world in almost 60 years I'd say things are working fine.

If it really was American policies that caused ALL the problems in Middle East, shouldn't it be also their responsibility now to do all they can to clean it up?

Our policies don't cause all the problems, but they cause some, and we can't fix them until we admit what those problems are. I don't think the reconstruction of Iraq is about fixing the problems there so much as ensuring control of the oil fields (for reasons I mentioned earlier).

Last, iamck had a spot-on comment I feel bears repeating:

It's the best policy for the nation - economic domination and maintaining status global hegemony. For people, on any side, not so good.

I'm more concerned about the well-being of people than whether people at the very top of the money/power chain can maintain their holdings or increase them.


Oh, and one more note...

How is it that we're better off appeasing NK that aggressively confronting their evil?

I love this question, but probably not for reasons Paris would like. It's got both a false dichotomy and a meaningless tossing around of "evil". (I mean, what is the source of North Korea's "evil"? Their weapons? Their people? Kim Jong Il? His movie collection?) Instead of asking that, ask, "What can we do to ensure North Korea does not attempt to launch nuclear weapons while maintaining a minimal loss of life on all sides?" After all, isn't that what we're trying to do? Less death is better all around, and less worry about nuclear weapons improves the quality of life for all.

It's easy as an American to get caught up in patriotism and overlook the fact that there are human lives and faces in the balance thousands of miles away, none of which are less valuable than ours simply because we live in the United States. We're all people.
posted by nath at 9:34 PM on December 22, 2003


Nobody else seems to be responding to Vegito's challenge as to what they'd do if they were President and had to sort out this whole mess, so I guess I will. Hooray for make-believe and all that.

First, I'd immediately invite the UN and other NGOs back into Iraq, apologise for my predecessor's disrespect, and ask them for their help in rebuilding the country. I'd open up the contracts Wolfowitz banned non-allies from bidding on to all as a sign of good will. My guiding principle here would be to bring in as many other countries as possible to work on the rebuilding, regardless of their stance on the war itself. The more countries involved in rebuilding Iraq, the more people committed to the same set of goals I am - rebuilding Iraq into a stable, liberal democratic regime.

Second, I'd drop the war on terror business and the weapons of mass destruction business and instead play up the humanitarian concerns. I would do this by inviting in advisors from the ICC and other war crimes experts to assist the Iraqi Governing Council in establishing tribunals to deal with Baathist party crimes, including those of Saddam Hussein. I would allow them to subpoena American citizens as witnesses, but not to prosecute them. I would ask Russia to do the same, as they were involved in arming the Baathists. Something like the Truth and Reconciliation Council of South Africa could serve as a model for dealing with complaints by Kurds and Shi'ites against the Sunni minority, and for dealing with Baathists in general.

Third, I would convince Iran that we are not planning to invade them by backing off the rhetoric about the axis of evil and inviting them in as part of an international peace-keeping force to hold the Southern, pre-dominantly Shi'ite (and thus co-religionist) region. In exchange for dismantling their nuclear program, I would offer to lift sanctions on oil deals. I would also put pressure on Pakistan not to allow nuclear experts to travel to Iran in order to disseminate nuclear secrets. I would also try to encourage Muslim and Arab countries to participate more in Iraqi peace-keeping in the central region to reduce claims of imperialism.

Fourth, I would reduce American troop committments in Europe, Japan and other locations where they are hold-overs from previous wars but not actively engaged in peace-keeping duties. These soldiers, including Marines, ought to take the place of National Guardsmen at the first opportunity. I would promise the American people that under no circumstances would I reinstitute the draft, and I would live up to that promise.

All of those are off the top of my head. I'm sure if you gave me more time, I could think up some more specific stuff. Still, it's not the case that all of us who are critical of the Bush administration (and I say that being a libertarian, rather than a liberal) have absolutely no idea what to do.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 9:54 PM on December 22, 2003


I mean, what is the source of North Korea's "evil"? Their weapons? Their people? Kim Jong Il? His movie collection?

Their gulags.
posted by homunculus at 9:57 PM on December 22, 2003


For Vietnam Vet Anthony Zinni, Another War on Shaky Territory
posted by homunculus at 10:02 PM on December 22, 2003


The behaviour nath and others demonstrate is a form of "compassionate racism" - a sense of American paternistic duty. It denotes the idea that foreigners/people of other races are lesser people than Americans, and they are not capable of having a conscience. Foreigners are almost like animals who are only capable of reacting to "stimuli" provided by the Americans. Therefore American should bare the sole responsibility of the world's turmoils, and try to solve them through self-reflection, example and self-correction, never try to directly correct other people's behaviour. Afterall, the fault is on us for providing these "lesser humans" with the wrong stimuli. They are barking because we did not feed them enough, therefore we must provide them with more aids. No point trying to spread the long term cure - democracy and capitalism - to them though, they are incapable of understanding these concepts.

Foreign greed and human rights violations are more tolerable than American greed and violations because foreigners are "kids", and we are "adults". "Kids" react to what "adults" do to them, they never provoke anything, thus they should never be blamed for anything, and if anything goes wrong it is the adult's responsibility.

The twisted conclusion to that is that since we're the only once with a conscience, any quarrel must be solve by correcting our own behaviour. Even when we are a little bit wrong but our opponents are a lot more wrong, it is us who needs changing because we are the only ones capable of doing so.

With all these accusations of how the right-wingers are self-righteous, it is ironic that these accusers are the ones who have the largest superior complex.
posted by VeGiTo at 10:06 PM on December 22, 2003


Pseudoephedrine: Boy am I glad you're not the president.

bring in as many other countries as possible to work on the rebuilding

You are overlooking the fact that there are a lot of "friendly" nations that would wish this whole Iraq occupation to fail. Not that they wish the Iraqis ill, but they just can't stand seeing an advanture backed by the Americans to succeed. Some countries (France in particular), if given the chance to participate, have a possibility of purposefully jeopordizing the whole deal.

I'd drop the war on terror business and the weapons of mass destruction business and instead play up the humanitarian concerns

Do you think we can drown the terrorists with aids and they will stop hating America? Do you think that would stop regimes from keeping the aids for themselves, and use them as another tool for controlling their citizens? And then turn around asking for more? I thought we already covered the Clinton-North Korea example.

Third, I would convince Iran that we are not planning to invade them

Right, that's like giving them a green-light to develop their WMD. And good luck waiting for a democratic revolution to happen there if the citizens know that the Americans are cozy with the regime.

under no circumstances would I reinstitute the draft

"Under no circumstances" is way too strong. It is true that we probably won't need one in the forseeable future, but what if a superior power somehow emerges (China? Extra-terrestial?)? Are we supposed to just not defend ourselves and get slaughtered because we promised to draft "under no cirumstances"?

I thought I asked for practical alternative policies. So far I still haven't seen any.
posted by VeGiTo at 10:23 PM on December 22, 2003


I see in newspeak, "practical" now means "ones that I agree with."
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 11:01 PM on December 22, 2003


I used to wonder how the phrase "ugly American" came to be.

Then I read this thread.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:03 PM on December 22, 2003


The behaviour nath and others demonstrate is a form of "compassionate racism" - a sense of American paternistic duty. It denotes the idea that foreigners/people of other races are lesser people than Americans, and they are not capable of having a conscience.

This is offensive given that my very first point was that we should leave them the hell alone, which if I really thought them inferior is the exact opposite of what I would do.

Not to mention it's both a strawman and an ad hominem and in no way responds to my argument; rather, it merely insults my intelligence.

Don't call me names if you want to have a conversation.
posted by nath at 1:20 AM on December 23, 2003


Not to mention your complete attempt to change the topic. We were discussing foreign policy on the merits of defending against nuclear attack; rather than respond to my statement, you called me several names and tried to turn the focus to human rights. And then when pseudoephedrine answered your question you just insulted his answer.

I will respond to one thing you wrote:

The twisted conclusion to that is that since we're the only once with a conscience, any quarrel must be solve by correcting our own behaviour.

Don't you think attempting to fix foreign countries' behavior by force is making that same conclusion-- in a way, worse, since it says whatever morality they have isn't good enough and we need to enforce a better one? If anything, my solution argues that they have a high level of ethics; high enough that if they recognized we weren't trying to screw with their way of life, they wouldn't attack us.

(Human rights is another issue entirely. We were talking about-- and this post is about-- foreign policy vis a vis deterring nuclear proliferation.)

Stay on topic, answer my question without insulting me, or don't bother.
posted by nath at 1:29 AM on December 23, 2003


It is clear to me the current administration is bent on complete military dominance of the world right now. Bush is not interested in growth here in the US today, but in the long term. This is the revenge of the cold war. All these countries pissed off Cheney and Bush Sr. a few decades back, now they dont have anything else to worry about they are coming back to kick some serious ass and install friendly governments in what were previously very anti-american countries. They have raped our country in a few years to ensure a long lasting oil supply and changed the face of the middle east.

Neutralizing your enemies before they actually become a problem is a good deterrant, but its hard to hold the moral high ground when it turns our you made a mistake. It also strikes fear (not the good kind) into everyone around you (other countries) to know that no provable crime must have been committed for the wrath of the US military machine comes to come and smash you. This is like the witch trials: "terrorists and WMD's ... get em!". While we will definitely round up some bad people, it is almost certain innocent people will also lose their lives.

I am reminded of Minority Report. Bad thing shappen when you try to prevent crime before it occurs. And its damn near impossible to figure out who has this stuff. To make a nuke you need uranium or plutonium, generated by legitiamate nuclear power plants or bought from a country like china/russia. With that in hand you need a few smart scientists and some parts that would not arouse suspicion for other uses. Thats it. This kind of thing is not easy to track down, neither are many of the chemical pesticides used to make poison gas and nerve agents. There is really no way to say: These people have WMD, unless you see it. Mainly its just an excuse at this point to go into an unfriendly country and make them friendly. This strategy isnt going to make us popular, but it is wiping out enemy dictators at an astounding rate.

Those people who wondered why it was Iraq on the hit list and not North Korea when NK boasted about its nuclear arsenal... i guess someone was listening.
posted by sophist at 3:59 AM on December 23, 2003


MetaFilter: Home of "Compassionate Racism" and "Ugly Americans"

Just keep digging that hole vegito. You're gonna need it.
posted by nofundy at 4:58 AM on December 23, 2003


So, one person who works for Le Monde says in an editorial that there might be *some* short-term positive effects to 9/11, while decrying all sorts of long-term consequences, and this is supposed to mean what now?
France -- at a government level -- admitted nothing, and your post is therefore misleading.

Cylindrical file-filter.
posted by insomnia_lj at 6:27 AM on December 23, 2003


Vegito: "The administration never planned this to be anything less than a decade long project."

Well, you're half right (or more specifically, 5/14ths right).

It's funny. Whenever someone criticizes the Bush administration's approach to Iraq, invariably someone defends it by suggesting the alternative is "doing nothing" in the face of danger. This isn't a two-sided coin, folks.

The Cold War is over, Russia is democratic (perhaps not ideally so, but that is their intention). China is still mostly isolationist, interested in east Asia far more than anything else. So over the bulk of the earth, American power can now be used to effectively bring about liberal democracies. Friendly liberal democracies can be a pain in the ass over trade issues, but they're still preferable to friendly dictatorships that give favourable trade deals but cause instability and are unreliable long term. But the US did not have the moral support of the other major world powers to do so, even had they tried.

Then came 9/11. It was carte blanche of sorts, a 21st century Joan of Arc delivering righteous empowerment to your cause. With the right president in power, it could have meant the systematic removal of nearly every dictatorial regime in the world. That one event alone was enough to give the American government the support it needed to reform world politics.

And no, I'm not talking about North Korea-style appeasement leading to enlightened transformation. There would be war where necessary, but not necessarily war (yep, I'm Canadian). There may have been an invasion of Iraq to topple Saddam.

But, and this is the significant difference for me, there would be none of the WMD crap. No trumped up excuse or half-assed "threat" created to give an air of legitimacy to the exercise. You already had the best one possible. Go after terrorist groups. Go after nations harbouring or supporting terrorists. Be the self-appointed police force of the world. Be bold, be forthright, be honest. "Yes, we're cleaning up the world. Somebody has to do it. And everyone is welcome to help."

And there would be a plan, both for how to topple the old regimes and how to install new ones. Each one would be advanced enough before moving on to the next target. Take out the Taliban? Great. Now make sure the Afghani provisional government can exert its influence over the entire country. Make sure food, water, electricity, and medical supplies can reach all the major towns. Disarm all the warlord groups. Then move on to the next target (while continuing in Afghanistan with a reduced force to spread aid into the smaller towns and villages). Make sure you've left something better behind before you take on another project.

That's the option this lefty would have chosen. Instead, the Bush administration pissed away worldwide goodwill. Hell, they lost the support of Canada, and it takes some doing to piss off the nation most closely tied to you (historically, geographically, culturally, economically).

But what to do now? Well, I'm not one to suggest the Americans can't rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan at the same time. They managed well enough with Germany, Italy, and Japan (among others). As long as they stay committed to that goal, they can redeem themselves for the mistakes that were made. But if they start running off and mucking up more countries before they stabilize the ones they've already toppled, we're in for a few decades of problems.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 7:09 AM on December 23, 2003


"I used to wonder how the phrase "ugly American" came to be.

Then I read this thread."


Americans should not be put off by the title as the main character is far from ugly and people from other nations are also shown to be "ugly", for example, some of the French in Vietnam. Also, as the authors are American, they did not intend the title to be a slur.


Hell, they lost the support of Canada, and it takes some doing to piss off the nation most closely tied to you (historically, geographically, culturally, economically).

Until after the civil war, canada was THE place to launch intelligence and sabotage (during the revolution, war of 1812) operations against the U.S.

yes it does, it also takes alot to forgive.
posted by clavdivs at 7:15 AM on December 23, 2003


clavdics, you do realize Canada didn't exist until 1867, AFTER the American Civil War? Before then, it was just part of the British Empire. And is it any wonder the British Empire would WANT to launch intelligence and sabotage during the American Revolution and the War of 1812, since both were American-began wars against the British Empire? Is that the best counter-argument you can come up with? Sheesh.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 10:38 AM on December 23, 2003


No trumped up excuse or half-assed "threat" created to give an air of legitimacy to the exercise. You already had the best one possible. Go after terrorist groups.

I've stated before that WMD was a red herring meant for misleading the Arab nations into complacency during the war. It's just unfortunate that the Americans are misleaded as well because, in this world of interconnected instant communication and mass media, you can't trick one without tricking the other.

Your alternative of stating the true cause openly (that we want to eliminate all totalitarian regimes, and that means you, you, and you) would incite active, and even armed, oppositions from the neighbour countries of Iraq, making the operation in there a lot more difficult. And that scenario wouldn't go well with your "taking on one country at a time" strategy, would it?

As long as they stay committed to that goal, they can redeem themselves for the mistakes that were made. But if they start running off and mucking up more countries before they stabilize the ones they've already toppled, we're in for a few decades of problems.

That I agree with you. But I don't think the US administration has any plan to physically invade and install democracy in another country any time soon. Nonetheless they must still maintain that threat, and they must show an appearance of a will to go to war again, otherwise the other regimes won't play nice.

yep, I'm Canadian

Believe it or not, so am I.
posted by VeGiTo at 11:01 AM on December 23, 2003


Well, clavdivs, you just keep telling yourself that when people talk about "ugly americans," they're actually meaning it as a complement.

Such self-deception is an essential part of being an ugly American.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:05 AM on December 23, 2003


VeGiTo: "I've stated before that WMD was a red herring meant for misleading the Arab nation..."

That's an interesting suggestion. Obviously there's no way to test or prove that theory except in time. I hope you're right.

"Your alternative of stating the true cause openly (that we want to eliminate all totalitarian regimes, and that means you, you, and you)..."

No, not specifics. That's part of the problem we have now. "We're going after nations with WMD" makes North Korea nervous, gave legitimacy (indirectly) to the Iranian fundamental theocracy, appears to be bullshit when they maintain allies like Pakistan, and allows the various dictatorial third world nations that do not have and have no intentions of acquiring WMDs to continue with business as usual. If they had said "we're going after terrorist groups and the people who support them", NK wouldn't feel threatened, Iran would still feel the need to address the concerns of the upcoming generation, Pakistan would at least try to keep its fundamentalists at home, and it would force the petty despots around the globe to at least offer token reforms for fear the Marines would be coming for them next.

But let's see how the Americans do in Afghanistan and Iraq long-term. They may yet pull this one off, in spite of themselves. As long as there's a healthy does of opposition holding them accountable for their mistakes, they should be eager to avoid the most egregious of them. They started badly, but they have a history of (mostly) finishing strong.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 12:14 PM on December 23, 2003


ok, 1867. Canada as a country.
I'll replace "Canada" with Quebec.

British impress American sailors 1803-1812. High seas British captains took over 10,000 American citizens to man ships.


The United States declared War on Great Britain on June 12, 1812. The war was declared as a result of long simmering disputes with Great Britian. The central dispute surrounded the impressment of American soldiers by the British. The British had previously attacked the USS Chesapeake and nearly caused a war two year earlier. In addition, disputes continued with Great Britain over the Northwest Territories and the border with Canada. Finally, the attempts of Great Britain to impose a blockade on France during the Napoleonic Wars was a constant source of conflict with the United States.

American born wars huh, sounds prophetic.

Who would'nt want to start a war with the British during this period. "freedom" and all.

since both were American-began wars
so it WAS 'america' and not the colony of the British Empire that started the war.


Naw F3, no complement was my intent. The title, I believe, is to show how american ignorance is called "ugly" rather then ignorance.
like an american being called a barbarian or demon simply because they have an abundance of body hair. (as a small example)
see, the body hair is not barbaric, though ones behavior could be.
posted by clavdivs at 12:30 PM on December 23, 2003


"....In order for Libya to capitulate, the US has to proof that it is willing to use force against countries that are even thinking about becoming a threat, even when they don't represent an immediate danger." ( VeGito ) - Hmmm. Tom Friedman's support for the invasion of Iraq tipped the political balance towards war, I've recently heard some claim. Lately, he's been saying that the French are becoming an enemy of the US. So, do you think.........
posted by troutfishing at 12:55 PM on December 23, 2003


As long as there's a healthy does of opposition holding them accountable for their mistakes, they should be eager to avoid the most egregious of them.

Spot on. I may sound like a reckless right-winger at times, but as much as I think the current foreign policies of the United States make perfect sense, I am glad to see that there are, and there always will be, relentless oppositions pulling them the other way. The opposition helps keep things in balance, forces the government to think and justify all its risky actions, and prevents the US from truly becoming the monstrous war machine that so many prophesize. Even for me, there is such thing as "too much war". I just happen to think that the current policies are in the sweet spot.
posted by VeGiTo at 12:55 PM on December 23, 2003


> admits US policies showing results

surrender monkeys.


"The Prince of Wu took a boat to Monkey Mountain. As soon as the monkeys saw him they all fled in panic and hid in the treetops. One monkey, however, remained, completely unconcerned, swinging from branch to branch -- an extraordinary display! The Prince shot an arrow at the monkey, but the monkey dexterously caught the arrow in mid-flight. At this the Prince ordered his attendants to make a concerted attack. In an instant the monkey was shot full of arrows and fell dead."

-Chuang Tzu

(fitting huh)
posted by clavdivs at 1:41 PM on December 23, 2003


Vegito is an ugly Canadian? I am so ashamed.

I personally apologize to everyone for his behaviour, and I must emphasize that Vegito is NOT representative of typical Canadian thought, attitude, or behaviour.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:49 PM on December 23, 2003


I personally apologize to everyone for his behaviour

That's awfully nice of you. Wouldn't want to agitate the cabal any further with those pesky contrarian opinions of his.
posted by MrBaliHai at 2:55 PM on December 23, 2003


Hitchens: "The greatest act of public diplomacy that the Bush team could now perform would be a high-level initiative to detoxify and denuclearize the Kashmir question. This is a far more dangerous and urgent question than Palestine. (Indeed, al-Qaida probably originates more from the Kashmiri swamp than it does from the Middle Eastern one.)"
posted by homunculus at 3:25 PM on December 23, 2003


Do as we say, not as we do.
posted by homunculus at 5:18 PM on December 23, 2003


I may sound like a reckless right-winger at times

As Jon Stewart would say, "Whaaa??"

Nofundy loves the contributions of homunculus, MeFi's own "little man." Thanks for making me laugh so often and bringing such valuable links to the conversations.
posted by nofundy at 5:14 AM on December 24, 2003


nofundy: "Men show their characters in nothing more clearly than in what they think laughable."
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
posted by kablam at 10:09 AM on December 24, 2003


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