A European voice makes good case for Bush.
October 28, 2002 9:56 AM   Subscribe

A European voice makes good case for Bush. Being ambivalent about Iraq, I found this to be one of the more thoughtful cases for Bush. Maybe if Dubya was making it this eloquently instead of lying and stonewalling people would be more supportive.
posted by McBain (26 comments total)
The surname "Bush" is only mentioned once in the article.
posted by raysmj at 10:05 AM on October 28, 2002

Yes, but the piece is says that if the UN continues to stall, the US should "rightly" act unilaterally.
posted by McBain at 10:14 AM on October 28, 2002

What I want to know is what is in it for the French? Why are they being impossible?
posted by swinginjohn at 10:15 AM on October 28, 2002

Still seems pretty muddled to me... terrorism is not really such a big problem? Nation states are? I don't buy it. There's no sense in which Iraq is actually dangerous to the U.S. as a nation state -- other than its ability to foster terrorism. And while that connection may exist, neither this article nor the Bush administration have ever made a convincing argument for it.

I'm not saying there isn't a case to be made -- there is, Iraq is not a good place, and the conditions that make it what it is also can foster terrorist philosophies and actions, and then there's the Salman Pak training camp. But as I've said before, the failure to make a good case when there's one to be made indicates either the operation of other (probably objectionable) motives, or incompetence.
posted by namespan at 10:17 AM on October 28, 2002

Oil. The French need Saddam in power for any of the deals they've made to pan out.

namespan: The author is saying that Terrorism is a serious problem, but it's bound to lose without the assistance of a powerful nation state - that dealing with terrorists is much easier when you don't have to worry about them acquiring nukes or other hard to produce weapons of mass destruction. Take out Iraq and the some of the terrorists' key source for funding, research, and functional weapons evaporates. Best case scenario: the fall of Hussein will also put a big hole in the foundations of the Arab Nationalism/Muslim Fundamentalism culture that's at the root of all this hatred. But at the very least we'll have removed their only source of really big bombs and leave them with no alternative. The job won't be over then, but removing Saddam is urgent and key to the overall success of the plan.
posted by techgnollogic at 10:28 AM on October 28, 2002

Hey, England has warbloggers too!
posted by solistrato at 10:39 AM on October 28, 2002

the problem with this article is that, while it makes the point that "rogue states" are a danger, it neither defines what such a state is nor makes the case that Iraq is one.

the mention of al Q. is silly, too -- sure, Afghanistan was a base of operations, but the attack itself wasn't state-sponsored, and it didn't use the resources or weapons of A-stan -- the notion that this most damaging attack was anything other than a counterexample to the article's main assertion (that state sponsored attacks are more dangerous than regular terrorism) is dubious, i think.
posted by hnice at 10:39 AM on October 28, 2002

I am surprised that it not noted that the French have an oil compnay--I forget their name--that has a greater stake in Iraqui oil than any other nation in the world. And that is what pushes French "policy." If the Left is constantly harping on the oil issue, then in fairness they ought to note too that the oil issue is there for the Peacenhiks--France. and that's no gas.
posted by Postroad at 10:46 AM on October 28, 2002

posted by ParisParamus at 10:55 AM on October 28, 2002

Totale is the company, or is it Elf? In either case, this doesn't explain much, because the spoils would be at least as good in a post-Saddam Iraq sans OPEC.
posted by ParisParamus at 11:21 AM on October 28, 2002

posted by Espoo2 at 11:35 AM on October 28, 2002

at the very least we'll have removed their only source of really big bombs and leave them with no alternative. The job won't be over then, but removing Saddam is urgent and key to the overall success of the plan.

I understand the argument, it's just that I don't believe that Iraq is the only source of really big bombs. In fact, I see it as a very small potential leak in a big basket full of lots of holes. Pakistan, India, Russia, former Russian states all seem like bigger problems to me. All leak like sieves, and are known to have the weapons the administration speculates Sadaam is developing or could develop, and terrorist connections within each don't seem unlikely. Iraq seems very low on the threat ladder, and I haven't seen it demonstrated that they have any prediliction to cooperate with fundamentalists.

I personally think that Iraq as it stands is fertile soil for terrorism for other reasons, and that a truly liberating war for Iraq which sets up a state run on rule-of-law and democratic principles could be a true victory against terrorism. But the background and arguments advanced by the current U.S. administration make me think they have something else in mind.
posted by namespan at 12:04 PM on October 28, 2002

It is ludicrous that some of those complaining that Russian troops used a disabling gas when storming the Moscow theatre on Saturday appear not to be disturbed about Saddam Hussein’s secret stocks of substantially more poisonous material.

This is spurious. It's possible to be plenty "disturbed" about Saddam's possible weapon supplies, but think that attacking Iraq is a bad idea. If people against attacking Iraq were arguing for *attacking* Russia over its use of gas, this argument would make sense.
posted by originalname37 at 12:19 PM on October 28, 2002

Actually, you can't know with a great deal of certainty what a post-US invasion Iraq will look like. But we do know it won't have operational WMD or a nuclear program. And we wil have sawed off, or cut down the most odious leg of an utterly depraved table (the other three legs being Iran, Saudi Arabia and Syria).

It's really close to a no-brainer. Take Iraq out now, in a managable way, or take it out later, where the stakes are horrific.
posted by ParisParamus at 12:20 PM on October 28, 2002

"A Hitler, Stalin or Pol Pot could doubtless have inflicted carnage as a lone assailant, a suicide bomber or the leader of a terrorist outfit. But those casualties would be as nought when compared with what they were capable of doing when placed in control of a country."

Stalin and Pol Pot killed populaces under their own rule, much as Iraq did the Kurds(and Mao did the Chinese). Hitler was a threat to other nations due to Germany's manufacturing base allowing it to construct an army, air force, and navy that projected force onto other nations(as well as conducting it's own internal genocide). The USSR was also capable of projecting force, and yet was deterred for fifty years before collapsing.

What can Saddam project? Scud rockets filled with bio or gas weapons onto Israel? He's had that capability for 15 years, while Israel has had nuclear arms to oppose Saddam's threat. How long would Iraq exist as a country if Saddam dropped bio or gas weapons on Israel? An hour?

the fall of Hussein will also put a big hole in the foundations of the Arab Nationalism/Muslim Fundamentalism culture that's at the root of all this hatred.

Saddam is a big hole in the Arab Nationalism/Muslim Fundamentalism culture's sphere of influence right now. Saddam runs a big secular tyranny, and fought an eight year war with the original modern militant Muslim Fundamentalist exporter, Iran and the Ayatollah Khomeini. That's why he was an American ally during the Reagan administration(for defending Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, ironically).

But at the very least we'll have removed their only source of really big bombs and leave them with no alternative.

The elements of Al Quaeda that escaped Afghanistan reportedly went to Pakistan, and is suspected of being there today. Unlike Iraq, Pakistan actually has nuclear weapons.

Is Saddam a threat? To Iraqi citizens, certainly. To Israel, only once, but it looks like he's brought a knife to a gun fight on that one. To the US? That's crazy talk, and has nothing to back it up.

And pretending that an invasion of Iraq is somehow related to the war on Terrorism(i.e. al Quaeda, and other militant operations operating under the misappropriated flag of Islamic fundamentalism) is just disingenuous, to be generous.

If the argument is that Saddam is a blow-hole, and just needs killing, because things will be better in Iraq for Iraqis, then just say so. Explain how we are going to get that to work, and commit yourself and the country to doing the whole job. Some of the people questioning the war on Iraq could be convinced that liberating a country from tyranny and moving it to a democracy is a fight worth committing troops.

But talk of Iraq not being ready for democracy, and the aftermath of the war will just take care of itself is just unseemly. It reeks of Afghanistan after the Russians were chased out, and we all know how well that worked out.

A functioning, egalitarian democracy at the birthplace of civilization could most definitely be used as a political club against the militant fundamentalists. A land war functioning as an assassination, with the benefits in the aftermath accruing to a few power brokers and some international corporations will not be seen that way anywhere in the world, let alone the Arab states.

If instead of business as usual, there were women voting in free elections to the North, that would make the Saudi Royal Family extremely nervous. And they would have a damn good reason to nervous, for once.

Yeah, I know; get your own blog, fuck-wit.
posted by dglynn at 12:32 PM on October 28, 2002

Let's just take it out later then.
posted by Espoo2 at 12:33 PM on October 28, 2002

Thanks for posting this link. I'm always hungry for well-spoken views on Iraq and the "War on Terrorism" that differ from my own and I think this was a good example.

But I think the most serious flaw in his reasoning was his failure to justify why he thought that only nation-state sponsored terrorist organizations represent relevant threats.

If not money, what can a nation offer a terrorist organization that it could not gain via clandestine meetings in basements across the world? Is it just a matter of needing real estate to pitch tents and targets?

What seems most fearful about the idea of terrorist threat is how easily these operations seem to gestate. McVeigh didn't need Oklahoma's soverign support. Only a book, a farm-supply store, and a truck, right?
posted by Pinwheel at 1:14 PM on October 28, 2002

Just thought I'd mention that the Times of London is owned by the Murdoch/News Corp group, who also own, for example, Fox News. (And before anyone says anything, yes I know, critique the message, not the messenger.) But it does indicate that this is not necessarily an alternative, or particularly European, editorial viewpoint.
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:36 PM on October 28, 2002

Yeah, I know; get your own blog, fuck-wit.

Huh? I like your response. What do you mean?
posted by McBain at 2:05 PM on October 28, 2002

It's possible to be plenty "disturbed" about Saddam's possible weapon supplies, but think that attacking Iraq is a bad idea.

Or you could be like me, and be relatively undisturbed about Saddam's potential weapons, and still think a change in Iraq (possibly brought about by an attack) might be a good thing for humanitarian reasons. Which aren't called on much. Possibly because the administration doesn't believe in them.
posted by namespan at 2:12 PM on October 28, 2002

Just referring to the interminable length of my post, McBain. Merely an attempt at humor.
posted by dglynn at 2:40 PM on October 28, 2002

ParisParamus -'It's really close to a no-brainer'

i would agree with you, but for different reasons.
terrorist attacks by muslim fundamentalists drive moderates away from fundamentalism. attacks by the us on iraq/afghanistan (impoverished muslim states) drive moderates towards fundamentalism.
al-queda wants a islam vs. christian war.
bush seems to want to give it to them.
it is my opinion that the us has been attempting to stymie any resolution of the iraq 'situation' since the gulf war (in which 200,000 people lost their lives, RIP) and provoke saddam into using some of his small armoury of weapons. this may have been to preserve an enemy for times like these, when a 'real' target needs to be bombed to show the efficacy of the floundering TWAT.
as i have oft repeated, it is also my opinion that using force to impose your will shows a degenerate lack of humanity.
posted by asok at 4:21 PM on October 28, 2002

oh, and it is precisely because of the continued onslaught on iraq, via sanctions and bombings, that saddam is still in power.
there is nothing like the unity felt when a people feel they have a common enemy. there has not been any room for dissent.
posted by asok at 4:24 PM on October 28, 2002

I too was yearning for some realistic explanation of why we should attack Iraq, and instead got the simplest logical fallacy:

Bad things are caused by states.
Iraq is a state.
Therefore, bad things are caused by Iraq.

Mmmm, nice, and my dog's a cat.
posted by bonaldi at 5:10 PM on October 28, 2002

OK, I realize this thread may be dead, but I will go on anyway. First, nice post dglynn. Second, if our goal is to overthrow Saddam and put in place a democratic government etc., what plan is there for that? We had no plan for Afghanistan after the Soviets left. What if the people of Iraq democratically elect an Islamic Fundamentalist government? Do we just say "that vote doesn't count, keep voting until you get something we like?" Just raising some post war dream questions....
posted by Eekacat at 8:34 PM on October 28, 2002

Thanks, eekacat.

I've seen no plan for building a democratic Iraq.

That, combined with the half efforts in Afghanistan, is the part that makes me so skeptical that the US policy is to lead Iraq into the warm sunshine of representative government.

And the alternatives are all those things that anti-idiotarians claim are merely anti-captalist conspiracy theories. I've proposed an alternative, and I could be talked into supporting that path, if I believed that the administration was actually working towards that goal. I've also heard a lot of people flapping their gums about the left merely opposing, and not having any alternatives to Bush's proposal, but I don't see where Bush's proposals have anything beyond the first act that they are willing to tell me about.

So, what am I supposed to think? Show me a plan, give me a long term goal, tell me how we are going to get there. Frankly, it looks like another example of that traditional Bush family weakness, the vision thing.
posted by dglynn at 10:04 PM on October 28, 2002

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