View Full Version : A War Policy in Collapse

Chris Alger
03-08-2003, 12:25 AM
I still think war in the next month is likely, but no longer inevitable. At the beginning of the campaign last summer, it seemed like the traditional foreign policy establishment, the power articulated by spokespersons like Baker, Kissinger, Scowcroft and Brzezinski -- indicated its willingness to go along with the Cheney/Rumsfeld/Wolfowitz plan to sack Saddam, provided they obtain a modicum of international support. Until last week, Powell confident that China and Russia would abstain and France could be threatened with isolation, and that enough other votes could be purchased.

The U.S. is now looking at 3 vetos, the Brits retreating, Turkey in outright mutiny and Ariel Sharon, his madman's political acumen unabated, commencing Operation Manslaughter in the Gaza Strip, as if to prove how little Bush cares for democracy, human rights, or UN resolutions when they interefere with US power. Bush's popularity rating is now lower than at any time since before 9/11. While most people swallow the line about Saddam being a threat, they don't trust Bush to lead us into war alone. And now Blix has announced that Iraq has met the only deadline its been given and that the inspections progress -- unwelcome and hated by the White House -- continues in fits and starts. Even centrist wimps like Daschle are condemning unilateralism.

Two other signs from the war camp: (1) the hardcores that remain lashed to the mast are becoming more shrill and strident -- witness John Warner on Lehrer tonight and Bush's constant references to 9/11 in his press conference, even though the smart conservatives have been telling him to stop embarrassing himself -- as if they knew they were cornered and running out of ammo; and (2) the more reserved, quasi-objective types that would be falling over themselves praising Bush if everything were going well are now highlighting the risks of unilateral war, still mostly blaming the Europeans, but with an unsubtle subtext that Bush's people have failed to rise to the occasion. This is what you see when they see the need for daylight between themselves and what might prove to be bad policy.

To make predictions harder, there's a good no-war exit strategy that Bush could adopt of he weren't so dependent on advisors that he knows are smarter than he is: indefinitely postpone the invasion, leave some units in place, claim that his threat of force has resulted in disarmament, but blame Europe, the democrats and the peaceniks for all the terrorism and unrest emanating from the Middle East during the next few years. After all, boogey-man propaganda strategies tend to work pretty well for a few years and fade into oblivion (Castro, Khomeini, Qaddafi). It's a lot cheaper than conquoring and administering Iraq for 5 years, especially since the last military man with solid experience at operating a U.S. colony was McArthur.

The problem is that about a third of the US public and virtually all of the conservative faithful are chomping at the bit to invade, and will throw themselves crying on their trenches if they think they've been stabbed in the back again.

So I have no idea what's going to happen. Bush might have painted himself into the smallest corner that any President has seen since 1974. If so, it will be particularly embittering to conservatives that sputtered as Clinton slipped out of impeachment even though everyone in the country knew he was a liar. They've lionized his replacement as a monument of moral character, but who's one Big Policy will have failed because everyone in the world knows he's a liar.

James Carroll gave a better voice to some of these thoughts three days ago in the Boston Globe:

A War Policy in Collapse
James Carroll, Boston Globe, 3/4/3

WHAT A DIFFERENCE a month makes. On Feb. 5, Secretary of State Colin Powell made the Bush administration's case against Iraq with a show of authority that moved many officials and pundits out of ambivalence and into acceptance. The war came to seem inevitable, which then prompted millions of people to express their opposition in streets around the globe. Over subsequent weeks, the debate between hawks and doves took on the strident character of ideologues beating each other with fixed positions. The sputtering rage of war opponents and the grandiose abstractions of war advocates both seemed disconnected from the relentless marshaling of troops. War was coming. Further argument was fruitless. The time seemed to have arrived, finally, for a columnist to change the subject.

And then the events of last week. Within a period of a few days, the war policy of the Bush administration suddenly showed signs of incipient collapse. No one of these developments by itself marks the ultimate reversal of fortune for Bush, but taken together, they indicate that the law of ''unintended consequences,'' which famously unravels the best-laid plans of warriors, may apply this time before the war formally begins. Unraveling is underway. Consider what happened as February rolled into March:

<ul type="square"> The presidenTony Blair forcefully criticized George W. Bush for his obstinacy on global environmental issues, a truly odd piece of timing for such criticism from a key ally yet a clear effort to get some distance from Washington. Why now? [/list]
<ul type="square"> The President's father chose to give a speech affirming the importance both of multinational cooperation and of realism in dealing with the likes of Saddam Hussein. To say, as the elder Bush did, that getting rid of Hussein in 1991 was not the most important thing is to raise the question of why it has become the absolute now. [/list]
<ul type="square"> For the first time since the crisis began, Iraq actually began to disarm, destroying Al Samoud 2 missiles and apparently preparing to bring weapons inspectors into the secret world of anthrax and nerve agents. The Bush administration could have claimed this as a victory on which to mount further pressure toward disarmament. [/list]
<ul type="square"> Instead, the confirmed destruction of Iraqi arms prompted Washington to couple its call for disarmament with the old, diplomatically discredited demand for regime change. Even an Iraq purged of weapons of mass destruction would not be enough to avoid war. Predictably, Iraq then asked, in effect, why Hussein should take steps to disarm if his government is doomed in any case? Bush's inconsistency on this point -- disarmament or regime change? -- undermined the early case for war. That it reappears now, obliterating Powell's argument of a month ago, is fatal to the moral integrity of the prowar position. [/list]
<ul type="square"> The Russian foreign minister declared his nation's readiness to use its veto in the Security Council to thwart American hopes for a UN ratification of an invasion. [/list]
<ul type="square"> Despite Washington's offer of many billions in aid, the Turkish Parliament refused to approve US requests to mount offensive operations from bases in Turkey -- the single largest blow against US war plans yet. This failure of Bush diplomacy, eliminating a second front, might be paid for in American lives. [/list]
<ul type="square"> The capture in Pakistan of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, a senior Al Qaeda operative, should have been only good news to the Bush administration, but it highlighted the difference between the pursuit of Sept. 11 culprits and the unrelated war against Iraq. Osama bin Laden, yes. Saddam Hussein, no. [/list]
<ul type="square"> Administration officials, contradicting military projections and then refusing in testimony before Congress to estimate costs and postwar troop levels, put on display either the administration's inadequate preparation or its determination, through secrecy, to thwart democratic procedures -- choose one. [/list]
<ul type="square"> In other developments, all highlighting Washington's panicky ineptness, the Philippines rejected the help of arriving US combat forces, North Korea apparently prepared to start up plutonium production, and Rumsfeld ordered the actual deployment of missile defense units in California and Alaska, making the absurd (and as of now illegal) claim that further tests are unnecessary. [/list]

All of this points to an administration whose policies are confused and whose implementations are incompetent. The efficiency with which the US military is moving into position for attack is impressive; thousands of uniformed Americans are preparing to carry out the orders of their civilian superiors with diligence and courage. But the hollowness of that civilian leadership, laid bare in the disarray of last week's news, is breathtaking.

That the United States of America should be on the brink of such an ill-conceived, unnecessary war is itself a crime. The hope now is that -- even before the war has officially begun -- its true character is already manifesting itself, which could be enough, at last, to stop it.

03-08-2003, 01:14 AM
"We intervene to put an end to savagery. We intervene not for conquest, not for aggrandizement; we intervene for humanity's sake; we intervene to gain security for the future; we intervene to aid a people who have suffered every form of tyranny and who have made a desperate struggle to be free. We intervene upon the highest possible ground."

Senator John Spooner, 1898

Chris Alger
03-08-2003, 01:40 AM
Great quote. Also remember McKinley's comment about the need to "uplift and Christianize" the Filipinos (about 80% Catholic).

1898, huh?

"The war that erupted [in the Philippines in February 1899] continued for three years ... [U.S. troops] killed outright 15,000 rebels, and estimates run as high as 200,000 Filipinos dying from gunfire, starvation, and the effects of concentration camps into which the United States crowded civilans so that they could not help Aguinaldo's troops." W. LaFeber, The American Age, 1989, p.202

03-08-2003, 10:21 AM
One of my concerns about the impending war is this... (Keeping in mind the post-Vietnam attitudes about US casualties - they aren't allowed. The US public can be brought to accept armed conflict, but they don't accept casualties. Gulf War 1 and Afghanistan are perfect examples - massive bombardment followed up by armed clean-up crews - neither having significant casualties. Furthermore, most US casualties in Gulf War 1 were caused by us, not them (training accidents, friendly fire, etc).)

If the situation is as I believe it is, then this is what will likely transpire: Iraq is basically defenseless - we've been bombing their defense and communications infrastructure for years, and have increased those raids recently. If they have hidden caches of chemical or biological weapons, they're either inacessible due to the UN inspections/sanctions or undeliverable in any relevant quantities. We'll declare war, then lay into Iraq with a viscious shore-based, ship-based and air-based bombardment. Our tanks will then roll unopposed across Iraq supported by complete aerial supremacy. If the Iraqi armed forces decide they want to pull a "Fortress Baghdad", then we can surround the place and contined the multi-faceted bombardment, only this time directed at any remotely threatening-looking location within city limits. Invariably, the city collapses and we discover either that Hussein has committed suicide or, more likely, gone the way of bin Laden (missing, presumed dead - which means either that, or that someone captured him and doesn't feel like sharing). We win the big victory, and in the process mutilate Iraq's infrastructure and slaughter thousands of Iraqi civilians (because it's better politically to kill 1000 Iraqis than it is to risk losing 10 US soldiers, so we now always take the "better safe than sorry" route militarily). Of course, all this was easily possible because Iraq was both defenseless and not the proud owner of vast supplies of WMD as our government keeps preaching. (Or course, we'll 'find' mass supplies somewhere, but no reasonable explanation will be given as to why they weren't used - we just need the evidence to justify the invasion.) Basically, we win a war that simply wasn't justified in the manner it was promoted, and we win the war easily because it wasn't justified in the manner it was promoted.

Now, if the situation is as some others believe it is, then this is what will likely transpire: Iraq is a kettle waiting to boil over. They're sitting on vast supplies of WMD, and while they've clearly demonstrated no interest in using them militarily in the past dozen plus years, the promise that a US invasion will end in the death of all Iraqi military leaders changes that equation. These vast supplies of chemical and biological weapons are released either upon initiation of hostilities (opening of the above-mentioned bombardment) in a "use it or lose it" approach, or they're used once US forces march onto Iraqi soil if the delivery methods require this. If possible, WMD are also somehow lobbed into Israel. Either way, no amount of gas masks and protective suits can prevent the inevitable loss of thousands of civilian and US military lives. Of course, this is completely unacceptable to the US nation. Rather than risk the likelihood of continued WMD-style attacks (and - God forbid - more casualties in a wdar) as we complete the invasion/forced regime change, and using the justification that Hussein will surely pull a Hitler and gas Baghdad once we walk through the gates killing thousands of both them and us, we push the button and turn Baghdad into a nuclear wasteland. (Essentially the same rationale as the first two - better hundreds of thousands of them than thousands of us.) Not only does the US now rule over a mutilated country, but it can't even get at much of the oil there for many, many years. I haven't really through through the further consequences of this second option since, as I think I've argued before, I consider it highly unlikely. (Since we're so pathologically opposed to military engagements involving the risk of US casualties, I can't see us sending the troops into an opponent we know both possesses WMD and will use them in a final gesture of defiance.)

Any thoughts?

03-08-2003, 10:37 AM
a: im here to see major major

b: im sorry you cant see major major now.

a: but i just saw him come in.

b: yes but you cant see him now.

a: well when can i see him?

b: as soon as he leaves you can go in to see him.

John Cole
03-08-2003, 01:50 PM
Yesterday, on NPR, I listended to an interview wih a US ambassador. He firmly believes that France, Germany, and Russia will fall into line and vote with us when a final resolution is reached at the UN. He sees their disent as mere posturing right now.


03-08-2003, 02:51 PM
I actually think it would probably be better if they vote against us--thereby highlighting the anachronistic, ineffective structure of the fundamentally flawed U.N.

Let the U.N. die a natural death--to be replaced eventually by an organization of Free States.

03-08-2003, 06:10 PM

At least you're honest about it - if an organization is going to have the gall to disagree with the US, it shouldn't even be in existence. (We'll ignore for now the reality that it's precisely the "Free States" that are voting against the US.)

Chris Alger
03-08-2003, 09:55 PM
Maybe. There's a question about what would exist of the UN without US support. OTOH, the ambassador's comment would be more credible if he had left out Germany, which has no veto power and whose vote the US shouldn't need. The strong comments I heard yesterday from China, Russia and France suggested not "posturing" but foreclose of any willingness to go along with the US and its junior partner. My guess is that the ambassador is fostering the false impression that the U.S. is pursuing diplomacy up until the time of the invasion.

In the meantime:

The UK Daily Telegraph reports that British troops have been told the invasion is on for March 17;

US and UK bombers are hitting targets all over Iraq;

Mysterious exploisions around Baghdad suggest that special forces are already blowing things up to guage Iraq's reaction times and patterns;

Kuwaitis are cutting holes in the fence seperating them from Iraq. The holes are large enough to drive military vehicles through and were made at the direction of US Marines. This is illegal, but US officials could care less:

"By U.N. mandate, no military activity other than a police presence by Iraq and Kuwait may take place in the DMZ. Technically, if U.S. troops go through breaches in the demilitarized zone fence to enter Iraq from the south, they would be in violation of Security Council rules, and that would be reported to the United Nations.
U.S. officials said Friday that scenario was not a concern because any war with Iraq would be justified because of Iraq's treatment of Kuwait in the past and possible mistreatment in the future."
CNN (today)

"Possible" mistreatment "in the future." Watching the TV commentators pontificate about Bush's commitment to the law of disarmament is like watching French intellectuals in a grave discussion about the semiotics of Jerry Lewis movies.

Also, UN officials are being evacuated from the Kuwaiti-Iraq border, as of today.

John Cole
03-09-2003, 12:35 AM

Yu might not enjoy the French on Lewis, but I think you'd find the collective reading by Cahiers du Cinema of John Ford's Young Mr. Licoln fascinating.


Ray Zee
03-09-2003, 07:40 AM

the only two purposes the un serves is to get countries to get together and sit down and talk

and to at least get some money from other countries for what they get in international benefits.

03-09-2003, 11:29 AM
The U.N. provides an artificially amplified voice to dictatorships and to hardly relevant countries, due to its flawed structure.

It has long served as a forum for the advancement of special interests rather than as an organization genuinely dedicated to furthering the causes of peace, liberty and human rights.

I actually think the idea of a forum where countries can get together and talk is a great idea. However trying to give such a forum immense legal clout, and giving small and/or tyrannical countries an equal say in many ways, are IMO poor bases for such an organization.

Why the US should have to worry about which way Cameroon or New Guinea votes on the Iraq war is beyond me. We have a national security decision to make (one way or the other)--and what Cameroon thinks doesn't really matter, except in the U.N.--but we'll probably have to pay them off to get their vote.

The U.N. structure allows the Arab states to gang up politically on Israel. It also allows those, such as China, who have a vested interest in thwarting us on virtually any issue, a vehicle to become actual impediments rather than mere voices in the background.

What kind of moral legitimacy can the U.N. have when its structure calls for apppointing Iraq to be the next Chairman of the U.N. Disarmament Committee, and Libya the next Chair of Human Rights?

I'd really love to see a forum where countries could meet to discuss things sincerely with the aims of furthering human rights, liberty, and common interests. But I feel the U.N. has become a political battleground, and that it has enough legal credibility to create major obstacles to rational progress.

Also, I don't feel that our security or sovereignty should be subjugated to a international body.

I recently read that when the U.N. was founded, the USSR got 3 votes and the USA got 1 vote (although I have not yet confirmed this independently). Ever since then, it has had a distinctly anti-US bias--and I feel this is in part due to its overall flawed structure.

I see the U.N. as being more counterproductive than productive, generally speaking, although the initial conception may have been a great idea.

Ideals don't always translate into reality very well, although I sure wish they did.

End of rant;-)

Chris Alger
03-09-2003, 10:58 PM
This is a good point because it shows how the assumptions that supposedly justify war actually counsel against it. Although there is some debate about whether war will increase the risk of terrorism by others, there is little discussion about whether war will increase the chance of retalliation by Iraq, even though the certainty that this is likely follows from the assumptions that justify the war.

The conventional argument holds that Iraq has WMD and canot be 'trusted" to refrain from using or disseminating them in the future. As a result, war is necessary to eliminate the threat.

The same argument could have been used in the 1980's to justify a first strike against the Soviet Union. In that case, however, the stakes were so high that the response was obvious: it would be suicide because it would ensure a similar response. Deterrence might fail, but attack would guarantee the result that war was supposed to prevent. Everyone knew that war could not possibly eliminate the threat.

In Iraq's case, war's ability to eliminate the threat, at least after an initial volley against U.S. forces, is generally assumed, and in fact remains unchallenged in virtually all "respectable" discussion. But it's hard to imagine how Saddam could not have a delivery system capable of inflicting WMD on US civilians for many years to come.

For example, one US government disaster scenario posits that two people with small amounts of antrhax and a small airplane could kill 3 million residents of Washington, D.C. Saddam's ability to do the same in the event of war, even after his own demise, should be just as certain as the USSR's ability to retalliate against a US first strike. The Mexican and Canadian borders remain porous. A handful of his agents with few supplies and modest expertise could inflict unprecedented disaster. A legion of highly-trained, well-stocked retalliators could create uncalculable harm. Or Saddam could arrange to funnel any WMD to al Qaeda or some other group -- such as former Iraqi secret police or Republican Guard leaders facing execution if the US invades --and sensibly assume that they will make their way to their intended victims. I saw last week on TV that Saddam supposedly has an untraceable personal fortune of some $30-$40 billion, many times that of bin Laden. In the right hands, these resources could gaurantee unlimited carnage indefinitely.

I have not seen any explanation of how war could preclude this from happening. I'm confident that the reason is that war could not possibly do so. The only counterarguments, which are that Saddam is either unable or not incined to retalliate, obviously undermine the basic arguments for war.

It seems that either one of two things are true: (1) Iraq's WMD threat to the U.S. has been so grossly exaggerated as to be minimal even when Iraq is presented with the maximum case for unleashing them; or (2) those US officials that desire war accept the chance of a WMD retalliation as a worthwhile price.

If the latter, perhaps they are right. The absence of widespread media emphasis on this obvious risk, however, helps explain why the American public (while opposed in the majority to unilateral action) is unique among the people of the world in its support for war. Perhaps Americans are more inclined toward war, that they are less appreciative of the costs and more enamored of war's supposed benefits. More likely, however, is that the information that would allow them to make a rudimentary cost-benefit analysis has been less widely circulated in the U.S. than it has in other countries.

03-10-2003, 11:51 AM
Barring an unforeseen disaster, I can't imagine the U.S. using nuclear weapons against Iraq. Practically speaking, I would guess we could do whatever needed to be done with conventional weapons, without killing hundreds of thousands of civilians unnecessarily. The political fallout from using nukes would just be too high.

If some great disaster happens (another 9-11 scale event that we think was done by Iraq), I suppose this could change.

03-10-2003, 12:05 PM
its been reported in the news that US has 'superbombs' that are roughly equivalent to a small nuke (i read to be hiroshima size yield).

so we'll see if that plays out into anything.

Chris Alger
03-10-2003, 01:26 PM
I bet I would and I'll try to find it.

It has occurred to me why U.S. diplomats are pretending to be optimistic about a second resolution: It forestalls discussion about an important but negative element of the war for as long as possible. A number of media organs and personalities have left their opinions on the war open depending on whether the U.S. obtains international sanction. By pretending the issue is still open, members of this group don't have to render an opinion about unilateral war. Then, when the U.S./UK invade on their own, they can duck the issue and hide behind the need to "support the troops."

03-10-2003, 01:36 PM
There were articles in the L.A. Times that we were considering using tactical nuclear weapons as the only effective way of getting to the Iraqi weapons hidden underground.

nicky g
03-10-2003, 01:51 PM
I suppose that would be rather convenient in that nothing would be left of those "bunkers" to prove or disprove the existance fo the weapons - though a MOAB would probably be just as good.

03-10-2003, 02:19 PM
nicky do you really suppose there is even a 1% chance that Saddam does not have WMD?

03-10-2003, 03:16 PM
we know hes got model airplanes, that should be good enough to justify a non nuclear strike at least.

03-10-2003, 03:16 PM
also was in news i think if saddam used chem/bio US would respond with nukes.

03-10-2003, 05:16 PM

nicky g
03-10-2003, 08:43 PM
I don't know about percentages. I'm sure he has some. I doubt he has enough to persuade anti-war populations that th war was worthwhile once they're discovered. I know that if they go to war without a UN resolution they will HAVE to "find" soemething or they will look like the idiots they are. I know Israel and the US and Pakistan and India and blah blah blah blah have WMD's. ANd I know that if I had to bet on who would use WMD's first, all those people excpt Israel would rank above an un-attacked Iraq on my list.

03-10-2003, 09:05 PM
ANd I know that if I had to bet on who would use WMD's first, all those people excpt Israel would rank above an un-attacked Iraq on my list.

Given that Saddam has used them in the past, why would you say that?

03-10-2003, 09:44 PM

But the truth is, all we know for certain is that Kurds were bombarded with poison gas that day at Halabja. We cannot say with any certainty that Iraqi chemical weapons killed the Kurds. This is not the only distortion in the Halabja story.

I am in a position to know because, as the Central Intelligence Agency's senior political analyst on Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war, and as a professor at the Army War College from 1988 to 2000, I was privy to much of the classified material that flowed through Washington having to do with the Persian Gulf. In addition, I headed a 1991 Army investigation into how the Iraqis would fight a war against the United States; the classified version of the report went into great detail on the Halabja affair.

03-11-2003, 01:35 AM
Former Senator Hart points outs that the administration says that one of the reasons we should go to war is because Iraq has violated UN resolutions; yet the UN does not want this war. And if Iraq constitutes an immediate threat to the United States, why should we care what the UN wants?

The administration deserves the trouble it is getting for making contradictory and illogical arguments. No one doubts the depravity of the current ruler of Iraq. But many doubt our administration can shoot straight.

Mark Heide
03-11-2003, 03:18 AM
The US actions clearly indicate regime change is the policy for Iraq. If the US can count on France, Russia, and China to use their veto power, Saddam will think he has more time to disarm because the US allies at the UN are divided. But, if the US administration is true to their word, we will go to war shortly after the March 17th deadline. Actually, I believe that if France, Russia, and China agreed with the deadline, there would be a good possibility that Saddam would disarm immeadiately.


Chris Alger
03-11-2003, 03:43 AM
Moreover, except for the handful of states that side with ours, the international democracy at the UN appears to be working well while American democracy has broken down. I have yet to see an opinion poll from any country that shows less than a solid majority against a US war with Iraq. In the U.S., I've seen a lot in the media about how the public tends to support the war, but when the polls are qualified by reasonably assumed negatives, such as lack of UN support, a prolonged conflict, high US or civilian casualties, or a "ground invasion" as opposed to mere "military force," support for war drops to less than 50%. When we note that the majority of the American public also believes things that are demonstrably unfounded, such as Iraq being or about to become a nuclear power and it's support for al Qaeda, "informed consent" likely declines to the level of support in most other countries, probably lower given the isolationist impulse.

The irony is bizarre: Iraq is supposedly about to be transformed into a resolution-abiding "democracy" by a country that sneers at the very notion of international law and UN resolutions (having blocked enforcement more often and more forcefully than any other country) and will do so in contravention of the majority will of every public in the world.

Chris Alger
03-11-2003, 03:52 AM
You're mixing apples and oranges. If our policy is regime change, that it makes no diffference if he disarms. In fact, disarmament would simply facilitate our goal of replacing Saddam. From his perspective, it would be suicidal.

It seems more likely that U.S. policy is regime change for reasons in addition to WMD, and that WMD and terrorism are pretexts for a policy that most people would otherwise not support.

nicky g
03-11-2003, 06:49 AM
"Given that Saddam has used them in the past, why would you say that? "

Hmmm. I seem to remember the US has used them in the past too. But, in the current context: because Saddam is contained, rules less than a half of his country, is in no position to start a war with his traditional targets (Iran, Kuwait, Israel, the Kurds).

On the other hand, Pakistan and India are constantly on the brink of war, and their leaders, particularly India's, are bigoted and stupid enough to use their new toys. Meanwhile, the US is currently talking about developing and using tactical nuclear weapons, and possibly other ones (for instance, just as Andy said, to destroy bunkers).
Finally, on a slightly different point, the US and UK are about to plaster Iraq with cluster bombs, daisy-cutters, MOABS and worst of all tonnes depleted uranium - given the collective detructive power and staying/poisoning power of these various weapons of slightly less mass destruction, I don't see a great moral high ground in evidence here. I won't bother going through the sanctions as WMDs argument again.

03-11-2003, 09:36 AM
Yes, the U.S. used them--nearly 60 years ago. I don't think that is relevant to whether we would use them today. Saddam, on the other hand, has used them, and I think that is relevant to whether he would use them again.

I don't think Pakistan or India, if it came down to it, would use nukes, for a similar reason to why the U.S. and U.S.S.R. never used them against each other--fear of nuclear retaliation.

I also don't believe the U.S. would use them first. Perhaps in response to a WMD attack, but not first. Aside from the morals, there would be too much political fallout. Maybe I have too much faith in our leaders, but thats the way I see it.

03-11-2003, 10:35 AM
CA: "and will do so in contravention of the majority will of every public in the world."

--but not in contravention of the will of the Iraqi people themselves who have long and desperately wanted to get rid of Saddam. Just ask any Iraqi exile.

Didn't most of the world oppose attacking Germany in WWII, even as Hitler began his conquests? Much carnage would have been prevented if the allies had acted "pre-emptively" when they saw the handwriting on the wall, or at least when Hitler rolled over Poland. To do so would have been far from the "popular opinion" but it would have prevented the greatest of horrors. Popular opinion isn't always right. But at least the wise see the need to rid the world of this sadistic tyrant, and the lurking menace he poses.

The majority of Iraqis want Saddam removed.

The majority of Americans want Saddam removed.

Most European countries have come out in support of the war, despite the deplorable actions of the Axis of Weasels.

What does it really matter what the rest of the world thinks anyway? They haven't lived under the tyranny of Saddam, or under the communist tyranny (why do you think all the countries of "New Europe" are in favor of this war? A clue: they realize the evils of totalitarianism, having lived under Soviet control for so long), nor did the rest of the world experience a 9/11.

Tyranny must be DEFEATED--there is no other way.

Appeasement is the philosophy of fools or those who refuse to learn from history.

On another note, I'm sure the Iraqi people appreciate "the Peace Movement"'s desire to consign them to further decades of tyranny under Saddam and his two evil sons. It's even more touching when they say it's for their own good and to save their lives.

Anyone got a bathtub full of Tums? I can't think of anything much more revolting.

03-11-2003, 10:54 AM
At last we agree on something, although I wouldn't call concern over Iraqi WMD and terrorism a "pretext"--it's just one of the main points the administration is choosing to focus on publicly.

There are, IMO, other reasons in addition to WMD and terrorism. I think the principal other reason is a central Mid-Eastern vantage point from which to convert Iran to a democracy (and actually the people of Iran are very ripe for such a change if they could just get the iron-fisted clerics out of the way), and from which to exert pressure on other regional sponsors of terror.

As Kasparov put it, "Once American ground troops are in Iraq, the message must go out to all regional sponsors of terror that this game is up." I believe that this is one of the administration's principal goals.

Regarding why regime change is a necessity: Saddam cannot in good faith disarm: it's simply too foreign to his nature--any attempts to do so would just be for show. The deception would continue to the extent he would feel he could get away with it. Asking Saddam to voluntarily and completely disarm in good faith would be sort of like requiring Hitler to stop persecuting and hating the Jews: it just would never happen, except perhaps superficially. As Saddam's ex-bodyguard put it: Saddam will never give up his WMD.

03-11-2003, 11:39 AM
' or at least when Hitler rolled over Poland. '

not really true since germany and russia simultaneously invaded russia.

p.s. from a logical standpoint iraqi exiles are self selected to be anti-saddam, although that doesnt mean your conclusion is wrong

03-11-2003, 12:09 PM
It wasn't simultaneous. Russia waited for over two weeks to make sure Poland was being steamrolled. I believe they attacked Poland on Sept 17th, 1939, while Germany was in on the 1st of Sept.

03-11-2003, 12:13 PM
Perhaps in response to a WMD attack, but not first.
What exactly do you think will inspire this WMD attack? Perhaps a foreign country invading his country. That would be a good reason in my mind - since I'm 100% certain that basically every other country would react similarly (including the US). Kinda senseless to say that Iraq is more likely to use WMD when the only reason they would use them would be to vainly attempt to repel the US military steamroller.

03-11-2003, 12:25 PM
What exactly do you think will inspire this WMD attack? Perhaps a foreign country invading his country. That would be a good reason in my mind - since I'm 100% certain that basically every other country would react similarly (including the US). Kinda senseless to say that Iraq is more likely to use WMD when the only reason they would use them would be to vainly attempt to repel the US military steamroller.

You are changing the question again. I wasn't discussing whether the U.S. would be justified in using WMD first, or whether Iraq would be justified in using them first, or in response to an attack. I simply stated that I did not believe the U.S. would be first to use them--that remains my opinion. Whether it would be moral or just to use them depends upon the circumstances involved, which would obviously have to be pretty extreme.

03-11-2003, 12:26 PM
well like everything i say its at least half right. i mean hitler and stalin agreed to divide poland and invade. and then they both invaded.

in any case as i understand it war between germany and ussr was inevitable.

03-11-2003, 01:15 PM
"like everything i say its at least half right"

And everything I see if almost half right. So between us, we're completely right. I mean correct.


Chris Alger
03-11-2003, 03:09 PM
Believing that the U.S. has any inclination to "convert Iran to a democracy" is as naive as believing that China is inclined to turn Tibet into a "democracy." The same country that turned Iran into a dictatorship in 1953 has now changed it's stripes, and proposes to wage war for the purpose of surrendering the power war might provide? It's an escapist fantasy in order to avoid the reality the U.S. is more likely to create. Vietnam and Central America proved that the U.S. will not hesitate to resort to killing hundreds of thousands to protect its position.

"Once American ground troops are in Iraq, the message must go out to all regional sponsors of terror that this game is up."

No, the message will go out that the U.S. will use the flimsiest pretext to invade and conquor, so that all countries wanting to protect their political territorial integrity will have to think hard about how best to deter the U.S.

The "game" will have just begun.

03-11-2003, 03:46 PM
All these other regional countries will need to do to protect their territorial integrity is stop supporting/arming terrorists and stop working to proliferate WMD. If they can't or won't do that, I agree that their territorial integrity may be in jeopardy.

Specifically: Iran, Syria, Libya, North Korea and Saudi Arabia.

03-11-2003, 04:10 PM
No one doubts the depravity of George W. Bush.
Americans like gasoline to cost about $1.00 a gallon.If a million Iraqis have to be killed to bring the price back down, then the average American is all for it.

03-11-2003, 04:56 PM
afaik israel and china biggest proliferators. look it up

03-11-2003, 05:07 PM
I think $1.00 a gallon is probably still too high for such an abundant natural resource.

You may be worrying perhaps too much: I doubt the Iraqi casualty toll will be such lofty figures: they'll be surrendering in droves.

OPEC is a price-fixing cartel and should be abolished. It's clearly in violation of anti-trust principles.

03-11-2003, 05:12 PM
China will have to be dealt with too eventually, but they are a special case.

A good missile shield and perhaps we can make them de-nuclearize--unless they decide to do away with their totalitarian system or stop proliferating, in which case it may not be necessary.

Maybe their government will go the way of the USSR eventually.

03-12-2003, 12:33 AM
No one? Perhaps you should take an honest look at the polls and realize you are in the minority.

And I don't think this has anything to do with gas prices. The oil companies aren't in favor of this war, and in any event would like to see the current situation (in which Iraq can sell only a fraction of capacity) continue indefinately.

Consumers won't like the spike in prices during any war. If gas prices go up to $3 a gallon people will remember that when the next election occurrs.

The reality is Bush is pushing for war in the face of substantial opposition because he believes his cause is just, and he's managed to garner enough support to make it happen.

03-12-2003, 07:25 PM
That's very naive. Enron and Haliburton have already "won' contracts for post war reconstrucion. You are correct. I really should count the morons that say seig heil to the new butcher of baghdad. I should preface the statement by any non neo Nazi with a brain.

It has everything to do with oil, and nothing to do with Saddam.

This isn't never never land.

nicky g
03-13-2003, 10:52 AM
"The oil companies aren't in favor of this war"

Says who?

"in any event would like to see the current situation (in which Iraq can sell only a fraction of capacity) continue indefinately."

But it can't continue indefinitely - the outrage at the sanctions, the effects on the world economy etc - these things are no longer sustainable. Once Iraq is under the control of the US and its oil compnies, they'll be able to determine how much oil it produces. THey may not want that oil on the market NOW, but they want it in the long run. I'm sure they'd also rather any oil profits going into their own pockets than paying for Iraqi food and medicine.

03-13-2003, 01:43 PM
also iraq started taking payment in euros, not dollars.

this is very important.

Chris Alger
03-14-2003, 06:45 AM
Many of the Iraqi exiles that appear prominently in the media support the war, but the feeling in the exile community is decidedly mixed. From the reports I've read, most of them want to see Saddam go, but don't trust the US to replace him with someone that's worth the cost of the war. And these are the exiles that don't have to watch their kids getting pulverized by US bombs. Your suggestion that Iraqi's welcome war has no evidence. Here's a link discussing the concerns of the exile community in Australia.;hl=en&amp;s tart=1&amp;ie=UTF-8

"Most European countries have come out in support of the war...."

You must be drunk.

"Tyranny must be DEFEATED..."

You could care less about tyranny, you just want to wave the flag. Otherwise, you'd acknowledge and exercise some responsiblity for it. Instead, you only point fingers at others. If the US maintained a tyranny in Iraq indefinitely, you and your right-wing friends would be on the front lines of the apology wars, just as you perform that service for Israel now, argung that anything short of the Third Reich is fine because somwhere out there is an evil that's probably worse. Defeating tyranny with a US military dictatorship. What a sick joke.

03-14-2003, 09:41 AM
Didn't most European countries sign a recent statement supporting the US/British position? Spain, Portugal, and most of "New Europe", as I recall...and France was furious.

I found a quote this morning from Andrew Sullivan (whom I've never read) and the quote stuck in my mind. "War is an awful thing. But it isn't the most awful thing."

Living under Saddam is the most awful thing. What was going on inside Germany before WWII was the most awful thing. What Stalin did inside his own country, and what is going on in North Korea today: these are more awful things than war.

Comparing, by implication, a US temporary military dictatorship in Iraq with the dictatorship of the current Iraqi regime, with its routine disappearances, tortures of entire families, etc. is obscene. One is less than ideal; the other is unimaginably horrific.

nicky g
03-14-2003, 01:02 PM
Some comments

"What was going on inside Germany before WWII was the most awful thing."

This isn't particularly pertinent to anything, but I'd say what was going on in Germany during WWII was worse than what was going on before. I don't mean the carpet bombings etc, though those added to the horror - I mean that the "final solution" ie genocide of the Jews started during the war, and not before, though terrible things had happened(Nuremburg laws etc) and things were heading in that direction. I know some (reputable, not Irving etc) historians argue that the Final Solution was a product of the war and would not have happened in the way it did without the war. I don't know enough about it to comment or say that is so; given that Hitler seemed bent on starting a war, I don't know if that argumetn even makes any sense. I'm not arguing that that would mitigate what happened - it wouldn't - just quibbling with your timetable of events.

"Comparing, by implication, a US temporary military dictatorship in Iraq with the dictatorship of the current Iraqi regime, with its routine disappearances, tortures of entire families, etc. is obscene. One is less than ideal; the other is unimaginably horrific. "

All those things and worse have happened under previous US and US proxy military dictatorships. That said, I doubt they'll happen this time with the spotlight shinging so brightly, or indeed if theywould happen anyway - I remain to be convinced that those days are over for good (if the current situation becomes as all-important to the administrations eyes as anti-communism/anti-neutrality was, then I'm sure they'll come back), but I'm hopeful.

Chris Alger
03-14-2003, 01:03 PM
"Comparing, by implication, a US temporary military dictatorship in Iraq with the dictatorship of the current Iraqi regime, with its routine disappearances, tortures of entire families, etc. is obscene."

Yeah right, “temporary.” Hee hee. Here’s your hero Pete DuPont describing how Saddam is just the first of several targets: “Iraq is only the first step.... In taking on Saddam Hussein, there is a broader agenda, something of more lasting significance than eliminating the immediate threat posed by his weapons of mass destruction. America's long-term goal is to change the dynamics of the Middle East ....” (Wall Street Journal, 10/16/2). You yourself are fond of endorsing Kasparov’s prescription in the same pro-war paper about how we should also target Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, all whose governments are presumably to be replaced by “temporary” US dictatorships, thereafter replaced by “temporary” US-backed dictatorships, and so on, forever. This “temporary dictatorship” is a mirror image of how Stalinist Russia described itself as being in a “transition” phase to true democracy.

As for your presumption that US dictatorship will have better human rights standards, one need only visit the El Salvador Truth Commission website to see how the US “liberates” people in practice. In El Mozote, for example, which had the misfortune of being visited by the the US-trained and equipped Atlacatl Battalion:

“On 10 December 1981, in the village of El Mozote in the Department of Morazán, units of the Atlacatl Battalion detained, without resistance, all the men, women and children who were in the place. The following day, 11 December, after spending the night locked in their homes, they were deliberately and systematically executed in groups. First, the men were tortured and executed, then the women were executed and, lastly, the children, in the place where they had been locked up. The number of victims identified was over 200. The figure is higher if other unidentified victims are taken into account. ...

In the course of "Operación Rescate", massacres of civilians also occurred in the following places: 11 December, more than 20 people in La Joya canton; 12 December, some 30 people in the village of La Ranchería; the same day, by units of the Atlacatl Battalion, the inhabitants of the village of Los Toriles; and 13 December, the inhabitants of the village of Jocote Amarillo and Cerro Pando canton. More than 500 identified victims perished at El Mozote and in the other villages.”

Your friends at the Wall Street Journal responded to these events with a campaign against the atrocity of The New York Times actually reporting them, and propagandized for continued support for these murderers with the effect of similar abuses continuing for years afterward until more than 80,000 were killed out of a population of 5 million. I defy you to point out any qualitatively different horror inflicted by Saddam that the government of El Salvador did not also commit to obtain US reward.

So when the US or its proxy does the same thing to Iraqis, will you then rethink your assumption that the US is devoted to democracy and liberation? No more than you do now. It will be more of “death to tyrants” and on to the next war.

03-14-2003, 02:06 PM
OK, I stand corrected, I was referring to the genocide etc. also as being the most awful thing...I was under the misimpression that more of this occurred leading up to the war.

I don't think we're going to establish a proxy dictatorship in Iraq.

Anyway, I doubt you can name a proxy dictatorship worse than Saddam's, where he has murdered over 500,000 Iraqis during the last decade alone.

03-14-2003, 02:19 PM
We're not going to establish a proxy dictatorship in Iraq, and Tommy Franks isn't going to represent evil incarnate in his temporary military governorship.

I don't favor establishing proxy dictatorships.

The truly great evil today, regarding Iraq, is in Saddam's rule. Why you don't acknowledge that, and the great likelihood that we will make it a better place (as we helped make Afghanistan a better place thus far) is beyond me, except to surmise that you are so consumed with anti-US hatred that you can't even see the obvious: we're going to get rid of a horrific tyrant. Your fears that we will replace him with another tyrant will be shown to be unfounded.

By the way, Kasparov did NOT, in his article, advocate replacing the regimes you mention with proxy dictatorships. I'm surprised you even imagined he was saying such things. What he said was that the regional sponsors of terror will have to be dealt with. I agree on that point. But that doesn't necessarily mean we will replace them all by force or with proxy dictatorships.

You are basing your analyses too much on the past. This is 2003, and there are vast differences, new challenges: in fact it's a whole new arena.

I suggest you start basing your analyses more on current information and likely future developments instead of recycling worn-out arguments which applied to a different time and landscape.

nicky g
03-14-2003, 02:22 PM
"Anyway, I doubt you can name a proxy dictatorship worse than Saddam's, where he has murdered over 500,000 Iraqis during the last decade alone"

As a percentage of the population, I imagine I could.
Furthermore, 1-2 million people died under Suharto, plus another 250,000 in the East Timor invasion. Obviously that wasn't entirely down to the US, or even mainly; the protagonists had their own motivations. But it was wholeheartedly supported by them, and they were involved in Sukarno's overthrow and the military takeover. The ambassador at the time said he had no regrets about the deaths.

nicky g
03-14-2003, 02:46 PM
"You are living too much in the past. This is 2003."

I think this is partly true of both myself and Chris, and others who doubt the US's motives. That said, many in the Bush administration were in power during various Cold War atrocities. The current UN ambassador John Negroponte has a particularly bad record, and puppetmaster Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Powell have all been knocking around in powerful posistions for a good while. Things have changed, and so far it looks like for the better (though the Venezuelan episode was frighteningly familiar). But I think we have to wait till the current post-cold war situation has settled dwon to something definable and consistent before we entirely give up our doubts about the benevolence of the foreign policy of the last superpower.

Chris Alger
03-14-2003, 03:20 PM
"We're not going to establish a proxy dictatorship in Iraq...."

How do you know that? What about the other proxy dictatorships we and the Brits installed, including the one in Iraq? All they have to do is hold a Saddam-like election and the Wall Street Journal will praise it as a model of democracy (while lambasting Venezuela with the argument "elections don't make a democracy"). You and your right-wing friends won't complain about it any more than you complain about tyranny in the West Bank or human rights abuses in Turkey, because you guys never complain about these things when they're your resonsibility, not ever.

"By the way, Kasparov did NOT, in his article, advocate replacing the regimes you mention with proxy dictatorships."

No, he didn't admit the obvious implication, but (1) recommended that the US use military force to overthrow the governments of these countries because they are (2) "ravaged by Islamic fundamentalism." So we're going to instill a form government to which fundamentalist Muslims don't have access. Do the math.

"You are basing your analyses too much on the past."

But Saddam's human rights abuses of 10 and 20 years ago merit exhaustive scrutiny. Any analyses based on facts inherently takes into consideration "the past."

"in fact it's a whole new arena"

True. The US has openly embraced unilateral conquest aggression as legitimate tools of foreign policy. That's the only thing that's new.

03-14-2003, 03:23 PM
'where he has murdered over 500,000 Iraqis during the last decade alone. '

hard to believe. why dont u provide some support?

03-14-2003, 04:37 PM
I'm not much familiar with Suharto. Was he a proxy dictator of the USA?

03-14-2003, 04:43 PM
holy cow. it was the predecessor to vietnam where we successfully killed like 5 million 'communist guerillas', and publicly bragged a

03-14-2003, 04:56 PM
brad I can't recall where I read that figure--I did read it recently--but I can't say that it might not be 100% accurate. At any rate I don't believe it's too far off.

Here's something whch addresses this topic, more or less, and I think you'll find it very informative:

The Iraq Foundations's web page on Human Rights in Iraq. If you just read "A Brief History of Human Rights in Iraq" you'll find it informative. I'm glancing at some of the other linked reports now.


03-14-2003, 05:03 PM
well you have to admit i pretty much document what i say, even if i have to go back and qualify what i say to fit the documentation /forums/images/icons/smile.gif

otoh theres like a million dead iraqi children since the sanctions so if you blame saddam 100% then yes hes killed million of his own people. (if you blame him 50% does that mean hes killed 500,000 of his own people?)

nicky g
03-15-2003, 09:29 PM
"I'm not much familiar with Suharto. Was he a proxy dictator of the USA? "

Well, I suppose that depends on your definitions. he was installed by a US-trained military. The CIA was deeply involved in the various plots and coups that proceeded his own coup. The CIA provided names of known left wingers to his death squads. The overthrow of Sukarno was consistent with US actions elsewere at the time, and as Brad points out, what happened subsequently matched what the US carried out itself in other countries. WHether he could be characerised as nothing but a US puppet throughout his reign, I don't know - in fact, I doubt it. But he could not have come to power, or killed all the people he did, or held on to power for so long, without US complicity.

04-26-2003, 05:51 PM
"I found a quote this morning from Andrew Sullivan (whom I've never read) and the quote stuck in my mind. "War is an awful thing. But it isn't the most awful thing."

Living under Saddam is the most awful thing. What was going on inside Germany before WWII was the most awful thing. What Stalin did inside his own country, and what is going on in North Korea today: these are more awful things than war."

That depends on the severity of the repression compared to the severity of the means required to eliminate it. If your statement were always true, then the logical conclusion would have been a war against nuclear-armed Communist Russia, triggering WWIII. Are you seriously claiming that this wouldn't have been the worst thing imaginable?

Murphy's Law and the weight of historical evidence suggest that governments persistently overestimate their ability to change things for the better, and underestimte the negative consequences caused by their attempted do-gooding. There is no reason to believe warfare is any different.

Another key problem is that once you get in, it's very hard to get out. As should be clear to any poker player, decisions where you cannot change your mind if you realise you've made a mistake should be taken with far greater reluctance than those where you have flexibility.

This leads me to believe that "preventive" wars should only be used when the evidence is overwhelming that not acting is far worse than acting. I would argue that Vietnam's invasion of Pol Pot's Cambodia, India's invasion of East Pakistan during the Bengali genocide, the allied war on Hitler, Israel's pre-emptive strike which initiated the 6 day war, and possibly a few other similar cases, are examples where war was preferable to no war.

If concern for the Iraqi people was the motivation for war, then the US would not have supported the sanctions which led to the deaths of 1/2 million-1 million Iraqis. If freedom from repression was the main issue, the US would also be conducting similar efforts around the world, instead of turning a blind eye, and financially and militarily supporting repressive regimes such as Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. If Bush showed signs of trying to establish an "ethical" foreign policy by shunning undemocratic US allies (e.g. cutting funding, applying diplomatic pressure for reform), and threatening/cajoling brutal despots in Africa and SE Asia, then I would agree with you about his motives. But he doesn't, so I think it very unlikely that his motives are humanitarian.

As for "proxy dictatorships", I don't think the US intends to do this, but under Murphy's law things will go awry, and the US will not get the result it wants (i.e. a peaceful, stable, pro-west democratic secular Iraq). Bush &amp; co will then be presented with with the choice between seeing Iraq go down the tubes, or using force to hold it together and suppress dissent. Ok so this is not the Cold War, but with a man like Donald Rumsfeld (described by Henry Kissinger as "the most ruthless man I know") at the helm, I don't think concern for human rights or the Iraqi democratic self-determination will be at the forefront of US policy. They will do just enough to be able to keep an uninformed electorate from getting too upset, and then pursue their goals without regard for freedom or justice.

P.S. to Brad et al - about 500,000 Iraqis died in the Iran-Iraq war, and if you add on the murders carried out by Saddam's secret police, then the number of people killed as a direct result of his actions is well over 500,000. However, no way near as many people were killed by Saddam after 1991. A major contributing factor in the majority of deaths in Iraq (perhaps 90%) since 1980 was the policy of the US - namely backing for the Iran-Iraq war, and backing for sanctions after the Gulf War. Over a million Iraqis died mostly as a result of US foreign policy (described by Madeleine Allbright as a "price worth paying").

04-26-2003, 06:38 PM
Obviously, as you say, the costs of war must be weighed against the benefits. Nuclear war against the former USSR would have been be more horrific than the benefits, probably. So now apply this to the Iraq war and see how low the costs were compared to the enormity of the despotism that was overthrown.

And while I'm not going to argue the sanctions all over again because a new poster raises the question (was a major archived thread), I'll just say that it was essentially Saddam not the sanctions which killed those people, regardless of any quote from Albright. The bastard had ten tons of money for everything but food, water or medicine for his people, apparently, and even managed to steal money out of the oil-for-food program (as is now coming to light).

Look it up in the archives if you care to but I'm done with this here. Pay attention to the recent news and news over the next few months if you care to see how Saddam subverted the U.N. programs to his own benefit.