But why aren’t you talking about …

by John Quiggin on December 1, 2006

Norman Geras pulls out one of the oldest moves in the Cold War playbook, saying

There are some clever people about who will tell you that responsibility isn’t zero sum: Bush and Blair bear responsibility for what’s now happening in Iraq even if others do too. They only fail to follow through on the ‘others do too’ part of this idea, reserving all their blame, all their ire, all their passion, for… Bush and Blair.

He’s aiming mostly at Chris, but since I’ve made exactly the same argument, and Geras is using the plural, I’ll respond.

Of course, I’ve never posted a condemnation of terror attacks, noted successes in the struggle against terrorism or matched condemnation of Bush and Blair with the observation that whatever evil has been done in our names, our terrorist enemies have shown that they can and will do worse. Well, only here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and so on.

But this is unlikely to worry Geras. As he would know from his days on the left (and from the parallel experiences of dissidents on the other side of the Iron Curtain), the point being made here is that, unless every criticism of our own government is matched by a ritualistic denunciation of our enemies, taking up at least as much space as the original criticism, it is obvious that you are on the wrong side.

And having made this point, it’s not necessary to examine your own support for policies that have brought death and disaster on hundreds of thousands of innocent people.

{ 103 comments }

1

Brendan 12.01.06 at 6:40 am

And it has to be said….ipso facto. Where, specifically, are the posts in which Geras comes out and says: ‘Tony Blair is responsible, personally, for at least some of the estimated 600,000 (other estimates go up to 900,000) people who have died as a result of this invasion.’? Of course he would then go on to blame a large proportion of the deaths on the insurgency as well, but where is the bit where he acknowledges that Blair is down there with Zarqawi as one of the reasons for our current mess?

2

lurker 12.01.06 at 6:52 am

Taking a step back and looking at such sentiments pertaining to “responsibiliies” and apportioning of blame, I am more concerned about the former than the latter. This is not first comment on the subject, and certainly not last. One of Mr. Quiggin’s recent essays here on CT is a strong reminder of such thoughts on culpability.

You see, there is a firm notion held by many across the world, especially by non-Western societies, that “responsibility” is entwined with “authority”. Thus, by establishing the West’s responsibilities in Iraq and elsewhere, Africa for example, it will automatically confer on them authority to act in those arenas. That is worrying to a lot of people. Sovereignity and political power are at stake. Should you break it, you don’t own it. You are merely banned from shopping here.

3

Barry 12.01.06 at 7:03 am

It bears endless repeating: the neoconmen who lied us into this will continue to lie; they should not be believed.

4

William 12.01.06 at 7:09 am

Personally, the reason I criticize Bush more than I do terrorists is that I am an American and not a terrorist. Debating unwise policies is what citizens of a country are supposed to do. I have a vote, I am part of the process, what the USA does reflects on me. I am not an impartial judge of who is more at fault. I don’t think that the purpose of talking about who screwed the pooch in Iraq is to have some sort of cosmic accountability moment. As a citizen of the USA, I want to know how wise and smart the policies our leaders have are. Doing my small part, I criticize what I see are bad policies or decisions.

This blame game stuff is silly, but its a good way to deflect criticism I guess. I don’t care how many angels can dance on the head of a pin and I don’t care who is nicer, Osama or Bush. I don’t even insist that the USA always wear the white hats, just that we don’t do stupid things will likely lead to disaster.

5

engels 12.01.06 at 7:13 am

Should you break it, you don’t own it.

Yes, and pace Colin Powell, surely the rule is “you break it, you pay for it”. Any shop running with “you break it, it’s yours” has a pretty serious incentive problem on its hands…

6

engels 12.01.06 at 8:16 am

There are some clever people about who will tell you…

This is a shitty little piece of rhetoric and Geras ought to be ashamed of it.

With all respect to Chris’ post, it has to be said that you do not have be at all “clever” to grasp that people other than the immediate perpetrators of an immoral act may bear degrees of responsibility for its occurrence. This really is common sense, and ought to be blindingly obvious to anyone who has not been thoroughly indoctrinated with the mantras of contemporary “conservatives” and their pseudo-left apologists.

Or to put it another way, it seems that Geras is no longer denying that 2+2=4; he is now saying that it is an esoteric truth of interest only to people who like to relax with the latest issue of Pedantry and Public Affairs. To me, this seems only slightly less dishonest.

7

Jack 12.01.06 at 8:22 am

I don’t think Brendan has gone far enough. Geras may in fact be targeting the Stern report. Condemnation should be spread evenly between all culpable parties. Plainly this cannot be restricted to the current time and therefore he must deploy a discount rate in his deliberations.

Reading between the lines and allowing the use of “now” to do a lot of work I deduce that past misdeeds are not so significant for Geras and that therefore he is in favour of a low discount rate. This assumption might be checked by investigating his attitude to events that have not yet happened. It would confirm my conclusion if he were to find them terribly important.

There is one thing of which we can be certain, Professor Geras should on no account be allowed to deliver an Oscar acceptance speech, he is, after all, not a young man.

I find the use of the word “clever” above to be, frankly, chilling.

8

Chris 12.01.06 at 8:31 am

Are you sure that Norm means to criticize Chris Bertram here specifically? Why not suppose that he’s got, say, newspaper columnists in the Guardian as his target? That’s a bit at odds with “clever people,” I suppose, but still . . . Also, you seem to imply that he hasn’t examined his own support for Bush and Blair’s policies. Well, he hasn’t to my satisfaction, but he has certainly addressed the issue on his blog.

At any rate, IF he’s criticizing Bertram, I don’t see how he’s being consistent, since his own view, as I understand it, seems to rule out making this sort of criticism of bloggers specifically. (Though I’m not convinced that he sticks to that view consistently either.)

9

norbizness 12.01.06 at 9:29 am

I take 30 minutes out of every day to place the blame where it really belongs: the shrapnel, bullets, exploding material, and knives.

10

Brendan 12.01.06 at 9:32 am

‘Also, you seem to imply that he hasn’t examined his own support for Bush and Blair’s policies. Well, he hasn’t to my satisfaction, but he has certainly addressed the issue on his blog.’

I don’t mean to be rude, but where, precisely, has Geras questioned his own support for Blair’s policies? Oh I know he has sorta kinda retracted his support for the invasion (whilst at the same time hinting that ‘really’ he was in the right to back Blair even though it turned out that he was…er…wrong). But that’s different from asking oneself ‘how could I possibly have got it so 100% wrong?’

A quick google search on ‘normblog’ and ‘iraq’ and ‘tony blair’ doesn’t reveal anything helpful. It does, however, reveal this doozy from 2003. The amusing post is Saturday, August 02, 2003, 11:47 AM, entitled ‘Why?’.

Why indeed, Norm?

11

Brendan 12.01.06 at 9:35 am

Not sure if the links above are working (they aren’t on my pc for some bloody reason). Anyway the relevant links are

http://www.normangeras.blogspot.com/2003_07_27_normangeras_archive.html

And http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abu_Ghraib_prisoner_abuse

12

soru 12.01.06 at 9:52 am

Personally, the reason I criticize Bush more than I do terrorists is that I am an American and not a terrorist.

Except that by posting to this blog, or the internet in general, you are not playing the role of a US citizen, but a member of globalized society.

It is considerably more likely that your words would be read by some form of potential terrorist than that they would be read by George Bush.

As far as I can see, that means that if challenged, you should be able to say ‘what I said was true’, not ‘what I said was a partial counterargument against some things that are self-evident common sense to any citizen of the US’.

On a global stage, as soon as you start assuming things about your audience, you are likely to be wrong.

13

Walt 12.01.06 at 10:04 am

We’ve got the bombs, soru. We don’t need to care what the foreigners think.

14

engels 12.01.06 at 10:09 am

Except that by posting to this blog, or the internet in general, you are not playing the role of a US citizen, but a member of globalized society.

Yes, Soru, because we get Iraqis, Palestinians etc posting on here all the fucking time.

15

bi 12.01.06 at 10:09 am

engels s3z, “it seems that Geras is no longer denying that 2+2=4; he is now saying that it is an esoteric truth of interest only to people who like to relax with the latest issue of Pedantry and Public Affairs.

So can we say that the cover girl on the latest issue of rhetorical devices is “why are you being so pedantic?”? That is, right after “Michael Moore is fat!”, “What happened to national civility?”, “In my opinion, it’s a fact!”, and the all-time favourite, “mommy, mommy, he hurt, I afraid!”.

soru s3z, “It is considerably more likely that your words would be read by some form of potential terrorist than that they would be read by George Bush.

(Oh, and I thought those “potential terrorists” don’t understand English; they only understand force! And besides, they’re in the Arab World, which has nothing to do with the Free World we now live in!)

On a more serious note, there’s no reason why one shouldn’t write for an international audience in the capacity of a US citizen.

16

engels 12.01.06 at 10:14 am

They all understand English BTW. You just have to speak loudly and slowly…

17

Stephen 12.01.06 at 10:16 am

I don’t see what makes you think he is aiming at Chris or yourself specifically? I’m just passing by but believe you when you say you have more nuanced views.

Speaking generally though he is absolutely right about the tone of Iraq commentary. Baathists massacre innocents in Bagdhad market!– I blame Blair. It kind of follows from the old– bloke mugs old lady!– I blame Maggie Thatcher for the breakdown in society.

An element of truth in both but it does make me roll my eyes.

18

ben alpers 12.01.06 at 10:17 am

John, your last paragraph made me think of this delightful bit of people-in-glass-houses-stone-throwing from Jean Bethke Elshtain in her exchange from the Summer 2006 issue of Dissent with Michael Walzer on whether or not regime change can be the primary goal of a just war:

For now, the upshot of my remarks is that a regime’s continuing policies, should they lead to the deaths of tens of thousands of innocent victims as a matter of policy, not unavoidable happenstance, must be taken into account as one fleshes out a case for—or against—intervention.

19

Callan 12.01.06 at 10:21 am

It is considerably more likely that your words would be read by some form of potential terrorist than that they would be read by George Bush.

I’d have thought that both were pretty unlikely. Robert Pape seems not to have thought ‘reads Crooked Timber on a regular basis’ was a major factor motivating suicide bombers.

I’d have thought that opposition to terrorism was one of those basic propositions that most sensible people share. So I don’t really feel the need to preface any criticism of the British or US governments with a lengthy disquisition on the badness of Al Qaeda. If you want to deduce from that some kind of moral turpitude that says more about you than it does me. If I criticise the government of Saudi Arabia for chopping off the hands of shoplifters, am I supposed to preface my remarks with an encomium on the retail trade in order to establish that I’m not soft on petty theft? For that matter if I take it into my head to denounce suicide bombing in the Occupied Territories am I supposed to begin by making it clear that I disapprove of Israeli human rights violations? If something is gravely amiss with a given solution to a problem it does not follow that pointing it out renders one in favour of the problem.

20

Stephen 12.01.06 at 10:36 am

“I’d have thought that opposition to terrorism was one of those basic propositions that most sensible people share.”

I think that Norman Geras is suggesting that within the British left there really is a substantial minority who do have a misty eyed affection for “resistance”.

21

Matt 12.01.06 at 10:38 am

This move is just about as annoying as the one that says you cannot criticize any country unless you also criticize every other country that does similar or worse things, and do that right now, in the very same post. This is of course often used by those trying to stop criticism of Israel, but it’s often enough used by a few regular commentors here, ones in particular that seem to think that pointing out bad things the US does is somehow an argument against pointing out bad things done by other countries. (Perhaps there’s an assumption that people here give the US a pass, but that would just show these commentors to be even more stupid than they seem.)

22

roger 12.01.06 at 10:41 am

The irresponsibility of pro-war bloggers like Geras is compounded by the peculiar impermeability of the “Coalition” governments – Bush and Blair – to any form of criticism outside of a very narrow set. Geras, simply because he was an expert on Marx (seemingly, then, ‘on the left’) and at the same time a war supporter, garnered a bit of fame in 2003 and 2004 – enough that he could get pieces published in op ed pages of the Wall Street Journal, an unlikely prospect before the war. Did he, or other similar pro-war opinion makers, use that position to try to prevent the occupation from taking such incredibly stupid steps as the disbanding of all security forces, which occured under Bremer? No. Did these people criticize the occupation for promoting Chalabi, an obviously unpopular figure, and one with a criminal record, as the very face of the occupation? No. Every predictably terrible step taken by the occupation, from the insoucience about the looting to the attempt to institute a shock treatment economic policy was either praised or passed over in silence by this group, who devoted themselves, when they had a popular forum, to pouring fire on any anti-war criticism. This was their way of “supporting” the “liberation.” It is frustrating, looking back, that war supporters were at once so vehement and so frivolous – as if the actual facts of what was happening in Iraq didn’t really matter – what really mattered was to take a good rhetorical position in which one could put down one’s “former comrades of the Left”, or some such tripe.

Geras wasn’t as bad as, say, the people at the Harry’s Place site or related supposedly Leftist blogs (although these people never had the media coverage Geras had) – or as bad as figures like Berman and Hitchens and the like, who are as bad as could be. His conscience even seems to be a bit bothered by his participation in the Iraq butchery. But he was far from being as good as Johann Hari, one of the few pro-war pundits to actually take feedback from Iraq seriously enough to want the occupation to be a liberation – meaning that he was wiling to criticize it for its criminal negligence while that negligence was happening.

If we were dealing with normal politics and political leaders – that is, if there were any possibility that Downing Street or the White House would actually listen to opposing views – the pro-war commentators would just have been wrong. As it is, though, they were more than wrong – they were complicit in the occupation’s record of fraud, crime (and yes, among other things, it is a crime to abolish security for 27 million people and only try to restore it after a year – read Ricks Fiasco for details) and oppression. They formed a sort of wall of commentary to block out any criticism that could have, however slightly, changed things for the better in Iraq in 2003 and 2004. What a group!

23

Matt Weiner 12.01.06 at 10:49 am

It is considerably more likely that your words would be read by some form of potential terrorist than that they would be read by George Bush.

However, they are probably read by more US and UK voters than potential terrorists. US and UK voters are probably the appropriate audience for criticisms of US and UK policies.

24

Stephen 12.01.06 at 11:02 am

“This move is just about as annoying as the one that says you cannot criticize any country unless you also criticize every other country that does similar or worse things, and do that right now, in the very same post.”

Again that would be annoying if it were an accusation aimed at everyone. Noting the hypocrisy of people who are say single mindedly islamophobic or anti-zionist is a valid point. It only becomes invalid if such people either do not exist or you are seeking to tar all with the same brush.

25

Brendan 12.01.06 at 11:11 am

‘It is considerably more likely that your words would be read by some form of potential terrorist’.

Love the addition of the word ‘potential’ which makes the statement unfalsifiable.

26

rea 12.01.06 at 11:22 am

“Except that by posting to this blog, or the internet in general, you are not playing the role of a US citizen, but a member of globalized society.”

What, we’re not allowed to discuss US politics on the internets, now?

27

stuart 12.01.06 at 11:25 am

‘It is considerably more likely that your words would be read by some form of potential terrorist’.

And of course bloggers and the like who post about how they want everyone to help the government cover up its fatal mistakes and atrocities are bound to turn people away from becoming potential terrorists.

I still think this entire line of reasoning boils down to ‘How I wish we lived in a police state so we could murder foreigners without so much hassle’.

28

Brendan 12.01.06 at 11:33 am

‘Geras, simply because he was an expert on Marx (seemingly, then, ‘on the left’) and at the same time a war supporter, garnered a bit of fame in 2003 and 2004 – enough that he could get pieces published in op ed pages of the Wall Street Journal, an unlikely prospect before the war. ‘

Yes, quite. This is not something the pro-warriors like to talk about, but it is undoubtedly correct. There was some debate last year, I think, between Christopher Hitchens and someone, and the only question (apparently) which (temporarily, alas) left Hitchens lost for words was simple: ‘Has your income from journalism gone up, or down, since you started to espouse your pro-war views?’

29

Stephen 12.01.06 at 11:41 am

“which (temporarily, alas) left Hitchens lost for words was simple: ‘Has your income from journalism gone up, or down, since you started to espouse your pro-war views?’”

Possibly because it is a nasty slur. It is a bit rich to criticise supposedly poor forms of argument you dislike and then with a pause for breath laud an ad hominem attack on someone elses motives.

30

Matt 12.01.06 at 11:50 am

The attack on Hitchens need not be a ‘nasty slur’. I don’t know the full context of the question but often war supporters have presented themselves as an oppressed but brave minority needing to fight against the all-powerful leftist anti-war masses, and have implied that this has hurt them, and since they have suffered for their causes we can infer that their causes are right. In such cases its worth pointing out that people like Hitchens have profited greatly from their new positions. (Even _ad hominem_ isn’t always a falacy, since sometimes facts about the person are relevent.)

31

Stephen 12.01.06 at 11:58 am

“Even ad hominem isn’t always a falacy, since sometimes facts about the person are relevant.”

fair enough– a case in point might be Cheney who maybe had a direct financial interest. In this case Hitchens was hardly destitute before and suggesting a financial motivation is nasty and absurd.

32

CJColucci 12.01.06 at 12:20 pm

For future reference, and for the record, terrorism is bad, terrorists are evil. Blowing up innocent civilians on purpose is a very, very bad thing. Governments that terrorize portions of their population are very, very bad.
I’m sorry I haven’t mentioned this before. I thought people knew this and that most of us agreed about it. As a naive believer in the virtues of the division of labor, I had previously thought I should focus on things not so widely known or generally agreed upon, and as to which, being an American citizen, I might have some actual responsibility or influence. Silly me.
In any event, since I have now placed my denunciation of evil terrorists on the record. It should be incorporated by reference in anything I post hereafter.
Thank you very much.

33

abb1 12.01.06 at 12:35 pm

“Ritualistic denunciation” is a beautiful expression.

34

Brendan 12.01.06 at 12:38 pm

‘In this case Hitchens was hardly destitute before and suggesting a financial motivation is nasty and absurd.’

My point was not that Hitchens cynically decided that right wing opinions were the best way to make money. My point is, as Matt points out, the pro-invasioneers like to present themselves as an embattled minority (to be fair, they probably are now). Now that’s not my memory of 2002-2004. And I think it’s fair to point out that the ‘powers that be’ (i.e. Rupert Murdoch, Blair, Bush…i.e. the people who actually have power (and money)) were right behind the war, and that the media (even the non-Murdoch media) were prepared to go along with that, and that you would be well rewarded (financially and in other ways) for stating the politically correct view. As was also pointed out, Geras is another case in point. Would this incredibly obscure Marxist theoretician have been offered op-eds in the Wall Street Journal if he had been against the war? No he would not.

I also find it interesting that Hitchens shrugs off accusations that he condones torture, that he is a war monger, an imperialist, an accomplice of state murder etc. However, when someone accuses him of tailoring his opinions for cash he goes ballistic (the only time he wrote to Sonic’s Hitchenswatch it was because of this accusation).

Which makes me think either, for some reason, he thinks that the accusation that he is financially motivated is worse than the accusation that he condones mass murder, or else that the accusation strikes a nerve.

(Hitchens’ letter to Sonic: Hitchenswatch 15th November 2005).

35

jayann 12.01.06 at 12:46 pm

I don’t read Geras because he posts this stuff and doesn’t allow comments — and he won’t turn up here, I think. It would be good if he were simply ignored but, well, that’s not going to happen.

36

abb1 12.01.06 at 12:46 pm

Nah, he’s been promised an important cabinet position in Free Kurdistan. And 69 virgins. Who could resist?

37

William 12.01.06 at 12:58 pm

“As far as I can see, that means that if challenged, you should be able to say ‘what I said was true’, not ‘what I said was a partial counterargument against some things that are self-evident common sense to any citizen of the US’.”

In fact, I *can* say “what I said was true”. That’s the point. Addressing the topic of who decided to go to war in Iraq and the wisdom of that decision, it is pretty factual who was “the Decider”(President Bush, in case that wasn’t clear to members of the international community). On that count, I’m pretty darn irate at Bush.

Sure, I’m irate at “terrorists” or “freedom fighters” or “insurgents” too, but I’m ticked off about any number of things, people and events. Me not laying everything out every time I talk about something that concerns me doesn’t mean I *don’t* have concerns. Unless I say “Bush is 100% to blame for everything bad that happens in Iraq” common sense would indicate that I (or anyone else) would apportion him some bit of the blame, and some other bits to different people. As I said, playing some blame game might be fun for some folks but its pretty useless to me. I’ve never indicated that I am a cosmic judge who will seperate the goats from the sheep, and I am not obliged to criticize everyone in the world in order to criticize one person.

38

Randy Paul 12.01.06 at 1:03 pm

This is a shitty little piece of rhetoric and Geras ought to be ashamed of it.

Assuming he has any shame.

What Jayann said.

39

Doctor Slack 12.01.06 at 2:39 pm

I’m not sure if this has aleady been mentioned, but it seems to me that the sneakiness of Geras’ rhetoric is designed to evade a basic principle of international relations: that if you’re the belligerent in a war, the buck for all the consequences of that war (including the bad and nasty forces it empowers) ultimately stops with you. This is why launching an aggressive war is the ultimate war crime — because all the other crimes of war flow from it. Bush and Blair were belligerents, one of them shows signs of planning to be a belligerent yet again, and nobody on the planet is obligated to give them a pass on that in order to satisfy Geras’ requirement that the “terrorists” be condemned enough for his taste.

40

neil 12.01.06 at 3:15 pm

They only fail to follow through on the ‘others do too’ part of this idea, reserving all their blame, all their ire, all their passion, for… Bush and Blair.

Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.

41

Shelby 12.01.06 at 3:57 pm

Having picked, at random, this
http://johnquiggin.com/index.php/archives/2005/11/10/some-good-news-on-the-terrorism-front/
out of Mr. Quiggin’s links, I find that it precisely contradicts his own argument. The fire is all directed at Bush and Blair, with kudos to Indonesia for some successes against terrorists. How does this count as counterbalancing criticism elsewhere of Bush and Blair?

42

John Quiggin 12.01.06 at 4:10 pm

Umm, Shelby, I don’t think even Geras is claiming that criticism of Bush and Blair should be balanced by praise of Bush and Blair.

The link you cite refers to the death of a terrorist bombmaker as good news, which might suggest to a more perceptive reader that I don’t like terrorists.

43

Brett Bellmore 12.01.06 at 4:54 pm

Yes, I think you probably should get in a few “ritual denunciations” of the people actually, like, doing the killing, before getting down to the critically important task of denouncing the people who set the stage for their committing those murders by taking down a dictator and helping set up a democratic government.

“that if you’re the belligerent in a war, the buck for all the consequences of that war (including the bad and nasty forces it empowers) ultimately stops with you.”

Doc, the problem with your formulation of this is that there were TWO wars. The first, over quite quickly, to take out Saddam. We started that one, and are rightly responsible for the (relatively small) casualties it involved.

The second, ongoing, is the war to kill Iraqi democracy in the cradle, and reimpose tyranny. The other guys started THAT war, are the beligerants, and hence responsible, by your formulation, not only for their own murders, but any deaths we might cause in the effort to beat them back.

44

abb1 12.01.06 at 5:14 pm

No democracy should need 150K armed to the teeth foreign troops violently suppressing internal insurgency for 4 years with no end in sight. If that’s called democracy, then any rational individual should prefer a tyranny.

45

Uncle Kvetch 12.01.06 at 5:20 pm

if you’re the belligerent in a war, the buck for all the consequences of that war (including the bad and nasty forces it empowers) ultimately stops with you. This is why launching an aggressive war is the ultimate war crime—because all the other crimes of war flow from it.

Amen. Thanks, Doctor.

Brett, this “two wars” formulation of yours is not only inane–it’s positively sickening. You know goddamn well that any number of knowledgeable people foresaw exactly the situation we see in Iraq right now–including Bush’s own father, for Christ’s sake–and their warnings were ignored. Until such time as Iraq has a functioning government and military–and they still do not–the coalition is responsible for maintaining order and public safety in Iraq. And they’ve done a positively shitty job. The fact that you can wave all that away with “Well, that’s not our war” just exposes you as a moral gnat.

46

stuart 12.01.06 at 5:20 pm

The second, ongoing, is the war to kill Iraqi democracy in the cradle, and reimpose tyranny. The other guys started THAT war, are the beligerants, and hence responsible, by your formulation, not only for their own murders, but any deaths we might cause in the effort to beat them back.

The attacks on the US army in the initial aftermath of the war was by Saddam loyalists fighting as a guerilla force as he had planned his most loyal troops to do from well before the war as he was well aware he couldn’t stand up to the US invasion.

The Sunni’s were well aware they were going to be essentially powerless within the new government, and the removal of the police force and the army meant that Shi’a militias like the Mahdi Army were free to attack, kidnap and rape them at will for months to show them very clearly what the new government was going to be like for them. It doesn’t seem to surprising that the Sunni’s started to fight back against the militias and the government that at least ignored their actions, if not either promoting or controlling them as some have suggested.

47

Jack 12.01.06 at 5:41 pm

Brett, all wars would go much more smoothly if the other guys would only see sense.

Foolish people, don’t they understand how much they have been helped? If only the stuff in the Pottery Barn were made of titanium! If only we could all just get along!

How long do you think Los Angeles would remain harmonious in a long term power and water cut if the police and National Guard were disappeared? Would the Bloods and Crips welcome the Indonesian troops sent to keep order? Would racial tension lead to any violence?

So much rhetorical embellishment and so little reference to facts! I find your hand washing extremely offensive and the abuse of high concepts used to do so nauseating.

48

watson aname 12.01.06 at 5:52 pm

Brett, that is a pathetic and sniveling attempt at historical revision; you should be ashamed. That sort of chickenshit response to avoiding responsibility is both sickening, and all to common these days.

49

roger 12.01.06 at 6:35 pm

My point (in 22) wasn’t, really, that Geras and Hitchens made their names supporting the war – a lot more venues were opened to them, and that is certainly something to be discussed – but, granting that they had these venues, they used them in almost every case in 2003 and 2004 – when the initial conditions for the Iraq disaster were being set by a corrupt, illplanned, disconnected occupation by criticizing – the anti-war criticism of the war. If, as they claimed, they really had at heart the fate of the Iraqis, and the struggle to ‘democratize’ Iraq, then, logically, they should have been aghast and very loud about the policies that were being put in place in Iraq as early as the end of May: the ridiculous promotion of Chalabi (as Ricks says, even in 2003, the vast majority of Iraqis viewed Chalabi as a thief – something to do with the fact that Chalabi is a convicted thief, I guess), the inability to solve one of the simpler equations ever put forward in foreign policy – if, A, you are unwilling to commit more than 150,000 troops to occupy a country, and B., you have an inplace security system (civil service, police, army), what do you do? The answer, disband the security system, is only respectable if you are four years old, or if your strategic experience all comes from playing Nintendo. Since the pro-war lefties supposedly came to their positions from their hard bitten experience in other human rights disasters and failed states, they have even less excuse. And then, of course, there was the reconstruction – that vast, unaudited mass of money given to American contractors to hire Pakistani workers and American and Indian guards to do sub spec work – which, again, should have been burning up the keyboards of all those keyboard warriors. I’m not even getting into the more controversial issues – like whether Allawi should have been given prominence, whether American troops should have treated Fallujah the way the Soviets treated Afghanistani cities. I’m talking baseline responsibility to operate as a promoter of the invasion and occupation. When Geras makes the equation that being against the war equals being for Saddam, he is already off in la la land (as if war were the only answer; as if a sensible peace process, ending, for instance, the dual containment policy and openly allying with Iran wouldn’t have upset the military structure in Iraq to the point of open rebellion, etc, etc.)

But grant, for the second, that the pro-war side was right about invading Iraq – even then, the immorality of treating the Iraqis like suckers, children, or subhumans (for only subhumans are so completely deprived of their own policing capacity) shows, among other things, their racism, their inability to give any sensible advice on policy, and their narcotized sense of moral responsibility. These people weren’t just brain dead – they suffered a crucial lapse of the moral imagination that weighs heavily on whatever they say now. Which is why they are sliding down the slope to the nutty rhetoric of LGF (case in point – Harry’s).

50

Angela 12.01.06 at 11:25 pm

Roger is correct.

It should be pointed out that the ‘pro-war left’ weren’t just silent about the incompetence in Iraq. They actively supported the ‘media is distorting the picture’ meme.

Now that we know (from Ricks and Woodward) that the administration didn’t even believe their own rosy rhetoric, they must feel especially stupid.

51

a 12.02.06 at 5:49 am

Hmmm, Brett’s comment. First, let me say that I do think Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld should be tried for war crimes, for starting an aggressive war. Still, Brett’s comment was directed at “if you’re the belligerent in a war, the buck for all the consequences of that war (including the bad and nasty forces it empowers) ultimately stops with you” and in that context Brett’s retort seems a reasonable point. Otherwise, B & C & R can argue that in fact they didn’t start “the” war – it was Al Qaeda on Sept 11, and they were just some of the bad and nasty forces which that event empowered. Starting a war doesn’t make you responsible for more than starting the war – but that’s bad enough, I would think. After that, B & C & R are responsible for human rights violations and deaths in Iraq, not because they started the war, but because they ordered or winked at these actions when they occurred.

52

abb1 12.02.06 at 6:08 am

Al Qaeda on Sept 11 started the Iraq war?

They do indeed argue this all the time, but so what – they could as well argue that it was Saturn aligning with Jupiter or black cat crossing the road.

53

a 12.02.06 at 6:49 am

abb1 – I donct think there are many who would deny there is a causal relationship between Sept 11 and the Iraq war. There are weak points in the argument but your objection is not one of them.

54

engels 12.02.06 at 7:48 am

Whether or not there was a “causal relationship” between 9/11 and Iraq is irrelevant, “a”. Saying that bin Laden started the Iraq war on September 11 is not just a “weak” argument: it’s BS.

55

stuart 12.02.06 at 7:55 am

The causal relationship between 9/11 and the Iraq war is that the Bush administration used 9/11 as an excuse to pursue a war they were already intent on fighting in Iraq. Whether they would have been able to start the war without their ‘new Pearl Harbour’ is open to question, but it certainly wasn’t the reason for the war, it just made it easier for them to persuade some of the public.

56

Brett Bellmore 12.02.06 at 8:13 am

“Al Qaeda on Sept 11 started the Iraq war?”

Yes, actually, it makes sense to call the Iraq war a part of the larger war that began on that date. In much the same sense as we were attacked by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor, went off to fight Germany, and called the whole thing WWII.

We’re currently in WWIII; Our leaders are just reluctant to openly admit it.

Well, at least “a” understood what I was getting at. Look, people are responsible for what THEY do. It’s true that moral responsiblity doesn’t neatly sum to 1; You hire a hitman to kill somebody, you’re both fully responsible for the murder.

And, by normal legal and moral doctrine, you’re responsible for any ill that occurs during a crime you commit. Because, after all, it’s a consequence of something you weren’t supposed to be doing.

But I don’t think taking out murdering dictators is, in that sense, something we’re not supposed to be doing. Overthrowing such regimes is a freebie; You don’t need a causus belli, their existance is a causus belli for all the world.

And the Bathists, let alone the Iranian proxy army we’re dealing with today, can’t be considered our agents. They’re our foes, and THEY are in the wrong. They are the agressors in the current war.

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Stephen 12.02.06 at 8:28 am

“My point was not that Hitchens cynically decided that right wing opinions were the best way to make money…..etc etc…then…Which makes me think either, for some reason, he thinks that the accusation that he is financially motivated is worse than the accusation that he condones mass murder, or else that the accusation strikes a nerve.”

Have your cake and eat it!

By the way I have no idea about the climate in the US prior to the Iraq war but I can assure you it was very anti-war here in the UK during this period.

58

Jon 12.02.06 at 8:36 am

Brett Bellmore:

the Bathists

The Bathists are bad, but I’m primarily concerned about their allies, the Soapists.

In order to emerge victorious, we may need to send aid to their enemies, the Dirtists.

59

Callan 12.02.06 at 9:00 am

And the Bathists, let alone the Iranian proxy army we’re dealing with today, can’t be considered our agents. They’re our foes, and THEY are in the wrong. They are the agressors in the current war.

Hang on, let me get this straight. An Islamic fundamentalist group attacks the US. The US retailates and attacks Afghanistan whose government is sheltering the group. So far, so straight forward.

The US then attacks a secular regime with a record of persecuting Islamic fundamentalists. Objectionable as the secular regime in question undoubtedly was, they can hardly be described as the aggressors because they were unconnected with the original attack.

Advocates of the Iraq war have been attempting to conflate Ba’athism and Islamic fundamentalism since it started. The only problem is that for anyone who knows anything about the subject it’s like conflating the Brezhnev era Soviet Union with the Angry Brigade. Notwithstanding certain superficial similarities in rhetoric they are two quite discrete political phenomena.

60

abb1 12.02.06 at 9:10 am

Yes, wasn’t great back in the good old days when all the bad guys were godless commies and that was it – and these days it takes half a page of painfully embarrassing bullshit.

AEI, Heritage and all the rest of ’em organs of agitprop should be ashamed of themselves.

Personally, I blame narrow-mindedness of the Zionist lobby for this appalling lack of a good ecumenical concept.

61

a 12.02.06 at 9:29 am

“And, by normal legal and moral doctrine, you’re responsible for any ill that occurs during a crime you commit.”

Well, if this is “normal” legal and moral doctrine, then normal legal and moral doctrine is an ass. If I am in the process of stealing a Pop Tart from a convenience store and someone pulls a gun and kills me, I’m not the one responsible for my death; the guy who pulled the trigger is the one responsible. And if Al Qaeda blows up some buildings and later Al Qaeda members (and others of the general public…) are tortured, then it is not Al Qaeda responsible for the torture; the responsability lies with the torturers. And if Iraq is invaded and later suicide bombers blow up a market square, then it is not the invaders who are responsible; it’s the suicide bombers and those who backed them.

62

stuart 12.02.06 at 9:58 am

Lets say the governor of New York decided to give everyone in the NY PD, FD, National Guard, etc a months paid holiday and tickets to travel elsewhere in the country for that time. Is he responsible in large part for any significant increase in crime during this month, or is he blameless because it is all the criminals fault for taking advantage of the lack of law enforcement during that time?

63

Randy Paul 12.02.06 at 11:14 am

went off to fight Germany, and called the whole thing WWII.

US attacked December 7, 1941. Germany and Italy declared war on US December 11, 1941.

Iraq didn’t declare war on us.

A lie or utter bullshit repeated gains no truth from repetition.

64

Brendan 12.02.06 at 12:39 pm

‘We’re currently in WWIII; Our leaders are just reluctant to openly admit it.’

Get with the programme mate. Everybody knows that the Cold War was WW3. This is World War FOUR.

Your punishment is to read Front Page Magazine every week for the next six years. I also want a five thousand word essay entitled ‘Why David Horowitz is right about everything and the communists and islamo-nazi-communofascists run all the liberal media and the universities and are attempting to suppress Christianity even though I’m a secularist and I don’t care about that except I sorta do and besides all the photos of so called civilian casualties in the war on Lebanon are all faked by Islamonazi photographers in al-reuters and I met this guy who told me that his daughter or mother or something was a communist and she wanted to kill Bush so you know what more evidence do you need the left is so filled with hate and stuff and islam and all that the American people surrendered when they voted democrat last month except they didnt cos the american people will never surrender and Hitchens is so right about the Nigerian nuclear weapons to saddam not that the communist media will ever admit it, and…er….you know anyway it’s world war four or maybe three or both and we are losing or maybe winning it and it’s all Clinton’s fault whichever it is.’

On my desk by MONDAY.

65

djw 12.02.06 at 1:07 pm

I never would have guessed Brett Bellmore had such utter contempt for the very concept of state sovereignty.

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engels 12.02.06 at 1:52 pm

You have lived a sheltered life, djw. Brett has been displaying his contempt for a number of concepts including, but not limited to, state sovereignty, the rule of law, basic ethics, historical accuracy, the principle of non-contradiction and the rules of English spelling for as long as I have been wading through his nonsensically capitalised effusions.

67

Uncle Kvetch 12.02.06 at 3:03 pm

“Asked to comment on the recent upsurge in violent crime throughout the city, Chief of Police Brett Bellmore was quoted as saying, ‘Hey, I don’t know why everyone’s getting on my case about this…I’m not the one committing the crimes!'”

68

Doctor Slack 12.02.06 at 4:38 pm

Yes, actually, it makes sense to call the Iraq war a part of the larger war that began on that date.

It’s nice to see an authentic BushTalkingPoints bot in action every once in a while. They’re a dying breed.

69

Barry 12.02.06 at 10:25 pm

“I never would have guessed Brett Bellmore had such utter contempt for the very concept of state sovereignty.”

Posted by djw

As said above, it’s not really that; Brett has total contempt and hatred for the truth. All else follows.

70

Randy Paul 12.02.06 at 10:36 pm

But I don’t think taking out murdering dictators is, in that sense, something we’re not supposed to be doing. Overthrowing such regimes is a freebie; You don’t need a causus belli, their existance is a causus belli for all the world.

Cool. When do we invade Burma Myanmar?

Your utter ignorance of history is impressive in its complete lack of breadth. Click here for a refresher course.

71

Tom 12.03.06 at 12:25 pm

any of y’all heard of the legal concept of novus actus interviens?

72

abb1 12.03.06 at 12:40 pm

When do we invade Burma Myanmar?

I think Brett’s argument is that ‘we’ have a god-given right to invade or bomb any country which political system or individual leaders ‘we’ don’t approve of.

Consequently ‘we’ will invade Burma just as soon as ‘we’ feel like invading Burma.

73

Jack 12.03.06 at 11:12 pm

When do we invade Burma Myanmar?

Isn’t that one of the oldest moves in the cold war playbook?

74

Randy Paul 12.03.06 at 11:14 pm

Jack,

I was merely trying to show Mr. Bellmore’s inconsistency and ignorance.

75

John Quiggin 12.03.06 at 11:26 pm

“any of y’all heard of the legal concept of novus actus interviens”

Yes, and it will no doubt be argued if Bush ever ends up in front if the ICC, though it won’t help much when Fallujah and similar cases are brought up.

More importantly, whatever its merits in law, it doesn’t stand up at all as a basis for ethics. You’re responsible for the foreseeable consequences or your actions, regardless of whether these depend on the actions of others.

76

Brett Bellmore 12.04.06 at 7:23 am

As an atheist, I don’t believe in god given rights. However, I also don’t believe in the divine right of Kings, or it’s bastard offspring, “sovereignty”. You can see why people running governments should have some attachment to the doctrine that they’re untouchable, no matter how vicious, so long as they limit their predations to their own territories. But why do we, the victims of government, take it seriously?

Saddam was a murdering dictator, the idea that he had some right to lord it over other people, that we violated, is laughable.

77

abb1 12.04.06 at 8:30 am

Sovereignty of Iraq is as much about Saddam as sovereignty of the US is about George.

That is: most of the people who happen to think that George is a murdering dictator who has no right to lord it over you, nevertheless feel that this is a matter between you and George.

78

Peter 12.04.06 at 9:56 am

which (temporarily, alas) left Hitchens lost for words was simple: ‘Has your income from journalism gone up, or down, since you started to espouse your pro-war views?’

Possibly because it is a nasty slur.

The bush administration has a documented habit of hiring sockpuppets, and paying public personalities to endorse their positions. Perhaps you’ve accidentally forgotten Armstrong, or Guckert/Gannon? Or did you intentionally forget them? I’d gladly whore my politics out for $200k/year, although not the sort of prostitution that Guckert/Gannon was involved in.

79

Brownie 12.04.06 at 1:06 pm

.Yes, and it will no doubt be argued if Bush ever ends up in front if the ICC, though it won’t help much when Fallujah and similar cases are brought up.

What are you getting at with the specific reference to Fallujah? Which specific war-crimes were committed in the battle for Fallujah? I’m not talking about isolated incidences of individual members of the Marine Corps doing things they shouldn’t, I mean in terms of how commanders prosecuted this phase of the war?

You’re responsible for the foreseeable consequences or your actions, regardless of whether these depend on the actions of others.

If they “depend” on the actions of others, I think we have soem room for manoeuvre defining “foreseeable”.

Was it “foreseeable” that Saddam loyalists would disrupt post-conflict nation-building, attack oil pipelines and other public facilities, as well as engage coalition troops? Well, yeah. Was it foreseeable that construction workers would be forced out of their vehicles and be executed; was it foreseeable that aid workers would be kidnapped and have their decapitations video-ed; was it foreseeable that health and education ministry workers would be taken hostage en masse and tortured, etc., etc..?

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Barry 12.04.06 at 1:29 pm

brownie, please shove your ‘forseeable’ where the sun don’t shine. The hellhole that is Iraq was predicted beforehand; it was clear to any honest, informed person that preventing that would be very difficult.

81

abb1 12.04.06 at 1:59 pm

Yeah, it’s gotta take a lot of effort – deliberate effort – to remain so stupid. Having access to a computer and the internet and so on. How do they do it? Why? Weird.

82

Brownie 12.04.06 at 5:33 pm

Gee, highbrow stuff from your commenters, John. You must be proud.

83

engels 12.04.06 at 5:37 pm

Shorter Brownie: How was I to know the stuff in the Pottery Barn wasn’t made out of titanium?

84

Brett Bellmore 12.04.06 at 5:42 pm

“Sovereignty of Iraq is as much about Saddam as sovereignty of the US is about George.”

But, by supposedly liberal standards, where is the basis for Iraq’s former government, Saddam or no Saddam, to claim sovereignty? Where are the free, contested, popular elections, which entitle a small group of people to exercise the people’s sovereignty as their proxies?

He, and his government, ruled by no principle more admirable than “Might makes Right”; and by that very standard, we in unseating him had every bit as much claim to Iraqi sovereignty as he did. And yet, instead of merely appointing a dictator in his place, we helped Iraqis construct a somewhat functioning democracy, which for all it’s flaws, has enormously more claim to exercise Iraqi sovereignty than the dictatorial system it replaced.

To claim that we violated Iraqi sovereignty by our actions is to repudiate the liberal conception of what “sovereignty” derives from. So, why do you keep making that claim?

85

a 12.04.06 at 5:42 pm

“You’re responsible for the foreseeable consequences or your actions, regardless of whether these depend on the actions of others.”

Most people could foresee that, if a civil rights worker went down South in the 50s, he was going to get beaten. So the civil rights worker was responsible for his getting beaten? Or getting killed? Or a black person who didn’t run off and hide when whites were in a lynching mood was responsible for getting lynched, because after all everyone knew that’s what would happen?

86

Brendan 12.04.06 at 6:51 pm

At the risk of stating the absolutely bloody obvious (which, nonetheless, is usually necessary when dealing with the Harry’s Place crowd), yes the Americans/British ARE responsible for the current mess in Iraq, to a greater and lesser extent, including the insurgency (and to a lesser extent, even the consequences and methods of the insurgency) in that, if they weren’t there, there would BE no insurgency (hence the reason the few remaining pro-invasioners frantically deny this very obvious and relevant fact).

However, they are much more specifically responsible for the things they did actually do: such as illegally invading the country (Kofi Annan was on Newsnight tonight reiterating that the invasion was blatantly illegal in the context of international law), the deaths directly resulting from the invasion, the deaths by torture in Abu Ghraib, the other deaths by torture that did NOT occur in Abu Ghraib but have occurred throughout Iraq (and Afghanistan) the blatant theft and corruption by the Americans and their proxies (i.e. merceneries), the deaths directly resulting from the many many airstrikes that have occurred throughout Iraq (and please don’t waste my time about ‘motivation’ etc.: if you carry out air strikes you KNOW FOR A FACT that innocent civilians are going to be killed) and so forth etc.

To repeat, the deaths from the insurgency are partly the British and American’s faults, but this distracts attention from the fact that the country is falling apart as a direct result of an illegal and immoral invasion, and that this is directly and ONLY the fault of the British and Americans (the insurgents did not invade their own country and are therefore not the root cause of the violence). (Which does not of course alter the fact that some of the insurgents are extremely nasty characters, but, to repeat, some of the Americans and British are also extremely nasty characters, and it’s their country).

Brownie also seems to be under the strange misapprehension that ‘no one’ predicted the current chaos. Actually almost everybody with any sense predicted that Iraq would be a disaster. If anyone gives a shit I can give the URL for a blog I wrote before the war in which I predicted civil war and general chaos, but I ain’t that smart: I sure as hell wasn’t the only one making similar predictions. However, it does ram home that the pro-invasioners dealt with criticism by ignoring it. Hence their other strange misapprehension, that ‘everyone’ believed that Saddam had WMD’s.

87

abb1 12.05.06 at 10:46 am

The Iraqi nation has sovereignty, Brett. How they use or misuse it is their business.

88

John Quiggin 12.05.06 at 3:21 pm

The attacks on Fallujah, particularly the first big one, were crimes – the entire city was subject to collective punishment, with large numbers of civilian casualties.

Also, what Brendan said. Except that the pro-war types didn’t entirely ignore the predictions of disaster. I can point to plenty of posts in the immediate aftermath gloating about the hundreds of thousands of refugees, thousands of US casualties and so on.

89

Brett Bellmore 12.05.06 at 4:57 pm

“The Iraqi nation has sovereignty”…

No, the Iraqi people have sovereignty; What did their former government ever do to gain a legitimate claim to exercise that sovereignty on the Iraqi peoples’ behalf? Besides killing anyone who suggested they didn’t have such a claim?

If that’s a legitimate basis for state sovereignty according to liberals, so much the worse for liberalism.

90

Randy Paul 12.05.06 at 7:31 pm

Brett, you are so witless. We allied ourselves with Saddam in the 1980’s. Reagan opened up diplomatic relations for the first time in fifteen years and gave Saddam Commodity Credit Corporation guarantees of $500,000,000 and Bush pere doubled that amount after they gassed the Kurds in Halabja.

If you believe that Bush ever gave the proverbial rat’s ass about the Iraqi people and their sovereignty, it is not borne out by the history and the facts on the ground. Read something other than the RNC talking points.

91

Brownie 12.05.06 at 8:16 pm

At the risk of stating the absolutely bloody obvious….[witless insult deleted]…yes the Americans/British ARE responsible for the current mess in Iraq, to a greater and lesser extent, including the insurgency (and to a lesser extent, even the consequences and methods of the insurgency) in that, if they weren’t there, there would BE no insurgency…

So kinda like, if we hadn’t declared war on Hitler, there wouldn’t have been a London Blitz, ergo, Chamberlain is, “to a greater and lesser extent”, responsible for the 1940-41 carnage in the East End?

Got it.

The attacks on Fallujah, particularly the first big one, were crimes – the entire city was subject to collective punishment, with large numbers of civilian casualties.

You mean there were crimes committed during both battles, or that the mere fact of fighting them was criminal? There are rough estimates for numbers of Iraqi civilians killed in both phases, but no authoritative distinction between combatant and non-combatant has ever been made, so you’re basically just regurgitating non-facts, although I’m sure you don’t need to be told that “large numbers of civilian casualties” does not necessarily a war crime make.

I do know that, in the 2nd battle especially, US Marines fought house-to-house, clearing building after building with shoulder arms and not much more. And this after the civilian population had been wanred of what was coming and given opportunities to leave the city….opportunities denied to them, in some instances, by the brave “resistance”.

The Iraqi nation has sovereignty, Brett. How they use or misuse it is their business.

Oh that’s nice. So a Final Solution applied to German Jews only would have gotten Hitler off the hook? National sovereignty, and all that?

Brett, give it up pal. You’re talking to peole who would have looked at what was happening in Spain in 1936 and called it an “internal dispute”. No doubt they regard the International Brigades as imperialist war-mongers. They’re a bunch of Westphalian fetishists who make Nixon look like an internationalist.

I think I need a shower.

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Randy Paul 12.05.06 at 9:53 pm

Brett, give it up pal. You’re talking to peole who would have looked at what was happening in Spain in 1936 and called it an “internal dispute”. No doubt they regard the International Brigades as imperialist war-mongers. They’re a bunch of Westphalian fetishists who make Nixon look like an internationalist.

I’ll type this slowly so that you and Brett can understand. The worst of what Saddam – with the sole exception of the post Gulf War I crackdown took place while the US was supporting him.

In the run up to the war, what was hammered into our heads was:

“The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa .”

“The problem here is that there will always be some uncertainty about how quickly he can acquire nuclear weapons. But we don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.”

“Our intelligence sources tell us that he [Saddam] has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production.”

“We know that Iraq has embedded key portions of its illicit chemical weapons infrastructure within its legitimate civilian industry.”

“Our conservative estimate is that Iraq today has a stockpile of between 100 and 500 tons of chemical-weapons agent.”

All of which has turned out to be poppycock. You can continue to put lipstick on this pig, but it remains a pig. Meanwhile 3,700 Iraqi civilians were killed in October. Somehow I don’t think they care much about your Wilsonian wet dreams.

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abb1 12.06.06 at 3:22 am

Yes, the Iraq people have sovereignty. By invading and using violence against them on their territory you breach their sovereignty. Is this really so complicated? Why is it any of your business who represents them and how?

They certainly didn’t vote for you to represent them.

Moreover, same as today, under the previous government everyone there had an AK47 under the bed, so they certainly could’ve taken care of all their governing problems had they felt strongly enough. They’re doing it now, aren’t they.

94

Brownie 12.06.06 at 4:18 am

so they certainly could’ve taken care of all their governing problems had they felt strongly enough.

Then I guess they never felt strongly enough.

No doubt you regard a Rwanda circa 1994 as an internal dispute and wouldn’t have supported any outside intervention that necessarily compromised sovereignty.

What piece of work you are.

95

Randy Paul 12.06.06 at 12:08 pm

No doubt you regard a Rwanda circa 1994 as an internal dispute and wouldn’t have supported any outside intervention that necessarily compromised sovereignty.

I can’t speak for ABB1, but I can tell you this re Rwanda:

I wouldn’t have waited until 2004 to do something about the genocide, nor would I have invaded Rwanda and created an environment where tens of thousands of other civilians were killed , then told them they were being liberated.

Apparently, you ignore the reasons given the American public for the invasion.

What a piece of work you are.

96

Brownie 12.06.06 at 2:18 pm

I wouldn’t have waited until 2004 to do something about the genocide, nor would I have invaded Rwanda and created an environment where tens of thousands of other civilians were killed , then told them they were being liberated.

That’s great. All that’s missing is what you *would* have done. Let me know when you’ve thought of something.

Btw, given it was at least 800,000 Tutsis murdered in 100 days of fighting, my invasion would have to be pretty catastrophic for you to justifiably claim it was a worse option than standing on the sidelines with your thumb up your arse.

Apparently, you ignore the reasons given the American public for the invasion.

Firstly, I couldn’t give a rat’s ass what your govt. told you….I’m not American. Secondly – and this is something you antis have a real problem getting your heads around – I did and do support the war for my own reasons, reasons that I variously do and do not share with those given by Blair and Bush. For example, I do not have to be convicned that Bush really, really cares about Marsh Arabs and Kurds before supporting a course of action to remove the megalomaniac who has oppressed them for decades.

Come on randy, think about it. Something can be right even though Bush says it’s right.

97

Brownie 12.06.06 at 2:22 pm

I’ll type this slowly so that you and Brett can understand. The worst of what Saddam – with the sole exception of the post Gulf War I crackdown took place while the US was supporting him.

I know. That Reagan fella, eh? What’s your point? He was western-friendly once upon a time therefore we should have continued to cosy up to him? For consistency sake? I don’t get it, Randy. Stalin was our ally in the mid-40s, did that compel us to support him when he murdered tens of millions of his own people?

You or may or may not be interested to know that the top three suppliers of arms to Iraq until the 1991 global embargo were: China, Russia and France. Brazil sold more arms to Saddam that Reagan, Carter, Ford and Nixon. Just for the record, like.

BTW, the Uranium from Africa story is still out there. Brit intel for this claim never depended on the Italian connection that underpinned the US claim. The UK, unlike the US, continues to claim that Iraq was indeed trying to source uranium from Niger. But this isn’t really the point. The truth is that the vast majority of people who opposed intervention in Iraq did so before the WMD question was resolved one way or the other. It’s not as if you or anybody else would have changed your mind if we’d found a warehouse full of VX nerve agent.

My position has always been that the it doesn’t matter whether we found 100 ICBMs or a ton of camel shit….the point was the we had to know the truth and were justified trying to discover it. We were entitled to suppose that 12 years of obstruction and obfuscation had been designed to conceal *something*. The fact that Saddam was either bluffing or didn’t himself know the truth of what Iraq had registers as a big fat ‘so what’. Do you not feel just a tad hypocritical using the now established fact that Iraq’s WMD capability didn’t amount to a hill of beans to attack the justification for war, when the only reason you know this fact is because there was a, er, war? Absent the war, you are bereft of the intelligence that you use as the cornerstone of your opposition.

Meanwhile 3,700 Iraqi civilians were killed in October. Somehow I don’t think they care much about your Wilsonian wet dreams.

If you insist on claiming the support of the dead for your cause, then I must insist that the more than 8 million Iraqis who voted in their first democratic elections stand with me. I’ll also ask you to review the polling data of Iraqis who, whatever they say about the US, Blair and coalition troops, still regard the war as having been worth it.

“Wilsonian wet dreams”, eh? Spoken like a man who’s never lived under a jackboot.

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Randy Paul 12.06.06 at 2:58 pm

My position has always been that the it doesn’t matter whether we found 100 ICBMs or a ton of camel shit….the point was the we had to know the truth and were justified trying to discover it.

And it would have been accomplished with continued inspections.

Spoken like a man who’s never lived under a jackboot.

My father escaped from the USSr in 1921. My wife lived under a military dictatorship. You’re an ass.

Firstly, I couldn’t give a rat’s ass what your govt. told you….I’m not American. Secondly – and this is something you antis have a real problem getting your heads around – I did and do support the war for my own reasons, reasons that I variously do and do not share with those given by Blair and Bush.

Then don’t object when those of us who feel we were sold a bill of goods find it objectionable.

That’s great. All that’s missing is what you would have done. Let me know when you’ve thought of something.

What I object to is the basis of your analogy. You seem to assume that ABB1 and the rest of us would have done nothing on Rwanda. Utter bullshit. The fact is that the time to act on Saddam would have been when the US was chummy with him, not years after he had done his worst damage.

Your limited cognitive abilities seem not to realize that there is an actual humanitarian catastrophe going on in Darfur and resources beuing used in Iraq could have stopped the genocide in Darfur while it was happening. Instead, resources that should have gone to Afghanistan to stabilize it (it’s also deteriorating in case you didn’t know) and could have been used to stop the genocide in Darfur went to Iraq.

So, using your same illogic, you would probably propose doing something about Darfur – in 2016.

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Randy Paul 12.06.06 at 3:01 pm

BTW, the Uranium from Africa story is still out there. Brit intel for this claim never depended on the Italian connection that underpinned the US claim. The UK, unlike the US, continues to claim that Iraq was indeed trying to source uranium from Niger. But this isn’t really the point. The truth is that the vast majority of people who opposed intervention in Iraq did so before the WMD question was resolved one way or the other. It’s not as if you or anybody else would have changed your mind if we’d found a warehouse full of VX nerve agent.

Now you think you’re clairvoyant? Continued inspections would have resolved the WMD question and some 2,900 Americans would still be alive as would tens of thousands of Iraqis. Why should you give a rat’s ass? After all, you’re not American.

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Randy Paul 12.06.06 at 3:13 pm

Do you not feel just a tad hypocritical using the now established fact that Iraq’s WMD capability didn’t amount to a hill of beans to attack the justification for war, when the only reason you know this fact is because there was a, er, war? Absent the war, you are bereft of the intelligence that you use as the cornerstone of your opposition.

Missed this asinine comment. Continued inspections would have revealed this as well. Keep ignoring the facts, it just makes you look even more intellectually dishonest.

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Brownie 12.06.06 at 6:37 pm

randy,

First of all and taking you at your word, which I’m happy to do, you obviously do have some understanding of what life under tyranny must be like. I still insist that my wish to see other peoples availing themselves of rights I enjoy is grounded in the spirit of traditional internationalism and nothing to do with Wilson’s or anybody else’s wet dreams, but I was presumptuous to say what I did and apologise.

Then don’t object when those of us who feel we were sold a bill of goods find it objectionable.

Then find it objectionable. I’m talking about the basis of your opposition, not whether you’re entitled to feel angry with the Whitehouse. I know a handful of people who supported the war exclusively for WMD reasons and later changed their minds, but I don’t know anyone who opposed the war who would, in all conscience, have switched to support for the war had anything turned up in Iraq. Are you claiming you would have? If not, then the existence or not of WMDs has no bearing on your opinion of the war whether you’re prepared to admit that or not. I’m guessing you and I would still be arguing about the war had that VX nerve agent (which is still missing, albeit by now degraded) ever turned up.

What I object to is the basis of your analogy. You seem to assume that ABB1 and the rest of us would have done nothing on Rwanda.

With respect, randy, there’s still an information deficit as regards what you *would* have done. As I implied earlier, I’d have been in balls out support of a military intervention to prevent mass-murder, preferably with a UN resolution but, let’s face it, more likely without. What’s your master-plan?

The fact is that the time to act on Saddam would have been when the US was chummy with him, not years after he had done his worst damage.

I think you’ve let the cat out of the bag. Your issues with Saddam seems to correlate directly with the US’s disposition towards Baghdad. You wanted something done about him when he was shaking hands with Rumsfeld, but once he became public enemy number 1, your attitude towards him softened. Curious.

Your limited cognitive abilities seem not to realize that there is an actual humanitarian catastrophe going on in Darfur and resources beuing used in Iraq could have stopped the genocide in Darfur while it was happening.

Well, all I can say is you are not familiar with my posts on Harry’s Place if this is what you think, but suffice it to say I reject emphatically the notion that nothing can be done about Darfur because of Iraq. You can only think this if you believe the responsibility to do something about Darfur lies with the US and only the US. I’m sure I don’t need to list other countries, including NATO member states, who could, if they wanted, lead the way on Darfur. They don’t have troops tied up in Iraq and those they have in Afghanistan aren’t doing any fighting. Is there nothing for which the US won’t be blamed? It seems nobody wants the US to act like the world’s policeman except when they want her to act like the world’s policeman.

And as with Rwanda, I’d sure like to know what you have in mind when you talk about preventing what has happened and is still happening in Darfur? Assuming the response is military in nature, I’d like to know more about your criteria for humanitarian intervention: as in, what is it about west coast Africans that means they deserve our support more than, say, Iraqi Kurds, or Marsh Arabs?

Continued inspections would have resolved the WMD question and some 2,900 Americans would still be alive as would tens of thousands of Iraqis. Why should you give a rat’s ass? After all, you’re not American.

Firstly, you’re guessing. Neither of us can say for certain whether inspections would have been allowed to run their course. All we have to go on is experience. My experience is that Saddam only agreed to inspections again when half of the US fleet turned up in the Gulf in the autumn of 2002; that he had defied the will of the UN for over 12 years; that he had ignored 17 UN resolutions, a couple of which codified the terms of the Gulf I ceasefire and made inspections a prerequisite of those ceasefire terms; that as late as March 2003, Blix was forced to report “progress on process, but not on substance” (remember that?); that until the eve of war, Saddam was trying to attach conditions to unfettered inspections.

The only basis you have for arguing that Saddam would have, finally, complied fully and unconditionally with UN inspections, is a tendency towards wishful thinking, at least where Iraq is concerned. Even after resolution 1441 – which afforded Saddam a “final opportunity” and threatened “serious consequences”, he continued to obfuscate, prevaricate and obstruct.

Blair told the House of Commons that Blix could have 6 months, a year, 10 years to complete the task of ensuring Iraq was free from WMD, if that’s as long as it took. This was never a question of time for inspections. The point is that no amount of time could force Saddam to comply if he didn’t want to. And he didn’t want to.

We now know, rather than have to guess, that Iraq has no WMD. We know this, rather have to cross-fingers that it is true, because there was a war and looked for ourselves after years of asking nicely got us nowhere.

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Brownie 12.06.06 at 6:42 pm

or even east coast Africans…

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Randy Paul 12.06.06 at 10:40 pm

I think you’ve let the cat out of the bag. Your issues with Saddam seems to correlate directly with the US’s disposition towards Baghdad. You wanted something done about him when he was shaking hands with Rumsfeld, but once he became public enemy number 1, your attitude towards him softened.

That’s being a rather presumptuous ass. My attitudes never softened. As far as I was concerned he was public enemy number one when he satrted using chemical weapons in the Iran-Iraq War. Don’t put words in my mouth. I was doing work about Iraq’s brutality in 1983 in my Amnesty International group. What the fuck were you doing?

However, if you cannot see the value of not consorting with dictators regardless of whether they serve short term interests then you will have a long history of Saddams. The US is busy embracing Aliyev in Azerbaijan and cozying up to unpleasant characters in Turkmenistan for short term needs.

The only basis you have for arguing that Saddam would have, finally, complied fully and unconditionally with UN inspections, is a tendency towards wishful thinking, at least where Iraq is concerned.

Bullshit. Inspections were taking place. What determined the pace of the rush to war was not the pace of inspections.

But if you’re satisfied with the fact that the war is taking place built on false pretenses, so be it. It’s not your ass dodging IED’s and bullets in the desert, is it?

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