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Post 20

Wednesday, March 17, 2004 - 11:37pmSanction this postReply
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Logan,

You say:

A consistent foreign policy that is actually workable would be to refrain from war unless and until the country is attacked OR an imminent threat is posed.
Well, wouldn't that be blatant altruism as well?  I mean, the soldiers would still be unnecessarily risking their own lives when they could sit back and hope someone else does it for them.  And what if the invasion is only on the East Coast?  Surely it would be a sacrifice on the part of us West-Coasters to fight.  And really, I'm appalled by your sudden ability to accept military action in that case, when the military is still funded by taxation.  Ends and means, after all.  You're not one of them statists are you?

Joking aside, it's easy to throw those kind of arguments around.  I don't consider the question of taxation to be the ultimate trump-card in politics.  Libertarians use it these days just because they're pacifists.  But when it comes to calling the police when they're getting robbed, I bet they have no qualms at all.  No, the question of means is important, but it doesn't override everything else.  We don't live in a utopian Objectivist world, so we have to make hard choices now.

I also question what exactly this quote of yours means.  I hear it a lot of libertarians, but I haven't gotten a detailed answer.  You see, it sounds a lot like you're saying that the US can't do anything unless someone actually attacks our nation, in an attempt to conquer us.  What about trivial offenses like terrorism (including a nuclear attack), killing our people in other nations, a blockade, blowing up any planes or vessels that leave our borders, etc.  Should a foreign policy really be "unless you attack Washington, D.C., we won't retaliate or defend ourselves?".

See, I think your consistent foreign policy is simplistic.  It says we can't lay a finger on Iraq or even Afghanistan, because they haven't actually sent an army to our capital.  In fact, they don't even plan to anytime soon.  They can kill as many Americans as they want, just as long as they don't intend to conquer us.

Okay, so you moved the topic towards appropriate means.  But I don't think that's the real issue.  You claim that you don't object to the ends, just the means.  But I didn't get that at all from your first post.  Your first post was about how we shouldn't resist evil, cause they'll get angry (well...Spain shouldn't, anyway).  You said it was a sacrifice to personally resist evil, cause they might retaliate against you.  This is the big point, that isn't magically solved by volunteer funding.  If I reimbursed the government for all the costs of Iraq right now, do you think that would change anything?  It'd still piss of the bad guys (they do hate losing).  I doubt you'd agree even then, but feel free to correct me.

And this comes down to Objectivist ethics.  Do we resist evil, or hide from it.  Do we count on others to solve our problems, or do we stand up and take responsibility.  It'd be great if nobody ever needed to worry about evil people in the world.  But they exist.  It's a fact of reality.  The question then is, what do we do about it?  If rational self-interest means to cower in fear until some altruists come and save the day, then it's would be worthless. 




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Post 21

Thursday, March 18, 2004 - 12:11amSanction this postReply
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I'm astonished how the Saddamites keep bringing up arguments that have already been answered. Here goes, one more time:

Logan: "It's amazing how people let the activities of the welfare/warfare state control what they think about.  For years, Saddam wasn't on the minds of most Americans or most Objectivists.  Suddenly, Bush decides he wants to wage war on Iraq.  And suddenly people fall in line to oppose the enemy that Bush has identified.  It could have been a war on Iran or Sudan or Saudi Arabia or Syria or Libya or Somalia or Morocco or N. Korea or Cuba or Venezuela or Zimbabwe.  But it happened to be Iraq."

Linz: Indeed it *could* have been any or all of those countries & I would have said, "Bring it on." But which part of "the right, but not the obligation" do Saddamites not understand? One can leave them all alone, or take out one or two or all of them, as one pleases. One has the right, but not the obligation. Of course, the Saddamites will oppose *any* taking out of *any* of them - and *then* they'll have the unspeakable hypocrisy to pretend to be pleased when one of them *is* taken out! Ugh! Puke!

Logan: "Pro-war advocates accuse war abstainers of succoring to Saddam but not to any of those other awful regimes that Bush has chosen NOT to attack.  Why?  Are their views limited by what's in the news and what comes out of politicians' mouths?  The only position consistent with waging war on Iraq would be total warfare on all of the above-mentioned rogue regimes (and more).  But unfortunately for the war hawks, there just aren't enough American bodies to go around."

Linz: See above. And as for "American bodies," which syllable of the word "volunteer" do the Saddamites not understand?! I venture to suggest that these young men & women had a far better appreciation of "Give me liberty or give me death" than the LewRockwell.com pacifists who use the freedom they don't appreciate to offer succour to the despot those young men & women helped to topple.


Logan: "A consistent foreign policy that is actually workable would be to refrain from war unless and until the country is attacked OR an imminent threat is posed.  Now that we see how pathetic Saddam's regime really was, there can be no reasonable argument that he ever posed an imminent threat to U.S. citizens."

Linz: So it would *now* seem - *after* his overthrow that the Saddamites opposed! Prior to that ... which part of "he wasn't entitled to the benefit of a smidgeon of doubt" do the Saddamites not understand?! His history: murder, torture, genocide, invasion, possession & use of WMD. His recent history: playing games with the weapons inspectors. There was *unquestionably* the right to take him out - & it was exercised. Great! I couldn't care less if no WMD are ever found.

Logan:  "Saddam was a threat to his citizens, and the U.S. government was and is a threat to its citizens -- more of a threat than Saddam ever was and more of a threat now than it was before the war commenced."

Linz: Oh, give me a break. I don't see the Saddamites' freedom of speech being curtailed. I don't see them disappearing without trace. I don't imagine I'll be digging up their bodies from mass graves years from now. I don't see the Saddamites being deprived of the right to vote Bush out & replace him with a fellow-Saddamite, as the Spaniards just did. *Of course* we O/ists & libertarians have *serious* arguments with the governments of our respective countries over violations of our liberties - & literally *no one* in *my* country has protested these more loudly than I over the past decade - *no one!!!!!!* - but we are not such droppers of context - at least, I *thought* we weren't - that when there's an epochal battle going on between western civilisation, with all its flaws, & a resurgent primitive savagery, we pronounce them each as bad as the other & offer the *savages* succour. Good God!

Logan: "I should stop beating this dead horse."

Linz: On that we're agreed. 



Post 22

Thursday, March 18, 2004 - 2:45amSanction this postReply
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Excellent article David.  And esp. liked this from Joe:-

And this comes down to Objectivist ethics.  Do we resist evil, or hide from it.  Do we count on others to solve our problems, or do we stand up and take responsibility.  It'd be great if nobody ever needed to worry about evil people in the world.  But they exist.  It's a fact of reality.  The question then is, what do we do about it?  If rational self-interest means to cower in fear until some altruists come and save the day, then it's would be worthless. 


So true.




Post 23

Thursday, March 18, 2004 - 4:28amSanction this postReply
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Joe, thank you for your further debate on this topic - it is clear that there is considerable passion on both sides.

" I know that there are alternatives to direct invasion.  Also, there's questions of whether it is really that necessary.  I don't fault those kind of argument.  What I'm saying is, those aren't the arguments being made!"
 
Joe I apologise if I misinterpreted your position, but with respect those are the arguments I have been making (or trying to make at least).

I'll not presume to speak for others but it ought to be clear from my previous comments that I don't "only want non-intervention". Also, I think your assertion that this comes down to whether US foreign policy causes terrorism is over-simplistic. Its more a question of 5 decades of immoral statist foreign policy leading to (not causing) terrorism and a whole raft of other problems as well. For instance a number of dictators (including Saddam) were propped up by the US at various times because they were seen as being allies against a greater threat. One aspect of the case against invasion is that the occupation of Iraq now is effectively a continuation of that foreign policy, a foreign policy which Rand condemned and which Objectivist now ought to be working to dismantle (I'll stress that's not the entire case, and that aspect alone probably wouldn't make the case).

Regarding the issue of "explaining things, not justifying them" - does identifying a murderer's motive justify his crime? The analogy you and Logan have used seems flawed to me (i.e. I don't consider it a valid analogy to the situation we're discussing).

A couple of further questions - would Joe and Linz mind defining precisely what constitutes a Saddamite?

And one for Linz - in what way does discussing the best way of handling Saddam succour him?

Thanks again,
MH




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Post 24

Thursday, March 18, 2004 - 5:43amSanction this postReply
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MH

“Some possible alternatives regarding Iraq might have been direct containment, a total blockade, supporting any "enlightened" elements in Iraq seeking to genuinely liberalise (i.e. westernise) the culture, assassinating Saddam, or some combination of the above. I'm not saying any particular one of these options would have been successful - each one raised questions and problems of implementation which outside the scope of this debate. The point I am making is that there were alternatives.”

 

“One aspect of the case against invasion is that the occupation of Iraq now is effectively a continuation of that foreign policy, a foreign policy which Rand condemned and which Objectivist now ought to be working to dismantle (I'll stress that's not the entire case, and that aspect alone probably wouldn't make the case).”

 

I reply:

 

Your logic here is flawed, and so is Chris’s. On the hand, you admit that Saddam should be dealt with in a way that does not obfuscate a foreign policy that supports dictators. On the other hand, a clear-cut direct intervention that takes out Saddam is too direct for you!   I think Rand may have actually applauded the fact that Bush and Blair clearly took sides, and did not in their actions hide behind indirect timid interference in Iraq politics by nefarious means. I have always argued that Bush and Blair’s initial arguments for war included some of the worst lily-livered double-speak and propaganda used in modern times, but the elimination of any dictator that oppresses his people, and thereby liberates them, is always moral. And in the end Bush and Blair did get their moral arguments for the war right.




Post 25

Thursday, March 18, 2004 - 6:24amSanction this postReply
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Joe's post (post 19) says it all for me.

1) “The "Saddamites" only want non-intervention.” Yes, they have a disagreement on purpose – not means, timing, or military strategy. I understand doubts about the latter.

2) Nor can we avoid “pissing off” Islamists. Our primary metaphysical focus cannot be the subjective mental state of raving lunatics who take umbrage at not ruling the world. How do we make them happy?

3) It is “clear that the blame is not on the terrorists, but on the US.” Yes, I think it is clear that coalition critics put the primary blame on the US. It’s part of Islamic propaganda to blame the victim after every attack. People with low self-esteem, similar to those in abusive relationships, tend to fall for this ploy.



Post 26

Thursday, March 18, 2004 - 9:45amSanction this postReply
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Hi Marcus,

An interesting point :-) Bear in mind that this was one factor in a much wider case involving the effects of the present occupation, the difficulties of setting up a more enlightened regieme, the possibility of ending up with an Islamic fundamentalist government in Iraq,  the reciprocal effects of all this on the domestic situation in the US, the cost to the US in manpower and funding etc.

MH




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Post 27

Thursday, March 18, 2004 - 10:31amSanction this postReply
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The "Saddamites" are not advocating "only ... non-intervention."  I am a Saddamite, by Linz's definition.  But I have been for the war against Al Qaeda. It was my city that was attacked, and I advocated an invasion of Afghanistan because it was a hotbed of Al Qaeda insurgents.  I did not advocate an invasion of Iraq because there has never been any evidence of an alliance between the Hussein regime and Al Qaeda, and Iraq was simply not an imminent threat to the security of the United States.
 
I could not care less about "pissing off" the terrorists.  I argued for a US strike back in 1993 when the bastards attacked the WTC for the first time.  In the meanwhile, Al Qaeda is still creating havoc, Bin Laden is still at large, and the US is planted in a tribal-torn country, which is wedded to cultural and political collectivism, trying to build a nation where there is not likely ever to be one.
 
There were alternatives to invading, occupying, and funding a new welfare state in Iraq.  Containment was an alternative; as it turned out, the US would have been containing no weapons of mass destruction and an Iraqi army that was one-third the size it once was in 1991.  The pro-war group, however, argued that there were no alternatives because they endorsed the false premise that Iraq was a threat.
 
Now, unfortunately, because the US is there, it can't simply up and leave overnight without creating the conditions for a potential Shi'ite theocracy and a civil war.
 
One more point:  The "Saddamites"--or at least this one--have never argued that terrorism is caused solely by US foreign policy.  I have argued that US foreign policy was a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for the current Al Qaeda insurgency.  But to act as if US foreign policy has had nothing to do with this current insurgency is to be willfully blind to modern history.  The opposition to the US is not simply because the US is the embodiment of Western values--oh if that were true!  It is because the US has propped up one dictator after another, from the Shah of Iran to the House of Sa'ud to the mjuahideen (that became the Taliban) in Afghanistan to the Hussein regime in Iraq.
 
I don't know why it is that these things have to keep being stated over and over and over again. I do not doubt the sincerity of those who honestly believed that Iraq was an imminent threat to US security.  But it wasn't.  And this country is going to be paying the price for this invasion and occupation for decades to come.




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Post 28

Thursday, March 18, 2004 - 11:32amSanction this postReply
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Chrtis: "The "Saddamites" are not advocating 'only ... non-intervention.'  I am a Saddamite, by Linz's definition.  But I have been for the war against Al Qaeda. It was my city that was attacked, and I advocated an invasion of Afghanistan because it was a hotbed of Al Qaeda insurgents.  I did not advocate an invasion of Iraq because there has never been any evidence of an alliance between the Hussein regime and Al Qaeda, and Iraq was simply not an imminent threat to the security of the United States."

Linz: We know that *now*, but I say again, for the umpteenth time, there was absolutely no reason to give Saddam the benefit of any doubt. And that he was *not* an "imminent" threat a year ago was thanks *only* to the previous intervention ... *which the Saddamites opposed*!!!!!!!* Had he been left alone after his invasion of Kuwait, he assuredly would have wrought a huge amount of havoc in the world by now, & he assuredly wanted to get back to being in a position to do so.

_________________________________
 
Chris: "I could not care less about 'pissing off' the terrorists.  I argued for a US strike back in 1993 when the bastards attacked the WTC for the first time.  In the meanwhile, Al Qaeda is still creating havoc, Bin Laden is still at large, and the US is planted in a tribal-torn country, which is wedded to cultural and political collectivism, trying to build a nation where there is not likely ever to be one."

Linz: Then you must also oppose the US being "planted" in Afghanistan - *that* is necessary for the pursuit of bin Laden & Al Qaeda, which you say you approve of??!!

_______________________________________________
 
Chris: "There were alternatives to invading, occupying, and funding a new welfare state in Iraq.  Containment was an alternative; as it turned out, the US would have been containing no weapons of mass destruction and an Iraqi army that was one-third the size it once was in 1991."

Linz (counts to ten): Thanks to the previous intervention which the Saddamites opposed & *which should have been seen through to its conclusion*. As for alternatives - let's face it, the Saddamites wouldn't have done *anything*. They bang on about "alternatives" because their opposition to outright liberation *forces* them to.

________________________________________________________
 
Chris: "One more point:  The 'Saddamites'--or at least this one--have never argued that terrorism is caused solely by US foreign policy.  I have argued that US foreign policy was a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for the current Al Qaeda insurgency.  But to act as if US foreign policy has had nothing to do with this current insurgency is to be willfully blind to modern history.  The opposition to the US is not simply because the US is the embodiment of Western values--oh if that were true!  It is because the US has propped up one dictator after another, from the Shah of Iran to the House of Sa'ud to the mjuahideen (that became the Taliban) in Afghanistan to the Hussein regime in Iraq."

Linz (counts to 100): Previous wrongs should not paralyse one from doing the right thing now. Should Bush not go after Al Qaeda because Reagan supported the mujahideen (against the Soviet invaders)? What nonsense! Moreover, the opposition *is* *primarily* to the fact that the US embodies western values. Note the similarity of bin Laden's & Saddam's rhetoric in this regard.

Sounds as though they've got bin Laden's Number Two as I type this. Great!!

_____________________________________________
 
Chris: "I don't know why it is that these things have to keep being stated over and over and over again."

Linz: Couldn't agree more!!!!!! Sheesh!!!! :-)






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Post 29

Thursday, March 18, 2004 - 12:59pmSanction this postReply
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I'm still not clear on Chris' objections.

"But I have been for the war against Al Qaeda." -CS

One doesn’t wage war against a criminal organization despite what Bush and Kerry say. One wages war against nations. In a broad war, several nations and regions are involved. Each is a battle of the broader war. You approved of the battle of Afghanistan but have reservations about the battle in Iraq. But what are the grounds for you objection? Here you state:

"I did not advocate an invasion of Iraq because there has never been any evidence of an alliance between the Hussein regime and Al Qaeda, and Iraq was simply not an imminent threat to the security of the United States." -CS

The idea was to prevent the alliance and avoid the “gathering” threat. In a broad war the battle order is determined by strategic concerns. I can’t tell if your objection is military or moral. Was it inefficient to deploy resources in Iraq without greater confirmation of the threats? Or were we morally obligated to give Saddam, a mass murdered, warmonger, supporter of Islamist terrorists, deranged killer and demented wretch, the benefit of the doubt until he commits a new act against us? I understand the questions of military strategy; but not the moral qualms.

"I have argued that US foreign policy was a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for the current Al Qaeda insurgency." -CS

Yes, but that doesn’t categorize the issue sufficiently. There's still a huge difference between the moral depravity of a vicious attacker and the failure to take all precautions to defend one self. The latter is a necessary but not sufficient condition to being attacked. Morality is more than just question of necessary and sufficient conditions.




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Post 30

Thursday, March 18, 2004 - 1:39pmSanction this postReply
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The article, as I recall was about the Spanish elections, which was seemingly dropped off the map in about post number three.  There is a lot of evidence that the Popular Party, despite its name, was rapidly losing ground to the socialists in the days before the election.  Some polling showed a deadheat before the bombings.  Aznar's position on the War in Iraq was very unpopular with the Spanish voters, but before the bombings not a major issue in a race where local concerns were the main focus.  Combine this with Aznar and his government pushing the ETA angle and dismissing the Al Queda angle despite the overwhelming evidence it was them and you see why the result was the way it was.  There is a nice article by Julian Sanchez aloing these lines over at reason.com...

Also, its worth noting that Spain pulling out a couple thousand troops that guard a couple highways in the relatively calm south of Iraq does nothing to hurt the war on terror.  Spain has been one of our main allies in the war on terror because it has cooperated with the US and other allies in tracking down terrorist cells and has cracked down on them hard arresting more suspected al queda allies than the US has since 9/11.  All indications from the new government suggests that this will continue.  It must also be said that on the front that really counts in the war on terror which is intelligence sharing, investigating and tracking down terrorist cells, Germany and France remain strong allies despite their unwillingness to troops to a boondoggle in Iraq.

I've managed to get through this post without calling anyone a Saddamite or soddomite for that matter, and its felt pretty good actually.

I find it amazing that of all the things to get angry about in this war on terror why O'ist point their blame at gazpacho slurping Spainards makes no sense to me.  I'm angry that:

Not one official from the US has been fired or even taken to task for the intelligence failure that is 9/11

Not one official has been fired from failing to figure out Iraq had no WMD's despite the US having a $50 billion annual budget.

Lying to the American public about WMD's and Iraq and the Iraqi-al queda connection

The neoconservative ideology that drove this invasion.

The welfare state we are creating in Iraq.

The inability to provide even basic services and security to the Iraqi people despite hundreds of billions of dollars spent. 

Imprisioning innocent people at Camp X-ray for over a year without any rights, ability to see a lawyer or possibility of trial.

While I share Linz and others outrage, mine is pointed at my own government for its total failure to take any responsibilty for its mistakes, protect my liberties and my safety in the war on terror.  Sure, terrorists need to be hunted down and stopped and all that stuff, but I realize that statistically I'm much more likely to be persecuted and/or killed by my own government than any terrorists out there -- based on the articles in the Free Radical and New Zealand very smartly not taking part in the US War on Terror, I presume the same goes for you kiwis as well.  :)

Mick




Post 31

Thursday, March 18, 2004 - 1:39pmSanction this postReply
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Post 32

Thursday, March 18, 2004 - 3:40pmSanction this postReply
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(Hey, before I respond, just a quick question to our sponsors:  Is there no way to cut and paste a response?  Must one type on this interface?  I can't seem to cut and paste.  So let me know.)

I think it's really important that we not hijack David's discussion here; this was a valid subject about Spain and the war.  So, let me just answer briefly since all of this has been said so many times before.

I have no problem with the US being planted in Afghanistan because the US is not concerned with "nation-building" in Afghanistan.  It's policies in Afghanistan, however, leave much to be desired.  It is now encouraging the re-establishment of tribal warlords, and it is now encouraging the development of opium crops.  Not what I would call a "moral" means to an end.

Yes, two wrongs don't make a right, which is why I did not oppose intervention in Afghanistan, even though the US aided the mujihadeen.  I have been railing against the Saudis and the Pakistanis too:  but the US will never do anything to these governments because it sleeps with them.

I disagree with Rick that one does not wage war against a criminal organization; one wages a war against criminal aggressors---whether they belong to an organization or a government.  Al Qaeda is the organization responsible for 9/11.  It should be crushed.   The neocons did not claim that the US was fighting in Iraq to prevent an alliance with Al Qaeda. The neocons made it appear as if Hussein and Al Qaeda were in bed together, and that the Iraqis had something to do with 9/11.  They also claimed that Iraq had WMDs, even though there was quite a bit of intelligence indicating the exact opposite.  The neocons are like artists:  they engaged in a selective re-creation of reality according to their own metaphysical value-judgments.  The problem is:  they bracketed out every fact that militated against their nation-building artistic scheme.

Let me make one thing clear, however:  I had and have no moral qualms about taking out Hussein; I do have moral qualms about putting US soldiers in harm's way for a nation-building enterprise that the US government has no business operating.  The Iraq war has capitalized on the worst aspects of US foreign policy; it is now an open question if the best aspects will ultimately be sacrificed to the worst.




Post 33

Friday, March 19, 2004 - 1:06amSanction this postReply
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Never mind the hyperbole. Other writers view this issue simply as simply one of political accountability. Here's today's NYTcolumn by Paul Krugman:

Taken for a Ride
By PAUL KRUGMAN

Published: March 19, 2004

"Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists." So George Bush declared on Sept. 20, 2001. But what was he saying? Surely he didn't mean that everyone was obliged to support all of his policies, that if you opposed him on anything you were aiding terrorists.

Now we know that he meant just that.

A year ago, President Bush, who had a global mandate to pursue the terrorists responsible for 9/11, went after someone else instead. Most Americans, I suspect, still don't realize how badly this apparent exploitation of the world's good will — and the subsequent failure to find weapons of mass destruction — damaged our credibility. They imagine that only the dastardly French, and now maybe the cowardly Spaniards, doubt our word. But yesterday, according to Agence France-Presse, the president of Poland — which has roughly 2,500 soldiers in Iraq — had this to say: "That they deceived us about the weapons of mass destruction, that's true. We were taken for a ride."

This is the context for last weekend's election upset in Spain, where the Aznar government had taken the country into Iraq against the wishes of 90 percent of the public. Spanish voters weren't intimidated by the terrorist bombings — they turned on a ruling party they didn't trust. When the government rushed to blame the wrong people for the attack, tried to suppress growing evidence to the contrary and used its control over state television and radio both to push its false accusation and to play down antigovernment protests, it reminded people of the broader lies about the war.

By voting for a new government, in other words, the Spaniards were enforcing the accountability that is the essence of democracy. But in the world according to Mr. Bush's supporters, anyone who demands accountability is on the side of the evildoers. According to Dennis Hastert, the speaker of the House, the Spanish people "had a huge terrorist attack within their country and they chose to change their government and to, in a sense, appease terrorists."

So there you have it. A country's ruling party leads the nation into a war fought on false pretenses, fails to protect the nation from terrorists and engages in a cover-up when a terrorist attack does occur. But its electoral defeat isn't democracy at work; it's a victory for the terrorists.

Notice, by the way, that Spain's prime minister-elect insists that he intends to fight terrorism. He has even said that his country's forces could remain in Iraq if they were placed under U.N. control. So if the Bush administration were really concerned about maintaining a united front against terrorism, all it would have to do is drop its my-way-or-the-highway approach. But it won't.

For these denunciations of Spain, while counterproductive when viewed as foreign policy, serve a crucial domestic purpose: they help re-establish the political climate the Bush administration prefers, in which anyone who opposes any administration policy can be accused of undermining the fight against terrorism.

This week the Bush campaign unveiled an ad accusing John Kerry of, among other things, opposing increases in combat pay because he voted against an $87 billion appropriation for Iraq. Those who have followed this issue were astonished at the ad's sheer up-is-down-ism.

In fact, the Bush administration has done the very thing it falsely accuses Mr. Kerry of doing: it has tried repeatedly to slash combat pay and military benefits, provoking angry articles in The Army Times with headlines like "An Act of `Betrayal.' " Oh, and Mr. Kerry wasn't trying to block funds for Iraq — he was trying to force the administration, which had concealed the cost of the occupation until its tax cut was passed, to roll back part of the tax cut to cover the expense.

But the bigger point is this: in the Bush vision, it was never legitimate to challenge any piece of the administration's policy on Iraq. Before the war, it was your patriotic duty to trust the president's assertions about the case for war. Once we went in and those assertions proved utterly false, it became your patriotic duty to support the troops — a phrase that, to the administration, always means supporting the president. At no point has it been legitimate to hold Mr. Bush accountable. And that's the way he wants it.  

(end)

- Daniel



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Post 34

Friday, March 19, 2004 - 4:19amSanction this postReply
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It's impossible to measure how little I care what the NYT has to say about anything.  Commie pinko rag, is what that is.  Bush is a religious/statist nitwit, yeah.  What's that got to do with Spain?  Fact is, the US shared its intelligence on Iraq with anyone in the UN who wanted a gander.  I find it hard to believe that of all the intelligence agencies in the world, no one called "bullshit" when Colin Powell gave his little presentation at the UN.  If all that "evidence" was good enough to put one over on those who decided to go into Iraq, it's hard to fault Bush alone for being gullible. 

 Spain got roped in by whatever reasons they had for going to war, and now Spain must deal with it.  To immediately after a terrorist attack grant one of the new big wishes of Islamists the world over (bugging out of Iraq) equals, in my book, appeasement.  Spain is now debating the viscosity of spilled milk.  Now that Iraq is part of their foreign policy, Spain has to suck it up.  Accomplish whatever mission they've set out for themselves in Iraq, on their own terms,  then pull out--like any other foreign, military excursion.  Essentially recognizing a whole other electorate--terrorists--in your democratic process will not  create positive solutions.  They'll just continue "voting" in the best way they know how: killing people.

That said, I don't think invading Iraq was necessary.  They have a next-door neighbor, goes by the name of Iran, who through its funding and support of murderers is and always has been simply asking to get a boot in the ass.  Why invade the reportedly "most secular" of the Middle Eastern/Arab states?  (Maybe so it wouldn't be seen as a "War On Islam", instead of a War On Terror?) 
I despise the idea of tolerating evil, but the fact is America can't be everywhere (neither can policemen, or firefighters), and if we're to even attempt to INVADE and OCCUPY each and every Arab nation that might have WMD in it and might have had terrorists stop through a few times, it will be an even more brutal War On Terrorism.  One which America will lose.  You can however utilize rapid, intelligence-based actions of small scale and large effect, e.g. blowing the hell out of training camps, ramming cruise missiles down people's throats, seizing funds, paying informants, threatening other heads of state, etc.  Basically, turn the CIA back into a real-world killing machine.  Sounds scary, but that's what governments do: scare, or kick, the shit out of criminals. Deploy the unmanned drones, spooks, spies, spec ops, and laser-guided cruise missiles.  Afghanistan--which bore very little of the full brunt of American military might--has been and is being sorted out nicely where terrorists are concerned.  We aren't fighting Nazis or Soviet Russia here.  Mission should dictate tactics

The invasion and conquering of Iraq, the liberation of it's people, and the overthrow of Hussein will have little effect on terrorist organizations, whether al Qaeda, Islamic Jihad, or the People's Liberation Front of Judea. (hehe)  All that effects terrorists is finding them and killing them.  Unapologetically, without flourishes or dramatic, costly invasions and occupations, and certainly without mixing our "find-them-kill-them" agenda with a humanitarian one.  Find people who have killed or are planning on killing Americans (or Kiwis, or Spaniards or Brits) and kill them dead.   And I can think of a few places besides Iraq with more likely ties to al Qaeda, with just as repressive regimes--whom we still shouldn't invade and occupy(unless the nation 1)resists our attempts to get at the terrorists 2) directly or otherwise sponsored or plans on sponsoring attacks on America or her allies).  .

Spain has every right to revoke its involvement with a full-blown occupation of Iraq, although it should be prepared to bear the eventual repercussions, e.g. insatiable terrorists demanding ever more concessions. But they should never have gone along with the invasion in the first place.  Finding and killing terrorists discriminately who've killed or plan on killing your countrymen has nothing to do with conquering, occupying, and rebuilding an entire nation.  WMDs or not, evil dictator or not.  The evil dictator in question just happened to be in the correct general region of the world.   I recognize that if the coalition hadn't invaded, Saddam would still be in power.  That's a fact.  But Saddam being in power was irrelevant to me before the Iraq-wardrums began beating, and even after Sept. 11th because: 1)  he was no threat due to the excellent--yet far-too-lenient--first Gulf War, 2) al Qaeda wasn't hiding from the US in Iraq, and 3) there are far too many evil regimes in the world possessing nasty stuff that could just as easily been sold to terrorists. 

So my answer to Spain is: deal with the mistake you've made, and try to correct it--without doing so in terms set by people who want you dead. 

That goes for all countries involved. 

Now, I'll just paste this to my Hotmail and press "Send".  It should be read by every major Head of State within the hour.  I'll update everyone with their responses and acquiescences. 8^P

(if there are typos and this is ranty, I plead lack of sleep)





Post 35

Friday, March 19, 2004 - 5:13amSanction this postReply
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Bravo Chris and Bravo Jeremy!!



Post 36

Friday, March 19, 2004 - 6:08amSanction this postReply
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Matthew, Chris, Jeremy

Bravo Chris and Bravo Jeremy!!

Ditto!

I totally agree with you all, although I have not been allowed to say so explicitely. Hehe.

(And Chris, you can cut and past, just as I did the link above, but only if you are using IE. I don't think it will work in Netscape.)

Regi




Post 37

Friday, March 19, 2004 - 7:44amSanction this postReply
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Chris, you answered my question to a large extent. I was trying to categorize your position rather than review it. Some libertarians join the Left in the condemnation of the Iraq invasion on grounds that we are doing something morally wrong to a legitimate sovereign innocent entity (or something like that). You’ve made it clear that it is the damage to ourselves that you worry about. (I share that concern.) As you say:

"I had and have no moral qualms about taking out Hussein; I do have moral qualms about putting US soldiers in harm's way …" - CS

I take some exception to the other points but let me return to the subject of this thread. I find it odd that some libertarians, including those at the Power and Liberty blog, can approve (in part or with mixed feelings) the Spanish appeasement in the face of terrorism. The early scheduled withdrawal of Spanish troops is being treated as an expression of non-intervention. What a joke! The Spanish Socialists are big-time interventionists. They even said they would return (or stay) in Iraq if the intervention was bigger: under UN auspices. (PS Kerry is the same.)

The Spanish Socialists are appeasing terrorists just to take a partisan position against a American Conservative Republican President. I don’t see how any libertarian can twist this into something that has even a sliver of value. Zapatero's response is the epitome of a childish rebellion, which just spites oneself and emboldens one’s enemies. Non-interventionist principles? Dream on!




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Post 38

Friday, March 19, 2004 - 10:21amSanction this postReply
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Stephen den Beste has some interesting points to make on this subject:

"Whether Saddam was actively cooperating with al Qaeda or not is irrelevant; Saddam's government still knew a lot about those groups and what they were doing, and it seems likely we've come into possession of some of that data. And there's no question at all that he was cooperating with and providing substantial support to some terrorist groups; it was public policy announced in some of his speeches. We definitely have cut off that support...

But ultimately none of that matters...the real goal is to eliminate the true source of the danger which faces us, the root cause, as it were. al Qaeda arose out of that true source, but is not the actual source. Since al Qaeda represents an imminent threat, it must be dealt with. But if we only deal with al Qaeda, then something else will emerge to take its place and more of us will die in terrorist attacks.

The real root cause is Arab failure, Arab shame at that failure, and Arab anger lashing out at us because our success makes their failure starkly clear. Thomas Sowell writes:
There are only 18 computers per thousand persons in the Arab world, compared to 78 per thousand persons worldwide. Fewer than 400 industrial patents were issued to people in the Arab countries during the last two decades of the 20th century, while 15,000 industrial patents were issued to South Koreans alone.
Human beings do not always take reversals of fortune gracefully. Still less can those who were once on top quietly accept seeing others leaving them far behind economically, intellectually, and militarily.
Those in the Islamic world have for centuries been taught to regard themselves as far superior to the "infidels" of the West, while everything they see with their own eyes now tells them otherwise. Worse yet, what the whole world sees with their own eyes tells them that the Middle East has made few contributions to human advancement in our times.
Even Middle Eastern oil was largely discovered and processed by people from the West. After oil, the Middle East's most prominent export has been terrorism.
In 2002, an Arab study group working under UN auspices released a comprehensive evaluation of the current state of Arab society today on all levels. Their conclusion can be summarized in two words: "it sucks". A few quotes:
Over the past twenty years, growth in per capita income was the lowest in the world except in sub-Saharan Africa.
Labour productivity has been low and is declining. ... Compared to the Asian Tigers, per capita output was higher than the average of this group in 1960. Now it is half that in Korea.
There is evidence that the quality of education has deteriorated, implying a decline in knowledge acquisition and analytical and creative skills.
Using the freedom index to characterize the extent of freedom in Arab countries compared to the rest of the world, shows that out of the seven regions of the world Arab countries had the lowest freedom score in the late 1990s.
Utilisation of Arab women's capabilities through political and economic participation remains the lowest in the world in quantitative terms. 
 ..Arab society also seems to be uniquely tailored to squeeze the life out of the human spirit.... There are only two ways we can eliminate the true danger we face: we can "destabilize" the entire region by inducing liberal reforms, in the traditional sense of the word "liberal" (i.e. liberation of individuals), or we can commit nuclear genocide.
Obviously the latter is something we really do not want to do. It is truly a "last resort". And it would be nearly as much of a disaster for us as for them. But if we don't actively work to bring about liberalization of Arab society and liberation of Arabs as individuals, then it will eventually come to that. If we refuse to face the real root cause of this war and refuse to work on correcting it, then eventually we'll face the stark choice of either committing genocide or being victims of it. The problem won't go away simply because we ignore it or refuse to admit that it exists.

And that is why the invasion of Iraq was necessary. The invasion had very little to do with WMDs, even though that was the core of the public debate in the UN. The real reason we needed to invade Iraq was because we needed to take control of one core Arab nation so we could establish something like a western liberal government and society there, with equal rights for the women, with a truly free press, with the right of free speech and free assembly and free exercise of religion, and a government which served the people rather than trying to rule them. If we are even partially successful in doing that, it will seed those ideas into the entire region, and bring about reforms elsewhere more indirectly.

It turns out that we are engaged in attempting to bring about exactly the reforms that were recommended by that Arab study group which wrote the UN report. It would be nice if such reforms could spontaneously come about from inside, but there's no real reason to believe they will, and we can no longer afford to wait for that to happen.

In war it is important to take the long view...We can see trees without seeing forests. We can win battles while losing the war. Even granting that we might have been more successful in hunting down al Qaeda had we not invaded Iraq, adopting such a strategy would still have been wrong."

(More on den Beste's observations here:
http://denbeste.nu/essays/strategic_overview.shtml)

And to tie all of this  back to the recent events in Spain, den Beste notes that:

"The attack in Spain was an enemy operation which was very successful, both tactically and strategically. It was a strategic victory for our enemies because it caused one of our allies to change sides and to align against us. That's the kind of thing that happens in war. But that doesn't prove that our overall strategy is a failure, nor does it mean we're losing. It just means we haven't totally won yet, and that our enemy remains dangerous."




Post 39

Friday, March 19, 2004 - 12:27pmSanction this postReply
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Aside from the issue of political accountability - which is the key point to remember about Spain - it's important to note Krugman's other point: that the war in Iraq - indeed the war on Terror itself - appears to be being used as a tool to leverage people onside for a whole lot of unrelated stuff. Amending the constitution against gays? You're with us or against us. Blowing the budget from here to eternity? You're with us or against us. Can't understand why the Saudis and Bin Ladens got to sneak out of town following 9/11? You're for us or against us. No WMD in Iraq? You're for us or against us. And so on. You have to wonder how serious are these guys about the War on Terror anyway, given it is so politically useful. Yes, Al Qaeda's number 2 is apparently surrounded - but not by Americans!

It seems a very odd mix of fundamentalist Christians, Straussian anti-democrats, and cold-eyed pragmatists has somehow made its way to the top of the American political system. Even for politicians, they seem a uniquely secretive, deceptive, and fiscally irresponsible bunch. And they deeply dislike the idea of political accountability. Just look how much arm twisting it took to get Bush to spend more than 1 hour talking to the 9/11 commission. It's no wonder the sight of Spain's peole taking their leadership to task for failing to protect them - and lying about it - has caused this lot to try to accuse them of "cowardice".

My feeling is: Lay down common cause with them and you'd better be damn careful that you don't get up with fleas.

- Daniel



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