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Post 0

Sunday, January 9, 2005 - 11:57pmSanction this postReply
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Bravo, Cameron, for having the integrity to change your mind. And bravo for having the guts to announce it. I was beginning to think you never would! I doubt that Hitchens' hatred for Saddam & Saddamites would equal mine, but I'm glad someone's comes close. :-)

Very well done. Welcome home.

Linz



Post 1

Monday, January 10, 2005 - 12:14amSanction this postReply
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Thank you, Lindsay. I gather you mean "welcome home" in a more spiritual sense, since I'm still very far from home in the physical sense!

I know many SOLOists and perhaps certain casual observers of this site will be disappointed/disgusted/pleased/elated (circle here) but at least curious to know the full series of reasons for my change of mind. I am in the process of working on an article elaborating on just this.

As for Hitchens--if you've read my article Come Back Karl, All Is Forgiven you'll know that Hitchens is the kind of leftist I admire considerably and that the world needs more of.




Post 2

Monday, January 10, 2005 - 1:32amSanction this postReply
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I'm looking forward to seeing your article Cameron.  Especially the part about what I said!



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Post 3

Monday, January 10, 2005 - 8:48amSanction this postReply
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Hi Cameron, thanks for posting the recommendation. Although I was never as against the war as you were, I think listening to Mr Perigo the night we had dinner did it for me. The real point for me wasn't the necessity of 'proving' the existence of weapons of mass destruction (the 'evilness' of the regime itself provided sufficient justification for an attack) , but rather an illumination of the political principle that a morally superior country has a 'right', but not obligation, to change a morally inferior regime. If a democratically elected government has chosen a course of action based upon an objective information criterion, appropriately reflecting national interests, the anti-war campaigner, although he may disagree with the criterion, really doesn't have much of a leg upon which to stand. The true problem lies with governmental representatives who misrepresent the nature of the 'national interest', expanding the concept beyond meaning.           




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Post 4

Monday, January 10, 2005 - 12:51pmSanction this postReply
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Sorry, folks, I have never wavered from my stance that the US Government owes a defense to its citizens from serious threats and I am not at all convinced that Iraq posed a serious threat to the United States of America. So, however vicious Sadam was, however much of a tyranny Iraq was, the war against it was and still is unjustified. I see nothing in what Hitchens has been saying--and I follow his work closely--that would require me to change my mind on the matter. And when it comes to Monday morning quarterbacking, things look pretty awful. 11,000 American casualties, with 3000 or so dead and the rest maimed for what?



Post 5

Monday, January 10, 2005 - 1:25pmSanction this postReply
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I suspect the occasion Bevan refers to above was the same one when Joe had his conversation with Cameron. Sounds like a good night's work! :-)

In response to Tibor, I reproduce here part of my most recent article on this matter, The Matter of Matt. The argument Bevan refers to is clearly Point 1. Tibor's objection, that he's "not at all convinced Saddam was a threat to America" is dealt with in Point 2. And Cameron's conversion, judging by the Hitchens connection, would appear to have been triggered by factors subsumed under Points 2 & 3.

As for American casualties - place the blame where it belongs, Tibor. On the murderous superstition-driven barbarians who are killing & maiming them, in the name of a type of society where you wouldn't have the right to say you were "not at all convinced" by *anything* the government said!

Linz

1) Sight unseen, a free country has the right - but not the duty - to liberate a slave-pen. The Saddamites' blatantly dishonest retort to that was, in effect, that I was - or ought to be - arguing that America had the *duty* to liberate *every* slave pen. That pissed me off.

2) Saddam was not entitled to the benefit of a single doubt for a single minute. Regardless of what we now know about the extent to which he had redeveloped his weapons programmes, his own behaviour appeared to confirm what analysts believed: that he *had* redeveloped them to a menacing degree. *Not* that Iraq could necessarily, itself, unleash WMD on America, but would give WMD to terrorists who *would* unleash them. The Saddamites had no answer to this, but refused to budge nonetheless. That pissed me off.

3) This war is not a discrete event, whose outcome doesn't matter much, one way or the other. This war *is* apocalyptic. It is a struggle to the death between western civilisation - warts & all - & an unspeakably vicious ideology avowedly, unashamedly, explicitly intent on *destroying* western civilisation. This ideology and its practitioners do not sport mere warts - they are cosmic cancers. (The most appalling inversion committed by the Saddamites occurs when they dismiss the "apocalyptic" view of this war even as they tout the self-evidently preposterous view that the re-election of George Bush *would* be apocalyptic. Sheesh!) This war *could* have been played out elsewhere. If the Saddamites had their way it would be played out in America. As it happens, because Bush, with absolute justification, chose to go into Iraq, it's being played out *there*. Al Qaeda has gone there in droves, just as it was always going to swamp any other crucible of this cosmic conflict. Now, you'll excuse me, I'm sure, if in championing the cause of western civilisation I occasionally overlook diplomatic niceties or decline to participate in polite academic parlour games. No, Saddamites? The only issue that matters here is whether or not I'm polite? Well, yes, that too pisses me off.

4) America must not be paralysed by its own past mistakes. The fact & nature of those mistakes does not lessen the urgency or mitigate the peril of the current situation. The Saddamites acknowledged the "insightful" (ugh! Wanker-speak for "bleedingly obvious") nature of this observation - but blithely carried on saying America once backed Iraq & therefore was not entitled to topple Saddam *now*. That pissed me off.

5) America must not be paralysed by the fact that it is not at this point a perfect libertarian society. See above, & ditto. Had the Saddamites been around in the late 1930s, they would have been saying Britain had no right to declare war on Germany because it, Britain, wasn't fully libertarian. Their horrible whiney voices would have reached a crescendo in 1940 when Churchill took over from that revolting appeaser Chamberlain (a pre-Saddam Saddamite) because Churchill believed in God. And these Saddamites claim to be context-keepers!! *That* pisses me off!



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Post 6

Monday, January 10, 2005 - 2:20pmSanction this postReply
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I'm not going to revisit all the arguments pro and con here.  But I continue to reject all of the arguments (including those proposed by Hitchens) for war in Iraq.  Let me only suggest to Cameron that when he writes his essay, which I look forward to reading, that he take a good look at the fine work being done by Jonathan Rick---which is being published here on SOLO, but which is also available at Jon's website.  It is a shame that Jon's essays have elicited so few comments up to this point.

Jon Rick is concerned with examining the case for war, based on the evidence at hand before the war actually began.  This is not a question of "Monday morning quarterbacking."  Jon finds that based on the evidence at hand prior to the war, Saddam's collaboration with Al Qaeda, both with respect to 9/11 and otherwise, was nonexistent and thin, that his collaboration with non-Al Qaeda terrorists was relatively trivial, and that he was deterrable.  I encourage you, Cameron, to look at Jon's series of articles (indexed here), in formulating your own essay. 

One final comment:  I know that there are people who are "antiwar."  But I do not recognize that as my position or the position of most of my fellow travelers who were opposed to the Iraq war, which has not, in my opinion, aided the war against the Al Qaeda forces that destroyed American lives and property on 9/11.  There is a war going on.  And my support for military action against Al Qaeda does not involve any denial of the principles outlined by Lindsay:  I do not believe that America's past mistakes require inaction.  I do not believe that America's present un-libertarian status requires inaction. 

But I do believe that there are various ways of engaging in correct action in the larger war against fundamentalist Islamic terrorism.  My opposition to the invasion and occupation of Iraq was based on my view that it was not in the interests of the U.S., in the context of that larger war.  Prior to the Iraq war, I never assumed that Saddam Hussein was anything less than vicious or that he was anything less than a real threat; I simply assumed---correctly, I believe---that his threat was entirely deterrable, without the need for US invasion and occupation. 

In the wake of the US invasion and occupation, however, the ugly heads of tribalism and theocracy have multiplied like the Hydra of ancient mythology.  I will be interested to see what the advocates of the Iraq war will say if an all-out civil war comes to Iraq, or if an Islamic theocracy is established in alliance with Iran.   And, I'm sorry to say, there is no guarantee that the war in Iraq has done anything to deter the return of the war to American soil. 




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Post 7

Monday, January 10, 2005 - 4:17pmSanction this postReply
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Let me just address this point by Linz: "Sight unseen, a free country has the right - but not the duty - to liberate a slave-pen. The Saddamites' blatantly dishonest retort to that was, in effect, that I was - or ought to be - arguing that America had the *duty* to liberate *every* slave pen...." This is ambiguous--"a free country" can mean many things, including its government, its citizens, its military. The citizens of a free (or indeed any) country have the right to come to the aid of the enslaved and oppressed anywhere. But their government and military already have a job--namely, defending them. So they may not. (And please do not intimate that my response is anything like that of the Saddamites'.)
(Edited by Machan on 1/10, 4:18pm)




Post 8

Monday, January 10, 2005 - 5:14pmSanction this postReply
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Tibor - The formulation re a free country & a slave pen was not mine, but Ayn Rand's. And she sure as hell didn't mean the citizens of a free country privately liberating a slave pen - she meant the government & military. That's what I mean too. Now, whether such a government *chooses* to liberate a particular slave pen is over to it, but there's no question that the US government at the time believed Saddam was an imminent threat, & that his own behaviour was that of someone who *was* a threat trying to cover it up. As I've said repeatedly, he wasn't entitled to the benefit of a single doubt for a single second. LET SOME GUTLESS SADDAMITE STEP UP & SAY HE WAS!!!!!!!!

And the argument that the US should have simply gone on containing him is temporising rubbish. If he had the types of weapons they thought he had, "containment" wasn't going to stop him. Nor *would* it have, eventually.

Funny thing, the Saddamites' using the current carnage to bolster their non-arguments against liberation ... had Al Qaeda, Iraqi Saddamites & sundry other loony tunes not begun perpetrating an insurgency, their fellow-travellers among western "intellectuals" would probably have slunk away quietly, ashamed & embarrassed that the liberation they opposed had proceeded so smoothly. Now that there *is* an insurgency, whose fault is it? Why, America's of course! No suggestion that those barbarians might be responsible. Low-life bastards! Fair weather friends of freedom, happy to exercise it while stabbing in the back the boys & girls on the battlefield defending it. Despicable.

Linz

Off to the gym to work out on a punching bag.



Post 9

Monday, January 10, 2005 - 5:21pmSanction this postReply
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Tibor says: This is ambiguous--"a free country" can mean many things, including its government, its citizens, its military.

It can be ambiguous, except that it is certainly NOT ambiguous within the context of the example Linz gave; the United States of America vs. Saddam's Iraq - absolutely no ambiguity there.

Tibor then says: But their government and military already have a job--namely, defending them. So they may not.

True - fortunately, the case of Iraq is clearly a case of a government taking a pre-emptive defensive measure, the reasoning for which Linz pointed out in his points number 2 & 3. Our military was more than properly employed in the defense of our nation and its interest. So this statement also does not apply to anything Linz said.

George

PS: Lindsay, please stop laughing at me, I realize that you just caught me in the act of defending you - do NOT rub it in.

(Edited by George W. Cordero on 1/10, 5:22pm)




Post 10

Monday, January 10, 2005 - 5:30pmSanction this postReply
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First, thanks Chris for the plug. (Since my thesis isn't due until April, you can view updates at http://students.hamilton.edu/2005/jrick/thesis.htm.)

 

Cameron: I agree that Hitchens--like Tom Friedman and Paul Berman, I would add--"is the kind of leftist I admire considerably and that the world needs more of." In fact, one of the first books I read this summer for my research was A Long Short War, and it too persuaded me.

 

Hitchens is most persuasive in arguing for Iraqi-Qaeda collaboration outside of 9/11. For instance, referring to Saddam's allowing Zarqawi to receive medical treatment in Baghdad, allegedly a leg amputation, after we routed him from Afghanistan, he argues, “[N]o Baathist official would make such a safe-haven decision without referring it to the Leader" (79). Or, as Donald Rumsfeld put it, “In a vicious, repressive dictatorship that exercises near-total control over its population, it’s very hard to imagine that the government is not aware of what’s taking place in the country.”

 

In a recent Slate column, Hitchens elaborates: “To believe that Zarqawi was innocent of Al Qaeda and Baathist ties, or to believe that he does not in fact represent such a tie, you must believe (1) that a low-level Iraqi official decided to admit a much-hunted Jordanian—a refugee from the invasion of Afghanistan, after September 11, 2001—when even the most conservative forces in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia were keeping their distance from such people and even assisting in rounding them up; (2) that this newly admitted immigrant felt that the most pressing need of the holy war was the assassination of Kurdish leaders opposed to the rule of Saddam Hussein; and (3) that a recently arrived Jordanian, in a totally controlled police state, was so enterprising as to swiftly put himself in possession of maps, city diagrams, large sums of cash, and a group of heavily armed fighters hitherto named after the Iraqi dictator—the Fedayeen Saddam.

 

You'll have to wait for my response, since while I've finished my section on Iraqi-Qaeda 9/11 collaboration, I'm still working on their non-9/11 relationship. But briefly, I'll say this: The road from Baghdad to Kabul by any account was oblique; it resembled dots more than solid lines. As C.I.A. Director George Tenet acknowledged in his 10/02 letter to the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee: “Our understanding of the relationship . . . is evolving and is based on sources of varying reliability.” The top secret 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (N.I.E.) similarly cautioned that the pertinent intelligence was largely circumstantial. The reason was that the prevailing evidence came not from spies, the field’s gold standard, but from defectors and exiles. Foremost among such people, the Iraqi National Congress, a London-based umbrella group of anti-Saddam activists, gushed with grandiose but uncorroborated allegations. Indeed, as one op-ed writer scoffed, Ahmad Chalabi, the I.N.C.’s and a darling of leading American neoconservatives, left Iraq the same year as the Dodgers left Brooklyn.


Linz: "I doubt that Hitchens' hatred for Saddam & Saddamites would equal mine, but I'm glad someone's comes close." This is silly to debate, but it's worth noting that Hitchens cancelled his long-standing column with the Nation due to the magazine's opposition to the war, and that Hitchens has many Kurdish friends, who were intimately aware of the thirty-year nightware that was Iraq under Saddam.

 

Now, for the more important issue: "*Not* that Iraq could necessarily, itself, unleash WMD on America, but would give WMD to terrorists who *would* unleash them. The Saddamites had no answer to this, but refused to budge nonetheless."

 

With all due respect--and since I know you appreciate KASS--because you're unaware of the answers doesn't mean they don't exist. The 2002 N.I.E. indicated that if Saddam ever struck American targets, he would likely rely on his own operatives rather than outsource. Consider the Palestinians, his cause célèbre. The news regularly aired stories about Saddam’s payments to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers for the deeds of their “martyred” kin. If Saddam were willing to collaborate with Palestinian terrorists this blatantly, wouldn’t he do the same—or worse—with Al Qaeda terrorists?

 

History suggests not. Saddam received great utility, at negligible cost, from publicly awarding those checks. It was a creative way to swashbuckle onto the world stage, to present himself as spitting in the face of the invincible “Zionists,” thereby gaining him prestige on the Arab street and moving himself closer to realizing his dream as uniter and overload of the Arab world. His goal was symbolic, not strategic.

 

It is also difficult to believe that once he attained a nuclear weapon, Saddam would then fork over what he had spent billions of dollars on and worked decades for. Just as the U.S. did not share all its nuclear expertise with its allies, so the Soviet Union balked at giving nukes to China despite repeated Chinese requests and ideological sympathies. A handoff of conventional weapons, as with biological or chemical ones, would have been likelier, but still unlikely, since despite his longstanding collaboration with Palestinians—who reciprocated rhetorically in spades for their avuncular hero—Saddam never once gave them anything from his longstanding and vast arsenal. Even less likely was he to have smuggled weaponry to Qaeda operatives, who were determined ultimately to topple secular regimes like his and who might well turn on him. To trust an outsider with such responsibility would have been uncharacteristic for a Stalanist paranoid.

 

Moreover, in the event of a future attack against America, Saddam had every reason to believe—whether he was involved or not—that, at a minimum, he would be a top suspect and a target of the subsequent investigation. Given the Bush administration’s zealous pursuit of casus belli against Iraq, he would likely suffer guilt by association.

(Edited by Jonathan Rick on 1/10, 5:34pm)




Post 11

Monday, January 10, 2005 - 10:04pmSanction this postReply
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In response to the post by Jon above, I'm wondering what part of "Saddam was not entitled to the benefit of any doubt" he doesn't understand. I'm also feeling less than amused at having been used. I was assured there was no agenda behind Jon's request to post his thesis, re the advisability or lack of it of the liberation. Now I can see there *was* an agenda, with the usual suspects weighing in. They'd better know that I'm not gonna be a soft touch again.

Linz



Post 12

Tuesday, January 11, 2005 - 12:03amSanction this postReply
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I just saw Hitchens give a speech at a Wednesday Morning Club event in Los Angeles last week. He gave a great speech -- about his newly released book, "Love, Poverty & War" -- and he is a first-class wit, despite his flaws. Somebody asked him about Barbara Streisand, and he recounted the story of how she once caught fire in his apartment. It was a Vanity Fair party to which she showed up uninvited, with a big fluffy dress that brushed up against the candles. "In retrospect I should've let her crackle a bit," he added.

By the way, Hitchens no longer considers himself a man of the left. Also, he has written the forward to Reason Magazine's new collection. After the speech, I asked him if his domestic political philosophy has developed along with his foreign policy philosophy. He said he simply hasn't had the time to put enough thought into it, being so occupied with the War on Terror, but that he definitely will in the future. He then said that he's always had a streak of libertarianism -- to which he is therefore instinctively sympathetic. Hopefully, he follows that with his mind when he reformulates his approach to domestic politics.

This is just FYI stuff re Hitchens.

Re the war, not having much time I will say only this. I have yet to see, from the antiwar crowd, a single reasonably convincing explanation as to why the current situation in Iraq -- with all these terrorists and Qaeda operatives flooding in -- does not prove that Iraq was a vital front in the War on Terror, and why it does not prove that we are fighting this war on the enemy's streets rather than our own. Surely, if Iraq was so meaningless to the terrorists, they would've continued to focus their attention on attacking American soil instead of diverting that attention toward helping unimportant insurgents.

When the antiwar crowd argues that there wouldn't have been such a flood-in if the was no war, they don't seem to realize that they're only proving my point.

Alec    




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Post 13

Tuesday, January 11, 2005 - 12:26amSanction this postReply
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Once again, "a free country has the right - but not the duty - to liberate a slave-pen" is ambiguous or confused, if for no other reason than that countries have no rights, only individuals have. (That's Rand, also!) So perhaps "a free country has the right" derivatively--the citizens of a free country have such a right; or the legal administrators of it have it; or the military leaders do. In any case, the point is that governments are duty bound "to secure [our] rights," not to galavant about the globe securing the rights of others, however much those others are being assaulted. It is not that Sadam or any other dictator has the right not to be hit but that the government of a free society has the duty to protect the rights of its citizens who hired it for that purpose. As to whether Iraq qualified as an aggressor against the USA when it was invaded, I am not certain of this but, based on my having followed the relevant discussion at the time, by all reasonable accounts it doesn't appear to be the case; so the belief that it was was ill founded. 



Post 14

Tuesday, January 11, 2005 - 12:48amSanction this postReply
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The government of a free country, which derives its authority from the consent of the governed whose rights it is there to protect, does have the right - but not the duty - to overthrow other governments that routinely violate their citizens' rights & do not derive their authority from their citizens' consent, just as an individual has the right, but not the duty, to stop a murderer on the property next door. It becomes a *duty* if he has reason to believe the murderer will come to him & his family next.

I suggest the anti-liberation lot have a read of George Cordero's "What Will They Say About Us?"

I'm amazed at just who needs lessons in basics.

Linz



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Post 15

Tuesday, January 11, 2005 - 5:26amSanction this postReply
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In respose to Linz:

> I'm wondering what part of "Saddam was not entitled to the benefit of any doubt" he doesn't understand.

I never said he was entitled to the benefit of the doubt. I only explained why the evidence indicates that he was very unlikely to collaborate with Al Qaeda (unless in extremis).

> I'm also feeling less than amused at having been used. I was assured there was no agenda behind Jon's request to post his thesis, re the advisability or lack of it of the liberation. Now I can see there *was* an agenda, with the usual suspects weighing in. They'd better know that I'm not gonna be a soft touch again.

"Used" you--what are you talking about?! I e-mailed you a few weeks ago to ask if you'd post my thesis "on the Iraq war" so I could receive feedback. Your only stipulation was that if I opposed the war, I clarify that.

I suggest you (re?)read the summary (point 2) in http://solohq.com/Articles/Rick/A_Retroactive_Analysis_of_National_Security_Casus_Belli_for_the_Iraq_War_Part_1.shtml:

"I address Saddam’s collaboration with Al Qaeda and his deterrability, not the advisability of the war itself."

Nonetheless, as I'll explain in my conclusion, my arguments don't brand the war as injust; they only remove what I think was the most compelling casus belli. For instance, Salman Rushdie argued for liberating the Iraqis, Tom Friedman argued for democratizing Iraq, Charles Krauthammer argued that deterrence was too risky.

Again, my only "agenda" is feedback.

By "usual suspects" I suspect you mean Chris. Chris is a good friend but he had nothing to do with the posting of my thesis here. You were the only person involved.

In fact, in the run-up to the war, I argued many of the same points you do now via many e-mails with Chris.

> They'd better know that I'm not gonna be a soft touch again.

What does this mean: that instead of addressing my arguments you'll attack me? On 1/2, you said, "I myself made a mental note to print the whole thing out when it's complete & have a good quiet read when the opportunity avails itself. . . . [I]t's been evident that this would definitely merit undivided attention & leisurely study at an opportune time." Still with all due respect, I'm waiting...

(Edited by Jonathan Rick on 1/11, 5:42am)




Post 16

Tuesday, January 11, 2005 - 6:13amSanction this postReply
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Johnathan Rik says: Nonetheless, as I'll explain in my conclusion, my arguments don't brand the war as injust; they only remove what I think was the most compelling casus belli. 

This statement sounds somewhat disingenuous. The time and effort in writing an entire thesis that attempts to eliminate the, “most compelling casus belli” leads one to deduce certain motives on the part of the writer. By the way, from my reading of your thesis it was not an attempt to eliminate only the most compelling rationale, but to eliminate any rationale. In light of the thrust of your thesis, to say that, “my only agenda is feedback”, rings hollow.

I took the time to read all 6 parts of your thesis, and it is true that at no point do you state that the war was ‘unjust’, however assuming that one accepts the validity of your thesis, then only an imbecile could conclude that the war was in fact just. Your thesis condemns the war by implication; not explicitly – but implicitly.

Whatever ones position, pro or anti, let us at least have the courage to be honest about it.

George




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Post 17

Tuesday, January 11, 2005 - 6:41amSanction this postReply
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As is typical with this discussion, it can quickly degenerate.  But I should state upfront that if I am among the "usual suspects," I did not know that Jon was going to post any of his thesis-in-the-making at SOLO HQ.  I'd seen it posted to his personal website.  When I was informed of his posting at SOLO HQ, I assumed, correctly, that he was simply wanting to get some critical feedback on it.  Unfortunately, little feedback has been forthcoming, and, as Linz himself observes in one of Jon's threads:  "Jonathan - don't be disheartened. It's probably the wrong time of year to be posting a multi-part, heavily footnoted epic."

I would like to note one other thing.  In contrast to Cameron, who went from opposing the Iraq war to favoring it, Jon has gone from favoring it to opposing it---not on the grounds of its justice or injustice (who could argue, in the abstract, with the "justice" of destroying the regime of a tyrant?), but on the grounds that the reasons for the U.S. invasion were not compelling. 

I am a little tired of hearing that the pro-Iraq war advocates are "pro-liberation," implying of course that those of us who opposed the war are "pro-slavery."  Was I "pro-liberation" when I supported the US military action in Afghanistan?  "Liberation" was among the very last considerations on my list. And "liberation" should never be the first priority of US foreign policy.  First and foremost must be the need to defend the United States and, in this case, to strike back and devastate Al Qaeda, and its Taliban state supporters in Afghanistan.  It was Al Qaeda that was responsible for murdering my friends and colleagues on 9/11 in an attack not just on my homeland, but on my home.  I'd fight to the death to defend my own life, liberty, and property.  I'd fight, in other words, for my own "liberation," for my own "freedom."

As for the "flood-in" of insurgents in Iraq:  These insurgents are not all related to Al Qaeda.  The vast majority of them are Ba'athist and Sunni Muslims, radical Shi'ites, and other assorted tribes nourished from within Iraq itself.   And they are battling not only with US forces, but among themselves.  The US has stepped into a minefield of tribal and religious conflicts that go back ages, quite apart from the Al Qaeda network.

And it is not a question of Iraq being "meaningless."  I certainly never argued that it was meaningless; I just didn't believe that committing 150,000+ troops to that field of battle was a pressing concern, not when Al Qaeda was still firmly planted in the mountains between Pakistan and Afghanistan, and Bin Laden was still sending out his jihadic pronouncements via Al Jazeera.  And Bin Laden is still at large. 

And let's not kid ourselves:  We are not safer because some of these battles are being fought on foreign soil.  Here or abroad, the insurgents are killing Americans:   Over 1,350 at last count in Iraq, not to mention 30,000+ medical evacuations.  And let us not forget the "invisible casualties" as the psychological well-being of American men and women in uniform is being shattered day-in, day-out.  Yes, of course, I blame the insurgents for these deaths.  But American men and women would never have been put in that position if this administration had not been so hell-bent to commit them to this particular field of battle. 

The US should have focused attention on the nexus that attacked America on 9/11, rather than on creating a new, fertile ground for the creation of new insurgents---insurgents who were not in collaboration with Al Qaeda and who are now fighting another battle quite apart from the one mounted by Al Qaeda.  The goal should have been to wipe out Al Qaeda and to marginalize Islamic fundamentalist jihadists, not to step into a big pile of Iraqi dung to try to "nation-build" that country to "democracy" without any of the cultural prerequisites that such a political transformation would require.  How many more lives will be lost to this insanity?  And how many more American lives will be lost on American soil because of it, or because Al Qaeda has been allowed to re-group while the US military has been focused on Iraq?

Want to read a shattering account of "Why the West is Losing the War on Terror"?  Check out Michael Scheuer's (Anonymous's) Imperial Hubris.  I don't agree with all of it, but much of it is challenging.




Post 18

Tuesday, January 11, 2005 - 7:08amSanction this postReply
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George: Thanks for the critique (but why didn't you post anything specific on the various forums?)

First, no one really argued for war on the basis of one reason alone; it was always, as President Bush, because Iraq gathered the most serious dangers of our age in one place (I can't find the quote at the moment).

As I write in my introduction: "If you wanted to justify the Iraq war two years ago, you had your pick of reasons. Saddam Hussein had unremittingly brutalized the Iraqis since 1979, sprayed poison gas on his enemies, foreign and domestic, and waged a near genocidal campaign against the Kurds -- whom the U.S. had left to twist in the desert after the Gulf War. By continually harassing and eventually ejecting international weapons inspectors in 1998, he had violated the 1991 ceasefire he signed with the U.S., as well as U.N. resolution after resolution. With ten percent of the world’s oil reserves, and 600 miles from Riydah’s twenty-five percent, he sat astride the chokepoint of the global economy. He had invaded Iran in 1980, raped Kuwait in 1990, fired missiles at Saudi Arabia and Israel in 1991, and shot at U.S. and British aircraft in the no-fly zone since 1992. He also had a proven desire for nuclear weapons -- his progress on which the world drastically underestimated before the Gulf War -- untold petrodollars to buy them, scientists and engineers with the know-how to build them, and a peerless police state to conceal their progress and presence."

> The time and effort in writing an entire thesis that attempts to eliminate the, “most compelling casus belli” leads one to deduce certain motives on the part of the writer.

Deduce whatever you want. I'll let the words speak for themselves.

> from my reading of your thesis it was not an attempt to eliminate only the most compelling rationale, but to eliminate any rationale.
The three casus belli I address are Saddam's colloboration with Al Qaeda, with non-Qaeda terrorists, and his deterrability. I challenege you to find one place where I address any other rationale, like those above.

> Your thesis condemns the war by implication; not explicitly -- but implicitly.
Condemns in my opinion the best reasons. But, again, many have argued--sometimes persuasively--that liberating the Iraqis was reason enough, or that deterrence is too risky. Those are subjects for another thesis.

(Edited by Jonathan Rick on 1/11, 7:18am)




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Tuesday, January 11, 2005 - 8:25amSanction this postReply
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Machan said:

“Sorry, folks, I have never wavered from my stance that the US Government owes a defense to its citizens from serious threats and I am not at all convinced that Iraq posed a serious threat to the United States of America

 

I also want to add, in addition to Linz’s points, that the enemy is not merely Al Qaida, but it is all of fundamentalist statist ideology.  Up until recently nearly every majority Islam or Arab state was a oppressive theocracy or dictatorship.  With Turkey setting it’s sights on joining the EU, things are slowly changing.  Thanks primarily to America and the British, Afghanistan is free now of one of the most brutally oppressive regimes to have ever existed, and is now a western styled representative democracy.  But being that the main enemy is radical fundamentalist Islam (as if Al Qaida was the ONLY fundy Islamic group that wants to kill Americans) one must deal the worst blow against that ideology capable.  Those repressive statist and socialist regimes are breeding terrorists by the thousands, brainwashing their slaves into blaming their horrific poor conditions on the greedy west and strapping bombs to their bodies.  The root cause of terrorism is the oppressive governments that create and perpetuate the horrific conditions which nurture terrorist activities as nearly the only productive outlet these people are capable of finding.  Given that, the best blow against that type of government is a great example of western style democracy smack dab in the middle of the middle east.  A successful democracy which spell the end for the governments of Syria, Iran, and as such they have a vested interest in making sure it fails.  Iraq stands to be a shining beacon of hope in an arab sea of tyranny and oppression.  Saddham had no ‘right’ to be a dictator and had a clear track record of murderous insanity, controlled one of the worlds largest oil supplies, and had a clear track record of hatred for the west and for Isreal.  You do not wait for a threat to become *imminent* to act on it, that’s like waiting for a bullet to be fired before trying to stop the shooter.  Imminent means absolute and unavoidable. 

 

Another primary point of concern is the growing threat that advancing technology poses.  It used to be that state support was required to kill thousands of people, today a well motivated multimillionaire can do it, in the future an intelligent, well motivated, middle class person will be able to kill thousands.  The stand against the systems that breed this kind of murderous terrorism must be made now, as soon as possible, for every delay many more people will be killed. 

 

Michael Dickey

 

See

 

The Law of Accelerating Returns (http://www.kurzweilai.net/articles/art0134.html?printable=1)

 

Robert Wrights "A Real War On Terrorism" (http://slate.msn.com/?id=2070210&entry=2070211)

 

http://www.matus1976.com/politics/compelling_iraq_1.htm




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