BLIX RETURNS WEAK REPORT, GERMANY AND FRANCE FACE EXPOSURE
Blix has returned a report that praises a new spirit of cooperation in Iraq and emphasizes that no weapons of mass destruction have been found and asks for more time to inspect. Conventional wisdom would suggest that this undermines the U.S. position. I (and David Frum) would argue otherwise.
The strong anti-war position that Germany and France have taken cannot easily be backed away from at this point. They have argued so strenuously against war that in order to reverse course, they needed a strong report of Iraqi non-compliance from Blix. They didn’t get it.
The United States has already telegraphed the message that we are going to war regardless of what the UN decides. The President said as much in the State of the Union address, and even Powell’s message to the UN left little doubt. So we’re going to war.
Since the US is committed to war and since Blix has returned this weak report, Germany and France are left with two rather unattractive options.
Change their minds and support or at least acquiesce to the U.S. position.
This option would make everything that they have said up till now look like insincere anti-American bluster.
Maintain their position.
This would further damage their relations with the U.S., and consign their countries, the UN, and possibly even NATO to irrelevancy.
Neither of these outcomes would damage the United States that much. The UN has become less important to the US in recent years. The emergence of a global economy is of far greater importance in foreign policy matters than that group of musty old traffic violators in New York. The UN has value for failing countries because the organization magnifies their power artificially. How important is Syria to the world economy? Negligible. Yet that country wields veto power on the UN Security Council. What value does the UN have for the United States?
Well, I do believe that the US would like to have a UN resolution (further) authorizing war. This would silence much criticism and home and abroad, it would give Tony Blair much needed political cover.
Yet the US is convinced that war is necessary, and is therefore committed to fighting. So what are Germany and France going to do? Who knows. What they should do is swallow hard and resign themselves to the U.S. position. Failing to do so would be a slight that the US would not soon forget.
You ever wonder why the French are reluctant to acquiesce to the wishes of their friends, but always stand ready to surrender to the wishes of their enemies?
Tuesday, February 11, 2003
CROSS-BLOG IRAQ DEBATE
The author of The Truth Laid Bear weblog is sponsoring a debate between bloggers in favor of ending Saddam’s brutal regime, and those who would rather sit idly by waiting for Washington D.C. to be enveloped in a mushroom cloud.
How’s that for framing the debate? ;-)
The “pro-D.C. mushroom cloud” guys have offered the five questions that follow. My answers also follow.
1. Attacking Iraq has been publicly called a "pre-emption" of a threat from Saddam Hussein's regime, whose sins include launching regional wars of aggression. Do you think there is a clear and reliable difference between pre-emptive and aggressive warfare, and if so, what is it?
There is a difference between pre-emptive war and a war of aggression. Saddam’s war against Kuwait was a war of aggression. His purpose was not to defend his population or liberate the Kuwaiti people. It was a war of expansion.
We are about to fight a pre-emptive war against Iraq. Our purpose is to disarm a man who has a demonstrated appetite for weapons of mass destruction. He has shown he has no compunction against using these weapons. Although he does not share the fanatical beliefs of the terrorists, he has maintained ties with terrorists. What possible use would these terrorists be to Saddam except to serve as a delivery mechanism for some weapon of revenge? Our pre-emptive war is, therefore, a war of self defense.
Wars of aggression and pre-emption differ not only in the motives of those who wage them, but in the final result upon the country against which it was waged. Kuwait was to be another source of income for Saddam. It was a country to be looted. After our war against Iraq, we will help the country rebuild and form a government that will seek to serve its people rather than exploit them.
To fail to see this distinction is called moral equivalency. Moral equivalency sees good and evil as differing only in degree. Those who embrace moral equivalency see themselves as sophisticated – as if they are above the fray. I think they are willfully blind and are suffering from a complete lack of empathy. But it’s as simple as the golden rule. No person in their right mind prefers a kick to a kiss, so how is it that the moral equivalency crowd sees no difference between Saddam’s looting of Kuwait, and our pending liberation of Iraq?
2. What do you feel are the prospects that an invasion of Iraq will succeed in a) maintaining it as a stable entity and b) in turning it into a democracy? Are there any precedents in the past 50 years that influence your answer?
The prospects are good. Certainly any efforts we make on behalf of the Iraqis will be better than life under the current dictator.
As for precedents there is Japan, Germany, and now Afghanistan. These three countries have all benefited from having been conquered by the United States. In fact, I wonder if some struggling backwater country might catch on to this and attack us for this very purpose. Perhaps we should expect a sneak attack from France.
But seriously, the benefit of bringing civilization to Iraq will be enjoyed not just be the Iraqis, but will serve to improve the stability of the entire region, and then the entire world.
3. How successful do you think the military operations and "regime change" in Afghanistan have been in achieving their stated objectives? Does this example affect your feelings about war in Iraq in any way?
Our primary objective in attacking Afghanistan was to end the use of that country as a terrorist encampment. We have succeeded in that objective. Instead of plotting the destruction of another U.S. landmark, the few Al Qaeda soldiers left in Afghanistan spend most of their time simply trying to stay alive.
A secondary objective was to effect a regime change. The Taliban government is dead. The new government appears to be trying to improve the lives of its citizenry.
Afghanistan is still a deeply troubled nation. But anyone that fails to see the improvement in that country since the fall of the Taliban is simply not paying attention.
4. As a basis for war, the Bush Administration accuses Iraq of trying to acquire weapons of mass destruction (chemical, biological, nuclear), supporting terrorism, and brutalizing their own people. Since Iraq is not the only country engaged in these actions, under what circumstances should the US go to war with other such nations, in addition to going to war with Iraq?
September 11, 2001 was a wake-up call to our nation. We understand now that we must use every tool at our disposal to kill the cancer of terrorism. Not every evil can be addressed at the same time or in the same way. When we as a nation decided to defeat Hitler, we did not attempt to take all of Africa and Europe then next day. It was a huge task that was accomplished incrementally.
Why deal with Iraq now? Because Iraq poses the greatest danger. Ending that danger will reduce the risk to our country. It will also demoralize the enemy (Islamic terrorists) and encourage freedom-loving people within that region. The pacification of Iraq will allow us to handle more effectively the other problem nations in that region: Iran, Syria, and Saudi Arabia.
5. The Bush Administration has issued numerous allegations about the threat represented by Iraq, many of which have been criticized in some quarters as hearsay, speculation or misstatements. Which of the Administration's allegations do you feel stand up best to those criticisms?
Powell’s best argument was this: In order to save his regime, Saddam agreed to disarm after the Gulf War. The existence of weapons of mass destruction within Iraq was documented by the United Nations after that war. If Saddam no longer has those weapons, he could offer proof of their destruction. He has not done so.
The other arguments made by the Bush administration are also credible to all but those who hate America more than Saddam’s regime. But even the anti-American crowd cannot deny the existence of weapons of mass destruction within Iraq in violation of the U.N. peace agreement signed by Saddam so that he could stay in power. If agreements with the U.N. are to mean anything, Saddam must disarm or be deposed.
UPDATE: Charles Johnson over at Little Green Footballs has posted his answers to these questions. I particularly like the point he made in answering the first question that war against Iraq is not pre-emptive. Perhaps I should change my answer? Nah, just go read LGF. Whether this conflict is pre-emptive or not makes little difference really. The United States has a right to defend itself.
I would have written sooner, but my little "blood for oil" experiment left me stranded on the side of the highway. Maybe those pro-Saddam protesters have a point on that one.
Anyway, I mused last Wednesday about the possibility of Saddam faking his own death. Over the weekend he actually tried a more subtle form of this gambit. Instead of playing dead, he played friendly. He turned over some documents that initially were thought to be admissions regarding weapons of mass destruction, but now appear to be simply proposals for a framework to talk about weapons of mass destruction. He also agreed to allow U2 flights to continue, but is now saying that he can't guarantee their safety if the U.S. is still flying the northern and southern no-fly zones.
Apparently Saddam is now asserting that shooting at our planes is one of his rights within the U.N. resolutions. And, to be fair, the complete lack of concern the U.N. has shown over these incidents might have given him reason to believe this.
The purpose of Saddam's games is to divide world opinion. Really, its all he's got left.
The way the game works is simple. He gives something illusory to the appeasers (inspectors, documents, and someday maybe his "death"), they enter into a frenzy of delight and congratulate themselves for maintaining a dialog even in the face of pressure from the evil U.S. Meanwhile the U.S. is left to wonder if Saddam has put lead in Germany and France's water supply.
Of course Saddam wouldn't even bother with these games were it not for U.S. strength on the one hand, and the amoral "Saddam at all costs" policy that Germany and France have adopted on the other. Germany and France are willing to sacrifice the relevance of the U.N., and even the credibility of the NATO mutual defense agreement (their own national security!) over this one tin-horn dictator.