The Echo Chamber
Friday, March 21, 2003
  1:24 PM

European Whine

AP via Yahoo News today published a Danish columnist by the name of Algemeen Dagblad. This guy is just begging to be fisked:

In defiance of opposing views in his own country and everywhere else, Bush is religiously convinced war is the only remedy against the dictator of Baghdad.
Dagblad managed to write one word before he went wrong. According to Dictionary.com, “defiance” is “bold resistance to an opposing force or authority.” Frankly, it doesn't require much boldness on the President's behalf to resist a movement that is as marginal as the anti-war movement. He is not defying the dissent, the dissenters are defying him. Whether you like what he’s doing or not, objectively Bush is not being defiant, he’s being resolute.

I love the phrase “opposing views in his own country and everywhere else.” As if nobody anywhere thinks that regime-change in Iraq is a good idea. Never mind that 45 countries are helping the United States. And please ignore the liberation celebrations. Give me stability, even if it means tyranny! A slogan to stir the soul, oui?

Bush is “religiously convinced?” This implies that there’s no rational reason Bush could possibly have for picking on poor Saddam outside the reading of sheep entrails. I’m guessing he believes religious people should be excluded from politics – until Sharia is established that is.

The theatrical negotiations in the U.N. Security Council, sharply waged, appear in retrospect to have had little meaning.

It is disturbing that the U.N. only matters to Bush when it goes along with the plan-making in Washington, and is otherwise shoved aside as meaningless.

"Theatrical negotiations"? Not even France argued that Saddam had fully complied with the unanimously passed UN Resolution 1441. That resolution promised “serious consequences” (diplospeak for “military action”) if Saddam failed to fully comply. And yet it is the U.S. that is being duplicitous by insisting that the resolution mean what it says?
This arrogant attitude, more than the conflict over how to disarm Saddam, explains the distance in large parts of the globe and the division in Europe. But Washington doesn't feel responsible for the consequences.
Once again Dagblad chooses the wrong word. According to Dictionary.com “arrogance” means “that species of pride which consists in exorbitant claims of rank, dignity, estimation, or power, or which exalts the worth or importance of the person to an undue degree.”

I ask you, which country is guilty of "exorbitant claims of rank, estimation, or power" - the United States or France?

And no, the U.S. does not feel responsible for France stabbing us in the back. And most Americans are not particularly worried about the consequences of a falling out with old Europe. One wonders why France is so unconcerned about the consequences of angering the Unites States.

However sad this all is, it can't be seen as a big surprise. Ever since Bush became president after an unconvincing election result, he has been surrounded with advisers who can't be told anything by the outside world. The big question is what they will put on the agenda after Iraq: North Korea (news - web sites), Iran or other minor annoyances America wants to deal with.
Oh, I see. In order to be a legitimate head of state who should never be removed, Bush would have had to murder his way into power.

They understand the outside world exceedingly well. It is the outside world that has failed to understand the new reality. The U.S. is the sole superpower in the world. And September 11 changed everything.

Dagblad thinks that we intend to go to war with the entire world. Bush has already said that different problems will require different solutions. For example, we probably will not enter a shooting war with Iran. With a little help, Iran can be changed from within. Dagblad is correct about the order of the agenda, however: North Korea, Iran and then other lessor annoyances. 


  6:16 AM

Dagh Nielsen has discovered the true identity of Saddam's double! 


Thursday, March 20, 2003
  4:39 PM

Iraqi blogger Salam is still okay and is bunkered down in Baghdad. Go read


  10:52 AM

Is This Dude Saddam?

Saddam Hussein during television address

That’s the big question this morning.

Right now, there has yet to be a definitive answer. An almost doddering version of Saddam was seen on Iraqi television this morning. His coke bottle spectacles are causing some doubt.

Actually, I think the coke-bottle lenses and his reading off of that pad are evidence that this was Saddam. If he survived, Saddam would be shaken by this morning's attack. He might want to go on television before he's memorized a speech or set up a teleprompter. As for the glasses, vanity might be a secondary consideration right now.

I could be wrong of course. Maybe the glasses are there to help disguise the double.

Whether we got Saddam or not, I think the effort to kill senior Iraqi officials is commendable. Iraq is less likely to fight to the last man if Saddam is the first man. But loss of any senior Iraqi officials could lead to a collapse of the chain of command or even a coup. 


Wednesday, March 19, 2003
  11:16 AM

Multilateralism and Legitimacy

The good Professor Reynolds points to this article about American multilateralism.

Thirty countries are publicly aiding the U.S. liberation of Iraq – another 15 are helping but wish to remain anonymous. And yet Michael Moore and his ilk imagine (link contains profanity) our coming attack on Iraq an illegitimate action of an outlaw state.

So what if we were going strictly alone? What if Tony Blair hadn’t the moral courage to stand up to pressure within his own party? It’s not hard to imagine. Few politicians in any country, including this one, would have done what he’s done. What if the U.K. and Australian and all the rest had sat this one out? Would it still have been legal and legitimate for us to go to war?

That’s actually two different but closely related questions. First, a unilateral action on Iraq would have been legal. The U.N. charter allows individual and collective self-defense:

Article 51

Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security. Measures taken by Members in the exercise of this right of self-defence shall be immediately reported to the Security Council and shall not in any way affect the authority and responsibility of the Security Council under the present Charter to take at any time such action as it deems necessary in order to maintain or restore international peace and security.

“But we weren’t attacked” you say? Right, but Kuwait was attacked and we came to their defense 12 years ago – in a U.N. authorized act of collective self-defense. In exchange for a cease-fire at the end of Gulf War I, Saddam agreed to disarm.

After 12 years of Iraq dodging inspectors, the U.N. Security Council unanimously passed U.N. Resolution 1441. This was Saddam’s last chance to disarm or face “serious consequences” (MOAB should be nicknamed “Serious Consequences”). As soon as Saddam violated 1441, an attack on Iraq would have been legal. His false declaration in December would have been sufficient. Such an attack would be legal whether the U.S. went to war with a coalition or unilaterally.

Of course the U.S. has signaled it intends to ignore the requirement of Article 51 that we wait to be attacked before we defend ourselves, but that is a moot point here.

The issue of legitimacy is a fuzzier concept. It embraces the question of legality, but it also has some flavor of a popularity contest. If enough nations of sufficient importance decide they don’t like an action they tend to label it “illegitimate” regardless of its legality. You start hearing the French talk about the unilateralist cowboy Americans. If enough people believe this, that’s the way history tends to record it.

This is another reason it’s so important for us to be successful in this war. If we get bogged down in a protracted conflict, or if there are unacceptable losses (of either our troops or the Iraqi civilians), or Saddam and/or his sons somehow remains in power, or if weapons of mass destruction are not found - then the French version will become accepted history.

I don’t believe that there is much of a chance of any of those outcomes, however. This is going to be a relatively quick war – a week or two of intense fighting with a month or so of mop-up. There will be casualties, but they will be acceptable when the weapons of mass destruction and the stories of Saddam’s brutality are brought out. And France will be humiliated when the level of its duplicity is made known.

A last point: is it possible that anything the United States do be unilateral? We’re 50 states. I’m not just being cute here. The U.S. is one country, but many of our individual states would be powerful nations on their own – New York, California, Texas, Florida would all deserve to be permanent members on the U.N. Security Council were they individual countries. Together we are an economic powerhouse comparable to the entire E.U. And yet the E.U. has many votes at the U.N. If the E.U. ever decided to go to war, would anyone even think to call that war unilateral? Why should the U.S. be penalized because it got its act together before the E.U.?

This is a problem of representation that is similar to one that was solved at the formation of this country. Large states wanted representation in Congress to be based on population. The small states wanted representation in Congress to be based on statehood – that every state have the same number of Congressmen. They reached a brilliant compromise. Representation in the Senate is based on statehood. Representation in the House of Representatives is based on population.

Perhaps a similar compromise should be worked out at the formation of the next world body. And let’s face it, there should be entry requirements that should be met before a country is even extended the offer of membership. 


Tuesday, March 18, 2003
  11:22 AM

Here is a very disturbing report about a chapter of the MSA (Muslim Student Association):
Soda, Pizza and the Destruction of America
Please read the entire article. 


Monday, March 17, 2003
  10:51 AM

And so It's War...

...but not today.

"Bush to Issue Ultimatum in TV Address Tonight: President Expected to Say That Hussein Needs to Leave to Avoid War."
I would guess that we'll strike the evening of the deadline for Saddam to clear out (because Saddam's not clearing out). 


  10:18 AM

It’s Good to Have Friends

Since things began heating up in and around Iraq last year I have had little doubt that military intervention was strategically and morally correct. I have written the reasons for my certainty here at this blog. I’ve discussed these reasons with family and friends. I’ve read the arguments for and against the war across the blogosphere. I participated in N.Z. Bear’s cross-blog debate.

And the war protests must have gotten to me on some level because when I read this letter from a grateful Briton I got a lump in my throat.

I, James Black, a man born free of social or physical shackles and chains, who is able to travel around the world and visit other countries and who (directly because of the sacrifice of your nation) is able to converse, discuss, even argue with people from other nations, would like to apologize for mocking your president and your political system.

Your president may not be the sharpest knife in the cutlery set, but I now understand he and the good people of the United States operate not just from a high intellectual stance, but also from the heart -- a heart that knows the difference between good and evil. And importantly, your president was smart enough to have picked the best to sit with him at the world table.

I, whose friends, family and colleagues are allowed to set up home, take a job, even run for politician, in any part of the European Union (directly because of the sacrifice of your nation) without being rounded up because of their religion or shot on the spot for their place of birth would finally like to apologize for the biggest mistake the people of my continent have ever made -- their total lack of respect for the greatest friend they will ever have -- the United States of America….

Further, it is based on the fact that the people and leaders of the United States have the foresight to see the world, even life itself, is futile without someone to love, things to build and create, and things to look forward to -- and none of these things are possible in a world awash with nuclear, chemical and biological arms controlled by those who despise the life we lead.

I am one person, but there are millions like me who thank the USA and wish your nation and your people all the best over the next few months -- and will be there by your side when the times get tough.

---hat tip: Donald Sensing
The charge from the war protestors that bothers me the most is that Americans are warmongers. Nothing could be further from the truth. My country has always loved peace. We love peace so much that many of our wars, including this one, were started by enemies who mistook us for a nation of inconsequential playboys.

For example: Saturday night on Fox News the last U.S. ambassador to Iraq recounted his last meeting with Saddam in 1991. It was immediately after Saddam had taken Kuwait. Saddam had a deal that he wished to deliver directly the ambassador. It was this – if U.S. doesn’t interfere in Kuwait then we’ll sell you oil at a discount and we’ll keep the peace in the region. But if your country fights for Kuwait, you’ll not have the stomach for the 10,000 casualties that I’ll give you.

Well, not being France, we passed on that deal. And that’s instructive. We didn’t go looking for a fight with Saddam either then or now. But we were unwilling to appease evil in exchange for cheap oil.

The French have tired of the talk of “good and evil.” It’s a subject that they are uncomfortable with. And it’s no wonder considering their history of imperialism and torture on the one hand, and appeasement on the other.

I wonder exactly when France lost its soul. 19th Century French intellectuals admired our founding principals so much that they gave us the Statue of Liberty. Much has changed. As for when France changed, I suspect it wasn’t one event, but a death by a thousand cuts - their defeat in two world wars, their loss of empire, even the fading of French from the default diplomatic and commercial language to a tongue that rarely is used outside of France.

But anyway, it's good to have friends. It's good that there are some people outside of the United States who appreciate what my country has done for the world in the last 100 years. It's good because we have more to do. 


  8:41 AM

Suspect in Smart Abduction Still Considers Elizabeth His Wife

In other news France still considers itself to be a world power. 


Two neocons solving the world's problems

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