Wednesday, March 26, 2003
Thursday, March 20, 2003
Allons enfants de la patrie,
Le jour de gloire est arrivé!
Contre nous, de la tyrannie
L'étendard sanglant est levé
Questions have been raised as to whether the attack of the past 36 hours on Saddam's compounds is legal. The reason why this is pertinent is first, there is a ban going back to 1976, via executive order, on assassinating the leaders of foreign countries for political reasons. Furthermore, by the Geneva Convention, we are not allowed to go after civilians. We are also not allowed to go after heads of state without a formal declaration of war, something that we have not done here.
There are a number of ways to answer these arguments. First, clearly no court would ever convict Bush of a crime if he kills Saddam and the war is over. He will have spared many lives by simply getting rid of the criminal. This argument, however, is based on utilitarian reasons rather than positive law. I am inclined to accept it, but there is no procedural reason here for such an attack.
Slightly more satisfying, however, is that we can hardly call Hussein a civilian leader, like the American president is. Yes, the American president is the head of the military, but he is a civilian head. This is fairly explicit in Constitutional and Military Law. By contrast, Saddam is simply not a civilian. In last night's televised speech (whether it was him or not), he was dressed in a military uniform. Every time we go to war, George Bush doesn't all of a sudden put on fatigues and carry around a rifle. In essence, Hussein is a military leader. In fact, there is no way to tell. Iraq does not appear to have a constitution. The rule of law is whatever Saddam says is law and there are no procedures set up to determine who is a civilian and who is military personnel. They go around rounding up all men and make them into conscripts, sending them out into the battlefield after almost no training. What are they civilians or military? I would argue that they are more like civilians than Saddam is.
So, yes, our attacks on Hussein's person are legitimate both in terms of just war theory, and international military law.
Wednesday, March 19, 2003
Where exactly were Kerry and Daschle in 1998, when Clinton began
airstrikes against Saddam Hussein the moment his impeachment
proceedings started and didn't end them until the moment the
proceedings ended? Was Clinton not acting unilaterally then, with
contempt for the Security Council of the United Nations? Were his
motives not the least bit suspicious? The effect of the airstrikes, for
those keeping track, was to destroy the inspections process,
precipitating four years of unaccounted stockpiling in Iraq.
Where were Lady Clinton and Jimmy "International Incident" Carter when
Bubba lobbed cruise missiles at an aspirin factory in Sudan and the
wrong target in Pakistan, not only defying the UN but also defying the
advice of his intelligence agencies and all his military commanders, in
the process strengthening Osama bin Laden's hand?
There certainly are meaningful, substantive criticisms to be made of
this administration---and let's be thankful for Tony Blair's brave and
excellent performance of recent months---but the weasels of the DNC sold out
their credibility on questions of war and peace long ago, and it would
be a shame if anybody took them seriously.
Speaking of weasels, can anyone guess which large, unwashed,
philandering western European nation decided in 1994 to invade Rwanda
on the side of its clients, the Hutu mass-murderers? Which country
invades its perceived imperial fiefdoms in Africa without giving a
tinker's cuss to the UN in advance? Which detonates nuclear weapons in
the Pacific against the strong and understandable objections of
affected countries, say it again, without international approval? Which
country exploded the Rainbow Warrior in port because its sailors
boycotted the nuclear testing? Which nation's president had to run for
office in the first place to avoid going to prison on serious
corruption charges (well, that's Italy, too, but)---La belle France.
And lest there be any confusion, this is a country that has oscillated
since the 17th century between extreme corruption and aggressive,
chauvinistic expansionism---often enough, as demonstrated by the
Dreyfuss affair and Vichy, with a healthy dose of anti-Semitism. France
is a failed experiment in nationhood, has been since the days of Louis
XIV, and it ought either be carved up and absorbed by its neighbors or
split up into the tiny indepedent autonomies of the Middle Ages, pre-
Philip II Augustus.
... Or does he just play one on TV? In response to questions about the Maryland farmer who drove a tractor he claimed was packed with explosives into a D.C. pond protesting reduced tobacco subsidies, Ridge said that the fact that they didn't gun him down proves that the Homeland Security people care about human life. Umm... yes, if you consider Hitler to be the patron saint of Homeland Security. The soft bigotry of low expectations.
Tuesday, March 18, 2003
That was once a slogan of the left; its point is that war and aggression are essential qualities of fascism, and that no compromise or co-existence with it is possible, let alone desirable.
What a disgrace, then, that the argument of the "radicals," by which I mean the ungroomed mob that shows up for A.N.S.W.E.R. (a front for the Workers' World Party) rallies, is that the cause of world peace is served by protecting a fascist dictator and his totalitarian political structure.
Let me respond briefly to Gene, particularly points 1 and 5. He's far too lenient on the American officials that supported Saddam through the 1980s. (For bonus points, which baptist dove encouraged Saddam Hussein to invade Iran in a war that claimed more than a million lives for nothing at all? Why, Nobel Peace Prize recipient Jimmy "International Incident" Carter, of course.) The Reagan Administration, to its historical ignominy, supported both sides of the Iran-Iraq war simultaneously, a policy that is certainly a hideous mistake if not an outright crime. And it was US officials, Donald Rumsfeld conspicuous among them, who continued to lend recognition and sympathy to Saddam after the chemical genocide carried out in Kurdistan, with weapons at least in part provided (illegally, i.e., against the Foreign Assistance Act) by US intelligence services. There can be absolutely no defense of American defense of Saddam.
Some of us, however, understand what the true consequence of these crimes and blunders is: it doubles, or triples, or quadruples the American responsibility, which originally exists by virtue of American superpower hegemony, to remove Saddam and liberate the people of Iraq from his totalitarianism. And when the prisons of Iraq, the torture chambers and mass graves, not to mention stockpiles of genocidal weapons, are at last exposed to the light of day, Saddam's closest ally, Monsieur Chirac, will look even more of a fool than he does now, and will have ensured his country's diplomatic isolation for years if not decades.
Gene's got it basically right on points 2, 3, and 4, and though I could add something, I'll refrain for now. As for point 5, I continue to be baffled as to why the Bush administration would find it necessary to contrive evidence against Saddam. All the evidence they need actually exists. Did the Abu Nidal gang, which was nearly as notorious as al-Qaeda, and more successful by far in inflicting terror on both Israelis and Palestinians than any Fatah spawned group, not operate out of Baghdad? Indeed it did. Does Saddam not even now boast of his financing of suicide-massacre in Israel? Indeed he does. Are important bin-Ladenists not turning up, in, of all places, Iraq? Indeed they are. I could go further with this, and would if pressed, but anybody who can't recognize the Molotov-Ribbentropp agreement between Saddam and Osama probably never will.
With faith in secular ethics then, and relentless determination that liberal democracy be defended against all iterations of totalitarian ideology, on to Baghdad! And let fascism be swept away in the desert sand.
I would like to refute a number of arguments made by the peaceniks in the war debate.
1) It is hypocritical for us to now attack Saddam for weapons of mass destruction, since we helped him get those weapons in the late 80's.
He is being attacked because we believe that he possesses nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons, or has the capacity to develop these weapons in a short period of time, counter to UNSC Resolutions 678, 687 and 1441. It has never been alleged by anyone that we gave him nuclear weapons in the 80's. We gave him missiles, anti-aircraft weapons, anti-tank guns, etc. The French were the one supplying him with nuclear weapon capacity, by building for him, nuclear reactors. This is one reason they are so opposed to the war, lest we uncover their complicity in Saddam's hateful past. As for the morality of giving him weapons in general, I would agree that it would have been best if we had not done that. What we need to realize, however, is that at the time, Iran was a much more immediate threat to our interests due to their close ties with the Soviet Union, which was a world menace. Politics is the art of the possible, not the immediate implementation of utopia. At the time, our government made the calculation that it would have been better to aid Iraq than have Iraq be over-run by a Iran or a Soviet puppet state. I do not know if that judgement call was the correct one, but it is clearly within the realm of prudence. Even if it was a mistake to arm him then, it is not a mistake to disarm him now. Since he refuses to do so voluntarily, it ought be done by force. If the Left wants to start playing that game, let's talk about The Nation supporting Stalinism in the 30's and 40's, knowing full well what he was doing.
2) The War violates international law
This is false. Saddam is in violation of Resolutions 678 , 687, and 1441. No one disputes this. Bush had consulted lawyers at the UN several months ago about international law and the lawyers told them that he doesn't need a new UN resolution to attack Iraq since Saddam is in violation of previous UNSC resolutions which provided for military action if he refused to comply. And besides, according to the UN Charter, preemptive wars are indeed legal, if the danger is grave enough. Clearly anthrax, serin nerve gas, and suitcase nuke attacks present a grave danger to us and the rest of the world, as does sending money to Al Qaeda, an allegation that keeps coming back over and over again.
3) Israel is in violation of UN resolutions too and we don't attack them
Yes, but none of the resolutions Israel violates provide for military action to enforce them. As in, the resolutions that Iraq violates all say that if it violates them, military action will be used. None of the ones Israel violates provide that means of enforcement.
4) This is a war for oil, an industry with lots of ties to Bush
First, it would be just as easy for Bush and Blair to purchase oil from Iraq now. There's nothing Saddam would want more than to sell America his oil, since Iraq is so strapped for cash. Seymour Hersh, writing in the New Yorker, has accused Richard Perle, a hawk and former advisor to Bush, of conflict of interest in this war: that he had much to gain monetarily from a war with Iraq. Sure, that might be true. So? It seems, to me at least, that Bush and Blair would not put ALL of their political capital on the line as they have by deciding to go to war just to line the pockets of some wealthy oil men. Wouldn't it have been much easier to retain their political capital and just give their oil friends subsidies instead, which no one would likely notice if they were done as a rider on some obscure appropriations bill.
Even if oil and corporate interests are the reasons for why Bush is going to war, why is Blair behind it? There are not nor ever have been any allegations of Blair's ties to oil or the oil industry. Actually, opposition to -- not support for -- the war is over oil, since the French and Germans have substantial oil interests in Iraq. Essentially, they have been propping up Saddam's murderous regime by their oil contracts. They are the ones with blood on their hands. What Bush wants to do is not have America control the oil, but rather the Iraqi people control the oil and sell it to whoever they want to sell it to, rather than have an oppressive dictator make contracts with his biggest enabler states, France, Russia, and Germany to sell them oil for below-market prices and pocket the profits himself.
5) All of America's evidence of Saddam's wrongdoing has been discredited
That's just not true. There is still strong evidence that Al Qaeda and Iraq have ties. A Czech diplomat recently signed a sworn affidavit saying that September 11th hijacker Mohammed Attah and an Iraqi intelligence officer met in Prague two years ago. You can read about it here compliments of instapundit. Furthermore, it has not been denied by anyone that Iraq still possesses chemical and biological weapons. Why do you think that Iraqi soldiers have been seen training with protective suits on? Because Saddam has these weapons and is willing to use them.
America is on a brink of war. This will be a test of its greatness. So far, America has passed with flying colors. This is what the spineless French and Germans just do not realize. Those governments, and likely their subjects, have chosen cowardice for the sake of a short-term peace, rather than encountering a dangerous and evil man. It is dramatic flourish, not sterility, that marks great nations. It is encountering danger and rooting it out, being a model for the world, and as Reagan said, a city upon a hill, that marks great nations. It is not political relativism, isolationism, and cowardice. Clearly everyone wants peace in the end. No one wants war for the sake of war. But it has become clear that peaceful coexistence will not be possible with Mr. Hussein. Since 1990, his goal has been, and still remains, restoring Iraq to the greatness once enjoyed by the Messopotamian Empire. This means a unified, secular, Arab state under his control, the destruction of Israel, and the defeat of America. Like the Soviets, whose ideology required world-wide revolution, Hussein is a real threat to us and the rest of the world. Thankfully, we are finally ready to meet that threat. Onward and upward to Baghdad!
Sunday, March 16, 2003
The Rat, an alumna of the Yale Free Press has a blog of her own that has won many distinctions, among which is this. I would just like the world to know that The Rat got her start with the YFP. I always knew that writing for the YFP opens doors.
Saturday, March 15, 2003
An interesting article about the suspicions that the Bush Administration has been engendering from others in its War on Iraq. What I don't understand is why Bush has to invent stuff about Iraq when there is plenty of evidence of Saddam's evil and plenty of reasons to go to war. He really needs better advisors.