[thechat] war phase 2

Ben Henick persist1 at io.com
Tue Nov 27 13:55:15 CST 2001

Gah!  I'm too much of a moderate here.  But I give a damn.  I'll do my
best to stay above the level of trolling...

>  > Is Iraq being forced to follow rules other countries don't have to follow?
>Yep.  Question for your thoughts.
>You have 2 children and one is a constant problem. Let's say
>that the problem one always horded cookies under her bed. Wouldn't
>you treat that one child differently (because of her history)
>and search her room more often than the other (sweet) child?

I find it really uncomfortable when people explain their view of
international politics to me using the US as a "parent" country and
other nations as "children."

It shows a paternalistic view of the world.

I agree with Erika's contention that Iraq's sovereignty is being grossly
violated.  Then again, Iraq has a pretty good track record for violating
the sovereignty of its neighbors.

Under the circumstances, why should anyone be offended when Iraq's
disregard for the fundamentals of international law contradicts the vested
interests of another nation-state?

As for the expreseed "paternalism" of the United States... um, we got the
UN going, and the League of Nations before that (though it could be
argued that without our participation neither organization would've been
thought of, much less chartered).  Certainly the number of conflicts the
U.S. government has mediated (the Russo-Japanese War being the earliest
example that comes to mind) compares reasonably with the number of
conflicts we've been overtly and covertly involved in?

There remains the fact that the United States has the world's largest
economy, its greatest share of research and development, and its strongest
armed forces.

That makes the U.S. as a state the leader in many respects, a fact that
the governments of lots of countries (say, the U.K.) have little
difficulty emphasizing.

& anyway,  policing and punishment doesn't address the root issues of
anything.  It is simply a reaction to the immediate situation.  Okay
in the short term, not effective (even counter-productive) in the
long term.

But given the stranglehold that Saddam Hussein (through the artifice of
the Ba'ath Party) has on political discourse in Iraq, it is for certain
that there will be no change until something proactive is done.  The world
knows what the consequences of lassitude will be:  more of the same if
we're lucky.

Not that I think the US really concerned about Iraq outside of how
Iraq affects US business interests.

...Excepting the fact that if they build viable WMD's they WILL use them
at the earliest opportunity - and the contributions of the state of Iraq
to terrorist organizations (which have been spelt out by PBS among
other mainstream media outlets with liberal constituencies) give us a clue
as to exactly how law-abiding its government might be...

>  What about here?
>  > http://www.deoxy.org/wc/wc-consp.htm
>Just another opinion.  Just because it's published on the web
>doesn't make it real.  But of course you knew that.

Right. OTOH, the piece is factually dense and provides references.

One could refute certain conclusions, put the information together
differently, or go back to the primary sources and try to find holes
or inaccuracies.  I find this document pretty interesting actually.

I'd love to see a good refutation... and if not, I'd like to see
something done to prevent these crimes from occurring again and again.

I for one have a question:  why the hell was a war fought there in the
first place, if in fact Iraq was not a threat to its neighbors?

Why, then, did the United States beat up on po' widdle Iwaq?  The
referenced URL suggests that the U.S. government hit below the belt in the
Persian Gulf War, but fails to prove that Iraq didn't have it coming.  To
me, this is nearly tantamount to stating that Saddam Hussein should've
been allowed to get away with it.

I'm just having issues with what seems to me to be logical
relativism.  Nukes are either okay or not.  There's no, "they're good
for us but not for you."

Paternalism, again.

Not even.

The United States and the other declared weapons states (prior to 1998)
including the Russian Republic/USSR have long since made it clear the
circumstances under which their arsenals would be put to use, namely if
they themselves are attacked with weapons of mass destruction.  Israel
has not, but their case is pretty straightforward... and while India and
Pakistan haven't made no-first-use declarations of which I'm aware, it is
still painfully clear who the intended targets of their bombs would be,
and the circumstances under which those bombs might be dropped.

Yet, despite the obvious connections, Saddam Hussein persists in
maintaining and advancing weapons development infrastructure.

Logically, this too points to the conclusion that he has every intention
of seeing these weapons used in a first strike of some kind.

You can argue effectively that it's more a question of prestige, but how
long would it last?  The "human wave" attacks of the Eighties suggest to
me that Iran, for one, would stop at nothing negate any strategic
advantage conferred upon Iraq if the latter ever went so far as to admit
its possession of viable NBC weapons...

>  > If it wasn't okay for Hitler, or for Saddam, why is it okay for us?
>>  Why do we so easily accept this relativistic thinking?
>Again with the "Hitler" & "Saddam" comparisons - yet with no answer
>to the question.  IMHO I think the scope & details of the problem(s)
>mentioned are different.

The Saddam question?  I don't know.  I'd like to hear Iraq's side of
the story.  But I have not heard it.  But there's a lot I haven't
heard about the Iraq situation.

Iraq's side of the story is trumpeted on a regular basis:  "we don't have
these weapons, inspectors have no business being in our country, etc.
etc." but the record bears out the fact that public pronouncments of the
Iraqi Foreign Ministry are to be taken with the utmost skepticism.

As for the whole "blitzkrieg is wrong" issue, I see it like this:  it
comes down to power, and no matter how you slice it, who should have it?
The state that has at least some accountability to its citizens and
neighbor states (the U.S.) or the state that denies that it should, to the
point of launching unprovoked wars at Machiavellian moments of opportunity

In any case, if Iraq is to be handled with force, is that not a
decision for the UN?  Or is the UN just obsolete?

Not obsolete; rather, impotent.  It is subject to the whims of blocs of
states that are no less subject to influence than, say, a United States
Senator; the debacle that was the Durban racism conference is a good
example.  Another one is the Korean War:  only because the Soviet
Ambassador walked out for a period of several months was the United States
able to send forces to Korea under the auspices of the U.N.

The U.N. demands consensus... and while "jaw, jaw, jaw is better than war,
war, war" the whole fact that rogue states exist underscores the necessity
of some state player to have the proverbial balls to take action should
events call for it.

And regarding my comparisons of the US with other past and present
"rogue states," we may well be in a different situation.  But I don't
know, because I've not seen a single in-depth analysis of the
situation in major media that does not take a "rah rah USA" point of

What about The Guardian, or the Moscow Times, or perhaps one of the
left-wing French or German papers?  (Komsomolskaya Pravda publishes
in English on the Web, perhaps they've tried - and they have an
excellent reputation for taking anti-American editorial stands.) Surely
there is an outlet that has conducted a critical analysis to which we
might have access.

I've not seen an in-depth asking of hard questions about our own
motives and actions.

I think that after Hitler was dead and gone, a lot of Germans sat
around in the rubble asking themselves how exactly they managed to
vote this guy into office and then allow him to do what he did.

Well, here we run into a problem:  "Joe Sixpack" knows as much about the
world outside his hometown (beyond the content of tightly packaged TV news
segments) as I know about working with recombinant DNA.

We've got a ways to go before those questions will be asked by the
American public at large.  Perhaps it WILL take another war crimes trial,
this time with Americans as defendants, before we ask those questions.

Well, sometimes I feel like I'm watching it all happen in front of my
eyes: how a democratic nation begins a gradual march toward

It starts with an averting of the eyes when the atrocities occur.

America is a different kind of place and culture than pre-war
Germany... but when you look at who wields power... those people are
not reflective of the population at large.

I agree, which is why I voted for Gore.

I do not feel comfortable with my government's activities at home or

In fact, I feel so uncomfortable, that even "publicly" criticizing my
government now gives me a twinge of fear.   For the first time in my

Give it time.  The saving grace of our system is that the very sheep-like
nature of the mob is in a way an Achilles' heel.  We learn unabashed
consumerism from the time we can comprehend the flicker of a TV set for
what it is... but we are also socialized to genuinely believe in the
ideals of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution (a practice
which was put to the test in the Sixties, which test was passed with
flying colors).

If the Gubmint f---s up, they will be found out... and once found out,
there will be hell to pay.  It could get ugly, but this "march toward
totalitarianism" does have a line it cannot cross IMO.

While our government is not representative of the electorate, the
stories told in "The X-Files" are hardly representative of the conduct of
daily life in the real world, either...

In the United States the "consent of the governed" is very real, and it is
not guaranteed.  Thus, my insistence that the Second Amendment to the
Constitution is a necessary evil (that, and the fact that if it's repealed
the criminals will simply find other ways to obtain weapons).

On related matters:

1.  I agree that many of the concerns of those in power are concerned
    entirely with economic advantage for its own sake.
2.  I agree that there's a lot that's being hidden from us.
3.  I agree that dissent is strongly discouraged, though the dislike
    for contrarians cuts both ways.
4.  I believe that John Ashcroft makes Steve Ballmer look like a
    f---in' Boy Scout.  As a resident of Missouri at the time Ashcroft
    was Governor, I do not state this idly.
5.  I believe that Iraq is far from blameless, but am afraid that
    people will have to die by the numbers - again - before the rest of
    the planet figures this out and consents to action.

Ben Henick
Web Author At-Large              Managing Editor
http://www.io.com/persist1/      http://www.digital-web.com/
persist1 at io.com                  bmh at digital-web.com
"Are you pondering what I'm pondering, Pinky?"
"I think so, Brain, but... (snort) no, no, it's too stupid."
"We will disguise ourselves as a cow."
"Oh!" (giggles) "That was it exactly!"

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