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August 16, 2004

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given that the term "ally" is now generally used in the post-modern meaning of "duplicitous obstructionist"...

Geez. Talk about preaching to the choir (and only the choir)...

But as the NewYork Times points out, "North Korea ... is now thought to be building nuclear weapons. At a time when negotiating a halt to that buildup is imperative, Washington has inexplicably granted Pyongyang something it has long coveted - a reduction in American troop levels - instead of building those reductions into a bargaining proposal requiring constructive North Korean moves in return."

Reducing our troop levels in Korea isn't going to change Korea's defensive structure much at all. The tripwire isn't needed, and that is what it always was.

"building those reductions into a bargaining proposal requiring constructive North Korean moves in return" is a negotiation fantasy. Negotiating with North Korea is almost binary. As such they will either allow a verifiable end to their nuclear program or not. We can't haggle a half-verifiable program with troop reductions. The negotiations won't go anywhere useful until China decides it is willing to become involved or until the US decides it can invade. We should have acted in the early 1990s before the North Koreans had nuclear weapons. Another wonderful triumph for the effectiveness of 'burying our head in the sand' international treaties.

As Phil Carter points out, this isn't news; this is public relations. This was first discussed over a year ago, and has been acknowledged policy since then. The only "news" is the President making a political speech about it. As Phil says:

Obviously, nothing will happen this year without some calculation of its election impact. This policy offers the Bush administration a chance to look like it's transforming the military by announcing a very big act of transformation -- even though this process started many years ago during the Bush I and Clinton administrations and even though it will take many years to complete. It's a very symbolic act, and it may make the Bush administration look "forward leaning" on the issue of defense transformation. As someone who follows these issues, I'm not sure it really is transformational. But it looks that way -- and perceptions count in politics.

I know I put in a close-blockquote.

Ah, you caught it. Sorry for stepping on your toes, Gary.

It has been discussed for years as a possible option. Until now it hasn't been an announced intention.

small point.

The freedom-hating Germans actually compensate us for a great deal of our expenses there.

another point.

I opened up my Apple homepage to see the headline: "Bush Bring Homes Troops to Defeat Osama."

Bush 1, Kerry 0.

Well. No pretense of balanced coverage there, at least.

It's funny to see Sebastian making the same argument liberal South Korean reconciliationists have been making for years. Oh, how empire broadens our horizons!

The goofily-stupid and obvious subtext of a Korean-pullout is that we've had those troops there for half a century... we're pulling them out now not because we didn't need them all along, but because a year and a half of inane imperial grandstanding in Iraq has left our military haplessly overstretched. Pulling troops out of Korea - most of which are already earmarked for Iraq - sends a strong message to Pyongyang: we couldn't stop you if we wanted to. We'll be waaaaay over here if you need us, thanks. Please don't build any more bombs while you're at it!

The utter inability of the Right to come up with sensible - or even coherent - national security policy while simultaneously posing as the bearers of Wartime Strength continues to astound me.

Fascinating. I've been advocating a pullout from South Korea for more than a decade and apparently I'm caving to imperial overstretch allegedly caused by a President who hasn't been in power 4 years.

For the record, Sebastian is right: the pullout makes plenty of sense.

For the record, Sebastian is right: the pullout makes plenty of sense.

Praktike coming to his senses. Oh, and is this political, you bet it is, everything between now and November is political, tis the season.

"Praktike coming to his senses"

I'm on record saying this is a good idea, dog. Check the Tacitus archives.

Looking at the 10:08 am post, doesn't sound like the praktike I know and respect. Then there was the 11:28 am post and hence my comment.

The 10:08 post happens to be accurate.

Sebastian --

given that the term "ally" is now generally used in the post-modern meaning of "duplicitous obstructionist",

At what point did certain conservatives and liberals fall out of the reality tree and begin to presume that "ally" means "agreement in all things," or that allies will be consistent from cause-to-cause. (I do realize that living in a bi-polar world for 50 years might create such an impression, but I honestly thought people were a bit smarter.) The British burnt Washington. The Japanese refused to open their markets in the 80s. Pakistan turned from our steadfast friend to our near-enemy -- a junior member of the axis of evil -- and then back to our ally after 9/11. Israel was spying on us not so long ago, and one of its operatives is currently serving a life sentence. Poland may be in Iraq, but they disagree with us on a whole host of other issues. France is still in Afghanistan, risking its sons in the hunt for bin Ladin. And let's not even touch our love-hate relationship with the Saudis and Egyptians.

Everyone, repeat after me: Nations are in it for their individual national interest. We should not feel shocked when they act in accordance with that national interest, just as they should not feel shocked when we act in our national interest. They have not betrayed us. We have not betrayed them. When our interests align with theirs, they will be our allies. When they can be bought, they will be our mercenaries. Stop expecting to be loved, and stop feeling spurned when you're not.*

von

*The reaction to the French by certain folks in the US (most of them, itseems, have a talk show on Fox News), continues to drive me up the walls. "The perfidious ne'erdowells! I can't believe that they would refuse to help us in Iraq after telling us that they would not help us in Iraq. When will their lies end???"

Well now praktike, now the Germans can take that investment and fund their own army.

Von, on the French and Iraq, UN Oil for Food Program just about says it all.

This is somewhat off topic, but since this has turned to a general debate on Europe and the U.N....guess who wrote this?

There is often too much dithering in the European Union and at the U.N. when action is needed. The shameful reluctance of the European Union to intervene forcefully in Bosnia in order to stop genocide is one such instance. The ultimate failure of the entire world community, including the United States, to stop the massacres in Rwanda is another example.

The U.N. does not seem to learn very fast.

The U.N. does not seem to learn very fast.

In Sudan, Africa's largest nation geographically, a terrible ethnic cleansing has been going on for more than a year in the western Darfur region where government sponsored Arabic speaking Sudanese militias have been systematically moving black Muslim Sudanese off their traditional lands. Over one million people have been displaced. Systematic rapes, burning women and children alive, and other forms of murder and intimidation are the preferred methods of the roving gangs called the Janjaweed. These gangs, supported sometimes directly by Sudanese government forces, are burning villages and sending their populations either to mass graves or, for the lucky ones, to foul refugee camps along the border with Chad.

This spring, the U.S. pushed a resolution through the U.N. Security Council threatening sanctions on Sudan for their disgraceful conduct. The already weak resolution was watered down at the request of a number of countries, including the Europeans.

Europeans cannot criticize the United States for waging war in Iraq if they are unwilling to exhibit the moral fiber to stop genocide by acting collectively and with decisiveness.

The answer may surprise you. (To be a fair, I cheated a bit--I quoted the paragraphs that would give the least away.)

the repeat of "The U.N. does not seem to learn very fast" is a typo on my part.

"Nations are in it for their individual national interest. We should not feel shocked when they act in accordance with that national interest, just as they should not feel shocked when we act in our national interest. They have not betrayed us. We have not betrayed them. When our interests align with theirs, they will be our allies."

Sure. But that doesn't use the word ally as it is typically used in the media. Always talk of 'ignoring' our allies. Worry about 'alienating' our allies. Kerry's incessant complaints that Bush does not 'engage' our allies. They are all using the word to mean something completely different than 'ally' in the way you use it.

And BTW, if the French and merely not helped us in Iraq that would have been one thing. People in the US were outraged both by the fact that they obstructed our action and by the way that they obstructed it.

"When our interests align with theirs, they will be our allies."

If our interests fail to align with theirs often enough that they feel the need to go out of their way to restrict us on a regular basis they would be properly labeled something other than ally.

"Europeans cannot criticize the United States for waging war in Iraq if they are unwilling to exhibit the moral fiber to stop genocide by acting collectively and with decisiveness."

He shouldn't be so silly. Of course Europeans can and will criticize the United States in Iraq even though they are unwilling to exhibit the moral fiber to stop genocide.

They will criticize the US for failing to stop genocide that they are unwilling to stop--see Rwanda.

"Von, on the French and Iraq, UN Oil for Food Program just about says it all."

interesting.

Pop quiz: why was the UN oil for food program started and who was on the committee charged with oversight?

Bonus points if you can name how many people died due to sanctions versus how many people died due under oil-for-food versus how many people Saddam killed with the revenues he diverted under oil-for-food to his weapons programs.

I think Rwanda was actually at least as much the U.S.'s fault as Europe, if not more so. Well, France may have been even worse than us...but we made it very clear that we would veto any security council resolution.

But we did a better job than they in Bosnia and Kosovo, and that's their backyard.

For those that don't feel like clicking the link: the writer is Howard Dean.

As for Bush, I am not especially concerned with him alienating Jacques Chirac. I am much more concerned with him alienating the populations of almost every country in Europe, including Ireland and England, as well as Canada.

Bonus Points, while over at Tac you are baking cookies (without raisins).

MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, U.S. Ambassador to the UN: It's a great day for the United States because we were the authors of Resolution 986, and we have made sure that the people of Iraq are assured of the proper provisions. But at the same time a very tight sanctions regime that has been imposed upon Iraq remains in place.

And while I would love to hang this on Madeleine, it was a compromise position as the French and the Russians wanted to end sanctions all together. To be fair, the Bush Admin before 9-11, sought changes to the program as well, more money but also more controls (a problemo with the French and Russians was one of many issues).

If I remember correctly the UN was talking about between 8-10,000 deaths a year in Iraq because of the sanctions.

Do I get a batch of cookies?

Yes, cookies for Timmy.

Here's the thing about oil-for-food.

Yes, Saddam was a bastard and it's all his fault, because the solution was fairly simple: stop lusting after $(*&%(*$)% weapons!!!

However, the U.S. and Britain were the ones who demanded the sanctions regime, and oil for food, for all its many flaws, saved lives. And as it happens, Saddam didn't have all that stuff we said he was buying with the kickbacks. Mostly he was just looting the treasury for himself and his fellow Tikritis and building the world's ugliest collection of palaces. If he did retain any WMD capacity, it was small.

TtWD, the possibility that the French are scum does not mean that we should be shocked that, after telling us that they do not support us in Iraq, they do not support us in Iraq. Their interests in the region are different than ours, and they've been telling us that for quite some time. For convenience, I'll address the remainder of your points (made and implied) in my response to Sebastian:

Sure. But that doesn't use the word ally as it is typically used in the media. Always talk of 'ignoring' our allies. Worry about 'alienating' our allies. Kerry's incessant complaints that Bush does not 'engage' our allies. They are all using the word to mean something completely different than 'ally' in the way you use it.

Yes and no. There are certain countries on which we are broadly allied on a wide range of strategic issues, but differ only on tactical. France would be in that category. (Yes, in the scheme of things, the War in Iraq and the Kyoto accords are tactical, not strategic, concerns.) It's fair to generally call the French, British, etc. our "allies," if we look only at the 30,000 foot level.

But I agree that the hand-wringing about going to war in Iraq without our allies is overblown --and that Kerry, for all his nuance, is hardly a nuanced thinker on the issue -- with one important exception. To the extent that the criticism is that we did not have sufficient allies (or mercenaries) to establish a secure and (mostly) democratic Iraq, the criticism is just. In this exception, not all countries are equal: The failure to include France or Germany as allies in this endeavor is far more important than whether Mauritias (or Poland, or Spain, or even Australian) were involved.

And BTW, if the French and merely not helped us in Iraq that would have been one thing. People in the US were outraged both by the fact that they obstructed our action and by the way that they obstructed it.

What, exactly, did you expect them to do? If I say I oppose your policy -- and we both agree that war, sanctions, blockades, and other "offensive" acts are off the table -- am I limited to mere words? Really, grow up. (Not directed to you or TtWD.)

If our interests fail to align with theirs often enough that they feel the need to go out of their way to restrict us on a regular basis they would be properly labeled something other than ally.

I agree, but see my discussion regarding tactical and strategic interests, above.

If he did retain any WMD capacity, it was small.

Time will tell.

Von, on the French and their tactical and strategic positions (btw so much about this conversation is deja vu only I believe you've changed your position, we could have moved the French) now where was I, yes the French and our treatment of them. Just a knock on the door, we will treat this mutually beneficial relationhship the same way the French do, we will with work you to our benefit and then we won't. The French will understand this, as it is so French.

Bonus points if you can name how many people died due to sanctions versus how many people died due under oil-for-food versus how many people Saddam killed with the revenues he diverted under oil-for-food to his weapons programs.

Ultra-mega-bonus-points if you can find evidence of massive, widespread corruption in the Oil-For-Food program that doesn't ultimately source to Chalabi and the INC.

[I'm actually serious here. Anyone got any? I've been trying to figure it out, but no dice.]

And BTW, if the French and merely not helped us in Iraq that would have been one thing. People in the US were outraged both by the fact that they obstructed our action and by the way that they obstructed it.

"The way they obstructed it"? What, by saying that they were planning to veto? That's it? That's what's got you so torqued?

In a bygone age, Timmy, "the way they obstructed it" would have included military intervention, threats on American interests and the spectre of war. Here the French, somewhat petulantly, just said that they didn't approve of the US' actions here and that the case against Saddam had been inadequately proven.

Worse yet? They were right.

Saddam didn't have the WMD we claimed*. He wasn't the threat to the region we claimed. Why we chose to bluff (or lie, depending on one's interpretation) instead of being honest will forever be beyond me. I think Chirac's an ass and I've been massively underwhelmed by French foreign policy since Versailles, but France was well within their rights to call us on this and, frankly, they did it reasonably gently; the public intent to veto was mitigated by the fact that we never actually made our case yet were trying to force the UN to go to war anyway.

After all... surely you wouldn't want those who were in the right to cower and cave before a bully's anger? Isn't such an act of defiance something to be lauded? Or is there perhaps a caveat in this principle that one is only right when one is aligned with the US's particular desire?

* To be more precise, we made claims about Saddam's WMD capabilities, and our knowledge of those capabilities, that were simply untrue. Even if it should transpire that Saddam really did have some of what was claimed, it does us no credit because we'll have been right only by accident. See Tenet's various admissions, the President's withdrawals, the intelligence commission &c.

"The goofily-stupid and obvious subtext of a Korean-pullout is that we've had those troops there for half a century... we're pulling them out now not because we didn't need them all along, but because a year and a half of inane imperial grandstanding in Iraq has left our military haplessly overstretched."

This isn't true. Or, rather, the facts are true, but your cause-and-effect, while logical, happens not to be true. You're engaging in post hoc, ergo propter hoc. As I pointed out, with cite to cites, this policy was informally announced in March of 2003, long before it was a sure thing in the minds of the Bush Administration that more troops would be needed in Iraq.

This really is a long-term strategy thing, not at all related to Iraq.

And, no, the amount of U.S. troops in South Korea has never, in the last forty years, been significant save politically. Not militarily. Only if we moved all ten divisions of the Army to South Korea would the number of troops make a military difference, in essence. Anything less is a tripwire. One brigade, three brigades: no dif millitarily.

btw so much about this conversation is deja vu only I believe you've changed your position, we could have moved the French

I admit it: Indeed, I did. I thought that the French were merely recalcitrent, but they turned out to be, well, French.

Just a knock on the door, we will treat this mutually beneficial relationhship the same way the French do, we will with work you to our benefit and then we won't. The French will understand this, as it is so French.

And American. And British. And Soviet. And Chinese. And... hell, is there any major power of which that's not true?

To be more precise, we made claims about Saddam's WMD capabilities, and our knowledge of those capabilities, that were simply untrue.

We did? I thought we were simply going on the available evidence, as required by the cease-fire agreement, that indicated Saddam hadn't destroyed all of his WMD capability as required by that agreement. Of course, I haven't the slightest idea what I'm talking about.

"I thought we were simply going on the available evidence, as required by the cease-fire agreement, that indicated Saddam hadn't destroyed all of his WMD capability as required by that agreement."

Sigh.

He has weapons of mass destruction. We know where they are. There is no doubt. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad. We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud [even though we know damn well he has no nuke program and now the IAEA has verified it].

We did? I thought we were simply going on the available evidence, as required by the cease-fire agreement, that indicated Saddam hadn't destroyed all of his WMD capability as required by that agreement.

That was part of it, yes. OTOH, Colin Powell's presentation to the UN consisted of claims that were either known (more or less contemporaneously) or have proven to be false. [See, e.g., the aluminium tubes, the vagaries of the translated tape, the knowledge about WMD facilities which, when subsequently inspected by UNSCOM, came up empty, and so forth.] Further, we may have officially fallen back to the position that we were "simply" enforcing 687 in our declaration of war, but that wasn't our actual position (consider the harping on Saddam's putative Al Qaeda connections in Bush's 2003 SOTU and the whole notion of self-defense vis a vis preemptive/preventative war) and I very much doubt we fooled anybody but the lawyers.

[As an aside, I don't recall us possessing evidence that Saddam hadn't destroyed his WMD capabilities. I recall a massive dearth of evidence to either prove or disprove his claims that the WMD capabilities had been destroyed, a very different scenario. UN Resolution 1441 does not, for example, cite possession (or even suspicion of possession) of WMD capabilities as a cause, only the failure to properly disclose. Bush's 2003 SOTU -- not a UN document, but an important piece of insight nonetheless -- also reiterates that "[Saddam's] given no evidence that he has destroyed them", not that he had, in fact, not destroyed them.]

As I said above: had the Bush Administration limited itself to what was known, we wouldn't be having this conversation. It's when they pushed beyond this that we got into trouble.

Added in proof: There are also serious (and, to my mind, damning) questions about the legality of our use of force in Iraq under that stated rationale, since a) the cease-fire was in fact a Security Council Resolution (Resolution 687, to be precise) and, as such, was not amenable to enforcement in the manner of a multilateral treaty, and b) "serious consequences" has never, to the best of my knowledge (or anyone else's that I've checked), translated into "mandate for the use of force without a subsequent resolution". But that's taking us too far afield, and besides, none of us are lawyers enough to do anything beyond imitate kiddies with nerfbats on this one.

Of course, I haven't the slightest idea what I'm talking about.

Yeah, you're a regular retard with the mental capacity of a crack pipe. Mind dropping the sarcastic flourishes?

Even if it should transpire that Saddam really did have some of what was claimed, it does us no credit because we'll have been right only by accident.

Hedging our bets, eh, probably not a bad tac to take. Right only by accident, I don't think so.

As for "serious consequences", English is such a flexible language rather marvelous if you ask me.

Von, a better mindset than the French is the English in the later stages of the 19th century with emphasize on flexibility regarding our self interests.

I was going to write what Anarch wrote to respond to Slart, but he did it first.

In short, Slart, the Administration asserted a lot of stuff that much of the intelligence community advised them wasn't so, such as the aluminum tubes being for centrifuges. I don't assert that they were deliberately deceptive, save of themselves, but it wasn't simply erroneous information, either. (Do remember that I supported the invasion, and still have feeble hopes it might turn out for the best.)

"As an aside, I don't recall us possessing evidence that Saddam hadn't destroyed his WMD capabilities."

We had negative evidence: the regime hadn't accounted for significant amounts of material they asserted they had destroyed, but they offered no credible proof. As you say, that's a somewhat different claim.

A major problem I still have with the alternative we-should-have-waited-and-inspected scenario is that I'm not sure that while Hussein remained in power we would ever have been able to have had inspections that would have conclusively proved a negative: that there were significant WMDs or ongoing programs.

Interesting Howard Dean Quote. Just goes to show the typical left-wing two-step: flip-flop, flip-flop.

First they don't want us in Iraq, for whatever reason, but they DO want us in Sudan (for the same reason).

Next, they don't want troops deployed overseas. So you tell them we're bringing some of them home. But, we can't do that! What about the North Koreans!

And the dance goes on.... flip-flp, flip-flop. Just say whatever it takes to get the sheep to elect you.

So, how has this blog degenerated into the tired old WMD debate?

LB,

Please do not ever refer to the American voting public as 'sheep' when visiting this weblog.

Thank you for your compliance in this matter.

Moe:

Sorry for the lack of clarification. I only meant to refer to those who vote for some one, who knowingly changes his/her platform to be elected, to whatever the popular opinion is.

I believe in principles: standing for what you belive regardless of its "popularity".

I believe the majority of the American voting public are admirable simply for being part of that group. I am hoping they pay attention to the real issues facing this country, and vote on their own principles.

I didn't mean to be inflammatory. You've got a good blog. To all involved, thanks for participating in the process.

Moe:

Sorry for the lack of clarification. I only meant to refer to those who vote for some one, who knowingly changes his/her platform to be elected, to whatever the popular opinion is.

I believe in principles: standing for what you belive regardless of its "popularity".

I believe the majority of the American voting public are admirable simply for being part of that group. I am hoping they pay attention to the real issues facing this country, and vote on their own principles.

I didn't mean to be inflammatory. You've got a good blog. To all involved, thanks for participating in the process.

There go those sheep again ... always willing to copy another comment, word for word.

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