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October 01, 2004

Comments

From Reynolds

the Insta-Wife thought it was a smashing victory for Bush

I'd really love to hear someone defend that.

I literally felt embarrassed for the President. Watching parts of the debate with a friend from England, who was simply stunned we'd let someone so seemingly confused run the government, I kept thinking please ask him something he's prepared to answer...I can't stand watching him improvise.

Von, time for a full post on your condemnation of Kerry's use of the term "Global Test". Let's see if it passes the "ObWi Test". Considering we were never 'defending ourselves' from the get-go in Iraq, I agree with Kerry.

I think in the end the debate will energize DEMs (I'm a little more optimistic now then I was on Monday) and refocus the GOP press machine. I can't wait for the kooky "World Test" GOP ads on Sunday mornning.

The Bush handlers need to get him ready for St. Louis - he'll be at a disadvantage with the format.

Well, von, at least Kerry didn't talk about 'putting his daughters on a leash', which, as someone I read recently said, is not a very good figure of speech after Abu Ghraib.

and why is no one talking about Bush's mix-up of Saddam and Osama? He may have caught himself afterwards but it just looks again like our president thinks 'all them A-rabs is the same'. I noticed he was fairly on game until that blunder and it was downhill from there as it rattled him.

I'm voting for Kodos anyway.

Von, time for a full post on your condemnation of Kerry's use of the term "Global Test".

It's worthy of condemnation because it's unclear. What the heck is a global test? When is it applicable?

You seem to suggest a "global test" was applicable to Iraq; assume I agree: when isn't it applicable? When Iran gets the bomb and threatens to destroy Israel? When NK sends its troops into the DMZ?

I'm voting for Kodos anyway.

I dunno; Kang's college tuition tax credit makes a lot of sense . . . .

I'm a highly partisan Dem and I can't figure out what happened with Bush last night. It clearly appears Bush wasn't prepared for last night's debate--which is confusing since I know both campaigns underwent very serious and exhaustive preparation for the debate.

I'm certain Bush's handlers understand improvisation is not his strong suit. Yet, Bush repeatedly tried to wing it under a debate format which doesn't require either candidate to stray far from the script. As such, Bush should have been able to safely stay within his comfort zone and repeat his talking points as necessary.

Kerry was very good but, IMO, failed on several instances to exploit openings Bush provided. OTOH, Bush simply looked bad; it appeared he didn't want to be there.

I can only surmise Bush blew off his handlers' advice.

Yeah, we don't need no stinkin' "global test".

Hey towelhead, you lookin' at me funny? Take that!

I laughed out loud at this:

LEHRER: New question, Mr. President, two minutes. You have said there was a, quote, "miscalculation," of what the conditions would be in post-war Iraq. What was the miscalculation, and how did it happen?

BUSH: No, what I said was that, because we achieved such a rapid victory, more of the Saddam loyalists were around. I mean, we thought we'd whip more of them going in.

BUSH: But because Tommy Franks did such a great job in planning the operation, we moved rapidly, and a lot of the Baathists and Saddam loyalists laid down their arms and disappeared. I thought they would stay and fight, but they didn't.

And now we're fighting them now. And it's hard work. I understand how hard it is. I get the casualty reports every day. I see on the TV screens how hard it is. But it's necessary work.

And I'm optimistic. See, I think you can be realistic and optimistic at the same time. I'm optimistic we'll achieve -- I know we won't achieve if we send mixed signals. I know we're not going to achieve our objective if we send mixed signals to our troops, our friends, the Iraqi citizens.

We've got a plan in place. The plan says there will be elections in January, and there will be. The plan says we'll train Iraqi soldiers so they can do the hard work, and we are.

BUSH: And it's not only just America, but NATO is now helping, Jordan's helping train police, UAE is helping train police.

We've allocated $7 billion over the next months for reconstruction efforts. And we're making progress there.

And our alliance is strong. And as I just told you, there's going to be a summit of the Arab nations. Japan will be hosting a summit. We're making progress.

It is hard work. It is hard work to go from a tyranny to a democracy. It's hard work to go from a place where people get their hands cut off, or executed, to a place where people are free.

But it's necessary work. And a free Iraq is going to make this world a more peaceful place.

"Of course I know Osama bin Laden attacked us. I know that. Who told you I didn't know that? I know that. What makes you think I didn't know that? I'm not being defensive. You're the one being defensive. Why is it always the other person being defensive? Ever think about that? Why don't you think about that?"

Identify that cultural icon!

The Defensive Attorney

Without the frantic cigarette smoking, much is lost.

In context, "global test" is perfectly clear.

"No president, through all of American history, has ever ceded, and nor would I, the right to preempt in any way necessary to protect the United States of America. But if and when you do it, Jim, you have to do it in a way that passes the test, that passes the global test where your countrymen, your people understand fully why you're doing what you're doing and you can prove to the world that you did it for legitimate reasons."

It's only unclear if you abstract the two words from the whole debate and consider them in a vacuum.

I just finished reading the whole transcript. Okay, I'm biased, but I don't see how anyone could not call it a slam dunk for Kerry. Bush lost and kept on losing - his lies were pointless, easily contradicted. Kerry stayed on message and kept hammering out the points he wanted to make. From all accounts, Kerry won on the body language stakes, too - something I'm not sorry I missed seeing: I find Bush highly embarrassing on television.

Just in case you don't mind a little self-hype here, I actually said a good bit more about the debate on Tacitus than did Harley or Macallan. I insta-blogged the whole thing and plan to do it again for the remaining debates.

Global test?

In ordinary conversation he would have said 'smell' test, but he caught himself and substituted the first word that sounded suitable, but we all know what he meant, including the undecideds.

The GOP may try to re-cast global test as 'seeking UN permission' or whatever but that dog won't hunt. People know what he meant and can identify with his quick witted substitution to preserve the 'presidential' image.

Just in case you don't mind a little self-hype here

What, you new here? We're nothing if not all about self-hype!

thanks for the link.

Sorry, Trickster. I was trying to keep it fair and balanced, so I limited myself to Harley and Macallan. But your post was the most substantive.

As for Jes's comments on "global test": Adding context doesn't help. Prove to the world? Does that include Syria and Russia, or just France? What if China and India disagree -- that's over 2 billion people, if you count it by countrys -- but the 1 billion or so "Westerners" back us up?

Von: Adding context doesn't help. Prove to the world? Does that include Syria and Russia, or just France? What if China and India disagree -- that's over 2 billion people, if you count it by countrys -- but the 1 billion or so "Westerners" back us up?

I think you're confusing two parts of the sentence.

-"where your countrymen, your people understand fully why you're doing what you're doing"

A war that the country can get behind and agree with. Self-evidently, the Bush administration never even believed that was the case with Iraq - they never made an honest case for war with Iraq.

-"and you can prove to the world that you did it for legitimate reasons."

This is rather different from "get behind and agree with". Had there been stockpiled WMD to be found in Iraq, or better yet (from a legal-reason-for-invasion POV) a resurgent nuclear weapons program - had there been evidence supporting the big talk of the Bush administration prior to invasion, that would have proved to the world that the invasion of Iraq was done for legitimate reasons. Many countries would probably still not have agreed with the US invasion.

What Kerry was saying in context with the "global test" was that a pre-emptive war has got to be both legitimate in the eyes of the world (the US is a signatory to the UN Charter, which spells out pretty clearly the terms on which one country can lawfully invade another), and it's got to be clearly understood by the people of the US why the US is taking this step.

Yeah, we don't need no stinkin' "global test".

Hey towelhead, you lookin' at me funny? Take that!

Hmm, how shall I respond to Lightening's incisive rejoinder to my comment regarding Kerry "global test"? Why not just repeat it, and move on? Because, clearly, anyone who takes issue with Kerry's "global test" (whatever that is) must be a racist bully. Why even have the debate?

Lightening, thank you for saying all that needs to be said.

Global Test

The United States does not have moral carte blanche to invade any country we want at any time for any reason. We have signed on to international conventions in acknowledgement that our actions can impact others, that global opinion is a valid consideration, and that global opinion should act as a deterent against hasty unilateral actions. There's no gurantee that the POTUS will be a rational person.

None of this means we have to sit on our hands if there's a clear threat. That's a leap in logic that would make Evil Knievel envious.

It does mean that if the United States wishes to remain one of the "civilized" nations of the world, it will, as best it can, respect the international conventions and continue to use diplomacy to explain our intentions, seek understandings, and (here's a concept) listen to the concerns of other nations who are likely to be affected by our actions.

We are not the only nation on the freakin' planet.

All this "I'll never seek a permission slip to protect this nation" bravado nonsense would possibly be worth debating if any nation, any where in the world, was arguing that the United States should not defend itself against a clear and imminent threat. But no one is. The fact that miles of text are wasted on this subject drives me nuts.

Jes --

You're right to note that there are two parts of the so-called "global test," and right to think that it's the second part -- as should be self-evident the "global" part -- I find objectionable. You're wrong to think that I've conflated the two, but let's move on to your specific.

"Prove to the world that you did it for legitimate reasons." Put aside the amazing vagueness in the terms "prove," "world," and "legitimate reasons" (which I briefly touch on above, and you do not address). Consider only the following question: When must you have the proof that you acted with "legitimate reasons"? Prior to acting, or after acting?

Moreover, what makes you think that "proof" of WMD would have legitimized Iraq? France, Germany, et al. all acknowledged that Iraq almost certainly had WMD prior to the war, and yet the war was not legitimate in their eyes.

This is a muddy, confusing test that -- at best -- suggests that Kerry will fail to act decisively in he encounters opposition from "the world" (I think he means to say "Western Europe"), regardless of the rightness of his cause.

global test = having the full will of the country behind it. Jesurgislac is right, I believe Kerry meant global as in universal, meaning that any march to war needs to have the will of the american public behind.. but of course, in bush's black and white only world, global = cheese eating surrender monkey.

kerry won, and by a landslide. if this election is about the swing voters, most swingers came out saying that kerry changed their minds tonight. that's all he had to do. done deal.

I'd add to Edward's comment by saying international credibility is a cornerstone of our national security. Very little of our national security concerns overseas doesn't depend on the trust other nations place in the US.

As evidence, I'd offer the contrast in the amount of world support in the first Gulf War as opposed to what we have now. Yet, according to this appointed administration, the rationale to go to war was greater and more extreme: WMDs, Saddam and Al Qaeda working in concert.

World Test?

Perhaps the most telling remark by Kerry was the re-telling of the story about DeGaulle's comment that the 'word of the president of the United States was good enough for him' that is the test Kerry would strive to take and the test Bush and many in this administration would undoubtably fail.

"laughed out loud at this:

LEHRER: New question, Mr. President, two minutes. You have said there was a, quote, "miscalculation," of what the conditions would be in post-war Iraq. What was the miscalculation, and how did it happen?
BUSH: No, what I said was that, because we achieved such a rapid victory, more of the Saddam loyalists were around. I mean, we thought we'd whip more of them going in.

BUSH: But because Tommy Franks did such a great job in planning the operation, we moved rapidly, and a lot of the Baathists and Saddam loyalists laid down their arms and disappeared. I thought they would stay and fight, but they didn't.

And now we're fighting them now. And it's hard work. I understand how hard it is. I get the casualty reports every day. I see on the TV screens how hard it is. But it's necessary work."

Job interviewer: What's your greatest flaw?
Applicant: I'm too dedicated sometimes. I just give and give and give.

"Prove to the world that you did it for legitimate reasons." Put aside the amazing vagueness in the terms "prove," "world," and "legitimate reasons" (which I briefly touch on above, and you do not address).

In the context of a debate where you get to speak for 2 minutes? Yeah, I think Kerry should have used up his 2 minutes explaining the exact meaning of three words... I'm amazed that you think Kerry ought to have done so.

Consider only the following question: When must you have the proof that you acted with "legitimate reasons"? Prior to acting, or after acting?

There may be times when absolute proof can only be acquired after action. Looking at the illustration of the Iraq invasion, however, it's been clear from the start that the evidence that Bush & Co possessed on WMD was shaky, and they had no evidence for a resurgent nuclear weapons program. The action that was justified was to get the UN inspectors back in. If you're planning to do something clearly illegitimate - such as invading a country that, on the face of it, presents no threat to your own - you had better be able to present proof ASAP that your plans were legitimate all along.

Again, are you saying Kerry should have stopped in the middle of his 2 minutes (a large part of which he has already used up defining "prove," "world," and "legitimate reasons" for your benefit) and explained exactly when he thinks it would be justifiable to provide proof post-action, and when he thinks you must provide proof before you act?

Moreover, what makes you think that "proof" of WMD would have legitimized Iraq? France, Germany, et al. all acknowledged that Iraq almost certainly had WMD prior to the war, and yet the war was not legitimate in their eyes.

Actually, no. What France and Germany acknowledged was that Iraq might have WMD - they agreed that there was a case for more intensive inspections. The war was rightfully not legitimate in the eyes of the majority of the international community (not just France and Germany) because the inspections were cancelled in order that the US should invade.

Chirac's famously misquoted comment that he would veto any attempt to get a SC resolution to invade, was (as I recall) in context clearly vetoing any attack on Iraq based on the evidence available. (Interview with Chirac, March 16, 2003)

There was no legitimate case for invading Iraq based on the evidence that Bush & Co had. If Bush & Co's big talk of stockpiles and nuclear threats and al-Qaeda connections had been based on factual information rather than White House spin, they would have been able to prove to the world that the invasion was legitimate by providing evidence. They weren't, because it wasn't. That's clear to me, and beyond your insistence that Kerry ought to have spent his debate time providing definitions rather than arguments, I'm still not sure why it's not clear to you.

Kerry:

you can prove to the world that you did it for legitimate reasons."

Von: Consider only the following question: When must you have the proof that you acted with "legitimate reasons"? Prior to acting, or after acting?

As Kerry phrased it, the correct answer is "after acting," since he used the past tense. If he had said "prove to the world that you're doing it (or you plan to do it) for legitimate reasons", that would have been a legitimate reason to accuse him of requiring permission.

The shorter kenB on Kerry: You can gamble your crediblity on the facts on which preemption s based, but you'd better win.

I think this a fair summary of JFKs expressed view, and a fair standard.

Q: You have said there was a, quote, "miscalculation," of what the conditions would be in post-war Iraq. What was the miscalculation, and how did it happen?

Wow, his answer to this is totally off-topic. It almost reads as a defense of the "catastrophic success" comment, which is different than the miscalculation comment.

"What France and Germany acknowledged was that Iraq might have WMD - they agreed that there was a case for more intensive inspections. The war was rightfully not legitimate in the eyes of the majority of the international community (not just France and Germany) because the inspections were cancelled in order that the US should invade."

No, they acknowledged that he had them, there were questions about the extent of the programs.

Sebastian claimed: No, they acknowledged that he had them, there were questions about the extent of the programs.

There were serious questions from France and Germany, whether Iraq had anything justifying invasion. In this they were right: Iraq didn't.

CharleyCarp at 12:21 PM summarizes it best.

No there were serious questions from France and Germany about whether any level of obfuscation about the programs would justify invasion. Blix admitted that Saddam was not cooperating, but he wanted more time. Bush decided that 11 years of non-cooperation was plenty. The French were adamantaly against setting a compliance time-table.

They are doing the same thing in Iran. Delay, delay, delay then prepare for handwringing when the delay allowed enough time for the regime in power to go nuclear. You are also forgetting that France, Germany and Russia floated the idea of removing sanctions in January 2002. Containment at work right there. You also forget that the inspectors where only in Iraq because we floated a huge portion of the navy in the Middle East. They weren't there because of some brilliant French diplomatic manipulation.

You can gamble your crediblity on the facts on which preemption s based, but you'd better win.

And that's fine, CharlieCarp, Jes, and KenB, but for two problems: It's no standard for "when to pre-empt" and it's not what Kerry said.

On the first point: Uncertainty exists in the world; sometimes we will gamble and be wrong. Saying "if you gamble, be right" provides no guidance as to "when to gamble."

On the second: Although I appreciate your attempt to salvage Kerry's point, the standard of "Prove to the world that you did it for legitimate reasons" is still unusably ambiguous. Either it means what you say it means -- "guess, and be right" -- which is no standard at all but rather a hopeful bit of non-advice, or it means that you need to prove to the World's satisfaction (again, Kerry really means "Western Europe's satisfaction") that you've got the goods. I happen to think that Kerry intends the latter -- witness his cite to DeGaul -- because it has the benefit of actually being a standard one can apply. Not a very good standard, of course, but a standard nonetheless.

Von, if you're determined to find ambiguity, I guess you can find it anywhere.

Every time I hear about the value of inspections I recall an article from Die Ziet http://pages.prodigy.net/thomasn528/blog/2003_03_30_newsarcv.html#91854821”>translated here on Thomas Nephew’s site 4/2/03 that interviewed a number of those very inspectors. Could this war have been prevented? Yes, say some [inspectors]. But with a surprising argument: Germany, France and Russia made war unavoidable with their purported peace politics.

This article makes it clear to me that without escalating military pressure and support from the entire UNSC to use that pressure should Hussein fail to meet his obligations those inspections would fail. Once the environment in the UNSC turned against that support it was impossible for inspections to succeed.

Once the environment in the UNSC turned against that support it was impossible for inspections to succeed.

Yes... wouldn't it have been better if someone had been President then who wanted to keep the international community focussed on the task at hand? Rather than the cowboy determined to insult everyone?

Shoot, sorry for the busted link. Try this

Bernd Ulrich in Die Ziet said it better than I ever could. Many Europeans were already appeasers in the Cold War -- with good reason. If the war had turned hot, they would have been the first victims. Back then we were detente politicians, because we were the most threatened. Today, by contrast, we're appeaser of the Arab nations, because we feel ourselves the least threatened. That's not solidarity. One can calculate all kinds of things in Berlin or Paris -- but then one should abandon the transatlantic rhetoric.

Does that attitude square with the belief that anyone could have convinced them to focus on the task at hand, or does it say that we would never have had the type of support needed to apply enough pressure to drive proper inspections? I'd say the latter.

Crionna, the problem with this argument is that there is no evidence that the UN teams were not running proper inspections....

You mean besides the word of the inspectors themselves?

von -- OK, I'll bite and try to justify Kerry on this one. First, though, I think that the fact that he said this in a debate, on the fly, is important: he wasn't making a substantive policy proposal which he had the time to think out how best to explain, nor did he have the time to explain it thoroughly. That said:

First, note that Kerry glossed over the distinction between preemption and prevention. I imagine he did this because distinguishing the two would have taken up too much time, and seemed pedantic, and also because Bush has systematically confused them. As I understand it, preemptive war is war undertaken in response to an imminent threat, when there are no other means to counter that threat (or: none that you can have enough confidence in; the fact that you can say "well, prayer might work" is not enough to show that you have a non-military option.) Preventive war is war undertaken in response to a threat that is not imminent but, as Bush says, "gathering". It's the sort of war that hawks in the '50s urged us to declare on the USSR in response to their developing hydrogen bombs.

Now: standard doctrine holds that genuine preemption is and has always been a nation's right -- if, say, Canada were to begin massing its troops on our borders, we would not need to wait until they actually invaded before acting. But standard, pre-Bush doctrine also held that preventive war was not OK, and I think standard doctrine was right.

However, I also think about many rules in international relations that there are occasions on which one can break them. (Note for Sebastian: I am not talking about laws, which are a subset of rules, but about norms. And even if everyone doesn't uphold them, there are some that you should uphold, for the sake of your moral authority and credibility.) But when you break them, it had better be worth it, and you had better be right.

To pick an example from another area, I think that it is wrong for politicians to lie, and doubly wrong for the executive to lie to Congress, since in addition to being a lie, it undercuts the prerogatives of the Congress and the separation of powers. If memory serves, Jimmy Carter lied to Congress: right after he sent off the ill-fated rescue mission to Iran, he was (again, if I remember correctly) asked by Congress about this (e.g., when the helicopters were en route), and he said that no such mission was underway. And, again iirc, no one minded at all. Why? Because it was so obvious why he lied, that it was in pursuit of a genuinely good goal, that there was in fact a real possibility that if he had told the truth it would have leaked, and because the truth came out within hours. So he broke an important rule, but he did it in a way that everyone was inclined to accept as OK. (Whether or not they agreed with sending the rescue mission, etc.)

Now: I think it's good to have a rule (norm, etc.) against preventive war. We truly do not want any country to feel that whenever it detects, or think it detects, a "gathering threat", it can take military action. And we should not, in general, violate this rule: it's important to our credibility and our moral authority not to be thought to be invading other countries whenever we think that maybe, in the future, they might pose a threat to us. However, I also think this rule can be violated on occasion. For instance, I thought it was OK when the Israelis bombed the Osirak reactor in Iraq.

But, as before, when you break an important rule, it had better be important, and you had better be right. This means, for one thing, that it should be possible for other countries to look at what you did and say: whether or not we agree with what you did, this is clearly not just any old case. It doesn't amount to scrapping the rule; it's special. This is one important aspect of Carter's lie: you just can't look at it and think: well, clearly this is just the first move in an ongoing campaign of mendacity. It was a special case. Likewise with Osirak.

So it matters that other countries should think that there's a good reason for what you did, whether or not they would have responded as you did. Also, that the principle on which you acted should not apply to a whole range of cases (or: if in someone's hands it might be used more broadly, that nothing about what you did suggests that you might use it thus. Compare Carter: someone might use the principle "whenever American lives are at stake, I will lie" to cover just about anything, but Carter was clearly not that someone. Whatever you might think about other aspects of his presidency, dishonesty was not his besetting sin.)

Now: these conditions will always be met in cases of genuine preemption. When Canada is massing its troops on our border in a way that clearly suggests impending invasion, no one would think: well, if the US strikes first, who knows where it will end? The reason is clear; it doesn't generalize too far; it passes the test. The global test, if you will, though those would not have been my words. The test that ensures that you are not just scrapping an important rule, but making a rare exception.

According to me, at least, the word 'test' is understandable, but it would be wrong to think of it as something with clearly specifiable provisions. It's not a law or a rule; it's more like a standard for when you get to break a rule, and probably cannot be spelled out exactly. The best one can do is to say: when you break an important rule, you must do so in full appreciation of the seriousness of what you are doing, and of the fact that you have staked your credibility on its being the right thing to do. No one will hold it against you if you are wrong by a completely unpredictable fluke. They will hold it against you if they think you were wrong because you did not appreciate the enormous importance, in these cases in particular, of being right. I think it's clear that this is the test Bush's invasion failed.

Crionna, what we've got there (in the article you linked to) is a translation by a source plainly biased against the UN, from a source that would appear to be interested in scoring political points off Schroeder. The inside information about the UN inspectors opinions is interesting, but not authoritative given the tenuousness of the source. (I checked the article via BabelFish, and then via Google's automatic translation...)

I don't know, Crionna. If more info comes out about the UN inspectors inside views, we'll see. Meantime, it's worth noting that if Saddam Hussein was operating on a policy of massive concealment, it was (must have been) in order to conceal the fact that he didn't have nuclear weapons or WMD... since we now know for sure that he didn't. (The article linked to from the blog you linked to is dated "14/2003", which could be 1 April 2003, I suppose.)

"Likewise with Osirak."

Except it was not likewise with Osirak. The bombing of Osirak was widely condemned by all sorts of players in the international community. Especially France.

The same goes with your preemptive-Canada example. See Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Seven-Days War, and general griping TO THIS VERY DAY by people all over the globe about Israel's invasion culminating in taking control of the West Bank and Gaza.

"No one will hold it against you if you are wrong by a completely unpredictable fluke. They will hold it against you if they think you were wrong because you did not appreciate the enormous importance, in these cases in particular, of being right."

This isn't true either. The French argument was never that we were wrong about the weapons. The French argument in early 2002 was that containment could last forever with 100% accuracy (without inspections)--while at the same time they requested an end to sanctions. They didn't even agree to force inspections until Bush threatened war--a detail many forget.

Sebastian: "No one will hold it against you if you are wrong" -- wrong not about some specific fact, like whether Iraq had WMD, but about whether a given occasion was or was not the sort of extraordinary case in which a preventive war would be justified. The case for preventive war did not rely simply on the claim that Saddam had WMD -- which is, of course, why other countries who thought he did have WMD thought we were wrong to invade. They thought we were wrong to engage in preventive war on this occasion, even if Saddam had WMD, since there were other options (letting the inspections play out), and since even with WMD Saddam did not threaten the US. To go to war under these circumstances does not show an appreciation of the seriousness of breaking the norm against preventive war; and the way the Bush administration has conducted that war only underscores that basic lack of seriousness.

It's possible to make a mistake in good faith and keep credibility with those that disagreed with you.
It's not so possible when the "good faith" part isn't in the equation.

"Crionna, what we've got there (in the article you linked to) is a translation by a source plainly biased against the UN, from a source that would appear to be interested in scoring political points off Schroeder. The inside information about the UN inspectors opinions is interesting, but not authoritative given the tenuousness of the source."

Jesurgislac, why do you say this? Is the translation wrong? If so, just point out where it is wrong and why it is pertinent.

Hilzoy, "They thought we were wrong to engage in preventive war on this occasion, even if Saddam had WMD, since there were other options (letting the inspections play out), and since even with WMD Saddam did not threaten the US."

This wasn't the UN position in early 2002. The position of France, Germany and Russia at that point was that no further inspections were necessary and that sanctions were not needed. That isn't in line with taking US worries seriously. That isn't in line with taking non-proliferation ideas seriously. That is in line with not caring, even though they believed that Saddam had WMD. This is how the international community wanted to deal with Iraq. Iraq, a nation which had started a war against Iran 20 years before and had invaded Kuwait 10 years before. Iraq, a nation which in 1991 had almost completed a nuclear bomb program despite the fact that the IAEA believed 6 months before that Iraq qas 5-8 years away from gaining that capability. Iraq, a nation which used chemical weapons against Iran and its own people while the world watched on.

Sebastian: I was not trying to defend the European position on anything, just to explain what I thought the 'global test' might be.

A word about the "inspectors article" from its translator. At the time I thought it was a good deal more definitive than I do now. For one thing -- a small matter, a mere trifle -- it appears there was nothing to inspect *for*. Where were the WMD? Where were even WMD programs that passed the laugh test? Saddam appears to have been giving inspectors the runaround to maintain the useful fiction of a WMD threat, not the actual reality of one.

I'll grant (others may not) that couldn't be fully known at the time. But the second problem is that the European/UN reaction that encouraged him can't be separated from the American intransigence that sparked it. The French and Germans, for instance, were floating what now looks like a decent alternative plan in the runup to the war where their own troops led or participated in an armed reconnaissance of Iraq -- essentially offering for *us* to hold *their* coat while they went in and had a look. There may well have been a bunch of problems with that, but if there had been a serious give-and-not-just-take on the part of the Bush administration, the fact that a Security Council train wreck was obviously looming might/would not have been so obvious to Saddam, and he might have been prompted to be more truly cooperative with the inspections. Instead, Bush and Cheney pretended they were privy to definitive information that they were really -- to use a phrase Bush likes -- "just guessing" at. To my discredit, I believed they had the goods on Saddam.

I've since come to hilzoy's "you'd better be right" conclusion myself. Bush wasn't right. Two out of three pillars of his rationale for invading Iraq have proven wrong: no WMD-or-programs, no Al Qaeda connection. That leaves improving the lot of Iraqis and democratizing the country. But that has been so badly botched by Bush's own administration -- botched occupation, botched democratization, and the criminally, reprehensibly botched Abu Ghraib -- that it's not at all clear they were ever serious about that either. Meanwhile we've got pissed-off allies, and a growing, murderous foe where we didn't before.

Therefore Bush should be fired. Last night that became clearer to others, and maybe even to himself -- down there in his core, in his "heart of hearts." In my view it's as simple as that.

Crionna, what we've got there (in the article you linked to) is a translation by a source plainly biased against the UN

Mr. Jarvis didn't do the translation, Mr. Nephew did. The same Mr. Nephew that is out on the campaign trail for Senator Kerry. I couldn't find a post of his that was anti-UN.

Thank you for joining in Mr. Nephew. I appreciate your response in this thread.

The French and Germans, for instance, were floating what now looks like a decent alternative plan in the runup to the war where their own troops led or participated in an armed reconnaissance of Iraq

This I had not heard. Are there specifics available online?

Crud, does this remove the italics?

 

Von,

Hey, I am allowed to post stupid news on my blog :P

general griping TO THIS VERY DAY by people all over the globe about Israel's invasion culminating in taking control of the West Bank and Gaza.

If you're going to tar with that wide a brush, you could nevertheless distinguish between those who felt that Israel acted wrongly in its preemptive attack (a relatively small number) and those who felt that it acted, and continues to act, wrongly in annexing the West Bank and Gaza (a much larger number). There's a world of difference between the two positions.

Anarch,

There's a world of difference between the two positions.

Sure. The world liked Israel when it was weak. When it stood up for itself - all the sympathy was gone. Maybe I am dense, but perhaps you can explain this one to me. Israel annexed the West Bank in 1967. Jordan did not relinquish claim to west bank until 1988 and did not sign a peace treaty with Israel until 1994. Please explain the logic behind Israel ceding the West Bank prior to a peace agreement? Can you point out *any* similar event in history where a country that's at war with another just decides to give back a piece of strategic land? Any?

Stan
It seems to me Anarch was pointing out the support/opposition for two separate issues might be defined to better detail the "broadbrush" picture. You want to argue the issues rightness or wrongness.
A proper response if you would like to argue with him is to address his observation of the relative support of each issue.

If I point out that policemen beat suspects in my town will your response be to justify why they do? Or will you question whether they do beat suspects?

carsik,

I made 2 points in my post.

1) Sure. The world liked Israel when it was weak. When it stood up for itself - all the sympathy was gone

2)Please explain the logic behind Israel ceding the West Bank prior to a peace agreement? Can you point out *any* similar event in history where a country that's at war with another just decides to give back a piece of strategic land?

Holding on to a strategic piece of land during a state of war is a pre emptive action in itself, no?

carsick,

Hence, they are not really separate issues.

So you are arguing that the small number of people who felt one way about one action should not be indistinguishable from a larger number of people who have an opinion on another action because ... they aren't separate issues?
Your argument needs to be with all the people not the person observing their numbers.

A relatively small number of people were against the war in Afghanistan. A large number of people were against the war in Iraq.
Some people see both wars as a part of the "war on terror". Some people don't.
No matter. the numbers of people opposed to each action do not change.

carsick,

So you are arguing that the small number of people who felt one way about one action should not be indistinguishable from a larger number of people who have an opinion on another action because ... they aren't separate issues?


It seems to me that the larger number of people have joined the small number of people camp - thus becoming indistinguishable.

Again, holding on to a strategic piece of land during a state of war is a pre emptive action in itself, no?

stan
I have no desire to argue Israel's policy decisions.
Is a pre-emptive attack different from a "pre-emptive" occupation?
They may be for the same reason but they are two separate actions.

Is a pre-emptive attack different from a "pre-emptive" occupation?

Well, let's keep in mind that West Bank was annexed during the war that Jordan started. Anyway, my point is that the concept of holding on to strategic territory during the time of war is so basic, that anyone who refuses to see the rationale behind it has an agenda that's other then... rational.

Anyway, my point is that the concept of holding on to strategic territory during the time of war is so basic, that anyone who refuses to see the rationale behind it has an agenda that's other then... rational.

You can see the rationale behind Israel's occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and still be aware that the permanent colony settlements being built there are illegal.

Jes,

...and still be aware that the permanent colony settlements being built there are illegal.

Perhaps, but is that the sole beef of those who oppose Israel's occupation of the West Bank? In any case, since Jordan relinquish claims from West Bank in 1988, the illegality becomes a bit ambigious. I think Palestinians need to hurry up and get over their jihad BS.

Israel is in a curious position with its claims on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

So long as they remain the Occupied Territories, any permanent settlements built there are illegal, and Israel is in defiance of a number of UN resolutions. The use of military force to defend these settlements is a massive drain on the Israeli economy, which makes them extremely unpopular within Israel.

If Israel decides to claim the Occupied Territories as part of Israel, this would be lawful enough, I think (conquered territory becomes part of conquering nation) but then the several million Palestinians who live there either become Israeli citizens (which would effectively wipe out Israel's artificially-created and painstakingly-maintained Jewish majority) or else Israel becomes de jure what it already is de facto: an apartheid state.

Since 1967, no Israeli government has been prepared to face the consequences of claiming the Occupied Territories are truly Israel. Instead, there has been a steady and highly illegal (and costly in terms of human lives, as well as economically draining) process of claiming territory inside the Territories by building illegal settlements and settler-only roads. There has been steady progress down a road with no good end to it.

Well, we all now why some roads are "settler-only", so let's not play that apartheid card. Israeli Arabs have full rights. I am not saying that Israel will (or should) claim Judea or Samaria, I am just saying that its a bit muddy since it took Jordan so long to either relinquish claims/sign peace with Israel. I don't think that settlements will be a problem once Palestinian are really ready to sign peace, anyway.

Stan, I think you just managed to avoid every point I made. Congrats.

There are 1,324,991 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. There are 2,311,204 Palestinians in the West Bank.
There are 6,199,008 people in Israel, of whom 1 233 602 are Israeli Arabs.
(Figures from the CIA Factbook: the number of Israeli Arabs in Israel is a 1996 estimate.)

If Israel were to claim that the Gaza Strip and the West Bank are now part of Israel, and no longer the Occupied Territories, that would mean they would have 4869797 Israeli Arabs and 4965405 Israel Jews - or, put another way, from Israel being 80.1% Jewish and 19.9% Muslim/Christian, Israel would become 49.51% Muslim/Christian and 50.48% Jewish. Israel would cease to be the world's only majority-Jewish nation.

That's why Israeli governments have continued to build illegal settlements and settler-only roads in the Occupied Territories, rather than claiming that the Occupied Territories are part of Israel. Because they choose to defy international law, to accept the many deaths of Israelis, and to inflict massive suffering and so many more deaths on Palestinians, rather than cease to maintain their artificial Jewish majority or to become a de jure apartheid state.

Stan, I think you just managed to avoid every point I made. Congrats.

Huh? I said it pretty plainly:

I am not saying that Israel will (or should) claim Judea or Samaria, I am just saying that its a bit muddy since it took Jordan so long to either relinquish claims/sign peace with Israel.

I think these settlements are means to put pressure on the Palestinians.

and to inflict massive suffering and so many more deaths on Palestinians

Oh, yea. Almost missed that one. Surely, you are talking about Arafat here.

"I think these settlements are means to put pressure on the Palestinians."

In effect this is partially true, but I doubt it was a principal reason for the settlements, which were built for a variety of reasons, not all policy-based. Part of the argument for not removing the settlements is in fact related to your contention - the militants among the Palestinians and their supporters might consider withdrawal a sign of weakness.

I do think the separation fence/wall is intended by elements in the Israeli govt to force Arafat to the table, and I think it's actually worth trying.

Just an aside - it's reported in Oren's book that after the 67 War Israel did make some efforts to turn the West Bank over, but there wasn't anyone willing and able to take it. I think subsequent to Intifada I and under the Rabin govt Israel was on a path to withdrawal, but events got in the way.

rilke,

Just an aside - it's reported in Oren's book that after the 67 War Israel did make some efforts to turn the West Bank over, but there wasn't anyone willing and able to take it.

Didn't read that particular book, but I read somewhere that Israel was willing to turn West Bank back to Jordan in 1987-1988 (right after Jordan implicitly acknowledged Israel's right to exist by accepting UN resolution 242), but Jordan quickly washed their hands clean by relinquishing all claims to the land.

I do think the separation fence/wall is intended by elements in the Israeli govt...

The wall is also very effective at what it's marketed to do, which is save Israeli lives:

At this time last year, there were 20 suicide bombings killing 141, while 2002 saw 25 such attacks in which 147 Israelis were killed. So far this year, there have been only two bombings in Israel proper, killing 19.

Perhaps I'm blinded by hope, here, but I see quite a bit of common ground among Stan, Jes, and Rilkefan. And I think that Rilkefan hit on a crucial point in his last post:

Just an aside - it's reported in Oren's book that after the 67 War Israel did make some efforts to turn the West Bank over, but there wasn't anyone willing and able to take it.

This is more than an aside -- this is probably the primary reason why the current mess exists. Arab leaders saw an advantage in forcing Israel to occupy the Palestinians at the conclusion of the Six Day and Yom Kippur wars. (They also likely didn't want the headaches that would arise from administrating a large, angry, and well-armed Palestinian population.) Indeed, the West Bank and Gaza became virtual buffer states for the weakened Arab regimes -- not unlike the old Eastern European states were for the Soviet Union.

The buffer, of course, initially benefited Israel as well -- and still does, to an extent. Indeed, it would be foolish for Israel to turn over portions of the West Bank to Jordan given Jordan's present weakness, and Israel shouldn't even consider turning over the Golan Heights to Ba'athist and Hizbollah-supporting Syria. (Egypt could be trusted with Gaza in light of the Israel-Gaza wall, which probably explains Sharon's pull out strategy; he's trying to prepare for a transfer.) But, what initially was a benefit to Israel, is now becoming a detriment. (Among other things, democratic states are -- typically -- not good at being an occupying state.)

Sharon is right to move to withdraw from Gaza, and is right to begin the same process (it starts with a wall) in the West Bank. The ultimate goal should not be the creation of a Palestinian "homeland," but rather the turn over of Gaza to the Egyptians and -- when Jordan is strong enough -- a turn over of significant portions of the West Bank to Jordan.*

von

*This latter point is one of the reasons why I'm in favor of a MEFTA, which will generally benefit the two moderate Arab regimes in the region -- Jordan and Lebanon. Strengthen Jordan in particular, and you may finally get a solution to a crisis that has existed for over 50 years.

I think that Sharon will end up pulling out unilaterally once the wall is done. Let them stagnate in their cesspoool.

Von: Perhaps I'm blinded by hope, here, but I see quite a bit of common ground among Stan, Jes, and Rilkefan.

The only measure of hope I can see for the Israel/Palestine situation is that almost everyone agrees that the present situation is untenable: Israel cannot continue to occupy the West Bank and the Gaza Strip indefinitely.

The killings still go on in the Gaza Strip, despite the "deterrence fence": it doesn't stop the IDF nor the "extra-judicial killings" nor the civilian casualities that inevitably accompany "extra-judicial killings". The killings will still go on in the West Bank: Sharon's wall is a naked land-grab. If Israel succeeds in grabbing sections of the West Bank and declaring that the rest of it is now Jordan's problem, they are merely setting themselves up again for another war 20 years down the line, just as they did with the mass exiling to create an artificial Jewish majority in 1948.

Unfortunately, while nearly everyone agrees the current situation is untenable, no one can agree what a tenable solution would look like. In part this is because of a settled conviction by some supporters of Israel (in my experience, Israelis tend to have more sense) that everything is all the fault of the Palestinians - or sometimes, as in Stan LS's case, all the fault of Yasser Arafat) but in part it's simple realpolitik: when the top dog gets his jaws on the bone that belongs to the little dog, the top dog doesn't want to share, and it's too easy just to let the top dog have the bone and throw the little dog a few scraps and tell it to be content, don't try to get even half your bone back.

The killings still go on in the Gaza Strip, despite the "deterrence fence":

Any reason the above is in quotes? Any reason Israeli casualties are not mentioned?

just as they did with the mass exiling to create an artificial Jewish majority in 1948.

*yawn*

Myth.

that everything is all the fault of the Palestinians - or sometimes, as in Stan LS's case, all the fault of Yasser Arafat)

Ah, Arafat. Master of the hudna.

The official charter of the new Palestine Liberation Organization referred to the "Zionist invasion," declared that Israel’s Jews were "not an independent nationality," described Zionism as "racist" and "fascist," called for "the liquidation of the Zionist presence," and specified, "armed struggle is the only way to liberate Palestine." In short, "liberation" required the destruction of the Jewish state. The PLO was not even created by Palestinians but by the Arab League -- the corrupt dictators who ruled the Middle East and who had attempted to destroy Israel by military force in 1948, in 1967 and again in 1973.

For thirty years, the PLO charter remained unchanged in its call for Israel’s destruction. Then in the mid-1990s, under enormous international pressure following the 1993 Oslo accords, PLO leader Yasser Arafat removed the clause while assuring his followers that its removal was a necessary compromise that did not alter the movement’s goals. He did this explicitly and also by citing a historical precedent in which the Prophet Muhammad insincerely agreed to a peace with his enemies in order to gain time to mass the forces with which he intended to destroy them.

Jes,

Here's that speech (regarding Oslo agreements):

Arafat speech in Johannesburg Mosque, May 10, 1994
"This agreement, I am not considering it more than the agreement which had been signed between our prophet Mohammed and Koraish, and you remember the Caliph Omar had refused this agreement and [considered] it a despicable truce. But Mohammed had accepted it and we are accepting now this peace offer."
[Ed. note: The agreement with Koraish allowed Mohammed to pray in Mecca, which was under Koraish control, for ten years. When Mohammed grew stronger two years later, he abrogated the agreement, slaughtered the tribe of Koraish and conquered Mecca.]

So, Arafat admits that agreements signed in Oslo are nothing more then a Hudna, his ministers admit that Intifadah 2 was planned by the Palestinian Authority in the summer, and Jes says ...or sometimes, as in Stan LS's case, all the fault of Yasser Arafat

Right. In Stan LS's case.

Any reason the above is in quotes?

Why shouldn't "deterrance fence" be in quotes? Any reason why not?

Any reason Israeli casualties are not mentioned?

I gather that the Gaza Strip "deterrance fence" is thought to be justified because terrorist attacks from the Gaza Strip have ceased since it was built. But, as you doubtless know yourself, Palestinian casualties within the Gaza Strip have not diminished - civilians, including children, are still being killed.

Myth.

Truth.

Ah, Arafat.

Thanks for proving my point with far more wordage than I felt justified in taking.

Why shouldn't "deterrance fence" be in quotes? Any reason why not?

Because it actually deters the terrorists.

Thanks for proving my point with far more wordage

Facts speak for themselves.

I think it's generally known that there is a reasonable solution to the I/P situation, and that it involves something like the Clinton plan or the Taba plan: Israel gives up 95% of the territories and splits Jerusalem; the Palestinians give up violence and the right of return and elect a responsible govt; the world pays off the Palestinains and enforces the peace; the Arab countries in the neighborhood accept the peace or (this part's not clear to me). Sharon will I think perforce be moved in that direction by the demographics and his successor will have the sense to go the rest of the way; and Arafat's successor will presumably take the deal before the barrier gets too high or the next 9/11 weakens his position.

von, you're proposing the end of Jordan as its govt and elites see it - and I'm not sure the Palestinians would even be happy about that arrangement. For that matter Israel (and I) would much prefer to have Jordan run by a monarchy on our side than by the (surely for a generation or two) unhappy and torn-by-internal-stresses Palestinians.

the Palestinians give up violence and the right of return and elect a responsible govt;

Ah. Oslo 2. Good luck with all that, but nothing will happen while Arafat is still in power.

Rilkefan, the problem with the 95% solution is the illegal settlements and the settler-roads, which are built in rather permanent style to split up the West Bank into "bantustans". Yitzhak Rabin was the only Israeli PM to seriously suggest that the Israelis should abandon the illegal settlements in the West Bank, and after he was extra-judicially killed, as they say in that part of the world, I suspect it'll be a while before any Israeli PM has the guts to go for the solution. Certainly Ariel Sharon doesn't appear to wish to do so.

and after he was extra-judicially killed, as they say in that part of the world

Cute. By the way, what was Arafat's counter offer at camp David?

Jes, two of the recent Israeli PMs had the guts to go for the clear solution, and the Israeli govt long ago proved to its people that it will take the necessary measures to quell internal dissent.

From my POV the problems are 1) Arafat 2) George Bush 3) the Arab govts 4) the militant/terrorist splinter groups among the Palestinians 5) Sharon's unreasonable distrust of the Palestinians 6) the messianic Israeli splinter settler groups 7) the Israelis' reasonable distrust of the Palestinians 8) the world's (esp the Europeans') anti-Israel bias. Time (and smart energetic Palestinians) will take care of 1) and Kerry will take care of 2); 5) isn't so bad if he gets out of Gaza which will fracture the hard right and weaken 6); 7) will come with demographics and the rest; and I'm hopeful 3) and 4) and 8) will get ameliorated as the world adjusts to 9/11 and the above predictions.

As an aside, the "bantustan" analogy is in my view an example of a bad intuition pump and is best avoided.

rilke,

5) Sharon's unreasonable distrust of the Palestinians

Given Arafat's speech that I've provided, please explain the "unreasonable" part. Also, note that Jes did not comment on Arafat's quote. Heh. Doesn't quite fit into his agenda.

Stan, a big part of the current problem is that the Israeli govt has undercut the development of a reasonable partner on the other side. A few years ago, when Arafat was forced to cede some power to a PM, Sharon failed to help the new guy, who of course faltered. My point 7) was supposed to indicate I think there is a reasonable level of distrust - one which would prevent Israel from accepting the solution I discuss if there were any other options.

It's not clear to me that you and Jes are actually engaging each other's points, but on this issue I find it hard to see things from either of your POVs.

Pallies using their children human shields? (2 megs)

Oh God.

First, as the person who originally introduced Israel into this thread (I think), I was talking about the bombing of the Osirak reactor as one specific case of arguably justified preemptive action. The West Bank and Gaza are, in my view, entirely different.

I am not going to get into this argument -- my view is that both sides have their fair share of the blame, and that the attempt to argue for one side is a losing proposition. But a few basic facts:

Israeli Arabs do not have full rights in Israel. Many government programs are explicitly set up to confer rights and benefits only on veterans and the Orthodox, which in practice excludes all Arabs except the Druse; and that is why they are set up that way. (If military service were really essential to the various rights and benefits, they would not be conferred on the Orthodox.)

About forced expulsions: they have been exaggerated by some people, and denied by others, but they did exist. Yitzhak Rabin, for instance, said as much in his memoirs.

"Pallies", like any other dismissive name for any ethnic group, is out of bounds here.

my view is that both sides have their fair share of the blame

That sounds.... fair.
Heh.

Stan, one thing to note re your 4:47 is that Arafat has always said different things to different audiences and quoting him to assess his position isn't that useful.

hilzoy, I think that "that both sides have their fair share of the blame" concedes too much to press-like balance and that "the attempt to argue for one side is a losing proposition" is correct but not what I'm doing.

Re rights, I'm unhappy with your argument. I don't know that it would be fair for example to the Republicans who believe in disenfranchising felons and taxcuts for the blind to argue that they believe in blacks having fewer rights.

Anyway, sorry about the threadjack. I've said my piece and am getting out before my blood pressure starts to rise.

rilke,

To those who fill his coffers with $ he says one thing. To his people he says consistently the same thing. Also, I trust you are familiar with the text books used by the Palestinian children in schools? Maybe we should pay attention to the fact that they are not being prepared for peace?

rilkefan: I wasn't primarily thinking of you when I wrote about not wanting to pick a side. And about rights: the thing that makes me adduce this is not just that these provisions have the consequence that Israeli Arabs have fewer rights; it's that it's hard to think of a reason, in a context where everyone other than Israeli Arabs and Orthodox Jews serves in the military, for saying that various rights and benefits will be given to those who are either (a) veterans or (b) Orthodox Jews, other than a desire not to give them to Israeli Arabs.

I should say that I lived in Israel for a year, and my views on this question are largely informed by that experience. (As is my distaste for picking one side: the experience of living in Israel provides more than enough exposure to people who have chosen a side and are unwilling to concede either any good points to their opponent or any criticism of their own side to last a lifetime.) (And I mean people on both sides here. Again, I don't have you in mind when I write this.)

Stan, check my point 1) above; plus shame on the world for not doing something about the textbooks.

hilzoy, fair enough, plus I said I'm done arguing on this for the moment.

Vaguely on-topic, Friedman's back, and he didn't bother to try to write a good column. I really liked _From Beirut to Jerusalem_, but that's causing me some cognitive dissonance.

Three points with a different insight.

1. I use to wonder on how Chamberlain and the Tories sounded in the 1930s, after listening to all the above comments, I think I now have a pretty good idea.

2. I would like a cite on the following.

Israeli Arabs do not have full rights in Israel. Many government programs are explicitly set up to confer rights and benefits only on veterans and the Orthodox, which in practice excludes all Arabs except the Druse;

3. If we had only pursued the Pacific Theater first (after all it was the Imperial Empire of Japan which attacked us and was the clear and imminent to this country, not the Nazis or the Fascists) we might not even have to discuss the Jews in the M.E.

Carry on, please don't let me interfer with your conversation.

Timmy I use to wonder on how Chamberlain and the Tories sounded in the 1930s, after listening to all the above comments, I think I now have a pretty good idea.

There are a myriad of 1930s counter-analogies that could be made; in the interests of comity, may I suggest you drop the appeasement schtick immediately?

Stan et al:

This debate has moved on significantly from since last I was able to post here and I don't really feel a need to rekindle those fires. Should you wish to pursue it further, my email address is valid (although infrequently) checked; otherwise, I'll simply note that carsick's 11:26am post is a substantively correct interpretation of my post.

I should add, Timmy, that you should probably also reconsider the "clear and imminent [danger?]" schtick, too, but that's not as flagrantly combustible as your appeasement insinuations.

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