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October 29, 2004

Comments

Can you explain the difference in the level of crassness between the European denial of genocide and the Bush administration's denial of genocide?

I mean, beyond the whole "let's make up excuses for the Bush administration no matter how deceitful or incompetent they may be" thing.

And I apologize in advance if the Bush administration is rushing the Army, Marines, and the Super Friends to the Sudan to intervene in the crisis and it just hasn't shown up on Google News yet.

Cause I just checked that and nothing showed up.

I would be happy to explain the difference, the Bush administration and Congress have both labelled it genocide and have attempted to address it through the UN only to have all substantive measures blocked by the French and to a lesser extent the Russians.

Furthermore, to my knowledge, no substantial European forces are deeply involved in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Any other questions?

It breaks my heart to concur with Sebastian on this one; not because agreement is unpleasant, but because the unfolding horrors should be so easily preventable.

Oooooh, so the Bush administration finds itself utterly unable to act in the Sudan without international agreement. Interesting. Thanks for clearing that up. Now if you would just let me know what color the sky is on your planet...

Also, you may want to vote Democrat in the future. Clinton at least knew how to effectively deal with the intransigence of the Europeans. Not that I like Clinton's approach to that particular issue, but it seems like his approach is right up your alley, repeal term limits and you've got yourself a brand spanking new hero.

It's partly our fault that the Europeans don't have the wherewithal to commit troops (thinking of the RRF vs Nato here) - a lesson for the future. Also, I think there are voices in Europe to do something - e.g., the Dutch. And really, is it better to deny genocide and do nothing or acknowledge it and do nothing effective? I was pleased when Kerry said at (think the 2nd debate) he would be willing to send US troops as a seed crystal.

Furthermore, to my knowledge, no substantial European forces are deeply involved in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Oh...you forgot Poland!

I agree with Anarch. It's true that Sebastian's post and his comments on this and other recent threads leave himself open to all kinds of sarcasm and sarcastic humor, but what's happening in the Sudan is really too serious for that.

After just tossing a bit of (good natured, I promise) snark at Sebastian in another thread, I should add my voice and say that this is horrible and what is happening there is a stain on the whole world. But I have to point out that it is a very very bad sign that Syria thinks it can do this because it means that the notion of invading Iraq to show ME countries that we weren't playing around any more is deader than a dodo.

It's even worse than Sebastian describes:

According to Die Welt, the Syrians had suggested close cooperation on developing chemical weapons, and it was proposed that the arms be tested on the rebel SPLA, the Sudan People's Liberation Army, in the south.

But given that the rebels were involved in peace talks, the newspaper continued, the Sudanese government proposed testing the arms on people in Darfur.

That is evil. The Sudanese government thinks of these people as less than animals, and views the abject misery and desperation of those people as irrelevant. What does the misery of a few subhumans matter, compared to the information that can be derived from gassing them?

I feel sick.

The UN had a chance to score a big win here. The US bypassed the UN in Iraq; Sudan could have been a big chance to show that the UN can really do something about this kind of thing.

Oops.

I think the inaction in the face of genocide in the Sudan perfectly exposes the lie of international law. The importance of international law was touted up and down as barring US action in Iraq.

Nearly every country in Europe has signed the treaties requiring action against genocide. Europe, not the US, is the major actor in pretending that the supra-national 'international law' exists. But when push comes to shove, they don't act. Why? Because international law, per se is not important to them. It is a rhetorical device to be used as a hammer against the US. If it were real, France would not be obstructing action in the Sudan. It is not real. It is not law. That type of 'international law' is an exercise in pretending to be morally interested in something to soothe your own conscience--rather than to actually do anything. It is precisely why we can't trust international treaties on non-proliferation. They are designed to create the illusion of acting on a problem, while the problem gets worse and worse--see North Korea and Iran.

Sebastian, what the HELL do you think we should do about Pakistan and Russia? Besides invade Iraq, I mean.

Every. single. post. you have written about Darfur has been used to slam Europe. They deserve it, yeah, but it does absolutely nothing to get a solution. Meanwhile, you give a free pass to your own government, the one you actually have a hope of influencing.

That a law is broken does not prove that a law means nothing or is an excuse that pretends to do something.

(and of course, we have failed to meet our obligations under the genocide convention time and again, and lately under the torture convention too.)

Katherine, the US has attempted to take action in the Sudan through the international organization known as the United Nations. The very same organization that so many people insist the US should engage. In other words, it is acting as you want it to, and being obstructed by France. That isn't a free pass to the US. We are in fact engaged in Iraq and Afghanistan--neither of which France is deeply engaged in. We have to keep things open for North Korean or Iranian craziness--neither of which Europe deals with.

"That a law is broken does not prove that a law means nothing or is an excuse that pretends to do something."

No, in a country that is true. In the international community you are wrong. The genocide convention is not law as the word 'law' is normally understood. It is a mere expression of distate against genocide. If it were law, at least one country in the world somewhere would already be acting in the Sudan. And I mean one country other than Syria which is helping the genocide to occur.

The problem in this discussion is that you absolutely catagorically refuse to acknowledge that the situation in the Sudan has ramifications for expectations of significant European help. I have always argued that Europe does not have the capability to be particularly helpful. The situation in the Sudan exposes the fact that Europe does not even have the will. Foreign policy presctiptions which emphasize diplomacy with Europe are clearly spending too much time on a trivial issue.

Thanks for bringing this to my attention-- these articles (and their implications) had managed to escape me completely.

Sebastian:

Furthermore, to my knowledge, no substantial European forces are deeply involved in Iraq or Afghanistan.

and

We are in fact engaged in Iraq and Afghanistan--neither of which France is deeply engaged in.

Setting aside the question of what these allegations have to do with Darfur, some clarifications:

The Force Commander of ISAF (the NATO contingent in Afghanistan) is French.

From the ISAF website:

"More than 8,000 soldiers, sailors and airmen make up ISAF, with contributions from 36 nations.

Nations supporting the ISAF mission are:

Albania
Austria
Azerbaijan
Belgium
Bulgaria
Canada
Croatia
Czech Republic
Denmark
Estonia
Finland
France
FYROM
Germany
Greece
Hungary
Iceland
Ireland
Italy
Latvia
Lithuania
Luxembourg
Netherlands
New Zealand
Norway
Poland
Portugal
Romania
Slovakia
Slovenia
Spain
Sweden
Switzerland
Turkey
United Kingdom
United States of America"

As far as I can tell, France and Germany combine to provide over 2,000 troops.

Yup, 8,000 total for all of Europe. So like I said, the European commitment to Afghanistan isn't particularly substantial, therefore they should be available for the Sudan if they cared.

Sebastian, your comments on the Sudan to date do sound rather as if you are less interested in the terrible things that are happening there, and more interested in using it as a topic to beat Europe with.

I think it's safe to say that Europe does need a little thumping to get it's collective butt of the sidelines...

Here's a great opportunity for them to lead.

I truly wonder why they don't.

It's not that I think France and Germany could or would save the day in Iraq under a Kerry administration. The relationship with Europe, I regard as a symptom of Bush's complete ineptitude (is that a word?) at diplomacy in general, and particularly public diplomacy--it's the fact that 80% or so of Europe hates Bush, rather than that he and Jacques Chirac don't get along. The consequences of that failure are much worse as far as the Arab and Muslim world goes than as far as France and Germany not providing troops for Iraq. But with the Arab and Muslim world, there's not a free press and there's a lot of anti-semitism and you can argue that hatred of the U.S. is not a recent phenomenon and not Bush's fault at all. The fact that our oldest allies can't stand us is much more troubling. (It's also easier to get information on this.)

In general, I think Bush's contempt for alliances is only a small part of the problem with his foreign policy, and I think Kerry has emphasized it too much.

International law was not dreamed up by some human rights campaigners in the 1960s. The Constitution makes treaties part of U.S. law and gives Congress the power to define and punish offenses against the law of nations. International law's existence only became controversial when it started protecting the wrong people & concerning itself with human rights.

I think dismissing all treaties as worthless and pretextual because some treaties haven't been enforced is stupid, stupid, stupid. Some Constitutions and domestic laws are not worth the paper they are written on either--but others are. And look at our own Constitution. Garrison called it a "pact with slavery" and he wasn't wrong. Without the 13th, 14th, 15th and 19th amendments, it's really not legitimate in many ways. And the 14th amendment was a dead letter for the better part of a century, and the 1st amendment was thought to allow sending people to jail for criticizing the government in war time for most of our history.

I don't know whether we'll ever get to the point where the promises in the genocide convention are fully kept, but:
1. I think there's a chance of it. Public opinion on this issue has changed dramatically since Rwanda.
2. If it happens it is partly because there is a genocide convention--as with the U.S. Constitution, the hope is it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
3. Jacques Chirac's action in Sudan is not sufficient proof that the genocide convention, let alone all treaties, are worthless.

Plenty of treaties are obeyed. They are especially likely to be obeyed if they are not aspirational human rights treaties, but bilateral treaties that countries make in their own self interest.

I think your reliance on military force to solve problems is every bit as naive as my belief international law--actually more so. I admit that treaties don't always work and sometimes war is necessary, and am pretty skeptical of international law in general. You seem to believe that nothing but war ever works, and don't have an answer for what to do when war is simply not an option.

one last question: do you seriously maintain that NATO did not help us win the Cold War?

Furthermore, to my knowledge, no substantial European forces are deeply involved in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Sebastian, you have repeatedly said that the US can be excused not going into the Sudan because of the commitment in Iraq (also some stuff about having to go through the UN, which I find bizarre). But how many troops do you think would have to be sent? Romeo Dallaire, UN military commander in Rwanda during the genocide, estimated that 5,000 troops could have stopped it. That doesn't seem like any great barrier, even for the European forces, certainly, but it's even more credible for the US to do so, what with having the most powerful military force on earth and all.

Of course there are also sources that say that the claims are not true.

only to have all substantive measures blocked by the French and to a lesser extent the Russians.
The French?????? AFAIK the Chinese, the Russians, Pakistan and Algeria.

Sudan has probably the largest oil reserve in Africa. Control of the Oil is in the hands of the Chinese and to a lesser degree other asian petrol companies (mainly India I thought). Unless there is regime change of course, or a ban on oil export...

It also has had civil war for more than 20 years (and the rebels are backed up by..... armed by..... trained by.....???). Under a LOT of political pressure the government signed a peace agreement that is still very very fractious (compare North Ireland) and a lot of people think that it is also very important that the peace treaty will work out. Quit a number of interesting articles from various viewpoints can be found here.

A lot of effort is put into having the Kartoum government agree to receive more AU peacekeepers: there will be 3500 now instead of the about 150 or so that are now present. Material and money is provided by a.o. the EU. If anything I think there should be a bettere mandate for the Africans.

What is really necessary at this moment is humanitarian aid - more than militairy intervention. Or so say the humanitarian organizations that are present there.

If military intervention *is* necessary, Europe will not yet be able to do much. Imagine the USA without a central government, where all the states made their own military budgets and did their own training. Then ad complexing factors like every state speaking another language and a long history of war & mistrust. Can you imagine that it takes quite some commitment and training to come up with a "european" force? Quit a lot of people have always been in favor of a European Defense force, but the US always stopped it because they felt Nato could do better - and hence the US kept control. The first really 'rapid reaction force' is in the design state, which is good news. It will be mixed Dutch-Germen-Litouanian and I thought another country too.

The countries that have enough militairy power to act by themselves are I think only the UK and France. The UK is rather tied, and France has allready 33000 troops deployed in various countries.

"They are especially likely to be obeyed if they are not aspirational human rights treaties, but bilateral treaties that countries make in their own self interest."

Yes contractual treaties are likely to be followed. But that isn't at all like 'international law' as popularly talked about. That is more like, well, contract law.

The genocide treaty isn't the only failure. The NPT is an utter failure. It has not been effectively implemented against a party which wanted nuclear weapons even once. And there is an obvious danger to allowing nuclear proliferation.

I am not arguing against treaties per se. I am arguing against the pretense the treaties protect things. Good treaties outline rights AND responsibilites. Europe tends to like to outline rights and want the US to fulfill responsibilities. I don't see any reason to play along with that kind of a game. If we have all the responsibilities (and all the whining about what the US isn't doing in the Sudan suggests that we do) we get to have a much greater role in defining the rights and responsibilities. If Europe wants a say, they can damn well use their just as big as our economy to contribute. They don't. And that is why I get angry about European self-righteousness about 'international law'. They don't care about international law. They don't care about genocide. They don't care about nuclear proliferation. Treaties without a will behind them are useless. You point to the treaty. I point to the utter lack of European will to enforce the treaties when doing so might be remotely difficult. We don't need more useless treaties. Europe doesn't have the will to bother with the ones we have. Until it has the will to enforce them, there isn't any point in pretending that they are useful. We might as well have a situation where the US unilaterally decides what it wants to do.

I am not advocating that situation, I am describing it.

If we lived in a world where the international community had the will to enforce such treaties, I would be thrilled. But so long as the US must bear the brunt of guaranteeing international security, I don't have any trouble thinking that we ought to be able to have by far the largest say in how we do that.

If Europe wants to have effective international law, they must step up to the plate.

They don't.

They won't.

And until they do, the treaties you revere are just barely above worthless. They aren't totally worthless, but they aren't worth spending the huge amount of effort and diplomacy that you demand. Diplomacy is about exchange--which is why trade diplomacy tends to work. So long as Europe isn't offering much that is useful regarding international security, why should we waste diplomatic energy with them? Even if we score diplomatic coups, we don't get much of worth. Europe doesn't have the will to offer much except huge demands about control. Why bother with that crap? When European countries have something to offer (even a useful amount of money) they can have a greater say. At the moment, they are either passive, or actively destroying our ability to act (Sudan, Iran).

"one last question: do you seriously maintain that NATO did not help us win the Cold War?"

Nuclear Umbrella. Who funded that? Who resisted it? And what historian doesn't admit that the nuclear umbrella was the most important part of NATO?

"If military intervention *is* necessary, Europe will not yet be able to do much. Imagine the USA without a central government, where all the states made their own military budgets and did their own training. Then ad complexing factors like every state speaking another language and a long history of war & mistrust. Can you imagine that it takes quite some commitment and training to come up with a "european" force?"

Oh good heavens, the French have an army and air force and navy. We don't need to wait for a European command force. And if they didn't resist every move they could probably get a NATO command structure. And 33000 deployed? That is deployed, not engaged. It isn't like they are fighting with 33000 soldiers at the moment, give me a break.

"Sebastian, you have repeatedly said that the US can be excused not going into the Sudan because of the commitment in Iraq (also some stuff about having to go through the UN, which I find bizarre)."

Bizarre indeed that the very nations which insist we go through the UN if we should invade a country can be let off the hook for making the UN process impossible.

My point is this. IF (and I do not accept it myself) Europe has a useful force, THEN it should be available for the Sudan BECAUSE it is not otherwise engaged. IF (and this is what I believe) Europe either does not have such a force or does not have the will to bother to wield it, THEN the diplomatic games which so many on this site insist upon are not particularly crucial BECAUSE they won't gain very much.

It is much more difficult to argue that A) Europe has a crucial contribution AND B) they have the will to use it AND C) the genocide in the Sudan continues with no European resistance unless you are willing to conceed that Europe doesn't care about genocide.

So. You can either accept that Europe does not have much of a contribution, OR accept that it does not have the will to actually contribute, OR accept that it doesn't care about genocide.

Pick one.

It could even be more than one.

But arguing that they are all false doesn't make logical sense. And unfortunately the modern left diplomatic view seems to argue that they are all false.

Treating Europe as a monolith is as dumb as treating the U.S. as a monolith. Dumber, actually--the U.S. is at least one country.

There is a lot of room for legitimate criticism of Europe, but this repititive, interminable point-scoring contest is worse than useless. Not only is there no hope that it will change things for the better in the Sudan, there is no hope that it will even change things in Europe.

We are not going to convince each other here. At best we will understand each other's positions better. But since you constantly either misunderstand or mischaracterize mine, and don't answer sincere questions about yours, there's not much point in continuing.

You can either accept that Europe does not have much of a contribution, OR accept that it does not have the will to actually contribute, OR accept that it doesn't care about genocide.

I could quite easily be convinced that all three are true. Now that that is settled, when is the Bush adminstration sending troops to Sudan?

What sincere question have you asked that remains unanswered? NATO was important mostly because the US stopped the USSR from invading Europe by threatening to destroy the Russia with nuclear weapons if Europe was invaded. We all know that, right?

What have I mischaracterized? Do you believe that treaties are hugely useful when their signatories refuse to enforce them? I did not ascribe that view to you, did I? Or do you hold that view? You talk about some enormous value that you believe unenforced treaties have, but you have not told me what that enormous value is, nor have I speculated on it. And if you believe that they have only a small value, you have not explained why you worry about them so much, but I have not speculated on that either. The characterization I have made is that you won't address the idea that a lack of will and/or ability to combat genocide in the clear case of genocide might have some explanatory power which could be applied to an analysis in European exercise of power regarding the War on Terrorism. And since you have not addressed that, despite that being the topic of numerous posts which you have otherwise commented on, I don't see that as a mischaracterization.

"Not only is there no hope that it will change things for the better in the Sudan, there is no hope that it will even change things in Europe."

I don't see that as true. I think Bush might be willing to intervene unilaterally in the Sudan if he wasn't going to get beaten to hell about it by Americans on the left. He doesn't really care about what the UN thinks. But, he isn't going to risk even further political capital on something which is of moral but not necessarily much strategic interest. The American left could relieve him of that worry--but would you spend time organizing to do so?

In order to do so, the American left must first be convinced of the silliness of appealing to Europe or international structures to stop the genocide in the Sudan. Which is what I am trying to do.

But, he isn't going to risk even further political capital on something which is of moral but not necessarily much strategic interest. The American left could relieve him of that worry--but would you spend time organizing to do so?

You think that Bush wants to go into Sudan, but is afraid of being criticized by the American left?

Um. Well.

No, I think Bush would be willing to go into the Sudan if it was clear that he wouldn't get slammed from all sides about it. He has expressed a willingness to defy UN opinion. He has expressed a willingness to call genocide a genocide. He has expressed willingness to do things about it. But I suspect he won't risk further division over wars of choice if he doesn't see a national security reason to deal with them.

" I think Bush might be willing to intervene unilaterally in the Sudan if he wasn't going to get beaten to hell about it by Americans on the left."

Do you really think that?

First of all, I don't believe Bush would get beaten to hell about it and I certainly would not take part. I would actively support anything we could do short of U.S. ground troops. I would actively support U.S. ground troops if they would help and it is militarily feasible given our other commitments.

All of the voices of the left I have heard on Darfur have supported doing more, not less. Literally, all. Now, I'm sure that is partly the circles I run in; I am sure International ANSWER or whoever does not support U.S. action. Some less extreme groups, too. But I have heard much, much more criticism of Bush for doing too little than too much.

Second of all, since when does Bush listen to focus groups made up of people like me?

Sebastian: No, I think Bush would be willing to go into the Sudan if it was clear that he wouldn't get slammed from all sides about it.

You mean like he was willing to go into Iraq if it was clear that he wouldn't get slammed from all sides about it?

Invading Iraq was unpopular with all sides because there was no good reason to do it.

Is this really your argument: that Iraq in 2003 was the exact equivalent of the Sudan today? Is this why you keep hammering on about the Sudan, even though you appear to care considerably less about the people than you do about condemning Europe but exculpating Bush?

see, e.g. Howard Dean as an example of what the American left thinks of Darfur, and an example of what constructive criticism of our allies as opposed to pointless Europe-and UN-bashing looks like.

Also, my understanding is that China and Russia are bigger obstacles to U.N. action than France.

Me: You think that Bush wants to go into Sudan, but is afraid of being criticized by the American left?

Sebastian: No, I think Bush would be willing to go into the Sudan if it was clear that he wouldn't get slammed from all sides about it.

You mean you think that both the left AND the right would be hostile to US intervention? No wonder the US isn't intervening.

And I see we have returned directly to the US with still no discussion about how lack of action by European powers and outright obstruction might suggest absolutely anything in relation to how THEY CONDUCT foreign policy.

If you refuse to address non-US actors in foreign policy, you can't have a fact-based understanding of foreign policy. That in turn lets people pretend that certain treaties will be upheld and that certain treaties are advancements in international law.

It is constantly amazing to me that the very same people who think we need to include the rest of the world on almost everything will then have a US-centric debate everytime the European powers stumble.

So many of you accuse Bush of having a faith-based foreign policy. His policy is based on the actual fact that we have to do most of the real work. Yours seems to be (though I can't be sure because you have refused to engage even momentarily on the consequences of all sorts of European actions) based on the amazing grace of international good-will. Constantly saying "I deplor European inaction, but what about America" is not addressing the question. The question is why is there European inaction? The related question is what does it mean for other policies? The further question is what does it mean for policies which rely heavily on European action? None of those questions have been even remotely addressed here but any of those who regularly tout the importance of international support.

Chirac is a bad president and insincere jerk who doesn't care about human rights. Henry Farell has said that he trusts Chirac even less than Bush, and I don't know about that over all but when it comes to Africa it's dead right.

The rest of Europe does not have enough of a military or enough political will to take military action against genocide. It is worth trying to convince them to build up a more significant military and peacekeeping force, to share the load with the United States in return for a real voice and for our cooperation in areas that are important to them. They may not be convince-able; almost certainly Bush is no longer capable of convincing them of anything. But it is worth the attempt. Our interests on the war and terror are the same. If Al Qaeda is attacking us instead of them, it's only a temporary, tactical move. Citizens of London and Paris and Rome and Berlin and Madrid are much more likely than citizens of any small southern or midwestern town to be murdered in a terrorist attack.

Our interests in stopping genocide are surely the same.

We may never convince the Jacques Chiracs of the world, but perhaps we can eventually convince the people of Europe. In the case of an imminent threat from terrorists or an imminent or ongoing genocide, we cannot wait for multilateral action, and if our efforts to act multilaterally fail we must do what we can on our own. But there is no reason to concede defeat from the outset.

And as I argued above, an argument you completely ignored: the fact that Europe is most worrisome not because it deprives us of France's army, but as a signal of the fact that the whole world, and especially the Muslim and Arab world, hates us.

And by the way, I would sympathize more with me failing to discuss Darfur in the way you want if you didn't constantly fail to answer honest, direct questions about what you think & address my actual arguments instead of your inaccurate characterizations of them.

Every time we have a discussion, you mischaracterize my position over and over, do not correct yourself when I explain the mischaracterization, ignore every direct question I ask, leave the thread if the argument is going badly, and then proceed two days later as if the discussion had never taken place.

"the fact that Europe hates us", it should read.

The specific question I am most interested in is this:
"Sebastian, what the HELL do you think we should do about Pakistan and Russia? Besides invade Iraq, I mean."

I am also interested in whether you honestly believe that Bush's fear of the objection from the American left is what's holding him back from invading Iraq. One would think my reassurances on that score would have been helpful or worth noticing, if you were actually interested in what happens in Darfur rather than in what points you could score over Iraq.

Katherine, re your 1:57 - no comment on the content (as you know I probably agree with you on the vast majority of issues) but the tone seems a bit ad homy at the end - you may be perfectly correct but this site doesn't need to lose another commenter before the election.

argh. Holding him back from taking action in the Sudan.

I am obviously too mad and too bleary eyed to type. Forget it. Go ahead. Bash Europe all day and every day. You'll be right some of the time, but it will accomplish less than nothing.

Rilkefan's right. Sorry for the tone. I should not impute bad faith.

I can't do this anymore. It's too close to an election where too much is at stake for me. If I blog again after the election, it will be at another site and I will unfortunately have to turn off comments.

I think making Darfur part of the giant point scoring contest between the left and the right has actually raised awareness of the issue & led more people to support intervention, but at a certain point it makes real discussion of what we should do, and real pressure on our government (and on Europe, insofar as we have any influence--though if we do it's only the left) impossible.

I highly recommend this weblog,

this weblog Passion of the Present for a more enlightening discussion on the genocide in Darfur and what can be done about it.

K: baby, bathwater.

I'm not using the Sudan to slam Europe. I'm using it as an illustration about the fecklessness of relying on international action to prevent atrocity. I'm using it to encourage people to support unilateral action because multilateral action in serious cases is almost always thwarted. I also keep bringing it up, because it keeps happening. North Korea gaining the bomb was a similar failure. A similar failure is in process right now with Iran and nuclear weapons. These are diplomatic failures, because most of the international community isn't willing to stand up and do anything.

"Sebastian, what the HELL do you think we should do about Pakistan and Russia? Besides invade Iraq, I mean."

I don't even know how to respond. When did I suggest that invading Iraq had anything to do with Pakistan or Russia? If you mean what should we do about the fact that Pakistan has nuclear weapons, it is a bit late no? If you want to talk about how we keep said nuclear weapons out of terrorist hands, I would suggest that keeping secular leaders in power might be a good start--which unfortunately flies in the face of making demands to see their greatest living hero, Khan, in our interrogation rooms. Keeping the secularists in power in Pakistan is the easiest short term fix, destroying the organizational core of the more crazy Islamist groups is probably a good second step. As for Russia, I'm all for negotiating for increased control, if possible. But you may not like the things Russia will ask for--I suspect a free hand in against the Checens is going to be bargaining point number one from Russia for the next five years or so (at a minimum). But I don't see broadbased international pressure as helping in either case. Both will be resolved by direct, unilateral US negotiation. And in neither of those two instances is their a particular pool of bad will against Bush.

I would sympathize more with me failing to discuss Darfur in the way you want if you didn't constantly fail to answer honest, direct questions about what you think & address my actual arguments instead of your inaccurate characterizations of them.

Every time we have a discussion, you mischaracterize my position over and over, do not correct yourself when I explain the mischaracterization, ignore every direct question I ask, leave the thread if the argument is going badly, and then proceed two days later as if the discussion had never taken place.

I realize that the election has made things white-hot, but this is more than a bit much.

I continue discussions, usually the only one on my side and often slogging through 50-100+ comments. I am doggedly persistent. On the Sudan, especially, we have had multiple discussions where not a single time have you addressed how a lack of European action might bear on your philosophy or understanding of how international foreign policy works/ought to work. On every other foreign policy subject you are trigger-quick to point out how the US is not solicitous enough of international good will or cooperation. Genocide in the Sudan is the perfect example to illustrate my near constant argument that in foreign policy the lack of cooperation is often not a lack of trying on America's part, but rather a lack of caring or lack of ability on the part of most members of the international community. You steadfastly ignore that ignore that argument in areas such as nuclear proliferation, where I agree that cooperation if it were available would be greatly helpful. So when it comes to the situation where the United States cannot possibly be blamed, you flail about and constantly ask me "What about the US?". I am perfectly willing to set up a foreign policy framework where the US has to do most of the real work--but then I insist that it gets most of the decision-making. If you want a different world, and I think you do (though if that is a mischaracterization please point it out), then it is important for you to point out how it will work since in cases like this, the international community--which you rely on to be resolute enough to take action--doesn't seem to actually act the way you are assuming they act when you talk about it in all the other cases.

I have reread every single comment, and I don't see the mischaracterizations you complain about. I see that I have tried to drag you to this topic. I see that you won't talk about it. I see you trying to talk about why the US doesn't act. I see me pointing out that it has tried through the UN (which is the 'proper' international venue) and has been blocked by France, then Russia, then France, then Russia and China. I see me pointing out that the US is the only one to admit it is genocide. I see the US trying to drum up support to act. I see the world saying non. I see you 'yes, butting' about how you don't like Chirac. But I don't see you noticing that Chirac has led the international community against our actions for the past 6 years. I don't see any indication whatsoever that you are willing to see the lack of international will as something to factor in to your calculations about foreign policy.

And since that lack of will does in fact exist, that is a big hole in your proposals for foreign policy.

And I don't think that makes you a bad person. I have my own horrible disapointments. I wish that US soldiers hadn't tortured prisoners in Iraq. That shakes me to the core. And it caused me to write a number of things I thought I would never have to write and think about our government in ways I didn't want to. I can see you aren't there with your own side and its problems with foreign policy. Maybe I'm totally wrong about it all.

But if I am, you haven't shown me, or even made the attempt. The only thing you have done is said that the US is just as bad. Which A) isn't true and B) wouldn't fix the foreign policy problem even if it were true.

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