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January 14, 2006

Comments

Sorry, I missed where this comment came from:

also, would the pro-strike group please tell us whether there is any limit on the number of iranian civilian casualties that are acceptable (ie, beyond which a target becomes off-limits).

Was this made in reference to the pro-strike unilateral cowboy Chirac?

BREST, France (Reuters) - France said on Thursday it would be ready to use nuclear weapons against any state that carried out a terrorist attack against it, reaffirming the need for its nuclear deterrent

Deflecting criticism of France's costly nuclear arms program, President Jacques Chirac said security came at a price and France must be able to hit back hard at a hostile state's centers of power and its "capacity to act."


Tim T: i posed that question, and i was not aware of Chirac's comment, so the answer to your question is No.

I was curious as to whether SH had any limits on his willingness to kill civilians who happen to be in the way.

This, btw, is an interesting post on the same issue.

Sure, we shouldn't be leveling cities or neighborhoods. We should be targetting the structures. I would be saddened but unsurprised if some civilian maintainence workers or the like were killed.

"also, would the pro-strike group please tell us whether there is any limit on the number of iranian civilian casualties that are acceptable (ie, beyond which a target becomes off-limits)."

I certainly wouldn't say I am in the pro-strike group. It was probably too late for that by 2002. I think our only recourse is to work actively to overthrow the government. The Iraqi's couldn't do this on their own so things get tricky on how to accomplish it.

To quote George Washington, "perseverance and commitment is required". We could start this process by occupying a country close to Iran. (Check)

Now we have to build up our base and extend our influence across the border. Engage the people, not necessarily the government.

As far as a limit on the number of Iranian civilian casualties I follow the lead of Arafat. There is no such thing as an Israeli civilian. I would redefine that to say if you work or live near a suspected nuclear site then you might have to pay the ultimate price. During the cold war I lived near the number 4 target on the Soviet list. I thought about it everyday.

TimT: Is it our cavalier attitude about them not wearing uniforms and hence not falling under the Geneva Convention?

You need to read the Geneva Convention, Tim. Article 4 indeed provides that "Prisoners of war, in the sense of the present Convention, are persons belonging to one of the following categories, who have fallen into the power of the enemy" - and those categories are more inclusive that your comment about uniforms suggests you are aware of.

But, Article 5 says:

The present Convention shall apply to the persons referred to in Article 4 from the time they fall into the power of the enemy and until their final release and repatriation.

Should any doubt arise as to whether persons, having committed a belligerent act and having fallen into the hands of the enemy, belong to any of the categories enumerated in Article 4, such persons shall enjoy the protection of the present Convention until such time as their status has been determined by a competent tribunal." (emphasis mine)


In short, anyone captured by the US military "having committed a belligerent act" (which by no means applies to all of the prisoners in Guantanamo Bay) whom the US thinks may not be included under Article 4, nevertheless must be treated as if they were prisoners of war until their status has been determined by a competent tribunal.

That part of the Geneva Convention is what the present administration cavalierly disregarded. They did not ask a competent tribunal to determine the status of the prisoners sent to Guantanamo Bay (or indeed prisoners beaten to death in Bagram Airbase) before removing them from the status of PoWs. They justified this by claiming they didn't have to have a competent tribunal because they had no doubt.

This is precisely as legal as it would be were someone to be sent to prison for life, no appeal, no trial, no nothing, who had been picked up by the NYPD because a cop on the beat had been told by an informer that this person was guilty of murder: and the NYPD justified skipping the trial because the cop on the beat had no doubt that the man was guilty.

Slarti: Ah, well you should know that we extracted ourselves from the ABM treaty by provisions laid out in that treaty, so characterizing it as "cavalier" is inapt.

*shrug* You may feel that for Bush to decide to unilaterally abandon a treaty that was 29 years in use after he had been less than 11 months in office, was clearly a sensible, wise, and measured decision, not in the least "cavalier". But if so, I feel your judgement of Bush's decisionmaking is inapt, not my word choice.

TimT There really isn't the slightest possiblity that the mostly Shiite government of Iraq will help us overthrow the goverment of Iran.

As far as a limit on the number of Iranian civilian casualties I follow the lead of Arafat. There is no such thing as an Israeli civilian.

This might be an appropriate time for you to clarify your stance on the Global War On Terror.

Jesurgislac,

Maybe you should read what you quote.

Should any doubt arise as to whether persons, having committed a belligerent act and having fallen into the hands of the enemy, belong to any of the categories enumerated in Article 4, such persons shall enjoy the protection of the present Convention until such time as their status has been determined by a competent tribunal.

Terrorists don't fall under Article 4. So they aren't protected by it. So Aricle 5 isn't applicable either.

Lily,

Never claimed they would. Btw, which side of the Iraq/Iran war did the Iraqi Shiites fight on?

TimT: Terrorists don't fall under Article 4. So they aren't protected by it. So Aricle 5 isn't applicable either.

As I explained to you in some detail already, the Geneva Convention requires that when someone is taken prisoner by the enemy, "having committed a belligerant act", in order to decide that Article 4 does not apply, Article 5 requires a competent tribunal to determine that a prisoner does not fall into any category included under Article 4. The US did not do so: the US is in breach of the Geneva Convention.

This was illegal when it was supposed that all the prisoners in Guantanamo Bay were, as the Bush administration claimed, dangerous terrorists, the worst of the worst: now that it is known that, thanks to their cavalier disregard of the procedures required by the Geneva Convention, many innocent kidnap victims have been imprisoned there - some freed, some not - it goes beyond illegal into criminal folly.

Trying to defend this with ignorant comments like "Terrorists don't fall under Article 4" does not help your argument.


"Article 5 requires a competent tribunal to determine that a prisoner does not fall into any category included under Article 4."

Actually it requires a competent tribunal if there is any doubt.

"Actually it requires a competent tribunal if there is any doubt."

And since they were captured in Afghanistan during fighting there wasn't doubt, except for people that want to lend more credence to terrorists than they do the U.S.

Article 4 doesn't apply.

Let's make this simple for Jesurgislac. Does the Geneva Convention apply to terrorists? A Yes or No answer would be nice.

Maybe Jesurgislac can also point to a time line that we must also follow in the Geneva Conventions that equally isn't applicable.

I've read your posts Jesurgislac. I wouldn't be calling anyone ignorant if I were you.

You may feel that for Bush to decide to unilaterally abandon a treaty that was 29 years in use after he had been less than 11 months in office, was clearly a sensible, wise, and measured decision, not in the least "cavalier". But if so, I feel your judgement of Bush's decisionmaking is inapt, not my word choice.

If extraction from a treaty according to the terms of the treaty itself constitutes "cavalier" to you, know that this isn't a compelling point argument. It's not an argument at all, it's simply opinion.

If you've taken the trouble to peruse the treaty itself and have paid attention to the change in geopolitics since the treaty was first signed, I don't see how you can honestly hold that the treaty had not outlived its usefulness.

"And since they were captured in Afghanistan during fighting there wasn't doubt"

So there were nearly 30 million terrorists when we invaded in 2001. Who knew recruitment was that successful for bin Laden?

TimT I understood you to be saying that at some time in the future Iraq would let itself be used as base of American operations for overthrowing the goverment of Iran and I don't think there is much expectation of that any more because the government of Iraq is fairly friendly to the government of Iran.
My guess is that soldiers of any religion obeyed orders during the war. However, Saddam is gone and the Shiites are in charge now so there is no reason to assume they will follow Saddam's example in their relations to Iran.

I don't see how you can honestly hold that the treaty had not outlived its usefulness

I was hoping for Slart to weigh in, but more to throw some cold water on this rather than gas. Don't you think "honestly hold" is a bit, er, much, especially if some can argue that the possibility of ballistic missiles is something that could be, with advances in electronic intelligence gathering, not require that the US withdraw from the treaty? I think the are arguable points, and turning up the temperature is not altogether helpful.

I mean honestly not as an implication that anyone was being dishonest, lj. Figure of speech.

But to go a bit further: first, the fact that the other nation involved no longer exists. This is probably the least important point, but it's still there. Second, the ABM treaty is designed to support MAD, which I think is no longer policy. It's designed so as NOT to deter an attack, but rather to ensure that ONLY a missile complex OR the capitols can be defended. I worked on such a system once upon a time, and when I discovered its intent was not to defend people but rather to defend ICBMs...I'll let you imagine how that was.

And: given that the treaty was designed so as to limit arms buildup, and given that both parties of the treaty have been standing down in terms of number of nuclear arms for the last couple of decades, I'm thinking there's many reasons to get rid of it. The former Soviet Union is not a threat in terms of proliferation anymore, it's a threat because it may have left weapons scattered about for others to make use of. Those others haven't cosigned the ABM treaty with us and aren't, in any event, in a position to build themselves some ridiculous defense complex whose sole purpose is to protect their politicians.

Or, one could think of the ABM Treaty as a nuclear-arms version of "starve the beast", and decide accordingly. Just a thought.

Fair enough, but I think that figures of speech are the things to be most careful about, especially when things get hot.

As for the ABM treaty (wow, any more off post, and we'll be back on it), my very cursory understanding is that we went off it not because of the disappearance of the Soviet Union, but because it was argued that we needed to protect ourselves against rogue nations. This plugs back into the food fight here. If a rogue nation reaches a point where it can develop and then toss a ballistic missile in our direction, it implies a certain cavalier-ness about trying to stop things sooner (as well as a cavalier-ness in trying to clean up the mess left by the Soviet Union). I'd have to do more reading, and this thread is about to drop off the page, plus the term has just finished here, so there's not going to be much time outside of grading and getting things ready for next term (big, big, big plans there) so I'm not asking for a tete a tete about the ABM treaty, just suggesting that there is something on the other side of the argument for that.

If only people like you would hold Al Qaeda to such standards. I guess all those IED's they are planting don't really matter to you because they only kill Americans.

A cite, please, for any of this egregious nonsense?

To quote George Washington, "perseverance and commitment is required". We could start this process by occupying a country close to Iran. (Check)

We could also start this process by not occupying a country close to Iran, thereby preserving our military and diplomatic capabilities, not to mention the potential for a non-war-footing economy. (Cross)

"As for the ABM treaty (wow, any more off post, and we'll be back on it), my very cursory understanding is that we went off it not because of the disappearance of the Soviet Union, but because it was argued that we needed to protect ourselves against rogue nations. This plugs back into the food fight here. If a rogue nation reaches a point where it can develop and then toss a ballistic missile in our direction, it implies a certain cavalier-ness about trying to stop things sooner"

I don't think I'm understanding you. We withdrew from the ABM treaty because it made research into stopping other people's ballistic missiles illegal. We were worried about rogue nations having ballistic missiles (probably the largest worry at the time was North Korea). Your last sentence makes very little sense to me in the context of this discussion. "it implies a certain cavalier-ness about trying to stop things sooner...." Do you mean like letting Iran get nuclear weapons?

Sebastian, I think you are just trying to score process points. Are you implying that we withdrew from the ABM treaty because we needed to deal with Iran? Just for the record, I find proposing airstrikes to be subsumed in the definition of cavalier, so strictly speaking, just because you are doing something to deal with Iran does not exclude the possibility of being cavalier. In fact, the admin's dealings with North Korea strike me as complete undergirded by disregard of the opinions of others. which I think is the definition of cavalier.

You can say we withdrew from it because it made the "research" we wanted to do illegal, but the word 'research' is a bit of smoke and mirrors there, as the National Missile Defense was a bit more than guys tinkering in the lab. It also marked the first time the US had withdrawn from an arms treaty.

This article has a few fun moments from those halcyon days

The vision of a United States unfettered by international agreements and acting unilaterally in its own best interests has recently been put forward in Rationale and Requirements for U.S. Nuclear Forces and Arms Control, a study published by the National Institute for Public Policy (NIPP), a conservative think tank, and signed by 27 senior officials from past and current administrations. They include the current deputy national security advisor (Stephen Hadley), the special assistant to the secretary of defense (Stephen Cambone), and the National Security Council official responsible for counterproliferation and national missile defense (Robert Joseph).

The NIPP study argues that arms control is a vestige of the Cold War, has tended to codify mutual assured destruction, "contributes to U.S.-Russian political enmity, and is incompatible with the basic U.S. strategic requirement for adaptability in a dynamic post-Cold War environment." Codifying deep reductions now, along the lines of the traditional Cold War approach to arms control, "would preclude the U.S. de jure prerogative and de facto capability to adjust forces as necessary to fit a changing strategic environment."

Another theme in the recent debate is whether foreign and security policy should be based on "realism." Believing that nations should act only when and where it is in the national interest and not for ideological or humanitarian reasons, President Bush, National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice, and Secretary of State Colin Powell have all criticized the Clinton administration's foreign policy as having drifted into areas unrelated to maintaining the nation's security, dominance, or prosperity.

Rice and other realist members of the new administration, including Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, support a robust national missile defense system and are reluctant to intervene militarily for humanitarian reasons. They would rely less on international organizations and are inclined to take a tougher line with China, Russia, and perhaps North Korea. Rice and others have criticized the Clinton administration for aiding China through trade agreements and transfers of sensitive technology as well as for underestimating the potential for scientific espionage by exchange scientists at U.S. national laboratories.

Sebastian: Actually it requires a competent tribunal if there is any doubt.

Oh, Sebastian, not you as well? Yes. If there is any doubt that they do not fall into Article 4: that is not a free pass for any government that holds prisoners to blandly declare that since they have no doubt these prisoners are not included, they're not including them. If there is no doubt that they are included under Article 4, no tribunal is needed: Article 5 describes the process to remove a prisoner from the protection of the Geneva Convention, for which a competent tribunal is needed.

You're an intelligent, well-informed person, Sebastian: while you might have felt willing to trust the Bush administration's judgement in January 2002 that the only people who were being sent to Guantanamo Bay were people who deserved to go there, given that you know now that - thanks to the cavalier disregard of sensible provisions in the Geneva Convention - large numbers of innocent people were sent there, why are you defending this? You can see for yourself that it wasn't only criminal to decide they didn't need competent tribunals: it was criminal folly.

Liberal_Japonicus, don't you think part of the desire to figure out a working missile defense is based on the fact that the international non-proliferation agreements are so obviously breaking down? When you ask "Are you implying that we withdrew from the ABM treaty because we needed to deal with Iran?" the answer is obviously "Yes, we wanted to develop missile defense precisely because of countries like North Korea and Iran."

The ABM treaty was designed to make mutual assured destruction more assured and its success was marked by the reduction of missiles. The reduction of missiles has gone along quite nicely, and the ABM's only current (at the time we pulled out of it) function was to prevent defense from being experimented with and implemented. Since the demise of the USSR, the MAD function of the ABM treaty was gone. Its function in enforcing that was gone. The missile reduction was continuing, it wasn't neccessary for that. So withdrawing from it made perfect sense. We withdrew according to the design of the treaty. It had outlived its usefulness and its only current function was harmful to security interests. It was implemented to increase overall security by decreasing the chance of all-out nuclear war. That threat is greatly diminished, and it was now interfering with other security interests without giving a positive tradeoff in any other area. What was the security interest gained by continuing it? None. Therefore we didn't continue it. It is the same reason France and Germany abandoned many of the economic strictures of the EU in the past two years--it was hurting them more than it was helping them.

Since the demise of the USSR, the MAD function of the ABM treaty was gone. Its function in enforcing that was gone.

In short, Bush decided that the treaty had been a treaty between equals, and it wasn't any more, so the US had a perfect right to cavalierly depart from the treaty.

You can list all the benefits you think the US got by deciding to ditch the treaty, but what that amounts to is a defense of Bush's position that he will only have the US adhere to treaties so long as he perceives a clear and overwhelming benefit to the US in doing so: when he thinks there's no benefit to the US in standing by a treaty, he'll ditch the treaty.

His "allies" - or subject nations - are thus assured that the one thing they can count on under Bush is that the US will cavalierly disregard any treaties as soon as Bush thinks they no longer provide an overwhelming benefit to the US. That there might be considered to be a long-term benefit to the US in being perceived as a nation that stands by its agreements, rather than one that can't be trusted, is plainly something that's never occurred to Bush.

Sebastian Holsclaw,
Look, I'm sympathetic to the fact that you are getting it from a lot of people in this thread and that may account for your snappishness. But you really need to take a break from your keyboard if you feel the urge to jump in on other conversations in order to try and prove you are right and everyone else is wrong, wrong, wrong. I backed out and simply made a point to Slarti that viewing the ABM treaty as an 'obvious' example might not be so, well, obvious, especially in light of the suggestion that Jes wasn't being honest. That you seem to suggest that the ABM treaty withdrawal was piece of the admin's grand plan to deal with Iran (and that it is effectively the same thing as France and Germany recasting EU governance) tells me that there's not any place we are going to find agreement on this.

In short, Bush decided that the treaty had been a treaty between equals, and it wasn't any more, so the US had a perfect right to cavalierly depart from the treaty.

I think this is rather too much mind-reading to be acceptable at face value; do you expect us to believe that Bush felt that we not only were we justified in exiting from the treaty, but were justified (perhaps obligated?) in doing so cavalierly? And you've got some sort of basis for that belief?

And ok, LJ, certainly I don't expect everyone to agree, but I do expect everyone who's not hooked by talking points put out by either side to consider that perhaps there were good reasons to perform an exit. An exit that was at least a decade overdue, IMO.

Sebastian, the ABM Treaty didn't so much as thwart R&D (I spent at least a decade working on systems that, if implemented, would require major surgery or outright euthanasia of the treaty) as thwart testing. As a matter of policy and as a matter of spending, I'd suggest that folks who gripe about us having spent billions on missile defense without much to show for it examine the reason why: the ABM Treaty. I also think that discussions of Iran and discussions of the ABM Treaty withdrawal are disjoint: Iran has no capability to hit us with even a hand grenade on a missile, never mind a nuclear warhead. This may change, but it's the case at present. The ABM Treaty was scrapped, I believe (at least in part), in recognition that the USSR is no longer the sole threat to this country. Things have changed; time for a new paradigm.

Finally, the ABM Treaty didn't directly affect proliferation, which was the intent. It also clearly didn't prevent either side from having a first-strike capability. All it did was ensure that the combat would be entirely offensive, which to me is, well, offensive. And President Clinton's commitment to NMD back in the late 1990s is utterly baffling, given that the treaty would have to be scrapped or transmogrified into something almost (but not quite) entirely unlike the ABM Treaty to even allow the beginning of testing under anything resembling operational conditions.

I guess my entire point is, there's been at least a dozen years of spirited debate on whether the ABM Treaty is still meaningful and useful, and to pretend that half of that debate simply never took place and/or never had any points worth considering is to indulge in revisionism.

Finally, LJ, your comments about my turn of phrase upthread: point taken, but any heat in this discussion lies somewhere other than on this side of the screen.

I interrupt my self-imposed exile from Obsidian Wings to make the following announcement--according to the NYT today, the Bush Administration is opposed to harsh economic sanctions against Iran because they would cause suffering among ordinary Iranians and turn them against the US. The Bushies are leaning towards "smart sanctions", such as travel bans and asset freezes for high-ranking members of the Iranian government and their supporters in the private sector. As an example to be avoided, an aide to Richard Lugar points to the sanctions on Iraq, which--who'd have guessed it?--caused great suffering among ordinary Iraqis and not to Saddam and members of his ruling clique. Mrs. Merkel, once of East Germany, said that ordinary East Germans would have favored policies aimed at their commie overlords,but didn't like policies that hurt ordinary people like them. This statement may have influenced Bush. Trying to outflank the Bushies on the right, you have Democratic Senator Evan Bayh, who favors a ban on gasoline sales to Iran and other economic punishments. (Iran needs gasoline? I guess they don't have refineries, maybe?)

Kinda interesting to me, anyway. In light of this, I'm surprised Bush didn't castigate that disgusting person Madelaine Albright for her famous lapse of decorum when she admitted on Sixty Minutes that she thought the mass deaths of Iraqi children were a price worth paying to keep Saddam in his box. But I guess on the subject of dead Iraqi children neither one would be in a position to cast stones.

Okay, back to exile. The story, btw, is by Steven Weisman, on page A8 of the NYT today, if you happen to have a dead tree edition on hand.

Finally, LJ, your comments about my turn of phrase upthread: point taken, but any heat in this discussion lies somewhere other than on this side of the screen

Understood, and apologies that by carrying on the discussion with Sebastian, it made it seem that I was holding you responsible for the direction of thread, I wasn't and don't. It's just that I think we rely on you to keep things civil around here, something for which we don't thank you enough.

That's really good news about the smart sanctions. I'm glad someone in the Bush administration has the brains to realize that it matters whether or not the Iranian citizens hate us. That's exactly way airstrikes would be a very, very bad idea.

Understood, and apologies that by carrying on the discussion with Sebastian, it made it seem that I was holding you responsible for the direction of thread, I wasn't and don't. It's just that I think we rely on you to keep things civil around here, something for which we don't thank you enough.

Hey, it's just about the only purpose I do serve around here. The apology is appreciated but completely unnecessary; I just wanted to correct what I thought was a misunderstanding. I take very little of what's said here personally anymore, which from here is a much healthier place to be than the Angry Slart.

There's an excellent article on psychological bullying, by the way, over on Scribal Terror (which I really need to visit more often, but is mysteriously password-protected just now), and I think that although it's probably not anything new, it's nonetheless dead on. I'd like to keep as much of that sort of thing away from here as possible, because I don't think it has a place in debate.

"That you seem to suggest that the ABM treaty withdrawal was piece of the admin's grand plan to deal with Iran (and that it is effectively the same thing as France and Germany recasting EU governance) tells me that there's not any place we are going to find agreement on this."

Umm, ok. If you won't do anything but treat my points with public disdain (and this is the third set of points in three different areas of discussion where you have done so) we aren't only going to fail to find agreement, we are going to fail to have a discussion at all.

Jesurgislac,

One would think that you would praise the U.S. for helping out the Brits.

Guantanamo prisoners tied to London bomb probe
19 Jan 2006 04:32:34 GMT
Source: Reuters

GUANTANAMO BAY U.S. NAVAL BASE, Cuba, Jan 18 (Reuters) - Prisoners at the Guantanamo base in Cuba provided important information in connection with last summer's London transit bombings that the United States shared with authorities in the United Kingdom, the general in charge of the prison said.

You comments are enough to make one think you are ungrateful that US actions might help save British lives.

"large numbers of innocent people were sent there"

It's this kind of exaggeration that I'm talking about. Large numbers of prisoners have never even existed there. Maybe around 500 to 600.

Please tell me how many you think are innocent? Let's see what a large number looks like.

"large numbers of innocent people were sent there, why are you defending this?"

Why do you so staunchly defend terrorists? The worst of the worst are there. The ones that would kill you and your friends in a heart beat. Why are you so willing to risk other peoples lives?

If you want to castigate the Bush administration for anything it should be for releasing some from Guantanamo that have gone on to murder innnocent people. Where's your outrage about that? Are there lives worth nothing in your opinion?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A52670-2004Oct21.html>http://www.washintonpost.com

Read that article well. You are arguing in support of terrorists and murders. I guess you find guys running around Afghanistan and subjugating women more trustworthy than the Americans protecting you from them. I guess we all have different value systems.

Sleep well.

Are there any lefties out there honest enough to admit that with the release of a new tape from Bin Laden you guys seem to use the same talking points?

Who is reading from whose script?

One would think that you would praise the U.S. for helping out the Brits.

Nine British citizens were held illegally in Guantanamo Bay. Why should I "praise" the US for kidnapping British citizens and holding them illegally for years at a time? There are also at least six (perhaps more) legal British residents still held in Guantanamo Bay, kidnapped and illegally imprisoned by the US. These are crimes, Tom, or Tim, or whatever you're calling yourself. The US has neither apologized for committing these crimes against its ally, nor offered any compensation to its victims.

Umm, ok. If you won't do anything but treat my points with public disdain (and this is the third set of points in three different areas of discussion where you have done so)

Huh? Three sets? What comments are you referring to? Was it the analogy remark here? Was it this comment that I specifically said was "not particularly calling anyone out here? Was it suggesting that "I do think that the Demo Arsenal deserves more than being brushed off like that" Or was this comment or this comment? Or was it taking issue with you misstating the DA proposal? Or this one or this one? Or was there something on another thread that you've totted up, vowing that you will have your revenge? I realize that actually re-citing the comments might feel to you like public disdain, but for the real deal, try this on for size. Please note the difference between the comments above and this one below.

------------------------------
I realize that acting the hurt conservative is your shtick around here, but this kind of comment, ('You have insulted me 7 times! I've been keeping track!') bereft of content, makes you look petty and petulant and only encourages the kind of treatment you complain about. Grow up.
------------------------------

Hope that helps you recalibrate your public disdain monitor. I leave the thread to you.

Maybe I wasn't clear enough in my analogy to France and Germany in the EU.

France and Germany pushed the Stability and Growth Pact (SGP) as a series of interlocking treaties designed to restrict government spending deficits and public debt to maintain the value of the euro. It began in 1997 during the run-up to the euro, and was fully implemented by 1999. It had a number of punitive measures which could be used against members who violated the pact, and the threat of these was used against a number of the smaller countries in the EU.

When the bigger countries began to creep past the pact's allowed limits, they decided that it wasn't in their (country's) best interests to continue. Crippling the French and German economies by allowing them to fall into recession or depression wouldn't have been good for the euro.

That is how treaties work. They are entered into when they are thought to beneficial, they are exited or gutted when they have outlived their usefulness. The SGP was useful to France and Germany when it could be used as a club to threaten smaller members with. It wasn't useful to France and Germany when it hampered their prefered economic policies, so they had its provisions gutted.

That is how treaties tend to work in the real world.

The reason the US is the only one withdrawing from now-useless treaties like the ABM treaty is because it is one of the only actors left in non-proliferation and international nuclear affairs. Other countries talk a lot, but are not particularly effected by the treaties nor do they particularly intend to take action for enforcement. But as we have seen from France and Germany on treaties where they actually are impacted by the treaty--they are adopted so long as they are in the countries' interest and casually discarded when not.

The ABM treaty wasn't serving its intended purpose for anyone. Ballistic missiles had been reduced already and the threat of sparking a new arms race with Russia was non-existant. Its main purpose was done. Its only surviving effect was to make it illegal to test anti-missile defenses and illegal to implement the naval system to shoot down missiles in mid-flight. The negatives were hurting the US and the positives were non-existant. When it is all minus and no plus, withdrawing made perfect sense--and shouldn't be considered a big deal.

I realize that acting the hurt conservative is your shtick around here, but this kind of comment, ('You have insulted me 7 times! I've been keeping track!') bereft of content, makes you look petty and petulant and only encourages the kind of treatment you complain about. Grow up.

Perhaps you are unaware of your verbal bullying. I'll be happy to go over it with you.

I give specific objections to the Democracy Arsenal proposal. They focus on a lack of enforcement and a worry about perverse incentives which will make proliferation by cheating states worse than it currently is. Your response:

Not that this will make any difference, but I do think that the Demo Arsenal deserves more than being brushed off like that. Why? Because (and if you disagree with these points, feel free to back up and discuss them) we are currently in a rather dangerous stalemate about Iranian nuclear activity and we need something to unbalance the status quo.

Rather than engage my points, you label them a brush-off.

Then when called on that you write:

Yes, I disagree, but I'm trying to develop a discussion and avoid getting personal by calling you out (and letting von et al jump in).

...

Responding to the cite by claiming that you accept for the sake of argument sentence one, but enforcement isn't possible so sentence two isn't possible is simplistic at best. We were not able to enforce a lot of things during the Cold War, but the fact that we hewed to a higher moral ground meant that even if the treaties were unenforceable and were broken, we still came out on top.

Here you state that you won't address my points and continue to ignore all of my practical concerns while merely asserting that non-enforcement still leads to a win.

Then you write another post where you continue to ignore my enforcement concerns and you say:

Whatever you might think, 'drastically reducing stockpiles' and 'giving up the right to threaten other countries with nuclear arms' is not quite the same as 'unilateral disarmament' and certainly doesn't mean the US reaches a point where it doesn't have nukes. Which makes your whole line of argument about not having nuclear weapons devoid of content. And the line about not winning the Cold War without the advice of the Democracy Arsenal is pretty much all snark and nothing but the snark. Assuming the Cold War was won (go team, yay!), it was done without your advice, so I guess we can draw our own conclusions from that.

Until you treat proposals honestly instead of stuffing them into Manichean categories, there isn't much chance of discussion. Which is why I prefaced my first comment with "Not that this will make any difference". Sad to be proven right, though.

This dismisses without comment my concern that the lack of threat of a counter-strike leads to incentives which will increase proliferation by encouraging rogue states to believe that they are not subject to a counterstrike. You also continue your tradition of not only failing to address the concerns raised, but you also dismiss my concerns as dishonest and due to a flawed Manichean view. At that point you still haven't responded to me on the enforcement or the incentives issue and you have transformed the proposal on "nuclear threat" into something which is almost no change at all from current policy (which raises the question of why it is a point at all).

Not having learned my lesson, I respond substantively to you in my 4:12 post with

"All of these treaties seem to be lacking in the enforcement mechanisms you claim are absolutely required."

The successful treaties you mention tended to be bilateral. The multilateral ones have tended to be much less successful.

"I disagree that that the NPT has floundered simply because of the lack of enforcement mechanism, it floundered because of the loophole of the right to develop nuclear power."

The two issues are related. The 'loophole' is exploitable because there is no enforcement mechanism. I don't understand how you can be so indifferent to enforcement. If there is no or little enforcement, what good is the treaty? Iran just does what it wants, violates the treaty and nothing particularly bad happens to Iran. You seem to have a very different idea of a successful treaty than I do. For me a treaty is not successful just because it gets people to sign it. It is successful if it actually changes behaviour. The treaty you are outlining seems to do almost nothing to stop rogue states like North Korea or Iran from gaining nuclear weapons. The proposal would make a "different dynamic" I'm sure. Unfortunately the different dynamic would involve increased proliferation.

You provide no mechanism by which this would work to change things. The proposal goes from unilateral arms reduction to reduced proliferation with no explanatory steps as if it were obvious. You decry the need for enforcement mechanisms, which leaves us with what exactly? When a country cheats on the treaty, what happens to them? Or for some reason is the idea so intrinsically powerful that I'm not allowed to hypothesize a country cheating on the treaty?

Your response on the enforcement issue is to quote a negotiator on "trust but verify". This response ignores that the problem I have constantly stated is what enforcement is available to allow real verification, and what do we intend to do if the verification turns up a program that is disallowed under the treaty.

You also say:

As for treaties being bilateral, I believe that 4 of the 7 I mentioned are multilateral, (CBT, NPT, BWC and CWC) Perhaps you feel that these are the ones that have been unsuccessful, but it would be nice if you were explicit and explained why they were/are less than successful. The number of biological and chemical acts we have had is?

Frankly I found this somewhat surprising since the failure of the CBT and NPT is exactly why we are having this conversation, but foolishly I pressed on by pointing out that biological weapons tend to not be used because they can too easily spread back to your own population (practical and legalistic concerns) and that chemical weapons have indeed been used to no noticeable enforcement consequence.

After having suggested that I don't "honestly" respond to the Democratic Arsenal request, you turn around and worry Slarti about his use of "honestly hold" saying: "I think the are arguable points, and turning up the temperature is not altogether helpful."

Then on the ABM treaty, you refuse to engage either Slarti or myself when we repeatedly talk about why the US withdrew from it.

Sebastian, I think you are just trying to score process points. Are you implying that we withdrew from the ABM treaty because we needed to deal with Iran? Just for the record, I find proposing airstrikes to be subsumed in the definition of cavalier, so strictly speaking, just because you are doing something to deal with Iran does not exclude the possibility of being cavalier. In fact, the admin's dealings with North Korea strike me as complete undergirded by disregard of the opinions of others. which I think is the definition of cavalier.

[This of course ignores the fact that the key complaint about North Korean diplomacy for almost three years was that the US didn't want to engage in exclusively bilateral negotiations with North Korea. But by this point it should have been clear that you weren't discussing substance anway]

You also say:

You can say we withdrew from it because it made the "research" we wanted to do illegal, but the word 'research' is a bit of smoke and mirrors there, as the National Missile Defense was a bit more than guys tinkering in the lab. It also marked the first time the US had withdrawn from an arms treaty.

This is a silly response, since research involves testing. And the second sentence is even sillier if you can't (and you don't) defend the usefulness of the ABM treaty.

Which led to my European analogy. Your response:

But you really need to take a break from your keyboard if you feel the urge to jump in on other conversations in order to try and prove you are right and everyone else is wrong, wrong, wrong. I backed out and simply made a point to Slarti that viewing the ABM treaty as an 'obvious' example might not be so, well, obvious, especially in light of the suggestion that Jes wasn't being honest. That you seem to suggest that the ABM treaty withdrawal was piece of the admin's grand plan to deal with Iran (and that it is effectively the same thing as France and Germany recasting EU governance) tells me that there's not any place we are going to find agreement on this.

This reiterates your complaint about ratcheting up rhetoric over "honesty" when you (as quoted above) did the same thing. And if you didn't understand the European analogy and why I used it, you could have asked. Instead you continue your thread-long game of failing to engage substantive points while dripping with disdain.

You end with: "Hope that helps you recalibrate your public disdain monitor."

Rather ironic considering...


I am sorry, Sebastian, that you feel so put upon. To explain, "honestly" and "Manichian" refers to you implying that the Demo Arsenal proposal required that the US unilaterally disarm. I asked you if that is what you meant and you 'brushed it off', to use your term. I meant to focus on your inability to admit that you misstated the proposal. Sorry if that was misunderstood.

"Process points" referred to the fact that you jumped in between Slarti and I over something that was not related to the any discussion you had even touched on, despite tortured attempts to make it so.

I also thank you for the detailed discussion about the links between the ABM treaty and EU governance. I'm not precisely sure how the changing of debt targets and such equates to one side completely pulling out of a 30 year treaty, but please don't go into further detail for my benefit, as my point about the ABM treaty was simply that there are two sides to everything, just as it is probably not an unalloyed good that France and Germany rewrite the rules to suit themselves.

Since those were apparently the three instances, I hope that sets your mind at ease. While I appreciate you paying such close attention to what I wrote, I will again suggest that you need to take a break as you seem rather brittle getting upset about basically two sentences. O daiji ni.

No, I got upset about the fact that you refused to engage my points (you still have not even tried to deal with the enforcement issue) while repeatedly complaining that I was avoiding the discussion. I don't care if you refuse to substantively engage my points. People write on whatever they choose to write on, I understand that.

But I do get annoyed when you refuse to engage the substance, instead call them dishonest, and then complain that I am not taking things seriously while making repeated suggestions that I'm not being fair to the conversation.

No, I got upset about the fact that you refused to engage my points (you still have not even tried to deal with the enforcement issue) while repeatedly complaining that I was avoiding the discussion.

I, OTOH, have, and I'm still waiting for a clarification of your position.

you still have not even tried to deal with the enforcement issue

Morning Sebastian
One doesn't enter treaties because they are perfectly enforceable, and one doesn't even enter in them because they are enforceable thru the treaties themselves. For some treaties, the fact that they are unenforceable allows them to be enacted and, hopefully, in the future, a coalition would develop to enable enforcement, or a desire to be plugged in to the rest of the world would force the countries themselves to reconsider (as well as provide the other countries with further leverage). This is why stateless groups are such a problem, because they have no geographic nexus on which focus pressure. Treaties exist not simply as articles to be enforced, but as statements that allow an international norm to coalesce around. As such, treaties exist to set up moral high ground, and have done so for at least the time after WWII if not longer. Thus, I view your discussion of the enforcement issue as unrelated to the points that Halperin was making.

Lastly, I would point out that I only engaged you specifically when you started calling me out by name. I scrupulously avoiding specifically invoking your name or any specific points that you made. If you felt anything that I said constituted a personal insult (I've explained the three instances that you noted, so I hope you can see that those comments were in regard to specific aspects of the conversation, not accusing you of always being dishonest, or Manichean or always trying to score process points), I apologize unreservedly.

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