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Tilting at Windmills

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December 15, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

JAW JAW....This isn't really anything new, but it's still freshly astounding whenever I hear it:

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice yesterday rejected a bipartisan panel's recommendation that the United States seek the help of Syria and Iran in Iraq, saying the "compensation" required by any deal might be too high. She argued that neither country should need incentives to foster stability in Iraq.

"If they have an interest in a stable Iraq, they will do it anyway," Rice said in a wide-ranging interview with Washington Post reporters and editors.

This is, basically, an argument for never negotiating with anyone. After all, why bother if states will simply do what they want to do regardless? (cf. President Bush's belief that Syria already "knows my position.")

Conservatives often accuse liberals of elevating negotiation into an end in itself. It's a fatuous charge, but its mirror image isn't: as a matter of principle, contemporary conservatives really do seem to have broadly rejected even the concept of negotiating with our enemies. I guess you could armchair psychoanalyze this belief forever, but I imagine it's mostly caused by a fear that they might actually succeed. Take a look at Iraq: in the end, it acquiesced to every American demand in 2002 and 2003, and that just made it harder to gain support for the invasion we wanted.

It's no wonder Bush hates the idea. He's probably afraid the same thing might happen with Syria.

Kevin Drum 12:52 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (160)

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Comments

KD, are Syria and Iran "enemies"?

It seems wrong to label countries like Syria and Iran as "enemies".

Are we at war with Syria or Iran?
Are we engaged in a proxy war with Syria or Iran?

If not, by what definition are Syria and Iran enemies?

Posted by: Carl Nyberg on December 15, 2006 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

In fairness, I think she's asking, why negotiate with people who will want concessions you can't give, especially if they may do what you want anyway out of self interest?

It's not an argument against all negotiation. Most negotiation occurs with people who don't share your goals - but I think it's reasonable to assume that Iran and Syria don't want chaos in Iraq, or rather, they don't want chaos in Iraq if U.S. troops are no longer there.

Which is an argument for why Bush should announce that the U.S. won't build permanent bases in Iraq and will leave the country over the next year. That might be the only concession needed.

Posted by: Matt D on December 15, 2006 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

I imagine it's mostly caused by a fear that they might actually succeed.

I would add to that:

-- Negotiation, to succeed, almost inevitably requires actual compromise, which is anathema to the black-and-white worldview of hard-core Bush supporters (and quite possibly to Bush himself)

-- Negotiation implies you're not winning flat-out, and ditto above comment re the Base

-- Negotiation requires intelligence and patience, both of which have famously been lacking in the Bush administration's behavior

-- Negotiation would weaken the Republicans' political position, by opening them to future charges of "losing Iraq" (forgetting, for the moment, that they already have), while not negotiating and simply running out the clock insulates them somewhat

Posted by: bleh on December 15, 2006 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

Take a look at Iraq: in the end, it acquiesced to every American demand in 2002 and 2003, and that just made it harder to gain support for the invasion we wanted.

Who's this "we" you refer to?

But you're right -- the fact that Iraq acceded to the UN's demand, but the Bush administration proceeded as if they weren't, made it perfectly obvious that these scum were hellbent on going to war regardless.

But what Rice's position -- the "compensation" required by any deal might be too high -- unintentionally reveals is the weakness of American's bargaining position, thanks to the failure of the Administration she serves.

As I've said before, it's sadly comforting that Bush and his merry band of criminals have ruined not only the Bush family name but the GOP's decades-long branding effort as "strong on defense."

Posted by: Gregory on December 15, 2006 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

"If they have an interest in a stable Iraq, they will do it anyway," Rice said in a wide-ranging interview with Washington Post reporters and editors.

This is, basically, an argument for never negotiating with anyone. After all, why bother if states will simply do what they want to do regardless?

You're missing the point. If Syria is a good country, it would do the right thing irregardless of what we Americans are willing to give in exchange. For example, suppose somebody was only willing to not a commit a murder if he was paid lots of money. Would you consider him be a good person? Of course not. That's because good people don't murder and they don't need to be paid to not murder.

For the same reason, since having a stable Iraq is the good thing to do, if Syria was a good country, they would help create a stable Iraq and wouldn't need to be compensated by American taxpayers to do that. That they aren't willing to help create a stable Iraq without being compensated shows Syria is a bad country and therefore we should not be giving in to their blackmail by talking to them.

Posted by: Al on December 15, 2006 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

Remember that the primary goal of Republicans is politics, not policy. Additionally, they think (and it's often true) that war is more popular than peace.

All the other crap follows.

Negotiations are bad not because they accomplish bad outcomes. Negotiations are bad because pounding your chest is more popular.

Posted by: reino on December 15, 2006 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

Haven't you figured it out, George Bush is the decider. Deciders don't talk to people they just issue edicts announcing their decisions.

Amerian foreign policy is built around Bush's unchecked belief in his own power.

What surprises me is that Condi, having spent some time now at the State Department, is still just as divorced from reality as her beloved.

By the way, we talked to the old Soviet Union all throughout the cold war. We negoitated with Hitler prior to WWII and were talking to the Japanese as late as December 6, 1941. I recall reading long ago that we had back channel communication with the Nazis all throughout WWII via our respective diplomats in Switzerland.

This crap about not talking to your adversaries (they are not enemies by any definition of the word)has no real precident in the history of American diplomacy. It is simply a reflection of childish thinking by the President. It opens us up to a real disaster.

Posted by: Ron Byers on December 15, 2006 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

"If they have an interest in a stable Iraq, they will do it anyway," Rice said in a wide-ranging interview with Washington Post reporters and editors.

Similarly, if the Soviet Union had had an interest in nuclear arms control they would have reduced their nuclear stockpiles anyway, which is why Ronald Reagan never negotiated with them....oh, wait. Never mind.

Posted by: Stefan on December 15, 2006 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

Bush's basic argument is that we won't negotiate unless the other party agrees in advance to what we want the result of the negotiation to be. E.g., we won't negotiate with Iran about their nuclear program until they stop their nuclear program.

Rice is saying we won't negotiate because we are afraid the result might not be what we want; i.e, they might out-negotiate us.

As to whether Syria will help Iraq because of their interest in its stability, countries have multiple interests. Syria no doubt has an interest in a stable Iraq, but it might feel it has a greater interest in a US whose military is sapped by the Iraq war until we are too weak to invade Syria.

Posted by: anandine on December 15, 2006 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

Can we begin negotiations to have Bush and Cheney step down? I consider them the enemy.

Posted by: ckelly on December 15, 2006 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

By the way, Kevin's post title refers to Churchill's famous quote that "jaw, jaw is better than war, war."

Except to the neocons and their chickenhawk cheerleaders, it isn't. They want war. And why not? From their perspective the risk/benefit equation is all roses. Hell, Bush still insists on paying for his pet war with a tax cut.

Posted by: Gregory on December 15, 2006 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

Eh, negotiation, as an ongoing process for accommodating a variety of interests, really is an end. Like democracy.

Posted by: Model 62 on December 15, 2006 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

Funny that Ron Byers mentioned our negotiating with Japan on the brink of war.

I was thinking of the opposite version of that - I believe that Shrub would like to conduct negotiations with Syria and Iran the way Japan "negotiated with us" - I wonder which emissaires of ours will be entering the halls of government in Damascus and Tehran to deliver our demands as the cruise missiles land.

Oh well, they will be simply expendable for "The Cause".

Posted by: thethirdPaul on December 15, 2006 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

in the end, it acquiesced to every American demand

Well, except for, you know, complying with the terms of the Gulf War cease-fire, which required Iraq to document the destruction and termination of its WMD programs. The criterion was not "our inspectors can't find anything", it was positive proof to be produced by Iraq, much like South Africa's proof of termination of its nuclear-weapons program.

Posted by: Shelby on December 15, 2006 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

This is what you get when you appoint as Secretary of State someone who has no experience in, prediliction for, or ablility to conduct diplomacy. Nor does she seem to even know what the word "diplomacy" means.

Of course she's perfectly in sync with the Little Idiot, who decides based, apparently, on nothing but prayer and the received Word of Gawd, and who therefore does not need to talk with anyone except those who agree with him.

"Negotiation" is a dirty word to them. You can make plans with your friends (or should I say "friend" as in Tony Blair), but to talk with your enemies is weakness personified. And for the Little Idiot the appearance of strength is obviously more important than actual strength.

Posted by: Cal Gal on December 15, 2006 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

As a lifelong democrat, I never thought I would say this, but oh how I long for the days of Ronald Reagan. Say what you will about him, but he and those around him clearly had a far more mature view of statesmanship than the current administration does. And Reagan's administration show that you could have the cock-swinging swagger that the Bushies are so fond of AND negotiate with our enemies.

I just look forward to the day the adults are in charge again.

Posted by: nobody on December 15, 2006 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

I should add to my 1:21 comment that while that legitimated the Iraq war, it didn't make it a good idea.

Posted by: Shelby on December 15, 2006 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

is condi dave littlefield in drag?

Posted by: mudwall jackson on December 15, 2006 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK
In fairness, I think she's asking, why negotiate with people who will want concessions you can't give, especially if they may do what you want anyway out of self interest?

Stupid question. If they aren't doing it already, they clearly don't think it is in their own self-interest. One purpose of discussions would be to convince them that it is in their self-interest, whether or not you offer concessions. Of course, you don't offer concessions you aren't willing to give, so the fact that they might ask for concessions you aren't willing to give is irrelevant.

Posted by: cmdicely on December 15, 2006 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

Not only do they want war, they want, and have positioned so it is the only option to fulfill their desire, one-side nuclear war.

These people will go down, but they will take the rest of us with us.

If George H.W. Bush and John McCain want to leave a good legacy, now is the time to publicly intervene.

AI - there is no such word as irregardless. It's either regardless or irrespective.

Posted by: hopeless pedant on December 15, 2006 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

Al,

Your reasoning is flawed on so many levels, its hard to know where to begin. First of all, we aren't asking Syria to not commit murder. We are asking them to involve themselves in the affairs of a sovereign nation. Big difference. Most reasonable nations, the United States is an exception, rightfully DON'T meddle in the internal affairs of other countries. That we would incentivize Syria, or Nauru for that matter, to assist us in Iraq makes perfect sense.
Further, what divine insight enables you to discern which countries are "good" vs. "bad"? Are we "good" when we invade Iraq? Was the Soviet Union "bad" when they invaded Afghanistan? Why is there a difference? Don't say intent, since the reasons Bush gave in the first place have been shown to be lies. Is Uzbekistan "good"? And is Cuba "bad"?? Why?? Uzbekistan's leader has killed more people than Castro, but Bush plays pattycake with him.

Bush, Rice and Cheney are all criminally insane. Why in God's name did Nancy Pelosi rule out impeachment? That is the only hope of getting rid of these vermin before they lead us into Armageddon.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on December 15, 2006 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

Isn't one of the great benefits of being the World's Only Super Power that you can often get your way through negotiation alone?

Posted by: Boronx on December 15, 2006 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

Shelby: We want to war over ...paperwork?

Posted by: Model 62 on December 15, 2006 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

Take a look at Iraq: in the end, it acquiesced to every American demand in 2002 and 2003, and that just made it harder to gain support for the invasion we wanted.

That's a peculiar thing to say. Even Hans Blix, who opposed the invasion, acknowledged in his report that the Iraqis were defying the U.N. Security Council resolution. I believe he used the word "regretably" or some such.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on December 15, 2006 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

We are battling to reduce the power of terrorist states in the middle east. That's the underpinning of why the war in Ifraq is so important. Syria and Iran are two terrorist states trying to increase their power. Yet, some here say we need to talk to them. Talk to them about what?

Should we agree to let them destroy Israel, in hope that they will then stop supporting the enemies of democracy in Iraq and Lebanon? If that's your point, please say so straight out.

Should we offer money to Iran if they will stop supporting terrorism? But, Iran has plenty of money. I don't think that will work with them. Also, a practice of paying protection money to potential enemies will encourage other countries to support terrorism with the intent of being bought off.

I think we should support our allies and oppose our enemies. Centuries of experience in foreign affairs have shown that approach to be more fruitful than the reverse.

Posted by: ex-liberal on December 15, 2006 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

The Bush administration has turned failure into an art form.

They'd rather fail in Iraq militarily than look weak politically (yet alone admit they were wrong).

The only way you can still be a Bush supporter is if you're completely ignorant of what's happening, profiting from them, have a thug mentality, or are cheering on the Rapture. Sickeningly those constituents collectively add up to about 30% of the population.

Posted by: Augustus on December 15, 2006 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

A bit off-thread, but I've been wondering for some time now the origin of the "never negotiate," empire-loving, "bipartisanship is the equivalent of date rape" psychology of the current crop of Republicans.

Bush and his crew have taken divisiveness to a new extreme. Not only are we at war in Iraq, we're at war here at home. Didn't Bush say recently that he was surprised that Dems and Repubs could work together to produce a report like the ISG? Really? Why should he be so surprised about that?

It's because he looks at everyone who's not on his team as an adversary. The Gingrichian practice of not inluding anyone from the other side in one's considerations.

Where did this come from? Guess I'll ask my girlfriend the psychoanalyst.

Posted by: Wonderin on December 15, 2006 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

The Conservative Deflator: "Why in God's name did Nancy Pelosi rule out impeachment?"

Because, like most of the Democratic leadership, she is an unprincipled, craven bootlicker of corporate power and she takes her orders from the fatcats who control the flow of big bucks to the Democratic Party.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on December 15, 2006 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

nobody: As a lifelong democrat, I never thought I would say this, but oh how I long for the days of Ronald Reagan.

I too am starting to miss Ronnie Raygun. And Pat Buchanan is starting to make sense. Eh, I think that says something about the current crew.

Posted by: alex on December 15, 2006 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

Matt D. In fairness, I think she's asking, why negotiate with people who will want concessions you can't give, especially if they may do what you want anyway out of self interest?

I think she is also asking why negotiate with other parties when you are convinced that they will not live up to their side of the bargain. No matter what Syria and Iran agree to do, once American forces leave Iraq Syria and Iran will ignore any agreements that they have signed. Don't forget, the Koran advises MUslims to sign agreements with Infidels with the intention of breaking them as soon as possible. Hitler and Ho acted that way without the Koranic injuunction, of course, so dishonesty in diplomatic negotiation is not a uniquely Muslim trait. The United States did the same with Indian tribes, but latterly the U.S. had been forced to adhere to more of the treaty agreements than formerly.

Still, why negotiate when you have a conviction in advance that the agreement will be violated? U.S. withdrawal will have to be conditional on Syria and Iran first halting support for the factions inside Iraq, and that requires no negotiations even to begin.

There are already U.N.S.C. resolutions requiring Syria to stay out of Lebanon, and Syria is in vilation of those. Syria is already under embargo, and that is not effecting any good outcome. Syria still is in violation of UN resolution 242 requiring it to negotiate with Israel over the terms of Israeli withdrawal from occupied Syrian territories: Syria wants the concession first.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on December 15, 2006 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

We are battling to reduce the power of terrorist states in the middle east. That's the underpinning of why the war in Ifraq is so important. Syria and Iran are two terrorist states trying to increase their power. Yet, some here say we need to talk to them. Talk to them about what?

Posted by: ex-liberal on December 15, 2006 at 1:45 PM

We all would expect that kind of thinking from a rabid fan of the President, so you are excused for being naive in the extreme, but we wouldn't expect that kind of thinking from the President. His job is far too complex to be reduced to a bumper sticker. There is no excuse for his insistence that his job is no more complicated than a bumper sticker. That is why I find the one page briefing memos to be one of the most obnoxious aspects of his presidency. Instead of indulging him some grown up should have told him the Presidency is Yale. There are no cliff notes for the presidency.

In answer to your question, the reason to negotiate is to avoid unnecessary human casualties and loss of national treasure.

The world is a dangerous place. Every country has many adversaries. There are lots of ways to engage with those adversaries. War is just one of them. A smart ruler wants to engage with his adversaries in the order, in the way and at the time of his choosing. Negotiate gives you an opportunity to engage your adversaries in the order, in the way and at the time of your choosing.

You might want to read "The Art of War" by Sun Tzu. You might learn something.

Posted by: Ron Byers on December 15, 2006 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

If this stuff were coming from the provost at some West Coast educational institution, it might be tolerable, though it would still be ignorant. Coming from the U.S. Secretary of State, it just proves that even after six years of bullheaded idiocy, this administration can still astonish.

The question is obvious: Madame Secretary, if you don't do diplomacy, just what is it you're doing at the State Department?

Posted by: clem on December 15, 2006 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

Negotiation *may be* an end in itself. Vis a vis North Korea, for example---suppose we can spend 20 years dragging them through an endless series of talks; giving the appearance of always being on the verge of a breakthrough; occassionally allowing them a victory (even one embarrassing to us) to keep them coming back to the table. If the alternative is "drop bombs, clean up all consequences, risk regional war"---well, frankly, 20 years of bleak, fruitless negotiations sounds like a darn good alternative.

Posted by: Ben M on December 15, 2006 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

the origin of the "never negotiate,"

Simple. When your orders come from the One True God, why negotiate with anyone? Especially anyone whose One True God is different from yours and thus must be Satan?

It would be grossly oversimplifying to say that monotheism is the root of violence, but it has undeniably been used to justify a lot of it over the last few millenia.

Posted by: thersites on December 15, 2006 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

"jaw, jaw is better than war, war."

Churchill also refused to negotiate with Germans who opposed Hitler. He said "Let dog eat dog."

Stefan above rightly refers to the fact that the U.S. and U.S.S.R. signed treaties to reduce nuclear weapons totals, treaties that had verification procedures and benchmarks written into them.

Chamberlain (1938) and Nixon-Kissinger (1974) accepted treaties that led to conquest of third parties who expected better protection against the conquests.

Syria and Iran want the U.S. to leave so that their interests can prevail in the subsequent wars. The U.S. wants the elected government to prevail in the current civil war, and to have regularly scheduled, competitive fair elections repeatedly in the future. There isn't a common interest.

This lack of a common interest is why negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians never have lasting success.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on December 15, 2006 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

Shelby:

That certainly wasn't the conclusion of either Hans Blix's or Mohammed ElBaradei's final reports regarding the status of Saddam's alleged WMD programs.

I'm not going to repeat the catchphrase "you can't prove a negative" and have cmidicely smack that around for imprecision -- but I will say this:

When you're up for a murder charge, the ball isn't in your court to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that you couldn't possibly have murdered the person (a negative). The burden of proof is on the state, to make the case that you did (a positive).

Documents, schmockuments. Iraq could've *made up* documents. The evidence that Blix and ElBaradei were looking for clearly wasn't there -- and furthermore, inspecting their infrastructure demonstrated to both of them that both the post-Gulf war brain drain of top-notch scientists and the decrepit physical infrastructure made it exceedingly unlikely that Saddam had anything up his sleeve.

And this was confirmed in spades after the invasion. Fancy that.

The WMD "case" most assuredly did *not* justify the invasion.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on December 15, 2006 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin this is a silly argument.

Iran and Syria have no interest whatsoever in a 'stable' Iraq, as we (you OR I) might define it. Both countries are in fact fomenting trouble in Iraq.

Why? Because it suits their purposes.

Now perhaps, as Ron Byers writes, one might find a way to engage either or both countries to peel them away from whatever policies that causes them to see trouble in Iraq as useful. To be able to do so at a lower cost to us than the other alternatives would be, in fact, the very reason to try negotiation.

Except that it won't work. It won't work because both countries have made very clear what they want in return, and President Bush has made clear he won't give them what they want.

What do they want: Syria wants the Golan returned to them. This is the Golan they lost when they attacked Israel. It's not ours to return it, and we have no business strong-arming the Israelis to return in the absence of some substantial concession from the Syrians to Israel (which the Syrians haven't been willing to do, e.g., a signed peace treaty).

Syria also wants a free hand in Lebanon, since they see Lebanon as their rightful colony. And they want the Palestinian issue settled, even while they continue to aid and sponsor Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups.

They might as well ask for a pony.

Iran wants us out of the Middle East altogether so that they can pursue their goal of radical Shi'a hegemony over the region. That's their price for their 'help' in Iraq. That means of course that they would end up dictating the terms in Iraq since we'd be gone.

That's the price. You'd pay it. I wouldn't.

Posted by: Steve White on December 15, 2006 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

Ben M. If the alternative [to endless talking] is "drop bombs, clean up all consequences, risk regional war"---well, frankly, 20 years of bleak, fruitless negotiations sounds like a darn good alternative.

Ben, the trouble is that "drop bombs" is more like the consequence of endless talking than the alternative to it. Why? Because Iran and NK won't stop their developmenet of nuclear weapons and missiles while we're talking.

Once these countries have nuclear arsenals and the means to deliver them, Heaven only knows what they will do. Whatever it is, years of fruitless talking won't prevent them from doing it.

Posted by: ex-liberal on December 15, 2006 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

I think the reason we're backing away from talking to Syria and Iran is that we have already approached them through back channels, indirectly through the media, and (tentatively) officially.

Their response was, "bite me, America". Can anyone blame them? How would the US respond to a country that had been verbally threatening it for a few years, then asked it to come pull it's bacon from the fire?.

Strange to see the sabre-rattling conservatives, who after claiming to want regime change in Syria and Iran, go begging to these governments for help. Syria and Iran are more than glad to see the US get stuck with the tar baby in Iraq.

They don't see too much risk from a civil war in a neighboring country, and I think that's a realistic assessment. (Nobody in the real world buys this "breeding ground for terrorists" schtick except for mainstream media neo-cons and conventional wisdom machines).

After the Baker report restarted the "negotiation narrative" the administration is just trying to back away from it without saying, "Syria and Iran told us to fuck ourselves - there's nothing in it for them (helping the US?) and there's no real bad consequences if they don't help.

Saudi Arabia is a different story.

Posted by: luci on December 15, 2006 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

To extend on what Bob writes: It was clearly a binding obligation under the Security Council resolutions imposing a cease-fire on all parties at the end of the 1991 Gulf War for Iraq to account for its WMD programs, not merely to cease them.

It was likewise an obligation under those same resolutions, and the UN Charter, for the US to respect the soveriegnty and territorial integrity of Iraq. Under the UN Charter, the only legal justification for the US resorting to force against Iraq so long as those binding resolutions were in place, without a specific authority from the Security Council lifting the cease-fire, would be an actual attack by Iraq.

The US action was illegal under the very same resolutions it claimed it was enforcing.

Posted by: cmdicely on December 15, 2006 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

Some questions for you Steve White. Are Syria and Iran natural allies? Is a full blown shooting war in Iran's best interests? Why? Isn't Iran predominantly an oil power? Screwing up the shipping lanes would naturally interupt the ability of Iran to sell oil? Wouldn't it. Doesn't Syria want to run an Iraqi oil pipeline through its country? Is a shooting war in Syria's best interests? Why? Who would be the Syrian foe in any such war? Who would Al Qaeda support? Why?

Finally hasn't the Iraq war pretty much convinced you that you can't install democracy at the point of a gun? Isn't it still a good idea for America to promote democracy in the middle east? What tools might we still have available to promote democracy? Do we need a standing army to use those tools?

Explain to me again why the US wouldn't want to spend time talking to both Iran and Syria?

Posted by: Ron Byers on December 15, 2006 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

Marler, You are wrong about Blix. Essentially the only problem came down to the fact that Saddam couldn't prove he had destroyed, say, 700 tons of chemical weapons instead of 600.

Secondly, from your vast knowledge of the inner talks of Arabic-speaking countries, you opine:
"Syria and Iran want the U.S. to leave so that their interests can prevail in the subsequent wars."

As someone above pointed out, reality doesn't fit in a one-liner.

Posted by: mcdruid on December 15, 2006 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

KD sez: "In the end, Iraq acquiesced to every American demand in 2002 and 2003."

Frazier sez: Kevin Drum - you are either a liar or a poor historian.

I say - Iraq complied substantitively with most all demands from UNSCOM and the IAEA in the 2002/2003 period. Over 500 inspections, absolutely ZERO hindering of the inspection teams, no restrictions on their movements, and absolutely nothing found in the thousands of chemical analyses performed. Destroying the missiles that were just slightly over the distance restrictions.

They only were having trouble getting the interviews with scientists, and with documenting the destruction of pre-Gulf War I chemical weapons (mostly long-inert mustard gas shells, but also Sarin).

Posted by: luci on December 15, 2006 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

"If they have an interest in a stable Iraq, they will do it anyway"

Well, we should have an interest in a stable Iraq...

Interests are always a matter of calculation and therefore transform according to changing conditions.

The Bush Administration's actions are always aimed at gaining and maintaining the most political power; they never waver from it. It is therefore not in their interest to negotiate with Syria and Iran.

One must not confuse the ends.

Posted by: Pothique on December 15, 2006 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

In fairness, I think she's asking, why negotiate with people who will want concessions you can't give, especially if they may do what you want anyway out of self interest

Syria and Iran are not giving us what we want in Iraq and are unlikely to do so on their own. The negotiation should be to arrive at a mutually agreeable result.

If you can't figure that out you shouldn't be Secretary of State.

Posted by: tomeck on December 15, 2006 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

tomeck and Ron Byers -- I see no sensible offer we could make to Syria and Iran in exchange for ending their support for terrorists in Iraq (and Lebanon, while we're at it). What do you think we should offer?

Posted by: ex-liberal on December 15, 2006 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

Iraqi refugees flood into Syria:

Since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003 as many as two million civilians searching for sanctuary have fled into neighbouring countries like Syria, Jordan and Iran.
They are ill-equipped to cope. The pressure group Refugees International calls it the fastest growing humanitarian crisis in the world.
Just up the road from the stranded Palestinians, the Syrian border crossing at al-Tanaf feels like a safe haven for Iraqis who make it this far.
Cars and trucks are packed with possessions. But for most people, escaping into exile, the future is uncertain.
"I'll find a place to stay, anywhere I can afford," Mohammed Abu Muhy says. "Everyone is leaving Iraq."
And they bring everything they can carry. Expressionless faces look on as border guards rummage through their worldly goods.
The numbers are staggering - at least three quarters of a million Iraqis have fled to Syria alone. And every month the rate of arrival is higher than it has been before.

Syria has no reason to negotiate and no incentive for a stable Iraq.

/sarcasm

Posted by: dagger on December 15, 2006 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

Iraq complied substantitively with most all demands from UNSCOM and the IAEA in the 2002/2003 period. Over 500 inspections, absolutely ZERO hindering of the inspection teams, no restrictions on their movements, and absolutely nothing found in the thousands of chemical analyses performed.

No, that's not true in any sense of the word. The Iraqis restricted access to Saddam Hussein's palaces and used a number of tactics to cheat as much as they could.

Remember, in 1997, they kicked out the inspectors. Why? Why did they kick them out if they had nothing to hide? Well, perhaps because the inspectors were close to proving Iraq either did have WMD or did not have WMD--in either case, the finding would either expose Iraq to further sanction or possible attack from its neighbors.

As to what they did prior to the US invasion--which was, not complying with the inspection process--this is not what an innocent nation would do, you know. It is my firm belief that they did so not because they were hiding something but because they did not want their immediate neighbors (Saudi Arabia and Iran) to know how weak and vulnerable they were.

The thread of WMD was what somewhat stabilized the region and the United States was absolutely correct for invading Iraq to ensure that they did not have these weapons.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on December 15, 2006 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, everyone knows that all countries just lovev a mass of refugees teeming on their borders.

The Iraqi diaspora has displaced, iirc, 1.8 million who have fled the country and an equal number is internally displaced.

The Iraqi diaspora, in 3 1/2 short years, has grow to such size it will soon rival the palestinian diaspora, which includes all refugees and their descendants since 1948.

Posted by: Global Citizen on December 15, 2006 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

tomeck and Ron Byers -- I see no sensible offer we could make to Syria and Iran in exchange for ending their support for terrorists in Iraq (and Lebanon, while we're at it). What do you think we should offer?

You're right. Since, according to you, we can't make them any offers, and since, according to reality, we can't force them to stop, then we're just going to have to accept them doing whatever they want and shut up about it. Oh well....

Posted by: Stefan on December 15, 2006 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

It has more to do with the arrogance of the conservatives and their colonial mindset.

I think they all want to replicate the British Empire so each of them can get a nation for himself to rule the natives as a Viceroy.

Posted by: gregor on December 15, 2006 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

Excellent article on the mysteries of the Ambassador's resignation,

Concluding,

While Bandar and Rihab Massoud allegedly have affirmed Cheney's views and are perceived to be Bush administration sycophants, Turki was charting a more realist course for Saudi interests and advising the White House to develop more serious, constructive strategies toward the region that would produce stability and not lead to "a terrorist super-highway stretching from Iran through Iraq and rushing through Syria and Jordan to the edge of Israel."

Posted by: cld on December 15, 2006 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely: Under the UN Charter, the only legal justification for the US resorting to force against Iraq so long as those binding resolutions were in place, without a specific authority from the Security Council lifting the cease-fire, would be an actual attack by Iraq.

Is that true? The U.N. and U.S. declared war on Iraq, and the conditions on Iraq permitted the cease-fire. When U.N. resolution 1442 asserted that Iraq was clearly in violation of the cease-fire and that "serious consequences" would ensue if it did not immediately come into full compliance on schedule, and when Hans Blix' report docummented that Iraq was not indeed in full compliance, Why was any other action necessary for U.S. forces to resume the combat (the serious consequences) that had been interrupted? Once the U.N. declared that Iraq was in violation of the terms of the cease-fire, why was another U.N. declaration of war necessary?

If your reasoning has any implications to Iraq, why does it not also require that all foreign troops be withdrawn from the Balkans, where the U.N. never declared war; or indeed Afghanistan where the Taliban are no longer the government and where the government never participated in the 911 attacks?

When NATO fought the war against Yugoslavia, most of the war consisted of a U.S. air war against the civilian infrastructure of Yugoslavia. Nobody seems to have objected that this was a violation of the U.N. charter, certainly not very many Democratic opponents of the Iraq invasion, and certainly not many EU opponents of the Iraq invasion.

If you grant that legal cases are never quite airtight, I think the case can be made that the U.S. invasion of Iraq had more legal justification than some other military actions that have less opposition. For whatever reason (and to whatever legal effect) the U.N. remained neutral to the U.S. invasion of Iraq; the U.S. abandoned its attempt to get a resolution of support, and no one even attempted to get a resolution in opposition. As soon as the Baathist regime was overthrown, the U.N. recognized the new regime, sent aid, and took credit for early progress (when there was early progress.)

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on December 15, 2006 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan: Since, according to you, we can't make them any offers, and since, according to reality, we can't force them to stop, then we're just going to have to accept them doing whatever they want and shut up about it. Oh well....

Stefan, your (unstated) argument seems to be that force has not succeeded and cannot succeed against Syria and Iran, so we should try negotiations. That argrment has a few flaws:

-- Negotiations would likely make things worse by encouraging terrorist nations.

-- We haven't actually tried force against Syria or Iran. I'm not saying we should do so, but it's not clear that force wouldn't work. In fact, we have to power to demolish those countriess, if we chose to do so.

-- There are many other possible ways to attempt to deal with these two countries.

Posted by: ex-liberal on December 15, 2006 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal

I take it you don't negotiate for a living.

Just because you can't think of what the Syrians or Iranians might want doesn't mean they can't. You will never know unless you ask. Just because you ask doesn't mean you give it to them. It just means you ask.

There are literally millions upon millions of American business people who negotiate with others every day. Very few of them are unwilling to talk.

I guess you must have come out of academia. Maybe like young master Bush you were just a trust fund baby. Like 43 you seem to lack the good old Yankee ability to horse trade.

Posted by: Ron Byers on December 15, 2006 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal

Why don't you take a little time off and read that book I recommended. Then come back and take up the issue again.

Posted by: Ron Byers on December 15, 2006 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

Just because you can't think of what the Syrians or Iranians might want doesn't mean they can't. You will never know unless you ask. Just because you ask doesn't mean you give it to them. It just means you ask. There are literally millions upon millions of American business people who negotiate with others every day. Very few of them are unwilling to talk.

No, no. That's why I don't negotiate with any of the counterparties on my transactions -- it will only embolden them. I just tell them what they should do, and that's that. I figure if they have an interest in my deal, they'll do it anyway. That, or I threaten to use force....

Posted by: Stefan on December 15, 2006 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

Neo-conservative "ex-liberal" wrote: Should we offer money to Iran if they will stop supporting terrorism? But, Iran has plenty of money. I don't think that will work with them.

We could try sending them arms, like Reagan did.

Posted by: Gregory on December 15, 2006 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

Marler,
According to your own analysis, the resort to "serious consequences" is not from violations to the cease-fire, it is from failure to observe 1441. The only body that has the authority to decide Iraq was in 1441 violation was the UN. They explicitly did not rule that Iraq violated 1441 -- Bush avoided that ruling because it was obvious that he would lose that vote. So he invaded unilaterally and illegally.

It would also help if you were more careful about quoting Blix. He specifically did not claim compliance or noncompliance with 1441, he stated, correctly, that was a decision that had to be made BY THE UN.

Posted by: mcdruid on December 15, 2006 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

Should we offer money to Iran if they will stop supporting terrorism? But, Iran has plenty of money. I don't think that will work with them.

Because the one thing people with plenty of money don't want is more of it. That's why the rich are immune to all bribes and corruption....

Posted by: Stefan on December 15, 2006 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

Because the one thing people with plenty of money don't want is more of it. That's why the rich are immune to all bribes and corruption....

Touche', bon homme.

Posted by: Global Citizen on December 15, 2006 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan, does your comment mean that you favor offering money to Iran if they will promise to stop interfering with democracies in the middle east?

Or, wss it just a bit of random snarkiness?

Posted by: ex-liberal on December 15, 2006 at 4:43 PM | PERMALINK

As Jack Abramoff would say: "Right"!

Posted by: thethirdPaul on December 15, 2006 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

Global Citizen, according to Wikipedia, The person who gets touched calls out "Touch".

Posted by: ex-liberal on December 15, 2006 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

Well, we do not really know his last name, but there is a Stephan Facetious _______, Esq. listed in Martindale, Hubble..........Hmmm.

Posted by: stupid git on December 15, 2006 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

As FAUXLib desparately tries to contact Schaife headquarters asking them for directions in how to ascertain if someone is "making wise" - Tail Start is sooooooooooo behind Head Start.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on December 15, 2006 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

Ron Byers asks me several questions:

Are Syria and Iran natural allies?

Whether they're 'natural' allies is irrelevant. They are allies now. The Alawite clan that runs Syria presently is in league with Iran because they have mutual goals, the first and most important of which is staying alive and in power. Remember that the Alawites are an offshoot of the Shi'a and represent only 20% of the population: almost all the rest of Syria is Sunni. The Sunnis generally regard the Alawites as heretics and apostates, and that's a real problem if you're a minority Alawite. Assad and his people run a brutal police state to stay in power, and so they can't tolerate any threats to that, be it from us, uppity Lebanese, or a democratic Iraq next door.

Likewise, the Mad Mullahs of Iran have a primary goal of staying in power. Remember, they're radical Shi'a -- in the past, the Shi'a theology supposed some separation of religion and state (unlike the Sunnis for whom no separation exists), and were content to live and let live. Khomeini overturned all that by preaching a radical expanionist Shia-ism that would become the dominant branch of Islam. The current ayatollahs believe in that as well, so not only do they want to stay in power, they want to expand their power. Syria is a useful tool. Grabbing onto the Shi'a part of Iraq is useful. Gobbling up the Shi'a majority Gulf states (e.g., Bahrain, Qatar, UAE) would be useful. Allying the Shi'a in Lebanon (e.g., Hezbollah) is useful. All that is in service to their goals.

So Iran and Syria are allies today, natural or unnatural.

Is a full blown shooting war in Iran's best interests?

I don't think so. Iran would prefer to wear down and badger their opponents into submission, and grab states or parts of states when they're weak and the rest of the world is pre-occupied. I think they understand that in a major military confrontation with us, they could get seriously hurt -- the U.S. might not be able to occupy Iran, but we could potentially remove the Mad Mullahs from power. Remember their first goal.

Isn't Iran predominantly an oil power? Screwing up the shipping lanes would naturally interupt the ability of Iran to sell oil?

Sure, though the Mad Mullahs may be calculating that they can tolerate a short hit better than we, or the Europeans, or Japanese, or Chinese, can.

Is a shooting war in Syria's best interests?

Depends -- with whom? With us -- no way, Assad and his minions certainly understand what our military can do to a third-rate Arab army, they just saw it next door. And rest assured, the Syrian military is no match for us (or for Israel). A shooting war with Iraq minus the U.S., particularly a Shi'a rump Iraq, or a shooting war with Lebanese opposition militas, well, that's different.

Who would Al Qaeda support?

Why themselves, first and foremost.

Finally hasn't the Iraq war pretty much convinced you that you can't install democracy at the point of a gun?

While one can't 'install' democracy with guns, removing a dictator who has his foot on the neck of his people is possible sometimes only with a gun. It was right and proper to remove Saddam -- no democracy was possible with him around. We've done some good things in Iraq subsequently, and we've made some major (and some stupid) mistakes there. If we get democracy in Iraq, it will be because the people there, given the opportunity, decide they want it as opposed to something else.

Isn't it still a good idea for America to promote democracy in the middle east?

Yes, emphatically. I worry about Americans who don't believe in promoting democracy.

What tools might we still have available to promote democracy? Do we need a standing army to use those tools?

We have all sorts of tools. A standing army is one of them, and it's a very useful tool when used properly.

Explain to me again why the US wouldn't want to spend time talking to both Iran and Syria?

As I indicated earlier, we simply aren't going to give them what they want -- hegemony over Iraq and the Middle East. Talking about that, or how they're going to 'help' us, is silly.

But if I were President (don't worry), I might take an invitation to talk directly with the Syrians and Iranians -- not with their thug leaders, but with the people. I'd do it just the way Ronald Reagan talked with the people of Eastern Europe and Russia. I'd preach democracy, human rights, and liberty, and I'd work behind the scenes using all the various tools available to me to help the people of Syria and Iran liberate themselves from the thugs.

Now if that's the kind of talk you mean, we're in complete agreement.

Posted by: Steve White on December 15, 2006 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

Global Citizen, according to Wikipedia, The person who gets touched calls out "Touch".

And according to neocon "ex-liberal," the person who gets touched never does.

Posted by: Gregory on December 15, 2006 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK
The U.N. and U.S. declared war on Iraq,

The UN did not "declare war" on Iraq. Whether the US did or not depends on the sense in which "declared war" is used, and isn't really relevant, anyway.

When U.N. resolution 1442 asserted that Iraq was clearly in violation of the cease-fire and that "serious consequences" would ensue if it did not immediately come into full compliance on schedule, and when Hans Blix' report docummented that Iraq was not indeed in full compliance, Why was any other action necessary for U.S. forces to resume the combat (the serious consequences) that had been interrupted?

(Presumably, you mean S/RES/1441 concerning Iraq/Kuwait, not S/RES/1442 concerning Cyprus.)

Because the UN Security Council had already imposed a binding cease-fire on all parties, and only (barring an actual attack) could lift that binding order.

It was the decision of the UN Security Council, under the Charter, not that of the US government, what "serious consequence" would be imposed based on its judgement of the degree and extent of Iraq's failure to comply and its judgment of the threat to international peace and security that represented and its judgement of the best way to respond to that threat.

Once the U.N. declared that Iraq was in violation of the terms of the cease-fire, why was another U.N. declaration of war necessary?

No UN "declaration of war" has ever existed. The UN issued an authorization for member-states to use force to enforce specific resolutions, which terminated with the imposing of a binding cease-fire order. Absent a lifting of that binding cease-fire, which 1441 did not do (which the US had attempted and failed to get the Council to agree to), the use of force remained prohibited by the cease-fire imposed by the Council.

If your reasoning has any implications to Iraq, why does it not also require that all foreign troops be withdrawn from the Balkans, where the U.N. never declared war;

Because (1) my reasoning has nothing to do with the UN having "declared war", (2) nothing I said has anything to do with requring troops being withdrawn from anywhere, and (3) the troops currently serving in international peacekeeping missions in the Balkans do so with the formal assent of the government's in whose territory they are serving.

Further, though I believe none of the current missions in the Balkans are UN missions, several of them are the authorized follow-on missions to which missions authorized by the UN Security Council handed authority.


When NATO fought the war against Yugoslavia, most of the war consisted of a U.S. air war against the civilian infrastructure of Yugoslavia.

That's a somewhat controversial statement, but irrelevant to the point at issue.

Nobody seems to have objected that this was a violation of the U.N. charter, certainly not very many Democratic opponents of the Iraq invasion, and certainly not many EU opponents of the Iraq invasion.

Actually, quite a large number of people, including much of the domestic and international anti-war movement, the Yugoslav government, and domestic opponents of the Yugoslav war that were not anti-war more generally did, in fact, use that among their arguments against the war.

OTOH, NATO did point to both actual crossborder attacks into Albania and imminent threats of continued escalation against Albania as part of the legal justification, though it was not the principal motivation for the war; collective self-defense from actual attack is a right reserved to member-states under the UN Charter.


or indeed Afghanistan where the Taliban are no longer the government and where the government never participated in the 911 attacks?

The Taliban was never the internationally-recognized government of Afghanistan, the campaign against al-Qaeda which continues there is clearly a response to an actual attack on the United States—the Taliban's involvement was a result of their decision to defend al-Qaeda—and the continued international presence is with consent of the new, internationally recognized government. I'm not sure exactly why you think the argument about the illegality of the Iraq was has any relevance to this or to missions continuing in the Balkans.


If you grant that legal cases are never quite airtight, I think the case can be made that the U.S. invasion of Iraq had more legal justification than some other military actions that have less opposition.

Perhaps there were other actions by the US that were equally illegal but less controversial among the US public—though neither of the ones you mention, apparently in the hope of using them as examples, falls into that category, as explained above—but so what? Arguably, the reason is because even among illegal acts of aggression, the campaign against Iraq was particularly ill-conceived.


Posted by: cmdicely on December 15, 2006 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

McDruid writes, The only body that has the authority to decide Iraq was in 1441 violation was the UN.

If the goal is to pick nits and not understand world affairs, that's true enough: you then have to explain why the UN wouldn't find Iraq in violation.

Because, you see, they did. Repeatedly. They have seventeen resolutions, and each of the last sixteen started with the preamble that Iraq was in violation of 1441 and needed to come into compliance.

The issue wasn't whether Iraq was in violation -- it was -- or whether the UN would find it in violation -- it did. The issue was whether the UN would back its word by actually doing something about it other than another sternly-worded resolution.

If one wants to be a nit-picking sea-lawyer one can continue to complain that what the US did under 'international law' was wrong because we didn't ask 'mother may we' from the UN.

They explicitly did not rule that Iraq violated 1441 -- Bush avoided that ruling because it was obvious that he would lose that vote.

And perhaps you know the reason for that: Saddam had succeeded in bribing the French and Russians to the point that they would vote 'no'. The French certainly weren't principled about this (for them it was all about oil), and the Russian had any number of secrets to hide.

So the question for you to answer, in turn, is whether you would allow unprincipled, lying, thieving states to stymie you from doing what you believe must be done.

So he invaded unilaterally and illegally.

Unilaterally with a couple dozen other countries in support. Legally per our Constitution. George Bush didn't allow the lying, thieving French and unprincipled Russians to stop him from doing what he knew had to be done. Bravo.

Posted by: Steve White on December 15, 2006 at 5:07 PM | PERMALINK

Likewise, the Mad Mullahs of Iran have a primary goal of staying in power.

Acting in one's perceived self-interest doesn't sound very "mad."

Of course, it's commonplace for warfloggers to couch their cheerleading by characterizing the opposition as "insane." Now, of course Steve White wouldn't besmirch his M.D. by making an unqualified diagnosis (besmirch his name by parroting unqualified right-wing talking points, yes, of course...), so I wonder what evidence he has that the leadfership of Iran is "mad"? Or does merely opposing the US qualify?

Posted by: Gregory on December 15, 2006 at 5:07 PM | PERMALINK

If one wants to be a nit-picking sea-lawyer one can continue to complain that what the US did under 'international law' was wrong because we didn't ask 'mother may we' from the UN.

If one wanted to be anything other than a dishonest Bush apologist -- but I repeat myself -- once could continue to note that what the US did was wrong under US law because our international obligations are, Constitutionally, binding US law.

Posted by: Gregory on December 15, 2006 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK

"If you grant that legal cases are never quite airtight, I think the case can be made that the U.S. invasion of Iraq had more legal justification than some other military actions that have less opposition."

Well, I'd nominate Granada, but I never have understood why we invaded.

cmdicely does a masterful job of dicing Marler's positions.

Posted by: mcdruid on December 15, 2006 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK

Steve there are a lot of things wrong with your analysis, but this statement is perhaps one of the wrongest of them:

As I indicated earlier, we simply aren't going to give them what they want -- hegemony over Iraq and the Middle East. Talking about that, or how they're going to 'help' us, is silly.

Actually, by invading and destabilizing Iraq, the United States has given "them" the best shot at what they otherwise would never have gotten -- hegemony over Iraq and a Shia crescent arcing across the Middle East.

And when our army breaks and we're forced to withdraw our troops, the Bush administration will have all but giftwrapped Iraq for the Iranians and any interested Shia.

Your big talk about "what we're not gonna give 'em" fails to disguise the fact that in essence you've already given it -- and done it over "our" strenuous objections, I might add.

Posted by: trex on December 15, 2006 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

Trex, our army will not break. Morale is high. The discussions about how to use reserves, increase army size, etc will pan out. And I do think we're bringing some troops home in 2007. Our army will not break.

We won't be 'forced' to withdraw our troops unless we abandon our mission. Again, I see some troops coming home in 2007.

We'll have to disagree about whether we've given Iran what they want by invading Iraq -- removing Saddam certainly was a gift to them, but they clearly understand the long-term threat of a democratic Iraq. They clearly understand the appeal of Shi'a living in a democratic state, particularly their own Arab Shi'a minority in the Kuzestan province (that has most of the oil, by the way). That's why their reaction to us is what it is -- they see the threat.

Posted by: Steve White on December 15, 2006 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

Gregory writes, ... what the US did was wrong under US law because our international obligations are, Constitutionally, binding US law.

Not quite. International obligations that the Congress accepts are indeed US law, but they're binding only to the extent that all laws are binding.

That is, the Congress can modify them whenever they want. That's because the Constitution explicitly gives the Congress the right to write and amend laws; in this case, the right to use force (declaration of war, letters of marque, etc).

The authorization to use force in Iraq modifies our current obligations and allows the Congress to vote -- legally -- for the war. That's just what it did.

Now whether that's a violation of 'international law' depends, I suspect, on one's own political inclinations. If you're a one-worlder progressive you see international law as supreme. I don't. We'll have to disagree.

Posted by: Steve White on December 15, 2006 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

McDruid writes, Well, I'd nominate Granada, but I never have understood why we invaded.

To stop a communist coup.

Posted by: Steve White on December 15, 2006 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

Morale is high. The discussions about how to use reserves, increase army size, etc will pan out. And I do think we're bringing some troops home in 2007. Our army will not break.

Huh? I certainly wouldn't say our troops are demoralized, but what's driving our recruitment shortfalls if everything is hunky-dorey as you imply? And why are people like General Zinni and Joe Galloway saying that our Army can't sustain its current operational tempo for much longer? Cause they're closet-liberals?

Posted by: cyntax on December 15, 2006 at 5:30 PM | PERMALINK

You need only look at how they treat Democrats to know that they will never negotiate with other countries.

You can join their pack and your loyalty will be rewarded.

Or you can be on the other side and you will be kicked and abused and villified and scorned.

Unless a "higher" --- change that to "stronger" --- authority makes them, like bullies everywhere, they will consider no other option.

Negotiation is repellent to them.

Posted by: catherineD on December 15, 2006 at 5:30 PM | PERMALINK

No, it was to cover over our horrible losses incurred because of Cap Weinberger's and Rumsfeld's stupid decision to back the Lebanese Army in a civil war.

And so that we could check out our commo system and award combat jump wings and CIBs.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on December 15, 2006 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK
If the goal is to pick nits and not understand world affairs, that's true enough: you then have to explain why the UN wouldn't find Iraq in violation.

No, you don't, because the UN could have found Iraq in violation and imposed consequences other than the unrestricted use of force aimed at destroying the regime.

Because, you see, they did. Repeatedly. They have seventeen resolutions, and each of the last sixteen started with the preamble that Iraq was in violation of 1441 and needed to come into compliance.


Really?! Please link to or cite the 17 resolutions of the UN SC pointing to IRaqi noncompliance with S/RES/1441 (2002).

Posted by: cmdicely on December 15, 2006 at 5:35 PM | PERMALINK

Posted by: Steve White on December 15, 2006 at 4:57 PM

You answered all my questions, but if you still can't see within those answers reasons to think the US could advance its interests in the middle east by talking to both the Syrians and the Iranians, like Condi Rice you lack both wisdom and guile.

A for the answers.

F for lack of creativity.

You would go far in the Rice State Department, or maybe the Vice President's office. No place else.

What is it with you guys? Somehow none of you understand that War is the last diplomatic resort and one that is most powerful in the potential rather than the execution. Both sides understood that during the cold war.

Posted by: Ron Byers on December 15, 2006 at 5:36 PM | PERMALINK

Trex, our army will not break. Morale is high. The discussions about how to use reserves, increase army size, etc will pan out. And I do think we're bringing some troops home in 2007. Our army will not break.

High morale is not the determinant of the readiness of our armed forces. Available combat units that are trained, with equipment that works, and in a readiness status are the determinants. The army is currently lacking enough of these, and mobilizing guard units and reserves won't change that fact.

Active and retired officers are warning that the military is at its breaking point. Asserting that it "just won't break" in the face of their evaluations without any evidence is the same kind of thinking that brought us post-invasion chaos in Iraq. Bush, Rummy, Cheney, Perle and all those other idiots used the same sort of dismissive reasoning you're using here whey they said:

"It will just pan out."

Posted by: trex on December 15, 2006 at 5:37 PM | PERMALINK

Trex, our army will not break. Morale is high.

Bull. Our guys see the reality that everyone else sees, only closer up.

You try getting sent back for your second or third deployment, or find out that instead of going home next week, you've been extended six months, and see if your morale stays high. Frankly, to believe otherwise is fantasy.

Posted by: pdq on December 15, 2006 at 5:49 PM | PERMALINK

"To stop a communist coup."

Is that the justification du jour? And here I thought that Grenada was already a communist party country and had been for several years.

My, my, Steve, you really do live in your own little world, don't you?

Posted by: mcdruid on December 15, 2006 at 5:49 PM | PERMALINK

"...you could armchair psychoanalyze this belief forever..."

They hate to bargain with their lessers they way management hates to bargain with unions. It's just so... ugh ... demeaning!

Posted by: dzman49 on December 15, 2006 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

Well, we do not really know his last name, but there is a Stephan Facetious _______, Esq. listed in Martindale, Hubble..........Hmmm.

Actually, you may not really know my first name either...

Posted by: Stefan on December 15, 2006 at 6:02 PM | PERMALINK

Global Citizen, according to Wikipedia, The person who gets touched calls out "Touch".

Hence the cries of "Touch" ringing out from the young Congressional pages whenever Mark Foley would stroll along the halls....

Posted by: Stefan on December 15, 2006 at 6:04 PM | PERMALINK

Cyntax: ... what's driving our recruitment shortfalls if everything is hunky-dorey as you imply?

There is no recruiting shortfall. The Army and Marines have been meeting their goals, and just in the news last week was the item that they once again met their goals. They had a problem last year for a few months but fixed it. And retention has never been higher.

And why are people like General Zinni and Joe Galloway saying that our Army can't sustain its current operational tempo for much longer? Cause they're closet-liberals?

No, and they're correct to note that given the current force-package, we have to either a) lengthen the time commitment of soldiers in Iraq or b) call up more Reserves. Neither of these is attractive long-term. It will be allieviated substantially if (repeat, if) we can get some forces out in 2007. I think we can but of course I can't say for sure.

Posted by: Steve White on December 15, 2006 at 6:05 PM | PERMALINK

"Stefan" - I have proven worthy of having your working email, now haven't I?

Posted by: Global Citizen on December 15, 2006 at 6:06 PM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal:

touche'

Posted by: Global Citizen on December 15, 2006 at 6:07 PM | PERMALINK

I had noted that the reason we went into Grenada was to stop a communist coup, to which McDruid replies:

Is that the justification du jour? And here I thought that Grenada was already a communist party country and had been for several years.

The Bishop government, a pro-Marxist regime, was overthrown (i.e., Mr. Bishop was murdered by the coup-plotters) and replaced with a more hard-line Marxist regime. That had Cuban backing, and President Reagan didn't want the Cubans to get hold of another country. Hence the invasion.

You'll of course disagree, but stopping the spread of communism, particularly during the Cold War, was always foreign policy issue #1 for the U.S.

Posted by: Steve White on December 15, 2006 at 6:09 PM | PERMALINK

pdq writes: You try getting sent back for your second or third deployment, or find out that instead of going home next week, you've been extended six months, and see if your morale stays high. Frankly, to believe otherwise is fantasy.

I only know what I read from the mil-blogs, including those of active soldiers, and from the various surveys that are being done. According to them, morale is high. I have no reason to question them.

Posted by: Steve White on December 15, 2006 at 6:11 PM | PERMALINK

Ron Byers replies to me:

You answered all my questions, but if you still can't see within those answers reasons to think the US could advance its interests in the middle east by talking to both the Syrians and the Iranians, like Condi Rice you lack both wisdom and guile.

Perhaps you're not seeing that some things simply aren't negotiable, and some things shouldn't be discussed, because the simple act of discussion puts into play things that you absolutely don't want put into play.

We could talk to the Soviet Union about the number of nuclear warheads each would possess, but it was pointless to discuss how we were going to surrender to Soviet hegemony, or how we were going to withdraw from western Europe so as to allow communism to win out there, because we'd never allow those things to happen.

We're not going to allow the Mad Mullahs of Iran to have primary hegemony in the Middle East. Allowing radical theocratic Shia-ism to hold sway there would be very bad for our interests. There's no point in talking with Iran if the topic is to be our withdrawal from the Middle East for the purpose of Iran becoming primary there. There's no point in talking with Iran if the conversation has the potential to lead to discussion of such issues.

Somehow none of you understand that War is the last diplomatic resort and one that is most powerful in the potential rather than the execution.

War is not the 'last' diplomatic resort. War is diplomacy by other means. There's a difference there; see if you can get it.

I don't advocate war lightly. Never will. But I won't have our country shy away from war if the alternatives are worse.

Posted by: Steve White on December 15, 2006 at 6:22 PM | PERMALINK

The Bishop government, a pro-Marxist regime, was overthrown (i.e., Mr. Bishop was murdered by the coup-plotters) and replaced with a more hard-line Marxist regime. That had Cuban backing, and President Reagan didn't want the Cubans to get hold of another country.

Yes, because once the Cubans had Grenada, the dominoes would fall. First St. Vincent, then Barbados, St. Lucia, Martinique, Guadaloupe, St. Kitts-Nevis....all the way until they were storming Puerto Rico....

Posted by: Stefan on December 15, 2006 at 6:25 PM | PERMALINK

Grenada was invaded for the same reasons lots of little countries are invaded. Tough talking Presidents need an invasion to prove to the media that they are tough. The junior officers of all the services needed "combat experience" to advance their carriers. A fun time was had by all except the poor troops and civilians who got dead. Fortunately there were very few of them.

Posted by: Ron Byers on December 15, 2006 at 6:30 PM | PERMALINK

Ron: how 'bout Mr. Bishop? Does your sympathy regarding 'poor troops and civilians' extend to him?

He was, after all, the legitimate executive of the country until he was murdered and his body burned at a garbage dump.

Posted by: Steve White on December 15, 2006 at 6:37 PM | PERMALINK

We could talk to the Soviet Union about the number of nuclear warheads each would possess, but it was pointless to discuss how we were going to surrender to Soviet hegemony, or how we were going to withdraw from western Europe so as to allow communism to win out there, because we'd never allow those things to happen. Steve White

Why are you guys such surrender monkeys. Who the fuck has said a word about surrender.

Let me clue you in. The contest with militant Islam is going to be long and hard. Most of the time we will not be shooting at each other.

Have you read any of the militiant Islamic material. Those people are not scared of our army. They are scared to death of our culture, economy and all the rest. They are not afraid we will impose those things on them. They know we can't really force our ways on them. They are scared shitless, however, that their people will demand western civilization on their own. What does all that mean.

In the long run our superior economy, technology and culture probably gives us the edge. The Soviet Union fell. We didn't invade. We kept the soviets bottled up until its own people took it down. That is a good plan for a rich, powerful civilization like ours.

Co-opt Islam. Pretty soon they will start a womens movement, a democracy movement all the rest. We win in the long run.

We lose if we lose our patience and if we play on their turf. That is what we are doing in Iraq. Our President thought that a quick win in Iraq and a quick installation of a democratic government would hasten the fall of militant Islam, all within a few months. Well a wise man would have told him that wouldn't happen. It will take years, but we will win.

What do we do until they decided to become civlized? Well, how about talking. It sure beats the hell out of getting our people killed and wasting our money on fools errands.


Posted by: Ron Byers on December 15, 2006 at 6:43 PM | PERMALINK
You'll of course disagree, but stopping the spread of communism, particularly during the Cold War, was always foreign policy issue #1 for the U.S.

Replacing one "pro-Marxist" regime with another doesn't spread Communism, it tinkers with the particular brand of Communism implemented in places that are already Communist.

Posted by: cmdicely on December 15, 2006 at 6:43 PM | PERMALINK

Steve White

About Bishop. I don't know what kind of threat he was to his own people, but lets assume he was a really bad man. Do we have the right to take him out? What gives us the right?

Assuming you could ethically answer what gives us the right to take Bishop out, an invasion is a whole lot more expensive than a traditional CIA covert op. Hell you could hire a whole shitload of local Granadian hit men for the cost of invading Grenada. Talk about wasteful government spending.

Posted by: Ron Byers on December 15, 2006 at 6:49 PM | PERMALINK

There is no recruiting shortfall. The Army and Marines have been meeting their goals, and just in the news last week was the item that they once again met their goals. They had a problem last year for a few months but fixed it. And retention has never been higher.
Posted by: Steve White

Oh, you mean by allowing Cat IV recruits in? Yeah, that's a good solution to the problem that ensures the health of the Army. Basic Training is now essentially a rubber stamp that fails ~5%-8%, when about twenty years ago that number was nearly 20%. But that won't have any detrimental effects either will it?

Posted by: cyntax on December 15, 2006 at 6:51 PM | PERMALINK
how 'bout Mr. Bishop? Does your sympathy regarding 'poor troops and civilians' extend to him?

Bishop was an unelected Communist dictator that seized power in a coup. Apparently, that's something the US was rather violently opposed to in Grenada, at least sometimes.

Posted by: cmdicely on December 15, 2006 at 6:51 PM | PERMALINK

Long day. We didn't take Bishop out, we took out the guys who took him out. The rest of the post still applies.

Granada was a damn expensive vacation for a lot of troops.

Posted by: Ron Byers on December 15, 2006 at 6:59 PM | PERMALINK

Granada was a damn expensive vacation for a lot of troops.
Posted by: Ron Byers

I'm not making this up (nodding in the general direction of Dave Barry).

A published comment in the Shreveport Times asked why we were invading Granola.

Posted by: MsNThrope on December 15, 2006 at 7:09 PM | PERMALINK

McDryuid: It would also help if you were more careful about quoting Blix. He specifically did not claim compliance or noncompliance with 1441, he stated, correctly, that was a decision that had to be made BY THE UN.

Blix was tasked to write the report about Iraqi compliance with 1441. His report clearly documented Iraqi non-compliance, and he said so in writing and in speech. He did in fact say "regrettably" or some such qualifier when asserting Iraqi noncompliance.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on December 15, 2006 at 7:33 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely on December 15, 2006 at 5:04 PM

I don't agree all the way, but nicely done. I have 2 questions: (1) didn't the U.N. declare war on Iraq when Iraq invaded Kuwait? That was the declaration of war that I was referring to. (2) if your analysis is correct, shouldn't Ramsey Clark or someone of that persuasion take the U.S. to court, and get an injunction against the U.S. army? to my knowledge, what few court actions have been tried haven't gone anywhere, and there have been no rulings that U.S. ratification of the U.N. charter overrides the Congress' AUMF (which I take as a declaration of war at least as good as any resolution containing the words "A state of war exists". If not that, then the 2003 resolution in support of the invasion.)

Kosovo was a province of Yugoslavia. The posting of Yugoslav troops there was not an invasion. I do not see how NATO had any more legal authority to wage the war against Yugoslavia that it would to wage war against Sudan, nor how it had more legal authority to do so than the U.S. to invade Iraq.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on December 15, 2006 at 7:46 PM | PERMALINK

To expand on why I'm troubled by Steve White's deeply erroneous statements about the military:

    On July 26, congressional Democrats revealed that a full two-thirds of the active U.S. Army is officially classified as "not ready for combat."

    ...Pentagon officials have lately sought to emphasize the positive--the Army is currently meeting its 2006 recruiting and retention goals, and the readiness levels for forces in combat in Iraq remain stable--but this neglects the underlying reality...

    Combat-readiness worldwide has deteriorated due to the increased stress on the Army's and the Marines' equipment. The equipment in Iraq is wearing out at four to nine times the normal peacetime rate because of combat losses and harsh operating conditions. The total Army--active and reserve--now faces at least a $50 billion equipment shortfall.
    ...
    But the decline in equipment readiness is nothing compared with the growing manpower crisis... After failing to meet its recruitment target for 2005, the Army raised the maximum age for enlistment from 35 to 40 in January--only to find it necessary to raise it to 42 in June...Through the first six months of 2006, only 7.6 percent of new recruits failed basic training, down from 18.1 percent in May 2005.
    ...
    Private Steven Green, the soldier arrested for his alleged role in the rape of an Iraqi girl and the murder of her family, was allowed to join the Army despite legal, educational, and psychological problems. Green didn't graduate from high school and had been arrested several times.


To say that the Army is doing fine perpetuates the shell game that GWB is playing with the military. The current adminstration's reckless adventurism in Iraq is degrading the military's ability to defend the country from real threats, while at the same time exacerbating the danger our soldiers always have to face in combat with the added dangers of substandard recruits, inadequate training, and equipment shortages. And as the instance of Private Green shows, substandard recruits are also a danger for the people we're trying to "save."

Pretending that the Army is fine is a disservice to the military, our country, and the Iraqis. But it does help President Bush. By all means Steve keep fiddling away.

PS: night, MsNT. Send pie soon.

:)

Posted by: cyntax on December 15, 2006 at 7:48 PM | PERMALINK

Can do, cher.

Posted by: MsNThrope on December 15, 2006 at 7:52 PM | PERMALINK

"Army is doing fine" my ass!

Fact: The regular active duty army has 3500 officer slots unfilled.

Fact: The reserves have nearly 11,000 open slots in the Lieutenant and Captain ranks alone.

Fact: While each branch of service met it's recruitment goals for FY 2006 with a couple hundred troops to spare, fully 17% of those recruits were admitted on waivers.

Fact: Virtually everyone who applies to OCS gets in, and very few wash out. This erodes the quality of the officer corps. Officers are charged with unique responsibilities that are different from those experienced by the enlisted ranks.

I ask once again...What good does it do to meet recruitment and retention goals if there is no one to lead?

Posted by: Global Citizen on December 15, 2006 at 7:55 PM | PERMALINK

Hormonal Citizen:

Fact: Virtually everyone who applies to OCS gets in, and very few wash out. This erodes the quality of the officer corps. Officers are charged with unique responsibilities that are different from those experienced by the enlisted ranks.

Unfortunately, the age limit for officers was 27 when I spoke to the recruiter this morning. This is why I have enlisted as an enlisted man. I was assured that if my commanding officers believed in my exceptional abilities and my commanding presence that I would easily make First Lieutenant and receive a battlefield commission.

This is what I'm looking forward to--I do not want to spend a great deal of time mixing with the cannon fodder.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on December 15, 2006 at 8:13 PM | PERMALINK
didn't the U.N. declare war on Iraq

The UN has never declared war on anything.

if your analysis is correct, shouldn't Ramsey Clark or someone of that persuasion take the U.S. to court

What court? On behalf of what litigant? The only party that would likely have standing to sue would be the government of Iraq, which might sue in the ICJ; but the government of Iraq that would be inclined to do so has been replaced with one beholden, for the moment, to the US, and, anyway, the US doesn't accept compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, and tends to ignore ICJ decisions that don't go its way.

my knowledge, what few court actions have been tried haven't gone anywhere,

What few court actions have been tried, ever, to restrict US military action due to alleged illegality under domestic law have been thrown out, without exception, for lack of standing, the merits never being reached.

That being said, I've never argued that the war itself was illegal under US domestic law, at least not in a way subject to the jurisdiction of the federal courts (I do think Bush abrogated his Constitutional duty to faithfully execute the laws with respect to his approach to the AUMF, though I don't think there is a remedy for that except for impeachment; perhaps criminal charges after leaving office. Certainly, an injunction against military action would be an improbable remedy.)

and there have been no rulings that U.S. ratification of the U.N. charter overrides the Congress' AUMF


Nor did I assert that the UN Charter trumped subsequent legislation in terms of US domestic law.

Kosovo was a province of Yugoslavia.

Correct. Albania, however, was not.

The posting of Yugoslav troops there was not an invasion.

Attacks by Yugoslav army troops and/or pro-Yugoslav Serb militias into Albania which Albania did complain of and ask for help to prevent, OTOH...

I do not see how NATO had any more legal authority to wage the war against Yugoslavia that it would to wage war against Sudan

What does Sudan have to do with this?

Posted by: cmdicely on December 15, 2006 at 8:17 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan,

Far up thread, I incorrectly pulled a GC speed type (Is that trademarked?) - sorry about the misspelling of your first name.

Now, I'll, also, contact Martindale about the mistake.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on December 15, 2006 at 8:23 PM | PERMALINK

Norman,

Have contacted DoD about you - They are fast tracking even as I speak.

Don't forget your Garand! Shades of Sgt York.

Posted by: stupid git on December 15, 2006 at 8:28 PM | PERMALINK

Marler,
More rewriting of history? I have Blix's book in front of me. He specifically denies that it was his judgement to determine compliance. He stated that the Iraqi's were "proactive" in working with his inspection team. Aside from some missiles that were slightly out of technical specification, he had nothing to show they had WMD. He also has a lengthy chapter on how he was vilified when he did not state that Iraq was not in compliance.

You, like Mr. White, are factually incorrect.

Posted by: mcdruid on December 15, 2006 at 8:31 PM | PERMALINK

The authorization to use force in Iraq modifies our current obligations and allows the Congress to vote -- legally -- for the war. That's just what it did.

Wrong again, you dishonest toad. Congress authorized the use of military force under certain conditions -- conditions which Bush failed to meet.

And nowhere in the AUMF, needless to say, does Congress repudiate our party to the UN charter ,which stipulates that member nations not undertake unprovoked wars of aggression.

Bush's invasion of Iraq remains illegal by US law, and one doesn't need to adhere to your silly and dishonest straw man "internationalist" label to see that it's illegal under international law as well -- you know, the same law under which we fought Gulf War I.

Posted by: Gregory on December 15, 2006 at 8:36 PM | PERMALINK

Norman, we sure as fuck don't need officers who think of the enlisted as "cannon fodder." As the wife, sister, aunt and best friend of members of that officer corps, I take that remark as a personal afront. If I thought for one second that you were service bound, I would take steps to stop that from happening, and I guarantee you they would be successful, and the recruiters career would be over.

Posted by: Global Citizen on December 15, 2006 at 8:40 PM | PERMALINK

Norman, we sure as fuck don't need officers who think of the enlisted as "cannon fodder." As the wife, sister, aunt and best friend of members of that officer corps, I take that remark as a personal afront.

You misunderstand--I am joining as an enlisted man, not an officer. In due time I will be promoted to colonel, perhaps after a year or so, but in the meantime, no, common people make me nervous--this is all I was saying.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on December 15, 2006 at 8:52 PM | PERMALINK

Major Charles Emerson Rogers

Posted by: Global Citizen on December 15, 2006 at 8:55 PM | PERMALINK

Major Charles Emerson Rogers

I'd still outrank you!

Posted by: Norman Rogers on December 15, 2006 at 9:05 PM | PERMALINK

I can't decide exactly what's up in this surreal psychodrama. Which is it? The Secret Life of Norman Rogers? Or are you a Kippling character on acid?

Posted by: Global Citizen on December 15, 2006 at 9:07 PM | PERMALINK

Well, as I am not in the service, that would be a moot point, Norman.

Posted by: Global Citizen on December 15, 2006 at 9:08 PM | PERMALINK

Well, as I am not in the service, that would be a moot point, Norman.

Don't have what it takes, huh? Well, not everyone can be as brave as I.

You certainly could do what I did--fake your birth certificate and join up. I must say, it is the most significant event of my life since putting Branniff Airlines out of business.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on December 15, 2006 at 9:18 PM | PERMALINK

McDruid, I was referring to Blix's actual comments at the time and what he wrote in the report. If he subsequently wrote that the literal assertions in the report and public comments were intended to mean something different, well that's interesting in its own right.

cmdicely: What does Sudan have to do with this?

I mentioned Yugoslavia and Sudan in the same sentence; Sudan because the U.N. has supported the AU troops in Darfur (though it hasn't provided very strong support); Sudan is tangential to the case, but may require a decision in the future. From time to time Kevin Drum brings up Darfur, and some people here advocate a military action to halt the tragedy there.


Nor did I assert that the UN Charter trumped subsequent legislation in terms of US domestic law.

True enough. I threw it in as something that *might* have made the AUMF illegal under U.S. law. I like reading your comments, and wanted to know what your reply would be.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on December 15, 2006 at 9:23 PM | PERMALINK

Lightest of Colonels Norman,

You do, indeed, owe GC one quarter - Spent too much time hitting the "f" key.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on December 15, 2006 at 9:26 PM | PERMALINK

Gregory: Congress authorized the use of military force under certain conditions -- conditions which Bush failed to meet.

The 2003 resolution in support of the war says explicitly that the condition was met. Congress voted 90% for that. Your opinion has merit, but the vote of the Congress has the authority.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on December 15, 2006 at 9:26 PM | PERMALINK

Looks like your uncle Norman joined the military just in time: next year, when I am commanding a brigade, I may have to lead my men in battle against the Japanese War machine:

TOKYO, Japan (AP) -- Japan's conservative government chipped away at two pillars of the country's postwar pacifism, requiring schools to teach patriotism and upgrading the Defense Agency to a full ministry for the first time since World War II.

The measures, enacted Friday in a vote by Parliament's upper house, form key elements of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's push to bolster Japan's international military role, build up national pride and distance the country from its post-1945 war guilt.

The votes were important victories for Abe's government, which has suffered sharp drops in popularity polls since taking office in September over the perception that he has not paid enough attention to domestic issues.

The education reform bill triggered controversy, both because of its sensitive content and because of disclosures this week that the government had planted officials posing as ordinary citizens at "town meetings" discussing the measure.

The scandal and other issues inspired a spate of no-confidence motions against Abe and some members of his Cabinet, but they were crushed in Parliament, which is dominated by the ruling party coalition.

The upgrading of the Defense Agency under the Cabinet Office to a full ministry passed Parliament without significant opposition, propelled by deep concern in Japan over North Korean missile and nuclear weapons development.

The upgrade, to be effected early next year, gives Japan's generals greater budgetary powers and prestige -- a reversal for a military establishment that has kept a low profile since being discredited by Japan's disastrous wartime defeat.

The education measure, the first change to Japan's main education law since 1947, calls on schools to "to cultivate an attitude that respects tradition and culture, that loves the nation and home country."

Posted by: Norman Rogers on December 15, 2006 at 9:33 PM | PERMALINK

And the rape of Nanking never happened - Banzai

rdw will be so proud - He can fly his Rising Sun once again.

Well, well - which will they be this time? In 1905, they were one of the few on the battlefield who respected human life - In the 30s and 40s, they were savages - So, which Japan will rise this time?

Posted by: thethirdPaul on December 15, 2006 at 9:41 PM | PERMALINK

McDruid, I was referring to Blix's actual comments at the time and what he wrote in the report.

Since your word isn't worth a bucket of piss, Marler, how bout an actual quote and a source?

The 2003 resolution in support of the war says explicitly that the condition was met.

Yeah, and some Congresscritter tried to pass a law making Pi equal to 3, but that doesn't make it factually so. But I do appreciate the dishonesty of your admission that Bush in actual reality didn't meet the requirements, but Congress covered his ass for him.

Of course, that still doesn't make the war legal. Your argument, as opposed to mine, has no merit.

Posted by: Gregory on December 15, 2006 at 10:03 PM | PERMALINK

And of course, the AUMF specified more than one condition -- I note your use of the singular "condition was met."

Posted by: Gregory on December 15, 2006 at 10:05 PM | PERMALINK

One point, the phrase "serious consequences" does not automatically translate into the use of force you know, for that the phrase is "all necessary means". This was yet another element in the dishonest approach of Bushco from the very outset. The distinction is an important one in diplomaticese, and the fact that Bush first swore he would do a head count on a second vote and then chickened out a week or so later because he would lose it decisively underscored this. When the rest of the UNSC went along with serious consequences in 1441 it was because it did not carry with it the traditional meaning of use of force, although some nations were worried at the time that Bush would use it later for the purpose that he did, for which the premise of a needed second vote was supposed to prevent and to which Bush chickened out on because it would destroy his flimsy weasel room legal reasoning provided by "serious consequences".

Posted by: Scotian on December 15, 2006 at 10:16 PM | PERMALINK

gregory: Gregory: Congress authorized the use of military force under certain conditions -- conditions which Bush failed to meet.

gregory: Yeah, and some Congresscritter tried to pass a law making Pi equal to 3, but that doesn't make it factually so. But I do appreciate the dishonesty of your admission that Bush in actual reality didn't meet the requirements, but Congress covered his ass for him.

Congress passed a resolution noting the report required by the AUMF and specifically commending his diplomacy. That doesn't mean that pi is 3. It does mean that Congress asserted that the conditions (final diplomatic push, report to Congress) were indeed met.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on December 15, 2006 at 11:21 PM | PERMALINK

Scotian, you are right. The U.S. meant for "serious consequences" to imply war. It seemed that Powell was expecting France to accept that interpretation, and was surprised when they did not.

In a sense, it's worse. the UNSC has passed now over 2,000 resolutions, and it is difficult to discern that any of them have had any consequences unless the U.S. enforced them. Quite recently UNSC passed a resolution requiring Syria to stay out of Lebanese politics, for example. Not long before that, they passed a resolution requiring the Lebanese government to disarm Hizbollah.

glad to see you join in. I always look forward to your posts.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on December 15, 2006 at 11:28 PM | PERMALINK

try this one, paragraph 7.

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200203/cmselect/cmfaff/813/813we21.htm

Although the official judgement of "compliance" was reserved to the UNSC, Hans Blix stated that the Iraqi government was not cooperating on substance.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on December 15, 2006 at 11:34 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin Drum wrote: Conservatives often accuse liberals of elevating negotiation into an end in itself. It's a fatuous charge...

This thread sure doesn't prove that the charge is fatuous. On the contrary, most posters expressed enormous support for negotiation, but few if any said what they expect the negotiations to achieve and how they would do so. That seems to fit the definition of "elevating negotiation into an end in itself."

Posted by: ex-liberal on December 15, 2006 at 11:46 PM | PERMALINK

". . . that just made it harder to gain support for the invasion we wanted."


What do you mean by "we", kimosabe?

Posted by: Mazurka on December 16, 2006 at 12:08 AM | PERMALINK

John Oliver on the Daily Show said it best:

We have to exhaust every possibility for violent conflict before we undertake peaceful negotiations.

Posted by: Henry on December 16, 2006 at 12:34 AM | PERMALINK

How I wish we could draw the most obvious lesson from this middle east madness, but so far it has gone unmentioned. Dammit, it is so simple!

In the words of a famous yogi, Violence begets violence. Love begets love.

Even with the terrible lessons of Iraq, Israel-Palestine, Afghanistan, our national creed is still: if someone hits you, hit him back harder. What good has it done for Israel? Soon Afghanistan will be as big a mess as Iraq. As for Iraq, the depth of stupidity of going to war---any war---that can be avoided is unfathomable to me.

Unfortunately, violence is nothing less than a basic component of our national character. In the great majority of American movies, problems are solved with violence. Of course theres the daily flood of mayhem on TV and at the multiplexes, but even in sweet and funny movies like, "Back To The Future" a single punch to the jaw puts everything right.

We wont see a better world until we drop the cowboy delusions that John Wayne or Bruce Willis or George Bush simply has to drop the bad guy and the future will be beautiful!

We stop the wheel of violence by doing as Dr. king taught us, which has been proven to work every time it has been tried. Dont return violence with violence and youll stop the wheel in its tracks.

Does Obama understand these things better than most Americans? Seems like he might. King, Gandhi, Mandela, the Dalai Lama, brown people have been the consciences of the world for the last century, I can only hope.

Posted by: James of DC on December 16, 2006 at 12:43 AM | PERMALINK

There is quite a gulf between the "eye for an eye" and the "turn the other cheek" camps.

Posted by: Disputo on December 16, 2006 at 3:16 AM | PERMALINK

"Although the official judgement of "compliance" was reserved to the UNSC, Hans Blix stated that the Iraqi government was not cooperating on substance."

The whole ww web at your disposal and you couldn't even find a first hand account? Instead you link to British propaganda.

In any event, Blix did not say they weren't cooperating on substance. "The substantive cooperation required relates above all to the obligation of Iraq to declare all programmes of weapons of mass destruction and either to present items and activities for elimination or else to provide evidence supporting the conclusion that nothing proscribed remains."(UNMOVIC, 27 Jan. 2003)

The first and second parts are inherently unverifiable: you can't prove that they have declared all programmes and they can't present items that don't exist. As has been repeatedly pointed out, and is even stated explicitly in the article you point to, the problem was that the Iraqis didn't keep very good records. They were unable to provide the documentation requested because they didn't have it.

In any event, the only body with the legal authority to decide noncompliance and to authorize force was the UN Security Council. The majority of the members of that body indicated that they would not do so.

Posted by: mcdruid on December 16, 2006 at 5:05 AM | PERMALINK

James of DC:

Spot on correct. One of the deep moral lessons of 9-11, in my estimation, was that in our zeal to destroy one enemy (the Soviet Union), we created a new one (radical Islamists). And I'm sure we are creating many new enemies in Iraq and Afghanistan. Gandhi said it best - "An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind".

TCD

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on December 16, 2006 at 6:48 AM | PERMALINK

Isn't that one of the republican talking points--democrats negotiate/compromise, republicans confront. Seems I heard that very nonsense at the start of shoutmeister Hannity's radio show when I subjected myself to his divisive noise a couple times

Posted by: consider wisely always on December 16, 2006 at 8:22 AM | PERMALINK

Don't forget your Garand! Shades of Sgt York.
Posted by: stupid git

Or Major Major Major...heh.

Posted by: MsNThrope on December 16, 2006 at 10:11 AM | PERMALINK

The Major is out at the moment, but, by all means, go right in. Don't forget to salute his chair.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on December 16, 2006 at 11:13 AM | PERMALINK

Ron Byers wrote:

The world is a dangerous place. Every country has many adversaries. There are lots of ways to engage with those adversaries. War is just one of them. A smart ruler wants to engage with his adversaries in the order, in the way and at the time of his choosing. Negotiate gives you an opportunity to engage your adversaries in the order, in the way and at the time of your choosing.

You might want to read "The Art of War" by Sun Tzu. You might learn something.
______________________

Sun Tzu assumed that negotiations could help you choose the time of engagement with your enemies, but he also assumed the ruler wanted to defeat all his enemies and simply used negotiations as a delaying tactic.

Successful negotiations that are not mere delaying tactics requires dealing from a position of relative strength. Take military action off the table and we are not dealing from a position of strength with regard to Syria.

The key is progress in Iraq. If, sometime in the next two years, we can show even the illusion of progress in Iraq, then we'll have a chance to reach some kind of accord with Syria and Iran. If our intent is simply to disengage, then we have no bargaining position, nothing to offer beyond abandoning the Iraqis. That was the flaw of the Paris Peace Accords. The North Vietnamese knew we simply wanted out and they accommodated us, with no intent to hold up their end of the bargain.

It is very likely that negotiations will have to wait for the next administration, which can repudiate the goals of its predecessor. It's quite likely that negotiations now would be fruitless anyway, since our enemies will expect a far better deal from the next President.

Posted by: Trashhauler on December 16, 2006 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

"Unfortunately, violence is nothing less than a basic component of our national character."
______________________

Americans are no more violent than are any other people. And the idea that the key to avoiding war is to foreswear violence is simplistic. It asks for a basically passive response to most violent situations. King and Ghandi could succeed with passive resistance only because the societies they sought to change were essentially decent enough to allow such tactics. Both would have simply disappeared in Russia, China, the Middle East, and most parts of Africa.

A nation cannot afford to rely on such an attitude, unless it is prepared to retreat from any situation that threatens violence. And that tactic only works so far, even then.

Posted by: Trashhauler on December 16, 2006 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

mcdruid, also from the report:

One might have expected that in preparing the Declaration, Iraq would have tried to respond to, clarify and submit supporting evidence regarding the many open disarmament issues, which the Iraqi side should be familiar with from the UNSCOM document S/1999/94 of January1999 and the so-called Amorim Report of March 1999 (S/1999/356). These are questions which UNMOVIC, governments and independent commentators have often cited.
...
While UNMOVIC has been preparing its own list of current unresolved disarmament issues and key remaining disarmament tasks in response to requirements in resolution 1284 (1999), we find the issues listed in the two reports as unresolved, professionally justified. These reports do not contend that weapons of mass destruction remain in Iraq, but nor do they exclude that possibility. They point to lack of evidence and inconsistencies, which raise question marks, which must be straightened out, if weapons dossiers are to be closed and confidence is to arise.
...
They deserve to be taken seriously by Iraq rather than being brushed aside as evil machinations of UNSCOM. Regrettably, the 12,000 page declaration, most of which is a reprint of earlier documents, does not seem to contain any new evidence that would eliminate the questions or reduce their number. Even Iraqs letter sent in response to our recent discussions in Baghdad to the President of the Security Council on 24 January does not lead us to the resolution of these issues.

It goes on and on to document all the ways that Iraq was not in full compliance with the requirements of the U.N. resolutions, and it notes that the wording of the resolutions excludes the "middle": anything less than complete compliance is defiance. Also note that resolution 1441 gave Iraq "one final opportunity".

The "judgment" of "noncompliance" was not Blix's to make; what he did was document the actual noncompliance. This is akin to the famous distinction between "lying under oath" and "committing perjury", except that the word "compliance" is being used for both purposes.

Defying their own resolution 1441, the UNSC decided that their language of "one final opportunity" and the timelines specified in 1441 could be defied without any consequences whatsoever, serious or no. No consequences other than the American-led invasion of Iraq were ever proposed in the U.N.S.C. I mentioned in this or another thread that the UNSC has now passed more than 2,000 resolutions, almost all of which have not been complied with fully; most have been ignored outright. That the UNSC routinely declines to enforce its resolutions makes it hard to interpret particular acts of passivity as having particular meanings.

I'll not in passing that the famous resolution 242 has been complied with in part. Egypt and Israel negotiated a treaty, in which Israel returned the Sinai peninsula to Egypt but retained the Gaza Strip. Jordan and Israel negotiatied a treaty in which Israel retained the West Bank, and Jordan and Israel created or extended many joint agricultural, hydrological, and other projects. Of the 1967 combatants, only Syria remains defiant.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on December 16, 2006 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

"Successful negotiations that are not mere delaying tactics requires dealing from a position of relative strength. "

Let me be the first to call bullshit.

Seriously, do you guys even try to think before you post?

Posted by: mcdruid on December 16, 2006 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

Marler,

"Don't know much about history" keeps going through my head.

The Iraqi's were given only 30 days to compile their declaration. At the time the resolution was passed, Blix was dubious that any industrialized country could produce a complete document in that time. EVEN THE US AGREED.

What Blix did in January 27th was to document areas that needed further inspection. Duh. The inspectors had only been operating for two months, and the declaration had only been accepted 49 days previously. You will remember (sarcasm intended) that Blix's March presentation was considerably less critical. But for some reason you don't quote that later and more relevant report.

And stop nattering on about the UN ignoring the "noncompliance." The majority of the Security Council indicated that they wanted to give Blix more time in order to determine truthfully compliance or noncompliance. The US would not accept that UN ruling.

Posted by: mcdruid on December 16, 2006 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

mcdruid wrote:

(Quoting me) "Successful negotiations that are not mere delaying tactics requires dealing from a position of relative strength. "

Let me be the first to call bullshit.
________________

mcdruid, could you give a couple of examples in which negotiating from a position of relative weakness resulted in successful war negotiations from the perspective of the weaker party?

Posted by: Trashhauler on December 16, 2006 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

Trash,
I've spent too much time dealing with the inanacies of Marler's arguments to cover yours in any detail. Let me point out several things:
The science of negotiation has improved significantly since Sun Tzu.

The military response is not the only way of applying pressure to another country.

Why are you limiting this to war negotiations? Since when have the talks with Syria been war negotiations (in other than the fantasies of the neocons)?

START, SALT, the 5-5-3 treaty (for Japan) before WWII.

In general, I'd agree with the opposite of your post: It is always in the interest of the weaker party to negotiate.

Posted by: mcdruid on December 16, 2006 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

mcdruid: "Don't know much about history" keeps going through my head.

too bad. It's not a good song. No one ever knows enough history. Even faced with the exact sentence in which Blix used the word "regrettable", that I quoted, you can't face the fact that Blix wrote straight out that Iraq was defying the time line specified in UNSCR 1441.

You could make a case that Iraqi noncompliance was insufficient grounds for war. But their noncompliance was documented, Blix documented that it was active non-compliance (not merely the overcoming of difficulties); and yes, he was optimistic about the possibilities for eventual compliance, and he even wrote about "process compliance", an invention not in UNSCR 1441. Blix also drew attention to the disparity between the actual full compliance by South Africa, and the defiance by Iraq, and to the long duration of defiance by Iraq.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on December 16, 2006 at 4:32 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe it is just a problem of reading comprehension. I assume you are referring to the "regrettable" in:

"Regrettably, the 12,000 page declaration, most of which is a reprint of earlier documents, does not seem to contain any new evidence that would eliminate the questions or reduce their number."

Which statement is not about compliance but about the state of the declaration. Besides, this is a point that I already addressed, and Blix talked about even before 1441:

"... I had mentioned that a country with a sizeable petrochemical industry might have difficulty in poviding within thirty days a full description of allits peaceful chemical programs. I thought putting such a requirement in the text betrayed a lack of seriousness."
-- Hans Blix, "Disarming Iraq" 2004, pg. 101

Posted by: mcdruid on December 16, 2006 at 6:50 PM | PERMALINK

cmdruid: I had mentioned that a country with a sizeable petrochemical industry might have difficulty in poviding within thirty days a full description of allits peaceful chemical programs. I thought putting such a requirement in the text betrayed a lack of seriousness.

Now that is an interesting comment. He might well be correct in the (not necessarily his) implication that resolution 1441 was not taken seriously by either Iraq or the other members of the UNSC besides the U.S. and G.B. He is certainly not unique in thinking that UNSC resolutions betray a lack of seriousness.

UNSCR 1441 was the 17th in a series of resolutions documenting Iraq's lack of full compliance. It did say "one final opportunity", and it did contain a hard schedule. If you take the view that 1441 was never seriously meant by the other 3 permanent members (i.e., that it was intended as an empty bluff, a deception of Bush/Blair, or some other such empty gesture) then it changes everything.

It wasn't merely the difficulty in complying with unreasonable requirements. Other sections of Blix's report document active resistance to cooperation by the Iraqis. We now know that they *might* have been trying to hide the fact that they had no WMDs left, but the active resistance was not so interpreted at the time.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on December 16, 2006 at 10:44 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps English is not your first language and that is why you are having so much trouble with this. Let me try it simply:

Blix said is was "regretable" that the declaration was not as complete as he wished it could have been.

He indicated that he thought the US was playing games: the thirty-day requirement for the declaration was too quick to be fulfilled. In this, he was not alone. It was widely rumored at the time that this requirement was set up so that Iraq would fail.

We know from internal British and US documents that Bush was determined to go to war, so, yes, 1441 was not seriously meant by Bush. This was obvious to anyone who was awake at the time.

You and White seem to be ignorant about the make-up of the UN Security Council. It consists of 15 members. At least 2/3rds are assumed to have supported continuation of 1441.

Other sections of Blix's report do not, contrary to your assertion, document active resistance. Indeed, in the March declaration, he goes out of his way to praise their efforts; specifying that they have been "proactive" in the process. (He cites specific proposals that Iraq created to help the inspections.)

The only "hard schedule" in 1441, was a requirement that Iraq accept the resolution within 7 days and produce the declaration within 30: both of these requirements were met.

In this last post, you are averaging more than one false statement per paragraph. Surely you can do better.

Posted by: mcdruid on December 17, 2006 at 3:55 AM | PERMALINK

I'll let you have the last word.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on December 17, 2006 at 11:09 AM | PERMALINK

mcdruid wrote:

"Why are you limiting this to war negotiations? Since when have the talks with Syria been war negotiations (in other than the fantasies of the neocons)?"
______________________

Because that's what they will be - war negotiations. Those treaties you mentioned dealt with efforts to shape theoretical future wars, not one already being fought. For most who now want us to negotiate, the overarching object is to get us out of the war. Hell, most of them just want us out, even without negotiations. The Syrians and Iranians know this. There will be no surprises sprung or new viewpoints illuminated whereupon the other side figuratively smacks its head and exclaims, "Oh, now we understand. Of course, we'll help!"

There is no "science" to negotiation, though there are countless reviews and studies and seminars about how to negotiate. In the end, and especially in this case, there is only what we want and what they want and what each is willing to give up to get what they want.

In war, negotiations are to the advantage of the losing side only to the extent that they fear something worse. That is, in fact, why wars are fought, to change the political will of the other side. In this case, the current enthusiasm for negotiations is evidence that it is the American political will which has been changed, rather than that of our enemies and the foreign governments who assist them. That will put us at a comparative disadvantage in any talks.

Posted by: Trashhauler on December 17, 2006 at 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

Marler,
Right, next time come better prepared.

For Trash, I don't even think that would help, given the inherent illogic of his postings. Somehow negotiations with Syria are "war" negotiations, while the 5-5-3 treaty isn't?

"War" negotiations are only a subset of negotiations, there is nothing intrinsically different between them and any other negotiations, so Trash doesn't think negotiations ever work.

In any event, he repeatedly demonstrates his ignorance of negotiations (c.f. "no surprises," "no 'science'" and "there is only" sentences), so it isn't worth even condescending to him.

Except to note: US-British in 1776 and 1912, North-South in 1864 and basically every other conflict in history.

Posted by: mcdruid on December 17, 2006 at 6:28 PM | PERMALINK

mcdruid, wrote:

For Trash, I don't even think that would help, given the inherent illogic of his postings. Somehow negotiations with Syria are "war" negotiations, while the 5-5-3 treaty isn't?

"War" negotiations are only a subset of negotiations, there is nothing intrinsically different between them and any other negotiations, so Trash doesn't think negotiations ever work.

In any event, he repeatedly demonstrates his ignorance of negotiations (c.f. "no surprises," "no 'science'" and "there is only" sentences), so it isn't worth even condescending to him.
_____________________

On the contrary, mcdruid, I know that negotiations frequently work quite well. But I explained the difference between the Washington Naval Treaty and the proposed talks concerning Iraq. The former, by the way, was a classic example of "successful" negotiations that failed utterly in their purpose. If you wanted to give examples of successful negotiations that held up you should have used the Treaty of Lausanne or something similar.

Admittedly, my personal experience in international negotiations isn't much. I've been the DOD technical representative during a couple of bilateral negotiation sessions and still provide input in my area of expertise. Back in the day, I sometimes represented USAFE in multilateral NATO exercise meetings and I negotiated a couple dozen short term, logistical support agreements with foreign militaries. But that's it.

Don't worry about sounding condescending towards me. I can always use the education.

Posted by: Trashhauler on December 18, 2006 at 9:44 AM | PERMALINK

So why do you make such asinine, uninformed statements?

Posted by: mcdruid on December 18, 2006 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

"So why do you make such asinine, uninformed statements?"
____________________

There's just the slightest chance that they're not uniformed, mcdruid.

I might ask why your entire tone is deliberately insulting, though I can guess. The last time I was as sure about anything as you seem to be I was about 24.

A little collegiality can pay dividends, son. Sharing of ideas, different perspectives, that sort of thing. You know, the old dialectic.

And you might remember the Rule of Three.

Posted by: Trashhauler on December 19, 2006 at 2:33 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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