Rebuilding Iraq II

Picking up where we left off…

Here’s an interesting exchange that took place at the UN recently:

[quote] … -5879r.htm[/quote]


I posted a comment on the German foreign policy thread. Please respond here if that is preferred.

First, you are so busted on your views when no responsible government including France and Germany still hold those views having undergone a seismic change as detailed.

So the US sold weapons to Iraq, MAYBE bio weapons but a lot was dual use and we already mentioned that the US government wanted to gain influence with Saddam and also did not want Iran to go sweeping the revolution into Saudi Arabia’s oil fields. Cannot remove things from that context.

But ultimately, that is not what you were arguing and I think that given the fact that the two nations most opposed to the precedent that would be set by the US (Germany and France) have adopted the position of the US regarding pre-emptive action means this whole debate is now moot. The US position has been adopted by Germany and France so what does that mean? the US was wrong or Germany and France were. I think the actions involved speak for themselves and I am satisfied that Germany and France now realize that their positions were untenable.

So, why change so quietly… guess it is a matter of face and Germany and France just lost a lot of it.

Again, this is not to say you must represent the German government but since your positions are the same and your two biggest “representatives” of said policy have relented, nay surrendered like well like how about like French generals haha, then what is this debate really about?

The Pot Calling the Kettle Black
This, you’ll recall, was when Saddam was at the height of his crimes against humanity and Rumsfeld was completely aware of all of them.

An Appeasement Smoking Gun
“. . . as well as to avoid unpleasantly surprising Iraq through public positions we may have to take on this issue . . . "
US State Department directive on how to respond to Iraq’s use of chemical weapons . . .”

Saddam, Can We Be Friends? Yours truly, Rummy
". . . a major objective in the meeting with Saddam is to initiate a dialogue and establish personal rapport . . . " between Saddam and Amb. Rumsfeld

There’s lots more from the Appeasement Files but I’ll leave that for later. The documents cited above are genuine, by the way, unlike these:


No one denies that the US was involved with Saddam BUT

The US was not the primary source of his weapons or programs.
The US sold weapons and attempted to curry favor with Saddam for very complex reasons and examining this without taking these factors into consideration would be unfair to the US position. These decisions were not made in a vacuum.
The US government is capable of making mistakes. No policy is ever 100-percent “good” or “effective” and some are “better” than others at the time but deemed less “effective” over the passage of time.

Is the world complicated? Yes.


I’m just not that complicated myself. If I had been in Rumsfeld’s position then I would have looked Saddam in the eye and called him a cold-blooded murderer and refused to shake his hand. I would have also told him that if he used another ounce of chemical weapons on another soul I’d do everything in my personal power to bring the wrath of God down on him.

I realize the US had to keep Iran from overrunning Iraq but Iraq was the aggressor and the correct solution would have been to draw a line in the sand and tell Iran not to cross it on pain of US military intervention, that Iraq would be forced to pay reparations and Saddam would be ousted.

That’s all I would have said to Saddam that day: use CW weapons, go to jail. Stand down on your aggression and know that you’re out of town by sundown or I’ll be back. End of story.

Of course, I would have beeen equally ‘uncomplicated’ with Shamir and the Israelis’ treatment of the Palestinian people but I doubt you want to hear that part.

I think the reason why the Middle East has been such a festoring sore for so long is because everyone is trying to game it.

It’s just not that fucking complicated. Just do the right thing there.

If doing ‘the right thing’ is a little bit hazy of a concept for you, just think in terms of what you’d like being done to you if you were on the receiving end of your own actions.

For example, if you were a six-year-old boy trying to make a life for yourself on the mud streets of a Palestinian refugee camp in the Occupied Territories.

Over and out from the Chinese mainland. Looking forward to getting back to Taiwan in a couple of days.

Oh spare me the whining about six-year old boys. Why is it that children are somehow more valuable than any other human life?

The truth of the matter is that it is precisely the Palestinian Authority that has made life so miserable for its “citizens.” Forbes lists Arafat as one of the world’s top 10 wealthiest leaders. Now for such a poor, downtrodden country, where do you think he got all the money?

As to Iraq, I stand by my earlier assessment. You would have the US always take the “high road” when no such road exists. When it is a choice between the shah and a democrat fine, but when it is a choice between the shah and what came after him, hmmm who do you suppose we should support?

When it came to the corrupt oligarchies of South Korea, Taiwan, Philippines and Vietnam, the choice was not Hillary Clinton or Jimmy Carter, the choice was Pol Pot, Mao Tse-tung and Kim Jong-il. Get it?

Big Dunc is always pointing out how “particularist” American foreign policy is. How about its detractors…

Celebrity anti-war protestors like Mike Farrell supported President Clinton’s war in Kosovo, waged for humanitarian purposes, despite Clinton’s lack of a congressional or U.N. resolution. Clinton implied “tens of thousands” of lives lost, but later reports placed the number at less than 5,000. Meanwhile, murders under the Saddam Hussein regime range from 300,000 to perhaps a million! Yet the same military-for-humanitarian-purposes crowd denounces the Bush effort in Iraq. Consistency, anyone?

WTF? I said I agreed with them on opposing the war, I didn’t say I agree with or support everything they do / have done.


I know what you were arguing and that’s why I am laughing. I know that your views are not exactly (emphasis on exactly) the same but you were quite concerned about the precedent being set by the illegal, unlawful, cowboy Americans and lo and behold the German and French governments have signed onto doing the same exact thing and awfully quiet of them to do so as well. I seem to miss reading about this in CNN et al. So perhaps there is some truth to the Liberal Media myth.

So here we are. I was arguing all along that for Germany and France to oppose the US was not only mind numbingly stupid but incomprehensible and now that they have both adopted the US position, what the hell are they still making noise for. They should admit that they were wrong publicly and apologize for gumming up the process. Otherwise, what the hell was this fight all about? They put it in terms of setting dangerous precedents. Not once did the German or French government claim that Saddam did not have weapons. All along they argued that more time was needed. We needed to give inspectors and inspections more time. Well, if France and Germany were so concerned about the dangerous precedent and how the UN must be central to the whole international blah blah blah, how in the name of all that is holy could they sign such a treaty recognizing and committing themselves to pre-emptive action? AND for France get this FRANCE to pressure Germany to sign onto the treaty despite being the loudest proponent for “international law.” Give me a break.

So then Rascal given the new developments (actually since June) wherein Germany and France are not only not opposed but committed to pre-emptive action against wmds, what is your beef with the US and its actions in Iraq? This should be the end of the debate right? Unless you and only you Rascal are going to run your own one-man diplomacy. If that is the case you are no longer anti-American but would have to be qualified as delusionally idealistic? What’s your choice? The former or the latter. I suspect the former and cannot wait to see how you contort the laws of reason and the English language to get out of this position. But entertain me. I am all eyes.

Have they really adopted the same position as the US?

I think the keyword is ‘possessing WMD’, not ‘claiming someone has WMD’ (and then failing to prove it / not being able to find them).

Nice try Rascal:

Go and find me a diplomatic source that argued prior to the invasion of Iraq (not from a crackpot site) that Iraq did NOT have wmds. While there are individual opinions, the official position of the 15 nations on the security council was that Saddam had to account for said weapons not that the US had to prove that he had them. If you want to argue that, how do you account for the vote in the security council 15-0 in which Saddam had to account for these weapons?

You are trying very badly to switch the focus of the argument since the evidence so clearly “whups yer ass.” The German and French and I would include you based on your previous views/comments, argued that more time was needed to inspect. Then the argument was that a dangerous precedent would be set, and that such actions required the sanction of the UN. Now we have NOT the US changing its tune but the two main opposition parties, Germany and France, reversing in a 180-degree turn to legitimize pre-emptive action. How can this fit in with their previous stances. They have now adopted the official US position as state policy.

Furthermore, we were arguing I believe about the “legitimacy” or “legality” of pre-emptive action not wmds in these past few postings. Therefore you can talk about exempting your view because the US is only “claiming” Iraq had wmds but this is not the issue. The issue was one of legitimacy and looky looky but France and Germany now support pre-emptive action. Get it Rascal? Germany and France are gun-toting cowboys who support pre-emptive action!!! Get it? AND no where in the treaty does it refer to seeking approval from the UN before taking said pre-emptive actions. Get it? This was, has been and is the US position all along. AND this very position that was the main source of contention between Berlin with Paris on the one side and London and Washington on the other is now a MOOT point because Berlin and Paris have adopted the very same policy.

I cannot wait to see how you try to squirm out of this. What are your choices, throw sand in our eyes? What are you going to say now when Germany and France have adopted pre-emptive strategies for dealing with wmds? Then the desperate attempt to say that the US “claimed” Iraq had wmds and therefore this policy does not apply to Iraq. Yet, France and Germany along with 13 other members of the security council voted that Saddam had to account for his programs and weapons not that the US had to prove that he had them so the “threat” truly existed in the view of all 15 nations or why vote unanimously in such a fashion?

Hahahahahaha this should be good. Let’s see what Rascal comes up with. BUSTED!!!

Not accounting for is not equal having (WMD).


No one said it was. You were arguing the legal approach and you have lost. You already agreed that you could accept the US invasion of Iraq on moral grounds. Now, looking at this from a legal point of view you have been so thoroughly busted that it makes me laugh. Keep whittling the words and looking for misplaced commas or obscure definitions of the word “is” like President Clinton because that is the only area you have a leg to stand on. In terms of the substance of this debate, give up, you have lost. No one said you were arguing for France or Germany but what then is your position? You no longer have one. And that is what’s so funny but continue entertaining us with your Clintonesque wriggles and wiggles to get out of this by questioning the definitions of these policies and positions as you have been.

To wit, are the policies REALLY the same?
Having wmds and claiming etc are not the same blah blah blah.

Your position was based on the legality of the action not on the reality of the invasion taking place. It is a moot point. What is legal does not have to necessarily occur. You were arguing legality. I have proven that the action was legal. You have already accepted it as moral so wherein lies your disagreement with the US action in Iraq now that it has been proven to be both legal and moral? Semantics? How pathetic. A moral and legal posture based on semantics? A world view based on the definition of is it really the “same?” hahahaha should send this particular debate over to Gunther Grass to see if he can use it for his next novel. Crab Walk was a good title for the moral sidling that apparently is very very widespread indeed. hahahaha

Now Russia will forgive US$4.5 billion of the US$8 billion debt Iraq owes it just to be able to bid on projects. It is so nice that Putin put this in the context of helping the Iraqi people (not) but commercial. So I guess with the US paying and the Germans, French and Russians desperate to bid, I guess we know who was adopting the moral high ground all along and who was just in it for the money.

Just to be fair to Rascal’s view, even though he is hopelessly wrong on arguing the legal aspects of the action… the concern remains and I think that is fair enough and I can sympathize…

ANNAN: If the reason for going to war was weapons of mass destruction, which was the whole debate in this building, and we haven’t found the weapons of mass destruction, then the question is posed by many, why did we go to war? If you accept the argument of those who are now saying they went there to liberate the Iraqi people and to be able to democratize Iraq and change the politics in the region, then of course they will say the war was worth it. But here in this building, the debate and the reason for going to war was to get rid of weapons of mass destruction and we haven’t found those weapons of mass destruction so in the minds of some of the people its not so much whether the war should have been fought, or whether having removed Saddam it was worthwhile, for them was the war justified?

SHAWN: So based on that logic, would you say the war is a failure and not justified?

ANNAN: I don’t want to frame the question in terms was the war a failure and not justified, but until you find weapons of mass destruction, the question of the reasons for going to war will be there, there will be questions marks as to whether we really had to go to war to look for weapons. Inspectors have said they haven’t found, and said they needed a bit more time to work on it and were told you don’t have more time, and the intelligence were told very clearly know that it is there and it hasn’t been found, it raises questions.

Eh? Because Germany and France have also adopted such a policy makes it legal?

Point is not having the policy, point is using it in the way the US has done it. See also below.
Call it wiggling out, but then again that’s just what I said already before (i.e. my position).

An invasion under the pretense of such a policy can hardly be legal since the policy obviously is one-sided and as there was no concrete evidence of WMD (and none have been found yet).
Self-defense doesn’t stick either as an argument, so where does your great policy actually grip, legally of course?

To me it seems you are confusing two things: the legal side of things and the issue of Germany and France having adopted a policy similar to the US - which has nothing to do with being legal (under International Law) or legalizing the US action(s).
There is nothing wrong with such a policy if it’s clear (proven) that a country has such weapons and poses an imminent or immediate threat - then self-defense would apply anyhow - but no such thing did apply in case of Iraq.
As such the policy is of no concern, a country can have any policy it wants and no matter how many other countries copy it, that by itself still doesn’t make it legal or (morally) right.
(Though it can be used legally if certain conditions apply)

Example: Is it legal to shoot down commercial airliners in the US just because you have such a policy?
Or isn’t it rather legal to shoot them down only if they pose an imminent threat - which of course has to be based on something more than just claiming so (i.e. is a plane going off-course already sufficient reason)?
See where I am going? Makes quite a difference me thinks and as such I disagree to be wiggling …

I can accept that Rascal and I apologize for lumping you with Germany and France but I cannot help it. Your views while not exactly the same seem so similar and really my argument is not really with you but Berlin and Paris and I love this reversal. I love it to pieces. Okay. you Rascal the individual have different views. Fine, but you are not the one arguing in the UN. But the dangerous precedent argument must now be consigned to the waste bin, and then where is the illegality of the US action? You can argue intl law till the cows come home but… There is a precedent for such actions, most nations originally protesting the US action have reversed and adopted the US policy. So while this does not make it legal, then where is the “uniqueness” of the US position that would warrant such careful and critical attention from Rascal? Therefore how can you “proof” that the US action is illegal? Given that the key protesters have moved over into our column on this score, what is the basis for continued protest? No nation states are doing so, you as an individual certainly can. In fact, I know of societies that still argue that the world is flat and I am sure that “legally” and “morally” they have the same interests that you do in your Quixotic quest.

The only way you could prove “illegality” IMHO, is to prove that the US knew Iraq had no wmds and chose to invade anyway. Can you prove that? I don’t think so. So we come down to the fact that the US position is now universal among free, democratic nations, and this would mean the US and its allies warrant special condemnation how exactly? And can you prove that the UN charter does not allow such actions? especially since the key members of the security council and key opposition have signed onto such actions? Then is the whole world suddenly acting in an “illegal” manner? and given that international law is based on treaties, why would not these new “treaties” supercede previous assumptions about what is and is not internationa law?

Also please explain to me how a pre-emptive strike would be “illegal” since Iraq had failed to comply with a treaty that its government had signed not some nebulous “international law” that seems to blow around only when US actions are involved.

I am struggling to understand but it still seems to me that the US action given that the pre-emptive aspect is enshrined in treaties, committing even those nations which most loudly condemned it to pre-emptive action, then… where’s the beef? Do you believe that the US government knew that Saddam had no weapons and invaded anyway? That to me would be more immoral and less illegal given the fact that Saddam was not in compliance with 17 UN resolutions nor the ceasefire agreement signed in 1991. But as always, I would love to see how you go about explaining this. It is a source of endless amusement to me, but I see now that you have rolled the dice and opted for the “delusional idealist” role. Should be interesting. Let’s see where you go with it. hahahahaha

and given that Saddam had to comply with the UN resolutions to prove he did not have wmds, and the 17th vote was unanimous 15:1 why is the onus on the US to prove he did. We had a valid reason for suspecting he did. Perhaps they will be found, perhaps not, but that burden of proof is not on the US. Given that Syria, Russia, China, Germany and France all voted for the final resolution demanding Saddam come clean, and given that France and Germany not have pre-emptive treaties (for wmds) wherein lies the difference between Paris and Berlin on the one hand and the US on the other in how it was implemented? Basically, Paris and Berlin voted for the final resolution, recognizing Saddam was not in compliance. They can choose not to act or not, but where is the illegality of the US action? Seems to be more a matter of national choice and perception rather than illegality.

That said, I see that this inability to find them will always present the US with not a legal or moral quandary but one of public opinion, a perception if you will and yes, that does bother me.

This is the official US view on chemical weapons use during the Iraq-Iran War. It is one based on a great deal of moral amiguity, but what were the options? Could the US have stopped Iraq from using the chemical weapons and should it have if it would have meant victory for Iran? Then given the US ambivalence about such use of wmds against Iran, does the US now have the right as a moral actor to demand other nations do not?

I still say that as a national government the US has a duty to the safety and security of its citizens first and foremost before international obligations. Ideally, those should gel together but when they do not given the above circumstances, very difficult gray areas emerge.

Mr. Shultz then turned to Mr. Rumsfeld. In a March 24 briefing document, Mr. Rumsfeld was asked to present America’s bottom line. At first, the memo recapitulated Mr. Shultz’s message to Mr. Kittani, saying it “clarified that our CW [chemical weapons] condemnation was made strictly out of our strong opposition to the use of lethal and incapacitating CW, wherever it occurs.” The American officials had “emphasized that our interests in 1) preventing an Iranian victory and 2) continuing to improve bilateral relations with Iraq, at a pace of Iraq’s choosing, remain undiminished,” it said.

Answers in the other thread.

"(Retired Marine Corp general) Anthony Zinni’s passage from obedient general to outspoken opponent began in earnest in the unlikeliest of locations, the national convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. He was there in Nashville in August 2002 to receive the group’s Dwight D. Eisenhower Distinguished Service Award, recognition for his 35 years in the Marine Corps.

Vice President Cheney was also there, delivering a speech on foreign policy. Sitting on the stage behind the vice president, Zinni grew increasingly puzzled. He had endorsed Bush and Cheney two years earlier, just after he retired from his last military post, as chief of the U.S. Central Command, which oversees operations in Iraq.

“I think he ran on a moderate ticket, and that’s my leaning – I’m kind of a Lugar-Hagel-Powell guy,” he says, listing three Republicans associated with centrist foreign policy positions.

He was alarmed that day to hear Cheney make the argument for attacking Iraq on grounds that Zinni found questionable at best:

[b]“Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction,” Cheney said. “There is no doubt that he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us.”

Cheney’s certitude bewildered Zinni. As chief of the Central Command, Zinni had been immersed in U.S. intelligence about Iraq. He was all too familiar with the intelligence analysts’ doubts about Iraq’s programs to acquire weapons of mass destruction, or WMD. "In my time at Centcom, I watched the intelligence, and never – not once – did it say, ‘He has WMD.’ "

Though retired for nearly two years, Zinni says, he remained current on the intelligence through his consulting with the CIA and the military. "I did consulting work for the agency, right up to the beginning of the war. I never saw anything. I’d say to analysts, ‘Where’s the threat?’ " Their response, he recalls, was, “Silence.”[/b]

Zinni’s concern deepened as Cheney pressed on that day at the Opryland Hotel. “Time is not on our side,” the vice president said. “The risks of inaction are far greater than the risks of action.”

Zinni’s conclusion as he slowly walked off the stage that day was that the Bush administration was determined to go to war. A moment later, he had another, equally chilling thought: “These guys don’t understand what they are getting into.”