Niall (malenfant) wrote,
Niall
malenfant

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Niall Gets Political

Not very political, admittedly. As a general rule, I don't tend to have strong feelings about political matters - certainly not compared to some people I know. I can go for three or four days without really reading or watching or listening to a significant amount of news.

I do make an effort to read the sunday papers, though; it's like my token attempt to be informed. In particular, I like the column John Humphrys writes for the Sunday Times; I think he speaks a lot of sense. This week he says:


Consider the consequences of the United States backing down now.

The most obvious is that the prestige of Saddam Hussein would be enormously enhanced. He would be the man who had defied the mightiest superpower the world had ever seen. [...] Beyond his own borders Saddam would claim the leadership of the Arab world. And who would deny him? [...] On the other side of the world George Bush would sit in the Oval Office for the next 18 months and wait for the teeth of his political opponents to sink into his neck and drag him down at the election in 2004. I have spoken to several senior politicians on Capitol Hill in the past few days. Not one of them thinks Bush could contemplate going into that election with Saddam Hussein still in power.

[...]

Both sides know they are right. The hawks know that Saddam cannot be trusted. If he is left in power he will continue to develop his weapons of mass destruction until he is in a position not only to dominate the Middle East but to threaten the West. He has had twelve years to abide by UN resolutions and he has laughed in their face. If we do not deal with him, then ultimately he will deal with us - either directly or through his terrorist buddies.

The doves know that war would be a grossly immoral act. They point to a report by a UN taskforce leaked a few days ago which estimates that an attack on Iraq could kill up to 80,000 tropps and even more civilians. Half a million people would be injured or sick from diseases caused by the destruction of water and sewage services and the disruption of food supplies. There would be 2m displaced people inside Iraq and another 900,000 refugees would flee aross the borders.

[...]

The arguments will continue - and so they should. But increasingly it looks as though they are being conducted for the benefit of the historians. President Bush knows that returning is not an option.


Now to me, that seems pretty much unarguable. We have passed the point of no return: the political consequences of backing down, both on a personal and a global scale, are too great for any of the parties involved to seriously consider it. And whilst the idea of war is terrible and wrong, I am deeply uncomfortable with the thought of leaving Saddam where he is. It's an impossible decision, an irresistable force versus immovable object situation: You just have to roll a die and see which one is more compelling today.
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But we're not going into remove a dictator from power and free the people. We're going to free the oil. And afterwards, we'll leave other dictators and Al Qaeda bankrollers alone.
*shrug* Sure, that's one of the reasons it's happening. But you know what? A good thing done partly - maybe even mostly - for bad reasons is still a good thing done.

(Have we learnt nothing from 'Deep Down'? :-D )
1) re: "A good thing done partly - maybe even mostly - for bad reasons is still a good thing done."

That might be okay at some scales, like one-to-one, or the meeting-of-equals; but when one has so uneven a match, or the sole global superpower acting solo, this does post some special questions.

After all, by your rationale, the Indian strive for independence doesn't make any sense. Yes, Britain did many wonderful things for India, not the least of which was creating a functional Indian *nation* out of feuding kingdoms ... but it was ultimately the unjustness of that creation and Britain's rule that lead to its undoing.

Likewise, I think the US now faces the same dilemma where it's very awesome naked power is its greatest liability.

That's why I believe that such power has to be guided and limited by the highest standards of behaviour and its use. Sadly, not the sort of talk we're hearing from the White House of late.

2) It may sound like so much left-wing fluff, but oil really is the most driving concern here. I saw for myself the huge oil lobby go into action in Calgary to prepare for a Bush candidate, back in 1999 (being in Canada, they were beyond the scrutiny and many of the rules of American campaign finance law).
I reserve judgement on whether it's a good thing until we see who the US puts in charge.
The thing is, what about cost of doing 'a good thing'? Civilian casualties, etc. on the off-chance Saddam might get trigger happy with weapons he may or may not have.
Well, there's also the people who are going to be suffering because Saddam is still in power. They need to be factored into the equation, too. I just don't think there's a right answer to the situation at this point [1], and like I said originally, I think which answer [nonspecific] you take to be less wrong is somewhat arbitrary.

[1] Which is not to say that this point was inevitable, because of course it wasn't. Seems a bit of a waste of time to keep on condemning decisions already made, though; better to think about the decisions necessary to get out of the current situation.
1) There will never be and has never been a 'backdown' by the United States when it comes to its military affairs. Even Vietnam was a 'withdrawl with honour' ... hence the mega B-52 raids to get a ceasefire settlement. This is very important to understand, even with all the 'psycho vet' archtypes of 1970s/80s American film ... the fact of the matter is that many felt (and still feel) that the US didn't 'lose.' After all, as the thinking goes, how can the US have 'lost' when it 'won' every major engagement killing Vietnamese 10:1? It was a sissy liberal conspiracy back at home don't you know. This is why to this day every starting point of dialogue with North Korea *from the American side* starts with a threat of violence. The US is proud to the point of vanity when it comes to its military adventures, imo.

1b) If there won't be an out and out war, there will be enough Iraqi compliance with UN resolutions to presents a high enough political cost to this President that he might reconsider invasion and instead 'declare victory (diplomatic).'

1c) That having been said, I don't see any situation that this President will not invade Iraq ... regardless of consequences. Frankly, everything Bush has done to date has been irrespective of consequences, or of the mind that consequences will happen during another President's term, so aren't his concern. And what is perhaps most important and implicitly recognised in the above article is that Bush has already invested too much in this perceived final gambit not to act.

2) re: 2004 election. Well, Bush has timed things relatively well in his favour. Namely if he can start the war by the end of February and declare victory no later than early April then he can keep costs low and possibly delivered enough of a knock-out that there won't be any major international military repercussions to his election bid of 2004 (Nov). Americans, after all, love war heroes...especially when they feel fearful. That is no guarantee of political victory, as was seen with the first Bush in 1992 ... but even with a massively bolloxed economy parallel to a probable initial military victory (let's be honest, 'reconstruction' will necessarily mean military occupation in one form or other for the next decade at a minimum ... and Afghani-like flare-ups or worse can happen) ... but that depends greatly on an opposition candidate who can adequately capitalise on the bolloxed economy.

We see no Clinton or Clinton-equivalent running in 2004.

Therefore, unless there is a large enough negative repercussion to this President's personal military ambitions, he'll probably win the 2004 Presidency.

3) IMO, if there hadn't been this investment of personal political capital in a final outcome as Bush has done, the US and Coalition could easily have afforded to continue to wait out Saddam until his natural death. Containment was working...even if with horrible civilian cost and marginal impact on Saddam and the Baath party. It's primary function was the neutralisation of Saddam's options ... and it did do that.

Frankly, I think Bush's actions have given Saddam the keys to massive political success, even martyrdom if the US acts particularly poorly in the upcoming war.

Case: Russia's mad love/hate relationship with Stalin. Never think brutality can abate a fundamental twisted sense of pride. Clarification: I don't think Saddam has ever/will ever earn that kind of devotional love, but in the oral history that will follow the occupation, he may gain great status and credibility inspiring generations as he could never do in life.

4) Another thing to consider is the wild card Al Qaeda presents. Another successful terrorist campaign mid-war and/or immediately post-war can have very significant repercussions on Bush's 2004 run. On the one hand it would validate the fears that have propelled Bush to 'statesmanship status,' on the other it would rip up his credibility in having successfully sorted them out (which is implied in his renewed ambitions on Iraq).

In the confusion after Saddam's removal and the hunt for Baath Party 'war criminals', the US will present significant rich targets for 'asymmetrical attacks.' Assuming Saddam doesn't drench the country in biochem weapons anyway.
In the event of a Saddam biochem retaliation to invaders, that would prove the ultimate validation of US/UK's position. And really, given what little Saddam has to lose in that situation, why not launch away?

On the other hand if there isn't such a response, it will pose a terrible unabating needling at Bush's credibility. A massive document search will need to get underway days (hours?) after victory is declared to find any kind of validating evidence (a la post-1945 Nuremburg trial document gathering) ... and then there will be very serious concerns (some genuine, some politically expedient) over American falsification, evidence tampering, and censoring.

I think we should expect the worst kind of squelching post-war, if for no other reason then to create the illusion of evidence, because the lack of it will be a terrible validation of arguments of America's global bullying.

A revelation left to another decade, unless FOIA gets revoked by the Patriot Act. :-)

------
In the event of a Saddam biochem retaliation to invaders, that would prove the ultimate validation of US/UK's position. And really, given what little Saddam has to lose in that situation, why not launch away?

Well, quite. The US and UK might point and say 'see? It's a good thing we did this!' Thing is, it doesn't prove anything. So he may have biochem at his disposal. Made, if he does have it, with supplies from US companies. Doesn't prove he was going to supply it to terrorists, attack the west, etc. Conjecture to the extreme.

On the other hand if there isn't such a response, it will pose a terrible unabating needling at Bush's credibility.

God, that would be great..

A massive document search will need to get underway days (hours?) after victory is declared to find any kind of validating evidence (a la post-1945 Nuremburg trial document gathering) ... and then there will be very serious concerns (some genuine, some politically expedient) over American falsification, evidence tampering, and censoring.

Amen to that. The US military, in fact, the US itself has a terrible track record of late (look at guantanamo bay, people held in violation to the Geneva convention, because they're not held as citizens of a nation the US is at war with. 'cause, y'know, no nation. Still being called a war, though. IMO, history will judge Bush jr. harshly. Like most of Europe sees the idiot already, as it were.)

I think we should expect the worst kind of squelching post-war, if for no other reason then to create the illusion of evidence, because the lack of it will be a terrible validation of arguments of America's global bullying.

Agreed.

A revelation left to another decade, unless FOIA gets revoked by the Patriot Act. :-)

..yet another example of idioct, yeah. I know it's meant humorously, but sadly I can't be terribly amused.

Deleted comment

True, but the other thing to consider in the event is how many American lives will have been saved if Saddam is driven to broad domestic deployment of his chembio ... fewer Iraqis will reduce the national reconstruction burden as well. Whether this President is callous enough to make mention of the grim equation and capitalise on it ... well, that remains to be seen. ;-)

True, but we don't know how many lives will be lost to biochem, American and otherwise. There is no effective protection against most biochem warfare, especially since you can't really know what to expect. Mutated strains, weaponized to the extreme. It's never been faced in the field (bio, anyway. Chem gas has.) It's a big unknown, and all the more dangerous for it.

What worries me most, of late, is the talk of deploying/developing tactical nukes, and the US not excluding their use to destroy subterranean bunkers. Crazy.

Sure, rather reminds me of the revolutionary councils during interim governments with emergency powers. Liquidate the country, you de facto liquidate their citizenship, neh?

:-/

Quite..

Too early to tell how history will judge Bush Jr., one also has to consider who writes the history as well.

Very true. Sort of depends on who writes on the subject, and where.

America is utterly convinced that Reagan 'won' the Cold War don't you know? Most liberals might not believe it, but they aren't fighting the textbook battle, so new generations who never knew the Cold War will generally believe what they're told.

Good god...you're kidding, right? The USSR crumbled, that's for sure, but it wasn't so much a Victory for Reagan as a collapse of the soi-disant Communism they practiced. Does kind of explain Bush's idiotic statements in his State of the Union address, I guess. I went to an 'American' international school, but we got a balanced education, near as I can tell; both sides, no value judgement relating to a winner of a war that wasn't. I can just hope this is limited to High-School level education...

Then again, as Eddie Izzard said, in New York "Do you even know there's other countries?", so... ;-) Not that many europeans are much better, but....y'know.

No the textbook battle is mainly be fought by the Creationists. Don't get me started on them though. :-)

Aww, c'mon! You realize this is one of my favorite topics to bitch about? I remember sitting in front of the PC, fuming at the insanity of so-called Creastionist 'Science', after that Kansas Education Board fiasco banned evolution from High School classrooms...

"Stoning non conformists is part of science. Stoning conformists is also part of science. Only those theories that can stand up to a merciless barrage of stones deserve consideration. It is the Creationist habit of throwing marshmallows that we find annoying."

[Patriot Act non-enforcement]

Well, go your city!
True, but we don't know how many lives will be lost to biochem, American and otherwise. There is no effective protection against most biochem warfare, especially since you can't really know what to expect. Mutated strains, weaponized to the extreme. It's never been faced in the field (bio, anyway. Chem gas has.) It's a big unknown, and all the more dangerous for it.

You know, this may sound naive, but for the bulk of the known missing quantity of chembio, I actually believe the Iraqis ... I think they genuinely lost it. Between the chaos of their wrecked C&C from 1991, and the subsequent years of hiding whatever they could, wherever they could from UN inspectors (and not leaving a paper trail), they probably don't know where a lot of their stuff is.

They may have a small quantity set aside that they do know what to do with, but I doubt it can pose a massive contagion, globally let alone regionally.

What worries me most, of late, is the talk of deploying/developing tactical nukes, and the US not excluding their use to destroy subterranean bunkers. Crazy.

Yup, if Uncle Sam is going to willfully use nukes, even 'surgically' (or even especially so), best get your own, yesterday!

Good god...you're kidding, right? The USSR crumbled, that's for sure, but it wasn't so much a Victory for Reagan as a collapse of the soi-disant Communism they practiced.

Not, I'm afraid I'm not joking. The more intellectual amongst the Republicans will argue it was Reagan's massive deficit-fuelled military build-up the prompted Glasnost, then collapse. That Gorbachev was a pawn of circumstances largely manipulated by American might.

Reagan is a great hero (Great Hero even) of the Republican Party and quite a large number of Americans. Why else would they name national airport, federal building, and aircraft carrier after the man who hasn't even died yet?!

Does kind of explain Bush's idiotic statements in his State of the Union address, I guess. I
went to an 'American' international school, but we got a balanced education, near as I can tell; both sides, no value judgement relating to a winner of a war that wasn't. I can just hope this is limited to High-School level education...


Hard to say. Most upper level education is dedicated to marketable skills over intellectual and philosophical growth. On the other hand, the right-wing always decries America's universities for its liberal bias(-es).

re: stoning/Creationists

nice quote!
I've been through those myself and here's my conclusion:

For those such schools that aren't refurbished missionary schools which I have no experience with, I've found them to be quite good. Very good in fact, when compared with the norm of public/state education in the US proper.

Kind of sort of took me a year to realise that the best public/state school system in the US at the time was placing scholastic demands just 50% of what I was taught at the 'American' international school in Taiwan.

Example: my Spanish foreign language course in Taiwan, at its most rudimentary '1' level was fully equal to two years of lessons ('1' and '2') in Virgina. Very odd considering the underbelly of Virginia's economy was Latino labour.


For those such schools that aren't refurbished missionary schools which I have no experience with, I've found them to be quite good. Very good in fact, when compared with the norm of public/state education in the US proper.

Considering you pay good (or ridiculous) money to attend, that's a good thing, I'll wager.

Kind of sort of took me a year to realise that the best public/state school system in the US at the time was placing scholastic demands just 50% of what I was taught at the 'American' international school in Taiwan.

Yeesh. A friend of mine attended (apparently) one of the best public schools in Virginia (Close to Langley, Newport News, somewhere like that); he was strictly a B/C student at ASP (American School of Paris), bright kid, no genius; he didn't even have to take his finals in the US because he had an A average. Which just weirded me out.

Granted, I have an 'American High School Diploma' somewhere, no exams needed, but it's not enough qualification to get me into any university whatsoever over here.

Example: my Spanish foreign language course in Taiwan, at its most rudimentary '1' level was fully equal to two years of lessons ('1' and '2') in Virgina. Very odd considering the underbelly of Virginia's economy was Latino labour.

Ah well...the strangeness of education, I guess. I doubt language teaching's much more advanced in much of Europe, though; France is getting better, England's track record is deplorable, Italy's crap at it, don't really know about Spain. The Netherlands, Belgium are still very good, Germany a little less, Greece is surprisingly good as well.
[losing BioChem Arsenal] They may have a small quantity set aside that they do know what to do with, but I doubt it can pose a massive contagion, globally let alone regionally.

Heh. Here's hoping, on that count. I don't know about 'lost', but I also really don't know about ever having had a deployable biochemical arsenal in the first place. Chem weapons are simple, had them, working, since WW II. Biologicals are damned complicated to deliver effectively if the opposing army is prepared for them. So no, I don't see them as a huuuuuge threat. They're a dangerous terrorist's tool, not much more.

Yup, if Uncle Sam is going to willfully use nukes, even 'surgically' (or even especially so), best get your own, yesterday!

Has the Home Shopping Network run specials yet?

Not, I'm afraid I'm not joking. The more intellectual amongst the Republicans will argue it was Reagan's massive deficit-fuelled military build-up the prompted Glasnost, then collapse. That Gorbachev was a pawn of circumstances largely manipulated by American might.

Oh, please. Sure, it'll have played a part, no doubt, but it's downright naive to put things in such overtly simplistic cause/effect relationships.

Reagan is a great hero (Great Hero even) of the Republican Party and quite a large number of Americans. Why else would they name national airport, federal building, and aircraft carrier after the man who hasn't even died yet?!

Because they're fools? Hell, beats me, but I just don't get it. At all. Patriotism and Party Political Hero Worship is a strange (and potentially dangerous) thing..

Hard to say. Most upper level education is dedicated to marketable skills over intellectual and philosophical growth. On the other hand, the right-wing always decries America's universities for its liberal bias(-es).

'cept for the Good Christshun ones, I'll wager ;-)

(yes, I have 'issues' with religion. Particularly when it interferes with things like ethics and science. Brr.)

re: stoning/Creationists - nice quote!

Here, have another few. It's on the house:

"Geology shows that fossils are of different ages. Paleontology shows a fossil sequence, the list of species representing changes through time. Taxonomy shows biological relationships among species. Evolution is the explanation that threads it all together. Creationism is the practice of squeeezing one's eyes shut and wailing "DOES NOT!""

"Your own science has found fossilized fish on the tops of HIGH mountains. Do you think they took up mountain climbing some 70 gagillion years ago?" -- Greg Waggy, Fundamentalist Christian
[chembio]

yes, the invading army will be ready. Chemicals may be simple to produce, but they require volume ... so transport becomes difficult to conceal. Also, their residency time is shorter, which makes cleanup easier (in view of post-war rebuild)

[HSN]

Pah! Don't you know the Home Shopping Network is just a front for the CIA (which is a front for the mailmen which is a front for the space aliens who are a front for the Bavarian Order?!)

Oh, please. Sure, it'll have played a part, no doubt, but it's downright naive to put things in such overtly simplistic cause/effect relationships.

Right, I'll be reporting you to the Committee on UnAmerican activities...oh you're not American, hmmm, how convenient for us... :-)

[religion/ethics/science]

Why-uh Our Lord Jesus-uh has already shown to Me-uh that Sci-ence-uh is Immoral-uh!

(and don't you know the Earth has only been around for 4000 years?)

Heretics to the fire. ;-p

------
"Well, quite. The US and UK might point and say 'see? It's a good thing we did this!' Thing is, it doesn't prove anything. So he may have biochem at his disposal. Made, if he does have it, with supplies from US companies. Doesn't prove he was going to supply it to terrorists, attack the west, etc. Conjecture to the extreme.

True, but the other thing to consider in the event is how many American lives will have been saved if Saddam is driven to broad domestic deployment of his chembio ... fewer Iraqis will reduce the national reconstruction burden as well. Whether this President is callous enough to make mention of the grim equation and capitalise on it ... well, that remains to be seen. ;-)

The US military, in fact, the US itself has a terrible track record of late (look at guantanamo bay, people held in violation to the Geneva convention, because they're not held as citizens of a nation the US is at war with. 'cause, y'know, no nation. Still being called a war, though. IMO, history will judge Bush jr. harshly. Like most of Europe sees the idiot already, as it were.)

Sure, rather reminds me of the revolutionary councils during interim governments with emergency powers. Liquidate the country, you de facto liquidate their citizenship, neh?

Too early to tell how history will judge Bush Jr., one also has to consider who writes the history as well. America is utterly convinced that Reagan 'won' the Cold War don't you know? Most liberals might not believe it, but they aren't fighting the textbook battle, so new generations who never knew the Cold War will generally believe what they're told. No the textbook battle is mainly be fought by the Creationists. Don't get me started on them though. :-)

re: amusement

Nor I. At least my city has passed a resolution refusing to enforce the Patriot Act in its municipal limits.

I wrote a big-ass reply that's not showing up anywhere. Annoying.

Short version: US's military self-assurance and downright ridiculous pride is scary. Arguments explaining why they 'won' Vietnam, ie, they killed more people, would lead us to believe Germany won WWII. S'yeah, right.

American revisionist History. Bah, humbug.

As for Bush, and reelections, I pray to god the fuck up badly. And I predict large casualties, whatever happens. Saddam's not one for diplomacy, as such. Even Fox News can't make many US deaths a good thing.

As for the whole Al Qaeda thing: go invade and depose the damn Saudi's if you want to deal with that. Worse than Iraq, that country, on many, many levels, I'd say, despite the Buddy buddy attitude with the west. It's the supreme hypocrisy that gets me every time
Short version: US's military self-assurance and downright ridiculous pride is scary. Arguments explaining why they 'won' Vietnam, ie, they killed more people, would lead us to believe Germany won WWII. S'yeah, right.

Well, Patton, is dramatised as being keen on rearming the Germans to finish the job that Nazis started on the Soviets. Get them while he still had an army to do it with, as it were. :-)

Yes, well as I see it ever since Bella Wood (sp?) and the First World War, US citizenry really aren't keen on sending 'their boys' under foreign command, and to be so utterly immasculated by chess-piece warfare a la trenches. Better to have overwhelming firepower and logistical might at the opening blow. A philosophy validated in the Second World War. The process of this philosophy is more and more 'stand off' fighting with more and more tech. It leads to a kind of confidence in this process.

Such a confidence that it distracts from the bigger picture of how war fits into relations, wider goals, and all the rest.

Say what one will about Stalin getting his hands on the bomb, but with that kind of reigning philosophy, it was good that America's nuclear monopoly was broken.

The Koreans and Vietnamese both deserve credit for restating the conflict on a political dimension and one of raw willpower alone. These techniques, though horrific in lost lives and wasted opportunities did neutralise, even defeat America's raw firewpower.

Bush Sr. managed to defeat the 'Vietnam syndrome' because he was a masterful international operator ... he built the vital global support, outdancing skilled Iraqi negotiators in that diplomatic arena long before a single bomb was dropped. Sadly, the American people were told the victory was from the technological superiority alone. Yes, that was tactically important, but strategically the 'victory' was owed to superior diplomacy.

So Americans are back on the 'technology=victory' belief, and forgetting the critical importance of diplomacy in such affairs, I think.

To some degree, the raw power manipulators are correct - if one can force the situation as one likes, one doesn't need friends or approval. Problem is, you'll definitely need friends later, since the future is unknown and willing friends are better than unwilling serfs or enemies.

As for Bush, and reelections, I pray to god the fuck up badly. And I predict large casualties, whatever happens. Saddam's not one for diplomacy, as such. Even Fox News can't make many US deaths a good thing.

Well, as far as lives are concerned, I sincerely hope there aren't bad fuckups. I don't expect large casualties, I don't expect a chembio retaliation. Rather I expect grinding attrition for the next two decades as Iraq, then the region, proves to be a massive resource-bleed for the US, its economy, and its military ('containment' resources of the past decade will be sucked into Iraq to keep it stable, then the add-on invasion forces may have to be kept mobilised ad infinitum to keep the rest of the region stable as flares up happen). I think actual civilian losses post-war are going to be appalling, but that'll be limited to those few human rights groups' video productions with a distribution limited to the channels no one watches. Any mention on major networks will be sanitised to the point of ho-hum reaction, at best.

Quite interesting to see how things are handled when occupation Iraq unravels into ethnic civil strife (possibly backed by various ethnic neighbours) ... radicalising domestic politics in Iran, Turkey, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait ... then on down the rest of the Gulf, and possibly over to Israel, Palestine, and Egypt.

Frankly a fucking horrible witches' brew, and now the US is going to stir the whole thing up.

It might just be the vehicle to make this century the Chinese century by 2030. ;-)



Yes, well as I see it ever since Bella Wood (sp?) and the First World War, US citizenry really aren't keen on sending 'their boys' under foreign command, and to be so utterly immasculated by chess-piece warfare a la trenches.

Also explains their pathetic-ass and ludicrous objectives to the International Criminal Court, I guess.

Better to have overwhelming firepower and logistical might at the opening blow. A philosophy validated in the Second World War. The process of this philosophy is more and more 'stand off' fighting with more and more tech. It leads to a kind of confidence in this process.

Heh, quite. Actually, now I remember what I found so horribly, horribly, horribly wrong about Bush's State of the Union Address: his claim that the US acted out of noble idealistic means when it went off and Saved Yurp in the Second World War.

A goodly, what, 3 years late, and only after Japan bombed Pearl. Yeah. Convincing argument there. Not.

Such a confidence that it distracts from the bigger picture of how war fits into relations, wider goals, and all the rest.

I'll say...

[aside: wonder what the relatively a-political Niall thinks about us hijacking his thread?]

Say what one will about Stalin getting his hands on the bomb, but with that kind of reigning philosophy, it was good that America's nuclear monopoly was broken.

MAD kept both sides in check, I guess. Created plenty of material for Spy Novels, but a healthy mindset it's not. The thing I'm wondering about is whether the US has BioChem weapons stockpiled. Forgive me for not believing their withdrawl from international treaties on the subject was purely an issue of sovreignty.

[Bush Sr.]Yes, that was tactically important, but strategically the 'victory' was owed to superior diplomacy. So Americans are back on the 'technology=victory' belief, and forgetting the critical importance of diplomacy in such affairs, I think.

There was also the direct issue of agression in the Gulf War. And, say what one might about his Vice President, Bush Sr. wasn't the idiot his son is. Powell's a reasonable diplomat; the rest of them, especially post 9/11, have turned to a black/white mentality that's downright suicidal.

Bush just isn't the man for real international politics. I don't believe for a moment that he's learned enough in office to be able to deal with diplomacy on the level that's required of the world's only Superpower's leader. I can but recall the cringeworthy interviews given during the early part of his campaign. His advisors may be good, but if you can't string a sentence of proper english together (and even when people write your speeches, you manage to cock it all up..), well, not good.

[Iraq: what'll it be]

Agree with most of that. It's a mess there, frankly. This is no Afghanistan. To think that installing what *will* be seen as a US puppet government will sell the region on the Good of Democracy (hello? This is a part of the world where people believe in religeous *law*. They're not ready for secularised democracy. Israel, arguably one of the most democratic nations, is still run by religeous lunatics.) and create stability is laughable in my eyes.

It's not going to be pretty, that much is certain. I just fear that this could be taken as an excuse to increase military spending to idiotic cold-war levels again.

*sigh*

We'll see, I guess
[ICC]

Probably. The supercop can't be beholden to laws, no no no.

Address: his claim that the US acted out of noble idealistic means when it went off and Saved Yurp in the Second World War. A goodly, what, 3 years late, and only after Japan bombed Pearl. Yeah. Convincing argument there. Not.

Well, I've heard that argument so often now I barely even register it anymore. What I find more interesting is that Bush would use such a 'new deal Democrat' ... dangerous dangerous, losing sight of his Republican allegiance I think. :-)

Now really, you don't really expect a President at the State of the Union to say, thanks to our guarded entry into that war, we managed to let the Europeans bleed themselves white so that we could inherit their Empire ... and look how much better we've managed it too! ;-)

[MAD]

More than just keeping all that in check, I think the genuine importance was that it gave time for people to seriously reconsider this entire culture of violence-fueled power politics. That didn't ultimately sway anyone during the Cold War, but it did found deeply-rooted alternative philosophies of varying popularity that democracies *have* to respond to. Removal of American bombs from Britain, for example.

[whether the US has BioChem weapons stockpiled]

Yes. Older stock from 1940s-late 60s has been incinerated safely at Johnston Atoll. However the US has declared it has an unspecified quantity still in supply 'just in case' and for lab research. I don't know if production facilities have been dismantled, but I know a major mil chem facility is located in Colorado, just upstream from the main Coors brewing plant.

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[hijacking Niall's thread]

I dunno, he and I would hijack OUSFG's pre-Wiki Newsgroup far too often, so I suppose it's a kind of justice. In my case at least, it wouldn't be a punishment that would work. ;-)

I just hope he'll keep posting political things from time to time. It's worth thinking and talking over, probably the oldest conversation in human existence.


[aside: wonder what the relatively a-political Niall thinks about us hijacking his thread?]

Carry on, carry on. I've often thought you two would have a lot to talk about. Plus, lots of comments make me look popular. :-p
Would do, but I think all that can be said has been said without involving Hitler or the Nazis (oh damn, they've been used already haven't they?) ...

well, at least until Powell makes his case to the UN. It'll be interesting to see what evidence he'll unveil.

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As for Saddam's TV interview, I haven't seen it properly, so shouldn't comment on it. He probably is lying, but then he may just be telling enough of the truth. In any event, Rumsfeld's response was entirely juvenile.

(am I the only one who gets the sense that these old codgers are just a step away from taking hiring their speechwriters from MTV?)
Agree with a lot of it, with reservations. 'cept for this oft repeated stab at Saddam and his terrorist buddies. Go piss of the Saudi's if you're looking for people with terrorist buddies.
After all, he's a great ventriloquist, and he'd never make anything up (after all, he has other people to do that....)