Rethinking Imperialism

One of the effects of the Soviet meme war I’ve been writing about
recently is that to most educated Westerners it is absolutely taboo to
think that Western imperialism might have been a good thing. Since
the end of World War II, even conservatives have generally conceded
this point, as a way not to look reactionary with respect to a class
of controversies that seemed safely dead. Why defend imperialism when
your country no longer has either the desire or the capability to
engage in it?

Unfortunately, as I observed
in 2002
, some parts of the Third World have now become so
dangerous to the whole world that some kind of neo-imperialism seems
to be required of us as a matter of self-defence. Or, as I put it a
few months before the second Iraq war began,

In the 19th century, the Western powers built empires for prestige
and economic advantage. In the 21st century, we may be discovering
that we need to get back into the imperialism business as a matter of
survival. It may turn out that the 20th century was an interlude
doomed to end as cheap transportation made the world smaller and
improving weapons technology made large-scale destruction inexpensive
even for barbarian thugs like Saddam Hussein.

Envy the British of Sir Richard Burton’s time. They could conquer
half the world for simple gain without worrying about the
Fuzzy-Wuzzies or the Ndebele aerosol-dropping pasteurella pestis on
Knightsbridge. We — and I mean specifically the U.S. now —
may have to conquer the Islamic world a second time, simply because
the risks of war and the moral hazards of imperialism are less
threatening than the prospect of some Allah-crazed Islamofascist
detonating a knapsack nuke on the Smithsonian Mall.

I was only a little ahead of the curve on this one. In the war
year of 2003, historian Niall Ferguson came at the same question from
a slightly different angle in Empire:
How Britain Made the Modern World
and, later, in
Colossus: The Price of America’s Empire
. A summary of his
argument can be read here.
Ferguson makes a strong case that the British Empire was, despite
obvious flaws, a good thing for the world. In 2006 that seems an even
more difficult case to refute than it did three years ago — one
doubts, for example, that an Iran still run by the British would be
threatening to nuke Israel.

Ferguson goes on to argue explicitly that the U.S. has a global
empire, that contrary to the fulminations of remnant Marxists this is
a positive development, and that we’d bloody well better get
good at running it. I’m not so sure about that; writing as an
economist rather than a cultural historian, I have argued that U.S.
hegemony has neither the intentions nor the structural features of
empire. (Analysis continued here.)

For libertarian reasons, I hope the U.S. hegemony can continue to
get away with not having the structural features of empire. Because,
in the long run, empire is bad for the imperialist country itself on
many levels ranging from economic to moral. Imperialists have to spend
a lot of blood, treasure, and talent maintaining their dominion; the
common end result is that the home-country economy is hollowed out and
the imperial class becomes lazy and parasitic. Former imperial powers
tend to degrade into stultified, shambolic backwaters absorbed in
tattered dreams of past glory.

Still, at this point in world history it’s fair to reopen the older
question: was imperialism so bad for the natives? Are there cases where
they should have been grateful to be overrun and ruled by foreigners with
Maxim guns? Are there cases where they were grateful, and even still are?

Actually, the answer turns out to be yes. The two most conspicuous
cases I know of are the Phillippines and Belize — both places where a
primarily non-European population looks rather fondly on its colonial
occupiers. Some parts of what was formerly French West Africa have
positive memories as well.

Very few places other than the Phillippines ever had the good luck to
be colonized by Americans, and it’s indicative of the ‘good luck’ that
almost all of them are parts of the U.S. now and the natives’
descendants have full citizenship and are more numerous and wealthier
than when they were at time of first contact.

But, as Ferguson eloquently argues, the British empire was
generally a pretty good deal for the natives. Railroads, sanitation,
and the rule of law count for rather a lot. And by objective measures
like incidence of famine, warfare, and civil disorder much of Africa
(and Pakistan, and Bangladesh, and Southeast Asia) has been worse off
since independence than under colonial rule.

More generally, whether imperialism was a good thing our not
depends on who the imperialists were. All were bad some of the time,
but only some were bad all of the time. Japanese imperialism was a genocidal
nightmare, and the Russian Empire’s brutality was limited mainly by
its incompetence. What the Belgians got up to in the Congo doesn’t
bear much thinking about either.

But the Germans, despite nasty spots like the Herero massacres,
weren’t too awful. Nor the French; they, like the British, believed
in a mission civilatrice and usually behaved
accordingly. Another objective check on this is that France still has
overseas departments in the Third World that are in no hurry to get
out from under the supposed yoke of European domination.

I think Niall Ferguson is correct when he argues that what made the
British Empire mostly a good thing was the presence of a strong
classical-liberal critique of empire from within itself. The effect
was that the British were unable to resist demands for autonomy and
liberty from their subject peoples once those subjects had become
civilized enough to make those demands in the language of classical
liberalism.

What was true of the British is even more true of the U.S., as (for
example) the independence of the Phillippines demonstrates. In Iraq,
which opponents of the U.S. repesent as an imperial adventure, there
has never been any question that the Iraqis would swiftly form their
own government and have political independence from the U.S.; the
option of ruling the country through proconsuls as we did for years
after WWII in Germany and Japan wasn’t even on the table.

A kinder, gentler, imperialism? Yes, actually; but, as Ferguson
and I have pointed out, the U.S.’s behavior is still continuous with
the entire history of Western imperialism, with all the promises and perils
that implies. Which means that, rather than accepting the simple
“imperialism = evil” equation dinned into us us by the Soviets and
their apologists, we need to learn from that history and, as much as
possible, try to avoid the bad parts and replicate the good.

187 thoughts on “Rethinking Imperialism

  1. #…that Western imperialism might have been a good thing.

    Good for whom? British imperialism existed solely as a means to British ends. The British colonised India, bought raw material at dirt cheap rates and sold the finished product at exorbitant prices. Their imperialism was no different from the Soviet communist principles – a single East India Company set all the rules that an enslaved India followed. They might have been partially responsible for sanitizing society from a few inhuman aspects of Hindu practise, like sati and dowry, and they did introduce rails, but they also introduced an educational system that trained the Indian masses to be no better than clerks, the effects which still linger around today.

    Good or bad? It is more accurate, I think, to say that imperialism, Western or otherwise, is inevitable. A strong nation conquers, a weak one makes peace.

  2. Well, if British imperialist was such a good idea, why don’t the Americans give up their independence and constitution and go back to call themselves subjetcs of the Queen?

    Think of the advantages: no American civil war, no need for elections, politicians, no CIA, Vietnam War, Iraq War…many people in this planet would be quite happy with the idea..

  3. People seem to make a big stink that the Roman and British Empires EVENTUALLY fell. Nevermind the CENTURIES of peace and prosparity. Will the U.S. Empire fall in 100-200 years? Who knows and who cares.

    Mr. Kaisare seems to think Western imperialism was evil. He seems to think the Indians would have invented and built railroads sometime in the future (1000 years perhaps?). That democratic India doesn’t resemble despotic China seems to beyond his feeble grasp of concepts.

    The whole concept of “Westerm imperialism = evil” is in itself a fraud. It was spawned by Lenin to justify why capitalism hadn’t conformed to the divine predictions of Marx and the Marxists. That this braindead meme continues to live (like a zombie) is only testiment that our culture is horribly corrupted by the slave morality of the Left, which has infected the West for 200 years and is devolving us into savages.

  4. Two other case studies to measure the question against are the Roman Empire and the Redmond empire. Between Rome, England, and Redmond we have an alphabet, English, and the CUA interface. Good news, bad news, who can say?

  5. >Well, if British imperialist was such a good idea, why don’t the Americans give up their independence and constitution and go back to call themselves subjetcs of the Queen?

    Um…because the Brits fucked up badly and we pasted them a good one for it?

    That may sound like a flip answer, but it isn’t. The Brits generally ruled relatively wisely, but they did particular things in the American Colonies that were deeply stupid and inflammatory. They might have gotten away with it, except that the colonists (unlike, say, the inhabitants of Matabeleland or Cawnpore even a century later) had the material (and more importantly, cultural) resources to revolt and make it stick.

  6. The big drawback with imperialism is that once you start, everybody wants one. You can claim you’re not really gaining by it, it’s just your duty – you might even be right, but everybody else will want one anyway. And unlike the voluntary inernational relations which leftists call “economic imperialism”, it’s pretty much a zero sum game – If you want empire, and there’s no colonies spare, you have to grab someone else’s.
    “Imperialism is bad” is a bit simplistic, but it’s a fairly good rule of thumb.

  7. “the British were unable to resist demands for autonomy and liberty from their subject peoples once those subjects had become civilized enough to make those demands in the language of classical liberalism.”

    How does the American revolution fit in this? Yes, the natives weren’t “native” in the usual sense of the word, but so what? The demands you mention were made and people had to be killed in order for them to be met. If anything, the subjects didn’t really have to become more civilized, they already were at the same standard of civilization as the colonial masters.

    And you can’t call it secession when there’s no representation…

    You make a tempting argument, but I think it’s wrong to mix up defense with empire-building. If troops need to be in Iraq in order for the US to be safer (I have my doubts but let’s say so for the sake of argument), any long-term benefits to the Iraquis can only be fortunate byproducts. The justification, from the US side, has to stand only on whether this defends us from some threat, and whether it’s the best way/timing possible to mount such a defense.

    If, for example, Saudi Arabia was substituted for Iraq, the argument of it being a defense against Islamists would be clearer – along the lines of “cut the enemy’s economic lifeline”.

  8. I suspect that if King George III hadn’t been insane or had slightly better advisers, they simply would have done for the American colonies what they did for Canada 91 years later, probably with a more monarchical flavour. eg. with a real House of Lords instead of a Senate.

  9. Very few places other than the Phillippines ever had the good luck to be colonized by Americans

    One could say that the entire western US was colonized before it was assimilated politically into the greater state. But this just proves your point. California, Oklahoma, Texas: all are success stories from an imperialistic perspective.

    There is an irony to our reluctance to colonize countries – had we truly colonized Iraq in 2003, I would argue that it would be safer, more advanced, and a firm military asset in the GWOT. Bush chose to let them have their head, and so we have a political asset in the region instead.

  10. That’s the way to do it, Eric!

    Go ahead – tell them everything. Tell them how we are going to unite all the hackers under the stars and stripes. We’ll kick those ba****ds who tried to kill my daddy!

    They’ll pay with their oil – I’m setting up Arbusto Overseas, by the way, and you’ve been given a 1% stake in it. Isn’t it wonderful – hackers are now also involved in the reconstruction of Iraq!

    Oh yes. I’ve wired a billion dollars of taxpayer’s money into your account. I need you to develop a LAMP architecture that can run my missile guidance system. Our latest missile missed a classified enemy holdout and blew up one of Saddam Hussein’s harems that I was hoping to keep for myself. I think it may have been because we were using Windows CE.

    As agreed, I’ll personally see to it that the SCO code is delivered into your hands. Speaking of which, I suggest you invest in a few put options soon….

    See ya, pal!

  11. John, is it possible that what Canada witnessed was a result of the American experience?

    Doesn’t matter; the distinction must be made between groups primarily of the mother country and “ethnic others.” The occupation of the Philippines was “ethnic others.” America wasn’t. Apples and Oranges probably.

  12. esr says:
    “Um…because the Brits fucked up badly and we pasted them a good one for it?”

    That’s actually a pretty accurate analysis.

    If we go back to around the year 1750, the vast majority of American Colonists were perfectly happy to be subjects of the British Crown. The colonies had their own parliaments and the governors that exercised executive power were the King’s representatives, and were for the most part fair and competant. Because of the chaos that England went through in the 17th century, the colonists developed a traditon of running their own affairs, without much input from the mother country.

    There were a lot of factors causing this situation to spin out of control, most notably the English Parliament’s assuming that they were the superior to the colonial assemblies., as well as the King’s meddling in the affairs of Parliament. I also think that the fact that the aristocracy held much contempt for the colonists had a lot to do with it too.

    Benjamin Franklin was sent to England as a trade ambassador for several of the colonies, and he was treated as a poor relation, even though he was a far better man than the “nobles” who despised him for his fur hat and sharp wit. George Washington served well as an officer in the colonial army during the French and Indian War, but was denied a commission in the regular British Army. Even though he came from the Virginia gentry, that wasn’t quite the same as being part of the landed aristocracy. It’s one of those great “what ifs”: had the British not been so snobbish and given Washington his commission, he would have remained loyal to the Crown, and there would likely have not been an American Revolution.

    The fact that there was no Canadian Revolution means to me that the British learned something from the experience.

  13. >How does the American revolution fit in this?

    Rather neatly, actually. There was a strong pro-American party in British politics of the 1770s that knew perfectly well Lord North’s administration was shafting the colonies; American pleas for “the rights of Englishmen” found a lot of sympathetic ears, which is exactly my and Ferguson’s point. Such a development would have been imaginable to only a limited extent in France, and not really at all under the other imperial powers.

    The Whigs who supported the American colonists were later (in the early 1800s) the drivers behind free trade, the adoption of the universal franchise, and the suppression of slavery. Indeed, if you need more evidence that the British Empire was more than a mere machine of exploitation, you need look no further than its determined efforts to suppress the slave trade after 1832.

  14. The person to read on this subject is Eric Hoffer. Imperialism is only workable over the long run when those colonised have no means to speak for themselves coherently, or when their best speakers are on the side of the imperialists.

    The Romans maintiained their control of the Greek-speaking world for 600 years because they honored Greek intellectuals and thus had little trouble from the Greek-speaking masses. The western barbarians were illiterate and so virtually impossible to rally to acts of civil disobedience. The Romans found no Ghandi in Gaul.

    The British probably could have held on in India a lot longer, had they more respect for literate Hindus. The type of overlords the British sent to India were practical men, with a great love of action, and no love of words, or wordsmiths. And so they were chased out by a lawyer.

    America cannot form a stable Empire because, as a nation, we cannot gain the support of intellectuals anywhere in the world. The great masses of people in every nation would trade their right arm for a Green Card, but the elites of all nations hate America. The educated elites most of all. If you want to organize a party to burn the Stars and Stripes, virtually any college campus on Earth will accomodate you.

    The quality of American rule has no bearing on the measureless loathing of the intelligentsia. Our enemies in Iraq cut off the heads of journalists and deliberately bomb schoolchildren, and Noam Chomsky is indifferent. There are no benefits we could bring to the natives of our empire that would satiate the most learned among them. We are (or at least we try to be) a nation of the people, by the people, and for the people. No elite class which considers itself above the people could ever stomach us. In their eyes, we are vileness incarnate.

    What group of intellectuals anywhere could bring themselves to play Greece to our Rome?

    Without a Greece, without someone to speak for us, and placate the native masses, our Empire could never stand, not even for a little while.

  15. Also according to Hoffer, the French tried with limited success to maintain their central African holdings by keeping the natives illiterate, much as the Confederates did with their slaves. The problem for the colonial French was the Catholic church, which insisted on educating the natives in order to bring them to Christ. The choir-boys then turned revolutionaries as soon as they attained manhood and a gun. And so it goes.

    In an Internet-worked world, how would we ever keep the natives down on the farm, when every day they could Google pictures of Paree?

  16. Our Talibanic enemies, on the other hand, who want to establish a global Caliphate, have the right Imperial idea. If they ever rule the world, the boys will all go to madrassas where they will learn to recite the Koran. The will learn that the Koran is not just a source of truth, it is the source of the ONLY truth, which makes all other truth anathema.

    And the girls, Allah bless them, will be beaten with a stick if they are ever caught looking at a book.

    The Caliphate will have no problems with its intelligentsia. No crescent-moon flags will be burned on any campus. Ever.

  17. Due to its intellectual unanimity, the Caliphate will be extremely stable politically. The Egypt of the Pharaohs, where all learned men were priests, lasted for 3500 years. Until they met a Macedonian named Alexander.

    The Caliphate will also be technologically sterile and so meet the same ultimate fate as the Pharaohs: destruction at the hands of an enemy. Pace Douglas Adams, we can expect that the global Caliphate will end when the Earth is destroyed by aliens to make way for a new intergalactic highway. Of course, we could stop the aliens if we had our own (heavily armed) spaceships.

    But alas, under the glorious rule of Allah, that doesn’t seem like a realistic option. And so it goes.

  18. The other thing an Empire requires (besides illiterate or 5th column natives) is a deep and popular conviction in the home country, that they are better, in the eyes of God, than the Barbarians and thus justified in using force to make the savages change their ways.

    America is built on the idea that one man is as good as the next, so how would an American empire work, exactly? Are we to be egalitarians on our home soil and racists in the colonies? What if one of the natives applies for a Green Card?

  19. I like to mess with people’s minds by pointing out that the Islamic world is the biggest, most aggressive imperialist hegemony in the world today, and has been at various times in the past. And it is at least as ruthless amd oppressive as the Roman Empire at its height.

  20. Now, suppose we avoid the global Caliphate and spread democracy and freedom to the four corners of the globe. What then? Fans may recall that Robert Heinlein believed that space travel would destroy the Earth.

    The logic goes like this: Space is where the future is and only a small subset of the race has the brains to realize that combined with the balls to do something about it, namely emigrate. So when space travel gets cheap enough, every generation Terrestrial humanity will lose its top, say, 3 percent. Leaving each successive generation that much poorer in intelligence, ambition, courage, etc.

    Over time, Earth-bound humans become a lesser race, comprehensively inferior to the challenges they face. Too stupid to reason their way out of difficulty, and to cowardly to fight their way out. They end up drowning in their own incompetance and bile, taking the biosphere with them.

    Meanwhile, extraTerrestrial humanity, culled by natural selection, speads to the farthest reaches of the universe.

    So what does that mean for those who fight for progress and freedom today? To the degree that you are successful in furthering your goals, there is a certain futility to all that you do. For if you succeed and Mr. Heinlein is right about the consequences, everything on Earth that you build is one day gonna burn.

    How’s that for a cheery thought to start off your weekend?

  21. If the above scenario seems far fetched to you, consider the fate of Europe. For 400 years America has been taking the most ambitious, determined, independent-minded people Europe had to offer. And the European ruling class was often glad to be rid of the trouble-making riff-raff. And what is Europe now?

    A bitter has-been filled with opium dreams of past glories and no future.

  22. Egypt fell to the Persian Empire. Alexander conquered it as a side effect of conquering that empire, and although the next dynasty of pharaohs was Greek, they were ruling an Egypt pretty much unaffected by the successive conquests.

  23. John Cowan,
    True enough. The end of the Pharoahs was not a succinct or as poetic as I put it. But they were still a virtually stagnant state crushed by enemies who changed with the times while the Pharoahs dicked around.

  24. America is built on the idea that one man is as good as the next,

    That one American is as good as the next, maybe. You don’t have to scratch around very much to pick up the hint of a whiff of an idea that they might just as a group be (memetically, if not genetically) superior to various other groups (eg Europeans, Muslims etc). And the rubes will think it’s genetic a lot of the time.

  25. Dean, nevermind the other 3500 years when Egypt more or less successfully thrived and grew. Your account of history doesn’t seem to account for the many internal struggles, changes of rulers, and general survival against many odds. Sure, at some point the empire lost its driving force. Your POV fails to explain the other 3300 years. Do you think the pyramids and monuments, and all the many manifestations of culture were built by a people unable to find their asses with both hands and a map?

    Sure, the sabretooth tiger was a species doomed to extinction due to its useless, hindering claws. Pity it survived for almost three million years.

  26. #Mr. Kaisare seems to think Western imperialism was evil. He seems to think the Indians would have invented and built railroads sometime in the future (1000 years perhaps?). That democratic India doesn’t resemble despotic China seems to beyond his feeble grasp of concepts.

    Not at all. You read poorly – you missed the part where I state that imperialism, Western or otherwise, is *inevitable*. And as such, it has its effects, good and bad. And the British did not come to India to elevate the Indians – they came to exploit them. I don’t know about you – but I don’t care to be exploited.

    And yes, your concepts donot include the knowledge that China was also under imperial rule – does the historical term “spheres of influence” fall within your feeble grasp of things?

    #The quality of American rule has no bearing on the measureless loathing of the intelligentsia. Our enemies in Iraq cut off the heads of journalists and deliberately bomb schoolchildren, and Noam Chomsky is indifferent.

    Yes. This is unfortunately true, inasmuch the intellectuals of the world stand indifferent to barbarism, while organising protests against civilised governments. I don’t know, though, whether liberals like Michael Moore and Noam Chomsky could actually support dictators – Moore has been accused of this,

    Eventually the US will have to live with the fact that it will always come under the spotlight. They are the sole superpower in the woeld at present, and they try to portray themselves as paragons of virtue. So when they fail to back up their claim, they will be criticised accordingly. On the other side, despots do not need to present themselves as good people, thus their evil is a given, and pretty much old hat.

  27. Kaisare, I think another thing to take into account is that people in other countries (at least, me), mind the USA “intruding in other countries’ sovereignty” even if the rulers are evil dictators, because we don’t know where it’s gonna stop. Sure, today is just for evil rulers and despotic governments. Tomorrow, as yesterday, could be to enforce debt payment, or exploitation of resources, or whatever. I don’t want that. I’d like a world government, or at least some consensus between major and minor countries, which is of course much more difficult than just the USA “rolling their own”.

    The same fear you USA libertarians have of an all-encompassing state I have of the US dictating rule to the rest of the world just because. Who can trust you, after all? So I have to be in the uncomfortable situation of “supporting Saddam” because I don’t really like the same thing happening to my country for reasons less valid.

  28. Apologists for US and British imperialism seem to have a very selective memory.

    > Actually, the answer turns out to be yes. The two most conspicuous cases I know of are the Phillippines and Belize
    > — both places where a primarily non-European population looks rather fondly on its colonial occupiers

    Belize is a very unique case and doesn’t represent imperialism in general. Britian had little strategic interest in Belize as it had little natural wealth or labor to exploit for a profit. The British government of Belize was minimal and there were few demands made on the population. Because the majority of the population was black and spoke creole english, they had little interest in being part of spanish-speaking Guatemala which they viewed as being a worse colonial master than the British. A sparse, isolated population under 100,000 with lots of isolated groups like the Maya and Garifuna is hardly a good test case for proving that people enjoyed living under imperialism.

    The Philippines does not prove your point at all. Today there are some Philipinos that like the US, because many got US citizenship for fighting in WW II and saw the US as defending them against invasion from a potentially worse colonial master, the Japanese. After WW II we left the country (after helping install a pro-US dictatorship) and today the US represents the golden land of opportunity for Philippinos. But you are forgetting how the Philippinos viewed the US when it was acting like a traditional colonial power after the Spanish American War of 1898. Philippino rebels fought a long and protracted war against the US occupation of their country. It was brutal and bloody, and hardly a model of enlightened imperialism by any stretch of the imagination. Many Americans were scandalized by what their government was doing and the Philippines was one of the chief reasons that the Anti-imperialist League was formed to protest imperialist policies. It is hard to argue that the Phillipines benefitted from US rule. The vast majority of Phillipinos are extremely poor with a tiny minority of wealthy elite. One of the reasons that the average Philippino is so poor is because we installed dictators like Marcos who ruthlessly suppressed any attempts at social and economic reform that might have helped the common people.

    > Russian Empire’s brutality was limited mainly by its incompetence

    The USSR undertook imperialism in Eastern Europe largely because it was so insecure about its own safety and believed that it it needed the eastern block as a buffer zone to defend it from aggression from the West. I’m not trying to justify what the USSR did, but it is important to recognize why Stalin acted the way he acted. Remember that the US and Britain and France sent troops to the USSR to overthrow the Bolshevik government during the Red-White civil war. Germany had invaded the USSR in both the WW I and WW II. The US and Britain made an agreement with Stalin in Yalta, then double-crossed the USSR and refused to honor the agreement. Read Eric Alterman’s _When Presidents Lie_ for a good summary of how Roosevelt deceived the American people about what he had promised Stalin at Yalta. Subsequent presidents refused to honor the agreement. In Yalta, Stalin promised Hungary would have democratic elections– a promise he initially honored until the US refused to honor its side of the agreement. The US refused to deal with the USSR after WW II and broke its agreements–acts which caused Stalin to believe that the US was gearing up for aggression against the USSR. Stalin offered to pull out of East Germany if all of Germany would be a neutral nation not in NATO, but Eisenhower refused. Of course you can’t solely blame the USSR empire (and the cold war) on Russian insecurities, but it is a large factor according to historians. There were elements in Russia that wanted to convert the world to communism, but remember that Trosky’s internationalist wing was utterly decimated by this time and Stalin propounded a nationalist form of communism which rejected the idea that the USSR should spread revolution worldwide. Russia’s empire was a huge financial burden, with Russia transfering more wealth to Eastern Europe than it got in return. I know that most of this is going to come as a shock to people that have been fed anti-communist propaganda all their lives, but most academic historians who don’t have an ideological axe to grind believe that Stalin did not want the Cold War and was willing to give up large parts of its Eastern Empire in return for guarantees of USSR safety. In short, the US and Western Europe is partly to blame for some of USSR’s empire (certainly the Eastern German and Hungarian parts).

    > I have argued that U.S. hegemony has neither the intentions nor the structural features of empire.

    What are you counting as part of our benevolent imperialism? How about the 25- 40 year oil contracts which we are pressuring the Iraqis to sign which will cost between $74 billion and $194 billion in future revenues? http://www.globalpolicy.org/security/oil/2005/crudedesigns.htm
    How about the estimated 100,000 Iraqis who have died since we illegally invaded Iraq? How about the 5000 tons of depleted uranium which we have dropped upon Iraqis which will turn their cities into low-level radiative zones for generations to come? How about the skyrocketing unemployment rate caused by the fact that the US decided to remove tarifs on imports, so our foodstuffs and manufactured goods could flood the Iraqi market and bankrupt the Iraqi agriculture and manufacturing sectors? Is it benevolent imperialism when Iraqi farmers who can’t sell their grain because subsidized US grain has undermined their livelihood? How about the death squads we are funding and arming in Iraq?

    > some parts of the Third World have now become so dangerous to the whole world that some kind of neo-imperialism seems to
    > be required of us as a matter of self-defence

    We were hardly acting defensively when we invaded Iraq. Iraq bore us no credible threat. What we did was agression pure and simple.
    I see this same crazy reasoning being applied to Latin America all the time. The US claimed that Venezuela is a “threat” to US security and planned to overthrow a democratically elected president.

    The greatest threat to our own security is our own neoimperialism which will cause people all around the world to hate us and want to attack us. Invading Afghanistan and Iraq has generated hatred toward the US all over the world. The country whose military budget accounts for 48% of the world’s total military budget has no right to talk about self-defense when it is actively committing aggression around the globe.

  29. How about the estimated 100,000 Iraqis who have died since we illegally invaded Iraq?

    Apparently this estimate was arrived at by Noam Chomsky dropping heavy sheaves of anti-American literature onto a calculator keypad at random, alas.

  30. And the girls, Allah bless them, will be beaten with a stick if they are ever caught looking at a book.

    Most of them have no objections to education for women as long as it’s separate, which means they do miss out on a few economies of scale here and there.

    Our enemies in Iraq cut off the heads of journalists and deliberately bomb schoolchildren, and Noam Chomsky is indifferent.

    He might just think the average jihadi would just say “Noam who?”

    I’ve gone off Chomsky myself. Complains about everything else under the sun, but mysteriously quiet about Israel.

  31. The US Imperiatum doesn’t have to resemble anything from the past. I don’t think you could drum up any interest in colonization. Way too much effort for so little return.

    Much as the US Navy guarantees freedom of the seas and makes the global economy possible, so too could I see a US Protectorate guaranteeing Middle East oil extraction for the global economy. The best way to preempt the kings, sheiks and mullahs from disrupting the global economy is to take oil production completely out of their hands.

    The Saudi royals could be cached off to France and the mullahs straight to hell. I don’t expect it to happen, but it could, and perhaps it should even be considered.

  32. >>How about the estimated 100,000 Iraqis who have died since we illegally invaded Iraq?

    > Apparently this estimate was arrived at by Noam Chomsky dropping heavy sheaves of anti-American literature onto a calculator
    > keypad at random, alas.

    Actually, this estimate was done by a research team at Johns Hopkins that previously used the same methods in estimating deaths in Zaire/Congo which were widely accepted without question. The authors of the study are careful to explain how they conducted the study and it was peer-reviewed and published in the Lancet, the premier medical journal in Great Britian. Yes, it is just a statistical estimate with a wide range which was based upon only 30+ cluster samples, but even The Economist judged that it was not biased. For instance, the study threw out the 1 cluster sample taken from Falluja because it judged that it had too many deaths to be representative of Iraq as a whole. At the time that the study was published, Iraqi Body Count had counted 16,000 civilian deaths (this is not using statistical methods but actual counting from Iraqi newspapers and other sources). Today, the Iraqi Body Count has almost doubled. It is very likely that the death toll of the war is closer to 200,000 today. To be fair, Coalition forces didn’t kill most of these people, but we are responsible because we decided to invade and we have decided to stay even after it is clear that over 80% of Iraqis want us to leave. (Look at the polls conducted by the British military).

  33. Who gets the credit for all the Iragis that didn’t get killed by Saddam and Company, or the Israelis that didn’t get killed by the recipients of Saddam’s largesse, or the future Kuwaitis, Saudis or Iranians, or heaven forbid, Americans?

  34. Your use of the word “illegaly” does not go unchallenged. In 100 years the disinterested historians reviewing the UN Resolutions and United States Congressional Resolutions regarding Iraq will necessarily arrive at the correct conclusion, and the word illegal will not be part of it.

  35. > Your use of the word “illegaly” does not go unchallenged. In 100 years the disinterested historians reviewing the UN Resolutions
    > and United States Congressional Resolutions regarding Iraq will necessarily arrive at the correct conclusion, and the word illegal
    > will not be part of it.

    When Kofi Annan declared the invasion of Iraq to be illegal and a violation of the UN charter (which the US signed and is fully bound by), the overwhelming concensus among international lawyers is that Annan was right. There is no international law which allows pre-emptive war. The UN did not give authorization to the US to invade Iraq–Bush couldn’t get UN approval if you recall. The UN resolutions authorizing Gulf War I did not give the US approval to invade and occupy Iraq in Gulf War II.

    Some question whether Bush even had US congressional approval for the war.

    quoting http://www.themoderntribune.com/iraq_war_violating_the_war_powers_act.htm

    The authority under which Bush purportedly acted to go to war in Iraq arose under “House Joint Resolution Authorizing Use of Force Against Iraq, October 10, 2002” (the Iraq Resolution). However, the ostensible “statutory authority” granted to the President to was conditional.

    In fact, Congress specifically made that authority, if any, of the President to go to war with Iraq subject to the War Powers Resolution of 1973 (War Powers Act or WPA). The Iraq resolution was definite. “Nothing in this joint resolution supersedes any requirement of the War Powers Resolution.” The Iraq Resolution only granted the President the right to determine whether the standards required by War Powers Act Congress were met.

    In other words, the Iraq Resolution was not an authorization to go to war, it was a mandate to follow the standards for war set forth in the War Powers Act. Congress made clear that in 2002, as in 1973, the War Powers Act was, and now is, the law of the land concerning war. Based upon the plain language of the Iraq Resolution, Bush was required by law to meet the conditions of the WPA before going to war with Iraq. He did not.

    The WPA required “clear” evidence of an “imminent” threat by Iraq to the U.S. to justify war.

  36. When Kofi Annan declared the invasion of Iraq to be illegal and a violation of the UN charter (which the US signed and is fully bound by), the overwhelming concensus among international lawyers is that Annan was right.

    Handwaving about unknown international lawyers that happen to agree with your opinion.

  37. The WPA required “clear” evidence of an “imminent” threat by Iraq to the U.S. to justify war.

    In an assymetric war, clear evidence may be a body count.

    Kofi Annan and the UN proved precisely why they are an irrelevant organization – after 17 resolutions condemning Iraqi actions, they failed even once to act in such a way as to quell, punish, or work against Iraq, leaving the US and Britain to shoulder the burden of enorcing sanctions and no-fly zones.

    In 2003, Bush and Powell both worked on the problem diplomatically, seeking UN sanction. When the UN as a body did not give explicit sanction, the US went to war, and took along a coalition which, interestingly, was comprised of a majority of UN member countries.

    The sound and fury emanating from Annan and the corrupt UN is meaningless.

    Actually, this estimate was done by a research team at Johns Hopkins that previously used the same methods in estimating deaths in Zaire/Congo which were widely accepted without question.

    I’m not sure that it was accepted without question. But regading the Iraqi dead being at 100,000 – that was not accepted. A subsequent study found that around 40K were killed. Both numbers are significantly lower than the Lancet study.

    There is an additional problem here that was similar in Vietnam. There are a significant number of non-traditional combatants (non-uniformed) involved in the conflict. It’s a judgement call as to whether they are civilian or threat.

  38. Thank you for your reasoned response.

    The section below is from the actual Resolution authorizing the use of military force against Iraq by GWB. The language speaks for itself.

    (b) PRESIDENTIAL DETERMINATION.

    In connection with the exercise of the authority granted in subsection (a) to use force the President shall, prior to such exercise or as soon there after as may be feasible, but no later than 48 hours after exercising such authority, make available to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President pro tempore of the Senate his determination that

    (1) reliance by the United States on further diplomatic or other peaceful means alone either (A) will not adequately protect the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq or (B) is not likely to lead to enforcement of all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq, and

    (2) acting pursuant to this resolution is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations or persons who planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorists attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.

    (c) WAR POWERS RESOLUTION REQUIREMENTS. —

    (1) SPECIFIC STATUTORY AUTHORIZATION. — Consistent with section 8(a)(1) of the War Powers Resolution, the Congress declares that this section is intended to constitute specific statutory authorization within the meaning of section 5(b) of the War Powers Resolution.

    A worthy discussion of the Legislature, the Executive and the War Powers Act would be interesting but you are aware that President Clinton used military force against Serbia without even a Congressional resolution.

  39. DDG

    Thanks for the link to the scholarly debunking the 100,000 dead meme. One reason it is seldom possible to have an adult discussion about Iraq or the role of the US military in shaping world affairs is the near total disregard of actual facts by one side or the other.

    AMOS

    I do not want to start a cut and paste exchange. If Congress believed that the Constitution, it’s authority, or the WPA were violated it has had many opportunities to either require the withdrawal of US troops or to stop appropriating money for use in Iraq. My original reference was to a disinterested historian 100 years into the future. Bush Syndrome should have passed by then.

  40. “When Kofi Annan declared the invasion of Iraq to be illegal and a violation of the UN charter (which the US signed and is fully bound by), the overwhelming concensus among international lawyers is that Annan was right.”

    I could have sworn the UN has a Security Council that votes on these matters. Have they abducated power to Kofi through some bill or measure? Would you please be so kind to provide a link? Thanks.

  41. I suspect that by the time my disinterested historian reviews the Resolution the UN will be an historical footnote alongside the League of Nations. The founding purpose of the UN was to preempt the existence of Saddam Huseeins, not defend them.

  42. > Kofi Annan and the UN proved precisely why they are an irrelevant organization – after 17 resolutions condemning Iraqi actions,
    > they failed even once to act in such a way as to quell, punish, or work against Iraq, leaving the US and Britain to shoulder the
    > burden of enorcing sanctions and no-fly zones.

    Depends what the goal was. If the goal was to remove Saddam Hussein from power, then the UN was very ineffective, but the UN never had that goal. The UN’s goal and the official US goal was to disarm and contain Hussein. Bush I and Clinton were very effective in that goal–today we know that by 1994 Hussein’s nuclear program was destroyed and his chemical and biological weapons were mostly dismantled. In 1991 when the Kurds were set to rebel and Hussein looked like he might topple, US officials were very concerned about the power vaccuum (and potential civil war) that might result if Hussein fell. They decided that it was better to leave a weakened Hussein in power, rather than risk having him fall. Many of the people who today are known as neocons in the Bush I administration were very dissatisfied with this decision and began a long pressure campaign in publications like the Weekly Standard to remove Hussein. All in all, the UN fulfilled its goals in Iraq, but the US refused to believe what the UN inspectors were reporting. It is only when Bush II came to office, that the US and the UN disagreed over the goals.

    As for the Republican charges of corruption in the UN, the US sat on the committee which oversaw the oil for food program. The committee was informed about the kick-backs to Hussein and the US decided to do nothing to stop it. It was duplicitous for the Republicans to call the UN corrupt years later when the US was fully informed about at the time. Read the Volker Report. Maybe Kofi Annan’s son did receive some kickbacks–I’m not sure whether that was ever proven–but the reality is that the corruption in the Coalition Provisional Authority was far greater than the corruption of the UN’s oversight of Iraq.

    I would agree that the UN is not a very powerful organization which doesn’t not respond very effectively to world crises, but it is that way precisely because the US and other great powers decided to make it that way. They didn’t want an organization that could challenge their power in any way. I can count up a number of failures of the UN , but many of its failures were related to the fact that major powers like the US have refused to back it and give it the arms and resources to be effective.

    When the UN refuses to authorize wars of agression such as the invasion in Iraq, it is fulfilling its original purpose to prevent such wars. The Coalition governments failed to present the proper evidence of a credible threat and were not given authorization to go to war. Feel free to disagree with the UN charter and call it irrelevant today, but don’t criticize the UN for doing what it was designed to do.

    > But regading the Iraqi dead being at 100,000 – that was not accepted.

    The article disputing the numbers of Iraqi civilian deaths is interesting. I have some comments. First, the article doesn’t try to dispute the Lancet study. It simply dismisses the study as inaccurate because it is so much higher than the Iraqi Body Count numbers. I still haven’t seen any reasonable criticism of the Lancet study aside from the fact that it was based on a small number of samples so it has to be treated as a very inaccurate estimate (which is exactly what its authors say).

    Instead, the article analyzes the Iraqi Body Count numbers which its own authors think is undercounting civilian deaths. The people who maintain the Iraqi Body Count say that far more Iraqis are killed by violence than are reported in newspapers which they use as their source. Moreover, certain types of attacks are more likely to be reported than other types in the newspaper. The random kid killed in the crossfire is less likely to be reported than a big firefight with a group of insurgents or a dramatic car bombing. The article argues that there is little collateral damage in Iraq because many more men than women are listed in the Iraqi Body Count. According to Dahr Jamail, counts of dead bodies in the morgues after Fallujah, found that 60% of the dead were women and children so I am skeptical of the conclusion that there was little collateral damage. People who die after the fact because of wounds are also less likely to be reported in the newspaper. Moreover, dupleted uranium weaponry kills for years after the fact. An accurate count would need to include them. I can accept the author’s main conclusion that the US is killing fewer people than the insurgents, but that isn’t the important question for me. The important question is how many Iraqis are dieing because we decided to invade their country.

  43. Israel, a first world nation, conquered some third world territory–territory, not a nation with a military–for the sake of Israel’s security, and the most tactful way to describe the result is that it hasn’t been a big win for either the Israelis or the Palestinians.

  44. > I could have sworn the UN has a Security Council that votes on these matters. Have they abducated power to Kofi through some
    > bill or measure? Would you please be so kind to provide a link? Thanks.

    Kofi Annan argued that the war was illegal because the coalition had failed to get approval from the security council which is required by the UN charter. Here’s a link: http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,2763,1305709,00.html

  45. So a link from the Guardian is your supporting document for the Security Council’s abducation of power to Kofi?
    Really? You believe that?

    The actual charter is here:
    http://www.un.org/aboutun/charter/

    You may wish to take a gander at Article 24, Section 1. I’ll save you the time:

    “In order to ensure prompt and effective action by the United Nations,its Members confer on the Security Council primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, and agree that in carrying out its duties under this responsibility the Security Council acts on their behalf.”

    I didn’t see in the Guardian article where that was superceded. Did I miss a paragraph? I don’t think so. I think you might have missed a few though.

    Take a reading of Article 33. Especially section 2. Notice it’s up to the Security Council to make the call? Not Kofi? As I understand it that request hasn’t been made.

    I’ll be darned but in that entire charter I didn’t see where the Security Council’s powers were abdicated to Kofi. Perhaps the Guardian has a supplement I’m unaware of?

  46. The secretary general never implied that he has the power of the security council, nor did I argue that. There was no usurption of power.
    What made the invasion of Iraq illegal was not Kofi Annan saying it was illegal. No, it was illegal because the UN charter did not grant the the Coalition the right to invade Iraq except in the case that the Coalition got the approval of the UN security council. Because the Coalition didn’t get UN approval, Kofi Annan just stated the obvious fact that the war was illegal.

    Nobody ever suggested that Kofi Annan was given the power to authorize or not authorize the war. I’m not even sure why you thought I was saying that.

    BTW, most international lawyers agree that the war was illegal on exactly the points that Annan argued.

    For the illegality of the war, see:
    http://www.globelaw.com/Iraq/Preventive_war_after_iraq.htm
    http://www.lcnp.org/global/IraqOpinion10.9.02.pdf
    http://www.globalpolicy.org/security/issues/iraq/document/2003/0307advice.htm

    Even the neocon architect the war, Richard Perle, said the war was illegal under international law. The British Attorney General concluded in a secret memo:

    However, the argument that resolution 1441 alone has revived the authorisation to use force in resolution 678 will only be sustainable if there are strong factual grounds for concluding that Iraq has failed to take the final opportunity. In other words, we would need to be able to demonstrate hard evidence of non-compliance and non-cooperation. Given the structure of the resolution as a whole, the views of UNMOVIC and the IAEA will be highly significant in this respect. In the light of the latest reporting by UNMOVIC, you will need to consider extremely carefully whether the evidence of non-cooperation and non-compliance by Iraq is sufficiently compelling to justify the conclusion that Iraq has failed to take its final opportunity.

    Now we can argue about whether there was “strong factual evidence” for ” non-cooperation and non-compliance”, but most independent observers and international law experts don’t think there was.

  47. paraguay
    a latin american country
    were the first railroad was made, together with foundries, telegraph, industries
    rich, well educated, strong
    the fiercest and most independant country of the region at the time (yes, a dictatorship with a monopoly of exports and state property of industries)
    aiming to be self sufficient

    massacred by an english orchestrated alliance of argentinean and brazillian oligarchies in the bloodiest battles of the continent
    its territories pillaged and torn into pieces in many wars by invaders

    so tell me eric, indias choice was imperialism or the middle age?
    why wasn’t paraguays then?

  48. When the UN refuses to authorize wars of agression such as the invasion in Iraq, it is fulfilling its original purpose to prevent such wars.

    You seem like a reasonable person. Certainly you can see the folly of this statement.

    To wit, The UN did not authorize Iraq’s war of aggression into Kuwait in 1990, and it did not prevent the war. It did not sanction the current genocide in Rwanda, but there it is.

    It was duplicitous for the Republicans to call the UN corrupt years later when the US was fully informed about at the time.

    This is misleading. The Republicans as a body have not called the UN corrupt. Certain Republicans have, and with good reason, beginning with the Volker report. There is also sufficient evidence around that the Volker report was heavily edited before publication, or at least that Volker turned a blind eye to a lot of naked and obvious leads.

    If the goal was to remove Saddam Hussein from power …

    That was not the goal until 2003. In the interim between the Gulf Wars, the goal was to keep Sadaam from acts of aggression and to keep him from acquiring weapons of mass destruction. In the former, the UN was a non-entity. In the latter, the UN was complicit in whatever happened. Simply by the fact that there could be a question as to whether Sadaam had WMDs points to the fecklessness, incompetence, ineffectiveness, and potentially the corruption of the UN.

    The important question is how many Iraqis are dieing because we decided to invade their country.

    I would say that it is interesting that you ask this question in light of the statistic given in the article I cited .. that that this figure is a 93% decline from the monthly average piled up by Saddam Hussein over 24 years. Even if the figure is 100K, that remains a significant increase.

  49. > How about the 5000 tons of depleted uranium which we have dropped upon Iraqis which will turn their cities into low-level radiative zones for generations to come?

    Depleted uranium isn’t radioactive. (Depleted uranium is made by removing the radioactive isotopes.)

    I wonder how many of the so-called facts are both true and imply the offered conclusion.

    BTW – Oil-for-food AND peacekeepers who both fail to keep peace and commit sex-crimes. No wonder some folks like the UN.

  50. “UN charter did not grant the the Coalition the right to invade Iraq”
    The UN charter doesn’t have the ability to grant nor deny the US the right to invade. You knew that right? War powers aren’t something the US has given the UN. You also knew that right? In US law nothing, and this includes international treaties, overrides the Constitution. You also knew that right? It’s only been common knowledge since 1945? 1781? War Powers are given to the Congress and Executive branches. Near as I can tell the UN, nor Kofi, doesn’t hold office in either. The person that filled in the entry for “Treaty” on Wikipedia knew that:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty
    “Additionally, an international agreement that is inconsistent with the U.S. Constitution is void under domestic U.S. law”

    So there are two reasons Kofi has no standing in declaring it “illegal:” 1) The US has never surrendered it’s soverignity to the UN or Kofi. 2) The UN Security Council can pass a resolution asking the US to cease and desist. That hasn’t happed. At least I see no such directive. I guess Kofi can issue a cease and desist but so can my dog. They have the same authority in this matter.

    “BTW, most international lawyers agree that the war was illegal on exactly the points that Annan argued.”
    Choosey mothers choose Jiff.
    International law doesn’t apply nor do peanut butter preferences. They don’t override the US Constitution. Domestic lawyers agree. More importantly so does the Supreme Court. Just a logic question for you. If there was a challenge to this would it be more likely to take place in US courts or international ones? I mean you’re just practicing sophistry and know better right?

    “Now we can argue about whether there was “strong factual evidence” for ” non-cooperation and non-compliance”, but most independent observers and international law experts don’t think there was.”
    You seem to do this a lot. Build a false assumption and then want to debate based on it. Strong factual evidence for what? “Non-cooperation and non-compliance” of what? Bush went to Congress and received the permission he needed. They didn’t ask for “strong factual evidence” nor did they ask for “non-cooperation and non-compliance.” Most independent dry-cleaners and domestic law experts were able to see the proceedings on national TV. In fact, I think it was broadcast internationally.

    So you’ve built some kind of assumption that Kofi has any weight in US war powers. Want to hear the kicker? I have US citizenship. I get to vote. I actually have more say than Kofi on war powers. ;)

  51. Hate to post twice but didn’t want to let this exchange slip:
    “If the goal was to remove Saddam Hussein from power …

    That was not the goal until 2003.”

    That is not correct:
    “In 1998, the United States also changed its underlying policy toward Iraq from containment to regime change and began to examine options to effect such a change, including support for Iraqi opposition leaders within the country and abroad.”
    That is from Hillary no less:
    http://clinton.senate.gov/speeches/iraq_101002.html
    About the 8th paragraph.

    US policy since 1998 has been to remove Saddam. The US Congress passed the power to do so and it has been done.

  52. To wit, The UN did not authorize Iraq’s war of aggression into Kuwait in 1990, and it did not prevent the war.

    Bush 1 was given a heads-up by Saddam that the latter was going to invade Kuwait, and seems to have said something along the lines of “Yeah, whatever”. It never ceases to amaze me how many on the right can’t seem to focus on this for very long, before something newer and more interesting pops into view.

    Depleted uranium isn’t radioactive. (Depleted uranium is made by removing the radioactive isotopes.)

    Not quite so, though U238 has a pretty long half-life. Whether it poisons the environment much or not is a bit like human-caused global warming – people cherry-pick whatever science accords with their politics.

  53. Israel, a first world nation, conquered some third world territory–territory, not a nation with a military–for the sake of Israel’s security, and the most tactful way to describe the result is that it hasn’t been a big win for either the Israelis or the Palestinians.

    Was this in response to my oblique comment about being disappointed with Chomsky? Quoting can lend endless context in dialogues of the deaf discussions like these.

  54. Joe,
    From what I gather, you don’t think that the US should be bound by international law. Lots of neocons agree with you. Most of Bush’s foreign policy seems to be predicated upon the notion that international law doesn’t matter and the US shouldn’t be bound by previous treaties (Kyoto, Non Proliferation Pact, START, Antiballistic Missile Treaty).

    > International law doesn’t apply nor do peanut butter preferences. They don’t override the US Constitution.
    > Domestic lawyers agree. More importantly so does the Supreme Court.

    The US Congress ratified the UN charter, and therefore is obligated like any other treaty to abide by its provisions. It is constitutional for the US congress to vote to ratify a treaty which limits its ability to make war. If we use your reasoning, than almost none of the major treaties that the US signed in the 20th century would be constitutional.

    All domestic lawyers do not agree that we can just ignore international law. This is a highly controversial topic in legal circles. A tiny minority argues that we are bound by all international law. Most argue that if the US congress ratifies an international law (which we do by ratifying a treaty or joining international bodies like the WTO and UN which legally bind their members to follow a charter), then the US should be bound by that international law. Others argue that we aren’t bound by any international law (even if we ratified it in Congress).

    Everyone acknowledges that there are few real consequences for the US ignoring international law.

    There was a recent case where a US soldier refused to serve in the Iraqi War and the US judge upheld the soldier’s right by referencing international laws. Some members of the Supreme Court have referenced international laws in their decisions, while others deny that international law has any legal force within the US.

    This is an issue that cuts both right and left. Environmentalists and antiglobalization activists don’t think that we should be legally bound by the WTO, while neocons and many cultural conservatives don’t think we should be legally bound by the UN.

  55. “From what I gather, you don’t think that the US should be bound by international law”
    Amos, I would appreciate it if you didn’t put words into my mouth.

    Check your March 4th 1:29 post. You specifically stated this:
    “When Kofi Annan declared the invasion of Iraq to be illegal”

    My first point was Kofi has as much ability to declare the invasion illegal as a fish monger in Vietnam. I suspect you don’t have legal training. But what you are attempting to argue is a legal issue.

    Let’s reference this gem from another of your posts up there:
    “BTW, most international lawyers agree that the war was illegal” That assertion is kind of like “Choosey mothers choose Jiff.” Utter nonsense.

    When you assert something like this my first reaction is “how do you know that? Did you go door to door?” You are asserting something that you have no proof for. It’s a notion, not a fact. Notions don’t carry a lot of weight. But let’s assume for a minute it’s true (not that it is).

    What do most baseball players agree about it? How about Mexican rock stars? The reason I ask this is there is a tendency for people that are “experts” in one area to mouth off in others based on their status in the first. Think baseball players selling cars or linguists spewing politics. “International lawyers” is pretty broad. Do they specialize in international trade law? International immigration law? Do they have experience and training in US domestic law? Myself I’d think you made this up as people with legal training tend not to assert things they are not experts in. It’s normal in the trade. Ask a lawyer that specializes in corporate law about immigration and they’ll let you know it’s not their area so, while they have legal training, you’d really need to speak with a lawyer specializing in the area. Any International Lawyer with any training on this would know that the US has a precedence of law and International Law does not supercede domestic.

    So I call Shenanigans on your assertion.

    So we’ve determined Kofi doesn’t have the authority to “declare” anything illegal right? Are we finished with that?

    _______

    Now, let’s cover you’re putting words in my mouth about International law and your implication that I am a “neocon.”

    “The US Congress ratified the UN charter, and therefore is obligated like any other treaty to abide by its provisions.”

    Here you go again. This statement is not correct. Congress “ratified” (passed) a number of bills that they are not obligated to abide by. When they pass something that SCOTUS strikes down it becomes moot. Get it? Like Kofi, Congress isn’t the final arbiter. Law is based on documents and cases. It’s pretty heirarichal. Number #1 is the Consititution. With me? If Congress passes something that violates the Constitution it’s null and void. Doesn’t stop them from passing it. Just means they are not supreme. There is a higher law.

    “Most argue that if the US congress ratifies an international law (which we do by ratifying a treaty or joining international bodies like the WTO and UN which legally bind their members to follow a charter), then the US should be bound by that international law.”
    Did you go door to door? ;)

    When you sign a contract, parts of it may be found illegal. Many contracts have wording to the effect that if any provision of this agreement is found void the other provisions are not automatically voided also. You’ve seen that right?

    So laws have levels. Do I believe International treaties have precedence over the US Constutution? No. Find me an American lawyer that specializes in Constitutional law that does. That would be a rare bird.

    “In Missouri v. Holland, the Supreme Court ruled that the power to make treaties under the U.S. Constitution is a power separate from the enumerated powers of the federal government, and hence the federal government can use treaties to legislate in areas which would otherwise fall within the exclusive competence of the states.”
    See the ruling body here? Supreme Court. Do International agreements have power in US law? Yes. Of course they do. Are we clear with this? The Constitution gives this power. Not Kofi, not Congress, not my dog.

    So laws have levels. There are “administrative laws” passed without Congress ever seeing them. Presidental Executive Orders likewise. But if they violate a higher law they are void. International treaties aren’t “special” and follow the same rules.

    So saying “you don’t think that the US should be bound by international law.” is nonsense. The US is bound by international law where it doesn’t conflict with higher US law. Our country is based on the Consitution and that is the root node. My city council can pass a law that the UN is illegal and its’ members should be arrested. Would those warrents be valid? No. The city council is pretty far down in the pecking order.

    The Constitution specifically enumerates the “war powers.” The President can sign an executive order delegating those powers to me. But that order would be void right? Congress and the President can sign an International Treaty prohibiting the ownership of firearms. That would also be void.

    The UN charter applies. But where it conflicts with our Constitution it is invalid. That has been the US position since day one. This seems to annoy Europeans but that doesn’t bother us. We don’t simply abrogate our base laws on whim.

    “There was a recent case where a US soldier refused to serve in the Iraqi War and the US judge upheld the soldier’s right by referencing international laws.”
    Please provide references when you cite things like this. Which judge? At what level? You do understand one court in this land has final say right? Was the judge named Alito? Thomas? Kennedy?

    “Everyone acknowledges that there are few real consequences for the US ignoring international law.”
    Did you go door to door? ;)

    I acknowledge that there are real consequences for the US to ignore domestic law. US domestic law is supreme over international law in our system. Invalidate that and we all become independent operators and no international laws apply to us. We signed on to the Constitution. That is what makes us a country. Invalidate that and all sections no longer apply. Nothing built on it either.

    Cheers.

  56. > I’d like a world government, or at least some consensus between major and minor countries, which is of course much more difficult than just the USA “rolling their own”.

    What experience with world organizations suggests that a world government with any power would be a good idea?

    Note that a likely world government would come largely from UN origins. Does that really inspire confidence?

    > Who can trust you, after all?

    Well, one can look at history. The concerns about US hegemony are largely “the US could” and not actual things that happened because otherwise there isn’t much to complain about.

    The rest of the world can trust the US because the US gets bored and goes home.

  57. This in response to “Truth sucks but it’s better than slave moraity.”

    I noticed you use “nevermind” too. Cool. Kurt Cobain wants these two words to be recognized as one, and so do I.

    Esr: you praising imperialism is like you praising me after I take your wallet from you, which forces you to go to the store to buy another one, where you also happen to buy the winning lotto ticket that same trip!! Yes, thank me for stealing your wallet. Fool.

  58. The rest of the world can trust the US because the US gets bored and goes home.

    I think that the American public is pushing the US toward an isolationist policy that goes way beyond boredom. We have provided too much of our blood and treasure for very little reward. It’s time for the rest of the world to sink or swim on its own.

    Withdraw from the UN completely. Stop all foreign aid except as it may advance our military alliances or emerging democracies.

  59. Dean:

    You might be right about the Roman/Greek situation projected into todays politics, but the intellectuals are no more as influential as they used to be. In that age, popular culture was not as influential as today. Now it seems people are interested in Hollywood much more than in intellectuals. I don’t know much about Africa or Asia but if Eastern European experience do count in a statistical way then my experience is that people DO understand that America is not a nation in the old ethno-cultural sense, but an embodiment of modern values and therefore there is not only one America, but there are americas with America only being the most american of all the americas but the idea is not necessarily tied to one place, one continent, and certainly not to one ethnical group or cultural heritage. It is possible to build other americas, and I think there are a lot of people everywhere who understand and want it done. Of course there are a lot of things – especially religion – getting in the way, but I still think you are too pessimistic – every part in the world, if you guys are prudent enough to speak of building local americas based on values and not just of America as a nation with exclusive national interests, you WILL find support.

  60. … of course, narrow-minded isolationist people who still think America is a physical place instead of being a mission or an global embodyment of values, don’t really help other people understand it…

  61. To wit, The UN did not authorize Iraq’s war of aggression into Kuwait in 1990, and it did not prevent the war.

    Bush 1 was given a heads-up by Saddam that the latter was going to invade Kuwait, and seems to have said something along the lines of “Yeah, whatever”. It never ceases to amaze me how many on the right can’t seem to focus on this for very long, before something newer and more interesting pops into view.

    The issue was the UN’s authorization. If anyone has ADD here, it would seem to be someone who cannot even glean the direct meaning of a sentence. Try diagramming – the subject is “The UN”, not “George Bush.”

    I’ve heard this meme before about GBi. It doesn’t carry much weight in any argument, let alone one in which we’re discussing the UN. I am less concerned with whether an issue was dismissed offhandedly than with what real assets were put into action.

  62. Shenpen

    I think it’s time to disengage from overt operations in the Middle and Near East. Despite the remarkable achievments of US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan we do not appear to be garnering the goodwill we could use as leverage in the region. Let the military determine the schedule based on their assessement of mission critical tasks and try anybody for treason who leaks or publishes that information, including any member of Congress.

    Withdraw completely from the UN and establish alliances in the region on an individual basis. Make very public the conditions the USA considers in its national interest and for which it would unleash the Leviathan (free flow of oil, nuclear capability, Israel) and let the Arabs/Muslims sort it out for themselves. If and when any Arab/Muslim state becomes an emerging democracy. One with democratic institutions already in place. We can reconsider the level of assistance we would provide at that time. Apply the same doctrine vis a vis emerging democracies in Africa and South Asia.

    American values are being savaged despite our expenditure of blood and treasure. I don’t think we should be doing other’s heavy lifting. Let them earn it.

  63. #So I have to be in the uncomfortable situation of “supporting Saddam” because I don’t really like the same thing happening to my country for reasons less valid.

    The lesser of two evils, Adriano?

    Bush might come across as a moron in public, but I’d still choose him over Saddam Hussein anyday. At least his opposition has a voice.

    Tomorrow, should the US go ‘Roman’ on the world, Rome itself (Washington, NY) will still be centers of free speech.

    I don’t like the idea of being ruled by another nation. But this happens, whether brazenly through military dominion or covertly via economic influence. And this is the bottom line – given a choice, I’d rather pick the US Congress and the US President over a Saudi Sheikh. Benevolent rulers like those of the UAE are a different story.

  64. Joe,
    No I’m not a lawyer and frankly I think questions of war and peace should be decided on moral grounds rather than legal grounds. But since we are arguing about the law…

    > “BTW, most international lawyers agree that the war was illegal” That assertion is kind of like “Choosey mothers choose Jiff.”
    > Utter nonsense.
    > When you assert something like this my first reaction is “how do you know that? Did you go door to door?” You are asserting
    > something that you have no proof for. It’s a notion, not a fact. Notions don’t carry a lot of weight.

    On the issue of “most”. You are right–I can’t prove that “most” experts in international law think the war in Iraq was illegal. Nobody has gone around and taken a survey. However, the International Commission of International Law Jurists looked at this issue and determined that the war in iraq was illegal under international law (See the open letter they sent to heads of state: http://www.ulb.ac.be/droit/cdi/appel_irak.html) It was signed by hundreds of international law experts (see the list: http://www.ulb.ac.be/droit/cdi/liste_signataires.html)

    Evan Augustine Peterson III, Executive Director of the American Center for International Law, states:

    Among the world’s foremost experts in the field of international law, the overwhelming jurisprudential consensus is that the Anglo-American invasion, conquest, and occupation of Iraq constitute three phases of one illegal war of aggression.

    Peterson summarized the ICILJ findings:

    [International Commission of International Law Jurists] explicitly stated that they’d drafted their legal document in order to advise Messrs. Bush and Blair prior to the invasion: (1) that it would be blatantly illegal under international law for the Anglo-American belligerents to invade Iraq; and (2) that their joint decision as Commanders-in-Chief to commence hostilities would constitute prosecutable war crimes.
    (http://informationclearinghouse.info/article6917.htm)

    So I stand by my statement that “most” international law experts think that the invasion of Iraq was illegal. I have found statements from the Bush, Blair, and Howard adminstrations which state that the war was legal, but I haven’t been able to find any international law bodies which support their legal arguments. I think Blair’s own Attorney General made the best argument for how you could call it legal and even he said that Blair had to provide more proof.

    > So there are two reasons Kofi has no standing in declaring it “illegal:” 1) The US has never surrendered it’s soverignity to the UN
    > or Kofi. 2) The UN Security Council can pass a resolution asking the US to cease and desist.

    2) The burden is not on the Security Council to pass a resolution. If Bush and Blair wanted to conduct the war in Iraq that was legal according to international law, then the burden is on them to get Security Council approval to conduct a non-defensive war. Without that approval, the war is automatically illegal according to the UN charter.

    1) Here is the tricky part. Yes, I agree with your arguments about when international law applies and when it doesn’t according to the hierarchy of jurisdictions. Yes, the US constitution is higher than international law within the US and Yes, the Supreme court (not the Congress) is the final arbiter of what is legal according to the constitution.

    Here is my argument (which I acknowledge isn’t accepted in all quarters):
    Since the US constitution grants congress “War Powers”, the Congress therefore has the power to decide to voluntarily limit when it can go to war. It decided to sign a treaty (the UN charter) to voluntarily limit when it would go to war. As far as I know, the US supreme court hasn’t ever ruled that it was unconstitutional for Congress to have ratified that provision of the UN charter to limit when it would conduct non-defensive war. At any time, Congress could decide to revoke the UN charter or the Supreme Court could decide to declare that provision of the UN charter unconstitutional, but they haven’t so far. Therefore, the UN charter provisions are currently the law within the US.

  65. The issue was the UN’s authorization. If anyone has ADD here, it would seem to be someone who cannot even glean the direct meaning of a sentence. Try diagramming – the subject is “The UN”, not “George Bush.”

    Well, you may feel that the subject is fixed for all time by your choice of grammar, but if we’re talking about people who *didn’t* authorize the invasion of Kuwait I’m not *entirely* convinced that mentioning someone (Bush 1) who may have done exactly that is evidence of ADD.

    I’ve heard this meme before about GBi. It doesn’t carry much weight in any argument,

    I rest my case.

    #So I have to be in the uncomfortable situation of “supporting Saddam” because I don’t really like the same thing happening to my country for reasons less valid.

    The lesser of two evils, Adriano?

    If you’re addressing me, I’m afraid I’ve no idea what you’re talking about.

  66. Amos,

    Please provide references whereby the U.N. Charter, or our agreement to it, explicitly transfers the power to declare war, or at least war that cannot be justified on a purely self-defense basis, to the U.N. among all signatory nations. I will not be surprised if you can, it just sounds like you may have the relevant documentation/links at your fingertips.

    Among supporters of the Iraqi war, of course, the conclusion will be “well, screw the UN.” Clearly the U.N. is a massively corrupt organization whose members objected to the Iraqi war primarily on the basis that it would interrupt the flow of illicit oil-for-food moneys to their elite. Nonetheless, we should clearly understand whether there is no rational argument to dispute your assertion.

    Mark

  67. “However, the International Commission of International Law Jurists looked at this issue and determined that the war in iraq was illegal under international law”
    Again, this is moot. Domestic law is supreme so their desire to increase their power both expected and dismissed. They aren’t experts in US domestic law.

    “It was signed by hundreds of international law experts”
    Oy vey, I hoped you’d avoid these arguments going forward. So it was signed by hundreds. What is the total number of “international law experts?” Does this constitute 1%? 10%? Are they experts in domestic US law? Letters signed by “hundreds” or even thousands don’t impress me. I could get a letter signed by hundreds that claims I should have the right to expoit Europe for my own gain. Does that carry any weight anywhere?

    “[International Commission of International Law Jurists] explicitly stated that they’d drafted their legal document in order to advise Messrs. Bush and Blair prior to the invasion: (1) that it would be blatantly illegal under international law for the Anglo-American belligerents to invade Iraq; and (2) that their joint decision as Commanders-in-Chief to commence hostilities would constitute prosecutable war crimes.”

    This whole paragraph kind of confuses me. A letter to Bush and Blair is kind of a flag. US and Brit law aren’t the same. Legal issued would have to be specific to each case. “would constitute prosecutable war crimes” is also weak legal foo. They are asserting this. So? If Bush decides to have his Attorney General respond with a brief that their letter constitutes a threat to US security and they are under dire threat of extradition and prosecution in US courts would this have more or less weight? Legal postering. Doesn’t “prove” anything. Our litigators have a saying “if nobody does time there was no crime.” Legal posturing means nada.

    “I have found statements from the Bush, Blair, and Howard adminstrations which state that the war was legal, but I haven’t been able to find any international law bodies which support their legal arguments.”
    Come on Amos. You know as well as I do this is nonsense. It’s legal until found to be not. By your own words here Bush, Blair, et al have claimed it’s legal. So it is until a case is brought in front of the relevent court and contrary findings found. This hasn’t happened. You don’t need to find any “international law bodies which support their legal arguments” as they aren’t claiming it in that arena. I haven’t found any city council findings that the war was legal either. Get it?

    “I think Blair’s own Attorney General made the best argument for how you could call it legal and even he said that Blair had to provide more proof.”
    You are conflating US and Brit. I can’t speak to Brit as I have no idea what their legal position is. They aren’t covered. Blair’s Attorney General would have zero impact on the US position. He’s speaking to Brit law.

    “The burden is not on the Security Council to pass a resolution. If Bush and Blair wanted to conduct the war in Iraq that was legal according to international law, then the burden is on them to get Security Council approval to conduct a non-defensive war.”
    Why that caveat at the end. Can you prove it wasn’t “non-defensive?” Why that caveat? But, no. The burden isn’t on Bush to get Security Council approval. Again, the US position is the UN doesn’t have authority here. This has always been the US position. Bush needs to get permission and he went to the body that needs to sign on – the US Congress.

    You have noticed that the Democrat position hasn’t been “the war was illegal” but “we were mislead?” Even though they are some of Bush’s harshest critics they have no doubt where jurisdiction is.

    “Since the US constitution grants congress “War Powers”, the Congress therefore has the power to decide to voluntarily limit when it can go to war.”
    Quite frankly all that international nonsense was a very weak position for you to take. This one isn’t. This one is the strongest you have presented legally. Congress can, and has, done this. There are two problems with this line though:
    1) Congress can only delegate certain authority. One of the big (so far not struck down) challenges to the IRS is that Congress cannot delegate that authority. So there would be some legal foo that would have to be explored here. I’ll leave that as #2 is more interesting.
    2) “The Supreme Court has also ruled in Goldwater v. Carter, 444 U.S. 996 (1979) that the President has the power to unilaterally abrogate a treaty without the consent of Congress or the Senate.”

    #2 is real interesting isn’t it? By not going to the UN the POTUS can be said to have de facto abrogated the specific sections of the UN charter that you are standing on. This is an interesting ruling specifically because SCOTUS has ruled on it. Remember my reference above to invalidating a section of a contract not necessarily invalidating the entire contract?

    So at what point has that section of the UN charter been defacto abrogated? Mind you I’m not saying that is the US position. Grenada? Panama? Dominican Republic (1958)? I don’t think the UN was consulted on any of them. So the POTUS has the authority to abrogate it and also has established repeatedly that that section doesn’t apply. If the UN wanted to press the point estoppel applies.

    Cheers.

  68. >>”The lesser of two evils, Adriano?

    >If you’re addressing me, I’m afraid I’ve no idea what you’re talking about. ”

    Well you shouldn’t. There are two “Adrians” posting. You are posting under adrian10 and the other person is posting as Adriano.

    He was responding to Adriano’s post:
    “The same fear you USA libertarians have of an all-encompassing state I have of the US dictating rule to the rest of the world just because. Who can trust you, after all? So I have to be in the uncomfortable situation of “supporting Saddam” because I don’t really like the same thing happening to my country for reasons less valid.”

    That followed this gem:
    “Kaisare, I think another thing to take into account is that people in other countries (at least, me), mind the USA “intruding in other countries’ sovereignty” even if the rulers are evil dictators, because we don’t know where it’s gonna stop. Sure, today is just for evil rulers and despotic governments. Tomorrow, as yesterday, could be to enforce debt payment, or exploitation of resources, or whatever.”

    So Adriano doesn’t want the police to pick up serial killers? I mean after all where does that kind of thing stop? After serial killers do they start picking up simple murderers? Kidnappers? Before you know it it isn’t safe to walk the streets if you are a simple armed robber.

    Adriano, you can make this case without it failing the snort test if you can provide a recent (let’s say 50 years) of the US invading a country to enforce debt payment or to expoit resources ok? Otherwise you are just talking out of your hind quarters.

    Must be quite the interesting life knowing you support a person that signed torture orders on a recurring basis. I don’t mean wearing bikini panty torture either, I mean removal of the hand with a machette kind of torture. I’ll provide a link to the video if you need it.

  69. Shenpen,
    I would like very much for you to be right, but I don’t think you are. Certainly we are not a nation built around an ethnic group, but we are a particular people with a unique cultural tradition. The trouble with ‘modern values’ is that it’s not that simple. Humans of the past were not inferior to us enlightened moderns. It’s just that we have options that they did not.

    Consider democracy. W seems to think that all people everywhere want the right to vote and if given it, would vote their rational interests. What he makes of the Palestinians and Hamas, I have no idea. For democracy to work out well, the demos must be good and want to be good. If not, then democracy will lead to horror. We often forget that the Confederate States of America had impeccable democratic credentials. True, their slaves couldn’t vote, but even if they could have, the white majority would still have voted to behave as it did.

    What good would it do us to speak of local americas if the local populace was not interested in a guarantee of liberty for all? Most people seem to want freedom of speech (among other things) for me, but not for thee. Without a general desire, not just to have but to SHARE the blessings of Liberty, americanization would be a sick joke.

    No one is more vicious than I am in savaging the poses made by American Progressive Liberals, but as racist and elitest as this may sound, the worst of them, the Alec Baldwins and Barbra Streisands and Danny Glovers, the Harry Belafontes, the Rob Reiners, even the Michael Moores and Jimmy Carters (spit) are still a better order of human being than the average Palestinian. Curse me as a racist for saying that if you want, but it’s the truth.

    We are a unique people. Our average MORAL performance is genuinely superior to that of almost any other.

    We are not just the embodiment of ‘modern values.’ We are a particular people, with ties to a particular place and time. You can’t just do it in Croatia like we do it in the States and expect to get good results.

    For the record, I am a supporter of the Iraq war and the efforts to establish a democracy there. But ONLY because we have literally tried everything else and failed. If we can’t get the Arabs (not necessarily all Muslims, but definitely the Arabs) to change their ways and quit blowing shit up, we are going to have to kill them all before they do the same to us.

    I don’t like it but that’s where I stand.

  70. Wow Dean, that was kind of a tour de force.

    “For the record, I am a supporter of the Iraq war and the efforts to establish a democracy there. But ONLY because we have literally tried everything else and failed. If we can’t get the Arabs (not necessarily all Muslims, but definitely the Arabs) to change their ways and quit blowing shit up, we are going to have to kill them all before they do the same to us.”

    Either we let them kill us or we kill them. That brings us back to Eric’s point. Is there a way to stop them from blowing shit up without killing them? Do we take Kurdistan and make it the 52nd State? (PR gets 51).

    Interestingly you’ve kind of hit another nail on the head. There are many that would be very happy killing us all. We spend a lot of effort to stop them without killing them. That is the difference.

    I say we adopt Kurdistan.

  71. Joe,

    > Does this constitute 1%? 10%? Are they experts in domestic US law? Letters signed by “hundreds” or even thousands don’t
    > impress me. I could get a letter signed by hundreds that claims I should have the right to expoit Europe for my own gain.
    > Does that carry any weight anywhere?

    In this section, I was trying to support my statement that “most international lawyers agree that the war was illegal”. Notice that I was not arguing about national law here, but about international law.

    Yes, these people are highly qualified to judge on matters of international law and they do carry weight on that issue. When Patterson says that it is an “overwhelming jurisprudential consensus”, I think I am justified in saying “most”. The most respected organization of international lawyers issues a legal opinion that it is illegal under international law. Hundreds of experts sign the lettter. Look who signed that letter–a lot of them are university profs of law. Of course, no poll has never been taken, but I don’t think that you can get a more definitive legal opinion on a matter of international law.

    > So it is until a case is brought in front of the relevent court and contrary findings found. This hasn’t happened

    In a lot of questions of international law, there is never any formal court case, but rather its a matter of diplomatic negotiation. The UN General Assembly could theoretically pass a resolution condemning the action but that wouldn’t be a true court case. The Security Council could also vote to condemn the action, but since we have veto power it would never pass.

    > You are conflating US and Brit. I can’t speak to Brit as I have no idea what their legal position is. They aren’t covered. Blair’s
    > Attorney General would have zero impact on the US position. He’s speaking to Brit law.

    The arguments that the British Attorney General used were based upon the UN charter and the the UN resolutions which are issues of international law, not national law. I was supporting my argument that it was illegal under international law in this section.

    > “The burden is not on the Security Council to pass a resolution. If Bush and Blair wanted to conduct the war in Iraq that was
    > legal according to international law, then the burden is on them to get Security Council approval to conduct a non-defensive war.”
    > Why that caveat at the end. Can you prove it wasn’t “non-defensive?” Why that caveat?

    The caveat is because the UN charter allows country to defend themselves, but doesn’t allow them to engage in non-defensive wars without the approval of the UN security council. Iraq was not threatening any country in the world. The Iraqi army was in shambles. If there were any WMDs, they were minimal. The international bodies which where charged with inspecting the WMDs were telling us that Iraq posed little threat. El Baradei said flat out that Iraq didn’t have any nuclear program. By most people’s definition, you can’t call this a defensive war. Even if we accept all the “proof” that the Bush Administration offered us about Iraqi WMDs, it still wouldn’t have been a defensive war in the eyes of international law. Iraq wasn’t threatening to attack us, nor were we stopping Iraq from attacking anyone else.

    > 2) “The Supreme Court has also ruled in Goldwater v. Carter, 444 U.S. 996 (1979) that the President has the power to
    > unilaterally abrogate a treaty without the consent of Congress or the Senate.”

    This isn’t a settled question. The case was thrown out.

    Here is Wikipedia’s summary of Goldwater v Carter:
    Conclusion
    While throwing out the case of Goldwater v. Carter, the Supreme Court left the question of the constitutionality of the President Carter’s action open. Powell and Rehnquist merely questioned the judicial merit of the case itself; they did not explicitly approve Carter’s action.2 Moreover, Powell even stated that this could be a valid constitutional issue.3 Article II, Clause II of the Constitution merely states that the President cannot make treaties without a Senate majority two-thirds vote. As it stands now, there is no official ruling on whether the President has the power break a treaty without the approval of Congress.

    It seems to me that Congress should have made a formal declaration of war and formally acknowledged that it was not going to be bound by the UN charter. It would have stopped a lot of these debates.

  72. Our average MORAL performance is genuinely superior to that of almost any other.

    [nudges dislocated jaw back into place]

    The Chosen People meme was a lot more explicit in 19th-century American discourse, but tended to go underground a bit in the 20th. Amazing to think it might be coming back.

    For the record, I am a supporter of the Iraq war and the efforts to establish a democracy there. But ONLY because we have literally tried everything else and failed.

    IIRC the main thing you tried there was supporting Saddam to go and beat on the Iranians. If that’s your best shot at “literally everything else” I think I’ll pass. Your actual support for pro-democracy groups in the region has been…tepid, for reasons to do with access to energy resources, something you don’t seem to feel is worthy of much attention.

    If we can’t get the Arabs (not necessarily all Muslims, but definitely the Arabs) to change their ways and quit blowing shit up, we are going to have to kill them all before they do the same to us.

    Have you thought about what killing all of them preemptively would make you?

  73. Joe, what about “Manifest Destiny” and the colonization of much of South America? What about the support to Pinochet in Chile, to the Military Junta in Argentina, and to the rest of the illegal military governments in South America, just because it fit your world view? What about the help to Saddam against Iran? Do I have to say “Taliban training?” Do I have to say “United Fruit Co”?

    To the ones comparing a rule under Bush with a rule under Saddam: Saddam is not and could not be a world leader, Saddam wasn’t intent on world colonization beyond the Persian Gulf, was he? The dychotomy doesn’t exist.

    > What experience with world organizations suggests that a world government with any power would be a good idea?
    > Note that a likely world government would come largely from UN origins. Does that really inspire confidence?
    Well, I trust (let’s better say I accept more willingly) the decisions of many countries than the decision of just one. And I do trust the decisions of many countries against the ones (in particular) of the USA. Nevermind the fact that you’re now on Iraq, the shit is on, and you can’t pull out of there immediately (apologies if you aren’t actually from the US). You got in there for all the wrong reasons. People were clamoring for heads at home, people were afraid, and suddenly Saddam was sooo evil again. Easy to point at him.

    > So Adriano doesn’t want the police to pick up serial killers? I mean after all where does that kind of thing stop? After serial killers do they > start picking up simple murderers? Kidnappers? Before you know it it isn’t safe to walk the streets if you are a simple armed robber.

    Can I scream “False analogy”? Laws inside a country aren’t the same as international regulations, and I shouldn’t be here telling you that. The concept of sovereignty isn’t one that I should be here talking about, not when the US refuse those same regulations to bring criminals to international courts of law.

    It bears thinking that this implies also that the US are always right when they decide who’s a criminal. I don’t think so.

  74. >Have you thought about what killing all of them preemptively would make you?

    Yes. I’ve thought about it a lot. It would break us. Your dislocated jaw notwithstanding, we ARE good people. And we try so hard to be good because we believe that goodness is attainable for us. If we committed cold-blooded genocide, we’d be Germany. And the the Germans have no future, either.

    But, at least for a little while, we’d be alive. That’s what killing all of them preemptively would make us. At least temporarily not dead.

  75. WildMonk,
    > Please provide references whereby the U.N. Charter, or our agreement to it, explicitly transfers the power to declare war, or at least
    > war that cannot be justified on a purely self-defense basis, to the U.N. among all signatory nations. I will not be surprised if you can,
    > it just sounds like you may have the relevant documentation/links at your fingertips.

    It doesn’t transfer the power to declare war. As Joe will tell you, the War Powers stay with the US congress. What the UN charter says is that no country who is a member of the UN will make war on another country except in the case of self defense or when a UN Security Council resolution authorizes the war.

    Here are the relevant sections of the UN Charter:

    In Article2:
    … All Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered.
    All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.

    Article: 51
    Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security. Measures taken by Members in the exercise of this right of self-defence shall be immediately reported to the Security Council and shall not in any way affect the authority and responsibility of the Security Council under the present Charter to take at any time such action as it deems necessary in order to maintain or restore international peace and security.

    Article: 42
    Should the Security Council consider that measures provided for in Article 41 would be inadequate or have proved to be inadequate, it may take such action by air, sea, or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security. Such action may include demonstrations, blockade, and other operations by air, sea, or land forces of Members of the United Nations.
    Article: 37
    Should the parties to a dispute of the nature referred to in Article 33 fail to settle it by the means indicated in that Article, they shall refer it to the Security Council.
    If the Security Council deems that the continuance of the dispute is in fact likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security, it shall decide whether to take action under Article 36 or to recommend such terms of settlement as it may consider appropriate.

    Article: 103
    In the event of a conflict between the obligations of the Members of the United Nations under the present Charter and their obligations under any other international agreement, their obligations under the present Charter shall prevail.

    In other words, the UN charter trumps all other treaties, so we can’t make a treaty with Mexico that says we will attack Guatemala if Guatemala attacks Mexico. It was these sorts of treaties that led to WW I.

  76. Yes. I’ve thought about it a lot. It would break us.

    Only your illusions about yourselves.

    Your dislocated jaw notwithstanding, we ARE good people.

    I just don’t have much time for the concept of “average moral performance”. The game is made by those in percentiles a little more distant from the centre than that IMO. The ones clustered around the average just want to watch television.

    But, at least for a little while, we’d be alive. That’s what killing all of them preemptively would make us. At least temporarily not dead.

    Their ability to kill all of you is pretty doubtful, whereas yours to kill all of them is considerably less so. Eric’s worst-case scenario is of some terrorist letting off a backpack nuke in DC, after which most of you would be very much alive, and angry. The subsequent pogroms would probably make it even more of a one-off than 9/11.

  77. 9/11 was a one-off because we took the war to the enemy in Afganistan and Iraq. The jihadis don’t have time to mastermind more attacks on our home soil because they have to step lively just to keep breathing.

    As for the worst-case scenario, how many cities would you have us lose? There used to be a time when the civilized world was confident and proud of itself. Now it seems like too many self appointed ‘moral leaders’ would have us snuffed out like a candle rather than play hardball with vicious murderers.

    Self righteous pretences are easy to maintain in times of peace. But there comes a moment when you have to decide if you want to feel good about yourself, or if you want to survive. If I believed in God, I’d pray that you make the right choice.

    “We are all capable of believing things which we know to be untrue, and then, when we are finally proved wrong, impudently twisting the facts so as to show that we were right. Intellectually, it is possible to carry on this process for an indefinite time: the only check on it is that sooner or later a false belief bumps up against solid reality, usually on a battlefield,” – George Orwell, 1946

  78. 9/11 was a one-off because we took the war to the enemy in Afganistan and Iraq.

    There’s also a school of thought that reckons it was because you decided airline security was an issue after all, not that many passengers would be likely to take a hijacking sitting down these days. Very debatable to what extent the enemy was in Iraq at that time, too. Though they sure are now.

    As for the worst-case scenario, how many cities would you have us lose?

    I’d rather you didn’t lose any. But if you insist on stirring the pot with interventions over there I strongly suspect it’ll come back and bite you on the ass eventually. And no, I’m not looking forward to it, because I think the consequences would affect me.

  79. It’s difficult to justify counting angels on the head of the UN pin when the organization itself is so blatantly ineffective and corrupt. The purpose of the UN was to prevent the formation of aggressive dictatorships, not empower or defend them. The Oil for Food scandal has irreparably harmed any possibility that the UN could act as the honest arbiter in any consequential dispute.
    The USA should demand that the UN reorganize the General Secretariat into an open and transparent executive, and failing that withdraw financial support.

    The US Congress should make foreign aid dependent on a showing that the funds will be used exclusively to establish democratic and free market institutions in the recipient country.

    US foreign policy in simple terms would be “you leave us alone – we leave you alone.” You harm or threaten us and we destroy you. I think most Americans would get behind that.

  80. PeterBoston,
    Before you get too riled up about UN corruption and the Oil-For-Food Scandal, I suggest that you read Joshua Holland’s analysis;
    http://alternet.org/story/26055/
    http://www.alternet.org/story/27792/

    He argues that most of the kickbacks to Hussein were outside the oil-for-food program and not under the control of the UN administrators. He also argues that a lot of the blame has to fall on the US government who approved all the contracts but chose not to stop the kickbacks which were called to their attention at the time. Holland argues that a number of US companies (some with close ties to Bush administration like Halliburton and Carlyle Group) were probably involved in some of the oil-for-food kickbacks to Hussein. The Volker report found only 2 UN administrators from Russia who were involved in the oil for food kickbacks and they received $150,000. This is small beans compared to some of the allegations of fraud from monies administered under the Coalition Provisional Authority.

  81. I’ll stick with the reasonable inferences from Claudia Rosett’s investigation, thank you.

  82. “Joe, what about “Manifest Destiny” and the colonization of much of South America? What about the support to Pinochet in Chile, to the Military Junta in Argentina, and to the rest of the illegal military governments in South America, just because it fit your world view? What about the help to Saddam against Iran? Do I have to say “Taliban training?” Do I have to say “United Fruit Co”?”

    We colonized much of South America? Really? Where? Can I go? A nice house in the rainforest would be nice. I guess I could go to our Brazilian Colony…. Wait, we don’t have one. Argentina: Nope. Bolivia: Nope. Uraguay? Nope. Adriano, I’m having a hard time locating these colonies. I don’t suppose you have a map handy?

    Pinochet? As opposed to your facist friend Allende? Hint: Allende was overthrown before the US had even looked hard in that direction. Do a little review of your buddy Allende before getting to hard on Pinochet. Regardless, show me the pictures of US military units in the overthrow of Allende. That’s what we’re discussing isn’t it? Military invasion. Need a picture Adriano. Just one. US military involved.

    Military Junta in Argentina. Ditto. Picture of the US military involved. Just need one. With all the news services there should be thousands to choose from.

    “and to the rest of the illegal military governments in South America” Afraid you’re going to have to be specific. General ranting about “illegal military governments” is too wishy washy. Pictures should abound.

    “What about the help to Saddam against Iran.” Amusingly enough if you actually check the figures more US military gear was on the Iranian side. But you knew that right? I notice you didn’t also include aid to the USSR when they were fighting the Nazis. Same difference. Sometimes you have to pick a “less evil.” But you can do that right? Stand on the sidelines and carp whichever way it goes?

    “Do I have to say “Taliban training?” Yes, you do. Question: Did the USSR invade Afghanistan or vice versa? Which was it? Need a hint?

    United Fruit? You mean this one:
    “As is always the case, opinions can be found on both sides of the question of whether United Fruit was a benefit or a scourge to Central America. The company certainly brought a great deal of economic development and organization to a region that had very little of either. The United Fruit Company paid its full-time employees better than any other, built housing and schools for the children of its employees, built hospitals and research laboratories. From early on the company embarked on vigorous research projects to conquer tropical diseases such as malaria and dengue fever. Their laboratories also worked very hard to conquer the specialized diseases of the banana plant. In Costa Rica, whole areas of bananas were wiped out by disease and the laboratories of United Fruit developed specialized insecticides and fungicides to halt the problem. Some of these laboratories are still at work today.”

    Do you have a problem with United Fruit? I think they went out of business. I don’t find them listed on the NYSE. But in any event I’m wondering what your issue with them is? Did you bring labs to Costa Rica?

  83. > I’ll stick with the reasonable inferences from Claudia Rosett’s investigation, thank you.

    What Rosett argues isn’t *reasonable* after you read the final Volker report (http://www.iic-offp.org/story27oct05.htm) which doesn’t support her arguments. I read chapter 1 and and skimmed through parts of the Volker report. It doesn’t support the charges made by Rosett. What it does show isthat there were lots of Western companies which had business in Iraq were doing questionable things. The majority of the report focuses on these companies. It does show that the Oil for Food program was poorly designed to prevent corruption, but who was to blame for that? Not the UN administrators–basically Oil for Food was devised by the US and Great Britian who wanted to maintain the sanctions, but didn’t want to look like bad guys for killing 1 million Iraqis due to the sanctions. Volker found 2 UN administrators who took bribes and the fact that Kofi’s son had lobbied for oil contracts for a company that he worked for. So we have 150,000 in verified bribes to UN administrators out of the oil for food program which handled billions of dollars in contracts. Denis Halliday who first administered the Oil for Food program says very clearly that the US government sat on the committee that reviewed every contract and never objected to the kickbacks being given to Hussein.

    I’m much more inclined to trust the Volker report than the wild charges of Rosett. What is fascinating to me is that after the Volker report disproved most of what the conservative press was claiming, the conservative press started attacking Volker because the report didn’t verify their spin. It is funny how the rest of the world looked at this issue and concluded that it was a minor scandal and a poorly administered program, but didn’t conclude that the UN as a whole was a corrupt organization. How strange that we are the only country in the world who thinks the UN is that corrupt. The corruption of the UN has become a conservative mantra, but it has little basis in fact.

    The real corruption in the UN happens when the US decides that it wants to push a resolution throught the security council and the other nations don’t want to go along with it. The US starts twisting arms of the 5 non-perminent members on the security council. Poor little countries have a very hard time resisting US pressure.

    We used to be able to regularly do this, but now the rest to the world has gotten fed up with US unilaterialism and the 3rd World has started resisting neoliberal economic policies pushed by the wealthy countries. It makes it much harder for the US push its agenda on the rest of the world. All in all, this is a good thing in my opinion.

    Sadly, many in the US have concluded that we should just do away with the UN because it doesn’t do our bidding. What we ought to be asking ourselves is why are we so out of step with the rest of the world? Does 4% of the population really know what is best for the whole of the world? Especially when that 4% comes a place which is radically different from most of the world in terms of natural environment, political system, prevailing ideological beliefs, and abundance of resources and wealth. We don’t represent the world and we shouldn’t act like we know what is best for the rest of the world. Let me give you a simple illustration of how odd the US is. At the G8, the other wealthy countries wanted to talk about global warming and reducing poverty in Africa. All the US could talk about was terrorism, which is a minor problem compared to global warming and global poverty. The fact that we think that terrorism is a world threatening issue shows how out of touch we are with reality. Global warming and global poverty are much larger security issues. 5 times in the earth’s history, there have been massive species die offs caused by warming (90% of species died off in one of them), yet we seemed totally unconcerned by global warming. What happens when Manhattan is underwater, all the major rivers in southern China and Northern India run dry because the Himalayan glaciers have melted, and the plankton food chain dissappears killing off the food supply for the billions of people that depend upon it? What happens when the vast majority of the world is so poor that they need to send family members to the first world to work so the rest of the family can survive? Nope, we aren’t concerned about these issues. When the rest of the world starts talking about something, maybe we would do well to listen rather than denouncing the UN and talking about the need for unilateral power.

    The arrogance of my fellow Americans astounds me. When I travel in Latin America (I’ve been to 20 latin American countries), I frequently have to explain to people that I don’t agree with my government’s policies. It is very embarrassing to listen to people tell me all the horrible things that my government has done in their countries. I find myself frequently apologizing and very outraged. Of course here in the US you never hear about it. The mainstream press doesn’t like to report about how we subvert democracies and alter the economy of countries so US companies can extract profits. After I read Latin American newspapers, sometimes I think we Americans are living on a different planet from the rest of the world. You have no idea how much our government is despised in the Andes where I do research. When we bombed Falluja, I read graffitti in the streets of Lima: “We are all falluja” (todo somos falluja)–meaning that they felt like they were all victims of American agression. This is Latin America for godssake, a place where everyone has a favorite son or nephew working here in America. When Evo Morales got elected with 54% of the vote, he said that his election would be a “nightmare for America”. This is a country that traditionally did everything that the US wanted. It implemented all the economic reforms that the US demanded in the 90s. In the last 5 years, almost every major country in South America (except for Colombia and possibly Peru) has elected presidents opposed to US policies in the region.

    While we turn into ethnocentric bullies who exert unilateral force all around the world, the rest of the world will turn against us. Its a nice future we are contemplating.

  84. Does 4% of the population really know what is best for the whole of the world?

    Well, yes. And that would be by example. Real people living real lives. In the 5,000+ years of recorded human history no social/political unit has ever provided so much opportunity for so many people to develop their individuality and humanity and so much wealth for so many people. There is no other equally compelling story in human history.

    What to know how to stop global warming? Figure out a way to cool off the sun, or in the alternative wait around long enough for the next solar cooling cycle. Colorful stories about melting glaciers just isn’t enough to justify wreaking the global economy.

    I am advocating an isolationist foreign policy. No hand-outs, no help, no nothing for other than emerging free market economies and reliable allies. I think it’s time to withdraw America’s teat.

  85. The real corruption in the UN happens when the US decides that it wants to push a resolution throught the security council and the other nations don’t want to go along with it.

    As opposed to Oil-For-Food, Somalia, Darfour, Liberia, Sarajevo, Afghanistan, &c.

    Please stop. The UN is a corrupt organization at its core. The US pursues its interests there, as does every other member nation. It’s ridiculous to cry “corruption” when your evidence only displays Realpolitik bullying, if that.

  86. “Sadly, many in the US have concluded that we should just do away with the UN because it doesn’t do our bidding. What we ought to be asking ourselves is why are we so out of step with the rest of the world? Does 4% of the population really know what is best for the whole of the world? Especially when that 4% comes a place which is radically different from most of the world in terms of natural environment, political system, prevailing ideological beliefs, and abundance of resources and wealth.”

    I don’t want to eliminate the UN, I want to cut our overall funding of the UN to 4%. Per your numbers that is “our fair share” right?

    ====

    Some interesting figures (on thread even):
    Per person GDP for selected countries (CIA fact book figures):

    One of the few “countries” the US “colonized” is Puerto Rico. They are still part of the US.
    GDP per person: $18,500 (2005 est.)

    Another that we took and let go years ago. The Philippines:
    purchasing power parity – $5,100 (2005 est.)

    Since Adriano thinks Chile has such issues I’ll include it:
    purchasing power parity – $11,300 (2005 est.)

    The other territory that we took but let go real early is Cuba. They achieved the “left wing Nirvana” that the Facist/Marxist Allende would have been very capable of achieving:
    purchasing power parity – $3,300 (2005 est.)

    Lessons?
    1) It’s good to be part of the US. Don’t break away. Don’t listen to the siren songs of the Marxists.

    I spent more than the average annual income in Cuba on a gun last year. In fact, I bought 2 that cost more than that. Not surprising is it?
    purchasing power parity – $41,800 (2005 est.) (US of course)

  87. purchasing power parity – $41,800 (2005 est.) (US of course)

    Hmm … sounds kind of inflated. I hope that’s total household income and not per person.

    Most of all the manufacturing job’s created by the Industrial revolution are gone, which is what created a “middle class” society in the first place. Most people displaced are non-technical types destined (herded) for a life in the “Service Industry”. (a kinder, gentler term for Servant or Slave).

    Yep .. It’s fast food joints or Wal Mart for mainstream America … and they sure don’t pay 41,000 a year. But a Taco Bell in Chicago probably does pay better than a Taco Bell in Tripoli – so were still winning right?

    whoo hoo .. go USA.

  88. Near as I can figure web developers and medical researchers are better paid than people that put lug nuts on cars and those that sewed canvas pouches together.

    But, no, I don’t think that’s household. Per person I’d think. I’m just shy of double. I don’t work in manufacturing. I also don’t work at Taco Bell. Nice try though.

  89. I am advocating an isolationist foreign policy. No hand-outs, no help, no nothing for other than emerging free market economies and reliable allies. I think it’s time to withdraw America’s teat.

    Hope you’ve got an easily-ramped-up energy independence policy to hand.

  90. > I don’t want to eliminate the UN, I want to cut our overall funding of the UN to 4%. Per your numbers that is “our fair share” right?

    Do you realize how little we pay to the UN? The 2002-2003 biennial regular budget for the UN was $2.6 billion. The five largest contributors to the UN regular budget are USA ($341,4m or 22% of the total), Japan ($263,5m or 19,5%of the total), Germany ($131,9m or 9,8% of the total), France ($87,3m or 6,5% of the total) and the United Kingdom ($74,7m or 5,5% of the total). (http://www.globalpolicy.org/finance/docs/2005/0929undues.htm) The worst part is that the UN can’t properly function because it operates in a constant financial crisis because we refuse to pay our share (and haven’t since Reagan). Almost every other country pays its dues, but not the US. In Nov 2005, the UN regular budget had $695 million in unpaid dues, of which $587 million was owed by the US. (http://www.globalpolicy.org/finance/tables/core/un-us-05.htm) We can give Isreal $2.9 billion a year in foreign aid, but can’t cough up $170 million for the UN regular budget every year? What is wrong with our priorities?

    Now you might argue that we give in other ways. According to the OECD, in 2002 the US gave $13.29 billion in economic aid to other countries, but we give less economic aid as a percentage of our gross national income (GNI) than any other developed nation. We gave 0.13%, while Italy is the next lowest at 0.20%. The highest was Denmark at 0.96%. (http://usinfo.state.gov/usa/infousa/trade/files/98-916.pdf , p.21) Much of that aid is attached to a military or geopolitical strategy, rather than countries which really need it. Poor Israel is the top recipient of aid. Colombia receives aid to fight the war on drugs and suppress leftist guerrillas. Eygpt and Pakistan receive aid to prop up dictatorships (because they are our “allies” in the war against terrorism). The American people are much better than our government. Our private foreign charity amounted to $22.0 billion in 2003. (Not including worker remittances, http://www.hudson.org/files/publications/Rethinking_Foreign_Aid.pdf )

    Well we do give. We give to our military, In 2005, we spent 4.0% of our GDP on military, (http://www.laborresearch.org/story2.php/410) In 2004, we spent $466 billion on the military, which is 49% of the $950 billion spent on military worldwide. (http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/spending.htm )

    We *definitely* have our priorities in the right place.

  91. > What to know how to stop global warming? Figure out a way to cool off the sun, or in the alternative wait around long enough for
    > the next solar cooling cycle. Colorful stories about melting glaciers just isn’t enough to justify wreaking the global economy.

    Yes, Global Warming does destroy our economy. How much did Katrina cost? While you can’t attribute any one storm to global warming and some of the recent growth in tropical storms is cyclical, all the models show that the tropical stormswill grow much stronger with global warming. Do you like the prospect of a Katrina hitting every couple years? What happens to all our costal cities as the oceans rise? We are going to have to built dykes around many of our costal cities or abandon them. How much does it cost to build a dyke around Manhattan and move the harbor in New York? Starts to get pretty expensive really fast. Global Warming is killing the coral reefs. Most of the reefs in the Florida Keys are already dead. Florida is going to loose millions in tourism. As the permifrost melts, Alaska is going to be facing millions of dollars in infrastructure costs. Every road built on permafrost has to be rebuilt. Global Warming is going to mean a hotter and drier climate in the US SouthWest. What will this do to the California agricultural business, since it depends more and more on irrigated water which is increasingly scarce? Economists are very alarmed by global warming.

    Let’s talk about food. One study found a 20% reduction in grain yields in a global warming atmosphere. What happens when there is 1/5 less grain in the world? Plankton is the basis of much of the oceans food chain, but plankton is very temperature sensitive. When the temperature rises, much of the plankton will dissappear, and so will many of the fish that humans eat. What will happen to all the people in the world that depend upon the ocean’s fish? The Himalayan glaciers feed the major rivers in Southern China, Northern India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Roughly a third of the world’s population depends upon those rivers, but they will run dry when the glaciers melt, causing an agricultural crisis in the region. Studies of Africa show that global warming will be disasterous because most of Africa’s agriculture is rain fed. Studies predict that much of Africa will become a desert and or semi-arid region with very unpredictable rainfall which will lead to frequent droughts, famine, and mass migration. What happens when all those people want to immigrate to places like the US? The US military did a study of global warming and said that it was a major security issue.

    So go ahead and bury your head in the sand.

  92. So go ahead and bury your head in the sand.

    You’re forgetting the ‘sunk costs effect’ here. These guys would rather circumcise themselves with an old can-opener than admit any hippy was ever right about ANYTHING.

    Even if (when) everything goes to shit, it’ll all turn out to be the fault of liberals. You wait and see.

  93. “The five largest contributors to the UN regular budget are USA ($341,4m or 22% of the total)”
    So that is more than 4% right?

  94. Batto seems offended that the US is a “slow pay” when it comes to the UN.

    He’s yet to show why we should pay anything.

    If we get really far behind, will they throw us out? Faster please.

  95. > “The five largest contributors to the UN regular budget are USA ($341,4m or 22% of the total)”
    > So that is more than 4% right?

    Joe, you are sooo right! Why didn’t I see it before? We should only pay 52 million a year, which would be 4% per year. Kick them snobby world government loonies outta New York. Who needs our crummy perminent seat on the security council and our special veto power. If Japan was nutty enough to have built a new UN headquarters on their soil, Let those Nippon freaks host the UN. Those winers in New Yorker would scream at loosing their big government subsidy, and moan about how many of the 9,288 UN perminent employees live in NY City. Good riddance! We don’t need any more internationals in the good ole US of A! Let Mayor Bloomberg have fit and give Mrs Clinton another silly platform for her 2008 presidential run. Of course, we want to protect Negroponte, so we had better move him back to Iraq were he can do some real damage instead of meandering around the halls of the new UN in Japan.

    Seriously Joe, even if you hate the UN, the best way to stop the UN from being effective is to subvert it from within. Don’t pay your dues so there is a constant budget crisis. Veto everything the rest of the world wants on the security council. Send a neocon to be your UN ambassador. The US does a damn good job and the 170 million a year (not including what we spend on peacekeeping forces) is a bargain. Really US conservatives should love the way we are subverting the UN. Every time we demand a new secretary general or demand reforms (which noone can agree upon), the whole organization goes through another crisis that wastes more time and the UN even less effective. You should be grinning! Just write some more articles about how corrupt it is.

    Don’t get serious about only demanding to pay $54 million per year. Lots of stuff that you don’t like would start getting passed in the UN. We might even start seeing the General Assembly passing resolutions condemning our behavior like they now pass resolutions condemning Israel’s behavior. I can imagine a nice resolution condemning us for colluding to overthrow the democratically elected president of venezuela. Everytime we use NED funds to make sure that our guy wins in elections in places like Georgia or Nicaragua, we might see another resolution. The UN might start getting serious about doing something about controlling the global trade in conventional arms–we control 60% of that market and all our arms manufacturers would not be happy campers. I can foresee a new arms convention to explicitly ban all use of land mines, depleted uranium, and white phosphorous–the neocons would seethe at these limitations. And think of a new UN that outright opposes everytime the US unilaterially uses military forces in the world. Every Grenada, Panama, and Iraq adventure would get be condemned by the security council. There is a reason why Bush and Co. haven’t walked away from the UN.

    No Joe, you wouldn’t like the consequences, but I would love them. So I fully support your idea. Lets only pay $54 million per year and withdraw all our contributions to the peacekeeping forces. I think I am going to start a new campaign.

  96. Oops, I forgot. Now John Bolton is our UN ambassador. Negroponte got kicked up to National Intelligence Director. There’s a major difference between a guy who colluded in torture in Honduras in the 80s and helped implement Salvador-style death squads in Iraq and a neocon blowhard who is openly contemptuous of the UN and thinks the UN building could loose a couple stories without any loss. Both are real winners in my book.

  97. Adrian10, I wasn’t talking about Chomsky. I was suggesting that Israel’s experience might be a hint about whether empire is all that workable these days.

  98. >Adrian10, I wasn’t talking about Chomsky. I was suggesting that Israel’s experience might be a hint about whether empire is all that workable these days.

    Yes, I got that. Contrast it with the most recent of the empires, though, the Soviet one. It’s pretty clear what did the Soviets in, and it wasn’t imperialism. The disintegration of their empire was effect, not cause.

  99. Nice rant Amos. Too much coffee?

    You seem to imply that there would be “consequences” in dropping funding to the UN. That wouldn’t be a bug, it would be a feature.

    This was especially rich:
    “The UN might start getting serious about doing something about controlling the global trade in conventional arms”
    What are they going to do? Start a pillow fight? Send a note to our mother? Report us to Kofi? Send a strongly worded letter to Bolton?

    4% sounds good. Maybe lean on Bolton to be harder on them to boot.

    But hey, I’ll be fair. One last chance. The UN messed up badly in Rawanda. Ditto for Cambodia. Let’s see how effective they are with Iran and nukes. Fair enough? If there are all kinds of “consequences” to annoying the UN Iran will experience them right?

    Waiting with baited breath for the “UN hammer” to fall on Iran. This is going to be good.

  100. Amos Batto had some interesting things to say:

    /* Do you realize how little we pay to the UN? … The worst part is that the UN can’t properly function because it operates in a constant financial crisis because we refuse to pay our share (and haven’t since Reagan). Almost every other country pays its dues, but not the US.
    */

    Who sets the dues? I understood that it was volunteered money, but that the UN wanted to mandate “and you will pay $X this year, and you will pay $Y, …” Some people had a conniption fit over John Bolton saying that wouldn’t fly.

    However, I’m not so sure it’s that bad a deal for the UN to be in constant financial crisis. Have you seen who runs their Human Rights Committee? It’s literally the biggest joke in the world.

    /* Now you might argue that we give in other ways. … [B]ut we give less economic aid as a percentage of our gross national income (GNI) than any other developed nation.
    */

    But if you add *private* donations from Americans (quite a lot) and *private* donations from those other countries, the total percentage of money leaving US borders for underdeveloped countries is on par with the percentage other countries pay.

    Is that a better system than having a bureacracy (either the UN or the federal government) decide where to send the money? Well, that depends on the results you want. But, quite honestly, central planning is generally the solution of last resort.

    /* Before you get too riled up about UN corruption and the Oil-For-Food Scandal …
    */

    I’m also riled up that Annan held a meeting with one of his top investigators, and during that meeting, an official report was mysteriously edited to remove names and protect the guilty ( http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,251-1837848,00.html ), even though Annan had repeatedly promised not to do so ( http://www.opinionjournal.com/best/?id=110007449 ). Why did he have to promise not to doctor official reports?

  101. Israeli Empire?

    I guess words don’t mean much anymore. More people have attended the Daytona 500 the last few years than live in Israel, the world’s first empire you can spit across on a windy day!

    The Jay Bennish school of geography no doubt.

  102. Now, on to global warming. Yes, it’s true the world is warmer today than it was during the Little Ice Age. But it’s also true that the world was once warmer than it is today (during the Eighth Century, well before SUVs and all — http://tjic.com/blog/2006/02/10/its-impossible-that-things-were-warmer-in-the-8th-century/ ). Things seem to have turned out all right even with these wild swings in temperature. You may also be interested in a speech by Michael Crichton found at http://www.crichton-official.com/speeches/speeches_quote04.html , especially given that most of the doom and gloom predictions are about what the world will be like in 100 years:

    “Let’s think back to people in 1900 in, say, New York. If they worried about people in 2000, what would they worry about? Probably: Where would people get enough horses? And what would they do about all the horseshit? Horse pollution was bad in 1900, think how much worse it would be a century later, with so many more people riding horses?”

    My opinion on global warming is that we’ve only asked one question (is the world getting warmer? answer: yes). Now we need to ask a few other questions before we jump to wildly unsupported conclusions (is it that bad a thing that the world is getting warmer? could a warmer world mean longer growing seasons (one study says no, several others say yes)? if we stop making greenhouse gases, will the world stop getting warmer? weren’t these the same scientists who were worked up about global cooling thirty years ago? should we really listen to people who have a track record of predicting five of the last two global problems? …).

  103. Nobody even knew there was an Ozone Hole until 1970 and by 1985 the doomsayers were already predicting the end of the world if people didn’t stop using hairspray. What did the Ozone Hole look like 200 or 500 years ago? Nobody has a clue.

    How many third world chldren have died from malaria as a result of Rachel Carson’s bogus science about DDT?

  104. > Nice rant Amos. Too much coffee?
    GULP! yep. don’t take it personally. I enjoy arguing with you.

    > What are they going to do? Start a pillow fight?

    You are right. They wouldn’t be able to do anything punitive against us. But it would hurt us immensely in terms of soft power. In many ways, soft power is more important than hard power. When all your elites were trained in US universities and everyone looked to the US for leadership, it was easy to convince other countries to go along. Today, countries have more options. They can switch to the Euro to hold foreign reserves. They can go to China or Europe when looking for investors. On the question of arms, they can easily swich to other sources. So even if the UN can’t do anything punative against us, it will hurt us tremendously. I already see it happening. Look at Venezuela and what it has done since Hugo Chavez was elected president in 1998. It would have been unthinkable in the 1980s and the 1990s, but today he can openly defy the US and the Brazilians and Argentinians have joined him in opposing the US on a number of key issues. Soft power matters.

    > If there are all kinds of “consequences” to annoying the UN Iran will
    > experience them right?

    Frankly, I don’t worry that much about Iran getting a nuclear weapon. I worry a lot more about Israel doing something silly like deciding to do a lightning air raid on their nuclear facilities like Israel did to Iraq in 1982. At the time, the Iraqi nuclear program was underfunded and wasn’t making much progress. Once Israel bombed the Iraqi nuclear research center, Iraq decided that nuclear was a major priority which they needed for their own safety. They ramped up their nuclear program and started making lots of progress on building a functioning bomb.

    Frankly, the best way to convince countries like Iran to not build nuclear bombs is to convince them that they won’t ever need them. Threatening them by planning bumper busting nukes, shredding the ABM treaty, breaking the Non-Proliferation treaty which we are doing with this India deal, openly developing plans with the isrealis for how to attack them (as we are doing), selling nuclear technology to another power in the region (as we are doing with India), and calling them names like “the axis of evil” is the best way to convince them that they need nuclear weapons to defend themselves against our agression. Commando raids on Iran to destroy their nuclear facilities would be really stupid and bring lots of sympathy to Iran. Working through the UN is the best way to pressure Iran and still have the rest of the world on our side. If we go it alone outside the UN, nobody will join us in boycotting Iran or imposing sanctions. In fact a number of countries might eagerly sell them the technology. At the end of the day, it is hypocritical of us to demand that other countries not develop the same weapons that we already have, especially when we are actively threatening them with those weapons. Especially, when dealing with a country which is the best functioning democracy in the Middle East outside Israel. Yes they elect religious nuts for president, but so do we, and frankly our president scares the rest of the world far more than the Iranian president does.

    Now I think Rwanda raises a more interesting question. Nope, I don’t think that the UN would responded very quickly to prevent genocide. But on the other hand, we didn’t at unilaterally to stop it either nor did we seem very willing to intervene. We have been far behind other countries in condemning Sudan for its current genocide. Critical analysis of Somalia and Kosovo that I have read has argued that we actually caused a lot more damage by our military action, than if we had done nothing. The Somalia conflict has almost ended when we decided to invade and we made it worse. In Kosovo, the conflict escalated the conflict because we bombed. In most conflicts, the solution isn’t military invasion, but negotiated ends to conflicts. Look at the civil wars in Guatemala and El Salvador. Nothing about Grenada and Panama convinces that a military action was justified. When it is something like Iraq invading Kuwait, the UN will approve our military actions and that is the way it should be. But most of the wars and military actions in the past have been wrong and the UN was right to not approve them.

    Let me give you an example, by looking at the invasion of Afganistan. Our primary objective in Afganistan was to eliminate Al Quaeda. We really didn’t care about the Taliban–in any case the Taliban was already starting to disentigrate internally and would probably fallen from power a couple years anyway. We forget that the Taliban offered to turn bin Laden over to a group of Muslim nations for trial. They said that they didn’t trust the infidels to judge him fairly, but muslims could be trusted. Instead of invading, we should have accepted the offer. Here is why. It would have totally discreditted al Quaeda in the muslim world if muslims had judged him. If Al Quaeda was shown to be a heartless murderer in a widely televised trial shown on Al Aribaya and Al Jazeera, his cause would not have nearly the appeal. When we invaded Afganistan, all we did was validate what he had been saying all along about the about the Americans. our invasions of Afganistan and later Iraq has caused million of muslims to believe in the message of Al Quaeda. And we still haven’t captured bin Laden. Today bin Laden would be sitting behind bars if we hadn’t acted with unilatarial power. Because there was absolutely no effort at negotiation and we didn’t work through the UN, we lost the support of much of the world.

    Now, maybe it wouldn’t have been possible to get bin Laden that way. Maybe the Taliban didn’t make that offer in good faith. Maybe they were only trying to delay us while they hid bin Laden away. Maybe, but we will never know since we didn’t even try to negotiate. Even if we couldn’t have gotten bid Laden through negotiation, we would still have most of the Arab world on our side today. Muslim youth in places like England and Indonesia wouldn’t be feeling the need to commit terrorist attacks like they do today because we decided to invade muslim countries. We will only win the war on terror by winning hearts and minds. We will never win it by unilaterial use of force. For every terrorist that we kill, we outrage a dozen more muslim youth who are burning for revenge. Today, the Taliban are supposedly regaining strength if I can believe what I read about Afganistan. We haven’t defeated them, but we have made them into martyrs. We have done the same with Al Quaeda.

    If we hadn’t invaded and negotiation had failed, the Taliban would have eventually fallen from power, and the next government of Afganistan would have been eager to hand him over for trial to discredit the last government. It wouldn’t have satisfied our thirst for revenge but it would have been much smarter.

  105. Alright my fingers are getting tired.

    > weren’t these the same scientists who were worked up about global
    > cooling thirty years ago?

    The science was very primitive in the 1960s and the climate was very different at that time, so it was much harder to observe any temperature increase. Today, the world is heating up at a much faster rate, and the percentage of CO2 in the atmosphere is increasing much faster than in was in the 1960s. The scientific tools are changing rapidly. They couldn’t do computer modeling in the 1960s. They didn’t have monitors all over the oceans like they do today and they couldn’t compile and analyze all the data like they can today. Another thing to realize is that the petroleum industry covertly funds a lot of propaganda and false research to discredit global warming. Nobody who seriously studies the climate thinks that anything funded by Exxon is serious research, but in the news, they love to say there is controversy among the scientists. Actually, there is very little controversy about the general trend (although lots of controversy about how fast and how much global warming will happen). Few of the Global Warming doubters who are often quoted in the press are doing real research. Not everyone was convinced that global warming was caused by man, but research in the last two years has now convinced most people, especially the data on the Greenland Glaciers.

    > could a warmer world mean longer growing seasons

    Yes, there was a paper a couple years ago about how global warming would increase yields and lengthen the growing season. In fact, it might help agriculture in Canada and Russia, but there are several reasons to distrust this conclusion. Since that paper came out a number of studies have looked critically at the issue and most have debunked most of that first paper’s conclusions.

    Recent studies of Siberia show that much of the subartic lakes are dissappearing due to global warming. As the permafrost melts, the water in the lakes is draining away. What you are left with is a dry plain with thin topsoil. When the Russians tried to farm Siberia in the 1960s, they had spectacularly bad results, because the thin siberian soil was only good for a few seasons, before it was depleted. Furthermore, it is much more suseptible to erosion and not a good replacement for all the agricultural land that we are going to loose due to desertification of the tropical and semitropical zones. This will be disasterous for most of Africa and some parts of Asia. (Latin America should be better off, although some predict the drying of the Amazon basin.)

    Recent studies in greenhouses where the atmosphere is controlled to simulate a global warming climate reveals several disturbing features. First, the global warming climate seems to favor weeds and fast growing plants, rather than slower growing plants like grains which are generally used for food. Secondly, the high carbon environment seems to reduce yields in grains by roughly 20%. In the oceans, global warming will result in much higher algea growth and a vast reduction in plankton. Most of the fish we depend upon feed on plankton, not algea.

    The bad part is that it is so hard to stop it once it starts. Once we hit the “Oh shit!” stage, there is little we can do because CO2 stays in the atmosphere for at least a century. It could be half a century or more before we see the results of what we are doing today.

    Here is the real nightmare scenario which truly frightens me. The world starts heating up gradually as it is doing now. At a certain point, the ocean warms to a degree that the huge mass of liquid methane sitting at the bottom of the ocean starts to gassify and bubble up. Because Methane causes 23 times more global warming than C02, it starts to have a chain effect heating up more of the atmosphere, which heats the ocean faster and causes more methane to bubble up. A similar chain effect starts happening in the Amazon basin, As more of the juggle dries up and starts rotting, huge masses of methane will be released, which in turn causes more heating and more dying jungle which releases more methane. We could have a very rapid climate change in a very short time that would kill off most humans. Climate change has caused massive species die-offs 5 times in the planet’s history, and there is no reason it won’t happen again.

    Now all of this is speculation, but it is a pretty big gamble we are willing to take, just so we can use gas guzzling cars and enjoy an unsustainable lifestyle. Even if you doubt the science, is it really worth the risk?

    A green economy isn’t any less productive, it is just different. The problem is that we aren’t geering up to switch to a green economy. The Japanese are killing us on solar. The Danes and Germans are grabbing the wind market. California used to be on the leading edge of the next energy revolution, but today we are looking very uncompetitive in this industry. We are going to feel a lot of economic pain if we don’t start acting like the Japanese who see the green economy as a great business opportunity rather than an extra cost.

  106. I promise to try to keep this short:

    /* In many ways, soft power is more important than hard power. When all your elites were trained in US universities and everyone looked to the US for leadership, it was easy to convince other countries to go along. Today, countries have more options. They can switch to the Euro to hold foreign reserves.
    */

    I don’t think that holding reserves in US$ ever made an ally. Saudi Arabia considers the US a huge customer, but bankrolls anti-US terrorism all the same.

    /* Threatening them by planning bumper busting nukes,
    */

    Because a threat of a pillow fight would go a long way. Now, to be honest, carpet bombings with MOABs and Daisy Cutters would go a long way ( http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/munitions/moab.htm , http://www.cnn.com/2003/US/03/11/sprj.irq.moab/ ), but that’s another issue.

    /* shredding the ABM treaty,
    */

    Developing an anti-balistic missile shield led Iran to work on nukes? The ABM treaty with Russia was horribly outdated when Bush used the terms of the treaty itself to withdraw. Why? Because Russia wasn’t going to fire ICBMs any time soon, but others (mainly China) could, *and* they hadn’t signed the treaty.

    /* openly developing plans with the isrealis for how to attack them (as we are doing),
    */

    Which could also pressure them to work with the Russians. It’s apparently working.

    /* Commando raids on Iran to destroy their nuclear facilities would be really stupid and bring lots of sympathy to Iran.
    */

    I really hope you’re wrong on this, as Iran’s track record is full of everything the “educated elite” abhors ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ateqeh_Rajabi for starters).

    /* We have been far behind other countries in condemning Sudan for its current genocide.
    */

    I remember Colin Powell being the first to use the term “genocide.”

    /* If [bin Laden] was shown to be a heartless murderer in a widely televised trial shown on Al Aribaya and Al Jazeera, his cause would not have nearly the appeal.
    */

    Would that happen? I truly doubt it. That’s what the Taliban meant when it said Muslims could be trusted. Muslims don’t seem to mind when people cut off little schoolgirls heads because they happen to be Christian. Would they consider 9/11 an atrocity? If so, why were they cheering when they heard about it?

    /* Today bin Laden would be sitting behind bars if we hadn’t acted with unilatarial power.
    */

    We *didn’t* act with unilateral power. John Kerry kept saying that bin Laden would be behind bars if he hadn’t “outsourced his capture.” One of these things is not like the other.

  107. “In many ways, soft power is more important than hard power.”
    “Frankly, the best way to convince countries like Iran to not build nuclear bombs is to convince them that they won’t ever need them.”
    “Frankly, I don’t worry that much about Iran getting a nuclear weapon.”

    Granted I took them out of order but they are all your’s Amos. Soft power is more important than hard power? We then are treated to the results of this absolutely stunning soft power. Convince them they don’t need them. Failing that don’t worry about them having them.
    Step 3 is surrender?

    You keep soft power. I’ll take military strength. Soft power is a loosers game. Need an example:

    “Let me give you an example, by looking at the invasion of Afganistan.”

    Yes, let’s.
    “Our primary objective in Afganistan was to eliminate Al Quaeda.”
    No, Afghanistan was invaded to remove the hosting site. Get it? They were allowing terrorists sanctuary. Think of the lessons from Korea and Vietnam. You can’t fight a war if the enemy has a safe haven.

    “We really didn’t care about the Taliban”
    Um, yes we did but whatever.’

    “in any case the Taliban was already starting to disentigrate internally and would probably fallen from power a couple years anyway.”

    Notice the progression here? Just like your Iran progression? A series of failing steps.

    “Maybe the Taliban didn’t make that offer in good faith.”
    You think? Really? Does that mean that perhaps Iran hasn’t been “negotiating” on nukes in good faith? Wow. Color me shocked.

    “Muslim youth in places like England and Indonesia wouldn’t be feeling the need to commit terrorist attacks like they do today because we decided to invade muslim countries.”
    Really? Then the embassy bombing in Africa were a result of the invasion of Iraq? USS Cole? Tossing Leon off the boat? You seem to have a little chron problem here….

    Study Skinner. He has the answer.

    Simple math:
    “For every terrorist that we kill, we outrage a dozen more muslim youth who are burning for revenge.”
    For every terrorist that we kill, there is one less terrorist. Kill enough of them and they figure out where that direction leads. Don’t believe me? Count the number of foreigners going to Iraq for the little war. It’s decreasing. Noticably.

    Again, I’ll take hard power. Soft power is an expression the powerless have created to cover their lack of power. Ask Iran’s negotiator. He’ll let you know all about it.

  108. If we follow The Path we will:

    1. Reduce everybody’s standard of living by yielding to the econuts

    2. Give up our successful culture by yielding to the barbarians, and

    3, Give up the future entirely by yielding to the abortionists and the queer culture (you didn’t say that but I’d lay odds).

    That is the Holy Trinity of the Left.

    Please reread previous sections on Suicidalism.

  109. 1. Reduce everybody’s standard of living by yielding to the econuts
    With you here. No need to sell ourselves down a river just because some people don’t understand econ.

    2. Give up our successful culture by yielding to the barbarians, and
    Still with you.

    3, Give up the future entirely by yielding to the abortionists and the queer culture (you didn’t say that but I’d lay odds).
    Sorry, I got off the bus here. Eric’s covered both sides being whacko on abortion well enough. As to the second, sorry, just not going with you on it. There was a Twilight Zone episode where a man was annoyed with everyone else. “I wish everyone was just like me.” He woke up the next day and they were. That would be hell. I have a lot of use for “queer culture” as you so quaintly put it. I enjoy the music of Queen and the movies of Monty Python. Reference your point #2. Libertarianism, the real stuff, means stay the hell out of other people’s bedrooms. Unless you are a participant anyway….

  110. >Sorry, I got off the bus here.

    I’m pro-choice and I’m against laws that criminalize consensual sodomy. Nevertheless, when PeterBoston says “Give up the future entirely by yielding to the abortionists and the queer culture”, he’s got a point. To the extent the architects of the meme war could lower Western birthrates by routinizing abortion and gay sex, their objectives were furthered. You can bet the Soviets weren’t going in that direction; hell, no, they gave medals to women with big families.

  111. The birth rate in most Western European countries is below replacement level as opposed to the very high birth rate of an increasing immigrant (Islamic) population. That’s the formula for cultural spontaneous combustion with Western civ the incineratee.

    Should Western Europeans be encouraging and facilitating unrestricted abortion and homosexuality when survival itself is at stake? Maybe this should be part of the Conversation.

  112. If DU is so friggin’ toxic shouldn’t there be bodies of manufacturers, shippers and ammo loaders laying all over the place?

  113. The Zenvirus dude is a scientific illiterate. Yes, DU is both radioactive and toxic. Guess what? So is the granite used to build Grand Central Station. So are Brazil nuts. I chose both those examples because they actually measurably increase your exposure to radioactivity. (Brazil nuts happen to be mostly grown in an area where soil radioactivity is somewhat above normal.)

    Both of those increase your exposure to radiological and chemical hazard so little that even the notoriously oversensitive EPA has never tried to have Brazil nuts banned or Grand Central Station dismantled. The right questions to ask are quantitative ones, like “what is the LD-50 of finely divided DU” and “how does the hazard of radiological exposure to battlefield DU compare to other normal sources of radiological load” — like, say, flying in an airplane or having an X-ray.

    It turns out the only significant kind of toxicity DU has is propaganda toxicity.

    Here’s a clue: when somebody cites Ramsey Clark as a source, tune them out. It’s a certain sign of moonbattery.

  114. The longest running comment thread….

    Abortion. If an aminocentisis (sp?) showed the potential offspring was going to have Down’s Syndrome or Hunnington’s I’d have my wife void that pregnancy so fast the fetus would bounce off the far wall. Should abortion be a regular method of birth control? No. Should it be outlawed? Nyet. There is a middle ground there somewhere. The problem with Roe v. Wade in my estimation is both the SCOTUS deciding to legislate (they shouldn’t) and the “global” nature of their ruling. What flys in NYC isn’t going down so well in Peoria.

    Gays don’t generally reproduce. Not saying they don’t at all, just that it’s not the expected item. History probably hasn’t changed much overall one the percentages here.

    Frankly I think the pill and economics have much more to do with declining birth rates than abortion. Religion also. Good Catholics had lots of kids. Just ask my 8 siblings.

    DU is hazardous. No duh. So is lead, mercury, and most other heavy metals. Don’t eat it. Tonnage wise does a war leave more lead or DU on the ground? Well, based on the one order for a billion odd small arms cartridges from Israel (close to Iraq and Lake City is a mite busy) I’d guess lead.

    Don’t eat DU. Don’t suck on lead bullets. Don’t eat Cadmium batteries. Don’t lick old thermometer tubes.

    The “left” likes to claim the “right” is anti-reason and anti-education. Yet it’s the left that is unreasonably against Nukes (both power plants and materials technologies). Not to mention global warming. Or is it cooling this year? I can never get that straight.

    We have to pay taxes anyway. Well, not in a perfect world but whatever. $20K off gross fed taxes for each kid. We’d be swimming in tikes.

  115. > That is the Holy Trinity of the Left.

    Peter, You’ve saved me!. Forget Catholicism. I’ve finally found the true religion. I’m so glad I can call my mom and tell her that I found the Holy Trinity at last!

    I don’t think I’m going to convert anyone on this list and nobody’s probably going to convert me. But we can go on trying.

    > Count the number of foreigners going to Iraq for the little war. It’s decreasing. Noticably.

    I’m not sure if there are less foreign insurgents, or they are just less important in the insurgency. If there are fewer going to Iraq, it may be because foreign jihadis only want to fight Coalition forces. Now that the fighting has grown more sectarian, they probably have no taste for killing fellow muslims. What is certain is that the local insurgency is growing and we are creating a breeding ground for home grown terrorists in Iraq.

    > Really? Then the embassy bombing in Africa were a result of the invasion of Iraq? USS Cole? Tossing Leon off the boat?
    > You seem to have a little chron problem here….

    Yes, I acknowledge that Al Quaeda was operating before 9/11, but there was a noticable difference after 9/11. After 9/11, there was a sudden crisis in the Muslim world. Right after 9/11 a lot of muslims denied that it was possible that a righteous man like bin Laden could have killed innocents in 9/11. They said it was a Zionist plot. They claimed that the CIA did it. It was truly difficult for a lot of the muslim world to accept that someone who they admired could stoop so low. It was OK to blow up the USS Cole, and US embassies in Africa, and run planes into the Pentagon. Bin Laden was widely admired for these acts of heroic resistance against an infidel empire that was oppressing them. But many first started by denying that bin Laden had tried to blow up the twin towers. Then it began to sink in that he really had killed a lot of innocent people and some of the religious right in countries like Eygpt were not as keen on praising bin Laden. More importantly, we were now able to convince a lot of Muslim countries to actively cooperate in getting Al Quaeda suspects. We were the victims and we had a lot of sympathy.

    Once we invaded Afghanistan, we lost the battle for battle of hearts and minds, which was the true battle all along. The battle for hearts and minds is far more important than getting the top Al Quaeda suspects. Even if we never get them, we still win if we shut down their international funding, dry up their base of recruits, and make it so they can never go home. Al Quaeda sitting in Afganistan was isolated. Once we invaded Iraq and Afghanistan, all we did was show the muslim world that Al Quaeda was justified in its jihad. Once we started killed thousands of muslims, many in the Muslim world felt fully justified in killing us in turn. Muslims don’t naturally chop off people’s heads any more readily than we do. But when an army comes in and kills thousands of their innocent civilians, they begin to fight back anyway they can, including capturing innocent journalists and cutting off their heads. They can rightly say that they are just paying us back for what we do to them every day with our weapons. We may say that we are killing terrorists, but it doesn’t feel like that to the average Iraqi who sees innocent relatives killed and sees us attempt to take over and control their country and build 14 long term military bases as if we never plan to leave.

    If you were Iraqi, do you think you would cooperate with a foreign invader? If you were a patriotic Iraqi, do you think that you would help a bunch of foreigners rearrange your society and laws, so they can control your country and economy for the next century? What if you see them implementing a bunch of rules that throws most of your friends into unemployment and tries to cede your oil to foreign companies and sell off all your national companies to foreigners. You would probably rebel. I know that I would.

    Robert Pape of the University of Chicago compiled the most comprehensive study of suicide bombers in the world. After studying their backgrounds, he found that the vast majority of suicide bombers had never committed any crimes before and were well integrated members of their society. Most didn’t have any history of mental or physical illness or emotional problems. Many were better educated than their peers and many were considered leaders in their respective communities and they acted with the support of the people around them.

    If we apply Pape’s research to a place like Iraq, we see that we can never kill all the terrorists. There is a limitless supply of people who think they are fighting for their country or their religion. The only way you can win is to discredit the cause. But everything we have done has justified their cause. We often think of Al Quaeda as a small, tight-knit group. They might have been originally, but today it is evident that many of the people who operated under the Al Quaeda banner haven’t been directly trained under Al Quaeda. If you look at the Bali bombings and the London bombings, it was local people inspired by Al Quaeda. This is what we are creating all over the muslim world. Little local cells that operate semi-independently. It doesn’t matter if we capture bin Laden tomorrow and every top Al Quaeda suspect to boot. If we try them and execute them, we have created martyrs. We are still left with lots of Bali and London cells who can operate independently in the name of bin Laden.

    I really don’t know how to go forward at this point, but we can start by making it clear to the muslim world that we have no interest in controlling them, we don’t want our businesses to own their society and their wealth, we don’t want to build any bases on their lands, and we want to get out of their countries as soon as possible. So far, we have sent the exact opposite message.

    It is important to understand why Al Quaeda attacked us in the first place. Almost all the 19 terrorists who boarded those planes in 9/11 were from Saudi Arabia or Eygpt. Since the late 1970s, Eygpt has been one of the largest recipients of US aid, which has been used to prop up Hosni Mubarak as the dictator of Eygpt. We love to protray Mubarak as a “moderate” but the carefully arranged elections in Eygpt shouldn’t fool anyone. Look at the last election. You could only run if your party already had a certain percentage in the parliament. Not surprisingly, the only parties in the parliament were all puppet parties under the thumb of Mubarak. Pretty convenient that every candidate from a true opposition party was disqualified from running. We give millions of dollars in aid and arms to Mubarak who uses it to beef up his police and military forces so that they can suppress any internal opposition to his rule. He is our ally in the war on terror, even though he regularly tortures anyone in the Muslim Brotherhood, which is one of the oldest political parties in the Eygpt. Eygptians fired with religious fervor and love of their homeland see the US as the source of their oppression and the enemy who is propping up an illegitimate dictator in their country. Now Eygptians fundamentalists may hate the infidels and all their immoral ways, but we need to understand that many embark on a jihad against America because they see us as meddling in their homeland and helping to oppress them.

    Saudi Arabia is a similar story. The US has allied itself with the Saudi royal family since the late 40s. We made a faustian bargain. The Saud Family keeps the price of oil low, and we will do everything to help a corrupt family stay in power. The royal family uses gobs of money that comes from the West and patronage to keep everyone in line and locks up and tortures the few brave souls that dare to speak up.

    Bin Laden became a hero in the muslim world when he helped organize and finance Saudis and other nationalities to come to Afganistan and fight guerrilla warfare against the Soviets in Afganistan. Brezinski calculated that the Soviets needed their own Vietnam to destroy their military capacity, so he used CIA funds to fund the muslim fundamentalist rebels in Afganistan so that they would provoke a soviet invasion. The Soviets had been determined to stay out of Afganistan, but once they saw that the US was operating in their backyard, they decided to send in their own troops to prop up the communist government in Afganistan. Although I generally admire Carter, this was one of the most Machiavellian and truly evil decisions ever made by a US president. We had no real need to start a war that would eventually kill 3 million Afghanis and leave thousands of Russian mothers without sons, but we did it in the name of some geopolitical goal, like we were playing a game of chess with millions of lives. At any rate, we helped create bin Laden and the Taliban by provoking this needless war. Then we helped create al Quaeda by starting the Gulf War I (and let’s not forget that our ambassador gave Hussein the diplomatic green light to invade Kuwait). Bin Laden was so outraged by the stationing of foreign infidels on holy muslim soil during and after Gulf War I, that he made a public break with the Saudi government and issued a call to defeat the foreign infidels and began Al Quaeda. Perminently stationing US 5000 troops on Saudi soil was considered an outrage by bin Laden and most religious muslims and he said that he declared that Al Quaeda would keep attacking the infidels as long as they stayed on muslim soil. He vowed to keep killing foreign infidels as long as the US troops stayed in Saudi Arabia, as long as the sanctions that were killing Iraqi children were not lifted (remember that 1 million Iraqis were killed by these sanctions), and as long as the Palestinians didn’t have their own country.

    After we invaded Afganistan and then Iraq, Al Quaeda strategy changed (if we can believe al Quaeda websites). They stopped attacking Americans and instead attacked the allies in the Coalition to peel away America’s support in the war. (The Bali cell seems to have acted for more local reasons).

    The point in recounting all this history is to show that bin Laden and rest of Al Quaeda think of us as foreigners who invaded their homeland. They think of themselves as trying to fight a foreign enemy that is funding and aiding immoral and corrupt dictatorships in their homeland. They think they are just defending themselves against aggressors who are desecrating their soil. They may be killing innocent civilians, but they feel justified in fighting an evil enemy who has killed thousands innocent and defenseless muslims. Bin Laden frequently mentioned the dead children of Iraq in his speeches. And this kind of rhetoric has great appeal in the muslim world. Yes, bin Laden’s talk about creating a new Caliphate may fire the imaginations of some of his followers, but what gets people so mad that they are willing to risk their lives fighting us is that we are “corrupting” their countries and killing their fellow muslims.

    We are never going to defeat the terrorists by killing them. When we use military force arrogantly, we sow more problems for the future. Gulf War I led to Al Quaeda and Gulf War II. What will these current wars bring? There are better and smarter ways to fight terrorism which don’t involve being a imperialist power and using unilaterial force whenever we feel like it. We keep repeating to ourselves that we are bringing freedom and democracy to the Middle East. These are fine goals, but if we truly believe in them, then we need to acknowledge that they are goals which are incompatible with imperialism in any form. Freedom and democracy in the Middle East mean the freedom to overthrow foreign invaders and freedom to elect religious fundamentalists as leaders. It is not our place, nor our right to demand that they adopt our values and our mores–not if we truly believe in freedom and democracy.

  116. Your arrogant, self-centered screed is the perfect example of what I call Delusional Imperialism. Your underlying premise is that those dumbass Arabs and Russians would have acted properly if they had been managed better. The rest of the world is stupid, devoid of history, and incapable of acting except in response to what “we” are doing.

    I suppose that’s consistent with your theme that “we” can manage the economy, or the climate, or even human nature if only the “right” people were in charge.

  117. “We are never going to defeat the terrorists by killing them”
    Once they are dead, they’re been amazingly inactive.

    “The point in recounting all this history”
    No, your interpretation of it.

    “I really don’t know how to go forward at this point,”
    Exactly.

  118. This Amos Battos just knows what would have happened because well he just knows and we should listen. Crap.

    He also believes the Lancet study. No surer sign of stupidity. IIRC the “study” found a 95% confidence interval that the civilian deaths were between something like 15,000 and 185,000 so they just split the difference and called it 100,000! The authors have admitted their political motivations to influence the 2004 US presidential election. And the timing was a bit suspicious. MMMMMMMMM amos?

  119. > The authors have admitted their political motivations to influence the 2004 US presidential election. And the timing was a bit suspicious

    Noah, where did they say that? I’m truly curious. I’m willing to listen if people have reasonable criticisms of the study.

    And yes, I know the difference between statistics and actual counting of dead bodies. Even if you can’t accept the Johns Hopkins study which was published in the Lancet (the most prestigious US medical school and the most prestigious British medical journal), you can’t reasonably criticize the Iraqi Body Count which says that a minimum of 28864 Iraqi civilians (roughly 16000 dead at the time of the study) have died because of violence. They carefully list the names when available, and quote the sources from the newspapers. We can go back ourselves and verify each and everyone of those dead by looking at the newspapers. So we know the minimum dead.

    Based upon what we know about Iraq, we can reasonably say that many of the Iraqis who are dying are not being reported in the press. Now the question is what is the ratio of actual dead to reported dead in the newspapers. Here is why I don’t think the Johns Hopkins study was unreasonable. If we use the median values of the Johns Hopkins study, you have roughly 60,000 dead from violence, and 40,000 dead from worsening conditions (medicine, nutrition, unemployment). Let’s try and check whether this estimate is possible. Look at the ratio of people reported to be dead due to violence versus the number of actual dead due to violence. The median value of the Hopkins study would suggest a ratio of 1 reported dead to 4 actual dead (16000/60000). This is not an unreasonable estimate considering the state of the Iraqi press today. Iraq is the most dangerous place in the world to be a journalist today and Iraqi journalists are regularly assassinated. How many of the Iraqis who are killed due to violence are actually reported? I think a 1 to 4 ratio is highly likely. If we project that ratio to the present when we now have a minimum of 28,864 Iraqi civilians who have died due to violence, we get a rough estimate of 115,000 dead due to violence.

    Of course these are just statistical guesses, but they aren’t unreasonable. Now if you want to criticize the methodology of the study, I’m willing to listen but recognize that the cluster sample methodology has been used before by the same research team in Zaire/Congo and nobody found their methods objectionable. It is only when those same methods were used in Iraq, that the right wing press had a fit. The Economist had a one-page article where they evaluated the John Hopkins study and they failed to find that it was biased–I read it and was convinced. (I haven’t been able to get my hands on the Lancet article itself, so I’m trusting what they said). I find it highly unlikely that medical researchers in the premier medical school, whose professional reputations are on the line and who know their work will be widely reviewed, would risk conducting a biased study. They know that eventually other people will go and do similar studies after the war has ended and destroy their reputations. I find it much more likely that a bunch of people in the right-wing press are trying to discredit the results of the study for political reasons.

    > “The point in recounting all this history”
    > No, your interpretation of it.

    There are facts (actually some professional historians debate this, but we won’t get into post-modernism) and then there is interpretation of those facts. Are you saying that I’m misrepresenting the facts? (If so, which?) Or am I putting an interpretation on those facts that challenges your world view?

    > Your underlying premise is that those dumbass Arabs and Russians would have acted properly if they had been managed better

    What I’m saying is that you have to be able to see the world from their point of view. I’m trying to tell you guys that the Russians saw us as the aggressors in Afganistan and they thought they were just defending themselves. That is how they saw it. A Saudi like bin Laden sees us as the aggressor who stationed 5000 troops on the holy land of Saudi Arabia and he thinks of himself as simply defending. All those Iraqi insurgents see us as the aggressors and they think of themselves as defending their homeland. It is important to understand the enemy and his motivations.

    We think that we are doing the same thing. We think we are just defending ourselves against Al Quaeda. We think that they attacked us first, but from their perspective, we attacked them first.

    Now you can denounce me for “suicidalism” or the rest of your memetic jargon, but none of that is going to help stop terrorism.

    And no, I don’t think that the Arabs and Russians are “dumbasses”. What they did in response to what we have done was perfectly reasonable. If Russia had started trying to overthrow the Canadian or Mexican government, we would have invaded Canada or Mexico to stop it. If Iraq had invaded the US and we had little way to defend ourselves, we would start making home-made bombs and organizing an insurgency. I wouldn’t personally do it, but I don’t doubt that many Americans would start kidnapping Iraqi journalists and cutting off their heads. When Zbigniew Brzezinski today brags about starting a war that killed 3 million Afghanis or Madeleine Albright said that it was “worth it” to kill a million Iraqs with sanctions, I think that we would be fully capable of committing terrorism if we didn’t have large armies and gobs of CIA funds to fight our wars.

    > Your arrogant, self-centered screed

    How is it “arrogant” and “self-centered” to point out that we can’t expect the world to run according to our rules and that we need to respect the desires of other peoples in the world? Imperialism is the epitome of an “arrogant, self-centered screed”.

    > if only the “right” people were in charge.

    This is the exact opposite of what I’m saying about the war on terrorism. I’m saying that we can’t try and put the “right” people in charge in the MiddleEast. That is our current foreign policy. We want them to change to our system and then we want them to put the “right” people in power. When they don’t, we do everything to undermine them. Look at how we treated the last two elections in the MiddleEast. When Palestine and Iran didn’t elect the people we wanted, we passed resolutions to stop our NGOs from giving any money to Palestine and supported Isreal in its decision to “put them on a diet” and to not give the Palestinians their own tax revenue. When Iran elected Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, we made all sorts of speeches denouncing Iran and made plans with the Isrealis about how to invade Iran. When we tried an arrange the election on Jan 30, 2005 in Iraq so that the Cleric’s List candidates would get less than 50%, we were trying to make sure that the “‘right’ people were in charge”

    Now maybe you can accuse me of trying to put the “right” people in charge in our own country. This is called democracy and citizenship and I expect every American to exercise this. Maybe you favor a libertarian president (I don’t know what your beliefs are). Yes, I believe in government regulation of the environment and the Kyoto Treaty, so you can criticize me for trying to put the “right” people in charge who will carry out those policies. I do believe that we need to elect better leaders who actually know how to pay attention to science rather than ideology. It is isn’t unreasonable to say that we should pay attention to science and try to avert a disaster which could threaten the human species. The rest of the world has come to this conclusion. Why are we so “arrogant” and “self-centered” that we criticize the rest of the world for trying to do something about this problem, especially when our lifestyle is a big part of the problem. Don’t you think that it is “arrogant” and “self-centered” to demand that we can pollute as much as we want and refuse to listen when others people tell us that our behavior is harming them? Remember that the average American creates 3.5 times as much greenhouse gasses of the average French, 6 times as much as the average Swiss, and 200 times as much as the average Ugandan. That is want I call “arrogant” and “self-centered”–and I say that as a white middle-class male who has enjoyed all the benefits of that wasteful American lifestyle.

  120. > It turns out the only significant kind of toxicity DU has is propaganda toxicity.

    A US Army report in July 1990 categorically stated that DU is “a low level alpha radiation emitter which is linked to cancer when exposures are internal, [and] chemical toxicity causing kidney damage. . . . Short term effects of high doses can result in death, while long term effects of low doses have been linked to cancer.”

    Over the last decade and a half, the cancer rate has quintupled for Iraqi children under the age of 15. The cancer rate grew from 3.98 per 100,000 children in 1990 to 22.4 per 100,000 today. In Basra, a region that was heavily shelled by DU munitions during Gulf War I, cancer rates have skyrocketed 15-fold. DU contamination especially effects the young whose developing bodies are more susceptible. In March 2001, Dr. Aws Albait, an Iraqi physician who worked in Baghdad from 1990-1999, reported that leukemia and lymphomas in Iraqi children had increased 12-fold, whereas those same cancers have only increased six-fold among adults. In November 2004, Dr Janan Hassan of the Basra Maternity and Childrens Hospital noted that as many as 56% of all cancer patients in Iraq are now children under 5, compared with just 13% before Gulf War I. Despite this evidence, Pentagon spokesman Michael Kilpatrick assures the public that “the overwhelming conclusion” from the studies of people working with uranium is that “it has not produced any increase in cancer.”

    Not only have cancer rates in Iraq skyrocketed, Dr Hassan observes that birth defects in his hospital are “rising astonishingly.” “In 1990, there were seven cases of babies born with multiple congenital anomalies. This has gone up to as high as 224 cases in the past three years.” Dr Hassan isn’t the only doctor in Iraq discovering this alarming increase. Between 1989 and 2001, the number of birth deformities per 100,000 Iraqi births grew from 11 to 116–a tenfold increase in a dozen years. All signs show that this problem will only grow worse in the future. Dr Nawar Ali, a medical researcher at Baghdad University, recently reported a 20% increase in birth deformities since the last totals were reported in August 2003.

    Quoting from my article: http://mypage.iu.edu/~abatto/aoi/HazardsDepletedUranium.htm
    (See the sources list at the bottom of the article.)

  121. What I’m saying is that you have to be able to see the world from their point of view.

    Ain’t no one round here in the mood to put themselves in beardy shoes. You have to respect someone as a human being to want to do that.

  122. Attorneys know that you have to get a witness talking if you hope to impeach him. Amos Batto’s last few posts are a good example of this.

    /* If there are fewer going to Iraq, it may be because foreign jihadis only want to fight Coalition forces. Now that the fighting has grown more sectarian, they probably have no taste for killing fellow muslims.
    */

    There’s a big hole in this suggested cause: bombings in predominantly Muslim countries like Egypt and Jordan. Those bombings were carried out by foreign Muslim imports, and killed other Muslims.

    /* After 9/11, there was a sudden crisis in the Muslim world.
    */

    I wish I could believe this theory, but I saw the spontaneous celebrations in the streets when news spread through the Muslim world. Yes, they publicly denied it, but they danced in the streets because a “righteous man” such as bin Laden was able to strike such a terrible blow against the Great Satan.

    Where these celebrating Muslims the majority of all Muslims? I don’t know. I do know they were prime suicide bomber age, they can shoot guns as effectively as anyone else, and that they, like bin Laden, are “determined to attack US” (in the works of Richard Clarke).

    /* It is important to understand why Al Quaeda attacked us in the first place.
    */

    Probably to kill people. I know that crime in the US was once committed by knife-wielding criminals. Then it was committed by revolver-wielding criminals. Then it was committed by semi-auto-wielding criminals. Today you hear about it being committed by fully-automatic-wielding criminals. No, I don’t like the fact that the criminals are packing more heat. But there’s no reason to think that if the cops start carrying knives the criminals will stop packing heat.

    So, yes, we might be able to attack some of the root causes of terrorism. But at the same time, we need to make sure we teach (through example) terrorists that if they come knocking around here, they will be utterly destroyed. I’m very serious when I say we could drop enough MOABs and Daisy Cutters in the mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan to turn them into molehills. And I’m very serious that doing so would do more to drop terrorist attacks against the US than the millions of dollars we currently send to the Middle East as foreign aid.

  123. “Over the last decade and a half, the cancer rate has quintupled for Iraqi children under the age of 15.”
    Oy vey on to the DU nonsense again.

    If DU was the cause of escalated cancer risk in Iraq the rate in Kuwait would be even higher. Use of DU in Kuwait was much higher than in Iraq. There has been no increase measured in cancer cases in Kuwait. I guess DU only affects Iraqis. The people of Kuwait have a natural immunity?

    “Short term effects of high doses can result in death, while long term effects of low doses have been linked to cancer.”

    # Based on credible scientific evidence, there is no proven link between DU exposure and increases in human cancers or other significant health or environmental impacts.
    # The most definitive study of DU exposure is of Gulf War veterans who have embedded DU shrapnel in their bodies that cannot be removed. To date none has developed any health abnormalities due to uranium chemical toxicity or radio toxicity.
    http://www.iaea.org/NewsCenter/Features/DU/faq_depleted_uranium.shtml

  124. >> The authors have admitted their political motivations to influence the 2004 US presidential election. And the timing was a bit suspicious

    >Noah, where did they say that? I’m truly curious. I’m willing to listen if people have reasonable criticisms of the study.

    “The report was released just days before the US presidential election.
    Lead researcher Les Roberts, from Johns Hopkins, said the article’s timing had been left up to him.
    “I emailed it in on September 30 under the condition that it came out before the election,” Roberts said.
    “My motive in doing that was not to skew the election. My motive was that if this came out during the campaign, both candidates would be forced to pledge to protect civilian lives in Iraq.
    “I was opposed to the war and I still think that the war was a bad idea, but I think that our science has transcended our perspectives,” Roberts said. “As an American, I am really, really sorry to be reporting this.”
    http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2004/10/29/1098992290312.html?oneclick=true

    So he wanted to release his “study” (quotes as it was a survey, not a study) before the election and he is opposed to the war. Hmmmm.

    “you can’t reasonably criticize the Iraqi Body Count”
    Why not? Wikipedia does:

    “The project, which is rooted in the anti-war movement, is staffed by volunteers who measure the number of non-Iraqi-caused civilian deaths in the Iraq war of 2003 by sampling news stories to extract minimum and maximum numbers of civilian casualities. Each incident reported at least by two independent news sources is included in the Iraq Body Count database.

    Although IBC records the newspaper, magazine or website where each estimate is reported, it makes no attempt to record or assess the original sources for the information: that is, the NGO, journalist or government responsible for doing the counting. Hence, any inherent bias due to the lack of reliable reports from independent or Allied sources is hidden. Also, it is difficult for outsiders to assess the extent of this problem, because IBC does not publish full citations for their sources — they only give a date, a newspaper name and an incident location.

    If a number is quoted from a pro-Iraqi source, and the Allies fail to give a sufficiently specific alternate number, the pro-Iraqi figure is entered into IBC’s database as both a maximum and a minimum. The same works vice versa. The project claims that these over- and underestimations of different media sources balance out to give some sort of accuracy.”

    I especially like the “and te Allies fail to give a sufficiently specific alternate number” part. So if the Guardian says 100,000 died last night and you don’t deny it 100,000 it is?
    But you can’t fault them Amos? Nice sources you have.

  125. >Ain’t no one round here in the mood to put themselves in beardy shoes. You have to respect someone as a human being to want to do that.

    I lost any interest in “respecting [Islamic terrorists] as human beings” on 9/11. Now I just want them all to die. Preferably in a horrible enough way to deter future terrorism.

  126. Amos, the Lancet may be the most prestigious British medical journal but in fact no longer has much respect in the medical world. Its politicalization of science (predating the “study” we are arguing about) has damaged its reputation over many years. I notice you did not bother to quibble with my description of how the figure of 100,000 was arrived at. But previously you had claimed that nobody had argued with the validity of the study. It doesn’t take much sophistication to recognize that those claiming 100,000 dead on the basis of the study are either lying themselves or are dupes of those that are.

    You are one sick dude…but I have noticed that you have a lot of company in the left blogoshere.

  127. > # Based on credible scientific evidence, there is no proven link between DU exposure and increases in human cancers or other
    > significant health or environmental impacts.
    > # The most definitive study of DU exposure is of Gulf War veterans who have embedded DU shrapnel in their bodies that cannot
    > be removed. To date none has developed any health abnormalities due to uranium chemical toxicity or radio toxicity.

    There have been few actual studies–the Army’s own experts were strong-armed into not investigating, if we can believe Dr. Doug Rokke, the guy in charge of DU cleanup after Gulf War I. The problem is that the army’s tests are designed for natural uranium, not depleted uranium. What we can know is that there has been a lot of studies that confirm that Gulf War I veterans are having kids with birth defects. There has been 2001 survey of 21,000 military personnel by the Dept. of Veterans Affairs and Johns Hopkins University which found that the children of male Gulf War veterans were twice as likely to have birth defects as non-veterans. Female veterans were almost three times as likely to have children with birth defects. I suggest that your read what Leuren Moret, Alexandra C. Miller, Marion Fulk, Asaf Durakovic and Doug Rokke have to say about DU, before you decide that it isn’t dangerous. Rokke and Durakovic both were medical officers in the Army. I can’t comment on the studies cited by the IAEA, but from what Rokke and Durakovic say there is lots of circumstantial evidence but few real studies. Rokke was in charge of a 100 man DU clean up crew after Gulf War I and he reports that 30% of them are dead today from causes that could be related to uranium exposure. He also reported that the Army tried to silence him when he started speaking out about the problems of DU. I don’t think this is a settled question.

  128. Amos has demonstrated many times that he is interested only in the Story and that the accuracy of any “facts” surrounding the story are irrelevant at best. This is the modus operandi of the Left. The description of events in a way that advances the Story is always more important than the actual events themselves. We see it every day, unfortunately, from the very organs that we were led to believe, in more innocent times, were the guardians of the truth.

  129. “When Kofi Annan declared the invasion of Iraq to be illegal and a violation of the UN charter (which the US signed and is fully bound by), the overwhelming concensus among international lawyers is that Annan was right.”

    Stop quoting laws, we carry weapons.

  130. /* [Amos] When Kofi Annan declared the invasion of Iraq to be illegal and a violation of the UN charter (which the US signed and is fully bound by), the overwhelming concensus among international lawyers is that Annan was right.

    [Pompey] Stop quoting laws, we carry weapons.
    */

    I did find it interesting that Annan backed away from this later. In fact, I believe the UN voted to legitimize the invasion after the fact. Why? Because otherwise the UN would have absolutely no role in Iraq today. That doesn’t make things “right” (although I personally believe the invasion was legal under a few theories of law, see below), but it does mean the UN’s not gonna make much of a stink about it now.

    Why do I think it was legal? First, Iraq agreed to a UN-brokered cease fire to end Gulf War I. However, Iraq didn’t actually cease firing. That means (under international law) Gulf War I never actually ended, and Gulf War II was actually Gulf War I’s second phase (after a decade lull in fighting).

    Second, Iraq’s firing on US planes (in the no-fly zone) justified Clinton’s unilateral expansion of the no-fly zone (*without* prior UN approval). Why? Because when the UN set up the no-fly zone, they explicitly gave the US approval to use “whatever means necessary” to patrol that zone. After ten years, Iraq was still not complying with the no-fly zone, and every other means possible had been tried. The only way left to get Iraq to comply was to invade. Invasion falls under “whatever means necessary.”

    Third, even if the other two points did not exist, the fact that Iraq was constantly firing at US planes (actually trying to kill the people inside), meant that the invasion was not unprovoked, and not a “war of aggression.”

    But, hey, the UN, what other body on the world would say that Iraq was the victim when it was constantly shooting at US planes doing exactly what the UN asked them to do? “US, please set up a no-fly zone. US, by patrolling that no-fly zone, you are now an aggressor, and Iraq is the victim.” Gotta love ‘em.

  131. > You are one sick dude

    No. I actually care about the people who are getting killed unlike some people.

    Tommy Franks says “We don’t do body counts”–the US military has every reason to deny how many people are dying in Iraq. Alright you guys don’t trust these sources, but you can’t seem to give me any reasonable estimate of how many people are dying in Iraq.

    Nothing our government tells us about the war in Iraq is very credible.
    We have been told by our government in this war:
    1) there is no torture. There have been 400 reported cases of torture in US facilities.
    2) There is no use of napalm. First govt denied it. When eyewitnesses came forward, then admitted it was modified napalm.
    3) They aren’t using white phosphorous bombs against civilians. First deny it. Then WP use is reported in a military journal. Can’t deny about it anymore so try to claim that it wasn’t used against civilians. Several military personnel contradict this and eyewitnesses in Fallujah.

    OK, so we have a goverment with a habit of lieing to its citizens about what is actually happening in Iraq. So it is left up to ordinary people like you and me to try and figure out what is happening. So you guys don’t think the numbers from IraqBodyCount or Johns Hopkins study are credible. (I wonder if you would trust any source that didn’t reconfirm your existing ideology) We don’t have much more to go on, since nobody seems interested in studying the issue except for sources that you think are biased.

    Everything we read about Iraq shows that lots of people are dying and it has become a very dangerous place.

    Look at some of the other numbers that are being thrown around:

    Baghdad’s central morgue counted 8,035 deaths by unnatural causes in 2004, up from
    6,012 in 2003 and 1,800 before the war in 2002. 2005 is turning out to be even deadlier
    with the Baghdad morgue reporting 1,100 such deaths in July 2005 alone.

    Iraq Coalition Casualty Count reports that 2,945 soldiers and police officers have
    been killed since the war started while other reports estimate up to 6,000 have been
    killed.13 Even based upon the more conservative numbers, the toll has increased dramatically
    since the January 2005 elections. Up until December 2004, the monthly
    death figure was 65 but in 2005 the average has been 155 and the death toll reached
    a high of 304 in July 2005.

    During “major combat” operations (March 20, 2003 to May 2, 2003), between
    4,895 and 6,370 Iraqi soldiers and resistance fighters were killed. While the
    Pentagon has released estimates on resistance deaths and arrests from time to time,
    there have been no official comprehensive accounts released. A Brookings study based
    on government figures estimates that 40,000 suspected resistance fighters have been
    detained or killed as of June 2005 and retired Gen. Jack Keane noted at a July 2005
    meeting at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy that more than 50,000
    resistance forces had been killed.

    The GAO reports: “According to senior military officials, the insurgency in Iraq—
    particularly the Sunni insurgency—has grown in number, complexity, and intensity
    over the past 18 months.” Brookings’ Iraq Index confirms that the average number of
    attacks per month has nearly doubled since the election, with an average of 70 attacks
    a day in May-July 2005. The rise in suicide attacks has skyrocketed in 2005. Before
    the U.S. invasion Iraq had never experienced a suicide terrorist attack. In 2003 there
    were 20, in 2004 there were 48 and in the first five months of 2005 there was more
    than 50.

    http://www.ips-dc.org/iraq/quagmire/IraqQuagmire.pdf

    Everything points to more people dying every day. 28,800 as reported by Iraq Body Count certainly doesn’t look unreasonable, and more is very probable.

    The wikipedia criticisms of the Iraqi Body Count don’t convince me that I should simply throw out the their numbers as useless. Their criticisms about not quoting the source is valid but doesn’t show that they aren’t accurate. Other criticisms have merit but aren’t easy to fix. In many newspaper accounts, you often don’t know who the eye-witness account comes from. When the NY Times reports numbers dead, it often doesn’t tell whether the reporter saw it first hand or whether relying on an informant and what that informant’s name is and what is his/her position and whether he/she might have a reason to lie to you. So trying to evaluaete the source simply isn’t possible without being on the ground and doing it yourself.

    As for using numbers that come from Iraqi sources, that in itself doesn’t make them inaccurate. What is more important is to see whether an Iraqi source has a history of exaggerating the number of dead, by checking to see whether it is reporting consistently more than US news sources for the same incident. Did they do that sort of checking? No. Fine, but it still doesn’t mean you dismiss the whole thing. What the IBC reports is verifiable. Anyone can go and replicate their work and try to prove that their numbers are biased. You could easily go and get the press reports for a month and see whether they aren’t being very fair, but noone seems to have done this or at least reported on it. Most of the major news sources do feel that the bias balances out as IBC argues, because they quote their numbers. So I am not going to dismiss IBC, like you guys.

    Noah, as for the Johns Hopkins study being an estimate with a wide range, the number could be just as easily 180,000 as 20,000–with all studies of this sort you take the median as the must likely and accept everything as an estimate. The political motivations are problematic and they make me less inclined not to trust it. But almost every study is motivated by the beliefs of the researcher. This definitely wasn’t an outright fraudulent study. You don’t tell the press that you had a political motivation for doing the study if you are aiming for outright deception. They really did send out Iraqi examiners out to question people in 33 cluster samples. The bigger question is did their political motivations effect their sampling methods. With statistics, you can often take the raw numbers and come up with final statistics that fit your prior beliefs. Often researchers aren’t aware of their bias. This is why you have peer review to examine how the sampling was done and look at how the raw numbers were transformed into conclusions. This is why it matters that it was published in a reputable journal that demands peer review and it comes from faculty at Johns Hopkins and Colombia. You can’t trust a study from the Heritage Institute or a tobacco company to do these things. All in all, I think you should treat the study skeptically, but not as outright fraud as you seem to suggest.

    My basic argument that a lot more people are dying that is being reported is still a valid contention. You can’t have 70 attacks per day as the US reports and not expect a lot of collateral damage and you can’t expect a place where most of the journalists are afraid to go into the street to have accurately report every person killed especially in the regions were there are few journalists outside baghdad. The bigger question is what is the ratio. Is it just 2 to 1? or more like 4 to 1? You guys really need to be aware that most wars especially in highly populated areas like Baghdad and Fallujah kill lots of civilians. In Fallujah they were using White Phosphorous bombs with a blast radius of 150 meters. You don’t use those sort of weapons without killing lots of people. If you think that civilians aren’t dieing you are deluding yourselves. This isn’t a clean war and conditions are much worse today for the average Iraqi in terms of nutrition, electricity, security, rape, kidnapping, crime, employment, and death squad killing than before the war started.

  132. Wars are disruptive. People get hurt. It gets wet when it rains.

    True wisdom, indeed.

  133. Amos, Amos, Amos. Why not try reading the article?

    “There have been few actual studies” There haven’t been a lot of studies into a lot of things. Once a study, a real one, starts showing data that can’t be refuted there isn’t a lot of interesting in starting another 5 studies.

    “the Army’s own experts were strong-armed into not investigating, if we can believe Dr. Doug Rokke”
    So now we’re supposed to rely on second hand rumours of conspiracy? Wow.

    “The problem is that the army’s tests are designed for natural uranium, not depleted uranium.”
    Now this I actually have a hard time with Amos. You’ve reached the level of moonbat here. Again:
    “The most detailed ongoing study on the health effects of DU exposure is of 33 friendly fire veterans of the Gulf War, most of whom have embedded DU shrapnel in their bodies that cannot be removed.”
    So if these vets have actual depleted uranium in their bodies how can you even begin to think anyone is going to take you seriously when you say the studies are on “natural uranium” instead of “depleted uranium?” Say it with me: 33 vets with depleted uranium shrapnel in their bodies. Not “natural uranium.” They have depleted uranium in their bodies.

    ” What we can know is that there has been a lot of studies that confirm that Gulf War I veterans are having kids with birth defects.”
    Say it again. The study is of 33 vets with DU in their bodies. We can rule out all other items when we study vets with the actual product in them. We don’t have to ask “was the water at Fort Bragg high in lead content and thus possibly affecting offspring” or any such. 33 vets with DU.

    “There has been 2001 survey of 21,000 military personnel by the Dept. of Veterans Affairs and Johns Hopkins University which found that the children of male Gulf War veterans were twice as likely to have birth defects as non-veterans.”
    Another John Hopkins survey? You really do need more sources. Say it once again: 33 vets with DU. These aren’t people that might have been exposed to chemical warfare agents at airbases in SU. These are the perfect study items as they have actual DU. Get it?

    “Rokke was in charge of a 100 man DU clean up crew after Gulf War I and he reports that 30% of them are dead today from causes that could be related to uranium exposure”
    33 vets with actual DU in their bodies. They are all alive. They are not experiencing abnormal health effects other than pissing uranium. Get it? Real people.

    Just curious if you can pound the concept into your head. 33 actual vets with DU. No survey. No implied junk science.

    “To date none has developed any abnormalities due to uranium chemical toxicity or radio toxicity, despite showing greatly increased levels of uranium in their urine. However, it is generally accepted that more comprehensive studies on long-term health effects are needed.”
    Get it? 33 with DU. None has developed any abnormalities.

    You can conduct as many surveys as you wish. Float as many conspiracies as you’d like. But those 33 guys are kind of hard to get around aren’t they? Big elephant in the living room.

    ======

    Nothing our government tells us about the war in Iraq is very credible.
    We have been told by our government in this war:

    1) there is no torture. There have been 400 reported cases of torture in US facilities.
    I am hereby reporting 10,000 more cases of torture. Now you have 10,400 ok? I just reported 10,000. You can quote me on that.

    2) There is no use of napalm. First govt denied it. When eyewitnesses came forward, then admitted it was modified napalm.
    What is your issue with napalm? I love the smell of it in the morning. Too bad they aren’t using more. Seriously, what is your issue with Napalm. Love the stuff.

    3) They aren’t using white phosphorous bombs against civilians. First deny it. Then WP use is reported in a military journal. Can’t deny about it anymore so try to claim that it wasn’t used against civilians. Several military personnel contradict this and eyewitnesses in Fallujah.
    Conflating WP against targets and civilians are we? But, let’s get to definitions ok? Syrian kid goes to Iraq to take pot shots at the US Army. Is he a civilian? Do they wear uniforms? They are civilians. They are terrorists. They are legimate targets.
    What’s your beef with Willy Peter anyway? Like Napalm it’s fine stuff. Seriously. Works wonders.

    Too bad they don’t use more cluster bombs. That was the left’s weapons of tears in the 1980s. FAEs in Fallujah would have made that one go quicker. Too bad.

    ====
    “The wikipedia criticisms of the Iraqi Body Count don’t convince me that I should simply throw out the their numbers as useless.”
    Of course you have a use for them. They are quite easily proven to be biased in a direction you like.

    ====

    Amos, I’m not going to spend any more time on you. Anyone that can claim that the Army studies are flawed because they are looking at “natural uranium” when in actual fact they are making a study of 33 vets with actual DU in them isn’t just ignorant. Ignorant I can deal with. Willfully stupid I don’t need to spend time on.

  134. > The description of events in a way that advances the Story is always more important than the actual events themselves

    Does it every strike you as odd that “The Story” I’m telling is much closer to the way that most of the world outside America sees that story. At a time when the French, Germans, Mexicans, Canadians, Brazilians, Indians, and Chinese think that the US is conducting an immoral war of aggression, does it ever strike you as odd that you are telling yourself such a different story. And does it ever strike you as odd that your president is openly contemptous of science and fills all his technical advisory positions with people of dubious qualifications whose primary asset is loyalty to the president? And does it ever strike you as odd that many of the things we were told about this war turned out to be untrue? Who is deluding themselves here?

  135. As the famous philosopher Foghorn Leghorn said: “Amos, you flap your mouth around alot, but you don’t say much.”

  136. >Amos has demonstrated many times that he is interested only in the Story and that the accuracy of any “facts” surrounding the story are irrelevant at best.

    Everything we need to know about Amos is subsumed in his redefinition of “freedom” as “collective control”. This is the kind of being that wants to either wear jackboots or lick them, a classic authoritarian personality. Truth means nothing to such people, and inconvenient facts get consigned to the memory hole.

    Sadly, he’s entirely typical of the Left.

  137. I lost any interest in “respecting [Islamic terrorists] as human beings” on 9/11. Now I just want them all to die.
    Preferably in a horrible enough way to deter future terrorism.

    Difficult for those who believe in martyrdom. I mean, afaict the more creative the Romans got about executions, the more converts the Christians ended up with. For that, you might need methods refined (though probably not invented) by the Khans. Good luck with whatever you become in the process.

  138. Boy, I keep missing all the excitement.

    /* 1) there is no torture. There have been 400 reported cases of torture in US facilities.
    */

    How many of those reports are credible (how many are duplicate)? How many of those cases were investigated? How many led to courts martial? The number of complaints filed is only part of the story.

    /* 2) There is no use of napalm. First govt denied it. When eyewitnesses came forward, then admitted it was modified napalm.
    */

    Napalm is a legal weapon under the Laws of War and Armed Conflict. However, the military was correct that they didn’t use napalm. They used a completely different chemical (based on kerosene, not gasoline).

    It’s a lot like saying “my car doesn’t run on gas, it runs on biodiesel.” There is a difference. But either way, the weapon used was legal for legitimate military targets, and it was used against a formation of Iraqi troops and only Iraqi troops. Perfectly legal. Good way to die? No, of course not. Legal under international law. Without a doubt.

    /* 3) They aren’t using white phosphorous bombs against civilians. First deny it. Then WP use is reported in a military journal. Can’t deny about it anymore so try to claim that it wasn’t used against civilians. Several military personnel contradict this and eyewitnesses in Fallujah.
    */

    White phosphorus is a legal weapon under the Laws of War and Armed Conflict. The white phosphorus used was on bullets, so it wasn’t an “incendiary” or chemical weapon. It’s been used that way since at least WWII.

    You might as well complain that the military is using tanks or guns.

  139. Max, move it back to WW1 minimum. Charging through Willy Peter barrages is part and parcel of the trench warfare in WW1. They also used WP shells (“flaming onions”) to try to shoot down the aircraft – doped fabric is very flammable.

    But if every chemical is “chemical warfare” guns are right out – they use a chemical in the powder (nitrogen of course). So is breathing on the enemy (carbon). Come to think of it MREs are too (iron). The Army is using chemical warfare on our troops! MREs have Iron! Of course fighting with no hemoglobin could be an issue.

    As the left gets further and further from military service their understanding of it decreases to amusing levels.

  140. > Amos, Amos, Amos. Why not try reading the article?

    Joe, I did read the article and it basically said that negative effects haven’t been observed, but long term studies haven’t been done. Remember that cancer and birth defects take a long time to show up. I’m not convinced that DU is safe because there are researchers finding disturbing things about DU. Google Asaf Durakovic, Doug Rokke, Leuren Moret, Alexandra C. Miller, and Marion Fulk. Look at what they have written. Then you tell me that there isn’t major dispute about this question about whether DU is safe. That is why I concluded that this question isn’t settled. And there is a great deal of testimony to suggest that the Army is trying to discourage research and discourage real testing designed for DU. As for Dr. Doug Rokke. I happened to have a pleasant conversation with him over email last year when I wrote my article about depleted uranium. Here is the link again: http://mypage.iu.edu/~abatto/aoi/HazardsDepletedUranium.htm
    Rokke invited me to come and visit him and see to Champaigne Illinois and look over the data he has about veterans getting sick. Yes, he is a real person and the story he tells is very disturbing.

    Now let’s look at the 4 studies (1 didn’t report the results) mentioned in the article:
    > An assessment by WHO in 2001 excluded any link between exposure to DU and the onset of congenital abnormalities.

    10 years after the Gulf War I and 6 years after Serbia, they probably don’t have enough data to know for sure, especially since almost nobody has been using the special tests to look for DU exposure cost which cost over $1000 and are very rarely used. What Rokke says is that nobody had done a study with the special DU tests, so you really don’t know if the parents were exposed or not. So it is hard to say whether it causes birth defects or not.

    > # The most detailed ongoing study on the health effects of DU exposure is of 33 friendly fire veterans of the Gulf War, most of
    > whom have embedded DU shrapnel in their bodies that cannot be removed. To date none has developed any abnormalities due
    > to uranium chemical toxicity or radio toxicity, despite showing greatly increased levels of uranium in their urine. However, it is
    > generally accepted that more comprehensive studies on long-term health effects are needed.

    33 cases is not many. In statistics, 30 is generally the absolute minimum. When you are dealing with something that causes cancer, you generally look for thousands of cases and it generally involves decades. 14 years is not enough time to determine whether cancer will develop. That is why the article says “more comprehensive studies more comprehensive studies on long-term health effects are needed.” In Rokke’s opinion, no real tests have been by Army.

    > # United Nation’s Environment Programme (UNEP) studies in 2001 (Kosovo), 2002 (Serbia and Montenegro) and 2003 (Bosnia
    > and Herzegovina) – to which IAEA experts contributed – found it was highly unlikely that a reported increase in the risk of cancer
    > in the Balkan regions could be associated with the residues of DU munitions used there during the war in the mid-1990s. It found
    > the probability of significant exposure to local population was very low.

    Very little DU was dumped on the population in this part of the world. In comparison, Leuren Moret estimates that 1000 tons were fired or dropped on Afghanistan and 5000 tons were used in the current war in Iraq. After the first war in Iraq when 380 tons of DU were used, cancer rates jumped substancially. Now there could have been many causes for that cancer, but it hasn’t been investigated in Iraq.

    As for the Kuwait study, they haven’t published the results.

  141. There is a controversy around the legality of white phosphorous, although none about MK-77(modified napalm). Some people are arguing that white phosphorous fits the definition of a chemical weapon banned under the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention which the US did sign and ratify. It prohibits the use of a “toxic chemical” against human targets which is defined as “Any chemical which through its chemical action on life processes can cause death, temporary incapacitation or permanent harm to humans or animals.” http://www.opcw.org/ Others have argued that white phosphorus has thermal properties which burn by heating everything around it, rather than chemical properties which attack the body’s life systems, so it can only be classified as an incendiary weapon, rather than a chemical weapon. White Phosphorous isn’t one of the chemicals listed in the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention, but a chemical doesn’t have to be listed to be banned by the convention.

    Our allies are concerned about the use of MK-77 and white phosphorous because they fall under the other bans. The US signed but did not ratify the 1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons: Protocol III:Protocol on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Incendiary Weapons, which would make it illegal to use incendiary weapons against civilians or military targets within civilian populations. http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/policy/int/convention_conventional-wpns_prot-iii.htm The US military denied using Napalm to the British government who actually has some qualms about this stuff.

    Some people have also argued that white phosphorous and MK-77 fall under article 35 of the 4th Geneva Convention (1977) which says that the use and methods of use of “weapons of warfare are not unlimited.” Any weapon or use of weapon that causes “superfluous or unnecessary suffering” is outlawed. Again the US signed but didn’t ratify this convention, so it doesn’t apply to us, but does apply to our allies.

  142. >Good luck with whatever you become in the process.

    That is, in fact, my biggest problem with killing them all. They’ve defined themselves out of the class of beings I need feel any ethical concern about, but violence is dangerous to the integrity of the person who performs it too. I am keenly aware of this.

    Nevertheless, the deed has to be done. They must renounce violence or be killed, before they nuke a city. Because if it gets that far, things will get really ugly…

  143. things will get really ugly…

    Nice roundup of Iran and Nukes here.

    We have come to an interesting crossroads – will the West allow itself to be mutilated by a civilization that despises the tenets of reason and compassion using weapons that only the West has successfully invented and implemented as we try to adhere to a Marxist morality whose very tenets fly in the face of historical Western success?

  144. “Much of what we loosely call the Western world will not survive this century, and much of it will effectively disappear within our lifetimes, including many if not most Western European countries.” It’s the Demography, Stupid

    “Can these trends continue for another 30 years without having consequences? Europe by the end of this century will be a continent after the neutron bomb: The grand buildings will still be standing, but the people who built them will be gone. We are living through a remarkable period: the self-extinction of the races who, for good or ill, shaped the modern world.”

    If there was ever any doubt that the lunacy of the Left would eventually kill us all, there it is.

  145. Nice roundup of Iran and Nukes here.

    We have come to an interesting crossroads – will the West allow itself to be mutilated by a civilization that despises the tenets of reason and compassion using weapons that only the West has successfully invented and implemented as we try to adhere to a Marxist morality whose very tenets fly in the face of historical Western success?

    Yer roundup there does actually make the point that the Iranians probably wouldn’t be dumb enough to fire something at Israel or Europe on general principals, and do quite likely want nooks for the deterrent effect, as opposed to whatever you mean by “mutilating the West”. But where he goes from there on the What They’ll Do Next front is a direct download from the rectal database IMO. An Iran that felt more secure might well be *less* likely to dick around with supporting terror – but then hundreds of guys who’ve gained an intimate understanding of Islam from reading each others righty blogs would come back and say, no, we know how these guys *think*, you see, better than they do themselves in fact, there is an Islamic imperative to fuck the West Right Off, the only thing they understand is fuel-air explosive ‘liberally’ applied (with MOABs for those irritating hard-to-scratch areas, not ‘carpet bombing’ as someone suggested).

  146. Nevertheless, the deed has to be done. They must renounce violence or be killed, before they nuke a city. Because if it gets that far, things will get really ugly…

    Who, Al-Q? A memetic mycelium dispersed throughout Muslim and Western culture?

    Can’t see it happening myself. Course, my preference would be for annoying them less by interfering less in their countries, but that’s just “Munich! Munich!” territory, innit.

  147. The Iranians proabably aren’t dumb enough but the mullahs are.

    Civilized societies do leave each other alone, for the most part. Predatory societies may require a different approach. Here’s a link to graphic showing the 4,000+ predations of the Religion of Peace over the lasw few years:

    Bloody Borders

    Or are we just supposed to ignore this kind of thing?

  148. The Iranians proabably aren’t dumb enough but the mullahs are.

    Your intuitive grasp of what (and whether) they’re thinking is almost uncanny, as I said.

    Civilized societies do leave each other alone, for the most part. Predatory societies may require a different approach. Here’s a link to graphic showing the 4,000+ predations of the Religion of Peace over the lasw few years:

    Bloody Borders

    Or are we just supposed to ignore this kind of thing?

    For sure. we should invade ALL those places YESTERDAY. I mean, the fact that they see US as predatory is just LAUGHABLE, isn’t it? I mean, apart from the fact that we have bases in a bunch of their countries, are occupying two and eying some others – purely self-defence on our part, any fool ought to be able to see that, we’re just SUICIDALIST PUSSYCATS, lambs to the slaughter, I sometimes wonder why I even bother to get up in the morning, when I could be helping to strengthen the resolve of hundreds of other right-wing keyboard jockeys to do something…unspecified, but manly. Like support Bush maybe.

    This Baron person *really* needs to get someone to sponge his legs down.

    Fuggit. I’m going to bed.

  149. I sometimes wonder why I even bother to get up in the morning

    You’re probably right. It must take you the rest of the day to figure out which shoe to tie first. After all one foot is is a good as the other.

  150. >Your intuitive grasp of what (and whether) they’re thinking is almost uncanny, as I said.

    It’s not hard to grasp what they’re thinking, not when they’re running around screaming “Kill all the Jews!” and promising to nuke Israel.

  151. Your intuitive grasp of what (and whether) they’re thinking is almost uncanny, as I said.

    Democracies historically and politically are less aggressive than totalitarian regimes. You don’t need to be a mind reader or a seer.

    On the contrary, your devotion to totalitarianism and what you conceive to be “the line that they will never cross” is precious. It’s the typical leftist cant – “They’d never do that … ohhh they did it? …. you deserved it.”

  152. /* It’s the typical leftist cant – “They’d never do that … ohhh they did it? …. you deserved it.”
    */

    LOL. Same people saying “didn’t the Presidential Daily Brief say that bin Laden was determined to attack the US?” and “no, they don’t really want to attack the US.” Or “the Patriot Act changes our way of life, just like the terrorists want” and “we should do exactly as the terrorists want, and leave Iraq today.”

    I have such a hard time figuring this out.

  153. > Democracies historically and politically are less aggressive than totalitarian regimes

    I’d agree for the first half of the 20th century, but I don’t think it holds true in the second half. By my count, the US hasn’t been any less aggressive in its foreign policy than any totalitarian regime since 1950:

    US overthrows Chilean Democracy 1973.
    US overthrows Guatemalan democracy 1954. 200,000 die in 4 decades following.
    US covertly aids in a 2 day coup d’etat to replace Venezuelan democracy with military dictatorship 2002
    US covertly aids in the overthrow of Brazilian democracy in 1964 with a military dictatorship (this one is disputed, but highly likely)
    US invades to stop Dominican Republic from transitioning into democracy, and installs military dictator, 1964
    US makes deal with dictator of Indonesia to arm the invasion of East Timor. 1975
    US overthrows popular forces in Iran in 1953 and returns Shah to power
    US attempts to overthrow the democratically elected government of Nicaragua in the 1980s.
    US involved in civil war in El Salvador in 1980s.
    US special ops in Colombia, Equador, Bolivia, 1990′s – present.
    US fight wars in indochina, 1965-1975. 3.5 million die.
    US aids islamists to provoke Soviet invasion of Afganistan, 1979. 3 million die.
    US invades Afganistan, 2002.
    US invades Iraq, 2003.
    US invasion of Panama.
    US invasion of Grenada.
    US bombs Libya.
    US troops in Lebanon in early 1980s.
    US covertly sponsors the Bay of Pigs invasion in Cuba.
    US covertly aids in the overthow of democracy in Haiti, 2004. Might have been involved in the 1991 coup as well.
    US uses NED funds to try and swing elections in many countries including Nicaragua, Ukraine, Georgia, Venezuela, and Haiti.
    US has 800 foreign bases in 130 countries.

    Now you can compile your own list for totalitarian governments, but I don’t think that you can argue that totalitarian regimes have been more agressive since 1950.

  154. Certainly, you are kidding.

    Rather than respond in a list, I only have time to say that by any rational argument, every one of your items is irrefutably a defensive action, a neutral fact that doesn’t bespeak aggression, or absolute crap.

    Save the bandwidth, Amos. Use it for a cogent argument.

  155. Amos must be a Moveon.org acolyte. This schtick has been cut and paste so many times that the pixels are thin.

  156. The interesting part, Amos, is that nearly all of those examples (aside from, oh, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Grenada) were under Democratic Presidents, and most of those under Democratic Congresses as well.

    ESR, in a previous post, has suggested that, “Arguably the U.S. in fact did have an empire by this criterion until the 1950s, in parts of Central and South America and the Pacific” (http://esr.ibiblio.org/index.php?p=190 ). So, yes, the parts of your list that really did happen (for instance, I’m not convinced about the Brazil one), could arguably been American Imperialism. Then again, that’s only part of the story.

    For instance, much of the “support” the US gave to overthrow many of these governments involved the US simply *not* sending foreign aid to the corrupt leaders. Think Arafat. Now, yes, this weakened the leaders enough that they could be overthrown. But does the President have an obligation to call every foreign head of state and ask “what do you need this month?”

  157. 1980 – Ronald Reagan takes the White House. “Detente” is replaced by a policy of eliminating the Communist government in the USSR. Joe enters the US military shortly thereafter.
    1985 – Joe sees the intra-German border first hand. Joe also witnesses the suicidal German left’s parades “for peace.”
    1988 – Democrats loose the election, one characterized by an image of Dukakis playing soldier with an M1, a program the Democrats attempted to kill.
    1989 – The USSR falls. German “peace activists” are not the cause. Power tells.
    2000 – George Bush is elected. Large numbers of leftists are observed in the beginning stages of BDS.
    2004 – In spite of, or because of, a full on media assault Bush is re-elected. BDS enters new stages of rage. The left switches from the brazen aggressive attitude they’ve paraded since 1968 to full on depression that they are an endangered class. 100 years of lies come due.
    2006 – The left is reduced to being simple trolls in blog comments. The Internet has resulted in a shelf life of less than 24 hours for media “news.” The beginnings if “real-time Fisking ™” are seen.
    2008 – Having spent 8 years in the depths of BDS, the left finally discovers the 22nd amendment to the US Constitution. Panic then terror ensues within their ranks as they discover that 8 years spent on a program of being “anti-Bush” is wasted as Bush isn’t running. Anti-Americanism doesn’t poll well and the Democrats once again are found wanting at the polls. Terror is replaced by abject depression as the left contemplates the age of John Paul Stevens and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

    http://www.asklyrics.com/display/Timbuk_3/The_Future%60s_So_Bright_I_Gotta_Wear_Shades_Lyrics/78996.htm

  158. Democracies historically and politically are less aggressive than totalitarian regimes. You don’t need to be a mind reader or a seer.

    “The mullahs are TOO dumb enough to nuke [insert target of choice here]. I HAVE PROOF!”

    Get away with you.

    On the contrary, your devotion to totalitarianism and what you conceive to be “the line that they will never cross” is precious.

    I’m just agreeing with the opinion of the guy who wrote the link *you* posted. I reckon Iran could evolve out of totalitarianism if America and Israel don’t do something guaranteed to strengthen it. But no, you guys want to strut around in macho mode saying The Will Of The US Cannot Be Defied With Impunity (Oh, and thanks for giving India a free pass on the NPT – is there anything else you could do to weaken the legal case against Iran?).

    It’s the typical leftist cant – “They’d never do that … ohhh they did it? …. you deserved it.”

    Can you provide any examples of such leftist predictions? Preferably before and after by the *same person*?

    You’re probably right. It must take you the rest of the day to figure out which shoe to tie first. After all one foot is is a good as the other.

    This is the level of political insult we’re reduced to by having a Bush in the White House. Say what you will, at least Hitler wrote his own speeches.

    It’s not hard to grasp what they’re thinking, not when they’re running around screaming “Kill all the Jews!” and promising to nuke Israel.

    That guy is doing political theatre, not running the show. You know this, but it suits your agenda to pretend he is.

  159. “Say what you will, at least Hitler wrote his own speeches.”

    I hereby invoke Godwin’s law.

  160. Mein Gott! Adrian is even more incomprehensible than Amos.

    GWB made me talk about shoes.

  161. > The interesting part, Amos, is that nearly all of those examples (aside from, oh, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Grenada)
    > were under Democratic Presidents, and most of those under Democratic Congresses as well.

    Max, aside from the Carter administration, I would say that you are right to a large degree. Kennedy and Johnson weren’t that different from Nixon. I don’t think there was a substancial difference between the degree of aggression between the Democratic and Republican administrations between 1941-1974. There was a substantial difference between Carter and Reagan. For instance, Carter tried to urge the Sandinistas away from radical reforms, but Reagan funded the Contras. Bush I and Clinton were actually very similar in many of their techniques–use of soft power with the threat of IMF coercion and UN diplomacy, but willing to use military force on occasion. I actually credit Bush I for ending the Salvador civil war, because he saw that it was bad for his free trade plans. Nadar and Chomsky argued that the Republicans and Democrats have the same foreign policy. Bush II and Reagan, however, have been substancially different from the Democrats. I think the major difference is that the Democrats have had a peace fringe of the Eugene McCarthy/Dean stripe and the Republican have had a aggressive war element of the Goldwater/Reagan type, but the centers of both parties have often agreed on foreign policy. Its for that reason that I follow the Molly Ivins strategy and only vote Democrat when the race is close, otherwise I vote Green in protest to let them know that candidates backed by the Democratic Leadership Council aren’t acceptable to the party base.

  162. > For instance, much of the “support” the US gave to overthrow many of these governments involved the US simply *not* sending
    > foreign aid to the corrupt leaders. Think Arafat. Now, yes, this weakened the leaders enough that they could be overthrown. But does
    > the President have an obligation to call every foreign head of state and ask “what do you need this month?”

    This is the way it is often presented in the press. Publically, the US is simply withdrawing support from a “corrupt” government and refusing them aid packages. But if you look behind the scenes, the US was actively working to topple these governments. For instance in the case of the 2004 coup in Haiti, the US wasn’t publically doing anything except blocking $440 million in IMF loans and issuing state department denouncements of Aristide. Behind the scenes, however, the International Republican Institute was using NED funds to train anti-Aristide forces in the Dominican Republic from 2001-2004 so they would overthrow Aristide. Similarly in Venezuela in 2002. Publically, the US had no part in the coup aside form withdrawing all US aid and issuing pronouncements against Chavez, but phone records show that the US ambassador in Venezuela was plotting with the leaders of the coup attempt and the day of the coup, every American state denounced the coup, except the US which came out in support of the coup. Now look at what is happening in Bolivia today. Evo Morales was just elected with 54% of the vote and already the US state department is trying to undermine his presidency. Morales just accused the US of trying to blackmail him.

    The only cases on the list where the US hasn’t been shown to have been actively involved are the 1964 Brazilian coup and the 1991 Haitian coup, but I think once the records are declassified it will be shown that we were involved. In both cases, the US had strong reasons for wanting to overthrow the democratically elected government and replace it with a military dictatorship and issued public statements denouncing the governments. The democratically elected president of Brazil wouldn’t give the US the right to mine its uranium fields in the Amazon, but the dictatorship immediately gave the US the contract and immediately started receiving aid from the US.

    There were some cases when US policies did lead inadvertantly to democracies being overthrown. For instance, the US undermined the MNR party in Bolivia in the 1960s by pressuring it to back away from its reform policies. In the end, people no longer supported the MNR because it was no longer carrying out their agenda and were unwilling to take to the streets to defend it against a military coup. Lucio Gutierrez just fell from power in Equador for a similar reason. He ran on a platform to resist IMF reforms and neoliberalism. The US pressured him, and he reversed his policies once he got into office. In anger at being doublecrossed, indigenous groups took to the streets and overthrew him because they felt he had betrayed the platform that he ran under.

    The only time (that I can think of) that governments fell because we simply withdrew aid was during Carter’s presidency. And it was dictatorships which fell, not democracies. The Carter withdrew aid to many of the dictatorships that we had been propping up because he decided that the US should not support any regime that committed human rights abuses. The Reaganites were openly contemptous of this policy and claimed that the Sandinistas in Nicaragua were the result of a policy based upon human rights.

  163. I hereby invoke Godwin’s law.

    Yeah, “Islamofascism” has that effect on me, as well.

    GWB made me talk about shoes.

    Don’t even get me started on the literal-mindedness thing.

  164. > Think Arafat. Now, yes, this weakened the leaders enough that they could be overthrown. But does
    > the President have an obligation to call every foreign head of state and ask “what do you need this month?”

    Arafat is a very interesting case. He was allowed back into Palestine and allowed to become the

  165. > Think Arafat. Now, yes, this weakened the leaders enough that they could be overthrown. But does
    > the President have an obligation to call every foreign head of state and ask “what do you need this month?”

    Arafat is a very interesting case. He was allowed back into Palestine and allowed to take up power because the local Palestinians were making even more radical demands that the UN resolutions actually be enforced. Arafat basically made a deal with Israel, agreeing to recognize its right to existance and showing that he was willing to play ball, unlike some sectors of the Palestinians. So they let Arafat back in, but deliberately tried to keep him as weak as possible. Arafat did prove corrupt. But his ineffectualness as a leader was not the corruption, but his inability to improve the lives of the average Palestinian because Palestine was so strangled economically. We always present Arafat as the one walking away from the bargaining table, but looking at the deals he was offered, no Palestinian leader could have accepted them and retained the support of the Palestinian population. Look at the maps of the proposed deal that Clinton was offering and you will see that it simply wasn’t a viable state. Under the plan, people weren’t free to move from place to place inside the West Bank because they would have to cross roads to settlements controlled by the Israelis. It would have been a bunch of isolated cantons rather than a real state. Moreover, Israel would have retained the right to close all their borders at anytime, so they could cut off their income and economically strangle the state. No leader in his right mind would have accepted it, especially since the land was taken illegally in the first place under international law.

    In many ways the recent election of Hamas is the result of Israel refusing to make a reasonable offer at the negotiating table and continuing to build settlements, and continuing its military incursions. In the American press, the Palestinians are always shown as initiating the violence, but most of the world sees Israel as needlessly provoking the violence with their aggression. Certainly the Israelis have killed many more Palestinians than the reverse and the Israelis are continuing to take Palestinian land. The American press protrayed the Gaza strip deal as Israel being generous to the Palestinians, but it really was Israel waking up to its population dilemma that the Jews will one day be the minority in their own state. They decided that they had to shed the unwanted people to forestall this from happening, so they decided to withdraw from Gaza, but still retain control over it, so they could strangle it anytime that they wanted by closing the borders.

    Because Fatah was unable to secure an improvements for the Palestinians, many have dispaired of negotiation and turned to radical groups like Hamas. Fatah created the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade because it say that it was loosing the support of the people on the street to Hamas and similar groups.

    The Irony is that the Israelis have created their own dilemma. They undermined Fatah by refusing to make a reasonable deal. Their attacks have only encouraged support for Hamas. Israel has done everything to cause the Palestinians to conclude that large families are the key to survival and security. Statistically, staying in school or having careers outside the home are linked to small family size. Economic and political instability have also been shown to cause people to have larger families. Lack of a social safety net, lack of adequate medical care, and lack of a retirement program like social security to support people in their old age are also linked to large families. Now part of the reason that Palestinians have large families is cultural, but there is a reason why Palestinian population growth is so much higher than in other muslim areas. The reason is that Isreal has done everything to discourage the education and employment of Palestinians, including Palestinian women and Israel has made personal survival so precarious for the average Palestinian couple, that they feel that there is more security in having more children to ensure that some survive and can take care of them in their old age.

    The best thing Israel could do to ensure its survival as a Zionist state is to give the Palestinians their own viable state which is economically strong so that as many Palestinians as possible will want to move out of Israel to the new Palestine. In its present state, many Palestinians don’t want to move to the West Bank or Gaza because there is no employment. If Israelis can’t give up on the idea of a greater Isreal, then they should give the Palestinians universal health care, social security, unlimited access to education, and integration into their economy rather than trying to shut them out. These steps would eventually slow down the population growth, but Israel would have to acknowledge itself as a multi-ethnic state to do these things which is contrary to the ideals of Zionism. The longer Israel waits and the more they try to strangle the West Bank, the worse the problem will grow. The Jews of Israel are causing the eventual destruction of the Zionist dream by pursuing their present course. Once they are a minority in their own country, they will either have to become like South Africa in the 1980s or seek reconciliation with the majority like South Africa in the 1990s. Both coursed will undermine the Zionist dream.

  166. Yeah, “Islamofascism” has that effect on me, as well.

    This just speaks volumes, adrian10. Out.

  167. This just speaks volumes, adrian10.

    Does it really. Which ones? But, alas…

    Out.

    Well, if you can’t answer my points, fair enough.

  168. /* [me]: under Democratic Presidents, and most of those under Democratic Congresses as well.

    [Amos]: aside from the Carter administration, I would say that you are right to a large degree. Kennedy and Johnson weren’t that different from Nixon.
    */

    After posting that, I realized that it was a red herring, as you weren’t arguing that Republicans are evil and Democrats great, but that US foreign policy looks different from outside the country.

    Tying your recent comments to the topic of the original post (and after 150 comments, it is surprising that we can even get back to the original post), I’ll take another stab and suggest that (1) you believe American Imperialism already exists, (2) that’s a bad thing, and (3) it’s not sustainable.

    I’ll agree that the US does throw its weight around, but I’m not convinced we’re an empire. I also don’t believe that we magically have the correct foreign policy, but I haven’t yet seen a policy that seems reasonable and viable. And, to the extent that throwing our weight around is not sustainable, I expect realities to make us change that policy.

    I’m too young to remember Carter’s Presidency. Truth be told, I’m too young to remember much of Reagan’s Presidency. And since my father is as Republican as they come, and since I currently live in the South where many people seem ready to declare Carter a Saint (even before he dies), I decided to take a look at his biography to see if, perhaps, Carter got a bum rap historically.

    And page after page of that biography made it clear that Carter was elected because he wasn’t tied to Nixon, but that he didn’t realize this. Carter thought he was elected because of his policies to be kind and gentle on the world stage. So when OPEC decided to begin its embargo, Carter decided to preemptively roll over, on national TV, in a cardigan. That kind of policy led to Carter being a famous single term President.

    The country doesn’t believe that nice guys have to finish last. No, we don’t want to bully everyone into our way of thinking, but we also feel that it’s pointless to cave into the demands of people trying to bully us.

  169. “So when OPEC decided to begin its embargo, Carter decided to preemptively roll over, on national TV, in a cardigan. That kind of policy led to Carter being a famous single term President.”

    Going to Mexico and when the Mexican hosts start berating you like a simple school child you mention that the water doesn’t agree with you and you have the shits.

    Signing a “arms control treaty” in Vienna with Leonid Brezhnev and receiving a nice wet smack on the cheek from him. Such a nice man. The USSR invaded Afghanistan shortly thereafter.

    Cutting the military to the bone for “peace.” How deep the cuts went showed up in glaring color at Desert One.

    I am old enough to remember Jimmy. I even remember when he was attacked by the vicous rabbit:
    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/4/4a/Jimmy_Carter_and_Killer_Rabbit.jpg

    What a cad. No, it wasn’t OPEC that was the downfall of Carter. Jimmy sank himself by being a naive man in a position that demands a backbone.

    I don’t think Carter is a bad man. He was very naive. A very bad president.

  170. > Tying your recent comments to the topic of the original post (and after 150 comments, it is surprising that we can even get back to
    > the original post), I’ll take another stab and suggest that (1) you believe American Imperialism already exists, (2) that’s a bad thing,
    > and (3) it’s not sustainable.

    There are many forms of empire,so I guess the question is what type of empire are you talking about. Empire is traditionally used in the sense of controlling lands outside your people’s territory. This idea had been largely discredited during the course of the 20th century. The Europeans found that this form of empire was very expensive, especially when people are actively resisting. Colonialism generally paid for itself before 1880, but afterwards it generally cost more than it returned to the home countries. It was a case of distributed costs and concentrated benefits. People like Cecil Rhodes made a lot of money from colonialism in Africa, but the average British citizen paid more in taxes to maintain colonial administration and military forces. Nationalist ideas in the late 1800s encouraged colonialism and so did certain business lobbies. By the middle of the 20th century, colonialism was getting more expensive due to resistance whether it be violent as in the case of Algeria, or non-violent non-cooperation as in the case of India. Furthermore more people in Europe had come to believe that imperialism was directly contrary to the tenets of freedom and democracy, especially after fighting WW II.

    In the 1980s and 1990s, a new form of imperialism came to the fore. It wasn’t about controlling lands and people, it was about controlling markets and economies, but leaving the rest in the hands of local democracies. This gives all the economic benefits of imperialism without any of the administrative and military costs of controlling local populations. The British pioneered this form of imperialism in the 1820s with Latin American economies when they first gained Independence from Spain. British controlled the seas, so they could prevent Spain from reconquering its colonies, Because Britian had the best shipping and the best manufacturing base at the time, they rapidly became the manufacturer and banker for all of Latin America.

    Under the banner of “free trade” or neoliberalism as it is termed in the rest of the world, many 3rd World countries today are being pressured to restructure their economies to the benefit of transnational corporations and international investors. The US (and Europe to a lesser degree) has leaned on a lot of countries to carry out IMF “structural readjustment” which removed restrictions on capital flows, encouraged international investment, removed tarriffs, privatized public utilities and natural resources, slashed social services and cut programs which were generally designed to help the poor. Generally these policies have benefitted the wealthier sectors both here in the US and in the 3rd World, but have harmed the poorer majority. If you want a description of how the US was involved in making this happen, read John Perkins’ _Confessions of an Economic Hitman_. Perkin’s was a US businessman who was involved in the pressuring of 3rd World leaders. I study Latin America so I can comment on that region of the world. It is common knowledge in Latin America, that if you don’t do what America tells you, bad things tend to happen to presidents. You get on planes and they mysteriously crash as happened to Torrijos in Panama. We train many of Latin America’s top soldiers and provide most of the militaries with arms, so the military leaders generally support us and will often clash with the elected presidents when they try to go against our will. More importantly, we control the IMF, USAID, and World Bank funds which keep many of these country’s economies afloat. If a Latin American leader tries to challenge the structural readjustment, we threaten to withhold the next loan and the IMF issues dire reports. All the capital flees the country and the economy collapses. These are not idle threats even leftist presidents like Lula in Brazil today rapidly learn that you can’t buck the US unless you are willing to destoy your economy. These policies benefit transnational companies tremendously, but they have also served to create a lot of political unrest and anger toward the US. If you go to a country like Peru, Bolivia, or Brazil, people talk about how their democracies are being subverted by the IMF, World Bank, and WTO and the generally blame the US as being behind it, although many blame Europe as well. I would call this a form of economic imperialism, although it is not absolute. In recent years, Venezuela and Argentina have directly challenged it and gotten away with it. Much of South America is voting for leftist parties today in protest against it. It is important to realize that wealthier sectors in 3rd World countries generally benefit from these policies, so it isn’t just outside forces imposing structural readjustment.

    The neocons, however, are urging another form of imperialism. Whereas the economic imperialism of neoliberalism was very subtle and multilateral and worked through international organs like the IMF, World Bank and WTO, the Project for a New American Century, which is the neocon blueprint for empire favors the unilateral use of American force to secure US interests. They are not opposed to invading countries and trying to directly control populations so they can transform them to the American model. Like the imperialism of the early 20th century, this will prove very costly. The end goal isn’t to directly rule the people, but to set up loyal client regimes and American bases in their countries and made sure that their economies serve US interests.

    People in these countries will probably resist and it will generate a great deal of hatred. Since I study people in Bolivia, I can tell you how angry people become when a US company comes in and takes control of their water and doubles their water rates. People shut down the major highways and start throwing rocks and burning tires.

    Nobody in the world likes to be pushed around, especially by rich and arrogant people from another country who don’t respect your rights or your culture. If we persist in pursuing these various forms of empire, people will resist more and more and often they will turn to extremist and radical groups who are most committed to resistance. Look at what is happening in Pakistan, a country which traditionally had a democracy. We are helping to prop up Musharif as military dictator because he is our “ally” in the war on terrorism. Because Musharif has suppressed the traditional moderate parties, now the islamic fundamentalist groups are growing in strength and gaining legitimacy in people’s eyes. We like Musharif because It is easier to make deals with a dictator, but ultimately these sort of policies will backfire on us.

    Ultimately it isn’t in our long-term self-interest to try and rearrange the world so it serves our interests economically in the present. If we push IMF structural readjustment, we will increase population growth, environmental degradation, and increase the number of foreignors who want to immigrate to the US for work. Ultimately we can convert people to our way of thinking much better by dealing reasonably with them, rather than trying to force them. Democracy works best when people create it for themselves without coercion. Now we may not like the democracy in Iran or Lebanon, but the reality is that the two best functioning democracies in the MiddleEast (apart from Israel) were created outside our influence. Today Iran would probably our ally, if we hadn’t decided back in 1953 to overthrow the popular forces and reinstate the Shah. It may have been in our business interest, but in the long run it created a needless enemy. I’m afraid that in the long run we have created a similar enemy in Iraq. Giving people an external enemy is a great platform to rally people who are already nationalistic. Imperialism will backfire on us. Today we may control 22% of the world’s economy and have bases in 130 countries, but it won’t last forever. Imperialism is risky. Piss countries off and they might decide to switch to the Euro or stop buying treasure notes and stop propping up the US dollar. We are already at the mercy of China and Japan who hold enough of our debt that they could sink the US economy. We are needlessly provoking China right now with imperial arrogance by urging Japan to build a military to compete with China, and by giving India nuclear technology which gives China the jitters and by pushing Taiwanese independence. Imperial hubris is incredibly short sighted and counter-productive. It also risks provoking a crisis which could bring down the US.

  171. So when OPEC decided to begin its embargo, Carter decided to preemptively roll over, on national TV, in a cardigan. That kind of policy led to Carter being a famous single term President.

    What should he have done, exactly, or what would Ford have done in his place? Invade OPEC? I always thought it was the hostage situation that did for him. The cardigan may not have helped.

  172. /* [Amos] If a Latin American leader tries to challenge the structural readjustment, we threaten to withhold the next loan and the IMF issues dire reports. All the capital flees the country and the economy collapses.
    */

    Given that the US is the source of most of the IMF’s funding, I don’t see the problem. Maybe if the country really were blindsided, but today it’s well known that the IMF works this way, has worked this way for two decades, and that just about every South American country (aside from Chile) still comes a knocking. Including Argentina, that decided to skip a couple payments back to the IMF a few years ago. This is the same kind of strongarming you see with people having trouble making their mortgage payment. The bank doesn’t send armed guard to their house; they just let other lenders know that your a credit risk. Of course eviction on a country-wide scale is a collapsing economy.

    I like talking about South America, as I keep an eye out to things happening there. I realize that most of these countries got their loans several years ago, under previous administrations. I also realize that they have the legal ability to skip repayments, like Argentina did, if they are willing to suffer the consequences, like Argentina did. It’s not a great system, but I would argue that it’s better than no system at all.

    However, every time I hear about South American countries asking for a loan, I always wonder if the mafia’s terms were worse than what the IMF offered.

    Anyhow, I don’t like the IMF either.

    /* These are not idle threats even leftist presidents like Lula in Brazil today rapidly learn that you can’t buck the US unless you are willing to destoy your economy.
    */

    That stands to reason, given that the US is their largest customer.

    /* These policies benefit transnational companies tremendously,
    */

    Not only that, but they give these countries a non-military, non-embargo way to resolve disputes at the WTO.

    /* If you go to a country like Peru, Bolivia, or Brazil, people talk about how their democracies are being subverted by the IMF, World Bank, and WTO and the generally blame the US as being behind it,
    */

    That’s true. But it’s also true that those same people still want to come to the US.

    I was in Brazil when FHC was president, and I bought his incredibly boring (although informative) book “Dependency and Development in Latin America.” Much of South America is just getting off of the socialist system. Brazil is a prime example. Once upon a time, the government was the only entity able to provide services (such as banking or phone service). As president, FHC privatized many of those companies because they almost always were money losers. Of course, as soon as one of these companies is privatized, its prices have to rise to reflect its true costs (until old infrastructure is replaced, when costs go back down), so many Brazilians thought that this was a prime example of the Brazilian government working with the US government behind the scenes. Never mind that Telebras (the phone company) was sold to Madagascar, and that many companies remained Brazilian after privatization. They were sure something fishy was going on.

    Thing is, it’s entirely possible that FHC just wanted to get the government into the business of governing, and have businesspeople run the businesses.

    /* [T]he Project for a New American Century, which is the neocon blueprint for empire favors the unilateral use of American force to secure US interests. … The end goal isn’t to directly rule the people, but to set up loyal client regimes and American bases in their countries and made sure that their economies serve US interests.
    */

    Given enough time, I’m sure I could make anything sound bad. Likewise, I think I could make this sound good. Then again, I don’t see anything wrong with using US force to secure US interests. In fact, even John Kerry promised that he could be dragged into unilateral action under certain circumstances.

    As I said in a previous post, to the extent that this is not sustainable, it won’t be sustained.

  173. /* [me] So when OPEC decided to begin its embargo, Carter decided to preemptively roll over, on national TV, in a cardigan. That kind of policy led to Carter being a famous single term President.

    [adrian10] What should he have done, exactly, or what would Ford have done in his place? Invade OPEC?
    */

    I have no idea what Ford would have done in his place. In fact, what Carter did would have probably been just fine if his audience was made up how he thought it was. My point is that America wasn’t as liberal, or as willing to play well with others as Carter believed. Carter thought it was terrible that the US owned Panama because of some fraud in the ’20s. The US thought that was bad, but that it was our Canal, and there was no reason to give it back.

    So the US appears to have taken that appearance (and many others, thanks Joe!) as Carter basically saying “OPEC has us by the gnads. If you take small breaths it’s actually not so bad.” He would have gone farther by at least trying to rally the troops: “OPEC has decided to flex its muscle. Well, the US has seen this sort before. And we’ll see them again. They aren’t going to get very far. However, the fact that OPEC even has any muscle is a problem that we can solve, so this will never happen again. I am asking Congress to find ways to encourage fuel saving and energy saving techniques, … etc.”

    Think, quickly, to President Bush on September 12. He couldn’t promise that nobody would ever try to fly airplanes into skyscrapers again. He didn’t even try. He also didn’t say “I’m asking Congress to outlaw any skyscrapers in the future, and I ask all Americans to stay away from tall buildings until we think of something.” Instead he was able to rally the troops (to the order of something like 80% approval) by promising that this, too, would pass.

    Also, think about Bush after Katrina or during the ports fiasco. In both of those cases his audience was very different from who he imagined, and his public addresses really only confirmed to his audience that he was tone deaf.

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