Re: Samantha Power Joins Yglesias Fan Club

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Ms. Power is fine, but I'm waiting for Ms. Slaughter's verdict. If Power and Slaughter agree, Matt will have arrived.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 7:20 AM
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Powers and Slaughter are both dicks.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 7:32 AM
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I read 1 to imply 2.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 8:00 AM
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Or 2 to be implicit in 1. I'm not sure the best way to say that.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 8:01 AM
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Like it or not, there's no geopolitics without Power and Slaughter.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 8:36 AM
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Their names were well-chosen, I'll give them that.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 8:37 AM
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And, meanwhile, the world is going to hell. The Pakistanis are trying to impeach Musharraf, and Russian weaponry is on the move into Southern Ossetia.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 8:41 AM
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I initially misread 7 as "Southern Ontario", and was definitely worried.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 8:42 AM
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SP + NYRB = MY $

But which bloggers will be working in the Obama administration?


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 8:47 AM
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And why doesn't HITS have the Amazon link?

I will need buchu rich famous influential friends when the letters reach their destinations.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 8:49 AM
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There's a Powell's link in my original review, which is linked. So two clicks. I was running out the door to make it to court and didn't have time to put the link in again.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 8:53 AM
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Oh sure, LB, make bob feel bad.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 9:05 AM
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I am responsible for my feelings, tweety.

I should read the review, so I would know how to apply the Yggles Doctrine to Outer Sothessia.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 9:10 AM
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As I understand (per B) the Russians can have Southern Ontario.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 9:19 AM
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Ossetia is the last refuge of the once-feared Scythians and Alans.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 9:20 AM
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14: This is just something B is deeply wrong about, but we love her anyway.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 9:21 AM
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Man face, deep voice, the deeply compassionate eyes of somebody with no kids.


Posted by: bjk | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 9:28 AM
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Power Pic


Posted by: bjk | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 9:33 AM
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I admit, she has fascinating looks.

better pic


Posted by: bjk | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 9:35 AM
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The Yglesias Doctrine, as far as I can tell, is that American foreign policy was more or less hunky-dory before Bush II, and that we just need to get back to the tried and true liberal internationalism of Gulf War I and Kosovo. I've gone on at length before about how I think this is both an incredibly facile and shallow analysis and one that's very well represented in the liberal mainstream, one that essentially ignores the costs and consequences of foreign wars and ultimately grades wars as "good" or "bad" by how many American soldiers got killed.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 9:43 AM
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As far as I can tell the book is more about American politics and electoral dynamics than foreign policy. It sketches out a vision of American foreign policy, but it's not the focus of the book.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 10:09 AM
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The Yglesias Doctrine, as far as I can tell, is that American foreign policy was more or less hunky-dory before Bush II, and that we just need to get back to the tried and true liberal internationalism of Gulf War I and Kosovo.

I'll admit that I haven't read Yiggles' book, but if I had to summarize his doctrine, it would be unrecognizably different from what stras concludes. I'd say it goes something like:

1. International institutions that promote cooperation and restrain unilateral action are a good thing, both for America and for the world, and for both utilitarian and moral reasons.

2. The perceived legitimacy of U.S. actions abroad (both military and non-military) is not just a nice-to-have; it is the sine qua non of a stable international order, which, as previously stated, ultimately benefits the U.S. even when it has apparent short-term costs.

3. Legitimacy can be derived through a variety of means, the consensus of the UN Security Council being only one of them. There is a rare class of cases, call them "selfless, low-cost" interventions that are likely to be widely seen as legitimate with or without a Security Council resolution. In general, the following features are likely to militate against legitimacy: 1. transparent ulterior motives on the part of the U.S.; 2. risk of large-scale loss of civilian life; 3. heavy opposition in the public opinion in other democracies; 4. failure to coordinate the intervention with other countries or international institutions that are needed to mitigate the effects of conflict and smooth the transition to recovery.

4. Military intervention almost always brings fewer benefits and more costs than its advocates expect or let on that they expect. We should look with extreme skepticism on any proposal for military intervention, especially if one or more of the negative criteria in (3) is present. Corrolary: there should always be a bias toward diplomacy and negotiation, which should be conducted in good faith. "Diplomacy backed by the threat of force" is a misguided construct that ought to be rejected.

5. Treating military rivalry as inevitable is foolish and shortsighted, but unfortunately there are any number of foolish and short-sighted (or self-interested) people who will argue otherwise. We must view their claims skeptically.

6. Like every other country, the U.S. has a legitimate right to use military force to defend itself from attack. However, when considering using this form of legitimation, we must consider that (1) the U.S. is not really threatened by anybody at this point; and (2) the rest of the world, whose respect and cooperation we genuinely need, is likely to take a much narrower view of what constitutes legitimate self-defense than the U.S. itself, and their perspective should be given adequate weight.

Maybe Sausagely would take issue with one or more of my formulations, but I see him as a pretty sensible post-Cold War, non-Vietnam-scarred liberal internationalist.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 10:18 AM
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I am in southern Ontario right now, and like it just fine.

The question is whether Russian occupation will improve it. B's main complaint was that Guelph lacks things like nice restaurants. I'm not sure the Russians can help with that.

The student center at Guelph U has a bar that serves alcohol. This is not something you see at US universities.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 10:18 AM
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The student center at Guelph U has a bar that serves alcohol. This is not something you see at US universities.

Not true! Both of the 4 year residential universities I attended for a meaningful length of time had an establishment that served alcohol in the student center. One had two, one for each of its student centers.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 10:20 AM
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20: I've noticed that there's often a glass-half-full vs half-empty quality to the arguments I have here with stras and some others.

I could, maybe, be sympathetic to the idea that Powers is "a dick," but by this I mean: I could be sympathetic to the idea that Power is better than 90% of the people involved in running U.S. foreign policy today, and better than probably 75% of the prominent public thinkers on the topic.

When the choice is dickism vs. criminal insanity, I tend to be - purely as a matter of emphasis - much more interested in the upside of that tradeoff than the downside. We (and the world) will be very lucky if we can put people as humane and intelligent as Power in positions of influence again.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 10:27 AM
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22: This is why bloggers can't sell books - why buy the cow when they give away the milk for free?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 10:28 AM
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26: Maybe if he wrote a book about buttsex?


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 10:37 AM
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Isn't the fundamental problem that the Iraq War simply *does* fall into the same conceptual strand of "neoliberal"/keep the peace intervention as Kosovo or a putative Darfur intervention?

The search for a single disqualifying factor will not discover one -- it's all shades of gray about degree of current humanitarian need, potential for future damage to the international order, international sanction, and (crucially) ability to pull it off. Of all of these, international sanction seems the weakest reed. What stood between the Iraq war and security council approval was, simply, Russia and France. If they had been bought off (not, I dare say, implausible) all the same disasters would have occurred. UN endorsement may have partially shielded US reputation during the catastrophic years 2004-2006, but would hardly have prevented that catastrophe. Perhaps we can think of some scenario where international support would have greatly increased odds of success, but this seems implausible.

The people with principled objections to the Iraq War, were, in fact, the Left and the old Right. Everyone else -- neoliberals, neocons, 'realists' -- was operating in a world of prudential deliberation.


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 10:39 AM
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This is not something you see at US universities.

The student union at URI had a pub and a bowling alley when I was a kid, making it the most awesome place ever. Sadly they were both gone by the time I attended. Brown has the GCB, which might as well be for undergrads, given the numbers they show up in it (or did in my experience.)


Posted by: JL | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 10:39 AM
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Isn't the fundamental problem that the Iraq War simply *does* fall into the same conceptual strand of "neoliberal"/keep the peace intervention as Kosovo or a putative Darfur intervention?

I don't think so. We got sign-off by the relevant important powers before Kosovo, and (though I don't think we should go in) the idea is that there is an ongoing calamity in Darfur that could be interrupted. I'm not sure that there's a requirement to stand the state up after that.

Needless to say, I think you're underrating "international support," and being perhaps too formal as regards "international sanction."


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 10:45 AM
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I'm also not sure you're accurately describing the field on which those psychotic neocons play. Don't they largely define themselves in opposition to the realists? I mean, if you're willing to go far enough out, everyone has prudential limits.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 10:47 AM
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23/24: UCI, U Chicago, and Stanford all have studentcenterish facilities that serve alcohol. Chicago's pub in Ida Noyes has a very good beer selection.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 10:52 AM
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28: Hold the presses! I agree with baa.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 10:54 AM
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And thus do I refute you, baa.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 10:57 AM
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I think people might be surprised at how wrong 9.1 is. Now, if Yglesias can get Oprah to talk about his book...


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 10:58 AM
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The people with principled objections to the Iraq War, were, in fact, the Left and the old Right.

I find it a little unsettling how often I agree with Pat Buchanan on foreign policy.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 10:58 AM
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33: I'm remembering some book that mentioned the organization "Christians and Atheists United To Stamp Out Creeping Agnosticism." Founded by Cardinal Cook and Madelyn Murray O'Hare.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 10:59 AM
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I agree more international support is better. But I think it ends up as one element among many in a web of prudential considerations.


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 11:00 AM
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I agree more international support is better. But I think it ends up as one element among many in a web of prudential considerations.


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 11:00 AM
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22: And KR, I don't think the points you outline in 22 are incompatible with my take in 20. Yglesias has said many, many times before that America doesn't need to make a radical shift in its foreign policy, but that it just needs to return to plain old liberal internationalism - and I think he'd more or less accept what you outline as describing "liberal internationalism." The problem is that definition still allows for disasters like the Gulf War and Kosovo, which Yglesias is still fine with. And given that the Gulf War set off a chain of events that led inexorably to the Iraq War, while killing hundreds of thousands of Iraqis via sanctions in the process, all under the imprimatur of internationalism, I don't see a bright line distinction between Yglesias's liberal internationalism and the invasion of Iraq. All of which is to say that the Yglesias model isn't going to prevent more pointless wars; it's not even going to prevent wars as obviously pointless as Iraq.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 11:02 AM
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28: baa makes a valid point, but I would argue that the consequences of the invasions would not have been nearly as tragic if the legitimation had been unassailable from the get-go.

Imagine an alternative universe where an international coalition (i.e. a real one, not the Coalition of the Bribed), with the full and vocal support of the UN Security Council, had invaded Iraq in 2003 to enforce the UN resolutions.

When it became apparent that Saddam was not hiding any nuclear weapons facilities or stockpiles of biological weapons, there would have been an embarrassed "my bad", and the foreigners would have left. Perhaps Saddam would have been fatally undermined, perhaps the U.S. would have engineered his overthrow and replacement by some other strongman, perhaps he would have remained in power, more paranoid than ever.

Whatever the outcome, we wouldn't have had an endless occupation, thousands of US dead, ethnic cleansing, and a massive refugee crisis. Arguably, Iraqis might have even been better off, since the documented end of the WMD programs might have led to some relaxation of sanctions.

But that couldn't happen, because the Bush administration, embarassed by the bankruptcy of its "slam dunk" case for war, had to fall back on the democracy promotion agenda as a fallback for legitimation.

And this hypothetical is pretty far-fetched anyway, because there would not have been an internationally legitimized invasion on the basis of WMD given the evidence on hand at the time. The burden of proof for the rest of the world was a lot higher--correctly, as it turns out.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 11:02 AM
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40: Interested in why you classify Kosovo as a "disaster".


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 11:03 AM
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The problem is that definition still allows for disasters like the Gulf War and Kosovo, which Yglesias is still fine with.

I'm not sure that's right. Isn't Yglesias uncomfortable with both for the precise reason that he thinks they can lead to the Iraq invasion?


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 11:05 AM
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Interested in why you classify Kosovo as a "disaster".

The criminal slaughter of thousands of civilians by NATO forces.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 11:06 AM
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One of the crucial but hard-to-prove-things about the present Iraq War is that a very high proportion of the key proponents, advocates, and defenders (in government, the media, and the electorate generally) were somewhat or completely aware that the stated reasons for the war were fraudulent, but supported the war for other reasons. Many of them have changed their minds, but only because they had expected an easy victory. Dick Cheney still hasn't changed his mind; for him, 5-10 years is OK and 4,000+ dead Americans is the cost of doing business.

Much less dead Iraqis.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 11:06 AM
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The student center at Guelph U has a bar that serves alcohol. This is not something you see at US universities.

The Bear's Lair says hi.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 11:08 AM
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The criminal slaughter of thousands of civilians by NATO forces.

Including the use depleted uranium shells that, as far as I know, were never cleaned up.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 11:10 AM
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hard-to-prove-things

No, not really. It's making people really care about the implications of this easy-to-prove fact that seems rather more difficult than I would have expected. Really, I still can't fathom the lack of outrage, the lack of widespread civil disobedience or open insurrection, over the revelations about the run-up to the Iraq War. Put another way, I truly can't understand how George W. Bush is still POTUS. Well, I can understand it, but my explanation makes me feel sad and lonely. Except when I'm here with you people.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 11:12 AM
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Isn't Yglesias uncomfortable with both for the precise reason that he thinks they can lead to the Iraq invasion?

I've never seen Yglesias address the issue of the Gulf War leading to the Iraq War, even when expressly called on it during a TPM Book Club, and I've always seen him hold up the Gulf War as a classic example of an internationally-justified war. If he's changed his mind on this, I've missed it, and anyone is free to link to an Yglesias post pointing this out.

In the specific case of the Gulf War, though, you have a war that superficially meets Yglesias's criteria, but had catastrophic consequences under a nevertheless internationalist framework. Surely this suggests that something beyond internationalism is required when going to war.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 11:12 AM
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You'll find that they can handle your beery needs here, too. And there's a view of the lake. And homemade ice cream. And delicious pretzels.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 11:15 AM
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I have a hard time opposing the Gulf War in retrospect. Sure, it was part of the chain of events that led to the Iraq War, but I don't think that was a necessary result. And repulsing an invasion of an ally just does seem legitimate to me. (This is by no means an endorsement of everything we did in the Gulf War specifically; I just can't see it as globally illegitmate.)

This reasoning doesn't apply to Kosovo, of course.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 11:15 AM
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If he's changed his mind on this, I've missed it, and anyone is free to link to an Yglesias post pointing this out.

I seem to recall--though I'm not willing to go find it on his innumerable number of sites--that he thinks something like the following: the Gulf War was fine, but people pretending it's an open and shut case are wrong, and opposition to it was much more reasonable that he had previously thought. If I find it at some point, I'll link.

I think he's basically scaled back his support for any interventions by 50% on top making of various semi-principled objections to various specific interventions.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 11:19 AM
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Stras - what would have been the correct way to handle the invasion of Kuwait in 1991?


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 11:21 AM
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repulsing an invasion of an ally just does seem legitimate to me

If we had a protection pact, perhaps. But given that our ambassador tacitly green-lighted the initial invasion, this is dicey. On a more personal level, it just doesn't matter to me who runs Kuwait, Inc. Certainly not to the point of killing thousands of people and destroying another country's civilian infrastructure over it. Quick, no googling, how many people here can name the ruling family of Kuwait?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 11:21 AM
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45: Holy shit, I agree fully with Emerson. Is this Lions Lie Down With Lambs Day or something? I'm expecting McManus to show up any minute and point out some of the underappreciated benefits of hedge funds and currency speculators.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 11:22 AM
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Sure, it was part of the chain of events that led to the Iraq War, but I don't think that was a necessary result.

You could argue that invading Iraq wouldn't necessarily lead to an Iraqi civil war. It would very likely lead to civil war, given Iraqi history, politics, and society, but it wouldn't necessarily lead to civil war. In the same way, given the reality of the American foreign policy establishment and the American political elite, that it was very likely that extended, aggressive attempts to "contain" Iraq would eventually lead to an invasion of the country. Not necessarily, though - just very likely!

And repulsing an invasion of an ally just does seem legitimate to me.

But this is precisely the point: legitimacy under international law isn't sufficient to actually justify a war, given that even a "legitimate" war can still lead to catastrophic consequences. The people who dreamed up the Gulf War essentially did so without considering the consequences of that war, and the consequences ultimately entailed a decade-long sanctions-and-bombing regime followed by an all-out invasion.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 11:29 AM
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Quick, no googling, how many people here can name the ruling family of Kuwait?

You mean Dad and Uncle Frank? Or did you want something more formal?


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 11:29 AM
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The Al-Sabahs, right? And if I'm right, it's only because sabbah means grandfather in Hebrew (I think it's jaddah in Arabic). But now I'm worried that I'm about to embarrass myself. Oh well, it won't be the first time.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 11:30 AM
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Stras - what would have been the correct way to handle the invasion of Kuwait in 1991?

What makes it America's job to "handle"?


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 11:31 AM
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Further to 58: I was in Israel/Palestine for the first Gulf War, which is another reason that I may know the name of Kuwait's royal family. And apo, when am I allowed to look?


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 11:32 AM
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59: Our oil culture, I thought.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 11:33 AM
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61: You know what's an even cheaper way to get oil than invading other countries? Buying it from them.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 11:35 AM
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Isn't the fundamental problem that the Iraq War simply *does* fall into the same conceptual strand of "neoliberal"/keep the peace intervention as Kosovo or a putative Darfur intervention?

Hard to argue against, given that so many liberal internationalists - including Yglesias - stood up in real-time to support the invasion.

But I think that Yglesias's point is that it isn't necessary for liberal internationalism to make this call - that the conceptual underpinnings of liberal internationalism don't require it.

As for the Gulf War, it seems to me that international law is a useful concept, and a respect for international borders is a pretty fundamental principal of international law. If the world is going to stand by as Saddam invades Kuwait, then Saddam invades Saudi Arabia as a followup. The action of the international community in this case seemed pretty reasonable to me.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 11:37 AM
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What makes it America's job to "handle"?

As you point out yourself, stras, it wasn't America alone who handled it. But how do you think the rest of the world ought to have reacted, and why?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 11:39 AM
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In the same way, given the reality of the American foreign policy establishment and the American political elite, that it was very likely that extended, aggressive attempts to "contain" Iraq would eventually lead to an invasion of the country. Not necessarily, though - just very likely!

This argument just doesn't work, though. In 1993, did invasion of Iraq seem inevitable, or very likely? Heck, in summer 2001, did it? What made the invasion of Iraq inevitable was the election of a maniac in 2000, and then 9/11 giving him foreign policy carte blanche. If Gore had been president in 2001, we wouldn't have invaded Iraq, not because he's a better person than that or anything, but because there wouldn't have been any particular political advantage for him in it.

You needed a whole lot more than Gulf War 1 to make the Iraq War happen, and it's not clear to me that some equivalently stupid war wouldn't have happened after 9/11 (assuming Bush was in office) even without Gulf War 1. Might not have been Iraq, but I bet it would have been someplace.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 11:40 AM
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it seems to me that international law is a useful concept, and a respect for international borders is a pretty fundamental principal of international law. If the world is going to stand by as Saddam invades Kuwait, then Saddam invades Saudi Arabia as a followup. The action of the international community in this case seemed pretty reasonable to me.

But here's the thing: the Gulf War did lead to a sanctions-and-bombing regime that killed hundreds of thousands of people, which in turn lead to the Iraq invasion. The Gulf War was not worth its consequences. And if the Gulf War was "legitimate" by the standards of international law, then this blows a great big hole in the notion of using international legitimacy as a benchmark for when to blow up other countries.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 11:41 AM
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The Gulf War was not worth its consequences. And if the Gulf War was "legitimate" by the standards of international law, then this blows a great big hole in the notion of using international legitimacy as a benchmark for when to blow up other countries.

Well, unless you don't agree with the first sentence, which seems like the whole argument.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 11:44 AM
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You know what's an even cheaper way to get oil than invading other countries? Buying it from them.

It's not the getting so much as the control by allies and/or control by many rather than one power, I think. Which is why we worry about Iran, and worried about Saddam going after Saudi, as I understand it.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 11:50 AM
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And I'd argue with the concept of 'consequences' there. The Gulf War was certainly a 'but for' cause of how everything has played out in Iraq, which is awful, but I don't think it made the bad results that followed necessary.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 11:50 AM
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65: LB, you've got a really short memory. In the fall of 2000 Josh Marshall was saying that Al Gore looked more presidential than George Bush because Gore looked like the kind of guy who could "take care" of Saddam Hussein. There was plenty of late-nineties talk about invading Iraq, from Democrats as much or more than Republicans - it was a Democrat who'd been lobbing cruise missiles at Baghdad during the impeachment, after all.

Al Gore, meanwhile, was typically one of the hawks in the Clinton White House. He came out as an enthusiastic supporter of extraordinary rendition while Clinton was still on the fence about it. So while the post-White House Al Gore may have found a soul and spoke out against torture and war, don't pretend that augurs much for a theoretical post-9/11 Gore presidency, which would likely have contained more than its share of Albright-style liberal hawks.

Just as there were Clintonites who came out of the White House disappointed that the political conditions weren't right for passing universal health care, there were Clintonites who were disappointed that conditions weren't right for invading Iraq. There was a lot of bipartisan support building for an Iraq invasion well before 9/11.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 11:52 AM
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the conceptual underpinnings of liberal internationalism don't require it.

This is, I think, obviously correct. But what some people want is a doctrine that would have *in principle* ruled out an invasion of Iraq. I don't think you can get that doctrine without also ruling out Kosovo, Darfur, and a host of things liberal internationalists like.

On GW I the question is "what should the world have done in response to Saddam's essentially unprovoked plundering of Kuwait." The reason it's America's problem is that, in terms of power projection "We Are the World."


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 11:55 AM
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Al Gore was, in real-time, a public opponent of the Iraq War.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 11:57 AM
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I don't think it made the bad results that followed necessary.

Would you care to explain the plausible world in which Bush I ends the Gulf War without the sanctions regime in Iraq?


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 11:58 AM
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Al Gore was, in real-time, a public opponent of the Iraq War.

He was also no longer running for office, nor was he in office, nor was he being surrounded and advised by the dozens of hawks who were publicly supporting the war.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 11:59 AM
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The reason it's America's problem is that, in terms of power projection "We Are the World."

And I think we should stop trying to be the world, because it's clear we keep fucking up.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 12:01 PM
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essentially unprovoked

The charge leveled was repeated slant drilling into Iraq's oil fields.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 12:02 PM
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LB, you've got a really short memory. In the fall of 2000 Josh Marshall was saying that Al Gore looked more presidential than George Bush because Gore looked like the kind of guy who could "take care" of Saddam Hussein. There was plenty of late-nineties talk about invading Iraq, from Democrats as much or more than Republicans - it was a Democrat who'd been lobbing cruise missiles at Baghdad during the impeachment, after all.

Maybe my memory really is this far out of whack, but I'm not remembering this as accurate, although there's a lot of wiggle room in what's meant by 'talk'. But I don't recall having any expectation that a full-scale invasion of Iraq was likely at all before 9/11.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 12:02 PM
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73 - One where Saddam Hussein is removed from power.

I think Bush the first made a serious error by not violating the cease fire agreement in order to support the uprising against Saddam Hussein.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 12:03 PM
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But I don't recall having any expectation that a full-scale invasion of Iraq was likely at all before 9/11.

Less "likely" than "hoped for."


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 12:03 PM
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The reason it's America's problem is that, in terms of power projection "We Are the World."

Oh, come on. Under that reasoning, what border dispute would we *not* intervene in?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 12:03 PM
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Counter- factuals are always influenced by the author's prejudices. GHWB and his team did not march on Baghdad because they foresaw the problems that GWB chose to ignore. And as an old school splendid isolationist, I see stras's point. Was the US justified in declaring war against Germany in WWII? Were we right to contain the commies in the Cold War? Lots of money spent on guns that could have been spent on butter. War is always messy, involves killing more civilians than soldiers, and aggressors can be bought off, for now. Kick the can down the road and let someone else deal with it.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 12:04 PM
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The charge leveled was repeated slant drilling into Iraq's oil fields.

Oh, I know Hussein alleged lots of stuff. There's always a pretext. Just no claim that plausibly warranted taking over the whole country and pillaging it.


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 12:04 PM
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73: The sanctions regime we ended up with isn't the only possible one; a more restricted sanctions regime would have been possible without having the same bad effects.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 12:05 PM
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. Under that reasoning, what border dispute would we *not* intervene in?

Ones that didn't involve anything we wanted.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 12:05 PM
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But what some people want is a doctrine that would have *in principle* ruled out an invasion of Iraq. I don't think you can get that doctrine without also ruling out Kosovo, Darfur, and a host of things liberal internationalists like.

I think that's an easy one. The principle is that we don't undertake military interventions where the only government that really, sincerely thinks it's a good idea is the U.S. Almost every government* that supported the invasion of Iraq in 2003 did so against its own better judgement, against the majority of public opinion, or because they wanted to curry favor with the Bush administration, or some combination of the above. Spain, Saudi Arabia, Italy, Australia, Poland, and others were acquiescing to a hard sell from the neocons in the Administration, not making a deliberate judgement in favor of war.

You could also apply the Daniel Davies principle that "good ideas do not need lies told about them". If the US government had offered up the pros and cons of the war in full candor, and promoted a good faith deliberative process in the international community, there would have been no Iraq War II. (Admittedly, there was some hyperbole about the scope of Serb atrocities in pre-war Kosovo as well, but it was not the deliberate policy of the US President to exagerate the case for war; closer to the opposite.)

*Kuwait and Israel are exceptions, but special cases. You could argue that Tony Blair was sincerely on board, but the New Labour government public opinion were deeply divided.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 12:06 PM
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There's always a pretext. Just no claim that plausibly warranted taking over the whole country and pillaging it.

There's an eerie parallel to some current military operation there.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 12:06 PM
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C'mon, guys, we've been through this before. There's no point in arguing about how inevitable Gulf I made Gulf II - stras thinks it's 99%, and all the rest of us think it was somewhere south of 50%. There's no shared premises, so there's no meaningful discussion to be had.

I don't know if I really care to hear, but: stras, if the bad part of Kosovo intervention is thousands of civilians killed by NATO, but the bad part of non-intervention was thousands of civilians killed by Serbs, plus Milosovic still in power, the Serbian Army still prone to invading others, and Kosovars still a persecuted group, why is the latter preferable? NATO intervention manifestly did not result in (a significant # of - no way to calculate reliably) excess casualties, but had concrete benefits. So why is that a "disaster?"

I'll concede upfront that, insofar as it's made today's Russian invasion more likely, it's got to answer for events beyond the Balkans. But of course nations will always point to something else that made them do today's atrocity.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 12:07 PM
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hat border dispute would we *not* intervene in?
Ones that can be handled by lesser powers. Or that don't deal with interests of ours. Or that no one cares about.

I'm just saying that *if* you think "the world" needs to deal with problem X, 9 out of 10 times, that means "the US" needs to deal with problem X.


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 12:07 PM
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There's always a pretext. Just no claim that plausibly warranted taking over the whole country and pillaging it.

You're mocking us with temptation, aren't you?


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 12:07 PM
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71: But what some people want is a doctrine that would have *in principle* ruled out an invasion of Iraq.

Hmmm. "Principle" in this kind of context seems to suggest applying some set of constant rules regardless of circumstance. Libertarians are full of this sort of principle, and this kind of thinking is why George W. Bush gets so much credit for adherence to principle.

In the use of violence, as with many things, there are all sorts of complicating factors. Liberal internationalism - and conventional international "realism," for that matter - have always been efforts to weigh a lot of different factors, and to adjust as circumstances warrant.

Does that make those modes of thought "unprincipled"? Well, one can debate the validity of the principles involved, but they are still principles, I think. (Yes, by this definition, even Henry Kissinger has something that can be accurately described as "principles.")


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 12:08 PM
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how inevitable Gulf I made Gulf II - stras thinks it's 99%, and all the rest of us think it was somewhere south of 50%

I would say that there's no logical sense in thinking of them as two separate wars.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 12:09 PM
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You're mocking us with temptation, aren't you?

People can read into that whatever they want...


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 12:09 PM
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what border dispute would we *not* intervene in?

5 will get you 10 there are no US troops headed to Ossetia right now.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 12:10 PM
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You could also apply the Daniel Davies principle that "good ideas do not need lies told about them".

OTOH, didn't we get fake testimony about baby-eating Iraqis in Kuwait for the Gulf War?


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 12:10 PM
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baby-eating Iraqis in Kuwait

Nicely warmed in those incubators, IIR.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 12:13 PM
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91: Hence Bush II needed no additional authorization.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 12:13 PM
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C'mon, guys, we've been through this before. There's no point in arguing about how inevitable Gulf I made Gulf II - stras thinks it's 99%, and all the rest of us think it was somewhere south of 50%. There's no shared premises, so there's no meaningful discussion to be had.

For the record, I'm much closer to Stras than "all the rest of us." That's not the say the discussion can now become meaningful.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 12:13 PM
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Now that I've read through, I'd actually say that my position is roughly the same as apo's in 91.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 12:14 PM
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One where Saddam Hussein is removed from power.

But this is exactly the point. Once Bush I went to war with Iraq, his options under American foreign policy dogma were either "regime change" or "containment." And he knew that taking out Saddam would have lead to chaos, civil war and indefinite occupation. And so he went with "containment" through the sanctions-and-bombing regime - but that was never a real solution, because it ended up killing off hundreds of thousands of Iraqis while ratcheting up tensions between the US and Iraq. While more and more elites in the US started fantasizing about invading Iraq, the rest of the world started to sour on the sanctions regime, and liberal hawks used that anti-sanctions sentiment as part of their argument: the sanctions are evil, but we can't end them 'till Saddam's gone, so let's topple Saddam.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 12:14 PM
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Well shucks, if the Iraq War was the inevitable result of the Gulf War, then certainly the Gulf War was the inevitable result of Saddam's invasion, which in turn was the inevitable result of colonialism, which couldn't have been avoided because of ... well, you get the idea.

We're back to Nader-land here. In fact, election results do matter.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 12:18 PM
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OTOH, didn't we get fake testimony about baby-eating Iraqis in Kuwait for the Gulf War?

Yes, though it bears pointing out that the lobbyists that fabricated that testimony were hired by the Kuwaiti government to manipulate the US Congress, not by the administration (although the possibility of connivance is a given).

The think is, Gulf War I was not a slam dunk call without benefit of hindsight. I opposed it at the time, not out of principle (because the principle of voluntary collective defense against aggressive warfare is a legitimate one), but because I feared it would be a bloodbath, and I didn't think it was worth a bloodbath. My weighting of the "possible bloodbath" factor was no doubt skewed by the fact that most of my high school friends were waiting in Saudi Arabia to be part of the invasion force.

Legitimacy--be it upholding international law or preventing humanitarian catastrophes--is a necessary, but insufficient condition in the liberal internationalist framework. And political football is right: what constitutes a sufficient condition is, well, conditional, and reasonable people can disagree on any individual case.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 12:20 PM
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then certainly the Gulf War was the inevitable result of Saddam's invasion

Nope, any more than our kicking off WWIII is the inevitable result of Russia invading Georgia. But 99 answers the first part of your comment.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 12:21 PM
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I think that the Iraq war being the inevitable result of the gulf War is closer to WWII being the inevitable result of WWI. Could have been avoided, maybe, but not with the same players involved.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 12:22 PM
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87: JRoth, you know who convinced me that Kosovo was a disaster? Matt Yglesias, when he was arguing against invading Darfur. Now, Darfur is a fucking nightmare, and there's this impulse to want to Do Something, but why is it, Yglesias would often ask, that our impulse to save lives has to be translated into sending the military out to kill people? Typically we're sending armed forces into complex situations we don't understand with consequences we haven't even begun to think about, when a fraction of the resources we spend on such a military conflict could be spent saving far more lives from disease, starvation and poverty elsewhere in the world. I was completely convinced by that, and moreover I was utterly unconvinced that his argument didn't apply to the Balkans.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 12:23 PM
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But given that our ambassador tacitly green-lighted the initial invasion
Why does this always get glossed over?


Posted by: bittermedic | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 12:24 PM
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because I feared it would be a bloodbath

It was and it continues to be. Just mostly Iraqi blood, which is apparently worth zero cents on the dollar compared to American blood.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 12:26 PM
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But 99 answers the first part of your comment.

Well no it doesn't. You and stras are simply denying the existence of contrary evidence. George HW Bush - amid considerable political opposition - decided to leave Saddam in place. Bill Clinton, with considerably more political support for containment, did the same. Al Gore said - in real-time, amid the hysteria - that he opposed the Iraq War.

To deny this, containment becomes something that was either impossible for a sustained period (per stras in 99 and elsewhere) or simply never happened (per apo in 91). In fact, this ellides a whole bunch of actual history.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 12:31 PM
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105: Because owning up to it means that our government probably *wanted* Saddam to cross the border. My personal tin-foil theory is that we had an entire generation of new weapons that had never really been tested under actual combat conditions, and the GHWB administration looked for the best opportunity to do that.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 12:33 PM
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108: I've heard that before from someone else.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 12:34 PM
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PF- The sanctions regime against Saddam was definately coming to an end, violated left and right, esp. by our allies the French and Russians. The presence of our troops in KSA enforcing the sanctions was a stated reason for 9/11. Nothing changes without the removal of Saddam, official US policy under Clinton.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 12:36 PM
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or simply never happened (per apo in 91)

I'm saying that the 12-year containment period was simply a protracted lull (not quite the word I'm looking for, but it will do for now) in fighting the same war. A lull during which we were still regularly dropping bombs on Iraqi territory and at least once amassed huge troops in invasion mode. We weren't, in any realistic sense, at peace with Iraq.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 12:37 PM
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Amb. Gillespie as Tar Baby.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 12:38 PM
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But given that our ambassador tacitly green-lighted the initial invasion

Is it really so hard to imagine that there was a simple miscommunication? It's been known to happen.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 12:40 PM
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huge numbers of troops, though I suppose some of them were indeed huge.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 12:41 PM
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Glaspie.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 12:42 PM
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Don't harsh on my conspiracy theory, togolosh.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 12:42 PM
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Is it really so hard to imagine that there was a simple miscommunication? It's been known to happen.

I think "miscommunication" may be a little over-simple. I suspect the Bush administration really hadn't thought too much about whether it would be a bad thing to substitute one dictator for another in Kuwait. If memory serves (and it may not), Bush took several days even after the invasion to come out forcefully against it.

Like apo, I don't think the original Gulf War was inevitable after Saddam's invasion.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 12:48 PM
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Thank you, JE. I was going from memory. Here's Joe Wilson talking to Bill Moyers about it.

http://www.pbs.org/now/transcript/transcript_wilson.html


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 12:50 PM
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108: My personal tin-foil theory is that we had an entire generation of new weapons that had never really been tested under actual combat conditions, and the GHWB administration looked for the best opportunity to do that.

As you say, in the specific instance this may be a bit tin-foilish, but in aggregate over time this is how it plays out and is one of the continuing threats of our massive military spend. No societyis going to invest those kind of resources into something that doesn't end up getting used. So you end up with: Tool, hammer; Solution, nail. Or see Tom Lehrer's "Send the Marines" from way back in the day.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 12:56 PM
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B's main complaint was that Guelph lacks things like nice restaurants.

No; it has some nice restaurants, actually. Where it's lacking is in the mid-range between "nice" (and therefore rather expensive) and cheap/mediocre/kid-friendly. That said, my main complaint was that the weather was absolutely intolerable and made me suicidal. This was seconded by the fact that small towns are, well, small, and eventually one becomes bored with the same-same all the time.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 12:57 PM
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My own take is that the first Iraq war was justified, but "containment" was wrong-headed and set the stage for the second war. And that "containment" was probably forced by the politics of entry into the first war: having turned Saddam into the New Hitler in order to justify the war, American politicians couldn't exactly say "oh, well, Saddam's changed his Hitler-y ways" and welcome a slightly bombed Iraq back into the International Community [tm].


Posted by: Tom Scudder | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 1:00 PM
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You can take the girl out of Manteca, but you can't take Manteca out of the girl.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 1:00 PM
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War is a Racket

http://www.lexrex.com/enlightened/articles/warisaracket.htm


Posted by: Smedley Butler | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 1:01 PM
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To support my leaky memory in 117:

-Saddam invades Kuwait, Aug. 2, 1990.
-"This will not stand" -Aug. 6, 1990.



Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 1:02 PM
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I think "miscommunication" may be a little over-simple. I suspect the Bush administration really hadn't thought too much about whether it would be a bad thing to substitute one dictator for another in Kuwait. If memory serves (and it may not), Bush took several days even after the invasion to come out forcefully against it.

There's a pretty parsimonious explanation for what happened. The Bush I administration had never defined expansionism as a threat to US interests. We were worried about Iran. Iraq was, if not exactly an ally, at least an enemy of our enemy, and therefore presumptively OK.

When Saddam started mobilizing his army on the Kuwaiti border, US intelligence thought he was just sabre-rattling to get leverage in his diplomatic dispute with Kuwait over the islands off the Iraqi coast. Glaspie and the State Department didn't figure he would really invade, so they didn't want to get mixed up in the dispute or give the Kuwaitis any false sense of comfort. Bush might have even (and this is pure conjecture) received, or thought he received some reassurances from Iraq that they weren't really going to invade Kuwait.

It wasn't until the invasion took place and the Saudis (and Israelis, but mostly the Saudis) freaked out that the Bush administration took a hard line. After that, Bush's reputation was on the line ("This will not stand!"), so the inertial state became that we would go to war.

Ironically, the US took a maximalist line after the invasion ("No reward for agression") that it probably would not have taken if Saddam had stuck with sabre-rattling and merely threatened the Kuwaitis into making some territorial concessions. In that sense, it was miscalculation all around.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 1:04 PM
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insert "Iraqi" before "expansionism".


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 1:05 PM
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You can take the girl out of Manteca, but you can't take Manteca out of the girl.

All the same, there is a multi-billion dollar industry devoted to taking the manteca out of the girl.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 1:08 PM
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122: Actually I often have the same experience with the valley. Initial impressions: quite favorable! After a few days: time to leave!


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 1:08 PM
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If memory serves (and it may not), Bush took several days even after the invasion to come out forcefully against it.

No, your memory is correct. One of the reasons the neocons* didn't trust GHWB.

* I know they weren't technically neocons at the time, but come on.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 1:09 PM
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129: I thought that they were neocons at the time, and had been since at least Reagan's first term.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 1:11 PM
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87: JRoth, you know who convinced me that Kosovo was a disaster? Matt Yglesias, when he was arguing against invading Darfur. [...] I was completely convinced by that, and moreover I was utterly unconvinced that his argument didn't apply to the Balkans.

I appreciate this reply, but I'm having trouble with what seems to be an add case of theory over empricism. If you concede that the actual-already-happened Kosovo intervention was a net gain for the world, as I outlined in 87.2 and you haven't disputed, then it seems that you're saying that, because military intervention for humanitarian reasons is a bad idea in principle, it's therefore a bad idea in practice, even when it succeeds.

I guess it's like a teen taking the family car without permission for a semi-good reason; even if it works out, you don't want to encourage such behavior (and apologies if this wasn't your meaning; that's just how I'm reading your 104). Even so, I can't see calling it a "disaster."


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 1:16 PM
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I thought that they were neocons at the time, and had been since at least Reagan's first term.

I thought the name came later; maybe not. Anyway, yeah, same guys, and they were already in the same crazy headspace they're in now.

BTW, I apologize to apo and ari about my 87.1 - I wasn't trying to ignore you or even to marginalize stras. I was just pointing out that we already had exactly this discussion, and that I don't think anyone was going to move from their premises about the relationship between 1991 and 2003.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 1:19 PM
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I apologize to apo

Not necessary, amigo.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 1:23 PM
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@ TLL in 81: Actually Germany declared war on the US, nominally fulfilling its treaty with the Japanese.
Oh, and comparing the Cold War to all the shooting Wars in mentioned in this thread is very pomes:oranges.


Posted by: Tiny Hermaphrodite | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 1:25 PM
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73

"Would you care to explain the plausible world in which Bush I ends the Gulf War without the sanctions regime in Iraq?"

What was so bad about the sanctions regime?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 1:41 PM
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True dat- but not in the same league as bombing Pearl Harbor. Point being- had the US gone pacifist we could have withdrawn form the Philippines and our war would have been over, and the Brits would have giving territory to the Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity sphere.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 1:43 PM
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What was so bad about the sanctions regime?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 1:47 PM
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Not necessary, amigo.

Appeaser! Chamberlain!


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 1:49 PM
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I cannot dig it up right now, but the sanctions regime allegedly caused (right word order?) the death of around 500.000 Iraqis.


Posted by: Tiny Hermaphrodite | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 1:50 PM
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If you concede that the actual-already-happened Kosovo intervention was a net gain for the world

I don't concede this, actually. It seems to me that the Russians were as instrumental in ending that phase of the civil war in the Balkans as NATO - indeed, much more so - and that NATO killed thousands of civilians who would have otherwise lived, while prompting another wave of ethnic cleansing. It's also not clear to me, ten years on, that the fundamental fucked-uppedness of the former Yugoslavia has been eased much at all by NATO's actions. The only metric by which Kosovo was a clear success is the metric "ratio of bombs dropped to dead American soldiers," which I'll admit is very impressive.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 1:51 PM
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Lost my pwnage cherry to apo! (shudders)


Posted by: Tiny Hermaphrodite | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 1:51 PM
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Oh, come on. Under that reasoning, what border dispute would we *not* intervene in?

One's where we can't plausibly cause good (reduction in amount of net harm, stability/strengthening of valuable institutions) results?


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 1:58 PM
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137 139

Correlation is not causation if even if you believe the figures (which if IIRC are not consistent with the baseline for the Lancet study).


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 2:02 PM
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Don't be obtuse, James. Just one example: we banned chlorine and water-borne diseases skyrocketed.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 2:08 PM
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That's a lame place to use the "correlation is not causation" line, James. Dispute the facts, please.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 2:11 PM
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144: Apo himself contends that there was a continuous state of war between the US and Iraq from 1991 to 2003.

War is Hell.

The Northern blockade of Southern ports during the Civil War probably caused some Alabama babies to starve, too. But the fault lay with Jefferson Davis and company, not with Abe Lincoln.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 2:12 PM
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there was a continuous state of war between the US and Iraq from 1991 to 2003

Apo himself contends there was a continuous state of war by the US on Iraq from '91 to '03. They weren't really fighting back.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 2:15 PM
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Studies have shown that correlation actually became causation at the very moment when Steven Den Beste crowed "correlation is not causation" for the millionth time. But no one claims that there was a causal relationship.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 2:18 PM
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In any event, KR, the question was what was so bad about them, not who should be blamed. From the malaria-ridden child's perspective, I doubt there was a significant difference between it being Saddam's fault and Bush/Clinton/Bush's fault.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 2:19 PM
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They weren't really fighting back.

Didn't they occasionally lob a few AA missiles at patrolling planes? I mean, not that that makes it a fair fight or anything....


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 2:20 PM
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Didn't they occasionally lob a few AA missiles at patrolling planes?

Maybe, I don't recall. I mostly remember we'd drop bombs whenever they turned on radar.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 2:22 PM
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not that that makes it a fair fight or anything

I, for one, am forever grateful that it was not a "fair fight". Not that i would know what that would look like.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 2:27 PM
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In any event, KR, the question was what was so bad about them, not who should be blamed. From the malaria-ridden child's perspective, I doubt there was a significant difference between it being Saddam's fault and Bush/Clinton/Bush's fault.

In general, I'm not a big fan of economic sanctions as a tool of statecraft, for a variety of pragmatic reasons.

I think the Iraq sanctions fall into one of the narrow categories of exceptions, because they were reasonably narrowly tailored to the objective being sought; they were comparatively watertight (no sanctions regime is perfect, but unilateral sanctions like the Cuba boycott are especially pointless); they inflicted palpable consequences on the elites, they included mitigation measures for humanitarian needs; and they gave the authorities in power a clear path to getting the sanctions lifted.

Compared to the alternative of war (which we eventually got in 2003 anyway, but wasn't inevitable IMO), effective sanctions are a humane alternative.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 2:27 PM
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I fail to see how starving babies is better than killing soldiers, KR. But that's just me.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 2:31 PM
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Good to know that the Iraq War did not kill many civilians then.


Posted by: Tiny Hermaphrodite | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 2:37 PM
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154: War has a well-documented tendency to increase mortality among babies as well as soldiers, TLL. War also has an unfortunate habit of sucking other parties into the conflict and creating various other unintended consequences, which makes it especially dangerous as a tool of statecraft.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 2:39 PM
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Well, the sanctions kill only civilians, the military being a preferred group. So, there is that.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 2:41 PM
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War is a broadsword, not a scalpel. The problem is that sanctions aren't exactly a scalpel either. More of a butcher's knife. Enough analogies for ya?


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 2:43 PM
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157: War also imposes significant costs on our side. This isn't to argue that the lives of our soldiers are worth more than the lives of their civilians, or that our tax dollars are worth more than the lives of their civilians. It's that a critical aspect of the strategic game of statecraft is making credible the prospect that you can continue imposing costs on the other side indefinitely*. That requires a gross assymmetry in cost. So it's sanctions are well-suited for that reason.

*For example, the OPEC states could cause incredible disruption in the West by refusing to sell oil in 1973, but they couldn't credibly threaten to continue the boycott forever, which made it ultimately ineffective as leverage.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 2:46 PM
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So you can kill (directly or indirectly) as many civillians as you want as long as you also kill some soldiers, preferably in a shooting war?


Posted by: Tiny Hermaphrodite | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 2:48 PM
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The problem is that sanctions aren't exactly a scalpel either. More of a butcher's knife.

No disagreement here. I'm a skeptic of economic sanctions in general.

Very narrowly targeted sanctions, like imposing an international travel ban on the the leadership of a rogue state, is a different kettle of fish.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 2:48 PM
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I don't think that we disagree about the affect of sanctions as a tool of statecraft. I know that I was responding to the idea, probably only in my own head, that sanctions were to be preferred because of the lower costs to the sanctioned, i.e. pain to the elites. As a practical matter, one ends up with dead babies either way.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 2:52 PM
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Knecht's interpretation of Glaspie/State Dept. communication before the Kuwait invasion seems awfully generous. Not that it's not true, but it presumes an improbable level of goodwill and/or naïveté on the part of the US when other conclusions come more readily to mind. That said, I've never for a second believed that the bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade was an accident, so maybe I'm just a cynical, uncharitable person.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 2:53 PM
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so maybe I'm just a cynical, uncharitable person. realist.


As a practical matter, one ends up with dead babies either way.

If this is the case, it would make sense to tot up the numbers in a reasonable estimate, wouldn't it? Something we steadfastly refuse to do.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 2:54 PM
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the bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade

I always took that as a "we know where you live" warning to the Chicoms, in case they wanted to make trouble at the UN. Or maybe it really was an old map.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 2:58 PM
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163: "Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity."*

*Certain exceptions apply. Not valid for official actions of the U.S. government between January 20, 2001 and January 19, 2009. See in-store display for eligibility requirements and other important details.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 2:58 PM
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It seems to me that the Russians were as instrumental in ending that phase of the civil war in the Balkans as NATO - indeed, much more so

I want to hear more about this. My understanding/recollection is that the Russians supported Milosevic to the bitter end, right up to opposing/obstructing the ICT proceedings. They put a lot of chips on the line trying to prop him up and prevent international intervention. So at what point did they say, "Never mind, get rid of the hardline nationalists, and put Koštunica in"? Oh, after weeks of bombing - that surely indicated a good-faith desire for a peaceful resolution. Meanwhile, they continue to fight about the Kosovo status process, and provided asylum for his family.

It's also not clear to me, ten years on, that the fundamental fucked-uppedness of the former Yugoslavia has been eased much at all by NATO's actions.

Huh? There was a more-or-less continuous shooting war for the 7 years prior to NATO's actions. There has been no organized shooting since then. Meanwhile, all of the former Yugoslavia is heading towards EU membership - even the Serbians (people, not nec. gov't) support that.

Sample Timeline:
1984: Sarajevo hosts Olympics
1991: Yugoslavia breaks up
1992-1996: Siege of Sarajevo, "the longest siege in the history of modern warfare" (Wiki)
11/1995: Dayton Accord
1996: Serbia turns military attentions to Kosovo
1999: NATO bombing
2003: "most of [Sarajevo] had been rebuilt or repaired"

Milosevic lost one war, so he started another. The Russians had no interest in stopping him - they like the precedent of the old empire holding onto its member states. It's not as if he was a good leader for the Serbs in Serbia - he used the wars and nationalism to disguise his bad domestic leadership. Serbia was not going to liberalize under Milosevic, and they weren't getting rid of him anytime soon.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 3:01 PM
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dead babies
tot up

Giggle.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 3:02 PM
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I'm glad ben is here to keep things at an appropriate level.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 3:04 PM
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JRoth, e-mail me at knechtUNDERSCOREruprechtATyahoodotcom.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 3:12 PM
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Anytime, dude.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 3:14 PM
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145

"Dispute the facts, please."

The graph linked in 137 (which has a dead link for a source) indicates an infant mortality rate of about 100 per 1000 prior to the Iraq War.

The 2004 lancet study estimates 29 per 1000 (p. 6) for the prewar baseline.

Even if you accept the graph you could just as well attribute the jump in mortality to the Gulf War itself rather than to the postwar sanctions.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 3:38 PM
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That's more like it. The "correlation is not causation" line has been played, and is unworthy even of you as a supposed drop-dead argument.

The higher mortality was stable for a period of years and seems unlikely to have been simply a lingering effect of the war itself. Deliberate steps were taken to make post-war recovery difficult or impossible (e.g., refusing chlorine for water-purification). So what we're left with is the question of whether child and infant mortality really did increas.

Do you accept the Lancet study, BTW?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 3:42 PM
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165 - the bombing of the Chinese embassy makes a lot of sense given that the Chinese knew the bombing of Serbia was on the way and had plenty of time to move in equipment to monitor the process. In a future conflict with the US it would be invaluable to have intelligence derived from an actual hot war as opposed to listening in on exercises. There is no doubt in my mind that the bombing destroyed an intelligence gathering operation. The only question is whether it was deliberate.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 3:46 PM
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At the time, Alexander Cockburn, in Counterpunch, argued that the eventual agreement that NATO extracted from Milosevic was no different than terms that were on the table before the bombing started. My -fu is not quite up to researching this argument, and while I enjoy a little Cock'punch, I won't take it on faith. But it's been made.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 4:24 PM
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the eventual agreement that NATO extracted from Milosevic was no different than terms that were on the table before the bombing started.

According to Wiki - and of course the article is disputed - this is partly true. Kosovar quasi-independence was on the table, but international peacekeeping presence was not - when NATO demanded it, Serbia walked away.

IOW, an agreement without a means of enforcement.

It was also noted that, unlike Dayton, Milosevic sent a surrogate, which was taken as a statement of noncommital to the process.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 4:32 PM
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173

"Do you accept the Lancet study, BTW?"

I haven't found the criticism particularly convincing except in that what the Lancet studies were attempting to do was difficult. And in fact the studies own error estimates are quite large. So I would give them some weight but I would not say they are indisputably correct.

"The higher mortality was stable for a period of years and seems unlikely to have been simply a lingering effect of the war itself. Deliberate steps were taken to make post-war recovery difficult or impossible (e.g., refusing chlorine for water-purification). So what we're left with is the question of whether child and infant mortality really did increas."

There were many factors. The Gulf war led to internal unrest followed by repression which also slowed recovery.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 4:32 PM
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The attribution of a viewpoint to Alexander Coburn doubles or triples the evidentiary threshold, IMHO.

But true or false, there are the indisputable facts on the ground: before the bombing, Serbian army and police in control of Kosovo. After the bombing, KLA in control of Kosovo. That change wasn't an unalloyed good, but no honest person can deny its importance. And if Cockburn wants to argue that Kosovo would have achieved meaningful autonomy, much less independence, with the Serbs in control of the army and police, he's got a tough case to make.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 4:38 PM
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If one wants to look at the morality/legitimacy of US foreign policy before the current Iraq war, then it was completely corrupt. The first failure of this policy (most of which was the so called "liberal internationalist" one) was the 1991 war in Iraq-Saddam Hussein was a creature of the US who was actively encouraged to go to war against Iran by the US establishment, which also was very willing to look away at his atrocities against his citizens.

The truth is that most foreign policy is a combination of stupidity, shortsightedness and cold self interest ("realpolitik"). If there are victims of such policy, it is really of no concern unless such victims are in a position of sufficient power to affect the people who make such policy. Hence, there was no real concern about the US policy in Iraq, or even about its then favorite proxy in the Middle East, until said proxy began to have ideas of his own. I am cynical enough to believe that a lot of the talk about a "moral" policy is to salve the consciences of people, and also because it serves a very useful propaganda purpose of getting bystanders to support a particular initiative. All wars are crimes of one sort or the other, and there is no really just war, since one cannot really control who falls victim to war.

As for Yglesias and others like him (e.g Josh Marshall), it is hard to take someone's views on foreign policy seriously when they had sufficient access to information about the case for war in 2001-02 and still supported it.


Posted by: The Blue Flautist | Link to this comment | 08- 9-08 12:08 AM
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It is absolute bullshit to say Saddam was a creature of the US. After the Iranian revolution he was the enemy of our enemy, and therefore had uses. But he was a creature of the Soviets, and their power games in the ME.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 08- 9-08 12:23 AM
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180,
Really? How do you explain this:
http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB82/

Note, the analysis above is from US Govt archives. Also,
there is a nice photograph which I separately link below:

http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/42293000/jpg/_42293264_saddam_getty.jpg

The US archival documents about US-Iraq relations are here:
http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/nsa/publications/iraqgate/iraqgate.html

Here is an article from the Times, London on the sale of biological and chemical weapons to Iraq by the United States:
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/article807098.ece

He may not have been the US' "creature" as some other dictators have been in the past, but he did get a *lot* of support, and ironically the same people who sold him weapons of mass destruction with the full knowledge of how he was going to used them made it an excuse to get rid of him when he overstepped his bounds.


Posted by: The Blue Flautist | Link to this comment | 08- 9-08 1:50 AM
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Just a remark: I don't mean to make this an argument about the US involvement in creating current conditions, since I think this is not going to be of much value. My argument is that moral considerations are most often only matters of convenience in foreign policy, whether American or any other nation's. International relations between countries work according to pretty darwinian principles, and international law is usually a matter of convenience (and only enforced by victors). For example, the export of dual use material by US companies with US commerce department authorization, even after it was clear that weapons of mass destruction were being used probably violated international law, but it is hardly likely that the parties involved on the american side will ever be punished.


Posted by: The Blue Flautist | Link to this comment | 08- 9-08 2:17 AM
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LizardBreath: Fundamentalists and Atheists United Against Creeping Agnosticism is one of the many sideshow mindfucks perpetrated by some character or another in the Illuminatus trilogy by Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea. I think it's a Markov Chaney gag but wouldn't want to swear to that at this distance or state of coherence.


Posted by: Bruce Baugh | Link to this comment | 08- 9-08 2:41 AM
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A bit depressed that not only regional expertise, but a man in Tbilisi haven't resulted in a bigger bump in traffic...


Posted by: David Weman | Link to this comment | 08- 9-08 10:03 AM
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184: Thanks for the heads up. Will be checking back.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08- 9-08 10:18 AM
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But he was a creature of the Soviets, and their power games in the ME.

They'd have said much the same. I figure he'd play anyone off against each other, and did. After all, it's good to be the king (i.e. hit didn't give a rats ass about the `larger picture')


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 08- 9-08 10:40 AM
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