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Sunday, March 23, 2003


Those here for tax law and uninterested in my Iraq opinions should skip this post.

Matt Welch posted this:

Best Moment on the BBC Tonight: A female guest, I think some Iraqi-Brit student, stormed out of the studio after pressing the other guest, an anti-war Iraqi, on whether he was anti-Saddam or not. �I think Saddam knows his country and has done great things,� the old geezer said, or thereabouts; college gal sputtered something about not believing her ears, and stomped off.

What follows is most, but not all, of the comments:

I heard that too. Her response was powerful, his was chilling. I oppose this Iraq war (that is war without explicit U.N. authorization), but hearing people like that "peace" activist is keeping me away for participating in demonstrations. (Of which there are plenty. Protesters have shut down several intersections around my building. There number is fairly small, but I have never seen protesters shut down streets so effectively and peacefully.)
Those of you who support the war need to find a tape of that BBC broadcast. It will make for a devastating straw man to discredit thoughtful opponents by smearing them with the likes of that Saddam supporter.

Looks like before I wrote the above post, Instapundit had already used Matt's post for the smearing-the-protesters purpose.

Yeah ... I just wish we could all get past those "straw-man" arguments and all the overheated reactions on both sides ... the stuff that always comes up and makes it so difficult to talk reasonably with one another about the steps we're taking and the fate of our nation.
It's so much more American, in my opinion, to actually respect and appreciate the attempts of others to offer an opinion and to discuss what we're doing as a nation.
Posted by William Swann at March 20, 2003 11:22 AM

"I oppose this Iraq war (that is war without explicit U.N. authorization)..."
Can you explain to me why we need non-citizen approval to defend ourselves? And please, don't say it's because it's about international law.
Posted by Cooter at March 20, 2003 01:28 PM

Cooter -
You commit the fallacy of the complex question, and another whose specific name I can not identify, but that I believe is a form of begging the question.
1. No, we do not need outsider approval to defend ourselves. I was glad the Security Council approved our war in Afghanistan, but I would have supported that war without U.N. authorization for exactly the reason you suggest. But, I have not been convinced that Saddam poses any threat to the United States. Links between Saddam and Bin Laden are fewer than links between Bush and Bin Laden, by which I mean both are like linking Kevin Bacon to Bin Laden. If he got the bomb, I believe he would not threaten the U.S. with it, but would use it as a deterrent to prevent us from attacking him, leaving him free to retake Kurdistan and attack his neighbors. But the U.S.? Not bloody likely.
2. "And please, don't say it's because it's about international law." This is asserted without explanation. Why not? You are right, this is not about international law, despite Bush's claims that it is, which have not apparently even convinced you. I want it to be about international law. I do not believe Saddam is a threat to the U.S., but he is as evil as they come, and needs to be wiped out. But he should be wiped out in a way that deters other dictators. I'm looking long term. In game theory, deterrence requires a link between actions and consequences. The Afghan war did that well. The lesson was, "If you attack the U.S., the U.S. will destroy your regime." Good lesson. Attacking Iraq with U.N. authorization would teach the following lesson: "Disobey international law, and the U.N. will destroy your regime." Good lesson. What is the lesson of this attack on Iraq? "If you kind of make the U.S. nervous, they may or may not destroy your regime in a decade or so at their whim." Bad lesson. If you are a rattlesnake and you see an otherwise peaceful gorilla smash another snake that bit him, you might decide not to bite the gorilla. But if the gorilla seems to be hunting snakes regardless of what they do, maybe you should strike first. At the very least, the gorilla is not in a position to stop you from doing anything, since you figure it might try to kill you anyway. This war harms international law and makes the world and the U.S. much more dangerous places to live.

Decnavda's argument would have some merit if Bin Laden and his pals owned a time machine.
Posted by Floyd McWilliams at March 20, 2003 07:18 PM

Decnavda: "Disobey international law, and the U.N. will destroy your regime."
What? When has the U.N. ever destroyed a regime for disobeying international law without the help of the U.S.? Wasn't Saddam disobeying international law? And who's destroying his regime? Not the U.N., unfortunately. Besides, the U.S. and Israel seem to be the only two nations the U.N. ever desires to subject to "international law."
Posted by Joel at March 20, 2003 08:11 PM

Read my post again. Your selective quote was entirely out-of-context. I said that would be the message if we attacked with U.N. authorization. International law exists by custom, but you are right, the U.N. has been bad (okay, virtually non-existent) at enforcing international law. I want it to start doing so. You said its unfortunate that the U.N. is not doing so, so it sounds as if we agree on that point. And the U.S. taking international law into its own hands is counter-productive.
Floyd -
A time machine? Huh? I literally have no idea what point you are trying to make. Please explain.

Decnavda: You claimed that violating international law would make America less safe. Bin Laden and crew attacked us 18 months before the attack on Iraq. Usually causes precede effects.
Anyway, we have not been attacked by Foreign Policy Quarterly. Fundamentalist Muslim terrorists do not care one whit for international law. Bin Laden complained about the loss of Spain and alluded to the failure of the Ottoman siege of Vienna. He doesn't give a damn whether the Great Satan gets a Security council majority.
Posted by Floyd McWilliams at March 21, 2003 03:43 PM

Floyd -
1. Black & White thinking: There are not 2 "safety conditions� in the world, "Safe" and "Dangerous". There are degrees. The world was not perfectly safe before we attacked Iraq, now it will be less safe.
2. Ambiguous Terms: I never claimed that 9/11 was caused by our attacking Iraq. Indeed, I mocked the existence of any "links" between Saddam and Bin Laden.
3."Fundamentalist Muslim terrorists do not care one whit for international law." True. Because it is not enforced. Kidnappers do not care one whit for national law. But there are significantly fewer kidnappings in San Francisco than in Mexico City. That is because we enforce our anti-kidnapping laws better. And to return briefly to point 2, Saddam is not a "Fundamentalist Muslim terrorist". He is a secular Arab dictator. In my comments, I have explicitly supported our self-defense attacks on the Fundamentalist Muslim terrorists in Afghanistan.

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