Relying on the International Community

The U.S. should work with the international community, so let’s give President Bush the telephone number of the international community. Who should he call/meet? What do we expect the international community to do? Who is the international community?

How about the UN? The United Nations has 191 members. About half are unrepresentative of their people, but put that aside for now. That is 191 separate interests. Does the UN represent the international community? If you get the UN to agree to something, what can you expect the UN to do?

Maybe NGOs are the international community. But there are millions of NGO and anyone can set one up. Watchblog readers could form an NGO today and claim we represent all bloggers. Would we? Greenpeace is an NGO, so is the NRA. They agree about what? When you get a bunch of NGOs in one room they claim to represent would opinion. I suppose they do in that they can't agree on anything and generally fear and loathe each other. So if the President wants to work with this international community, who is he going to call?

The U.S. has allies. Some are almost always good friends. Others are friends, but tend to be wearisome. Still others call themselves allies, but work against us most of the time. What allies have in common is that they are independent. They will not stand with us always and everywhere, so we have to work with flexible coalitions.

Donald Rumsfeld endured pundit ridicule for talking about coalitions of the willing, but he was right. It makes no sense to expect allies to do whatever you want. The U.S. does not do that for its allies and we cannot expect it from them.

Probably the most successful alliance in the history of the world is NATO. NATO endured for more than half a century because members did not really have to do anything except defend themselves and contribute to a common defense (cf. article 5). Everyone could agree on that. And the bad guys (the communists) were widely acknowledged to be really bad.

But the key to NATO was and remains the United States, which does most of heavy lifting and almost all logistics. This wonderful setup ensured peace in Europe since WWII and allowed the development of the EU, but don't forget that this Kantian edifice is built on the bedrock of the Hobbsian reality of U.S. power.

What does the world look like without U.S. power? Darfur or Rwanda give you an idea. Re Darfur, where Muslims are being murdered in their thousands without evidently upsetting the Muslim street at all (a few cartoons are much more inflammatory) Kofi Annan recently begged our "cowboy" in the Whitehouse to ride to the rescue (read supply military). President Bush responded with a proposal to expand the UN peacekeeping with a NATO stewardship.

Sudan President Omar al-Beshir knows that a NATO force might actually be effective, so he withdrew his support for a UN force. But UN is really concerned and upset. Maybe they will pass a resolution. So tell me again, what can we, what can anyone expect from the international community?

The "international community" knows who to call when there is trouble. Who do we call?

Posted by Jack at March 23, 2006 5:36 PM
Comments
Comment #135557
Probably the most successful alliance in the history of the world is NATO.

This was true until about ten years ago, when the European Union “EU” for short, became far more successful than NATO ever was.

Posted by: bobo at March 23, 2006 6:19 PM
Comment #135559


One of your best posts Jack, but … Can you not reverse the argument and ask “Why aren’t we helping to build the international community?”

When you have a record of ignoring them, why should they bother? And I do believe Kant was joking, btw.

:) Squeaky

Posted by: Squeaky at March 23, 2006 6:27 PM
Comment #135572

Bobo

The EU is a different sort of organization. And it still relies on NATO for its defense. There is a lot of overlap of membership, but NATO assets are not EU assets.

The EU is a great enterprise made possible by NATO. Without security, you can’t move on to the higher pursuits.

Posted by: Jack at March 23, 2006 6:59 PM
Comment #135574

Great question. Why couldn’t Bush have asked this question 6 years ago before he and his administration started trash talking the world?

Posted by: Max at March 23, 2006 7:05 PM
Comment #135579
What does the world look like without U.S. power? Darfur or Rwanda give you an idea.

Huh? I didn’t notice that during these two genocides US was powerless.
Or do you mean that nobody was behind US to actually do something? Not even US itself?
Can’t agree more.

What does the world look like without US power, you asked? Well, it looks like a world where US is not the unique power but where several, indeed smaller powers are at work. Looks more like the today reality, it’s not 1945 anymore. don’t you think?

Regarding UNSC, yes it’s not reprensative of international community, agreed. But you and me are two citizens of one of the few permanent members that rule the UNSC. Are we ready to drop this 1945 anochronism to move to a more international membership? Ready to lost our veto power? Ready to lost a little bit of power, actually?

To play more fairly with the international community everyone have to lost some power and agree that he’s not above others. Obviously, it’s harder to the #1 than to all others…

The “international community” knows who to call when there is trouble. Who do we call?

You don’t have, we (the international community) will. And had: check international reactions after 9/11 and Katrina for examples.
But when did US called that loud for worldwide help? I didn’t remember.
“It’s us or them” hardly qualify as an invitation to join, but more as an ultimatum (and a stupid one). Even in Iraq case, still too proud to accept the 2003 summer UN proposition to join and take more responsabilities in Iraq reconstruction?

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at March 23, 2006 7:25 PM
Comment #135585

Phillipe

U.S. power still is the main force to keep to world from becomming like it was not in 1945, but maybe 1939 - September.

Of course, the U.S. can’t do it alone. I worry about both the U.S. being trying to do it alone and others making it do it alone.

Rwanda and Darfur are cases where the U.S. was not involved. The same could be said for Bosnia and Kosovo at first. Not good.

You French have bases in Chad and could easily protect civilians in Darfur. Among the allies, only you and the UK have the ability to independently carry out a complex operation.

I am not too enthusiastic about the UN. The record is not good, and we need to recall that many of the states are not Democracies and some of oppressive. Since it works on consensus, somebody like Robert Mugabe can stop the show. In fact that is precisely what has happened in Darfur.

Europe can be Kantian because the U.S. backs it up in Hobbes’ world. Maybe some day the whole world can just get along, but probably not soon.

Posted by: Jack at March 23, 2006 7:42 PM
Comment #135595

The UN and NATO are both dead. That does not mean an international community does not exist.

Aside from his duties as Commander in Chief, President Bush is also Chief Diplomat. So, I suppose my question would be, “where’s the diplomacy?”

Posted by: Zeek at March 23, 2006 9:29 PM
Comment #135602

Zeek

The questionable term is “community”. We might have a series of bilateral relationships and some groupings, but no community.

Americans have a blind spot about this. We tend to see the world as U.S. and foreign, forgetting that foreign is a big and diverse category.

Think of when people say we should learn foreign languages. Which ones? The average person has trouble learning even one other language when he gets to use it a lot. Which one?

For non-English speakers, the question is easier. They learn English. English can be used all over the world. No other language has that reach.

Posted by: Jack at March 23, 2006 11:07 PM
Comment #135605

eh philippe, pardonnez mon francais! je aimez votre beau langage! mon epouse michelle brouillard et francais elle et les mieux truc celui jauais avinrent a moi! plaisez pardonnez les pauvre francais! bon pour un riions!! bon adieu, rodney brun… hope you get some of that! i think the film, jean de florette with gerard depardieu is fantastic !.

Posted by: RODNEY BROWN at March 23, 2006 11:53 PM
Comment #135610

Jack,
After 5 years of telling the international Community as well as the UN to take a hike, it is good to see the Republicans realize that the New World Order Global Sustainable Community is going to see Nations & Societies lead instead of the Corporation. Yes, no government is perfect, but it sure does a better job of protecting the Citizens than the CEO’s of Corporation.

Now the question is for President Bush over the next 3 years is how does the American People want the “Better World” that “We the People” was promised by The Elders & Powers-that-Be of the 70’s. Certainly a poverty level expected to raise to over $33,000.00 in the Near Future will effect every Market of the World if nothing is done.

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at March 24, 2006 1:40 AM
Comment #135614

[off-topic]

Rodney,

eh philippe, pardonnez mon francais! je aimez votre beau langage! mon epouse michelle brouillard et francais elle et les mieux truc celui jauais avinrent a moi! plaisez pardonnez les pauvre francais! bon pour un riions!! bon adieu, rodney brun… hope you get some of that!

I did… I think. ;-)
I like when in english you say “pardon my french” right before an insult. It’s very ironic :-)
I’ve discovered since years that there is many french expressions living in english, as there’s english ones well living in french.

Anyway, the best in french is when it’s spoken by a french woman, right?
;-)

i think the film, jean de florette with gerard depardieu is fantastic !.

Now that’s a “cliché”! The most recent french movie successfull in US should be “La marche de l’empereur”, aka “March of the Penguins”. Did you see it? These days frenchies are the vilains in Hollywood productions, it seems. Let’s hope nobody consider these penguins as french-tainted ones! ;-)
[/off-topic]

Yeah, France screw its “france-afrique” policy. We should have do something in Darfur and we should have NOT be neutral/hypocrital in Rwanda issues.
I guess US failure in Somalia will haunt UN members for years still. Not an excuse for turning eyes the other way!

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at March 24, 2006 5:28 AM
Comment #135615

Jack,

I think the EU has far overshadowed NATO now. What are NATO’s “assets”, exactly?

Posted by: Woody Mena at March 24, 2006 6:24 AM
Comment #135616

This seems like an argument in semantics to me. For starters, we have Old Europe (meaning Western), and everybody who’s bailed on our coalition of the (token) willing. Yes, we have allies, but distance has grown, and we’re not getting as much out of our old relationships as we once did. You only have to look at what Clinton managed in his time, especially with Kosovo, and what his father did with the Gulf War to understand what real cooperation is.

But hey, that’s just details. It shouldn’t matter whether our coalition allies in this fight are contributing anymore than a few hundred soldiers apiece, or whether they have been taking up enough of the burden to lighten the load on our taxpayers and soldiers. No, to measure things that way would be the practical approach. All Bush needs is the appearance of people being with him, enough to go tell his political rivals at home that he built a coalition just like his father. If that is not the case, why is our mission not more internationalized? Go and take a look at coalition casualties, and see how many of them died or were wounded, compared to us.

It just seems to me that Republican governance and policy has become about winning debate points against the Democrats rather than productively solving problems.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 24, 2006 7:25 AM
Comment #135625

Henry

It depends on which government. Most people historically and most people today live under governments that do not protect them and treat them much worse than you would expect from a U.S. corporation

Woody

The EU and NATO are different and do different things. NATO does not concern itself very much with trade and the EU does not concern itself very much with defense.

NATO “assets” are the troops and equipment dedicated to NATO or at the disposal of commanders. These are the things that defend Europe, both EU and non-EU. EU countries are big contributors, but the assets don’t belong to the EU (i.e. the EU has no control over them as the EU) and non-EU members contribute most of them. The U.S. is the biggest contributor by far, but other non-EU members such as Canada, Norway and Turkey occupy strategic real estate and make essential contributions to the common defense.

Of course many EU members are not members of NATO. They enjoy a free ride at the expense of their neighbors, but this is not new. The burdens have never been shared equitably.

Without NATO and the guarantees it provides, the EU would probably have to develop a robust defense strategy. I am not sure they currently have the organizational capacity to do so, given the consensus nature of EU deliberations. Clearly without NATO, the EU would have to spend a significantly greater percentage of its collective GDP on defense.

But this would upset the whole system. Some countries, such as UK, France or Poland, are committed to defending themselves. Others are a little more naïve and have convinced themselves that the world is not very dangerous.

They have lived so long under NATO’s protective umbrella that they have forgotten that it sometimes rains.

Posted by: Jack at March 24, 2006 9:04 AM
Comment #135629

Jack,

My recollection of the beginning of the Iraq invasion regarding getting international support goes something like this: We don’t need to get international support, because it’s not important and we do everything anyway. Not only is it not important, but let’s face it most other countries suck anyway and we don’t really even want their help. In fact, moving forward, we plan on disregarding most international treaties and laws, because, let’s face it, only our opinion counts. Hey! It was a little like your post!

Anyway, it turned out that international support would have been very, very helpful. At the least it could have helped combat the notion that it is just the United States and England that believed Sadaam should be ousted. It would have put more pressure on other countries to find Osama. It would have given us more credibility in the Arab world. Without giving us anything material, it would have helped tremendously to be able to claim the world was with us when trying to win over the hearts and minds of many Arab peoples. This is support we could have easily gotten after 9/11 but were either too lazy or too proud to bother getting.

Posted by: Max at March 24, 2006 10:00 AM
Comment #135632

Max

Your recollection is incorrect. President Bush went to the UN and tried to build support. So did Colin Powell. American diplomats spent many hours on planes to world capitals.

Many countries wanted Saddam ousted, but they knew they did not have to do it and that they could later complain. It is the free rider problem again.

We also had other interests involved. French, Russian and Chinese firms were making fortunes on the oil for food corruption. Any one of these countries can veto any UN action and they more or less promised to do so.

In the end, the U.S. had the support of the majority of the countries of the EU at the time of the invasion. The French, Germans and Beligians were notable exceptions. But then we have the problem of capacity. Most countries cannot send much in the way of help and most cannot project power at all.

So world help would have been very useful. But the “world” was not going to do anything about Saddam. The UN passed 17 resolutions against him, but had no intention of backing them up. The situaiton in Darfur now is very similar, which is why I mentioned it. It was also the same case in Kosovo or Bosnia. YOu may recall that we did not have the “world” support in Kosovo. The Russians and the Chinese were very much against the action there. But since in this case the U.S. was bailing out a failed Euro policy, we had most of the W. Europeans on board.

Even in that case, however, the U.S. flew more than 90% of all the sorties. Second place, BTW, was the Netherlands.

Posted by: Jack at March 24, 2006 10:19 AM
Comment #135635

Jack,

OK, let’s name names here. Who are these naive free-riders who don’t realize how dangerous the world is? And who is NATO protecting them from?

Posted by: Woody Mena at March 24, 2006 10:39 AM
Comment #135649

Jack,

And the world was right and Bush was wrong. The war was a bad idea and unnecessary.

I paraphrase:

“We should never unilaterally enter war without at least one culturally similar Allie fully invested with us.” McNamara

Posted by: Max at March 24, 2006 12:12 PM
Comment #135650

Anybody who could quote Robert McNamara to defend a position on war is either terribly young or terribly confused. Have you forgotten Vietnam? And wasn’t it McNamara who wanted to unilateraly invade Cuba during the Cuban missile crisis, a move that would have touched off World War III? Who would the “culturally similar ally” have been in that little nuclear tea party?

Posted by: Bill M. at March 24, 2006 12:21 PM
Comment #135652

Jack,

“Your recollection is incorrect. President Bush went to the UN and tried to build support. So did Colin Powell. American diplomats spent many hours on planes to world capitals. “

Maybe the UN realized that the fake 3D models of biotrains, and mustard gas factories that Powell presented were a sham.

Unless you would like to show me proof that they are real.

Posted by: Vic at March 24, 2006 12:27 PM
Comment #135655

Jack,

We also had other interests involved. French, Russian and Chinese firms were making fortunes on the oil for food corruption. Any one of these countries can veto any UN action and they more or less promised to do so.

Like the US wasn’t interested in Iraq Oil… Didn’t warmongers state that Iraq oil will fund *alone* the war? Like only these three nations are implicated in Oil For Food corruption. I think some US businessmen are too, no? Like US military industrial complex were not pushing their own interests in this war… Like Iraq War was not decided long ago at White House way before international community was shamefully intimate the famous “it’s us or them”.

Reducing the failure of US to get international support to just these 3 nations is quite unfair. There was and still is many interrest involved…
Your sentence seems to imply that’s all Russia, France and China fault if US didn’t successfully build an internationaly force for Iraq War. I’m inclined to think that US (lack of) diplomacy play an even greater role here.

In the end, the U.S. had the support of the majority of the countries of the EU at the time of the invasion.

By countries, you mean their governments, right?
Because, as spanish had shown since, the EU people was not. Not by far. The french was not the most radical, BTW. Germans and spanish people were even more against. Plus I don’t remember the exact number, but IIRC only 8 EU nations signed the “we support US Iraq War” letter. 8 vs 25. Hardly a majority. Oh, wait, you still think EU is only made of 12 nations???

The French, Germans and Beligians were notable exceptions. But then we have the problem of capacity. Most countries cannot send much in the way of help and most cannot project power at all.

Yep. These “exceptions” - which by the way were at least following their people will- are, bad luck, ones of the few that could have provided non-minimal power and logistic. Sometimes, it’s not about quantity but quality too. The now famous “he forgot Poland!” joke and their 200 guys on the ground, you know…

So world help would have been very useful. But the “world” was not going to do anything about Saddam.

They did during Gulf War. This time the rational was not enough there, that’s all. And even most of americans starts now to see this lack of rational. Iraq was NOT a thread to US. Most probably was never one.

Yeah, I agree, all these resolutions for nothing.
All these vetoes! Regarding Middle East, did you see how much resolution about Israel vs Palestine?
Many right. Does, again, it’s the same 3 UN “vilain” permanent members that block them? Didn’t this conflict unrelated to Iran, Iraq, Syria, and more generally terrorism these days?
Who’s the most veto’olic UNSC member, already?

Please stop playing the game “US vs UN”. US *is* part of UN. US *created* UN. US *funds* UN. US *is* actually the most powerfull UN member. Ever was, still is. See how Bolton locks most of Annan reforms plan. Without US agreement, UN is pretty much nothing. Which is fine. But with *only* US agreement, UN is *also* pretty much nothing. Which is how it should be.

You can’t blame UN without blaming all its members for their collective failure to agree and to reform UN. It’s include France, Russia, China but also, none the least, US too. Sorry.

You may recall that we did not have the “world” support in Kosovo. The Russians and the Chinese were very much against the action there. But since in this case the U.S. was bailing out a failed Euro policy, we had most of the W. Europeans on board. Even in that case, however, the U.S. flew more than 90% of all the sorties. Second place, BTW, was the Netherlands.

Maybe because dropping bombs from high altitude isn’t:
- the way EU nations think we should stop people killing themselves
- possible for most EU nations considering their bombers old technologies.

But, yeah, EU Defense was and still is very weak. Things as evolved a little bit since, at least.

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at March 24, 2006 12:41 PM
Comment #135656

Vic,

Maybe the UN realized that the fake 3D models of biotrains, and mustard gas factories that Powell presented were a sham.

Actually, that was even worst than that: most of world people realized it, thanks to live UN sessions. That was like a very bad B-serie movie.
Ridiculous.
And insulting.

Which never get you support.

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at March 24, 2006 12:44 PM
Comment #135658

Charles DeGaull took France out of the military arm of NATO in 1966 and for the next 27 years, France did nothing to help NATO defend Western Europe from the Soviets. In 1993, after the Cold War was indeed cold, as in dead, France rejoined the military arm of NATO. Yep, the French are the first ones I’d call on if I needed help! And as far as the European Union is concerned, wasn’t it France who tried to keep some the former Eastern Block nations from joining? And France has spent the last several years trying to hijack the EU for it’s own purposes. Sorry, Phillipe, you guys just aren’t mature enough to play with the older kids.

Posted by: Bill M. at March 24, 2006 1:04 PM
Comment #135659

Jack,

I know this is off post, but I know how concerned you are about Global warming. Here’s some important breaking news from our president.

http://www.transbuddha.com/mediaHolder.php?id=1147

Sorry - I had to post that!

Posted by: Max at March 24, 2006 1:07 PM
Comment #135667

I read the initial post from Jack and a few in response to that.
Talking about NATO in 2006 is like quoting Queen Victoria to a modern girl or woman. Times have changed. Military power or arrogance are passe. It is time for peace around the world.
And please Jack, fortify your argument that most of the UN member States are not representative of their peoples. Does that include the US, UK, India, Bangladesh, Malaysia, France and Germany- not to speak of the rest of “Old Europe”?
How are inconsequential “banana republics” relevant to world peace?

Posted by: Hariharan Balakrishnan at March 24, 2006 1:39 PM
Comment #135673

Max

I think if I were president and I knew then what I know now, I would not have invaded Iraq. But the world didn’t know any more than Bush did. You will recall that the Russians and many of the Arab states warned us that Saddam would use WMD. That presupposes they thought he had it.

Beyond that, we don’t know what the situation would be had we NOT invaded. If we had stood down in January 2003, the sanctions would be off (since indeed as we learned Saddam didn’t have WMD) and Saddam would be free to do what he wanted. U.S. troops would still be in Saudi (they were there to safeguard against Saddam), which is Bin Laden’s big problem with us. And Al Qaeda would be concentrating on attacking us in Afghanistan instead of Iraq. I am not sure we would be better off.

Woody
European countries not spending much on their defense are free riders. We could argue about the extent. Absent the NATO umbrella, do any non-NATO members of the UN spend enough on defense to actually defend themselves in a dangerous world?

Philippe

I am sorry if it looked like I was reducing it only to those three countries. The U.S. failed with its diplomacy. My point is not that we did a really good job, but that also it was not in everyone’s interests to get rid of Saddam and that some people had the means and did resist.

And by countries I mean governments, i.e. those able to commit their countries resources

Re the UN - we need the UN and many of the things the UN does are very good. Generally, however, the UN operation in Geneva does the good work and the UN operation in NY is the political part. The UN does not do collective security very well. The U.S is part of the problem and part of the solution, but I am not sure what the solution is going to be.

The EU had not expanded at the time of the Iraq war, so you are right about my count. I was thinking European, not EU. But the EU also did NOT oppose the war. You know better than I do the acrimonious discussions.

And your President did your country no favors in E. Europe when he essentially told the Poles, Czech and Baltics that they should be seen and not heard.

The other important point is still, what can most EU countries do in a security situation? France and the UK can field an independent force. I don’t think (although I am not sure) that any of the other EU members can. And the EU itself has minimal capacity without borrowing from NATO. And you know you can’t just move military as pieces on a chessboard. Coalition warfare is always tricky. Any operation the EU ran would be coalition warfare.

Re Kosovo - I will be provocative (sorry) the U.S. bailed the Europeans out in Kosovo. It was a Euro problem that Europeans could not solve without the U.S. Beside being an ally to Europeans and the humanitarian aspect, we really had no dog in that fight. Kosovo showed the limits of European soft power. So did Bosnia for that matter.

You know what they say about soft power in a crisis? It is like trying to nail Jello to a wall.

Bill

France has been a good ally most of the time. We have an uneasy rhetorical relationship, but it is really only in the Iraq situation were we had a serious disagreement. France has its own interests, as we do. Philippe makes some good points.

Hariharan

Most of the trouble is caused by the non-democratic regimes.

We still need military power. Maybe some day not, but now yes.

Think about something most people forget. Piracy. Since you mention Queen Victoria, the Royal Navy made the seas safe for trade. Now the U.S. Navy does it.

Or think about the tsumani. The whole world sent help and almost all that help reached the people who needed it ONLY becuase of U.S., UK and Australian military transport.

We Americans have a history of being in the postion much of Europe is in today. Back in the 19th Century, we had the de-facto protection of the Royal Navy. We talked trash about Brits and didn’t think we needed it. But we did. When British power declined, we had to step in to defend ourselves, and it was no longer possible to talk like that. Childhood ends.

Posted by: Jack at March 24, 2006 2:05 PM
Comment #135674

Jack:

As usual, you are putting up a straw man and beating him up. Today, the straw man is the “international community.”

Everybody knows this expression is a concept. There are no individuals or groups that comprise the “international community.”

When we say that America should be concerned with the “international community” we mean that we should pay attention to the needs, desires and aspirations of other people in the world.

This administration did not give a damn. In terms of the Iraq War, we ran roughshod on everyone: the UN, some of our allies and even citizens of the U.S. who objected. This is no way to “protect” a country.

Posted by: Paul Siegel at March 24, 2006 2:08 PM
Comment #135676

Paul

You actually got my point. There is no international community.

I was beating up on the concept to prove exactly that.

Posted by: Jack at March 24, 2006 2:12 PM
Comment #135678

Jack
Once again you are talking about small countries, and big mercies from the US. Please remember that times have changed- and the world is changing. Piracy is of another genre today. Queen Victoria is history!
You talk of most counties affected by tsunami on Christmas eve before last depending on largesse from the US. Did India take that help when offered? The response was, “Thank you, but we can handle it ourselves”. The sentiment is respected, but not the kind of view you represent- that a lot of countries wait at the doorstep of the US with a begging bowl.

Posted by: Hariharan Balakrishnan at March 24, 2006 2:23 PM
Comment #135680
The EU is a different sort of organization. And it still relies on NATO for its defense. … The EU is a great enterprise made possible by NATO. Without security, you can’t move on to the higher pursuits.

Jack,

Who (i.e., what countries) is NATO protecting the EU from? Personally, I think if NATO disbanded tomorrow there would be very few new security concerns for the EU.

Posted by: bobo at March 24, 2006 2:44 PM
Comment #135682

Hariharan:

I’m glad India said “No, thank you.” And that is exactly what America should say to every country that comes looking for a handout.As long as one American child goes to bed hungry, as long as one American family is living in their car, as long as one American has no access to GOOD health care, as long as, well, you get the picture. The United States spends more in foreign aid than all the other countries of the world combined. And much of thay money goes to timhorn dictators who use it to maintain an army to keep themselves in power.

Not one dime of an American’s tax dollars should leave this country until we have taken care of our own people.

Posted by: Bill M. at March 24, 2006 3:04 PM
Comment #135683

Jack,
Maybe President G.W. Bush could have asked his father for those phone numbers?

Posted by: Darren7160 at March 24, 2006 3:10 PM
Comment #135684

Jack,
Paul,

“You actually got my point. There is no international community.
I was beating up on the concept to prove exactly that.”

His father didn’t seem to have a hard time finding one… so possibly you can find a way to discount that bit of history?

Posted by: Darren7160 at March 24, 2006 3:12 PM
Comment #135687

Darren

There is a difference between making scores of calls to individuals, groups and nations and having a community.

Bobo

The EU has plenty to defend. Do you really think nobody would want a piece of that pie? As in a civil society, most people obey the law most of the time. But when there is nobody watching some people don’t. And if left alone, their numbers grow.

You don’t hear serious calls from anyone in the EU to disband NATO. There is a reason for that.

Harihan

Piracy is different because the U.S. Navy and some regional powers patrol the seas so well.

All of us have lived in this time of protection so long we can easily think this is a natural condition.

Re India and small countries - yes smaller countries depend more on world “services” provided by big ones. India is a regional power and can better take care of itself.

What you are seeing now, BTW, is a growing partnership between (among?) the U.S., UK, Japan and India to maintain prosperity. It really is true that someone has to do it.

Posted by: Jack at March 24, 2006 3:25 PM
Comment #135688

Jack,

I think if I were president and I knew then what I know now, I would not have invaded Iraq. But the world didn�t know any more than Bush did./blockquote>

Yet, somehow they all knew this war was a bad idea… Huh…

Beyond that, we don’t know what the situation would be had we NOT invaded. If we had stood down in January 2003, the sanctions would be off (since indeed as we learned Saddam didn’t have WMD) and Saddam would be free to do what he wanted.

More likely the sanctions would have continued until Sadaam’s government was completely overrun of its own accord. They certainly would not be a threat. Thank you Bush Sr.

U.S. troops would still be in Saudi (they were there to safeguard against Saddam), which is Bin Laden’s big problem with us. And Al Qaeda would be concentrating on attacking us in Afghanistan instead of Iraq. I am not sure we would be better off.

Heavens I wouldn’t want to do anything to piss off Bin Laden! And it would really be horrible to be working with Afghanistan, whose people really seem to want us there. I notice our work in Afghanistan has been successful without us having to spend trillions of dollars.

Posted by: Max at March 24, 2006 3:33 PM
Comment #135697

Max,

Thank you.

Posted by: Vic at March 24, 2006 4:39 PM
Comment #135709

Jack,

I’ve read your original post three times now and it’s clear you’re sincere about the need to involve the rest of the world in things we do that will affect them, such as invading sovereign nations on the flimsiest of premises. But I guess I can’t seem to comprehend where you explain why it is necessary now, but was not necessary slightly more than 3 years ago. I just looked one more time but still no cigar.

For starters, why would NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) have any interest in getting involved in the Middle East, which is nowhere near the North Atlantic?

A lot of people from around the world and across the US pleaded with Bush and the neo-cons in his administration to give the inspectors a little longer, to try anything short of invading and deposing Saddam. But they just would not hear of it. Now you’re saying that organizations like NATO, the UN, etc. need to come in and and clean up the mess Bush and the neo-cons have made, is that correct? Please explain the logic behind that.

By all rights, the rest of the UN should have stood up against the so-called coalition of the willing (more like the coalition of the bought and paid-for) on the side of Saddam. But I think we can all agree that the UN belongs in the dustbin of history right beside the League of Nations.

Posted by: spongeworthy_us at March 24, 2006 5:49 PM
Comment #135712

Max

The sanctions were on because Saddam didn’t prove he didn’t have WMD. If he had proved that, the sanctions would be dropped. Therefore, if the UN came to believe he had no WMD, the sanctions would be off. Then he could once again make WMD.

So why do you think the sanctions would stay on and why do you think his government would have fallen on its own? Especially after facing down the U.S., he would have been in a very strong position.

Sponge

I am not saying that organizations like NATO and the UN should come in. I am saying that such organizations generally won’t. We still don’t have an international community that can take any hard choices.

But if we are talking history, you have to pick up both ends of the stick. If we did not invade and depose Saddam, Saddam would not be deposed. The situation in the region is not ideal now, but do you really prefer Saddam AND a Saddam without sanctions (see above).

Posted by: Jack at March 24, 2006 6:05 PM
Comment #135720

Jack said:

If we did not invade and depose Saddam, Saddam would not be deposed. The situation in the region is not ideal now, but do you really prefer Saddam AND a Saddam without sanctions (see above).

I guess I would have preferred Saddam NOT deposed and Saddam WITH sanctions. And I would have preferred some 2300 of our troops NOT dead, however many wounded NOT wounded and however much of our national treasure flushed down the toilet NOT flushed down the toilet rebuilding infrastructure for a nation of ingrates.

The conservative in me says (now and always before) that not one life, not one limb and not one thin dime of this nation’s resources should have been wasted on Iraq. How anyone can call him/herself a conservative, while at the same time consider it worthwhile to have wasted anything on the tin-pot dictatorship that was Iraq, is simply way, way beyond me.

The statement of yours I blockquoted above stongly implies a) there was no choice but to depose Saddam and b) there was no choice but to invade without backing of more of the world than the coalition of the bought and paid-for. I think you’re wrong about that. But the Bush admin would have it no other way than to invade and depose Saddam.

I’ve heard no reasonable argument that we couldn’t have left Saddam in power, yet enforced the sanctions and verified no illegal WMD programs without loss of life, limb or treasure.

Posted by: spongeworthy_us at March 24, 2006 7:13 PM
Comment #135722

Jack,

“The questionable term is “community”. We might have a series of bilateral relationships and some groupings, but no community.”

Fair enough. I don’t really want to get into a debate about definitions so I’ll concede that rather than working with the international “community” the U.S. needs to communicate with the world at large in a more diplomatic fashion.

The rest of your post rather detracts from my point, which was that diplomacy is needed. I suppose language and cultural differences would be a barrier, but it is first necessary to want to have diplomatic relations in the first place for such things to even be important.

Posted by: Zeek at March 24, 2006 7:15 PM
Comment #135736

Sponge

Who was enforcing the sanctions? U.S. and UK planes were risking themselves every day.

Why did we have sanctions? To stop WMD.

Who supported sanctions besides us and some immediate allies? Almost nobody.

You could not have Saddam WITH sanctions. It was not an option by 2004.

You should take a look at this article. Much of it is opinion, of course, but there are some facts, such as the sanctions had to be reauthorized every two years. They were up in 2003. Do you really think they would have been reauthorized? So you got Saddam going after the Kurds and the Shiites and rebuilding his WMD program. He was not going quietly into that good night.

Beyond that, the same sorts of people who are now talking about all the problems in Iraq were estimating that sanctions were killing 50,000 Iraqi children every year (lack of medicine and good nutrition). These numbers were too high, but they were widely believed.

I know the Bush critics like to think that somehow Saddam would just have faded away, but there is no reason at all to believe that. So supporters have to deal with the chaos of post-Saddam Iraq. Critics must admit that they prefer Saddam’s tyranny.

Zeek

Diplomacy is always a good thing, but sometimes it doesn’t work.

Think of the cases of Kosovo, Bosnia, Rwanda, or today Darfur and Congo. Words and sanctions don’t stop the bad guys. They stop killing and dispossessing only when they are stopped or I suppose when they run out of people to kill.

Posted by: Jack at March 24, 2006 8:44 PM
Comment #135740

Jack
It is nobody’s case that the US should support dictators across the world with money that rightfully belongs to the American poor and their welfare. That precisely is what lots of governments of both parties have done for the past few decades. And how much does it spend on wars abroad, and how many of its citizens are made cannon fodder to defend and uphold “democracy” according to its own definition? And in whose interests, ultimately? Much of the gloss of American action on such pretexts has gone since Vietnam.

Posted by: Hariharan Balakrishnan at March 24, 2006 9:16 PM
Comment #135743

Hariharan

Yeah, the world should be more grateful for all we do.

I am only half joking. As I mentioned, my study of history tells me that Americans were very ungrateful and unaware of how the Brits made our easy existence possible in the 19th Century. They protected our sea lanes etc. to a very large extend and they made the world economy possible. In the period between about between the World Wars, nobody did these things (the Brits were becoming too weak and the U.S. was not yet ready) and the world went to hell.

Post war the U.S. and its allies did the job and we saw the longest period of growth and general prosperity in the history of the world.

Posted by: Jack at March 24, 2006 9:24 PM
Comment #135744

Jack:

You should take a look at this article. Much of it is opinion, of course,

No, it’s all opinion and from a highly dubious, partisan source, hence not germane.

Who was enforcing the sanctions? U.S. and UK planes were risking themselves every day.

Yep. How many Americans were killed, how many were injured and how much did we spend enforcing those sanctions? Answer: None, few (if any) and a minute fraction compared to how much the invasion and overthrow have cost so far plus however much it’s going to cost us in the next 10 years…

Do you really think they would have been reauthorized?

Yes, I do. With the theater put on by Colin Powell at the UN, I think we could have tightened the sanctions with no problem. There was no way the UN was going to remove them or even loosen them. Now I ask you: what makes you think they would not have been reauthorized?

Who supported sanctions besides us and some immediate allies? Almost nobody.

I’m sorry, I don’t see your point. Who supported the invasion and overthrow besides us and some immediate allies? Almost nobody. The point is that the cost has been and will continue to be much greater having invaded. So what is your point?

You could not have Saddam WITH sanctions. It was not an option by 2004.

Why not? According to whom? We’d had Saddam in power with sanctions since, what 1991, 1992? What all of a sudden happened in 2003 (not 2004) that made 12 years of containment no longer feasible?

He was not going quietly into that good night.

Nobody said he was. The good thing about that NOT happening is that Iraq was HIS problem; now it’s our problem. I would still like to see you address why 11-12 years of tight containment was no longer good enough in 2003.

So you got Saddam going after the Kurds and the Shiites

As a conservative, I look on that as the Kurds’ and Shiites’ problems. How is that my problem? How is that your problem?

and rebuilding his WMD program.

Other than the cherry-picked evidence found by Cheney’s and Wolfowitz’s special ops team, there was nothing pointing to the WMD programs being reconstituted. In any event, this was still not adequate cause for invasion.

I know the Bush critics like to think that somehow Saddam would just have faded away, but there is no reason at all to believe that.

I’d appreciate you posting any evidence to support the factuality of this.

So supporters have to deal with the chaos of post-Saddam Iraq.

How do you figure that only supporters (of whom? Bush?) have to deal with it? Seems to me that a) all Americans have to deal with it and b) it’s probably going to take someone who does not support (Bush) to take the bull by the horns and get us out of there. He’s already said it’s unlikely we’ll be out of there before he’s out of the WH.

Critics must admit that they prefer Saddam’s tyranny.

Straw man. As a conservative, I’m a critic of Bush and of the war in Iraq. But, as a conservative, Saddam’s tyranny was never a concern of mine, nor should it have been a concern of any conservative. The only reason it seems to be a concern of those who call themselves conservatives is because it is the Achilles heel of the Republican party, a once-conservative party .

Posted by: spongeworthy_us at March 24, 2006 9:41 PM
Comment #135748

Re the article AEI is a conservative source, but it has a reputation for being factual. It is interesting that you close your mind so completely. I usually read the sources people give me and then either change my mind or (mor commonly) find specific problems. The only fact I was drawing was that sanctions needed to be renewed.

When I say who supported sanctions?, I am just showing that it was a dying beast. Not to mention that the oil for food was being flagrantly abused.

There are several reasons why the containment wasn’t working. For one, the sanctions were weakening with every month. Second, the U.S. was forced to maintain them and others were giving up on it. Third Saddam allowed inspectors only because of the large U.S. buildup. We could not have maintained those troops in Kuwait and Saudi for much longer.

We had a time table dictated by the seasons and ability to maintain forces.

As for posting my evidence that Saddam was not fading, I think the onus is on you to indicate why you think he was. There was no internal threat strong enough to take Saddam out. He had survived much worse If you can name some reasons why he would be out, I would be interested. I have never heard any serious analysis that contended he was on his way out. And his sons were in line to follow him.

The Dalfour report that didn’t find WMD did find that Saddam was maintaining the ability to reconstitute. It is not cherry picked.


So you are not concerned about what happens in the Middle East. We cannot argue about values, only facts and assumptions. If that is what you think, I just disagree.

Posted by: Jack at March 24, 2006 10:07 PM
Comment #135757

Jack,
Post WWII, there was a certain idealism in the US, and maybe a sense of guilt for what was done to Hiroshima and Nagasaki. At the same time, military power became a tool in the hands of politicians and strategic thinkers to consolidate economic power in the future world. The continuing mess in the oil-rich Arab world is testimony to this analysis. Meanwhile, the multinationals that have thought of the world as one huge market pitched in with their clout in the political game. These are perhaps the worst culprits responsible for the US propping up dictators across the globe. The American war machine/industry has developed a deeply entrenched vested interest to have war simmering at one part of the world or the other. The ultimate price was paid with human lives- mostly ‘elsewhere’.

Posted by: Hariharan Balakrishnan at March 24, 2006 11:32 PM
Comment #135759

Hariharan

Nobody felt guilty about the war.

There were plenty of dictators before the U.S. and there were more dicators in the places least affected by U.S. power.

We did make mistakes in the Middle East. But there were no democracies there before. Now that we are trying to help bring a better system, everyone says it is impossible, that the region can’t have it. That goes to show the mind set is not only or particularly American.

Posted by: Jack at March 24, 2006 11:43 PM
Comment #135773

What is the “American mindset”? In any society, none can arrogate to himself representation of the mindset of an entire people- least of all in a dictatorship. In a democracy, there are institutions to safeguard the larger interests of the society. The point I am making is that, in the name of “safeguarding and promoting democracy”, successive governments fo the US have worked to promote the contrary objective.

Posted by: Hariharan Balakrishnan at March 25, 2006 1:34 AM
Comment #135774

Hariharan

It is really hard to gage the influence of a country so diverse and omnipresent as the U.S. But you do see a corelation between where the U.S. is heavily involved and democracy.

I can’t think of any place that is not a democracy today BECAUSE of the U.S. The Middle East is the place of our greatest failure. For a generation we traded what we thought was stability for freedom. But the dictators and potentates were indiginous. I don’t recall any Arab democracies before the U.S. was around.

We did not always live up to our highest ideals, but can you think of anyone who has even come close to doing that?

The U.S did mostly the right thing since at least the 1980s in Latin America and E. Europe. We started doing the right thing in the Middle East with this Administration, but we don’t know how that will work out yet.

Posted by: Jack at March 25, 2006 1:55 AM
Comment #135793

Jack,
Even Today’s U.S. Corporations are worried about the “God Almighty Dollar” before the health and welfare of even one empolyee. And yes, we can site Nation after Nation who has oppressed their Society in order to keep the Heirarchy in Socety intacted. However, if The Children of the 70’s learned anything about the Mistakes of both The Elders & Youth of the 60’s it is that both “Lack of Imagination” & “Total Incompetence” to Intelligently Design “The Future Economy.”

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at March 25, 2006 7:41 AM
Comment #135804

Henry

I don’t believe in intelligent design in evolution and I don’t believe politicans can intelligently design the economy. In both cases, evoltution (the interplay of various factors - “a market”) is the best way to go.

For all the gnashing of teeth, most people are better off than they were in the good old days.

Posted by: Jack at March 25, 2006 10:07 AM
Comment #135813


Jack,

I am confused about your position … Are you saying that the war on Iraq was a mistake, but that now we are there, we should give them democracy? Why was it that we needed to depose Saddam? Would you support war in Iran for the same reasons? Please explain exactly your idea, thanks.

Squeaky

Posted by: Squeaky at March 25, 2006 11:02 AM
Comment #135841

We shouldn’t care what happens to the rest of the world? We shouldn’t care about the suffering of people under the bootheel of a murderous dictator because it is their problem? That is excactly the kind of isolationist thinking that led us into two world wars. You think the six million Jews slaughtered by Hitler would have appreciated a little “concern” on the part of the U.S. and others at a time when it would have made a difference? It’s that same kind of thinking that led the world to stand idly by while Stalin butchered millions of his countrymen. But, then again, maybe you’re right. Maybe we aren’t our brother’s keeper after all. But, just out of curiosity, I wonder how you’d feel if it was your brother, or sister or mother or wife or daughter that was being butchered, raped or tortured? Reminds me of the TV movie plot about the female lawyer who defended a rapist she knew was guilty, got him off, then was herself raped by him.

Posted by: Bill M. at March 25, 2006 1:09 PM
Comment #135850

Squeaky

My position is based on decision criteria.

Based on information available at the time, I believe the decision to invade Iraq was good. Based on information now available, I would not have done it at that time or in that way. It is not a mistake, anymore than it would be a mistake to predict that ten flips of an honest coin would not produce ten heads in a row – even if someone subsequently flipped ten heads.

In any case, the action has now been taken and the question is what to do now. The invasion has produced a good outcome in getting rid of Saddam and we have achieved remarkable progress. We are learning how to better overcome the insurgency with the clear, hold and build strategy. This is a big change in strategy from the initial post invasion.

So with this preamble, let me get to your precise questions.

Was it a mistake? No. That does not mean that everything went perfectly or the implementation was flawless. But judged on the basis of what we knew then and the resources available it was good.

Democracy - now that we have toppled Saddam, we have no choice but try to establish democracy. From the time of Roosevelt until 2001, we valued stability over everything else in the Middle East. That gave us neither stability nor democracy. Maybe democracy will not work, but let’s give it a chance.

Saddam was a very bad guy sitting on a very large resource. That is what made him dangerous. Saddam had declared war on us. He was openly trying to hurt us in any way possible. The only thing keeping him from doing it was his relative weakness, and given conditions of 2003 he was about to get stronger if we did nothing.

Would I support the war for the same reasons? No. WMD was one of the big reasons to go to war. This turns out not to have been valid. Other reasons, such as Saddam’s general threat to peace, breakdown of sanctions, and his general desire to harm the U.S. would be better reasons.

It is always easy to THINK we know what we should have done. But each choice brings consequences. We could have not attacked Saddam in September 2002. By January 2003, with the big U.S. buildup in progress, NOT invading would have been a disaster, since it would have told our enemies (as our retreat from Somalia or our lack of response to USS Cole did on a much smaller scale) that they could attack the U.S with impunity. They would have been emboldened and we would be fighting lots of little conflicts now much closer to home.

What some critics do is assume that all the good things would have happened by itself, while all the negative consequences could have been avoided. That is not true.

Posted by: Jack at March 25, 2006 1:45 PM
Comment #135865

Jack,

“Diplomacy is always a good thing, but sometimes it doesn’t work.”

However, you are implying that it works most of the time. Yet, interestingly, the Bush administration never practices it. This is a particularly bad problem as it weakens our position in the global “community” (or whatever you want to call it).

“Think of the cases of Kosovo, Bosnia, Rwanda, or today Darfur and Congo. Words and sanctions don’t stop the bad guys. They stop killing and dispossessing only when they are stopped or I suppose when they run out of people to kill.”

You bring up a good point, which leads me to two responses:
1)In cases such as these, force is needed.
2)That doesn’t mean we cannot get allies on our side through diplomacy.

Posted by: Zeek at March 25, 2006 3:32 PM
Comment #135932
There is a difference between making scores of calls to individuals, groups and nations and having a community.

LOL! Jack, what do you think a community is? It’s a network of relationships that you have to spend time nurturing. Reagan understood that, as did Bush Sr. and Clinton — and they all reaped rewards from the work they put into it.

President Bush doesn’t work hard for anything. He makes a decree, and then wonders why stuff doesn’t happen the way he wants it to.

Based on information available at the time, I believe the decision to invade Iraq was good. Based on information now available, I would not have done it at that time or in that way.

Based on information at the time, the rest of the world — and many in the US — believed the decision to invade Iraq was bad. Based on information now available, it’s clear we were right.

No one wanted Saddam to stay in power, and — as you say — we should not have “done it at that time or in that way.” You guys could have made the right decision, but you were too busy demonizing Blix, ElBaradei, and Annon… and the French and the Germans and the international community.

Now, of course — and thanks to mistake after mistake — President Bush has the tiger by the tail, and, lacking any kind of exit strategy, he plans to leave resolution of the crisis to his successor.

If I had voted for that guy, I’d be pissed.

Posted by: American Pundit at March 26, 2006 9:44 AM
Comment #136448
Based on information available at the time, I believe the decision to invade Iraq was good. Based on information now available, I would not have done it at that time or in that way.
Finally, the first glimmer of reality! The rest is nonsense of course. You do know that to equate invading Iraq with the off chance that someone would flip 10 heads in a row (1024:1 by the way) supports the “don’t invade” camp? Desperate times call for desperate measures? Posted by: Dave at March 28, 2006 5:34 PM
Comment #136572

Hi Jack,

That last question was whether you would support war in Iran (not Iraq).

Also, you didn’t specifically say why Saddam was such a ‘bad guy’. You believe that, at the time, Bush really thought he’d use WMD against USA?

Thanks,
Squeaky

Posted by: Squeaky at March 29, 2006 7:56 AM
Comment #137043

Jack,

“There is a difference between making scores of calls to individuals, groups and nations and having a community.”

I love this… if you are losing an argument you change the definitions. Is it no wonder most people want to just pull their hair and run screaming?

I was going to include a definition hoping that we could come to an agreement but there seems to be many different ones. How can a discussion be made when we always have to define what “is” is?

The community is made up of individuals. Each with their own perspective and their own needs and wants. It isn’t a group of submissive minions behind a castle wall awaiting the next order.

Was this President Bush just supposed to pick up a phone, call a number and reach an “international community”? Please!

I don’t know if you are unwilling to ever concede a point and thus willing to belabor a definition… of you just don’t understand, which could be why there is such a misconception on the part of the conservatives as a whole.

My neighbor has no right to demand I agree with him and follow his lead. We are in a community though… he may call the other neighbors and try to persuade them…

If making phone calls and building a coalition as the first President Bush did, wasn’t working with the international community… then possibly you can give us a definition?

Posted by: Darren7160 at March 31, 2006 4:58 AM
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