Topic: War with Iraq is not in America's national interest
Hi, I saw this posted by a user on hatrack, and I read it through. Despite the fact this petition was signed by some pretty smart people, these are some really valid points, some of which people really ignore.
WAR WITH IRAQ IS NOT IN AMERICA’S NATIONAL INTEREST As scholars of international security affairs, we recognize that war is sometimes necessary to ensure our national security or other vital interests. We also recognize that Saddam Hussein is a tyrant and that Iraq has defied a number of U.N. resolutions. But military force should be used only when it advances U.S. national interests. War with Iraq does not meet this standard.
¨Saddam Hussein is a murderous despot, but no one has provided credible evidence that Iraq is cooperating with al Qaeda.
¨Even if Saddam Hussein acquired nuclear weapons, he could not use them without suffering massive U.S. or Israeli retaliation.
¨The first Bush Administration did not try to conquer Iraq in 1991 because it understood that doing so could spread instability in the Middle East, threatening U.S. interests. This remains a valid concern today.
¨The United States would win a war against Iraq, but Iraq has military options--chemical and biological weapons, urban combat--that might impose significant costs on the invading forces and neighboring states.
¨Even if we win easily, we have no plausible exit strategy. Iraq is a deeply divided society that the United States would have to occupy and police for many years to create a viable state.
¨Al Qaeda poses a greater threat to the U.S. than does Iraq. War with Iraq will jeopardize the campaign against al Qaeda by diverting resources and attention from that campaign and by increasing anti-Americanism around the globe.
The United States should maintain vigilant containment of Iraq -- using its own assets and the resources of the United Nations -- and be prepared to invade Iraq if it threatens to attack America or its allies. That is not the case today. We should concentrate instead on defeating al Qaeda.
Robert J. Art Brandeis University Richard K. Betts Columbia University Dale C. Copeland University of Virginia Michael C. Desch University of Kentucky Sumit Ganguly University of Texas Charles L. Glaser University of Chicago Alexander L. George Stanford University Richard K. Herrmann Ohio State University George C. Herring University of Kentucky Robert Jervis Columbia University Chaim Kaufmann Lehigh University Carl Kaysen MIT Elizabeth Kier University of Washington Deborah Larson UCLA Jack S. Levy Rutgers University Peter Liberman Queens College John J. Mearsheimer University of Chicago Steven E. Miller Harvard University Charles C. Moskos Northwestern University Robert A. Pape University of Chicago Barry R. Posen MIT Robert Powell UC - Berkeley George H. Quester University of Maryland Richard Rosecrance UCLA Thomas C. Schelling University of Maryland Randall L. Schweller Ohio State University Glenn H. Snyder University of North Carolina Jack L. Snyder Columbia University Shibley Telhami University of Maryland Stephen Van Evera MIT Stephen M. Walt Harvard University Kenneth N. Waltz Columbia University Cindy Williams MIT
in summary: we dont really know he has such weapons so we shouldn't go in. if he does have them we shouldn't go in because he might use them, but he wont use them because he knows that if he does we will go in. But we shouldn't go in because it might hurt. But even if it doesn't hurt we shouldn't go in because we dont really want to spend the time to stick around and clean up the mess.
This is what hugh hewitt calls the "its not my dog, it didn't bite you, you kicked it first anyway" defense.
They say that the standards haven't been met, but basically set it up so that they can never be met. If these people didn't have the initials after their names, and they turned this in as an essay, they would get majorly dinged for logical fallacy.
(edited to replace cant and will with should)
[This message has been edited by maniacal_engineer (edited October 01, 2002).]
Of course the opening post completely ignores the point of view of many people of equal or superior imminence who are in favor of such action.
I also would like to note that what was missed was this:
quote:Institutions listed for identification purposes only.
Indicative of the fact that the organizations themselves that these individuals belong to do not support their position. A bit disengenuous to leave that out don't you think? The University names I suppose are given to add weight to the unknowns who want their opinion known?
Whatever these people think, or don't think, I agree with the conclusion. War with Iraq is NOT in america's best interests. We want the next attack on american soil to be a legitimate act of war? Frankly, I don't.
Look, Saddam Hussein is a madman. But we put him there, we gave him chemical weapons, and he hasn't used any of his WMD on citizens of other nations yet. In fact, he hasn't made an aggressive move against another nation. We're saying that a war of aggression is in our national interests. Thats what it is, and all the flag waving, slogan shouting, fear mongering in the world won't change that. Should we get Saddam out? Yup, but not via war.
"Saddam Hussein is a murderous despot, but no one has provided credible evidence that Iraq is cooperating with al Qaeda"
This is true, and will likely remain true for the foreseeable future.
"Even if Saddam Hussein acquired nuclear weapons, he could not use them without suffering massive U.S. or Israeli retaliation"
This is true, but the question is whether he would use them anyways. I think its been proven he is a survivor rather then a radical terrorist, so I suspect the answer is "no."
"The first Bush Administration did not try to conquer Iraq in 1991 because it understood that doing so could spread instability in the Middle East, threatening U.S. interests. This remains a valid concern today."
Also true, but Our Glorious Commander in Chief is limited in his understanding.
"The United States would win a war against Iraq, but Iraq has military options--chemical and biological weapons, urban combat--that might impose significant costs on the invading forces and neighboring states."
See above regarding liklihood of use in non-war situation.
"Even if we win easily, we have no plausible exit strategy. Iraq is a deeply divided society that the United States would have to occupy and police for many years to create a viable state."
Probably true, though not assured.
"Al Qaeda poses a greater threat to the U.S. than does Iraq. War with Iraq will jeopardize the campaign against al Qaeda by diverting resources and attention from that campaign and by increasing anti-Americanism around the globe."
Probably true, as Iraq has shown no aggressiveness towards teh US, other then possible links TO Al Qaeda, where Al Qaeda still has operational control, and so is more dangerous.
It still amazes me how few people realize that, IF bush's claims about Al-Qaeda being linked to Iraq are true, that war on IRaq means that if the pentagon has a plane crashes into it, those aren't "innocent civilians" anymore, nor would those in a public building such as the empire state building, be "innocent civilians." They would be casualties of war.
quote:It still amazes me how few people realize that, IF bush's claims about Al-Qaeda being linked to Iraq are true, that war on IRaq means that if the pentagon has a plane crashes into it, those aren't "innocent civilians" anymore, nor would those in a public building such as the empire state building, be "innocent civilians." They would be casualties of war.
Now hold the phone, Ev, let's take a look at that for a second.
Are you seriously saying that in a wartime situation, it's actually a legitimate tactic to TARGET a civilian population? Or are you somehow implying that those in the Empire State Building would become some sort of soldier in this war?
The fact is that WHATEVER the state of war/peace we are at with Al Qaeda/Iraq/whoever, civilian casualties will ALWAYS be "innocent civilians" especially if they are the target of an attack.
Now, you might be able to make a case for 'collateral damage' but I think that would still be stretching it.
I agree with your post, except for that little bit of button pushing. Shame shame.
On the other hand, seeing as how the president DOES have access to information that we DON'T, I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt . . . at least until he proves he doesn't deserve it. People might say he's already proved that. However, I think there's been a remarkable number of 'coincidental' fortunate twists in his administration.
Don't get me wrong, I don't think he's infallible or anything, but I don't think we should be condemning him QUITE yet. I've ALWAYS gotten the impression that he takes rather extreme stances specifically because when the Democrats (or others who disagree) push back, he ends up with exactly what he wants.
So . . . what do you want to bet this ends up with a new U.N. resolution regarding inspections, a congressional resolution that allows him the freedom he needs to enforce that unilaterally (but not much else) and Iraq eventually backing down on inspection restrictions because it looks like they're gonna get plastered?
I could be wrong. I often am. But until I see some sign that we really ARE going to war, I'm going to reserve judgment.
Anyway . . . that's my thoughts on the subject. Was mainly just reminding you not to exaggerate, Ev.
[This message has been edited by Falken224 (edited October 02, 2002).]
Nate- While I think that civilians SHOULDN'T be targets during war, the fact remains that they ARE. If we go to war with Iraq, Iraq will take any actions against our population that they can, and this may include civilian targets. And, they, while "innocent" will also be "civilian casualties of war."
On a related matter, it could probably be argued that any civilian of a democratic nation that delcares war is a war target because that civilian supports a government that has declared war, and if you remove enough of those people the government will have to change its stance. I don't, personally, buy this. But then, Saddam probably would.
Anyrate, the above post is accurate... maybe a bit of button pushing, but if we declare war on Iraq, civilians WILL be targets, and they will be at least semi-legitimate targets, as established by Allied Doctrine during WWI and II
quote: Are you seriously saying that in a wartime situation, it's actually a legitimate tactic to TARGET a civilian population? Or are you somehow implying that those in the Empire State Building would become some sort of soldier in this war?
Sorry Nate, but when I read this all I could think of was Hiroshima.
quote:While I think that civilians SHOULDN'T be targets during war, the fact remains that they ARE.
True enough. Actually, I didn't even intend to disagree on this point. Just wasn't clear. Here's the one I was trying to make.
quote:And, they, while "innocent" will also be "civilian casualties of war.
I leaped to the assumption that you were saying "innocent civilian" and "casualty of war" were not able to be applied to the same individuals. To me, 'casualty of war' legitimizes a death, though it is still tragic. ("well, those are the consequences") So . . . it sounded to me like you were saying "if we jump into this war, we deserve what we get." At which point I would have to disagree. An attack on a civilian population is never a legitimate tactic. Such actions are ALWAYS terrorism. Anyway, I think we agree, I just misread your post and jumped to a few conclusions you hadn't intended. (Though I still think you were guilty of attempted devious manipulation . . . you sly devil, you.)
Clarifications and/or Random Thoughts:
The classic Dresden (??) example . . . I don't know much about the Dresden firebombing, but from the discussions on the board, here, I belive that WAS an act of terrorism, and should have probably carried the appropriate consequences.
Germany's bombing of London was terrorism. It served little, if any, military purpose. Its main goal was to 'inspire terror' in the British and convince them to just roll over and quit. The fact that it didn't work and that the RAF thoroughly trounced 'em, or that it was during war, doesn't matter.
To Viking, specifically,
Now I get to Hiroshima & Nagasaki Hiroshima & Nagasaki. There are exceptions for these, I think, and at the same time, I have a hard time rationalizing them completely. From what I understand we'd pretty much destroyed Japan anyway. IIRC all the major cities had already been firebombed to the point where more damage had been done than would have been if they'd been nuked. While Hiroshima was mostly a civilian city, there were valid military targets there. It was about the only place left for a valid . . . 'demonstration'.
And the fact that it WAS a demonstration proves that it was designed to inspire fear. But, do you count the civilian casualties as 'collateral damage' since there were no OTHER, more valid military targets left? (a 'fact' I am by no means sure of, BTW, so feel free to correct me) Or, does it count as a strike on a civilian population (with a VERY thin military rationalization) and thus meet all the guidelines of 'terrorism'? If you add in a desire to end the now LONG war as quckly as possible, I think that I can 'forgive' or rationalize or whatever, the decision to nuke Hiroshima. But I will admit it's a fine line.
Nagasaki I have a bit less sympathy for, though it had less 'rationalization'. The Japanese called our bluff. "You don't have two of those things," they said. And they were wrong. No, that doesn't make it right, but the Japanese gambled and lost.
Now I'm prolly gonna get hammered for that last paragraph, but I'll let it stand.
Anyway . . . good points, I admit to both Ev and Viking.
[This message has been edited by Falken224 (edited October 02, 2002).]
Nuking Hiroshima was necessary if the US was to insist on unconditional surrender. The alternatives: a) continued and greater fire-bombing of cities, one-by-one, with many more Americans killed and more Japanese cities destroyed, and no certainty of when the war would end. b) physical invasion. Extremely high American casualties; as well as Japanese. Mostly combatants. c) economic blockade -- unlikely to end with unconditional surrender until so many Japanese are starving that it will be virtually impossible for America to "win the peace" after the war.
Compared to the non-unconditional surrenders since that time, and their aftermaths, history teaches me that getting the surrender, and using it wisely, is worth the killing. If you’re going to be involved. Rebuilding Afghanistan may be a chance to demonstrate this, but it might well be very sub-optimal. Rebuilding Iraq may be a better option.
The "rules of war" certainly oppose targeting civilians, but it's not clear to me that the life of a soldier is less valuable than that of civilian. If soldier's lives are not less valuable, then such rules of war, which value them less, must be suspect.
Everard suggests an interesting aspect of democracy: where if a gov't of the people decide to kill others, their self-defense against that gov't and its supporters implies some moral culpability on the part of the "civilians". In more graphic Vietnam era terms, compare an 18 year old against the war with a 58 year old who supports it. A system that basically says it's OK to kill the 18 year old but it's terrible to kill the 58 year old can't be such a great system. And rules of war aren't -- 'cause War is Hell.
The gates to which have already opened. (quick edits)
[This message has been edited by Tigger (edited October 03, 2002).]
quote: It still amazes me how few people realize that, IF bush's claims about Al-Qaeda being linked to Iraq are true, that war on Iraq means that if the pentagon has a plane crashes into it, those aren't "innocent civilians" anymore, nor would those in a public building such as the empire state building, be "innocent civilians." They would be casualties of war.
quote:Are you seriously saying that in a wartime situation, it's actually a legitimate tactic to TARGET a civilian population? Or are you somehow implying that those in the Empire State Building would become some sort of soldier in this war?
What still amazes me is how few people in the US, in the US media and even on this Forum (OSC and LR being some of the few) realize that both of the quotes above have a myopic self-centered, chauvinistic view of the issue. We will never be able to resolve the real problems (peacefully or through war) if we keep insisting that OUR perspective is the only one that counts.
Let's leave the moral issues aside for a minute, I'll get back to them later. From a practical standpoint, in a war situation it is CRITICAL to be able to think like your enemies, even when and especially if you do not agree with them. The questions of whether WE consider the civilian casualties in a hypothetical future attack on the "empire state building" to be casualties of war or of whether it would be done by Iraq or Al-Qaeda are moot!
What really matters is what millions of Arabs who publicly support both Iraq and Al-Qaeda think about the attack on the WTC that already happened. We must realize that from their perspective, the attack was a legitimate attack on the financial center of the corporations that have been "invading" their lands (under various different national flags) for more than a hundred years and drawing "meaningless" national boundaries that the local population "never accepted". From their perspective (and they might have a point) the border between Iraq and Kuwait is meaningless and was created for the benefit multinational Oil companies ignoring the culture, ethnicity and history of the area. If they want to fight the influence of the Oil companies in their region, the WTC was the obvious and "legitimate" choice, the Pentagon was a secondary target by comparison.
Note that I placed several words in the last paragraph in quotes because I do not agree with them. However, if you listen to what THEY say, these are the words THEY use.
As long as they think that our financial system is their enemy and that they have a chance of defeating it through terrorism, some of them would consider it legitimate. Considering THEIR culture and its emphasis on honorable revenge killing and on the worship on strength, they will continue to send individuals to attack the people in charge of our economy unless they have reason to believe that we will retaliate with overwhelming force that will completely annihilate their tribe. Many of them are culturally honor bound to fight against the infidels and will only negotiate a truce/surrender with adversaries that are not only powerful but also honorable according to THEIR standards. If we want them to stop attacking us, we must either live up to their concept of honor (not easy - they are a more honorable people than we are in the west) or annihilate their culture completely. Another alternative is to accept their attacks as inevitable, forget about trying to stop them and go on with our lives.
So getting back to the moral issues here, I think that ignoring the point of view of our hostile enemy is either mindless or irresponsible. It is neither in our national interest nor in the interest of our individuals to view the conflict only from our own perspective and to argue the moot points of whether it is war or terrorism and whether the dead are civilians or military. Both our interest and our moral imperative are to try and minimize the casualties (on both sides but first of all on our side) by gaining a better understanding of the culture that has chosen to attack us.
[This message has been edited by seagull (edited October 03, 2002).]
I think it's all a matter of perspective. The Arabs who attacked us don't consider what they did to be terrorism. A lot of people the US attack consider themselves terrorized, and sometimes they might be right.
I'm going with the general interpretation of terrorism as, "Senseless acts of viloence that serve no purpose other than to scare the shtit out of people."
Nagasaki and Hiroshima were no doubt acts of violence--but senseless and without purpose? If they were acts of terrorism, then it was terrorism that won the war and eventually allowed us to bring a nation into the worldwide community.
On the other hand, bin Laden had a sort of sense (falliable, though) and definite purpose when he sent those young men on their last flight. But I would say he grossly miscalculated thinking that the US would just sit back and take it like a licked puppy.
Actually, I think Bin Laden got exactly the type of response from America he was looking for (although I think he figured his personal safety in Afghanistan was not quite as tenuous). The only question is the response from the rest of the Islamic world to that response. So far, I'd say he miscalculated, but the game is not nearly over, nor will it be for quite some time. Mike
Posts: 1352 | Registered: Dec 2000
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Seagull: "So getting back to the moral issues here, I think that ignoring the point of view of our hostile enemy is either mindless or irresponsible. "
Did you read the Ornery essay on peace ... meaning submission? I think our US national interest is in real peace, which might well require that Arabs really submit.
Insofar as we want to force some form of "nation-state" gov't structure on them, in order that our gov't can deal with their gov't, we have been doing a lousy job. We should, for instance, be supporting more elections for local mayors and city councils, with real budgetary authority, so that they get more used to real democracy (since we're unwilling to really force any other form of gov't on them.)
OSC wrote about blood being spilt, awhile ago. I have this feeling that the 50 years of oppressive "temporary" refugee camps for the 700 000 Palestinians who were "terrorized" out of Israel in 1948, are slowly becoming a "Palestinian people/nation", and will soon be ready to form a nation-state. This is something they have not really been ready for in the past. The blood they are spilling, in suicide bombing, seems no less necessary for their side, than the blood Israel spilt in its '48 formation founding war and the '54 & '67 (6 day) & '73 wars (I think I missed one).
The Palestinians have lost. They have literally lost "their" land OK, Jews had bought some 8-10% before '48. But they're not dead, nor living as conquered. So they still resist the loss.
I think their suicide bombing is bad -- but I don't think I can fully condemn it unless there is another way I think they can use to "win" back their land. And I don't think there is. I think they need to develop a national consciousness able to accept their loss. And start building a future.
(spell edits; no spell checker here?)
[This message has been edited by Tigger (edited October 04, 2002).]
quote:Did you read the Ornery essay on peace ... meaning submission? I think our US national interest is in real peace, which might well require that Arabs really submit.
Do you mean the Peace, as opposed to Peace essay? I think it is one of the best ones on this site and I had it in mind when I posted above. When it gets down to the question of whether we should go to war and make them submit, I am firmly on the side that says "My survival comes first so we have to make them submit".
But I do recognize that some pacifists (Everard?), appeasers, and myopic moralists may not share this view with me. I think it is important even for them to recognize that we need to understand the perspective of our enemies rather than judge them according to our own relative standards. I think this is something that we can and should reach a wider consensus on both in this forum and in this country (the US). We don't all have to agree on the tactics, but at least we can agree on the need for better understanding of the enemy.
If we do not do that, how can we call ourselves moral or honorable? Why should we expect to get away with such arrogance and not be attacked by the culture that we so haughtily dismissed out of hand?
[This message has been edited by seagull (edited October 04, 2002).]
quote:The Palestinians have lost. They have literally lost "their" land OK, Jews had bought some 8-10% before '48. But they're not dead, nor living as conquered. So they still resist the loss.
Did you know that I was born and grew up Israel and that I served my three years in the IDF before I became a US citizen?
The issues are much more complicated than you describe. You can find out much more (details like dates and wars etc) at http://www.us-israel.org/jsource/myths/. It is gives the Israeli point of view but the documentation is pretty good.
Yes, what happened to the Palestinians in 1948 is a tragedy. But there were many other people (India, Pakistan, Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Bosnia) who suffered even larger tragedies since then and recovered from them. The families of three of my coworkers here in the US families lived in Cambodia, Iraq and Pakistan during tragic times after 1948. The one from Cambodia lived through the Pol-Pot massacres (she lost a brother to starvation). The one from Iraq identifies more closely with England or Kuwait (where he spent several years than with Iraq) the one from India … Just a minute - didn't I say he was from Pakistan? No! Ask him where he is from and he'll say India. It was only after a year of knowing him that I found out that his family were 1948 Pakistani "refugees" in India.
So you may ask what is my point. Does the fact that other people got over their tragedies make the Palestinian tragedy any smaller? No it does not. The Palestinians are suffering from another and bigger tragedy that did not afflict the other refugees. It is not the "loss" of "their" land or the so-called "Israeli occupation" that causes their real and continuing tragedy. It is the refusal of their leaders to accept the facts and to surrender. It is also the refusal of their Arab brothers to accept them as refugees and help them settle down and go on with their lives. As the "Peace vs. Peace" article says, Israel's myopic morality in 1948 and 1967 may have had something to do with their refusal to submit. But Israel is slowly learning how to become a middle-eastern country. It is devoting great efforts (much bigger than the US) to understanding its enemies and it may be smart enough not to make the same mistake again next time.
quote:I think their suicide bombing is bad -- but I don't think I can fully condemn it unless there is another way I think they can use to "win" back their land. And I don't think there is. I think they need to develop a national consciousness able to accept their loss. And start building a future.
Your support or condemnation of suicide bombings is irrelevant. Personally, I think that these suicide bombers and the people who train them are condemning the next generation of Palestinians to a life of tragedy courtesy of Israeli self-defense and continued bad leadership. But that is probably irrelevant too.
But just for kicks, lets get closer to (your) home. How would you feel if I paraphrased your sentence as follows:
"I think Hitler's invasion of Checkoslovakia is bad -- but I don't think I can fully condemn it unless there is another way I think they can use to "win" back what they lost in WWI. And I don't think there is. I think they need to develop a national consciousness able to accept their loss. And start building a future."
I think it would have been smart not only to condemn it but to nip it in the bud with military action. But I guess there were too many others who could not fully condemn it so they did nothing and waited for Hitler to come to their doorsteps.
I wonder how your Slovak wife and her family would feel about my paraphrase?
How close to your home does the war need to be before you not only condemn it but decide to take action?
Certainly the Munich Betrayal made WW II much worse -- the first CSR (? - Czechoslovakia) defenses included large numbers of excellent guns which were all surrendered to Hitler as he annexed the Sudentenland.
Today, the Benes Decree (returning Pres.) expelling all Germans & Hungarians after the war, has become a minor issue against the Czechs & Slovaks of the 3.5 m Germans who were expelled (by the Czechs; the Slovaks did not expel the Hungarians, so have a 10% minority which is often a minor political issue). The Decree is still "in force", but ignored, so as to not reopen any compensation claims, etc. This is an EU expansion issue. It's also clear evidence of how "ethnic cleansing" was used and approved by the US and allies after the war.
My wife feels the US, or somebody, should have helped Hungary in their '56 anti-commie rebellion, and the CSSR in the '68 Prague Spring anti-commie protest.
But my current Mid-East point is this: the Palestinians lost. They need to give up and get over it. That's my advice, my premise.
The terrorists & their supporters are willing to fight to the last man (?), so they don't accept my premise that they've lost. IF I accept their premise (which I don't), then there is a question about tactics. It is in this respect that I don't condemn them; I'm not sure I have better tactics to offer. (i.e. ML King style non-violent protests, pressure in and on the US to offer US citizenship to all Israelis and immediate immigration visas, the US spending some 10-50% of their "aid to Israel" on buying Israeli land, and renting it to Israeli-Palestinians, etc. I have lot's of maybe ideas, but none that I think are really fine.)
I would advise Hitler, for instance, not to invade Crete with his few paratroopers, but rather Malta – as a matter of tactical advice for his goals of winning.
Another interesting aside is criticism of the WW II Pope for "not doing enough" to oppose Hitler; this has become a recent fad because of disillusioned/ anti-conservative (gay supporting?) Catholics wanting to attack the current Pope. In fact, many Jews alive at the time thought the Pope had done a great deal to save thousands of Jews. In a certain sense, the critics are condemning Pope Pius for not being a "suicide protester".
You ask about how many deaths before taking action. Since I have confused/ conflicting feelings that Sharon may be using too much oppression, let me rephrase it more specifically: how many terror deaths before I cease condemning Sharon's retaliatory assaults on high level terror supporters.
It seems like too many, already -- so I might be changing my mind about condemning Sharon's heavy handedness ...
Maybe the suicide terrorists are the best way to build a national consciousness -- I'll switch to your new thread for more of these thoughts.