Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Diplomacy is Good for Diplomats

There were a couple of back and forths late in the game between the Pulvarizer and me in the comments section of the last post. I didn't respond to his second comment, but will do so now to a portion of it at least, which ran like this:

"So basically what you're saying is we had to invade Iraq, because some day, Saddam may have inflicted harm on US citizens. Then why haven't we invaded countries such as Iran, Syria, North Korea, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, which currently pose real dangers to the US, based on the same preventive theory? Iran, Syria, and North Korea are active supporters of terrorism, adamantly oppose US interests, and in the case of Iran and N. Korea, have active WMD programs, namely nuclear. Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, while allies in the context of realpolitik, turn blind eyes to large portions of their citizens who partake in anti-American activities and actively support terrorist organizations.

And no good choices? The same paths Bush is pursuing now with regard to Iran and North Korea, (1) patience, (2) gathering significant international support, (3) sanctions, and (4) supporting anti-Iranian groups and nations, were available to Bush with regard to Iraq after 9/11. Not to mention allowing the renewed WMD inspectors enough time to do their job. Surely you can’t say Iran appears to pose a lesser threat to US interest now than Iraq did pre-Gulf War II. So then why are we pursuing two very different strategies? The only difference is Bush wanted to appear tough on “terrorism,” so he quixotically invades Iraq."

First let me address the "why don't we invade everyone who poses a threat" canard. The answer is two part. First, none of the countries mentioned had repeatedly ignored the UN requirements placed on it, so there was no impetus for action from that standpoint. The UN had an impetus to act, but instead kept re-drawing the line, saying sternly again - "if you cross that line, something really bad is going to happen, like us drawing another line further back." Bush said - enough of the games - we could afford to screw around with guys like you prior to 9/11, but the cost of doing so has risen significantly. So you're done.

Still, taking the Pulvarizer's point, why limit pre-emption to the one case in which there was a history of efforts to bring a regime in line that continued to violate UN requirements? Why not unilaterally go after some of them? In one obvious case, that of North Korea, the reason is this - we know they already have nuclear weapons, so the human cost of taking these guys out is likely to be far far higher than those incurred in Iraq. There is an obvious tradeoff - when the costs to correct the problem are likely to be very steep, you play the waiting game. The same will be true for Iran in short order.

Syria - well, I don't know what to say about them other than that we probably should bomb the shit out of them. The difference there may be that we felt like we had ties to opposition groups in Iraq that would enable us to fill the vacuum (which, contrary to the Pulvarizer, has been more successful than he will acknowledge), and maybe we have no such ties in Syria. As for Pakistan, Mushareff has probably risked more than anyone in supporting the US in the war on terror. With Saudi Arabia, although they have tolerated anti-Americanism, they have also tolerated us, giving us a military foothold in the region; in addition,that regime is making itself more democratic, which is a hopeful sign of progress that could abet the anti-Americanism.

Finally, the paths that we are pursuing now with respect to Korea and Iran, those of "(1) patience, (2) gathering significant international support, (3) sanctions, and (4) supporting anti-Iranian groups and nations", which "were available to Bush with regard to Iraq after 9/11" will go absolutely nowhere. In fact, Korea got their nukes that way in the first place, and Iran will not be deterred from getting theirs in this way as well. You'll never get the support of China and Russia, because of their own self-interest, just as we didn't get that of France and Germany for the same reason with respect to Iraq. In the case of Iran, we'll be forced to cross our fingers like we do with North Korea, and as we did for decades with the Soviet Union (and are about to do again with Russia).

And as for sanctions, I'd like to remind the readers that there were significant sentiments to lift the sanctions on Iraq, which we were told were leading to 100,000 deaths per year, far in excess of the number of innocent Iraqis being killed as a result of the war. These 100K were in addition to those who over the years were gased or tortured by Saddam and Co., and were supposed to be deaths that stemmed from the impact on the economy from the sanctions. Of course, we had a program in place to stem that problem in the "Oil for Food" program, but apparently the "food" mentioned was mostly fois gras being eaten by bribed Frenchmen, as well as the son of the UN Secratary General. Meanwhile the people of Iraq ate cake.


Blogger pbryon said...

I'm a little confused by your stance here, Hatcher. On one hand, you seem to defend the wait and see approach with regards to Korea, but then you say that it won't work with Korea and Iran. In your eyes, are we doing the right thing, or are we caught between a rock and a hard place.

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9:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hatch, I liked your post. What bothers me about world diplomacy and the decision to intervene militarily is the hierocracy of it all. After WWII, when the camps were liberated, the world political leaders collectively said, "Never again". The United Nations was formed in order to prevent such needless human suffering that Hitler wrought on Europe.

Since WWII, we have had mad dictators come to power all over the world. Sadam gassed his citizens and ran a terror state. W, the only current world leader willing back up the "Never again" pledge and takes him out; and guys like Pulvarizer, Reid, and Kennedy (Mary Joe Kopnecki unavailable for comment) give him crap.

When the world leaders of the 50's said, "Never again" they had seen what happens when a madman is appeased. It is a shame the current crop of world leaders; (W excluded) didn't pay more attention in history class.

5:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Hierocracy" should be "hypocrisy". Damm spellcheck and Chartreuse bender.

5:06 AM  
Blogger Pulvarizer said...

Some well laid out arguments here, but since Hatcher and I agree on very little in the political realm, I disagree on a number of points.

#1 - With regard to North Korea and Iran not ignoring UN resolutions, nothing could be farther from the truth. North Korea's UN rep. basically told the entire world at the UN earlier this week to f*&k off after a unanimous resolution was passed condemning them for their provocative actions. North Korea continues to break commitments it has made to the US and other groups of countries (not necessarily the UN) for decades regarding its nuclear weapons. With regard to Iran, every major country, including Russia, agrees Iran should not continuing developing nuclear weapons, and the UN and Int'l Atomic Energy Assoc. have issued strong warnings and condemnation to Iran for its reckless pursuits. Yes, these condemnations may not have risen to the level of an official UN resolution, but since when does GWB allow the UN to decide the course of US national security? Besides, Israel has continually ignored UN resolution 242 (pulling out of captured lands after the 1967 6 day war), and no one is saying because of their defiance, the US or other major powers should invade. North Korea and Iran have, over long periods of time, defined the international community with regard to their development of nuclear weapons.

Also, the UN has absolutely no impetus to act. The UN is an international body of countries. The UN’s mandate derives solely from those countries, and has no independent ability to conduct actions on its own. Its individual countries which have the impetus to get the UN to act as an international mouthpiece on their behalf, but any action must be initiated and carried out by individual countries.

#2 - Bush had had enough of Iraq’s games and couldn’t wait any longer in the post 9/11 world. Why couldn’t Bush wait? Based on the original post that got this discussion going, Bush didn’t view Iraq as an imminent threat, knew Saddam didn’t have meaningful ties to Al Qaeda, and Iraq was not responsible for 9/11. As we now know, Iraq has no active or dangerous WMDs, and its army proved to be about as effective as a Girl Scout troop. So, given these statements by the Bush administration, and realities that Iraq wasn’t developing stockpiles of WMD, what necessitated the US invading Iraq when we did? North Korea is selling its missile technologies to anyone who will pay, and we surely can’t count on Iran, with its current leadership, restraining themselves from giving away WMD secrets to Syria or others.

#3 – With regard to why the US doesn’t unilaterally go after North Korea or Iran, Hatcher states “There is an obvious tradeoff - when the costs to correct the problem are likely to be very steep, you play the waiting game.” Actually, on this point, I couldn’t agree more with Hatcher’s assessment. As the Brits say, that assessment is “spot on!” But, the same logic should have informed Bush when invading Iraq. A – the war has cost the US hundreds of billions, when we were told by Wolfowitz and many others it would cost far less, B – we weren’t greeted as liberators, but as occupiers, and now were in the midst of a low grade civil war with no effective way to ease the tensions, C – A stable democracy in Iraq is highly unlikely because of the history of ethnic tensions, and with the obvious desire of the once repressed (Shiites) wanting some payback on their former oppressors (Sunni), but Sunni’s wanting payback for current Shiite terror bombings and killings, D – an unstable Iraq opens the door to Iran and Syria dominating Iraq and the region to much greater degrees than they have in the past. E – We don’t have, and never did have, enough troops in Iraq to adequately achieve anything meaningful in terms of economic development or political stability, causing US troops to face unnecessary harm. All of these effects were predicted by many before the war started, and represent the costs the US is paying for with our invasion of Iraq. I’d say the sum of these costs far exceed the benefits.

Well, I’d be surprised if anyone is still reading my rants up to this point. Let me sum up with this point. The neo-conservatives have it all wrong (not saying Hatcher describes himself as one, but some arguments presented here are similar). The neo-cons really seem to believe that the can ignite the fires of democracy in the Middle East, even though the people of the Middle East show no great and broad interest in adopting it themselves. The neo-cons want to start a second Crusade, and this time around, it’s not Christianity they bring, but the warm blanket of freedom and democracy. I for one don’t believe that neo-cons give a rat’s ass about the welfare of the people of the Middle East, I think they just want to continue striking back at radical Muslims who supported 9/11, as neo-con arguments have only widely appeared after 9/11. But even if their intentions are as they say, it won’t matter, it’s a modern day Crusade, and will only result in great resentment towards the US by Muslims and our allies, and in the end will lead to more terrorist strikes against the US, and our interest abroad. It’s sheer madness, and ignores the fact that the US can’t impose it’s will, no matter how benign, on foreign peoples, as Iraq is proving. (see George Will’s column in the Washington Post on 7/18, putting it much more eloquently than I ever could).

5:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

trivia question for you.
which country has the most UN resolutions against them?
not NK, Iran, China, Iraq
yup you got it Israel
know how many (resolution) the US has backed?
yup ZERO zilch
start the invasion machine

and since when do UN resolutions matter to you considering the call them irrelevant, oh yeah unless they happen to be on our side

6:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

8:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Hatch,
In order to get to your site, I used to put "Ideas Hatched" into Google and hit, "I'm Feeling Lucky". Now, when I hit the "Lucky" button, I get a site for poultry incubators. Sounds like a left wing conspiracy to infect conservatives with bird flu.

4:26 AM  

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