T Nation

Q&A part 1

To Cam: Perhaps I should have explained myself a little further, but I was annoyed and I wanted to go home. I did not dismiss Say’s comments as being irrelevant to life in general, or even irrelevent to his or others’ overall opinions of the U.S. What I did do was dismiss them as irrelevant to the question of whether the U.S. should take military action to effect a regime change in Iraq, removing Saddam Hussein and disarming both him and Iraq of the fully functional chemical and biological agents, and of any nascent nuclear technology.

While the relative wealth of the U.S. may be fodder for conversation about either socialist principles or the fact that Americans have amassed this wealth in a system with a much greater degree of freedom (and lesser degree of socialism) than in many of the countries that complain about the amount of wealth owned by American citizens and corporations, but they are not relevant to the Iraq question. Similarly, the amount we spend on defense is also completely irrelevant. The oil thing I’m not even going to bother with – it’s ludicrous, it’s made up in whole cloth with no facts on the basis of what some people who go in for grand conspiracies think “looks funny,” and it’s illogical given their premises.

Now, there are a few things Say mentions that initially look relevant, but really aren’t. Most of those apply to your Biblical reference about casting the first stone. That’s great, and good wisdom if one is thinking of stoning a woman for adultry, but lets look at the way people seem to be applying that wisdom. The lesson seems to be that you cannot take corrective action if you made a past mistake in judgment (or else some people may cry “Hypocrisy,” and that just won’t do at all). Aside from the fact that we’re not even talking about the same governments/administrations when we refer to alleged past American policies of supporting Saddam or not complaining when he gassed Iranians or Kurds, the policy of not being able to fix one’s mistakes is not one I would wish to encourage. Trying to sort out who is to blame after the problem is solved is all well and good, but it does not bear any relevance on whether the problem should be solved – or on the method one should use to solve it.

Now, as to your pearl of wisdom about walking a mile on another’s shoes, I do believe that a quick review of the U.S. and British dossier (it was actually based on facts assembled by Amnesty International) of Saddam’s human rights violations on his own people, or his treatment of the Kurds, will suffice to show that perhaps their current lot isn’t such that they would terribly mind being liberated and set up with a democratic state. Call up one of the old threads on Iraq – I put a link to the report on there. I believe that perhaps the “opinion on the street” you see broadcast back here that show Iraqi citizens’ support of Saddam could be influenced just a wee bit by the fact that Saddam would, at the very least, cut out their tongues if they criticized him to the Western media.

Lastly, as to the “callous” statement that there are casualties in war, is it not true? The U.S. is going to do its best to minimize casualties – even now there are plans being laid out not only to control the direct casualties by enticing the generals to surrender or avoiding civilian losses, but also indirect casualties, by seizing and protecting hospitals, water treatment plants, sewage treatment plants, etc. However, there will still be casualties – and the deepest fear of most in the West is that Saddam will inflict them on his own people. We will do what we can to minimize them – including, if I understand what I know of the plans, putting American lives at greater risk in order to minimize civilian casualties. However, war will have casualties. The question to ask is whether those casualties are worth the good of threat reduction for the world and lifting the Iraqi people from under the current despotism that makes their lives so miserable. This is a decision leaders have to make and live with. Opposing threats on the international scale can sometimes only be accomplished with bloodshed – see WWII as a prime example. Acknowledging that fact is not the same as not caring about it.

Cam, even though we disagree, I appreciate your opinions and your thoughtfulness. I wish more people would put a little time into thinking about what they believe.

To Justin:

Did you pull that 80% number straight out of your butt, or did you have to dig around a bit first? I would love to see the world opinion poll that was taken to justify that one…

Now, as to why we might want to take out Saddam, in addition to his human rights record, here are some things to ponder about Saddam and his weapons stockpile, which he has of course used in the past, in a most non-defensive and non-deterrent (read: nakedly aggressive) fashion (these numbers are from a Congressman’s speech (can’t remember which one), and he got them from the CIA:

Iraq possesses 2,850 tons of mustard gas. It blisters the skin, eyes, and lungs. Bronchopneumonia, permanent pulmonary damage, and death can follow. Hussein unleashed mustard gas in Panjwin in October-November 1983, leaving 3,000 Iranian and Kurdish casualties. He likewise killed or injured another 2,500 Iranians on Majnoon Island in February-March 1984. An April 1987 mustard-gas attack left 5,000 Iranians dead or wounded in al-Basrah.

Hussein has 210 tons of tabun gas. According to the Army’s Soldier and Biological Chemical Command, inhalation or tactile absorption prompts confusion, drooling, nausea, coma, cessation of breathing, and death. Hussein deployed tabun and mustard gas against some 3,000 Iranians at Hawizah Marsh in March 1985 and 5,000 more at al-Basrah in April 1987.

Originally developed as an insecticide in Nazi Germany in 1938, sarin gas is a highly lethal nerve agent, of which Iraq controls 795 tons. It produces headaches, anxiety, vomiting, convulsions, involuntary excretion and fatal respiratory arrest. Hussein reportedly used sarin and mustard gas against 3,000 Iranians in October 1987 at Sumar/Mehran. Several hundred Iranians and Kurds similarly were exterminated in Halabjah in March 1988.

(You’ll like this one Say – it references your uranium point above)Hussein also owns six grams of plutonium and 400 tons of uranium — perfect for radiological “dirty” bombs or thermonuclear weapons.

For those of you who consider some combination of appeasement and inspections to be the way to go, consider this. Saddam has violated 17 U.N. Security Council resolutions since 1990, including those designated 678, 686, 687, 688, 707, 715, 949, 1051, 1060, 1115, 1134, 1137, 1154, 1194, 1205, 1284, and the latest, 1441. Those who have whined the U.S. and its allies into yet another resolution have offered Hussein an 18-strikes-and-you’re-in policy.

And, two last tidbits. As Tony Blair explained eloquently recently, those who keep claiming the U.S. and Britain are “rushing to war” can consider that this is apparently a 13-year “rush.” And those who claim this is a “unilateral” U.S. action apparently have another English dictionary than the one I possess – in mine, unilateral does not mean unanimous; nor does it mean not approved by Germany and France; nor does it mean not approved by the U.N. Security Counsel. The fact of the matter is that many European nations – and I would hazard to guess some Asian, African and South American nations, and Australia – are U.S. allies, and will contribute to the cause as they can. 'Nuff said for now.

Like Boston Barrister I tend to find the relevance of a lot of Say’s facts dubious[whether they are actual facts or not is itself irrelvant]

However, in saying that, I think Boston Barrister has disregarded the relevance of certain of these facts based of personal viewpoint etc [as we are all wont to do]

If we reference questions 9 through 11
it is possible to isolate an inherent contradiction in the rationalisation of current US Foreign policy.

Specifically, if the US has no history of condeming such behaviour - being the use of and indeed possession of chem/bio weapons - in the past [in a moral sense], then what reason does it have now? Logically speaking. Especially in consideration of the fact that it holds such weapons itself.

15. Q: Are there any proven links between Iraq and September 11th terrorist attack?

Hearsay only. The evidence for is no stronger that than the evidence against.
There is no evidence strong enough to justify going to war over an alleged link to terrorism, if that was the case there would be more of a justification to attack Saudi Arabia.

23. Q: Does Iraq present more of a threat to world peace now than 10
years ago?
A: No

No more so than any of about 20+ other nations. And a good deal less than others.

Also, A clearer definition of what constitutes a threat needs to be provided.

Personally, I would have less problem with the US saying, “we want Iraq’s oil we’re inbading them” than all the spin coming out of the oval office.

Iscariot –

Please refer to my post to Cam above, which I do not think was posted when you made your reply.

Apparently though, I should expand again on why the oil argument is ridiculous on its face. The premise behind the oil-for-blood protests that have risen up is that George Bush, at the behest of some corrupt oligarchy of American oil interests to whom he is somehow beholden by virtue of the fact he once worked in the industry, is going to mobilize the U.S. military to go in and grab Iraq in order to secure those American oil interests the right to extract Iraqi oil.

To begin with, there are no actual facts to back up this up – it’s basically an overblown conspiracy theory for those so inclined, and I’ve never actually seen one of those that proved true. Aside from that, it just doesn’t make any sense. Why would Bush mobilize the American military and spend huge sums of money – which, by the way, gives the Democrats and other opponents a plank they can use to attack his tax-cut plan as “not affordable” – in order to secure oil rights he could get for free simply by lifting the sanctions on Iraq? Saddam Hussein has expressed great willingness on numerous occasions to barter oil rights for the lifting of sanctions. As I stated above, this would be “free” (if you didn’t count the future costs of letting Saddam run amok, and much more appealing to Bush. It would also be much more appealing to the alleged evil oil conspiracy, as it would draw much less attention to the alleged securing of said oil rights, and thus shield them from scrutiny.

In other words, the “blood-for-oil” accusation is simple a simple ad hominem attack on some imagined conspiracy, and it is a straw man in that it distracts from the real issues at hand. To top it off, it doesn’t even make sense on its own terms.

Iscariot –

One more thing. The reasoning you put forth is setting up a false dichotomy, i.e. that either we must go after all the terrorists or threats to world peace at once, or we cannot go after any of them. That is not the situation. If the U.S. adjudges Saddam to provide a particularly egregious threat to world security – and especially to U.S. domestic security given links to terrorism combined with access to chemical and biological weapon stockpiles – or even a more especially egregious threat to stability in the Middle East given that region’s strategic importance, then the U.S. can choose to take out Saddam and neutralize his threat without being somehow suspect for not acting against Mugabe in Africa or Castro in Cuba (as great or greater violaters of human rights) or North Korea (different regional situation, and, additionally, given it is purportedly armed with nuclear weapons, it would require a comptletely different strategy based on that alone). Once again, one can choose to fix one bad thing without being making it logically or morally necessary to fix all bad things – even all closely related bad things.

I should add, of course, that it’s nice to have staunch allies such as Great Britain and all those non-French, non-Belgian and non-German European nations agree and support such an action too, and the U.S. is in the process of attempting to get a U.N. stamp of approval as well.

Boston -

I don’t go for the blood for oil thing either; at least not to the extent of some of the more ‘rabid’ out there [not necessarily on the Forum].

Ad Hominem to Bush? Some people certainly are doing so. However, I would respond that Bush is the visible head of a specific group/ groups and as such is going to be attacked as such - whether or not he personally holds such views.

Now not to go all conspiracy theorist on you :), but it’s a fact, and indeed a by-product of the democratic system, that those that hold power represent specific special interest groups, even when ostensibly sworn to represent all. Now while Oil may not be the only reason for invading, to disregard iot as a legitmate motivator is naive.

Honestly, do you not think there is a hell of a lot of spin coming out of the White House?

Part Deux

One more thing. The reasoning you put forth is setting up a false dichotomy, i.e. that either we must go after all the terrorists or threats to world peace at once, or we cannot go after any of them. [Snip all the points made to the above - acknowledged]

You’re drawing a false inference from what I said. I’ll rephrase.

The rationale used by the US to attack Iraq, over and above other countries with similar or worse human rights records doesn’t follow logically. If we’re being consistent [novel concept I know :)], then there must be other reasons, as yet unstated, which must differentiate Iraq from other countries [of terror].

I never said the US has got to get every terrorist country - they’d have to attack themselves and Israel and other allies - or none at all, it’s just that I’m a logical person, and the rationale presented per potential action has huge holes

Could be that’s just me though…

You should travel a little bit BostonBarrister and you would see that unfortunately there is a majority of people who don’t like the americans(which I’m not)I really love this place and it’s people, unfortunately these people make a confusion between the US, and it’s govt, now the way you replied to my post which wasn’t offensive whatsoever shows that you don’t seem to have that much respect to all that is not American or dares not agreeing to the US’s point of vue, it’s true that you’ve achieved a lot you guys and I really, like a lot of people respect you for that, but you have to know that you still have a lot to learn and should sometimes listen a little bit more to that Old Europe, old sometimes also means wise. Another thing that a lot of people don’t like, you are too self-centered, it’s a shame cause you have so much to share… Hey I’m on this forum, it must be true, there were my 2 cents.

Justin –

Actually, I have travelled quite a bit, thank you. I’ve been to Mexico, Canada, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Italy, Greece, Austria, the Czech Republic and Spain, in addition to my very friendly relations with foreign exchange students from all over in college and law school. Hell, I’ve even been to France and Germany. And, surprisingly enough, I’ve never seen your “majority.” Some people were rude, some were anti-U.S., and some were staunchly pro-U.S. and loved Americans, and were fun people with whom to share a drink and a conversation. I don’t know where you’ve been, but perhaps you should travel and and actually open your eyes a bit more and not just accept what’s pumped at you from various media sources.

At any rate, my point was that you shouldn’t make up statistics and throw them around in a serious discussion the way you did with that 80% figure above. If you want to be taken seriously, don’t make stuff up.

As for old wisdom, I never said I disagreed with Europe because it was old – I disagree with France, Germany and Belgium because they are disengeniously pursuing their own national governmental interests while trying to take the moral high ground by accusing the U.S. of doing just that. The French are after oil, yet no one mentions that. The Germans don’t want a close examination of exactly who has been selling Saddam his weaponry. The Russians have a few of both worries, and want Iraq’s debts to the Russians paid.

As for “old” being wise, I’ll grant you there are reasons old ideas can be wise – after all, they’ve stood the test of time. However, simply because the Secretary of Defense chose to label the France/Belgium/German triumverate “Old Europe” does not mean any of their current ideas are based on any of that received old wisdom. And as for acting old and dignified, I think Mr. Chirac was behaving more like a spoiled child the other day when he said the rest of Europe – you know, the governments who signed on to support the U.S. – missed an excellent opportunity to “shut up.” I’m surprised he didn’t threaten to hold his breath until he turned blue, or lie on the ground and scream while beating his fists on the floor.

You see, I have no problem with the French people or German people either (even though I think French jokes are funny) – I just disagree with the position their governments are taking, and with those who support those positions.

Iscariot –

Ah, I’m sorry to have lumped you with the oil-for-blood conspiracy theorists. I’ve heard that thrown around so much lately, and it’s just so blatantly wrong, that even the mention of it triggered my annoyance, and I jumped on that argument.

If you were implying that the reason we think the middle east is more strategically valuable than central Africa, and thus more important to our national interest and a better candidate for action is because of the oil produced in that reason, then I think you are correct. However, I also see nothing wrong with that either. Aside from the utter chaos into which the world economy would be thrown were that region seriously destabilized and oil supplies were interrupted or shut off, there would obviously be serious damage to the U.S. economy, and, really, it would cause death among the poorest and most vulnerable groups within the U.S. population as energy for heating and cooling became priced beyond their reach or became otherwise unavailable. The same damage is not feared from instability in central Africa.

Now, as to the “capture theory” to which you’re referring, I agree it exists too. I actually did a 65 page paper in law school about the interplay between capture theory, game theory and the regulatory history of the FCC. However, I think it’s much more likely to occur in the regulatory agencies than in elective offices, and is more likely to occur the smaller is the group represented in a given constituency. I don’t want to bore anyone to death here, but suffice it to say that I disagree about the specter of the capture of the presidency by oil interests being plausible (if you want to discuss it more, send me a personal mail).

My final point before I get back to work after having used so much of my lunch for this (luckily I have Grow Bars in my desk =-) ) is that while I used an extreme example of my own above, e.g. that going after one doesn’t mean we need to go after all, I want to emphasize that going after one doesn’t even necessarily mean needing to go after any other one – provided you identify there is a real problem, one can choose to prioritize that problem and solve it. Perhaps you were getting to the same point, and just wanting the White House to justify more clearly why Iraq should be prioritized. I believe what I said above about chaos in the middle east is a good reason, and can be justly layered on top of concerns for human rights and concern over Saddam’s possession of chemical and biological weapons, his association with terrorists, and his continual treaty violations (of the very treaties that ended the last military incursion).

You're obviously an intelligent guy, and I respect your opinions even though we don't see eye-to-eye on the subject. As I said above, there are logically consistent positions that are anti-war, even though I don't agree with their premises -- my whole problem began with the ridiculous nature of Say's original post.

Justin, that was awfully condecending. Which entails that it is you with a closed mind. How do you know who has traveled and who has not?

My My what a nice debate!

Q&A (looking at both sides of the picture)

  1. Iraq has tons of radioactive materials to create bombs, weapons, etc.
    1.A I would find it pretty fucking hypocritical to believe that the U.S does not have some biological weapons of their own (400-500 Billion in defense???)
    1.Summary : I don’t believe that only Iraq should disarm, I think they should all disarm, it’s only a little common sense that one souldn’t get rid of his weapons wi’ll the other gets to keep his?

  2. What the fuck happened to Osama Ben Ladden??
    The US goes from a massive manhunt for this guy, and all of a sudden, you don’t hear his name anymore? Al-Queda? What’s going on with them? I really think that it’s an injustice for all those people who lost their lives in WTC attack and their families that all of a sudden no one is being brought to justice on this matter. That’s why I have problems with this war, to many things that are not clear whatsoever.

  3. If the US is so worried about terrorism, hum let’s see UN inspectors have not found any sign of nuclear weapons, facilaties, etc in Iraq, all this is supposing that they have weapons, bring the proof! In a court of law in the US, their evidence would never stand up. hum let’s see, funny how I see on CNN every day that the chinese are building beautiful nuclear bombs in their multiple facilaties, smiling business as usual, no problems, and the US has the balls to only try to disamr Iraq ??!!
    Summary : Iraq : No proof of weapons, terrorist acts, facilaties, etc.

       China : Multiple bombs being shown on live worldwide network TV, machines running 24/7 to construct these bombs, reports of the chinese selling these things to other countrys.

I don’t know if I’m crazy on this one, but i think that the chinese are much more of a threat to nuclear attack than Iraq is.

Conclusion : I think that this possible war is very contradictory. Things should be cleared up first, the motives for war are to blurry. Their are to many factors to ask questions on that just don’t hold up to the proposition of war. Personnaly Saddam sucks, but I don’t believe this war is about terrorism, not for one second, remember 9/11?? Osama?? That guy was responsible for the attack on the twin towers, not Iraq? You can’t possibly count out the chinese in this thing, it would make sense to chalenge them to a war, their the ones supplying the whole fuckin world in this biological, nuclear thing.
It’s also stupid to say things like post-Saddam Iraq, a better future for Iraq, bullshit, that’s none of our fuckin business, how Saddam runs his country, I’m not for his way of governing the country, but we shouldn’t declare war for something north-americans cannot and sould not put their nose in. Like I said, things are not clear about the terms of war, very fishy statements, enemies, in my final say, I think their is a huge amount of hipocrisy in this conflict, and you just cannot ignore the fact that the war on terrorism should keep it’s focus on Al-Queda, Osama, rather than speculations about Iraq’s so called weapons, when we have some of our own here in NA. thank you.

A person can be against this war, and NOT be “anti-U.S.” or “pro-Saddam”.

When people resort to this kind of “love it or leave it” name calling, the whole discussion turns stupid.

Did you know that 50% of statistics are made up on the spot?.

Surge, no offense but your argument is a perfect example of the kinds of statements and perspectives I keep hearing from the blind “Do-gooder liberals” that have problems with only paying attention to the things that they want to hear. They seem to have some insane desire to create conspiracies and disagree with the government simply for the sake of opposing them whether they really have an argumentative leg to stand on or not. Please pay attention to this next sentence! The reason that the US, Britain, and several other european countries are demanding that Iraq disarm is because Iraq agreed to do so upon request from the UN at the end of the gulf war. Now as Boston Barrister has allready explained; Iraq has violated 17 UN resolutions. That is pretty unacceptable in my personal opinion. I am pretty sure that if I had broken 17 different laws in whatever country that you live in, you would be very vocal about your opinion that I should be thrown in jail. The Iraqi people unfortunately have to deal with the offenses that thier leader gleefully carries out and the US has allready voiced the fact that they would like to hold him personally responsible for his transgressions and help Iraq set up thier own “Non-dictatorial” form of government. I would be thrilled if we could solve this situation without an armed conflict. I would hate to have anyone die because of the irresponsible actions of a cruel megalomaniacal dictator. However, the pure nature of such a tyrant leads me to believe from a historical perspective that Sadaam is not going to give up his sadistic reign of power without a fight. As for your question about Osama Bin Laden, the US is still looking for him. There are still US troops in Afghanistan risking thier lives searching caves every day. Just because you don’t hear about it every day doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. Why don’t you try going over there and helping them out if you think they are taking too long ok?! The media doesn’t like to provide reduntant anti-climactic news like “The search for Osama continues, and we still haven’t found him, only 3 million more caves to go.” They like to get better ratings from following the hottest debates and most sensational news, like all the idiotic conspiracy theories about Bush’s motives for going after Iraq. Everyone keeps asking,“Why now?”. I’ll tell you why, Clinton didn’t have the nuts to deal with it back in 1998 when Sadaam kicked the weapons inspectors out. Plain and simple. Bush came into office having to fix all the mistakes and problems that were left to him by the previous presidency, just like every other president. I don’t think Bush is that great of a president, but I thought Clinton and his lap dog Gore where alot worse. Unfortunately Bush has not handled this situation very well in my opinion. However that does not change my belief that Iraq needs to be disarmed and Sadaam needs to be taken out of power. Lastly, your idea that we can deal with every foriegn country in exactly the same way clearly demonstrates your ignorance of global politics. I am not trying to pick on you, just trying to point out an aspect of yourself that you could work on improving. Allright, thats all for now, I am getting weary of repeating the same obvious aspects of this political debate over and over again only to have the same b.s. questions asked immediately after I get done. Oh and one last thing, great job Boston Barrister! Your time and patience is appreciated thanks for such detailed logical and concise posts.

Iraq isn’t the only country with a running count of violations. Turkey is in violation of 23 Security Council resolutions. Israel is in violation of 31. I don’t think you can debate such issues in terms of right and wrong. Everyone’s got something to hide.

Nice reply but you still haven’t explained without a sure doubt my points on this possible war. For one, I am not ignorant, I know a lot about politics, and I also don’t believe in conspiracies. Like I posted in my last message, why Iraq??? Why not China, you didn’t answer that question? They are the ones who are creating all those nuclear missiles and selling them to any dumbass like Saddam. Hell, we don’t even need to send UN inspectors there, they’re showing us videos on how they’re producing them!! They are the ones who are violating UN laws, not Iraq. The only thing the US has as motives for war on Iraq are those dumb al-samoud missiles, that weren’t even tested to see if they were illegal or not, another US speculation. Anyways, this isn’t going nowhere, just about every godamn country in this world is in violation of some UN laws, the US included! Don’t be a hypocrite neither, like I said in my previous message, you guys probably have some of your own nuclear material. I agree with you though that Saddam is an asshole, and I don’t dismiss the tought of war, on the contrary, war like you say is probably the only way to deal with dictator ship. Look at Hitler, Staline, etc…

Surge, your question was already answered, but you choose not to listen. Iraq was DEFEATED IN A WAR, and the conditions of surrender include non-proliferation of certain weapons. Yes, other countries have WMD. No, they didn’t lose a war, surrendering under those very certain terms.

The “Why Iraq?” argument has been answered and yet still pops up all the time.

Surge, your question was already answered, but you choose not to listen. Iraq was DEFEATED IN A WAR, and the conditions of surrender include non-proliferation of certain weapons. Yes, other countries have WMD. No, they didn’t lose a war, surrendering under those very certain terms.

The “Why Iraq?” argument has been answered and yet still pops up all the time.

BB -

A man who can think logically and articulate = super sexy! :slight_smile: Thanks for the great rebuttal.

Stella who believes that we should just bomb the damn country and be done with it