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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

It is a quagmire!

Jim Henley is right about one thing… Iraq is indeed a quagmire. Rather than a quick campaign with decisive results that vindicated their views, they are still fighting to prove their position was justified, struggling to massage the facts, trying to divert attention away from the reality of the effect of overthrowing a nation’s government as their loudly trumpeted ideas of a few short months ago ‘circle the drain’.

I am of course referring to the people who were Saddam Hussain’s ‘useful idiots’ and who opposed the armed overthrow of Ba’athist Socialism… and who are now desperately clutching at daily US casualty rates which can be counted on one hand as some means to snatch a tiny measure of victory from the jaws of absolutely crushing intellectual defeat. I expect more Americans are murdered by other Americans in any one of several major US cities every day than are dying in fighting in Iraq now, just to put it all into some perspective.

One does not have to support the way the US is going about running (or not) Iraq to nevertheless admit that the war itself was a triumph not just for the allies but for the Iraqi people. So to borrow Jim Henley’s tone, damn to hell all the ‘cowardly’ paleo-libertarians and their socialist confreres who really did not care what Saddam Hussain’s regime was doing to the people in Iraq and who still feel no remorse that all the horrors of Ba’athism would still be happening in Iraq today if they had gotten their way.

65 comments to It is a quagmire!

  • I’ve been struggling with this a bit myself lately, and I was hoping some of the Samizdata brain trust might help me. I’m just a little perplexed as of late about the aftermath of the invasion and what I’m hearing. For instance, Secretary Rumsfeld was on Infinity Radio Connect yesterday unsatisfactorily answering questions about WMDs and future plans for Iraq’s provisional government.

    I think the biggest problem I have is that the coalition failed to adequately articulate any reason for an invasion other than WMDs. They made eradicating the weapons and the facilities to create them the primary, some would say only, goal.

    Now, I see many reasons why the invasion will prove to have been a Good Thing and why it was justified. Saddam was playing games with the UN and had ignored regulations handed down after the Persian Gulf War for twelve years. The regime was responsible for some of the most horrific human rights abuses on the planet. The invasion itself was a meaningful display of the coalition’s military might and the seriousness of its words.

    Most of all, the Middle East DESPERATELY needs a success story–for the Iraqi people and others in the region (students in Iran?), for the Middle East’s balance of power, for global prospects for peace, for the security of Western populations. Fighting terrorism on a grand scale is a monumental task–how the heck do you go about fighting an enemy such as a widely-scattered group of fanatical terrorist cels? Taking Iraq away from Saddam and giving it to Iraq’s people may be a brilliant step in the right direction… or it might have little positive effect.

    Whether you believe Blair and Bush acted in good faith on bad intelligence information, or flat out lied about what they knew and invaded anyway, or that the weapons are there and they’ll be found, or that they were there and have been destroyed, had either administration taken the hour or two hours or however long it took on prime time television, away from the podium and obtuse, ambitious glamour media reporters, to level with the people and express the *other* reasons why the invasion would take place, and why it was justified, and why its results would be positive in a number of areas, I don’t believe there would be quite the current unease and backlash against Blair and the Bush administration as is developing currently (and it is developing, at least as far as I’ve seen in my little sample of the world, even among folks who adamantly supported the troops and were behind Bush and Blair one hundred percent).

    When Powell gave his forty-five minute schpiel to the UN, I believed him. I believed Tony Blair when he spoke to Chirac and Schroeder, saying (paraphrased) “…there is not an admininstration represented in this room that isn’t fully aware that Saddam has weapons of mass destruction right now…” Frankly, I’m not quite sure what to belive right now. But *I* don’t think the WMDs are “everything”. But they sure did make it sound like that in the pre-invasion days…

    Can someone ease my mind? Or is that not appropriate given the situation?

  • Scott Cattanach

    damn to hell all the ‘cowardly’ paleo-libertarians and their socialist confreres

    Perry, your demand that a big government program (i.e. the war) solve the Saddam problem makes you the socialist. I’ve yet to hear an argument for the war that socialists don’t use for their favorite social programs:

    1. This is evil and people are dying
    2. Only the State is big enough to solve this
    3a. If you disagree your’re evil and probably racist
    3b. If you oppose the govt action, you favor the evil situation (either Saddam or people going w/o health care).
    4. Let the govt lie (about WMDs in this case), its for a good cause and people are too stupid to make the right decisions w/ the truth.
    5. This is preferable to whatever else Big Government could be doing (ignoring if Big Government should exist in the first place).
    6. Forget the past (like our support for any previous tyrants), this time we’ll do it right, we promise.

  • Hmm. But I think that presupposes that liberation of the Iraqi people was the ultimate goal of the invasion. It wasn’t that either, was it? I think the fundamental, underlying, overriding goal was to be proactive about ensuring a less contentious, violent, relatively deprived Middle East for the future… in order to provide for the security of Western society. As I said, a monumental task, but one that is in total a sanctioned function of government.

    As it happens, during the performance of that mission, a nation was liberated from totalitarian rule.

    To comment on Perry’s line:
    One of the more ironic protest posters I saw while enduring the peace marches at my university (University of North Texas) read “we support the Iraqi people”. That’s easy to say, isn’t it?

  • G Cooper

    Stepping over the pile that Scott Cattenach has left on the page, I’d like to back what Mr. de Havilland has said and add a particular (if familiar) gripe of my own.

    The dogged determination of the BBC and its fellow travellers in recent weeks has been one of the lowest points that organisation has reached in its undistinguished recent history.

    The Corporation’s relentless Pilgerist tone is unremitting and you don’t need to be a ‘neo-con’ (the BBC’s latest term of abuse) to detect a note of triumph as the ‘British war crime photographs’ story is reported, or at the latest protest march by a bunch of Shi’ite bigots, nicely stirred-up by the fascist theocrats just across the border. ‘Little Ali is just four years old….’ is a sure sign to switch-off.

    Why listen to or watch the damned station at all? Because it has almost a monopoly…

    How little, the news of Saddam’s humanitarian outrages. How great, the “failure” of British and, especially, American troops.

  • S. Weasel

    The press on this side of the Atlantic are doing it, too. Visitors from outer space would be forgiven for reading our papers and believing we’d just lost a war – or at least fought it to an uneasy standstill after years of bloody conflict.

    I think journalists tell themselves that the government is going to give us the unrealistically optimistic view, so it’s their job to give us an unrealistically pessimistic one. It’s what passes for balance these days. As if they’re the official opposition party and opposition means reflexively blurting out ‘no’ whenever the establishment says ‘yes’.

    The result is a steady drip-drip-drip of gloomy assessments and Sunday supplement pieces that begin, “burly Marine Corporal Buster Wannamaker gets tears in his eyes when he thinks of his 3-year-old daughter back home…”

    And the really annoying thing is, I catch myself listening to the bastards. The same gang of ex-Generals and former State Department employees and ‘unnamed sources at the Pentagon’ that weren’t right about a single goddamned thing six weeks ago.

    Wasn’t there a paper or a magazine that used to rate the psychics every year? You know…look back on all the stuff they’d predicted for 1985 and assess how much of it had come true? (None, as a rule). Shouldn’t our pundits be subject to the same rigorous quality controls? If Jeanne Dixon could grit her teeth and put up with it…

  • Jacob

    “As if they’re the official opposition party and opposition means reflexively blurting out ‘no’ whenever the establishment says ‘yes’.”

    No, they are the official opposition party only to the current administration. They didn’t scream “imperialism” and “quagmire” when the former administration embarked in some military adventures abroad, like bombing Serbia.
    The media has it’s agenda (lefty-liberal), they are promoting in consciously and are proud of their good work.

  • S. Weasel

    Yes, Jacob, you’re quite right. The media’s self-image as the guardians of dissent would be a lot more convincing if they dissented with equal venom no matter who was in power. They might even be useful.

    And speaking of Bill Clinton, he was in Boston last week giving a speech at the John F. Kennedy Library. They were playing sound bites from it on news radio. Referring to Kennedy’s “ask not what your country can do for you…” speech, Clinton said something like “nowadays, people say ‘government is bad and I’m good and I want what’s coming to me right now.'” And it took me a minute to realize he thought that was wrong. Self-evidently wrong.

    Saints preserve us from the sort of man who can say “public servant” without a trace of irony.

  • Scott Cattanach

    Stepping over the pile that Scott Cattenach has left on the page,

    I feel so unrefuted right now (and you mispelled my name).

    The dogged determination of the BBC and its fellow travellers in recent weeks has been one of the lowest points that organisation has reached in its undistinguished recent history.

    You just reminded me of another socialist argument adopted by the War Party:

    7. Bad news just indicates a biased media who hasn’t seen a govt program they didn’t like.

  • Scott Cattanach

    Strike “who hasn’t seen a govt program they didn’t like”. That’s the right wing socialist claim of media bias, and y’all are echoing the left wing “they don’t say how wonderful and necessary this govt program is” (because Big Media is owned by Big Business, or so their claim goes).

  • It might be useful if, terrier-like, we focus on continually asking critics of the war “So do you still think the war was an inexusable outrage guaranteed to fail?”

    For years, if necessary.

  • Looks like things were slowing down at Samizdata and Perry needed to stir the hornet’s nest.

    I think Scott C. is right on. If there were no WMDs pointed at our national head — i.e., if this was not even close to being the defensive preemptive strike that our leaders promoted, but rather just a regime change under color of “defense” — then the war in Iraq was no different than the War on Poverty or the War on Drugs, i.e., just another big government program to address a social ill, of the type that has come to be embraced by Demos and GOP, liberals and conservatives alike. You’ll remember that in all of those earlier “moral equivalents to War,” as well as real shooting wars, such as the Vietnam conflict, the government trumpeted initial successes, and folks like Perry said “in your face” to dissenters. It was only after a few years of hard, sad experience that the American people realized that the ostensible goals of the “Wars” were not being achieved and would never be. So far, I have seen no reason to believe that this “War” will end any differently.

    What amazes me is to see amazingly pure libertarian arguments by Perry and his buddies on so many other subjects here, but an apparently massive blind spot and split-personality schizophrenia when it comes to the topic of “noble regime change.” As to what Scott C. allegedly left in a “pile on the page,” let me remind you that the truth often stinks. But the realist and the adult learn to deal with that. It is the parents who change the diapers, for example. Remember what the wag said about politicians and diapers: they should both be changed often, and for the same reasons.

    2004 is coming, and the US voters need to say, loudly and clearly, that the only wars we will tolerate are the truly defensive ones. Let’s not be dragged further into disaster by those who are simply spoiling for a fight.

  • War on poverty = not actually a war plus it actually makes poverty worse

    War on drugs = not actually a war plus it makes crime worse

    War on Ba’athist Iraq (or Nazi Germany, or whoever) = actually a real war and makes thing a great deal better.

    As a minarchist, I think wars are the one thing a state is indeed needed for, not phony ‘wars’ to eradicate some social ill but actual wars against tyrants and terrorists, with bombs and guns and aircraft carriers, not policemen, drug councilors and social workers.

  • G Cooper

    Scott Cattanach writes:

    “I feel so unrefuted right now (and you mispelled my name).”

    And so you should. Like others here, I’m sure, I stopped trying to engage in dialogue with you weeks ago.

    I think it was when I came across yet another of your irrelevant re-posts of some entire newspaper article.

    Or maybe it was when you simply indulged in sophistry when someone tried to get you to tackle a matter of substance.

    I do apologise for misspelling your name though. I should be able to spell mud by now.

  • Now, now… no need to resort of straighforward abuse.

  • Kit Taylor

    Perry: War on Ba’athist Iraq (or Nazi Germany, or whoever) = actually a real war and makes thing a great deal better

    Kit: WWII wasn’t about liberating the oppressed, increasing global levels of niceness etc, it was about national security. The 3rd Reich was exceptionally likely to gobble us all up, so we gave it a good kicking.

    I still don’t get the argument for public funding of a war intended purely to spread liberty. It makes about as much sense as a libertarian tolerating the murder of their fellow citizens just because they happen inside a womb rather than outside with the rest of us.

  • I also agree that war is one of the few things “legitimately” done by a government. The question is, why go to war? In the US, we have liked to think — have indeed considered ourselves the “good guys” because — we don’t go to war except to defend ourselves from direct attack or threat of attack (or to honor mutual defense treaties with our allies, which, some would argue, steps too far into the “entangling alliances” that the people who founded our country warned us to avoid).

    I have yet to see anything close to convincing evidence that Saddam Hussein was, indeed, a direct, imminent threat to the US. And what mutual-defense treaty did we honor by invading Iraq? Although some good is coming out, and will come out of the Iraq war (as is true of many government efforts — even a broken clock is right twice a day!), that is insufficient to justify the big government program: a similar or greater amount of good could be achieved by other means. When you are forcing people to pay taxes or put their lives on the line, you have a moral responsibility to use those resources sparingly and efficiently, only for those absolutely necessary and urgent purposes that cannot be adequately addressed through private action (or in the case of war, through non-military action).

    If the US becomes a country that marches around the world cleaning up messes (many of which it made in the past, itself, through earlier meddling), righting wrongs, and imposing a global Pax Americana, it must necessarily be a far different country that the one we were supposed to have, and that many still claim we do have. Jingoists have often said, “America, Love It Or Leave It.” The kind of country that we must become if we are to embrace the policies of those who supported the Iraq Attack, and who now urge a continuation into Iran, Syria, and elsewhere, is a BIG change from the kind of country that America has traditionally been, and that most Americans expect. Why doesn’t the “American Glory” crowd love THAT America, and if they don’t love it, why don’t THEY leave?

    I’ve got it! Speaking of leaving, why doesn’t everyone who supports militaristic American Glory — and ONLY they — go overseas to fight in the crusades? There, they can see firsthand both the good and the bad that is done under our flag, the successes and failures of this big government program. If they come back from their experience, still supporting American Glory and convinced of the rightness of their path, we can talk. I would bet, however, that the minds of many who survived the experience would be profoundly changed (at least, if the documented experience of thousands of firsthand observers and participants in American wars over the centuries provides any useful basis for prediction).

    Perry, suppose that my buddy believes that your verbal weapons of mass distraction will someday whip the rabble into supporting nuclear armageddon, so that getting rid of you would be an act of farsighted self-defense. Would it be right for people to demonize or marginalize me for trying to talk him out of going over to your place at three in the morning and pre-emptively “preventing” you, by any means necessary, from EVER fulfilling that prediction? Would he be right to ignore my advice on the basis learning that some of your neighbors and housemates, made miserable by the incessant clattering of your keyboard at all hours of the day and night, would be happy to see you gone? Would the “good” caused by your removal from the game board mitigate the aggressive action?

    To kill the bad guy (if he is even dead, yet), we have had to kill quite a few innocents, too. We have had to kill them to “save” them. Where have we heard that before? And how many more times must we hear it before we no longer listen to the glory chasers, promoting their “just cause”?

    If, at this early date, you think we have “won” this war, it only goes to illustrate the blind spots that I mentioned before.

  • G Cooper

    Kit Taylor writes:

    “I still don’t get the argument for public funding of a war intended purely to spread liberty…”

    There is a very simple (overwhelming, I’d suggest) argument for it. Liberty is inevitably threatened by tyranny.

    Sooner or later, if you won’t move against it, it will move against you.

    WOMD is a shibboleth (and we all know how the Left loves those). Iraq simply had to be taken out of Saddam’s control before it did real harm beyond its own borders.

    That we did it before that harm took place is something to celebrate.

  • G Cooper

    Jacob writes:

    “No, they are the official opposition party only to the current administration.”

    The UK perspective on this is similarly revealing. When the last Conservative government was in office, the BBC played the role of critic from the Left. Now that we have a Left-wing government in power (something of which those in the USA who were taken in by Blair’s posturing possibly aren’t properly aware) the BBC’s reaction has been to shuffle even further to the Left, from which position to criticise all the more.

    So yes, I agree. They are only contrarians from a Left-liberal POV.

  • Scott Cattanach

    Another socialist belief adopted by the War Party is that social engineering can work (in Iraq, at least). If the US/UK govt can nationbuild overseas, why not at home?

  • As I have already answered that one… whatever. I will leave the endless repetition to you.

  • Jacob

    James Merritt:
    “a similar or greater amount of good could be achieved by other means.”
    You mean – there was another way to remove Saddam and stop the oppresion of Iraqis ?
    Or was that sentence a statement of general principle unrelated to the particulars of the case at hand ? (like the rest of your argument) ?
    You are speaking of blind spots – let me point to a big blind spot that the opponents of this war have: you refuse to acknowledge the true nature of Saddam and his regime: murderous, mad, aggressive, dangerous to his people, to his neighbours, to the USA (via terrorism).
    You are in total denial about this, ignoring the facts of recent history.
    So the issue isn’t big government and trust or misstrust of it. The issue is: was Saddam dangerous. Your denial of this renders the rest of your arguments irrelevant, even ridiculous. “Saddam wasn’t dangerous” is self evident to _you_, you treat is as an axiom. You start all your arguments from this base. And you are dead wrong just there, at the very root.
    The refrain goes: “there is no proof” (that he had WMD, that he was an imminent danger). As if three major wars of aggression (by Iraq) didn’t happen, a million people or more didn’t die, 911 never was. You ideological opposition to big government, which I share, blinds you to the facts of this particular case.
    To refuse to acknowledge that the removal of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and Saddam regime in Iraq were good things – seems bizarre to me – something I expect from the idiotarian left (and Chirac).
    Yes, the world is a big, big mess; yes, the US cannot and should not try to fix it all, it is impossible, too costly. I agree. But what was done was necessary and good, and the cost not excessive. It isn’t a case of either you clean everything or you do nothing. You do what you can.

  • Scott Cattanach

    Perry, you implied that social re-engineering was justified and in the Iraqis best interests because of what Saddam did. Your only response was “would you let Saddam keep engineering?” – you never addressed the question of whether our counter social engineering stood a chance in Hell of actually working.

    If our governments can take control and build a healthy society in Iraq, why can’t they do it here (and then make socialist theory come true)?

  • Scott Cattanach

    Jacob, regardless of whether you support going into Iran and/or Syria next, your war gives aid and comfort to those who do, who want to expand the war, and keep it going and going and going….. That cost will be excessive, and you will be partially to blame if that happens.

    You cannot support the war and take credit for the good but blame any bad on the govt that screwed up afterward. You cannot claim that “we” (the govt w/ your support) took out Saddam, but “they” (just the govt) put someone equally bad in his place, “they” let Iraq fall apart into chaos or a theocracy, or whatever else “they’ might do to screw it up.

  • Jacob

    “Another socialist belief adopted by the War Party is that social engineering can work (in Iraq, at least).”
    Correct. Social engineering cannot be done. The US doesn’t have full control over the nature of the future regimes of Iraq. But what can be done is killing a mad dog. The negative part – the killing, the removing of a mad regime – this is doable, and is a first and necessary big positive step, justified by itself. The chances the next regime will be as bad as Saddam are nill, but if another Saddam emerges – it might be necessary to remove him too.

  • Scott Cattanach

    If all we have to do is remove Saddam, that’s done and we can come home immediately.

    And I hate to break the bad news to you, but given the number of Saddam level regimes in the world, I don’t think the odds of a later Iraqi leader being just as bad are nil. Its not like Iraq was the one non-democracy in the region.

  • Jacob

    “Jacob, regardless of whether you support going into Iran and/or Syria next, your war gives aid and comfort to those who do, who want to expand the war, and keep it going and going and going….. ”

    This is the argument from ideology, ignoring the particulars of the case.

    You imply that this war was done by people out of sheer love for war, people who want “to expand the war and keep it going and going…”.
    You take it as self evident and axiomatic that there was no factual justification for the war (i.e. Saddam was dangerous).

    As to Syria or Iran – we will argue the merits of those cases acording to the facts of the case.
    You cannot argue along the line: “since in the future a mistaken decision for war against Iran may be reached, I now oppose any war, like the war against Iraq, whether justified or not”.

  • Scott Cattanach

    The people who drove the war with Iraq are pushing for wars w/ Iran and/or Syria – that’s not something I just made up. National Review and The Weekly Standard are acting out of sheer love of war. Rumsfeld was saber rattling against Syria during the war, and we are making the same noises about Iran that we made about Iraq (WMDs and Al Queda). Those are the people you are supporting when you support their war.

  • Jacob

    So your revulsion at Rumsfeld and the National Review causes you to oppose the war ?
    “Rumsfeld was saber rattling against Syria …”
    So what ? Are you so sensitive and protective of the butchers of Damascus that you insist on protecting them from mere exposure to Rumsfeld’s saber rattling ?
    ” [NR and WS] ….are acting out of sheer love of war. ”
    How do you know that ? Is this an undisputable fact or just your assessment based on your disputed assessment of Saddam’s dangerousness ?
    In short – it is possible to be in favor of war against Iraq not “… out of sheer love of war” but out of beleif that Saddam was dangerous and murderous.

  • Kullervo

    It’s all very messy buisness. To not support the war on Iraq, you would have to justify yourself with shakey accusations of the opposition like: “They are doing for oil, to spread American Imperialism” and such arguements; to support the war you would support it on equally shakey and conflicting presuppositions like “They are a direct threat” and “We are just liberating them”.

    But, given those two sides, is there not a middle ground? As libertarians, could we not say that the war was for more positive effects than adverse effects? While we may not support Bush and Blair, we can accept the war and acknowledge that their hackneyed arguments were somewhat silly and unfounded, and yet, from our perspective- there was more of our ideals in the war: A defensive attack, responding to the active repression of liberty. We can aknowledge that we are not in power, and that we a minority- and therefore on certain issues we will have to make ideological concessions in order to achieve the result. The war serves positive results: ridding of the regime, and letting the world know that the Anglosphere is talking serious buisness now. No more apeasement, and no more presumptious and puffy meetings and diplomacy, we are speaking action now. The war was not an aggressive act to spread liberty, it was defending liberty. The fact that other countries, just as oppresive werent targeted ignores the history of the regime in Iraq, in the last 20 years.
    I myself, an American, was not sure on what my stance would be when this first started. I did believe my gvmt when they stated that they had WMD’s, why would they lie? Do we not have one of the greatest intelligence services in the world? Who am I to say I know more about whats going on in Iraq than the US and UK intelligence? So I somewhat was in accord with the aggression on Iraq- I was glad when Bush undermined the UN, showing their true colors! I was glad when we were finally finishing the work we started in the early 90’s, it was embarassing enough in the 80’s, although I was just a boy, and probably didnt even know what was going on.

    About WMD’s, If Blair and Bush in fact were actively deceiving, did they not know afterwards it would be proved that they were? And if they were low enough to intentionally deceive about the exsistence of WMD’s, would they not now be low enough to at least plant them, or conjure up false evidence? Why would they willingly be humiliated?

    As for me, whether or not I was mistaken in supporting the war- I think only time will tell. We will see the results of this war. Granted, we would have done this differently, but perhaps this will be for the betterment of the Middle East situation- as for now, I can find no justification active dissent- we have yet to see if the claims will be substantiated. Excuse any typo’s, I am writing quickly and dont feel like reading it over.

  • Scott Cattanach

    Jacob, Bush called this “the battle for Iraq” and part of the “war on terror”. Saying they just might expand this war isn’t some arbitrary thing I came up with. If we do invade Iran, will your response be “What a surprise! I never dreamed they’d do that!”?

    NR and TWS have the type of writers (in this case it was Max Boot in the WSJ) who were upset that we didn’t take more casualties in Afghanistan so that would prove we could take it politically. The editor of NR is on record as favoring the “throw some shitty country up against the wall every 10 years just to prove we still can” school of diplomacy.

    The risk you knowingly take when you support their war is that they get their way, and you would bear some responsibility for that.

  • mad dog barker

    Tolstoy has already written war and peace. Perhaps we should move on to the next subject…

  • Kit Taylor

    Kit: I still don’t get the argument for public funding of a war intended purely to spread liberty…”

    G Cooper: There is a very simple (overwhelming, I’d suggest) argument for it. Liberty is inevitably threatened by tyranny…if you won’t move against it, it will move against you.

    Kit: You’ve short circuited your argument by pointing out that defeating tyranny is about national defense, not spreading liberty. Perry et al have put aside national security and advanced their arguments through emotional blackmail.

    The main problem is that Samizdata’s language is all to cock. Please, a little more straight talk and a little less sturm und drang hand wringing.

  • mad dog barker

    I take your point. The next subject isn’t all that hot.

    Now where were we. Ah yes, less “sturm und drang”… well I’ll start the simple talk.

    Afghanistan: Taliban:Bastards. Genocide is too good for them.

    Iraq: We’ve had the party. We cannot wind back the clock. The chief has announced that the war is offically over. Can we go home now please.

    Zimbabwe: I know, lets spread the rumour that Saddam has fled there with his weapons of mass distruction. You never know – it might catch on.

    Burma (sorry Manyamar): Looks ripe for the picking! Destestable regime. Photogenic opposition.

    Israel/Palestine: Let’s just elevate it to the 51st state and let the lawyers make all the killing.

    Ah the pizza’s arrived!

  • Kit: Not through emotional blackmail but by focusing on the individual… It’s all very simple, what matters is the individual, not national security, politicians and their rhetoric, various theories and consipiracy theories.

  • Scott Cattanach

    Gabriel, the govt you choose to operate through doesn’t focus on individuals, unless that individual has something they want. The govt won’t ultimately do what you want and seem to expect, even if you agree with what they did today. Samizdata is giving rhetorical cover to the same politicians who want the UK in the EU and the US to ‘enjoy’ the PATRIOT Act.

    The EU is just an extreme form of the “I am my brother’s keeper” thinking we see justifying the invasion of Iraq, and restrictions on civil liberties are part of the same “war on terror” the invasion of Iraq is.

    War related restrictions on civil liberties and threats to invade and occupy other countries aren’t something that suddenly came up after Iraq – they’ve been part of this all along. That is the war you support when you support our govts in Iraq – the pure libertarian war of “liberation then go home” you claim to favor isn’t happening and will never happen.

  • Kit Taylor

    I think really this is a tension between libertarian philosphers and classical liberal political types.

  • Jacob

    “The risk you knowingly take when you support their war is that they get their way, and you would bear some responsibility for that.”

    What you are saying is: never trust the gvmnt bastards and liars and patriot-act-cheats. Never go to war, never !! (a la Villepin).

    Well, that’s Pacifism. That’s Utopia.

    There are bad guys out there, which might hit you and need killing. We have a gvmnt and an army to take care of these cases. Gvmnt is awfully inefficient and dumb sometimes (like before 911), but that is the best we could produce. We don’t live in a world of nirvana, devoid of bad guys, where you can sit back and enjoy your confortable life, and nobody bothers you. And we don’t have better ways of taking care of the bad guys.

    Of course, you say Saddam wasn’t dangerous. I don’t agree. But that is a tivial question of fact, not of philosophy. That is all there is to debate in this issue, all the rest is irrelevant. If Saddam was dangerous then the war was necessary.

  • Scott Cattanach

    never trust the gvmnt bastards and liars and patriot-act-cheats

    Exactly. There are lots of bad people out there – I don’t deny that. I just realize that some of those bad people want this war in order to ‘protect’ me from the monster they created to counter Iran, which was the monster they created by supporting the Shah, etc.

    Its not pacifism or utopianism to believe that anything Bush and Rumsfeld say about Iraq is a load of crap. Its utopianism to believe those idiots.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Ultimately, the acid test of whether the recent campaign in Iraq was a success is whether it demonstrably improves the chances of the West not being attacked on the scale of 9/11 again. The Bush doctrine of active self-defence or “pre-emption” was, so I thought, supposed to be consistent with the right of nations to do what was deemed neceessary to defend themselves.

    Deposing Saddam was a key step in that. Yes, we haven’t found any significant caches of WMDs but, bear in mind the deviousnessness and lack of honesty of Saddam in the 12 years after Gulf War 1, there were plenty of reasons, particularly after 9/11, for the Western powers to move on the basis of assuming the worst.

    Again we are back to the old argument of “can Saddam be deterred and is he rational?” argument. There is no conclusive way of answering that. We had to go by what we know Saddam had done before. And his track record, however you look at it, was terrible.

    I am not quite so harsh on Scott C. as Perry because I do understand Scott’s worry that pre-emption could become another excuse for Big Government to run amok. I just think Scott’s judgement vis Iraq is wrong on this instance, but I hardly think that makes him an idiot.

    Or maybe I am getting mild in my old age.

  • Scott Cattanach

    “Attacked on the scale of 9/11” took 20 guys and $2 plastic boxcutters.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    “Attacked on the scale of 9/11 took 20 guys and $2 plastic boxcutters”

    Scott, what exactly is your point?

  • Jacob

    “Its not pacifism or utopianism to believe that anything Bush and Rumsfeld say about Iraq is a load of crap”
    You may have your opinion about Bush and Rum., but that is not the issue here.
    The issue is – was Saddam dangerous.
    Bush & Rum have their view, which you might like or hate, but you must form your own opinion, regrdless of theirs, based on the facts as best you can judge them.
    Seems your hatred of B&R is a sufficient base for you to form a solid opinion, and this is wrong.

  • Scott Cattanach

    Jacob, my point was believing that Saddam is bad, and trusting Bush and Rummy to “protect” us from Saddam are two completely different issues. You say my opinion of B&R is irrelevant to the first part, but ignore the fact that my opinion of them is entirely relevant to the second.

  • Jacob

    So, if Saddam is bad and needs killing – who will do it ? Bush & Rummy you don’t trust ? OK. Is there anybody else who you trust the job with ?
    If not then we are back at square one (pacifism) – let Saddam eat us, don’t do anything, because I misstrust Government even more than I fear Saddam.

  • Scott Cattanach

    Saddam wasn’t going to eat us. Our governments lied about his WMD capabilities and the ability of his army to threaten his neighbors (let alone threaten us).

    Saddam being bad and Saddam being a direct threat are also two different claims.

  • Scott Cattanach

    My horror at PoW sex abuse pics

    THE young mum who uncovered the Iraqi PoW sex snaps scandal said last night: “I felt sick to the stomach at those pictures.”

    Kelly Tilford, 22, called police after developing a film in her photo shop.

    The shocking pictures — revealed by The Sun yesterday — showed male Iraqis apparently forced into sexual positions by their British captors. In another a prisoner was suspended by rope from a fork-lift truck driven by a laughing Brit….

  • Mary Rose

    So what? The fact a few idiots who will hopefull be prosecuted chose to act disgracefully has no bearing on the overall issues here. Some British troops acted disgracefully in WW2, so does that make the British fight against the Nazis less valid? What these people seems to have done is criminal but unlike the Iraqis who committed vastly more serious crimes under Saddam Hussain, these guys will find they will have to answer to a court marshal.

    That you have to trot this stuff out is a measure of the weakness of your position and reflects the fact you have lost the intellectual and moral argument.

  • T. J. Madison

    At this point I’d like to suggest an easy, uncontroversial change to U.S. foreign policy that will promote peace and stability while reducting terror.

    Why don’t we encourage the USG to stop giving $0.5 billion/yr. to the government of Uzbekistan?

    No killing, bombing, blockading, or other use of taxpayer resources is required. Just the cutting off of aid to a State which the U.S. Department of State claims uses torture on a “routine” basis.

    (I would find any objections to this notion from the “but Saddam tortures his own people” crowd very interesting indeed.)

  • Scott Cattanach

    Madison, you’ll get some half-hearted (“OK, I don’t approve of foreign aid in the first place”) comments, then more thread after thread praising The War.

    Mary Rose, this is how governments “liberate” people. Sorry if that bothers you so much.

  • Mary Rose

    So then your position is because of what those soldiers are alleged to have done, that means that rather than have that sort of thing happen, it would have been better to leave Iraq to Saddam’s people.

    That is like saying because a fireman stole a teacup in the house in which he was putting out a fire, it shows that it would be better that no firemen go into that house and put the fire out, because stealing a teacup is as bad as the house burning down and ‘that is how firemen put out fires’.

    What bothers me is that you are so dogmatically attached to the idea that this terrible thing done by the British government is worse that leaving Saddam in place.

    The horse is dead, Scott, and no amount of flogging it will move you any closer to the finish line, but you obviously are too emotionally attached to the poor dead thing to see that.

  • Scott Cattanach

    Mary Rose, its a sad, sad thing when you read a story about an allied atrocity and your only thought is “see, this just proves that I’m right!!!!”

    Besides, this sounds more like firemen raping the daughter who lives in the house than stealing a teacup. This isn’t a trivial accusation here.

  • Mary Rose

    I agree that it is not a trivial matter, but it is also irrelevent to the case for getting rid of Saddam Hussain. We are talking many orders of magnitude difference between the crimes of a small group of squadies and decades of mass murder by a state. Can you not see how this makes you look like you are clutching at straws? Probably not I suppose.

  • Scott Cattanach

    This isn’t a straw, Mary Rose, its the sort of thing that will make “liberating” Iraq (instead of just killing the Bastard Du Jour) impossible.

    Irrelevant or not to the case for getting rid of Saddam, this is relevant to how you chose to get rid of him.

  • Johnathan

    Scott, it is perfectly honorable to worry about such matters – it is to your credit – but this is a WAR we are talking about, not a game of cricket, or, if we must, a game of baseball. In wars, such things happen. That doesn’t make it right, but you must consider the overall context.

    The trouble with the liberation argument, however, is that is not the prime justification for war as I see it from a libertarian point of view. In my view, the prime reason is that SH was a menace, as evinced by two decades of his time in power. All else is detail.

    And Scott, for goodness sake get a blog.

  • Scott Cattanach

    And Scott, for goodness sake get a blog.

    My between semesters break is over, so y’all will probably see less of me now.

    Is that loud cheering I hear all the way across the Atlantic? 🙂

  • The war was no “triumph” for the Iraqi people. Look the word up. It was a triumph for/of American arms. It was a great benefit to the Iraqi people, yes. Bought at the expense of Americans like me.

    I am happy to see Saddam gone. I am unhappy at the way it was done – because I am a libertarian. The morality of means matters to a libertarian, not only the morality of ends. Huge standing armies, and the taxes necessary to maintain them, do not accord with my philosophy. Mr Cattanach is exactly right. To the extent that you endorse actions by tax-based organizations, you are not a libertarian. To that extent, you are a socialist. War is the health of socialism.

    If Saddam really needed to be overthrown by force of arms, the money and men to do it should have been collected voluntarily. As it is, I probably paid more towards the liberation than half the people reading this. If I had been asked nicely I might have contributed voluntarily. Alas, we shall never know since I was rudely dispossessed for your war.

    Just like welfare.

  • snide

    Just more meaningless words, leonard. You want saddam gone but oppose any means that actually exist in the real world to make that happen. yeah, right, the Iraqi people should just have waited for the comining libertarian paradise and taken their lumps in the mean time. You are not a ‘libertarian’, you are a useful idiot to a mass murderer. A self-righteous useful idiot spouting other people’s words at that.

  • Snide, the quality of your argument astounds me. Are there any other names you can call me that you think will make your argument even stronger? Perhaps “racist” would help? Will you look farther into my head and discover my thoughts and motives? Perhaps you can tell us all what I think of you.

    I’ll start you off with this. When people cannot answer an argument, the lesser minds go ad hominem. Honest men are willing to reexamine their principles.

  • PaulD

    I think we are all glad that Saddam is gone, but for those of you who think that eliminating his (evil/terrible/your choice) regime this was sufficient justification for the war (and that WMD might merely have been stressed as THE reason for purposes mentioned by such luminaries as Paul Wolfowitz) would you then support a US invasion of other such (evil/terrible/your choice) regimes?

    And if not, are you a (hypocrite/partisan/dupe/your choice epithet)?

  • Dear Prime Minister Blair,

    Please accept my tax payments for the service of invading North Korea, Syria, Zimbabwe and Burma, plus I would like to purchase ‘invasion options’ on Iran, Belorus, Liberia, Congo and France just in case. If you find I am short for these services, kindly reallocate the funds taken from my account for socialised healthcare, socialised transport services, racial sensitivity training, subsidies for Operas and cow flatulance studies, none of which I want, and apply the money to the one service the state provides that I actually do want.


    Perry de Havilland

  • cinquo

    Damn all you neocons and bloodthirsty statists who pretend to be REAL LIBERTY LOVERS! Damn all those ARCH-STATISTS who lead us into offensive wars. The worst of your lot is Thomas Jefferson, that statist led us to both CONQUER peaceful native americans and OPPRESS the Barbary Pirates. And we wondered why these pirates attack us? NO BLOOD FOR CARGO!

    dogma is for dogs

  • OPPRESS THE BARBARY PIRATES? Now that is interesting… You hate Jefferson for conquering native Americans and yet have no problem with Muslim pirates interfereing with free trade on the high seas and enslaving people.

    So if a group of pirates can enslave (quite literally) American sailors by attacking them on the high seas and you think THAT does not justify war, then truly you are beyond the reach of logic.

    At least some paleo-libertarians who were ‘anti-libertation of Iraq’ can make valid points about why the US/UK should not have done it (such as the ‘not-on-my-dime’ argument and the ‘cost to our liberty’ argument’, both of which make sense) but, Cinquo my boy, with enemies like you making arguments like that, people like me really don’t need friends. Feel free to keep digging deeper.

    Then again, maybe you are actually being ironic because I find it hard to believe anyone would actually write the words “OPPRESS the Barbary Pirates” if they were not either joking or were members of Al Qaeda. I suppose the Mafia is being oppressed too, eh?

  • docob

    actually, looks to me like cinquo is mocking the anti-war, “no blood for oil” crowd (with a jab at moral relativists and apologists for terror thrown in for good measure) and doing a damn fine job of it at that!

    “And we wonder why these pirates attack us?”

    priceless!!!! =)

  • Dear Mr. DeHavilland,

    On behalf of the British State, I thank you for your tax payments. Unfortunately, they are not enough to buy the invasions you want and the social services that we need. Fortunately we have determined the correct solution: raised taxes. Please submit to the treasury a cheque for 10,000 pounds, payable immediately. (If you do not, we will imprison you.) Our vital social services are running short, and in wartime, I am sure you understand the need to cooperate. We must all stand together and fight as a team for what we believe in! I cannot guarantee you that your additional contribution will go towards warfare, but I am sure you understand that such guarantees cannot be made in any democracy. We certainly cannot expect the Parliament to consider itself bound by mere promises.

    Sincerely, your ruler,


  • People who say that the war on Iraq was meant to free it’s people from Saddam are missing the big point. If you remember, we did not go to war to ‘liberate the people of Iraq’; That was only a side job, and it has now become the Great Excuse. The whole point of this war was to get rid of some terrorist threats and make this world a more peacefull place. It was an utter failure. Terrorism is worse than ever, and more people are getting killed because of it. Iraq didn’t have WMD or any connection to the Talaban, and it definitely wasn’t any immediate danger to the US or anyone else. Now Iraq is a breeding ground for new terrorists and a magnet for existing ones. We were lied to, and instead of punishing our leaders for wasting our resources and tax dollars, were are covering their asses for them. Shame on the Bush administration, shame on you.