Archive for the ‘Iraq’ Tag

VDH: “The End of Journalism”

Victor Davis Hanson:

Sometime in 2008, journalism as we knew it died, and advocacy media took its place.

we have never quite seen anything like the current media infatuation with Barack Obama, and its collective desire not to raise key issues of concern to the American people. Here were four areas of national interest that were largely ignored.

I’ve listed his four points w/ brief notes.  Read the article to get the story on each one.

  1. Campaign Financing: Imagine the reaction of the New York Times or the Washington Post had John McCain renounced his promise to participate in public campaign financing, proceeded instead to amass $600 million and outraise the publicly financed Barack Obama four-to-one, and begun airing special 30-minute unanswered infomercials during the last week of the campaign.
  2. The VP Candidates: … we are about to elect a vice president about whom we know only that he has been around a long time, but little else — and nothing at all why exactly Joe Biden says the most astounding and often lunatic things.
  3. The Past as Present: Imagine the reaction of CNN or NBC had John McCain’s pastor and spiritual advisor of 20 years been revealed as a white supremacist who damned a multiracial United States, or had he been a close acquaintance until 2005 of an unrepentant terrorist bomber of abortion clinics, or had McCain himself sued to eliminate congressional opponents by challenging the validity of African-American voters who signed petitions, or had both his primary and general election senatorial rivals imploded once their sealed divorce records were mysteriously leaked.
  4. Socialism? Imagine the reaction of NPR and PBS had John McCain advocated something like abolishing all capital gains taxes, or repealing incomes taxes in favor of a national retail sales tax.

There are many other things the media has failed to properly inform the US public of.  A quick list would include things like:

  1. Saddam’s bribery of France, Russia and China to keep himself in power
  2. The Oil-for-Food scandal, which was bigger than Enron and possibly lead to the deaths of half a million Iraqis, but which got extremely little coverage
  3. In Feb. 2003 Hans Blix listed 1000 tons of chemical weapons agent that Saddam declared he had in 1991 but had failed to turn over or prove he had destroyed as an example of what his team was searching for
  4. That a number of foreign intelligence agencies confirmed CIA reports that Saddam had WMDs
  5. That the deputy commander of CentCom, Gen. DeLong, claims we had intelligence assets on the ground before the invasion who saw WMDs being loaded into semi-trailer trucks bound for Syria
  6. Joseph Wilson’s lying in his NYT article and the fact that the Bush administration response was to declassify his testimony to the CIA proving he lied
  7. The actual conditions under which they reported from Iraq during the sanctions period (i.e., they failed to inform us Iraqi intelligence agents were with them constantly, that if they reported negative things about Saddam’s regime they would get kicked out of the country, etc.)

I could keep going, but I’m out of time tonight.

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the danger of the UN

In the comments to a post at abu muqawama (a good COIN blog), there is a discussion of the role of the UN in world security. I take the position that it has recently made the world a more dangerous place. Here is my argument, which is also posted in abu muqawama’s comments. (The whole post is worth a read as well.)

The invasion of Iraq in 2003 was a direct result of the UN’s corruption during the sanctions period. If the UN had authorized the removal of Saddam in 1998 when the inspectors decided he was making their job impossible, they could have given him one last chance and he would have made good on it, or not. Whether Saddam complied or not, and been removed or not, the UN would have been both effective and seen as effective, and it would have kept the proper relationship between US military force and the UN. This would have probably been the best resolution.

Instead, when Butler and his inspectors left Iraq, the UN did nothing, and effectively the Coalition did nothing. Of course, by that time three of the permanent members of the UNSC had been bought by offers to allow their oil companies to develop Iraqi oil fields once sanctions were lifted. Since the US had made a big show of following the UNSC, Saddam considered himself safe to do as he pleased.

What pleased him was causing pretty big numbers of Iraqis to die due to malnutrition and lack of proper medical care after he had corrupted the Oil for Food program. The UN officials he bought looked the other way, and he and his cronies got wealthier while his propaganda machine exploited the deaths he caused to build hatred against the US. AQ cited Iraqi deaths under sanctions as one reason they attacked the US, I believe, and I am fairly certain Saddam’s propaganda on the sanctions helped recruit anti-US terrorists in the late 90s and early 2000s.

At the same time, Saddam was funding and supporting terrorist groups, particularly ones that targeted Israel. Since the Isreali-Palestinian issue is seen as key to peace in the ME, Saddam’s influence was for more war and less peace.

The UN was Saddam’s main protector, regardless of what he did, what laws he broke, or how many deaths he caused, because he bribed the relevant components of it. This contributed far more to violence and instability than to peace, law and order. Clearly the UN increased the threat of violence in the ME and the world during that decade, and it has not apparently improved in the meantime.

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part 2

american empire?

In response to a dreadful piece of faux-journalism in the Atlantic entitled The Price of Empire:

In 1945 neither the Germans nor Japanese had a choice in whether or not to be occupied. However, since then, the democratically elected governments of both nations have renewed the defense treaties and agreed to continue to host US bases. What is more, both governments have enacted policies antithetical to American interests from time to time, for example, Japan’s export policies, and Germany’s refusal to go along with the invasion of Iraq.

Next, empires by definition are physically maintained by force (cf. Rome, British Empire) and for the economic benefit of the empire, frequently to the detriment of the subservient regions. In the cases of both Germany and Japan, however, we see a voluntary military association that could be abridged by the German or Japanese governments, and we see that rather than economically profiting from these associations, the US poured huge sums of money into these nations for no defined economic gain. These two nations are in no way cases of empire as normally understood.

However, in the early 20th century, the Lenin-Hobson (i.e., communist) theory of empire asserted that capitalist nations who run out of internal ways to use capital will then turn outwards and will force weaker nations into economic subservience, creating a new kind of empire. The Lenin-Hobson concept of empire also turns on the use of coercion backed up by armed force. This has turned out to be false, but has become a mainstay of leftist thinking since it was published.

If, for the sake of argument, we allow both cases, then an empire is maintained by coercion and at least the threat of military force. Iraq and Afghanistan may or may not fit into this category (depending on whether the US pours more money in or takes more out of each of them)*, but Japan and Germany, who freely signed renewals of their defense treaties with the US, certainly do not.

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h/t to Winds of Change

* Update: Actually, whether or not these two nations are part of an alleged American empire depends on several factors, first among them being whether or not they become fully independent nations, whether they are being exploited economically, etc. Right now I find it highly improbable, but I also maintain that we don’t know everything going on, so my estimate may change later.

Update ( June 29, 2008 ): Armed and Dangerous has an excellent post that approaches the topic from a different angle, followed up by a reply to a commenter.

patriotism is the highest form of dissent

along with things like courage, service in the armed forces, unabashed masculinity, and belief in honor and duty.

I find LT G’s story of wearing his Guinness socks to his commissioning a little too precious. Oh, he’s brave enough to stare death in the face, but for some reason feels he must demonstrate his rebellion against authority or his frail little identity might be crushed. How precious. Is mandatory rebellion meaningful, or merely a conceit?

LT G is the embodiment of transgression in the post-modern world; he is patriotic, courageous, skilled in the use of arms, and honorable. What socks have to do with it I can’t begin to fathom, but we all have our little conceits and idiosyncrasies. And, he’s cav; what do you expect? At least they’re Guinness socks. That shows character.