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Squander This!

IIt's rare to read an article one agrees with so completely. For me, this Time Magazine piece by Charles Krauthammer is one of them:

The world apparently likes the U.S. when it is on its knees. From that the Democrats deduce a foreign policy - remain on our knees, humble and supplicant, and enjoy the applause and "support" of the world.

This is not just degrading. It is a fool's bargain -- 3,000 dead for a day's worth of nice words and a few empty U.N. resolutions. The Democrats would forfeit American freedom of action and initiative in order to get back - what? Another nice French editorial? To be retracted as soon as the U.S. stops playing victim?

Sympathy is fine. But if we "squander" it when we go to war to avenge our dead and prevent the next crop of dead, then to hell with sympathy.

It's so perfect, I can't think of anything to add except the standard "read the whole thing." (Of course, you might already have, because it's Time Magazine's most-emailed article at the moment.)


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Comments (8)

Except Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, had no dealings with al Qaeda, and had no WMD to threaten us with.

To hell with Krauthammer's vengance. It's the real fool's bargain.


Nobody said Saddam had anything to do with 9/11, the details on Iraq's dealings with al Qaeda are still coming out, and we wouldn't have learned the truth about the WMD (which *everyone* said he had at the time) without sending in the army.

Krauthammer's point isn't vengeance. His point is to dismiss the tired canard that the U.S. had somehow "squandered" the world's goodwill by pointing out that the world never had that much real goodwill for the U.S. in the first place.

The lack of WMD matters because the inspections process in place from 1991-1998 did work. Iraq gave up many more WMD and weapons voluntarily from inspections than they lost to military action in both wars combined.

And, of course, the world agreed that inspections should be renewed and Iraq complied. Credit the US military pressure if you want, but there's no reason inspectors couldn't have continued working -- and could have achieved the same results. In fact, the inspectors already declared Iraq nuclear weapons free before the war. Nuclear programs require fairly large and noticable infrastructures and Iraq didn't have them. Period.

International consensus brings legitimacy. Without political legitimacy, members of a community do not feel obliged to embrace norms. The US wants new anti-WMD and anti-terror norms and wants contributions to the Iraq campaign.

A huge barrier to the creation of those norms and that cooperation is the lack of legitimacy undergirding US policy in Iraq (signalled by the failed UN resolution on using force, for example).

So, world "goodwill" does matter.

Most international law is built on legitimacy (goodwill). I recommend Thomas Franck's The Power of Legitimacy Among Nations.


Except Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, had no dealings with al Qaeda, and had no WMD to threaten us with.

I have to admire the way the Left stays on message no matter what topic is being discussed. The fact that the article was pointing out that the sympathy that our “friends” had for us after 9/11 was phony seems to have gone totally over your head. All you are able to do is to repeat your mantra – no 9/11, no al Queda, no WMD, no 9/11, no al Queda, no WMD, no 9/11, no al Queda, no WMD, ad infinitum any time you see the word Iraq.

Look I am sorry that your hero Saddam Hussein was removed from power. But take heart. There are still many more dictators in the world that are murdering their people that you can admire.

Oh, you did not support Saddam’s murdering of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis? Then, shut up about the fact that Saddam is no longer in power or else we will know that you really didn’t care about Iraqis being butchered.


In the 2000 debate with Al Gore, then-candidate George W. Bush was asked if he would have supported intervention in Rwanda before 600,000 people were killed.

He said no, that would not have been in the interest of the US.

The current administration's justification for attacking Iraq was based on WMD and terrorism. No one said Saddam Hussein was a friend (check that, some Reagan officials came close in the 1980s) or that he wasn't a horrible tyrant.

Fact: If the US intends to go after horrible tyrants and rebuild nations, it wouldn't have started with Iraq and George W. Bush wouldn't be the President to do it since he was opposed to both ideas in 2000.


Who says Saddam had no WMD to threaten us with? You are of course aware that he used chemical weapons to repress the Shia uprising, no?

Oh, you mean because we haven't found any yet. Nevermind. We also haven't found Saddam. I guess that means he didn't exist either.

As for the al Quaeda connection... hmm, how about we wait until all the facts come out before we, you know, jump to conclusions.



Thanks for giving me the exact response I was expecting from you. One would assume that you would be happy that Saddam is not in power anymore to continue killing Iraqis and funding Palestinian terrorism. However, one would be wrong.

So you think that humanitarian intervention is like a billiards game and it only counts if you call it ahead of time? The fact that the world is rid of a murderous dictator means nothing to you because in your mind it was done for the wrong reason.

The current administration's justification for attacking Iraq was based on WMD and terrorism.

Yes. Those were the primary reasons that the Bush administration gave as justification for intervention. You do remember 9/11, don’t you? Three thousand innocent people were killed. Did you really think that we should take a chance on being attacked again? I didn’t.

However, they also used the fact that Saddam Hussein was a murdering despot as another reason to get rid of hi m. They stated that reason numerous times. However, because that was not the prime reason, as far as you are concerned, it does not count.

You have amply illustrated the type of person you are. Your consuming hatred for George Bush overcomes any humanitarian instincts you may have had. Rather than celebrating the removal of a dictator, you are lamenting the fact that he is still not in power. I suggest you check your moral compass. It appears to be permanently broken.


What do you know about the type of person I am? I've made no assumptions about you. I have no consuming hatred for anyone.

In any case, your last post is wrong on a number of levels, so it is difficult to know where to begin.

First, Bush specifically repudiated humanitarian intervention (as well as nation-building) as a reason for using US troops throughout the 2000 campaign. He said it prominently in nationally televised debates.

I could be mad as hell as a George Bush 2000 voter.

Moreover, since 9/11, the US has cut new deals with horrible despotic regimes. Consider Uzbekistan, for example. Apparently, the regime boils its opponents alive.

Second, it is good that Saddam Hussein is gone, but past experience toppling regimes suggests there's no guarantee the replacement won't be worse. The CIA toppled the Iranian government in 1954 and the US supported the Shah for a quarter of a century -- but has now considered Iran a dangerous rogue state for 20 years. It's membership in the "axis if evil" didn't emerge overnight.

Third, the assumption you make about the Iraqi threat is quite flawed.

Obviously I am quite concerned about 3000 dead from 9/11. It's repugnant that you imply I'm not.

And in fact, there's damn good evidence that the war on terror has suffered as a direct consequence of the war in Iraq. State Department translators, military special forces, intelligence analysts, etc. have been reassigned from one task to another.

Moreover, many experts suggest that the war in Iraq is creating new terrorists -- opposed to the US occupation of Iraq. Stalinist regimes are horrible, but they have almost no terrorism.

Deterrence and inspections were working to contain Saddam Hussein throughout the 1990s. Even Condi Rice and Colin Powell said as much throughout 2000 and 2001.

The US annually publishes a list of state sponsors of terror. Iraq hadn't committed any state sponsored terror since 1993.

Meanwhile, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are much more worrisome and these states are considered important partners in the war on terror. The 2001 State Department report on terrorism said Pakistan was quite worrisome and Richard Armitage of that agency strongly hinted in a 2001 visit to India that the Bush administration considered Pakistan a rogue state -- a reason, in fact, for building US missile defenses.

That's enough for now.


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