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Dissension in the ranks

Normally, I refrain from publicly disagreeing with Kevin and Paul, as it really is rather gauche behavior. But Paul's piece last night about the Downing Street memo has prompted me to put out my own take on the matter.

First of all, I don't disagree a whit with what Paul pointed out last night -- the memos being cited are now of completely inadmissible status in any court. By the journalists' own admissions, they are third-generation (at best) reproductions (not even copies) of the originals. Their legal value is zero.

That being said, I have to agree with the guys over at Powerline. I believe that the memos released are, for the most part, accurate representations of actual official documents. But the significance of those memos have been vastly overstated. They are the OPINIONS of one person on what other people THOUGHT other people were THINKING. It's speculation piled upon presumption.

Further, the wording itself is open for interpretation -- the key word the left focuses on, "fixed," has several meanings. The definitions of "repair" and "get revenge" doesn't seem to apply here, so that leaves "attached or based on a single point" and "arrange for a predetermined outcome." And with the phrasing of "fixed around," that pretty much leaves out the latter meaning. Besides, that definition is far more of an Americanism than a Britishism.

But to that I say, "so what?" Removing Saddam from power had been the clearly-stated goal of the United States for years at that point, endorsed by two Presidents, the Congress, and numerous government officials of both parties. And if the cause of WMDs was being faked, why did the memo express such concern about dealing with their potential use?

The questions Paul and others raise about the memos are good questions, but ultimately only relevant if there is a trial where they would become evidence -- such as an impeachment hearing. At that point, the prosecutors would have to try to obtain the originals from the British government, because the versions seen so far are worthless. And I wouldn't bet a plugged Euro on the likelihood of the British government agreeing to release highly secret government documents to be entered into public record.

And if they did, again, so what? They prove absolutely nothing that even comes close to impeachable. Certainly they show that Bush was convinced that it would take military force to remove Saddam from power, and was preparing to do so, but that's abundantly clear from a variety of other sources. It's the sort of thing that you argue over, that you wage fierce political battles over, but nowhere near the kind of thing you impeach a president over (unless that president is Andrew Johnson).

The left wants the Downing Street Memos to be the "smoking gun", much like the Watergate tapes where Nixon agreed to cover up the ties between the burglars and his administration. As one of their recent presidents might say, "that dog don't hunt."

In a nutshell, both Paul and I think that the Downing Street Memos are, politically, crap. He thinks they're bull crap, while I think they're chicken crap. In either case, they're hardly the sort of things you'd want to lay before a judge.


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Dissension in the ranks:

» Joust The Facts linked with Authenticate

» In Search Of Utopia linked with Nothing new here Redux...

» The Right Place linked with The Downing Street Memo Follies

» Macmind - Conservative Commentary and Common Sense linked with Michael? Is that you?

Comments (38)

Bull crap vs chicken crap..... (Below threshold)

Bull crap vs chicken crap..crap by any other name..

But that won't stop the Mary Mapes or Dan Rathers of the world, will it?

Whats amazing about this wh... (Below threshold)

Whats amazing about this whole downing street bullshit is that the left seems to be all keyed up on Bush wanting to remove Saddam from power, that appears to be the over-riding issue that the left feels that the US should never have interfered with Saddam, yadda, yadda yadda.

But as usual their memories are short and they seem ignorant of the "Iraq Liberation Act of 1998" (Public Law 105-338). Not only did it call for Saddam Hussein's ouster, it also spelled out the goal of replacing his regime with a democratic Iraq. And guess who signed that bill into law...Bill Clinton.

So since Iraqi regieme change was the law of hte land, doesnt that negate the stupidity of the "illegal war" claims?

Gabriel: From what... (Below threshold)
Lurking Observer:


From what I've read in the blogosphere, the difference, at least among much of the Left, appears to be that Clinton didn't go to war in order to fulfill that law.

Somehow, firing cruise missiles and maintaining sanctions (which the Left at the time decried for having killed 5000 Iraqi babies a month) was sufficient.

That Bush should go ahead and actually meet the terms of said law (and in the process put boots on the ground) is the difference.

One wonders whether the Left would have laughed or cried, had Clinton just ordered the assassination of Saddam outright?

This 'memo' farce is just t... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

This 'memo' farce is just trolling writ large.
The Left are just trying to muddy the waters and change the subject. If/when these 'memos' are proven to be authentic copies of authentic copies, the Lefties will say "Ah ha! See, they're legit! So Bush lied!" When in fact, as we all know, the 'info' in these memos is just third hand opinion of someone elses opinion.

Total red herring.

This is typical political B... (Below threshold)
Steve L.:

This is typical political BS. The left still can't believe that we didn't vote the girly-man ticket into power in the last election. They would rather be victims of terrorists and tyrants than do something about them. Victimhood suits their purpose to keep everyone scared and allow them to further increase the nanny state.

As for the memos, they are counting on the average American's attention span being about 26 seconds. Something like the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 happened seven years ago and is, thus, ancient history. I would be willing to bet money that les that 25% of the adults in America know about that act, but that 100% of adults know that Clinton got a hummer in the Oval Office. That's the sad state of our society.

The left is hoping facts won't get in the way of wild conjecture and rumors. Unfortunately, our country gets its news from Entertainment Tonight, so there's a good chance their plan will work.

Id like to point out that m... (Below threshold)

Id like to point out that much of the libertarian and right wing blogosphere was assuming that there was going to be a ground war in Iraq BEFORE this meeting..

Some freak of nature pointed this out somtime in may - http://bolshevikreport.blogspot.com/ on a blog thats making fun of the majority report (apparnetly bolshevik means majority... youd think Id know that allready..)

His example is really BS - but the point remains - how many of us were debating within our own communities (right side of the street here) under the general assumption that we WERE going to invate Iraq just to get some problems out of the way? I guess the guys on the other side of the street assumed we were massing troops for months and moving our HQ out of the saudi hot zone because we were saber rattling?

I thought we didnt do that anymore?

I am with you on this one J... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

I am with you on this one Jay.

While it might be lots of fun for these to be true "fakes" I think they probably are representations of real memos.

I figure if somebody were going to reproduce fake memos, at the very least they wouldn't shoot some of their own arguments in the foot (ie from the memos it seems pretty clear that the US and Brits believed there were WMD's to some degree in Iraq, which pretty much kills the "Bush lied about WMD's meme).

I agree that as to any real prosecutorial value-they don't have any at this point, but I don't know that the content is anything new anyway-so even on the level of content they are't worth much.

These memos, if indeed they... (Below threshold)
phantom shouting:

These memos, if indeed they are accurate, indicate that George W. Bush and his administration lied to congress and the American people about their reasons for going to war in Iraq. It's that simple folks. I do agree that, legally, these memos are inadmissable in a court of law, but, unfortunately for Republican supporters, the British memorandums are a perfectly suitable excuse to launch a comprehensive investigation into the Bush administration's behavior during the lead-up to the war in Iraq. Get ready to endure some very uncomfortable revelations about our Commander-in-Chief. Great blog by the way!

Um, lied about what? The U... (Below threshold)

Um, lied about what? The US has been seeking regime change since 1998. Bush knew Saddam would never comply with the UN and the cease fire agreement and that was reported long before this memo was written. Even Bush's detractors admit EVERYONE believed Saddam had WMD's. So what did he lie about? I just don't understand you moonbats.

If you take the time to rea... (Below threshold)
phantom shouting:

If you take the time to read the memos and digest the information they contain, you will see that the British officials who wrote them were frantically attempting to arrive at some legal reason they could use to join the U.S. war on Iraq, for international law prohibits 'regime change' from being a valid reason for war. In addition, the memos clearly indicate that WMD was not a major problem for any of the powers involved.

Check out this direct quote from the Downing Street minutes:
"It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided. But the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran. We should work up a plan for an ultimatum to Saddam to allow back in the UN weapons inspectors. This would also help with the legal justification for the use of force. The Attorney-General said that the desire for regime change was not a legal base for military action."

Does that sound like anybody in the Bush administration was really all that worried about a "smoking gun in the form of a mushroom cloud"? No, of course not. They had agreed beforehand that Saddam was going to fall and they needed an excuse to take him out.

Get used to this story, because it is not going away any time soon, and many heads will be rolling as the facts continue to come out.

ya know, phantom, you yamme... (Below threshold)

ya know, phantom, you yammer on ad nauseum as if 9/11/01 never happened.

Just wtf do you think the situation in Iraq would be today with Saddam still in power - still bankrolling Arab-"Palestinian" terrorists blowing up Jewish kids, still filling his own mass graves, still providing training camps in Iraq for Islamist terrorists and still oiling the palms of numerous UN officials? Would Libya have come to the negotiating table? Would Syria have gotten out of Lebanon? Would Iraqi women have gone to the polls and proudly held up purple fingers?

Holy Mary MoG I am so on my last nerve with the quislings in our midst.

Phantom, one thing you said... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

Phantom, one thing you said intrigues me. You said that " international law prohibits 'regime change' from being a valid reason for war."

Would you please cite this "international law," along with citing exactly on what grounds it applies to the United States?

It's long been a contention that international law means whatever international lawyers want it to mean. There are conventions and treaties, but there is no "international law" per se.


Frankly speaking, between J... (Below threshold)

Frankly speaking, between Joe Wilson's memo, Dan Rather's memo, August 6 report/memo and I'm sure a memo or two I haven't thought of, I'm just all memo'ed out.

This isn't "going anywhere" in the press because there's no there there. They know this thing doesn't have legs. They know it's a wash. There's no impeachable offense here. This completely smacks of Dem Desperation.

Wasn't Clinton acting under... (Below threshold)

Wasn't Clinton acting under pressure from a group of concerned citizens, to whit, William Kristol, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz et al?

"(ie from the memos it seems pretty clear that the US and Brits believed there were WMD's to some degree in Iraq, which pretty much kills the "Bush lied about WMD's meme)."

Considered them a possibility, rather. Since we had no definite intelligence that they were not there, same as we had no definite intelligence that they were.

"still filling his own mass graves"

Like in 1988? We helped him cover that up. Blamed it on Iran. DIA report. Look it up.

"still providing training camps in Iraq for Islamist terrorists"

That wasn't Saddam. It did happen in Iraq, though. A bit.

"Even Bush's detractors admit EVERYONE believed Saddam had WMD's."

Not in 2003. I admit that I believe he had them before 1991, but do not and have never admitted to (since it would be a lie) believing that he had them when Bush said he had them. It's like you guys are holding two opposing ideas in your heads at once; "everyone was fooled, but the liberals were back there bitching and whining that there weren't any." That means the moonbats weren't fooled, guys.

" I don't believe they have a right to expose a scandal just to try to hurt our President."

...Ken fucking Starr? Oh, wait, that was just diddling an intern, and this is starting a war that's cost billions of dollars and tens of thousands of lives on a hunch the Secretary of Defense had in 1998. One has a BEARING on the presidency, and one doesn't. Wonder which! I guess impeachment trials depend on sex scandals, then? That's the moral kind. Because sex with someone who's not your wife is worse than mass murder.

"They are nobody's business except the people Bolton was digging for info on, certainly not the anti-American US Senate Democrats."

Anti-American senators? Gosh. Now I've heard everything; half the legislative branch of the American government is anti-American. How COULD those America-hating moonbats, who hate America, ever have voted them into office? They must hate America SO MUCH, they ...

Wait, I'm drawing a blank.

How do you guys do this all day? It's really mind-boggling. I mean, not to say that I don't harbor my fair share of ill feelings for the powers that be, but they're mostly very specific and based on personal principles. Like freedom-lovin', censorship-hatin' sorta principles. I don't hate all Republicans on principle like that. Although it's been hard to avoid the temptation the last five years, nothing but crowing over everything.

And myopia, if I hear another Republican talking about ten filibusters as though they're FOMG SO UNJUST I'm going to fucking scream. Remember the mid nineties, guys.

All:I was reading ... (Below threshold)


I was reading Wendigo's tirade (why so angry?), and I wanted to address to WMD issue. I forgot I had this link on my browser. This is a (if not the) CIA report on Iraq's WMD programs. My favorite sentence is this on:

"Successive Iraqi declarations on Baghdad's pre-Gulf war WMD programs gradually became more accurate between 1991 and 1998, but only because of sustained pressure from UN sanctions, Coalition military force, and vigorous and robust inspections facilitated by information from cooperative countries. Nevertheless, Iraq never has fully accounted for major gaps and inconsistencies in its declarations and has provided no credible proof that it has completely destroyed its weapons stockpiles and production infrastructure."

It's the "major gaps and inconsistencies" with the specific numbers of unaccounted for WMD. I've seen these numbers provided by the U.N. before and it's actual physical evidence that clearly refutes the "Bush lied about WMD" the Apoplectic Left keeps harping on.

Here's the link: http://www.cia.gov/cia/reports/iraq_wmd/Iraq_Oct_2002.htm

Happy reading. It's good stuff. I'm going to see if I can find those UN numbers.

Wendigo:Next time ... (Below threshold)


Next time you start on one of your rants, I suggest you ignore minnie. Responding to trolls or 'bots just makes you look foolish.

It's a damn shame they're t... (Below threshold)

It's a damn shame they're true, isn't it?

You just can't stand it.

What a seductive god of self-delusion you worship.

Wendigo, are you joking? E... (Below threshold)

Wendigo, are you joking? Even the Democrats have been quoted up to and during the war that Saddam had WMD's. Guess its short term memory loss.

"We are in possession of what I think to be compelling evidence that Saddam Hussein has, and has had for a number of years, a developing capacity for the production and storage of weapons of mass destruction. "[W]ithout question, we need to disarm Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal, murderous dictator, leading an oppressive regime ... He presents a particularly grievous threat because he is so consistently prone to miscalculation. And now he has continued deceit and his consistent grasp for weapons of mass destruction ... So the threat of Saddam Hussein with weapons of mass destruction is real ...

Sen. John F. Kerry (D, MA), Jan. 23. 2003.

"In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including al Qaeda members. It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons."

Sen. Hillary Clinton (D, NY), Oct 10, 2002

"I will be voting to give the President of the United States the authority to use force — if necessary — to disarm Saddam Hussein because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a real and grave threat to our security."

Sen. John F. Kerry (D, MA), Oct. 9, 2002.

Still not understanding you moonbats.

Lower-case f in fatman, min... (Below threshold)

Lower-case f in fatman, minnie.

Longtime Wizbang troll minn... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

Longtime Wizbang troll minnie, alias melior, ahole, and poopyhead, has finally pushed me over the boundaries of irritation into annoyance, and is now banned from posting.

Lord, I hate doing that sort of thing, but there's only so much of those faux "support" pieces anyone can be expected to stomach...


Jay Tea: UN Charte... (Below threshold)

Jay Tea:

UN Charter Article 2

#4 All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.

We are memebrs of the UN last time I checked and so obligated to abide by its charter. Of course I can see the counter argument coming a mile away but also, last time I checked the UN never authorized an invasion of Iraq. You will recall that Bush skipped that step before invading suggesting that the US already had all the reasons it needed. But the UNSC never defined what it meant by "severest consequences" in Resolution 1154, which legally only it could determine. Let's also recall that Resolution 1154 also contains this in its introduction:

"Reaffirming the commitment of all Member States to the sovereignty,territorial integrity and political independence of Iraq, Kuwait and the
neighbouring States,"

So based on the UN charter to which we are signatories our invasion of Iraq was, legally speaking,. about as legal as Iraq's invasion of Kuwait.

Jay, you really out to stop getting your information about international law and treaties from Tom Clancy novels.

One more thing: "I... (Below threshold)

One more thing:

"It's long been a contention that international law means whatever international lawyers want it to mean."

Isn't this not so much a contention of international lawyers, generally, but a stated stance of the Bush administration specifically? I'm thinking John Bolton here.

International law is not ne... (Below threshold)

International law is not nearly so keen anymore to protect the sovereignty of nations that widely abuse human rights. The Helsinki Accords of 1975 in particular began to eradicate this notion.

Personally, I think all non-democracies from Saudi Arabia to North Korea and Burma etc. are illegitimate states entitled to no sovereignty or recognition in international law whatsoever (who voted for Kim Jong-Il anyway?) but that is just me.

Hey Not a Pundit Yet, yes t... (Below threshold)

Hey Not a Pundit Yet, yes the Helsinki Accords address the responsibilities of all signatories to support human rights but it also states that:

II. Refraining from the threat or use of force

The participating States will refrain in their mutual relations, as well as in their international relations in general, from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State, or in any other manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations and with the present Declaration. No consideration may be invoked to serve to warrant resort to the threat or use of force in contravention of this principle.

Or is there some other bit that contradicts this bit that says it's okay to invoke considerations of human rights violations with in a state as a reason for preemptive invasion? I don't think there is. So it sounds to me like theres at least two international agreements we violated when we invaded Iraq. Want to go for three?

My profuse apologies that I... (Below threshold)

My profuse apologies that I haven't diligently followed the Wizbang coterie, but I began reading on a dare. It's not really my intention to become a fixture, so I'm only as familiar with the landscape as I feel I need to be. Though the "moonbats" stick out like a sore thumb.

"Why so angry?" Being a moonbat does that. And for people who sling derisive little epithets like that about on a regular basis, you guys are certainly quick to call "ranting." There's barely a comment posted here I don't class as ranting, for all the original thought evidenced. "Hyuk, those librul moonbats sure are deep in the shit this time!" Watch 'em sometime; that's nigh invariably the first reply.

I'm not getting into the nitty-gritty with the CIA's webpage. The CIA is fully capable of publishing disinformation on its webpage, and it's among the government agencies I wouldn't trust not to.

However, Hillary and Kerry speak for all Democrats in Congress, and the country? News to me. Guess us moonbats forget about the hive mind we're plugged into every now and then.

Guess that'd be a good thing, it'd give us something in common with the Freepers. Hate to think we're all just totally alien.

frameone: To quote a great ... (Below threshold)

frameone: To quote a great philosopher of the ages, the female cat in the Pepe le Pew cartoons, "Le sigh."

Ignoring the rampant hippyism flowing through the United Nations Charter (no wonder it has failed on every level, they state right up front that violating what they say will result in no consequences) let's really look at what it says.

What about when the UN violates its own international 'laws'? I am pretty sure sitting back and doing nothing as human rights violations are committed in members' states is against their laws. Oh, wait, I forgot, they always get on the United States' case about 'human rights violations' because we do not provide a glass of milk as part of our prisoners well balanced breakfast. I guess that makes up for ignoring UN employees raping women in places like the Congo, as well as genocide in Darfur committed by member state Sudan.

"Article 6
A Member of the United Nations which has persistently violated the Principles contained in the present Charter may be expelled from the Organization by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council."

To be fair, what are these principles? Let's look and see:

"Article 4
1. Membership in the United Nations is open to all other peace-loving states which accept the obligations contained in the present Charter and, in the judgment of the Organization, are able and willing to carry out these obligations.
2. The admission of any such state to membership in the United Nations will be effected by a decision of the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council."

Peace loving states, interesting. What is a peace loving state? The USSR under Stalin? Was that peace loving? How about Sadaam's Iraq, the one that invaded Kuwait, killed thousands upon thousands of his own people, was that peaceful? China and Taiwan? I know, take your pick from one of the lovely African countries, the ones with all the ethnic cleansing, truly they are the absolute epitomy of peace.

Not only are nations who have shown absolutely no inclination to be peace loving in the UN, they are not even slapped on the wrist when they willfully violate the principles. There was not even a call, a suggestion, that maybe these states that commit genocide, and truly violate human rights should, perhaps, just maybe, not be part of the UN anymore.

Article 1
The Purposes of the United Nations are:

1. To maintain international peace and security, and to that end: to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace, and to bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace;

2. To develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace;

3. To achieve international co-operation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character, and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion; and

4. To be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations in the attainment of these common ends."

Congratulations, you (and the United Nations) are saying we should be the ONLY nation on this great green earth to actually, you know, follow the UN standards that EVERY other nation has failed to adhere (including our own, granted, but ours were not catastrophic failures). (the word failed is really too kind, as it suggests that not adhering was involuntary instead of a conscientious choice)

As we all know, the middle east is a bastion of equal rights, just like China and North Korea. I am sure taking kickbacks to ignore gross violations of UN resolutions is a perfectly fine example of peaceful means too, so Germany, France, and Russia are a lock for upstanding UN model of the century.

In essence that is the same as saying we should 1.) blindfold ourselves, 2.) tie our hands behind our backs, 3.) give every one of our opponents/enemies a cannon to use against whomever they please. That is some great international policy. So, while our enemy calmly prepares himself to murder others we can sit there and calmly ask them not to do it, or, at the very least we can make a show of force which is provided for under Article 42 of the UN Charter; there might be wiggle room, as "and other operations" might be the only reference to non-pacifist means.

Go ahead and claim the US is the only bad guy because we finally got sick and tired of the hypocrisy and did the right thing by ignoring a powerless and corrupt institution, you know you want to.

Wait, no, saying the UN is powerless was wrong of me. The UN has a lot of power, unfortunately all that power is granted to it by the United States to be used against the United States. The United States was not the first to ‘violate’ UN ‘law’ and sure won’t be the last, but it will be the only one that actually gets reprimanded for it.

One final note, please, decide which international law you want to back. Do you wish to back the Geneva Convention, which allows for war, the use of force? Or do you wish to back the United Nations, and other laws, which allow for no use of force? You cannot support both. Choose a side and argue from it, do not try to argue both just so you can eventually 'win'.

Whether the memos are admis... (Below threshold)

Whether the memos are admissible in a court of law is irrelevant. As Henry Hyde pointed out, an impeachable offense is whatever the House of Representatives decides is one.

Did I claim that the Helsin... (Below threshold)

Did I claim that the Helsinki Accords does away with state sovereignty over issues of human rights?

No, I made no such claim - I was merely pointing out that sovereignty is not the sacrosanct principle in international law that it once was, and that Helsinki has chipped away at that.

But, the language is right there, actually. The language you quoted - that force or threats are illegal if they are 'inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations and with the present Declaration.'

Clearly, this implies that there is a type of force or threat that could be consistent with the UN charter and the Declaration.

Well in any event, you might lose sleep over the supposedly 'illegal' actions of the Bush administration, but I'm not.

If international law is being used as a shield for tyrants, to hell with it, it is nothing but a printed piece of paper to me.

How odd too, that liberals ... (Below threshold)

How odd too, that liberals are now championing the concept of sovereignty for tyrants over that of human rights.

Convenient, methinks.

Jimmy Carter would be rolling over in his grave, if he weren't still alive.

Wendigo: "The CIA is ful... (Below threshold)

Wendigo: "The CIA is fully capable of publishing disinformation on its webpage, and it's among the government agencies I wouldn't trust not to."

You give the CIA too much credit methinks. Nowadays the CIA cannot even set up a transfer system for officials and captured terrorists without it being exposed by the media. If they were to put up disinformation it would quickly be exposed as such, because, well, everyone wants to give the big bad CIA a black eye.

You can trust them because if they are lying you will hear it.

"However, Hillary and Kerry speak for all Democrats in Congress, and the country? News to me. Guess us moonbats forget about the hive mind we're plugged into every now and then."

I'm sorry, but it sounds like you really do not understand when people say that Hillary and Kerry speak for Democrats. It is also said of Howard Dean, and other prominent politicians. The reason it is said is because it is true.

Now, now, before you get upset I will explain. They are (arguably the most) prominent politicians of the Democratic Party and provide the voice of the party to the masses. When they say something and there is no one stepping up to the plate to say "hold on a minute, they may think that but we do not," it becomes a de facto stance of the party. This is how they speak for the Democratic Party and all its members, because the leadership leads and everyone else follows the path they lay.

""Why so angry?" Being a moonbat does that. And for people who sling derisive little epithets like that about on a regular basis, you guys are certainly quick to call "ranting." There's barely a comment posted here I don't class as ranting, for all the original thought evidenced. "Hyuk, those librul moonbats sure are deep in the shit this time!" Watch 'em sometime; that's nigh invariably the first reply.

Congratulations, you now know what it feels like to be a Republican, well, almost. When the media starts largely saying the same thing, when Hollywood lauds propagandist 'documentary' makers talking about 'moonbat' conspiracies you will truly know.

Oh, and while you were trying for some satirical wit (at least I hope you were trying that) with "Hyuk, those librul moonbats sure are deep in the shit this time!" but all it does is make you sound just like what you are speaking out against.

One last thing, nice job slipping "nigh” into your comment, it is not oft used.

Not yet a Pundit:H... (Below threshold)

Not yet a Pundit:

Here's what you wrote:
"International law is not nearly so keen anymore to protect the sovereignty of nations that widely abuse human rights."

Neither the Helsinki Accords nor the United Nations Charter suggest or imply any such thing. The idea that our invasion of Iraq was consistent with the principles underlying UN does not mean that the UNSC does not have to authorize the use of force for UN members. Indeed, the only way any use of force for any reason could be consistent with the UN charter is if the UNSC approves the action. The UNSC did not authorize our invasion of Iraq. Now you can turn around say so the fuck what but how does throwing the UN Charter and the principles behind it on the ashheap of history make us any safer?

What connects my position on the invasion of Iraq with my support of human rights is the rule of law. There is no inconsistency between oppossing Hussein's regime while expecting the President of the United States to act in accordance with the rule of law in going to war. Violating the human rights of ones citizens and waging illegal war -- even to liberate those citizens -- are part and parcel of the same belief that some governments and leaders are beyond the rule of law. It is morally inconsistent to wage an illegal war to protect the human rights of the civilians you are waging war on. Don't forget that one of the raionales for invading Iraq was to take the fight to the terrorists. Does that not show a horrible disregard for the Iraq civilians we are trying to liberate? We protect ourselves by turning their country into a war zone. Sound like a morally consistent policy to me.

Much of Inquiring's post wallows in the same kind of moral relativism, essentially suggesting that because other countries violate the UN charter, we can too.

As to his specific beleif that Article 42 only allows for the "show" of force, I'm not sure where he gets that from. Here's the article:

Article 42
Should the Security Council consider that measures provided for in Article 41 would be inadequate or have proved to be inadequate, it may take such action by air, sea, or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security. Such action may include demonstrations, blockade, and other operations by air, sea, or land forces of Members of the United Nations.

Where does that limit such operations to a mere "show" of force? Have you forgotten that the UN authorized the Gulf War?

You are aware that 'illegal... (Below threshold)

You are aware that 'illegal' and 'immoral' are not the same thing, I hope.

This is precisely the point I am making - I am not willing to let legalities trump immorality when it comes to atrocities.

Come on, would you have opposed a war in Rwanda to prevent genocide there, on the grounds that it violated the sovereignty of that nation?

Did you oppose the bombing of Serbia on the same grounds?

This is all moot anyway, the Iraq war was nothing but a continuation of the Gulf War, since Saddam refused to abide by its accords.

I appreciate your willingness to at least make the legal arguments in a substantive way - but in the end I accuse you of bad faith.

You only want to use international law as a club over George Bush's head, your obeisance to the rule of law notwithstanding.

frameone:You just ... (Below threshold)


You just failed Philosophy 101. I did not make a moral relativist argument. At no point did I say that because Country X violated the charter it means the United States can/should. (By the way, that is the fallacy of common practice)

In fact, in case you did not notice, I was actually challenging a moral relativist stance.

See, let's break it down. All these other countries do these absolutely horrible things, then say the US is just as bad because we break a lesser provision. That is moral relativism/equivalence, all things equivalent because one man's trash is another's treasure. Dictators decide us not having Universal Healthcare is worse than their ethnic cleansing, so they can look down on us.

Thanks again for putting words in my mouth though, I appreciate it.

Moral relativists have absolutely no choice in this world but to make all actions equally reprehensible to justify their positions, this leads to Moral Equivalence. This is because it is easier to lower good actions than to raise up bad ones.

Example of Moral Equivalence: Claiming Gitmo is as bad, or equivalent to Auschwitz. There is no comparison. They are on totally different ethical/moral levels.
End Tangent.

"As to his specific beleif that Article 42 only allows for the "show" of force, I'm not sure where he gets that from.

In case you did not notice, --given the preceding blindfolded, tied up, enemy armed with a cannon-- that was a bit of sarcastic hyperbole, as only having to show force is what the United Nations encourages.

Notice how, at no time, do they specifically ever state that any use of actual force is acceptable. In fact the entire charter goes out of its way to point out how violence, and the threat of such, should never be used. It is only in Article 42 that there is a concession that it might not always be possible for diplomacy and sanctions to work. At this point the only specific examples they have are show of force and blockade, then there is a vague "and other operations." These other operations can be taken to be anything from full on war to firing a couple retaliatory missiles.

The very problem is that given all the stress placed upon pacifism it becomes very hard to assume that use of force is in the spirit of the Charter, and acceptable under the Charter, practical or not.

"Have you forgotten that the UN authorized the Gulf War?"

No, I have not forgotten the United Nations authorized the Gulf War. I also believe they violated their own principles to do it.

Now, let's quote:
"Article 2
3. All Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered.

4. All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations."

Now, I concede there is wiggle room, but only because the UN Charter is woefully amateurish in its definition of who actually has to follow what. Apparently the UN, while it holds these principles only expects its members to follow them. The problem is, the United Nations is very much its members, and its members are in all cases prohibited. Technically even the show of force allowed for in Article 42 violates Article 2. Concession: Article 2 is only about principles, not practices.

To cut away all the babble and get to the thrust of my point:

The United States had a choice between being shackled by corrupt, and in some cases murdering, nations, or to follow its principles and defend its interests. The US chose the latter. (Again, this is not a moral relativist stance)

Do the corrupt within the UN have the right to judge the US harshly while not being judged for their violations? No. This is not a moral relativist argument.

Can the United States trust the enforcement of laws to an institution that has corrupt members serving to write, enact, or judge those laws? No. This is not moral relativism.

Does the United States have an obligation to follow the United Nations, which has corrupt, and worse, members? No. Again, this is not moral relativism. I feel this needs to be stressed, because you have not shown you know what moral relativism is.

Deciding to not be judged as being worse than murdering thugs by murdering thugs because you once did not pay your taxes is not in any way moral relativism. In this case the murdering thugs are (extreme) relativists, because they are making the crimes equivalent.

"This is all moot anyway, t... (Below threshold)

"This is all moot anyway, the Iraq war was nothing but a continuation of the Gulf War, since Saddam refused to abide by its accords."

In the final analysis this is an absolutley false statement. Hussein allowed inspectors back in to Iraq and was allowing them to do their job. Go back and look at the run up to the war. Inspectors were in the country destroying what conventional weapons they found and reporting that they had found no WMDs. It is the Bush administration who decided war was the better and only option and forced to inspectors back out by declaring war in the face of what they said they wanted: inspectors in the country doing their job.

as to Inquiring:

"Example of Moral Equivalence: Claiming Gitmo is as bad, or equivalent to Auschwitz. There is no comparison. They are on totally different ethical/moral levels."

I'm not saying that what's happening in GITMO is as bad as Nazi death camps. But you are saying that because it is not as bad, it's okay. Rather than argue that all torutre is wrong (a moral absolute) you're saying that some torture is worse than others and so a little torture is okay because we torture peoeple for the right reasons and on a lesser scale (a moral relativist position). You're using Nazi death camps as the measure of what's immoral which allows you to condone a little torture here, a little torture there because, of course, we are the good guys. That's moral relativism of the worst sort. The measure of moral behavior should not be counted in numbers or whether or not we think we're right in doing what's wrong. It's not okay to chain millions of people up and let them shit on themselves because they are Jews and it is equally not okay to chain up one person and let them shit on themselves because they are our enemy. You see, chaining people up so they shit on themselves is just wrong period.

After painfully tortuous semantics games over Article 42 -- well it's kind of sort of not really arguing for use of force even though it says it allows it -- you go on to say this:

"The United States had a choice between being shackled by corrupt, and in some cases murdering, nations, or to follow its principles and defend its interests. The US chose the latter. (Again, this is not a moral relativist stance)"

This is not the choice the US faced. The US faced the choice of waging an illegal war or not waging an illegal war. The only thing "shackling" us was our principles. We were not following our principle in invading Iraq. We were following our fear. Bush, of course, threw off the oppressive chains of our highest ideals and took us down the path of fear. In my view he is a moral coward.

You're whole argument is that the UN is corrupt so can do what we want. But the principles of the UN Charter to which we are signatories are still the same: Preemptive war is wrong and illegal. Add the facts that I begin this post with and you've got a serious problem.

Fantastic posts, everyone. ... (Below threshold)
phantom shouting:

Fantastic posts, everyone. I have learned a lot from reading the discussion here. And, please, let it be known that I am not a democrat, and as a matter of fact, truly abhor the spineless mess of useless bodies that that party has become. In addition, as I'm sure a few of you have noticed, I am not a republican. I do, however, have a lot of respect for the republican party, and the notions of individual responsibility and freedom that they represent. My father was a republican and, I believe, a very good man, so I grew up understanding quite a bit about the principles and goals that the republican party has traditionally attempted to bring to the table in U.S. government.

For this reason, I am saddened and ashamed at what the Bush crew has done to the image of the republican party. They have perverted the core beliefs that the republicans have always stood for. Any one of you who defend these jokers and still call yourselves proud republicans are misguided at best and truly evil at worst. Pre-emptive strikes against non-threatening nations, legalized torture, detention without representation, the largest deficit in U.S. history (still growing every day), a government with the power to get it's grubby fingers into your business whenever it deems such an action necessary via the 'Patriot Act', and a president who raves about his love of Christ while supporting the death penalty and bombing the hell out of 100,000 innocent Iraqis.

Let's be clear here. There’s no question Saddam was a nasty guy, but at the time he was attacked, he was allowing the U.N. inspectors to do their jobs. He was permitting extremely intrusive inspections without complaint and, we now know, he was not lying when he said his weapons had been destroyed. In short, he complied with the U.N. resolutions and ended up getting pulverized anyway.

This is wrong friends. Not a good way to spread democracy. The same way that the Guantanamo facility is not the best image of freedom and liberty.

Truly, I weep for this nation if the Bush crew is allowed to continue down the path they're taking. But I trust that, via the Downing Street memo and others like it, the people of this great nation will wake up and take action. One can dream anyway.

Please read the list of republican party principles below and marvel at how few of them apply to the current administration:

I am a Republican because:

I believe the strength of our nation lies with the individual and that each person's dignity, freedom, ability and responsibility must be honored.

I believe in equal rights, equal justice and equal opportunity for all, regardless of race, creed, sex, age or disability.

I believe that free enterprise and the encouragement of individual initiative have brought this nation opportunity, economic growth and prosperity.

I believe government must practice fiscal responsibility and allow individuals to keep more of the money they earn.

I believe the proper role of government is to provide for the people only those critical functions that cannot be performed by individuals or private organizations and that the best government is that which governs least.

I believe the most effective, responsible and responsive government is government closest to the people.

I believe Americans must retain the principles that have made us strong while developing new and innovative ideas to meet the challenges of changing times.

I believe Americans value and should preserve our national strength and pride while working to extend peace, freedom and human rights throughout the world.

Finally, I believe the Republican Party is the best vehicle for translating these ideals into positive and successful principles of government.

Depressing, no? Once again, this is an excellent blog. Keep up the great work!

Come on you know the inspec... (Below threshold)

Come on you know the inspections were not the only part of the deal that Saddam broken after the first Gulf War. He agreed to overflights but kept shooting at our planes for years, he cheated on sanctions (this was well-known long before the Oil For Food scandal), he kept intimidating his neighbors, including an assassination attempt in Kuwait on a former President, among other things.

And how bad do you think my memory really is? Far from being fully cooperative with the inspectors, Saddam appointed minders for the inspectors, chased them around Iraq in vans and frustrated their attempts to gain access to facilities, and did not allow inspections at his Presidential palaces.

So yeah, the Iraq war was legally a continuation of the Gulf War.

Guess the whole thing was legal after all, so let's try something else to crucify Bush shall we?

phantom:"Pre-emptive... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

"Pre-emptive strikes against non-threatening nations, legalized torture, detention without representation,.."

Everything you listed above is not true.

Hopefully you'll be educated to the truth, but somehow I think you know it already and are just being partisan.

I think it's been pretty re... (Below threshold)

I think it's been pretty reliably proven since we invaded that Saddam did not, in fact, present a threat to us or anybody else outside his own country. Which is what one might assume phantom was saying.

Unless we're talking about him modifying those missiles (the ones we found that could be so modified) to fly a longer distance, and launching them at Israel with a couple warheads of long-inert mustard gas aboard in a futile attempt to be taken seriously.

But that would just be silly.






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