Saturday, March 08, 2003
# Posted 8:55 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
graduate students went on strike. I did, too — reluctantly. But on the picket line, something happened to me. As we marched around the freshman quad, an undergraduate yelled out his dorm window, "Get back to work." For the first time in my life, I felt like a maid. And suddenly I realized that this was how other workers at Yale — in the dining halls, the labs, the offices — routinely felt. I kept marching, determined never to forget what it's like to work at a place like Yale.Typical. For whatever reason, pro-union grad students at Yale delude themselves into believing that Yale's undergraduates are the heartless scions of an American plutocracy, rather than the middle-of-the-road middle-class liberals that they actually are. (FYI Nader came within 20 or so votes of beating Dole at the Yale polling station when I was a sophomore in 1996. Clinton was far ahead of both of them.)
But I won't say any more, since a letter to the Times has said it best:
Mr. Robin does Yale students a disservice when he transplants the opinion of one conservative columnist onto the entire student body. As a Yale sophomore, I have noticed an attitude on campus that is quite distant from the "imperial disregard" of which he accuses undergraduates.While I wouldn't say that students supported the strikers demands' all that strongly when I was there, respect for the members of Locals 34 and 35 and the tremendous amount they did for us was semething almost everyone could agree on. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 7:31 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
If not for Al Jazeera, Brokaw says, the state-run Arab media might have been able to persuade the Arab street that US policy isn't so bad after all. I'm not so sure. Considering that the Arab media have long been filled with hateful anti-American, anti-Israeli and anti-Western diatribes, I have a hard time believing that Al Jazeera made any sort of difference.
That point aside, it is important to recognize Brokaw's argument as the current version of the liberal cliche that if the US was just better at explaining it policies, people wouldn't resent it so much. In his column, Brokaw sympathetically quotes a Pentagon planner who says that "We've done a terrible job out here explaining why we're going after Saddam Hussein." (For a similar view, visit Bloggy Fottom.)
But the real problems are the policies themselves. A unilateral invasion of Iraq is simply unacceptable in Europe. No amount of spin can change that. What the US has to decide is whether invading Iraq is important enough to disregard criticism of it. I, for one, say yes.
And I suspect that there will be much less criticism once we find Saddam's chemical weapons stockpile and show the French and Germans what they are pretending doesn't exist. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 7:14 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 7:04 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 6:50 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
The one point I'm going to take issue with is Sean-Paul's description of these efforts as "appeasement" and "Clintonian". What they may indicate is that the US has recognized the futility of stopping North Korea from going nuclear. If that's the case, Clintonian appeasement may have been preferable.
(I can't believe I just said that! Then again, even Charlie K. thinks that "the time for appeasement may indeed have arrived.") (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 6:25 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Kaplan's criticisms stung enough for CASI, the NGO which published the UN estimate, to post a response on its website.
I didn't find the response all that convincing, since its essential premise is that the US will completely disregard the effects of its warfighting strategies on Iraqi civilians. While there is no question that the Pentagon is less than honest about such issues, it's record in Afghanistan and Kosovo shows that it takes them quite seriously.
Last but not least, make sure to take a look at Brookings scholar Michael O'Hanlon's article on US and Iraqi military casualties in a second Gulf war. In urban fighting, the US may have to accept thousands of casualties. That is a very sobering thought.
(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 5:51 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Ben is a liberal hawk who has lots of very sensible things to say about foreign policy. Especially interesting is his Call to Unite in Disarming Iraq.
Read it and you'll see that Ben is much closer to the Kevin Drum model of liberal hawkishness than to my own. In other words, Ben's domestic politics are as aggressively liberal as his stance on foreign policy.
In contrast, I am a liberal hawk by virtue of my belief that America must promote liberalism -- in the form of democracy and human rights -- across the globe. We must do so because the liberal principles on which American was founded are universal.
However, I do not believe that these liberal values are identical to those that animate the Democratic agenda on social policy. Rather, both parties promote agendas that represent different variants of the same liberal values on which America was founded. As I see it, the choice between them is more often one of pragmatism than of principle.
So Ben, welcome to the blogosphere! (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 3:05 PM by Daniel
In his column today, Bill Keller quotes a Republican strategist who says: "If the policy (the Iraq war) succeeds in the war and the peace....you'll see a further tectonic shift of Jewish political support, both in terms of money and votes, toward Bush. That's not why it's being done, but it will be a consequence if they're successful." I agree that Jewish money will flow toward Bush--Jews who are interested in foreign policy tend to be more hawkish and active politically. But I disagree with the contention that Jews will vote in significantly higher numbers for Bush.
Broadly speaking, Israel is not the top issue on which American Jews vote. Like other Americans, Jews are deeply concerned with domestic issues like the economy, choice, education, the separation of church and state, health care, social security, and the environment. In polling from the 1990s, Israel did not make the top 10 of issues. With the second intifada and 9/11, one could argue that Israel and foreign policy in general has become a greater concern for American Jews. Still, I don't think matters pertaining to Israel will be the decisive factor for Jewish voters in 2004.
(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 11:13 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
Now I do, thanks to the Angry Cyclist. Tech Central Station also has a column on Herold's absurd methodology. And the Weekly Standard points out that Europe's great newspapers have all taken Herold at his word, in addition to providing further evidence that Herold is charlatan.
For some extra amusement, check out the e-mails that went back and forth between Herold and the Angry Cyclist. Many thanks to Prof. Herold for reminding me why, exactly, I intend to leave the academy as soon as I get my doctorate. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 10:43 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
Friday, March 07, 2003
# Posted 11:55 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
"there is a chance - 10 percent or less - that the war will take a significant turn for the worse. Damage to oil fields, high casualties, or effective use of WMD would send the price of oil surging to $80 per barrel, according to CSIS economists."In contrast, Nordhaus never estimates the chance that the war will result in extensive damage to oil production facilities. While he acknowledges that things might turn out well, he describes such optimism as naive.
Reading his paper, you get the sense that the chances of a $500 billion spike in the price of oil are better than even. But he never says so explicitly. In short, I think Nordhaus is protecting himself. He wants to scare people about the cost of the war, but isn't confident enough in his own work to take a clear stand on the issue.
Also: after surfing the web for a while, it seems that no one has really tackled the issue of indirect costs other than Cordesman and the CSIS staff. But the CSIS folks have done a lot. The reports on their Iraq website are very in-depth. I won't say more than that until I get some sleep.
If you happen to know of any other experts who have responded to Nordhaus or come up with independent projections of the war's impact on global markets send an e-mail my way. Until then, g'night. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 10:53 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
If one ignores, for the moment, indirect costs such as the impact of war on global markets, it is clear that the actual cost of fighting Saddam, including a military occupation, will come in at under $200 billion. That number reflects indepedent estimates made by the Congressional Budget Office, the Democratic staff on the House Budget Committee and the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a non-partisan think tank.
$200 billion ain't peanuts, but if the President thinks we can afford a $670 billion tax cut, $200 billion for national security doesn't seem like such a bad idea. But what about Nordhaus? He thinks the CBO, Budget Committee and CSBA estimates are optimistic, but doesn't suggest that fighting Saddam would cost all that much more than they say.
When it comes to occupation, Nordhaus says it could cost anywhere from $75 to $500 billion. The low end figure is the cost of keeping 75,000 troops in Iraq for five years. The high end figure is for 200,000 troops over 10 years. (See page 21 of Nordhaus' report.) Considering that Nordhaus is an alarmist, those figures don't strike me as all that alarming.
Nordhaus' estimate of the war's impact on oil markets assumes the "destruction of most of Iraq?s oil-production capacity along with one-quarter of the productive capacity of other Gulf states," pushing oil prices up to $75 per barrel or $3 per gallon of gas. If that happens, it would cost the US up to $500 billion. (P.29)
Another potential cost of war is a recession similar to that of 1991, which Nordhaus estimates at a cost of $200 to $500 billion. (P.35) If all of these things go wrong at once, the total cost to the US would be about $1.6 trillion. If things go as planned, the total cost will be only $120 billion. (P.39)
Frankly, Nordhaus' numbers don't seem all that realistic. But I'm not an economist. So I'll report back when I've found someone who knows more than I do. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 10:38 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
“The delivery of unprecedented amounts of wheat to Afghanistan over the past month has averted a major famine this winter, international and American relief officials said last week.Not exactly a suprise. Unless, of course, you believed the NGO prophets of doom who declared that millions would die of famine because of the war. In case you don't believe that anyone would have predicted that sort of disaster, I thought I'd provide some sample quotes. Here's a Guardianr eport from 22 Sept 2001:
“Fourteen British charities, including Oxfam, wrote an open letter to Tony Blair yesterday warning that up to 5m people face starvation.”Next, check out India's Hindu from 14 Oct 2001:
“…the United Nations Human Rights Commissioner (UNHCR), Ms. Mary Robinson warned of a looming humanitarian crisis if the aid effort was not stepped up. "There is a desperate situation for hundreds of thousands - perhaps up to two million - of the Afghan civilian population who desperately need food," she said.”Back on the homefront, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that
“The Senate passed Wellstone's amendment [calling] for the United States to put as much effort into providing humanitarian aid as it is on the military front in its dealings with Afghanistan. Without more U.S. aid, Wellstone said, 100,000 Afghan children could die this winter from hunger and disease.”On 5 Nov 2001, U-Wire reported that
“Sarah Zaidi, a director of the Center for Economic and Social Rights, said last Monday that "millions -- literally millions -- of Afghan civilians will starve to death this winter unless the U.S. military suspends its attacks and allows the U.N. to re-establish effective food distribution."Fortunately for the people of Afghanistan, the US ignored this sort of absurd advice. The American victory in November 2001 brought with it the food that Afghanistan had been so desperate for. But consider this fact, from the 6 0ct 2001 issue of Britain's New Scientist:
“Afghanistan has suffered a three-year drought that has been largely ignored by the Western media. Many thousands died of hunger in the mountains last winter, despite a UN programme of food aid. This year's harvest was again half that of a normal year, and much less in areas such as Badakhshan in the rebel-held north-east. The UN warned of an impending "famine without precedent" just a week before the events of 11 September.”In other words, if not for the war, there would have been a "famine without precedent". Believe it or not, the war saved countless Afghan lives. Yes, one thousand innocent civlians lost their lives to American bombs. But even the most jaded anti-war activits would have to admit that those thousand died to save tens of thousands of their countrymen.
(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 12:41 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
“Explosions of landmines and left-over ammunition caused on average about 88 casualties a month in Afghanistan in 2000, and that was a sharp decline from the 1999 level.Perhaps this isn't surprising considering that even Bill Arkin from Human Rights Watch reports that
“…what I've observed on the ground is that there was a battle against al-Qaeda that is actually more impressive than I thought. Here in Kandahar is an example. It's amazing how you can see one house that has bombed specifically because there were in Arabs in the house and yet the next door houses have not even been damaged at all. And all over the city, where there's very few civilian casualties in fact, it's amazing how you can pick out specific al-Qaeda houses that were bombed. And the neighborhood all knows that Arabs were there.” (CNBC -- Hardball, 22 Mar 2002)Even the United States' notorious cluster bombs seem not to have caused much collateral damage. According to the Boston Globe (22 Feb 2002):
“The Pentagon, severely criticized for its widespread use of cluster bombs in Iraq during the Gulf War, has dropped far fewer of the munitions in Afghanistan and has largely avoided civilian areas, focusing instead on enemy troops, tanks, and airfields, according to initial investigations by the United Nations.When comes to putting facts like this in context, I think Peter Beinart got it right in TNR (19 Nov 2001). Beinart starts with the assumption that Afghan civilian casualties may have reached the 500 mark in mid-November.
Then consider the events of August 8, 1998. On that day, the Taliban took Mazar-e-Sharif from the Northern Alliance. They entered a multi-ethnic city with a substantial population of Hazaras, a Persian-speaking, Shia minority clustered near the Iranian border. The Taliban despised the Hazaras --first, because the Hazaras had fiercely opposed their rule, and second, because the Sunni Taliban considered the Shia Hazaras to be infidels.While the US may have invaded Afghanistanin order to stop Al Qaeda, its war of self-defense also became a war for freedom and human rights. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Thursday, March 06, 2003
# Posted 10:19 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
With yesterday's barely veiled French and Russian threat to veto a war resolution, the United Nations Security Council appears to be rapidly approaching a crippling deadlock over Iraq. That would be the worst of all possible outcomes. It would lift the diplomatic pressure on Iraq to disarm and sever the few remaining restraints that have kept the Bush administration from going to war with its motley ad hoc coalition of allies."Motley" and "ad hoc"? That makes it sound like our allies are Tanzania and Vanuatu, not Britain, Spain, Italy and sixteen other countries in Europe (counting Poland). In fact, the sudden emergence of this coalition might have something to with the fact that almost all of its members belong to a relatively well-established alliance that goes by the name of 'NATO'.
As for "Ad hoc", that's a better description of the anti-war coalition, comprising the quixotic French, a German chancellor mired in an economic crisis and assorted African dictators along for the ride.
The rupture in the Security Council is not just another bump in the road in the showdown with Iraq. It could lead to a serious, possibly fatal, breakdown in the system of collective security that was fashioned in the waning days of World War II, a system that finally seemed to be reaching its potential in the years since the end of the cold war. Whatever comes of the conflict with Iraq, the world will have lost before any fighting begins if the Security Council is ruined as a mechanism for unified international action.First of all, I'd like to inject a dose or reality into conservative dreams and liberal nightmares about an unauthorized war with Iraq crippling of the United Nations. The past six months have made clear just how much the UN matters to Europe. 1441 played a critical role in persuading almost all of Europe's governments to support the United States.
If the US goes to war over a French and/or Russian veto, that will show that the French and Russian vetos are worthless, not that the UN is irrelevant.
As for "the system of collective security" that the NYT is so fond of, might I ask to whom it has provided security? I believe that the UN plays a critical role in international politics, but providing security is not something that it has ever been able to do. Ask the Bosnians. Ask the Kosovars. Ask the Rwandans. What the UN does do is help rebuild nations after dictators have wrecked them and/or the United States has overthrown those dictators with force.
The first casualty is likely to be the effort to use coercive diplomacy to disarm Iraq. The unity of the Security Council last November in backing Resolution 1441 without a dissenting vote, combined with the movement of American forces to the Persian Gulf region, changed the equation with Iraq. Though Saddam Hussein is far from full disarmament, he has given ground in recent months by permitting the return of arms inspectors after a four-year absence and, more recently, by beginning to destroy illegal missiles. With more time and an escalation of pressure, Mr. Hussein might yet buckle.The Times has it exactly right: Saddam won't disarm unless someone steps up the pressure. The French and Russians clearly don't understand that. They insist on taking at face value Saddam's charade of complaince.
Thus, it seems there are two ways to go from here -- but both begin with the President declaring that he will go to war with or without the United Nations. If the President's declaration produces a compromise with the French and Russians, that might step up the pressure on Saddam. If it doesn't produce a compromise, Saddam will face a very clear choice of disarming or having it done for him in much less pleasant way.
...the French and the Russians are not the only ones who brought us to this point. Mr. Bush and his team laid the groundwork for this mess with their arrogant handling of other nations and dismissive attitude toward international accords. Though they mended their ways to some extent after Sept. 11, and initially tried to work through the Security Council on Iraq, the White House's obvious intention to go to war undermined that effort.Ah, now I see. If the US had just signed on the dotted line at Kyoto, then the French and Germans would get behind the war effort. You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours.
As for the "arrogant handling of other nations", why have only the French and Germans taken such great offense while the rest of Europe supports the United States? Could it be that Gerhard Schroeder had an election to win? Or that Jacques Chirac dreams of multipolarity?
Finally, we come to "the White House's obvious intention to go to war". Perhaps the French and Germans would've been more cooperative if the US wasn't serious about disarming Iraq by any means necessary? Didn't the NYT admit just a few sentences ago that 1441 "combined with the movement of American forces to the Persian Gulf region" forced Iraq to make concessions?
There may be a few days more for diplomacy to play out on Iraq, but it is already clear that the great powers on the Security Council, particularly the United States and France, have brought the United Nations to the brink of just the kind of paralysis and powerlessness that they warned would be so damaging to the world.Hold on. Is it the paralysis or Saddam Hussein we're worried about here?
(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 7:24 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
"The rest of the world sees us as a big bully," said Lucas Gallegos, 80, a retired pastry chef who travels frequently to Europe to teach his craft. "But if we can come out of this and show the world that we didn't go in there to conquer and take the spoils, but to bring about peace, then we will show that it was a just war."So much for the average American being ignorant. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 7:07 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Marshall adds that the administration has no policy whatsoever on how to deal with North Korea because the State Department doves are deadlocked with the Pentagon/Cheney hawks. Sounds plausible. If the NYT and WaPo showed more of an interest, we might know if that were really the case. But I'm going to withhold judgment for a bit, since it seems that both the hawks and the doves have an interest in keeping North Korea offstage until the Iraq situation is resolved. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 3:10 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
I raise this point because the OxBlog readership tends to be both pro-war and pro-Tatu. But you can't have it both ways. While I know where my priorities lie, I do recommend that If your preference for Tatu wins out, you buy yourself one of their expletive-laden anti-war T-shirts. You can also get a Tatu thong, if that's what you're into.
(OxBlog thanks Dima from Overspill for bringing said apparel to our attention.)
(1) opinions -- Add your opinion
Wednesday, March 05, 2003
# Posted 2:56 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 2:39 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
In the first month of Operation Allied Force, NATO reported that it averaged around 350 sorties per day, with nearly 130 attack sorties. By the fourth week, it was flying nearly two-and-a -half times the number of attack sorties per day than it flew during the first three weeks. NATO reported in early July that it had flown a total of 37,465 sorties, of which 14,006 were strike and suppression of air defense (SEAD) sorties and 10,808 were strike-attack sorties. By the end of the conflict, NATO had attacked over 900 targets.In short, the ratio of bombs to civilian fatalities was 50 to 1. If only Serb bullets had been as kind to the Kosovars. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 2:17 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
While I haven't had the chance to read up on this sort of thing much, I get the sense that the UN produces these short of shock figures before all conflicts. With any luck, I will be able to compare the Afghanistan projections to the postwar reality. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 1:52 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
On October 7, 2002, UNICEF stated that “child malnutrition remains a major concern, with almost one-third of all children in the south and center of Iraq suffering from chronic malnutrition.”South and center, huh? What about the rest of Iraq? Ah, yes. Here we go:
The northern Kurdish population has fared better than those in the central or southern areas. WFP [the UN World Food Program] supplies food to the north, recent harvests have been good, and the local population has been able to retain much of what it grows because the central government refuses to purchase grain from northern farmers.Who knew? Human Rights Watch spreading capitalist propaganda...
(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 1:37 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Unlike other conflict situations where refugees are able to cross international borders in search of safe haven, Iraqis could become trapped in the midst of a conflict in their own country. Iran, already host to the world's largest refugee population, has sent mixed messages about whether it will allow Iraqi refugees into its territory. Turkey has unequivocally stated for months that it will not honor its international obligation to allow refugees to enter its territory and will set up camps inside Iraq. "Turkey must open its borders to refugees fleeing an emergency at home," [HRW refugee protection expert Alison] Parker said.People, haven't you heard of international law? It's not a joke! (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Tuesday, March 04, 2003
# Posted 10:36 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Middle East Watch concludes that the number of Iraqi civilians killed as a direct result of injury from allied bombs and missiles will ultimately be calculated in the thousands, not the hundreds. At the same time, we are reasonably confident that the total number of civilians killed directly by allied attacks did not exceed several thousand, with an upper limit of perhaps between 2,500 and 3,000 Iraqi dead. These numbers, we note, do not include the substantially larger number of deaths that can be attributed to malnutrition, disease and lack of medical care caused by a combination of the U.N.-mandated embargo and the allies' destruction of Iraq's electrical system, with its severe secondary effectsTo put this in context, consider that
Repeatedly during the bombing campaign allied commanders suggested that in urban areas where civilian populations were likely to be found, allied air forces were using the most sophisticated munitions at their disposal to minimize the risk of collateralcivilian harm. The U.S. Air Force chief of staff, Gen. Merrill A. McPeak, estimated that some 90 percent of these so-called "smart" weapons hit their targets.84,200 tons of munitions, only 8.8% of which were precision-guided and the US still only 2500-3000 civilian casualties. Somewhere, a Russian is smiling. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 10:08 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Continuing in the tradition of the Gulf War, the most press-managed conflict in history, government officials have attempted to control information through spin control, with tightlipped briefings, vague official statements and praise for "highly accurate" and "precision-guided" weapons that still occasionally miss. Instead of preparing the public for the inevitability of civilian casualties by explaining how American soldiers are trained to avoid them and describing what went wrong when they occur, the Bush administration and the Pentagon have instead created expectations that can't be met. Disappointment, if not anger, is the inevitable result.Plus:
Studies conducted after the [Gulf] war proved the [negative] expectations to be far-fetched. Human Rights Watch, the most trusted source for civilian casualty data, found that the number of civilian deaths in the Gulf War was "historically low" -- but more that 3,000 civilians were still killed.Of course, the US looks good compared to certain other members of the UN Security Council:
While U.S. military actions over the past 12 years have demonstrated dramatic improvements in keeping noncombatants from harm, other major wars have shown just the opposite. Russia's 1994-1996 war in Chechnya was excoriated by human rights organizations, the State Department and other governments. Russian armed forces made few attempts to focus exclusively on military targets, using scorched-earth tactics harking back to Vietnam and the Second World War. They completely leveled Grozny, the capital of Chechnya, killing, according to Rachel Denbar of Human Rights Watch, "conservatively 15,000 to 20,000 civilians."What was that about everything on grand scale??? (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 9:30 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
What's interesting about both this study as well as the one by the LA Times which I cited before is that both are presented as revelations of brutatlity that the US government has refused to acknowledge. The following quote gives a sense of how the Globe spins the issue:
Along with faulty intelligence and the imprecision of aerial warfare, a large number of deaths can be attributed to the selection of targets in civilian areas. One high-profile example occurred during the war at Tora Bora when a US warplane hit the home of an associate of Osama bin Laden at the suggestion of Afghan commanders who knew he was not there. That attack in Pachir Agam killed an estimated 70 villagers.My first reaction to this is that Sarah Sewall was right about how bad the US military is at dealing with civilian casualty issues. If I were confronted with hyperbolic statements like the one by Tommy Franks, I'd also go looking for injured children.
On the other hand, the attitude of the Globe and LAT correspondents makes a mockey of Marc Herold's accusation that they are corporate stooges. God bless John Peter Zenger!
(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 8:17 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Operation Enduring Freedom showed that senior US officials remain ill-equipped to manage expectation and consequences of collateral damage. American responses to civilian deaths in Afghanistan remain ad hoc, reactive and defensive.I don't know if Sewall is right about all this, but her advice sounds good. And one reason is trust her is that Marc Herold has accused her of being a corporate stooge. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 8:03 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Radical firebrand Marc Herold, a professor of the University of New Hampshire, has conducted an allegedly comprehensive study which concluded that Allied bombing resulted in the death of about 3,600 Afghan civilians. In an essay blasting the the "corporate" media's undercounting of Afghan casualties, Herold observes that
those who generate low overall numbers of civilian casualties stress the faulty intelligence provided by Afghans [they absolve themselves of responsibility], point to an alleged proclivity of the Taliban to inflate such figures, and uncritically accept that the new precision-guided munitions kill mostly the 'bad guys.'Unsurprisingly, Herold goes on to demand that American officials be brought up on war crimes charges.
Frankly, I was surprised that Herold's casualty count was so low. Even so, I am inclined to place a lot more trust in a comprehensive study by the LA Times which put the casualty figure at somewhere between 1000 and 1200. (Sorry, no permalink.) According to author David Zucchino,
“The Times reviewed more than 2,000 reports of civilian casualties from US, British and Pakistani newspapers and international wire services. After eliminating duplicate accounts, the survey identified 194 incidents of civilian casualties from the start of the bombing until Feb. 28, when the air campaign was largely completed. The reported death toll, including estimates in some cases, was between 1,067 and 1,201. The Times excluded 754 civilian deaths reported by the Taliban but not independently confirmed, as well as 497 deaths that were not identified as civilian or military.Typical. The Soviets always have to do everything on a grand scale, just to show off.
(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 7:23 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Actually, the article doesn't really tell you anything about sex at Yale, only people at Yale talking about sex elsewhere. On the bright side, Al Goldstein was there! Al Goldstein!!! (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 3:07 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 2:53 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
According to Duncan Hunter (R-CA), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, the US has failed miserably to ensure that its money is spent on projects that actually enhance American security rather than padding the back pockets of Russian politicians.
Condi, where are you on this one? (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 2:41 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 2:21 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Monday, March 03, 2003
# Posted 10:26 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Now don't go thinking I'm some sort of puritan. Pictures of J.Lo are fine. But personal stuff weirds me out. I don't mean personal stuff of a non-sexual nature. That kind of thing helps create the friendly, informal atmosphere that makes the blogosphere so much fun to be a part of. But I'd say significant others are out.
While I don't expect to change Glenn's mind on this point, I am hoping to prevent Dan Drezner from making the same mistake. Dan, even if your wife is so stunningly beautiful that we will be forced to ogle her for days on end, that is all the more reason not to post any photos. Besides, if you're gonna post that kinda stuff, you may as well get a web cam and turn the post into a profit-making venture.
Vive la difference! (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 10:14 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
While Dan Drezner and Dima Guberman have already posted interesting replies, I think that their position slightly to the right of Kevin, Matt and Sean-Paul (on foreign policy), prevents them from saying what liberal hawks need to hear.
While I am probably somewhat to the right of Kevin, Matt and Sean-Paul as well, I think that my foreign policy stands are so fiercely liberal that I might be able to persuade them that their confidence in the need to confront Saddam is faltering prematurely.
So let's begin at the beginning: What is troubling the liberal hawks? As I pointed out a few days ago, we are deeply concerned about the depth of the President's commitment to promoting democracy in the Middle East.
This concern is clearly significant for Kevin, who writes that "George Bush has given us precious little reason to think that he really cares about" democracy in the Middle East. Matt comments that "there seems to be little reason to believe that the administration actually will accomplish the humanitarian objective."
Now I agree that one ought to have serious concerns about Bush's commitment to democracy promotion. But why have Kevin and Matt become so worried in the immediate aftermath of the speech in which Bush went further than ever before in spelling out his commitment to promoting democracy throughout the Middle East? (Not just in Iraq, a point Kieran Healy seems to miss.)
While talking the talk is not the same as walking the walk, one has to realize two things about Bush's speech. The first is a general point which relates to all political speeches: When polticians make explicit promises, they can either be punished for breaking them or forced to live up to them. As for punishment, I ask you to recall the immortal words of America's 41st president: "Read my lips. No new taxes."
As for being forced to live up to one's promises, that is the subject of my doctoral dissertation. Interestingly enough, the promises I discuss are Ronald Reagan's promises to promote democracy abroad. He didn't exactly mean it, but first the Democrats and then even most Republicans began to demand that Reagan live up to his word.
The second point about Bush's speech is that it didn't serve a political purpose. American support for the war has almost nothing to do with promoting democracy in Iraq. Opposition to the war has even less to do with Bush's less than 100% credible stance on promoting democracy in Iraq. The fact that this speech happened at all indicates that forces within the administration were pushing for it. Obviously, Paul Wolfowitz. But if you take a look at Stephen Hadley's op-ed in the WaPo, you'll see that NSC seems to be behind the idea as well.
Now we come to the second concern of the liberal hawks. According to Kevin, there
is a good reason for war, but only barely. Saddam does pose a threat, but it's a fairly distant threat and there's reason to think that a policy of containment could be made to work for at least several more years. When you put this together with the larger damage the war will do to our international relations, the whole thing only barely passes the smell test.On the question of whether Saddam is a threat, I refer the wavering hawks to fellow lib-hawk, Josh Marshall, who points out that the issue isn't whether we have to confront Saddam, but when.
While Kevin thinks containment "could be made to work for several more years", I doubt it. The UN can't keep its inspectors on the ground forever, perhaps a year at best. Eventually, they will either have to declare that Saddam is lying or give Saddam a clean bill of health and just go home. If they go home, then there would be no justification for further sanctions or, for that matter, futher inspections. Without sanctions, containment will fall apart. Without sanctions, Saddam will have the funds necessary to build nucelar weapons. And fast.
Now you might ask, what if the Bush administration decided not to provoke a crisis in Iraq and just leave sanctions in place? That idea might have been defensible a year and a half ago. But now the die is cast. And I don't mean that we have too many troops in the Gulf to pull back now. We could.
But there will never be another Resolution 1441. We have have pissed off the French, the Germans and the European street, but the leaders of 19 nations are behind us. That will not happen again if we back off now. Like it or not, it's now or never.
A third point of liberal concern is that Bush has already done too much damage to America's international standing. As Matt says, the administration has
created a situation where the overwhelming majority of the global population opposes an American invasion. These bad feelings about the United States are having an extremely detrimental effect on our interests elsewhere.Pardonnez moi? Which interests is Matt referring to? Europe hasn't done any damage to our the American effort to reign in North Korea. (Josh Marshall might note that we screwed that one up ourselves. Same with Turkey.)
Germany is still in charge of the peacekeeping force in Afghanistan. European intelligence services are still working with us to destroy Al Qaeda, a project that has met with considerable success lately. The only interests we can't achieve because of European anti-war sentiment are the disarmament and democratization of Iraq.
As for the effects that aroused anti-American sentiment might have in the future, I think there is every reason to believe that once we overthrow Saddam, set up a transitional government and put Saddam's WMD arsenal on display, the anti-war majority will initiative an impressive effort to pretend that it was behind America all along. ("No, really. We knew it had to be done. We just wanted it to be done with UN approval." Nice try, Jacques.)
So that's my two cents on the issue. Bottom line: Bush is more committed to democracy than ever before. We have to confront Saddam either now or later. If we win, Europe will forget we weren't supposed to. So pull out your principles and stand tall, my friends. This is a war for a liberal cause.
(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 8:49 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
When the United States finally took firm action, by invading Afghanistan, there was no rejoicing in the Arab street and no sign of increased recruiting for al Qaeda. The prospect of spending the rest of their lives in Guantanamo Bay may even dissuade some of the more faint-hearted Islamists from taking up armsMy point exactly.
Btw, the rest of Boot's column is worth a read as well. It makes a point that should be pretty self-evident by now, i.e. that confronting Iraq hasn't stopped us from smoking out the remnants of Al Qaeda. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 8:18 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
This change does matter, and Marshall is right to argue that it is evidence of an unwillingness to consider opposing views. But he goes too far when he says that the Bush administration's efforts to politicize the national security bureaucracy have reached "unprecedented levels".
W. hasn't come close to what Reagan did, cleaning out whole bureaus in the State Department and sending decorated ambassadors with thirty years experience into premature retirement. Thus, when Marshall argues that this administration's unwillingness to hear opposing views has damaged its foreign policy, his charges ring hollow. The administration has done plenty wrong, but not because it hasn't been aware of other options. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 3:16 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
The Turkish government can submit the deal to parliament again, but would almost definitely have to wait at least a week before doing so. As long as the government can persuade a handful of MPs to switch from absention to non-votes (i.e. not showing up in parliament for the vote), the deal will pass.
That seems to be what the US Army wants, though it's hard to know whether it really means it when it says that it can't afford to wait another week. In light of how hard it would be to hold northern Iraq without Turkish support, I have to imagine the Army is mostly talking tough to put pressure on the Turks.
What may influence the Turks more than the Army, though, is the fact that the Turkish stock market dropped 11% within minutes of opening today in response to the prospective loss of American aid in exchange for basing rights. The currency also fell 5%.
All in all, I expect Turkey to come around. The government is too concerned about Kurdish independence to give up the role in northern Iraq that it would get in exchange for working with the US. Its economy also needs US aid quite badly.
One ought to note that many more government MPs than expected voted with the opposition on the aid deal. However, I sense that these defection represented the widespread hope that the deal would pass in spite of such defections, so that defecting MPs could tell their constituents they stood up to the United States without having to shoulder resposibility for actually doing so.
Even so, this unplanned opposition may have made opponents of the bill aware that they have enough momentum to stop the deal. Do they? Stay tuned.
UPDATE: Josh Marshall is spinning the Turkish situation as a major failure on the administration's part. His main point is that we pissed off the Kurds in order to get a deal with the Turks that never came through.
As with North Korea, I think Marshall is jumping the gun on this one. The Administration got a solid commitment from the Turkish government, which was dealt a suprise setback by its own supporters. While the Kurds weren't happy with the deal, it was hardly the "sell out" of "an incipient democracy in Iraqi Kurdistan".
But every cloud has a silver lining. I'm glad to see that Josh is even more concerned about democracy in the Middle East than I thought he was.
UPDATE: Kevin Drum is also spinning the Turkish situation as a Dick Cheney fiasco, mostly in response to NRO's decision to blame the State Department. People, can we have some patience? (Or at least blame the Turkish government's incompetence rather than that of Dick Cheney or Colin Powell.) (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Sunday, March 02, 2003
# Posted 6:07 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
No comment yet from the NYT, WaPo or Reuters. But according to the Independent, US prepares to use toxic gases in Iraq. That's the real headline. But the article says that what the plans to do is use pepper spray to control crowds. Yes, the same pepper spray that police use everywhere. But which is banned according to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), since it may lead to chemical escalation.
On the toxic front, the article mentions that US Special Forces may use variants of the knock-out gas with which Russian commandos accidentally killed a couple hundred hostages in a Moscow theater last October. The gas would be used in bunker raids. While I have some definite reservations about violating the CWC, I have to imagine that the Special Forces are slightly more competent than their Russian counterparts, and won't be killing be people by accident. After all, we have bombs that can do that. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 5:38 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
But sometimes, when I go away for the weekend, I find myself cut off from cyberspace and forced to read the bricks-and-mortar broadsheets that get sold around these parts. This was one of those these weekends. And as always, I found something of interest alongside the colorfully incoherent anti-American ranting that passes for political commentary in these parts.
First of all, the Times reported on Friday that in just 82 minutes, one of its correspondents tracked down four of Britain's eight most wanted criminals, relying on nothing more than his internet connection and public records. Two questions on that: First, if this guy is so good, why doesn't he spend some more time catching bad guys? Second, just what the hell do the police here do all day?
The Times also picked up the following quote from Spanish PM J.M. Aznar, who observed that
“I did tell the President that we need a lot of Powell and not much of Rumsfeld,” said Señor Aznar, referring to Colin Powell, the US Secretary of State. “Ministers of Defence should talk less, shouldn’t they? The more Powell speaks and the less Rumsfeld speaks, that wouldn’t be a bad thing altogether.”With all due to respect to a loyal ally, I think Mr. Aznar has it wrong. Nothing short of replacing George W. Bush with Jimmy Carter could calm down anti-war Europe.
Friday's Independent led off with a headline declaring: Blix Damns Iraq: Too Little, Too Late. While the Indy isn't the Guardian, a headline like that still meant there were no kinds words from Blix that might be spun into good news for the anti-war movement. (NB: The Guardian tried pretty hard, though.)
Inside the paper, an article covering Bush's speech on postwar Iraq kindly observed that
Critics will dismiss the rhetoric as a familiar example of US self-interest, grudgebearing and paranoia clothed in a pious idealism. But the idealism is not entirely phoney.But lest the Indy sacrifice its street credibility, it balanced this feint praise with a headline informing its readers that "Bush's blueprint for future conceals a declaration of war." No way! Bush in favor of war???
Moving on, we come to the editorial page, where the Indy featured a point-counterpoint on American efforts to bring democracy in the Middle East. I have to admit I was impressed. I only expected a counterpoing.
Finally, we get to this quote from a masthead editorial in today's Indy. Yes, I read it online. And no, I am not making this up:
"...on the eve of war we'll settle for Saddam's game-playing, and urge the conviction Prime Minister to be more pragmatic. Whatever the motives of Saddam, the UN weapons inspectors are making some progress."As they say in New York, don't hate the playa, hate the game.
(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 4:40 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Above all, the movie is hilarious. Grant shows that he can do comedy with the best of them. But give plenty of credit to co-writers/co-directors/co-siblings Chirs and Paul Weitz, better known for the adolescent brilliance of American Pie.
The film also works because of Nicholas Hoult, who plays the boy (Marcus). It takes a damn good child actor to make this kind of script work, since it depends on real interaction between the kids and the adults. IMHO, Hoult demonstrates that Episode I might have been able to live up to the hype like if its script didn't call for Young Anakin to act like an idiot.
(I won't pass judgment on Haley Joel Osment, since I have to assume that he was doing what Lucas wanted. Besides, he was quite good in The Sixth Sense.)
[CORRECTION: Reader TG points out that Anakin was played by Jake Lloyd, not Haley Joel Osment. As such, I feel compelled to offer a heartfelt apology to Mr. Osment, whom I never intended to slander in such a spiteful and malicious way. Looks like OxBlog ought to stick to politics...]
One extra fun thing about watching About a Boy was that I was watching it with a friend in her way-too-hip flat in Islington, the same London neighborhood where much of the film takes place. For once in my life, I felt like a legitimate resident of this lovely island rather than an interventionist cowboy.
Last but not least, check out the soundtrack by Badly Drawn Boy as well as any other film with Rachel Weisz in it. It's not every day that you say yourself: "I can't believe she's not a shiksa." (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Saturday, March 01, 2003
# Posted 7:31 AM by Daniel
(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Friday, February 28, 2003
# Posted 4:35 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
At the risk of sounding heartless, I believe that the greatest risk facing human shields after the shooting starts is being executed by Hussein's henchmen and dumped on a pile of bomb-strewn rubble for a propaganda photo-op.At the risk of sounding even more heartless, I have to admit that if I were Saddam, that's what I'd do. Thus, if I were a human shield, I would spend my time in Tel Aviv nightclubs. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 4:32 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
That sounded bad. After all, I had bothered to go to the Home Office in person because I want to travel in March, so I couldn't wait for a by-mail renewal. (Of course, I could've sent the application in three months ago, but whatever.)
Then, surprisingly enough, the clerk tells me I should go ahead and travel, but bring my renewal application with me and hand to the immigration officer when I return to London. It's that simple. Now, it would've been nice if there had been a notice on the Home Office immigration website explaining that late applications can be processed at the airport, but I figure I came out ahead compared to the people who left the Office after shouting matches with the clerks.
Thankfully, that's all in the past now. I'm now at an Easy Everything internet cafe, having just wolfed down some of the best pizza in England at a SoHo cafe. After this, we head out to party. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 2:46 PM by Daniel
(1) opinions -- Add your opinion
Thursday, February 27, 2003
# Posted 10:39 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Martin's first point is that the projected length of the US occupation will be at least two years, a fact which might reinforce impressions of imperialism. If the occupation of Iraq follows the German and Japanese precedents, however, there will be municipal and provincial elections after around a year of occupation. Thus Iraqis will have considerable control of their own lives even if a US general has the final say on issues of national importance. As such, Muslims in neighboring states will probably recognize that the occupation is not an imperialist venture.
Martin next raises the issue of whether Muslims will perceive the US as anti-Islamic if -- or perhaps because -- it has chosen to bring democracy to Iraq. To support that point, Martin refers to bin Laden's statement that the war on terror is an anti-Islamic crusade regardless of whether or not it topples dictators such as Saddam. My guess is that most Muslims don't really buy into that sort of underhanded logic. Even if Muslims have their doubts about democracy, I don't think there is any reason they should see it as fundamentally un-Islamic, provided their views on having a good time are less strict than those of the Taliban.
The most interesting point Martin makes is one about the psychology of perception. Whereas I figure that most Muslims are either somewhat open-minded about the US or fully convinced that it is an imperialist power, Martin suggests that any given individual may have a tipping point at which one more American insult send them over the edge.
While I have some background in political psychology, I don't think I can offer decisive statements about how the average human being thinks, let alone how Arabs and Muslims form their political perceptions. Even so, the tipping-point model seems somewhat improbable. It essentially posits that certain classes of events transform open-minded individuals into closed-minded ones.
Regardless of the fact that such a transformation doesn't really fit with what I know about the psychology of persuasion (let alone common sense), I'm enough of a novice at this to be less than sure about my position. Still, even if one grants that individuals may have tipping points, is the invasion of Iraq the sort of event that might send people over the edge?
I tend to doubt it. First of all, the impact of an invasion on non-Iraqis will be much less direct than it is on the people of Iraq. As such, it is hard to imagine that it would affect their psychology so dramatically. Second, another invasion of Iraq would not be all that different from the first one, even though Saddam had more directly provoked his neighbors in 1991.
To support the tipping point logic, Martin provided the example of Yusuf Qaradawi, a Muslim televangelist who has long supported suicide bombing, but then supported the US war in Afghanistan, while now denouncing the prospective invasion of Iraq. Leaving aside my previous argument that the US can work with men such as Qaradawi to reform Arab governments (an argument Martin strongly disagrees with), I'd have to say Qaradawi is not a likely to have a tipping point.
First of all, Qaradawi is an intellectual, and thus much less likely to have impulsive views about politics. If there is an uprising in response to the US invasion of Iraq, it will come from below, not above (although those above will take advantage of it). Moreover, the simple fact that Qaradawi could back an American war against an Islamic state suggests that he is far too open-minded to be thrown over the age by American aggression against a secular dictator like Saddam.
So those are my thoughts. As someone with only a primitive knowledge of Middle Eastern politics, I won't stand by them without reservations, especially when confronted with solid arguments like Martin's. But I think I've made a logical case and one that does pretty well on the facts. Let me know what you think. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 9:24 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Lawyer BVK writes that
In response to your (perhaps rhetorical) question re Human Rights Watch's statement on US culpability for killing human shields, they are in part right. Legal responsibility can lie on both sides of an action, even if one side initiates it. For example, when a criminal takes a hostage, the police cannot simply shoot through the hostage to kill the bad guy. Even though the criminal has initiated the situation by putting a hostage between him and the gun, the police officer has a responsibility to assess whether there is a means of apprehending/killing the criminal without endangering the life of the hostage. he end result might be shooting the hostage to get to the criminal, but absent a good justification (more lives would be in danger otherwise) that cop is going to jail.Sounds good to me. Non-lawyer MJ adds that "There is a difference between an innocent civilian human shield in the form of an Iraqi held against his will and a volunteer who chooses to stand where bombs are likely to fall. I don't consider volunteers to protect targets to be civilians at all." I think I'm going to side with BVK on the legal merits and MJ on moral grounds. Regardless, the US should probably do its best to avoid hitting the shields f(if possible) for the practical reason that it will lead to another damaging public fight with assorted European governments. If only the shields were willing to deploy themselves in Israel instead, all this trouble could be avoided... (1) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 8:56 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
On the front page of today's WaPo there is a long article entitled "Democracy in Kuwait is Promise Unfulfilled". While this headline is 100% accurate, the article does not explain why it is that Kuwait is no closer to democratic rule than it was at the end of the Gulf War.
As the Post correctly reports, Kuwait is a "tightly controlled hereditary emirate" with an elected parliament. While the franchise is restricted to male citizens over the age of 21, elections are essentially fair. Reading the Post article, one has no idea what the significance of parliament is in this tightly controlled hereditary emirate.
Trying to figure out what was going on, I turned to an article by Georgia State Prof. Michael Herb in the Oct. 2002 issue of the Journal of Democracy. It turns out that the Emir's son, the Crown Prince, appoints the cabinet, which is responsible to the Emir and not to the parliament. The cabinet does not need a vote of confidence in parliament in order to take office, nor can it be removed by a vote of no confidence.
The ministries of defense, interior and foreign affairs (known collectively as the ministries of sovereignty) are reserved for members of the royal family, while the rest of the cabinet posts are distributed in a manner reflecting the balance of power in parliament.
The one prerogrative the parliament itself has is to vote no confidence in individual ministers, a prerogative it took advantage of in July 2002. Ironically, the vote reflected an effort by conservative Islamist, Shi'ite and tribal deputies to oust a liberal finance minister. Their effort failed, but narrowly.
Neither the WaPo article nor its JoD counterpart gives much sense of how much control the parliament has over the government, although the latter observes that "the government does sometimes lose important votes, as was the case with parliament's refusal to give women the vote." In a bit of bad reporting, the Post implies that the defeat of women's suffrage was an unmitigated defeat for democracy, rather than exploring the possibility that the conservative opposition's successful resistance to a government sponsored initiative indicates that the royal family does not wield, as the Post would have it, "unquestioned power."
A second critical oversight in both articles is their failure to examine what it is that Kuwait's Islamist opposition wants. Both simply refer to the Islamists as fundamentalist, with the Post mentioning their unsurprising habit of saying nice things about Palestinian martyrs and Osama bin Laden. But are the Islamists interested in taking control of the state? Do they acknowledge the legitimacy of the royal family? Would universal suffrage increase their influence or reduce it? Would an Islamist majority in parliament use it influence to open up the government or just demand special privileges for fundamentalists?
Herb writes that
"fears that an Islamist takeover will result from a partial transition [to democracy] are exaggerated. As much as the sad expereince of Algeria shows the very real dangers of ill-considered attempts at democratization, it is unlikley in the extreme that an Algerian scenario will play out in the Gulf: The ruling families there are too deply ensconced to be ousted by Islamists."
Thus, in Kuwait, the future of democracy depends on the willingness of the Emir and his family to grant their subjects both civil rights and a greater voice in government. In the absence of strong pressure from Washington, however, there is every reason to believe that they won't.
(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 8:24 PM by Daniel
(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 7:52 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 7:48 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
But more than a response to critics, the editorial is a sober and well-reasoned case for fighting Saddam Hussein should he refuse to disarm. If you know someone who isn't sure that the United States is on the right path -- and still open to the argument that it might be -- let them know what the WaPo has to say. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 4:01 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 3:46 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Thanks to JS, I also thought of the following: Why not stop Palestinian suicide bombings by having human shields on every public bus and in every nightclub in Israel? After all, clubbing is almost as much fun as going to protest marches! (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 3:31 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
And yet somehow, the NYT managed to report that Bush's speech was about "stability" in the Middle East and the importance of resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. You have to get around half way through the article before you get to any mention of Bush's vision for a democratic Middle East. While it's one thing to be skeptical about the President's commitment to promoting democracy abroad, pretending that he hasn't addressed the issue is just absurd.
On an even more bizarre note, a NYT masthead editorial criticizes Bush for focusing his speech on democracy in Iraq when what he really should have been talking about is the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. People! Make up your mind!
Unsurprisingly, the WaPo seemed to have no problem figuring out the point of Bush's speech. As the second sentence of its report reads,
Looking beyond hostilities to topple Saddam Hussein -- an outcome administration officials have increasingly portrayed as inevitable -- Bush also sought to assure doubters across the globe that the ultimate U.S. goals in the region are not imperialist but democratic.Sort of makes you wonder why the cover price of the NYT is so much higher than that of the Post. Maybe it's the cost of remedial journalism classes for all of its correspondents. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Wednesday, February 26, 2003
# Posted 11:20 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Moderation toward all things! Although you do have inner demons, you can more than control them, and often find yourself in the position of peacemaker, balancing things out.I also took the liberty of filling in the answers I think Josh might give, and it turns out that he is "Good". Go figure. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 11:10 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
One point is take issue with is Marshall's argument that those who compare Iraq to Germany and Japan
miss an important part of why Germany and Japan worked. It's called World War II. One of the reasons the Germans and the Japanese stood still for what we accomplished in their countries is that we had just spent a couple years thoroughly bludgeoning their countries. Day and night bombing against major population centers, the disruption of the economies, the very real threat that if it wasn't us it'd be the Russians taking over, etc.
I'm surprised Marshall thinks the "same set of circumstances won't apply to Iraq." But everyone there has suffered for years because of Saddam's corruption and brutality. While some Iraqis might blame the West for sanctions, the Japanese and Germans would have been able to make an even stronger case for blaming the Allies for their carpet bombing.
Moreover, I think there is every reason to believe that Iraqis will be "pleasantly surprised when they discover how relatively benign our rule" is.
Speaking as a historian, I think that what Marshall really misses is the way in which the Allied victory in World War II utterly discredited the vicious ideologies that taken root in both Germany and Japan before and during the war. The shock of defeat was in part a product of the utopian visions that Hitler and the Japanese imperialists forced on their erstwhile subjects.
I'd imagine that Iraq's Ba'athist ideology is already too discredited to be hurt by another Iraqi defeat. But more importantly, the ideology of democracy has already spread to both the millions of Iraqis living in exile as well as the Kurds of the North. While I have no illusions about the democratization of Iraq being easy, it is important not to give in to unfounded pessimism.
On that point, I agree with Marshall, who concludes that "Believe it or not, this [post] isn't meant to say we shouldn't try to accomplish this [objective]. Once the decision for war is made it is really the only policy we can pursue. But the scope of enterprise is awe-inspiring."
(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 10:52 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 10:47 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 10:39 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
According to historian and activist Alison Des Forges, the US knew what was happening as soon as the massacres began on April 6, 1994. According to political scientist Alan Kuperman, neither the US, the UN, nor Des Forges herself understood the dimensions of the violence until April 20, at which point it would not have been possible to save more than a fifth of the eventual victims.
While I thought Kuperman made a much stronger case, the issue itself is significant enough to merit a third opinion. So I turned to the work of Samantha Power, former executive director of Harvard's Carr Center for Human Rights and author of "A Problem From Hell": America and the Age of Genocide (For a summary of her views from the Atlantic Monthly, click here.)
(NB: While aware of all the praise and awards that Power's book has won, I also chose to consult it because Samantha graduated from Yale a few years before I did and held the same Junior Fellowship at the Carnegie Endowment after graduating. When I was considering whether or not to accept the Fellowship, Yale referred me to Samantha, who recommended it enthusiastically. Not that I would've turned it down anyway, but she did help persuade me.)
Power's condemnation of the US is unequivocal. As she writes,
The Rwandan genocide would prove to be the fastest, most efficient killing spree of the twentieth century. In 100 days, some 800,000 Tutsi and politically moderate Hutu were murdered. The United States did almost nothing to try to stop it. Ahead of the April 6 plane crash, the United States ignored extensive early warnings about imminent mass violence. It denied Belgian requests to reinforce the peacekeeping mission. When the massacres started, not only did the Clinton administration not send troops to Rwanda to contest the slaughter, but it refused countless other options...Remembering Somalia and hearing no American demands for intervention, President Clinton and his advisers knew that the military and political risks of involving the United States in a bloody conflict in central Africa were great, yet there were no costs of avoiding Rwanda altogether.While I haven't made it through all of Carr's chapter on Rwanda yet, the evidence so far seems to support Kuperman's account more than it does Des Forges' or her own..
While Carr documents the elaborate Hutu preparations for the genocide, there is insufficient evidence that either US or UN officials knew what might happen. In April 1993, one UN rapporteur explicity warned of a possible genocide in Rwanda, pointing to 2,000 political murders that had taken place since 1990. Yet as Carr notes elsewhere, Hutu violence claimed the lives of 50,000 victims in neighboring Burundi in October 1993.
Was this an indication that such violence might spread to Rwanda? Or that warnings of violence in Rwanda were exaggerated when compared to the situation elsewhere? According to Carr's interviews with US diplomats stationed in Rwanda in April 1994, they were fully committed to the UN brokered peace process and expected no major violence. Wrong (and/or self-serving) as such perceptions might, they don't provide much traction for the view that Washington should have known better.
On January 11, 1994, UN peacekeeping commander Gen. Romeo Dallaire cabled New York to let the UN know that a Rwandan informant had warned of an impending genocide. According to Carr, Dallaire assessed the informant's report as "reliable." According to Kuperman, Dallaire
raised doubts about the informant's credibility in this cable, stating that he had "certain reservations on the suddenness of the change of heart of the informant. . . . Possibility of a trap not fully excluded, as this may be a set-up." Raising further doubt, the cable was the first and last from Dallaire containing such accusations, according to U.N. officials. Erroneous warnings of coups and assassinations are not uncommon during civil wars. U.N. officials were prudent to direct Dallaire to confirm the allegations with Habyarimana himself, based on the informant's belief that "the president does not have full control over all elements of his old party/faction." Dallaire never reported any confirmation of the plot.Unfortunately, neither Carr nor Kuperman indicates where one can find the original text of the memo. Even so, Kuperman seems to be on firmer ground here.
The next point of conflict between the Kuperman and Carr accounts concerns Gen. Dallaire's state of mind in April 1994. According to Carr,
Dallaire and other foreign observers passed through two phases of recognition. The first involved coming to grips with the occurrence not only of a conventional war but of massive crimes against humanity. The second involved understanding that what was taking place was genocide.Carr's interviews with Dallaire suggest that he reached the first stage of recognition on April 9 and the second stage on April 10, at which point he requested 5,000 reinforcements.
In light of the fact that Dallaire had the benefit of hindsight while being interviewed, it is worth wondering whether he exaggerated his own awareness of the genocide and commitment to stopping it. If Dallaire's statements to the British press in April 1994 are any indication, what he told Carr was just about an outright lie.
In Foreign Affairs, Kuperman writes that Dallaire
identified the problem as mutual violence, stating on April 15 that "if we see another three weeks of being cooped up and seeing them [the Hutu and Tutsi forces] pound each other" (The Guardian), the U.N. presence would be reassessed...
In light of Dallaire's failure to understand what was going on around him, one has to wonder what decision makers in Washington understood -- especially since the American diplomatic corps had left Rwanda shortly after the outbreak of violence.
Quoted in an interveiw with Carr, the second-ranking US diplomat in Rwanda claims, after returning to Washington, to have told State Department colleagues that the violence in progress was nothing less than "genocide" in progress. In the absence of documents to corroborate this claim, however, one has to suspect that it is no more accurate than Dallaire's.
On April 11, a talking points memo informed Frank Wisner, the undersecretary of defense for policy, that "unless both sides can be convinced to return to the peace process, a massive (hundreds of thousands of deaths) bloodbath will ensue." This memo is the closest one comes to hard evidence that the American government knew what was happening. Yet its reference to the peace process suggests that Washington had completely failed to recognized that Hutu extremists had already begun their genocide and that no diplomatic options were left.
The first mention of genocide in an American document seems to be in a May 9 report by the Defense Intelligence Agency. By that time, however, the dimensions of the killing in Rwanda were well known to the public. All in all, there just doesn't seem to be evidnece that the US understood just how serious the Rwandan massacres were.
Should the US have responded with force even if the massacres taking place did not amount to genocide? From a moral perspective, the obvious answer is 'yes'. But after the humilitation of Somalia and the lackluster response to the ongoing genocide in Bosnia, there is little reason to believe that the US or any other country would have done something in the event of violence that wasn't severe enough to warrant the term genocide.
TO BE CONTINUED.
(0) opinions -- Add your opinion