[extropy-chat] urban sprawl as defense

Brett Paatsch bpaatsch at bigpond.net.au
Fri Aug 27 09:02:50 UTC 2004

Samantha Atkins wrote:

> > > How would a more capable President have handled the
> > > situation?
> >
> > He'd have threatened to revoke the Charter and withdraw
> > the US from the UN in the media if Chirac of France did not
> > come up with a general standard for determining when the UN
> > Security Council should go to war. The security council has to
> > be willing to go to war sometimes or there can be no peace. At
> > a critical point Chirac of France was saying that France would
> >  "never, never" go to war.
> >
> Nonsense! Hypocrisy! One nation's head must come up with when to
> go to war and if he doesn't we simply withdraw altogether?

Yes (to answer your question).

But not just any one nation's head of state - it had to be Chirac of France
in particular that was challenged to come up with a standard because
Chirac of France in particular was in the world media and heading the
country most likely to veto the formulation of an effective resolution
BECAUSE in no small part Chirac (like Bush) had his own domestic
constituency to deal with - many of whom wanted war no more than
you did.

It is VERY reasonable to want to avoid war if possible - but sometimes
it isn't possible (for the simple reason that our choices don't remove the
choices of others to see us as their prey) and so some capacity for it
must be maintained - for a leader to do less is to be irresponsible in the
face of history, and not just human history, but all of natural history.
Nature does not favour peace. Evolution has no preference for it. Peace
is precious precisely because it is must be painstakingly won against
enormous logistical difficulties and odds.

The US President (whoever happened to be in the role) had and has a
first duty to his own citizens and to their safety. That is not spin.

September 11 showed the world a new type of sophisticated
organised terrorist.  It would have been irresponsible of Bush (or any
President) not to consider what such terrorists might do should they get
hold of weapons of mass destruction.

The whole purpose of the UN Charter is to maintain international peace
and security.  Take a look at article 1. Google the United Nations.

Having a permanent security council member that would not go to
war under ANY circumstances (which was what Chirac was at least
pretending his position to be) is utterly incompatible with the founding
purpose of the UN.  Had Bush called Chirac on this - Chirac would
have had to step back from his rhetoric which was almost certainly not
his final position but rather diplomatic positioning designed to counter
balance Bush's pretended or real statements implying eagerness for
war with Saddam (a valid brinksmanship tactic).

Bush could not make the UN non-farcical if Chirac or others wanted
it to be farcical - but he could refuse to participate in the farce, if
Chirac did not come up with a standard. And that would have
been an option that 'the world' could have respected as honorable.

No agreement is binding when the bad faith of one of the parties is
absolutely manifest. Thats why Bush should have challenge Chirac
in front of the media.

People in all legal jurisdictions get that basic principle. It's almost
pre-law and straight logic.

> Isn't this
> ignoring the 60-odd very strong resolutions against the behavior of
> Israel whom we support nearly without reservation and never call for a
> war against?   There was no good evidence for war worthy breaking of
> UN weapsons resolution in Iraq.  So France and other countries quite
> rightly held back.  We went ahead anyway and made fools of ourselves
> to say the least.

No. I think you misunderstand the UN Charter in a way that it is most
commonly misunderstood. You seem to think that it is a more
comprehensive tool that it is, or that it realistically could be yet. That's
a pity. I am pretty sure that no UN resolutions were made against Israel
because the US veto'd them from being made.  Veto'ing a resolution
from being made is different (and valid) from disregarding it when it has
been made (as was the case with 1441 by the US and the UK).

The UN security council is a very blunt instrument. It is incapable of
delivering the sort of fine grained justice that many westerners may think
their morality requires. It had to be minimalistic and to not get too
in domestic matters to be able to be agreed to at all within its historical
period by the war powers.

Whenever one or more of the big 5 objected to a course - say the US
did not want to see a resolution passed against Israel then it would stop
a resolution being MADE. That is a different matter to having one
made and then breaking it.

In a way, the Bush administration showed almost world historical levels
of good faith (perhaps because of pressure/influence from Powel or Blair
or perhaps because Bush wanted to do what he saw as the right thing
- I don't know) in going to the UN security council about Iraq. And in
placing the matter of Iraq in the hands of the security council. That was
almost the first time that a power gave the UN a real chance to do its
job.  It was almost the UNs first chance. For the first time China and
Russia were not going to be reflexively obstructionist.

September 11 had endowed the US with enormous goodwill and China
and Russia were looking for good relations with the US for economic

> > Had Saddam had weapons of mass destruction Chiracs position would
> > have given him confidence that the UN would not and could not invade
> > because the French President would not make the necessary call and
> > as a permanent security council member could veto and resolution that
> > would have required force.
> >
> You mean like we have vetoed any action against Israel for all these
> many long years?   Besides you are setting up a hypothetical that is
> pure supposition.

Yes the US did veto resolutions against Israel. The US acted to support
Israel. I am no expert in the history of the UN, but I think that Israel
probably warranted US support on many if not all of those vetos.

Israel for much of its history has been a country surrounded by enemies
and left to fend for itself with its own resources.

> > If Iraq didn't have weapons of mass destruction it would not have been
> > invaded but the UN would have had a standard to use for go-to-war
> > don't-go-to-war decisions in the future.
> >
> A standard is a reasonable thing but I don't see it was Chirac who was
> principally in the way of one or that we should have withdrawn if
> Chirac did not come up with one.

A standard would quite possibly have been a world changing civilization
enhancing thing. Imagine a world where the UN would go to war and the
US did not have to shoulder the entire burden.

> > In a world where terrorists could have weapons of mass distruction
> > it is not unreasonable that the sovereignty of countries be put aside
> > provided that it is done in the right way. There is not currently a
> > workable right way. Bush could have made it so that there was
> > - but instead he chose a wrong way.
> >
> In a world where the down-trodden may use terrorism I would advise
> being damn careful about invading people's homeland on suspicion.

The doctrine of preemption is self defeating when practices by a single
nation as it makes even that nations allies nervous.

> I  would also advise being careful about bullying various peoples.
> Impunity is harder to come by.   Of course this advice will be
> considered being "soft on terrorism".  More "realistic" folks will
> instead turn the world into an armed camp and throw away their
> freedoms to stop those insane terrorists who "hate us because we are
> good".

Samantha, where is your responsibility in this? Do you or do you
not accept that to have peace one has to be willing to fight for it

> > > The only alternative I can see was standing down the troops and
> > > letting the sanctions collapse.
> The sanctions had been outrageous for a long time.  Largely they
> should have been dropped long ago.
> >
> > The charter makes it unlawful to invade sovereign countries (except
> > in self defence - eg Afghanistan) or with security council approval
> > which would come in the form of a resolution.
> >
> Afghanistan was not self-defense.

Yes it was.

> > 1441 was the unanimous resolution that threaten "serious consequence"
> > on Iraq if it did not comply with previous resolutions and did not show
> > that it did not posses weapons of mass destruction.
> >
> It seems to me it did its best to prove a negative.   We didn't really
> give a shit about WMD to start with of course.  We were bound and
> determined to go in.

Whose we?  I cared.

> >
> > Because the security council gave Iraq one "final opportunity" and
> > because it was "seized of the matter" only the security council
> > could determine when the "final opportunity" was over.
> >
> > The security council never made such a determination because
> > Bush was not willing to go back to it to loose his legalistic pretext.
> >
> > To have done so would have made it clear to the whole world
> > (if it wasn't already) that the UN security council did not think
> > the use of force at that time was warranted - inspections were
> > still going on etc.
> >
> Yep.
> > The UK, Spain and the US had prepared another resolution
> > that effectively said only that the "final opportunity" granted
> > Iraq under 1441 was up. But they never tabled the resolution
> > to be voted on because it was clear that it would not have
> > gotten up and in failing to get up the PR battle would be
> > lost.
> >
> > So Bush and the coalition of the willing invaded before
> > the security council had deemed Iraq's final opportunity
> > over. That was clear cut illegal. And as it turned out
> > Iraq didn't have the weapons.
> >
> > The tradgedy is that the concerns over weapons were
> > not unreasonable and the criticisms made of the UN
> > were not unreasonable - there can be no peace under
> > the United Nations if the United Nations Security Council
> > would not enforce it - but it was within the range of
> > Bush's possible diplomatic moves to make the UN
> > security council live up to its mandate - he either just
> > didn't see the move (to challenge Chirac to produce a
> > standard or he would deem the UN Charter revoked)
> > - or he didn't want to see it - he wanted to invade Iraq
> > whether it had weapons or not.
> >
> Using this would have made us look very foolish after all the
> times we have backed down regarding Israel.

Foolish to whom?

Brett Paatsch

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