What he says

What he says
: Thomas Friedman:

As far as I’m concerned, we do not need to find any weapons of mass destruction to justify this war. That skull, and the thousands more that will be unearthed, are enough for me. Mr. Bush doesn’t owe the world any explanation for missing chemical weapons (even if it turns out that the White House hyped this issue). It is clear that in ending Saddam’s tyranny, a huge human engine for mass destruction has been broken….

Whether you were for or against this war, whether you preferred that the war be done with the U.N.’s approval or without it, you have to feel good that right has triumphed over wrong. America did the right thing here. It toppled one of the most evil regimes on the face of the earth, and I don’t think we know even a fraction of how deep that evil went. Fair-minded people have to acknowledge that. Who cares if we now find some buried barrels of poison? Do they carry more moral weight than those buried skulls? No way.

So why isn’t everyone celebrating this triumph?

  • button

    Jeff: It looks like you didn’t close a ‘bold’ tag. Please check you widgets.

  • http://www.scrappleface.com Scott Ott

    I never would have suspected that Friedman reads ScrappleFace, until now…
    Mass Grave Discoveries Prove Iraq War Not Justified

  • http://anildash.com/ Anil

    It’s great that Friedman thinks that’s enough to justify the war, but shouldn’t we be concerned that the President said it was the WMD that justified the war?

  • button

    No, Anil, there is a much larger geopolitical strategy that they are executing here, and it will work to ameliorate the WMD issue, too.

  • Jerry

    Who’s not celebrating, the jaded leftists in the New York Times cafeteria who did all they could to eviscerate the campaign against Saddam and his moustaches?

  • Balbulican

    Well, among the people not celebrating are those who have reservations about the doctrine that underlies the American invasion of Iraq.
    The justification cited internationally prior to the invasion was that America has the right to defend itself against a real, potential threat: and that America alone would decide what constituted such a threat. It now seems clear that Iraq did not represent much of a threat to America, and the goal of the invasion swiftly morphed into the liberation of the Iraqi people. And that, to be sure, is a welcome outcome. How you feel about being manipulated by your own government is your business.
    But the US has now told the world that it does not intend to be bound by international agreements or agencies, and that the US is now the sole arbiter of what the US will do…because the US has the economic and military strength to do so, and will not permit itself to be checked. The biggest kid on the block (by a long shot) has just told the cops, and the neighbours, that he is going to be the Law. But it’s okay…he’s a nice guy, and really has everyone else’s best wishes at heart.
    I think the US is a wonderful country, with an extraordinary culture and people. I’ve worked there, I’ve travelled there…you’re good guys. I know that. But you’re making me nervous.

  • Richard Aubrey

    That’s the point.
    New national motto:
    No more freebies. Somebody thought 9-11 would be a freebie, like so much else that came before.
    Now, we know two kinds of people would object. One is the kind of people who want to attack us.
    They’d prefer a freebie.
    The other is the kind of people who don’t want us to, you know, do actual stuff.
    I guess we’ll have to live with reproaches.
    The palpable disappointments among the other two groups aren’t our problem.

  • Jimmy

    Tom Friedman is a hypocrite who was saying the exact opposite a month ago. Long before Bush came into office I wanted our country to do more for Iraq, but what’s sad here is that so many are OK with the fact that our government trumped up the whole WMD threat as a reason for going to war, and now we should just shut up, celebrate Iraqi freedom and move on!? There’s a lot of childish name-calling on both sides of the political spectrum, but is there really anyone who is not happy that Iraq is free of a madman? That shouldn’t stop Americans from continuing to ask why their government lied. If Bush had been honest about the real humanitarian need from the beginning, there wouldn’t be a need to ask this question.

  • John Irving

    The fact that Iraq folded so quickly did not mean it did not represent a threat. The evidence is now overwhelming that Iraq was working with terrorist organizations such as al Qaeda, and had been providing them weapons, funding, and training for some time. The fact that Saddam Hussein refused to allow unimpeded inspections, even when threatened with serious consequences, means either that they exist or he is the dumbest dictator to ever breathe on this planet. In either case that made him a loose cannon to dangerous to be left in power. Thus he is no longer in power.
    The US still plans to abide by international law, but will no longer allow the interpretation of that law be made by nations who are opposed to the US. Thus, when 1441 called for “serious consequences” and we began massing troops at Iraqs border, the intent was clear. The willful defiance of the Axis of Weasels has been clearly shown to be aimed at covering up their underhanded dealings with Saddam’s regime, rather than protecting the peace. To put it bluntly, they were aiding the regime that was aiding the organization that flew planes into American buildings. “International law” will not be used as a cover for attacks on the United States. There was no desire here to impose a Pax Americana on the world, but if thats what it takes to protect us from the intrigues of France, Germany, Russia, and others, than thats what will happen. Their mistake was in assuming the United States would allow these laws to be used as a suicide pact.

  • Catherine

    Babul – We have always lived by our rules. That’s what we were founded on. Being beholden to none. Sorry you’re scared. If you want a hug, or some choclate, let me know. :) You’re silly. We have no desire for an Empire like the Europeans, Japanese, Soviets,Chinese, et al. Never have, never will. So take you’re thumb out of your mouth and relax.
    As far as the oft repeated theory that Saddam wasn’t a threat because he folded so quickly, I think the fact that he was either a)killed or b) seriously injured is the reason. Everything came from the top in that dictatorship and those below him were aimless or unwilling without him. None of their brand new Russian and Chinese equipment was even used. The mines on the bridges weren’t detonated. I think if we didn’t hit Saddam that first night, things might have gone a little differently IMHO.

  • Balbulican

    John, you’re not addressing the central point. What is the meaning of international law if one nation decides that it retains the right to interpret and enforce it unilaterally…and has the muscle to do it?
    Catherine, I’ll take the eclairs, but not the contempt, thanks.

  • Richard Aubrey

    Babulican, you don’t understand international law. Or you don’t understand the way it’s supposed to work.
    Among other things, it is not designed to force a nation to make itself vulnerable to its enemies.
    Additionally, the planted axiom in any discussion of international law is that, in a dispute between two parties, the rest of the nations (international law) are more or less neutral, or are operating from various well-accepted principles of equity.
    In the situation at hand, a good many of the nations, especially those in the Security Council, were not neutral, but were actively seeking to keep us from what we considered a defensive measure, and aiding a brutal dictator.
    Somebody had an interesting view of the US idea of international law:
    If you have neat stuff, we’d like to buy it.
    If you have money, we’d like to sell you neat stuff.
    If you attack us, we kill you.
    I hope you don’t have a problem with that.
    I figure that things would be better when the mere thought of messing with the US acts on the thinker like a great, big glass of Mexican tap water, only faster.
    Everybody will be safer.
    We’ll be safer because nobody will mess with us.
    The people who would have messed with us will be safer, because they’ll take up bowling or something.
    You’ll be safer because you won’t be inadvertently splashed by some slopover from our response to being messed with.
    Win, win, win.
    We are willing to go along with international law as long as it doesn’t put us in jeopardy. No other nation would willingly put itself in jeopardy because some clowns are trying to manipulate them through tortured interpretations of international law.
    International law, you know, didn’t inconvenience Saddaam, did it?
    What did?
    From which we conclude that international law might not be all that wonderful.

  • http://spleenville.com/ Andrea Harris

    I don’t think you’re going to get through Balbulican’s fog of fear. I’m sure that if his country, wherever that is, was in our shoes, he’d be just as afraid, instead of confidently telling everyone that there was nothing to fear from his nation.

  • Charlie

    Jimmy, Tom Friedman’s not a hypocrite at all; he changed his mind and he has admitted he was wrong. That’s to be admired.

  • Balbulican

    Guys, you have mastered the art of rationalizing your own position to your own satisfaction. Great. But there’s a world out here with other people in it, many of whom are NOT hostile to the US, who hold the US in some esteem, but who don’t particularly want you policing the planet unchecked. The responses to that observation here and in other threads have ranged from contempt to anger that anyone would dare question your right to do whatever you want…so be it. This is clearly not a thought that many are willing to entertain.
    Richard, if I read you correctly, you’re agreeing with me that the US no longer has any use for international law and will not be bound by it. Am I misreading you?
    Andrea…dispel my “fog of fear” by expplaining to me where I’m wrong.

  • Steve

    I think we’d be less inclined to police the world if the rest of the world would, you know, do some policing of its own.
    But for a lot of politicians in the world out there with other people in it, the easiest way to keep hold of the reins is to rile up the rabble and then blame the Americans/Jews for any dire consequences that ensue.
    It’s a very simple thing to point at the ignorant, gauche American bullies and ascribe to them all manner of motivations (but never ever acknowledge the right to protect itself). It’s quite another for a so-called leader to look in the mirror and ask “Have my actions – or inactions – made the world a safer or more dangerous place?”. I would suggest that politicians like Jacques Chirac, Gerhard Schroeder, George Galloway, Vladimir Putin, et al., don’t regularly engage in such reflection. Ah, but of course, they are enlightened Europeans, unlike that dumbass Jesus freak George Dubya Bush, right?
    I’m sorry you’re nervous, but honestly, Balbulican, do you think we have exhibited some sort of bottomless lack of restraint here? If we were as ruthless and unhinged as a great many people think we are, the middle east would be a gigantic glass parking lot right now. I don’t write that with any sort of testosterone-soaked bravado or barely-concealed menace. It’s just simply true.
    But it’s not. If anything, it’s a BETTER place than it was six months ago. At the very least, there’s potential now where there was none just a few weeks past.
    Personally, for me, it was never about WMD. It was about the fact that Saddam Hussein was evil, and his evil seemed to have no bounds. WMD, flouting international law, sponsorship of terrorism, all of those activities were symptoms of the the disease, and it’s going to take a long time for his former thralls to recover, if in fact they can. I think they should have the right to try.

  • John Irving

    Balbulican, your error(s) have been pointed out many timnes, at great length, in minute detail. The US has no wish to “police the world unchecked,” but no one else is doing the job, they are either promoting fascism and terrorism, and hiding behind rhetoric or looking directly to the United States to provide leadership. The fact that you remain unconvinced is a flaw in yourself and your viewpoint, not in the United States, our stance on international law, or our methods in dealing with our adversaries.

  • Pyecraft

    Its difficult to see how they’re better off Steve
    except for the obvious. But being rid of Saddam is only a temporary relief, before his replacement brings something potentially worse.
    I oppose Bush’s every thought, bar this one. Bush boiled the Iraqi pot down until it became a clearer choice of good versus evil. He, or his puppeteers were brave enough to brush aside the deliberate muddying of international politicians and now any rational human being can see for themselves the evidence of weasel doings in Iraq.
    That the fudge button no longer works, is a sobering reality for potential enemies, no matter what excuse was used to prove it.

  • Balbulican

    Thanks for the clarification, John. Enjoy the illusion that the world is looking to you for leadership…whatever gets you through the night, I guess.

  • Richard Aubrey

    If we don’t police the world, nobody does. Now, you can always say the international system, like the UN, will do it, but that means the US because, with minor exceptions, we’re the only country which can get a brigade across a river, not to mention an ocean.
    Even tied up by the UN, they need us for their hammer.
    So, as I say, it’s us or nobody.
    Your choice?
    Yeah, if international law threatens us, we don’t bother with it.
    It should not be an insupportable burden on any country or group of people to choose not to attack us. I’m sorry if it annoys them, but life has other joys and they should try to bear up. In the long run, they’ll be glad they did.

  • John Irving

    Wow, balbulican, you are excellent at misrepresenting what someone else has said. I stated that other nations were looking to us for leadership, patently true and provable, and hardly illusionary. You claim I stated the world was looking to us for leadership. Such a statement would have to be the product of your self-deluding attempts to justify your US phobia, since you couldn’t actually criticize anything I did say.
    Must be tough being a Weasel in the age of American influence. Get used to it. You’ll sleep better at night.

  • balbulican

    I sleep fine, John, thanks.
    If I might impose on your kind patience for just a bit more instruction on the new doctrine….
    Does this new approach to international relations…you know, the notion that, as Richard put it so well, “if international law threatens us, we don’t bother with it”…does this apply equally to other countries? Or just the US?

  • John Irving

    No, Balbulican, it does not apply equally to other countries. The United States has spent the better part of a century trying to establish peace in the world. We are attempting to repair the damage centuries of European colonialism has inflicted. Our goal is the spread of human rights and democracy. We have proven our honor and our restraint many times, whereas so many other nations fail to meet this standard.
    So you say you do sleep well. I guess the United States doesn’t mean as much a threat to you or your country (whichever one it is) as you claim. It’s even possible, though you probably don’t realize it, that you sleep so well because the United States will act in your defense, regardless of political differences, and at our own cost.
    Now please imagine for a minute what the world would look like if the Soviet Union had somehow won the Cold War. Considering your penchant for disagreement, you and your family would probably have already been “disappeared” under their rule. I’m sure they could have gained far more support from the UN, after all they did so many times during the Cold War.
    No, balbulican, all nations are not created equal.

  • Balbulican

    Good. I’m just trying to get it clear here, John, so you have to bear with me. Just to make sure I understand your view…are there ANY other countries whose moral excellence has won them the right, through their “honour” and “restraint”, to ignore international law , or is this the sole and exclusive right of the USA?

  • John Irving

    No other nation currently has the combination of strength and restraint that the United States possesses. There’s your answer, for the nth time.
    Since you have avoided the question multiple times, I will ask it straight out now. You use an alias and avoid the question, I am asking you directly. Where do you hold citizenship? What country do you hold residence and vote (if possible)? For you do not speak for the world any more than I do, but all I have claimed to speak for are those Americans who feel as I do.

  • Balbulican

    You haven’t been reading very carefully, John. I am Canadian, and have said so several times. Don’t mistake your inattention for my evasiveness.
    And thanks for being frank about what many commentators lack the hubris to state so openly.

  • John Irving

    Not once in this thread have you stated your nationality. I suspected you were Canadian, having thought it was brought up once quite some time ago, but considering the large number of comments Jeff gets on this blog, I was waiting for you to confirm it. Which you failed to do so multiple times, at the same time as you sidetracked from one major point. We did not violate international law. We followed it right down to the letter. Please point to the UN resolution indicating otherwise, but don’t strain yourself, as none exists.
    My confidence in my country is not hubris. I know where the US is flawed, but there are no other nations that come close to us in success at this time. If you feel that Canada would make a better world leader than the US, please feel free to make your case, but I hardly think it would be convincing. Or you can attempt to promote another nation to the job, and make the case for them, again unlikely to be convincing. But someone has to lead, the committee-style deliberations and intrigues of the UN have proven to fail time and again.

  • Richard Aubrey

    Bal still doesn’t get it.
    First, he ducks the question of who he’d prefer to be in our position if not us. We know exactly what his honest answer is, which is he likes the situation just fine as it is.
    Second, he keeps thinking that any nation would let itself be put in jeopardy because its enemies started going on about how international law required it.
    Some may not be able to avoid it, but they wouldn’t be willing, nor cheerful, about it.
    But, anyway, he thinks that our refusal to be hammered by some posse of maniacs is somehow threatening to international law. I think he knows better.
    Maybe he can tell us about the moral authority of the UN Human Rights lineup about now.
    If they said we have to shoot conservatives, or turn over Cuban-Americans to Fidel, would he think we should do it?
    I expect so.
    Does he think we would?
    Now, the Human Rights commission must represent international law.
    I see his point.
    We don’t turn over our Cuban-Americans to Cuba because Cuba and Syria and Libya and their ilk say we should, and we’re the bad guys.
    I think Bal ought to think a little more clearly about what, exactly, it means when international law is the consensus of the cannibal republics and when, for some reason, they’re coming for HIM.
    Is he going to object?
    And break international law?