Whose human rights?

Whose human rights?
: Human Rights Watch, self-declared protectors of humans and their rights, issues an appalling opinion saying that the ouster of Saddam Hussein was not a matter of human rights because not enough people were being murdered. How many is not enough, they don’t say.

The US and British governments cannot justify the Iraq war on humanitarian grounds, according to the annual report of Human Rights Watch published yesterday.

Kenneth Roth, executive director of the human rights organisation, said at the launch of its 407-page report in London: “The Bush administration cannot justify the war in Iraq as a humanitarian intervention, and neither can Tony Blair.

“Such interventions should be reserved for stopping an imminent or ongoing slaughter. They shouldn’t be used belatedly to address atrocities that were ignored in the past.”

Although Saddam was responsible for massacres, especially of the Kurds in 1988 and of Shia Muslims in 1991, Human Rights Watch said the killing had “ebbed” by the time of the invasion last year.

Mr Roth said: “We know summary executions occurred in Iraq up to the end of Saddam’s rule, as did other brutality. These should be met with diplomatic and economic pressure, and prosecution.

So by this horrid logic, if only Hitler or Amin or Stalin or pick your tyrant had stopped mass murders, they should be left in power. Cool. Murder to your heart’s content but as soon as the U.S. troops are at the border, stop and the world will be on your side.

In his own paper, Roth says:

The result is that at a time of renewed interest in humanitarian intervention, the Iraq war and the effort to justify it even in part in humanitarian terms risk giving humanitarian intervention a bad name. If that breeds cynicism about the use of military force for humanitarian purposes, it could be devastating for people in need of future rescue….

In our view, as a threshold matter, humanitarian intervention that occurs without the consent of the relevant government can be justified only in the face of ongoing or imminent genocide, or comparable mass slaughter or loss of life. To state the obvious, war is dangerous. In theory it can be surgical, but the reality is often highly destructive, with a risk of enormous bloodshed. Only large-scale murder, we believe, can justify the death, destruction, and disorder that so often are inherent in war and its aftermath. Other forms of tyranny are deplorable and worth working intensively to end, but they do not in our view rise to the level that would justify the extraordinary response of military force. Only mass slaughter might permit the deliberate taking of life involved in using military force for humanitarian purposes.

Oh, please, give us the chart that defines “mass.” Give us the color-code that says that rape rooms and executions and political prisons and utter repression are not worthy of intervention. Since you, sir, are the sold arbiter of what is mass murder versus just plain murder and what is humanitarian and what isn’t, please illuminate us.

This is a tainted political move by Human Rights Watch and it will color its credibility in the future. The organization would rather fight Bush than defend the human rights of the Iraqi people.

  • Michael Hall

    Yep, their credibility is harmed. No doubt about it.

  • http://www.ujournal.org/users/fd/ Firas

    Let’s tick em off, shall we:
    -> EU had financial interests in Saddam Hussein’s preservation,
    -> The UN (oh wait, that was vilified back in ’02)
    -> HRW has no credibility
    -> AP and Reuters etc. are all just anti-American whiners
    -> The NYT are liberal losers,
    -> etc, etc.
    It’s pretty funny how deep you guys can sink in your self-delusional mania.

  • http://www.dashes.com/anil/ Anil

    Jeff, why don’t you bash Bush more for the fact that he only came to see Iraq as a humanitarian battle after the left forced him to justify it on those grounds since his initial arguments were lies? Liberals deserve all the credit for there even *being* humanitarian concern for Iraqis, and you seem more interested in attacking the Left than pointing out the Right’s inexcusable moral failing in this area.

  • http://paulfrankenstein.org/ Frankenstein

    Funny, I don’t see you beating the drums for the invasion of North Korea, Zimbabawe, Congo, China, Burma, Indonesia, Syria, Libya, Algeria, Sudan, or Chad…
    C’mon, Jeff, where’s the outrage? Or is the outrage only reserved for countries that the United States invades?

  • burnplant

    And Jeff, don’t forget Uzbekistan. Islam Karimov is a tyrannical dictator who tortures and kills the people of Uzbekistan.
    And the US gave him 500m in aid last year(2002), despite his Saddam-like leanings.
    And oh yeah, his country is on a boatload of oil.
    But I don’t know if he has any “rape rooms”, because I think that is the tipping point for warbloggers, the “rape rooms”, so I’ll try and find out if they have any “rape rooms” for you and maybe you’ll post on it then.
    If they have “rape rooms”, I mean.

  • Daniel

    Um, ok folks, let’s see if I can understand your point of view on this…
    It’s a BAD THING that we have deposed a dictator who ran an oppressive police state that kept the populace in line via murder, torture, rape, and random violence?
    I know there is such a thing as crass cynicism, but when the only reaction to the liberation of millions of Iraqis, for some people, is to see it as an golden opportunity for political football…
    I don’t know what to say, other than this is a new low.

  • Doctor Slack

    Looks like the folks at HRW are sick of seeing humanitarianism pimped out to political agendas that appear to care nothing for it. Good for them.
    I don’t know what to say, other than this is a new low.
    Well, I can say that smarmy self-regard and disingenuous purple prose about the plight of the Iraqis is not a new low to find on a pro-war website. And it’s not getting any more convincing.
    The HRW report is crystal clear, put together by the same people who exposed Saddam’s worst crimes in the first place. Jarvis’ response to it strikes me as petty, carping and unserious. Who’s playing “political football” here?

  • Daniel

    Who’s playing “political football” here? The people who make remarks such as:
    …why don’t you bash Bush more…
    Funny, I don’t see you beating the drums for the invasion of North Korean, etc…
    …that is the tipping point for warbloggers, the “rape rooms”…
    THAT’S WHO
    Ok, listen up, supposed give-a-shit humanitarian liberals:
    The “rape rooms” and torture chambers and murdering brigades are not just cute, funny, little clever phrases for snide intellectuals to bandy about with disdain and condescention. They were a REALITY for millions of victims in Iraq. Why don’t you go to Iraq and make flippant remarks about “rape rooms” and see how many people laugh.
    George Bush, Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld, Tommy Franks, the United States Army, Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard along with the help of forces from Britain, Australia, Poland, and other nations LIBERATED 25 MILLION IRAQIS.
    Human rights groups did not do this. Nor the UN. Nor any other international organization. Nor any bleeding-heart pacifist protestor.
    Every single person who genuinely cares about the Iraqi people should be thrilled beyond measure that Saddam was toppled, and thankful to George Bush and the others mentioned above. It doesn’t even matter whether you think Bush did this for good reasons or evil reasons. The point is, it was done.
    Anyone who claims to have any real humanitarian concerns towards the Iraqis would not think it more important to bash Bush and the entire concept of the liberation than to celebrate the new life now available to the people of Iraq.
    In short, you folks are a fraud. You don’t give a damn about the Iraqis. Your words make that crystal clear.

  • Sortelli

    Is the assumption that because there are too many murdering despots in the world to handle at once that we are therefore guilty of equally heinous sin of favoritism by supporting the fall of one of them?
    I submit that there are too many crazy warblogs to troll and therefore none should be trolled. Besides, if you even annoy one of them off the web another will just pop up somewhere eventually.

  • maor

    “Funny, I don’t see you beating the drums for the invasion of North Korea, Zimbabawe, Congo, China, Burma, Indonesia, Syria, Libya, Algeria, Sudan, or Chad…”
    When the US DOES invade, you won’t be able to complain. You ASKED for it.

  • Hipocrite

    Stunning. Good job all around. Dictator deposed. Bravo.
    Now, about that reconstruction- Bush Adminstration: “We’re outta there!”

  • Sortelli

    Nah, the tape will flip to the “Empire!” side.

  • Sortelli

    Hipo: Pity there’s not more Democratic candidates who aren’t saying “We’re outta there faster“, or I might like more of them.

  • Leland

    I’ll grant this in my take of the debate. It is dubious to claim the US liberated Iraq purely for humanitarian reasons, when yet many other citizens of other nations could use the same liberation. However, if the US administration ever made that claim, then why is there any discussion about David Kay or imminent threat? Seems like this was one of many benefits for invading Iraq.
    Ok, I get HRW point on a few things. If the killing is stopped, potentially diplomatic pressure is working and should be followed through. I do wonder if they consider that if the killing is stopped, it could be that all dissidents have been terminated. The political part is obvious when they state:
    “The Bush administration cannot justify the war in Iraq as a humanitarian intervention, and neither can Tony Blair.”
    They would do better to stick to the philosophy of what they think is right and wrong.

  • Erik

    The HRW report is crystal clear, put together by the same people who exposed Saddam’s worst crimes in the first place.
    What I find interesting is how an organisation can first “expose his worst crimes”, and then turn around and oppose the removal of said criminal.
    Is the HRW only interested in score keeping for all the worlds dictators? Kind of like: “Hey, Mugabe, you’re 675.000 victims short, get to work now, or you wont be in our next report…”
    Either they believe the crimes they expose are actually bad, and something should be done about them, or they dont care about the victims at all, and prefer to critizise anyone who actually acts on their reports.
    Obviously, in the case of Iraq, they dont believe “the worst crimes” they “exposed” were serious enough to warrant any action. That speaks volumes about what they think about Human Rights.

  • Hipocrite

    Without refrence to any minor candidates, exactly what did Edwards, Kerry or Clark say that leads you to believe they would exit Iraq quicker than the adminstration, Sort? Here’, I’ll get you started:
    Here are the quotes I see:
    Dean:
    A democratic transition will take between 18 to 24 months, although troops should expect to be in Iraq for a longer period.
    Edwards:
    Create a NATO-led multinational peacekeeping force to ensure that the Iraqi people live in a place that is safe and secure.
    Ensure that the Iraqi people – not some puppet government – shape the nation’s future under a government that reflects the nation’s diversity.
    Bush:
    June 30.

  • David

    Some believe that dentists favor of tooth decay, police want more crime, exterminators appreciate termites, etc.. The things they fight are necessary to keep them in business.
    Maybe HRW is worried that Bush’s overthrow of despots will fulfill their alleged purpose, making them unnecessary.

  • Susan

    I agree with David’s comment that “HRW is worried that Bush’s overthrow of despots will fulfil their alleged purpose, making them unnecessary.”
    HRW and the United Nations for that matter, are doing absolutely nothing regarding the imminent threat of mass starvation of 1.2 million North Koreans. How humanitarian of these so-called “humanitarians.” Their policy is to provide funding to the dictators and tyrants around the world so that they can continue their business of bogus humanitarian efforts. Rather than helping to end tyranny, HRW likes to keep the oppressed alive long enough so that they can justify their existance.

  • Hipocrite

    Susan alleges that Human Rights Watch says nothing about North Korea. She neglects to mention that Human Rights Watch does actually say a great deal about North Korea:
    http://www.hrw.org/doc?t=asia&c=nkorea
    Susan alleges that Human Rights Watch funds dictators. She neglects to mention that Human Rights Watch doesn’t fund dictators.
    http://www.hrw.org/donations//finance.htm

  • Moira

    I think Jeff is being generous when he describes this as a ‘new low’. The comments in this section are disgusting. These were real people suffering in Iraq and regardless of who helped to free them there is no denying they are better off now. Should it have been done sooner? Sure, why didn’t the UN and the EU push for it? Why aren’t they fighting for Iran? North Korea probably has nuclear capability thanks to the diplomatic efforts of the previous administration. Too bad we didn’t invade first, huh? Get a grip people! Think about what you’re saying.

  • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

    Anil: I have said from the beginning that Bush was wrong to make WMD the raison d’etre of the war.

  • Sandy P.

    So, HRW will now decide what is “imminent genocide?”
    We don’t have to do NK, it’s a waiting game. Do we have to take out every other petty tyrant? No. We just have to make an example of certain ones. Gaddafi got the message and in doing so, exposed the nuclear black market which our and other intel agencies had NO CLUE (surprise meter unfortunately 0.00) as to how sophisticated it
    was. This is a tremendous benefit to the world.
    Hussein was the largest money-launderer in the world and he was more of a threat than even Kay thought.
    By some people’s rationalizing here, because all don’t have education or health care, none should be provided. Just like raising children, we must pick our battles carefully.
    There’s going to come a time when those who do not want war for them to state which of their inalienable and ennumerated rights they are willing to give up for peace. And make their case to the rest of us. It is not worth giving up one’s rights, history has shown that. And you’re not selling mine down the river for a utopia which will never come. I do not choose to live in their version of the world. Well, unless I’m an educated elitest w/loads of money and don’t have to associate w/the great unwashed masses.

  • http://tomgrey.motime.com Tom Grey

    It is GOOD for Human Rights Watch to document the abuses they document; in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in No. Korea — everywhere HR violations occur.
    It was GOOD that Bush booted Saddam, using war, to do so.
    It would have been BETTER if Bush had got the UN to agree on enforcement (like Congo, Liberia & Ivory Coast, mentioned by Roth); it would have been MUCH BETTER if diplomatic pressure had caused Iraq to follow the USSRs example and implode.
    In the view of HRW, people who are so passionately in favor of human rights that they dedicate a good part of their lives to it, many, if not most, of whom are pacifists: “Only large-scale murder, we believe, can justify the death, destruction, and disorder that so often are inherent in war “.
    Jeff doesn’t quote it, but Roth is good on two other issues: “we are aware of, but reject, the argument that humanitarian intervention cannot be justified if other equally or more needy places are ignored … [we reject] the argument that past U.S. complicity in Iraqi repression should preclude U.S. intervention in Iraq on humanitarian grounds…Washington deemed it more important to defeat Iran or avoid Iranian influence in a potentially destabilized Iraq than to discourage or prevent large-scale slaughter. We condemn such calculations.”
    Well, they’re VERY entitled to their, neo-pacifist opinions. What they’re afraid of is the risk of “giving humanitarian intervention a bad name”. They are NOT afraid of, enough, is continued HR violations.
    But I am. I am afraid, and I want regime change in all bad countries. Each of the 45, er, 44, er 43 (don’t have a list, but x Afghan, x Iraq) HR violating dictatorships on Earth should be expecting regime change. Through HRW approved “intensive work”, or more forceful & effective methods, like war. I believe in the US Dec’l of Independence, and the duty to rise up, when practical, and throw off bad, non-democratic rulers.
    OK, so China ain’t now, ain’t never gonna be invaded or bombed (unless they bomb Taiwan/ Japan/ So. Korea first) — and no country or group of countries can free the Chinese people. OK; that’s reality. Maybe with free trade, and business folk getting richer, and getting richer faster with rule of law instead of rule by “party”, the Chinese can evolve. I hope; and even expect them to become as much of a democracy as Russia is, today. And China is the key to the No. Korea solution — perhaps when So. Korea asks for their own nukes for protection? Or Japan?
    Iran & Syria are already targets of intense work; perhaps soon, perhaps next Dec., one or the other will see more forceful regime change. And that will be good, too.
    A World Without Dictators. In my lifetime. And then the HRW folks will be even less relevant.

  • Richard Cook

    To many of the poster the suffering of hundreds of thousands of Iraqs is nothing more than points to be used on some kind of political tote board. These people where quiet as mice when the slaughter was going on, now that someone did something here they come out of the woodwork. All they can do is utter trite phrases “Bush lied” or “why didn’t you invade North Korea?” These folks are pretty sickening, using the suffering of others just to justify their own political resentment.

  • stubby

    If a Democratic president had toppled Saddam, under the same circumstances as Bush did (no UN approval, no France or Germany or Russia), even given the same shoddy (or nonexistent) post war planning and the same level of post invasion violence – we would not be hearing anywhere near this level of protest. The opposition to Iraqi liberation is 99% personal animosity to Bush.
    I voted for Clinton twice, and I was in support of the Kosovo action, even though it was not UN approved, even tho Milosevic was absolutely no threat to us, even though Kim Jong Il was a much worse tyrant, even though yada yada yada. It was the right thing to do, and so was Iraq. Of course, Kosovo was a European problem and Iraq wasn’t.
    Just because you can’t save everyone does not mean you shouldn’t save anyone. Arguments to the effect that Iraqi liberation was not of humanitarian benefit, or that their standard of living is worse now than under Saddam, or anything of that nature, are repellant and morally indefensible. Hussein kept toddlers in prison, and Scott Ritter saw those prisons and refused to talk about them because he was more interested in “waging peace,” and that’s the depths to which some people on the left have sunk. Screw Human Rights Watch.
    The Civil War was not waged to free slaves, but I don’t think anyone would argue that the end of slavery wasn’t worth the blood. We didn’t fight Germany in order to free the concentration camps either.
    And yes, I know NK is going through as much, or much worse, than Iraq suffered. The difference is that millions of South Koreans would be obliterated in a matter of hours, which does make a military solution to North Korea a bit more problematic than Iraq.

  • Hipocrite

    Did you just imply a cost-benefit analysis, stubby? If so, you are objectivly pro-Saddam and you hate America. That’s what the response to anyone who questions if the war was actually worth it is.
    Oh, and stubby? I forgot – exactly how many americans died in both former-Yugoslavian conflicts? What was the dollar cost of our activities over there? What was it that the Republicans said Clinton was doing? It was something about dogs, and wagging. Perhaps you could explain to us the genesis of your comment “we would not be hearing anywhere near this level of protest.” Lets go back to some missle attacks in Sudan? These quotes must have come from crazies, and certainly not Senate Republicans, right? Right? I mean, those high minded Republican would NEVER, and I mean NEVER protest at “this” level, right? Right?
    “There’s an obvious issue that will be raised internationally as to whether there is any diversionary motivation.”
    “president has been consumed with matters regarding his personal life. It raises questions about whether or not he had the time to devote to this issue, or give the kind of judgment that needed to be given to this issue to call for military action.”

  • Doctor Slack

    What I find interesting is how an organisation can first “expose his worst crimes”, and then turn around and oppose the removal of said criminal.
    If they’re an organization that knows something about the uncertainties inherent in violent conflict, and for whom the phrase “war is bad” is not just passing lip-service on the way to shilling for war, it’s perfectly sensible. Look, people, at a low estimate some 20,000 Iraqis (9,000 of them civilians) have died thus far. The litmus test of your “humanitarianism” is this: do the Iraqis think it’s all worth it? Will you support and learn from their opinions even if those clash with your certainty that The War Must Be Right?
    The question isn’t entirely facetious. Even now, there are demonstrably Iraqis who do think it was worth it, though probably not the same ones who have lost friends or family. The outcome may eventually vindicate Bush’s intentions, if not his methods. But many have mixed feelings (to put it mildly), and they have mixed feelings for a reason, and it’s time to start admitting to yourselves what those reasons might be. It’s time to start actually listening to the people you claimed to be “supporting.”
    You’re not going to be able to do that while you’re swathing yourself in dishonest “I care more about HR than you damned liberals” sentiments. That kind of thing is about staying in your bubble, not about seeing the realities. Frankly, for my money, HRW has more credibility on the reality score than any ten of the pro-wars who think the argument ends at “Saddam was bad.”
    Jeff has mentioned before that he thinks the decision to support war was “morally complex.” From him, and from many of his commenters, I simply don’t think that’s true. What I’ve seen on display here time and again, and what’s abundantly on display in this thread, is self-righteousness, unserious disregard of the kinds of serious concerns HRW raises, and profound intolerance of moral complexity. And it’s time for it to stop.

  • http://duckseason.blogspot.com Hei Lun Chan

    And Jeff, don’t forget Uzbekistan. Islam Karimov is a tyrannical dictator who tortures and kills the people of Uzbekistan.
    And the US gave him 500m in aid last year(2002), despite his Saddam-like leanings.
    And oh yeah, his country is on a boatload of oil.

    So should we invade or not invade countries with oil? Because it seems either way you people are still going to complain.

  • http://duckseason.blogspot.com Hei Lun Chan

    Oops, the second and third paragraphs in the last post should be italicized too, since someone else wrote it.

  • Daniel

    What I’ve seen on display here time and again, and what’s abundantly on display in this thread, is self-righteousness, unserious disregard of the kinds of serious concerns HRW raises, and profound intolerance of moral complexity. And it’s time for it to stop.

    intolerance of moral complexity???
    HRW is condemning the LIBERATION OF 25 MILLION PEOPLE from a murderous dictatorship. That’s not morally complex, that’s morally BANKRUPT.

  • Doctor Slack

    That’s not morally complex, that’s morally BANKRUPT.
    See what I mean?
    HRW is unconcerned with whether “liberation” has taken place, and that’s not the point of their report, but there’s disagreement among observers and Iraqis themselves about this. A more honest assessment is probably that the repressive state of Saddam Hussein has been replaced by a less actively repressive, but more chaotic, occupation. Uh oh, though, moral complexity — if you don’t actually want to think through the implications of that you will no doubt be issuing FURTHER DENUNCIATIONS IN ALL CAPS. But that’s your problem.

  • stubby

    Hip:
    Calm down and wipe the spit off your screen.
    Actually, I did not imply or apply a cost benefit analysis to either war – I supported both. And I don’t care that some Republicans behaved like assholes during the Kosovo action – which I supported – and no where did I mention wagging the dog, and I don’t care if some Republicans accused Clinton of it, and nowhere did I even criticize Clinton – and, by the way, I thought that mentioning “I voted for Clinton twice” might have tipped you off that I’m not a Republican and – what exactly was your point? And do you ever read before you rant?

  • Patience

    By all the evidence available, Saddam Hussein was effectively contained, and by 2003 his armed forces would have been unable to commit the type of large-scale atrocities committed against the Kurds during the Iran-Iraq war and following the Gulf War. Though Saddam’s regime continued to commit all sorts of abuses against Iraqi citizens it is hard to see how his regime was worse than any of those modern torturers named above (Karimov, Burma’s SLORC, etc.). I think that while HRW would certainly have preferred seeing Saddam Hussein picked up in the middle of the night and hustled off to a war crimes tribunal in The Hague, ca. 1998, on balance they believed that the status quo– a contained Saddam unable to commit further atrocities– was better than the alternative– i.e., an Iraq split by ethnic and sectarian violence. Not the best of all possible worlds, certainly, but better. It seems clear that the ethnic groups of Iraq have no intention nor desire to share power equitably amongst themselves, and meanwhile the Bush administration is looking for an exit strategy. Thus, who knows that we aren’t going to see further atrocities once the American presence is withdrawn. With all this in mind, the folks at HRW might be guilty of ruthless pragmatism, but they’re hardly torturer-coddlers.
    Again, the fact that in some cases the very same people who supported Saddam Hussein during the worst of his human rights abuses (viz., Donald Rumsfeld) are those now claiming that the invasion of Iraq sprung from the purest of motives– without, most important of all, acknowledging their role in creating the monster that terrorized Baghdad– only enhances one’s skepticism about the Bush administration’s motives.
    http://www.thenewamerican.com/tna/1998/vo14no07/vo14no07_arming.htm

  • Susan

    The United States is reconsidering it’s monetary aid to Uzbekistan because that dictator violates human rights.
    The United States has also ended it’s monetary aid to North Korea.
    Actions speak louder than words.

  • http://www.hfienberg.com/kesher/ Yehudit

    Thank you, Susan – I was going to post that. The State Dept wants to suspend US aid to Uzbekistan.
    “It seems clear that the ethnic groups of Iraq have no intention nor desire to share power equitably amongst themselves, and meanwhile the Bush administration is looking for an exit strategy.”
    I don’t know where you get this. There is just as much evidence that Iraqis are trying to figure out how to share power, and the Bush admin seems committed to stay and see that fair elections and transfer of powers are carried out. Even after they transition to Iraqi elected govt. they are going to stick around, last I heard (from Rumsfeld).
    Meanwhile, poll after poll shows the Iraqis are very glad Saddam was deposed. Sure, they have mixed feelings about the American occupation, but many of them are favorable towards it. I see the pro-war bloggers presenting actual Iraqi voices and anecdotes about US interactions with Iraqis – in all its complexity – far more often than I see the same on antiwar sites.
    “Thus, who knows that we aren’t going to see further atrocities once the American presence is withdrawn.”
    And that’s why we’re staying for awhile.
    “the very same people who supported Saddam Hussein during the worst of his human rights abuses (viz., Donald Rumsfeld)”
    example?
    “acknowledging their role in creating the monster that terrorized Baghdad”
    France, Germany, and Russia all gave far more aid, comfort, and weapons to Saddam for most of his reign than the US. This has been documented time and again. I have a hard time giving any credibility to someone who recycles this discredited falsehood.

  • Doctor Slack

    The State Dept wants to suspend US aid to Uzbekistan.
    If that’s actually true, then great. Hopefully the State Department prevails this time around; that would be a refreshing change of pace.
    France, Germany, and Russia all gave far more aid, comfort, and weapons to Saddam for most of his reign than the US
    U.S. support for Saddam consisted mostly of intelligence, economic aid and subsidies and pathogens for his bioweapons programmes. These are no less important than the conventional weapons he acquired through other channels, so America did indeed play a pretty key role in making the monster that was Baghdad (though I’d stop short of arguing that Saddam’s regime was “made in the U.S.A.” as some have done).

  • http://tomgrey.motime.com Tom Grey

    HRW wants a very specific set of reasons before endorsing “humanitarian considerations” as a justification for “war”. Of course, I don’t think Congress has yet “declared War” on Iraq, so there’s a sense that the US is not, and was not, “at war” — but we all accept that sending in the Marines means we’re at war, with or with a UN or a US Congress “permission slip”. (Am I offending everybody?)
    HRW also wants inhumane regimes to change without war, so do I. But I’m willing to support war, against inhumane regimes, even if they are not actively perpetrating mass murder in the last 24 hours, or 24 days, or 24 months. Jeff is right to ask HRW for their standard — how many have to be killed in how many time units for HRW to accept it?
    [BTW, Stubby, I put 1% of the 18-45 year olds killed as being “too expensive” for any good other than defense. The Confederates were justified in defending themselves at their level of casualties; ending slavery was VERY GOOD, but TOO EXPENSIVE by the North. Once started, though, Lincoln could not stop without it being a severe loss. Note that Brazil ended slavery in 1886 or so, without a civil war. Containing the South was a reasonable alternative to consider, but almost certain to lead to electoral defeat.]
    HRW also wants the UN SC to be a world gov’t, world policeman. But it’s not, either. And, with dictators, doesn’t deserve to be. Jeff seems mostly right that HRW is trying to take away “humanitarian” reasons for Bush’s war. This is anti-Bush bullpucky, unless and until they quantify QUITE a bit more than they’re willing to do, so far. Honesty. Transparency. Accountability — applies to anti-war folk, too.

  • Trump

    How disgusting. Is it so hard for certain people to say that something good was accomplished, and leave it at that? So we went to war over WMD and were wrong. What is the result? A DESPOT REMOVED, A PEOPLE FREED. The horror! The absolute sheer horror of it! You want the truth? It’s a win/win circumstance. I only hope that we take down Syria and Iran this way. The middle east is a fever swamp, and the best way to win the war on terror is to drain it.
    So to anyone arguing against Iraq, you’re just doing it because you dislike the President. PERIOD. You have no morals, no intellectual reasons. You simply hate the President. Because otherwise you’d have to be a human being and admit that something good happened here. Something that will benefit not just us but the Iraqis and hopefully a whole region.
    PERIOD.

  • Trump

    so America did indeed play a pretty key role in making the monster that was Baghdad (though I’d stop short of arguing that Saddam’s regime was “made in the U.S.A.” as some have done).

    Doctor Slack- SO WHAT?
    If your arguement is that we shouldn’t clean up the mess we created decades ago, come out and say it. Otherwise this is nt relevant to the discussion of recent events….

  • Doctor Slack

    Jeff is right to ask HRW for their standard — how many have to be killed in how many time units for HRW to accept it?
    And conversely, how many deaths and how much destruction and destabilization makes a war unacceptable? Three thousand deaths on 911 is, we’re justly reminded by those who saw and survived the attacks, an epoch-making tragedy. Why aren’t 8,000 Afghan deaths, or 20,000 Iraqi deaths?
    And of course, the question goes beyond ghoulish calculations of “rate of death.” What about the horrible suffering that goes on daily under totalitarian regimes? What about the different but potentially just as horrible suffering entailed by sustained conflicts, including insurgencies and civil wars? How do you weigh those things?
    HRW is pretty clear that there has to be some compelling reason to believe that an invasion will kill fewer than it saves and improve the lives of those remaining to be justifiable as a humanitarian action. That’s all that is currently left to the Iraq War with the twin failures of the WMD and terrorism link arguments (which I also found to be the two most plausible arguments).
    HRW also wants the UN SC to be a world gov’t, world policeman.
    If you read the report, how do you square HRW’s critique of the Security Council with this sentence?

  • Doctor Slack

    Doctor Slack- SO WHAT?
    Yeah, you’re going to actually have to read the foregoing arguments in the thread there, sparky. I’m not going to repeat it for you.

  • Doctor Slack

    So to anyone arguing against Iraq, you’re just doing it because you dislike the President. PERIOD.
    Yep, no self-righteousness here at all. Good to see the responsible, ethical side of the pro-war movement on display. Well done, Trump. Curious though, did the last ten people you threw that garbage at seem to care?

  • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

    Oh, Slack, quite obviously any deaths in tyranny or in war are unacceptable. No wants either, of course, don’t you see? That is what is so offensive about HRW’s baldly political move here: It now finds some level of death accceptable.

  • Doctor Slack

    Your remark confuses me. You obviously find some level of death in war acceptable, do you not? Or to put it a better way, less unacceptable than the alternative. Are you really accusing HRW of seeing death as a good thing rather than weighing various bad options, just as you’re doing?