Political Lomcevak (Tumbling the Liberal Mindset)
Thursday, March 20, 2003
i·ro·ny Definition: Incongruity between what might be expected and what actually occurs or An occurrence, result, or circumstance notable for such incongruity.
Example? The Oscars.
National LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The state of California on Thursday assigned a National Guard unit to protect the Oscars, but at least one prominent star withdrew from the ceremonies, saying now was not the time to celebrate.
So the celebrities get their own Guard Unit, isn't that special? Those Guard units must be thrilled.
Actor Will Smith pulled out of Sunday's scheduled Oscars show while other stars announced plans to wear peace sign pins, doves and even duct tape to protest the war in Iraq.
Hmmmm, I wonder if he is pulling out in support or against? Anyone? At least he is not one of the assholes that is going to be there with duct tape on them. I don't suppose it would be to much to ask them to place said tape over their mouths. Maybe the National Guard will volunteer.
The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences said on Thursday it was still planning to go ahead, for now, with the ceremony -- minus the glitzy red carpet -- but a final decision was not expected before Friday.
Cowards. You idiots are cowards. The rest of the world gets to go about our daily lives, and you people cower. Now, don't get me wrong. The whole red carpet Oscars thing makes me sick to my stomach, although I do admit to watching Joan Rivers rip some of them up. However, I would be plenty okay if we cancelled the whole shallow, vapid, insipid and moronic enterprise.
Meanwhile, California authorities said that they would station a National Guard unit at the ceremonies, equipped with a mobile testing laboratory that could quickly detect any chemical or biological threat.
I hope the equipment is not spoofed by silicon. And yes, many of those stars are biological threats, as they tend to frequently spread contaminated genetic code. The Sheen's, for example.
"I can say the Academy Awards will be as safe and secure as any awards ceremony ever held," California Gov. Gray Davis said in announcing the security measures at a press conference.
Oh, Gray Davis has given his word. I would take that all the way to the bank. I believe everything that Gray Davis says, since I know that man is incapable of lying. Never has, never will. Yeah, right. Word of advice to the out of towners. Native Californians trust this guy so much, they are recalling his ass. And there is talk they will pull it off too.
He said having the National Guard unit and testing facility at the Oscars would mean that the ceremonies would not be interrupted if threats were made against its stars.
"The value to the Los Angeles Police Department is that the lab can get results within 30 minutes," he said.
Right. This would be the same LA Police Department, that handled the OJ case. If your life depended on the correct result, which police department would you go to first? which one would be last? Okay, after the SFPD, the worst is the LAPD
Smith, star of "Men in Black," was scheduled to present an award at the show. He withdrew before the U.S. bombing campaign in Iraq got underway in earnest on Thursday.
"He felt uncomfortable in attending and respectfully asked to be excused. There's no agenda, there's no speeches. He just didn't feel personally comfortable in going because of the world situation," said his publicist, Stan Rosenfield.
Okay, I can respect that.
Finnish director Aki Kaurismaki, who is nominated for a best foreign language film Oscar for "The Man Without a Past," said he would stay home in a protest against the war in Iraq.
Well, holy shit, shake a snowglobe and call it Finland, better call if the Oscars Aki Kaiudoai3briasdg is not going to be able to make it. You know, Aki Kasopiusbew, the famous Finnish Director. Yes, Finland. It's one of the Scandanavian countries. Yes, next to Sweden. What other films does this director have? You know I have no idea. I thought it was porn. The Finns are famous for their porn. Oh, wait, thats the Swedes. Never mind, on with the show.
Artists United to Win Without War -- a group of more than 130 celebrities who have campaigned against war -- has produced a special peace pin for the event. Artists including Dustin Hoffman, Julianne Moore, Jim Carrey, Ben Affleck, Michael Moore and Kirsten Dunst have agreed to wear it on awards night.
My problem, very shortly, will be that I will be completely unable to go see any movies. Alec Baldwin screwed me out of Hunt for Red October, and I have not been the same since. Dustin hasn't done a movie in years, so who cares, and I would sooner have unsedated root canal surgery then be subjected to a Moore film. However, what is really interesting is the name.
Artist's United to Win Without War. Firstly, what you do is not art. Possibly, possibly the directors, but you are actors. You act. That is not art. Calling it art is pretentious bullshit. And you are not United. Unless you exclude Dennis Miller (always liked the guy), James Woods, Kid Rock, and Rob Lowe (admittedly on the decline). Hell, Van Damme called the leftists the "Axis of Ignorance", and that is his best line ever.
Lastly, how does one win without war? Or is this just one of those glorious non-sequiturs that Hollywood, and leftists in general are so fond of. It sounds pithy and catchy, but it is devoid of meaning. Like the one all over my law school. "Preemptive War is Terrorism." No its not. That statement is meaningless. Your movement is meaningless.
Others plan to wear a peace dove or a piece of duct tape on their gowns or tuxedos.
Duct tape has become a tongue-in-cheek symbol of protest, after ridicule greeted government advice to buy it along with plastic sheeting to set up temporary safe rooms in case of chemical or biological attack.
"People are looking to express in a dignified way their feelings and emotions," producer Robert Greenwald, founder of Artists United, told Reuters.
Ummmm, I never thought I would see the day when duct tape was used as a symbol of protest. I am however, gratified that the stars are being introduced to this stuff. I was horrified to hear that there was such a run on this stuff. Look, if you do not have a roll of duct tape in your house at all times, you are either unaware of how great the stuff is, or you are not an American. However, I will admit that Duct tape is not dignified.
Oscar organizers said they decided to cut out the traditional red carpet -- where stars parade their opinions along with their gowns -- because several celebrities had expressed unease about that part of the show at the start of a major war.
Awwwwwww. Unease. I am sure that the soldiers currently depolyed in Iraq feel your pain. We have soldiers facing combat. Sixteen faced a terrifying death in a crashing helicopter, and you pompous irritating wastes of oxygen are worried about the risks of walking down a red carpet with the National Guard in attendence.
They denied reports that winners had been told to keep their political opinions to themselves in their speeches during the show itself, although organizers said they expected presenters to stick to the script.
I say let them spout off. I want to know who the enemy is. I want to watch each presenter "Dixie Chick" thier career.
Greenwald said he was unaware of any mass move by stars to boycott the ceremony, if it goes ahead. He said celebrities, like other Americans, were struggling to find a balance between life as usual and their personal response to the war.
Oh no. You want to boycott the Oscars. Give me a freaking break. Only the dementedly self obsessed would think that boycotting the Oscars would have any affect whatsoever on anything, anywhere. Yes, go away, and show us all what we would be missing.
"The Oscars epitomize that. It is a heightened version of regular life. The question of what people think they should do or not do around the Oscars are symbolic of a series of questions that people are struggling with as to what they are going to be doing in their lives around the war," he said.
Okay, lets take this from the top. If you are looking to top off the meaning reservoir in your life and you go to the Oscar ceremony for that, then you are a LOSER. Look. Can anyone explain to me why we put up with this crap from these people. Lets all agree that we as a American people, are going to refuse to partake of any Hollywood product for three months. We can call it Americans United for Waking Up Asshole "Artists" (AUFWUAA).
The Irony of the whole situation is that we have these "artists" being protected by the exact people that they are protesting. Yes, I know, some of them will argue that they are not protesting the troops, but we are in the battle. Everyone just shut up and pray. I can only imagine the feelings of these troops as they protect these morons.
"Look, there is Sean Penn, he's choking, I think, he has been gassed"
"Nah, he is fine, I think I can manage a shot on Ms. Crow"
"But she doesn't have any enemies"
I think Blaster has the best evidence that this was not Saddam after the strike. I am sure it is a double
Wednesday, March 19, 2003
Someone please find the Commander who is ordering his troops to remove flags, so that they will be seen as Liberators, not as Conquerors, and fire him now.
You think the French complained
And the Kuwaiti's
For the last freaking time, we not are colonialists, nor are we imperialists. People who spout this nonsense must not understand the American psyche. The American's would not stand for subjugating a people. Everytime some idiot in this country does something insensitive, we spend weeks fretting about it. While I am not foolish enough to believe that this action is solely for the benefit of the Iraqi people, to not see that it will have the effect of having a profound change on these peoples lives is to suffer from dementia.
I truly do not understand those who believe that somehow, we are morally equivilent to Saddam's regime. If you believe that you make me sick. It also informs me that you truly do not know the world. You are both ignorant and bereft of imagination.
Tomorrow, as our troops step to the call of the President, a whole bunch of spoiled, unwashed, unshaven, uncouth, and grammatically challenged youth will take to the campus to protest the war. They will not acknowledge the service the soldiers provide for them. They will carry signs intimating the GWB is morally equivilent to Saddam, and then the freaking professors will take the next class to help the demonstrators catch up on the lecture they have missed.
Does anyone wonder why Law School is driving me insane?
Faster, please, faster.
Tuesday, March 18, 2003
The South Koreans, who have lately been feeling their reality mugging, are on board.
""We have not yet decided on specifics, such as the dispatching of non-combat troops," national security adviser Ra Jong-yil told reporters. "But one thing that is clear is that we support what the United States is doing."
Oh, well, thanks, I think. Tell you what, we are going to only leave non-combat troops in your country too, since we are going to need those 37,000 troops in a few.
Actually I'm just joking, since South Korea is possibly the only nation in the world right now who has the right to say. "We's really like to send troops, however we have this problem for which we may need our troops for"
However, it is amazing how their tune has changed. "Oh those dead girls? Fuhrgetabooutiit. Oh the anti-Americanism? Temporary insanity brought on by the pressure of the nut in the North. We thank the good doctor Rumsfield for our lesson.
Possibly we have the first shots fired of Gulf War II
Blaster has an interesting take from a former military man, who faced the chemical and biological threat of the first Gulf War.
A very hard htting article in the Washington Post. I don't necessarily wholeheartedly support it, but there are hard questions asked by the author that we ignore at our peril.
At the conference I was at last week, the ATA (Air Transport Association, basically the Airline lobby group) folks were bleak about the impact of the war on the Airline industry. United, who is in the worst position might liquidate. Very bad news. American appears to be next. Now I am not for helping industries that cannot help themselves, but if this war drags on we need to take a close look at the damage done to this ailing industry.
Oh, and now the French are partially on board. They must be kidding.
Actually after a moment of thought, I have an idea. Possibly Chirac, or De Villepen can be sent to check the toxicity of any weapons used. We can place them ahead of any suspected activity.
Bad news, Chirac. You have badly lost the diplomatic battle. Your only hope of salvation is that the USA fails abjectly. This forces you into wishing for body bags, and chemical weapons attacks. And it make you our enemy. You alienated the only person who liked you in the adminisitration, Powell. I don't think you are going to like the fallout, since I have the impression that the current Administration may seek to make an example out of you. The example needs to clearly show what happens when a nation goes against us in the manner you did. It's example time, and that is never good for the entity that is going to be the example.
And what makes you think you can even get to the Persian Gulf anyway. Your Carrier may not make it?
And Blair wins the vote in the House of Common 412-149, but suffers a revolt on another motion 217-396. Blair is out on a limb, and the quickness and relative efficiency of the war may be his only salvation.
Everyone will be happy to know that the House of Representatives passed a resolution that death by stoning is a violation of human rights. Amazingly no person opposed the measure. I am certainly glad that the legislative branch is showing such support.
After all, we had Daschle's speech that was a disgrace. To argue otherwise is to display ignore what should be completely obvious. Recriminations can follow the events that are to come. Bush has gambled, and gambled correctly in my opinion. However, as the breach is approached, to undermine the President is unexcusable, and for the Senate Minority Leader to do it is an abomination. In Britain they at least understand this. The official opposition stand behind Blair.
And then we have the last argument for regime change. I have never been a great admirer of Tony Blair, but he has risen to the task.
"This is the text of prime minister Tony Blair's speech opening today's debate on the Iraq crisis in the house of Commons, as released by 10 Downing Street.
Tuesday March 18, 2003
I beg to move the motion standing on the order paper in my name and those of my right honourable friends.
At the outset I say: it is right that this house debate this issue and pass judgment. That is the democracy that is our right but that others struggle for in vain.
And again I say: I do not disrespect the views of those in opposition to mine.
This is a tough choice. But it is also a stark one: to stand British troops down and turn back; or to hold firm to the course we have set.
I believe we must hold firm.
The question most often posed is not why does it matter? But why does it matter so much? Here we are, the government with its most serious test, its majority at risk, the first cabinet resignation over an issue of policy. The main parties divided.
People who agree on everything else, disagree on this and likewise, those who never agree on anything, finding common cause. The country and parliament reflect each other, a debate that, as time has gone on has become less bitter but not less grave.
So: why does it matter so much? Because the outcome of this issue will now determine more than the fate of the Iraqi regime and more than the future of the Iraqi people, for so long brutalised by Saddam. It will determine the way Britain and the world confront the central security threat of the 21st century; the development of the UN; the relationship between Europe and the US; the relations within the EU and the way the US engages with the rest of the world. It will determine the pattern of international politics for the next generation.
But first, Iraq and its WMD.
In April 1991, after the Gulf war, Iraq was given 15 days to provide a full and final declaration of all its WMD.
Saddam had used the weapons against Iran, against his own people, causing thousands of deaths. He had had plans to use them against allied forces. It became clear after the Gulf war that the WMD ambitions of Iraq were far more extensive than hitherto thought. This issue was identified by the UN as one for urgent remedy. Unscom, the weapons inspection team, was set up. They were expected to complete their task following the declaration at the end of April 1991.
The declaration when it came was false - a blanket denial of the programme, other than in a very tentative form. So the 12-year game began.
The inspectors probed. Finally in March 1992, Iraq admitted it had previously undeclared WMD but said it had destroyed them. It gave another full and final declaration. Again the inspectors probed but found little.
In October 1994, Iraq stopped cooperating with Unscom altogether. Military action was threatened. Inspections resumed. In March 1995, in an effort to rid Iraq of the inspectors, a further full and final declaration of WMD was made. By July 1995, Iraq was forced to admit that too was false. In August they provided yet another full and final declaration.
Then, a week later, Saddam's son-in-law, Hussein Kamal, defected to Jordan. He disclosed a far more extensive BW (biological weapons) programme and for the first time said Iraq had weaponised the programme; something Saddam had always strenuously denied. All this had been happening whilst the inspectors were in Iraq. Kamal also revealed Iraq's crash programme to produce a nuclear weapon in 1990.
Iraq was forced then to release documents which showed just how extensive those programmes were. In November 1995, Jordan intercepted prohibited components for missiles that could be used for WMD.
In June 1996, a further full and final declaration was made. That too turned out to be false. In June 1997, inspectors were barred from specific sites.
In September 1997, another full and final declaration was made. Also false. Meanwhile the inspectors discovered VX nerve agent production equipment, something always denied by the Iraqis.
In October 1997, the US and the UK threatened military action if Iraq refused to comply with the inspectors. But obstruction continued.
Finally, under threat of action, in February 1998, Kofi Annan went to Baghdad and negotiated a memorandum with Saddam to allow inspections to continue. They did. For a few months.
In August, cooperation was suspended.
In December the inspectors left. Their final report is a withering indictment of Saddam's lies, deception and obstruction, with large quantities of WMD remained unaccounted for.
The US and the UK then, in December 1998, undertook Desert Fox, a targeted bombing campaign to degrade as much of the Iraqi WMD facilities as we could.
In 1999, a new inspections team, Unmovic, was set up. But Saddam refused to allow them to enter Iraq.
So there they stayed, in limbo, until after resolution 1441 when last November they were allowed to return.
What is the claim of Saddam today? Why exactly the same claim as before: that he has no WMD.
Indeed we are asked to believe that after seven years of obstruction and non-compliance finally resulting in the inspectors leaving in 1998, seven years in which he hid his programme, built it up even whilst inspection teams were in Iraq, that after they left he then voluntarily decided to do what he had consistently refused to do under coercion.
When the inspectors left in 1998, they left unaccounted for: 10,000 litres of anthrax; a far reaching VX nerve agent programme; up to 6,500 chemical munitions; at least 80 tonnes of mustard gas, possibly more than ten times that amount; unquantifiable amounts of sarin, botulinum toxin and a host of other biological poisons; an entire Scud missile programme.
We are now seriously asked to accept that in the last few years, contrary to all history, contrary to all intelligence, he decided unilaterally to destroy the weapons. Such a claim is palpably absurd.
1441 is a very clear resolution. It lays down a final opportunity for Saddam to disarm. It rehearses the fact that he has been, for years in material breach of 17 separate UN resolutions. It says that this time compliance must be full, unconditional and immediate. The first step is a full and final declaration of all WMD to be given on 8 December.
I won't to go through all the events since then - the house is familiar with them - but this much is accepted by all members of the UNSC: the 8 December declaration is false. That in itself is a material breach. Iraq has made some concessions to cooperation but no-one disputes it is not fully cooperating. Iraq continues to deny it has any WMD, though no serious intelligence service anywhere in the world believes them.
On 7 March, the inspectors published a remarkable document. It is 173 pages long, detailing all the unanswered questions about Iraq's WMD. It lists 29 different areas where they have been unable to obtain information. For example, on VX it says: "Documentation available to Unmovic suggests that Iraq at least had had far reaching plans to weaponise VX ...
"Mustard constituted an important part (about 70%) of Iraq's CW arsenal ... 550 mustard filled shells and up to 450 mustard filled aerial bombs unaccounted for ... additional uncertainty with respect of 6526 aerial bombs, corresponding to approximately 1000 tonnes of agent, predominantly mustard.
"Based on unaccounted for growth media, Iraq's potential production of anthrax could have been in the range of about 15,000 to 25,000 litres ... Based on all the available evidence, the strong presumption is that about 10,000 litres of anthrax was not destroyed and may still exist."
On this basis, had we meant what we said in resolution 1441, the security council should have convened and condemned Iraq as in material breach.
What is perfectly clear is that Saddam is playing the same old games in the same old way. Yes there are concessions. But no fundamental change of heart or mind.
But the inspectors indicated there was at least some cooperation; and the world rightly hesitated over war. We therefore approached a second resolution in this way.
We laid down an ultimatum calling upon Saddam to come into line with resolution 1441 or be in material breach. Not an unreasonable proposition, given the history.
But still countries hesitated: how do we know how to judge full cooperation?
We then worked on a further compromise. We consulted the inspectors and drew up five tests based on the document they published on 7 March. Tests like interviews with 30 scientists outside of Iraq; production of the anthrax or documentation showing its destruction.
The inspectors added another test: that Saddam should publicly call on Iraqis to cooperate with them. So we constructed this framework: that Saddam should be given a specified time to fulfil all six tests to show full cooperation; that if he did so the inspectors could then set out a forward work programme and that if he failed to do so, action would follow.
So clear benchmarks; plus a clear ultimatum. I defy anyone to describe that as an unreasonable position.
Last Monday, we were getting somewhere with it. We very nearly had majority agreement and I thank the Chilean President particularly for the constructive way he approached the issue.
There were debates about the length of the ultimatum. But the basic construct was gathering support.
Then, on Monday night, France said it would veto a second resolution whatever the circumstances. Then France denounced the six tests. Later that day, Iraq rejected them. Still, we continued to negotiate.
Last Friday, France said they could not accept any ultimatum. On Monday, we made final efforts to secure agreement. But they remain utterly opposed to anything which lays down an ultimatum authorising action in the event of non-compliance by Saddam.
Just consider the position we are asked to adopt. Those on the security council opposed to us say they want Saddam to disarm but will not countenance any new resolution that authorises force in the event of non-compliance.
That is their position. No to any ultimatum; no to any resolution that stipulates that failure to comply will lead to military action.
So we must demand he disarm but relinquish any concept of a threat if he doesn't. From December 1998 to December 2002, no UN inspector was allowed to inspect anything in Iraq. For four years, not a thing.
What changed his mind? The threat of force. From December to January and then from January through to February, concessions were made.
What changed his mind? The threat of force. And what makes him now issue invitations to the inspectors, discover documents he said he never had, produce evidence of weapons supposed to be non-existent, destroy missiles he said he would keep? The imminence of force.
The only persuasive power to which he responds is 250,000 allied troops on his doorstep.
And yet when that fact is so obvious that it is staring us in the face, we are told that any resolution that authorises force will be vetoed. Not just opposed. Vetoed. Blocked.
The way ahead was so clear. It was for the UN to pass a second resolution setting out benchmarks for compliance; with an ultimatum that if they were ignored, action would follow.
The tragedy is that had such a resolution issued, he might just have complied. Because the only route to peace with someone like Saddam Hussein is diplomacy backed by force.
Yet the moment we proposed the benchmarks, canvassed support for an ultimatum, there was an immediate recourse to the language of the veto.
And now the world has to learn the lesson all over again that weakness in the face of a threat from a tyrant, is the surest way not to peace but to war.
Looking back over 12 years, we have been victims of our own desire to placate the implacable, to persuade towards reason the utterly unreasonable, to hope that there was some genuine intent to do good in a regime whose mind is in fact evil. Now the very length of time counts against us. You've waited 12 years. Why not wait a little longer?
And indeed we have.
1441 gave a final opportunity. The first test was the 8th of December. He failed it. But still we waited. Until January 27, the first inspection report that showed the absence of full cooperation. Another breach. And still we waited.
Until February 14 and then February 28 with concessions, according to the old familiar routine, tossed to us to whet our appetite for hope and further waiting. But still no-one, not the inspectors nor any member of the security council, not any half-way rational observer, believes Saddam is cooperating fully or unconditionally or immediately.
Our fault has not been impatience.
The truth is our patience should have been exhausted weeks and months and years ago. Even now, when if the world united and gave him an ultimatum: comply or face forcible disarmament, he might just do it, the world hesitates and in that hesitation he senses the weakness and therefore continues to defy.
What would any tyrannical regime possessing WMD think viewing the history of the world's diplomatic dance with Saddam? That our capacity to pass firm resolutions is only matched by our feebleness in implementing them.
That is why this indulgence has to stop. Because it is dangerous. It is dangerous if such regimes disbelieve us.
Dangerous if they think they can use our weakness, our hesitation, even the natural urges of our democracy towards peace, against us.
Dangerous because one day they will mistake our innate revulsion against war for permanent incapacity; when in fact, pushed to the limit, we will act. But then when we act, after years of pretence, the action will have to be harder, bigger, more total in its impact. Iraq is not the only regime with WMD. But back away now from this confrontation and future conflicts will be infinitely worse and more devastating.
But, of course, in a sense, any fair observer does not really dispute that Iraq is in breach and that 1441 implies action in such circumstances. The real problem is that, underneath, people dispute that Iraq is a threat; dispute the link between terrorism and WMD; dispute the whole basis of our assertion that the two together constitute a fundamental assault on our way of life.
There are glib and sometimes foolish comparisons with the 1930s. No one here is an appeaser. But the only relevant point of analogy is that with history, we know what happened. We can look back and say: there's the time; that was the moment; for example, when Czechoslovakia was swallowed up by the Nazis - that's when we should have acted.
But it wasn't clear at the time. In fact at the time, many people thought such a fear fanciful. Worse, put forward in bad faith by warmongers. Listen to this editorial - from a paper I'm pleased to say with a different position today - but written in late 1938 after Munich when by now, you would have thought the world was tumultuous in its desire to act.
"Be glad in your hearts. Give thanks to your God. People of Britain, your children are safe. Your husbands and your sons will not march to war. Peace is a victory for all mankind. And now let us go back to our own affairs. We have had enough of those menaces, conjured up from the continent to confuse us."
Naturally should Hitler appear again in the same form, we would know what to do. But the point is that history doesn't declare the future to us so plainly. Each time is different and the present must be judged without the benefit of hindsight.
So let me explain the nature of this threat as I see it.
The threat today is not that of the 1930s. It's not big powers going to war with each other. The ravages which fundamentalist political ideology inflicted on the 20th century are memories. The Cold war is over. Europe is at peace, if not always diplomatically.
But the world is ever more interdependent. Stock markets and economies rise and fall together. Confidence is the key to prosperity. Insecurity spreads like contagion. So people crave stability and order.
The threat is chaos. And there are two begetters of chaos. Tyrannical regimes with WMD and extreme terrorist groups who profess a perverted and false view of Islam.
Let me tell the house what I know. I know that there are some countries or groups within countries that are proliferating and trading in WMD, especially nuclear weapons technology.
I know there are companies, individuals, some former scientists on nuclear weapons programmes, selling their equipment or expertise.
I know there are several countries - mostly dictatorships with highly repressive regimes - desperately trying to acquire chemical weapons, biological weapons or, in particular, nuclear weapons capability. Some of these countries are now a short time away from having a serviceable nuclear weapon. This activity is not diminishing. It is increasing.
We all know that there are terrorist cells now operating in most major countries. Just as in the last two years, around 20 different nations have suffered serious terrorist outrages. Thousands have died in them.
The purpose of terrorism lies not just in the violent act itself. It is in producing terror. It sets out to inflame, to divide, to produce consequences which they then use to justify further terror.
Round the world it now poisons the chances of political progress: in the Middle East; in Kashmir; in Chechnya; in Africa.
The removal of the Taliban in Afghanistan dealt it a blow. But it has not gone away.
And these two threats have different motives and different origins but they share one basic common view: they detest the freedom, democracy and tolerance that are the hallmarks of our way of life.
At the moment, I accept that association between them is loose. But it is hardening.
And the possibility of the two coming together - of terrorist groups in possession of WMD, even of a so-called dirty radiological bomb is now, in my judgement, a real and present danger.
And let us recall: what was shocking about September 11 was not just the slaughter of the innocent; but the knowledge that had the terrorists been able to, there would have been not 3,000 innocent dead, but 30,000 or 300,000 and the more the suffering, the greater the terrorists' rejoicing.
Three kilograms of VX from a rocket launcher would contaminate a quarter of a square kilometre of a city.
Millions of lethal doses are contained in one litre of Anthrax. 10,000 litres are unaccounted for. 11 September has changed the psychology of America. It should have changed the psychology of the world. Of course Iraq is not the only part of this threat. But it is the test of whether we treat the threat seriously.
Faced with it, the world should unite. The UN should be the focus, both of diplomacy and of action. That is what 1441 said. That was the deal. And I say to you to break it now, to will the ends but not the means that would do more damage in the long term to the UN than any other course.
To fall back into the lassitude of the last 12 years, to talk, to discuss, to debate but never act; to declare our will but not enforce it; to combine strong language with weak intentions, a worse outcome than never speaking at all.
And then, when the threat returns from Iraq or elsewhere, who will believe us? What price our credibility with the next tyrant? No wonder Japan and South Korea, next to North Korea, has issued such strong statements of support.
I have come to the conclusion after much reluctance that the greater danger to the UN is inaction: that to pass resolution 1441 and then refuse to enforce it would do the most deadly damage to the UN's future strength, confirming it as an instrument of diplomacy but not of action, forcing nations down the very unilateralist path we wish to avoid.
But there will be, in any event, no sound future for the UN, no guarantee against the repetition of these events, unless we recognise the urgent need for a political agenda we can unite upon.
What we have witnessed is indeed the consequence of Europe and the United States dividing from each other. Not all of Europe - Spain, Italy, Holland, Denmark, Portugal - have all strongly supported us. And not a majority of Europe if we include, as we should, Europe's new members who will accede next year, all 10 of whom have been in our support.
But the paralysis of the UN has been born out of the division there is. And at the heart of it has been the concept of a world in which there are rival poles of power. The US and its allies in one corner. France, Germany, Russia and its allies in the other. I do not believe that all of these nations intend such an outcome. But that is what now faces us.
I believe such a vision to be misguided and profoundly dangerous. I know why it arises. There is resentment of US predominance.
There is fear of US unilateralism. People ask: do the US listen to us and our preoccupations? And there is perhaps a lack of full understanding of US preoccupations after 11th September. I know all of this. But the way to deal with it is not rivalry but partnership. Partners are not servants but neither are they rivals. I tell you what Europe should have said last September to the US. With one voice it should have said: we understand your strategic anxiety over terrorism and WMD and we will help you meet it.
We will mean what we say in any UN resolution we pass and will back it with action if Saddam fails to disarm voluntarily; but in return we ask two things of you: that the US should choose the UN path and you should recognise the fundamental overriding importance of re-starting the MEPP (Middle East Peace Process), which we will hold you to.
I do not believe there is any other issue with the same power to re-unite the world community than progress on the issues of Israel and Palestine. Of course there is cynicism about recent announcements. But the US is now committed, and, I believe genuinely, to the roadmap for peace, designed in consultation with the UN. It will now be presented to the parties as Abu Mazen is confirmed in office, hopefully today.
All of us are now signed up to its vision: a state of Israel, recognised and accepted by all the world, and a viable Palestinian state. And that should be part of a larger global agenda. On poverty and sustainable development. On democracy and human rights. On the good governance of nations.
That is why what happens after any conflict in Iraq is of such critical significance.
Here again there is a chance to unify around the UN. Let me make it clear.
There should be a new UN resolution following any conflict providing not just for humanitarian help but also for the administration and governance of Iraq. That must now be done under proper UN authorisation.
It should protect totally the territorial integrity of Iraq. And let the oil revenues - which people falsely claim we want to seize - be put in a trust fund for the Iraqi people administered through the UN.
And let the future government of Iraq be given the chance to begin the process of uniting the nation's disparate groups, on a democratic basis, respecting human rights, as indeed the fledgling democracy in Northern Iraq - protected from Saddam for 12 years by British and American pilots in the no-fly zone - has done so remarkably.
And the moment that a new government is in place - willing to disarm Iraq of WMD - for which its people have no need or purpose - then let sanctions be lifted in their entirety.
I have never put our justification for action as regime change. We have to act within the terms set out in resolution 1441. That is our legal base.
But it is the reason, I say frankly, why if we do act we should do so with a clear conscience and strong heart.
I accept fully that those opposed to this course of action share my detestation of Saddam. Who could not? Iraq is a wealthy country that in 1978, the year before Saddam seized power, was richer than Portugal or Malaysia.
Today it is impoverished, 60% of its population dependent on food aid.
Thousands of children die needlessly every year from lack of food and medicine.
Four million people out of a population of just over 20 million are in exile.
The brutality of the repression - the death and torture camps, the barbaric prisons for political opponents, the routine beatings for anyone or their families suspected of disloyalty are well documented.
Just last week, someone slandering Saddam was tied to a lamp post in a street in Baghdad, his tongue cut out, mutilated and left to bleed to death, as a warning to others.
I recall a few weeks ago talking to an Iraqi exile and saying to her that I understood how grim it must be under the lash of Saddam.
"But you don't", she replied. "You cannot. You do not know what it is like to live in perpetual fear."
And she is right. We take our freedom for granted. But imagine not to be able to speak or discuss or debate or even question the society you live in. To see friends and family taken away and never daring to complain. To suffer the humility of failing courage in face of pitiless terror. That is how the Iraqi people live. Leave Saddam in place and that is how they will continue to live.
We must face the consequences of the actions we advocate. For me, that means all the dangers of war. But for others, opposed to this course, it means - let us be clear - that the Iraqi people, whose only true hope of liberation lies in the removal of Saddam, for them, the darkness will close back over them again; and he will be free to take his revenge upon those he must know wish him gone.
And if this house now demands that at this moment, faced with this threat from this regime, that British troops are pulled back, that we turn away at the point of reckoning, and that is what it means - what then?
What will Saddam feel? Strengthened beyond measure. What will the other states who tyrannise their people, the terrorists who threaten our existence, what will they take from that? That the will confronting them is decaying and feeble.
Who will celebrate and who will weep?
And if our plea is for America to work with others, to be good as well as powerful allies, will our retreat make them multilateralist? Or will it not rather be the biggest impulse to unilateralism there could ever be. And what of the UN and the future of Iraq and the Middle East peace plan, devoid of our influence, stripped of our insistence?
This house wanted this decision. Well it has it. Those are the choices. And in this dilemma, no choice is perfect, no cause ideal.
But on this decision hangs the fate of many things:
Of whether we summon the strength to recognise this global challenge of the 21st century and meet it.
Of the Iraqi people, groaning under years of dictatorship.
Of our armed forces - brave men and women of whom we can feel proud, whose morale is high and whose purpose is clear.
Of the institutions and alliances that will shape our world for years to come."
I can think of many things, of whether we summon the strength to recognise the global challenge of the 21st century and beat it, of the Iraqi people groaning under years of dictatorship, of our armed forces - brave men and women of whom we can feel proud, whose morale is high and whose purpose is clear - of the institutions and alliances that shape our world for years to come.
To retreat now, I believe, would put at hazard all that we hold dearest, turn the UN back into a talking shop, stifle the first steps of progress in the Middle East; leave the Iraqi people to the mercy of events on which we would have relinquished all power to influence for the better.
Tell our allies that at the very moment of action, at the very moment when they need our determination that Britain faltered. I will not be party to such a course. This is not the time to falter. This is the time for this house, not just this government or indeed this prime minister, but for this house to give a lead, to show that we will stand up for what we know to be right, to show that we will confront the tyrannies and dictatorships and terrorists who put our way of life at risk, to show at the moment of decision that we have the courage to do the right thing.
I beg to move the motion.
Monday, March 17, 2003
The die is cast. We have laid our cards on the table, and now we discover if we have written a check our government can cash.
I do not understand the 48 hours. We have already given Saddam months to prepare. By giving him time, we may be allowing him to pull a final action. We have given Saddam a deadline before. It didn't work for him last time, and he may be willing to do something new.
Saddam's best tactical play is a chemical or biological attack on Israel, one large enough that it would force a response by Israel. This would create a massive complications, since I am quite sure that Saudi Arabia et al would have a very negative reaction to Israel joining in. We would be forced to move, but things could spiral out of control very rapidly. I hear counter arguments that if Saddam launched such an attack, it would change the minds of the rest of the world. I wish I was that sure, but I feel that we would get the blame. The anti-war folks would use the catastrophe to argue that we had caused the event by pressuring Saddam.
Now that we are committed, my fear level has risen. Now we see if the scenarios that I have played out in my head have any chance of coming through. Will Iran intervene? Will N. Korea launch a strike against S. Korea? Will the Chinese begin to threaten Taiwan? Will the Russian situation with Chechyna blow up? Will there be a wave of terrorism against the US and its Allies? Will the Jordanian Government survive this war? Will the Balkans flair up as Al Queda folks there stir the pot? Will France attempt active intervention? And if not, what will they do subversively? How long can Blair last? The Spanish Prime Minister?
It might be to much to ask of the anti-war folks, but can we stop the protests. Like it or not, the events are taking on their own life. We may need to face dramatic and life changing events to come. We may need to pull together in a way that has not been seen since December 7, 1941. I am not happy about this war, and those around me who support the war are not happy. The correct time for this event was not now. It was four years ago. We must face war now, together. The train has left the station. We are all aboard. Events will affect us all equally. In this endeavor we are all in this together. For the duration of this conflict, can we be Americans first, and everything else second?
Lastly, to the troops. I will pray for your safe passage hourly. We are proud that you are serving us. Godspeed, and Good Hunting. Let's Roll.
Sunday, March 16, 2003
Is it Monday or not.
The Franco-German group just don't get it. And this talk about another day by the US diplomats is bothersome. The President was clear.
Sleep well tonight, tomorrow should be an interesting day.
Here is the paragraph which laid out the UN's failure. As of yet, I have heard nothing about this.
"Let me say something about the U.N. It's a very important organization. That's why I went there on September the 12th, 2002, to give the speech, the speech that called the U.N. into account, that said if you're going to pass resolutions, let's make sure your words mean something. Because I understand the wars of the 21st century are going to require incredible international cooperation. We're going to have to cooperate to cut the money of the terrorists, and the ability for nations, dictators who have weapons of mass destruction to provide training and perhaps weapons to terrorist organizations. We need to cooperate, and we are. Our countries up here are cooperating incredibly well.
And the U.N. must mean something. Remember Rwanda, or Kosovo. The U.N. didn't do its job. And we hope tomorrow the U.N. will do its job. If not, all of us need to step back and try to figure out how to make the U.N. work better as we head into the 21st century. Perhaps one way will be, if we use military force, in the post-Saddam Iraq the U.N. will definitely need to have a role. And that way it can begin to get its legs, legs of responsibility back.
But it's important for the U.N. to be able to function well if we're going to keep the peace. And I will work hard to see to it that at least from our perspective, that the U.N. is able to be -- able to be a responsibility body, and when it says something, it means it, for the sake of peace and for the sake of the security, for the capacity to win the war of -- the first war of the 21st century, which is the war against terrorism and weapons of mass destruction in the hands of dictators. "
This is a fairly incredible statement, and it has recieved almost no notice. Look at what Bush is saying.
1) Rwanda and Kosovo were a UN disaster.
2) If the UN does not do its job, we will step back.
3) The UN is not with us in the War on Terror, which clearly includes removing weapons of mass destruction from the hands of dictators. If I was in the current Iranian government, I would be very worried.
4) All of us (I doubt this includes the French, German and Belgium nations), and I think Bush really means, the USA, UK, and Spain, are going to have to try to figure out how to make the UN work better. This is truly momentous. Reagan, who used to periodically annoy the UN, never took it this far. We are entering into a fascinating and incredible time.
Stay tuned tomorrow. It could be one for the ages.
Well, the press conference has come and gone. It would seem that tomorrow is the day of reckoning. The endless nail-biting interminable lethargic amble to judgement will finally come to a close.
1) Apparently Al Jazeera is not reporting the press conference. That is ominous.
2) Was I the only person to notice Bush's comments on the UN's failures in Kosovo and Rwanda? I visibly flinched when he said that. I have a feeling that might come back to bite him.
3) The French are beginning to waver slightly. I think they are beginning to realize that the blame will fall on them as SDB argues. However, I think it is a little too little, much too late. Blair was quite direct in stating that the divisions in the UNSC are to blame for the current impasse. Blair is ready to lay this at the French governments door, and the current actions that the French government is taking indicate that they understand the threat.
4) Apparently Germany was intent on ensuring that the USA was divided from the rest of the UN. Then when we had taken on the Iraq matter we ould be forced to return to the UN begging for its help. The report to the German Foreign Ministry on Feb. 21, Germany's U.N. Ambassador Gunter Pleuger lays this out. Once again I am stunned that Germany would pull this stunt. This is completely unacceptable from our point of view. We should not tolerate it from the French, but from the Germans, this really hurts. Honestly, I had no idea that the division ran that deep. The United States nneds to take a good long look at the European situation and make some changes. The people who we thought were our friends are surely not.