Saturday, February 22, 2003

And so, the magic wand for Katie campaign comes (ahem) to a grinding (ahem!) closure (ok.) At last, our long national nightmare is over.
Some of you might say that the end of the 'magic wand for Katie' campaign is a disappointment; others might say, 'THANK GOD!'
The Cougars decline to take sides on this issue. But do check out the link to Savage Love in the coming weeks, for Dan Savage's response.

Friday, February 21, 2003

Human shields: One does have to admire their courage, and one can't question their commitment to the well-being of the people of Iraq. One can, however, question their judgment as to the best way of going about promoting that well-being.
My favorite line: "Of course America appears to have become so immoral now that there are few chances of it making it the slightest bit of difference," says one 'human shield.' First, it's interesting that he says America has 'become so immoral now'. So, is the US more immoral now that it's seeking to oust a genocidal despot, than when it had a habit of helping such despots overthrow democratically elected left-leaning governments in Latin America? Or propping up brutal dictatorships in South Vietnam, Iran, Iraq, etc. etc.? This guy seems too generous in his evaluation of America's past, just as he seems too simplistically harsh about his estimation of its present intentions.
But, the main thing is: you, sir, are, as the article makes plain, working with -- indeed, acting at the behest of, serving as a tool of -- Saddam Hussein's government. You are in no position to talk about immorality. If you want a lesson about what 'immoral' really means, look not to America; look to your hosts -- and look at how they are using you, how you have become a tool in the hands of a regime that murders its own people. (Also, note that the human shield's are being housed -- and, I would assume, fed -- at the government's expense. Now, where is that money coming from, I wonder? And where do you think it ought to be going, when we hear so much -- often from the very same people as are acting as human shields -- about the malnourishment and inadequate medical care etc. of the Iraqi people?
Second favorite quote: on an anti-war march in Iraq by the 'human shields' being turned into a pro-Saddam march by Iraqis: "It changed the spirit of the march," said a recent college graduate who is one of the volunteers. "That wasn't what we expected."
Oh, no? Didn't expect that? Well, maybe you should have thought and studied a bit more about the dynamics of a totalitarian society before going there and getting involved in shoring up that society. Maybe before you get involved in Iraqi affairs to the extent of risking your life, you should ask yourself about, and try to understand, what exactly it is you're working to protect -- and who exactly it is you're serving in doing so.
By the way, have any of these people thought about possibly going into the non-Saddam controlled area of Northern Iraq, or the Iran/Iraq borderlands, or -- gasp! -- Israel, to act as human shields for THOSE people against Saddam's possible biological/chemical attacks?

It seems that, even before war begins, the Bush administration is already faced with a choice between its military objectives, and its professed commitment to human rights and democratization: will it give in to Turkey's desire to dominate the Kurds in order to procure Turkey's strategically vital co-operation, or will it stand up for the Kurds, even at the risk of alienating, or at least complicating things with, one of our most important allies in the region?
Hard to know for sure; I'm not optimistic, but on the other hand, the fact that there are tensions at all, and that the US hasn't just agreed to let Turkey do what it wants without demuring at all, is a hopeful sign. What I do know is: we've let the Kurds be gassed, disposessed, oppressed, and betrayed before. If we're at all serious about building a better world in the Middle East, and if we care at all about our country's moral standing, we can't do so again -- even if it makes going to war with Iraq harder.

Ah, alma mater. 'Bright college years, with ... pleasures rife?' Ron Rosenbaum ventures into the experience that is Sex Week at Yale. Be still my beating heart.

Advertisements for my ... sometime room-mate: Noam Schimmel is one of the best, and most delightful, people I've ever met. This story is but a hint of what Noam is actually like, but even so, it makes for a heart-warming read. Heartily recommended.

Thursday, February 20, 2003

In the Guardian, Jonathan Freedland
acknowledges that the anti-war movement needs to – and largely hasn’t – addressed the question of what’s to be done about Saddam (and in the process, offers some hair-raising reports from Saturday’s rally. Someone – an opponent of the war – needs to do something about Tariq Ali; the man’s sped off into cuckoo-land, leaving reason far behind him.) Freedland’s proposals sound highly implausible to me; but his argument that we should try peaceful means before going to war is one with which I have sympathy. However, I also fear that Saddam will be able to circumvent the policies Freedland proposes, thus appearing to introduce human rights in order to stave off war, without actually instituting them (after all, hasn’t he been doing the same with his weapons program – or has he?)
Also, Freedland asserts that the Bush administration hasn’t been making the human-rights case for war – he portrays that as a recent Blair stratagem. This is not true. Blair's been going on about Saddam being bad for years. And the Bush administration has been making the humanitarian case, alongside the security one – witness the State of the Union. The left-leaning European press just hasn’t been noticing, or reporting it. And then they complain that the case hasn’t been made. Talk about spin cycles!

Before I begin to seem like an OxBlog-hater (I like those guys a lot, really …), I should award kudos – but, I fear, only modified kudos -- to Dave Adesnik for his inquiry into the Stop the War Coalition and the Socialist Workers Party. I had also wondered about the SWP’s connections with the SWC, and had turned up much of the same evidence as Dave has, though he’s found some that I, thankfully, haven’t (I don’t see any reason to suppose that the possessor of the, um, Albert is the same guy who’s involved with the SWC. No reason to suppose the contrary, either, of course.) Dave also missed the fact that at least one columnist in the Guardian did make an explicit mention of the SWP in connection with the march, though this was in a humorous column
Dave also neglects to mention that the Socialist Alliance, which he identifies as far more open than the SWP, is actually a coalition which includes the SWP
Of course, none of this really MEANS anything about the march in London unless Dave can show that the SWP really did dominate it – and if the Oxford contingent was able to drown out one of the SWP’s speakers, it sounds like their hold on the movement is less than Leninist. I think it’s worthwhile looking into who these people are, why they’re opposing the war, and what they hope to gain from co-opting the anti-war movement; but one needs to be careful not to over-emphasize their role in that movement, or seek to discredit that movement through attacks on groups like the SWP – that does, I agree with Jacob, verge on (though I’m not so sure that it goes beyond verging on) McCarthyism).
A further, related caveat: in his reference to ANSWER, he fails to note that ANSWER was prevented from organizing or controlling last Saturday’s anti-war march in NYC; so one can’t, and shouldn’t, tar the anti-war movement with the brush of stoogedom to Stalinists. On the other hand, Dave is right to point out the neglect of the ANSWER angle by much of the US media.

Ok, France isn't allowed to complain about Rumsfeld calling them Old Europe after this from Chirac. Of all the condescending, arrogant, bullying, idiotic declarations that have been made recently (and, let's face it, there have been quite a few o all sides), this deserves the crap medal. Poorly brought up indeed! These nations were experiencing what it's actually like to be deprived of freedom while France was merrily triangulating itself -- and Chirac was enriching himself with crooked business dealings. So, excuse me (as Joschka Fisher might say), Monsieur le President, if I regard you as, morally speaking, a speck of puss beside someone like Vaclav Havel.
PS: Memo to the rest of the EU: do you really want to be France's lapdog (a poodle)?

Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Americans are from Mars, Europeans are from Venus: so, more or less, says Robert Kagan, who is interviewed in the NY Times Magazine.
There are a number of problems with the interview. One, which Oxblog noted, is that the interview is incredibly hostile to its subject. It’s also pretty shallow.
What OxBlog didn’t say, and seems not to have been bothered by, is, first, Kagan’s arrogance. He says that the US is better at everything than Europe (except for building a peaceful Europe), and don’t need Europe for the war on terrorism, and that Europe is no better at intelligence. Not so. The European security services have been making valuable contributions to the war on terror; anyone who listened closely to Powell’s speech before the UN will remember how much of it relied on information from suspects detained by our European allies. And, many members of Al Quaeda and other terrorist networks are based in Europe (and, as those of us residing in the UK know all too well, threaten Europe as well). So, Europe can’t ignore terrorism forever – it’s threatened too. But America can’t fight Al Quaeda and other, similar groups without some help from our friends – which we won’t have if we’re not able to keep them as our friends. To do that, a certain humility is necessary, at times.
Such sensitivity does not seem to be Kagan’s strong point, despite his patience with the interviewer’s jibes. Note his use of terms such as ‘primitive’ to characterize Saddam Hussein and company. Now, a historian of foreign relations should recognize that such words have an ugly – to use another word he seems to like – history, and ugly associations for many. And, when one’s trying – if he was trying – to make the case for war, and is facing charges of American arrogance, imperialism, even racism, one should try to avoid being so provocative – one shouldn’t play into the hands of one’s critics quite so neatly or so obviously. And yet, Dave Adesnik says that Kagan is ‘far too sophisticated to resort to name-calling.’ I wish that he were so sophisticated as to be able to avoid using words that sound like 19th century European imperialist name-calling.
It’s this lack of, well, diplomatic skill that really bothers me about the Bush administration’s attempts to get approval for the war. Well, that, and the fact that many members of the administration seem to be not that genuinely concerned with democracy.

If you oppose the war, read Amos Oz's article in today's NY Times -- and ask yourself if you're really happy with some of your allies, and if you really believe all of the slogans.
If you support war, read Oz's article -- and ask yourself how sure you can be of your own rectitude, and how well you can predict the results of war, and the reactions of others.

I asked, why not, as one exiled Iraqi dissident has suggested, indict Saddam, and seek to get him to abdicate? A correspondent (hey, someone actually wrote me about a comment here! Someone actually reads this!) has answered me, as follows (correct me if I mischaracterize):
1) Saddam Hussein won't go for it, because he cares more about glory than he does about his life, and won't relinquish power until he's forced to (which I assume means killed).
2) If there were a peaceful transition, Saddam would probably be replaced by another Ba'athist dictator, so the people of Iraq would be no better off.
3)In the resulting period of delay before invasion, Saddam could continue oppressing his people, and support for the war would ebb.
4) To try to seek such a solution would be displaying weakness to our other enemies.
To which I would respond:
1) Probably; but we don't know for sure. Is thinking that this bloodless regime change won't work a reason for not trying it, given the amount of suffering involved in the bloody alternative?
2) Fair enough -- the question then becomes whether we could somehow manage to not only get rid of Saddam, but also the Ba'ath party, without war. I haven't heard a proposal for how we could, and can't think of one myself; so this seems to sink things. However, if anyone can provide a plausible scenario for overcoming this objection, I'd be interested in hearing it.
3) I'm not sure that support for war would ebb. It seems to me that attempting a peaceful solution, and having that fail, if it fails, would overcome the objections of some who see the Bush administration as overly war-mongering and insufficiently respectful of international law. I doubt that anyone would say, 'Ok, we've given Saddam a clear chance to let himself and his people off the hook, and he's refused it -- so, since only war will remove him, let's not go to war.' I mean, that makes no sense as something that someone who might actually support the war would think; those likely to think that way will oppose the war no matter what.
As for the Iraqi people: it becomes a matter of weighing the certain suffering they will undergo while Saddam remains in power against the suffering they might be spared if war is averted. If the deadline for abdication were adequately clear and short, then I think it might be worth it -- but that's not something that I'm willing to say with any assurance.
4) Well, the fact that we've been letting ourselves be held up by THE FRENCH AND GERMANS doesn't make us look that powerful, does it? But of course my correspondent probably thinks that's a mistake as well. I can only say that to me saving innocent live is more important than looking tough -- especially since everyone knows that we are strong, and could have taken Saddam out months -- neigh, decades -- ago if we wanted to. I'm more concerned with convincing those who doubt our rectitude than those who would test our strength. The latter will, I think, behave much the same anyway; the former might make better allies -- and we'll need allies in the war on terrorism, if not the war on Saddam. Also, another thing about those who doubt our rectitude: they have much better arguments than those who would doubt our strength. 'Cuz, let's face it, the US has been more notable for might than doing right throughout much of the past few decades.
All of which leaves me far from convinced that we ought to try the to remove Saddam peacefully -- but not convinced that we shouldn't, either. A suitable pyrrhonic note on whch to end.

A panel of British historians (ALL Brits, or inhabitants of Britain, interestingly -- way to get the international perspective!) comment on whether the current situation with Iraq resembles Munich, or Suez. Different readers will, no doubt, evaluate the different responses in their own ways; I found Michael Burleigh's the best at capturing the ambiguity of today's situation, Linda Colley the best at capturing its agony, and Simon Schama eloquent, if at times a bit too clever, in describing the looming difficulties ahead.

One interesting thing to note is the level of consensus; and one of the things that there was a good deal of agreement on was that the whole question was faulty from the get-go -- that parallels in history don't work, and are generally used by politicians for rhetorical, and (the assumption often seemed to be) therefore manipulative and dishonest, purposes. I'm not sure about the latter point, but the former seems to me sensible and largely right -- no two situations are identical, and the present situation is very different in many important respects -- probably the most important -- from the other historical situations under discussion. Still, just because the current situation differs markedly from past situations doesn't mean that it has nothing in common with them -- and that looking at past situations, in which the dust has had something of a chance to settle (though there remains disagreement about them, to be sure), sometimes lends clarity to our considerations of the problems of the present.

So, against the sage advice of the learned and articulate panel, I'll throw out a few reflections on some recent historical events that have some very general similarities to the present situation, as I see it:

1) Appeasement in the 1930s: Here, again, we have widespread anti-war sentiment -- those at the Oxford Union who overwhelmingly declared that 'This House Will, Under No Circumstances, Fight for King and Country' in (I believe) 1931 would feel quite at home with the current undergraduate population of that ancient university, I can assure you. There is an international tribunal which seems, due to its structural weaknesses and the conflicting, and often selfish, aims and interests of its members, incapable of decisively setting or enforcing policy one way or another -- and which in general is, and in recent years has been, averse to conflict and risk. You have a small number of politicians in the democratic, developed countries actively agitating for war. And you have a genocidal despot who is in violation of international law, with expansionist tendencies.

Ok, now the differences. In the 1930s, Churchill was a voice in the wilderness; today's self-appointed Churchillians hold the reigns of the world's most powerful nation, as well as Churchill's own Great Britain (Winston would, no doubt, love this -- the old Anglo-American war-monger!) (and supporter of Zionism,incidentally.) In the 1930s, as I've pointed out elsewhere, Hitler had yet to embark on his main genocidal campaigns (excepting the forced euthenasia of the handicapped), while Saddam is an old hand. In the 1930s, the German people were all too happy -- no, rapturous -- to follow Hitler down the road to ruin; the current citizenry of Iraq seems to be somewhat less enthusiastic, though with Saddam's minders about, it's hard to tell. (Though in the 1930s there were political dissidents who had fled Germany and were warning of the evil incubating there -- as there are now Iraqi dissidents calling for Saddam's ouster. Ok, so the guys I saw protesting for Saddam's indictment in Trafalgar Square aren't exactly Thomas Mann; as I said, these parallels are at best very loose. But my heart goes out to them, as it would, I hope, have gone out to those refugees from Hitler's Germany).

Also, as many of the panelists noted, by 1938 Hitler was actively rolling over Europe; and there was no question about his re-armament (some say the same, in the latter respect, about Saddam; however, our information on Saddam's possession of WMD's is rather less full, to say the least, than European knowledge of Hitler's arsenal after 1936 or so). At the same time, as some of the panelists also note, Hitler didn't have WMDs, but only (only!) conventional weapons.
Another thing to consider: in the 1930s many saw Hitler as a bullwark against Stalin's Russia, and would have dismissed as laughable the idea that the scourge of the German Communists might ally with the Soviet Union.

In 1939 Hitler and Stalin signed the Nazi-Soviet Pact.

Similarly, today many sniff at the (admittedly eminently sniffable) claims of collusion between Iraq and some associates of Usama bin Laden by pointing to the no less sharp gulf between the secular Ba'athist and the Wahabist fundamentalist. While I don't find the Bush Administration's demonstration of a link conclusive, I find this assumption far less so. There have been equally strange bedfellows in the course of history.

So, the situation at present isn't much like 1938 at all, when Hitler was obviously on the move. But it may, or may not, be like, say, 1934-6, before Hitler had actually set off on his travels but was preparing to do so. Now, would the democratic nations of the world have done well to stop Hitler the first time he was seen to be in violation of international law? Maybe; it's hard to say even now, when we have the benefit of hindsight. And we have no such benefit with Iraq. On the other hand, we do have the benefit of knowing of Saddam's genocidal and expansionist proclivities; the democratic leaders of the 1930s knew no such things about Hitler. Had they known what was likely to occur, and gone to war against Hitler in, say, 1937, would they have done better than they ultimately did? Hard to say. Maybe they would've saved millions of innocent lives; maybe an even worse cataclysm would have resulted. It's an interesting question to ask -- and a humbling one. And it seems to me that both sides in the current debate could use some humbling.

2) Suez. If one regards the war with Iraq as imperialist, then this parallel makes some sense -- although even then, as Schama and others point out, the parallel doesn't work because the US is, it seems, a waxing, rather than a waning, imperial power. And, as several panelists point out, the proposed war with Iraq is likely to be rather more succesful than Suez. Also, in 1956 there wasn't a very strong human rights/democratization case to be made against Nasser, as nasty as he may have been in some ways. Nor were WMDs, or anything really equivalent, involved.

On the other hand, Suez did foster already strong hatred of Israel, and fanned the flames of anti-colonialism. As Mr. Bush and Mr. Sharon consider the upcoming war, this should be in their minds. If they choose to press ahead anyway -- well, they're courageous, at least. It'd be nice if they could be courageous without endangering their own people so much; but, then, it's a tough world, isn't it?

Still, it seems to me that the Suez example, so far as it works, ought to make enemies of Israel and the USA support the war, rather than oppose it.

3) Vietnam. One relatively insignificant, and VERY loose, parallel between the current situation and the early days of the Vietnam war, which I just want to get off my chest: French foreign policy in both cases was/has been blackguardly, and they have a lot to answer for.

Ok, glad to get that out of the way.

America was initially led into Vietnam by complicated power politics, the details of which I don't know, and the intricacies of which therefore don't understand. But America was led ever deeper into the morass by good, well-intentioned, pro-democracy, internationalist liberals -- Cold War liberals, some of them my own very close ideological counterparts. Which is why one of the main lessons I take from Vietnam is not to be too sure of my own or my ideological soul-mates' own wisdom or ability to triumph -- and to be reluctant to make others lay down their lives for that which I hold dear. Because those good Cold War liberals, while they were right about so much in theory, proved very often to be disastrously wrong about some practical matters, because they were arrogant, removed from reality, and cavalier with the lives of others in the name of principle. Which is why my support of war in any circumstance can only be reluctant and wary and worried.

On the other hand, hardened anti-Communist though I am, I have to say that Ho Chi Minh wasn't so bad as Saddam. And while I'm far from sanguine about the regime likely to follow Saddam in Iraq, there is at least the possibility that we can foster something much better than the rotten authoritarian government we propped up in South Vietnam.

Also, Ho Chi Minh, and his heirs, didn't have WMDs, or the possibility of acquiring them. And while it became clear, after a certain point (1968, say, though to many the realization struck earlier than that -- credit to them) that Vietnam was unwinnable, even the harshest opponents of the proposed war with Iraq admit that the US will win -- though some are more optimistic about how quick the campaign will be than others (I think it'll be relatively short -- a few months -- and really, really nasty. And a lot of US soldiers will die, and a lot of Iraqis will. So those images from Vietnam of body bags and naked, screaming Vietnamese children? Not a convincing argument against war in themselves, perhaps. But something to be thought about. Because we could see just as bad very soon.)

Another parallel: in both Vietnam and the current situation, the term 'containment' has been thrown about quite a lot, though by different sides -- the pro-war camp then, the anti-war camp now (though George Kennan has been a critic of both wars, interestingly enough). And in both cases, the term was, I think, misapplied. It was misapplied in Vietnam because the policy of containment was developed to deal with the USSR, and later adapted to deal with China. And, with some major hiccups (Cuban Missile Crisis, anyone?), it worked pretty well at that. But it didn't apply to Vietnam, which was a civil war in which the Soviets weren't directly involved, and one in which the Communists didn't threaten to expand into other countries (and when they did invade another country -- Cambodia -- it was to stop a brutal Stalinoid genocide. Ah, the ironies of history!) And it doesn't apply here, because the theory of containment as set out by Kennan was based on a very different geo-political and strategic and technological reality -- a more or less even balance of power between two massively-armed superpowers. Not the case here.

Now, containment might work in keeping Saddam from deploying his WMDs against US allies. Will it work to prevent him from using either his own subordinates, or obliging terrorists from some other party (not necessarily, though not necessarily not, Al Quaeda), covertly, against the US, or the UK, or Israel? Or from turning them on his own people or his neighbors, when the world loses interest in him? I'm not sure. It might.

Of course, while containment is working, the people of Iraq will be dying horribly. But, hey, too bad, right? I mean, we didn't do anything about the Gulag, did we?

We didn't do anything about the Gulag -- because we couldn't. Because the balance of power that made containment possible also made invasion to put an end to Stalin and his successor's terrors impossible. But, as I said, that balance of power doesn't apply here. We COULD invade Iraq, and put an end to the suffering. Whether we should or not depends on how important you think such a goal is, and how effective you think war will be in accomplishing it.

4) Bosnia, Rwanda, Somalia

I group these together because, different as all of them were, they shared a common feature, which is what I want to focus on. In each case, massive human rights violations occured. In each case, people in the west argued for military intervention, to enforce the UN charter, to prevent innocent suffering. In each case, others argued that there was no pressing national interest at issue, that getting involved would solve nothing and only make things worse, that we should leave the victims and their tormentors to themselves -- it was their problem, it would happen anyway. In each case we did nothing; we let people -- millions of them -- be killed in unspeakable ways. When we could have stopped it, had we chosen to. (In Rwanda the French were largely to blame -- though so was the US -- and in Bosnia Russia was. Just had to mention that. Lest one be eager to respect their moral credentials, for some odd reason).

As I've noted before, I supported intervention in those cases; and I find it impossible to oppose war now, because I supported it then.

5) Kosovo

Here we did intervene. And some people (Noam Chomsky, a bunch of guys at the Cato Institute) still say that we shouldn't have. And, let's face it, we probably did contribute to the deaths of a lot of people we were trying to help. Would they have died anyway? I'm not sure; no-one can, I think, be wholly sure.

But, today Milosevic is on trial in the Hague, and Serbia -- Serbia! -- is uneasily democratic. This may not be much; but it's probably the greatest triumph of international law and humanitarian intervention in recent times. Which is sad. But it's not nothing.

6) Afghanistan

We went in to fight terrorism -- and many said, show us the proof. Many also said that we couldn't win; and they were right, in a way -- the leadership of Al Quaeda largely got away, and still menace us. Many said that the Afghan people would suffer -- and they certainly have.

However, if the rosiest promises (which I doubt many people ever fully believed, and which few made -- Pres. Bush did tell us the war would be a long and hard one, remember?) failed to come to pass, so did the long military morass and humanitarian disaster that critics of the war predicted. Another caution against both triumphalism, and pessimism. And even if much of Afghanistan remains beset with violence and chaos, Kabul and its environs are free, there's a democratic leader -- tenuously holding on to power, true; but also willing to give it up voluntarily; students of George Washington's career will be heartened by that -- and the beginnings of a regular Afghani army to protect that fragile democracy. Again, not much, maybe; but a big step in the right direction.

At the same time: we went into Afghanistan talking about a humanitarian war, to bring democracy and liberate women. Women in Kabul have it better, perhaps; but in other parts of the country they're still prisoners in their homes -- or so I've heard (anyone with exact information on this, please share! -- and please correct any other errors or omissions you find herein) And the latest budget's aid to Afghanistan is, well, let's say it ain't generous -- in fact, it ain't anything.

Which means that I have to view the Bush administration's claims that this war is about freeing the people of Iraq and instituting lasting, real democracy, with a good deal of skepticism (as does the less than sterling track record of many members of the Bush administration). And why I think it's so important to join, not organizations that are committed to preventing a war that will probably happen anyway, and which could do some good as well as ill, but organizations that will work to turn the war and its aftermath towards the good, rather than away from it.

Monday, February 17, 2003

In addition to providing a good analysis of the nature of Saddam's regime, this article by an Iraqi exile proposes a striking alternative to war: indicting Saddam, threatening him with the use of force, and offering him safe passage if he will abdicate, taking a specified number of his associates with him.
I find this idea fascinating. It struck me, at first glance, as highly improbable, even silly. But then I asked myself, why not?
It's a question which I'd like to see forceful proponents of war answer.

Sunday, February 16, 2003

Note: readers of this blog -- both of them -- may have noticed that a certain hegemony has been established here. This is partly because one of the other bloggers is over-worked, and another is away. Or so they'd have us believe.
Still more recently (if they've checked the blog that recently), our readers may have noticed, and may in future notice, a decline in the frequency of my postings. This is because I've determined that blogging takes up too much of my time, and so am trying to restrict myself to one or two postings a day. However, if there happens to be a windfall of interesting stories and opinion pieces that I come across online, I can't promise to abide by this intention.

There's a simply splendid TRB in the latest New Republic, in which Peter Beinart details the US's shameful involvement in Saddam's earlier, genocidal activities, attacks the arrogance and moral insensitivity -- no, moral stupidity -- of people like Rumsfeld who were at the heart of it, and the neglect of this story by right-wing hawks; and explains why this isn't an argument against war with Iraq -- but a good reason to keep a close eye on how this administration behaves, and to push them, however one can, to seriously and effectively promote democracy, and not betray or connive in the suppression, once again, of the Kurds, or Iraqi people, or their neighbors. A must-read.

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