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Friday, September 17, 2004

Issues, Part 3: War and the UN

Continueing my discussion of issues based on points raised by Nicolas Farley. See also part 1 and part 2. Nic said:

3. I am not against the War's in Iraq and Afghanistan, but there needs to be a different approach. It's clear that our methods are have an effect in Iraq, but I feel that we need a change of coarse with better world-wide UN led support
I assume that anyone who reads this will be fully aware of my views on Afghanistan and Iraq and the general pro-active democracy promoting ideas in the war on terror. I also post frequently on the current state of affairs in Iraq and the difficulties and opportunities we have there. As such, in this post I will address the narrower issue of UN backing and world support. I believe, that as globalization continues, we will eventually need some sort of one world government. Such a supra-national organization could do a lot of good in the world and solve many problems. However, the nature of such a government is not incidental, rather it is central, to my support of such an idea. While the devil is in the details, suffice it to say that I would only support such a government if it was a representitive democracy with guarantees of basic human rights. The UN as it is currently constituted does not meet these requirements. It can, and does, serve many useful purposes but I do not feel, given the character of its members, that it confers any special moral legitimacy. The UN is a collection of states that confers equal standing (with the exception of the 5 permanent security council members) to all nations, regardless of their national character or moral nature. Thus you have such idiocies as Libya being the chair of the Human Rights Commision and pre-invasion Iraq being slated for a seat on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Commision. The idea that all nation states should be considered equal, regardless of their nature, is a post-modern conceit that we cannot make moral judgements of other cultures. I reject this belief. Freedom is better than totalitarianism. Human rights are not relative. Democracy is superior to authoritarianism. Free markets are more fair than command and control economies. Added to the inherent problems with the nature of UN members is the unfortunate fact that the UN beauracracy as a whole is corupt. This was amply demonstrated in the oil-for-food scandal. It is questionable whether UN support of the Iraq war would have translated into meaningful military or economic aid in Iraq. Germany is stretched to the limit and France quite obviously views American hyper-power as a greater threat to the worlds security than Islamic Terrorism. While Russia does have signifigant armed forces they could deploy, they lack the money and logistical capabilities needed. Also it is worth noting that with the partial exception of Britain and Australlia, no nation is militarily sophisticated enough to coordinate effectively with modern U.S. forces in combat, although they can be effective in a peacekeeping capacity. As to economic support for the war in Iraq and the rebuilding, we have had a fair amount of success in getting Iraqi debt forgiven. Beyond that, no major economic help was ever likely. Germany, France, and Russia are all in fairly serious economic recessions and unlike the U.S. have yet to begin any sort of economic recovery. All other major economic powers, with the exception of China, have contributed to signifigant amounts to the Iraqi reconstruction. Yes the U.S. has, and will continue to, bear the lions share of this process. That is inevitable if we want this mission to succeed. Obviously, there is a stark difference here between the current war and Gulf War I. The lion’s share of that wars cost was paid for my Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Basically, those two countries were outsourcing their national defense in that war. This was never going to happen with the war in Iraq as establishing a democracy in Iraq, one of the primary goals of the war, is designed to fundamentally alter the nature of the greater middle-east over time. Obviously this is not in the interest of the ruling families of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, although I believe it to be in the interest of the people of Iraq. It is fair to note here a couple of things. First, Bill Clinton did not have a U.N. mandate for the military action in Serbia. While certainly some anti-war democrats did protest that action, the mainstream democratic party did not have any complaints (that I know of) of him on that score. Second, John Kerry opposed the first Gulf War even though we did get U.N. approval and had wide international support. To my knowledge, he has not publically explained this vote. The Iraq War is a case where John Kerry can legitimately be criticized as a flip-flopper. When the war appeared popular he voted for the authorization to go to war. Later, when Howard Dean’s anti-war stance seemed very popular he voted against the 87 billion to supply our troops. Since then, he as veered from moderately pro-war positions to severe anti-war positions, at one point promising to begin reducing our troops in Iraq within the first six months of his administration.
Early in the campaign, Kerry maintained that it was impossible to predict when U.S. troops would return home without talking to the commanders in the field. He even suggested increasing the number of U.S. troops. This summer, however, Kerry set a new goal of reducing troops by the end of his first term. But in an interview with National Public Radio in early August, he said he could "significantly" reduce troops during the first six months of his administration -- a new position aides immediately set out to soften in private conversations with reporters.
I don’t think even many democrats are sure as to how John Kerry would deal with the War in Iraq and this indecisiveness would send a dangerous message to our enemies.


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