In reply to the Downing Street Critics

I’ve been wanting to reply to this post by Rich Casebolt for quite some time. He puts out the same general reasoning that others have shown in shooting down the urgency of the Downing Street Memo and what it represents.

To put it simply, he bases his entire opinion on the fact that Saddam was bad, we all knew he was bad, thus anything Bush and Blair did to confront and depose him was good.

This is far too simplistic… and frankly it’s an insult to the notion of the Rule of Law and Civilized society.

I’ve heard this same justification over and over in so many different ways. To paraphrase one of many…

“We must not judge the act, or the outcome, but rather the intent.”

I call BS on that.

Far too many things have gone wrong in spite of “good intentions”. In a court of law, “good intentions” are basically what seperate Manslaughter from Murder.

However… one point that Rich and those who share his opinion continue to ignore and gloss over is that Manslaughter is still a crime.

While Rich goes into great detail listing all the horrendous crimes and threatening behaviour of Saddam and his crew, he ignores the fact that was Bush did was a crime as well. It may not have been as serious. It may not have been as bloody (arguably). It may not have been as obvious. But a crime it was.

When will the “right” call a spade a spade?

7 replies on “In reply to the Downing Street Critics”

  1. I’ll keep it simple, Chris … when is it a crime to step in and defend yourself, when the supposed enforcers of that law refuse to do so in a timely manner, if at all?

    Your law has been rendered impotent, by the relativism and realpolitik of your ideological fellow-travelers in the “international community”.

    And, when are you and your ideological fellow-travelers going to acknowledge your responsibility for the MILLIONS of deaths over the last few decades, as a result of your support, in the name of your law, for INACTION in the face of known thugs … and active opposiion against taking ACTION?

  2. “when is it a crime to step in and defend yourself”

    When did Saddam Hussein attack the United States or the UK?

    “Your law has been rendered impotent”

    How convenient for you… try telling that to the Highway Patrol officer the next time you get pulled over for speeding.

    “and active opposiion against taking ACTION?”


    There was no oppositiong to taking action… only to taking ILLEGAL action.

    There is a very large difference between the two.

    The many memos out of the UK have made it abundantly clear that in this, the UK Government/Foreign Office and the protesters who marched in London, Madrid, Paris, Washington, and elsewhere, agreed.

  3. Chris:

    1> France — with an UNSC veto — said it would NEVER approve of the use of force against Iraq.

    2> Laws are rendered impotent by lack of action on the part of their enforcers all the time.

    For example, speed limits are usually only suggetions here in Dallas, the home of the “digital driver” (traffic here is binary, with only two speeds — zero and 80!. And, woe be to the driver that has a slow “rise time” as he enters a freeway!)

    An even more egregious example is Mexico, where bibery and corruption are rampant. Example: I had an associate of mine visiting a customer’s plant near Tijuana, when he ended up lying on his belly in the road with cuffs on (with no justification, from what I saw) during a traffic stop … until the police conversed with one of the plant personeel that was with him. Then, my associate was uncuffed, and instructed to (1) drop $30 into a bag placed on the police car door, and (2) don’t draw attention by looking at the cop in the car. He found out that the going rates for this kind of stuff was $10 for local cops, $30 for the state cops (which he of course had already found out about), and $100 for the federales.

    If that is indicative of how Mexico “does the people’s business”, it’s no wonder so many of them want to get into America … by any available means.

    What I am saying is that sometimes, to achieve the intended objectives of the law, you may have to go around it … for it is subject to human failure on the part of its enforcers, and can be turned against you.

    That is what justifies the occasional need for someone to blow the whistle, as you talked about over at SMASH’s yesterday (BTW, his site appears to be down today). And just as I said, that is a double-edged sword … for the law is deisgned to mitigate the considerable risks of independent action, by providing a check-and-balance to such action.

    However, there are times where that risk must be taken … that you must rise to defend your rights, even in the face of the law. It is risky to do so, for in going beyond the law you also go beyond its structural protections regarding the benefit of the doubt; if you are wrong, you’re error is exposed for the world to see, if you are right, your accuracy is exposed the same way.

    In most localities, a criminal doesn’t have to shoot a gun to get shot, then see his shooter exonerated for defending himself … all he has to do is wave something that looks like it at the shooter.

    As the Duelfer Report, and history since 1991, has shown, Saddam and his duplicity (both ways — repeatedly obstructing inspections, and acting in ways that left an impression that he did have WMD) was waving what looked like a gun at the world … and his history told the world that, if he had it, he would either use it, or pass it to the geopolitical equvalents of Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris for their purposes.

    On several occasions, he did point it at America (1993 WTC bombings, the attempt to assassinate Bush 41, the harassment over the no-fly zones) … but the entites threatened greatest by this gun were Israel, his neighbors, and (by extention) the entire global economy … not just rich American oil barons.

    And, unlike individuals in rights-respecting nations, governments (and Saddam & Sons were the government) are not entitled to Miranda warnings and ironclad presumptions of innocence. They are instead viewed with a healthy skepticism.

    Saddam’s demise was brought upon himself, by waving that gun … not by the “violations of law” you allege my President perpetrated.

    911 showed us that we could no longer be assured that we’d see the storm clouds of war form, before a “bolt from the blue” struck us with lethal results. The threat environment and its immediacy was recognized that day for what it really is … however, the law you wish to use in a “high-tech lynching” of my President has not caught up with that reality … and it was not going to be changee fast enough to reliably mitigate these kinds of threats in the near term.

    If whistleblowers are sometimes an asset to a society, then my President is a whistleblower on a global scale … and more, for he acted to rectifiy a situation that would have INEVITIBLY grown in both lethality and probability of use, knowing what history has shown us about leaders who are as dedicated to totalitarian dominance like Saddam & Sons were and Islamofascism is.

  4. The problem that I think you are both trying to address might be restated in terms of five questions:

    1. Is there a negative correlation between the spread of WMD technologies and the stability of modern civilization?

    2. If the answer to question one is yes, can measures short of war to control the spread of dangerous technologies succeed in every case?

    3. If the answer in some cases is no, is it possible that the costs to the world of submitting to the judgment of the U.N. Security Council (regarding whether to go to war to control WMDs) could be greater than the costs to the world of one or more nations disregarding the Council and going to war without its mandate?

    4. Would question three be answered differently if (a) the WMD threat is confirmed in advance to be real and (b) military action is so competent in its planning and execution that it succeeds and there is no further resistance in the country attacked?

    5. Is it better to treat the world order as fundamentally viable and in need only of having WMD leaks plugged? Or will the trend of global modernization increasingly stress the ability of the existing nation-state world order to contain WMD technologies?

    It is my impression that conservatives would say yes to question one, probably no to two, definitely yes to three, no to both parts of question four, and yes to the first part of question five. Liberals would say yes to question one, possibly no to two, definitely no to three, no to both parts of four, and yes to the second part of question five.

    I would be interested to know whether you would agree that these are the questions that need to be asked and if you would answer them differently.

  5. I’ll only have time to answer #1 today — my wife and I are traveling to NYC tonight for the weekend. I will address the others as soon as I can, though.

    Is there a negative correlation between the spread of WMD technologies and the stability of modern civilization?

    In my view, not necessarily … in fact, the spread of the technologies is a double-edged sword, because so many of them are dual-use. When used peacefully and properly, they enhance our civilization. Think nuclear power, and modern pesticides … vs. suitcase nukes and VX.

    The real correlation is not the spread of the technologies themselves, but where they spread. The problems start when leaders who wish to establish/maintain/expand totalitarian control, and are uninhibited by any checks-and-balances, gain access to these technologies and weaponize them.

    Rights-respecting nations, OTOH, are no threat, even when they access these technologies, for they see more benefit in concentrating upon their peaceful uses … and they have structural checks-and-balances to prevent capricious actions on the part of their leadership.

    Just as I believe that the TSA is wrongheaded for concentrating their efforts on my nail clippers, focusing on the spread of these technologies only deals with the problems of WMD indirectly. The real problem is the characteristics of the leadership that has access to those technologies.

    To coin a phrase, WMD doesn’t kill people … totalitarians kill people.

  6. Now for question 2 …

    I do think that many conflicts can be stopped short of war; the end of the Cold War showed us that.

    However, one must be ready to CONFRONT the perpetrators of totalitarianism with the credible threat of force … and “credible” means prepared and willing to use it. They have no real incentive to change their course, otherwise.

    There are a few in positions of power, though, who are so irrational that they will never listen to reason … they are either fanatics who are willing to kill themselves and their own people to further their cause, or meglomaniacal gamblers like Saddam & Sons — who thought that the world would respond with the same empty talk it always had (until March 2003).

    With such as these, the use of force is inevitible … and the sooner the better, before they grow any further. It is my view that we can reliably determine where the problem entities are — before their evil spills outside their borders.

    The mistake we made many times since WWII is the replacement of confrontation with negotiation when dealing with totalitarian entities. Negotiation assumes that all parties are acting in good faith … an attirbute that the totalitarians consistently lack. They instead see negotiation as “war by other means”, and good faith on the part of their adversary as an exploitable weakness … unless there is a credible threat of force to keep them honest.

    Confrontation is distasteful and risky in the eyes of those who believe that we have somehow advanced as a global civilization beyond the need to wage war … but they are basing their disgust and fear upon a false premise, and as a result leave free nations open to exploitation by totalitarians when their viewpoint is turned into policy.

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