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February 28, 2005

Just War Series - Proportionality

Summary and Outline:

Introduction to Just War Theory

I. Recourse to War - jus ad bellum

  1. Just Cause
  2. Competent Authority
  3. Comparative Justice
  4. Right Intention
  5. Last Resort
  6. Probability of Success
  7. Proportionality
II. Conduct in War - jus in bello
  1. Discrimination
  2. Proportionality
In this post we will discuss proportionality as it relates to the decision to go to war. Proportionality is also a criterion for actions taken in war. First we will consider them separately, and then how they are related.

Proportionality in the decision to go to war means "...that the damage to be inflicted and the costs incurred by war must be proportionate to the good expected by taking up arms." (all quotes Martino unless otherwise noted).

In an older time the discussion of proportionality in this context centered around reasons for going to war that are usually considered unjust today; pure retribution, "vindictiveness," or collecting debts in default. Much of the discussion had to do with punishment; does the good that would come from punishing the unjust outweigh the damage that would be incurred? Further, only the damage done and lives lost on "your side" were considered; no one cared much what happened to the enemy population.

In modern times, we in the West truly consider whether the damage done and lives lost on both sides justify the good that we hope will result.

Defending against Aggression

It may seem obvious to some of us that "of course we should defend against an invading force." And sometimes this is the case. As we shall see, however, the issue gets complicated.

After all, the cost of defending against aggression can be quite large. Consider the number killed in the two world wars of the twentieth century:

World War I: 5 million military and 3.5 million civilians for the allies, (3.3 million military and 8-9 million civilians for the Central Powers).

World War II: 12 million military and 24 million civilians for the allies ( 6.3 million military and 1 million civilians for the Axis powers) 52 million military and civilian total for both sides.

Yet even the 52 million deaths of the Second World War would have paled beside a nuclear war involving the West, the Soviet Union, and China (which, depending on the timeframe, would probably have been dragged in). Hundreds of millions if not a billion or so lives would have been lost. Would it have been worth it?

Many decided no. "Better Red than Dead" may have been the rallying cry of the far left, but it found sympathizers across the political spectrum. Political leaders in the West convinced the voters to allow them to build tens of thousands of nuclear weapons during the years of the Cold War. Given the frightening aspect of nuclear war, one might say we were lucky to have gotten away with it for so long. Certainly, by the 1980's, the decision to beef up our defenses with the addition of intermediate range missiles (Pershing II and Ground Launched Cruise Missiles (GLCMs)) was highly controversial and provoked a large "peace" movement. That planners faced determined opposition despite a pre-existing Soviet arsenal of highly capable SS-20s speaks volumes as to the perceived cost of war versus a status akin to "Findlandization."

The Cost of Not Resisting

But in order for the above discussion to be meaningful, we need to consider the cost of not resisting aggression. A Europe run by Hitler's Germany is too horrible to imagine, and once he got nuclear weapons and long-range missiles... one trembles at the thought. A Pacific Empire run by the perpetuators of the Rape of Nanking is not a pleasant thought either.

What if the United States, or at least Western Europe, had peacefully submitted to the Soviet Union? To get an idea of what we would have been in for, let's see how many of their own people communist governments killed. The Black Book of Communism states that USSR killed some 65 million, China 35 million, and the "lesser" communist countries a few million more. The mind boggles at the statistics.

The point, of course, is that we would have suffered terribly had they taken us over peacefully. We may well have ended up both red and dead.

One must beware of a strict "cost-accounting" approach. Quality of life, or values, mattesr too. Who would accept life as a slave by any of the aforementioned tyrannies?

Thus, even fighting a nuclear war with one or another of the communist tyrannies meets this test of proportionality.

When it's Not So Simple

Still, it may be said that the above examples are obvious. It isn't always this simple.

The Falklands War - In 1982 the military junta that ruled Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands. The Falklands were small islands of the Argintinian east coast than were owned by the UK, and on which lived several thousand Britains (The Argentineans called them the Malvinas). Given that the Argentinean junta was no Hitlerian regime, that the islanders would have been allowed to leave peacefully, and that much blood might be lost in an attempt to retake the islands, one may argue that the decision of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher did not meet the proportionality test. Indeed, had the British lost more ships public opinion might well have turned against the war. At what point is it not worth it anymore? I believe that the war was worth it, and that the British did the right thing. My point here is simply to pose question; at what price?

The "Breakaway" province - The American Civil war is the obvious example, but what about Great Britain and Northern Ireland, or Spain and it's Basque region? In the latter two examples the provinces have not quite broken off, and there are plenty in each who want to stay with the home country, but at what point does it not become worth it anymore? I'll not try to answer these questions here, as I have neither time nor sufficient knowledge, but here again my purpose is to provide a framework for thought and discussion.

Syria and Iran - Today we see them aiding the insurgent terrorists in Iraq. Much of the debate over whether we should attack Syria or Iran can be framed in terms of proportion; would the death and destruction, not to mention the risk of creating a wider war, be worth the benefits of success?

Afghanistan - If we had simply been after a small band of ragtag terrorists capable of one attack only, if our invasion had been modeled on that of the Soviets, and if we had thus caused tremendous damage and killed lots of people, one might say that we had not met the test of proportionality. That the reality has been different in every particular means that we have in fact met this test of proportionality

Iraq - Did our invasion pass this test of Just War Theory? I think it did. The military invasion was a magnificent work whereby we destroyed the enemy forces in the minimum time and ended major combat operations in the shortest possible time. This lightning attack, coupled with the careful use of precision weapons, kept casualties on both sides, and damage to a minimum. Obviously we killed many enemy soldiers (regulars and irregulars), and just as obviously civilians were killed also. By any historical standard, however, the war was and is a model of proportionality. Even this current war against the insurgent terrorists, when cities such as Fallujah suffer much damage during operations, pales besides historical examples. It passes this first test of Proportionality because the good that has come from our work is before our eyes every day: the announcement by Libya that they would now truly give up their WMD (and by all accounts they have), the elections in Iraq, new elections in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, the announcement that opposition candidates would be allowed in Egypt, and I'm sure many other examples I can't think of at this time.

Next Up - Discrimination, which is the first test of Part II, Conduct in War

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February 27, 2005

It's Catching On

First we had elections in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and the Palestinian Authority, (however imperfect), and now Egypt:

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, in a surprise reversal, yesterday took a significant step toward democratic reform in the world's most populous Arab country by ordering that presidential challengers be allowed on the ballot this fall.

Mr. Mubarak made the announcement in a nationally televised speech, surprising even some in his inner circle, one source close to the presidency said.

Touting "freedom and democracy," Mr. Mubarak told an audience at Menoufia University, north of Cairo, that he had instructed parliament and the consultative Shura Council to amend the constitution's Article 76 on presidential elections.
It seems like this democracy thing is catching on.

Yes, I know; the elections are far from perfect, and there is a long way to go in each of the aforementioned countries. It is also hard to establish cause and effect, so one cannot "prove" that the invasion of Iraq was the impetus. Still, I am hopeful, and it would be a stretch to say that the invasion and successful elections had nothing to do with what's happening.

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February 25, 2005

Was a Japanese Invasion Possible?

One of the central theses of In Defense of Internment: The case for Racial Profiling in World War II and the War on Terror by Michelle Malkin was that after Pearl Harbor policy makers had reasonable cause to fear a Japanese invasion of the West Coast.

The central thesis of this book is that the national security measures taken during World War II were justifiable, given what was known and not known at the time. It is unfair to judge the decison-makers of the time as though they had all the knowledge that we do today.

We know now that Japan would not invade or launch a major attack on the West Coast. We know now that the Battle of Midway of June 1942 would be a decisive victory for the United States, and a turning point in the war.... We know now that Allied forces would defeat Hitler's forces in Europe. We know now that we would develop the atomic bomb before our enemies. None of this was known at the time.

We've seen much second guessing of the invasion of Iraq. Many act as if they knew all along that Iraq did not have stockpiles of WMD, that there would be an insurgency, on and on. Most of them are completely disingenuous.

We need to consider the situation that policy makers faced after Pearl Harbor in light of what they knew at the time also. The purpose of this post is solely to consider whether an invasion or attack by the Japanese of the West Coast was possible and whether U.S. policy-makers had cause to believe it was possible. I will discuss the issue of internment and profiling in later posts.

Japanese Objectives

The reason the Japanese fought the war in the first place was to secure access to natural resources. Their initial attacks focused on Manchuria (1932) and China (1937). Both of these provoked U.S. outrage, eventually leading to sanctions being placed on Japan. Japanese planners believed that to secure natural resources, they needed hegemony throughout the western pacific. They sought to achieve this through the creation of a "Greater Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere". In reality, of course, this entity was to be run entirely by Japan, with the subject nations they conquered ruled in a brutal fashion.

Japan saw the U.S. Navy, and U.S. bases, as the primary threat to their goals. British bases were a threat also, though to a lesser degree. The point is that they attacked our fleet at Pearl Harbor to rid themselves of this perceived threat. Why, therefore, would they have wanted to attack the continental United States?

Why Attack the Continental United States

In order to achieve their goals Japan had no reason to occupy any part of the continental United States. They did not even have to occupy Hawaii.

However, one may argue that in order to completely neutralize the threat posed by the United States, and force us to sue for peace, they needed to destroy or severely damage west coast facilities. At the time the United States had, in addition to the obvious port facilities themselves, several aircraft manufacturing plants within easy range of carrier-borne aircraft that might sail up and down our coast. These were centered in Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego.

As I mentioned, attacks on our West Coast would not only achieve physical damage, but might prompt Washington to sue for peace.

But Could They Have Done It?

Did the Japanese have the ability to conduct raids on our West Coast, and more importantly, did U.S. policy-makers believe that they did?

This is a complicated issue and I won't be able to cover everything in this post.

It is said that amateurs discuss strategy, pros discuss logistics. While perhaps overstated, this aphorism does have much truth in it, for the question of whether Japan could have conducted raids along our coast depends on an answer to this question.

Many at the time seemed to believe that actual invasion by troops was a possiblilty. The facts are that it would have been just about impossible for Japan to have carried this out. Let's briefly go over some principles for amphibious attacks.

The general rule is that the larger the invasion force, the closer (to the target) one needs their jump-off base. In other words, you can travel a long way with a small invasion force, but only a short distance with a large one. We needed a huge force to attack Normandy, and it was assembled in Britain, only a few short miles away. No way this force could have traveled from the U.S., for example. Likewise, the entire rational for our invasion of Okinawa in 1945 was to secure a base for the invasion of Japan proper. We could not have sailed the necessary fleet from our bases in the Marianas, for example.

Likewise, the various U.S. invasions of islands in the Pacific (Iwo Jima, Guadalcanal, Tarawa, etc) were relatively small-scale affairs, at least when compared to D-Day in Normandy, or to a possible invasion of Japan proper. Therefore we could sail our invasion fleet for some distance before attacking.

Most of this was known at least in theory during the initial days of the war. Even with a jump-off point of Hawaii it is hard to see how the Japanese could have invaded the continental U.S. However, there was much "concern: (really bordering on hysteria) in the country following Pearl Harbor, even among otherwise sober policy makers. Some of them can therefore be forgiven for imagining that Japanese troops might land on our beaches.

As for coastal raids, that is another matter. In order to have carries out these raids the Japanese would have needed to occupy Pearl Harbor. The object of their December 7 attack was not to do this, but to simply cripple our fleet so they could take over the western Pacific, which they did over the course of the next six months. They did not invade Hawaii at the time because they lacked the logistical capability to do so, and because the US still had substantial forces in the western Pacific.

Midway - In June of 1942 Japan sent a large naval and troop force to occupy the island of Midway. Midway is so named because it lies midway between Japan and the continental United States. Their objective was to occupy Midway, and use it for a base for further attacks on Pearl Harbor. They had not developed any actual plans as of yet for invasion of Hawaii, it was on their minds.

As it was we won the battle of Midway in what was one of the most dramatic episodes of the war. We now see it as the turning point of the Pacific war.

Yet had the Japanese won the battle of Midway our situation at Pearl Harbor would have been almost untenable. We lost most of our aircraft and many surface ships in the Dec 7 attack. We only had three carriers in the Pacific, to the Japan's nine (they lost one at Coral Sea for those of you why are counting). Assuming a Japanese victory at Midway, we would likely be down most or all 3 of our carriers, with the Japanese retaining most of theirs. The Japanese had a huge superiority in all categories: aircraft (land and carrier-based), aircraft carriers, and surface ships (battleships, cruisers, and destroyers).

Had the Japanese been able to occupy Pearl Harbor they would have also been able to further consolidate their position in the western Pacific. They could eventually have mounted raids on our West Coast. It would have still been a very difficult task, given the distance from their supply depots in Japan. But from what I know of all this I believe that it would have been possible. U.S. policy planners knew it too.

Did Japan have Plans to Attack the West Coast?

No they did not. But we did not know this, so it does not matter.

True, we had broken the Japanese diplomatic code (MAGIC), and had partially broken their naval code (purple) but these intercepts did not tell us everything (the did not directly warn of the attack on Pearl Harbor or attack on Midway, for example), so it would have been foolish to assume that just because something was not mentioned in the cables it was not planned.

My Conclusion

No it's not based on a any specific research, just what I have learned over the past twenty-five years of reading about this stuff.

I conclude that U.S. policy planners had good cause to fear Japanese coastal raids, which I define as attacks by carrier-borne aircraft, and shelling of West Coast targets by surface ships sailing off-short. Actual invasion was not really a practical possibility, but I am not totally sure if planners realized this, given the attitude of near-panic of the time.

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February 24, 2005

Syrian Agent Caught

Earlier this week I said that we ought to strongly consider limited military action against Syria if they don't stop aid to the terrorists in Iraq. In case anyone needs any more proof, here you go

Iraqi state television aired a video yesterday showing what the U.S.-funded channel said was the confession of a captured Syrian officer, who said he trained Iraqi terrorists to behead people and build car bombs to attack American and Iraqi troops.

He also said the terrorists practiced beheading animals to train for decapitating hostages.

Later, Al Iraqiya aired another round of interviews with men it said were Sudanese and Egyptians who also trained in Syria to carry out attacks in Iraq.
Iran is one thing. It is a large country about to get the bomb. Attacking them would have huge repurcussions, as they could retaliate by attacking shipping in the Persian Gulf. But Syria must be put on notice that they need to shape up or face the consequences.

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Worse and Worse at the UN

The situation at the United Nations just goes from bad to worse. While Oil-for-Food is perhaps the best reported scandal, it is only the tip of the iceberg. There are several sex scandals that are almost unbelieveale.

On of the worst UN horror stories took place in the Congo. The allegations are that UN peacekeeping troops raped literally hundreds of women.

Steve Harrigan is currently leading a Fox News team in the Congo:

Our team here in the Congo found another group of girls who say they have been raped by U.N. peacekeepers. We've been interviewing four or five a day. It is easy to get hardened or callous after three of four days of it. The first girl, age 11, sat down and told her story. It was mesmerizing. She said she was going downn to the lake to wsh cloghes when she was taken. She sat in the chair and spoke Swahili in a soft voice. After 10 or 12 girls it was hard to take in.
I'll bet. It's hard enough to read about it.

It's your tax dollars at work, too. Since 2000, the U.S. has contribued some $759 million to MUNOC (U.N. Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo).

Michelle Malkin is all over the story. In a Feb 16 column, she tells us that

Fifty U.N. peacekeepers and U.N. civilian officers face an estimated 150 allegations of sexual exploitation and rape in the Congo alone. Last Friday, ABC's 20/20 program aired a devastating expose by investigative reporter Brian Ross highlighting some of the worst alleged crimes.

The accused include Didier Bourguet, a United Nations senior official from France charged with running an Internet pedophile ring in the Congo. According to ABC News and others, pictures taken from his personal computer contained thousands of photos of him with hundreds of girls. Police say Bourguet had turned his bedroom, plastered with mirrors and rigged with remote-control cameras, into a stealth porn studio. He was caught in a sting operation while allegedly preparing to rape a 12-year-old girl.

But UN General Secretary Kofi Annan is aggressively investigating and punishing those responsible, right? Well, not exactly.
Annan's spinners would have us believe that the problem of U.N. sex predators is confined to a tiny band of rogues and locals beyond the control of headquarters. But according to Bourguet's lawyer, there was an entire network of U.N. personnel who had sex with underage girls in Congo and the Central African Republic. Investigators are now digging into claims of U.N. infiltration by organized pedophiles
Strategypage has some excellent background and a timeline of events. Check it out.

ABC News has done some great investigative journalism, and deserve much credit for their reporting.

Unfortunately, this sort of behavior from UN officials is nothing new. We had this in Bosnia too

In 2001, American whistleblower Kathryn Bolkovac, a Nebraska policewoman who worked for U.N. security in Bosnia, uncovered scores of sex crime allegations and prostitution rings in the Balkans involving her fellow U.N. employees. Girls were forced to dance in bars for U.N. personnel and beaten or raped, Bolkovac reported. After being fired from her job for "time sheet irregularities," she told a British tribunal that Mike Stiers, the international police task force's deputy commissioner, flippantly dismissed victims of human trafficking as "just prostitutes."

Then there's U.N. refugee chief Ruud Lubbers. Earlier this week he resigned over allegations of sexual harassment of a female employee.


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Symposium Question

Refugee Obligations

From the newly wedded Jeremy at Pacetown comes this weeks Homespun Symposium question. By way of background, Jeremy refers us to the Council of Sudanese Churches here in the U.S. and their efforts to aid those in Darfur.

What moral obligations, if any, do Sudanese emigrants, now in the United States, have to aid those who remain in Darfur?

The entire issue of "obligation" is something that we hear in the United States, too. It's usually portrayed somewhat differently, but the issue is the same; if a person works there way out of a poor neighborhood and achieves success, do they then have an obligation to "give something back" to that community from which they came?

The issue of "obligations" is all the same, whether it's about a person from Sudan or a person in the U.S.

I'm not really sure I have an answer here, so comments are most welcome.

Some say no, there is no obligation. The idea of "giving something back" implies that you took something, which is false. Since you didn't take anything, there is nothing to give back.

Others say that this is selfish. You should work to improve the lot of those who for whatever reason could not escape their country or neighborhood.

My initial inclination is to split the difference and say that you should, if you could, do something to aid those who are not as well off as you. We all have an obligation in this regard. Whether it is time or money is up to you, but I do believe that all of us should do something.

On the other hand, I'm wary of those who demand specific obligations from us. And indeed there is nothing to "give back" when, far from taking something in the first place, you escaped a bad neighborhood or country.

So I'll say that in general, yes, we do have an obligation to help those not as well off as us. But no, you have no specific obligations.

But I'm open to change so let me know what you think.

And lastly, I guess I'm assuming you're familiar with the situation in Sudan. If not, go to Jeremy's site, as he's got some good links.

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February 23, 2005

Iraqi Heroes

Some of the bravest men in the world are those who volunteer to serve in the new Iraqi police forces. Today's Washington Times has a story about them that is a must-read.

Terrorists routinely drag Iraqi policemen from their work or homes for grisly executions, or send car bombs to their stations to blow them apart.

But the recruits keep lining up for one of the most dangerous jobs in the world, putting their lives on the line to rebuild their shattered nation.

"If today they kill a police officer, tomorrow there will be more recruits, so they have done nothing," said one veteran police officer who asked not to be named.
Dozens are assassinated each week, and 1,500 have been killed in the past two years. Their recruiting centers are bombed by the terrorists, yet the recruits continue to line up.

Armed largely with AK-47s, flak jackets, and helmets, they ride around in pickups and cars. They do not have the armor of a Bradley or Striker fighing vehicle to protect them. Their training is short and to the point. Then it's onto the streets.

Certainly many join simply because they cannot find jobs. Many have quit in the face of continued terrorism. But slowly but surely, their ranks continue to grow.

Was it really much different with our early patriots? I'm no expert on the Revolutionary War, but I do know that many soldiers in the Continental Army left when their enlistments ran out or when pay was not forthcoming. That there was still a British army to fight did not seem to matter to many.

They are all heroes, and deserve our praise.

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February 21, 2005

The Strategic Offensive III:

The Next Step

Last August I posted an article titled "The Strategic Offensive I: What We have Achieved in the War on Terror" on this site. In it I made the case that by invading Iraq we had achieved far more than what most people seemed to think.

What we have done is nothing short of revolutionary. We have gone to the heart of the enemy camp and destroyed his headquarters. We have seized his leaders and forced the others to flee for their lives. We have grabbed them by the throat and are slowly but surely strangling them.

No more are we probing the enemy listening posts and attacking selected, weakly defended targets. No more are we simply skirting around the periphery.

For a new Iraq, secure in it's borders and with a new spirit of freedom, will shine a light to the countries in the rest of the Arab and Muslim world. That light has already revealed those regimes to be decadent, corrupt, and uncaring towards their own citizens.

The theses of the article were threefold:
  1. We must strike directly into the heart of the enemy camp, and not be content with "contaiment or piddling around the edges
  2. By invading and thus seizing the strategic offensive "...we have forced them to fight where we want to fight, at a time and place of our choosing."
  3. This will result in a new democratic Iraq, which will in turn spread democracy throughout the region.
During the Cold War we had little choice but to adopt a strategy of containment. Now we have the opportunity to act before our enemies get nuclear weapons.

Not to toot my own horn (at least not too loud) but I believe that the recent elections in Iraq, and other events around the Middle East have vindicated me.

Writing in the Feb 28 print edition of National Review (a digital subscription is required for on-line viewing), historian Paul Johnson seems to agree:

By taking up the leadership of the War on Terror, and by insisting that America would act unilaterally if necessary, Bush showed he was eager to take full advantage of America's vastly increased relative power. The results are now coming in. In both Afghanistan and Iraq, fair and free elections have been held for the first time. What a half a century of exhortation had failed to do, the judicious use of military force achieved in two years — to bring democracy to the Muslim Middle East.

In the process, America obliged the leaders of international terrorism to concentrate all their efforts on preventing democracy from emerging in Iraq. By inflicting defeat on them there — where they were strongest — U.S. armed forces have dealt a blow to terrorist morale from which it may never recover. The families of American and Allied soldiers killed in Iraq should take comfort from this. The operation has succeeded. Terrorism is now on the retreat, and countless innocent lives may be saved in consequence.

Certainly I do not imagine that Mr. Johnson reads The Redhunter (although a little fantasy every now and then can't be so bad, can it?).

The results of the election, and the way the Iraqi's have handled themselves, is encouraging. No one group got over 50% of the vote, and thus enough power to rule by themselves. There have been many reports of how the Shia have "reached out" to the Sunnis, recognizing that they must be brought into decision making. There is evidence that some or many in the Sunni leadership have seen that they made a mistake by staying out of the elections. Many average Sunnis would have voted were it not for fear of terrorists. Indeed, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani's own approved electoral list included 30 Sunnis.

Far from provoking a civil war, Zarqawi seems to have provoked cooperation. This alone will be his undoing. For once the Iraqis have a government by them and for them, they will fight for it.

That Arabs in neighboring countries are taking notice is much in evidence. David Pryce Jones (same NR print edition) tells us that

Iraq's version of a round table is already having positive repercussions. In Beirut, Rami G. Khouri, one of the most prominent and articulate Arab commentators, writes that the sight of Iraqis enthusiastically choosing their leaders from among a wide range of options is causing many Arabs to reassess the political implications of developments inside Iraq. Except for the usual collaborators and quislings, the Lebanese actively want an end to the Syrian occupation of their country, and may use the elections as a means of showing that they too can choose leaders able to hand their state to them.
Even in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia we are seeing the beginnings of reform;
Bahrain is to hold legislative elections this year. As for Saudi Arabia, it takes pride in maintaining its Muslim identity and absolute rule, but even there the retrograde royal family has agreed to hold municipal elections, limited, to be sure, because women will have no vote and a proportion of candidates are to be appointed rather than elected. Still, nothing like it has ever taken place. Nor has anything ever taken place in Morocco like the commission now trying to establish the extent of injustice and torture in that country's concentration camps under the previous ruler.
All of this is very encouraging. To be sure, we're not out of the woods yet. Much could go wrong to thwart our plans.

And two of the things that could go wrong are meddling by Iran and Syria.

What to do Next

Some, like Johnson, think that the best way to deal with Iran and Syria is to eliminate the threat from North Korea first. His rational is that since it has been proven that they supplied uranium hexaflouride to Libya, they may supply it to others as well. Uranium hexaflouride can be enriched into weapons-grade levels by use of centrafuges, and is thus uniquely dangerous material.

Either way, the point is that we need to stay on the offensive and not sit back. That Iraq has proved harder than expected must not deter us. Although our ground forces may be stretched thin, our Navy and Air Force do not have much to do. We need to make use of all of our resources before it is too late.

North Korea

Some advocate immediate air strikes on North Korea. I am wary of this, as the DPRK could easily destroy the South Korean capital with the massive amounts of artillery that they currently have hidden in caves just north of the border. The resulting damage would be tremendous. While there may well come a time when this step is necessary, I think it premature to act now.


There are several problems with regard to Iran. One is that although the people there seem to like the United States and oppose their government, they don't want us to attack militarily. It is problamatic as to whether air strikes will significantly set back their nuclear program, and may turn the people against us as well.

However, if we continue along the current path of endless negotiations and limited sanctions, we are only delaying the inevitable. While the people may revolt, it is too thin a reed upon which to place much hope. We need stronger action.

We should strongly consider a naval blockade, perhaps of selective items, perhaps of everything, including oil.

Tough? Yes. Risky? Certainly. Will we have the support of the "world community"? No. But which is worse, these or a nuclear-armed Iran? You know my answer.


While Syria has no nuclear program, they are armed with chemical and perhaps biological weapons. The real threat from them, however, is their aid to terrorists within Iraq. This is intollerable and must be made to stop. Beefing up border security will not be enough.

Syria has a relatively weak military. They have a small army and air force, and most analysis I read does not think much of their abilities.

We need to inform Bashir Assad, the current dictator/strongman (he doesn't deserve to be called by whatever his title really is) that he stops his aid to terrorists or else. And that "or else" is air attacks on his country. At first we should hit suspected terrorist camps, but as many are probably unknown to us (or hidden within populated areas), we should hit some of his bases as well.

Again, tough stuff, I know. Yes it will be an "escallation," with risks. But if we do not stabilize Iraq the game is up anyway. Assad's position is not strong, and he knows it. I believe that he can be made to see reason, unlike his cohorts in Iran and North Korea.

Saudi Arabia

They are not direct threats in the same way that the others are. But for far too long we have tolerated their export of radical Wahhabist ideology to many countries, including the United States. They did recently hold elections for municipal government. Granted, they were very imperfect elections, with no women voting, and only approved candidates on the ballot. But they did occur, and it is a good start. We must hold their feet to the fire on this, and especially on ending their support to clerics who preach Wahhabi hate ideology. Business as usual must end.

Staying on the Offensive

Whatever we do, we must not simply sit back and think that the business-as-usual of negotiations and sanctions will work. That Iraq has tied up more of our ground forces for longer than expected must not deter us. No I am not arguing for new military adventures, mainly for judicious use of force.

The choice is not between a stable status quo and stirring things up. The choice is between taking calculated risks or living in a future that is much worse.

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February 20, 2005

The Jimmy Carter

The submarine, that is.

Yes, our newest and most powerful submarine is none other than the U.S.S. Jimmy Carter.

The USS Jimmy Carter joined the Navy's fleet yesterday as the most heavily armed submarine ever built, and as the last of the Seawolf class of attack subs that the Pentagon ordered during the Cold War's final years.

The 453-foot, 12,000-ton submarine has a 50-torpedo payload and eight torpedo tubes. And, according to intelligence experts, it can tap undersea cables and eavesdrop on the communications passing through them.

It can reach speeds of more than 45 knots and carry Tomahawk cruise missiles and anti-submarine torpedoes, and it is engineered to be quieter than the other two Seawolves, making it better for surveillance.

What a country.

You do have to wonder what those guys in the Navy must be thinking. Most of them are, well, not exactly fans of the sort of politics that Jimmy Carter represents. Lest we forget, he invited Michael Moore to sit with him at the Democratic National Convention last summer. ugh.

And for the jokes you've all been waiting for but didn't want to admit it
(taken from a survey around the Internet)

Perhaps it will also lust after other subs in its heart

Wonder if it'll attack the US like it's namesake?

Hmmm, I wonder what type of military equipment they could name after slick Willy?

Odds are it'll sink right out of the gate, just like his presidency...

This will be the first submarine to beach itself in the middle of some Iranian desert somewhere..

In a tribute to President Carter and his accomplishments The sub will immediately be given to Kim Jong Ill as part of a new "appeasement for dictator" strategies.

Does the sub come equipped with a white flag?

CAPTAIN: "Seaman, load that torpedo!"
SEAMAN: "Sir, I'd like to...but I have this feeling of malaise..."

The good news here is that there will not be a super carrier with the name Jimmy Carter

Let us not forget the Carter Administration's greatest accomplishment: the Reagan Administration.

Then there are its unique missiles:

--- I was actually going to write a serious piece about submarine warfare but got lost in the jokes. If you really want to know about Navy subs, go here. But if you're like me and want even more humor, go here.

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February 18, 2005

Right Analysis

Victor Davis Hanson has it all right in his analysis on the War on Terror in general and Iraq in particular. He provides the historical context and background that is so lacking in much that passes for informed writing. We know the symptoms;

Reading the pages of foreign-policy journals, between the long tracts on Bush’s “failures” and those on neoconservative “arrogance,” one encounters mostly predictions of defeat in Iraq, laced with calls for phased withdrawal and — throughout — resounding criticism of the “botched” U.S. occupation and innuendos of petroleum imperialism.

Platitudes follow: “We can’t just leave now,” followed by no real advice on how a fascist society can be jump-started into a modern liberal republic. After all, there is no government handbook titled, “Operation 1A: How to remove a Middle East fascist regime, reconstruct the countryside, and hold the first elections in the nation’s history — all within two years.” The idea of perfection is always the enemy of improvement, as if American-sponsored reform were no better than what preceded it under a Noriega, Milosevic, the Taliban — or Saddam.

He calls them "The Impatient Caucus," and asks "Have we forgotten that winning a war takes time?" Apparently some have.

(Note: to view the article in its entirety you must be a paid subscriber to National Review)

This used to exasperate Alexander Haig, too. I recall watching some TV show where he'd be a guest, and eventually he'd start almost shouting at his opponent "You don't know any history!"

Hanson writes about how the critics try to have it both ways. A few of his examples will suffice;

From the oscillating analyses of Iraq, the following impossible picture emerges from our intelligentsia: It was a fatal error to disband the Iraqi army. That reckless act led to lawlessness and a loss of confidence in the Americans’ ability to restore immediate order after Saddam’s fall. Yet it was also a fatal error to keep some Baathists in the newly constituted army. They were corrupt and wished reform to fail — witness the Fallujah Brigade that either betrayed us or aided the enemy. So we turned off the Sunnis by disbanding the army — and yet somehow turned off the Shiites by keeping some parts of it.

Elections should have been held earlier; no, they must be now delayed since they come too soon when the country is still unsecured. No, this is the proper time after all. If 100 percent participate, then it is a sham and reminiscent of Saddam’s forced turnout; if 55 percent vote, sectarian violence is inevitable, as if such similarly dismal participation rates in the United States prompt violence or reveal illegitimacy. The Sunnis will spoil the democratic experiment — as if 20 percent of the population who cannot or will not stop the violence have the right to impair the hard work of the other 80 percent who are eager for reform, ready to brave fire to vote, and in possession of most of the country’s petroleum, ports, and pipelines.

We were after cheap oil, but gas prices somehow climbed almost immediately after we went in. We snubbed the U.N., but the U.N. — hand-in-glove with others — helped to loot Iraq. Democracy won’t work with these people, but somehow we are seeing three successive elections in the wake of the Taliban, Arafat, and Saddam.

On and on it goes. It would be funny if it weren't so serious.

We have a tendency, I think, to view wars in which we have been successful as glorious crusades in which we all linked arms and marched off to defeat the enemy. Were that it was the truth. While this attitude is symptomatic of the Revolution and Civil Wars, never is it as pervasive as it is with the granddaddy of all wars, World War II.

We're all familiar with Pearl Harbor. Many of us know about the Bataan Death March and Wake Island. But didn't we turn things around at Midway? Yes, but our mistakes were not limited to the first six months of the war.

Most of our armored vehicles were deathtraps, improved only days before the surrender. American torpedoes in the Pacific were often duds. Unescorted daylight bombing proved a disaster, but continued unabated. Amphibious assaults like Anzio and Tarawa were bloodbaths, plagued by terrible planning and command. The recapture of Manila was clumsy and far too costly. Okinawa was the worst of all operations, and yet was begun just over four months before the surrender — without careful planning for kamikazes, who were shortly to kill nearly 5,000 American sailors. Patton, the one general who could have ended the western war in 1944, was earlier relieved and then subordinated to an auxiliary position with near-fatal results for the drive from Normandy. Mediocrities like Mark Clark flourished and were promoted. Admiral King for far too long resisted the life-saving convoy system and thus unnecessarily sacrificed merchant ships; Admiral Bull Halsey almost lost his unprepared fleet to a storm.
If anything, Hanson doesn't go far enough. Our tanks had gasoline engines, our enemy had diesels in theirs (gasoline explodes, diesel burns. Take your pick). Fully 80% percent of the torpedoes were duds, making our submarines and torpedo bombers useless the first year or so. B-17 raids were suicidal until the arrival of the P-38 Lightning and P-51 Mustang fighters, yet we pressed ahead anyway. We never did develop an effective defense against the kamikaze, one reason our planners so feared invading the Japanese homeland. In August of 1945 Japan still had some 5,000 aircraft, and thus 5,000 kamikazes. The "storm" that Halsey drove his fleet through was a full-blown typhoon (the Pacific equivalent of a hurricane). And the action in which he did this left our landing fleet at Leyte unprotected, which would have been totally destroyed by Japanese battleships had not a few U.S. destroyers driven them off (yes you read that right).

And try this on for size: During one of the practice landings for D-Day in Normandy, several German E-Boats (their version of a PT boat) got in among our troop ships and sunk several of them. Almost 750 Americans died. In a training accident.

But weren't things better once war ended?

The war’s aftermath seemed even worse — to be overseen by an untried president who was considered an abject lightweight. Not-quite-so-collateral damage had ruined entire European cities. Europe itself nearly starved in the winter of 1945-6. Millions took to the road in mass exoduses. After spending billions to destroy Nazi Germany we had to spend billions more to rebuild it — and repair the devastation it had wrought on its neighbors. Our so-called partisan friends in Yugoslavia and Greece turned out to be hard-core Communist killers. Soon enough we learned that the most of the guerrillas in the mountains of Europe whom we had idolized, in fact, fought as much for Communism as against fascism — but never for our notion of democracy.

But at least there was clear-cut strategic success after all such sacrifice and disappointment. Oh? The Second World War started to keep Eastern Europe free of Nazis and ended up ensuring that it was enslaved by Stalinists. Poland was free neither in 1940 nor in 1946.
Don't believe that the occupation of Germany was viewed as a disaster at the time? See here, here, and here. As Hanson says, the war ended with half of Europe under the thumb of a dictator at least as bad as Hitler. That Stalin, or Khrushchev didn't grab the rest of the continent has more to do with American nuclear power and their own post-war exhaustion than anything else.

How about the atomic bomb? Wasn't the Manhattan Project an example of American know-how? Definately. The bomb, however, was built to counter a perceived threat from Germany. And oops, it turned out that they didn't have an atomic bomb project, much less an actual weapon, after all. Here's my take on how a modern day liberal Senator would have reacted.

But of course, World War II was not a failure:

Yet our greatest generation thought by and large they had done pretty well. We, in contrast, would have given up in despair in 1942, New York Times columnists and NPR pundits pontificating “I told you so” as if we would have been better off sitting out the war all along.
And so it takes time. The side that makes the fewest mistakes is the one that wins. Lincoln thought he might lose the election of 1864 because of how poorly the war was going. George Washington and other American generals presided over a series of disasters before finally defeating the British.

If you want to know what we're doing right in Iraq I can think of no better resource than Arthur Chrenkoff's "Good News from Iraq" series. As for Hanson, he explains how "our enemies are facing their own paradoxes"

The terrorists have a glaring problem: Seventy-five percent of Iraqis want elections. The Sunni clerics — who either cannot or will not stop their brethren from trying to derail the voting, through which their own cause will be defeated — wish to nullify the elections. But these Sunni appeals appear increasingly empty — almost like the Secessionists complaining that Northern voters in 1860 might imperil the Union. And no one is all that sure that there really is a purist Sunni block of millions of obstructionists, rather than just ordinary Iraqis who want to vote and are in fear of extremists who claim their allegiance. Saudi Arabia unleashed terrorists to stop democracy in Iraq — and now worries that their young Frankenstein monsters hate their creators just as much.
We're not out of the woods yet. But we are well on the road to success. Analyzing our mistakes and putting corrections into place is good. Dwelling on them to the point of all-is-gloom-and-doom is not.

The other side

Wrong Analysis is on my other blog site.

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Advice for Harvard

Christina Hoff Sommers tells us where Harvard President Lawrence Summers went wrong, and has some advice for the faculty

Summers’s mistake was to think he could talk freely about gender issues on which campus ideologues have staked out very definite positions. He had been assured that the talk was merely for provoking discussion and that it was to be off the record. But by entertaining the hypothesis of innateness, before an audience with a fair number of gender-is-a-social-construction dogmatists, he left himself vulnerable to a feminist attack. Now he has been forced to recant and atone. He has apologized not once but three times. “I was wrong to have spoken in a way that has resulted in an unintended signal of discouragement to talented girls and women.” Harvard professor Ruth Wisse has compared him to a prisoner in a Soviet show trial.

But of course Lawrence Summers is not a prisoner in a closed society. He is a powerful, intelligent man in an important leadership position, with a well-deserved reputation for being independent and courageous. It is in fact quite uncharacteristic for him to behave as he has. That he feels constrained to do so attests to the inordinate political power of the gender warriors on American campuses.

Instead of apologizing, Summers should have considered sending the Harvard Faculty Standing Committee on Women copies of John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty, with the suggestion that they read it carefully and take its teachings on open discussion to heart. As for those in his audience who style themselves “the country’s most accomplished scholars on women’s issues,” he should refer them to some elementary texts on the canons of scientific evidence.

Here here.

Note: You'll need to be a paid subcriber to National Review in order to view Dr. Sommers article in it's entirety.

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February 16, 2005

Homespun Symposium XIII

This week's question comes from Solomonia.

Do you believe there is a downside to encouraging nations to move toward being free societies? Can all nations benefit from the move from dicatorship to freedom, or are some cultures simply incapable of it and why? Might they end up worse off? Also, do you believe these shifts are always in America and the West's interests, or will we simply create democratic enemies that are worse for us than the dictators they replace?

An excellent series of questions.

I do not believe that there is a downside to encouraging nations to move towards being free societies. I also believe that all peoples are capable of it. Further, while we must expect that some democracies will not be in agreement with us on all or even many policy issues, there is good reason to believe that there not be any wars with them. They will not be worse than the dictatorships they replace, but better.

However, there are significant risks, and if not done right nations might end up worse. This is what occurred with Iran and Nicaragua in the late '70s. Due to the inept policies of Jimmy Carter, they went from the frying pan into the fire. Fortunately, one has since been rescued. So, there is no direct "downside", but there is a risk in adopting such a policy.

During the Cold War many believed that it was foolish to encourage the people of the Soviet Bloc to seek their freedom for several reasons; when they did they were brutally crushed (Hungary 1955 and Czechoslovakia 1968), the conditions in their countries weren't right (no middle class) and without any history of freedom they "couldn't handle it."

We have seen this to be incorrect. While Russia is moving back towards authoritarianism, most of the rest of Eastern Europe is solidly democratic.

The same is true with regards to Central and South America. Their progress towards democracy in the past thirty years has been nothing short of astounding. Some countries, no doubt, have a long ways to go (Venezuela and Cuba in particular), and others are in the middle of a protracted civil war (Columbia), the situation there is far better than it was in the late '70s.

So we see that in situations were we do not think democracy is possible, it can in fact take root.

Natan Sharansky has famously written about this in his influential book The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror. I've written much about his book and my belief that democracy can be adopted by all people around there globe (see here and here), so readers who want a more complete explanation can read through those posts.

In the book Sharansky presents his formula for success as one that links relations to countries with those countries treatment of their own citizens. He uses the Soviet Union as an example:

When freedom's skeptics argue today that freedom cannot be "imposed" from the outside, or that the freed world has no role to play in spreading democracy around the world, I cannot but be amazed. Less than one generation has passed since the West found the Achilles heel of the Soviet Union by pursuing an activist policy that linked the rights of the Soviet people to the USSR's international standing. The same formula will work again today.
During the Cold War, this link was established though the adoption of the Jackson-Vanik Amendment and Helsinki Accords. In order to succeed today in the Middle East, for example, we must adopt similar measures.

But is The Desire Universal?

It is easy to be skeptical. One reads story after story in the MSM that gives one reason for despair. But it must be remembered that this is nothing new. We have been through this many times before. It was once taken for granted that the Japanese, Germans, and Italians would never accept democracy. Yet those are three of the most solidly democratic countries on the planet today.

Sharansky explained why he believed that democracy can be adopted by all people in his book:

The source of my confidence is that freedom truly is for everyone is not only that democracy has spread around the world, allowing so many different cultures and peoples to enjoy its bounty, my confidence also comes frojm living in a world of fear, stydying it, and fighting it. By dissecting this world, exploring the mechanics of tyranny that operate within it and analyzing how individuals there cope with it, one can undeerstand why modern history has witnessed a remarkable expansion of freedom. There is a universal desire among all peoples not to live in fear. Indeed, given a choice, the vast majority of people will always prefer a free society to a fear society.
The Risk

However, as I said earlier, there are significant risks in adopting a policy of encouraging democracy. President Jimmy Carter adopted human rights as the guiding light behind his foreign policy. Although this may have been laudable, the way in which he acted had the opposite effect from the one he intended.

In Iran, the Shah was deposed by the Ayatollah Khomeini and other radical clerics. In Nicaragua, we saw the Somoza dictatorship replace with the Sandinista communists. With Iran the country was definately worse off under the mullahs, with Nicaragua arguably so (it was certainly not better off).

We face a similar risk today, most notably with Saudi Arabia. The country is home to a large number of radical Wahabbist mullahs. It is hardly inconceiveable that if the regime were to collapse the radicals could seize power, with diasasterous results.

Can Democracies Fight Each Other?

The current thinking among Sharansky and those who agree with him is that democracies will not fight each other. This does not preclude the possibility that there will be serious disagreements among them, but they will refrain from outside warfare.

Sharansky's theory (which which I agree) is that in order to survive, dictatorships must have an enemy. In order to control their people they must give them some enemy, domestic or (preferably) foreign. In revolutions, the enemy is initially within, but sooner or later they find an external one. They use this enemy as an excuse to repress the people

Democracies, according to Sharansky, have no such need. Their leaders are forced to moderate their actions by a free press and active opposition.

I am going to qualify this a bit and say that mature democracies will not fight each other. New ones might well do so as their traditions are not well established, and ones that have not completely given freedom to their people (or to all of them, say women and minorities) might well be suseptable to warfare.

In conclusion: All people are capable of some form of democracy, democratic governments do not go to war with each other, but if if we are not careful, we may push a country into a worse form of tyranny.

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February 15, 2005

Rangel Looses It

In case you thought that the Iraqi elections were a success, Charlie Rangel tells us otherwise. You see, he thinks that it was a success only for the Republican Party

"I don't believe that the American people think that it was worth the lives of 1,200 Americans and 25,000 men and women in the armed services wounded, tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of Iraqis dead,"

Mr. Rangel, a Korean War veteran, told NBC's "Meet the Press" that the war in Iraq is a "fraud" and that the United States cannot and will not bear the price of its children's blood to spread democracy abroad.

"I'm telling you, we went into Iraq not for elections. We went there to knock off Saddam Hussein, but the American people thought it was connected with 9/11, there was weapons of mass destruction, there were connections with al Qaeda. It was all a fraud," Mr. Rangel said
There is so much wrong here that one hardly knows where to begin. Since I don't have the time or patience this morning to go through it all, I'll have to leave it where it is.

Sorry if I made you loose your breakfast.

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February 14, 2005

Just War Series - Probability of Success

Summary and Outline:

Introduction to Just War Theory

I. Recourse to War - jus ad bellum

  1. Just Cause
  2. Competent Authority
  3. Comparative Justice
  4. Right Intention
  5. Last Resort
  6. Probability of Success
  7. Proportionality
II. Conduct in War - jus in bello

1. Discrimination
2. Proportionality

There must be a reasonable probability of success (victory) before a way may be considered just. This does not mean that victory must be certain, only that one must not start a war unless there is a reasonable probability of success. Offensive wars fought in vain are traditionally considered unjust.

The Meaning of Victory

First we must define victory. It has been my observation that all too often people see warfare and victory in terms of World War II; invasion of a country, total defeat of it's armed forces, capture of it's capital and leaders, and occupation of the country until a new government is installed. As an accident of history would have it, we live in a time in which we are involved in another such total war in Iraq. It would be a mistake, however, to view all war as if it occurred this way.

The reality is that most wars are fought using limited means for limited goals. "Total War" is the exception, not the rule. Rarely does victory involve the total destruction of the enemy and occupation of his homeland. Nineteenth century Prussian general turned military and political philosopher Carl von Clausewitz wrote that

In war many roads lead to success, and...they do not all involve the oponent's outright defeat. They range from the destruction of the enemy's forces, the conquest of his territory, to a temporary occupation or invasion, to projects with an immediate political purpose, and finally to passively awaiting the enemy's attacks....

Bear in mind how wide a range of political interests can lead to war, or ...think for a moment of the gulf that separates a war of annihilation, a struggle for political existence, from a war reluctantly declared in consequence of political pressure or of an alliance that no longer seems to reflect the state's true interests. Between these two extremes lie numerous gradations. If we reject a single one of them on theoretical grounds, we may as well reject all of them, and lose contact with the real world.

The point, of course, is that the definition of what constitutes victory depends on one's objectives, and the objective need not be total war. It need not even involve actual fighting. Clausewitz explains:
Combat is the only effective force in war; it's aim is to destroy the enemy's forces as a means to a further end. That holds good even if no actual fighting occurs, because the outcome rests on the assumption that if it came to fighting, the enemy would be destroyed.
(emphasis added) In other words, if we can achieve our goal with a credible threat of force, then so much the better.

Therefore, to determine the probability of success, one must ask, "Success in achieving what objective(s)?"

Pyrrhic Victory?

In the past many or most nations were generally not so concerned with the amount of damage that they caused to an enemy, as long as the objectives were met. There are many reasons for this, not least among them is the advent of television which brings the horrors of war to your living room in living color. It is not our purpose here to examine this, but to examine the concept of victory in our modern age.

World War II was perhaps the last war in which major democracies could wantonly and deliberately kill huge amounts of "enemy" civilians, and cause tremendous damage to the enemy's homeland without domestic repercussions.

Even with precision weapons and careful targeting, civilians will be killed and property will be damaged. We do try and limit this, but it will occur (Note; we will discuss this in detail in Part II of this series, Conduct in War: Discrimination and Proportionality). Success in war is to a large extent dependant on how it is reported, and opinion counts, not just at home but abroad. Now, it is equally true that no matter what we do, many will believe the worst about us, encouraged by news outlets such as Al-Jazeera. The point is that we must be cognizant of domestic and world opinion as never before, and therefore must take as many precautions as possible against unnecessary damage (again, this will be discussed in detail in future posts)

So today we do not simply ask "victory at what cost to us?" but "victory at what cost to us and to the enemy?"

Better Dead than Red?

One question that theorists used to struggle with is whether it is just to put up a defense if defeat is all but certain. Back when few if any countries were representative democracies one could reasonably ask if "defeat was all so bad" when compared to the amount of death and destruction that would occur in a war. One could do a utilitarian analysis and come up with an answer in mathematical terms.

During the Cold War, many debated over whether victory had any meaning in an age in which nuclear weapons could kill most or perhaps all of the citizens of the warring nations. Since this scenario is largely behind us, and would take much space anyway, so we will not consider it here.

However, we may well go to war with a nuclear armed China, North Korea, or Iran. Would we be justified in going to war over Taiwan, for example, when there was a chance (however small) that we might lose Los Angeles (as a Chinese general once threatened)? I will try and answer this and more questions in future posts.

War on Terror

As we saw in a prior post, a war declared only to exact retribution is unjust. With regards to terrorism, war may be declared to prevent future terrorist acts. Al Qaeda operated from Afghanistan, and had a declared intent to do as much damage to the United States and our interests as possible. They also had a history of staging attacks against us ( ex: possibly the first World Trade Center bombing, our Embassy in Kenya, the USS Cole) we were justified in going to war to destroy them and their Taliban protectors. By doing so we reduced their ability to conduct future operations.

It is also just to take even preemptive action to destroy terrorist bases and those who harbor them. If we determine that other nations are harboring terrorists who wish to harm us or our allies, we would be just in destroying them (as long as all other criteria of Just War are met).

The Iraqi War

One can only make decisions using information available at the time. One cannot make decisions based on information that only becomes available later. I realize this sounds obvious, but as some seem not to understand these concepts they need to be said.

The relevant question, therefore is: Did the war advocates have reasonable cause to believe that a war would be successful?

In light of the criterion outlined above, my answer is "yes." Given the information that we had available at the time, we had a reasonable expectation of success. We had reasonable expectation that we could find and destroy Saddam's WMD (which we had good cause to believe existed), destroy his armed forces, and set up a representative government.

Like all wars in history, the Iraq War has not turned out exactly like the planners had hoped. Then again, it hasn't turned out totally differently, either. The planners got some things exactly right, like the ability of the U.S. military to destroy the Iraqi military (this contrary to some critics; remember the "Battle of Baghdad" that never took place?).

However, the size and scope of the terrorist insurgency was not anticipated. Further, it has been harder to get a representative government in place than we anticipated (and success is still not assured). Few anticipated that the Iraqi strategy would be to go over to guerilla/terrorist warfare, and even if they had, it wouldn't have mattered, for I believe that we are indeed on the way to defeating them anyway.

It is impossible to fight a war and totally avoid civilian casualties and destruction of property.
However, we have made vast strides since Vietnam, let alone the Second World War. Our forces to go great lengths to avoid unnecessary death and destruction, as is evidenced from a perusal of honest sources about the war.

Further, although it is not clear that war advocates were too optimistic with regard to support from the Iraqi people, the recent elections demonstrate clearly that they are on the road to success.

All in all, therefore I believe the war in Iraq meets the Just War requirement of Probabililty of Success


Blogger Mark O asks

How about the American Revolutionary War? Given the size and strength of the British Empire at the time, we had no reason to expect success unless the English were sufficiently distracted by foreign powers, i.e., the French. However one could argue that at the outset we had little cause for believing in a probability of success in that war. Was it Just?
Excellent question. I believe the answer lies in whether the Founding Fathers had reasonable cause to believe that they would be successful.

According to the article on the American Revolution in Wikopedia, in 1775 the British had a standing army of about 50,000 men. During the course of the war, they were able to hire 30,000 Hessian mercenaries. However, the total British strength in America never exceeded 32,000 at any one time.

As for the Americans, Perhaps 250,000 Americans served as regulars or militia men during the war. The maximum serving at any one time, however, was never more than 90,000. Washington himself never commmanded more than 17,000 in his Continental Army at any one time.

We never had much of a navy, only sending forth small ships and frigates, whereas the British had the most powerful navy on earth. The advantage to the British was twofold; they could move troops up and down the coast at will, and they could wreck trade and imports of arms from Europe.

According to another article, here are the advantages each side enjoyed:

--British advantages

*Stronger navy

*Better trained army though officer corps not at same level of expertise as naval officers. Army officers were promoted not on merit, but by purchasing their ranks.

*Financial structure

*25%-33% of Thirteen Colonies= population, called Loyalists or Tories, probably supported the British (plus another third of population who would waver until they saw which way things are going-thus if Britain achieved battlefield victories, these undecideds would stick with the crown). Probably 30-50,000 Loyalists fought with the British.

*Motivation: questionable, had to hire German mercenaries (Hessians) to fight.

--American advantages

*Conditions of victory more easily achievable-- British must achieve outright victory, Americans must merely avoid losing.

*No center of gravity exposed to British

*Militia availability

*Britain had to utilize navigable rivers in order to supply troops.

*Britain had world responsibilities to cover at the same time.

*Motivation: fighting for their lives and for a cause

*Selected foreign officers came to support the patriot cause (Lafayette, von Steuben, de Kalb)

* Leadership of George Washington

How aware of all this were the Founders? I found a 1777 letter by Alexander Hamilton that suggests that they did believe that they had a reasonable probability of success. Here are some relevant excerpts:
We should not play a desperate game for it or put it upon the issue of a single cast of the die. The loss of one general engagement may effectively ruin us, and it would certainly be folly to hazard it, unless our resources for keeping up an army were to end, and some decisive blow was absolutely necessary; or unless our strength was so great as to give certainty of success. Neither is the case: America can in all probability maintain its army for years, and our numbers though such as would give a reasonable hope of success are not such as should make us intirely [sic] sanguine. A third consideration did it exist might make it expedient to risk such an event-the prospect of very great reinforcements to the enemy; but every appearance contradicts this, and affords all reason to believe, they will get very inconsiderable accessions of strength this campaign. All the European maritime powers, are interested for the defeat of the British arms in America, and will never assist them.
On whatever side it is considered, no great reinforcements are to be expected to the British army in America.
On our part: we are continually strengthening our political springs in Europe, and may everyday look for more effectual aids than we have yet received. Our own army is continually growing stronger in men arms and discipline. We shall soon have an important addition of Artillery, now in its way to join us. We can maintain our present numbers good at least by inlistments [sic], while the enemy must dwindle away; and at the end of summer the disparity between us will be infinitely great, and facilitate any exertions that may be make to settle the business with them.
Certainly the war could have gone either way. I'm no expert and don't have time to do a thorough analysis. Many Founders were quite nervous about war with Britain and I'm sure someone can unearth letters to that effect. My brief research and knowledge of the subject says that the Founders had reasonable cause to believe that they would be successful.

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New Conserva-Puppy

Warmest welcome to Kat, newest member of our Warm 'n Fuzzy Conserva-Puppy joint blog. She's got her first post up, in which she explains her journey from Democrat to Independent, currently affiliated with the Republican party.

Her personal blog is The Middle Ground. Make it a regular stop on your blog-tour.

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February 12, 2005

Lenninist Lynne

As I noted in a post below, attorney Lynne Stewart was convicted Thursday of conspiracy, providing material support to terrorists, defrauding the government and making false statements. She had been representing Egyptian sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman. Rahman is the "blind sheik" who was convicted in 1995 for conspiring to assassinate Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and destroy several New York landmarks, including the U.N. building and the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels.

We heard the expected garbage from her lawyers (I know, it's also in my post below, but it's so good I just have to quote them again)

"It's a dark day for civil liberties and for civil liberties lawyers in this country," attorney Ron Kuby said Thursday. "In the post 9-11 era, where dissidents are treated as traitors, it's perhaps no surprise that a zealous civil rights lawyer becomes a convict."
Stewart says that "political motivations" were driving the prosecutors.

Most news outlets simply described her as a "veteran civil rights activist". A few, to their credit, went farther, characterizing her as a "left-wing activist", but that's about as far as most stories I've seen go.

Civil rights activist my foot.

She's on record as supporting the worst communist dictactors that the twentieth century had to offer.

Some know the truth. Attorney Scott Johnson of the Powerline blog calls her conviction "a milestone in the war on terrorism." He's right. Stewart is a Fifth Columnist, seeking to destroy us from within. Her motivation for helping the sheik is simple; she hates this country and wants to see it destroyed.

Frontpage Magazine, edited by David Horowitz, someone who knows the left better than most because he was once a member of it, described the importance of the trial this way;

Yesterday’s trial – which was in many ways a trial of the Left itself – will not still the anti-American fanaticism of Stewart’s and Yousry’s campus cult-worshippers. Their hatred of this country blinds them to its greatness just as it excused their evil deeds – and will probably cause them to overlook the pro-terrorist actions of Stewart’s comrades in the future. What the verdict did guarantee is that those who flaunt their country’s laws and help terrorists shed innocent blood will not escape serious consequences, anymore than their terrorist heroes have.
Who exactly is this Lynne Stewart?

There is no better way to understand who she is than to quote her directly. From the invaluable David Horowitz' latest book, Stewart is quoted as saying that

"We have in Washington a poisonous government that spreads its venom to the body politic in all corners of the globe. We now resume...our quests...like David going forth to meet Goliath, like Beowulf the dragon slayer...like Sir Galahad seeking the holy grail. And modern heroes, dare I mention? Ho and Mao and Lenin, Fidel and Nelson Mandela and John Brown, Che Guevara who reminds us 'At the risk of sounding ridiculous, let me say that the true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love.'"
(emphasis added)

And how does she view "Muslim fundamentalists"?

"They are basically forces of national liberation. And I think that we, as persons who are committed to the liberation of oppressed people, should fasten on the need for self-determination....My own sense is that, were the Islamists to be empowered, there would be movements within their own countries...to liberate."
As for violence;
"I don't believe in anarchistic violence, but in directed violence. That would be violence directed at the institutions which perpetuate capitalism, racism, and sexism, and the people who are the appointed guardians of those institutions, and accompanied by popular support."
I think we know how she sees capitalism, but let's just be sure. She describes corporate capitalism as
"...a consummate evil that unleashes its dogs of war on the helpless; an enemy motivated only by insatiable greed...In this enemy there is no love of the land or the creatures that live there, no compassion for the people. This enemy will destroy the air we breathe and the water we drink as long as the dollars keep filling up their money boxes."
Oh but she's a great "civil rights activist," right? In an interview with Monthly Review, she "was asked to imagine that she ws part of a revolutionary government that had 'liberated' its people from the horrors of capitalism. If stewart herself were to become part of such a government, the interviewer wanted to know, was there a point at which she would think that monitoring and controlling the counterrevolutionary adversaries of that government was acceptable?"
"I don't have any problem with Mao or Stalin or the Vietnamese leaders or certainly Fidel locking up people they see as dangerous. Because so often, dissidence has been used by the greater powers to undermine a people's revolution"
Got it?

(All comments taken from David Horowitz, Unholy Alliance )

Horowitz describes Stewart as "...a protege of William Kunstler and Ramsey Clarke," two icons of the radical left, and both America-haters.

Want more? Check out Scott Johnson's (Powerline blog) "Face to Face with Lynne Stewart"
Johnson sat next to her at a debate on the Patriot Act, hosted by the National Lawyers Guild.

Stewart referred several times to 9/11 as providing the "pretext" or "excuse" for snuffing out idealistic "activists" such as she. Her indictment, she acknowledged, was not brought under the PATRIOT Act but, according to Stewart, it resulted from the same "aura" of hatred directed at Islam in the wake of 9/11. Stewart never once acknowledged the reality of the war against the United States or the peril that those such as her client the blind sheik pose to it. Stewart's conclusion articulated her theme in the old Guild tradition, accusing the Bush administration of accomplishing the "usurpation [of civil liberties] by voracious corporate government."
Enough. I can't take it anymore!


Ok, so I lied. Here's a bit more.

Guess who funded her defense?

Rachel Friedman tells us that she'd like to see mainstream liberals condemn her more forcefully.

Wretchard provides good analysis and perspective

The Nation doesn't seem to have much to say on this. No articles since Dec 23, from what I can tell.

And, hold the presses: the National Lawyers Guild calls for a "Day of Outrage!" in support of Stewart.

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February 11, 2005

This Morning's Notables

This morning's post is a bit different for me. I started on the next in my Just War series, but it will take too long to complete before I have to run off to work. So I'll make note of a few things I've seen recently

Belmont Club - The best site for War on Terror analysis, period. Today Wretchard discusses radical lawyer Lynne Stewart, and how she has been charged with helping imprisoned terrorist suspect Abdel Rahyman. Stewart is a member of the Fifth Column that I wrote about in a post a few months ago. Earlier posts this week include a discussion of North Korea and Christopher Hitchens.

Update: She's Guilty. But of course. Predictably, her defense lawyer is saying that "It's a dark day for civil liberties and for civil liberties lawyers in this country," and that "In the post 9-11 era, where dissidents are treated as traitors, it's perhaps no surprise that a zealous civil rights lawyer becomes a convict."

What loosers.

Wesley Pruden is at his best this morning:

That Super Bowl commercial, of American soldiers getting a round of applause as they walked through the passenger lounge of an airport somewhere deep in Middle America, is squeezing tears from the eyes of millions.

But it's driving some folks nuts.

Internet Web sites are seething with the anger of dingbats who ought to be grateful for a little relief from the fatigue of their full-time jobs of hating George W. Bush. They're getting encouragement from the usual suspects, such as Teddy Kennedy and Nancy Pelosi with their ritual sneers at good news from Iraq. A columnist in the London Guardian, searching the ladies room for a fainting couch, sums up the anger on the looney left:

"Pass the sick bag, Alice," writes one Stefano Hatfield. "I was too stunned by the [commercial] to really take in the full import of a beer company waving off 'our boys' (and girls) to battle. But battle? Where? The war in Iraq's over, isn't it, or so they keep telling us? ... Pure propaganda, and it picked up on one of the themes of the night: patriotism."

The contents of one knave's spleen does not a consensus make, nor the racket on the Internet an anvil chorus of any size, but it brings into sharp focus the reality that's driving the anvil chorus crazy. A certain kind of nut imagines he's a hostage at the Nuremberg rally every time he sees the flag on the breeze, or hears the sweet and innocent notes of a hymn to the home of the brave and the land of the free. But these scamps and skeesicks had best get a life, because it's true, patriotism is back, and with it the traditional appreciation for the sacrifice of the soldier.

Read the whole thing.

Victor Davis Hanson has a new column up over at National Review Online. It's a must-read, as always. Today he gives us "Ten Reasons to Support Democracy in the Middle East"

I know, it sounds obvious, right? But there are a variety of naysayers

Neoconservatives hope that a democratic Iraq and Afghanistan can usher in a new age of Middle Eastern consensual government that will cool down a century-old cauldron of hatred. Realists counter that democratic roots will surely starve in sterile Middle East soil, and it is a waste of time to play Wilsonian games with a people full of anti-American hatred who display only ingratitude for the huge investment of American lives and treasure spent on their freedom. Paleoconservatives prefer to spend our treasure here at home, while liberals oppose anything that is remotely connected with George W. Bush or refutes their own utopian notions of a world to be adjudicated by a paternal United Nations. All rightly fear demonocracy — the Arafat or Iranian unconstitutional formula of "one vote, one time."
Yet for all its uncertainties and dangers in the Islamic Arab world, there remain some undeniable facts about democracy across time and space that suggest with effort and sacrifice it can both work in the Middle East and will be in the long-term security interests of the United States. So why exactly should we support the daunting task of democratizing the Middle East and how is it possible?

1. It is widely said that democracies rarely attack other democracies. Thus the more that exist in the world — and at no time in history have there been more such governments than today — the less likely is war itself. That cliché proves, in fact, mostly true.

Read the...oh, you know that already.

The Anti-Idiotarian Rotweiller continues to skewer the left in a way that is laugh-out-loud funny.

And, of course, check out the latest over at the Warm 'n Fuzzy Conserva-Puppies. We don't roll over for anybody. I am pleased to announce that we've got a new member who will be joining us shortly!

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February 10, 2005

Condi Rocks

Condoleezza Rice has been making waves at home and abroad. She's following up on President Bush's Inaugural Address and State of the Union speech by articulating the principles of freedom abroad. Lawrence Kudlow compared her with her predecessor this way

Colin Powell wasn't much of a public diplomat. He didn't travel often and seldom spoke the language of freedom and democracy. But now the nation's chief diplomat appears to be in full support of presidential policy. Bravo, Miss Rice.
I have nothing but respect for Colin Powell. He was a better general than secretary of state, however. My initial thoughts are that Powell represented an older "protect the status quo" style, while Rice more represents George Bush's views, which have been recently influenced by Natan Sharansky. It's not just the Syrians and Iranians who have been put on notice. The Saudis have held sort-of elections recently, and, while they are at best a little bit of progress, and at least something. We should push them to continune reforms.

Helle Dale, also writing in the Washington Times, had this to say about our new Secretary of State's trip:

Especially impressive is the fact that Miss Rice's staunch defense of American principles and policies — couched in forthright terms, but said with a smile — seems to be causing soul-searching in European capitals. As she stated during her first stop in London, "There cannot be an absence of moral content in American foreign policy." She added: "Europeans giggle at this, but we are not European, we are American, and we have different principles."

Mr. Bush and Miss Rice have articulated a powerful vision for American foreign policy, based on the spread of freedom, which is hard for Europe's far more cautious technocrats to compete with.

The European instinct is to negotiate and avoid confrontation at all costs. This is understandably in some ways after the experience of two world wars on European territory. When action is called for to set wrongs right, it falls to the United States to take the lead. During her European trip, Miss Rice made clear that there is a division of labor between Europeans and Americans that is real and here to stay.

Out with the old and in with the new.

We need to hold the Administration to their word; reform of Saudi Arabia and the various gulf states is just as important, and perhaps more so, than dealing with Syria and Iran. It is not by accident that the most pro-American population can be found in Iran, and the most anti perhaps in Saudi Arabia. The most popular explanation that I have seen is that the Iranians appreciate American opposition to their hated mullahs, while the Saudis hate the U.S. for proping up their corrupt leadership. Makes sense to me. It's time for a change, and a fresh breeze is blowing.

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February 9, 2005

Inside Centcom

A few days ago I finished Inside Centcom: The Unvarnished Truth About the Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq by Marine Lt Gen Michael DeLong. Gen DeLong was Tommy Franks' second-in-command during both wars. It was a fairly good read, although nothing special. I got it pretty much on a whim while buying several other books. DeLong makes a few interesting observations and revelations, although if you have to choose definately go with Tommy Franks' American General. I blogged about it fairly extensively a few months ago. Check out the "best of" link at right for a few of those posts.

Here are some of the interesting parts of the book;

on Tommy Franks

Gen Franks is portrayed as very tough and very fair. Franks is the last person you want to cross and the first one you want on your side.

He was hard on his staff, but he loved and respected them. He was a loner, yet he rarely made decisions alone. He wasn't trusting, yet he delegated tremendously. Franks was one of the few men I couldn't figure out, but then, nobody else could either.
He didn't suffer fools gladly, either.
He knew exactly what he wanted, how he wanted it; he was detail oriented and one of the most focused people I'd ever met. His mind grabbed onto a subject like a pit bull; god help you if you tried to deviate from it. He said he had absolutely zero tolerance for digressing from the exact topic he wanted discussed.
His statement to Delong at the end of their first meeting;
"I know how to be professionally mean"
Over the course of the next few years, many lesser ranking generals at Centcom would find out exactly what that meant.
I tried - not always successfully - to act as a buffer between Franks and the staff. Many one - and - two - stars wanted face time with Franks, which they didn't really need, and I tried to discourage them because I knew that Franks didn't like having people hand around. He could see though an agenda instantly, and God help the person who wasn't prepared. If the generals insisted, I let them enter. When they came out, time and again, they wished they hadn't.
on Richard Clarke

Gen. DeLong pretty has the same opinion of him that Gen Franks had, which is to say not very good. I wrote about what Franks had to say in a post a few months ago. Clarke, you'll recall, was a Clinton and Bush terrorism expert who has had little good to say about the Bush Administration.

While DeLong was not as harsh as Franks in his assessment, he says that Clarke

...specifically told us how comfortable he was with all that the President (Bush) was doing for the War on Terror. But he was not an insider. He was not included in any of the numerous video teleconferences I attended with President Bush. I suspect we might have had better knowledge of existing intelligence from the Middle East than Clarke did.
Tora Bora

DeLong confirms what most of us who have studied the matter know; we didn't screw up the operation as John Kerry said we did. It wasn't as if we deliberately "outsourced" the operation, we simply couldn't get a large number of troops into the area. For that matter, neither could our Afghan allies. We did what we could with what we had.

The French

This will surprise some readers, but it shouldn't, for reasons I'll review shortly.

The French were instrumental in getting the new Afghan army off the ground. Not only did they fund it, they even trained every third batallion. the didn't let us forget it either. Later, whenever France was publicly criticized by anyone in the U.S., I'd get a phone call from the French chairman of their Joint Chiefs.

He'd say, "You recall that we helped you with the Afghan army, don't you?"

I would answer, "Yes sir, I do. And we love you."
The French can and have been at times extremely helpful in the War on Terror. At the same time they will turn right around and stab us in the back. One need only recall stories of the French made anti-tank missiles with "2003" stamped on them that we found in Iraq. And don't even get me started on Oil-for-Food. What gives?

The French will do whatever is in their interest to do. National interest unvarnished by "sentimental" concerns such as spreading democracy.


A decent book, overall, if nothing particularly special. After reading Franks' book I wanted to get another perspective on him, which was my main reason for reading "Inside Centcom". It served that purpose well.

Next up: In Defense of Internment: The Case for 'Racial Profiling' in World War II and the War on Terror by Michelle Malkin.

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Polls and Demographic Trends

A battle royale is developing over whether Social Security should be reformed, and if so, what should be done. What do the people actually think? I'm sure there are all sorts of polls out there, and frankly I do not have time to research them all and examine their methodology. A few recent ones struck me as important, however. Here's a report by Donald Lambro on two recent polls, the Annenberg poll and a Zogby poll:

An Annenberg poll last December showed that 54 percent of Hispanics support the concept of "allowing workers to invest Social Security funds in the stock market."

A more recent poll by John Zogby found that more than 50 percent of black voters who liked the idea wanted to invest as much as half of the payroll tax in individual accounts to get a better return on their tax contributions.

"On Social Security reform, you are looking at younger voters, union members and minorities that find this idea popular," Zogby told me. Democratic leaders "are not talking to their own base, let along the rest of middle America," he said.

The biggest surprise in his poll, Zogby said, was that nearly one-third of all Democrats said they liked Mr. Bush's idea.
Greg Pierce, also of the Washington Times, reports on a column by Dick Morris that describes that support for the president's plan varies by age;
"Pollster Scott Rasmussen reports that support for private investment skews dramatically by age group. Those aged 18 to 29 back it by 65 percent to 22 percent. Thirtysomething voters support it by 63-28; those in their 40s, 59-30.

"But voters between the ages of 50 and 64 oppose the private-investment option by 49-41, and those over 65, by 63-27.

"So the only voters who oppose private investment are those whom the reforms won't touch. Those for whom the changes are real, generally support them." Mr. Morris said.
I don't have time to check this morning, but something tells me that the AARP will produce a poll showing just the opposite. Intuition and everyday observation, however, tells me that the Rasmussen poll has it right.

The Democrats may well succeed in blocking the president's proposals. But although they may win the battle, it is hard to see how they can win the war. As long as they persist in being the party of "no" to private accounts, demographic trends are not in their favor.

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February 8, 2005

Just War Series - Last Resort

Introduction to Just War Theory

I. Recourse to War - jus ad bellum

  1. Just Cause
  2. Competent Authority
  3. Comparative Justice
  4. Right Intention
  5. Last Resort
  6. Probability of Success
  7. Proportionality

II. Conduct in War - jus in bello

1. Discrimination
2. Proportionality

"Last Resort" is a term that is thrown around quite a bit by politicians and punduts on the even of a possible miliarty action. The purpose of this post is to examine what it means in the light of Just War Theory.

The Last Resort test means that a state should exhaust peaceful alternatives. But what does this mean? There are three things that we need to consider

1) Nations are unwilling to put their vital interests in the hands of third parties such as the United Nations or World Court.

We are currently embroiled over the issue of whether the United States had to get United Nations Security Council authority to invade Iraq. All of the talk about how we supposedly violated international law misses the point; no nation on this planet will, in the end, put it's most vital interests in the hands of any third party.

Many of the nations who proclaim their fealty to such institutions do so because they cannot imagine themselves in a situation where their vital interests are in such danger that war is necessary, or because they cannot imagine a situation in which their "allies" will seriously disagree with them. They have lost their sense of history, and imagine themselves forever secure in a the utopia of the "international community." But in the end, when the chips are down, nations will "do what they have to do" to protect themselves, and not consider the opinions of others.

At home, many of the critics simply see their own country as the greatest danger in the world, and see international institutions as the only restraint available.

2) Some differences are irreconcilable

People who are schooled in "negotiation theory" may fall into the trap of assuming that all problems can be resolved, or at least a clash averted, "if we only sit down and talk about it in good faith." They tend to see wars as the result of misunderstandings, and the solution in terms of setting up cultural exchanges.

Books like "Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In" and it's counterparts work only with both parties share a similar worldview, and agree that matters can and must be solved without violence. It is an excellent tool for negotiating conflict within the West. But it is misused when people think that such techniques work in the international arena.

Ultimately there are some differences that cannot be negotiated. There are some disputes that cannot be resolved at the bargaining table. There are some ideologies that are fundamentally at odds with each other. While we must never rule out negotiations, we must not be at their mercy either.

3) Lets try One More Thing....

More newspaper print has been spilled over the idea of war as a "last resort" than any other aspect of Just War Theory. It is easy to say that we should negotiate and try to resolve our differences peacefully and only resort to war when all else fails. But what does this mean? How many economic sanctions must we put in place and how long must we let them work before giving up? How many Security Council resolutions are enough? One writer reminds us that "Lastness is a metaphysical concept that is never really achieved, because another effort to avert war can always be attempted."

These are questions that reasonable people may disagree about. There are some who want to start bombing at the drop of a hat, and others who will seemingly never approve force unless Washington DC is being stormed.

Some say that "last resort" is automatically violated whenever one talks about preemptive war. It is said that we must wait until a strike against us is "imminent".

It seems to me that such an attitude is more in tune with a World War I view of war, whereby nations took weeks or months to mobilize. Even by mid-century, most nations would have some warning. Nuclear strike aircraft and missiles demolished this view. Even though those days are mostly gone, it seems to me that with modern technology regional (or even smaller) powers certainly have the capability to strike us with little or no warning.

The bottom line is that there is no right answer to the question of "last resort", except that we must reject the extremes of those who would go to war quickly, and those who would have us never act.

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February 6, 2005

Our Time in the Sun

Every nation, or people, has or will make a unique contribution to our world. Some cultures contribute music, art, or literature that lasts thousands of years. Some are more famous for their food. Many can trace their origins back thousands of years. They do not really consider something "old" until it can be dated into the B.C. years. Still others have developed better systems of law than others. Whatever it is, it is something that they are justifyably proud of.

During any period of world history one or more civilizations or nations is predominant in it's influence. They are said to have hegemony throughout a significant region of the world, or perhaps most of the world. These have often been described in terms of empires; the Persian Empire, the Roman, The Mongol, the Chinese, Spanish and the British being some of the more famous.

Usually it is when a nation is predominant that they make their primary contribution. The Romans introduced a concept of law that may seem crude to us today, but given that the peoples they conquered were reading goat entrails to determine guilt or innocence, it was a huge advance. Likewise with the British. While the subjects of their empire may have chafed at what we today would call racism, they learned everything from engineering and government to Shakespeare.

So it is today. We live in a period of time when the United States is the predominant world power. And we're not just talking about mere military power, for rarely is military power separate from the "unique contributions" mentioned above. Only the Mongols, rare among empires, contributed little other than military technology. The two prime contributions that America has made to the world are first, our system of government and the modern sense of a civil society, and two, the power of free enterprise.

For let's face it, we really don't have a whole lot of history behind us. Buildings in "historic" sections of towns and cities need only be perhaps a hundred years old; and often not even that. Perhaps all things are relative, but one suspects that Europeans, let along Egyptians, must smile inwardly when they see our historical markers.

Nor have we made contributions to the arts in the same manner as others. This is not to denegrate our artists, musicians, or writers; most have simply not stood the test of time. And those that have are simply not in sufficient numbers to challenge an Italy or China.

But the contributions we have made are so significant that they have already changed the world forever. Regardless of how Iraq turns out, by simply defeating the great totalitarian menaces of the twentieth century we have earned our place in history. Despite the rantings of Noam Chomsky, we have been a force for good in the world.

To all of the foreign complainers, here is my message: This is our time in the Sun. You either had your time, or will. You've either made your contribution, or will. If you've had your empire, then you well know the resentment of the rest of the world. If the situation were reversed I'd be complaining about you and you would be acting as we are.

So I ask is that you tone it down a bit, and give us a break. You've had your time, now it is ours. We are a force for good, and you know it.

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Saving Social Security

As I wrote in my assessment of the State of the Union address, the Democrats have traded their donkey for an ostrich. They are bound and determined to ignore the realities of Social Security. And it's not just some of them, either. Every single Democrat Senator says that he or she is opposed to the president's plan. They demonstrated this by booing him when he said that the program was going to go bankrupt. Yet everyone also seems to acknowledge that the current state of affairs is not sustainable. What gives?

Most of us know the critical dates already, which the president outlined during his State of the Union address;

Thirteen years from now, in 2018, Social Security will be paying out more than it takes in. And every year afterward will bring a new shortfall, bigger than the year before. For example, in the year 2027, the government will somehow have to come up with an extra 200 billion dollars to keep the system afloat — and by 2033, the annual shortfall would be more than 300 billion dollars. By the year 2042, the entire system would be exhausted and bankrupt.
The cause is simple; Social Security is a pay-as-you-go system, and demographic trends have changed the calculus dramatically. In the 1930's there we 16 workers supporting every retiree, today there are 3.3, before the half-century point there will only be 2.

One of the best articles on the subject I've seen is "An Idea Whose Time has Come," by Ramesh Ponnuru, and is in the latest print National Review. If you have a digital subscription you can view it online.

Ponnuru looks at the problem and what the liberals are telling us;

The president says that “the crisis is now.” That comment has inspired a lot of fairly tedious semantic debate. Let’s just say that we have a serious problem. It is true that we do not have to fix it immediately. It is also true that every year we wait, the choices get worse. We can gradually cut benefits if we get started now. If we don’t, we will have to cut them (or raise taxes) very sharply. Andrew Biggs, now a commissioner at the Social Security Administration, has estimated that delaying reform for one more year will cost $600 billion — and that cost goes up every year. The Titanic didn’t have a crisis until it hit the iceberg, but it would have been better off gently steering a different course beforehand.

Liberals contend that the scenario I have painted above is alarmist. Social Security, they say, will not actually go bankrupt until 2042. The program can be saved with some minor adjustments. Just rolling back Bush’s tax cuts would raise the necessary funds. If the economy grows better than expected, the program might have enough revenues to pay for its promises.

None of this is true. The idea that the problem does not start until 2042 depends on sleight of hand. For several decades, the program, in anticipation of the retirement of the Baby Boomers, has collected more revenues than it pays out. The surplus has been banked in a Social Security trust fund. The liberal argument is that when payouts start to outstrip revenues, in 2018, the program can just draw on the trust fund — and it can keep drawing on it until 2042, when it is scheduled to run out.

Liberals — I mean you, Paul Krugman — have spent immense amounts of verbiage obscuring the fact that the trust fund is an accounting fiction. Its assets are IOUs from the rest of the federal government. When 2018 rolls around, the government will have to find the money to pay off those IOUs. It will have to raise revenues or cut spending or borrow elsewhere to do that.

Further, he points out, the "minor adjustments' aren't all that minor." Either taxes will have to be raised fairly significantly, or benefits cut by just as much. Even if the economy continues to grow at a high rate, something that is not at all assured, we will not bring in enough money to solve the problem. The reason is that a growing economy means increased wages, and since benefits are tied to wages, we're back where we started.

Wage and Price Indexing

How about moving from "wage indexing" to "price indexing"? Turns out that idea has some fairly significant pitfalls too.

Moving from “wage indexing” to “price indexing” isn’t a minor change. The middle-income worker of 2050 would be getting an annual benefit worth 37.5 percent less than he would have gotten under wage indexing. Price indexing would eliminate Social Security’s shortfall all by itself. Would it be a draconian cut in benefits? If wages grow over time, workers will be putting more tax money into Social Security: Shouldn’t they get bigger benefits as a result?

What that question ignores is that Social Security is not capable of converting our worker’s payments into those massively higher benefits. The only way he could get those benefits is if he agreed to pay more taxes over the course of his working life (and to work in the smaller economy caused by higher taxes on everyone). The system can’t pay for the larger benefits without tax increases. So nothing he could actually have, on terms he would want to have, would be taken away from him. If our worker wanted more money for retirement, he would almost certainly prefer to invest additional money himself rather than have the government raise his taxes.

On top of all this, Social Security is a rip-off. If presented with it as a choice, no one in their right mind would sign up. The reason is simple;

The program can afford to give a middle-income 25-year-old only 91 cents for every dollar he is going to put in over the course of his working life. Price indexing recognizes that reality, but does nothing to improve it.

Private Accounts

The answer is allowing people to put some of their money into private accounts. This is not at all speculative or risky, as liberals would have us believe. First, no one is proposing that the investment options be wide open. Second, there are many ways to enforce a diversity of investment. Third, and this is the most important, we are talking about long-term investment. If you take any twenty year period of the stock market, the market has always been higher at the end of those twenty years than it was at the beginning.

Yes there will be a difficult transition period. But ignoring the problem and pretending it can only be solved through "minor adjustments" will only push back the day or reconing, and when it does arrive make the choices far worse.

The Politics

Reforming Social Security is arguably the hardest domestic thing any president has done this century. Civil Rights was difficult enough, this will at least be it's match. Ponnuru points out that every single Democrat Senator is opposed to the president's proposals. And it's not just that they're opposed to the details; they don't want to even talk about it.

But if he succeeds

If he manages to get that policy enacted, it will not only be the signal domestic achievement of his presidency. It will be the biggest legislative victory in the modern history of conservatism.

This is worth fighting for. And fighting hard.

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February 3, 2005

State of the Union address

My take on the State of the Union address, and the Democratic response is posted here on my other blog site, Warm 'n Fuzzy Conserva-Puppies. Join us for a lively discussion.

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February 2, 2005

Just War Series - Right Intention

Introduction to Just War Theory
I. Recourse to War - jus ad bellum

  1. Just Cause
  2. Competent Authority
  3. Comparative Justice
  4. Right Intention
  5. Last Resort
  6. Probability of Success
  7. Proportionality
II. Conduct in War - jus in bello
  1. Discrimination
  2. Proportionality
Right Intention means that not only must we have sufficient cause to enter into war, but we must have the intention of seeking a just and lasting peace.

Note: As a basis for this series I am using as my primary source Joseph Martino's 1988 book A Fighting Chance. See more about this in the Introduction to Just War post.

There are three elements of right intention;

  1. Limiting oneself to pursuit of the just cause
  2. Keeping in mind that the ultimate objective of the war is a just and lasting peace
  3. Maintaining charity and love towards the enemy
Let's examine each of these one at a time.

The first element means that you cannot add objectives or justifications as the war progresses. The classic example is the Korean War. Our original objective was simply to repel the North Korean army, which had invaded our ally in the south. After the successful landings at Inchon, and the collapse of the North Korean army, we expanded our objectives to include the reunification of the entire peninsula. By doing so we violated this rule of Just War Theory.

In regard to the second element, that of achieving a just and lasting peace, there are several factors that come into play.

First, we must not take actions that cause unnecessary suffering or damage. This will be explored further when I take up Conduct In War.

Second, surrender terms must not be so harsh so as to unnecessarily prolong the war. This is generally taken to mean that unconditional surrender violates this criterion of Just War Theory. World War II is our first example. By demanding unconditional surrender, the allies gave the enemy no reason to do anything other than fight to the death. The issue also comes up with regard to "tinpot" dictators who are faced with an insurgency or coup. They are cornered with cadre of loyal defenders. The rebels have a choice; end the standoff by letting the dictator leave the country, or stage an all-out attack. The dictator escapes justice with the former, but lives are saved. Justice is served in the latter, but questions arise as to whether it was worth the cost. Generally speaking this criterion of Just War Theory asks us to let the dictator go in order to save lives. Note: This is a general rule and as circumstances will vary from case o case, letting the dictator go may be unjust in some circumstances.

Maintaining charity and love towards our enemy may seem strange, but it is perhaps the most important requirement of all. Never must we allow ourselves to resort to racial epithets, or describe our enemy as "subhuman." We must maintain our standards regardless of the savagery of our foes. To be sure, on the actual battlefield passions will be excited to the point where we must excuse our soldiers for engaging in talk or some actions that are not acceptable in polite society. Those of us safe in our homes have no such excuse.

Application to Current Events

It is clear to me that the United States has met the requirements of Right Intention in the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.

In the case of each country we have expended great amounts of blood and treasure in order to install democratic governments that reflect the will of their people. Throughout most or many of our interventions in Central and South America, for example, we were happy with a strongman who was friendly towards us. This also became our de facto policy in South Vietnam. And we tolerated "authoritarian" regimes in the Philippines, South Korea, and Taiwan throughout the Cold War. Only when the Soviet Union collapsed did we require that the latter two reform (The Philippines having done so themselves in 1986).

We could easily have installed strongmen in Afghanistan and Iraq, declare victory (a la Nixon) and leave. That we have not and will not do so is a tribute to our national character. No longer will the Cold War excuses of necessity do.

Further, we have gone out of our way to avoid unnecessary damage and casualties. This has been amply documented elsewhere. Raving leftists who say otherwise display their own ignorance.

Lastly, this has been perhaps the most politically correct war in history - from our perspective. We yhave gone out of our way toLastly, this has been perhaps the most politically correct war in history – from our perspective. There were a few intemperate words spoken in the early days of the War on Terror, but in general we have gone out of our way to avoid anything that may be perceived as an insult, to the point where the word “crusade” has just about been banned.

In conclusion, we have met the Right Intention test of Just War Theory.

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None other than yours truly submitted his week's Homespun Bloggers symposium question , so if you don't like it you'll know who to blame.

Do you think that the elections in Iraq vindicated President Bush's decision to invade Iraq?

I asked this question because I've heard it said by various commentators that the success of the elections validated the President's decision to invade Iraq.

It is tempting to just answer "Hell Yes!" and leave it at that. My support for the invasion is well known to readers of this blog. And given that the insurgency has been harder than expected to put down, and with all of the violence that preceded it, that it went off so well is good news indeed.

Also, having had to put up with various groups of naysayers who are always predicting gloom and doom, as well as election defeat for George W Bush, it is tempting to throw it in their faces and say "See what happened?!?!" They've called the president a liar, and without a scintilla of evidence to back up their claims, that the temptation to use this as a partisan tool is almost overwhelming. Almost.

And further, it was a victory for the Iraqi people, and indeed for oppressed people everywhere. They have taken their first step towards establishing a democracy. The utter failure of the terrorists to stop the election is a huge victory for the "good guys." It is eminently possible that this will be the catalyst that will spread democracy throughout the Middle East. That we still have a hard road ahead is no reason not to feel joyous today. The naysayers warn us that Iraq could turn into an Iranian-style theocracy; I respond to them that it is at least equally possible that a new Iraq could force Iran to reform itself.

But tempting as it is, this does not really answer the question. Let's break things down.

Ex Post Facto?

"The recent elections justify President Bush's decision to invade Iraq"

In order to determine of this is correct, we need to ask some questions;

  1. Was turning Iraq into a democracy part of the President's original justification for war?
  2. If not, is it acceptable to justify a war ex post facto?
  3. If yes, then were the elections successful?
Wikopedia offers two main justifications used by the Bush Administration:
  1. Weapons of Mass Destruction
  2. Links to Terrorism
As for WMD, the primary justification for the war was that Saddam Hussein had not complied with Security Council resolutions requiring him to destroy his stockpiles of WMD. Stockpiles, mind you, that he admitted to having after the Gulf War. It was believed by most of the world's intelligence services that he not only maintained some sort of production capacity but had WMD stockpiles ready for use. That the intelligence has been shown to be incorrect does not invalidate the justification, since it has also been shown that the war planners were acting in good faith.

Regarding terrorism, while some of the intelligence was faulty (what we got from Chalabi), there were indeed "links", even if no "operational relationship". A better question is whether we acted in good faith. The evidence I have is that we did.

In addition, before the war Secretary Rumsfeld offered several more justifications:

  • end the Saddam Hussein government
  • help Iraq's transition to democratic self-rule
  • find and eliminate weapons of mass destruction, weapons programs, and terrorists
  • collect intelligence on networks of weapons of mass destruction and terrorists
  • end sanctions and to deliver humanitarian support (According to Madeline Albright, half a million Iraqi children had died because of sanctions.)
  • secure Iraq's oil fields and resources

    In addition, there is the Clinton-era Iraq Liberation Act, which states as it's purpose (Sense of the Congress)
      It should be the policy of the United States to support efforts to remove the regime headed by Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq and to promote the emergence of a democratic government to replace that regime.

    A whole host of justifications are listed, from the attempt to assassinate ex-President George H W Bush to attempts to thwart United Nations inspectors.

    Answer to Question 1: Yes, spreading democracy was a stated justification for the war. Not the primary justification, but a justification.

    Answer to Question 2: (updated 02/05/05) One may not justify a war with reasons that are made after the war has begun. To do so is to violate the rules of a Just War. Since we did not change our objectives during the war, we did not violate the rule against ex post facto justifications.

    However, while not applicable in this case, the issue does deserve further exploration.

    Let's quickly examine three wars; the Korean War, the Gulf War, and the American Civil War.

    Our original justification for involvement in the Korean War was to save South Korea from northern aggression. We achieved this within eight months, after the successful landings at Inchon and push north from Pusan. In the face of the collapse of the North Korean army, we decided to expand our objectives to include reunification of the penninsula. By doing this we violated the rules of a Just War.

    Our stated objectives during the Gulf War was 1) to free Kuwait from Iraqi opposition , and 2) to eliminate most or all of Saddam Hussein's WMD programs. At the end of the "100 hour ground war" we had achieved the former and were well on the way to achieving the latter (or so we believed). For us to have expanded our objectives to include invasion of Iraq and toppling of the regime would have put us in violation of the rules of a Just War. That it may seem today that this would have been the "common sense" thing to do does not change this conclusion at all. If we had wished to effect regime change we would have needed to state this as an objective from the start.

    The justifications for the Civil War are complicated and seemed to vary as the war progressed. I am no expert on this aspect of the war and have asked another blogger to add his thoughts as to whether Lincoln changed his justification for the war as it progressed.

    From what I understand, the North's original justification for fighting was simply to preserve the Union. As the war progressed, the elimination of slavery was stated as a "sort of" additional objective, but it never replaced the original one. Lincoln never pushed the anti-slavery aspect hard. The Emanciplation Proclamation, for example, only freed slaves in areas already occupied by Northern forces. The paradox is that although the cause of the war was the issue of slavery, neither side used it as their primary purpose for fighting. The South claimed "states rights."

    Answer to Question 3: The answer to this question depends on your criteria. My answer is that the elections were successful given the current environment in Iraq. Some have set their standards higher, saying, for example, that unless Sunni Arabs are voting in large numbers the new government will not be legitimate. This misses the point; these elections were not meant to be the end-all-to-be-all. They were meant to be a start. And as such, they succeeded. We would do well to recall that until the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was passed fully 50% of the American population was legally barred from voting for president.

    More tests will come in the future, and we're not out of the woods yet. But as for now we may have turned the corner in this war.

    Yes, the elections were successful.


    The elections do help to justify the invasion. They are not the justification, but then they were never meant to be. We would not have invaded if the goal was simply to spread democracy. WMD were and are a valid justification, even though no weapons were found. The reason is that we did have reasonable cause to believe that such weapons existed.


    Alert reader Zach, author of the Mad Poets Anonymous blog, caught a serious typo in my original post: instead of copying from Wikopedia the reasons Rumsfeld gave in support of the war, I copied the reasons his opponents gave. There is a big difference, of course. According to Wikopedia, opponents of the war said that it was fought primarily:

    • to maintain the wartime popularity that the President enjoyed due to his response to the September 11 attacks (in contrast to his father whose wartime popularity faded when the electorate began to focus on the economy)
    • to channel money to defense and construction interests
    • to ensure the US had military control over the region's oil as a lever to control other countries that depend on it
    • to assure that the revenue from Iraqi oil would go primarily to American interests
    • to lower the price of oil for American consumers

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    February 1, 2005

    Just War Theory - Other Commentary

    Marvin has taken note of my series on Just War Theory, and has provided several very useful links to other folks who have discussed the topic also. I encourage readers to visit his post and explore the links he has provided.

    Meanwhile, the excellent writers over at Mirror of Justice are also blogging on how Just War Theory applies to the War in Iraq. Joe Carter (The Evangelical Outpost blog) would like to know what I have to say about their work. No problem, I'd be happy to oblige. Joe himself says that he is going to be providing commentary on the matter, so be sure and check his site regularly.

    You can find links to my series on Just War here. I'm a little less than halfway through.

    Little Red Blog

    Marvin links to several excellent discussions of Just War Theory.

    In a post on his blog Pseudo-Polymath, author Mark says that

    As to arguments that in light of what we learned after the invasion about WMD, et al, are arguments invalidating the Justification for going to war, this is specious. One cannot be held accountable with regards to Justification for actions in light of knowledge gained after the fact. If one believes that intentional deception was used to frame the cause for War, then that contention should be backed up with fact.

    Of course, that there is not one scintilla of evidence that anyone in the Bush Administration or intelligence community lied seems to bother the left-wing not at all.

    Mark's other posts on the subject can be found here:

    Read them all.

    Mark does not follow the traditional outline for Just War Theory, but that's ok because he raises a number of interesting issues that I had not considered.

    Mirror of Justice blog

    Next up we'll turn to the post that Joe recommended on the Mirror of Justice blog. Writer Rob Visher has written a series of posts on Just War Theory that can be found here, here, here, here, here, and here.

    I'm not going to attempt a full answer here to all of the issues he raises, because that is the point of my own series on the topic.

    Rob asks several questions with regard to Just War Theory and the war in Iraq:

    Can the conflict in Iraq be justified under just war principles without rendering those principles largely useless in terms of their future capacity to establish boundaries on human conflict?"
    An excellent question, for it is all too easy to rationalize the justification this war in ways that could lead to a lessening of requirements to the point where Just War Theory is a joke. For example, suppose all requirements of jus ad bellum are met except Competent Authority, because the Congress will vote to authorize the war. We cannot then backtrack and say "oh well, if the president wants to do it then that's good enough, for we have all these other justifications." As I've made clear, I believe that for anything other than some short-term uses of military force, congressional authorization is required.
    Can we all agree that, if the intelligence accurately revealed (what turned out to be) the absence of WMD, then the just war requirements would not have been satisfied? In other words, without a good-faith belief that WMD were present, the invasion of Iraq was immoral, right?
    Well now, when Mirror of Justice bills itself as "A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory" they aren't kidding around, are they? These questions don't allow for any wiggle room. From my review of the matter so far, I'll answer that yes, without WMD the war would not have been just. Everything I know tells me that the Bush Administration did believe in good faith that WMD were present.
    On what other basis could the conflict in Iraq possibly be considered a just war?
    A few that come to mind are links to terrorism, and the constant threat that he would invade his neighbors (the idea that Iraq was contained in a "status quo" environment is laughable, the sanctions were falling apart). However, although Saddam was definitely in the terrorism business it was not a major threat to us, and alone would not have justified war. Possible invasion of his neighbors is another matter. He'd started two wars already (Iran and Kuwait), and would likely do so again. One may argue that it would be better to preempt this with an invasion, but this is certainly open to debate.

    Another Link

    Leo, writing for the Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture, has a very informative post on how Just War Theory applies to the invasion of Iraq. Check it out and see whether he thinks the war is justified.


    Marc responds to my series. He makes some great points about revolutions and Competent Authority which I'll have to consider.

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    Al-Jazeera and Saddam

    The indespensable MEMRI is reporting on their website that

    A videotape found in a stack of Saddam Hussein’s old documents shows his son, Uday Hussein, meeting with Muhammad Jassem Al-Ali, former manager of Al-Jazeera, who tells Uday ‘Al-Jazeera is your channel.’ (1/24/2005, IRNA, Iran)
    Just in case you weren't sure.

    There's also an Associated Press story on this also, in which they largely say the same thing as MEMRI.

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    Saudi Arabia Publishes Hate Ideology

    While the Iraqis go to the polls to vote in their own free government, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) continues to publish hate-filled propaganda here in the United States, according to the this report from Freedom House's Center for Religious Freedom.

    Among the key findings of the report;

    • Various Saudi government publications gathered for this study, most of which are in Arabic, assert that it is a religious obligation for Muslims to hate Christians and Jews and warn against imitating, befriending, or helping them in any way, or taking part in their festivities and celebrations;
    • The documents promote contempt for the United States because it is ruled by legislated civil law rather than by totalitarian Wahhabi-style Islamic law. They condemn democracy as un-Islamic;
    • The documents stress that when Muslims are in the lands of the unbelievers, they must behave as if on a mission behind enemy lines. Either they are there to acquire new knowledge and make money to be later employed in the jihad against the infidels, or they are there to proselytize the infidels until at least some convert to Islam. Any other reason for lingering among the unbelievers in their lands is illegitimate, and unless a Muslim leaves as quickly as possible, he or she is not a true Muslim and so too must be condemned.
    • Sufi and Shiite Muslims are viciously condemned.
    Freedom House says that they undertook this project "... after many Muslims requested the Center’s help in exposing Saudi extremism in the hope of freeing their communities from ideological strangulation." That is very good news indeed. In additon to our War on Terror, there is a very real war within Islam between moderates and radicals. It is not completely clear to me that the moderates are winning. The elections in Iraq and that moderates went to Freedom House are good signs, however.

    A copy of the 89 page publication can be downloaded from their website here. It makes for very disturbing reading.

    Hat tip to G Gordon Liddy for making me aware of the Freedom House publication during his radio show.

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