My UN Speech

I have been away from these boards for a while, and I see that the Iraq debate(s) are burbling along just as they were when I was here last.

So, here is a topic for debate: I personally think the war justified, but not for the reasons initially cited; and I further think that the Bush administration would have been better advised to have stated what I am assuming were their real reasons for war. Does anyone on either side of the debate agree with that?

Here is my version of what Powell’s UN speech ought to have been, if I were in charge: :smiley:

"Yo, listen up dudes. I’m only gonna say this once.

People have been asking questions about why we are leaning on Iraq; and why now, and not before.

The answer is really very simple. We have long been disgusted by the level of incompetence, untrustworthyness, psychotic government, and general ill-will towards us displayed by the corrupt dictators that infest the mid-east. During the cold war, we were willing to tolerate, even to cultivate them, because frankly we had other more important things to worry about. Even after the cold war, we restrained ourselves to hammering them only when they got totally out of line, like in that Iraq-Kuwait nonsense.

But that was because we thought that their insanity would not really affect us. Let 'em screw each other over - we had no desire to police them for their own good; we knew full well we would get only grief for it.

Unfortunately, our restraint was interpreted as weakness and vacillation. This encouraged said dictators to further and worse outrages. They continued to fund terrorists of various stripes (some of whom we funded ourselves in the past, to annoy the Soviets, but whom we now wished to go away), to (we suspect) attempt to secretly collect WMDs, and to defy all efforts of control.

Once again, we couldn’t really be bothered, because they mostly oppressed their own people or others in the region. However, all that changed on 9/11.

Now look, we don’t to be honest understand why the f*ck Al-Queda did that; and frankly, we don’t care. Nor do we know for sure that Iraq was behind them - probably not. But that doesn’t matter in the least. The fact is, the general anarchy in the region, the governmental encouragement of Al-Queda and other nutso groups like them, and the hostility displayed towards us - combined with contempt for our power - has got to stop.

Because it is now obvious that it does, in fact, potentially affect us.

Iraq is a prime example of all of these problems. They openly defy the UN; they openly fund terrorists, paying “martyrs” a bonus; they have been to war under the current dictator against two neighbouring countries; they have used WMDs on their own people. Saddam and his sons are total wacky psychos, who kill, rape and pillage their own people with a will.

In other words, they will do for a start; you gotta start somewhere. The rest of you ME dictators, take careful notes: if you don’t shape up, restrict your anarchic troubles to your own countries, and earn our trust, we will come and kick your ass. Cleaning up your shithole countries, and giving your people decent governments, would be a nice side-effect.

As for you, UN, Saddam and sons are playing you like a fiddle and will do so until doomsday. We aren’t playing that game any more - we don’t give a shit about inspections. We would rather not spend billions of dollars and scores of our soldiers’ lives kicking Saddam’s ass, but quite frankly, the upside in terms of encouraging the others to fall in line may in fact be worth it - so he better start kissing our ass now, and work that tounge
right in, because otherwise his days are surely numbered.

Thank you for your attention, ladies and gentlemen."

Do you actually have any legal justifications for an invasion?

US foreign policy: “Because we want too”

Malthus, you should run for Pres. Your argument is just as strong as any he ever put forth.

I think that the legal justifications were just that - ex post justifications for what they decided to do. Not the actual reasons they decided to do it, however.

Whether any existed, or were/were not adequate, is an issue which has been debated to death and is probably impossible to resolve. Frankly, I think the best thing for them to do is say clearly and honestly why they went ahead. I do not believe they did that, maybe in part because of their (initial) desire to conform with their justifications.

In other words, in order to stay within the lines of “legal” justifications, I think they streatched the truth, acted with a certain amount of wilful blindness towards dubious intelligence info (which told them what they wanted to hear), and obscured their actual motives. Which is too bad, because I happen to agree with their actual motives, to a point.

The question is, is my reconstruction of their actual motives accurate or not?

Laws shouldn’t be designed to protect nations like Iraq.


From Richard Bolt’s “A Man for All Seasons”

As long as we’re bringing up quotes:

Iraq consistenly violated the sanctions, the cease fire and the WMD ban.

under int. law the only ways to declare war are in immediate self defense or UN approval. I know i will catch flaq for this, but i don’t trust the security council blindly. Not because they didnt’ rubber stamp the US invasion, but because the 10 cycling members and 5 permanent members will act out of self interest. Russia, France & China had business deals with Iraq. Plus, its my understanding that standing up to the US gave the leaders of France or Russia the ability to appeal to their populuses.

The Security council was designed to stop the next hitler, but if the security council had existed in 1939 the Germans probably would’ve bought one of the 5 permanent members off with a few billion in business deals and then done whatever they felt like. Its like blindly trusting police when you know the Chief is corrupt. I am not bothered that the UN didn’t give approval. The US routinely vetoes condemnations of Israel, NATO went around the UN because they knew Russia would veto anything to do with yugoslavia, and one of the reasons Sudan hasn’t gotten UN consideration is because China has business deals with them.

Overall, if this were a war against a respectable government i probably would have been opposed to it. But the ex-Iraq gov. was one of the worst governments in the world, they shouldn’t get an endless amount of appeasement the same way a respectable, human rights protecting liberal democracy should in the same situation.

Interesting suggestion, Malthus, except:

You do not go into how ass-kicking actually improves the lives of the people in those countries. If you’ll recall, the largest part of the anti-war position was about what happens afterward, and how inflamed resentments can lead to increased terrorism. We won’t know for decades, and we don’t know how long the occupation will have to be. Even if Powell had said what you suggest, he’d still be shortsighted (which he isn’t) and wrong.

You also do not note that Bush strategy did not consider the rebuilding problem except in very cursory detail. The main point was the withdrawal of US forces, amid a flowery parade, within a few months. They never intended to do what you say. You need to provide an alternative not only Powell’s words, but to the administration’s strategy as well.

I thought I tried to capture the fact that, fundamentally, the US administration was not concerned with improving the lives of the people who live there. That would be a nice bonus, or side-effect, but it certainly was not their motivation - and if you read my little speech, you will see I never came close to claiming that it was. Quite the contrary.

I think the invasion was undertaken to hammer the mid-east regimes, to make them fear and respect US power. They would not have bothered, except that 9/11 demonstrated that the US was not immune to the effects of the instability in the region. Iraq was a handy target, because the government there was (lets face it) totally unsavory.

The ultimate question boils down to this: if terrorism is a result of resentments, surely a military crackdown would increase those resentments, and thus not be in the US self-interest.

If on the other hand terrorism is caused by a more complex process - whereby mideast regimes attempt to inflame public opinion against the West, in order to destract their people from their own incompetent, despotic rule; whereby Islam is corrupted and perverted by Wahhabi fanatics, fueled by money originating from those same corrupt rulers; in which, in other words, the resentments of the masses are cynically manipulated by despots for their own purposes - then, military intervention makes sense. The masses cannot be prevented from resenting the West. The despots, however, can indeed be prevented from their meddling, and deterred from future trouble-making.

Now, I don’t for a moment believe that humanitarian interest would be sufficient to trigger intervention. Self-interest alone explains it. As far as the US is concerned, it is not sufficient to hunt down the particular perps who instigated 9/11 (indeed, I seriously doubt Iraq had anything at all to do with it) – what is necessary, is to change a whole climate of opinion in the middle east, whereby governments & other groups thought it safe to stir up hatred against the US as a “folk devil”.

You’re missing some key words there, let me help you fix it:

Much better.

Now, then, since the sanctions and the cease fire and the WMD ban were issued by the UN, it is therefore up to the UN to decide (1) whether or not Iraq was in violation, and (2) what actions were appropriate in response to #1. Since the United States ignored the UN and took unilateral action on its own, it therefore does not have “legal justification” for the war.

Unless, of course, you think vigilante action is a perfectly acceptable way of upholding peace. Most of us, however, recognize the difference between comic books and real life, which is why not everyone is scrambling to join your line of argument.

But if the United States starts a war out of its own self-interest, that’s okay with you, eh? :rolleyes:

Actually, I have a bit of trouble with the concept of international law regulating matters of war and peace - I am just not sure how useful a concept it is, without a sovreign power to enforce it.

Malthus, there are laws against murder, do you obey those laws only because someone will punish you if you commit murder or because you know that murder is bad? maybe both? 50-50, 30-70? What´s the reason why most people obey laws?
However your point is valid in the aspect of how laws would ultimately be enforced. If the UN has the power to do it in all cases seems to be an important question.
I´d dare to make a suggestion of how such laws could be enforced, treaties (like the UN Charter) should consist of two parts, the first would cover the obligations to wich the signing party will be bound from now on, and the second would be a certain benefit for that party; if the signer doesn`t comply with the treaty then such benefit would be withdrawn.
Any comments or critics about this?

Funny, the last post bears Malthus name not mine… =/