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« Writing for children | Main | Change and decay »

June 21, 2004

Comments

jim

I never met Bill Clinton myself, but a close relative of mine was an advisor (technical, not political) to him for a period of time and, whilst this relative profoundly disagreed with Clinton's politics, he found Clinton to be a charming, pleasant and decent human being.

I am therefore intrigued by your declaration that Bill Clinton was "the worst human being ever to be President". I'd be interested in what you base this assertion upon, and what it is that made Clinton so much worse than other presidents.

Dan Hardie

Oh really? I attach a link to a transcript of a conversation between the 37th President of the United States and one of his closest aides, discussing how to deal with anti-war demonstrators (and, of course, discussing the ethnicity of some of said demonstrators- turns out the Jews were controlling everything again). I know it's Boring Received Wisdom to say that Richard Nixon was an anti-semitic paranoid thug with a thirst for violence..but these tapes do rather suggest he was.
The document is at:
http://www.ssa.gov/history/Nixon/491-014.rtf

Read it all, Oliver. Suggested highlights:

HALDEMAN: ... they're gonna stir up some of this Vietcong flag business as Colson's gonna do it through hardhats and legionnaires. What Colson's gonna do on it, and what I suggested he do, and I think that they can get a, away with this, do it with the Teamsters. Just ask them to dig up those, their eight thugs.
PRESIDENT: Yeah.
HALDEMAN Just call, call, uh, what's his name.
PRESIDENT: Fitzsimmons.
HALDEMAN: Is trying to get play our game anyway. Is just, just tell Fitzsimmons...
PRESIDENT: They, they've got guys who'll go in and knock their heads off.
HALDEMAN: Sure. Murderers. Guys that really, you know, that's what they really do. Like the Steelworkers have and except we can't deal with the Steelworkers at the moment.
PRESIDENT: No.
HALDEMAN: We can deal with the Teamsters. And they , you know,...
PRESIDENT: Yeah.
HALDEMAN: ...it's the regular strikebusters types and all that and they (tape noise) types and this and then they're gonna beat the shit out of some of these people. And, uh, and hope they really hurt ‘em. You know, I mean go in with some real and smash some noses. (Tape Noise) some pretty good fights.

Dan Hardie

Sorry- first line of my comment should have been the following quote from Oliver:
'Clinton himself - the worst human being ever to be President -'- followed by my 'oh really?'

True, it's not much of a boast to be a less dreadful human being than Richard Nixon, but even so...

janus

Sorry, this is completely off topic, but i notice that this blog and several others are littered with inane commercial links, obviously not placed there by the author. Thus, in article about a car bomb, the word 'car' is hyperlinked to some exclusive deal on new cars. Does anyone know how this happens and how it can be combated?

On topic, perhaps, the phrase 'worst human being' strikes me as ambiguous. Does it roughly mean 'most immoral'? Or does it somehow mean 'worst at being human,' in the same way that if we said someone was the 'worst plumber' we would mean the worst at plumbing?

Rich

I agree with Dan. Richard Nixon and Lyndon Johnson come to mind as two who could at least give Clinton a run for his money in the worst human being to occupy the White House stakes.

Oliver

Janus - You need Spyware. It's not dangerous and I'm not accomplished to tell you how and why it happens, but it happened to me, and I bought something called Spyhunter software over the net which solved it completely (about £20, I recall) Ask your helpline.

Oliver

Janus - You need Spyware. It's not dangerous and I'm not accomplished to tell you how and why it happens, but it happened to me, and I bought something called Spyhunter software over the net which solved it completely (about £20, I recall) Ask your helpline.

Effra

You can keep spambots at bay with freeware called "Spybot- Search and Destroy", downloadable here:

http://www.safer-networking.org/

Give them a donation if it does the business.

Oliver Kamm

Dan & Rich - Indeed: you could have gone further back and cited the remarks of Harry S. Truman too: "The Jews, I find are very, very selfish. They care not how many Estonians, Latvians, Finns, Poles, Yugoslavs or Greeks get murdered or mistreated as DP as long as the Jews get special treatment. Yet when they have power, physical, financial or political neither Hitler nor Stalin has anything on them for cruelty or mistreatment to the underdog."

I find it no excuse to note, as William Safire did (and I hasten to add that Safire didn't offer it as one), that the pro-Israel public actions of Nixon and Truman belied their private sentiments. But I still don't revise my judgement of Clinton, whose culpability lay in his acts and not merely his private beliefs.

Thanks to the other contributors: it's off-topic, but it's useful information to me.

John in Tokyo

Explain your criteria for "worst human being". I have no illusions about him or any president or politician. But despite his many failings and flaws, which of his many pecadillos drove you to that conclusion and why do you feel that they are worse than the pecadillos of all other men/women in power?

alex

Firstly, I agree that peace cannot be made with Arafat. He worries more about his own stature than the needs of his people. He is a ruthless despot and a bloodthirsty terrorist.

However, I'm puzzled as to why the discussion of Camp David gets reduced down to the question of who made most realpolitik "concessions" and not the important question of whether peace proposals meet commonly understood principles of justice. Whilst, in terms of realpolitik, Barak gave ground, it is absolutely clear that he did not offer anything like the sort of sovereignty that Palestinians legitimately expect. There were surely good independent reasons for rejecting (or at least being skeptical of)the Camp David proposals - for example, the legal status of 120,000 Palestinians on land to be annexed by Israel, the lack of any clarity as regards the removal of outlying settlements and the lack of genuine Palestinian authority over Arab areas of East Jerusalem.

I'm all for a degree of pragmatism in resolving the dispute (if not only because of the equally competing tragedies of both Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs) but only on terms that take seriously the claims to justice that each side puts forward. Surely, Palestinians should not be expected to accept any deal laid down, soley as a consequence of asymetrical relations of negotiating power.

Barry Meislin

Barak's proposals were particularly egregious, given Arafat's demands (though not made during the negotiations) that Israel withdraw to the 1967 borders, return all of East Jerusalem(except, perhaps, the Jewish Quarter of the Old City) to Palestinian rule, and allow all Palestinian refugees and their offspring to return to their former homes within the Israel's 1967 borders.

Dan Hardie

'But I still don't revise my judgement of Clinton, whose culpability lay in his acts and not merely his private beliefs.'

So Nixon gets a free pass for (deep breath)discussing the use of Teamster thugs to attack antiwar demonstrators (by a staggering coincidence, peace demonstrators were actually attacked after that conversation by 'hard hats', and by another staggering coincidence, Nixon thereafter pardoned the Teamster president, in jail for Mafia links); for bombing Cambodia, causing high civilian casualties, whilst not informing Congress that this was happening; for authorising a group of thugs to bug and burgle his political opponents; for giving the posts of Attorney General and Vice President to criminals; for....
How on earth can you say Nixon merely said abhorrent things, and never did them?

maor

Clinton explains that Arafat wasn't ready for peace. This is after several years of public bickering with Netanyahu, because Netanyahu suspected Arafat wasn't ready for peace.
Clinton is a master of facts, but only well after they happen. I knew Arafat wasn't ready for peace by reading the newspaper (even though I was too young to vote), and I knew it many years before Clinton did. I'm glad he finally agrees with me.

Barry Meislin

On the other hand, I think that Clinton, though well known for his generosity of spirit (and other things besides), gives Arafat way too much credit:

'I am not a great man. I am a failure, and you have made me one.'

Oliver Kamm

"How on earth can you say Nixon merely said abhorrent things, and never did them?"

Fair point: I meant, and should have spelled out, "But I still don't revise my judgement of Clinton, whose culpability in personal matters lay in his acts and not merely his private beliefs."

When I listed post-war Presidents from best to worst, I put Nixon at the bottom, and would have been tempted to do so even without Watergate - though it's still a close call, even with Watergate, with Jimmy Carter.

Simon

Actually, Oliver, you did in fact place Carter at the bottom, and Nixon one place above.

Andrew Ian Dodge

Clinton was certainly the most selfish President ever. However, to be honest, he did far less damage to the country than Carter.

Nixon was certainly not the worst US president of the last century. Bottom five maybe not the worst. He was definetely the worst Republican President by far.

Oliver Kamm

I stand corrected. I see now I went for peerless incompetence over criminality. It probably ought to have been the other way round.

Janan Ganesh

Nixon was an underrated President. Bombing Cambodia was entirely reasonable given that (a) the Viet Cong were launching their incursions from that notionally "neutral" land and (b) the Cambodians wanted the bombing to happen.

His great foreign policy achievement was to wean America off the fanatical Wilsonian crusading that led to the Vietnam debacle and replace it with sober Kissingerian realism. Liberal interventionists detest him for this very reason but, as long as they sit back while thousands of their countrymen die in "liberal" wars (58,000 in the case of 'Nam), I cannot bring myself to take them seriously.

Detente was necessary given the weakness of America's position in the early 1970s. The fact that detente ended up becoming a farce was the fault of Nixon's useless successors, not Nixon himself. As for the civilian casualties, Nixon was president of the USA, not Vietnam or Cambodia. His responsibility is to his own country.

alex

Janan,

Are you an IR student by any chance?

Very bullish and under-developed assumptions.

bless.

Jabotinsky

"As for the civilian casualties, Nixon was president of the USA, not Vietnam or Cambodia. His responsibility is to his own country."

Janan, if you'd been assimilating the constant theme of this blog a little longer, you'd realise that Nixon's responsibility-- like that of everyone else on the planet, in thought, word and deed- is to Israel.

Janan Ganesh

Jabotinsky - touche.

Alex - explain how my assumptions were bullish and under-developed. Or just sneer and condescend to disguise your inability to say anything substantial. It's up to you.

Dan Hardie

'(b) the Cambodians wanted the bombing to happen. '

Right, Janan, I'd like a reference to one (1) source indicating that this claim reflects some kind of reality and is not a demented invention of your own. (Btw, 'the Cambodians' is held to mean 'a majority of Cambodians, or a lawful government of Cambodia', not 'a military junta installed by a CIA coup expressly for the purpose of inviting US military action'.)

Oliver's original point was that 'Clinton himself -(was) the worst human being ever to be President - '.
He amplifies this: 'I still don't revise my judgement of Clinton, whose culpability in personal matters lay in his acts and not merely his private beliefs."
So Oliver thinks Clinton's wrongdoing was limited to his personal life, whereas Nixon's wrongdoing included (not an exhaustive list) illegal and unauthorised acts of war abroad, the use of massive force against civilians, the creation of an illegal domestic espionage team to commit crimes against opponents, the appointment of criminals to the posts of Attorney General and Vice President, and the attempted use of the CIA to block an FBI investigation.

So, obviously, Clinton was 'the worst human being ever to be President'. Indeed.

Janan Ganesh

No, I intended "the Cambodians" to denote the Cambodian government, in the same way we speak of "the French" or "the Chinese" when we are actually refering to their current governments (i.e. "the French have tabled a new resolution", "the Chinese are warning the Taiwanese against declaring independence", etc). This is common habit, even if it is a problematic one.

Whether the majority of Cambodians wanted the bombing to occur has nothing at all to do with the legality of the bombing. Aside from the civilian deaths (which, as I said before, shouldn't be a concern to the American president), the reason the bombing was so contentious was that it was supposedly a violation of Cambodian sovereignty. But it was no such thing, as the Cambodian government did not oppose the bombing. It is this distinction which explains why Kosovo, rather than Somalia, is regarded as the first outright humanitarian intervention - in the latter case, the Somali government (which basically didn't exist) did not oppose the intervention, and so there was no legal dillemma about sovereignty.

Some of the charges you make against Nixon are either irrelevant (e.g. civilian casualties) or applicable with even greater force to Clinton. The most obvious example of the latter was the Kosovo bombing, which lacked a legal basis in either UN or customary international law. There is no doctrine of humanitarian intervention in customary law, pace Blair's attempts to pretend otherwise in his Chicago speech.

Of course, the most fundamental point to be made about this is that international law is irrelevant as long it lacks an enforcement mechanism, and therefore a president's adherence to it should not be a criterion by which he is assessed. But that's another debate.

If you want to contest my assertion that Nixon was an underrated president who brought about an absolutely essential doctrinal shift away from immoderate Wilsonianism, please do.

Oliver Kamm

Indeed.

No, I don't think, and didn't say, Clinton's wrongdoing was limited to his personal life. His personal characteristics were replicated in his conduct in office: his cupidity was reflected in his and Mrs Clinton's systematic asset-stripping of public property on leaving the White House. Nixon's character flaws sometimes did determine his conduct in office (his paranoia led him to set up a Presidential party operating in defiance of the Constitution) and sometimes didn't (his personal antisemitism did not prevent his saving Israel in the Yom Kippur War). That was the reason for my distinguishing between acts and beliefs in personal matters. I certainly know of no President other than Clinton - Nixon and even Johnson included - who believed one of the privileges of political office was to able to coerce whoever you liked into having sex.

Oliver Kamm

'Jabotinsky' (though I have a shrewd suspicion that that isn't your real name) - The accusation of dual loyalty is an antisemitic canard of long provenance, so I doubt that my challenging you to substantiate your absurd assertion would make any difference. But go ahead and humour me anyway.

Yes, it is an axiomatic cause for liberals to support Israel; no, that doesn't counteract an American's loyalty to his country. This blog sticks closely to that line.

Dan Hardie

To Janan, I wrote that he needed to come up with one source backing his claim that 'the Cambodians wanted' US bombing, adding helpfully:'(Btw, 'the Cambodians' is held to mean 'a majority of Cambodians, or a lawful government of Cambodia', not 'a military junta installed by a CIA coup expressly for the purpose of inviting US military action'.)'
And poor Janan couldn't read that second sentence. Read it, read some Cambodian history, get back to me. One source stating that a majority of Cambodians or a legitimate, non-CIA-coup-installed Cambodian government 'wanted' bombing. Lotsa luck finding one.

Oliver says: 'I certainly know of no President other than Clinton - Nixon and even Johnson included - who believed one of the privileges of political office was to able to coerce whoever you liked into having sex.'

First of all, on the general point of Presidents treating women as sexual trophies, read any biography of JFK not authored by someone named 'Schlesinger'. JFK boasted, to Harold Macmillan no less, of getting through a woman a day.

Second of all, Clinton's behaviour towards women strikes me as sleazy and contemptible. But there is a word for 'coerc(ing) whoever you liked into having sex', and that word is 'rape'. Yes, I've read the Hitchens chapter on Juanita Broaddrick and other accusations, and as I'm supposed to interview Hitchens, I shall have to raise it with him. But I wouldn't in my personal life call a man a rapist because a woman had made unsupported accusations against him, and I'm afraid I won't adopt a different standard with regard to a politician- even a slimy, duplicitous politician, as Clinton undoubtedly was.

If we both agree that Clinton's fundraising behaviour was deeply questionable, and if I further add that his behaviour over the execution of Ricky Ray Rector was disgusting, I'm afraid we're still left with a human being whose offences come nowhere near those of Richard Milhous Nixon. And I haven't even mentioned Woodrow Wilson's complicity in the worst forms of racist and red-baiting demagoguery, John F. Kennedy's assassination plots, abuse of the IRS and possible organised crime links, Johnson's multiple abuses of FBI power against opponents and Reagan's support for several gangs of utterly vile terrorists in Southern Africa and Central America.

Dan Hardie

Yes, 'Jabotinsky' is a sicko making the usual 'Jews support Israel first' accusation. Put up some evidence or shut up. And do so under your real name, not some clumsily-chosen nom de guerre. If you don't have the guts to name yourself, I suggest 'De Gobineau' as an alternative moniker.

Janan Ganesh


I didn't say the Cambodian government was elected, I just said it was the Cambodian government, which is all that matters when it comes to the question of sovereignty. Sihanouk had invited the bombing that eventually came in 1969 and the US-led coup occured only after that, so the coup's "express purpose" could not have been to invite the bombing, unless you believe an invitation can apply retrospectively to something that has already happened.

Presumably, your preferred policy would have been to allow the Viet Cong to continue launching attacks on American forces from Cambodia with impunity? I ask this because it makes a point more general than the issue of Cambodia: the unreasonableness of moralistic perspectives on foreign policy, and specifically their inability to offer alternatives to the "realist" policies they disdain.

How would you have responded to communist gains in the Western hemisphere other than by supporting the "utterly vile terrorists" (I call them freedom fighters, me) who were resisting them, as Reagan did? Would you have intervened directly with American forces? Would you have just allowed the communist gains to happen without resistance? Why do you object to targeted assassinations of foreign leaders who are deemed to be threats? This is the real world, not Sesame Street.

maor

'(Btw, 'the Cambodians' is held to mean 'a majority of Cambodians, or a lawful government of Cambodia', not 'a military junta installed by a CIA coup expressly for the purpose of inviting US military action'.)'

If a country never had a legitimate government, is it necessary to take a poll of the residents?
I'm curious because for some countries, Iraq comes to mind, this principle would have enormous legal implications.

maor

"Arafat didn't make peace, because Arafat can't make peace. He is a corrupt and squalid autocrat."

Well, Sadat made peace.
I suspect Arafat is actually insane and everybody has been too "evenhanded" to notice.

Dan Hardie

Oh, Janan, you're going to be so embarrassed. Actually, not embarrassed; 'humiliated' is the word.

From the PBS documentary 'Vietnam: A television history' (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/vietnam/109ts.html)

'NARRATOR

In 1969, newly elected President Nixon launched secret B-52 bombing raids over Cambodia against North Vietnamese and Vietcong sanctuaries driving them further into the country. Nixon neither informed Sihanouk, nor sought his approval for this escalation.'

This is then followed by Henry Kissinger arguing that Sihanouk 'acquiesced' in the bombing. Bear in mind Kissinger's repeated dishonesty throughout his memoirs- not even he claims that Sihanouk 'invited' the bombing, but that he acquiesced in it after the fact:

'HENRY KISSINGER (National Security Adviser)

We had many indirect evidences of Sihanouk's acquiescence in the bombing. Repeatedly, when he was asked at press conferences he would say that of course he did not approve attacks on Cambodia territory, but he did not know what was going on in territory occupied by what he called the Vietminh, which was the earlier name for the North Vietnamese sponsored guerrilla activity. He invited Nixon to visit Cambodia while the bombing was going on. He reestablished diplomatic relations with us.'

And there is no doubt that the major factor in Sihanouk's overthrow was his resistance to an escalation in the US bombing and a US ground move against the VC troops:
From the PBS documentary:
'NARRATOR

A week later, Sihanouk's anti-Communist opponents ousted him and issued orders for his execution. Sihanouk's former prime minister, General Lon Nol, led the new government, which promptly received secret American military aid.'

And from Northern Illinois University's Center for Southeast Asian Studies website (http://www.seasite.niu.edu/khmer/Ledgerwood/Part1.htm) -

'Antagonism towards the Sihanouk regime increased in the 1960s among the urban elite, students and intellectuals, and the prince was overthrown in 1970 by his own Prime-Minister and senior military officials in a coup d’etat. While the United States denies orchestrating the coup, General Lon Nol was immediately awash in US funding. *The knowledge that US support would be forthcoming was undoubtedly an important motivating factor for the men who directed the coup.* (Emphasis added: DH.)

'In 1970, the US and South Vietnamese armed forces launched heavy military air and ground campaigns against North Vietnamese soldiers inside Cambodia. Their goal was to capture the headquarters of the Vietnamese communist movement, which was based inside Cambodian territory, but which was never found by the invading forces....'
So, when you say 'Sihanouk had invited the bombing that eventually came in 1969' that's two factual errors; and when you say and the US-led coup occured only after that, so the coup's "express purpose" could not have been to invite the bombing' the coup came in 1970 but was then followed by the bombing, so that's nothing but errors in your account of Cambodian history. Nice one.

As to 'living in the real world' implying support for the Contras, RENAMO and UNITA- well I, of course, always live on Pluto. Your tough guy rhetoric aside, I note that even Margaret Thatcher was a ferocious opponent of support for RENAMO and UNITA, and at a private session with US Senators in 1986, savaged the old far-right lunatic Jesse Helms for his support for these terrorists. (For details see David Dimbleby, 'A very special relationship.') Why do I use the word 'terrorist'? Oh, because they carried out attacks in which the main or only targets were civilians, schools and clinics. Trivia like that. But maybe I, like Margaret Thatcher, am a sentimental lefty stuck in some unreal world.

Dan Hardie

Sorry, penultimate paragraph a little messed up by cut and paste: should read:

You say- 'Sihanouk had invited the bombing that eventually came in 1969' and 'the coup's "express purpose" could not have been to invite the bombing'.
That's nothing but errors in your account of Cambodian history. Nice one.

(I note, by the way, that the US Government in 1970, and Henry Kissinger since, have denied that the US was in any way responsible for the 1970 coup in Cambodia. But Janan talks about 'the US-led coup'. Stop peddling your crypto-Communism, Janan, and start living in the real world, where Jonas Savimbi is a 'freedom fighter'.)

Janan Ganesh

Dan, you're not as devastatingly sharp and caustic as your rather attention-seeking rhetoric suggests you believe. People who have to resort to gauche attempts at condescension rarely are.

Half of your last post is devoted to distinguishing between invitation and acquiesence. If you think the fact that Sinahouk merely "acquiesced" to the bombing, rather than explicitly asking for it, fundamentally defeats my original contention (i.e. that was no sovereignty dilemma with the bombing), then you're not being serious.

The two parts of my argument that have made you most excitable are just issues of wording (i.e. the meaning of "the Cambodians" and the invitation/acquiesence distinction). If this kind of low pedantry makes you feel big, then fine, but don't pass it off as something substantial.

Most importantly, you were the first to use the word "invite" in this thread with regard to the Cambodian position on the bombing. I then used the word after you in the (evidently false) assumption that you weren't too petty to insist on distinguishing it from acquiesence.


As for the chronology of the bombing, I suggest you ask for a refund on whichever works of history you've been reading. It is an objective fact that the bombing of Cambodia began in February-March 1969. It is also an objective fact that the coup against Sihanouk occured almost exactly one year later, in March 1970. The bombing continued after the coup, but it started long before. Therefore, the purpose of the coup cannot have been to install a government that would "invite" the bombing. This is the second time I have had to point this out. This would be understandable if you failed to grasp my original attempt to explain it, but it seems you were guilty of something less excusable - an erroneous understanding of things as basic as dates and events.

It's also noticeable that you are reticent on the question of alternatives which I posed in my last post. You are by no means unique in this - I have yet to encounter any morally ostentatious critic of international realpolitik who hasn't gone quiet when asked what they would do instead. This is probably because offering prescriptive alternatives to existing policy is rather more challenging than indulging in cheap Pilgerist moralising.


Yes, I am so very "humiliated", Dan.

janus

'the Cambodians wanted the bombing to happen.' (Janesh) / ' Nixon neither informed Sihanouk, nor sought his approval for this escalation.'

Janesh -

You've already conceded that by 'Cambodians' you were referring to their government. Now if you genuinely think that aquiescing in something over which you have no control and 'wanting' something are roughly the same thing (and/or that the distinction between these things is merely 'pedantic)' then i can only conclude that either you have never had to 'acquiesce' in your life, or that English isn't your first language.

Janan Ganesh

Janus - you've got my name wrong. If I made a similar mistake with yours, it would be obscene, though arguably more accurate.

Again, like Dan, you are arguing against something I never said. My argument (is the third or fourth time I've had to explain it?) is that there was no sovereignty dilemma over the bombing, as there was no resistance to the bombing from the Cambodian government. Whether "no resistance" denotes invitation or acquiesence isn't relevant to my argument(and I certainly did not say acquiesence is a synonym for wanting, although in the specific case of Sinahouk it certainly was) and the fact that it is the centrepiece of yours (and Dan's) suggests an inability on your part to address the substance of this debate.

Dan Hardie

Last night I looked up two highly acclaimed print works on Cambodia: Ben Kiernan's 'The Pol Pot Regime' and David Chandler's 'The Tragedy of Cambodian History'. Kiernan's first chapter is a brief history of the prologue to the Pol Pot takeover: it contains zero (0) statements that Sihanouk or any other Cambodian government 'wanted the bombing to happen', and states that Nixon commenced the bombing without informing or requesting permission of Sihanouk. Chandler goes into the same story in more detail. His account contains zero (0) statements that Sihanouk 'wanted the bombing to happen', states that Sihanouk tried a number of political gambits after the bombing commenced, including an attempted rapprochement with the Viet Cong/North Vietnamese, details the military ineffectiveness of the bombing and its massively harmful effects to Cambodian society, estimates the number of civilian dead at 150,000 and then gives an account of the Lon Nol coup- making, again, zero (0) statements that even the Lon Nol government 'wanted the bombing to happen'.
I asked Janan for one (1) statement that a legitimate Cambodian government 'wanted the bombing to happen'. And I'm still waiting.

Along the way, though, I have heard from Janan that 'this isn't Sesame Street'. Thanks for that: I always imagined I was living in a children's programme before you told me. Janan also fulminates that I haven't said what I would do instead of funding UNITA, RENAMO and the Contras. Simple: I would have not funded these repulsive and strategically trivial groups, and Soviet Communism would have collapsed at precisely the same time that it did anyway, not an hour sooner or later.

I've answered your question, Janan- care to answer mine? This is now the fourth time I've asked you:
Can you please refer me to one (1) source backing your contention that 'the Cambodians wanted the bombing to happen'?

Janan Ganesh

Dan, I notice you've given up defending the notion that the coup preceded the bombing, which you had been insisting on earlier (so much so that I was to be "humiliated"). Normally, this kind of basic factual error would be followed by some humility and acknowledgement of fault. I could quite reasonably refuse to respond to anything you say until you admit that you were wrong and that your assertion that my historical account of Cambodia is "nothing but errors" is looking pretty dumb now, but I'm a tolerant man.

As for the source, you have already provided the Kissinger quote which said that Sihanouk acquiesced. Presumably you don't deny that Sihanouk invited Nixon to Cambodia even while he was bombing it. Or that he did not entreaty him to cease the bombing while he was there. Or that he re-established diplomatic relations with America during the bombing. If this isn't proof of acquiesence, what is? If your definition of Cambodian acquiesence is an explicit statement from a government official saying "Please bomb us, Mr. Nixon", I'm not the one who's being
unreasonable.

If you return to my first post on this thread, you'll see that I offered two reasons why Nixon's bombing of Cambodia wasn't wrong. Cambodian acquiesence was one of them, and explains why there was no sovereignty dilemma over the bombing. The second was that Vietcong incursions were being launched from Cambodia. This was the overriding strategic imperative for the bombing, and you haven't addressed it at all. You have said that you wouldn't have supported South American terror groups, but you haven't tried to defend the idea of doing nothing while American troops are murdered by Vietnamese insurgencies from a supposedly "neutral" country. The reason, I suspect, is because it is an indefensible position.

Dan Hardie

Janan said '(b) the Cambodians wanted the bombing to happen. '

I asked Janan (and this is now the fifth time I have made the request):
I'd like a reference to one (1) source indicating that this claim reflects some kind of reality and is not a demented invention of your own. (Btw, 'the Cambodians' is held to mean 'a majority of Cambodians, or a lawful government of Cambodia', not 'a military junta installed by a CIA coup expressly for the purpose of inviting US military action'.)'

Do I say above that the coup preceded the bombing? No: I say that there is no evidence that any legitimate government of Cambodia 'wanted the bombing'; I have seen some evidence, but this is contradicted elsewehere, that 'a military junta installed by a CIA coup expressly for the purpose of inviting US military action', ie the Lon Nol government, may have supported the bombing. Kissinger's notorious and proven dishonesty to one side, no English dictionary in existence that I know of accepts 'acquiesce in' as a synonym of 'want'. If you know of a dictionary that does so, please quote it to me.

And so I ask you, for the fifth time:
Please cite me one (1) source that indicates that the Cambodians, in your unadulerated words, 'wanted the bombing'.


janus

'you are arguing against something I never said'.

'the Cambodians wanted the bombing to happen.'

Well, i suppose technically you typed it rather than saying it, but you won't get off on that kind of technicality. If you can seriously maintain that the (second) statement above is true in any meaningful sense, then you are simply abusing the English language.

And yes, 'Janus' is already pre-loaded with a quota of humour...

Janus

The whole discussion is in any case an outrageous avoidance of the issues. Do you know how many people were killed in the bombings? The CIA estimate is that 600,000 people were killed in the course of those US actions, either directed or actually carried out by the United States. We are talking about mass murder for goodness sake. And are you aware of the secret bombings in Cambodia and northern Laos from the earliest days of the Nixon Administration (see Tad Szulc, "Mum's the War," New Republic, August 18-25, 1973; Walter V. Robinson, "Cambodian Raids -- the Real Story," Boston Globe, August 12, 1973.) The cynical contempt you evince for the victims of those bombings (and for the truth) is frankly sickening and i'm afraid that this time even your tenuous grasp of semantics won't let you off the hook.

Rich

Two points:

There was no "CIA coup" in Cambodia. It was a coup by Cambodian right-wingers which the US welcomed. That simply isn't the same thing as a CIA coup. The distinction is an important one.

The oft quoted CIA estimate of 600,000 killed refers to TOTAL deaths above the natural rate during the civil war of 1970-75. This includes deaths inflicted by both the the Khmer Rouge and Khmer Republic, along with US bombing. Serious estimates of deaths by US bombing range from 30,000 (Craig Etcheson, Rise and Demise of Democratic Kampuchea) to 50,000-150,000 (Ben Kiernan). The actual impact of US bombing was quite horrible; there's no need to exaggerate it with conflated statistics.

To this I would only add that it must take a remarkable measure of cold bloodedness to believe a US President should not concern himself with the humanitarian impact of his policies.

janus

Readers might like to look at an article i recently came across by one Janan Ganesh (http://www.beloved-freedom.com/article.php?id=94&PHPSESSID=cda09e7f620b1a1e4f7bb57a945bc187).

It does it least wear its ideological heart on its sleeve. That the heart is made of alarming flimflam is not something that need concern us here. A typical example:

America's unipolarity should be celebrated by all freedom-loving people. We are living in a unique phase of history where the world's only serious power is also history's greatest liberal democracy. With Europe and China destined for richly-deserved mediocrity, and with Russia likely to remain decrepit, America's growing demographic, economic, military and cultural might will make this another American century.

I trust our own Mr Ganesh will be keen to distance himself from this namesake, so as to avoid the possibility of confusion and of his own name being discredited.

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