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December 24, 2003



they have been negotiating since well before the war started, I think.

David Gillies

Actually this round of negotiations started pretty much around the time that serious levels of forces were moving in-theatre.

There's a problem (a rhetorical one, not a logical) with the argument that the US and UK were enforcing UN resolutions and therefore acting multilaterally in defence of international law. I've deployed this point against a few anti-war types and they ponder for a couple of seconds (or minutes, depending) and then you can see the light bulb go on over their heads. "Aha!" they say, "But what about Israel? Why doesn't the US enforce those UN resolutions? Eh? Eh?" It becomes tiresome to point out a) that this is a non sequitur and b) that there is a world of difference between Chapter Six and Chapter Seven resolutions. Invoking Resolution 181 or the San Remo Conference merely elicits a blank look, the sound of whirring mental gears, quickly followed by, "Aha! What about Israel? Why doesn't the US enforce those UN resolutions? Eh? Eh?" repeated ad nauseam. For the sake of my blood pressure I usually knock it on the head at this point and get another drink.

Peter Bocking

Why is there a belief that one can horse trade without a horse?There is absolutely no reason why anyone would concede anything, in the absence of reward or compulsion.Nation states do not see "our point of view" after a cozy chat then mend their ways.Diplomacy seems to have been reduced to counselling and is frighteningly unsuited to the dangers we now face.
A Seasons Greetings to yo Mr Kamm.


A bit of easily overlooked Iran-Iraq War history (courtesy of the Library of Congress Online): "The principal events that touched off the rapid deterioration in relations occurred during the spring of 1980. In April the Iranian-supported Ad Dawah attempted to assassinate Iraqi foreign minister Tariq Aziz. Shortly after the failed grenade attack on Tariq Aziz, Ad Dawah was suspected of attempting to assassinate another Iraqi leader, Minister of Culture and Information Latif Nayyif Jasim. In response, the Iraqis immediately rounded up..." etc.

As loathsome as Saddam Hussein indubitably was and remains, his "aggression" against Iran--as opposed to mild-mannered, oily Kuwait--demands at least _that much_ mitigation.

Otherwise, Rumsfeld's 1980s nose-holding niceties regarding Iraq are well nigh indefensible.

Barry Meislin

"Otherwise, Rumsfeld's 1980s nose-holding niceties regarding Iraq are well nigh indefensible."

Perhaps. But only if one forgets or chooses to disregard the Ayatollah Khomeini's hostage-taking performance at the American embassy in Teheran, his ear-splitting arias against America and her interests, and his impressive hysterics regarding "the goal," viz. to spread the Islamic revolution to the entire region.

At the time, it appeared that only Saddam stood between Khomeini and those goals.

Indeed, the "80s" are a rather longish time, and to excoriate the US---whose opposition to Iran translated, real-politic-wise, into relatively tepid support of Saddam in a war that began in 1980---because of Saddam's gassing of Kurds at Halabjah in March 1988 and his subsequent invasion and rape of Kuwait in 1990 may, for some, though to be sure, by no means all, exude more than a faint whiff of intellectual dishonesty.

If one wishes, one could of course blame Rumsfeld and the US in general--since they are all-knowing and infallible--for not reading the signals indicating Hussein's megalomania.

And certainly, for those of us in the know, all the CIA really had to do was accurately analyze Saddam's taste in neck ties.

Another huge CIA failure, without doubt.


Wasn't it President Nixon who famously said "Once you have them by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow"?


The Gaddaffi deal was nothing to do with force, though. If Gadaffi was afraid of Western force then he would have persued nuclear weapons as soon as possible. And besides, with the US military stretched in Afghanistan and Iraq, the idea that they can organise a campaign against stronger Libya is laughable. Gaddaffi wanted sanctions against his country lifted and joined the West in persuing Al-Quaida (and handed over the Lockerbie suspects) to obtain this "favoured" status. As the West has stupidly done before (see Iraq), they accepted their pet dictator and ensured that any chance of Libyan liberalism is scuppered for short-term gains. This is not a victory for liberal internationalism, as Iraq and Afghanistan were, this is it defeated by people who are bascially not on our side as much as Oliver would like to claim.

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