Point by Point

Eric Olsen applauds Dean for his point-by-point response to my weblog posts, and since my refusing to continue responding to my posts in Eric’s comments is somehow seen as a ‘defeat’ by this crowd, I thought I would respond to every one of this Dean’s responses in this post. And Dean, if you want to respond to this post, then respond in the comments attached to this post. Or start a weblog and respond in it. Eric has bowed out of the debate.

First, though, I want to take a moment to offer a deep and sincere apology to Jonathon Delacour for getting him involved in this whole mess. I was appalled about what I read at Eric’s in regards to the Japanese ‘guilt’ in relation to the atomic bomb, and since it was related to post-war Japan, I went to the expert. What I had forgotten, though, with the warbloggers, is that this group has extremely selective hearing, and a general unwillingness to listen to facts, or to provide verifiable facts for their own viewpoints.

If I choose to dive into the quagmire of ‘debating’ with warbloggers, I should have done it myself and not involved innocent bystanders. I’m sorry Jonathon.

Now, on to Dean’s responses.

Dean wrote:

Most importantly, Saddam Hussein’s previous intransigence regarding inspections has left him in violation of at least some of the UNSC resolutions passed at the time of the Gulf War. Zunes and company would disagree, but DoState and DoD would agree w/ me. So, at some level, there IS an international law-based argument for war.

Hussein is in violation of UN rulings and the UN has existing sanctions against Hussein until he allows arms inspectors back into the country. However, as was specified in the FPIF:

Enforcement is a matter for the UN Security Council as a whole, a normal procedure when governments violate all or part of such resolutions. According to articles 41 and 42 of the United Nations Charter, no member state has the right to enforce any resolution militarily unless the UN Security Council determines that there has been a material breach of its resolution, decides that all nonmilitary means of enforcement have been exhausted, and then specifically authorizes the use of military force.

Dean also goes on to say:

But, one could also argue that international law does not exist, in the manner domestic law does. Law is rooted upon a common polity’s understanding of the rules under which all of its members will live. In that regard, there is no common global polity. There are statements that many claim to live by, but the reality is that those “commonly accepted principles” are far more often observed in the breach. Take, for example, the presumed human right of freedom of speech, properly limited (i.e., no shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theater). Is freedom of speech a universal right? The UN Declaration of Human Rights would make it appear so. Yet, realistically, how many nations abide by this? I’m not even going to claim that we do, necessarily. The point is, if “international law” is to mean anything, it has to have some modicum of universal acceptance.


I would therefore submit that your “no international law basis” is, in fact, insufficient to bar US action, or even inaccurate, insofar as the US actually DOES have a legal basis for its intervention. (Would it change your mind if the UNSC approved a war?)

How can I answer this? According to Dean, there is no real international law, that somehow it’s really an illusion, because *law’s* are not universally enforced. Poetic, I’m sure, but not based in fact.

There is a UN, there are international laws, Iraq is in violation of UN sanctions, the same UN to which the United States is a member state. If we unilaterally invade Iraq without UN sanctions, we do so in violation of international law. You may not agree with this, Dean, but this is a verifiable fact.

Still, another point Dean makes is:

Or the UN Charter. But, as I noted, there is a legal basis for arguing that, by violating UNSCRs, Iraq is ALREADY subject to international punishment. You may disagree w/ that, but it is hardly as cut-and-dried as you portray it. (And don’t be so sure that the US can’t browbeat out a UNSC resolution supporting war.)

Dean, I don’t know your background — are you an international lawyer? Are you a legal expert? Do you know international law? You’re putting yourself into the mix as a legal expert, enough of one to debate the UN’s own understanding of international law. Your saying your opinion does not make it fact — back your ‘opinions’ with facts, and tell us your background so we can judge the accuracy of your assessment of these same facts.

I provided links and reference to facts on this issue; time for you to do the same for your own arguments. You mention DefenseLink to support your opinions, but you didn’t provide specific references to information about how the DoD believes that they are not in violation of international law with an invasion of Iraq.

Now on to other points about ally support. Dean wrote:

It is hardly clear we’d be doing so w/o allies. Looking at a map of the region, one can conclude that Bahrain and Turkey are almost certainly on-board. Based on public reports, Qatar is on-board. Kuwait is likely on-board. Jordan may well be on-board. Even Syria may well be on-board. Access to just SOME of these states would provide us w/ significant infrastructure. Think about Kurdish territories, about US facilities in Central Asia, and the possibilities become even more numerous.

The only countries that have come out with support for a US invasion of Iraq are Israel and Britain. No other country has promised support. However, several countries have come out in protest and/or refused support for an invasion including Saudi ArabiaTurkeyRussia, Germany, JordanIran, and Syria. As for Kuwait’s support, it tends to follow Saudi Arabia’s lead. In addition, Kuwait has been having some difficult times recently with fundamentalists. If they don’t like Hussein, they’ll most likely dislike an invasion of any Arab country by the US more. Don’t assume Kuwait still looks on the US in gratitude–it’s been a long ten years since we were in the neighborhood.

Supposedly we are building a base in Qatar for a station for invasion. With this we could fly over the Persian Gulf to avoid violating other country’s airspace. However, this severely limits the US use of ground troops as transport of the same will be extremely limited. If Turkey doesn’t open it’s borders, a ground attack would most likely be impossible. However, this latter is an opinion.

Speaking of opinions, as for people’s opinions that the US can ‘bully’ any of these countries into siding with it, I find this unlikely. However, Dean, if you have information otherwise, please provide specifics, and links to secondary information that supports your specifics.

As for my contention that we cannot win a war in Iraq, this is based on the the fact that we enter Iraq without the support of most of the Middle Eastern countries (as per above), the fact that if there are bio or chemical weapons, Hussein will use same in the war, and this will have extremely adverse effects on the invading soldiers, and most likely surrounding countries. And there is also the concern that Israel will be dragged into this, in such a way that the country may use nuclear weapons. This is based on opinion, but even the possibility of same should be enough to at least make people pause in their rather enthusiastic support of an invasion of Iraq.

press release issued by the Libertarian Party sums much this up for me:

The bottom line is that Bush’s wide-ranging indictment against Saddam Hussein is missing one key element: proof that Iraq poses a direct threat to the United States, Dasbach said.


“Instead of struggling to find a justification for war, Mr. Bush should be looking for a way to avoid war – and avoid the needless loss of American lives that could result.”

Maybe it’s time I started voting Libertarian.

Dean, I believe I hit most of your points. If not, please feel free to continue the debate in my comments. You are most welcome here.

Finally, a note. I said that Glenn Reynolds controls the flow of discourse. He demonstrated this yesterday by linking to Eric (favorable warblogger site), but not mine, Jonathon’s, and Alan’s. If the warbloggers want to be taken seriously, then they may want to consider moving out of the sphere they control. Reynolds is free to link to whomever he wants, but I’m finding a real tendency in the warblogs to link only within ‘the clan’. and comment within the clan. And pat each other on the back for having routed another invader, having first determined that they are the victors, by their own rules.

Professor Reynolds, or any of the other pro-war crowd, if you want a debate, I’ll give you a run for your money. However, on neutral terroritory, with moderators, and with the rules of debate adhered to. This ‘debate’ with Eric was a disaster.

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