Jeff, Elias, Please Clarify (was Re: [SPORK] Something I REALLY want John Hall to Try To Understand)

Jeff Bone
Wed, 26 Mar 2003 21:02:47 -0600

A couple of other points...

On Wednesday, Mar 26, 2003, at 17:33 US/Central, S. Alexander Jacobson 

1-3 all seem so nonsensical to me that I hope they're only strawmen.

> 4. US Control of Iraq makes the US weaker
> You are simply making the argument that US
> national self-interest is not served by this
> action.  If you make this argument, you would have
> to swear-off complaints that e.g. this is all
> about oil because obviously it is in the US
> national self-interest to control oil.

While I do believe that US control of Iraq makes the US, in net, weaker 
--- I must point out that it's not necessarily the case that "in the US 
national self-interest to control oil" is only true if the benefits of 
such control outweigh the costs of gaining such control.

> 5. Inviting terrorism
> You believe that the this action increases
> the risk of terrorism more than it benefits the US
> to be rid of this particular enemy and be in
> control of Iraq's oil, to have troops on the
> borders of Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Iran, and to
> set a precedent that the US can and will terminate
> states that support terrorism.

Since terrorism, by definition, does not *stem* from state action but 
at best can only be *supported* by it, I'm not sure that terminating 
states that (dubiously, inconsistently, etc.) "support" terrorism is an 
effective deterrent against terrorism.  At best it eliminates some 
kinds of support, but most support for terrorism doesn't seem to come 
from states.  Increasing authority almost always causes 
anti-authoritarian actions to become more extreme, more violent, and 
more damaging.  It's a really dangerous kind of forced selection 

> 6. Breakdown of "international law"
> You believe that someone is going to invade
> someone else somewhere and justify it on the same
> principle that the US used to eliminate Saddam,
> that they would not have invaded otherwise, and
> that such action will hurt the US more than
> control of Iraq helps it.

Basically, yes.  I think there are many negative consequences of 6, and 
all of those add up to "more cost than benefit."

> * I am ignoring the question of what
> "international community" means and whether e.g.
> all of Europe except 4 countries and, I think, the
> majority of its populations, GNP, and military
> force, counts as e.g the "support of Europe".

Point of clarification:  I'm actually more concerned with the general 
global public reaction than the particular reaction in the UN, etc.  
The main problem with the diplomatic disaster in the UN is that, like 
America, most people are unduly influenced (in some direction or other) 
in their opinions by the official "position" of their country on any 
given issue.  Hence the failure of diplomacy feeds and is magnified by 
the positions adopted by their country.  That in turn reinforces the 
national position --- etc. etc.  Virtuous or vicious cycle.