Wednesday, May 29, 2002

I don't really believe in the sort of blog vs. blog pissing matches that this sort of thing can provoke (Quasipundit's trials are fresh in my mind), but I'll write a (relatively) short response to Akatsukami, who critiqued my own critique of Josh Marshall.

First, I'm not an isolationist, I'm an internationalist (or multilateralist); as would appear obvious from reading the rest of the post. My concern is that the neo-conservative parts of the United States is willing and ready to become an international pariah (my exact words, even) because of this idea that they absolutely must kill Saddam, and violate international sovereignty and collective security in order to do it. I'm not saying that the United States should become Fortress America, far from it; I'm saying that if the United States "goes it alone" in removing Saddam from power, it has usurped sovereign power from the people of Iraq, the legitimate (if nauseating) government of Iraq, and the international community. It has arbitrarily chosen who will be free and who will not, who can be a leader and who cannot. (And the choice is arbitrary...there are other countries that pose much greater threats).

Second, it's funny that one of the principal examples he uses undermines his own argument:

The outcome of this position was seen in during the Hungarian uprising in 1956; after much brave rhetoric about freedom, Eisenhower and his minions watched, dry-eyed, whilst Russian troops murdered Hungarian freedom fighters. It may be convincingly argued, of course, that we were incapable of intervening in that conflict without unleashing events that would have had far more disastrous consequences.

It may be convincingly argued? It was about as close to God-Given truth as one can get without wandering in the desert, climbing a mountain, and borrowing a few tablets! It's an excellent supporting argument against unilateralism; international support lends legitimacy that is not present when one country is simply invading another, as does the recognition of the concept of national sovereignty. It's also irrelevant to the current situation; Iraq is not currently invading or oppressing any other nation, and doesn't have the capability to do so. Even with WoMD it wouldn't have the capability to do so; it could unleash devestation, but not only would it ensure the fiery end of Saddam himself but it still wouldn't help him take over any other country. That requires modern conventional arms, something Saddam doesn't have.

Thirdly and finally, Saddam is not varelse. He is human, he is understandable, and according to the best examinations of his character he is entirely sane (if megalomaniacal). he may be a brutal dictator, but that does not and never has given license to the United States to remove him, any more than the United States had license to (covertly) remove South American governments it didn't like (or oppositions it didn't like) because they advocated a political system that the United States abhorred. Besides, if one actually reads Ender's Game (and the series in general), one might figure out that the Bugs were not really varelse after all, and in fact never were. Ender's Game is a mockery of such concepts: the "Us vs. the Other" conflict was ultimately won by Ender, who was the "Other" all his life. Heck, Demosthenes and Locke were ultimately "Others" as well; Peter and Valentine chose those anonymous personae because they were children, and therefore "Other" themselves.

Oh, one other thing: in the future, when attempting to discredit or debate my points, I would suggest you read the whole post. The paragraph starting with "see, there's the problem here.." does a good job of explaining the problem of sovereignty, but you only quoted (and apparently read) the earlier section. Now, if you think that the United States shouldn't respect the national sovereignty of other nations, then by all means make that argument: it'd actually be very interesting, and one I'd be happy to engage. Trying to break down a misrepresentation of my own arguments is, frankly, just dull.

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