A lot of neocons out there
170,000,000 neocon lackeys?
According to the Pew Research Center, 85 percent of Americans believe Saddam Hussein must be ousted, not just disarmed. Furthermore, mirroring other surveys, the poll found that 62 percent of Americans favor military action against Iraq
. It seems probable that most of the 23 percent who say, somewhat contradictorily, that they desire Hussein’s ouster but not the use of American force to accomplish it would end up endorsing the use of force if and when it occurred.
In any case, the 62 percent who approve a war against Iraq are not doing so because they arrogantly want to spread American-style democracy around the world. They are doing so because they are unwilling to live in a world in which Saddam Hussein has nuclear weapons. Therefore, if those who oppose the war want to have any chance of converting the majority of people who currently support it, they’re going to have to address the actual reasons why those people support it. Denouncing the neoconservatives’ globalist agenda is not going to persuade anyone whose primary worry is an A-bomb going off in Washington D.C.
Yet, it goes without saying, some of the most outspoken war critics still seem unwilling or unable to address those real concerns.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at October 11, 2002 01:30 AM | Send
“They are unwilling to live in a world in which Saddam Hussein has nuclear weapons.”
I am even LESS willing to live in a world where Saddam’s nukes are “loose balls” after his regime dies. Critics are right that we cannot be sure what form Iraq’s next state will take after we invade. But they don’t also say that what will happen after Saddam if are troops are NOT in the country is even less certain. The Baathists will not be followed by Social Democrats, at least not immediately.
One nuke in the hands of Al Qaeda, Hamas, etc. would ruin the West’s whole day. Especially if we did not even know there was an unaccounted-for nuke until it was detonated (because then we would also not know how many others they had, for just one thing).
I hope we find a half-finished atomic bomb in Saddam’s basement so just so the Democrats who voted “no” can be asked to explain their stands to their constituents.
This is a crucial point I hadn’t heard before. OF COURSE it must be WE who topple Hussein, since if he’s toppled by some coup, and the country then descends perhaps into chaos, his weapons could end up going anywhere. Thanks for pointing this out.
_Argumentum ad populum_. Call me a cynic but in 1998, the same percentage of Americans thought that Clinton was doing a smashing job as president. Let’s face it, the average American cannot grasp a thought that takes more than 15 seconds to articulate.
That’s too bad, because it will be their sons and daughters sacrificed at the altar of blood lust for a neo-trotskyite fantasy. They will also be the one’s that have to pay the piper for the tune that neocons so desperately want to hear.
“I hope we find a half-finished atomic bomb in Saddam’s basement so just so the Democrats who voted “no” can be asked to explain their stands to their constituents. “
Already have that base covered. I’m going to make the claim that US aggression forced Saddam to build nukes in the hopes of pursuing a policy of Mutually Assured Destruction.
The real question is: What are you boys going to say to parents when their sons are sent home in body bags by the thousands?
I’m confident that a half built nuke will be discovered whether Saddam built it or not. There is no way the government can oust Saddam and take the chance that there was never really anything to find.
Too bad Mr. Eubanks’s ready use of a Latin phrase is not matched by his level of reading comprehension. I was not saying that a war on Iraq is the correct course because a majority of the people support it. I was pointing out that a majority of the people do, in fact, support it. This fact undercuts the continuing insinuations of the antiwar right that support for a war is just coming from a small band of neocons. Secondly, I was saying that the reason the majority of the people support a war has been largely ignored by the antiwar right. The antiwar right keeps acting as though people support a war because they believe in the global spread of democracy, whereas the truth is that people support a war because they feel that the possession of WMDs by Hussein represents an unacceptable threat.
The result is an absence of real debate about the war. In one, rather small, room, you have the antiwar right, fulminating about the neoconservatives and their globalist democratist agenda. In another, much larger, room, you have the majority of the American people, who are concerned about the possibility of a nuclear weapon being used against America. The people in the small room keep ignoring both the existence of the larger room and what the people in that room are saying. This seems a very odd approach for a group that is troubled by its marginal position in American public life.
Rick DeMent wrote:
“I’m confident that a half built nuke will be discovered whether Saddam built it or not. There is no way the government can oust Saddam and take the chance that there was never really anything to find.”
One of the interesting characteristics of this antiwar right mindset we have on our dissection table here on VFR (there may of course be other mindsets in other little rooms elsewhere) is that it is, using the terms of the philosophy of science, unfalsifiable. That is, no actual facts discovered in the actual world can affect it in any way. Any actual facts uncovered that might challenge this antiwar right view are accounted for by a conspiracy of the evi intentions of the oppressor-tyrants or untermenschen, in this case the boogyman neocons.
Of course saying “either X exists, or X does not exist” isn’t terribly edifying. Nor does it risk anything. But perhaps the vocabulary word “tautology” is something our antiwar-right friends can understand. If the important thing is thinking of ourselves as being absolutely right and the other side as being absolutely wrong, then tautology is a great tool to bring that about. Sorry it isn’t Latin.
Mr. Woodhill’s comment is insightful. Toppling Saddam is not a singular goal: the comprehensive destruction of his WMD infrastructure has to be a part of it, if WMD’s are the reason for invasion. I see no obvious reason why we have to police the place after that comprehensive destruction, though.
It may be worth mentioning the striking similarity between the tautological antiwar mindset and other mindsets that paleos presumably find horrifying. For example, the (pre-911) hollywood movie _The Long Kiss Goodnight_ is about some U.S. intelligence operatives who attempt to set up a 9-11 level terrorist act (thousands dead) and blame it on Islamic extremists. Their reason for doing so? To justify a big budget increase.
On this Hollywood view the very sort of act that the CIA exists to prevent is perpetrated by the CIA to justify its existence. I was struck by the stark similarity between that Hollywood mindest and Mr. DeMent’s conspiracy boogyman.
I suppose that just because you are paranoid it doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you.
I think the big reason the war gets what support it gets (which tends to waver wildly from poll to poll) is that Saddam is believed to be linked to 9/11. Plus the copntant fear that he wants to nuke Middle America, which he couldn’t do in a million years.
Face it, getting Saddam just isn’t in our natural interest. You can should “WMD” until the cows come home. but he has no ability to attack the US.
What would Mr. Sleighback’s position be if there were reasonable evidence that Hussein had 1) some actual nuclear weapons; 2) a long-range delivery vehicle (e.g. a group of terrorists); and 3) had convinced himself (whether or not it were true) that he had plausible deniability so that massive retaliation was very unlikely?
Here’s an interesting article that appeared today at lewrockwell.com, regarding the alleged threat Saddam poses.
For some forty years, the United States lived under constant threat of nuclear attack by the Soviet Union. For those who have forgotten, the Soviet regime was not composed of poets and flower peddlers. If Saddam Hussein is, as the president insists, “a ruthless and aggressive dictator,” what was Joseph Stalin? What was Leonid Brezhnev?
Nor did the rulers of the USSR play single-softball with respect to nuclear warheads. By the mid-1980s, the Soviet arsenal contained more than 10,000 strategic nuclear warheads and some 30,000 nonstrategic nuclear warheads. Unlike Iraq, which has no capability to deliver a nuclear weapon at long range, the USSR had more than 6,000 nuclear warheads mounted on more than a thousand intercontinental ballistic missiles, most of them programmed to strike targets in the United States within half an hour of launch. In addition, thousands of submarine-launched nuclear weapons and more than a thousand nuclear bombs carried by long-range jet aircraft augmented the Soviet threat.
Yet, notwithstanding the tens of thousands of Soviet nuclear warheads and their sophisticated delivery vehicles kept in constant readiness, the United States was not “blackmailed” by the USSR. Odd that now the United States should quake at the prospect of a single Iraqi softball of fissionable material.
“One of the interesting characteristics of this antiwar right mindset we have on our dissection table here on VFR (there may of course be other mindsets in other little rooms elsewhere) is that it is, using the terms of the philosophy of science, unfalsifiable. That is, no actual facts discovered in the actual world can affect it in any way. Any actual facts uncovered that might challenge this antiwar right view are accounted for by a conspiracy of the evi intentions of the oppressor-tyrants or untermenschen, in this case the boogyman neocons.”
In a just world, it’d be a felony for anyone under eighty to compose sentences like Matt’s.
The suggestion that the administration might be wrong or substantially overstating the threat that Iraq poses the US is hardly what I would refer to as conspiracy. And the idea that the administration would be disinclined to admit to a monumental error in intelligence is hardly tautological. There are many reasons why error or the overstatement of the threat might surface with regard to Iraq’s current capability that cover the spectrum from incompetence to the conspiratorial. Mr. Woodhill seemed concerned that there might not be a “Smoking Nuke” to hold over the head of Democrats who voted no on the war resolution. I merely offered a speculation that could hardly even be considered cynical given what is at stake.
I don’t recall telling anyone that they are necessarily wrong regarding the threat that Saddam Hussein poses, but now that I have been consigned to the “little room” where the people who wear tin foil hats congregate, it doesn’t matter one way or the other. If one wanted the perfect epistemic expression of tautology you only need listen to the administrations case for the removal of this really, really, really evil, very evil, way evil, evil man.
Given the fact that there are more then a few in the military and intelligence community who might agree that Hussein is a threat, but are not inclined to agree with the conclusion of the president regarding the need for war, it seems that looking at ancillary motivations is hardly subversive. There also seems to be a strange inconsistency in a man who declined to use Weapons of Mass Destruction on American troops in the gulf war but who now, we are told, is feverishly working round the clock to develop a nuclear device in order to hold us hostage. I would think that if he had any suicidal tendencies, he would have gassed American troops before beating a retreat out of Kuwait. But that fact that he will gas unarmed civilians, but has no stomach to gas a military only too anxious to have an excuse to march on Baghdad should give us insight into his character, or lack thereof.
How might anyone address the concerns of those who have been convinced that a nuclear attack courtesy of Saddam Hussein is fata compli when the attempt to offer other possibilities earns one the label of unpatriotic, irrational or simply gets one sent to the tin foil hat room to hob knob with the likes of those who believe that moon landing was faked. If any suggestion that preventing a nuclear attack or furthering the war on terror are side show issues compared to the strategic and economic jackpot of installing a pro western dictatorship in Iraq consigns one to the tin foil hat room then it’s best to end the discussion and let the hawks take wing. The rest of us will just have to hope their right.
Thanks to Mr. Auster for teaching it is essential that anti-war arguments address pro-war arguments. So here are some ideas.
It is immoral for the Many safe and secure citizens to order the Few to die for the Many. The traditional practice of ordering the Few to die encourages hastily entered wars such as the Korean and Vietnam Wars. Universal and compulsory military or militia training is essential for such a principled government. No deferments; we all draw lots. A simple majority, at least, of the chosen Few must give their consent throughout the war. The Many’s mistakes got us to where we are. The Many allowed small governments to build openly an anti-American hatred and a terrorist network. It is therefore moral to require the Many to bear the price of their mistakes.
Preaching moral principles is the less difficult task. Living by the principles requires the next step: the complex and hard task of building an effective, moral defense at this late stage.
Plan A is pressuring other countries for intelligence on Saddam’s whereabouts and using mercenaries and using American-manned standoff weapons to assassinate Saddam.
Plan Z. First, evacuate our cities. Electronic communication and modern transportation can sustain a dispersed, powerful nation. Second, warn our hate-filled opponents and fair-weather friends we will retaliate against them with nuclear weapons if a nuclear attack on America occurs. The retaliation should be massive for our hate-filled opponents and proportional for our fair-weather, uncooperative friends who hide under our nuclear and conventional weapons umbrella. Recall it was President Bush who said, “You are either with us or against us.”
Third, give the haters and fair-weather friends an alternative. I perceive a high probability that the anti-American Islamic countries bordering Iraq and our fair-weather friends would, given sufficient incentive, use their contacts in Iraq to locate and assassinate Saddam Hussein or narrow his location so that we could assassinate him with whatever is necessary. Necessary might be a surgical conventional air attack, a massive conventional air attack, or a small tactical nuclear strike. (Only the President has any idea how quickly either plan must be carried out.)
I am eager to hear the faults in my arguments and thankful for the invitation.
Matt: Response would rely on the severity of the threat. The first call would be a policy of containment, along with all the usual mix of snnoping, spying and looking the other way if the Isrealis make another military strike.
I don’t think that the idea of a Saddam first strike is likely. (And many neocons would agree with me, BTW.) If he gets The Bomb, he would screw up the balance of power in the Middle East, which only tangentally affects American national interest.
As it stands, it’s beyond reasonable doubt that Saddam 1.) has no nukes, 2.) has no delivery system that threatens us and 3.) has no plans to use either.
Mr. De Ment writes:
“The suggestion that the administration might be wrong or substantially overstating the threat that Iraq poses the US is hardly what I would refer to as conspiracy.”
I was referring specifically to Mr. De Ment’s explicit contention that a conspiracy exists that will plant a (partial) nuclear bomb on Saddam’s dead corpse if it turns out he doesn’t already have one. That is hardly identical to a “suggestion that the administration might be wrong.” Even if one believed the conspiracy theory to be true one could hardly object to the fact that it is, in fact, a conspiracy theory.
Mr De Ment also asks:
“How might anyone address the concerns of those who have been convinced that a nuclear attack courtesy of Saddam Hussein is fata compli when the attempt to offer other possibilities earns one the label of unpatriotic, irrational or simply gets one sent to the tin foil hat room to hob knob with the likes of those who believe that moon landing was faked.”
I don’t know anyone at all anywhere who has been convinced that a nuclear attack by Saddam is a 100% done deal, so it is hard to answer the question. I also don’t know of any instance of anyone who has simply postulated the possibility that a nuclear attack might not occur being labeled unpatriotic for making such a postulation. I suppose it is possible that such a person exists somewhere, but if so I don’t intend to speak for him. But since the antiwar right doesn’t do the straw man thing I am sure this phantom must exist somewhere. That leaves the question open as to whom exactly Mr. De Ment is speaking, though.
Look at the poll thread to see why it is bad form to characterize predictions based on past behavior as simple conspiracy theories.
Mr. Sleighback writes:
“Matt: Response would rely on the severity of the threat.”
Excellent. So we’ve reached agreement then, at least between Mr. Sleighback and myself, that the entire issue of whether or not to invade Iraq is a prudential one based on our assessment of the facts. That assessment may differ of course, but the key question is not one of who is fundamentally right or wrong in an ideological sense.
Mr. Eubanks has a precedent in which the Bush administration has planted an atomic bomb on an assasinated dictator in order to justify the assasination? Does he also have new photographs of the grassy knoll? I can’t wait to see them!
Of course a conspiracy theory is still a conspiracy theory whether or not one thinks it plausible, so I don’t know why my AWR friends seem to find my use of the term so objectionable.
No, no, no. Where did we go from A-bomb materials (half bomb) to full A-bomb and will do to has already done?
What Mr. DeMent and I speculate is that the administration will simply declare they have found nuclear materials regardless of truth.
The advocates of the Kosovo war didn’t need to plant mass-graves in Kosovo, they only needed to disinform the public. Just because the prediction is cynical doesn’t make it a conspiracy theory.
The moral issues in the beginning of your thoughtful post are interesting but would require a great deal of foundation-building in order to discuss coherently. I can sketch where my own personal reactions would start, though. I think it is wrong to attempt to pin responsibility on some transcendent Many. Liberalism at a fundamental level attempts to deny that nations are ruled by elites even though all nations ever (including ours in all of its various stages) were/are ruled by elites. Liberalism gets broad-based support for this cognitively-dissonant denial through a ritual called “voting”. The function of voting is to get as many people as possible to sign on to the illusion in as concrete a way as possible, and the resultant system is called “consent of the governed” not because any of us have any actual substantive choice in the matter but because liberalism depends on the denial of its own elitism for legitimacy. So anyway in order to have the moral discussion you would like to have we would have to establish a background understanding of soveriegn power and responsibility and it is not clear that we can do so in a few words.
On the more practical issues: Assuming that we’ve decided the risk from Hussein is high enough to warrant assasination, I think it also becomes necessary pr at least compelling as a practical matter to destroy his WMD infrastructure. But on balance I think Plan A is something Clinton should have done as soon as the cease-fire terms from the Gulf War were violated.
Plan Z is I think far more impractical. I suppose if America had a king he could ask the people to abandon the cities, but that sort of thing runs far enough afield that it makes for interesting musings about imaginary Americas but doesn’t really help us with our actual one.
Not a comprehensive reply to your post I know, but those are some of my more immediate thoughts upon reading it.
I would like to hear more about why it is immoral to require the Many (a majority or maybe almost everyone) in a democracy to bear the risk of neglecting national defense. It seems like it would help us to keep our priorities straight. Perhaps my puzzlement stems from not knowing the meaning of Matt’s “sovereign power and responsibility.”
I was unaware of the ideas that democracies are ruled by elites and liberals deny the situation. Good Lord, except for a friend’s oral comment the other day and now Matt’s observations about democracies, elites, and liberals, I had no idea I might be a liberal. I though I was a traditional conservative, a phrase I learned recently from this Website. I need to have my brain washed. (I am not being sarcastic.) I hope to keep the ideas in mind.
Thanks to Matt for taking time to address my arguments and in a way that could serve as a model for others and me. Matt was direct and polite.
Happy Columbus Day everyone!
Well, I first encountered Mr. Kalb’s writing on the Net about a decade ago and I am still scrubbing my cranial interior. The required background reading includes all of the stuff on or linked by counterrevolution.net and Lord only knows what else. I haven’t managed to put together a canon on how to think like Matt, mostly because I would almost certainly be the only person interested in that sort of self-involved project.
The basic question of how to not be a liberal was addressed recently on VFR:
But of course there are many ways to discuss it. Another approach is to ask what liberalism is. I have a synthesis that I have posted on VFR before, but because it fits and therefore includes (for example) Nazis and Communists in the same category as modern liberals most people think I am a bit of a kook in believing that it represents underlying truth accurately. I really do think that though.
The key general point about ruling elites in the above comment is just that every nation including all democracies ever are governed by relatively small groups of ruling elites. For a liberal that is an outrage, and the oppressors must be put down so that freedom and equal rights may reign in the world of the new man, freed from the oppressors. Democracy is the formal expression of that principle and as such is sacred to liberals, although when sufficiently stressed liberalism will abandon it (as in Nazi Germany) or practice it in a form where there is not even a pretense left of multiple-choice (as in Communist Russia). The silencing of the oppressor class through political correctness is treated as a new phenomenon by most conservatives, but it has also been around a long time in other forms. For example we’ve demonstrated conclusively in discussions on VFR that paleo-conservative southern partisans (sometimes called neo-confederates) practice their own forms of political correctness. The attitude by the antiwar right that anyone who thinks there may be some merit to eliminating Saddam Hussein can only think so out of ignorance or bad faith is yet another form of political correctness. Thomas Jefferson thought that any loyalist was beneath the contempt of the free and equal new man, and so (a loyalist) had nothing valid to say. Alexander Hamilton’s _Report on Manufactures_, with its plenary power for the feds to tax and spend on whatever they thought was for the general welfare, could have been a manifesto for the New Deal.
So our situation is one in which explicit liberalism is so pervasive as our secular religion, and has been such a part of us for so long, that I for example have to be quite vigilant with myself to avoid it. As Jim Kalb sagely observes everything can’t all be bad because as a parasite liberalism would self-destruct immediately if it didn’t have the mostly implicit good to hang onto. Larry Auster recently identified the most explicit part of this as “common sense”:
So there is certainly an America worth saving, but she is in dire need of repentence from her explicitly liberal orthodoxy; an orthodoxy that has been with her since inception.
The more narrow point about elites is that every country is and always has been governed by an actual elite. So that elite is responsible for what happens under its rule. Attempting to pin responsibility on some transcendent Many just gives the actual elite another way to rule while dodging responsibility.
That’s a bit of a ramble, for which I apologize, but a legitimate attempt to point toward answers to the most important questions Mr. Murgos raised, as always representing only what I happen to actually think myself.
Regarding Matt’s point that political correctness has been around a long time in other forms. Here is an example from England, 1830.
An economist called David Robinson wanted to challenge the classical liberal free trade orthodoxy of the time. His first complaint was against those who might be called “mainstream conservatives” on VFR. He wrote that “the fallen, degraded liberal Tory must servilely echo all the Whig advances, though public ruin be the consequence.”
He then described the fate of those who challenged the liberal consensus: “You are treated as unworthy of argument, and are silenced by derision. Discussion and information are thus excluded from Parliament. The Holy Whig and Tory Fathers must preserve their political faith from the heresy of truth … The press naturally follows its parties … and covers every point which they are incapable of defending.”
He concluded by asking “Am I to applaud that which has sacrificed the foreign interests of my country and destroyed her influence amidst other nations merely because it is called liberal and enlightened policy?”