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Scratch one rule of law

Says Mr. Reynolds: “This is also why I prefer a Mussolini-style ending in which Saddam is lynched by his own people to exile, or even a trial. I think that would provide a valuable lesson.”

Yes, that’s what I always think about lynchings. They’ll provide a valuable lesson. Precisely. People get uppity, you know?

But you know, I think Den Beste is right when he says the world political order is about to change. He’s wrong about a bunch of other things; he clearly doesn’t understand the concept that international legitimacy may be important for any other reason than the immediately practical. I’ve written before about the sheer folly of assuming that the United States will always be in the privileged power position we currently enjoy, and I’ve discussed why enlightened self-interest leads us to the conclusion that we must not encourage a world in preemptively securing one’s own position by invading other countries is wise. Ah well.

He’s still right. Germany’s a bigger US trade partner than England. Germany and France together are a bigger trade partner than China. To say, as Den Beste does, that the US needs nobody by its side other than the UK and Australia (poor Canadians; they’ve been altogether left out) is blind arrogance.

It saddens me that so many have lost track of the meaning of the word “ally.” On a mailing list I’m on, someone recently said “why are they allies if they aren’t supporting us?” Apparently he confused the word “ally” with the word “subordinate.” It’s easier to assume that Europe has gone mad than it is to consider why they’re objecting. And you know, thinking about why they’re objecting doesn’t even mean you have to agree with them. It just means it might be useful to think about it, in case there’s something you can do about it. But no; easier to write them off as insane.

It’s not the defeat of Saddam that bugs people. It’s the US occupation of Iraq, and the use of Iraq as a base to force regime change throughout the region.

Anyway. Yes, the world is going to change, and here’s one important way it’s changing:

For the first time, the United States will invade another country not because that country attacked it, or because it attacked one of our allies, but because we think it might pose a threat in the future.

If you don’t think that’s a big deal, even if you think the attack is a good idea, you’re nuts. And your children will have no right to complain if, in a hundred years, Brazil invades the United States “because we just don’t know what they might do with those old nukes.” That’s the precedent we’re about to set.


  1. set set

    You’re a fool, if you think anything we do will change what other countries do. They’ll attack us regardless of whether or not we set the precedent. The difference, they have a little less flack from their constituents. Also, you should read up on history, since pre-emptive attacks are nothing new under the sun.

  2. Ah, for the days when Americans believed that we ought to set a good example for the rest of the world. These days? “Screw it, there’s no hope anyhow.”

  3. Adam Adam

    So then how would you justify US involvement in Europe in World War II? The US was attacked by Japan, not Germany. No doubt Germany would have posed a threat eventually, but it didn’t in 1941.

  4. Geeze, I’d probably point out that Japan was allied with Germany. In fact, I think the phrase “Axis of Evil” has some sort of historical connotation involving that alliance. Further, you might want to look up the Greer incident of September 1941, which was really the start of the active war between the US and Germany.

    The reluctance of the American people to go to war in the early stages of WW II is, actually, an interesting demonstration of how much our policies have changed between now and then. It took a /lot/ for American to decide it was time to go to war.

    You might also be interested in FDR’s Navy Day speech of 1941, in which he claims that Germany was planning to divide up South America — a violation of the Monroe Doctrine. (Which I omitted as a causus belli in my post, and I shouldn’t have.)

    Finally, and most important, I think you’re a bit confused about the order of events. Pearl Harbor was 12/7. The US and Britain declared war on Japan on 12/8. Germany and Italy declared war on the US on 12/11.

    So, uh, I guess the short answer to your question would be “Germany declared war on us.”

  5. I thought the short answer would have been “or because it attacked one of our allies.” I guess you could question just how allied the United States was with the nations in question before Germany started attacking them.

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