A Confession

OK, it's time to come clean. I forged the documents claiming that Iraq was attempting to buy uranium from Niger. What can I say? It seemed like a good idea at the time. Back in 2002, two things about the Bush administration's planned invasion of Iraq were becoming clear: 1) they were determined to do this regardless of whether they had a plausible cassus belli; and 2) they didn't have a plausible cassus belli. Here's where my thinking perhaps led me astray. I figured in the … [Read more...]

Denial is a happy place

From a report on President Bush's visit to Lancaster County, Pa., in Lancaster New Era: Veteran Jake Caldwell, 42, of Lancaster, held up a sign that stated "Stop the war" as he loudly questioned the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. "I feel the American public’s been duped," Caldwell said. "I think it's pretty obvious. If you don’t see that, I think you're in denial." Caldwell's three points are all exactly right: 1) the … [Read more...]

Spy Games

Via Cursor I read this very interesting piece by The Guardian's Julian Borger on the growing suspicion that Ahmad Chalabi's INC -- and therefore the United States -- was doing the bidding of the Iranian government by invading Iraq and toppling Saddam Hussein. (Cursor notes that this follows up on pieces in Time and Newsweek, if you prefer your news from domesticated domestic sources.) Here's the beginning of Borger's piece: An urgent investigation has been launched in … [Read more...]

Actionable Items

President Bush yesterday traveled to the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pa. The War College brings together some of America's best military minds to, in the word's of its founder, Elihu Root, "study and confer on the great problems of national defense, of military science and of responsible command." Faced with a perceived absence of any coherent plan for the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq, the president yesterday set out to correct this problem -- not by creating a plan, … [Read more...]

Stop promoting democracy

Promoting democracy abroad has become a cornerstone of American foreign policy -- or at least of American foreign policy rhetoric. This is a mistake. Democracy is, of course, a Good Thing. I am eager to see it spread to the billions of people around the world who do not enjoy it today. But democracy is not of primary importance -- it does not come first. It is secondary -- both in importance and chronologically -- to the establishment of basic human rights. Which rights? The first ten amendments … [Read more...]

Falling Down

The 1993 movie Falling Down doesn't quite add up. Ebbe Roe Smith's screenplay wants to explore some interesting ideas about the relationship between violence and impotence, but director Joel Schumacher -- the hack who made Batman and Robin -- is much more interested in revelling in that violence than in understanding it. Still, no movie with Robert Duvall can be all bad -- and Michael Douglas again shows how good he can be when he's playing a jerk. Falling Down does manage to get … [Read more...]

Faith and works

Sen. John McCain said several things last night on CNN's Larry King Live that bear repeating: ... if we, somehow, excuse this behavior on the grounds that they were bad people, they killed Americans, all that kind of stuff, then we put ourselves on the same moral ... plane that they are. We cannot do that. The reason why we are there is to give them a different life from the kind of treatment that they got from Saddam Hussein. That's another argument, by the way, for taking down the … [Read more...]

No planning = unjust war

Like the pope, I opposed the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq because, among other reasons, I found it impossible to defend according to the jus ad bellum criteria of the just war tradition. Specifically, I was far from convinced that we had reached the necessity of last resort; I believe that "preventive" or "pre-emptive" wars require a far greater burden of proof than the advocates of this war were willing to meet; I was troubled by the Bush administration's sneering disregard for the criterion of … [Read more...]