April 21, 2004

ABC's Big Scoop

The UNISCAM has been in the Wall Street Journal and all over the blogosphere. It's funny to me that ABC News gets a "big scoop" for broadcasting things that everybody who reads Berkeley Square Blog knows already.

I have been beating up (deservedly!) on Andrew Sullivan of late, here's his entire post on it, and why I keep reading him even when he exasperates me:

ABC News gets a big scoop on the U.N. oil-for-food corruption scandal. I wish I could say I'm shocked. In fact, I'm shocked that more hasn't come out yet. Saddam had a lot of people on the take in the West and the U.N. But this story is about more than a simple U.N. scandal. What it shows is what the alternatives to war against Saddam actually were: a slowly disintegrating regime, becoming ever-more Islamist in tone as it tried to cling to power; sanctions that were in effect starving kids, destroying Iraqi civil society and enriching corrupt U.N. officials and Saddam's family; and the potential of those sanctions being lifted at some point, leading to a resurgence of WMD development. We were so right to intervene. The alternatives were far, far worse.


Posted by jk at April 21, 2004 08:59 AM

Commenting on my own post, I am a sad figure.

The other thing to remember is that Senator Kerry considers our coalition partners "fraudulent" because they were not sanctioned by these thugs.

Posted by: jk at April 21, 2004 09:06 AM

Or, as the WSJ Opinion Journal says, "As for the U.N., how in the world can anyone claim with a straight face that this cesspool of corruption, tyranny and anti-Semitism is qualified to convey "legitimacy" to the new Iraqi government or anyone else?"

Posted by: johngalt at April 22, 2004 01:04 AM

Because you are missing the point. It is not the honor and integrity of the UN but the distrust of the US and Britain by the Iraqi people that makes the UN seem more legitimate. Right or wrong, the view by many in the Middle East is that any government that has the direct backing of the US or Great Britian is not legitimately looking out for their best interests. Could it be because we don't have a stellar record along these lines for oh, about the last century?

Posted by: Silence Dogood at April 27, 2004 11:15 AM

I can't let this hogwash go unchallenged. The "Iraqi people" don't want the U.N. policing their nation, they want the U.S. Poll after poll shows that they dislike occupation but they DON'T want us to leave. The U.N. facilitated the documented looting of Iraq's oil wealth by Russia and France and other nations and bureaucrats who, by virtue of their positions, had the power to do so. "Honesty is what you do when no one's looking." These "more legitimate" parties are among the worst kind of scum.

Why, you ask, do "many in the Middle East" distrust the motives of America and Britain? Because second-handers and multilateralists like those in the UN blame every geopolitical economic failure on the "greed of capitalism" and "the immorality of materialism." It's a seductively reasonable charge, especially to the poor and ill-informed, but it is false and its greatest harm is to distract attention from the demonstrable causes of misery in the world, including athoritarianism and collectivism. And your assertion, that for whatever reason the UN is "more trustworthy" than the US or Britain, gives aid to these anti-liberty forces as well as the terrorists we're trying to destroy.

Posted by: johngalt at April 29, 2004 11:04 AM

Wow, I am hitting for the cycle now. Liberal, socialist, communist, and now ... aider of terrorists! Actually I am proudly continuing the long and glorious American tradition of questioning authority. This concept is integral to the power of our country and our way of governance. It is from free and open debate that policies are changed and revised, usually for the better. The question I would pose to the Bush administration is, "Is it more important to be right, or to get Iraq right?" With all the talk about military parallels to Vietnam I have yet to hear the most obvious one I see, the political one. Vietnam's "the best and the brightest" has an interesting parallel to the current administration of folks who just know better than all who have come before and feel justified flying in the face of conventional wisdom and facts on the ground because of this superior knowledge and ability. If you believe that the occupation of Iraq has been the best it can be and that no mistakes were made you have been listening to too many Bush press releases. "We will be greeted as liberators" - wrong. "A rebuilt oil infrastructure and increased oil output will pay for the reconstruction" - wrong. Rumsfeld's new leaner military will be able to handle occupation and security with less than one third the troop and equipment strength recommended by the Pentagon - wrong. De-baathification and training a new Iraqi military and police force to "Iraqify" the security can be accomlished in a few months, not the years quoted by those weasely experts at the UN and the Pentagon - wrong. The CPA and the interim Iraqi council will be able to quickly move toward democracy due to the legitimacy granted by the US military - wrong. Stacking the council with US friendly Iraqi exiles will not hurt the legitimacy of the council with the Iraqi people - wrong. Excluding Islamic clerics from the government rebuilding process will ensure a free, secular society regardless of the fact that said clerics were the only political leaders left in Iraq after Saddam's well known elimination of all opposition - wrong. But no need to continue because Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney, and Rice know better than any thousand "experts" anyone could quote. They will steadfastly work to prove they are right, even if it means getting Iraq wrong.

Speaking of polls, the CPA's own poll listed Chalabi as far and away having the highest negative rating among the Iraqi people, yet he is still the our most financially supported member of the council. So, the Iraqi's don't like or trust him, he has provided tons of wrong or possibly manufactured intelligence, Jordan claims he is guilty of massive bank fraud, and we still give him hundreds of thousands of dollars a month? Even Fox news this morning is starting to ask questions about the legitmacy of this guy.

If you think that distrust of the US and Great Britain in the Middle East is a fabrication of second handers and multilateralists then either your ignorance of history is astounding or your refusal to admit any reality that conflicts with what you want to believe is complete. The rift between Sunni's and Shiite's may date back to less than 100 years after the death of Mohammad, but this century it has been well stoked and used by the Turks, British, and Americans to maintain control and avoid popular uprisings. "Know your enemy" may be a cardinal tenet of warfare, but this administration seems well versed in ignoring this advice. And so I do challenge their tactics, and if you wish to chalk that up as sympathy for terrorists or hatred of my country so be it. Honesty may be what you do when no one is looking, but it doesn't hurt to have some one looking anyway.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at May 3, 2004 09:53 AM

Why do you question the authority of America but not the UN?

Your conclusions to purported "Bush press releases" are quite simplistic and judgemental. How can you ascribe a conclusion of "wrong" to such broad questions about international diplomacy, the acts of armies and the fate of a nation and its 25 million people?

Do you seriously contend that until we concoct a 'miracle cure' to wipe out all terrorism without a single negative consequence we should sit in our homes with nothing but diplomats and airport scanners and national ID cards to protect us?

There is only one reality Silence. In it, people who hate life have declared war on civilization. Everyone is free to believe whatever personal fantasies they prefer, but no one is free to kill because of those delusions. Those who choose that path are free only to be killed.

For more discussion of reality, legitimacy and how philosophy aids terrorist efforts to destroy civilization see my blog above: 'Truth and Legitimacy.'

Posted by: johngalt at May 5, 2004 08:58 AM

I question all authority, the UN's included. I have no illusions about the crippling beauracracy and corruption in the UN, but they do however still have knowledgeable, dedicated, and honorable people who work for them that have directly relevant experiece that we could use. Don't throw out the baby with the bath water.

Simplistic and judgemental? I thought that was how you prefered your arguments. :) I am not declaring broad questions of international dimplomacy wrong, I am declaring specific assertations and policy assumptions have indeed been proven wrong. That is reality.

Do you seriously content that the issue is that black and white, that our only choice in fighting terrorism is to do it the current way or go home and hide under our beds? As long as we cling to the fallicy that global terrorism is primarily state sponsored and continue to look for the next state to attack we are doomed to failure. Secretary Rumsfeld is fond of deriding the Cold War era military thinking yet he has not yet come to grips with the reality that global terror is united by a set of beliefs and not bounded by a set of borders. Even Afghanistan could be more accurately described as global terror supporting a state than the other way around. Fighting the war on terror will in fact be more police or intelligence work than military work. It will take many more man hours to find the terror cells than to take them out. Rolling tanks and troops across a country is not going to find and kill terrorists. That is reality.

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