'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Monday, October 11, 2004

Back From Oblivion 

The Duelfer report was Scott Ritter's ticket back from political exile. Last week he showed up on Anderson Coopers' usually inane show where he said things like

I absolutely agree that the facts can only lead you in one direction, that Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction capability, that the United Nations had, indeed, succeeded in disarming Iraq in 1991. The programs were dismantled by 1995. And Charles Duelfer's report clearly underscores this.

Where I disagree is the notion of intent. I don't think we can afford to take at face value anything the Bush administration or Bush administration appointees say regarding weapons of mass destruction that paint the Bush administration's decision to go to war in a favorable light. There is no substantive factually based data that sustains the notion of intent. We have Charles Duelfer providing speculation, innuendo, hearsay and rumor. But we don't have a confession from Saddam Hussein or his senior leadership. And void of that, I think, we need to question this assertion.

and The Independent recently featured this really well-written and thought-provoking Ritter piece. Instead of focusing on the intent issue that he discussed on the Cooper show, Ritter sketches out the argument that the weapons inspections had been purposely gamed in such a way as to render them incapable of concluding in a decisive manner, and thus facillitated the rush to war. He goes on to discuss the implications of this gaming on international law:

This blatant disregard for international law on the part of the world's two greatest democracies serves as the foundation of any analysis of the question: would the world be better off with or without Saddam in power? To buy into the notion that the world is better off without Saddam, one would have to conclude that the framework of international law that held the world together since the end of the Second World War - the UN Charter - is antiquated and no longer viable in a post-9/11 world. Tragically, we can see the fallacy of that argument unfold on a daily basis, as the horrific ramifications of American and British unilateralism unfold across the globe. If there ever was a case to be made for a unified standard of law governing the interaction of nations, it is in how we as a global community prosecute the war on terror. Those who embrace unilateral pre-emptive strikes in the name of democracy and freedom have produced results that pervert the concept of democracy while bringing about the horrific tyranny of fear and oppression at the hands of those who posture as liberators.

If Saddam were in power today, it would only have been because the US and Britain had altered course and joined the global community in recognising the pre-eminence of international law, and the necessity of all nations to operate in accordance with that law. The irony is that had the US and Britain taken this path, and an unrepentant Saddam chosen to defy the international community by acting on the intent he is alleged to have harboured, then he would have been removed from power by a true international coalition united in its legitimate defence of international law. But this is not the case. Saddam is gone, and the world is far worse for it - not because his regime posed no threat, perceived or otherwise, but because the threat to international peace and security resulting from the decisions made by Bush and Blair to invade Iraq in violation of international law make any threat emanating from an Iraq ruled by Saddam pale in comparison.

Also in other back-from-oblivion news, someone apparently accidently knocked over whatever rock Richard Perle was living under because he just showed up on Charlie Rose, but, alas, there is no online transcript.

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