Monday, March 10
Saying No to War
Editorial, New York Times, Sunday March 9, 2003

Within days, barring a diplomatic breakthrough, President Bush will decide whether to send American troops into Iraq in the face of United Nations opposition. We believe there is a better option involving long-running, stepped-up weapons inspections. But like everyone else in America, we feel the window closing. If it comes down to a question of yes or no to invasion without broad international support, our answer is no.[...]

A supreme international crime
Mark Littman, The Guardian, March 10, 2003

Any member of a government backing an aggressive war will be open to prosecution

The United Nations Charter is a treaty, one to which 192 out of a total of 196 sovereign states in the world are parties. It takes precedence over all other treaties.

At the Nuremberg trials, the principles of international law identified by the tribunal and subsequently accepted unanimously by the General Assembly of the United Nations included that the planning, preparation or initiation of a war contrary to the terms of an international treaty was "a crime against peace". The tribunal further stated "that to initiate a war of aggression... is not only an international crime, it is the supreme international crime".

It was for this crime that the German foreign minister Von Ribbentrop was tried, convicted and hanged.

Let Them Hate as Long as They Fear
Paul Krugman, New York Times, March 7, 2003

"Why does our president condone the swaggering and contemptuous approach to our friends and allies this administration is fostering, including among its most senior officials? Has 'oderint dum metuant' really become our motto?" So reads the resignation letter of John Brady Kiesling, a career diplomat who recently left the Foreign Service in protest against Bush administration policy.

"Oderint dum metuant" translates, roughly, as "let them hate as long as they fear." It was a favorite saying of the emperor Caligula, and may seem over the top as a description of current U.S. policy.

But this week's crisis in U.S.-Mexican relations — a crisis that has been almost ignored north of the border — suggests that it is a perfect description of George Bush's attitude toward the world. [...]
What Would Genghis Do?
Maureen Dowd, New York Times, March 5, 2003

It's easy to picture Rummy in a big metal breastplate, a skirt and lace-up gladiator sandals: Rummius Maximus Pompeius.

During the innocent summer before 9/11, the defense secretary's office sponsored a study of ancient empires — Macedonia, Rome, the Mongols — to figure out how they maintained dominance.

What tips could Rummy glean from Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar and Genghis Khan? [...]

Niall Ferguson, a professor at Oxford and New York University who wrote the coming book "Empire," said that while "it was rather sweet" that the Pentagon was studying ancient empires, he thought the lessons were no longer relevant.

"The technological and economic differences between modernity and premodernity are colossal," he said.

Besides, he says Americans aren't temperamentally suited to empire-building. "The British didn't mind living for years in Iraq or India for 100-plus years," he said. "Americans aren't attracted to the idea of taking up residence in hot, poor places." [...]

Chicken à la Iraq
Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times, March 5, 2003

What you now see unfolding before your eyes is the last few minutes of a game of geopolitical chicken between George Bush and Saddam Hussein. It's called: Whose Coalition Will Break First?

Let's start with Saddam. Surely the funniest line of the week was his spokesman's explanation of why Iraqi TV was not showing Saddam's men destroying his Al Samoud missiles, as the U.N. had demanded. The Iraqi spokesman said it was because if the Iraqi people saw this, they would be so angry at the U.N. there's just no telling what they might do. Right, and if my grandmother had wheels, she'd be a bus.

The reason Saddam is not showing this to his people is because it makes him look weak, ...
Giving into the demands of the bespectacled Hans Blix is not a healthy thing for Saddam. It's like the Godfather taking up knitting. It evinces weakness, and Saddam rules by fear. The minute he looks less ferocious, he is in danger from those around him. This is not Norway.

What continues to breathe life into Saddam's camp is not the Arab street (which already smells his weakness and mostly wants him gone) but the French street, which is so obsessed with countering U.S. power that it can't acknowledge what is happening right before its eyes:

We could still get lucky and find that Mr. Bush's decision to begin this game of chicken by throwing away his steering wheel leads Saddam to cave or quit. .... Otherwise, brace yourself for the crash and hope for the best — because we're all in the back seat.
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