WAR, WAR, WAR….A miscellaneous collection

WAR, WAR, WAR….A miscellaneous collection of comments about the war from various blogs:

Via The Agonist, Turkey has voted against allowing deployment of U.S. troops. Oddly, the headline at Yahoo News (and elsewhere) was “Turkish Speaker Nullifies U.S. Troop Vote,” which makes it sound vaguely as if the Turkish speaker was involved in some kind of coup against his own parliament. In fact, there were 264 votes in favor out of 533, or three short of a majority. The speaker simply ruled ? correctly under Turkey’s constitution ? that you need an absolute majority of those present, not simply a majority of those voting.

A few weeks ago, explaining why he hates the French but not the Russians, Steven den Beste said:

The Russian position has always been frankly self-interested….I can deal with someone who is self-interested, as long as they’re honest about it. I am also honestly self-interested.

I wonder if he’ll still feel the same way if Russia decides to veto our latest UN resolution?

Over at Slate, Mickey Kaus dithers about the war but speaks up in favor of working with the UN:

But that’s what the international rules mean — that we sometimes have to do things that are worse for us, including things that increase the risks we face. That’s the price of having an international structure of law — a New World Order, someone once called it — which will be a handy thing to have when we’re combatting terrorism (which we’ll be doing for the rest of our lives).

It’s really hard to see why the pro-war folks don’t get this, instead insisting on the childish argument that “we shouldn’t let France dictate our foreign policy.” Of course the UN isn’t perfect ? far from it ? but as messy as it is, the UN keeps other people in line more often than not and this makes it in our own interest to support them even if it means that sometimes we don’t get our own way. What’s more, as I never tire of pointing out, in military matters the UN has generally shown pretty good judgment and has been pretty friendly to the U.S. As much as the UN may seem like nothing more than a bureaucratic talking shop, the fact is that the United States is better off with the UN than without it, and this is why we should support them, not out of some idealistic sense of global altruism.

Finally, Kieran Healy is skeptical about post-war democracy building in Iraq:

If that really is the plan, it’s time to seriously consider dsquared’s three questions

Give me one single example of something with the following three characteristics:

1. It is a policy initiative of the current Bush administration
2. It was significant enough in scale that I’d have heard of it (at a pinch, that I should have heard of it)
3. It wasn’t in some important way completely fucked up during the execution.

I’m also wondering (a) Since WWII, how many autocratic or totalitarian countries have been invaded by a democracy, had the bad guys deposed, and a stable democratic regime installed; and (b) How does this number compare to the number invasions or other interventions that resulted in puppet governments, friendly autocrats, messy long-term military occupations, or oughtright disasters?

The questions D? raises, of course, hinge on your definition of “completely fucked up,” and there’s little hope of getting any agreement on that. But Kieran’s question is more interesting. I would guess, for example, that Republicans would point to Reagan’s interventions in Latin America in the 80s as having pushed the region toward democracy, which is now widely ? though perhaps not deeply ? rooted there. I wouldn’t agree with that assessment myself, but it seems like it’s at least an arguable case.

UPDATE: Matt Yglesias (and Kieran himself in comments) point out the obvious problem: most of us liberals question even the actual commitment of the Bush administration to promoting democracy in Iraq. The question is, could we do it if we truly wanted to?

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