Political Animal

IRAQI TERRORISTS….CNN just reported that

IRAQI TERRORISTS….CNN just reported that we have busted up a couple of “terror plots” planned against us by Iraq. What’s more, we have discovered that Iraqi agents in 10 other countries are apparently planning attacks on “U.S. interests.”

Isn’t it time to stop calling these things “terrorist attacks”? I don’t know what these attacks are supposed to have involved, but we have invaded their country, after all, and blowing up the other country’s facilities is generally what you expect in a war. I don’t like it, but it’s no more a terrorist attack than were German U-boat attacks on the Eastern seaboard during World War II. It’s a war, after all, and the other guys should be expected to fight back.

On the same topic, why are we surprised at the guerilla tactics employed by the Iraqis? Granted, dressing as civilians and flying phony white flags violates the normal rules of war, but if it were Iraqis invading, say, Tennessee, and the situation were desperate, is there any doubt that the citizenry of this country would be doing the exact same thing?

UPDATE: Mark Kleiman thinks I’m completely off base in my last paragraph. And he’s right: soldiers dressing as civilians and flying phony white flags is unforgivable. As he says, “If a white flag doesn’t mean what it says, then surrender is impossible, and all war must be war to the last soldier.”

So no, it’s not justifiable. But ? I still wonder if we wouldn’t do the same if we were in a similar position against an overwhelmingly superior enemy. Hopefully we’ll never have to find out.

DOES SADDAM HAVE WMDs?….Jonah Goldberg

DOES SADDAM HAVE WMDs?….Jonah Goldberg talks today about a big question: does Saddam Hussein really have WMDs? Does he have “a nuclear program or stockpiles of VX or tubs and tubs of hidden anthrax”? At first, striking a reasonable pose, he suggests that if we find WMDs that means we were right and we’re the ones who should run post-war Iraq. But if we don’t and it was the UN inspectors who were right, then maybe reconstruction contracts should be handled by the UN.

But the strain of moderation is too much. He immediately changes tack and says:

Now, to be honest, I think they should go to us regardless, because America’s motives were right ? and our sacrifices are real ? even if Saddam doesn’t have these weapons. For twelve years he issued bilious clouds of smoke in order to make the world think there’s a fire in Iraq. If it turns out it was all smoke and no fire, that doesn’t make us wrong for bringing the fire hose.

Huh? So if it turns out that we’ve been making up this stuff about WMDs all along ? well, it’s actually Saddam’s fault because he kept making scary noises.

Americans in general ? and pro-war conservatives especially ? are simply unable to understand that the entire world doesn’t automatically accept that our “motives were right” or that our intentions have always been benign. And there’s no reason they should. They should judge us based on our actions, just as we would judge them. It’s this kind of blindness that leads to overoptimistic ideas about Iraqis greeting us as liberators simply because they don’t like Saddam Hussein. Unfortunately, they don’t like us either. Why is it so hard for people to understand that no one likes to have their country taken over by an invading army, no matter how righteous that invading army thinks its cause is?

In the end, of course, probably no one will be satisfied on the WMD question. My guess is that we’ll find small amounts of chemical weapons and perhaps some evidence of bioweapons factories ? but no bioweapons themselves. In other words, enough evidence to convince the hawks they were right, but not enough to convince anyone else the war was worth it. Much like life in general.

UPDATE: Fox News reports that the Pentagon thinks the biggest reason we aren’t being hailed as liberators is that Iraqis are afraid of being shot by their own officers if they do. That might well be a reason, but I imagine that the biggest reason is that they are Iraqis and they don’t like being invaded by Americans. Why is it so hard to understand that even in a dictatorship people have considerable pride in their country and don’t like to see foreign troops marching in?

MUSIC THEFT….Megan McArdle tells us

MUSIC THEFT….Megan McArdle tells us today about attempts in several states to ban personal firewalls. Why? The RIAA thinks they encourage music file sharing by hiding IP addresses.

Megan’s post on this is 100% correct. There’s no reason why music companies shouldn’t be concerned that people are downloading music for free, and since we live in a free market they should be allowed to charge whatever they think the market will bear for their products ? if they’re wrong, the market will let them know.

On the other hand, their efforts to stop music downloading have been so wildly hamhanded and technically illiterate that they’ve become their own worst enemy. It’s hard for any thinking person not to cheer the music downloaders after hearing a few too many recording industry proposals that are better suited to Stalin’s Russia than they are to the bedrooms of American teenagers.