A plea to the warbloggers

Okay, folks. I’m with you. [See previous post.] Looks as if it’s just you and me (oh, and George and Condi and Colin and Tony and Vaclav) against the whole weight of respectable opinion, plus Noam Chomsky and Gore Vidal. Seems like a pretty comfortable position to me.

Still, I was wondering if some of you might help me out with answers to a few questions that have been nagging at me:

1. Assume, as now seems at least plausible, that we can’t get the next resolution through the Security Council. An invasion of Iraq without Security Council authorization (or, rather, in the teeth of the Security Council’s refusal to authorize) would be a clear violation of the UN Charter, which is a treaty with binding force, and one that we virtually drafted as well as having signed. Is it really our position that treaties are mere scraps of paper? Is it really our position that it would be in the best long-term interests of the United States to discard the United Nations machinery? [Mickey Kaus is quite eloquent on this (12:51am Friday), as is Michael Kinsley; does William Saletan really reflect the views of the warblogger community?]

2. What are we supposed to say about what seems to be the fraudulent “evidence” about Iraq’s attempt to buy fissile material from Niger? That story has been all over the anti-war part of the blogosphere, but I haven’t seen any reference to it among the hawks except my own. Were US and British intelligence services taken in by a fairly gross set of forgeries, or was this part of a deliberate disinformation campaign? How much of the other evidence claimed by the administration about Iraqi WMD efforts rests on similarly shaky evidentiary bases?

3. There’s no question that we could conquer Iraq on the ground. But that would cost us a significant number of casualties. So instead the plan seems to be to start by raining bombs on Baghdad in hopes of so demoralizing the leadership that they just stop fighting. As we all know, the smartest of smart bombs is an idiot studying to be a moron: a large number of civilians are certain to die if we really use the “Shock and Awe” approach. Do we really think that’s ok?

4. The peace-bloggers have been making a fuss about the lack of follow-through in giving Afghanistan a workable government and a working economy. (Of course the crop of opium poppies came in nicely this year, making Afghanistan once again the leading heroin producer in the world, thanks to some of the Northern Alliance warlords we just put back in power. But that’s not really going to feed the country long-term.) The Bush Administration budget proposed exactly zero for Afghanistani reconstruction. The previous Bush Administration left the Turks to pick up the pieces after the Kurdish exodus from Iraq that accompanied the last Gulf War. Why should we expect the coming reconstruction to go better?

More than that: does anyone have any real idea about what the Administration plans for post-war Iraq? Lots of what I read seems to talk about an attempt to create a democratic Iraq, which (1) sounds like a sick joke made by someone who has no idea what democracy demands of the underlying society and (2) would have to presuppose, even to make the attempt, a fairly long period of occupation government similar to those that rebuilt Germany and Japan. Do we really think we can get away with an American or Anglo-American protectorate over Iraq?

If not, what’s Plan B? I assume the Saudi offer to take the place over for us will be politely refused. But what’s the alternative? Replace SH with some sort of temporary viceroy and let the Baathist technocrats continue to actually run the place?

I have some additional questions, but those be enough to start with.

Go ahead. Enlighten me.

UPDATE David Boyum provides some answers.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com