Monday, January 9, 2006

Zbig's Real Choice in Iraq


BIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI, former President Jimmy Carter's National Security Adviser, writes in a Washington Post OpEd Commentary about The Real Choice in Iraq, which he puts quite succinctly as follows--
ZB: "Victory or defeat" is, in fact, a false strategic choice. In using this formulation, the president would have the American people believe that their only options are either "hang in and win" or "quit and lose." But the real, practical choice is this: "persist but not win" or "desist but not lose."
Although Zbig calls "victory or defeat" a "false strategic choice" in considering America's problem in Iraq, he actually embraces a from of "victory or defeat" as follows. He thinks the real choice in Iraq is "Persist but lose" or "Desist and win". Which confounds the meaning of persistence, with losing, and running away, with saving the situation. So his advice sounds a lot like "Cut and run! Soon as we can."

He buys into the calculus of "victory or defeat" but comes to his own conclusions about what to do now in those terms. Yet before deciding on "real choices" I think it might help to agree first on some non-zero-sum metaphor to capture the reality of Iraq. Here is mine: Democratic Iraq is like a child born out of wedlock-- you can't put the baby back in the mother. We may argue mightily over its provenance and legitimacy, the "circumstances" of the "case," but can America act out of other than a consciousness of paternity in its violent and bloody birth, or even "maternal responsibility" for what will happen now? Zbig seems to think an orphanage for Democratic Iraq might do just fine, while America concentrates on being "practical."

I think it is the sheer reality of Democratic Iraq's existence, and the potential for good in the neighborhood in which she will surely thrive or perish, that ought to shape America's choices there. In the Homeland of the Brave, seemingly secure in Liberty's protection, the febrile political and ideological argumentation, and the coming elections, will surely obscure that reality.

An interesting discussion on Zbigniew Brzezinski OpEd piece is going on over at the BELGRAVIA DISPATCH weblog.

RELATED PHILIPPINE COMMENTARY POSTS HERE:

Will America Abandon Democratic Iraq?
Our Love Goes to Democratic Iraq
Democratic Iraq--the Arab World's First and Only

TALKING OF STATE-SPONSORED TERRORISM
From the Norway Post Front Page Norway's Foreign Ministry insists that the folks running the longest Communist insurgency in Philippine history, the C.P.P.-N.P.A. are NOT terrorists because they are not listed on the UN Terror List. Besides, the Norwegians are playing host to the "Peace talks" that have been going on almost as long as the insurgency! I suppose the fact that the Utrecht-based septuagenrians in the Central Committee of the C.P.P. subsist quite decently on the tender mercies of the Dutch and Norwegian Welfare States, and so in a twisted way, they have become CONSTITUENTS of those mightily deluded Northern European "democracies." As far as we can tell, the UN Terror List consists entirely of Al Qaeda and the Taliban, not Abu Sayyaf, not Jemaah Islamiyah, not 98% of the lethal, murderous organizations and individuals fingered by both the European Union and the United States Coalition of the Willing countries in their own anti-terrorism legislation. Including the C.P.P.-N.P.A. in successive annual reviews since 2001. Makes you wonder about Norway and the Netherlands when they back up a group that defends their use of land mines because they only use remote-control models (to selectively target "only" the class enemy). Someone save us from such friends.

(UPDATE 1300) Solomonia has a post on the Norway story

19 comments:

manuelbuencamino said...

The CPP-NPA is in the State Department terror list and Bush himself said that government's supporting terrorist organizations would be made to pay.

So,

Why doesn't the US State Department declare the Dutch and Norwegians as governments supporting terrorists and terrorist organizations?

Why does Bush allow the Dutch and the Norwegians to get away with it?

Is there something racist or religious prompting this double standard?

Don't the Dutch and Norwegian deserve the same kind of treatment as Saddam and the Talibans, for allowing their countries to be used as terrorist bases?

Rizalist said...

I'm all for a pre-emptive strike, MB. The Americans have their hands full in Iraq.

HILLBLOGGER said...

MB,

I strongly believe that the Americans cannot launch any strike agains Norway and the Netherlands in spite of their so-called 'harboring' of "terrorists" for two reasons:

1) Norway and the Netherlands are not 'officially' at war with the US; besides Norway is a very, very rich member of NATO - US needs Norway than the other way around! The Netherlands is not Iraq and is not Afghanistan!

2) to my knowledge, JoMa Sison and his friends have NEVER carried out armed attacks against the US homeland nor have they attacked US military contingents in the Philippines either (save for the murder of a Jusmag chief); as a matter of fact, the Sison-led CPP and the NDF parties have always managed to strike only Philippine government assets. In short, this is a Philippine problem.

I actually find that JoMa and his friends are being cowardly - they say they hate 'imperialist America' yet by way of proving that, the only people they bully are impoverished Philippine peasants. What a laugh!

Anyway, lets be real, there's no way the US can launch a pre-emptive strike against JoMa's host nations given those reasons. Also, Europe will NEVER sit it out if one of their members is militarily attacked by the US. That would spark WWIII or Armagedon!

Rizalist said...

A pre-emptive strike could take on several different forms. Actually, when you surf the Nordicsphere, there is a lot of antiterrorist writing and even serious research work being done right in Norway. Btw Norway is all of 5 million people. I suspect it's like in the US or here, you have right and left also in a constant struggle there. But I think CPP have concentrated on carving out a home in Europe and they found it in the North European welfare states. I think it's by default that they became so influential though. If we could just give them some propaganda competition among the Dutch who saw what radical Islamism can do in the Theo van Gogh incident, I bet they could be forced to face the music back here. Or we can just wait a few years, they're septuagenarians already at the top! Funny, mine clearing is a big NGO thing in Norway. Maybe they don't know about the NPA's use of remote controlled land mines.

manuelbuencamino said...

Hillblogger,

I say that in the same way that the US is questioning our commitment to the war on terror with the Angelo de la Cruz case, we should question their commitment for being soft and selective on states that harbor terrorists.

"Europe will NEVER sit it out if one of their members is militarily attacked by the US. That would spark WWIII or Armagedon!"

So America is a schoolyard bully and picks only those it can kick around?
Whatever happened to "you are either with us or against us?"

HILLBLOGGER said...

DJB,

The Netherlands is actually in a legal bind:

1) the Dutch had accepted the asylum seeker status of JoMa long before he was put on the US terrorist listing and Dutch law in the matter prevails - he is considered an asylum seeker or until he breaches Dutch homeland security laws; and that may not come because JoMa is living a life of peaceful petit bourgeois in Utrecht and perhaps doesn't relish the idea of knocking that kind of life down.

The Dutch had actually acceeded to US demands and have withdrawn all their subsidies to JoMa, social security, social welfare benefits, etc., he absolutely no longer receives a Euro from the Dutch state by virtue of the US terrorist tag on him. The belief that JoMa is receiving some kind of stipend directly from the Dutch State is definitely baloney! Would be more correct to say that he is indirectly receiving certain Dutch advantages, i.e., use of roads, bridges, public utilities in Utrecht, etc.

2) even if for the sake of argument, the Dutch government withdraws JoMa's asylum seeker status, under European law of which the Dutch are signatories, they cannot just kick JoMa Sison out of Europe unless another country is willing to accept him or better still, unless the Philippine government ask that he be extradited to the Manila and to my knowledge, the Philippines has not made such legal demand.

Moreover, JoMa has bona-fide legal close family ties in the Netherlands - his daughter is a Dutch citizen and his grandchildren are Dutch citizens; even his wife holds the equivalent US green card.

There are several legal hurdles to overcome, even for a country as powerful as the US before they can actually impose their will on any European nation, no matter how tiny. JoMa has recently applied to the International Court in Europe questioning the validity of the terrorist tag, insisting on the Philippine sovereignity issue, i.e., that the Philippines is a sovereign nation and the US has no business interfering with events that happened between Filipinos on Philippine soil, etc.

You must also consider the fact that JoMa and his friends have not militarily attacked US homeland to date. Therefore, the US have no valid reason to launch a pre-emptive attack on a European country even if that country is said to harbor US-tagged terrorists.

Finally, the US simply acted on a Philippine government request to include JoMa and his CPP firends on US State Dept's terrorist listing without which I doubt very much if the Americans would have gone to the trouble of including 67-yr old JoMa on their terrorist listing.

Before I forget... even on the US front, there is a legal hitch which could help Sison vis-a-vis Americans because no less than a US judge, Judge Real, in his official decision to award Sison with compensastion, declared that JoMa Sison is a human rights abuse victim.

As for the NPA's use of remote controlled land mines - who do you reckon they got these lethal weapons from? Is it safe to assume they were gotten from either the US or the USSR indirectly through unscrupulous suppliers?

HILLBLOGGER said...

DJB,

Re: "Whatever happened to "you are either with us or against us?"

Hah-Hah!

In the first place, that was Bush not the American people saying that and as far as I am concerned Bush is bully boy...

Secondly, do you really believe that all leaders in Eruope are Bush's lap dog poodle like Tony Blair whom he can cow easily?

HILLBLOGGER said...

DJB,

For your info, General Michael Rose, a former UK 4-star army general has now
firmly declared that Tony Blair misled the UK when he joined Bush's
coalition of the willing forces to invade Iraq and is now calling for the
impeachment of Blair based on Blair's lies!

Now, if that ain't goin to hurt, I don't know what will - the accuser is a
military man who knows what he is talking about and not some pseudo military
jerk like Bully Boy Bush!

HILLBLOGGER said...

DJB & MB,

I hope I have not spoken too soon when I said that to date, JoMa and his friends have not launched an armed strike against US homeland or against US contingents in the Philippines.

Well, I don't know what the Journal Today report is worth but here it is. And if they really get into an armed conflict with US participating troops on RP soil, the whole 'terrorist tag' color against JoMa (aka Armando Liwanag, Chairman CPP) and his friends may take on a different shade...

CPP warns US troops
http://www.JOURnal.com.ph/news.asp?pid=2&sid=1&nid=17482&month=1&day=10&year=2006

By Paul M. Gutierrez
People's Journal


SIERRA MADRE — Hand in hand with its preparation for an escalated armed conflict with the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Communist Party of the Philippines has also advised its armed wing, the New People's Army, to be prepared to confront the military might of the United States.

Rizalist said...

Most Anti-Americanism in the world, I note, occurs in the most eloquent American English. I think that is because, for Filipinos in particular, they learned their anti-Americanism from Americans and their colonial minded propagators. It's the main reason I love getting into debates about America--she actually contains all the arguments for or against any issue.

IN the case of Joma, I feel towards Norway and the Netherlands what I used to feel towards America for harboring Ferdinand Marcos. Many people didn't feel like I did including many relatives, so I understand how you guys feel about Joma.

America may be a superpower, but she CAN be destroyed, utterly. So the use of American military power is not arbitrary or unlimited, otherwise there would be massive holes in the ground in various places.

As far as I'm concerned, Bush is now expendable. The point is he has already accomplished a lot in FORCING democracy upon the Middle East. That was a CHOICE like FORCING democracy on Japan and Germany after WWII, after 60,000,000 people died.

We won't see the effect of such an historic decision for decades yet, but as for Democratic Iraq, you can't put her back in the mother, you can't unremove the tumor that Saddam Hussein was. Even America was a total mess for 10 years after 1776, and apparently parts of Europe still are.

You may want to forget about Iraq by blaming W. as a bully, but the REALITY of Iraq cannot be denied. However, there is a great debate in America and it is possible the ISOLATIONISTS will win the elections of 2006 and 2008 just as they did 1912.

If they do, we shall know the meaning of "are you with us or are you against us" when it is the Democrats saying it. Even Joma's wife's green card won't do her any good and Norway might PRAY America invades her.

HILLBLOGGER said...

DJB,

From what I've read and learned from your writings, you are a proponent of the RULE OF LAW.

Why should that very rule be applied discriminately now?

I don't deny the reality nor object to what you've said in the above but I wish to clarify that my being anti-Bush does not extend to Americans or to the US as I myself was educated in the US; my sentiments against Bush stems from his own folly, his unilateral decision to invade Iraq against all sound moral and legal advice and against UN requests to let the UN inspectors finish the job which if I remember rightly was about to be wrapped up. But Bush wanted to prove that he was law unto himself and that right or wrong, he must be right; the root of my anti-Bush sentiment, you are right were inculcated in me by my partly American upbringing which had always nurtured my belief that a wrong is wrong no matter who says or does it...

Again, the rule of law must apply even to US-tagged terrorists like JoMa who is under Dutch 'legal protection' or a nation that has so far applied the rule of law. Need I reiterate here that JoMa and his friends to date have never militarily or launched attacks against the US? Need I say again that the even the International Court in Europe has granted JoMa's motion that he must be legally considered an asylum seeker? So, why would you or anyone wish the US to invade a totally sovereign, western democratic country just because a Filipino Communist rebel, whose very own government has not demanded this 'criminal's' extradition to his own country, is living on its soil?

The US exercised its rule of law on the continuing stay of Marcos on its soil, didn't it?

The thought that America should or might do a thing of the kind and breach the rule of law that applies to a foreign nation, whether it be Norway or The Netherlands' is simply terrifying because the prospect alone would breach all that is decent and all that is embodied in the general precept of the Rule of Law.

As to "you're either with us or against us", I sincerely hope that by "us", you meant those that uphold the Rule of Law.

Anyway, DJB, allow me to borrow your own term regarding Bush,'expendable' and let me tell you my own thoughts: To me, JoMa, the Filipino Communist bourgeois with whom many Filipino leaders have a running cordial entente is absolutely, totally, undeniably expendable. JoMa merely happens to be the person who is in the midst of the discussion pertaining to US tagged terrorists which Manuel Buencamino started. The persona could have been different - it could have been you or anyone else here instead - the countries mentioned could have been in Africa, Asia, the Middle East but my sentiments or arguments wouldn't have changed because what I've enumerated in my previous postings reflect my non-negotiable conviction that there must be Rule of Law, which, you my dear DJB, have a lot to be credited for!

Rizalist said...

HB, MB, let me take this discussion in a slightly different direction by asking a question. Do you believe in the United Nations? Would you support ONE NATION ONE VOTE in the U.N.? Believe it or not, we will get back to questions like "pre-emptive invasions" and the rule of law among nations by thinking on this...

HILLBLOGGER said...

DJB,

Yep! I believe in the United Nations.

Would I support one nation one vote in the UN? Yes! Wasn't that the basis for Israel's nationhood?

But please tell us how one nation one vote will get us back to questions like pre-emptive invasions and the rule of law among nations?

Rizalist said...

HB--Let's take ONE NATION ONE VOTE to its logical conclusions. Assume that the Security Council is abolished and the General Assembly takes over in that full democratic mode.

INQUIRY before presenting a good example, do you really MEAN that America's vote should count as much as Angola's, that Britain's opinion is no more than Bangladesh's, that France must weigh an equal amount as tiny Chad, and India be the equivalent of Vanuatu, Japan's vote counts no more than independent Fiji ON ALL QUESTIONS BEFORE THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY?

ONE NATION ONE VOTE RIGHT?

Rizalist said...

ALLITERATION EQUATION
one nation, one vote

America = Angola
Britain = Bangaldesh
China = Chad
Russia = Rwanda
France = Fiji
India = Iceland
Philippines = Palau
Japan = Jamaica

Do you believe in this type of United Nations? Can it work? It's wonderfully "democratic" -- but what rule of law would likely ensue?

Amadeo said...

Indeed, Bush is guilty for not completely following through with his statements about terrorists, and about his threatening clincher that anybody who was not for the US was against it. He should have been more cautious and circumspect in his rhetoric because even then there were those aside from JoMa Sison, had also been tagged as terrorists at some point or another in their political lives. Let me mention a couple of prominent ones. The late Y.Arafat and even the now sick A. Sharon.

But even then I can safely surmise that many astute observers had not failed to sufficiently understand who and what kind of terrorists Bush meant when he mentioned terrorists. One then was to follow a more realistic world-view, rather than just exclusively parsing the statements of Bush.

Second, Bush is not a dictator or even a benign king. He is an elected official, elected by the American people. He got re-elected by a majority vote as the ongoing war on Iraq was already raging. Thus, it is not a big stretch to surmise that those who voted and elected him had a favorable judgment on how he was handling the war. It is not therefore completely right to say that one’s dislike, and I hope not hate, for Bush and what he does officially do not extend to the constituents who elected him. I believe it is more honest to say that his official actions reflect the collective mind and act of the American people. At least, that’s how it works in a representative democracy.

I declare that I voted for him twice, and I am not even a Republican.

I suppose as the only superpower in the world, the US cannot help escape from the label of bully. After all, its very presence alone intimidates many countries.

And it is less than honest to say that Bush unilaterally went into the war with Iraq. As I recall at the start of the war there were over 30 members of that coalition. True, some countries extended only token assistance. Still, it does not speak well to completely dismiss their participation.

And rule of law? Here are some definitions of it:

The principle that every member of a society, even a ruler, must follow the law.
www.nmlites.org/standards/socialstudies/glossary.html

A State in which the individual enjoys the full exercise of his fundamental liberties and civil rights, and in which the guarantees necessary to ensure their respect are assured.
www.france.diplomatie.fr/label_france/DUDH/english/glossaire.html

Doctrine that no individual stands above the law, and that all rulers are answerable to the law. This is one of the major legacies of the constitutional system. The rule of law can also be understood as the belief that there is a universal standard of justice, equality and impartiality, against which all governments and governmental actions may be measured.
www.historycentral.com/Civics/R.htm

1The doctrine that all people are equal before the law, and that the government is subject to the law. 2. the absence of arbitrary executive power.
www.abc.net.au/ola/citizen/gloss/rglos.htm

Can anybody assure me with no equivocation, that there is any place on earth, where the rule of law is completely and consistently followed? For one, I cannot even say that the US is one such place. It generally does or tries.

My belief is that any and all human institutions will be heir to all the inherent shortcomings attached to man’s nature.

There is no perfect world here.

HILLBLOGGER said...

DJB,

I'd considered that kind of scenario before I answered your question that's why I took the time to re-type the question before saying "Yes!" Believe it or not, I had actually surmised that you would use 3rd world nations as examples of what a 1 nation, 1 vote might do, hence, if you noticed my follow-on interrogative about Israel's nationhood.

Anyway, candidly, I did and do have my reservations in spite of my earlier reply - however, my reply refers to the absolute principle that in a functioning democracy, there should be one nation, one vote in the UN. Admittedly, this is a risky venture given the 'untrustworthiness' of third world leaders (just look at so-called US-trained Gloria!) but there you are...

However, let me turn around and make some random comments.

I do not believe that a nation in the Western hemisphere, like the US, France, the UK, etc., has any moral nor legal right whatsoever to abbrogate the principles embodied in the rule of law without excerising due diligence despite the untrustworthiness of other nations' leaders!

An act of that nature would contradict the essence of morality that these nations wish other nations to espouse! Where would the world be, nay, a neigbourhood be if the rich man of a neigborhood believes that the fellas next door don't have the education, the depth of mind to understand the law and because of his belief in of the poor guy's ineptitude, say, that the poor, uneducated, downtrodden, miserable creature should not have a vote in city elections?

In the same breadth, why should western nations be allowed to exercise an action that involves mass destruction on another nation just because a nation, say Chad has a nasty ruler?

Why should a Western nation be allowed to override an international governing body's decision just to prove its military superiority? That a western nation (or the US in this case) must use weapons of virtual mass destruction against an erring nation (when it could hardly prove its accusations against its 'enemy') is anathema to me. This is where I beg to differ on the right to launch pre-emptive strikes.

I had running tussles and heated discussions with my students in France who had opposed the US intervention in Kuwait in 1992 - I thought that was a moral and just war. I was deeply disappointed when Bush Sr decided to cut his losses and left!

I lauded the US invasion of Granada and the capture of its strongman because there were strong evidences of his crime that had been presented, hence US pre-emptive strike was just..

But I could not accept Bush Jr.'s unilateral decision to invade Iraq because his reasoning was basically flawed; his ultimatum to a group of equally democratic nations that either they were with him or against him... doesn't stand to any moral reason why Bush should be right on that score and the others were wrong!

As in the rule of law, I believe pre-emptive strikes must be launched when reasonable grounds have been established, that the accusations are have real basis or when mediations have utterly failed! Bush failed miserably on all counts.

By virtue of America's super power status, Bush didn't have to act like another Saddam...a few days of waiting wouldn't have made him less of a man or less strong as a superpower leader!

He had no right to bully his Western neighbours, least of all the United Nations because when he did that, he broke the already thinning moral fiber that was holding the UN together. To me, Bush' bully actions are a huge cause and effect of the moral, religious, racial dilemnae facing the world today.

That Iraq may grow into a US brand of democracy as a result of Bush launch of American weapons of mass destruction is almost irrelevant.

To me, and to many friends in NATO (US military folks included who had been opposed to the haste with which Bush launched his war), it would have been less costly in human lives and in logistics to have allowed CIA ops to just eliminate Saddam and thereafter, forge a treaty with a post Saddam govt in Iraq and lead Iraq towards democracy, but heck no, ever the cowboy, Bush shot first before asking questions.

But as you said, Bush is expendable - he's already a goner and is water under the bridge and rightly so...But unlike you, I don't believe the Democrats are isolationists - the younger breed of Democrats in the US have more sound moral judgement in general than both Bush and Cheney combined, quite fortunately for the world!

So, we can all move on...

manuelbuencamino said...

Hillblogger,

"Need I reiterate here that JoMa and his friends to date have never militarily or launched attacks against the US?"
Maybe not against US soil but against a US citizen and a member of the US armed forces, yes. Remember a CPP-NPA hit squad assassinated Col. Rowe in front of Jusmag HQ in Quezon City.
That is a clear act of terror against the US.

However you also said, "Finally, the US simply acted on a Philippine government request to include JoMa and his CPP firends on US State Dept's terrorist listing without which I doubt very much if the Americans would have gone to the trouble of including 67-yr old JoMa on their terrorist listing."

Now this brings up the question of how the hell does the State Department come up with a list of terrorists?
Does State have an objective criteria for terrorists?
If not, then it must be determined by caprice.
Does it take terrorist nominations from allies much like an Oscar or a Golden Globe?
In short, how and what is this State Dept. list all about?
How can we take it seriously?

Rizalist said...

MB--It's hard to say precisely how the US State Dept. decides who are worthy of being on their list of FOREIGN TERRORIST ORGANIZATIONS, but I do know the designation carries the FORCE OF LAW since it is Congress that authorizes State to act in the enforcement of the US Patriot Act, their anti-terrorism law. To be on the list is to be considered an enemy of the United States.

There is an annual review and there are severe consequences that come with being on the list. In the case of the CPP NPA being on the US and EU Terror Lists disqualifies them from receiving a lot of otherwise free money. It has been their consistent goal to be removed from those lists, even though I suspect they still get a lot of support from their allies, especially in Europe.

I don't think it is possible to have an entirely "objective" criterion for deciding who is a terrorist. In the first place, they are very secretive and it's not always easy to decide.

I guess the CPP NPA proved they are terrorists a long time ago ... in a place called Plaza Miranda.