Thursday, August 14, 2008

Nations Invading Nations

On the charitable assumption that George W. Bush will change his mind and decide that the US Constitution applies to his presidency, his term as president will end 158 days from today. His lame duck status has not shielded him from criticism, of which Norm Geras cites a recent -- and dishonest -- example:

Seamus [Milne] quotes Bush's words and goes on to ask whether he could be one of the leaders of 'the same governments that in 2003 invaded and occupied... the sovereign state of Iraq on a false pretext... (etc)' - with the 'etcetera' not including the stuff about a democratic government. Milne thereby displays a greater stupidity than he thinks he has caught George Bush out in.
True enough -- in the instance cited, Bush qualified Russia's incursion into Georgia as an attack on a legitimate state, and the legitimacy of the state does matter. There are many valid criticisms of the Iraq war, but the idea that Saddam Hussein's rule was legitimate in any sense is not among them.

So what is John McCain's excuse? John McCain is seeking to become president after Bush leaves office, and asks voters to choose him on the basis of his acumen in foreign affairs. And yet he states rather flatly, "in the 21st century, nations don't invade other nations." Video:

And yet the United States invaded Iraq during the 21st century and with McCain's consistent support. Either McCain is speaking recklessly here, not bothering to issue qualifications that even the notoriously poorly-spoken and nuance-blind George W. Bush has been able to offer; or he proceeds from a nationalistic-tribalistic framework in which broad principles ("nations don't invade other nations") apply to states other than his own. Either way, it speaks very poorly of his readiness for the presidency.

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