Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Hawking on Iraq

Stephen Hawking offers his view of the war:
"The war was based on two lies," said Hawking. "The first was we were in danger of weapons of mass destruction and the second was that Iraq was somehow to blame for Sept. 11.
If Bush lied, then he (a) made false claims and (b) knew those claims to be false. So if Hawking is right, then all of the following propositions are true:
  1. Bush claimed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.
  2. Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction.
  3. Bush knew that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction.
  4. Bush claimed that Iraq had some connection to 9/11.
  5. Iraq did not have a connection to 9/11.
  6. Bush knew that Iraq did not have a connection to 9/11.

(1) is certainly true; (2) and (5) are arguably true. (3) is false. The belief that Saddam had WMDs was a global and bipartisan belief. The debate over whether the US should go to war hinged on whether or not it was necessary; the debate never hinged on doubts about Saddam’s potential to menace the world. (4) is questionable; its truth depends on what the Bush Administration claimed about putative connections between Iraq and 9/11. (5) is probably true in the strong sense that Iraq did not play an essential role in 9/11, but it is false in the sense that Saddam funded terrorism. Finally, (6) is irrelevant given that (4) is equivocal.

"It has been a tragedy for all the families that have lost members. As many as 100,000 people have died, half of them women and children. If that is not a war crime, what is?"
Even taking that number at face value, a war crime is not based on the number of people killed in a war; it’s based on how and why they are killed.
"Our message to the U.S. is that the war is illegal and unnecessary, and we want our troops to come home," said Andrew Burgin, a spokesman for demonstration organizer Stop the War Coalition.
For x to be illegal, x must break a law. So which law did the war break? I cannot think of a more legal war. First, Saddam was in constant violation of the cease fire agreement he had with the United Nations. Second, the US Congress supported the war. Third, the US, rather than going to war without global support, went to the United Nations and secured Resolution 1440—passed unanimously by the security council—which gave Saddam a final thirty days to comply. The US did this in deference to those who wanted the war to be a last resort, including France and Germany. The conventional wisdom is that the US defied the UN and initiated a unilateral war, but this is wrong. France and Germany defied the UN by not living up to Resolution 1440, while the US carried it out.

3 comments:

Alexander Johannesen said...

Hawkins:
"It has been a tragedy for all the families that have lost members. As many as 100,000 people have died, half of them women and children. If that is not a war crime, what is?"

You:
Even taking that number at face value, a war crime is not based on the number of people killed in a war; it’s based on how and why they are killed.

The please explain how and especially why 50.000 women and children has died? I think this is the crux of what Hawkins mean by "war crime". Somehow I don't believe in 50.000 women and children dressed up in guerilla costumes with guns; anything else means 'civilian'.

Bill Ramey said...

Alex,

The burden of explanation is not on me. When X accuses Y of a war crime, X has the burden of proof. So that means that X has to substantiate and explain the charge. I have seen the 100,000 figure, but I'm a little more than dubious about it.

Ernest said...

Alex & Bill,

Bush-hater and Iraqi war opponent Fred Kaplan has this to say about the dubious "100,000 dead" meme at Slate:


"Imagine reading a poll reporting that George W. Bush will win somewhere between 4 percent and 96 percent of the votes in this Tuesday's election. You would say that this is a useless poll and that something must have gone terribly wrong with the sampling. The same is true of the Lancet article: It's a useless study; something went terribly wrong with the sampling."

Read his full reasoning here:


http://slate.msn.com/id/2108887