Now This

This blog is now read by more machines than humans: RSS robots, spam-laying insectopoids, echoes of blog-gathering .edu projects. This essentially is the state of affairs that all human activities w

Cleaning Up the Nation

Austin Bay:

If Air America were a conservative radio network its corrupt funding trail and cynical abuse of a poverty program would be front page news at the NY Times and full-time mega-scandal at

Rank Materialism

Freedom. I am now the proud new owner of a Gateway 6020GZ laptop, perfect for students and others with limited means. I can now go into a Starbucks or a Barnes & Noble and look like I'm doing some

Fallujah Fonda

Uh-oh. From the Telegraph comes this exciting news:

Jane Fonda is returning to anti-war activism and embarking on a cross-country tour to call for an end to US military operations in Iraq.

Acros

John Pilger: Partner in Terrorism

In an outrageous piece of terrorist propaganda appearing on the cover of today's New Statesman, John Pilger puts the blame for the 7/7 London attacks not on the terrorists, but rather on Tony Blair:

The Omnilateralists

A commenter on an LGF post makes the following point: "ALL polls consistently show that without UN support the American people DO NOT want to go to war unilaterally."

Someone else retorts: "This is such a tired canard by now. Can't you do better? Multilateral does not mean just Germany and France."

The first commenter replies: "To me multilateral means with the support of the UN and EVERY other country pitching in to help. Not just going with the piss-poor countries and the US bribing them with aid packages."

As I noted, this actually makes the commenter an omnilateralist. I believe this has been an unspoken position of many who are against the war for some time. But I haven't seen it laid out so clearly by one of its adherents before.

The advantage of demanding omnilateral agreement before the US may do something which one happens to be against is clear. 99.5% of the time, unanimous agreement will be impossible. Is there anything that the UN and EVERY other country could possibly agree to? Doubtful. Therefore the US may not act, and the political victory over the US is at hand.

The disadvantage of demanding omnilateral agreement is that most people, I suspect, will see that this is an unreasonable requirement to impose on the US, or on anyone for that matter. Look at how NATO's voting rules affect its ability to act- now multiply the number of countries by 10. And a number of these countries have interests in direct opposition to US interests. Clearly this is no way to get things done, and people realize this.

A solution to the political distaste an insistence on omnilateralism may cause is to simply call it multilateralism. Everyone can get behind multilateralism, right? Just redefine it to mean omnilateralism.

At the same time, true multilateralism, which does describe the US's efforts regarding Iraq, will be redefined as unilateralism. How many people in how many publications and at how many events have called US actions unilateralist? It's not possible to even start counting.

Unfortunately, I think these shifts in the meanings of the words has been somewhat succesful, particularly in the press. Challenges to the charge that the US is being unilateral, when it clearly isn't, have not followed each charge of unilateralism, as they should. Consequently, many people now accept, without thinking about it much apparently, that if the US acts without the UN or France or Germany, but with 10-20 allies, that we'd be acting unilaterally.

Changing the definitions of these basic words is a victory for the omnilateralists. It won't prevent the US from acting in Iraq, but there already has been political damage done to the US because of it, and there will be more later if we don't insist that they use these words honestly.

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Comments

There's a suitable medium between unilateralism and omnilateralism.
We'll never have everyone with us -- in WWII, we had Germany, Italy and Japan not with us (because they were against us).

But we can hope for a better multilaterialism than Bush got for Iraq II. Iraq I's coalition even included fighters from Afghanistan, and the post 9/11 effort in Afghanistan had a very good coalition as well.
So one cannot say that the countries that refused to be allies in overthrowing Hussein are not normally allies; Canada, Germany, France, Turkey all contributed to regime change in Afghanistan.

Anyway, one should note that the U.S. is turning the Iraq mission into a more genuinely multilateral one now.

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