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November 15, 2003

I'M CONFUSED. Mark Kleiman has a rather overwrought post in which he's angry at me for impugning Wesley Clark's patriotism. The only problem is that the only one doing so is, er, Kleiman. Here, in its entirety, is what I wrote:

ANDREW SULLIVAN IS FISKING WESLEY CLARK, who rather incoherently says that the war in Kosovo was "technically illegal" because the Security Council didn't approve it, but that it was still okay, while the war in Iraq wasn't:

Let's go back here. Clark essentially concedes that the war in Kosovo was, under international law, indistinguishable from the war in Iraq. Actually, even that's not entirely true. It should be recalled that the United States and its allies, particularly Great Britain, secured a 15-0 Security Council Resolution demanding complete and unfettered access to potential sites of WMD development--or else--in Iraq. The "else" was subject to debate, but the notion that it ruled out any military action is one only Dominique de Villepin would argue with a straight face. No such 15-0 vote occurred at any time before the Kosovo war. So, if anything, the war against Iraq had more international legitimacy than the war in Kosovo. If viewed as a continuation of the 1991 war--the terms of which cease-fire Saddam had grotesquely and systematically violated--it was impeccably legitimate. The 1991 war, after all, was one of very few post-World War II conflicts that had unimpeachable U.N. credentials.

The real problem with the Iraq war is that it's (1) waged by a Republican President; and (2) obviously in the United States' national interest. To some people, those characteristics are enough to brand it evil.

Sullivan goes on to call Clark's latest claims about Bush "Ross-Perot crazy." Read the whole thing.

But, just for the record, I had no thought of impugning Clark's patriotism when I made that post. Just his judgment and his fitness to be President. As has been widely discussed in the blogosphere, some Democratic foreign-policy types seem to regard military action that doesn't have any direct benefit to the United States as morally preferable to military action that does. I don't think that such a view is unpatriotic -- just unserious, and unsuitable for anyone who might be President.

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