Friday, February 07, 2003
Colin Powell set out what amounted to a case for the prosecution at the UN on Wednesday. Standard practice is for there to be a case for the defence. Iraq looks unlikely to manage the job. They’ve promised a point by point rebuttal, but given that their accusations are that Powell has been “”quoting out of context" and "conveniently omitting" details”, and that the tape recordings are "fabrications unworthy of a superpower." This doesn’t bode well for a convincing point by point case for the defence. So it looks as though the Blogosphere will have to do the job
If it please the court… Now, I’m not a high-faluting fancy city trial lawyer (jury gasps). I’m not even an engineer. But I reckon that, however strong the evidence sounds the way the prosecution knits it all together, if you go a-pulling on the right thread, that fine looking jumper’ll come apart lickeddy-split.
And another thing we tend to think around here is that defendants shouldn’t be railroaded. If a man comes to court, and suddenly finds that there’s all sorts of new evidence being brought out by his enemies, without being warned in advance, without knowing where the evidence came from, without being able to question his accusers, with all sorts of means being used to find out information, well, a lot of folk wouldn’t think that quite right.
This isn’t a “hypothetical” a tricky type might use to confuse you folk. Twice so far new claims have been brought out without my client receiving warning of the accusations or evidence the world was going to hear. Accusations have even been made by a man who’s led his troops to war against my client. Evidence has been produced from secret files, quoting men who aren’t available for questioning and whose credentials are unknown. And all types of electronic surveillance, forbidden in courts around the world, have been used to produce dubious images and recordings to bolster a weak case.
These aren’t just what-if worries. Some critics of my client have even been brazen enough to point out that such electronic intrusions would weaken the ability of Iraq, and other countries, to defend themselves against attacks outside of the UN framework. How can the public watch these proceedings without seeing that they’re tainted by bias.
Now, we’re not going to try to have any evidence struck out. My client’s case rests on its merits, and can be won on the back of them. Rushing around after everything my client may have ever said or done, they’ve caught that fine jumper in a lot of places, and it will come apart with a few hard tugs.
First, Mr Powell claims that my client has been hiding “prohibited” equipment. He claims that he has tapes of conversations between members of my client’s army. Beyond the ranks that he attributes to them, he provides no information about who these speakers are, where they are, what their responsibilities are, or any other relevant information that would let us bring them here and question them about what they really meant. We don’t get to hear the rest of the conversations. We hear an American translation of a notoriously difficult language.
Mr Powell suggests that they are concerned about a “modified vehicle” that inspectors might see. He claims this shows it is a prohibited item. Without information he won’t provide, we can’t even investigate what it might be. But let it be known that Iraq has made many arrangements for its defence, many involving improvements to military equipment. Is it unreasonable that a general would try to hide this sort of advance? Can Mr Powell even start us on the way to showing us this isn’t happening?
My client could readily say: “We didn't destroy it. We didn't line it up for inspection. We didn't turn it into the inspectors. We evacuated it to make sure it was not around when the inspectors showed up.”. Iraq’s defence must be kept secure, even as they cooperate with the UN.
He notes that the putative vehicle is from “The al-Kindi Company: This is a company that is well known to have been involved in prohibited weapons systems activity.” But who is it well known to? The Americans? Where is the evidence supporting this allegation? Why should we believe these insinuations, based on anonymous “tapes” and uncheckable speculation.
Mr Powell quotes an alleged Republican Guard officer:
"[W]e sent you a message yesterday to clean out all of the areas, the scrap areas, the abandoned areas. Make sure there is nothing [, no forbidden ammo.] there”
He calls for my client to make all efforts to cooperate with the inspectors, but instructions to clear out areas and find any and all items that are there are claimed to be evidence of a lack of co-operation!
Certainly, if the tape were entirely genuine, this would be a suspicious instruction: "After you have carried out what is contained in this message, destroy the message because I don't want anyone to see this message."
But such is the suspicion with which my client’s acts have been viewed, many officers in the army attempt to avoid saying anything that may be misconstrued, or leaving copies of messages that may be taken by spies for information about the location of their forces. America promises “death from the skies” to its enemies: is it any surprise those it paints in enemy colours try to avoid giving it the information to attack them?
Mr Powell claims that there is “a policy of evasion and deception that goes back 12 years, a policy set at the highest levels of the Iraqi regime”. But where is the evidence of this long-term policy? He says ”We know that Saddam Hussein has what is called "a higher committee for monitoring the inspections teams."” But he does not say how “we know” that. He doesn’t produce documents, refer to earlier findings, or even cite mysterious “tapes”.
And even if there were a committee, what would be so sinister about discussing the workings of the inspections. Iraq does not deny that “Saddam Hussein… Iraq’s vice president, Taha Yassin Ramadan… Qusay [Hussein and] Lt. Gen Amir al-Saadi… the Iraqi regime’s primary point of contact for Dr Blix and Dr ElBaradei” meet and discuss the progress of the inspections regime, one of the most critical issues for the government over the last decade.
Powell claims “Iraq planned to use the declaration, overwhelm us and to overwhelm the inspectors with useless information about Iraq's permitted weapons so that we would not have time to pursue Iraq's prohibited weapons. Iraq's goal was to give us, in this room, to give those of us on this council the false impression that the inspection process was working.”. But he supplies no evidence of this.
Certainly, my client could give Dr Blix little new evidence in their declaration. My client had already turned over much of the information that they had available. If there was nothing more to declare, what more could they say?
Powell says “every statement [he makes] is backed up by sources, solid sources. These are not assertions. What we're giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence.” But he provides no information that will let us test this intelligence. He cites “human sources”, but not who they are, nor what they said in full, nor what intelligence from these sources failed to pan out. Mr Powell says that “we know” many things, but either fails to say how we know that, e.g., “Qusay ordered the removal of all prohibited weapons from…palaces”, or fails to say how we know that, e.g., scientists taking documents home is proof of obstruction, rather than normal working practices.
Powell admits that satellite images are “sometimes hard for the average person to interpret, hard for me. The painstaking work of photo analysis takes experts with years and years of experience, pouring for hours and hours over light tables.”. Our understanding must rely on what he says “they indicate to our imagery specialists.” Specialists in the pay of the America, specialists whose testimony, methods, qualifications and assumptions we cannot query.
We are told that security guards on weapons bunkers are a sign of illicit use, that trucks are “decontamination vehicles” without any indicators they’re not carrying chickens or troops. We are told that movements outside military sites indicate attempts to move materials, but if America has monitored sites so closely, surely there would be a way for them to ensure places they don’t think have been “cleaned up” are inspected. Or does their evidence only stand up when viewed from space?
Mr Powell claims that scientists are refusing to be interviewed alone because they have been ordered to refuse. He cites “human sources”, without even dubious tapes of conversations. They cannot bring forth a single witness or cite a single occasion when orders or threats were made to scientists. Ladies and gentlemen, I will admit that my client is not the most wholesome of nations. But this illustrates the whole problem. Mr Powell says that Saddam Hussein is a loathsome man who has been trying to prevent inspectors operating. But well-publicised stories about my client (all of which are inadmissible), provide good reason to think that scientists might be reluctant to be interviewed alone. This reluctance would be supported by a genuine fear for their country if their words were distorted by unaccountable foreign investigatory teams.
As for the claim that Iraq has not provided enough names of scientists, if UNSCOM know who they want to interview, they need only ask. My client has tried to keep the lists of interviewees to reasonable levels, rather than throwing in cleaners, janitors, lab technicians and the like. Had they done otherwise, they would have been accused of “flooding” the inspectors with evidence. The “heads I win, tails you lose” logic of inspections is most clear here.
Mr Powell asks for a “verifiable accounting” of Iraq’s biological weapons. But he does not say what would count. My client has consistently reported having destroyed their weapons many years ago. If they have intelligence that my clients denials are false, they should produce that evidence. And not just allegations that a “thick intelligence file” contains details of “mobile production facilities”. I can provide firsthand descriptions of dinner dates with J-Lo, but they’re no less imaginary for their detail. Tom Clancy could provide details of plots far more elaborate that this, and with just as many ill-backed details.
He says “The description our sources gave us of the technical features required by such facilities are highly detailed and extremely accurate.” But how can he know that they are “extremely accurate” without more than unsourced gossip to back up the information? How does he know there are “at least seven … mobile biological agent factories” – not even a “source” is cited for this knowledge.
The spectre of trucks travelling the highways and byways of Iraq is a chimera. It is conjured up to provide an argument that inspections can never succeed. Nothing short of stopping all vehicles in Iraq at one would suffice to prove this false, and even then it would be claimed that they were parked out of sight. Accusations that defy disproof have been a feature of show trials down the ages, and again the irrefutable is wheeled out to remove any possibility of my client satisfying their accusers demands.
Once again, with chemical weapons, demands for evidence that my client does not possess are made. Certainly, Iraq was not entirely forthcoming in the early stages of inspections, but this was in part because of the difficulties that they had in producing all of the evidence expected. After all, America claims it “knows” that “Iraq has embedded key portions of its illicit chemical weapons infrastructure within its legitimate civilian industry. To all outward appearances, even to experts, the infrastructure looks like an ordinary civilian operation.”
Even industries which experts proclaim to be legitimate are therefore grounds for accusations, and America offers no proof of this. Certainly, there are again photographs of buildings, and reports of unspecified individuals saying unspecified things. We will happily stipulate that the buildings photographed have been “fully bulldozed and graded.” But in a country in a state of perpetual semi-war, building work at military locations is frequent and thorough, with sites returned to usable condition so that they can be used for other purposes. If it is claimed that “The Iraqis literally removed the crust of the earth from large portions of this site in order to conceal chemical weapons evidence that would be there from years of chemical weapons activity,” then America should be able to point to where the soil was moved to, and scientists test the residue. Or did America neglect to watch where the trucks went?
Fuzzy photos and unknown “human sources” aren’t hard evidence. If they are accurate, they should provide the information that is necessary to verify at least some of the reports, but instead my client is persecuted by unknown accusers of the Star Chamber.
The most serious accusations against my client concern nuclear weapons. Let us remember that it is the accusers who have, and have used these terrible weapons, nor that my client has renounced the pursuit of nuclear weapons.
The only solid evidence that Mr Powell cites is the purchase of aluminium tubing. The international bodies responsible for policing nuclear materials have ruled that these tubes have non-nuclear uses. My client states that they are for use in rocket launchers. The former soldier expresses surprise at the specifications of the tubing, claiming they are too precise for a rocket system, more precise than America uses. But Iraq is under threat from powerful enemies, and must obtain and develop the highest quality weapons they can. Can the world deny this protection to the Iraqi people as they stand threatened by aggression outside the law?
Similarly, other high tech purchases are necessary for entirely legitimate weapons programmes. Weapons needed to defend my client, from attacks as aggressive as these accusations are baseless.
Mr Powell claims that “Saddam Hussein's intentions have never changed. He is not developing … missiles for self-defense. These are missiles that Iraq wants in order to project power, to threaten, and to deliver chemical, biological and, if we let him, nuclear warheads.”
Ladies and gentlemen, this is base speculation. Since the end of the Gulf War, Iraq has made no aggressive moves against its neighbours. Can not every sinner repent? Is every land except Iraq allowed weapons and to plead its own case in territorial disputes? Was it not the neutering of Germany after World War One that created the atmosphere for a greater threat to emerge? If Iraq is not allowed the strength of any member of the Commonwealth of Nations, who can judge what regime will replace the current, repentant government?
Certainly, Iraq has tested Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. But it is the height of hypocrisy for an American military man to cast aspersions about their use. As America is well aware, the ability to gather intelligence is essential to effective military operations, and weaponised UAVs are essential to preserving the lives of my clients forces against superior aggressive forces.
Mr Powell claims that “Iraq and terrorism go back decades. Baghdad trains Palestine Liberation Front members in small arms and explosives. Saddam uses the Arab Liberation Front to funnel money to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers in order to prolong the intifada.”
My client does not deny this. My client wishes me to proclaim this public-spirited support for liberation movements as loudly as possible. The people of the Arab world acknowledge the appropriateness of supporting the Palestinians in their struggle for justice, through whatever means necessary. Their oppression is acknowledged by governments, media and the people across the globe, and their struggle is very rarely genuinely condemned. Why then should Iraq deny its actions?
More seriously, Mr Powell claims that there are links between Iraq and al Qaeda, that “Iraq today harbours a deadly terrorist network headed by Abu Musab Zarqawi, an associate and collaborator of Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda lieutenants.” He claims there is a “terrorist training camp… in northeastern Iraq”. But he admits that they are “operating in northern Kurdish areas outside Saddam Hussein's controlled Iraq.”
How then is my client to exercise any influence. Mr Powell claims that “Baghdad has an agent in the most senior levels of the radical organization, Ansar al-Islam, that controls this corner of Iraq.” Where is the evidence of this agent, or their influence?
America claims that Zarqawi travelled to Baghdad in May 2002, accompanied by fellow extremists. Iraq denies it has knowledge or control of these elements. Why is this incredible? America and Britain have al Qaeda groups within their borders, yet Iraq, where al Qaeda agents can blend in to a familiar culture, is supposed to be more effective in dealing with organisations that present no threat to Iraq itself.
Certainly, my client is concerned by the failure of its security forces to act on a contact by “a friendly security service… about extraditing Zarqawi and providing information about him and his close associates [who supplied] details that should have made it easy to find Zarqawi.” But intelligence organisations around the world have been shown to have failed to have acted promptly on tips that could have trapped terrorist cells. The level of information provided is not explained, nor is there any evidence that these approaches occurred.
In summary, if the evidence that Mr Powell presented was solid, incontrovertible, then he would have been able to supply the details needed to substantiate his claims. Soil samples could be traced and tested. Speakers overheard by electronic means could be interviewed about the real substance of conversations. Sites untouched by alleged “hiding” procedures could be identified. “Sources” could be named and cross-examined. Recordings could be translated by independent experts, and the surrounding context examined. The legitimate aims of a sovereign state threatened by overwhelming force could be acknowledged, and alternative explanations investigated before wild accusations are thrown around.
Ladies and gentleman, Mr Powell has not made his case. He says he “knows” a great many things, that he has a “thick file” about Iraq’s weapons, that many sources have given information on this or that. But there’s not enough information to see why he thinks he “knows” this – we cannot simply take this on trust.
My client’s past raises understandable concerns, concerns that require concessions not asked of other countries. But the standards of behaviour, disclosure and co-operation requested must be ones that are attainable, not impossible goals that could not be conclusively met by any level of assistance to the inspectors.
Ladies and gentlemen, I ain’t saying Mr Powell ain’t got no clothes: he’s a decent fellow and sure to cover up. But I can’t see the natty sweater he claimed to be so proud of, try as I might. And I don't think you can see it either.
Thursday, February 06, 2003
"Sure, we could get sacked. That's why we're using his computer
Lockets*. Can you risk being off sick"
* a sort of throat sweet
"ANOTHER JOKE... This one is really not a joke but a true story.
We have a saying in New York, "a conservative is a liberal who's been mugged."
When Ed Koch was mayor, he addressed a group of the faithful in some Democratic club up in the Bronx. He regaled them with a story about a famous lefty who was proud of the fact that he had been mugged, but defied the stereotype. Said lefty was still a liberal.
So this old lady stands up and shouts, "Then mug him again!"
True story. Only in New York."
The answer in the last frame is, of course, "not quite as bad as Germany"...
Wednesday, February 05, 2003
England v Italy @ TWICKENHAM STADIUM
Price Range: £40.00 - 50.00
[No, these are NOT FREE SIX NATIONS TICKETS LETTING YOU SEE ENGLAND PLAY RUGBY FOR FREE. No free England tickets here, especially not free England-France tickets. But you can buy face-value six nations tickets, for this one game, at Twickenham. Get them while I'm still trawling for hits]
Tuesday, February 04, 2003
"It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents--except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness."
--Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, Paul Clifford (1830)
(like the Gulf War game, via Memepool)
There are good reasons to worry about deflation. Falling prices per se don't mean that there's a deflationary environment, though they can be an indicator of it. If prices are falling because of huge productivity gains, that's a good thing (in effect, what's happened in electronics and automobiles over the last umpteen years). If prices are falling because firms are cutting prices because of low demand, and squeezing down wages (reducing demand...), that's the sort of environment where you're seeing deflation.
Sunday, February 02, 2003
Found via Gary Farber
"At the first World Social Forum, Lula was cheered too: not as a heroic figure who vowed to take on the forces of the market and eradicate hunger, but as an innovator whose party was at the forefront of developing tools for impoverished people to meet their own needs. ... But standing up to the demands of the international financial community isn't about whether an individual politician is trustworthy, it's about the fact that, as Lula is already proving, no person or party is strong enough on its own."
Or, perhaps, it's because once in power a touch of reality and experience affects their behaviour, and they discover that some of the policies they were proposing would have disastrous implications. Perhaps they occassionally decide not to pursue disaster?
"Right now, it looks as if Lula has only two choices: abandoning his election promises of wealth redistribution or trying to force them through and ending up in a Chavez-style civil war. But there is another option, one his own Workers party has tried before, one that made Porto Alegre itself a beacon of a new kind of politics: more democracy. He could simply refuse to play the messiah or the lone ranger, and instead hand power back to the citizens who elected him, on key issues from payment of the foreign debt, to land reform, to membership of the Free Trade Area of the Americas. There are a host of mechanisms that he could use: referendums, constituents' assemblies, networks of empowered local councils and assemblies. Choosing an alternative economic path would still spark fierce resistance, but his opponents would not have the luxury of being against Lula, as they are against Chavez, and would instead be forced to oppose the repeated and stated will of the majority - to be against democracy itself."
I'm a big fan of democracy. I'm not hugely informed about Lula's election platform, or what exactly "the people" wanted or expected from him. But I'm pretty sure that the argument for representative democracy was that "pure" democracy leads to people making decisions without enough information and without the ability to balance competing demands. If you have to vote straight in successive referendums on things you favour, you vote for both, in the hope that at least one passes, but if they're exclusive choices, due to their cost (say), then that presents a problem. Similarly, the one thing that people haven't been too keen on voting for is book-balancing, or international agreements that hurt their interests (heck, the US is condemned for skipping out on deals because they're against its national interest, but they tend to be opposed by healthy numbers of voters - ignoring the rectitude of the decisions, why's Klein in favour of it here, but, presumably, against it in the US?)
And if it's not referenda, how are local councils provide a fair judgement on free trade (say)? Is it free trade in area A, and not in area B, or is this just unworkable?
"Perhaps the reason why participatory democracy is being usurped at the World Social Forum by big men and swooning crowds is that there isn't much glory in it. To work, it requires genuine humility on the part of elected politicians. It means that a victory at the ballot box isn't a blank cheque for five years, but the beginning of an unending process of returning power to that electorate time and time again."
Why do you have to do it time and time again? Do the voters keep insisting on giving it back?
"For some, the hijacking of the World Social Forum by political parties and powerful men is proof that the movements against corporate globalisation are finally maturing and "getting serious". But is it really so mature, amidst the graveyard of failed left political projects, to believe that change will come by casting your ballot for the latest charismatic leader, then crossing your fingers and hoping for the best? Get serious."
Is it really so mature, amidst the graveyard of failed left political profjects, to believe that change will come by trusting to grass-roots implementation of the same programmes, then crossing your fingers and hoping for the best? Get serious.
"Like the admiral who gave 12 reasons for not firing a salute, the twelfth of which was that he had no powder, a certain kind of doveish commentator’s position can be summed-up thus: "I’m against war because I’m not convinced Iraq is harbouring weapons of mass destruction, but even if they are I’m against war because the UN has not authorised it, but if they do I’m against war because an invasion would prove a military fiasco, but even if it didn’t I’m against war because toppling Saddam would destabilise Iraq, but even if it didn’t I’m against war because it will antagonise moderate Arab opinion."
This will not do. It is not honest. As an avowed dove, let me warn of seven deadly pitfalls for fellow doves:
1) Don’t kid yourself that Saddam might really have nothing to hide. Of course he does. He’s a mass-murderer and an international gangster: a bad man running a wicked Goverment; the British Prime Minister and the US President are good men running good Governments.
2) Don’t hide behind the UN. The organisation may in the end be browbeaten into "authorising" an attack. If it really is your judgment that an attack would be morally wrong or practically hazardous, how could UN endorsement make it wise?
3) Don’t count on France, Germany or Russia to maintain their opposition to war. They may just be holding out for improved offers.
4) Don’t attach yourself to predictions about the military outcome. If the Pentagon thinks an invasion could easily succeed, the Pentagon may be right.
5) Don’t become an instant pundit on internal Iraqi politics, and how Shias, Kurds and Sunnis will be at each other’s throats when Saddam falls. You do not know that.
6) Don’t assume that moderate Arab opinion will be outraged. Moderate Arab opinion likes winners. America may be the winner.
7) Don’t get tangled up in conspiracy theories about oil. It is insulting to many principled and intelligent people in the British and US administrations to say that this can be understood as an oil-grabbing plot. Besides, you drive a car, don’t you? Is the security of our oil supplies not a consideration in foreign policy?
Don’t, in summary, dress up moral doubt in the garb of wordlywise punditry. Give warning, by all means, of the huge gamble that allied plans represent, but if all you are talking is the probabilities, say so, and prepare to be vindicated or mocked by the outcomes. We are very quick to aver that Tony Blair will be discredited and humiliated if the war goes wrong. Will we be discredited and humiliated if the war goes right? If the basis of our objection was that the war would fail, that should follow.
I do not think that the war, if there is a war, will fail. I can easily envisage the publication soon of some chilling facts about Saddam’s armoury, a French and German scamper back into the fold, a tough UN second resolution, a short and successful war, a handover to a better government, a discreet change of tune in the biddable part of the Arab world, and egg all over the peaceniks’ faces."
Parris has done a very good job of setting out the problems in an anti-war position, and has left himself with few grounds for assembling a clinching argument, rather than one that identifies concerns, not knock-down objections. (The omitted argument would be one based around the impact of the conflict on Iraqi civilians, though an acknowledgement that America will try to minimise this, and may succeed, could be implicit in the discussion of military success.) The poor dear doesn't leave himself much space to tell us what his own position is, so I'm afraid we're going to have to interpolate the explanation based on what he does say:
"I am not afraid that this war will fail. I am afraid that it will succeed.
I am afraid that it will prove to be the first in an indefinite series of American interventions. I am afraid that it is the beginning of a new empire: an empire that I am afraid Britain may have little choice but to join."
Obviously, a successful, cheap (in lives) war would be a terrible thing...
The first thing to note is that this objection reverses the standard line that the US shouldn't act in this case, unless it is willing to intervene in other circumstances: it's hypocritical to overthrow one tyrannical regime, but not others, and hence it's all about the oiiiilllll.
Secondly, I presume (at least, I'm going to assume) that the claim that success would lead to "an indefinite series of American interventions" is logically independent from the claim that there will be an American empire. I can't think of any historical "empires" which didn't actually rule over foreign territory, but merely "intervened" in countries with better or worse justification. The British Empire engaged in gunboat diplomacy in defence of its interests, legitimate and otherwise, and, as with Hong Kong, this could conclude with the accumulation of territory. But without getting hold of the territory, it would seem that we are faced with a very post-modern empire, one without any of the defining characteristics of empires down the ages. Prior to an Iraqi war, all of the aspects of America's relations with various countries (the overseas bases, the economic dominance, the arm-twisted treaties) are already in place, but don't justify talk of an empire. However, this brings us on to:
Thirdly, America has "intervened" in a number of countries in the recent past: Grenada, Kosovo, Bosnia, Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc, etc. Though there are still American forces in some of those countries, as well as elsewhere around the globe, there's no analogy between the relationship between America and Afghanistan in 2003 (say) and between Britain and India in 1903. America doesn't rape countries of their natural resources, as Belgium did in the Congo (other than in the normal course of business...), it doesn't demand tribute on the style of ancient Rome, it accrues few of the benefits of being an Imperial power. Why should it be assumed that a pattern streching back to the Second World War will change now.
Fourthly, why would Britain have little choice but to join a US empire? There's always the choice of falling into line with France and Germany, which will give us no risk of ever intervening anywhere for any reason, except when a former French colony is involved...
Fifthly, why would an indefinite series of interventions, not leading to an empire, be a bad thing? Let us assume that they are all against dictatorial regimes, and that America does its best to put a plausibly democratic replacement in place, and grants serious aid to the countries to get them back on their feet (a slight exaggeration of the course of events in Afghanistan, but not too much of one). Wouldn't this be a bad thing? If the standard anti-war arguments don't stand up in this instance, is there any reason to expect them to succeed against unidentified future interventions?
After all, if the objection to going to war in Iraq is not that the conflict itself would be wrong, but that it would lead to more wars in the future, surely the onus in on Parris to tell us why this is a bad thing. Those opposed to a war in Iraq on its merits can add to their arguments that other, individually bad, "interventions" will follow, but if you've not got a problem with attacking Iraq per se, then you must supply more detail. A claim that it will lead to an American empire, which would indeed be a bad thing, cannot rest on mere assertion that this is what Parris fears: the case must be argued.
One vaguely plausible objections would be that, though unlikely in each instance, disastrous worst-case scenarios become more and more likely - though Saddam may not have a nuke, unbeknowst to the US, and if he had it, might not use it, intervention in Iraq, then Iran, then North Korea, then, then, then, ups the odds of this sort of result substantially. Another, which has been argued by Fergal Keane in the Indy, is that success could lead to hubris, with America becoming progressively less likely to plan and perform wisely and thoroughly, and that this would make the world a much more dangerous place. Either of these positions could be developed into an argument that intervention in Iraq would be a bad idea, though, trading in speculation about the future rather than awkward hard facts about the present, it's unlikely to be a persuasive case. Rather like Parris's positive argument...