War is Over, If You Want It

Is the war in Iraq moving from folly to victory?

Have you heard the word? The war in Iraq is won.

Sure, we’ve heard “Mission Accomplished” before, but that was 3,699 American military deaths ago. But now, many insist, all signs are positive. The WMDs that triggered the war have been, of course, eliminated so totally that it’s almost as if they never existed at all. But that’s old news. There is fresh reason to cheer Iraqi developments, post-Petraeus surge.

From the pages of the Los Angeles Times to Fox News, from on-the-scene freelancer Michael Yon to the Wall Street Journal, facts and arguments about progress in Iraq of late paint a picture that’s no longer stained with blood and smoke stretching to endless horizons.

Al Qaedaesque insurgent action from Anbar to Basra is calming down. Sunni fighters are aiming not at U.S. troops, but at Al Qaeda troublemakers. From June to now, the military says, violence in and around Baghdad is down 59 percent; car bombs down 65 percent, with casualties from them and roadside bomb down 80 percent, and general casualties from enemy attacks in the entire nation down 77 percent.

The British Prospect recently summed up the general shape of the “Iraq is all right” story:

The country is whole. It has embraced the ballot box. It has created a fair and popular constitution. It has avoided all-out civil war. It has not been taken over by Iran. It has put an end to Kurdish and marsh Arab genocide, and anti-Shia apartheid. It has rejected mass revenge against the Sunnis. As shown in the great national votes of 2005 and the noisy celebrations of the Iraq football team's success in July, Iraq survived the Saddam Hussein era with a sense of national unity; even the Kurds—whose reluctant commitment to autonomy rather than full independence is in no danger of changing—celebrated. Iraq's condition has not caused a sectarian apocalypse across the region. The country has ceased to be a threat to the world or its region.

Not everyone is convinced that the Mighty Petraeus’ surge has succeeded, or is succeeding, or is at least bound to succeed any time soon—as Iraq is still a place in which “soldiers kill gunmen” and roadside bomb and mortar deaths are still mostly daily occurrences. Recent downturns in the violent mortality rate in Iraq have after all merely brought us back to late 2005 levels of carnage, back when a majority of Americans had already decided, mostly because of that ongoing carnage, that the war wasn’t worth fighting. Improvements in Anbar seem to be leading to deterioration in Ninevah, and, as Daniel Larison argues

every time we have been told that there has been progress in Iraq, some other part of Iraq has soon enough started going to hell after one part had seen a modicum of order restored. This is not a coincidence, and we have seen the same pattern since the first battle of Fallujah: success in one place simply pushes insurgents and bombers to some other part of the country, where they begin their attacks anew.

Other bad news possibilities: Turkey’s recent incursions into Iraqi Kurdish territory promise a whole new level of chaos. And a resurgent Iraqi nationalism, even if it doesn’t manifest itself in multiple daily bombings, could threaten U.S. goals down the line.

As we’ve learned in the years since hearts and flowers morphed before our horrified eyes into IEDs and mortars, there’s a great deal that can still go screwy in Iraq. Still, the trends are encouraging, and might have powerful and as yet unconsidered effects of American politics in 2008—and on U.S. foreign policy down the line.

The Iraq war is the American voters’ greatest concern when polled, and a majority of Americans have long been unhappy with how it is going. Still, even after their supposedly war-driven victories in 2006, most of the Democratic Party’s presidential frontrunners seem satisfied with a very, very slow wind-down that might not even be done by the end of their term. Congressional Democrats continue so far to fund the war. American politics seems less than responsive to this supposedly singular antiwar feeling of the people.

Just as public perception of whether the war was worth it didn’t shift toward “no” until May 2004—the first month U.S. troop deaths broke 100 in a month—a continuing decline in Iraq violence seems likely to calm down American dudgeon over a war that, after all, in a draftless world, most of us are affected by only as tragic TV entertainment. It could well be the standard accepted opinion a year from now that Iraq, while perhaps not always managed best every step of the way, has turned out well enough in the end, or so far.

Time can make every war seem like a good idea, or at least like not an obviously bad one. The progress of civilization being what it is, and people’s ability to gin up strong feelings about events far away in space and time being what they are, it can all start to seem For the Best. Some wicked regime gone (and don’t suggest they would ever have gone away without being conquered! Except for maybe Soviet Russia, but….), new buildings built, the dead largely forgotten.

Of course, such judgments depend on when you look. U.S. meddling in Iranian affairs seemed like a good idea to most until 1979; and Iraq today, or tomorrow, may seem like a victory until someone radicalized by the invasion and occupation dirty bombs New York in 2020.

After all, we can be pretty confident, barring eco-catastrophe or full-on nuclear World War III, that things will, someday, be better in Iraq—on the whole, for most people—than they are now, than they were in 2004, or than they were under Saddam.

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  • iowan||

    Cue joe; cue John; repeat

  • ||

    I've been saying that for a long time.

    WE WON THE WAR!

    Now let's come home.

    What we are doing now is nation building.
    Someone could have supported a war
    with Iraq to get rid of Saddam and
    remove the threat of WMD and STILL
    want to come home now. Nation building
    has never worked well.

  • ||

    I have read reports that the U.S. soldiers are so tired, they are not going out on patrols much any longer but just hunkering down. The violence is declining for a simple reason; the Americans against whom the violence is directed are staying home. All we have to do is leave, and the Iraqis will do fine without us.

  • Tacos mmm...||

    Douglas,

    Other people have pointed out that with the surge, we've had more airstrikes so far this year than in the previous two years combined. The use of airpower as opposed to ground forces has probably contributed to the drop in recent casualty rates, but with a concomitant rise in Iraqi civilian casualties.

  • ||

    Might some long-term good occur out of this?

    Uh, I kind of really doubt it a whole lot. But I've been wrong before.

    Iraq used to be the regional counter weight to Iran. Now there is no one but the US to fill those shoes. So what, are we going to end up moving our troops from S Korea to Kuwait? So we can make sure Iran doesn't just waltz in and aquire Saudi Arabia?

    The US will not let that happen, I suspect. Our president will intervene. Europe might even get on board that one.

    Oddly enough, it is entirely possible that Iraq really has served as a lightening rod, and kept suicide bombers there instead of them coming to the US. But a) who knows if that's really true, nobody will ever know, and b) in retrospect was it worth the cost? Again nobody knows.

    Iraq cost: $ several trillion, and several thousand troops.

    Alternately, Cost ofHypothetical Suicide Bombers In US: the rest of our civil liberties?

    Who the hell knows. The politicians will spin it all any way they want.

    But in fact I doubt things over there are going to stay "calmed down" for the long haul. Unless Iran gets really clever and stops stirring the pot, so the US leaves, so that IIran can then come back and do what they wanted to do in the first place.

  • ||

    Any discussion of whether or not "we're winning" must include something about the scores of Iraqi civilians who either were killed or induced to leave.

    We go stir-crazy on the airstrikes (leaving huge holes in the ground where people's houses used to stand), the former residents either flee or join AlQaeda, the ones who do the latter are killed in more airstrikes, thus perpetuating the cycle, and that's a victory just because troop casualties go down or even out?

  • ed||

    "Anti-warriors are sometimes accused of wanting the U.S. to lose in Iraq,
    just so they can be right."


    Yeah, but there's more to it than that. I think the need to justify their blind hatred toward Republicans in general and the president in particular plays into it as well. Not that they don't support the troops, of course. But Iraq was a godsend to Gore- then Kerry-supporters who felt abused by two devastatingly close elections. In that regard their distain for the war is almost paradoxical. Would the left have captured Congress without it? Would so many people still believe Clinton's wife could be President? The left owes a lot to the Iraq war.

  • ||

    Nobody wins in Iraq until Iraq props up a good, respectable government.

    And WE are going to be their teachers?

    Uh ha! Uh ha ha ha HA HA HA HA ........ [fell out of chair, broke jaw on floor]

  • ||

    Please! Please! This is supposed to be a happy occasion! Let's not bicker and argue about who killed who.

  • ||

    This whole debate really has become ridiculous. There is no one who can actually prove what is, or what is not, happening in Iraq, good or bad. Because no one has yet to determine a way that you can track the progress of this type of conflict.

    Some use body count, some how many schools we painted, others seem to use how many headlines are in the news about it. None of them seem to be a very good indicator of really anything. Until someone can figure out how to measure this nonsense (say in the same way conventional war uses moving lines of battle) no one's going budge from what they themselves believe is real, right or wrong.

  • ||

    I'll let the foolish comparison to the Soviet Union slide, and point out the "nation building" roversaur mentions is an effort to prevent that victory you all acknowledge from dissipating. Our guys needed to be there as a stabilizer to keep the place from relapsing. Whether or not the whole endeavor was worthwhile is another discussion, but it's sad that people are still pushing for a cut and run.
    Granted, the only 'nation building' we need is globalization and the introduction of free market concepts. That's not to say we should build mini-malls and force them to read Ayn Rand (while a good suggestion), but rather point out to them the levels of prosperity available to all, with simple rational self-interest

  • VM||

    ProGLib has HUUUUGGGEEE tracts of land!

  • shecky||

    Has anyone ever defined what would constitute a win?

  • Scooby||

    Any reason why it can't be considered folly, even if we do end up with something resembling "victory" (i.e., relatively pacified, elected gov't at least as stable as those of its neighbors, self-sufficient, etc.)?

  • VMiokoisneg||

    sure. like. not losing. duh. c'mon. like. c'mon. man. um. yeah. that's how.

  • ||

    Has anyone ever defined what would constitute a win?

    How about "cheap oil"? At least there'd be a tangible mark.

  • Ryo||

    Has anyone ever defined what would constitute a win?

    Not leaving until the sun burns out.

  • Episiarch||

    Pain has it right. Iraq is such a huge, emotional issue for so many people, and so difficult to get information on, that people are going to believe whatever they feel like.

    Do we want "success" in Iraq, where people are free to live their lives without being blown up, have a reasonable government, and so on? Yes. Do we want our government to say "hey, that atticking countries thing worked, so let's do it more"? Absolutely not.

    If we hadn't gotten involved in the first place, then this situation wouldn't be happening, and there wouldn't be a danger of positive reinforcement to the hawks. That's why opposition to anything but purely defensive war is so important.

  • ||

    I opposed the war for strategic considerations, among others. Strategically, for instance, I had concerns that large portions of Iraq might fall under the influence of Iran, a true state sponsor of terrorism with a WMD program.

    It would seem my worst fears in that department were realized--a large portion of Iraq is policed and dominated by radical pro-Iranian militias, the largest of which is financed directly by Iran. Indeed, the political wing of one of those pro-Iranian factions dominates what passes for democratic government in Iraq. ...but other than that, and several more where that came from, things are just peachy, I'm sure.

    I guess it depends on what you measure by. The number of suicide bombings per month? If you judge by whether we toppled Saddam Hussein, then, yes, the Iraq war was a stunning success. If you judge by the spreading of freedom, I've got some quibbles--it would appear that the people of Iraq now enjoy less freedom than their counterparts in Iran, for instance. If you judge by the strategic considerations, I have more quibbles still--I don't see how putting Iranian militias on the border of some of Saudi Arabia's most rich, oil producing provinces could possibly be in our best interest strategically.

    ...but, hey, maybe I'm just a glass half empty kinda guy?*

    *Actually, I'm not.

  • ||

    BUSH FREEDOM FETISH

    Bush sees Iran as much a threat to blocking victory in Iraq as it is a trumped up nuclear threat ... all those Mullah minions crashing his party ... he'll start that war just to save face in the first one ...

    Notice how he chided the Cubans the other day to rise up against Castro and Raoul, speaking separately to civilians and then soldiers-government.

    Never mind how many citizens would end up killed, the few left living and out of prison would be free, worth it to Bush if they all died ... they tried, and God said they're free, so there.

    Bush speaks the same way to Iranians, intentionally infuriating the government and then soliciting its citizens to commit assisted suicide ... along the lines of what Bush Senior did to abandoned Iraqis in Desert Storm.

    While the U.S. embargos Cuba and drives it to trade with China, Bush can't explain why China itself is not embargoed for the same reason.

    The most powerful man in the world cannot engage in abstract critical thought beyond simple dichotomies, doesn't read and gets most information about the world around him in person.

    He already knew something "bad" was going to happen, which is why God made him president. He already knows the war will be won. He already knows in general ... so everything is either obvious or superfalous ... no point in asking any questions that already have answers.

  • ||

    What you can be sure of those is that our government will lie to the public about what is happening in Iraq.The first casualty of war is truth always has been and always will be.

    There is no way that you can perform aerial bombing on a city that once had a population of 7 million people without a lot of civilian casualities. My problem with the pro-war crowd is that it appears to be acceptable to them that tens of thousands of iraqis be killed in order to keep our soldiers safe. Frankly that is bullshit Iraqis are human too our media tends to sugarcoat that by talking about collateral damage(husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, etc humanity just like you and I). Just because they are Iraqis doesn't mean it should be OK to bomb them they are as human as you and I.

  • ||

    "Notice how he chided the Cubans the other day to rise up against Castro and Raoul, speaking separately to civilians and then soldiers-government."

    I wonder if Cuba is on the neocons' list for overthrow.

  • ||

    From an editorial cartoon in the October 25th Honolulu Advertiser:

    Picture of donkeys in suits, with a lapel button saying "Dems" -- "The President bullied us on his surveillance powers and on SCHIP. Now he wants another $46 billion for Iraq. I say no more! It's time for us to stand up and pretend to fight back harder than we've ever pretended before."

  • Les||

    Whether or not we stay or leave should be as simple as a referendum put to the Iraqi people.

  • ||

    "My problem with the pro-war crowd is that it appears to be acceptable to them that tens of thousands of iraqis be killed in order to keep our soldiers safe."

    The same type of reasoning was used when Nagasaki and Hiroshima were nuked. The government said it was necessary to save our soldiers. Just as Bush and the neocons seem to not care about the lives of brown people in the Middle East, Truman didn't care anything about yellow people. In fact, he called them yellow puke.

  • Lord Jubjub||

    The invasion starts the day after Castro dies.

  • ||

    Lord Jubjub - Go Buck yourself.

  • ||

    If it means letting the neocons declare victory and bring the troops home, I'm all for it.

    As long as they bring the troops home.

  • Fluffy||

    Right Snake, but at least at the moment the a-bombs fell, Japan was actually our enemy, and had troops in the field opposing us, supported by their civilian population industrially and logistically.

    When we bomb Iraqi cities, we are bombing the cities of an ally/puppet. We're not in "unconditional surrender" territory now. We're in "we have to destroy this village to save it" territory.

    I'm suspending judgment on the surge. I hope it's working, but right before the civilian casualty numbers started to improve, the Iraqi government announced drastic changes to the rules to media access to bombing scenes and to sites marked by sectarian violence. The whole "New media rules - Voila! Fewer casualties!" thing disturbs me a little.

  • ||

    Does anyone see the irony in Bush talking about Cuba's lack of democracy while trying to put the US on the fast track to fascism. The PATRIOT Act is an abomination and we should kick all the politicians that voted for it out of the country let them go to Russia or China where that kind of think would fit perfectly.

    Concerning Iran the media is turning them into this big bad monster here is a little perspective from Newsweek:

    "The American discussion about Iran has lost all connection to reality. Norman Podhoretz, the neoconservative ideologist whom Bush has consulted on this topic, has written that Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is "like Hitler … a revolutionary whose objective is to overturn the going international system and to replace it in the fullness of time with a new order dominated by Iran and ruled by the religio-political culture of Islamofascism." For this staggering proposition Podhoretz provides not a scintilla of evidence.

    Here is the reality. Iran has an economy the size of Finland's and an annual defense budget of around $4.8 billion. It has not invaded a country since the late 18th century. The United States has a GDP that is 68 times larger and defense expenditures that are 110 times greater. Israel and every Arab country (except Syria and Iraq) are quietly or actively allied against Iran. And yet we are to believe that Tehran is about to overturn the international system and replace it with an Islamo-fascist order? What planet are we on?

    When the relatively moderate Mohammed Khatami was elected president in Iran, American conservatives pointed out that he was just a figurehead. Real power, they said (correctly), especially control of the military and police, was wielded by the unelected "Supreme Leader," Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Now that Ahmadinejad is president, they claim his finger is on the button. (Oh wait, Iran doesn't have a nuclear button yet and won't for at least three to eight years, according to the CIA, by which point Ahmadinejad may not be president anymore. But these are just facts.)"

    It amazes me how many "serious" people really believe the garbage about Iran. Bush and crew is setting us up again.

  • ||

    Now Finland and Iran that might be a fair fight

  • ||

    Iraq will never succeed as long as it is a puppet of the United States and if it isn't a puppet of the United States, we will not leave. So sorry Iraqis, your deaths mean nothing to the U.S. govt,(and I don't support it but)we are conquerers, not liberators.

  • ed||

    This thread is missing some really righteous indignation,
    not to mention vituperation and vitriol.
    Where the hell is joe?

  • ||

    I'm anti-war. It is the health of the state. Under cover of war our government steals our liberty. Surge, smurge, death and destruction is all wars can ever be good for. We are winning in Iraq if you think hired mercenaries killing Iraqi citizens at will is winning, or no-bid contracts to reconstruct Iraq being awarded to companies that have point men in the government. Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.

  • ||

    Capital James Iraq isn't suppose to succeed just enrich those industries that benefit from war.

  • ||

    This is supposed to be a happy occasion! Let's not bicker and argue about who killed who.

    That would be who killed whom.

  • ||

    Actually, it would be 'oo killed 'oom. I lifted the text from one of the Holy Grail scripts drifting about the Intertubes.

  • ||

    It seems quaint to remind people that the war is about natural resources, but then again we live in a country filled with many people who still think Saddam was involved in 9/11...they are called Bush-Americans...and they are an albatross around the neck of this country.

  • ||

    Iraq will be rememberd in history(at least to the Iraqi people)as a mass slaughter.

  • Episiarch||

    Where the hell is joe?

    Yeah, I was looking forward to him only blaming the GOP for all this and completely exonerating the Dems.

  • ||

    I say the war ended with the capture of Saddam. It's been a policing action ever since.

  • ||

    """Iraq will be rememberd in history(at least to the Iraqi people)as a mass slaughter."""

    From Saddam, then that ally of Saddam?

  • ||

    Guess I meant to say that the Iraq "War" will be remembered as a mass slaughter. Isn't is always bizarre when a pro-war person will justify the Iraq Invasion because Saddam was torturing and killing his people? As opposed to us?

  • Franklin Harris||

    Please! Please! This is supposed to be a happy occasion! Let's not bicker and argue about who killed who.



    When I first came here, this was all desert. Everyone said I was daft to build a government in a desert, but I built in all the same, just to show them. It sank into the desert. So I built a second one. That sank into the desert. So I built a third. That burned down, fell over, then sank into the desert. But the fourth one stayed up. And that's what you're going to get, Lad, the strongest government in all of the Middle East.

  • Bobby||

    "but then again we live in a country filled with many people who still think Saddam was involved in 9/11...they are called Bush-Americans...and they are an albatross around the neck of this country."

    There have been a number of pieces written that show links between Saddam and 9/11. In fact, the ISG mentioned them. However, since they don't fit your narrative, they don't count.

  • Minion of URKOBOLD||

    BOBBY CAN'T COUNT TO 21 UNLESS HE'S NAKED.

    AND THERE HAVE BEEN A NUMBER OF PIECES WRITTEN THAT SHOW HE'S A TWADDLENOCK.

    SINCE HE DOESN'T BELIEVE IN THE FIRST PERSON OMNISCIENT NARRATOR, THEY DON'T COUNT.

  • ||

    Bobby,
    Linky-link?

  • ||

    If my previos past causes Bobby to provide a link, and you vivit said link, please don't blame me if it's a nut-job website.

  • ||

    J sub D

    Wanna bet that some of Bobby's links include "9/11-truthers"?

  • ||

    Minion of Urkbold that last thread was spot on

  • The bus driver in question||

    Brian could be right, but we need to remember in a few months we will be forced to draw down our troop levels (unless we go to a draft in the next few weeks). No political progress had been made. On the other hand most of the violence is sectarian and the neighborhoods are pretty segregated. Oddly enough this is probably the best situation AL Queda could have hopped for.

  • the innominate one||

    minion:

    I'm afraid you're mistaken. When naked, Bobby can only count to twenty and one-quarter. Report for a taint withering.

    I just opened the ISG report and searched the report's text for:

    "september 11"- no hits
    "9/11"- two hits, one referring to the 9/11 commission, the other to a book title.
    "Laden"-one hit, explaining who Ayman al-Zawahiri is affiliated with

  • ||

    Yeah Sadaam was involved in 9/11 and if you ask nicely I'll tell you where Jimmy Hoffa is buried and where you can find the Holy Grail.

  • ||

    "Yeah, I was looking forward to him only blaming the GOP for all this and completely exonerating the Dems."

    Episarich-don't be such a tool. I've had plenty of disagreements with joe but
    1. just the other day he brought up how Edwards/Lieberman pushed so hard for the Iraq war (he knows they were Dem leaders)
    2. and besides, this mess is the GOP's baby. Even in a time of war hysteria a majority of Dems in the House voted AGAINST the AUMF and half of the Dems in the Senate. In fact the ONLY opposition was from the Democratic Party.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Authorization_for_Use_of_Military_Force_Against_Iraq_Resolution_of_2002

    If this were a tort case in a state that had comparative negligence we would hold the GOP 90% responsible for this sick puppy and the Dems 10%.

  • ||

    The Dems could end the war if the had cajones. Cut the funding and they will be forced to bring the troops home.

  • ||

    "The Dems could end the war if the had cajones. Cut the funding and they will be forced to bring the troops home." James, I agree that they should try this, but I'm sure you aware of another party, one with practically half of the votes in the Senate and media minions, which would blast them for "abandoning our troops in harms way" right? That same party voted overwhelmingly (almost unanimously) to back the war, that same party had the President who pushed for it and the pundits who sold it, and the people who will not let a timetable or negative reolution pass (they vote as a block to filibuster it). It strikes me that common sense would say that this is their f*ck-up

  • ||

    What gets me in the whole meme of "the Dems are as responsible for the GOP for this war" is how it not only ignores past facts, but even PRESENT ones. Look at the GOP frontrunners, they still celebrate the decision to go to war. The Dem frontrunners all say it was a mistake. Sure, the Dem frontrunners are a bunch of lying backbone-less, but they realize that their party never liked the way while the GOP liked it back then, and actually, amazingly, still does now!

  • ||

    Sometimes you just have to do the right thing Mr Nice Guy. Lives are being lost because the Dems are worried about scoring political points instead of the immorality of the war. Frankly I'm disgusted with them and the mindless Bush supporters absolutely disgusted.

  • ||

    I believe blame can be split right down the middle. They are playing politics with our soldiers lives and the lives of the Iraqis its fucked up man

  • ||

    Wanna bet that some of Bobby's links include "9/11-truthers"?

    No. I don't do three card monte either.

  • ||

    Yeah Sadaam was involved in 9/11 and if you ask nicely I'll tell you where Jimmy Hoffa is buried and where you can find the Holy Grail.

    Dunno about the Holy Grail, But they found Jimmy Hoffa. In the yellow pages under cement.

  • ||

    "The Chad" says

    I'll [...] point out the "nation building" roversaur mentions is an effort to prevent that victory you all acknowledge from dissipating. Our guys needed to be there as a stabilizer to keep the place from relapsing. Whether or not the whole endeavor was worthwhile is another discussion, but it's sad that people are still pushing for a cut and run.

    We won a long time ago.
    Saddam is dead. The WMD have been neutralized.
    We won. Let's go home.

    Or was the real intent of going in to Iraq
    an effort to "nation build"? In other
    words, Bush lied when he said the war was
    about WMD?

  • Clarence||

    Can you fly, Bobby?

  • DannyK||

    It's a great idea. The Dems should pass a bill calling for 50 million $ to pay for a massive ticket tape parade and victory celebration for all of our brave troops who won the war in Iraq.

    Then the Repubs will be stuck, because how do you vote against a patriotic parade?

    And we can let all the troops come home for the parade, too.

    It's so crazy... it just might work!

  • ed||

    Paging joe....

    joe, please come to the lobby.

    joe, you have a call on line 1.

    joe?

  • herodotus||

    War can not be won.

    Iraqi's have mommies too.

    Bush just did it all to make money for his friends.

    Saddam Hussein wasn't all that bad compared to the evil Israelis.

    Pro-war people are stupid stupid stupid stupid stupid stupid!!!

  • crepe maker||

    joe seems to have been replaced by james, who is not nearly as interesting.

  • ||

    herodotus,

    Do you sometimes hear voices?

  • ||

    I was at least a tad uneasy about the invasion of Iraq as it looked to me as a way for G.W.B. to finish what his dad had started in '91 namely to get rid of Saddam and make-up for the decade of ineffectual sanctions that was being ignored by France, Russia ect. Now not only do I believe that the current "liberation" of Iraq was overall wrong but I have come around to the belief that these U.S. of A. should get our troops out of N.A.T.O., Japan and even South Korea. I really think that the U.S. is an imperial-republic. That is imperial foreign policy with replican domestic policy at least for now. I don't pretend to be a pacifist. I just think that the U.S. has no business having troops stationed world-wide. So yes it is time to bring our troops and equipment home not just from Iraq but from everywhere.

  • ||

    It seems quaint to remind people that the war is about natural resources

    At this point, I wish you were right about that. But it's clear from the cluster f*** that we were never serious about the oil.

    But now that Iraq isn't around to counter balance Iran, it could become an issue about oil. Not that I want us staying in Iraq, but now that we've created this little fiasco -- letting Iran waltz down in Saudi Arabia may not be the best idea.

    The only thing Bush was ever clearly serious about was smacking down Saddam. And lots of intel said Saddam probably had something going on, but the details were kinda pretty fuzzy and all.

    Beyond Bush wanting to smack down Saddam, absolutely nothing is clear about why we did it. And it's not clear how or when we're going to get out.

  • Julian Fountain||

    Prospect? Who reads it that?

  • rick wyckoff||

    I think Doherty asks the wrong question in the end. The right question before going to war is whether it is the best available alternative - or put another way, will we suffer more from going to war or from not going to war?

  • ||

    It is now safer to walk through the streets of Fallujah at night than to walk through the street of New York City.

    What this all shows is that there was NEVER a Civil War in the first place. Studies have shown that 85% of all suicide bombers were NOT Iraqi Nationals.

    The "fake" civil war was just trouble being stirred up by foreign Al Qaeda interlopers. Now that they have been beaten back, guess what? No more civil war.

    There are many SCARY POINTS about this war, but what is the SCARIEST?

    The SCARIEST is that in the USA, the leadership of the Democratic Party is actually unhappy things are going so well. Just this week, despite all evidence to the contrary, Harry Reid declared on the floor of the Senate that Iraq is a disaster and the Surge is a failure.

    That's scary.

  • Minion of URKOBOLD||

    NO, BILLY. THE SCARIEST THING IS YOUR FOOD COURT. AND ACCESS FROM I-94. THAT'S SCARY.

  • ||

    "Anti-warriors are sometimes accused of wanting the U.S. to lose in Iraq, just so they can be right. Not so."

    Actually, so. At least in the sense of wanting the US to lose in Iraq.

    A recent survey showed 20% of Democrats think the world would be a better place if the US lost in Iraq. I suppose that's a nobler reason than just wanting to be right.

  • Minion of URKOBOLD||

    AND WE LOOK UPON YOUR WORKS AND GIGGLE.

  • ||

    The fact that international jihadists are flocking to Iraq, only to be blown away by their Sunni brothers, tells me the whole plan was a huge success. I can only hope that the fundamentalist bastards who would just as soon kill themselves to hurt an American, will continue to jump into the meat grinder over there. If someone can come up with a better plan to reduce the number of the world's most dangerous fanatics, let's hear it.

  • ||

    "I think Doherty asks the wrong question in the end. The right question before going to war is whether it is the best available alternative - or put another way, will we suffer more from going to war or from not going to war?

    I think the question you're referring to is:

    The real question before a war needs to be: "is this absolutely necessary given a fair consideration of the horrors and unpredictability of war and the purpose of the U.S. military?"

    I'd argue that the very least, the threshold should be, "Will the likely benefits outweigh the costs?"

    In a war of self-defense, I would argue, that the likely benefits always outweigh the costs--most Americans see it that way. That's why the war was sold to us as a war of self-defense. Initially, it was about Hussein's support of terrorism, and it was about Hussein's alleged weapons programs. I would argue that a war of preemption, by the way, is also a war of self-defense; however, there was no Saddam Hussein era attack on the United States that was preempted by our invasion of Iraq. ...there was nothing preemptive about it.

    I remember the pipe dreams about Reverse Domino Theory or democracy as contagion or whatever you want to call it being sold as a function of self-defense.

    I heard that we were maintaining the occupation because drawing jihadi terrorists to Iraq meant that we were fighting them over there rather than over here. ...again it's all couched in terms of self-defense. I never bought the suggestion that jihadi terrorists are now somehow distracted from their real objective--murdering Americans here in the homeland--all because we're occupying Iraq, but even if you do...

    If we're going to talk about "best alternatives", how does having a coalition of our allies enforcing a no-fly zone stack up against Iraq in the state it is today?

    If there was any legitimate WMD found in Iraq, it posed little or no threat to the people of the United States.

    If there was a terrorist presence in Iraq that posed a threat to the people of the United States before the invasion, it was nothing compared to the anti-American, terrorist threat we've unleashed now.

    We were going to bring freedom to the people of Iraq and it was going to be contagious--in their regular day to day lives, the people of IRAN seem to have more in the way of personal freedom than the people of Iraq.

    The al Sadr faction, among the biggest threats to the Iraqi government, is itself a part of the Iraqi government. ...indeed, the democratically elected government we're championing seems to be comprised, primarily, of Islamic fundamentalist militias, financed directly by our sworn enemy, a state sponsor of terror with a nuclear weapons program.

    So... While it might be possible to argue that there was no way anyone could have known when we started this little adventure, that we'd end up here--I'd advise arguing that around here. There are just too many of us who argued that this is exactly where we were going to end up and that that was why we shouldn't have invaded. Well that's all spilt milk now, but surely we can look back and make some kid of judgement on the "alternatives".

    ...and somebody please explain it to me--this is better than what, exactly?

  • ||

    "While it might be possible to argue that there was no way anyone could have known when we started this little adventure, that we'd end up here--I'd advise arguing that around here."

    Should read, "While it might be possible to argue that there was no way anyone could have known when we started this little adventure, that we'd end up here--I'd advise [against] arguing that around here."

    ...but then you probably knew that.

  • ||

    Although war is hell and nation building is worse, nation building has often worked out well for the world. It was a tremendous success in Germany, Japan, Italy, and South Korea. It fact the only seems to have failed when we have given up, as in South Vietnam.

    People will be arguing over whether it was a good idea to depose Saddam for years. I may well be years before we know if it was worth it.

  • ||

    Doherty, and several commenters, make the assumption that supporting a slow and cautious withdrawal, rather than a fast one with a hard deadline, is an indication of faith that things are going well.

    In reality, it's an indication of awareness of just how dangerous the situation is. When a patient gets brought into the emergency room impales on fence post, the doctors don't just yank it out. They extraction is done very, very carefully. Does that demonstrate that doctors think it is helpful and healthy to impale people on fence posts? No, it shows that they are aware of the need for caution and deliberateness, to make sure the patient doesn't bleed to death.

  • ||

    Getting back to the definition of success and the reason for the war, let's keep in mind Anbar Province.

    In 2003, the a coalition of Anbar sheiks approached the US CPA and offered to form an alliance with them. The American said, to quote Paul Bremer, "There is no place for (tribal sheiks) in the New Iraq." We were going to create a New Iraq, a liberal democratic ally that would inspire reform throughout the Middle East, remember? That was victory. Older, existing, indigenous political structure like tribal governments had not place in that visions. This was a revolutionary endevor, meant to reconstruct Iraqi politics from the ground up, and the sheiks in Anbar were seen as the enemy of that vision. And so they literally became the enemy, and we went to war against them.

    Four years later, we've accepted their terms. We're allying with them, and using our resources, both military and nation-building, to maintain and extand their authority. This is not victory, this is containing the damage. The hawks have redefined victory from their neo-conservative vision to a more Kerry-esque, realist vision of keeping the whole thing from collapsing into a Hobbesian nightmare through a combination of providing security and making political deals with power centers in and around Iraq. The initial victory conditions have not only not been achieved, their pursuit has been completely abandoned.

    Now that they've given up on the actual purpose of this war - the spread of Democracy throughout the Middle East through the use of American military force - the war's supporters are defining victory in terms of stability. We're seen some progress on that front in term so short-term security improvements - tactical battlefiend accomplishments achieved by the uniformed military - but the underlying political development that was the stated purpose of the surge has made little or no progress, while the status of our forces has made it impossible to sustain the military operations that have produced the short-term security.

    I don't think the end-zone dances we're seeing from the hawks are any more justified now than they were on Flight Suit Day, Capture Saddam Day, Purple Finger Day, Captured Falluja Day, or any of the other supposed corner-turnings they've haralded over the years. It's just a downtick in the enemy's operations, brought about by a surge we knew we could't sustain, that hasn't changed the underlying dynamics.

  • ||

    The Effort to Remove Saddam was worth it! Unless you want a nuclear middle-east and all that entails, there is no question about that.

    Imagine the current Iranian policy with Saddam still in power. There would currently be a nuclear race in the middle east with all countries participating. Would we bomb them all? Of course not! The policy that was pursued was the right one. History will prove it right.

    What is totally disengenious about the original artical (and the posts), is that it fails to mention that a majority of Dems actually voted FOR the war (I suppose before they voted againstt it).

    If you are have been consistently anti-war, then I respect you and I respect your opinion. If you - like Hillary - voted for the war and then advocate running and abandoning our allies as soon as things get tough, then you are a spineless hypocrite.

  • ||

    As most people now admit, Stevend, Saddam Husseein was not playing the nuclear game, because his regime had been rendered utterly incapable of doing so.

    How long would the Lion of Mesopotamia have lasted if the inspection teams, backed up by American military units, were poking into every corner of his closets, and announcing that he didn't actually have any WMD aresenal?

    Hey, look, no nuclear program, but here's his collection of sci-fi painings of nekkid women.

    What is totally disengenious about the original artical (and the posts), is that it fails to mention that a majority of Dems actually voted FOR the war Um, no. Congressional Democrats voted against the AUMF by a 58%-42% margin. It's really not that hard to look these things up.

  • ||

    "Imagine the current Iranian policy with Saddam still in power. There would currently be a nuclear race in the middle east with all countries participating. Would we bomb them all? Of course not!"

    If Iran develops nuclear weapons, Saudi Arabia will almost certainly follow. ...and one of the reasons we're so limited in what we can do about Iran is because we're sitting on top of a powder keg, and they've got the detonator.

    "The policy that was pursued was the right one. History will prove it right."

    Historical determinism via time travel! Wow.

    "What is totally disengenious about the original artical (and the posts), is that it fails to mention that a majority of Dems actually voted FOR the war (I suppose before they voted againstt it)."

    Again, people seem to think that being against the war is about party identity--as if the question of whether the invasion and occupation were a success or failure ultimately boiled down to the personal qualities of George W. Bush.

    I understand Moonies think in this way. Not everything has to do with Republicans and Democrats. Not everything is about George W. Bush.

    "If you are have been consistently anti-war, then I respect you and I respect your opinion. If you - like Hillary - voted for the war and then advocate running and abandoning our allies as soon as things get tough, then you are a spineless hypocrite."

    The American people thought this was a war of self-defense--that turned out not to be the case. Support for the war in Afghanistan remains high, I think because it's seen as a war of self-defense.

    Blaming people for changing their mind about supporting the war after finding out that it wasn't a war of self-defense is like blaming the victims of fraud for being bamboozled.

    When I gave that bum at the highway entrance some money, I thought he was going to use it to buy food. If I find out he was just buyin' booze with it, I'm not givin' him any more money. ...I just don't feel the same way anymore.

  • iih||

    Does anyone really believe that if Iraq is pacified then US out? As long as Iran sits next to Iraq, there will always be enough reason to maintain a protracted and significant troop presence in Iraq (a la DMZ). The only way that would end is if Iran moves out of the region.

  • ||

    "If Iran develops nuclear weapons, Saudi Arabia will almost certainly follow. ...and one of the reasons we're so limited in what we can do about Iran is because we're sitting on top of a powder keg, and they've got the detonator."

    Just to be clear...

    Yes, I'm saying Iran wouldn't feel so free to flaunt its nuclear program if we weren't dangling our soft, exposed underbelly in its face.

    ...and just to be clear to Stevend, that has nothing to do with how Hillary Clinton voted on the Patriot Act.

  • ||

    iih,

    Follow the money - specifically, the money for the military bases. The Bushies have been spending $billions to build a series of permanent bases across the country to support a large, long-term U.S. troop presence. This was part of the original plan.

    FWIW, every Democratic candidate has declared that we need to renounce these bases. Hillary, Biden, and Kucinich have sponsored or supported bills that would forbid the use of taxpayer dollars to fund their construction.

    On the Republican side, only Paul has denounced this construction, while all of the candidates serving in Congress have voted to build the bases.

  • ||

    It seems to me that the war is now being fought to ward off a certain set of threats - the threat of a civil war that will draw in neighbors and split Iraq; the threat of al Qaeda establishing bases of operation in the Sunni triangle or Baghdad, comparable to what they had in Afghanistan prior to 9/11; the threat of Iran expanding its hegemony across the Middle East.

    Each of these threats 1) is more serious than those threats we went to war to pre-empt, and 2) came into being as the consequence of the war itself. Those initial threats, once again, being the Iraqi WMD program, and the Saddam regime providing aid to al Qaeda. Neither of which actually existed.

  • free from delusion||

    Libertarians have many valuable things to say about preserving personal freedoms.

    Brian Doherty, however, provides additional support that the libertarian world-view is unfortunately detached from reality.

  • iih||

    joe:

    I still think that the US should not leave unless Iran entirely moves out of the region ;-)

    But seriously, condemn as much as they would neither Dems nor Republicans (who aren't condemning the bases anyhow), one should never ever take their pronouncements seriously or literally. Haven't people learned already? "Saying" is one thing, but having the credibility is another. None of the candidates has any credibility.

    The only reason one would believe Paul is that he has the voting record. The fact that he is always unhinged and not PC is good enough reason to believe this man.

  • ||

    iih, joe, et. al.

    I imagine something like Subic Bay was or maybe Guantanamo Bay Naval Base would be a better example.

    I'm not familiar with the plans for these facilities or their locations but long term plans don't necessarily mean a long term occupation. ...certainly a long term presence.

    We may have the capability to strike from Guantanamo, but we're not occupying Cuba. Cuba isn't under American occupied, martial law. Know what I mean?

  • ||

    Ken,

    I understand exactly. Long-term presence is the plan. If we can get a stable and effective client state in place, great. If not, then we continue the occupation/counter-insurgency. That's the plan, anyway.

  • iih||

    Ken,

    I imagine something like Subic Bay was or maybe Guantanamo Bay Naval Base would be a better example.

    And not a greater, longer term presence as with the DMZ? I do not think that it will merely be a few big bases here and there. Remember Cuba today is not the same as Iran. The only way to stop having a DMZ type presence, is that the Iranian regime is replaced, which sems to be what the neocons want anyways. They'' promise the American people to leave if they (The American people) allow them to bomb Iran and get over with it.

  • ||

    true state sponsor of terrorism with a WMD program.


    Saw Hans Blix on Charlie Rose the other day.
    His take on this was interesting. He seemed to think that Iran was clearly very, very tentative about their nuclear weapons program if they had one at all. The push for wmd in Iran is more about security guarantees than exporting power/terror. They can do that easily without the nuclear weapons. As long as the US responds to the situation with posturing and threats, we are increasing the chances that Iran will move its tentative nuclear weapons program into an enthusiastic push to provide itself with a security guarantee. Direct talks, diplomatic relations, and the like are the ONLY way to prevent a nuclear Iran. Military action/threats just assures/postpones their eventual building of a bomb.

    imho,

    Blix seemed to have a similar position.

  • ||

    "The push for wmd in Iran is more about security guarantees than exporting power/terror."

    I don't know for certain what they want. I'm inclined to agree on this, but even if they just want to be left alone... I was talking about reasons not to go to war--the damage has already been done. ...and there seems to be this misconception hangin' out there...

    Perhaps the biggest misconception among Americans about Iraq is the idea that the democratically elected government there is a bastion of pro-American interests in a sea of Shiite fundamentalism. ...this misconception that if we leave Iraq before the democratic government we installed can stand on its own feet, that the Shia portion of Iraq will fall under Iranian influence. I think this has it halfway backwards.

    The democratically elected government of Iraq is already beholden to Iran. It was always beholden to Iran since the first election. We have removed Saddam Hussein from power, and to replace him, we have installed a government that is beholden to Iran. If the United States withdraws from Iran and the elected government of Iraq can stand on its own feet, then we will have delivered the Shia portions of Iraq to Iran's influence.

    When I talk to people in real life, much like some of the visitors who are posting in this very thread, they don't seem to understand that. There's no good guys to hand this thing off to, and there aren't any good guys that are suddenly going to grow out of the woodwork if we just give them enough time either.

    I'm starting to suspect that the American people just aren't prepared to deal with the realization that the guys we've been heralding that are going to come and save Iraq, that they're beholden to Iran.

    I listen to people talk about how we need more time, that we need to wait for the new government to get on its feet, that pretty soon they'll start winning hearts and minds--they're waiting for Godot!

    Here's a pretty good piece I read recently:

    "The United States cannot now undo President Bush's strategic gift to Iran. But importantly, the most pro-Iranian Shiite political party is the one least hostile to the United States. In the battle now underway between the SIIC and Moqtada al-Sadr for control of southern Iraq and of the central government in Baghdad, the United States and Iran are on the same side. The US has good reason to worry about Iran's activities in Iraq. But contrary to the Bush administration's allegations-supported by both General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker in their recent congressional testimony-Iran does not oppose Iraq's new political order. In fact, Iran is the major beneficiary of the American-induced changes in Iraq since 2003.

    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/20651

    I don't think it requires a subscription.

  • Minion of URKOBOLD||

    STEVEND WANTS A NUCLEAR UNDEROO ONESIE.

    ALTHOUGH HE CERTAINLY DOES HAVE A DEFINITE TALENT FOR RECOGNIZING THE YELLOW BELLIED INVERTEBRATE FLIPLFLOPPER, USUALLY FOUND IN THE SPICE MINES OF KESSEL, THE FIRE SWAMP, AND IN A TERRIFYING PLACE CALLED THE BELTWAY

  • iih||

    NM:

    By the way, you may find this interesting (you partially inspired me to comment on that article). This is part of a new effort that I will attempt. I am not sure though whether I will have the time and talent to continue. But time will tell.

  • ||

    iih,

    I can't speak to time, but talent is not an issue.

    You should include a link to your blog in your comments here (just put it in the url box).

  • iih||

    NM:

    The only reason for my skepticism is that I really do have a very demanding job. I will eventually, when I feel that I can commit more time and effort to the blog, include it in my url. For now, I will keep it low key and refer people to it when I have something useful to share.

  • ||

    Ken S,

    The democratically elected government of Iraq is already beholden to Iran. It was always beholden to Iran since the first election.

    I agree.
    Did you see the recent Frontline on Iran?
    It is worth checking out.

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/showdown/

  • ||

    I know one Iraqi expatriate who, since the war began, has suffered the following losses in his extended family:

    11 People died in the initial American bombings
    7 Have died from U.S. Friendly fire
    12 have died in Insurgency - U.S. crossfire
    3 have been lost from car bombs
    5 were killed by militias

    A number of others have been wounded

    I'll be sure to tell him that the war is "being won"

  • And you Rank third||

    Nice to read another installment of insightful sniping from Reason. Just joking. I'm sick of people's opinions and third-hand insights. I like facts, and you'll get none here. Just more bile.

  • LT Jason Nichols||

    We went to Iraq because it was the best and possibly the only strategy to defeat the threat of Islamic extremism made obvious on 9/11. Most people who oppose the war offer no alternative strategy and are therefore not honest or rational opponents.

    Victory in Iraq is a stable, democratic government able to defend itself.

    There has been a significant change in the overall war in the past several months, not only due to the surge but also due to a significant change in overall strategy. It's not won, but we are clearly winning.

    So those are the objective facts. Here's my subjective opinion:
    The magazine Reason seems to have abandoned logic and reason on the subject of the Iraq war, apparently because its editors think America can only be attacked by a large foreign army crossing our borders. Ayn Rand didn't foresee all future threats, and the idea an army can just sit behind bunkers on the beach no longer matches reality.

    More facts: 9/11 was an instigation of force, and establishing democracy in Iraq was the most rational response. We're succeeding and the entire free world will be much better - and larger - because of it.

  • ||

    "The magazine Reason seems to have abandoned logic and reason on the subject of the Iraq war, apparently because its editors think America can only be attacked by a large foreign army crossing our borders."

    Gillespie may have been against the war, but there were at least four on staff, by my count, and probably more, who fully and publicly supported Iraq War. ...so speaking of Reason as being of one voice on the topic just doesn't make any sense.

    Go ahead and look it up in the archives--there are a couple of posts, as I recall, where the Reason staff spell out their positions on the war, one by one.

    "Ayn Rand didn't foresee all future threats, and the idea an army can just sit behind bunkers on the beach no longer matches reality."

    I'm not an Objectivist, and I don't speak for Objectivists. However, it's my impression that Objectivists were more likely than libertarians to support the Iraq War, and, like I said, there were plenty of libertarians who supported the Iraq War.

    Anyway, while I think most libertarians have read Ayn Rand at some point, most self-identified libertarians don't identify as Objectivists because they disagree with Ayn Rand on any one of a dozen issues. Quoting her to most of us is no more persuasive than quoting anyone else. ...just for future reference.

    That having been said, I don't think Ayn Rand ever told anybody to sit in a bunker behind a beach, and if I had to guess from what I know of her and her work, my bet would be that Ayn Rand would have supported the Iraq War.

  • LT Jason Nichols||

    Ken,
    I looked and I couldn't find any recent Reason articles that support the war; certainly none with the courage and clarity a magazine purporting to be dedicated to freedom should wield. They seem to have surrendered their reason to the emotion of fear.
    LT Nichols

  • ed||

    most libertarians have read Ayn Rand at some point, most self-identified libertarians don't identify as Objectivists because they disagree with Ayn Rand on any one of a dozen issues

    It's a fact that all objectivists are libertarians, but not all libertarians are objectivists. If objectivists examine the world from A to Z, libertarians get stuck at around T and gradually regress. Or to use a baseball analogy, they never make it out of Double-A ball.

  • ||

    Admittedly, I have never read any of this author's material before. Is he always such a downer? He quotes all the right numbers but he doesn't discuss how life has improved on the ground for our soldiers or the average Iraqi, and that is an equally important piece.

    Does he seriously want to continue arguing the justification for this war? I think that intelligent people can disagree on the utility of war in general, and especially that of this war.

    Things have changed on the ground. He sites Michael Yon, but has he actually read his recent dispatches which, by the way, he is now offering for free to large scale publications?

    It is possible to enter into a war for the wrong reasons and yet win it for the right reasons. I could argue that most wars start and end this way.

    Congratulations to our troops and the Iraqis for all their recent successes.

  • ||

    Douglas,


    I have read reports that the U.S. soldiers are so tired, they are not going out on patrols much any longer but just hunkering down. The violence is declining for a simple reason; the Americans against whom the violence is directed are staying home. All we have to do is leave, and the Iraqis will do fine without us.



    Get your nose out of the fiction section...

  • ||

    Hey Douglas Grey,
    Concerning your most recent post about the family of your Iraqi friend; That is not the measure by which intelligent people determine if a war was won or lost. There will always be people who are disproportionately effected. Whether or not we have met our stated goals is the true measure of success. By the way how was life under Saddam for your friend? Or is he a Sunni?

  • BakedPenguin||

    We went to Iraq because it was the best and possibly the only strategy to defeat the threat of Islamic extremism made obvious on 9/11.



    We went to war in Iraq because Bush wanted Saddam Hussein. As nasty as Hussein was, he was not connected with al-Qaeda. His ability to strike beyond the borders of his own nation was nearly destroyed. If you want to speak of objective facts, and be taken seriously, you need to acknowledge this.

    Most people who oppose the war offer no alternative strategy and are therefore not honest or rational opponents.



    If the alternative is perpetual war, anything is a better strategy. So long as we are there, we are creating militants across Muslim lands. The messages of hate being preached by imams would not find such fertile ground absent our occupation of Iraq.

    There has been a significant change in the overall war in the past several months, not only due to the surge but also due to a significant change in overall strategy. It's not won, but we are clearly winning.



    We are doing better. Since we are obviously going to be there at least until the end of this presidency, I hope it continues. However, as we can adapt, so can they.

    But even "winning" in Iraq has come with a price. We all know the body count, both our soldiers, and Iraqi civilians. We all know the billions of dollars spent. Beyond the math of destruction, there are the intangibles.

    We have emboldened every thug on the planet who can now be certain there is no way the US will intervene. With the events at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, we have damaged our ability to discuss human rights on the world stage. In order to have moral authority, you have to first be moral. "We're not as brutal as the terrorists" doesn't count.

  • ||

    9/11 was the result of the containment of Iraq.

    Where I disagree with Joe is that containment was a success, and that continuing that policy was possible.

    For me, prior to 9/11 a pull out and let Saddam be was possible, if maybe not a desirable solution.

    After 9/11 it was not, it would have signaled military and moral defeat through terrorism, and I believe that many attacks would have followed.

    From my conversations with locals all over the Arab world, from Saudi, to Egypt to Iraq, they believe that their local secular tyrants are propped up by the US. They believe that if we fall so will Israel and their anti Islamic oppressors.

  • ||

    From my conversations with locals all over the Arab world, from Saudi, to Egypt to Iraq, they believe that their local secular tyrants are propped up by the US. They believe that if we fall so will Israel and their anti Islamic oppressors.



    How convenient. Since our tyrants are just figureheads, there is really no point in opposing them, so let's just sit on our fat, cowardly asses and shake our fists at the infidels.

  • ||

    So Baked Penguin,

    It depends what you mean by not connected.

    Also, I don't think that at this point abandoning Israel would help US with these guys. We are blamed for their losses in the various Arab/Israeli wars. I have talked to many educated Arabs who have told me that the only reason the Arabs lost was because the US put our troops dressed as Israelis into the war.

    I am going to vote for Ron Paul, and I hope his method works, and I think we should cease to give Israel and Egypt the Billions.

    And I think that will eventually ease hatred of America.

    But I don't think pulling troops out of Iraq will do us any good. I think winning there will do us ample good, it will do the region well, and the world in general.
    And I think we can win.

    Winning in Iraq would for me consist of a free market, a free press, and free elections. (no matter who wins that election the first two or three times).

  • ||

    ""How convenient. Since our tyrants are just figureheads, there is really no point in opposing them, so let's just sit on our fat, cowardly asses and shake our fists at the infidels.""

    Well in fighting their figure heads they are going against ruthless tyrants that don't have to answer to an opposition party or the free press.

    So going after us, the big cheese, is easier.

    Also, unless westerners are killed, no one hears about it for the most part.

  • VM||

    Well spake, Baked! Well spake.

  • ||

    Kwais,

    I agree with your 10:16am post entirely.

  • ||

    "I have talked to many educated Arabs who have told me that the only reason the Arabs lost was because the US put our troops dressed as Israelis into the war. "

    I did not realize the Arab is so profoundly delusional.

  • BakedPenguin||

    tak, Elg.

    kwais, winning is better than losing, to be sure. But if we have to stay there for 4, 5, 6 more years to "win", then I would definitely disagree with you. At some point, the blowback from our continued occupation will outweigh any gains made, even if a liberal Iraq can be established.

    I understand the argument that if that liberal Iraq can be established, it can be used as evidence to the Muslim world that we don't want to conquer them (as well as being profoundly better model of governance for the rest of the region). The further we go along without that happening, however, the closer that gets to "peace with honor".

    Furthermore, to my mind, even the best case scenario does not absolve the Bush administration of lying to the American public to start such a costly war.

  • ||

    ""I did not realize the Arab is so profoundly delusional.""

    I think it is the inevitable result of no free press. I have heard of similar and worse coming from China and North Korea.

    So really they have a good excuse. I am not sure what the excuse is for the 9/11 truthers, or the people that think FDR was a good president.

  • ||

    Baked Penguin
    I have many disagreements with the Bush administration, including:
    - making the war about WMD's
    - Asking for the UN's permission

    Also;
    - Not being more open to the public
    - Being loyal to incompetent bureaucrats

  • ||

    Baked Penguin,

    Also the 5 to 6 years thing is a hard one.

    5 to 6 years of the same old back and forth like Israel with the Palestinians, yes I agree.

    And if that is how it is going we should fire the multi billion dollar Army and DoS.

    5 to 6 years where peace and prosperity are continuously increasing, I don't know. 5 to 6 years against the next 50 of bloodshed and war?

    Either way, realistically we only have until the election of '08 at most. By then it would seem that things have to be dramatically improving (unless Hillary is lying and she is twice the hawk that Bush is, which is also possible). (I really don't know how the military would work under her.)

  • ||

    "I looked and I couldn't find any recent Reason articles that support the war;..."

    Yeah, well, by my count, at the very least, Freund, Michael Young, Bailey and Cathy Young all supported the Iraq War, quite clearly, actually.

    Freund, as I recall, was a Reverse Domino Theory enthusiast, Michael Young and Bailey both affirmed their support when asked point blank and Cathy Young wrote things like:

    "It is certainly true that the war in Iraq has been mishandled; it may have been misguided in the first place. It is, regrettably, true that the cavalier attitude toward prisoner abuse has undermined our moral authority in the war on terror. But acknowledging our mistakes and misdeeds should not undercut moral clarity when it comes to terrorism. The jihadists are driven primarily by hatred of Western civilization and its freedom; their primary targets are innocent civilians; and they cannot be defeated except by force."

    http://www.reason.com/news/show/32032.html

    There were other Reason staff writers, as I recall, who weren't entirely against the invasion even if they weren't wildly enthusiastic about it either.

    "...certainly none with the courage and clarity a magazine purporting to be dedicated to freedom should wield. They seem to have surrendered their reason to the emotion of fear."

    It doesn't take courage and clarity to print something you don't believe. ...and freedom, by definition, means different things to different people. Gillespie doesn't have a monopoly on defining what it means to everyone and neither do you.

    You don't have to agree with them, but if you can't see how someone who loves freedom might oppose using armed force to impose our will on other people, then you need to clean out your thinking cap and start over...

    I might oppose the war, but that doesn't mean I can't understand what the opposition is talking about. ...disagreeing with me on any given issue certainly doesn't make people without "courage" or "clarity" and it certainly doesn't mean they aren't committed to freedom.

    So, anyway, back to what I was talking about...

    "The magazine Reason seems to have abandoned logic and reason on the subject of the Iraq war, apparently because its editors think America can only be attacked by a large foreign army crossing our borders."

    That's a bunch of hooey. The magazine didn't abandon logic and reason on the subject of Iraq--it didn't even speak with one voice on the subject. ...and its editors don't think America can only be attacked by a large foreign army crossing our borders. You're just plain wrong about that.

  • VM||

    excellent discussion, BP, K, KS!

  • LT Jason Nichols||

    Baked Penguin,


    We went to war in Iraq because Bush wanted Saddam Hussein.


    That's just silly speculation with no proof. Even if it were true, that wouldn't explain all the other leaders, civilian and military, who thought (correctly) we should invade Iraq. We went into Iraq because bringing democracy to the Middle East is the only workable strategy to defeating the Islamic extremist threat, and Iraq was the best means to start.


    If the alternative is perpetual war, anything is a better strategy.


    That isn't an alternative I offered. And I notice you didn't offer any at all. The lesson of 9/11 was that there was a serious threat we couldn't ignore, we didn't create it by invading Iraq. Yes, fighting the extremists will make them angry. Fighting extremists usually does.


    But even "winning" in Iraq has come with a price.


    …and that would matter, if freedom were a numbers game. But it's not, and it is a price we should all willingly pay.


    We have emboldened every thug on the planet who can now be certain there is no way the US will intervene.


    Quoi? How does actively fighting thugs like the Taliban in Afghanistan and Saddam in Iraq send the message we can't intervene? Just the opposite. True, we can't attack another country now, but because of Iraq we don't need to, and hopefully won't in the future. We didn't stop the Normandy invasion because it would prevent an invasion through Belgium.

  • ||

    Why thank you VM (assuming the K is me).

    Does that mean that the taint is safe?

  • ||

    That was an interesting article. I found this little bit of "reasoning" enlightening.

    "Anti-warriors are sometimes accused of wanting the U.S. to lose in Iraq, just so they can be right. Not so."

    Wow. I guess that's settled. How about something to back that up? I guess that "Not so" is a valid rebuttal to why OBL's videos read like a Democratic talking points memo and that at every juncture the Left puts up roadblocks to America coming out on top in this struggle.

  • LT Jason Nichols||

    JB - good point.

    Ken,


    "It is certainly true that the war in Iraq has been mishandled; it may have been misguided in the first place.


    Gosh, how could I have missed such an ardent defender of our efforts.

    Michael Young is clearly an opponent of our mission in Iraq. I didn't read the other three, but if what you say is true then there are 3 writers who don't 'strongly condemn' our mission. That hardly makes this magazine neutral. At the very least I can safely say it is overwhelmingly dominated by war opponents, none of which are able to support their position rationally.

  • ||

    Michael Young was a champion of the Iraq War in anybody's book. Some of the fights with between him and antiwar.com's Justin Raimondo in these very forums are legendary.

    If even he's come to despair, then things must be really bad--and that piece you linked isn't exactly the call of a dove. He just doesn't seem to be calling for a withdrawal there... From your link:

    "Meanwhile American military planners are surveying possible scenarios in the event of a U.S. pullout. One definitive conclusion everyone has reached is that nothing is definite. Predictions vary between seeing the situation in Iraq deteriorating into a regional cataclysm and, as one retired Marine involved in war-gaming a withdrawal put it, an outcome that is not "apocalyptic" but "very ugly." In that context, it might be useful for U.S. decision-makers to start looking more closely at Iraq itself, rather than just at Washington. There are definite signs of advancement in parts of the country, and some American commanders are insisting that now would be the worst time to exit. Success may be just around the corner."

    You're barkin' up the wrong tree--I think it would be hard to find an advocate and defender of the Iraq War stronger than Michael Young.

  • BakedPenguin||

    That's just silly speculation with no proof.



    You're right about that - it's all speculation at this point. What is known is that the stated reason for going to war, Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction, didn't exist. Also, the fact that the administration exaggerated or ignored evidence of WMD's, and pushed the CIA to support its claims, which helps

    ...explain all the other leaders, civilian and military, who thought... we should invade Iraq.



    Making Iraq into a democracy came later, after the WMD story was proven to be untrue. By that point, we had won the war against Saddam. However, their colossal underestimation of the guerilla war about to begin stopped that script from being played out.

    [Perpetual war] isn't an alternative I offered.



    I would think not, which is exactly my point. We cannot control the entire region, and events and circumstances can change quickly. The best laid plans of mice and men, etc. We have given the nascent Iraqi government more than enough time to figure out the mechanics of government.

    ...it is a price we should all willingly pay.



    Which is true, if you are speaking of the freedom of Americans. So if you want to discuss

    ...actively fighting thugs like the Taliban in Afghanistan...


    that's fine, but it's a different matter. The Taliban was the government in charge of Afghanistan when it sponsored a group of scum who attacked us. One of the best arguments against our involvement in Iraq is that is has seriously diluted our well justified effort in Afghanistan.

  • ||

    The idea that the imams need Iraq to spread hate is bologna. It is clear that they were doing good enough before Iraq ever came up. And even if there are more fanatics, at least we now have a surefire way of disposing of them. Also, the Bush lied rant is getting old fast. Can't we agree that Clinton lied first and Bush just rolled with it? Had Clinton not got caught with his pants down he might not have needed to bang the drum so loud about WMD, but blaming it all on Bush is delusional.

  • ||

    ""One of the best arguments against our involvement in Iraq is that is has seriously diluted our well justified effort in Afghanistan.""

    Yeah I have heard that one before, and I don't buy it for a minute.

    What would we be doing with Iraq? Continuing to be ever more futile in our containment? While money and fighters poured into Afghanistan from all the places it flows into Iraq from?

    I think the reason that we are not doing well in Afghanistan is stubbornly trying to also fight the drug war. Can all the troops that are currently in Iraq be used successfully to win the drug war?

    I think not. As long as the two are tied we will not win.

    I also think that a huge part of what is hurting us in Iraq is our military supporting the Iraqi govt in illiberal policy attempts (gun control and fighting smugglers, for two examples)

  • ||

    I've read the posts and I have to say that it is such bullshit when people who are not risking anything, are for the war. There are real soldiers and Iraqi civilians dying because of the egotism and incompetence of our political masters. If you really believe in this war than you need to enlist and start fighting otherwise please shut the f--k up! The war was based on lies and those who lied about it knew they were lying. American soldiers should not have to worry about losing their life or being permanently damaged to fight in Iraq. Iraqi civilians should not have to worry about being killed by American soldiers. Real people are dying over in Iraq not abstract labels "the troops" or "Iraqis". The pseudo academic rationales for staying in Iraq are frankly bullshit. Oh fewer people appear to be dying at least that what our military intelligence and the press keep telling us. And you trust them to be truthful because? The first casualty of war is the truth people. The politicians, the military leaders, the press they lie to ensure the civilian population will agree to let our government kill and destroy other peoples lives (our soldiers and their families and civilians in sovereign countryies).

  • ||

    Poor James -

    Do you not understand freedom of speech? Or civilian control of the military?

  • ||

    James, when even Democrats and media types admit the violence is going down, why can't you believe them? Do you think they are going along with it to increase Bush's poll numbers?

  • ||

    James,

    That is a bunch of crap.

    Do people not running for president have a right to criticize how the president works? I thinks so.

    If you pay taxes, you have a right to insist soldiers do their job. Hence our country is not a military junta.

    Also specialization of labor and all of that. You do what you like to do and are good at, and I'll do what I like to do and am good at. Everyone still gets a word on what the government does.

    Also, consider the argument reversed, and I don't think you would be happy with the implications; consider that the vast majority of the military leans to the right. Despite the few outspoken leftists you might be reading.

  • ||

    I probably could have said my above statement better.

  • LT Jason Nichols||

    BakedPenguin,
    Your link discusses one report which raised doubts about the credibility of one witness. Not very convincing.

    Making Iraq into a democracy came later, after the WMD story was proven to be untrue.


    That's not true. We didn't invade b/c we thought Saddam had stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons. We thought he had those in 1992, and a lot of dictators have those now. We came to Iraq because it was the best means of bringing democracy to the Middle East, and that is the only high-level strategy to defeat the Islamic extremists. We also came to prevent Saddam from developing nuclear weapons and giving them to terrorists, which German intel said he would have within 3 years.

    Yes, Pres Bush emphasized the WMD's, since the UN required that to give approval and it was an emotional argument that raised support for the war, and he was right to do so, given the knowledge he had. Saddam had used WMD's, he was trying to develop more, and there's good evidence he thought he had more than he did. So I don't think the absence of WMD stockpiles is sufficient reason to oppose the war. If we knew he had none we still would have been right to invade. Many military leaders supported invasion regardless of WMD stockpiles.

    We cannot control the entire region, .


    No one has said we want to.

    We have given the nascent Iraqi government more than enough time to figure out the mechanics of government. .

    No we haven't. The military always said it would take 5-10 years, we're on year 4. I recently heard a professor say that most insurgencies take 3 years to defeat at a minimum. She also said America has fought 20 insurgencies in our history, and won 19 of them. I'll have to find her name (it was a conference call) but it seems very likely we'll win this one as well.

    And not to be too repetitive, but you can't be an honest opponent without presenting an alternative way to defeat Al-Qaeda and Islamic extremism other than bringing democracy to the Middle East. One lesson of 9/11 was that containment doesn't work against terrorists.

  • ||

    Read jay nock our enemy the state or hayek the path to serfdom. There is a reason you probably didn't hear about these authors in your history oops I mean indoctrination classes

  • ||

    Also for you "scholars". Read this article concerning the press it refers you to an excellent book so you can brush up on your command of history concerning the "free" press.

    http://www.salon.com/opinion/blumenthal/2007/10/25/walter_lippmann/print.html

  • ||

    Six-Sigma read more books before you try to be snarky. LOL

  • ||

    Kwais I'm not arguing about the right to criticize the "commander in chief". I'm arguing against the idea that "democracy" is any less tyrannical than any other forms of government that exist and have existed.

    Our soldiers should be able to trust that they will not be sent to war for lies and to enable some favored groups to get rich off the death and destruction. Remember Haliburton and it's ilk? No-bid contracts billions of dollars evaporating into the ether. War is a government program.

    Who was it who said we don't do body counts when referring to Iraqi civilians? (And ask yourself why not?) Are their lives worth less than ours?

  • ||

    LT Jason Nichols you have drunk waaaay too much of the government Kool-Aid. If you are a soldier and even if you are not I have some recommended reading for you as well. It was written in the thirties by the Fighting Quaker look him up he was only the most decorated soldier in the history of the Marines. The pamphlet he authored was called War is a Racket. Please, please, please read it and learn. He called himself at one point a Gangster for Capitalism. General Smedley Butler check him out.

  • ||

    James Ard I believe that the Dems and the media are as clue-less as everyone else. Proof one, we are fighting a war in Iraq. Proof two the media and the politicians have also been trumpeting the fact that Iran is this great threat to our democracy. Like John Stossel says, "give me a break."

  • ||

    James;
    I have lots of respect for Smedley Butler, but he was a communist.

    YOU think we went to war based on lies, I don't. I think that most those are over there now, have joined after all the accusations of lies and what not.

    Your original statement was about it being inappropriate to be pro war if you didn't decide to join. That is crap, that is what I was calling you on.

  • ||

    Also,
    About the body counts. We don't do body counts of enemy dead. Or so we are not supposed to. Because it does not measure success, and it should not be the endgame.

    I don't think we should be obsessed with any body counts. But I also do somewhat think that we should not have the save our own troops above all. I think that mission accomplishment comes before troop welfare. And more should be done to protect civilians on our side.

    As far as the Haliburton contracts, I have no quibble with how well they have done their jobs. I personally would have them do a lot less of the jobs they do over there.

    I would give more money to individual troopers, and provide them with less comforts.

  • ||

    Kwais Smedley was not a communist read his story. He spoke at a few of their events but he was not a communist. And even if he were a communist that would not make what he wrote about war any less true. War is a Racket plain and simple. Nothing that he wrote about it in the 30's is different. Accept that the populace is even less informed than they were then. Government wasn't as trusted in the 30's as it is now.

    My calling to account those who support the war but aren't willing to fight in it isn't crap. I've read frequent post from rightwing chickenhawks on their sites and blogs. Guys who talk tough but aren't willing to get down and dirty and fight for the crap they spout but are quick to question the bonofides of those who oppose war. War is the health of the state and you are fooling yourself if you think otherwise. Under the guise of War the state snatches up more and more of our freedoms. Witness the telecoms and the Bush administration's violation of FISA. And these MFers have the gall to try to get retroactive immunity for doing shit that they know is illegal. If it wasn't for Sen. Dodd growing some cajones they would've snuck that crap right through. Do you know that TSA has put in a request to require that American citizens give three days notice prior to leaving the country on flights outside of the country WTF. Indefinite detentions on secret evidence. We could be living in Stalin's Russia or Hitler's Germany. Americans accept this crap because they are informed and believe that Big Brother is looking out for them, pleease.

  • ||

    misspelling killed a decent rant "uninformed"

  • ||

    We don't do body counts because Americans would be appalled at the number of innocent civilians that we have killed to "free" the Iraqis from Sadaam. Do you really believe the crap that they say our are you trolling? We have killed more civilians liberating Iraq from Sadaam then he killed during his entire misbegotten rule. Which by the way we supported when it suited our needs. Who do you think sold him the weapons that let him fight his war in Iran. We did of course and that is why the hate us not because of our freedom but because of our hypocrisy.

    How can the land of the free support dictators. Iranians hate us because we helped the Shah overthrow a democratically elected leader. The Shah then proceeded to brutalize his people. We do the exact opposite globally of what we say we stand for at home.

  • ||

    I've noticed that a lot of reason posters are statist. They believe that our government can do no wrong and frankly that is foolish. You can trust those who seek power over others to use that power to benefit them and their cronies look at our history. This is not something that is new or that happened with the Bush regime it is the fatal flaw of the State. You give others power over you and you can be sure that they are going to use that power. A good example is the War on some Drugs. Who gave the State the right to tell us what we may or may not do with our bodies. Do we own our bodies or does the State? You ask any politician with the exception maybe of Ron Paul and they will tell you yes the State can make that decision for you. Ghouliani one of the leading Republian contenders believe that freedom means you submit to the will of the state what you can do with your person. And he is a frontrunner that is what scares me and keeps me awake at night.

  • ||

    James,
    You won't find me arguing in favor of the TSA, the Patriot act, or homeland security.
    (the wiretaps themselves arent that big in the scheme of things to me though).

    I think you are more than mis informed about the body counts. Perhaps willfully misinformed.

    Also, I have been on many of Saddam's weapons depots. (anecdotal evidence I know). I saw scores of Russian, Chinese, Italian, German, French, stuff, but I can count on my fingers the times I saw American stuff.

  • ||

    A lot of young men and women are over there because they believe the patriotic garbage that they are indoctrinated with in our schools. My uncle was a Marine he served to tours of duty in Nam when he enlisted he wasn't old enough so my grandmother had to give permission so he could go. When I came out of high school I was considering going into the military and he vehemently objected to my enlisting. We never talked about why he was against my enlisting but now I know why. He didn't want me to become a cog in a machine that cares nothing about the sanctity of life

  • ||

    Kwais we supported Sadaam he fought in Iran with our blessing in his war. Do some more research and I will be vindicated. I'm not making this up because I'm a US hater. I am a State hater you can't trust others with virtually unlimitless power and money.

    We are the largest arms dealer in the world. No one and I do mean no one is selling more weapons than the US.

  • ||

    James,
    If you are seeing a plurality of statist posters on this site you are not really looking.

    The vast majority of posters are not statists.

    We have a very few from the left and the right who represent some statist or collectivist views from the left and from the right.

    A handful, and that includes the trolls.

    In my support of the Iraq war, I am in the minority. Sometimes I am disappointed when I get on a war topic, to find that it is just an anti-war circle jerk. Other times, there are lively discussions, where I can appreciate both sides. Sometimes I gain much more from reading the Anti war guys as the pro war guy will be a troll or a redneck, and the anti war guys are usually well read and well spoke.

    You with your tales of body counts, and your assertion that in order to disagree with you about the war one must have actually served, are the equivalent of some of the less rational pro war guys.

    Also the claim that all war is a racket also strikes me as irrational, (the revolution?)

  • ||

    Kwais you said, "the wiretaps themselves arent that big in the scheme of things to me though"

    Ben Franklin said "Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both."

    Lots of people believe as you believe and they are seriously mistaken to be so trusting of our government masters.

  • ||

    ""We are the largest arms dealer in the world. No one and I do mean no one is selling more weapons than the US.""

    Well, if the government is doing it, then it is wrong.

    If private industry is doing the weapons selling then all we need to do is get the workers to unionize, and then Japan will surpass us shortly.

  • ||

    About the wiretaps. Every year Americans have to disclose how much money they make.

    That to me is a huge deal. Some government bureaucrat listening to me talk dirty is not so huge.

    If you think you have privacy while talking, and you aren't employing some kind of code or countermeasures, you are an idiot. It doesn't matter what the law says.

  • ||

    Kwais I believe in 05' the Lancet did a statistical analysis that estimated the number of Iraqi dead it was believed to be 600K+. Since then there have been newer studies that have estimated the total dead at 1Million+.

    Do you really believe that we could bomb a city that had a population of 7Million+ and not have huge numbers of casualities.

    My anti-state and anti-war views are based on extensive reading. I've read works by Lysander Spooner, Hayek, Nock, and Butler among others and nothing that these men wrote concerning the state and the nature of powers is false. They weren't special they just looked at history and learned from it and they also grew up in a time when the state was not this massive thing that it has become.

    Read their work even if you don't agree 100% I'm sure you will see that they were most definitely not madmen.

  • ||

    The government and the weapons industry work hand in hand Kwais. Government is the parent of the military industrial complex it is real, Eisenhower wasn't warning us about it for nothing and everything he said has come to pass. Quotes from the General about war.

    "I like to believe that people in the long run are going to do more to promote peace than our governments. Indeed, I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of the way and let them have it."

    Dwight D. Eisenhower


    "I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity."

    Dwight D. Eisenhower


    "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."

    Dwight D. Eisenhower

  • ||

    LT Jason Nichols

    And not to be too repetitive, but you can't be an honest opponent without presenting an alternative way to defeat Al-Qaeda and Islamic extremism other than bringing democracy to the Middle East. One lesson of 9/11 was that containment doesn't work against terrorists.

    First.
    Thanks for your service.

    Now, on to your point.
    There is a fatal flaw in your reasoning here. It centers on the phrase "bringing democracy to the Middle East." Democracy is not something that can easily be "brought" to a region from the outside (for the most part). Aside from a few examples (post WWII Japan, maybe), Democracy movements are internally motivated, organized, and implemented. Outside influences can help a fledgling democracy get on its feet, but creating a democracy whole-cloth is a foolish goal for an outside force, no matter how powerful. Chances of success are low.

    So, for the alternative plan.
    Engage in respectful diplomatic and commercial interactions with those countries that have the most freedom for their citizens. Do not provide military and commercial support to those regimes that are the most oppressive (which, btw can/might/doesn't necessarily, arguably, include Israel). Develop cooperative relationships with the international and regional community to change the conditions that engender AQ and similar groups.

    Iran and Afghanistan are the case studies.
    Many missteps in our policies towards these countries have lead to increases in the tensions between Islam and the US...and might have directly led to the formation of AQ. Not repeating those mistakes would be a good first step towards winning the ideological battle.

    As an ideological battle, the war will be fought with ideas and won with behavior that reflects those ideas.

    Aggressive, preemptive war and occupation are not the behaviors that reflect the ideals of Democracy.

    Respectfully,
    NM

  • ||

    BTW,
    I am a minarchist, so you won't hear me extolling the virtues of the state.

    I am just skeptical of those numbers.

    Also, more about the wiretapping. Many of those screaming the loudest about it are those that call you crazy when you talk about abolishing the income tax. And talk about how you are greedy for wanting such a thing and that society needs it.

    So, that gives me less sympathy.

    Also, I customarily assume my electronic conversations are monitored.

    Still, I would like to reiterate that you claim is bogus, that those who have not served cannot vociferously disagree with you on the war.

  • ||

    An additional point:
    I said - Do not provide military and commercial support to those regimes that are the most oppressive

    Direct commercial and cultural support and interactions with the citizens of these oppresive regimes, however, should be encouraged.

  • ||

    This well known site seems to give a reasonable estimate of civilian deaths that is far lower than the numbers James cites.

    http://www.iraqbodycount.org/database/

    These are, however, only the confirmed deaths.
    It is reasonable to assume that unconfirmed deaths would be large and may even outnumber the confirmed deaths.

  • ||

    A side-by-side comparison of Iraqi deaths

    http://handle.dtic.mil/100.2/ADA458839

    Range is from 28,000 to 800,000 and includes only deaths thru fall 2006.

  • ||

    Thanks for the link Neu Mejican,

    Also, I agree with you on principle. Free trade with all of them, prop up the dictators of none of them. We have made many mistakes, in the region.

    I disagree that democracy cannot be brought to Iraq (and I think it can be brought to Afghanistan also). And I think we have to.

    Democracy or anarcho capitalism that is.

  • ||

    Kwais,

    I disagree that democracy cannot be brought to Iraq (and I think it can be brought to Afghanistan also). And I think we have to.

    I didn't say "cannot," merely that it is unlikely to come about due to anything we do militarily. Our continued occupation has as good a chance of derailing democracy as encouraging it, in my view.

    We did a better job in Afghanistan by working to establish a stable government through local traditions that have democratic elements in them (the loya jirga http://hrw.org/press/2002/04/qna-loyagirga.htm).

    In Afghanistan we are in a position to be a positive influence to an internally motivated and implemented democracy movement that was facilitated by the defeat of the Taliban. But remember, opposition to the Taliban was significant and active prior to our direct involvement. Those internal factors are importantly different the dynamic in Iraq pre-invasion.

    The current situation in Iraq is a mess with no good options. It will be solved by the Iraqi people, not by the US. We can make things worse, however.

  • ||

    anarcho capitalism

    A pull out would be the best way to move towards that option.

    In most discussions on the topic they use the code words "power vacuum" to indicate that option.

  • ||

    I think that they use the terms "power vacuum" to indicate the opening of a position, or the for fighting in competition for the head bully.

    OTH, if our troops aided local leaders in fighting the bad guys and provided the right amount of pressure to not fuck with economical freedom. Good things will happen.

    I think

  • ||

    "power vacuum" to indicate the opening of a position, or the for fighting in competition for the head bully.

    Security in an anarcho-capitalist society is competitive due to the lack of a "head bully." It will be anarcho-capitalist until a head bully takes over.

  • ||

    I am just empirically driven enough to say that a "head bully" always takes over in the end. First you get competition between head bullies, then you get consolidation of power by the most successful bullies.

  • ||

    Are we currently serving as "head bully" in your view?

  • ||

    To be clear.

    When the "head-bully" is chosen through a democratic process and is beholden to the people to maintain his status via a constitutional agreement, you will have a better outcome. That depends upon the locals and is the reason an outside force can't impose democracy.

  • ||

    which is why we shouldn't interfere with their elections except to ensure fairness. Even if they elect a religious nutjob.

  • ||


    kwais | October 28, 2007, 5:32pm | #

    which is why we shouldn't interfere with their elections except to ensure fairness. Even if they elect a religious nutjob.



    Like, for example, someone who thinks God wanted him to be President.

  • ||

    "About the wiretaps. Every year Americans have to disclose how much money they make.

    That to me is a huge deal. Some government bureaucrat listening to me talk dirty is not so huge."


    Amen to that. ...and complacent acceptance of the former is related to the appearance of the latter too, I think.

  • ||

    "What we are doing now is nation building.
    Nation building
    has never worked well."

    Yeah, except for when we helped rebuild Germany, which has been a strong democracy for decades. Oh, and Italy, and Japan, and South Korea, and...
    The only times we haven't been able to help build strong democracies is when the pacifist and isolationists drag us away before we can help to the full extent of the American heart, i.e. Viet Nam. If liberals just believed in the goodness of the American people, and let us complete the full job, we would have more stable governements/economies, and less threats on world stability. It is their distrust of the fellow americans, soldiers and leaders alike, and their refusal to understand that killers won't stop killing if you 'talk to them', that has slowed or prevented successes.

  • LT Jason Nichols||

    NM:
    Thank you for your kind words.
    However, you haven't shown any flaw. As Kwais & uly said, democracy can be brought from the outside. It has in the past, and it currently has been in both Afghanistan and Iraq. PM Maliki is a democratically elected leader. It's more accurate to say that democracy can't be established without external help. The French helped us, for example.

    Your 'alternate plan' is no plan at all, it is what we were doing prior to 9/11. I agree it may have worked without military force given enough time, but the lesson of 9/11 was that we couldn't wait decades, the risk of a nuclear weapon in terrorist hands was unacceptable.

    The remainder of your post is blaming America for the terrorists. We did not create Al-Qaeda anymore than we did the dictatorship in Iran, or Nazi Germany, or Communist Russia. America is not to blame for the existence of extremists. Innocent civilians are not to blame for terrorist attacks. On any level. Not even a slightly. Zero responsibility.

    We're a free democracy, they're thugs using force to dominate their own people, and they're attempting to export their ideology via violence. We are not the aggressors; we did not instigate the use of force. They did. We're morally right to fight them, and where the security of America is concerned we're required to do so.
    Regards,

  • ||

    LT Jason Nichols,

    The remainder of your post is blaming America for the terrorists.

    Not sure where you get that from.

    OBL's world view was shaped in large part by his experiences fighting against the soviets in Afghanistan. Our policy at the time was to back the Islamic extremists in a "enemy of mine enemy" tactic that turned out to have long term consequences we should have predicted. Our policies have consequences.

    And you have to ignore a lot of history to say that we did not help set the conditions for the Islamic revolution in Iran with our actions and policies.

    it is what we were doing prior to 9/11.

    An inaccurate statement.

    We are not the aggressors; we did not instigate the use of force.

    We did in Iraq.

    Still respectfully,
    NM

  • LT Jason Nichols||

    NM,
    For the most part the burden of proof is on you. You need pretty strong proof to show we're responsible for the form of government of other countries, or for the decisions by extremists to blow up unarmed civilians. It was certainly right to help Afghanis fight the communists, and the fact that OBL then when on to attack us does not change that. If I pay a man $1000 to defend my home, and after he does so he uses the money to establish a criminal gang, I am in no way responsible for the actions of that gang.

    The burden of proof is also on you to show how your alternate plan of supporting the least extreme gov'ts while opposing the least extreme would prevent another 9/11. We were doing that prior to 9/11, and in fact we continue to do so today. We support Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and oppose Syria and Iran, each to a degree commensurate to their level of freedom.

    I think my only burden of proof is to show we didn't instigate force in Iraq.
    1 - Saddam invaded Kuwait and signed an agreement to do certain actions, among them freely allow inspectors to prove he had no WMD's. He didn't do this, so he instigated the force.
    2 - We used this as a means to get the UN to support an invasion, which we wanted as a means to bring democracy to the Middle East and therefore defeat the source of the Islamic Extremist threat. I would say the instigation of force was the attacks on 9/11. True, Saddam had no direct part in that, but it is the oppression and poverty cause by him and other ME dictators that created the Islamic extremists. He and the Ba'ath party killed, tortured, raped, and intimidated their way to power, they were hardly innocent bystanders.

    So I'm not certain on the second point, but I'm raising the idea that all the dictators of the Middle East instigated the violence, and we were justified in responding with violence once their policies started killing our citizens on 9/11.

    I'd also consider the idea that we did instigate violence against Saddam and Iraq, and that it was still ethically right to do so. I don't think that's the case, however. The causal link b/w 9/11 and Middle East dictators is too strong.
    Regards,

  • ||

    ""Like, for example, someone who thinks God wanted him to be President.""

    Objectively speaking. If there is as God, and God is omnipotent, then everyone who has ever been president, is because God wanted them to be.

    So to me that doesn't reach religious nutjob levels.

  • ||

    Yes, we won the war, _and it's not a war anymore_. It's an occupation.

  • ||

    REMEMBER THE MOVIE? "THE DAY AFTER" DON'T LET IT HAPPEN IN 2007 !!!!!
    In the movie the Day After, a Worldwide nuclear war is set off after a nuclear weapon is airburst over advancing soviet troops!
    US forces in the middle east are gravely at risk from Iran's 2 million strong ( 450 miles from tehran to bagdad) nearby standing army and its

    powerful and unstopable russian made sunburn cruise missiles capable of sinking the US fleet (which for all intents and purposes is trapped in the

    waters of the persian gulf). The use of nuclear weapons against iran has not been taken off the table by the bush administration because it is this threat

    this administration "HOPES" will keep Iran from overrunning the US military forces in Iraq and in the middle east.
    Therefore a probable US response to an advancing Iranian Army force of 700,000 troops into iraq would be a nuclear weapon , airbust over

    advancing Iranian troops. SOUND FAMILIAR! In the chaos Israel, Pakistan, India, Russia and the US would be under tremendous pressure to use

    their nuclear weapons or lose their nuclear weapons. Even a limited nuclear exchange would destroy the ENTIRE OIL PRODUCING resources and

    reserves in the middle east for decades. Oil would rise to 300 to 500 dollars a barrell and gas would be priced at $20 to $30 dollars a gallon! The

    economic health of our planet would collapse!

    THERE IS GREAT NEWS !!!!!
    You can save the lives of yourself , your kids and their kids and prevent a possible "day after" type scenario by contacting your member of congress and

    your senators! Demand their support for a diplomatic (not military) solution to the conflict in Iran - NOW!

  • ||

    paul,

    The great news is that what you just mentioned sounds almost as entertaining as a zombie movie.

  • ||

    Unfortunately there will be a day that this war will have the brutal, bloody, gorey battlefied transformed into a well tended cemetary with the decapitated, burned, dismembered soldiers morphed into beautiful granite stones in perfect alignment. People will be able to walk along quiet paths feeling uplifted, and on holidays have their experience complemented by martial music.

    And the once freightened soldier who trembled in the mud will now be telling embellished stories and showing his ribbons to the next generation of soldiers who look up bright eyed and full of wonder at grandpa. And soon the dogs of war will awake again.

  • Minion of URKOBOLD, Historian||

    ULY DEMONSTRATES THREE PROBLEMS: MIXING STRIPED PATTERNS, WEARING WHITE AFTER LABOR DAY, AND TRYING TO EQUATE IRAQ WITH WW2.

    THAT'S OLD, NOBODY BUYS IT, AND IT SHOWS THAT YOU REALLY NEED TO READ UP ON THE ANCIENT TOMES OF BYNZANTIUM, LEST YOU EMBARRASS YOURSELF ANY FURTHER.

    JOHN - YOU ARE AS AMUSING AS YOUR BROTHER AL. THIS PLEASES THE URKOBOLD.

  • ||

    Great Britain and the US have never been very successful in creating democracies. Interventionists like to point to Germany, Japan, and Italy, but they neglect to mention that those countries previously had a long tradition of democracies so it wasn't too hard to reinstall democracies. What other successes Great Britain and the US had was only after several decades of occupation. This is probably what will be required in Iraq at no telling how many more lost lives and trillions of dollars.

  • ||

    If you really wanted to mix striped patterns and look good, there has to be a way right?

  • dbust1||

    Doherty, did you fight in Iraq? Have you been to Iraq? Now, it doesn't take a veteran to comment on the horrors of war or to take a stand against it. But, if one is to write commentary on the state of affairs in Iraq, then it does require that one use one's intellect. I fear that you may have fallen into the trap to which so many other journalists have fallen. The trap in which you simply repeat "facts" and figures repeated so many times by so many others that no one really knows who first reported them. A few excerpts from your article:

    "Recent downturns in the violent mortality rate in Iraq have after all merely brought us back to late 2005 levels of carnage, back when a majority of Americans had already decided, mostly because of that ongoing carnage, that the war wasn't worth fighting."

    That has nothing to do with reality in Iraq and everything to do with "reality" in the media. The "American people" have decided that the war is not worth fighting because all they hear about are the deaths of American troops and the "slayings" of innocent Iraqis at the hands of American boys and girls.

    "As we've learned in the years since hearts and flowers morphed before our horrified eyes into IEDs and mortars, there's a great deal that can still go screwy in Iraq."

    Well, I was there when there weren't any IEDs yet and when I left I had more than my fair share of IED survival stories to talk about. I also have plenty of "hearts and flowers" stories from my ENTIRE time there to talk about as well.

    "Still, even after their supposedly war-driven victories in 2006, most of the Democratic Party's presidential frontrunners seem satisfied with a very, very slow wind-down that might not even be done by the end of their term. Congressional Democrats continue so far to fund the war."

    That's because the Dems wanted the war to end on Bush's watch and, when that was no longer possible, they made no serious commitments to bringing the war to an end.

    It seems all too often we want to repeat something we've "heard" about what's going on in Iraq. All innuendo and hearsay about how horrible it is "over there," but when the military gives us facts based upon ground truth we immediately find it suspect and claim that the military-industrial complex is obviously lying to us. It is a shame that while the truth isn't told here mindless drivel is.

  • nobody||

    Sorry to rain on your parade, Jake, but you cannot be allowed to change history to fit your ideology. Germany and Japan never had long traditions of democracy. Democracy is good, totalitarianism is evil. Modern libs have an inability to distinguish good from evil, right from wrong. Democracy is worth fighting for. If you don't stand for democracy, then what do you believe in?

  • dbust1||

    Rattlesnake Jake,

    What Germany and Japan are you talkling about? Weimar Germany? Yeah, that was a successful democracy. I'm at a loss to find an example of a pre-war Japanese democracy. What history lessons were you taught?

  • Minion of URKOBOLD, scientist||

    dbust1:

    YOUR KNOWLEDGE OF HISTORY IS AS SILLY AS YOUR TASTE IN MUSIC. "NOBODY" IS PROBABLY YOUR MOM.

  • dbust1||

    Dearest minion of URKOBOLD "scientist"

    I have no mother. You are correct, I earned a BS (bachelor's in sillyness) in history. And, since I was spawned and not born, I have no taste in music.

  • nobody||

    A standard example of how libs respond. Now, go play with your Erector Set and let the grown-ups talk.

  • ||

    "I'm at a loss to find an example of a pre-war Japanese democracy"

    Elections had been held in Japan since 1890.

  • ||

    "Germany and Japan never had long traditions of democracy."

    Elections in Germany had been held at least since the 1850's.

  • ||

    dbust1,

    Just google

    "Japan" "Democracy" "1920's"

    Or you can try "Taishō period"


    Lt Jason Nichols

    Burden of proof?

    I did not realize that the history of Iran was a secret.

    (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Ajax)

    Do you not think our direct involvement in 1953 to overthrow the democratically-elected administration of Prime Minister Mohammed Mosaddeq and his cabinet from power at all shows that we are a least partly "responsible for the form of government" of Iran? And isn't our current project in Iraq all about us taking responsibility for reshaping the form of government in that country? It was a bad idea in 1953. It was a bad idea 50 years later in Iraq, imho.

    If I pay a man $1000 to defend my home, and after he does so he uses the money to establish a criminal gang, I am in no way responsible for the actions of that gang.

    No one said you would be responsible. But if you give $1000 to a thug that then uses it to establishe a criminal gang, you are a fool who shouldn't be surprised when the thug shows up at your door and does you harm.

    We were doing that prior to 9/11, and in fact we continue to do so today.

    Repeating the false assertion doesn't make it true.

    We support Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and oppose Syria and Iran, each to a degree commensurate to their level of freedom.

    Do you really believe that Saudi Arabia is a more open society than Syria? On what metric do you base that conclusion? Is it more free than Iran? Again on what metric? Egypt? May be a bit better...

    You realize that our relations are based on "American postive" attitudes, and not "good to their people" criteria, right? That is part of the problem. America-positive dictators leave their stink on us, and resentment gets aimed at us as a result. You cite Saddam as an example of that (he was an America-positive dictator for a while remember). The Saudi Royals are another, and perhaps the prime, example (leaving Israel aside for the moment).

  • dbust1||

    Elections don't prove democracy, power in the hands of the people does. The nation couldn't move an inch w/o the emporer's approval and the emperor couldn't move w/o the support of the nobles. Hardly hallmarks of democracy.

  • dbust1||

    Rattlesnake & NM,

    Perhaps you both think the USSR was a democracy? Or Venezuela? Or Iran? Or Iraq? All of these countries had/have elections.

  • ||

    dbust1,

    Japan: true that.

    Think of England's first steps toward Democracy...not like it arose in its current form in a single step.

    Fwiw,

    Venezuela is still a democracy, although one in great danger. Iran has democratic institutions that are currently controlled by the bullies at the top. But those institutions change the political dynamic significantly in the country. They are the foundation a more functional democracy could/will be built upon. They are similar to the foundations that helped Japan's transition to democracy after WWII. Which was the original point.

  • nobody||

    Your facts are still wrong, Jake. Don't side step the point. Explain why you think freedom and democracy are not worth fighting for.

  • dbust1||

    Rattlesnake Jake,

    My post from 11:50, though targeted at Japan, also applies to Germany. (Sorry, I should have specified)

  • ||

    dbust1,

    To expand a bit.
    In the US, the original intent of "all men" clearly didn't mean what it does today. But the practices and attitudes that were put in place led to a belief that "all men" meant everyone... even women. A similar process of democratic expansion has occurred in many other countries. The powerful often grant illusionary democratic power through less than democratic processes. But the people in those countries can come to believe that they actually do have power. That belief is what democracy is built upon.

  • Minion of URKOBOLD||

    HAVING THE BEST PART OF YOUR DNA STAINING THE SHEETS NARY COUNTS AS "SPAWNING".

    IT IS FUNNI (SIC) TO LOOK AT YOUR SILLY ATTEMPTS TO EQUATE IRAQ WITH WW2. GIGGLE.

    AND HOW THIS HAS BECOME A NATION BUILDING EXERCISE. AND HOW WE BETTER FIGHT THEM OVER THERE BEFORE OVER HIER. AND "IF YOUR NEIGHBOR IS GETTING ATTACKED..." FALSE ANALOGIES.

    THIS HAS BECOME TEDIOUS. YOUR WAR BASED ON LIES WAS A TERRIFIC MILITARY VICTORY, TO BE SURE. BUT YOUR LIES, YOUR FEAR AND IGNORANCE AND CONTEMPT FOR THE IRAQI CULTURE(S) HAVE CAUSED SERIOUS TROUBLES IN BEGINNING, SUSTAINING, AND MANAGING THE PEACE.

    IT IS SUGGESTED THAT YOU GET YOUR TAINT-SPECS UP TO SNUFF, READ UP ON THE HISTORY OF THE REGION AND ONCE AND FOR ALL, STOP TALKING SO YOU DON'T EMBARRASS YOURSELVES ANY FURTHER

  • dbsut1||

    NM,

    I disagree. Democracy is, as I said, built upon power in the hands of the people. Believing that you have a democracy when, in fact, you do not means that you do not have a democracy. If, however, one is to argue that a nation whose people have at least pretended at democracy can be democratized easier than a nation that has not; well, sure, I suppose. But the fact remains, you either have a democracy (or even a representative republic, to be anal) or you don't.

    But I'm really surprised I've had no takers to my 11:10 post.

  • dbust1||

    Minion of URKOBOLD

    I feel myself getting dumber just by engaging you, but I never attempted to "EQUATE IRAQ WITH WW2." I'm not sure who you have me confused with. Oh, and the best part of my DNA did not end up as a stain on the sheets. It ended up spilling out of the test tube and sloshing on the lab table to be cleaned up by an overpaid union janitor.

    BTW, poorly quoting "Full Metal Jacket," or any movie for that matter, is a sign of intellectual weakness.

  • URKOBOLD\'s HANDYMAN||

    YAH. dbsut1 IS RIGHT ABOUT HOWARD JOHNSON BEING RIGHT. THERE ARE TONS OF NEWLY PAINTED SCHOOLS! FRESH PAINT! SCHOOLS! CHILDREN! SCHOOLS. FAMILY VALUES AT SCHOOL. PAINT!

    HIS SOCIALISTIC SCREED ABOVE COMBINED WITH THE 11:10 SAYS THAT HE NOT ONLY FLUNKED HISTORY, IS PROBABLY JUST A HIGH SCHOOL KID TRYING OUT SOME NEW MOVES.

    JUST STICK WITH YOUR WWE AND UFC MOVES IN THE MIRROR.

    AND LET US KNOW WHEN YOU ARE FINISHED WITH PUBERTY! HOPEFULLY YOU'LL BECOME AN OBJECTIVIST. PERHAPS MORE DOGMATIC BUT LESS SILLY THAN YOU ARE NOW.

    UNTIL YOU CONSTRUCT AN ACTUAL ARGUMENT AND NOT PARANOID FANTASIES ABOUT LIBERALS, PLOTS, AND UNPAINTED SCHOOLS, YOU ARE ONLY WORTHY OF BEING MOCKED.

  • Minion of URKOBOLD||

    YOU CERTAINLY HAVE REVEALED YOURSELF AS A YOUNG BUCK. HOW IS GEOMETRY CLASS? "FULL METAL JACKET"? MY DEAR BOY, THAT LINE IS OLDER THAN THAT MOVIE.

    DID YOU KNOW THAT THE SCENE IN THE BREWERY IN WAYNE'S WORLD WAS A PARODY OF LAVERNE AND SHIRLEY?

    THE ONLY REASON YOU'RE DUMBER IS THAT YOU'RE BUSY TYPING THAT SOCIALISTIC DRIVEL.

    WHEN YOU MATURE A BIT AND GROW INTO YOUR OBJECTIVST PHASE, YOU'LL SEE.

  • nobody||

    Okay NM. So you think democracy is phony? It's an illusion? Who are the "powerful" you mention? Explain your "illusion" theory. This should be good…

  • ||

    "My post from 11:50, though targeted at Japan, also applies to Germany. (Sorry, I should have specified)"

    Sure, Japan and Germany may have not had what we would call pure democracies, but at least they had a semblance of them, which were easy to build upon. That's not the case with Iraq. Other countries where Great Britain and the US failed in creating lasting democracies are the following: US in Cuba 1898 - 1902, 1906 - 1909, 1917 - 1922, Dominican Republic 1911 - 1924, 1965 - 1967, Haiti 1915 - 1934, 1994 - 1996, Honduras 1924, Lebanon 1958, 1982 - 1984, Mexico 1914 - 1917, Nicaragua 1909 - 1910, 1912 - 1925, 1926 - 1933, Somalia 1992 - 1994. Failures for Great Britain are: Brunei 1888 - 1984, Burma 1885 - 1948, Cyprus 1914 - 1960, Egypt 1882 - 1922, Ghana 1886 - 1957, Iraq 1917 - 1932, 1941 - 1947, Jordan 1921 - 1956, Kenya 1894 - 1963, Lesotho 1884 - 1966, Malawi 1891 - 1964, Nigeria 1861 - 1960, Palestine 1917 - 1948, Sierra Leone 1885 - 1961, South Yemen 1934 1967, Sudan 1899 - 1956, Swaziland 1903 - 1968, Tanzania 1920 - 1963, Uganda 1894 - 1962 Zambia 1891 - 1964, Zimbabwe 1888 - 1980.

  • ||

    dbust1,

    You say: Democracy is, as I said, built upon power in the hands of the people.

    And then go on to claim that Democracy/not Democracy is a dichotomous distinction. But if deomocracy is "built upon power in the hands of the people," it is something that can exist in degrees. It is not an either/or proposition.

    Japan and Germany were farther along that cline than Iraq under Saddam. That fact significantly harms making analogies between our post-WWII efforts and the current situation.

    Another major difference between those nation building exercises and this one: we supported and funded local people in their efforts to rebuild their country. In Iraq, we are paying American companies to do the work. A major mistake.

  • nobody||

    dbust1

    The best way for an adult to deal with a child engaged in a tantrum is to ignore them.

  • Minion of URKOBOLD, Librarian||

    THE BEST WAY TO FEEL AS THOUGH YOU'RE NOT A COMPLETE FOOL IS TO HAVE YOUR ONE HANDLE, DEBUST1, AGREE WITH "NOBODY" AND VICE VERSA.

    WHEN YOU HAVE SOCIAL STUDIES NEXT SEMESTER (TENTH GRADE, RIGHT?) AND DRIVING CLASS, YOU'LL UNDERSTAND WHAT NM IS SAYING.

    UNTIL THEN, DEXTER WANTS TO USE THE COMPUTER AND HE'LL TELL THAT YOU LOOK AT NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC BOOBS FROM THAT COMPUTER. FOR SHAME!

  • ||

    Some of you posters must be in your 20's that is the only reason that I can think of for the lack of understanding on actual US policy. Neu Mejican is on point with his comments. As I pointed out to Kwais we have supported dictatorships when it has appeared to be convenient. Our government masters our hypocrites of the highest order. I'm beginning to suspect that is one of the questions on the test that disqualify you for political office.

    Question 1) Can you say something out of one side of your mouth while saying the complete opposite thing on the other side. If you answer no you can't hold political office.

    Stop believing what you see on the "news" they are just another cog in the machine. The Ministry of Truth has quite a few of my fellow posters snookered.

  • ||

    nobody are you still in college?

  • ||

    nobody,

    Who are the "powerful" you mention? Explain your "illusion" theory. This should be good…

    The powerful are always the ones with the guns that are willing to enforce their will. Democracy occurs when "the people" recognize that fact and use their greater numbers to take control. Sometimes this takes place in incremental steps whereby the people demand more and more control. Establishing procedures to limit the accumulation of power back into the hands of the few once "the people" are in control is the first trick in sustaining that situation once it is established. Usually, this takes place in steps as well.

  • nobody||

    Tell me more about the government masters. What do you mean by the Ministry of Truth and news machine? Is there a vast conspiracy? Really, I'm interested.

  • ||

    Maybe we could all just sit in a large circle and pull the petals off daisys while reciting, "he loves me; he loves me not".

  • dbust1||

    Rattlesnake / NM,

    You both make great points re democracy and "democracy building." In fact, so great are your points that my head hurts (but that could be from HS geometry). What I was originally hung up on was Snake's reference to "democracy building" in Germany/Japan after WW2. I do not deny that a legacy of democracy (regardless of degree of existence) could have played a factor. And I do not argue that the US/Britain were not the great "democracy builders" to the degree we have accredited ourselves for. BUT you cannot ignore the Marshall Plan which worked wonders in keeping Europe from sliding into another post war funk, if you will. Nor can anyone ignore the absolute fact that the peoples of Germany and Japan (regardless of any democratic heritage) were completely fed up with totalitarianism thus making democracy an almost irresistible system.

  • ||

    James,

    I must admit that your post comes across as a bit parananoid when you use terms like "ministry of truth" and "our government masters."

    The US actually has a functional democracy/republic. You are the master of your government, not the other way around. Stay diligent if you want keep it that way, of course.

  • dbust1||

    James,

    Oh high and mighty old man, enlighten us. Just because you feel an argument is unsophisticated, doesn't make it so. Nor does it mean the author is in their 20's.

    BTW I'm not in my 20's so please don't think I'm in any way associated w/ those kids.

  • nobody||

    NM
    Wonderful. Thanks for supporting our right to keep and bear arms.

  • ||

    dbust1,

    I agree with that last post.
    The differences btw how the Marshall plan was implemented and our current project contain important guiding lessons if we are to move forward.

    Being sick of dictatorship is necessary, but not sufficient for building a democracy.

  • ||

    nobody,

    re:bearing arms.

    Not a problem.

    If that is your main issue, vote Richardson 2008.

  • VM||

    James - dbust and nobody (same poster) are most likely in high school trying out their new internet powers!

  • nobody||

    NM
    It's not. Still waiting for you to identify the powerful. So far, it people with guns who want to impose their will. Earlier you said democracy was an illusion. Did you change your mind?

  • dbust1||

    NM,

    True it takes more than "being sick" of totalitarianism. But I think they were a little more than just "sick" of it. Also, let us not forget de-nazification vs. de-baathification and the complete dissolution of the Iraqi army. That move was unbelievably stupid and I saw the results first hand.

  • dbust1||

    VM,

    Watch it buddy! I have the knife to Maynard's throat as I type this one handed (it's a cool skill my teacher taught me last week).

  • VM||

    *flexes in mirror*

    oh yeah! Kurt Angle is soooo tough!!!!

    HMMMGGGGGGRRRRRRRR!

  • ||

    NM when the government can lock you up with secret evidence and suspend habeus corpus how is that materially any different than what goes on in dictatorships?

    Am I paranoid well anytime our government is illegally listening to our calls I would think a little paranoia is called for. When the government decides that it can control what I may or may not do with my body and possessions. I think it is perfectly rational to question whether or not I am truly free.

    Rudy is considered one of the top tier candidates this is a quote from a speech he gave in New York.

    "Freedom is about authority. Freedom is about the willingness of every single human being to cede to lawful authority a great deal of discretion about what you do and how you do it."

    Interesting definition of freedom there. I always thought that I had freedom to do whatever I want as long as it doesn't infringe on another person's rights or freedom.

  • ||

    nobody,
    Earlier you said democracy was an illusion. Did you change your mind?

    I am sorry you can't engage in honest discourse.
    Honestly, I am.

    powerful = those with power, the specifics change from place to place. What is it you don't understand?

    I said that this group will sometimes "grant illusionary democratic power through less than democratic processes."

    Restated: allow people to vote and then ignore the outcome/produce fraudulent results.

    Alternatively, allow the people to elect representatives with no power, or allow people to choose from a list of candidates that consists only of members from the current ruling class.

  • nobody||

    You compare the US government to dictatorships? Can you discuss that concept in more detail? Thanks.

  • ||

    James,

    So don't vote for Rudy or any candidate that supports those policies.

    Democracy is messy, but it has self-correcting mechanisms in it. The legislature and the judicial will not put up with expanded executive power for long. Things will move in the other direction as long as people are engaged and active in their opposition to attempts to limit civil rights.

  • ||

    nobody,

    I am not sure I follow your question.

  • ||

    nobody,

    Maybe you mean this.

    Early in the US, only white men could vote.
    The powerful, in this case = white men. To the extent that non-whites and women could not participate, the US was a limited democracy. Over the course of our history the list of people who were granted access to the vote has increased. This is pretty basic civics.

  • ||

    dbust1 it wasn't the lack of sophistication with the argument it was the lack of historical knowledge that made me question the age of some of the posters. I've been there and done that believed a lot of things about my government and my nation that are not true. Those who win in history tend to rewrite it to paint themselves in a flattering light.

    NM another thing regarding government masters. You think I'm being paranoid, try not paying taxes and see what happens to you. If you own a home try to refuse to pay property taxes the government will take your property and sell it to get their money. Governments were pimping people long before the term pimping came into existence.

  • ||

    NM even if I don't vote for him there are lots of people who in polls say they will. What to do, what to do?

  • nobody||

    I'm interested in specifics, not generalities. I'm sorry you feel that I'm dishonest. That is not my intent. So far you have failed to answer any of my questions adequately. If my questions are too difficult, I apologize. You make these statements and then cannot back them with examples. Just name a few, so I can find some validity in your ideas. Could you please define what you mean by ruling class?

  • ||

    James,

    It is hardly a great insight into our society that you can be jailed for breaking the law. You, however, have (imperfect surely) mechanisms in our system of government for changing those laws, and due process for assuring that your conviction is not arbitrary. Government is, primarily, a process of society. The metonymic use of the term leads to an improper framing of "government" as an entity that is separate from society, rather than as aspect of society.

  • ||

    nobody,

    Your questions are only difficult in that they are so vague.

    I am talking in generalities.
    Examples are many for each principle.

    Example: Ruling Class - in Iran, the members of the Islamic Revolutionary Party. In China, members of the Communist Party. In the early US, those with the vote = non-black, non-slave, non-indian men. In the current US, all citizens. In all cases, these groups = the ones with guns willing to use them to enforce their will.

  • ||

    NM the self-correcting mechanism is well and good when the rules are followed. The office's current occupant appears to believe that rules only apply to citizens and not the Commander in Chief and his minions.

  • nobody||

    Thanks. We now agree that in the US, all citizens with the vote have the power, and are the ruling class. Is that correct?

  • ||

    nobody,

    Maybe this is the source of confusion.

    If we think of democracy as a spectrum based on the number of people directly involved in making policy decisions...

    On one end you have a complete dictatorship = one decision maker with no mechanisms for others to have a say.

    On the other end, you have a direct democracy, with a mandate for consensus decisions only (everyone must agree to all decisions).

    Actual government fall somewhere in between.
    The US is towards the end of the spectrum with many decision makers and has moved farther in that direction throughout our history. North Korea would be the example that is probably the closest to the other end of the spectrum.

  • TSurakmaat||

    the iraqi people look to their mullahs for advice, not to the US military. if the mullahs tell them to fight, they will fight; if they tell them to not fight, they will not fight.

    if the war is "winding down", it is because the mullahs of both the shiite and sunni movements have publicly urged calm. it is not because of our presence there, whether or not the soldiers are not going out on patrols.

    it's time for all non-iraqi military to leave.

    T'Surakmaat

  • ||

    "you cannot ignore the Marshall Plan which worked wonders in keeping Europe from sliding into another post war funk"

    Some say the free market program of Conrad Adenaer (spelling?) had more to do with Germany's rebuilding than the Marshall Plan.

  • ||

    nobody,

    Yes, we agree.

    Now the important element in discourse.

    Why do you ask about this particular point?
    How does this relate to the project in Iraq (the main topic)?

  • ||

    NM if you own your property why should you have to pay the government rent in order to keep it?

  • ||

    "re:bearing arms."

    "Not a problem."

    "If that is your main issue, vote Richardson 2008."

    Or Ron Paul

  • ||

    NM you are incorrect. Not everyone needs to agree to the decision on the majority of those who vote. Those who don't vote and those who voted for something different are SOL. Democracy the tyranny of the majority of those who vote.

  • dbust1||

    Rattlesnake,

    Ah, but I wonder how much of Herr Adenaeur 's rebuilding relied upon Marshall Plan funds and/or programs/policies?

    Or, could Herr Adenaeur's rebuilding have been possible w/o the MP? The MP was intended to avoid the same ills that befell Germany and consequently the rest of Europe after WWI. Would a plan similar to Adenaeur's have had a prayer after WWI?

  • nobody||

    NM
    If we agree on that point, then why is it bad for the people of the middle east? You say it is foolish to persue and has little chance of success. Why?

  • ||

    James,

    A consensus democracy is the extreme end of the spectrum.

    Rule by majority is more common as it is more easily implemented.

    As for property rights... I don't have the energy at the moment, but you can read opposing views, here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geolibertarianism

    I don't fully endorse this view, but I also don't place property rights as high up on the list as you, apparently. Property rights are secondary derived rights that flow from more basic rights.

    You can also read more on the complications here:
    http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/toc/modeng/public/ProProp.html

  • ||

    nobody,

    I said it was foolish to attempt to impose democracy from the outside. That is a very different thing. The process that brings about democracy will be internal to the society. Military occupation is a poor method from bringing about that process.

  • nobody||

    So leaving a totalitaian regime in power is a better choice? What other methods would be more effective in this situation?

  • ||

    NM if you haven't read him please read Jay Nock Our Enemy the State also another edifying author is Lysander Spooner.

  • ||

    "If we agree on that point, then why is it bad for the people of the middle east? You say it is foolish to persue and has little chance of success. Why?"

    Because, if you look at the history since 1850, only about a quarter of the countries in which Great Britain and the US have been involved in building democracies have succeeded, and most of those were only after decades of occupation. Are we willing to spend decades in Iraq to establish a lasting democracy at the expense of trillions of dollars and no telling how many more casualties.

  • ||

    "So leaving a totalitaian regime in power is a better choice? What other methods would be more effective in this situation?"

    It is not our place to be the policeman of the world. There are totalitarian regimes all over the world. Is it our place to overthrow them also?

  • ||

    James,

    I have read some Spooner.
    I'll keep an eye out for Nock, although the title doesn't sound promising. It seems to emphasize the entity view of government instead of the process view of government from the get go.

    It is not like I came to the process view without a good deal of thought and reading on the subject.

  • ||

    nobody

    What other methods would be more effective in this situation?

    See my suggestions to LT Jason Nichols upthread.

  • ||

    Since we have come full circle, I am out.

    Nice talking to ya'll

  • Joe Schembrie||

    The war costs $12 billion a month. That's forty dollars per person, one hundred and sixty dollars per family of four. Do you have any idea how that is hitting families in the lower middle class?

    If the money was being taxed from the rich, that would be one thing. But this war has been financed with deficits, paid by inflation, which hits the poorest most of all.

    Consider the impact for these families in terms of their expenditures on health and education. We are devastating an entire generation of America's future.

    This will be the consequence of a permanent occupation. The message from beltway libertarians to the American poor is, "We don't mind if the government spends lots of money, just so long as it's not for you."

  • ||

    The war was never "folly." It was and is...a war. Wars are messy and difficult (usually), with an actual enemy that fights back. It is sad to see the feminized meme of the liberal left has become a "fact." The war has actually been well fought with statistically very few losses and victory in sight. Doesn't sound like folly to me.

  • dbust1||

    Becker,

    Well put. See my post of 11:10am on 10/29.

  • ||

    The choice in 2003 was not war or no war.

    It was a choice between war now, on our terms, with a badly damaged Iraqi military or war later, with a resurgent Iraq, military boosted by oil money corruptly provided through the UN and weakened sanctions, with nuclear weapons. That Iraq would also have claimed a victory over the weak "international community", and strong leadership of parts of the Arab world. They would almost certainly have attacked Israel, to bring most muslims onto their side.

  • TallDave||

    I just think it's nice 25 million Iraqis can vote, have free independent newspapers, free independent radio, free independent TV, freedom to peaceably assemble, freedom to form women's rights groups, freedom to criticize their government, and freedom to buy cars, generators, cellphones, computers, and Internet access.

    But then, I'm one of those wacky people who think liberty is important.

  • Korla Pundit||

    The war was won, in fact.

    The America-hating, traitorous, deadender-Marxist left wing moonbats lost, and dragged along their Democratic Party surrender pimps along with them.

    Next up: Syria and Iran. And Hezbollah, too.

    You antiwar idiots want to go at it again, with your stupid chants and your inane bumper stickers and your phony soldiers and your flag burning and your fauxtography and free propaganda for the enemy?

    Looking forward to it.

  • TallDave||

    Oh, and it's nice that oil money isn't going to palaces, WMD, and invasions of Iran and Kuwait, but instead are financing 2500 more MW of electricity, access to sewer systems for 2.5M more people, freedom from crippling sanctions brought on by Saddam's intransigence, and schools that actually teach rather than being Baathist indoctrination/patronage systems.

  • TallDave||

    If the money was being taxed from the rich,

    The top 5% taxpayers pay 50% of income taxes.

  • Korla Pundit||

    > The war costs $12 billion a month. That's forty dollars per person, one hundred and sixty dollars per family of four. Do you have any idea how that is hitting families in the lower middle class?

    Oh, boo hoo. I'm sorry you only have three SUVs and 6 HD TVs.

    Your sense of sacrifice is overwhelming.

  • TallDave||

    it is not because of our presence there, whether or not the soldiers are not going out on patrols.

    Not true, the local tribes are asking U.S. troops for help against AQ and Shia militias. Until they see the patrols, they are afraid to ask for our help.

  • ||

    """I just think it's nice 25 million Iraqis can vote, have free independent newspapers, free independent radio, free independent TV, freedom to peaceably assemble, freedom to form women's rights groups, freedom to criticize their government, and freedom to buy cars, generators, cellphones, computers, and Internet access.""""

    I don't think the jury is in on much of that. They have had problems with free media. I'm sure they like idea of freedom, but for now they would probably enjoy 24 hours of electricity.

    Much of the gains is just trying to get back to pre-war level of services. It will take years for them to resemble anything of a normal society. Corruption is becoming the biggest obstacle. Sadly it's corruption at our expense.

  • ||

    """> The war costs $12 billion a month. That's forty dollars per person, one hundred and sixty dollars per family of four. Do you have any idea how that is hitting families in the lower middle class?""""

    I'm not sure how it's hitting any families since there has been no tax increase to pay for the war.

  • dbust1||

    TrickyVic

    "...they would probably enjoy 24 hours of electricity......Much of the gains is just trying to get back to pre-war level of services"

    Hate to break it to you, but not even the wealthiest in Iraq (except Saddam's inner circle perhaps) had electricity 24 hours a day before the war. Iraq's electrical utility infrastructure dated from the 1960s (pre-Saddam, pre-Iran Iraq War) and couldn't handle the demands placed upon it then. And, oh by the way, an increase in cell phones, satellite television and demand for all sorts of new appliances isn't helping any either. So don't blame the war for a lack of electricity

  • Korla Pundit||

    >I'm not sure how it's hitting any families since there has been no tax increase to pay for the war.

    Exactly. In fact, the whiners who complain about how much they suffer giving up their 4th Hybrid are the first to complain about the Bush tax cuts.

  • peter jackson||

    We went to war in Iraq because Bush wanted Saddam Hussein. As nasty as Hussein was, he was not connected with al-Qaeda. His ability to strike beyond the borders of his own nation was nearly destroyed. If you want to speak of objective facts, and be taken seriously, you need to acknowledge this.



    Excuse me, but after 9/11 2001 there was a new weapons delivery system in town. A proven weapons delivery system. If you want to speak of objective facts, and be taken seriously, it is you who needs to acknowledge this.

    Regardless of whether or not WMD stockpiles were found in Iraq, it's capability to produce them was inarguable. It's the development of these weapons that's the hard part, afterwards it's simply a matter of production, not unlike the production of other more benign chemicals and biologicals.

    When facing two self-declared enemies in the same neighborhood possessing a coincidence of wants, one a proven weapons developer and the other a proven weapons deliverer, what do you do? If you're intelligent, you try to take them both out, because the chance of failure is too great to only take on one and the price of failure is too high.

    Go over to Wikipedia and read the AUMF Congress overwhelmingly passed which sent us to war in Iraq. It's spelled out pretty clearly.

    yours/
    peter.

  • Dan||

    The whole debate around the war has been incredibly shallow. The anti-war types have stayed focused purely on the short-term casualties and whether things in Iraq are 'bad' on an absolute scale.

    No analysis of the war's rightness or wrongness can be done unless you consider the current situation in relation to what would be happening had the war not taken place.

    For example, since everyone on the right and left agreed with the 'run-up' to the war, in which tens of thousands of American troops were positioned in Kuwait and other places in the ME region to try to pressure Saddam, you have to ask what the effect would have been of having the U.S. 'stand down' and withdraw from the region without getting major concessions from Saddam. It would have been a huge propaganda boost for the Islamists, and would have fed Osama's story line that the U.S. is the 'weak horse' with no stomach for confrontation - the attitude that led to the WTC attack in the first place.

    You also have to consider the state of the sanction regime - even if Saddam turned out to not have stockpiles of WMD, it's clear that he still had a WMD 'program'. One that he would surely have re-started in earnest once the sanctions fell apart and the U.S. had shown itself to be a paper tiger. And the sanctions WERE falling apart.

    You have to also consider what would have happened with the no-fly zones - the only thing keeping Saddam from waging genocide against the Shiites and Kurds. Had the U.S. pulled out of the region en masse, how much pressure do you think there would have been on the bases in Saudi Arabia and on the maintenance of no-fly zones in general? What would Iraqi casualties look like today if they had been removed?

    Then there's Saddam. Saddam's government was stable, and there was little chance of a coup. His sons were in line for succession, and they were worse than he was. Had the sanctions folded, today we'd be talking about a resurgent Iraqi military, possibly one with WMD, and the whole war debate would have to start again.

    A few weeks ago Israel bombed a Syrian nuclear site, built apparently with help from North Korea. Would that attack have been possible, or the site even been known about, if Saddam were still in power? Would North Korea be working with Saddam on a nuclear program as well?

    The war may turn out to be a good idea or a bad idea, and we probably won't know for a decade or two. But any debate regarding the war must consider the alternatives had it not been fought, and none of the current debates ever do. It's all about body counts and whatever the last act of violence was. That's a very thin argument.

  • dbust1||

    amen, brother.

  • LT Jason Nichols||

    Peter/Dan, both very good points.

  • ||

    Looking at this article from 1945, when pacifists were equating Hitler with Churchill is reminiscent of all anti-war groups:

    "Pacifism. The majority of pacifists either belong to obscure religious sects or are simply humanitarians who object to the taking of life and prefer not to follow their thoughts beyond that point. But there is a minority of intellectual pacifists whose real though unadmitted motive appears to be hatred of western democracy and admiration of totalitarianism. Pacifist propaganda usually boils down to saying that one side is as bad as the other, but if one looks closely at the writings of younger intellectual pacifists, one finds that they do not by any means express impartial disapproval but are directed almost entirely against Britain and the United States. Moreover they do not as a rule condemn violence as such, but only violence used in defence of western countries. The Russians, unlike the British, are not blamed for defending themselves by warlike means, and indeed all pacifist propaganda of this type avoids mention of Russia or China. It is not claimed, again, that the Indians should abjure violence in their struggle against the British. Pacifist literature abounds with equivocal remarks which, if they mean anything, appear to mean that statesmen of the type of Hitler are preferable to those of the type of Churchill, and that violence is perhaps excusable if it is violent enough. After the fall of France, the French pacifists, faced by a real choice which their English colleagues have not had to make, mostly went over to the Nazis, and in England there appears to have been some small overlap of membership between the Peace Pledge Union and the Blackshirts. Pacifist writers have written in praise of Carlyle, one of the intellectual fathers of Fascism. All in all it is difficult not to feel that pacifism, as it appears among a section of the intelligentsia, is secretly inspired by an admiration for power and successful cruelty. The mistake was made of pinning this emotion to Hitler, but it could easily be retransfered." (Geroge Orwell, Notes on Nationalism)

  • قبلة الوداع||

    thank u

  • قبلة الوداع||

    ThaNk U

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