Our Ba'athists

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The poor performance of the new Iraqi army has U.S. commanders mulling putting some of Saddam's former officers in the mix.

I literally cannot wait for the White House spin on this development.

But a Ba'athist infusion does make some sense in that the new army lacks leadership, which is another way of saying the men in leadership positions are not respected, or feared, by their troops.

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  1. more good stuff on the stellar Iraqi forces.

  2. Literally cannot wait? Does that mean you are frantically calling the White House trying to get an early scoop?

    I think you likely can wait, and will wait. I think you meant you (figuratively) cannot wait.

  3. Dear Iraq:
    In order to continue liberating you, we will need the help of the evil bastards we previously liberated you from. And remember, anyone outside their home after curfew will be shot. How come you ungrateful pricks don’t love us?
    Sincerely,
    America

  4. Wow, that’s historically unprecedented. Wait, who did they rebuild the Luftwaffe around? Oh.

  5. Wow, all Iraqi Army officers were Baathists?

  6. Tet 2-
    Ba’ath membership was a prerequisite for most military positions, yes.

  7. Man, this site is getting preeeee-dictable.

  8. To avoid predictability, perhaps the Reason editors can publish some articles in favor of socialized medicine and forcible euthanasia. THAT should surprise a few readers.

  9. chthus – the literal / figurative thing has always been a pet peeve of mine. It literally dirves me up the wall.

  10. The folks who used slave labor to build the V-2s used against Britain also built our space program. There are quite a few things in this country named after Werner von Braun.

    When Iraqi planes attacked the USS Stark and killed a few dozen of our sailors, Bush 41 said Saddam was our friend (because he attacked Iran). Not long afterward, he was comparing Saddam to Hitler (because he attacked Kuwait). Then, we didn’t get rid of Saddam for fear of his being replaced by someone worse (than Hitler?).

    A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.

  11. A foolish inconsistency is worse, particularly when demonstrated by those with the power to make life-and-death decisions.

  12. I suppose the question is, how Baathist were they? In a one party totalitarian state, party membership is pretty much mandatory if you want to have a career.

  13. Jennifer,
    Too bad Emerson didn’t tell us how to recognize wise consistency. I’m still trying to figure out why the Democrats didn’t use the Noriega issue in Clinton’s campaign against Bush 41. Let’s see, he was head of the CIA when Noriega was supposedly involved in drug dealing. Either he didn’t know what was going on with a major part of the CIA payroll, in which case he could be considered incompetent; or he didn’t care, in which case why did he suddenly feel the need to kill lots of innocent Panamanians to get Noriega?

  14. Kent, “Bill Clinton attacked President Bush’s liberation of Panama.” Footage of smiling Panamanian chilren. “Call Bill Clinton and ask him why he hates America’s servicemen.”

    Did you really have to ask?

  15. Jeff
    I have a picture in a book about German police formations which shows a Waffen SS (the military wing of the Nazi party) military policeman. His uniform is stripped of all but rank insignia. He is carrying an MP44 assault rifle and several grenades. He is employed by the Allied occupation.

    I literally cannot wait to find out how Truman spun this.

  16. Speaking of foolish consistency, consider this: this current Islamic terrorism problem can in many ways be traced back to our Cold War policies: if you call yourself anti-Communist we’ll be your friend, regardless of how monstrous you are! Thus we cozied up to the Shah, armed Bin Laden, et cetera.

    Now we’re doing the same damn thing, only we befriend monsters in the name of fighting Islamic fascism rather than Godless Communism. Fifty years from now, what poisonous plants will grow up from the seeds we’re now sowing?

  17. Jennifer, try to keep up. The poisonous plant we seeded in the fight against militant Islamism is…Saddam Hussein’s mullah-blasting Iraq.

    Don’t worry, there is no possibility that this could bite us in the ass.

  18. Getting sleepy…sleeepy…sleeeeeeepeeeeeeee…

  19. joe,
    Good point.

    Jennifer,
    Jonathan Kwitny wrote a book about twenty years ago called “Endless Enemies” about that very issue. One of the examples he used of why to NOT get involved in the affairs of others was the Nigerian Civil War. Lots of people were saying we needed to support the Ibu because the Nigerian government had Soviet backing. We showed rare restraint and let events take their course. It was a pretty nasty war, but who can doubt that it would have been prolonged and even bloodier if we had chosen sides? The Ibu ended up getting a lot of what they were fighting for and the Nigerian government kicked the Soviets out after the war. Relations are now so good that Nigerians I have never met are continually wanting to put millions of dollars in my bank account.

  20. What could possibly go wrong when we befriend and support warlords in Central Asia and a Pakistani dictator?

  21. Good point, we never worked with former Nazis or others we defeated in any way. We just killed them all and that was that.

    Not content to criticize what the adminstration is doing at present, Jeff Taylor is now into pre-criticism, predicting not only what they may do is wrong, but that they’ll try to cover it up in a PR offensive. Me personally, I can’t wait for Taylor’s next article on Iraq where once again he screws it up and sides against freedom and democracy.

  22. Tire-
    If they do screw up and cover it up with PR, will you admit you were wrong?

  23. That’s funny, Tire. I’ve spent the better part of two years being called “pro-Baathist” because I didn’t support kicking them out of power (actually, I did, just not in exactly the way Bush went about it, but I imagine you’re not big on nuance).

    Now, I see that opposition to working with Baathists counts as being against democracy and freedom.

    I suppose this space is as good as any for you all to start apologizing to me.

  24. Joe-
    You’re turning an unhealthy shade of blue. You need to stop holding your breath.

  25. Jennifer,

    “Speaking of foolish consistency, consider this: this current Islamic terrorism problem can in many ways be traced back to our Cold War policies: if you call yourself anti-Communist we’ll be your friend, regardless of how monstrous you are! Thus we cozied up to the Shah, armed Bin Laden, et cetera.”

    The problem goes back even further. The entire Cold War resulted because we supported the Godless Communist Stalin in that little dust up he had with that German fellow. Why just think how much the world would be better today if we had just stayed out of it.

    You know, it’s almost as if real world decision makers are often forced to decide between bad and worse. It’s almost as if we must often choose between a big problem and slightly smaller one. It almost as if we traded Nazis for Communist, and then Communist for Islamist with each trade the problem getting a little bit smaller.

    Nah, couldn’t be that.

  26. Speaking of foolish consistency, consider this: this current Islamic terrorism problem can in many ways be traced back to our Cold War policies: if you call yourself anti-Communist we’ll be your friend, regardless of how monstrous you are!

    For the simple, utilitarian reason that there has never been, nor is there likely to ever be, anything more monstrous or murderous than Communism. A person who murders thousands and enslaves millions is preferable to a person who murders tens of millions and enslaves hundreds of millions.

    Thus we cozied up to the Shah, armed Bin Laden, et cetera

    The USSR killed more people during the average week of its existance than bin Laden has killed in the past decade. Communism was, as threats go, orders of magnitude greater than terrorism was. The terror threat we face today is trivial compared to the threat we faced during the Cold War.

    Allying with Islamists against the Soviet Union was not a mistake; failing to deal decisively with Islamic fascism *after* the Cold War was over was the mistake.

  27. Dan and Shannon,
    It started with Lincoln. If he had let the Confederacy go peacefully, Woodrow Wilson wouldn’t have become U.S. President. Wilson could not have intervened in WWI (Unless he became CSA President and did it, but the CSA would most likely not have had the power of a united USA.). There would have been no oppressive treaty giving rise to Hitler. Without a Hitler, no WWII. Without a WWII, less excuse for Roosevelt to help his buddy Joe S. out. Weaker USSR = no Afghanistan invasion. No Afghanistan invasion by USSR = no US support for the mujahedeen. Blah, blah. So, I guess you can still blame a Republican for the current situation.

  28. Actually, I think our Communist problem stemmed from the fact that we didn’t take advantage of the three-year period after World War Two and before Stalin got The Bomb. But the idea of trading threats downward does have merit. So I will rephrase my question: What poisonous plant that is still better than Islamic fascism will grow fifty years down the road, thanks to the evil guys we’re getting cozy with now?

    Seriously, though, if it’s okay for us to get cozy with murderers so long as our bigger political goals are therefore reached, why is it not acceptable for our enemies to do the same? Like the Sunnis and the Shiites, who both consider the other evil but are willing to hold their noses and stick together if by doing so they can also stick it to us.

  29. Anyway, my point about the occupation forces using former Nazis as policemen would be: Look at those Germans now. Facist lackeys in lock step with every imperialistic move we make.

  30. KentInDC,

    I thought the U.S. participation in WWI was minimal, at most, with its main purpose being to convince the Germans that there was a whole new group of bodies coming into the war of attrition. If the Allies had been able to win WWI without American help, it seems to me that Clemenceau would have been just as oppressive as he was, and we would have had very few changes. My knowledge of that time is quite limited, however, and I could be completely wrong.

  31. I believe the post 911 US policy goal is to try and replace totalitarian governments with democratic ones, no more he is an SOB but at least he is our SOB. Who knows if it will work but it is a fundamental policy shift that has not gotten the attention it deserves.

  32. Seriously, though, if it’s okay for us to get cozy with murderers so long as our bigger political goals are therefore reached, why is it not acceptable for our enemies to do the same?

    It is “okay” and “acceptable” to “get cozy” with murderers when the alternative is losing a war to much greater murderers; this was the situation we faced during the Cold War, the current war, and arguably World War II as well. Saying we do it for “bigger political goals” is misleading, and makes it sound like we’re Best Buddies with Mass Murderers in order Increase Funding for Our Schools. We’re making necessary alliances because we don’t want to die. That’s a “political goal” in the sense that “not getting raped to death in a dark alley” is a “lifestyle choice”.

    It is “okay” and “acceptable” to not be murdered or enslaved by Nazis, Communists, or Islamic fascists; it is “okay” and “acceptable” for the world to not be taken over by totalitarian systems of government. Now, is it also “acceptable” for Islamic fascists and genocidal Communists to seek allies? In a juvenile “let’s play fair now” touch-football sense, sure. But this isn’t a kids’ game, and neither was the Cold War. It is not, in point of fact, even “acceptable” that these people remain alive and free to act on their beliefs. Their death or surrender is what is “acceptable”.

  33. Dan-
    I’m actually not talking about teaming up with Stalin to fight Hitler; that clearly was a necessity. But I would like to know how our supporting the death squads in El Salvador kept us safe from Communism. (Hint: trick question.)

  34. If Jimmie Karter had responded appropriately to the hostage taking there might have been no 9/11 or any other assaults on U.S. interests. Jimmie told the Islamics that we could be had, so they had us.
    joe/Jenn they have medication for your condition[s] now. Please go back to group.

  35. I was wondering how long it would take for the inevitable insanity references to arise. It’s like discussing gay marriage with Santorum fans–you KNOW someone will equate gays with bestiality; it’s just a matter of when.

  36. Jennifer,

    Some day you will realize that gay marriage really DOES lead to bestiality. There was a time when I was living with another man, and that inevitably led me in a downward spiral toward bestiality. It wasn’t until I got herpes from my dog that I finally quit and became straight.

    Some day, your dangerously open mind may cause you to have sex with a woman. And from there, well, you’ll be on a very slippery slope that will inexorably lead you to have sex with your dog. Trust me.

  37. Well, Christ, Senator, if you’d just explained it like that before I wouldn’t have been so quick to insult you. It all makes so much sense now: gay people want to fuck animals, and anyone who opposes political deals with the devil is insane. (Speaking of which, I read a fun article in the Washington Post. Did you know our new friends in Uzbekistan have been known to boil people alive? Fortunately, they don’t say “Allah Akbar” while they do it.)

  38. Senator-
    I just read your Website and I have seen the light. (I never knew what your last name meant before!) That’s why I have decided to follow the advice of the following article, and “Build a Better Tomorrow by Hating Homos Today.”

    http://www.baddaystudio.com/evilbuildabetter.html

  39. I’m actually not talking about teaming up with Stalin to fight Hitler; that clearly was a necessity.

    Why? The Soviets were already at war with Germany; we had no reason to ally with them, or support them. Why not let them tear each other to pieces?

    I’m sorry, but there’s just no escaping the fact that we helped the Soviet Union survive World War II. That is arguably the worst thing the United States has ever done — even counting slavery and the “Indian Wars”.

    But I would like to know how our supporting the death squads in El Salvador kept us safe from Communism.

    Our support for anti-communist regimes in Central and South America restricted the spread of communist governments in that area. We had experimented with the “hands off” strategy in southeast Asia during the years following our abandonment of Vietnam; the result was the mass butchery of millions of Vietnamese, Cambodians, et al, the creation of millions of refugees, and the formation of numerous anti-American regimes in the area. The United States government made a rational calculation that allowing some right-wing thug to kill a few thousand innocent (and not-so-innocent) people was preferable to a repeat of those events in our own backyard.

  40. The problem with that theory, Dan, is that the Salvadoran, Hondoran, and Guatemalen anti-communists we supported were vastly greater butchers than their enemies.

    You have no evidence for that belief, since the communists never gained the power there that they gained in Asia and Eastern Europe. Obviously the anti-Communists killed more people; they held power. The question is: how many would the communists have killed?

    Look at Cuba, as a case in point: Batista killed hundreds of rebels and “suspected rebels”. Castro killed seventy-five thousand “counter-revolutionaries” and permanently impoverished millions of others — and, of course, implemented far greater restrictions on human rights, and nearly precipitated nuclear war. If you said, in 1958, “Batista is a greater butcher than Castro” — but you would have been correct only inasmuch as Castro hadn’t had the opportunities Batista had.

    Assuming every leftist regime is the Khmer Rouge is as silly as assuming every leftist regime is the Paris Commune

    Communist regimes were considerably more likely to be genocidal than they were to be intellectual, joe; there were numerous instances of the former, and none of the latter. Furthermore, the options weren’t “genocidal maniacs” and “ineffectual French intellectuals”; the options were “genocidal maniacs allied with the USSR and/or Red China” and “authoritarian allies of the USSR and/or Red China who only engage in the occasional murderous purge”. One hundred percent of communist countries fell between those two extremes, and neither was at all acceptable to the free world.

    I am not defending everything we did in Central and South America. But the simple truth of the matter is that communist Latin American governments killed a larger percentage of their populations than anti-communist Latin American nations did of theirs — and, at a world-wide scale, communist regimes killed one or two orders of magnitude more people than we and our allies did.

  41. Anyway, the justification for supporting those butchers was not some tortured humanitarian argument, but part of the rollback strategy.

    Heh! Pretty serious fuck-up on your part there, joe. “Rollback” was the process of converting communist regimes to non-Communist ones — our support of the contras and the Afghan rebels was part of this.

    “Containment” was the strategy of doing what it took to prevent any new countries from becoming Communist. It was as part of THIS strategy — which you credit with winning the cold war — that we supported the anti-communist regimes of Central and South America.

    Just as Reagan was ready to ramp up rollback, containment finally worked. Funny.

    But perhaps not as funny as the fact that you’re praising the very strategy that led us to “cozy up” to the “butchers” of El Salvador and Guatemala.

    Or, for that matter, as funny as the fact that it was only anti-communists and members of the political right who supported either containment or rollback. The left (save for the tiny number of anti-communist liberals remaining by the 1980s — most had been chased away, to the neo-con camp) favored strategies ranging from “let the chips fall where they may” to “communism is good, and should win”. The notion that we should prop up anti-Communist regimes around the world, regardless of their nature, wasn’t favored on the left. 🙂

  42. “Our support for anti-communist regimes in Central and South America restricted the spread of communist governments in that area.”

    Mmm. You need to bone up on current events in South America.

  43. Shawn,
    Actually, I think we were making the same point and, by the way, I am no expert in that era (or any other era), either. The US wasn’t the one insisting on harsh terms at the end of WWI. US intervention just put the pressure on the Germans to agree to the terms. I may be wrong, but I think that Churchill was of the opinion that the Union winning the American Civil War indirectly led to WWII because he believed that a smaller US would have been less likely to have gotten involved in WWI and certainly less likely to have tipped the balance if it did get involved.

  44. A marvelous flight of fancy, Dan. Back on earth…

    “You have no evidence for that belief, since the communists never gained the power there that they gained in Asia and Eastern Europe.” Taking the Sandinistas and Castro as examples, Latin American communism was much less abusive than Latin American fascism. The scale of the atrocities committed by American allies in Latin America dwarfs those carried out by the communist regimes that came to power in Nicaragua and Cuba – which is a pretty damning statement for El Salvador, Hondorus and Guatemala.

    “…communist Latin American governments killed a larger percentage of their populations than anti-communist Latin American nations did of theirs” is cute, because it lumps in democratic governments like Costa Rica and elected governments in South America in with the military dictatorships and Nazi sympathizers, in order to make the latter look better. The statement “fascist Latin American governments killed a greater percentage of their populations than anti-fascist governments” is equally true, and equally pointless. Similarly, “we and our allies” lets off Suharto and Pinochet by lumping them in with Portugal and Italy.

  45. Fuck up yourself. Your definition of containment leaves out the most important part – leaning on the Warsaw Pact countries, so they’d eventually collapse. Containment was never devised as a permanent holding effort, but as a strategy for winning, using the economy and politics as weapons. Berlin Wall speech? Solidarity? Lines in supermarkets? Arms treaties? Military spending? Is any of this ringing any bells?

    The Soviet Union most assuredly did not collapse because of what happened in Nicaragua, but what happened in Eastern Europe. The nun rapists your side send American money did nothing for the cause of anticommunism than dirty its hands and ruin its reputation. The moldy justification you offer for our government’s crimes in Latin America, that they furthered the great cause of bringing down communism, is as unconvincing as it is immoral.

  46. The problem with that theory, Dan, is that the Salvadoran, Hondoran, and Guatemalen anti-communists we supported were vastly greater butchers than their enemies.

    Assuming every leftist regime is the Khmer Rouge is as silly as assuming every leftist regime is the Paris Commune.

    Anyway, the justification for supporting those butchers was not some tortured humanitarian argument, but part of the rollback strategy. Which proved to be moot, since the Soviet Empire collapsed from the inside out (in places like Moscow, Berlin, and Gdansk), not the outside in. Just as Reagan was ready to ramp up rollback, containment finally worked. Funny.

  47. Jennifer-

    Well, at least they didn’t suggest that you have PMS, or any other sexist/patronizing remark.

    On this forum that counts as progress and civility!

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