Exit Stage Left

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The Nation has posted a passel of pieces by Jonathan Schell, Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky, and other lesser lefty luminaries that argue for US withdrawal from Iraq. Whole thing here.

The symposium is titled "How to Get Out of Iraq" so, needless to say, there isn't much variation on the theme. One interesting tension arises, however. Former CIA station chief Ray Close argues "There has to be regime change in Washington. It's the only way to solve the Iraq problem," while Jonathan Schell notes that Kerry is pledged to stay in Iraq.

As someone who was against the war and who feels the occupation has been going awfully (though not necessarily as catastrophically as many believe), I've got to say that none of these pieces provides a particularly strong case for "how to get out of Iraq" in a way that's either politically plausible or likely to make anything better there.

The closest anyone comes is, god help us all, sovietologist Stephen F. Cohen, who writes, "The only near-term and honorable way out is by linking a firm US commitment to a phased military withdrawal to an Iraqi popular election for a representative national assembly that would itself, not the occupation authorities or its appointees, choose an interim government, adopt a constitution for the country and then schedule elections for the new permanent institutions of government." Which is not all that different from what's likely to happen anyway.

NEXT: A Tsk-Tsk, a Casket

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  1. They left out Kumbaya and the heads rolling along the pavement.

  2. I do find it funny all the “Get out of Iraq now” folks never really had anyone to vote for yet were hard behind Dean (and now Kerry). Granted both opposed the war, but even Dean felt it was important to finish the job. I would say most on the left agree.

    I think we will stay for a while. The humanitarian left will say we have to stay for the sake of the Iraqi people and the hawkish right will insist we need to stay to clean out the terrorist elements and prove that we can finish the job (not to mention rebuild the MidEast and protect interests abroad).

  3. I meant funny interesting, not funny “ha ha.” Well, it could be funny “ha ha,” that just depends what you think of the “Get Out of Iraq Now” group.

  4. Get out now? Insanity! The current strife is nothing but an effort, by us, to release some pressure before the power transfer. Hopefully, Sadr will be defrocked,Faluja calmed and the abuse case forgotten by T-day. We’ve got three or four more countries to go, but without Iraq’s oil, the root country would be untouchable.

  5. 3 or 4 more countries to go?

    You’re scaring me, man.

  6. The “axis of evil” comment wasn’t just some sort of joke. I can see that our resolve is waning, and the purposeful burying of images from Sept. 11th is paying off.

  7. james-

    Are you saying we need to invade Iran, North Korea, and Syria because of 9/11? I ask because you mention the “axis of evil” and 9/11 in your post at 7:02 pm, and in your previous post you said some stuff about Syria.

    I wasn’t aware that any of those governments had anything to do with 9/11.

    Oh wait, drain the swamp, transform the world, and zero blowback. Right.

  8. CORRECTION TO PREVIOUS POST

    Delete all Syria references in the previous post. I got james confused with a guy I’m arguing with in another thread about Syria. I had a lot on my mind, and I sincerely apologize for the error.

  9. I can’t remember ever mentioning Syria in any postings, but Iran and North Korea are both hoping to be the first to blow the shit out of one of our major cities. If you are comfortable with that, fine. But I’d rather just kill everybody that cheered on Sept. 11th first and ask questions later.

  10. Thoreau, if all you can do is caricature people smarter than you, why bother?

    As far as the nitwits in the Nation, as usual they concentrate on the US as the center of the world’s evil making them recommend actions that will result in the savage deaths of millions. The blindness to morality, not to mention basic facts, make Chomsky et al are as predictable as they’re clueless.

  11. James-

    First, in regard to Syria, see the post that I wrote while you were writing yours. Sorry about that.

    Second, in regards to Iran, the situation is a little more complicated than a whole country simply waiting to destroy a US city. The Iranian theocrats are thoroughly despised. The reformist parties are the subject of skepticism for their lack of results, but the theocrats still had to rig the last election in order to win. The theocrats are scared. They know that if the US doesn’t eliminate them their own people will. I say let the Iranian people do the job.

    The Iranian gov’t isn’t seeking nukes to destroy a US city. They know exactly what would happen to them after the example that we made of the Taliban (and rightfully so!). They’re seeking nukes to deter us from doing what we did in Iraq.

    Anyway, I assume that within the next several years the Iranian people will have their own little 1776. Why not let them have the “do it yourself” experience?

    As to NK, I make no predictions about what will happen there.

  12. If the people free Iran it will only be the result of Iraq. The theocrats see the writing on the wall.

  13. james,
    Did you happen to miss this piece? Iran is not a problem we need to get in the middle of, at least not openly. Maybe some CIA work and financial support for pro-democracy groups. All military adventurism will do is set us back another 20 years in that country. If we sit back, let the people speak and change their own damn government and only offering minor assistance to democratic revolutionaries, we will be better off than if we go in and Iraqize the area.

    Iran concerns me not, North Korea concerns me more than Iraq ever did.

  14. Admittedly it’s impossible to say for sure what would have happened if we hadn’t invaded Iraq, but that applies to what I’m about to predict just as much as it applies to your post:

    If the US had not invaded Iraq, I would have still predicted that the Iranians will overthrow their government in the next several years. I also suspect that our invasion of Iraq either had no effect on the Iranian nuclear program, or else it made the acquisition of nukes even more urgent, not less urgent. Countries with a nuclear deterrent are less likely to be invaded.

    Why do I think an Iranian revolution is inevitable? Simple: The Iranians have voted resoundingly for reformists in recent years, and the gov’t has had to slowly loosen its grip over society. Iranians are becoming wealthier, and the youth are fairly well-educated. When people have more money, more education, and some experience with representative gov’t (even if that elected gov’t has little power), it is inevitable that they will eventually tell the unelected gov’t to go fuck itself. Sort of like the US did in 1776. We had experience with electing our own gov’t’s (colonial legislatures), we had considerable material wealth by the standards of the time, and eventually we decided that we could run our own affairs without England butting in.

  15. Mo,
    The whole point is that the lovely people of Iran, who prospered under Ross Perot, will finally insist on better times if their neighbors are seeing same.

  16. james: I coss-posted your 7:28 post, my post was in response to your 7:12 post. I agree with thoreau, from the Persians I know and the news I’ve read out of Iran in the last 8 years or so, we didn’t need Iraq for Iran to liberalize. If Iran becomes a democracy, this war won’t be the reason. If Iran gets nukes, this war will be part of the reason why. Heck, the North Koreans said that Iraq encourage them to increase the rate of devlopment of their nuke program. On the plus side, they want to be more diplomatic (albeit with nukes).

  17. the lovely people of Iran, who prospered under Ross Perot, will finally insist on better times if their neighbors are seeing same.

    When did Ross Perot rule Iran?

    And why would it take a free Iraq to motivate Iranians to demand reform? I’d say the election of Khatami, long before Bush started rattling the saber, demonstrates a strong desire for reform.

  18. Here’s another thought on James’ insistence that any reform in Iran will be the result of our invasion of Iraq:

    When I argue with hawks, it usually seems like they are incapable of considering the concept of blowback, where US foreign policy sometimes has negative consequences for the US. However, they are all very insistent that any positive outcomes in the Middle East will be directly attributable to our hawkish policies.

    It’s not so different from when leftists insist that any social problems in the US are because social programs aren’t sufficiently funded, but any progress made in the US is proof that social programs work. In both cases, it’s a mindset that insulates itself from any evidence that runs contrary to their beliefs.

    Maybe it isn’t a coincidence that many neocons used to be leftists…. 🙂

  19. Desire maybe, will? doubtful

  20. James-

    What makes you think that the Iranians had any less will to resist before we invaded Iraq? They had already elected a reformist government prior to the invasion of Iraq. Of course, that government was and is powerless against the theocrats who really run the place, and so the Iranians were and are seething with resentment. A few months ago there were student revolts in Tehran. It’s only a matter of time before some guy named Thomas Reza Jeffersonami pens “When in the course of human events…” and the whole thing comes crashing down on the Ayatollahs.

    When that happens, no doubt you will assign credit to George Bush’s invasion of Iraq. Me, I’ll assign the credit to the Iranians who actually did the deed, and impose a high burden of proof on any outsider who wants to take credit.

  21. When I argue with doves, especially the libertarian kind, it is usually becuase they have a grossly naive view of what motivates dictators and terrorists. Their dogged insistence that power projection only causes problems flies in the face of every bit of military history I can think of. Their belief that fighting wars on our own soil will simply never happen in the absence of power projection is more than a tad polly annish, and the concept of blowback is invoked to explain every event in American history with a frequency that borders on the autistic.

  22. “In his 9/11 Fatwa Bin Laden told us the three reason for the 9/11 attack:

    1. The American military in the Arabian Peninsula too close to Mecca. (This idiocy is at last ended)

    2.The blockade if Iraq.

    3. American government support for the Israeli government’s occupation of Palestinian land.”

    It’s funny how some people are willing to accept bin Laden at his word.

    A more probable reason is that the Saudi government choose the US over bin Laden and his merry men when Saddam’s Iraq was a serious threat to SA.

    The Iraq blockade / Palestinian references were probably just attempts to leverage Arab support post 9/11.

  23. Useless Pedant,

    It’s clear. Bin Laden’s reasons listed in the 9/11 Fatwa attack are consistent with previous Al queda complaints against US government Mid-east foreign policy. What makes you think that Bin Laden is crazy?

    I think that Nick Berg’s murder was indeed an act of payback and/or warning for Abu Ghraib but on this one, I’m only guessing.

    What makes you think that Bin Laden is crazy?

  24. To add to the above, one wonders why bin Laden didn’t attack, say, Saddam’s Iraq instead of the US–assuming his motivation was based upon things like the suffering of Iraqi Arabs. Or perhaps an attack on France or Russia, major supporters of Saddam (yes, yes, I know–Rummy’s visit with Saddam PROVES that America supported Saddam every bit as much as France and Russia).

    After all, Saddam butchered marsh Arabs in part to allow French oil interests access, and the Russians have been carrying on a brutal war against Muslim for some time now.

    Why attack the US, which: sided with the al Quada backed KLA in Kosovo, defended Muslims in Bosnia, liberated Kuwait, defended SA from a possible attack from Iraq, tried to hellp feed the people of Somolia, and armed the Afgan rebels against the Soviet invaders?

    Sure, we “tainted” SA when we defended it, and our motives in arming the Afgans may have included self interest. And in Somolia, we got caught up engaging the local warloards. Oh yeah, and we once supported the Shah of Iran (but Carter’s decision to withdraw and let the nasty Shah fall didn’t buy us much goodwill, did it?).

    The simple fact is, US actions with respect to Arabs and Muslims in general has been a mixed bag. For most of the post-WW2 period, our actions have been based upon Cold War thinking, and specific concearns for Arabs (and Persians, etc) has been basically a second thought. Any thoughtful person has to grasp this, and realize that the best approach for the Arabs vis the US is some form of constructive engagement–not terrorism or war. The fact that bin Laden (clearly an intellegent and knowledgable man) choose a radically different course suggests that something other than a rational evaluation of our forign policy directs his actions.

  25. “It’s clear. Bin Laden’s reasons listed in the 9/11 Fatwa attack are consistent with previous Al queda complaints against US government Mid-east foreign policy.”

    It’s my understanding that bin Laden never mentioned the Palestinian issue prior to the 9/11 Fatwa.

    In any case, why bin Laden’s sudden concearn for the Iraqi people? If he had such concearn for them, why not attack Saddam? Or Saddam’s supporters, Fance and Russia?

  26. Don,

    The suggestion you make doesn’t fit the evidence. Bin Laden’s reasons listed in the 9/11 Fatwa attack are consistent with previous Al queda complaints against US government Mid-east foreign policy.

    The extent of the tortured logic that people put forth to absolve the problem of our government’s hyper-interventionist foreign policy just amazes me.

  27. “And the KLA was fighting the Serbs. I don’t recall whether the KLA fought against the US troops sent to Kosovo, but certainly the KLA hasn’t flown any airplanes into US buildings. So I wouldn’t explain the KLA in terms of blowback against US policies. I might, if I knew more about it, explain KLA in terms of blowback against Serbian policies. Then again I might now.”

    The KLA–which has al Quada ties according to some sources–did a good job of playing the Clinton White House, and Albright in particular. The KLA provoked Serb attack in Kosovo to get the US, NATO, etc, involved.

    In the build up to Kosovo, mass murder was claimed–mass burials, etc. Yet in the aftermath, mass graves were not found. Something on the order of 2,000 dead–mostly in single graves–were found (unless more were subsequently found that I haven’t hear about). And not all of these represent Serb murders. This is similar to the lack of WMDs found in Iraq, although the media didn’t make much of the lack of justification in Kosovo.

    What is interesting is that in Kosovo, the US was doing the bidding of the KLA, an Islamic terrorist group. You would think that Islamic terrorists would credit us when we support them, but it seems that whatever we do we just provoke their rage.

  28. Don,

    For that matter, our government supported Saddam as well. I know that there was at least one pre 9/11 Fatwa that dealt with the Palestinian’s plight.

  29. “The suggestion you make doesn’t fit the evidence. Bin Laden’s reasons listed in the 9/11 Fatwa attack are consistent with previous Al queda complaints against US government Mid-east foreign policy.”

    The suggestion I make is that US forign policy cuts both ways with respect to Arabs and Muslims. After all, those on the left like to claim that the CIA supported bin Laden once-upon-a-time (not true in a direct sense, but we sure supported the general cause of Afgan resistance to the Evil Empire). While I think we can all agree that not every US policy has been good for Muslims, many of our policies have been very much intended in good will towards Muslims (Somolia, Kosovo, and the Afgan resistance come to mind).

    For bin Laden to attack the US because of US forign policy would be stupid if not insane–and I’m pretty sure bin Laden is neither of those things.

    I believe bin Laden hates us because he is green with envy. Green with envy of a decadent West that outstrips the Islamic East in, well, every way (except the production of suicide bombers). I think that this was capped off (or triggered) by the US defense of SA when Saddam invaded Kuwait.

  30. Don,

    “Any thoughtful person has to grasp this, and realize that the best approach for the Arabs vis the US is some form of constructive engagement… (and)suggests that something other than a rational evaluation of our forign policy directs his actions. “

    Even if it might work with the US government, that would assume that Bin Laden had some leverage for “constructive engagement” that he didn’t possess. Also, that conclusion requires that we ignore this demanding man’s own words.

  31. “It’s clear. Bin Laden’s reasons listed in the 9/11 Fatwa attack are consistent with previous Al queda complaints against US government Mid-east foreign policy.”

    And bin Laden did manage to end the embargo of Iraq . . .

    Really, bin Laden’s statements are designed to galvinize support in the Arab world. He’s not going to say: “we must kill the infadels because they are successful and we remain a backwater”.

  32. thoreau,
    “Either way, you’re attacking a strawman who blames every terrorist in the world on US policy. I only blame some terrorist attacks against the US on US policy.”

    You might give this article a read.

    http://chronicle.com/free/v50/i33/33b01201.htm

    The attitudes described in it are far more pervasive than the blowback theorists will ever let on. Yes, the US doesn’t have clean hands in every instance (who does ?) but the foremost tendency is to blame the US, ie throw stones at the local McDonalds (?) and protest outside US COnsulates etc, for no other reason than that it is a super-power & every outrage can be coonnected to the US in a tenuous 7 degrees manner. The only way around this is to
    1. Become poor and without influence
    2. Take “their” side and bomb the countries “they” want us to bomb.

  33. “Even if it might work with the US government, that would assume that Bin Laden had some leverage for “constructive engagement” that he didn’t possess. Also, that conclusion requires that we ignore this demanding man’s own words.”

    Bin Laden could have achieved a means of constructive engagement had he choosen another line of work. He is (was?) rich, well educated, speaks english, was connected in SA . . .

    He could have started the bin Laden news network. Or whatever. His choice.

    I’m not sure why we should take his words at face value. It’s not like he doesn’t have a reason to lie . . .

  34. “I believe bin Laden hates us because he is green with envy. Green with envy of a decadent West that outstrips the Islamic East”

    That kind of thing wouldn’t motivate an attack specifically against the US. Also, note one of their targets was the Pentagon.

  35. And before some mentions it –
    3. Become Switzerland.

  36. The Swiss have good chocolate, a high GDP, no wars, incredibly useful pocket knives, a very decentralized political system, excellent skiing, good scientists and engineers, iron-clad privacy, and overall a comfortable existence.

    Where do I sign up?

  37. “Really, bin Laden’s statements are designed to galvinize support in the Arab world.”

    “It’s not like he doesn’t have a reason to lie . . .”

    You’re pretending a perspective into bin Laden’s mind that you don’t have. He does not have a history of public lying and the Fatwas have always
    been a litany of demands and concerns.

  38. Where can I sign up our government to adopt the Swiss foreign policy?

  39. Taking Bin Laden at his word would be every bit as foolish as pretending that there’s zero information content in his messages.

  40. james ard:
    Get out now? Insanity!

    It would be insanity, and perpetuating a needless loss of American life if the government doesn’t get out now. Is it realistic to expect that our government can “make” the Iraqis any more free than say, the Egyptians? (where, btw our government spends billions for a brutal regime) How many more lives and how many more American lives is it worth?

    Jason Ligon:
    “the concept of blowback is invoked to explain every event in American history with a frequency that borders on the autistic.”

    Blowback explains 9/11 quite well.

  41. “For that matter, our government supported Saddam as well. I know that there was at least one pre 9/11 Fatwa that dealt with the Palestinian’s plight.”

    How did we support Saddam?

    Pre-Iranian Revolution, Saddam’s Iraq was essentially a Soviet client state. Post-Iranian Revolution, we did play Iran and Iraq against each other. Selling TOWs to Iran . . . providing Iraq with information on Iranian troop deployments.

    Post-Cold War, our relationship with Saddam was pretty much defined by Gulf War 1.

    To my knowledge, our “support” for Saddam was pretty much limited to the war between Iran and Iraq, where we took advantage of the fact two nations we didn’t like were busy killing each other. To put it in a different perspective, we supported Stalin much more than we ever did Saddam Hussain.

  42. we supported Stalin much more than we ever did Saddam Hussain

    Well I guess that makes it alright then.

    And they say that we doves are the moral relativists!

  43. “That kind of thing wouldn’t motivate an attack specifically against the US. Also, note one of their targets was the Pentagon.”

    The US represents the West more than any other nation today, so I disagree with your first point. Also, note that one of their (repeat!) targets was the WTC.

  44. RB: “You’re pretending a perspective into bin Laden’s mind that you don’t have. He does not have a history of public lying and the Fatwas have always
    been a litany of demands and concerns.”

    I don’t pretend to know much about his Fatwas, but I can clearly see a motive to lie. Bringing up issues like Palestine and the embargo (and now, US treatment of Iraqi prisoners) is useful as propaganda. That can be a critical point for someone like bin Laden, who needs some level of Muslim support to avoid death or capture.

    T: “Taking Bin Laden at his word would be every bit as foolish as pretending that there’s zero information content in his messages.”

    I’m not arguing that there is no information content. I am argueing that his rational for the attacks is basically propaganda. I also think that it is basically a lie, in that he has other reasons that are more basic or fundamental, he just knows that it’s best for him to keep them hidden. After all, if the basic issue at hand is what I believe, there isn’t much basis for being a “dove” (although one could still quible on statagy).

  45. “The Swiss have good chocolate, a high GDP, no wars, incredibly useful pocket knives, a very decentralized political system, excellent skiing, good scientists and engineers, iron-clad privacy, and overall a comfortable existence.”

    Together with a high degree of personal liberty including less gun control than many US states and cities.

  46. T: “Well I guess that makes it alright then.

    And they say that we doves are the moral relativists”

    My point is, the left seems to forget US (and the left’s!) support for Stalin, while focusing on US support for Saddam. That’s hypocritical of leftists in general, specifically the likes of Nation magazine (and no, I don’t think RB is a leftist per say, although I do think this might apply to other posters on this site . . .). Saddam was never anything more than a lesser evil, while many in the US thought Stalin was a great man. Yet Stalin was responsable for much more suffering.

    Now, more on US support for Saddam:

    It really starts with our support for the Shah of Iran (who, unlike Saddam, we really supported). Carter decided to withdraw support for the Shah, since the Shah was such a nasty fellow. The result was the Iranian Revolution, and the first real success of Radical Islamics (bravo Jimmy!). This also resluted in the loss of important US bases duing the height of the Cold War (bravo Jimmy!). It resulted in a fundamentalist hell for many Iranians (bravo!), and it also resulted in Saddam attacking Iran (since Iran was neither a US nor Soviet client state–bravo!), and this resulted in millions of deaths (bravo again, Jimmy!).

    The Reagan administration, with an actual grasp of reality, took full advantage of the Iran Iraq War, supporting both sides to some extent, but primarly supporting Iraq. Given the nature of fundamentalist Iran, I don’t find this surprising or particularly wrong. And I wouldn’t classify this as support for Saddam so much as opposition to fundamentalist Iran.

    Countries like France and Russia, by contrast, supported Saddam either because they liked the guy, or because they were lining their own pockets. Our “support” was specific to the Iran Iraq War.

  47. I strongly admire the Swiss political system. They also have a consensus based political system where all 4 major parties find a compromise on most policies, and where the Cabinet has representatives from the 3 major linguistic groups. Overall, we could learn a thing or 2 from the Swiss.

  48. And the Swiss president has virtually no power.

  49. Yea, lets all be Swiss. We can be the storehouse for all the dirty money in the world and never have to question how much blood may be on it.

  50. Well, it’s not like our hands are so clean. We fund a lot of heinous people, and then later on we declare war on them. Kind of convenient, no?

    Who’s worse: The banker who asks no questions of his clients, or the politicians who fund monsters and then later tell the country that we must go to war against these monsters? Especially if going to war against the monsters means that a whole new generation of monsters get funded?

  51. Thoreau,
    There you go again.

  52. Seriously, though, leaving aside the issue of Swiss neutrality and foreign policy, there are plenty of other aspects of their political system that many people here might like. e.g. privacy protections, federalism, etc.

    Not to mention that they have a major party (the Free Democrats) with a quasi-libertarian platform. This party enjoys a substantial share of seats in both houses of their parliament, and it has 2 of the 7 Cabinet seats.

  53. Yea, lets all be Swiss. We can be the storehouse for all the dirty money in the world and never have to question how much blood may be on it.

    Switzerland has also been a haven where refugees of all types could find haven for centuries.

  54. Blowback explains Sept. 11th? And I suppose blowback explains Abu Sayaf, the Chechen rebels, the KLA, and every other active islamist operation marring world peace. The U.S. is not the cause of everything that’s wrong with the world. Take us out of the picture and there will still be plenty of death and destruction to go around, probably more. You Nation readers need to come up with some new America hating, anti-capitalist arguments, the old ones are growing tiresome.

  55. I’m having a problem with, what I see as, a dangerous intellectual inconsistency on the part of the pro-war agenda ala the recent beheading/apologies/Abu Ghraib

    I mean this with all sincerity because I’m looking for someone to connect some dots for me.

    1. One of the primary rationales for invading Iraq, after getting rid of Saddam and freeing the Iraqi people, has been to establish a basis for democracy to flourish in the middle east.

    2. One of the major talking points by Hannity, Rush and Bobby Eberle @ GOPUSA.com (and others)has essentialy been (to paraphrase)”To hell with apologies. The pictures of Abu Ghraib shock Americans but they don’t change any of the Arab opinions of us because they hate us already. Apologies only make us look weak to them. We need to come down hard because that’s the only thing they respect.”

    Now, I don’t pretend to know enough about middle eastern culture to know if that’s true or not but…

    3. Conclusion – If the middle east, as a group, consists predominately of people who already hate us, hate our culture, hate our government and hate everything about us, how can we hope to accomplish anything in Iraq.

    Personally, I DON’T think we should be high-tailing it and getting out of Iraq.

    Whatever one thinks about the wisdom of going over there in the first place, I think now the consequences of leaving would be far more disasterous than trying to manage an admittedly difficult task. Right now, the only thing the U.S. has going for it is resolve ala the Bush administration. I don’t like or trust Bush but I like and trust the alternatives less.

    But it seems that elements of the right painting the entire middle east with the same “they all hate us” brush is not going to help make the case for sticking it out – either with the American OR middle eastern people.

  56. james ard:

    “Blowback explains Sept. 11th?”

    The overwhelming evidence is that then 9/11 happened as a direct result of our government’s hyper-interventionist foreign policy, Visa a vie the Mid-East: In his 9/11 Fatwa Bin Laden told us the three reason for the 9/11 attack:

    1. The American military in the Arabian Peninsula too close to Mecca. (This idiocy is at last ended)

    2.The blockade if Iraq.

    3. American government support for the Israeli government’s occupation of Palestinian land.

    http://www.ict.org.il/articles/fatwah.htm

    “The U.S. is not the cause of everything that’s wrong with the world.”

    I certainly agree. The criticism here is directed at our government’s hyper-interventionist foreign policy, not America in general. Huge difference. In fact, much of what is RIGHT with the world is due to American free enterprise.

  57. The phrase is vis a vis, not “visa a vie.” You look increasingly retarded every time you use it, like a dumb person trying to sound smarter than he really is.

    On another note, you consider that Osama Bin Laden a truthful, trustworthy fellow, do ya? Couldn’t be that he belongs to a radical religious sect dedicated to the subjugation of infidels, and will seize upon any excuse to commit his ongoing jihad, could it? Naaaaah. That’s just outrageous.

  58. james ard,

    Your mention of the KLA makes my point:

    According to the New York Times, then Secretary of State Madeleine Albright promised the KLA leadership that in exchange for its signatures on the Rambouillet peace accord, “Officers in the Kosovo Liberation Army would ? be sent to the United States for training in transforming themselves from a guerilla group into a police force or a political entity, much like the African National Congress did in South Africa.”

    “We want to develop a good relationship with them as they transform themselves into a politically oriented organization,” declared deputy State Department spokesman James Foley. “We want to develop closer and better ties with this organization.”

    http://www.thenewamerican.com/tna/1999/05-24-99/vo15no11_kla.htm

  59. The phrase is vis a vis, not “visa a vie.” You look increasingly retarded every time you use it, like a dumb person trying to sound smarter than he really is.

    On another note, you consider that Osama Bin Laden a truthful, trustworthy fellow, do ya? Couldn’t be that he belongs to a radical religious sect dedicated to the subjugation of infidels, and will seize upon any excuse to commit his ongoing jihad, could it? Naaaaah. That’s just outrageous.

  60. The phrase is vis a vis, not “visa a vie.” You look increasingly retarded every time you use it, like a dumb person trying to sound smarter than he really is.

    On another note, you consider that Osama Bin Laden a truthful, trustworthy fellow, do ya? Couldn’t be that he belongs to a radical religious sect dedicated to the subjugation of infidels, and will seize upon any excuse to commit his ongoing jihad, could it? Naaaaah. That’s just outrageous.

  61. Jason Ligon:
    “the concept of blowback is invoked to explain every event in American history with a frequency that borders on the autistic.”

    Blowback explains 9/11 quite well.

    Well, that settles it, I guess.

    “Blowback, definitely blowback.”

    Among the many things wrong with this explanation is the notion that there are no negative consequences to sitting on your hands. The world would definitely be a better place with all of the jews driven into the ocean and the KGB appointing all of the leaders in the developing world, with the soviets killing Afghanistanis by the thousands, and so on.

    “Shhh! As long as we don’t move a muscle or look them in the eye, the murderous Islamic nutbars will leave us alone! As long as we let them dictate world events with threats of terror, there won’t be any … blowback!”

    I don’t even disagree that US foreign policy in the post cold war era is more interventionist that it should be, but it is completely naive to act as though we should just stay home all the time so that nobody will ever get mad at us. I frankly don’t care what excuse OBL gives for 9/11. If there are things we shouldn’t be doing, we can certainly modify those policies – but we do so over the stinking corpses of anyone who would bomb us, pay for a bomb to be used on us, or give any form of aid or protection to a bomber.

    Reasoning with a man who has just punched you in the face is not a way to provide security for your self. Knocking him the hell out, then reasoning with him works much better.

  62. Useless Pedant,

    “visa a vie”: Thank you, it was a typo perpetuated by “copy and paste”.

    This is not a consideration of Bin Laden’s general honesty. Assuming he would not be tell the world the real reasons in the 9/11 Fatwa is silly and with out basis. You’re just trying to absolve the government’s hyper-interventionist foreign policy, despite the evidence.

  63. And the Carnak award goes to . . . Rick Barton! Please don’t try to read my mind or ascribe to me motivations that I do not hold.

    What’s your basis for assuming that bin Laden would tell the truth? Or, assuming arguendo that he would, that his reasons are worth entertaining? Crazy people often want all kinds of stuff that we should not be inclined to indulge them for.

    Do you really think Nick Berg’s murder was payback for Abu Ghraib, or that it just provided convenient pretext?

  64. And I suppose blowback explains Abu Sayaf, the Chechen rebels, the KLA, and every other active islamist operation marring world peace

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but the Chechen rebels are fighting Russia, not the US. Without knowing more about the situation, it’s hard for me to say whether their actions are at least in part blowback againt Russia. Certainly I wouldn’t invoke blowback against the US to explain them.

    And the KLA was fighting the Serbs. I don’t recall whether the KLA fought against the US troops sent to Kosovo, but certainly the KLA hasn’t flown any airplanes into US buildings. So I wouldn’t explain the KLA in terms of blowback against US policies. I might, if I knew more about it, explain KLA in terms of blowback against Serbian policies. Then again I might now.

    Either way, you’re attacking a strawman who blames every terrorist in the world on US policy. I only blame some terrorist attacks against the US on US policy.

  65. Why the “god help us all” in front of Stephen F. Cohen? I’ve seen him occasionally on Charlie Rose and know that he was very critical of Yeltsin – but I’m not familiar with his writings. What has he written in the past to earn this?

  66. “Well, it’s not like our hands are so clean. We fund a lot of heinous people, and then later on we declare war on them. Kind of convenient, no?”

    Funding questionable people in the fight against communism was, on balance, a good thing.

    We were right to aid the Afgan resistance (even if some of them were Islamic radiacals). We were right to fund various anti-communist countries in Africa, South America, Central America, and Asia. Most of them were not nice, but they were almost always better than the alternative. And, oh yeah, we were right to fund the Contras.

    On the other hand, Carter’s decision to remove support for the Shah was a disaster. As was the decision to remove support for Batista.

  67. thoreau,

    What is your plan for getting a truly representative government in Iran?

    A lot of Iranians are praying for an American invasion. Quite a few Americans are praying for the same as well. There is a need for some haste in solving those problems you have neglected for so long.

    In any case please solve these problems before the American government does. Here is your to do list:

    Syria
    Iran
    Saudi Arabia
    Sudan

    Once you get those places cleaned out I will have a few others that need help. But by then you will be experienced and it will be easy. Perhaps you could get some UN help. They could steal the food money and orchestrate any genocides or ethnic cleansings that need to be done. Being the UN no one will mind starving children or a few million dead at their hands. As opposed to the howling that accompanies Americans killing a few thousand.

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