Democracy in Iraq

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According to recent polls, as reported in the Washington Post, 46 percent of Iraqis support rebel Shiite leader Moqtada Sadr for an assembly seat–only one percentage point less than the support for U.S.-backed Prime Minister Ayad Allawi.

Excerpt from the Post story:

Leaders of Iraq's religious parties have emerged as the country's most popular politicians and would win the largest share of votes if an election were held today, while the U.S.-backed government of interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi is losing serious ground, according to a U.S.-financed poll by the International Republican Institute.

More than 45 percent of Iraqis also believe that their country is heading in the wrong direction, and 41 percent say it is moving in the right direction.

Within the Bush administration, a victory by Iraq's religious parties is viewed as the worst-case scenario. Washington has hoped that Allawi and the current team, which was selected by U.S. and U.N. envoys, would win or do well in Iraq's first democratic election, in January…..

"The picture it paints is that, after all the blood and treasure we've spent and despite the [U.S.-led] occupation's democracy efforts, we're in a position now that the moderates would not win if an election were held today," said a U.S. official who requested anonymity….

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  1. More than 45 percent of Iraqis also believe that their country is heading in the wrong direction, and 41 percent say it is moving in the right direction.

    Like America, Iraq has been cleary Bushwhacked!

  2. Why should this be a surprise to anyone but the most wishful of Wilsonians? Algeria already set a pretty solid precedent, and their civil society in 1992 was clearly better off than modern-day Iraq’s.

    As un-PC as it is to say it, rulers like Jordan’s King Hussein and the Al-Maktoum family of Dubai may be the best that you can hope for in much of the Arab world over the short-term. I’d love to be proven wrong, of course, but I doubt that I will.

  3. That “wrong direction” would be what? Democracy? And it would be improved by electing radical fanatics? Beware what you wish for, Iraqis…

  4. Considering that the Shiite community just came together under the leadership of his rival to kick his ass out of their shrine, and no Sunni or Kurd would ever vote for him, I find these poll numbers completely incredible. In the dictionary sense of the term.

    This would indicate either that he as a substantial base of support among Sunnis and Kurds, which is highly, highly unlikely, or that he is a very popular figure among Shiites, which flies in the face of recent history.

  5. Maybe they’ve been polling in Sadr City too much.

  6. I’d like to see how they determine likely voters.

  7. R.C. Dean,

    Whether you like it or not, Sadr does have significant support in Iraq; people on the ground there have been saying this for months.

  8. ‘That “wrong direction” would be what? Democracy?’

    Yes, Hans, Democracy. They’re sitting in their homes, listening nervously, and complaining about all the god damned democracy.

  9. PLEASE don’t use Algeria as an example.

    The reason they are so suspect of “Democracy” is simple. We have demonstrated what it means. Arrest pretty much anyone you want, stick glowsticks up their a…, close down newspapers. I heard one Iraqi say the only differences between US occupation and Saddam was: Saddam kept the power running, and only killed you privatley. The US can’t keep the power running, and pretty much kills (and sticks glowsticks up the a… of) anyone, any time, any place.

    So really, when we set such a fine example, why don’t they want what we offer? What a bunch of ungrateful fools.

  10. This would indicate either that he as a substantial base of support among Sunnis and Kurds, which is highly, highly unlikely, or that he is a very popular figure among Shiites, which flies in the face of recent history.

    Or possibly they are facing that the only way to get the US out of Iraq is to use the vote to elect a non-backed pol who could be later defeated in a coup. In other words, play the game the way the US wants you to and when the US leaves thinking victory, change the rules of the game and play again.

  11. I find these poll numbers completely incredible.

    i find it more useful to fit my perception of events to credible data, rather than the other way around, mr dean. 🙂 it shoudln’t be too surprising; al sadr, like many others, is fighting specifically to position himself for iraqi political power. the best way to establish credibility now among the masses that hate american occupation is to resist the americans. many other things can be forgiven for that.

    The reason they are so suspect of “Democracy” is simple. We have demonstrated what it means. Arrest pretty much anyone you want, stick glowsticks up their a…, close down newspapers. I heard one Iraqi say the only differences between US occupation and Saddam was: Saddam kept the power running, and only killed you privatley. The US can’t keep the power running, and pretty much kills (and sticks glowsticks up the a… of) anyone, any time, any place.

    i fear, mr skeptikos, that this is true for a large and increasing number. i, like many, go out of my way to pick up what iraqis in the main are thinking — documentary films, interviews, blogs, whatever i can find — and my impression is that this is what not only iraqis but arab muslims in general fear in the west.

    it seems to me that they accept and desire changes we would consider positive; but they fear american-style no-rules “freedom” and an economy dominated by american corporations.

  12. Whether you like it or not, Sadr does have significant support in Iraq; people on the ground there have been saying this for months.

    Ralph Nader has significant support in the United States; I’d still be really skeptical of a poll that showed him in a dead heat with Bush and Kerry.

    In any event, the major threat posed by extremists is that, once elected, they would abolish the democratic government. That cannot happen so long as we have troops, there, and we’ll have troops there for decades to come — so the worst-case scenario is that the Iraqs punish themselves with a few years of Sadr, then elect a more moderate replacement a few years down the road.

  13. posed by extremists

    mr dan, i think that, from the iraqi point of view, it’s very hard to make the case that al-sadr is an *extremist*. a thug, perhaps — but so is former hitman allawi.

    it must be said: fighting the american occupation is not prima facie extremism. most mainstream iraqis detest the occupation and americans even if they are grateful to be rid of saddam.

    al-sadr was, before all this started, a significant shiite cleric in iraq with some cross-sectional appeal. with those credentials, compounded by the populist appeal of being a leader of the resistance, you have a post-occupation political candidate — which is as he designed it, i suspect.

  14. Morons! What democracy would elect a fundamentalist meglomaniac as president? I bet their elections will just be corrupted anyways- I mean, they’re saying that a population in Iraq that is roughly equivalent to Florida’s may not even be able to vote in January…thank god we’ve worked out all the kinks in our system and have become so damn secular in picking our leaders!

  15. Dan,

    …and we’ll have troops there for decades to come…

    Such prognosticating amounts to guessing.

  16. “…and we’ll have troops there for decades to come…”

    That prospect would not bode well for the Iraqis, and would increase the chances our government would attack yet another nation (Iran-Syria) with out just cause. Also, our troops being stationed in Iraq for so long will increase our risk of terrorist attack. The only fair and sensible thing to do now is to bring them home immediately.

  17. “In any event, the major threat posed by extremists is that, once elected, they would abolish the democratic government.”

    Whom do you mean by extremist? Is Sistani supposed to be a moderate in this context?

    “Considering that the Shiite community just came together under the leadership of his rival to kick his ass out of their shrine, and no Sunni or Kurd would ever vote for him, I find these poll numbers completely incredible.”

    I find it incredible that Yasser Arafat is popular among Palestinians, but every time Israel mounts another incursion, that’s what he is.

  18. Any poll which doesn’t qualify itself with an error margin of at least plus or minus 10 percent is suspect.
    Who’s out knocking on doors with a clipboard when all but the bravest of Al Jazeera is hunkering down in or near the Green Zone?

    Talk about spin!

    I mean this 41, 46, etc. make me want to projectile vomit.

  19. Ruthless,

    Maybe they’re polling the wounded.

  20. I don’t know, I’m just amazed. Major story a short while back, how even Wall Street Journal reporters are being restricted from telling us the truth…everyone tries to tell you raping civilians in MP jails has no effect, “Iragi’s don’t mind being raped” apparently.

    Guess what? Unlike americans, most contries do not find you civilized, or democratic if you rape prisoners. And speaking from Chicago, it’s pretty common knowledge that prison rape is accepted, even encouraged…(I used to keep a running total of States Attornies who would refer to this as a positive thing in public, once my number reached 40, I was too disheartened to continue).

    WE ARE NOT BRINGING THEM DEMOCRACY. Just a pro US government. If you don’t know the difference, just check out those Kissinger tapes. The last thing Bush (or for that matter Kerry) wants to do is bring democracy to Iraq. They just want what every Roman wants. Obedient sand n…..r’s.

  21. No doubt it sounds like I’m speaking out of my a…

    But I actually know an activest who spent a year in an Egyption jail, and later 2 months here in one or ours.

    Personally I was surprised when he was glad to get back to civilazition in Egypt. If only he had been white, no doubt his experience here would have been different. But we only like to tell about other countries. We don’t like it here when reporters are honest and describe us as the kind of people who let cops rape people in bathrooms with brooms (even in Saudi Arabia this is frowned on, while here it is celeberated)

  22. Democracy is argumentum ad populum. No wonder it doesn’t work. The US, thank god, is still not a full democracy. So why the fuck are we trying export a completely irrational political system we don’t even use ourselves.

  23. I think JDOG just nailed it. Democracy does not work. Period. The ‘constitution’ (whether formal or informal) in ‘constitutional democracy) is what keeps a democracy from collapsing into class/race/religion/whatever warfare. Without it, and a respect for the law, I don’t see how a democratic country could flourish.

    But noone (from what I’ve seen) is all that interested in promoting a Constitutional Democracy in Iraq. From what I’ve read of their ‘constitution’, it’s far from clear that any limits will be placed on the powers of the state. And that’s a recipe for disaster.

  24. Please.
    Poll a tribe and what do you get?
    Tribalism.

  25. How does one get accurate polling data in Iraq anyway? The phones aren’t working (and phone data would be unreliable anyway), and I doubt anyone is walking around with an unarmed clipboard at the neighborhood car bombing.

    Much as I hate to say it, Iraq was probably better off under Saddam… an equal opportunity villian, to be sure, but at least he ran a secular state, the precursor to a modern democracy.

  26. well, didn’t Rumsfeld just say to the Iraqis might have to settle for a restricted election if every part of the country isn’t considered safe enough. Somehow i think that the Shiite-parts will be among the less-than-safe-enough ones

  27. We don’t like it here when reporters are honest and describe us as the kind of people who let cops rape people in bathrooms with brooms (even in Saudi Arabia this is frowned on, while here it is celeberated)

    Yeah, in Saudi Arabia they reserve their celebrations for people who mass-murder Americans or Jews. By the way — can you name even one cop whose rape of a prisoner was celebrated by a majority of Americans? Just one, please. You claim it happens frequently, so obviously there should be little trouble naming hundreds of celebrated rapists; but I’ll settle for just one, to start with.

    Still, your argument that our prisons are especially horrific and inhuman certainly puts a new light on the complaints about us transferring prisoners to foriegn jails. Previously I had actually made the “mistake” of believing that we were doing this because the prisoners were easier to torture in places like, for example, Saudi Arabia. I had “mistakenly” believed that we were violating those prisoners’ rights by transferring them to places where they could be tortured. But now that I know that Saudi prisons are paradises compared to ours, and the *real* torture takes place here in America, well, I can see that all those human rights objections were completely off-base. Obviously the only moral thing to do is to transfer as many of our prisoners as possible to those nice, Arab-dictator-run prisons in the Middle East.

  28. I guess I just stumbled into the wrong country browsing this site; we should all get out there to see who’s in those secret mass-graves Janet Reno had going ….
    Is our Social-democracy an the wane? poor babies.

    “Much as I hate to say it, Iraq was probably better off under Saddam….”
    Well, since a dictator is the religion, I guess ‘secular’ is what you make of it. He made his death train run on time. Are you missing lunch yet?
    If it doesn’t really matter, we should all vote for Al Sharpton and just watch the show.

    If any of you sad-sacks had been in San Francisco from 1942 to 45 you might know something, looks like not.
    This thread nearly all reads like a lame critique of Lord of the Flies. Get real or move to France.
    Or maybe that should be ‘Wake up and Die right.’

  29. “If any of you sad-sacks had been in San Francisco from 1942 to 45 you might know something, looks like not.”

    This may be the most complete non sequitur ever posted to H&R, and that’s saying alot…

  30. America–Fuck Yeah!

  31. SR::
    Get your brains off full-auto.
    Your Latin is not much better than your English comprehension, but that doesn’t say much.
    If you put down your caffe Latte for a minute you might find out what was happening in that neighborhood in those years — as if 9-11 was the first time we’ve had attacks on our soil, or people were incensed by it.
    The blather here is Clintonesque, much like Reason itself: unreal.
    There are some people, you should know, that were not born yesterday.
    You can have it.
    Bye.

  32. SR::
    Stop digging: evident, without proof or reasoning, has little to do with what does or does not logically follow — your comprehension of English is not even consistent with your loose vocabulary. The words actually mean something.
    You do not know what your are talking about. That is the heart of the problem. No need to look anything up there.

    It seems your ideas of the test of a person and the tests of freedom are to be called out like this over inanities. Pathetic.
    And you want to talk about world affairs?
    That is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.
    Go learn something.
    Get it?
    -30-

  33. Dexter, when you learn to compose complete grammatically-correct sentences, I’ll start taking your advice on logic and writing seriously. As of right now, I’m inclined to believe that you are either a bot or someone who is running his posts through the Grazulis: http://web.ukonline.co.uk/gary.leeming/burroughs/cutup_machine.htm

  34. Democracy has as much to do with freedom as Saddam had to do with 9-11.
    But it’s all spin for the consumption of American voters.

  35. All right, Dexter, I’ll just come right out and ask: What happened in San Francisco from 1942 to 1945? How does it relate to Saddam and Iraq?

  36. i’m guessing that dexter refers to the obvious:

    SF bay area would be the largest population center near where our homeland was struck, after which we went after the perpetrators AND hitler– who had nothing to do with pearl harbor

    anyone who knows better naturally scoffs at the new reason editorial line that a return to clintonism will restore the halcyon days

  37. The question of whether or not Iraq is better off without Saddam Hussein sounds like something Kissinger might have discussed in regards to Cambodia way back when. Iraq may very well explode into civil war, and until we know whether it will, I don’t see how anyone can say whether or not Iraq is better off without Saddam Hussein.

    Indeed, I don’t know how anyone so safe and cozy here in the United States can say whether or not it was worth it to the Iraqis even if there isn’t an Iraqi civil war. President Lincoln thought the American Civil War was worth all the bloodshed, and, as an American from the South, I think it was too. Try to imagine, if you will, how 19th Century Americans would have felt listening to the Iraqis of the time talking about whether all the bloodshed in the American Civil War was worth it or not. Maybe the Iraqis of tomorrow will think it was all worth it and maybe they won’t; either way, it’s not for us to say.

    I think we should talk about whether or not the United States is better off for having invaded Iraq. Does Iraq present less of a terrorist threat to the United States now than it did before we invaded?

    …The answer is no.

  38. eponymous,

    I thought it might have something to do with internment camps, but your guess is as good as mine.

  39. “Does Iraq present less of a terrorist threat to the United States now than it did before we invaded? ”

    Ken, I’m a southerner, and I’ll be damned if bloodthirsty Abe’s demented folly was worth it!

    The South during the US Civil War and Iraq today are meat-grinders, not threats.

  40. Tim Cavanaugh – eponymous – Ken Shultz::
    To start, San Francisco was beset with the turmoil of the fear of FDR leading the country into a dictatorship, the threat of bombardment and shelling by the Japanese as seen in the surrounding area from Goleta to Fort Stevens, Oregon, as well as the fear of incendiary bomb raids and gas attacks in The City together with martial law and spies. All lives were disrupted in ways that the current population prefers to retain an imperturbable ignorance.
    Prior to that the people were free and at liberty to enjoy life only limited by an increasingly oppressive government Local State and Federal. One might see the tape merely played backward to have an approximate vision of the process in Iraq.
    That is the short form of ‘if you want the obvious, you get the obvious.’ however, it goes deeper than that.

    There is greater diversity seen in historical America than what we see today, because it was individuated — there was no concept of ‘group rights’ and such polarizations to make up clusters of political power to be manipulated as we see today. Overall there was greater unity because of that, an national identity. There was much much less simpering ‘woe is me’ism, as was manifest in what I first read. We did not have one third of the population relying upon direct support from government today and that is also a part caught in the changes.
    We did not have the hopes or fears of freedom here then as we do today, it is not the same as the hopes and fears of those in Iraq, so vastly different than they were just a few years ago.
    Little things. There is now a revolution going in both countries. Though theirs is more physical, ours is no less awesome.

    But mainly, the point still being: all that resides in my reference, is completely knowable as historically documented and within living memory yet is completely ignored. What kind of conjecture can be believed if such a thing as that has not even been examined by one who would wish to speculate? To what, by whom, to surrender what control and for what? sleeping in it all.

    The idea that we could look at the War Between the States is a good parallel except in that case we would have to rely solely upon what has been written down or other dead and remote sources. The insight that it does give makes for the improvement in the nature of the questions asked; even though I just do not happen to agree with the conclusion offered there, it has valid cause for discussion and something to appreciate in a discourse.
    We have an opportunity and advantage to witness the making of history, should it be thrown aside for a ‘discussion’ of toilet training? Whatever you wish. But just wishing does not make it so. The Iraqis are living it. People are dead and dying so that we can have our little talks.
    Thanks for the fish guys.

  41. Dexter,
    As luck would have it–good, bad?–the missus and I will be flying on the about to declare bankruptcy airline, Delta, during the about to be interrupted by terrorism elections here in the US of A, from Sinincincinnati to SF tomorrow morn.
    If you need a hug, post same here.
    I’ll be checking in from Napa.
    We have an open schedule, and can administer to your needs.

    Don’t you just love Jason Raimondo of AntiWar.Com?

  42. Ruthless::
    All my wants and needs are fully met, thanks.
    I have never heard of, or read anything by, Jason Raimondo, so shall give it a look. Thanks again.

    Have a good trip.

  43. Dexter,

    I maintain that the worthiness of a war, be it the American Civil War or the War in Iraq, can only be determined by those who made the sacrifices and by their posterity. Was it worth the sacrifice to topple Saddam? Let’s leave it to the Iraqis to figure out whether or not it was worth it for them; we’ll figure out whether it was worth it for us.

    Now let’s see, it cost America more than a thousand lives. What did we get in return?

    I’ve seen everything from Anarchists to Culture War Republicans in this forum. I’ve found that what’s obvious to me isn’t always obvious to everyone else. If you want people to understand your point, given the diversity of views represented here, it’s often necessary to state the obvious.

    Ruthless,

    I shall never forget what Sheridan did to the Shenandoah Valley; only God can forgive him for what he did to its people.

  44. It’s *Justin* Raimondo, actually.

  45. Ken Shultz ::

    Fair enough.

    “…it cost America more than a thousand lives. What did we get in return?”

    That has been a question that most try to reduce to numbers, as if the magnitude would help to decide before the outcome can be seen, to enable a prediction. Unfortunately it is not just a matter of numbers at all.
    There is no moral or ethical calculus. The differences cannot always be reduce to a simple right or wrong.
    What we have is the United States under threat from abroad as well as from within, again, not to be mistaken for some kind of first time. But how much did we lose in Mogadishu besides 18 dead and 79 wounded Americans, how much did we win on Omaha Beach losing 3000 in one day; these are not questions of number.
    Throughout much of the 90s the typical dark paranoia was set aside just for children while adults took on the glow of those so enrapt with a paranoia not seen so extravagant since the 60s.
    The war in Vietnam, which took so many lives, was not lost on the battlefield (not even in the war-room) but was a loss through the destruction of the morale of even the buck privates and the effect of the media on the morale of America; the impact still lingers on to this day.

    So we right now are not the Paper Tiger, since we have been attacked that spell was broken, but we hear echoes of that earlier time where guilts and fears bubble up as if to obscure all that must be denied about the pressing realities. The cold war did not end with the fall of the Soviets. The decentralization within an array of enemies means only an adjustment in perception and our security is not enhanced by self preoccupation with domestic concerns and love of pseudo-sciences. The threat of Terrorism is real.

    So, for all that, what and where do we find justification for self defense, real or even imagined. Survival.
    We get the true effect of being in the real world where there are those who are indifferent and mean us no ill but do not mind using us as it suits them along with those that want us to be gone as they will do to all those who are not ‘them.’ Each of us wants to just be left alone, when we want to be alone, to be free.
    I did not just happen to leave out those who are ‘like us’ because there are none like us. You can know that from the survivors of the WWII Axis Powers; even Japan, Germany, Italy and France itself, who lost that war twice. They still are not like us, even though they have done better than just survive the biggest war the world has ever seen. Quite probably the last of that kind of war.
    Not the end of war nor the homogenization of the world either. We are all still human beings.

    Perhaps in the fewest words: We regain the spirit that made this country what it is, not just a something that some people say we are; which we must preserve for those who come after us. There is no ennui of the indolent on the frontier.

    Sorry, this ran on (I ran on) a little longer than I should have and have left a lot unsaid. I am tired and cannot edit further.
    But that was not at all a simple question.
    Thanks for asking.

  46. Perhaps in the fewest words: We regain the spirit that made this country what it is, not just a something that some people say we are; which we must preserve for those who come after us. There is no ennui of the indolent on the frontier.

    Well, in that case, since this war has been such a morale-booster, perhaps we should invade more countries! 😉

    Seriously, though, there is more to the invasion of Iraq than demonstrating our courage and determination, bucking the opinions of limp-wristed foreigners, and overthrowing a tyrant. There’s also the very messy part afterwards, which we’re currently in the middle of. Is that also worth it? Has that part also lifted our spirits and demonstrated that our collective penis is the biggest on earth?

  47. BTW, I acknowledge that there are some good arguments in favor of invading Iraq. I may not agree with those arguments in the end, but I acknowledge that they are good arguments worthy of consideration. I just don’t think that Dexter’s argument about national morale is one of them.

  48. Thoreau ::
    Ok.
    “…there is more to the invasion of Iraq than demonstrating our courage and determination, bucking the opinions of limp-wristed foreigners, and overthrowing a tyrant.”
    The war is a result of an attack. Perhaps that has no real effect on your thinking.
    Morale? You would clutch for that as the point?
    I guess what was said before that was too much for you, as it is too much for your response.
    There is no assumption that you will be convinced of anything; there is an reasonable expectation that you can respond to the points at least as differences.
    We live in the messy aftermath of the events of world history not just our own, that has created, not crushed, the American spirit. We are not in the middle of that — for 200 years we have been at the beginning. Perhaps that is too heady for you.
    Is that not something that can be seen happen in others as well? To persevere against barbarians ?
    You brush that aside and leave us with nothing.
    You give nothing at all to shore up your own guarded conclusions, let alone flesh out any criticism.
    How disappointing for all your cleverness.
    Sort of a “I guess some of that may be true; but I don’t like it.”
    Thanks.

  49. Dexter-

    I have no interest in rehashing the complete cases for and against invading Iraq, those dead horses have been flogged beyond recognition on this forum more times than I can count. I was responding to the particular rationale that you articulated in your post, and as far as I can tell (especially based on the summary that you offered) it involves us regaining the spirit that makes America what it is. Or something like that.

    When I think of good reasons to spend lots of money and lose the lives of soldiers, I generally think the priority should be placed on, say, WMD, alleged ties to terrorists, humanitarian concerns, issues of regional stability, etc. Simply regaining our morale or whatever is hardly enough.

    Besides, who says we didn’t boost our morale and image by invading Afghanistan? We overthrew a despotic regime that was directly and indisputably connected to the people who attacked us on 9/11. Say what you will about Iraq, but nobody can deny that invading Afghanistan was an appropriate response to 9/11.

    What I never understand is when people think it wasn’t sufficient with regard to sending a message. It may not have been sufficient with regard to actually removing the other threats out there (i.e. maybe the Taliban weren’t the only people to worry about), but it was definitely sufficient with regard to sending a message and proving that we can and will respond to terrorism with military force.

    So, whenever people say that we invaded Iraq to send a message, I always wonder why Afghanistan wasn’t enough of a message. Iraq may or may not have been necessary for other reasons, but sending a message didn’t seem to be one of them.

  50. thoreau:
    “…as far as I can tell (especially based on the summary that you offered) it involves us regaining the spirit that makes America what it is. Or something like that.”

    That sums up your initial response without much for expansion. But you only continue by expanding on an aspect you discount. Seems odd you would have it as your dead horse.
    I did not insert that sentence as a summary, it is interesting that you should choose to depict it as that; especially with the tag line ‘or something like that’.

    “…it was definitely sufficient with regard to sending a message and proving that we can and will respond to terrorism with military force.”
    Well, this is a different tack; but it is a straw man as you later demonstrate. I personally have no interest in ‘messages’ to an enemy; there is no need to give them some kind of warning if you have the resolve to wipe them from the face of the earth. There is no diplomacy with terrorism, their single message is clear. That is no argument of mine.
    If any message was sent, it was to those who do not have the stomach for more than doing what they can to either damage us or help them with the least effort on their part. Perhaps that is what you might like to discuss, since it seems that there has been indeed a practical understanding of the US position in the world notwithstanding some confusion here at home. As an aside: I am not particularly interested in whether they like it or not either, just that they face reality as must we all.

    To imply that there must be some intrinsic reason to separate the process into Afghanistan and then Iraq, you admit an error via a false dichotomy: OSB, the Taliban, Saddam, Arafat &c, these are all manifestations of the same thing. They are all mutations of the same disease. America was the first to strike a blow against what was before thought to be an impossible problem with unreachable foes, also something I pointed to in talking about Terrorism. They are not interested in a uniform conventional conflict because far and a sense of inadequacy are their main allies.

    You having managed now to avoid more than once a significant cause for all military actions America has taken here as I pointed to above: self-defense and hence survival, I presume that we shall not be pursuing those points as a bit to difficult. Ok. I don’t mind. I will stop here with this part, as you have supplied little to explore. I understand, if you do not feel personally threatened, since that is what started this whole thing off. Perhaps you should examine your involvement as a citizen if nothing else. The philosophical, ethical and moral issues are certainly more difficult than that, as they require working with carefully crafted generalizations and the appreciation of the interrelationship of many facts.
    Cheers.

  51. Thrashing al Qaeda and their Taliban allies, who were governing Afghanistan, made much sense. If the case had been made that Iraq was giving or had given aid and comfort to those who perpetrated attacks on the USA, then smiting them would be justified, too. That last bit is a matter of some contention, with the “no operational connection” side getting the better of it on current evidence. Even had we been convinced that Saddam and some jihadis were in cahoots regarding bombing our ships, embassies and/or the US proper, retaliation against him and his command structure, even his capture as a war criminal, could be justified, but taking on the job of remaking Iraqi society has been a giant exercise in hubris.

    Does anyone not think that on 9/12/2001, we couldn’t have cut a deal with Iraq, phasing out the sanctions in turn for a promise that Saddam would cool things while we pounded on the Taliban? Sure, he might break that piecrust when he got hungry, but a demonstration of what our forces could do in Afghanistan might give him pause.

    I await the arguments in favor of deposing the unjust rulers of China, which “also” has WMD’s.

    Kevin

  52. Is this a surprise? I was reading plenty of places before the invasion of Iraq that a democracy there would put religious leaders in power.

    It seems obvious. Even if the invasion had been a success, what in the heck was Bush thinking?

  53. kevrob::
    ” If the case had been made that Iraq was giving or had given aid and comfort to those who perpetrated attacks on the USA, then smiting them would be justified, too.”
    The case had been made; the action was taken; the justification was clear; opposed by no one until the attack was launched, by those who predicted abysmal failure, astronomical catastrophic losses and protracted intense hostilities throughout the country. People who were, and are, ignorant of the plans strategies and tactics but full of a righteousness that has not gone away as their nightmares vaporized around them. I find that to be an interesting study in itself.

    “… a matter of some contention, with the ‘no operational connection’….”
    is as significant as putting forth the idea that there are fundamental differences between partners in crime as if that is material to an act. That position is untenable and not viable in the face of a threat on one’s life then or now.
    Subsequent to the overthrow some assumptions have proven in error. Nothing new to that, nor is it complete as recent clarification of just French confoundments are being documented. The cintentions are academic.

    “…taking on the job of remaking Iraqi society has been a giant exercise in hubris.”
    is an interesting take on all that. The remark, itself, is a bit of hubris. It ignores all that has gone before as well as the realities in both countries. It presumes some ‘ultimate failure’, nothing more.

    “Does anyone not think that on 9/12/2001, we couldn’t have cut a deal with Iraq, phasing out the sanctions in turn for a promise that Saddam would cool things while we pounded on the Taliban? ”
    Not then or today: what is know now says that Saddam’s threats coupled with the covert support would have been horrific if the Clinton Policy had been pursued. Perhaps the question best be stated: Knowing what we know now, could any other moves have been made that could have given better results had there been any suggestions or supporters. Because there were none and it seems there still are none.
    Getting tossed out of Kuwait was not much of a twelve-step program for Saddam’s affliction.
    Indeed, we saw even more complicated global coalitions forming because of the poor follow-up through the 90s that certainly is not shown in what I have just read here.
    Nothing gives Terrorists any pause except detonation and death, theirs is not an intellectual exercise.
    You make your arguments to those who are no such threat, in complete comfort, that is not the real world.
    It is well for us that we have leaders who are not doing their thinking from the safety of bunkers with no one to answer to but a privileged inner circle. This is not a nation of ignorant peasants.

    Previous solutions to brush-fire wars that ignored the primary causes have been pretty much a failure, to continue in that manner shows a lack of desire to focus on responsibility at home and abroad. The good news is that the Terroristic method is getting its peak boost right now and can be met with overwhelming counter force.

    But I ask you, how can there be such eagerness to consider some question on the future if there is such an unsettling run-through of what is knowable from the past? Is it looking for the hasty response of ‘smoke ’em if you’ve got ’em’? so easily set aside as being from a hot-head? There must be some limit to what can be reasonably discussed. After all, some `problems’ just do not materialize, as any good engineer will be happy to point out to you, what cannot be measured cannot be built.
    All of this has been said before, elsewhere, better and in even more painful detail; but it does show what it is and that makes it ‘worth it.’
    Thanks.

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